A few PWEs

Time to catch up on a couple more plain white envelopes which arrived over the last few weeks.

The first envelope was from Scott Berger who likes to add Stanford football players to my collection. Richard Sherman is an especially good one and comes from the weird (to me) era when Stanford was a football school.

I like that Panini does football sets which feature current players in their college uniforms. I wish Topps did the same sort of thing for baseball players but I suspect that there are too many high school and international players that doing a similar set is way more complicated.

The second envelope came from Jeff Katz. Jeff was trying to move some extra Tim Raines autographs and I inquired about what he would be interested in. That all he wanted was a bunch of my customs made this an easy trade for both of us.

I’d ideally like a Raines autograph on an Expos card since the first All Star game I ever watched was in 1987, but I’m also not too picky. Besides, this is my first signed 1992 Pinnacle card. I really liked these as a kid but didn’t trust getting them signed with all that gloss. It’s still a design I like now, clean and crisp while still being very of its time.

Very cool guys. Thanks!

Nachos Grande’s Ginter Bracket

A couple weeks ago I received a notification that Chris (Nachos Grande) was sending me a package. I was very confused. He’s been running a lot of cheap fun breaks but I’ve not signed up for any in a long time.* And I couldn’t think of why else he would be sending me cards.

*This is a reflection of my collection becoming large enough that it no longer makes sense for me to buy into a break for the off chance I get one card I don’t have.

When the package arrived it all made sense. Way back in July he ran an Allen & Ginter mini set bracket on his blog. I took part because the insert minis are really the only thing I actually like about Ginter. I was a bit disappointed that the winner was a baseball set but it was a fun way to learn about all the different mini sets Topps has created. I very much like the social studies and science based sets and how they remind me of how interesting card collecting used to be.

Chris had multiple contests set up to reward people who were voting and participating and I ended up on a list of prize winners. Since I wasn’t participating for the prizes (and given everything else that’s gone on in the world since July) I promptly forgot about expecting a mailing. It took him a while but my prizes arrived a week and a half ago.

The list of offerings was all kinds of stuff. Sets, relic cards, autographs, etc. When I submitted my list of what I preferred I think I prioritized the autographs. Despite being somewhat lower on the pick list  it looks like other people wanted other items since I ended up with two of he autographed cards.

The Trevor May framed mini is pretty cool. I’ve never handled a Ginter framed mini card before. It’s an interesting object with the card floating loose in the middle of a cardboard frame and two plastic sheets on each side to create a nice little display. Much to my surprise the resulting object isn’t that thick and in fact fits just fine in a 9-pocket page.

I’ve been a bit curious about these since I wasn’t sure how they were manufactured nor how they handled. They’re definitely neat little cards and I very much like them over relics. I’m less impressed at the plastic feeling since it seems at odds with Ginter’s overall brand but there’s no other way to do this kind of thing.

Griffin Jax meanwhile is still in the Minors. He bounced between AA and AAA in 2019 and scored a non-roster invite to Spring Training last season. No call-up to the Majors but he remains on the bubble.

He’s more interesting though for what he’s going through to play baseball. As an Air Force Academy graduate, he’s been jerked around a bit by the military in terms of being allowed to pursue a baseball career instead of being active duty. It’s very interesting to note that he can’t be paid by the Twins and is still fulfilling his reservist duties while playing baseball.

Chris also tossed in a dozen or so Giants cards to “make up” for being so late with the package. Definitely not something he had to do especially since this was a free package anyway but I’m certainly not complaining.

A lot of these I have already so they’ll go on the duplicate pile that I’m using to create piles for my kids. My youngest for example will love the Metal Mark Gardner and the more 2013 Heritage World Series cards I can give them the happier they’ll be.

There are however a handful of new ones that I’m very happy to add to the album. The 1998 Upper Deck Darryl Hamilton doubles the number of Giants cards I have form that set. As does the Pacific Bill Mueller. The Jesse Foppert is new to me as well and reminds me of a name I’ve not even thought of in decades. He was such a prospect back in the day. The Upper Deck Goudey Noah Lowry is an interesting retro design. I don’t know if I hate it or love it but I like that it didn’t try to make the photo a fake painting. And the Pinnacle Buster Posey is a fun addition from Panini’s first year back in the hobby.

Very cool stuff Chris and thanks for both the  cards and running the bracket/contest.

Thanks USPS

So I moved a year and a half ago. Which means that among other things I had to set up mail forwarding and notified people of my address change. Still I expected some people to send things to my old address. I did not however expect USPS to lose packages for months though.

But that’s exactly what happened. Last April, Matt Prigge sent me a package and it never got forwarded to my current address. I drove over to my old address mid-summer, swung through the garage, and saw that my old mailbox had been taped shut with forwarding information stickered to it. So I figured it would come eventually.

No dice.

Then last month a couple other people sent us packages addressed to the old address. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to swing by again. Mail forwarding had expired but according to our old neighbors no one had moved into the apartment yet. So I drive by and found a ton of mail in the mailbox including the packagaes that had been misaddressed last month, a plain white envelope that I wasn’t expecting to find there, and buried at the bottom of the mailbox, Matt’s package from April.

Yeah. Instead of forwarding it apparently USPS saved it for when forwarding expires and then redelivered it to my old address. Oh well. Better late than never. Let’s take a look.

Matt’s package was mostly modern cards but there were these two 1972s in the pile. There are a lot of Giants whose cards look exactly like Carrithers’s (a card I’ve gotten signed) but the Jerry Johnson is a fun stadium photo which stands out in the team set. I’m slowly working through the giants on this set but the high numbers are killing me. No idea how people do a complete set of these.

Moving more recently, a team set if 1987 Topps Traded is very nice and a bunch of 1995 Upper Deck SP is kind of amazing in that it’s only a year after I stopped collecting cards but looks completely different than anything I remember collecting. Also the Bond diecut is pretty fun.

I’m going to assume that this 1993 Matt Williams is a TTM request. Williams was a decent signer for a while but I never sent to him since he moved to Korea before I was ready to do so. I did get his autograph back in 1989 but it’s nice to have a signed card from his years as a genuine star of the team as well.

