Lumberjack Surprise

I made a small Sportslots order from Lumberjack Cards last month. When he saw that some of the cards I’d gotten were intended for my colorwheels project, he got excited and looked through his “too beat up to list” pile to see if he had anything I needed.

This was very nice of him. Free mailings like this, even when expected, are always surprises when they show up. Sometimes they don’t get sent. Sometimes the cards get lost in a box. Stuff happens. So it’s always fun to get a package and it’s even more fun to dig into it and see what’s there.

We’ll start off with two 1959 colors I was missing. I’d filled in a bit since my original post but both of these are quite welcome. Jim Hegan replaces a Giants card and Wally Post will anchor the center square.

These give a bit of a flavor of the condition. Hegan has a corner that’s about to fall off and Post is written on in red crayon* Both work just fine for my page though.

*Actually looks like the red grease pencil used to mark contact sheets.

Five 1969s bring a lot of color here too. Dave McNally is a bit beat up even for my taste. Thankfully I already have a light green. The other four are all colors I need.They’re also in pretty good shape too. Some kid added big V-shaped mustaches to the four of them only to think better of it later and try to erase the markings. Some erasings look better than others.

It’s worth highlighting the Mel Queen card in particular here since it’s got one of the more unique baseball card backs ever made. Queen was a two-way player who converted from outfielder to pitcher in 1966. His 1967 card lists him as a Pitcher/Outfielder bot only has batting stats on the back. His 1968 has a lot of text about his transition but only lists his two years of pitching stats. his 1969 card back though is a treasure.

Complete batting stats for his time as an outfielder. Complete pitching stats for his time as a pitcher. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any other cards like this. It’s a shame Topps couldn’t fit his hitting totals on as well. I also can’t help but wonder if his 1966 hitting stats include his hitting while he was a pitcher.

Two more well-loved 1969s could’ve fit in the colorwheel page but are a much better match for my small collection of do-it-yourself traded cards. Literally one of my favorite things. I don’t seek them out but I very much love to come across them. So these will be going into a different album with all the other cards I’ve found.

All of which means that it’s time to post updated images of the 1959 and 1969 pages. 1959 is coming along very well. I only need orange and light blue. The images are all nice baseball-looking ones without any capless weirdness. I’ll probably want more team variety than three Phillies at some point but that’s something to tackle much later. I can already see how nice the finished page will look too.

1969 needs a little more work. I left the orange Niekro in the scan so show what it’ll look like when I get an orange card. Mike Ryan is a good placeholder but the image isn’t what I want to have on the finished page.* And I suspect that, as with all the Phillies in 1959, I’m going to be looking to swap out some of the erased mustache guys at some point much further down the line.

*Yes I know it’s not a fair representation of 1969 to not have capless wonders and blacked-out logos but I want a page that actually looks nice here.

For now though things look great. Not as bright as the 1959s but that colored spot is still very distinctive. I’m just looking for red, orange, and dark green.* Light pink, light purple, light orange, light blue, and brown look like they’re going to be the colors that get cut but maybe I’ll need a couple pages here instead.

*I really should shove a Giant in to the dark green pocket for the time being.

Very cool. Binder is looking super nice. I’ve updated the searchlist at the bottom of my original post to reflect my current status. Thanks Lumberjack!

Ugh

Seems weird to just let scheduled posts keep running in the midst of everything going on but I also don’t know what else to do so everything will continue as it has been. At the same time I can’t not acknowledge how things have gone from having to fill idle time to feeling guilty about not being out there supporting the protests.

Not that there are really any events to go to anyway. I’m in a place of extreme privilege to not be near any of the protests and police riots. New Jersey has been better than most places in terms of police behavior—yes Trenton had some stuff happen anyway—but in general things have been good here.

So I’m left with figuring out what organizations to donate to and explaining what’s going on to the kids. They’re already pretty stressed about the Covid situation. While I want them to be plenty skeptical about government it’s tough to explain just how broken everything is. My eldest just learned about the three branches of government and balancing the lessons between “what the design is,” “what’s wrong with that design,” and “how we’ve deviated from the design” is A LOT for an elementary school kid to wrap his head around.

