I decided that I wanted to be Jason Bartlett Super Collector last month. He was hitting .380 and was leading the league in that category. He was also hitting homers and stealing bases like never before. Since his trade to the Rays he had instantly became my favorite player. He is a leader on the field and he solidified the Rays infield.
My wife bought every card our local card shop had of Barts, it was a surprise, and it was awesome. They were all base cards, though. The card shop guy had quite a few customers who also wanted to collect Bartlett.
I turned to e-bay and it turns out I was bidding against, not only the other would-be “super collectors”, but the card shop guys who were trying to track down cards for their customers. Fact is Jason doesn’t have a ton of premium cards. Most of them are from 2005 when he was a prospect with the Twins. I spent a while searching, watching and bidding. I had a very low budget and his cards were going sky high! It was kind of funny looking at my summary page which showed my max bid of $3.11 and the current bid of $23.55. I was out of my league. I had never pulled a Bartlett card from a pack (other than ’08 Heritage) and I couldn’t buy them anywhere. It seemed that my collection was going to be stuck at 5 cards forever. The 4 cool cards that wifey picked up, along with the lone card that I had already had.
That all changed this week. I finally won an auction for a 2005 Upper Deck Trilogy Generations of Materials card featuring JB. I already owned a similar card of BJ Upton, which featured bat chips instead of jersey bits on this JB card. It was to be my first “premium” Bartlett card, therefore becoming the cornerstone of my super collection.
It arrived today and it was not alone it the mail. I had two padded manila envelopes sitting in my post office box. The first was from Mario at http://www.waxheaven.com/ . Mario and his awesome Andrew Miller and Jose Canseco collections were the inspiration for me being “super collector” in the first place. I had found a weird, round Sportsflics disc of Canseco and had sent Mario a scan of it. He had never seen the card before, so I sent it to him for his collection. He insisted on sending a Barts card in exchange. Having had no luck in getting them on my own, I didn’t argue. It arrived today.
It is a 2009 Topps gold Bartlett. I didn’t even have the base of this card, so getting it in gold with a serial number (1004/2009) made it all the more awesome. It’s a pretty cool shot of Bartlett pulling in a pop-up on the road. I like the combo of the gold and the light blue. I also like the backs of the 2009 Topps cards. I like they show all of his career stats, rather than just his last season’s numbers. I even like the factoid they show wrapped in an arc over the top of the card. I had no idea he was a career .583 hitter against Odalis Perez. The Nationals are coming to town this weekend, but I don’t think Bartlett will be off the DL, plus I think Perez is doing a tour in AAA right now. Either way, it is a great card. Thanks Mario!!!
The other padded envelope contained my e-bay purchase, which is my first Bartlett game used card. I now own a ½” square of a Twins jersey that JB may have touched in 2004. The card is awesome! The card is 1/8” thick and is numbered on the front 18/50. It has head shots of the 3 players on the top, above their names and teams running horizontally across the vertical card with their swatches in the center. Bartlett is in pretty good company here, but I can’t help but feel that UD was a little presumptuous in their pairings. All 3 players play (ed) shortstop, but the similarities seem to end there. Aparicio was one of the best to ever play the game. He held the record for most games played at short (Omar Vizquel recently broke it) with 2,583 games. He never started at any other position. He never made the late-career switch to first, the outfield or (ugh) designated hitter. He started strong, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1956. He was named to 10 All Star teams, won 9 Gold Gloves, won a World Series (with Baltimore) in 1966, he collected 2,677 hits (59th All Time) and stole 506 bases (34th All Time). Oh, and he was elected in the Hall Of Fame in 1984. At the point this card was made, the similarities between these 3 were minimal. Other than position, Bartlett, who had played just 82 MLB games had nothing in common with Aparicio. Furcal won the Rookie of the Year award, like Aparicio, “Fookie” was also an All Star in 2003. He had played 663 games at the position, and may have seemed like he was on his way to the Hall. I really doubt that. I am thinking that the good folks at Upper Deck just had a lot of pieces of Fookie’s jersey lying around and needed something to do with them. Since the retirement of Ozzie, Larkin and Ripken, I don’t think there is a definitive great shortstop on their way to Cooperstown. Some may argue that the Yankees captain is that person. Maybe. Edgar Renteria, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Mike Young, Jimmy Rollins, JJ Hardy, Christian Guzman AND Jason Bartlett are all great young players, no doubt. Are any of them Hall Of Fame bound? I think it’s too early to tell. Especially in 2005, none of them were on their way to being the next Luis Aparicio. In fact, I don’t think there is an active shortstop, other than Omar Vizquel (who incidentally is one hit behind Aparicio on the ALL TIME list) who should be thinking about Cooperstown. Nice card Upper Deck. I like it; I just don’t get the pairing.
That tangent and tantrum aside, the Bartlett SUPER COLLECTION is beginning to take shape. Thanks Mario! Thanks e-bay seller who didn’t list Aparicio in the description, therefore allowing me a great deal! I am seven cards in now with my collection. Nowhere to go, but up. Anyone want to trade me some Bartlett cards?