Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The card after: just one of the guys

All right all you people who look at card blogs only to find out how much your rookie cards are worth -- BOOM! -- it's one of them rookies that actually retained at least a little of its value! You can sell this and not even have enough money to buy a case for your iphone! Yay, inflation! Yay, gadgets! Yay, nobody cares about cardboard anymore!

Anyway, this is the best rookie card of Mike Piazza. It's beautiful. The Fleer Update rookie Piazza may cost more, but it's ugly sherbet green, the photo's scrunched, and Piazza is running out of the box in a painfully awkward way like he's a 10-year-old geeked up on Sprinkle Spangles. Also Update came in a limited box set and we all know real cards are issued in packs, during the season, out in the wild, in the midst of rabid, drooling collectors. There's also the Donruss Rookie Phenoms Piazza, which is both black bordered and shiny, but again you can hear the desperation on this late-breaking card if you hold it up to your ear. Issue your cards of Mike Piazza BEFORE you know who the dude is, like the Home Of The Rookie Card does, gentlemen.

The '92 Bowman Piazza is a pretty, pretty card. And '92 Bowman is a pretty, pretty set. It's the first Bowman set, since its return in 1989, that didn't look like grandpa was its primary target market. Issued for the first time on white card stock, with a sleek, spare design, and bold white-frame borders, this set has kept its value for almost 25 years.

For proof, I still don't own all of the '92 Bowman Dodgers, while I think I finished the 1989-91 Bowman Dodgers in 1977.

Bowman updated its backs, too. Full color photo, full color graphics. And yes, Piazza wasn't drafted No. 62 overall in 1988. That's ROUND 62. Piazza came from ALL the way back. He was a beast.

But, I'm getting too caught up in the rooooooookie card. This is actually about The Card After, too. It's about the Bowman Piazza card that came AFTER the rookie card. This is how the game goes.

So, let's play that game.


Please meet: 1992 Bowman Mike Piazza

Why it's iconic: I addressed some of this up top. But there's more. Still considered one of the top rookie cards of the 1990s, I submit it is far better than any of the many significant rookies in the '92 Bowman set. Mariano Rivera's rookie may sell for  more now, because of course appearing in one inning a game is far superior to squatting behind a plate for nine innings while wearing a couple dozen pounds of equipment, bracing your face for whacks from a wooden weapon and runners who don't know their ass from a running lane. Yeah, one inning of throwing a ball is soooooo draining. But, also, Rivera's card looks like this:

And Manny Ramirez's rookie card -- another valued rookie card in this set -- looks like this:

None of what you've seen on the previous two cards is baseball. But there's a space waiting for them in mom's Sears catalog.

Let's see the Piazza card for a third time:

Not once did I wish that Piazza was wearing a green-striped shirt instead of a Dodger uniform. I can't think of anything more baseball than the picture on this card.

That "nuclear moment": I don't know when exactly Bowman decided to call itself "The Home Of The Rookie Card". If it was in '92 then that's the nuclear moment. Otherwise, it's when Bowman realized that it was the '90s and cards should be printed on glossy white stock. It also foisted foil, in all of its rainbow paralleled glory, on its collectors. 2013 had twerking. 1992 had foil. Foil doesn't seem so bad now, does it?

This card's impact today: It's one of several cards in the '92 Bowman set that combined makes the set one of the most coveted of the '90s. Personally, I'll never collect it. I've seen the Chipper Jones card. But Piazza helps at least alleviate all of that '90s fashion.

Something about this card that I think no one else has ever said: The star on the ankle of the right shin guard means that Piazza apparently broke into the Dallas Cowboys equipment room.

On the 1-25 iconic scale: 22.


Please meet: 1993 Bowman Mike Piazza

Why it's not iconic: It's not a rookie card, for one. We all know that rookies cards are the only thing that matters in collecting. But I refuse to call it terrible. 1993 Bowman isn't 1992 Bowman, but it's one of Bowman's better-looking sets. And I appreciate that Piazza is featured in action. Yet, the deflated body language, the look of exasperation on his face, the ball in his hand, the fact that an Astro -- An ASTRO -- appears to be exalting in the background -- does not make this a positive experience for anyone (except for the headless Astro ... or maybe it's a Brewer. I don't know. Brewer. Astro. Either way, neither one knows how to be in the right league).

This is Piazza as a veteran. He's not a rookie anymore. He knows the deal. There are bad times in baseball. And this is one of them. He's just one of the guys.

What Bowman was doing here: Obviously moving on -- to the ROOKIES OF 1993! (*commence parade*) Derek Jeter! Andy Pettitte! Jose Vidro! Derek Jeter! Andy Pettitte! Preston Wilson! Derek Jeter! Andy Pettitte! So Piazza looks sad in his photo because nobody cares. Derek Jeter! Andy Pettitte!

Something I can say about this card to make it interesting: This is one of the few Piazza cards from 1993 in which you can see Piazza's new uniform number, #31. (the '93 SP Platinum Power insert, Topps Finest and the Pinnacle Home Run Club insert are others). Some cards in 1993 still feature him in No. 25.

Does "the card after" deserve to be iconic?: No. It's a dollar card.

On the 1-25 iconic scale: I give it a 4.

Like most cards in the 1990s, the '93 Mike Piazza was lost in a deluge of Piazza cards issued that year. I own around 30 different 1993 Piazzas and I'm sure some Piazza collector just posted something derisive on Twitter about the dude he read about who has only 30 1993 Piazzas.

Sorry. 1993 Piazza. It sucks to be just one of the crowd.


  1. 92 Bowman - I had over half the set completed when I sold most of my collection 12 years ago. I kept the Piazza card. So glad I did! It's classic!

  2. I had to look up the Chipper card....a million ha has.

  3. I like 'em both, but I'm partial to catchers. What impresses me most is how you "pre-collected" the 89-91 Bowman Dodgers back in the '70s. I love it.

  4. That outfit Rivera is wearing seems like something my Grandmother would have bought me in the 80's for school.

  5. I remember when that 1992 Bowman set came out. It was so different than the 89-91 cards. It was one of the best releases of the year. I wish I had bought more of it at the time. I have the Manny Ramirez rookie foil as well as Chipper and Carlos Delgado from the set. The Piazza card is sweet but I don't have it. I do have the 93 Piazza Bowman. The only 1992 Piazza card I have is from the Classic Best minor league set featuring him with the San Antonio Missions.