A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Gwynn's of 1995, pt. 3

Here's the third and final installment (well, at least for the foreseeable future) of The Gwynn's of 1995.  After looking at the base cards of the five major brands, and then some of the spin off sets of those brands.  Today, well… it's a little of everything, but primarily inserts.  How do they compare to each other according to my expert analysis?  Let's take a look

#5 - Studio Gold (no. 25)
I thought the idea of these "credit card"-style cards was pretty cool, and I never had any of these as a kid.  This is a gold one, don't know much about 'em, but it looks pretty cool - I wouldn't mind if my debit card looked more like this.  As far as photo selection goes, this is fairly boring.  Not many shots of Tony in spectacles, though.  While his .394 average listed on the front is otherworldly, the 64 RBI is rather pedestrian.  Glancing at his B-Ref page, his career high in RBI was 119 in 1997, though he only topped 70 in a season four times in his 20 year career.

#4 - 1995 Pinnacle Zenith (no. 104)
Man, I really love the Pinnacle brand, but while I think their designs look consistently pretty good, there aren't many of Tony that look great.  Zenith was a pretty cool set that I never heard of until I started blogging.  Like I said, snazzy design, fancy looking and all, but grades out as an "above average" Gwynn card by comparison.

#3 - 1995 Fleer Ultra (On Base Leaders, no. 11)
I can't remember when or where or how I got this card, but for some reason I must've overlooked it, because I didn't remember getting it.  Which is crazy, because I think it looks flat out awesome.  While some designs of the era (I'm thinking specifically of Flair, but there were probably others) had toyed with designs that had two images of the player on the front of the card, Ultra took it to the next level with the League Leaders cards and added a whopping THIRTEEN photos of Mr. Padre.  That it only graded in at number three on the countdown shows the stiff competition it was up against.

#2 - 1995 Stadium Club "Clear Cut" (no. #3)
Acetate cards are pretty rad.  I remember getting this one in a group break a while back.  I'm not a condition freak, but it's nice having a card that I don't have to worry about as I'm going about my frequent paging and re-paging activities dinging any corners.  I'm not aware of any other acetate cards that pre-date these, so if these are the first, well, that's gotta score you some pretty high marks.  Stadium Club is tough to top...

#1 - 1995 Score Summit "Nth Degree"
…but it can still be done.  Score Summit is another one that I hadn't heard of until I started blogging, and just now, I found out that this is a parallel called "Nth Degree", and according to baseballcardpedia.org, it is "printed on prismatic foil".  I got right back into baseball card collecting at the end of 2011, and I really dug the diamond parallels of 2011 Topps, and this is pretty similar to those.  While I have a lot of rad looking Gwynn's, this is one that definitely pops off the page.

Well, it took a little bit longer than I thought to get to this post, but I'm slowly but surely shaking off the blogging rust.  Hope y'all have a great Saturday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Rule Breakin' GWYNNsday

Shortly after starting this blog (and beginning to be the recipient of trades and charity packages full of Padre cards), I created a rule for myself:

Never buy Tony Gwynn cards.

This wasn't because I wasn't a fan of Mr. Padre.  That would be ridiculous.  The reasoning behind the rule, was that everybody sends me Gwynn cards.  EV-ER-Y-BO-DY.  So why buy something that I could get for free later on?  No reason to stock up on duplicates, I'll just wait for them to come to me.

Well, now that I've crossed the 600 card threshold (and my pace of trade-completing and blog-posting has slowed to a snail's pace), it's getting harder and harder to get those Gwynn's from you wonderful people.  Seriously, of those 600+, I'd be surprised if less than 80% came from the card collecting community (if that's not reason enough to start a blog, even one as crappy as mine, then I don't know what is).

Anyways, so yeah, I've changed the rule.  Gwynn's are in.  I figure since I've trimmed down my player collections so much, it's only fair.  It's just Tony, Archi Cianfrocco, and Jerry Coleman.  And Archi and Jerry don't have many cards to chase down.

So, here is a recent eBay purchase, my first Gwynn pickup from there in a very long time, though for 49 cents (seriously, nobody else put a bid in), I'd be a fool to not snatch it up.

Star, man.  Who are these guys?  I've got a few other Star cards from the late 80s, but I have no idea where these were originally purchased or how they were packaged.  They seemed to focus on specific players rather than specific teams or covering the whole league.  My affinity for '91 Fleer is well documented, so of course I dig the bright yellow border, though the red Padres logo and font is a bit off putting.  But, with a minimalist design and a plain portrait photo, this is vintage oddball stuff.

Here's the back, which explains why the front says "Tony's Personal Data".  Not personal enough to include a home phone number, address, or social security number, but it does have the ages of his children and mentions the Hall of Champions in San Diego.  I've never been inside the Hall of Champions, but I've walked past it plenty of times while hanging out in Balboa Park, one of the most beautiful places in San Diego.

