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.

30-day Baseball Card Challenge v2

I’ve been looking back on my 2018 post which reflected the beginning of my reintegration into the hobby and recognizing how much my collection and interests have shifted and grown in the past year. So rather than doing a belated New Year’s Resolutions post, it’s time to revisit Tony’s 30-day baseball card challenge.

I’m not sure if this will become a repeating post. It really depends on how much my answers change year-to-year. And since some of Tony’s prompts do not allow for change there may be a point where doing this again no longer works anyway. but for now I think I have new and improved answers for almost everything.

1. A card from the current year with a photo you like


2018 Topps Big League Ichiro

As with last year’s post, “current year” is going to be the previous year. I just really like this card with the photo of Ichiro’s back and all the fans. It’s a wonderful way to cap his career (yes I know he’s not officially officially retired) and shows how adored he is by the fans. He’s a great player who’s truly distinct in the game and we’re all that much richer for his having come to the US.

2. A card with more than one player on it


1941 Double Play Harry Gumbert / Burgess Whitehead

One of my collecting goals for 2019 is to go older and focus on pre-Topps-monopoly cards. I’m also trying to acquire cards from sets that I have no samples of. This 1941 Double Play card is one such example. It’s a fun set and I love how there are two different orientations—horizontal for portraits, vertical for action. I got my first examples early this year and they’ve made me very happy.

3. A card from the first set you tried to complete


1986 Topps Bob Brenly

I started collecting cards in 1987 so while I didn’t explicitly purchase packs of 1986 Topps, I ended up accumulating a lot of it. I found a couple hundred of them at my parents’ house and decided hat I should try and complete the set the “hard” way now. It’s been fun. It hits a lot of feelings as I look at the cards and reminds me of the great unknown and potential collecting possibilities that opened up to me back when I was nine years old. Collecting the current year was safe. Collecting last year was the first step toward collecting the year before that, and the year before that…

4. A rookie card of one of your favorite players

Matt Williams 1988 Topps
1988 Topps Matt Williams

Not going to get into the “what’s a Rookie Card” discussion this year. Where picking Will Clark last year was easy I’ve found it hard to pick someone else this year. I’ve found favorite in this case to have to be a Giant who I watched when I was little and whose career tailed off about the same time my interest in the game tailed off in the mid-2000s. There aren’t many guys who fit this profile but Matt Williams does.

It was fun to see him go from that pinch-hitting late-game Shortstop to the slugging starting Third Baseman. It was fun to watch him do his Babe Ruth impersonation on Turn Back the Clock day. And it was fun to watch him just field his position and show he was more than a slugger.

5. A certified autograph card of one of my favorite players.


1996 Leaf Signatures Mike Aldrete

Mike Aldrete will always be one of my favorite players because he was one of my first in-person autographs. That I don’t have many certified autograph cards makes this an easy choice for this slot. I like this one because it fills a hole and is the only card representing his time with the Yankees.

6. A card you spent more than $10 to get


1953 Topps Monte Irvin

A bargain bin find but a beaut of a card of a Giants Hall of Famer. This is also the oldest card of a Hall of Famer that I own. It’s a bit embarrassing that it took the Giants so long to retire his number but he totally deserves the honor for his career, his status as one of the first Black baseball players to play for the franchise, and his presence in mentoring Willie Mays.

7. A card you bought in person and the story behind it.


1950 Bowman Mario Pieretti

Sometimes you just can’t say no. While the first night game occurred in 1935, cards depicting nighttime baseball are pretty uncommon until the 1970s—and even there frequently limited to the post-season subsets. Which is a shame because the cards showing the light standards are all kind of wonderful.

This Pieretti is the oldest night card baseball Twitter has found so far. I was unaware of this when I bought it. I was just stuck by the artwork and how nice the light standards looked. 1950 Bowman is one of my favorite sets and yeah, I couldn’t say no even though it doesn’t “fit” anywhere in my collection.

8. A card that reminds you of a family member


2017 Topps Update Austin Slater

My son gave me this card for Christmas a couple years ago. He’d pulled it from a pack and was excited to get a Giant. I told him it was also a Stanford guy. Since he already knows what I collect he took it upon himself to wrap it up nicely in an envelope and slip it into my stocking. So yes whenever I see it I’ll remember that a little boy raided his collection to find a card he knew his father would like.

9. One of your favorite cards from the 1950s


1955 Bowman Roger Bowman

The only reason I own this is because it’s a Bowman card featuring a player named Bowman. It’s a ridiculously stupid reason to buy a card (also why I was fine with it being so beat up). But I’ve yet to run into a collector who isn’t amused by this.

10. One of your favorite cards from the 1960s

Frank Robinson 1961 Topps
1961 Topps Frank Robinson All Star

I mentioned this card previously but for a long time this was my most-favorite non-Giants card. I’m ashamed to say that it was because it was also the highest book value card I owned back then but yeah that was part of it. But it was also a vintage card of a Hall of Famer in that super-cool All Star design. Plus that Reds uniform is fantastic.

11. One of your favorite cards from the 1970s


1974 Topps Dave Kingman

This is straight up modern art. Crazy catadioptric bokeh. High-contrast light and printing. I want to say that they just don’t make cards like this anymore but they didn’t make them like this back then either.

12. One of your favorite cards from the 1980s


1983 Fleer Duane Kuiper

Fleer has a number of wonderfully goofy photos in the 1980s but Kuip with the broken bat is the only Giants card of the bunch. It never fails to make me smile

13. One of your favorite cards from the 1990s

 

1999 Bowman International Ntema Ndungidi

I’ve joked that I could write 2000 words about this card. I won’t but I’ll briefly touch on everything I love about it. I love that it’s a non-English language parallel. I love that it appears to be in Lingala. I love that the height and weight are not only in metric but are written using a comma as the decimal operator. I love that it represents a country that no longer exists—by 1999 Zaire was no longer a country and was instead the Republic of Congo.

And I’ve come to be fascinated by how Topps manufactures Chrome cards. I don’t like Chrome as a product but the process of printing the image on the backside of the plastic* and then fusing it to the foil-faced cardstock was kind of a wonderful thing to realize.

*Chrome printing plate cards are reversed image.

14. One of your favorite cards from the 2000s


2009 O Pee Chee Randy Johnson

I had hard time picking anything from this decade but having had a lot more experience in this area over the past year I’ve found myself increasingly appreciative of the 2009 O Pee Chee release and how it’s one of the few releases in the past tow decades that feels like how cards used to feel without being an explicit rip-off of something else.

We’ve had Fleer Tradition and Topps Heritage and Upper Deck Vintage all trying to capitalize on nostalgia by trotting out old designs, or cards inspired by old designs* but the underlying message is that current-year cards have to look different. Glossy. Foil-stamped. Action-packed. Etc.

*And I get it. I do the exact same thing when I’m making customs.

2009 O Pee Chee is none of those. It’s an original design that feels like it could be from any year back to 1957. I selected the Randy Johnson because his cameo with the Giants is sufficiently weird. But I also like the wide angle photo and sever foreshortening effect.

