August TTMs

After my streak in July I experienced a week of no returns at all (and often no mail at all). A little disconcerting but also probably an indication of how the post office is going to run for the foreseeable future. Instead of daily mail I suspect that it’ll be a bigger stack of mail only a couple times a week instead.

The first Monday of August was one such day and broke my streak of no returns by delivering five returns in one day.

The big return of the day was from Brooks Robinson. I struck out with him last year but this time I sent my custom—which seems to have done the trick. I explicitly asked him to only sign one and keep the rest but he signed and returned all three in only seven days. Very very cool to get an autograph of a guy who has a claim at being the best third baseman of all time. I love the photo here too as it really shows off what this design does well.

This is a close runner up for the coolest return of the day. With Covid and everything else going on I had decided against mailing anything to any currently-active players or coaches. All that changed when the Giants sent Alyssa Nakken out to coach first base. A very cool moment that marked not only her position as the first woman to coach on the field but served as a reminder that she’s also the first woman to be a regular season Major League coach as well.

I’d had customs made right when Covid hit and immediately put them on the back burner. However, sending her a “Congratulations; I hope you’re the first of many; you make me proud to be a Giants fan” note just felt like the right thing to do. I’m sure she’s getting some awful mail and lending my voice to the positive side was something I needed to do. These came back fast—only 12 days and while she didn’t keep any of the customs I’m glad she saw them.

It would be awesome if Topps made a real card of her this year. The ToppsNOW card is nice but she would be perfect for something like Allen and Ginter.

Moving to the Cliff cards portion of the mailday. I received an extra SSPC of Marc Hill from Cliff and sent it out with a bunch of the other requests I made in July. 16 days later it came back. I’m not a huge fan of the direct flash at night look of most of the Giants SSPC cards but the signatures usually end up improving things.

Dave Giusti is also from Cliff and came back in 23 days. Besides being a cool card of a Colt .45, Giusti is an interesting  player who serves as an example for the evolution and emergence of the modern closer. It’s fun to read about these guys and see how we’ve been making steps toward modern bullpenning for over five decades.

The last return of the batch was from pitcher Dave Heaverlo. This was out for 66 days and is one of those cases where the note that comes back really colors the whole return. I’m used to assuming that a lot of the guys I send to are pretty conservative. I don’t mind getting Bible verses or tracts. But this note just made me laugh. Ruefully. I know Heaverlo was a bit of a joker when he played but this is one of those things which makes me wonder how much was joking as how much was using joking as an excuse for saying awful stuff.

I was out of power for 60 hours but that didn’t stop me from getting a seventeen-day return from Frank Reberger whose 1972 card I’ve always liked because it’s one of the only Giants cards that shows Candlestick Park under construction.

Another SSPC card means another Cliff Card return. I’d sent to Rader earlier but with the SSPC duplicate in hand I figured it was worth trying again. This one came back in 20 days and takes me up to eighteen autographs on cards from Cliff. I’ve only got a couple others out there now.

Wes Chamberlain is a fun one. He’s super active on Twitter and very appreciative of fans who remember him from his playing days. He’s not exactly a household name outside of Philadelphia but I remember him fondly because I got his autograph at Candlestick when I was a kid.

And then I proceeded to cut it up in a misguided attempt at storing these in a Rolodex. Oh well. It paid off though since someone else got a return from him on Twitter and I mentioned that I should probably send to him since this cut autograph is kind of painful to look at. He saw my tweet and pretty much ordered me to send him a request.

Ten days later both cards came back. I like the 1991 because it shows the old maroon Phillies uniforms and the ball-in-P logo that I always kind of loved. The 1994 though is one of those great peak-1990s card photos that makes collecting those sets so much fun.

It’s nice to get fun photos signed. Those are letters that I enjoy writing too and I assume it must be nice to have a trading card with a great photo. It’s the only reason I sent to Glenn Brummer. I just love the photo with the dust and the umpire and everything and got it back in 9 days.

Turk Wendell is another fun one with the photo of him brushing his teeth between innings. That the back of this card includes a writeup of his various quirks is even better. I wish we had more characters like this in the game and was happy to get this back in 9 days.

Cliff sent me a 1974 Bobby Valentine card. Since I really new of him as a manager, I figured it would be nice to pair it with a card of him managing so I sent off two cards to get signed. His recorded returns suggested that this was a reasonable expectation but after I sent my request he started signing only one card per. 26 days later I found out that he went with the 1986 instead of Cliff’s 1974. A little disappointing since I would never have sent to him without the 1974 but also a bit appropriate because this card represents how I think of him.

It’s been a while since I got one of my Giants postcards back. This one from Joe Pettini took 66 days but like the rest of the postcard returns reminds me how nice and how different just a 3.5″x5″ photo signs compared a baseball card.

