Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Not Mickey Mantle (Part 1: Not Topps)

Even when I make a special trip to my local card shop to pick up the new centerpiece of my collection, I'm always up for some low-priced goodies. The beauty of a well-stocked LCS or card show is that there's something for everyone, so in addition to a half-century old Mickey Mantle card, I was sure to pick out some $1 foil packs from the mid 1990s.

1994 Leaf #395 Paul Molitor
I know most people probably think of Paul Molitor as a Brewer, but he was a member of the 1993 champion Toronto Blue Jays, which was the first World Series I watched (or at least remember watching). I saw so many cards of him that year in a Toronto uniform, so it doesn't seem that unusual to me. The same goes for Bob Welch as an Oakland A.

If I've learned anything about this hobby from all my fellow bloggers, it's that the first cards you were exposed to seem to set a pretty strong benchmark by which other eras are judged. Night Owl is a huge fan of the mid-1970s, but some strike-era glossy, full bleed cards with more than a little gold foil is right up my alley.

Especially for a buck a pack.

1994 Leaf #269 Kent Hrbek
I only knew Kent Hrbek and many of the not-quite-superstar AL players only from their baseball cards. 1994 was long before the days of MLB.TV, and even a few years before my family ponied up for cable television. I saw Matt F. mention Hrbek's Twitter account not long ago, when the slugging first baseman followed him, so why not throw him in here?

By the way, if you're a fan of podcasts, Matt from Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius and Dave from Card Junk get together once a month or so and discuss the latest in the card collecting hobby. I'd say it's worth a listen if you want to branch out from the blogs or Twitter for some card discussion. And Dave's movie reviews always leave me chuckling.

1996 Rockies Fleer #3 Ellis Burks
Of course, podcasts lack the benefit of the visuals we can include on our blogs and in our tweets, so I'll stick to writing for now. How else would you get a look at one of the Rockies' three 30/30 club members, and his 1995 commemorative Coors Field patch?

This card of Ellis Burks came from a 1996 Fleer Rockies team pack, an item I see quite frequently in the Denver area. It's a 20-card team set, and the cards come 10 to a pack. What's unusual about them is that they have a glossy finish, unlike Fleer's 1996 and 1997 base sets, which had a delicate but distinctive matte finish. These have a plain silver foil, unlike the parallel Tiffany cards, which had a rainbow foil. I had these misfiled for quite some time until I took a closer look.

1994 Score Rookie/Traded #RT32 Brian Harper
The giant rack of dollar packs was pretty full of football, so I had to dig pretty deep to find a dozen packs to my liking. Three were from Score's 1994 Rookie/Traded set, one that I think reminds us all of 1990 Donruss. And few of us want to be reminded of 1990 Donruss. To be honest, I thought these were of the 1994 base set until I opened them. I chose one of the traded veterans to scan, because the names on the rookies are almost completely unreadable. That's quite a trick without using any foil.

1994 Score Rookie/Traded #RT131 Norberto Martin
See what I mean?

1997 Score #7 Ryan Klesko
By contrast, 1997 Score doesn't really struggle with readability problems. Other than a widely spaced, all lower-case, sans-serif font that really stretches itself out on horizontal cards, it's fine. What isn't so fine is that in just ten cards, I got two duplicates and two checklists. So if you want a card of Ryan Klesko at the bat rack, let me know. I can spare it.

Overall, these non-Topps packs were about 50/50. I'll open mid-1990s Leaf all day long, but the Score products were scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit.

Let's move on to a more interesting section of Mike's Stadium Sportscards, the unnamed center table bargain area with 4/$30 pricing. Which happens to decrease to 4/$25 when you're in the store for 1962 vintage.

This LCS is absolutely packed to the gills with cards and memorabilia. Mike, myself, and three other customers were practically climbing over each other for 45 minutes trying to move to different sections of the store. The bargain area has quite an assortment, ranging from stacks of junk wax to plaques to hardcover books. I found a copy of Harry Caray's Holy Cow! for a Cubs fan coworker. But what I really went for in this area were the complete sets.

1994 Sportflics #146 Will Clark
It's no secret that lenticular cards don't scan well, but Sportflics did an interesting take on a traded player here, depicting Will Clark with a Giants cap, then a Rangers cap following an off-season trade. They don't line up perfectly, but it's a clever idea, and Clark has the same half-grin in each photo.

Mr. Clark came along with 192 other Sportflics cards, a complete 1994 set that I found in the large plastic bins underneath the bargain table.

2004 Upper Deck #549 Paul Lo Duca
I also found a few sub-100 card small sets, and I had to consult my Completed Sets page in-store to check whether I already had various Fleer Update and Topps Traded sets.

This Paul Lo Duca, in another unfamiliar uniform, is from the 2004 Upper Deck Update set. Unlike most other brands, UD numbered these 50 cards consecutively with the 270-card series 1 and 2, something I wish Topps would do. But then that would mess with their card #661 gimmick.

1992 Pinnacle Rookies #14 Monty Fariss
Even smaller, coming in at just 30 cards, was 1992 Pinnacle Rookies. Though they don't have the same cult-classic design as the 1992 base set, I believe they mark Pinnacle's first foray into gold foil. It's unusual that they left the logo alone in the upper right. Usually that was the first thing to get the gold treatment. There's also a bit of gold foil on the back, which may have been an industry first.

I really couldn't tell you much about Monty Fariss, but I do appreciate a good broken bat card on a set that's new to me. It was even packaged in its original box with that same card-sized styrofoam padding Pinnacle liked to include.

1992 Donruss #153 Kevin Maas
For a mere $6.25, part of my haul was a complete 1992 Donruss set. Especially on the card backs, Donruss had been giving us pretty much the same card ever since their inception in the early 1980s. By 1992 at least they saw fit to shift the elements around a bit to make room for a headshot.

1994 Donruss #436 Reggie Sanders
Gold foil made its inevitable appearance by 1994, and they finally did away with the practice of including the player's full name on the back. After a dozen years of "Ronald Maurice Darling, Jr.", it was long overdue. I found the complete series 2 in the bargain area, a perfect complement to the series 1 already in my collection. We're going to need a bigger box.

1992 Upper Deck Gold Hologram #183 Chris Hoiles
Last of all for the non-Topps portion of this two-post series is another factory set, 1992 Upper Deck. Kevin Maas makes another appearance just a couple cards down (I swear that was an accident), but this time he's sporting Yankee pinstripes in a cameo on Chris Hoiles' card in a great play at the plate shot.

Preceding Upper Deck SP by one year, the 1992 UD factory set cards are slightly differentiated from their pack-based cousins. Flip these over, and you'll find a gold hologram on each one of the 800 cards. I've run across these a few times before, but they do take a bit of an eagle eye to spot on their own.

It's definitely not counterfeit.

1 comment:

  1. Great pickups! I have a weakness for '97 Score that I can't explain.