Tuesday, September 30, 2014
I've been on Twitter for about a month now.
On a personal level, I don't use it much. I've never been much of a social media guy, and I don't make a habit of broadcasting my life every second of the day.
However, Twitter is a godsend for the odd, random card-related thoughts that seem to pop into my head at any given time. Fractured ideas I have that wouldn't fit into a big, official blog post.
That's why I've come to appreciate Twitter over the last month ago. A quick scan, 140 characters, and boom, it's out there.
I've connected with quite a few fellow bloggers on Twitter and chatted with them in ways that the blogs don't really allow. I also had "The Baseball Card Song" post I wrote shared by one of the actual members of the The Baseball Project (Josh Kantor, keyboard player), which was a truly gratifying experience.
And, as it happens, I completed by very first Twitter trade a few weeks ago with a Twitterer (is that right?) with the handle @NYYankeesCardz. As you might guess, I sent him a stack of Yanks in our swap.
When he initially approached me for a trade, he asked what I collect. If you read my blog at all, you might realize how much of a troubling question that is for me. I barely know what I collect, so how am I supposed to explain it to someone else?
I basically told my fellow Twitterer to send whatever he wanted.
Thankfully, he put together a pretty nice selection for me.
Along with the '72 mini Hamels at the top of this post was a nice stack of 2014 Bowmans. People seem more and more eager to unload these as the years go by. Makes sense, considering I've never heard of anyone trying to build a Bowman base set.
Though the Darvish, Zunino, Fielder, and all the other you see on this page were new player collection hits, my far and away favorite was the Matt Harvey International parallel at the center.
Topps did a fantastic job with those beauties.
The rest of the package was basically a smorgasbord.
Among the goodies were these Topps UK minis, staples of almost every repack I've ever purchased.
I'm probably closing in on a complete set by now.
Also included for no apparent reason was a bundle of '92 Fleer.
It's not the flashiest set in the world, but it still has its high points.
I guess it makes sense that a Yankee fan would want to get rid of as many Mets cards as possible.
The Johnson is yet another hidden gem from '92 Donruss, a set that is slowly starting to win me over. And, although my "Tom Terrific" collection is over 200 cards strong, that awesome Action Packed issue was new to me.
That's another set that doesn't get its fair due.
Maybe I'll tweet about it one of these days.
My favorite card out of this first Twitter swap, however, was this strange shot of Mr. Nolan Ryan himself.
Singles from the All Ryan, All The Time '91 Pacific checklist are about the most common dime box suspects you'll ever find. About 95 percent of my dime digs seem to result in at least a couple cards from the set.
Most of the shots, as you might guess, feature Ryan on the baseball field. Still, Pacific had the odd idea of sprinkling in a few off-the-field images of the harrowing hurler.
Ryan was, from what I've read, an actual cowboy when he wasn't firing 100 MPH fastballs on the ballfield. He raised cattle, ran a farm, the whole nine yards. He's seen here lounging in his cowboy duds, lasso and all.
Not anything I ever thought I'd see the likes of on a baseball card.
Thus ends a historic day in Dime Boxedonia. My first-ever Twitter trade.
I don't know what my tweeting future will bring, but I'm always on the hunt for ways to further express my love for the hobby.
Twitter seems like a perfect place for that.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
The dime box frankenset, Page 31: Numbers 271-279
Let's take a look at how last week's frankenset voting turned out.
Win -- 1992 Upper Deck #268 Mike Benjamin (11 votes)
Place -- 1978 Topps #267 Doug Ault (9 votes)
Show (tie) -- 1973 Topps #263 George Scott, 1997 Topps #266 Eric Owens (6 votes each)
I tend to think this was a bit of an upset. As perhaps the most "throwback" card ever, Mike Benjamin took down two strong vintage competitors with the Scott and Ault. I myself voted for Ault because of the backstory behind it.
The 35 total votes in this round were the most we've had in the short history of this frankenset. A huge thanks to everyone who made their voices heard last week.
Let's see if we can keep those vote totals going for today's frankenset page.
Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a nominee for card #276 in this frankenset.
As a result, this week's page will only feature eight competitors.