15. One of your favorite cards from the 2010s


2017 Allen & Ginter Krazy George Mini

I really don’t like Ginter. It just feels so effortful but pleased with itself for being so damn clever. The photo processing bugs me. The gimmicks bug me. The price bugs me. I refuse to buy it and reward Topps for this kind of thing.

And yet I’m beginning to see the appeal. It’s a horrible baseball card set. It’s a fascinating set for all the other stuff and playing with the concept of who deserves to be on a trading card and what other kinds of people should be recognized. The political and famous ones are often interesting but as a Bay Area native I was particularly pleased to see Krazy George make an appearance a couple years ago.

I grew up with this guy and his drum and his jorts. I sort of rolled my eyes when he was at Candlestick* but seeing him in the sun at The Coliseum or San José Muni or Spartan Stadium? Perfect.

*His shtick didn’t quite fit the Candlestick gestalt.

This card reminds me of my youth and a simpler age of going to ball games. The mini makes it just a little more fun. I’m happy Topps threw a bone to the West Coast with this. Now if only they could make a Ginter card of Emperor Norton…

16. A card of a player who you appreciate but don’t like


1990 Topps Paul O’Neill

You know that one player who always killed your team? That was Paul O’Neill for the Giants when I was a kid. He was always the guy with the clutch hit right when the pitcher was about to work out of a jam. He was the one who broke up the only no-hitter I’ve come close to seeing live. He was always there tormenting the Giants.

My family called him “Oh, him again” because it was always him. Again and again and again.

17. A card from the first set you put together hand collated

Still blank. Still working on 1978 Topps, 1986 Topps, 1990 Fleer, 1990 Upper Deck, and 1991 Donruss. One of them should be finished this year though.

18. A card of a player who managed your favorite team


1986 Topps Dusty Baker

May as well pick up with the manager who succeeded Roger Craig. I got this signed in Spring Training 1993 when he was brand new. Have to say that even though the ending wasn’t so great I was mostly happy with the team while he was in charge.

19. A favorite card from a country other than the United States


1976 Calbee Sadaharu Oh

It feels like a bit of a cop out to go with another Oh card but after having these Calbees for a year I’ve found I like them even more than I did when I got them. There’s something just satisfying about these as objects with the thick card stock and the slightly smaller size. Plus the photography is so different from what Topps was doing at the time.

This Oh, with its night game, low angle view from directly behind the plate, and perfectly timed photo which captures Oh’s distinctive leg kick is a winner all around.

20. Your favorite parallel card based on the parallel


1975 Topps Mini Hank Aaron

1975 Minis will always be fun. For some reason I had three of these—including this Aaron—when I was a kid but only the solitary Tito Fuentes from the regular base cards. Because I had this stored with my oddballs I didn’t remember I had a vintage Hank Aaron until I revisited my collection at my parents’ house.

I admit to not understanding the current yearly release of mini parallels but the 1975 ones are special. Something about how they were the only mini cards until Topps started releasing the mini leaders in 1986 made them distinct.

21. A card of a rookie you thought you were “investing” in


1991 Mike Mussina

I sort of covered this previously. This was the only rookie autograph that didn’t bust within a year of me acquiring it and I’m still riding that high of him getting into Cooperstown.

22. A card of a common player that always seemed to elude you


2002 Topps Traded Rick Helling

Not a player who I cant find but a card that continues to elude me. I’ve found it in Chrome, Gold, and Refracter versions but for some reason the base card is impossible to find except when it costs twice as much as any of the others. And yeah I refuse to spend that much on a base card.

23. A favorite oddball card from the 1950s


1952 Mothers Cookies Bill Boemler

I’m an admitted Mothers Cookies fanatic but I never expected to get any from its first sets in the early 1950s. However I found one for a good price recently and am very happy to have this Bill Boemler in my collection. That it’s a San Francisco Seals card is especially nice.

24. A favorite oddball card from the 1960s


1967 Dexter Press Willie Mays

Another card I never expected to own. The Giants Dexters are tough to find ungraded—let alone affordable, let alone Mays—but sometimes you get lucky. Their reputation is fully deserved and the printing is such that they look much better in person than they do in any scans or web images.

25. A favorite oddball card from the 1970s


1970 Kellogg’s Willie McCovey

I love lenticular cards. This McCovey from the first year of Kellogg’s 3D issues was in a surprise mailday of many cool items but stood head and shoulders above them all. Like the Dexter, this card just can’t scan well. Not only does the 3D not translate, the crispness of the portrait is lost too. These 3Ds look so much better in person and are bizarrely sharp compared to the usual standard of late-69s, early-70s printing and registration.

26. A favorite oddball card from the 1980s


1986 Mothers Cookies Greg Minton

If Greg Minton’s 1978 card is famous for its awful airbrushing and colorization, this 1986 Mothers deserves to be as well known for its goofball pose.

27. A favorite oddball card from 1990 or later


1993 Fleer Fruit of the Loom Will Clark

🎶Cards were everywhere, man
Cards were everywhere, man
With food and gas I swear, man
Even in underwear, man🎶

I don’t exactly like this card. I do however love the idea that it came with underwear. If that’s not the definitive example of the nature of the hobby in the early 1990s and how cards were literally everywhere, I don’t know what is.

Also, as with the Fantastic Sams discs, I kind of wonder about the viability of making this a 66-card set. Yes I know that they came in packs of six but that’s still a best-case scenario of purchasing 11 packages of underwear for a set and that’s neither an impulse purchase nor something a kid’s going to save his allowance for.

28. A favorite relic/manufactured relic card


2016 Diamond Kings Mel Ott

I’m still not a fan of relics or the idea of cutting up old equipment to insert them in one-inch squares into cards. I do however find them fascinating in terms of just how they’re made. This Ott is probably the best example I have. It’s not just a relic but a couple different kinds of paper and printing methods.

29. A favorite card from before 1950. Whether you own it or not


1934–36 National Chicle Diamond Stars R327 Carl Hubbell

I wish I owned this. One of these day I’d love to try and get vintage cards of all the Giants retired numbers. I have the most-recent seven of the twelve players. Hubbell (and Ott) are the next most-recent. I don’t have any specific cards in mind for which ones I like but this Hubbell is one I’ve long admired for both the quality of the portrait as well as the wonderful colors and detail in the background.

30. Your favorite card in your collection

Del Baker 1917 Zee Nut
1917 Zeenut Del Baker

Unchanged from last year. My oldest baseball card. My oldest San Francisco card. And one that reminds me of my Grandmothers’ house.

FINAL COUNTS

For the sake of keeping score and breaking things up in various ways.

14: Giants
13: Topps
12: San Francisco
7: Food
5: Autographs, New York, Retired Numbers, 1980s, 1990s
4: Stanford, 1950s, 1970s, 2010s
3: Bowman
2: Mothers Cookies, Orioles, Reds, 1960s, 2000s

Dimebox Winnings

So about month or so ago Dimebox Nick (it feels weird for me to call him Nick even if I’m “other Nick”) celebrated his seventh anniversary of blogging by running a little contest. It was an easy one to enter as his blog is enjoyable and he deserves all the congratulations he gets. My blog has been all over the map in the eight years it’s been running and I’m surprised anyone not related to me still reads it.

