Mailday from Bru

Found a nice PWE from Marc in my mailbox last week. School is over and summer has officially begun so it’s nice to start it off with some cards in the mail.

This isn’t the usual fare but as we’ve all stopped ripping new cards and sort of filled in the obvious collection items, I think we’re all casting about for other stuff to send each other. In this case, Marc has come into a good-sized lot of 1979 Topps cards and remembered that I had’t put together my Candlestick page for that set.

Being an Astros collector means that Marc has a decent number of cards feature The Stick in the background. These seven 1979s definitely complete my page and the 1980 Andujar doubles the 1980 Candlestick cards I own. Og these I like how the Lemongello shows off the black hole in center and how Cabell captures the left field bleachers and scoreboard.

All seven didn’t make my 1979 page but four of them definitely did. Once I get more than nine cards I try and spread things out to get different views and I definitely like how that page looks now.

The early-1980s needs work but I’ve not yet gone looking for cards here. It’s nice to have a complete page though even if it spans 1980–1985.

Marc also included two 1979 cards form the Jean-Michel Basquiat checklist. I enjoy the connection to the “real” art world and it’s a fun mini-PC to put together. Rather than digging through the comments of my SABR post I’ll list the checklist here.

  • Joe: Steve Henderson
  • Jerk: Bob Randall
  • Hot Dog: Steve Kemp
  • Wally: John Matlack
  • Bus Pass: Ed Glynn

These are the first two I own from that theme (I had a Steve Henderson but sent it out TTM a couple years ago and it never returned)

And yes even though we’re not ripping product Marc apparently is still. A handful of Donruss cards is very much appreciated, especially the Camilo Doval card since for whatever reason Topps isn’t featuring him. I’m not keen on this design but a least it’s very Donruss™ without being derivative.

Oh and the Diamond Kings card looks like a Diamond Kings card. I’m assuming it’s this year but I can never tell.

For a while I was considering only buying Donruss cards this year since boycotting MLB-licensed stuff is about the only way I can make a statement as a fan. But then I don’t buy anything anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

A couple Match Attax Barça cards. No idea where these are sold or if anyone plays the game but they’re a fun add to the non-baseball sports album. Ansu Fati in particular is on the cusp of becoming something great and I hop he realizes his potential. That #10 shirt is really heavy and, while I think they gave it to him too soon, the fact he wears it now says a ton about how he’s perceived in the team.

And lastly a Safe Hit Texas Vegetables crate label. Marc got a big batch of these and has been selling/distributing them. Not the kind of thing I actively collect but with Marc being in Texas I totally understand why he jumped on this.* It’s a cool image with a local angle and even the concept of “Texas Vegetables” evokes a weird combination of the Texas Leaguer with a Can of Corn.

*I’d be much more tempted if I came across a Best Strike Apple label since Watsonville is borderline Bay Area. But even then I try really hard to to get sucked into too many different collecting interests. 

I also had the weirdest reaction to this piece as a physical object in that my gut felt that it was fake but there’s jut enough going on that I can’t trust that gut reaction plus I don’t know a thing about how labels like these were typically printed. The thing is that my gut wants the text to be nice and crisp and it’s not. No crisp edges anywhere. The blacks and reds are screen mixes. All of these things are frequently tells that something has been photographed and reprinted.

But if the entire label including the text was painted as a single piece, this is exactly how it would look. Especially if printed slightly out out register the way this one is. Plus the small vertical “INC” in the bottom right corner is printed as linework which suggests it was added in after the original artwork was photographed for press. And there’s no sign of being rescreened anywhere on here.

Also, the paper, while slicker than I expected, is only slick on one side. Definitely doesn’t feel like paper you’d get today and is probably way cheaper than what you’d get from Vintagraph.*

*Worth noting that this version of the label has been restored and I suspect has had all the type re-set as linework so it prints crisply. 

Very cool stuff Marc. I was half expecting a Shawn Chacon custom for Trenton but it’s great to fill out more Candlestick pages.

Around the World

So I just got my first Venezuelan cards. I’ve avoided them for years because they tend to be way too expensive, poorly-printed, and really beat up. Plus most of them don’t offer anything substantially new (let alone  better) to the standard US Topps cards.

Only the 1962s with their Spanish-language backs (also 1967 though those have the non-licensed feel to them as well) have called my name as an extension to my barajitas series of posts on SABR.

