I got a sweet package of (mostly) Padre cards from Nick over at the Dimebox blog, and while not all of the cards were Gwynn's, these ones were.
I'm pretty beefed up on Gwynn's from the 80's and mid/early 90's, but I'm still trying to catch up with some of these releases from the late 90's early '00s. For whatever reason, the card design here makes me think of Topps Total rather than an Upper Deck brand. Call me an old fashioned kid from the 90's (an admittedly strange phrase), but I preferred my cards to say "Upper Deck Collector's Choice", none of this "UD Choice" shorthand! I demand satisfaction! Show some self-respect Upper Deck!
While I really and truly love Gwynn cards of all shapes and sizes, sets and years, the late 90's/early '00s ones aren't quite as awesome. While I'm a big fan of the 80's brown uniforms (and all the Padres brown uniforms, for that matter), I also really dug the blue and orange. However, in the last few years of Tony's career, the Padres moved to blue and white (boooooooorrrrrrring), and these cards are a bittersweet reminder that change was on it's way. Here, the helmet and hats were still the 90's style blue/orange/white, but the uniform was plain blue and white.
Alright, this is a little more pleasing. Also, not a lot of… uh… bat-flipping Tony cards out there. I'm not even sure if this is technically even a "bat flip", but it's not like he's gently placing the bat on the ground or anything. I'd assume this was taken after being issued a walk, on his way to first base. I know that designs and styles change all the time, but is it weird to think that eight years before this card, Fleer was making those glorious yellow-bordered cards that are all the rage with all the in-the-know card collectors?
I'm not sure if this was my favorite card of the bunch, but it was definitely my favorite Tony Gwynn card, and it's pretty hard to top getting Tony Gwynn cards, so I'll deem it the champion of the package. Pretty much everything about Tony Gwynn is awesome, and he was especially great with fans. I've been reading a book that's pretty much a compilation of thoughts by Gwynn fans/San Diego writers/former players, and pretty much everybody wrote about how nice and approachable he was. My favorite entry was by a former Padres ball boy who said that Gwynn once went down to the Foot Locker and bought some shoes for some of the kids that worked at Jack Murphy Stadium. He also wrote about when Gwynn and Bip Roberts made fun of Will Clark after he called one of the other Padres ball boys a faggot. Anyways, yeah, tough to beat a card of Gwynn signing autographs for the fans.
Thanks Nick! My next post will be on the other non-Gwynn cards that he sent me. Believe me, there were some gems in there.