Monday, February 5, 2018

The Trading Post #116: ARPSmith’s Sportscard Obsession

Other than a Mike Piazza Ultra Pro oddball, which had a stated print run of a whopping 100,000, the first time I saw a reference to a limited print run on an actual card was when I pulled Matt Williams' 1995 Donruss Press Proof. There's no serial number per se, but there's a gold-colored (not foil) banner at the top on the back that states "1st 2,000 Printed". Donruss followed what Topps was doing with Stadium Club First Day Issues, though Donruss actually put that 2,000 limit on the card itself rather than just the sell sheets.

1995 Donruss Press Proofs #533 Curt Leskanic /2000
This Press Proof of Curt Leskanic is just the second one to find its way into my collection after that Matt Williams card I pulled long ago, thanks to the one of the other Adams in the Cardsphere (or am I the other Adam?), the one of ARPSmith’s Sportscard Obsession. Many of you have been receiving similar shipments from him, and his is the last trade package before I'm caught up! Well, other than some old, old card shows. But that's a different story, and one I may save until after the Winter Olympics.

Curt Leskanic has proven to be quite a character, but sometimes he's just a normal pitcher. When these 2,000 copies were printed (as well as the rest of the silver-foiled base cards), he had a 2-6 record and 5.45 ERA in his first two years as a Rockie. He'd start turning that around once Coors Field opened, appearing in a league-leading 76 games in 1995 and even earning 10 saves.

I never saw this mentioned on a card, but apparently his cousin is Katrina Leskanich, lead singer of Katrina and the Waves, whose 1985 hit "Walking on Sunshine" might go down as the most infectious, upbeat pop song of all time.

1999 SkyBox Premium #44 Darryl Kile
It's actually a bit tough to mention the late Darryl Kile while listening to that song, but carry on we must. The rainbow gold foil certainly caught my eye, but Skybox overdid it a bit with the vignette border and what looks like an apparition of Dinger behind him. The card back is a bit strange too, listing his last name on top, as in "Kile Darryl". Also, his uniform number of 57 is directly above the card number, meaning if you don't know who he was and what number he wore, there are plenty of things that could confuse you, especially if it's a guy who had two first names.

Design gripes aside, if you glance at his pitching hand, you'll find about the best look at a circle changeup grip I can ever remember seeing on a baseball card. Picture the A-OK sign (which has taken on some unfortunate cultural meanings in recent years) with three fingers wrapped around the baseball, and you have a tough pitch to hit. Perhaps it's not great that we can see the pitch grip from the batter's perspective, but it's still one with a lot of movement.

2000 Upper Deck HoloGrFX Longball Legacy #LL15 Larry Walker
Like we saw in the previous post, Larry Walker was known for hitting tape-measure home runs, and I'm sure at least a few of his 383 came on the circle change. Upper Deck HoloGrFX (alphabet soup of a name worse than a lettered card number) gave him and fourteen other players a card in the Longball Legacy insert set. Those three innocent little baseballs on the left were sent quite a long distance, as the card back documents Walker's three longest home runs of 1999. It's basically a bar graph (and perhaps educational for someone studying math and statistics in school), but it confusingly looks a bit like the trajectory they could have taken. Walker's three longest in 1999 were 470', 465', and 460', and the longest of those got a small write-up.

It came on June 22nd, 1999 off of Scott Sanders in the sixth inning. Darryl Kile started that game against the Cubbies, and Sammy Sosa even hit a home run in the 13-12 slugfest. There's just one teensy problem with this Upper Deck card.

Contrary to what this card tells us, it most definitely did not take place at Wrigley Field. Rather, it was at Coors Field, and I'll fight UD on that one if I have to, since I was there. Unfortunately, the Rockies came out on the losing end of this one, but my dad and I did move down to the lower deck to see the last couple innings.

It seems as though I'm developing a reputation for Chief Fact Checker in this community. There are a lot of errors out there.

1998 Pinnacle #190 Larry Walker GJ
Still, Larry Walker did hit homers all around the league, including at Wrigley, and also at Jacobs Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, where the 1997 All Star Game was held. During that MVP season of his, Walker reached the final round of the Home Run Derby, losing to Tino Martinez of the Yankees. He's also remembered (and mentioned on the card) for some on-field antics during the exhibition game itself while facing Randy Johnson.

Now, I'm no Indians expert, but "Goin' Jake" is not a term I have ever heard anyone use to describe a home run hit at Jacobs Field. I guess if you're on the verge of bankruptcy, as Pinnacle was in 1998, then you can just invent all the terms you want. But I have a feeling I'd get some pretty weird looks if I were to shout that in downtown Cleveland, especially since it's not even called that anymore. I do wonder if Indians fans still colloquially call it Jacobs Field, even though it's now officially known as Progressive Field.

I can assure you we do that in Denver, where the home of the Broncos is still generally known as "Mile High", regardless of whichever bankrupt sporting goods company currently owns the naming rights.

2003 Upper Deck Standing O #S-26 Larry Walker
Look, there goes one of those baseballs now!

Surprisingly, despite its odd appearance and insert-esque card number, what you see above is not actually an insert card. Upper Deck released a full, 126-card main set in this mini-baseball style, complete with raised laces and a subtle leather-like texture. It's rather small, about as big around as a racquetball, leaving room for just three seasons of statistics on the back.

It would make a suitable Frisbee in a pinch, or perhaps a shot glass coaster. And the best part is that there are no corners to ding, thanks to it's circular nature, which is good, because it does have a tendency to fall out of card stacks, much like minis.

2004 Bazooka Red Chunks #89 Shawn Chacon
Cards got pretty thick for a while in this shipment, starting with red parallels from 2004 Bazooka. Tom sent cards from this set once, as have a few others, but I'm always surprised at how thick they are. The red and white rounded banners at the bottom remind me of a rail logo, perhaps a blend of the London Underground and the old Amtrak logo.

I remember Shawn Chacon being one of the Rockies' better pitchers in the mid-2000s, even earning a spot on the 2003 All-Star roster, just the second Rockies pitcher to do so, after Mike Hampton. He moved to the bullpen in 2004, amassing a dismal 1-9 record with an ERA over 7.00, but still managed to earn 35 saves. The Alaska native is probably tossing a few warm-up pitches in [checking telecom merger history] Pacific Bell Park, because I really hope the outfielder isn't paying that little attention during a live at-bat.

