Archive for the ‘Albuquerque Isotopes’ Category

krismas day triple play

December 25, 2009

One of the neatest aspects of immersing oneself in minor league baseball is that doing so affords the opportunity to follow your favorite players for a longer period of time than if you had waited to “discover” them once they become an everyday player in the majors. Of course, this argument makes the assumption that your favorite minor league players not only make that leap, but also make it stick when they do.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 45)

Born within a Bill Mazeroski moonshot of Honus Wagner’s birthplace, shortstop Josh Wilson was destined to play ball. I first met Josh during the 2004 season when he joined the Albuquerque Isotopes. A completely likable fellow, Wilson approached both games and practices with determination to perform to the best of his abilities and to improve at every opportunity, making him one of my favorite players for the two seasons he was in town. The thing I like best about Josh’s character is that he even takes his clowning around seriously. Wilson would be a positive influence in any professional baseball clubhouse.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – chrome no. TCRC12 1752/1952)

With that having been typed, the man himself has probably been involved in as many trades as have his baseball cards. Over a span of only five years, Wilson has donned major and/or minor league uniforms for the Marlins, Rockies, Nationals, (then Devil) Rays, Pirates, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres and Mariners.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – chrome refractor no. TCRC12 305/552)

I hit the trifecta when Josh autographed all three versions of his 2006 Topps 52 Rookie card for me this past summer while back in the Duke City playing for the Tacoma Rainiers. If all goes well, he will return again in early April when the Seattle Mariners play a two-game Spring Training series against the Colorado Rockies at Isotopes Park. It will be a pleasure to watch him running, diving and making dazzling plays while wearing a Seattle uniform.

– Kris


mr. jones and me look into the future

December 24, 2009

Mitch Jones autographed his 2006 Topps 52 Rookie card for my collection during the first few days of his only season with the Albuquerque Isotopes. Over the course of the 2009 season, Jones launched 35 homers to capture the coveted Joe Baughman award and earned a $7,000 bonus in the process. You can bet that bonus was well spent on shelving to house all of the hardware Jones earned during the 2009 season including being named the Isotopes MVP, PNM Power Hitter of the Year, PCL All-Star and being added to the Topps Triple-A All-Star team. I probably forgot a few awards, but you get the idea…

Mitch Jones (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 260)

In spite of the fact that Jones had a card in the 2006 Topps 52 Rookie set, he actually didn’t make his Major League debut until being called up to the Los Angeles Dodgers during June of the 2009 season. If Jones can heat up in the Florida sun this spring, chances are he will hit his first of many Major League bombs playing for the Atlanta Braves.

–  Kris

clines cornered

November 1, 2009

Although I probably owe all readers who have spent any amount of time in New Mexico an apology for the title of this posting, I just don’t see that happening. Instead, let’s check out some kool baseball cards. These are all 1975 Topps cards that I got autographed in person during the 2009 season.


Gene Clines – 1975 Topps no. 575

A hitting coordinator for the Los Angles Dodgers, Gene Clines made a few trips to Albuquerque during the 2009 season to help Isotopes hitters fine tune their approach at the plate. I was fortunate to have caught up with the “Roadrunner” after one of the games while he was hanging around outside the ballpark enjoying a smoke. Unfortunately, it was too dark for me to tell whether Gene was wearing the World Series ring he earned with the Pirates in 1971.


Glenn Abbott – 1975 Topps no. 591

I’ve gotten cards signed by Glenn Abbott before, but I never had his 1975 Topps card when I’ve seen him. One of the advantages of completing a set is having a card of every player contained within on hand in the event that you get an opportunity to meet them. I still need a few cards to complete my 1975 Topps set, but luckily, I was able to pick this one up in a trade before the Portland Beavers visited the Duke City near the end of summer. Abbott pitched a perfect inning on September 28, 1975 against the (then) California Angels in what proved to be the first four-pitcher combined no hitter in Major League history.


