Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Trading Post #22: Dime Boxes

Yes, it's Super Sunday, and it will be time for "The Big Game" (to keep the NFL's intellectual property SWAT team happy) in a few hours. And what better way to spend some time during pre-game than blogging about baseball cards?

My buddy Nick over at Dime Boxes sent over a stack of cards recently, and I have to admit, I had a really hard time narrowing down what I'd scan for the blog. He's kind of the king of mini-collections, and he did a pretty good job finding some great Coors Field cards for me.

I've written a couple times recently about pinpointing the date a baseball card photograph was taken. One of the cards that Nick sent probably provided enough information for me to do that.

1997 Upper Deck #59 Walt Weiss
However, in a stroke of genius, 1997 Upper Deck frequently just flat-out told us on the front of the card. Just to be sure, I did pop over to to verify, and it does indeed check out. So there you have it. April 27th, 1996. That was easy.

The prior year's UD set didn't have the specific date listed, but this one's nearly as easy.

1996 Upper Deck #65 Andres Galarraga
That is from the final game of the inaugural Coors Field season on October 1st, 1995. The Rockies beat the Giants to win the NL Wild Card, which marked both the first postseason appearance for the Rockies, as well as the first year of the expanded playoff structure. Lucky for the Rockies that the Wild Card exists at all. They've never won their division, so all three of their postseason appearances were earned on Wild Cards.

I remember that game and the victory lap the Rockies took in their brand-new ballpark. And here's another Fun Fact: though it just opened in 1995, it's already the third-oldest ballpark in the National League.

Looking at 1996 and 1997 Upper Deck side-by-side, I never really noticed how similar these sets are. UD logo in the upper left, copper border on the bottom with silver foil above it. Even the backs have a pretty similar layout, though I do prefer the shift to full career statistics on the 1997 cards, rather than just a few recent seasons of stats that appeared on prior sets.

There's still a bit more Upper Deck to cover, starting with the second and final year of one of their most beautiful sets.

2008 UD Masterpieces #30 Matt Holliday
UD Masterpieces only existed for two years, 2007 and 2008. They were small sets, too—only 90 base cards and a few short prints. But they're stunning. Makes you wonder what this hobby would look like if the glossy trend hadn't started. This card documents part of the historic run the Rockies made in September and October 2007. Including the postseason, they won 21 of 22 games to make it to the World Series, and Matt Holliday cranked out quite a few home runs during that span.

Longtime readers know that I'm a sucker for serial numbers. And this trade package didn't disappoint.

2009 UD A Piece of History Blue #116 Dexter Fowler /299
Dexter Fowler was one of my favorite Rockies in recent years. There's just something about the speed and range of a Center Fielder. He was traded to the Astros last year, and he'll be playing for the Cubbies in 2015.

Like Masterpieces, the "A Piece of History" set only existed for a few years. However, it's a bit unusual, in that 25% of the checklist consists of "historical moments" from world history.

2009 UD A Piece of History #175 Smallpox Eradicated
Such as a card commemorating what might be humankind's greatest achievement, the eradication of smallpox. As you likely know, vaccines and the diseases they prevent have been in the news lately. My choice from the Historical Moments subset should say all I need to say about my position on that matter.

Back to baseball, another serial numbered card came from 2013 Opening Day. The numbered blue parallels are one of the few places to find foil in the Opening Day brand, and it's just in that tiny date above the opening day logo.

2013 Topps Opening Day Blue #79 Tyler Colvin /2013
Coincidentally, this one just happens to be #1000. Round numbers are just so pleasing, aren't they? The purple "sea turtle" clashes a little bit with the blue background, but into the collection it goes!

2013 Topps Emerald #449 Michael Cuddyer

2012 Topps Stickers #273 Dinger
There were two or three of these stickers, which is yet another set I had never seen before. I don't really recognize this size either. It's got some odd dimensions, too: 1 13/16" x 2 5/8". No idea how they came up with that, but Dinger cards (and mascot cards in general) are some of my favorite ones to find.

2011 Topps Allen and Ginter Mini Bazooka #131 Chris Iannetta /25
These narrow A&G minis are a bit more recognizable, but Nick put this one in a penny sleeve with a note to "check the back!"

2011 Topps Allen and Ginter Mini Bazooka #131 Chris Iannetta /25 (Reverse)
This is the rare Bazooka back variation, and unlike most serial numbers which are embossed in foil, this one is handwritten in blue ballpoint pen. I can honestly say that I never expected to see that. And irony of ironies, though it's written on, that makes it more valuable.

Nick loves the oddball cards, and while these aren't my cup of tea as much as some other collectors, they do mix things up a bit.

1988 Donruss Pop-Ups #8 Bret Saberhagen
Regardless, I am pleased to see that the Bret Saberhagen portal my girlfriend opened up on Christmas is still open.

Throughout its existence, Pacific straddled the line between mainstream and oddball. 1998's Pacific Online set was definitely a bit more on the oddball end of that spectrum.

1998 Pacific Online #238 Jason Bates
This one with gold foil is the base card; there's also a red foil parallel. Pacific was weird like that. Either way, that ugly white URL bar is still up at the top, and it still gives you a 404 error. There are a few remnants of it on, and it looks pretty much like you'd expect for a website built in 1998 that ends in ".html".

I could easily pick another three or four cards, but this has been a long post and it's getting close to gametime, so the last card I'll show today is pretty similar to a relic card I blogged about last week.

2013 Topps Chasing History Holofoil Gold #CH-97 Troy Tulowitzki
That's nearly the same Tulowitzki card that I got in trade from Andrew's Baseball Cards, though without the baseball bat relic. Instead, that's the Holofoil Gold parallel (yes, a parallel of an insert, I know); basically a refractor. Now that I have the two rarest varieties, going for the rainbow of this card wouldn't be too difficult. It would just be two more cards; the base and the silver holofoil. Perhaps I'll work my way backwards in terms of scarcity.

Just a quick note to wrap this up. In my opinion, Nick's blog is the best one around. The number of new blogs I see that mention Dime Boxes as an inspiration (my own included) is quite high. He's a great trader, has an encyclopedic knowledge of the hobby, and I don't think this community would be what it is today without him.

Thanks, Nick, and you'll find a return shipment headed your way shortly!


  1. Thank you for the kind words, Adam. They mean a lot. I certainly never knew I'd be writing about these dime box-type cards for over three years now when I first started.

    Glad you enjoyed the package as well! I've been sitting on that Ianetta mini for a while now, happy I could find a good home for it. I'd love to see Topps try something similar to the Pacific Online set one day, though I'm about 99.9999999999 percent sure it'll never happen.

    P. S. -- The back of Eric Young's 1996 Upper Deck card also has a shot from that Wild Card-clinching game in 1995.

  2. The base card from 1998 Pacific Online is actually silver foil. The red was a retail parallel and the gold was a rare Web Cards parallel. They have a website address on each card that at one time would have taken you to a page about that player.