Getting closer

Jeff Katz (@SplitSeason1981) has been in the process of upgrading his sets (I had sent him a few upgrade cards as part a previous trade) and generously offered to fill a few of the holes in my Giants wantlist with some of his now-replaced cards.

Because these are fairly low-grade cards condition-wise, they fall into the kind of hole where the value-to-shipping price ratio means that they aren’t really sellable online except as part of a large batch. This makes them perfect mailday cards since people like me are more than happy to get them for the cost of shipping.

Two 1968 League Leader cards featuring Giants. McCormick kind of amazingly lead the league in wins in 1967. McCovey meanwhile is further down the Home Run chart and has been relegated to a super-tiny photo on the card.

These two cards mean I’m now only missing three cards from this year’s Giants team set. Two of those three (NL Strikeout Leaders and the Juan Marichal checklist) are pretty cheap. The third on the other hand is the Killebrew, Mantle, and Mays card. Not cheap at all.

The good news though is that I’m done with the base cards and can now consider re-sorting everything from being alphabetical by last name to an order which is more representative of the Giants’ 1968 season. Whether this is by lineup order or something else is what I still need to figure out although going by lineup order will be tough since the only second baseman in the checklist spent the entire 1968 season in the minors.

The 1969 cards are more interesting. This time Marichal led the league in wins and the three-player leaders card is nowhere near as busy as the four-player 1968 cards. The Giants Heroes card is wonderful in how it looks like they’re just having a lot of fun.

The McCovey All Star though is my favorite of the batch. It’s a great design which holds up despite being pretty beat up. It’s interesting how much more accepting I am of beat up cards of star players. Some of this is purely value-based reasons where I know the beat up cards are all I can afford. But with the stars there’s also a sense that they were used more—whether put on display, traded, carried around, etc.—instead of being dumped in a shoebox or flipped on the playground.

These three take me to needing just five from that year. My 1969 needs are much more consistent with what I expect my entire wantlist to eventually look like: Hall of Famers (in this case just Mays and Marichal) and high numbers (including the double-whammy of a high-numbered rookie in Bobby Bonds). In fact most of my 1960–1973* want list at this point is close to this level of completeness. 1962 and 1963 are the only years where I have a lot of commons left to get.

*1973 being the last year of high numbers and the 1950s being a completely different level of collecting for me.

That I tend to leave the most-expensive cards for last means that this kind of low-grade help is tough to come by. I’m glad Jeff was able to help and it’s always fun to get a team set this close to the finish line.



My Various Projects

This is inspired by Night Owl but also represents a good opportunity to reflect on what’s taken shape in the year I’ve been back in the hobby and how different my collecting goals are from when I was a kid. I’ve previously mentioned how my childhood collecting consisted of trying to get a sample of everything—a pack of all current releases, a sample of every insert, one Topps card from each year, etc. So no real focus but I wouldn’t expect anything more from a kid either.

Now? I have more-focused interests which, while potentially huge, allow me to pick and choose what I want to spend money and time on. And yes of course I’m working on multiple projects. Many of them are listed on my general collecting page—as are the links to my want lists—but it’ll be fun to have a post dedicated to describing them in more detail.

One of the most-fun things to discover about the hobby is how much I enjoy putting checklists together. Many of these, such as the Lifers concept, are not intended to be real projects and are just checklists I’ve enjoyed making. Others though have become their own projects which I’m pursuing. We’ll start with the smaller projects and work up to the big ones.


Regional oddballs, food releases, police cards, stadium giveaways, etc. The wonderful thing about the 1980s and 90s is the because the baseball card industry exploded into an oversaturated, overproduced investment bubble, there were an uncountable number of weird cards produced as promotional items for stores, restaurants, food, etc. It’s amazing to see how many different sets there were and find out how few of them I’d ever heard of.

Oddballs are great because of how non-standard they are. They take risks in the form and the distribution. They’re limited to specific geographic reasons or demographic markets. They’re a wonderful way to learn about how different parts of the US were.

