🎶One of these kids is doing his own thing🎶

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very cool Steve. Thanks!

A surprise from @prewarcards

While my GiantsNOW has been my main customs card project, this past year has seen it morph into a GiantsTOTAL sort of thing* while my customs-making has expanded into new areas. It’s a fun exercise and I figured it would be especially fun to make cards for various Twitter friends. I don’t have a lot of trade bait so I figured that in addition to blogging, sending out a couple customs of favorite players would be a fun way to say thank you.

Anson over a @prewarcards is one such friend. He got sucked into two collecting black holes this past year. One is Dwight Gooden cards, the other are Ogden’s Cigarettes cards. I figured it would be fun to mash the two together so I created an Ogden’s Dwight Gooden card and sent it off in a plain white envelope.

*Just 70 cards of the guys who appeared for the team plus coaches.

I was not expecting my Cardsaver to be returned to me. I was especially not expecting it to be stuffed with a bunch of pre-war cards including a dozen real Ogdens. But it was and holy moly I can see how Anson got sucked into these. It’s not just that these are not my oldest cards—dating to 1901–1902 and passing up my Liebig set—there’s just something amazing about the variety. In this batch we’ve got sports, artists, actors, comedians, world leaders, and damaged warships.

Starting with the sports cards, we have a card of E.E.B. May who was a champion weight (shot) putter in England in 1901. Googling around pulls up some references to him competing in the hammer throw in  the US in 1902 and losing to a Harvard thrower. This card is especially interesting since it’s an action photo of a 1901 event.

Next we have a card of swimmer James Finney posing with all his medals. It’s noteworthy here that Finney’s accomplishments aren’t speed-based accomplishments but rather have to do with being able to swim the furthest underwater.

And finally we have an equestrian card of the winners of the Queens Prize at Kempton Park. Kempton Park is still a working racecourse but the website doesn’t mention the Queens Prize handicap. As for the jockey, it appears that his name is listed incorrectly on the front of the card.

The last card is of Vesta Tilley who has a wonderful Wikipedia writeup about her highly successful career as a male impersonator on stage. By the time this card was printed in 1901 she appears to have been a bona fide star for at least a decade. This may have been a pack hit back in the day.

Continuing on the performers theme, Sir Henry Irving was the first actor to be knighted and is noteworthy for being the inspiration for Count Dracula. This card came out right around the end of his management of the Lyceum Theatre and only a couple years before his death.

The card of Lily Brayton on the other hand captures her at the beginning of her career yet she’s already playing important roles like Viola in Twelfth Night.

R.G. Knowles doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry but appears to be a music hall comedian who billed himself as “The Peculiar American.” More intriguingly, googling around for “Richard George Knowles” turns up an 1896 book about American Baseball. At first I wasn’t sure if it was authored by the same guy but there’s a photo of him on page 65 and it looks awfully close to man in the Ogden’s card.

Rather than being just a musician card we’ve got a baseball writer. I’ve skimmed the book and enjoy a lot of it. The familiarity of explaining the appeal of the game (no draws, for thinking men) is great. I love the detailed instructions about how to lay out a baseball field through specifically knotted lengths of heavy cord. It’s fun to read rules written for an audience familiar with cricket.

The section on how to keep score is especially interesting since it’s not a method I’ve seen used before (also shortstop is position #5 and third base is #6) and there’s something about seeing different methods of keeping score that I particularly love.

Much of the rest of book is dedicated to describing the nature of baseball in England at the end of the 19th century. I did not skim this part except to note that the five teams appear to be vocational guilds and that one of the competitions was called the Music Hall Review Cup as well as an RG Knowles Trophy which went to the London champion.

Compared to Knowles, Gus Elen is merely a music hall performer. But he had a long career and made it into the age of sound in movies. As a result we can see him singing some his cockney songs on YouTube and really appreciate the way he performed.

Moving to politics. Mutsuhito now known as Emperor Meiji is probably the coolest card Anson sent me. The back text is a huge understatement for what happened to Japan during his era, although since this card predates the war with Russia the West wasn’t fully aware of what Japan had become yet either.

