Manager In Action

Last week I found a plain white envelope from Mark Hoyle in my mailbox. Mark’s been quietly sending out small, exceptionally cool maildays to people as he comes across all kinds of wonderful things in his search for super-interesting Red Sox collectables—making his envelopes always a surprise and treat to open.

Inside this one was this wonderful 1960 MacGregor card/photo. It’s just over 3.5″×5″ and is printed on card stock with a nice glossy finish. No back information or numbering makes it sit right there where it can either be a card or a card-adjacent item like Jay Publishing. I’m going to go ahead and call it a card though.

The card depicts manager Bill Rigney in his last Spring Training with the team.* It’s a nice crisp photo and the script name (it is not a facsimile autograph) is a wonderful throwback look that reminds me of many of the 1930s and 1940s mass-market cards or photos.

*After becoming the first San Francisco manager he would become the first Los Angeles Angels manager in 1961.

The best part though is that glove. Managers, if they’re given any action at all, are typically shown shorting or pointing. Coaches might hit fungoes or throw batting practice but managers don’t get involved. Here though Rigney looks like he’s about to play some long toss with a player.

So not only is this not a card I’ve ever seen before the photo is a side of baseball I’ve never seen on a card either. Very cool. Thanks Mark!

New Year, New TTMs

Happy New Year! I haven’t sent out anything new but returns are still trickling in.

The first one came from Frank Duffy in 10 days. This is another repeat send and is the fourth Stanford custom I’ve gotten back. I’ve only made nine of these so far so I’m liking the return rate for this mini set.

The only (small) problem I have with this design is that it’s clear that there’s no obvious place to sign. I don’t like big SIGN HERE designs but with a single photo the variance in signing location doesn’t jump out at me. With two pictures to choose from, the players have to pick which one to sign on. Or, in the case of Duffy, sign on the fence between them.

This is why I love sending customs. For every mistake like the Kaline there’s a couple fun notes like this that make me happy that I’m not just mailing requests but offering something to the players too. I especially love that this is on St. Joseph’s Indian School notepaper since it feels appropriate for the content of the note.

This note does remind me that I briefly considered making these 1978ish customs be Indians or Cardinal cards instead of the Major League team but I decided I wanted the variety of colors that pro teams would bring.

Don Carrithers came back in 24 days. He showed a bit of promise in his rookie season and I’m happy to have gotten his rookie card signed. Carrithers couldn’t quite put it together for the Giants but he did have a couple good years in Montreal.

I never really bought into the rookie card mystique when I was a kid except when it came to getting cards signed. And there I liked it. With young players like at Stanford Alumni games it was fun to see guys excited to see their first big league cards. With older players? It was just fun to get as old a card as possible for them and the rookie is the logical extreme of that.

Now this is a fun one. Dave Dravecky came back in 27 days. I was just happy to be able to write to him and thank him both for being part of the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever seen and an inspiration in general. I don’t expect to ever be at a sporting event with fans as keyed in to every moment the way his cancer comeback game was. The ticket stub from that game is the one item of memorabilia from my youth which I most regret losing.

The Mother’s Cookies card is from 1989 and the Score card captures his challenges and triumphs over that 1989 season. Both of those are fully appropriate for my album and my memory.

Getting the Dravecky autographs also has me thinking about starting a Willie Mac Award project. There are currently 39 winners and I have autographs from 13 of them.

Hollywood Exhibits

So it appears that my “look what I’ve bought” posts are going to be most of my non-baseball, preferably non-sport, pre-war and vintage acquisitions. I’ve previously mentioned a set of 1930s Hollywood tobacco cards, this time I found a nice batch of of close to thirty 1940s Exhibit cards and couldn’t resist pulling the trigger.

Exhibit/arcade cards have become one of my favorite things. Nice big collectible photos and they’re usually in decent shape with the main wear and tear coming from being displayed. I try to limit my baseball acquisitions to just Giants but one of the wonderful things about Exhibits is that they cover all kinds of subjects and directly connect to the world of Cartes de Visite and Cabinet Cards with how the cards aren’t part of any formal set and are really just meant to circulate and be collected among fans.

Exhibits aren’t ordered or sold by the subject, but they also feel like a distinct product from early baseball cards. This is partly because they’re sold as photos from vending machines rather than being packaged with something else. The product is 100% about photography and how it circulates.

I’m not going to scan and post all the cards but this is a flavor of what I got and why I pulled the trigger. We’re getting into Golden Age stars and some of the cards in the batch as as big a name as you could hope to have—to the point where I don’t have to identify any of these four actors.

Also in the batch are stars like Bing Crosby, Mickey Rooney, and Jimmy Stewart as well as a number of other recognizable names like Dana Andrews, Alan Ladd, and Roddy McDowell. The only complaint I have about the batch is that aside from Judy Garland, the only other woman who’s even a semi-recognizable name was Mary Martin.

Still, lots of fun to have and look through and it makes my non-sport binder that much better.

I also got to go on a Wikipedia dive for all the names I didn’t recognize. While that could be a post in and of its own, I’ve decided to go a different route since a bunch of the cards turned out to be baseball related. Yup. I’ve got myself a toehold into a baseball card post as well.

We’ll start with these two Hall of Famers. My kids know Jimmy Stewart and Judy Garland but I think they may have gotten introduced to Abbott and Costello first. When my eldest was in first grade he came home from school one day and asked me if I knew what a question word was.

