Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Hometown Hero

Panini products generally get very little love from the collecting community, mainly because they don't have an official MLB license, so can't put team logos on their cards. However, as they have consistently shown with their 'zombie' DonRuss and Diamond Kings ranges, Panini can produce some nice cards. 

Hometown Heroes was a set released in 2013. It is a deliberately retro-feel set printed on thick card stock with an unfinished back.

Card Number 625: Panini Hometown Heroes, 2013; #73

The pennant and starry background make this card look very retro. If I had one criticism it would be that I don't see much point having a set logo including the year of the set if the photo then obscures part of it! Maybe the designer wanted to make sure all the bat was on the card.

The back is bright and colourful. I'd query the wording. Tony might have played all 2,440 games for San Diego, but he didn't play them all in San Diego.

In addition to the 300 base cards in the set, there were some insert series as well.

Card Number 626: Panini Hometown Heroes City Hall insert, 2013; #12

I like this a lot. True, Tony seems to have a bit of a snarl on his face, but overall the impact of this is striking. I'd easily have this on the wall as a poster. Bonus point for having the year in the set logo and having it visible.

The back is equally visually bold. The write up basically says the same thing as on the base card but worded slightly differently. 

Given that Panini put the year in the set name, I surmise they were hoping the set would take off and become an annual release. As it happens, this was a 'one and done' set and never reappeared again. The 'Hometown Heroes' brand has featured in some other Panini releases (National Trasures in 2017 and 2018, and in Chronicles in 2019), but not as a set.

I think that is a bit of a shame, although I can understand why this set failed to make an impact when it came out. Panini were still feeling their way into the baseball card market. They had launched Panini Prizm the previous year, which appealed to the magpies who like shiny parallels. They also tried a Pinnacle relaunch in 2013 that was another one and done. They swapped out the Pinnacle brand for DonRuss in 2014, which managed to stick the landing and is now a key range for them. 

As a retro brand, Hometown Heroes was going up against the licensed cards Topps were releasing in their Archives and Heritage ranges and their Allen & Ginter and Gypsy Queen sets, and the unlicensed retro cards in Upper Deck's Goodwin's Champions, so there was a lot of competition for a set like this. However, given the crisp design-work, I wish Panini had persevered with Hometown Heroes because these are two really nice cards that still look good eight years later.

Total: 626 cards

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Tuesday Twins - unexpected reprints

I received a parcel yesterday containing a job lot of Tony Gwynn cards I bought off eBay a few weeks back. When I bought it I knew it was a mix of new cards for the collection and several I already had, including quite a few base cards. Except, when the cards arrived and I could see the backs I realised that some of those base cards were inserts from later Topps sets. 

Card Number 623: Topps Cards Your Mom Threw Out insert, 2010; #CMT-43

Tony had 3 cards in this insert series.

The front is a straight-up reprint of Tony's card from 1994. The cardback explains why they chose this card.

I like this card as it refers to Tony's batting achievement in 1994. It's also nice to see a reprint that isn't of Tony's rookie card!

Card Number 624: Topps 60 Years of Topps insert, 2011; #60YOT-33

This is another reprint of an iconic card design. 

Basically this insert series reprinted a card from each year and this is the one they chose from the 1984 flagship set. The cardback explains about the Topps design for the year and mentions Tony's first batting title right at the end of the write up.

Again, I like this card because it's a reprint of a card that I feel I haven't seen a zillion times over. Admittedly it's a little bit self-indulgent to produce inserts celebrating yourself, but I'll let Topps off for that because this is a lovely card to have.

I know that after yesterday's post where I wrote about Topps's over-reliance on nostalgia, I'm being much more enthusiastic about these reprints than might be expected.  But there's nothing quite as exciting as realising that cards I'd mentally written off as a dupes turn out to be ones I can add to my collection!