Anyway a bit of his, and his father’s, luck rubbed off on me and I ended up winning the contest! A few days before Christmas a good-sized box of cards showed up in my mailbox and while I couldn’t dig in in earnest super quick I was able to pop it open and take a quick look.

The Chris Speier Pepsi disc was exciting enough and I could see a decent stack of old cardboard in one end of the box. This was a great way to usher in the holiday and the first thing I did when I did get a chance to crack into the box in earnest was penny sleeve all the old vintage so that I didn’t feel like I had to handle everything with kid gloves.

Where it’s completely obvious to protect a card that it’s good shape in order to keep it from getting damaged, I’ve found that it’s in the lower end where I want things to be in sleeves or semi-rigids. As surfaces get rougher and edges and corners get softer, they just feel like they’ll catch on things and damage themselves even further. So as silly as it seems I put the damaged cards in sleeves so I can sort of arrest the damage and actually feel comfortable flipping through them.

This batch of well-loved 1963s is a good example of the condition. These must have been peak flipping age for the original owner since they’re soft and scuffed all over. Many still present well enough though despite the damage—a testament to the strong colors and graphics in this design.

I really like the Pizarro card with its Yankees Stadium background and how you can see the Polo Grounds outfield stands on Oldis’s card. There’s also something classically perfect about the Fregosi card.

It’s also always nice to get any card which predates the 1960s so the 1959 Simmons is very much appreciated. And the 1960 Dick Hall with the Kansas City A’s a great fit for my moves/expansion project. While not a year I’m focusing on for the A’s, pretty much any card from Kansas City has a place in the binder.

The 1965s are all great. The Juan Marichal is a beaut, as is the Same Mele with that classic “manager” pose. The Jesus Alou is one I needed too so that’s awesome.

The 1966s are a lot of fun as well. The Rusty Staub is great. I love DIY traded cards like the Cepeda even though it pains me to be reminded of his trade to St. Louis. Woody Held is an all-time great name and I’ll always have a soft spot for Bill Rigney as the first San Francisco manager. I especially enjoyed seeing Donn Clendennon whatwith my Clendennon/Stargell card from this year being one of the few old card in my childhood collection.

Lots of purple in the 1967s. As much as I dislike facsimile signatures this is a nice looking photo-centered set. I especially like the Roy Face card because of all the wonderful things going on in the background. Bob Bolin is actually an upgrade on my existing card. Zoilo Versailles is just a classic look and Mack Jones is a great picture of the new Braves unis.*

*My 1966 Braves cards are all hatless.

The 1968 Don Sutton is pretty beat up but fits nicely in my Hall of Fame binder. He looks so weird without that 80s perm I knew him with (I loved his cards in the 80s since they had tons of stats). The Orioles team card is a fun photo. And that Lee May is a nice-looking 69. It’s a shame that that set is known for hatless  photos, blacked out caps, and massive photo re-use since when proper photos are used the design really sings.

The 1970 cards feature none of the wild/weird photography that I especially love in this set. These, while pretty straightforward, still show the change in camera format that occurred in this time with how they show so much more background image (compare the 1967 Face with the Dal Canton here). I particularly like the Roberto Pena card showing the Padres uniforms and the Max Alvis card with the huge chaw in his cheek.

Also that 1970 Kelloggs 3D card is fantastic and represents my first card from this set. Anything lenticular is my jam and this is now my oldest example by far of any kind of lenticular card. Is awesome.

The three 1971s are kind of beat up but still look great. I especially like the photo on the Dal Maxvill card and how much space we have for the action image. It’s not a great look in general but for some reason works in this design.

The two 1972s include my first first-year Rangers card. Having looked at the gallery of first-year Rangers cards it’s an amazingly awful collection of up-nostril photos. I still would like to get a few more of them but I may have to pick up some 1973 Rangers as well.

Of the 1973s I’m pleased to have a few of the perak-1973 photos ones like the Mike Epstein where it’s not clear who the focus of the card is supposed to be on. Such a weird set this was with bizarre photos like the Epstein and then fantastic ones like Vida Blue’s or Ken Singleton’s.

As always I love seeing Candlestick creep into the background of cards so the Jimmy Wynn makes me particularly happy. And speaking of backgrounds good lord that George Scott is a disaster.

The 1974s are also fun. Wynn’s card is again at The Stick. As is JR Richard’s first solo card. I love the Frank Robbinson and that Concepcion is some peak 1970s action photography that looks like it was shot using a 200mm lens when a 400mm or longer was what was needed. It doesn’t work as well on the 1974 design as it does on the 1971. As much as I dislike facsimile signatures, they are a great way of dealing with all that empty space.

To 1975 and I was very happy to find a handful of minis. I love these no matter who they depict but the Charlie Hough is my favorite here. The regular 1975s are also great with two Hall of Famers plus a Bay Area legend.

The crazy colors in 1975 have been growing on me. I can’t say that I like them in general but I have found myself liking them more when the colors work for the team in question. So the red/blue combination on the Dodgers* or the yellow/green on the A’s is great. Orange/Brown for the Orioles is also close enough. Heck the Cyan text on the red baqckground for the Phillies also works.

*Jim Brewer’s card is another Candlestick photo too.

And back the the Charlie Hough, while the yellow and green are not Dodgers colors, I suspect that the best-looking cards in this set are all taken at Dodger Stadium since the colors of the stands end up working with whatever the border colors are.

Some nice star power in the 1976s with Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, and Phil Niekro* as well as two team cards featuring Hall of Fame managers. 1976 is a great set. Good photos. Nice colors. Clean fun design. I think it’s my favorite of the decade now.

*Hello Candlestick!

The 1977 Nolan Ryan recordbreaker is great but in this batch it’s the oddballs which steal the show. I’m extremely unfamiliar with both Hostess and Kellogg’s releases. They predate my previous collecting experience so just getting one here or there is a treat even if they’re off grade.

The Hostess, Kellogg’s, and Pepsi disc were the only 1970s oddballs but Nick also included a bunch of more-recent oddballs as well. these are a ton of fun.

The samples from early-80s greatest-players sets reminds me of how much I learned about the sport from these cards (something we’re sadly missing today which makes it harder for my sons’ generation to learn about the game)/

The Burger King minor league card is great. Star Stickers are one of my favorite things. I love the handful of cards from those ubiquitous retail boxed sets that I could never get enough of but convinced myself to stop buying since they weren’t worth anything.* Sportflics!

*Seriously those 33 or 44 card sets (one third or one fourth of a standard 132-card sheet) were everywhere and usually only cost a couple bucks. I should never have let myself get talked into thinking they were a waste of time. Aside from being a wonderful slice of who the biggest players and rookies in the game were, they also provide a window into what companies and logos were in existence at the time. Looking at them now is as much a time capsule into the retail experience of the day without even considering the baseball stuff.

The two super-generic Post cards featuring players who are distinct in the history of the game are my favorites here though. I don’t think we’ll ever see another player like either Jim Abbott or Bo Jackson.

Finishing up the oddballs. Collect-a-books are the best is a total junk kind of way. I know a lot of guys toss them now but I feel like I should get a lot and give them to my kids. I’m kind of faxinated by how they’re made too.

The McDonals Jim Abbott is tons of fun. As is the glow-in-the-dark Jeff Bagwell aard/sticker. SI for Kids is also always nice to see. I didn’t have a subscription and never collected much of those cards and I feel like I totally missed out now.

