Hu’s on second (sometimes)

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Granted, it would have been more accurate if I had entitled this post “Hu’s on Short,” since that is where Chin-lung Hu spends the majority of his time on the diamond, but it didn’t sound as funny. The awful truth is that for the past season or so, Chin-lung Hu hasn’t been spending nearly enough quality time on first, which is the main reason I’ve chosen to stock up on his baseball cards – my belief that he will open the 2009 season in Albuquerque.

I also wanted to use Dr. Hu’s cards as visual supplements to this second installment of my understanding of the 2008 Topps Stadium Club baseball card product line. I am confident that such a discussion would be completely useless using words alone. I remain unconvinced that the visual aids are going to help all that much either.

As of this moment, I really only technically need one card of one player (Carlos Quentin) before I stick the proverbial fork in this turkey. One thing I need to decide is whether I will hang onto my duplicates to offer in trade, or dump them on eBay while there is still any demand for bunches of these cards.

At any rate, here we go… again.

There are 150 non-autographed cards listed on the printed checklist that Topps inserted into seemingly every fourth pack. That is the portion of the set I am discussing here. Cards 1 through 100 include images and stats of veteran players and dead guys. After that, things get a little more complex.

I have yet to see for myself, hear, or read of anyone finding a plain old base card for cards with numbers that are evenly divisible by “three.” That is not to say that they don’t exist. In fact, I suspect they do exist, and either have been, or will be distributed unevenly among major Topps stockholders in an effort to talk them down from window ledges.

Thus, the “base” cards with numbers evenly divisible by three appear to be those bearing the foil 1st Day Issue stamp. Hold the phone, there are short-printed, non-1st Day Issue versions of these cards, and they are serial numbered to 999 on the back. There are also serial-numbered (to 599) short print 1st Day Issue foil-stamped parallels of the rest… I think. I’m not sure because I didn’t purchase a hobby box.

Still with me?

Good. Now let’s examine the Rookies (numbered 101 – 150). Keeping in mind that the aforementioned “rules” of the veterans and corpses more or less also apply to the Rookies, there is the added twist that each Rookie card has two different images. Time to bust out some scans…

First, this is the base card for Dodgers shortstop Chin-lung Hu (card no. 133-a). For those of you who haven’t gone to the fridge for beer, 133 / 3 = 44.33333333etc. Thus, we’ll have none of that “power of three” nonsense with this card.

hu_chin-lung_08_topps_stadium_133_a

Nice photo of Hu poised to make a ghost tag of second base after receiving the ball from the third baseman to kick off a typical major league double play. Nothing up the sleeve so far! This is what the back of this card looks like.

hu_chin-lung_08_topps_stadium_133_back

Here is a scan of Chin-lung’s variation (no. 133-b-690/999). Moderately short-printed and serial numbered on the back to 999, I think I could have dealt with this set if the madness had ended here. As you can see, the photo is significantly different from the base variation type “a.” However, the backs of the two cards are identical (ignoring the serial number).

hu_chin-lung_08_topps_stadium_133_b_690-999

Next up is the 1st Day Issue foil stamp variation of the card we just examined. I’m calling this thing no. 133-b-1d. One item I noticed while looking at this photo is how far Hu is outside of the batter’s box. I wonder if that has anything at all to do with his plummeting batting average.

hu_chin-lung_08_topps_stadium_133_b_1d

So far, each of the three cards exhibits the same back (again, overlooking the foil serial number where present), and all three are identical in all other dimensions… width, height and thickness.

Thickness? Oh no!

Because I can, and since the checklist provided by Topps is completely lacking in any real information, I have arbitrarily numbered this next card 133-a-1d-T-187/599. Similar to the base card in many ways, this specimen is also quite unique. Yes, it bears the silver 1st Day Issue foil stamp on the front. It is also serial-numbered in gold foil on the back. Less obvious from the scan is the fact that this card is mounted on some sort of foam board, making it approximately as thick as two and a half of the regular cards- justifying the “T” in my numbering system. I believe these variations are only available in hobby boxes…

hu_chin-lung_08_topps_stadium_133_a_1d_187-599

Now do you have it? That is unfortunate, because I’m not finished.

I can’t imagine that there are fifty collectors foolish enough to attempt building a master set of these cards, but if there are, I have bad news for one of you. I have in my possession a gold foil, serial-numbered (to 50) photographer’s proof card of Chin-ling Hu, and do not anticipate ever releasing it back into circulation. Here then is a scan of Hu’s 133-b-PP-44/50.

hu_chin-lung_08_topps_stadium_133_b_pp_44-50

So we have every reason to believe that there are at least five cards for each of the 50 rookies. Other variations that MAY exist include a gold photographer’s proof variation for the base card (133-a-PP-##/50), blue foil photographer’s proof cards for one or both variations, and possibly even photographer’s proof cards for both variations also stamped with the 1st Day Issue silver foil stamp- although that seems like overkill.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would ever think that anyone else would want to build a set of what, some 450+ cards of only 150 players. I currently have 201 “different” cards, and this exercise stopped being entertaining about, oh, 75 cards ago. I am beginning to think that the proper thing would be to drop the entire mess onto eBay and let some other poor bastard deal with them.

I can’t wait to begin hearing about any error cards that may have been released for this set. It should be fascinating! I’m also on pins and needles waiting to read that someone has discovered a card that features a different back.

I’m not positive, but seem to recall that Chin-lung Hu is one of those players that will sign one card per person per day or game. That’s fine. If that proves to be the case, I already have enough of his cards to last through the 2009 All-Star break. But please keep offering them in trade as I can always exchange them with fellow graphers at Isotopes Park. Besides, players often tend to become “better signers” as they begin putting up better numbers, and I can’t think of a ballpark in the United States that will prove more beneficial to Hu while working on his power stroke.

For the record, I like Chin-lung Hu’s 2008 Upper Deck Goudey card more than any of his cards in the 2008 Topps Stadium Club baseball series.

– Kris

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2 Responses to “Hu’s on second (sometimes)”

  1. zman40 Says:

    I saw Hu last year in OKC and he will sign two cards. Supposedly, you can even ask him to sign his name in his native script.
    I liked the title of the post. I saw Hu in Jacksonville in 2006 and they were selling “Hu’s on second (or short, don’t remember)” t-shirts.

  2. nmboxer Says:

    Brilliant summation. Plus if you are correct about where he starts the season, we’ll get to see him at Isotopes Park. (We hope that we see you too, so we can hand over a box o’ cards.)

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