Bartolo Colon’s 1997 Donruss Signature Series baseball card (from my collection)
Right now, Bartolo Colon is one of my favorite New York Mets players – he’s nearly three years older than me and could not look less like a professional athlete if he tried, but he was an All-Star and runner-up in the American League Cy Young Award voting last year.
There are good reasons to doubt whether Colon can duplicate his success away from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum O.co Coliseum’s spacious foul territory, but that’s something Sandy Alderson can worry about now and the rest of us can think about in April if we need to.
Colon began his career 16 years ago with the Cleveland Indians as a 24-year-old rookie, and he certainly looked different then than he does now. He could potentially earn his 200th career victory in 2014, and is likely to reach 2,000 career strikeouts. Those aren’t Hall of Fame numbers by any stretch, but that is the record of a pitcher who’s had a very good career.
Beckett Media identifies 19 different Bartolo Colon baseball cards with certified autographs, but most date from his days as a prospect or his early career with Cleveland. This is the most common version of a card from the 1997 Donruss Signature Series set. If you look around, you can find one for around $5.
Travis Fryman played in the major leagues for 13 seasons with the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians between 1990 and 2002. He was a five-time All-Star, and won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.
The Tigers drafted Fryman out of high school in 1987 as a shortstop, making him their first-round pick. Four years later, he made his major league debut and finished 6th in the American League Rookie of the Year voting despite playing in just 66 games.
Over the course of his career, Fryman played more games at third base than he did at shortstop. His career batting average was .274, and he hit 223 home runs and had 1,022 RBI.
Since retiring after the 2002 season, Fryman has managed the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the New York-Penn League and is currently a minor league hitting instructor for the Cleveland Indians.
In 1996, Leaf Signature Series became the first product licensed by Major League Baseball to include an autograph card in every pack. With more than 250 players signing for the set, you can imagine that most are not greatly valued by collectors today.
Each player had gold, silver and bronze cards, determined by the color of the foil seal at the center of the card. Bronze are the most common, with 3,500 existing for most players. Silver were limited to 1,000 and gold to 500, except for a handful of short-printed cards. You can probably find a bronze version of the Travis Fryman card like I have here for under $5.
(If you’re seeing rounded corners on the scan, it’s an artifact of my blog theme. The Hot Stove Headlines inserts have standard, 90-degree corners.)