Better than Ted Cruz

On the heels of my mailday from Shane, I received another batch of 1978s from Mark Armour (@MarkArmour04). As the co-founder of the SABR Baseball Cards committee/blog, Mark in many ways bears much of the responsibility for pushing me back into the hobby by reminding me of all the things I liked about cards and encouraging me to think about them as sitting on the intersection of my print and photography interests.

Mark has a formidable collection of vintage Topps sets and apparently a ton of 1978 duplicates which he checked against my searchlist when he realized I was trying to complete the set.

It’s funny, I think I’ve been completing this set a bit like Zeno: somewhat easily completing half the set, then getting the next quarter, then the next eighth, etc. This latest batch cut my searchlist in half to where I only need 35 more cards. Yay! There’s an every-increasing light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately half of those 35 are Hall of Famers and I’ll probably have to knock them off one by one in order to finish this off.

Mark’s batch didn’t have any Hall of Famers but did include a number of stars like George Foster, Vida Blue, and Dave Parker—all of whom are especially welcome in the binder. For a few years in there those guys were among the best in the game. Despite ultimately falling short, in some ways it’s those semi-stars who most define an age because their peaks were so brief.

For me, as alate-80s Giants fan, seeing cards of young Mike Krukow and Bill Fahey is especially enjoyable. I knew Krukow as the ace of the staff (though by the time I was a full-blown fan he never measured up to his 1986 season) and Fahey was one of the coaches. Seeing them as players in the 70s is both weird and wonderful.

The other card of note to me is that Bruce Kison card which looks like it was taken at Candlestick (it sure doesn’t look like Three Rivers to me) only the Pirates are wearing their white home jersey. The Giants weren’t wearing orange at home yet so I have no idea what’s going on in this photo. Did both teams just wear whites and have different colored pants?

Anyway Mark completed eight more pages and it’s just exciting to see the binder fill in that way. It’s one thing to cross stuff off a checklist, it’s quite another to actually slide the card into a pocket and provide that tactile sense of completion. I suspect that that’s the most enjoyable portion of building a set by hand.

Tucked in among the 1978 Topps cards was this surprise. It’s much much preferable to Mark’s previous surprise. While I have problems with Heritage and the way that Giants cards in particular tend to feature those awful black training jerseys, the 1965 design is one of my favorite Topps designs of all time and I really like that it doesn’t feature any of that “please sign here” screened-out image that Topps does with most of its signed cards now.

Joe Panik is also a welcome autograph for any Giants fan. He’s not blossomed into the star we hoped he could be and, as such, his signature is one of those cards that most people would be disappointed to have as their box hit. But I’ve enjoyed having him on the team—both as a player as one of their more personable characters in the advertisements and media outreach.

Very cool Mark. Thanks for pulling me back into the hobby and thanks for getting me so close to finishing my set that I can almost taste it.

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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