Total: 624 cards

Monday, March 29, 2021

Modern Monday - living in the past

This is the fourth card I've added to the collection that was released in 2021. I actually put a call out for this in the UK collectors Facebook group and a few days later Jamie posted it asking "Was someone looking for this?" I did the Facebook equivalent of jumping up and down saying "ME! ME! ME!", and Jamie sent it to me.

Card Number 622: Topps 35th Anniversary insert, 2021; #86B-77

There are 100 cards in the 35th Anniversary insert series in Topps Series 1 that use the 1986 template. The front has a different photo to the special Chrome version that can be found in 'silver packs' in hobby boxes of Series 1.

I'm not familiar with that photo of Tony in the 1983-4 uniform. I welcome Topps using a new or different photo on their cards. However, there is a slight anachronism in using such a recognisable uniform from before 1986 in a 1986 retro template. The Padres changed their look significantly in 1985, adopting pinstripes and ditching the yellow and orange detailing.

On the back the card has the same problem as the chrome version - it has a massive stats box, which isn't complete and, annoyingly, doesn't include stats from 1986.

I've seen several discussions about the state of the baseball card hobby lately. One thing I've said a few times previously is that I don't feel the monopoly that Topps enjoys in terms of being the only licensed card producer, is particularly beneficial. Topps seems to be looking to the past a lot. They have two nostalgic sets - Archives and Heritage - and they keep putting retro cards into their main flagship series. In fact, the four cards released in 2021 I have acquired so far are all nostalgia cards. That includes a re-use of the 1974 template, two re-uses of the 1986 template, and a double reprint of cards from 1983 and 2002.

There is a danger when any company begins to rely on past glories that they will slowly stagnate. I wonder if Topps had a competitor they would be pushed to try new things, instead of relying on their licensing to make their cards more desirable than those on offer from Panini. My feeling is that the monopoly is detrimental to the card hobby, and also detrimental to Topps. However I can't see them giving up their prime status voluntarily.

In the meantime, I'm grateful there are people like Jamie breaking new product and remembering that someone had been asking about it!

Total: 622 cards

Sunday, March 28, 2021

One card only - fielding focus

Wilhelm put a bonus card in with the Topps Chrome card I blogged about yesterday. He also included a note saying he thought I might have it already. But I didn't! So, that became an unexpected addition to the collection.

Card Number 621: Upper Deck Gold Gloves, 2001; #77

Upper Deck went through a phase of producing these small sets, mainly as filler cards around various relic cards. There were 135 base cards in this set to pad out the search for relics. 

It's not the most flattering photo of Tony on the front. The design looks like the spine of a book on the right hand side of the card front.

However, I'm awarding a bonus point for photo congruence because it's a picture of Tony fielding in a set about gold gloves! Also, they include the years Tony won a Gold Glove on the little gold foil glove embellishment.

There's a teeny bit of shade thrown there when the cardback says that "During his prime..." with the implication that Tony was past his prime now. 

This card gets another bonus point for including Tony's fielding stats. I'm not as au fait with fielding stats, but I was surprised to see that he played 10 fewer games as a fielder than as a batter. Baseball Reference have him down as a Designated Hitter for some games in the 2000 season, so he must have been DH in 10 games. 

Thanks again to Wilhelm for this unexpected addition to my collection.

Total: 621 cards

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Chromatised Numbers Game

Topps seems to have got into the habit of re-releasing every single range as a "Chrome" version. I already had the 'Numbers Game' insert from Topps Update 2020 and through the UK collectors group on Facebook, I have now got the Chrome version as well. A big thank you to Wilhelm for sending me this.

Card Number 620: Topps Chrome Update Numbers Game insert, 2020; #NGC-15

The blue shine on this is due to how it scanned. The bottom right corner was orange on the non-Chrome release. 

The back is the same as the non-Chrome release except that the title and the square with the number in are both yellow on this release.

Back in December, when I reviewed the regular version of this card, I said it feels like a missed opportunity that Topps didn't align the card numbering with the retired numbers they were celebrating. 