The best thing though is that they, more than any other genre of baseball card, are a direct link to the original baseball cards which were inserted into regional tobacco issues. The way that oddballs in particular tell the story of how baseball has been tied up with US consumer culture is why I love them.

Expansion and Moves

I covered this a little bit before since my batch of 1961 Topps cards included a number of first-year Twins, Senators, and Angels cards. It’s always been interesting to me to see cards from teams that no longer exist. But I also love the idea of seeing how Topps dealt with these changes. Yes the hatless airbrushed results are often horrible, but seeing the transition in the cards from the hatless ones in low-number series to band new uniforms in the high numbers is kind of wonderful.

This is also a project which really appeals to me from a history point of view. The idea have having a sampling of cards from the last year a team is in a city is as neat to me as having cards from its first year in a new city. It chronicles the way that Major League Baseball has changed over the decades and who has had direct access to games.

There’s no proper checklist for this project either. I’m trying to get a sample of first and last years in a location as well as any interesting things that also occur in terms of franchise identity. So far I’ve been mainly getting 1960s cards since there were eight new teams, three moves, and one name change during that decade. But I do plan to try and get samples from the five 1950s moves and for whatever reason I’ve been pretty slack on getting 1970s cards as well.

I will eventually move into the 90s as well but I need to check how many Marlins and Rockies cards are in my childhood collection first.

Photography and Design

In keeping with the rest of my blog’s focus, of course I would also collect baseball cards as samples of photography and design. Heck, baseball cards made up a significant portion of my visual literacy education. This is very much my beat on SABR where I’ve written about cards from the auteur theory point of view or done deep dives into the typesetting and design of a specific release.

I’m unable to not treat cards as a designed object and as much as I love baseball, I will respond to well-crafted cards regardless of the team or player pictured. I don’t usually get the “got to have it” urge but every once in a while I see something which strikes me as being especially well made or interesting from a craft point of view.


I started this as research for a SABR post but it’s been interesting enough for me to continue pursuing from a general photography and printing point of view. I love seeing how companies have tried to represent action on cards and, like with the oddballs, there’s a lot of experimentation which is extremely fun to see.

The 1950s and 1960s action cards are great because featured action photography were not common on baseball cards until the 1970s.* The 1980s and 1990s cards meanwhile are wonderful low-tech gimmicks which have managed to entrance my kids even in the age of ipads and touch screens.

*I’m not counting the background action on things like 1956 Topps. 


While I’ve also started a series of SABR posts about these, I started collecting Spanish-language baseball cards as soon as I learned about their existence. Where O Pee Chee and Leaf were interesting in their bilingual French-Canadian way, they were still not made for a US market so I always counted them as foreign cards. The Spanish-language sets from 1993–2003 on the other hand are distinctly for US markets and the fact that they’re either bilingual or Spanish-only is extremely interesting given how much “speak ‘American’” is still a thing.

I don’t regret giving up on the hobby after the strike, I am sad though that I never saw these in the wild.


On to the big projects. I’ve introduced this one in a post already but it’s come a lot further since then as I’ve been using it as a way to learn about the trading card landscape which I missed in the two dozen years I was away from the hobby. Many of the Topps cards have been knocked off now and I’ve had to expand the searchlist to try and get samples of cards of the players in various uniforms.

Most of the players on this list either only had a couple seasons in the majors or, despite a long career, were the kind of bench players who didn’t make it onto many of the set checklists of the late 1990s and early 2000s. I quickly realized sticking just to Topps, while a decent way to keep the official search list under control, wasn’t going to give me a good representation of the players’ careers.


My largest project and one which will never be finished. There’s always more to collect. I grew up a Giants fan attending games at Candlestick. Giants cards have always been a major part of the appeal of card collecting and of course getting cards from the teams I’ve followed and the franchise history I devoured as a child is a wonderful way to both relax and to share the experiences with my kids.* At the same time much of this isn’t a specific searchlist. I am trying to get team sets of the entire Topps run up until 1993** but everything after that—as well as the non-Topps cards—is pretty much undefined.

