Thanksgiving Surprise

Well this was a pleasant surprise. I was away for Thanksgiving weekend and returned home to find a plain white envelope from Marc Brubaker. Inside were a handful of cards and a mysterious object wrapped with blue painters tape. We’ll get to the cards later.

I dutifully started unwrapping. Maildays are always a fun surprise and since my Giants fandom is pretty well known now they usually consist of random Giants cards—sometimes from my wantlist but more-usually from all the sets that have released in the past couple decades. Anyway I was primed to expect something featuring the Giants and was not at all expecting to find what was in there.

Holy shit. Marc had read my Old Timers post and he both had a duplicate of Bob Veale and was determined to send it to me. I’ve been slowly adding to that project but had yet to find the Veale card at a price I was willing to pay. It’s not expensive like the Danny Cater rookie but I like my card purchases to be maybe a couple bucks max for now.

Anyway this card looks great and it’s much more fun to be surprised by like this.

 

Only two cards left now on this project (Joe Christopher and Bill Fahey are also new additions since the previous post). The Danny Cater rookie is expensive so I’ll keep looking to see if anything cheap pops up. And the Charlie Wagner will likely be the most difficult addition since I don’t like the one mid-1970s TCMA card I’ve been able to find of his.

Anyway the rest of the envelope had six more Giants cards. I kind of dig the one of Bonds climbing the wall even though I suspect he’s watching a home run sail out of the park. Also the scan doesn’t show the way that the card is embossed with baseball stitches. The mid 1990s were a weird age for trying all kinds of funky stuff with printing as a way of trying to prove “quality.”

The pair of 1995 Donruss cards is also noteworthy since while Topps and Fleer’s 1995 designs are both so awful—Marc sent me some 1995 Fleer last time—the Donruss design is actually pretty nice and is one of the better picture-in-picture designs I’ve seen.

And these three 1983 Fleer stickers finished out the envelope. I don’t actively search for these stickers but they’re fun. I enjoy that these ones have a semblance of card information on the backs. Many stickers I’ve seen don’t waste their time on that stuff since the backs are disposable waste. Also as someone who’s probably* working on an Atlee Hammaker personal collection it’s nice to add some weird stuff to the checklist.

*It’s not official but yeah I should admit as much to myself and just put the want/checklist together.

So thanks Marc! This was unexpected on multiple levels and I’ve got to get something put together to send back. The good news is that since he’s a big through-the-mail (TTM) autograph collector that I don’t have to worry too much about sending him Astros cards that he may already have. TTM is one of those things that I’d love to try again but it works best if you assume the card is never coming back.

Mailday from @mjpmke

A great mailday from Matt Prigge (@mjpmke) which manages to hit a bunch of different projects I’m working on. Matt’s a Brewers fan whose All-time Brewers project seemed daunting until I found out about his Brewers Autograph Project. He also has some cool history writing about Milwaukee.

This is one of those rare cards which satisfies two projects at once. This fills a hole in my 1974 Giants but it’s also a record of the Padres aborted move to Washington DC. I’ve been sort of working on a moves/expansion project for a while now and the 1974 Washington cards are a key part of that.

I’m also working on a project of Stanford Alumni. I’ve not gone after any of the cards from after I stopped collecting in 1994 so this stack is fantastic. It’s a good mix of players like Sprague and Hinch who I collected (and chased autographs) when I was still a kid and players like Lowrie and Storen who I’m older than and would’ve felt really weird about trying to get their signatures.

Some Junk Wax Giants, most of which I’m pretty sure I don’t have. 1988 Donruss is one of those sets which, as nostalgia-inducing as it is, looks worse and worse each year. 1990 Donruss and 1990 Fleer though are growing on me. I love the Topps Gold Righetti card and that Upper Deck Triple Crown subset is also brand new to me.

And a half dozen holiday cards. I have to admit that these confuse me greatly. Googling suggests this was a Walmart exclusive set released around Christmastime. The idea of replacing the smoke effect in 2016 Topps with snowflakes is mighty weird. Baseball is, after all, a summer game so the resulting look was never going to make sense.

For some reason though I find myself kind of liking these. I don’t know, maybe the holiday tackarama hits a different sort of feel for me. Yes I think they’re stupid but they’re kind of gloriously self-aware and embracing of the stupidity. The only thing that could have made things better was replacing all the caps with Santa hats. Maybe that’s what we’ll get this winter.

Anyway thanks Matt! I’ve got a handful of 1975s I need to send your way in return.

#2KJWT

One of the baseball card tweeps who I talk with a lot is @junkwaxtwins. He’s a Minnesota fan living in Texas who’s especially interested in miscuts and printing errors. I sent him a small package of miscuts and Minnesota oddballs a while ago and I just received a small package from him as part of his celebration about hitting the 2000 followers mark on Twitter.

This package consisted of two parts. Part one was for me.

