July TTMs

July returns feature a lot of cards from Cliff. In fact I got three such returns in a big stack of returns after July 4th weekend and they continued to roll in all month long..

A 7-day return from Ron Blomberg, the first Designated Hitter on the first Designated Hitter card is a fun one. When Cliff offered this one up I jumped at the chance. Especially given the fact that it seems like the DH is going to be universal moving forward. This isn’t the best photograph for a signature but sometimes the card itself represents something important in and of itself.

Giants nemesis Bobby Richardson was another 7-day return. This is another card from Cliff and like the rest of my 1965s, looks nice signed. I knew of Richardson from his World Series reputation but it was nice to get a sense of how good he was as a regular day player too.

He also included a Mickey Mantle tract in his return. It’s an interesting document which details Mantle’s conversion at the end of his life.

Former Giant Dick Schofield was the third 7-day return and the third featuring a card from Cliff. Where the 1966 is one of mine, the 1959 was provided by Cliff. I normally shy away from getting cards with facsimile signatures signed but this particular 1959 had some potential because the facsimile is small and hard to notice. The big blue signature looks pretty nice with the cool Pirates uniform and the magenta card background.

Reliever Doug Jones returned three cards in 14 days and added his own personal card to the pile as well. I like that each of these cards shows him with a different team. I also enjoy being reminded of an age when relief pitchers weren’t all 100mph phenoms. Jones relied on off speed stuff and his success shows how there are many ways to get batters out.

Jim Kaat returned all my customs signed in 18 days. I did not ask for this and am a little embarrassed when it happens (I very clearly request players to keep extras). Kaat was one of those guys I remember learning about as a kid in the great but not a Hall of Famer category of player. I’ve mentioned it before on this blog but I kind of prefer getting signatures from this class of player (Richardson also counts here).

Kyle Peterson’s 27 day return though reminded me of why I enjoy sending out customs. For every player like Kaat who signs and returns everything, there are multiple players like Peterson who not only keep the extras but send me a thank you note.

It’s notes like this that are why I love making and sending out customs. Not only do they allow for more interesting letters but it’s nice to give the players something too. I watched Peterson pitch when he was in college and it’s fun to not only commemorate that on a card but have it be the rason why I made the request.

Another custom I was thrilled to get back. Ralph Garr returned this in 29 days. I was beginning to worry that he didn’t like the photo…which would’ve been a shame since it’s one of my favorite baseball photos. I originally made this custom as a joke for Lanny but it was too good to not try getting it signed.

Jason Middlebrook returned another custom in 30 days. Middlebrook pitched a no-hitter when he was at Stanford and spent parts of four seasons in the majors.

Paul Carey is one of those guys whose signature I got a lot when he was in college but never got him on a professional card. By the time he would’ve been coming to Alumni games I was out of the hobby. It’s nice to get some cards for the album and it’s always nice to send a custom out of a guy I watched play while he was in school. For a long time it didn’t look like he was signing through the mail but he started doing so recently and turned these around in 31 days.

I found a cache of Mother’s Cookies cards and decided I should re-send to Van Landingham. I like getting the Mother’s cards signed because their nature as stadium giveaways makes them more personal to me as a fan who went to those giveaway days. 22 days later I had another signed Mother’s card as well as a fun pitcher batting card signed for the album.

I thought about sending Lindy McDaniel a Giants card but I didn’t really like any of them for signing plus Cliff had sent me a gorgeous 1957 Topps card instead. I did mention that I was a Giants fan and much to my surprise 11 days later, I found a signed Giants photo tucked in with my signed card. Very cool.

1976 doesn’t have a lot of action cards but the ones it does have are all sort of rough and raw and suggest a much grittier game than I’m used to seeing. With Von Joshua last month and Steve Ontiveros’s 10 day return this month I’ve now got a couple signed 1976s that aren’t posed. Oh, and this is another card from Cliff.

Chris Arnold’s 10 day return brought me my first signed SSPC card. Cliff had given me a stack of Giants and as a result I ended up with a few duplicates. Perfect for sending out. The simple clean photo-centric design looks good with ink. Arnold is also an interesting character with that catcher/infield position indication which only hints at his versatility. The back of his card mentions that he lead the California league in wins as well.

Jose Vizcaino was a member of the 1997 Giants team that brought me back into baseball after the 1994 strike had caused me to drift away. It’s always fun to remember that team  and that pennant race and I was happy to get these back in 27 days.

It was bound to happen eventually but Glenn Adams is the first guy to keep one of the cards I sent while still sending back a return. In this case he kept a 1976 SSPC card I got from Cliff and sent back my 1979 Topps card in 13 days. I kind of wish he’d done the opposite so I’d have a Giants card in the album but it’s fine. 1979 is a nice clean design for signatures.

Marty Keough was a quick 7 day return. This is a card from Cliff and is the first signed Senators card in my collection. Fun that this is a first-year Senators card as well. Keough played for both the San Francisco Seals and the San Jose Red Sox in the 1950s before the Giants came to town.

