February Returns

A slow month caused by me taking a few weeks off from sending requests before gearing up for spring training. The backlog of stragglers however came through in a big way with a couple nice cards.

The first return of February was well worth the 84-day wait. When I was a kid 50 home runs in a season was a big deal. It had only happened once since 1965 and as a result George Foster was just one of those players I knew. I had to explain who he was to my kids though since they’ve grown up in an era where we average a 50 home run season a year.* Yes each of those guys is a star the year it happens but the accomplishment is nowhere near what it used to be.

*Starting with Cecil Fielder in 1990, 50 home runs have happened 30 times over the following 30 years.

As a Giants fan, Foster is of course one of the biggest “what if” stories in team history.* I don’t actually have a lot of his cards (it would’ve been nice to get a Reds card signed) but this 2003 Topps Shoebox card which recreates his 1971 Rookie Card as a solo card was a nice duplicate to have handy and offered a way to get his autograph on a Giants card. And yes, while it’s not a 1971 card it could serve as a stand-in for tha year in my one-per-year not-actually-a-project thing.

*Though not as big as the “what if the Giants had offered Hank Aaron $50 more in his salary” scenario which suggests the possibility of Hank and Willie Mays playing in he outfield together for 15 years.

Don Kessinger was another return that took over a couple months. Only 70 days this time as he signed another of my 1978 duplicates. While he’s mainly a Cub, his 1978 is nice to have since that was the year he became the last player-manager in the American League. He only managed into 1979 but it’s still a fun thing to commemorate.

Another straggler. Another 1978 duplicate. Another fun return, this time from Steve Rogers. Like Doug DeCinces, Rogers is one of the player represenatives who I learned about when reading Split Season and yeah, 207 days after I sent this request I still have work stoppages and labor disputes on my brain.

Randy Hunt played in 25 games over two seasons with only 13 hits in 67 at bats (2 home runs though). However, he received a truly wonderful card as his only MLB card. It’s hard to imagine a better version of this moment with him halfway through his first step out of the crouch, face visible after having just removed his mask, cap just hanging out in mid-air, and eyes up tracking the ball. Of course I had to send this card out.

I thought it was gone too. Hunt typically turns things around in a couple weeks and I sent this in mid-summer. It finally came back 199 days later in a water-damaged envelope and I was a bit concerned. Then I opened it up and found two cards where I’d only sent one. If I had to guess, it would be that something happened to my request on the way to Hunt and he held on to it until he could replace the card I’d sent with a cleaner version.

Sid Bream in 9 days added another 1991 Studio to the collection. HE’s one of those names which takes me back to my childhood as I remember watching him at Candlestick as both a Pirate and a Brave and of course I also remember watching him on TV in that fantastic 1992 National League Championship Series.

I wish I had a Giants card of Wilson Alvarez since he was part of that 1997 team that brought me back to the sport. I didn’t though so I had to make due with this pair of 1992s. I like the Upper Deck but I kind of love the idea of getting those No Hit Club cards signed (I got Tommy Greene previously). He was a pretty good pitcher in the 1990s though his stint with the Giants wasn’t as good as we hoped it would be. These came back in 10 days.

A 12-day return from Zane Smith is very much like the Sid Bream return in a guy who I just remember seeing around the National League. I don’t particularly like the 1990 card but it’s nice to get one for each team.

While I’m not an A’s fan, I can’t deny that those late-80s, early-90s teams were a big part of my baseball upbringing. Terry Steinbach seems to have been kind of forgotten by the larger baseball fandom but he was a solid catcher and even won the All Star Game MVP. It was very nice to get this back in 73 days.

I don’t follow a lot athletes on Twitter but I do follow Don August. He’s not a prolific tweeter but he has a tendency to drop wild stories about playing ball overseas. He’s also a great TTM guy and turned this around in 15 days.

And that’s that for February. No idea what to expect for March. I’ve sent a bunch of Spring Training requests out but those are increasingly a crapshoot. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll get a few customs back though.

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

3 thoughts on “February Returns”

  1. Cool to see Steinbach signs. He played a very significant role on the successful A’s teams of the late 80’s and early 90’s.

  2. 50 home runs was still a big deal when I was a kid as well. I didn’t realize so many guys had them in the last couple of decades.

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