June TTMs

The past couple months have involved just been keeping the hopper from being empty. The result seems to be a lot of quiet days with occasional multi-return days. June got off to a great start with a three-return day which encouraged me to increase my send rate as the month went on.

The first return of June was a 21-day return from Von Joshua. Joshua spent only a season and a half with the Giants but one of those was his career year.  After 5 years with the Dodgers as a pinch hitter and part-time outfielder, the Giants made him their starting center fielder in 1975. That year he posted a .317 batting average (compared to .273 for his career) and a .806 OPS (compared to a career .686).

It’s always nice to send a card out which represents a player’s best, or most-important, season. I always make sure to mention the significance of the card in the letter too. In the same way that Von Joshua’s 1976 card commemorates his 1975 season, José Santiago’s 1968 card commemorates his fantastic 1967 season with the Impossible Dream Red Sox as well as his even better 1968 season. Plus he managed to hit a home run off of Bob Gibson in the 1967 World Series.

Santiago is my second return from Puerto Rico as well. Unlike the return from Juan Gonzalez, this one only took 18 days. I don’t particularly like the 1968 design for autographs (this was another duplicate from my dentist’s stash) but this one is printed very well and the signature and photo both look great in person.

Fran Mullins’s 11 day return was the last of the opening batch. He was a light-hitting utility infielder with the Giants in 1984 but was good enough defensively to earn a positive WAR that season. This card is his only individual major league card so it’s kind of a fun one to have signed.

Harold Baines had been signing a lot during quarantine and I kind of had the feeling that I missed the window. I figured it was worth a shot to try anyway and 8 days my card came back. Very very cool.

He never felt like a Hall of Famer to me and I’m not inclined to use him as the benchmark for future inductees. But there’s no denying that he was solid player for a long time and had the kind of career any player would be proud of. Plus he did spend a couple good years with the A’s and while I’m not an A’s fan I definitely grew up with the A’s players.

1993 Upper Deck also looks great signed so I’m glad I had this one available to send to him. This one is great since it’s a little silly with his position labeled as DH yet the card showing him playing the field.

I had already sent to Duane Kuiper but I wanted to try him again with one of the postcards. 7 days later my return came back. The card was a bit beat up and faded but not so much that it looks bad. And like the Lavelle and Barr postcards last month it looks really nice with a signature on it.

I also included a 1976 Topps card in the envelope which came back nicely signed as well. Kuip’s letter was one I enjoyed writing because I can honestly say that not only I miss hearing him this summer but that it doesn’t feel like summer without him.

Pitcher Tom Griffin came back in 9 days. Griffin had a couple good years with the Astros but the only duplicate cards I had of him was a 1978 Topps with the Padres and a blurry 1982 Fleer with the Giants.

Actually he was pretty good with the Giants too. In 1980 he was a solid reliever. Not a closer or anyone who gets glory just a solid arm out of the pen who ate up innings, had a good ERA, and didn’t let guys get on base. In 1981 he moved to the rotation and wasn’t as effective.

Roger Metzger is another former-Astro, short-term Giant. He was a decent player, known for having a good glove in the mid-1970s, whose career was cut short after a table saw accident in 1980. Another player who I would’ve liked to have included an Astros card i the request, he returned his 1979 card in 28 days.

I’ve written a little about Mike Sadek before but it was nice to thank him for running those clinics back in the day. Because he gave the same fielding lesson each year his is the lesson I remember most. Four-seam grip. Working on the glove to barehand transfer. Holding the ball with both hands when tagging (as a catcher). I’ve actually used some of his advice when teaching my kids.

With Mike Kingery and Trevor Wilson I’ve now had a chance to thank htree of the instructors I remember from my youth. Tony Perezchica is another who I remember. There should be a couple others but they’re slipping my mind. Anyway Sadek’s return came in only 11 days.

Bobby Estalella’s quick 10 day return was a bit of a surprise. Not sure why but I never expect the newer players to turn things around quickly. Estalella was the catcher when Pac Bell Park opened. He never quite lived up to his promise (getting caught up in the BALCO scandal didn’t help either) but for whatever reason I have a tendency to remember my Giants teams by who the catcher was.

While I do have a 1988 Mothers Cookies Phil Garner card showing him on the Giants, since those are typically hard to find and frequently expensive I opted to send a bunch of Topps cards from the same time period.

When I was a kid I didn’t care about getting Giants cards signed, I just liked that the players were Giants. I’m sticking to the same philosophy now. Anyone who played for the Giants goes into the Giants autographs binder. So what if he only played a fraction of a season for the Giants. That fraction of a season happened to be the first season my family had season tickets.

Plus adding “Scrap-Iron” to my binder is a lot of fun too. He only took 8 days to turn these around too.

A quick 7-day return from Juan Berenguer added another Mother’s Cookies card to my collection. Berenguer was only a Giant for a year but it happened to be the year I saw my first game. While the Giants used 25 players in that game, Berenguer was not one of them since he had started the game a couple days earlier when the Giants were no-hit by Mike Scott.

My favorite return of the month was this one from Jeffrey Leonard. He’s not a TTM guy but there was a private signing at a price I was okay with so I looked through my cards and picked the one with my favorite photo. A lot of his photos he looks less than pleased to be posing but this one is a slightly more casual shot. I especially like that it catches the 00 on his back too.