Highlights here are the wonderful combination of a Donruss Elite card with a Sportflics card. And also Bo Jackson as an Angel. My brain can’t grok that at all.

Donruss Elite was one of the first major chase cards in the hobby. Yes we had things like the Griffey Jr Upper Deck Rookie or the Billy Ripken error, but the idea of inserting a special, super-hard-to-find card was somewhat novel. We’d had the 1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson signatures the previous year but that was in packs that most of us kids couldn’t really afford. 1991 Donruss though? Totally affordable.

Still, I’ve never seen an Elite card before. Given what the hobby would turn into this is a wonderfully plain and simple card. No fancy card stock, just foil stamping and number out of 10,000.* It’s a very fun reminder of a simpler time.

*With the focus on 1:1 to 1:250 on chase cards to day this is a laughably huge run.

The Giants cards are all fun too. Always enjoyable to get a Lincecum. The Brandon Crawford rookie is great. The Jonathan Sanchez confuses me immensely since it’s so thick. As someone who puts cards into binders I still don’t know what to do with these thick cards.

Part two however was for my sons.

They were excited to see the pack and couldn’t wait for me to open it. I dutifully explained to them that it was a wax pack made of paper that had been stuck together and opened it slowly so they could see how it all worked.

The first thing we had to do was carefully unstick the gum from one of the cards. No damage. They were intrigued by the gum but did not try. I did. It turns to dust and never becomes chewable. I had to rinse my mouth out.

The cards though are pretty cool. Both boys love the Christopher Reeve Superman films and while they prefer the first one, they appreciate that I prefer the second. Of the twelve in the pack I like the one of the villains escaping the Phantom Zone and the one of Clark Kent getting his revenge on the asshole in the diner.

In a bit of a minor miracle the boys managed to split these into two piles of six without fighting. More predictably they promptly badgered me for binder pages so they could properly sort them.

It’s funny. Once I started collecting baseball cards I never considered any other sports—let alone non-sport cards like these. I never saw the point. I get it more now although I daresay that it only works when the movie cards are of something from pop culture which has achieved staying power. In the same way that it’s been fun to introduce my kids to Superman the Motion Picture, seeing and having these cards is another aspect of pop culture we can bond over.

Now I need to figure out what to do with the blank card the I’m supposed to “decorate” and sign and return. It’s a little small for my kids to draw on* but we’ll figure something out.

*My eldest did make a special 1:1 custom for Peter as a result of being on the receiving end of a large mailing of Giants cards.

Mailday from Night Owl

I kept pulling Corey Seager inserts out of Stadium Club. Since my interest in Stadium Club was the photography, I figured I should send the inserts off to someone who’d appreciate them. Greg at Night Owl Cards has one of the better baseball card blogs around (seriously, most of the time when I notice something neat he’s already blogged about it years ago) and he happens to be a Dodger fan. So I sent my Seager inserts off to him and he was more than happy to rid himself of Giants cards in return.

I’ll start with the handful of old/odd cards in the package. While I’m not explicitly looking for non-Topps Giants since the 1981–1994 Donruss/Fleer/Score/Upper Deck sets remind me so much of my youth, I’m not only always happy to receive them but I’ll probably end up trying to complete those team sets as well.

The 1992 Conlon card is a nice addition to the 1991 Conlon cards that I got from SABR as part of their Conlon Project. In addition to my contribution to that project I already know that I have other things to say about the Conlon cards.

The majority of the cards though are new ones including many from 2017. My kids will fight over the Topps Bunt. I’m not a huge fan of that set but at least it looks different from Flagship. Different design. Different photos. I’m glad I chose that instead of Opening Day as the set for my kids to play with. Because good lord, between Flagship, Opening Day, Chrome, and the team sets it looks like Topps has packaged the same design four different times and managed to convince people that it’s four different products to buy.

I’m relieved to have a couple samples of each of these (and my son has a team set) because there’s no way I’m buying packs from all these different sets. Four different sets plus all the different parallels for the same design and same photo? Hard pass.

All those all-look-same Topps Flagship family releases has me feeling somewhat more charitable toward all the faux-retro stuff. I can see the appeal even though Heritage and Archives are still weird in how they falls into an uncanny valley between homage and copy. But they are indeed a nice change of pace both photography-wise and design-wise.

I miss posed portraits on card fronts. And I miss the simple understated designs and typography. Now that Flagship has gone full-bleed it’s become infested with undisciplined TV-style digital graphics. Bunt’s simplicity is a breath of fresh air (shame about the photo processing) and Stadium Club’s design is all class all the way. Heritage meanwhile is a reminder of what worked in the past. I just wish Topps would try and learn from that instead of recycling it.

Also I wish Topps would typeset the 1960 design with fully-justified names like the 1960 design was meant to be typeset.

