2021 in review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addendum

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

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

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

Christmas cards from Mark Hoyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Mark! Happy Holidays!

Mishmash

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

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

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

*My youngest actually saves and binders them.

**By artist Craig Pursley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very cool stuff. Thanks Attic!

A package from Jason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very cool Jason. Thanks!

Chocolate Bars

A quick post about a pair of cards that I’ve picked up this year. While I’m doing pretty well in terms of getting Giants team sets (minus Willie Mays and some high numbers), I’ve not gotten into all the different insert sets from the same time period. Some, like the deckle edges, I’ve liked a lot. Others don’t move me, especially at the prices they’re currently listed at. Though I am always keeping an eye out for any that are particularly cheap.

One such set is the 1965 Embossed set. I grabbed this Orlando Cepeda for only a buck at a card show a couple months ago. It’s not as beat up in person as it looks on the scan but it’s been plenty loved none the less.

I’ve not grabbed any of these because I’ve been unmoved by the design. Besides the embossed profiles being pretty nondescript, there’s something about this that just makes me want a chocolate bar. However, at a buck it’s a nice addition to the binder.

One fun thing to point out from the scan though is that the trap around the player name is super visible. Most of this card is a metallic gold with red ink overprinting  everything for the design. The player name though is the only part which is unprinted and that bright red halo is the only section of the card where the red ink is not printed on top of the gold. In-person, it doesn’t stand out this much but the way metallic ink scans so dark makes the trap a whole lot more visible.

Last week though I grabbed another 1965 Topps Embossed card and my feelings about it are very different. This is from Topps’s Presidents and Famous Americans set which I can only assume came after the baseball set since it shows a lot of improvements.

First off, it’s a bit larger in size, more of a tall-boy card than the slightly-undersized baseball card. The embossed portrait is much better detailed with recognizable facial features. And the way Topps scaled back on the gold, using it just for the embossing and borders, makes it all pop so much more. Topps took more care with the type as well and the bio really balances out the composition

There’s also more color in this set. Hoover’s card is white because he was still alive when the set released. Presidents who were assassinated got black cards. Other presidents are red or blue depending on political party (I think) while the rest of the famous Americans got green. The result is a set that manages to be colorful while keeping the novelty of the embossing.

Picking Pockets

Julie over at A Cracked Bat is no longer super active on twitter but she’s still blogging sporadically. I enjoy her blog, especially her themed collections, and contributed a few customs to the cause. This also mean that I felt eligible to partake in her Pick Pockets page where she will list various cards available to fellow traders.

After some USPS hang-ups, earlier this week I got a small envelope containing a handful of cards I picked late last year.

Three cards from before I was old enough to be collecting cards. I’ll never turn down the chance at a nice Kellogg’s card and since my gut instinct is to think of Dave Parker as a Red, it’s always nice to build up the number of Pirates cards I have of him.

The two Ralston Purina cards hit me in my feels. I had a handful of these, and the near-identical Cereal Series cards, when I was a kid and they’re partly responsible for my love of oddball food issues. The white card stock was such a departure from the regular Topps cards of that era and the design itself was unlike anything else.

I’m not building either set but I have no problems adding to the ones I have. Maybe I’ll embark on a Cereal/Purina frankenset quest and try and split things 50/50 between the two.

The other two cards were a pair of oddballs from my youth. I used to buy Bazooka and definitely collected the cards in the early 1990s but the 1988 and 1989 sets escaped my notice. The gum wrapper logo/design is a lot of fun and I just love adding stuff like this to the oddball binder.

The 1992 Score Procter & Gamble is one I never saw as a kid. It’s a wild design—in way reminiscent of the inserts from the 1980s. Looking up the set details now, it looks like you had to send in three proof of purchases and I don’t think my family purchased any Procter & Gamble products. I love that I can still come across card sets from my youth which I never encountered before.

Very cool stuff and I’m glad Julie’s pockets weren’t picked through by the time I got to them.

Texas PWEs

It’s been a while since I got a trade package. This isn’t surprising. It’s been a long while since I sent anything out. Which also isn’t surprising. I haven’t really purchased any new cards in over a year. Cards haven’t been available to purchase anywhere for over a year unless you’re willing to reward all those assholes who buy up all the retail or online stock and try to resell it at ridiculous markups.

So it was quite a pleasant surprise to find a couple envelopes in my mail last Friday. Amusingly, they both came from Houston.

The first came from Commish Bob and is a response to a comment I made on a recent post of his about 1962 Post cards. I’m passively acquiring Giants from the 1960s Post cards* but because my passive acquisition means jumping only on the cheapest of cards when I encounter them, I only have one Hall of Famer in the entire batch.

