2021 in review

A little late but still plenty of time to get my 2021 in review post out. Last year was a weird year. Nothing in stores. COMC not shipping (I finally got my shipment with over 2 years worth of cards right before Christmas). I even started to run out of things to post over on SABR. Usually I have close to fifteen posts. This year I needed a late flurry to get up to twelve.

In any case I’ll start off with a recap of the posts I especially liked over in SABR. First off, I wrote one of my favorite posts ever this year where I looked at the history of baseball cards as it fits into the larger history of photography and vernacular imagery. I’m too much a photo geek to not be annoyed by the way baseball card collectors ignore the larger context of the hobby and this was my attempt to provide some contex.

I also had some fun with more wiggle gifs as I scanned another set of Viewmaster discs. These aren’t as nice as my first such post but it’s always fun to do the wiggle gif thing. And I got to go down a bit of a rabbit hole into baseball at the 1912 Olympics thanks to a T218 card of a Track and Field Olympian.

Moving to specific projects of mine. I made a huge step in my Giants Retired numbers project with a couple purchases of autographs of Bill Terry, Carl Hubbell, Monte Irvin, and Willie McCovey—all players who I never really expected to have autographs of. I’ve gone ahead and put together a page to keep track of the current status of this project. I do not expect to update it very frequently. The cards/autographs I’m missing are all super tough and even updating the depicted cards to older ones is unlikely at this point.

Another project I decided to start tracking is my San Francisco Seals type collection. I went ahead and included Oaks cards from sets that don’t feature any Seals as a way of including more variety.

With that in mind I had a couple cards in my COMC pile which I’ve added. The 1930 Johnny Miljus Zeenut is the 5th Zeenut in the collection. It would be nice to get cards from other sets but Obaks aren’t cheap nor are the 1949 PCL Bowmans. Since there are no Seals in the 1933 Goudey set I grabbed the Floyd (Pete) Scott for Oakland Oaks reasons instead.

I did complete one set last year. Lanny gave me a heads up that he had a couple lower-grade copies of the last two cards I needed so I jumped on those. Yes. Lower grade for Lanny means the centering is off on an otherwise perfect-looking card. And yes I left the two big cards for last.

I know common wisdom is to hit the bigger cards first but since I like building sets to get to know the sets better, I don’t mind waiting until a deal comes up for the big cards. After all, they’re always available. The Murray is a fantastic photo and legitimate contender for both the best card in the set and the 1970s.

This leaves me one card short on two other builds—1994 Topps (Joey Cora. Totally gonna happen this year) and 2017 Stadium Club (Aaron Judge. No likely while his prices are still elevated). And for my other builds I’m ~85 cards short on 1989 Donruss and only 65% complete on 2014 Topps.

I made decent headway in my vintage Giants team sets. Being in a holding pattern of sorts where I need just Willie Mays, HoF rookies, and short prints (typically high numbers) I’m biding my time and picking things off when they hit an acceptably low price point.

I think my favorite here is the 1953 Bowman Monte Irvin but the 1961 McCovey is pretty nice too. The 1966 Mays meanwhile represents the kind of cheap low-grade card I’m waiting for now. I don’t mind the writing at all.

Which brings me to the past year in autograph hunting. Not much done in person since I only made it to like three Minor League games. I did however grab Jeff Manto and Derrick May at a Trenton Thunder Draft League game and got Casey Candeale at a Buffalo Bisons of Trenton AAA game. These were especially fun since all three are in the 1991 sets that my kids have. My eldest has been working on signed in-person 1991 Topps for a while while my youngest just started with 1991 Score.

This was a good year for TTMs. My longest return was Max Venable in 785 days. I don’t “give up” on returns but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a surprise. It’s always special to get a straggler back.

Meanwhile my shortest return was from Mark Leiter in only 3 days. Not sure I’m ever going to get one this quickly again. Pretty sure it’s impossible to get a faster one too.

I sent out a lot of customs this year and got most of them back. It’s been a very good year for the 1956ish design. Lots of fan favorite players. Lots of great photos. A few fun inscriptions. Impossible to pick a favorite and I had a hard enough time winnowing the samples here down to twenty.

Spring training was not nearly as good to me. Seems like Covid protocols kept a lot of guys from their mail. I did get a few Giants customs back at least. Tyler Rogers is probably the best of these—I remain confused how Topps hasn’t issued a solo card of him yet. Will be interesting to see how this year goes with the lockout but I’m not optimistic that I’ll be able to send anything right now.

