(It's the day after player selection for the 2018 All-Star Game. Have you complained about who wasn't selected today? I'm beyond doing things like that -- although don't you dare disparage the All-Star Game in front of me! I simply want to see Max Muncy win the NL Final Vote ballot because that should guarantee him a spot in Topps Update this fall. If he doesn't win, who knows? Got to cram in as many undeserving rookies into Update as possible!. Time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 271st in a series):
Like just about every Dodger fan, I am obsessed with what the Dodgers could have done if they had held on to Pedro Martinez.
A rotation of Martinez, his brother Ramon, Hideo Nomo, Chan Ho Park and Ismael Valdez/Pedro Astacio/Darren Dreifort may have been enough to help the Dodgers actually do something in the playoffs during the 1990s. At the very least it would have prevented them from starting pitchers like Dave Mlicki and Brian Bohanon. And they probably wouldn't have blown all that money on Kevin Brown.
But as a collector, I've missed out on two fronts. Think of all the wonderful Dodger cardboard I could have collected of Martinez. As it stands now, Martinez's Dodger cards are mostly limited to 1991-94. However, I'm actually a bit thankful that the selection is pretty manageable. I own the majority of Martinez Dodger cards and the ones I don't own are easily obtainable.
Take the above 1992 Cartwrights Pedro Martinez card. It has sat in my ebay shopping cart for years. Not a soul wanted it apparently (perhaps the shipping was a little too high). Even I couldn't find the incentive to finally buy it.
But then it occurred to me: how often have I seen a Dodger card of Pedro Martinez with a bat?
The answer is: never.
The best I can determine, it is the first card of Pedro Martinez with a bat, the first card of him playing offense. You cannot find another card of Martinez in a similar frame of mind (or at least I couldn't), until Circa came along in 1997.
That was enough for me to pull the trigger.
It took a little bit of research for me to figure out what this card is. I'm not as up on oddball cards from this time period as I should be -- I wasn't a kid then, you know.
The back of the card mentions Cartwrights, which was a baseball collectibles magazine at the time. Cartwrights issued a couple different versions of the "Players Choice" cards. There is a gold-foil set that showcases stars of the time. The silver-foil set, which includes the Martinez card, focuses on top rookie prospects from that time (there is a card of Mike Piazza in a Albuquerque Dukes uniform, too).
It's one of several unlicensed sets issued by magazines from that time period, along with Baseball Cards Magazine, Krause Publications, Ballstreet, Legends, Tuff Stuff, etc. This is another reason I mourn the decline of magazines: they produced baseball cards a lot! (Only Sports Illustrated is still doing this).
Unlike the more familiar Baseball Cards Magazine cards, which riffed on Topps sets of the past, Cartwrights went more modern with its own design. Foil was the big seller at the time so the card is covered in it. It actually looks pretty snazzy for an unlicensed card, but '90s foil scans like crap.
This is my 39th card of Pedro Martinez as a Dodger. There probably aren't more than 25 more left for me to find.
Perhaps for some Dodger fans, that's plenty. Why have so many cardboard reminders of that Delino Deshields trade?
I don't look at it that way. I want as much evidence as I can to let people know that, yes, Pedro Martinez was a Dodger.