Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Trading Post #141: A Cracked Bat

As I was scrolling through my blog feed this morning, I saw a few posts about one of my most frequent trading partners, Julie from A Cracked Bat, including a post on her own blog from yesterday. That inspired me to put this post together, covering some cards she sent as part of her generous Pick Pockets page. There are still a few items left there, so head over and make some selections before it's all picked over (pun intended).

2019 Stadium Club #252 Dee Gordon
Starting things off is Dee Gordon of the Seattle Mariners on his 2019 Stadium Club base card. Last time Julie sent a shipment, she included another Dee Gordon card from Stadium Club, back from his time on the Marlins. This time, he's on the most geographically isolated team in the Majors, and is giving us one of the greatest displays of athleticism ever captured on a baseball card. At first glance, you might think the speedy center fielder is diving for a ball here, but this is actually his follow-through on a throw back to the infield (or maybe across three or four parking lots) in which he's using every ounce of effort he can muster. In all two seasons of my little league career, I never inverted myself in this fashion to complete an outfield assist, but somehow Gordon makes it possible, with video evidence to prove it.

Not only that, but Gordon is even sporting a throwback Mariners uniform.

His outfield assists are something to behold, but since he arrived in Seattle, his once-stratospheric stolen base count has dropped significantly, which also means that his string of five straight seasons of at least 30 SBs mentioned on the card back came to an end in 2019.

2019 Stadium Club #185 Jose Canseco
Here's another from 2019 Stadium Club, a well-composed shot of Jose Canseco heading down the tunnel into a well-lit atmosphere, perhaps to fulfill some sort of destiny. If they ever make a Jose Canseco biopic, this would make a great closing shot.

I'm all about tiny details. So here's the tiny detail I'm noticing on this card. There's no MLB logo on the back of Canseco's cap.

When I was a kid, the holy grail of sports apparel at the top of my list, even more than a Starter jacket, was a fitted hat. I had plenty of hats at that age, but they all had the snap-back adjustable plastic strap that I eventually outgrew. Former Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes even signed one of them. But it didn't make sense to get me a fitted hat when I was growing like a weed, so it wasn't until I reached adulthood that I got one of the official New Era hats, size 7 1/2.

My dad often wore a Yankees hat, and I remember the little MLB logo on the back at the seam. We all know that logo from any non-action photo you've ever seen of Ken Griffey, Jr. wearing his cap backwards. And come to think of it, it wouldn't surprise me at all if MLB added that logo in direct response to Griffey's then-unique style. Griffey's rookie year was in 1989, and Canseco's best years were just slightly before that. This photo might even be from the '89 World Series itself. But it shows a time before the cool kids wanted to be like Griffey.

2019 Topps Archives #212 Robin Roberts
And way, way before that, Robin Roberts was a Philadelphia Phillie. Topps chose him for their 2019 Archives set and put him on the 1993 Topps design. 1993 Topps is one of those designs I know quite well, and this reproduction isn't quite perfect. The typeface is a little different, and more noticeably, the Phillies team name should be in red, not blue. But overall, it's a pretty nice card.

I don't want to turn this into a "here are all the barely-noticeable ways the reproduction isn't exactly accurate" post, but I will point out that Topps wasn't able to squeeze in Roberts's complete career record on the vertically-oriented card back. His career began in 1948, and these stats only go back to 1954. That's a shame, because some of his career-highs happened in the early '50s. 198 strikeouts and 28 wins in 1952, for example, and a whopping 346.2 innings pitched in 1953. Over half his All-Star appearances occurred in that part of the decade, too.

For comparison, 2019's IP leader was Justin Verlander, with 223. I don't know, I just think if you're going to create all these Archives cards, it makes sense to include full statistics, because they can give collectors a great insight into how the game has changed over the decades. Just because Baseball-Reference exists doesn't mean I don't want full stats on my card backs.

I guess I'll have to find my real 1959 Roberts card to see those prior years.

1992 Pinnacle Team 2000 #37 Jim Thome
Following a retro 1993 card, here's an actual card from that era, a 1992 Jim Thome insert from the Pinnacle brand. It's from the same Team 2000 set as a Larry Walker card I found at an LCS last year, and Hall-of-Famer-elect Walker will soon be joining Thome in Cooperstown.

I probably didn't have any of these cards when I was a kid, but it's quickly becoming one of my favorite insert sets of the era. I now have three cards from it, and along with John Smoltz, all three are Hall-of-Famers.