2000 Topps HD #9 Vinny Castilla
Back home at 20th & Blake, we can see Vinny Castilla, with a Lou Brock Speed rating of three baseballs, rounding second and holding on for dear life to his batting gloves. It's not quite as thick as the Bazooka card above, but it is noticeably heavier, thanks to the two layers of plastic that make up the front and back.

Topps HD is a new-to-me set released in 2000, and it definitely does have a sharpness and smoothness advantage over its paper counterparts. It's one of those rare cards where the card number matches the player's uniform number (frankenset idea?). As early as 1999, Vinny Castilla already held the career home run record for Mexican-born players, a record he tacked onto for another several seasons. His final career total of 320 is more than double Jorge Orta's count in second place. As this card relates, the Rockies began their 1999 season in Monterrey, Mexico, beating the Padres by a score of 8-2. Castilla had four hits in that game, though none of them left the yard.

This brand has eluded my collection, and even my knowledge, for close to two decades, so thanks to Adam for sending it my way.

2001 Topps HD Game Defined #GD5 Todd Helton
He even threw in an insert card from the following (and final) year of Topps HD. The Game Defined (HD, High Definition, get it?) was a 10-card set containing lots of Hall of Famers, such as recent inductees Vladimir Guerrero and Chipper Jones. Like many early Helton cards, this one mentions his football career at the University of Tennessee. It also calls him a "dependable, at times dominant, offensive player". He was no slouch in the field, either.

The design is a bit interesting. On the left, the photo is grainy and pixelated, but then on the right, it becomes colorized and sharper. I guess what they're going for is that the player pictured in the center is literally bringing the game into sharper definition.

I didn't have an HDTV until 2008, so this may have been lost on me at the time.

2002 Stadium Club Reel Time #RT11 Todd Helton
Topps kept the moving picture theme going in Stadium Club the following year. We're back on paper and away from plastic, but the card hasn't gotten any thinner. The filmstrip theme Topps used on both the front and back reminds me of the Contact Sheet insert set from more recent Stadium Club releases.

Topps certainly recognized Helton's greatness on the card back. He was called out as a "batting title favorite" and potential .400 hitter. Todd only won the batting title once, with a .372 average in 2000. He came very close in 2003, hitting an impressive .358, but Albert Pujols edged him out by a point. They also compared him to a pair of baseball legends, George Brett and Stan Musial, the latter being the only player besides Helton with at least 2500 hits, 350 homers, 550 doubles, and a .315 average.

He's one of the best combinations of power hitting and contact hitting to ever play the game.

2001 Upper Deck e-Card #E4 Todd Helton
We'll continue the Todd Helton love fest with a similarly pixelated Upper Deck insert, an e-Card insert that is forever destined to remain in the physical world. Upper Deck's digital site is no more, so this special code is just a jumble of random letters, and isn't even long enough to be a useful password in this day and age. Nine characters with only one letter would be cakewalk for a talented hacker to break.

You know the story by now. "He can hit for both power and average and is also a fine defensive player."

2005 Reflections #3 Todd Helton
By 2005, Helton had the beginnings of his trademark goatee, something that would endure much longer than the single-year Upper Deck Reflections set. Nothing besides the Reflections logo in particular looks quote like a reflection to me, but UD did use an oddly squarish font on the back.

Shiny and Rainbowy with gold foil just wasn't enough to firmly establish a set by 2005, even with Donruss and Fleer about to exit the market.

2001 Donruss Class of 2001 Yearbook #YB-7 Todd Helton
Speaking of Donruss, yet another Todd Helton insert card was packed into this envelope. Helton supercollectors have their work cut out for them. I honestly haven't seen any of these.

You might think Donruss Class of 2001 was an insert set all its own, but no, it was a 301-card main set (there are two card #252s, apparently), of course with its own group of short prints and inserts. Now, I was a high school junior in 2001, and I only have the official yearbook from my senior year. This is a tiny bit too early to coincide with my own yearbook, but it didn't really have this scrapbook look anyway.

However, I did check this one for texture, as the layering and framing of each component did look like it could have been raised. It even reminded me of Pacific's highly underrated Card-Supials inserts, which are just the cleverest things.

2003 Playoff Prestige #138 Jose Hernandez
Adam had an eagle eye on this one, sorting a 2003 Playoff Prestige card into my pile. Jose Hernandez certainly looks like he's on Milwaukee here, and the way the lettering lines up, it almost appears like the "Colorado Brewers" is the team. Not that such a team would be inaccurate by any stretch.

Happy Stout Month, by the way.

Anyway, now that we've concluded the Todd Helton portion of this post, Hernandez was signed to cover the other side of the infield over at shortstop. Hernandez, whom both Fleer and Topps managed to picture in a Rockies uniform on their 2003 cards, spent just a half-season in Denver before being traded to the Cubs for Mark Bellhorn.

1996 Topps #428 Bartolo Colon / Doug Million / Rafael Orellano / Ray Ricken
We'll wrap up with a couple horizontal Topps cards. A few posts ago, I mentioned the quandary I often found myself in with multi-player cards. In my 1996 Topps set, I have this one filed as a Rockie, under the late Doug Million, though normally the player on the far left would decide where this one would be filed. As you can see, that player is none other than Bartolo Colon, who, at 44, is still getting minor league contracts. Sadly, none of the other players on this card ever made it to the Major Leagues, but Colon has had one of the longest careers in recent memory.

Million, by the way, really did earn the Gatorade National Player of the Year award in 1994, something that Bowman said Michael Cuddyer won, when it was actually the State award in Virginia. That makes Million's passing at the age of 21 even more tragic.

Prospects will always be a guessing game. Three other Rockies had prospect cards in '96 Topps, Angel Echevarria, Derrick Gibson, and the most successful, Neifi Perez. Some of their cardmates include Shane Spencer, Rey OrdoƱez, interleague Rockie-slayer and 1998 AL Rookie of the Year Ben Grieve, and 2005 World Series MVP Jermaine Dye.

1999 Topps Opening Day #105 Vinny Castilla
The late 1990s marked the rare period where you had Blake Street Bombers playing alongside then-newcomer Todd Helton. Here, he's congratulating Vinny Castilla via high-five, while Dante Bichette looks on in appreciation of whatever Vinny just did. It's an unbroken chain right back to the inaugural days. Castilla played with Helton, Helton played with Nolan Arenado in his final season (though I can't recall any cards of them together), and here we are 25 years later.

