Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Trading Post #23: Cards From the Quarry (Part 1: Not Topps)

Given that I'm rather fond of the Colorado Rockies, it's only proper that I should be trading with the most well-known Rockies blogger out there, hiflew from Cards From the Quarry. I've mentioned some of his work before, such as his Quarry Unlimited custom sets, but after I commented on his want list post saying I had a few needs, he offered to send back a bunch of his Rockies extras to "a good home".

A small flat-rate box showed up not long ago, packed full of those Rockies extras. As you might expect from a collector focused on the same team I like, there were a ton of great cards in there. So many, in fact, that I had to break this up into two posts. This first part will cover the best of the non-Topps cards, starting with the late Darryl Kile, who pitched for the Rockies for two years.

1998 Ultra #303 Darryl Kile
There's plenty of green on that card, including most of the outfield behind Kile fielding a comebacker, as well as the raised foil lettering. The design is pretty typical of a Fleer Ultra set, especially with that script font.

Pacific was always trying to be one of the big boys in the card collecting world, often one of the first to put forth some minor innovations, such as listing which set a card was part of near the card number. Upper Deck didn't adopt that until many years later.

Topps is well-known these days for short-printed photo variations, and there has been lots of buzz about this year's SPs with the recent release of 2015 Topps. However, Pacific was printing photo variations long before Topps became known for it.

1999 Pacific #141 Dante Bichette
1999 Pacific #141a Dante Bichette (Headshot)
Like Topps, these Pacific "headshot" cards (on right) don't really differentiate themselves from the base cards (on left) unless you already know what to look for. It's hard to know that you're holding something unusual without having the run-of-the-mill version right alongside it. And even then, you don't know which is the rare one. However, Pacific did it a bit differently than Topps' does, in that there are different player photos on the back of each card.

I don't have an issue with having different varieties on the market; in fact, David Freese's Rally Squirrel card is one of my favorites in recent years. I just wish there was less of a super-secret-handshake feel to them. Just print it as card 141b or something.

Any trade package with mid-'90s cards is bound to have lots of shiny, and 1997 Pinnacle Certified certainly fits that bill.

1997 Pinnacle Certified #86 Eric Young
This set might hold the record for pure reflectivity. You could probably shave or tie a tie by using those mirrored triangles in each lower corner. Not only that, but this set comes with a peel-off coating that is way easier to remove than Topps Finest. The card backs in this set are a bit like overproduction-era Bowman cards because they break down the previous season's stats by opponent, rather than just a whole year's performance on one line.

The shininess doesn't end there; although this Castilla isn't reflective enough to put on your side-view mirrors.

1995 Flair #128 Vinny Castilla
Fleer's ultra-premium Flair brand made some of the thickest cards around in the mid-1990s. The brand got pretty weird toward the end of that decade by jumping on the insane "fractured set" bandwagon, but prior to that, you could always count on sharp photography, thick card stock, usually some cursive, and something that wouldn't look entirely out of place on the end of a gold chain.

The post-strike hobby was a weird place. Like many collectors that return after a long hiatus, I'm still finding cards and sets from that era that I had no idea about.

1996 Pinnacle Aficionado #152 Larry Walker GR
Ever heard of Pinnacle Aficionado? I sure hadn't. And the above isn't even a standard base card; it's from the Global Reach subset. That black background of latitude/longitude lines and the map of Canada is made of a strange, raised black surface that is rough to the touch.

Donruss Studio was still alive and kicking in 2004, and one of their insert sets that year is pretty similar to the 1995 base set. You know, the one that was supposed to look like a credit card.

2004 Studio Stars #48 Todd Helton
Though they don't have raised lettering or a facsimile of a magnetic stripe, Studio Stars aren't cardboard at all. This insert set is made of a flimsy plastic like an insurance or library card. Donruss also made a fairly serious goof by sticking a Diamondbacks logo right on top of that checkered background of Rockies logos.

I've blogged about the 2008 Baseball Heroes set before, but I don't think I've yet shown one of the black parallels, one of the many colors you'll find this set in.

2008 Upper Deck Heroes Black #57 Troy Tulowitzki
Though he was instrumental in bringing the Rockies to the World Series in 2007, Tulo finished as the runner up for the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year award, as this card notes. He finished a very close second to Ryan Braun. Of the two, I'll point out that since then, only one has been to a World Series, and only one has been suspended for much of a season for violating MLB's drug policy.

Perhaps Tulo's second-place finish isn't as big a snub as Ken Griffey, Jr. finishing third in 1989, but I think that voters made the wrong call by picking Braun.

But that's water under the bridge, so let's move on to something a little more fun.

1999 Fleer Tradition #311 Jamey Wright
Not only is this a fantastic shot of the right-center stands at Coors Field, but it's always amusing to see a pitcher storing his glove on his head. I usually tucked it under my arm or on the end of my bat when I needed impromptu glove storage, but then again, I never got my call-up. Maybe Jamey Wright knows something I don't.

One thing I do know for sure is that the Rockies play in a beautiful state, one I am proud to call home.

There are a few cards that show off the glory of the Rockies (the mountains, not the team), like the card backs of 1993 Leaf...

1993 Leaf #244 Freddie Benavides (Reverse)
...and this multi-player card from the legendary 1993 Upper Deck set.

1993 Upper Deck #478 Dante Bichette / David Nied / Andres Galarraga
But those are just plain photographs. What if it were 1998 and we wanted to make it shiny and difficult to scan?

Then you'd have 1998 Metal Universe.

1998 Metal Universe #151 Mike Lansing
Mike Lansing joined the Rockies prior to the 1998 season, so he's still shown as an Expo. But Fleer's Skybox division found a lovely autumn shot of the mountains, complete with a twisted-up log partially submerged in a high-altitude lake. There are lots of places like that in Colorado, so it could be anywhere.

But I know where this one is.

1998 Metal Universe #39 Vinny Castilla
Though the scans don't do either of these cards justice, those are the Maroon Bells, a pair of 14,000-ft. mountains just outside Aspen. They're some of Colorado's most iconic peaks, and judging by how much snow is still up there, that photograph was probably taken in late spring; likely early June.

This weekend has brought unseasonably warm weather to the Denver area, and it won't be long until the Maroon Bells look like that once again.

Baseball will be well underway by then.


  1. I've noticed that 1998 Ultra is generally a pretty green-heavy set for some reason. Just placed a Just Commons order that included a healthy stack of 1999 Fleer Tradition. I didn't realize how just great that set was until fairly recently.

    1. You're pretty active on Just Commons recently! Is that the same order as the Jeff Bridges cards?

    2. Yup! Easily my most massive Just Commons order yet. I believe it was 240 cards in all.

  2. I appreciate the compliment, but I am not even close to the most well-known Rockies blogger. I'm glad you enjoyed them and I'm sure another care package will find it's way to you before too long. I do find it funny that you brought up the Pacific variations and compared it to Topps. There are many things done by Pinnacle and Pacific in the mid to late 90s that Topps is putting out today. The platinum diamond parallels from 2011 that everyone went gaga over were rip offs of 1995 Score. The massive amounts of colored parallels was started by Pacific as well. I may have to do a post about this before too long. I look forward to part 2.