Archive for Tony Gwynn

Upper Deck captured the fun of the ballpark in 1992

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2021 by Cardboard Icons

A few weeks ago my son and I opened a pair of 1992 Upper Deck baseball boxes in search of one of the legendary Ted Williams certified autographs. While we did not pull any of the signed cards, we did complete a full Baseball Heroes insert set (sans the short printed Header card) of the Splended Splinter.

Over the last two weeks, the boxes of base cards had been sitting around and earlier today I decided to take another look at them before putting them into another box I’ll likely donate. While checking the contents, I started to noticed that 1992 Upper Deck captured something other brands from the era seemed to routinely gloss over. Upper Deck captured various fun moments at the ball park, specifically the interaction with fans and players signing autographs.

This is not to say that other sets didn’t even capture this. But Upper Deck’s design allowed for two photos to be used per player, the dominant image on the front, and the one on the back. And while looking at the fronts and backs, enjoying various images I came across 18 different cards from the boxes that showed this pre-game interaction between fan and players, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this type of thing would ever be common place again given the way COVID-19 has changed the world.

What’s sort of fun in these images is to see which players were captured signing, what items were being offered and in one case it looked like someone was trying to give a $1 bill for a signature.

We start with a pair of Hall of Famers in Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn.

Ripken was still about three of so years away from breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak, but he was an established star and on the front of his card he is shown signing a large poster that’s been rolled up and brought to the ball park.

The front of Tony Gwynn’s card is a action game image, but the back is where we see Gwynn signing for fans, several of whom appear to be offering an Upper Deck promotional piece.

One could argue that Dale Murphy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame however he still remains on the outside looking in. But if there was an autograph HOF, Murphy would be a first-ballot member as his flowing, loopy signature is a favorite among fans. Here we see Murphy signing autos with his left and — which is opposite of his throwing hand — and there is no shortage of demand. My favorite person here? The person in the center in the Hard Rock Cafe shirt, totally geeking out as he looks to be placing his signed card back inside his binder page.

At the start of 1992, Darryl Strawberry was still a major star in the game, coming off a 28-homer performance in his first season as a Dodger. On the rear of his card, he’s shown signing a few autographs down the right field line. It’s worth noting that Darryl appears to be signing baseballs with a black marker, which is not really the preferred method. But would you complain? Not I.

The following 14 cards showcase MLBers who weren’t exactly of the same caliber of those mentioned above, but it’s worth noting that fans are fans, they’ll seek a signature from whomever is in uniform offering to ink their collectibles. The first seven will be cards with signing occurring on the front, while the second set will show the interaction on the backs.

Here’s Brewers pitcher Chris Bosio signing what appears to be a baseball.

Former prospect Ben McDonald is shown on his card conducting an interview while signing a baseball in blue marker. What’s comical here is the fan shouting in the background and the Diet Pepsi logo in the foreground as it was on the side of what looks to be a promotion Orioles baseball cap.

Phillies pitcher Mike Hartley is shown here signing the underside of a Phillies cap with some sort of marker.

Mets pitcher Anthony Young appears to be signing some sort of flat — probably a card — as it rests on the wall along the first base side of the field.

Angels reliever Mark Eichhorn appears to be enjoying himself as he signs for several members of the US Military. I wonder if those guys ever learned they were featured on a baseball card.

Braves reliever Marvin Freeman took his signing session to the next level and sat on the dugout pregame signing for fans using the ever popular blue ballpoint pen to make memories.

White Sox pitcher Melido Perez is shown signing autographs, specifically what looks to be a game-day lineup sheet from a Program. What caught my eye here is the fan in the background holding a $1 bill. It’s not clear if the fan is offering to pay him for a signature or if they wanted him to sign the money.

Blue Jays star pitcher Dave Stieb looks to me making friends as he sits on the tarp at what I believe is Angels Stadium.

Brewers closer Doug Henry is shown on his card preparing to sign a glove with a collectible team ballpoint pen.