Let's meet them, shall we?
1992 Upper Deck Minors #271 Eduardo Perez
One of the few minor league multiple-exposure shots I've ever seen.
2014 Topps #272 Carlos Villanueva
Long live the handlebar!
1973 Topps #273 Chris Speier
A beautiful play at the plate that only '73 Topps could produce.
1999 Topps #274 Brian Hunter
The stolen base bandit at work.
1971 Topps #275 Vada Pinson
A fantastic post-play at the play shot with a bonus Thurman Munson cameo.
1992 Donruss #277 Delino DeShields
An action-packed double dip with another notable cameo, this time from Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine.
1997 Topps #278 Orlando Merced
I spy everything from hats to programs to tickets in this nice horizontal autograph shot.
1997 Stadium Club #279 Scott Servais
The intense collision at the plate that we'll probably never see again.
There's your look at this week's nominees. The polls are now on the sidebar.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
And he helped
Pop culture is a subject that, for whatever reason, has fascinated me for as long as I can remember.
I don't mean to sound all supreme by saying this, but I don't know how many people my age listen to the Velvet Underground or have seen Manhattan. Those areas of pop culture just aren't hot topics among most 22-year-olds.
As cultured as I may think I am, though, I fully realize that I have a lot left to learn.
Daniel of the fantastic blog "It's Like Having My Own Card Shop" recently put out a plea for extra 2014 Topps Opening Day blue parallels. I happily sent him a few of my spares and he was nice enough to send a random package of goodies back my way.
In the note he included, Daniel told me that he found most of the cards he included in a discount bin at his LCS. Among the many gems he sent was this '77 Topps Bake McBride.
McBride (and his massive 'fro) has become a bit of a pop culture phenomenon since his playing days. The fact that I wasn't yet collecting him seemed like blasphemy.
I instantly changed that, putting his beautiful '77 issue in my binders and loading up my Just Commons cart with everything they had of McBride. When I let Daniel know of his much-appreciated inspiration on Twitter, he replied...
So I can say, "It's Shake n' Bake. And I helped."
I was actually angry at myself for not getting the reference.
This young 22-year-old whippersnapper had to go look it up.
I guess one reason I'm so drawn to baseball cards (and especially vintage) is because they're all individual pieces of pop culture.
The Scott is especially memorable, and I honestly don't know how I didn't already own a copy of it before Daniel came along.
The Money, on the other hand, was completely new to me. Last I checked, the Brewers weren't wearing pinstripes in 1973. And that neon-blue cap is a masterpiece in and of itself.
One of the more humorous pieces of pop culture you'll ever find.
I often wonder if we'll be looking back on more modern baseball cards with the same sense of nostalgia in 40 years.
Will starry-eyed collectors be singing the praises of Ryan Klesko and his 2003 UD Victory issue in the future? I like to think so.
I've actually had this card for a long time and never really thought much of it. That is, until I noticed a couple eagle-eyed fellow bloggers point out something that I'd missed this whole time.
Is...that...a bag of fast food in Klesko's hand? Sure looks like it to me.
Daniel suggested that Klesko was holding a KFC bag. That sounded right to me at first. Not too long ago, however, I saw a comment on another post that said the bag is from Del Taco.
We don't have Del Tacos here in the Midwest (as far as I know), but I'm about 95 percent sure that the bag Klesko is holding is in fact from the franchise.
I'm 100 percent certain that this is the first fast food cameo I've ever seen on a baseball card.
These were also among the many terrific randoms Daniel sent.
I understand the premise behind the Soriano. Donruss just wanted him to show off his massive biceps, bro.
The Miller, on the other hand, has me flummoxed. I've looked at it about a dozen times and have absolutely no explanation as to what is going on.
That is, unless he's trying to get into Hogwarts.
The rest of Daniel's batch was devoted to finding as many awesome mini-collection needs as possible.
Pitchers at the plate are great, but horizontal pitchers at the plate are even better.
A couple fantastic new double dips here.
If you haven't figured it out yet, 2003 Upper Deck is a prime place to look for top-notch photography.
