Category Archives: cards

Holy Shit

So yesterday a surprise envelope arrived from Lanny. Seeing how he’d just sent me three 1954s including a Monte Irvin this was not just unexpected but verged on being confusing. Inside was a team bag with its contents obscured and just a note showing that said “Read First!”

So I did and why don’t I just let it speak for itself.

So I know this is beat up. Like, REALLY beat up. But I remember you saying you'd never be able to get one, and it's 100% authentic! I stopped at my LCS for boxes, almost forgot to drive by. As I was checking out, this was on his desk, he had just bought a collection. I told him the story, he cut me a great deal, the rest is history, enjoy!

This shot my eyebrows up. One, because the list of cards that I’ve mentioned that I’ll never get is pretty short and consists of cards that are massively out of my price range. And second, because Lanny is notoriously picky about the condition of his cards and so I was curious about what condition “like REALLY beat up” meant to someone like him.*

*For me it would mean massive paper loss someplace or torn in half. In other words typical Zeenut condition.

Since the card was still hidden between some advertising inserts* I had a bit of unwrapping left before I started swearing.

*Amusingly enough these were “Spring Fever Baseball” inserts from 1986 Topps Mini Leaders.

Swearing in a good way. As in giant smile holy fucking shit are you kidding me kind of swearing. Is it beat up? Absolutely. But aside from the two top corners it’s in really great shape. None of the picture itself is damaged. No creases. No scuffs. I’m not sure this even got flipped. It was definitely loved and taped into an album but compared to most of my 1961 cards it’s in much better shape.

As with some of my favorite things, wear like this indicates card usage rather than card abuse to me. Which is great. It’s beat up in a way that suggests how it was taken care of. And it’s taken care of in a way that I can only conclude that it was was valued by a previous owner in the way that little kids love things to death. Yes I can totally see my kids taping their favorite cards into an album.

Am I assuming it was a favorite card? A little. But it’s Willie Fucking Mays—Willie Fucking Mays the year after he won the MVP and the World Series and made The Catch and wait that’s all on the back of the card.

Yeah there’s writing here. To my eyes it looks like “194 193” which I don’t understand but guess it might have something to do with the card number. Thankfully it doesn’t obscure any of the text. And thankfully the owner didn’t push any harder since it’s pushing through to the front as it is.

It’s wonderful to have all this back information though and be reminded of a time before Mays was the best player in the game. It’s not just that the New York Giants Mays cards are super cool because they predate the move West, their early-career nature shows Mays’s emergence and it’s wonderful to see him so young.

I never expected to get any of May’s 1950s cards—especially his New York ones. 1955 is a great one to have. Great photo. Nice color. Captures the stats and highlights of one of his best seasons. And it competes my team set of 1955 Topps Giants cards. Yes there are only 10 in the set* but it’s still a completed team set. Until yesterday my oldest set was 1973. Now it’s 1955.

*Bowman has 17 for comparison.

Thanks so much Lanny! Sorry about all the swearing.

Housewarming from Marc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Housewarming from Night Owl

So the first mailday after moving arrived earlier this week. Unfortunately it went to the wrong house but we’re still swinging by to pick up things there.* Still. Very cool. Nothing like properly settling into a new home by getting cards in the mail.

*Such as an Amazon package we sent there because we’d forgotten to change our address on Amazon.

This package came from Greg/Night Owl who’s apparently got the hot hand when it comes to pulling Will Clark cards and wants those out of his house ASAP. But he also included a bunch of other cool things and yeah let’s start from the oldest (and best) and work forward in time.

This 1956 Al Dark is a beaut despite being beat up. Lots of small creases and things but none of them detract from the way the card looks for me. 1956 is one of Topps’s top three designs ever and every single card from that set I add to my binders makes things look better.

Dark also marks the last “easy” 1956 card on my searchlist. I’m now down to three missing cards for my team set: Willie Mays (hahahaha), Hoyt Wilhelm (could happen but Hall of Famers are Hall of Famers), and the Giants team card (I guess kids used to throw those out or something since they all seem to be scarce now).

Some more vintage including two guys who I’ve gotten TTM returns from recently. I got both Marshall and Hiatt on 1970 Topps cards already. I’m kind of tempted to send the 1969 to Marshall as well since he’s got a good-looking signature and that Rookie Cup makes for a good-looking card.

Joe Gibbon meanwhile just passed away in February. He’s pictured here on his last Giants card. He’d had a decent few years as a reliever but in 1969 returned to Pittsburgh.

