Cards from Cards on Cards

Earlier this month Kerry over at Cards on Cards (@cardsoncards) hosted a small free mini break of a bunch of packs of 2019 Topps of the Class. These kind of weird little parallel sets are kind of my jam so I signed up for the Giants.

Unfortunately I got skunked. The break ended up being wildly unbalanced. Some teams got all kinds of duplicates while many were shut out. Very much how things used to be when I was a kid where I’d run into the same cards over and over and never see others.

Anyway, yesterday I found an envelope from Kerry in my mailbox and inside was one of the duplicate Joey Gallo cards. It doesn’t look like anyone even grabbed the Rangers in the break so I gather that Kerry was glad to get them sent out to anyone who’d take them.

This is a set of cards which my kids would’ve loved if they had a card store anywhere near where we lived. The idea is that you would bring your report card into a shop and get a pack of five cards. I wish they had this kind of thing when I was a kid and had access to like three different card shops.

If this was happening last year I’d’ve felt  a little weird about where these packs came from. But a year after the promotion means these were just sitting in a forgotten pile. Which is great since it reminds me of the 1990 Donruss Learning set that I never saw when I was a kid but would totally have been all over.

Kerry can fit six cards in an envelope so he packed a handful of Giants in for me. The Brandon Belt is a Diamond Anniversary Limited Edition stamped parallel of his base 2011 card. No idea what that means in terms of distribution but I definitely know I don’t have it already.

The Willie Mays is a Spring has Sprung insert from 2020 Opening Day—a set I’ve seen all of one card from to-date. I can’t tell if the border is trying to be old-looking or if it’s supposed to be a nice pastel yellow color. I’m hoping the latter since it triggers a bit of “mismatched white point dissonance” in my brain. Nice to add this one to the collection as well.

The 2009 Turkey Red of Bengie Molina is another card I don’t have. A lot of the Topps Turkey Reds have appalling artwork but this one’s pretty nice. I will never understand why Topps preferred to use the modern-looking shiny black jerseys on these vintage-looking cards though.

The 2019 Joe Panik is a pink Chrome parallel which will add a bit of color to the album. And the foil 2020 Donruss Mauricio Dubon—about as nice an unlicensed card as you can hope to see with the angle of the picture obscuring the logoless cap—makes this a nice 5 for 5 on getting Giants cards I don’t have yet. An impressive percentage for a random unlooked-for plain white envelope.

Very cool. Thanks Kerry!

Signature Sleuth

A relatively new Twitter account which I’ve been following is Signature Sleuth (@SignatureSleuth). He’s kind of crazy and buys big lots of autographed baseballs. He then often posts photos of them on Twitter as both contests to guess who the player is or to figure things out if he’s unable to do so.

I don’t like the guess-the-player ones but when he posts team balls those turn into fun little puzzles. After a team ball is solved he sends a random autograph to one lucky participant, one of which ended up being me.

So my plain white envelope arrived earlier this week. Inside was this Jacob Cruz autograph which is exactly the kind of autograph I was expecting. There are so many “junk” autographs out there in the hobby now which have no appeal to anyone except a hard-core team collector. As such a collector though this is the kind of thing I enjoy.

Cruz never really lived up to the hype as a player but he was a guy I saw come through Sunken Diamond when he played for Arizona state. Always fun to see guys I watched in college make it to the show, especially when it’s for my team.

Thanks for the card and keep the team balls coming!

Totes jelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Marc! Stay safe out there.

Grey Areas (and Mission Creep part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few maildays

Catching up on a few maildays that came in over the past couple weeks. School being at home has meant we all have had to adjust and has left me with less time for other things. But it’s been too long now so it’s time to acknowledge a number of things that came in the mail.

We’ll start off with these two Carl Aldana Seals customs of the lesser-known DiMaggio brothers from Jason. These cards are in the 1950s Mother’s Cookies style but feature photos from the 1930s. Mixing the two eras works pretty well but for me draws the photos into looking more 1950s because of the colorization.

Two neat little objects. I’m apparently a sucker for rounded corners. And I enjoy seeing Vince in his Hollywood Stars uniform.

It’s also worth showing the backs of these cards. No stats but not blank either. The image used could be a bit higher-resolution but I appreciate making it a vintage dairy advertisement. Is a nice riff on something that should fit right in with cookies.

I also got a nice postcard from Mark Armour just wishing us safety and health in these strange times. Why bother with a PWE when you can just send a postcard by itself? Anyway this is making me think that I should start mailing small things out to people just as a way to say “take care.” It’s indeed a strange world out there but there’s also something wonderful about seeing 90% of us in agreement about what’s most important and trying to support each other in surviving.

