Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Trading Post #50: Brad's Blog

Prior to his recent move, Brad from the eponymous Brad's Blog ran a giveaway so he could schlep a little less cardboard to his new place. He's all moved in now, and I'm glad I could help take a few Rockies cards off his hands to smooth that process just a little.

1995 Fleer #529 John Vander Wal
When the lead card is from the nutty 1995 Fleer, you know there will be plenty of variety. It's just such a strange and disjointed set, but I can't help but love it. At least it's not shy. I purchased this product when it was new, but this John Vander Wal card is new to me.

Vander Wal was a pretty solid utility player and pinch hitter. He put together a good year at the plate in 1995, and I always enjoyed seeing him come to bat, especially when he hit a home run in the Rockies epic 16-15 win over the Dodgers on June 30th, 1996, a legendary game in Rockies history.

The NL West design of 1995 Fleer forced the player's vital stats (height, weight, age, etc...) onto the front of the card, a very unusual spot. That still didn't clear much room off the back of the card, as most of Vander Wal's minor league clubs are abbreviated as "W. Palm B.", "Indianap." and "Jacksonv."

It might go down as the busiest card design in history.

But I still like it.

1994 Topps #49 Armando Reynoso
I also like 1994 Topps, which was the first factory set I ever purchased. I thought I knew the set pretty well, but this card seemed a bit unfamiliar. It's not from the Traded set, just the regular 792-card base set. I'm just surprised I didn't recognize it, as I handled those cards a lot when I was ten.

1994 Score #643 Eric Wedge
So far, we've seen sets I collected when they were new. 1994 Score is no different, but I definitely haven't seen this card before. Wedge might be doing some bullpen catching here, but it just looks like a posed shot to me. He's also noted as a Rookie Prospect, though that didn't really pan out. He only played in 9 games as a Rockie, though he has a slew of cards as one. He appeared on the Red Sox briefly over three seasons, but I can't recall ever seeing a card of him in a Boston jersey.

His managerial career was quite a bit more successful, as he won the Manager of the Year award in 2007, though he hasn't really been involved in professional baseball since his stroke in 2013. Fortunately he seems to have recovered well.

1993 Triple Play #22 Darren Holmes
1993 Triple Play was one of the first sets to have Rockies, though this was released too early for Darren Holmes to appear in a Rockies uniform. It even has their original logo that was changed just before they began play. It's the closest thing the young Rockies have to a throwback logo. I'd personally love to see it appear on the field for the first time.

Incidentally, he was the first ballplayer I ever met in person. He did an autograph signing at a local mall, and he signed a couple cards, a ball, and my hat. I remember the day quite vividly, in fact. I'm pretty sure my dad bought a pair of sneakers at that mall anchor store, my sister was there as well, and we saw a white limousine as we left the mall.

Forgive my channeling Rain Man right there. But I can't remember what my lunch plans were on Sunday. Go figure.

1993 Triple Play #237 Joe Girardi
Anyway, back to 1993 Triple Play. Somehow Donruss managed to get Joe Girardi in a real Rockies uniform, with the current Rockies logo, no less, all without changing the team logo on the print layout. I'm sure they had it all ready to go and it was too late to change the design, but getting this official uniform on the card must have been a real accomplishment!

1999 Fleer Tradition #327 Brian Bohanon
Brad had an eagle eye here, spotting the updated team name on Brian Bohanon's 1999 Fleer Tradition card. That script lettering is pretty tough to read, and not to put this one in the Dodger pile took some attention on Brad's part. Granted, it's clearer on the back, and that Free Agent seal is a signal to take a closer look.

Bohanon wrapped up his career in Colorado, coming close to a .500 record over three seasons, though with a rather elevated ERA of close to 6.00. The Rockies didn't have much going on during those years besides the emergence of Todd Helton, but I do remember seeing him pitch a few games on TV (before it went to cable, but that's a whole other story).

2013 Topps Heritage #329 Drew Pomeranz
So far, it's mostly been inaugural-era Rockies, but there were some newer cards as well. Drew Pomeranz, now with Oakland, looks mighty ticked about something. Perhaps it's that 2-9 record he amassed in the previous season. Or that the scratch off area on the back of this Topps Heritage card doesn't scratch off like a true 1964 card.

2015 Topps Allen & Ginter #226 Nolan Arenado
Now, Topps' vintage-style brands like A&G and Gypsy Queen are kind of low on my list of favorites. They're an awful lot like Bowman, in that I can hardly tell the years apart. I can easily differentiate the two sets, but I don't know them well enough to be able to pinpoint the different designs. I don't think Topps would lose much by nixing one of these brands, or maybe alternating years.

2015 Topps Gypsy Queen #116 Nolan Arenado
And recycled images don't help that problem one bit. Topps had to use the same image of the same guy in the same year on more or less the same set? At least this 2015 GQ design is somewhat distinctive, but really? Is Topps stretching themselves too thin with photo licensing fees? Are they even fielding their own photographers anymore? Are they still using 64 MB flash cards or something?

2015 Topps Chrome #11 Carlos Gonzalez
That's a bit more up my alley! Chrome cards still curl, but this one is relatively flat. I do like how the 2015 design looks with the shiny treatment. I hope to keep seeing shiny cards of CarGo, but he and most of the Rockies outfield are starting to come up in trade rumors. The whole league knows the Rockies need pitching, and they do have some outfield depth to draw on there, but Gonzalez, when healthy, is a great contributor.

1995 Topps Cyberstats #57 Charlie Hayes
Here's one you don't see too often - a Topps Cyberstats parallel. The very existence of this card helps explain its rarity, as the simulated stats on the back assume a 1994 season that wasn't shortened by the infamous strike. It was a pretty big nail in the coffin of the overproduction era, just as shiny technology started taking off.

I'm a fan of most of the 1995 brands, and the torn edge look of the border goes well with the type of streaking they use for the background. It's similar to some parts of 1995 Fleer's NL West design. To me, it looks a lot like The Void that Frodo enters when he puts on the ring in Lord of the Rings. But relax, this is only Wrigley Field.

2007 Artifacts MLB Apparel # MLB-AT Garrett Atkins /199 (MEM)
Brad said he'd do his best to include at least one relic or autograph in each giveaway shipment, and this UD card fits the bill. There's a prominent serial number, right below the pinstriped swatch, easily my favorite feature of relic cards. That frame around the relic looks straight out of a Harry Potter movie (you getting an idea of the movies I like?), and if you look extra carefully at the border, you can see that it's an old map of Canada. Winnipeg, of all places, is found on the upper right.

I might need to dig up a magnifying glass to fully appreciate the cards I've been getting lately. Stamp collectors use them; why not us?

Thank you Brad, and enjoy your new home!

1 comment:

  1. I'm right there with you on the frustration over Topps' lack of picture and design variety. They nearly monopolize the baseball card industry and push out a ton of mediocre products.