To a couple cards from my collecting youth. It’s always nice to be reminded of the original San Jose Giants uniforms—especially the cap logo. I prefer the current version but these 1989 Star cards depict the first season San Jose was a Giants affiliate and that was a lot of fun to get in on the ground floor for. I can’t believe they’ve been there for 30 years now.

And the Will Clark Collect-A-Book is one of my favorite oddballs. I have the set of these but it’s great to have an extra to put in the Giants binder. I’ll probably binder it in a 4-pocket page too so that I can see more of the booklet.

To cards from this year! Two Opening Day cards. As a set which I don’t collect and refuse to purchase I very much appreciate getting singles in trade packages. I still don’t understand the purpose of this product unless it’s intended to undercut Flagship sales. If I were King of Topps this would one of the first things I’d chop.

And two Big League cards. I like this product. Am not particularly sold on the design. Pennant is nice. Woodgrain is always a good look—especially when it looks like an ash baseball bat rather than a 1970s TV. But the name has a lot going on (thankfully not the team name/city) and the layered photos where the image tiles from the top photo to the one underneath is a bit much.

Still, despite all my reservations, I like these as a reminder of how collecting used to be when I was a kid. You’d just get packs full of base cards and not worry about all the lottery ticket BS that comes with packs now. Lots of cards in a park. Lots of cards in a set. Lots of fun over all.

Finally, a Will Clark insert from god knows what product and a Buster Posey insert from Heritage. Both of these are great for trade packages if you can get them to team collectors but I can’t imagine anyone collecting a set of them. I like these cards. I also know why Greg got them out of his house.

Thanks Greg! I’v been putting lots of stuff away the past couple weeks. It’s about time to get a chance to relax when I do it.

Trade wrap-ups

Despite moving the maildays never let up and I received a few trade packages while my computer was offline and internet unplugged. Now that I’m back on the web I can get a proper response post up.

The first mailday was a plain white envelope from Tim. Nice timing. He pulled a Giants Heritage short print* that I needed. I randomly came across a numbered parallel in Big League. So we did a basic one for one swap and both have cards we much prefer now. Easy cheesy.

*Lord do I hate the fact that Crawford and Posey are by-design shortprints in Heritage.

The blue sky on the Crawford card is a bit closer to the 1970 photography look than a lot of the other cards this year. Not as much the pose. Definitely not the clean background without any random dudes just hanging out. But it’s nice when a Heritage card also has photography that evokes the era of the card as well.

Thanks Tim! If I continue to come across A’s I’ll let you know.

The second mailday was a plain white envelope of the exact opposite kind of cards from Lanny. Lanny’s a White Sox guy whose collecting interests are in a different league from mine. Where I’m looking for beat-up Giants cards and have given up all hope of getting Willie Mays or the high-numbered short prints, Lanny’s building complete sets from the 1950s and 1960s, has most of the big-value cards already, and is doing it in super-nice quality. His tweets where he shows the extra-crispy vintage he just acquired are awe-inspiring.

Anyway, one of the sets he’s building is 1954 and he came across a lot of cards which included some off-condition duplicates. He offered to send them to me and I happily accepted. No idea what I’ll send back since I don’t collect anything in the condition he likes but I’ll figure something out.

The envelope had three cards in it. The first is this Johny Antonelli with its hilariously painted New York logo where Topps didn’t even bother to change the Braves colors on the cap. The black and white cap logo is also awful. I very much like the 1954 design even though the back inconsistency drives me nuts. I just wish the Giants cards included background colors besides white and yellow. 1954 is a beautifully colored set but I have no examples of that in my binder.

The second card is Ruben Gomez. While he’s not a star, I’d heard of him as a kid because he featured in the Baseball Hall of Shame for running away from a player charging the mound. A shame since he also won the first Major League game played on the West Coast.

And the last card is this beauty of Monte Irvin. Even though it’s beat up, off center, and printed out of register it’s still a good looking card. Not just because it’s a Hall of Famer and makes a great addition to his 1955 card, I just really like the photos.

This takes me to nine 1954 Giants in the binder now. That’s nine more 1954 Giants cards than I ever expected to own. Very cool. Thanks Lanny!

John Player & Sons Film Stars

I don’t usually post “look what I got” posts but I have a feeling that my forays into pre-war issues will be the exception to this rule. There are tons of pre-war cards sets out there covering all kinds of subject matter. In many ways each checklist is a cool and interesting example of the kinds of things that were deemed collectable and represent a snapshot of popular culture of some sort at the time. Now though a lot of that stuff is only interesting for what it says about the past and doesn’t hold much of any current cultural interest.