On the card back, Topps tells us about Vinny's walk-off homer on June 3rd, 1998 against the Diamondbacks. At the time, that shot ended the shortest game in Coors Field history, at just two hours and eleven minutes. Amazingly, that record only lasted about a decade, as Aaron Cook twirled a masterful gem on July 1st, 2008, shutting out the Padres in just an hour and fifty-eight minutes.

That's way less time than it took me to write this post.

I wouldn't be quite sure what to do with myself if Coors Field emptied out just after 9:00 pm, but I'm sure I'd be dazzled.

By the way, Cook only needed 79 pitches to do that, easily earning himself a "Maddux", a complete game shutout with less than 100 pitches. Out of curiosity, I did learn that one of Greg Maddux's own "Maddux" performances came in at an even shorter game time, just one hour and fifty minutes. A lot of that depends on what your offense does, but that is one quick game.

Thanks again to Adam for this great stack of cards and all the Todd Helton inserts!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Trading Post #115: Nachos Grande (Part 2: Rockies)

Let's say you're me and you run across a mid-1990s insert set that is completely new to you. Knowing my history, which master set do you think it might be from?

1995 Stadium Club Ring Leaders #9 Howard Johnson
If you guessed 1995 Stadium Club, you'd be correct.

I've written at length about how I keep running across various insert sets and subsets from 1995 Stadium Club, and apparently there's still more out there, because my initial spoken reaction to seeing this card was, "what the hell is this thing?"

I don't quite know where to begin, but the giant eagle grasping a baseball in its talons is as good a place as any. Even with the starburst, the championship rings, the stained glass look, and oh yeah, the baseball player, it manages to stand out in this crazy design. 1995 Fleer would be a footnote if someone made this a base set instead of just an insert set.

There are a whopping 40 cards to be found in this insert set, and this, obviously, is the first one I've seen. It's just as well, because I'd be concerned about some sort of chain reaction if I had them all in one place at the same time.

If you can break the spell this card holds over you and flip it over, you'll learn that Howard Johnson collected a few rings throughout his career, which began as a Tiger in 1982. I wasn't aware (and am not sure Topps didn't just make this up) that players earned rings for All-Star appearances and leading the league in various statistics. Howard Johnson, a Rockie only in the strike-shortened 1994 season, was a two-time All Star, and had a pretty solid 1991 season, leading the NL in RBIs and home runs, the latter stat with just 38. What this card neglects to mention, and what you certainly do earn rings for, is that Johnson was a member of two World Series-winning teams, the '84 Tigers, and the '86 Mets.

But I guess the eagle snatched those two rings away.

1999 Upper Deck MVP #69 Kirt Manwaring
As jarring as that card was, it's a bit jarring just to return to a bit of normalcy, provided by Nachos Grande in part 2 of his Season of Giving shipment. Granted, this Upper Deck card is missing their trademark hologram, but that's a minor thing compared to large birds of prey. It looks to me like catcher Kirt Manwaring (who had a cameo on a 1994 Dante Bichette card) got under this one a little bit, making it unlikely that it's the home run mentioned on the card back. That shot, his first one of the 1998 season, came on July 12th against his former team, the San Francisco Giants.

The photo is clearly from the 1998 season, based on that All-Star Game commemorative patch. In fact, that very All-Star Break took place less than a week before Manwaring's first of only two homers that year. But that was a night game, and Coors field looks far too sunny, even for a mid-July night game.

1998 Sports Illustrated Then and Now #70 Vinny Castilla
Turn back the clock another year to 1997, and you'll find the league-wide Jackie Robinson 50th Anniversary patch on Vinny Castilla's uniform. This one is from the same Sports Illustrated set that we saw with Larry Walker a few posts ago. However, Vinny Castilla didn't fare as well on the Killebrew-Brock-Robinson ratings as Walker did. Castilla earned four baseballs out of a possible five on Power and Fielding, classified as "Above Average". On Speed, he just got a middling three baseballs, only worth "Average". Castilla only stole two bags in 1997, so perhaps even that is generous.

I still don't have many from this set, but at least now I know they're not all horizontal.

1999 Private Stock #75 Edgard Clemente
The Giants and Rockies were at it again at Coors Field on September 25th, 1998, a game whose box score is on the back of this rarely-seen and slightly shiny Pacific card. Edgard Clemente, who had three partial seasons as a Major Leaguer, got his first career extra-base hit in that game, an RBI triple off of future Rockie Shawn Estes. The Rockies would go on to lose this game, but that early fall date in 1998 caught my eye.

I'm pretty sure I was in California when this game happened, possibly even watching it during dinner at a Northern California restaurant with my dad. Shortly after I started high school, he took me on a trip up the West Coast, starting in L.A., going north up the coast to the redwoods and wine country, and departing from San Francisco. I recall watching a Rockies/Giants game among a handful of Giants fans one evening, which must have been this game, since the other two in that series, which concluded the 1998 season, were day games. I recall a couple sitting behind us throwing up their hands in frustration at a particular play, and that very well could have been this RBI triple from Mr. Clemente.

Some say the sense of smell is the best sense at triggering old memories. For me, it's my sense of baseball.

1999 Fleer Tradition Warning Track #353W Mark Brownson
However, I have no memory of this Mark Brownson guy. The red foil tells us that he made his MLB debut in 1998. The red foil, in conjunction with the "W" in the card number and the "Warning Track Collection" seal in the bottom right, identifies this as a parallel, which I've seen only once before.

That debut game, interestingly, was a complete game four-hit shutout against the Astros. Unfortunately, lightning only struck once, as he appeared in just 11 games during the rest of this three-season career. At least he had some solid defense to back him up, as he never had to suffer watching an unearned run cross the plate.

1998 Topps Rookie Class #R3 Todd Helton
Moving along to rookie cards of Guys You've Heard Of, Todd Helton was appearing left and right in the Hobby during 1998. Topps gave him a card in 1998's Rookie Class insert set, a 10-card affair that looks very familiar to me, thanks to Travis Lee's card that I pulled long ago, one of the first Diamondbacks cards to make its way into my collection. Topps did a decent job selecting those ten players, also giving us Derrek Lee and Paul Konerko.

1998 Flair Showcase Row 3 #12 Todd Helton
Fleer went even shinier than Topps in 1998 Flair Showcase, a fractured set that I'll elaborate little more on other than to say this is the most common of four varieties. The redundantly named Flair Showcase Flair (Row 3) cards are easier to find than the even more redundantly named Flair Showcase Showcase (Row 0) cards.

When players are in the dugout, does that mean they're sitting in Row 0?