Also, as Fuji pointed out in the comments last time, for a card celebrating a player's number, why don't they show the number on his uniform? This is one of those rare occasions where Topps used a photo that showed Tony's face. Topps have used so many photos of Tony's back in the past, and then on this card where that would make sense, they choose not to.

Still, it's a nice shiny card. Wilhelm also included a bonus card in the envelope, which I will blog tomorrow!

Total: 620 cards

Friday, March 19, 2021

Future collecting focus

A few posts back I mentioned how I was thinking about my collection of Tony Gwynn cards and what the next step for me would be.

When I started this blog I had 195 cards and my aim was to reach 394. It's fair to say I smashed that. I  added 374 cards to the collection from my blog launch date to the end of 2020.

What started out as one binder of cards has expanded into five binders, which are varying degrees of full.

There are getting on for 12,000 Tony Gwynn cards listed on Trading Card Database. It would be possible to aim for adding 394 new cards to my collection every year. Possible, but not very sensible. I have other things happening in my life and I spend a lot of time looking for cards as it is. (Although, if I did decide to do this, I have already reached 50 cards in 2021.)

Recently I have wondered whether to try and collect 394 cards per decade. Currently my collection stands at 619 cards split by decade as follows:
1980s - 72 (first card = 1983)
1990s - 329
2000s - 125
2010s - 55
2020s - 38 (after only 2 years of the decade)

The 90s would almost be complete if I chose to do that. However there are a couple of years at the start of the 80s that will always be empty. Tony's first card was a TCMA minor league card released in 1982. It's on my wishlist, but there are still only eight years in the 80s when Tony had cards released.  

If we were going by career decade rather than calendar decade, then we would be looking at different breakdowns of years and cards, as follows:

1982-1991 - 104
1992- 2001 - 382
2002 - 2011 - 46
2012 - 2021 - 87

There's a 'career decade' there that covers the most prolific era in card collecting - the ten years after the UD Boundary is the equivalent of the Cambrian Explosion in card terms with the rapid expansion of companies, sets and rapid evolution in baseball card techniques. So, it's not surprising that well over half of the cards in my collection are from that 'decade'. 

Meanwhile the most sparse decade, 2002-11, would lose two years with a lot of cards, and gain two very poorly represented years in return. The post-2012 decade would be boosted by adding 2020, with its 35 cards. 2022 would be the start of a new decade and I could say that I'm only going to collect cards issued in the first forty years after Tony's first card. But I can't even kid myself that I have the willpower to not buy any of the cards that will inevitably be released next year.

I'm hesitant to go down the route of career decades otherwise I am going to be stuck hunting for cards from after Tony retired. Although, that would be a problem with calendar decades as well.

Maybe, and here's a strange thought, I don't need a numerical target at all. 

If anyone has any bright ideas, then please leave a comment!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Tony's first crowning

Tony has made several appearances as a DonRuss Diamond King. This was his first.

Card Number 619: DonRuss, 1985; #25

The Diamond Kings cards were the first 26 cards in the DonRuss set. There was one player depicted for each team (this was before the two expansions in 1993 and 1998). 

The artist was Dick Perez, who ended up painting four Diamond Kings portraits of Tony between 1985 and 1996. Here's another link to his gallery.

There is a fairly big write up on the back. I enjoyed the way DonRuss equated being selected for a Diamond King card with being voted onto the All Star team!

There is a reference to Tony's time at Las Vegas, where he started the 1983 season after his Major League debut in 1982, and subsequent wrist injury. He only played 17 games for Las Vegas, recording a .342 batting average from 73 at bats. After being called up he then had over 300 at bats for the Padres that season.

Reading these early cards is quite informative. A lot of this detail quickly got lost as Tony racked up batting titles, All Star appearances, and so on. It's a reminder that after his hot debut, Tony still had work to do to establish himself as a Major League player. 

This is the final card Tim sent me that was new to the collection. However, Tim also included a 1984 Fleer card that was an upgrade on the one I already had in my binder - so thanks for that Tim!