Don Money – 1975 Topps no. 175

Having set the major league record of consecutive errorless games at the hot corner at 86 with 257 opportunities during the summer of 1974, Don Money handled this card flawlessly after he agreed to autograph it for my collection. The four-time All-Star appeared in the 1982 World Series with the Milwaukee Brewers. Money is currently the manager of the Nashville Sounds. Don’s current signature is amazingly similar to the facsimile signature that was applied by Topps 34 years ago.


Jim Slaton – 1975 Topps no. 281

Jim Slaton served as the Isotopes pitching coach during the 2009 season, so I had a great number of opportunities to get this card autographed. That does not mean that I appreciate it any less. A teammate of Don Money and the Milwaukee Brewers, Slaton won Game Four of the 1982 World Series.

– Kris

allen and ginterings

July 8, 2009

How do I prepare for the release of the 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball cards? Well, for starters, I like to look back at the previous sets and marvel at what a fantastic product it is. Tired and in need of being retired? I think NOT. These cards are smokin’!

Of course, we’ve all seen them, and most even have the majority of at least the base cards. As such, plain ol’ base cards don’t merit scanning and posting here. Instead, here are scans of the various Topps Allen & Ginter cards I have gotten autographed in person over the past three months.


Jeff Weaver – 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 167

It sucks that I’ve only gotten one card from the 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter set autographed in person this year. Of course, that is the main drawback to a product with a relatively small number of players included in it- most of them aren’t going to be appearing in many minor league games.


Greg Reynolds – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no.139

Greg Reynolds applied his fantastic signature to his 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter card recently while passing thru town with the Colorado Sky Sox. In spite of how often I rant and rave about other baseball cards that I like to collect, I would be hard-pressed to name another product that “takes” an autograph as well as the Allen & Ginter cardstock.


Jason Schmidt – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 337

Jason Schmidt has been rehabbing with the Isotopes for a short while. If you aren’t sure what he looks like in street clothes, I suggest looking for the 6’4” dude surrounded by a group of people seeking autographs.


Rich Thompson – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no.291

Rich Thompson was “down” with the Salt Lake Bees when they swarmed the Duke City earlier this season. Thompson is nothing short of all-serious on the mound, but an extremely pleasant player to talk to before he puts on his game face, or after his work is done for the evening. If you are wondering what the mini version of Thompson’s 2008 Allen & Ginter card would look like signed, here you go.


Rich Thompson – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 291 mini


Brandon Wood – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 312

For those of you who track such things, Brandon Wood seems to have doubled up and is now willing to sign two items per fan. I didn’t ask him why he had changed his routine when he was here with the Salt Lake Bees. I also saw him sign the sweet spot of a baseball this year. I found that significant because I once watched as he refused to sign the sweet spot for a fan during Spring Training in Tempe, Arizona, explaining that the sweet spot is reserved for the manager’s signature.


Chin-Lung Hu – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 22

Hold onto your caps, it’s a Chin-Lung Hu trifecta! First, a regular sized card signed in English then a second signed in Hu’s native Taiwanese. I’ve heard several people ask Hu to sign in Chinese, and the end result is the same. Listen, I’m a baseball card collector, not an orthograpist, so I don’t know which is correct. For all I know, asking a Taiwanese person to write in Chinese may be equivalent to calling a square a rectangle. Sure, I could ask Chin-Lung at some point, but I would rather congratulate him on a game well played while he is signing my cards.


Chin-Lung Hu – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 22 (Taiwanese auto)


Chin-Lung Hu – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 22 mini

Obviously there isn’t a heck of a lot of time for chitchat when Hu stops to sign his mini version of his 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter card!

Although I will be collecting the 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball cards, I am undecided whether I will bust out of the gates with the new product, or wait and attack it with blaster boxes once they begin to filter into Target. More than likely I will invest my blaster box funds on a couple of Joel Rosario mounts at Hollywood Park Thursday in an attempt to parlay it into a hobby box.

– Kris

2009 albuquerque isotopes team set (P)review

June 17, 2009


If you already have tickets or otherwise plan to attend the Omaha Royals – Albuquerque Isotopes game on Thursday, June 18, 2009 and do not want to see images of the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set before you have one in hand, DO NOT continue reading. Instead, you should revisit this post after the game if you are interested in my thoughts on the cards.

