Monday, February 29, 2016

The Trading Post #54: Jaybarkerfan's Junk

As you may be aware, I am the Rockies representative in the #SuperTraders group spearheaded by Wes of Jaybarkerfan's Junk. He might be the most prolific trader in our whole community, as many bloggers quake in their boots at the prospect of a "bombing", a personalized trade package that really can't be matched, hard though you might try.

As a Rockies collector, there are relatively few overproduction cards of my team out there, other than 1993 and 1994. While I'm still buried up to my neck in cards from that era, like we all are, few of them come via trade packages. A coworker dropped a stack of at least 200 cards from 1991 and 1992 Topps on my desk at work today, and while many of the things he found when cleaning out his garage this weekend ended up in the trash, he knew he had a buddy that would be happy to thumb through some old Topps cards.

My inaugural #SuperTraders trade package, of course from Wes, had a few from 1993, but a surprisingly large portion of this shipment contained cards and sets I had never seen before.

2014 Bowman Sterling Prospects #BSP-9 Jon Gray
Cards like Bowman Sterling, a very shiny card with a basic silver background. It has sort of a cloudy appearance near the corners (much like 2016 Topps Base), and not quite the same mirror finish as Pinnacle Certified, but you could probably use this thing to tie a tie in case of emergency. It has some of Possible Future Rockies Ace Jon Gray's vital stats spelled out on the front, sort of a combination of Allen & Ginter and 1995 Fleer.

So there you go. Put 1995 Fleer, any A&G card, 2016 Topps, and 1997 Pinnacle Certified in a gene splicer, and you'll get 2014 Bowman Sterling, a new set in my collection.

2005 Artifacts Rainbow Blue #93 Todd Helton /100
Upper Deck made a ton of sets in the mid-2000s. MLB Artifacts definitely sounded familiar, and I did manage to find a lone card from 2005's release already in my collection. This Todd Helton card is the Rainbow Blue variety, with Todd Helton's initials in the background having the appearance of being carved in marble. The dark blue foil is a little hard to read, but you pretty much have to do something with the color to make a parallel, and with no border, foil it is.

2009 Bowman Chrome Blue Refractors #93 Brad Hawpe /150
A Bowman card of Brad Hawpe also gets the blue parallel treatment, though with a slightly more plentiful print run of 150. This is from the 2009 set (yes, I had to look it up), but I do give this card an extra nod for including the player's uniform number in the lower left. Few card brands do that, but it's a nice addition when not accompanied by a zillion other things. I'm looking at you, 1996 Donruss!

2010 Topps Copper #429 Seth Smith /399
The serial numbered goodness continues with this 2010 card, from Topps' 59th year of production. The left-hand curve makes this a distinctive set, as does the gigantic team logo in the lower left, something Upper Deck was not permitted to do that year. I don't remember what we agreed this set should be called (the curve set?), but to me, it's the "Lording It Over Upper Deck" set.

At first glance, you might think this is one of the gold parallels, but the border color is actually copper, an entirely different parallel set, with about one-fifth the print run. Or five times scarcer, if you prefer your math that way. I really dislike saying there is "more less" of something, which is what you're basically doing when you use a multiple with a word indicating less. No one says "My wallet has five times less money in it than it did before I did a beer and snack run at the ballpark."

Just a style preference. But anyway, /399. And it's my first 2010 copper parallel.

1995 Stadium Club #499 Andres Galarraga EC
Most of what I've shown you so far is pretty unfamiliar to me. I recognize a couple of the base designs, but there are definitely no duplicates so far. Same goes for this Galarraga card. I recognize the 1995-1996 Stadium Club logo, but never ran across an "Extreme Corps" card before. That's surprising, since I actually opened packs of this set in my first round of collecting. 1996 Stadium Club was one of the last sets I bought before I lost interest for several years.

Even more surprising is that this isn't even an insert. It's a subset. It's just a base card from 1995 Stadium Club, and I'm baffled that I never knew it existed.

So this is what a JBF bombing looks like, eh? I think I like this Super Trader thing.

1995 Finest #68 Dante Bichette
Finally, something I recognize! All those new cards were blowing my mind a little bit, so it's nice to return to normalcy for a few paragraphs.

