February Returns

A lot of requests out to Spring Training this month meant I didn’t get a lot of fast returns. Thankfully things trickled in from other requests.

The first return of the month was John Doherty in 20 days. He was in the Majors for five seasons but 1993 was he only one he spent as a full-time starter. That was a decent year for him too with 14 wins in 31 starts, three complete games, and two shutouts.

I set another batch of postcard duplicates out. Renie Martin was the first to send his back in only 8 days. I really like the way signed postcards look and there’s definitely something about giving the player room to sign which works wonderfully even with the bluntest marker possible like Martin used.

Jim Deshaies’s 1987 Topps Record Breaker card is one that sticks out in my childhood memory. Such a simple record which lasted until 2021 (when it was broken by Pablo López) but also kind of odd since you’d think hat the umber nine batter—especially the pitcher—would be the most likely one to strike out. In Deshaies’s case the Dodgers pinch hit for the pitcher in only the 3rd inning and the pinch hitter flew out.

Deshaies was briefly a Giant but because that stint was as part of that 1993 team which, until 2021, was the best regular season team I’ve ever seen, I wand his signature as part of that mini-PC of sorts. Since he’s a Cubs broadcaster now I sent these care of the Cubs and he returned them to me in 234 days.

I got a 17 day return from Giants backup catcher John Rabb. He looks to have been the quintessential AAAA player who did very well in AAA but couldn’t put it together in the majors. By the time I became a Giants fan he was no longer with the team though.

Craig Gerber only played one year in the Majors and looks to have been kind of screwed by the Angels in the years following that because they kept him in the minors on the 40-man roster as insurance but never gave him a chance to play again. In today’s roster churn era a player like him who could play multiple defensive positions would likely have gotten a lot more opportunities. He signed this 1986 card in 44 days

I’ve sent to Kelly Gruber before but wanted a couple action photos as well to accompany the 1991 Studio. As I said before his peak years coincided exactly with my youth fandom so he’s one of those guys who will always resonate with me. HE’s got a nice signature and sent these back in 24 days.

He also signed the index card with a nice note about donating to “our many worthy charities” without specifying any of them. So maybe it means “our” as in the generic “all of us” instead? In which case we absolutely do donate.

I was not expecting any Spring Training returns to come back this month bur right at the end I was surprised by a 14 day return from Alex Young. Yes this is my custom design for last season. Young appeared in two dozen games with the Giants last year and did pretty well racking up a 170 ERA+. He signed with the Reds as a free agent in the offseason though.

Getting the spring training return was a nice way to end the month. Hopefully more come back next month. Things have been slow the past couple of years but I enjoy sending my customs to the fringe guys too much to give up. Plus the whole COVID situation messed up everyone’s rhythms for a bit regarding mail.

January Returns

That late flurry of returns in December nearly emptied my pipeline but a few cards still came back.

The first return of the month was Walt Terrell in 43 days. I’ve stopped sending more than 2 cards in most cases but when a guy has played for multiple teams it’s fun to send cards from each team. Terrell had a decent 11-season career in MLB though his first years with the Mets were clearly his best.

A 197-day return from Mike Trujillo brought a pair of cards from sets I’ve been hitting pretty hard. Trujillo had a short 5-year career including a stint during the offseason on the Giants roster (picked up via trade and then lost via the Rule 5 draft). He pitched best during his spell in 1986 with Seattle (41IP over 11 games with a 178ERA+).

Stu Tate had a short career with only 2.2 innings pitched over 2 games for the Giants. Those two games though occurred in 1989 so he’s kind of part of my 1989 project (which I’ve added to and updated since I wrote the post). This 1990 Fleer was his only appearance in a flagship MLB set (he’s also in 1990 MLB Debut) and it was nice to get it back in 64 days.

The first time I sent to Dusty Baker I realized I’d forgotten to send this copy of my Giants Magazine cover. So I put together another mailing and waiting until after what I hoped would be his first World Series victory. It was very nice to send a congratulations note and even better to get this back in 68 days. Hopefully the World Series victory is enough to get Dusty into the Hall of Fame. He and Felipe Alou deserve their own wing for guys whose combined contributions to the game are worth celebrating.

Since I was sending to Dusty I also included his 2002 card. I have a bunch playing-days and early-manager cards signed but getting one from that 2002 team felt appropriate. Yes that World Series loss still hurts. But that was a fun team and fun ride all the same. I did not send the 1987 Topps card but it’s a fully-appropriate inclusion to my collection.

A 9-day return from Roger Mason brought another player who I remember from my first year as a baseball fan. The interesting thing about Mason is that I really remember him as being part of that 1987 team but the Giants sent him to the minors after April after he struggled in a few of his starts. So something about that first month of my first season as a fan really stuck with me.