Does this go in a Giants binder? Maybe it does. Maybe it does. It is after all the closest I ever expect to get to a T206 Christy Mathewson.

Another mailing that came in was a handful of cards from Shane Katz which included my first 1981 Topps Scratch Offs. This is one of those sets that never appealed to me with its small photos and perforated edges.

Seeing them in panels helps a lot as the different colors make things more interesting. I can’t imagine filling 9-pocket (or even 10-pocket) sheets with these but picturing a full 4-pocket page appeals to me

Meanwhile my printing side appreciates that each photo is framed in a different process color. One of these days I’ll write the Topps and process colors post I keep saying I’ll write and the colors of 1981 Topps will definitely be a big part of that.

The backs of these are are great because they explain how the game is supposed to work. It’s actually something I can see my kids enjoying although I can already tell that the game has little replay value since you’ll quickly learn where to scratch for maximum run scoring.

The advertisement panels are also a ton of fun. I don’t know anyone who sent in for these things but that cap just screams its age/era and I do know a lot of guys who stored their cards in baseball card lockers like that.

Shane also included a couple other cards including a 2020 Heritage Willie Mays insert which takes my accumulated total for this set to six. Am I actively chasing and trying to build it? No. Is it something that I enjoy slowly adding to? Absolutely.

Thanks guys and take care in this season unlike any other.

March TTMs

What a month. All things considered this was pretty successful. Spring training returns continued to come in and a few other requests I sent out also came back. With the whole Covid-19 debacle I stopped sending requests early in the month and things sort of dried up in the last two weeks. I have no idea what to expect for returns moving forward but I am looking forward to being able to start things up again some day.

Also it’s worth noting that the boys wrote a few letters and began getting returns this month as well. They’ve been pretty quiet since last summer but this is a fun activity to share with them plus it gets them writing.

They have a few more out there but who knows what to expect now. Anyway to my returns for the month.

I tried sending to Dave Righetti early last year. Was hopeful I’d get a return when I saw everyone else get returns around June. No dice. I figured that I’d try again this spring and send to Scottsdale instead  of Pac Bell. 27 days later a nice 1993 Topps Gold card came back signed.

Rags was one of those guys I liked watching before he became a Giant. Some pitchers you can just watch how they move the ball around the zone and really appreciate the art of pitching. Once he came to San Francisco I was happy to have an excuse to cheer for him. That he went on to become the pitching coach during the Even Years run of championships makes him even cooler.

Same Selman is yet another Giant who made his Major League Debut last year. These came back in 24 days. He didn’t keep one but I hope he liked them.

Two years into making customs and I’ve come to realize that I love sending out “congrats on your MLB debut, I made some customs for you” letters. This season I’m going to have to try and make debut or notable firsts (hits, home runs, wins, etc.) cards for all the guys making their official debuts.

Tommy Edman is a Stanford guy who was not on my radar for making it to the majors last year. But he did, had a great first season, and was literally the last guy to make it into the 2019 Update set.* I didn’t mention it when Big Shep sent me the Edman cards last year but Shep sent me an extra Edman for TTM reasons.

*Seriously. Edman debuted on June 8 and Yordan Alvarez debuted on June 9. Edman is included in 2019 Update. Alvarez had to wait until 2020 to get his first Major League card. Not sure whether the MLBPA union insisted on that cutoff or if Topps proposed it. Either way it left Update feeling like a badly-thought-out set which isn’t able to include either the top Rookies or the trades that occurred before the deadline.

Edman sent this back to me in only 19 days. Very cool and I’ve already added it to the page of Stanford Autographs. Up to 92 different athletes on there now.

Felipe Alou is probably my favorite return of the spring. I wish I’d had some vintage doubles of him (ideally 1960 0r 1962) but I also really liked him as the Giants manager and the way he used his platform there to speak about his experiences in the game and how society has changed in the decades since he started playing.

His baseball stories were great but the one that sticks with me the most is appropriate for his status as the first Dominican player. His first time traveling into the South and being informed that certain people had decided that he was black.

Needless to say I’m very happy with this card. He was one of the first letters I sent out and 31 days later I was very happy to add him to the binder.

I figured I shouldn’t just be sending to Spring Training so I sent a couple other requests out in February. Goose Gossage is one such request. His 1986 Topps card came back in 17 days. I just love the attitude in this photo. I would’ve sent him a 1989 Mothers Cookies card but I traded my duplicate a long time ago.

Chuck Essegian is another re-send for me. Once I started making Stanford customs I figured I should go back over the guys I got the first time around. The hard part is often finding photos. With Essegian I was stuck between showing him on the A’s since he never had an A’s card or putting him on the Dodgers since his pinch-hitting heroics make him a Dodger legend of sorts. I went with the Dodgers and after a couple of tries this came back in 8 days.

