September Returns

A slow month due to refilling the hopper after being away all summer but I got a few good returns nonetheless.

First return of the month was a 77-day turnaround which arrived a week and a half into the month. Guy Hoffman was one of those AAAA players who went undrafted but pitched great in the minors. He finally stuck a bit with the Reds in 1987 as a fourth starter who was good enough to last the season but not be asked back afterwards. I like how the personalization works on this card.

Vern Law is one of those TTM legends who I’ve been meaning to send to but just never had a card of. Last summer though I visited a card shop by my parents in order to dig through their off-grade vintage boxes* and found this 1963 card for a buck. A great-looking card that works perfectly with a signature…and everything else that Law likes to write on his cards.

*Sadly these boxes are being allowed to wither and die since they’ve clearly been strip mined for anything with flip value and the card shop no longer sees them as being worth maintaining. A shame since my favorite part of any card shop is a well-stocked box of old cards to dig through.

Law’s inscriptions mean that I don’t have to write anything about his career since his highlights are all listed. But he was a very good pitcher in the 1950s and was a big part of that 1960 Pirates team. True to his legend form he returned this in only 11 days.

Best return of the month was this 167-day one from Rachel Balkovec. I made this custom way back in the beginning of 2020 as part of my preparation for that year’s Trenton Thunder season. She’d just been hired and between her and Alyssa Nakken I was enjoying making customs for important people who I didn’t expect Topps to make cards of.

Then of course COVID happened, the Yankees dumped Trenton, and Balkovec was named the manager of the 2022 Tarpons. Before this season I sent her a handful of customs, explained why I’d made them initially, congratulated her on her position in Tampa, wished her luck, and said I looked forward to seeing her manage in Somerset.

It seems like as soon as she finished up her season she sat down to answer her fan mail. She kept the extra customs and I’m very happy that she sent this one back. The Tarpons had a rough first half of the season but had a very respectable second half so I’m hoping the Yankees keep her around.

A 13 day return from Joel Youngblood brought another wonderful signed team postcard to the collection. I’ve mentioned it before but Youngblood featured prominently in my first ever MLB game. Despite being a 9th inning pinch hitter he wound up with a 2 for 3 game, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 3 innings of defense at 2nd base, and 3 innings at shortstop.

Jim Gosger has a card as a Giant in the 1970 Topps set even though he never played for the team. Thankfully that card is a high number which I’d never send out TTM and so I get to avoid having to make a decision on the “does this go in my Giants album” question. I wish I had a Pilots card of him to send but the best I had was this 1968 Topps card with the blacked-out Kansas City cap. He sent this back in 7 days.

A pair of cards from Vic Correll came back in 9 days. He was a backup catcher through most of the 1970s but these two cards are both really nice. The 1978 is a nice portrait at Candlestick and the 1979 (possibly also at Candlestick) is a great catcher’s pose.

Del Unser had a 15-year career as a utility player and pinch hitter, bouncing around with five different teams in the 1970s before settling back with the Phillies at the end of the decade. For the Phillies he’s notable for both homering in three straight pinch hit appearances (for which he got a 1980 Topps Highlights card) and for a few timely doubles in the 1980 World Series which played a large part in the Phillies victory. He returned this pair in 12 days.

I’ve not been so good about keeping the hopper full this month. Yes I got some requests out but I always forget how much work it is to get back into the swing of things in the new school year. All of which means that next month looks to be pretty thin.

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

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