Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Gift Cards

At least once a year, and twice if I'm lucky and get a birthday bonus, I can count on my mom to check my Eight Men Out list and gift me a few cards around the holidays. This year a trio of cards slipped out of an envelope on Christmas morning, and fortunately they were not blown away by the whirlwind of gift-opening that my two-year-old nephew led.

2016 Topps Chasing 3000 #3000-60 Ichiro Suzuki
In 2016 Topps Update, Topps managed to squeeze in the final half of a 60-card insert set counting down Ichiro Suzuki's progress toward the 3,000 hit milestone. It led off with card # 3000-1 in 2016 Topps Series 2, culminating with this card #3000-60 in Topps Update. That final card does indeed commemorate hit number 3,000, which he hit on August 7th, 2016 at Coors Field, and which I had the great fortune to witness.

I purchased the Topps Now card documenting the event, but I also wanted this insert card in my collection, because it's not every day you can collect a card from a game you attended, let alone one about such a milestone.

Keep in mind, that was 3,000 Major League hits. He had well over a thousand more in the NPB before arriving in America, putting him well beyond Pete Rose in all-time professional hits.

By the way, if you're a subscriber to The Athletic, you should be reading Joe Posnanski's series, "The Baseball 100". It's a well-written countdown of the 100 best players in history, one player a day until Opening Day. The series began with Ichiro at #100.

1993 Topps Gold #396 Rich Sauveur
The Eight Men Out list has allowed me to finally complete a six-card subset I've been chasing for a really long time. It's not truly a subset in the strictest sense of the word, but it's as good a term as any. As you may have realized, you've never seen a Topps Gold checklist from 1992-1994. That's because Topps replaced those with cards of players that had been snubbed from the main set. Six each in 1992 and 1993, and four in 1994. This card of Royals pitcher Rich Sauveur completes the 1993 subset. It was a real team effort over the years. I pulled two myself, two came from gcrl, and two from mom.

As best I can tell, this is absolutely the only Major League card that Rich Sauveur ever had. There are some minor league cards, and he spent a little time on big league rosters for several teams throughout the years, pitching a grand total of 46 innings, but no one besides Topps ever gave him a card. He gave it a valiant effort, appearing in his final MLB game at age 36, but his career sadly never panned out. He is currently a pitching coach in the Diamondbacks organization, and can be found on the short list of Strike-era "replacement players".

Next, on to 1994!

1992 Upper Deck #HH2 Ted Williams Hologram
Do you remember that shiny Hank Aaron Upper Deck card from a few months ago? The one that was entirely a hologram and basically a one-card insert set advertising Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball exhibition games? Well, turns out Upper Deck brought it back in 1992, unbeknownst to me. It's numbered "HH2", clearly in sequence with that Hank Aaron card, but from one year later. I still have no idea whether the Heroes of Baseball games ever actually happened.

The card back gives a quick overview of Ted Williams's great career, mentioning his two Triple Crowns, his .406 batting average in 1941 (the year two "unbreakable" records were set), and his 521st and final home run in 1960. He remains the all-time career leader in On-Base Percentage, with a staggering .482. That's as close to half as this game will ever see. Even Babe Ruth was a few points behind, at .474. One interesting note on that statistic is that eight of the top nine are lefties, as are most of the top 30.

Ted Williams will unquestionably be on The Baseball 100 list. Probably even in the top ten.

Kudos to mom for unearthing this gem. I might never have known it existed otherwise.


  1. Hologram inserts have aged very well. I still get excited when I see one in person.

  2. I think that the Heroes of Baseball games were played, because on autograph messageboards, I've seen some posters with Hall of Famers who were supposed to be at the game that were signed. Not sure if the games were regular season games or exhibitions or what. I believe on some of those Upper Deck team checklists that are paintings that were in the '89-'93 sets that some of them feature scoreboards in the background with 'Hall of Fame game' and the date, time, and teams playing listed on the scoreboard.
    Glad you got the Sauveur Gold card. Those ones can be tough.

  3. Love the Williams. Not sure why we don't see holograms on modern cards anymore. Topps should try to use them for one of their insert sets in 2020.

    1. I hope so. It would take the sting out of the loss of Upper Deck a little bit.

  4. The JoePo series is great. Just read the Carlton we used to say in the comments on Joe's blog, it was getting a little dusty in here. No, it was getting VERY dusty in here.

    So THAT'S why I could only find a gold version of the Sauveur online, and not the base! A couple years ago I put together a "virtual frankenset" of Mets players in other uniforms, and he was briefly a Met in 1991. Thanks for clearing that up!

    1. The Fisk one might be my favorite yet. I also loved Mike Mussina's.

  5. Love that Teddy Ballgame hologram! I haven't seen one in forever. And I didn't realize that Topps used "replacement" players instead of gold parallel checklists. I wish Upper Deck would do that; I got excited opening a pack of O-Pee-Chee hockey because I saw rainbow foil sticking out... it was a damn checklist :/