December returns

I wasn’t expecting anything fancy in December since as I’ve mainly been treading water and sending out 1978 and 1979 duplicates. After a couple years of sending out Giants and Stanford guys I’ve run out of duplicates of those and am now looking through other duplicate piles instead. Still, I got a few great returns all the same.

A 20-day return from Jimmy Howarth started the month off after a week of nothing. Howarth played parts of four seasons with the Giants and was primarily a pinch hitter. This request also gave me an excuse to upgrade this diamond-cut card.

Mike Garman in 13 days brought the first 1978 duplicate return. He pitched throughout the 1970s with a few good seasons for St. Louis and Los Angeles. He had four postseason appearances with the Dodgers in 1977 and didn’t give up any runs.

The same day I got Garman I also received a 13-day return from Royle Stillman. Also on a 1978 duplicate which happens to be his only solo Topps card. Stillman only played in parts of three seasons, unfortunately none of them with Kansas City.

An 8-day return from Dion James brought some signed cards on duplicates from my set builds (and one from my endless supply of 1988 Topps duplicates). I’ve come to the conclusion that I should only build sets where I like using the duplicates for signatures and I like how both the 1989 Donruss and 1990 Upper Deck look.

James is also a name I remember distinctly from my youth. Going to Candlestick meant that I saw a lot of NL West teams. Which means that a lot of those players resonate with me as well.

James put a lot of work into this return. In addition to printing out a letter for me, he used his own envelope and peeled off my address label and stamp to send everything back.

One of my few 1979 duplicates turned into a 9-day return from Jim Umbarger. He spent four years in the majors, most with Texas though he spent part of the 1977 season with Oakland.

I’m still sending out 1986 Topps duplicates though. A 9-day return from Rick Manning added another peak-1986 portrait to the collection. Manning has been broadcasting games since 1990 which makes him one of the longest-serving broadcasters in the game.

Adding Giants pitching coach Norm Sherry added another card to my 1989 project. I don’t have any of his playing-days cards but this Mothers Cookies card is perfectly fine. Part of me wants to try and get it signed by the other three living members but I think I’m going to keep this in the binder as it is. Sherry signed in a relatively-quick 11 days.

I got a longer, 40-day, return from former Stanford pitcher Mike Gosling. He had a nice six-year career in the majors and sent me a fun note thanking me for the extras. I always send three customs and while I feel guilty when guys send back all three signed, getting thank you notes for sending the extras is why I keep doing it.

Former pitcher Tom House in 8 days is another 1979 duplicate. House’s legacy is likely to be his role as a pitching/throwing mechanics specialist as he was one of the first coaches to really break down how to throw well. He’s also notable for catching Hank Aaron’s 715th home run when he was in the Braves bullpen.

Rick Cerone is another 1978 duplicate. He only signs one per request so I didn’t add a card from when I was a kid. Older is always better plus it’s fun to get a first-year Blue Jay. This came back in 20 days.

A 65-day return from Joel Youngblood was a fun one. While he’s famous for getting a hit for two different teams in one day, for me he’s one of those guys who reminds me of my first game. In that game, he pinch hit in the 9th inning and ended up going 2 for 3 with 2 doubles and 2 walks as he played 3 innings each at 2nd base and shortstop.

Versatile Royals pitcher Doug Bird brought another 1979 duplicate to my collection. Bird was a somewhat notable player for the Royals in the 1970s and I kind of love that 1970s shaggy look he’s got going on. He signed in 17 days.

I haven’t sent out a lot of more-recent vcards but I saw some returns from Angel Pagan and decided to go for it. 15 days later I got my card back. It’s always fun to thank an Even Years guy for helping take the Giants to a place I never expected them to be.

The week of Christmas brought a contender for return of the year. 45 days after I sent out the signed Cory Snyder cover, Will Clark returned it for my first multiple-signed TTM item. I hope he and Snyder enjoyed this request as much as I did since getting this signed was one of the things I’d sort of fantasized about when I started digitizing all the Giants Magazine covers from my youth.

That week I also received a 21-day return from Don Kirkwood. He was mainly an Angel but I sent a 1978 duplicate featuring him in an airbrushed White Sox uniform. Those uniforms are so wild that I don’t mind the airbrushing too much.

I probably should’ve waited until I got the Norm Sherry return before sending to Bill Fahey since it would’ve been nice to get both of them on the Mother’s Cookies card but I have a hard time sending out already-signed items.*

*It was tough as it was to send the Cory Snyder cover to Will Clark

I already have a couple Fahey autographs but none of them featuring him as a Giant. Since he’s on the 1989 Leaders card I sent that to him and the Mother’s card to Sherry. These came back in a relatively quick 23 days.

I wrapped up my year with a nice 18-day return from Jim Perry. As a Giants fan, I always knew him as Gaylord’s brother and never really appreciated how he was not only a good pitcher but even won the Cy Young Award a couple years before his brother did. This is also a fantastic TTM card with the DIY traded and mistrim giving the card a ton of character before adding the signature and incription.

January should be pretty light. I didn’t mail out much at all in the last half of December due to the holidays, not wanting to overburden the post office, and not wanting to dump requests on anyone in those weeks. But who knows, I’ve got a decent amount of stuff out there still.

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, and the web at

5 thoughts on “December returns”

  1. Great stuff as usual.

    A. It’d be cool to get Joel Youngblood to sign his 1983 Fleer Two Teams-Same Day card
    B. Congratulations on getting Clark to sign that cover

  2. LOTS of guys I remember from when I was a kid: Garman, Stillman, Umbarger, House, Manning, Cerone, Youngblood, Fahey, Bird, Kirkwood.

    I think I already commented about the Manning as he made appearance in the first pro game I ever covered. Dion James really went the extra mile, good for him!

    1. This month I’m sending out a bunch of cards from my youth and having the same reaction. Is amazing how the players from our youth are immediately recognizable decades later.

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