July TTMs

July returns feature a lot of cards from Cliff. In fact I got three such returns in a big stack of returns after July 4th weekend and they continued to roll in all month long..

A 7-day return from Ron Blomberg, the first Designated Hitter on the first Designated Hitter card is a fun one. When Cliff offered this one up I jumped at the chance. Especially given the fact that it seems like the DH is going to be universal moving forward. This isn’t the best photograph for a signature but sometimes the card itself represents something important in and of itself.

Giants nemesis Bobby Richardson was another 7-day return. This is another card from Cliff and like the rest of my 1965s, looks nice signed. I knew of Richardson from his World Series reputation but it was nice to get a sense of how good he was as a regular day player too.

He also included a Mickey Mantle tract in his return. It’s an interesting document which details Mantle’s conversion at the end of his life.

Former Giant Dick Schofield was the third 7-day return and the third featuring a card from Cliff. Where the 1966 is one of mine, the 1959 was provided by Cliff. I normally shy away from getting cards with facsimile signatures signed but this particular 1959 had some potential because the facsimile is small and hard to notice. The big blue signature looks pretty nice with the cool Pirates uniform and the magenta card background.

Reliever Doug Jones returned three cards in 14 days and added his own personal card to the pile as well. I like that each of these cards shows him with a different team. I also enjoy being reminded of an age when relief pitchers weren’t all 100mph phenoms. Jones relied on off speed stuff and his success shows how there are many ways to get batters out.

Jim Kaat returned all my customs signed in 18 days. I did not ask for this and am a little embarrassed when it happens (I very clearly request players to keep extras). Kaat was one of those guys I remember learning about as a kid in the great but not a Hall of Famer category of player. I’ve mentioned it before on this blog but I kind of prefer getting signatures from this class of player (Richardson also counts here).

Kyle Peterson’s 27 day return though reminded me of why I enjoy sending out customs. For every player like Kaat who signs and returns everything, there are multiple players like Peterson who not only keep the extras but send me a thank you note.

It’s notes like this that are why I love making and sending out customs. Not only do they allow for more interesting letters but it’s nice to give the players something too. I watched Peterson pitch when he was in college and it’s fun to not only commemorate that on a card but have it be the rason why I made the request.

Another custom I was thrilled to get back. Ralph Garr returned this in 29 days. I was beginning to worry that he didn’t like the photo…which would’ve been a shame since it’s one of my favorite baseball photos. I originally made this custom as a joke for Lanny but it was too good to not try getting it signed.

Jason Middlebrook returned another custom in 30 days. Middlebrook pitched a no-hitter when he was at Stanford and spent parts of four seasons in the majors.

Paul Carey is one of those guys whose signature I got a lot when he was in college but never got him on a professional card. By the time he would’ve been coming to Alumni games I was out of the hobby. It’s nice to get some cards for the album and it’s always nice to send a custom out of a guy I watched play while he was in school. For a long time it didn’t look like he was signing through the mail but he started doing so recently and turned these around in 31 days.

I found a cache of Mother’s Cookies cards and decided I should re-send to Van Landingham. I like getting the Mother’s cards signed because their nature as stadium giveaways makes them more personal to me as a fan who went to those giveaway days. 22 days later I had another signed Mother’s card as well as a fun pitcher batting card signed for the album.

I thought about sending Lindy McDaniel a Giants card but I didn’t really like any of them for signing plus Cliff had sent me a gorgeous 1957 Topps card instead. I did mention that I was a Giants fan and much to my surprise 11 days later, I found a signed Giants photo tucked in with my signed card. Very cool.

1976 doesn’t have a lot of action cards but the ones it does have are all sort of rough and raw and suggest a much grittier game than I’m used to seeing. With Von Joshua last month and Steve Ontiveros’s 10 day return this month I’ve now got a couple signed 1976s that aren’t posed. Oh, and this is another card from Cliff.

Chris Arnold’s 10 day return brought me my first signed SSPC card. Cliff had given me a stack of Giants and as a result I ended up with a few duplicates. Perfect for sending out. The simple clean photo-centric design looks good with ink. Arnold is also an interesting character with that catcher/infield position indication which only hints at his versatility. The back of his card mentions that he lead the California league in wins as well.

Jose Vizcaino was a member of the 1997 Giants team that brought me back into baseball after the 1994 strike had caused me to drift away. It’s always fun to remember that team  and that pennant race and I was happy to get these back in 27 days.

It was bound to happen eventually but Glenn Adams is the first guy to keep one of the cards I sent while still sending back a return. In this case he kept a 1976 SSPC card I got from Cliff and sent back my 1979 Topps card in 13 days. I kind of wish he’d done the opposite so I’d have a Giants card in the album but it’s fine. 1979 is a nice clean design for signatures.

Marty Keough was a quick 7 day return. This is a card from Cliff and is the first signed Senators card in my collection. Fun that this is a first-year Senators card as well. Keough played for both the San Francisco Seals and the San Jose Red Sox in the 1950s before the Giants came to town.

Ron Gant is one of my favorite players because he signed for me in-person back when I was a kid hanging over the Candlestick fence during batting practice. Back then the Braves were part of the NL West I saw them a lot and Gant was always fun to watch too. I wanted to try and get a Studio card signed since I’ve been sending those out in other requests as well. He’s a great signer and 10 days later these came back.

This is a fun one. I whipped up a custom as a way to celebrate Mike Aronstein winning the first SABR Baseball Cards Committee Burdick Award. We wanted to stay away from Topps designs and the SSPC Baseball Immortals set felt like the perfect choice to honor Mike. This is the first custom I’ve gotten printed in bulk since we ordered a couple hundred for SABR to distribute.