1997 Fleer and 1999 Pacific Omega make for an interesting pair. Fleer on its uncoated paper stock is always a nice change of pace while Pacific is always doing something crazy. I  this case Pacific has applied a halftone texture to the foil stamping which duplicates the portrait image on the card.  It’s a super-coarse screen but it’s an interesting effect despite all the loss of detail.

The other two cards here are a 2011 Topps Lineage 1975 mini parallel and a god only knows what Topps was intending red parallel form 2011 Heritage Minor League. The 75 mini works better than the “Venezuelan” in that it’s actually a mini and uses the 1975 design. Topps’s common backs for these meant that the spanish-language back is underwhelming.

Last batch of cards in the package were these modern ones which as usual includes a lot of cards from sets I never buy. Very cool Matt. I’m glad this turned up even if it was over five months late.

Also stuffed into my old mailbox was a package from Tim Jenkins. I’m still meting out cards from his last box to the boys but this package was aimed more at my interests.

We’ll start off with the heavy hitter. Topps was “nice” and made Willie Mays a high number in both 1970 and 1971. This took what I thought would be more easily-attainable Mays cards and turned them into trouble. Mays is of course always hard but adding high numbers into the mix is insult upon injury.

Tim had this lower-grade sample sitting in a display case and generously offered to send it to me.* I was a bit sad when the package seemed to go missing and was very happy when I found it again.

*I will always be happy to receive a lower grade Willie Mays card.

Much to my surprise there were other cards inside. Two Globe Imports cards are indeed as bad as advertised. Nice to have a couple samples. I have no desire to add more. Three Laughlin cards included my first black back though are very cool. I haven’t been actively looking for these but now I’m thinking I should at least get the Giants cards.

This Ron Hunt confused me because I had no idea what it was from. I’ve since found out that it’s from the 1969 Milton Bradley baseball game. Twitter to the rescue. And yes it’s a shame that there’s no hit by pitch option on his results since that was Hunt’s core competency.

A handful of 1975 Minis are always welcome. I’m not seeking these out either but I kind of love them. I also love all the pocket schedules. Between these, the ones, Cliff sent, and my own from my childhood, I now have schedules from 1978 to 1993 except for 1981.

I didn’t collect these as a kid as much as just accumulated them but I’ve fond myself really enjoying them since they include a lot of other great information such as ticket prices and promotions which is hard to find online.

And lastly Tim included a Supreme Court Sluggers card of Arthur Goldberg and Marvin Miller, a commemorative pin for Barry Bonds’s 600th homer run, and a 1979 Baseball Digest featuring Jack Clark on the cover. I think I like the Supreme Court Sluggers card most for its weirdness but the Baseball Digest reminded me of how that was the first sports magazine I ever had a subscription to.

I no longer have my copies so I don’t remember exactly when I had a subscription. But that was a fun magazine to get and read and flipping through this copy brought back a lot of memories. Things don’t seem to have changed much by the time I was a kid in the late 1980s. The next decade though is nearly unrecognizable. Thanks Tim for the trip down memory lane.

And finally there was a plain white envelope from a different Tim. Nothing super fancy but this Buster Posey National Baseball Day card is a nice addition. I only got one pack this year and yeah, Posey was not among my cards.

Last National Baseball Card Day in general was a bit of a disappointment. The “local” shops aren’t as nice as the ones in the Bay Area and one didn’t even have any inventory due to the storm.

It  wasn’t just that we weren’t able to get a bunch of packs, there was nothing for the kids to buy. For a promotion which is designed to get kids into card shops, Topps did a piss poor job coordinating its product release schedule to be kid friendly. The only stuff for sale were packs of Chrome starting at $10 for a pack of four cards. Major fail.

Anyway, thanks (other) Tim! Hopefully everyone has updated their address books now.

Big Box from Deetdedee

Jeff Smith (@deetdedee) is a relatively new twitter contact for me. He’s probably best described as a Lefty O’Doul supercollector but he’s also just another pre-war aficionado. He’s recently undergone a collection downsizing as he’s decided to focus just on his interests and get rid of everything else.

He said he had a big box to send me for myself and the boys. Then Covid hit and all our plans got put on hold. As we found our way in the new normal, he eventually got the box out and it did eventually arrive.

It was stuffed with a ton of stuff from around 2000–2002. Some of it stuck together (I managed to sprate most of it without issue), some of it loose. But there was a small pile of special cards for me. These three are the highlights for my collection.

The 1964 Home Run Leaders card was one that always ran a little more than I wanted to spend even though it’s one of those cards that needed to be in my Giants album. A lot of the League Leaders cards feel like indulgences but this one with all three Giants Hall of Fame sluggers (plus bonus Hank Aaron) is special.

The Jim Lonborg autograph is from the Fleer Sports Illustrated sets and is a welcome addition to my Stanford binder. It’s not a design I particularly like but something about it just works, especially when you see a page of them.

David Aardsma meanwhile is one of those prospects I remember from the Bonds years back before I drifted away from the team. I never realized that he put together a respectable 10-year Major League career after his single season in San Francisco.

There wa sa decent stack of other cards of interest. This photo shows most of them. A few vintage Giants Hall of Famers. All duplicates but they’ll make the boys very happy. Some shiny modern cards including a couple fun Will Clarks showing him in college. And a couple of relics of players I don’t usually see relics from.

The four 2008 Opening Day Golds of Tim Lincecum kind of weird me out. Base Opening Day eschews the team-colored circles and instead has a red border with white circles and gold stamping. The gold version just drops the red borders and leaves everything else intact. Addition by subtraction but it also robs the design of its most-interesting feature.

I’ve decided togo through the rest of the cards by pulling out examples of the cards that were in the box. Most of these are Giants but there are a few other needs such as the 1986 Topps Earl Weaver that I still need for my set build.* I don’t have much to say about most of these cards since they’re mostly all familiar to me but Jeff did well and managed to send a bunch that I need still.

*Yes I know I said I’m finished but a trade fell through and I’m still missing a dozen cards.

The 1992 Bowmans I needed all of. Also the 1991 Ultra Terry Kennedy and many of the 1993 Bowmans. The Darren Lewis Award Winner is also new to me as are the 1998 Donruss and 1998 Scores. As always the duplicates are alreadt on my sons’ piles for the next day they behave.

