Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Trading Post #89: The Chronicles of Fuji

Fuji recently vacated the Athletics' spot in the #supertraders group, but that didn't stop him from sending an awesome trade package in December. He even took the time to put everything in penny sleeves for safe keeping. It was one of those trades where I had to narrow things down quite a bit to keep this from being a 20-card post, as I was dazzled by a lot of what he sent.

1994 SP Holoviews #10 Andres Galarraga
At first glance, this looks like a recent card with a hologram sticker autograph. But it's actually from all the way back in 1994. Upper Deck went all in with the hologram technology for this insert set, though there is no Upper Deck hologram anywhere on the back. The card has a Topps Chrome-esque curl, but the silver area at the bottom shows the Big Cat's 3D face on the right, and a bunch of SP logos coming out of some clouds on the left. They give the design a bit more of a 3D illusion by superimposing Galarraga's photograph over the hologram.

The card number looks like a fraction: 10 over 38. I was wondering if this was some kind of a fractured set, as I haven't seen this one before, Then I thought it might be something to do with the uniform number, but that was clearly not correct, as he wore #14. It's simply card 10 out of 38, the total size of this insert set. Simple.

1997 SPx #SPX24 Andres Galarraga
The Big Cat shows up again on a similar card a few years later, but this one is die-cut. The write up mentions that in early 1997, he became the all-time home runs leader among Venezuelans, with 252. He'd end up with just shy of 400, still a monster number. And he only played five seasons as a Rockie, so he had plenty of power outside of Denver.

There are lots of holograms on this one, even more than in 1994. The areas of the X contain a bunch of SPX logos, and the arc in the middle contains a nearly identical headshot of Galarraga against a backdrop of Rockies logos. It's even got a bit of color to it, both in Galarraga's skin tone and in the purple areas of the team logo. And there's even the familiar Upper Deck hologram on the back, this time in gold. 

Shiny at its best.

2011 Topps 60 #T60-11 Troy Tulowitzki
Topps 60 is one of those giant insert sets that I've been casually chasing for a while now. Coincidentally, I'd estimate that I've completed about sixty percent of it. This one of Tulo in that familiar batting motion documents his slugging percentage as a cleanup hitter. Between 2005 and 2010, Tulo was second overall behind Miguel Cabrera. And Tulowitzki didn't even play in 2005, and was a late-season callup in 2006. So while this doesn't quite give us an apples-to-apples comparison, Tulo was doing exactly what he was supposed to in the #4 slot.

The back of the card gives the top ten players in this stat. There are some familiar names on here, like Bonds, Berkman, Fielder, and others. And tied for 6th was Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg. He had a relatively short-lived career, but put together an all-star season in 2005. I even picked him for my fantasy team one year (probably the year after). He didn't have lasting power, but he was definitely part of the conversation for a while.

2011 Topps Diamond Duos Series 2 #DD-22 Troy Tulowitzki / Ubaldo Jimenez
Tulowitzki's post-swing pose finally made it onto a card, one of the two-player Diamond Duo cards, another large 2011 insert set. He appears with teammate Ubaldo Jimenez, neither of whom are even in the National League right now, let alone on the Rockies. The paragraph on the back talks more about Tulo's defensive performance, so it's a little odd that Topps used a batting shot here, especially given that he appeared in this insert set three times across two series.

The back also offers a statistics comparison between Tulowitzki and Jimenez, except comparing a pitcher's stats to a position player's doesn't seem that relevant. For example, Tulo had 338 RBIs by then, compared to Ubaldo's 655 strikeouts. 

2011 Topps Target Red Diamond #RDT-12 Carlos Gonzalez
2011 marked Topps' first year all by itself in the baseball card marketplace in over 30 years. That pesky Upper Deck wasn't making even unlicensed baseball cards anymore, and Topps took the opportunity of their reinstated monopoly and their 60th anniversary to churn out bunches of insert sets. The previous two I've come reasonably close to completing, but this one I've never seen before. It fits with the rest of 2011's diamond theme, but this is a Target-exclusive insert set. I wasn't buying cards regularly at that time, but I'm a little surprised I've never seen one turn up in a discount box. Usually the red- and blue-bordered ones stand out in discount boxes full of Topps base.

This insert set spanned 30 cards over two series, and contained a pretty even mixture of active players and retired greats. Carlos' two-homer performance on August 29th, 2010 is the subject of the paragraph on the back. That sounded familiar, making me wonder if I was at that game. But I wasn't. He just does that sort of thing a lot.

2008 Upper Deck Heroes Beige #55 Jeff Francis /299
Speaking of Upper Deck, here's a familiar-looking card of 17-game winner Jeff Francis from the well-liked Baseball Heroes set. I've shown the base version of this card before. While the base card is described as a "sand" color, this is the beige parallel, serial numbered to 299. The difference in color between the two is somewhat noticeable when placed side-by-side, but trying to recall it from memory would be a challenge. It would definitely be easy to skip over if you didn't know just what you were looking for.

Like other cards in this set, and that purple Todd Helton card from my previous post, the background has a matte finish, while the photo and logo are glossy. And it's definitely reminiscent of 1959 Topps. More on that later.