Heck it’s a lot for me to wrap my head around. What’s going on right now feels existentially worse than anything else I’ve lived through. I’ve had the sense that things were broken before. I’ve never had the sense that they were completely irreparable. But right now we’ve got a government that’s declared war on its citizens, a pandemic that’s already killed 100,000 people and is poised to spike like crazy this month, millions of people out of work, and in the background an impending climate disaster.

There are days when I see all the hope in the world in my kids and am inspired by their potential. And there are days when my heart aches at the world they’re going to inherit and the problems they’re going to be stuck with. I’m trying to have more of the good days than the bad ones but it’s difficult. Especially now.

Stay safe out there. Do what you have to do to stay sane. It may be trivial blog about baseball cards and flower photos but it’s kind of my only release.

May TTMs

Into May returns. We’ll start off with a couple stragglers. When I started sending requests out last year I knew that a move was likely to come in my near future so I used my parents’ address for my returns. I haven’t sent anything out with their return address for a year now but a few envelopes are finding their way back there. At the beginning of this month they sent me a couple of those returns.

This one from Juan Gonzalez took 418 days to turn around. Gonzalez was one of the first non-Giants, non-Stanford requests I sent out. I had a card handy and yeah, he was a superstar when I was a teenager in the 1990s and I was very happy to finally get my card back.

It’s kind of amazing how much he’s been forgotten now. Being a 40-homer/year guy doesn’t stand out the way it used to. Nor does being a line drive guy in the age of launch angles. And RBIs are one of those stats that’s taken a huge beating in the modern statistical revolution since it reflects opportunities more than anything the batter has control over.

Yes, I agree with modern statistics in recognizing how much of the RBI is outside the batter’s control. At the same time, as a little league coach, driving in runs is important. Someone’s got to do it and we, as a team, are going to celebrate whenever someone gets a ribbie. Someone like Juan Gonzalez who drove in a ton of guys? He deserved every bit of celebration that he received.

Ken Williams was another of my first requests. His return came back almost exactly a year later (362 days) but spent another three months at my parents’ before getting forwarded to me.

Williams is like Bill Wakefield and falls into the grey area of this project. He went pro out of high school and as a result was ineligible for college baseball. While being a professional ball player and attending college is something that feels possible in the 1960s, I really can’t imagine doing so in the 1980s. Especially at a school like Stanford.

Calvin Murray is another one that stayed at my parents’ for a couple months after a 298 day turnaround time. Murray was one of the Giants’ top draft picks when I was getting into the autograph game but I never managed to acquire a card of him on the Giants. So it’s nice to fill that hole (so to speak) and add a Giants card to the Team USA one I have signed.

The boys also got a couple returns this month. They haven’t sent out a lot since letter writing is a lot of work. But they’re happy whenever they get a SASE back with their handwriting on the outside. This month they both got returns from Cory Snyder plus my eldest got a return from Scott Garrelts.

After a couple weeks of no returns I had a day with four returns all at once. The oldest one in there was a 77 day return from Jeff Ballard. I wanted to send him to extend my customs project and included the 1991 Upper Deck since I liked the photo. I usually include multiple customs so the player can keep one or two of them. In this case he signed and returned all three.

The best return of that batch was getting Jim Palmer back in 28 days. I’d gotten a return-to-sender in my first attempt but I saw he was signing again so I figured it was worth a second try.

Indeed it was. 1981 isn’t my favorite design but it looks good with the Orioles caps and the solid cyan ink. And Palmer is one of those guys who, while he had only just retired before I became a fan, was already legendary. I was pretty excited to add him to my collection.

Steve Reed was another 28 day return. He was a Giant twice in my youth. First, he was one of the guys I saw play at San José and debut with the team in 1992. Then he got taken by the Rockies in the expansion draft but after a couple years in Denver he resigned with the Giants as a free agent.

Jeff Reed was the last return of the big batch with a quick 14-day return. He was a good defensive backup catcher. I got his signature on a Reds card back when I was a kid so it’s nice to add a Giants card to the collection. I tossed a 1991 Topps into the envelope as well since it’s one of my favorite designs but I don’t have many of them signed.

