Category Archives: trades

A pair of PWEs

What’s more fun than a random plain white envelope mailday? When you get two plain white envelopes with cards inside. The first envelope is from Colbey (@flywheels) who blogs at Cardboard Collections. Colbey runs a monthly (or so) cheap base-card-centered box break. I’ve joined a few and been pleased by the outcomes. For a couple bucks I can get a Giants team set or two as well as random second team which may or may not hit my project interests.

It’s a fun way to catch up on cards that I either have never heard of or won’t be going out of my way to get. I don’t normally blog about cards I purchase and breaks generally fall into that category. The latest break however didn’t fill completely so Colbey ended up with a bunch of extra teams and was nice enough to send me a handful of cards of Stanford guys from those teams.

The latest break was 1994 Select and 1995 Score Series 2. I had the Giants and the A’s and in addition to getting a complete set of Giants cards also got a handful of the 1995 Gold Rush cards as well. The A’s sets weren’t complete but had a bunch of guys I remember from my youth as well. I’m very pleased.

Getting the McCarty and Sprague cards are just icing on the cake. I kind of dig the Select design even though there are lots of problems in it. But the photos are interesting and I like the way it uses team colors for the duotone image.*

*No it’s not actually a duotone. That would be awesome. It’s only a 4-color pseudotone. And why yes of course I louped it.

1995 is a set I don’t like much but enjoy having. The gold parallels are surprisingly nice though. I normally don’t like that kind of thing but in this case they’re a huge improvement

Colbey also included this 1989 Cap’n Crunch card. It’s kind of hideous in a wonderful way. I wish Panini were doing things like this instead of the Diamond Kings since anything logoless makes me get all excited for food issues. It is weird to see a logoless Topps set though.

Thanks Colbey for both running the breaks and being generous with the extras! And if anyone else is interested in cheap base-card-centered breaks give @flywheels a follow or subscribe to his blog.

The other envelope was from Peter. Just a few cards in it but very much appreciated.

Two Willie Mays cards form the 1990s. One of the weird things for me about the 90s is how retired legends started to show up more and more on checklists. When I started collecting you had to go to TCMA or Pacific to get those cards and they were clearly not Real™ cards. Don’t get me wrong, they were wonderful for me as a kid to get cards of Hall of Famers which I could learn from. But they were kind of afterthoughts to the flagship sets of the time.

All that changed in the 1990s when more and more cards featuring retired players became part of flagship releases. It’s still weird for me to see them show up in sets yet at the same time I still feel that giddy thrill that comes with holding a Willie Mays card.

The reason Peter sent me this envelope though was to get me this Jay Bell card. It’s one thing to get a regular junk wax card autographed. It’s quite another to hand a guy a card featuring him milking a cow on artificial turf. He’d just received it in a mailing himself and I had commented that that was exactly the kind of thing I should bring to a Thunder game. One week later it showed up in my mailbox just in time for me to go to a game the following night. Did I get it signed? Tune in to tomorrow’s post.

Thanks Peter! A PWE is always fun to find. But one with a cow card is extra special.

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Diamond Kings from Dub

One of the most important lessons of the modern card-collecting landscape is to learn that you cannot collect everything and, by extension, which specific sets are your thing and which ones are not. Panini’s current crop of unlicensed logoless sets? Very much not my thing. Diamond Kings’ with their photos that have been altered to look like paintings and crazy colored backgrounds? Also not my thing. And that’s not even getting into the way that these checklists are like 100 cards.

Still, I’ve been seeing lots of people opening packs and boxes and posting their hits and despite not feeling any compulsion to buy this product, I’ve noticed some extremely interesting things going on with the way it’s been produced. The paper looks to have a texture and the finish is not the usual gloss UV coating. While I don’t need a pack, I recognized that I’d probably end up acquiring a common or two so as to investigate how they were made.

Enter Joey/@DubMentality who, in addition to being one of the most generous guys on card twitter with regard to sending cards to people, has a personal blog dedicated to the junk wax glory days and also pops up on other sites writing about newer sets. I especially like his series on Beckett where he interviews card shop proprietors. Anyway I’d responded to his review of Diamond Kings with a few comments/questions about the production and he popped a plain white envelope full of Giants in the mail for me so I could answer them myself.

Said PWE arrived yesterday so in addition to now feeling like part of the club to have received a mailday from Joey, I’m happy to add some Giants cards I never intended to buy to the binders and geek out on some printing and production.