A few Giants returns covering cards from across the decades. I’m kind of split between liking the George Foster or Renel Brooks-Moon best. Foster’s clearly the best player here though he barely counts as a Giant. Brooks-Moon meanwhile is a fan favorite whose whole return was probably my best of the year. Also I need to mention how great the Rick Parker photo is.

I just enjoy being able to flesh out the Giants binder in general though. Seeing it grow has been a great experience and writing the letters as a fan is also just a lot of fun.

A few other favorite returns this year. I’m not actively pursuing A’s but it turns out I got a lot of the guys from my youth. I didn’t like that team—mostly Tony LaRussa’s fault—but all those guys hit me in the feels now. Also a lot of guys here who fall into the “great players for a certain generation” category. A couple fantastic photos like Wynegar and Bordick, and an unexpected inscription from Davey Johnson which was perfect for me since the 1986 World Series was the first one I watched.

A lot of last year though was spent working duplicates from the cards from my youth. I’m not paging these by set in the binder—everything is alphabetically—but it’s fun to see a page-worth of each set that I’ve been working. I’m especially enjoying the photography on the 1986s.

1988 is a design that was underwhelming when I was a kid but which I really appreciate now. Its simple nature also works really well signed and lets the signature make the card.

1989 meanwhile is just a classic look. It’s missing the interestingness of he photos in 1986 but screams Baseball Card™ in a great way.

Not a ton of pre-war cards to mention. I have a few more that I need to scan and even more I still need to post about but I got some of my oldest cards in general,  a couple sets about polar exploration, and some more Garbatys. As the hobby has exploded, the pre-war deals I used to enjoy have started to dry up. Hopefully I’ll still find a few but we’ll see.

And that about wraps it up. A productive year despite everything. The kids have managed to stay engaged—thanks in part to the Giants having a season to remember. I haven’t been able to share the hobby as much with them as in previous years but we’re working on it.  I’m hoping that we finally turn a corner in 2022. Stay safe out there.

Addendum

As soon as this posted I realized that I had neglected to include a section about all the trades and maildays I received last year. I’m not going to recap every one since here are way too many but I do need to show the highlights.

A big thanks goes out to Donna, Mike, Scott, Jeff, Gio, Julie, Greg, John, Shane, Attic, Bob, Marc, Mark, Mark, Jason, Kerry, Shlabotnik, and everyone else who sent me stuff last year. I really love the variety and in a year when access to product was way down, being able to brighten people’s lives with trades and random gifts was fantastic.

We all tend to get caught up in tying our hobby enjoyment to what we can buy. I don’t think this is healthy either mentally or financially. It’s so much better to scratch those itches as a community and get cards that we aren’t enjoying to the right people who will enjoy them much much more.

Christmas cards from Mark Hoyle

Last week I received an envelope of cards from Mark Hoyle. He’s been apparently building a small stack of sorts since many of the cards were ones I remember him pinging me about months ago. I don’t keep track of a lot of this kind of thing since I hate asking people where a free mailing is. Best case scenario is that they flaked and I seem like an ass for asking about where my free cards are. Worst case scenario is that they went AWOL in the mail. In both cases I’d kind of prefer not to know.*

*In any case if you mail me something and I don’t acknowledge it either on here or Twitter then it’s safe to assume that it went missing.

Anyway, Mark’s envelope was the usual mixed bag of cards so lets’s get started.

First item was this Orlando Cepeda postcard. Mark has one for his Red Sox collection though it’s probably also relevant for his 1967 collection. For me, Cepeda of course is a personal favorite and this is a fun commemoration of his career while also being primarily a Giants card.

The card itself is a vanity piece for National Card Investors and links to an almost 2-hour video of his Cepeda collection. At 3 seconds per image this rounds out to about 2000 different Cepeda items in the video. No I did not watch it.

Mark also included this 1966 Ken Henderson. It’s actually an upgrade to the one in my collection and the duplicate goes on the pile of extras that my kids get to pick through every once in a while. Always nice to give them a 1960s card even though the fact that their oldest cards are the same as my oldest cards when I was their age kind of strikes me as a bit unfair. They’re able to open packs that are over 30 years old while my oldest card in my collection was 30 years old.

A pair of minis makes this two mini mailings in a row. Turns out that I actually need the Butler and it finishes my Giants team set for the 1989 Minis. Looking at the multiple years of Mini Leaders and I kind of like how Topps blended the white edge thing with the 1987 and 1989 base designs.

The 1991 Score lenticular card represents a subset I haven’t considered adding to my team collection. It technically fits but I never considered these to be Giants cards before. It’s probably worth looking through my sack of them to see if I have any others now.