Allen & Ginter meanwhile is seriously growing on me. It’s still not a set I like but this year’s design in particular has a certain something to it. The photo treatment isn’t too over the top and the retro styling of the oval portrait works a lot better than their designs in previous years.

Speaking of previous years of Ginter, I also got a handful of minis. Mini format is indeed fun. Trying to look like tobacco cards is a mixed bag. A lot of the problem is that Topps’s approach to photo retouching approaches HDR contrast porn rather than the low-contrast non-process-ink tobacco look. That all of these show the shiny black synthetic spring training shirts doesn’t help the look at all. The best thing I can say about these is that each year Topps gets a little better at figuring out how to make these look good and it’s fun to see the progression.


And a few random Bowmans. I’m increasingly confused by what this set is and looking at checklists isn’t helping. This year so far it feels like Bowman is four distinct sets (Bowman, Bowman Prospects, Bowman Chrome Prospects, Bowman Chrome) being released in two different packages (Bowman and Bowman Chrome). I’m too confused to buy anything.

Also, multiple small sets of under 200 cards make me sad. Too small to feel like a set. Too large to feel like an oddball. Unless the product concept is super clear (*cough* 1987 Donruss OPening Day *cough*) it just feels like filler for chase cards and a checklist meant to satisfy some legal obligation as to what a set is. Anyway, since I’m not buying Bowman it’s nice to receive some copies for the binder.

Finally, Sportflics! Apparently I’m one of those weirdos who likes these. I thought they were great when I was little even though Beckett insisted otherwise.  My kids love them as well. Though that Estes card is one of the lamest Sportflics designs ever. Sportflics is at its best when the lenticular graphics depict action. All of these have only two frames so it’s a bit difficult but the Lance Johnson comes close. If it’s not going to depict action, providing multiple different card photos like in the Biggio card is acceptable. Having a static photo and swapping the background? That’s giving up on Sportflics’s core competency.

Thanks Greg! It’s good to know who to send my unwanted Dodgers cards to now.

Mailday from Shane

Despite the previous massive mailday, somehow Shane was able to surprise me with another massive batch of Giants cards. While obviously not as much fun as the previous mailing (that one took me months to sort through and figure out what everything was) there’s a lot of good stuff in here too.

A few 1980s–1990s cards from when I was collecting. The Topps UK Minis are especially fun. I’d not seen them before this year but have gradually acquired a number of them now through maildays. Pretty sure I’ve never seen that Fleer Exciting Stars card before either.

The rest of the Score, Upper Deck, and Leaf cards remind me of my collecting heyday. I might have them in a box at my parents’. I might not. (I’ve long lost my memory of all the cards I owned.) But these are the cards—and the players—I grew up with so it’s always a blast to see them again.

One of my growing collecting interests are cards which aren’t in English. O Pee Chee is pretty standard and for most of my youth was just a Canadian-branded version of Topps. It was cool enough that it was in white card stock instead of grey. And the bilingual French/English backs (also with Leaf in the 1980s before Donruss relaunched it as a premium brand in 1990) were pretty cool. O Pee Chee Premier followed the flagship/premium break that occurred in trading cards ~1990 and is the first time I saw non-Topps O Pee Chee cards.

I only recently discovered that Pacific’s MLB license was initially only for Spanish-language cards and that even after they started making English-language cards their Crown line was Spanish-only. Despite the Bay Area being a pretty significant Spanish-speaking market, I never saw these when they came out in 1993/1994. I’ve been semi-seeking them out now (I have a handful of giants from 1993/94) so having a 1997 Bonds is very cool.

On to late-1990s cards that represent a grab bag of different things that card companies were doing as they tried to figure out the post-strike landscape. We’ve got reprints. We’ve got retro-inspried designs. We’ve got budget versions of premium brands as a response to the regular brands creating premium releases. I continue to look at checklists from this era and be confused.

And Shane sent me a ton of Topps flagship starting with 2000. This is great since I don’t have any coverage from these years and while getting sets is out of the question, having Giants is a good way to stay on top of things. 2000 is notable for being the first year at Pac Bell Park so these cards represent some of the last images of Candlestick as a baseball venue.

Also. Yes. That’s a Robb Nen autograph. I need to ask Shane about the backstory here but that’s definitely the highlight of the mailday. I never took to Nen the way I took to Rod Beck but after what he did, and gave, to the team in 2002 I think all Giants fans respect him.

2001 Topps means many of these are the first photos from Pac Bell. The Robb Nen card here is the most-distinct of the ones I received in that it shows triples alley. Also, While I’ve tended to side-eye a lot of Topps’s 1990s–2000s designs, this one is growing on me. As individualy cards the green/grey border feels wreid. But seeing them all together like this and that color provides a nice page background for the photos.

I’m not a fan of the 2002 design though. If the dark green has a certain class to it, this orange/brown is an eyesore. All the swirly ribbons don’t help either. This is a shame since I should probably get this team set as it represents the team which came as close as I ever expected to get to a World Series title.