But a couple weeks ago a deal on eBay that was too good to pass up came by and so I picked up my first three Venezuelans. Was waiting for a while for them to come in but they arrived over Easter weekend.

I figured that while getting team sets of Venezuelans was neither cost nor time effective, starting a type collection made a certain amount of sense. So I have one each from 1962, 1964, and 1966. There are also sets from 1959, 1960, 1967, and 1968 but I’m in no rush.

Holding these in hand is sort of the opposite feeling I had when I encountered O Pee Chee cards in the 1980s. Where the 1980s OPCs were bright white card stock instead of the brown Topps stock the Venezuelans are duller and greyer than the bright white Topps stock.

“Sort of” because while this sounds underwhelming it’s actually not. The paper just doesn’t match what I’m expecting any printed material form the 1960s to look like. It feels either decades older or like it should be fragile newsprint and adds something evocative to the photos because it feels like they’re in danger of slipping away. As much as the Cepeda is the highlight of the three I think the Jim Ray Hart card is my favorite looking with the way the photograph still glows.

Back to the Cepeda. While it’s mighty beat up* the back is completely readable. One of the reasons I’ve avoided Venezuelans is that since my interest is the Spanish-language backs and so many Venezuelans have paper loss three. Cepeda has glue marks and is a bit off-register but I can totally read the Spanish.

*Recalling my suggestion years ago that card conditions should be like the Mohs hardness scale. If Zeenuts exemplify 1. Venezuelans would be 2s.

Despite all the extra empty space, the text is basically the same only (and surprisingly for Spanish) much less wordy. Stats are still using the English abbreviations but a careful reader will pick up the translations for rookie (novato), home run (jonrón), and RBIs (carreras impulsadas). Interestingly, outfield is left untranslated instead of becoming jardinero.

1964 and 1966 are essentially unchanged from the US releases. The only difference is the inks used. To my eyes it almost looks like they made the decision to print them using process inks—1964 going from spot orange to process black and 1966 from a spot pink to process magenta.

As with the Cepeda, no paper loss is very nice here and I can totally put up with the glue spots. Venezuelans are supposed to look used and well-loved and these certainly fit the bill.

All in all very cool. Plus this addition takes the number of countries I have cards from to nine (and the number of continents to six). In addition to Venezuela I have cards from the USA, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Australia, Germany, France, and the UK.  I figured it would be fun to end this post with a call back to the oldest card I have from each of those countries.

USA

My oldest US card (and card in general) is this 1887 Allen and Ginter card of Hawaii.

Germany

A set of 1899 Stollwerck cards would be my oldest German cards.

UK

I’ve a ton of pre-war UK releases but my oldest are these 1901 Ogdens.

France

Not sure if Liebigs were released in France or just published in French but for a 1906 set I’m treating it as being a French set.

South Africa

A gorgeous set United Tobacco made in 1936.

Canada

Only showing the back since the front is identical to Topps. But it’s never a bad thing to show off 1971 O Pee Chee’s backs. I have a decent amount of OPC from 1977 to 1992 as it functions a bit as a Traded set for my Giants team sets but not much more.

I might pick up more 1978s as part of my 1978 build. And I’m now considering doing a type collection for other years for the Giants album since I’ve opened that door with the Venezuelans.

Japan

While I have a 1960s playing card of Sadaharu Oh, my oldest proper trading card are some 1975 Calbees. I do however have a 1949 menko headed my way so that’ll be fun.

Australia

Modern, well 1996, cards for the Australian League.

Sort of surprising to me that I have no cards from Spain since finding Barcelona soccer cards is something I totally would do. I’ve definitely had my eye on a few Xocolata Amatller cards before. I’m sure there are Panini stickers from Italy that would catch my eye as well. Plus some of the Dutch Gum cards. I’d also love to find cards from Mexico or elsewhere in Latinamerica but as always, I’d have to be caught by the cards not just the country of origin.

Addendum/edit April 26

Italy

So SanJoseFuji commented and reminded me about Panini Stickers. Unlike the other cards on here, these are intended for worldwide release and have back text in English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish. They are however manufactured in Italy so I’ll count them here. I don’t have many of these but I do have a couple Spain ones from 2010 when they won their first World Cup.