Three Canadian issues are great. I love the 85 Leaf design which replaces the Donross logo with a literal leaf. OPC on the other hand is always a nice reminder at how white card stock looks so much better than the regular grey that Topps used.

And three Panini stickers round out the stack here. These at least are card-sized though I never know exactly how to treat them.

Into the more-specific collections now. Three action-related cards, all of which are most welcome and all of which are awesome in their own ways

Two Brewers which finish my 2017 Update set. Thanks! This is the first set I’ve hand-collated and sort of celebrates my first year back in the hobby.

And a bunch of silly photos which I don’t think are supposed to hit any of my collections but which I admit are a the kind of cards that are hard to not want to keep. I miss this kind of fun on cards and I’m surprised that none of these are Fleer since this used to be Fleer’s bread and butter.

The next batch is a bunch of random oddballs and inserts. Some of these I think are intended to fit with my expansion and moves project and feature teams that no longer exist (same with the all-time greats cards). Others are a mish mash of fun stuff. A appreciate that the announcer cards are all former players and the Bull Durham and Sandlot cards are pretty enjoyable.

Most of the rest of the box was filled with Giants. A few 1980s ones including a fantastic Revco oddball, an equally awesome Circle K Orlando Cepeda, my first 1987 Leaf, Baseball Hall of Shame cards,* and a half of the Giants 1987 Opening Day lineup.

*Loved these books when I was a kid. Never knew there were cards of the events in them.

The 1990 Classic Gary Carter is peak 1990 and the 191 Donruss Rookies look really weird compared to the regular 1991 Donruss design.

Into the 1990s with three Sporting News Charles Conlon cards. I love the photography on this set. I kind of wish the set design were a little bit nicer though. I’ve not much new to say about the rest of the cards except to point out that that chrome card of the New York Giants is from a Phil Rizutto set and looks really really weird. I’m not sure who thought chrome was a good idea for old-timey photography* but it rarely looks good.

*Yes I know tintypes and daguerrotypes do actually shine when they’re new.

To the 2000s now. A few placeholder reprints for cards I’m unlikely to every acquire are nice.I kind of like that Upper Deck Playball design. That I enjoy seeing cards from the 2002 playoffs suggests that I’m finally over that loss.

The 2006 refracter Jason Schmidt is sure something. I know a lot of collectors love this kind of thing but it falls into the category of “glad I have one; not gonna search for another now” for me.

2008 Opening Day looks really weird to me with that red background. I actually like the circus ball design when they’re colored. I really don’y like it here. 2009 O-Pee-Chee is a nice-looking throwback-feeling set even when it’s got a black border variant.

The Christy Mathewson mini will look great in my page of minis. I’ve been slowly accumulating various tobacco-sized mini cards and instead of keeping them mixed in by year with the rest of the cards, I’ve been putting them together in one 20-pocket page The whole batch is a lot of fun to look at all together.

Another mini which I think will push me over the 20-card mark and onto a second page. I really like the Pablo Sandoval Venezuela card. The Matt Cain rookie reprint confused the hell out of me and is one of the worst things Topps has ever printed.

The two Panini cards are both nice. Hometown Heroes is a fun set and the Carl Hubbell Cooperstown is one of the few sets which allow kids to learn about players from the past.

The Buster Posey 1972 mini is better than it has any right to be. The 1972 design has enough going on that seems to do well with all kinds of photos. And the Madison Bumgarner Stadium Club is one of the better Bumgarner cards Topps has produced. Topps seems to love using the worst photos of him on cards and I’m not at all surprised that he’s opted out of the contract now.

I kind of like Panini Golden Age too. It’s always nice to see Jim Thorpe on a card. I love the Monte Irvin and Marco Scutaro Stadium Club cards. The three 2016 Topps Update cards almost finish my Giants team set.

Into 2017 with a Mark Melancon Stadium Club that I needed for my set build as well as a Johnny Cueto insert. I actually like the 2017 Allen & Ginter design and Willie McCovey looks great in it. I’m not so keen on the colorized Monte Irvin Archives photo but the photo itself with all those bats is wonderful. I also typically don’t like how Topps does the 1960 desig because it never fully-justifies the player name so I’m very happy that Brandon Crawford’s name is so long that Topps had no choice but to fill the entire space.

The Willie McCovey Topps Fire is nice to add as an example of the set. I’m very happy to have the Brandon Crawford National Baseball Card Day card. And I really like the 1983-designed Donruss cards.

On to 2018 with a fun gold parallel of Brandon Crawford and a bunch of Chrome, Archives, Ginter, Heritage, and Big League. Not much to say here except to note that I was tickled to see Topps had chosen the same photo for Ty Blach that I did for my GiantsNow set.

And finally more 2018s with a bunch of Gypsy Queen as well as some Panini and Donruss. I’ve already covered the weirdness in how Gypsy Queen was printed* as well as my reaction to Diamond Kings but these are some of the first regular Donruss cards I’ve gotten. I’ve never loved the 1984 design as much as others but I have to admit that it’s fun for me to see it come back like this.

*I should probably do a scan and post about this.

Moving on from the Giants. There were also a few “hits” in the box as well. The two autos from 2018 products—Víctor Arano on Topps Fire and Zack Cozart on Flagship—are the most fun. Even though they’re stickers these are at least decent signatures. The Brandon Shipley autographed relic tends a bit toward the generic with the plain black cloth, stickergraph and logoless photo not really adding up to the most cempelling card.

The other two relics fare better. The Fu-Te Ni World Baseball Classic card is a nice design with the World Baseball Classic logo really lending itself to a nice colorful card. And the Mike Lowell actually looks like it’s been used. I often chuckle at people who get excited about seeing a pinstripe or something in their swatch but I have to admit that compared to a plain-white swatch the pinstripe at least feels like it’s from a uniform.

The Buster Posey manufactured relic meanwhile is a beast of an item with a hefty slug of metal in it. I still don’t get the point of these but I’d love to see a video about how they’re made.

Deep breath.

That still was not all. Besides all the random cards in the box there was another box of cards. Nick included the complete 50-card Topps Stadium Club Charter Member set. It’a a wonderful slice of the sports zeitgeist in 1990 and 1991. While being heavily weighted toward baseball* there are football and hockey highlights and award winners as well.

*32 cards compared to 9 each for football and hockey. I guess Topps didn’t have a basketball license these years.

It’s a fun set to look through and takes me right back to being in junior high when all these players were the guys we wanted to collect and Stadium Club was the most desirable set in town. Unlike a lot of the Stadium Club baseball set, these photos have aged a bit better although Topps clearly had problems with hockey photos and getting the right color temperature.

The backs are the always-fun newspaper format. If I were to do highlights for my Giants set next season I’d very much consider aping this kind of thing. It‘s a great way to instantly trigger that date-specific feeling. These backs are also interesting in that there’s no set numbering. I chose to order the cards by date so as to best capture the sense of the sporting year.

Very very cool stuff Nick. May your dimebox searches continue to be as fruitful as they have been in the past years. And may your dad maintain his amazing midas touch in finding cardboard bargains. Thanks so much for sharing just a slice of the goodness you come across and good luck with the next seven years of blogging.

