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.

PWE from Tim

Late last week a small envelope from Tim showed up in my mailbox. Inside was this Bill Laskey autograph that he’d gotten in-person 35 years ago. Laskey had a great 1982 rookie season and followed that up with a couple decent years before being traded to Montreal in 1985. This means he’s not one of the guys I know much about although the fact that he started the Joe Morgan game in 1982 is registered in my brain for some reason.

This is one of those small mailings that means a lot to me because as an autograph collector I know that in-person signatures have more meaning than just the signature. I have plenty of signatures that don’t “fit” my collection but they’re all meaningful to me still since they’re things to pin my memories to.

My foray into 50/50s this past season has meant that I’ve reevaluated my feelings about this a little. The fact that I’m blogging and can point to the whole experience of the hunt means that each individual signature is just part of the memory instead of the main event. For my kids though each card is everything and even though I suspect Tim was around 16 when he got this means it was probably still a big deal at the time.

I totally get the idea of winnowing down the stuff I have and focusing my collection, it’s just that when I do so in-person autographs will be the last to go. So yeah I’m kind of honored that Tim’s entrusted me with a bit of his youth. It’s now in the binder next to Champ Summers and Manny Trillo where it belongs.

Housewarming from Marc

My wife’s starting to get suspicious at how fast envelopes have been showing up at the new house. Late last week a mailer from Marc Brubaker arrived. Inside was the usual mix of cards for all my different projects.

We’ll start off with a few Stanford cards. The Castro celebration card and Lowrie parallel are the kind of things that never even make it on to my searchlist radar. Base cards and oddballs are my main goal. Inserts and parallels are things I ignore even though I love adding them to the binder.

I’ve just watched too many other collectors descend into madness trying to stay on top of all those things. Plus it feels like the kind of thing that risks turning the hobby into a chore. Having an insert or a couple parallels here or there adds a bit of variety. Feeling like I need ALL of them though is a place I never want to be.

The 1993 Osuna is a new one to me as well. The photo looks like it was taken at Candlestick and I’m staring at his uniform and realizing that I never noticed that the Astros wore the same uniforms at home and on the road in the late 80s. Also that out of focus baseball makes that card go from basic to interesting.

As is his wont, Marc included something that’s above and beyond the usual trade package stuff. This time it’s a Mark Appel autograph that Marc got through the mail a few years ago. This would have been a big deal six years ago and serves as a warning for all the crazy-overpriced prospecting that’s currently going on in Bowman. What was a big deal then is now probably only of interest to a weirdo like me who collects Stanford guys.

Also I have to point out that Appel notes Romans 12:2* on this card where his other card in my collection indicates Matthew 5:16** and yup, now I’m wondering if he’s ever been tempted to cite the something from Mark.

*And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

**Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The next stack of cards confused me for a moment because the Chris Carter card was on top. Chris Carter is a Stanford guy only he’s white and never played for the Astros. This Chris Carter is completely different and I needed his card for my 2014 set build.* I’ve not gone big on this yet but every little bit helps and it’s nice to strike another 6 off the searchlist.

*Current status of which is on the set needs page.

Moving on to the Giants portion of the mailing. A fair amount of Bowman including some gold parallels I’ve not seen and a black border Kyle Crick which I didn’t realize was (possibly) special until I put it in the binder. Bowman is such a trainwreck that I still don’t know whether the black border is a parallel or just a different set.

And a few 2019 cards including a foil Jeff Samardzija from Series 2 and a couple shiny Prizm cards. Since I couldn’t get into any Series 2 breaks it’s nice to get some of the extra cards in mailing like this. Prizm meanwhile is, like the rest of Panini’s products, one of those sets that I never see. These look pretty cool and deal nicely with Panini’s unlicensed status.

The last bit of the package consisted of a half-dozen 1994 Upper Deck World Cup cards. I only had one of these before now but have been considering getting many more. The 1994 World Cup is still the last international soccer games I’ve attended and Marc tried to get me cards of guys I watched play (plus Jorge Campos who’s just cool).