77 cards to go to complete this one. A young Jim Thome is card number #37 of 80, one of the few elements on the card back that doesn't use gold foil. Pinnacle correctly picked Thome to be a superstar, but they had him projected as the Indians third baseman for years to come. He did play the hot corner through 1996, but shifted over to first base in 1997 to make room for Matt Williams.

2000 Topps Hands of Gold #HG6 Omar Vizquel
Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel spent quite a few years together in the same infield, sometimes even on the left side during Thome's early years. Thome was more of a power hitter, smashing over 600 home runs by the time his career was over, but Vizquel was the defensive star, racking up eleven gold gloves.

Vizquel was about halfway through his career when this die-cut card was printed (and cut), and the card back says he has the highest career fielding percentage in history. That held true for the rest of his career, and his .9847 mark as a shortstop has never been beaten, and certainly not over nearly a quarter-century of playing time. Troy Tulowitzki came close, but with nearly a decade less service time. We'll see him later on in this post.

The card back lists Vizquel's six consecutive Gold Gloves from 1993-98, and he'd add on three more to that streak through 2001. He won two more in 2005 and 2006 for a total of eleven, and that isn't even the most in this small seven-card insert set. He has many of his contemporaries in this set beat, but not Iván Rodríguez's thirteen nor Greg Maddux's eighteen.

In case you're wondering about the patch Vizquel is wearing, I believe it's the "AL Central Champs" patch the Indians wore in 1999, documenting their first-place finish in their division the previous year. They made it as far as Game 6 of the ALCS before succumbing to the buzzsaw that was the late-'90s New York Yankees.

Anyway, I found Tony Gwynn's card from this insert set at that very same LCS last year, and it's a pleasing coincidence to have Team 2000 and Hands of Gold back-to-back in a post from an entirely different source.

2000 Crown Royale #107 Doug Glanville
Pacific gives us more die-cut fun from the turn of the millennium. I've run across the base gold variety before, but this and most of the other 2000 Crown Royale in my collection is of the red variety. Few besides Pacific were using red foil on anything, let alone a die-cut with a design like this.

Doug Glanville, now a sportscaster, put together a nine-season career, mostly as a center fielder. The card back tells us that 1999 was his best statistical year in many categories, and even had a five-hit extra-innings game against the then-NL Astros on September 15th, 1999. That was toward the very end of the Astrodome's life as an MLB stadium, and Glanville's performance that night helped end a 12-game winning streak the Astros had been on.

2019 Panini Prizm Illumination #I-5 Charlie Blackmon
Our first Rockie of the post is Charlie Blackmon on a colorful and kaleidoscopic Panini card. This is a 12-card insert set from Prizm, and while I know very little about Prizm, I know it's shiny. The same photo is used on both sides, but between Blackmon's arm position and wizardly beard, you almost don't notice that this is an unlicensed photo.


This is my first time seeing this insert set, and I don't know about you, but I can't read this set's name without thinking of the Minions doing a movie production logo intro.

The card back tells us where Panini was going with this theme, in that "The scoreboard in Denver is always well lit thanks in large part to Blackmon." It's true, and especially so after the Rockies invested in a new mountain-shaped scoreboard for the 2018 season.

2019 Topps Rainbow Foil #460 Trevor Story
During these strange times, along with Blackmon's beard and Arenado's defensive prowess, I am definitely missing watching Trevor Story hit monster home runs at Coors Field. This photo from 2019 Topps may be just such a card. It's actually the rainbow foil parallel, or at least that's the most likely candidate in the truly insane list of parallels Topps makes for even the simplest base cards now. Regardless, it looks pretty good in this sunlit room I'm writing in.

This card also gives us a really clear look at the Rockies 25th Anniversary patch from 2018, which we've seen before. I assume they have a Coors Field 25th Anniversary patch ready to go for the 2020 season, should it actually happen. If there is a season without fans, I wonder how much media coverage and photography will be allowed. 2021 cards might be very strange and might have to repurpose a lot of old photographs, just like they used to do in the early days of the hobby.

2019 Diamond Kings Artist Proof Blue #53 Kyle Freeland
Speaking of Coors Field, I ran across a stat the other day that there's only one pitcher who has more than five starts at Coors Field while keeping his ERA there under 3.00. That pitcher is Adam Wainwright.