While pondering that deep thought, I read the back, which mentions Helton's time as a quarterback at the University of Tennessee, along with Peyton Manning and a guy named Branndon Stewart, who made his name at Texas A&M, though didn't go into the pros.

1998 Pinnacle Performers Swing for the Fences #30 Ellis Burks
If ever there were a perfect time to do a home run leader promotion, it was 1998. Following up their Swing for the Fences promotion in 1997, Pinnacle brought it back for '98, but unfortunately went out of business before McGwire and Sosa finished their record-setting season with 70 and 66, respectively.

If you can't keep the lights on while running a home run promotion in 1998, then perhaps the industry just isn't for you.

Ellis Burks, one of fifty players found in this contest, did not come close to McGwire or Sosa, hitting just 21 for the Rockies and later the Giants.

2013 Pinnacle #65 Carlos Gonzalez
After their disastrous 1998, it would take a long time before Panini would bring the Pinnacle name back from the dead, though that was just for 2013. Panini has focused most of its efforts on bringing back Donruss since then, but I wouldn't mind seeing this black-bordered set around a bit more often. Besides, batting helmets these days have so many vents and contours it's not as blatantly obvious as it used to be that it's an unlicensed set.

The longtime Rockie still doesn't have a place to land in this year's strange offseason, and the word "strike" is already being thrown around thanks to the extreme lack of free-agent signings. I'm just going to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend I didn't hear any of that. But on the bright side, bullpen carts are possibly going to make a comeback.

2003 Topps Heritage #270 Aaron Cook
Pretty much every trade package has something retro in it, usually Topps Heritage. However, 2003 Heritage isn't one I run across very often, despite the '54 design being one of my favorites ever. It's surprisingly tough to find, and I only have about two pages' worth. The black-and-white action shot is tiny, but you can still see a glimpse of the Rockies' 10th Anniversary patch on Aaron Cook's pitching arm.

I'm curious if the green-and-white backs on 1954 Topps contributed significantly to my love of green cards, because they're great. Even the cartoons have such a distinctive art style that I hesitate to call them cartoons. Really, they're more like comics. The 1930s Superman style is quite visibly different from the cartoony look that was common in the '70s and on (perish the thought) Topps Big.

2007 Upper Deck Goudey Red Backs #199 Brad Hawpe
Speaking of comics, what we now recognize as the first modern comic book was published in 1933, the same year as the original Goudey set. Upper Deck followed Topps' lead with the Allen & Ginter brand and brought back the famed 1933 set, right down to the accurate 2-3/8" x 2-7/8" dimensions. The hologram was of course new when UD brought it back, as were the Rockies and about half the other big league ballclubs.

Brad Hawpe doesn't make it to the blog very often, which is surprising, since he was a key player in the 2007-2009 era when the Rockies were doing well in the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Colorado before keeping his career going with a few other teams and retiring in 2013. The right fielder was a fan favorite, and the PA announcer at Coors Field somehow managed to make his name sound like a single syllable when it was his turn to bat.

2003 Fleer Box Score #87 Larry Walker
Here's another new-to-me set, 2003 Fleer Box Score. Fleer was cranking out whatever they could in 2003, and not giving a whole lot of thought to the design. This card of Larry Walker is nice enough, but you have to flip the card over to get the actual box score highlighting Walker and his three-homer, eight-RBI day in St. Louis (note to BBWAA: that's a road game) on April 28th, 1999, although we don't get the equivalent box score for the Cardinals.

The front is graced by a random box score between the Pirates and the Brewers, neither of whom Walker ever played for. I assume that appeared on everyone's card, much like how the 2003 Fleer Authentix set had a section map of Yankee Stadium on every card. It's probably the first and last time you'll see Rob Mackowiak's, Scott Sauerbeck's, and Brian Boehringer's names on this blog. Josh Fogg was here once before, though, and he was a Rockie for three seasons, so he may yet appear again.

1998 Fleer Tradition #340 Larry Walker TT
Larry Walker had more than enough multi-homer games to give Fleer plenty of material, such as Tale of the Tape, a sparkly subset from 1998 Fleer Tradition. The Fleer logo has a similar look to Electric Foil parallels from 2014 Stadium Club, and it would be just as hard to spot if not for the same sparkly finish on the giant white banner.

The multi-homer game in question is from August 31st, 1997, during Walker's MVP season. It was just their second interleague game at home against the Oakland A's, one of five teams I still haven't seen, though I plan on remedying that at the end of July. Walker took Mike Oquist deep twice, chasing him from the game before he recorded an out in the 5th inning. Fleer tells us that the longer of the two went a whopping 493 feet, which remains one of the longest ever hit at Coors Field, and the first one to end up in the upper deck (odd not to capitalize that).

2012 Bowman Chrome #156 Michael Cuddyer
Chris threw in quite a bit of Bowman in this package, but it took a star rather than a prospect to really capture my attention. That and the shiny Chrome brand. Michael Cuddyer is listed as an outfielder, but he played quite a few games in Colorado as a first baseman, paving the way for Justin Morneau and Mark Reynolds in future seasons. And even for an established veteran who had just made his first All-Star appearance, Bowman, in true form, reached way back to his high school days for one of the tidbits on the back. We're told that he was Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year, which, upon further research, is not quite correct. Cuddyer did indeed win such an award, but it was the Gatorade award for the state of Virginia, not the National award.

2015 Topps Rainbow Foil #208 Wilin Rosario
We'll wrap up this year's Season of Giving with Baby Bull, aka Wilin Rosario. You can't tell from the scan, but this is a shiny card. It's not a Chrome card, so it can't be a refractor, but it looks like one. That means it must be the Rainbow Foil parallel, which I haven't seen in a while, and frankly, I sort of forgot about them.

I've yet to pick up any 2018 Topps, but I've seen plenty on the blogs. Point being, it's a bit strange to see a Topps base card with borders, as Topps is on their third straight year of embracing full bleed. I wouldn't say the design looks dated; in fact, it's continuing to grow on me. It's just noticeably not the latest and greatest.

I'm still recovering from that Howard Johnson card, but I appreciate Chris taking the time to grow my collection and further expand my knowledge of the enigma that is 1995 Stadium Club.

