Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Happy Birthday Mr Padre - 2023 edition

It has been a long few months since I last posted, way back in September 2022. But as it's Tony's birthday (and this blog's anniversary), I thought it would be nice to add a new post. 

My collecting has slowed down somewhat. I tend to collect in fits and starts - I get really into things and then my enthusiasm wavers. To be honest, the longevity of this blog project has surprised me. Circumstances have changed quite a lot since I started Point 394 a couple of months into the pandemic lockdown. I have changed jobs and am about to change jobs again. The world has reopened up and I have been going to a lot of soccer matches. Generally, things have just been busy.

I have acquired one "new" card so far in 2023. It's 30 years old this year so it's new to me but not newly printed!

Card Number 1045: Kraft Singles Superstars '93; #23

I'm not sure which one of these counts as the front! Pulling the little tab would make Tony pop out and stand up, but that would ruin the card. In other design notes, I  like the way the card includes a batting and a fielding pose. This also fits into a collection subset of 'green cards'.

This came in a set of the Kraft Singles cards within a much bigger box of 'junk wax' that someone was offering on the UK Facebook Group for postage only. There were several other cards of Tony in the box that have gone in with the other doubles.

I presume these cards were included in packets of cheese. From an historical point of view this was about the era when the companies producing oddball cards started airbrushing out team logos but still used the team names on 'unlicensed' cards.

Even though I have not been buying many cards lately, I have got a little stack to blog so hope to get back into the blogging groove soon. 

(I'd like to say thanks to Richard (YoRicha) who noticed I hadn't been blogging and got in touch to ask if everything was OK a few months back. Thanks Richard, it meant a lot to me.)

Total: 1,045 cards

Friday, September 16, 2022

Crown time part 2

The thing about kings and queens is that as soon as one dies or abdicates, the next person in line instantly becomes king or queen. There is always a monarch. That's a change that nobody had experienced in the UK for 70 years but now everyone is having to get used to it fast. 

After yesterday's tenuous link between the monarchy and baseball cards, here's another card that is roughly keeping in with the theme of crowns.

Card Number 1044: Fleer Ultra - Gold Medallion Edition, 1998; #216G

Rather than being an insert set, the ten cards of players given a "Season Crown" were included as a subset within the main set. This is the parallel 'gold medallion' version of the card. (Yet again, I seem to have the parallel and not the normal base card.)     

The design of this card would fit into my much smaller collection of 'cards with a giant baseball motif. I like it as a design choice. 

Tony won what would turn out to be his final batting title in 1997, with over 200 hits.

I'm awarding this card a bonus point for adding 'G' to the card number to show that it's a parallel. Fleer often showed kindness like this to collectors.

Total: 1044 cards

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Crown time

I'm starting yet another blog post apologising for an interruption in blogging. Everything here in the UK is dominated by the death of Queen Elizabeth II last week, and the installation of her first-born son as the new King. Plus I've been on holiday. 

However, with some new cards incoming, I feel I ought to blog some of the cards I have scanned and waiting! So here are some cards that roughly fit with the current big news story, as they have little crowns printed on them.

Card Number 1042: Pacific, 1994; #525

This was Pacific's second season producing cards and the first year they added the 'Crown Collection' logo to their cards. Later the company developed the Crown Collection idea into an actual set (one card included here). Unlike the 1993 set, this card didn't include Spanish field positions on the front of the card. 

It did, however, include Spanish on the back in the very limited text. This is one of the first regular base cards to include a photo on the back that was almost the same size as on the front. The information is minimal as a result. 

Card Number 1043: Pacific, 1996; #184

There are two crowns on the front of this card - one in the top right and one behind Tony's name. All are stamped in foil. Pacific really loved their foil in the mid 1990s, especially on their insert cards. (NB - the insert card I linked to had a crucial error in the Spanish text.)

There is also a crown on the back of the card, along with a fizzy-edged cameo portrait that looks like a flying saucer is hovering over Tony's right shoulder!

The bilingual write up on the back notes that Tony made just two errors in 135 games, which is as admirable a stat as his batting achievements. Although he didn't win a Gold Glove after 1991, his concentration in the outfield was as disciplined as his approach to batting. 

Total: 1043 cards

Friday, September 2, 2022

Breakfast baseball bonus

Topps has produced a few promotional issues for other companies over the years. This one is unusual because it celebrates the Topps company even though it was a giveaway in breakfast cereal. 

Card Number 1041: Post 50 Years of Topps, 2001; #17
I mean, it's a free card, you don't expect to see the player's face in the photo do you?

Topps's trademark rubbish photography aside, the other quirk is placing the Padres logo on Tony's foot as if he's balancing a soccer ball there. A small soccer ball, like the "mini Mitres" I remember from school. 

(OK, that might need an explanation. When I was in high school in the late 80s to early 90s, the soccer ball company called Mitre brought out smaller versions of their balls that were supposed to be used for training purposes. They were also, probably intentionally, the perfect size for carrying round in a schoolbag which meant my gang of friends could play soccer during the lunchtime break with something resembling a proper soccer ball. I didn't have a mini Mitre myself. The kids who did were the gods of the playground.)

