Alchemy

One of the best things about Card Twitter is its ability to transform stuff that doesn’t interest me into stuff that does. In this case, my stack of 1967 Topps Football cards has been sitting in a box for months. I don’t really feel like selling things but I figured it was only a matter of time before I found someone building the set.

About a month ago Jeff Katz turned out to be that someone. I almost blew the trade by overthinking things* but I eventually realized that if I had a magic wand that could simply transform my football cards into baseball cards I’d be perfectly happy. So that’s what we ended up doing. After like 10 days of watching my package bounce between Pittsburgh and Jersey City it finally arrived yesterday.

*The downside of having a focused searchlist is that I can get hung up on just focusing on the list of what I “need.” 95% of the time this is a good instinct but this was an instance where it got in the way.

Two Hall of Famers in the stack. Stargell is a little beat up (I knew this before Jeff sent it) but the Drysdale is in good shape for my collecting grade that doesn’t care about softish corners, centering, or diamond cuts.*

*I won’t comment on the registration.

1967 is a design I’ve never really cared for since I don’t like facsimile signatures. I’ve come around to appreciating the photography though and the way it interacts with the design. This will be a larger post over on SABR some day but the short version of it here is that layering the text on top of the photo forced a looser crop that Topps usually does.

This is especially the case with the name and position text in the top of the frame. Mid-1960s portraits will be shot on, at smallest, medium format film and be composed in-camera with a lot of room for cropping downstream. That extra quarter inch of space at the top of the frame coupled with the extra half inch on the bottom results in a lot more background information than is typical for any other  Topps set from 1957 to 1969.*

*After 1969 we see 35mm photography, candids, and action shots start to creep into the mix so we really can’t compare those sets to the portraits that dominate the 1960s.

Another card in the batch gives a complete page of 1967 A’s cards. 1967 is the last year the A’s were in Kansas City and I’ve been trying to put a page together for each of the teams that moved. Not a major project just one I’ve enjoyed keeping an eye out for as I accumulate other cards.

Four horizontal cards including a pair of designs in the World Series and  Thumpers cards I’ve not encountered before. I also need to mention that the ERA Leaders card is one of the rare instances of a player showing up in a set which he doesn’t officially appear in due to retirement. In this case, Koufax retired after 1966, has no 1967 card, but does show up in a couple of the Leaders cards.

The rest of the 1967s give me a good start on completing my new colorwheel project. One of the things I’ve found myself missing as a team collector is seeing all the different colors of cards in a set. This is especially something I miss in the more colorful sets but even something as minimally designed as 1967 the colors jump out at me and my Giants pages look like an awful lot of green.

1967 features team names in cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, green, red, purple, orange, and light purple. With this batch I’m over halfway to putting them into a page. Current plan is to colorwheel around the outside of the page with whatever color doesn’t fit in the center. Since most of these colors are printer-simple solid process colors this will be a fun way to see how so many of Topp’s colors come up year after year.

Jeff also included a signed copy of his book (making this a Split Season 1981 from @splitseason1981 mailday). I’ve been meaning to read this for a while and what better time to do so than when I don’t plan on leaving the house for two weeks.

A couple more items include a beat-to-hell-and-back 1967 McCovey poster that’s going to turn into a four-panel puzzle if I breathe on it and a kids book from 1982 about the Giants.

I love the poster and its photography. Pretty sure McCovey never took a bad photo when it came to baseball cards. There’s also some of the “turn the background into cyan-only sky” effect going on with how much of the bating cage is being printed in just cyan ink.

The book is pretty great and the boys have already grabbed it to look through. I especially like the bright colorful cover with the baseball as tennis ball photo treatment.

Back to cards. Two 1971 Topps cards take my 1971 team set needs down to missing only one for completion. Unfortunately it’s the high-numbered Willie Mays card. I’ll get it eventually. I just need to be patient until one drops  into my price range.

