Random Top Loader - 1993 Topps Gold Derek Jeter
I bought a new 20 Sided Dice the other day. This is the first new one to enter my collection in probably 30 years. Which brought to mind writing another of these Random Top Loader posts, since I hadn't done one in a while. And since I haven't finished anything else I'm in the middle of writing, a Random Top Loader seems appropriate. But before I get to that...
So where did this new black and yellow die come from?
Citing numerous reasons, but not one specific reason, Laura and I decided on an extended weekend in Duluth, MN. The "San Francisco of the Midwest" is always a good choice for a quick and easy getaway. It's about a two hour drive from the northern suburban rings of the Twin Cities. Once you descend the hill towards Lake Superior, it feels like you're a lot further from home than you really are.
And no trip to Duluth is complete, without the obligatory photo of the Aerial Lift Bridge. This one taken from the unique vantage point of approaching the bridge from the south, while out on the water!
None of that basic from Canal Park shot here!
One of the things Laura wanted to do in Duluth, was to take the Vista Star Harbor Cruise. For two hours, a boat holding about 120 people goes out into Lake Superior, then around the loading docks of Duluth and Superior. The boat guide gave interesting background information to a shipping area I've been familiar with since I was a child, but didn't know a lot of concrete information. I took well over 250 pictures while on that boat, from angles of the area I never thought I'd see.
Looking out at Duluth from the channel that flows under the Aerial Lift Bridge. While the hill is nowhere near the scale of a San Francisco, this sort of urban terrain isn't seen anywhere else in Minnesota. Unfortunately, you can see all sorts of new construction that has wiped out many of the old buildings. Some dating back to the early 1900's, for uses directly related to the Great Lakes shipping industry. A lot of Duluth's character has disappeared over the last 20 years. For example, our rather new hotel that we stayed at, can be seen at the far left of this picture.
But this picture was taken from the Canal Park parking lot, in January 2001. That tall building at left center is the DeWitt-Seitz building. I'll get back to that in a moment. In the center of the photo, you can see the old Canal Park Burger King. This was probably the most well-known Burger King in the entire state. I think every Minnesotan had eaten there during their trip to Duluth. It was written into their contract. The Canal Park Burger King was still open in October 2002, which would be the last time I ate there. Today, that Burger King is now the parking lot of...
Comfort Suites Canal Park. This was the hotel we stayed for four days and three nights. I'd hoped that our room was once part of the old Burger King drive thru, but from looking at the previous photo, which clearly shows that Burger King was where the parking lot of Comfort Suites is now. Not the rooms. And it was the half of the parking lot they needed to kick our car out of, for re-paving on Monday morning.
Now back to the DeWitt-Seitz building... Built in 1909 as a shipping warehouse, it was renovated in 1985 into a collection of retail, restaurants, offices and other assorted small businesses. A few years ago, my mom told me the old toy, game and souvenir store that we used to go to when I was a kid, was still open inside. I wanted to stop in while Laura and I were here in 2018, but time ran short. As it always does...
This year, I wasn't going to miss visiting the J. Skylark store! Every time I go to Duluth, I like to send myself on little side mission's. For photography and future story telling purposes, I try to replicate Duluth memories of 30+ years ago. So for this trip, I had to visit J. Skylark just to buy a single 20-sided dice. Just as I did when I was in Junior High School, and Dungeons and Dragons was (sort-of) a thing.
J Skylark still had one shelf in the store dedicated solely to selling individual dice. I can't say for sure that this shelf today is in the same place that it was in 1987, but it sure seemed like it. Just getting this photo would have satisfied the mission, had I chose to not dropping the whopping sum of...
A significant percentage of my Dungeons and Dragons Dice Box came from J. Skylark. Some of them, I can still pick out. Including all of the 6-sided micro-dice, hidden away in an old Fuji film canister. Remember those?
As I said earlier, I have a new 20-sided dice. Meaning I have to do another multiple die roll to see which card I'm going to talk about, from the ever growing box(es) of Top Loaders. It's not like I'm about to use it to slay Ogres with my Chaotic Evil Paladin...
