Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Trading Post #137: Big Shep's Cards (Part 1: Topps)

For my 300th post(!), I'm kicking off a three-part series of cards I purchased from Big Shep's Cards nearly a year ago. It was a giant stack of several hundred cards, and it took a while to organize, let alone pick a small handful to feature on the blog. Most were from the 1990s and early 2000s across all brands. We'll start Part 1 with Topps, my favorite card company ever since the beginning of my collecting career.

1994 Stadium Club Team #110 Nelson Liriano
I rarely see them on the blogs, but the early-'90s Stadium Club team sets show up in my travels surprisingly often. I see them at card shows, I see them at local card shops, and I've seen them in many trades. The 1994 set is maybe a little less common than 1993, and by now I've added the complete Rockies team sets from both years.

Not every team was represented in these team sets, and Topps trimmed the number of teams from sixteen in 1993 to twelve in 1994, but the Rockies were found in both years. As a Rockies fan, I am normally shut out of a whole slew of sets, especially inserts, simply by virtue of being a fan of a less-adored team. Dodgers and Yankees collectors have little idea what this is like. Rockies fans, on the other hand....

Anyway, sorry, Astros fans. You'll have to settle for a cameo this time. This one is Steve Finley, trying to break up a double play inside Mile High Stadium against middle infielder Nelson Liriano. I remember Liriano quite well from the early days of the Rockies. However, I missed his second and final stint with the Rockies in 1998, where he played a dozen games before retiring for good.

Steve Finley would also conclude his career with the Rockies, though much later, in 2007. He managed to play for every NL West team during his long career.

1994 Stadium Club Team #243 Bruce Hurst
One could not be faulted for thinking this is a Rockies card. It shows Bruce Hurst in a Rockies uniform, complete with the 1993 Inaugural Season patch on his right sleeve. Hurst, making his Infield Fly Rule debut 300 posts in, pitched very briefly for the Rockies in 1993. He started three games, pitched 8.2 innings, posted an ERA of 5.19, and then re-entered free agency.

The longtime Red Sox veteran didn't have a fantastic end to his career. His ERA with the Padres in early 1993 was even worse than it was with the Rockies later that year, a whopping 12.46. The Padres sent him and Greg Harris to the Rockies, in exchange for Brad Ausmus, Doug Bochtler, and PTBNL Andy Ashby.


Hurst decided he had enough of the NL West, and signed with the Texas Rangers. Looking closely at the vertical gold foil in the upper right tells us that this is indeed a Rangers card. He went 2-1 in 8 games, and didn't return to playing baseball once the strike was settled.

With the increase in Topps's use of Photoshop, cards like this have become a thing of the past. They make our collector's OCD go a little crazy, but it's kind of fun to see other uniforms in your team set, sometimes with a little note on the card front. "NOW WITH RANGERS", or something to that effect.

1993 Bowman #147 Johnny Ruffin
It was a similar story with 1993 Bowman. Johnny Ruffin never played for the Rockies. For that matter, he never played for the White Sox either, the team he's actually pictured with. Before purple took more of a center stage, the White Sox and Rockies often wore very similar uniforms. They still do on occasion, when they both suit up with pinstriped home whites. In fact, the one time I saw the White Sox play in Denver, it wasn't that easy to tell a Rockies fan and a White Sox fan apart.

I knew which one I was, though.

Coincidentally, the Rockies had a player named Bruce Ruffin, though no relation to Johnny. Perhaps that and the similar uniform led this card to migrate into the wrong team stack.

The younger Ruffin signed with Chicago at the young age of 16, but was one of many prospects that ended up not living up to the hype. Unfortunately, he ended up running into some legal trouble as well. I did see him play once, as he came on in relief for the Reds during the final Rockies home game of 1993, the same game that Upper Deck snapped Joe Girardi's photo for the 1994 set.

2002 Topps Opening Day #17 Juan Pierre
Once upon a time, Opening Day was more than the foil-less downmarket set it is today. Nearer its inception, there was a colored border that was arguably prettier than the actual base set, not to mention a large foil seal. I like this copper color way more than the mustard yellow found in 2002 flagship. The border has shown a chip or two, but it looks just as good on the back. And those color-coded ribbons on the top and bottom have that chevron on the end, a throwback to many of the 1970s Topps designs.

Speaking of the Reds, I am fairly certain those are some Reds coaches in the third base dugout behind a sliding Juan Pierre at Coors Field. Not many teams had those red-on-black caps, but a few had red-on-dark blue.

No one will mistake this one for a White Sox card, that's for sure.

2014 Topps Trajectory Relics #TR-TT Troy Tulowitzki (MEM)
Our final two cards are of the "hit" variety, starting with a familiar-looking relic card of Troy Tulowitzki. This is from the Topps Trajectory insert set, which came in both relic and autograph flavors. I blogged about one of the autographs just over five years ago, but I never realized that the large circular area on the left would be a perfect spot for a relic. There's no autograph sticker to cover up the photograph, which makes this design a little more well-balanced in relic form.

It also took me five years to notice that the player's uniform number can be found on this busy design, toward the bottom.

Unlike Johnny Ruffin, who took over five years to make it from the minors to the Big Leagues (although he started at age 16), Tulowitzki accomplished that in just fourteen months, according to the card back.

2012 Bowman Chrome Rookie Autographs #218 Wilin Rosario (AU)
Concluding the Topps portion of this series is another "hit', this time an on-card autograph of catcher Wilin Rosario. It will go nicely with a mini relic I already had of his. There are a whole bunch of Wilin Rosario cards in my collection, and now I have an autograph to go with it.

I was inundated with so much 2012 Bowman at various card shows that it's one of the few recent Bowman sets I can recognize and assign to the correct year. I think that may be because it looks like an upside-down version of the "notch" found at the top of the newer iPhone devices, especially in the prospect set. It doesn't pop as much with a black border, and is muted further still when it's a Chrome card. I'm just happy I can pick out at least one Bowman set from the past decade.

I have a couple more stacks ready to go. The next one will be Fleer, although with as busy as December gets, I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to write that one up for post #301.

By the way, congratulations to Nick on hitting his eight-year anniversary yesterday!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on 300 posts! I had no idea Hurst pitched for the Rockies!