Destined for the same binder as the 1967 Jim Nash card, here were five 1972 Rangers to take me to eight Rangers for my page of first-year Rangers cards. This is an ugly team set with most of the cards featuring the same up-the-nose photo coupled with blood-red airbrushed caps. Ted Kubiak is a nice change of pace as he gets the same hatless treatment that he got on his 1968 A’s card.

I should probably consider adding a page of 1973 Rangers (as well as 2nd year cards for the other new teams) just to show the new uniforms.

And finally, two Fleer Famous Feats and a panel of baseball stamps from back when it only cost 39¢ to mail a letter. I have yet to get into the Laughlin cards that Fleer released in the 1970s. I haven’t avoided them, I just haven’t gotten into them. I do like adding them to the binder though and they’ll keep Cy Young company.

Thanks Jeff. The hobby, and the community around it, is going to help me keep my sanity over these coming weeks. Stay safe and good luck completing your 1967 football build.

Season Stolen

So today was going to be a big day. The first day of spring break and we were going to go to our first ballgame of the season. This would be adding another park to my life list plus both boys can count the number of Major League games they’ve been to on only one hand. I’d even procured a couple Greg Luzinski cards just in case.*

*Last year he was always signing at his restaurant out in left field.

No need to go into what happened but instead of spending last month doing the research and acquiring cards for the upcoming Trenton and Somerset seasons, I’ve been homeschooling the boys and have only gone out one time in the last three weeks to stock up on food. I can’t complain. We’ve been healthy. We have a house and a yard. We can afford to buy a month’s worth of food at one go. We’ve got a ton of movies on DVD/Blu in addition to Disney+ and Amazon. At the same time though I can’t help but feel sad for the time and experiences we’re going to miss and never be able to get back.

Last year was magical. One of those perfect moments of parenthood when I got to enjoy my hobbies and interests with my kids. I loved watching them get hooked into baseball and autograph collecting. I love even more that it was our thing that we shared and that they’d come back from a game excited about the game and eager to share their experiences and show who they got to their mother.

After our last game last year it’s no understatement to say that I was excited for this coming year. We all were. Now that that’s no longer happening, I’ve had to swallow my disappointment and help my kids focus on the good things going on now.

Yes good things despite how scary life in New Jersey feels.

As much as we (all of us) can’t tear ourselves away from the ever-increasing numbers and the fear that we’ll lose someone we know and love, there’s something comforting and amazing in the fact that we’re living through one of the rare moments in history when the vast majority of the world is in complete agreement about what humanity’s priority should be.

Finding a vaccine and developing treatments is the single scientific focus right now. Like 90% of the people out there are doing what they can to protect themselves and everyone else. Most of us are outraged and appalled by the abhorrent assholes who are trying to profit off of massive-scale death and suffering.

These are strange and scary times but also exciting ones because of the potential to see what we can achieve in the coming months.

Am I overly optimistic here? A little. I know that once the death numbers start dropping it’s going to be impossible for us to keep our discipline long enough to really kill the number of new cases. Hopefully by then we’ll have new treatments and ramped up capacity (both testing and hospital beds) to properly react to the inevitable second spike of infection. And hopefully that spike occurs much closer to the vaccine’s release so we don’t have to endure a third.

A month ago feels like years ago. I can only imagine how a month from today might feel like years into the future. Until then we’ll be hunkering down as a family. Reading books. Watching movies. Playing catch. Knocking a soccer ball around. Facetiming relatives. And yes looking at baseball cards.

A few maildays

Catching up on a few maildays that came in over the past couple weeks. School being at home has meant we all have had to adjust and has left me with less time for other things. But it’s been too long now so it’s time to acknowledge a number of things that came in the mail.

We’ll start off with these two Carl Aldana Seals customs of the lesser-known DiMaggio brothers from Jason. These cards are in the 1950s Mother’s Cookies style but feature photos from the 1930s. Mixing the two eras works pretty well but for me draws the photos into looking more 1950s because of the colorization.

Two neat little objects. I’m apparently a sucker for rounded corners. And I enjoy seeing Vince in his Hollywood Stars uniform.