Spring training returns continued to trickle in after the first burst. Jandal Gustave signed in 34 days—still not a long wait. He was a bit of a surprise last season who came with no expectations and turned out to be quietly effective out of the bullpen.

After 10 days, Doug Gwosdz became the first signer to take advantage of the Mother’s Cookies “autograph” line on the backs of the cards. I’ve always wondered about that line as it felt both optimistic and a bit weird to have on the backs of the cards. It doesn’t feel like something that Mother’s Cookies would have invented but it’s not something that’s exactly common either.

I’ve gone ahead and scanned the front of the card as well. I would’ve preferred the signature be there but I can’t complain. This is actually a zero-year card since Gwosdz never appeared in the majors with the Giants. I don’t collect this theme but they’re certainly fun things to note and don’t really pop up that often (I didn’t see any Giants on the list I linked to). I appreciate that he signed the index card with his Giants number instead of the #10 he wore with the Padres.

Catcher Steve Nicosia came back in 9 days. He was a World Series winning catcher with the Pirates in 1979 and later spent two seasons with the Giants as a backup/platoon guy.

Roberto Hernandez’s 10-day return continues the theme of short-term Giants. He was only on the team for half of the 1997 season but since that pennant race is what brought me back to being a fan I remember him very fondly. His two-inning save of the game before the Brian Johnson game will be my lasting memory. He wasn’t our main closer but at that time it was quite a weapon to have a guy who could hit 100mph on the gun.

Yet another short-term Giant, Gene Richards signed in 11 days. Richards was primarily a Padre whose 56 stolen bases was the Rookie record from 1977 to 1980. This 1985 card is his career capper as he retired after his 1984 season—his only one with the Giants.

After the Richards return my mail pretty much dried up as the country went into the Covid-19 lockdown. My two-week dry spell was broken by a nice 44-day return from Alex Dickerson. The autos got kind of beat up and scratched in the return envelope but that was totally fine because Dick included a nice note as well.

This encapsulates everything I enjoy about sending out these requests. I mentioned in my letter how much fun it was to see the way he energized the team last season and giving the customs to players is a way to demonstrate my appreciation as a fan. In these days where everyone’s just waiting out the impending disaster and trying to stay safe there’s also something wonderful in just the simple “take care” sort of response everyone is giving each other.

I know the month isn’t over quite yet (will it ever end?) but this feels like an appropriate last return for the post. This blog doesn’t have many readers but I agree 100% with Alex. I hope all is well and that you’re all staying safe. Take care out there.

Home Base

It feels like years ago but it hasn’t even been two weeks since I made the trek out to Queens to check out a small exhibition that Ralph Carhart had put together at Queens College CUNY. I went partially to support another SABR member in my backyard but I would’ve wanted to see this show anyway since the hstory of baseball in New York is something I should know about.* Plus I hadn’t been out to Queens and have wanted to check out Corona Park** and the Queens Museum for a long time.

*Much to my chagrin I totally blew it and missed a show late last year about New Jersey baseball that was almost literally in my back yard.

**Irony not intended.

Initially this was looking like a possible meetup for a bunch of us on Card Twitter but between work, family, and virus concerns, only Mark Hoyle made it down from Boston. This also saved him a stamp since he was able to hand-deliver me a nice Gypsy Oak print of Marvin Miller before we even got to meet Ralph and start our private tour of the exhibit.

Having just sent Mark a set of my printed out Viewmaster scans I was unable to reciprocate. Still, it’s always great to put a face to a contact. I haven’t met many of my twitter contacts but on the rare times I do I’ve really enjoyed it even though there’s always a lot of apprehension due to meeting someone who you already kind of know even though you only know that small portion of their interests which you overlap with.

DSC_0001

Ralph met us at the Library and opened up the exhibit for our tour. I’m not usually a big talker when I’m at a museum but we spent more time talking about the stuff on display than reading the descriptions that Ralph had worked so hard on (sorry!).

The show is laid out roughky chronoligically which meant we started off with vintage base ball. Which was great. Of course we’d all seen games and had paid enough attention to know some of the rule evolutions. Ralph though pointed out the differences between the New York game and the Boston game and suggested how a similar show in Boston would be very interesting.

DSC_0002

My favorite part of the show was Jesse Loving’s Ars Longa cards which he had used to create and illustrate a timeline of New York (and its environs) baseball up to around 1920. The cards are all customs but the choice of design and the treatment of the photos* really works to make the whoel timeline come to life.

