Monday, November 24, 2014

The Trading Post #8: A Cracked Bat

I mentioned recently that Jared of Catching up with Collecting forwarded a few Rockies cards from Julie at A Cracked Bat that were meant for me. They took a circuitous route to get to me, but arrive safely they did. That makes Julie the first blogger with a repeat appearance in "The Trading Post" series, though I do have one more pending.

Julie's first trade package included several cards from 1994 Pinnacle, but one must have missed the boat.

1994 Pinnacle #103 Jerald Clark
Outfielder Jerald Clark appears here in a great "at the wall" shot in the old Mile High Stadium, complete with Bronco Orange plastic seats. When they tore down that stadium, they sold off most of the seats to collectors; it's not uncommon to find a pair in various finished basements across the Denver area.

Close examination of this card shows a fan wearing a Buffaloes sweatshirt, the mascot of my alma mater, The University of Colorado. Denver-area sports are quite well-represented on this card, along with a very prominent Cubs logo.

Julie threw in a small handful of early 2000s cards, including what I believe to be only my second card of catcher Ben Petrick.

2001 Stadium Club #173 Ben Petrick
Petrick made an appearance in the 2002 Topps base set, but I am fairly certain that I don't have any others. I'm not much of a player collector, but doubling the size of a PC in one shot is always nice.

I recall Ben Petrick signing autographs on the first base side at Coors Field before one Rockies game, but there were just one or two fans ahead of me when he left for the dugout. Just as well, because I surely didn't have a card of him handy.

Next, one which is a little older than I thought at first glance, but it's just a year after Larry Walker made a pretty serious run at the Triple Crown in 1997.

1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars #52 Larry Walker
I've never purchased a pack of 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars, but I've managed to acquire quite a few cards from that set. It turns up surprisingly frequently in discount boxes and bulk purchases. The Blake Street Bombers were a sight to see in the mid- to late-90s, and Walker might have been the best of the bunch. He had quite an arm, too.

The bulk of this package consisted of 1994 Bowman. This was shortly before seemingly every Bowman card in production had a black border with an uninspired design, but it's still chock full of players I've never heard of. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

1994 Bowman #404 Mike Zolecki (RC)
This is an appropriate design for the era. As we all know, gold foil (which doesn't scan well) was all the rage. Mike Zolecki was drafted by the Rockies in 1993, but never made it to The Show.

1994 Bowman #356 John Burke (FOIL)
John Burke, on the other hand, did spend a couple years in the Majors, but the reason I am featuring his card is for the "FOIL" subset, which can be identified by a different back and the slightly raised imprint of the Rockies team logo on the front. Bowman reserved this style for some of the more promising players and superstars in the set, and it really is pretty eye-catching, even for 1994.

One last thing I noticed while thumbing through these cards was a strangely long-looking name on Ellis Burks' card.

1994 Bowman #414 Ellis Burks (UER)
Bowman was so busy making cards of players that never made it out of Double-A that they threw in an extra letter on Burks' card, misspelling his first name "Ellkis". As us techie types tend to notice, "K" is quite near "I" on a QWERTY keyboard, so it was probably a simple typo. This error was not corrected, and his name is spelled correctly on the back. I love finding little details like this!

Thanks to Julie for the cards, and a Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Trading Post #7: The Card Papoy

My seventh trade (which I still need to reciprocate) came from Kevin of The Card Papoy. Kevin collects mostly Blue Jays cards, and resides all the way across the pond in France. It's been said in this community before, but in a country where the basements, garages, drugstores, and hypermarkets aren't likely to contain baseball cards, he must have a hard time adding to his collection.

Kevin sent mostly mid-1990s cards of the Blake Street Bombers, such as Dante Bichette hitting off a yellow tee while wearing his trademark wraparound sunglasses.

1995 Upper Deck #175 Dante Bichette
As though this card weren't goofy enough, there's a rather shady-looking character in the background checking his mobile phone or pager (hey, this was 1995). Apparently he trusts that Bichette won't foul one back off that tee.

There were a few "hits" as well, like a Topps Certified Autograph of Rockies starter Jeff Francis.

2006 Topps Autographs Green #TA-JF Jeff Francis D
It's nice that they left so much room for the player to go wild with his signature, but I am having a hard time trying to visualize any other design with that much empty space, especially on the front. But it is an on-card autograph, rather than a hologram sticker that seems to be generally less desirable.

There were cards from numerous different years of Topps Stadium Club, a brand that Kevin seems to enjoy. In fact, he posted earlier today about the enormous 1992 set, so I'm not surprised to have found lots of TSC in this assortment. I'll have to keep that in mind before I send his trade package across the Atlantic.

2003 Stadium Club Royal Gold #59 Todd Helton
The thickness of this card made me wonder if it was some type of special parallel. If memory serves, this era of Stadium Club parallels had a refractor finish, so I looked it up to be certain. Sure enough, this is the Royal Gold parallel. Turns out I even had the base card already. This will go well alongside another card I already had of the Royal Gold variety.