I decided to send my copy out so I could write my own thank you note about the role TCMA cards played in my youth.  I really miss sets like TCMA which taught me about players from the past. They’re the perfect thing for kids to learn about the game especially since real vintage cards of those players are out of their reach. Mike sent my card back in 7 days along with a couple TCMA postcards of the Santa Fe Fuegos.

This return from Mike also kicked off a run of eight days where I got at least one return a day.

Back to more cards from Cliff. The San Diego Chicken wasn’t on my request radar but I kind of love this return and card. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got such nice penmanship but it’s also a nice reminder for me to explain to my kids about how mascots weren’t always a thing with baseball. The Chicken is a good signer too, address is on his website and this came back in 9 days.

The 1976 Jon Matlack came from Cliff and I added a 1983. Matlack was due to be inaugurated to the Mets Hall of Fame this season before everything got all screwed up. He sent the pair of cards back in 7 days and included a nice inscription on the index card as well.

Cliff provided me a 1966 card of Rick Reichardt which appears to have had the stick of gum stuck to the front half a century ago. Reichardt was a bonus baby whose massive contract is part of the reason why Major League Baseball decided to create an amateur draft. He also played in Hawaii in 1964 so I need to ask my mom if she remembers him the way she remembers Bob Duliba.

Reichardt signed in 8 days and included a signed photocopy enlargement of his 1967 Topps card as well. This is one of the more interesting player-provided pieces I’ve received.

The aptly-named Horace Speed returned on of the SSPCs Cliff sent me in 22 days. Speed was a pinch-running specialist who played three seasons in the majors but only got a Topps card in 1979. It’s nice to add another signed SSPC and it’s also nice to get guys who have a single Giants card to sign that one card.

Johnny Grubb was a quick 10-day return. Building the 1978 set (it’s not done yet but I’m only missing the two big-ticket rookie cards) left me with a decent number of duplicates. It’s a set I’ve found that I really like to have signed and players like Grubb who I remember from my first years of collecting are especially fun to track down. Is he a household name? Not really. But a 16-year Major League career is nothing to sneeze at.

Dave Baldwin is on a card from Cliff. He’s got a great signature that reminds me of Jeff Ballard’s and returned this in 11 days. Nice to have a Senators card signed and, like Reichardt, Baldwin is another Hawaii Islander I need to ask my mom about. Where Reichardt played in Hawaii in 1964, Baldwin played in 1965 and 1966.

Baldwin also included three of his own cards that show him with each team he played with. This is very cool since it shows the arc of his career. The back of his cards point to snakejazz.com which shows that he’s had an interesting life since baseball and is a pretty neat guy who’s done a little bit of everything.

I thought I’d lost this Brett Saberhagen card. He had apparently changed his address a week after I sent this out and while returns were coming back from the new address, there were a bunch of cards sent to the old one that ended up being long-outstanding. 64 days later this finally came back. Saberhagen was one of those guys who speaks to my generation of fans. I went with a silly photo because I didn’t have a 1985 card to send.

Paul Zuvella sent back one of my Stanford customs in 46 days. This is a custom I like because of the similarity in photos between his college photo and is professional photo. I’m happy to get him on a Braves card as well since I’d gotten him on Yankees and Indians cards at Stanford back when I was a kid.

Claude Osteen is another card from Cliff. This came back in 14 days. Osteen was one of those players I just remember reading about when I was a kid. For some reason his being a bit of an unsung hero on those Koufax and Drysdale teams really stuck out at me. I dig the inscriptions on this even though I’m a Giants fan.

I remember Storm Davis as a member of those late-80s A’s juggernauts but he was a bit of a journeyman. It’s kind of fun to get a batch of cards which represent a player’s career like this. This is also my first signed 1990 Topps (I typically shy away from this set but this card looked like it would work okay) and I’m enjoying accumulating signed Studio 91s.

Diamond Jim Gentile played in the last game at Ebbets Field. Very cool. Also very cool is that this is the first Kansas City Athletic card I’ve gotten signed. It’s been fun to get cards signed from teams that no longer exist and Cliff got me started on three of them with this and the two Senators cards further up this post.

This was a 14 day return on a card from Cliff which finished off an eight-day streak of returns. Eight days doesn’t sound too impressive but  given how little mail I get most Tuesdays and Wednesdays in general the fact that I got a TTM return for eight straight mail days is the longest streak I ever expect to get.

Of course after that 8-day streak broke I got no more returns for the entire month—including a couple days of no mail at all. Funny how things go. This was a good month though and I got a lot of requests out too so that bodes well for August as well.

Big League Maildays

Catching up on a handful of small maildays. Most of these involve 2020 Big League and so are especially welcome because I’ve hit my local Target all of once since last March and when I did the card aisle was completely bare.

The first one though is this small PWE from Mark Hoyle which contained two 2019 Bowman Chromes. Not the usual thing I expect from Mark at all to the point where I was curious how he encountered these since he never rips any new product.* They’re appreciated here though. I’m being optimistic about in-person autographing being something that will be feasible in the future and accumulating Giants prospects in case they come through Trenton with Richmond is part of that optimism.

*Turns out they were bumper cards.

A nicely-stuffed PWE from Marc Brubaker brought a bunch of cards from sets I never rip in addition to a few Big Leagues. That Posey is fantastic* and the design is a nice throwback to simpler days which works perfectly with the non-gloss paper stock.

*I don’t collect colored parallels but I’m tempted to make an exception this year with the orange ones since the orange Posey looks even better.