A bunch more cards which take us into the bulk of the box’s 2000–2002 emphasis. Two big stacks of Bowmans that I mostly needed again. A bunch of Bonds cards as well that I hadn’t encountered; I’m pretty sure every one pictured here is new to me. And that foil 1955 Bowman retro JT Snow sure is something.

The Upper Deck SP Pros and Ulitmate Victory sets at the bottom right corner are two of the sets that were especially prominent in the box. Most of those were also stuck together but managed to pull apart without issue.

Unlike the SPs and Ultimate Victorys, the Black Diamonds didn’t survive their unsticking nearly as well. Oh well, I found a couple Shawn Greens during my digging and have added him to my Stanford Album even though he’s not officially part of the project.

Like Ken Williams and Bill Wakefield, Green went pro while he was still a student so he never played for the baseball team. Unlike Williams and Wakefield, he has a TON of cards so I need to figure out which ones I want. I’m okay sort of supercollecting Bob Boone or Mike Mussina. I do not however want over a hundred Shawn Green cards.

The rest of these continue to fill in holes nicely. Most of the Jeff Kents are new. I’ve never seen Topps Fusion or Topps HD (which look kind of amazing in hand). The 2001 Fleer Traditions managed to mesh perfectly with my cards to give me basically a complete set (missing a Barry Bonds League Leader and Carlos Valderrama). And the Upper Decks even managed to scratch off a couple from my searchlist too.

Coming out of the sweet spot of the box with 2002 sets. Thsi year’s Blakc Diamond works for me. Not sure why. The Legends of New York set is a really interesting set although I don’t trust those felt patches to not leave dust all over.

I kind of like the Pacific Private Stock (no idea what’s up with the gold and silver versions) and it’s nice to have a decent amount of 2002 Donruss, Fleer, and Upper Deck Vintage. Upper Deck MVP meanwhile doesn’t look like an insert anymore. Instead it looks like something I should be using to play baseball Uno.

The last batch of sets is winding down from the meat of the box except for the huge stack of 2020 Donruss. Plenty of Giants for us to share but plenty of other cards for the boys to divvy up including a couple of relics. It’s a nice enough design that doesn’t look too bad for a logoless offering.

I actually needed most of the rest of the cards here too. Pretty much everything but the 2005s and 2018 Holidays fit holes in the binder. And my kids love the Holiday cards so that works out just fine.

Thanks Jeff! The boys will have fun going through the rest of the box. Lots of shiny stuff for my youngest in particular.

His house is a museum…

Cliff/@oriolesrise is one of the all-time greats on Card Twitter. He lives out in Amish country where there seems to be no end to cheap antique finds and auctions. Every weekend or so he’s finding boxes of cool stuff and showing photos of them on his Twitter feed.

As a result he not only has a massive collection, he has a massive number of duplicate items. He’s very generous with these and offers them as trade bait. Many of us now have piles at his house that are waiting for a proper mailday (or for those of us closer to him, to visit the “museum”).

He’s also been using a lot of his duplicates for TTM requests and has been getting a number of great returns. A couple weeks ago he asked a bunch of the rest of us if we were interested in some guys. I was and last weekend I received my first mailing.

First stack of cards are players I’ve explicitly expressed an interest in getting autographs of. A decent number of former Giants on here (Schofield, McDaniel, McDowell, Ontiveros) but the others are players that for whatever reason stuck out to me.

Quite a few of these I’ve already sent out. I’ll keep writing letters too since Cliff sent these to me with the express purpose that they be used for TTM requests (although I did grab the 1954 Schofield for the colorwheels page).

Cliff though didn’t stop with just the small stack of cards I’d asked for for TTM stuff. He sent a big additional pile of TTM guys. That so many of these are older cards is especially cool. I don’t have a lot of old cards in general and the one I do have I have for specific reasons. As a result I’m not likely to send them out TTM.

In this batch I especially like the Dave Chalk just chilling photo and the Larry Gura traded card that shows him with a team he never played for.

Last batch of potential TTM cards includes a bunch of guys I’ve already gotten but a couple like Reichardt who are interesting to learn about.

One thing I have to figure out for myself is how I’ll feel about sending out the 1967, 1971, and 1977 cards with facsimile signatures since I generally avoid getting those signed.

There was a lot more stuff in the package beyond cards for TTMing. Cliff didn’t clear out my pile but he took a serious dent out of it. Let’s start off with a dozen pocket schedules including a couple from 1986 to 1988 which correspond to the beginning of my fandom.

I saved some of these from when I was a kid but did not collect them in general. This is a bit of a shame since the schedules, especially the promotions, are a lot of fun to see and other details like who the announcers and sponsors are are a great blast from the past.

Cliff included a ton of off-grade vintage Giants, most of which is going to go the boys. I didn’t get my first 1950s card until a couple years ago. I’m kind of jealous that they’ll get theirs before becoming teenagers. I’m going to have to figure out how to split up the Cepeda and McCovey since I can see those causing some sibling trouble.

Most of these however are cards I need. This is my second Laughlin World Series card and the first Giant. The team set of 1976 SSPC is great and gives me some duplicates I can use for TTM. The near-set of 1986 Fleer is great too since I only had like two Giants.

A couple Fleer updates complete those team sets as does a similar batch of Score Tradeds. For whatever reason while I was totally familiar with Topps Traded as a kid I got very few Fleer Updates and absolutely no Score Tradeds. Never too late to rectify that oversight.

Moving on to more-recent cards. The deck of Giants playing cards is fantastic. Not sure if I should open it or if I should just keep it sealed. Studio 95 meanwhile sure is something else with that credit card design. The hologram detail on the front facsimile signatures on the back are nice touches but overall this is a wild change of pace for a set that was originally about quality studio photography.

The Upper Deck Legends  and Legendary Cuts cards are interesting. This looks like one of those sets where the cards are just filler for the hits but the base cards are kind of nice. The Legends cards look good with both color and black and white photos—something not all designs succeed at—while the sepia toned Legendary Cuts cards nicely combine an old school photo treatment with a modern design.

Another fun item is this near-complete set of the first series of 1992 Crackerjack minis. I pulled a handful of these out of boxes when I was a kid so this is totally the kind of oddball I love. I also have to point out that Donruss used different photos than in its regular cards on this which is an extra level of attention to detail that I wish Topps did now with its endless design reuses.