“Dada what’s a question word?”

“What.”

“Dada what’s a question word!”

“Why.”

“We learned about them in school! Dad What’s a Question Word!”

“When.”

By this point he was about to start punching something and my wife couldn’t hold her laughter back. So he got introduced to the routine and he and his younger brother tried their best to memorize it and repeat it in the back seat of the car for the following two years.

Another baseball-related card is this one of Laraine Day. The boys enjoy sports movies, particularly sports biopics, right now and 42 is one of their favorites. The first time we watched it I had no idea about Leo Durocher and Laraine Day. But we’ve watched it a couple times since and the most-recent viewing came after I got this batch of Exhibits.

During that viewing I realized I had received a Day card in there. While she’s not a big name, I was particularly pleased to confirm that I had her card. It’s nice when my interests overlap in unexpected ways.

Back on the TTM horse

It’s been busy whatwith the move and everything. I haven’t had a chance to write any letters since Spring but I finally got back on the horse and sent a few out before Thanksgiving. This is the first batch which includes some of the latest round of customs I designed and printed. It’s especially fun—in some cases even more fun than expected—to get those back.

Roy Face came back in 8 days. It’s always nice to see the generosity of some of these players. Face is not a Giant but I pretty much had to make a custom with this photo. This template is my adjustment to the 1956 Topps design so it can also work with vertical images. I like it a lot and really enjoy just making a card here or there as I come across a cool photo.

Face though is an interesting player in his own right since he’s sort of the first reliever who we can point to as starting us on the path toward the way modern baseball uses bullpens. It’s kind of wild for me to read the back of his 1968 card and see it gush about his saves and consecutive games played as being new and notable accomplishments. And yes they are but in 1968 no one knew what would happen with the game 50 years later.

Another custom so I have no one to blame but myself. How embarrassing. Oh well. Kaline still has a wonderful signature and something like this makes it pretty clear that he’s signing things. Also I can’t kick myself too hard since I double checked Getty’s records before making my card.

Heck this kicked of a decent discussion on Twitter (as well as a lot of people laughing at/with me) and a bunch of Tigers fans confirmed that they’d always thought this was Kaline too. Suggestions for who it might be instead? Don Demeter appears to be the Twitter hive-mind consensus. Right-handed. Similar build. Correct playing years.

Anyway it’s always nice to add a Hall of Famer and the fact that this came back in 10 days was very nice. Even with the wrong image it’s a fun piece to have. I only ever saw cards and photos of the older Kaline when I was a kid so I very much like having one of him in his youth. Maybe I’ll re-make this with a correct photo and try again.

Another 10-day return, this time from John Cumberland. He had a fantastic 1971 season with the Giants so I’m very happy to have his 1972 card signed. As a Giants fan I’ve most enjoyed learning about one-season wonders like Cumberland. I remember how important those were to my enjoyment as a fan and it’s players like this who symbolize a particular place and time in the team’s history.

And yet another 10-day return. John D’Acquisto won the Sporting News National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year award in 1974. I did not ask for the inscription but I like that it’s there. D’Acquisto was a fireballer but could never quite put it all together to become dominant. He was formidable enough though that I became aware of him while I was a Giants fan over a dozen years later.

I sort of wonder what would’ve happened if someone with his skill set had come up now and only had to throw for an inning at a time. That he stayed around in the Majors for a dozen years suggests he had the stuff.

Outfielder Frank Johnson came back in 11 days. I always wonder what stories  guys like Johnson could tell. He was stuck trying to break into a pretty crowded outfield but still got to play with Willie Mays. He’s a got a great signature which looks fantastic on that 1969 card too.

Kong! This is a fun one. Dave Kingman also came back in 11 days. I don’t particularly picture him as a Giant despite the team-specific rookie records and achievements he racked up. But I did grow up hearing about his prowess as a power hitter and his penchant for hitting balls into suspended elements of domed stadiums. It’s one thing to be known as a slugger. It’s quite another to be the guy who got a ball stuck in the Metrodome roof.

Dave Rader came back in 13 days. Rader started off his career with the Giants in impressive fashion as both the runner up to the Rookie of the Year and the winner of the Sporting News Rookie of the Year. This 1973 card reflects that rookie season and features one of those photos that could only come from this set.

Steve Dunning also came back in 13 days. Most of his cards have astonishingly awful photographs. Thankfully his 1972 is a nice classic pitchers’ pose at Yankee stadium. It’s the only good photo of Dunning I found s0 I had to scan this card for my custom.

I modified the 1978 manager template to reflect Amateur/Professional status and have been digging through Stanford Daily and Stanford Quad archives to pull photos of guys when they played at Stanford. I’ve been enjoying sending these out and this is the first one that returned.

Frank Linzy came back in 20 days. This was a fun request to send out at the same time as Roy Face since both are part of the first generation of dedicated relief aces. As with John D’Acquisto I can’t help wondering how these sort of players both feel about today’s game and how their careers would’ve been different if they’d played during an age of bullpen reliance.

Lots of players can kind of be compared across time but the bullpen guys are different since bullpen usage has changed so much. I’m not one of those guys who professes to say that one era was better than another. Yes I miss longer starts but I also don’t miss seeing managers leave pitchers in too long. hat does excite me is that bullpen usage is one of those things where it’s clear that managers and teams haven’t settled on a by-the-book strategy and are still trying different approaches.