It’s cards like this that are why I collect. We know of him as Meiji and his era transformed almost everything about Japan.Having a card that dates from his era (even if it’s not a Japanese card) is a way of touching that history.

Baron Curzon eventually became the First Marquess Curzon of Kedleston. While he was Vicerory there was a massive famine in India. His “beautiful American” wife was Mary Leiter, daughter of one of the founders of Marshall Field’s who’s probably more relevant today as being part of the inspiration for Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey. Curzon’s hand meanwhile can still be seen on modern maps because the Curzon line he drew in 1919 to mark the border between Poland and the USSR is basically what Poland’s border with Belarus and Ukraine is today.

The HMS Salmon and HMS Dragon are two torpedo destroyers. Neither appears to have been destroyed by the results of what happened in the cards here and both made it to World War 1, during which they reached the end of their utility. It’s an interesting idea to have a set of cards depicting damaged vessels. It does make for more interesting stories but I also wonder if it’s also a bit of the tabloid “if it bleeds it leads” thing too.

All together this Ogdens batch is absolutely wonderful. I’ve seen cheap singles available but they’re kind of overwhelming. I love the variety and way each card is a potential rabbit hole into learning about the past.

General interest sets like this no longer exist. I don’t think it’s really even possible for them to exist now. We like our sets to be much more focused (something I completely understand) but seeing the potential for other directions the hobby could have gone 120 years ago is still enough to make me think about who would be in such a set today.

The dozen Ogdens would’ve been more than enough for a blogpost but they weren‘t the only cards in the envelope. Anson also included two 1932 Sanellas. These German cards are pretty big and printed on paper so thin it’s had to call them cards at all. But the size is otherwise correct and the artwork is all kinds of wonderful.

The shotputter is dynamically posed in the frame with a crisp and clear depiction of the Olympics badge on his uniform. The design of the badge also suggests USA to me. The crew image meanwhile is a nice tight crop and composition with the boat moving through the frame at an interesting angle and the oars balancing out the negative space perfectly.

The backs detail that both of these are from the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. The shotputter is indeed American and is in fact gold-medal-winner Leo Sexton who won with a throw of 16 meters. The crew are the Gold-Medal-winning German Coxed Fours team. Every Sanella checklist lists them as Der Bierer des Berliner but the five men are Hans Eller, Horst Hoeck, Walter Meyer, Joachim Spremberg, and coxswain Carlheinz Neumann.

As I noted in a previous post, one of my favorite things about these cards is the Fraktur Blackletter writing and the way that these cards remind me of the Antiqua–Fraktur dispute.

I also found two soccer cards. George Mutch is from the 1935 Wills Association Footballers set. I already wrote a little about him so the only thing I’ll add here is that as much as I like these old soccer sets it’s always especially nice when they feature a team like Manchester United which is still in the top flight.

The Willie Hall is from the 1939 Wills Association Footballers set and shows a lot more uniform detail. The popped collar is a great way of doing the portrait and it’s pretty neat to see the much fatter cockerel in the Spurs badge. That bird loses weight the longer it balances on the ball.

This card makes a nice pair with the Stanley Matthews card Anson sent me last year as well. Hall’s bio is also kind of interesting  and he seems to very much still be somewhat of a local hero as the teams in Newark, his home town, still compete for the Willie Hall Memorial Trophy.

Moving to the last two cards. The first is from the 1923 Sarony Origin of Games set and is a card that is literally of cards. Am I a sucker for stupid things like this? Yes I am.

Beyond that though this card is the only one of the batch which isn’t printed via halftones. The colors are super vibrant and the artwork takes advantage of this perfectly. Anson has shown a few other samples from this set. The Rounders card is pretty neat for all of us Baseball guys but I love the Football card since it looks like it’s showing some sort of Calcio Storico.

The last card in the envelope was a Don Bradman from the 1935 Gallaher Champions set. I have the 1934 set and it’s beautiful. I’ve been considering getting the 1935 one but aside from Bradman (and Stanford graduate Pete Desjardins) the set just didn’t look as nice to me.

