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!

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at, and the web at

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