Out With A Bang

Relax guys, I’m not about to retire from blogging. Ken Johnson’s reassuring look here should tell you the supposed rumors are far from true. But, I am going out with a bang, as the title says.

Out of what, you ask? Well, with this epic post I am going to finally put to rest all my cardboard acquisitions from 2017. Yes, it’s taken me this long. I’m a terribly tardy blogger. Strap on in if you so desire – it’s gonna be a long one, and quite picture-heavy, so you’ve been warned. There’s some fun stuff in here though, so I hope you’ll at least give it a quick scroll.

This one was actually one of the first Twitter trades I completed. There have been a few more since then, but this mega-trade was really the first I’ve ever dealt with someone solely through Twitter. I managed to run into a fellow Astros fan, Charles, whose handle is @SWLVguy.

Charles is another team collector, and when I pulled up his want list, my heart jumped for joy. Here was someone whom I could burden, er bless, with over 400 of my Astros dupes – and he wanted them! Charles promised to take a look at my lists as well and send over a stack, although I assured him he didn’t need to attempt to match the pile I was sending his way. In the end, he sent back a good 300 cards, almost all of which I needed. So this was quite the trade. There was shiny, there were Bagwells and Biggios, there were crazy inserts, miscellaneous filler, oddballs, and even some sweet, sweet vintage. Just take a look at that 1962 Ken Johnson up there. Ol’ Kenny threw the second no-hitter in franchise history for the Colt .45s in 1964 – and he lost! Yup. He tossed a 9-inning no-hitter against the Reds on April 23, 1964, and lost 1-0. The only run happened when Pete Rose reached in the top of the 9th on an error by Johnson, advanced to third on a ground out, and then scored on an error by Nellie Fox. Joe Nuxhall pitched a clean ninth, and Johnson became the first and only pitcher to lose an official no-hitter. (Official being the key word, as the official definition involves pitching at least 9 no-hit innings). Well that’s some excellent vintage to start off with, so let’s just keep it rolling!

Charles sent over a well-worn 1968 Topps of one of the early franchise icons, Bob “Aspro the Astro” Aspromonte. Well hey, I’m no stickler for condition, so this slid right into the binder. Perhaps I’ll update it someday, but for a 50 year-old card I certainly don’t mind some creases. I already had the Yellen card – only with a little extra ink added to it! This one helped fill my team set needs, seeing as I had my other copy signed by Larry.

We’re still in that tasty vintage land. Here’s a beautiful pair of ’66 Topps, featuring two of the teams starting pitchers who have since passed on. Nottebart actually threw the clubs first no-hitter, in 1963 – and he gave up a run as well! The Colts won 4-1, with the run coming after a J.C. Hartman error and then a sac fly.
Oooh, what’s this? Some 1989 Topps that I didn’t have? Wait, ’89 Topps doesn’t have facsimile signatures – and these look too tall. That’s because they are from the 1989 Baseball Talk set. Yep, Charles surprised me with two sealed packs (they came two cards to a pack) with some ‘Stros on the front. These are very cool oddballs!
Of course, I couldn’t leave those babies hermetically sealed, so I broke them open. My fourth card wasn’t much to speak of, but the other hidden card was this rad Willie McCovey. Into the keepers it goes!

I’ve already got two signed copies of this card – one by Bochy and one by Fischlin – but this one put to rest my 1979 Topps needs.

Here’s a pair of ’81s that also helped kill off a couple team sets. Actually, I think I still need the error variation of the ’81 Donruss Alan Ashby. But, I should have all the ’81 Fleer now that I have the checklist in hand.

Some other early Donruss needs. The #Dadhat is strong with Mike. ’84 Donruss gets all the love – it’s a pretty elegant set, but the ’85 cards aren’t too shabby either.

Nolan! Well there goes the big ticket card for my ’85 Fleer team set. It was very nice to pick up some OPC needs as well.

Oh man. We’re into the late 80’s. It’s prime box set and secondary set time for all those card makers. Here’s a nice pair of Mike Scott cards I needed.

Another Fleer box set card of Kevin Bass and a glossy All-Star of Mike Scott.

More cards of Baseball’s Hottest Stars thanks to Fleer. I’m not sure if Dave Smith actually had that kind of buzz going on – I know he was a quality closer, but were people outside Houston talking about him? Someone 5-10 years older than me please fill me in.

