Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Trading Post #128: Cards My Mom Didn't Throw Out

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon, a great spring day with a full slate of baseball games on the schedule. So was yesterday, and while I did spend some time in the great outdoors, I'm sore and sunburned. Even though the weather looks great, I'm spending some time inside today to catch up on trade posts before I catch my first game of the season. The Rockies will be playing at Coors Field this evening, trying to avoid being swept by the Dodgers in their first Sunday Night Baseball home game since 2001.

Win or lose, at least I won't have to listen to Alex Rodriguez announce the game or mispronounce Tony Wolters' name.

There's plenty of time before gametime to get this post up, a small card stack sent by Jared of Cards My Mom Didn't Throw Out. In addition to these cards, Jared also included a sentimental handwritten note, mentioning that he thinks of me anytime he sees Rockies cards, as I was the first person he traded with, way back in late 2015. His blog is still going strong, and I'm flattered to know that I have enough influence in this community to inspire others.

With that, let's see what shiny goodness Jared unearthed.

1998 Finest No-Protectors Refractors #69 Jamey Wright
1998 Topps Finest returned to something resembling normalcy after the fractured set insanity we got in 1997. Jamey Wright's card #69 is just that, card #69. I'm still rather confused about what's happening with this card, though. I'm confident in stating that this is a Refractor card, as it has that unmistakable rainbow look, on both sides in fact. Beckett has a few varieties listed, including some as "No-Protectors". Presumably, these are cards which ship without that clear plastic peel-off coating. I always peel those anyway [insert sunburn joke here], but that doesn't just convert it into the other variety. From what I can tell, the protector cards have a normal back, and the No-Protector cards have the same shiny chrome finish on the back as on the front.

How does that apply to refractors? Similar to the base cards, there are normal refractors, which have a refractor front and a normal back, differentiated only by a tiny "R" next to the card number. What I think Jared found for me is a No-Protector Refractor, as both sides have that glorious shiny rainbow finish.

But here's where this keeps confusing me. Unlike the two normal refractors already in my collection, there's no "R" label on this one. Maybe Topps trusts that you'll be able to figure it out because both sides have the same finish, but then that calls into question two other cards in my collection. Those two have the "R" label, but don't look like refractors at all. If not for that "R" label, I'd group them with the base No-Protectors, because that's what they look like. But that "R" has to mean something, right? For now, I have them separate. Then again, they're clearly different than this Wright card, which lacks the label.

In short, I have all four varieties to be found, but either the labeling is inconsistent, or Topps messed up the card stock somewhere along the line, or both.

Even when it's not a fractured set, these late-'90s cards can really require some investigation to figure out what you have on your hands.

2002 Donruss Best of Fan Club Spotlight #76 Todd Helton /100
The confusion continues with this shiny Todd Helton card from 2002. First and foremost, I've always been a Topps guy. And given the above situation, as well as all that mid-'90s Stadium Club that regularly makes me question my reality, even they can be tough to decipher. So when Donruss parallels of parallels show up from a time when I wasn't collecting, I just admire the color coding and look it up on Beckett again.

Donruss made a set called Fan Club in 2002 for a single year. It has a faint graph paper pattern in the upper right and lower left, as well as some excellent color-coding. There's also a "Best Of" parallel set, which is more or less similar to Topps Chrome in appearance. Both the base and Best Of varieties have their own parallels with a /100 print run. The base parallels are called "Credits", and the Best Of "meta-parallels", for lack of a better word, are called "Spotlight". They don't look any different than regular Best Of cards other than that Spotlight lettering at the top.

With those parallel names, I think they're going for some kind of movie theme, but there's not much else about the set that indicates it. Seeing 074/100 in red foil on the back is certainly cool, though.

Like 1998 Finest, I've found enough of these over the years to have something to compare incoming cards to and see where the differences lie. Checking Beckett is a good first step, but if you don't have a few on hand already to compare and contrast, it might not be much help.

2016 Topps Limited #93 Charlie Blackmon /1000
Jumping way ahead to the current Rockies era, Charlie Blackmon allows me to show the 2016 design again, something some bloggers won't mind and others will quite dislike. What makes this special, obviously, is the "Limited Edition" gold lettering on the right side of the card, plus a much thicker card stock than usual. This is something I had no idea existed, and I told Jared as much in my thank-you email.

This is from a premium factory set which Topps printed less than 1,000 of. It even came in a fancy silver box. Full sets on eBay are going for just under $100, which honestly seems like a bit of a deal with that small of a print run. And since I have just this one Blackmon, I know there is one fewer complete set out there.

I'm not sure where my seats are tonight, but if they're along the first base line, I'll get a good view of Charlie, who is covering right this year following the departure of Carlos González.

2014 Bowman Draft Top Prospects #TP-74 Trevor Story
Elsewhere on the playing field is shortstop Trevor Story, who accepted his Silver Slugger award before yesterday's game, along with teammates Nolan Arenado and Germán Márquez. Of those three, only Story has yet to ink a long-term deal with the Rockies. It's hard to believe that it's been three years since Story was tearing up the league as a rookie, mashing seven homers in his first six big-league games. Once upon a time, his cards weren't found outside Bowman, and the power-hitting righty had to make do with a batting helmet with ear flaps on both sides.

