Thursday, January 20, 2022

Feeling Invincible in 2022

I realise it has been several weeks since I last blogged some cards. I have had my evenings occupied with other things so have neglected this a little. However, here we are in 2022. I have added a few cards to the collection while the blog has been on hiatus, so the number of cards waiting to be blogged has increased. (And I feel the pressure!)

I hope to get back to blogging regularly before the month is out. Meanwhile, here are some "Invincible" cards because we want to feel positive about the new year and invincibility is just positivity set to maximum!

Card Number 901: Pacific Invincible, 1998; #139

I like these cards with their little acetate windows of clarity. This one is really shiny, so this is an overhead scan of the front. 

And a bilingual back! Because it's printed on acetate, the image of Tony is reversed out. 

Card Number 902: Pacific Invincible Reyes del Diamante, 2000; #25

A variant on the phrase 'Diamond King'. I'm surprised DonRuss let Pacific get away with that!

There were 30 Kings of the Diamond in this insert series, and a further 20 Diamond Aces who were all pitchers. Although they look like playing cards, they all have the same value so would be rubbish for actually playing card games. 

The back is done to look like a playing card. Apart from the tell-tale player name!

And that's the first post of 2022 done. I will be back blogging regularly soon!

Total: 902 cards

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Holograms before the holidays (and 900 cards!)

A new milestone and a couple of fun holograms to help us get there.

Card Number 899: Upper Deck SP Special FX, 1996; #40

Holograms are fun to scan. And by fun, I mean, they never look like they do in real life... anyway, here is the flatbed scan.

And here is the overhead scan that captures a bit more of the foil sheen of the card front. But captures less of the hologram. 

And here is the back. For some reason the way the card blurb starts "As usual..." made me chuckle. Like, it was just so boring talking about how Tony kept winning batting titles, man.

There are a couple of unusual stats in there - including the date of Tony's first career grand slam on 22nd August 1995. He scored that relatively late in his career and added two more to his career total before he retired. Data visualisation tends to earn cards bonus points and the two little baseball park diagrams there defnitely count on that score!

Card Number 900: Upper Deck SPx Gold, 1996; #49

Die-cut, gold parallel and a hologram? A worthy milestone card!

Again, we start with the flatbed. The hologram scanned an eerie blue colour.

The overhead scan worked much better - even picking up the colours in the hologram. The gold really stands out on this scan as well.

The back is quite nicely set out as well. Although I would ding it a point for hyphenating "batting". There's another injury to add to the 'cardback injuries' list as well - a "nagging foot injury".

The cardback mentions a game-winning homer on 5th June. It was against the Cardinals. The Padres won 6-4. They then lost the next 8 games straight. They only had 9 wins from 28 games the entire month of June that year. They still won the NL West that season, before losing in the first series of the post-season... to the Cardinals!

I feel like 900 cards is a really good place to pause the blog for just a short while. Christmas is coming up and I will be spending time with family, so I will bid you adieu until the New Year. Blogging will resume in January, all being well. Until then, I hope everyone stays safe and has a lovely festive season.

Total: 900 cards! 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Modern Monday - Fire (but no chestnuts roasting!)

There are a surprising number of references to fires in Christmas songs. And the background of this card makes it look a bit Christmassy to me, because it reminds me of a stained glass window. This card was an early Christmas present from Mark Benn - thanks Mark!

Card Number 898: Topps Fire, 2021; #162

Topps Fire doesn't seem to have fans like their other sets. Mark, who sent this to me, is the only person I know in the UK collectors group who opened any packs of Topps Fire.

I like this design. It's colourful. It looks a bit different to other sets put out this year. True, Topps are doing their usual thing of not showing the player's face clearly and, apart from the San Diego logo on Tony's helmet, this may as well be an unlicensed card considering the pose they have chosen. But it's still a nice card. And yet the set doesn't seem to be appealing to many collectors. 

I have no complaints about the cardback either - for a retired player, one factoid is all that's necessary. I am obviously interested in the 1994 season and postulates about what Tony might have achieved if the season had not been cut short. In He Left His Heart in San Diego, a mathematicican called Michael Schell calculated that if Tony had continued on the streak he was on when the season was prematurely halted, he would have broken .400, and might even have beaten Ted Williams's .406 batting average. This choice of stat on the cardback supports that theory.

Total: 898 cards

Sunday, December 19, 2021

One Card Only - shiny Summit!

Card Number 897: Pinnacle Summit (foil parallel), 1996; #134

The regular version of this card has already been a "One Card Only" card. This is the super-shiny foil parallel. Under the overhead scanner it pops!