Total: 619 cards

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Back to Base - DonRuss 1984

Today's lovely card was another one in the envelope from Tim.

Card Number 618: DonRuss, 1984; #324

Tony's DonRuss cards from the early 80s are strong contenders for best cards in the collection. There is so much to love about this, from the excellent portrait photo, through to the complementary design colours. The R in Padres is lost against the yellow uniform neckline - that's how well they go together!

Up until 1994 DonRuss included the year on the front of the card as well, which is really handy.

Their cardbacks were functional, but the Career Highlights were always relevant and offered more insight than Topps's factoids.

There's an intriguing item on that list - that Tony missed the beginning of his first full season because he had broken his wrist playing winter baseball. He was unlucky with wrist injuries. In August 1982 he broke his left wrist catching a fly ball and missed the end of the season - that's also mentioned in these career 'highlights'. Then a few months later he broke his right wrist playing in Puerto Rico. (Source on where he played winter baseball.) Sadly, Baseball Reference is blank for the Puerto Rican Winter League throughout the 80s so I can't see his stats.

On the plus side, it seems Tony recovered from those breaks quite quickly. However, if breaking his wrists is a career highlight in the eyes of DonRuss, it makes me wonder what the lowlights would be.

In terms of my collection, this means I now have Tony's DonRuss base cards from his rookie year 1983, through to 1995. All thanks to Tim!

Total: 618 cards

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Lots of pics of Sportflics

In a previous post, I outlined the history of Sportflics, which became the Score and Pinnacle conglomerate. About 10 years after the first lenticular Sportflics cards were released, the brand was updated for the 90s as Sportflix, with an X. 

In the PWE from Tim, there were two of the original Sportflics cards from 1986. These do not scan very well, so I have tried to take some photos of them to capture the full Sportflics experience.

I'm also going to be a bit weird and show the cardbacks first.

Card Number 616: Sportflics, 1986; #13

At first I thought this was card #19 in the set, which would have earned it 10 bonus points. But it isn't They've just put '19' in a baseball to look like the card number. Bad Sportflics! No bonus points for you! Harrumph!

Here's the scan of the front.

There are three pictures revealed by moving the card. (Or holding the card still and moving your head!)

Tony at bat...

...Tony swinging...

...and a portrait photo.

Tony appeared on another card in the set.

Card Number 617: Sportflics, 1986; #140

The "Tri-Stars" had pictures of three different players. This leads to odd pictures of all three. Tony was on a card featuring players with high batting averages.

Notably, Al Oliver wore 0 (zero) on his uniform. 

The scan offers a bizarre mash up of all 3 faces.

Tony is youthful, with a shadow of Bill Buckner's eyebrows on his forehead.

On Bill's card you can really see his caterpillar eyebrows in all their glory. That's some 'tache too.

Al also has a 'tache, and escapes Bill's ghostly brows by virtue of having a cap on. You can just see Tony's cap logo behind the jay, like a bad airbrushing job on an old baseball card.

These are fun cards to hold and fiddle with to try and get photos of the images. 

Although these cards say 'First Series' on the back, no second series was issued that year. The company who developed them, Major League Marketing, launched the Score range in 1988. That first Score range included 'magic motion' trivia cards, which were lenticular. (According to BaseballCardPedia, these were included because at the time Topps had exclusive rights to sell packs of just baseball cards - this explains why Fleer included a logo sticker, and DonRuss included puzzle pieces in with their baseball cards!)

Thanks again to Tim for sending me these!

Total: 617 cards

Monday, March 15, 2021

Modern Monday - Super 70s

Here's a card released last year that would have the Anachronism Klaxon ringing if such a thing existed. This card was an eBay single that I bought last month. It arrived the day after Tim's PWE, so I had transatlantic mail two days running!

