Sunday, May 15, 2022

One card only - a grandstand great

Card Number 1024: Fleer Platinum Grandstand Greats, 2001: #7GG

These insert cards had rounded corners as befitting an 'old timey' retro set. Fleer Platinum was marking Fleer's 20th year producing baseball cards - the base cards recalled the 1981 template. On this insert the picture of Tony has been laid over a vintage photo of a baseball stadium. I never visited Jack Murphy Stadium, but I know that isn't a picture of it. The same picture appears on all the cards in this insert set.

The cardback write up is remarkably restrained considering it's a Fleer card. 

Fleer Platinum was successful enough to continue in subsequent seasons. I can see its appeal. The cards are neatly understated, printed on retro card stock, with good photos and not too big a set list. Fleer managed to get the retro feel right, and make it timeless.

Total: 1024 cards

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Upper Decks bits and bobbleheads

Upper Deck's fun range, known as 'Collector's Choice' had a few gimmicky things like bobbleheads and various competition giveaways. Let's start with the second 'bobblehead' to feature on this blog and then go back in time to see some other bits and bobs...

Card Number 1021: Upper Deck Collector's Choice "push out", 1998; #23

I have some of the little bobblehead cards from 1999 (including one that has been pushed out), but I didn't realise that Upper Deck made these inserts in 1998 as well until Glenn sent me this a couple of weeks back. 

Upper Deck made sure Tony had his game face on for this bobblehead. It was only when I realised that Tony's disembodied head was in a batting helmet, that I realised the 1999 version is meant to show Tony fielding!

On the back are the intructions on how to assemble the bobblehead for display. 

These bobbleheads were in Series 2 of the Collector's Choice set and only appeared in 1 in 3 packs.

Upper Deck sometimes included odd things in their regular sets as well. In 1996, collectors had the chance of winning a shiny foil card.

Card number 1022: Upper Deck Predictors Redemption, 1996; #R57

There were 60 cards that could be exchanged for instant win cards found inside Upper Deck packs. 

For some reason I haven't got an overhead scan of this card in my folders, so this dirty desktop scan will have to do. Some of the marks on this card are dust and fluff on the scanner surface.

The back is relatively plain, but neatly laid out. The write up begins with Tony's incredibly low strike out rate. 88 times in 5 years!

This card arrived in a small box of cards from Gawain way back in November 2021. Six months later - thank you, Gawain!

Card Number 1023: Upper Deck Collector's Choice You Crash the Deck game piece, 1994; #unnumbered

You Crash the Deck (later Game) was a scratch off and win redemption thing that ran in Collector's Choice (with some adpatations) for several years.

There were 15 different varieties of this "game piece" each featuring two players. Tony shared the spotlight on this with Andres Galarraga from the Rockies.

This card sized 'game piece' folds out to reveal a large number of scratch off areas. The most important one is the one saying whether it's a winning card. That is the only bit that has been scratched off. 

And on the back are the huge list of terms and conditions in a tiny font.

Why were Canadians set a relatively simple maths question? I presume there is some rule about giveaway competitions that meant there has to be a quiz question. Otherwise that's just weird!

Total: 1023 cards

Friday, May 13, 2022

Sportflics gets an X

Sportflics got updated in the mid-90s to Sportflix. The cards continued using the same lenticular finish though, making them difficult to capture properly for blogging purposes. I've had a go...

Card Number 1016: Sportflics 2000, 1994; #25

(They added '2000' to the set name because back in 1994, "2000" was really futuristic. The Millennium was coming!)

The way Tony's name moves when this card is tilted is quite nifty.

I hope that silhouette on the back is actually Tony's silhouette, but I suspect it isn't. The photo looks familiar, but I've gone through my Pinnacle Brands binder and I can't see this particular photo used on any other cards. Pinnacle used a lot of photos that look like this in their various sets - they often used head and shoulders candid non-game shots on their cardbacks. So it's more the type of photo that's triggering my deja vu rather than the actual photo. 

It's a mid-90s colour scheme as well. Double gradated colour like that was novel at the time. It looks well dated now. 

Card Number 1017: Sportflix, 1995: #HT10

This card was in the Hammer Team insert set for successful batters. (The base card is blogged here!) Tony is dodging a rain of sledgehammers on the front.

It is all a bit reminiscent of those brothers with hammers in a certain cartridge-based video game manufactured by a Japanese company starring an Italian plumber.