Bruce Robinson is the first repeat send for me. He had an awesome return the first time and I’ve owed him a response letter ever since. Between my moving and trying to put together customs it took me a long time to write back. But I finally did and sent him a bunch of customs.

He was apparently away for a bit and took 20 days to get back to me. Another nice letter and it’s especially gratifying to be thanked for the customs. It’s cool when guys keep some but getting a thank you letter back is even better.

As much as sending out these requests and doing the research to write nice letters is fun, putting together customs and pulling the stats and everything is even more enjoyable. I love adding them to the binder (yes even that Kaline).

Jim Lonborg is another repeat request. I sent him versions of both my 1956ish design and 1978ish design. He kept one of each and sent the rest back in 6 days. I really like how both of these came out and it’s fantastic to start off with so many of these customs getting signed out the gate.

Time for a break until next year. I know I’ve got at least one return waiting for me at my parents’ house still and there are a decent number just out there in general. But it’s too close to holiday season to send anything.

I’ve got more customs to try though but until then I’m just going to put all the signed one at the bottom of this post since I’m so happy about how they turned out.

A dash of color

I’ve been loving acquiring cards of the New York Giants. As a child, I never thought I’d ever own any of these so I’m trying to hold on to that thrill every time a card I never thought I’d own enters my collection.

Yet as positive an experience as this has been, I can’t help but complain a little. For example, 1954 Topps is a wonderfully colored set with large painted headshots of the player placed in front of a brightly colored background with a facsimile autograph and small black and white action photo layered over everything. It’s a design I really like—even with the weird single bleed that results in the backs being different orientations.* Unfortunately the Giants cards are all yellow and white.

*Seriously check the print sheet.

Yellow and white are still nice enough but they do not capture the full glory of the set. As a result I’ve been a bit tongue-in-cheek vocal about how I wish my binder had a couple more colors represented. Lanny (who else) heard my comments and last week dropped a plain white envelope into my mailbox consisting of a few wonderfully colorful 1954 Topps cards.

These all had an encounter with some water way back when but aside from being a bit wavy they’re not that bad. If anything being completely water damaged is preferable to partial water damage since these just feel like they need to be flattened under a heavy book. Anyway I’ve not only seen much worse, I own much worse.

Look at those colors though. The cards may be wavy but the printing presents really really well. The Lepcio in particular is beautiful with the red Band the light blue background just working together perfectly.

I like seeing these old cards for printing reasons too. I love being able to loupe old cards and see how the colors were actually created. Louping these, the blue is a 40% Cyan-only screen. Orange is 40% Magenta, 100% Yellow. Red is 100% Magenta, 100% Yellow. With the 100% Yellow cards (and the green being a significant amount of yellow) that means that the yellow plate was mostly solid.

When I posted these on Twitter someone pointed out that Lepcio and Robinson are both really good TTM guys. I don’t normally like facsimile autographs mixed with real autographs but 1950s cards feel like a different category here. Should I send them out and try or should I just put them in the binder and try and get a green card for the complete rainbow?

Decisions decisions decisions.

Anyway thanks Lanny let’s see what the rainbow looks like now.

Starting a new set

So late last month Matt Prigge decided that he wanted to clear out a bunch of sets and cards that he’d accumulated for accumulation’s sake. Matt just moved and while he had moved with all his cards, I guess that he realized that he didn’t want to buy enough Ikea Kallax units to get them all his basement floor.

I haven’t gone through such a downsizing yet but it’s coming. I have to get what I have organized first though. But with cards it’s easy to fall into the accumulation trap and taking a step back to figure out what I really like is a healthy activity to do every once in a while.

Currently, aside from my Giants, Stanford, and a few mini-projects, I’ve found that I’m enjoying filling out the cards and sets from my childhood but am enjoying just having samples—preferably Giants or Stanford players—from the other years. I’ve been enjoying building a 1978 set but it’s really the guys from 1987–1994 that I remember best. That’s my youth and all I cared about was baseball and cards.

I had collected complete sets of 1987–1993 Topps as a kid. I’ve been building 1986 since it represents the cards that were in existence when I became a fan and I acquired a couple hundred of them over my childhood collecting years. I only had a couple dozen 1994 Topps for comparison. By then I’d realized that I shouldn’t be spending money on packs if I was just going to get the set. When the strike hit and I dropped the hobby cold-turkey I never picked up any more 1994 Topps cards.

As a result I have no real memories of 1994 as a set. It’s not a design that I liked at the time* and I just didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the cards. But I’ve seen more examples in recent years and have found myself liking a lot of things about it. Plus the players are still the guys I knew and the set itself serves as a bit of commemoration of the single best Giants season I’ve ever witnessed.**

*As an autograph hunter I found myself skeptical of glossy cards since we hadn’t figured out the best way to get them signed. In many ways my preferences for non-glossy cardstock and older-style designs versus the fancy-shmancy modern cards the the 1990s pulled the hobby into is rooted in autograph hunting practicalities rather than any design-based critique.

**Yes winning a World Series is great but there’s also something wonderful about seeing your team dominate the regular season. The sting of getting pipped to the pennant by the Braves still hurts but looking back on it I just remember a heck of a run and pennant race.