*I’m not usually a fan of colorizing black and white photos but it really works here since so many of the old cards that inspired these customs are paintings based on photo originals. 

It’s not just an image of a player that jumps out but the style of the card and way things are depicted that adds so much more richness to just a simple timeline concept. I love a lot of these but my favorite is probably the Arnold Rothstein Pea·Nut custom since Zee·Nuts are one of my favorite things.

As we moved more into the 20th Century, the artifacts became a bit more standard. This isn’t a bad thing as it reflects the game becoming the game we all know and love. One of the best things about baseball is how it’s truly recognizable throughout the decades. Yes there are some equipment changes and things but at a base level the game is unchanged.

There was also a decent amount of art, specifically paintings, on display. They were nice, the Graig Kreindler in particular kind of glows and I certainly understand why people love his work. The paintings leave me a bit unmoved as art* but they certainly work well in this exhibit since they illustrate the history of the game and frequently lavish attention on the New York ballparks in the backgrounds.

*This is probably not-that-latent art snobbery on my part but while I can appreciate the craft of the work there’s something about the palpable nostalgia that the paintings evoke coupled with the fact that large realistic oil paintings haven’t been my art museum jam for decades that leaves me with a “that’s nice” reaction. I do however love the idea of these paintings as postcards or trading cards so it’s possible that there’s something to the scale of the pieces that I’m also responding to.

The show finished up with a nice wall of trading cards depicting every New York player who was born in another country.  Ralph detailed a lot of this collection already but it’s just a fun wall to browse over and see how different countries appear and how much more diverse the game has gotten in the past couple decades.

I was pleased to see that Adonis Rosa made the cut since he had only played one game for the Yankees last season. I also remarked that Ralph was lucky that Johnnie Williams played for the Tigers since he was born in the Kingdom of Hawaii and probably wouldn’t have been an obvious non-USA player. I love the research that went into putting the checklist together for the wall.

A shame that the last week of this show got stomped by a viral outbreak since it was well worth the visit. I’m hoping Ralph gets a chance to mount it again since I think my ids would really dig it too.

Two more sets complete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assorted small maildays

A couple small maildays arrived in my mailbox last week. Yes it’s fun getting a big box of cards but the small maildays almost always represent something special which fills a specific hole in a search list.

For example, these two cards from Big Shep which represent both my first non-Giants 2020 cards and keep my Stanford project at its “basically done” state. Always nice to add a rookie card to the binder and I hope Hoerner keeps on developing the way he has been.

A couple comments on the 2020 design. First, I generally like even though it feels more Bowman or National Baseball Card Day than what I expect from Flagship. The photos have been more interesting than previous years and putting the design on the side creates more interesting croppings than the previous three years of transparency effects on the bottom.

It looks best with colored uniforms like in these two cards. The Edman in particular looks especially nice since those blue Cardinals away uniforms are fantastic. With the regular grey and white uniforms this design has a tendency to go monochrome in a bad way It would’ve been interesting to see, instead of the white transparency effect,  a solid team color in that section of the card instead.

And I wish the name and position text was rotated 180° so that they weren’t upside down on the horizontal cards. I was worried that Topps was going to have this happen as soon as I saw the mock-ups last year. This is one of those cases where it feels like no one at Topps collects cards and thinks about how people are going to store them.

Also, for some reason Nico Hoerner’s card back lists his 2019 cumulative Minor League stats but doesn’t include his Major League stats. I don’t get it.

Finally, Hoerner’s card is appallingly printed. There’s some weird purple/magenta toning going on which results in his uniform going all splotchy. I know that’s a tough color to print but this is more than just running one ink too heavy. One thing modern cards usually have over older cards is that they’re manufactured much much better. In this case though something went wrong on the press.

Speaking of things going wrong on press. Lanny came back a me with yet another off-condition Willie Mays card. Instead of surface damage, paper loss, or disintegrating corners, this time we’ve got a trimming fiasco. Not just a mistrim, this is also slightly diamond cut.

Aside from the trimming though this is possibly the best-conditioned 1969 Topps card I have. Color is great. Surface is great. Corners are great. Printing is on-register and sharp. Of all the flaws a card can have, centering is the one I care least about so this is an awesome addition to my Giants binder which takes me to needing only one more 1969 card for the team set.

Who do I still need? The high-number Bobby Bonds rookie. It’s not ridiculous but it’s not cheap either.

Anyway, thanks guys, all three of these are great additions to the collection!

Oddballs from Shane!

Earlier this week I found a fun bubble mailer from Shane Katz in my mailbox. Shane’s been on an oddballs binge for a couple years now and it appears that he’s spreading the wealth in terms of sending extras to people who can use them.

