September TTMs

A decent month despite my request volume dropping off toward the end of August. I still got a couple returns a week  and some of them were very fun.

Dave LaPoint is one of those guys who started signing again only recently. He was with the Giants for just a year but it happened to be right when I was becoming a fan. While he was already gone by the time I started going to games he was one of those players who I always knew about.

As a Giants fan, I love sending team issued cards like the Mother’s Cookies sets out for autographs. Besides the minimal look there’s something nice about them being cards that were distributed to fans first. I was very happy to get this back in 10 days.

An 11-day return from Ken Singleton added one of my favorite kinds of players to the collection. I’ve found myself increasingly interested in players who kind of got forgotten super quickly but when you look at their numbers you’re surprised at how good they were.

Singleton is kind of a perfect example of this kind of player. When I was a kid in the late 1980s I had no idea who he was let alone that he was one of the best hitters in the league in the late 1970s. His card feels like a common—he doesn’t get a  “hero number” until the early 1980s—and it’s only on pulling his career stats that his quality becomes visible.

Dave Parker is one of those guys who could be in the Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t vote for him but I wouldn’t argue against him either. He was clearly one of THE guys on every team he played on. I remember him being a  threat with the Reds and then even at the end of his career on those loaded A’s teams he still stood out as a legit force to be reckoned with.

While it sot of makes more sense to go with a Pirates or Reds card for Parker, I do remember him most as an A and was very happy to receive this in 8 days. It’s my second signed 1990 Topps and while I usually avoid this set, I like how this one turned out.

The only card of Gene Clines I have from his days as a coach with the Giants are the Mother’s Cookies coaching cards. So I elected to go with my only vintage card of him which is this 1976 Topps card with a photo showing his resplendent muttonchops. It’s nice to add a vintage card to the Barry Bonds era portion of the Giants album and great to get this back in only 9 days.

Clines was the hitting coach under Dusty Baker during the Bonds and Kent years. Not sure how much credit he deserves for those two being MVP-worthy baters but the team in general hit pretty well in the seasons he was there.

One of the fun thing about TTMing is that I come across guys who I realize I need to tell my kids about. Dave LaRoche is one such player. The boys know about Zack Greinke’s slow curve but they’d never heard of La Lob. So I got to show them the videos and tell him that I enjoyed telling my kids about him. I’m sad I didn’t have a Yankees card for the proper La Lob accuracy but I was still happy to get this back in 12 days.

An 8 day return from El Presidente added another great-looking 1986 Topps card to my collection. This design has been growing on me, especially for autographs, since the photography frequently just works well with a signature.

I always liked Martínez though I tend to think of him as an Expo (had I had a nice Expo card such as his 1990 Upper Deck I would’ve sent that instead). He was a solid pitcher and his perfect game came during my peak baseball fandom.

The day after I received the return from Dennis, I received one from Tippy. So now I have two 1986 Topps Orioles Martínez cards signed. This return took 19 days and I actually sent it out on the anniversary of the Lenn Sakata game which is noteworthy not only for Lenn Sakata’s heroics* but also for Martínez retiring the side by picking three players off of first base. A cool little unbeatable record which is unlikely to be matched in a long time.

*Playing emergency catcher in the top of the 10th inning and then winning the game with a 2-out, 3-run home run in the bottom half.

Steve Garvey is one of those players who was a star when I was a kid and I never quite understood why. A large part of this is that he was on the Padres who, by the time I was a kid, were Tony Gwynn’s team and as such never stood out much to me. But I also just wasn’t around for the years where he was a perennial All Star.

I’ve come to appreciate his career more as I’ve gotten older and respect how he signifies an era of baseball as much as any player can. Still, as appropriate as getting a Dodger card signed would be, this Padres oddball card was calling out to me. It came back in just a dozen days and looks great.

A quick 13-day return from Felix Millan adds another addition to the favorite photos wing of my TTM collection. His distinct batting stance is on full display here but the rest of the card details are perfect too with the peak-1970s mustache and everything. There’s a reason this card is a favorite in the hoppy and I love having it signed.