Before Will Clark, my favorite player was the HacMan. We all copied one flap down on the school playground and loved his swagger. I still haven’t replaced my stolen Will Clark jersey and a large part of this is that I’m considered ordering a Leonard one instead.

It’s weird for me to think that the Giants traded him for Earnie Riles. That was probably my first introduction to how dangerous it was to pick a favorite player. Thankfully there were other players who I liked on the team at that point.

I got a nice 21 day return from John Olerud. I only sent him the 1991 Studio and 1992 Topps cards but either he really liked my letter or I mistakenly got someone else’s card. Olerud was one of those all-class players who I just really enjoyed. Great to watch him play both in the field at at the plate plus he always seemed like the nicest guy.

I’ve been enjoying getting the 1991 Studios signed. They’re a bit tricky due to the amount of black but they end up looking pretty nice. Definitely better in hand than in a scan too since the duotone interacts nicely wth the blue sharpie.

Joe Carter is going into the Giants album due to his short-term stop at the end of his career in 1998. He was pretty good in that half season too. However I had to get him on a Blue Jays card since those World Series were a big part of my memories growing up. This McDonald’s set of all Blue Jays felt like the right choice. It came back in 13 days.

A 10 day return from Steve Scarsone added another Mother’s Cookies card to the collection. The face sign is a bit unfortunate but it is what it is. The other two cards are two designs which I’ve never gotten signed. I’m not a huge fan of that 1996 Donruss design where the foil covers a key part of the photo but it felt like an appropriate photo for a signature. 1994 Score though turns out to look pretty nice with a blue sharpie.

The day after Scarsone became my first signed 1996 Mother’s Cookies card, Mark Dewey returned my second after an 11 day request. Dewey is one of those guys who came up with the Giants, left, and then came back a couple years later. He’s probably most notable for refusing to take part in the 1996 Until There’s a Cure Day because even in the mid-1990s he still conflated the fight against AIDS as condoning homosexuality. He’s clearly still evangelizing and included a personal tract card with the return.

John Pacella is a request I made because I just like the card and photo. This is one of my favorite card photos in general with the cap only inches off the ground. It’s nice to be able to send a request that’s just as simple as “I love your card and would love to get it signed.” Pacella seems like a good guy too with a nice note on the index card and a fast 9 day return.

This month I also got another round of custom cards made. Which means I was able to send a bunch of them out. The first one back was an 11 day return from John Gall who became the first classmate of mine for me to get a return from. He was a good 4-year player at Stanford and had a number of good years in the Minors on his way to the Majors. He wasn’t able to make it stick there and ended his career after a couple more decent years in AAA.

Ruben Amaro didn’t keep any customs and sent back all three signed in 15 days. I have a bunch of autographed cards of his from when I was a kid but it’s nice to send these customs out and add more of them to the collection.

I swore I had a Sandy Vance autograph from when I was a kid but I couldn’t find it on any of my multi-signed balls.* That his only card is a 1971 Topps card with facsimile autograph meant that I had to figure out a custom. I had to use his 1971 card photo since I couldn’t find any color Dodgers photos but I’m happy with the result even though his pen had some problems.

*Note, I’ve since found that I had neglected to photograph one ball yeahs ago. That needs to be remedied soon.

Why am I happy? Because notes like these make returns fun. We’ve had discussions online about sending piles of cards and how “please keep whatever” might be construed as angling for everything to be signed. I always send extra customs though with an explicit request that the player keep all the extras. It’s nice when they do. It’s even nicer when they send a thank you note back.

I got a fun 35 day return from fan-favorite Bill Mueller. The fact that he was so popular despite following in Matt Williams’s footprints says a lot about him. Even though his best seasons were with the Red Sox I’ll always think of him as a Giant first.

This is also a fun return since it adds two new sets to my collection. These are my first signed 1997 Pacific and 1998 Donruss cards. Both work pretty well despite having so much going on in the designs already.

Cy Young Award Winner Doug Drabek is a super-reliable signer who returned three cards in 10 days. I didn’t watch many of baseball games on TV—just the playoffs—but I remember watching Drabek pitch. That 1998 Score isn’t the best choice for a signature but it’s one of my favorite card photos so I had to give it a shot. A shame he doesn’t have a silver pen but it looks okay in person even if it scans/photos poorly.

Pete Stanicek was a repeat send for me but I wanted to send a custom to him. He signed two (kept one) in 17 days as well as a 1988 Donruss card. He was a hard guy to find a photo of with the Orioles but thankfully I found one that I didn’t have to scan.

Vance Law is one of those legendary signers who I always knew I was going to send cards to at some point.I figured I’d go for the mix of teams and slowly work on increasing the number of signed 1988s I have. I’m not crazy enough to go for a signed set but as much as I was disappointed with the 1988 design when I was a kid I really like it now. Law totally does not disappoint either with a fast 8-day turnaround and a really nice signature.

Bobby Witt is another legendary signer who I sent cards from two of my favorite sets to. He also turned thing around in 8 days. It’s very nice to add a couple 1991 Studios this month and I like his portraits in both that and the 1988 Topps. And like with Vance Law, I had to include an A’s card since while I’m a Giants collector, I also remember a lot of the players who came through Oakland when I was a kid.

