Monday, October 19, 2015

The Trading Post #43: My Best Friend Collects Chipper Jones

It's been a while since I started a new trading relationship, but I'm always reminded how fun it is to swap cards with other collectors. Mark from My Best Friend Collects Chipper Jones commented on a recent post offering a couple needs from my Eight Men Out want list. Just a few days after a PWE from 2x3 Heroes was delivered, another envelope showed up this weekend, and it had some beauties.

1991 Bowman #410 Bobby Thomson / Ralph Branca / Shot Heard Round the World
Only a couple sets have been in my collection longer than 1991 Bowman, but somehow this iconic card eluded my grasp all these years. The Eight Men Out list comes through again! This was one of the first sets to experiment with gold foil, and it's present on only a few cards, including this one.

Come to think of it, the card backs on this set might be why I like green cards so much. Like the woodgrain design on 1987 Topps influencing my appreciation of 1955 Bowman and 1962 Topps (and thus 2011 Topps Heritage), perhaps green cards just look "right" to some deep-seated part of my brain.

1991 Bowman #410 Bobby Thomson / Ralph Branca / Shot Heard Round the World (Reverse)
With all the monster clutch home runs we've seen so far this postseason, like those from Kyle Schwarber and of course Jose Bautista (topped off with the best bat flip in baseball history), Bobby Thomson and his "Shot Heard 'Round The World" fits right in, despite happening over sixty years ago.

But that wasn't all.

1991 Stadium Club #493 Scott Coolbaugh
This was the last card I needed to complete Series 2 of 1991 Stadium Club! The penultimate card came via trade not long ago, but I can finally cross this one off the list. I don't really know much about Coolbaugh, but he played a few seasons in the majors, and even went over to Japan for a couple years following the 1994 strike. More on that later.

1996 Collector's Choice Silver Signature #753 Bichette / Castilla / Galarraga / Walker CL
Mark stuffed an envelope with close to two dozen cards, including lots of Rockies, like this Silver Signature checklist of the Blake Street Bombers. The Colorado Rockies' Facebook account posted a Throwback Thursday photo of these guys last week, and it is very, very 1990s.

1992 Fleer Ultra #199 Craig Biggio
He also included a small stack of Hall-of-Famers from 1992 Fleer Ultra. This Biggio card is one I could almost draw from memory, but I don't recall that little six-sided pin on top of his hat, despite having seen this card countless times. It's also a quick reminder that Biggio started out as a catcher, something that's commonly forgotten.

1996 Zenith #13 Dante Bichette
The rest of these cards were mostly shiny Rockies. I've seen Zenith before, but never from this 1996 vintage that I can recall. I don't know whether they all have eight gold bats arrayed like a Japanese folding hand fan, but I'll sure remember it now.

1995 Finest #255 Bill Swift
I also got the opportunity to liberate a few Finest cards from their protective peel-off coating, one of the most satisfying simple pleasures of 21st-century American life. Whether it's an iPhone, microwave panel, or 20-year old baseball card, it's like unwrapping a present.

Bill Swift was one of the first high-end free agent pitchers the Rockies signed, before anyone knew that free agent pitchers seem not to make it in Coors Field. Swift and Bret Saberhagen were the first to set that precedent.

1995 SP #51 Vinny Castilla
The position players on the Rockies have almost always been the highlights, going all the way back to an inaugural Rockie, Vinny Castilla. He was a third baseman, but he's clearly covering second base to turn two, and doing a good job of it, despite Bip Roberts' non-leg-breaking takeout slide.

For a "Super Premium" card, it's on the thin side, but makes great use of gold and blue foil. That blue foil features a whole lattice of SP logos when they catch the light just right, which shows up quite nicely in the scan.

1995 Topps Cyberstats #71 Walt Weiss
1993 was a tough year to be a budding baseball fan. The 1993 season was great, ending with Joe Carter's walkoff home run in the 1993 World Series, but the infamous strike of 1994 prevented me from seeing another World Series until after Coors Field had opened. It's a giant shame, especially since the Montreal Expos were having a fantastic season and were far from a long shot to win it all.

1995 Topps did what it could with that disgraceful period in baseball history, making a partial set of CyberStats parallels with a special foil on the front.

1995 Topps Cyberstats #71 Walt Weiss (Reverse)
The back of these parallels include "computer-simulated" statistics, projecting what would have happened had the final six or seven weeks of the 1994 season occurred. No one expected Weiss to improve on his single real-life home run of 1994, but Barry Bonds' card in this set suggested that he might have tied Roger Maris' 61 home runs. I find this scenario highly unlikely, given that Bonds only had 37 when play stopped. But we'll never know whether Maris' record (or even his asterisk) would have fallen, or if the Expos would have brought Canada its third World Series trophy in as many years.

Matt Williams was sitting much prettier at 43 home runs, so if the record were to fall, it probably would have been a different Giant than Topps thought. But who knows? One thing's for sure. Whether Bonds, Williams, or Maris held the single-season home run record at the end of a complete 1994 season, Topps Cyberstats never would have existed.

Cool cards, but I'd have preferred a full season.


  1. I always felt that the Cyberstats (and the Stadium Club "Virtual Reality" version) were depressing reminders that a promising and potentially historic season was lost. Gwynn was chasing .400, and as you mentioned Williams and Bonds were chasing 61, the Expos were having a great run. The strike pretty much killed the Expos, because the fans abandoned Montreal in the following years. Attendance around the league took a big hit, but I think it was felt most strongly in the smaller markets and Montreal in particular had a difficult time getting the attendance to return to pre-strike levels.

  2. The "Shot Heard 'Round the World" card is probably one of my top ten favorite cards from the overproduction era.