So when Matt sent out feelers for who’d be interested in various junk wax sets I said hat I’d be interested if he had a set or partial set of 1994 Topps. The price was more than reasonable (especially since it was coming already-paged) so I sent over the money and a week later (thanks to Thanksgiving) the box arrived.

Yeah they don’t make sets like this anymore. I’m still not sold on the design but it’s not as bad as I remember and the only time it makes itself noticed is on cards like the Brett where it brilliantly mirrors the scoreboard. Photography-wise though this is fantastic stuff. A great mix of close action, distant action, experimental action, quiet candids, and poses.

What I like best is how much stadium detail I get. There’s enough depth of field to see what the grandstands are like. Many of the candids are wide-angle shots that show off all kinds of dugout details.

There are also plenty of horizontal cards too with the same mix of images. These are things we have to look for the photo-specific Stadium Club set to see nowadays and it’s a shame since this set is three times as large and so offers an abundance of photographic riches.

One of the things I like best about the photography in the set is how it allows the photos to remain grounded. We can see feet on the ground and know where the play is occurring. How far off the ground a dive is. That plays at second base refuse to hide the baserunner and bag behind the card graphics. These are cards that have been designed by people who know and understand baseball.

While it’s easy for me to rue my bad luck about getting into cards at the peak of card worthlessness, comparing these to what 1986 Topps looks like allows me to be thankful for being able to witness the incredible improvement in the quality of baseball photography.  Just the fact that I got to see the changes as they happened was a lesson in and of itself.

Anyway, Matt’s cards plus the ones I had already left me 45 cards short of a complete set. Most of those holes are in Series 2, much like my 2014 build. Full list of what I need is here. I’ll also keep an updated list on the set need page but this one will mark my starting point.

155 200 387 408 411 416 417 421 428 442 447 465 473 476 477 480 484 486 528 549 586 589 593 615 626 637 649 662 664 668 670 671 672 677 678 679 688 702 718 733 736 738 750 772

Matt, of course, was not content to just send me what I paid for and instead packed assorted other goodies into the box. Two packs of Topps Baseball Talk are so cool I almost don’t want to open them. Since I don’t have the player I need to go to YouTube to listen to the cards but the cards themselves are pretty cool too. As oversize versions of the 1989 design they feature nice big images and with the record grooves on the back are among the oddest to the oddballs.

Most of the packing though was assorted Giants cards from over the years. Many of these I have but I have two boys who are more than happy to take my duplicates too. I’ve already given them each a 300-count box each of cards from 1960 to  2019 as a house-warming present and need to put together other gift packs of duplicates for them now.

In the batch here it turned out that I was missing a bunch of the 1985 Donruss, 1987 Donruss, 1987 Fleer, and 1988 Donruss cards. 1989–1991 though were my peak years and if there’s a hole in my binder it’s because the card is autographed and so is merely in a different binder.

Which means I fastforward to 1992 here and mention that I’ve never seen those blue Classic cards before. They’re kind of horribly printed but I’m amazed that I’m still finding out about new cards from my peak collecting years.

The 1994 Bowmans are also mostly new (I do not remember this design from my youth even though I had a bunch) and the Upper Deck Fun pack represents a set I never saw as a kid. I’ve gotten some Fun Pack cards in previous trade packages but the Pro Files Bonds card is a completely new one to me as well.

Past the strike now and into cards I never saw as a kid No idea if the red lettering on Pinnacle means anything but all that gold foil still kind of amazes me. The 1996 Donruss Steve Scarsone though is a perfect demonstration of how quickly cards designs went from grounding the action to covering it up.

Instead of looking like a fantastic play Scarsone looks like he’s trying and failing to imitate the Karate Kid. Unfortunately, this school of card design is what Topps does repeatedly in modern cards and it’s noticeable enough that my 10-year-old complains about it.

Getting into the 21st century. Standout card here is the First American Church of Baseball Tim Lincecum. I have no idea what this set or organization is (its Facebook page suggests it is/was a Giants fan club) but it’s wonderfully odd and hand-numbered to 500 on the back.

Also the two Buster Posey 2015 cards are part of the Giants team set and NL All Stars set. Needless useless variants that I refuse to chase. But having a sample in the binder is fu none the less. The only reason I actively want those team set cards is if they included a guy who otherwise doesn’t have a Giants card that season.*

*A few of the hardest Stanford cards for me are guys who only showed up in the team sets.

And finally the 2018 and 2019 cards. I appreciate the Gypsy Queen since I categorically refuse to buy these. Ditto to Gallery. Not my cup of tea even though seeing how they’re made is of interest to me from a technical point of view. Like it appears that 2019 Gypsy Queen cut back on the logo and nameplate stupidity of 2018 and doesn’t feature any areas that look like they were printed in a second printing pass.*

*This is a long-overdue SABR post.

Lastly, buried in the stack of Giants cards was this Bill Swift autograph. I had to double check that this was included on purpose but Matt confirmed that it was. Bill Swift was a good Giant whose two full seasons were good enough that I forget that they were his only two complete seasons with the club. His 1993 was especially fantastic and he fully deserved to be in the running for the Cy Young Award.*

*As an aside, how awful was Jose Rijo’s run support that season since he was pretty damn good in every other stat besides Wins/Losses.