Bill Swift is a guy who I got when I was a kid but who I wanted to send to since he has a couple cards I just really like. These came back in 8 days. The 1985 Topps becomes my oldest signed Olympics card. I’d gotten a bunch of 1988s signed but no 1985s until this one. I also love the camcorder photo on the 1995 Collectors Choice SE. Not so much a fan of the blue border but it works okay with the blue autograph.

Billy was one of my favorite pitchers in the early 1990s as the ace of the staff in both 1992 and 1993. The Giants 1993 season is probably the best Giants team I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching and Swift was a huge part of that with 21 wins and a fully-deserved runners-up in the Cy young Award.

Pitcher Renie Martin is one of those guys who’s just on the outside of my Giants fandom. He’s been a sporadic signer but I took a chance and got a nice return 14 days later.

The best part about the Martin return though was that he signed another postcard for my collection. As the fourth signed card he completes a page (with Lavelle, Kuiper, and Barr) of Giants who I’ve had fun learning about since they were all names that I was vaguely aware of as a kid.

Gary Rajsich was a quick 8 day return. He has three rookie cards in 1983 but then nothing except for this 1985 Mother’s Cookies card. Well he has a few Japanese cards and a couple senior league cards with his brother which are kind of fun. As a Giants fan though it’s always nice to get another Mother’s Cookies card signed.

Bill Wakefield goes into the Stanford album with a quick 8-day return. It’s always fun to add a 1965 too. Wakefield was already a professional when he was an undergraduate so this card depicts him as a student. I was curious how he would react to my project since he didn’t play at Stanford but in some ways it feels like he might have a stronger connection to the school because he was just a student.

Not only did I get a nice inscription on the index card, he included this nice note back on my letter. I usually include the index cards as an opportunity for the players to write back but a decent number of them do it on the letters like this instead. I need to figure out what to do with these notes now.

Lots of good returns this month but the best one was a 97-day return from Will Clark. My youngest sent it out and was very patient even though his older brother got his card back a couple months ago. Patience rewarded and I have one thrilled second third grader.

May TTMs

Into May returns. We’ll start off with a couple stragglers. When I started sending requests out last year I knew that a move was likely to come in my near future so I used my parents’ address for my returns. I haven’t sent anything out with their return address for a year now but a few envelopes are finding their way back there. At the beginning of this month they sent me a couple of those returns.

This one from Juan Gonzalez took 418 days to turn around. Gonzalez was one of the first non-Giants, non-Stanford requests I sent out. I had a card handy and yeah, he was a superstar when I was a teenager in the 1990s and I was very happy to finally get my card back.

It’s kind of amazing how much he’s been forgotten now. Being a 40-homer/year guy doesn’t stand out the way it used to. Nor does being a line drive guy in the age of launch angles. And RBIs are one of those stats that’s taken a huge beating in the modern statistical revolution since it reflects opportunities more than anything the batter has control over.

Yes, I agree with modern statistics in recognizing how much of the RBI is outside the batter’s control. At the same time, as a little league coach, driving in runs is important. Someone’s got to do it and we, as a team, are going to celebrate whenever someone gets a ribbie. Someone like Juan Gonzalez who drove in a ton of guys? He deserved every bit of celebration that he received.

Ken Williams was another of my first requests. His return came back almost exactly a year later (362 days) but spent another three months at my parents’ before getting forwarded to me.

Williams is like Bill Wakefield and falls into the grey area of this project. He went pro out of high school and as a result was ineligible for college baseball. While being a professional ball player and attending college is something that feels possible in the 1960s, I really can’t imagine doing so in the 1980s. Especially at a school like Stanford.

Calvin Murray is another one that stayed at my parents’ for a couple months after a 298 day turnaround time. Murray was one of the Giants’ top draft picks when I was getting into the autograph game but I never managed to acquire a card of him on the Giants. So it’s nice to fill that hole (so to speak) and add a Giants card to the Team USA one I have signed.

The boys also got a couple returns this month. They haven’t sent out a lot since letter writing is a lot of work. But they’re happy whenever they get a SASE back with their handwriting on the outside. This month they both got returns from Cory Snyder plus my eldest got a return from Scott Garrelts.

After a couple weeks of no returns I had a day with four returns all at once. The oldest one in there was a 77 day return from Jeff Ballard. I wanted to send him to extend my customs project and included the 1991 Upper Deck since I liked the photo. I usually include multiple customs so the player can keep one or two of them. In this case he signed and returned all three.

The best return of that batch was getting Jim Palmer back in 28 days. I’d gotten a return-to-sender in my first attempt but I saw he was signing again so I figured it was worth a second try.

Indeed it was. 1981 isn’t my favorite design but it looks good with the Orioles caps and the solid cyan ink. And Palmer is one of those guys who, while he had only just retired before I became a fan, was already legendary. I was pretty excited to add him to my collection.

Steve Reed was another 28 day return. He was a Giant twice in my youth. First, he was one of the guys I saw play at San José and debut with the team in 1992. Then he got taken by the Rockies in the expansion draft but after a couple years in Denver he resigned with the Giants as a free agent.