Ron Gant is one of my favorite players because he signed for me in-person back when I was a kid hanging over the Candlestick fence during batting practice. Back then the Braves were part of the NL West I saw them a lot and Gant was always fun to watch too. I wanted to try and get a Studio card signed since I’ve been sending those out in other requests as well. He’s a great signer and 10 days later these came back.

This is a fun one. I whipped up a custom as a way to celebrate Mike Aronstein winning the first SABR Baseball Cards Committee Burdick Award. We wanted to stay away from Topps designs and the SSPC Baseball Immortals set felt like the perfect choice to honor Mike. This is the first custom I’ve gotten printed in bulk since we ordered a couple hundred for SABR to distribute.

I decided to send my copy out so I could write my own thank you note about the role TCMA cards played in my youth.  I really miss sets like TCMA which taught me about players from the past. They’re the perfect thing for kids to learn about the game especially since real vintage cards of those players are out of their reach. Mike sent my card back in 7 days along with a couple TCMA postcards of the Santa Fe Fuegos.

This return from Mike also kicked off a run of eight days where I got at least one return a day.

Back to more cards from Cliff. The San Diego Chicken wasn’t on my request radar but I kind of love this return and card. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got such nice penmanship but it’s also a nice reminder for me to explain to my kids about how mascots weren’t always a thing with baseball. The Chicken is a good signer too, address is on his website and this came back in 9 days.

The 1976 Jon Matlack came from Cliff and I added a 1983. Matlack was due to be inaugurated to the Mets Hall of Fame this season before everything got all screwed up. He sent the pair of cards back in 7 days and included a nice inscription on the index card as well.

Cliff provided me a 1966 card of Rick Reichardt which appears to have had the stick of gum stuck to the front half a century ago. Reichardt was a bonus baby whose massive contract is part of the reason why Major League Baseball decided to create an amateur draft. He also played in Hawaii in 1964 so I need to ask my mom if she remembers him the way she remembers Bob Duliba.

Reichardt signed in 8 days and included a signed photocopy enlargement of his 1967 Topps card as well. This is one of the more interesting player-provided pieces I’ve received.

The aptly-named Horace Speed returned on of the SSPCs Cliff sent me in 22 days. Speed was a pinch-running specialist who played three seasons in the majors but only got a Topps card in 1979. It’s nice to add another signed SSPC and it’s also nice to get guys who have a single Giants card to sign that one card.

Johnny Grubb was a quick 10-day return. Building the 1978 set (it’s not done yet but I’m only missing the two big-ticket rookie cards) left me with a decent number of duplicates. It’s a set I’ve found that I really like to have signed and players like Grubb who I remember from my first years of collecting are especially fun to track down. Is he a household name? Not really. But a 16-year Major League career is nothing to sneeze at.

Dave Baldwin is on a card from Cliff. He’s got a great signature that reminds me of Jeff Ballard’s and returned this in 11 days. Nice to have a Senators card signed and, like Reichardt, Baldwin is another Hawaii Islander I need to ask my mom about. Where Reichardt played in Hawaii in 1964, Baldwin played in 1965 and 1966.

Baldwin also included three of his own cards that show him with each team he played with. This is very cool since it shows the arc of his career. The back of his cards point to snakejazz.com which shows that he’s had an interesting life since baseball and is a pretty neat guy who’s done a little bit of everything.

I thought I’d lost this Brett Saberhagen card. He had apparently changed his address a week after I sent this out and while returns were coming back from the new address, there were a bunch of cards sent to the old one that ended up being long-outstanding. 64 days later this finally came back. Saberhagen was one of those guys who speaks to my generation of fans. I went with a silly photo because I didn’t have a 1985 card to send.

Paul Zuvella sent back one of my Stanford customs in 46 days. This is a custom I like because of the similarity in photos between his college photo and is professional photo. I’m happy to get him on a Braves card as well since I’d gotten him on Yankees and Indians cards at Stanford back when I was a kid.

Claude Osteen is another card from Cliff. This came back in 14 days. Osteen was one of those players I just remember reading about when I was a kid. For some reason his being a bit of an unsung hero on those Koufax and Drysdale teams really stuck out at me. I dig the inscriptions on this even though I’m a Giants fan.

I remember Storm Davis as a member of those late-80s A’s juggernauts but he was a bit of a journeyman. It’s kind of fun to get a batch of cards which represent a player’s career like this. This is also my first signed 1990 Topps (I typically shy away from this set but this card looked like it would work okay) and I’m enjoying accumulating signed Studio 91s.

Diamond Jim Gentile played in the last game at Ebbets Field. Very cool. Also very cool is that this is the first Kansas City Athletic card I’ve gotten signed. It’s been fun to get cards signed from teams that no longer exist and Cliff got me started on three of them with this and the two Senators cards further up this post.

This was a 14 day return on a card from Cliff which finished off an eight-day streak of returns. Eight days doesn’t sound too impressive but  given how little mail I get most Tuesdays and Wednesdays in general the fact that I got a TTM return for eight straight mail days is the longest streak I ever expect to get.

Of course after that 8-day streak broke I got no more returns for the entire month—including a couple days of no mail at all. Funny how things go. This was a good month though and I got a lot of requests out too so that bodes well for August as well.

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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