Friday, September 23, 2016

Antique Mall Mystery Pack: Wrap-up

A good chunk of my posts over the last year came from cards I purchased at the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Denver. I took a trip there with my girlfriend about a year ago, and this post will cover the last of my haul from that visit. In this series, you've seen team-focused posts of the Mets, Pirates, Blue Jays, Astros, Giants, Marlins, Twins, Expos, Yankees, Braves, and Brewers.

A few of the cards in this post came from teams I already covered, but since these came from a different vendor, I had them set aside in a different stack. And they range from the early 1970s through to current players that are still on the same team.

2013 Topps Emerald #587 Matt Cain
Matt Cain of the Giants was often known as one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball, often turning in great pitching performances with minimal run support. This was certainly the case whenever he was on my fantasy team. But 2012 turned things around for him. In addition to the Giants' even-year magic, which could still happen in 2016, Cain threw a perfect game. There were three that year, but haven't been any since. Cain and Felix Hernandez threw the second and third in 2012, and they're both still pitching for the same teams. Philip Humber threw the first that April, but was released at the end of 2012. He went an appalling 0-8 for the Astros in 2013, kicked around the minors for a few years, and announced his retirement in March.

It goes without saying that perfect games are a rare beast. Max Scherzer almost had one last year until he hit the 27th batter (who really kind of leaned into it). Yu Darvish lost his bid on Opening Day 2013 when a single went right up the middle through his legs. And Rich Hill was pulled after seven perfect innings just a couple weeks ago due to injury concerns.

This Emerald parallel of Cain is not from his Perfect outing, as that came at home in AT&T Park. Cain is wearing his road jersey on this 2013 card, one that I can add to my collection of 2013 Emerald parallels. This is my favorite parallel set of at least the last ten years, even if the Giants' orange color clashes a little bit.

1977 Topps #201 Ed Kranepool
Rolling it back about 35 years, here's a 1977 card of the Mets' first franchise player, Ed Kranepool. He still holds the Mets team records for games played and singles. He was a key player for the 1969 Miracle Mets championship team, and never suited up for anyone else.

The back of his '77 card, coincidentally, contains a cartoon about the Seattle Pilots. They "were in existence for only the 1969 season." There's a drawing of some stadium gates with a sign in front that says "Home For Sale". The Pilots, you'll recall from a previous post, became the Milwaukee Brewers a year later. I'm guessing that Topps chose that bit of trivia to coincide with Kranepool's only World Series championship, which also came in 1969.

1972 Topps #164 Tug McGraw IA
Digging a few years further back in Topps' archives takes us to 1972, Giving us an action shot of Tug McGraw. 1972 was an All-Star year for him, but he'd only have a few years left as a Met before he was traded to the Phillies, where he finished his career.

Action shots were quite a new thing in 1972, and so novel that they can stand on their own without much other fanfare. The back of the card is basically just an ad for Series 3 and 4, promising the chance to "See your favorite stars when they were kids!", "Headline Higlights of 1971!", "Test your knowledge of the game's rules!", plus "12 of your favorite stars on special action cards." That last one actually omitted an exclamation mark, unlike most of the other taglines.

1995 Topps Embossed #89 Jeff Montgomery
By 1995, action shots were old hat. For that year and that year only, Topps released the Embossed set, stylized as tMB. I can't help but think of this as a kid-focused set, as MB means Milton Bradley in my mind. And I mean the company that made Battleship and Connect Four, not the retired MLB outfielder with a volcanic temper.

These cards have a raised surface on both sides, and it may have been a pioneering product. Upper Deck released a ton of cards like this in the 2000s (Ovation comes to mind) but I don't know of one that predates 1995. If there's a silver lining to the Strike, at least baseball card companies got extra-creative.

2015 Topps Gold #587 Daniel Descalso /587
I'll always like gold parallels, and I think the colored border works surprisingly well on the 2015 design. Daniel Decalso remains a Rockie into 2016, and even got a few hits last weekend against the Padres. Jon Gray's pitching performance last Saturday was one of the best in Rockies history, as he struck out a team-record 16 batters on his way to an 8-0 complete game shutout. Descalso was 2-4 that day, and it looks like he put one in play on this card, too.

1994 Score Gold Rush #445 Sandy Alomar Jr.
Score Gold Rush parallels popped up pretty frequently in these mystery packs. They're as eye-catching as anything out there, but in my experience are pretty fragile. I've had a Willie McGee Gold Rush card in my collection since I was a boy, and the lower right corner has been gradually peeling off the card stock for most of that time. You can see a bit of damage to the center of this card, probably because it was stuck to another card. And now that I look at it side-by-side with 2015 Topps, they both have three similar rows of dots on the bottom of the design. I'm pretty good with details, but I probably never would have picked up on that if I hadn't seen one right after the other.

We even get a bonus cameo of Paul Molitor on this card, a guy who's been showing up around here a lot lately.

2013 Topps Cut To The Chase #CTC-15 Dustin Pedroia
This isn't what anyone would expect to find in an antique mall. Die cut cards with a bit of shine from a Red Sox Championship year are pretty new. For all I know, it was the newest object in the entire building. Dustin Pedroia was the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year and has been a part of two Boston championships. As this card tells us, he tied Ichiro for the most hits in the league in 2008, with 213. That remains a career high for Pedroia, but was actually kind of a down year for Ichiro.

I really enjoyed this trip to the antique mall. Despite not knowing a lot of what I was getting, I significantly added to my vintage collection, relived some of my favorite sets from childhood, got a ton of material for blog posts, a bit of trade material, and got the opportunity to expand my baseball knowledge, primarily around that whole Seattle Pilots business.

It would be fun to go back.

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