Thanksgiving Zapping

I haven’t been doing a lot of trading recently. The thing with trading is that you need to be acquiring product which has things that you don’t need or want. And I’m barely acquiring product anymore at all let alone anything which produces the kind of bycatch needed to trade nicely.

Which means that it’s always a surprise and please when I do find a package in my mailbox. Thanksgiving weekend one such surprise package arrived from Kenny. It was a large, suspiciously-light box which turned out to be mostly packed with boxes and toploaders as Kenny is rehoming his excess storage supplies. But there was also a decent stack of cards in there too.

I went through quickly and pulled out everything that looked relevant to my collecting interests. The Jack McDowell is a new card for the Stanford album and reminds me that I don’t have a lot of 1996 Score. Matt Cain is a Giants card I didn’t have though I still have no idea what ToppsTown was.

It’s not a primary project but I’ve been slipping cards of Hall of Famers into their own album for a while now. While I don’t picture Kaat, Smith, or Pudge as Yankees it’s always nice to add cards to that album.

I’m also putting a small collection together of guys who I’ve see play at Trenton or Somerset. While this is mostly focused on Major Leaguers I’ll totally add Bowman or Panini cards if I come across them. Is very nice to get Rookie Cards of Abreu and Deivi as well.

Two African-American cards are great to have. I wish Topps had Negro League players in Allen & Ginter every year but I’ll never turn down a Moses Fleetwood Walker card. It’s also always fun to get a Japanese card—in this case a nice foil Hideki Matsui.

And finally a few 1980s oddballs from toy stores. I remember the Toys R Us cards but never saw the Kay Bee ones. A bit funny to see who was considered a “young superstar” back then.

Most of the cards though was various assorted Yankees from multiple sets. I do have to admit though that I’ll never turn down the chance to add more cards from before I began collecting. I’m mostly thin on any set before 1986.* With this batch I now have almost a page each of 1972s (all Yankees), 1973s, and 1974s. The 1972 Kekich makes me want to get a 1972 Fritz Peterson to pair with it and the 1973 Blomberg is a fun on for first DH reasons.**

*Exceptions are 1975–1979 due to an 800-count box that I found on ebay for $10 that was labeled and listed at 1991 Donruss but was actually stuffed with commons from 1975–1979 Topps. This is why I ended up building 1978.

**I TTM’d him the 1974 card which lists him as DH.

The 1980–1985 cards are also welcome as I only ever got a pack’s worth of those cards as a kid. I have more now of a few of those sets* but it’s always nice to flesh those out a bit. There’s something about those sets from before my childhood which still scratch a collecting itch.

*A decent number of 1984 and 1985 Topps.

The 1986–1988s here though are cards from when I was accumulating a lot of things. They go in the duplicate/TTM pile or might become trade packages for someone else. Yes even that 1988 Traded Jay Buhner which looks so wrong as a Yankees card.

More of the same for a lot of these cards. Though it’s worth mentioning that the 1989 Donruss cards are the Traded set and that the Deion Sanders The Rookies is one I missed as being for my oddball album. This also goes with the Melido Perez Pacific card which belongs in my Spanish-language album.

Kenny also included a bunch of Minor League cards which are starting to slip into the stream in this photo. The 1993 Pulaski Yankees design is a super-basic Minor League set whereas Classic was a more nationally-distributed production.

Into the 2000s with a bunch of cards I don’t have much to say about. Andy Brown must’ve been someone who was getting prospected a bit though. There are also three guys who I remember form the Giants here. Kenny Lofton of course needs no introduction as he’s one of those criminally-underrated players who deserved serious Hall of Fame consideration but dropped off the ballot in only a year. Brett Tomko wasn’t bad either but the less said about Sidney Ponson the better.

Late 2000s to early 2010s with more of a grab bag but it is worth commenting on the two stacks of 2011 Topps and 2011 Topps Update. A few fun cards in there and definitely nice to have a representative stack to look through from that year. I enjoy getting Thairo cards as he’s become a bit of a fan favorite in San Francisco. No idea why there are two different sizes of Bowman minis. And I do like 2014 Allen & Ginter.