Perhaps the eagle and all those championship rings are foreshadowing of the upcoming Super Bowl.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Trading Post #114: Nachos Grande (Part 1: Unopened Packs)

It was only last night when I opened the team bags and unopened packs that Nachos Grande sent as part of his Season of Giving holiday gift round. Somehow, I managed to delay gratification and let some surprises lay in wait until I got closer to being caught up on trade posts. I always seem to have a few irons in the fire, and a reader reached out to me just today proposing a trade. Trades are really an amazing part of this community, and they've accounted for just under half of my blog posts. There are more to come, as always. Sometimes I worry about running out of cards (or even sets) to talk about, but I'm discovering that there is abundance to be found in this hobby, even a couple decades after the bubble burst.

In addition to several team bags full of Rockies, which are coming in part 2, Nachos Grande included four sealed packs, which are fun to open no matter what's inside.

2010 Upper Deck #129a Alexei Ramirez
First up is 2010 Upper Deck, which was sadly the end of the line for the innovative brand, at least in the baseball market. They're still doing hockey cards, but the Upper Deck name isn't quite as relevant to their current product line. 

2010 was supposed to be an unlicensed set, and each card tells us that it is "NOT authorized by Major League Baseball or its Member Teams." UD was hoping that disclaimer would shield them from the consequences of letting MLB logos creep into most cards in the set, such as the White Sox logo on Alexei Ramirez' cap, and the Royals logo on about-to-retire journeyman Jose Guillen's helmet. It appears that Guillen was safe at second, but he's checking with the umpire since it must have been a close play. 

Alexei Ramirez didn't play last season. His 2008 rookie year came at the age of 26, as he had played in Cuba in his younger days. That only left time for about a decade in the big leagues, although he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Evan Longoria.

2010 Upper Deck #67 David Ross
Upper Deck complied with the no-logos rule on this card of David "Papa" Ross, capturing the veteran catcher as he whipped off his hockey-style catcher's mask. That is, they complied on the main photo, allowing a portion of the Braves logo to sneak in on Ross' black-and-white headshot at the bottom, which is also found in color on the back.

2010 might have marked the end of the line for Upper Deck, but little did David Ross know that he had two World Series rings in his future, first with the 2013 Red Sox, and second with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, after which he immediately retired.

When your final MLB game finds you on the winning end of Game 7 in the World Series, well, I'm sure there's not much that can top that. I'm sure Carlos Beltran will agree.

2010 Upper Deck #28 Buster Posey (RC)
Buster Posey, on the other hand, got his rings out of the way early. Barry Bonds could never bring the trophy to San Francisco, but Posey has helped do that three times, and was involved in a 2011 collision that changed how plays at the plate work now. Like Babe Ruth and Bob Gibson, when the game changes because of you, you'll be remembered for quite some time to come.

In 2010, he was as green as they come, putting up just a .118 average in a 7-game call-up at the end of 2009. Those early jitters rapidly melted away, as Upper Deck correctly named him a 2010 Star Rookie, complete with four little silver stars above the bottom banner. Posey would win the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year award and the 2012 MVP award, and both seasons found him crowned as World Series champion.

2010 Upper Deck Pure Heat #PH-2 Albert Pujols
A insert or two fell out of this pack; one from the I'm-not-bothering-to-complete-this 2009 Biography set, and a properly-cut Pure Heat insert of then-Cardinal Albert Pujols. I once received an extremely miscut example of Troy Tulowitzki's card from this 15-card insert set, but now I have one that shows what this set was supposed to look like. And yes, it looks much better. The set leans toward including hitters, but I associate "heat" more with flamethrowing pitchers.

The 2001 Rookie of the Year and three-time MVP led the NL in home runs in 2009 and 2010, a stat he wasted no time in chasing in '09, thanks to his 30 homers by the end of June, as this card tells us. His production has trailed off significantly since then, although he recently passed the 600 career homers milestone, and now is the all-time leader for grounding into double plays.

Feast or famine, I suppose. But before the days of Mike Trout, Pujols frequently found himself in the very top slot of fantasy baseball drafts. I managed to snag him 5th overall in that MVP season of 2009, a season in which I lost the league final for the second time.

2007 Topps #205 Cory Sullivan
There are plenty of Rockies to come in part two, but this Cory Sullivan card was the top card in a clear pack of 2007 Topps, the year of their magical run to the World Series. In case you weren't collecting 2006 Topps Update & Highlights, Topps made sure to inform you once again of his two-triple inning in 2006. The speedy center fielder, who shares an August 20th birthday with Todd Helton, is now part of the Rockies on-camera TV crew.

AT&T Park is always pretty easy to spot, thanks to the little splotches of orange in the stands. I've never been to the stadium, but it seems likely that I'll end up there one day, thanks to how involved I am in the tech industry. It looks like an interesting park, partially thanks to the 14-foot aquarium they recently added on the left field concourse. This was featured on an episode of Tanked, a custom aquarium reality show that was recommended to me by a coworker.

2007 Topps #172 Morgan Ensberg
As I dug deeper in this 2007 Topps hanger pack, which had no inserts but did include a stick of gum that cracked into a thousand pieces as soon as I started handling it, I found a commemorative patch the Astros wore in 2006. The orange and black patch on third baseman Morgan Ensberg's right sleeve commemorates the Astros' 45th year. The team started in 1962 as the Colt .45s, but were renamed as the more space age-friendly Astros in 1965, at the height (no pun intended) of the Gemini program.

2007 Topps #26 Jason Jennings
The same patch appears on ex-Rockie Jason Jennings, however I'm almost certain this is a Photoshop job. Jennings wasn't traded to the Astros until the 2006 Winter Meetings, and Series 1 of this set came out in late February 2007. Furthermore, the stadium looks a bit like Coors Field, as you can see spots of purple here and there, the "Coca-Cola Front Row Seats" lettering on the wall (not sure if those are still there), a purple-shirted usher in foul territory, and that sure looks like Todd Helton in the background. Finally, Jennings wore #23 during his single season with the 'Stros, not #32, his old Rockie number.

It's a pretty good Photoshop effort, but the details give it away.

2007 Topps #300 Vladimir Guerrero
Newly-minted Hall of Famer Vladimir Guererro was the bottom card in the pack, but I didn't really look at it while it was sitting on my side table. Perhaps it was appropriate to save this for after the Cooperstown balloting. The slugger already had plenty of solid seasons under his belt by 2007, one of five years in which he led his league in intentional walks. He was usually in the running for the MVP award, which he won in 2004.

Guerrero is shown casually hanging around the visitor's dugout with lots of baseball equipment scattered around. Helmets, bats, batting gloves, and more, making this a good mini-collection candidate. And all that Angels gear will reflect the team insignia he'll have on his Hall of Fame plaque, even though he spent more time as an Expo.