Yeaaaaah, gotta get that late 80s gold. A Super Star mini (Topps Sticker “back”) of Glenn Davis from 1989, and an Eric Anthony Sportflics. That’s a pretty neat Sportflics design.

MOAR FLEER BOX SET CARDS. Simple, red bordered, hitting and pitching studs. This haul really did a number on my late 80s Fleer box set needs.

Casey at the Bat! Complete with the tongue hanging out. I’m pretty sure I already had the Ultra, perhaps not the Leaf. At any rate, these slotted into my Crazy Casey PC.

Here’s something you don’t see every day: 1994 Finest. I could never find these back when I was a kid. I’ll spare your eyes from squinting to read the nameplates: Scott Servais and Steve Finley.

Here’s another Servais card – this one showcases what happens when the 1994 Flair nameplate more or less works. 1995 is when parallels went crazy, so it was only fitting that I was able to add a Silver Signature John Hudek from the Collector’s Choice SE set.

1995 Leaf is an absolutely beautiful set. FIGHT ME. I’ll probably build it some day. I rather like the ’95 Pinnacle set as well, and this shot of Gonzo ripping down the wall while making a catch is great.

Ah, Pinnacle Aficionado: for the cultured, sophisticated baseball card collector. I was still missing some of these. It’s also fun to see early cards of Hidalgo, given that he didn’t really explode onto the scene for a few more years.

Snagged a fancy Derek Bell card too. Operation Shutdown says let’s shut this place down and go have a cigar already.

A couple short-term names from the late 90’s that I remember. Thomas Howard was a 4th outfielder for a hot minute. Halama had some nice stuff, and this 1998 Bowman chrome refractor is nice too, but he was shipped off in the Randy Johnson trade.

Outfielders running the bases! The numbering on this Topps Gallery set has always bugged me. That tiny number underneath Derek’s name is the card number, and if I recall right, it doesn’t appear on the back at all. 1998 brought us the first installment of Opening Day, and the bloated blight has persisted ever since. I needed this Gonzo, though.

1998 also saw the birth of Topps Chrome. I’ve never been a huge fan of this set, either, but I get it. I was a fan of the speedy Chuckie Carr ripping up the basepaths, however.

Ooh, more shiny Finest. I think these are 1999 and 2000 editions. Always fun to see skinny Lance.

Would you like to see some textured Craig Biggio cards? Well I’ve got those too! That 2000 Metal set was really something else. The weird shadow on the Topps Stars card is, well, weird.

Speaking of the 2000s, that means it’s time for some of the guys from the second (third?) era of my fandom to show up – like Morgan Ensberg here! I picked up his Bowman RC and a nice Turkey Red as part of the trade.

Oh look – it’s Jeff Kent, as a Giant, on an Astros card. Hm, that’s weird, we already have a second basem – wait, what in fresh hell is this? Craig Biggio is now an OF? All kidding aside, I do like both of these sets. In fact, I dig pretty much everything Playoff put out, and last year I managed to track down a not insignificant chunk of base cards from several of their mid-aughts sets.

Say what you will about this man, but watching him pitch here in Houston was really something else. Sure, maybe it was ‘roids or HGH or something altogether different, like the simple rest of not having to pitch on the road and only being at the ballpark on his throwing days, but a 40 year-old dude was dominating like crazy. I am officially on team “Put ’em in the Hall” when it comes to these guys.

These may have been my first taste of 2004 SPx, but I can’t quite recall. Charles may have even knocked out my set needs. At any rate, it was nice to pick up another Bagwell and a sweet Beltran.

Speaking of Carlos, his 2004 Upper Deck isn’t too shabby either! Not that you can read the foil nameplate in the dark background. Adam Everett is trying to pull off his best Carlos Beltran impression here. Everett actually looks pretty spiffy in the Sunday alternate red uni and his eye black.

Hey, it’s our friend Morgan playing Superman! I’m not real big on most Topps past 2003, but I do love how they made the player icon mimic the photos in 2004. It makes this particular card extra fun.

This Brad Lidge is a nice throwback to something you might have seen as a 50’s-60’s oddball, with the minimal design and the geometric nameplate. I can dig it. Notice the space shuttle patch on his right sleeve as well. I have no idea where Jared Gothreaux (sounds like a Louisiana dad giving his son practice instructions) is standing, but I do like picking up some gold parallels. Stay tuned…

Whoa! That’s a baby-faced Hunter Pence from Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects on the left! What a nice little pickup. I love how crazy Pence’s batting stance looks on the Bowman Platinum card as well. I’m hoping I can meet the ol’ local coffee shop owner some time in the offseason.