UD Fortyman is like the poor man's Topps Total.
The checklists were up in the 900-card range and featured a lot of relievers and backups that often get ignored in this hobby. The main difference was that Fortyman packs cost $2.99, while Total had that more affordable 99-cent price tag.
That aside, Fortyman is still a nice set.
Both of these were new hits to my "autograph" and "broken bat" themes.
Daniel dug up a couple fantastic "play at the plate" and "anthemic" issues with these two.
Gene Larkin is one unhappy camper.
Of all the fantastic mini-collection hits Daniel found, this was by far the most fascinating.
What we have here is a nice "throwback" shot featuring...the Marlins?
I always assumed the Marlins never wore throwbacks. It's not like they have a long history of different jerseys in their arsenal. The mysterious gray uniform Josh Beckett is sporting in this shot certainly didn't come from their teal-green '90s days.
So what's the deal?
A little research quickly took me to a Marlins-Mets game played on July 16th, 2002. The Mets wore throwbacks to honor their 1986 championship squad. That presented a bit of a problem, seeing as how the Florida Marlins didn't exist in 1986.
In order to keep the throwback theme going, however, the jerseys they wore that afternoon honored the 1982 Miami Marlins franchise, which was the Florida State League (single-A) affiliate of the Oakland A's at the time.
A big league squad paying homage to a single-A team.
Now I've seen it all.
Well, not really.
Friday, September 26, 2014
If you think about it, checklists were one of the earliest means of cataloging one's collection.
Kids could fill in little boxes and see that, hey, they only needed Jeff Calhoun and Jim Acker to complete their 1986 Topps set!
The checklist cards themselves, though, really didn't need to be anything special. I'm sure thousands and thousands of people have tossed their nondescript checklists over the years. I'm one of them. I'm not a set builder, so I don't have much use for a baseball card without a picture on it.
I think some companies recognized that and tried to make their checklists at least a little more entertaining. They didn't have to, by any means. It's not like I minded checklists being full of blank boxes and random names because, well, they're checklists.
Nevertheless, I have managed to find my own little niche in the checklist industry.
Checklists today are actually pretty cool.
Almost all the ones you'll find in 2014 Topps feature awesome horizontal photography commemorating a specific milestone. Most are limited to big names (Harper, Puig, Trout, etc.), but that doesn't mean they can't be fun.
And, if we flip it over...
...we get the sacred checklist.
I think Topps slips about five or six different cards from the Highlights series into every set. You'll put together the full 330-card checklist if you manage to track each of them down.
Topps still puts the little blank boxes next to each name, but I doubt anyone still fills them in anymore.
Ain't no way anyone is writing on their cards these days.
It was a different story 50 years ago.
Kids wrote, scribbled on, and generally loved their checklists. The past owner(s) of this '67 Topps checklist evidently had big names like Podres and Brock in their collection. (The only unchecked cards I have from this bunch are Bud Harrelson and Al Downing.)
Cards like these are interesting pieces of history on their own. I don't mind standard Topps vintage that have been written or scrawled on in the past, but checklists are the only time I actually prefer it.
Blank checklists don't have a lot of intrigue.
Plus, to add icing on the cake, this one can double as a neat piece of my Jim Kaat collection.
Like the Kaat, floating heads on checklists are always preferred.
I found this one at the flea market a couple weeks ago and have loved it more and more with each passing day.
The Mick makes this checklist.
Collector's Choice played around with the "checklist milestone" thing back in the '90s.
This one commemorates Eddie Murray's ranking atop the all-time leaderboard in games played at first. The picture itself is memorable, but just look at all the different colors. Yellow, pink, black, green.
Certainly one of the grooviest checklists around.
Donruss stayed fairly low-key in the early '90s.
Because of that, one awesome innovation they introduced to the hobby tends to get overlooked. As far as I can tell, they were the first company to feature action shots on their checklists.
Most of them are miles better than anything in their standard set, which leaves me wondering why Donruss didn't simply make a Mike Bordick card out of this one.
Like anything else, checklists were gimmicked for a short time.