Bradman though is a great card to have and this card shows him doing what he does best. His excellence at batting is so far better than any other cricketers’ that it looks like a mistake. He also makes a nice partner to the Larwood and Jardine cards who inspired me to pick up the 1934 set to begin with.

Anyway, wow. This was a hell of a surprise and a ton of fun to go through. Thanks Anson!

PWE from Tim

Late last week a small envelope from Tim showed up in my mailbox. Inside was this Bill Laskey autograph that he’d gotten in-person 35 years ago. Laskey had a great 1982 rookie season and followed that up with a couple decent years before being traded to Montreal in 1985. This means he’s not one of the guys I know much about although the fact that he started the Joe Morgan game in 1982 is registered in my brain for some reason.

This is one of those small mailings that means a lot to me because as an autograph collector I know that in-person signatures have more meaning than just the signature. I have plenty of signatures that don’t “fit” my collection but they’re all meaningful to me still since they’re things to pin my memories to.

My foray into 50/50s this past season has meant that I’ve reevaluated my feelings about this a little. The fact that I’m blogging and can point to the whole experience of the hunt means that each individual signature is just part of the memory instead of the main event. For my kids though each card is everything and even though I suspect Tim was around 16 when he got this means it was probably still a big deal at the time.

I totally get the idea of winnowing down the stuff I have and focusing my collection, it’s just that when I do so in-person autographs will be the last to go. So yeah I’m kind of honored that Tim’s entrusted me with a bit of his youth. It’s now in the binder next to Champ Summers and Manny Trillo where it belongs.

PWE from the President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Touching Distance

My third trade package in three days! This post though will be half as long as the other. P-town Tom is a blogger over at tilnextyear-tom.blogspot.com. He’s a Cubs guy but I really love his Hall of Fame binder project.

A couple weeks ago he posted about getting close to the end of a couple junk wax set builds—namely 1991 Studio and 1991 Donruss—and I realized that I had a dozen cards that would help him get closer to that light at the end of the tunnel. So I reached out and he was happy to be able to clear out a bunch of his duplicates to help me as well.

This is trading at its most pure. I send what he needs. He sends what I need. No worrying about matching card-for-card since the value of clearing the cards out of the house is probably more than the value of the cards themselves.

The end result is that Tom’s mailing took five of my sets to within touching distance of completion. Which is very cool.

We’ll start off with 1986 Topps. I’ve mentally considered this set finished since another twitterer said she’d set aside cards for me but I also never cross off cards until they’re in the binder. Anyway as someone who both went to his first MLB game and started collecting cards in 1986, this set will always feel nostalgic to me. There are some weird photos but I like the variety and the color and there’s something wonderful to me about the black header border. The Scott Bradley might get pulled next spring since he’s the Princeton baseball coach.

Even though everything is supposedly pending, I’m still treating this as missing 13 cards. Those cards are as follows:

46 Billy Hatcher
60 Dwight Evans
109 Len Matuszek
124 Luis Sanchez
125 Dave Lopes
168 Jeff Burroughs
170 Gary Carter
271 Dave Collins
279 Al Pardo
321 Earl Weaver
498 Tito Landrum
627 Ron Oester
637 Rudy Law

Tom meanwhile killed my 1990 Fleer list and left me missing just one card, number 530 Carlton Fisk. And that one’s been promised by another trader as well so this is another set that’s unofficially complete now.

I need to note here that all the cards Tom sent me are super crisp, probably the flattest, sharpest specimens of these sets I’ve ever seen. I don’t beat my cards up but even out of the pack none of them felt like these do.

1990 is a sneaky design. Kind of boring but also lots of subtle goodness in many of the cards. I like how so many of them break the frame. I love Fleer’s commitment to team colors. And I enjoy how nice this set looks signed.