Another 9-day return, this time from Jeff Reboulet. Reboulet played in the majors for 12 seasons as a reliable, positive dWAR middle infielder with pedestrian batting stats. Very nice to add another signed 1993 Upper Deck to the binder as this is one of my favorite sets.

And a third 9-day return (all three arrived the same day) from Tom Walker. Walker is most notable for taking part in loading the earthquake relief flight which killed Roberto Clemente (who he’d gotten to know during winter ball in Puerto Rico) and being talked off the plane by Clemente—making him the last ballplayer to see Clemente alive. It says a lot good things about him that he was working on earthquake relief and wanted to see it delivered too.

Walker included a nice postcard sized photo in the envelope as well. Since his best years were with the Expos it’s a fitting team for him to use on his customs.

Shawn Boskie is one of those rookies I remember pretty strongly from the early 1990s when every rookie who looked promising was hyped as an investment. He ended up hanging around the majors for 9 seasons and was the starting pitcher in the game the Cal Ripken Jr broke Lou Gehrig’s record. He returned this in 269 days.

Ray Fontenot played in the Majors for four seasons but the only card of his that I have is this classic airbrushing disaster from 1987. Not my ideal choice of card but it does hit me in the feels. He returned this in 42 days.

A 14-day return from Todd Simmons brought one of those guys who made it onto a Major League card without actually playing a game in the Majors. By the time this card was printed he’d been in AAA for four years and was entering his fifth (and last) season at that level after being traded from the Padres to the Brewers. His Minor League stats look pretty good so I can see why Fleer made the bet he’d be called up soon.

Matt Downs gets counted as one of the Even Years guys even though he ended up on waivers midway through 2010. He does however have a Giants card in Update and I was sot of shocked to discover that I had a duplicate of it. He was only in the Majors for 4 seasons. His 2010 with the Giants wasn’t awful as a defensive sub and his 2011 with Houston was pretty good as both a pinch hitter and defensive sub. He returned this in a quick 10 days.

Jay Aldrich played for three seasons  (1987–90 but not 1988) with a couple of those getting serious action as a reliever. An 11-day return from him brought the 78th autographed 1988 Topps card to the collection as I continue to work on my duplicates from that set.

An 11-day return from Todd Greene finished out the month. Greene was only with the Giants for one season during which he injured his shoulder in a collision at home plate and never properly recovered. Not the best way to end an eleven year career.

All in all a good month. Pipeline is going to be filled now as I commence my annual Spring Training requests. Those haven’t been great for me in the past couple years but I enjoy sending out my yearly customs too much to stop now.

December Returns

Way more than I expected to get this month including a few very good ones plus a few semi-stragglers.

First return of the month is Dana Kiecker in 10 days. Kiecker is another one of those names from my peak childhood collecting years. He was only in the league for a couple seasons but they were the right two seasons.

This was a fun one. I sent to Mike Stenhouse last year but didn’t realize his dad also signed. In my defense I didn’t think I had a card of Dave until I saw that there was a Father & Son card in 1985 Topps so I didn’t think of him as a possible subject. I sent out the 1985 card and it came back in 11 days signed by both of them. This is my first double-signed baseball card and it’s pretty cool.

And this return makes the entire month. Evan Longoria signs a few every winter. I tried him once before to no avail but figured that getting in early with a nice “thank you for being a Giant it’s been fun rooting for you” letter was worth trying again. I’m going to miss him next year and there’s absolutely something satisfying about writing a real thank you note to a player leaving your team. I didn’t expect to get this back at all and was very surprised and pleased to receive it in 14 days.

Scott Eyre was another 14-day return. He only pitched for the Giants for a few seasons and, for a guy who did as well as he did, did not get many baseball cards as a Giant. Thankfully Topps Total existed during this time and makes for a vey nice autograph card.

A the beginning of summer I sent out a bunch of 1987 duplicates. I haven’t gotten one back in a while and was a bit surprised to find this pair from Bruce Bochte after 175 days. It’s always fun to get a pair of cards that are over a decade apart. Besides the comparison it’s an indication of having put together a decent MLB career from being good enough to stick around that long. In this case it’s nice to get another 1976 Topps card back too. I really like that set.

That area under a year but over 100 days is semi-straggler territory and I got another such return with a 303-day return from Dave Schmidt. I don’t even remember going through my 1990 Upper Deck duplicates but I apparently did. Schmidt played in the majors for 12 years in the bigs and has one of hose clear before/after splits. The first 8 seasons? Positive WAR and an ERA+ ranging from 104 to 162. The last 4? All negative WAR and an ERA+ high of 84.

A sent out a decent batch mid-month to keep the hopper full. I did not expect any back until 2023 though and was surprised to find three in my mailbox on Christmas Eve. he firs of these was Bob Priddy in 11 days. Priddy’s 1965 and 1966 Giants cards are high numbers which I didn’t feel comfortable sending out TTM so I ended up sending a 1967 where he’s technically listed as a Senator on the back.

