Thursday, August 13, 2020

Back to Base - Upper Deck in the late nineties

Time for a Back to Base post, where I run through Tony Gwynn's base cards from a given manufacturer. I've covered the early years of Upper Deck before, so this post will pick up in 1994, with a base and a parallel. It's Upper Deck. Of course there would be parallels!

Card Number 261: Upper Deck, 1994; #219

Card Number 262: Upper Deck Electric Diamond, 1994; #219

Electric Diamond is a bit like the silver signatures in the Collector's Choice range - it's the same card with shiny (diamente?) writing on it.

Upper Deck went full bleed on their cards in 1994, ditching their trademark white borders. The photo is a wide angled fielding shot. That doesn't look like a throwing action so it might be a bare handed grab for the ball. 

The back is exactly the same (except that one of my cards has a few nicks out of the top edge.

Tony is running between bases here, based on the lack of any background scenery.The stats box has been shrunk to the most recent five years and pivoted upwards, perpendicular to the photo. That sort of alignment started to happen in the Nineties. Not all movement is progress. 

Card Number 263: Upper Deck, 1995 #135

I've almost used this card for a Tuesday Twins post in the past to talk about similarities in photography. That's Tony against a topiary background. It is very reminiscent of the photo used by Leaf in the same year.

Here's the Leaf card for reference.
It looks like Upper Deck and Leaf bought photos off the same photographer from the same game or series.

The cardback is a fairly standard cardback for a base card. Tony is marching off to first base.

It has the shortened stats box like the previous year, but at least it's the same way up as the picture.

Card Number 264: Upper Deck, 1996; #450

This looks like it could have been a Studio card.

Upper Deck decided to bring back a border at the bottom of the card. Brown foil scans quite well, compared to every other colour.

On the back we have another photo of Tony looking like he's about to club a catcher like a trapper clubs a baby seal. These photos always make me smile. 

I've spent a long time trying to work out the identity of the catcher, based on the blue uniform, the number 14 and guessing this would be a photo from 1995. There were a few catchers wearing 14 that season. In the National League Mark Parent wore it for the Pirates, but that's not a Pirates uniform, and Dave Nilsson played two games at catcher for the Brewers wearing 14. The most likely candidate, in terms of the colour scheme of the helmet and the blurry logo would be Jorge Fabregas who was the regular catcher for the California Angels in 1995 and 1996. 

However, the Padres never played the Angels until they were the Anaheim Angels in 1997 when inter-league play was introduced. Both teams play in the Cactus League in Spring Training though. Is this a photo from Spring Training?

So, in conclusion, I don't know for certain who that guy is and I hope Tony wasn't bashing his brains out.

Of note beside the mystery catcher, the stats box has eschewed the usual collection of recent seasons and includes Tony's stats from All Star Games and the World Series. He would improve on his World Series stats with his performances in 1998.

In 1997, Tony had Gone Fishin' on his Upper Deck base card.

Card Number 265: Upper Deck, 1998 #500

The All Star Game logo is from the previouos season's game in Cleveland. Tony was in ths starting line-up, had three at bats and didn't record a hit. The National League lost.
There's a full stats box on the back and even space for a factoid. 

Card Number 266: Upper Deck, 1999; #474
Upper Deck sort of went back to borders, with this foil frame on the card. This is probably the stand out base card design of the latter Upper Deck years.

The All Star Game logo is for the game in Denver in 1998. Tony was in the starting line up and had two at bats, with a hit and 2 RBI. That was a much better return for him than the previous year in Cleveland, but the National League slumped to defeat again in a high scoring game.

There's another Studio style portrait photo on the back. 
I've already blogged about Tony's Upper Deck base card from 2000, in one of my posts moaning about parallels. So, let's move on to the last base card Tony had in an Upper Deck set.

Card Number 267: Upper Deck, 2001; #229
The granular effect on the left hand side of the picture is a result of the scanning process. It;s not noticeable on the card itself.
The factoid on the back mentions a purple patch in June 2000 when Tony almost hit .500 during a nine-game hitting streak. Even though his career was winding down by that point, he was still a potent hitter.

That's the end of this Back to Base post. It's been a lot of Upper Deck cards. Thanks for sticking with me!

Total: 267/394

1 comment:

  1. I never really got into the flagship UD designs after 1993, but I did enjoy the autographs and memorabilia cards. The photo on the 1994 card is a head scratcher. Before you pointed out that he was catching the ball barehanded... I thought he was stretching to tag the other guy in the photo. But when you look closer, it's his teammmate.