In 2006, Upper Deck short-printed a handful of the checklist cards in their Update series. I speak from experience in say that these things are nearly impossible to find. This Vlad is the only one I've come across in eight years.
That seems kind of counterintuitive to me.
Forgive me, UD, but doesn't short-printing a checklist kind of defeat the purpose of a checklist? How are you supposed to know what you need if you can't find out what's in the set in the first place?
Seems kind of stupid.
I guess I can't stay too mad at Upper Deck. The checklists in their 1993 release are some of my all-time favorites.
Turning a picture that includes Barry Bonds and Will Clark into something special isn't easy. But Upper Deck did it.
I don't know how, but they did.
With all the technology out there, I guess there's not a real need for actual cardboard checklists anymore. But yet they still exist. I'm glad they do.
Checklists are another area of the hobby that don't get appreciated as much as they probably should.
There's a whole wide world of them out there.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Short Term Stops: The All-Dodgers Team
I don't know if I've ever written a more well-timed post than this one.
As you might already know, the Dodgers clinched the NL West with a resounding 9-1 victory over the Giants last night. I'm convinced that Clayton Kershaw is and might always be the greatest pitcher I'll ever see in my lifetime.
I think it's safe to say we'll be seeing him dominate in the Dodger blue for a long, long time.
That said, tonight's post isn't about the Kershaws of the baseball world. We're here to discuss the more short-lived players in Dodger history.
It's no secret that the boys in blue have the biggest following here in the blogosphere. I can think of probably about five or six different blogs devoted to the Dodgers off the top of my head, and I'm sure I'll be hearing all about the team's playoff run in the coming weeks.
Tonight, though, I hope you'll join me in taking a look at some of the more forgotten Dodgers.
1982 TCMA #21 Wes Ferrell
"Short Term Stops" Dodgers Accolades:
Wes Ferrell (1940 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1 game)
We start off with a rare "ultimate" short-term stop nominee.
It's not often you see a card of a guy who played in one game for a particular franchise, yet that's exactly what we have here.
Six-time 20-game winner Wes Ferrell (note the misspelling on this TCMA issue) pitched in exactly one contest for the 1940 Dodgers, giving up three runs in a four-inning relief appearance for a 6.75 ERA. (He earned a no-decision.)
I honestly didn't know that Ferrell was a one-game wonder until I did a little research for this post last night. Funny, considering I've had this card for years.
The discoveries in this hobby never end.
1995 Topps Archives Dodgers #216 Tom Lasorda
Tom Lasorda (1954-55 Brooklyn Dodgers, 8 games)
Tom Lasorda cemented himself as one of baseball's greatest personalities during his 21 years at the helm of the Dodgers.
What sometimes gets lost to history, however, is that he had a mediocre stint as a pitcher for the franchise in the mid '50s.
He played in eight games (two starts) for the Dodgers over two seasons, posting a 7.62 ERA and never registering a decision. He'd close out his short big league career with the A's in 1956.
This card of Lasorda on the 1955 Topps design doesn't really exist. It's a faux-reprint that was included as part of the gargantuan 1995 Archives Dodgers checklist.
It's a dream of mine to one day own Lasorda's actual rookie card.
2007 Topps Update #UH-15 David Wells
David Wells (2007 Los Angeles Dodgers, 7 games, half-year stint, sunset season)
This card looks like it belongs in a beer league oddball set, not Topps Update.
I'll hand it to Topps, though. Although this isn't a great photoshop job, they went out of their way to include David Wells in their Update checklist in '07.
"Boomer" signed with the Dodgers in late August of that year after being dumped by the Padres a couple weeks prior. That left barely over a month for Topps to get him into Update. But doggone it, they did it.
Wells pitched what would turn out to be his final seven big league games with the 2007 Dodgers, going 4-1 with a 5.12 ERA in those contests.
If this card didn't exist, I'd probably never remember that David Wells once donned the Dodger blue.
Mudcat Grant (1968 Los Angeles Dodgers, 37 games)
Octavio Dotel (2010 Los Angeles Dodgers, 19 games, third-of-a-year stint)
Greg Maddux (2006, '08 Los Angeles Dodgers, 19 games, sunset season in '08)
1992 Topps #45 Gary Carter
Gary Carter (1991 Los Angeles Dodgers, 101 games)
The Dodgers have a lot of strong short-term stops candidates at the catcher position, but I can't go against The Kid.