A half-dozen Stanford cards made it in to the mailer too. A couple more Studio 95s, a fun 1994 All Star I didn’t have yet, and two 1996 Extra Bases. The Extra Bases are the most exciting cards here, partly because they’re an odd size and partly because I never come across them. These two may take me up to six in my collection. Nice to be able to finally fill a page.

It’s not just the size difference that I like, it’s the aspect ratio that I really dig. These are close to a tobacco card ratio but by being so huge they can get away with a nice photo. Most cards feature squarish photos. I love seeing how Fleer crops things to fit the something much more eccentric.

And finally a few cards that don’t fit the rest of the themes. That’s a complete set of Quaker Granola cards. Very very cool. That’s also a stack of 1990 Fleer which was intended to complete my set (most of those needs were filled by other trading partners even though I had those cards marked as “in progress” in my need list). The other six cards here though are a bit of a surprise and make me wonder if they were intended for a Braves or Red Sox collector and made it into my stack by mistake.

Anyway, very very cool. It’s going to be fun for the boys to go through and I’m going to have a lot of fun writing letters. Thanks Cliff!

Signature Sleuth

A relatively new Twitter account which I’ve been following is Signature Sleuth (@SignatureSleuth). He’s kind of crazy and buys big lots of autographed baseballs. He then often posts photos of them on Twitter as both contests to guess who the player is or to figure things out if he’s unable to do so.

I don’t like the guess-the-player ones but when he posts team balls those turn into fun little puzzles. After a team ball is solved he sends a random autograph to one lucky participant, one of which ended up being me.

So my plain white envelope arrived earlier this week. Inside was this Jacob Cruz autograph which is exactly the kind of autograph I was expecting. There are so many “junk” autographs out there in the hobby now which have no appeal to anyone except a hard-core team collector. As such a collector though this is the kind of thing I enjoy.

Cruz never really lived up to the hype as a player but he was a guy I saw come through Sunken Diamond when he played for Arizona state. Always fun to see guys I watched in college make it to the show, especially when it’s for my team.

Thanks for the card and keep the team balls coming!

Oddballs from Shane!

Earlier this week I found a fun bubble mailer from Shane Katz in my mailbox. Shane’s been on an oddballs binge for a couple years now and it appears that he’s spreading the wealth in terms of sending extras to people who can use them.

Two such extras are this Mike Sadek from the 1979 or 1980 KNBR/SFPD* Giants set and Steve Buechele from the 1988 Smokey Bear Rangers set. Both of these sets are from the heydey of 1980s (plus or minus a few years) oddballs where teams and sponsors would print out photos on some sort of card stock and issue them as baseball cards without any consideration as to the traditional baseball card size.

*I don’t have the ganas to look this up. Both years look nearly the same with the only difference being that one has a bold font and the other uses an octothorpe with the uniform number. Oh. Wait. The Sadek matches the Joe Strain which I previously identified as a 1980 release.

Yup. Both of these are oversized. KNBR/SFPD is like 2¼”×4″ and Smokey Bear is 3½”×5″. Makes these a pain to binder but I like all the weird sizes and the reminder that the Topps standard we’ve had since 1957 was something we played fast and loose with even when I was a kid.

The Sadek is a lot of fun. I like Sadek for nostalgia reasons and Dennis Desprois’s team photos are always good for a view of Candlestick as well. Also despite my not liking facsimile signatures I do like the way this one works. The overprinted black signatures frequently bother me but when they become more pronounced—whether foil stamped, reversed, or in cyan like this—I end up treating them more as a design element than a facsimile.

Buechele meanwhile makes a great type card for the Stanford binder. I love oddballs but chasing ALL of them is madness. That the Stanford Project gives me an excuse to pick one from the set is one of the reasons I like the project. I can add all kinds of odd cards and stay on topic.

Two more highlights from the mailer are this 1979 Hostess Vida Blue and 1997 Fleer signed Rod Beck card.* I’ve been slowly getting into Hostess cards. I was hesitant about them for a long time due to their handcut and grease-stained natures but I’ve come around to loving the fact that they existed at all.

*The Hostess is obviously smaller than the Fleer in real life but here on the web images can be sized to the same dimensions and  create an alternate reality.

It’s great that cards were part of the boxes of junk food in the 1970s. As a parent* now I’m glad that this no longer exists but I look at those janky edges and can’t help but smile. I don’t want these to be perfectly trimmed. I want to see the evidence of a child in the 1970s lovingly, carefully cutting out the card and squirreling it away.

*And as a 40-year-old card collector with a sweet tooth.

The 1997 Rod Beck is awesome. I’ve discussed Shooter on here in the past but it’s worth reiterating how much I miss closers whose strikeout pitch was also a double-play inducing pitch. Aside from Beck being a fun guy and deserved fan favorite where ever he went, he never scared me like other closers do because I knew he could get double plays with that splitter.

Not as cool but great nonetheless. Shane finished off one of my team sets. The last 2000 Giants card I needed was this one of Barry Bonds. Topps printed five different variants of this card number* but I only wanted one.

*The other three: 40/40, 1990MVP, and 1993MVP.

I refuse to get drawn into all the variants crap that the modern hobby pushes and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be suckered into it where it began twenty years ago. One checklist number. One card. Set complete.

If the others show up then of course I put them in the binder. But the idea that Topps printed a flagship set consisting of fewer than 500 cards but had the time to create a bunch of variants for some of the cards is everything wrong with what Flagship should be. It’s the set of record and should strive to be as good a set with as many current players in their correct uniforms as possible.

The last couple odd cards are a pair of Japanese cards. Dave Hilton is a 1979 TCMA card which was released for the US market. I actually want to say I have it already and that it came with my Baseball Card Collecting kit. I have now idea why it would’ve come with that kit but I feel like it came with a dozen assorted TCMA cards that, instead of being pirnted as part of a team set were printed by, or for, Hygrade. Anyway this card is eerily familiar to me and there’s no good reason why it should be.