Those sets though that do retain cultural interest though are super cool and hard to resist when I encounter them at a decent price. For example:

Yeah. I just got a set of John Player and Sons Player’s Cigarettes Film Stars. This is the 1938 Third Series. I love this design with the painted portraits and facsimile autographs.  And the checklist is wonderful with a bunch of 1930s film stars who capture that late-30s era when 3-strip Technicolor and the end of the depression gave us a number of films that still make up our visual literacy.

Being a 1938 set puts this release after Adventures of Robin Hood but before Gone with the Wind. The three Robin Hood stars—Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Basil Rathbone—are highlights of this set for me. Robin Hood is one of the first classic films I watched on the big screen at the Stanford Theatre when I was a kid and it’s one I’ve already made sure to show my kids as well.

The backs are also interesting. I enjoy seeing what studios people are with (and who’s without a studio). The bios are pretty bland but frequently include birth names vs Hollywood names. It’s also nice to see real birthdates and, for many of the actors, heights and weights.

Anyway supercool. Superfun to look through and read. I’m very happy to have these in my collection and will enjoy looking at them again and again.

Luis Torrens Fan Club

Last weekend I found an envelope from the Luis Torrens Fan Club in my mailbox. That could only mean one thing. More Yankees prospects.

Indeed there were two cards of guys who are currently at Trenton. Jorge Saez is still splitting time at catcher. The last few games I’ve been to he’s been on bullpen duty with a guy who’s hitting under .100 getting all the starts. I know Saez hasn’t been hitting all that great either but it seems like they’re going with the younger guy for now.

Hoy Jun Park though has been hitting pretty well. I’m a bit annoyed at myself for not realizing that he had 2016 Bowman and Heritage Minors cards so I’m glad I have this one. It’s a fancy shmancy refractor or something but it should look okay signed.

The rest of the envelope was assorted Giants mishmash, starting with this Topps Attax promo card. I don’t quite understand the game and I really don’t understand how a mascot card factors in to this but I kind of love discovering that such cards existed.

A few random Giants cards. Two Chromes which I’m increasingly intrigued by each time I scan them and do a better job at dealing with the different reflectivity of the white opaque ink and the silver foilboard. I kind of like that the 2011 Chrome in particular features white borders. That’s turning out to be especially interesting to loupe since it shows the transition from CMYK to opaque white super cleanly.

The 2011 60 Years of Topps Johnny Mize is a bit of a trainwreck in how it colorizes a photo and uses a design that evokes TV but also 3D effects and all of this looks especially weird when applied to a player who predates all of that.

And two 2019 Heritage cards rounded out the envelope. I like this set but I’m increasingly getting the greenscreen sense when I look at these photos. Still the BElt card in particular is pretty nice. Not the informal 1970 gestalt* but a decent posed photo with interesting background information.

*Needs more random dudes in the background and a cloudless cyan-only sky.

Thanks very much Kenny! I’ll try and get the Park signed ASAP and everything else has a place in the binders.

Mailday from Marc!

So last weekend a bubble mailer from Marc Brubaker arrived. It’s been over a couple months since his previous mailing so I guess I was due.

We’ll start off with three Stanford cards, all of which are new to me. Yes even that Steve Chitren. Did I buy a decent amount of 1992 Bowman? Absolutely. But since I only bought packs and never bought singles, I don’t yet have all of the ones which are relevant to my interests. Since Chitren is in thee 1992 Topps set I never felt the need to explicitly acquire his 1992 Bowman card. Though I’m glad to have it since it’s a pose and picture which is very different from all his other cards.

The Hammonds Finest card is a nice example of a series of cards I never seek out. Finest interests me in terms of how they’re made and what the represent in terms of the 1990s product marketing. I can’t imaging having a binder full of them so I’m plenty happy just having an example or two. I think this is the first one of these in my Stanford albums.

And that Mark Appel Bowman Chrome is sure something. I don’t understand what the point of this is. I guess it’s to show that he’s so hot a prospect that he melted his card. And I guess Topps went with melt because these are plastic Chrome cards. I don’t know, it’s weird and unreadable and the back is even worse because instead of warping the text to look like the melted effect it’s just typeset on curvy lines. Do I want more of these? God no. Am I glad to have one as a sample of something awful. Sadly yes.

