Thursday, May 5, 2016

An excellent run of regionals

Back in February I managed to pick-up a 1995 Oh Henry! Blue Jays team set. To say the least, this was a coup, because that set has been hard as hell to locate, and I found it because I had nothing better to do than search many pages deep into some Google results. Just typing that reinforces how crazy good Google is, that I, and most people, probably don't often venture 2 or 3 pages deep looking for results.

Anyway, picking up the 1995 Carter, left me one short of what I would consider an excellent run of regionals. Specifically, I'm talking about the 1996 Oh Henry! Joe Carter card. Late last year, a 1996 set showed up on eBay but somebody binned it before I ever saw the auction. Earlier this year, another set showed up on eBay, but it too was spoken for before I had time to pull the trigger. But, it seems, luck was on my side. A few weeks ago, Seth posted a comment on the blog about having a 1996 Oh Henry set for sale ... we exchanged a couple emails, a deal was reached, and pow, just like that, a 1996 set lands in my mailbox. No late night Google searches, no hard fought eBay auctions, none of that. Just some cordial email, a transaction and poof!

So here, for your viewing pleasure, running down the right side of this post, I've got a run of Carter cards that I'm pretty thrilled about.

The first three cards are from the 1991, 1992 and 1993 "fire safety sets". Team issues that were produced by the Ontario Association of Fire Chief's. As a kid we always believed these sets were handed out at fire stations around Ontario, but I have no proof of that, in fact. Often they were produced as a joint effort with the Blue Jays and some other company, such as the Toronto Sun newspaper, Becker's variety store, etc.

If you've been around this blog long enough, you'll know that I love these fire safety sets. They are often very low quality cards, but they are everything a regional should be...unique photos, obscure players, questionable design choices, tough to get your hands on, etc.

In 1994 things changed. I have no idea why, but the Ontario Association of Fire Chief's stopped producing these sets, and Oh Henry! got involved. And they became SGAs at select Blue Jays games. If I was a more dedicated blogger, I'd have taken the time to nail down the exact dates as part of this blog post -- that'd be interesting to know right? Spoiler alert -- I'm a terrible blogger, so we're all going to be left guessing!

Given what happened in 1994 with the baseball stike, and the subsequent decline in baseball attendance until 1999 when Sosa and McGwire were making headlines, you can well imagine how tough these Oh Henry issues are to track down.

Persistence and dumb luck has paid off, though. The last 4 cards in this run -- 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 -- are all Oh Henry issues given out at stadiums. The 1997 sets are actually quite easy to locate, it's the earlier three that are tough. I picked them up in year order, but I'm not sure which I would say is actually more difficult. I guess I don't have to worry about it now ;)

From 1994-2001, these sets continued to be distributed as a joint effort with Oh Henry, and they were all given out at Blue Jays games. The 1997, 1998 and 1999 sets can be found on eBay with relative ease, with 1997 probably being the more difficult of the three. And then there's the 2000 and 2001 sets. I've collected Jays cards for years, and I can think of maybe 2 instances where I've seen these sets for sale in their entirety (and that was in the past month). I no longer collect Blue Jays cards, but almost bought those two sets just on principle.

The Blue Jays did one final SGA team set in 2002 before taking a 10 or so year hiatus from producing/distributing these sets. That set, to be honest, is probably my favourite. It doesn't contain Joe Carter as his Blue Jays days were long over by then, but it is my favourite design of all of the sets, and it's at least as difficult as the 2000 and 2001 sets. I've only ever seen it for sale once and I bought it (and still have it, I think).

Anyway, there you have it -- 7 years of what I consider to be a very awesome "subset" within the Joe Carter collection.

On a side note, you may also notice that in addition to removing the 1996 Oh Henry! card from my 'Level of Excellence', I also eliminated the 1994 UD Collector's Choice gold card. I already had this card once for my set, but wanted a second for my player collection and picked it up off of eBay last week.

The remaining 5 cards on that list will probably still be there next year, but I can't complain having knocked out the other 5 in the first 5 months of the year.

Thanks for reading!

Richard.