Nick is one of the biggest Vlad fans in our whole community. Maybe you should just read his post.

2012 Triple Play #63 Ryan Howard
The third pack was 2012 Panini Triple Play, a frequent sight in repack-like stacks. Ryan Howard, the great career Phillie, confusingly got card #63 in two straight years of Triple Play. His career kind of fell off a cliff toward the end, but he hit a whopping 58 homers in his MVP season of 2006, which Panini tells us zoomed past Mike Schmidt's 48 for the Phillies single-season record.

This card is all about home runs. While a helmetless Howard stares longingly at his uniform number in the upper left, the back also tells us about his 22-homer 2005 campaign on his way to Rookie of the Year, and that 2011 was his sixth straight year of 30-plus home runs. Even the trivia question digs the long ball. It asks us in which year Howard won the Home Run Derby, and that unsurprisingly happened in 2006.

That was about all that caught my eye from the Triple Play pack, but fortunately, there is one more to go.

1991 Donruss #483 Mike Scott
You can't talk about baseball cards for as long as I have without at least mentioning 1991 Donruss on occasion, but this is its first appearance on the blog. As Rockies-focused as I am around here, anything before 1993 is essentially an archaeological dig. 

Also, as much as I talk about green cards, it surprises even me that Series 2 of '91 Donruss never really came to mind. But here it is, in all its overproduction glory. I remember buying the factory set at my local card shop for a mere six or seven dollars, a low price even in the heady days of the overproduction era.

Mike Scott, the 1986 NL Cy Young winner, wouldn't last past the 1991 season. His best days were behind him, but those days included a 20-win season, a no-hitter that clinched a playoff spot, and a postseason appearance in the 1986 NLCS. No one gave him a true sunset card in 1992, but that's probably for the best, as his 1991 season consisted of two losing starts, seven innings pitched, and an alarmingly high 12.86 ERA.

The Astros certainly like their commemorative patches, don't they? Mike Scott and his 1990 Astros honored the Astrodome's 25th Anniversary, a building that was once called the Eighth Wonder of the World. It didn't have staying power, though. The Oilers left in the mid-1990s, and the Astros would get their own baseball-only park around the turn of the millennium. But unlike many abandoned stadiums, the Astrodome still stands.

1991 Donruss #445 Kirk Gibson
Of course, many more teams than the Astros wore commemorative patches. Though they were once known as the Robins, and several other old-timey names, the Dodgers celebrated their centennial in 1990, as you can see on Kirk Gibson's jersey. He only spent three seasons as a Dodger, but most casual fans remember him as one, thanks to his famous home run in the 1988 World Series, which of course is mentioned in the "Career Highlights" section on the back. His only MVP season came in '88 with the Dodgers, as well. But he spent twelve seasons with the Tigers over two stints, as well as a couple short term stops elsewhere in the Majors in the early 1990s.

Curiously, even though Donruss tells us on the back that the Royals signed him to a two-year deal December 1990, they still have him pictured and listed as a Dodger, complete with on-deck circle bat donut.

1991 Donruss #471 Barry Larkin
Barry Larkin, the Hall of Fame shortstop, is seen pulling back a bunt attempt, fresh off the Reds' 1990 World Series championship. Maybe I was a bit selective, but this set seems to have some decent photography, certainly better than the underexposed 1988 set. Depending on how you sort them, green can look odd side-by-side with the blue borders found in Series 1, but 1991 Score pretty much did the same thing, and that one seems to be remembered much more fondly. I'm not apologizing for the weird blots on the border that could literally have been taken out of my 1st-grade art class in 1991, but maybe this isn't as bad as everyone remembers. 

A pack of overproduction cards can be fun to open. They're usually in pristine shape, they take you right back to childhood, and sometimes, the packs give you superstar after superstar. You're unlikely to fill any gaps in your collection with them, but they're just so ubiquitous as to remain an obvious part of the hobby. In this pack, I also found Ryne Sandberg, Dave Winfield, a young Frank Thomas, Tim Raines, and Cecil Fielder. Not bad at all.

I basically got the equivalent of a repack you'd find at Target, and Nachos Grande also sent a bunch of hand-picked Rockies in team bags, coming up in part 2. Hard to beat that.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Trading Post #113: A Cracked Bat (Part 2: Not Topps)

A lot has happened in the week since I posted part 1 of a recent trade with A Cracked Bat. Four players were elected to the Hall of Fame. By now you likely know that Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman built up enough support to make it, and Chipper Jones and Jim Thome only needed a single year on the ballot. Not much has been happening in the free agent market, but the Milwaukee Brewers massively upgraded their outfield in one day, adding Christian Yelich via trade, and Lorenzo Cain via free agency.

As a Rockies fan, that concerns me. The Brewers only finished a game behind the Rockies for the second wild card spot, and with the Giants adding Andrew McCutchen, the NL West is shaping up to be a tough, tough division. At least the six games against the Marlins should be a cakewalk.

All this happened with a small pile of fifteen non-Topps cards sitting on my side table, just waiting for their time to shine on Infield Fly Rule. First up, a trio of Studio cards.

1993 Studio Superstars on Canvas #9 Andres Galarraga
1993 Studio is fairly well-represented in my collection, and I've been enjoying the regular series featuring the card backs that Bo at Baseball Cards Come to Life! has been running for a while. There were a handful of small insert sets that year, including this 10-card Superstars on Canvas set. Andres Galarraga, soon to be the face of the then-expansion Rockies made it in, along with several Hall of Fame-worthy players.

This design seems to be going for a sort of Diamond Kings / UD Masterpieces painted look, complete with an easel. It works pretty well until you get to the edge and you can clearly see the painted effect suddenly transition to the source photograph. Maybe they're trying to suggest that the subject was sitting behind the canvas, but it's painfully obvious that there was no painting going on here.

The card back tells us that The Big Cat, who has been showing up a lot around here lately, was set on proving that he still had lots of talent, and his low production in recent years was just due to injury.

I'd say he certainly did that.

1994 Studio #179 Charlie Hayes
Instead of a background consisting of a close-up of the player's jersey, which is what the 1993 Studio set had, they zoomed out in 1994 and gave us a peek inside clubhouses all around the Major Leagues. This must be the clubhouse at Mile High Stadium, since Coors Field was still under construction. It's one of the best ways to get the player's last name and uniform number on a card. The card back is what you'd expect for Studio, offering us all sorts of fun facts about the player's personal life. Charlie Hayes enjoys fishing, his favorite food is chicken, and his favorite player as a kid was Willie Mays.