On the other hand, if you are in the area and trying to decide whether or not you want to go, I urge you to read on and keep in mind that team sets will be distributed for FREE to the first 3,000 fans through the turnstiles. After that, team sets will be available for purchase in the stadium team shop, or via the internet.


2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set
Official Score – COMPLETE GAME two hitter
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
SGA date: Thursday, June 18, 2009
Retail price: tbd

After setting the bar high with their 2008 team set, the Albuquerque Isotopes certainly delivered a first pitch strike by including a checklist on the back of the team photo card- the first of 35 cards in the 2009 team set. The team photo features a crisp, bright image with the players dressed in white uniforms.


1 – Isotopes team photo (checklist)
2 – Tim Wallach (manager)
3 – John Moses (hitting coach)
4 – Jim Slaton (pitching coach)
5 – Greg Harrel (trainer)
6 – Giancarlo Alvarado (p)
7 – Danny Ardoin (c)
8 – Henry Bonilla (p)
9 – Dee Brown (out)
10 – Nick DeBarr (p)
11 – Blake DeWitt (inf)
12 – A.J. Ellis (c)
13 – Shawn Estes (p)
14 – Sergio Garcia (inf)
15 – Charlie Haeger (p)
16 – Jamie Hoffmann (out)
17 – Chin-Lung Hu (inf)
18 – Mitch Jones (out)
19 – Hector Luna (inf)
20 – Luis Maza (inf)
21 – Brian Mazone (p)
22 – James McDonald (p)
23 – Eric Milton (p)
24 – Valentino Pascucci (inf)
25 – Xavier Paul (out)
26 – Miguel Piñango (p)
27 – Dwayne Pollok (p)
28 – Stephen Randolph (p)
29 – Jason Repko (out)
30 – Jovanny Rosario (out)
31 – Scott Strickland (p)
32 – Erick Threets (p)
33 – Jeff Weaver (p)
34 – Sophie
35 – Orbit (mascot)

The cards are non-glossy, and therefore require no surface treatment prior to autographing. The 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set utilizes MultiAd’s “Style O” template on the front, and “Style 4” template on the back. Card backs consist of two-color (black and red) printing over white matte, with player stats and short bios. Player headshots on the card backs are essentially a cropped, greyscale version of the image depicted on the fronts.

The light grey borders help lighten the overall appearance of the cards. The set contains one card each of the Isotopes coaching staff, trainer, mascot* and fan favorite Sophie. Manager Tim Wallach and his coaching staff are all depicted in black jerseys. I find Jim Slaton’s card the more engaging of the non-player cards. This card demonstrates that random candid shots make for better baseball cards than posed headshots.


(*There is a non-numbered variation of the mascot card that is not included in the official team set. In a nutshell, the second card was printed with the set, but will be distributed by Orbit during “personal” appearances. If you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to have one, I would recommend asking in the team shop if you can purchase an uncut sheet.)

The 28 player cards include a nice mixture of different uniforms that helps keep the team set interesting. This mixture includes nine black, eight white, six red and five Dodger blue uniforms. Uniform aficionados should note that the blue uniforms are only worn during Sunday home games. Similarly, the team set contains generous helpings of prospects and major league veterans.

Half of the player cards in the set feature pitchers. With the exception of Charlie Haeger, all were shot on the mound. That does get a little monotonous, and it would be nice to see a photo of a pitcher laying down a bunt or running the bases while wearing an Isotopes jacket. Here are three examples that best demonstrate a need for a little more variation when it comes to cards of pitchers.




The 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set contains two cards of catchers. Both Danny Ardoin and A.J. Ellis are featured in full gear near the plate. Unfortunately, Ardoin was sent to the disabled list soon after being forced to bend down in order to fit into his awkwardly cropped photo.


The six cards of Isotopes infielders contain the best action photography in the set. This card of Blake DeWitt is a great example of the level of play Isotopes fans are treated to game after game.


“Determination” would be an apt title for the outfielders subset. Again, excellent photography persists as is obvious in this fantastic shot of Jovanny Rosario scrambling back into first base to avoid being picked off.


