Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Trading Post #66: Jaybarkerfan's Junk

The first time I attended a card show after my exit from the hobby in about 1996 came when I was in college. It was probably 2003 or 2004, at the now defunct Westminster Mall north of Denver. Alfonso Soriano was one of the hot tickets back then, and Todd Helton was solidly cemented as the Rockies' franchise player.

I learned a lot that day; that card prices had fallen quite a bit, overproduction cards were available for next to nothing, there were neat little relics of uniforms and bats, there wasn't much left in the way of Score or Donruss, and cards had gotten pretty shiny.

But the thing that stood out the most were serial numbers. Right there on the card was very official-looking proof of a card's scarcity. I came away with a nice stack of numbered refractors from 2003 Topps Chrome, just amazed that I had one of only 199 copies of each of the Black Refractors I purchased, like the below.

2003 Topps Chrome Black Refractors #327 Jose Hernandez /199
I found a few other numbered refractors of the slightly more common colors, like the /449 Golds and /699 Blues. I even snagged a few XFractor box toppers numbered to a mere 57, complete with the Topps Uncirculated slab. I was hooked, and they remain one of my favorite types of cards. This is partially why I was a bit annoyed that Topps removed the serial numbers from Opening Day blue parallels the past couple years.

But that affinity for documented scarcity made a particular trade package from #Supertrader head honcho Jaybarkerfan's Junk pretty amazing. I had a really hard time narrowing down cards to scan for this post, because pretty much all of them had this:

2002 Upper Deck Ballpark Idols #239 Rene Reyes /1750 (RC)
Yup, serial numbers. I don't recall much about Rene Reyes, but I vaguely remember him as a utility guy in the early 2000s. There was a lot in this package I'd never seen before, primarily because these types of cards (and this era) don't often show up in discount boxes. Plus the number of sets being printed up in the late 1990s and early 2000s was absolutely staggering.

It has all the correct dimensions of a standard card, but only has borders on three sides. The actual photo and the top banner continue right up to the edge, sort of like the Tibetan Flag. UD also uses one of their favorite devices to create a virtual 3D appearance, letting the photo overlap the other boxes, which makes the player appear to pop out of the card.

2002 Diamond Kings #160 Aaron Cook (RC)
Though they only had a few years left, Donruss was still printing in 2002, including their long-running Diamond King set. I wrote a bit about painted cards in my previous post, and Diamond Kings are perhaps the most well-known example of them. Anyone who collected at the height of the industry probably remembers them, though they aren't likely to know Panini still uses the brand today, nor that Topps has a product called Gypsy Queen with a similar look.

Cook's red beard is painted the correct color, but his hair isn't. He has red hair too, but the artist chose to go with a reddish-brown for the canvas background, rather than Cook's hair, which would have been correct. What I do like about these cards is that they have a rather unique surface, a lot like a playing card.

1993 Armando Reynoso The Queen of Spades
In fact, there were a couple of actual playing cards in here. This isn't from a set that Beckett recognizes, and there's no card number other than the Queen of Spades. I'm unsure about the provenance of this one, but I've played enough hearts to know that you don't want the 13 points this card represents (unless you shoot the moon, of course).

1997 Topps Chrome #26 Eric Young
Multiple exposures were quite the trend in the mid-1990s, and they do help create the illusion of action. The dirt spray helps too. I'd love to see a card or two like this in a modern set. Gold foil and glossy coatings were some of the pioneering innovations in the 1990s that stuck around, but multiple exposures and photos on the back are quite rare these days. I wouldn't mind seeing those make a resurgence.

Topps Chrome was only around for two years when this was printed, and already the dreaded curl was starting to show up. This isn't too bad, nothing like some of the 2010s I saw. And they used a mirror finish, rather than the odd dot pattern found in the inaugural 1996 set.

1996 Topps Chrome #122 Craig Biggio
I guess they are actually little diamonds, now that I look more closely. But there are dots around the border. I'm glad they got away from this type of pattern, otherwise I don't see myself liking Topps Chrome as much throughout the years. And I'm even more glad they use colored borders to differentiate parallels, rather than different dot patterns (though I suppose Topps Tek went down that road a bit).