I love the feel of the Diamond Kings. They’re still some of the most satisfying cards to just handle. I just can’t tell the years apart, and I don’t mean in terms of just associating cards with years, it took me a long time to realize that there were two different years of cards in the envelope.

It’s nice to cross the 2020 Jed Lowrie off my Stanford searchlist. The 2020 design is much-maligned but I still like it, especially with photos like the Alex Dickerson which are not possible with the usual transparency at the bottom designs that have dominated cards over the past couple decades. And it’s fun to see this year’s sticker and sticker back designs. Neither is as nice as last year but they’re sufficiently different to be interesting.

I also received a small package from Cards on Cards with a Big League box panel. I like the box card sets but with blasters doubling in cost those cards have become a lot harder for me to get. He included a bunch more Big League cards which, between Marc and some other mailings, has meant that I can supply my kids with enough Giants to keep them happy.

The Evan Longoria caricature was a nice surprise. I don’t chase those but they’re nice to add to the binder. Gypsy Queen and Prism also fall into this category. Neither is my thing but I enjoy having an example or two in the binder anyway and I’m glad people are happy to send them to me.

Thanks guys!

Big Box from Deetdedee

Jeff Smith (@deetdedee) is a relatively new twitter contact for me. He’s probably best described as a Lefty O’Doul supercollector but he’s also just another pre-war aficionado. He’s recently undergone a collection downsizing as he’s decided to focus just on his interests and get rid of everything else.

He said he had a big box to send me for myself and the boys. Then Covid hit and all our plans got put on hold. As we found our way in the new normal, he eventually got the box out and it did eventually arrive.

It was stuffed with a ton of stuff from around 2000–2002. Some of it stuck together (I managed to sprate most of it without issue), some of it loose. But there was a small pile of special cards for me. These three are the highlights for my collection.

The 1964 Home Run Leaders card was one that always ran a little more than I wanted to spend even though it’s one of those cards that needed to be in my Giants album. A lot of the League Leaders cards feel like indulgences but this one with all three Giants Hall of Fame sluggers (plus bonus Hank Aaron) is special.

The Jim Lonborg autograph is from the Fleer Sports Illustrated sets and is a welcome addition to my Stanford binder. It’s not a design I particularly like but something about it just works, especially when you see a page of them.

David Aardsma meanwhile is one of those prospects I remember from the Bonds years back before I drifted away from the team. I never realized that he put together a respectable 10-year Major League career after his single season in San Francisco.

There wa sa decent stack of other cards of interest. This photo shows most of them. A few vintage Giants Hall of Famers. All duplicates but they’ll make the boys very happy. Some shiny modern cards including a couple fun Will Clarks showing him in college. And a couple of relics of players I don’t usually see relics from.

The four 2008 Opening Day Golds of Tim Lincecum kind of weird me out. Base Opening Day eschews the team-colored circles and instead has a red border with white circles and gold stamping. The gold version just drops the red borders and leaves everything else intact. Addition by subtraction but it also robs the design of its most-interesting feature.

I’ve decided togo through the rest of the cards by pulling out examples of the cards that were in the box. Most of these are Giants but there are a few other needs such as the 1986 Topps Earl Weaver that I still need for my set build.* I don’t have much to say about most of these cards since they’re mostly all familiar to me but Jeff did well and managed to send a bunch that I need still.

*Yes I know I said I’m finished but a trade fell through and I’m still missing a dozen cards.

The 1992 Bowmans I needed all of. Also the 1991 Ultra Terry Kennedy and many of the 1993 Bowmans. The Darren Lewis Award Winner is also new to me as are the 1998 Donruss and 1998 Scores. As always the duplicates are alreadt on my sons’ piles for the next day they behave.

A bunch more cards which take us into the bulk of the box’s 2000–2002 emphasis. Two big stacks of Bowmans that I mostly needed again. A bunch of Bonds cards as well that I hadn’t encountered; I’m pretty sure every one pictured here is new to me. And that foil 1955 Bowman retro JT Snow sure is something.

The Upper Deck SP Pros and Ulitmate Victory sets at the bottom right corner are two of the sets that were especially prominent in the box. Most of those were also stuck together but managed to pull apart without issue.

Unlike the SPs and Ultimate Victorys, the Black Diamonds didn’t survive their unsticking nearly as well. Oh well, I found a couple Shawn Greens during my digging and have added him to my Stanford Album even though he’s not officially part of the project.

Like Ken Williams and Bill Wakefield, Green went pro while he was still a student so he never played for the baseball team. Unlike Williams and Wakefield, he has a TON of cards so I need to figure out which ones I want. I’m okay sort of supercollecting Bob Boone or Mike Mussina. I do not however want over a hundred Shawn Green cards.

The rest of these continue to fill in holes nicely. Most of the Jeff Kents are new. I’ve never seen Topps Fusion or Topps HD (which look kind of amazing in hand). The 2001 Fleer Traditions managed to mesh perfectly with my cards to give me basically a complete set (missing a Barry Bonds League Leader and Carlos Valderrama). And the Upper Decks even managed to scratch off a couple from my searchlist too.

Coming out of the sweet spot of the box with 2002 sets. Thsi year’s Blakc Diamond works for me. Not sure why. The Legends of New York set is a really interesting set although I don’t trust those felt patches to not leave dust all over.

I kind of like the Pacific Private Stock (no idea what’s up with the gold and silver versions) and it’s nice to have a decent amount of 2002 Donruss, Fleer, and Upper Deck Vintage. Upper Deck MVP meanwhile doesn’t look like an insert anymore. Instead it looks like something I should be using to play baseball Uno.

The last batch of sets is winding down from the meat of the box except for the huge stack of 2020 Donruss. Plenty of Giants for us to share but plenty of other cards for the boys to divvy up including a couple of relics. It’s a nice enough design that doesn’t look too bad for a logoless offering.