*Well, and Chuck Essegian and I’ve grabbed a Wally Post.

Unbeknownst to me, Bob had ended up with a duplicate McCovey and when I admired his acquisition he offered to send me his well-loved duplicate. Very very cool. This is now the oldest McCovey in my collection.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on here before but I’ve come to love these Post cards. They manage to fit everything you want on a card on one side of the cardboard. Stats, bio, photo, card numbering are all there. You don’t really need anything more. Factor in the use elements and how these were lovingly chopped out of a cereal box by some kid sixty years ago and there’s not more I could wish for.

The second envelope came from Marc Brubaker.  It had the usual mix of this and that but I’ll start off with my first Heritage High numbers. I saw neither sight nor sound of these. I don’t think they were released to Target and it doesn’t matter anyway since my Target no longer carries cards.

In some ways it’s probably just as well. These continue the weird fake trapping and bad trapping effects from Heritage and now make the photoshopped backgrounds look a lot more obvious. There’s also some weird yellow/magenta fringing on the photos—only the players not the backgrounds—which is kind of distracting.

The worst thing though is that it’s clear that whoever put the checklist together did not look at the checklist for Heritage. Tyler Beede for example already has a card in the set. It’s things like this which frustrate collectors since it suggests that Topps can’t be bothered to do the bare minimum of quality control in the product.

Marc somehow also came across some Chrome last year. As usual these scan like crap but jazz up the binder a little. I still don’t get this set though my youngest does enjoy them* As a print nerd and mechanical engineer though I do have to admit that I appreciate these more as objects than as cards.

*He was briefly excited to find that Chrome had released just in time for National Baseball Card Day last year until he found out that they cost $10 for a pack of 4. Very typical of Topps to make sure that their kid-friendly promotion coincides with product releases that kids can’t afford.

One thing that amazes me about Marc’s mailings though is the amount of stickers he comes by. I never got into the Panini sticker albums when I was a kid. I remember seeing them all over, usually with movie tie-ins,* but never felt the appeal.

*For some reason a Temple of Doom album is the first that comes to mind.

More often than not though Marc’s mailing seem to have stickers. From all ages. And since I’ve never collected them they’re always new. Which is pretty cool. I have no desire to put them in an album but they remind me of a branch of collecting which is never on my radar.

These are from 1996 and so also represent a year in which I didn’t pay much attention to baseball at all. Looking back on things I’m a bit sad to have missed the Deion Sanders era.

And finally a handful of Stanford cards. Marc managed to go five for five here too. Flair is one of those sets which I couldn’t dream of buying as a kid. While it’s sort of peak-90s now they’re always fun to encounter. The Just Minors Hutchinson is great because most of my Hutchinson cards use the exact same photo. One Piscotty is a border variant and the Platinum is a nice shiny change of pace from the usual cards in my Stanford binder.

Thanks Marc! One of these days I’ll buy cards again and end up with some Astros I can send you.

Retired Numbers

Just over a year ago before everything got shut down I visited Queens to see Ralph Carhart’s Home Base exhibition. While the show was good, as was getting to met Ralph and Mark Hoyle, one of the things that I didn’t discuss anywhere was how Ralph showed us some images of a massive collection that he had been cataloging and preparing for sale.

He’s since blogged about the collection on SABR and watching his journey down the rabbit hole of awesomeness has been a lot of fun. Earlier this month he reported on Twitter that the auction houses had picked through everything and he had a ton of index cards available for sale. So I took a look and there was a lot to covet.

Being disciplined, I remembered a goal that I had mentioned when Jason sent me a Bill Terry card for Christmas and started off looking for Giants retired numbers as a supplement to my goal of getting a playing-days card of every Giants retired number. Lo and behold, Ralph had three that I was missing and so I placed an order.

A few days later the cards arrived and I was very happy.* It’s not just autographs but the fact that I feel like I learned about them before almost anyone else and how they serve as kind of the perfect way for me to mark a year of pandemic living.

*As were my kids since one of the first things they noticed at their first Giants games was the line of retired numbers posted in the stadium.

It also means that I have enough material to put a post together of my Giants retired numbers. This isn’t a comprehensive list of what I have. For each player I’m showing the oldest playing-days card I have and his autograph.

NY—Christy Mathewson, John McGraw

No cards here and autographs are completely outside the realm of consideration (I’m not sure I’ve even seen a picture of a McGraw signature). Heck their cards are also pretty much a pipe dream. Both of their T205s and T206s are some of the nicer ones in the sets and both of them remain pretty big fish in the pool of pre-war stars.

