Box of “Junk”

A couple months ago I received a box of cards from @Captnarrr who had grown tired of using it as a doorstop in his woodshop. No pages this time so I didn’t have the same sense of looking through someone else’s collection that I had from his previous box. Instead I just found stacks of mostly 1981 to 1985 Topps.

I’m not going to go through all the cards because they’re mostly commons and I don’t feel like scanning or photographing them all. But it’s a fun stack which hits a bunch of sets that fall into a bit of a black hole in my card knowledge.

Cards from before 1979 I never encountered in the wild as a kid so everything I’ve learned about them involved learning about them through hobby sources. However since I also spent a decent amount of time trying to choose which one of them I wanted for my collection, I got a chance to look through the commons binders and at least see a good amount of the sets.

1980–1985 though are cards which I opened exactly one pack of.* As a result, despite being cards that I’m superficially aware of, my knowledge has been limited to the ~15 cards I pulled over three decades ago.

*Except 1983 Fleer and 1984 Donruss which cost more than I could justify on a pack and so I just purchased Giants team sets. 

Which means that it’s been a lot of fun to just look through, sort these, and get a much better sense of some sets that, given my age in the hobby, I would expect to know better.

A few Hall of Famers (and one should-be Hall of Famer) to show some of the breadth of cards here. As a Giants collector, the league leader cards are things I don’t come across much in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And it’s nice for me to find cards of players like Carlton, Fingers, Perry, and Stargell who aren’t exactly 1980s stars but are fun to find in these much-more affordable 1980s sets.

And the Giants cards from the box.Most of these I have already. Some are upgrades to what I do have though. But most of them have been mixed in with my existing duplicates for distribution to the boys who still very much enjoy adding to their Giants baseball card collections.

It wasn’t just early-80s stuff in the box though. The oldest cards were a handful of 1961 Yankees cards including the always-interesting Ryne Duren who I’ll have to make sure to tell the boys about. It’s funny, I complain about the Yankees surcharge but I also have to admit that I’m more likely to recognize a random Yankee than a lot of other players.

A few other older cards included a card of Ruben Amaro Sr. whose son is part of my Stanford collection and a 1973 team card of the Mets which doesn’t appear to include Willie Mays in the team picture.

And finally, probably the weirdest part of the box was 15 Tigers cards from 1976. This is a significant portion of the base Tigers cards from that year but given how Captnarrr lives in he Pacific Northwest, I’m a bit confused about how/why he ended up with these being his stack of 1976s.

Anyway very cool. Lots of fun to look through. I’ve already sent a few out TTM* and I’ll probably continue to look through the stacks and get to know these sets better.

*Willie Wilson for example.

Picking Pockets

Julie over at A Cracked Bat is no longer super active on twitter but she’s still blogging sporadically. I enjoy her blog, especially her themed collections, and contributed a few customs to the cause. This also mean that I felt eligible to partake in her Pick Pockets page where she will list various cards available to fellow traders.

After some USPS hang-ups, earlier this week I got a small envelope containing a handful of cards I picked late last year.

Three cards from before I was old enough to be collecting cards. I’ll never turn down the chance at a nice Kellogg’s card and since my gut instinct is to think of Dave Parker as a Red, it’s always nice to build up the number of Pirates cards I have of him.

The two Ralston Purina cards hit me in my feels. I had a handful of these, and the near-identical Cereal Series cards, when I was a kid and they’re partly responsible for my love of oddball food issues. The white card stock was such a departure from the regular Topps cards of that era and the design itself was unlike anything else.

I’m not building either set but I have no problems adding to the ones I have. Maybe I’ll embark on a Cereal/Purina frankenset quest and try and split things 50/50 between the two.

The other two cards were a pair of oddballs from my youth. I used to buy Bazooka and definitely collected the cards in the early 1990s but the 1988 and 1989 sets escaped my notice. The gum wrapper logo/design is a lot of fun and I just love adding stuff like this to the oddball binder.

The 1992 Score Procter & Gamble is one I never saw as a kid. It’s a wild design—in way reminiscent of the inserts from the 1980s. Looking up the set details now, it looks like you had to send in three proof of purchases and I don’t think my family purchased any Procter & Gamble products. I love that I can still come across card sets from my youth which I never encountered before.

Very cool stuff and I’m glad Julie’s pockets weren’t picked through by the time I got to them.