Tom did the least damage to my 1990 Upper Deck build but he still got me to within 30 of the finish line. Yes I’m including the high numbers here. 770/800 is over 96% complete and I’m very pleased with how it’s coming along. Although I’m less pleased with the specific cards I’m missing:

9 Marquis Grissom SR
32 Bo Jackson TC
45 Bob Hamelin SR
55 Andy Benes
72 Juan Gonzalez SR
75 Bo Jackson
102 Kevin Appier
105 Bo Jackson
114 Dwight Gooden
115 Kevin Batiste
146 Brian Downing
148 Ernie Whitt
201 Terry Puhl
211 Doug Dascenzo
232 Ron Gant
254 Paul Molitor
256 Orel Hershiser
295 Don August
298 Mike Scioscia
322 Damon Berryhill
325 Benito Santiago
327 Lou Whitaker
461 Rob Murphy
483 Mike Flanagan
485 John Cerutti
499 Dale Sveum
505 Willie McGee
516 Frank Tanana
555 Wade Boggs 4X
562 Jeff Innis

Yeah. I ripped a box and I’m still missing all three Bo Jacksons. I wonder if those were harder to come by.

Fifteen 1991 Donruss cards took me to needing only four more of these. Like 1990 Fleer, this was a set which I’d been gifted a box of when I was a kid and have decided to try and complete now. It’s been fun and has provided me with enough duplicates that my youngest has a handful of these cards signed.

This isn’t a design I love but I appreciate the 1990s-ness of it. It’s also the kind of super color that my kids like so they’ve enjoyed using them for autographs. The four I’m missing are:

141 Hal Morris
422 Scott Aldred
459 Luis Quinones
757 Gary Wayne

Where my “last” 1986 Topps was Eddie Murray, last 1990 Fleer is Carlton Fisk, and last 1978 will be either a Hall of Famer or an important Rookie, my last 1991 Donruss is going to be essentially a random common. That’s both fun and a testament to how worthless all the cards in the set are.

The last of the set build help takes my 1991 Studio to only needing ten left. I love this set and the way the photography changed my understanding of what card photography could be. The Steve Lake is not an image I’ve seen before and is all kinds of awesome.

The ten cards I’m missing include a couple Hall of Famers and a bunch of commons. Will be interesting to see how this set completes itself. No I’m not going to kill it on Sportlots unless maybe it’s Brian Harper I need and he’s still coaching in the Eastern League next year.

17 Tony Pena
26 Wally Joyner
59 Alan Trammell
68 Brian McRae
77 Franklin Stubbs
86 Brian Harper
119 Harold Reynolds
128 Nolan Ryan
138 Turner Ward
240 Todd Zeile

The last batch of cards is for my 1990 Score Giants team set. The Dravecky is a card that should’ve been in my binder 30 years ago. Same goes with the World Series card. It’s a nice pair with the Lights Out at Candlestick card from the same set. Somehow I didn’t have this card from the one World Series game I ever attended. Now I do and my binder feels much more complete now.

Thanks Tom! I’m glad I was able to help you with your sets and you definetly helped me with mine.

In which Marc tells me that my breath smells too nice

Another day, another package. The day after I got Tim’s box I received one from Marc Brubaker. He’d tipped me off that something was coming but I was surprised to see that it was not just a bubble mailer.

Instead it was a box and when I opened it up I started laughing. A couple weeks ago Marc had asked me for snack recommendations since he was going to an Asian supermarket. Since he knew of the obvious stuff I mentioned things that I’ve had problems finding even at most Asian markets. One such item was Boy Bawang which is like Corn Nuts only both easier to chew and super garlicky.

Marc was lucky enough to find a selection at his store and only realized too late that these are not only “eat the whole damn bag” good but are “well shit I’ve got another bag right here” good as well. I’m looking forward to popping this open.

The rest of the package was mostly cards, mostly of the grab bag variety. I’ll start off with the Stanford guys since I sort of screwed up my sorting and paged them all before realizing that I hadn’t documented anything for this post. So I went thought my binder and pulled out what I remember was new. Marc sent more than this but I don’t remember the duplicates.

Adding a bunch of new Ballards is great. I especially like the 1990 Mini Leader. The cards of Adams and Castro in their Stanford uniforms are also a lot of fun. A bunch of new Buecheles are also fun. I have a lot of the 80s guys pretty well covered so it’s always an expected treat to find cards of them which I don’t have.