Lets get that 30-sided dice out to see what team the new yellow and black die will help select from!
Rolled a 5...
(Not a 27. I'm being lame and using stock photos.)
Guess that means I'm going to write about a New York Yankees card.
Despite not being an active Yankees collector, I still have more Yankees cards in Top Loaders than any team that isn't from Denver, Minnesota or Montreal. Not by design, just that I happen to get more hits from a team that collectors overrate more than any other. Which means I have to use an elaborate dice combination to see which card in the stack is selected. One of the dice I'll use is the new one. Because if I didn't, it would defeat the whole purpose of doing this!
There are 78 Top Loadered cards in the New York Yankees box. Formula being three 20-sided dice, one 10 sided and one 8-sided dice to choose the magic number.
(Flipping through the Yankees...)
1993 Topps Derek Jeter Gold
Really? That's highly boring...
Personally, I've seen all of the 1993 Topps I can stand over the last couple of years, and I really don't want to write about this set. And it's Derek Jeter. I REALLY don't want to write about him... Yeah, it's the Gold parallel, but why couldn't I have rolled just slightly different so I could talk about any of my 1993 Derek Jeter cards in Top Loaders that are better than 1993 Topps...
Just one number higher and I could have shown off any one of the six Derek Jeter cards that came from this set:
1993 SP Wax Box
If you zoom in REAL tight, you can see a Shinders price tag on the front wrapper reading: $2.79. Yes, I bought a bunch of 1993 SP packs for under $3, back in those days. Pulling four Derek Jeter cards from those packs, at different times. Then buying two more 1993 SP Derek Jeter rookie cards at an Earl Brown Heritage Center card show, in the Spring of 1994.
For a dollar a piece!
Who says Junk Wax Prospecting didn't pay off!
So I blame the new dice for not allowing me to talk about 1993 SP. Forcing me to talk about 1993 Topps instead...
That being said, I’m totally fine with owning this 1993 Topps Derek Jeter Gold. He's a Hall of Famer, and a baseball legend, even if I believe he's overrated. This card has a welcome home amongst the rest of the Yankees Top Loaders. Many of which are various Derek Jeter rookie cards from 1993. Or decent inserts I've pulled over the years. I haven't spent anything significant on a Derek Jeter card, and likely wont. Wouldn't mind an autograph, but I'm not going to BUY an autograph.
Here’s the back. Just in case you’ve never seen one...
But it's 1993 Topps. Who hasn't seen their fill of 1993 Topps?
This card came into my collection from a full wax box, purchased in the early months of 1993. I remember buying that box from the local Shinder's.
March 26, 1995 Shinder's Coupon
Oh look! Pogs are on sale!
This coupon came nearly two years later, but it serves to illustrate the price of cards back then, versus today. I’m sure that I paid about $20 for a full wax box of 1993 Topps Series 1. I was most likely still flipping burgers at the Hardees, who provided the money to buy a wax box of 1993 Topps. Not making much for an hourly wage, but I was still in high school. That wax box represented no more than 4 hours of burger flipping work. Compare that with the Hobby Jumbo box of 2021 Series 1 Topps that I bought in February of this year. My hourly wage today (to NOT flip burgers) is roughly 5 times what I made per hour in 1993. But to buy that box of 2021 Topps, I had to put in almost 9 hours of work at my current job.
Math and today’s economy suck...
Back when I pulled this Jeter from the pack, I was interested (Jeter was definitely on my Junk Wax Prospector radar), but he was not even the Yankees top prospect coming into the 1993 season. That was without a doubt, this guy:
1992 Upper Deck Minor Leagues Player of the Year - Brien Taylor
Remember when this card booked for $30 or more? Someday I will write the story of the king of failed Junk Wax Prospecting. Brien Taylor is the ultimate example of the uber-hyped prospect flaming out spectacularly. Putting a large dent in many retirement funds...
But amongst available Yankees prospects in the set, I was far happier to pull this Gold parallel:
1993 Topps Sam Militello Gold
And from the same box, another Yankees prospect that was also ranked higher than Derek Jeter, and seemed more important to the hobby at the time.