Cubs catcher Rick Wilkins is pictured using a purple Sharpie to sign a program. It’s worth noting that the autograph probably turned out upside down.

Phillies shortstop Kim Batiste was captured signing autographs at Spring Training.

Cubs starter Frank Castillo is shown signing before a game at Dodger Stadium. A couple fun things of note: Castillo is going to sign a baseball with what looks like a scented (blueberry?!) blue marker and someone is holding a poster featuring Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan, possibly offering for that to be signed by Castillo.

Orioles relief pitcher Todd Frowirth was captured pausing between signatures at the old Memorial Stadium … and there are those pesky Diet Pepsi logos again.

And lastly t here is veteran outfielder Mike Deveraux returning a hat after signing it. And given by the looks of things, it is probably one of those promotional Diet Pepsi/Orioles hats. Fitting.

I don’t own every card of this set, but that seems to be a lot of fan interaction for the 72 packs that my son and I opened. It’s an 800-card set so there’s probably more that I’ve missed.

Have one from this set that I missed? Leave it in the comments, or share it over on Twitter.

Thrift Treasures 74: Oldies but Goodies; shiny ones too.

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

So late last week I hit a thrift store on the way home and in the “collectible” section behind the show case near the register were three white boxes that all card collectors could spot from across the room.  One was small, like a 200-count box, but the others were 400-count and 550-count. On the outside the store wrote a vague description of what was inside. The small said something to the effect of “comic cards” and they wanted $2.99 for the box, and the others had various sports descriptions on them, as you can see from the pictures.

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I don’t buy every “mystery” box I run into, but if I am allowed to open it and get some idea of what is inside, I’ll bite if the contents and price point make sense.  Well, in this case I was allowed to do so. The first card I pulled out of the 400-count box was a shiny 1996 Topps Chrome Tony Gwynn refractor.  I closed the box immediately and staked my claim at $2.99. I then popped the larger box and pulled a small stack. The highlight of the stack was a 2007 Score Adrian Peterson rookie, followed by a 1988 Topps Brian Bosworth rookie.  I looked at the price on the lid ($3.99) closed it up and headed for the register. I’d already seen enough to justify by purchase.

So after the purchase I sat in my car and finally dug through both boxes hoping to unearth some special gems.  As it turned out, both boxes had a little something fun and even some items I’d even call treasures.

We’ll start with the small box, because it was heavily baseball-centric. When I opened this box in the store, I gravitated toward the single card that was in a penny sleeve which was the Tony Gwynn.

IMG_7056Refractors at one point were the epitome of parallel cards and in 1996 Topps released it’s first Topps Chrome run. They’re not as hard to find as their basketball counterpart, but the baseball ones from the early Chrome years are still not a easy to find as the ones made these days. The Gwynn could re-sell for more than what I paid for these two boxes.IMG_7057

There were some star cards in the 400-count box but I wont spend too much time on them. Instead I’ll just show a lot of 1997 Mother’s Cookies San Francisco Giants — lots of dupes, but at least I got ONE Barry Bonds — and five misc. cards, including two rookie-year Marshall Faulk cards, and a cool 1995-96 Hoops Skyview Joe Smith. Yes, that last card is of Joe Smith, a former First Overall Pick who didn’t exactly light the NBA on fire, but those mid-90s inserts do well on the secondary market.

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The 550-count box was 99% football.  I stopped collecting football about a decade ago, but every now and again I dabble in the sport. I also still have an emotional draw to rookie cards of guys, so some of the contents of the box really struck a cord with me.

First off, we’re start with a small grouping of stars cards that were in here. A few Peyton Mannings, some 1988 Topps Joe Montana and Steve Young cards, a pair of Jerry Rices, a 1980 Topps “Mean” Joe Greene” and a very very very sharp 1980 Topps Bears team checklist featuring the legendary Walter Payton.