This card in particular has always been one of my favorites since it includes the Giants’ awesome Turn Back the Clock uniforms. I liked this card so much that I got it signed back in the day.

Yeah. This is from Spring Training 1993. And this isn’t a complaint about having two but rather an observation at how much Swift’s signature is different. I’m assuming Matt got his card signed TTM at some point in the past couple decades. The signature there more closely matches the neat signature examples Google pulls up. My card meanwhile is a hasty scrawl while getting into or out of the Scottsdale clubhouse.

Anyway, thanks Matt! I’m looking forward to finishing this set build too.

Jay’s Housewarming

Last week I came back from picking the kids up at school to find a bubble mailer from Greg/Night Owl waiting in my mailbox. This time he’d addressed it to my new address. It felt “off” when I picked it up. I’ve gotten enough of these now that I know what cards usually feel like. This one was different, sort of more dense and rigid and I was more curious than usual to open it.

Inside I found a stack of over a dozen Jay Publishing photopack cards. I’ve picked up a couple of these over the years but to-date they’re tended to be outside my collecting radar. When Greg received a huge batch of them earlier this year I began to realize that I’d been ignoring some good stuff.

As someone who got back into baseball cards because of photography reasons, these team photopacks are especially relevant because they represent a different branch of the image sharing/collecting culture that started in the 19th century. They’re basic halftone prints but they represent another way that photos circulated.

Unlike cards—whose size and thickness encourages handling—the photo packs are paper and are clearly meant to be put on display or pasted into an album. The ones I received from Greg are all in petty good shape and don’t have any pinholes or tape residue.

Jay Publishing printed these team packs for about a decade. They all look mostly the same with a large black and white photo over the player’s name, city, and team. In 1962 the font changed from san-serif to serif but other than that the only clues for dates are knowledge of the roster and the team uniforms.

Thankfully, Trading Card Database has photos of all the different Giants photo packs so I was able to determine that my stack was a combination of 1961 and 1963 photo packs.

Eight of the photos are from 1961. There are two doubles. That photos are often reused year-to-year makes determining if things are truly doubles kind of difficult. The ones here though do in fact appear to be identical in terms of the photo cropping but from different print runs.

In this batch I particularly like the Sam Jones photo which shows off the spring training facilities and the Bob Schmidt which is just a great image with the mask flying out one corner and his shadow anchoring another. The other four images aren’t bad either.

Of the six missing images it’s no surprise that Mays, Marichal, and Cepeda are among them. The thing I’m most confused by is how McCovey didn’t make the checklist and how Bob Schmidt, who only played two games for the Giants in 1961, did.

The 1963 photos to my eye aren’t quite as nice. Sanford is a bit blurry, O’Dell and Pagan are awkwardly cropped. Hiller’s a decent baseball pose though and Pierce is similarly strong. Haller’s meanwhile isn’t a bad image either but the crotch-eye view is a bit weird for me.

It’s kind of amazing to  compare Pierce and O’Dell though since they’re identically composed and timed but one is great and the other not. The difference in angle makes so much of a difference here.

From these six I’m missing Mays, McCovey and Cepeda this time (Felipe Alou and Al Dark are also missing from both 1961 and 1963). Again, not a surprise since those will be of interest to a much wider audience while  the rest of the players resonate only for Giants fans.

Greg also took the opportunity to clear out a dozen unwanted Giants cards. We’ll start off with a handful of older cards. Many of these I have so they’ll go to the boys. The 1984 Jeffrey Leonard though is new to me and doubles my 1984 Fleer Giants holdings. Yeah. Even though these all come from the overproduction era and represent sets my kids still pull from repacks I only have two 1984 Fleer Giants.

Some newer Giants cards. That Bumgarner All Star is one of the last cards Topps made of him. It’s nice to add it to the binder. The Stadium Club Hunter Pence is also quite welcome since I somehow only had the gold and black foil versions. And that Bergen/Coonrod Rookie Combo card confuses me since Bergen also has his own card in that set.

The last four cards are Archives cards using the 1975 design that Greg loves so much. As a non-collector of Archives I always appreciate getting these in the mail. I like seeing how Topps remakes its old designs even though it typically screws things up in an uncanny valley way.

These aren’t too bad: Team name is a bit small. Autographs are super bold. Colors are slightly off. But all in all they feel about right, especially when I see a group like this where every card is a different color combination.

Super cool Greg. Thanks!

Childhood Dentist

When you think about dentist offices and their decor, calming colors and framed prints of subjects that are pretty—and pretty forgettable—come to mind. The idea is to be relaxing while you flip through an old magazine and try not to think about what’s coming up.

My childhood dentist was different. In 1990, in the midst of the baseball card boom, every wall in his office was suddenly covered with framed cards. Nothing fancy—each frame featured a different 1990 release*—but very different than the standard dental office.

*Topps, Bowman, Donruss, Fleer, Score, and Upper Deck. Leaf was either too expensive or hadn’t yet released when he redecorated

As a baseball-card-mad kid this was very cool. My dentist liked to talk a lot while he worked and I got to hear about baseball and try and mumble responses while he was working. I think he even gave kids a pack of cards in addition to a toothbrush.

His office stayed like this for the next three decades. Not just baseball cards on the wall, the same cards year after year. Since he was my family dentist I continued to see him until I moved out of the state in my mid-30s. By then the cards had faded and none of us were as into the hobby as we had been. There was however something comforting seeing those frames full of 1990 junk wax where even the bright red Donruss design was trying to turn that sun-bleached cyan color.

