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.

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.

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.

Two more sets complete

So it looks like either everyone’s New Years resolution this year was to help people out with completing sets or that my set builds all hit a point of no return where instead of slowly building things it became a challenge to actually finish them off. Anyway, after finishing 1991 Studio and 1991 Donruss I got two maildays last week which finished off 1990 Upper Deck and 1990 Fleer.

We’ll start with the first mailday from fellow member of the Twitter
Printing Clique Robby T.

Nine cards to kill off my 1990 Upper Deck needs plus three duplicates (Kevin Mitchell, Jeff Ballard, and Jack McDowell) that mean I don’t have to choose between whether I pull cards for my Giants and Stanford binders.

Yeah. Two Bo Jacksons. I wasn’t very luck with my initial batches. Anyway this is a nice batch which includes a decent number of photos that show why I like this set so much. Nice minimal design. Brightly printed photos. A good mix of action and candid head shots.

As is Robby’s usual MO, he sent me a decent stack of Giants cards from various other sets. A lot of these I have and so these are going to make their way into my kids’ collections. Many of them though I do not and so I was able to fill in a lot of holes.

I’ve come around to the conclusion that while the 1990s card designs were getting sidetracked by all kinds of design and printing gimmicks, the photography is kind of wonderful. Photo technology was good enough to get shots we’d never seen before but there was a commitment to picking interesting photos too.

Also the 2009 O Pee Chee set is one which I increasingly like. In an age of glossy foilstamped sameness, these feel like what cards are supposed to feel like. The photos aren’t bad either. I can see myself wanting more of these.

A few assorted Giants. Nothing really to note here except that I really like the Willie Mays set and am sad that I never saw any of these in 1993. These were always fun things to find in Upper Deck but I was either being priced out of the hobby in 1993 or my interests were starting to drift into other areas since I didn’t get many Upper Deck packs at all.

More modern Giants cards plus some weird stuff. The Holiday cards are kind of an amazing trainwreck which is so ridiculous that it ends up working for me. The Anderson is a glitter variation which is fun even though I’m worried the glitter will end up migrating to other cards.

A couple 2020 cards which show how Topps screwed up the horizontal design. The backs of these are all aligned together. The horizontal text though is upside down. Not a good look at all and suggests that there’s no one at Topps who is thinking about how people are going to store and look at these.

And three random cards finishes out Robby’s mailing. The Polio Vaccine card makes me laugh because I made some Penicillin customs that I’ve been mailing to guys who have everything. Also that photo of Salk makes him look like Larry David. The Pablo Sandoval World Baseball Classic card is awesome and the Hideki Okajima is a fun addition to my small Japanese baseball card collection.

A new trader to me, Todd Williamson, finished off my 1990 Fleer set. I just needed one card but now I ned none. Todd also included a few other set needs. Some Upper Decks that Robby beat him to and two 1994s  that take me to only needing 37 left.

Todd asked what else I collected and pulled some weird stuff for me.  The two Mussinas are ones I didn’t have so that’s always great. The two other cards looked super routine until I flipped them over.

The 1982 blank back is one of those quirks that’s fun to have a sample of but which I’d never go out and actually acquire. It doesn’t teach me anything about how the cards were made but it’s still cool.

The 1990 Kirby Puckett meanwhile is in fact a box bottom card. These are one of my favorite things. I used to collect used and beat up boxes from my local super markets. I still keep an eye out for cheap box bottom batches on ebay and am slowly building the various sets of these from the 1980s and 1990s.

Most of Todd’s package though was a ton of 1992 Topps Gold. This was one of my favorite things back in the day. I never got too many when I was a kid—one scratched-off Winners batch and a bunch that came with my factory set. So it’s very cool to have most of a team set and this batch of 25 pretty much doubled my collection.

Ramos and Beck are also two of the guys who replaced checklists. I’ve mentioned this before but I’m down to needing just #366 Tony Perezchica in my question to build the larger 1992 Topps set.

Very cool guys. Four complete sets this year and February isn’t even done yet. Thanks!

Assorted small maildays

A couple small maildays arrived in my mailbox last week. Yes it’s fun getting a big box of cards but the small maildays almost always represent something special which fills a specific hole in a search list.

For example, these two cards from Big Shep which represent both my first non-Giants 2020 cards and keep my Stanford project at its “basically done” state. Always nice to add a rookie card to the binder and I hope Hoerner keeps on developing the way he has been.

A couple comments on the 2020 design. First, I generally like even though it feels more Bowman or National Baseball Card Day than what I expect from Flagship. The photos have been more interesting than previous years and putting the design on the side creates more interesting croppings than the previous three years of transparency effects on the bottom.

It looks best with colored uniforms like in these two cards. The Edman in particular looks especially nice since those blue Cardinals away uniforms are fantastic. With the regular grey and white uniforms this design has a tendency to go monochrome in a bad way It would’ve been interesting to see, instead of the white transparency effect,  a solid team color in that section of the card instead.