First impressions? Interesting. I’m still not a fan of the general design with the photoshopped painting effect that couldn’t even fix McCutchen’s jersey to have orange highlights and not be obviously the Pirates, but these work a lot better in person than they do in photos. The whole effect—paper finish, Photoshop filter, color palette—shows a lot more consideration than the autopilot design process that many of Topps’s sets seem to display. That said, it’s pretty clear that the smoke/unpainted portion of the cards is exactly the same card-to-card so there’s still a lot of templating going on in ways that undermine the intended effect.

Printproductionwise though these are super interesting. The cardboard itself is indeed textured. Looking at all the photos everyone else was posting I thought it was like a linen uncoated stock.* In person I can see it’s actually coated stock which feels closer to the cambric texture on casino-quality playing cards.** The coating allows for much more vibrant colors*** and Panini has wisely decided to varnish the cards rather than UV coat them so as to not bury the texture beneath a layer of plastic.

*The framed “hit” cards appear to use an uncoated laid stock for the frame and the pair of textures works surprisingly well for me. Also getting images of paper textures online is surprisingly hard to find. However Wikipedia’s Laid article isn’t bad. The Linenizing one on the otherhand…

**Typically the Bee brand. Cambric is a more fabric-looking texture as opposed to the more-familar air-cushion texture on Bicycle cards.

***I was half-expecting something less contrasty like 1996 or 1997 Fleer.

The result is cards that don’t have that distinctive UV coated smell that bursts out of most packs and which, because of the paper texture, actually sort of look like paintings. I was surprised to see that I didn’t mind the logolessness with these. Something about the painting effect means that small details don’t have to be there.

Where the base cards don’t grab me, the Orlando Cepeda Gallery of Stars card is wonderful and captures some of the old-school Diamond Kings appeal. Yes it’s not actually a painting but something about this—whether it’s the pose or the cropping—feels more like what this style is supposed to look like.

While not something I’d want a huge set of, as an insert or insert set it’s massively successful. It’s not supposed to look like a regular baseball card, it’s supposed to look like a Diamond King. And it does. The cambric texture isn’t necessary but it’s a fantastic level of detail which seals the deal.

On feEling and handling

When I was scanning these cards for the post, because of the texture and the way it made me think of playing cards, instead of immediately returning these to the penny sleeves that Joey sent them in I gathered up the four cards into a stack and quickly thumbed them from one hand to the other in the way I’d look at my hand in Hearts or Bridge. They feel great. No sticking like a lot of the UV coated sets. No constant awareness of the surface of the card the way a lot of junk wax (but even Heritage) feels. These just glide from hand-to-hand in a way that makes me want to continue to handle them.

It’s massively appealing in a tactile way that I’ve never encountered before with baseball cards. There’s a certain joy in ripping open a pack and shuffling through your brand new stack; the way the cards feel against each other is such a key component of that sensation. A fresh pack of Diamond Kings must feel amazing.

So now I kind of want a set of cards which is designed to be held and sorted and resorted rather than hermetically sealed aside from the brief moment between opening the packs and paging the pile.

Stadium Club mailday!

Stadium Club is a set which I really love. As a photography geek I appreciate how much more varied the images are and how they’re often the things which we don’t see on regular cards. It’s a set which reminds me of how interesting baseball cards can be and gives me hope for the future of the hobby.

Unfortunately, I started running into tons of duplicates very quickly last year. Before I even had a third of the set complete I had purchased a hanger pack which was 100% duplicates. Not impressive. I mentally expect a duplication rate roughly comparable to the percent of the set which I have completed. Getting a pack of 100% duplicates so early was my sign to stop buying the product.

Jenny Miller (@JennyMiller521) is a relatively new arrival to card twitter and card blogging but she hit the ground running with positive contributions to the community, some nice cheap card sales, and a bit of trading. She got a lot further in her Stadium Club set build than I did but one of the last handful of cards she was missing was one of the stack of duplicates I’d ended up with. So I sent it off in a plain white envelope since it’s always nice to help someone complete their set.

As a response, Jenny got ahold of my set need list and realized she could help me out with a ton of my missing Stadium Club. And by a ton I mean a ton.

This is extremely generous and I’m going to have to figure out a proper response to thank her. There’s too much here to go one-by-one through each card but this is a set which I’ll just enjoy looking through. Action shots, posed shots, candid shots, telephoto shots, wide shots, pre-game shots, post-game shots, there’s so much variety in the images reflecting the variety in the game.