I actually needed most of the rest of the cards here too. Pretty much everything but the 2005s and 2018 Holidays fit holes in the binder. And my kids love the Holiday cards so that works out just fine.

Thanks Jeff! The boys will have fun going through the rest of the box. Lots of shiny stuff for my youngest in particular.

Oldest Cards

I’ve somewhat-recently I picked up some new oldest-baseball cards for my collection. Yes, the 1901 RG Knowles is kind of a baseball card but it doesn’t depict him as a ballplayer. Until then my oldest cards had been my pair of 1917 Zeenuts. While I’d like to get a T205 at some point, I haven’t had the money to move for one of the star players and haven’t really had the opportunity to just grab a random Giant.

I do however on occasion search for some of the Stanford guys who show up on pre-war cards. These are usually fruitless but much to my surprise a couple weeks ago one turned up at a decent price.

This is a 1916 Zeenut of Johnny Couch. Not only is this a San Francisco Seal card, it’s also a Stanford card. Stanford doesn’t have a lot of early ballplayers and most of them don’t show up on accessible cardboard. Bert Delmas and Charlie Swindells don’t appear to have any cards at all.* Bill McGilvray has one T210 card but it’s in the super hard to find series so that’s not going to happen. Tillie Shafer is on two cards (M116 Sporting Life and D304 General Baking) that are similarly out of reach.** Ernie Nevers is a football Hall of Famer whose baseball cards carry a premium as a result. so that leaves Zeb Terry and Johnny Couch as the only remaining players who are remotely accessible.

*There are a bunch of Delmas cards listed in the database but they all date to the year of his birth so I’m assuming the database is wrong. I do have his Target Dodgers card though. 

**I do have a reprint of the General Baking card though.

Couch shows up on a half-dozen Zeenuts from 1916 to 1929 which makes searching for his cards an easy thing to do periodically. This 1916 is his first professional card and predates his time in the Majors. Unlike my other Zeenuts it’s got a bit of color to it with some cyan sky/cloud details behind the usual black and white photo. The difference in design has encouraged me to casually work on putting together a type collection of Seals cards. At first I was thinking just Zeenuts but there really aren’t that many PCL issues out there.

Here’s my start. Five vintage Seals cards from 1916 to 1953. In addition to the Couch there’s a 1917 Zeenut Del Baker, 1928 Zeenut Nick Williams, 1931 Zeenut Pop Penebsky, and 1953 Mother’s Cookies Bill Boemler.

That the four Zeenuts are four of my six oldest baseball cards (a fifth is a 1917 Zeenut) makes me think about why I’ve been so much more eager to acquire random Seals players compared to random Giants players from the same period. Some of this is price—the Giants carry the same New York surcharge that Yankees do—but there’s also something to me feeling more interested in PCL baseball in that pre-integration period.

I don’t normally collect Minor League cards but the PCL’s status as an independent league in a part of the country without Major League baseball makes them that much more interesting to me. These aren’t just cards of the team that existed before the Giants came to town, they’re also cards of a different age of baseball organization. I think that’s pretty cool.

The other accessible Stanford player is Zeb Terry. He has a 1917 Zeenut but also appears on a couple American Caramel releases. One of these also just popped up recently at a good price so I jumped on it. Where the Couch is my oldest baseball card, this 1921 American Caramel is my oldest (by a dozen years!) Major League card and the only non-PCL card of my oldest six cards that I mentioned earlier.

It’s not the best photo of Terry but I’m tickled to have an American Caramel card. Certain pre-war sets just have a bit of mystique and this is one of them. While my reticence in acquiring pre-war Giants cards has surprised me, the Stanford project remains appealing and I love that it’s given me the excuse to reach out and find cards that are a century old.

Bible Lessons

Continuing my trend of posting pre-war cards on Mondays, today I’m going to look at a pile of cards I found at my parents’ house last summer. We’d saved a bag of ephemera from my grandparents’ house but I’d never properly looked through it. Last summer, as I was finally clearing my stuff out of my parents’ I took a moment to look through the bag.

It was pretty cool. Lots of valentines and postcards but what caught my eye was a stack of over 50 Sunday school Bible lesson cards. The oldest of the cards are from 1902—older than both of my grandparents actually. I’m not going to scan the entire stack but this one shows off why they caught my eye. Most of them are printed in wonderful chromolithography with lush bright colors and really intricate artwork.

The more I look a old cards like these the more I appreciate the stipple patterns and the way they were designed for specific inks rather than being a generic CMYK process screen like I’m used to. Yes I love looking at my halftone rosettes too but there’s a world of difference in looking at an image being reproduced in process colors and one which is using each ink for a specific purpose.

Despite starting in 1902, there’s a decade gap in years before a good run of cards starts in 1912. These 1912 cards are printed just as nicely and the dark cards are especially nice with the amount of contrast they can hold.

What caught my eye the most with these though is that while they’re produced in the United states, the text is all in German. This fits with family history since my great-grandparents immigrated from what would eventually become Germany* and so attending a German-language church makes complete sense.

*Family lore, the timing of the immigration, and where my ancestors came from all point to them trying to escape the Prussian Army in the 1870s. All of which makes it difficult for me to say that my ancestors come from Germany.

The thing about printing these in German though is that it’s a reminder of how there have always been multiple languages in the United States. There’s a lot of ahistoric “speak American” rubbish that comes from the racist wing of our society and it’s important to remember how not only has the US always been multilingual, that there have been large institutions set up to support those languages.