*My 8-year old is devouring Giants and baseball history in very much the same way and it’s wonderful to watch. My 5-year old meanwhile is eagerly trying to copy his big brother and gets more excited finding cards of players I liked when I was little than he does about cards of current players.

**No I don’t expect to even do this since many of the cards on that list are way more than I ever expect to feel comfortable paying for a piece of cardboard.

All that said, I’m totally using the Giants and Stanford themes as a way to focus many of my other projects. Spanish-language cards? I’ll just make a checklist of the Giants and Stanford players. Same goes with Oddballs—though if it’s a Giants-specific Oddball set like Mother’s Cookies I’ll want the whole set. This allows me to not go too crazy with collecting everything while still giving me many fun things to look out for.


Many of the other “various project” posts mention various sets that people are building. I’m not quite in set-building mode yet but I did cross the 50% mark on 1978 Topps recently. I still plan on putting together needlists of 1986 Topps, 1990 Fleer, and 1991 Donruss too but those all require me to catalog my childhood collection once I visit my parents next summer. Once I do that I’ll have to put together a post of “childhood sets I’d like to complete” and ass that to my next project list.

November Backlog

Continuing from October.



October Backlog

Continuing from September.



Second complete project

While the best part of collecting projects is defining the scope and putting the checklist together, there’s an undeniable satisfaction in slipping that last card into the sheet and crossing it off the checklist. Sure my Old Timers project was only eleven cards that I could’ve purchased any time by just throwing money at them, but the slow search to do this on the cheap was a lot of fun.

Cards From the Attic was running a Vintage Set Collect offer for 1960s commons and I was very happy to see the Danny Cater rookie card listed among the commons. I’ve never understood why it got the rookie surcharge to the point where it usually priced out to be the most-expensive card in the project so it was great to get it for closer to a buck instead.

Anyway while I scanned the first seven cards I purchased for my first post and the surprise Bob Veale later, I haven’t scanned the other cards in the project yet.

The Joe Christopher high number is something I found on eBay for a couple bucks. This one again frequently lists for a lot more so I was pleased with the find. It’s also a very nice looking card with a great portrait photograph.

And the 1974 Bill Fahey is cheap common. The main thing here is that I had to figure out which Bill Fahey card to use since he wasn’t one of the 1964 old timers, I went with the 1974 card because I liked the photo and it was the oldest round-number anniversary card of his to go with the 25-year celebration of the 1964 Phillies.

So that takes us to the complete project looking like so.

Loose ends here involve Charlie Wagner and Hank Aaron. Wagner doesn’t fit the 1964 theme either and I really dislike the look of his 1970s TCMA cards. I’ll eventually get a card of some sort but he’s not a core member of the 1964 old timers. Aaron meanwhile is kind of the inspiration of this entire project and so I feel like including him would be nice. But he’s not a priority either and for my purposes I’m drawing a line under this project as being completed to my satisfaction.

Also, Orlando Cepeda is also relevant to this group since he did participate in the Old Timers ceremony. I have his 1964 card in my Giants album however. And I know there’s a program or poster from this game floating around ebay someplace. I don’t need it but it’s another cool bit of ephemera related to this project.

And yeah I’m very happy to have finished this and it’s been a fun way to revisit my beginnings in the hobby and reincorporate them into my current interests.


September Backlog

Continuing from July. No August backlog post because August was so busy with travel that I’ve already posted all those photographs on here. As it is September’s a pretty light month too.



Yet another huge @shanekatz73 mailday

Holy moly. Apparently every baseball card blogger has the same New Year’s resolution of clearing out unwanted cards from their collection and finding them good homes. While I’m not at that stage of collecting yet* I have been on the receiving end of a few trade packages now which consist of unwanted Giants cards.

*My new collection is still mostly focused and I have only one binder of random potential trade cards that don’t fit.

The most recent of these was another huge batch from Shane (@ShaneKatz73). Shane’s ability to accumulate Giants cards is starting to amaze me. His previous maildays have also been extremely generous and this one does not deviate from that pattern.