Also I did not open the 2014 Staten Island Yankees team set but it appears that there are Thairo Estrada, Jordan Montgomery, and Luis Torrens cards inside.

To the last batch which is increasingly a Minor League grab bag. The random Topps Archives cards are fun and I’ll have to be on alert with the Hudson Valley teams set next season in Somerset.

The main point of interest here are the Stars and Stripes USA cards. I’m a bit weirded out that cards of kids who are on the under 15 team exist. Especially since my kids are approaching this age. I did a quick look through and most of the names are completely unknown to me. There was however one card of Charlie Saum who was a freshman at Sanford last year so I guess that’s going into that album too.

And finally Kenny’s calling cards. I have sent him a Torrens custom before so getting his “you’ve been Zippy Zapped” custom back makes perfect sense. And the Power Puff and anime girls are also on brand.

Very cool. That was a fun way to unwind after hosting Thanksgiving. Thanks Kenny!

Brodie PWE

About a week ago I found a PWE from Mark Hoyle in my mailbox. Mark’s been selling a bit on Twitter over the past month or so* and he’d had a card that no one was claiming but which I had been tempted to claim many times. When I finally claimed the card he told more me not to worry about it and sent it to me anyway.

*Presumably to both finance something amazing and to clear up some space. I’d previously gotten the McCovey Stand Up from him.

The card I’d claimed was actually another standup, this time John Brodie from 1968 Topps Football. Brodie is part of the massive mission creep on my Stanford project and, while I’m not trying to get all his cards, it’s a lot of fun to get the weird ones as I build a type collection of sorts of vintage football and basketball cards.

Mark tossed in the 1971 Topps card as well even though I didn’t claim it. I only had one card from that set and it’s nice to add a two-color border version of the design to the all-blue Gary Pettigrew that I had.

This takes me to eleven John Brodie cards. The Stand Up goes really well with the Topps Game card from 1970. Most of the base designs that aren’t present here are in other parts of the binder (Chris Burford, Steve Thurlow, and Gene Washington) but Brodie could cover almost all of them just by himself. He even has 1961 Post and Fleer cards which would be fun to add for variety’s sake too.

Brodie’s an interesting player to learn about too. He’s kind of forgotten despite having played the most games as a 49er quarterback but I suspect he’s overshadowed by the guys on both ends of his career since YA Tittle and Joe Montana are both big name QBs.

Brodie is also one of four Stanford guys to quarterback for the Niners. He and Frankie Albert were both the starters for many many years, Jim Plunkett had the job for a couple of years, and Steve Stenstrom had a few starts in 1999. I didn’t think of him much Sanfordwise either but that’s a combination of Plunkett and Elway becoming the big names as well as how, for me, I didn’t really learn any football history which pre-dated the Super Bowl when I was a kid.

Anyway thanks a lot Mark!

October Returns

Not a lot of returns as I’m still not sending out a lot of requests. But I’ve gotten a few which are over a couple hundred days old and those are always a lot of fun to open up.

The month started off with a 32-day from Steve Buechele. I’d tried sending these to spring training a couple years ago but they got rejected because he wasn’t there so it was nice to have a success on a my second try (this time c/o the Rangers stadium). Always great to add another signed custom to the album too even though he didn’t keep any of the extras I sent. It’s also always fun to add a signed 1993 Upper Deck card. I’d love to try building that set but I’m scared of the UV bricking.

Another great return, this time Larry Walker in 100 days. I saw a lot of people blaming Coors Field for Walker’s numbers while he was on the Hall of Fame ballot but my enduring memory of him is watching him crush balls to all fields during night games at Candlestick. Dude could rake anywhere in the league and is a totally deserving member of Cooperstown.

A 210-day return from Kevin Tapani brought a nice 1991 card back to me. I remember him being a solid pitcher for the Twins that year (and he was) and, since 1991 is right in the sweet spot of  my childhood fandom, that means that I think of his 1991 form first and forget pretty much everything that happened to his career afterwards.