Merry Christmas from Artie

One of the best things about blogging over at SABR Baseball Cards has been the community of other bloggers and commenters who hang out in the comments of the posts. I’m always disappointed when I write a post that doesn’t generate a lot of discussion (yes I know that many of my posts veer into the esoteric and aren’t particularly conducive to multiple opinions). Of the regular commenters, Artie Zillante’s are frequently interesting and insightful.

Arie doesn’t exist on Twitter and his blog is kind of fallow so I only know him through the comments. So I was a little surprised when he reached out to me through this blog saying he had a bunch of more-recent Giants cards that would knock off a lot of things on my searchlists.

I’d put off specifically completing more-recent (well, anything from 1994–present) Giants team sets when I first got back into the hobby but after Adam’s massive mailing I realized that I had critical mass to attempt completing most of the Topps and Upper Deck sets over that period. So I put up searchlists to mark my path toward completing those and that’s what caught Artie’s eye.

Is funny how having cards begets getting more cards.

Anyway, continuing from Peter, Artie’s box was my third mailday last Friday and as promised, it was chock-full of Giants cards.

I don’t have much to say about a lot of these since I’ve already commented on the general designs in previous posts. But it’s great to cross off a few years of team sets and get really close on a few others.

Team set highlights include 1991 Studio and 1992 Pinnacle. Those are two sets I loved as a kid. Studio is one of my favorite sets ever as it really changed my perception of what a card could be with those wonderful black and white photos. Pinnacle meanwhile is one I just like the look of. It’s very of its time but not in a horrible way.

A big stack of 1993 Upper Deck is also nice and represents another fantastic design from my youth. Same with 1994 Stadium Club and its peak 1990s grunge/type explosion look. I love love love that 1995 Topps Royce Clayton card with the multiple exposure image and man that 1995 Score Rod Beck is kind of a gut punch reminder of how we lost Shooter way too soon.

Moving into 1996–2006 and I’m kind of tapped out on design comments. Only a couple things caught my eye this time. That weird rectangle of image above the names on the 2001 Topps design somehow slipped my attention until now. I’ve tended to like that dark grey/green spot color border but that weird rectangle is all I see now. And on the 2005 design it really weirds me out that Topps used different fonts for Felipe and Moises Alou.

Other than that and I enjoyed seeing the red ribbon on the 1996 Darren Lewis Collectors Choice card. In the mid 1990s, Until There’s a Cure Day was a big statement by the Giants and it’s nice to see that that support of AIDS victims made it out into the hobby as well.

The more-recent cards from the past decade or so. The Posey rookie is very generous. I somehow missed out on the 2013 World Series Highlight card until now. And this kills my 2014 Giants team set as well.

The most fun part of the mailing involved seven 1974 Topps All Star cards which leave me one card from completing the Bobby Bonds puzzle. I only just found out about this puzzle and put it on my searchlist.

I didn’t grow up in the age of puzzle backs. Garbage Pail Kids had them. Baseball cards did not. I have no idea if I would have liked them as a kid. I suspect though that I would not have been a fan unless the puzzles could fit in binder pages.

So ideally 6 or 9-card puzzles but an 8-card puzzle like this is also okay since it pages up nicely in an 8-pocket sheet. I’d love to see Topps bring these back though. I’ve thought for a while that an kid-friendly set like Opening Day would be the perfect place for puzzle backs. 9 cards per team with puzzle backs for a tenth team image. 30 teams gives a decent-sized 270-card set.

It wasn’t just Giants cards though. Artie included this equal-parts wonderful and horrifying VJ Lovero subset card of Mike Piazza. Let’s just say that between the Parent Trap double exposure, completely-blank box of cereal, and life-size Tommy Lasorda cutout that’s black and white for the extra mindfuck factor and then you notice it’s a towel rack, I have no idea what the hell is going on.

This would normally be a bad thing but in this case it’s so bad and so clearly intentional that it’s good. Go big or go home.

And this fantastic Mike Aldrete autograph just happens to be the only card I’ve found of Aldrete as a Yankee. I don’t need the auto (it’s only really worth a buck and I have a bunch already including one of my first in-persons) but I’ve recently revamped my Stanford searchlist to be as representative of each player’s career; getting a card from each team he played for is a key part of that.

This was great Artie. I’m starting a pile for you now and will see what I can find to send back in thanks.

Better than Ted Cruz

On the heels of my mailday from Shane, I received another batch of 1978s from Mark Armour (@MarkArmour04). As the co-founder of the SABR Baseball Cards committee/blog, Mark in many ways bears much of the responsibility for pushing me back into the hobby by reminding me of all the things I liked about cards and encouraging me to think about them as sitting on the intersection of my print and photography interests.

Mark has a formidable collection of vintage Topps sets and apparently a ton of 1978 duplicates which he checked against my searchlist when he realized I was trying to complete the set.

It’s funny, I think I’ve been completing this set a bit like Zeno: somewhat easily completing half the set, then getting the next quarter, then the next eighth, etc. This latest batch cut my searchlist in half to where I only need 35 more cards. Yay! There’s an every-increasing light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately half of those 35 are Hall of Famers and I’ll probably have to knock them off one by one in order to finish this off.

Mark’s batch didn’t have any Hall of Famers but did include a number of stars like George Foster, Vida Blue, and Dave Parker—all of whom are especially welcome in the binder. For a few years in there those guys were among the best in the game. Despite ultimately falling short, in some ways it’s those semi-stars who most define an age because their peaks were so brief.

For me, as alate-80s Giants fan, seeing cards of young Mike Krukow and Bill Fahey is especially enjoyable. I knew Krukow as the ace of the staff (though by the time I was a full-blown fan he never measured up to his 1986 season) and Fahey was one of the coaches. Seeing them as players in the 70s is both weird and wonderful.

The other card of note to me is that Bruce Kison card which looks like it was taken at Candlestick (it sure doesn’t look like Three Rivers to me) only the Pirates are wearing their white home jersey. The Giants weren’t wearing orange at home yet so I have no idea what’s going on in this photo. Did both teams just wear whites and have different colored pants?

Anyway Mark completed eight more pages and it’s just exciting to see the binder fill in that way. It’s one thing to cross stuff off a checklist, it’s quite another to actually slide the card into a pocket and provide that tactile sense of completion. I suspect that that’s the most enjoyable portion of building a set by hand.

Tucked in among the 1978 Topps cards was this surprise. It’s much much preferable to Mark’s previous surprise. While I have problems with Heritage and the way that Giants cards in particular tend to feature those awful black training jerseys, the 1965 design is one of my favorite Topps designs of all time and I really like that it doesn’t feature any of that “please sign here” screened-out image that Topps does with most of its signed cards now.

Joe Panik is also a welcome autograph for any Giants fan. He’s not blossomed into the star we hoped he could be and, as such, his signature is one of those cards that most people would be disappointed to have as their box hit. But I’ve enjoyed having him on the team—both as a player as one of their more personable characters in the advertisements and media outreach.

Very cool Mark. Thanks for pulling me back into the hobby and thanks for getting me so close to finishing my set that I can almost taste it.