Retired Numbers

Just over a year ago before everything got shut down I visited Queens to see Ralph Carhart’s Home Base exhibition. While the show was good, as was getting to met Ralph and Mark Hoyle, one of the things that I didn’t discuss anywhere was how Ralph showed us some images of a massive collection that he had been cataloging and preparing for sale.

He’s since blogged about the collection on SABR and watching his journey down the rabbit hole of awesomeness has been a lot of fun. Earlier this month he reported on Twitter that the auction houses had picked through everything and he had a ton of index cards available for sale. So I took a look and there was a lot to covet.

Being disciplined, I remembered a goal that I had mentioned when Jason sent me a Bill Terry card for Christmas and started off looking for Giants retired numbers as a supplement to my goal of getting a playing-days card of every Giants retired number. Lo and behold, Ralph had three that I was missing and so I placed an order.

A few days later the cards arrived and I was very happy.* It’s not just autographs but the fact that I feel like I learned about them before almost anyone else and how they serve as kind of the perfect way for me to mark a year of pandemic living.

*As were my kids since one of the first things they noticed at their first Giants games was the line of retired numbers posted in the stadium.

It also means that I have enough material to put a post together of my Giants retired numbers. This isn’t a comprehensive list of what I have. For each player I’m showing the oldest playing-days card I have and his autograph.

NY—Christy Mathewson, John McGraw

No cards here and autographs are completely outside the realm of consideration (I’m not sure I’ve even seen a picture of a McGraw signature). Heck their cards are also pretty much a pipe dream. Both of their T205s and T206s are some of the nicer ones in the sets and both of them remain pretty big fish in the pool of pre-war stars.

3—Bill Terry

Both of these are total shocks. Still. The National Chicle card is a beauty and great example of a playing-days card. The index card is from the Gould collection and is a great clean version of his signature.

4—Mel Ott

Not as hard to get cards of as McGraw and Matthewson but still very much in demand. Ott is another guy whose signature I can’t recall ever seeing as well.

11—Carl Hubbell

Very happy to have his signature on an index card. Like Ott his cards are still in high demand.

20—Monte Irvin

Irvin’s cards are surprisingly not too spendy. Only his rookie cards seem to be tough. I haven’t ventured into any of his 1952s yet but I can actually see that happening.I actually have a signed card of his on my COMC pile which will show up some day once I get around to requesting it.

22—Will Clark

Still boggles my mind how expensive that 1986 card was when I was a kid in the Bay Area in the 1980s. I think I’ve encountered enough of them in the past couple years in trade packages that both of my kids have copies now. And the autograph is an in-person one which I’ve blogged about already.

24—Willie Mays

Story about the card is on the blog. The autograph is one that my mom got in spring training. The only time she took advantage of her media pass was to get this. And yeah it was worth it.

25—Barry Bonds

Is interesting that Barry is the only retired number who didn’t debut with the Giants. So I went with his oldest Giants card instead of his oldest card for this post. I honestly forgot I had this until I started witing. My complete sets aren’t something I’ve looked though as much as my team binders.

The photo meanwhile is one my mom took in 1993 and when I got it signed in 1994. I wish we had had silver sharpies back then but I really like that this is truly one of a kind.

27—Juan Marichal

Marichal is going to start a trend where my oldest card is the oldest card which is neither a rookie nor a high number card. I don’t have any of the Hall of Fame rookie cards and Marichal is a high number in 1962 and 1963. Which makes 1964 my oldest card. His autograph is one of the first TTM requests I wrote.

30—Orlando Cepeda

I’ve a decent run of Cepeda cards. I’m just missing his rookie. And I’ve blogged about his autograph before.

36—Gaylord Perry

I know, this looks like a rookie card but it’s not. His 1962 is the one that costs a lot. This floating multi-head card isn’t the prettiest card out there but many of Perry’s cards are pretty dire. Topps was not particularly kind to him until the 1970s. The story about the ball is one of my favorites on the blog.

44—Willie McCovey

And finally the last index card from the Gould collection. McCovey is like Marichal with an expensive rookie card followed by high numbers until 1964.

Looking forward, Bruce Bochy is totally going to get his number retired some day (or at least he should). I hope it’s sooner rather than later but my guess is that the Giants are waiting for the Hall of Fame to make the first move. Besides, they technically haven’t had Will Clark’s ceremony yet so once they do that this summer we’ll see what happens.