It’s also worth showing the backs of these cards. No stats but not blank either. The image used could be a bit higher-resolution but I appreciate making it a vintage dairy advertisement. Is a nice riff on something that should fit right in with cookies.

I also got a nice postcard from Mark Armour just wishing us safety and health in these strange times. Why bother with a PWE when you can just send a postcard by itself? Anyway this is making me think that I should start mailing small things out to people just as a way to say “take care.” It’s indeed a strange world out there but there’s also something wonderful about seeing 90% of us in agreement about what’s most important and trying to support each other in surviving.

Does this go in a Giants binder? Maybe it does. Maybe it does. It is after all the closest I ever expect to get to a T206 Christy Mathewson.

Another mailing that came in was a handful of cards from Shane Katz which included my first 1981 Topps Scratch Offs. This is one of those sets that never appealed to me with its small photos and perforated edges.

Seeing them in panels helps a lot as the different colors make things more interesting. I can’t imagine filling 9-pocket (or even 10-pocket) sheets with these but picturing a full 4-pocket page appeals to me

Meanwhile my printing side appreciates that each photo is framed in a different process color. One of these days I’ll write the Topps and process colors post I keep saying I’ll write and the colors of 1981 Topps will definitely be a big part of that.

The backs of these are are great because they explain how the game is supposed to work. It’s actually something I can see my kids enjoying although I can already tell that the game has little replay value since you’ll quickly learn where to scratch for maximum run scoring.

The advertisement panels are also a ton of fun. I don’t know anyone who sent in for these things but that cap just screams its age/era and I do know a lot of guys who stored their cards in baseball card lockers like that.

Shane also included a couple other cards including a 2020 Heritage Willie Mays insert which takes my accumulated total for this set to six. Am I actively chasing and trying to build it? No. Is it something that I enjoy slowly adding to? Absolutely.

Thanks guys and take care in this season unlike any other.

1934 Player’s Cigarettes Hints On Association Football

Digging into my backlog of pre-war sets to write about. Might as well start off with some soccer to fill the some of the hole that’s resulted from cancelling sports worldwide.

These are from the 1934 Player’s Cigarettes Hints on Association Football set. They have very similar artwork to my 1928 cards but depict generic footballers instead of specific people. As a result this set is super cheap since it’s not about the players but is instead a more thematic checklist.

Since thematic checklists are something that I love about pre-war cards* I was not deterred by the absence of any real players. Plus as a soccer fan I love just seeing the artwork and reading the backs as a way of learning how the game looked and how it was played 85 years ago.

*The Romance of the Heavens set is a perfect example of this kind of thing.

Many of the cards feature routine actions that soccer players are expected to be able to make. Kicking, tackling, saving. etc. In many cases, such as not kicking with your toes, the advice is as valid today as it was back then. In other cases such as not knowing how a ball swerves, it’s clear how far the modern game has come.

Most of the cards are vertical but there are a handful of horizontal ones. I especially like the horizontal artwork since it offers both a wonderful depth of focus in the composition and the player’s-eye perspective of the field is fantastic.

The “‘W’ Formation” card is particularly awesome because it captures the specific moment in soccer strategy where the W-M formation was taking over England.

Flipping those cards over shows that three of them describe still-relevant tactics. The card describing the outside forward cutting in feels like it could still be describing the modern inverted winger. As someone who came of age with inverted wingers being described as a modern development to the game, I love seeing the idea described in the 1930s as just regular tactics.

The “‘W’ Formation” card meanwhile continues to be super-interesting since it describes the development of the “M” component of the formation in the centre half dropping back into the middle of a three-man defensive line. I grew up with 4-4-2 as the default formation everywhere and while I’ve learned about the evolution of tactics and formations, I also haven’t ever seen a primary source like this which describes an earlier standard.

Some more cards I just love. The goalkeeper’s cap is awesome. “When not to shoot” makes me laugh since it’s probably the most-relevant card for any youth coach. The kickoff card though is a great follow-up to the W formation one since it shows the five-man forward line before the two inner forwards drop back behind the center forwards and the wingers.