2003 Stadium Club Royal Gold #65 Albert Pujols
Interestingly enough, both of my cards from this parallel set are horizontal. This is not true for all cards in 2003 Stadium Club.

Over the years, Stadium Club got to be a bit like Fleer Ultra. They always used full-bleed photographs and some type of foil, but they never really changed the designs much. You could always count on a nice-looking card, but being able to tell each year apart remains a challenge. Frankly, the same goes for some of Upper Deck's later releases.

2002 Stadium Club #9 Mike Hampton
2002 Stadium Club #30 Larry Walker
I haven't found any 2014 Stadium Club yet, but I do welcome the brand's return, especially after the long-ago demise of Fleer.

As I mentioned before, Kevin threw in lots of Blake Street Bombers, and one that particularly caught my eye was a sparkle-fest from Score Summit.

1995 Summit Nth Degree #105 Dante Bichette
1995 Summit #105 Dante Bichette
The scan of this "Nth Degree" parallel came out pretty blue, but in reality it has more of a silver appearance. As if that weren't enough, Kevin even threw in Dante Bichette's base card! For being a mid-1990s set, Score Summit is one that I don't see very often.

To wrap up this Bichette-heavy post, here's a card from one of my favorite parallel sets of all-time, 1994 Topps Gold.

1994 Topps Gold #372 Joe Girardi
My sister and I got Girardi's autograph once at the Rockies "Dugout" merchandise store in Boulder, where he was signing next to Eric Young. I remember it quite vividly. Dinger was present and up to his usual triceratops antics, I congratulated Joe on his home run the previous night, and he gave a live radio interview before heading back down to Denver for that evening's game.

Such great memories to be jogged by a stack of cards that have traveled all the way to Europe and back.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What's new last year?

In the midst of all these trade posts, I haven't posted much about the cards I ordered from Dave & Adam's Card World a few months ago. I've opened everything by now, but haven't sorted through it all just yet. Part of that shipment was a blaster of 2013 Topps Update, and there was quite a bit of interesting photography to be found.

First off, a Coors Field Card! The forest behind center field which I've written about before is visible here, along with a section of the Wells Fargo banner in right center above the bullpens.

2013 Topps Update #US118 Joe Blanton
I figured that it would be pretty easy to pinpoint which game this was from, as the Angels rarely make interleague appearances in Denver. However, research shows that the Angels didn't play the Rockies at all in 2013, nor was Blanton an Angel prior to that, which can only mean that this is a Photoshop job on Topps' part. Blanton pitched for the Dodgers in 2012, and made a start in Coors Field that August. I am guessing this photo was taken while Blanton was playing for LA's National League team, rather than their Anaheim rivals as pictured.

Detective work is fun!

Continuing to examine these photos with a fine-toothed comb, this checklist card of Mariano Rivera shows a vehicle of some kind in the middle infield area. Which is an unusual location for vehicles, to say the least.

2013 Topps Update #US237 Mariano Rivera
Rather than some lame pickup truck like Madison Bumgarner drove away with for earning MVP honors in this year's World Series, Mr. Sandman was the recipient of a shiny new C7 Corvette Stingray for his performance in the 2013 All-Star Game. The Chevy guys would probably not like to hear that I initially thought this was a Dodge Viper until I remembered that Chevrolet has been a major sponsor of MLB for quite some time.

Another interesting photograph came on this horizontal card of A.J. Pollock with his exuberant teammates exiting the dugout.

2013 Topps Update #US34 A.J. Pollock
An imminent play at the plate! This looks to be against the Dodgers, possibly even in walk-off fashion.

Of course, there were more than just base cards in this box. Topps Update always seems to be heavy on content from the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby, so this short-printed variant card of Bo Jackson at the '89 All-Star Game fits with the Update theme quite nicely.

2013 Topps Update #US16b Bo Jackson SP
Though this card doesn't mention it, Bo was the MVP of that All-Star Game in Anaheim. Regrettably, injuries plagued him and derailed his promising career, leaving him as one of the best players that "might have been," in two sports, no less.

I know I've posted cards from Topps Emerald before, but I just can't get over how striking they are.

2013 Topps Update Emerald #US187 Wilson Betemit
Don't expect me to pass up an opportunity to show off a little green.

I missed most of the buzz about the Chasing History inserts, which seems to be quite a well-liked and frequently collected set. That's not surprising, given that there is a great mix of old-time legends and current stars to be collected.

2013 Topps Chasing History #CH-147 Bob Feller
This is the base card, but there are silver- and gold-foil parallels to be found as well. Parallels of insert cards. This can be a confusing hobby, indeed.

Finally, I thought it was very appropriate to find two cards in particular from the Postseason Heroes insert set—one that is exclusive to 2013 Update, unlike the above, which was found in all series of 2013 Topps.

