February returns

Finally getting some requests out again. Which meant that I started to get them back too. Always surprises me how fast things come back. Feels good to be back in the saddle even though I didn’t get to send things out to Spring Training as I was hoping to.

The first return of the month came from junkballer Chris Hammond in 21 days. He had a rough start to his career. Was having a decent 1994 when the strike hit but everything else was kind of mediocre. In the late 90s he reinvented himself as a reliever and by 2002 he’d put things together and had a pretty good three year run. His 2002 season in particular was kind of amazing as he pitched 76 innings over 63 games with a 0.95 ERA.

A 21 day return from Tim McIntosh brought another 1991 Studio card to the collection. I’m really enjoying working these duplicates as it’s one of the most-unique sets from my youth and it taught me so much about what I can consider a baseball card to be.

I got a  super fun return from Brian Johnson in 44 days. One of my favorite things about sending extra customs is getting notes back thanking me for them. Knowing that I’m offering the players something is one of the best parts of sending customs and it’s always nice to hear that they appreciate my work. This card in particular has photos from two highlights of his career. The Stanford photo is from the post-championship celebration in (I think) 1987 while the Giants photo comes from his eponymous game in 1997 (which I attended).

Johnson had an interesting career. One of only two positions he didn’t play at Sanford was actually catcher (the other was 2nd Base and of course he also played Quarterback) so of course that’s what he ended up playing in MLB. He put together an 8-year career with his 1997 season in San Francisco being the clear highlight. It’s always nice when a journeyman player manages to get a game named after him for all the right reasons.

A fast 6-day return from Richie Hebner brought another 1981 card to the collection. I wish I had more cards of him since he’s a bit of  character whatwith the gravedigger nickname and offseason profession. I also enjoyed his chapter in the Wax Pack book.

The same day I got the Hebner return I got a 207-day return from Ed Hearn. I enjoy both catching photos but there’s always going to be something about a catcher standing in a cloud of dust which takes a baseball card to the next level. I’m convinced that they don’t make dirt like that anymore and it’s a shame photographically.

1990 Fleer is a design that gets maligned (completely fairly) as boring and forgettable. It is however often transformed by an autograph. No signature this Roy Smith card would be kind of awkwardly cropped and forgettable. With the signature it has a certain something. Smith’s a bi of a baseball lifer and returned this in 12 days.

I always like being able to send cards that are like a decade apart. It’s nice to get a range of a guy’s career—especially when it’s someone whose last card is from my youth. This 8-day return from Buck Martinez is the perfect example with a card from 1976 and 1985. I only wish I’d had a card of him managing as well.

A 9-day return from Steve Balboni made me think about the way I react to players as I go through my duplicates from the late 80s and early 90s. Much to my surprise I’m finding myself having strong reactions to America League guys like Balboni or Kelly Gruber. I think this is because as a National League fan I only heard about the  more-prominent American League guys. I might remember more NL guys but the prominent AL ones are the ones that I learned through hype.

Balboni, for a few years, was a bonafide star. A ton of home runs in 1985 and even when his production declined he still hit bombs. I don’t think I ever saw him play but I definitely knew who he was.

1987 being the first full season of baseball I ever watched means I was actually invested in the World Series for the first time. I don’t normally remember mangers but I do remember Tom Kelly who makes a nice pair with the Whitey Herzog return. He returned this in 10 days.

Thad Bosley’s 1986 Topps card is one of those that sticks out to me from my youth. I didn’t include a 1986 card in my Reminiscence Bump post because I wasn’t collecting that year but either his card or Jerry Don Gleaton would be my choice for cards I remember collecting from packs of that year (the Traded set of course consisted of cards I coveted). Anyway it was fun to get a signed copy back in 11 days.

I got a 17-day return from Mike Mason who had a decent 7-year MLB career. It makes sense to get him on a Rangers card but I really wish I’d had a copy of his excellent 1988 Topps card as well. Alas I probably sent all mine to One Million Cubs years ago.

A 211-day return from Don Carman brought my second multi-hundred day return of the month. Carman spent a decade in the majors—mostly with Philadelphia—but is most noteworthy for his list of boilerplate interview responses.

Charles Nagy is a name I remember from my youth. Not so much my childhood years but my adolescent ones where despite the strike I couldn’ ignore those mid-1990s Cleveland teams. He was also on the 1988 Olympic team that I got to see practice at Sunken Diamond.

These came back in 18 days. Was surprised I had multiple cards of him. I don’t usually use 1993 Donruss but this one works. And I really like the 1997 Topps even though it’s a typical “fonts are upside down when in the pocket” horizontal design.

For whatever reason I’ve accumulated a ton of these 2010 Franchise History cards. Realizing I should send one to Renel made me realize that I should also send on to Jon Miller. It’s not summer if I don’t hear his voice and I’m a bit worried about what this summer will bring. I know that announcer Hall of Famers are a different category but it’s nice to get a HoFer back in just 11 days. It’s also nice that this is a card from the year he got inducted.

All in all a very good month. Good to be back and I’m hopeful things will continue in this manner. I’ve especially enjoyed adding a bunch to my 1986 and 1988 piles. I’m not going for signed sets (I’m amazed by everyone doing this but am not at all tempted) but the fact that I have almost 70 of each of those sets signed is still pretty cool.

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

2 thoughts on “February returns”

  1. I’m a big fan of Jon Miller. He’s got a very relaxing voice and is a fountain of baseball trivia.

  2. I only received one note back during my brief stint of sending out TTM’s, and I hold in higher regard than the majority of the cards that I got signed.

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