I don’t love the autograph on facsimile thing but it is what it is. Priddy had a respectable pair of years coming out of the bullpen for the Giants but bounced around with 6 different teams over his 9-season career.

Charlie Hough was one of the first TTM requests I made. At the time I was sad I didn’t have a Marlins card to send to him. I’m happy to have rctifid that now plus adding another 1991 Studio to the binder. These also came back in 11 days.

When I was a kid, Jack McKeon was the manager of the Padres. I had no idea he’d been managing since before I was born. It’s very cool to get a signed pair of cards that are 15 years apart. He sent these back in 10 days.

I got a 13-day return from Pat Combs after mail started up again after Christmas. Combs had a brief 4-year career with the Phillies but his 1989 was very cool because he played in each level of professional baseball—6 games in single A, 19 in AA, 3 in AAA, and finally 6 in the Majors. His 1989 stats were great (171 ERA+ over 6 starts) and definitely merited him being a Rated Rookie but unfortunately he wasn’t able to maintain that level.

Combs included a business card for his book. The whole Manhood Journey site and framing gives me hives but I thoroughly agree with focusing on how youth sports can foster a growth mindset and that focusing on winning is a poisonous mindset.

I got a nice spring raining return from Tommy La Stella. Not a straggler but at 292 days definitely one I wasn’t expecting to get back. La Stella was a key part of that 2021 team which won 107 games but had  disappointing 2022. Always fun to get another custom and this is also my first signed 2021 Topps card as well.

One of the fun things I keep track of on the autograph tracking site is my eighteen oldest signed cards. Why 18? Because that’s what I have the page set to load in a single batch.* But it’s also a nice round number representing two binder pages.  Anyway it’s always a good day when I add another card to that list since it represents an area of the hobby that I’m still amazed to be collecting in now.

*It’s actually 16 right now due to having more than two signed 1964 Topps cards so the list gets cut off after 1963.

A 16-day return from Eddie Fisher made it onto the list. Fisher was a knuckleballer who is more notable for his time with the White Sox (during which he worked out of the bullpen with Hoyt Wilhelm) and being a member of the 1965 Champion Orioles. I did find myself wondering how Candlestick’s winds would’ve worked with his knuckler. I also found the back of his card to be amusing because knuckleballs and pinpoint control do not typically go hand-in-hand.

Over on my page where I keep track of which Giants players from 1989 whose autographs I have, Terry Kennedy was the only  starter and prominent player whose autograph I didn’t have on a Giants card. I’m very happy to have fixed that with this 15 day return which brought another signed Mother’s Cookies card to the collection.

That flurry of late returns means my hopper is emptier than I expected it to be and means that next month may be lighter than I was expecting. I do however have a ton of customs to send out now so hopefully things will pick up in the new year.

November Returns

Okay so November was a lot better than I was expecting. Both more returns than I hoped for but also a couple really good ones.

The first return of the month was Clay Carroll in 23 days. He was one of the top relief pitchers for the Big Red Machine in the first half of the 1970s but I sent his capless first-year Braves card instead. Outside of baseball, Carroll’s stepson shot him (also killing his wife) in 1985 which was definitely not something I expected to read about when I was writing about this return.

I definitely enjoy that I’m still receiving Spring Training returns. This pair came back from Jake McGee in 236 days. McGee was not great in 2022 but he had his moments in 2021—including winning the July Reliever of the Month award—so is someone who I should remember fondly as part of that 107 win team.

Dave McKay was the A’s First Base coach when I was a kid in the late 1980s and as such is one of those names which brings me back to that age. Whil I didn’t have any A’s cards of him I did have a 1979 card of him with the Blue Jays, that he returned in 16 days.

A 16-day return from Jackie Brandt brought another New York Giant to the collection. Brand had a good rookie season in New York in 1956 before taking entering the military and missing, essentially, two full seasons. His only other full year with the Giants was 1959 in which he won a Gold Glove. He was a solid player for Baltimore so it’s nice that I have a card that works as both an Orioles and Giants card here.

Probably the best return of the month was this 162-day return from Tony Oliva. He’s usually a bit hit and miss but I took the chance with a “congratulations on the Hall of Fame” letter and I couldn’t be happier with the result. I’m very happy that Topps did these Turn Back the Clock cards when I was a kid since this is the only Oliva card I actually have.*

*Same thing happened with Maury Wills.

I don’t have a lot of 1976 SSPC cards let alone enough to send out requests but the photos are too great for me to not try every once in a while. Brnie Carbo’s is one of the photos I really like and it was a lot of fun to get it back in 23 days.