This isn’t a single German church in California printing its own Sunday school lessons in the basement. This is a printing company in Rhode Island which is supplying these cards to churches across the country.

I have German-language cards from 1912 through 1915. Again not scanning everything but I’ve selected a few examples where the artwork really pops. I especially love the card of The Deluge (Die Sintflut) and how the stippling changes so much between the swirling water, solid boat, and sleeting rain. It’s kind of the perfect example of what chromolithography does best.

The backs are also in Fraktur which, as I mentioned before in my first Sanella post, is especially interesting due to the direction that German typesetting would go in the following decades.

1915 though is the last year of German language cards. The last card I have from that year is from the 4th quarter so my family appeared to attend that church through most of the year. I have no idea if they moved or if this is related to the changing political climate.

Anyway, starting in 1916 the cards are in English. More disappointingly, they’re now printed with a standard halftone screen. The art doesn’t glow the same way and they’re nowhere near as fun to look at. They’re still pretty cool though for being over a century old. As my kids are going through their catechism it’s interesting to compare their lessons and the worksheets they get in church to these cards.

Of the 50 or so cards I have from 1912 to 1917, it’s worth noting that none of them appear to duplicate the same story. Yes these are from different manufacturers but I have about a year’s worth of Sundays over enough time to cover two full liturgical cycles.

Definitely fun to look through in an album (these are roughly 3″×4″ so they‘re in 4-pocket pages). They’re currently in order chronologically but it might be fun to reorder them by the order events happen in the Bible.

I Need New Hobbies

I received a small mailday from a new trade partner last week. Scott at I Need New Hobbies (@INeedNewHobbies) noticed me mention not having any 1971 Senators or Brewers cards for my moves and expansions project and suggested he could send me some extras.

We messaged a couple times. Found out that he’s familiar with our local record shop (a very good one that the boys love to go to to find cheap kid DVDs). I sent him some set-build needs and he sent me four 1971 Topps.

Three Brewers which are better than most of Topps’s first-year cards because in 1970 Topps printed them as Pilots. Where most of Topps’s new team cards are hatless wonders like the Carl Taylor, Phil Roof and Dick Ellsworth show the original Brewers uniforms with the residual Pilots trim on the sleeves.

And one Senator in a typical 1971 action image. I kind of love this card. It’s just a shame that Brewers, Senators, and Giants are all white team names. I have about 50 cards from this set and I have twice as many white team names as I have team names in any other color.

Very fun though. It’s nice to have a handful of these now. I’m not sure how I avoided getting any of these before. Thanks Scott!

June TTMs

The past couple months have involved just been keeping the hopper from being empty. The result seems to be a lot of quiet days with occasional multi-return days. June got off to a great start with a three-return day which encouraged me to increase my send rate as the month went on.

The first return of June was a 21-day return from Von Joshua. Joshua spent only a season and a half with the Giants but one of those was his career year.  After 5 years with the Dodgers as a pinch hitter and part-time outfielder, the Giants made him their starting center fielder in 1975. That year he posted a .317 batting average (compared to .273 for his career) and a .806 OPS (compared to a career .686).

It’s always nice to send a card out which represents a player’s best, or most-important, season. I always make sure to mention the significance of the card in the letter too. In the same way that Von Joshua’s 1976 card commemorates his 1975 season, José Santiago’s 1968 card commemorates his fantastic 1967 season with the Impossible Dream Red Sox as well as his even better 1968 season. Plus he managed to hit a home run off of Bob Gibson in the 1967 World Series.

Santiago is my second return from Puerto Rico as well. Unlike the return from Juan Gonzalez, this one only took 18 days. I don’t particularly like the 1968 design for autographs (this was another duplicate from my dentist’s stash) but this one is printed very well and the signature and photo both look great in person.

Fran Mullins’s 11 day return was the last of the opening batch. He was a light-hitting utility infielder with the Giants in 1984 but was good enough defensively to earn a positive WAR that season. This card is his only individual major league card so it’s kind of a fun one to have signed.

Harold Baines had been signing a lot during quarantine and I kind of had the feeling that I missed the window. I figured it was worth a shot to try anyway and 8 days my card came back. Very very cool.

He never felt like a Hall of Famer to me and I’m not inclined to use him as the benchmark for future inductees. But there’s no denying that he was solid player for a long time and had the kind of career any player would be proud of. Plus he did spend a couple good years with the A’s and while I’m not an A’s fan I definitely grew up with the A’s players.

1993 Upper Deck also looks great signed so I’m glad I had this one available to send to him. This one is great since it’s a little silly with his position labeled as DH yet the card showing him playing the field.

I had already sent to Duane Kuiper but I wanted to try him again with one of the postcards. 7 days later my return came back. The card was a bit beat up and faded but not so much that it looks bad. And like the Lavelle and Barr postcards last month it looks really nice with a signature on it.

I also included a 1976 Topps card in the envelope which came back nicely signed as well. Kuip’s letter was one I enjoyed writing because I can honestly say that not only I miss hearing him this summer but that it doesn’t feel like summer without him.

Pitcher Tom Griffin came back in 9 days. Griffin had a couple good years with the Astros but the only duplicate cards I had of him was a 1978 Topps with the Padres and a blurry 1982 Fleer with the Giants.

Actually he was pretty good with the Giants too. In 1980 he was a solid reliever. Not a closer or anyone who gets glory just a solid arm out of the pen who ate up innings, had a good ERA, and didn’t let guys get on base. In 1981 he moved to the rotation and wasn’t as effective.

Roger Metzger is another former-Astro, short-term Giant. He was a decent player, known for having a good glove in the mid-1970s, whose career was cut short after a table saw accident in 1980. Another player who I would’ve liked to have included an Astros card i the request, he returned his 1979 card in 28 days.