Topps Finest was three years old by this time, and though it doesn't have the gorgeous green shade of 1994, I was still pretty blown away that a baseball card could look so much like a jewel. Then Topps turned it into one of those atrocious fractured sets, and it took a while before I started liking it again.

If there's one thing I could banish from the history of baseball cards, it would be fractured sets. Manufactured relics, sticker autographs, dozens of colored parallels, junk wax, reprints of five-year-old cards, the mind-numbing sameness of Bowman, <insert your most hated year> Donruss, and all the other things we card bloggers like to nitpick could all stay. Even short prints. Fractured sets are the devil.

2005 Upper Deck Marquee Attractions Jersey #MA-TH Todd Helton (MEM)
And now we're right back to cards I've never seen before. This one happens to have the playfully coincidental card number of "MA-TH", but there's also a pinstriped swatch relic in there! The design of this UD card hides the presence of the relic like no set I've ever seen before. It took a few trips through the stack before I even realized there was one. I like it, though! It has sort of an art deco look, perhaps what a relic card would look like if they existed in the mid-20th century. And like all UD cards, it contains that reassuring hologram on the back.

2000 Upper Deck Hitter's Club #84 Ben Petrick HS
If not for a very recent Mystery Pack, this Hitter's Club card would have been another novel set to me. It has the same mint green foil as that Marlins card, but this time with a Coors Field shot in the background!

There are a few bloggers out there with Ben Petrick player collections. I don't remember much about him other than being one or two fans away from getting his autograph before he retreated into the dugout, but I didn't look into his story until recently, after wondering why a Giants blogger was so interested in the guy. Turns out, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in his rookie year. Despite that, he still hung around the Majors for five years, before having to retire at 27 due to the condition.

He remains active in the baseball world, and as an advocate for the disease. I'm not sure whether any of his cards reference this, but to have a Major League career of any length while battling that is quite amazing.

2010 Upper Deck Tape Measure Shots #TMS-20 Ian Stewart
1955 Bowman, and 1962 and 1987 Topps will always be the woodgrain sets, but there are insert sets that carry on the theme. Fleer's Lumber Company comes to mind, but not as much as this UD insert card from 2010. This year was the end of Upper Deck's presence in the baseball card market, which is unfortunate, to say the least. This is a pretty cool card, and I especially like the details of the exact date. UD has always been really good at helping collectors date cards, even if they took it way overboard with their 5,000-card Documentary set.

464 feet is a pretty impressive distance to hit a ball. That's about a 7-iron for me.

2014 Topps Opening Day Stars #ODS-7 Carlos Gonzalez
I'll close with one of the few sets I knew existed before this package arrived. I have a few cards from this 3D insert set found in 2014 Opening Day. And I should, since I bought two blasters of the stuff. Still, though the Rockies were well-represented in the Opening Day Stars insert set, CarGo and Tulo's cards have eluded me until now. I think. Unless they're in the 5,000 count box that these fifty-plus trades have been going into for the past couple years.

I have lots of binder work to do, especially since I'm now a #SuperTrader.

But not as super as Wes.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Antique Mall Mystery Pack: Yankees

If you've hung around for all the Mystery Packs from the Brass Armadillo antique mall these past few months, then this one will look a little bit different. That's because these next few came from an entirely different vendor clear across the store. In fact, they weren't mystery packs at all. Rather, these were in a full 9-pocket page, front and back.

But I want to keep the theme going. "Antique Mall Fully Visible Page" doesn't have the same ring. And anyway, they're definitely older than most of what you've been seeing lately.

1976 Topps Traded #528T Dock Ellis
Clear back to the 1970s, in fact. Thanks to the awesome No-No: a Dockumentary movie that came out recently, Dock Ellis, the Pirates pitcher who famously pitched a no-hitter while on LSD, has become much more well-known in recent years. Though he spent most of his career as a Pirate, he wasn't happy with getting sent to the bullpen in 1975, and following a team-imposed suspension, was dealt to the Yankees in the 1975-1976 offseason, earning a spot in the second-ever Topps Traded set.

