Monday, August 15, 2022

Modern Monday - pristine!

This card arrived in the mail from Mark B - thank you so much, Mark! I've been a bit slack on collecting the 2022 issues. This is the first card from this particular range produced by Topps, which has been revived this year for the first time since 2005. 

Card Number 1026: Topps Pristine, 2022; #69

I'm not going to comment on the card number. 

It's a shiny front, with a photo that looks quite familiar. However, I can't find it on another card in my Topps binder. The 'TP' logo is a bit twee. 

Topps are pulling a Panini-esque stunt on the back and re-using the photo. There is also a quote in the write up from Joe Girardi. I'd like to do a list sometime of all the quotes about Tony that have been included on cardbacks. 

There are two particular things about this cardback that annoy me. Firstly, it includes Tony's weight - at the maximum top end of the range. He was not 225lbs his whole career. Secondly, the card has a picture of Tony fielding, and the write up is about his batting prowess. No mention of the five gold gloves he won for fielding!

Would it be so hard to align the photo to the activity in the write up?

I'm probably just grouchy because we are at the tail end of a heatwave here in Wales (don't laugh!) but I don't want to appear an ingrate. So a massive 'Diolch yn fawr' to Mark for sending me this really great card and helping me fill another gap in my collection.

Total: 1026 cards

Sunday, July 31, 2022

One card only - game-worn Gold Label

I'm not sure how it has been two and a half months since I last blogged. Anyway, I'm hoping to restart this soon. I have about 50 cards sitting to be blogged, some of them for several months. But today's card only arrived at the start of July from my friend Gawain.

Card Number 1025: Topps Gold Label, 2002; #GMR-TG

This 'Major League Moments' insert card has been printed in a dark purple tone, rather than this just being a dark scan.

Unlike modern cards with their little cloth swatches of unknown origin, this card specifies the date it was worn - 30 September, 1999.

On the back it explains why that date is meaningful. Tony got 7 hits from 8 at bats over two games in a double-header at the end of the season.

This card was released in 2002 and Tony had retired at the end of the 2001 season. However, news seemed to take a while to get through to Topps HQ. Tony had a card in the Topps flagship set in 2002, and this card may well have been lined up before they knew he had retired. 

Also, you may have spotted this is a "class 2 platinum" card. Gold Label cards are divided into all kinds of classes and subdivisions. I think the platinum ones were meant to be rarer.

Total: 1025 cards

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