A got another return with 1998 Mother’s Cookies in it. First Danny Darwin. Then Steve Reed. Now Jim Poole in 24 days. Those 1997/1998 guys aren’t the ones I remember from my youth but that 1997 team was responsible for my return to baseball after the strike so it’s fun to get their signatures.

Steve Soderstrom came back in 17 days. He’s one of the few guys who I’ve watched at multiple levels. Fresno State always used to come through Stanford before league games started. He then was drafted by the Giants and played at San José before debuting in the majors. Pretty cool when that happens.

Ed Bressoud’s 18 day return was a fun one. He played for the Giants in both New York and San Francisco before losing his job to Jose Pagan and getting grabbed by Houston in the Expansion Draft. It’s always nice to pick up former New York Giants since there aren’t many of them left. Plus, of the few that are still signing I usually don’t have a spare card.

For some reason though I did have an extra Post card of Bressoud. I wasn’t sure how it would look signed but it’s pretty good. There’s something wonderful about how Post is able to get everything you’d want on a card on just one side.

I really enjoyed getting a return from Bill Madlock. He’s just one of those guys who brings me back to my youth. I don’t even know why now (though his nickname certainly didn’t hurt) but he was clearly a quality player for a long time. Plus there’s something about those players whose intensity is so palpable that I think every fan is drawn to.

Mad Dog wasn’t a Giant for long but I really like his 1979 card which shows a bit of a lighter side of him. I’m glad I had some Giants duplicates since I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed a 1987 or 1988 Topps cards nearly as much.

I had a bunch of Nate Oliver cards in the pile from my dentist so I figured I should give him a try. He came back in only 9 days. Sending the 1968 worked out well too since he actually played a little for the Giants that year. He’s primarily a Dodger on cardboard and has no Giants cards—he finished 1968 with the Yankees so his 1969 card is a Yankees card—but he’s going to go into my Giants binder just the same.

I got a nice fast return from Gary Lavelle in seven days. He was a Giant for over a decade before finishing up his career in Toronto and Oakland. I just missed watching him so he kind of represents the team that existed right at the fringe of my fandom. Is nice to have a card from each end of his stint with the team.

More excitingly I got his 1983 postcard signed. These are the postcards I got from my dentist and they are the perfect size for autograph requests. Not all the guys sign but it’s nice to send some larger items out. Even just expanding the item to 3.5″×5″ makes a huge difference in the way the autograph looks.

The last return of the month was another postcard. Jim Barr returned his in 11 days. I’d previously gotten his autograph on a bunch of cards but the postcard was too nice to not try. This is also from 1983 and is a great photo of Candlestick as I remember it.

All in all a pretty good month. Started off slow but thankfully things picked up. It’s been a nice surprise to check my mail while we’ve been stuck at home during the Covid staycation.

Cards from Cards on Cards

Earlier this month Kerry over at Cards on Cards (@cardsoncards) hosted a small free mini break of a bunch of packs of 2019 Topps of the Class. These kind of weird little parallel sets are kind of my jam so I signed up for the Giants.

Unfortunately I got skunked. The break ended up being wildly unbalanced. Some teams got all kinds of duplicates while many were shut out. Very much how things used to be when I was a kid where I’d run into the same cards over and over and never see others.

Anyway, yesterday I found an envelope from Kerry in my mailbox and inside was one of the duplicate Joey Gallo cards. It doesn’t look like anyone even grabbed the Rangers in the break so I gather that Kerry was glad to get them sent out to anyone who’d take them.

This is a set of cards which my kids would’ve loved if they had a card store anywhere near where we lived. The idea is that you would bring your report card into a shop and get a pack of five cards. I wish they had this kind of thing when I was a kid and had access to like three different card shops.

If this was happening last year I’d’ve felt  a little weird about where these packs came from. But a year after the promotion means these were just sitting in a forgotten pile. Which is great since it reminds me of the 1990 Donruss Learning set that I never saw when I was a kid but would totally have been all over.