The Tadashi Kashima is interesting in that it’s a Japanese release. Slightly smaller than traditional cards at 60mm×85mm and I kind of love that it is. What I find interesting is that B8 paper (62mm×88mm) is almost the same size as a baseball card but instead we’ve rounded down to the nearest multiple of five.

I always like looking at the backs of these so I’ve gone ahead and scanned it event though I have nothing to say about it.

Last batch of cards are more-modern Giants cards. The Opening Day insert is new. So is the Heritage insert. It’s weird, these Then and Now inserts have very clear connections between the players—in this case Batting Average Leaders—yet somehow feels completely random.

The rest I think I have—yes even that green Logan Webb (I don’t have a base version but I do have two of these somehow)—but will go in the duplicates pile for the boys. Well except for that Triple Play Buster Posey which is the stuff of nightmares and which they won’t let anywhere near their collections.

Very cool. Thanks Shane!

New Years Zapping

Last week Kenny gave me a heads-up that he’d sent me a package. I was expecting a small bubble mailer or something and kept an eye out…especially after we realized that the package had been sent to my old address. Then on Friday though my old neighbor gave me a call and said that a box had arrived for me.

A box? That was unexpected. So last weekend I popped on by (we only moved down the street), said hello, and picked up a medium priority mailing box filled with a lot more than just Yankees prospect cards.

Assorted vintage and junk wax. I love the 1975 Len Randle and am looking into other Len Randle cards now since his 1978 is one of the best of the set. The more I see of 1981 the more I like about it even though I really dislike the floppy caps still. But the bright, solid border is great and the photography has character.

A pre-A’s Dave Stewart is always fun and I’m very happy to have the giant glove Mickey Hatcher. I don’t have all the classic fun Fleer cards* but every one I do add makes me smile.

*Still missing the 1984 Hubbard and Johnstone cards among others. 

I’m also never going to be upset to add another Topps Gold card and while Collectors Choice was a set I barely collected due to 1994 reasons I like it more and more each time I see it.

Some more-modern cards starting off with a great photo on the Mark Bellhorn and then moving into more-expected territory with Yankees and Mets cards. Nice image on the El Duque card and it still weirds me out to see Derek Lowe as a Yankee.

A bunch of 2016 Archives in the 1979 design. Nice to get a couple Giants. Brandon Drury is also appropriate since I saw him rehab at Trenton. These cards all have pretty nice paper too, they just have some slightly weird photo processing especially the Billy Williams and Maz cards which feel like the backgrounds have been messed with a little.

It’s especially instructive to compare the Archives cards with the big batch of over 60 real 1979s in the mailer. Archives does a decent job at mimicking things but can’t quite get the photography right. This is partly because there’s been a standard Topps portrait setup used for all of Archives and Heritage recently and, while it’s fine for what it is, it’s not trying to capture the 1979 look either.

Some of this is the poses (the hands over head pitching posed windup is a thing of the past now). There’s also the slightly lower angle which, results in lots of sky-dominated, if not sky-exclusive, backgrounds. But it’s really cards with candid shots like the Garry Templeton which just no longer exist now. They’re not super-common in the 1979 set either but they’re there and tend to be my favorite shots of the set.

I still don’t like the 1979 design but it’s growing on me. Very photocentric and the splash of color is great. The fact that it’s the base card for Basquiat’s anti-product baseball cards is an added bonus.

Some more 79s. Larry Cox is a great catcher card. Clint Hurdle has a wonderful cheekful of chaw. I will never understand why the Cubs team cards were the way they were in the 1970s with all those floating heads. Mike Lum is a key addition to the not-yet-official Hawaii-born players project I keep telling myself I should start. And Nino Espinosa is an addition to the Candlestick binder.

Almost done with the 1979s and I have to admit that the Ken Landreaux stopped me cold when I was flipping through the stack. I joked on Twitter by calling it Vermeer lighting but in all seriousness I’ve never seen a baseball card lit like this before.

Indirect windowish light is not a situation that occurs that often in baseball as it is. The fields are exposed. Dugouts are usually open. Photographers are usually shooting into dugouts or out into the field. So getting a side shot of a player looking back from an open window? Even if it’s just a grab shot it’s one of those moments and lighting situations that makes the photographer side of me look closely.

Last handful of 79s includes another Candlestick card with the Jamie Easterly. I’m slowly putting together a page from each set showing just cards taken at the Stick. No specific searchlist, just pulling cards as I come across them This batch took me to five 1979s of Candlestick and also pushed my non-set-building accumulation over 200 in general.

Kenny included a few Giants and Giants-related cards. The Panini Joey Bart is especially nice. It doesn’t look like I’m going to get to see him in Trenton since he’s projected to end up at Sacramento but I’m hoping he’ll start the season in Richmond and only move up after they visit Trenton.

Chrome Suarez is cool and I know that Yastrzemski is an Orioles card but it just looks like a Giants card to me. The bunch of Pence cards is also fun. It’s weird to see him looking so clean cut as an Astro and I’m glad he regained some form with the Rangers.

Moving to Stanford guys. I don’t actively collect relics but this is one where I can see why people do. Not just a half-inch square of material, this is instead a big swatch which shows off how well-done Stanford’s ink/fabric color matching is. The photo is small but legible. The autograph is on-card. I don’t like the red uniforms but the color really pops here.

I’m not super-collecting Quantrill but he’s the one guy who debuted this year who got a bunch of cards from Topps. As a result I’ve picked up a lot of them and this is arguably the nicest of them all.

Three more Stanford guys in the mix. Bleich is also a former Trenton player and I’m not sure Kenny realized Ramos and Osuna were Stanford. that Osuna card is fantastic though.

Girardi on the other hand is a Spanish-language card and so fits with another of my mini collections. I’ve written about this set before and while I only have a handful of these total it’s always great to add a new one.

Speaking of non-English cards, Kenny sent me a couple Japanese cards as well. From what I can tell on his blog, Kenny visits his family in Japan and comes back with all kinds merchandise, much of which he’s generous enough to send out to other people.

God help us all if he starts bringing back mid-70s Calbee cards since these Kanebo and Card Gens are cool enough as it is. The Kanebo Bonds card is a massive improvement over the regular 2003 Topps design* because it’s deleted the Topps logo. The logo is often intrusive as it is but in 2003 it’s doubly annoying because it’s bright red instead of being reversed, black or, as is the case today, foil stamped.