New Years Mailings

A new year and some new trade envelopes rolled in. Not as many as I was expecting to receive (some appear to be stuck in the eddies of the USPS backlog) but with my local Target completely dropping cards from its inventory it’s nice to get a card fix from somewhere.

The first mailing of the year was a PWE from Marc Brubaker containing almost a dozen cards. The oldest ones are three 1983 stickers which include a couple fun photos in the Milt May catcher action and Al Holland sporting a fantastic warm up jacket. As for the Matt Williams card, I have no idea what kind of release it’s from but it’s wonderfully odd.

The rest of the cards from Marc were newer ones including a bunch from retails issues that I refuse to purchase. Bowman Platinum remains a product I don’t understand. As does Topps Gallery. As always it’s nice to include a sample in the binder for variety’s sake though. I can’t imagine looking through pages of either of those but a couple here and there makes things interesting.

A week or so later I received a bubble mailer from Robby which contained a bunch of more-recent cards. I’ll start off with a half dozen inserts from the past couple years. These are again, the kind of thing I don’t chase but enjoy sliding in to the binder. I have mixed feelings about the design re-use but I much prefer seeing such things done in inserts rather than as complete sets.

The #1 Draft Pick Joey Bart is a particularly great use of an old design since Topps can’t do draft picks in flagship anymore. I’m be curious why Topps hasn’t done draft picks as inserts in other Topps sets though.

The rest of the mailer was a bunch of 2020 cards. A few Updates, two Diamond Kings which I didn’t have, a decent amount of Big League and Donruss which finished off my team sets. Highlights here are the orange Big League parallels and the Gold Star Flagship parallels.

I’m not a huge fan of colored parallels but the Big League oranges look great with the Giants cards. If we could dump the whole rainbow of variants and just have a single team-color parallel set then I’d probably like them.

The Gold Star parallels meanwhile are one of those things that dissuaded me from buying a factory set this year. I don’t want to pay marked up prices for a chance at a bunch of parallels I don’t desire. Getting a team set in the mail though is completely different. Since these are the kind of thing I actively avoid it means that they’re the kind of thing that I never have in my albums. I’m perfectly happy sliding them in as an example of what kind of things were going on in the hobby that year.

Thanks guys and Happy New Year!

Christmas cards

Catching up on a few more PWEs which accompanied holiday wishes. It’s getting to the point where I’m considering making hobby-oriented holiday cards to send out to people I’ve traded with over the past year.

The first card came from Mark Armour and contained a 1977 Willie Mays exhibit. This is a nice reprint of the 1947–1966 era exhibit photo and even feels like it has better tonality than a lot of the vintage exhibits do. The border is kind of goofy though and the less said about the apostrophe catastrophe in the bio text the better. Still this is the kind of thing I enjoy adding to the album and it’ll slide in right next to a bunch of Jeff’s bycatch.

Mark also included a custom card of himself. This is also something I’ve thought about doing but have never gotten around to. A lot of traders have their own custom cards that they toss in like business cards and I enjoy keeping those around.

A few days later I found an envelope from Tim in my mailbox. Nothing big, just an insert from 2020 Opening Day which doubled the number of 2020 Opening Day cards in my collection. This is one of those products that I buy for my kids and stay out of for myself.

This isn’t a critique of the product. If anything it’s a critique of how flagship has effectively pushed my kids away. Neither of my kids wanted a complete set of flagship this year for Christmas. They’ve both realized it’s not the set for them. Too expensive and not really any fun.

A pack of flagship costs like $5 now and that’s a lot of money to pay for a bunch or guys they’ve never heard of. Opening Day at least is mostly players they know. And yes Major League Baseball does a lousy job marketing guys, but Topps also creates checklists that are dominated by rookie cards instead of guys who are actually playing.

So they’ve gravitated toward Opening Day and Big League and I let them enjoy those products. As a result, I don’t get much Opening Day so if it comes in via trade I’m happy to slide it into the binder.

A PWE from Lanny brought me a single 2002 Kenny Lofton card. This might not look like much (though it’s one of Lofton’s few Giants cards) but it’s actually part of Topps’s trainwreck of a Traded set where someone at Topps decided that intentionally shortprinting the first 100 cards was a smart idea.

It was not. I have heard of way too many people who swore off all Traded/Update sets for years just because the 2002 set was so bad. The shortprinted cards meanwhile are impossible to find yet no one actually wants to spend serious money for them.

