Thursday, June 21, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Phoenix

There's no better place to spend the first day of summer than the Arizona desert. Today the Sports Card Tour stops in Phoenix.

Phoenix is home to two pro sports teams - the Diamondbacks and the Suns. (The Coyotes and Cardinals play in nearby Glendale.)

The Diamondbacks' dramatic win in the 2001 World Series remains the only major pro sports championship won by an Arizona-based team. The Cardinals lost Super Bowl XLIII after the 2008 season. The Suns reached the NBA Finals in 1976 and 1993.

Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling were the anchors of a veteran Arizona squad that ended the Yankees' stranglehold on the World Series.

I had to work the night of Game 7, and I asked my girlfriend to tape the game for me. Then I was too afraid to watch it. She knew how much I hated the Yankees, and I didn't think she'd trick me into wasting my time. But when I saw Mariano Rivera on the mound I started to wonder..

Luis Gonzalez had 57 home runs in 2001 - and he won the World Series with a bloop single. Gonzo's #20 was the first uniform number to be retired by the Snakes. I picked up this Five Star auto for $3.74 during COMC's Black Friday sale.

A lot of the Arizona cards you'll see in this post were part of the COMC 500 - including the Max Scherzer 1993 SP-style RC ($4.00) and David Peralta rainbow foil ($0.40.)

This Zack Greinke Topps Heritage was the cheapest Blue parallel listed at the time. I couldn't pass it up for $1.99.

Topps is often criticized for being lazy, but at least they didn't use the same photo of Paul Goldschmidt for his Bowman and Bowman Chrome cards. Oh, wait... yes they did. Dammit, Topps. What the hell is Bowman 'Base Chrome'?!?

There were a handful of minor league cards in the flat rate box I bought on eBay a few months ago. Most of them were Phoenix Firebirds, including some players I recognize. I always thought that "Firebirds" was a cool name for a team. A bit redundant, perhaps. But cool.

The Cardinals were a nondescript franchise for most of my youth. I was always drawn to out-of-market teams that no one ever talked about (I'm somewhat of an oddball myself) and one year I had my mom order a Phoenix Cardinals jacket out of a catalog. 

I also had a bit of a Neil Lomax PC despite never watching him play.

Emmitt Smith finished his record-setting career with the Cardinals, which would make him arguably the greatest player in the franchise's history. But the greatest Cardinal ever is still with the team.

Larry Fitzgerald is third all-time in receiving yards and eighth all-time in touchdown catches. I have five Fitz cards in my collection, including a 2005 Bowman Chrome Red Refractor ($0.89 on COMC). Wish I had held on to his 2004 Topps Chrome RC.

Kurt Warner led Arizona to the NFC title in 2008. You'll see more of my Kurt collection in a week or two when we visit St. Louis.

The rest of my best Cards cards. 1993 Score Franchise is one of my all-time favorite inserts sets. I always thought it was sad that the Cardinals' Franchise player was a punter. Jake "The Snake" Plummer was surrounded by (fake) snakes on his Topps Chrome RC. I somehow ended up with a ton of his cards back in the day. The Chris Johnson Panini Phoenix insert is not actually Chris Johnson - it's David Johnson. 

The Coyotes are the NHL's red-headed stepchild, and many fans (especially in Canada) resent the league's commitment to keep the franchise where it is. Not me. I was a Whalers fan growing up so I'm not about to tell anyone they don't deserve a team. The Vegas Golden Knights proved that pro hockey can succeed in the desert - and Phoenix is a bigger market.

Shane Doan was the team's last link to the (original) Winnipeg Jets and served as Coyotes captain for 13 seasons. He led the team to the Western Conference Finals in 2012. I was rooting for Doan and the desert dogs to beat the Kings because of his loyalty to the city, because the Yotes would have been an easier Stanley Cup opponent for my Devils, and because a Devils-Coyotes final would have annoyed the hell out of hockey purists everywhere.

I have 21 Doan cards in my Coyotes collection, including this Be a Player autograph from 2005-06. Brian Boucher set an NHL record with five consecutive shutouts for Phoenix. He's now an NBC Sports analyst.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is the Coyotes' current captain. He recently signed an eight-year extension to stay in Arizona.

I've had OEL's SP Authentic RC on my radar for a while, but they're always overpriced so I had to settle for a Panini Contenders RC. Rookie Ticket autos hold a lot more prestige in football cards.

Max Domi (son of Tie) was recently traded to the Canadiens for Alex Galchenyuk. Both players needed a change of scenery. Galchenyuk will join a strong group of young Coyotes stars - including Calder finalist Clayton Keller.

I pulled the Keller RC from a fat pack of O-Pee-Chee. The rest of these cards were ePack-to-COMC purchases.