2014 Topps Update Power Players #PPA-TT Troy Tulowitzki
I've seen Carlos Gonzalez's card from 2014 Topps Power Players numerous times before, including this very trade package. but this is my first copy of Troy Tulowitzki's card from that set. The "wormhole", as I previously described it, is the same shape but uses different colors. And Tulo gets a real action shot as opposed to CarGo's posed image. There's also a pattern of dots in the background, which reminds me of what you see on Panini Prizm's Pulsar parallels.

Say that ten times fast.

1999 Topps Power Brokers #PB9 Vinny Castilla
I have to wonder if Topps looked through the archives and found inspiration for Power Players in this similar Power Brokers set from 1999. This one is shinier, but the overall color and design is pretty similar. Enough of the blue wall peeks through the distortion to indicate that they're in Shea Stadium, but between the action shot, blocky font, and a pair of electrodes, there's a lot going on here. There's even a rather large nuclear symbol on the back. To be honest, I didn't even realize this was a die-cut until I viewed it several times. It's a clear indication of history repeating itself, which happens more than you'd think in this hobby.

1995 Stadium Club Virtual Reality #204 Marvin Freeman
In 1995, the sport of baseball, and its related card industry, was trying to recover from a disastrous strike that cut the 1994 season short. Topps came up with the idea to include computer-simulated statistics on some 1995 cards, such as Topps Cyberstats, and also this Virtual Reality partial parallel set in Stadium Club. Freeman had 10 wins in 1994 as the Rockies ace, but Topps thought it likely that he'd win another four for a total of 14.

1995 Stadium Club Virtual Reality #204 Marvin Freeman (Reverse)
No one really talks about it, but the the back of 1995 Stadium Club wasn't that different from the thermal camera look that Fleer famously produced in 1995. The hobby went to some strange places that lasted for the rest of the decade.

Virtual Reality, and the Web itself were just getting off the ground in 1994, barely past the concept stage. Over twenty years later, Virtual Reality still isn't quite mainstream, but it's certainly moving that direction, and rapidly. Perhaps in another 20 years, cards (or something like the Bunt app) will have an actual VR component, allowing us to see video highlights at a glance.

Hopefully it's more like that and not another prediction of what might have happened without a labor dispute.

1995 Topps Embossed Golden Idols #112 Walt Weiss
Shiny cards usually look generally silver, like a mirror. It's fairly uncommon for the thing to just be straight, bling-y gold. But that's just what Topps did with the parallels for Embossed, adding to the oddness of 1995. I haven't seen a ton of Topps Embossed in general, and apparently these are one per pack parallels that took Topps Gold to its logical endgame.

It's a very texturey card. Weiss' images are raised from the card surface both front and back, and each of the concentric layers of the border has a different pattern. Furthest out are baseballs, further in are diagonal ridges, horizontal ridges, what looks like ice cream sprinkles, etc.... Lost in all that is some letting at the bottom that reminds us that Weiss was the 1988 Rookie of the Year, and there's a little more detail about that on the non-gold back.

1995 Score Gold Rush #338 Andres Galarraga
Beginning a transition from gold to green, Score's Gold Rush parallel set in 1995 gives us a shot of Andres Galarraga signing autographs. I think. Many ballplayers were sporting shades like this in the mid-1990s, but Galarraga did not go down the goatee route, the 1990s equivalent of the big, bushy beards we commonly see today.

Score also used a different, darker shade of gold on the border than Weiss' card. This one looks less like actual gold and more like a slightly reddish alloy. The foil is a tiny bit dinged up on the edges, as whatever Score used for this product, I've always found to be easy to nick.

2008 Topps Heritage Chrome #C50 Matt Holliday /1959
Moving fully into the green color theme, Matt Holliday's Chrome parallel from 2008 Topps Heritage is serial numbered to 1959, matching the design of that year. Remember that Jeff Francis card? Now it should be pretty obvious where Upper Deck got its idea for Baseball Heroes. Not that a circle is a hugely unusual shape or anything, but the diameter and placement are almost identical.

Being from 2008, this is from the year after the Rockies went to the World Series and Holliday won MVP honors in the NLCS against the Diamondbacks. He also led a bunch of categories in 2007, including two Triple Crown categories. They didn't mention his memorable slide at the end of the 2007 regular season (hi, Padres fans!), but any green card always has a welcome spot in my collection.

1994 Finest Refractors #72 Joe Girardi
1994 Finest is right up there as my all-time favorite green set, with 2013 Topps Emerald close behind. Joe Girardi, now manager of the Yankees, spent a few seasons behind the plate as a Rockie, and even though he missed about half of the 1993 season due to injury, he still earned a spot in the Topps Finest set. Not only that, but this is the refractor version, a term we all know now but weren't so familiar with back then. 

This isn't nearly as rare as refractors from the debut 1993 Finest set, but it's still a great card, and a fairly scarce variation of one of my favorite sets. I have none of the refractors from 1993 in my collection, and only Kevin Stocker's from 1994, besides this. It was a trade package full of shiny cards from start to finish, covering all the great periods of Rockies history.

Thanks, Fuji!


  1. Wow. That's you sure did your homework! I absolutely love the 1994 SP Holoviews... as well as the 1994 Finest Refractors, so it was cool to see you kick off your post with one of them and wrap it up with the other. And don't worry... just b/c I've withdrawn from the Super Traders doesn't mean care packages are a thing of the past. I'm sure these aren't the last Rockies cards you've seen from me.

    1. If only 1994 had a World Series. Because as far as I'm concerned it was a fantastic year for cards.