Starting off with the oldest cards. Highlights here are the two 1985 Circle K cards. When I was a kid I thought that Circle K was a fake store akin to 555 phone numbers since I’d only ever seen one in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. By the time I saw one in real life* I was approaching the end of my card collecting days.** So these cards represent oddballs which I’ve never heard of and a store that I didn’t think existed. Very fun.

*My first trip to Spring Training where there was one across the street from our hotel room in Scottsdale.

**Though I didn’t know this at the time.

Topps Big are also always appreciated. I love the 1980s take on the 1956 design. It’s a perfect homage to one of the all-time classics and manages to also be very much (in a good way) of its time as well. One of these days I should get a box of these to rip into. That the backs include the players’ full names—including Candy’s double surname—was a pleasant surprise too. I wish I’d had these on hand when I wrote my SABR post about those names.

That green Hygrade Willie Mays card also brings me back. My Christmas present in 1986* was a Hygrade Baseball Card Collecting Kit. A wonderful binder,** pages, a book on the history of cards, and that green set of All-Time greats.*** I remember paging that set immediately and then reading and rereading the backs over and over and over again.

*Could’ve been my birthday in 1987 but I’m 90% positive it was 1986 Christmas even though the information about this set says 1987. My first baseball game was September 1986. And by 1987 Christmas I was into the hobby to the point where I wanted a Topps factory set.

**Which I still have fully-loaded with Topps cards at my parents’ house.

***Also a handful of reprints of the most-valuable baseball cards of all time—T206 Wagner, T206 Plank, 1933 Goudey Lajoie, etc.—with back information that explained the cards and why they were so sought after.

I’ve been sad that no such sets exist now since I wanted my 8-year-old son to have the same experience as a way to both have some cards of the Hall of Famers as well as a way to learn about them. The closest I could find was the 2012 Panini Cooperstown set so that’s what Santa brought him last Christmas. He enjoyed it and I’m glad he has them before the inevitable desire for “real” cards kicks in.

The 1986 and 1987 Fleers are all Fleer update. The big names are missing but these are still fun to have. It’s nice to add another Atlee card to my collection and I’m digging the low angle photography on the Aldrete and Quiñones cards.

More Fleer Update. And more Topps Big. Highlight in this batch is the Kevin Mitchell Post card. I have a few cards from this set but no Giants. So getting my first Giants card is a lot of fun.

Also, that 1989 Fleer Update Jeff Brantley is an uncorrected error. When I saw it I realized that there was no way that that photo was of Brantley. Googling around shows that it’s a photo of Joe Kmak instead.

And into the 1990s. The 1992 French’s card is my favorite. Shane and I both appreciate good oddballs but recognize that the thing about oddball collecting is that getting all of them is a fool’s errand and it’s more fun to share the wealth by keeping just have a page-worth or your team and sending the rest off to other people who appreciate them. That French’s set is also interesting since all the cards feature two players.

The 1991 Bowman Shot Heard Round the World card is also great. There are signed versions floating around out there but I like this one as much as my 1961 Baseball Scoops card. The Barry Bond Sportflics card is fun as well; rather than in-game action, Bonds is drinking Gatorade. And I’d totally forgotten about the Deion Sanders year since that was the post-strike season and I had drifted out of the game a bit.

Also it’s fun to see the early 1990s and be reminded of how much big a deal Matt Williams was. He kind of gets forgotten because we think of the team transitioning from Will Clark to Barry Bonds and forget how monster a year he was having in 1994. But I think all Giants fans from my generation remember him fondly and like seeing special inserts which feature him rather than the endless Bonds cards Topps bombarded us with over the following decade.

To the early 2000s. Not too much to say about these though it surprises me to see how long some of the Topps card lineups have been in existence. I didn’t quite realize that Opening Day was 20 years old now. For a set that still feels like it doesn’t know what it is I’m kind of amazed that it’s had that staying power.