Yes that game 6 loss still hurts a little even though we’ve won three times this decade and winning a steroid-tained title would’ve sat uncomfortably.

2003 and 2005 Topps. the highlight here is the Matt Cain Prospects card. I’ve kind of forgotten these years in a blur of horrible news coverage where what Barry Bonds did outweighed what the team did. It was increasingly hard to be a fan and the Bonds circus caused me to start drifting away.

These sets are similarly forgettable. Topps is obviously going through a phase of knowing that foil stamping and high gloss are the hallmarks of premium cards but they haven‘t figured out how to consistently combine them into designs which work well.

I can’t imagine how unbearable the Bonds Hype must’ve been for everyone else during those years. That Topps released a set where each card represents one of Barry’s home runs continues to amaze me in its hilarious awfulness. I’m definitely not seeking to complete this set but I’m glad that I’ve moved past my frustration with those years to see the humor in it.

And that 2006 Topps set is also pretty dire. If the knock on a lot of the sets from 1976–1985 is that they’re boring white-bordered sets, at least they’re simple designs which have aged relatively well. These mid-200s Topps designs though? Yeesh. Too many things going on on each card.

2007 is better. I don’t like the design but it’s got a better handle on what it’s doing. I’m baffled as to why the team card has the red and blue squares switched (the backs are all oriented the same way). And yes those two Zitos have different colored backs. This whole parallel/short print thing where Topps changes the color of something minor and treats it as something special really bothers me. If you’re going to do this kind of artificial scarcity crap at least do it with photo variations.

I really like the 2008 design. Kind of surprised about it but it reaches back into the past and does something which is reminiscent of 1964, 1972, and 1986 yet in a way which isn’t at all copying them. The only thing I don’t like is the little tab where the Topps logo is. Even the printed autographs are a nice change of pace (although as an autograph collector I generally don’t like them).

Sadly the 2009 design is a step backwards again. And that’s a 2010 Ginter mini which is fun but also represents a line of cards which isn’t my thing.

And to more-recent cards. The Minor League Heritage cards intrigue me. I don’t really like the Heritage thing but for some reason it bothers me less with minor league teams. I do enjoy having representative samples of the various Archive and Heritage releases though.

The Christian Arroyo 1968 Topps Game design is especially interesting in how different it is—larger size and thicker card stock—from the actual 1968 cards. I am also amused at the specificity of “Lead Runner and Batter Out” for the double play (yes I know this is accurate to the original).

Shane also included some more-random stuff. Fleer stickers are fun. I think this is from 1987 based on the team logo on the other side. The small one must be from a minis set. I’ve never seen anything like it before. And the 49ers cards are fun too. I’ve long since given up on the NFL but cards which remind me of the 1980s when I was a fan—I was a 49er fan before I was a Giants fan actually—will always be enjoyable.

The coin is a 1969 Citgo coin of Willie McCovey. The back has a gob of glue stuck to it but it’s a neat little object all the same. I don’t think we had Citgos on the West Coast (it’s certainly a brand I’m not familiar with) so these coins also represent a cool regional oddball as well.

Thanks Shane! I hope my package gets out of USPS purgatory* sometime this year. It’s not nearly as cool as this, or the previous mailday, but it is indeed enjoyable to send people things that’ll make them happier than they made me.

*Note. Never, ever, make a mistake on the zip code.

Mailday from Al

Where many of my maildays have involved trading with people who I’ve gotten to know through baseball card twitter, sometimes someone will just post a call out about looking to clear out some space and get rid of some cards.* In this case, Al (@lamachine21) was** in the midst of a move, found a bunch of fun stuff that he preferred to clear out, and asked for people to send him their favorite team. So I did—expecting to some day receive a bunch of junk wax nostalgia that would make me smile and which I’d love to share with my kids.

*Peter was one such case and I’m very happy to have been able to keep corresponding with him on twitter and through maildays.

**Actually still is. 

Al certainly didn’t disappoint here. 1986–1994 covers my collecting years perfectly. The 1986 cards represent both the of my collecting consciousness and that Will Clark is one of the first cards I really coveted. Yes I eventually got it. But that doesn’t make me any less happy to see it show up unexpectedly in a stack of cards.

The 1990 cards are all wonderful since they represent so much of the pennant-winning 1989 team which will always have a special place in my heart. The way the Kevin Mitchell is—totally deservedly—the face of the team this year for a change. That Trevor Wilson card with the photo from the celebration. The Dravecky card and all the baggage it carries with respect to both the comeback from cancer game, the subsequent arm-breaking game, and the knowledge that he’d eventually have to get the amputation.

And after getting a couple of the 1954 reprints from Bru it was great fun to get some 1953 reprints (and cards that never were). I loved these as a kid. I, sadly, have no 1953 cards to compare to today so these are still a reminder of how much getting pre-1960 cards is something I should never take for granted.