My third spring training return of the year came back after the season ended. Giants pitching coach (and 2009 AL Rookie of the Year) Andrew Bailey has been working through his fan mail during the offseason and returned a pair of customs (he kept none) in 217 days.

This is one of the few private signings I’ve taken part of. While I never saw Jack Clark as a Giant I both remember the stories about him and appreciate his part in Mike Mandel’s 1970s photography. Also, I’ve been grabbing autographs of Willie Mac Award winners* when I come across them. Since Clark is the inaugural winner he’s a good key part of the collection.

*Currently at 21 out of 42 different winners. Plus Willie McCovey. 

Since signings are scheduled the timing is a little less important since I need to get the card there early enough before the signing and then I know to expect it a couple weeks after the scheduled date. That this came back in 43 days is about the expected time.

A 10-day return from  Jerry Kutzler brought me the kind of card they don’t make anymore. Kutzler pitched in 7 games in 1990 and got cards in multiple sets in 1990 and 1991. This 1990 Donruss is particularly nice with a great photo that works really well with the red border. So many players slip through the cracks now though and never get cards it’s really sad.

Don Stanhouse has two great nicknames. “Stan the Man Unusual” would be sufficient for most people but the “Full Pack” moniker that Earl Weaver gave him is even better. I just wish I’d had an Orioles card to send him. He turned this around in a quick 9 days and the big bold signature overpowers the pre-printed facsimile in a nice way.

And that’s about it for this month. The quality more than made up for h lack of returns. Next month should continue to be slow as my send rate has just slowed down and I don’t like to hit people over the holidays. With any luck though some more stragglers will make their way back.

1955 Topps Doubleheaders

I’ve tried to limit my “so look what I got” posts to pre-war pickups but it’s become obvious to me over the past few months that grabbing my first (optimistically speaking) sample of notable 1950s and 1960s oddballs is also something I like to write about.

The 1955 Topps Doubleheaders fit this category to a T. They’re a weirdly-sized relatively unknown set which I’ve never seen in-person. They’re also an art style which is unlike anything else Topps has made* and, in many ways the coolest thing about them is how the backgrounds tile to create a panoramic stadium image.** Also the picture is an expanded version of the black and white images on 1955 Topps.

*There’s some speculation that they were intended to compete with the Red Man Tobacco cards.

**While it would be amazing to put together a panorama that there’s zero way it will ever happen.

I’d obviously love to have a Giant here but the Jack Shepard was an easier card to focus on since he’s the only Stanford guy in the set. Shepard was the captain of the first Stanford Baseball team to make it to the College World Series. The 1953 team went 1–2, losing in its first game to eventual champion Michigan before getting bounced in the second game of the elimination bracket.

Since the card itself is kind of fragile I went ahead and folded it digitally to show what the other side looks like. At one level, that the only shared part of the image is a single foot feels like cheating. At another level it’s a lot of fun to see it turned into a completely different style of pose plus it offers a nice view of Yankee Stadium (I think) in the background.

Unlike some of the other oddballs where I enjoy having a  sample in the binder but don’t particularly feel the desire for more of them, I’d like to get a few Giants samples of this too. Some day.

A Treat

Every once in a while I come across a card that, despite not fitting any of my identifiable collections, I just can’t resist acquiring. I try not to do this too often and as a result, the cards which do manage to make me break my discipline are usually worth writing about.

This is definitely such a card. I’ve kind of been amazed and in awe of the 1967 Kabaya Leaf cards ever since I found out about them. They’re my go-to example of how small a change you can make to a design and end up with something magically different and better.

The design is, of course, 1959 Topps. I’ve always liked this design as being quintessentially Baseball Card™ while also offering multiple directions to take it.* The Kabaya Leaf approach is essentially just a language swap but the graphic nature of the Kanji characters turns the text into something completely different which works perfectly with the solid bright colors.

