Category Archives: trades

The Magic of Card Twitter

A few months ago I purchased one of those $5 Fairfield repacks at Target. It’s always a fun exercise to see what kind of old cards show up in there* and it’s also a great way for me to see what I missed in the decades I was away from the hobby. I don’t care about the high end cards but just seeing all the different base cards has been great.

*I’m frequently jealous of how my kids can find the exact same early-1980s cards in repacks that I found 25 years ago.

Anyway those repacks, like everything else nowadays, include a chance at a “hit” and lo and behold, I got lucky and found a JD Drew Dodger relic.

This is actually a “good” Fairfield hit in that it’s a semi-famous player. At the same time that it’s a player that no one ever liked makes it the perfect example of what to expect as a hit.

As someone who’s not really feeling it with relics in general, never liked Drew as a player, and collects Giants cards, I put the card in a pile and forgot about it until Night Owl received a scammed Fairfield repack box for Christmas. Then I knew what I had to do.

The magic of Card Twitter is that that JD Drew relic which didn’t excite me at all not only found a perfect home but turned into a card I really like as well.

Yeah. Only a Giants fan of a certain age would enjoy a Steve Scarsone 1996 Leaf Signatures card. I am one of those and I know I’ll enjoy this much much more than Night Owl did.

Scarsone was the backup and eventual replacement for Robby Thompson. We all loved Robby* but it’s not like he was going to play forever nor was he a massive threat with the bat. It’s not like Scarsone was much of an upgrade either, I remember him mostly as a pinch hitter and double switch substitute.

*One of only four players to play over ten years exclusively with the Giants.

The reason why I particularly like this card though is that I got Scarsone’s autograph at the Giants 1994 Spring Training before he had really any baseball cards of note and definitely no Giants cards. So this plain white card has been sitting in my autograph binder for two dozen years and now it will have a real, signed card as a partner in the pocket next to it.

This isn’t a card I’d go out of my way to buy but I love having it as it reminds me of my days as an autograph hound back in those simpler, pre-strike years.

Night Owl of course didn’t stop there and included a second card hiding behind the Scarsone in the penny sleeve.

This was unexpected and very generous. McCovey’s one of those guys whose cards almost always look good and this is no exception. A great-looking card in a great-looking set which all-too-often gets chipped and beat-up edges. I’m very happy to slide this one into my binder too.

Thanks Night Owl! These kind of small-scale trades are what I’ve found myself loving most about reintegrating into the hobby. The larger, coordinated ones are fun too but there’s something about exchanging a couple cards via unexpected plain white envelopes which reminds me of all the promise that trading cards on the playground had to offer.


Getting closer

Jeff Katz (@SplitSeason1981) has been in the process of upgrading his sets (I had sent him a few upgrade cards as part a previous trade) and generously offered to fill a few of the holes in my Giants wantlist with some of his now-replaced cards.

Because these are fairly low-grade cards condition-wise, they fall into the kind of hole where the value-to-shipping price ratio means that they aren’t really sellable online except as part of a large batch. This makes them perfect mailday cards since people like me are more than happy to get them for the cost of shipping.

Two 1968 League Leader cards featuring Giants. McCormick kind of amazingly lead the league in wins in 1967. McCovey meanwhile is further down the Home Run chart and has been relegated to a super-tiny photo on the card.

These two cards mean I’m now only missing three cards from this year’s Giants team set. Two of those three (NL Strikeout Leaders and the Juan Marichal checklist) are pretty cheap. The third on the other hand is the Killebrew, Mantle, and Mays card. Not cheap at all.

The good news though is that I’m done with the base cards and can now consider re-sorting everything from being alphabetical by last name to an order which is more representative of the Giants’ 1968 season. Whether this is by lineup order or something else is what I still need to figure out although going by lineup order will be tough since the only second baseman in the checklist spent the entire 1968 season in the minors.

The 1969 cards are more interesting. This time Marichal led the league in wins and the three-player leaders card is nowhere near as busy as the four-player 1968 cards. The Giants Heroes card is wonderful in how it looks like they’re just having a lot of fun.

