Sunday, January 21, 2024

The Trading Post #174: Dime Boxes (Part 3: Shiny)

One year later, I'll finally be wrapping up the longest post series ever. I've had this last little pile of goodies set aside from Nick's 10th anniversary over at Dime Boxes, which has now moved houses with me in the same little team bag.

But wait, you might say. Didn't Nick just celebrate his 12th blog anniversary with another giveaway? Yes, yes he did. And I have a whole new stack of cards on my desk related to that, which I hope to get to before his 13th. 

No promises.

But even with all the changes over the past year, weekends in mid-January still mean NFL playoffs, which make for some of my favorite background content while writing these posts. 

What completely escaped my attention several days ago is that somehow I just passed my own tenth blog anniversary! As of the 15th, apparently I've kept this little thing going for a full decade. And looking back on my first-ever post, it was pretty much just an explanation about how Nick got me started on this whole thing in the first place.

We have truly come full-circle.

2002 Topps Chrome Traded #T68 Sandy Alomar Jr.

What hasn't changed in the past decade is my love for shiny cards. Part 3 of this blog series that has sprawled across the biggest period of change in my life will focus on the shiny, or at least the serially-numbered.

If any of my readers play the daily baseball-themed puzzle game Immaculate Grid, take note of the above card for the next time Cleveland and Colorado intersect. Sandy Alomar, Jr., the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year (also a useful bit of info) briefly stopped by 20th & Blake for 38 games in 2002, as documented on this Topps Traded card. A true "Short-Term Stop", to borrow Nick's phrase.

Alomar was well into a lengthy career by 2002, so the short paragraph on the card back only has room to simply tell us that the White Sox traded the veteran catcher to the Rockies for Enemencio Pacheco, a pitching prospect who never progressed past Triple-A.

Speaking of the White Sox, the team where Alomar spent the second-longest portion of his career, I recently learned of a documentary available on YouTube called Last Comiskey. I've only watched one of three parts so far, but it offers a look at the 1990 White Sox season, their last in the original Comiskey Park.

2017 Finest Breakthroughs #FB-NA Nolan Arenado

Turning to 2017, when Nolan Arenado still covered the hot corner for the Rockies, we come to the Topps Finest insert set "Breakthroughs".

As best I can tell, this set was unique to 2017, but it absolutely has the look and feel of a mid-90s insert set, something like Power Zone from Stadium Club. It has all the elements. Huge block lettering in all capitals, an eye catching star pattern suitable for a comic book panel, a team logo that is bursting through an area of fractured rock or broken glass, and a close-up action shot. The player's name and the Topps Finest logo are squeezed into the corners like a mere afterthought.

How can you not love something like this?

The theme does actually have a point, in that the card back gives us the player's "Breakthrough Moment". One of Nolan's mentioned was his second-ever Major League home run, a grand slam off of Cy Young winner David Price in early 2013.

2017 Topps Chrome #92 Trevor Story

I'm not sure where Nick found all this 2017 Topps Chrome, but he sent me a base card that could possibly have come from the same pack as that great Arenado insert card. 

Six years ago to the day, the Refractor version of this Trevor Story card appeared on the blog in The Trading Post #112, and then the Prism Refractor version about a year later, both courtesy of Julie at A Cracked Bat, whose blog has sadly gone silent.

Surely I am nearing having the rainbow by now, right?

2021 Topps Update Gold #US195 C.J. Cron /2021

To my eye, this C.J. Cron parallel from 2021 looks more bronze than gold, but there's a /2021 serial number to prove that this is indeed the gold parallel, serially numbered with a print run equal to the card's calendar year.

Cron, currently a free agent, finally found a spot to settle down for a few seasons after changing hands like a hot potato. The card back calls it "five homes in five years", bouncing between the Angels, Rays, Twins, and briefly the Tigers, before finally reaching the National League and spending a few seasons in Colorado. The Rockies traded him back to the Angels in late 2023 along with Randal Grichuk in return for a couple pitching prospects.

Guys like that are useful to keep in mind for Immaculate Grid. I can't tell you how many times I should have guessed Nelson Cruz.

2003 Topps Traded Gold #T265 Clint Barmes FY (RC) /2003

Going back to 2003, we find that Topps Gold had a slightly lower print run. Topps oddly decided to document their 52nd Anniversary on the card front, as well as adding a 1st-year Card stamp that I believe is unique to 2003. The Chrome variety of this card has the same stamp in a non-foil version, and I've also seen it on a Hanley Ramirez card.

Thanks to Google Image Search for finding those. This is my 379th post. No one's memory is that good, not even mine.

