Random Top Loader - Greg Maddux 1995 Select Artist Proof

I’ve written only one of these before, randomly selecting a 2005 Bowman Chrome Vinny Rottino Red Refractor as the inaugural “Random Top Loader” post. My hopes were that it would trigger a series of quick-to-write stories, since everything seems to take two weeks now. But life got all lifey again this Summer and continuing through now, so I'm far behind the pace I wanted to maintain. 

Anyway...  The premise is simple, using my old box of Dungeons & Dragons dice, I’d choose a single card from my boxes of team-sorted Top Loaders. Starting by selecting a team that I’d pick a card, from one of the 30 franchises. Which would be accomplished with a roll of a 30-sided die.

On this occasion, I rolled a 12 (not  27, as pictured).

Then, I would consult my handy dandy chart that I made when I came up with this idea:

A roll of 12 means I have to choose an Atlanta Braves (Booooooo!) card from the boxes of Top Loaders. 

But which one?

In order to determine that, I’d add up all the Braves in Top Loaders cards in the box, then pick the correct combination of dice to represent each of the Braves cards in the box. 

As of the time I rolled the dice, I had 22 Atlanta Braves cards in the Top Loader box. So I should choose 1 ten-sided die, and 2 six-sided dice, which equals 22. I roll those three dice together and add up the total. Which ended up being 14. 

So the card I’d be covering would be the 14th Atlanta Braves card I have in my Top Loader box.

And that card would be:

And here’s the back:

Guess that means I’ll be talking about the 1990’s Atlanta Braves. One of my least favorite subjects in baseball. I’m absolutely NOT a Braves fan. One cannot be a die-hard Montreal Expos fan and have anything but a permanent loathing towards the Atlanta Braves. And while it’s mellowed a tad over the last decade, I still strongly really dislike the Braves.

That being said, of all the Atlanta Braves of the mid-1990’s, Greg Maddux was probably the one I hated the least. I have to admit that watching Maddux pitch was always good television. With TBS doing the Braves (and WGN covering the Cubs), I had some options for catching Montreal Expos games on TV, both in Minnesota and Colorado. Since Braves games were always on TBS, I got to see Maddux pitch a lot. (Though, never in person.) 

Maddux was an artist on the mound. His games were always fun to watch, even as I rooted for him to lose. The rest of the Braves pitching staff annoyed me. From watching Tom Glavine getting strikes called on pitches 18 inches off the plate, to just this guy’s existence...

Two words for you Smoltz... Jack Morris.

I don’t even like him on commentary during games. Nothing personal, I just don’t like the Braves. 

And Smoltz is absolutely a Brave.

Okay, I can tolerate him on MLB Network. He's better than O'Dowd!

Even when Atlanta’s star catcher of the 1990’s wrapped his career up with the Colorado Rockies, I couldn’t like him due to all those years in Atlanta. Threw out too many possible Montreal base stealers.

And then there’s Chipper...

A friend of mine once commented about hating Chipper Jones. I was never a fan, but I asked him why?

“He’s the Troy Aikman of baseball.”

I don’t follow or even like football, but I understood that premise loud and clear.

At least that’s a pretty cool insert card.

But none of this has anything to do with this card:

Artist Proof parallels came in at 1 in 24 packs. Each Hobby box had 24 packs inside, so at one per box, Artist Proofs were your 1995 Select box hit. 

Since 1995 Select has been bleached out of Beckett for over 20 years, let’s see what the newly purchased 2020 Beckett Almanac (excellent book review) has to say about Artist Proofs:

Stars are 30X the listed "book value" of the base cards. Meaning that Maddux, who books for 75 cents (is that all?), is valued at $22.50 for the Artist Proof parallel. 

And that’s kinda weak compared to 25 years ago...

While I’m sure that today there are very few collectors that care about these cards, 1995 Select Artist Proofs were a big thing in the hobby in 1995 and 1996. They were fairly hard to find on the secondary market back then, with commons easily fetching $5 per card, with stars tabbed at significantly more. I would pick up singles of players I liked when I could find them, and picked up a couple of boxes just for the reason of trying to acquire an Artist Proof star.