The Willie Mays Hayes joke practically writes itself. But it's a great card, and all those pinstripes foreshadow that final putout he made in the 1996 World Series as a Yankee.

2002 Studio Stars #SS-20 Todd Helton
Studio really liked this concept of blending a credit card and a baseball card. This is the third different set they've done that approximates something you'd find in your wallet. The stat line numbers are slightly more raised on this insert card than the 1995 base set, and the corners a bit more rounded than the 1995 Studio Gold parallels. It is a clever idea, but perhaps Studio played it out a bit too much.

Take a look at these stats from the "perennial Triple Crown threat". .336 average, 49 homers, 146 RBIs. That's a solid season. It wasn't quite as good as his 2000 season, but it was during his streak of five straight All Star appearances, and the back has plenty to say about his stellar defensive skills. I hope Hall of Fame voters take that into account next year when Helton appears on the ballot. Outstanding defense in a hitter-friendly park should be given that much more weight, especially when "Coors!" is an automatic demerit in the eyes of many BBWAA voters, regardless of whether you're a hitter or a pitcher.

1996 Summit Ballparks #3 Dante Bichette /8000
Our next trio is of horizontal cards, led off by a Godzilla-sized Dante Bichette inside Coors Field. This 1996 card shows the ballpark in its infancy, probably in the 1995 season during a sunny, cloudless day game. There's far too little detail in the left field scoreboard for me to date this card, even with a magnifying glass, only that the line score tells us that three innings are complete, and the Rockies are in the field, making this the top of the 4th.

That scoreboard, by the way, is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation for the 2018 season, showing just how much the stadium has changed in two decades. There's a whole lot more plant life past the center field wall now, and the upper portion of the right field stands were removed in 2014 to make way for The Rooftop.

But what I especially noticed are the old advertising banners, many for companies that no longer exist. Above the bullpens in right-center, you can see ads for Hugh M. Woods, a defunct Denver-area chain of hardware stores, and USWest Cellular, a mobile subsidiary of the local Baby Bell which ended up as part of Verizon Wireless. I think. The lineage of phone companies in the post-AT&T breakup era is one of the most complex family trees you can find.

Surrounding the main scoreboard in left field are ads for Bank One, now part of Chase; the Rocky Mountain News, a tabloid-formatted newspaper that didn't survive the last financial crisis; King Soopers, which is now the local flavor of Kroger; and a few Chrysler brands that are no longer rolling off showroom floors, like Eagle and Plymouth. Immediately flanking the scoreboard are vertical banners for Coca-Cola and Coors. I'm not sure where those will go post-renovation, but those two brands remained in those slots ever since the stadium opened.

Oh, by the way, this Pinnacle Summit card is serial numbered to 8,000 when you flip it over, and there's also a home/away split of Bichette's 1995 stats. He had way more home runs at Coors (31 vs. 9), but an equal number of doubles (19) home and away.

2002 Ultra #133 Larry Walker
Away from their familiar home, Larry Walker is sliding into home with his right leg dangerously up, possibly in AT&T Park, or SBC Park, or Pac Bell Park (see earlier comment about telecom mergers). There's a tiny bit of damage on the front from this card sticking to the one above it, but mostly it blends in with the chunks of dirt that Walker is kicking up with his slide. He'll give the umpire and his trusty hand broom something to do between at bats.

2002 Fleer Ultra shows up from time to time around here. The banner they used that year seems pretty distinctive, and it was a worthy competitor to Stadium Club. Walker still has a decent amount of support on the Hall of Fame ballot, so we'll see if either he or Helton (or both—I can dream) become the first Rockie to enter Cooperstown.

2005 Donruss Champions #320 Juan Uribe
We're all used to baseball card photos being a year behind. The upcoming 2018 Topps set will have photos from 2017 all over the place. But I don't get why Donruss pictured a much thinner Juan Uribe as a Rockie in their 2005 Champions set when he played an entire year with the White Sox in 2004. The back of the card has only that 2004 stat line, in addition to his career totals. Most of the card back talks about his time as a Rockie, such as his 11 triples in his rookie 2001 season.

In looking at the surprisingly large number of cards I have from this set, I guess what this set was all about was occasionally showing players pictured with past teams, matching a highlight of their careers. There's a card of Larry Walker as an Expo, Nolan Ryan as an Astro, and more. It's just an odd, or at least an unconventional thing to do with current players. And this isn't even Uribe's only card as a Rockie in this set. He hit almost as many homers in 2004 with the White Sox as he did during his entire three-season tenure as a Rockie.

The other odd thing about this set is the large blank space on the right. Obviously, it's a perfect spot for a relic, but it leaves the base cards looking empty. I want to like this set, I really do. The color coding is beautiful and the gold foil on black looks great. But it has a few too many shortcomings to really stand out as a classic.

1996 Fleer #372 Kevin Ritz
We always like pitchers bunting, right? Clearly this is just batting practice, but if there's one thing an NL pitcher may be called upon to do, it's bunt. If the National League adopts the DH, then cards like this won't exist anymore. And that would be a shame. It's already bad enough that Fleer is no longer, and matte cards are certainly a tough thing to unearth.

Matte finishes supposedly work great for on-card autographs, which is appropriate, because Kevin Ritz actually signed a few things for my sister and I before a game at Coors Field once. I didn't have any cards on me at the time, but he did sign my hat, which has since been lost to the ages, as well as a small sheet of paper for my sister which came from a memo pad that my always-prepared dad had at the ready.

Ask him about the emergency blanket story.

1994 Triple Play #226 Darren Holmes
I don't think I've seen 1994 Triple Play since the Antique Mall Mystery Pack series from a few years ago. The set holds up well, and it remains a favorite design of mine. The color coding is great, and I still like that the block letters at the bottom are part of a transparent layer. Not transparent in the sense of an acetate card, but transparent to the photograph beneath it, giving it a 3D look.

The back tells us that Darren Holmes earned the first-ever save in Rockies history, a tidbit I had not been aware of. Even a quarter-century-old card still has secrets to share. That save came on April 23rd, 1993 against their perpetually-rebuilding expansion brethren, the Marlins.

Like Kevin Ritz, Darren Holmes signed a few pieces of memorabilia for me and my sister in the 1994 offseason at Mervyn's, another department store mall anchor that is no longer. In fact, Northglenn Mall is no longer, and the big box stores that now occupy that lot are struggling too.