The McCovey All Star though is my favorite of the batch. It’s a great design which holds up despite being pretty beat up. It’s interesting how much more accepting I am of beat up cards of star players. Some of this is purely value-based reasons where I know the beat up cards are all I can afford. But with the stars there’s also a sense that they were used more—whether put on display, traded, carried around, etc.—instead of being dumped in a shoebox or flipped on the playground.

These three take me to needing just five from that year. My 1969 needs are much more consistent with what I expect my entire wantlist to eventually look like: Hall of Famers (in this case just Mays and Marichal) and high numbers (including the double-whammy of a high-numbered rookie in Bobby Bonds). In fact most of my 1960–1973* want list at this point is close to this level of completeness. 1962 and 1963 are the only years where I have a lot of commons left to get.

*1973 being the last year of high numbers and the 1950s being a completely different level of collecting for me.

That I tend to leave the most-expensive cards for last means that this kind of low-grade help is tough to come by. I’m glad Jeff was able to help and it’s always fun to get a team set this close to the finish line.


Yet another huge @shanekatz73 mailday

Holy moly. Apparently every baseball card blogger has the same New Year’s resolution of clearing out unwanted cards from their collection and finding them good homes. While I’m not at that stage of collecting yet* I have been on the receiving end of a few trade packages now which consist of unwanted Giants cards.

*My new collection is still mostly focused and I have only one binder of random potential trade cards that don’t fit.

The most recent of these was another huge batch from Shane (@ShaneKatz73). Shane’s ability to accumulate Giants cards is starting to amaze me. His previous maildays have also been extremely generous and this one does not deviate from that pattern.

Starting off with the oldest cards. Highlights here are the two 1985 Circle K cards. When I was a kid I thought that Circle K was a fake store akin to 555 phone numbers since I’d only ever seen one in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. By the time I saw one in real life* I was approaching the end of my card collecting days.** So these cards represent oddballs which I’ve never heard of and a store that I didn’t think existed. Very fun.

*My first trip to Spring Training where there was one across the street from our hotel room in Scottsdale.

**Though I didn’t know this at the time.

Topps Big are also always appreciated. I love the 1980s take on the 1956 design. It’s a perfect homage to one of the all-time classics and manages to also be very much (in a good way) of its time as well. One of these days I should get a box of these to rip into. That the backs include the players’ full names—including Candy’s double surname—was a pleasant surprise too. I wish I’d had these on hand when I wrote my SABR post about those names.

That green Hygrade Willie Mays card also brings me back. My Christmas present in 1986* was a Hygrade Baseball Card Collecting Kit. A wonderful binder,** pages, a book on the history of cards, and that green set of All-Time greats.*** I remember paging that set immediately and then reading and rereading the backs over and over and over again.

*Could’ve been my birthday in 1987 but I’m 90% positive it was 1986 Christmas even though the information about this set says 1987. My first baseball game was September 1986. And by 1987 Christmas I was into the hobby to the point where I wanted a Topps factory set.

**Which I still have fully-loaded with Topps cards at my parents’ house.

***Also a handful of reprints of the most-valuable baseball cards of all time—T206 Wagner, T206 Plank, 1933 Goudey Lajoie, etc.—with back information that explained the cards and why they were so sought after.

I’ve been sad that no such sets exist now since I wanted my 8-year-old son to have the same experience as a way to both have some cards of the Hall of Famers as well as a way to learn about them. The closest I could find was the 2012 Panini Cooperstown set so that’s what Santa brought him last Christmas. He enjoyed it and I’m glad he has them before the inevitable desire for “real” cards kicks in.

The 1986 and 1987 Fleers are all Fleer update. The big names are missing but these are still fun to have. It’s nice to add another Atlee card to my collection and I’m digging the low angle photography on the Aldrete and Quiñones cards.

More Fleer Update. And more Topps Big. Highlight in this batch is the Kevin Mitchell Post card. I have a few cards from this set but no Giants. So getting my first Giants card is a lot of fun.