Kerry can fit six cards in an envelope so he packed a handful of Giants in for me. The Brandon Belt is a Diamond Anniversary Limited Edition stamped parallel of his base 2011 card. No idea what that means in terms of distribution but I definitely know I don’t have it already.

The Willie Mays is a Spring has Sprung insert from 2020 Opening Day—a set I’ve seen all of one card from to-date. I can’t tell if the border is trying to be old-looking or if it’s supposed to be a nice pastel yellow color. I’m hoping the latter since it triggers a bit of “mismatched white point dissonance” in my brain. Nice to add this one to the collection as well.

The 2009 Turkey Red of Bengie Molina is another card I don’t have. A lot of the Topps Turkey Reds have appalling artwork but this one’s pretty nice. I will never understand why Topps preferred to use the modern-looking shiny black jerseys on these vintage-looking cards though.

The 2019 Joe Panik is a pink Chrome parallel which will add a bit of color to the album. And the foil 2020 Donruss Mauricio Dubon—about as nice an unlicensed card as you can hope to see with the angle of the picture obscuring the logoless cap—makes this a nice 5 for 5 on getting Giants cards I don’t have yet. An impressive percentage for a random unlooked-for plain white envelope.

Very cool. Thanks Kerry!

A couple pre-war pickups

I guess I’m going to just be blogging every week about pre-war card pickups. No set this time just a couple I’ve grabbed that I had my eye on for a while.

The first pickup is a 1909–11 Murad T51 Stanford card. Aside from being relevant to my collecting interests, I’ve especially liked that it features forestry as its sport and depicts on its artwork what looks like a giant redwood forest.

This is like 65 years before the Stanford Tree masco. The fact that it depicts what would become the school mascot takes it from being cool just because it’s old (only 25 years after the university’s founding) to sort of predicting the future.

Also the artwork itself is pretty nice with its gold border ink and sense of scale in the giant redwoods and tiny horsemen. We don’t see any of forest canopy we’re just among the tree trunks. Which really is how it feels to be in those forests in California.

The second pickup is from Anson over at Prewarcards. He was clearing out some excess and one of the cards in his clear out was this Origin of Football card from the 1923 Sarony Origin of Games set. I’ve loved this card ever since Anson showed it off on twitter not just because I’m a soccer fan but because it appears to show a form of Calcio Storico.

While the backs don’t mention anything about the Italian version of calcio, the fact that a version of the sport which looks very much like this card is still being played in Florence is something I just can’t ignore.

Anyway because Anson is a great member of the community and has also been super generous with me in the past,* I jumped on his sale and was very happy to receive his extra version of this card.

*Including the card of cards from the Sarony set.

Anson included a second card in the envelope too. This is from the 1925 Turf Cigarettes Sports Records set and depicts sprinting and its record times. That the card is a British issue means it shows the 100 yard time instead of 100 meters so I can’t compare it to a historical record progression.

It is however an interesting comparison to the 1939 Churchman’s card of Jesse Owens which lists a speed of 9.4 seconds for the 100 yards—.4 seconds faster than the record of 9.8 seconds depicted on the 1925 card (Owens’s 220 yard speed is .9 seconds faster).

Will’s Cigarettes Wonders of the Past

I guess I’m going to spend this Covid lockdown blogging about my pre-war sets. In many ways this feels wholly appropriate. Much of the joy of the pre-war stuff comes in the way it functions as a way of showing the world to people who are unable to travel. these sets aren’t just about sports, they cover everything.

One such set I acquired a couple months ago is the aptly-named 1926 Will’s Cigarettes Wonders of the Past. We’ll start of with the big names which need no introduction. Even when I was a kid over six decades later I learned about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Can I still name them all from memory? No. But I sure can recognize them when I see them.

I don’t have a lot to say about the subject matter so I’ll comment on the artwork and how lush it is. There’s also a lot of three-point perspective going on which gives everything an extra sense of massiveness. These cards may only be around two and a half inches tall but the way the art is drawn makes it clear how huge the subjects actually are and give a sense of what it must’ve been like to see them.

As a photographer who often tries to avoid three-point perspectives and keep my verticals vertical, it’s good to be reminded that that impulse is not always the correct one.

