Monday, March 16, 2015

The Trading Post #28: The Lost Collector

I don't get a whole lot of mail, and I'm fine with that. I check the mail every day, and when there is actually something there, more often than not it's important. Like a Netflix disc. Or my renewed Colorado Driver's License. Or maybe a birthday card. And with increasing frequency, baseball cards!

The lone item in my mailbox today was a Plain White Envelope (PWE) from a previous trading partner, The Lost Collector. We did a fairly big trade shortly before Christmas, but he found two more that missed the first shipment.

2008 Topps Moments and Milestones Black #125-38 Matt Holliday /25
I've written about the insanity that is Topps Moments & Milestones before. They pick a player and a season or career stat, in this case Matt Holliday's 216 hits in 2007, and print a separate card for each of those hits. This one commemorates his 38th hit, as we can tell by the numeral "38" on the front. That's the only thing to distinguish it from the other 215 varieties.

So let's do the math. 216 base cards for each hit, plus three colored parallels (this one is Black, the most common of the parallels), plus the four printing plates. That means there are 868 varieties of this single card. The 2008 Moments & Milestones base set comes in even bigger than the 2007 release at a whopping 12,000+ cards, and that's before you factor in the colored parallels.

Frankly, I think Topps seriously dropped the ball on this concept. I would much prefer if they had done something more along the lines of Upper Deck's Documentary product, or even the Mickey Mantle home run cards, one for each of the Mick's 536 career dingers.

2006 Topps Chrome Mantle Home Run History Blue Refractors #MHRC530 Mickey Mantle /200
What makes this set work is that we get specifics about his 530th home run, not just the numeral 530.

2006 Topps Chrome Mantle Home Run History Blue Refractors #MHRC530 Mickey Mantle /200 (Reverse)
Flip it over and we get all sorts of goodies about #530. The date, the inning, the opposing team and pitcher, the number of men on base, even on which side of the plate the legendary switch-hitter was slugging from at the time. Interestingly, #531 happened on the same day in 1968, and was hit off the same pitcher.

Topps made a similar 73-card set for Barry Bonds in 2002, and that one even gave detail about its distance and direction.

2002 Topps #365 Barry Bonds HR 73 (Reverse)
I like cards that can be dated based on the photograph or a caption. If Moments & Milestones gave us detail like the Mantle or Bonds sets, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'd be out hunting for cards whose "moments" occurred with me in attendance.

Anyway, I do like the Holliday card, and the Black parallel that The Lost Collector sent works well with the Rockies' colors. I'll just let this card appeal to my affinity for serial numbers and the Rockies, and try to suppress the set builder in me.

A question for player collectors: would you want every base card of your chosen player from Moments & Milestones? Or would any one of them suffice?

I mentioned there were two cards in this PWE, and this was intended to be the main attraction, according to the handwritten note.

1998 Ultra Rocket to Stardom #10 Todd Helton
The late 1990s were a crazy time, indeed. Without a doubt, this Ultra insert (notice the absence of the Fleer name) is the most textured card I own. Each one of those potentially lethal "icicle shards" is a raised surface. Both the lettering and Helton's outline are raised as well, but the strangest part are the slanted streaks in the jersey area. They make him look sort of ghost-like. There's a lot going on here.

Not only that, but this card is die-cut. The edges are rounded, which makes the overall shape look something like a comic strip thought bubble. I think this is a good idea in a die-cut card, since those rounded edges are much less likely to get dinged than some of Topps' recent designs.

For all its over-the-top design features, the paragraph on the back actually speaks pretty intelligently about Helton's upcoming career. It was hoped that Helton would replace Andres Galarraga at first base, bringing a strong bat to the lineup. After his long career as a Rockie, Helton also ended up being a bit of an upgrade defensively, winning three Gold Gloves to Galarraga's two.

These are some of the more unusual cards I've received via trade, and though they aren't setting any design benchmarks, they certainly inspired plenty of commentary for a two-card PWE.


  1. I consider myself a player collector too, currently chasing Altuve. I've picked up most of his cards but feel 2015 will be another story if Heritage short prints foreshadow this year's releases. I definitely would not collect a series of cards like Moment and Milestones. Something hitting the mail for you today. I felt sorry for your mail box.

  2. I remember getting a low numbered Freddy Sanchez from Moments and Milestones when it first came out and was pretty excited. Then realized they made a billion of each card.

    1. Same exact experience with a Mantle. I was like "woooow it's low numbered"...but then I realized there were thousands.

      Glad you enjoyed the cards! I loved that Helton!