*for example

I also especially like this card because instead of the more-common headshots it has a fantastic posed action image where you can get a real sense of the ballpark and bleachers in, presumably, Osaka where Nankai played at the time. While the more famous cards in this set are Yomiuri Giants (whose cards also feature wonderful facsimile signatures) getting a Nankai card is a good fit for me given how Nankai is the team that had a relationship with San Francisco in the mid 1960s and sent three players, including Masanori Murakami, to the Giants minor league system.*

*The Hawks are also under consideration for which Japanese team I’d consider supporting. The Giants of course are an obvious choice since I grew up with Nikkei San Francisco fans embracing Yomiuri gear. But both the Lions and Hawks are also in play due to my ancestors being from Kyushu with the Lions originally playing in Fukuoka while the Hawks are playing there now. 

Anyway the card features Taisuke Watanabe whose short English bio is an interesting read. Watanabe also played baseball in the 1964 Olympics in an exhibition against a US team which ended in a 2–2 tie.

As a 1967 release this card captures his 1966 season* in which he won 16 games and partnered with Murakami as one of the aces of the team which lost the Japan series to the Giants. Since Google Translate is incapable of translating this** I asked for some assistance on Twitter and Kenny was very helpful.

*A quick note here that all years are Shōwa Era years so S40 is 1965 and S41 is 1966.

**Among other things it hilariously translated “earned runs” to “blame yourself” as well as “Nankai Hawks” to “South Sea Water Person.”

The first bullet point talks about how he teamed with Murakami and Toshihiro Hayashi (who only pitched 4 games in 1966) to form a promising trio of young pitchers. Watanabe doesn’t panic or fuss and just executes one pitch at a time, relying primarily on a palmball. The second bullet point mentions how he won 16 games the previous season to became an ace and now the team is expecting that quality again in 1967.

I found myself interested in the stats because one of the columns made zero sense to me. Things like ERA and Innings Pitched were obvious. A few others got translated correctly. But the column before IP which contains 500, 696, and 645 took me way too long to figure out that it was winning percentage to three decimals but without a decimal point.*

*Interestingly it appears that there is a decimal point for Batting Average on the cards featuring batters. 

Anyway, the list of column headers is as follows:
Year | Team | G | CG | W | L | W% | IP | H | HR | BB | K | ER | ERA

I really like that the kanji for strikeout is 三振 (literally three swings).

And yeah a very fun very cool addition to the collection that’s currently paged with my Calbees on a very nice binder page.

Common Culture vs Hegemony

Back in summer I found myself in the lucky position of being able to present the SABR Baseball Card Committee’s Burdick Award to Jim Beckett. This wasn’t just in my capacity as co-chair either. As a member of the Beckett generation of card collectors, I was a good choice to not only introduce him but also thank him for creating a common culture which continues to bring a generation of card collectors together.

I haven’t found any better way to explain the role that baseball cards had to my generation than to mention how my Junior High had a baseball card club. In my introduction I got a few gasps when I said I had never purchased a Beckett but in many ways it’s the greatest compliment to how successful and important they were. I never needed to purchase one since they were always around. At the club. At a friend’s house. In a classmate’s backpack. I’m pretty sure I read very one of them for a few years.

That level of shared culture and how I’ve found it from my entire generation of collectors on Twitter is super cool and I absolutely mean it when I say that Beckett was a huge positive force on my childhood and my memories of childhood.

At the same time, Beckett is also a huge part of why I burned out and gave up on the hobby. No, I didn’t mention this part in the presentation but it’s 100% true. As much as I remember Beckett with absolute fondness which evokes a wonderful period of my childhood, I also remember it as the authority about the “correct” way to collect which drove me away from the hobby.

There’s something entirely appropriate about the 1980s setting up a price guide to become the cultural zeitgeist but the increasing focus on “investing” and rookie cards was tiresome then and is tiresome now.* Yes it’s fun to share interests. But when everyone wants the same cards because everyone else wants those cards things get pretty boring pretty fast.

*Beckett’s homage to the 1980s was fun but also missed everything I loved about those cards.

It’s a fine line between a shared common culture and a hegemony.

Do I love collecting cards? Absolutely. But I want to do it my way. Put together collections I’m interested in. Value them for what they are not for what someone else will pay me for them. And show those collections to other collectors. One of my favorite things is seeing the weird and wonderful collections people put together and hearing why those collections are the way they are and what they man to he people who collect them. That’s where the common culture is for me.