Jeff Reed was the last return of the big batch with a quick 14-day return. He was a good defensive backup catcher. I got his signature on a Reds card back when I was a kid so it’s nice to add a Giants card to the collection. I tossed a 1991 Topps into the envelope as well since it’s one of my favorite designs but I don’t have many of them signed.

A got another return with 1998 Mother’s Cookies in it. First Danny Darwin. Then Steve Reed. Now Jim Poole in 24 days. Those 1997/1998 guys aren’t the ones I remember from my youth but that 1997 team was responsible for my return to baseball after the strike so it’s fun to get their signatures.

Steve Soderstrom came back in 17 days. He’s one of the few guys who I’ve watched at multiple levels. Fresno State always used to come through Stanford before league games started. He then was drafted by the Giants and played at San José before debuting in the majors. Pretty cool when that happens.

Ed Bressoud’s 18 day return was a fun one. He played for the Giants in both New York and San Francisco before losing his job to Jose Pagan and getting grabbed by Houston in the Expansion Draft. It’s always nice to pick up former New York Giants since there aren’t many of them left. Plus, of the few that are still signing I usually don’t have a spare card.

For some reason though I did have an extra Post card of Bressoud. I wasn’t sure how it would look signed but it’s pretty good. There’s something wonderful about how Post is able to get everything you’d want on a card on just one side.

I really enjoyed getting a return from Bill Madlock. He’s just one of those guys who brings me back to my youth. I don’t even know why now (though his nickname certainly didn’t hurt) but he was clearly a quality player for a long time. Plus there’s something about those players whose intensity is so palpable that I think every fan is drawn to.

Mad Dog wasn’t a Giant for long but I really like his 1979 card which shows a bit of a lighter side of him. I’m glad I had some Giants duplicates since I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed a 1987 or 1988 Topps cards nearly as much.

I had a bunch of Nate Oliver cards in the pile from my dentist so I figured I should give him a try. He came back in only 9 days. Sending the 1968 worked out well too since he actually played a little for the Giants that year. He’s primarily a Dodger on cardboard and has no Giants cards—he finished 1968 with the Yankees so his 1969 card is a Yankees card—but he’s going to go into my Giants binder just the same.

I got a nice fast return from Gary Lavelle in seven days. He was a Giant for over a decade before finishing up his career in Toronto and Oakland. I just missed watching him so he kind of represents the team that existed right at the fringe of my fandom. Is nice to have a card from each end of his stint with the team.

More excitingly I got his 1983 postcard signed. These are the postcards I got from my dentist and they are the perfect size for autograph requests. Not all the guys sign but it’s nice to send some larger items out. Even just expanding the item to 3.5″×5″ makes a huge difference in the way the autograph looks.

The last return of the month was another postcard. Jim Barr returned his in 11 days. I’d previously gotten his autograph on a bunch of cards but the postcard was too nice to not try. This is also from 1983 and is a great photo of Candlestick as I remember it.

All in all a pretty good month. Started off slow but thankfully things picked up. It’s been a nice surprise to check my mail while we’ve been stuck at home during the Covid staycation.

April TTMs

A slowish month. As expected since I stopped sending things out in March. I did however start sending again mid-April. Partly because it seems like everyone was starting to look for things to do at home. And partly because mail volume was clearly dropping off and while I wasn’t able to buy more stamps, doing what I can to increase volume as a show of support for the Post Office was something I felt was good to do.

Don Sutton’s autograph arrived on his birthday. So that was cool. It was out for 31 days—not too long but with the pandemic going on but long enough to make me start to think that it wasn’t coming back. I was always fascinated by his cards when I was a kid since they were FULL of stats. This 1981 is the right intersection of junk wax but with the correct team. Plus it shows off his glorious hair.

Bobby Grich is one of those guys who was on the Hall of Fame bubble as a “good but not great” when I was little but, as our statistics have become better at describing the game, has become clearly recognized as one of the more underrated players ever. While I’m not 100% sold on the advanced stats, they are useful as a way of highlighting guys whose numbers were not served well by the traditional stats.

Grich clearly deserved better than to fall off the ballot after one year and I was very happy to get his card back in 41 days. Did it get mangled a little? Yes. Those are the risks you take in the TTM game. But it still presents okay.

This was a fun one because it’s become my oldest autographed card. My Junior High self would be super impressed at this. Where my childhood goal was to collect one card from each year, now I have at least one autographed card from 1960–1970 as well as one from 1957.

This 1957 came from Jason. Erskine is legendary in TTM circles because he truly loves connecting with baseball fans across generations. It’s awesome. I sent him a nice letter thanking him for being such a fan favorite and telling him about how I’ve been taking the boys around Nw York to see the old ballpark locations. We can’t wait to visit the Ebbets Field location. 11 days later I got his response.

I normally include only one index card as a stiffener. In this case I included two because I’ve found that a decent number of guys use the index cards to write notes back to me and Erskine has a reputation for writing notes. Instead I got two signed cards with inscriptions and a note written on the back of my return envelope.

The note is nice. It confirms that he read my letter and shows he understands how siblings work. And it demonstrates exactly why he’s a legend.

Two cards for two kids. Will this make them Dodgers fans? No. Were they happy to see that he no-hit the Giants? Also no. Were they excited to learn about Erskine and have a tactile reminder of the Brooklyn Dodgers? Absolutely yes.