Also, that 1989 Fleer Update Jeff Brantley is an uncorrected error. When I saw it I realized that there was no way that that photo was of Brantley. Googling around shows that it’s a photo of Joe Kmak instead.

And into the 1990s. The 1992 French’s card is my favorite. Shane and I both appreciate good oddballs but recognize that the thing about oddball collecting is that getting all of them is a fool’s errand and it’s more fun to share the wealth by keeping just have a page-worth or your team and sending the rest off to other people who appreciate them. That French’s set is also interesting since all the cards feature two players.

The 1991 Bowman Shot Heard Round the World card is also great. There are signed versions floating around out there but I like this one as much as my 1961 Baseball Scoops card. The Barry Bond Sportflics card is fun as well; rather than in-game action, Bonds is drinking Gatorade. And I’d totally forgotten about the Deion Sanders year since that was the post-strike season and I had drifted out of the game a bit.

Also it’s fun to see the early 1990s and be reminded of how much big a deal Matt Williams was. He kind of gets forgotten because we think of the team transitioning from Will Clark to Barry Bonds and forget how monster a year he was having in 1994. But I think all Giants fans from my generation remember him fondly and like seeing special inserts which feature him rather than the endless Bonds cards Topps bombarded us with over the following decade.

To the early 2000s. Not too much to say about these though it surprises me to see how long some of the Topps card lineups have been in existence. I didn’t quite realize that Opening Day was 20 years old now. For a set that still feels like it doesn’t know what it is I’m kind of amazed that it’s had that staying power.

Heritage on the other hand has been in its current form now for 18 years. Looking at these older versions is interesting in how it shows how Topps is trying to figure out whether to replicate the old cards or just use the designs with new photography.

The 1954 design in particular looks wonderful still. As a Giants fan and collector, I’m especially happy to see other, brighter colors used in the backgrounds since the Giants only got white and yellow backgrounds originally. The 1957 design though looks like Topps tried to do some sort of aging filter on the photos to make them look vintage/faded. Not a good look especially since the content of the photos—all in-game action—goes against the vintage look.

The other card which deserves special reference is the Upper Deck 40-man card of Jeff Kent and the 2002 World Series Game 5. That series is still painful to me but every time I encounter references to it in baseball card land I find myself increasingly happy to be reminded of how good that season was and the silver lining that our first World Series win in San Francisco wasn’t tainted by steroids.

The 1958 design is another one that doesn’t work for me in Heritage. A lot of this is printing related this time. None of the inks are solid and the end result feels more like a weaksauce copy rather than a true update or homage. There’s also the fact that the black jerseys really don’t fit the Heritage look at all. Too modern for such a dated design.

The 1961 designs though work a lot better. This is partially because that design is so photocentric that good photography will carry it. Topps also didn’t overprocess things like it did when using the 1957 designs. And the printing uses solid inks in the graphic elements where it’s supposed to so the color pops correctly.

Other cards of note here are the Goodwin Champions minis. I like these so much more than the Topps206 minis and even many of the Allen&Ginter Minis I’ve received in other mailings. White uniforms. Not over-processed. Photos are chosen and cropped to fit the cards really well.

And there are two cards of Giants stadiums. It’s nice to see a Pac Bell (or SBC or AT&T or whatever it was called in 2010) card and it’s wonderful to see a Candlestick card—especially on which shows the ’Stick before it got enclosed.

Continuing into the 2010s. Highlight here is the Pablo Sandoval 3D card. Not sure what set those came in or how rare it is but it’s very very cool and isn’t lenticular the way the Kellogg’s cards were. Looks like I need to update my previous post.

The TriStar Obak minis are also cool. Not technically Giants cards but they’re going in that album just the same. When I go off the deep end into Pacific Coast League cards I’ll move these out along with my two Zeenuts. But I’m a long way off on starting any new projects.

And more Topps Heritage. The 1962 designs look great with the posed photos and white uniforms. The 1963s have enough bright color to look okay but the black jerseys again bother me—especially in the small circle photo.