*Also it uses the Opening Day photo.

Sega Card Gen is something that really intrigues me because it’s part of a video game that really has to be seen to be believed.  The card itself is pretty neat too: stiffer than a regular card and rounded corners. I actually have one on my Stanford Wantlist because San Fuld’s only 2012 card is a one of these but never expected to actually get one. Very very cool to have a sample in my collection.

Looking at the back of the Kanebo card is pretty wild. I appreciate that they translated his height and weight into metric. I also recognize that the team name is listed as “Jaiantsu” instead of “Kyojin” and am noticing the connection in voiced and unvoiced katakana syllabic pairs (in this case the BA in “Barry” and PI in “Pirates”).

Sticking with Japanese issues, There was a huge stack of close to 80 Japanese Panini Soccer cards. Even better, many of them were from 2010 to 2012 and so cover the years in which I was most interested in the game.*

*I’m still a fan but ever since Suárez came to Barcelona I’ve found myself less interested. Plus the inequality in the game itself has gotten worse and it’s become increasingly difficult to actually follow what’s going on as even highlights are going behind paywalls.

The biggest highlight in this batch is a Messi card from 2005–2006. Not technically a rookie card but pretty damn close. Messi debuted in 2004 and so probably only shows up on commemorative Campions Lliga type sets from that seasn. 2005–2006 would be the first time he’d be included from the beginning and what a season that was. A good time to be a Barça fan.

Two early-career Cristiano Ronaldo cards are also very nice. I also like seeing Keisuke Honda and Guiseppe Rossi. And even the Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid guys bring back good memories of that period of time.

More Soccer. Another Rossi. Diego Forlan. Bojan Krkic. Gianluigi Buffon, Shinji Kagawa. So many players who I watched play in Europe and int he World Cup. They won’t all make it into my album but it’s going to be difficult to cut things down to a couple pages.

Last bit of soccer takes us into current-year cards and stickers. These don’t resonate as much although Mathieu and Vidal are both players who’ve played at Barça. Rodrigo Taddei is also a former AS Siena player. I used to follow Siena when they were in Serie A but after going out of business and restarting in Serie D it’s been much harder for me to follow them. I do know they’re in Serie C now and doing well while not competing for promotion.

Also it‘s worth nothing that these cards are all mini-card sized and feel like the B5 equivalent to regular cards A4/letter size. I haven’t compared them to the classic Calbee size yet but it’s close and feels similarly satisfying to handle. Like the Card Gen cards these are part of a game and have backs that detail each player’s strength number within the game.

Okay now we’re getting into Kenny’s wheelhouse. Mostly Yankees. Mostly minor leaguers. These are from nationally-released minor league sets and as such I don’t really recognize many of the names. Jim Walewander may be the only one actually since the Melky Cabrera and Mike Stanton are part of the Major League side of Bowman.

A few more-modern Minor League issues with some Major Leaguers mixed in. Not much to say here except to note that while I like these Bowman designs they’re also some of the designs that I have the hardest time telling apart.

I also need to comment on whatever Topps did in that 2013 Heritage 1962 design. Design looks good but the photo processing looks like the black plate just didn’t print. At first I thought some of these were blackless variations but they all have the same look. It really weirds me out.

Sticking with minor league releases, Kenny included a dozen cards of guys I might see in Trenton at some point.* Most of these guys were in Tampa last year and can reasonably be expected to be in Trenton this year. The big name is Florial who I’m hoping won’t jump Trenton after a couple years in Tampa.

*Assuming there’s even minor league baseball in 2021 and beyond.

Another dozen or so cards related to Trenton. A handful shows guys who pre-date my time as a fan including three more which show the weird photo processing. Always fun to expand the Thunder collection though.

The rest show guys who I saw last season. Kyle Holder might be back though I expect him to move up to AAA.* It would’ve been nice to have had that Bowman card last year though. Same with the Jeff Hendrix although the fact that Hendrix was released early last season means I didn’t miss out much. Jhalan Jackson is another guy who didn’t make it through the season. And Casey Mize isn’t a Thunder player but was part of Erie’s excellent pitching staff which was impressive whenever I saw them play.

*Unlike Trevor Stephan who struggled with injuries last year and so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at least start the season at Trenton.

It wouldn’t be a proper zapping from Kenny if there weren’t a bunch of Yankees minor league team set cards. I never properly appreciated how long he’s been Yankees prospecting but the first cards here are from 1992. I don’t like these cards individually but there’s something about seeing the progression of designs and the increased production quality which I find fascinating.

The 1992s are full bleed but the typesetting is an afterthought and the paper is super thin. By the time we get into the 2000s the cards feel and look like proper cards. I don’t know if the designs are used across all the different minor league teams the way that TCMA designs were consistent across all the teams in the 1980s but they increasingly look like national releases.

These show the 2000s and 2010s designs which are much less loving-hands customs and much more professional looking. They still don’t pass as Major League cards in part due to the print quality but they’re not bad. The stock and finish is much much better now though.

The last items in the box were three mini-binders. I’ve been intrigued by these for my Mothers Cookies sets since the four-pocket pages are perfect for 28-card sets. Unfortunately Ultra Pro seemed to have discontinued these right when I started looking. This is also probably part of why Kenny decided to dump these. I know he’s trying to condense his collection but these are a nice way to have some things on display without taking up too much space.

These came with pages inside too so that makes them perfect for me to give to the boys. They have plenty of big binders but I can see the small ones being great for the cards they want to show off the most.

It’s a good thing I opened the binders too since there were a dozen autographs in there. Bobby Brown is the big one and now forces me to make a decision about my Stanford Project. To-date I’ve not included him because he was only at Stanford for a year before enlisting in the Navy and finishing his education at UCLA and Tulane. Part of this is me preferring guys who ended finished off their collegiate careers with Stanford* and part of this is me not wanting to pay the Yankees tax on Brown’s cards.

*Or, in the case with Bill Wakefield, Stanford graduates who didn’t play college ball.

At the same time he’s in the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame so it’s clear that he kind of should be part of the project at some level and I’ve added this to the binder to reflect that.