The backs of the cards are the standard Will’s backs I’ve seen on other issues. I love reading them though since they manage to pack a lot of information into a nice concise space. They also frequently have a bit of an editorial view such as on the Colossus card and how it explicitly corrects the misperception that the legs were on both sides of the harbor.

I didn’t rotate the two horizontal ancient wonders cards because those seven cards are sort of the least interesting cards in the set. While at first glance this set seemed like the kind of thing that feature only the obvious subjects and its name made me think that it was recreating wonders that are long-gone, in fact it’s doing something much more marvelous.

Aside from the seven wonders cards this set takes you on a tour of the world and its architectural and archeological highlights as of 1926. I’ll start off with four horizontal cards, three of which show sites in Asia.

These come much closer to substituting for travel as the sites are described both in their physical appearance as well as their history and usage. They’re “Wonders of the Past” because they were used in the past and remain fantastically impressive structures today.

I really love the worldwide breadth of this set. Yes there are still missing spots. The Maya stele is the only North American card.* Easter Island is as close as we get to South America.** And while Egypt has a bunch of cards there’s nothing from sub-saharan Africa.***

*No Chichen Itza or Tenochtitlan. No Mesa Verde.

**No Machu Picchu. 

***No Timbuktu or Djenné. 

As much as the “missing” subjects would look fantastic, it’s great to see so many cards from so many different Asian countries. Multiple cards from Japan, China, Jordan, India, Cambodia, Iran, and more really give the set a lot of life and variety.

There are a bunch of Greek/Roman and Egyptian cards too. I didn’t scan a bunch of those but I do love the Forum card with the birds and the way it’s lit with half the image in shadow. The Tutankhamen card meanwhile is super-topical since his Howard Carter had only opened his tomb three years earlier.

I appreciate that the backs continue to focus on the objects and not the westerners who discovered them. It would’ve been easy to make the back to the Tutankhamen be all about Carter. I also like how they offer information about similar structures and explain that many of these highlights are not one-off artifacts.

The other fun part of a set like this is getting cards of places I’ve actually been to. I haven’t travelled as much as I’d like but here are three cards which cover three of the places I saw when I was in Spain. The Aqueduct in Segovia even has a bunch of people enjoying themselves just like they were when I was there.

The Mezquita and Alhambra meanwhile are much more empty than I experienced. All three cards are fun to look at and remind me of my trip.

I especially love the Mezquita back and how it talks about “Christian defacements” in turning it into a cathedral. Truth be told, the way that building is so many different things and manages to wear its history as part of its very structure is my favorite thing about it.

Wow. I ended up scanning more cards for this set than I planned to. There’s so much variety though that I kind of had to. Is it my favorite pre-war set? No that’s still the Romance of the Heavens. But this is pretty close both in terms of its artwork and how it captures a point in time in the world’s understanding of itself.

1934 Garbaty Moderne Schonheitsgalerie

Sometimes you see something so cool you can’t help but buy them. As I’ve gone a bit down the Hollywood rabbit hole, I’ve found a lot of other poeple on card twitter are in the same boat as me. While we all are interested in baseball cards, there’s a similar allure to classic Hollywood.

This shouldn’t be too surprising. Baseball fans are nostalgic traditionalists who enjoy comparing athletes from a century ago to current players and believe that learning about the game should include a hefty dose of learning about the history of the game. So of course we treat other forms of entertainment the same way. Movies, like baseball, are one of those American™ things which comes with a ton of cultural history.

Anyway as I’ve was showing off my Hollywood cards, one of the guys on card twitter responded by showing off his collection of Garbaty cards.

Holy crap.

Garbaty is a German Cigarette manufacturer who, from 1934 to 1937, released three amazingly beautiful sets of cards. The sets all have the same look of lushly printed photos of actresses and other famous women of the 1930s but what really distinguishes them are the borders and extensive use of gold ink.

Anyway I was smitten and while I said I was basically done with pre-war Hollywood cards I occasionally type “garbaty” into my eBay searches just in case something stupidly affordable pops up. A month ago I got lucky and found a lot of a couple dozen of them for roughly a buck a card. I haven’t been so excited about an eBay purchase/shipment in a long time.