And that Topps206 card of Buster Posey meanwhile is one of the worst cards I’ve ever seen.

Lots more Topps Heritage. Lots more black jerseys—especially in the 1966 design cards. I know these are all shot in Spring Training but it’s such a bush league look. I do however continue to find myself loving the 1965 design more and more.

And to the most-recent cards. Another Shot Heard Round the World card—very cool. And a World Series Celebration card from 2017. This is an ugly card and a lousy insert set yet any fans of the teams featured will like having samples of their celebrations.

Shane also sent a few oversize items. These two confused me for a bit. They’re regional oddballs. The Rick Burleson is a 1976 Star Markets Red Sox issue. It’s about 6×9″ on super-thin paper. The George Strickland is a 1970 Kansas City postcard. I’m not as hardcore about these things as Shane is but they’re always cool to have be reminded of how different sports collecting is on a local level.

The other oversize item is a 3-in-1 promotional panel for 2010 Topps Heritage. The back isn’t much to look at (just an advertisement) but it’s interesting that the front panel consists of two manager cards.* This isn’t exactly the kind of panel that’s going to get collectors’ hearts racing but I appreciate it as a Giants fan from a 201o first World Series point of view.

*The Bochy card was also included in this haul as well.

Also given how Topps has stopped making manager cards even in Heritage this piece serves as a reminder of how manager cards are a good thing which should be brought back.

I’m glad I already have a stack going for a return trade package. I’ll continue to let it grow for a while but even then it won’t be as cool as this one. Still, I’ll hopefully have a few oddballs and Red Sox cards Shane needs. Thanks!

Donruss Champions from @REALjtCarter

One of the things that amazes me most about the card community on Twitter is not just everyone’s generosity but how immediate that generosity is. The most-recent example of this is a package from Jason (@REALjtCarter) consisting of a bunch of packs of Donruss Champions. A week ago another Twitter contact received a similar package and I responded with an enthusiastic “Cool! I never saw these when I was little.” And that was enough for me to get an offer for my own package of cards from someone who I wasn’t even following at the time.

The reason I responded to these cards in the first place was because my general approach to Twitter is to be excited about when people share things; following the first rule of improv comedy is a very healthy way to internet. For a set released by one of the three main card companies of the 1980s to be something I’d never come across is noteworthy and exciting—especially when it’s a set of oversized cards.

It’s hard to tell in a photo but these are 3.5×5″—exactly twice the size of a standard card. I’ve always been a sucker for oversized cards and these are pretty nice in how photo-centric they are.* The checklist is a who’s-who of early 1980s baseball which, while not representing the time period I was a big time fan is a great mix of well-established stars from my youth with aging all-time greats.

*The less saids about the early-1980s offset printing the better.

Carl Hubbell is the only one Giant in the set and I was pleased to see him peering at me from the top of one pack. Somewhat amazingly for 1980s pack collation, I found no duplicates between these packs so I now have 25 of the 60 cards in this set including Wade Boggs, Cy Young, Mike Schmidt, Gaylord Perry, Bert Blyleven, and Rod Carew.

Jason didn’t just stop there though and included three team bags full of Giants cards as well. Most of these were newer cards but there were a couple dozen “old” ones as well. The most noteworthy ones for me are the three Baseball Card Magazine versions of 1960s Topps designs. I’ve seen photos of those but had never come across any real-life samples before.

This entire batch of cards is amazingly solid in terms of not having many duplicates with my childhood collection. I’m pretty sure that 90% of these are new to my collection—including all the Topps cards.

The 1993 minis are fun (I have the 1991 and 1992 sets but didn’t get the 1993 one). Topps Gold is always appreciated as a throwback to the age when parallels were just beginning  and hadn’t been beaten into the ground yet. 1993 Donruss is a set which I didn’t collect much at all so I have just a few representative packs. And that Studio 91 Garrelts card is great; it’s wonderful to see a photo of him without his glasses on. I need to get more of this set since I still like the photography in it.