Ellis is definitely not in a real Yankees uniform here. I'm sure that's a National League stadium in the background, and his hat has that fuzzy watercolor look common to airbrushed photos. But more tellingly, Ellis still has his mustache and sideburns, which is just barely within the limits of the Yankees' facial hair policy. It's a nice bridge between the 1972 In Action card I found in the Pirates pack and the next card.

1977 Topps #71 Dock Ellis
Following his departure from Pittsburgh, Ellis probably decided not to deal with testing Steinbrenner's limits and just went clean shaven. He passed away several years ago, after dealing with drugs, alcohol, and a domestic violence incident, both during his career and afterwards. As depicted in the movie, he spent a lot of time in his later years working as an advocate and coordinator in drug rehab programs.

Sure, the guy who dropped acid on game day had a lot of things to say about drugs, but he certainly wasn't the only one. The movie focuses quite a bit on Dexamyl, the drug of choice for many MLB players of the time, both on and off the Pirates. Drug use in the Majors goes way back, long before the recent round of steroid use, and Ellis himself contends that even guys like Ruth and Gehrig had to have been using something to play a day game after spending the night drinking.

I'm not saying that pro athletes should be involved with illegal drugs, but I am saying that it's bogus to single out steroid users while ignoring the 1970s, or even the 1920s, as Ellis alleges.

1976 Topps Traded #27T Ed Figueroa
Ellis didn't have the only 1976 Traded card in this page. The Yankees sure were busy shoring up the rotation on December 11th, 1975, acquiring Ed Figueroa the same day as Ellis. Figueroa got the airbrushed treatment too, though Topps did a much better job on Ellis' pinstripes.

Topps Traded was still finding an identity in the mid-'70s. The torn newspaper headline is a nice touch, but the card numbers are what I found most interesting. In 1974 and 1976, they used the same card number for a player's Traded card as in the base set, simply adding a "T" on the end. It's an interesting idea, if a bit confusing. Dock Ellis' card is 528T, but the Traded set wasn't anywhere near that large.

1981 was a bit different, as the Traded set just picked up at card 727, right where the base set left off. It wasn't until 1982 until we saw the numbering system we know today, staring at 1 and having a "T" as a suffix, or maybe as a prefix, or with a UH or US in the card number in the most recent sets.

Frankly, it's always been a bit of an odd set. They were printed on white paper stock instead of cardboard, they used to come in those tiny 132-card boxes, and though now it's grown to the size of a full series, it's pretty much the set commemorating the All-Star Game.

I like the 1981 numbering scheme the best. It makes it feel like it's a continuation of the base set, not some after-hours secret project.

1977 Topps #656 Ron Guidry
Ron Guidry was just getting his Major League career going when this card was printed, though he'd go an amazing 25-3 in 1978 on his way to the Cy Young award. A bunch of guys have won 24 games in a season since then, and Bob Welch managed 27 in 1990, but Guidry's still pretty far up the list of single-season wins going back to the mid-1970s.  Even better, his career lasted into the early days of the overproduction era, so I definitely pulled a few of his cards as a kid buying packs of 1987 Topps.

1977 Topps #162 Mike Cuellar
The seller that put this page together must have run out of Yankees, as a rogue Oriole stole a spot. Mike Cuellar had a pretty solid career himself, winning the Cy Young award in 1969 and a World Series ring in 1970. But by 1977, his career had come to an end, pitching a few innings for the Angels before calling it quits. To use Dime Box Nick's term, this is Cuellar's "Sunset Card", as he never got a card for his brief appearance in Anaheim.

Speaking of Nick, the birthday boy bid us "somewhat of a farewell" today, but still plans to engage with the Cardsphere. Though we may not see (m)any more posts from him, his impact on this community, including the very existence of Infield Fly Rule has been tremendous. And for that, Mike Cuellar's Sunset Card and I thank him.

1971 Topps #358 Danny Cater
But this blog goes on, continuing to the black-bordered greatness of 1971 Topps. I've never heard of Danny Cater before, but it's from the set that reached #3 on Night Owl's countdown, and it's definitely worthy of that lofty position. In fact, it was one of the sets on my second-ever post, part of the contest winnings from Nick that kicked this blog off.

Wow, I mentioned Night Owl and Nick in the same paragraph. Are those guys influential or what?