With Topps having an exclusive license which gives them almost a monopoly on current baseball cards, we’ve lost a lot of the variety in photo editing that we had in the 80s and 90s. Fleer, Score, and Upper Deck in particular all had very different taste in what kind of images they felt made good cards and together they forced Topps to up its game by 1991. Now, most of the Topps sets can almost be defined by their dominant photo style. Heritage harks back to the exclusively-posed images of the 1960s. Flagship meanwhile is mostly tightly-cropped action and exertion.

Stadium Club though has a bit of everything. It’s going to be interesting next year when Heritage moves to the 1970 design since that year’s photography has a bit of everything too.

Oddballs from Tony

Over Easter weekend Tony (@OffHiatusBBC) put out a call for searchlists. I flagged mine and late last week a package arrived. Given Tony’s focus on oddballs there were a lot of great things inside—including a bunch of cards I’ve never even heard of.

Nice to get another 1987 Opening Day card. That’s such a weird set but with every passing year where sets lose more and more of a sense of identity it’s wonderful to see a set with such a concise description—in this case literally the entire MLB opening day starting lineup.

Topps Big is always welcome. I love the late-80s take on the 1956 design and these cards still look great. It’s also nice to finish my Giants team set of 1991 Stadium Club. Stadium Club was one of those sets which I loved at the time even though I couldn’t afford it. Full-bleed cards and a more photographic look were super cool to me at the time. They’re kind of quaint now but serve as a nice reminder of where we’ve come from.

I’d never heard of Holsum Bread let alone the discs. These are cool and totally up my alley as an unlicensed regional food issue in a funky shape. The only problem is that they‘re slightly too big to fit in a 9-pocket sheet. I’d also not heard of the Jimmie Dean cards but at least I’ve heard of the brand. Anyway the five Holsum and Jimmie Dean cards are the highlight of this package.

The last card in this photo is a 2013 Tim Lincecum variant. Not sure how Tony knew I didn’t have this but I didn’t and I’m very happy to have it now.

Tony also included the 11 Will Clark cards in the Playball USA set. I have no idea what these are. They’re not food issues and the backs feel like unlicensed Broders At first I thought these were part of a game but I no longer that’s the case. Anyway the 11-card player set thing reminds me of those Star sets which were all over in the late 80s and early 90s.

And the two silver cards are 1992 Upper Deck MVP holograms of Will Clark and Dave Righetti. While some holograms scan nicely these do not. They look good in person though and I’m a sucker for any of those all-hologram cards that Upper Deck released in the early 90s.

Most of the package though was 1990 Upper Deck. I really like this set as a huge improvement over 1989 both photo-wise and design-wise. I will be pursuing it at some point but it’s always good to have an extra team set for the binder too.

Yes there are two Padres cards in here. This happens fairly frequently actually. The Padres and Giants logos and colors were close enough in the 80s/90s that things could be confusing at a first glance. I’ve had the same thing happen with random Pirates cards sneaking into maildays as well.

Thanks Tony! As I detailed in my previous post about your 2018 mailday I will be setting aside Brewers for you when I get them. Which is rarely. But I’ll find a way to get a return package to you eventually.

#CardboardChaos

This past month Cards From the Attic has been running a bracket on Twitter pitting various baseball card sets against each other. As with many things on the web, it kind of morphed into its own thing and much of my Twitter feed was taken over with #CardboardChaos tweets.

It was interesting to see the tournament progress. Many of us on card twitter have feelings about what sets are better than others—sometimes it’s tied up with nostalgia to what sets we grew up collecting, other times it’s just a strong opinion about what we think a good card should look like. The early rounds in particular were a lot of fun both for voting and seeing everyone’s opinions about each match up.

As the later rounds progressed though things got a little weird. Upper Deck jumped in and started lobbying heavily for its single entry. And it seems like a lot of people’s voting started to be about which brand they liked or disliked rather than the sets at hand. By the time the final matchup between 1989 Upper Deck and 1956 Topps started, it felt more like a Twitter referendum on whether or not you approved of how Topps is managing the hobby.

It’s funny. I both enjoyed the polling more before the brands got involved but I also feel like this was a massive opportunity for the brands to interact with a lot of passionate collectors. I understand why Topps didn’t jump in. I also think that not jumping in demonstrates much of why so many collectors are dissatisfied with the company.

There’s an increasing sense that Topps doesn’t care about the casual collector—let alone the kids. Packs are increasingly hunts for variants or hits or parallels or inserts rather than set building.* If you’re not a fan of a big-market team there are decent odds you’ll have only a couple cards on a checklist. In short, Topps feels out-of-touch from what a lot of collectors seem to want.