On the topic of TTM legends, I also figured it was time to send to Bobby Shantz. This was a other fun letter to write since he’s one of the old timers I met back when I was 10 years old. Never hurts to say thanks again and it was very nice to add a signed card to that project six days later.

I also included some print-outs of one of my Viewmaster scans. This is just a two and a half inch square but it looks very neat signed. I guess this is counts as a custom even though it’s mostly just an enlargement.

He also signed an index card for me and included a ton of inscriptions and he thanked me for including extras of the Viewmaster even though he returned them unsigned. Maybe he goofed and put them in the envelope out of habit.

I got a seven-day return from Jack McDowell. I sent to him to get a custom signed and figured I might as well include an extra oddball. He kept one custom and sent two back. It’s nice to be making some progress on this Stanford customs project too.

An awesome seven-day return from the original Frank Thomas added another signed 1964 card to my old-timers project to go next to Bobby Shantz. As with Shantz, it was nice to write Thomas a thank you note for being cool to a 10-year-old. He sent a custom of his own as well as a huge letter.

I have no idea how he can write so small but he apparently sends these letters to everyone who writes him. My hand hurts just looking at this but I’m super impressed. A lot of these guys show a squirrelly hand when just signing their autographs and Frank Thomas is over here filling entire sheets of paper with miniscule but very nice cursive.

I think of Danny Darwin as an Astro but he was part of the 1997 Giants team that cured me of my strike malaise. It was nice to get a 10-day return from him and add another Mother’s Cookies card—even one of the later sets with a lousy design—to the album. I’m also low-key liking 1988 Topps as a set for getting signed.

Another Stanford custom. This time Mike Mussina came back in 11 days. I’m enjoying accumulating these customs and it’s always nice when the player keeps some of them as well. This takes me to nine total signed customs and now I get to think about whether I want to page them all together or leave them with each player.

And that’s it for April. Not a bad month all things considered. It’s been a nice break to write a couple letters every week or so. Plus it’s definitely fun to get something in the mail.

A couple PWEs

Not a lot of big trades going on but it’s been nice to receive random envelopes with just a couple of cards inside. I’ve also sent out a couple of these. I think we all like getting mail and maintaining some connection to the outside world.

The first envelope came from Jason who, after upgrading his 1957 Dodgers Team set found himself with an extra Carl Erskine card. Erskine is a legend in the TTM community and when I mentioned that I’ve been meaning to send to him Jason popped his extra Erskine into the ail for me. I sent it out before I could write this post so I had to wait for it to come back with ink.

Erskine, legend that he is, turned this around in 11 days and included a bunch more in his return. Those will be part of this month’s TTM round up since they has nothing to do with Jason’s mail.

Jason also included two Topps stickers. I don’t actively pursue these but they’re fun to add to the binder. The Dave Holland is particularly cool because his jacket is amazing with the Warriors Cable Car number graphic on the left sleeve.

Shane Katz has been making themed binder pages and is partially responsible for inspiring my colorwheels project. So it’s only fitting that he would be the first person to actively contribute to it. I was missing an orange 1967. Now I’m not.

The foil 2020 Brandon Belt is pretty nice. Scans badly but of all the shiny cards I think the foils are the only ones I like. Something about them still being printed on paper appeals to me.

Shane also included a couple Stanford guys. The Frank Duffy is his last pro card and it doesn’t surprise me that Shane, as a Red Sox collector would have duplicates here. The Mark Davis though is an obscure card of an obscure player who only has one MLB card that I’m aware of. Yes I have it (1992 Topps MLB Debut) but it’s very cool to add a second.

Thanks guys! Take care out there.

March TTMs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February TTMs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last TTMs of 2019; 1st TTMs of 2020

I’ll start off with the last returns to arrive in 2019. It was a good, fun first year of sending out requests. I sent out 131 requests and received 90 successful returns. My 2019 TTM folder has 173 scans in it so I consider that a resounding success.

A lot of those requests involved custom cards and sending to guys I remember from my youth. I still prefer in-person autographs and the way they’re part of a larger experience, but letter writing and customs creation has been extremely rewarding. I love it when someone keeps the extras or sends a nice note back.

Anyway, to the returns, both of which are stragglers that were out for a quite a while and had been sitting a my parents’ for a couple months.

I sent to Rich Schu while he was the Giants Assistant Hitting Coach. By the time his card came back 183 days later the Giants had completely revamped their coaching staff with three hitting coaches including one called the “Director of Hitting.” I don’t know what’s going on over there now.

Schu is also one of those guys I remember from my youth. He moved to the American League in 1988 but even though I had only been a fan for one of his years in the National League I think of him as a Phillie. Basically, whatever team a guy is with in his 1987 Topps card is likely to be the default team in my mind because that was my first set and the only one I truly studied every single card in.

Mike Kingery took even longer to get back. At 211 days this is now my longest return. I enjoyed writing to Kingery because I remember him coming to my local park as one of the instructors in the Giants Community Clinics.

I was prepared enough to bring a Mike Sadek card but since I had no idea who the players in attendance would be, I never got Kingery’s autograph. Where Sadek covered fielding, Kingery taught hitting. I really wish I could remember who the pitcher was that year (probably 1990).

Moving on to 2020 returns, I don’t expect to send as much out this year but things have already started off nicely. I’m still working through my stack of customs and am enjoying writing those letters.