A hammer is falling towards Tony on the back as well!

Even though he 'topped the majors' (what a quaint phrase), Tony only had the tenth card in this insert series. He should have been #1, surely. 

1995 was the peak year for Sportflix as, in addition to the lenticular set, there was also a 3D set called UC3. (Yesterday I was blogging about UD3. Today it's UC3! Tomorrow it's... no, I don't have a set called UB3.)

Card Number 1018: Sportflix UC3, 1995; #133

This is the second 'base' card in the set with Tony on. I blogged the other one previously here. 

3D cards don't scan well, but they're better than lenticular cards. On the back we go "In-Depth" which is hyphenated for some strange reason. That's a very short summary considering. It doesn't feel like it is in any depth. 

And do you see my point about head and shoulders candid non-game photos on the cardback? Because here's another one. 

Tony had a third UC3 card. It's another quirky insert.

Card Number 1019: Sportflix UC£, 1995; #CS13

Tony is a member of the Cyclone Squad! It sounds pretty cool even if it doesn't really mean anything.

The effect on the back is meant to be cyclone-related but it just reminds me of the Rebel Alliance tactics room at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope, as Princess Leia waits to hear if Luke Skywalker has blown up the Death Star.

Does anyone else see that, or is it just me?

Card Number 1020: Sportflics, 1996; #9

And back to the lenticular cards. As this card is tilted it flicks (or flix) between Tony's name...

... and his batting average

The back is probably the best-designed Sportflix cardback, listing the previous season's stats and Tony's career stats. Tony has an odd expression in the photo, though, even if it is the tried and tested candid non-game style photo!

That's it for my collection of Sportflix cards. 1996 was the final year they were produced, and I think overall I have now blogged the complete run. 

I hope so, because I really don't like scanning lenticular cards!

Total: 1020 cards

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Among the rookies with Upper Deck

Today's post features three cards released by Upper Deck in 1998.

Card Number 1013: Upper Deck, 1998; #619

The Upper Deck set in '98 was released in three tranches - Series 1, Series 2, and the third series was known as the 'rookie series'. Although it had some players who were well past being rookies. Some of those players got put in a subset called 'Eminent Prestige' (which was apparently "unintentionally shortprinted"!). 

It's very shiny so I used the overhead scanner on the front. The way the subset name goes across Tony's legs make it look like he's kneeling down instead of just starting his run towards first base. 

The back has a truncated stats box, that includes the previous ten years and doesn't give full career totals. That's a tad unusual. The photo on the back looks like a posed photo - considering this was a subset about eminent players, it might have been a better choice to include it on the front. 

The ragged-edged blue background and swirling circles firmly root this card in the late 90s.

The Rookie series started numbering at 540, so I think Upper Deck made a deliberate choice to have Tony Gwynn at number 619 in the series. They get a bonus point for their attention to detail!

Card Number 1014: Upper Deck, 1998; #AS19

This card was also from the rookie (third) series of the Upper Deck flagship set - this time an insert card. It's another shiny card, so it got the overhead scan. I'm not overjoyed by these scans but at least you can see all the details of the card including the jade green colour of the foil. (The flatbed captures none of it.)

The design is reminiscent of a fancy security pass giving Tony access to the field for the All Star Game. Tony was a perennial selection for All-Star teams throughout the 90s, and he featured in his last All-Star Game after the season this set was released - although he was unable to play. Instead he helped his hero Ted Williams throw the ceremonial first pitch. 

With some characteristic attention to detail. Upper Deck gave Tony card number 19 in the 30-strong insert series. That's nineteen bonus points for this card!

Card Number 1015: Upper Deck UD3, 1998; #180

This card range has one of the most horrible numbering systems ever. Basically the same cards appear three times with different finishes and all have different numbers. I'm not sure what the design is meant to be on the front. It looks like a steampunk TV. (Was steampunk a thing in 1998?) There were numbered die-cuts produced as inserts in the set, so the card has been desinged with the die-cutting process in mind.

On the back is the numbering. This card set could be compiled in three different ways. I am going off the set number because that's the one that makes sent. None of the numbers have a 19 in them. (Boo!)

This was the second year that Upper Deck produced UD3. It shouldn't surprise anyone to hear it was also the last year that Upper Deck produced UD3. Sometimes card companies just get a bit too clever for their own good. 