And this takes me to a nice round 10 countries worth of cards. Two North America (USA and Canada), one South America (Venezuela), four Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy), one Africa (South Africa), one Asia (Japan), and Australia.

Addendum/Edit May 16

A pair of updates for my oldest cards.

I realized last weekend that my oldest Canadian card is actually this 1962 Jim Davenport Post Canadian card. Post already does a great job at packing everything you want on a card on just one side. That they manage to do this in two languages is even more impressive.

And I’ll add an image of the 1949 Menko to update the Japan selection since I mentioned it was in transit in my original post.

Unexpected connections

A couple days ago I published a bit of a rant on SABR about 2022 Topps Heritage and how lazy its greenscreen photography was. While I try not to go too negative in any of my blog posts sometimes I can’t help myself. Anyway that post was in many ways a lot of words padding an animated GIF that could have been posted by itself and made the exact same point.

After I made my SABR post I realized that 2020 Topps Heritage used the exact same background on a dozen cards as 2022 Heritage did and have expanded the GIF to include all 24 cards. It’s worth noting that the 2020 cards have much more variance in the zoom and cropping of the backdrop (even removing the light standard in one of them) which goes a long way in making the backdrop not nearly as obvious.

Anyway, one of the best things about Twitter is  the way that it encourages people to respond to tweets with things that my observation reminded them of. In this case, Ross/@design_on_deck pointed me toward a fantastic video about post cards which all use the same sky.

While I don’t at all think that Topps did any of this with the level of intent that Dexter Press did, the video reminded me about why I got interested in cards and how they interact with my more-professional interests in photography and print production.

Photography and the way it has been distributed as mass media and informed our visual literacy is indistinguishable from trading card and post card history. Looking through those items and seeing them together in sets or collections is a way of seeing how we used to see and learn about the world. This is the reason why I collect the pre-war cards that I do and I absolutely love digging through piles of postcards and arcade cards at antique shops.

That the Bechers were brought up in the video is perfect. I’ve long admired their work but hadn’t made the connection to their typology grids and the way that I organize trading cards in binder pages. In many ways, the very act of collecting cards and other printed ephemera is an exercise in typologies—especially the further I get away from organizing by number, team, or player.

While I usually bias toward having pages of variety, there’s something wonderful in a clean grid of images all featuring the same sky or red shirt photography. My Candlestick Pages are one such typography which I collect. As are my multi-image action images. I’ve seen other people collect cards which feature catchers, bubble gum, double plays, broken bats, cameras, kids, etc. In many ways all of us trading card collectors are making our own typologies and seeing the different ones is one of the best things about Card Twitter and the way people share their collections.

That’s not the only connection that happened though. After two different artificial cloud discussions I remembered Eadweard Muybridge and his particular skill at artificially adding clouds to his landscapes before he became the animal in motion guy.* Because early photographic emulsions were primarily sensitive to blue light, skies ended up being completely white in the prints.** It was commonplace to add them back in when printing and Muybridge excelled at this.

*Bringing us right back the grids of small prints.

**Blue sensitivity means that there’s no difference between something being white because it has lots of blue or being white because it’s actually white. As a result, clouds disappear.

There’s a fantastic article by Byron Wolfe about both Muybridge’s clouds and how his different prints were often different composites. Wolfe is a frequent collaborator with Mark Klett in rephotographing and putting old photographs into a larger context so seeing his approach to Muybridge’s work is great.

It’s also a reminder that compositing is as old as photography itself. As long as we’ve been using cameras we’ve been messing with the images to improve upon the scenes or create things that aren’t actually there.

Set building and set completion

Spring cleaning seems to be a hobby thing as well. This year I’ve seen a bunch of guys express a desire to streamline their collections and offload sets and set builds which are eating up storage space but provide them no joy. This is a good thing. A lot of us have a lot of cards in storage that would make someone else much more happier and routing those cards to the correct person makes everyone happy.

Steve/Cardboard Jones was one such cleaner and when he mentioned what he was getting rid of I pinged him on 2014 Topps since I’ve been trying to build that set for a while. I was half expecting just a pile of cards to go with my existing pile of 2014 cards but Steve actually went through my search lists and sent me only cards that I needed.

No I’m not going to scan them all but I continue o enjoy this set. he design is a bit of a mess but it’s also mostly ignorable. Photo is big. Names are readable. And the photo selections do a good job providing the splash of color which the design is missing.