I’ve written a little about Mike Sadek before but it was nice to thank him for running those clinics back in the day. Because he gave the same fielding lesson each year his is the lesson I remember most. Four-seam grip. Working on the glove to barehand transfer. Holding the ball with both hands when tagging (as a catcher). I’ve actually used some of his advice when teaching my kids.

With Mike Kingery and Trevor Wilson I’ve now had a chance to thank htree of the instructors I remember from my youth. Tony Perezchica is another who I remember. There should be a couple others but they’re slipping my mind. Anyway Sadek’s return came in only 11 days.

Bobby Estalella’s quick 10 day return was a bit of a surprise. Not sure why but I never expect the newer players to turn things around quickly. Estalella was the catcher when Pac Bell Park opened. He never quite lived up to his promise (getting caught up in the BALCO scandal didn’t help either) but for whatever reason I have a tendency to remember my Giants teams by who the catcher was.

While I do have a 1988 Mothers Cookies Phil Garner card showing him on the Giants, since those are typically hard to find and frequently expensive I opted to send a bunch of Topps cards from the same time period.

When I was a kid I didn’t care about getting Giants cards signed, I just liked that the players were Giants. I’m sticking to the same philosophy now. Anyone who played for the Giants goes into the Giants autographs binder. So what if he only played a fraction of a season for the Giants. That fraction of a season happened to be the first season my family had season tickets.

Plus adding “Scrap-Iron” to my binder is a lot of fun too. He only took 8 days to turn these around too.

A quick 7-day return from Juan Berenguer added another Mother’s Cookies card to my collection. Berenguer was only a Giant for a year but it happened to be the year I saw my first game. While the Giants used 25 players in that game, Berenguer was not one of them since he had started the game a couple days earlier when the Giants were no-hit by Mike Scott.

My favorite return of the month was this one from Jeffrey Leonard. He’s not a TTM guy but there was a private signing at a price I was okay with so I looked through my cards and picked the one with my favorite photo. A lot of his photos he looks less than pleased to be posing but this one is a slightly more casual shot. I especially like that it catches the 00 on his back too.

Before Will Clark, my favorite player was the HacMan. We all copied one flap down on the school playground and loved his swagger. I still haven’t replaced my stolen Will Clark jersey and a large part of this is that I’m considered ordering a Leonard one instead.

It’s weird for me to think that the Giants traded him for Earnie Riles. That was probably my first introduction to how dangerous it was to pick a favorite player. Thankfully there were other players who I liked on the team at that point.

I got a nice 21 day return from John Olerud. I only sent him the 1991 Studio and 1992 Topps cards but either he really liked my letter or I mistakenly got someone else’s card. Olerud was one of those all-class players who I just really enjoyed. Great to watch him play both in the field at at the plate plus he always seemed like the nicest guy.

I’ve been enjoying getting the 1991 Studios signed. They’re a bit tricky due to the amount of black but they end up looking pretty nice. Definitely better in hand than in a scan too since the duotone interacts nicely wth the blue sharpie.

Joe Carter is going into the Giants album due to his short-term stop at the end of his career in 1998. He was pretty good in that half season too. However I had to get him on a Blue Jays card since those World Series were a big part of my memories growing up. This McDonald’s set of all Blue Jays felt like the right choice. It came back in 13 days.

A 10 day return from Steve Scarsone added another Mother’s Cookies card to the collection. The face sign is a bit unfortunate but it is what it is. The other two cards are two designs which I’ve never gotten signed. I’m not a huge fan of that 1996 Donruss design where the foil covers a key part of the photo but it felt like an appropriate photo for a signature. 1994 Score though turns out to look pretty nice with a blue sharpie.

The day after Scarsone became my first signed 1996 Mother’s Cookies card, Mark Dewey returned my second after an 11 day request. Dewey is one of those guys who came up with the Giants, left, and then came back a couple years later. He’s probably most notable for refusing to take part in the 1996 Until There’s a Cure Day because even in the mid-1990s he still conflated the fight against AIDS as condoning homosexuality. He’s clearly still evangelizing and included a personal tract card with the return.

John Pacella is a request I made because I just like the card and photo. This is one of my favorite card photos in general with the cap only inches off the ground. It’s nice to be able to send a request that’s just as simple as “I love your card and would love to get it signed.” Pacella seems like a good guy too with a nice note on the index card and a fast 9 day return.

This month I also got another round of custom cards made. Which means I was able to send a bunch of them out. The first one back was an 11 day return from John Gall who became the first classmate of mine for me to get a return from. He was a good 4-year player at Stanford and had a number of good years in the Minors on his way to the Majors. He wasn’t able to make it stick there and ended his career after a couple more decent years in AAA.

Ruben Amaro didn’t keep any customs and sent back all three signed in 15 days. I have a bunch of autographed cards of his from when I was a kid but it’s nice to send these customs out and add more of them to the collection.

I swore I had a Sandy Vance autograph from when I was a kid but I couldn’t find it on any of my multi-signed balls.* That his only card is a 1971 Topps card with facsimile autograph meant that I had to figure out a custom. I had to use his 1971 card photo since I couldn’t find any color Dodgers photos but I’m happy with the result even though his pen had some problems.

*Note, I’ve since found that I had neglected to photograph one ball yeahs ago. That needs to be remedied soon.

Why am I happy? Because notes like these make returns fun. We’ve had discussions online about sending piles of cards and how “please keep whatever” might be construed as angling for everything to be signed. I always send extra customs though with an explicit request that the player keep all the extras. It’s nice when they do. It’s even nicer when they send a thank you note back.