Four out of the five are indeed guys I watched play. And the fifth is John Doyle who, while he didn’t play in the 1994 World Cup, is a Bay Area legend who played with both the NASL Earthquakes and MLS Earthquakes as well as continuing on to be the Quakes manager so I have no complaints there.

Of the players I watched, the clear highlight is Bebeto who I saw score a couple goals—one against Cameroon and the winner against the US—in addition to having an all-time classic goal celebration. While I became a Barcelona fan through watching Romario in this World Cup, I very much enjoyed watching Bebeto play as well.

Thanks Marc! Maildays like this help me feel really moved in.

Getting Zapped in time for the Thunder Open House

As I, and my son, have gotten more and more into Trenton Thunder games I’ve started paying more and more attention to Kenny’s Twitter feed and blog. In addition to being a prolific trader whose Zippy Zappings are somewhat legendary, he’s a big-time Yankees prospector and autograph seeker. While the prospecting life isn’t for me, knowing who to expect to see in Trenton and who the likely big deals are is good information. At some point I suspect my kids will take over this knowledge base but for now Kenny’s my go-to.

Since Kenny is located in New York City he has access to the Staten Island Yankees (also the Brooklyn Cyclones but we don’t talk about the Mets) and sees Yankees prospects fresh out of the draft. When he realized that the Trenton Thunder were having their open house last Tuesday he put together a package of Staten Island extras and sent them to me and my boys so we could start prospecting on our own.

I suspect he’s also trying to convert them into being Yankees fans. Many of the local kids around here have turned their backs on their parents’ teams and have instead begun to support the Yankees. It would be infuriating if it weren’t so pure. Trenton is a good experience and the past couple years with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar, and Gleyber Torres all making the jump from Trenton to New York City means that the kids are really just following the players’ careers and being excited about them making The Show.

This would be super concerning to me if the Andrew McCutchen trade hadn’t gone down the way it did last year. But seeing Abiatal Avelino in Trenton and then seeing him play in San Francisco later that same season? Super cool. We also got to see Billy McKinney, Brandon Drury, and Justus Sheffield last season and none of those guys are with the Yankees anymore either. My kids have already learned that the Yankees like to trade for players during the season and that minor leaguers at the Trenton level are frequently exactly who gets sent the other way.

Anyway I got my first Zippy Zapping on Monday. Just in time. Inside were three piles of cards—one each for me and the boys.* Plus a bunch of other ephemera from Staten Island. Like I said, I think he’s trying to convert us.

*Yes plural. The youngest is old enough to go to games now and has been jonesing to go for a while. He’s super pumped for the season and is more than ready to join his big brother.

One thing the Trenton is great at is giving away the program at every game. It’s fantastic and welcoming. I thought perhaps this was just a Trenton thing but since Staten Island appears to also do it maybe it’s a Yankee thing. I’d be impressed if it were.

I think this is a complete run of monthly programs from 2016. The first one has an embarrassingly low-resolution cover image but it’s really interesting to see how much roster turnover there is form the first program to the last one.

Also two ticket stubs from last season. I may as well link to Kenny’s post about these games. I’m kind of shocked at the prices. Trenton isn’t cheap but is cheaper than this (San José meanwhile papers the house so everyone feels like they can afford to buy BBQ and churros). I hope the food at Staten Island is affordable since this seems like it would be tough to take families to.

On to the loose cards. Two of the Chromes are for me. The Abreu is for getting signed at Trenton. And the other three Minor League cards are to be divided among the three of us.

Kyle Crick is the guy the Giants sent to Pittsburgh (with cash) for Andrew McCutchen; who then turned into Abiatal Avelino and Juan De Paula. De Paula meanwhile just got shipped to Toronto with Alen Hanson and Derek Law for Kevin Pillar. So in a sense the Giants got rid of Crick, Hanson, and Law and received Avelino and Pillar in exchange.