2008 Finest Refractors Black #139 Seth Smith /99 (RC)
You might be a bit curious after those first few paragraphs where I went on and on about serial numbers, as few of the cards so far have them. Don't worry, they're coming. When it rains, it pours. To tide you over, this Finest card of Seth Smith is the rarest in the whole bunch, numbered to just 99 copies. As far as '08 Finest goes, that's middle-of-the-pack in terms of scarcity. And the black border works really well with the Rockies' pinstriped home uniforms. The Rookie Card logo is quite large, but doesn't obstruct anything and fits into this bold design quite well.

2013 Bowman Chrome Mini #137 Corey Dickerson
There was a nice little stack of these Bowman Chrome minis, including this one of Corey Dickerson, a rare look at a consistent major leaguer on a Bowman card. Usually the noise of the prospects drowns out the batch of established players, but they're in there. I guess collectors generally hold on to those types of cards, ditching the prospect cards of players who didn't pan out after a few years.

A couple of top prospects like Jon Gray and Tom Murphy were also included, but Dickerson is the only one to have made a name for himself in the Majors. He's not even on the Rockies anymore; instead he's having a decent season so far down in Tampa Bay.

2016 Topps Heritage #311 Jason Motte
Jason Motte, a reliever who has done quite well for the Cardinals (and a year as a Cub), was picked up by the Rockies in the offseason to add some much-needed depth to their bullpen. Trouble is, he's working through shoulder problems and has yet to throw a pitch in the Majors this season. Hopefully he'll be back by the time the Rockies start slipping down the standings, as is expected once the summer months roll around.

Also, that's my first look at 2016 Topps Heritage. 1967 isn't my favorite vintage set, but I do like the pale green of the card backs.

But Adam, where are all the serial numbers you promised? You've only done three so far, and one of those you already owned!

Fine. Brace yourselves.

2007 Topps Co-Signers Silver Bronze #4a Garrett Atkins w/Jeff Francis /175
I've seen more than a few Topps Co-Signers base cards over the years, but this is one of only a few that have a pair of facsimile signatures. This product only lasted three years, and while it's an interesting concept, the execution fell pretty flat. There are way more colored parallels than I care to count, but its easily in the double digits. Double that number again when you learn that there's an "A" and "B" variety of these parallels, both with a different ghostly teammate in the background. Though Jeff Francis literally gets top billing, this is considered a Garrett Atkins card, as he has the back entirely to himself, along with #022 of 175.

2008 Topps Co-Signers Silver Red #42a Todd Helton /400
Not much changed in 2008 Co-Signers, except the player is his own ghost on the "A" variety, only getting a teammate on the "B" variety. Both edges are a little beat up, but I've asked for red foil before, and there's a nice amount of it here. I assume that the "Silver" part refers to the background color, and the "Red" part to the foil and banners. It's just an odd thing to say, "Silver Red". I've never seen one, but there's also a "Hyper Plaid" foil color, itself with the same six banner colors available on Silver cards.

At least it's not a fractured set. But I can see why it flopped.

2012 Bowman Prospects Blue #BP12 Rafael Ortega /500
Rafael Ortega played two games for the Rockies in 2012, and apparently he's on the 40-man roster for the Angels right now, having appeared in a handful of games for them this year. I can't recall ever hearing of him, but Bowman Blue parallels often (always?) have serial numbers, and this one does. This one in particular is notable, as it's the final one in the print run, 500/500. I don't recall for certain, but I believe this is the only one in my collection like that. It's not any rarer than any of the other 499 copies, but there's something about that final one that is immensely satisfying.

2011 Topps Lineage Diamond Anniversary Platinum Refractors #118 Todd Helton
We'll take a quick breather here for a hyper sparkle Topps Lineage parallel. I am about a dozen cards from completing the base set, but I have a few of these parallels too. It's the same sparkle pattern found on 2011 Topps base cards, and there's a distorted glimpse of the Padres dugout in the background. Condition-wise, it's a bit off-centered, but I can't stop tilting this card under a bright light source to see the light bounce off all those facets.

2002 Donruss Production Line #PL-25 Larry Walker SLG /662
Back to our regularly scheduled serial-numbered programming, here's the inspiration for those Stat Line parallels found on current Donruss cards, where a player's statistics determine the print run. Natually, the better players will have more cards, because if they were to do one based off of Bartolo Colon's career HR count, it would be a 1/1. Interestingly, if they based it off his walks, it wouldn't exist yet. He's coming up on the all-time record for most plate appearances without a walk, and this weekend he became the oldest player to hit his first home run. As Night Owl says, that is reason enough to keep the DH out of the National League (or scrapping it entirely).