I got a fun 35 day return from fan-favorite Bill Mueller. The fact that he was so popular despite following in Matt Williams’s footprints says a lot about him. Even though his best seasons were with the Red Sox I’ll always think of him as a Giant first.

This is also a fun return since it adds two new sets to my collection. These are my first signed 1997 Pacific and 1998 Donruss cards. Both work pretty well despite having so much going on in the designs already.

Cy Young Award Winner Doug Drabek is a super-reliable signer who returned three cards in 10 days. I didn’t watch many of baseball games on TV—just the playoffs—but I remember watching Drabek pitch. That 1998 Score isn’t the best choice for a signature but it’s one of my favorite card photos so I had to give it a shot. A shame he doesn’t have a silver pen but it looks okay in person even if it scans/photos poorly.

Pete Stanicek was a repeat send for me but I wanted to send a custom to him. He signed two (kept one) in 17 days as well as a 1988 Donruss card. He was a hard guy to find a photo of with the Orioles but thankfully I found one that I didn’t have to scan.

Vance Law is one of those legendary signers who I always knew I was going to send cards to at some point.I figured I’d go for the mix of teams and slowly work on increasing the number of signed 1988s I have. I’m not crazy enough to go for a signed set but as much as I was disappointed with the 1988 design when I was a kid I really like it now. Law totally does not disappoint either with a fast 8-day turnaround and a really nice signature.

Bobby Witt is another legendary signer who I sent cards from two of my favorite sets to. He also turned thing around in 8 days. It’s very nice to add a couple 1991 Studios this month and I like his portraits in both that and the 1988 Topps. And like with Vance Law, I had to include an A’s card since while I’m a Giants collector, I also remember a lot of the players who came through Oakland when I was a kid.

Bill Swift is a guy who I got when I was a kid but who I wanted to send to since he has a couple cards I just really like. These came back in 8 days. The 1985 Topps becomes my oldest signed Olympics card. I’d gotten a bunch of 1988s signed but no 1985s until this one. I also love the camcorder photo on the 1995 Collectors Choice SE. Not so much a fan of the blue border but it works okay with the blue autograph.

Billy was one of my favorite pitchers in the early 1990s as the ace of the staff in both 1992 and 1993. The Giants 1993 season is probably the best Giants team I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching and Swift was a huge part of that with 21 wins and a fully-deserved runners-up in the Cy young Award.

Pitcher Renie Martin is one of those guys who’s just on the outside of my Giants fandom. He’s been a sporadic signer but I took a chance and got a nice return 14 days later.

The best part about the Martin return though was that he signed another postcard for my collection. As the fourth signed card he completes a page (with Lavelle, Kuiper, and Barr) of Giants who I’ve had fun learning about since they were all names that I was vaguely aware of as a kid.

Gary Rajsich was a quick 8 day return. He has three rookie cards in 1983 but then nothing except for this 1985 Mother’s Cookies card. Well he has a few Japanese cards and a couple senior league cards with his brother which are kind of fun. As a Giants fan though it’s always nice to get another Mother’s Cookies card signed.

Bill Wakefield goes into the Stanford album with a quick 8-day return. It’s always fun to add a 1965 too. Wakefield was already a professional when he was an undergraduate so this card depicts him as a student. I was curious how he would react to my project since he didn’t play at Stanford but in some ways it feels like he might have a stronger connection to the school because he was just a student.

Not only did I get a nice inscription on the index card, he included this nice note back on my letter. I usually include the index cards as an opportunity for the players to write back but a decent number of them do it on the letters like this instead. I need to figure out what to do with these notes now.

Lots of good returns this month but the best one was a 97-day return from Will Clark. My youngest sent it out and was very patient even though his older brother got his card back a couple months ago. Patience rewarded and I have one thrilled second third grader.

His house is a museum…

Cliff/@oriolesrise is one of the all-time greats on Card Twitter. He lives out in Amish country where there seems to be no end to cheap antique finds and auctions. Every weekend or so he’s finding boxes of cool stuff and showing photos of them on his Twitter feed.

As a result he not only has a massive collection, he has a massive number of duplicate items. He’s very generous with these and offers them as trade bait. Many of us now have piles at his house that are waiting for a proper mailday (or for those of us closer to him, to visit the “museum”).

He’s also been using a lot of his duplicates for TTM requests and has been getting a number of great returns. A couple weeks ago he asked a bunch of the rest of us if we were interested in some guys. I was and last weekend I received my first mailing.

First stack of cards are players I’ve explicitly expressed an interest in getting autographs of. A decent number of former Giants on here (Schofield, McDaniel, McDowell, Ontiveros) but the others are players that for whatever reason stuck out to me.

Quite a few of these I’ve already sent out. I’ll keep writing letters too since Cliff sent these to me with the express purpose that they be used for TTM requests (although I did grab the 1954 Schofield for the colorwheels page).

Cliff though didn’t stop with just the small stack of cards I’d asked for for TTM stuff. He sent a big additional pile of TTM guys. That so many of these are older cards is especially cool. I don’t have a lot of old cards in general and the one I do have I have for specific reasons. As a result I’m not likely to send them out TTM.

In this batch I especially like the Dave Chalk just chilling photo and the Larry Gura traded card that shows him with a team he never played for.

Last batch of potential TTM cards includes a bunch of guys I’ve already gotten but a couple like Reichardt who are interesting to learn about.

One thing I have to figure out for myself is how I’ll feel about sending out the 1967, 1971, and 1977 cards with facsimile signatures since I generally avoid getting those signed.