Kyle Holder is currently with Trenton with Albert Abreu. David Sosebee is with the Yankees’ AAA club in Scranton. And Josh Roeder is now in the Marlins organization. Travis Phelps meanwhile played a couple years in the Majors for Tampa Bay.

Like the Abreu, the rest of the cards were intended for autograph hunting. I didn’t have time to scan anything before the Open House so instead I’m scanning what got signed  and moving into a rundown of the event.

DSC_0150
DSC_0153
DSC_0157I took the boys directly from school. The event started at 3:00. We got there around 3:45 and just wandered around the stadium before grabbing our $1 hot dogs once batting practice started. They loved just watching the players hit.

One of my favorite things as a kid was to get to the park early and watch the teams practice too. There’s something very calming about it and it warms my heart that the boys share my mindset. I’m glad we can all watch together.

Around 5:00 we went up to the autograph line. They were excited—a little too excited—so I gave them each a Thunder baseball and told them we’d try the cards another day. Juggling everything was going to be tough. Which meant I was the only one getting cards signed. I gave the notebook method a shot this time and it’s pretty nifty. Definitely a timesaver if you have a lot of cards you’re managing.

The autographs were managed so well that everyone finished signing like 20 minutes early. Finished in this case means that all the fans in attendance had gotten everyone’s signature. This is just as well since it was pretty chilly and as much as I like minor league ball, the way the players get treated (and not paid) is making me feel really guilty about enjoying it.

Anyway, to the autographs. Two non-team-set cards are of Jorge Saez and Trevor Stephan. Saez has been stuck in AA for too long. He’s better than this and is a perfect example of many of the things wrong with the way Major League Baseball treats minor leaguers. He enjoyed the blast from the past with this card featuring him with the Blue Jays though.

Stephan was the only top prospect to show up (Albert Abreu was on the list but ended up not being in town) and sort of carries himself like he knows it. Still nice enough but definitely someone who’s already been asked to sign a ton of autographs.

Kenny sent us three 2015 Staten Island Yankees team sets. A lot of the players in this set are with Trenton. I don’t normally go for minor league sets but I figured, what the hey, if I have the cards I may as well try and get them signed. Jeff Hendrix, Jhalan Jackson, and James Reeves are ones I recognize from last season. Kyle Holder and Brandon Wagner are new to me but joined Trenton after I’d stopped going to games in June.

Of note here is how different Holder’s signature looks from the certified one Kenny sent.

He also sent us three 2016 Staten Island Yankees sets. Only a couple of these guys are with Trenton. For now. Ben Ruta was on the team last year and Angel Aguilar was a late late promotion. Kenny suggests that a lot more of the guys in this set will make their way to Trenton before the year is up.

I like the way they signed in the white space on these cards. A marked difference compared to the the signed cards that Kenny sent me.

I’ll sit on my copies of the team sets for additional autograph purposes. The boys are already making noise about putting theirs in the binder. Yes they also want to get them signed. I’m going to have to talk to them about how it’s one or the other for now.

That finishes up my Zippy Zapping. Thanks Kenny for getting the new season off on the right foot!

I’m not sone with this post though because I also brought a few of my own cards as well. Jason Phillips is the Trenton bullpen coach but played catcher for the Mets for a few years. And I’d grabbed some 2018 Topps Heritage Minors cards from Tampa since that’s the lazy method of prospecting that appeals to my lower attention span. Unfortunately only Stephan showed up at this event.

The main autograph thing I was planning on working on was a team ball. I had one and I gave each of the boys one as well. I’m not planning on a compleat comprehensive ball but it’s nice to get one with 25 signatures on it. They’re good reminders of the event and the boys are both in love with theirs.

My ball is is an Official Eastern League ball. Supposedly they’re switching to the generic Official Minor League balls this year but I like having things being as specific as possible.

