Saturday, July 11, 2015

Road Trip!

Last week, my girlfriend and I took a road trip to visit some of her friends and family in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. What better week to do it than the week of July 4th (assuming you have air conditioning in your vehicle, of course)? Though my home state of Colorado is a hotbed for craft beers, we found that the microbrewery craze has infiltrated that region as well, as we came back with several six packs from the Dallas area.

While it was nice to get away and relax for a while, the hobby was still in the back of my mind. I was frequently glancing at the many roadside stores, curious if I might find a card shop nestled in one of those towns. As we were preparing to head out of Arkansas and back toward Oklahoma City, my vigilance was rewarded just outside Fayetteville.

1992 Bowman #611 Bill Swift (FOIL)
I spotted a small white sign as we were about to leave town. A few quick turns later, I walked through a windowless and unassuming white door. Inside, I found Cleve's Baseball Cards and Collectibles to be a well-stocked shop, and after wandering around for a few minutes, I asked for a box of baseball singles to dig through, affording me a #walletcard photo op.

A photo posted by AdamK (@adamk0310) on

Bill Swift's card above was the first one I picked out of that box, which more or less ended up being a quarter box, once we settled up. Gold foil from the early '90s draws me in no matter which state I'm in.

1994 Score Gold Rush #118 Willie Blair
I was surprised to find so many Rockies cards in a corner of Arkansas. Almost a quarter of the Score Gold Rush parallels I found were Rockies. The owner even had a flag on display from the 1998 All Star Game, the only year it's been in the Mile High City. Turns out, he is a Rockies fan, and he even owned a chain of record stores in the Denver area back in the '70s. Small world.

1999 Upper Deck 10th Anniversary Team #X5 Cal Ripken
I immediately recognized the 1989 Upper Deck design on this card, but figured it to be a more recent throwback parallel. Sure enough, this is from 1999's 10th Anniversary Team insert set, UD's self-congratulatory set documenting its first decade. The gold foil on the base line is rather tasteful, but there are only so many gold seals you can put on a card before it starts looking cluttered.

There's a tiny photo of Ripken's actual 1989 card on the back, and they picked a pretty similar shot for this anniversary card. I didn't know the specifics of this card when I set it aside, but an iconic design is always worth a second look.

2001 Topps Through The Years Reprints #50 Derek Jeter '93
I knew this was a reprint right off the bat, thanks to the Topps 50th Anniversary logo in the lower right, but I'd know this card anywhere. Other than Griffey's rookie from the aforementioned 1989 Upper Deck set, Jeter's rookie from 1993 Topps is one of very few cards from that era that still holds some value. Last year, I bought the Topps Gold parallel of this card from Christian, my primary card show dealer, for around $15. 

Topps released many reprints in their golden anniversary year, spanning insert sets, a large subset of the Traded set, and even some gold-bordered Factory Set exclusives.

2001 Topps Through The Years Reprints #42 Ken Griffey, Jr. '92
This Griffey is the one of three others I have from this 50-card insert set, and I'm pretty sure it came from one of my first-ever visits to Christian's table, circa 2003.

1994 Leaf Slideshow #6 Barry Bonds
I collected a lot of Leaf cards, even in my childhood days. It was a nice product, and affordable, even on a kid's budget. I thought I knew the 1993 and 1994 sets pretty well, which is why I was surprised when my girlfriend showed me this one out of the dollar box. It's made to look like a slide (remember those?), and might be the first transparent card to hit the market, a few years before 1997 Skybox E-X 2000.

It's full color and everything. And if you could hack a slide projector to fit a baseball card, I'm sure it would project nicely before melting.

And now, how about a few cards with absolutely no gold foil at all?

2005 Finest #162 Reggie Jackson RET
Due to the high price of Topps Finest, I've never actually purchased a box or even a pack of it. I've always relied on scavenging the discount boxes. I find them rather frequently, but there are definitely gaps in my collection. This is my first card from 2005 Finest, and it strongly resembles the ripple/fingerprint element in this year's Topps base set.

