Back in October, Johnny hit me with a box out of the blue – and not just a little box, either. This was a small flat rate, packed to the gills! Sure, I had a little chunk of it already, but there was plenty to love and lots of fodder for my team bags that I’ll give away at Astros games this year.* Let’s dig into some of the highlights.
*Note to self: I should take packs to the Astros FanFest if I go next Saturday.
In 2000, Bowman had a set of parallels called Retro/Future. It was a full parallel set that was a nod back to the 1955 Bowman television set. Current players were in the “retro” style, which was an older tube tv, and the rookies/prospects were in this extremely 90’s, squared television with speakers down the sides. They are foilboard, and scan like crud, but this Roy Oswalt rookie was my favorite among the little group I received. And speaking of shiny Oswalt cards, this ’04 Finest was another real nice addition of our former ace.
Ooof. Shiny cards of another guy that I have to refer to as our former ace. I’m pretty bummed out about Cole signing with the Yankees. I mean, I expected it, and we’ll be fine, but I was just hopeful that Crane might agree to shell out for this guy. I suppose that makes it “easier” to sign Springer long-term after this season. But they’re already putting up a $5 million gap in arbitration, so I don’t know why I’m hopeful.
Enough about all that, though. These Cole cards are awesome: a chrome parallel from 2018 Heritage, a gold holo border from 2019 Donruss (which looks reaaaaaal good with the Astros colors), and a Flamethrowers insert from 2019 Fire. These are all real sweet, and I would’ve had a hard time putting them in a trade, so thanks Johnny! You’re a better man than I.
Alright, more shiny stuff! A great rainbow foil parallel of Marwin Gonzalez from 2015 Topps, and another of Lance McCullers from 2017 Opening Day. Well, technically that second one is an “Opening Day Blue” parallel, or whatever, but these rainbow foil cards really pop with the Orange alternate uniforms.
Alright, time for some minis! The Howe is my second copy, but that just means that it’ll go toward one of my slow rolling Kellogg’s set builds. Well, the copy I already had will go toward that, this one looked superb and replaced my bindered copy. I don’t remember if the McCullers was a base mini or an A&G back, but I’ve really fallen hard for tobacco minis lately. I think it’s the BCW 20-pocket pages which I learned about this year. There’s just something about a full page of them that looks spectacular – way better than the 15-pocket Ultra-Pro versions with all that empty space.
One of the really fun parts of this package was a still sealed 1992 Osceola Astros team set. This was the rookie ball team at the time, and while the bottom row all went on to enjoy time with the big league club, I couldn’t get over those country club baseball names like Kenneth Wheeler Jr. and Gary Christopherson. Also, it was a little surprise to learn that Jack Billingham was a pitching coach in the Astros system for a bit.
More minor league fun! These are from 1990 Best, and I landed several of the Columbus Mudcats (AA) cards, including an Al Osuna that I’m sure will make Nick V. jealous, with its minor league glory, Mother’s Cookies design rip, and Stanford player trifecta. Again, the names that get lost in the minors just floor me. Bernie Jenkins and Fred Costello, such good names.
Thanks to another trade around this time, Johnny was able to finish off my 1994 Leaf Limited Rookies team set. Here we have a gorgeous issue, featuring a trio of Tony Eusebio, Brian Hunter, and James Mouton.
Johnny also did big numbers to this Topps Total team set, sending along about half of the club, including a Silver parallel of Wilfredo Rodriguez. This is a really solid design. The only modification I would make would involve replacing the Topps Total logo with the team logo.
Speaking of parallels, there was a good chunk of the Astros from the 2000 Topps Home Team Advantage set. These feature an extra foil stamp and I believe were only available to specific hobby dealers. I imagine they came as boxed sets and are slowly getting broken up by modern collectors who stumble across them, although that’s wild speculation and I could be wrong. The 2000 cards bring to mind the mixed-uniform releases of 1994, when the team went to the blue and gold shooting star unis. These were the opposite, and featured the team departing from one of my favorite getups into probably the worst set from franchise history. You see, there were pinstripes – and Astros should never wear pinstripes.
Wait, what’s different here? Well, there was also a bevy of the Limited Edition parallels from 2000 Topps. These feature a heavy gloss coat on the stock, and actually feel real nice in hand.
The duo here featured a pair of new Killer B’s for the collection, coming from what I think is generally a nice 2004 Donruss design. If they cut back on the repeating cubes and just let the banners stand on their own, I think this would be really good. Also, it’s nice to see that Columbia Shuttle memorial patch on Biggio’s sleeve.
Finally, there was this batch of puzzlers. I had a heck of a time figuring out what these were – they are all small stickers, about postage stamp sized, and other than names on the front feature no other identifying markings. I had to use my knowledge of the team roster to nail down just when these were released, and to my joy I discovered that I’d acquired a near full team set of the 1990 Publications International Trivia Stickers. The only one I’m missing is Biggio, and that may be something I have to shell out for, as I’ve never seen one of these in the wild.
Thanks again for the box, Johnny! It had a bunch of nice surprises inside, and I really appreciated it.