*All those special cards ruin the hobby because they both raise prices and encourage pack searching.

So yeah, the final match was often about everything except the cards and there’s been a lot of dissappointing fall out from it as people seem either even more upset at Topps, annoyed at Upper Deck for spoiling things, or upset at @CardsFromAttic for how he ran the whole tournament. @CardsFromAttic hasn’t helped either with an overly-broad, offensively-worded subtweet at many of his critics which read like it was attacking many of the people who initially supported the tournament. This was no longer as much fun.

I wasn’t as upset as many people were. For months now I’ve had @CardsFromAttic over in that provocateur category where I don’t feel the urge to respond to everything he posts. Yes the R-word is no longer acceptable. But I agree with his general point about how people like to complain and complain about what Topps is doing but still spend a ton of money on product. I’m not going to carp on anyone who enjoys ripping new product but if you don’t seem to enjoy it but keep on buying? I question your decision making.

I’ve been less impressed at the discourse in response to @CardsFromAttic’s tweet though—especially in the way he’s been doubling down on driving many of his early supporters away when they call out the offensive language. I know I don’t agree politically with many people on card twitter but it’s especially disappointing to see the hypocritical rhetoric belittling safe spaces which only comes from people who can’t handle criticism.

Still despite the sour ending, for the most part I enjoyed this. Seeing which sets did well gave me a good sense about the sets other collectors have experience with and which sets have a certain aura about them.* And it also served to confirm that I’m not alone in my inexperience with 1950s Bowman cards—an area I intend to learn about and collect more than the handful of cards I currently own.

*This would be 1952 Topps but 1989 Upper Deck also fits this bill.

While the tournament was going on, @CardsFromAttic was running a number of giveaways to both increase participation and reward active participants. These ran the gamut from 1950s cards to brand-new boxes of Topps Heritage. I was lucky enough to win a prize pack of 40 cards from 1965–1978.

The 1960s cards were five each from 1965, 1968, and 1969. 1965 is a beautiful set which, while I’m not chasing or even considering chasing it, is one which I’d love to have a page or two worth of samples to just be able to see all the different colors together. This batch of five is nice in that it includes two cards which are relevant to my moves/expansion project. 1965 is the last year the Braves were in Milwaukee so I appreciate acquiring any samples of 1965 Braves. And it’s nice to pick up random Senators cards as well. That it also includes a White Sox and Cards card makes me think of my first SABR post as well.

1968 is a less-appealing set but it’s nice to have enough samples to have a full binder page now. Thankfully only two of this sample are Topps hatless specials.

The 1969s are a great batch. The Gene Mauch Expos card is another for the moves/expansion collection and the three Astros* cards are encouraging me to look for 1969 and 1970 cards of Ball Four guys.

*That the cards say “Houston” instead of Astros has been a subject of some debate on card twitter as there’s a bit of a legend about Monsanto (who, let’s face it, is always worth blaming for something) threatening to sue anyone who used the name “Astro” due to its association with Astroturf and there’s also some information out there suggesting that Houston itself was trying to charge Topps for the right to use the name—a revenue stream that MLB would only tap much later with it’s licensing.

Don Wilson only shows up in the epilogue of the book as a former teammate who Bouton mentions has died. Hector Torres meanwhile only appears once as a poor bastard who gets hit in the eye with a thrown helmet. Johnny Edwards though is a great card because he’s a featured lyric in Proud to be an Astro.

Now, Edwards is our catcher and he’s really No. 1,
Dave Bristol said he drinks too much and calls some long home runs,
But we think John will be all right,
If we keep him in his room at night,
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro.

In fact I got TWO Johnny Edwards cards, one 1969 and one 1970. There’s also a 1970 Senators card in here of 1965 MVP Zoilo Versalles to go in the moves/expansion binder as well as a card of former Giants manager Bill Rigney.

The 1973s are a nice batch with no egregious airbrushing or bizarre action shots but the exciting batch is the 1975 minis. These are always welcome and always fun but the Vida Blue is an especially nice card and the Ted Simmons isn’t far behind. These go right into the oddballs binder.

The last batch in this set was ten 1978s. As I’m just over 50% complete with this set I was pleased that this batch included five cards I needed—and three others were upgrades on the cards I had.

So all in all a very fun batch of cards to receive and a big thank you to @CardsFromAttic for spending so much time on this all March. It’s a shame that it all took a turn for the worse in April.