And I wish the name and position text was rotated 180° so that they weren’t upside down on the horizontal cards. I was worried that Topps was going to have this happen as soon as I saw the mock-ups last year. This is one of those cases where it feels like no one at Topps collects cards and thinks about how people are going to store them.

Also, for some reason Nico Hoerner’s card back lists his 2019 cumulative Minor League stats but doesn’t include his Major League stats. I don’t get it.

Finally, Hoerner’s card is appallingly printed. There’s some weird purple/magenta toning going on which results in his uniform going all splotchy. I know that’s a tough color to print but this is more than just running one ink too heavy. One thing modern cards usually have over older cards is that they’re manufactured much much better. In this case though something went wrong on the press.

Speaking of things going wrong on press. Lanny came back a me with yet another off-condition Willie Mays card. Instead of surface damage, paper loss, or disintegrating corners, this time we’ve got a trimming fiasco. Not just a mistrim, this is also slightly diamond cut.

Aside from the trimming though this is possibly the best-conditioned 1969 Topps card I have. Color is great. Surface is great. Corners are great. Printing is on-register and sharp. Of all the flaws a card can have, centering is the one I care least about so this is an awesome addition to my Giants binder which takes me to needing only one more 1969 card for the team set.

Who do I still need? The high-number Bobby Bonds rookie. It’s not ridiculous but it’s not cheap either.

Anyway, thanks guys, all three of these are great additions to the collection!

And another set gone, and another set gone…

I’m kind of liking this whole New Years Resolution thing which is resulting in sets getting finished. A couple more maildays last week resulted in me finishing yet another set.

First off, Focustheframe sent me another 1990 Upper Deck card which I needed. Not much to say about this card but every little bit helps.

Then I got a package from another new trader.  Adam (@amhlaw63) has a bunch of junk wax and is doing the dad thing of looking for cards that his son wants. I was able to find a bunch that worked and apparently made his son pretty happy with some shiny Cubs inserts. In return Adam killed my 1991 Donruss set build.

This is a random selection of last cards and I don’t have anything good to say about any of them aside from noting that Quinones is a former Giant who confused me when I first started collecting by having Giants cards in 1987 despite not being on the team.

Adam also included almost two-dozen Upper Deck cards. I needed thirty at the beginning of the year, this takes me down to needing only eight.* Very very cool to be this close to finishing.

*72 Juan Gonzalez, 75 Bo Jackson, 105 Bo Jackson, 146 Brian Downing, 201 Terry Puhl, 254 Paul Molitor, 325 Benito Santiago, 499 Dale Sveum

I really like this set too. Photos are a lot brighter than in 1989 and the design is the kind of photo-centric design I prefer. The Grissom is a nice portrait. Whitaker shows some good action. Boggs action card isn’t as cool as a lot of the other once but it’s never a bad thing to cross another Hall of Famer off the list. And it’s nice to finally get one of the three Bo Jacksons in the set.*

*I ripped a box and couldn’t even turn up one of them.

Nothing daunting in the remaining eight cards. The Juan Gonzalez rookie is likely the biggest one left. But now it looks like there’s a real chance for me to finish this this year.

Thanks guys!

Another set bites the dust

Oh look a new trading partner! Every new year seems to spawn some “so what sets are you working on” threads. The result is always a couple new trading partners who are also working on junk wax sets. In this case @Focustheframe reached out to me and a couple days later we each made significant progress on some set builds.

Yeah I only got three cards but that Gary Wayne represents 25% of my 1991 Donruss searchlist and the Nolan Ryan completes my 1991 Studio build. Yup. It’s always nice to slide that last card in and finish the set. Especially one as nice as Studio 91.

I’ve mentioned it on here before but this set is one of my favorites from when I was a kid. The photography in this set completely transformed my understanding of what a baseball card could be and they still look unlike any other cards.

That they’re printed with three spot colors plus black instead of process inks is also pretty distinct. Things were going off the rails in the 1990s as brands tried anything and everything to out-fancy each other. Three spot colors would count as that except that I think it’s too subtle for most people to notice. It works really well for this design though, especially the warm metallic grey duotone that gives the black and white photos a lot of tonality.

That my last card is Nolan Ryan is fully appropriate for a 1991 set. He was at the top of the hobby that year and is a much more memorable last card than any of the guys who will finish my 1991 Donruss set.* I’m not close enough on 1990 Upper Deck, 1994 Topps, or 2014 Topps to know who will be last but the other builds have been somewhat memorable. My last 1990 Fleer card is Carlton Fisk. My last 1986 Topps card was Eddie Murray. And my last 1978 Topps card will be either Murray or the Trammel/Molitor rookie card.

*Hal Morris, Scott Aldred, and Luis Quinones.

Super cool to finish a set! Thanks for the help.