TTM roundup, April edition

Another visit from family means another big batch of TTM returns delivered from my parents’ house. Not as many as my first batch but still 18 returns in a month is pretty good. Especially since my requests have tailed off a bit.

Though to be clear, I expected requests to tail of. I sent out a ton early and expected things to take over a month at least. The first batch of returns was overwhelmingly better than I expected and this batch reflects a lot of the kind of returns I was expecting to occur.

To the returns, again broken down by category.

Stanford

Pete Stanicek was one of the first Stanford guys I sent to. He had a lot of potential in the late 1980s but just couldn’t stay healthy. By the time I was going to alumni games he was already in that grey zone of being done with his career but still young enough to play with the active pros. Which explains a bit why he never showed up. This card came back in 47 days—much more the timeframe I expected returns to happen.

Steve Buechele was coaching at the Rangers Spring Training so I sent him a couple Upper Deck cards. I got his autograph on a ball at my first major alumni game autograph hunting experience. Then I brought his 1989 Upper Deck card to all subsequent games I attended only for him to never come back. I’m very happy that this card came back in only 24 days.

Drew Storen is another Spring Training return. He’s trying to come back from Tommy John surgery and was in the Royals organization this spring. I haven’t been able to figure out he’s up to right now—he doesn’t appear to be assigned to a team—so I’m thankful he was able to return my cards after 53 days.

Former Giants

On to former Giants and starting off with one of my favorites. The Original Humm Baby Roger Craig signed my 1989 Mothers Cookies card in 22 days. I have no idea how good Craig was as a manager in general but he seems to have been the right man for the job. Anyway he was the skipper for the teams I became a fan of and as a result I’ll always have a soft spot for split fingered fastballs and suicide squeezes.

Ken Henderson played outfield for the Giants next to Willie Mays and Bobby bonds. As a result he tends to get forgotten a little but he was no slouch himself for a couple years in the early 1970s. He signed both of these in 11 days.

Jim Barr set a Major League record by retiring 41 consecutive batters. He was  a long-time fixture in the Giants rotation as well with a dozen solid years . These three cards came back in only 8 days. I usually don’t send this many but I like the variety of images here.

Ron Bryant was a a twenty-game winner in 1973 but got injured in the off-season and never really recovered. So he chose to retire and spend more time with his family. He signed both of these in 13 days. I particularly like the 1972 In Action card with the bunting photo.

Tom Bradley had a couple great years with the White Sox but was more average with the Giants. I do like him as a member of the sunglasses club even though he’s nowhere near as cool as Lowell Palmer. The 1973 card is an airbrushing disaster as well but the 1974 is  fun action photo showing him wearing shades and pitching at Candlestick. These took 44 days to come back.

While Mike Krukow was already announcing when I was a kid, Kuiper only entered the booth after I stopped autograph hunting. As a result I only have a signed Krukow card and was missing half of the duo that has defined the sound of Giants baseball for the past two decades.

Kuip’s 1983 Fleer card with the broken bat is one of my favorites so I’m excited to have it signed. That it took only 8 days is even better.

He also signed an index card for me. Very cool. It’s been a joy and pleasure to listen to him on the air and makes me feel really lucky to be a Giants fan.

Shawon Dunston was one of my favorite players to watch when I was a kid. Ozzie Smith was obviously the prime shortstop of the age but no one had an arm like Dunston’s. Even though he wasn’t a Giant I could never watch enough highlights of him gunning guys out from deep short. When he moved to the Giants I was glad I could finally root for him. He’s still working with the organization and signed these two cards in 15 days.

Like Dunston, Manny Trillo is also a former Cub who moved to the Giants later in his career. A great fielder with a strong arm, Trillo was more of a utility guy with the Giants. He has a great signature and returned this card in 18 days.

Current Giants

On to current Giants and there’s no better return to start off with than the man who will most-likely become the first Giants Hall of Famer I’ve watched (as opposed to Hall of Famer who played a year or two at the end of his career with the Giants*). Yes I think Bonds should be in already but in terms of predictions Boch is a safe bet. I sent him a nice note thanking him for everything and he sent these back in 22 days.

*eg Goose Gossage, Gary Carter, and Randy Johnson. 

A Giants manager card was an obvious choice. The 1960 design is an all-time classic and even though I don’t like some of the Heritage fake-retro effects it’s still a nice looking card that looks nice signed. I also wanted to send a card form his playing days. I was leaning toward a 1986 Topps one but then I found this 1981 Fleer and it was too good not to send.

Tony Watson sent me a great return from Spring Training. His two 2018 cards look great. I’m kind of sad that horizontal cards weren’t that common when I was a kid since they look nice when signed. These came back in 39 days.

Watson also signed both of my customs. I suspect that the first one he signed where he usually does and then he signed the second one in the light area so you can read his name. I appreciate that he put this kind of care into it.

My last return from Spring Training also took 39 days but was even larger than Watson’s. Ty Blach signed everything I sent him even though I only asked him for a couple. His 2018 cards look good and it’s nice to see than Big League signs as well as it looked to sign. It’s not just an old-school set it looks old-school after being signed too.

Blach signed all my customs. I’m still pleased that Topps picked the same photo I did. This is from his start on Opening Day where he out-dueled Clayton Kershaw. He also signed the team roster card I made.

And more importantly Blach signed the ugly sweatshirt card as well. This means I have half the set signed. Will Smith and Abiatal Avelino signed theirs. Sam Dyson and Ray Black did not. I do not expect Evan Longoria to send a return back.

miscellaneous

I’ve started sending some letters out to some players who aren’t directly related to my projects as well. I’m starting off with good signers who are particularly resonant from my youth. Ryne Sandberg is a great example here. I tried and failed to get his signature when I was a kid* so I’m particularly pleased to add this 1988 Topps after only 9 days.

*Don’t worry I ended up with Billy Williams instead.

Andre Dawson is another player who was just a joy to watch. I’m pretty sure no one disliked Hawk. Plus his signature is a thing of beauty. While I knew him as a Cub I had to get his signature on an Expos card. 1987 Topps is never a bad choice for reliving my youth too. This came back in 15 days.

Wade Boggs was the gold standard for batting when I was a kid. I didn’t know too many American League guys but Boggs is one I knew enough about to watch. I went with his 1988 All Star card for this and I love how it came out. I super pleased that this came back in 16 days since he’d stopped signing for a bit after getting hammered by collectors.

And last but not least, I was lucky to get a Spaceman version of Bill Lee’s signature. He’s a great signer—only took 19 days—but doesn’t usually include this unless you ask. I did not ask but I don’t know maybe my letter prompted him to do it anyway. Anyway while I did not grow up watching Lee, his legend is such that stories about him in the game still exist. My sons have read the same stories in their books and were excited to see this card when I took it out of the envelope.

I suspect returns will dwindle down a bit more as I’ve been too busy to send out many recently. But I’ve still got quite a few out there and know that some will eventually find their way back.

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

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