Most definitely put that pair of quarters to good use.  I guess some rules were made to be broken.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Gwynn's of 1995, pt. 2

So, yesterday I posted a list of "The Gwynn's of 1995".  It was meant to look at the base cards of the five major brands of '95 and rank them.

Only one person commented (thanks Fuji!), and mentioned that he wasn't really into the brands that I mentioned (Donruss, Fleer, Score, Topps, Upper Deck).  And to be honest, I can't say I blame him.  Remember the 90s?  There were SO many brands!  It was awesome.

So, here's the second installment of the "Gwynns of '95", this time with an offshoot of each of the five main brands.  Like last time, I ranked them in order of awesomeness.

#5 - 1995 Collector's Choice (no. 160)
Collector's Choice was about as affordable as it got for young collector's like me, and I always considered it a pretty solid set.  Big checklist, decent design, some cool parallels, etc.  The shot of Tony is about as good as it gets, and deserves better than the number five slot, but I'm not crazy about the placement of the logos and the the name plate doesn't do a  whole lot for me.  Still, a very solid Gwynn card.

#4 - 1995 E*Motion (no. 187)
I went back and forth between this one and the Collector's Choice.  I prefer the CC photo, but the design of E*Motion is more unique.  Sometimes, I think they had to stretch it a bit to find an adjective to describe the player shown, but Tony was definitely a scholar of the game, so they hit it right on the nose here.  He was one of the first to really study film to scout other pitchers and himself.  The gold background looks good as well.

#3 - 1995 Leaf (no. 299)
Man, the rainbow foil looks great on this one.  Easily the best use of foil of any of these five cards (they all have it).  Man, the photo selection of these is all great, and it's hard to top a shot of the green Wrigley ivy.

#2 - 1995 Pinnacle (no. 93)
I don't think this is the best use of the multiple exposure shots, but I'm still a sucker for these, so this scored pretty high for me.  Not really my favorite Pinnacle release (that'd be their '92 set, or some of their offshoot Pinnacle brands like Zenith or Inside), but I've seen worse designs.  They sure liked that gold foil at the bottom, though I might've preferred more info than just "GWYNN".  But I'm getting nitpick, I love this photo.

#1 - Stadium Club (no. 475)
Alright, if I loved the last photo, I don't know how to describe my feelings for this one.  I love love it?  First of all, I love any shot that gets even a semi-decent view of good old Jack Murphy Stadium (though this isn't shown in great detail), but uh… hello?  Big giant bat anyone?  I've always assumed that this was some kind of award for himself, but I guess he's sitting on a bench, so maybe he's applauding whoever is about to join him.  Oh Stadium Club, you were always my favorite.

Well, there you have it, round of Gwynn cards form 1995.  I wasn't planning on spending multiple posts on cards from the same year, but that's what I'll be doing tomorrow as well, though I'll be looking at some "fancier" brands/inserts, so tune in!  Have a great Monday!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Gwynn's of 1995

Shortly after his passing, I did a post on my top ten favorite Tony Gwynn cards.  At the time, I was a little bit over the 500 mark, and currently, I'm a little over the 600 mark.  I recently did a major purge of my binders, eliminating a few player collections, clearing out my Miscellaneous Padres binder, and putting a bunch of non-Padres players into boxes.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet (well, I'm going to mail them to bloggers/readers, but that's more of a post-summer school activity, so it'll wait a few weeks), but since I'm focusing more and more on my Tony Gwynn collection, I'm going to blog about it more and more as well.

Today, I'll be looking at the Tony Gwynn cards of 1995 from (what I consider to be) the five main brands of the time: Donruss, Fleer, Score, Topps, and Upper Deck, and ranking them one through five.

#1. 1995 Score (no. 28)
Starting out at number five, we have Score.  From a design standpoint, I really don't like the way the brown and green borders look, though I don't actually mind it too much with this particular card.  Solid picture of Tony mid swing, looks like it was from Spring Training, complete with a rip in his pants from earlier in the game.  It's at the bottom of the list, but there's no shame in that, it's still good.

#2 - 1995 Fleer (no. 560)
It was a toss up between this one and the Score, in my judgement, they're pretty equal.  I'll give Fleer the edge because of it's… uh, creativity.  Sure, I'm pretty sure that the graphics guys were on acid, but it definitely stands out on a page.  There are plenty of designs that others hate that I'm a big fan of (hello, 1991 Fleer), but I'm not crazy about this design, a little too busy for me.  I do like that, along with the slew of information that's written in neon (even Tony's vital stats like height, weight, and place of birth are written on the front), that it has his uniform number in the bottom left corner.  The number 19 is sacred to us Padre fans (just check Twitter for the hashtag #RIP19).