3—Bill Terry

Both of these are total shocks. Still. The National Chicle card is a beauty and great example of a playing-days card. The index card is from the Gould collection and is a great clean version of his signature.

4—Mel Ott

Not as hard to get cards of as McGraw and Matthewson but still very much in demand. Ott is another guy whose signature I can’t recall ever seeing as well.

11—Carl Hubbell

Very happy to have his signature on an index card. Like Ott his cards are still in high demand.

20—Monte Irvin

Irvin’s cards are surprisingly not too spendy. Only his rookie cards seem to be tough. I haven’t ventured into any of his 1952s yet but I can actually see that happening.I actually have a signed card of his on my COMC pile which will show up some day once I get around to requesting it.

22—Will Clark

Still boggles my mind how expensive that 1986 card was when I was a kid in the Bay Area in the 1980s. I think I’ve encountered enough of them in the past couple years in trade packages that both of my kids have copies now. And the autograph is an in-person one which I’ve blogged about already.

24—Willie Mays

Story about the card is on the blog. The autograph is one that my mom got in spring training. The only time she took advantage of her media pass was to get this. And yeah it was worth it.

25—Barry Bonds

Is interesting that Barry is the only retired number who didn’t debut with the Giants. So I went with his oldest Giants card instead of his oldest card for this post. I honestly forgot I had this until I started witing. My complete sets aren’t something I’ve looked though as much as my team binders.

The photo meanwhile is one my mom took in 1993 and when I got it signed in 1994. I wish we had had silver sharpies back then but I really like that this is truly one of a kind.

27—Juan Marichal

Marichal is going to start a trend where my oldest card is the oldest card which is neither a rookie nor a high number card. I don’t have any of the Hall of Fame rookie cards and Marichal is a high number in 1962 and 1963. Which makes 1964 my oldest card. His autograph is one of the first TTM requests I wrote.

30—Orlando Cepeda

I’ve a decent run of Cepeda cards. I’m just missing his rookie. And I’ve blogged about his autograph before.

36—Gaylord Perry

I know, this looks like a rookie card but it’s not. His 1962 is the one that costs a lot. This floating multi-head card isn’t the prettiest card out there but many of Perry’s cards are pretty dire. Topps was not particularly kind to him until the 1970s. The story about the ball is one of my favorites on the blog.

44—Willie McCovey

And finally the last index card from the Gould collection. McCovey is like Marichal with an expensive rookie card followed by high numbers until 1964.

Looking forward, Bruce Bochy is totally going to get his number retired some day (or at least he should). I hope it’s sooner rather than later but my guess is that the Giants are waiting for the Hall of Fame to make the first move. Besides, they technically haven’t had Will Clark’s ceremony yet so once they do that this summer we’ll see what happens.

1947 Carreras Turf Cigarettes Film Stars

Not exactly a pre-war pickup but it feels pre-war due to the form factor. I recently snagged a complete set of the 1947 Carreras Turf Cigarettes Film Stars. I’ve been intrigued by this set since it covers the classic Hollywood films I grew up watching and loving.

These aren’t as pretty or colorful as my pre-war Hollywood cards and instead feel like miniature exhibits. Single-color navy blue halftones but the photography is frequently good enough that many of the images still pop. The cards are actually cut from cigarette boxes which is why the edges are all janky. This also means that the backs are blank.

I normally don’t like blank backs but in this case Im fine wth it since there’s nothing I can really say about the subjects anyway. These are all stars that we still recognize and there are enough heavy hitters throughout the checklist that it was hard to pick the samples for this post.

The Humphrey Bogart card with the cigarette and fedora is a standout in the set though. Every other image is a more-traditional headshot but Bogie is being Bogie and it rules.

A few more big names. Many of these—eg Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Margaret O’Brien—feel like actors who maybe shouldn’t be in a 1947 set but this means that they were clearly still stars at this time.

Finding the Reagan card meanwhile kind of made me laugh. As someone who grew up with him as President it’s still weird for me to remember that he was an actor first.

And last a few more big stars of the time. I’ve grouped this four together though because the cards show how the images aren’t just halftoned photos. Each of these has some drawn-in contrast details. Sometimes it’ll be in the hair, other times the eye outlines.

This kind of pre-press was pretty common for newspaper photos* where the resulting prints were super coarse screens on newsprint. If I had to guess, I’d say that since these are on uncoated paper which was used as cigarette packaging that they used sort of the same process. Probably all the photos are retouched in some way but it’s only visible (if you know what to look for) on some of them.

*I saw a lot of them at Pier 24 years ago.