A perfect storm of awfulness which I would avoid completely except that I wanted the complete 2002 team set for World Series reasons. This Lofton completes the set and I no longer have to think about 2002 Topps Traded ever again.

I also got an envelope from Jason with a couple Giants first basemen. A couple retired numbers even. No it’s not just two 1991 Will Clark cards, these were the packaging surrounding the card Jason intended to send me.

The two Will Clarks were sandwiching this beauty which is not only a great example of the National Chicle Diamond Stars artwork with its solid blocks of color and industrial backgrounds* but represents the first Giants retired number from before the modern era of baseball cards to enter my collection.

*It still doesn’t compare to the South African United Tobacco cards though. Also I remain confused by the scoreboard listing visitors underneath Giants.

One of my long-term collecting goals has been to try and get a card of each Giants retired number from their playing years. I have all the obvious ones who played during the years when Topps was the card of record. Irvin, Mays, Cepeda, McCovey, Marichal, Perry, Clark, and Bonds* all have multiple Topps cards as Giants to the point where I have multiple cards of all even players like Irvin who I never expected to own any cards of.

*Interesting to me to realize that all besides Bonds of those debuted in MLB with the Giants. And yes I’m going to be distinguishing between MLB and “major leagues” from now forward.

McGraw, Mathewson, Terry, Ott, and Hubbell though were always going to be tougher. Fewer cards in general, and the affordable ones are often super ugly in terms of design* or just through being well loved. The Diamond Stars cards of Terry, Ott, and Hubbell are some of the more-desirable options out there and I’m astounded at Jason’s generosity at sending me my first one form this set.

*/me waves at M. P & Company.

Thanks a lot guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed this holiday season and I hope next year brings better tidings all around.

Nachos Grande’s Ginter Bracket

A couple weeks ago I received a notification that Chris (Nachos Grande) was sending me a package. I was very confused. He’s been running a lot of cheap fun breaks but I’ve not signed up for any in a long time.* And I couldn’t think of why else he would be sending me cards.

*This is a reflection of my collection becoming large enough that it no longer makes sense for me to buy into a break for the off chance I get one card I don’t have.

When the package arrived it all made sense. Way back in July he ran an Allen & Ginter mini set bracket on his blog. I took part because the insert minis are really the only thing I actually like about Ginter. I was a bit disappointed that the winner was a baseball set but it was a fun way to learn about all the different mini sets Topps has created. I very much like the social studies and science based sets and how they remind me of how interesting card collecting used to be.

Chris had multiple contests set up to reward people who were voting and participating and I ended up on a list of prize winners. Since I wasn’t participating for the prizes (and given everything else that’s gone on in the world since July) I promptly forgot about expecting a mailing. It took him a while but my prizes arrived a week and a half ago.

The list of offerings was all kinds of stuff. Sets, relic cards, autographs, etc. When I submitted my list of what I preferred I think I prioritized the autographs. Despite being somewhat lower on the pick list  it looks like other people wanted other items since I ended up with two of he autographed cards.

The Trevor May framed mini is pretty cool. I’ve never handled a Ginter framed mini card before. It’s an interesting object with the card floating loose in the middle of a cardboard frame and two plastic sheets on each side to create a nice little display. Much to my surprise the resulting object isn’t that thick and in fact fits just fine in a 9-pocket page.

I’ve been a bit curious about these since I wasn’t sure how they were manufactured nor how they handled. They’re definitely neat little cards and I very much like them over relics. I’m less impressed at the plastic feeling since it seems at odds with Ginter’s overall brand but there’s no other way to do this kind of thing.

Griffin Jax meanwhile is still in the Minors. He bounced between AA and AAA in 2019 and scored a non-roster invite to Spring Training last season. No call-up to the Majors but he remains on the bubble.

He’s more interesting though for what he’s going through to play baseball. As an Air Force Academy graduate, he’s been jerked around a bit by the military in terms of being allowed to pursue a baseball career instead of being active duty. It’s very interesting to note that he can’t be paid by the Twins and is still fulfilling his reservist duties while playing baseball.

Chris also tossed in a dozen or so Giants cards to “make up” for being so late with the package. Definitely not something he had to do especially since this was a free package anyway but I’m certainly not complaining.

A lot of these I have already so they’ll go on the duplicate pile that I’m using to create piles for my kids. My youngest for example will love the Metal Mark Gardner and the more 2013 Heritage World Series cards I can give them the happier they’ll be.