Also, with the modern game* allowing you to pass the ball backwards immediately from the kickoff, seeing three men in the circle instead of only one (or the two I grew up with) is also a huge change in how the game actually looks.

*As of 2016!

On the backs of these cards, I love that letting the ball run is presented as a specifically-Scottish strategy but it’s the goal kick description that really jumps out a me. Most of the cards describe what usually happens in a game and, by extension, what players should learn to do. The goal kick card though suggests strategy despite it not occurring regularly in games.

Rather than kicking it long the card suggests that keeping possession and passing it shorter to a teammate might be a better course of action than the standard procedure. As a Barcelona fan who believes that teams should keep possession and try and play out the back, this makes me very happy .

Some more tactics cards which show that the game is still very much the same as it was then. All of these are about passing or seeing the potential of space where a play might develop. There’s something especially wonderful about the empty green field that these cards suggest which reminds me of the abstraction in Richard Swarbrick’s Gareth Bale animation a decade ago.

There’s a lot more field out beyond the edges. These cards suggest the promise of that empty space and the potential to just run into it. It’s that space and the collective gasp by the crowd when a perfect ball is played into it which is what captures a soccer fan’s imagination.

I’m intrigued that the passback card doesn’t mention the goalie picking up the ball. In many ways this description, while a bit more conservative than the modern game, suggests that the pass backs were originally much closer to the way we use them now than they were in those dire years when you could just kill time passing back and forth to the goalie.

I also need to point out how the triangular movement card mentions the change to the offsides law. In 1925 the law was changed to reduce the number of defenders between an attacker and the goal line from three to two. I’m not sure why this would make certain plays harder unless perhaps this card represents a tactic that’s re-developing after defenses had adjusted to playing a newer offside trap.

The rest of the cards are similarly cool with great artwork and colors. It’s a great set and a lot of fun page through and read.

March TTMs

What a month. All things considered this was pretty successful. Spring training returns continued to come in and a few other requests I sent out also came back. With the whole Covid-19 debacle I stopped sending requests early in the month and things sort of dried up in the last two weeks. I have no idea what to expect for returns moving forward but I am looking forward to being able to start things up again some day.

Also it’s worth noting that the boys wrote a few letters and began getting returns this month as well. They’ve been pretty quiet since last summer but this is a fun activity to share with them plus it gets them writing.

They have a few more out there but who knows what to expect now. Anyway to my returns for the month.

I tried sending to Dave Righetti early last year. Was hopeful I’d get a return when I saw everyone else get returns around June. No dice. I figured that I’d try again this spring and send to Scottsdale instead  of Pac Bell. 27 days later a nice 1993 Topps Gold card came back signed.

Rags was one of those guys I liked watching before he became a Giant. Some pitchers you can just watch how they move the ball around the zone and really appreciate the art of pitching. Once he came to San Francisco I was happy to have an excuse to cheer for him. That he went on to become the pitching coach during the Even Years run of championships makes him even cooler.

Same Selman is yet another Giant who made his Major League Debut last year. These came back in 24 days. He didn’t keep one but I hope he liked them.

Two years into making customs and I’ve come to realize that I love sending out “congrats on your MLB debut, I made some customs for you” letters. This season I’m going to have to try and make debut or notable firsts (hits, home runs, wins, etc.) cards for all the guys making their official debuts.

Tommy Edman is a Stanford guy who was not on my radar for making it to the majors last year. But he did, had a great first season, and was literally the last guy to make it into the 2019 Update set.* I didn’t mention it when Big Shep sent me the Edman cards last year but Shep sent me an extra Edman for TTM reasons.

*Seriously. Edman debuted on June 8 and Yordan Alvarez debuted on June 9. Edman is included in 2019 Update. Alvarez had to wait until 2020 to get his first Major League card. Not sure whether the MLBPA union insisted on that cutoff or if Topps proposed it. Either way it left Update feeling like a badly-thought-out set which isn’t able to include either the top Rookies or the trades that occurred before the deadline.