It’s nice that I’m still able to hit my 1988 Topps duplicates. Jimy Williams was the Blue Jays manager during my first couple years as a baseball fan so it was great to add another of those names to the big stack of signed 1988 Topps. He sent this back in just 10 days.

I’ve been meaning to send to Al Bumbry for a while. I really like his 1978 Topps card but elected to go with his 1983 instead. I don’t have many cards from that set signed and this one looks great. Bumbry won the Rookie of the Year award in 1973 and put together a very goo 14-year career (13 of which were spent with Baltimore).

He included an extra Orioles-produced autograph card. From what I gather, they produce these for events at the stadium and, presumably, give the players a big stack for themselves as well. It’s a nice simple design and, at 3.5″×5″ in size, allows for a nice big signature as well.

December on the other hand looks to be pretty dry. I don’t send out much during the holidays since it always feels a bit weird to me to bug people but there are a lot of stragglers out there so who knows what will show up.

October Returns

Not a lot of returns as I’m still not sending out a lot of requests. But I’ve gotten a few which are over a couple hundred days old and those are always a lot of fun to open up.

The month started off with a 32-day from Steve Buechele. I’d tried sending these to spring training a couple years ago but they got rejected because he wasn’t there so it was nice to have a success on a my second try (this time c/o the Rangers stadium). Always great to add another signed custom to the album too even though he didn’t keep any of the extras I sent. It’s also always fun to add a signed 1993 Upper Deck card. I’d love to try building that set but I’m scared of the UV bricking.

Another great return, this time Larry Walker in 100 days. I saw a lot of people blaming Coors Field for Walker’s numbers while he was on the Hall of Fame ballot but my enduring memory of him is watching him crush balls to all fields during night games at Candlestick. Dude could rake anywhere in the league and is a totally deserving member of Cooperstown.

A 210-day return from Kevin Tapani brought a nice 1991 card back to me. I remember him being a solid pitcher for the Twins that year (and he was) and, since 1991 is right in the sweet spot of  my childhood fandom, that means that I think of his 1991 form first and forget pretty much everything that happened to his career afterwards.

My third spring training return of the year came back after the season ended. Giants pitching coach (and 2009 AL Rookie of the Year) Andrew Bailey has been working through his fan mail during the offseason and returned a pair of customs (he kept none) in 217 days.

This is one of the few private signings I’ve taken part of. While I never saw Jack Clark as a Giant I both remember the stories about him and appreciate his part in Mike Mandel’s 1970s photography. Also, I’ve been grabbing autographs of Willie Mac Award winners* when I come across them. Since Clark is the inaugural winner he’s a good key part of the collection.

*Currently at 21 out of 42 different winners. Plus Willie McCovey. 

Since signings are scheduled the timing is a little less important since I need to get the card there early enough before the signing and then I know to expect it a couple weeks after the scheduled date. That this came back in 43 days is about the expected time.

A 10-day return from  Jerry Kutzler brought me the kind of card they don’t make anymore. Kutzler pitched in 7 games in 1990 and got cards in multiple sets in 1990 and 1991. This 1990 Donruss is particularly nice with a great photo that works really well with the red border. So many players slip through the cracks now though and never get cards it’s really sad.

Don Stanhouse has two great nicknames. “Stan the Man Unusual” would be sufficient for most people but the “Full Pack” moniker that Earl Weaver gave him is even better. I just wish I’d had an Orioles card to send him. He turned this around in a quick 9 days and the big bold signature overpowers the pre-printed facsimile in a nice way.

And that’s about it for this month. The quality more than made up for h lack of returns. Next month should continue to be slow as my send rate has just slowed down and I don’t like to hit people over the holidays. With any luck though some more stragglers will make their way back.

September Returns

A slow month due to refilling the hopper after being away all summer but I got a few good returns nonetheless.

First return of the month was a 77-day turnaround which arrived a week and a half into the month. Guy Hoffman was one of those AAAA players who went undrafted but pitched great in the minors. He finally stuck a bit with the Reds in 1987 as a fourth starter who was good enough to last the season but not be asked back afterwards. I like how the personalization works on this card.

Vern Law is one of those TTM legends who I’ve been meaning to send to but just never had a card of. Last summer though I visited a card shop by my parents in order to dig through their off-grade vintage boxes* and found this 1963 card for a buck. A great-looking card that works perfectly with a signature…and everything else that Law likes to write on his cards.

*Sadly these boxes are being allowed to wither and die since they’ve clearly been strip mined for anything with flip value and the card shop no longer sees them as being worth maintaining. A shame since my favorite part of any card shop is a well-stocked box of old cards to dig through.

Law’s inscriptions mean that I don’t have to write anything about his career since his highlights are all listed. But he was a very good pitcher in the 1950s and was a big part of that 1960 Pirates team. True to his legend form he returned this in only 11 days.