I’ve been wanting to send to Rollie Fingers for a while. I was holding back because I wanted an A’s card which showed off the handlebar mustache. I never grabbed one though and instead decided that I should just go with his career-capper card.

As mentioned earlier in this post, I’m increasingly pleased with the way 1986 Topps signs and have been enjoying getting those back in the mail. Fingers is a reliable signer and this came back in 15 days.

Mike Remlinger is another 15 day return. I got to see him come up with the Giants but he was always one of those players who got away. I’ve liked his 1992 Upper Deck bubble-blowing card for a while and was pleased to get that back signed. He added an additional 1991 Upper Deck rookie card for me as well which was very nice of him.

Doug DeCinces is a guy who I came to admire after reading Jeff Katz’s Split Season 1981 book. With the pending work stoppage I’m finding that I’m thinking about the guys who were there the first time around and who laid the groundwork for the MLBPA. DeCinces was also just a solid player for a decade with a couple fantastic years mixed in. His return took 18 days.

A great 7 day return from Bert Blyleven added another Hall of Famer to the collection. I would’ve liked to have sent him a Twins card but I didn’t like any of the Twins photos I had available. So instead I went with the Studio 91 since I like how different this set is.

I did however send Blyleven a couple customs. I thought about using these for the request but the photo is a bit dark and I don’t like the idea of signing on top of the t-shirt. I’m glad he liked them (the back of his Studio card states that he collects cards) and it’s always nice to get a thank you note in return.

An 80-day from former-pitcher Randy Lerch was a nice surprise. There’s a point after two months when I assume the return isn’t coming back. I don’t give up but it slides into another category where I’m even more surprised and pleased to get one back. Lerch was primarily a Phillies pitcher but bounced around the National League a bit including a couple seasons with the Giants. I have no idea why he used two different pens for this.

Rich DeLucia was only with the Giants for a couple seasons but I’m increasingly enjoying getting Mother’s Cookies cards signed. It’s not just the oddballs thing, the simplicity of the Mother’s design is generally perfect  plus the team-issue stadium giveaway aspect means I have a stronger connection to these as a Giants fan. DeLucia turned this request around in only 8 days.

Finishing out the month is an 11-day return from Jim Dwyer which added another short-term Giant to the collection. He played for 10 teams and while he is primarily an Oriole I had to get him on his only Giants card. Dwyer’s most-noteworthy accomplishment is getting on base in 13 consecutive plate appearances.

So yeah a decent month. Two Hall of Famers, a couple generation-defining guys, some fun photos, a couple Mother’s Cookies cards. Much better than I was expecting going into the month that’s for sure. And now that the kids have settled into a bit of a rhythm at school hopefully I can fill up the hopper again.

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

28 thoughts on “September TTMs”

  1. Wow. Whole bunch of players from my childhood. As a Dodger fan, not getting Garv’s signature on his 1978 Topps card is a lost opp. and I already mentioned how weird it is to see Parker’s autograph while he’s wearing an A’s uniform (conversely, getting Fingers on his ’74 or 76 A’s card would be EPIC). But great ones of Denny, Tippy, Jim Dwyer, Lerch, Blyleven, DeCinces. Also Singleton was my brother’s favorite player as a kid. Great choice with his ’78 card.

    1. Yeah if I’d had a duplicate of the 78 Garvey (or a single copy of 74 or 76 Fingers or even the 75 WS card) I’d’ve sent those instead. Parker though is someone who I watched as an A though.

  2. Lots of fun stuff here, particularly love the Orioles, of course. The Martinez ‘brothers’ are among my favorites. And the Blyleven custom is genius. Nice to see he appreciated it.

    That Sakata game reference brought back memories. I was up there to watch the O’s a few days before that happened and always wished I’d stayed around to see it. But I was newly married and figured a day or two of games was all I could risk. I did go back for the Series that October. My marriage actually survived that first fall.

  3. Wow. Solid month. I’m a huge Parker fan. That guy was a beast of a player. And DeCinces was one of my favorite players when I was a kid. Cool that they sign for their fans.

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