There are however a handful of new ones that I’m very happy to add to the album. The 1998 Upper Deck Darryl Hamilton doubles the number of Giants cards I have form that set. As does the Pacific Bill Mueller. The Jesse Foppert is new to me as well and reminds me of a name I’ve not even thought of in decades. He was such a prospect back in the day. The Upper Deck Goudey Noah Lowry is an interesting retro design. I don’t know if I hate it or love it but I like that it didn’t try to make the photo a fake painting. And the Pinnacle Buster Posey is a fun addition from Panini’s first year back in the hobby.

Very cool stuff Chris and thanks for both the  cards and running the bracket/contest.

To Be Eleven Again

A recent post from Night Owl coupled with my Bill Bathe return in October has me thinking about the equivalent Giants team from my youth which I truly followed all the way through the postseason. Where Greg chose the 1977 Dodgers, for me it’s the 1989 Giants who represent my peak youth fandom.

No surprise that we are both eleven years old for these teams. There’s something magical about that age when you’re old enough to truly geek out out about sports while still being young enough that all the other distractions haven’t materialized yet. When you’re eleven you have an allowance—or at least birthday/holiday money—with nothing to spend it on except for what you want. It’s a great year to follow sports and collect cards.

This was also a magical year for me because of our Philadelphia trip. I didn’t just get to know the players as players, I learned how to recognize them in their civvies and got to meet most of them in person. This also gave me a massive head-start on putting to together a complete roster of signed cards.

For example, the starting lineup* are all guys I met in Philadelphia. The Roger Craig and Terry Kennedy cards are later acquisitions since they’re on my team ball but every other card is an in-person signature that I got when I was eleven. Of these nine, Kennedy is the only one who doesn’t count as a fan favorite.

*Organized as I described in my mission creep post.

Yes even though we booed Brett Butler once he went to the Dodgers, I think we all still prefer to remember him for the good years he had in San Francisco.

The pitching staff wasn’t as simple to assemble. Garrelts, Robinson, and Lefferts are from Philly while Reuschel, Hammaker, and Brantley are other in-person experiences.* There are also three notable pitchers missing. Kelly Downs and Mike LaCoss are the only two players on the postseason roster whose autographs I don’t have and Randy McCament is the only other pitcher who appeared in over twenty games

*I have an in-person Trevor Wilson too but I couldn’t not use that 1990 Upper Deck for this post.

Of these, Gossage is the only one who I forget was a Giant. The rest are all memorable even if they only played with the team a short while like Bedrosian.

Filling in the rest of the post-season roster. Gossage and Wilson weren’t on it despite appearing in a decent number of games that season so these last seven (a mix of in-person and TTM returns) take my total to 22 out of 24 players from the post-season roster (just missing Downs and LaCoss as stated earlier).

Of these seven are guys like Earnie Riles who was the third baseman for the first half of the season until Matt Williams became a star. Despite Williams’s emergence, Riles actually played more games at third. Sheridan and Nixon meanwhile both played a lot of games in the outfield, Manwaring was the backup catcher, and Oberkfell, Litton, and Bathe were among the standard pinch hitters.

The last eight cards here join Gossage and Wilson on the list of players who appeared with the Giants in 1989 but who didn’t go to the playoffs. A fun mix of players. Fan favorite veterans like Speier, Krukow, and Brenly whose careers I didn’t get to see but who I saw enough of to learn why the fans loved them. Prospects like Benjamin, Mulholland, and Cook who I remember for their potential. A veteran rental like Joe Price. And of course the incomparable Dave Dravecky who only played in two games but provided both the highlight and the lowlight of the season.

So this means I have 32 out of 45 players* who appeared for the Giants that season. Notable players I’m missing are Tracy Jones and Ed Jurak, both of whom appeared in at least 30 games. The other eight players played anywhere from two (Stu Tate and Russ Swan) to 17 (Mike Laga) games and include a couple names like Jim Steels and Jim Weaver who I not only don’t remember, I don’t even recognize them at all.

*The complete list of missing players: Mike LaCoss, Kelly Downs, Randy McCament, Tracy Jones, Ed Jurak, Mike Laga, Bob Knepper, Ernie Camacho, Jim Steels, Jim Weaver, Charlie Hayes, Stu Tate, and Russ Swan.

One of the reasons I’ve not been a completist about this is that a few of the down-roster guys don’t resonate for me and the point of a project like this is the memories that it does bring back. Settling on just the postseason roster plus whoever feels right is fine.

