January Returns

That late flurry of returns in December nearly emptied my pipeline but a few cards still came back.

The first return of the month was Walt Terrell in 43 days. I’ve stopped sending more than 2 cards in most cases but when a guy has played for multiple teams it’s fun to send cards from each team. Terrell had a decent 11-season career in MLB though his first years with the Mets were clearly his best.

A 197-day return from Mike Trujillo brought a pair of cards from sets I’ve been hitting pretty hard. Trujillo had a short 5-year career including a stint during the offseason on the Giants roster (picked up via trade and then lost via the Rule 5 draft). He pitched best during his spell in 1986 with Seattle (41IP over 11 games with a 178ERA+).

Stu Tate had a short career with only 2.2 innings pitched over 2 games for the Giants. Those two games though occurred in 1989 so he’s kind of part of my 1989 project (which I’ve added to and updated since I wrote the post). This 1990 Fleer was his only appearance in a flagship MLB set (he’s also in 1990 MLB Debut) and it was nice to get it back in 64 days.

The first time I sent to Dusty Baker I realized I’d forgotten to send this copy of my Giants Magazine cover. So I put together another mailing and waiting until after what I hoped would be his first World Series victory. It was very nice to send a congratulations note and even better to get this back in 68 days. Hopefully the World Series victory is enough to get Dusty into the Hall of Fame. He and Felipe Alou deserve their own wing for guys whose combined contributions to the game are worth celebrating.

Since I was sending to Dusty I also included his 2002 card. I have a bunch playing-days and early-manager cards signed but getting one from that 2002 team felt appropriate. Yes that World Series loss still hurts. But that was a fun team and fun ride all the same. I did not send the 1987 Topps card but it’s a fully-appropriate inclusion to my collection.

A 9-day return from Roger Mason brought another player who I remember from my first year as a baseball fan. The interesting thing about Mason is that I really remember him as being part of that 1987 team but the Giants sent him to the minors after April after he struggled in a few of his starts. So something about that first month of my first season as a fan really stuck with me.

Another 9-day return, this time from Jeff Reboulet. Reboulet played in the majors for 12 seasons as a reliable, positive dWAR middle infielder with pedestrian batting stats. Very nice to add another signed 1993 Upper Deck to the binder as this is one of my favorite sets.

And a third 9-day return (all three arrived the same day) from Tom Walker. Walker is most notable for taking part in loading the earthquake relief flight which killed Roberto Clemente (who he’d gotten to know during winter ball in Puerto Rico) and being talked off the plane by Clemente—making him the last ballplayer to see Clemente alive. It says a lot good things about him that he was working on earthquake relief and wanted to see it delivered too.

Walker included a nice postcard sized photo in the envelope as well. Since his best years were with the Expos it’s a fitting team for him to use on his customs.

Shawn Boskie is one of those rookies I remember pretty strongly from the early 1990s when every rookie who looked promising was hyped as an investment. He ended up hanging around the majors for 9 seasons and was the starting pitcher in the game the Cal Ripken Jr broke Lou Gehrig’s record. He returned this in 269 days.

Ray Fontenot played in the Majors for four seasons but the only card of his that I have is this classic airbrushing disaster from 1987. Not my ideal choice of card but it does hit me in the feels. He returned this in 42 days.

A 14-day return from Todd Simmons brought one of those guys who made it onto a Major League card without actually playing a game in the Majors. By the time this card was printed he’d been in AAA for four years and was entering his fifth (and last) season at that level after being traded from the Padres to the Brewers. His Minor League stats look pretty good so I can see why Fleer made the bet he’d be called up soon.

Matt Downs gets counted as one of the Even Years guys even though he ended up on waivers midway through 2010. He does however have a Giants card in Update and I was sot of shocked to discover that I had a duplicate of it. He was only in the Majors for 4 seasons. His 2010 with the Giants wasn’t awful as a defensive sub and his 2011 with Houston was pretty good as both a pinch hitter and defensive sub. He returned this in a quick 10 days.

Jay Aldrich played for three seasons  (1987–90 but not 1988) with a couple of those getting serious action as a reliever. An 11-day return from him brought the 78th autographed 1988 Topps card to the collection as I continue to work on my duplicates from that set.

An 11-day return from Todd Greene finished out the month. Greene was only with the Giants for one season during which he injured his shoulder in a collision at home plate and never properly recovered. Not the best way to end an eleven year career.

All in all a good month. Pipeline is going to be filled now as I commence my annual Spring Training requests. Those haven’t been great for me in the past couple years but I enjoy sending out my yearly customs too much to stop now.

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

4 thoughts on “January Returns”

  1. A lot of deep cuts this month.

    I’ve never heard that Tom Walker story before. … Walt Terrell I know as one of those unfortunate players who was traded from one team that was about to win the World Series to another team that had just one the World Series.

    Also, signatures of Dusty as a non-Dodger do not compute.

    1. That’s pretty cool that Dusty turned around and signed those cards and magazine cover so quickly. I don’t remember ever seeing that 1987 Topps card of him. When I think of his time with the A’s, his 1986 Topps card is really the only one I can picture.

      1. 1986T was the first one I got signed (in-person back in 1993 Spring Training). Dusty does one big TTM return of everyone’s mail in January. So if you send in February you wait a year and if you send in November it’s nice and quick.

    2. I thought about sending the Dodgers custom but it’s a night photo and I didn’t trust the signature to work (sending the black uniform Giants card was already taking a risk).

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