On the flatbed it comes our rather dark, although Tony's features are a bit clearer.

This is now probably one of my favourite cards; definitely in my top ten. It is a beautiful protrait photo of Tony. And so, so shiny!

I discussed the back when I blogged the regular version. Pinnacle cards give mid-90s Leaf cards a good run for their money in terms of having the best cardbacks. 

So front and back, this is an absolutely solid card. Which is why it was worthy of having a blogpost all to itself!

Total: 897 cards.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

He's making a list, he's checking it twice

We are a week away from Christmas, and this song lyric has been in my head. So it seems an apt title for a blog post about Tony's appearances on checklists.

Some player collectors don't count checklists. That's their prerogative. I think they're missing out.

Card Number 894: Upper Deck, 1995; #Checklist 2 

This card takes me to 500 cards over my original target of 394 cards!

These shiny checklists were basically insert cards.

On the front there's a reference to Tony's famous batting average in 1994.

I enjoy reading the list of names on these checklists. Among all the really famous names are players who have been long-forgotten, like Chuck Carr and Pat Rapp. 

Card Number 895: DonRuss, 1994; #440

DonRuss used this checklist to commemorate Tony's reaching the 2000 hit milestone.

Some of the random forgotten players on here include Phil Leftwich and the frankly amazingly named Hipolito Pichardo!

Hipolito pitched 350 games in a ten year major league career for the Royals, Red Sox and Astros. He also had 103 baseball cards in his career, according to TCDB. Phil Leftwich had 39 cards, which is actually more than the number of games he pitched in the major leagues (34 games in 3 years for the Angels).

Card Number 896: DonRuss, 1993; #660

This is really a 'cameo card'. It's not about Tony per se - DonRuss put a photo of  different teams on their checklists. But Tony is in the photo walking behind Gary Sheffield. There seems to be a giant patting Gary on the head as well. That guy must be about 6 foot six.

The winners in the peculiar names category this time around are on the front - Chuck Crim and Scott Scudder both sound like low rent villains from a comic book. They're joined on the back by William Pennyfeather! But the name that really stood out on the back was Tony's brother, Chris Gwynn, who was #657 in the set.

I could count this in the number of Tony's cards where Chris gets a mention somewhere. Chris had 118 cards of his own, and may well have been mentioned on a similar number of Tony's cards. (That's another project when I run out of cards to blog!)

Total: 896 cards

Friday, December 17, 2021

Return to 80s week - a couple more from Fleer

Back on Wednesday I blogged five Fleer cards taken from the small 44-card sets that Fleer produced in 1988. The following year, Fleer issued some more sets.

Card Number 892: Fleer Heroes of Baseball, 1989; #20

The soft focus fade on the edge of the photo and the colourful border make this a striking card design.

Tony often had a card around number 19 in these sets. This time his card was #20. The back keeps the soft focus cut out in the centre. The stats box is in pink and white candystripe columns - one of Fleer's preferred colour schemes for these sets.

Considering they have bothered to include the three minor league teams Tony played for before his call up to the majors in 1982, it's a bit odd that they left Tony's stint in Las Vegas at the start of the 1983 season out of the stats. This is a good example about how card companies seem to forget about the games in Vegas. Maybe the idea that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas applies to baseball stats too.

Card Number 893: Fleer Superstars, 1989; #21

The greyish stripes on this card makes it visually similar to the flagship Fleer set from 1989.

There is a change of orientation on the cardback. And a truncated stats box just covering the preceding four seasons. And yellow!

These little sets all had their own quirks. It's fun seeing them all next to each other.

And that's the end of this week of cards from the 80s!

Total: 893 cards

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Return to 80s Week - Sportflics Big 6

After yesterday's splurge on Fleer cards, there's just one card in today's post. It features six players, although you can't see them all at the same time. 

Card Number 891: Sportflics, 1986; #181

Sportflics cards were lenticular. That makes them horrible to scan.

There are three players stacked lenticularly on the top and bottom halves of the card. If you tilt the card, each player comes into focus. Here's Tony!

Catch it wrong and you can make a mash up of various players. Tilt this card back and forward just a fraction and Tony's gains, then loses, then gains, a magnificent moustache.

On the back, we find a reason these six players are grouped on one card - they are the six players posting active career batting averages over .300. Of the six, Tony is posting the highest average by some margin.

I have often pointed out how Tony's batting average improved towards the end of his career. He retired on a career average of .338. One day I will look through all his career averages and see if at any point he wasn't the player with the highest active batting average. I suspect he would have been.

But in the meantime, I have plenty of cards to blog about before embarking on a research project like that!

Total: 891 cards