Last summer he retired. Since my mom had apparently told him all about my reintegration into the hobby and how I’ve hooked both kids on it, she found herself with a bunch of frames as well as a big box of cards.

My mom took it upon herself to take all the cards out of the frames. The cards turned out to be glued into place so in addition to the sun damage the backs are all torn up. Besides the six 1990 selections there was also a frame of 1987 Fleer.* And there were a couple other frames that I was not familiar with.

*That cyan gradient on the 1987 Fleer design makes the cards look hella trippy when they fade since the gradient stays strongly cyan and just the photo fades. My brain ends up trying to substitute in more color to the gradient.

She sent me a photo to show me what she was dealing with. One of the frames nearly broke my heart. It was full of Red Man cards that had been faded beyond all hope. I took a closer look and figured they were reprints. Thankfully they were.

No idea when this reprint set was issued but it must have been around 1990 as well. The main tell, beyond everything having tabs, is that there’s a black border around each card. This border didn’t show up really well in the photo my mom sent me but once I received the big box of cards it was clear that these weren’t the real deal.

Still, as with all the sun-faded junk wax with ruined backs, these will go into the pile of cards for the boys to play with. Yes play. While they collect, they frequently also play games with the cards, comparing stats and other bits of trivia on the backs. If I knew the rules of 1960s card flipping I’d teach them that as well.

Not all the frames were sun-damaged though. There was one frame full of Giants postcards that survived the decades in decent shape. The backs are bit dinged but the fronts are almost all good.

Eleven of the cards are from 1983. This is the first year the Giants wore the uniforms I grew up with and the players here represent a team in transition. There are young guys like Bob Brenly and Chili Davis who’d help usher in the Roger Craig years. And there are a lot of older guys like Jim Barr and Johnnie LeMaster who symbolize the team of the 70s.

The Brenly photograph is fantastic—a classic catcher pose but also much better than the usual catchers poses. I love the Minton photograph which shows so much of the Candlestick stands. Also I’m not used to seeing Kuiper look so young.

The other nineteen cards are from 1988 and I recognized all the guys here without even having to think. Despite being all action images, these cards are photographed by the same photographer, Dennis Desprois, as the 1983 set and published by the Barry Colla company.

Desprois was the Giants photographer for  a long time. He’s also credited for the photos on the 1979 and 1980 KNBR SFPD sets* and the nature of the photos on here has me wondering if he and Barry Colla worked together on the Mother’s Cookies sets.

*Mentioned on here a few years ago.

These thirty postcards are probably the highlight of the dentist collection but there’s another couple thousand cards that my mom ended up sending to me so I’ll touch on the rest of the highlights.

As expected, much of the box was 1986–1994 junk wax. Too much to document and nothing really worth highlighting individually. Highlights are a near-complete 1991 Score set* and a sealed wax box of 1992 Topps.**

*Something I’m going to try and complete with my youngest son since his older brother just completed 1991 Topps earlier this year. We’ve finished sorting and while the set was missing two dozen cards I had most of them in my dupes box. So we only need four: 397 Rickey Henderson All Star, 403 Eric Davis Master Blaster, 412 Bo Jackson Rifleman, and 417 Nolan Ryan Highlight. 

**Which will go in the pile of cards to rip on a rainy day after the boys have done their chores.

Outside of the junk wax though was a 400-count box of more-interesting cards. Much more interesting ones.

The oldest card in the batch was a 1961 Topps baseball card of Wes Stock. Not much to say here except to note that I seem to attract extremely-well-loved samples of 1961 Topps. This one fits in perfectly with the rest of my collection.

While the Giants postcards are the highlight of the collection because of how they fit my interests, the most exciting part of this box was finding a stack of over sixty 1966 Philadelphia Gum football cards.

I’m not a football guy. Yes I was a 49ers fan when I was little but I never really learned about the history of the league beyond the Super Bowls. I never even collected the cards. As result I had to Google around to figure out what these were. That a few of the names in the stack jumped out at me made my Googling easier. That a couple of those cards ended up being Hall of Fame rookie cards made things exciting.

Even though it’s not something I collect there’s a giddy thrill in finding things you know carry a bit of potential value. Thumbing through the stack and finding Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus was quite the surprise. I didn’t recognize these as rookie cards but I could tell that they were super young.

I found myself appreciating the action photos in the set. 1960s baseball cards only had action photos for the World Series highlights and those were often black and white up into the 1970s. To see full-color photos from regular season games is pretty cool stuff. It made me wonder why the team photos are black and white.

1966 is historically an interesting set too. That’s the year of the AFL-NFL merger and the season of Super Bowl I. It’s also the first year of the Atlanta Falcons franchise and instead of a team photo and highlight image the set had two Falcons logo cards.

I was surprised to discover that Philadelphia Gum had the rights to the NFL teams and Topps had the rights to the AFL times. It’s weird for me to think of different leagues and different sets. That even after the merge the two different sets continued for a couple years with Philadelphia Gum continuing to print cards for the Colts, Browns, and Steelers—three teams that switched conferences—is especially interesting.

Aside from the two 49ers cards* the only card that’s definitely staying in my collection is the Alex Karras. Not something I’d seek but I can’t let a card of Mongo go.