Anyway, my sister and I each got an 8x10 signed, and I brought along a couple cards and a ball, which are still in my collection. Sadly, the ball has faded quite severely, and the two cards—1994 Topps and 1993 Team Stadium Club—have pretty fuzzy corners from when I got bored standing in line and started spinning them between two fingers. After the lines died down and my parents completed their shopping, he signed my hat, too. He's still part of the Rockies organization as the bullpen coach.

1994 Leaf Limited #103 Joe Girardi
This trio of cards is concluded by Joe Girardi, who signed a shiny 1994 Leaf Limited card just like this one for me at the Rockies Dugout Store in Boulder (which is also not there anymore), and I'm pretty sure that was on August 5th, 1995. I'm confident of that date because I very clearly remember congratulating him for hitting a home run the previous night, and if memory serves it was to straightaway center. The only home run he hit on a Friday at Coors Field in 1995 was on August 4th, and this autograph session definitely happened on a Saturday. Darren Holmes got the save that Friday night, by the way, in a 14-12 slugfest that Coors Field was rapidly becoming known for.

Eric Young was also at that autograph signing, and both he and Girardi signed 5x7 color photos for my sister and me, along with the fanciest and shiniest Joe Girardi card I could possibly locate in my collection. Dinger was entertaining the crowd in line, who signed a pair of oddball cards for us. That's how I'm sure it was 1995, because those Dinger cards have the Coors Field inaugural logo on them. I also remember standing front and center as Girardi came out of the building to do a quick radio interview with Mark Knudson, a former MLB pitcher, Denver native, and sports analyst for 850 KOA at the time.

I miss those days when everything seemed like a very big deal and stand out as distinct events. The days seem to run together a lot more when you're an adult. I've always had a pretty good memory (as you can see), but when I was just eleven, the gray matter hadn't been filled up nearly as much.

2006 Upper Deck Future Stars #23 Todd Helton
I never met Todd Helton, and thus concludes the in-person autograph portion of this post. This Upper Deck card, unsurprisingly, caught my eye because of the turquoise color, which would look great on a Marlins card. The short set of 2006 UD Future Stars is more or less a misnomer, as many players in it were nearing retirement, or at least past their years of peak production, like Helton. Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens can be found in this set, who had both hit their 40s. Most of the Future Stars were found in the short-printed Clear Path To Greatness subset. Like any prospect set, there are some nobodies, many players who had regular playing time, and a couple superstars like Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright.

UD just doesn't want you to forget that this is about stars, because there are at least a dozen that I can count on the front, and another five on the back.

1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars #112 Ellis Burks
Maybe UD had to call it that because Leaf already made a more accurately-named set called Rookies & Stars several years before. Most of the major players you remember from the late 1990s are in this set, such as Ellis Burks with a same-year Coors Field photo. Note the 1998 All-Star Game patch on his right sleeve, just like we saw Vinny Castilla wear in the previous post. Also found in the Rookies portion (way up in the short prints) are names like Todd Helton, Mike Lowell, Aramis Ramirez, Troy Glaus, and A.J. Hinch, who managed the Astros to their first World Series championship last year.

1995 Collector's Choice SE Silver Signature #209 Dante Bichette
The Alice in Wonderland magic potion seems to have worn off of Dante Bichette by now, and here he is in Wrigley Field yet again. This time, Upper Deck snagged him fielding a base hit in the Friendly Confines, and applied the Silver Signature parallel treatment to the card in the late-1994 Collector's Choice SE set. The strike, which was still in effect when this set was released, is mentioned on the card, but Upper Deck commends Bichette on exceeding his 1993 totals for home runs, RBIs, and stolen bases despite having six fewer weeks to work with.

I pulled quite a few of these Silver Signature parallels when I collected this set, and the blue foil found on base cards still makes it stand out. I never ran across a Gold Signature until recently, long after the strike and the baseball card bubble were distant memories.

1996 Collector's Choice Crash the Game Exchange #CR15 Vinny Castilla
I've blogged about You Crash The Game redemption cards from 1996 Collector's Choice cards before. Fuji sent me Larry Walker's card from that set, a card that was never made eligible for redemption due to an injury. In fact, only three players in the whole set, Walker, Joe Carter, and Tim Salmon, failed to make good on any of their three possible You Crash The Game cards. I'm not sure in which series Vinny Castilla was on the hot seat, but at least one of his forty (!) 1996 home runs made the above card a reality.

It's a bit flimsy, but this two-layer card (which scans much more vividly than it really looks) shows the smiling third baseman in a transparent red plastic, thicker than cellophane but thinner than the typical acetate card. There's a design element in each of the four corners and the back has the mirror image and his 1995 stats.

And oh yeah, it's a woodgrain set!

2013 Panini America's Pastime #222 Rafael Ortega (RC) /125
Much, much thicker is Rafael Ortega's card found in 2013 Panini America's Pastime. I must admit that I'd never heard of this set before, but apparently I do have another Rafael Ortega card in my collection. This is one of those super-premium sets where even the base cards are serial numbered, in this case to just 125 copies.

The Venezuelan oufielder had just a two-game callup in 2012 as a Rockie, but did play in 66 games with the Angels in 2016. Interestingly, he signed a free agent deal with the Marlins organization last month, and seeing as how Miami has shipped Stanton, Ozuna, and now Yelich off to greener pastures, Ortega might actually get to see a fair bit of playing time in the decimated Marlins outfield.

1992 Donruss Bonus Cards #BC7 Colorado Rockies
Wrapping things up is possibly the first-ever Rockies card in existence, a 1992 Donruss Bonus Card detailing the founding of the franchise, the plans for where they'd play their first couple seasons (Coors Field was already named on this card), and their ownership group, which experienced some drama shortly before the season opened. Of course, the Marlins had an equivalent card, and both reside in the collection. The only other candidate I know of for oldest Rockies card is Ryan Turner's in 1992 Upper Deck.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that this isn't quite the Rockies logo they've been seeing for 25 years. The actual logo changed the colors in the "Colorado" arch at the top, and the baseball and its related motion lines grew a bit. The team never took the field with this logo, but it can be found on very early memorabilia, and a few 1993 baseball cards.

This was a real walk down memory lane, from defunct Denver-area businesses to Blake Street Bombers, right down to the team's original logo and the Hobby's first exposure to a team that's about to begin their 25th season. Thanks to Julie for making her blog appear so frequently in my trade posts!