Whether you are a casual fan or a hardcore baseball card collector constantly on the hunt for night cards, mid-air moments or even umpires, the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set offers something for everyone. You can bet that baseball fans all across Dodgertown will show an interest in the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set given that eight players included in the checklist have either already spent some time with the NL West leading parent club or are currently on board for what is proving a magical season. There is no reason to suspect that the list won’t continue to grow as the season progresses.

This is going to be a fun and challenging set to get autographed!

– Kris

at dewitt’s end

May 19, 2009

Don’t get me wrong… I’m glad that the Dodgers decided to send Blake DeWitt down to Triple-A in order to get some at bats rather than predominately riding the bench in LA. However, if they don’t call him back up soon, I’m simply going to run out of cards for him to sign.


Blake DeWitt – 2009 Topps Heritage no. 255

Regular playing time and hitting in a ballpark that favors batters slightly more so than does Dodger Stadium is proving to be as good for DeWitt as home cookin’. I believe that Blake’s .308 average, 18 runs scored and 9 driven in over 20 games with the Isotopes support this statement.


Blake DeWitt – 2008 Stadium Club no. 127-a



Blake DeWitt – 2008 Stadium Club no. 127-b

It is almost difficult to believe that DeWitt has been playing long enough that he even has a Topps Total card, or half of one anyway. What a fantastic product Topps Total was!


Blake DeWitt – 2005 Topps Total no. 127

Well, I do have a couple of additional minor league cards Blake can autograph while we wait patiently for the 2009 Isotopes team set to be issued in just less than a month. Don’t forget to visit my want lists on the Aardvark Trading Co. website, especially if you have a bunch of cards of players you’ve never heard of that you would like to swap for cards of big leaguers that you do recognize.

–  Kris

2002 upper deck vintage

May 12, 2009

If my memory serves me correctly, the only legitimate complaint I’ve ever had with 2002 Upper Deck Vintage baseball cards is that the 300-card base set was WAY too small. If ever a card design, be it original or rehashed, screamed “Use me to create a card for every player in Major League Baseball,” it was this one. Unfortunately, the brainiacs at Upper Deck failed to listen to their cards when they spoke to them. As a result, we are left with this underachiever of a set with so much potential, that even finding a decent storage solution was a bit of a hassle.

Of course I sidestepped that particular storage issue, and also completely freaked out my set-building friends, by alphabetizing the vast majority of my collection in an effort to increase efficiency in properly documenting players I meet in person.

I briefly considered pulling all of the 2002 Upper Deck Vintage baseball cards that I have gotten autographed to date, but realized that was simply another form of procrastination that was preventing me from blogging. Thus, I am including only scans of those cards that I have gotten signed in person this season.


I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to ask Jeff Weaver to sign his card before he was called up to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I am a sucker for horizontal cards!


Seemingly poised to join Weaver in the City of Angels in the near future, Eric Milton has taken full advantage of his temporary assignment to the Isotopes to rebuild his arm strength after sitting out more than a full season following Tommy John surgery. Obviously his trademark signature is already in mid-season form.


For those of you keeping track of the nicest players in professional baseball, Dee Brown is a MUST addition to your list! Don’t just take my word for it. Come out to the ballpark and meet him yourself. Furthermore, I challenge you to try to watch Brown at the plate without sliding to the edge of your seat with each pitch.

I did fail to get Tanyon Sturtze’s signature on his 2002 Upper Deck Vintage baseball card before he asked to be released from his contract with the Dodgers organization so he could pursue other options. That’s usually what happens when you start thinking “I’ll get him next homestand…”

–  Kris

high on heritage (2008)

April 25, 2009

You either love 2008 Topps Heritage baseball cards, or you haven’t seen them. In spite of the oft-reported short print issues surrounding this set, I believe this is an absolutely fabulous product. Perhaps setting themselves up for the strangest copyright lawsuit of all time, Topps lifted the design for these cards directly from their own vaults- dusting off a set of their 1959 product for inspiration. I just happen to have a 1959 Topps card in my ever expanding “baseball card type collection.”