Edman sent this back to me in only 19 days. Very cool and I’ve already added it to the page of Stanford Autographs. Up to 92 different athletes on there now.

Felipe Alou is probably my favorite return of the spring. I wish I’d had some vintage doubles of him (ideally 1960 0r 1962) but I also really liked him as the Giants manager and the way he used his platform there to speak about his experiences in the game and how society has changed in the decades since he started playing.

His baseball stories were great but the one that sticks with me the most is appropriate for his status as the first Dominican player. His first time traveling into the South and being informed that certain people had decided that he was black.

Needless to say I’m very happy with this card. He was one of the first letters I sent out and 31 days later I was very happy to add him to the binder.

I figured I shouldn’t just be sending to Spring Training so I sent a couple other requests out in February. Goose Gossage is one such request. His 1986 Topps card came back in 17 days. I just love the attitude in this photo. I would’ve sent him a 1989 Mothers Cookies card but I traded my duplicate a long time ago.

Chuck Essegian is another re-send for me. Once I started making Stanford customs I figured I should go back over the guys I got the first time around. The hard part is often finding photos. With Essegian I was stuck between showing him on the A’s since he never had an A’s card or putting him on the Dodgers since his pinch-hitting heroics make him a Dodger legend of sorts. I went with the Dodgers and after a couple of tries this came back in 8 days.

Spring training returns continued to trickle in after the first burst. Jandal Gustave signed in 34 days—still not a long wait. He was a bit of a surprise last season who came with no expectations and turned out to be quietly effective out of the bullpen.

After 10 days, Doug Gwosdz became the first signer to take advantage of the Mother’s Cookies “autograph” line on the backs of the cards. I’ve always wondered about that line as it felt both optimistic and a bit weird to have on the backs of the cards. It doesn’t feel like something that Mother’s Cookies would have invented but it’s not something that’s exactly common either.

I’ve gone ahead and scanned the front of the card as well. I would’ve preferred the signature be there but I can’t complain. This is actually a zero-year card since Gwosdz never appeared in the majors with the Giants. I don’t collect this theme but they’re certainly fun things to note and don’t really pop up that often (I didn’t see any Giants on the list I linked to). I appreciate that he signed the index card with his Giants number instead of the #10 he wore with the Padres.

Catcher Steve Nicosia came back in 9 days. He was a World Series winning catcher with the Pirates in 1979 and later spent two seasons with the Giants as a backup/platoon guy.

Roberto Hernandez’s 10-day return continues the theme of short-term Giants. He was only on the team for half of the 1997 season but since that pennant race is what brought me back to being a fan I remember him very fondly. His two-inning save of the game before the Brian Johnson game will be my lasting memory. He wasn’t our main closer but at that time it was quite a weapon to have a guy who could hit 100mph on the gun.

Yet another short-term Giant, Gene Richards signed in 11 days. Richards was primarily a Padre whose 56 stolen bases was the Rookie record from 1977 to 1980. This 1985 card is his career capper as he retired after his 1984 season—his only one with the Giants.

After the Richards return my mail pretty much dried up as the country went into the Covid-19 lockdown. My two-week dry spell was broken by a nice 44-day return from Alex Dickerson. The autos got kind of beat up and scratched in the return envelope but that was totally fine because Dick included a nice note as well.

This encapsulates everything I enjoy about sending out these requests. I mentioned in my letter how much fun it was to see the way he energized the team last season and giving the customs to players is a way to demonstrate my appreciation as a fan. In these days where everyone’s just waiting out the impending disaster and trying to stay safe there’s also something wonderful in just the simple “take care” sort of response everyone is giving each other.

I know the month isn’t over quite yet (will it ever end?) but this feels like an appropriate last return for the post. This blog doesn’t have many readers but I agree 100% with Alex. I hope all is well and that you’re all staying safe. Take care out there.

Queens Museum

After checking out Ralph’s exhibition at Queens College I wandered through the rain up to Flushing Meadows/Corona Park. Not the best day for it but I did get pretty much the whole park to myself as a result. Nice to wander around and take photos* even though I did the tourist thing and only took photos of the obvious stuff.

