Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Trading Post #94: Cardboard Clubhouse

Adam was a fairly common name when I was growing up. Starting in the first year or two of elementary school and throughout my public school career, there were lots of Adams. Adam W., Adam T., Adam G., Adam B., and of course myself as Adam K. There's even another Adam K. at my current place of employment, so our colleagues have to come up with other ways to differentiate us, primarily that the other Adam K. is a talented dancer and soccer player, of which I am neither.

Even in Boy Scouts, there were two Adam S.'s in my patrol, leading to this particular exchange shouted between tents one dark night at a mountain campsite:

"Hey, where's Adam?"
"Which Adam?"
"Which S?"
[frustrated pause] "<other S.'s last name>!"

Even in the Cardsphere, there are a couple of Adam S.'s, entirely different from the ones I knew in my Boy Scout days. Giants fan Adam (aka arpsmith) writes "ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession", and Adam Sanders writes Cardboard Clubhouse, the sender of this particular PWE.

2010 Topps #51 Eric Young Jr (RC)
The Adam S. in question, a Reds fan, found this Rockies card of Eric Young, Jr. sliding into home plate at Coors Field against a Cincinnati Reds catcher. We might have enough information here to date this card. Ryan Hanigan was the regular catcher for the Reds in 2009, and Cincinnati visited Denver in early September 2009. Young, Jr. scored multiple times during that series, but the most likely candidate is September 9th, 2009. Eric Young, Jr. got on base to lead off the third inning, advanced to third on a Carlos Gonzalez single (wow, CarGo was a Rockie way back in 2009?), and scored on a sacrifice fly by Seth Smith.

He is facing away from the catcher, but that sliding position is fairly dangerous, the way his spikes are up like that. It's a good Nike ad, at least, but it's probably best that the pitcher wasn't nearby.

2015 Topps Rainbow Foil #94 Tommy Kahnle
Tommy Kahnle is now part of the Chicago White Sox organization. I might even get to see this ex-Rockie when the White Sox come to town in July, as part of my quest to see every Major League team in person. Even though Kahnle didn't make a huge splash for the Rockies (originally drafted as a Yankee), I'm still glad to have this Rainbow Foil parallel from 2015 Topps.

The stucco set (is that what we settled on calling it?) already seems like a distant memory, but if it's to be the last-ever bordered Topps base set, then I think they did a great job with it.

1995 Stadium Club #109 Doug Million
That's about it for the new cards, as the rest were mostly from the 1990s. 1995 Topps Stadium Club introduced a new brand logo that would stick around for a couple years, and it appears on this Draft Picks subset card. I've written about Doug Million's sad story before, and this promising lefty never had a chance to pitch in the Majors before his tragic death. The Rockies pitching staff is facing something similar today, as starter Chad Bettis will likely be missing most of the 2017 season as he is treated for testicular cancer.

I hope that I'll be seeing Chad Bettis cards long into the future, regardless of which team he's on.

1995 Stadium Club #94 Walt Weiss
Walt Weiss also got a card in that same Topps Stadium Club set, which was generally being referred to as TSC during this period. I can't quite tell if he's sliding into third or diving back to first base to avoid a pickoff attempt. Probably the former, unless the first baseman is playing far behind the runner. Either way, we can see that the former Rockies manager wore his cap underneath his batting helmet. I don't see anyone do this anymore, but it wasn't that uncommon in the 1990s. When I played my two seasons of little league, I used to do exactly that when I strolled up to the plate. Always wanted to be like the big guys. Unfortunately for me, that is slightly more difficult when your helmet has ear flaps on both sides. I guess I just didn't have the leverage at the age of ten to demand a right-handed batting helmet. But a switch-hitter in the Majors got a choice of either.

1995 Collector's Choice SE #260 Dante Bichette FT
1995 Collector's Choice SE came out in the final month of 1994, and the blue foil made it one of my favorites at the time. I have seen these Fantasy Team subset cards countless times, but I never really looked that closely at them. This was a decade before I knew anything about fantasy baseball, but the back of this card gives a look at per-position fantasy rankings, based on the standard 5-category scoring. Those 5 categories were based on statistics that you'd find in a box score in the newspaper, since this was long before any sort of live scoring you could check on an automatically refreshing webpage.

Strangely, the column for batting average shows a zero in front of the usual three-digit number, as in 0.284. More strangely, there is no column for runs scored, one of the key statistics in 5-category scoring. And perhaps strangest of all, Dante Bichette's fantasy stats don't even appear on the back of his own card. Luis Polonia is at the top of the AL outfielder rankings, and Derrick May atop the NL rankings. Rockies outfielder Mike Kingery shows up midway down the NL ranks, but Bichette is nowhere to be found.

That seems to be an error, as I checked the back of several other cards in this subset. Greg Maddux, Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell are all listed at the top of their league table, in bold no less. Bichette and his stellar seasons as a Blake Street Bomber surely put him as a top-ranked outfielder. Which is pretty much where Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon can be found today.

1995 Donruss #383 Roberto Mejia
Continuing our flashback to 1995, Roberto Mejia, an expansion draft pick, appears in this 1995 Donruss set. The front is pretty standard for a mid-1990s card, with a full-bleed photo and lots of illegible silver foil. But I do think I finally know whose batting helmet Charlie Hayes was wearing on his 1994 Upper Deck card.

1995 Donruss #383 Roberto Mejia (Reverse)
Over twenty years later, the back of 1995 Donruss clearly influenced the 2016 Topps Bunt set, with its huge team logo, a touch of color coding, and a general gray color.

Fake-finger-gun back at you, Roberto. I'm sure that was a nice throw.

1994 Score #528 David Nied
David Nied, the Rockies first pick in the Expansion Draft, was featured in the fragile 1994 Score set. The little yellow 1993 Rookie label isn't quite accurate, as Nied pitched three games for the Braves before the Rockies and Marlins poached rosters from the rest of the Major Leagues.

This photo is probably from 1993, making the blurry foreground catcher likely either Joe Girardi or Danny Sheaffer, both of whom also got cards in 1994 Score. Surprisingly, for as much 1994 Score as I collected when it was new, and for as many early Rockies cards as I get via trade, this Nied looks to be a newcomer to my collection.

Thanks again to Adam S. for sending this Adam K. some great Rockies cards, and I hope he enjoys the upcoming baseball season, which kicks off one week from today!

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