Card Number 615: Topps X Super 70s Sports, 2020; #54

This online exclusive card set is a "curated card set", which basically means Topps have asked someone else to lend their name to it. In this case, the 'curator' is Ricky Cobb, who runs a twitter account called Super70sSports. Ricky was apparently involved in the subject selection, although the base set of 90 cards seems to be the usual selection of subjects Topps has a license to put on baseball cards. The '70s' aspect is seen mainly in the insert series including five cards honouring 'Magnificent Mustaches' - and, yes, Rollie Fingers is in that insert set! (You can see Rollie's card on Cardboard Connection.)

I understand why Topps would want a mix of current stars and famous names to feature on these cards, but given the 70s connection, it seems very odd to me that they didn't limit it to players who were actually active in the 70s.

Topps have used a nice photo of Tony on the front. His 'Mimbandz' wristbands are really prominent. I noticed then as soon as I opened the envelope as I had just been discussing the Project 70 card designed by Mimbandz that was released this week.

The card back looks like a proper cardback from the 70s. That's a deliberate aesthetic choice. Although they missed a trick by not including a 'wax stain' to really capture that retro feel. (Topps will do a wax stain parallel cardback one day; you know they will.)

The cardback also has the Super 70s Sports logo and a cartoon showing a right-handed hitter making an awkward connection with the ball. It seems like the cartoonist has never seen a batter swing.

Looking into the availability of this card is an exercise in trying to make sense of enigmatic reporting. Topps seems to be claiming a print run of 8,971. But Cardboard Connection says 8,971 boxes were shipped. There were 18 base cards per box, and 90 base cards in total. You can therefore effectively divide the print run total by 5 to find out the actual print run of an individual card, which works out at about 1,794. Factoring in parallels and autographs and one or two other bits, I think the actual print run per card is probably only about 1,790. Definitely less than 2,000.

It's a nice looking card and also ticked off a mini-milestone for me as it was the 50th card I have added to my collection in 2021. It's also my 35th card from 2020, which is a crazy number that may well increase further.

Total: 615 cards

Sunday, March 14, 2021

One sticker only - a Topps "halfsie"

Ask anyone who grew up in the UK in the 80s who was into soccer, and they probably collected Panini football stickers. The first sticker album my brother and I filled was Football '85. We then completed the Mexico '86 book for the World Cup. Then my mum enforced a break on us. The last book we filled was Football '88. I did have sticker albums for Football '86, Football '87 and Football '89, but didn't complete them.

As an adult I collected and filled the World Cup 2014 and the Euro 2016 sticker albums. It may have been regression, but it was great fun swapping football stickers again.

I didn't realise that Topps did sticker books in the 80s for baseball until I started delving into the depths of Trading Card Database. Also, a little known fact about these "Topps" stickers is that they were actually manufactured by Panini, who had the right equipment for producing them! (Source: BaseballCardpedia)

Hence the link to my childhood football sticker collecting.

This was all triggered by one of the items in the envelope that recently arrived from Tim in Pennsylvania.

"Card" Number 614: Topps Stickers, 1984; #160

These stickers could be stuck in the Baseball Sticker Yearbook that was sold for 25c. 

This sticker really reminds me of Football '85 because in the 80s, the Panini sticker albums had the English First Division with one player per sticker, then the teams and badges of the Second Division, and then at the back the players for the teams in the Scottish Premier Division. But the Scottish player stickers came like this - two stickers on the same sticker back. Although, unlike these, the Scottish stickers got stuck into the album next to each other. 

The nostalgia is almost overwhelming.

Tony is sharing this sticker with "Disco Dan" Ford, who was in the penultimate year of his decade-long Major League career. The Orioles was his final ball club after starting out with the Twins and then playing for the Angels. He was an outfielder like Tony and won the World Series with the Orioles in 1983 - so considering he was an established player and had a World Series ring, it's a bit odd he only got a 'halfsie' sticker. 

