Tuesday, January 13, 2009

36 Years of Red Sox Cards (Part IV)

OK...here we go...

1999 Topps Traded Juan Pena Autograph
I was lucky enough to be at Fenway for Pena’s major league debut. I remember discussing with my buddy on the way to the game just who this Juan Pena guy was. We had never heard of him, and weren’t expecting much. All he did was strike out ten guys on his way to a victory. Unfortunately, injuries prevented him from shining many more times than that. But, I still remember that game. Which is one reason I like this card. This if from a “Traded” set. The original idea of these sets was to produce a late in the year set to cover player trades during the season. It also included rookies who were called up mid-season, and weren’t included in the main set. After a few years, the rookies became the main draw of the set…collectors wanted the first cards they could get of the hotshot rookie. Topps went the extra mile in 1999 and had some of the rookies autograph their cards before they were released. They included one randomly selected autographed card in each set of Topps Traded. Some of the other players you could get autographs of included Josh Hamilton, CC Sabathia and Alfonso Soriano. But, the Pena is still my favorite because it’s a better story.

2003-Topps Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis just finished the finest season of his career. He came in third in the American League MVP race, and looks to be on his way to stardom. When this rookie card came out, Kevin was still fighting his way up the minor leagues in the Red Sox organization. This card combines a nice action shot of the future gold glover, as well as a close up photo of the Greek God of Walks. Looking at the photos, you’d never guess that this guy would become the anchor of a championship Red Sox line-up. My how times change.

1985-Donruss Roger Clemens
This is a card that I wished I had. The Rocket had three different rookie cards in 1985, and I wanted one of them. This, I always thought, was the best looking of the three. Back when Clemens was starring in Boston, I couldn’t afford this card. Once he was winning championships in NY I didn’t want this card. Now that Sen. Mitchell has disgraced him forever, maybe I should take the opportunity to pick one of these up. I bet I could find this former dream card pretty cheaply. It’s interesting how many people still think of cards as investments. If any card shows the danger of doing that, it’s this one. Not long ago, this was a key card of a sure bet Hall-of-Famer. Now? I wonder what it brings on ebay.

1993-Ted Williams Card Co Ted Williams
In 1993 Ted Williams put out his own baseball card set. Naturally, I doubt it was really all his doing. I got the impression he lent his name, and helped out with the player selection for the set. The selection of players was the coolest part for me. Since the company didn’t have a license to make cards of current players, they focused on retired greats. This was a rare chance to collect cards of legends of the past like Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, and Ted Williams. Before this, an actual Ted Williams card was far beyond any budget I, or most people, had. Now though? I could grab a pack of cards and get one of my own. Amazing. The set was produced for a couple years, then faded away. But, it greatly increased the quality of players in my collection.

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