Total: 1015 cards

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Staying in the Club

Fuji commented on yesterday's post saying how much he likes Stadium Club cards. So this post is for Fuji!

Card Number 1012: Topps Stadium Club Members Only, 1994; #43

Tony featured in this 50-card set that was only sold to members of Topps' Stadium Club. According to Baseballcardpedia, in 1994 Topps issued 50-card sets of baseball, football, or ice hockey players, and members could choose one set as part of their membership. They were also given the option to buy the other sets. The 'Members Only' card design is different to the main Stadium Club release in 1994.

I suspect the guy who wrote this cardback was later headhunted by Fleer/Skybox, because the Picasso references are reminiscent of the fanciful cardbacks found in their ranges. It looks like Tony is signing a baseball card in the photo - I hope that card is treasured somewhere. 

The cardback doesn't add in this context, but Tony's "2nd-best mark ever" in 1993, wasn't enough to win him the batting title that year. His second run of four titles in a row began the year this card was released!

And now for something a little bit different - not a new card, but one that looks new.

Last year I acquired a number of cards close together, so I'm not sure where this came from, but it was in a job lot of cards. When I saw it, I thought, 'ooh, that's a variant'. but weirdly, it's not. The card in question was this one:

This is a card from a subset in the 1995 Stadium Club set, where various players were recruited into the "Extreme Corps". I thought this might be some kind of foil variant, except the only variation I can find listed is a silver versus a rainbow foil variant. These cards are both rainbow-ish, albeit covering different parts of the spectrum - the blue end and the red end. 

So, although this isn't a new card, I've put both of them in my binder. They look different enough due to the foil colouration and look nice next to each other. Of course, I've also now learned that there is one with just silver foil on, so I am going to have to keep an eye out for that too. And any other colours of the rainbow!

Total: 1012 cards

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Tuesday Quins - Stadium Club Chrome

I've already got three versions of the same card from the Stadium Club set released by Topps last year. (They are the normal card, the red parallel and the black parallel.) This post features two more cards from the Chrome version of the Stadium Club set. That brings me up to five cards in total - hence why this is a Tuesday Quins post not a Tuesday Twins post!

Card Number 1010: Topps Stadium Club Chrome, 2021; #24

In real life this is a bit shinier than the regular version of the card. And it has the Stadium Club Chrome logo on the front. Otherwise there is not much to add to what I've said previously. 

And here's the back...

Card Number 1011: Topps Stadium Club Chrome (refractor), 2021; #24

This card went all shimmering crazy on the scanner. In real life it doesn't look hugely different to the first Chrome card I've posted. 

It says 'refractor' on the back as a handy help for collectors.

My thanks go out to Graham for the base card and to Sam for the refractor. 

Total: 1011 cards

Monday, May 9, 2022

Happy birthday Mr Padre (redux)

Two years ago I started this blog on what would have been Tony Gwynn's 60th birthday. My plan then was to collect and blog about 394 different Tony Gwynn baseball cards. Now, two years and over 500 blog posts later, there are over 1,000 different Tony Gwynn cards chronicled on this blog. 

The first card I posted was from the Topps set in 1987. I chose that card because the first baseball cards I ever bought, while on a childhood holiday to America in 1987, were from that set. The card has a terrible photo of Tony on it where he has no visible distinguishing features.

Two years later, and I have a chance to revisit those cards from 1987 with the most recent card to arrive in my collection. Marc sent me the card (thanks, Marc!) and it arrived towards the end of April. The card is from the most recent Topps flagship set where the company are marking the 35th anniversary of the release of the set in 1987. That makes me feel a bit old, thinking that me buying those cards in Florida was 35 years ago!

Card Number 1009: Topps 1987 Throwback, 2022; #T87-57

Unlike the card from the 1987 set, at least Tony's face is visible in this photo. It would have looked better with the 1987 style logo. The photo is also from the 90s rather than from 1987. It's all setting off the anachronism klaxon!

Topps really bodged the back as well. It looks like the back of a card from 1987, but the designer only included a selection of years on the back. Given that Tony was active in 1987, they only needed to include the years from 1982 to 1986. They would have had space for a factoid then!

Even though the card has limitations, it felt like a nice way of marking the anniversary of my blog, and, of course, celebrating what would have been Tony's 62nd birthday!

Total: 1009 cards