It’s not arguing over the definition of  a rookie card. Trying to collect the same hot players as everyone else. Or focusing on how much something is going to be worth next week or next month.

This applies to so much more than cards as I’ve seen it with watching movies or taking photos where things slip across the line from being something that’s fun to do for yourself and share with others to become something where there are rules and a wrong way of doing things.

A lot of this is definitely bad actors on the internet but I also get the feeling that much of my generation grew up being told what was good, what to like, and how those two walk hand-in-hand. Not inherently awful as long as you learn at some point that it’s okay to like things that are bad or unpopular and it’s just as okay to not like things that are good or popular.

Sadly, a lot of us have been unable to grow out of that education and, whether it’s seeking the comfort of liking things that everyone else likes or feeling threatened when someone critiques something that everyone is supposed to like, manage to turn a lot of the stuff that should be fun and sharable into an activity in groupthink.

I love seeing takes on things that force me to reconsider my opinions. I love discovering stuff because someone else is so passionate about it that it inspires me to learn more about it as well. These are all much more exciting ways to enjoy hobbies than receiving a list of rules about what I’m supposed to do and what’s supposed to be good.

Liebig 1935 Lhassa, Ville Sainte du Lamaïsme

Back to a pile of pre-war cards I got earlier this year. This time a Liebig set from 1935 which depicts Lhasa and describes Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. The main reason I was interested in this was because it was issued right in the middle of Tibet’s life as a defacto independent state.

I’ve only been aware of Tibet in its post-annexation and government in exile period and while I suspected the cards would have the usual issues that Western depictions of non-Western cultures have during this time period I also thought it would be fascinating to both see and read about Tibet while it was independent.

The first card depicts the Dalia Lama as the Buddha reincarnated. I’m going to be mostly summarizing/translating the backs* but the last line of text on this one describes the image as the Dalia Lama on his throne surrounded by “bizarre” decor. It’s worth noting that the picture is clearly the 13th Dalai Lama who died just prior to these cards being released. The 14th/current Dalai Lama had not been born yet and wouldn’t take he throne until 1940.

*In French since this is a release from Belgium. One more for my list!

As for the rest of the text, it introduces Lhasa as both political and spiritual capital of Tibet where the Dalai Lama  lives. While the card compares the Dalai Lama to the Pope, it makes an important distinction where, because Lamaism believes in reincarnation, the Dalai Lama is really an incarnation of the Buddha and as such is a living god. When the current Dalai Lama dies a newborn child is determined to be the next incarnation and after identified through various signs and trials the child is educated as the next Dalai Lama.

While the cards don’t mention the death of the Dalai Lama I can’t help but wonder if they were released in part because of that event.

The second card depicts Lhasa, the “Inspired Mountain,” and in particular the Potala Palace.  According to the card, Lhasa means both “divine land” and was also “defended city” due to Europeans being prohibited until the beginning of the 1900s. A the time of printing it was home to 30,000 people who lived  3.7km (~2.25 miles) high in the Himalayas on a plain surrounded by mountains. The temples, palaces, terraces, etc. are where the Dalai Lama lives as both the religious leader and the head of state—though he delegates secular affairs to ministers.

The third card depicts ritual dancing a the “Yokhang” (Jokhang) temple and uses that structure to do a quick history of Buddhism coming to Tibet.  After being founded in India by “Çakya Mouni” (Shakyamuni) in 5BC, Buddhism entered Tibet 1200 years later in the 7th century AD thanks to Tibetan king “Srong-tsan-gampo” (Songtsen Gampo). Gampo who built the Jokhang temple in 652 which, despite its small size  is the most-important spiritual center of Lamaism to which people from all over make pilgrimages, many of which include he dancing depicted on the card front.

It’s very  clear looking around the web that Jokhang looks nothing like this anymore and has been built up into a much larger and more ornate complex. It also seems that even at the time of printing Jokhang looked nothing like this so now I’m kind of wondering what building is atually depicted.