Incidentally, Night Owl received a pretty similar package, filled to the brim with scarce cards like this. Of course, his were Dodgers, but like that Orlando Hudson card from Colbey, another rogue NL Wester snuck into mine.

2003 Upper Deck Classic Portraits #152 Chris Capuano MP /2003 (RC)
I remember Capuano as a Brewer (in fact that's where he's pitching now, after bouncing around the league since 2011), but he got his start with the Diamondbacks. Though the sentence on the back documents his first MLB win on July 9th, 2003, the stat line claims he has "No MLB Experience". Perhaps that gives us an indication of just how much UD was rushing all these sets to market. The black marble background reminds me of one of the Bowman sets (1999?).

2004 Studio Rally Caps #RC-18 Joe Kennedy /999
Donruss went a little wacky with this insert set, having pitcher Joe Kennedy balance a baseball on the bill of his cap (or at least photoshopped one in). To me, it just looks like he flipped his bill up, rather than a true rally cap where you turn your hat inside out. If I were Joe Kennedy, I'd be happy that there are only 999 copies of this out there.

I remember David Freese's Rally Squirrel card, but I don't know if the Angels' Rally Monkey ever made it onto a card.

Superstitious lot, us baseball fans. I've sported a rally cap at Coors Field more than once.

1996 Donruss Elite #71 Dante Bichette /10,000
Players from the Blake Street Bombers era are a rarity on this type of card, since it was just beginning to be introduced in the early days of Coors Field. This one of Bichette, which reminds me a lot of 1994 Leaf Limited, is numbered to a staggering 10,000 copies. Makes you wonder how many cards were printed in a regular base set, if this special one has ten thousand examples. I spelled that out to match the card number, Seventy-One. Such was the gravitas of a serial-numbered card in 1995.

2013 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractors #36 Troy Tulowitzki /199
We haven't seen Tulowitzki yet, and this purple beauty from 2013 (I got the year right without looking it up!) is #42 of 199. Maybe you could start a Jackie Robinson themed serial-numbered card collection with just #42s. It would be a daunting challenge.

The paragraphs on the card backs of a prospect-heavy set like Bowman can usually be considered a scouting report, but with an established star like Tulo, his talents are well-known, like his "outstanding plate discipline" and that he's a "smooth defender with [a] rifle arm".

2012 Topps Tier One Relics #TSR-TT Troy Tulowitzki /399 (MEM)
The Serial Number parade rolls on (where does he find all these?), and we get a relic, to boot. Tier One is another of Topps' ultra-premium (and ultra-expensive) brands, one I rarely see in discount boxes. Even Triple Threads and Museum Collection end up in there sometimes. As this /399 relic is the least scarce card in 2012 Tier One, it's the closest thing to a base card that exists in that set.

It's hard to tell, but this doesn't look like silver foil to me. Rather, it looks more like a white gold. The color-coding is excellent, and the photograph is crystal clear. They chose an interesting stat for the back, writing about his career .389 average with the bases loaded. I imagine that's dropped a bit since then, but this is an absolutely gorgeous card. I wonder if this particular bat was used on any of those plate appearances.

2015 Bowman's Best Best of '15 Autographs #B15-BR Brendan Rodgers
The final card in this marathon post (you try narrowing this down!) is an on-card autograph of Brendan Rodgers. With Trevor Story making quite a name for himself already, this recently-drafted shortstop might have a tough time breaking into the big leagues, but if he does, and if he turns in a performance anything like Story has so far, this card will surely be a hot item in the Denver area.

Though it doesn't have a serial number like most cards in this post, it's a bold yet simple design, and is evidence of a Rockies farm system that is stronger than I can ever remember it being. Rodgers has lots of promise, Story is absolutely on fire, David Dahl is still coming along, and there are a slew of top pitching prospects to show for the Tulowitzki trade.

This was an amazingly generous trade package, and trust me when I say that the life of a #Supertrader is a good one. We still have openings for the Royals, Marlins, and Indians if you want in on some of this magic!


  1. That rally caps card is awesome, nice Rodgers auto! I know Keith Law loves him.

  2. Wes delivered some bombs for sure. Love the old Elite Series cards.