My first return of the new year was Ron Cey who responded in 8 days. I created a Cey custom for Greg/Night Owl* and liked it so much that I decided to send it off to Cey as well. I included a couple Cey cards to get signed and am happy to have them back.

*His response to the customs I sent him is very nice.

It’s flattering that he kept all three customs. It would look nice signed in silver but all that black in the photo doesn’t lend itself well to any other ink. I do really like his 1978 Topps card* but by the time I was collecting I knew of him as a Cub (or an A) so it was fitting for me to send one of each. It’s clear that Cey thinks of himself as a Dodger first though since he includes his uniform number only when he signs Dodger cards.

*Note, this is actually an O Pee Chee card.

I didn’t send him a custom but as with my Bill Lee request last year, Al Hrabosky is one of those guys who I grew up reading about and am very happy to add to my collection. No Mad Hungarian inscription but still very very cool.

I’ve been getting a lot of these non-Giants autographs on 1978 cards. Part of this is that as I build that set I’ve come into duplicates, but I’ve also come to like the design and its photo-centric nature as one that is enhanced by a signature. Most of the head shots aren’t too tight and the design is so minimal that it doesn’t distract from the signature.

Former A’s pitching coach Dave Duncan came back in 8 days. I was not a fan of the Tony LaRussa A’s when I was a kid. Respected them but I just never liked them as a team. As I got older I realized that most that was about LaRussa, his school of over-management, and the weird chip on his shoulder which would get him upset about all kinds of stupid little things.

Amidst all the Bash Brothers stuff and everything else I was in awe of the A’s starting pitching and the way Dave Stewart and Bob Welch became some of the best pitchers in the game during those years. Dave Duncan played a huge part of that and I’m very happy having his autograph to commemorate those A’s teams of my youth.

This 1969 card is another simple design like 1978 which I’m liking a lot for signatures. Unfortunately 1969 suffers from the player boycott and the resulting images are all old. Duncan’s is from 1967 (or earlier) and so the KC logo on the cap has been blacked out. I’ve been louping various blacked out caps (my childhood 1969 Mota is another) and have found that they’re achieved in different ways. Some are stripped in while others are airbrshed onto the artwork that’s photographed. Duncan’s is in the second category.

Jim Rice was a fun 8-day return. He’s another Hall of Famer to add to that section of my binder. After my first Giants game in 1986 my parents pulled the TV out* for the World Series. As a result, most of the players on both teams are still memorable to me but since we were rooting for the Red Sox I do find myself especially happy to get signatures from guys on that team.

*Long story. TL;DR version is that my family kept our TV in the closet and only pulled it out for special occasions.

I especially love how this card turned out. I looked at my available Rice cards and selected this one because I saw the potential for the photo looking great with a signature. It’s an interesting image—a bit of baseball ma capturing a moment of non-static downtime*—and Rice signed it in the perfect location.

*Previously mentioned on here with regard to a Darren Lewis card and a Hisao Niura card.

Another 1978 card. This time Cy Young Award Winner Ron Guidry whose return took 19 days.  As before, I like the way this design works with signatures but in this case the 1978 card is especially appropriate because Guidry’s 1978 season was awesome. He not only deservedly won the Cy Young award but also came in second to Jim Rice in the MVP voting.

This is a fun one. Last summer my mom and I were talking about the Hawaii Islanders and how she followed baseball when she was a kid.* I pulled up the rosters and we started to go through names. I recognized a decent number of them—e.g. Bo Belinsky, Jack Hiatt, Diego Segui, and Dave Marshall—but for her the name that triggered her memory was Bob Duliba who she referred to as the Dennis Eckersley of the team.

*She wrote a letter to Harry Kalas about this back in 1989 which resulted in us getting tickets to a Giants–Phillies game during our trip to Philadelphia.

Looking at his stats for the 1963 season he spent in Hawaii confirms that he was indeed the Islanders’ relief ace, appearing in 53 games and having one of the best WHIPs on the team. I can see why he would make an impression since that’s a lot of appearances for a pitcher to make and a good reliever is one of those things that fans remember.

When I looked up his cards I saw that they were pretty cheap. I wanted one which had his Hawaii stats on the back but no luck, so instead I grabbed one from 1963—the year he was in Hawaii. I also noticed that he’s a reliable TTM guy so I wrote him a note and mentioned how my mom had told me about listening to him pitch. I did not expect him to write me back.

Notes like this are what Make TTMs so fun. In this case it was nice to see that he enjoyed being reminded of his time in Hawaii but also sent me on a bit of a search to find out about the Hawaii Major League. It comes up as different types of local semi-pro ball over the years but by the 1950s it appears to be a military league.

I ended up searching dvidshub.net for “Duliba.” It spat out a bunch of Windward Marine PDFs including one from April 1957 which details Cpl Bob Duliba’s first league start. Yeah I know his note says 1955 but the back of his card says he was in military service from 1956–1958. That 1957 season appears to have sent the Hawaii Marine team to the finals of the Marine baseball tournament.

Former Giant and current Padres broadcast Mark Grant came back in 14 days. Mark Grant is one of those guys who was part of the first team I really paid attention to. Even though he got traded halfway through the season he’s still someone whose name triggers memories of my first year of truly paying attention to baseball.