The rest of the autographs are all guys from the 2004 Battle Creek Yankees. I’m going to assume these were TTMs and, since none of these guys made it to the majors, Kenny’s willing to include them in his clean-out. Battle Creek was a low-A level team in the Midwest League and so demonstrates how hard it is to predict who’ll make it to the majors at that level. Only seven guys on the entire team made it al the way with Melky Cabrera the only real success story.*

*For my interests Stanford-wise, Jason van Meetren was also on this team but I’m not intentionally going into Minor League team issues for this project unless it’s the only way to get a card of a guy who eventually played in the majors.

Wow. That was a lot of stuff to get through and a lot of fun to look at. Thanks Kenny! I’m going to have to touch base after Spring Training as I prep for the Trenton season.

Merry Christmas from Marc

So Marc Brubaker managed to sneak a bubble mailer in right before Christmas. I couldn’t wait until Christmas morning and decided to open it up and look through the day it arrived. Marc’s mailings are fun because they tend to include random stuff from all across my searchlists rather than being just Giants cards. This one was no exception.

Starting off as usual with Giants. You’d think that I’d have as much 1988 Donruss as I ever wanted to own but nope, that Rick Reuschel All Star is both a new card and a new set to my collection. While it’s technically a Pirates card, because of the photo it’ll fit perfectly in my Giants binder.

This batch actually has a lot of new-to-me sets. The Will Clark sticker, Brandon Crawford Pro Debut, and three shiny Prizm cards are all sets I’ve never seen cards from.  Meanwhile most of the rest of these are cards that I don’t have.

The more-recent cards include a bunch of inserts I don’t have. The Cepeda and Bench.Posey ones are fun but that Ballpark Evolution card featureing the Polo Grounds on one side and Pac Bell AT&T Oracle Park on the other is my favorite of the batch.

Eighteen Stanford cards including a surprising number of 1989 Upper Deck cards that I didn’t have. For such a seminal set of my youth I never acquired much of the cards. Part of me wants to collect more. The rest knows that the Griffey rookie is still overpriced and that I much prefer the 1990 set anyway.

I love Ballard’s 1991 Upper Deck. It’s nice to get an unsigned version of the Chitren Error. This is my first 1997 Studio card. The dual Bowman Chris Carters are nice. I’m not a Panini collector at all so the Drew Storen is very different than most of what’s in my binder. And the same goes for Gypsy Queen and that Mussina.

A handful of weird cards. The Archives Wagner is interesting. I have mixed feelings about old guys in modern cards and the colorized photo in a 1993 design is especially odd to me. At the same time it’s a neat photo and I like having it on a card.

The coins meanwhile are a set that I either never saw as a kid or consciously avoided (and subsequently forgot about). I don’t have any of them and they kind of fall into the category of things I’m not sure what to do with. Cool to have a few rattling around though.

Moving on to the next portion of this package takes me to the set building pile. First off, filling in some holes in sets I’m close to completing. Two 1991 Scores for my son.* One 1991 Studio for me takes me to needing only six. And six 1994 Topps cards leaves me 39 short.

*He’s building the set that my dentist sent me and is only two cards (403 Eric Davis Master Blaster and 417 Nolan Ryan Highlight) away now.

This selection hits me square in the feels for my youth with Studio and Score showing off how varied card sets were getting while 1994 Topps is quietly showing off photography that we no longer see on cards.

A larger batch of 2014 Topps includes a decent amount of star power. I didn’t expect to get a Trout in a package so that’s very cool. As I stated when I first saw this set, for whatever reason I particularly like all the colored uniforms in this set. Something about the design and the photo processing makes me like the variety of colors depicted despite my being a staunch “home whites and road greys” guy. I still need over 200 of these, mostly series 2.

Last bit of set building is a couple dozen Bonds Home Run History cards. I thought I’d accumulated a couple hundred of these but I forgot that there was also a lot of Upper Deck Documentary in the box of cards from bullshit sets that I’m accumulating but refuse to binder.

Anyway this is an awful awful set but I’m happy to give these cards a home. I have no idea why anyone who’s not a Giants fan would want these in their house though.

Last card of the package is this autographed relic of Garret Williams. Williams was probably a Giant when Marc started putting this pile together but he got traded to the Angels earlier this month as the player to be named later in the Zack Cozart and Will Wilson trade.

He had a decent year last year at Richmond but after two years in AA gets to face his future this coming season. Maybe this autograph will end up going to an Angels collector. But who knows, last year I got a Zack Cozart auto and there’s a decent chance I’ll get to slide it into my Giants section now.

Very cool stuff as usual Marc. I hope your Christmas was a good one too!

Starting a new set

So late last month Matt Prigge decided that he wanted to clear out a bunch of sets and cards that he’d accumulated for accumulation’s sake. Matt just moved and while he had moved with all his cards, I guess that he realized that he didn’t want to buy enough Ikea Kallax units to get them all his basement floor.

I haven’t gone through such a downsizing yet but it’s coming. I have to get what I have organized first though. But with cards it’s easy to fall into the accumulation trap and taking a step back to figure out what I really like is a healthy activity to do every once in a while.

Currently, aside from my Giants, Stanford, and a few mini-projects, I’ve found that I’m enjoying filling out the cards and sets from my childhood but am enjoying just having samples—preferably Giants or Stanford players—from the other years. I’ve been enjoying building a 1978 set but it’s really the guys from 1987–1994 that I remember best. That’s my youth and all I cared about was baseball and cards.

I had collected complete sets of 1987–1993 Topps as a kid. I’ve been building 1986 since it represents the cards that were in existence when I became a fan and I acquired a couple hundred of them over my childhood collecting years. I only had a couple dozen 1994 Topps for comparison. By then I’d realized that I shouldn’t be spending money on packs if I was just going to get the set. When the strike hit and I dropped the hobby cold-turkey I never picked up any more 1994 Topps cards.

As a result I have no real memories of 1994 as a set. It’s not a design that I liked at the time* and I just didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the cards. But I’ve seen more examples in recent years and have found myself liking a lot of things about it. Plus the players are still the guys I knew and the set itself serves as a bit of commemoration of the single best Giants season I’ve ever witnessed.**

*As an autograph hunter I found myself skeptical of glossy cards since we hadn’t figured out the best way to get them signed. In many ways my preferences for non-glossy cardstock and older-style designs versus the fancy-shmancy modern cards the the 1990s pulled the hobby into is rooted in autograph hunting practicalities rather than any design-based critique.

