Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year with Shoebox Legends

Over the past year, I've started keeping a new binder. The label on the binder is called "Random Cards I Like," and I started it because I did not have a good place to put cards that weren't Brewers. So, stuff like the Malcolm Mitchell printing plate that Wes/JBF sent me went in there, as did the T206 and the John Norwood Bowman parallel that Kenny/Zippy Zappy sent. 

I was not expecting that I would add tons of cards to this binder, but a recent package that I received has led me to reevaluate that position. Shane from Shoebox Legends sent me a PWE that, at first, looked like any other PWE. It had some protective cards, and behind those were, of course, Brewers.

Let's see those first:

This is already an incredibly fantastic PWE. I have no grievances with a PWE that features a 1994 Pinnacle Museum Collection card -- especially of the late Darryl Hamilton. Being an optimist, I see any PWE with a 1995 Bazooka card of Dave Nilsson as half full. Then, including the 2007 Bowman Heritage Carlos Corporan in that PWE -- sometimes I wonder how much you guys read these wantlists/wishlists on my website, but this card showing up shows me Shane probably did.

But it seems very unlikely that a high-number short-print from Topps Heritage of anyone -- not just Ryan Braun -- would find its way to me. That just makes me smile.

If Shane had stopped to take a breath here, he would have been nearly marked for immortality. 

Can anyone other than Shane figure out where this is going?

You all know I love music. I've probably mentioned once or twice that I have a few real favorites. One of those real favorites is Pearl Jam, who have put out songs called "Grievance," "1/2 Full," "Wishlist," "Smile," "Breath," and "Immortality." Yes, it is a contrived way to write a post, but sometimes you have to go with it because it makes sense.

Eddie Vedder is a big baseball fan -- very much a Cubs fan, of course, with his Chicago upbringing. This past summer, they played two shows at Fenway Park and followed it up two weeks later with two shows at Wrigley Field. In conjunction with these two shows, Pearl Jam put out some baseball cards. Shane apparently got a pack or two and shared these with me:

Hawaiian Boom Gaspar joined Pearl Jam as an unofficial member in 2002. Even though he has played on tour with the band and recorded with the band continually since that time, he still is not listed as an official member for whatever legal reasons that may be involved. Of course, after 15 years, he's "basically" a member. I remember when he really was added -- on Riot Act -- and one of the songs that really features him is "Love Boat Captain," which dealt with the Roskilde tragedy:

This is a song that has really grown on me. When it was new, I wasn't really keen on it. But, the lyrics really make the song. Once I learned the lyrics and heard the message, it really grabbed me. Fifteen years later, it grabs me more.

Matt Cameron has been Pearl Jam's drummer since 1998 after Jack Irons (originally of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) left the band due to what Irons's Wikipedia biography called Irons's dissatisfaction with touring. Cameron had worked with Pearl Jam before in the band Temple of the Dog thanks to his work as Soundgarden's drummer. Every so often, Pearl Jam will play the song -- sometimes joined by Chris Cornell as happened in September of 2011 at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin:

Damn Chris Cornell can still wail.

Vedder had to love the opportunity to hit the cages in both Chicago and Boston. If you know the history of Pearl Jam, you probably know that Vedder was living in San Diego working part-time at a gas station when he got a demo tape from his basketball buddy Jack Irons -- there's Jack again. Vedder laid down the vocal tracks to what has been called in the PJ lore as the Momma-Son trilogy: "Alive," "Once," and "Footsteps."

Both "Alive" and "Once" made PJ's debut album, Ten. "Footsteps," however, ended up as a B-side and eventually made its way onto the Lost Dogs album.

A far more detailed story on this whole backstory is available at Two Feet Thick, a Pearl Jam fansite. Pearl Jam has some of the most loyal fans around -- people who buy everything in site and go to all the shows. The band rewards its fan club members in the Ten Club with preferred seating in the front rows of each venue along with Christmas bonus vinyl and early availability of bootlegs from the soundboard recordings. That website is quite the deep dive, but it is not uncommon in the Pearl Jam world.

Mike McCready helped Pearl Jam to form thanks to his friendship with Stone Gossard. McCready was in a Seattle band called Shadow which broke up in 1988. He got disenchanted with being in a band and went to community college for a while before seeing a Stevie Ray Vaughan concert and getting back into playing guitar.

The story behind "Reach Down" is that it was written as part of the Temple of the Dog sessions that McCready, Gossard, and Ament (and later Vedder) took part in with Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron. McCready was playing a solo for this song in the studio -- and it was epic. Over four minutes long, and McCready lost his headphone monitor midway through the he had no idea what the backing track sounded like while playing. 

Without Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, there would be no Pearl Jam, of course. And if Andrew Wood, the lead singer of Gossard's and Ament's previous band Mother Love Bone, had not overdosed on heroin, there would also be no Pearl Jam.

The song that Pearl Jam plays to serve tribute to Andrew Wood and Mother Love Bone is Chloe Dancers/Crown of Thorns. I got to see the band play this song with their regular producer, Brendan O'Brien, at a show here in Atlanta at Lakewood Amphitheater in 2003. O'Brien lives here in Atlanta, and as a result (and as Eddie Vedder noted in the 2001 show here at Philips Arena), the band is very familiar with my town. 

These cards are just awesome. The huge smile on my face as I opened this envelope was evident to my wife -- she actually asked what it was that I was looking at that put such a big smile on my face. After trying to convince her that it was because she was in my office -- it was a valiant effort -- I showed her these cards. She knows I'm a huge Pearl Jam fanboy, or at least used to be. 

I've thought about trying to collect the full sets of these cards. It looks like it may be a bit expensive, though doable. There are full sets available from one seller for both Chicago and Boston on eBay -- the cost to get both would be about $350 though. I think I'll stick with just the great cards that Shane sent.

Happy New Year to y'all, and here's to a better year than 2016 for everyone -- even if 2016 was your best year ever.


  1. I've said it before... Those cards really make me wish I liked Pearl Jam. A nice package from Shane!

  2. Happy New Year. & don't call me daughter.

  3. Glad you enjoyed them as much as I thought you would Tony! Awesome music selection throughout the post, though can you really go wrong? I completed the entire Boston set (couple packs I bought at the Fenway shows myself and the rest off eBay). I think I have a few more dupes around I can send you in a future PWE. Also have a few unopened packs of the Wrigley cards on my shelf for a rainy day so I'll keep you in mind if I get dupes out of those as well, whenever I get around to opening them.

    Happy New Year!

  4. Those Pearl Jam cards are absolutely and utterly fantastic. Baseball AND one of my favorite bands mixed with trading cards - I need to get me some of those. I believe there's even a Cubs edition of that set that was distributed at their Wrigley shows. I must get to tracking.

    Also, it looks as though Hamilton is being blinded by the light in that Museum Collection parallel!

  5. those cards are fantastic!!

    i've been a huge PJ fan for a long time...very cool collection to have!

  6. Everything about this wonderful! Happy 2017!