There was a lot more stuff in the package beyond cards for TTMing. Cliff didn’t clear out my pile but he took a serious dent out of it. Let’s start off with a dozen pocket schedules including a couple from 1986 to 1988 which correspond to the beginning of my fandom.

I saved some of these from when I was a kid but did not collect them in general. This is a bit of a shame since the schedules, especially the promotions, are a lot of fun to see and other details like who the announcers and sponsors are are a great blast from the past.

Cliff included a ton of off-grade vintage Giants, most of which is going to go the boys. I didn’t get my first 1950s card until a couple years ago. I’m kind of jealous that they’ll get theirs before becoming teenagers. I’m going to have to figure out how to split up the Cepeda and McCovey since I can see those causing some sibling trouble.

Most of these however are cards I need. This is my second Laughlin World Series card and the first Giant. The team set of 1976 SSPC is great and gives me some duplicates I can use for TTM. The near-set of 1986 Fleer is great too since I only had like two Giants.

A couple Fleer updates complete those team sets as does a similar batch of Score Tradeds. For whatever reason while I was totally familiar with Topps Traded as a kid I got very few Fleer Updates and absolutely no Score Tradeds. Never too late to rectify that oversight.

Moving on to more-recent cards. The deck of Giants playing cards is fantastic. Not sure if I should open it or if I should just keep it sealed. Studio 95 meanwhile sure is something else with that credit card design. The hologram detail on the front facsimile signatures on the back are nice touches but overall this is a wild change of pace for a set that was originally about quality studio photography.

The Upper Deck Legends  and Legendary Cuts cards are interesting. This looks like one of those sets where the cards are just filler for the hits but the base cards are kind of nice. The Legends cards look good with both color and black and white photos—something not all designs succeed at—while the sepia toned Legendary Cuts cards nicely combine an old school photo treatment with a modern design.

Another fun item is this near-complete set of the first series of 1992 Crackerjack minis. I pulled a handful of these out of boxes when I was a kid so this is totally the kind of oddball I love. I also have to point out that Donruss used different photos than in its regular cards on this which is an extra level of attention to detail that I wish Topps did now with its endless design reuses.

A half-dozen Stanford cards made it in to the mailer too. A couple more Studio 95s, a fun 1994 All Star I didn’t have yet, and two 1996 Extra Bases. The Extra Bases are the most exciting cards here, partly because they’re an odd size and partly because I never come across them. These two may take me up to six in my collection. Nice to be able to finally fill a page.

It’s not just the size difference that I like, it’s the aspect ratio that I really dig. These are close to a tobacco card ratio but by being so huge they can get away with a nice photo. Most cards feature squarish photos. I love seeing how Fleer crops things to fit the something much more eccentric.

And finally a few cards that don’t fit the rest of the themes. That’s a complete set of Quaker Granola cards. Very very cool. That’s also a stack of 1990 Fleer which was intended to complete my set (most of those needs were filled by other trading partners even though I had those cards marked as “in progress” in my need list). The other six cards here though are a bit of a surprise and make me wonder if they were intended for a Braves or Red Sox collector and made it into my stack by mistake.

Anyway, very very cool. It’s going to be fun for the boys to go through and I’m going to have a lot of fun writing letters. Thanks Cliff!

A couple small maildays

The last week or so I received a couple small mail days which I need to catch up on. The first is from my committee co-chair Jason who’s been busy blinging out junk wax cards and turning them into artcard fundraising exercises.

He decided to send one of his creations to me so now I have this glittery 1980 Willie McCovey highlight. It’s very glittery but thankfully the glitter is attached to the paper well enough that nothing else is glittery. One card like this is fun. Having it infect the rest of my cards. Less fun.

Any moment now Jason’s going to discover holographic film and things are going to get well and truly wild.

The second mailing came from Matt over at Bob Walk the Plank.* Two years ago he withdrew from blogging and commenced on a grand reorganization** project. It seems like the past three months of lockdown have been good for his productivity as he’s found a number of cards that had no business being in his collection and started sending them out to better places.

*Who I just realized was missing from my endorsements page listing everyone in the hobby that I can vouch for. Sorry Matt, you’re on there now even though you don’t need it since half of Card Twitter has traded with you.

**My understanding is that Matt would contest the “re” part of this statement.

This means that I got a small envelope of shiny Giants parallels. Nothing fancy but all the kind of thing I refuse to seek since I refuse to play Topps’s artificial scarcity game. As a Giants fan though I do have to admit that I enjoy a good black parallel and this Scutaro mini certainly fits the bill. Do I care that it’s numbered out of 5? Not really. But I love being reminded of the rain game and seeing a card in the Giants team colors is always good.

The Bumgarner is also a mini. Apparently the gold mini parallels are numbered to 62 instead of 2013. No idea why. Don’t really care. But the gold is also a look that I have fond memories of due to 1992 provoking some nostalgia feels.

Two more gold parallels. OR at least I think that Schmidt Bowman is gold. I don’t know it’s also numbered to something under 100 and has a bit more sheen to it so maybe it’s a refractor? Anyway it’s the kind of shiny card that my youngest loves and which is vastly underrepresented in my sets

The Crawford meanwhile is the traditional numbered to 2015 gold parallel. I like 2015’s design a lot with all the color but I also like what Topps did with the Golds this year. That the cards look good in both versions says a lot about the strength of the design.

And finally, two base cards to fill out the package. Fence Busters is a callback to the 1967 Mays/McCovey card. I really wish that it showed Pence and Posey since a Pence Buster Fencer Busters card is the kind of stupid thing I enjoy. Marco Luciano is technically an insert since it’s a chrome prospect. Hopefully I’ll get to see him come through Richmond at some point.

Thanks guys!