On the back it says the sticker was printed in Italy - another clue that this was produced by Panini under a subcontracting agreement. I particularly like the perpendicular baseball bat separating Tony and Dan's names. Another oddity is that the sticker-back suggest you collect the baseball cards, instead of completing your sticker collection. Maybe after they paid Panini for the print run, the stickers were less profitable for Topps, which is why they wanted collectors to buy the baseball cards instead.

Total: 614 cards

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Mail from Pennsylvania! (Another rookie card!)

I was in the middle of a virtual work meeting when my wife propped up an envelope next to me. I could see the USA International Postage Forever Stamp and the return address for Tim, who posted a comment on my 'Gaps in the Wantlist' page a short while ago saying he would send me some cards. 

That meeting took forever to end!

When it finally did, I was able to open the envelope and see what cards Tim had sent me. I was not disappointed.

Tim lives in Pennsylvania, supports the Padres and collects Tony Gwynn cards. Tim posted a video of his collection on Twitter and I am envious of his binders, let alone his cards! 

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that one of the cards is the fourth of Tony's rookie cards from 1983. I blogged last weekend about acquiring the Fleer card that completed the trinity. I now have the "Fundamental Four" (Tim's term), although I think I'm going to refer to this as the 'Quaternity', which was a suggestion that came from one of my fellow UK collectors on Facebook.

So with no further ado...

Card Number 613: O-Pee-Chee, 1983; #143

This is a straight reprint of the Topps card #482, except for the change of logo and the addition of the word 'voltigeur' under Tony's name.

There is more French on the cardback. The pressure to make this card bilingual meant they shrank the font size and dropped one of the factoids in the box at the bottom.

For comparison, here's the Topps cardback.

The O-Pee-Chee cardback is noticeably lighter cardboard. It also says it's printed in Canada.

As someone who has experienced the difficulty in producing bilingual documents, I share the pain of the O-Pee-Chee designers trying to include as much information as possible in two languages. It can be really difficult to do, especially when one language requires more words than the other. (Typically, anything translated into Welsh takes at least 25 per cent more space than the English.) Fortunately, I don't have to produce bilingual baseball cards!

I want to say a huge thank you to Tim for sending me this card (and the others, which I will blog about soon!) and for helping me with this fourth rookie card. It nicely bookends them when they are all together.

Total: 613 cards

Wednesday, March 10, 2021


I did a small trade with Mark B recently. I sent him some Mariners cards and he sent me some random Padres and this magnificent example of a card from the 90s.

Card Number 612: Pinnacle Aficionado, 1996; #30

"Pinnacle what!?" "You heard me - Aficionado!"

The front of this card has a bizarre textured close up of Tony's face. I don't know what the surface print is made from. It feels very rough. The sepia photo screams 'card company aiming for classy'.

The set logo says 'Aficionado by Pinnacle'. Almost like a perfume range.

The back is black and shows every mark. The edges look chewed up in the scan but the card honestly does not look this bad in real life. But, ignore the edges, look at that stats box! That's new.

So this stats box compares Tony's average in 1995 and his career against the overall averages for outfielders in 1970, 1985 and 1995. My inner data nerd went Squeeee! when I saw this. 

Tony won his sixth batting title in 1995 with a batting average .082 above the average batting average! He outperformed all his peers except in two metrics - home runs and stolen bases. Well, fair play, he was 35 that year and his best basestealing days were behind him. And he was never a home run guy. 

He did pretty well on total bases, though. He would have hit a lot of singles in his 197 hits, given he only made 62 extra bases, and 36 of those would be from home runs.

Mark and I had a bit of a laugh about this card, which Mark described as "horrible". From a design perspective, that's a good description, but this cardback is something really special.

I have now blogged all my outstanding cards. I am now planning to take a little break until some new cards arrive, or until I start playing around with building a Tony Gwynn Frankenset. I may chronicle a bit more of my collection drift as I have a few odds and ends knocking about. And I've been thinking about my collection as a whole and my next target to aim at.

So I have some ruminating to do. For now, I leave you with this pinnacle of Pinnacle cardbacks!