A pair of Star Minor League cards in that design Star used for all its cards in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This set often shows nice stadium details though and this is the Everett stadium I visited a couple years later.

Steve Callahan is another card I didn’t have in the collection already.  I’m not at all building this team set but it’s fun to add them to the binder and every once in a while come across a player like Rod Beck who I not only remember but who I remember very fondly. Callahan is not such a player. I may have seen him a San José in 1991 (same with Aleys) but both of them topped out at High A level.

Last card in the envelope was this 1993 Flair Mike Jackson. Flair is the product that probably best represents why it was so easy for me to leave the hobby in 1994. It was the first product that was clearly not for me. It was way too expensive and a clear indication that the hobby was headed in a direction I would be unable to follow.

It’s definitely gotten much worse than Flair as the decades since 1993 have shown that there’s no apparent cap on how premium a release can be. At least now it’s so obvious that “getting it all” isn’t possible that the super premium stuff is even easier to ignore.  In 1993 though this was a bitter pill that felt like I was being pushed out of the hobby.

I don’t hate Flair now though. It definitely feels overhyped compared to what came after but it’s still got a nice thick card stock and extra-glossy finish. I’ve read in a few places that it was printed in Hexachrome but I can’t make out 6 inks under a loupe. A shame since doing a post about six color process would be a lot of fun.

Thanks Mark! Happy Holidays!

My first NWSL card

The increasing presence of soccer (and women’s basketball) cards has kind of ramped up the gravity which is pulling my Stanford project into mission creep. I’m increasingly interested in old, vintage cards of Stanford athletes,* but I was doing fine staying away from modern cards until everyone started opening packs of NWSL cards last summer.

*Not in a comprehensive must-get-every-card way, just as a way of picking up some examples of classic Topps/Bowman/Fleer Football and basketball cards.

It turns out that I kind of love looking through checklists from sets like this to find Stanford players. It also turns out that guys who buy the packs for a cheap fun rip also find themselves with a pile of cards which they don’t want to keep all of. One such guy was Shlabotnik Report who sent me a quick note to let him know who the Stanford alumnae* were in the set.

*#8 Tegan McGrady, #124 Kelly O’Hara,  #141 Tierna Davidson, #143 Jordan DiBiasi, #158 Lo’eau LaBonta, #160 Averie Collins, #191 Ali Riley, #192 Jane Campbell, and Cityscape insert #13 Sophia Smith.

He went through his cards and found that he had the Averie Collins. A couple days later I found it packed with a bunch of other cards in a PWE in my mailbox.  Very cool.

Collins was part of the team that won Stanford’s second NCAA championship in 2017. She also did the very Stanford thing of graduating with a year of eligibility left and then playing a last season as a grad student at another college (which resulted in her missing a second NCAA championship as Sanford won again in 2019).

These Parkside cards have the feel of  some of the Minor League team sets and I’m trying to figure out why that is. Could be the printing quality but it could also be something about the design.

Moving to the other cards in the envelope. Sticking with soccer, this foil Coutinho Attax card was included to add to me Barcelona page. It’s only a page for now but people do seem to like sending me Barça cards since while I don’t seek them out I’m happy to keep them.

Coutinho is a good player who hasn’t the greatest fit for the team; one of many such signings the team has made over the past 5 years or so as I’ve kind of drifted away.* It’s tough to watch a team of players who haven’t been assembled with any clear philosophy besides “hope Messi does something.” I’m hopeful this year, as bad as it’s gone so far, represents a fresh start of sorts.

*The difficulty ins even finding match highlights has not helped either.

Took me longer than it should’ve to recognize hat these two 1979s were actually O Pee Chees. You’d think between the logo, white card stock, French backs, and horrible trimming that I’d’ve figured it out sooner but nope. Like the Barça cards these are things that I love adding to the binder but which I never seek out.

Three Topps mini leaders. With their glossy finish, white card stock,  and colored backs, these were some of my favorite cards when I was a kid. Something about the small size made them feel special too. Little cards made to a higher standard featuring the better players.

And finally a handful of 2004 Total (not a cereal tie-in). I love the Total concept of having a lower-quality produced set featuring all the players. Not sure if it works for set collectors but it’s great for team collectors. I’m not quite ready to create a searchlist for these but I probably should.

And that’s it. Lots of fun stuff and definitely my favorite kind of Christmas cards.

Box cards!