Best return of the month was this 167-day one from Rachel Balkovec. I made this custom way back in the beginning of 2020 as part of my preparation for that year’s Trenton Thunder season. She’d just been hired and between her and Alyssa Nakken I was enjoying making customs for important people who I didn’t expect Topps to make cards of.

Then of course COVID happened, the Yankees dumped Trenton, and Balkovec was named the manager of the 2022 Tarpons. Before this season I sent her a handful of customs, explained why I’d made them initially, congratulated her on her position in Tampa, wished her luck, and said I looked forward to seeing her manage in Somerset.

It seems like as soon as she finished up her season she sat down to answer her fan mail. She kept the extra customs and I’m very happy that she sent this one back. The Tarpons had a rough first half of the season but had a very respectable second half so I’m hoping the Yankees keep her around.

A 13 day return from Joel Youngblood brought another wonderful signed team postcard to the collection. I’ve mentioned it before but Youngblood featured prominently in my first ever MLB game. Despite being a 9th inning pinch hitter he wound up with a 2 for 3 game, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 3 innings of defense at 2nd base, and 3 innings at shortstop.

Jim Gosger has a card as a Giant in the 1970 Topps set even though he never played for the team. Thankfully that card is a high number which I’d never send out TTM and so I get to avoid having to make a decision on the “does this go in my Giants album” question. I wish I had a Pilots card of him to send but the best I had was this 1968 Topps card with the blacked-out Kansas City cap. He sent this back in 7 days.

A pair of cards from Vic Correll came back in 9 days. He was a backup catcher through most of the 1970s but these two cards are both really nice. The 1978 is a nice portrait at Candlestick and the 1979 (possibly also at Candlestick) is a great catcher’s pose.

Del Unser had a 15-year career as a utility player and pinch hitter, bouncing around with five different teams in the 1970s before settling back with the Phillies at the end of the decade. For the Phillies he’s notable for both homering in three straight pinch hit appearances (for which he got a 1980 Topps Highlights card) and for a few timely doubles in the 1980 World Series which played a large part in the Phillies victory. He returned this pair in 12 days.

I’ve not been so good about keeping the hopper full this month. Yes I got some requests out but I always forget how much work it is to get back into the swing of things in the new school year. All of which means that next month looks to be pretty thin.

Vacation PWEs

While I was on vacation, in addition to the sixteen TTM returns I was also pleasantly surprised to find a handful of PWE trade packages waiting for me as well. Always nice when it’s not just bills and junk mail waiting.

The first package is from Greg/Night Owl and includes a page’s worth of fun. I missed out on his giveaway* and apparently these are the only remaining 1985 Fleers he had to get rid of. I’ll gladly take them though and remind myself to put a need list together.**

*Relying on an RSS reader means I miss out on any timed contests.

**Though I also don’t have enough cards to feel like a needlist is necessary yet. Who puts a set needlist up with over 600 cards?

The two 2009 O Pee Chee black borders are great. The more I look at the last 25 years of baseball cards the more sets like this one stand out for being distinct in both feeling like a traditional set while also not directly copying an old design. It would’ve been nice to see what Upper Deck did with this brand had Topps not grabbed an exclusive license in 2010.

Not much to say about the rest of the cards though I do appreciate the 2022 2021 Big League Crawford since I’m not hitting that set hard at all. Also I’m super curious how Greg, as a Dodgers fan who doesn’t go for all the fancy shmancy new stuff, ended up with a 2019 Montgomery Club Giants team card.

A PWE from Jeff Katz almost works as a TTM return. Years ago I was playing around with photoshop and throwing together some Ginter-like cards. Jeff was one of the first I ran through the Ginterizer since his moment wearing the Mayor Quimby sash for the Simpsons day was brilliant. Yeah I couldn’t get all of “Mayor” to fit without making Jeff look like Kingpin.

When Marc printed these all up he sent them to everyone. I got my copies but when Jeff got his I asked for a signed one. He signed small so it would fit on the paper. I’m curious how a silver sharpie would’ve worked instead but not everyone has those lying around.

Another PWE had two packs of John Racanelli’s Literal Cards. This has been an ongoing thing on Twitter where John posts often awful but also often hilarious tweaks on existing cards. I never expected him to actually produce these but I’m glad he did.

There’s something about making them real cards that takes the joke to the next level. My kids also enjoyed them—especially Les Rohr and Willie Mays—which surprised me a little because they always groan when I make these kinds of jokes.

And finally a mini-zapping from Kenny who came into a nice lot of Card Gens and generously decided to spread the wealth. These are always welcome in part because it gives me an excuse to link to Kenny’s You Tube video again but because the actual use of these cards is so far outside how we’ve thought of using cards in the US.