There are also a lot of photos, especially of celebrations, which look like the kind of thing Topps would short print nowadays. It’s really nice to see these as just regular base cards and serves as yet another reminder how the optimization around variant images has really hurt the quality of the base product.

Anyway I’m down to needing only 10 cards on this set build now (current status is on my search list page).

42 Mariano Rivera
123 James Paxton
133 Xander Bogaerts
342 Brad Miller
358 Christian Yelich
401 Felix Hernandez
424 Jose Ramirez
496 Jose Abreu
657 Corey Hart
659 Ervin Santana

Paxton, Bogaerts, Ramirez, and Abreu are all rookie cards.  Yelich is a first flagship. I don’t expect any of them to be expensive but the market can definitely be stupid here.

I also went though and put together a list of cards which are currently in a different binder (mostly Giants or Stanford). I don’t need these to feel complete on a set build but it’s always nice when there are no holes anywhere.

8 Coco Crisp
399 Hector Sanchez
423 Marco Scutaro
442 Angel Pagan
446 Tim Hudson
537 Madison Bumgarner
607 Jed Lowrie
615 Drew Storen

Actively looking for these? Not really. But they’re nice to have in hand if I’m looking to gang a few cards on to a Sportlots order.

Steve also noticed on my set building search list that I was one common card away from completing 1994 Topps. The bulk of this build was actually another spring cleaning pick up a couple years ago. Despite dropping 1994 cold turkey I decided that completing the set would make a nice bookend on my 1986 set as a way marking my childhood collecting years. Plus it’s got a lot of fun photos.

Joey Cora is a weird one to end up with as the last card but sometimes that’s the way things break.

As with 2014, there are a couple of cards which I’d kind of like to get doubles of so that I can have them in different binders. One of these is Stanford, the other is a Giant.

237 Curtis Pride / Shawn Green / Mark Sweeney / Eddie Davis
433 Dave Burba

Thanks so much Steve! I’m glad I could put these into a good home.

A surprise from Pre War Cards

Last fall I finally started watching Cowboy Bebop. As much as I like anime and animation Bebop had never really appealed to me. Space ships and guns weren’t my thing and it seemed like one of those shows which was designed to appeal to the worst kind of anime fanboys. But with the live action remake providing a handy excuse, enough people whose taste I respect were able to convince me to give the show a shot.

I’m very glad I did. For whatever reason no one had properly explained the brilliance of the music and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed savoring my way through the series. No I’m not done yet. I can only watch late at night after the kids have gone to bed and as a result I’m not able to get through episodes very quickly.

Anyway, as is my wont, once I have a good template set up I’m incapable of letting it sit around unused. So I went to my Carreras Famous Airmen template and created three more cards to go with the four Miyazaki cards I had previously created.

At first these were just for fun and I had no real desire to print them. Then Pre War Cards started tweeting about ripping boxes of Cowboy Bebop collectible card game packs. So I piggybacked the cards on to my most recent Magcloud order* and cut them out.

*Not currently impressed with Magcloud’s support since they screwed up two of my items and it’s approaching two weeks now without getting to the correct support desk. 

They look like a lot of fun in my album but I went ahead and sent Anson copies for his albums too. A week or so later he sent me a nice thank you package.

First off. 6 duplicates from his Bebop collectible card game. We’ve got cards featuring the five members of the Bebop crew plus one which depicts the first episode of the show. Looking at the cards I have no idea how the game is intended to be played. And truth be told, the idea of making a game based on Bebop seems incredibly stupid unless the point is that at the end of each game you haven’t accomplished any of your planned objectives.

It’s cool to have a sample though, especially since these don’t seem to circulate too much. Every time Anson tweets about them it seems that other Bebop fans jump in with “WTF are those!” excitement.

That of course wasn’t the only stuff in the envelope. There were also these two playing cards. The 8♣️ depicts Memorial Church at Stanford while the 4♠️ shows San Francisco Chinatown. Obviously Memorial Church will slide into my Stanford album while the Chinatown one will go with my pre-war postcards and things.

One thing to note about the printing here is that the colored ovals are a solid ink color. Yes there’s a black halftone on top from the photos since in neither of them is the sky pure white, but all the color is a solid spot color. I’m sort of curious how many different colors here are and if they correspond to each suit.