1972 Topps #22 Rob Gardner
Why is it that these miscut cards always have such nice edges? The card itself is in better condition than almost every other card from the page, but there's a tiny bit of the "tombstone" cut off the top, and a bit of the next guy's card below. If anyone has memorized the sheet layout of 1972 Topps, and can tell me who had a green-colored tombstone on a card beginning with the number 3, I'm rather interested to know whose card I have 1% of. Or who has 1% of my Rob Gardner card, for that matter.

1978 Topps #335 Bucky Dent
Jumping from one of the oldest cards on the page to the newest, here's the hero (or spoiler) of the 1978 AL East tiebreaker game, Bucky Dent. The Aaron Boone of 1978, if you will. And Dent is looking mighty dangerous at the plate with that bunt.

As is true for about 25% of baseball seasons, the Yankees won the World Series that year, thanks in large part to Bucky Dent, who went on to be named the MVP of the '78 Series. Aaron Boone's heroics didn't lead to a championship in 2003, but that was one of many home runs I have in my memory banks. Others are McGwire's 62nd (I was on the phone with my Grandfather), Brosius, Jeter, and Soriano from the 2001 World Series (best Series I've ever seen, though my team didn't win that one), and Matt Holliday's home run in Game 3 of the 2007 World Series (I was there!)

Sorry for all the Joe Buck.

Looking at that list, it comes to mind that you could get a pretty darn good baseball education just by watching World Series home runs. Joe Carter, Carlton Fisk, Bill Mazeroski, David Freese, Derek Jeter, Kirk Gibson, Reggie Jackson, Kirby Puckett. And an even better one if you extend it to pennant-winning home runs like Boone, Dent, and Bobby Thomson.

It only got them to the ALCS, but I'll put Jose Bautista in there too. Something about that bat flip seems important for the future of the game.

And of course, there's the most famous home-run hitter of them all, Babe Ruth.

I didn't run across any cards of him at the antique mall, but a page of guys that all played in "The House That Ruth Built" works for me.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Take that, Lucy!

It's almost Valentine's Day, and here I am ready to write about Christmas.

When I was growing up, we had lots of family traditions around Christmas (and still do), but most of the annually aired 1960s TV specials were something I missed out on. Frosty the Snowman (narrated by Jimmy Durante) was the primary exception, along with a few 1930s-era Disney cartoons.

The stop-motion Rudolph special I only saw once or twice, and I was in my early teens. I hadn't even seen Elf until a couple months ago. Same goes for the Grinch animated film (though the Jim Carrey remake was pretty amusing), plus perhaps the most classic of all, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

It's true, I had never seen that Peanuts classic until maybe six weeks ago. And it's probably one of those things you have to do by a certain age to fully appreciate, sort of like reading The Catcher in the Rye. Thirty-one is a bit late.

Still, at least now I know what it's all about. But there was one scene that really stuck out during my first-ever viewing.

It's the scene where Schroeder is playing Beethoven's Fur Elise with Lucy sitting nearby. Lucy gripes that "Beethoven wasn't so great." Schroeder fires back with "Whaddya mean Beethoven wasn't so great?!" Lucy ponders that one for a moment, eventually responding with "Have you ever seen his picture on a bubble gum card? How can you say someone is great who's never had his picture on bubble gum cards?"


Well that got the gears spinning.

Surely with all the multi-sport retro sets like Upper Deck's A Piece of History or Allen & Ginter, that statement is no longer true. A little digging led me to add a card to the Eight Men Out list, which my girlfriend recently filled for an early Valentine's Day present.

So which card was it that set the record straight?

2009 Topps Allen and Ginter #83 Ludwig van Beethoven
2009 A&G took care of that, finally allowing a baseball card blogger to refute a claim made in an American Christmas classic almost fifty years prior.

Card or no, Beethoven was a musical genius, especially in light of the hearing loss that struck him in his late twenties. He was so influential that the 74-minute length of a Compact Disc was allegedly designed to fit his 9th Symphony. And like several legendary composers, his 9th Symphony was his last. It's a bit of a superstition in classical music, sort of a 19th-century predecessor to the Madden Curse.

Like many of his contemporaries, he set up shop in Vienna, and on our trip last summer, we got to dine at a winery in the Heiligenstadt district of Vienna, a spot that Ludwig himself lived in the early 19th century. Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Strauss, and others are immortalized with statues all over Vienna.