*I don’t seek or collect them but if they cross my desk I’ll snag them out of respect for my youthful fandom.

There were a dozen 1967 Topps football cards. No cards as cool as the 1966s but a fun design which I’ve seen a few people try and convert into customs. This set is just the AFL teams and it’s nice to see those Raiders and Chargers uniforms.

There were two 1967 Topps Who Am I cards. I have mixed feelings about them being scratched off. Part of me likes the ridiculousness of the unscratched defaced images but the other part prefers being able to see the full portraits.

Non-sport cards aren’t something I seek but I also like being reminded how much larger the trading card world is beyond sports and pop culture. Historic “great man” sets are always particularly interesting since they represent a window into who we celebrate culturally. The artwork presenting Ike as President while placing him in front of D-Day is also a reminder of a different age of the Presidency.

There was a couple dozen 1968 Topps baseball cards. The Don Drysdale is the best one in the batch but there were also a couple A’s cards for my collection. 1968 is the first year the A’s were in Oakland and I’ve been putting together a page or two of those to demonstrate how Topps dealt with the Oakland move.

Sanguillen meanwhile is a fun photo and demonstrates Topps’s image handling for the card backgrounds. He’s clearly in front of a stadium but Topps has effectively turned it into sky by stripping out almost all the Magenta, Yellow, and Black from the background. This is something Topps did a lot in the late-60s and early-70s but usually only in the sky portion of the image.

By 1968 Topps was making football cards for the whole NFL. There were only a dozen of these, no big names, but I love seeing the 1960s team logos. This is such a different design from the 1967 set. I like that it has the some typography as the 1968 baseball set.

There was however a 1968 Topps poster. Nicely folded and in great shape without any tears. It’s a wonderful vibrant photo of the Chargers uniform in all its glory in front of an equally-colorful stadium. You wouldn’t design it like this today but I totally understand why people say that this is what Football should still look like.

Two 1969 Topps football cards. Not much more to say about these except that this is a solid design layout with the white stroke around the logo. I’m not a huge fan of the painted out backgrounds but I do appreciate the pop of color and the simplicity of the type.

Back to non-sport. There were a dozen or so 1969 Donruss Odd Rod stickers. Odd is the operative word here. As someone who was brought into the hobby via Garbage Pail Kids, these definitely feel like an ancestor to that kind of thing, sort of a step from Basil Wolverton to GPK.

Only three 1970 Topps Baseball but I scanned all of them. I love the backgrounds of the 1970 set and this is my first World Series card. I guess the black and white photos are intended to evoke newspaper and TV imagery but I do wish they were in color.

Another highlight from the box was a near-perfect 1970 Kellogg’s Don Sutton. Color is good. There’s like no cracking. I love stuff like this.

A dozen 1977 Topps baseball cards included a wonderfully mis-trimmed Grant Jackson first year Mariners card. I don”t like this design but I’m finding myself enjoying the photo selection. The portraits are frequently interesting and I love how Topps doesn’t care about the horizons being level as long as the player himself is framed well.

1981 Topps is another design I’m not too keen on but which I like a lot of the individual cards and photos. Only a dozen of these and Don Sutton is the only real star. The Rick Dempsey is an example of what the set does best. Multicolor caps which looks like the game caps. A bright contrast-colored border. And an interesting casual candid photograph.

Three Hall of Famers in the dozen 1985 Topps Baseball cards. These cards were the border between “old” and “my” cards and as a result I still don’t know how I feel about them. It’s not a set I collected as a kid. Nor is it a set that felt special to find in repacks. Which is a shame since the set itself is really interesting with a lot subsets that would become a bigger deal as the decade progressed.

Topps Glossy Send-Ins though are something I’ve always liked. These two from 1986 doubled the number of Hall of Famers I have from that year. For the decade when non-glossy cards were the standard glossy stuff like this was special and the checklists were always a who’s-who of the important guys that season.

The only junk wax I’m scanning is the near-complete* set of 1991 Pacific Senior League cards. A decent number of recognizable names but not a lot of star power. In some ways the recognizable players who aren’t big stars are the most fun but yeah it’s nice to see some Hall of Famers continuing to play.

*For whatever reason I’m missing cards 1–18.

This set has a lot of double-player cards with a special emphasis on siblings and father-son combinations. It’s a peak-Pacific design but it’s bright and colorful and we didn’t have a lot of cards like this in other sets at this time.

Not sure if these count as cards but there were a half-dozen Bradex Plate slips. I guess these came with the plates? To be honest I like them better than the plates since the idea of storing and displaying those never made sense to me. But slipping these into a 4-pocket sheet is totally something that appeals to me.

There were also a couple more-modern cards in the mix. This 2000 Pedro Martinez is a jumbo oversize card. Not much else to say about it except that as an oddball of sorts, a Hall of Famer, and as one of the best pitchers of all time I’m happy to slip it into my album.

This 2002 Topps Nestle is another oddball. It’s one of the few Topps-issued card sets that isn’t licensed to use Major League team logos. It’s comforting to see these existed into the 2000s actually since design-aside this is a very 1980s thing to do.

And in addition to all this there’s a half-opened box of 2013 Series 2 to go through. No idea if the autograph or relic has been pulled but it wouldn’t surprise me if it has been and the remaining packs are what’s left after discovering the hit. Those packs though will go with the 1992 box as a stash of stuff to rip with the boys.