The new (to me at least) stuff is also great. As a skeptic of these neue-retro cards I’m glad that people keep sending me samples so I don’t have to buy them. In this case, the Fleer and Bowman retro designs are fun to see even while they don’t quite do it for me. I find it interesting how much the Fleer is aping 1956 Topps. I wish they’d taken the Topps Big approach and made a design which translated the look to present (or in this case ~2000) rather than continuing to try to be retro.

Victory kind of weirds me out since it’s copyrighted to UpperDeck but has none of the branding. I was out of the hobby when this came out but from what I can tell there was a trend around 2000 when, after upscaling their products card companies tried to release a less-complicated lower-end product. That none of these sets seem to have lasted for more than a handful of years says more to me about the strength of the flagship lines of cards—what I tend to call the “cards of record”—and how those are the threads that allow collectors to indulge the way baseball cards connect us to baseball’s past.

Gaylord Perry 2004 Donruss

The first 24 items were enjoyable enough. This Gaylord Perry autograph though? Totally cool. Totally unexpected. I admit to not being a big fan of relics or chase cards. But if it’s a player whose number is retired by my team?* Hard to resist.

*Note, the Giants only retire your number if you’re in the Hall of Fame. 

Given the construction of this card I’m certain this is a sticker autograph. But I appreciate that the diecut on the top layer hides the sticker business. The entire card feels like a cohesive product rather than something that’s just a clear sticker slapped on top of a regular trading card. And yes, I completely understand how the sticker thing allows for all kinds of flexibility from the card companies, it just doesn’t feel right to me.

The downside of the diecut stuff is that this card is too thick to go into a standard 9-pocket sleeve. As with the relic card I’ve just got it in a top loader for now while I figure out what to do with it. I should probably ask around and see what other people do with these.

1983 Donruss Action All Stars 1983 Donruss Action All Stars

Al also threw in an unopened pack of 1983 Donruss Action All Stars because Greg Minton is visible through the wrapper. I have some of these at my parents’ house. This is a set I always liked because large cards are cool (these are 3½”×5″) even though a lot of the real estate on the card front is wasted on the TEAMTEAMTEAM greyspace.

I’ll hold off on opening this pack until I get 4-pocket pages. I don’t need a huge pack of them so I’ll have to visit a card shop to get smaller quantities. Until then keeping these in the pack will keep them under control. I’ll get to admire the Minton and the back of the George Brett until then.

So Thanks Al. I’ve got someone new to follow on twitter and figure out what kind of thank you is appropriate to send. But that’ll have to wait for a while since he’s in the midst of a move. Moves suck even if everything goes according to plan so even more power to him for being so generous in mailing out so many care packages.

Mailday from Bru

Another semi-surprise mailday, this time from Bru, an Astros fan and photographer who I’ve enjoyed discussing the photo-side of baseball cards with. I knew a mailday was in the works and have been pulling oddball Astros, or Astro-related cards from my collection to send in return. But then Hurricane Harvey dumped a shitload of rain on Houston and I was just hoping that he and Bob would pull through okay.

Anyway, as a result I was very surprised to find a bubble mailer in my mailbox this week. And it was a treat indeed to open it up.

A few fun cards from the 1980s. Krukow and Uribe in particular were—and still are—fan favorites.

And a handful of cards from the early 1990s when I was still collecting cards. I may or may not have these and will have to double check my holdings back in California. I’m reasonably sure I don’t have the Stadium Club as that stuff was spendy and I only got a couple of packs in general. And the two Bonds cards also don’t look familiar at all.

Another handful of 1990s cards which are from after I stopped collecting. Good. God. I’ve yet to run into any collectors who liked 1995 Fleer. Now I see why. This was my first in-person 1995 Fleer experience and yeah, I have no urge to acquire any more of these. I’m glad to have these as a reminder of how bad things got when I was out of the hobby though.

I’ve also handled a few 1990s Topps Finest now (there were a few in Shane Katz’s box too) and I have to admit that I don’t understand this set at all. It’s like once card companies realized that nice full-bleed photography should be the status quo they had no idea what should count as high end anymore.

And a bunch of more-recent cards. I not the biggest fan of Gipsy Queen or Allen & Ginter but it’s nice to have a sampling of them. I’m grateful that that sampling is turning out to be Giants. I also enjoy that I’ve been gradually filling up Giants from the first half of the 2010s with all these maildays since those World Series winning teams obviously hold a special place in my heart.

Now to the really fun stuff. For some reason I stopped collecting Sportflics before 1994. I really shouldn’t have. These remain fun in a wonderfully distinct way and my kids really like them even though they only have two frames of action now. Something about the tactile nature of having to interact with these in order to get them to move is much more exciting than just watching a video on the iPad. They were impressed and maybe I’ll have to get them some Sportflics or their own to rip.