The fourth card card shows a procession of pilgrims in front of the Ganden monastery which the monk Tsongkhapa founded. This is an oportunity to write about Tsongkhapa and how in the 14th century he unified rival sects and returned the religion to one of simplicity and sincerity.

When Buddhism entered Tibet it was in decline in India (and was virtually extinct when these cards were released but it’s increased since then).  The card compares Tsongkhapa to Luther (though Tsongkhapa clearly didn’t get excommunicated) as a way of explaining his importance.

While the Dalai Lama is the incarnation of the Buddha, the Panchen Lama is the incarnation of Tsongkhapa. The Panchen Lama lives at “Tanchi Lumpo” (Tashi Lhunpo) and is as important as the Dalai Lama in religious matters. He leads the search for the new Dalai Lama when the Dalai Lama dies just as the Dalai Lama is in charge of the search for the child who will become the next Panchen Lama.

That the card devotes so much to the Panchen Lama and searching for the next Dalia Lama is one reason why I suspect these cards were in part prompted by the death of the 13th Dalai Lama. Reading it now I can’t help but realize how damaging the abduction of the 11th Panchen Lama is to the future of the religion (even while admitting that the idea of choosing a child and raising him as the next incarnation of a god is not the kind of thing hat would really fly in today’s world).

The fifth card is what I was worried about when I got the set. The first four cards are mostly educational. Number five however has opinions and comes out swinging in its first sentence where it declares that the current form of Lamaism is a half religious, half political corrupted form of Buddhism.

It continues by referring to Lamaism as an outdated religion where individual inner faith has been replaced by routine and formalism. As examples of this it uses prayer flags and prayer wheels and portrays them as superstitions where the flapping of the flag or spinning of the wheel is essentially used as a mechanical substitution for actual human prayer. This is quite different than my understanding of prayer flags as being a more generic blessing of a space—in particular a landscape—and prayer wheels as a way of focusing your thoughts on a repeating mantra.

In a really weird transition, after describing Lamaisn as an outdated religion consumed by formal rites the card proceeds to describe the Lamas as wearing Catholic-like robes and conducting rites like high mass with bells and incense that appear Catholic as well.

With how the previous the card suggests that Luther is a peer of the Pope, maybe the copy was just being written by someone who was extremely critical of the Catholic church (especially in these pre-Vatican II years) and could only make those points by indirectly making another religion also seem weird and outdated.

The sixth and last card is not much better though. It sats out innocuosly enough by talking about how Tibet is the highest country in the world and by being located between India, Mongolia, and China it’s basically dependent on China. Tibet’s 3 million inhabitants are “Mongolian” and the card depicts multiple classes with “picturesque” costumes and “bizarre” headdresses.

The card continues with lots of descriptions about local customs, almost all of which are presented as, at best, weird, and at worse, deviant.

Greeting each other by sticking out their tongues and scratching behind the ear? Weird (also, after googling around, accurate and a way of demonstrating that you’re not an incarnation of Langdarma and his supposedly black tongue).

Cutting up corpses and feeding them to pigs? Definitely presented as deviant. And no it’s not. I recognized it as being similar to sky burial and probably sharing the same motivation of both returning the nutrients of the deceased to the land and destroying the old body so the spirit can be reincarnated in a new one.

And the list goes on. Bandits apologizing to their victims when attacking. Houses covered in sheep/ox horns. Ritual cups made of skulls. A preference for old rancid butter which is also used to make sculptures for the Tibetan New Years celebration.

I don’t expect anything better for this time. Things can be massively informative while also being incredibly othering and judgmental. Not quite as racist as I feared but the last two cards were not great.

Still. Liebig prints a good product with wonderfully vibrant chromolithography in multiple ink colors and fantastic stipple patterns. The backs are getting a bit boring compared to the older cards but it’s nice to see that even in the 1930s Liebig hadn’t converted to offset lithography.

Johnny’s Trading Spot

Johnny’s Trading Spot has been one of those fun bogs to follow for many years now. I was never able to commit to being available to his Big Fun Game series* that he was running every Friday but I enjoyed reading the recaps. He also manages to both collect really a interesting range of items so I frequently see things I’ve not seen elsewhere.