1993 Topps JT Snow Gold
Even though he’d been traded to the Angels for Jim Abbott, just prior to the 1993 Topps release.
That box was decidedly heavy on Yankees Gold parallel cards...
But in early 1993, the card that made me happiest from the box, was this one. Easily:
1993 Topps Ken Griffey Jr. Black Gold
I actually collected the Yankees in those days, but Griffey was always the card I wanted. Regardless of whatever product I was opening.
So congratulations Derek. You now have a place amongst the elite cards covered in the Random Top Loader annals. Take your rightful place next to the 1995 Greg Maddux Select Artist Proof and the 2005 Vinny Rottino Bowman Chrome Draft Red Refractor. You've uh... Earned it... Or something...
I’m really not interested in talking about 1993 Topps, Derek Jeter or Junk Wax Era Baseball Cards.
So let's go back to Duluth! One of my favorite parts of visiting "The San Francisco of the Midwest”, would be driving around town, looking at the rapidly disappearing old buildings. On one of our travels up second street, I spotted this old painted Coca-Cola advertisement from a block away. Well, I needed a close up photo of that!
After seeing the former Paul Robson Ballroom, the old Coke ad was painted on, I had to circle the block and park. This doomed structure demanded more than a quick drive-by shot. I also had to do a double take at the sign. First glance, I thought it read: Paul Ruebens Ballroom.
No wonder it closed...
The other reason I had to stop here was this burned out building. Directly across the street from Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and next door to the Wabasha Adult Bookstore. According to quick research on the Googles, a fire destroyed this old building in November, 2020. Duluth is still a goldmine of great building photos. I need to make it back up here with a concerted effort to photograph more cool stuff before it disappears forever.
Not only Duluth, but across the St. Croix River in Superior, Wisconsin. I have a big bunch of favorable memories of Superior as that is where my family would stay when we vacationed here when I was a kid. Just like Duluth, that town is rapidly changing and doesn’t look a whole like it did 35 years ago.
But I’m going to check out a few things while we’re up here!
The easiest route is to travel the John A. Blatnik bridge. I’ve always felt uneasy about crossing this bridge. It’s high off the water, and I don’t like heights. It’s narrow and usually pretty busy, which I’m not a fan of either. When Laura and I were on that Duluth harbor cruise, we rode under the Blatnik. The narrator informed us that after the 3 year freeway reconstruction (which just started this year) is complete in Duluth, the next project is to demolish the Blatnik bridge, and replace it with something more secure. He said the bridge is still structurally sound, but it’s the same style as the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, that collapsed in 2007.
So I was even less anxious to drive across it this time.
Directly at the Wisconsin end of the Blatnik, is the Best Western Bridgeview motel. This was the motel my family usually stayed at in the 1980’s, when we vacationed up here. Superior was a lot cheaper than Duluth for motels, and the Best Western Bridgeview had a nice pool inside!
Here's my sister and me (on the left) in that pool. I’m about 8 years old in this photo.
Besides that pool, the Best Western Bridgeview had a sweet original Mario Bros. arcade game in the pool area. That machine stayed there for years, spanning the entire stretch that I went with my family to the Bridgeview. There was also a Mario Bros. machine at the Red Owl in Crapids that also saw a bunch of my Wasted Quarters. My love for that game led me to buy my own machine in 1996. Joined by Pac Man in 2000.
The featured stop in Superior, was Globe News. Just as it was in 2018 when I dropped a big steaming pile of money on some great vintage Twins and Expos cards. We didn't have as much time today, so I was just hoping for a few boxes of low-to-mid tier stars and inserts, mainly 1997 to 2017. Let me find some decent stuff I want to fill in the new team-sorted format of the card albums. A process that started in March of this year, and will likely take a year -or more- before it's finished.
That's a really funny tag line Superior... Duluth can still see you, you know?
Laura decided to wait for me on a park bench, across from Globe News, at Broadway and Belknap St. Can't say I blamed her. I'd try to make it quick, but cards can be a time consuming shopping experience. Especially if the store has multiple boxes of singles to flip through... I really hope Globe News has multiple boxes of singles to flip through!