*Film will be processed and scanned eventually.

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Sort of figures that the only photo I really like so far is from my phone. I really should get a proper panoramic camera some day but for now this will have to do. The nice thing with a rainy day is that all the blue-painted, drained reflecting pools photograph like water in black and white.

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Anyway the main reason I was in the park was to visit the Queens Museum. I’ve known about the panorama for a long time—to the point where I don’t know where I even learned about it—and have wanted to see it for years but recently reading Wonderstruck sort of encouraged me to find an excuse to get out there.

It’s as cool as I was expecting and reminded me of the Bay Model except without any actual water. Even with maps it’s hard to truly understand the scale of an area like New York City or the San Francisco Bay Area. Something about a model version really puts things into a different perspective. You walk in nice and close to Manhattan so you can see the building details and then gradually spiral up and around Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens. It’s not quite Peter Pan’s flight but there are elements of the same magic at play.

One of the interesting things for me to discover about he Panorama is that it’s a living model and has been updated every decade or so with new construction. Instead of getting a view of what New York was like in 1964, the buildings are current as of 2009. I really hope that the changes to the panorama have been documented since that’s an exhibit I’d love to see.

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The Panorama is not the only thing from the 1964 World’s Fair on display. There’s also a gallery of ephemera and artifacts from the fair. Smashed pennies and other souvenirs. Models of various pavilions and displays. It’s a fun time capsule of mid-century futurism which is simultaneously nostalgic and still aspirational.

For many of the same reasons why I love Disneyland, I find myself liking a lot of the 1964 World’s Fair. The dated innocence of the utopian future that it imagines is still comforting. Monoculture hasn’t taken over the United States, let alone the world. I know we still have World’s Fairs of sorts but my entire life has been spent in a world that had gotten too small for those fairs.

On the Disney topic, even though I’ve never ridden the Carousel of Progress, I know what it is and was happy to see a large model of it. I also had to pick the angle of my photo of the fair model to show the GE pavilion where the Carousel was located as well as the Pepsi pavilion which housed It’s a Small World. I found it curious that neither of those connections were called out anywhere in the display but you can clearly see in the model how the Pepsi pavilion is shaped exactly like the ride.

The Queens museum also has something that could be considered the 1939 World’s Fair version of the Panorama. In this case it’s a model of the New York City water supply. This model ended up being too large to be displayed in 1939 but is absolutely wonderful.

Like the Panorama, there’s something transformative about seeing a model of where all the water comes from which puts the scale of the operation into perspective. Manhattan is so small and water comes from reservoirs which 100 miles away. The green lights which track the paths of the aqueducts and the way those lights don’t just go downhill is the kind of thing that this Californian appreciates.

I get the sense on the East Coast that water frequently gets taken for granted here. Even though droughts aren’t really a thing, knowing where your water comes from and how far away that is is always an important thing to be aware of.

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The last exhibit on display was a room of Tiffany lamps with a special emphasis on iridescence and how pieces were constructed. The construction details mirror a lot of the displays I’ve seen at The Met but the physics behind about how the effects work were new to me* and the videos showing the glass construction were a lot of fun to watch.

*Thin films reflect light from both the front and back surfaces and results in interference effects that break up the spectrum.

There were a lot of nice lamps as well but it was all the leftover materials that were wonderful to see and made me appreciate the products even more.

All in all a fun visit to the museum. I’m glad I went and kind of want to take the kids there once they’ve gathered a greater understanding of New York.

Home Base

It feels like years ago but it hasn’t even been two weeks since I made the trek out to Queens to check out a small exhibition that Ralph Carhart had put together at Queens College CUNY. I went partially to support another SABR member in my backyard but I would’ve wanted to see this show anyway since the hstory of baseball in New York is something I should know about.* Plus I hadn’t been out to Queens and have wanted to check out Corona Park** and the Queens Museum for a long time.

*Much to my chagrin I totally blew it and missed a show late last year about New Jersey baseball that was almost literally in my back yard.