One of the problems with the Garbaty cards is that a lot of the actresses are not names we know anymore so it’s possible that a lot can be a bunch of “commons” of the same actress. This wouldn’t have been a huge deterrent at the price I was looking at but when I saw these two cards in the preview I knew I had to act fast.

When it comes to 1930s film stars there aren’t many bigger names than Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo. The Dietrich in particular is all kinds of amazing between the portrait and the lush border. I’m not sure any of the other cards in the set can look better than this one.

All the cards I got are from Garbaty’s first release of 300 cards in 1934. These all have backs that define the set as Moderne Schonheitsgalerie (Modern Beauty Gallery) and it’s clear that Garbaty drew from all around the world for its checklist.

It’s a lot of fun to have a Lupe Velez card to represent a certain amount of non-European (plus United States) diversity* plus I enjoy having reminders of how vibrant Mexico’s film industry was during this time.

*While I don’t plan on getting more Garbatys I can see myself being tempted by Anna May Wong or Dolores Del Rio for similar reasons.

The highlight here though is the 16-year-old Rita Hayworth featuring her original name. She looked familiar and the name sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place who she was for a long time. Her being in this batch means that three of Madonna’s Vogue name checks were in there.

Two more. No star power this time (though Lil Dagover was apparently one of Hitler’s favorites) but I’m including these to give a sense for how varied and wonderful the borders of this set are. I only scanned half of the lot for this post but besides the Garbo and Dietrich, the others all have distinct border designs. Some are gold-focused. Others are colorful with gold accents. They look fantastic together in a 12-pocket page.

A handful of the cards feature pairs of stars. Many of these are in horizontal orientation so as to better frame the couple. The Garbo card pairing her with John Gilbert is a still from Queen Christina. A Garbo/Gilbert card is highly appropriate given how their supposed romance was a big deal for movie fans at the time.

Clark Gable and Joan Crawford meanwhile are a fantastic pair who appeared together in eight movies and also supposedly had some romance as well. Each actor represents 1930s Hollywood stardom by themselves but together they’re even more iconic. This appears to be a still from Chained and doubles as an example of why everyone used to smoke so much.

The Garbaty set has multiple cards per actress. Most of my batch was distinct names but there were a bunch of Brigitte Helm cards. I’ve only selected four of them here. I love how different each card is from the others. Different border. Different pose. Different hair. Even if it’s the same women these look very nice together on a page.

I’m glad that I have multiples of her too. She’s not a household name but she has one iconic role—in many ways the most iconic role of any of the actresses in the batch. Helm is famous for playing both Maria and the Maschinenmensch in Metropolis. She’s pictured here basically at the end of her career since she gave up films and fled the Nazis right around 1934.

Am I searching for more of these or looking to complete a set? God no. But my oh my do I like looking at them in the album.

April TTMs

A slowish month. As expected since I stopped sending things out in March. I did however start sending again mid-April. Partly because it seems like everyone was starting to look for things to do at home. And partly because mail volume was clearly dropping off and while I wasn’t able to buy more stamps, doing what I can to increase volume as a show of support for the Post Office was something I felt was good to do.

Don Sutton’s autograph arrived on his birthday. So that was cool. It was out for 31 days—not too long but with the pandemic going on but long enough to make me start to think that it wasn’t coming back. I was always fascinated by his cards when I was a kid since they were FULL of stats. This 1981 is the right intersection of junk wax but with the correct team. Plus it shows off his glorious hair.

Bobby Grich is one of those guys who was on the Hall of Fame bubble as a “good but not great” when I was little but, as our statistics have become better at describing the game, has become clearly recognized as one of the more underrated players ever. While I’m not 100% sold on the advanced stats, they are useful as a way of highlighting guys whose numbers were not served well by the traditional stats.

Grich clearly deserved better than to fall off the ballot after one year and I was very happy to get his card back in 41 days. Did it get mangled a little? Yes. Those are the risks you take in the TTM game. But it still presents okay.