One of my favorite new Twitter follows this year is John Grochalski (@JohnGrochalski) who’s been blogging about his reintegration to the hobby over at Junk Wax Jay. John picked a hell of a time to rejoin given how difficult it is to find/afford product now but his journey and experiences have reminded me a lot of my own experiences only a handful of years ago.

It’s great to see how cards serve as a way both remembering his youth and marking the time for baseball. I also like watching him discover the hobby as it exists today while also indulging in the cards from his youth which are so much more affordable than they used to be. Specifically, He’s been ripping lots of boxes of junk wax and as fun as it is to reminisce as he opens packs, he’s noticed my enthusiasm for asking about the box cards.

Box cards are one of my favorite things from my youth. I was friendly with the checkers at my local grocer* and was able to get empty boxes from them since they had a box of cards at every checkstand. My LCS was also pretty generous here—while they could’ve saved/sold the box cards, by the time I asked about them the cards were pretty beat up. I never accumulated a full set’s worth—my memory is that box collation was pretty bad ands that it wasn’t uncommon for every sand to have the exact same bottom—but dutifully cut them all out and put the best samples in my card binder.

*Back in those simpler days before Safeway took over everything.

I liked all oddballs of course but the box cards were special. For a kid who had to save to buy a pack at a time, the idea of getting and opening an entire box was a luxury I couldn’t really conceive of. I saw box cards as the reward for being lucky enough to acquire a box and so being able to scrounge an empty box felt like getting away with something.

Anyway, John when he noticed my enthusiasm, offered to send me his box bottoms.  Which is awesome. While I have a lot of the cards now* the nature of box bottoms is that upgrades are frequently possible. Plus, anything I cut out as a kid I kind of want** to have as a panel as well.

*They’re frequently cheap on ebay and I’ve found a couple super-cheap lots which have given me most of he box bottoms I want.

**Want but not need. My search lists do not distinguish between cut cards or uncut panels. 

He ended up sending me six panels in totalling to one per year from 1986 to 1991. Box bottoms only really started in 1985 when Donruss did them. Yes Hostess, Post, Whaties, etc. had box cards in the 1970s, 1960s, and earlier but it’s different getting box cards on a box of baseball cards than of a box of cereal or Twinkies. So starting with 1986 is a nice entry into the heyday of box cards.

Topps always changed some aspect of the cards for its box bottoms. In 1986 this meant switching the border from black to red. I don’t particularly care for this change though it does work nicely with the Pete Rose card since Topps also changed the Reds (and the position indicator) from red to white. It’s a bit garish on the blue-named cards and is unreadable on the single orange-named card in the checklist (Dwight Gooden).

It’s also interesting to note here that Topps didn’t flip one row of cards to be upside down so that the red borders would bleed into each other. Part of this is because the black “cut here” borders mean that bleeds aren’t necessary but it also demonstrates that Topps sort of intended these cards to be seen as a panel too.

Oh unlike subsequent years where Topps treated the box bottoms as a highlight set, except for the card number the 1986 backs are identical to the regular set backs right down to the Talkin’ Baseball trivia.

Fleer meanwhile laid its cards out with gutters instead of suggesting common cuts. This is nice for trimming but is a pain in the butt for getting the panels to fit into 2-pocket pages. It’s also a weird choice since it breaks the way the design tiles from one card to another.

As with the Topps cards I like that these feature different photos. Sometimes, such as with the Dale Murphy (or the 1985 Donruss Gooden), I find myself wondering why they went with a better photo on the box bottom than on the main card.

I’ve not much more to say about the Fleer cards since they only differ from the base set designwise due to the paper stock being non-white. However it does weird me out a little how the cards aren’t numbered sequentially.

A couple more Topps panels which are distinguished from regular cards through the blue borders in 1989 and the green borders in 1990. I especially like how the 1990 design is tiled correctly so it looks like the actual print sheet.

These cards all function as lifetime-achievement highlights: 300th Save, 1400th RBI, 300th Strikeout, 1000th career game, etc. The result is that you end up with a good mix of veterans and a decent chance at a lot of Hall of Famers; 7 out of 8 players in this case are enshrined in Cooperstown.

The 1991 Fleer set is one of my favorites despite being blank-backed because it commemorates all the no hitters that occurred in 1990. Having nine no hitters in a season was a big deal. Yes that number has been reduced to seven now but as far as I’m concerned any complete game in which one team doesn’t get a hit should count as a no hitter.*

*This brings 2021’s total no hitters to eleven.

While Score put No Hit Club cards in its base set in 1991 and 1992, Fleer had them  on the box bottoms. This is perfectly fine. No need for a card back since the fronts have all the information you really need. I love that this is the Andy Hawkins panel too since the idea of losing a no hitter was kind of amazing to me as a kid.