Atlee surprise

One of the things I’ve especially enjoyed about Twitter is the way the multiracial community exists on there. While many of us, correctly, are leery of being lumped into a single box, there’s a lot of value in comparing experiences and seeing how so many of them feel familiar. I haven’t blogged a ton about this kind of thing except when it overlaps with my other interests like photography and baseball (and baseball cards) since it’s tough to do well.

Aside from being a level of personal exposure which is hard in and of itself to write, let alone share, one of the things I’ve taken to heart the most about being multiracial is that the stories I’m often most inspired by are stories where my reaction risks erasing someone else’s experience. All too often the safer thing is to be quiet and not pin my narrative to someone else’s.

The result of this is that I also never expect the things I do write about my multiracial experience to be commented on outside of people I know. The experiences are worth sharing but I suspect that we all feel similar levels of trepidation about recentering them to be about ourselves as well. That the multiracial community doesn’t overlap much with baseball card twitter meant that while I liked what I wrote about Atlee Hammaker, I certainly didn’t expect to find that it touched anyone else in card twitter.

And then Carl (@CeeMX97) started following me. He’s a Phillies fan about an hour south of me down I295 who’s similarly multiracial to me. Aside from talking baseball or cards we’ve also commiserated about things from the dire situation for Japanese and Korean food in New Jersey to how our Asian flush has gotten worse as we’ve aged. Needless to say, my Atlee post touched a nerve with him to the point where earlier this week I found a small envelope with a bunch of Atlee Hammaker cards inside.

Nothing fancy here but since most of my existing Atlee collection is tied up with my Giants collection it’s nice to have duplicates to flesh out the few non-Giants cards of his I’ve got (basically just his rookie card and his 1991 Studio card).

I’m no supercollector but I appreciate having a dedicated Atlee section in my binder. It’s a nice reminder of the ways that my new collection interacts with my childhood one and the difference in perspective that I have now.

Carl also included two signed cards in the package. He does a bit of through-the-mail (TTM) requesting and often includes duplicate cards in his requests for the players to keep. Often the players do keep the extras but other times, like in these cases, it seems that they signed and returned everything.

I’ve been toying with the idea of taking up TTM requests myself. It’s something I can see enjoying by sending to guys I grew up with. It’s also something I can see doing with my kids as a way of encouraging them to write letters and engage with this hobby more. Chris Speier is one of the guys at the top of my “to try” list for reasons I’ve already touched on on this blog so it’s very cool to have one before I even start considering TTMs seriously.

Don Robinson meanwhile is another favorite of mine. I’ve a few of his signatures already but this is the first one featuring him holding a bat. Pitchers with bats is a fun category of cards as it is. When it’s a pitcher like Caveman who we liked in part because of how he approached batting? Even better.

Thanks Carl for appreciating my blog and for the surprise Atlees and TTM duplicates. It looks like I have to start a Phillies pile now.

Mailday from Gavin

Came back from Easter weekend to find a small mailday from Gavin (@breakdowncards) at Baseball Card Breakdown. Gavin’s got a bunch of interesting collections going on and it so happened that some of my duplicates meshed well with his needs.

Main item in the mailer was this cool 1960 Giants team card. 1960 is the oldest team set which I’m “close” to finishing. After this team card I’m down to high numbers, Willie Mays, and the Willie McCovey rookie on the list of what I need. Since I don’t expect to get any of those soon it’s nice to send the rest of the set into long-term stalking mode.

Gavin also sent a couple dozen 2017 Update needs. Always nice to get closer to finishing this (I didn’t feel like spending the money to build this from packs) and I’m close to 60% complete now.

There are also two 2002 Upper Deck Minor League cards in here. It’s always nice to get anything related to the San José Giants. And it’s funny. I’ll always think of the Giants Short-Season A affiliate as being Everett but I know it’s really Salem Keizer. It’s just a shame those cards aren’t more interesting than being a logo since a San Jose Municipal Stadium card would be a lot of fun.

And it wouldn’t be a proper Gavin mailday if there weren’t a fun custom card included. In my case I got to add my first John Elway card to my Stanford binder. While crossing a name off is fun, the Stanford project is also one which rewards getting that first card too.

There have been a few Elway baseball cards over the years but I’ve not gotten around to getting any of them (though I do have some on my searchlist). The focus has been on guys who played baseball and as much as I’ve turned the corner to look for more odd cards and flesh out the searchlist beyond Topps, I’ve not gotten into any of the football players like Elway, Toby Gerhart, Toi Cook, and Tyler Gaffney who really spend much time, if any, in professional baseball.

Very cool. Thanks Gavin! The other custom work-in-progress you included with the CONFIDENTIAL stamp looks promising too.