The last return to make the publishing deadline for this post is this 19-day Don Demeter return. Demeter is not the kind of guy I’d usually send to since he’s not a player I have any familiarity with. But in this case my hand was forced since I wanted to confirm the hive mind’s conclusion about the Al Kaline mystery player.

Mystery solved! Or well… Assumed solution confirmed! Demeter used the index card to answer my question about whether he was indeed the mystery non-Kaline player. Do I still feel sheepish about the Kaline mistake. A little. But the mistake has also resulted in more-interesting requests and returns and this kind of response makes my autograph album a lot of fun.

A decent start to the year for sure. I haven’t been sending out too many so far so it’s been nice to have a surprise in my mailbox every couple of days.

New Year, New TTMs

Happy New Year! I haven’t sent out anything new but returns are still trickling in.

The first one came from Frank Duffy in 10 days. This is another repeat send and is the fourth Stanford custom I’ve gotten back. I’ve only made nine of these so far so I’m liking the return rate for this mini set.

The only (small) problem I have with this design is that it’s clear that there’s no obvious place to sign. I don’t like big SIGN HERE designs but with a single photo the variance in signing location doesn’t jump out at me. With two pictures to choose from, the players have to pick which one to sign on. Or, in the case of Duffy, sign on the fence between them.

This is why I love sending customs. For every mistake like the Kaline there’s a couple fun notes like this that make me happy that I’m not just mailing requests but offering something to the players too. I especially love that this is on St. Joseph’s Indian School notepaper since it feels appropriate for the content of the note.

This note does remind me that I briefly considered making these 1978ish customs be Indians or Cardinal cards instead of the Major League team but I decided I wanted the variety of colors that pro teams would bring.

Don Carrithers came back in 24 days. He showed a bit of promise in his rookie season and I’m happy to have gotten his rookie card signed. Carrithers couldn’t quite put it together for the Giants but he did have a couple good years in Montreal.

I never really bought into the rookie card mystique when I was a kid except when it came to getting cards signed. And there I liked it. With young players like at Stanford Alumni games it was fun to see guys excited to see their first big league cards. With older players? It was just fun to get as old a card as possible for them and the rookie is the logical extreme of that.

Now this is a fun one. Dave Dravecky came back in 27 days. I was just happy to be able to write to him and thank him both for being part of the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever seen and an inspiration in general. I don’t expect to ever be at a sporting event with fans as keyed in to every moment the way his cancer comeback game was. The ticket stub from that game is the one item of memorabilia from my youth which I most regret losing.

The Mother’s Cookies card is from 1989 and the Score card captures his challenges and triumphs over that 1989 season. Both of those are fully appropriate for my album and my memory.

Getting the Dravecky autographs also has me thinking about starting a Willie Mac Award project. There are currently 39 winners and I have autographs from 13 of them.

Back on the TTM horse

It’s been busy whatwith the move and everything. I haven’t had a chance to write any letters since Spring but I finally got back on the horse and sent a few out before Thanksgiving. This is the first batch which includes some of the latest round of customs I designed and printed. It’s especially fun—in some cases even more fun than expected—to get those back.

Roy Face came back in 8 days. It’s always nice to see the generosity of some of these players. Face is not a Giant but I pretty much had to make a custom with this photo. This template is my adjustment to the 1956 Topps design so it can also work with vertical images. I like it a lot and really enjoy just making a card here or there as I come across a cool photo.

Face though is an interesting player in his own right since he’s sort of the first reliever who we can point to as starting us on the path toward the way modern baseball uses bullpens. It’s kind of wild for me to read the back of his 1968 card and see it gush about his saves and consecutive games played as being new and notable accomplishments. And yes they are but in 1968 no one knew what would happen with the game 50 years later.

Another custom so I have no one to blame but myself. How embarrassing. Oh well. Kaline still has a wonderful signature and something like this makes it pretty clear that he’s signing things. Also I can’t kick myself too hard since I double checked Getty’s records before making my card.

Heck this kicked of a decent discussion on Twitter (as well as a lot of people laughing at/with me) and a bunch of Tigers fans confirmed that they’d always thought this was Kaline too. Suggestions for who it might be instead? Don Demeter appears to be the Twitter hive-mind consensus. Right-handed. Similar build. Correct playing years.

Anyway it’s always nice to add a Hall of Famer and the fact that this came back in 10 days was very nice. Even with the wrong image it’s a fun piece to have. I only ever saw cards and photos of the older Kaline when I was a kid so I very much like having one of him in his youth. Maybe I’ll re-make this with a correct photo and try again.

Another 10-day return, this time from John Cumberland. He had a fantastic 1971 season with the Giants so I’m very happy to have his 1972 card signed. As a Giants fan I’ve most enjoyed learning about one-season wonders like Cumberland. I remember how important those were to my enjoyment as a fan and it’s players like this who symbolize a particular place and time in the team’s history.

And yet another 10-day return. John D’Acquisto won the Sporting News National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year award in 1974. I did not ask for the inscription but I like that it’s there. D’Acquisto was a fireballer but could never quite put it all together to become dominant. He was formidable enough though that I became aware of him while I was a Giants fan over a dozen years later.

