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Baseball Card Collector’s Corner

Something that dates almost as far back as Alexander Cartwright’s Knickerbocker Rules are baseball cards. You know those little pieces of cardboard with pictures of players on them, in a shoebox, somewhere in your parent’s attic. Well, did you know these cards can bring some pretty significant monetary value? Of course you did, you’re smart! But these little cardboard pieces of art also bring quite a bit of sentimental value to us “baseball cranks” as well.

Littering around my apartment in binders and boxes are baseball cards, ranging from Barry Bonds‘ rookie cards to Micah Hoffpauir Iowa Cubs cards. Some are way more meaningful to us than others, but all are unique and special in their own right. (Note: The dozen Wes Helms 2004 Brewers team set cards I have are in no way, shape, or form special.) I love my cards and like most baseball fans, I collected them as a kid. As I grew older, the hobby somewhat gave way to new ones and my cards were put into storage. Recently I had an idea, one that was resilient, highly contiguous; an idea I could not eradicate. The idea was to start collecting baseball cards again. So I went out and bought a 2015 Topps pack. I knew that when I bought it I’d be reviewing my findings here, while comparing and contrasting these cards with my already significant stacks.

I opened the pack and kept in mind my critical vision. The first card I opened was a David Phelps New York Yankees card. I waited eight years to buy a pack of cards and the first one I got was David Phelps?!? A guy who is a spectacularly average player for the evil empire, sigh.

Let me back this up for a second; why did I choose Topps over other fine card companies? Because it’s the 64th consecutive season of a full-sets worth of cards they have released. Also Jackie Robinson was featured on the cover of the packs this year; I even got one! More on that is coming in a second.

Onwards and upwards, I moved to the next card after my disappointing David Phelps one. An Anthony Rendon the Nationals’ infielder who had a 6.6 WAR in 2014! Even more exciting, these new look Topps cards had the sabermetric WAR on the back alongside the more standardized statistics.

This was a 72 card set, so I won’t review each card; ha ha! Amazingly, out of the 72 cards, I got ZERO Rockies. The closest I came to a Rockie was a Tyler Colvin Giants one. Some of the cool cards I did get (pictured below) were a Babe Ruth three homers in a game card (1928 World Series), a Jackie Robinson UCLA basketball card, a Steve Carlton card, a Hunter Pence game four of the 2014 World Series card, and a Carlos Gomez robbing a home run card. I really like the way the 2015 Topps set looks, all around, from the aforementioned special cards compared to the regular ones in the set. The team logo radiates in the bottom right hand corner of each photo, while the team’s primary color slowly works its way up to the top along the border to collide with a greyish-white top border. Our eyes start on the bottom because that is where the player name is featured this year. Topps did a really good job working in the team’s secondary colors that show in small amounts on the borders and are used to show the players field position. Overall, I’m a big fan of this year’s set.

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Interestingly enough, this is a Rockies blog, and I did not get any cards of Rockies’ players. So I googled what they looked like.

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Once again, I like it. Below is the full nine-card team set.

$_35

They are a huge improvement over the 2014 Topps’ Rockies’ cards.

2014 Topps Factory Team Set Colorado Rockies #COL-2 Troy Tulowitzki718ALWRdCIL._SY355_

I LOVE THE PURPLE! Really, look how much better the one on the right (2015) looks over last years.

But how does the 2015 design look compared to the old ones? Let’s find out.

I grew up a Cubs fan, so I don’t have that many Rockies cards, but I do have some. I went through my collection and found some favorites and some I giggled at. A cool one I have is a Ryan Turner Upper Deck card that I featured on the cover of this story. Turner was the first player signed by the Rockies. Turner never made the big club, though he did hit a grand slam in the series clinching game for Visalia in Class A ball during the first round of the playoffs in 1992. He was one of six Rockies players to play for the Minnesota Twins’ affiliated Visalia club. My favorite Rockies card of all time that I own is an Upper Deck Larry Walker 2003 “0 standing” card.  It’s a circular cutout of a baseball with Larry Walker in the foreground. It’s not your traditional card because it’s not rectangular, but it makes for a cool look.

IMG_5107IMG_5109I have four Todd Helton cards. A Topps Sporting News All Star card from 2003 (top left), an Upper Deck Pros & Prospects 2005 card (top right), and a Topps 2004 Total Production hologram card (bottom right). My favorite Helton is from the 2007 Topps set (bottom left) which happens to be my favorite card set, maybe of all time. More pictures of that in a second. This ‘07 Helton though is white instead of black, because it’s a special edition opening day version.

IMG_5115The ‘07 Topps set is such a nice design that the copied autographs barely take away from the card. The team name on top with the player name on bottom makes the card feel really balanced. The four squares that make up a larger square in each corner with the team’s primary and secondary color is a great touch to what would be a plain black and silver card otherwise. Below, we have former Rockies Jamey Carroll, Jason Giambi, Royce Clayton, Mark Ellis, Clint Hurdle, and Brian Fuentes.

IMG_5121Next, we have some really nice looking non-Topps cards. Two Dante Bichette Donruss 1996s (one is a Leaf Preferred which is owned by Donruss), a Fleer 2005 Aaron Miles, and an Upper Deck Vintage 2003 Juan Pierre. The Upper Deck Vintage series is like the Topps Heritage set. This Juan Pierre is really sweet, besides the fact that he’s already on the Marlins. Similarly, I generally love Fleer cards for their old-school style. This Aaron Miles fits into that category. I love the color cream; yes, I think those Giants Jerseys are terrific, here it’s the same. Cream and baseball go together like peas and carrots. The Donruss’ Bichettes are super ‘90s and I’m 100% okay with that. Bichette was all about the ‘90s and you might as well have the card that represents the era.