Obviously Nellie Fox was photographed while pondering whether or not people would enjoy looking at his trading card as time marched forward. As you can see from the scan, it has been handled many times over. I think it is safe to assume that Fox’s card has been appreciated by adoring fans.


The card number 30 counterpart in the 2008 Topps Heritage set belongs to Paul Konerko. It is entirely possible that these two cards have already been compared and contrasted by Steve at White Sox Cards, so I’m not going to go into any of that here.

I may very well be odd collector out in that I preferred the 2008 Topps Heritage High Number Series to the initial release. Yes, even with the ill-advised inclusion of the yawntastic 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights cards in each pack. The more you hear of collectors complaining that a set contains too many players they’ve never heard of, the more you can be sure that it is a product that I will be interested in. That was especially true since Topps pulled the awesome 52 Rookies product out from under our feet.

I pulled three “hits” from a High Number series hobby box in late winter, and figure they are worth a scan.


This Frank Thomas “game-used bat” card, numbered HCC-FT is pretty kool. Even so, I would imagine that there exists a more appreciative home for this card than in my collection. (Check my want lists kids!)


A “certified” on-card autograph by Geovany Soto, the 2007-2008 poster child for MultiAd Sports trading cards, is numbered ROA-GS. It certainly blows the door off some black back variation duplicate of a card that I already had.

The next card wasn’t actually included in the hobby box, but rather was represented by a nasty redemption card. I was rewarded with this card after a two-month waiting period. I think it arrived about three days after I stopped checking the mailbox specifically for it.


I thought that an Al Kaline autographed card that might wake you from your slumber. As long as I have your attention, I may just as well reward you with scans (sans commentary) of the 2008 Topps Heritage baseball cards I have gotten autographed in person so far this season as the Omaha Royals and Iowa Cubs visited Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Enjoy….


Blake DeWitt – 2008 Topps Heritage High Number Series no. 619 (black back)


Sam Fuld – 2008 Topps Heritage no. 123


Luke Hochevar – 2008 Topps Heritage no. 129


Chin-Lung Hu – 2008 Topps Heritage no. 130 (black back)


Erick Threets – 2008 Topps Heritage no. 143


Jeff Weaver – 2008 Topps Heritage no. 175

I have a feeling that I probably will never collect all of the short printed 2008 Topps Heritage baseball cards. I do keep my want lists updated in the event that someone has extras for trade, but I won’t be purchasing single short printed cards unless I am sure I will have an opportunity to get them signed one day. Collectors working on the shiny parallel versions will definitely want to check out my trade lists!

– Kris

tradition- and breaking away

April 23, 2009

I have been a fan of 2000 Fleer Tradition baseball cards since I purchased my first pack at the unlikeliest of places- (then) Bank One Ballpark in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. I do not recall how much they charged for packs of cards at the ballpark, but I would hazard a guess that they were priced comfortably between a $1 ticket and the cost of a beer.

It took me quite a while to pull this set together, which makes sense because it predated the existence of a wide-spread baseball card blogging community to trade with. I also wasn’t horribly motivated to complete the set since I spent the majority of my free time trying to gather together cards to get autographed during the next season of the Arizona Fall League. I really never envisioned finding many opportunities to get these cards autographed in person, let alone imagine having the chance to knock four of them out in less than a 24-hour period.

As it turned out, that chance randomly presented itself to me just last week. After the dust settled, I had only gotten three of them signed. And here they are…




Each of these three players began the 2009 season on the Albuquerque Isotopes roster, so I was fortunate enough to pick them off one at a time as they prepared to board the team bus for their first road trip of the year. Obviously, none of these Major League veterans “wants” to be playing in Triple-A, but they were nice enough to sign a card or two for this fan without displaying any attitude.

The fourth card from the set that I could have gotten signed in person, but didn’t, is the one that features Tony Gwynn.