The few Card Gens I have have all come from Kenny and to-date, have been from the 2010 set. This is the first 2012 I have and the fact that it’s a Giant is even cooler. I still hold out hope that I’ll run into the 2012 Sam Fuld on of these days since it’s the only card he got that year.

Very cool guys and thanks for livening up my post-vacation mail pile.

August returns

This is really the second half of July plus August since I was away on vacation for a month and a half. I filled up the hopper before I left and was pleasantly rewarded for it.

Elapsed time on these includes my time on vacation (hence nothing shorter than 60 days) but much to my surprise I got a decent number of stragglers back as well.

We’ll start with the stragglers and a 502-day return from Brad Komminsk. Way back when, Komminsk was one of those “can’t miss” prospects. Unfortunately he could never translate his minor league success to the majors.

He did however play 8 games for the Giants in April 1990 as he was picked up off of waivers at the beginning of the season. So despite having zero Giants cards he slips into my Giants binder.

Pat Rapp is another straggler with a 488-day return. HE’s also another short-term Giants who I saw in San José before he debuted with the team in 1992. He was picked up by the Marlins in the Expansion Draft the following year but did make it back to San Francisco in 1997as part of that magical season.

Not officially a straggler but Brian Holman returned a pair of cards in 207 days. Holman had a short but very respectable four-year career that got cut short by injury. His career highlight was retiring 26 straight batters before losing his perfect game.

While the end of the 1993 season kind of stung as a Giants fan, we did find a little amusement in the Phillies beating the Braves in the NLCS and a lot of amusement in Danny Jackson’s Hulkamania celebration. When I found a photo of it I knew I had to turn it into a custom and send it out. 196 days later it came back. Jackson kept the extras and I hope he enjoyed them.

A 146-day return from Bud Black sort of twisted the knife a bit on my disappointment in how the Giants no longer sell game-day programs. Their covers used to be fantastic and while this one may not have the goofy humor of Will’s World or Caveman the photo composite is fantastic and, as with the Jackson return, is well worth the wait.

Mike Loynd is a bit like Brad Komminsk in terms of big hype which didn’t pan out. Loynd was the 1986 Golden Spikes winner and made it to the majors that same year, only two months after being drafted. 1987 ended up being his last MLB season though since after the Rangers traded him he never got back. He sent this back in 145 days.

A good portion of my returns this month are 1987 Topps since that’s wha I was filling the hopper with. The oldest of these that I got back last month was a 117-day return from Chris Codiroli whose signature looks pretty nice o this card. Codiroli was a pitcher for most of the 1980s with six of those seasons being as a regular part of the A’s rotation. He was even the Opening Day starter in 1985.

Manny Sanguillén doesn’t need much of a bio even though he gets lost in the deep catching pool of the 1970s. Anyone who can beat out Johny Bench for an All Star slot is special and his part in the first all-black MLB lineup is also worth mentioning. I’m glad I had a 1976 card handy since it looks great signed and the 87-day turnaround was absolutely worth it.

A 65-day return from Teddy Higuera added a player and card which immediately brings me back to my first years of collecting. He had great 1986 and 1987 seasons and to me he’ll always be an All Star first despite his career getting derailed by injury.

Ray Soff got into a bunch of games in 1986 and only a dozen in 1987. But he managed to get onto a pair of cards in the 1987 Topps set since the Cardinals Leaders card features a nice candid shot of him on the mound. This return clocks in at 65 days which means it was one of the last requests I sent out before my vacation.

Cliff Speck is a single-season guy but he does have a notable career highlight. Well “highlght.” He gave up the walk-off hit in the bottom of the 33rd inning in the longest professional baseball game in history. H returned this in 63 days.

A 63-day return from Bob Tewksbury brought the kind of player I miss in the modern game. Tewksbury was a right-handed junkballer who put together a very good 13-year career. He’s third all-time in walk rate among modern pitchers and threw a 79 pitch complete game one-hit shutout with no walks and only three strikeouts. I like Game Score as a stat for fun but it definitely shows its faults when someone throws up a Maddux.

Another 63-day return this time from Bob Kearney. He made his MLB debut with the Giants in 1979 but didn’t become a full-time player or really show up on proper cardboard until 1983. These still slide into my Giants album though.

Rich Yett had an intersting career. He started off in the bullpen, became a starter for over a year, then ended up back in the pen. This was in 62 days and I kind of like how the 1990 Topps card turned out.

Bill Gullickson had a nice 14-year career and led the AL in wins in 1991. It also looks like he proved to be a bit of an inspiration in Japan because he was able to play despite being diabetic. I also like the story about him inspiring Sam Fuld. This came back in 61 days.

A 60-day return form Bryan Oelkers means this was probably the last card I sent out before leaving. Oelkers is one of four MLB players to have been born in Spain and, when he debuted, was the first from Spain since 1913.