A bunch of assorted Bowman, Fleer, Skybox, Leaf, Donruss and Panini cards. I still don’t understand Bowman as a brand but I’m happy to get Giants prospects and I’m glad it exists for my Stanford Project. Skybox and Leaf are both mid-90s releases which would’ve been out of my price range at the time if I were still collecting cards. But most everything here are not just cards I don’t have but come from sets which I don’t have any examples from either.

Of this batch I have to admit that the super-shiny silver Leafs catch my eye despite my typical aversion to that kind of shiny stuff.  I also have to admit that as much as I complain about being unable to distinguish the Topps designs from 2009–2014, the Bowman designs demonstrate how much worse that can be. Oh and it’s always fun to come across a Christy Mathewson card

Most of my modern collection is Topps. This is partly due to the amount of upheaval in the other brands in the 1990s and 2000s and partly due to how it seems like Topps duplicates are what everyone ends up with. So I have none of these Upper Deck cards and it’s quite possible these are all the first examples from these sets too.

Looking at these and even the designs which are overkill have me missing Upper Deck in today’s baseball card universe. As much as I’m a Topps guy, I readily admit that Upper Deck had its own style which would be a welcome change of pace today.

And finally to cards which I’m more likely to have dupes of. Though still not as many as would be expected. The 2001 Bobby Thomson card is great. It’s always nice to see 2010 cards and be reminded of that first World Series team. And that Gaylord Perry reprint rookie card is likely as close as I’ll ever get to the real thing. I’m also mostly unfamiliar with the Bazooka cards so that’s a noteworthy addition too.

2012–2014 continues the good Giants memories both with the 2012 and 2014 teams as well as the celebration card in 2013. Not much to say about these except to note that I enjoyed the Spot the Difference card and it took me a bit too long to find that the bat knob was missing on one side.

And 2016–2018 takes us into the full-bleed years. Putting them all together this way confirms how much better the 2018 design and photography are.  The Holiday cards are still bizarre to me even though I think I prefer the snowflakes to the needless smoke design in Flagship.

Anyway all told and including the duplicates that Jason included in this package I only ended up with 15 dupes at the end of sorting.* This is pretty damn amazing out of a batch of ~140 cards and I need to start saving Reds cards to send a thank you package back.

*This is a slight undercount since some cards like the Austin Slater 2017 Update card can fit in multiple albums so duplicates are appreciated.

More 2018s from Tony

Tony is one of the first guys I became friends with on baseball card twitter. He runs two card blogs, his main blog is Off Hiatus and covers his Milwaukee and Brewers collecting focus. His second though, Collecting the 80s, covers 1980s oddballs and it’s in oddball land that we’ve had a lot of fun.

One of the best parts of collecting cards in the 80s and early 90s was how so many different food products, magazines, etc had cards in them. Many of these releases were extremely regional and it’s been really interesting to compare notes with other collectors around the country to discover what cards and sets they grew up with and how different those were compared to what I grew up with.*

*I’ve posted previously about Mother’s Cookies both on SABR and my own blog.

I’ve been meaning to put a trade package together for Tony but it’s been really hard. Most of my duplicates are from the peak junk wax days of the late 80s and early 90s. And the fact that Tony’s collecting focus happens to be the Brewers means I haven’t been able to come across any new cards to send him either. It’s rough out there if you support a “small market” team. Topps is increasingly focusing its new products on big-name teams and players and while I understand the business reasons for this it also feels extremely shortsighted since there are plenty of baseball fans out there who hate the big market teams and are getting increasingly tired of the dominance of Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers cards.

Tony proudly identifies as a member of that group and has been pretty vocal with Topps about how disappointed he is with their new products and wouldn’t be buying any of them. so of course he won a free box of 2018 Series 1 cards. And of course I found myself laughing at him about it. He got a decent box with a good number of Brewers cards in it. But even after getting a huge head start on the set he decided to stick to his guns and get rid of all the cards he didn’t want.