Whew. That was a lot of cards. I’m impressed my mom managed to get through them all.

🎶One of these kids is doing his own thing🎶

A surprise bubble mailer from Steve Cornell arrived last week. Well sort of a surprise. He’d given me aheads up saying that he was sending me some team set help but I still never expect a bubble mailer full of cards.

I especially don’t expect this kind of star power. The League Leaders cards are of course part of my searchlists. Since I only collect Giants cards these cards also represent the only cards of other stars I have in my collection.

So this is not only a huge bite out of my 1964 team set but it also represents my only vintage Koufax or Spahn card. Add Marichal to the mix and this represents a heck of a pitching lineup. And yeah despite the title of this blogpost Jim Maloney was pretty good too.

This is more like what I was expecting. The 1987 Topps set was my first set of cards. I didn’t know about the Traded set at the time and never picked it up later. As a result I’ve been looking for the 1987 Traded Giants. Not urgently—these fall into the category of cards that are overpriced online because it’s just not cost efficient to ship them—but it’ll be nice to cross that set off the search list.

These two cards leave me with just the Chris Speier on my search list. I have to admit that I fully expected Matt Williams to be the last one. Thankfully neither of these is an awful airbrush job. Both cards though are perfect representations of the typical portrait or action image I grew up seeing.

Six 2000 Topps cards leave me with just one card on my searchlist. Kind of. I’m missing a Barry Bonds card that has like a dozen different versions all with the same number. Ugh. I hate that kind of crap so I’ll just consider this complete as it is.

This design gets a bad rap because it falls in a run of ver similar-looking designs. I don’t hate it. I do think it would be better of the border and foil stamping were replaced with plain paper. I’m also not the biggest fan of the way Topps is using transparency effects here. Still, these images are zoomed and cropped well and some, like the Kent, are very nicely timed.

Eight 2003 Topps means I’m just missing the three Barry Bonds cards. I’m very happy to have the team card and it’s nice to have the stats on guys like Lofton, Durham, and Worrell who were key parts of that 2002 Pennant.

I hate the blue borders on this design and really wish they were white. A shame since otherwise these are very nice looking cards. It’s nice to have decent portraits mixed with the action images even if many of the images are extremely similar to each other.

The last cards in the mailer were these two from 2015. I actually had the gold parallels of these but I wanted the base cards as well. The Heston No Hitter card demonstrates the weirdness of doing highlights in the Update set since when it ends up getting paged with the 2014 World Series highlights.

The Romo card is one I really like since it has the special championship gold jersey which is also one of the only times in the last couple decades that the script Giants has shown up on the home whites.

Very cool Steve. Thanks!

PWE from the President

When it rains it pours. Last Tuesday I found a plain white envelope from Mark Armour in my mailbox. Since his last mailing to me Mark’s moved on from being the chair of the SABR Baseball Cards committee to being the SABR President (and I’ve stepped into his large newly-empty shoes as committee co-chair).

We’ll start off with the envelope because instead of boring American Flag Costco stamps or the USPS-generated barcodes we’ve got a pair of Kadir Nelson Marvin Gaye stamps. These should be used for all trade packages because of Marvin Gaye reasons but Nelson’s work has also been featured on the SABR blog.

Inside the envelope was a bunch of 2019 Heritage. I have all these. My kids do not. They were very excited and not at all pleased when I told  them to wait until I had a chance to photograph these for a blog post. They’re now up to 19/23 for the Giants Heritage cards this year which is pretty good. They’re only missing the three short prints and Will Smith.

Coming on the heels of Marc Brubaker’s mailday where I mentioned the “sunset” cards in Heritage High numbers it’s nice to have a few of the blue sky cards to make the comparison to the sunset ones. The Shaw/Garcia card is the only one here with the Heritage High light. And yes I’ll continue to call these sunset cards even though I realize the photos are of a sunrise.

There were also three customs from Gio at When Topps Had (Base)Balls who’s one of the better custom card makers out there. Gio does a great job at recreating Topps’s designs and creating cards of players who never got cards, appeared on multi-player rookie cards, or whose cards were horribly airbrushed.

The no-name guys who missed out on cards in a set are the most interesting ones for me. Don Mason and Frank Johnson are two such players here. Don Mason is one of those guys who barely made it on to the checklist each year and so his cards don’t correspond to his best seasons. Frank Johnson is similar. He’s on 1969 and 1971 but not 1970.

Cards of fringe players are tons of fun. They’re the ones I’ve enjoyed making the most in my customs and they’re definitely the ones I enjoy sending out. It’s the weird fringe players who make a set interesting and ultimately fix things to a specific moment of time due to their short tenures.

The third card is a dedicated rookie card of George Foster. This is a nicer approach to the zoomed version Topps made in 2003. Unfortunately it also brings up the unfortunate trade the Giants made (though it did take a few seasons after the trade for him to find his footing in Cincinnati).

Speaking of the Foster trade, Frank Duffy was one of the players the Giants got for Foster. Gio’s actually offered to help me source some photos for a customs project I’m doing for Stanford players. Guys like Don Rose for example who didn’t have any really good cards and whose photos don’t come up easily on search. I need to reply to his email but it looks to be promising even if I don’t find everyone I’m looking for.