The day after I got the Pettini I received a couple more returns that had been out for a couple months. The most-exciting was Masanori Murakami in 62 days. He was the first request I’ve sent to a foreign country and in this day and age I had no idea what kind of mail was getting through. I included a bit of cash for return postage and he was nice enough to provide his own stamps and send these customs back (he kept one).

I’ve mentioned before on here than Murakami was my first purchase after I rejoined the hobby. I wish I’d known more about him hen I was a kid but he’s one of the players who make me particularly proud to be a Giants fan.

Tom Watson was a close second to Murakami in the cool department. It’s always fun to get baseball cards of non-baseball people for my Stanford album. Usually these come from Ginter but this 2016 First Pitch insert is even better since it’s actually a Royals card. He signed this in 57 days and is the firs non-baseball TTM request to enter the Stanford album.

Larry Dierker is on a card from Cliff and took 25 days to turn around. As a SABR member it’s fun to get an autograph from someone who has a chapter named after them (I actually have autographs from four such players now). Dierker is also especially interesting because he features in Ball Four.

I enjoyed the 17 day return from Steve Decker because I got to write a nice letter. I was at the game which he won with a walk-off home run in 1991. Those kind of experiences and childhood memories never leave you and while Decker never quite hit that kind of high again the thought that he might was sort of compelling all season.

It’s a bit funny how things go. The day after Steve Decker I received another return from a short-term early-1990s Giants prospect. Ted Wood’s request was out a lot longer at 60 days but he and Decker both sit in my mind as similar payers who I was excited to see on cardboard with the promise they embodied. Even though Wood’s MLB career didn’t pan out he was still a Gold Medal winner with the 1988 Olympic team and put together a decent career overseas in the 1990s.

A 31-day return from Fred Klages is one of the last cards from Cliff. I think I’ve only got one out still. Klages only appeared in 14 games over 1966 and 1967. His stats look pretty good until you remember how dominant pitchers were in the late 1960s. Still 14 games in the majors is 14 more than most of us ever get. He did end up playing for Hawaii in 1968 too.

Guiseppe Chiramonte isn’t the kind of player I’d normally send a request to since he never played in the majors. But for whatever reason I remember him as a fan favorite at San José. Not exactly sure why, it could very well have just been his name sounding fun over the loudspeaker (Scooter Tucker was similarly memorable). Even if it’s the minors those memories are fun and I was plenty happy to get this back in 19 days.

This was a fun one. I was digging through some “junk” and found a pile of 30-year-old ticket stubs. So I looked through to see if any were memorable. I didn’t find the Steve Decker game but I did find one from Scott Garrelts’s almost no-hitter. So I had to send it off with a nice letter thanking him for producing one of the specific games from my youth that I remember vividly. 21 days later I got it back. I’ll need to make a note about the game in the album.

I felt a little bad about this request. Sam McDowell was a great pitcher with Cleveland in the 1960s but his career fell off a cliff as soon as he came to San Francisco. However, as a Giants fan I wanted him on a Giants card. I also always like this peak-1973 point of view and was happy to get this back in 52 days.

A 48-day return from Greg Litton was a fun one to receive. I remember him as a utility guy in the early 1990s but he’s most-notable for being the last Giants position player to pitch before Pablo Sandoval did it in 2018.

Litton pitched in a game against the Astros in 1991 where he came in as a pinch hitter, singled, and stayed in to pitch the ninth inning (giving up a triple and a bases-loaded walk but getting out of the inning with only one run of damage). According to his Twitter he doesn’t remember batting let alone getting a hit but it’s clear that the pitching experience stuck with him.

Finishing out the month is an epic return from Johnny Edwards. Edwards was one of the better defensive catchers in the 1960s and also features in Ball Four where he even gets a featured verse in “Proud to be An Astro.” The 1967 is one of the last cards from Cliff that I sent out and the 1970 features him proud to be an Astro.

Edwards is one of those guys who’s famous in the hobby for sending lots of extra goodies. In this case I got signed and personalized photos of him with all the teams he played with. He appears to be printing these out on his own computer as they’re inkjet prints that got a but smudged in transit. Still very cool to get the extras and I’m sort of amazed that this return only took 7 days whatwith the hurricane hitting near to Houston and mail delivery being as messed up as it is right now.

August was very good month with some of my favorite returns of the year. This is despite things petering out toward the end. The whole ordeal with the bat and power outage kind of knocked me off of writing requests for about three weeks so I’m glad that the returns kept me happy. I suspect September will start off pretty slow though since the pipeline is pretty empty right now.

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

48 thoughts on “August TTMs”

  1. Wowza. Awesome stuff… but your customs are the coolest of the bunch. That’s pretty awesome that Murakami signed for you.

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