The most interesting thing about this cardback is the ribbon around the baseball and Tony's facsimile signature... which I think I'm right in saying is what he used on his very first contract with Topps when he was a teenager. It also appears on his Bowman cards from 1998 and 1999

It feels like the era of free cards in random products is over. This is probably one of the last times baseball cards appeared in boxes of breakfast cereal. (You can see the advert promoting the giveaway on TCDb.) This card is therefore a real throwback and the last hurrah of the late 90s overproduction era.

Total: 1041 cards

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Nothing sketchy about this card

This was another card in the envelope that arrived from Casey in California recently. It's from another one of those random Skybox ranges as the Fleer company flirted with bankruptcy and was releasing all sorts of different sets trying to find one that would capture the imagination (and cash) of collectors. 

Card Number 1040: Skybox Dugout Axcess, 1998; #126
It's a"7th inning sketch", like the 7th inning stretch, geddit?

Unlike other card sets that featured artistic renditions of players, this card has had the art effect switched on in a very early version of PhotoShop, which was only 10 years old in 1998.

There is a great factoid on the back about Tony flying to watch his son, Tony Jr, in a basketball game. Like his dad, Tony Jr later swapped basketball for baseball and had his own major league career starting about ten years after this card was printed. (Here are some Tony Gwynn Jr baseball cards.)

Dugout Axcess was a 'one shot' for Skybox. Fleer was taken over the following year and the Skybox brand disappeared along with the sets. There were three cards of Tony in the set - I've blogged the other two here - and he also makes a cameo appearance on Ken Caminiti's card, which is one I will have to try and track down some day...

In the meantime, thank you Casey for filling this gap in my collection.

Total: 1040 cards

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Blue DonRuss

Have you ever bought a complete set just to get one card? A couple of months ago, I did.

The 1990 set by DonRuss is one of those incredibly common junk wax sets that I quite like. I think it's the red borders. I have a few cards from it (which I blogged about in the very early days of this blog) but I hadn't seen blue versions of the cards before (even though Fuji had mentioned them in a comment on that post from the early days of this blog!) Some junk wax is harder to find, especially here in Wales.

But then this sealed factory set of the 'Best of the National League' turned up in the UK collectors group on Facebook. Adrian, the seller, had three of them. I had a think about it and then decided to take one off his hands. Mainly because when the player you collect is listed on the back, you kind of have to, right?

Opening up the box, there was an inner tray with three blocks of shrink-wrapped cards.

The 'puzzles' that are mentioned on the outside of the box were underneath the blocks of cards. Does anyone care about puzzles?

Anyway, I had to open all three shrink-wrapped blocks to find Tony's card, but here it is!

Card Number 1039: DonRuss Best of the National League, 1990; #11

It's not the greatest photo of Tony at the plate, but it's a close up cropped shot rather than the photos that were used on the cards in the regular set released by DonRuss that year. The photo clearly shows the Mimsbandz anti-drugs wristguards that Tony wore.

The back is a bit dull, but the yellow means they look very different to cards from the regular release. 

I have taken this card out of the set and put it in my binders. I have no plans for the rest of the cards. I know a few people who collect other players from that era, so I might send a few cards out. In the unlikely event that any regular readers want one (or more) of these cards, please let me know!

Total: 1039 cards

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Tuesday Twins from Upper Deck sets

Card Number 1037: Upper Deck Victory, 1999; #339

This is one of those cards where I had the parallel a long time before I acquired the base version. In fact, when I blogged the parallel version I bemoaned the fact I didn't have the base card!

Personally, I feel that is almost a perfect baseball card. I like posed photos where you can actually see what a player looks like. The simple framing and unobtrusive logo give this a high class, timeless feel. 

The cardback is also elegantly laid out, with a bit about the Qualcomm Stadium (as Jack Murphy Stadium was known in 1999) and a bit about Tony. The truncated stats box is fine when there is so much other detail to include. 

The prediction that Tony would reach 3,000 hits in 1999 proved true. The idea that he might reach 3,500 hits turned out to be optimistic. However, it does show how well Tony was hitting in the tail end of the 90s that it was considered a possibility, however remote. 

Card Number 1038: Upper Deck SP 'Superbafoil', 1995; #105

As if SP cards weren't difficult enough to scan anyway, here is the shiny 'superbafoil' version. Unlike the dark blue foil triangle on the regular SP card, this card has a triangle that looks silvery in real life but scans in a fractal ice-blue colour.

A bonus of showing this parallel card is showing the fistbump photo on the back again.

Looking through the roster of the 1994 team, I think the player fistbumping Tony is Bip Roberts. That's a deduction I've based on the mystery fistbumper's complexion,  jawline and ear. Bip was a second baseman so would be reasonably close to Tony when he was in the outfield. If only he had a number on his wristband like Tony did!

I'd be interested to hear what readers think about this. Is it a Bip-Bump? Or could it be someone else? Make your suggestions in the comments!

Total: 1038 cards