#3. 1995 Donruss (no. 224)
Donruss checks into the game in the middle of the pack.  In my eyes, this is a fairly generic looking card - not bad at all, but doesn't stand out a lot either.  In fact, if you had shown me a picture of this before I opened up my binder, I probably would've said that I didn't have it (does that make me a bad collector?).  Still, while the design is simple, the photo is great, I love the home plate insert image that looks like Tony's popping out of home plate, and there's no distracting border, it's full bleed.  This is a good one, though I could do without the foil.

#2 - 1995 Upper Deck (no. 135)
Speaking of cards with good photography and full bleed designs, here's Upper Deck's entry.  The top three were pretty close here, and normally I prefer cards of Tony at the plate, but the green of the grass and the Wrigley ivy is just too good.  Plus, I guess I prefer the gold foil to the silver, and Tony always had those killer sunglasses.

#1 - 1995 Topps (no. 431)
This one kinda surprised me.  I started collecting in 1992 at the age of eight, and I thought (and still think) that 1993 was the last year of the '90s that Topps put out a good looking base set.  I dunno, everything after that just paled in comparison to what Upper Deck and Fleer did (and don't get me started with other sets like Collector's Choice, Ultra, and Pinnacle, though Topps usually knocked it out of the park with Stadium Club).  The zig-zaggy border with a secondary color is pretty plain to me, but in this case, it serves to highlight a great shot of Tony's sweet swing (and it's a bit more flattering that Score's photo).

In the end, just like any of my lists, it could look completely different on a different given day.  The more I look at that Donruss card, the less sure I am about this list.  But, I'm about to hit "publish", so if you've got a beef, leave it in the comments.  Have a good one!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The ORIGINAL Padre


Last night, while watching the Padres get annihilated by the Nationals, I got a few Twitter updates of the passing of former Padre Ollie Brown.  I'm about to go on a run of mostly-Gwynn related posts, but anyone who's been a Padre fan for more than a few years (or who collects as-vintage-as-they-get Padre cards) will have love for Ollie.

As many may know, the San Diego Padres existed as a team in the Pacific Coast League since 1936.  When given the chance to bring a Major League team to San Diego, it was also named the Padres.  During the Expansion Draft of 1968, the Padres had the first pick, and they actually didn't screw it up (don't get me started on recent Padres draft busts).  After parts of four seasons with the Giants, the Padres took him with the first overall pick, and he became the first Padre.

I have three Ollie Brown cards, two shown here.  I have team sets of the '69 and '71 Topps Padres, but I'm too lazy to go snap a picture of the '71 card.  Like many of the Padres, Brown had his cap blacked out in the '69 set, since they didn't yet have any available pictures of them in Padres uniforms.  

My easy favorite, though, is this Kellogg's 3D card from 1970.  Those are the best oddballs of all time.

Can't say that I really know a whole lot about Ollie, other than what's on his Wikipedia page: His nickname was "Downtown" Brown (he hit 20 homers for the Padres in their inaugural season, and hit his career high the following year with 23, though he would fail to top 9 any subsequent year), and his brothers were also professional athletes - Oscar with the Atlanta Braves, and Willie with the Rams and Eagles of the NFL.

While not necessarily the most noteworthy choice of the Padres in the Expansion Draft (that might be franchise home run record holder Nate Colbert or future World Series champion manager Cito Gaston), sometimes it's a big deal to be the first.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Late Spring Training Post

Was cleaning out the pictures in my phone this weekend, and realized that I took a lot of pictures from my Spring Training trip that I never posted.  Here's a quick rundown.

We went to two games, and here's where we sat for game 1.  Great seats that eventually got a little too hot to handle.



My brother Ammon scored a bunch of autographs, he's the one in the brown hat.  Here he is with Tommy Medica and Yangervis Solarte.

This was the best/clearest picture I got of a Padre, infielder Cory Spangenberg.  

Matt Kemp was pretty close to us for a bit, but he was a bit too big time to make eye contact with any of the fans.  At this point, it was still weird to think that he was on the Padres, so it was cool to see.  From the last two trips to Peoria, the "biggest name" we ever saw was Chase Headley, so it took some getting used to.

I can't remember the outcome of the game, I think the Padres won.  Brandon Morrow pitched and did alright, and Matt Kemp and Tommy Medica both hit some pretty majestic looking home runs.  The Kemp homer gave me goosebumps.

That night, we ate at Waffle House in memory of my brother Sam, who wasn't with us (couldn't get out of school, and he's a big Waffle House fan), and watched a basketball game on TV.  We woke up early the next day and had a super cheap Denny's meal and headed over to the practice fields.

