Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Antique Mall Mystery Pack: Pirates

For the next iteration of my Antique Mall Mystery Pack theme, I'm continuing to focus on teams that made it to the 2015 Postseason.

1998 Fleer Tradition #218 Shawon Dunston
Unlike the Mets, however, the Pirates were ousted by the Cubs in the National League Wild Card game. They're the subject of the next team bag I opened from a recent trip to the Brass Armadillo antique mall in Denver. There are still plenty more to come, but for now, lets look at this Fleer-heavy pack of the NL Central's first runner-up.

Shawon Dunston leads it off, a player who spent most of his career on the Cubbies, but who came over to Pittsburgh for a short 18 game stop toward the later part of his career. This is from that brief time in 1997, which we can tell by the Jackie Robinson 50th Anniversary patch on his right sleeve. This Fleer design is always tough for me to place precisely, but that patch helped out quite a bit.

1995 Fleer #477 Mark Dewey
1995 Fleer, on the other hand, is so distinctive it can probably be seen from space. The NL Central design is a bit more tame than the NL East design we saw on the Mets. If the rest of these packs have a 1995 Fleer card or two, this should be a fun journey.

2000 Fleer Tradition #187 Bruce Aven
As little as I know about middle reliever Mark Dewey, I know even less about Bruce Aven. I'd honestly never heard of him prior to pulling this card. Fleer brands got pretty strange around this time, as they started calling their flagship product "Fleer Tradition" in 1998, as we can see on Dunston's card at the top of this post.

That only lasted two years, as they shifted the Tradition brand over to a retro style in 2000, and didn't even market a flagship "Fleer" set for most of the rest of their existence. They were clearly going for the look of 1954 Topps with this set, which will become clear soon enough.

2001 Upper Deck Vintage #318 Pittsburgh Pirates CL
UD was on the vintage bandwagon not long after, as was Topps with their Heritage brand. This team checklist from Upper Deck Vintage is full of disembodied heads, but the variety of hats, batting helmets, logos, and even a hatless player I've never heard of make this card somewhat disjointed.

2003 Topps #458 Josh Fogg
There, that's more like it! No wonder I keep coming back to Topps as my favorite brand. I thought I knew the 2003 design pretty well, but it wasn't until I scanned this card that I noticed that the upper right corner of the photo is rounded. Overall, this is a great color-coded set, and I've always liked the black and yellow of the Pirates. Fogg even spent some time as a Rockie, and was part of that magical 2007 playoff team. His career didn't last much beyond that, but he holds a place in Rockies history.

1994 Topps Archives 1954 Gold #87 
Roy Face
1994 Topps Archives 1954 Gold #213 
John Fitzpatrick CO
Speaking of history, how about a couple one-per-pack Gold parallels from one of my favorite reprint sets, Topps Archives 1954?

These aren't perfect reproductions, as the original 1954 cards didn't have a white border on top, and the dimensions were slightly larger (think 1989 Bowman). But with a large, full-color painted headshot, small action black-and-white photograph, facsimile signature, team logo, and the team name and spelled-out position toward the top underneath the player's name in all caps, it's plain that Fleer did barely more than change the font for their 2000 Tradition product.

And I thought 1996 Donruss ripped off 1995 Leaf.

Blatant plagiarism aside, there was one more surprise in this pack.

1972 Topps #180 Dock Ellis IA
This is by far the oldest card I've pulled from this shopping trip, and it's from Topps' iconic 1972 "psychedelic gravestone" set. Dock Ellis, of course, is the pitcher who threw a no-hitter while on LSD (the same substance that may have inspired 1995 Fleer). I haven't seen it yet, but there's a documentary about the feat, whose movie poster is clearly based off of 1972 Topps.

Though the Pirates may not have progressed in this year's Postseason, the franchise has a long and colorful history from Honus Wagner to Andrew McCutchen, with some Dock Ellis and Barry Bonds in between.

Up next: the Toronto Blue Jays.


  1. There used to be a Brass Armadillo store in Cincinnati but it shut down a while back, moved to a different location, and re-opened as the Ohio Valley Antique Mall. Reading this series makes me want to go check the place out for cards since I've never actually been in there.

    1. It's pretty overwhelming but worth the trip if you can uncover some gems!

    2. Hey Adam, have you tried the Cesar Creek flee market on I-71? It's been a long time since I was in there, but they had some interesting vendors there.

    3. I have not been to Caesar Creek flea market in a few years. It's a bit of a drive for me, but I do want to make it out there sometime next spring.