The downside to this is that on occasion you have to say goodbye to one of the greats before you've gotten an opportunity to really know them. Such is the case with Wes, most recently from the Area 40 blog. When I was a blog lurker, Wes's exploits and tales of generosity were often subjects of post from bloggers all around. He was one of the great collectors, and what separated him from most others was that he was eager to spread that joy of collecting whenever he could. The guy was a year long Santa Clause.
As many of you know, Wes decided to retire from the hobby. Rather than go quietly into that good night, he decided to go out with a bang and experience every card collector's greatest fantasy: an massive days-long pack-ripping extravaganza! As part of this orgy of cardboard, Wes decided to give away all the hits. Even more impressive (to me at least), he decided to donate all the base cards and inserts. (I don't think this part can be understated. We're talking thousands of cards here. I don't know where they'll go and how they'll be distributed, but I can't help but imagine the wide-eyes happiness some kids may get from such a donation. Wes may have created a few life long collectors from this act of kindness, and that is beautiful.)
As for the hits, which included serial numbered cards, relics, and autographs, Wes decided to make teams and lots available on a first come, first serve basis. I'm not going to lie, when he announced when claims could be made, I had his blog loaded on my phone and refreshed constantly. I was like a Black Friday bargain hunter camped outside a store on Thanksgiving night. I knew that if I was even 2 minutes late, that one of the many other Red Sox fans out there would have my team quickly snatched up. I managed to procure the Red Sox lot, as well as any Buffalo Sabres that may show up.
Wes's "grand opening" was truly epic, and it was amazing what he pulled from all those boxes and loose packs. It was fun to follow. No Red Sox or Sabres were revealed among the biggest hits, so I had to wait until my envelope arrived to see what goodies I ended up with.
I was lucky enough to end up with 6 cards, which I'll countdown by my own personal excitement ranking:
2008 Bowman Chrome - Prospects Refractor #BCP137 Yamaico Navarro (SN#500)
I don't focus on minor leaguers and prospects, so Bowman is not a set I usually target. At least Navarro eventually made it to Boston, playing 36 games with the Red Sox in 2010 and 2011.
2001 Topps - Gold #218 Victor Martinez (SN#2011)
A part of me was hoping I'd get a gold parallel from this year's set, but I can't complain about an All-Star catcher!
2002-03 O-Pee-Chee Premier #136 Rob Ray (SN#500)
The lone Sabre in the bunch, featuring fan-favorite Rob Ray. I actually like the alternate jersey!
2017 Donruss - Season Stat Line #62 Jackie Bradley Jr. (SN#26)
Each card in this insert set was serial numbered to the player's highlighted stat, in this case Jackie's 26 home runs. The SN#26 was one of the smaller print runs in the set.
2008 Topps Moments & Milestones #102-49 Mike Lowell (SN#150)
If I ever start a player collection, Mike Lowell would get serious consideration. Besides being a Red Sox All Star and World Series MVP, he's also a fellow cancer survivor and once played in my hometown's summer league.
2004 Topps Clubhouse Collection #NG Nomar Garciaparra (MEM, T2)
A sweet Nomar Garciaparra bat relic! Am I the only one amused by the layout? It looks like Nomar is farting out the relic. Maybe Garciaparra need to cut back on the fiber?
Thanks again, Wes. You'll be missed among the blog-o-verse. Whatever the future holds, I wish you luck and happiness.