And oh did they... Due to time constraints, I only made it through two fairly large boxes before tapping out. But my haul was impressive and featured some nice stuff for teams and players I collect. So here's a small sampling of new cards from Globe News:
Knowing me, you'd think the highlight of my Globe News purchase was the 2011 Topps Diamond parallel of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. After all, I bought his jersey just to commemorate the WORST player in Minnesota Twins history. Even so, it's still a very nice looking card.
The card I was happiest to pick up was this 2012 Bowman Jose Fernandez autograph. I was a fan, and the numbers he put up before age 23, were unheard of in this era. I wanted his autograph long before the September, 2016, cocaine and alcohol fueled boating accident, that killed Jose and two of his non-baseball playing friends. Now I have one and am still wondering how his career would have panned out, given the incredible start to it.
For being a good sport about me looking at baseball cards, while she waited in the park, I picked up an assortment of old Partridge Family records for her dorky collection. We all have our dorky interests...
Laura did not want to appear in picture form. This was a compromise!
After finishing up at our post-park, Kwik Trip refuel, we had another stop to make in Superior. One that was still high on my list, after being cut due to lack of time, when we were here in 2018.
Mariner Mall -no, Mariner Retail & Business Center!
Back in the mid-1980's, the Mariner Mall on the south end of Superior, was always a featured stop on our family trips to Duluth. 30 years ago, it was a busy mall. Near fully occupied with the usual assortment of retail stores and restaurants. Today, the mall has only a couple of open stores and one Mexican restaurant. The interior is mostly closed off, unless you are accessing one of the non-retail businesses that are leasing space inside. Unfortunately, they don't even allow mall-walkers anymore. According to it's online reputation, security will kick you out immediately for taking a picture inside.
Which sucks, because I would love to walk around inside the Mariner Mall, and get pictures of what I remember.
Like Prange Way...
Another planned ex-retail stop to visit a ghost of family vacations past, was to be the Superior, Wisconsin, Targets. Some online research showed the Targets closed this location in January 2016. The Googles didn't have any business listed on the satellite view, but showed the Targets building as still standing. So that needs to be checked out while I'm here...
The building is still there, but it's been repainted and taken over by Ravin Crossbows. What does that tell you about Superior when the Targets can't make it, but a giant crossbow warehouse can... Living up to that name!
Oh well, there's always the WalMarts, a block to the south, for discount chain big-box shopping. Unfortunately, we needed to stop there tonight, so Laura could return something she errantly purchased at the Duluth WalMarts (without parking lot lights), the night before. One good thing did come out of the Superior, Wisconsin WalMarts debacle:
For some unexplainable reason, the Superior Walmarts had Hanger Boxes and Blasters of Topps Series 2 baseball. This is noteworthy not because they were actually in stock and on the shelves, but that Topps Series 2 wasn't even supposed to hit those shelves for another week. Despite my dislike of 2021 Topps, I grabbed four Hanger Boxes and one Blaster, to open once we got back home.
It is nice to see someone other than Mike Trout or Aaron Judge on the packaging. Topps Update Series 3 will probably decorate their boxes and wrapper with a beCardinaled Nolan Arenado. Just to rub salt in the wounds.
Just as I'd expected, it was disappointing. I enjoyed opening the Blaster somewhat, but the four Hanger Boxes were mildly infuriating. Even though I wasn't buying a quantity of cards that matched the number of cards in the set, I was still expecting a few doubles. Well, I didn't get one single Hanger Box that didn't include some of the same cards in the other three. I got many doubles, far too many triples and a run of 6 cards that were in all four boxes. Yup, done buying packs of this...
That's pretty much all of the Duluth trip that I'm going to talk about now. I definitely have nothing left to add about Derek Jeter, 1993 Topps or shiny new cursed yellow and black 20-sided dice...
However, I could write volumes about all of the Duluth area Kwik Trip gas stations we visited.
Good thing we gassed up there, since the extra large BP gas station (with built-in Dickey's BBQ), just outside Cambridge was no longer open...
And thank you for that!
What is it?
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What is it?
Yeah... Yeah... Yeah...