The feels right concept is why I’m happy to have all but one of the coaching staff from that year as well. Not sure why I knew who al the Giants coaches were but I did. Things were simpler then, just 5 coaches—hitting, pitching, bench, 1st base, 3rd base—and nothing like the current team* where I can’t keep anything straight.

*In addition to the bench, 1st base, and 3rd base coaches, there are two hitting coaches, a director of hitting, a pitching coach, an assistant pitching coach, a director of pitching, two bullpen coaches, and two other assistant coaches.

The only coach I’m missing is Norm Sherry. Also it’s a shame that Wendell Kim never had a proper baseball card. He’s on a couple Mother’s Cookies coach cards but aside from a few minor league issues he never got his own.

Will these ever get framed like Night Owl is doing? Not a chance. But one reason I like scanning everything is that I can mix and match sorting  and put things into posts like this or just have a dedicated category for the 1989 autographs. I can throw something together digitally, see all the guys again, and remember that 1989 season when I was the age my eldest son is now. I hope he’s able to have a team next year which is as memorable to him as mine was to me.

Chromos desde Artie

It took me a while but I finally sent a thank you note with a custom Keith Hernandez card to Artie (who’s now blogging over at SABR). He promptly asked me if I was interested in some of his extra 1994 Topps Spanish cards.

Apparently he grabbed a huge lot of commons and ended up with tons of duplicates. No stars but enough for a team set of Giants minus Clark/Bonds/Williams and the All Stars. And yes I was interested. I actually had a handful of them already (including Matt Williams) but I’m a sucker for anything Spanish-language and it’s great to be close to a full team set.

Just showing the backs since the fronts are indistinguishable from base 1994. I also don’t have much to add over my SABR post so I’ll just reiterate that one reason why I love bilingual cards is how they remind me of how I learned Spanish via watching soccer on TV and listening to baseball on the radio. Sports vocab can be very different than school vocab.

Also, the Giants had a lot of guys whose last names started with B this year. Seven on this page makes eight including Bonds.

I appreciate the full-color backs and action photos on this design. I do not appreciate the way the card numbering moves card-to-card. Nor do I like it when said number is not located in the corner. That said, as a photographer, I’m glad that Topps has thought about what direction the player is looking and letting him look into the card.

Last page includes the Matt Williams card I already had as well as my Orlando Cependa Leyendas card. Looking at the Steve Scarsone card I noticed that Topps included a Rookie Card badge under the logo. I want to say that this is the first year Topps denoted regular base cards as being Rookie™ cards. I much prefer this method to using the RC badge on the card fronts.

¡Muchas gracias Artie!

Awesomeness from Shane

Shane Katz has been working on a “Tools of Ignorance” album for a while now which has turned into a great type-collection* of catcher cards from all kinds of baseball card sets. It’s been fun to watch it grow and the choice of catcher cards makes a ton of sense since those are often some of the more interesting photos in a set.

*A type collection is one where the goal is to get one card from every set. My childhood goal of one card per Topps set was a type collection.

A couple weeks ago I figured it would be fun to send a bunch of my customs over for his album. Give it even more variety and I like sending my work to my friends. Turns out that Shane had the exact same idea and had put a bubble mailer in the mail the day mine arrived.

His bubble mailer was cooler than mine. By a lot. Three 1949 Remar Bread cards sort of stole the show. Yes I’m technically only doing a type collection of Seals cards but there are a bunch of cool Oakland-only releases like the Remar Baking and Signal Oil cards plus there’s even an Oaks card in 1933 Goudey. And besides my family is actually from Oakland.

So yeah 1949 cards are cool. The Pacific Coast League before 1958 and the Giants moving West is cooler. Oakland Oaks cards are even cooler. And having a baking card of Cookie is the coolest. Not quite metacard material but close enough to be fun.

Cookie Lavagetto is of course the big name in this batch. He grew up in Oakland, went to Oakland Tech and played for the Oaks in 1933 before playing 10 major league seasons with a gap four years for military service in the middle. He was an All Star for the four seasons prior to his stint in the military so he clearly lost a lot of his prime to WW2. He then returned to the Oaks for his last three professional seasons before managing the Senators/Twins over five seasons.

Earl Toolson meanwhile was finishing up a decade in the minors. Not much to say about his career or card except to note that it’s interesting that the number or earned runs must not have been recorded by his previous team.*

*Baseball Reference says 81 which gives him an ERA of 5.21.