WaxPack Surprise

A couple weeks ago when I went to get the mail, I found a small box addressed to me. I didn’t recognize the sender and couldn’t remember making any ebay purchases or signing up for any breaks. But that didn’t stop me from staring at it for five minutes to figure out if I was having a senior moment.

I shouldn’t have worried. Turns out it was a surprise package from Steve (@WaxPack916). He’s one of the more active TTM senders on Twitter and it’s always fun to see his returns. He also just started blogging in the past year and is in general just a good guy on Card Twitter.

Highlights of the package are three signed cards. When sending out requests it’s pretty common to send a couple cards out at a time so I’m assuming these are extras from successful returns.

Bergman and Summers fall into the category of guys whose cards I’d run into as a kid but never actually saw them play for the team. By the time I was a fan, Bergman was in the AL so I didn’t get to see him play and Summers’s career was over. Instead they were characters in the backstory of trauma and the days where the highlight of the decade was knocking the Dodgers out of the playoffs in 1982. Things I just was expected to know as a fan. So know them I did.

Bob Brenly though is a favorite. I’ve mentioned him before on here. He was a favorite as a player and later on, as a coach whose refreshingly candid post-game show was something we looked forward to after every game. I’m just not used to him with the mustache. It looks so weird.

These are the first signed 1983 Donruss cards I have as well. It’s a simple design that works pretty well with the signatures. The 1984 Topps cards though work really well. I especially like the geometric magenta and teal 1980s-ness on Summers card and the way he signed it vertically.

Steve included a few shiny cards in the package as well. The 1993 Denny’s card is fantastic and comes from one of my favorite oddball sets of all time. The 2001 Elite JT Snow confused the hell out of my scanner. It’s bright silver but scans black with more dust than any photo negative I’ve scanned. And the gold Willie Mays is a 2012 Factory set insert. I’m not so sure how many different Mays cards were available but a gold chrome version of the 1953 design feels wildly contradictory.

A handful of other Giants filled out the team bag and reminded me of how poor the Giants drafting was in the early 1990s. Steve’s custom card meanwhile is encouraging me to consider designing one of my own as well.

There was also a bag of pocket schedules. I don’t explicitly collect these but they’re always fun to look at. Minor league ones are always especially interesting in terms of seeing what kinds of promotions are listed and which player gets highlighted on the cover.

And last but not least there were two coins from 2018 Archives. Since this isn’t a product I’ve purchased it’s fun to see these. Heck I’m unfamiliar with the original coins as well. Yes I know they fit in 2×2 holders and 20-pocket pages but for whatever reason I just haven’t gotten any. They’re cute and I see why people like them.

Fittingly for a package from a guy calling himself “WaxPack,” the bulk of the box though was loose packs for my kids to rip. This looks like a lot of fun and I’ll be sure to tweet what they find. We’ll have to have a draft where they pick their packs and then I’ll let them start ripping.

Very cool Steve and thanks so much!

A White Whale and a Major Asshole

When I started working on the checklist for my Stanford project, the player that confused me the most was John Ramos. His 10 games didn’t merit a flagship 1992 Topps card but when I saw him included on the Topps Gold checklist I thought I was going a little crazy. How could he have a Gold parallel card but no base card?

It turns out that instead of releasing Gold versions of the checklists, Topps released cards for six rookies who had just missed the cut.* In my view, these six extra cards should of count as part of the 1992 set in a Master Set sort of way. I’d thought I had all of Topps’s 1992 cards. Turns out I was still missing a few and I added them to my list of things to search for every once in a while.

*#131 Terry Matthews, #264 Rod Beck, #366 Tony Perezchica, #527 Terry McDaniel, #658 John Ramos, and #787 Brian Williams. Also unbeknownst to me is the fact that there was a Gold parallel version of the Traded set and that card number #132T Kerry Woodson was substituted for the Traded checklist.

Of course, outside of the checklist replacements there’s another Gold-only 1992 Topps card. Card number 793 is a special autographed Gold-only card of bonus-baby phenom Brien Taylor. Taylor was supposed to be the next big thing. Instead he tore his rotator cuff in a bar fight and became the embodiment of everything the rookie-obsessed baseball card hobby fears. For me and my peer group, it was clear lesson about the perils of prospecting with cards.

Still, card number 793 fit my searchlist for completing a larger set of 1992 Topps cards. It’s just not a common like the others. Yes, even though Taylor never made it to the majors, he’s a touchstone for every collector my age and so his card is still in demand. Is it expensive? Not especially. But it’s also one of those things where as much as I’d like to have it I’m not going to be spending $20 on it either.

Is this a “white whale”? Not exactly. But it’s one of those cards where the price is higher than I’d ever want to spend (and definitely higher than the enjoyment I’d get from owning the card) so it’s in that ballpark.

It turns out I didn’t have to spend anything on it. Somehow Matt Prigge ended up with a bunch of these and offered to send me one since I seem to be the only person trying to collect those Gold cards that aren’t in Flagship.

Is awesome.

That the signature is all wonky makes me wonder if these were rejects or something but I don’t care. This is a wonderful Dated Rookie card for my nostalgia and takes me one card closer to finishing the 1992 “Master Set.” I only need Tony Perezchica and Kerry Woodson now.

Of course, as happens all the time, the mailing did not just include the Brien Taylor card. Matt sent a bunch of other Giant cards along including this 1973 Checklist which wasn’t even on my searchlist for completing my Giants team sets.

This is also the best kind of unexpected card mailing. Not only is it a card I “need” it’s also a card—specifically a checklist—that I hate buying. I must’ve pulled too many checklists when I was a kid since I have a visceral reaction whenever I think about purchasing a checklist by itself.

The rest of the mailing was 1990s stuff—much of it shiny. The first batch includes 1991 Ultra Update (a set I never purchased as a kid), a wonderful Barry Bonds Gallery of the Stars insert from Triple Play, 1994 Upper Deck Fun (another set I never even saw as a kid) and some Sportflics. Or I guess Sportflics had rebranded itself as Sportflix around this time.

Anyway, very cool. The Salomon Torres Bowman card is another nostalgia-inducing Dated Rookie card since he was supposed to be the next big thing for the Giants but the fanbase just turned on him after the 1993 season. I still feel sorry for the kid.

More shininess. I think the JR Phillips Bowman is base but good lord is it shiny. Score Gold Rush is always fun. I love that Rod Beck Upper Deck card where he’s already swung at the ball and missed it by at least a foot. The Silver Signature parallels are also a lot of fun. I think that line is my favorite foil parallel approach in all the early 1990s cards.

Also holy moly I did not realize that Topps Chrome was a thing as early as 1997.

And a couple more shiny cards. And a couple more Rod Becks.* Beck will always be one of my favorite Giants players and it’s been heartening to see how many other collectors have chosen to collect his cards. It’s clear he was a fan favorite everywhere he played and it’s a shame he didn’t live long enough for all of us to grow up and tell him as much.

*There were six in the stack.

Going from one of my favorites to one of my least favorites. Two A.J. Pierzynski cards is some top-level trolling. Yes they go in my Giants binder. No I do not like being reminded that he was on the team. Good lord what an asshole. Though I’m heartened by the number of people on Card Twitter who also hate him. I’m clearly following the right people on there.