*basically a mini Secret Santa slash White Elephant sort of game of picking a freebie or stealing someone else’s freebie.

Recently he’s been giving 9 cards away to a random reader who comments on the day’s post before midnight. Since my blog reader often doesn’t catch new posts until like 12 hours after the post I often miss the midnight deadline.* Plus I only comment when I have something to say so sometimes I don’t even enter even if I do see the post in time.

*This happens with most contests and giveaways in the card blogosphere. This is a little frustrating but I also am not in this just to be a prize hound.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I not only commented in time but also won the random drawing so earlier this week I found a PWE with 9 cards inside.

A fun mix of cards. Six Giants and another three stars. The middle row are all cards which count as “needs” of which the Fleer Cloth Sticker is the most interesting to me. First off, I totally mis-identified it as being an early 1990s insert since I was completely unaware  of Fleer releasing these from the late 1960s to early 1970s.* But it’s in really good shape and I didn’t catch that it was missing the ® or ™ symbols that such logos would have in the 1990s. Anyway it’s I really like it since it’s one of those things that was completely off my radar and those are always fun to be surprised by.

*The Fleer Sticker Project blog of course is the go-to here with posts about the 1972 and 1974 uncut sheets as well as a comparison of different Giants stickers.

The 2004 Donruss Barry Bonds is the first 2004 base Donruss card I have. I have a few Super Estrellas Spanish-language cards which look very similar but yeah none of the base flagship sets. It’s a nice-looking design even if not particularly memorable. Very cool to add a new set and especially cool to have the Bonds as my first sample.

The 2008 Heritage Lincecum is the last new one for me. It’s always nice to see the 1959 design in use even though Topps kind of messed things up by using photos which use clearly-modern materials. This is another set which I have very few samples of so a Giants card featuring one of the key players from those teams is always welcome.

Of the other cards the Donruss Learning Series Kevin Mitchell does deserve special comment. It’s one of those things which perfectly demonstrates how embedded baseball cards were in everyday life when I was a kid. I’m kind of annoyed that I never saw these when I was in school—how cool would that have been—but it’s great to have them now.

Thanks Johnny!

Momentous Maildays

A few recent momentous maildays to write about. I’ve not been getting many cards recently–combination of modern being blah, my vintage searchlist consisting of only the expensive cards left,* and the market just getting worse. But deals can be found and in many ways being patient and waiting for the extra-special cards is a lot of fun in its own way.

*Willie Mays, high numbered short prints, and Hall of Fame rookies.

Recently I found a couple cards that are extra-special for my collection needs. I don’t write about all of my purchases but pickups like these deserve it because of how they transform my collection.

The first is now the oldest Giants card I own. This is an S74 Silk. I’ve seen these dated anywhere from 1909 to 1911 but the 1911 dating makes the most sense to me especially given how these share the same artwork used on the 1911 T205 design.

I’ve been coveting T205s for a long time but their recent prices have been impossible for me to justify. This was a good deal less and I expect it to hold the oldest card spot in the Giants binder for a long time.

Arthur Devlin was the Giants third baseman for 8 years and even lead the league with 59 stolen bases in the Giants’ World Series winning 1905 season.* He looks to have been a reliably above average hitter but a quick Google doesn’t turn up much more about him.

*He was also a member of the self-proclaimed World Champions of 1904.

One reason this silk was so affordable is because it’s in bad shape. The tobacco advertisements have been trimmed off the top and bottom and as a result the fabric is fraying. There are also a couple threadbare spots on the bottom border as well as the top of his cap. I’m more scared of handling this than I am of handling any of my Zeenuts.

The seller had received it sandwiched between two toploaders held together with scotch tape. He wisely chose not to mess with something that was working and the whole contraption definitely got the silk to me safely. Unfortunately it was neither the most presentable choice nor one that would fit in my binder nicely.

I thought about it for a bit and decided to try a semi-rigid holder with one edge cut off. The silk isn’t that fragile and as long as I can open up the two sides easily I figured I could slide it in. I used an index card to slide it in and then flipped the whole thing over so I could slide the index card out again. Worked like a charm.