Total: 612 cards

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Tuesday Twins - from rookie year to sunset season

I've acquired a third brand new card released in 2021. It's another Topps insert, and another reprint appearance for Tony's rookie card, this time combined with his final base card proper. This card arrived via Greg, who recently joined the Facebook group for UK card collectors.

Card Number 611: Topps Double Header, 2021; #TDH1

Tony was the lead-off hitter in this insert series.

The front of the card is a straight up reprint of Tony's rookie card from 1983, with the additions of a silver foil Topps 70th anniversary logo.

On the back is Tony's 2002 card, with a grey surround - this means Topps avoided putting all their boilerplate legalese onto the card image.

This is a reprint I can really support, as it shows the length of Tony's career in a novel way. 

The 1983 card has been reprinted several times, reimagined 20 times in Project 2020, and even turned into somewhat dubious manufactured relic cards.

However, the 2002 template doesn't feature as often in my collection at all. In fact, I think Topps missed a trick here because they gave Tony the 1974 template in their throwback cards last year when they were also using their 2002 template for retired players. He is in the 1974 template again this year in the 70 years of Topps insert set.  It would be more fun to have the 2002 template with a different photo of Tony in it.

Back when I reviewed this card along with other cards from 2002, I noted that this picture could almost be an unlicensed DonRuss or Panini card, given the lack of prominent logos. There is just an arm patch that could be easily airbrushed off. 

The lack of care when it comes to photography is almost the defining feature of Topps cards. In Tony's first card you mainly see his bum. In his final card you can't see his face either.

At least Topps were consistent, is about all you can say.

I think there are actually nine different Tony Gwynn cards in Topps Series 1 this year. Beside the three I have, there is a short print in the base card design, a 1986 template insert, a chrome parallel of the 70 Years of Topps insert, a patch card, a cloth card (!) and a 1/1 cut signature. 

As I have three cards from Series 1, I am technically a third of the way through! Short prints are really hard pulls this year, apparently. So, with the exception of the 1986 insert, I think it's doubtful I will add any more. 

Total: 611 cards

Monday, March 8, 2021

Modern Monday - another Project 2020 card

Well, Project 2020 cards seem to  be dropping in price. This was the cheapest of the three cards I have bought so far and is the one with the second-lowest print run. (The card hobby doesn't always make sense!)

This card came from Jason from Dugout Classics who was the source of the second Project 2020 card that I featured on the blog.

Card Number 610: Topps Project 2020, 2020; #113

As with all the Project 2020 cards, this is an artists's reinterpretation of Tony's 1983 Topps rookie card. This one was designed by an artist based in the UK and for me it gives off a Hawaiian vibe, which is very fitting considering that's where Tony was playing just before his call-up to the major leagues.

One the back there is a biography of the artist, Matt Taylor.

The print run for this card was 8,401, which was a massive drop from the print run for the card by Efdot which was #92 and had 31,030 copies printed. There was a brief surge in interest in the Project 2020 range that peaked around that Efdot card. By the time Ermsy's card was printed (#161), the print run was even lower (5,543). 

I have a few theories why these cards are getting cheaper on the secondary market.

Firstly, I've heard that people bulk-ordered in the hope of getting valuable parallel versions and are now left with more than they need. 

Secondly, I think the spike in interest coincided with a huge spike of interest in baseball card collecting. That bubble hasn't exactly popped, but recently it feels like I'm seeing people who launched into the collector's groups on Facebook suddenly announcing that they are not collecting any more and putting the collections they have accumulated up for sale. (My friend Gawain, who buys and sells collections, also says more people are wanting to sell because they have decided to stop collecting.)

Thirdly, these were available to buy on the Topps website and most people who wanted one will have bought one then. That means it's harder to find a buyer if people are trying to resell these cards. Unless someone is a fan of the artist, or the player (hello!), or has decided to collect the set as an afterthought, then it might be hard to find someone who wants one. That is bad news for people who bought them thinking they would always be able to recoup their money or make a profit. But it's good news for people like me!

