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Monthly Mailbag - January 2023

This year has started out with a BANG! I have been able to add 53 new cards to the collection this month and the majority of those came in one epic mail day! Each of the cards in the gallery below could have made for an amazing mail day in their own right. But combining all of them into one single acquisition is nearly unbelievable! Opening the package I received from my friend, Michael, I pulled these cards out one-by-one and thought, "Man, this card is amazing!" That thought echoed with each and every one of these cards; several of which have been at the top of my want list for quite some time. A big THANK YOU goes out to him for allowing me to add these to my collection!

As if that epic mail day wasn't enough, I was also able to add these cards to the collection this month:

1995 SP Top Prospects - Promos #22 (Missing Promo Stamp). This is a card that I didn't even know existed until it surfaced on ebay. And like I've learned over the years, the time to buy something is when you see it - especially if it is the first time seeing it after all these years. This card is just like the Promo card that was given out to dealers with the exception of the missing stamp on the back indicating it is a promotional card.

1998 Pinnacle - Power Pack Jumbos Sample #24. Just like the card above this one, I didn't even know this card existed until I saw it on ebay. I had never seen one before and it doesn't appear on any checklist that I've ever used. This card is a "jumbo" so it is larger than a standard trading card. The large size of the card keeps it from being one of my favorites, but I'm definitely happy to add it to the collection because I don't think there are very many of them out there.

1998 Topps Tek - Pattern 62 #88. Yes, another Tek has been added to the collection this month! With the addition of this card, I am now at 70 of the 90 total patterns available for this release. I'm hoping to make more progress on this set this year, ideally I'll be able to find the last 20 that I need. But these just don't show up very often for sale and recently it seems if they do pop up, it is for a pattern that I already have.

1999 Topps Tek - Pattern 18 #22A. I only needed a few of these patterns to complete the Tek run for 1999 and with the addition of this one, I'm down to just needing two more. I should be able to finish this run this year. Perhaps once I put it to bed, I'll focus a little more on the Gold parallels that show up for sale. That'll be another huge undertaking. Though I don't think it would be quite as tough as tracking down all of the 89 patterns of Diffractors from the 1998 set.

2004 Donruss Timeless Treasures - Rookie Year Materials Number #RY-26, SN17. When this card surfaced with a "buy now" option for less than the cost of lunch, it was a no-brainer for me. Not only is it a card from 2004 (which there are nearly 900 different Rolen cards from that year alone) but it is also serial numbered 17/17 - Rolen's jersey number. Which is also represented on the front of this card in the cutout for the game-used jersey!

2004 Upper Deck Power Up - Stickers #PU-3. Talk about a tough card to track down! These cards are incredibly thin, they were designed to be removable stickers, and they have an area on the front for collectors to scratch off to play the power up game. I'm certain a great deal of these found themselves tossed into the trash and not actually collected as cards. But you know me and my collection, I had to have one because it features Scott on the card!

2005 Donruss Zenith - Z-Silver #96. This card comes to me by way of a fellow collector, Chris Kraft. He reached out to me on Facebook and said that he had a couple of cards that I was missing from my collection. After talking for a bit about the 2005 Donruss Zenith cards, we started talking about the nearly impossible to find Z-Gold cards. They were a Retail only release, paralleling the entire 250 card checklist, and they were inserted at a rate of 1:18 packs. The thing that makes them sneaky tough is the fact that they look nearly identical to the base cards. The main difference is the gold foil used. The base cards have a dull gold foil (where this one pictured here has silver foil) and the Z-Gold parallels use a holographic shiny gold foil. So the fact that they look so much like the base cards, combined with the fact that they were a Retail exclusive parallel, equals TOUGH to find! If you have a Rolen Z-Gold, or know where one might be, please reach out to me and let me know! Even if you have a Z-Gold that isn't Rolen, but is anyone from the Cleveland Indians, please let me know and I'll get you in touch with Chris!

2005 Donruss Zenith - Artist's Proofs Silver #96. This is the other card Chris sent to me. As great as this card looks in this scan, it looks so much better in person. As a big time fan of 90s cards and the Dufex technology used back then, this card just oozes with that nostalgic look of Dufex. The way the light bounces off of the card differently at different angles is mesmerizing. It really makes the card pop and holds your interest longer than just a plain cardboard card for sure!