Moving on to the Giants. As usual I’ll go through these roughly chronologically. We’ll start off with three San José Giants cards from Star’s massive Minor League set in 1989. These are fun because they show the original San José Giants caps that they only had for their first couple of seasons (1989 would be their second season). The less said about the photography though the better. I’m pretty sure Dewey and Santana both have their eyes closed.

Time to flash forward a couple decades. The Honus Bonus cards are from 2017 and were intended to be part of a Fantasy Baseball product. I’m not fully certain what the rules were but it seems to have melded collecting cards with redeeming the scratch-off codes on the back to create your roster. I gather that there were supposed to be prizes and things but it seems like the whole enterprise blew up midway through 2017.

Neither of these two cards are redeemed so I don’t know if that means that the pack got opened after the game died or if neither Casilla nor Gillaspie were deemed roster-worthy. Anyway, it’s an interesting concept. The cards themselves are kind of wild with those greyscale players on colored backgrounds. I’m not a fan of the look—whether it’s selective color or selective desaturation—and combined with the brightly colored borders I have a hard time seeing these as Giants cards. Casilla looks like he should be a Dodger and Gillaspie an A.

The three Heritage cards I have but the boys should enjoy them. It’s been interesting to watch their tastes develop and they seem to prefer the Heritage designs as well. I should really ask them why but I do suspect that they like seeing the portraits in the photos.

And the Opening Day card is a new one to me. I don’t buy the product but like many of the things I don’t buy, it’s fun to have a sample. I remain convinced that the photo is opf Tony Watson and not Will Smith. Even though Smith actually signed this.

To sets I don’t buy, starting off with a handful of 2019 Bowman. It’s very Bowmanny. I’m not a fan of the borders but seeing how it’s a semi-transparent layer makes me more okay with them. It means the border colors fit with the card photo and also makes me see it as more of an overlay such as I’d expect to see on TV or in a video game.

The Duggar photo is surprisingly nice with low-contrast light that keeps the black shirt and cream pants from blowing out the exposure curve while keeping his face exposed without any shadows. Also good timing on the swing with the step and bat-loading.* Chris Shaw isn’t so lucky with his pants losing all their highlight detail and his jersey getting HDR’d to the max.

*Compare to the Flagship photo where you can see Topps is struggling to balance the light well

Marc was very nice in sending me a Joey Bart card. I had given up on getting any of these since he’s at his price peak right now as one of the big names in the set who all the speculators are trying to hold. And for the flip side of the coin, Logan Webb is solidly in the bust cycle for now due to picking up a suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. Will he come back? Maybe. But for now he’s kind of the opposite of a prospect.

We’ll finish off this post with a batch of Donruss cards. My first 2019 Diamond King is Christy Mathewson. I had to check the back to confirm that this wasn’t part of last year’s cards. This is still a nice looking set and it remains one of the nicest cards just to hold and shuffle through your hands.

That shiny Buster Posey actually also features Joey Bart on the back. It’s a fun insert and I hope Bart is indeed a worthy replacement for Buster. Will that justify the hype he’s getting now? Probably not. But it’ll be good for the team.

And those five 2019 Donruss cards are my first samples from this set. The 1985esque designs on the Crawford Diamond King and Shaw rookie are nice but don’t compare to the wonderful red on black original. Something about the white bars just cals attention to the fact that the logos are missing. This might not be an issue for other teams but with the Giants, removing all the logos means getting rid of all the orange on their uniforms. So when the rest of the card also looks like the color has been removed the entire card feels like something is wrong. Crawford has enough other color so it’s not obvious but the Shaw looks super generic.

On the base design though the orange usage works really well at balancing the photos. Things still look a little off but these look pretty nice. Panini’s done a good job at framing the images in the space* and the result is a nice looking set of cards. It’s not one I’ll collect since it’s too large to be a fun little set build and too small to be a nice comprehensive set** but it’s nice to see Panini branching out from just aping the old Donruss designs.

*Although I wish they’d treated Hunter Pence’s bat a little differently.

**Looking at checklists over the past couple of years has helped me realize that I enjoy small sets with one or two players per team and large sets with at least a page-worth—and preferably an entire lineup—of players per team. And that any sets with checklists that fall between these values causes me to lose interest.

Very nice to start filling a Donruss page in the binder. I still need to get a Madison Bumgarner card since he’s not in any Topps products again this year.

Thanks Marc! It looks like you had some good rips with new product and I’m lucky to be able to enjoy in your unneeded cards.