Monday, March 9, 2015

Birthday Season

My birthday is on Tuesday! Mine is the first in about a five-week stretch that also contains my sister's birthday, as well as both my parents'. Now that my sister and I both have busy adult lives, we often get everyone together at once to celebrate a couple at a time. To mark the beginning of "birthday season", we all went out to brunch yesterday along with our significant others, and my mom gave me a small wrapped package.

The thoughtful mother that she is, she picked three cards from my "Eight Men Out" wantlist and ordered them from eBay!

1998 Collector's Choice #443 John Olerud
I first saw this card on Nick's Dime Boxes blog and I knew it would be perfect for my Coors Field mini-collection. That is a great shot of the third deck in right field, along with the iconic light towers that show off the exposed metal architecture of the stadium.

As I mentioned yesterday, Coors Field has been through some changes over the years. Just last season, The Rooftop opened where you see most of those stands in Olerud's card. They tore down the upper right field seats all the way to the corner (just barely visible on the right side of this card) and built an outdoor patio, complete with lounge areas, premium food and drink, and standing-room terraces with great views of the ballpark, Downtown Denver, and the mountains to the west.

Olerud, one of the few players to go straight to the Bigs without ever playing in the minors, certainly doesn't look too pleased about whatever just transpired on the diamond. He spent a few seasons as a Met, but I remember him as a Blue Jay, and a key part of the 1993 World Series, the first one I ever watched.

Not only does this card give you a great view of Coors Field's architecture, but also of Colorado's summertime weather. That is a pretty angry-looking storm cloud looming beyond right field, which is a pretty common occurrence in the Denver area. True rainy days are quite rare, but quick isolated thunderstorms are pretty common in the afternoons. They usually go west to east, meaning that whatever precipitation this cloud has in store is likely safely past the stadium and on its way to hammer the Eastern plains and airport.

That was your meteorology lesson for today, so let's move on to the next card.

1995 Fleer Lumber Company #2 Albert Belle
Most insert cards from 1995 Fleer are pretty tame relative to the polarizing base set. I actually have a little bit of a soft spot for that set, as well as a fairly complete collection of the insert cards. That Belle is one of the last few I need for the 10-card Lumber Company insert set. Though there isn't actually a bat relic in that oval (good idea, though), this gave collectors a wood-grain fix that hadn't been seen since 1987 Topps.

Notice I said "most" insert cards from 1995 Fleer. That statement does not include "Pro-Visions" cards, which are a perfect accompaniment to the crazed base set.

1995 Fleer Pro-Visions #6 Manny Ramirez
All six Pro-Visions cards are pretty much like the above. There are a lot of randomly appearing baseballs, a nature background that looks like something from an iPad game, a very red/orange color pallete, both gold and silver foil, and usually some type of natural disaster. Tim Salmon's card has...salmon.

1995 Fleer Pro-Visions #5 Tim Salmon
You can't make this up.

But I already completed that set, as well as three others from 1995 Fleer. There's one card I need to finish off the 10-card League Leaders set, and it's of the late Tony Gwynn.

1995 Fleer Ultra League Leaders #6 Tony Gwynn
Tony Gwynn won eight batting titles in his career, so there are understandably lots of cards to document that. Some readers might notice that this one is actually from 1995 Fleer Ultra, rather than just 1995 Fleer.

Apparently, Fleer was so busy in 1995 making some truly wacky cards that they couldn't be bothered to give Tony Gwynn a different card number in their premium set. It's still #6 (of 10, even). Paul O'Neill suffered the same fate in that checklist. I have relatively few cards from 1995 Fleer Ultra, and, as is common for mid-1990s cards, this is the first time I've known of or seen this particular design.

So, there are lots of questions to answer here. Is this the precise Tony Gwynn card from my Eight Men Out list? Not exactly. Is there a reasonable likelihood of confusion for a non-collector or eBay seller, based on Fleer's numbering snafu? Absolutely. Is this new to my collection and baseball card knowledge base? Yes.

Does it matter that I got a different Tony Gwynn League Leader card #6 of 10 printed by Fleer in 1995 than I had been on the hunt for? Nope. Am I grateful for having such wonderful loved ones that spend time and money on indulging this little hobby blog of mine?

You'd better believe it.

Thanks, Mom!


  1. Happy Birthday! You have a very thoughtful Mom!

  2. Happy (early) birthday, Adam! Didn't even notice that the Olerud was a Coors Field card until now. Definitely one of my favorites from the Olerud collection.