Thursday, January 31, 2019

OUTSIDE THE BOX - Negro Leagues Centennial Team Postcard Set

One of the really exciting aspects of the card collecting hobby is the explosion of the online element. Don't get me wrong, I love the in-person component - and find it to be an essential part of collecting, but there are just so many different things that can be explored, discovered, chased....and bought online.

I have my "hobby favourites" when it comes to those people or collections that I can admire from a distance on social media.  Just a few of the names that come to mind are Tim Carroll and his cut up baseball cards, Ryan Cracknell and his fun, enthusiastic approach to collecting, Shane Katz and his awesome Topps Binder Project as well as his sweet oddball finds, and Graig Kreindler with his absolutely jaw-dropping baseball art.

Craig's work is tremendous.  The patience and time he takes to perfect his numerous works of art are truly mind boggling, the detail in some of the scenes are head shaking and the essence of the day and the spirit of the subject(s) is definitely captured.  I've been a big fan of his for years and hope to one day pull the trigger on an original piece.

In the meantime though, I've found a terrific slice of Graig Kreindler art to get me by.....and it also quenches my card collecting thirst.

What you see here are 34 postcards commemorating the Negro Leagues Centennial Team (1920-2020).  Each one a "study" of an iconic name in an important part of the baseball story.

The detail in these pieces are fantastic and the scans don't do them justice.

This is the box cover.  As you can see, the collection is limited to just 2,020 sets and I was thrilled to have landed one.

I had noticed a tweet sent out by Graig shortly before Christmas indicating that the Negro League Museum had been working with him to commission this set.  Pre-orders were underway and I raced to the website to get my place in line.

I noticed quickly that due to me living in Canada, my order was unable to be processed.  Once again, social media to the rescue.  Within moments of sending my query to the museum, Jay Caldwell responded and said he would look into things.  Long story short, my order was placed within the hour.

Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige

When my package arrived shortly into the new year I was absolutely stoked with the quality of the set.  The postcards have a beautiful sheen to them and are perfectly cut.  The simple framing on the front just add the perfect amount of class to the cards.

Roy "Campy" Campanella

The backs have a great writeup about the player along with some personal information.  No stats though, but that's ok.......there's lots of room to type up a quick note, slap a stamp on it and mail away.

Joshua "Josh" Gibson

If I had the slimmest of beefs, it would be to have the cards printed on a canvas card stock (kind of like what Upper Deck does with the Series I & II Canvas cards).  That would've taken the things to the ultimate.  But make no mistake, these are literally stunning works of art.

James Thomas "Cool Papa" Bell

I'll admit, I still haven't really....REALLY spent the time to fully immerse myself in these cards.  I mean c'mon, just peer into those eyes for a moment.  What would be going through his mind?  What was his life like at that moment?  Where had he been and where was he going?


Graig has put together arguably the greatest set of Negro League cards out there - period.  And yes, I've picked up other sets in the past, but these paintings are just a special notch above.

John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil, Jr.

The last pic I'll share is of one of my all-time favourite baseball players, the great Buck O'Neil.  Every time I hear his name or see his picture, I immediately think of the fantastic clips he provided in the iconic Ken Burns documentary series 'Baseball'.  He just had a genuine voice that I appreciated a great deal.  His storytelling ability is tops on my list.

One of the books on my 'to read' list this year is The Soul Of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America.  I can only imagine the "pictures" that he will paint in my mind.

Thank you again Jay for your help in getting me this set and thank you Graig for producing some incredible pieces of art.  For those who are interested in picking up these postcards, I believe there are still some available from the Negro League Museum store.