Thursday, April 5, 2018

Stadium Club will save us again

A week or so ago I mentioned the baseball card release calendar and how we're currently in a period where I redouble my efforts toward vintage or my team collection or oddballs. There's simply nothing new on the shelves that grabs my interest.

You may wonder why I keep going back to the shelves if I'm disappointed so often. Why not just devote all my efforts to past cards?

I ask myself that question, too. Why? Why do I keep going back when I know there are cards -- old cards -- that I will enjoy so much more?


I had to sit -- with hands off the keyboard -- and think about that for a few minutes. Why?

Well, aside from the tradition, so ingrained in my collecting soul, of traveling to the store to purchase packs of cards -- something I've done for over 40 years and do not want to give up -- there is the hope. I go because of hope. I hope that there will be cards that I like. I hope that there will be new cards that I like. Something never before seen. Isn't that exciting? I still think that's exciting.

I don't want to lose that hope. If I get away from that completely, dive 100 percent into cards that were created, years, decades, half a century ago, then all hope is gone. And I'm not there ... yet.

There are some current sets that still give me hope. Above them all, probably, is Stadium Club.

Ever since the Stadium Club reboot in 2014, I've looked forward to its release. It is good every year. I may not collect it every year, like most modern sets, there's always something a bit off -- collation, price, what have you. But there is hope in those packs of Stadium Club, something that I can't say about the packs on shelves now.

This year's Stadium Club set is scheduled to release June 27. I likely won't try to complete it. But I guarantee my jaw will drop over some of the cards.

This is why when Jeff of 2 by 3 Heroes offered up a bunch of different cards during his recent annual giveaway, I specifically request the Stadium Club stash. I completed the 2015 SC set but it kind of wore me out and I skipped 2016 and 2017 SC, except to buy a few customary packs. But I missed seeing all of those glorious photos. This was a chance to relive them.

So here is a mix of 2016 and 2017 Stadium Club. I chose the 10 Best Pictures That I Had Never Seen Before. There is no order to them, just enjoy.

What is it about the Oakland A's dugout that produces some of the finest dugout shots ever known? It seems larger than most dugouts. Is that it? Anyway, there's Mitch, armoring up while advertising America's favorite sports drink. (Personally, I think it's awful).

Getty Images says 1975 for this photo. I guessed 1973. The ump and the teammate signaling the runner to "get down!" are cropped out of the picture. That's unfortunate because the "get down" teammate is wearing No. 41, which would be Tom Seaver.

I rip on the Rockies occasionally for wearing purple, but I'm giving it a pass here. This wouldn't work as well if the background color was blue or red. I think because it's purple and unusual it draws your eye.

More dugout shots. What is Max Kepler telling us here? Is he a fan of the Texas Longhorns (Kepler went to school in Germany but his mom is from Texas)? Heavy metal music? Something more sinister? I apologize for insinuating. Stadium Club just raises questions.

Forever, Yandy Diaz is going to be able to say that he stood next to a basket of balls on his rookie card. You may think that's lame. But he's the only one who's going to be able to say that.

I've been warned about the dangers of tarps since Vince Coleman. But Maikel Franco is undeterred. Hey, girls? There's a baseball player in your vicinity.

Spring training still DOES exist on baseball cards!! LOOK! Equipment on the ground! Batting cage wheels! Trees! OMG, I'm in heaven.

I had to stare at this for awhile because I thought a video board was showing Goldschmidt as he signed nearby. I guess it's just a poster.

I rue the day Bill Parcells took his first Gatorade bath, but I can't deny the greatness of this moment in time. It needs a companion card: this is what happened NEXT.

C.J. Wilson doing his best Chan Ho Park impersonation.

Among the other Stadium Club cards that Jeff sent was the Billy Hamilton card up top that drew rave reviews. I'm not as impressed (I prefer the Brooks Robinson or Tim Raines from that set), only because I see similar shots a lot while scrolling the photos on the wire. I also have a general aversion to photos being out of focus.

Here's another one I don't get. Why is this not a horizontal photo? It takes some processing to figure out what's going on here. Is Ted about to eat a building? ... Oh! It's a push-up! Might be nice to see some legs!!

Finally, this. I have no idea who Shawn O'Malley is (part-time Mariners who haven't played since 2016 don't register). It'd be nice to see his face.

Ah, but those are small modern annoyances. The vast majority of these cards are beautiful and restore my faith in new cards. It happens every summer. Just when I think all hope is lost, along comes Stadium Club.

I also requested some Sabres from Jeff's giveaway and I received a whole stack of them.

Here are just a few:

Just one Dominik Hasek card in the lot:

Ah, mid-1990s Pinnacle. Randomly created foil-stamped designs interfering with my photo enjoyment.

Let's get back to Stadium Club:

There we go.

Logos in full effect. No Gypsy Queen graininess. Just beautiful photo for as far as the eye can see.


Can't wait to find it on the card shelf again.


  1. All great shots (as is par for the course from SC), but the Prado is especially an eye-grabber. I looked at that one recently and discovered something I'd never noticed before -- what's with the chain of people standing on the dugout?


  3. Moreland is a fun photo, as are the others. CJ Wilson is holding his card in his hand! He was kicking to show off his spikes ... Stadium Club has been fun to collect these past few years.

  4. I guess now I've got to throw Sabres cards into the piles I send your way.

  5. Stadium Club is great --one of the better bang for your buck-- and it's cheaper than Gypsy Queen, Heritage, and Archives.

  6. Just remember where the Sabres got Hasek from. Lot of stupid trades by the Hawks in the 90's.

  7. Now that you point it out, that Ted Williams card looks like a still from a 1950's B movie.

    "Attack Of the 50 Foot Splinter"

  8. I had to see what Shawn O'Malley is up to these days and it looks like he broke his hand a month back while trying to make the 40-man with the Rockies. Poor guy. He was likeable enough with the Mariners but had his trouble with injuries there too

  9. As a photography guy, Stadium Club is the set I'm most pleased with. I wish the collation were better though as I had to stop buying anything after getting a pack of 100% duplicates.

    I've got my fingers crossed that 2018 Stadium Club tones down on the ground fog. 2016 and 2017 have it but it's not too bad. Early 2018 previews though were distracting.

    And regarding the Oakland dugouts. I can't help wondering if the HUGE foul territory in the Coliseum gives photographers better options and angles for photos.

  10. I'm saving up my Target gift cards for Stadium Club (and Archives). Although... I did just buy a Heritage blaster. Anyways... I feel that there might come a point where I don't bother collecting the new stuff anymore and I'll just focus on cards in the past. Not quite at that point yet... but unless some changes are made in the hobby, it's probably closer than I'd like to admit.

  11. I agree with Fuji. This year, Stadium Club is the last bastion of hope for getting anything new in retail packs. Nothing else appeals. A friend is making me a base set of flagship because I want none of the inserts, and I don't like the look of anything else this year from anybody. Of course, they dropped the simplest, nice looking product that could have outsold everything - Bunt.

  12. Stadium Club is in a league of its own.

  13. Stadium Club is the only set that comes out that I even begin to think about building. I love the Goldschmidt card. I like to think someone is holding a flat screen tv for him to sign.

  14. The Goldschmidt card was taken at the teams "Fan Fest" event. Fans can meet the players. The team also has a yard sale of old promo items and events for kids and fans.

  15. It looks like Rusty Staub approaching Johnny Bench at home plate

  16. Brand new Set / Product coming in May I believe - Topps "Big League"