And, as of 2009, he's also on a baseball card.

We can't know whether Topps created this card early in the existence of Allen & Ginter specifically to address Lucy's concern, but after almost 50 years, Topps made Beethoven great again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Antique Mall Mystery Pack: Expos

We're past the two-year anniversary of Infield Fly Rule, a date in mid-January that I blew past about six posts ago (and long before the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50!). I did a giveaway and everything for my first anniversary, but this one slipped my mind. Once Off Hiatus Baseball Cards and Bob Walk The Plank write their anniversary posts, I know I didn't miss mine by much. The three of us entered this community right around the same time, though they've both done way more posts than I have.

But I have plenty of material to keep going, though perhaps not at the frenzied pace of others in the Cardsphere.

1994 Triple Play #91 Moises Alou
Material like yet another Mystery Pack from the antique mall. Obviously this one is of the Montreal Expos, the team that moved to Washington over a decade ago to become the Nationals. Perhaps no team suffered as much from the Strike as the Expos. As the 1994 season came to an abrupt close in mid-August, they had a commanding lead of the NL East, the best record in baseball, a small but passionate fan base, and a giant helping of bad timing.

Alou was one of the key members of that 1994 Expos team, but didn't get his chance to shine in the postseason until he joined the Marlins for their 1997 World Series championship. And I'm sure if you're a Cubs fan, all I have to do is say Moises Alou's name to trigger some unhappy memories. He did end up with his ring, though some other players from that team never did.

This might be the first time that I used the same set to end one post and begin the next. 1994 Triple Play must look a bit familiar by now, as the impact of those big cutout letters can't be missed.

Also, is it just me, or does the Expos logo look like a "JB"? A kid in my third grade class used to wear an Expos hat, and I spent months wondering what the heck JB stood for. I finally did see the puffy-looking "M" in that logo, but I don't remember who finally clued me in, whether it was my classmate, my dad, or someone else entirely.

1994 Triple Play #289 Cliff Floyd
Anyway, I thought I knew 1994 Triple Play pretty well until I saw this Rookie Revue subset card. It's part of the base set, but it's the first time I ever ran across anything like it. Upper Deck did some Star Rookie subsets that looked pretty much like this, didn't they?

1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond #19 Michael Jordan
That's right, 1994 Upper Deck! Those are some pretty similar designs, which makes me wonder if one copied the other, or if they came to this independently. Of course, this is one of Michael Jordan's more well-known baseball cards (perhaps second only to his 1991 Upper Deck card), but this happens to be the Electric Diamond parallel—UD's answer to Topps Gold.

1993 Ultra #420 John Wetteland
Alou and Floyd both won their World Series rings with the '97 Marlins, Jordan almost has too many NBA championships to count (fine, six), and Wetteland took home MVP honors for the 1996 Yankees, their first World Series in almost twenty years. Wetteland was a stellar closer, though he passed the baton to the legendary Mariano Rivera after that.

I am guessing that this photo from 1993 (not 1992!) Fleer Ultra was taken at Wrigley Field. The slope of that foul territory wall looks about right, and it's definitely a day game, still a common thing in Chicago. Plus Fleer shot a ton of photos in Wrigley Field. Go check 1991 Fleer Ultra to see what I mean.

1993 Topps #69 John Vander Wal
We saw a card of John Vander Wal not long ago, as one came via trade from Brad. But before he was a Rockie, he was an Expo, reaching the Bigs for the team that drafted him.

Flip this card over and you'll see a strong influence from Leaf's Studio brand, as we get John's player data, complete professional stats, and fun facts like how he studied Civil War History, and enjoys snowmobiling and RC cars and airplanes in his free time.

If that's not a complete ripoff of 1991-1993 Studio, I don't know what is.

Topps has consistently been my favorite card brand, and honestly, if someone besides them had the exclusive MLB license right now I might be less interested in the hobby, but you have to admire all the competition and one-upmanship that was going on back then. Sure, they all printed billions of cards that are now pretty much worthless, but there was a firestorm of new ideas that hit the hobby in the space of a very few years. Pictures on the back and white card stock from Score in 1988, holograms from UD in 1989, right through the first relics and serial numbered cards in the mid 1990s.

