Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Trading Post #86: It's Like Having My Own Card Shop

Daniel from It's Like Having My Own Card Shop and I are kindred spirits, in a sense. We're both fans of the recent expansion teams in the NL West, sort of all by our lonesome among all the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, and Cubs collectors in the Cardsphere. He was one of many bloggers who got a #supertrader mailer from me shortly before Christmas, and he was sure to return the favor with a PWE of his own.

1997 Collector's Choice All-Star Connection #42 Ellis Burks
Once my eyes returned to normal after being blinded by the giant silver star on this Ellis Burks card, I started doing a little research, as I didn't recognize the set. It's an insert from 1997 Collector's Choice, part of a moderately-sized insert set of 45 cards. There's quite a bit of red foil on it, including the 1997 All-Star Game logo, which took place in Cleveland that year. Until recently, the AL and NL did a pretty good job of alternating which league hosted the Midsummer Classic, although we're in the middle of a four-year stretch of NL hosts. Cleveland, of course, is an AL city, and the Rockies would get to host the very next year.

Upper Deck put a unique spin on their usual method of putting five lines of stats on the back. Rather than the five most recent seasons (which always kind of bugged me, and why I preferred Topps and Fleer as a young collector), they put the 1996 season, along with his stats for the All-Star Games and each playoff series he had appeared in. It definitely reads like an early-season line or single-game box score. One triple, one stolen base, six at-bats and so on. He hadn't appeared in a World Series by this point, and would never get the chance. In fact, his team lost each of the six playoff series he appeared in, including the 1995 Rockies.

2003 Upper Deck Classic Portraits #181 Clint Barmes MP /2003 (RC)
Clint Barmes would be an important part of the next Rockies team to make the playoffs, but he hadn't quite made it to The Show yet. This is actually the second time I've seen this set, and it's starting to grow on me. It has a similar look and feel to UD's later A Piece Of History products. The serial number this time around isn't quite as low as Chris Capuano's card, but at 2,003 copies, it's still fairly scarce.

Interestingly, there's a slight error on the back. Even though he didn't have any MLB experience at this point, the column headings are clearly meant for a pitcher, not a position player. I suppose it's not entirely wrong, as he hadn't taken the mound in a MLB game. But he's clearly listed in a couple places as a shortstop. The only other two cards I have from this set are of actual pitchers, and they have the same column headings. So I can't be sure if this error affected all position players or just Barmes. But Capuano's card wasn't quite accurate either, as I pointed out last time, further indicating that this set didn't get a proper quality check.

1996 Collector's Choice Silver Signature #758 Andres Galarraga CL
The run of silver foil continues with an Andres Galarraga checklist parallel. It's from 1996 Collector's Choice, and if you want to see more of that set, Nachos Grande is in the middle of opening a whole Series 1 box pack-by-pack. This one is from Series 2, though. In fact, its the third-to-last card in the whole 760-card checklist, not counting a small update series that came a little later.

Silver Signatures were one-per-pack in this product, and they're pretty plentiful. Unlike Topps, which didn't make Topps Gold checklists, UD had no problem recognizing that checklists are an important part of a set and giving them the parallel treatment. They go pretty in-depth on Galarraga's performance in June 1995, highlighting his 3-for-3 day on June 25th, which included three home runs in three consecutive innings, plus two walks. Coors Field was in its infancy then, but the Rockies were already earning their Blake Street Bombers nickname.

There's an error on this card, too, by the way. The front of the card has the correct date, but the back lists June 15th, 1995, which was an off day. Maybe Night Owl's recent post about error cards has me paying extra attention to these things.

2005 Diamond Kings Framed Red #251 Jeff Francis
The streak of silver foil comes to an end here, but there's still a little red foil and a framed border. With the continued growth of Panini cards, these mid-2000 Donruss cards are starting to look a bit more familiar. Francis is listed as a Rockie, but the painting by artist Dave Kramer has him wearing a Canadian jersey. Francis would represent Canada in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, but that didn't happen until the following year, and their actual jerseys were different. That makes this image basically an artist's concept, one that would become technically correct later on. I especially like the combination of the Rockies' "CR" logo on the hat, paired with the little Canadian flag on the jersey. Not sure about the yellow stripe, though.

2010 Topps 206 Bronze #262 Melvin Mora
Topps 206 Bronze parallels from 2010 look pretty similar to that Diamond Kings set. While they don't have the same playing card finish, they're about the same thickness, and the design of the border frame is strikingly similar. Before the Rockies started signing aging Twins stars like Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau, they picked Melvin Mora. Mora, according to this card, played more games at third base for the Baltimore Orioles than anyone besides Brooks Robinson. Mora is Venezuelan, one of many from that nation to play in Denver, including Galarraga, Carlos Gonzalez, and Alexi Amarista, whom the Rockies just signed to a one-year deal today. Mora only stuck around for a year himself, making this a good candidate for an unfamiliar uniform mini-collection.

2013 Topps Update Gold #US226 Michael Cuddyer /2013
Speaking of Michael Cuddyer, here's the newest card that Daniel stuffed into this envelope. Julie from A Cracked Bat sent me the base version once upon a time, but it looks more dramatic with a gold border. Cuddyer did pretty well in the Derby that year, finishing third overall, just barely missing the final.

I'm not sure whether these bright orange jerseys are that much better than the brown and yellow ones worn in San Diego last year. And this year it will be in Miami, so for all I know they'll wear bright green and look like airport gate workers.

2008 Topps 50th Anniversary All Rookie Team #AR85 Aaron Miles
Aaron Miles played second for the Rockies for a couple of seasons. He was traded to the Cardinals at the 2005 Winter Meetings, and would go on to win a World Series ring that year. He was one of those adequate-but-kind-of-invisible infielders, putting up a decent average but not having much power or speed. Sort of like my own career as a second baseman.

This one is part of a 110-card insert set in 2008 Topps, showing various members of the Topps All-Rookie Team. It reuses the design from a subset found in the 1960 set, giving us an early hint at what Topps Archives is today. The same design on different card stock appeared in 2009 Topps Heritage, and it seems so strangely familiar that they may have used it again on a more recent insert set. Not too sure about that, though. Maybe I've just seen this design so often but never knew precisely where it came from.

2003 Fleer Ultra Gold Medallion #60 Jason Jennings
Finally, something very different from what was on offer in 1960. And not just batting helmets with ear flaps. It's a die-cut card, but not with a zillion odd corners like Topps has been doing these days. It's subtle, and goes well with the angles of the thin gold lines elsewhere in the design. It's just batting practice, but it's still a pitcher at the plate, who's also working on his bunting. He was a righty, but batted from the left side of the plate. It's not that uncommon to have opposite handedness depending on whether you're throwing or hitting, but I can't think of many pitchers that play that way.

It seemed to work for Jennings, one of the best homegrown pitchers to ever come out of the Rockies organization. This gold medallion parallel was my favorite card in the envelope.

I don't expect to see Fleer Ultra again, but perhaps the Rockies will have a young pitcher that's as good as Jennings one of these days.

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