It started on February 19th...
On 2/18 I offered up pretty much everything I had redeemed to that point for Lemmers. Some chump accepted my trade of a 1994 Mark Lemke card for a 1993 Chris Nabholz the next day. A few days later, I swapped '93s - a Lemke for Tim Naehring. I created the Naehring trade offer a couple of minutes before the Nabholz offer so that one counts as my 'first' trade even though it was executed five days later.
The Naehring was actually the third trade I make for a Lemke. Some guy out of the blue offered me this 1996 Lemke for my 2003 Fat Toad. I can't remember who it was, but it was probably a reader who noticed me pull the Irabu and felt sorry for me.
There was one more trade in February. I unloaded my 2009 Chris Carpenter for Lemke's last appearance in a Topps set. There is an Upper Deck card out there with Lemmer as a Red Sock, but I'm glad Lemke only appeared as a Brave in the Topps Flagship. This might be the first trade that seems overly weighted towards the guy sending out Lemke. There are more to come, and I really didn't care what I gave up for Mark. I was on a Quest.
Two more lopsided trades. I ripped off those guys so bad they probably abandoned card collecting completely and took up macramé. The 1987 Ozzie Smith that I was getting trade offers right and left for Netted me the 1991 Lemmer. Then three days later I flipped a lousy old Cub for his 1990 card. I could see my plan coming together.
It soon became harder and harder to trade for Mark. I next hit paydirt in April, but I had to do a 2-for-1 deal. A 1983 Bob Shirley card that I had been offering to anyone for anything plus the Kevin Bass '87 Topps card I got from Night Owl netted the 1992 Lemke. By the first week of the baseball season, I had 70% of Lemmer's Topps cards in my virtual collection. Things took a turn for the worse.
The Lemkes I needed were harder to find than the T206 Big 4. Topps started showing the total number of cards available in the trade listings and the onces I needed had hardly any cards redeemed. And even if one was redeemed, it didn't mean that it would be traded. Some users had probably abandoned the site, or not bothered to check for trades, or could have even been a Lemke fanitic like myself. No matter what the reason, I wasn't getting any bites at all on anything. Finally in Mid-June the 1987 George Brett that got me at least 100 trade offers by himself was finally traded for the 1997 Mark Lemke. Only two to go.
A couple of weeks later I added the 1995 Lemke. The CHAMPION Lemke. I had gotten bored with having my Lemmer offers ignored so I started fooling around and trading for random Braves and cards of the two players who share my name. I also had a 1971 Dave Campbell in my collection so it was easy to part with this one for the coveted Lemke.
After this... there was nothing. For months, nothing. the population of 1989 Mark Lemkes was exactly 1. I had offered every single non-Lemke card I ever had in my collection for even a minute for that card and not one offer was accepted. Frustration turned to ennui, which evolved into apathy. Whoever had that Lemke just wasn't giving it up or had not logged in since February. I gave up on redeeming codes and making offers, I just wasn't going to get that card and inexplicably Topps wasn't handing out any cards form the most overproduced set they ever made. Then one day, someone tipped me off. I think it might have been Play at the Plate, but I'm not sure. Topps had given out A SECOND LEMMER ROOKIE. Hope was rekindled.
I quickly created 12 trades and basically offered every card in my collection that wasn't a Brave. All twelve offers were ignored. Oh great. Another non-trader, perfect. I decided to up the ante one last time before going all out and offering every damn card I had for the thing. Finally, I had made an offer that could not be refused:
1961 Topps Ken Hunt for 1989 Topps Mark Lemke
A rookie for a rookie, fair trade. Sure, Ken was the oldest card I redeemed. I offered that card up in trade probably three dozen times and no one wanted it. I've picked up plenty of 1961 commons here and there out of quarter and dime boxes anyway. I didn't want the Hunt. I DESPERATELY wanted the Lemmer. And now it was mine. All mine! MUAHAHAHA!!!!
And now: my complete virtual set of Mark Lemke Topps cards.
Oh how sweet it is. It only took from 2-19 to 9-12. And yes, I totally plan on paying to have these shipped. i only wish they could have a little "Million Card Giveaway" logo stamped on them to commemorate my victory.