A good month and lots of fun to return to after a vacation. Next month will likely be super dry since I haven’t sent anything out in over 60 days. But who knows there are always more stragglers out there and I never give up on a return.

July Returns

I sent a ton of stuff out at the end of June because summer activities were starting to fill up and as a result July and August were likely going to be zero-request months. Always nice to fill the hopper and see what happens and returns did continue to come in.

A lot of the requests were 1987 Topps duplicates and sure enough the first return of the month was one of them. Marvell Wynne is one of those guys who I definitely remember seeing a Candlestick with multiple visiting teams back in the late 1980s. As a Giants fan, thankfully his back-to-back-to-back game was in San Diego. He signed this pair in 8 days.

A 7 day return from Steve Farr brought both another 1987 Topps and another 1991 Studio. Something about those 1987s with powder blue uniforms really hits the nostalgia button for me. And it’s always nice to add another 1991 Studio. I’m not trying to build a signed set but this takes me to over the 10% mark (aka 27).

An 11-day return from Pat Pacillo was not on a 1987 card but a 1988 duplicate. Pacillo was part of the 1984 Olympic team and has a USA card in the 1985 set. Unfortunately I didn’t have one of those handy but he played for a couple years with Reds and ended up in all the 1988 releases as a result.

I got a bunch of Dennis Leonard cards back in 8 days. Sometimes you just have a bunch of duplicates. I made a joke on Twitter about how he barely aged from 1976 to 1987 then someone pointed out that the photo on his 1987 card has to be from 1982 because the Royals switched to the script Royals in 1983. This is now the second card I know of in 1987 Topps which uses a year-old photo as the Giants team card features Jim Barr in a photo from 1983.*

*Has to be 1983 because of the uniforms. TCDB claims it’s Jim Gott but Gott wore number 51 and the pitcher in the photo is wearing a number in the 30s. Also Barr has signed the 1987 card TTM.

An 11-day return from Bill Krueger brought another 1987 Topps card back. Krueger had a 13-year career in which he played for 8 different teams. His longest stint was with the A’s at 5 years and then he pitched no more than 2 years with anyone else. His seasons with the Brewers though did result in a net-positive WAR and his second-highest number of innings pitched.

Continuing on the 1987 theme is a return from John Stefero in 8 days. Stefero was a backup catcher who played in parts of three seasons but managed to get into 52 games in 1986. The most noteworthy moment in his career seems to be his game-winning hit in a game that the Orioles scored six runs in the 8th inning to turn an early 7–0 deficit into a 9–7 lead only to blow it in the 9th inning  and need a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th for a 10–9 win.

Mike Boddicker is the kind of pitcher we just don’t see anymore. A right handed junkballer whose stuff Rod Carew famously called “Little League slop,” he had a very-respectable 14-year career including a big part in the 1983 Orioles World Series championship as well as winning 20 games and leading the league in ERA in 1984. He signed this pair in 10 days.

Mike Smithson was another 10-day return with a trio of cards. While he was part of the 1987 Twins team he didn’t feature in the postseason and only played there once Boston started running into those late-80s A’s teams.

While I pulled a 1987 duplicate of Jose Cruz from my pile I decided that I preferred to send this pair of 1981 cards. Cruz is one of those all-time underrated guys who resonates with anyone who saw him play but has kind of been forgotten by everyone else. A shame since he had a great career with a run of consistently good and occasionally excellent seasons from 1975 to 1986. Very happy to add him to the binder in a quick 12 days.

An 11-day return from Mike Vail brought one of those players who I didn’t realize played for the Giants. His only Giants card is in the 1983 Mothers Cookies set so there’s a reason I missed him. Vail put together a 10-year career by playing for 7 different teams. He had a 23-game hitting streak as a rookie but never rally found that form again.

And finally a 15-day return from Steve Fireovid to wrap up a 1987-heavy month. He was in the majors for 6 years but aside from a 1992 Bowman card just featured in the 1987 sets. He’s probably most notable for keeping a journal of his minor league experiences in 1990 which he then turned into a book. I’ve not read it but it seems like a lot of people were expecting something like Ball Four and got something a lot less silly. Probably an interesting read now though given the amount of action going on with regard to finally fixing the situation for minor league players.

And that’s about it for the month. Very 1987 heavy but that’s a good thing. I’ve been avoiding this set for a while because it gets used way too often but it does make me happy to see them signed. It was my first real set from my first real season as a fan and even though Topps has been trying to ruin the design through constant reuse the actual cards themselves still bring me right back to being in elementary school.

June Returns

A decent month making May’s requests look very good as stuff arrived at the beginning of the month and just kept on coming.