These cards come from a deck which looks to have been distributed on the Southern Pacific Coast Daylight route. Based on the design of the locomotive it looks like either a GS-2 or GS-3 which dates the deck to 1940 plus or minus a couple years.

Having ridden the route as part of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight service. I can easily see why it was considered America’s most beautiful train when it was running in the height of the streamliner age. Whether enjoying the coastal views from the train or just seeing that streamlined red and orange livery pass by the train is an obvious looker.

I’m assuming the deck consists of landmarks that are roughly served by the route. So a lot of Bay Area and LA scenes and probably some stuff from Santa Barbara as well. The back of the deck definitely looks like it’s included one of Mission Santa Barbara’s bell towers along with the Santa Ynez Mountains in a made-up scene for the train to speed through.

Very cool stuff. Thanks Anson!

Metacards and the Tobacco Set of Tobacco

About a year ago I wrote about a silly idea which I called Metacards. In short the idea is cards which describe themselves. There’s not much I have to add to that original post except to note that I’ve sort of gone off and started a metacard mini collection.

It’s still very much a mini PC. I’ve got a Bowman Bowman, Post Post, Phillie Philley, and mini Minnie. There’s a Rookie rookie in my 2017 Update set but I haven’t gotten an extra. Nor have I grabbed the Padres Podres or any other cards mentioned in that post.

I did however recently pick up a set of 1926 Player’s Cigarettes “From Plantation to Smoker” cards which, as the tobacco card set of tobacco cards fits perfectly with this theme.

It’s a small set of 25 cards which details the entire process from growing tobacco all the way to making cigarettes. In many ways it’s also a great fit with the Liebig printing cards in that it’s not just a joke of a meta card, it’s an actual meta card that’s commenting on itself—in this case not the card production but the product which it’s packaged with.

The artwork is pretty interesting with detailed images of the tobacco farm and fields. This is a 1926 set but you very much get a sense that tobacco production still relies on a lot of Black labor for the benefit of white planters. The farm house is clearly an estate while all the farmworkers except the supervisor are non-white.

The backs of the cards make it clear that this set is about the product and how carefully cultivated it is. Which makes sense for something being actually packaged with cigarettes. How delicate the plants are. How they need to be protected. How they’re picked by hand repeatedly so that every leaf has been selected for maximum ripeness.

Not exactly an advertising campaign yet clearly operating in the same world that spawned “It’s Toasted.” This is Player’s making sure its customers know that they’re getting a quality product as well as framing certain production methods as the “best” way.

The set goes on to depict the rest of the supply chain as tobacco is delivered to market, sold, processed, shipped overseas, and turned into cigarettes. I like how huge the warehouses and factories look with vanishing points that make them seem almost endless. There’s also a a sense of increased activity in many of these when compared to the farming images.

A more interesting mix of backs here. The description of the seas voyage in particular continues the emphasis on quality in how it describes how safe they have to keep the leaves on the journey.

It is however worth comparing the Hand Stemming Room with Cigarette Machine Room. The Hand Stemming back talks about “experienced white foremen” who oversee the colored labor gets a bit of side-eye from me when it describes the happy singing workforce. Meanwhile the cigarette machines are run by “highly skilled” girls. Despite how the majority of the labor depicted in this set is performed by Black hands, the finishing final touches are by English girls and yeah that feels as intentional as all the emphasis on the care and selection of the leaves.

All in all a very interesting set which also made me stop and think about how I never thought about where all the tobacco came from. As I think back about my education, tobacco farming never came up after the Civil War. It clearly continued in North Carolina and Virginia since it’s still grown in both states today but for whatever reason I wasn’t expecting to see Virginia tobacco be such an important selling point in the UK.

Big time mission creep

What I didn’t cover in my 2021 wrap-up is all the mission creep that has happened to my Stanford project. There’s been A LOT of it. While the bulk of the project is baseball, I’ve found that I really enjoy using the alumni thing to pursue vintage cards from all sports. I’m not trying for the same comprehensive one-per-year-per-player thing I am with baseball. But it’s been a lot of fun to get samples for the sets from all the sports.

It’s especially fun to go into pre-war and get the few Stanford guys who show up there. I already have a Pete Desjardins 1934 Gallaher and this 1935 Godfrey Phillips Lawson Little is a great addition as well.  I’m only scanning the back of this one card since it’s the only pre-war I’ve added here.