Anyway the Lauren Bacall adds another to the Vogue checklist as well. I’m not intentionally building this but it’s been a fun thing to keep in mind as I accumulate Hollywood cards.*

*Currently missing Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Grace Kelly, and Gene Kelly.

Holy MOReilly

Mike/SPOART (@MOReilly_58) is a SABR member and operates a fun twitter feed where he tweets photos of all kinds of cool vintage sports cards from his collection. Lots of fun stuff to see and lots of fun stuff I can only dream of having. A couple weeks ago he tweeted about 1941 Play Ball, a particularly interesting set since it’s kind of the last major issue before the United States entered World War 2.

When I periodized the SABR Baseball Cards blog, I chose 1939 as the beginning of “modern” cards. Some of this is me pushing back a little on the idea that “pre-war” should be tied to the United States’s involvement, but the timeframe is 1939–1955 which is a period of first steps into cards becoming what we all recognize as cards today. Multiple brands. Multiple sizes and form factors. But all much closer in concept and feel to cards today than to the tobacco cards from a few decades earlier. The fact that Play Ball would go one to become Bowman played a big part here as well.

I commented on that tweet that of all the “flagship” sets from 1939 onwards, 1941 Play Ball was the only one which I had no cards from. Mike sort of immediately messaged me and said he’d like to rectify that.

A couple days ago I got his mailing. Inside was about exactly the kind of 1941 Play Ball card that I was expecting. Something off-grade but still extremely presentable. This looks like it was stuck in an album and sandwiched between some acidic paper. Thankfully the majority of his picture is untouched and I can see the color details on his uniform. And despite the glue spots there’s no paper loss and all the back information is visible.

I wasn’t expecting a Giant since beggars can’t be choosers but the fact that Mike sent me a Giant was extra cool. It’s a nice big image and I can see the uniform details right down to the zipper. It’s also great to see a color image of the blue and red uniform that they wore before World War 2. I saw these uniforms in the first Turn Back the Clock game the Giants did in the early 1990s and it was both very cool and very weird to see them in non-Giants colors.

Speaking of what I wasn’t expecting. I was not expecting this to come in a bubble mailer. I was expecting a single card in a plain white envelope. Maybe. I’ve had plenty of promised mailings never show up.* A bubble mailer though meant more than one card and for a while I was really confused and trying to remember what I ordered from Ebay.

*Note. If you’ve sent me something and I’ve not acknowledged it on the blog or Twitter. That means I haven’t received it.

When I saw the Play Ball card I put it all together. But my jaw kind of dropped when I saw what else was in there. I’ll start off with this 1956 Giants Team Card. This was one of the last two 1956 Topps cards I needed for my Giants team set (no surprise what the last card is) since the team cards tend to be some of the more expensive ones in the set. My guess as to why is that kids didn’t save them back in the day so they’re just harder to find now.

This is the first year Topps did team cards as part of the larger set and it’s one of the better team card designs they’ve ever done. Team picture on the front with photo identification.* A wonderful team history on the back with all-time records and I particularly love the field graphic and dimensions. That the Polo Grounds is such a distinct field makes this particular card even cooler.

*That the names go from right to left is really weird though.

Staying on the Polo Grounds topic, this postcard was also included. It’s from the linen era which dates it to between 1930–1944. The absence of any light standards suggests the photo at least predates 1940 when the first night game occurred. I don’t actively collect postcards but I definitely like grabbing ones that catch my eye. This one would definitely do that.

Besides just being a cool image of the stadium, I love that it shows the John T Brush Stairway and the surrounding neighborhood at the top of Coogan’s Bluff. It’s great to see things that I physically saw on previous trips to the site and it makes the postcard that much more special.

Wrapping up the mailer were a pair of Red Man cards. Both of these are pretty beat up but they have it where it counts. The Maglie is from 1952, the first year they released these. Hank Thompson is from 1955, the last year. Since my only Red Mans were from 1953 and 1954, it’s fantastic to have samples form the complete run now.

While the design of the set didn’t really change year-to-year, there were small changes and the 1952s show a bit of the first-set awkwardness where there’s no numbering or information about the year of issue. I always like the artwork which features stadium backgrounds and Maglie’s portrait is great with the contrast between the blue sky and the placement against the stadium background making him seem larger than life.

If there’s anything to knock about Red Mans,* it’s in how many of the cards of Black players look like they’ve been painted by someone who’s never seen a Black man in real life.* Thankfully the Hank Thompson is colored pretty nicely.

*Well besides the name of the product which I’m honestly surprised hasn’t been pressured to change.

*Campanella and Mays both make me cringe.

Very very cool Mike. This was totally unexpected and filled in a lot of holes I didn’t even know I had. I can’t thank you enough.