I sort of wonder what would’ve happened if someone with his skill set had come up now and only had to throw for an inning at a time. That he stayed around in the Majors for a dozen years suggests he had the stuff.

Outfielder Frank Johnson came back in 11 days. I always wonder what stories  guys like Johnson could tell. He was stuck trying to break into a pretty crowded outfield but still got to play with Willie Mays. He’s a got a great signature which looks fantastic on that 1969 card too.

Kong! This is a fun one. Dave Kingman also came back in 11 days. I don’t particularly picture him as a Giant despite the team-specific rookie records and achievements he racked up. But I did grow up hearing about his prowess as a power hitter and his penchant for hitting balls into suspended elements of domed stadiums. It’s one thing to be known as a slugger. It’s quite another to be the guy who got a ball stuck in the Metrodome roof.

Dave Rader came back in 13 days. Rader started off his career with the Giants in impressive fashion as both the runner up to the Rookie of the Year and the winner of the Sporting News Rookie of the Year. This 1973 card reflects that rookie season and features one of those photos that could only come from this set.

Steve Dunning also came back in 13 days. Most of his cards have astonishingly awful photographs. Thankfully his 1972 is a nice classic pitchers’ pose at Yankee stadium. It’s the only good photo of Dunning I found s0 I had to scan this card for my custom.

I modified the 1978 manager template to reflect Amateur/Professional status and have been digging through Stanford Daily and Stanford Quad archives to pull photos of guys when they played at Stanford. I’ve been enjoying sending these out and this is the first one that returned.

Frank Linzy came back in 20 days. This was a fun request to send out at the same time as Roy Face since both are part of the first generation of dedicated relief aces. As with John D’Acquisto I can’t help wondering how these sort of players both feel about today’s game and how their careers would’ve been different if they’d played during an age of bullpen reliance.

Lots of players can kind of be compared across time but the bullpen guys are different since bullpen usage has changed so much. I’m not one of those guys who professes to say that one era was better than another. Yes I miss longer starts but I also don’t miss seeing managers leave pitchers in too long. hat does excite me is that bullpen usage is one of those things where it’s clear that managers and teams haven’t settled on a by-the-book strategy and are still trying different approaches.

Bruce Robinson is the first repeat send for me. He had an awesome return the first time and I’ve owed him a response letter ever since. Between my moving and trying to put together customs it took me a long time to write back. But I finally did and sent him a bunch of customs.

He was apparently away for a bit and took 20 days to get back to me. Another nice letter and it’s especially gratifying to be thanked for the customs. It’s cool when guys keep some but getting a thank you letter back is even better.

As much as sending out these requests and doing the research to write nice letters is fun, putting together customs and pulling the stats and everything is even more enjoyable. I love adding them to the binder (yes even that Kaline).

Jim Lonborg is another repeat request. I sent him versions of both my 1956ish design and 1978ish design. He kept one of each and sent the rest back in 6 days. I really like how both of these came out and it’s fantastic to start off with so many of these customs getting signed out the gate.

Time for a break until next year. I know I’ve got at least one return waiting for me at my parents’ house still and there are a decent number just out there in general. But it’s too close to holiday season to send anything.

I’ve got more customs to try though but until then I’m just going to put all the signed one at the bottom of this post since I’m so happy about how they turned out.

A handful of TTMs

I haven’t sent any autograph requests out for a few months but things continue to straggle in to my parents’ house. They’ve just delivered another handful of returns to me so let’s go through them in order from shortest to longest time out.

J.T. Snow, fan favorite and the first first baseman to make us forget Will Clark came back in 99 days. I sent this to his work at the Pac 12 networks where he’s one of their announcers.

I really like the Fleer Ultra card. I’m not keen on the type/design for these but the photography is consistently good and this is a nice action photo which doesn’t look like the usual first base action photos.

The 2001 Topps card is more of a classic image. These cards are super glossy. Even though I treated the surface the signature still smudged a bit.

Lefthander Shawn Estes is also announcing now. He’s with NBC Sports but I actually heard him on one of the free YouTube broadcasts this year. His cards came back in 108 days.

I like how the horizontal and vertical cards produce different signatures. The uncoated 96 Fleer doesn’t scan well but looks great in hand. The horizontal image on the 99 Fleer design though works really well and I love having a photo of a pitcher running the bases.

Bryan Hickerson is coaching for the Indianapolis Indians. These two cards came back in 121 days. It’s always nice to add another signed Mother’s Cookies card to the collection. It’s extra-nice when it’s one of the pitchers with bats cards.

My favorite card that came back is Trevor Wilson’s 1990 Upper Deck card. The “We Win” cap, champagne-soaked tshirt, and goofy grin are fantastic. That the shirt gives a perfect place to sign is even better.

The 1992 Fleer is a photo I like and I just like the way 1994 Pacific with its low-contrast photo-processing looks signed. These came back in 180 days.

The last return took 188 days and I’d sort of given up on it because I’s seen other people get returns from him in under a month. Where Estes, Hickerson, and Wilson are all guys I grew up watching in the 1990s, Rich Robertson is one of those lesser-known players who fills out checklists in the early 1970s.

I’ve been enjoying getting returns form these guys because it forces me to looks up their careers and see what the teams looked like in those seasons. Robertson was the #3 starter for the Giants in 1970, the only year he was in the rotation.