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.

Totes jelly

Kind of funny. For the past month I’ve not gotten any mail on Saturdays. It’s weird when that happens since I keep thinking mail is arriving super late instead and end up checking every hour until it gets dark. I began to think that Saturdays were only for packages and that regular letters and junk mail would wait until Monday.

Then last Saturday I got a regular delivery. And then on Sunday I woke up to find another delivery in my box which suggests that I was both correct to check for late deliveries and that of course the one day I didn’t check for a late delivery is the day I left packages on my doorstep overnight.

Anyway one of those packages was a box from Marc Brubaker. Yeah, a box. I’ve gotten boxes from Marc before but between the complete absence of baseball and much-decreased access to product the past couple months have been all about surprise plain white envelopes—something at which Marc excels.

So I opened it up and found that it wasn’t a box of cards. Yes there were cards inside but also two rolls of film and a jar of loquat jelly from his recent bounty. Film is much appreciated though I haven’t had a chance to go out for a photowalk in a long time. Heck I’m still working my way through a roll of 220 from my last mailing of film. I’m pretty sure it’s Portra 400 and at this point I hope it is since I’m exposing it as if it is.

And the jelly will be great. We’ve been making lots of pancakes and it’s great to change things up with different toppings. As someone who grew up with loquat trees in his backyard this will be a great taste to introduce to the kids as well. I’d love to be able to find them out here in New Jersey but they don’t seem to be able to survive our winters.

And yes there was also a surprising amount of cards—three team bags worth—in the box. The usual assortment of Giants, Stanford, and randoms so let’s start with the Giants. I’m continuously amazed at how I can discover new sets that were released in the 1990s and 2000s.

With the 1980s at least the sets I’ve never heard of are regional releases. In the 1990s and 2000s though there are so many big releases that I just can’t keep track. The 2000 Metal cards here are one such set that I’d just never seen. Not as over-the-top as the earlier Metal cards which remain some of the craziest cards I’ve ever seen but still an interesting finish to the card surface which remains unlike anything being produced now.

A couple other cards to note are the Pinnacle Steve Hosey and Silver signature Barry Bonds which both fill holes in sets that I only ver purchased a single pack of as a kid. The 1992 John Patterson meanwhile fills a nice hole since I have that card in my autograph binder.

There was also a lot of Gypsy Queen. I’m happy other people buy this product and send me Giants because I will never spend money on these. Same goes with Gallery. They add a bit of variety to the binder but a little bit goes a long long way. And that the Brandon Belt card is one of those fancy framed variants that always interests me from a production point of view.

The super-sparkly (or whatever this is called) Tyler Beede is a similar addition. I don’t chase these cards either and kind of hate all the insert variants. But I do enjoy adding the splash of interest to a binder page.

I do like the Wilhelm Distinguished Service card. Military service is an interesting and different way to build a checklist. Where my parents’ generation grew up seeing military service listed in the statistics of many players, by the time I was a kid that was all a thing of the past.

The Pinnacle Tim Lincecum is kind of nice too. It’s weird. 2013 Panini had a bunch of one-year-wonder sets that are more interesting than most of what has become their standard releases. My understanding is that sets like Pinnacle and Hometown Heroes caused collectors to take Pinnacle seriously yet neither of those sets were ever released again.

To the 2020 cards. Marc’s been surprisingly active acquiring cards this year. We’ve got Heritage, Opening Day, Stickers, Flagship, and Donruss all represented. Meanwhile it’s been over two months since I even set foot in a store which stocks cards.

This completes my Heritage team set (well except for the Yastrzemski shortprint) and gives me my first taste of Opening Day, Stickers, and Donruss. I can see why people like this year’s Donruss set. Logolessness aside it’s come into its own and has a clean, generic 1990sish design. Still a little too reminiscent of the Donruss designs from 2014 to 2017 for me but it at least knows what it’s doing now.

A batch of Stanford guys which features some more 2000 Metal as well as a couple other cards I don’t have yet. Some of those, like the 1989 Score Traded Mike Aldrete, are sort of surprising omissions. Others such as the Appell, Hutchinson, and Mussina are the kind of things I never search for but love to add to the binder.

Marc also went ahead and attacked some of my smaller projects. A handful of Scott Erickson cards. Four 2014 Topps for the setbuild. Two Sportflics cards for the action binder. All quite welcome and evidence of someone clicking down through the searchlists.

And finally the last handful of cards Marc includes are always a bit of a puzzle for me. Stanford Jenning is clearly a joke. Yes I laughed.

The rest though I’m not so sure about. I thought at first that the Ruth was for my photographer binder but there’s no photographer credited. The two Muñoz cards though I’m genuinely confused by. I’ll keep thinking about it ad maybe it’ll come to me.