2013 Topps Update Postseason Heroes #PH-3 George Brett
2013 Topps Update Postseason Heroes #PH-11 Buster Posey
Think back just a few weeks to the World Series, when the San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals in seven games. George Brett had the TV cameras trained on him quite frequently throughout the postseason, and Posey performed well on-field. The way these photos are positioned, Fox could have done some clever graphics and used these two cards to illustrate the matchup, perhaps something like the animation of two colliding helmets that precedes many football games.

Even though Topps Emerald was a one-year treat, I'll still look for a deal on 2014 Topps Update next year.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Trading Post #6: Catching Up With Collecting

Trade packages continue to fill my mailbox! Jared from Catching Up With Collecting reached out a few weeks ago to say he had "a ton" of Rockies cards, and would be happy to send some over. Jared also included a few cards from Julie at A Cracked Bat, some Rockies that snuck their way into the wrong trade package. I'll save those for a later post, but I appreciate both Julie and Jared working together to correct that error.

His shipment showed up Monday, the very same day I was selected to sit on a jury for a week-long trial, so as you can imagine, I haven't been able to keep up with my hobbies this past week (or even work, for that matter).

But that's all wrapped up, and I've been diving into my many recent pickups and trade packages this weekend. Digging into Jared's shipment, one of the first that caught my eye is this insert from 2013 Topps.

2013 Topps Chase It Down #CD-12 Carlos Gonzalez
When healthy, Carlos Gonzalez is quite the upgrade in left field from Matt Holliday, who hit well enough to make up for some pretty serious defensive blunders during his tenure as a Rockie. Here he's shown "chasing it down" to strand a runner in scoring position, according to the paragraph on the back. It looks like he dug out a small divot in the outfield grass while lunging for this liner.

The other oft-injured Rockie superstar that's rumored to be on the MLB trading block is Troy Tulowitzki, who introduced me to another insert set by appearing on a UD Starquest card.

2008 Upper Deck First Edition Starquest #SQ-58 Troy Tulowitzki
I seem to be a sucker for this lovely shade of green, and am considering chasing this 60-card insert set, along with 2013 Topps Emerald.

Even with Upper Deck out of the hobby, it never ceases to amaze me how many cards are out there. Despite having tens of thousands of cards lying around, it's quite common for me to see a set or parallel for the first time. More on that later.

2010 Topps Attax Silver Foil #28 Ubaldo Jimenez
I've seen plenty of Topps Attax cards that refer to the defunct website, but I never knew there was a "silver foil" parallel to this unnumbered insert set. It's not any thicker than usual, but has a refractor-like finish and still looks pretty despite the broken URL on the back.

In one of my first posts, I wrote about the "Topps Finest Protector" peel-away coating, which I peeled off this card of now-manager Walt Weiss mere seconds ago.

1997 Finest #180 Walt Weiss B
I seem to remember something about any copper-colored card in 1997 Finest being termed a "Common", and sure enough, flipping this card over confirms that my memory is intact. Amazing, since fractured sets like this aren't exactly easy to keep track of.

Carrying on, Jared included one of my favorite bonuses in the hobby, a serial-numbered card!

2013 Topps Gold #427 Chris Nelson /2013
A thought occurs. What if 1991 Donruss cards, for example, were serial numbered? They'd probably look something like those gimmick $100 million bills. I've read that industry-wide, "billions" of cards were printed annually during those years, and that estimate doesn't seem far off the mark.

Nick over at Dime Boxes has been writing about 1995 Fleer quite a bit lately, so this scan is for him!

1995 Fleer #531 Eric Young
It is one crazy-looking set, especially the NL West theme, yet it's somehow distinctive. I have a lot of trouble telling one Fleer Ultra set from another, for example, but love it or hate it, this one really made a mark on the hobby.

Earlier I mentioned that I often run into older sets for the first time. Right around 1997, Fleer had the brilliant idea to actually include the year and set name in the fine print on the back, a feature that makes sorting quite a bit easier. Pacific followed this innovation a couple years later, as did Upper Deck in the mid-2000s. Topps still doesn't do this, and I must admit that having nothing to go on besides the copyright date (which is sometimes a year behind) drives me a little crazy.

But anyway, Pacific made quite a unique insert set in 2000 Crown Royale called "Card-Supials". An obvious play on "marsupial", the mammal variety that raises its young in a pouch, these standard-sized cards also include a removable miniature card (1.25" x 1.75"), slightly larger than Topps Micro.

2000 Pacific Crown Royale Card-Supials #5 Sammy Sosa
2000 Pacific Crown Royale Card-Supials Minis #9 Ben Petrick
Above the pocket is a large gold-foil team logo, in this case Sammy Sosa's Cubs. Research indicates that there are twenty cards of each size, though they are paired randomly. In fact, since minis are a bit difficult to store alone in 9-pocket pages, this "pouch" is a perfect way to display them.

Thanks again to Jerad for all the Rockies, including plenty that were novel to this collector. I still need to send some cards his way, but I have a healthy stack of Red Sox and some of the catchers on his player collection already set aside. I've been receiving quite the wide variety of new cards from my fellow bloggers, and I'm happy to reciprocate.