Saturday, January 3, 2009

If This is His Topps Card, Then What Card is This?: Jason Kendall

For 2009's first "What Card is This?" segment, we'll take a look back at the career of an All-Star catcher who, if he were to have played for a different team, he'd be a mega star and possibly a hall-of-famer. Alas, he spent many of his glory years in a city that lately hasn't fielded a winning baseball team since a certain B.B. left for the Bay area. He was a good player indeed, and for a catcher, had tremendous speed. I mean, how often did you have a catcher leading off for a team? Not many. Then again, there are not that many catchers out there like Jason Kendall.

Son of major leaguer Fred Kendall, Jason was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992. He made his major league debut in 1996, a year that saw him not only place third on the NL Rookie of the Year voting, but was named an All-Star as well. Along with Brian Giles, he was one of the few players that were worth watching in Pittsburgh during the late 90's early 2000's. He was the face of the franchise, and always played hard. Other than his 1999 season, cut short due to injury, he has never played less than 130 games in a year. And during his tenure as a Pittsburgh Pirate catcher, he was penciled in as the team's leadoff hitter on a number of occasions. Along the way, he picked up two more invitations to the Midsummer Classic, and was named the starting catcher that year in 2000.

After spending his first nine years with the Pirates, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics at the end of the 2004 season for what seemed to be another Pittsburgh rebuilding project. He made his playoff debut (finally) in 2006 and has since played in the postseason with two other teams (the Chicago Cubs in 2007, and the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008).

So on to the cards. Here is Jason Kendall's 2000 Topps card:

Nice action shot. He's blocking the plate, trying to receive the ball from the fielder before the runner tags home plate (the runner must have missed it the first time, because based on where the runner's leg is, it looks like he's diving back INTO Kendall). You can even see the dust flying everywhere and can only imagine that this shot could have been easily taken from the umpire's point of view. You have to admit, when Topps' photographers get an action shot, they get their action shot. And we the collectors apprecite it. Now on to card number 2:

It's the exact same picture, but upon further inspection, the border color is different, and the foil color is different too. Remember, this is 2000 Topps. There were no gold cards that year (they were brought back in 2001). This is not a photoshopped, or MS Paint job (I can't do either well enough to make it look real). It is a real card, but what set is it from...

What Card is This???

We'll see if whoever leaves comments gets it right. It should be fairly easy to answer. However, finding the actual set this card actually came from was near to impossible. Good luck.


JayBee Anama

UPDATE: Thursday, January 8, 2009.

Ryan Cracknell chimed in with the right answer at 1:53 AM (do bloggers ever sleep???). Yes, this was one of the three Sample cards given to dealers to show what the 2000 Topps baseball cards were going to look like. Kendall's card is #PP2 (PreProduction). The other two players featured in this set were Brady Anderson and Ryan Klesko. Thanks to all who participated. jba


Ryan Cracknell said...

I really liked Kendall back in thee day. How many catchers have there been who were a stealing threat? Not many.

Anyhoo, would this be the Pre-Production card (PP-2 to be exact)?

tastelikedirt said...

I don't know what card it is, but Kendall was a hard nosed SMART player when he was with the A's. He played all out.

Laurens said...

Employees only set?

Sooz said...

Topps Limited is my guess.