Thanks Marc! Stay safe out there.

Grey Areas (and Mission Creep part 2)

While I’m writing about mission creep I may as well cover my Stanford Project and how it’s creeping into never-ending project territory. This isn’t an explicit expansion of the scope of the project—it remains focused on Stanford alumni who played in the Majors—but rather a reflection of how much grey the borders have and how I’m pushing into that greyness.

I’ve mentioned some of this before. Bobby Brown and Bill Wakefield are both examples of how even something as tightly-defined as my base project description has some grey. Bobby Brown didn’t graduate from Stanford but did play for the baseball team. Bill Wakefield meanwhile is the opposite. He graduated from Stanford but went pro before he could play for the team.

I initially ruled Brown out but I’ve come to accept that I should be more inclusive in general with my binder. Something tightly is nice but I found myself enjoying the random out-of-spec cards that I had also included.

Minor league cards of guys who played in the majors but never got major league cards are less of a grey area but one which pushed me out of my Major League cards only initial concept. I felt it was better to be inclusive here as well and enjoyed the resulting variety.

This of course pushed me into finding assorted cheap signed cards of alumni who didn’t make it to the majors. I’m probably also on the look out for minor league cards of these guys as well now. Not in the sense of have to get them but it’s cards like these that give a bit of variety to the binder and remind me of players I watched when I was kid.

This also meant that I started to look into cards of baseball players who went on to play football and never got a baseball card. With these cards I’ve tried to get cards that mention their baseball playing on the backs. I’m also happy just getting a card to two of each player rather than mapping a career.

Nevers is an interesting case in this group since he does have some baseball cards (I actually have his Conlon card) but they’re mostly unattainable Zeenuts. And his only vintage football card is one that’s out of my price range but it’s one I like since it shows him with Stanford.

There are also cards of non-baseball alumni that show up in baseball sets. This is mostly an Allen & Ginter phenomenon but the Tom Watson First Pitch insert shows that things aren’t limited to that. I don’t feel the need to get both regular or mini versions here, it’s really just a function of what I find.

I do however like this sort of organic creep. These are all technically baseball cards still, just not of baseball players. (Yes Jessica Mendoza counts as baseball now due to her stint as an advisor for the Mets). I don’t claim to have everyone in Ginter either since I haven’t gone over the whole checklist or insert sets with a fine toothed comb.

The Ginter cards also take us into Olympian territory. While I don’t feel any desire to get cards of players in the NBA or NFL, I do find myself liking the cards of Stanford Olympians.

Stanford’s rich Olympics history has been especially fun to research since Guys like Pete Desjardins show up in sets from the 1930s and Bob Mathias is in sets from the 1950s. While there are a lot of 1980s and 1990s Olympic history sets, it’s great to be able to throw some old cards into the binder too.

In the old card theme, sometimes I just can’t pass one up. I love Exhibits so Jack Palance was an obvious addition. There have been a bunch of Presidents sets but I like this 1956 Topps Herbert Hoover as one of the earlier ones.

And the Sportscaster Hank Luisetti was a nice solution to the “what Sportscaster should I get” question I was stuck on. With an old or weird set, finding something that fits in the grey area of my collection interests is how I choose my example card.

With more-modern weird sets, this sometimes manifests itself as a “what the hell I’m already doing this project” acquisition. Again, not something I actively seek out but fun to grab as I come across them. The non-sports ones are ones I’m more likely to grab too since they represent an interesting category of people who I don’t always expect to find on trading cards.

And finally there are the regular sports cards that I’ve just come across. Some of these have shown up in trade packages. Others just in piles of cards I’ve had access to. Again not anything I’m searching for or intentionally expanding the scope of the project to include. But they’re all fun additions which make the binder more interesting.

Candlestick Pages

In the tradition of my Colorwheels project, I have another project I’m passively working on as a way to get a page from multiple sets without going down the rabbit hole of set building. In this case I’m looking at getting a page of cards which show Candlestick park in the background. I grew up with The Stick and seeing it in cards always reminds me of going to games as a kid.

This project only really starts in 1972. From what I’ve been able to figure out, there aren’t really any cards take at Candlestick before this season.* I have most of the Giants cards now and there’s maybe one taken there.** Starting in 1972 though most of the Giants cards are at The Stick and there are a bunch of other cards in the set as well.

*There are cards from the late 1950s and early 1960s that feature Seals Stadium.

**1971 Gaylord Perry

That 1972 is the first year that cards depict Candlestick is fun because many of these cards show all the construction work that went into expanding and enclosing the park for the 49ers. This expansion is what turns Candlestick into the park that I knew and marks another reason for me to only worry about cards starting in 1972.