2007 Topps Heritage #263 Troy Tulowitzki (RC)
Story has certainly grown into the shortstop role, filling the shoes of Troy Tulowitzki. Back when this card was printed, Topps said, "The Rockies are keyed up about Troy's potential at shortstop." He became a fan favorite in Denver, but had injury problems and was eventually traded to Toronto. The Yankees took a chance on him, and he showed promise in spring training, but he only played in five games before straining his calf and landing on the Injured List. FYI, it's not called the "Disabled List" anymore.

I've always liked Tulowitzki, but he's got to be wondering how much longer he can keep this up. He's an elite athlete, and it must be extremely frustrating for him not to be able to practice his craft the way he'd like. Even though he was the third-youngest player in Rockies history according to this 1958-themed Topps Heritage rookie card, he's starting to get up there in years. He's seven months younger than I am, and I'm learning that the body just doesn't bounce back the way it once did.

It's not impossible that we'll see him back in purple pinstripes someday. The Rockies do like to sign past players once a few years pass. Mark Reynolds is back, Matt Holliday stopped by last year, Chris Iannetta is regularly starting behind the plate, and Jorge de la Rosa just inked a minor-league deal.

2013 Topps Chrome Chrome Connections Die Cuts #CC-TT Troy Tulowitzki
Long after his Rookie Card days, Tulo was established enough to warrant inclusion in small die-cut insert sets for brands like Topps Chrome. This completes my team set of 2013 Topps Chrome Connections, after CarGo's card that I received via trade from Alex long ago. I've seen the González die-cut a bunch of times (I even have two in the duplicates box if you want one), but Tulo's seems to be a bit more scarce, yet just as angular.

When he's healthy, Tulowitzki is quite consistent. By the time this set came out, he had already had three seasons in which he hit .290 with 25 home runs and 90 RBIs. Topps tantalized us on the card back with the possibility of a fourth, which would tie him with Vinny Castilla in the Rockies encyclopedia. In 2013, sharing the left side of the diamond with rookie Nolan Arenado, he hit .312 and exactly matched that count of 25 homers, but fell eight short in the RBI column. 2016 was a decent year, but he hasn't been able to eclipse his 2013 numbers yet.

1997 Donruss Gold Press Proofs #264 Neifi Perez /500
We'll wrap up with another die-cut, this one from 1997 Donruss. Rather than a multitude of corners and edges as in Chrome Connections, Donruss' die cut pattern is just a couple of right trapezoids, allowing for much easier handling and storage. As noted in a few places on this card, it's a Press Proof parallel, which had a print run of 2,000 in prior years. Those are still out there, and were called Silver Press Proofs in 1997. I don't have any in my collection, but there doesn't appear to be a die-cut involved. This shiny one is a new-for-1997 variety, the Gold Press Proof, which includes the aforementioned die cut and a print run of just 500.

As far as Rockies shortstop prospects, Neifi Pérez blazed the way for guys like Tulo and Story. The card back called him "Colorado's addition to the list of top shortstop prospects who have reached the majors the past couple of seasons." Implicitly included in that list would be Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Nomar Garciaparra.

Also on the card back is a lesson in Postseason roster rules. We're told that the Rockies called up Pérez in time for him to be on the team's Postseason roster. That requires a player to be on the 25-man roster by August 31st. September call-ups are not eligible, but that's less important this season, as the expansion of September rosters has been greatly limited.

Fortunately for Pérez, his debut was on August 31st, 1996. Unfortunately for Pérez, the Rockies didn't make the Postseason in 1996, so it was a moot point.

Normally, a card like this would be a good candidate to find the specific date of the photo, but there's barely any clear information on the out-of-town scoreboard to go on, and worse, it's not clear who the cameo is diving back to second base. He's wearing uniform #29, but I really can't tell which team this is. The colors point to a couple possible American League candidates, most likely the White Sox or maybe the Yankees, but as this photo is from 1996 (confirmed by the "MDM" patch on Neifi's right sleeve), interleague play had not yet started.

My best guess, but not with a high level of confidence, is that the cameo is a very young Bobby Abreu, then on the Houston Astros. The uniform number matches, the colors are maybe, possibly, consistent with the dark blue and gold the Astros wore in the mid-'90s, and Pérez did pinch-run and finish the game defensively against Houston on September 15, 1996. The Rockies issued two walks in the top of the 8th, forcing Abreu to second base. Shortly after that, the next batter lined out to the pitcher, and this play does have the look of the defense trying to double up the runner.

Jared included a couple other cards as well, which were already in the collection. There was an even more purple Helton card from 2004 SP Prospects, and a Leaf Steel card of Larry Walker, which is a slight upgrade since the metal in that set is surprisingly fragile.

Thanks for the cards, Jared!


  1. nice assortment of cards! i'm a bit jealous of your sunburn. This will be my 5th summer in MI and I've yet to tan or burn at all. It's not like I haven't tried! Have a great baseball season!!

  2. Those are pretty cool cards. Love the research and depth of your card descriptions--you rock!

  3. Awesome cards, and an awesome write up... as usual! Oh, and sentimental notes are always a good thing, dare I say that sometimes they're actually better than the cards themselves (probably not in this instance though)?