John also tossed in a dozen Giants cards. He’s been ripping a lot of modern cards and as a result is finding himself swamped in cards he doesn’t really need. This is admittedly both the joy and the curse of ripping packs. I don’t miss the inefficiency but I do miss being able to accumulate cards that will make other people happy.

It’s especially nice to get a bunch of inserts and 2021 Archives here. The inserts are always fun to see and represent cards I’d never buy as singles. Well except the Posey All Star card. I hate that those were so tough to pull in update this year* since I would like to include them in my 2021 binder section. The 70 Years of Topps Lincecums and the 1965 Bart though. I’d never spend money on them but really enjoy having them.

*Zero in my break though of course my son opened one pack and pulled a Kevin Gausman for his collection.

Archives meanwhile is not a set I like even though I appreciate what it’s doing. My kids love it and as long as it sticks to the fun side of things I can’t hate on it. This year though it’s great to get that first Kris Bryant card. Topps has made it tough by not including anyone of note in Update or Heritage High Numbers so I’ll take whatever late-year Bryants I can get.

Very cool stuff John. Thanks!

Mailday from Marc

Earlier this week I found the fattest PWE I’ve ever received in my mailbox. USPS’s maximum thickness where an envelope becomes a package is a quarter inch and I’m pretty sure Marc Brubaker hit that thickness right on the head. A lot of the thickness was the stiffening cardboard but it also had 23 cards inside which I think is the most I’ve ever gotten in a PWE.

It was the usual eclectic mix I expect from Marc but we’ll start off with the Giants cards. I’m very happy to get another copy of this Pablo Sandoval because it means I now have enough to give each son one of them. I don’t think they need identical stacks but a 3D card of on of their favorite players is extra cool and definitely the kind of thing that would cause some sibling friction.

The Pacific Paramount Stan Javier is a typical foiled-out Pacific design (sadly not in Spanish) with the typical 1990s problem where the foil covers the bottom half of the photo. It is however very much of its time and I appreciate that. The Joey Bart is another one that’ll go on the kids’ pile and, hopefully in a couple years they’ll be very excited to have his cards.

There was also a handful of 2021 Heritage cards. Most of these will also go in the duplicate pile for the boys although I’m not sure any of them will be excited by the Justin Smoak.* The Joey Bart card on the other hand means hat one can get the Opening Day and the other he Heritage.

*Who shouldn’t even be in the set since he was literally released by the Giants before the 2020 season ended. Topps does this kind of thing way too often though where players who have no business being in the set end up on the checklist.

The Willie Mays Award card though is one I didn’t have. I hadn’t included it as part of the Giants team set because it’s not. But it is Willie Mays and so I have no problems sliding it into the album.

On to the weirder stuff. The Scott Erickson Ultra Pro card is wild. I don’t think anyone is doing the corporate jersey thing anymore* and this one is such a generic jersey that I wonder why they even bothered. It’s not a great card but it’s weird and that’s always welcome in the binder.

*I do kind of miss the 1990s thing of creating baseball jerseys (check the Summertime video for examples) for all sports though.

The Buechele meanwhile comes from Marc’s apparently-infinite supply of stickers. There aren’t many cards of him with the Pirates though so that part’s pretty fun too.

More weirdness. I passively collect Barcelona cards. Very very passively. Love adding them to the album. Can’t be bothered to even search for them and the idea of buying them doesn’t even cross my mind. I’m not exactly sure why this is but it means that I very much appreciate each and every one that gets sent to me.

And finally, Marc, as a member of the custom card crew, included a bunch of his customs that I’ve been seeing him working on over the past year.* Is great to see these in the flesh and I’m kind of jealous because Marc has a good copyshop that he prints these at while I’ve been getting mine online at Magcloud. I have no complaints about Magcloud—it’s exactly what I expect and the quality is great—but man the paper Marc uses is so much nicer and thicker.

*The Bernie card is a fun joke which I didn’t get at first since I’m not that familiar with 1982 Fleer.

I’m especially liking the Dan-Dee inspired Dusty Baker. I’m always a fan of classic-feeling customs and the tweaks to the Dan-Dee are exactly the kind of thing I enjoy. But there’s a lot of good stuff going on in the Castro—I really want to see Marc try making the logo into a burned-in brand feel—and the Mays design is one which Mark is turning into a generic custom design for various fun photos and seeing its versatility has been awesome.