Compared to that, new sparkly patterns and border colors don't really capture the imagination in the same way as seeing competitors push the limits of innovation. Or even blatantly rip off each other's ideas.

1993 Topps #89 Eric Anthony
Whoops, looks like an Astro snuck into this pack!

Though their team colors are quite different, and they played home games about two thousand miles apart, "Astros" and "Expos" sound enough alike to be confused from time to time. As I recall, my dad often mixed the two up, so whoever put this pack together had the same thought process. But I still have to pause when considering whether the Astros are playing an interleague game or not.

1991 Score #210 Tim Wallach
1991 Score is on my list of completed sets, so like everyone's Tim Wallach extras, this one will be headed to Corey at the Stackhouse Law Office. Happy to help the cause!

1993 Upper Deck #635 Kent Bottenfield
I don't know if Kent Bottenfield has British ancestry, but his name certainly sounds British. And not long after this card was printed, the Rockies traded a 2-8 Butch Henry to Montreal for Bottenfield, who ended up going a decent 6-6 in two seasons for the Rockies. One of those eight losses that Henry gave up was June 15, 1993, a game Tim Wallach also happened to play in.

Turns out a decent number of these Expos guys made it to Denver at some point in their careers. And we're not done yet!

1994 Collector's Choice Silver Signature #293 Rondell White
I don't remember much about Rondell White other than recognizing his name from a bunch of Expos cards in 1993-1994, though he had a surprisingly long career, and even made it to an All-Star Game in 2003. Just one of those guys that would pop up from time to time on some random team and you'd wonder aloud, "Oh, is that guy still playing?"

The image on this Silver Signature card was probably taken during his rookie year of 1993. He's just a righty, but it looks like he's wearing a switch-hitter's helmet with ear flaps on both sides. But if you look really closely, you'll notice that he's using Tim Wallach's bat!

I'm actually starting to have a bit of an affinity for this Wallach fellow. He's turning up everywhere. That's the third time he's turned up in this post alone.

1993 Score #488 B.J. Wallace
Remember that Kirby Puckett insert from 1993 Score I had never seen before? Well, here's a subset from 1993 Score I have never seen before. I have a good sixty-plus cards from that set, plus a few from the Dream Team subset, and plenty of the caricature All Star cards, but never a Draft Pick card. B.J. Wallace was picked third overall in 1992, but never made it past Double-A.

At least Greg Reynolds, picked second overall by the Rockies in 2006 ahead of Kershaw, Scherzer, and others, made it to the Majors. To snag B.J. Wallace, the Expos passed on Jason Kendall, Charles Johnson, Johnny Damon, Preston Wilson, Jeffrey Hammonds, and, most notably, Derek Jeter.

Oops. Clearly the best in the business get it wrong pretty often.

1993 Topps Black Gold #7 Marquis Grissom
1993 marked the debut of Topps Black Gold, the awesome insert set of my childhood. I pulled a few of them from packs, but I always stared longingly at the Ken Griffey, Jr. in the card shop, the one that always had a pretty hefty price tag for a nine-year old.

A guy like Marquis Grissom was much more reachable, and like many Expos players of this era, he did go on to win a World Series after the strike. In fact, he did so the very next year with the Braves, the only time Atlanta won a World Series during their decade-plus of dominating the NL East.

1993 Topps Black Gold #22 Larry Walker
Sadly, unlike many of the players you see in this post, Larry Walker never won a World Series. In fact, he never even won a World Series game, as the Cardinals were swept by the curse-breaking Red Sox in 2004, his only appearance in the Fall Classic. The Cardinals did end up winning in 2006, one year after Walker's retirement. That has to be quite a disappointment for a borderline Hall of Fame candidate. Still, he was a well-liked player in Colorado, one of the few stars to play in both the Blake Street Bomber era and as a contemporary of Todd Helton.

If I had a time machine, or at least an alternate-universe machine, I'd want to see what would have happened in 1994. And I bet Larry Walker would too.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Antique Mall Mystery Pack: Twins

There's been a fair bit of repetition so far in the Mystery Packs from my trip to the antique mall last year, but this first card is from a set we haven't seen in some time.