I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the 2009 design is actually pretty nice. Certainly better than ’05 through ’08. Pence may have been my last base card need, and Carlos started chipping away at the Chrome needs. You may have noticed that this is the first appearance of those absolutely godawful pinstriped Astros uniforms in this post. That’s not entirely by accident; I wish I could strike them from the history books altogether.

Here we have two of the free agents that were supposed to really pick this team up a decade ago. That, well, didn’t happen. The Matsui is really nice in hand, but as is the case with Bowman from around a decade ago, I’ve totally forgotten what year it is from. 2010, I think? Upper Deck X was actually a pretty small set – I should be able to finish my non-hitzzzz needs with relative ease.

More gold! I think Wandy put my 2011 Bowman needs to rest as well.

Ugh, it’s the final Upper Deck baseball set. UD needs a comeback far more than Donruss does. And there’s another thing we don’t see on cards anymore – an Astros pitcher batting!

Prospects that have moved on to happier homes. J.D. is mashing, and Villar found a pretty nice fit in Milwaukee.

You want the shiny? Well we got all kinds of faceted shiny up in here! 2011 Topps is a nice design as well. I was pretty happy picking up these Diamond Anniversary and Cognac parallels.

More Pence! That’s a Kimball’s Champions mini on the left. Those are really neat. Wait – is that the same Pence photo we saw earlier, with a wider crop? *Scrolls up.* Yup, it sure is.

Gentlemen, we have our first card of an Astro still with the team! That means we’re in the home stretch. Happy to find a Bowman Chrome RC of Dallas Keuchel in this package. I will always have a love for Jon Singleton, despite the fact that he never panned out. I don’t see Bowman’s Best that often, so this was another nice find.

I might be wrong, but I do believe this duo took care of my prospect needs for 2012 Bowman Platinum. Perhaps not, but either way it was nice to pick them up.

And not only did this trade allow me to pick them up, but also it provided me with the Purple Refractors as well! Thanks Charles!

Looks like we’ve struck gold foil! Also, let me just mention real quick how awkward this crop is.

Yup, Charles was able to do a nice little number on my parallel needs.

Brian Bogusevic even got in on the shiny foil parade two years in a row. 2013 is the better card design, but 2012 clearly got the better photo here.

Another couple of guys who made it to the big league club for a hot minute. I think I’m getting pretty close on the 2013 red parallels. I don’t target minor league cards on my want list really, but I am always happy to give them a home.

Georgie Boy! There were several Springers in this box, including these two Panini rookies. The one on the right is from one of their special holiday sets. Father’s Day, perhaps?

Sweet! this Stassi/De Leon rookie put to bed my 2014 Heritage needs. I’ve got a copy signed by Jorge, now I just need to get Max to sign one.

Speaking of 2014 Heritage, Charles was able to help me out with the High Numbers that I was missing! That’s a nice, stylish McHugh there. The ‘Stros finally let my boy Jon Homerton go. I was still holding out a sliver of hope that he was going to put it all together, because it was really fun to watch him hit right field bombs.

Charles managed to knock off all my high number needs for the set, with these two handsome outfielders closing out the bunch. Yeah, I said it – handsome fellas. You gonna disagree with me?

This last Biggio was a dupe, but I’ll happily add another Biggio RC to my collection. I think I have 10 or so of it now. I’ve got several more to trade, too, in case anyone would like a nice HOF rookie card.
Finally, Charles wasn’t sure if I would be wanting this last one as it’s technically not an Astros card, so he reached out and inquired as to my interest before shipping everything off to me. The answer, of course, was a resounding yes! I was pretty darn excited to add this George Springer auto from Panini USA Champions to my collection!

Thanks again for a great trade, Charles! I imagine our next one won’t quite reach the epic 700+ card swap we pulled off, but here’s hoping I can help you with some more Astros cards in the future.

0 Replies to “Out With A Bang”

  1. Wow, that's a whole lot of 'Stros! My favorites are the '89 Baseball Talk cards and the Springer at the end. I buy more than I should of the USA products hoping to hit players like Springer and Bryant and I always walk away with the guys who flamed out in High-A ball. LOL
    Also liked the Scott Servais card… Did you see his knew haircut, courtesy of Edwin Diaz' 50th save?

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