June started off with a pair from lifetime Met Ron Hodges. Always fun to find a guy who played at least a decade for only one team. His 1985 is a career capper card and features a nifty catcher image that I really like. He returned these in 14 days.

A pair from Orioles pitcher Bob Milacki in 35 days added a interestingly-framed 1992 Topps to the collection. Milacki had a relatively short career but pitched a couple highlight-worthy games. The main one is a 3-hit complete game shutout in which he faced the minimum 27 batters. It’s an amazing and impressive game to look at since Milacki also walked two guys and only struck out three in 101 pitches. But he got 16 ground balls, four of which turned into double plays and one player got caught stealing. Milacki also pitched the first 6 innings of a combined no hitter in 1991 (exiting the game after being struck by a batted ball).

An 11-day return from Elliott Maddox brought another interesting story across my awareness. Maddox was a decent player but kept suffering leg injuries. The injury he got in 1975 (which derailed a very promising season) led him to sue the City of New York for the shoddy field conditions. While he won his initial suit he eventually lost on appeal as the court ruled that it was his responsibility to refuse to play if the filed conditions were unsafe. This strikes me as incredibly unfair.

Dale Berra sent back a 1981 Topps card in 8 days. He’s unfortunately, probably the most memorable for his baserunning fiasco with Bobby Meacham.* In 1983 he also became the first player since 1939 to play for a team that his father was managing when he joined the Yankees.

*Yes I’ve mentioned this before.

I feel a little bad mentioning the baserunning though since Berra also included a bonus 1980 Topps card and thank you note. Has been a while since I got a bonus card and it’s always nice when that happens.

Back to working sets from my youth. Tom Trebelhorn was the manager of that Brewers team which started 1987 with thirteen straight wins (let’s not talk about what happened after that). That being my first season as a real baseball fan it still stands out prominently in my memory. Was fun to add this, my fourth signed manager card of the set, in 34 days.

Kevin McReynolds is one of those guys I remember watching when he came through Candlestick. Those late-80s Mets teams were always noteworthy opponents with a scary lineup that was always in contention for the division and winning 90+ games. This was a quick turnaround in just 11 days.

Jeff Russell was another 11 day return.  I didn’t get to see him pitch but as the 1989 Rolaids Relief Award winner he was one of those extra notable players whose names I remember. He’s got a lot of nice cards but I like the photo on this Upper Deck.

I probably should’ve gone with a Cardinals card for Tom Herr since that’s how I remember him but I like 1991 Studio too much. That Cardinals team was just pesky. Get on base and run run run to the point that Herr managed to drive in over 100 runs one year despite fewer than ten homers. He’s  close by in Pennsylvania and got this back to me in 13 days.

Sometimes I wonder what it means to send cards to guys who are famous for being busts. Kirk Dressendorfer was one of the A’s vaunted Four Aces along with Todd Van Poppel. Unfortunately it seems like he had been overworked in college* and didn’t have anything by the time he reached the majors. Still, as someone who lived through the hype, his name brings me right back to that promise and I’m happy to get this card back in 42 days.

*I cut my teeth keeping score at college games and the amount of pitches college guys threw back then was insane. It didn’t make sense to me then and I totally understand why pitch counts have become so important now.

An 8-day return from Johnny Ray brought another of those names which just takes me back. Ray had a very good 11 year career with the Pirates and the Angels as a switchhitting second baseman who was a tough out—especially a tough strikeout—and for most of his career an above average fielder.

This is a pretty run-of-the-mill photo for 1986 Topps but is an example of how good most of the catcher cards are. Jody Davis started off as a big stick, no glove catcher but by 1986 had turned himself into both an All Star and a Gold Glove winner. He returned this in 17 days.

This was not a May request. I sent to Dave Lemanczyk in March and it came back in 98 days. I very much appreciate the extra photo of him on the Blue Jays since he was one of the originals and led the team in Wins that first 1977 season. And yes it’s a photo print of a JD McCarthy postcard which looks pretty good considering that the original was halftoned.

Both of these Gregg Olson cards are ones I distinctly remember from my youth. He was one of those hot rookies who turned out to be a great closer in those early days when everyone was trying to find their own Dennis Eckersley. Good fastball and a vicious curveball which was more like what you’d expect from a lefty. All his requests go through the Auburn baseball program so it was completely fitting that I sent the Auburn card. Both of these came back in 60 days.

The last return of the month was The Bull, Greg Luzinski in 24 days. I only ran into White Sox cards of him when I was a kid but I obviously had to send a Phillies card. One of these days we’ll get to a Phillies game and, hopefully, he’ll be there at his barbecue and the boys can get cards signed of him.

And that’s June. Summer is going to be a bit of a lull as vacations and things will get in the way of both sending and receiving mail. Hopefully some returns still trickle in though lord knows I have enough out there still.