I also appreciate these 1954 reprints a lot more now that I have the real 1954 cards to compare them to (the 1954 Don Liddle was not part of the mailday). It’s nice to see them in the high-gloss printing. I should look into getting more of these now—especially the gold variants with the gold signatures. The only weird thing for me is that the backs are no longer full-bleed.

And the best card in the mailday is this 1980 KNBR San Francisco Police Department card which Bru reports was sitting in a bucket in a junk shop while his card was getting its post-Harvey cleaning. I’ve never seen these and have felt a bit jealous of Tony and all his Brewers Police cards. While I had Mother’s Cookies to enjoy instead there’s something about police cards and their bizarre insistence on being non-standard overlarge sizes with most of that extra card space being empty paper.

In this case I especially like the inanity of the tip on the back. I think my 8-year-old son would roll his eyes hard at this. I appreciate them trying to educate about safety tips but I can’t imagine this approach ever working. At least the card itself grew up to be supercool. I need to put a stack of Astros together to send back to Houston now.

Blast from the past

A-blast-from-the-past mailday from Peter at Baseball Every Night. In his box break mailing earlier this year he’d hinted that he had a bunch of old Giants cards he was going to send for my kids. So while not unexpected, I didn’t know when to expect the second mailing—or how large of a mailing to expect. These arrived when I was out chasing the eclipse and I’ve only just received the package.

It’s a very generous assortment of cards, many of which are from the sets I used to collect when I was little. I enjoy that so many of these are well-loved. Not abused, just beat up from constant handling. I have a few cards like this in my collection too. Maybe it was a playground acquisition which had to be keep in a pocket or someplace else.* Maybe it was part of a favorite stack to show anyone who’d listen.** Maybe it’s a legacy of the beginning of a collection before binders and pages and learning the “correct” way to store things.***

*I vividly remember keeping cards in my pulled-up socks and unpeeling them from my shin when I got home.

**A phase my eldest son is currently going though.

***As a parent, the best thing about binders and pages is that they encourage the kids to clean up and put their collections away instead than leaving stacks of cards lying around.

Looking at them now brings a smile to my face the same way that looking through @captnarrr’s cards did—especially since they’re all Giants. It’s fun to see these old names and a lot of these cards are cards I either got autographed or tried to get autographed. I know the boys will enjoy incorporating them into their collection since they’re still very much into copying whatever I did. And while I definitely want to encourage them to branch into their own interests it’s nice to have some common ground as well.

I also can’t help but notice how many of those cards feature the Turn Back the Clock uniforms. I loved seeing those on cards when I was a kid. I’m making a note to myself to assemble a checklist of Giants cards featuring those uniforms.

I got out of collecting in 1994. I have a bunch of cards from that year but they never made it into binders and I had even forgotten most of the designs until I pulled my collection out of storage this summer. So I’m nowhere near as familiar with these cards. I do like how so many focus on photography and keep the designs simple. And I really like the Salomon Torres card even though he’s not the best of Giants fan memories.

Peter also included ten new cards. The McCovey Stadium Club is fantastic. But then that whole set is great even though I can’t help but laugh at also getting a Marvin Denard Span card. My sons will greatly appreciate the Topps Bunt cards. Bunt isn’t a set for me but I got a blaster for them to share and they’ve enjoyed ripping packs and seeing who they got. They can never have enough Giants.

The two Topps Archives cards are also fun. I’m not a fan of the way Topps reuses old designs—it falls into an uncanny valley of looking like both a lousy copy and a lazy homage—but I have a soft spot for the 1991 design.* This is also my first Hoyt Wilhelm card ever. I’ve been remiss in getting any of his cards in my Giants team set quest.

*I’m willing to make the argument that 1991 is the best set Topps has made from a design and photography point of view. And yes I checked the backs of these to see if Topps Archives pulled a UV glow backs shout out.

I need to specifically mention the two gold Matt Duffy parallels in that group of ten. I was very surprised to see that they are sequentially numbered. Peter insists that he was even more surprised when he pulled them out of random packs. My gut is skeptical but my brain can’t come up with any other scenarios for this either.

Anyway, I need to brainstorm on how to thank Peter for this. Last time I was able to send some neat Darryl Strawberry and John Kruk cards. This time? I’ll need to be more creative.

Great Googly Moogly

Trading over the internet has been a ton of fun so far. Instead of being concerned about “value” or card-for-card sort of trades, we’ve all been able to fill holes in each other’s collections and be surprised by what we receive in return. Still, the exchanges have so far been limited to bubble mailers and exchanges of maybe a dozen cards or so. Which means that when I received Shane Katz’s package I was a bit blown away.

A surprise bubble mailer is fun. A surprise box? Above and beyond any of my expectations especially as an exchange for a bunch of regional food issued cards.

Anyway, digging in. The coolest part was knocking off ten spots on my Giants wantlist. This would have been plenty generous an exchange as it is. Getting a few additional items—specifically the McCormick Game card and the Halicki mini—which I wasn’t actively seeking is a cool bonus.

