As I mentioned yesterday, one card in particular I received from Jeroen (AKA The Dutch Card Guy) stood out. I always associated the Skybox brand with basketball cards so I have very few in my collection. In fact, I doubt that I have ever picked up one by itself. Any that I own have been obtained either as trade throw-ins or part of lots I've purchased. This Mark Grace from 2000 Skybox Dominion was no different.
The card itself is pretty awesome. Grace and the catcher in a play at the plate. Both players are in full color while the background is in black and white. Grace's blue road jersey really pops. The catcher looks like he's covering the ball in his glove so unless Grace managed to dislodge the ball, he's probably out. This intrigued me enough to try to find out more.
For the Cubs' 2013 Topps cards, I searched the Getty Images website for the photo and then used Baseball-Reference for more information about the games. But back in the day, card companies got their photos from different sources so I had to do a little more digging.
My first instincts told me the catcher was from the Brewers. The helmet, leg pads and mitt all had a blue-ish hue to them as does the partial jersey number. The name on the back ends in "IE" so I headed over to Baseball-Reference for the 1999 Brewers roster.
They used four catchers that season, Dave Nilsson, Bobby Hughes, Charlie Greene and Robinson Cancel. No names that ended in "IE" so maybe Skybox used an older photo? A quick check of the 1998 Brewers roster didn't turn up anything either.
Hmmm. Another look at the photo and I supposed it could be a Pirates uniform. The blue could be black? I pulled up the 1999 Pirates roster and lo and behold, they had a backup catcher named Chris Tremie. He played in only 9 games that season (22 in his career) so with fingers crossed, I pulled up his game log from the season. Sure enough, he played in back to back games against the Cubs on July 21-22.
I clicked on the boxscore for the game on July 21st. Tremie entered the game as pinch runner for starting catcher Keith Osik in the third inning. How many catchers do you know of get used as pinch runners?!?
Further down the play by play breakdown, the Cubs were down 1-0 when Mark Grace led off the bottom of the 7th inning with a double. The next batter Sammy Sosa hit a line drive to the outfield and when Grace came around to score...he was out at home.
Single to CF (Line Drive); Grace out at Hm/CF-C
Oh well. I double checked the game the next day in case there was another opportunity. Grace was only on base once and did score a run, but he was on third and scored on a triple so I doubt there was a play at the plate.
That said, I am fairly confident that the photo on this card was taken on July 21, 1999 in Pittsburgh during the bottom of the 7th inning. Back-of-the-card Mark Grace does not seem to care for my ruling.