Sunday, September 29, 2019

Orioles Victory Card Number 54: Topps Stadium Club Review

Baltimore Orioles Victory Number 54: 9-4 over the Boston Red Sox

2019 Stadium Club Mark Trumbo

At this point in my collecting career I'm more interested in completing older sets that I've been chasing for 30 years as opposed to chasing new cards. I still put the flagship together out of habit. That's one box for Series One and one box for Series Two, some hanger boxes and then fill in the rest through trades (currently at 94.1% complete). 

There is another set that I buy just because I love it and that's Topps Stadium Club. I've loved it since I first opened a pack (with a Kodak logo on it) and pulled the Griffey card. For many years it was the go to set for great photography and premium quality cards. Then the love started to fade a little and the brand stagnated. A rebranding to an ultra high end product ($25 a pack!) in 2008 was received with lukewarm sales and the set quietly shuttered for a few years.

In 2014 Topps brought it back to it's basics - Excellent photography, a few popular inserts, and the occasional hits. Let's face it, the autographs are nice, but people aren't collecting Stadium Club for Chance Adams sigs. I've been piecing together the 2015 set for the last few years and picked up packs from 2016-2018. This year I picked up a box when it first came out and then received another for my birthday earlier this month. (shout out to the in-laws who continue to be the only ones that send cards for my birthday).

The two boxes have brought me to 60.5% completion and a couple of inserts have brought in a little cash (thanks Topps and your inability to release a set without photo variations). I will be picking up at least one more box and then hopefully can piece together the rest of of the set through trades.

It's one of the few setts that I try to avoid looking at other previews just so I don't see any cards ahead of time. That helps maintain a sense of "wow" when ripping open new packs. That being said, here are my favorite ten cards pulled from my second box of cards - the in-laws box.

10. Jack Flaherty

The behind the plate view never gets old. Love that they caught Flaherty in full extension with his focus on the hitter.

9. Didi Gregorius

With the new rules limiting contact at second base you don't see quite as many break up slides on double plays. Still, every once in a while there is a play that requires a short stop to go up and over a runner. Here Didi leaps over Ender Enciarte on the fourth of July. The patriotic socks and arm sleeves take it up a notch.

8. Pee Wee Reese

One of those wacky 1950's/60's photos that pop up every now and then. 

7. Chris Sale

The opposite of the Jack Flaherty photo works just as well, even if the game isn't being played. Sale looks even taller with the low perspective angle and is framed nicely by the Sox pennants in the background.

6. Ted Williams

Back-to-back Red Sox cards in honor of their back-to-back losses to the Orioles this weekend. The greatest hitter who ever lived stands in front of a U.S. Marine recruiting poster in 1952 when he re-enlisted to serve in the Korean Conflict. At 33-years-old he flew 39 combat missions and then returned to hit .407 in 37 games during the 1953 season. The card is great, but finding a copy of that poster would be awesome as well.

5. Jim Palmer

The card that inspired this post, it was in the first pack I ripped out of the box. Perfect representation of Palmer's extended leg kick with the classic uniform of the Orioles during their run of greatness in the 1960's and 70's. 

4. Rickey Henderson

A personal collection cameo! Eddie Murray guest stars on this card of Rickey being Rickey. 

3. Brooks Robinson

One of the iconic plays in Orioles history. In Game One of the 1970 World Series, the Reds Lee May hit a grounder down the line at third. Brooks Robinson, 33-years-old at the time, backhanded it and with his momentum carrying him into foul territory he turned a fired a one-hop bullet to first to get the runner.  The photo catches Brooks at full extension as he unleashes the throw. He would on to hit .429 in the series and easily won the MVP.

Sparky Anderson, manager of the Reds, was quoted as saying,

"I don’t see how anybody could do what this guy does. If I dropped my sandwich, he would dart in, scoop it up on one hop and throw me out."

Plus, there's bunting. Bunting always makes a photo more festive.

2. Kole Calhoun

Celebrations are almost as festive as bunting. Not only is it a fun card, but it also features two future hall of famers in Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Calhoun is getting the gum and Gatorade shower thanks to a walk-off home run against the Mariners on July 27th. If you watched the highlights you'll see Trout robbed a home run earlier in that game. That moment was also featured on a 2019 Topps card

1. Brandon Nimmo

I'm a sucker for city skyline cards and this one nails it. Nimmo is on deck at PNC Park in Pittsburgh and the photographer (Justin Berl according to Getty Images) captures the Steel City wonderfully. 

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