2007 Snap MLB Trade Up #NNO. If there is anything I enjoy as much as shiny 90s cards, it is oddball stuff. This card certainly qualifies as an oddball. It was released in 2007 by Snap TV Games as part of a board game. I might try to find a copy of the game so that I have the rules and gain some knowledge on the giant number two on the front of the card. Here is a little info I found about the game:

MLB Trade Up is designed for two teams, the game is played with a custom set of baseball cards, categorized with five point rankings. Kids manage their teams of all-stars and compete against their friends to build a powerhouse lineup. Initially kids are randomly dealt a full line-up of cards. These cards are comprised of top MLB players arranged in 7 power ranks based on actual MLB statistics. The initial hand contains a full lineup of players, and each team trades up their players by successfully answering questions and completing a series of DVD challenges. This enables each team to build a stronger team each turn. With teams built, players then face off in the ultimate trading card all-star challenge, the head-to-head World Series game begins on the MLB Trade-Up Stadium Game board. Winner takes all!

2022 Topps Chrome Black - Autographs Refractors #CBA-SR, SN150. I was finally able to snag one of these at a good price. Like most things produced these days, there seems to be no end to the number of parallels. This refractor looks great in person though! And of course Topps killed it with the overall design, on-card auto, and it came in it's one magnetic one-touch. That is a lot of winning in my book!

1998 Topps Tek - Diffractors Pattern 23 #88. Not only was I able to add another Topps Tek to the collection this month, but I was also able to add this beauty to the collection as well! This is the Diffractor parallel that is highly coveted amongst 90s collectors. They weren't serial numbered, but many collectors believe there are as few as 10 or 20 copies available of each pattern of each player in the 90 card set. With as tough as these are to come by, I tend to believe they are on the lower end of that guesstimate. I still need far too many of these to count, but I'll happily add them to the collection every chance I get!

1998 Topps Tek - Diffractors Pattern 79 #88. What is this? Another Diffractor this month? Yes, yes it is! As luck would have it, the guy who I got the Diffractor pattern 23 above from, just so happened to have this one in his collection as well. He made me a deal on this one that I just simply could not refuse, so this one came along with the other one to join the rest of them in my collection! Could I be so lucky as to add another one of these to the collection this year?

2004 MLB Showdown Pennant Run #65 AS, FOIL. This one enters my collection this month from the same collector I purchased four other MLB Showdown cards from last month. He reached out to me on Facebook and said he recently acquired this one and asked if I still needed it. A quick check of my checklist indicated that I did still need it, so he sent it my way! Thanks again for the smooth transaction!

1998 Topps Tek - Pattern 1, Pattern 13, and Pattern 58. I was able to add three more Tek cards to the collection late this month! All from the same seller on Such a great site to pick up inexpensive singles! With the addition of these three, I'm down to needing the final 17 patterns to complete the 90 pattern run for Rolen!

2004 Fleer E-X - Essential Credentials Future #33 and Essential Credentials Now #33. These two cards are unique in the fact that they are both missing the serial number stamping on the backs of them. Call them "backdoor", call them "bankruptcy", whatever you call them, I knew I needed them in my collection when I saw them surface. Some collectors shy away from adding these kinds of cards to their collection because they weren't "pack issued". But me, I like them!

2022 Stadium Club - Autographs Black Foil #SCBA-SR, SN25. I was able to add this Black Foil parallel to the collection this month for a very fair price. While the Black isn't my favorite of the parallels, I do enjoy the fact that these are limited to just 25 copies. Speaking of which, this one happens to be 17/25 - Rolen's jersey number when he was playing with the Phillies. I used to never really care about which serial number a card was, but I must admit, getting a jersey numbered card, kind of adds to the appeal. It's like a chase within the collecting of the cards. Would I have enjoyed any of the 25 different serial number offerings? Yes. But I like this one just a little more.

1998 Pacific Aurora - Pennant Fever Red #17. Another red foil beauty from Pacific! True to form, these red parallels were offered in retail only at a rate of 1:4 packs. So while they aren't rare, per se, they can be somewhat difficult to track down, especially in good shape. The foil on the front of these running along the edges are oftentimes chipped up. I love these cards and the details that went into them. You can see here, in the foil behind the Aurora logo, the same picture that is on the front of the card of Rolen swinging the bat. Sure, they could have used plain red foil or etched foil, but they didn't! They etched the image into the foil. Nice touch, Pacific! Nice touch indeed.

I'm hoping to be able to keep this hot streak going into next month, but I'm certain I will never be able to top the single most epic mail day ever with the cards I got from Michael this month! I may have to take another look at my want list this year. There are a handful of cards out there that I would really like to track down and add to the collection. I don't really have any hard and fast goals for this year, but I do believe that I need to focus my energy, time, and funds, on cards that really "WOW" me.

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