A Fantastic (Sam’s) Mailday From Scott

Way back before New Year’s Scott Berger found a bunch of Fantastic Sams discs at his local Goodwill. Naturally all of us oddball collectors got a bit excited.

1980s oddballs reflect the retail environment where chains were just going national but hadn’t taken over everywhere yet. So you could have a large area of coverage across multiple states but still be effectively a regional thing. So we had malls and chain franchises and things that could show up as monoculture in TVs or movies but for a lot of us those brands only existed on-screen.

For me, stores like the Circle K and chains like Fantastic Sams were in this realm where I was aware of them but not through any first-hand experience. They just didn’t exist in my region and so they were as fictitious as 555 phone numbers.

This kind of “everywhere except not” corporate nature resulted in kind of the perfect distribution for baseball cards. Always things to find out. Always things to talk about. Rewarding to find stuff when you travel or have family elsewhere in the country. Even today guys find things that are surplus in their neck of the woods but which others of us have never even heard of decades later.

These Fantastic Sams discs are like that for me. Not only had I not ever encountered a store, the idea of including baseball cards with your haircut is a tie-in I have never encountered.

The 20-disc checklist seems incredibly optimistic for a single-year release. Unlike with food issues where the temptation to buy another pack of beef jerky or sunflower seeds or to visit McDonalds yet again is a plausible impulse, how often are you going to get your hair cut?

Especially for a tiny unlicensed photo of a player with a single line of stats on the back. Oh well. I think they’re pretty cool now.

Scott was hoping to get a full set with his batch. Instead he found four different cards and a ton of duplicates. So he sent me a batch in a plain white envelope. I’m going to keep the coupons attached (if I can, they’re super brittle) and put these in a four-pocket sheet so having four samples is the perfect amount.

Scott also included a few Topps Archives Giants cards. The 1981 designs are nice-enough. Not my favorite design but there’s something comfortable about it.

The 1959-designed Clark meanwhile is this close to being a great card but I can’t get over the off-centered name. A shame. 1959 Topps is kind of a wonderful design to update and repurpose. Something about it just screams “trading card” and featuring Clark’s signature makes the whole thing pop so well.

The final card in the envelope is a Stanford Football card. I’m not actively collecting non-baseball Alumni but I’ve been putting the ones I do come across into my Stanford Albums* and this one fits in just right there.

*Yes I’ve been coming across others too.

Thanks Scott! I need to go through my duplicates and really see who deserves to be on your ASU pile.

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 njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

2 thoughts on “A Fantastic (Sam’s) Mailday From Scott”

  1. The lady who does my hair and I have a history dating back six or seven years. But I’d consider dumping her if another local barber starting handing out baseball cards. ;)

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