He was gracious enough to send me his Giants* so now I have seven of the Giants cards in Series 1. Since Peter sent me a couple of Poseys and Cuetos already I now have enough duplicates now to give my sons their first 2018 cards without causing any sibling strife.

*I need to figure out what black magic he used to send a bubble mailer for a buck.

I remain impressed by the photography in this set. It’s noticeably more varied and seems less preoccupied in getting extreme exertion faces and more about catching details like what grip the pitcher is using.

Also, hello Christian Arroyo. We hardly knew you and now you’re already gone. I have such mixed feelings about those orange jerseys. I love them as jerseys by themselves. They really pop on the card. But I hate them as part of the official uniform (though they’re worlds better than the black jerseys).

My favorite card of the batch is the Brandon Belt. First, this year’s design works way better in horizontal formats than previous years’ designs did. It doesn’t feel like the graphic is eating up half the card and the ground fog effect is much much more subtle. I still wish they’d stop using that filter though. What I’m most interested in though is the photograph and how it’s clearly shot from the stands rather than the photographers’ well next to the field.

Looking at the other photos from that game shows that this is the only one shot at that angle. I’m really curious what the photographer was doing to get this shot. Or perhaps there’s something really weird down the first base line at Petco that I’m not familiar with.

Tony also included a Stephen Piscotty card for my Stanford binder. Between this card and the Jed Lowrie from Peter, my Stanford checklist for Series 1 is already all checked off. It’ll be interesting to see who shows up in Series 2. And I do expect to see another Piscotty card in Update showing him with the A’s.

Thanks Tony! One of these days I’ll get enough Brewers cards to send you a thank you package in return.

First 2018s

While I have yet to get any new packs of 2018 Topps, I’ve been encouraged by the generally positive reaction I’m seeing across the web and have been feeling increasingly curious about what they actually look like in hand. I was initially hesitant about buying any new product and since my local Target hasn’t had any in stock, I haven’t even had a choice about whether or not buy.

Thankfully though I didn’t have to wait for my local Target to even get anything in stock. Peter at Baseball Every Night couldn’t resist busting a few packs to celebrate the new season and was kind enough to send me a plain white envelope of cards he didn’t want.

So these two Giants count as my first 2018 cards. I’m still not feeling the waterslide design but I appreciate that it’s less intrusive than previous years’ designs and fits the full-bleed look much better. The photography is also noticeably more interesting. Cueto’s is most-similar to previous years’ shots of slightly-too-closely-cropped action but I love the detail where it looks like we can see he probably just threw a circle change.

Posey’s is a little oddly cropped for me. Topps still likes to center players within the card rather than suggesting movement within the frame. All too often you can see in the original images that there’s plenty of space for a more dynamic framing. The photo of Posey is no exception. I want to move him a quarter inch to the right, get the full mask in the frame, and give him space to look into. Still, the shot itself is more interesting than the usual full-exertion swing we’ve had the past years.

Peter was nice enough to include doubles of these so my kids will also get a chance to start their 2018 card collection without having to spend money or, if they do, be disappointed if they don’t get any Giants in their packs.

Jed Lowrie is part of my Stanford project. I like this card a lot. Again a more interesting image with lots of small details—like the extra pair of gloves in his back pocket—to notice.

And yeah, the fronts of these are very nice and suggest that there’s a lot more variety in the photo selections this year. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these cards over the next few months.

The backs though? Sigh. I didn’t scan anything because they’re pretty boring. I miss having complete stats. My 8-year-old even complains about this. He wants to know where the players have played each year they’ve been in the majors (and ideally, each year in the minors too). It’s funny, I liked the stats when I was a kid.  He, however, likes the story about where in the country each player has played and how the different minor league levels fit into the club organization.

Also, the huge amount of space devoted to twitter and instagram handles is going to age horribly. I know it’s a little silly to complain about the future of these cards but at the same time, much of the allure of this hobby is how it’s part of a history of card collecting. There aren’t many things now that kids can share with their grandparents this way* and those social media handles won’t age nearly as well as the cartoons from the 1950s have.