**Yes winning a World Series is great but there’s also something wonderful about seeing your team dominate the regular season. The sting of getting pipped to the pennant by the Braves still hurts but looking back on it I just remember a heck of a run and pennant race.

So when Matt sent out feelers for who’d be interested in various junk wax sets I said hat I’d be interested if he had a set or partial set of 1994 Topps. The price was more than reasonable (especially since it was coming already-paged) so I sent over the money and a week later (thanks to Thanksgiving) the box arrived.

Yeah they don’t make sets like this anymore. I’m still not sold on the design but it’s not as bad as I remember and the only time it makes itself noticed is on cards like the Brett where it brilliantly mirrors the scoreboard. Photography-wise though this is fantastic stuff. A great mix of close action, distant action, experimental action, quiet candids, and poses.

What I like best is how much stadium detail I get. There’s enough depth of field to see what the grandstands are like. Many of the candids are wide-angle shots that show off all kinds of dugout details.

There are also plenty of horizontal cards too with the same mix of images. These are things we have to look for the photo-specific Stadium Club set to see nowadays and it’s a shame since this set is three times as large and so offers an abundance of photographic riches.

One of the things I like best about the photography in the set is how it allows the photos to remain grounded. We can see feet on the ground and know where the play is occurring. How far off the ground a dive is. That plays at second base refuse to hide the baserunner and bag behind the card graphics. These are cards that have been designed by people who know and understand baseball.

While it’s easy for me to rue my bad luck about getting into cards at the peak of card worthlessness, comparing these to what 1986 Topps looks like allows me to be thankful for being able to witness the incredible improvement in the quality of baseball photography.  Just the fact that I got to see the changes as they happened was a lesson in and of itself.

Anyway, Matt’s cards plus the ones I had already left me 45 cards short of a complete set. Most of those holes are in Series 2, much like my 2014 build. Full list of what I need is here. I’ll also keep an updated list on the set need page but this one will mark my starting point.

155 200 387 408 411 416 417 421 428 442 447 465 473 476 477 480 484 486 528 549 586 589 593 615 626 637 649 662 664 668 670 671 672 677 678 679 688 702 718 733 736 738 750 772

Matt, of course, was not content to just send me what I paid for and instead packed assorted other goodies into the box. Two packs of Topps Baseball Talk are so cool I almost don’t want to open them. Since I don’t have the player I need to go to YouTube to listen to the cards but the cards themselves are pretty cool too. As oversize versions of the 1989 design they feature nice big images and with the record grooves on the back are among the oddest to the oddballs.

Most of the packing though was assorted Giants cards from over the years. Many of these I have but I have two boys who are more than happy to take my duplicates too. I’ve already given them each a 300-count box each of cards from 1960 to  2019 as a house-warming present and need to put together other gift packs of duplicates for them now.

In the batch here it turned out that I was missing a bunch of the 1985 Donruss, 1987 Donruss, 1987 Fleer, and 1988 Donruss cards. 1989–1991 though were my peak years and if there’s a hole in my binder it’s because the card is autographed and so is merely in a different binder.

Which means I fastforward to 1992 here and mention that I’ve never seen those blue Classic cards before. They’re kind of horribly printed but I’m amazed that I’m still finding out about new cards from my peak collecting years.

The 1994 Bowmans are also mostly new (I do not remember this design from my youth even though I had a bunch) and the Upper Deck Fun pack represents a set I never saw as a kid. I’ve gotten some Fun Pack cards in previous trade packages but the Pro Files Bonds card is a completely new one to me as well.

Past the strike now and into cards I never saw as a kid No idea if the red lettering on Pinnacle means anything but all that gold foil still kind of amazes me. The 1996 Donruss Steve Scarsone though is a perfect demonstration of how quickly cards designs went from grounding the action to covering it up.

Instead of looking like a fantastic play Scarsone looks like he’s trying and failing to imitate the Karate Kid. Unfortunately, this school of card design is what Topps does repeatedly in modern cards and it’s noticeable enough that my 10-year-old complains about it.

Getting into the 21st century. Standout card here is the First American Church of Baseball Tim Lincecum. I have no idea what this set or organization is (its Facebook page suggests it is/was a Giants fan club) but it’s wonderfully odd and hand-numbered to 500 on the back.

Also the two Buster Posey 2015 cards are part of the Giants team set and NL All Stars set. Needless useless variants that I refuse to chase. But having a sample in the binder is fu none the less. The only reason I actively want those team set cards is if they included a guy who otherwise doesn’t have a Giants card that season.*

*A few of the hardest Stanford cards for me are guys who only showed up in the team sets.

And finally the 2018 and 2019 cards. I appreciate the Gypsy Queen since I categorically refuse to buy these. Ditto to Gallery. Not my cup of tea even though seeing how they’re made is of interest to me from a technical point of view. Like it appears that 2019 Gypsy Queen cut back on the logo and nameplate stupidity of 2018 and doesn’t feature any areas that look like they were printed in a second printing pass.*

*This is a long-overdue SABR post.

Lastly, buried in the stack of Giants cards was this Bill Swift autograph. I had to double check that this was included on purpose but Matt confirmed that it was. Bill Swift was a good Giant whose two full seasons were good enough that I forget that they were his only two complete seasons with the club. His 1993 was especially fantastic and he fully deserved to be in the running for the Cy Young Award.*

*As an aside, how awful was Jose Rijo’s run support that season since he was pretty damn good in every other stat besides Wins/Losses.

This card in particular has always been one of my favorites since it includes the Giants’ awesome Turn Back the Clock uniforms. I liked this card so much that I got it signed back in the day.

Yeah. This is from Spring Training 1993. And this isn’t a complaint about having two but rather an observation at how much Swift’s signature is different. I’m assuming Matt got his card signed TTM at some point in the past couple decades. The signature there more closely matches the neat signature examples Google pulls up. My card meanwhile is a hasty scrawl while getting into or out of the Scottsdale clubhouse.

Anyway, thanks Matt! I’m looking forward to finishing this set build too.