Thanks Matt! I love the Taylor and I’m totally rooting for your Brewers to make it to the World Series this year.

Bob Walk the Plank

Last spring I entered a few budget breaks with Colby and Nachos Grande. They were both base-heavy breaks of the pick a team, get a team variety. I obviously picked the Giants. And I got the Pirates as my random 2nd team. Twice.

So then I had a stack of Pirates cards sitting on my desk. Thankfully I know a guy. And thankfully he was more than happy to take the stack. So I packaged everything up and sent them off to Bob Walk the Plank. Matt was a prolific blogger who was one of the first Card Twitter people I started interacting with when I got back into the hobby. He gave up blogging this summer but lives on at @walktheplank82 on Twitter.

Sometime while I was away in California a small bubble mailer arrived from him. I feel a little bad about not acknowledging it when it arrived but vacation is vacation and we all understand how that goes. Plus it’s always fun to find a gift waiting when you go through your giant stack of vacation menu. Matt’s mailer was worth the wait.

I’ll start off with a Rich Aurilia gold numbered-to-25 parallel from 2002. I still don’t understand the nature of the hobby in the late 90s and early 00s. This set is completely new to me (good lord how many sets were there?) but it’s nice enough. Not my kind of thing but I’m very happy to have a sample.

The numbering is an interesting phenomenon. There’s no logical reason why stamping 04/25 on a card should make it feel more special but it totally does. I rationally know it’s all bullshit. It’s not like these were printed in a small batch so special care could be taken. Instead it’s artificial scarcity all the way down. At the same time, realizing that there are only 25 of these out there* triggers something deep down in the collector/hoarder mentality.

*To be specific, that Upper Deck only released 25 of these to the public.

I’m risking going all old man here but numbered cards like this were a relatively new invention when I stopped collecting cards. And those were numbered to 10,000. 10,000! So to see something numbered to 25 kind of blows my mind as a collector.

The 2014 Buster Posey relic card is one of those generic relics like the Joe Panik one I got last year. Not from a specific game/event/season but it’s “real”—for whatever that means. This one at least has a nice blurb on the back about Buster Posey and yeah, it’s Buster Posey and all Giants fans like Buster.* And it comes from a World Series year and that’s always cool too.

*Though I have seen a bunch of ingrates complaining about him this year as he’s battled his hip problem. And I fear that he’ll no longer be our catcher and it’s going to be weird next year when he’s playing first and Belt’s in the outfield.

I remember back in 1994 when relics like this were the coolest things around. I wanted one so badly. I don’t even remember why. Just, there was something about the idea of game-used equipment. I don’t even remember if they were called relics then but the term does a perfect job at capturing the way kids—and many adults now—treat athletes.

And I suppose it also explains part of why I came to love autograph hunting. Yes I like the degree that memory plays in the hunt, but there’s also something to the idea that the player held and signed the item.

Still, in a general sense, relics aren’t really my thing. This is mainly because they aren’t binderable but I think I’m increasingly unimpressed by the aura given off by a 1-inch clipping from an object that a player may have handled at some point. I also find myself increasingly skeptical about whether or not the material is even the real deal—which is kind of the kiss of death for these kind of things.

This Mel Ott 2016 Diamond Kings framed relic though is very much my thing. Not because of the relic but because the card itself is kind of amazing. Yes Ott is Ott and getting a card of any Giants retired number is always going to be appreciated. And yes that’s a bit of bat which I actually hope was not a real Mel Ott bat because that would be an awful thing to destroy.

The card though. Holy crap. Silver ink on uncoated reddish-brown paper. A die-cut hole in the center showing coated cambric-finish* paper with additional printing. That printed piece also die-cut to reveal the bit of wood. The fact that the piece of wood must only be as thick as a couple baseball cards so it can fit in the card.

*Similar to but not quite as textured as this year’s Diamond Kings paper.

Where the Rich Aurilia card feels artificially scarce, I’m kind of amazed that this is numbered as high as 99. Yes I know that Panini has a lot of automated processes to make relic cards, but I also worked in printing long enough to recognize how many steps making something like this takes and how easy it would be to screw it up.

And the last card in the mailer was a Gary Brown Topps Finest autograph. Poor guy got a cup of coffee in 2014 (7 games, 7 ABs, 3 hits, 1 RBI, and even had an AB in the NLDS that year) but ended up being released in early 2015, picked up by another team, released again, picked up again, and then finally released for good in early 2016. He went from being one of the Giants top prospects to out of baseball in basically two years.

This is the kind of autograph only a Giants fan could love. And yes I love it. It’s great that it’s on-card. It’s great that it’s one of those garbage pulls that would’ve pushed anyone else to Twitter to bemoan how much they got ripped off on their box of 2015 Finest. It makes me wonder how many other “junk” Giants autographs are out there now.

I also like that this is from Finest—a product I don’t collect. Aside from the price I’m not a fan of the shiny over-designed bells and whistles look. But it works with the signature.

Yeah that’s four cards which represent things I don’t collect. At a different level, that I don’t collect them is what makes them wonderful, perfect mailday cards. I’d never seek these out—well, I might seek out cheap busted prospect autographs*—but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them. They fit in perfectly in my collection and they’re extremely fun to have.

*Also cheap bench player autographs.

Thanks Matt! I’m so glad the randomizer gods blessed me with a bunch of Pirates to trade instead of leaving me with the Marlins or Rays.

@mjpmke’s Update purge

While Matt has helped me with my Update set before, he recently decided that he was done with the whole Update concept and was going to be shedding the last decade of Update cards. I get it, Update’s one of those sets that needs to be strongly defined in order to make any sense. Is it a set of highlights to summarize the season which just ended? Is it intended to correct players in the flagship set who changed teams or weren’t on the roster at all when Topps locked the checklist the previous January? Is it a celebration of players who made their debuts in the season? Is it a celebration of players who made the All Star team that season?

Currently the answer to all of those is a resounding “kind of.” Are all of those elements in Update. Yes. Does Topps do any of them well? No.

I still enjoy Update though at least from a team collector point of view since the Giants aren’t a team that Topps either short-changes or over-emphasizes on the checklists. And I like the idea of completing the 2017 set because it marks my return to the hobby and represents the first set that I purchased packs of with my son. So when Matt put out a “shoot me your wantlists” call I sent him my set needs and mentioned I’d be interested in any other Giants as well.

So a few weeks ago* a box of cards showed up in my mailbox and inside was a bunch of Update and a bunch of other goodies.

*I received so many mailings at the end of the school year that I’m running weeks behind.

I’ll start with the unexpected stuff. Buried inside the Giants cards were a bunch of cards of Stanford guys for my Stanford project. I think these kill my Update needs for 2010–2017. It’s always fun when trading partners remember who the Stanford guys are. Unlike with team collecting, keeping the Alumni names in mind is the kind of task that I don’t expect anyone to be able to do. That Matt has cards from a half-dozen different guys is pretty impressive.

There was also a lot of pre-2010 Giants stuff. On the top of that pile though were these two autographs. I gather that Matt did a fair amount of non-Brewers through-the-mail requests before focusing his collection on his All-time Brewers project. Garrelts and Dravecky are two semi-obscure guys who happen to be near and dear to my heart though since they come from the Giants teams I learned to love baseball with. Heck I mention each by name in my remembrance of Candlestick post.

