Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Trading Post #31: Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary

A couple months ago, Brian from Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary had the bright idea to blend a group break with some plain old trading. Rather than a monetary buy-in, all Brian wanted in return for the Rockies found in five boxes ranging from 1996 to 2003 were some Twins cards. After a trip to the monthly card show last Saturday, I mailed a return package to Brian just today.

As is true for many of our collections, 1996-2003 is a bit of a dark period. This break was particularly interesting, as the boxes Brian opened were these:
  • 1996 Pinnacle
  • 1999 Fleer Ultra
  • 2002 Topps Gallery
  • 2002 Fleer Greats
  • 2003 Stadium Club
Although I was shut out of the Fleer Greats box (in fact, there are only a few expansion teams represented in that set), I ended up with some pretty nice cards from an underrepresented part of my collection.

2003 Stadium Club #59 Todd Helton
As you might imagine, there were more than a few cards of Helton and Walker.

2003 Stadium Club #94 Larry Walker
Oddly enough, I've received the Royal Gold parallels of both cards via past trades, only now adding the base version of Walker to my collection.

No one did full-bleed designs better than Stadium Club, although Fleer Ultra ran a solid second for a few years.

1999 Ultra #154 Darryl Kile
This close-up of the late Darryl Kile was one of the best photos to be found among his fellow Rockies in 1999 Ultra. We can even see his uniform number #57 on his glove. The Rockies have a memorial banner facing the bullpens in right-center field commemorating Kile, but I think the Rockies ought to fully retire his number to honor his memory.

1999 Ultra #8 Mike Lansing
Lots of collectors in this community are fans of double plays, and Mike Lansing looks like he's trying to keep his balance as Kevin Jordan of the Phillies attempts to break it up. Fleer saw fit to tweak the design a little and move the lettering off to the right, rather than keep it centered as on the vertical cards. 1996 Donruss could have learned a thing or two from that.

1999 Ultra Gold Medallion Edition #179G Larry Walker
This Larry Walker card was the only parallel I ended up with. The base card was also present, but this is the Gold Medallion Edition, which has that gold background and lettering on the back, plus a unique card number, something that's unusual yet brilliant for a parallel. That's a bit different from previous years, which didn't have a gold background, although there was a raised seal right on the front.

Next up is 1996 Pinnacle, starting with Andres Galarraga signing some autographs for what looks to be some young New York fans.

1996 Pinnacle #93 Andres Galarraga
This was before interleague play, so it was probably shot in Shea Stadium. The horizontal orientation is nice, although many of the horizontal cards in 96 Pinnacle seem backwards to me. When it's in a stack with other cards, either the back is upside down or the gold triangle is on the top, unlike the vertical cards where they're on the bottom.

I must admit, inconsistencies like that bug me a little. I suppose that obsessive tendencies aren't all that uncommon among baseball card collectors. I'm sure that more than a few set collectors were irritated when Topps "retired" #7 in their flagship set. I could write a whole blog post about card designs that are oriented opposite to what "feels" right to me.

In fact, I just might.

1996 Pinnacle #139 Dante Bichette NAT
Nothing out of the ordinary here. Both the back and front are vertical, and there's an appropriate amount of gold foil for a mid-1990s card. There are a few subsets in 1996 Pinnacle, although I seem to run across "The Naturals" much more frequently than others.

Bichette's batting gloves are quite prominently featured both front and back, and that is one piece of equipment that's evolved quite a bit in two decades. They almost look like gauntlets now.

2002 Topps Gallery was a fine final choice. The images are all painted, and with cards like Gypsy Queen and Diamond Kings out there, Gallery is easily the best example of a painted card. Some of the late-'80s Diamond Kings look downright creepy.

2002 Topps Gallery #105 Juan Pierre
Isn't that a great card? It's painted from a photograph, obviously, but of the six Gallery cards that fell my way in the break, this one shows Coors Field the best. Juan Pierre was one of the speediest guys in the league for quite a while, and he won a World Series ring with the 2003 Marlins.

2002 Topps Gallery #43 Mike Hampton
Topps enlisted the services of several artists for this set, and this one chose to go with more of an abstract background than Pierre's card. I've seen a few Topps Gallery cards from various years, but I'd never noticed that each card has a short paragraph on the back about each artist's background. Four different artists are represented in these half-dozen cards.

I'm not sure whether I fared better or worse than the other break participants, as I don't recall seeing many other related posts. Regardless, these cards will go a long way to fill some gaps in my collection, and this was a fantastic idea on Brian's part!


  1. Love the autograph shot on that Pinnacle Galarraga. Looks like you made out all right in Brian's group trade!

  2. Got a shiny 2015 Topps Series 1 Arenad purple refractor up for trade if your interested