It helped that I really liked the set.

Except you A-Rod!

Funny, 25 years ago, I was a huge fan of Alex Rodriguez and was actively chasing his base and insert cards, regardless of set. Then his head got bigger than the game. Literally and figuratively. While not as blatant as Bonds, A-Rod knows what he did. As did Major League Baseball. Losing close to 2 seasons in suspensions for steroid use was one thing, rumors of that going back to 1994 is another. I don’t trust his statistics and the man comes across as one of the most fake and disingenuous people in all of professional sports today. I don’t want to hear him calling games on ESPN or Fox, and I absolutely did not want him owning the New York Mets.

Go away A-Rod!

Just leave and go count your money and stay away from baseball.

But at the time 1995 Select came out, I was excited by what his talent brought to the games, and pictured him partnering with this guy to lead the Seattle Mariners out of perpetual joke territory.

Why is Ken Griffey Jr. bunting?

And looking like he's doing it wrong?

Well, Select likes pictures of players bunting! 

Like pitchers practicing bunting.

To batters who excelled at bunting. With a bunch of cars behind him!

And Batting Cage shots!

Which is good news! Because in addition to providing a safe space for athletes to work on their bunting skills, there's plenty of net in 1995 Select!

For Rich Becker to lean on...

For Roberto Kelly to hit inside...

And so on and so on and stuff and things.

Let me try to wrap this up before I go and scan 73 more cards.

Back in the mid-1990's, the St. Paul Pioneer Press used to run a Sports Collectibles quarter page feature, in the Thursday newspaper. Anchored by the weekly Shinders coupon, it would also include ads for upcoming local card shows and private buy/sell ads. 

Say... There's a card show coming to the Columbia Arena! I bet I went to that!

The 1995 Select box that contained the Maddux was purchased at the Blaine Shinders. For some reason, that store's phone number does not appear on the coupon, amongst the other locations. I did use a Shinders coupon on that box, but it wasn't this coupon. This would have been for 1995 SP. I did not buy any of those boxes at Shinders. 1995 SP came from Coaches Corner!

I'm getting way too off topic and turning an intended short post into another long one. So let's get back around to the Greg Maddux Artist Proof card.

Oh, I gotta cover one more thing about 1995 Select, first...

While Maddux was arguably the greatest pitcher of the 1990’s, the pitcher of 1995 was the Dodgers Japanese import, Hideo Nomo.

Since he debut in the middle of the 1995 season, which started late due to the strike, Nomo wasn’t included in the 1995 Select set. Instead, Pinnacle Brands printed up a bunch of Nomo cards (and Artist Proof parallels), then distributed them to dealers, based on how much 1995 Select product they ordered. While not too tough to find, you'll never get the 1995 Select Hideo Nomo rookie card out of a pack. Which is pretty interesting...

But this is about Greg Maddux!

Baseball likely won’t see a starting pitcher pile up the wins like Maddux, ever again. With 355 wins, he ranks 8th all time in Major League Baseball history. (Thankfully one more than Roger Clemens.) Teams don’t use pitchers the way they used to in years past, with most starting pitchers lucky to throw 6 innings in a game. They just don't stick around long enough to pile up the wins needed to reach 300+.

Even though I hated watching his team win, Maddux games were incredibly fun to watch. I've always been a big fan of pitching, and Maddux was one of the best I've ever seen. 

Even if it was for the Atlanta Braves.

It's REALLY hard to write about a team you don't want to write about...

Stupid 30 sided dice...


Oh, and another thing...

A couple of weeks ago, I was back at my parents house to document the fire cleanup. One of the workers founds a Betty Boop doll head, and placed it on top of a burned tree stump. 

And this also has nothing to do with Greg Maddux or 1995 Select Artist Proofs, I just thought it was awesome!

It's so hard to try to write something quick...


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