Heritage on the other hand has been in its current form now for 18 years. Looking at these older versions is interesting in how it shows how Topps is trying to figure out whether to replicate the old cards or just use the designs with new photography.

The 1954 design in particular looks wonderful still. As a Giants fan and collector, I’m especially happy to see other, brighter colors used in the backgrounds since the Giants only got white and yellow backgrounds originally. The 1957 design though looks like Topps tried to do some sort of aging filter on the photos to make them look vintage/faded. Not a good look especially since the content of the photos—all in-game action—goes against the vintage look.

The other card which deserves special reference is the Upper Deck 40-man card of Jeff Kent and the 2002 World Series Game 5. That series is still painful to me but every time I encounter references to it in baseball card land I find myself increasingly happy to be reminded of how good that season was and the silver lining that our first World Series win in San Francisco wasn’t tainted by steroids.

The 1958 design is another one that doesn’t work for me in Heritage. A lot of this is printing related this time. None of the inks are solid and the end result feels more like a weaksauce copy rather than a true update or homage. There’s also the fact that the black jerseys really don’t fit the Heritage look at all. Too modern for such a dated design.

The 1961 designs though work a lot better. This is partially because that design is so photocentric that good photography will carry it. Topps also didn’t overprocess things like it did when using the 1957 designs. And the printing uses solid inks in the graphic elements where it’s supposed to so the color pops correctly.

Other cards of note here are the Goodwin Champions minis. I like these so much more than the Topps206 minis and even many of the Allen&Ginter Minis I’ve received in other mailings. White uniforms. Not over-processed. Photos are chosen and cropped to fit the cards really well.

And there are two cards of Giants stadiums. It’s nice to see a Pac Bell (or SBC or AT&T or whatever it was called in 2010) card and it’s wonderful to see a Candlestick card—especially on which shows the ’Stick before it got enclosed.

Continuing into the 2010s. Highlight here is the Pablo Sandoval 3D card. Not sure what set those came in or how rare it is but it’s very very cool and isn’t lenticular the way the Kellogg’s cards were. Looks like I need to update my previous post.

The TriStar Obak minis are also cool. Not technically Giants cards but they’re going in that album just the same. When I go off the deep end into Pacific Coast League cards I’ll move these out along with my two Zeenuts. But I’m a long way off on starting any new projects.

And more Topps Heritage. The 1962 designs look great with the posed photos and white uniforms. The 1963s have enough bright color to look okay but the black jerseys again bother me—especially in the small circle photo.

And that Topps206 card of Buster Posey meanwhile is one of the worst cards I’ve ever seen.

Lots more Topps Heritage. Lots more black jerseys—especially in the 1966 design cards. I know these are all shot in Spring Training but it’s such a bush league look. I do however continue to find myself loving the 1965 design more and more.

And to the most-recent cards. Another Shot Heard Round the World card—very cool. And a World Series Celebration card from 2017. This is an ugly card and a lousy insert set yet any fans of the teams featured will like having samples of their celebrations.

Shane also sent a few oversize items. These two confused me for a bit. They’re regional oddballs. The Rick Burleson is a 1976 Star Markets Red Sox issue. It’s about 6×9″ on super-thin paper. The George Strickland is a 1970 Kansas City postcard. I’m not as hardcore about these things as Shane is but they’re always cool to have be reminded of how different sports collecting is on a local level.

The other oversize item is a 3-in-1 promotional panel for 2010 Topps Heritage. The back isn’t much to look at (just an advertisement) but it’s interesting that the front panel consists of two manager cards.* This isn’t exactly the kind of panel that’s going to get collectors’ hearts racing but I appreciate it as a Giants fan from a 201o first World Series point of view.

*The Bochy card was also included in this haul as well.

Also given how Topps has stopped making manager cards even in Heritage this piece serves as a reminder of how manager cards are a good thing which should be brought back.

I’m glad I already have a stack going for a return trade package. I’ll continue to let it grow for a while but even then it won’t be as cool as this one. Still, I’ll hopefully have a few oddballs and Red Sox cards Shane needs. Thanks!