*As much as I make old man jokes this is what I love about the hobby too.

The last card is a Buster Posey insert. I’m increasingly disenchanted by all the inserts. Yes, I guess I’m glad that they’re inserts instead of yet another set to buy, but the explosion in insert sets was something that helped to push me out of the hobby 25 years ago. There are just so many of them now that most of the people in the hobby who I follow now just mail them to whoever they know collects that team.

I’ve tended to pull Dodgers inserts and have sent them off to Night Owl. Peter seems to get Giants one so I’m the lucky beneficiary. It’s good. They end up in my Giants album and I enjoy them there. But they’re just not something I’m excited to pull from a pack. The inserts are almost invariably over-designed and as I’ve gotten older I find myself liking cards for the photography more than a anything else.

@mjpmke set me up the bomb

Holy moly. Matt (@mjpmke) sent me a surprise 400-count box of cards. It was packed with team bags and bubble wrap so it ended up being ~200 cards. And good lord they all happened to be great.

Most of the box consisted of about 120 1978 Topps cards. This takes my set progress close to 50% complete. While I’ve still got mostly commons, Matt was kind enough to throw in a decent number of star cards in this batch including the Jack Morris rookie among a handful of Hall of Famers.

I’m fast approaching the point now where I need to consider getting a dedicated set binder and paging everything with empty spots for the missing cards. Looking over my current checklist shows that I don’t yet have a completed page and that I would still have one empty page. When I change both of those statuses is when I’ll dedicate a single binder to this.

Most of the rest of the box consisted of a huge batch of Pacific barajitas. It’s not a ton of cards but these don’t seem to be commonly available as lots. That Spanish-language Pro Set card sent me down a rabbit hole of Spanish-language baseball cards. I grabbed a Topps Zest set last year but most of my attention has been in learning about the 1994–2001 Pacific issues.

I had a handful before this mailday—a few Giants here, a few Stanford guys there. It was nice to have them as samples but they didn’t really provide a sense of the set and brand. The nine 1994s are fun. The ~40 1995s though are wonderful. Where 1993 and 1994 feel very much like baby steps into proper card production, 1995 is a legitimate set which has some interesting photography—I especially like the Ozzie Smith card—and feels like a demonstration of Pacific’s subsequent branding.

The 1996–1999 sets continue that sense with the gaudy graphics and overdone foil stamping. These designs aren’t my cup of tea but there are things about all of them that I like and there’s a certain distinctiveness in the identity that I appreciate.

Matt also included a couple dozen Giants cards. A decent amount of junk wax coupled with a few newer cards. I probably have a few of these but many look completely unfamiliar to me. Of the batch I especially like Duracell oddball and the Matt Williams Pacific. But it’s also fun to have another diecut even though I still don’t understand the point of these. And I like the Will Clark Studio card and the Triple Play with the Turn Back the Clock uniform.

The last card in the box deserves a special mention. The Christie Mathewson mini is here because I forgot to photograph it with the rest of the Giants cards, but the Jorge Campos 1994 World Cup card is one of the few non-baseball cards that really strikes a chord with me. If 1994 marks the point where my baseball fandom took an irreparable hit, it also marks where I jumped seriously into soccer.

Attending the World Cup was just part of it. But between learning much more about the sport via high school soccer and watching all the World Cup games on TV, I came out of the summer of 1994 totally down on baseball and totally up on soccer. Jorge Campos, while not a huge star of the cup, was a clear star for all of us youth soccer players in California. Having a card of his is a fantastic reminder of that summer and my youth playing the game.

This 1994 Upper Deck set is the kind of thing I can see myself grabbing random singles of players I remember fondly from the World Cup—Romario and Hristo (it should be no surprise I ended up a Barcelona fan), Bebeto, Bergkamp, Valderrama—and the rest of my mid-1990s early soccer fandom.

Anyway this whole box was awesome and I need to get my return package of 1978s for Matt’s set chase put together and into the post.