That the 1968 Lindy McDaniel is a high number and the 1969 Bobby Bolin is a white name variant deserves special mention here.

The rest of the box is all Giants cards. At first glance I thought these were all dupes. Turns out it’s a set where there’s one card for each home run Barry hit. I can’t imagine how insufferable this must’ve been to non-Giants fans. Bondsmania was annoying enough in the Bay Area as it was and we actually liked him. When I see things like this I’m reminded of the way Topps has been behaving about Aaron Judge right now. Very glad we didn’t have Topps Now during the Bonds year.

Also, Shane packaged these with the 666 on top. As well he should’ve.

Oh-Pee-Chee! Always fun. I was very surprised to learn that Upper Deck purchased the brand. In some ways this is the most disturbing change to me in the entire hobby. Oh-Pee-Chee has always been Canadian Topps. Not anymore though.

It’s been pointed out on Twitter to me that because Upper Deck purchased Oh Pee Chee, Upper Deck felt like they could print cards using old Topps designs. Topps obviously felt otherwise but this would certainly explain the 1963 Topps designed Upper Deck which I found in a repack.

Topps Magazine and Wacky Packages. not much to say about these except that they’re fun. The Topps Magazine cards in particular presaged a lot of the archives/heritage product in how they use the old designs with current players. Aside from the card stock issues by being magazine inserts, I found their interpretations of the old designs to be better homages than the current product in stores.

First true WTF is this moment of the box goes to Toppstown. I gather that these are redemptions for digital cards—a product which is now covered by Topps Bunt. I’m just going to show my age and admit that I still don’t understand digital cards.

Minis! Specificaly, Fleer minis. The Topps minis I have. Not these ones but I have some of the set. Fleer? I’d not even heard of. I even had some 1975 minis when I was a kid—no idea where I got them—but I never saw the Fleer. So that’s a fun discovery.


1985 Fleer is a set which I have a pack of plus some random commons. So I don’t have many, if any, Giants. I do now. This is cool.

The other oddballs are a lot of fun too. I’ve started collecting these—especially Giants samples— and they’re a wonderful combination of regional issues and samples of what players and highlights from the year are considered nationally noteworthy. The regional stuff is always fun to discover. The national stuff meanwhile is fun for a team collector because it signifies that someone on your team did something noteworthy.

Woolworths meanwhile, while it existed on the West Coast, seems to have disappeared by the time I was collecting cards. Not a store I was ever familiar with. And these cards are not something I ever saw until I started collecting again this year.

And there was a decent amount of junk wax which I know I collected. I suspect that I have half of these. But I’m not sure which half and the ones which I “need” are especially welcome since they fill in holes in the Giants teams I cared about the most.


Allen&Ginter, Gypsy Queen, and more Minis. I’m glad to have some representative samples of these sets since none of them interest me. Gypsy Queen’s managed to find a way to make HDR look even worse and the faux-retro plus over-processed digital photograph combination gives me hives.

Ginter on the other hand is much more interesting. I still don’t know quite know what I think about it. I know I don’t like it as a baseball card set. It’s also super expensive for what’s basically a gimmick. But I do like the tobacco card size and I’ve found myself enjoying the non-sports cards on the checklist.

Actually looking closely at them though is disappointing. The printing is screened process inks rather than a solid spot color and as a result looks like someone’s tried to counterfeit a vintage card.

Cards from that time period were printed as multiple-color lithographs. So not halftones or screens—especially on the text. For the price that the Ginter brand costs cost I’m disappointed to see that, not only weren’t they printed with solid inks, that no one bothered to confirm that the tiny type wouldn’t be destroyed by the halftone screen.

I was also amused by the all-text stats on Ginter’s backs. I know this is a vintage touch but it also feels a bit twee. That the T-206 style card includes a real cigarette ad on the back also surprised me. I didn’t expect this even though both Allen&Ginter and Gypsy Queen are also tobacco/cigarette brands. That none of those brands are in production and are instead associated with baseball cards is presumably why Topps can use the names.

Still, I learned that Topps changed the advertisement from “The Cigarette of Quality” to “The Brand of Quality” so it appears that you can’t actually say cigarette still on what’s ostensibly a kid’s product.

Lots of Topps Fan Favorites. This is indeed a fun set. As a Giants fan all of these strike me in the exact right way. Yes it’s weird to see these glossy but the better quality printing and trimming is very nice. It’s especially nice to see them using the correct vintage Giants logo.

I am curious why Monte Irvin’s signature is missing—it’s there on his actual 1953 Topps card. And with Bobby Thomson being in the 1952 high numbers this is likely to be as close as I’ll ever come to that card. Ditto with the Willie Mays cards too but that’s a much more obvious situation.