Image 2 is manager Patrick Osborn #13 who signed last but all the players left him the sweet spot.

Image 3: Brody Koerner #24, Trevor Stephan, Raul Dominguez #23, Jhalan Jackson #30, Mandy Alvarez #3, and Chris Gittens #34.

Image 4: Angel Aguilar #7, Kaleb Ort #29, Jeff Hendrix, Kyle Holder #6 and Bullpen Coach Jason Phillips.

Image 5: Pitching Coach Tim Norton #40, Jorge Saez #18, Francisco Diaz #8, Will Carter #11, Daniel Alvarez #31, and Trey Amburgey #15.

Image 6: Brandon Wagner #10, James Reeves #26, Ben Ruta, Wendell Rijo #12,
Nick Green #45, Trevor Lane #9, and Bat Boy Tommy Smith #48.

I like having the signed cards. I also like having the single ball as a memento. Small enough to store and display easily but also represents a memory, and set of memories much more than a card can.

I’m not going to run down the boy’s baseballs the same way since we all have the same signatures. I gave them the cheaper fake-leather balls since they have the Thunder branding and I was (correctly) expecting these to get beat up a little. Kids love their treasures but also tend to love them to death.

It’s a lot of fun to watch but also a serious marker into observing when they‘ll be ready for nicer things. They can graduate to real leather balls once they can buy them themselves and handle them better.

At least they’re happy having these in cubes and displayed in a place of honor on their desks. Could be worse. They could’ve been chucked into the big box of athletic equipment with all the other balls.

DSC_0158

All in all a very successful afternoon. Worst part of the day was getting them to calm down after we got home. They’re both amped and ready to go to their first game and are even asking to go early so we can watch BP. April 14 can’t come soon enough for them. Good thing they’re part of Boomer’s Kids Club. It’s going to be a fun spring.

So Marc exploded my mailbox

Marc Brubaker drops something in my mailbox so often that I may need to just commit to a monthly feature of posts about his maildays. I got another mailing early last week. Coming off a 4-day weekend and going into a snow day, the respite of sorting and cataloging cards was quite welcome.

One of the reasons Mark’s been able to send me so many packages and cards is that I’m building a few sets which are, for lack of a better word, junk. It’s cheaper  and easier to buy these as factory sets than it is to build them. But where’s the fun in that? Plus I already had hundreds of these as it is and the idea of those turning into duplicates makes me shudder.

Of course, that so many other people on Card Twitter have duplicates from these sets is what makes it so fun to build them by hand. Part of me is very grateful to be receiving help with these sets. And part of me knows that people like Marc are  just as grateful to be able to get rid of duplicates which are just wasting space in their homes.

Anyway these 1990 Fleers and Upper Decks don’t look like much but they take me to needing only 29 more Fleer cards and 37 Upper Decks. With 1991 Donruss only needing 22 cards to finish the set things are shaping up to a nice race to see which set finishes first.

I don’t have much to say about the cards themselves other than to note how despite being from the same year the gap in quality is kind of laughable. I actually like 1990 Fleer in its understated way but man Upper Deck blows it away on all fronts. I do like that Claudell Washington photo too.

Marc also included seventeen 2014 Topps cards to help with that set build. I’m over the 400 and past 60% on that build now too. The only problem is that since 75% of that build is in Series One it feels like I’m not even halfway there yet.

This set continues to grow on me too. I don’t like the file folder thing on the righthand side but other than that it’s a decent design. Some fun photos here too with the Denard Span and Russel Martin cards standing out in particular.

The real meat of this package looked to be in the big stack of Giants cards. The awful-airbrushed Rick Reuschel is an O-Pee-Chee card—something that’s always fun to encounter.* The Trevor Wilson and Kirt Manwaring Score cards are from one of their boxed sets that I apparently completely missed in the late-80s and now only have random cards from. Topps Big—even the less-exciting 1990s design— is always a treat.