American superstars Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk were Coyotes teammates for the franchise's first five years in Phoenix. Both players are members of the 500-goal club, but neither is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Some legendary players passed through Phoenix at or near the end of their careers - including Roberto Alomar (38 games with the D-Backs) and Brett Hull (5 games with the Coyotes).

These UD Superstars card backs would be perfect for Sports Card Tour - if the info wasn't 15 years old. I wish Upper Deck would add updated timelines to a current card set.

I've started a Steve Nash PC and put this 'hockey' card at the top of my wishlist.

Many of these Nash cards came from Dennis (Too Many Verlanders) in a box that was full of fun surprises.

More from the 500-card COMC haul. The Nash relic was $1.45 while the Immaculate Goran Dragic was $2.40. Nash never got the Suns to the NBA Finals (thanks, Robert Horry) but Charles Barkley did.

Phoenix was a fun team to watch in the early '90s with Sir Charles, "Thunder" Dan Majerle and Kevin Johnson leading the way. One of my friends had a KJ jersey and let me borrow it for a while. I wore it once or twice and then gave it back- unlike the kid who stole my Christian Laettner jersey.

The Suns have had lots of star power over their 50 years in the NBA, including Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway, and newest Hall of fame inductees Jason Kidd and Grant Hill.

hat tip to Corky, who posted this on his blog a couple months ago

The new era of the Phoenix Suns franchise begins tonight, with the team selecting Arizona center Deandre Ayton first overall. The Suns also have the 16th overall pick and plenty of cap space to build around superstar Devin Booker. 

Favorite Diamondbacks player: Paul Goldschmidt

Favorite Cardinals player: Larry Fitzgerald (but I'm hoping Josh Rosen quiets his critics)

Favorite Suns player: TBD

Favorite Coyotes player: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Next tour stop: Pittsburgh

Have a great weekend everyone. Thanks for reading!



  1. Another great post! Besides the World Series that my Indians have played in, the 2001 edition is one of my favorites in my lifetime. It was so awesome to see the Yankees go down like they did. My favorite Phoenix athlete is Larry Fitzgerald, and after he torched my Steelers for the long touchdown in Super Bowl 43, I started a player collection. I have added many of his cards through dime boxes at a flea market. I also have a Matt Leinert player collection. Looking forward to your next city stop too. Go Steelers!

  2. I have to ask, did you type in DeAndre Ayton before he was drafted or wait until what we all knew would happen?

    The Suns are my second-least favorite NBA team, thanks entirely to Steve Nash, who I can't stand. Even though he's long gone (and stopped being relevant even when he was there) I still can't bring myself to root for them...unless they are playing the Heat, my least favorite team. Then it's Suns all the way.

    Interestingly enough, I have several Suns jerseys in my wearing jersey collection, including the orange alternate for Amare Stoudemire.

    1. How can you hate Steve Nash? lol, I thought you would have loved that Upper Deck card at least.

      As for Ayton..when I initially wrote this post I said the Suns are "expected to select" him. His selection was announced just before I finished the post so I was able to update it.

    2. He's the most overrated player in NBA history...he won two MVP awards without ever actually accomplishing anything. (All time great Kobe Bryant won less than that!) He's credited with inventing the uptempo game when in reality he got it from Jason Kidd, who he backed up his first couple seasons, and Kidd didn't invent it either. Bob Cousy did.
      I do like the card. It was my first of him, I think, back in 96-97. It all went downhill from there.

  3. I will admit.. I'm one of the people that is upset about Phoenix having an NHL team.. I miss those old Jets uniforms.
    I love minor league cards. Firebirds and Giants.
    Absolutely loved the 2001 Series because Yankees lose..

  4. Seeing emmitt in that cardinals Jersey just makes you sad. Some of those guys should had retired before they moved on. He should have. Jerry Rice in Oakland and Seattle. Just not right

    D backs were my second favorite team in baseball when they came into the league

  5. I still can't believe the Yankees lost that World Series. It's just a shame it was to the Diamondbacks who I dislike almost as much as the Yankees. I didn't take a lot of joy from it.

    I'd rather see the Coyotes move to Canada. I wouldn't get to call them the 'Yotes anymore, but I still think it's silly where they are.

  6. I am really excited to see the Suns grow, they are young and have a solid core. The last few years have been “rebuilding” but never rebuilt so it is nice to have something to look forward to in the near future.

  7. Sweet Firebirds cards. That is my favorite minor league card design.

  8. Favorite Diamondbacks player: Paul Goldschmidt
    Favorite Cardinals player: Larry Fitzgerald
    Favorite Suns player: Kevin Johnson
    Favorite Coyotes player: Keith Tkachuk and Shane Doan