’tis the season

It’s that time of year again, when minor league baseball clubs across the United States begin making the current team sets available- usually in the form of one of the more popular stadium giveaway promotions on their schedule. As “Team Set Eve” rolls into the Rio Grande Valley and pretty much ensures that I get a fitful night of sleep (at best), I thought I might as well use the up time productively and review the 2007 Albuquerque Isotopes team set to give you an idea on what you missed out on last summer.

2007 Albuquerque Isotopes team set
Official Score – RBI DOUBLE
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
SGA sponsor: Waycor Materials, Inc.
SGA date: Thursday, June 7, 2007
Final game score: Isotopes 11 – Memphis Redbirds 8
Attendance: 7,461 (first 3,000 received free cards)
Retail price: $5.00 (as high as $17.95 on secondary market)

Checklist: 35 cards
1 – Waycor truck
2 – Dean Treanor (manager)
3 – Steve Phillips (hitting coach)
4 – Rich Gale (pitching coach)
5 – Steve Miller (trainer)
6 – Reggie Abercrombie (of)
7 – Robert Andino (inf)
8 – Chris Ashby (c)
9 – John Baker (c)
10 – Kenny Baugh (p)
11 – Brett Carroll (of)
12 – Roy Corcoran (p)
13 – Rich Dorman (p)
14 – Nate Field (p)
15 – Jeff Fulchino (p)
16 – John Gall (of)
17 – Chris George (p)
18 – Chad Hermansen (of)
19 – Paul Hoover (c)
20 – Ben Julianel (p)
21 – Josh Labandeira (inf)
22 – Paul Mildren (p)
23 – Justin Miller (p)
24 – Frankie Moore (inf)
25 – Valentino Pascucci (of)
26 – Johnny Raburn (inf)
27 – Eric Reed (of)
28 – Ricardo Rodriguez (p)
29 – Scott Seabol (inf)
30 – Todd Sears (inf)
31 – Nic Ungs (p)
32 – Ross Wolf (p)
33 – Matt Yourkin (p)
34 – Isotopes Park overview
35 – Orbit (mascot)

First, no gimmicks or short prints! Still not sold, let me continue…

The Isotopes choose to run with MultiAd’s black bat and baseball (Style M) template, which was one of the more popular choices among Pacific Coast League teams in 2007. One disadvantage to that choice was that it only added to the overall DARKNESS of the cards when combined with black jerseys. Card thickness was typical for a minor league set, sort of a starched card stock- certainly nothing to get excited about. Surface treatment was glossy of course. The backs consist of two-color (black and red) printing over white matte, typical player stats and short bios.

One of the noteworthy items pertaining to this set is the first card that depicts a Waycor cement truck with the ballpark in the background. In addition to sporting the stylish Isotopes logo, the mixer portion of the truck includes a giant photograph of Robert Andino- an ideal situation for autographers in that this provides two cards from the same set in which to obtain the signature of one of the more talented young fielding shortstops in the game today. There was some sort of issue with the layout process as this card has a blank white space along the lower margin. As far as I know, this exists on every one of this particular card as there was only a single print run. Although the regular card of Andino in the set provides a decent action photo (albeit poorly cropped), oddball cards almost always make for a fun conversation when talking to a player.

The telephone pictured on the Rich Gale card probably has the fine folks over at Dinged Corners giddy with anticipation over what sorts of old technology will be represented in the 2008 team set. Perhaps Orbit will be messing around with a George Foreman grill.

Of the 31 player and coach cards, 26 are wearing black jerseys. Can you say too much of a bad thing? Had a photo like the one of Frankie Moore been used but with a white uniform instead of black it would arguably be one of the best cards in the set. Instead, it is one of several that lack adequate real estate for a decent autograph. Six of the players in the set are wearing red jerseys, and only one (Todd Sears) is wearing white. The bonus points the Sears card warrants from having a white uniform are discarded due to the fact that his face is obscured by his batting helmet- making the card completely useless for player identification.

All things considered, the “best” card is the set is infielder Johnny Raburn, who appears to be legging out a base on balls. Raburn walked 6 times during the 2007 season while maintaining a .292 batting average over 48 at bats in 21 games with the Isotopes. Raburn was deported to Carolina a couple of weeks prior to the release of the team set, resulting in a logistical nightmare in attempting to get his card signed.

Another bonus in this set is the Isotopes Park overview card (no. 34). Cards like this are excellent for using to obtain autographs of players that weren’t included in the team set for any of a number of reasons. I elected to use my stadium card to obtain one of the flashiest autographs from pitcher Mauro Zarate.

Although I scored this team set as an “RBI DOUBLE,” those of you who aren’t familiar with the Pacific Coast League and haven’t heard of most of these players could justifiably record this one in your book as an “RBI SINGLE with the runner advancing on the throw to the plate.”

Subjectively yours,

– Kris

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