Football

The bulk of my additions were football. Mostly vintage stuff but I did get a few autographs. It’s weird to see Stanford get called a “football school” in old movies, like Double Indemnity but there’s clearly something there since there are Stanford players in football sets going back to the 1930s (the 1935 National Chicle Ernie Caddel is one of those cards I’d love to add but LOL at the price, maybe I should try for a Diamond Matchbook).

Nothing surprising in the autographs. Gerhart and Gaffney are actually baseball players who never played pro baseball. I really like the Plunkett though with the photo that could be either New England or Stanford.

I didn’t scan all the cards, just enough to show the variety that every player and set offers to the binder. While scanning, I did find that I have a soft spot for the pre-merger cards, especially the ones from the 1950s when football feels like a completely different sport to me.

It doesn’t hurt that the cards from that era are kind of awesome. I love the old Bowman designs in particular but 1960s Philadelphia and Topps designs aren’t bad either. Heck many of the Topps designs through 1987 are wonderfully distinct too.

After 1988 the “vintage/junk wax” line sort of kicks in as more companies get involved. I’m using this project a a way of acquainting myself with the older designs and when we get multiple companies using the same designs in all sports I’m not nearly as interested.

Basketball

Stanford’s tradition in basketball is not nearly as strong. There are a few guys from the 50s and 60s* who have cards but most of those are kind of spendy mainly because early basketball releases seem to be pretty uncommon.

*Howie Dallmar, Jim Pollard, and George Yardley

I did get a bunch of autographs since they were super cheap. Was especially nice to get many of the guys who I watched when I was a student and who remind me of that improbable era when we went to a Final Four. Stanford is not a basketball school but for a decade there it kind of was.

As with football, I’m mainly using this as a way of getting samples of the vintage designs. This means I didn’t scan the cards of the guys who I watched as a student. It also means that Stanford’s lack of influence on the ABA/NBA in the 1970s and 1980s is on full display by the fact that I only have 8 cards here. Thank god for Rich Kelley giving me a reason to get cards from 1977–1981. And yes that is a 1952 Wheaties card of Jim Pollard. I’d love a 1948 Bowman but LOL.

I took a different tack with the women since women’s basketball cards have been an inconsistent thing as the WNBA has taken a long time to really take off in any shape or form. Really interesting how cards only show up in certain brief gaps of history and then disappear again. Is nice that many of them happen to cover the years that players I watched when I was a student ended up in the pros.

Other

Kind of the holding area for all the other Stanford cards. I’ve written about some already but everything non-football, non-basketball is in here right now.

Two autographs. Both good ones. Mendoza is arguably a baseball card since it came out of Topps Archives.

Everything else is kind of a wonderful pile of randomness. I didn’t even scan all of them here either but they all make the binder that much more interesting. I’m going to have to really investigate the Olympicards set though since that Sanders photo is killer.

And yeah. No real defined searchlists although I do have everyone in the binder who’s not a baseball player listed on the page. I’ll continue to poke and prod at this as the mood strikes me but it’s mainly a chance to just have some fun browsing for cards.

PWE from Night Owl

A short post about a PWE from Greg/Night Owl. Thanks to his previous mailing I added Shawn Green’s Topps run to my Stanford search list. This apparently inspired Greg to go through his extra Greens and see if he had any of the Topps run since the first mailing had none.

Not a huge success as he was only able to find the 2005 card but I’ll take it. Will make a nice pair with the 2005 Opening Day that’s already in the binder. The more I look at the 2005 design the more I like it. It’s never going to be a favorite but it’s a basic competent design* with a nice splash of team color on the borders.

*My biggest problem are the cards which replace the player name with DRAFT PICK or PROSPECT without changing enough of the rest of the design.

Greg also included this 2021 Archives Will Clark which I’m sure he was thrilled to get out of his house. Since Clark’s last season was 2001 this almost works as a career capper card. Nice to see him in a Giants uniform though. The Cardinals one looks so wrong. I’m not sure how Topps chooses which vintage logo to use for these though since the 1980s primary logo that shows up on all the 1980s cards makes a lot more sense than the cap logo which Topps selected.