Gary Carter hit just .246 with six homers during his lone year in Los Angeles. He'd return to the Expos for his final big league season in 1992.
This is one of 14 different cards I own of Carter as a Dodger, and not a single one of them looks right to me.
Sandy Alomar Jr. (2006 Los Angeles Dodgers, 27 games, half-year stint)
Mike Lieberthal (2007 Los Angeles Dodgers, 38 games, sunset season)
Brad Ausmus (2009-10 Los Angeles Dodgers, 57 games, sunset season in '10)
2010 Topps Heritage #418 Jim Thome
Jim Thome (2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, 17 games, half-year stint)
The few issues I own of Jim Thome as a Dodger exposed a loophole in my organizing methods.
I've said in the past that I defer to the position listed on each individual card in sorting my collection. It's a fairly efficient method, but a few problems have popped up over the years. This is one of them.
The White Sox traded Jim Thome to the Dodgers late in the 2009 season. He managed to get into 17 games during his short time in Los Angeles. In those 17 games, he collected exactly 17 at-bats. He was exclusively a pinch-hitter as a Dodger, never playing a single inning in the field for the franchise.
And yet I classify him as a first baseman. That's because all my cards of him with the Dodgers list him at first. Makes sense, considering I've never seen anything from Topps with a pinch-hitter designation.
Although part of me has always considered making a special pinch-hitter section in my Dodgers binder for Jim Thome, I've kept him at first.
My OCD just won't allow it.
Moose Skowron (1963 Los Angeles Dodgers, 89 games)
Al Oliver (1985 Los Angeles Dodgers, 35 games, half-year stint, sunset season)
Doug Mientkiewicz (2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, 20 games, sunset season)
2000 Pacific Crown Collection #139 Craig Counsell
Craig Counsell (1999 Los Angeles Dodgers, 50 games, half-year stint)
I've always been a huge Craig Counsell fan.
I remember being fascinated by his odd batting stance as a kid. That, admittedly, is what first drew me to him.
It wasn't until later that I found out Counsell scored the game-winning run in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Or that he was once a Dodger. The Marlins sent him to Los Angeles in June of 1999 for the immortal player to be named later.
Counsell would play in 50 unremarkable games for the Dodgers, hitting just .259 in that span. For a long time, I assumed he never had a card issued in the Dodger blue. That changed when I found out about this obscure Pacific issue earlier this year.
It's one of the centerpieces of my growing Craig Counsell collection.
Orlando Hudson (2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, 149 games)
Mark Loretta (2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, 107 games, sunset season)
Ryan Theriot (2010 Los Angeles Dodgers, 54 games, half-year stint)
1988 Pacific Legends #107 Zoilo Versalles
Zoilo Versalles (1968 Los Angeles Dodgers, 122 games)
Zoilo Versalles is probably the most obscure player to have ever won an MVP award.
He captured the title with a remarkable season for the '65 Twins, leading the AL in runs, doubles, triples, and total bases.
Just three years later, he was hitting a miserable .196 for the '68 Dodgers.
Versalles is the definition of a one-year wonder.
Jose Hernandez (2004 Los Angeles Dodgers, 95 games)
Angel Berroa (2008 Los Angeles Dodgers, 84 games, half-year stint)
1998 Ultra #233 Paul Konerko
Paul Konerko (1997-98 Los Angeles Dodgers, 55 games)
Perhaps the biggest tragedy of this year's Jeter-mania is the fact that baseball has basically ignored the legacy of another legendary player.
Though he'll never be as well-remembered as Jeter, "Paulie" (one of the few Hawk Harrelson monikers I actually enjoy) is a Chicago icon and perhaps the most underrated player of his generation.
Because of his ties to the White Sox, it's easy to forget that Konerko came up as a Dodger. Drafted as a catcher, he began his career as a hybrid first/third baseman. (The majority of my 43 Dodger cards list him at third, so under that position he goes.)