I bring this up because the back of this 2019 Diamond Kings card says that Kyle Freeland was just the second Rockies pitcher, after Ubaldo Jimenez in 2010, to make at least 30 starts and post an ERA under 3.00. Of course, many of those great starts were on the road. Even Ubaldo's no-hitter in 2010 happened in Atlanta. But it's really a sign of excellence for any pitcher associated with the Rockies.

This is an Artist Proof parallel, and even though I'm not a Diamond Kings expert, I'm assuming this is the Blue version of that parallel. Again, Panini is relying on the player's arm position to distract you from the fact that they still do not have an MLB license.

Freeland's card is the last of the nine I picked from Julie's Pick Pockets page, but she didn't stop there. She found three more higher-end Rockies cards to include, and they all have serial numbers!

2012 Topps Museum Collection Blue #28 Carlos González /99
I have no idea where she gets them all, but it seems like every time she sends me something, there's invariably something from an ultra-expensive set like Triple Threads or something. This time was no different, as she found this Museum Collection parallel of Carlos González from the 2012 set. This is the Blue parallel, numbered to /99. On "base cards", such as they are in Museum Collection, the area behind the team logo and "National League" is a dark gray. This elegant blue color signifies it as the second-rarest parallel in the set, other than the 1-of-1 Red parallel.

I'm sure most Museum Collection buyers aren't reading the card backs, but this mentions that CarGo was involved in trades for a couple stars before finding a more permanent home. He was originally part of the Diamondbacks organization, but went to Oakland as part of a trade for Dan Haren. Less than a year later, the Rockies picked him and a couple others up in exchange for Matt Holliday, and the rest is history.

Three Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, a batting title, and ten seasons later, and he earned a heartfelt cheer from the home crowd upon his return to Denver as a Cub last June. I was there that day, and have had the good fortune to see both Troy Tulowitzki and CarGo play their first games back in Denver after they wound up on another team.

2013 Topps Triple Threads Sapphire #97 Carlos González /25
A year later, CarGo appeared in Topps Triple Threads. If you know the set, you'll know the base cards have silver foil. Clearly, this is a parallel, but no, it's not blue. That's far too pedestrian for a set like this. No, this is Sapphire. And it's numbered to just 25 copies. It does looks like there's a little printing dot on the photo, but this is a beautiful card. Even the back has a nice sky blue background, and it mentions his "fluid, picturesque swing".

I always loved González's swing. If you have a moment to spare, take a look at this walk-off, cycle-completing home run from 2010, which is one of the classic games that the Rockies TV network has been playing to keep fans entertained.

2007 Topps Co-Signers Silver Gold #102 Troy Tulowitzki /100 (AU)
Troy Tulowitzki was on deck when that happened, and here he is on our final card of the day, a sticker autograph from Topps Co-Signers. I have a few base cards from this set, and even one with a pair of facsimile signatures that came from Wes, but this is my first actual autograph from a set that sounds like it should be all about autographs. Julie pointed out in her note that this isn't in perfect shape since there are some noticeable creases on the back, but she said she only paid $2 for it! Sounds like a bargain to me!

When checking Beckett, I assumed this was the Gold parallel, which has a print run of 200. On that slightly damaged card back, this one clearly has a /100 print run, so it's not the Gold. I scrolled down a bit further until I ran across something called the Silver Gold parallel, which does indeed have a print run of /100. Even for parallel-happy Topps, that's stretching it.

There's one other thing I'll point out, inspired by one of Nick's posts last week about unfamiliar uniform numbers. Tulo is wearing #63 on this card. Fans who follow him know that he always admired Derek Jeter, which is why he wore #2 throughout his career (until he joined the Yankees, of course). He wore #12 as a Yankee in his final five games.

Interestingly, this isn't even the first card in my collection with Tulowitzki wearing an unfamiliar number. In a 2015 Topps insert set, he's shown wearing #14, which was his official uniform number for his rookie call-up at the end of 2006.

Thanks, as always, to Julie for this awesome selection of cards. I definitely got more than I bargained for (which is to say, more than I picked for free), and she's one of my favorite people in this whole community. If you don't have a trading relationship with her, start one!


  1. I definitely went through a fitted cap phase. These days I rarely wear hats... but when I do, it's usually a snap back.

  2. Putting players of yore in a set called "Archives", and not showing their career stats on the back is just silly, not only does it an injustice to the player, but it also doesn't help the modern fans buying the packs, many of whom don't even know who these greats are/were.