Ray Hamrick played parts of two seasons with the Phillies in 1943 and 1944 but appears to have lost his chance at a spot in the Majors by serving in the military until 1946. He bounced all over the minors until 1953 and never clawed his way back up. I do have to note his absolutely fantastic nickname of “The Guv’nor” though.

Other noteworthy cards in the package included three cool oddballs: an always-appreciated Kellogg’s 3D card, a 1981 Topps sticker of Ed Whitson, and a 1992 Muscular Dystrophy Association card of Orlando Cepeda. I’m always amazed at how well Kellogg’s cards scan and the Whitson, while small, is a nice photo which shows off 1980s Candlestick. The Cepeda though is a new-to-me oddball which, while it shows him in an airbrushed Cardinals uniform is a full-career card and so claims all six teams he played for on the back.

Shane also included this TCMA Charlie Wagner card. Wagner is the last guy I’m missing from my old-timers project. I’e held off on getting this card since the reflex blue photo isn’t the most appealing nor are the typewritten backs. A the same time, it’s very nice to slide a Wagner card into that page and have one card for everyone who signed the sheet.

Another wild oddball was this 5-panel 1987 General Mills “booklet” which features the usual airbrushed MSA photos that showed up on so many of the unlicensed MSA cards of the era. I have no idea what I’m going to do with this. It’s a cool piece and a good mix of the big names in the National League in 1987. Definitely all names I recognize and remember. At the same time it won’t binder unfolded. I’m currently thinking about bindering it so only three or four panels show.

Moving through the package. Four 1979 KNBR Giants cards that I actually might’ve sent Shane years ago when he was building his 1980s oddballs binder and I got the years confused (these look basically identical to the 1980 set). Duplicates are fine here. I’ve sent some TTM and these are sufficiently odd that they’re good trade bait for other Giants fans too.

Finally into more regular-issue cards. First off, five from when I collected. I think I have the Litton as part of the MLB Debut set but I’m not sure. It’s definitely not in my Giants binder. I really wish that Topps was still making MLB Debut sets. With so many guys on the 40-man taxi squad only getting a couple games and never really appearing on a true Major League card, it’s really annoying to me that Topps has chosen not to give them cards because they want to print thousands of RC-badged cards of whoever the hot rookie ends up being.

The Bazooka 4-in-1 is another fun oddball. I think these came in Bazooka boxes but I don’t remember. I have a bunch but not this one so that was a nice discovery.

And a half-dozen modern cards to round out the package. I actually needed the Leaf Salomon Torres. The Orange/Gold Big League parallels are also cards I didn’t have since I only grab the base team sets of that product. I don’t usually like colored parallels but when they end up being team colors I tolerate them a lot more.

And that Red Schoendienst Then and Now is pretty cool even though it also confuses the heck out out of me. Yes I know that these typically depict two statistics leaders together (in this case NL Hits Leaders) but the designs always make it feel like they consist of two players who have nothing to do with each other. It is however cool to have a Giants Schoendienst insert since he wasn’t a Giant long and is associated so strongly with the Cardinals.

Very very cool, Shane. Thanks for kicking me down the Oakland Oaks type collection road as well.

Mailday from Bru

A surprise bubble mailer from Marc Brubaker arrived last week. I’d sent him a bunch of the Astros from Jeff’s mailday and those have now been transformed into Giants and Stanford cards I didn’t have. Not a lot has been going right hobby-wise this year with cards becoming impossible to find in the store* but thankfully card twitter is doing its thing and circulating cards until they find their forever homes.

*In a somewhat ominous sign my kids are no longer saving their allowances for baseball cards.

Marc has obviously had better luck than I have in finding cards in the wild though he also clearly isn’t as picky about what packs he buys. The four releases here are all things I don’t purchase but which add a bit of variety to the binders.

The top row of Archives is actually kind of fun. The Piscotty in the 1974 design looks pretty nice and they chose a very 1955 Bowman photo for the Hoerner.* The 1955 TV design is one I really didn’t like but it’s grown on me a lot.

*The backs of these 1955 inserts though are professionally embarrasing. I’m annoyed at how relics/autos have useless backs which just state what’s on the front of the card but at least those still serve as a certificate of authenticity of sorts. And I can excuse online-only releases as a “jam them out as fast as possible” cash grab. But doing these half-assed backs in a retail product is inexcusably offensive to me as a designer. As is the fact that multiple people laso signed off on it. Peak milking a cash cow and zero professional pride.