Two such extras are this Mike Sadek from the 1979 or 1980 KNBR/SFPD* Giants set and Steve Buechele from the 1988 Smokey Bear Rangers set. Both of these sets are from the heydey of 1980s (plus or minus a few years) oddballs where teams and sponsors would print out photos on some sort of card stock and issue them as baseball cards without any consideration as to the traditional baseball card size.

*I don’t have the ganas to look this up. Both years look nearly the same with the only difference being that one has a bold font and the other uses an octothorpe with the uniform number. Oh. Wait. The Sadek matches the Joe Strain which I previously identified as a 1980 release.

Yup. Both of these are oversized. KNBR/SFPD is like 2¼”×4″ and Smokey Bear is 3½”×5″. Makes these a pain to binder but I like all the weird sizes and the reminder that the Topps standard we’ve had since 1957 was something we played fast and loose with even when I was a kid.

The Sadek is a lot of fun. I like Sadek for nostalgia reasons and Dennis Desprois’s team photos are always good for a view of Candlestick as well. Also despite my not liking facsimile signatures I do like the way this one works. The overprinted black signatures frequently bother me but when they become more pronounced—whether foil stamped, reversed, or in cyan like this—I end up treating them more as a design element than a facsimile.

Buechele meanwhile makes a great type card for the Stanford binder. I love oddballs but chasing ALL of them is madness. That the Stanford Project gives me an excuse to pick one from the set is one of the reasons I like the project. I can add all kinds of odd cards and stay on topic.

Two more highlights from the mailer are this 1979 Hostess Vida Blue and 1997 Fleer signed Rod Beck card.* I’ve been slowly getting into Hostess cards. I was hesitant about them for a long time due to their handcut and grease-stained natures but I’ve come around to loving the fact that they existed at all.

*The Hostess is obviously smaller than the Fleer in real life but here on the web images can be sized to the same dimensions and  create an alternate reality.

It’s great that cards were part of the boxes of junk food in the 1970s. As a parent* now I’m glad that this no longer exists but I look at those janky edges and can’t help but smile. I don’t want these to be perfectly trimmed. I want to see the evidence of a child in the 1970s lovingly, carefully cutting out the card and squirreling it away.

*And as a 40-year-old card collector with a sweet tooth.

The 1997 Rod Beck is awesome. I’ve discussed Shooter on here in the past but it’s worth reiterating how much I miss closers whose strikeout pitch was also a double-play inducing pitch. Aside from Beck being a fun guy and deserved fan favorite where ever he went, he never scared me like other closers do because I knew he could get double plays with that splitter.

Not as cool but great nonetheless. Shane finished off one of my team sets. The last 2000 Giants card I needed was this one of Barry Bonds. Topps printed five different variants of this card number* but I only wanted one.

*The other three: 40/40, 1990MVP, and 1993MVP.

I refuse to get drawn into all the variants crap that the modern hobby pushes and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be suckered into it where it began twenty years ago. One checklist number. One card. Set complete.

If the others show up then of course I put them in the binder. But the idea that Topps printed a flagship set consisting of fewer than 500 cards but had the time to create a bunch of variants for some of the cards is everything wrong with what Flagship should be. It’s the set of record and should strive to be as good a set with as many current players in their correct uniforms as possible.

The last couple odd cards are a pair of Japanese cards. Dave Hilton is a 1979 TCMA card which was released for the US market. I actually want to say I have it already and that it came with my Baseball Card Collecting kit. I have now idea why it would’ve come with that kit but I feel like it came with a dozen assorted TCMA cards that, instead of being pirnted as part of a team set were printed by, or for, Hygrade. Anyway this card is eerily familiar to me and there’s no good reason why it should be.

The Tadashi Kashima is interesting in that it’s a Japanese release. Slightly smaller than traditional cards at 60mm×85mm and I kind of love that it is. What I find interesting is that B8 paper (62mm×88mm) is almost the same size as a baseball card but instead we’ve rounded down to the nearest multiple of five.

I always like looking at the backs of these so I’ve gone ahead and scanned it event though I have nothing to say about it.

Last batch of cards are more-modern Giants cards. The Opening Day insert is new. So is the Heritage insert. It’s weird, these Then and Now inserts have very clear connections between the players—in this case Batting Average Leaders—yet somehow feels completely random.

The rest I think I have—yes even that green Logan Webb (I don’t have a base version but I do have two of these somehow)—but will go in the duplicates pile for the boys. Well except for that Triple Play Buster Posey which is the stuff of nightmares and which they won’t let anywhere near their collections.

Very cool. Thanks Shane!