This was a fun one because it’s become my oldest autographed card. My Junior High self would be super impressed at this. Where my childhood goal was to collect one card from each year, now I have at least one autographed card from 1960–1970 as well as one from 1957.

This 1957 came from Jason. Erskine is legendary in TTM circles because he truly loves connecting with baseball fans across generations. It’s awesome. I sent him a nice letter thanking him for being such a fan favorite and telling him about how I’ve been taking the boys around Nw York to see the old ballpark locations. We can’t wait to visit the Ebbets Field location. 11 days later I got his response.

I normally include only one index card as a stiffener. In this case I included two because I’ve found that a decent number of guys use the index cards to write notes back to me and Erskine has a reputation for writing notes. Instead I got two signed cards with inscriptions and a note written on the back of my return envelope.

The note is nice. It confirms that he read my letter and shows he understands how siblings work. And it demonstrates exactly why he’s a legend.

Two cards for two kids. Will this make them Dodgers fans? No. Were they happy to see that he no-hit the Giants? Also no. Were they excited to learn about Erskine and have a tactile reminder of the Brooklyn Dodgers? Absolutely yes.

On the topic of TTM legends, I also figured it was time to send to Bobby Shantz. This was a other fun letter to write since he’s one of the old timers I met back when I was 10 years old. Never hurts to say thanks again and it was very nice to add a signed card to that project six days later.

I also included some print-outs of one of my Viewmaster scans. This is just a two and a half inch square but it looks very neat signed. I guess this is counts as a custom even though it’s mostly just an enlargement.

He also signed an index card for me and included a ton of inscriptions and he thanked me for including extras of the Viewmaster even though he returned them unsigned. Maybe he goofed and put them in the envelope out of habit.

I got a seven-day return from Jack McDowell. I sent to him to get a custom signed and figured I might as well include an extra oddball. He kept one custom and sent two back. It’s nice to be making some progress on this Stanford customs project too.

An awesome seven-day return from the original Frank Thomas added another signed 1964 card to my old-timers project to go next to Bobby Shantz. As with Shantz, it was nice to write Thomas a thank you note for being cool to a 10-year-old. He sent a custom of his own as well as a huge letter.

I have no idea how he can write so small but he apparently sends these letters to everyone who writes him. My hand hurts just looking at this but I’m super impressed. A lot of these guys show a squirrelly hand when just signing their autographs and Frank Thomas is over here filling entire sheets of paper with miniscule but very nice cursive.

I think of Danny Darwin as an Astro but he was part of the 1997 Giants team that cured me of my strike malaise. It was nice to get a 10-day return from him and add another Mother’s Cookies card—even one of the later sets with a lousy design—to the album. I’m also low-key liking 1988 Topps as a set for getting signed.

Another Stanford custom. This time Mike Mussina came back in 11 days. I’m enjoying accumulating these customs and it’s always nice when the player keeps some of them as well. This takes me to nine total signed customs and now I get to think about whether I want to page them all together or leave them with each player.

And that’s it for April. Not a bad month all things considered. It’s been a nice break to write a couple letters every week or so. Plus it’s definitely fun to get something in the mail.

Signature Sleuth

A relatively new Twitter account which I’ve been following is Signature Sleuth (@SignatureSleuth). He’s kind of crazy and buys big lots of autographed baseballs. He then often posts photos of them on Twitter as both contests to guess who the player is or to figure things out if he’s unable to do so.

I don’t like the guess-the-player ones but when he posts team balls those turn into fun little puzzles. After a team ball is solved he sends a random autograph to one lucky participant, one of which ended up being me.

So my plain white envelope arrived earlier this week. Inside was this Jacob Cruz autograph which is exactly the kind of autograph I was expecting. There are so many “junk” autographs out there in the hobby now which have no appeal to anyone except a hard-core team collector. As such a collector though this is the kind of thing I enjoy.

Cruz never really lived up to the hype as a player but he was a guy I saw come through Sunken Diamond when he played for Arizona state. Always fun to see guys I watched in college make it to the show, especially when it’s for my team.

Thanks for the card and keep the team balls coming!