1993 Studio #109 Chuck Knoblauch
It's 1993 Studio, which toned down the weird a bit from the previous year. Rainbow foil facsimile signatures are found on each card in this set, but Chuck Knoblauch's John Hancock, like most, is fairly illegible. I definitely can make out a "K" in the middle of the scrawl, though.

Not only does the back of the card tell us that the second baseman enjoys ice fishing and Vin Scully, but during my trip to German-speaking Europe last summer, I learned that "Knoblauch" is their word for garlic.

This is probably the simplest Studio design from their run. Not long after this, they took a pretty huge jump to a credit card theme, whose parallels even had rounded corners. But in 1993, we just got a portrait with a close-up of the team's hat logo.

Charles Garlic, second base for the Twins, who lost the ability to consistently throw to first base after joining the Yankees.

1992 Topps #164 Shane Mack
Full-sized 1992 Topps cards always look a little strange to me. One of my earliest-ever pickups was a set of 1992 Topps Micro, whose cards are barely bigger than a postage stamp. Seeing this design in a standard 2.5" x 3.5" always seems a bit...giant.

Nonetheless, it flew under the radar despite a solid design and good photography, though most would rank it a few steps below 1991. Outfielder Shane Mack is sliding safely into third here, and based on the opposing player's uniform stripes, I think he's in Cleveland. There's not a ton to go on to date this card, but I'll go with June 15th, 1991. Mack had just doubled in a run, and advanced to third on the next batter. This heads-up baserunning meant he'd go on to score on the following play, before Scott Leius got caught trying to advance to second to end the inning.

1993 Score Franchise #9 Kirby Puckett
Though you might not recognize it, this is an insert card from 1993 Score. I opened a few packs of that when it was new. I even remember getting a pack as a Hanukkah present one night. But inserts were few and far between.

This insert set features a player from each of the teams (then just 28), but many featured as "franchise players" played on several teams throughout their careers, even Ken Griffey, Jr. The late Kirby Puckett did indeed spend his whole career on the Twins, helping lead them to two World Series titles, and earning his way into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Those are quite a series of accomplishments despite passing away at the young age of 45.

1994 Topps #583 Chip Hale
Chip Hale never reached legendary status as a Twin, though his long fly ball in a 1991 minor league game comes up on blooper reels all the time. Someone had to hit the ball that led to Rodney McCray running right through the outfield wall. And that someone was Chip Hale, current manager of the Diamondbacks, and subject of a poorly-centered 1994 Topps card.

This card also predates the Brewers' move to the National League, as they're seen playing the AL Twins a few seasons before interleague play. That move has cemented itself in my mind much more firmly than the Houston Astros moving to the AL, but ask me again in 2034 which league the Astros are in and see how long I hesitate before I answer.

1993 Topps Gold #146 Scott Leius
Scott Leius, the immortal hero that advanced Shane Mack to third base four cards ago, is seen rapidly drifting to his left to catch an infield fly. Pitcher Scott Erickson is looking on to ensure nothing goes awry in his infield, and oh yeah, it's a Topps Gold parallel!

Though I haven't seen any in person yet, this 1993 design seems to have influenced the new 2016 Topps product, as I see definite parallels between the two. Name on top, team on bottom, 45-degree banner in the lower corner. Other than the border, its clearly a close cousin.

1994 Triple Play #260 Dave Winfield
Remember how I said in my previous post that Charlie Hough in a Marlins uniform didn't look that unusual to me since I found so many cards of him when I first started collecting? The same goes for Dave Winfield as a Twin. He was only a couple years from retirement by this time, his string of 12 consecutive All-Star selections had ended several seasons prior, and the seagull incident was long behind him, but he was still able to put up some decent stats for Minnesota.

This pack was a little on the light side. There were still plenty of good cards, but quite a few commons from 1992, 1993, and 1994 Topps, so it contained a bit less variety than past packs. But the Twins are a likable team, and they've forged enough of an identity in Minnesota that few remember they were once the (first) Washington Senators.

But the city they (and the Rangers) left meant the Expos had somewhere to go when they left Montreal. Come back next time to see the team that ought to have won the 1994 World Series, had it occurred.