Unlike the colorwheels project, while I would like to get a nice colorful page, I’m biasing my choices toward interesting photos and between that and the fact that there are only a handful of teams with photos taken in San Francisco I’m finding myself with a lot of repeat teams on each sheet.

1973 and 1974 I’m only getting started with. Nothing much to note here except that it’s nice to see the mix of action and posed images and that Denny Doyle represents one of the rare American League cards that will be in this collection.

1975 and 1976 I have complete pages for. These aren’t set in stone but I went for a nice mix of stadium views. I especially like seeing the 49ers press box and the pre-Jumbotron scoreboard. The switch to wide angle lenses for the portraits in these years also results in fantastic stadium perspectives.

1977 and 1978 demonstrate how certain road teams like the Braves tend to have a lot of Candlestick shots. I’d like more team variety for these pages but since 1978 is a set I’m building I’m stuck with duplicates I come across.

A lot more headshots in these years also means that I don’t see as much of the stadiums in the background.

1979 is very much continuing from 1977 and 1978. I’ve also started putting a page of Hostess cards together since I’ve noticed that a lot of the Hostess cards are shot at Candlestick as well. I think I’m just going to Frankenset a page of Hostess together though unless I come across a big cache of them. And yes the Braves dominance on these pages continues.

Moving into the 1980s and 1990s and I haven’t broken out individual pages yet since there are more sets to consider. When I come across cards I put them in. But I haven’t even done a concerted dig through my piles of junk wax yet to find the undoubtedly dozens of cards that are relevant.

I’m also not sure how far I’m going to take this in the 1990s. Part of me is inclined to stop at the strike. Part of me likes the idea of going all the way until 1999 when the last game was. Might even be fun to see if any photos crept into the 2000 set. But those are longer term goals for now. I’m still learning about what was going on in general in the hobby after 1995.

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.

Two more sets complete

So it looks like either everyone’s New Years resolution this year was to help people out with completing sets or that my set builds all hit a point of no return where instead of slowly building things it became a challenge to actually finish them off. Anyway, after finishing 1991 Studio and 1991 Donruss I got two maildays last week which finished off 1990 Upper Deck and 1990 Fleer.

We’ll start with the first mailday from fellow member of the Twitter
Printing Clique Robby T.

Nine cards to kill off my 1990 Upper Deck needs plus three duplicates (Kevin Mitchell, Jeff Ballard, and Jack McDowell) that mean I don’t have to choose between whether I pull cards for my Giants and Stanford binders.

Yeah. Two Bo Jacksons. I wasn’t very luck with my initial batches. Anyway this is a nice batch which includes a decent number of photos that show why I like this set so much. Nice minimal design. Brightly printed photos. A good mix of action and candid head shots.

As is Robby’s usual MO, he sent me a decent stack of Giants cards from various other sets. A lot of these I have and so these are going to make their way into my kids’ collections. Many of them though I do not and so I was able to fill in a lot of holes.

I’ve come around to the conclusion that while the 1990s card designs were getting sidetracked by all kinds of design and printing gimmicks, the photography is kind of wonderful. Photo technology was good enough to get shots we’d never seen before but there was a commitment to picking interesting photos too.

Also the 2009 O Pee Chee set is one which I increasingly like. In an age of glossy foilstamped sameness, these feel like what cards are supposed to feel like. The photos aren’t bad either. I can see myself wanting more of these.

A few assorted Giants. Nothing really to note here except that I really like the Willie Mays set and am sad that I never saw any of these in 1993. These were always fun things to find in Upper Deck but I was either being priced out of the hobby in 1993 or my interests were starting to drift into other areas since I didn’t get many Upper Deck packs at all.

More modern Giants cards plus some weird stuff. The Holiday cards are kind of an amazing trainwreck which is so ridiculous that it ends up working for me. The Anderson is a glitter variation which is fun even though I’m worried the glitter will end up migrating to other cards.

A couple 2020 cards which show how Topps screwed up the horizontal design. The backs of these are all aligned together. The horizontal text though is upside down. Not a good look at all and suggests that there’s no one at Topps who is thinking about how people are going to store and look at these.

And three random cards finishes out Robby’s mailing. The Polio Vaccine card makes me laugh because I made some Penicillin customs that I’ve been mailing to guys who have everything. Also that photo of Salk makes him look like Larry David. The Pablo Sandoval World Baseball Classic card is awesome and the Hideki Okajima is a fun addition to my small Japanese baseball card collection.

