Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Trading Post #109: Cards My Mom Didn't Throw Out

I barely even have to go to card shows anymore. Between Nick, my de facto proxy at The National, and JayP, of Cards My Mom Didn't Throw Out, I basically have the pick of the litter of all the goodies my fellow bloggers dig up. In late November, Jared offered up for trade a selection he found at a recent show, and I bit.

He was much more proactive than I was in rapidly blogging about his side of the trade, but this post is better late than never. In return for a Todd Helton insert card from 2001 Stadium Club Diamond pearls, one of the sticker sets I've run across, I claimed a nice selection of late-'90s see-through cards, and a couple others thrown in for good measure.

1997 E-X2000 #15 Frank Thomas
My mom never threw out any of my cards; in fact she's been instrumental in adding to my collection. But even if she had engaged in a unilateral parental reduction of my collection, I'm sure she'd have let cards like this stick around.

Cards with transparent areas really force you to hold them in your hand to fully appreciate them. Displaying them in a binder, or even scanning them flush against a white background, lets so much of whatever's behind it peek through. But when you hold them up to a source of light, or even something brightly colored, the magic happens. On this one, we see a picturesque partly-cloudy sunset behind the Big Hurt.

Unlike many see-through cards that usually just have a white silhouette of the front image on the back, Fleer gave us a not-quite-perfect mirror image of Thomas. His lower legs are cropped in favor of a few stats, but if you break out the magnifying glass, you'll see a couple differences. The small R on his right sleeve has been removed, and the "5" on the back of his batting helmet is a mirror image, despite the rest of his insignia and uniform patches being adjusted manually to look the same front and back. Fleer really did a pretty good job with it, but it is a little confusing to look at.

The see-through area of the card isn't your standard acetate. It's thinner than the rest of the card, allowing Thomas and the frame to be raised relative to the see-through part, which is much smoother on the front than the back. It's really an eye-catching card, and I haven't even mentioned the gold foil or rainbow foilboard yet.

2000 Ultra Swing Kings #8 Sammy Sosa
When I saw this Sosa card on JayP's blog, I didn't even realize it was acetate. And you can't tell from the scan, but trust me, it is. I like my '90s inserts like everyone else, but this was a pleasant surprise. Slammin' Sammy Sosa gets a nice action shot on the front, superimposed over the Swing Kings name of the set arranged in a crossword pattern. It's one of the simplest designs I've ever seen on an acetate card, toning it way, way down from the pattern-heavy Topps Tek.

On the back, Fleer made good use of the white silhouette of Sosa, placing the Cubs logo on his head, various fine print around his thighs, and a fun paragraph on his torso area, a sort of ode to Sosa and his ability to hit home run balls out of Wrigley field. "Free souvenirs for all!" They also ingeniously used the reverse of the blue Fleer logo to place the card number. It's as clean a design as you'll see, which makes me wonder how well some of Fleer's more boring white-background sets would fare in a clear format.

1998 E-X2001 #79 Larry Walker
If E-X2000 was a 1997 set, then why not make E-X2001 in 1998? Perhaps it was done to settle the hotly-contested debate over whether 2000 or 2001 was the turn of the millennium. Also up for debate is whether Larry Walker belongs in the Hall of Fame. Enough people seem to think so (myself included) that he's not dropping off the ballot, but that can only go on for so long. What isn't questioned is that 1997 was Walker's best season, the year in which he won the NL MVP award. Those league-leading stats are all over the back, as is the mirror image of all that gold lettering on the right. There's even a glimpse of 1997's Jackie Robinson 50th Anniversary patch on his right sleeve.

Looking at this card edge-on, it's easy to see that it's constructed in layers. The shiny silver area and Walker's photo are on the top layer, the purple and gold seem to be on the clear middle layer, and finally the card back has to be the bottom. Of course, I'm leaving this intact, but if I had piles of these lying around, I'd be interested in doing a little destructive geology.

1998 Pinnacle Plus Lasting Memories #27 Larry Walker
This wasn't one of the cards offered, but JayP threw in another 1998 Larry Walker card. This is fully opaque, but there is a wavy die cut on the right side and has a similar layout to the E-X2001 card. The photo is the same front and back, but it's more muted and ghostly on the back, like he's evaporating into those fluffy clouds.

I'm not sure exactly when Pinnacle released this card, as it gives us an accurate rundown of Walker's 1997 stats, and a few other tidbits like his 30/30 club appearance and then-record 493-foot homer. However, there's no mention of the actual MVP award he earned with all that performance. The card is correct in saying that "Larry won't forget 1997." And clearly, neither will his fans.

2008 Upper Deck X Xponential #X-JA Jason Bay
I miss Jason Bay. The Canadian got off to a great start in Pittsburgh, and helped out my mid-2000s Fantasy baseball teams quite a bit. But by the time he signed his big contract with the Mets, injuries and underperformance crept in. It's too bad he didn't have a few more years in the big leagues.

In 2008, though, things were going fine. Upper Deck put the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year in their Xponential insert set (along with Ken Griffey, Jr.), both of whom were still active in 2008, even though that doesn't really seem that long ago. Josh Beckett apparently had a better year, getting the X-JB card number, forcing Jason Bay's card to use the first two letters of his first name. But eiher way, there's lots of texture in this design, especially on the black ridged area of the X.

Out of idle curiosity, did anyone ever print an "X Marks the Spot" insert set or subset? Seems like that would have happened by now.

One other thing I noticed is the yellow patch on Bay's jersey. It has the words "Pittsburgh 250", commemorating 250 years of the city of Pittsburgh. The Penguins NHL team wore a similar patch that year. That would take the city way back to 1758, in case you didn't want to do the subtraction. An insert set like Xponential calls for at least a little math.

2008 Upper Deck X Signatures #JN Josh Newman (AU)
Wrapping things up is an autograph of Josh Newman, which was a total surprise! It's from the same Upper Deck X set that gave us Jason Bay's card. Other than the obvious Hall of Famers, I haven't heard of most of the players in autograph section of the checklist. I have a handful of Josh Newman cards here and there, but he only played in 14 Major League games, 10 as a Rockie. He finished his short career with an extremely high 8.15 ERA, and some of that was in Kansas City. Unfortunately, making it in the Majors is anything but a sure thing. At least it's a reasonably legible autograph, which is something that many players can't claim.

I had some idea of what I was getting with this trade, but there was a bit more shininess and a bit more transparency than I had expected. Thanks to JayP for the trade, and good luck with more of those Diamond Pearls!

1 comment:

  1. I have one of those E-X2000 cards and it so awesome. I wish there was a way to store it in the binder with a light behind it. LOL