The last two cards are actually my designs. I was screwing around with creating a Ginterizer a couple years ago and sent a bunch of files to Marc ages ago since a bunch of them were of his Vintage Base Ball team. Marc went ahead and got them printed and they’re fantastic in hand. He actually ent me a couple different paper options (where not all 23 cards are depicted in this post) but the one I like best is the uncoated stock since it just feels right.

Super cool to see these in person and thanks for the PWE Marc!

Mishmash

A couple weeks ago I found a bubble mailer from Cards From the Attic in my mailbox. This is one of those mailings which took so long to arrive after he’d mentioned he was sending me something cool that I feared it had been blackholed by the USPS. But arrive it did and it did indeed have something cool inside.

I’m not sure if a Kevin Mitchell Archives Signature Series stamped and signed buyback counts as a hit or a miss for this product but it’s definitely one that Giants fans my age appreciate. Kevin was The Guy when I was a kid and I still kind of think of him that way.

These Bowman inserts were also one of the cooler things Topps made back then. They’re actually sweepstakes cards the likes of which were in most Topps products but which typically have a generic front and were trashed by most every kid.* Switching the front to a nice painting**—especially one that evokes 1952 Bowman—makes them a bonus card. Not an insert but totally worth saving. I kept all the ones from my youth.

*My youngest actually saves and binders them.

**By artist Craig Pursley.

I’m not an Archives Signature Series guy but I appreciate it when they use weird cards for their buybacks instead of boring base cards. A stamped and signed 1989 Topps card is not especially exciting. A weird oddball, boxed set, or something else that most of us don’t have dozens of makes the buyback a lot more interesting. Especially since Topps tends to repeat cards year-to-year and so all the serial numbering feels kind of stupid.

This one definitely counts as weird since even though these were disposable inserts they weren’t things that really circulated. It’s great to see Mitchell’s nice signature compared to the one I got in Philadelphia. I just need to decide now whether or not I want to bust it out of the one touch. The Archives Signature product includes the stickered holder but I’d enjoy this more in a binder with the res of my autographed cards.

True to form though, Cards from the Attic used a ton of other cards to stuff the envelope. These Giants cards aren’t technically bumper cards (those are coming later) but they also weren’t the main point of the package. They are very cool though. The boys will like the old cards (both are upgrades) and the 1980s boxed set cards are fantastic.

I do have a few of the boxed set cards but many others, such as the Limited Editions, come from sets I’ve never seen before. I have this feeling that there will always be another 1980s Fleer boxed set for me to discover.

A couple more Giants cards from the 1990s and 2000s. Osvaldo Fernandez turned out to be a need for a team set I’m semi-collecting.* I’ve not seen any of the American Pie cards before, that’s a weird sort of set though it’s printed nicely. Three more 2008 Documentary cards which demonstrate both the promise and disappointment of the set in how he fronts have nothing to do with the game they document.

*I’m passively building the run of Upper Deck team sets but haven’t gotten all my search lists online yet.

Favorite card here is the Brian Ragira which is nominally a Giants card but depicts him in his Stanford Uniform. It’s always nice to slide a new card into that album.

Wrapping up the baseball cards with the more-recent ones. The Heritage Flashbacks are always interesting to me because of the nature of what they commemorate. For Topps to print a Voting Rights Act card the year after Shelby vs. Holder is possibly one of the more political things Topps has done. At the same time it’s tempting to read the card as commemorating something that is now dead.

Other cards of interest in this pile are all the Diamond Kings since that’s a product I never purchase. They also fit the theme of the Kevin Michell autograph on an art card. I especially like the black and white Will Clark card and design.

Which brings us to the bumper cards—always sort of a highlight of a Cards from the Attic package. First off are a half-dozen 1980s Donruss sticker wax repacks. Not much to say about these except to note that they ended up being more fun unripped than ripped.

A bunch of non-sport pop culture cards. No real piles except for the Sgt Pepper cards. The Tron, Knight Rider, and Magnum PI cards are a lot of fun though in that they do a decent job at representing those shows. The Queen and Kiss cards are also pretty cool. All the repacks added to a pile of Sgt Pepper cards which is kind of a wild set about which I have no real cultural attachment. There is however a decent amount of star power in that set.

Three of these baseball-themed Baseball Freaks cards. I’m leaving these in non-sport but if I’d encountered these in my Garbage Pail Kid days I probably love them. Unfortunately I never saw these as a kid.

And finally it wouldn’t be a Cards from the Attic package without some golf. Nothing much to add to these either except to note that the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus special card is actually really nice and a great use of a black and white photo.