A new trader to me, Todd Williamson, finished off my 1990 Fleer set. I just needed one card but now I ned none. Todd also included a few other set needs. Some Upper Decks that Robby beat him to and two 1994s  that take me to only needing 37 left.

Todd asked what else I collected and pulled some weird stuff for me.  The two Mussinas are ones I didn’t have so that’s always great. The two other cards looked super routine until I flipped them over.

The 1982 blank back is one of those quirks that’s fun to have a sample of but which I’d never go out and actually acquire. It doesn’t teach me anything about how the cards were made but it’s still cool.

The 1990 Kirby Puckett meanwhile is in fact a box bottom card. These are one of my favorite things. I used to collect used and beat up boxes from my local super markets. I still keep an eye out for cheap box bottom batches on ebay and am slowly building the various sets of these from the 1980s and 1990s.

Most of Todd’s package though was a ton of 1992 Topps Gold. This was one of my favorite things back in the day. I never got too many when I was a kid—one scratched-off Winners batch and a bunch that came with my factory set. So it’s very cool to have most of a team set and this batch of 25 pretty much doubled my collection.

Ramos and Beck are also two of the guys who replaced checklists. I’ve mentioned this before but I’m down to needing just #366 Tony Perezchica in my question to build the larger 1992 Topps set.

Very cool guys. Four complete sets this year and February isn’t even done yet. Thanks!

And another set gone, and another set gone…

I’m kind of liking this whole New Years Resolution thing which is resulting in sets getting finished. A couple more maildays last week resulted in me finishing yet another set.

First off, Focustheframe sent me another 1990 Upper Deck card which I needed. Not much to say about this card but every little bit helps.

Then I got a package from another new trader.  Adam (@amhlaw63) has a bunch of junk wax and is doing the dad thing of looking for cards that his son wants. I was able to find a bunch that worked and apparently made his son pretty happy with some shiny Cubs inserts. In return Adam killed my 1991 Donruss set build.

This is a random selection of last cards and I don’t have anything good to say about any of them aside from noting that Quinones is a former Giant who confused me when I first started collecting by having Giants cards in 1987 despite not being on the team.

Adam also included almost two-dozen Upper Deck cards. I needed thirty at the beginning of the year, this takes me down to needing only eight.* Very very cool to be this close to finishing.

*72 Juan Gonzalez, 75 Bo Jackson, 105 Bo Jackson, 146 Brian Downing, 201 Terry Puhl, 254 Paul Molitor, 325 Benito Santiago, 499 Dale Sveum

I really like this set too. Photos are a lot brighter than in 1989 and the design is the kind of photo-centric design I prefer. The Grissom is a nice portrait. Whitaker shows some good action. Boggs action card isn’t as cool as a lot of the other once but it’s never a bad thing to cross another Hall of Famer off the list. And it’s nice to finally get one of the three Bo Jacksons in the set.*

*I ripped a box and couldn’t even turn up one of them.

Nothing daunting in the remaining eight cards. The Juan Gonzalez rookie is likely the biggest one left. But now it looks like there’s a real chance for me to finish this this year.

Thanks guys!

Another set bites the dust

Oh look a new trading partner! Every new year seems to spawn some “so what sets are you working on” threads. The result is always a couple new trading partners who are also working on junk wax sets. In this case @Focustheframe reached out to me and a couple days later we each made significant progress on some set builds.

Yeah I only got three cards but that Gary Wayne represents 25% of my 1991 Donruss searchlist and the Nolan Ryan completes my 1991 Studio build. Yup. It’s always nice to slide that last card in and finish the set. Especially one as nice as Studio 91.

I’ve mentioned it on here before but this set is one of my favorites from when I was a kid. The photography in this set completely transformed my understanding of what a baseball card could be and they still look unlike any other cards.

That they’re printed with three spot colors plus black instead of process inks is also pretty distinct. Things were going off the rails in the 1990s as brands tried anything and everything to out-fancy each other. Three spot colors would count as that except that I think it’s too subtle for most people to notice. It works really well for this design though, especially the warm metallic grey duotone that gives the black and white photos a lot of tonality.

That my last card is Nolan Ryan is fully appropriate for a 1991 set. He was at the top of the hobby that year and is a much more memorable last card than any of the guys who will finish my 1991 Donruss set.* I’m not close enough on 1990 Upper Deck, 1994 Topps, or 2014 Topps to know who will be last but the other builds have been somewhat memorable. My last 1990 Fleer card is Carlton Fisk. My last 1986 Topps card was Eddie Murray. And my last 1978 Topps card will be either Murray or the Trammel/Molitor rookie card.

*Hal Morris, Scott Aldred, and Luis Quinones.

Super cool to finish a set! Thanks for the help.