**Irony not intended.

Initially this was looking like a possible meetup for a bunch of us on Card Twitter but between work, family, and virus concerns, only Mark Hoyle made it down from Boston. This also saved him a stamp since he was able to hand-deliver me a nice Gypsy Oak print of Marvin Miller before we even got to meet Ralph and start our private tour of the exhibit.

Having just sent Mark a set of my printed out Viewmaster scans I was unable to reciprocate. Still, it’s always great to put a face to a contact. I haven’t met many of my twitter contacts but on the rare times I do I’ve really enjoyed it even though there’s always a lot of apprehension due to meeting someone who you already kind of know even though you only know that small portion of their interests which you overlap with.

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Ralph met us at the Library and opened up the exhibit for our tour. I’m not usually a big talker when I’m at a museum but we spent more time talking about the stuff on display than reading the descriptions that Ralph had worked so hard on (sorry!).

The show is laid out roughky chronoligically which meant we started off with vintage base ball. Which was great. Of course we’d all seen games and had paid enough attention to know some of the rule evolutions. Ralph though pointed out the differences between the New York game and the Boston game and suggested how a similar show in Boston would be very interesting.

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My favorite part of the show was Jesse Loving’s Ars Longa cards which he had used to create and illustrate a timeline of New York (and its environs) baseball up to around 1920. The cards are all customs but the choice of design and the treatment of the photos* really works to make the whoel timeline come to life.

*I’m not usually a fan of colorizing black and white photos but it really works here since so many of the old cards that inspired these customs are paintings based on photo originals. 

It’s not just an image of a player that jumps out but the style of the card and way things are depicted that adds so much more richness to just a simple timeline concept. I love a lot of these but my favorite is probably the Arnold Rothstein Pea·Nut custom since Zee·Nuts are one of my favorite things.

As we moved more into the 20th Century, the artifacts became a bit more standard. This isn’t a bad thing as it reflects the game becoming the game we all know and love. One of the best things about baseball is how it’s truly recognizable throughout the decades. Yes there are some equipment changes and things but at a base level the game is unchanged.

There was also a decent amount of art, specifically paintings, on display. They were nice, the Graig Kreindler in particular kind of glows and I certainly understand why people love his work. The paintings leave me a bit unmoved as art* but they certainly work well in this exhibit since they illustrate the history of the game and frequently lavish attention on the New York ballparks in the backgrounds.

*This is probably not-that-latent art snobbery on my part but while I can appreciate the craft of the work there’s something about the palpable nostalgia that the paintings evoke coupled with the fact that large realistic oil paintings haven’t been my art museum jam for decades that leaves me with a “that’s nice” reaction. I do however love the idea of these paintings as postcards or trading cards so it’s possible that there’s something to the scale of the pieces that I’m also responding to.

The show finished up with a nice wall of trading cards depicting every New York player who was born in another country.  Ralph detailed a lot of this collection already but it’s just a fun wall to browse over and see how different countries appear and how much more diverse the game has gotten in the past couple decades.

I was pleased to see that Adonis Rosa made the cut since he had only played one game for the Yankees last season. I also remarked that Ralph was lucky that Johnnie Williams played for the Tigers since he was born in the Kingdom of Hawaii and probably wouldn’t have been an obvious non-USA player. I love the research that went into putting the checklist together for the wall.

A shame that the last week of this show got stomped by a viral outbreak since it was well worth the visit. I’m hoping Ralph gets a chance to mount it again since I think my ids would really dig it too.

February TTMs

February was supposed to be a month of stragglers where only a few items trickled in and I concentrated on sending things to Spring Training. Since I didn’t send out a bunch in December and January I didn’t expect a lot of returns. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many Spring Training returns I’ve already gotten though.

We’ll start off with a non-Spring Training return though. This is a fun one. Paul Molitor came back in 22 days. Signature looks great on that 1985 Fleer too. I’m very happy. It’s always nice to add a Hall of Famer to the collection and Molitor is a special one. His 44-game hitting streak in 1987 was part of my first season of fandom and the excitement over that is something I still remember staying on top of in the newspaper ever morning.