He'd be traded to the Reds midway through the '98 season. Cincinnati, in turn, traded him to the White Sox for Mike Cameron prior to '99. The rest, as they say, is history.
Having lived my entire life around the Chicago area, I'll probably miss Paul Konerko more than Jeter after the 2014 season comes to a close.
Phil Garner (1987 Los Angeles Dodgers, 70 games, half-year stint)
Adam Kennedy (2012 Los Angeles Dodgers, 86 games, sunset season)
Michael Young (2013 Los Angeles Dodgers, 21 games, half-year stint, sunset season)
1971 Topps #650 Dick Allen
Dick Allen (1971 Los Angeles Dodgers, 155 games)
I can say with absolute certainty that this is one of my favorite baseball cards in the history of baseball cards.
I virtually begged my dad to get it for me for Christmas a few years ago, and he graciously came through. This is the only normal-sized card (see: Topps Super) I've ever seen of Dick Allen as a Dodger. The dreaded vintage high-number/short-print combo makes it a tough find.
By Dick Allen standards, his lone season in Los Angeles wasn't up to par. Then again, a .295/23/90 slash line (with a .395 OBP) is nothing to sneeze at.
Dick Allen doesn't smile on a lot of his cards, but he's flashing a wide grin here. And let's not forget about the beautiful Dodger Stadium backdrop. Oh, and we also get the erroneous leg of a Topps photographer in the bottom-left of the frame as well.
How could I not love this card?
2003 Upper Deck #598 Rickey Henderson
Rickey Henderson (2003 Los Angeles Dodgers, 30 games, sunset season)
Rickey Henderson never actually retired from baseball.
He became a free agent after his lone season as a Dodger in 2003 and no one signed him. But Rickey never officially called it quits.
Henderson picked up the final three of his whopping 1,406 career steals in Los Angeles, hitting a meager .208 in just 30 games for the franchise at 44 years of age.
Knowing Rickey, I wouldn't rule out an age-55 comeback here in 2014.
2010 Topps Update #US-206 Garret Anderson
Garret Anderson (2010 Los Angeles Dodgers, 80 games, sunset season)
I've noticed that Garret Anderson's only season in Los Angeles has become kind of an in-joke among Dodger fans.
If someone is going through a rough patch, I'll often hear a crack about the guy being in "Garret Anderson territory" or something along those lines.
It's fitting, since Anderson hit a miserable .181 with the 2010 Dodgers, his last season as a big leaguer. It always saddens me to see a great player go out with a whimper.
At least Topps was nice enough to send him off with an awesome card.
Frank Robinson (1972 Los Angeles Dodgers, 103 games)
Kenny Lofton (2006 Los Angeles Dodgers, 129 games)
Bobby Abreu (2012 Los Angeles Dodgers, 92 games, half-year stint)
That does it for this edition of "Short Term Stops".
See you next time.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Tripping the wax fantastic
Though I had an immense amount of fun digging through the Junior Junkie's mega-box a couple weeks ago, I saved one extra-special item for last.
The unfamiliar beige color of one particular unopened pack T. J. sent along didn't ring a bell with me at first. Imagine my surprise when I took a closer look at the wrapper.
My love for '95 Fleer has unwittingly become kind of a running theme throughout this blog's history. It is, I think, the most polarizing set ever made. You either love it with all your heart or hate it with every fiber of your being. There isn't much middle ground.
I'm proud to admit that I'm part of the former. I know T. J. is as well. And, well, that might be it. We '95 Fleer lovers are vastly outnumbered, but I'm fine with that.
I've found stacks and stacks of cards from this set from dime boxes over the years. Other bloggers have been nice enough to send a healthy amount of singles my way as well. Before this box, though, I'd never opened (or seen, for that matter) a pack of the stuff.
I find it funny that Fleer chose a muted color like beige for the fronts of these wrappers.
It left you so unprepared for what was actually inside.
#349 Darrin Fletcher (NL East)
I can only imagine what collectors in 1995 thought when they opened a seemingly innocent pack and this.
Cards that, for lack of a better term, look like they were designed on acid. I've come to unofficially designate it as the "LSD set" for this very reason.