Very cool stuff. Thanks Attic!

A package from Jason

Yesterday I found a package from Jason in my mailbox. He’d given me a heads-up last week to expect some things but he only explicitly mentioned one of them. I’ll get to that last since it’s going to be a post of its own but aside from it and a couple piles of cards for my kids, this is the rest of what was inside.

A pair of vintage Giants—or Giantsish—cards. I have both of these already but I’m pretty sure my Antonelli is nowhere near as nice shape as this one. Marichal is also still in a Giants jersey so I’ve slipped this into my binder as well. In both of these cases my duplicates will go on the “for the kids” pile and their binders will get to add some more cards that are older that their dad.

A couple oddball minor league cards of guys who would end up on the Giants. These are from a set celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Carolina League. I’m pretty sure Jason got this set for the Dwight Gooden card and has been sending everything else out to various team collectors. I definitely appreciate the opportunity to add McCovey and Bonds to the Giants album.

A couple 1970s Hostess cards. I don’t really chase these outside of my various team/alumni goals but I will never turn random samples down either. One thing I am doing is trying to fill a page of candlestick photos for each set. Neither of these helps me there but the Mayberry is a nice shot of the Oakland Coliseum (Horton appears to be a the Tigers Spring Training facility Joker Marchant Stadium).

And a couple more random cards. The “3D” Action Packed cards are one of my favorite things from when I was a kid. I don’t have much more to say about them though aside from mentioning that I checked out the patent.

The Golden Age Bobby Thomson is a fun one. For whatever reason I don’t have any cards from this set and for all the retro-styled sets this has some of the better artwork I’ve seen. Unfortunately, none of the non-sport cards on the checklist really appeal to me.

On the topic of artwork, Jason also included a Blake Jamieson 1951 Topps card. I’ve avoided getting into all the art card stuff over the past couple years. Project 2020 and Project 70 are not my thing—too expensive and I hate the distribution method—even though I’ve enjoyed watching them from an intellectual/academic point of view. It’s been fun to see artists take a crack at cards and see what works and what resonates with collectors.

Blake’s been one of the more successful artists in the venture. He has a distinct look and point of view and respects the source material (in a good way) by recognizing how keeping these as cards is what allows his art to be accessible. He’s also been more than generous with his time in terms of interacting with fans/collectors and sharing his process.

I don’t find myself drawn to his work on a personal level—this isn’t a value judgement or anything just that my own tastes lie elsewhere—but his take on the 1951 set is one that I did enjoy and between that and the way that he’s one of the best faces of the whole endeavor I’m happy to have one of those cards standing in for the whole art card thing in my binder.

And the reason Jason sent me the package is because he wanted me to take an in-depth look at this T205 card. That will post over on sabrbaseballcards.blog so the only thing I have to add here is that this card shaves off 5 years from my previous oldest baseball card. Kind of wild to realize that his is 110 years old. One thing I love about the T205s is the way they have actual back information instead of just advertisements.

Very cool Jason. Thanks!

Spring in September

Way back in May, Kerry over at Cards on Cards announced a spring cleaning giveaway. I mentioned that if he wanted to clear out some Giants cards I’d be happy to distribute them amongst the three Giants fans in this household.* I was expecting like a bubble mailer with maybe a hundred cards. I was not expecting the 400-count box that arrived in late September.

*They both have Giants binders that would’ve made me super jealous when I was a kid.

Alongside the box were a couple baggies of nicer cards—mostly numbered parallels or special card stock variants. These are fun but the most exciting one was this signed Logan Webb card. Webb was one of those guys who had autographs in every set last year and looked to be one of those “junk” hits that everyone complains about since they only appeal to hard core team collectors.

If Webb continues pitching like he did this season though he won’t be a junk hit much longer. I am very happy to get his card this year since he’s been such a key member of the pitching staff.

The rest of the cards I’ve sprinkled in with the cards in the box and will go through things by year. Starting off with the “old” stuff, while I have a lot of this, the kids do not. For my part, I’m surprisingly light on early 80s Donruss so the Dave Bristol and Rennie Stennets are nice additions.  I also have not seen these Classic cards before so it’s great to add samples of those sets to the binder too. Also the Jim Gott is a glossy variant of 1987 Fleer but there’s no way to see that in the photo.

Continuing into the early 1990s with more cards from my youth. The Will Clark Provisions is great and as someone who has mostly Winner versions of 1992 Gold I always enjoy adding a pack-pulled version. The Bobby Bonds All Star Hero is a great card which I didn’t have. 1993 Flair is a similar hole in my binder since I couldn’t afford a single pack of hat when I was a kid.