This year’s Panini/Donruss/Optic design isn’t half bad either. They’re still operating on the “let’s evoke late-80s/early90s Donruss” wavelength that makes their products look mostly indistinguishable year in and year out but they’re gradually doing a better job with team colors. Would be nice to see them really lean into the team color thing and use two colors for each team sometime.

And this is also my first 2020 Bowman in hand. I should get more of these just in case we have games at Trenton next year since it’s a nice simple design that’ll look good signed.

Marc also included a bunch of Allen&Ginter including one of the only cards I was actively going to look for. I don’t like Ginter as a baseball card set. I do like the non-baseball subjects and this year Brianna Scurry was one I really liked.

Most of the time Ginter’s fake-paint, fake-stipple photoprocessing looks pretty bad. This year though the photos look surprisingly good. Is a shame that the design is doing this weird double shadow thing where the drop shadow on the photo is coming from a different light source than the drop shadow on the brand name. This isn’t as obvious in the gold minis though so that’s pretty cool.

Beyond the new cards, Marc included a bunch of random coolness, none cooler than these three 1968 Dexter Press cards. These are nicely-printed glossy postcard-sized cards. Colors really pop and there’s lots of nice detail.

I especially like the Jim Wynn with the spring training outfield fence in the background but the John Bateman and Ken Aspromonte show off the Astrodome logo patch better. No idea why Aspromonte is wearing his batting glove on the upper hand though.

1991 Donruss is one of those sets where there are two different versions of each card,* one released in packs and one in the factory set. The two Bud Black cards here show both how the borders can be different and how unless you know there’s a difference you can totally miss the fact that there are different borders.

*Three actually but I don’t care at all about “INC” vs “INC.” in the small text on the backs.

Marc apparently came into a factory set of these, decided he just wanted the Astros, and figured that sending out team sets to various team collectors would be fun. For me he also included a few of the Stanford guys in the set as well. The Stanford guys look nice paired in the Stanford binder but it took me a while to figure out how I wanted to display the two different variants in my Giants binder.

I eventually settled on having alternating pages of set/pack cards so I can flip back and forth and see the differences. There are a few empty spots for cards that don’t have multiple versions (eg the Gary Carter Highlight) but I’m happy with the result.

A few more random cards including a pair of Mother’s Cookies cards I didn’t have. The Joe Niekro is from 1986 and is part of the all-time Astros All Stars set. Mother’s Cookies also did a set like this for the Giants in 1984* as part of the All Star game at Candlestick that season so it’s only fitting that the Astros got one when the game was at the Astrodome. The Nolan Ryan goes nicely with a card I pulled out of a bag of Iced Animal Crackers** three decades ago.

*Albeit with more of an Allen&Ginter style design. 

**I’m assuming.

Two 1993 Fleers I didn’t have. Steve Reed isn’t exactly a Giants card but he’s wearing the uniform so I have no problem sliding him into the binder. A couple Just Minors cards from Marc’s recent break which I now feel a little bad about not entering except that I really don’t actively seek minor league cards. They’re fun to add to the binder but I’ve never sought them out. This design though is an interesting one with the bar across the middle of the card and the photos sized and cropped so as to place the player’s face in the section above the bar. I don’t like it but much to my surprise I don’t hate it either

A 2012 Jed Lowrie which is some fun color but also fills a hole I didn’t realize I was missing since I didn’t have his 2012 flagship in the binder yet. A fun diecut of Mark Appel. And finally a pair of 2018 Stickers which feel so underwhelming now that Topps has switched to card-sized stickers.

Last batch of cards in the envelope were these Twilight Zone and Star Wars cards. The Twilight Zone ones are from this year but there’s unfortunately no Mighty Casey card that would allow me to sneak a post onto SABR. They’re still pretty cool though. The Twilight Zone is my favorite TV show of all time and seeing these imagined episode posters is pretty neat.

The Star Wars cards are from 1996 which is definitely a long time ago in a galaxy far far away now for that franchise. This is before the Special Edition rereleases let alone the prequels when the only expanded content out there were things like Shadows of the Empire. These cards were part of that multimedia blitz which were intended to prime the pump for the Special Editions. I don’t remember them at all though I do know that people were hyped for the movies to come out again.

Very cool stuff Marc. Thanks!