It all start when I was reading through a blog post from Brian over at Collecting Cutch.
In a blog post two weeks ago, Brian included a bit about his #1 most sought-after card – a 2014 Topps Opening Day Andrew McCutchen variant. I was super active in scooping up every Pirates card I could find between 2013-2015, and tucked away deep in my giant box of mostly-useless Pirates cards, I have a small stack of short prints and variants.
Sure enough, I had what Brian refers to as his unicorn. I am happy to say that it’s been delivered to a more deserving owner. As you’re about to see, this card must have really meant a ton to Brian, because OH MY GOODNESS did he deliver in return.
This is without question the largest trade package I’ve ever received – over 100 unique Pirates cards. A common theme will be “This is my first auto of this guy!” and “I’ve always been meaning to pick up a card like this.” There is some seriously incredible stuff in here. This is recap of some of the “highest highlights” – and there’s still a ton that I left out.
Yeah. Five envelopes, all with instruction/detail about how to dig in and enjoy. We’ll start out light and pick up the fun as it goes along:
A pair of Frankie Liriano’s to kick it off. He’s been in his prime on about three separate occasions in his career – the first being his early years with the twins. If you didn’t know, he’s back with the Pirates for his second stint. The 2019 Buccos are abysmal in every way that’s not named Josh Bell or Brian Reynolds – although Liriano has actually been a quality bullpen piece.
While exchanging trade ideas, Brian had asked me for some of my favorite players. Gerrit Cole, in a sad way, is one of them. A #1 overall pick that actually panned out for the Pirates. I wasn’t opposed to trading to him to Houston because I was 100% certain he wouldn’t sign a second deal with the Pirates. So any return was a good one. What he’s doing now in Houston would have never happened in Pittsburgh… but that doesn’t make it sting any less. I still root for him, quietly.
How sweet are those cards? All numbered /99 or less.
Continuing on the Cole train and now joined by his friends Pedro Alvarez and Mark Melancon. The patches are this card are so bad ass. Melancon has enjoyed a small revitalization of his career thanks to Shane Greene immediately imploding in Atlanta’s closer role. As for Alvarez… man, it seems like just yesterday that he was swinging for the fences in the 2013 home run derby. After failing to make the Marlins Opening Day roster (ouch), he’s out of the majors.
Back to Liriano: a Case Hit from 2016 Topps. This baby has a metal border on it. It feels like a dang paperweight and is officially the only metal card that I own. Numbered to only 16.
Printing plates, anyone? 2011 Topps Jose Tabata and Joel Hanrahan, and 2012 Jeff Locke.
Everyone remembers Jose Tabata a little differently. The word “Bust” comes to mind. I've written about this before: I remember Jose best for failing to move his elbow out of the path of a two out, 9th inning fastball… that broke up a perfect game.
2014 Topps Supreme Oscar Taveras/Gregory Polanco Dual Auto /25. Wow… to think what could have been. Polanco still has a chance to make something of his career, and Taveras sadly does not. Beautiful card.
Three brand new players to my auto collection. Believe it or not, I’m a Pirates fan that didn’t previously own a Freddy Sanchez auto. That has now changed! Clay Holmes and Jose Osuna are two guys that have bounced between AAA and the majors for two years now. I’m a sucker for a nice Bowman Chrome Auto – especially a refractor.
Another awesome patch, this one capturing the corner of the buccaneer bandana on the Pirates logo. /99. Marte has been a staple in the Pirates lineup for six plus seasons now. I’ve collected him heavily and I’m happy to add several more awesome cards to the collection.
Almost an entire team set of 2017 Topps Chrome Blue Refractors.
Some great humor here from Brian. But seriously, he’s not kidding. He sent me enough printing plates to open my own card factory.
Yet another first auto for me: Pedro Alvarez. I never bought any Alvarez autos because A. They were always overpriced B. He never signed for a licensed product. I’m somewhat of a snob when it comes to certified autos, but this one I can get down with. This is also my first jersey letter patch card, from any player.
Also pictured is a beauty – 2015 Gypsy Queen. Tri-color patch /5.
A couple more Marte autos, a Gerrit Cole Leaf auto, and a Cutch auto from the Cutch Collector himself.
And for the grand finale, an incredible Tyler Glasnow patch from Panini Immaculate. This might be my favorite card of the bunch, capturing what looks like the “S” in Pirates. You’ve probably heard of Glasnow by now due to his insane April/May with the Rays. If he stayed in Pittsburgh, you probably wouldn’t know who he is. His career was becoming somewhat of a mess but he’s clearly figured it out in Tampa. Like Gerrit Cole, I’ll quietly root for him as long as he’s not pitching against the Pirates.
Brian, again, I can’t thank you enough. It took me a solid 30 minutes to work through each package and enjoy each card. Carefully looking over each card for serial numbers and looking through each package to come across another note from was more fun than any hobby box I’ve ever opened. Your generosity is unparalleled.
Thanks for reading!