The result was a lot easier to scan and fits in the binder perfectly next to my matchbooks in a 4-pocket page.I can’t believe I have a 110+ year old card in the Giants binder now.

Another momentous mailday was this Mel Ott Exhibit Card. Unlike the handful of 1947–1966 Exhibits I have this is from the earlier 1939–1946 Salutation series. Always nice to add a new set to the collection. Even nicer to add my first playing-days Mel Ott card. My retired numbers page had three huge holes in it and this fills one of them.

One of these days I’ll get cards of Christy Mathewson and John McGraw but those are WAY far off.* Crossing Ott off the list fills the last plausible hole and it feels great to finally do it.

*I also don’t have Ott, Mathewson, or McGraw autographs but none of those are ever going to happen.

The last card here isn’t as transformative as the other two but it’s another one that’s a big deal. The 1962 Topps Standups are one of those sets that I never expected to have a card from—especially one where the yellow panel is still attached. This one is in delicate shape where it’s clearly been folded before but doesn’t feel like it’s about to fall apart.

This is a great-looking oddball which adds a lot of color to the 1962 portion of my album. It’s a good year to highlight as a Giants fan and it’s always nice to pick up an early-career McCovey card as well.

Mailday from Bru

About a week ago I received a small bubble mailer from Marc with the usual assortment of Giants, Stanford, and other cards that he thinks I’d be interested in. Marc has a good track record here both in terms of having a lot of cards from products that I’ve never actively acquired and being one of the only guys out there who keeps track of a lot of the players in my Stanford checklist.

I’ll start with the oldest Giants cards. This first batch is mostly cards I could have collected as a kid and as such are definitely the years where I could conceivably have everything covered. As it turns out though the only ones I had are the ones from after I stopped collecting. I only have O Pee Chees that work as Traded  cards so these are both new and welcome. I only have a handful of 1992 Leaf Black Gold cards. And I didn’t have any Giants from 1992 Bowman or 1993 SP.

Also the 1963 Al Dark buyback deserves a special mention. The 50th Anniversary stamp says this is from 2012 and suggests that Topps is up to its usual shenanigans where 2012 is the 50th Anniversary of something that happens in 1963 while 1951–2001 is “50 years of Topps.” Anyway while I have this card already, buybacks are definitely one of those things which are interesting to add to the binder even though the only way I’d seek one out is if it were cheaper than the non-buyback version.

The next group of cards are the more-recent Giants. Victory is definitely a set I don’t see much and the Bill Mueller is the kind of card that sneaks past any checklist checking since it’s not technically a Giants card. It is fun to add cards of guys still in the uniform to the binder though.

The Matt Cain relic is very cool. I’m not the hugest Ginter fan but I appreciate that their relics are thin enough to binder. Also the construction of the framed cards is pretty neat. A couple shiny Logan Webbs are also appreciated. He was a revelation last year and had another good season this year. Hes been a lot of fun to watch him emerge as a legit pitcher.

A good mix of Stanford guys including some early-career Shawn Greens to supplement all the Dodgers that I got from Night Owl. Also a few Jeffrey Hammonds cards I needed in here. While most of my Topps searchlist is complete* there are a lot of non-Topps cards from the 1990s and 2000s which I don’t have and haven’t even looked up.

*Aside from current year cards and grey areas like Green I think I’m just missing the 1962 Doug Camilli Rookie Parade card which I’ll never be able to justify the expense for and the 2013 Tampa Bay Rays Sam Fuld card which is impossible to find as a single and which I haven’t felt like spending $10 on the team set for.

And finally a pair of Scott Ericksons as well as a cool photo of Orel Hershiser and one of Marc’s customs. I should probably put an Erickson checklist together at some point but I’ve only been super passively collecting him recently. The Hershiser is indeed a fun photo; you only get light like this at rare moments during the season. And Marc’s custom is a menko design he’s been working on which I may consider stealing at some point.

Very cool, stuff thanks Marc!