IMG_7062David Boston never really caught on as a top receiver.  Maybe that explains why a mem card of the former Cardinals receiver was in this box.

IMG_7064I loved Upper Deck’s innovation during the 1990s.  One of my favoriter sets the 1994 Upper Deck Pro Bowl inserts.  What’s not to like? It’s a refractor-like finish matched with the epic motion-capturing hologram mug shot. Yeah, it’s Brent Jones, but it is still gorgeous. It goes perfectly with the other 49ers unearthed in this box.

IMG_7063And remember when I said there were rookie cards? Yeah, there were a few dozen.  Three-quarters of the rookie cards were of guys who never mattered at all in the NFL, there were these eight which I chose to feature here.  There was the aforementioned 2007 Score Peterson rookie, as well as rookie cards of Patrick Willis and quarterbacks flops JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn. But the 1988 Topps Brian Bosworth rookies (there were two of them), 1988 Vinny Testaverde, and 1989 Topps Traded rookie cards of Deion Sanders and the late Derrick Thomas really made this box fun to go through. The 1984 Topps Morten Anderson rookie is a bonus. It’s sharp as well, much better than the one I used to own.

IMG_7061Total cost of these Thrift Treasures: $6.98

To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE

 

In Memoriam: Tony Gwynn 5/9/60-6/16/14

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , on June 16, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

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Cards of Little Leaguers are cool, but of babies? Not so much.

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

When I was a Little Leaguer, I thought the coolest thing in the world was to have my own baseball card. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, my league didn’t offer such things in the picture package.

But in 1991, thanks to a Donruss and Milk Duds promotion being held at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum (home of the Oakland Athletics) I finally got my own card, and the good folks hooked me up with Dave Stewart’s awesome 1990 statistics. I was legendary! OK, not quite. Nonetheless, I loved this card. I cherished it. I placed it in a hard case and displayed it with some of the best cards in my collection at the time, most notably my 1985 Topps Mark McGwire rookie.

At the time I was only about four years into the hobby and thought what a cool idea it would be to have cards of present-day stars that showed them when they were my age. I wanted to see what my heroes looked like as kids. And then lo and behold that same year I found a book called “Little Big Leaguers” and it came complete with a sheet of tear-out baseball cards, including this Tony Gwynn, which still sits in my collection.

Over the next two years, Donruss took this concept mainstream and placed in its “Triple Play” set a subset called “Little Hotshots,” which, as you can guess, showed Major Leaguer players as Little Leaguers. Check out this scrawny young Mark McGwire wearing, ironically, an A’s uniform. He actually kind of looks like Kelly Leak from “The Bad News Bears.”

The reason these cards are so cool is that when some kid looks at these, they get to see that all Big Leaguers got their start as kids. None of them came out of the womb with huge muscles and the ability to hit 70 home runs as Mcgwire did in 1998 or hit .394 like Gwynn did in 1994. They had to learn the game, hone their craft and be a kid.

So when Topps came out with the 2010 Topps “When They Were Young” insert set, I was again intrigued because I knew the set would show modern players as kids. The first couple cards I pulled were pretty neat, even if they were of mediocre players.

But then I snagged two cards that really gave me the creeps, those of Alex Rodriguez and Russell Martin.

What on Earth was Topps thinking when it made these two cards showing these pro players as babies? It’s bad enough the baseball card collectors get a bum rap for “collecting pictures of men,” but now we’ve added pictures of babies to the spectrum.

I know there already are cards (1993 and 1994 Classic) that show Alex Rodriguez as a high school player, but why even include him in this set if you’re not going to show him doing something baseball related. Although I will say that we did learn something from the A-Rod card: he ALWAYS had the purple lips.

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Shameless plugs: Don’t forget to vote for Cardboard Icons in Upper Deck’s Best Blog contest. Also, sometime this week I’ll be giving away an AUTHENTIC 1958 Topps Hank Aaron/Mickey Mantle card. See details here.