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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Card Show Top 20 - #1 The Holy Grail of Commons

Here it is, The card you've waited four months to see. The absolute best card I picked up from the Freedom Cardboard show last February. IT's worth the wait. I've been looking for this dang thing for over 25 years. I've asked for it at card shops, I've looked for it at shows, I've been outbid online, and I finally found it. It's mine. All mine. The greatest common card in the history of baseball cards as far as I'm concerned. BEHOLD: The HOLY GRAIL OF COMMON CARDS:

Angels sing, etc..etc...

1963 Topps #126 Bob Uecker 

The immortal Bob Uecker in his only solo Braves card. His rookie was on a 1962 4-in-1 high number rookie card that is expensive as crap. His 1964 card has him in a Braves uniform but with Cardinals on the top of the card. If you want a Uecker Topps card as a Brave, this is it. And oh what a perfect card it is....

Bob in the standard batting pose. His face is a unique combination of intense focus and slack-jawed bewilderment. The Milwaukee M overlooks a perfect bill that is not too curved and not too flat. The Screaming Brave howls on Bob's sleeve. Follow catcher Del Crandall is seen in the background bird dogging chicks in the stands. The inset photo has bob in the crouch, displaying the freakishly large catcher's mitt necessary to receive a young Phil Niekro's knuckleballs. The bottom border is blue and red, Braves colors. Gorgeous.

I've wanted this card since the mid 80's. I probably first saw Ueck in a Miller Lite commercial. Ha ha! He's not sitting in the front row at all! Then Bob showed up on Mr. Belvedere and my interest was piqued. The dude from Mr. Belvedere probably had a baseball card! I had already tried looking for a football card of Webster's dad (name that player - you have five seconds!) why not get one of Ueck too. Somewhere along the line I found out he played for the Braves. Then Major League came out. MUST. HAVE. UECK. CARD.

Problem was, I couldn't find one. Back in the '80s I asked the old Atlanta Sports Cards if they had any Bob Uecker cards. The shopkeeps' reaction to my query was just about the same as if I had said "Ronald Reagan is an alien Lobsterman from the planet Voltron". I dropped the subject even though I could have sworn I saw a Euck card there once. I looked around other shops and shows and found nada. Granted, most of the '90s I was caught up in Insertmania and vintage was not in the forefront of my mind. The new century came and with it came eBay and Yahoo Auctions. I saw many auctions for Ueck cards. The problem is, the people who were online buying baseball cards at the time were just as big of a nerd as I was and really really wanted their Uecker cards too. Cards were going for over $10 a throw, which is kind of nuts for a '60s common*. When a card came in my price range it would inevitably get sniped. Even the reprint of the dang card went for six bucks. My usual tactic of scrounging through bargain boxes was not turning up any Ueckers at all, and he didn't end up in any star cases either. Before the show, the '63 Ueck was on my top 10 all-time wantlist along with the '54 Aaron and the '40 Play Ball Casey Stengel.

Then the card show happened. There's a vintage seller that has showed up to the past two big shows in Atlanta. We only get one every two or three years, but this guy showed up. Uncle.. something or other. Uncle Larry? Floyd? Jerry? Lumpy? I can't remember the name even though I tried to memorize it so I wouldn't forget it later. Uncle Somethin's vintage cards. The dude had a massive table - probably four or five tables to be accurate - with vintage binders piled three deep all across the tables. Two or three or four different books for every vintage Topps set filled with commons and stars. some pockets were three or four cards deep. Basically if you were looking for a common card and he didn't have it, then it just flat out wasn't your day. the cards in the binders were a tad pricey, but they were all in above average shape. On either end of the table were bargain boxes. One side had a dollar box that held very little of interest to me. the bargain boxes on the other side were much better. I found my only '53 Topps card in that box along with some other goodies. Before I cashed out I looked at all the binders. It finally clicked. UECK! HE'S GOTTA BE IN THERE SOMEWHERE! I checked the '63 Topps low number binder, flipped to the 120s... and THERE! UECK! THREE OF EM! One was $4, the other two $3.50. I snagged this one for three-fiddy. A dream - my dream - fulfilled for the price of a happy meal. I had found the Grail. And I didn't even have to get taunted by Frenchmen.

The Top 20 List:

#20 Reds' Heavy Artillery
#19 Blue MadDog
#18 Lil' Jimmy
#17 Real Fake '52
#16 First Topps
#15 Bogus Boog
#14 V103 Tree
#13 Sertoma Rico
#12 '55 Finishers
#11 Hey Shiny
#10 What the Dickens
#9 '60 Spahnnie
#8 Lonely '53
#7 Super Chief
#6 Original Frank
#5 Hoops Inspiration
#4 Rocket Robin
#3 Wizard Off Kilter
#2 Shenanigans Were Called
#1 The Holy Grail of Commons

* Yes, Bob Uecker is a common card by any definition of the word. The man has made an entire career out of being a common. That's why we love him.


Laurens said...

Alex Karras

Anonymous said...

humorously, I'm watching a Monty Python documentary right now

Eric L said...

"The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up."


"I knew when my career was over. In 1965 my baseball card came out with no picture."

I am now adding that card to my wantlist.

Greg Zakwin said...

Well, I've seen other uses for tree fiddy, but I think yours is the best use for it.


Scott Crawford said...

You done mighty good, dayf. Mighty good.

Clearly, while I love me some small local shows, I need to hit a big 'un soon. Maybe, by some cosmic accident, I'll actually be able to hit White Plains soon.

PunkRockPaint said...

I too have wanted that card since Mr. Belvedere. Impossible to find.

The second card I transmogrified in the Diamond Giveaway... The '62 high # Rookie Catchers card!

I get about twenty offers a day for it...

Not gonna happen. Not EVAR!

Unless, of course, someone offered a '63 Uecker (and a fuck-ton of Bip Roberts cards.)

Kevin said...

Congrats, dayf. I know that I was over the moon when I got his 1965 Topps, which features that trademark Uke sh!t-eating grin.

The last card show I went to, I found the legendary 1966 Topps Don Mossi in a dollar bin. I was all over it like ugly on 1991 Fleer.

GCA said...

That's Uncle Dick Decourcy (http://www.uncledickscards.com/) from NC. He's the go-to guy for vintage set building in my book. He's got stars, commons and high numbers at a few different price/condition levels to fit any collection or budget. Hell of a nice guy too...

Don said...

Congrats. Uke is a legend.

deal said...

I think the lone Phils Uecker is the 1967 Topps card. I suppose that is the king of Phils commons.

Thorzul said...

It just makes me very happy that you appreciate this card so much. I think you might be my "brother from another southern mother."