Sometimes you are presented with a tough decision when a ballplayer will sign only one autograph per fan, and you have to choose your personal favorite card from the ones you have with you. With that in mind, I opted to break from Tradition and have Tony Gwynn sign his 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition All-Star card (no. 97F) when I caught up with him while he was in town coaching the San Diego State Aztecs in a weekend series against the UNM Lobos. I had received the card from Tribe Cards a while back as a gift. Easily entertained, I absolutely love having players autograph cards that feature them signing cards or other memorabilia- regardless of whether the photographs are obviously posed, or the player was legitimately caught in the act of being generous.


Ahhhh baseball, the most wonderful time of the year!

– Kris

2008 albuquerque isotopes dav team set review

December 13, 2008

2008 Albuquerque Isotopes DAV team set
Official Score – seeing eye DOUBLE
Manufacturer: Disabled American Veterans (undetermined printer)
Sponsor: Disabled American Veterans
Retail price: FREE SGA– not available for purchase

I’d like to promise that this will be my final post about the Isotopes this year, but you never know. I definitely wanted to get this review completed this calendar year since the Isotopes and Marlins have parted ways, in order to clear the path for many posts dealing with new (and old) Isotopes and Dodgers connections.

DAV night at Isotopes Park took place on July 25, 2008. Official attendance that evening was recorded as 13,390 fans. Only the first few thousand fans through the turnstiles received this special limited edition 10-card team set. Between the free baseball cards and an Isotopes loss to the Sacramento Rivercats, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Here’s the checklist.

1 – [195] John Baker (c)
2 – [196] Chris Barnwell (if)
3 – [197] Andrew Beattie (if)
4 – [198] Tagg Bozied (if)
5 – [199] John Gall (of)
6 – [200] Bobby Keppel (p)
7 – [201] Jai Miller (of)
8 – [202] Lorenzo Scott (of)
9 – [203] Taylor Tankersley (p)
10 – [204] Ross Wolf (p)

Most importantly, the 2008 Albuquerque Isotopes DAV team set included cards of three players that were not included in the regular 2008 Albuquerque Isotopes team set. They are as follows:


Ross Wolf has made quite an impression on me over the last two seasons. Always a pleasure to talk to, and I can’t remember a conversation that I’ve had with him that didn’t end with him thanking ME for coming out to the ballpark.


Taylor Tankersley pitched very well for during his stay(s) with the Isotopes in 2008. The Tank hurled 31 and two-thirds innings over 29 appearances, managing to keep his ERA at 1.71 in spite of a WHIP of 1.55. Taylor has one unique signature.


Lorenzo Scott was one of two Isotopes players on the 2008 roster who shared my birthday. Again, that is a surefire method of having one’s cards highlighted on this blog. If I could run half as fast as Lorenzo, I would have been a track star.


Tagg Bozied put together a great season for the Isotopes in 2008, hitting .306 with 36 dingers in 425 at bats. He was also one of the true characters on the team as is apparent in this video of Tagg Bozied announcing the starting lineups prior to one of the games.


I’ve blogged about Chris Barnwell before, and it appears that the girls at Dinged Corners have a slight crush on him. I think I read that Chris is a free agent, but I’m not completely sure about that. Do you notice anything “missing” on Barnwell’s card? That’s right- a signature. Unfortunately Chris had to leave town for personal reasons right before the end of the 2008 season, so I didn’t get have the opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed watching him hustle day in and day out. I’ll be sure to tell him the next time he passes through Albuquerque- then hit him up for an autograph.

Overall, the set includes a fair share of pitchers pitching, fielders fielding and hitters hitting. My only real complaint is that 80 percent of the cards depict players in black jerseys instead of spreading the love and representing the other uniforms worn throughout the season.

Card surfaces are a semi-gloss that required no treatment prior to autographing. I believe you can tell from the scans that the autographs add a great deal to the overall look of the cards. If you flip one or more of these cards over, you shouldn’t be surprised to find only the DAV ad mentioned in previous reviews of these limited edition team sets.

You cannot purchase these cards from the Isotopes team shop- online or in person. I did see one sell on eBay recently for just less than six bucks, so that could be an option. Probably if you put your thinking cap on, you would be able to think of one baseball card blogger who might just have an extra one of these sets (unautographed) available for trade…

– Kris