A bunch of those 1994 cards are new ones for me too. I was clearly stepping away from the hobby that year even before the strike and while I definitely have some of the cards in the piles, cards like the 94 Bowman Phillips, 94 Donruss Martinez, 94 Fleer Burba, and 94 Score Portugal are all ones I was still missing. I’m not actively building those sets but I should probably consider putting need lists together for them just because it’ll give people an excuse to clear out some cards.

We’ll start off the next batch with a fantastic Kirt Manwaring card. I didn’t have any 1994 Oh Pee Chee Premier before. Now I think I might have the best card in the set. The 1996 Bazooka are also new to me. I just discovered that these cards came with gum in the packs. No idea why such a discovery made me happy but it did.

The 1996 Score Stan Javier, 1996 Pinnacle Shawon Dunston, and a bunch of the 1997 Bowmans also fill empty spots in the binder. We’re well into territory I’ve only filled via random packages I’ve gotten in the mail now.

As we move out of the 1990s the number of cards that are new to me starts to grow. I need many of the Bowmans. Same with the Fleers. But stuff like all the weird Upper Deck sets here—especially that great Benito Santiago card—represent sets that I’ve never even see before. And if I have seen them, such as with the Choice Bill Mueller Preview, they’re a variant I’ve never seen.

Also that George Foster looked at first like a card I had already but it turns out that the card I sent out TTM is essentially a reprint of a reprint. Why Topps felt like it had to reprint this two years in a row is beyond me. And it’s always great to add a card of Kenny Lofton as a Giant.

Some of the special cards that Kerry included are starting to slip in now. They’re still in the penny sleeves like the Barry bonds Bazooka “stamp” here. Lots of 2006 and 2007 Topps which will slip into the boys’ collections. The Upper Decks are still things I tend to need although I remain mystified at the First Choice se which is essentially a non-foil-stamped version of the main set.

The 2005 Leaf design deserves special recognition for how simple and nice it is. I don’ think I’ve seen it before and it’s a breath of fresh air amidst all the overdesigned cards of this era.

More special cards here like the 2009 vintage stock and black parallels as well as the Chrome Matt Cain Heritage. We’re starting to move into years where I have most of the base team sets again but since these are the World Series years it’s always fun to remember some guys and see photos like the celebration on the Pat Burrell card.

As before, I needed a decent number of the Upper Deck cards here and should probably add those sets to my searchlist since many are getting close.

Into the 2010s and parallel madness is starting to take over. As someone who never chases these it’s always fun to accumulate more and discover how many different ones are out there. I can see why people like building rainbows even though the amount of work required to do so isn’t worth it.

Mini cards are always fun. I really like the Pablo Sandoval Archives card in the 1954 design. Something about the sunglasses really works.

A very similar batch to the previous photo. I like the Aramis Garcia 1st Bowman and the Ryder Jones Oklahoma parallel (no idea what it’s actually called). Those shiny Prizm cards really jazz up a binder page as do the multiple foil parallels here.

A number of cards I needed here as we work into my reengagement with the hobby. 2016 is right there on the outside of things so it’s not too surprising that I missed a lot of what was going on. Granted, that cards like that Buster Posey which is actually a Bergers Best insert with gold foil instead of silver foil are some of what I missed means that I didn’t miss much.

The Optic parallels are especially nice but my favorite card here is the Hunter Pence Stadium Club.

Into the late 2010s and my full reintegration into the hobby means that of these cards it’s mainly just the parallels and inserts that are new to me. So stuff like the Hunter Pence Five Tool insert of the Sepia Steven Duggar slide right into the binder.

The Optics and Bowman Chromes fit too since both of those are cards I don’t come across very often either.

Nice to add some Holiday cards here. I never see them in stores and they’re exactly the right kind of stupid. I’ve never seen the Buster Posey Franchise Feats card before either. I like the Ginter Cepeda and have not received much 2020 Chrome as well.

And the last batch. Stadium Club Chrome is unnecessary but at least it included guys like Samardzija who weren’t in Stadium Club. The Yastrzemski Future Heroes Chrome card is also a nice addition as is the Willie Mays Legends of Baseball. Which brings us to Diamond Kings, a set which I can’t distinguish year-to-year but always enjoy encountering since the cards so jus so damn pleasurable to handle.

Very very cool stuff Kerry. Makes my binders a lot more interesting and I’ve got a serious task ahead of me in dividing the rest up for the kids. Thanks!

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.