*I’m especially tickled with the Reuschel because I just got an 88 Leaf Reuschel in a different mailing and had the same “is awesome” reaction. I never seek Canadian cards out but I always enjoy picking them up and hmm maybe I should listen to my emotions.

The complete set of 1992 Panini stickers is also a lot of fun. I avoided these when I was a kid. Stickers were clearly not cards to me. I sort of regret the decision now. As I’ve became more of a soccer fan I began to appreciate the Panini album culture a lot more. I’ve wanted to do one with my kids for the World Cup both because it looks fun and because it’s truly a global phenomenon that looks awesome to share in. Unfortunately I can’t justify the price for it. At all.

The other interesting thing about these stickers is that there are 9 stickers (plus a foil logo and a foil All Star) with a player for each position only there’s no starting pitcher. Also they’re not numbered based on scorekeeping order but instead go 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 ,8 ,7, 1—which makes me really curious to see how they were expected to be put into the book.

Some minor league fun in this next batch. Unfortunately I don’t recognize any of these names. Best part of this batch though is inching closer to completing some team sets. The Damon Minor Prospects card in particular finishes my 1999 Topps Giants set—my first complete team set from 1994–2006.

Other cards of interest in this batch are the Steve Scarsone 1994 Gold card and the Shawn Estes Metal Universe card. This is a much more sedate version of Metal universe than the multiple-armed Mark Gardner card Marc sent me previously. The Estes Fleer and Jeff Kent Ultra also deserve to be complimented on their photography.

I have an added appreciation for MLB Showdown now that someone’s posted the rules. Upper Deck Documentary continues to be wildly disappointing. In these three the “Left hander wins battle of Cy Young Award winners” card showing the clearly right-handed Matt Cain is most egregious in terms of not giving a shit about matching the photo to the event.

The Stan Lee First Pitch card is fantastic. RIP Stan. I don’t usually like these inserts but this is a clear exception. Especially now.

And rounding out the Giants with a few recent-year cards. The Andrew Suarez rookie is very nice given how he broke into the rotation last season. I dig the 2017 Heritage Team Card. Colored Posey parallel is interesting since I don’t chase these but have been curious to loupe them because of the way they deal with the 1983 border being extra-complicated is to fade out the spot ink. As such you can clearly see that it’s a spot ink being printed with an FM screen. The 2018 Donruss Madison Bumgarner is just nice to have because he didn’t have any Topps cards last year.

Moving into the Stanford portion of this mailing continues to surprise me with how many different guys Marc includes. Like I understand if he sends surplus Astros cards of the handful of Cardinal who have appeared in Houston over the years* but keeping track of everyone else? I have a hard time and it’s my own PC of guys who I watched play in college.

*Osuna, Bruntlett, Castro, Lowrie, and Hinch.

Lots of good stuff here too. Buechele and Castro stickers are definitely new. The Leaf Chitren is, surprisingly, also new to me. As are the Hammond Ultra, the Helling MVP and Metal Universes, and Hinch Victory. I’ve been focusing so much on mainline Topps issues that all these other brands are off my radar. It’s nice to have the samples and see how different they are compared to the Giants cards and I’m glad Marc’s an expert in this era of cards since so many people have no idea.

The Lonborg Swell is another great addition. Nice to have an action photo to go with all the portraits from his vintage cards. I also always like getting Topps Heritage. The brand is growing on me and I can enjoy it for what it does well even while it annoys me with some of its faux-retro styling. And I kind of miss those early Bowman years with the crazy foil borders.

A huge batch of Piscottys including a bunch of Donruss/Panini.* I don’t buy modern unlicensed Donruss cards so these are always fun to see in maildays since they’re a good bet to be brand new to me. The Topps Heritage (I’m assuming) card in the style of the late-60s/early-70s Topps Supers is my favorite here although the holiday card with the frozen waterslide amuses me more than it should.

*I never know what to call them.