I've compared the hexagon-heavy 2003 Finest to 2014 Stadium Club Triumvirates, so if one wants a preview for what Topps has up its sleeve in coming years, Finest seems to be a good place to look.

Speaking of 2014 Stadium Club, this was the first time I found the set in a discount box.

2014 Stadium Club #53 Willie Mays
In addition to Mays and this vintagey-looking photograph (to go along with his Field Access insert), I also found Yasiel Puig's card. Two players that couldn't be more different. 

2014 Stadium Club is only a 200-card set, and I'd love to build the whole thing. I've yet to purchase any 2015, but from what I've seen so far in the blog community, I don't like it as much as this epic 2014 set.

2000 Topps Tek Pattern 5 #9 Andruw Jones
Topps also resurrected the Topps Tek brand last year, and I found a few examples from 2000 in this box. Like all Topps Tek sets, there are numerous background variations, but unlike the nearly 10,000-card master sets of a few years prior, this one is a much more manageable 900.

1996 Leaf Preferred Steel #2 Paul Molitor
I found about a half dozen Leaf Steel cards, which you've seen before on Infield Fly Rule. As you can see, these were all pretty beat up and chipped around the edges, but that doesn't affect their heft or magnetism. It's surprising, though, that pretty much the only metal baseball cards out there are quite fragile.

1992 Kellogg's All-Stars #1 Willie Stargell
I'm not the biggest fan of oddballs, but these Kellogg's cards are starting to grow on me. Unlike the miniature ones we're a bit more familiar with, this is close to normal-sized. It's a standard width card, though it's about a centimeter shorter. It's from 1992, and I had no idea Kellogg's was making these 3-D cards that recently. Whatever they did, they found a way to prevent the cracks that are frequently seen on earlier cards.

2000 Pacific Crown Royale #89 Rickey Henderson
My girlfriend found a few of these "Princess" cards in the same dollar box that yielded Bonds' transparent slide, so I couldn't resist. She also noticed that they had a sealed box of Crown Royale football cards on the shelf, and I had no idea that Panini resurrected this brand in recent years. 

Henderson in a Mets uniform is pretty unfamiliar, but he did play for quite a few teams in his long career, especially toward the end. Unlike, say, John Elway, he didn't quite know when to hang them up, and he kept signing with whatever team would take him.

Just when you thought Pacific cards couldn't get any crazier, they go and do something like this:

1998 Pacific Paramount Special Delivery #20 Jose Cruz, Jr.
From the Special Delivery insert set, they sort of went postal here.

Pun intended.

The back looks like a postcard, with a second photo in the upper right made to look like a postage stamp, echoing the overall outline of this card. The font on the back is script, clearly mimicking handwriting. It's sort of like the Studio credit card idea on steroids. Which is entirely appropriate for 1998.

I guess when you stumble on a card shop a thousand miles from home that's run by a Rockies fan, anything goes.


  1. I could swear there is a card blogger out there who mentions Cleve's all the time as his local shop. I can't remember who it is, though.

    1. It is Napkin Doon, who retired his blog a little over a year ago! I knew it!

    2. That's the place! Cleve had a bunch of stuff ready for auction the day I was there, but I didn't stick around that long.

      Thank you for finding that.

  2. These card shop posts make me jealous. Great haul there, and I especially love the oddly-shaped Pacific singles. Pacific really knew how to spice up a baseball card.

  3. Love the Bonds Leaf Slideshow insert. These were pretty tough pulls back in the day. Such an underrated set in my book.

  4. if you ever get back to the Dallas area, there's a great shop near the Ballpark in Arlington -Duane's Sportscards. Lots of wax and singles and two gentlemen both named Bill - they have a ton of stuff to go thru, and priced to sell. glad you had a great time!

    1. I visited Duane's a couple of times when I was in Texas for training last year.