IMG_5124Next, we have some more former Rockies. The G.O.A.T. Jason Jennings on a 2005 Topps Total, that happens to be an uber 2000s-ish card. I was never a fan of things from the middle 2000’s and this card looks meh, but it’s Jason Jennings!!! I warned you, I grew up a Cubs fan. Joe Girardi was always loved by Chicagoans, since he is from Peoria, Illinois and went to Northwestern. I loved him because he’s the first catcher I remember distinctly in a Cubs uniform and his run-through-a-wall (literally, he tried to run though the brick backstop at Wrigley the year after the moved it closer to the plate because he didn’t realize how close they had moved it) playing style made me want to be a catcher. I have a 2001 Upper Deck Vintage (top left) , a 2001 Fleer Ultra (top right) , and a Donruss ‘90 (far right). I have the entire Donruss ‘90 set and I don’t know why, but it’s a cool looking set. The ‘01 Fleer Girardi is really cool and one of my favorites. Then we have former Rockies hitting coach and former AL batting champ, Carney Lansford. The bottom left is a Fleer ‘83 with a classic baseball card look. Baseball card vandals made a fantastic parody of this card. The bottom right Lansford is even cooler. It’s from the 100th anniversary Red Sox Fleer set. It has a 100 cards and came with a Red Sox toy truck. It’s an absolute beauty of a set that I picked up in Michigan City, Indiana in 2001. Look how sweet that card design is.

IMG_5125Now we have the current Rockies players. 2006 MVP Justin Morneau! A real cool set counting his home runs up to number 34 (his total number for 2006.) On the front it has the date, park, and number. The back has the pitcher he hit off of and the situation when it was hit, inning, and men on base. The 2007 Topps set is called Now Generation which featured many stars of the game. On the bottom left is a 2006 Topps and on the top left is a 2007 hologram Topps Own the Game card. On the back are the RBI leaders from 2006 that takes away from the card, but it’s still a sweet card.

IMG_5129This one is really cool and I didn’t know I had it until I looked through my cards in anticipation of this story, a Tyler Chatwood Bowman/Topps card. This is from 2008 and happens to be Chatwood’s draft card.

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The only active Rockies player I have with a Rockies card is… Jorge De La Rosa! The man who pretty much made me a Rockies fan! The card is nothing special, but it’s JDLR, so that’s cool! Here is the 2009 Topps JDLR.

IMG_5134That’s all that I’m going to share of my Rockies cards. I have like 10 Bret Saberhagen‘s and some random old Rockies prospects, but onto a few way cooler non-Rockies cards I have.

Here is a 2004 Fleer “Greats” Honus Wagner. Okay so it’s not the T206 and it’s about 100 years past the actual date Wagner played, but you want to see something really cool about this Wagner card? On the left sleeve, you can see a black band. You know what that is? It’s the black armband worn by all clubs in memory of National League president Harry Pulliam. He committed suicide during the 1909 season after his controversial ruling on Merkle’s Boner.

IMG_5136The next one is more novelty than value. Remember when Ken Griffey Jr. played for the White Sox for 41 games? Yeah, that was strange. Here is a 2008 Topps card from then.

IMG_5141Now, onto my cards worth the highest of value emotionally to me and probably financially. First, a 1987 Greg Maddux Donruss Rated Rookie (#36). The Mad Dog was one of my favorites and this card is of top-notch perfection. Just look at that facial hair from the 20 year old future Hall of Famer.

IMG_5145Another rookie; 1987 Topps Rookie card of arguably the greatest player ever, Pittsburg Pirates rookie Barry Bonds! The ‘87 Topps is sweet with the fake wood down the sides and the Bucks logo for the Pirates. An overall fine baseball card!

IMG_5137I still find it amazing that I have a Mr. Cub card, let alone one with his jersey embedded in it. A 2004 Ernie Banks Authentic Materials Ultimate Collection card. There’s nothing left to say, so here is a photo of the card, of course, with a case on it.

IMG_5139Lastly we have one more HoFer; Mr. Willie Mays on a 2003 Topps Record Breakers certified autograph issue card. I assume someone would pay a lot for this. I’m not sure, though, but this card is awesome. Willie Mays signed it!

IMG_5144Thanks for spending time with me as I opened up a 2015 Topps pack. I hope you enjoyed my card collection; what’s yours?

About Jake Shapiro

Born in Chicago, raised in Boulder, I fell in love with the Rockies in 2009 and beautiful Coors Field soon there after. I played baseball throughout high school, stopping after a bevy of injuries (Hi Mark Prior). Now I umpire Little League, and write/podcast about the Rockies and Buffs.
I attend the University of Colorado at Boulder, where I enjoy long walks on the beach, romantic get-a-ways… oh this isn’t a dating profile.

2 Comments on Baseball Card Collector’s Corner

  1. I got back into card collecting a couple of years ago (though I always bought a complete set of Topps every year). The bulk of my collection is from the 80’s and 90’s (my childhood). I remember my dad saying that those cards would be worth a lot in 20 or 30 years. Well, not so much. That period of time saw a glut of cards produced, most of which were very low quality. Today, those cards are worth the same, if not less than they were worth then. But the saddest thing I learned, through talking with one of the very few baseball card shop owners left in the Denver area, is that cards featuring players associated with steroids are toxic, thus essentially worthless. I enjoy collecting now and have even found a couple of very good websites dedicated to card trading (they even facilitate the trades), allowing me to connect with other traders to help complete each other’s sets.

  2. That’s the Ryan Turner card from my blog…

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