And finally a ton of stuff which is still very new to me. It’s going to take me a while to figure out what these all are. I recognize Topps Heritage and some of the Topps flagship cards. But the rest? Way over my head. I’ve got two decades of card collecting to figure out and sets to investigate. Though I do know that it’s Bowman Chrome which throws my autofocus all out of whack.

So yes. Giant box of cool stuff from Shane. If I ever come into an unexpected cache of 1956 Topps cards I’ll have to return the favor. Until then I’m just overwhelmed and grateful.

My First Box Break; My First Relic

Continuing from yesterday. I was expecting a package from Peter at Baseball Every Night. I’d sorta-hesitantly joined his box break—I’m new in baseball card twitter and don’t want to be that guy who just takes without having contributed anything. But he convinced me to join and I’m glad I did.

Getting a batch of over a dozen Giants cards in the mail is always fun. And I’m still a bit in awe of the print quality of modern cards. Yes I agree with the complaints about the TV-style graphics and the over-cropped ACTIONACTIONACTION photographs. But at a pure technical level these even blow the original Stadium Clubs out of the water.

It’s nice to get a bunch of long-time franchise favorites. Cain’s been scuffling for a while but when I see his cards I’m still reminded of the first half of this decade. Pence is basically the team mascot now. And I don’t need to say anything about Posey. When I grew up I loved Will Clark. Posey has been the same kind of a guy since his rookie year.

A few other key names, some of whom I’m only just getting used to. It’s been a weird season so far and I’ve had a hard time keeping track of how far off the rails we’ve gotten. I can’t catch a lot of the late games on the East Coast so it’s nice to get photos to match the names.

Also, the Nunez card is a great example of both how the horizontal format works well and how it fails in this particular design template. Sometimes the action just has to be displayed horizontally and a sliding picture is one such play. At the same time, the weird fade-out Topps is doing at the bottom of the cards gets super distracting and noticeable here. Rather than being a fade it looks like the entire photo’s been deleted—only badly.

And some people who I’ve just not heard of. This is both exciting and also a reflection of how this year has been going. We’re doing so badly that it seems like we should just be churning through the complete 40-man roster looking for players who might stick.

Anyway, very nice variety in the break and the kind of team set which, as a team set collector, leaves me feeling super satisfied. It’s important to have some stars but it’s also great to have a good cross-section of the entire team. This break does that perfectly.

Peter also threw in a couple Series 1s thrown in as a bonus. I didn’t get any Giants in my first packs so it was nice to get them this way instead. Thanks Peter, this was a lot of fun and I need to put together a thank you package to send your way in return.

My First Relic


The good news is that I “won” the break. That’s also the bad news. I’m kind of sheepish about this since I’m not big on chase cards and feel like the prize is wasted on me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to have gotten a relic card. It’s just that my reasons aren’t what Topps is going for.

When I was drifting out of the hobby in the early 90s, relic cards were only beginning to appear. I was intrigued by them then but the idea of chase cards also directly contributed to my disillusionment.* At this point I can’t see myself ever actively acquiring one so getting one from a lucky pack or box break is the only way I’d ever own one.**

*I just found all my 1994 cards. I never bothered to put them in albums at all and, once the strike occurred, they just ended up in a shoebox.

**This is true with most chase cards. The only ones I can see myself acquiring are the printing plate ones which I’m interested in from a purely craft point of view.

It’s certainly an interesting object. I knew they were thicker than the average card but I never realized exactly how thick.* But aside from the cleverness in how it’s made there’s little in this that I find appealing. The patch is a small square of cream CoolBase and there’s literally nothing else of interest on the card. The photo is nice enough—especially if you’re into the cut-out player look—and I enjoy the spot UV coating. But that’s about it. There’s not even anything interesting on the back.

*What the hell do you do with these, just keep them in the toploader and find a box to store the toploader in?

And without the card itself having any interesting information, I’m left holding a small square of fabric and thinking whether I’d be excited about such a thing if it didn’t have the cardboard frame around it.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be.

I understand the point of these relics but they’re not for me. At a certain point the small square of cut fabric becomes too abstracted from any emotional meaning. It’s explicitly not from any specific game. And there’s no context to suggest that it’s even from an actual jersey—for all I can tell it’s from a bolt of fabric.* I have to take Topps’s word for it.

*The relic cards which include cuts of patches or numbering are better in this regard.

Holding this card in my hand left me feeling underwhelmed and disappointed about what the hobby has turned into. That pack searching for this kind of card is a thing makes me sad. That hobby packs cost more per-card than retail packs because of this kind of thing makes me sad.

Still, I’m happy to have gotten a relic card because I had no idea how I would react to actually owning one. I did enjoy looking it over and really examining it and thinking about how it’s constructed as a product. I also enjoyed thinking through my reactions to it and trying to figure out why . I even plan to keep it so I can remember why it’s not for me. It’s a rare thing for card to evoke that many different thoughts and emotions.