Garrelts is one of just four players* who played 10+ years in the Majors and only played for the Giants. I have fond memories of him both being great in terms of signing everything I had in Philadelphia as well as being a solid starter who I saw almost pitch a no-hitter.

*Also on the list, Jim Davenport, Robby Thompson, and Matt Cain. I’m tempted to try and get signed 8×10s of each of them since I’m already half-way there (I have Davenport and Thompson). The hardest part of this project idea is that I can’t find any Garrelts 8×10s available anywhere.

Dravecky meanwhile was our ace whose cancer comeback game in 1989 is still the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever watched. I’ve been to bigger and more important games but I’ve never been in a crowd which was so into the game. Every pitch, every moment was important and none of us knew what to expect.

The rest of the Giants goodies included a bunch of 1993 Topps Gold—a set I’ve always liked—as well as an assortment of other 1990s stuff. Leaf Limited is one of those sets I’m surprised that I like. Sportflics (sorry, Sportflix now) is always great fun. I’m not sure how Matt keeps coming across Pacific cards but those are always appreciated.

2010–2016 Update cards and more Gold cards continue to fill in some holes left over from RobbyT’s huge mailing. The 2015 Gold card of Chris Heston’s no-hitter is probably my favorite of this batch. Also that 1954-designed Madison Bumgarner Topps Archives card amuses me since his signature includes #22—a number he’s never worn in the Giants organization. Twitter suggests this was a signature lifted from the 2006 National Showcase but I’m still shaking my head at Topps not just deleting the uniform number.

And a last handful of Giants cards. I did not have the Postseason Celebration card for the 2014 World Series so that’s a lot of fun. And the 1960-designed McCovey is both fun and infuriating in how it shows both the potential of Archives in re-imagining cards from the past as well as the pitfalls in not being true to the original design. In this case it really bothers me that the name text isn’t fully-justified.

This image also brings us to the bulk of the mailday—namely 2017 Update. Matt’s mailing took me to 297/300 complete for the set* which is far better than I ever expected to get.

*Depending on how you count I could actually have 295/300 or 298/300 complete instead. I’m missing cards 96 (Brett Phillips), 193 (Orlando Arcia), and 269 (Craig Kimbrel). I also have two other slots—172 (Jason Hammel) and 257 (Alex Wood)—filled with Gold or Foil parallel versions of the cards. And I do actually have card number 269—only I have the Pedro Martinez variant rather then the guy who’s actually in the checklist.

Looking through these cards and I’m starting to wonder how I want to break them down into pages. Right now of course everything’s by-the-number. But since the set is complete aside from the Brewers I can think about how I want to split things up. I’m always inclined to put the Traded and Rookies with the rest of the team but the All Star, home Run Derby, Highlights, and Debut cards are a different beast.

Anyway I’ll have the summer to think about it. Probably longer since unpaging a set and re-sorting it is the kind of thing I’ll backburner for a long time. But this confirms that I won’t be going after Update again this year. Yes on the Giants. Probably yes on the rest of the cards which would’ve been part of the Traded sets form the 1980s. But I’m not feeling it with rest of this set. Too much rookies and stars bloat for my taste and not enough difference in the All Stars and things to be fun.

Still I’m very happy to have this one essentially complete. It’s a wonderful way to close out my first full year back in the hobby and it’s nice that it comes via trade since exchanging cards over Twitter has turned out to be the best thing about the latest incarnation of the hobby.

packfiller

To fill out the package and protect the other cards from moving, Matt tossed in a dozen or so dummy cards. These don’t warrant too much discussion but I’m amused that they’re mostly all checklists.

I’ll readily admit that I never gave much thought to the checklists when I was a kid. I didn’t like pulling them in packs and even now I feel weird specifically purchasing them whether as part of a set chase or as an extension of my team sets search.* At the same time not having them in the sets also feels wrong.

*A few of the 1960s checklists feature Giants players.

As cards that I never really looked at, seeing a dozen of them all together kind of forced me to take a closer look. I’d never noticed that the 1989 Topps checklists called back to the 1979 design before. I never realized that the 1990 Topps checklists were organized by team. I’m amused that the Donruss Diamond Kings checklist includes the Diamond king ribbon. And I’m kind of appalled at the computer-generated graphics on the Stadium Club checklists.

Atlee surprise

One of the things I’ve especially enjoyed about Twitter is the way the multiracial community exists on there. While many of us, correctly, are leery of being lumped into a single box, there’s a lot of value in comparing experiences and seeing how so many of them feel familiar. I haven’t blogged a ton about this kind of thing except when it overlaps with my other interests like photography and baseball (and baseball cards) since it’s tough to do well.

Aside from being a level of personal exposure which is hard in and of itself to write, let alone share, one of the things I’ve taken to heart the most about being multiracial is that the stories I’m often most inspired by are stories where my reaction risks erasing someone else’s experience. All too often the safer thing is to be quiet and not pin my narrative to someone else’s.

The result of this is that I also never expect the things I do write about my multiracial experience to be commented on outside of people I know. The experiences are worth sharing but I suspect that we all feel similar levels of trepidation about recentering them to be about ourselves as well. That the multiracial community doesn’t overlap much with baseball card twitter meant that while I liked what I wrote about Atlee Hammaker, I certainly didn’t expect to find that it touched anyone else in card twitter.

And then Carl (@CeeMX97) started following me. He’s a Phillies fan about an hour south of me down I295 who’s similarly multiracial to me. Aside from talking baseball or cards we’ve also commiserated about things from the dire situation for Japanese and Korean food in New Jersey to how our Asian flush has gotten worse as we’ve aged. Needless to say, my Atlee post touched a nerve with him to the point where earlier this week I found a small envelope with a bunch of Atlee Hammaker cards inside.

Nothing fancy here but since most of my existing Atlee collection is tied up with my Giants collection it’s nice to have duplicates to flesh out the few non-Giants cards of his I’ve got (basically just his rookie card and his 1991 Studio card).

I’m no supercollector but I appreciate having a dedicated Atlee section in my binder. It’s a nice reminder of the ways that my new collection interacts with my childhood one and the difference in perspective that I have now.

Carl also included two signed cards in the package. He does a bit of through-the-mail (TTM) requesting and often includes duplicate cards in his requests for the players to keep. Often the players do keep the extras but other times, like in these cases, it seems that they signed and returned everything.

I’ve been toying with the idea of taking up TTM requests myself. It’s something I can see enjoying by sending to guys I grew up with. It’s also something I can see doing with my kids as a way of encouraging them to write letters and engage with this hobby more. Chris Speier is one of the guys at the top of my “to try” list for reasons I’ve already touched on on this blog so it’s very cool to have one before I even start considering TTMs seriously.

Don Robinson meanwhile is another favorite of mine. I’ve a few of his signatures already but this is the first one featuring him holding a bat. Pitchers with bats is a fun category of cards as it is. When it’s a pitcher like Caveman who we liked in part because of how he approached batting? Even better.

Thanks Carl for appreciating my blog and for the surprise Atlees and TTM duplicates. It looks like I have to start a Phillies pile now.