Having initially passed over the Project 2020 cards, I now have three. I will probably add more as and when affordable ones appear.

Total: 610 cards

Sunday, March 7, 2021

One Card Only - Completing the rookie card trinity

I have wanted to complete the trinity of Tony Gwynn's rookie cards for some time. I acquired both the Topps and DonRuss rookie cards several years before I started this blog and they featured in my second ever post.

Marc, one of my contacts from the Facebook collector's groups, messaged me offering me the Fleer rookie card. He was very clear to tell me that it had a dinged corner, and included an extreme close up photo of said corner. 

(I really appreciated Marc's honesty about this. He had bought the card off someone who had sent him a photo that had the seller's thumb obscuring that corner with no mention of a ding - which the seller then blamed on the post service!)

As someone who doesn't mind cards that have obviously been loved, the ding was not a deal-breaker. I don't own a single graded card. Those sterile slabs of plastic do nothing for me and I doubt I will ever buy one. But I had an obvious gap where I had left a pocket in my binder of Fleer cards ready for the 1983 card to slot in.

When it arrived, the mark was barely perceptible. If you really look at it hard enough you will see it, but it's not noticeable when the card is sat in my Fleer binder along with all it's younger relatives.

Card Number 609: Fleer, 1983; #360

Brown and yellow uniform. Visible face. Swinging Friar logo. All bonus points! This is a perfect photo of a young, bushy-haired lad, getting ready to light up the major leagues.

There's a little portrait photo on the back, and a minor league record to boast about.

The factoid is about the franchise, rather than about Tony. He was still just a prospect in the Padres roster at this point and presumably nobody had compiled any interesting trivia tidbits about him yet. I say this as a Padres fan, but it's quite amusing that the first Padre batter ever to reach base safely did so on a fielding error. Yup. Seems 'bout right.

There was a recent article on Beckett about an 'Instant PC' of Tony Gwynn cards that included all three rookie cards.

In that article, Beckett ranked Tony's rookie cards in order of desirability as Topps, Fleer, DonRuss. I think Beckett are wrong. The only reason the Topps card commands a higher price is because of the obsession some collectors have with Topps. 

If you look at these cards objectively, the Fleer card has the best photo, the DonRuss card has the better lay-out and the second-best photo. And the Topps card is saved by the cameo portrait head and shoulders photo in the circle. The one thing in it's favour is that Tony is wearing the 1982 uniform - even if he has his spring training number on the back of the jersey. (More on that here.)

As a post-script, after I tweeted a photo of the rookie card I got asked if I had the O-Pee-Chee rookie card, which is a reprint of the Topps card. So it would appear there is a fourth rookie card to add to the trinity at some point. (At which point it will be a ... quadrinity? I need to look that up.)

Many thanks to Marc for making this blog post possible!

Total: 609 cards

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saturday diversion - card art by Dave

I'm not showing an actual card today, because I wanted to post about a 'virtual' card that Dave sent me. Dave has a blog called Baseball Fans Only, and recently published an article about my Tony Gwynn collection

We also batted around a few ideas for a 'beginner's guide' to collecting baseball cards. It's a huge topic to try and summarise. (Maybe we need a 'beginner's guide to writing beginner's guides about collecting baseball cards'!) Dave gave me a co-author credit on that article although he did almost all the work.

One of Dave's other interests is creating 'virtual baseball cards', and he sent this to me a couple of days ago.

The BFO logo in the corner stands for Baseball Fans Only. This really reminds me of some of the recent Diamond Kings inserts because of the colour scheme. For example, the flashback card from 2019.

Obviously, the actual card from Panini is devoid of logos, which means Dave's card has a bit of an edge.

This isn't the first card-art I've received, of course. I had a Christmas card off Laura (of Laura's Clubhouse) with a doctored 1994 Topps card on it. This still makes me smile.

So that's a slight diversion for today. I'm very excited about the card I get to show you tomorrow!