Former Giant, now World Series winning manager, Dave Martinez was the first Spring Training request to return. He signed his 1993 Upper Deck card in 11 days. I love this set and based my initial Giants customs on it, however I’ve never gotten one signed before. This is mainly due to a lack of inventory since it ticks off all the things I like best for getting cards autographed.

Tyler Rogers was my first return of my 2019 customs. These also came back in 11 days. Rogers was a fun addition to the team last year because a submariner is always enjoyable to watch. I hope he sticks around. Also yes these are signed in two different inks. I’m curious which he used first and why he changed since they both look fine to me.

I haven’t blogged about these customs like I did with my 2018 set mainly because there’s not much new to add. I scaled back my set and did only a dozen highlights. And I changed the size of the roster cards to be business card sized so they can fit in 10-pocket sheets. The main reason I did that was so that I could have Bochy plus the opening day lineup on the first sheet but I also like the aspect ratio too.

Conner Menez returned one custom to me in 13 days. Yes, Conner not Conor. I screwed up and misspelled his name on his card. I apologized in my letter to him and I’m thankful he was gracious enough to still sign. Menez and Rogers represent exactly why I enjoy sending customs out. These are guys who debuted in 2019 and don’t yet have their first real cards so being able to send something I made to commemorate their Major League debuts makes me feel like I’m offering them something instead of just asking.

Shaun Anderson’s 15-day return confirmed my approach. I sent him a bunch of customs as well as his 2019 Topps Rookie Card with the request to sign the Topps card and one of his favorite customs. Instead he returned a signed copy of each custom and kept a copy of each plus the Topps card.

Which I’m perfectly happy with. A return like this suggests to me that he enjoyed the customs and might not be signing all of his requests. As a bigger-name rookie in the organization this wouldn’t surprise me at all.

And yes. I sent him three customs. In addition to the general roster card I produced a highlights card for his debut since he went 2 for 2 from the plate as well as pitching a decent 5 innings. I always enjoy getting a pitcher batting card signed.

Anderson also took part in the dress like Pablo Sandoval day. Those photos were so ridiculous that I had to turn them into cards. There was only one possible card design to use for this which means of course I had to create a Giants-specific spin on 1992 Bowman. I really like how these came out and I hope the players get a kick out of their cards.

Erik Kratz was only a Giant for a brief while last season but his walk-off fielder’s choice ended a memorable 18-inning game. Not the greatest highlight but weird baseball is weird baseball. Kratz is now with the Yankees and his customs came back in 16 days. These got mangled a bit but that’s the risk of sending things through the mail.

Where everyone celebrates what their first 2020 card is when they opened their first pack, I get to celebrate Jaylin Davis being my first 2020 to be autographed. I mailed his card the same day I got it which means this request might have been his first time seeing it in person. In any case I hope he enjoyed seeing his first real baseball card. He got it back to me in only 12 days too.

Davis tore things up in Sacramento last year but struggled a bit after being called up in September. His first career Home Run was a walkoff though and made for a great highlight card. I’m very happy to have that signed.

Nick Vincent’s custom came back in 14 days. His season got messed up by injury the Giants eventually designated him for assignment. I’m kind of happy that he’s getting a chance to win a position on the team this year. Never sits right when a guy gets sidelined by injury and then doesn’t even get the chance to come back.

Wandy Peralta also came back in 14 days. He signed both customs. Each time I get another mailing of signed customs I’m increasingly happy that I’ve been doing these projects. Yes it’s fun to chase the stars and big names. But there’s something about caring about September depth guys like Peralta which I find very satisfying.

Sam Coonrod signed his 2019 Rookie Combo card as well as two customs in 22 days. With Rogers, Menez, Anderson, and Davis, Coonrod makes the fifth return of the month from a guy who debuted in the Majors last season. I’m not expecting much from the team this year but it should be fun to see all these young players sort things out. Also it’s great to add another “Dress Like Panda” custom to the autograph binder.