Anyway. I’m happy to slot in another Green card into the Stanford album and I’m happy to add some Archives since I don’t buy that product. Thanks Greg!

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.

A pile from Night Owl

Way back in November, Greg/Night Owl made a plea for people to take a bunch of extra Dodgers cards off his hands. While his request was intended for other Dodgers collectors, I figured it was a sign that I should take the plunge into collecting Shawn Green so I commented hat if he felt like dumping a bunch of Shawn Green on me I’d be happy to take them.

The madness of the holiday season means that sending mailings out like this gets backburnered until the week after Christmas. Sure enough, I found a bubble mailer in my mailbox on New Year’s Eve and inside was the stack of Shawn Green cards and an almost-threatening note.

I appreciate that Greg kept things in check. Where the other Stanford guys who didn’t play baseball for Stanford tend to not have many of cards at all, Green has a ton.* As I said way back when I first added him to the binder, I don’t want to supercollect him. But I won’t turn down a big stack and as a legitimate star/semi-star he does show up in a lot of sets which I’ve not included in the binder.

*Checking Trading Card Database. Bill Wakefield has 14, Bobby Brown has 34, Kenny Williams has 62, and Shawn Green has 4,445.

Anyway, to the pile. Since Greg is a Dodgers fan it only covers 2000–2005 when Green was getting Dodgers cards. He did however do a nice job in giving me a few cards from each year.

Starting off in 2000. I’m glad there’s one card depicting Green as a Blue Jay here. I have Giants cards from most of these sets but I’m pretty sure none of them are represented in my Stanford Album. I’ve tended to focus on either the base flagship sets or oddballs in that album. This is partly for simplicity’s sake and partly because I can’t be bothered to learn about the thousands of sets released in the 1990s and 2000s

This group of six kind makes that point since not only are none of them are from base flagship sets, they’re all from releases that only lasted a couple years. In many ways I love how much the hobby was trying things out. In other ways it’s a clear sign that everything was out of control.

To the 2001. Same story as with the 2000s except that I need to point out that my Stadium Club coverage of these years in all albums is thin to none. Greg included Stadium Club cards for 2000–2003 and they were my first representatives of those sets in any of my collections. I should probably rectify that for other Stanford guys as well as the Giants. Anyway this 2001 Stadium Club card is an especially nice image of Pac Bell Park in its first year.

The two Topps HD cards intrigue me. I don’t quite understand what makes this set HD since nothing besides the card thickness really jumps out to me as being different. I also don’t really understand what was going on with Topps Fusion. Both of those sets appear to be single-year experiments though so it’s nice to have a couple samples.

2002 has probably the most interesting mix of cards. Traditional photography like Stadium Club. Crazy chromed out stuff in Finest. Retro “painting” on the Topps 206. Acetate/clear stock on the E-X.

The Bats Incredible card is the one that catches my eye though. It kind of looks like an insert and it kind of looks a base card from a set that was designed to have a relic or signature in the top right corner on the hits. Definitely another one-year-wonder of a release but I can’t help but wonder how and why it was released.

This image covers both 2003 and 2004. Not a ton to say about these except that I love the 2003 Playoff Portraits card. As leery as I am about most of the fake paintings that end up on cards, the way this set is actually textured really enhances the painting feel. I’m pretty sure this was around for only one year which is a shame since it would’ve been nice to collect a couple seasons of these.

The Bowman Heritage in the 1955 design meanwhile shows the kind of thing that I dislike about so many of the Heritage cards. 1955 Bowman, despite the color TVs dominating the design, has a really distinct photographic look. An extreme crop from a generic action image like this doesn’t quite measure up and demonstrates a certain lack of understanding about what makes sets memorable.

Finishing up with the 2005s. Where the Playoff Portraits is great, the Diamond Kings is mess. It’s worth pointing out here that this is the only year with anything approaching the standard base cards. These are the only base Donruss and Fleer in the pile and the Opening Day is basically identical* to the Flagship card.

*And arguably an improvement with the blue foil on the Dodgers card.

Having the Opening Day card inspired me to add Green’s Topps Flagship run to my Stanford wantlist page.* I’ll probably take a gander at Sportlots or Cardbarrel at some point. No real rush though especially with so many Green cards in the Binder now.

*As well as Bobby Brown’s Bowman run.

Thanks Greg! I’m glad I could help with your duplicates problem.