The three Spragues included some Scores I never encountered as a kid and I wish I hadn’t already sent TTM requests to Stanicek and Williams since these would’ve been nice to include.

Four Scott Ericksons are a nice surprise. That they’re all from his time with the Orioles is especially welcome. I have a decent amount of his Twins cards but his later ones don’t show up in my collection.

I haven’t been hitting this project particularly hard. It’s become more of a passive collection where I will snag things as I come across them but am not looking to be comprehensive.

Now we’re getting to the fun part of the package. Marc was a member of the group of us who were making cards for the entire 2018 season. His set was one card per game plus complete roster, coaches, All Stars, and awards and he just finished earlier this month.

We’ve been sending each other samples from our sets. I sent him cards from the Astros games. He sent me cards where Stanford guys get mentioned—so both Hinch cards plus a game where the highlight was Stephen Piscotty hitting aa foul ball which got stuck in the stadium roof. I appreciate not getting cards from the season sweep that the Astros performed on the Giants.

Marc also included a couple other customs he made. The Hinch is in the style of 1962 Topps football. I’m not sure what the Castro is referencing but for all I know it could be jumping off of 1951 Bowman.

One of the things Marc and I have been discussing is how moving forward it’s becoming increasingly rewarding to make custom cards—both for ourselves and for other people. It’s a fun design challenge. It’s a gratifying photo editing experience. And for many of the people out on Card Twitter, making a custom of one of their favorite players is clearly a preferred way to thank them.

Marc decided to print his set professionally instead of doing so many cards at home. This was the correct decision but unfortunately he got tripped up by Acrobat’s “shrink to fit” defaults when he printed his first batch of cards. The result wasn’t a total loss since mini cards are one of those things that everyone likes and so Marc ended up with a bunch of fun mailday filler.

So I got mini cards of the five cards Marc intended to send me (full-size Hinch is included for scale) plus a couple of extras. Two of those extras are 1992 Bowman versions of some god-awful/wonderful photos from an Astros road trip in the early 1990s. Where 1991 Stadium Club and 1992 Topps had a few of these cards, 1992 Bowman featured so many photos of prospects in their peak-90s street clothes that it’s become the go-to template for any embarrassingly-dated fashion choices. The photos are hilarious. Putting them in the Bowman template makes them even funnier.

The other three are copies of my cards. Hunter Pence is the co-owner of Marc’s local coffee shop and Marc wanted to drop off a copy of my card featuring him saying good bye to the Giants faithful. I sent him a few JPGs of a couple different designs and they got caught up in the printing mishap. It’s fun to seem them as minis. It’s also fun to compare the difference in printing between Marc’s shop and Magcloud.

That’s not all though. This enigmatic team bag was quietly buried in the pile of other cards. Mark has sent stuff like this before but this is the first time something has been earmarked for the boys.

So I opened it up and found these. Marc obviously did more than just drop off some of my customs at the coffee shop. Let’s do some proper scans. Also I have a pretty good idea what’s hiding underneath all that blue painters tape now.

The boys will be very happy with this. Hunter Pence is a fan favorite for a reason and his Underpants nickname is precisely the kind of humor they love. I’m going to hold on to these for a while since my eldest has an autograph request out in the mail right now to Pat Neshek* and I don’t want to ruin the fun when that becomes his first active big league autograph.

*Yes this will be a post of its own once Neshek’s return gets here.

Pence will still be my son’s first Giants autograph and that will be special enough until he gets a Giants autograph in person.*

*His first Major Leaguer was Jay Bell last year.

And as I suspected once I saw the two signed 2015 Topps cards, I now have one of my customs signed. This is super cool. I’ve been sending out my customs to Spring Training since they’re fun to share. It’s wonderful to know that at least one player has seen them now.

I get the sense that the players truly appreciate the gesture and who knows, maybe in the next month or two I’ll have more signed customs in my autograph binder.

Thanks so much Marc! This mailer was awesome.