Oh, I guess I should mention that "we" was me (right), my dad and my brother.  I was rocking my Kouzmanoff jersey, which was cool because I ran into a former coach of Kouz's and we chatted about how awesome he was.  Ammon was rocking a Mark Kotsay stadium giveaway shirt, which was cool because Kotsay is the current Padres hitting coach and he saw it and said something to him.  I can't remember what it was, but it was cool.  Kots is rad.

Practice fields were cool, especially talking w/the AAA El Paso coach Murphy.  SUPER personable guy, way friendly with fans and family members who came out to watch.  Here's a picture of a minor league guy doing some sliding drills.  Crazy that a guy who's played most of his life still has to practice sliding.  And not just practicing, but the coaches were correcting and fixing techniques.  Cool to see.

I feel dumb, but the first two times we went to Peoria, we didn't ever go do the "main" practice field where the big leaguers play.  For some reason, we just thought that the four main practice fields were it.  Dumb.  Anyways, by the time we made it over to the big league field, I think the "bigger" names were gone (Kemp and Upton), but we saw Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, Alexi Amarista, Yangervis Solarte, Austin Hedges, and Cody Decker.  Cool to see Bud Black, the Padres manager, toss the batting practice.

As we were leaving, a few Padres were leaving the field and crossing over to the main facility, and I got a lone autograph.  I'm 30, and I think I'm a bit old to be trying to get autographs of every Padre I see, but if there was a guy that I really liked that wasn't busy and available, I'd ask.  Nick Vincent is one of my favorite Padres.  He's a setup guy (actually just got demoted to AAA El Paso a few days ago) who was raised in San Diego and I've been a big fan of his since he was called up a few years ago.  Wish he'd signed it in the sweet spot, but he probably figured he'd be one of the many signing this ball. I left Peoria with just this signature.

After eating lunch, we headed over to the stadium for the game.  We learned our lesson from yesterday and got seats in the shade, which was wonderful.  Here's James Shields on the mound, with the Padres sporting the green St. Patrick's day hats.

Cameron Maybin (now with the Braves) hit a straight up bomb for the Padres, but that was one of the few highlights of the game.  Padres lost to the Brewers, who had basically the same uniforms as the Padres.

Here's me with a few of the crazies from the Right Field Mission at Petco who had made the trip to Peoria.  Great guys, VERY passionate about their team.

I decided to treat myself to a shirt to commemorate the trip, and even though I thought these were kind of ugly, they seemed specific enough to the Cactus League that I picked one up.  I was trying to decide which player to get, and I decided on Day 1 that I'd get whoever did the best over the two games we saw.  Well, I never saw Wil Myers play, and James Shields had a rough outing, so the Kemp home run sealed the deal.  Never thought I'd own a Matt Kemp shirsey.

Anyways, yeah, this post is a few months in the making, but I had a great time.  Spring training is always fun, though I think I'll probably be taking a few years off - it's a bit of a hassle to make it down there during my Spring Break, along with planning out stuff to do with the three kids.  Big thanks to my wife who took care of them while I was gone for a few days - you rock!

More card stuff later.  Hope everybody had a great Mother's Day.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mostly Gwynn's

Well, it's been a while since I've posted here, but I think I'm ready to make a comeback of sorts.  I've had a little time off from blogging, but I've used the time to (among other things) make sense of my card collection and sort and sift a few things out.  I've been the beneficiary of many, many Padre trade packages, and though it's tempting to keep it all, it's easier to enjoy it all when it's more streamlined (for me, at least).

Of course, one of the main pillars of my collection will be my Tony Gwynn collection.  I received a killer PWE from The Underdog Card Collector yesterday that had this gem of a Gwynn card in it.  Very cool card from Pinnacle Mint, that has a coin in it.  I actually have a different Gwynn from a different Pinnacle Mint set that is missing the coin.

By my last count, I had exactly 600 items in my Tony Gwynn spreadsheet, though some of those things aren't quite at the "card" status (coins, postcards, etc.)  This is another item that I'm not sure how to catalog.  This is from Julie over at A Cracked Bat.  She sent over a bunch of other cool Padre cards as well, but in the month plus of inactivity, I've forgotten which was which, so I apologize for that.  But check this out!  Very cool that she'd send over the box from a 2015 Donruss display for me, definitely a unique item to have.

I'll be trimming down my Padres collection shortly, so I'll be (hopefully) sending out some cards shortly, although that's always been the struggle since I've started this blog - getting to the post office.

A last note - one of the other things that has kept me busy (aside from school winding down, our three month old son, and just life in general): my four year old started softball!  I'm an assistant coach and it's pretty fun to watch/coach her and her team.  She's yet to get a hit in her first two games, and being the youngest and smallest on her team, she has only played outfield, and hasn't touched the ball yet.  But it's been lots of fun, and she's pretty freaking cute as well.

Look forward to posting again soon, take care my card collecting comrades!