Don your detective hats — it’s time to track down the play. Once again Chuck Knoblauch is at the heart of it:
1995 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice #490 Chuck Knoblauch
This game tends to favor the middle infielders, and Chuck is an acrobatic favorite of the card companies. So, we need to know if we can tell which play this was — what do we know from the photo?
1) Day game, so it’s not at the Metrodome
2) Chad Curtis sliding into second; looks to be Pat Meares in the background
3) it’s a 1995 card, so this play was most likely from the 1994 season
WGOM Citizens continue to tackle these puzzles with gusto:
– Curtis was an Angel in ’94, and the Twins played three games in the Big A, in the beginning of June. First two are night games, and neither are good prospects.
– The third of the three games was a getaway day game. Curtis reached second twice: once on a SB, and once on a inning ending force out. Okay, I guess on a 6-4 force play he didn’t technically reach second.
– based on the position of Meares (backing up second instead of backing up the third baseman fielding the ball) and Knoblauch’s positioning, it sure looks more like a high throw on a stealing attempt than a toss from the shortstop.
With one out and a one run lead already in the bottom of the first, Chad Curtis successfully steals second on a high throw from Matt Walbeck. The Twins would mount a futile rally in the 9th but come up short, 5-4, with Jim Deshaies taking the loss.
More detective work! Topps in 2009 sets the scene for us:
2009 Topps Updates & Highlights #UH126 Matt Tolbert
Matt Tolbert’s card showed up as an afterthought in the Updates & Highlights set; can we identify exactly when this play took place?
Well, here are some clues:
1) Gabe Kapler is barrelling into second
2) appears to be an indoor ballgame, in 2008 or maybe early 2009 since this is from an update set
3) Matt’s probably the shortstop, and it looks like a DP attempt
The guys at WGOM took it and ran. They discovered:
– In 2008, Gabe Kapler was a Brewer and played in uniform #33, so this is definitely an early season 2009 game against the Rays at The Trop.
– Gabe Kapler played in three home games versus the Twins. On May 29, Kapler’s only AB is a walk followed by a caught stealing.
– May 31, Tolbert isn’t in the lineup. That leaves…
– …May 30th, when Tolbert comes in as a replacement at short in the 4th inning. Kapler immediately walks, then is forced out in a 4-5-3. Kapler doesn’t reach base the rest of the game.
The Twins lose 5-2, Francisco Liriano picks up his seventh loss against two wins, and Joe Mauer’s only hit is a double, lowering his BA to a miserable .414 — booooo!
Earlier this week I received an email from Ron at NYBBNUTT’s Baseball Card Trading Page. It’s always a treat to hear from traders I haven’t communicated with for quite a while. Like me, Ron’s also been active on The Bench, but I hadn’t traded with him for 2-½ years. He informed me that he had a package that was on its way to me, and wished me Happy New Year’s.
The package arrived in short order, and in it were a couple dozen Twins from my wantlist. There was a little of everything, so I could appreciate that he’d done some serious digging. They weren’t just base cards; several were parallels (Bowman Gold, Ultra Gold Medallion), and ones that were base cards weren’t the typical flagship sets. For example:
clockwise, from top left: 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks #BDP155 Justin Morneau; 2000 Fleer Ultra Gold Medallion #181G Brad Radke; 1996 Pinnacle Aficionado Artist Proof #184 Matt Lawton; 1998 Topps Stars #6 David Ortiz [4835/9799]; 2003 Bowman Gold #265 Jose Morales; 1987 Sportflics #81 Bert Blyleven; 2000 Topps Stars #148 B.J. Garbe; 1999 Upper Deck SPx Bronze #SPX31 Paul Molitor
Wait — let’s look a little closer…
The Aficionado card was an Artist Proof — very nice. Initially I wasn’t impressed with the Sportflics, but casually checked the copyright date on the back…! Sure enough, it was a factory set card and had a 1987 copyright, instead of the 1986 copyright that the typical 1987 Sportflics cards will sport. I don’t know that they’re worth any more, or even if people (other than me) are looking for them, but I’ve known about them for almost 25 years and this is the first I’ve seen.
So, what to send back in return? Well, I know he collects Topps, but he slyly seems to be leaving it up to me what the contents of the package might look like. To quote SNL, “Oh, I’ll play your game, you rogue!” That post title might be a hint.