Prophetically, in The Trading Post #134, I pointed out exactly where on the card back I would expect to find a serial number if I had a rarer version of this Clint Barmes card. Little did I know that one would eventually find its way to me.

2018 Topps Fire Hot Starts Gold #HS-19 Charlie Blackmon

This is not the first gold parallel from 2018 Topps Fire that has been added to my collection. In fact, it's not even the first such card of Charlie Blackmon. For a brand I can't recall ever purchasing at retail, I have a surprising number of Topps Fire cards filling my binders.

This one of Blackmon and his iconic beard is from the Hot Starts insert set, which highlights strong early-season performances. Topps got pretty specific on the card back, pointing out that Blackmon's first seven home runs of 2017 came in a mere 77 plate appearances, good for a "blistering" [note the fire pun] 9.1% Home Run Percentage.

Interestingly, for all you "Coors!" folks, those first seven home runs all came on the road, tying the team mark set by Ian Stewart in 2010. Even Trevor Story's white-hot 2016 debut included some shots at Coors Field. Refer to my prior post in this series for my fond memories of catching at least one of those at Buffalo Wild Wings.

It seems quite rare for the Rockies to play at home on Opening Day. Their home opener is usually a few days into the season, and that trend will continue for 2024, scheduled for April 5th, on what would have been my dad's 77th birthday.

The Rockies are indeed known for hot starts. More often than not, April and May is the best time to be a Rockies fan. No wonder I like spring so much. But by the time we reach the All-Star break, the team is usually out of the running.

By the way, we know Blackmon will be a Rockie for at least one more year, but to my knowledge he has not yet announced any plans for retirement.

2016 Donruss Optic Pink #48 Jonathan Gray RR

Jon Gray, who went by Jonathan on this 2016 Panini card, finally got a taste of the World Series and even won his ring with the Texas Rangers last year. If it's not going to be here, at least it's nice to see former Rockies find success somewhere.

In the 2023 Fall Classic, Gray threw 4.2 innings, struck out seven, and even got the win in Game 3 after taking over for Max Scherzer who had to depart with back spasms. That's the perfect way to get around the difficulty Jon Gray often had in the first inning.

This shiny Donruss Optic card is the Pink parallel, unique enough to warrant a second look on this blog, but not rare enough to earn a serial number.

2021 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs #CPA-DM Daniel Montano (AU)

Nick was apologetic about this card's condition. He knew I'd enjoy an on-card Rockies autograph, no matter how obscure the player, and I'm glad he threw it in. The blue ink is a little smudged, and though I was able to clean it up somewhat well, I assume it once had something spilled on it. I probably could have done a better job cleaning it, but didn't want to further damage the autograph.

We'll see how Daniel Montano progresses, but he hasn't really spent much time above the High-A level yet and has dropped off the team's top-30 prospects list. It isn't looking too promising. Still, I'll never turn down a shiny autograph.

2020 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs #RA-DN Dom Núñez (AU)

The final card of this series is another on-card autograph which seems to have made it through the past few years in much better shape. Dom Núñez even cracked the code and made it to the Majors, though unfortunately he put up a -1.0 bWAR over three seasons, and despite showing a bit of pop for a catcher by hitting twelve home runs, he never exceeded a .200 batting average. Even in this day and age where a guy like Luis Arráez can hit .354 and be an extreme outlier, .180 for your career is not going to cut it.

In any case, I do remember seeing Núñez play, and I can at least make out his initials in his signature. I also enjoy the 2020 design. It's one of those designs I got quite familiar with, given how much time I spent on Topps Bunt when nothing was happening in the early years of the pandemic.

It's unlikely I'll ever match my high-water mark from 2015 of 72 posts in a year, but I certainly hope to beat 2023's total of just 6. I'm a third of the way there already, and looking forward to my second decade of baseball card blogging.

Congratulations to Nick on on ten, eleven, and twelve years!


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one behind in trade posts. I can't even remember the last time I was completely caught up.

    A friend of my dad's who owns a record store said someone mysteriously dropped a box of baseball cards on his doorstep one day, which was then given to me. A few of them had all sorts of weird water damage on them - as was the case with that Bowman auto I sent. Happy to hear it's still earned a place in your collection!

  2. I think it was in the period where I had stopped watching baseball for a long while but had no idea that Sandy Alomar played for the White Sox, and the 2nd most games anywhere in his career at that! Looked it up, and sure enough Multiple stints with the White Sox. Even player with his brother for two of those years. I collect Robbie and didn't know that thanks for the lesson!