As you might already know, there are a handful of different wild designs within the 1995 Fleer base set.
At first, I thought they were assigned to each individual player at random. Soon after starting this blog, however, I found out that there was a method to Fleer's madness. The design is actually based on the division of the team featured on the front.
Since the Expos are, er, were in the NL East, Darrin Fletcher was given that eye-popping infrared setup.
#156 Gary Gaetti (AL Central)
Mr. Gaetti and all his fellow AL Central companions, on the other hand, received this demented rainbow design.
The sheer craziness of this set is surprising considering that Fleer's 1994 and '96 efforts are two of the most toned-down designs in history.
I guess we'll never know exactly what was going on at Fleer headquarters in 1995.
#183 Graeme Lloyd (AL Central)
It's hard for me to remember, but the Brewers were once in the AL Central.
To most older collectors, I'm sure the Brew Crew will always be an American League team. Since I started getting into baseball in the late '90s, however, they've always been a National League squad to me.
Another striking aspect of '95 Fleer is the fact that it includes stats such as height, weight, and birthplace on the fronts of the cards. Those, of course, are usually relegated to the back.
A quick look at the front of this one will tell you that Graeme Lloyd is one of the few big league players born in Australia.
He also helped touch off one of the biggest brawls in history.
#562 Trevor Hoffman (NL West)
I don't know if Trevor Hoffman was viewed as a star in 1995, but he was certainly on his way.
He put up 20 saves with a 2.57 ERA in the strike-shortened 1994 season, his first as a full-time closer.
Something about this design reminds me of that Hall of Mirrors thing they always used to set up at carnivals around here.
#157 Greg Gagne (AL Central)
You might remember former closer Eric Gagne pronouncing his last name as gahn-YAY.
So, this must be Greg gahn-YAY, right? Nope. For whatever reason, he pronounced it GAG-nee.
Which is it?
#519 Joe Girardi (NL West)
Another one from the Hall of Mirrors design.
I wonder if people saw Joe Girardi as future manager material back in 1995.
#10 Alex Rodriguez, Major League Prospects insert
If it were still 1995.
It's funny that the inserts are actually the most muted cards from this entire set.
#94 Shawn Green (AL East)
The AL East look might actually be the sanest of the six designs.
This. A card with random hues of orange and red. A card with horizontal and vertical lines of stats strewn all over the place. The most normal.
You silly goose, 1995 Fleer.
#149 Jim Thome (AL Central)
Jim Thome was coming off his first big season in 1994, hitting 20 homers in just 98 games that year.
We catch him right at the beginning of his stardom here.
#297 Doug Strange (AL West)
The Texas Rangers were actually leading the AL West when the strike hit in '94.
With a 52-62 record.
Like the NL East, this design has a bit of that infrared thing going as well, only it's an eerie shade of bluish-purple this time.
Kind of seems like something you'd see out of The Blob.
#329 Scott Servais (NL Central)
All six divisions accounted for. Scott Servais was the lone NL Central representative in this pack. Of course, he'd show up in that rainbow-like AL Central design if this set were made in 2014.
As far as 1995 Fleer goes, this is a pretty tame look.
Although the bottom bluish half of it does kind of make Servais look like he's about to drown.
#41 John Valentin (AL East)
The pack closes out with our second AL East representative, this time with an icy shade of blue dominating the front.
Let's call it the Igloo design.
Sadly, that brings the craziest pack of baseball cards I've ever opened to a far-too-sudden end.
It's mind-boggling to think of a set like this ever being on the shelves. I mean, could you imagine what would happen if something like 1995 Fleer came out today?
The only explanation I have for the craziness of it is that Fleer was simply trying to get people's attention in 1995. The hobby (and the game, of course) wasn't on its strongest legs after the embarrassing 1994 player's strike.
I think Fleer just tried to make the most attention-grabbing set possible. That's just my theory.
I'm not sure if it worked back in 1995, as I wasn't collecting then. But it's certainly sucked me in during my years in this hobby.
I don't care what anyone thinks or what anyone says.
1995 Fleer rules.
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