Big news today at Backstop HQ! We have become official sponsors of the Archi Cianfrocco page on Baseball-Reference.com!
That's pretty awesome, right? Be looking for photos of Archi wearing officially licensed Backstop gear while he's out and about, being mobbed by paparazzi. Very exciting times, my friends.
All sarcasm aside, Baseball-Reference.com is the ultimate baseball website, and for as much as I use it when prepping for a post, chipping in to sponsor a page (especially one as inexpensive as Archi's), is a pretty worthwhile endeavor, in my book. For $10, a link to this blog and a short message will be on Archi's page for a year. I'm pretty sure I check it more than the rest of the world combined, but still, it's better than a finger in your eye.
I've mentioned before that the crowning achievement of having this blog has been turning up on the first page of a google search for "Archi Cianfrocco" (go ahead, try it out), so this is a big step in the blog's support of everything Archi related.
In honor of this momentous and grand occasion, here is a list of my top 10 favorite Archi Cianfrocco cards. Tough to whittle down from the 54 that I have in my collection, but here goes...For a brief overview about why Archi Cianfrocco is so awesome, click here.
#10 - 1992 Leaf Black Gold (493)
I'm not sure if Leaf's "Black Gold" parallels were one of the first parallel sets, but they did a great job with these, as they look heads and tails better than the base set. I'm a sucker for a black bordered card, and this close up of Archi in his bright Montreal blues is a great card. It's low ranking is a testament to the awesomeness of Archi's catalog.
#9 - 1994 Mother's Cookies (7)
I don't have all of the Cianfrocco cards I need from the Mother's Cookies sets (yet), but here's a classic pose with those great 90's uniforms. Even the bat is tilted so you can read the name on his barrel (provided you've got some reading glasses). If you don't like the cards from the Mother's Cookies sets, there's probably something wrong with you.
#8 (tied) - 1993 Topps gold (151) & 1992 Topps Traded gold (23T)
While I know that ties are like kissing your sister, it's too much of a push for me to decide between the '92 and '93 sets, two of my favorites from when I was a kid that first got into collecting. I have both the base and gold versions of these cards, but posted the gold ones because back then, they were actually pretty difficult (at least for me) to find, so having them now is pretty cool. Bonus that the '93 card looks like it was taken at good 'ol Jack Murphy Stadium while the Expos were visiting.
#7 - 1997 Upper Deck Collector's Choice (206)
Archi wasn't known for his speed (hmm… lemme check on baseball-ref… yep, only 16 career steals in 19 attempts), but he was known for his hustle. While this photo doesn't do a great job of cluing us in on what might be happening in this shot (seriously, where are his arms?), it looks like there's a hand in the foreground in the upper right corner, perhaps a third base coach telling Archi to slide into third? Anyways, I think out of all of the Collector's Choice designs, I like the '97 set the best.
#6 - 1992 Score Traded (99)
If it were not for the internet, I would've had no idea that Score even released a Traded set in 1992 (or any other year, for that matter). Way to go internet, for helping realize that this awesome card existed. There is so much to love about the '92 Score design, I want to just keep looking at this card. But I have to move on.
#5 - 1992 Pinnacle (510)
Well, if we're talking about design, the '92 Pinnacle set is one of my all time favorites. SO much to like about this set, especially the black borders. The backs were great as well, going short on the stats but giving some pretty good (although sometimes depressing) scouting reports. Plus, ROOKIE CARD!
#4 - 1991 Line Drive (252)
Where do I even begin with this card? First of all, it's the third card on the countdown that has the position listed as "Infield" (the others show 1B or 3B, or no position at all). Second, it's a minor league set, so having a team like the Harrisburg Senators in the binder is rad. Third, Archi is doing what I did as a Little Leaguer on the way to practice while riding my bike: sticking the glove on your bat! How awesome is that - I've never seen that on a card before. Lastly, his name is listed as "Arcie". Can't pass that up. There are actually a few cards from his minor league days that have different spellings of first name (well, not his given first name, which is Angelo).
#3 - 1996 Leaf Signature Extended
This is the only certified autographed card that Archi had. The '96 Leaf Signature set had some great names, mostly of guys like Archi who were lesser known and wouldn't normally show up in an autographed set. This isn't the greatest example, but Archi has a great signature. Very graceful and elegant. Mine is pretty lame in comparison.
#2 - 1997 Upper Deck (167)
This one was so close to being #1. It landed the #4 spot in the "Top 50 Padre Cards of the 90's" countdown that wrapped up in November. This is the only card that features Archi in catcher's gear. The caption near the bottom of the card reads "Archi makes a rare appearance as a catcher 6*9*96." B/R tell us that on that date, Bruce Bochy had pinch hit for Brian Johnson, and later for Brad Ausmus, leaving Archi to catch one inning. It would be the only inning he'd catch in his major league career. This is definitely the most badass we ever get to see Archi look.
#1 - 1990 Best (4)
However, the #1 slot has to go to a nostalgic favorite. This will most likely go down as my best card shop pickup ever. I took my brother Ammon to a card shop in Rancho Bernardo a few years ago, and everything Padres related was way overpriced. However, after digging through some junk wax boxes, I found this card for 50 cents. A bargain at twice the price. This is also the first minor league card to have the "regular" spelling of Archi's first name. If there was a "Mount Rushmore" of cards for this blog, this one would definitely be in the running.
Well, there you have it. Another tribute to Archi. I think my comment on his B/R page sums it up best:
* Just in case that screenshot is too small to see, it says "Any die-hard Padres fan during the mid-90's loves Archi Cianfrocco. I am one of those people. First guy off the bench to pinch hit, could play any position, and had a name that was fun to say. Can't beat that. Go Padres!