The Lowrie Heritage is a weird photo. The two McDowells are lucky fits. I had the base 1993 but not the Gold and I had the gold and Spanish 1994s but not the base. The Two Mussinas are cool. It’s always fin to add an oddball and 1994 Triple Play must have come out after I stopped collecting. That’s a weird design with what looks like 3D lettering but which knocks out to the photo behind.

Five new Piscottys too. The two Chome 2019s are kind of wild. I really can’t see refractors so I’m glad this is labeled as such. The other is even wilder and while it works with the 2019 design is definitely in the category of card I’m happy to have only one sample of.

The Archives in the 1975 design meanwhile is one which I’m tempted to nitpick on how they didn’t correctly copy the original design but since it says “Athletics” instead of “A’s” I consider this an improvement over the original. It is interesting to me however how the facsimile signatures feel super fat now. I’m not sure if this is to look more Sharpie-like or if it’s just how Topps is capturing players’ signatures now.

A bunch of action cards for the mini-PC. Sportflics are always appreciated. As are the multi-image Upper Deck cards. Any duplicates of these will go to the kids and they’ll be just as impressed with them now as I was 30 years ago. I like that Marc even included a Fire insert which shows Kluber’s pitching motion.

The highlight here however is a Brett Butler Flip Tip. Comparing a drag bunt to a sacrifice is super subtle but these are a cute little product. I’ve no idea how I’ll store this (the main reason why I haven’t sought one out) and I’m a bit worried that I’ll love it to death. The GIFs though are pretty cool and look almost faked.

Three 1991 Donruss set needs take me one step closer to finishing this set. I could of course kill it now on Sportlots but I refuse to spend money on this build.

A handful of PC guys. I don’t actively collect non-Giant Hammaker cards but they’re nice to have. Erickson meanwhile is one where every card is welcome.

Three cards for the yet-to-be-started Hawaii collection. The Sakata Senior League card is all kinds of awesome. I refused to touch these when I was a kid but I can see why people love them now.

Three Conlon Collection cards featuring extinct teams. It’s nice that each of these features a good image of the uniforms too.

Moving toward the bottom of the grab bag. Two action shots of guys I like as Giants. Manwaring has one of the best runs of photography for any player at any time period in the game. His career was fine but if I didn’t already have a collection of Giants he’d be a guy I’d PC just because his cards are almost all awesome. Robb Nen as a Marlin running the basepaths though is just a fun card.

Frank White as a Bee is great. I always forget that they used to be a Royals affiliate. Not sure where I’ll put this to be honest. I may have to start an album for local Minor League teams that aren’t affiliated with the Giants and keep Seals, San José and Trenton cards in there.

And finally a bunch of cards commemorating the first turn back the clock day  at Chicago in 1990. I love seeing these uniforms show up on cards and it‘s a great reminder of when this kind of thing was special and unique. Now with “throwback” variations in the card sets they just feel like cardboard gimmickry.

And to the last random bunch of cards where Marc’s going to have to jump in the comments to explain things. I’ve no idea on Salazar. Langston is a San José State guy plus the UK minis are always fun.

Not sure about Kikuchi but this gives me a chance to point out how Heritage High Numbers seem to feature a lot of players in sunset (actually sunrise but it reads as sunset to all of us who don’t get up at the crack of dawn) while regular Heritage is mostly blue skies. This is more common on some teams like the Giants where the blue vs golden sky is something my kids caught. The Mariners high numbers meanwhile have a super-dark sky that looks like what Topps was trying to do in the 1985 and 1986 sets with so many of their portraits.

Greg Harris is an ambidextrous pitcher. He only pitched once with his left hand but each card here depicts him from each side of the mound.

On to the Giants portion of the mailday. This is a lot of junk wax so I won’t have too much to say on many of the photos. I have not see the Fleer stickers before. And the Score inserts? Those are mostly new to me too.

The starting lineup is a lot of fun though especially because Marc included the figurine.

It looks nothing like Will Clark but I very much liked these as a kid. My first one was a Candy Maldonado I got as a stadium giveaway. I Sharpied Candy’s bat black since Candy didn’t swing a natural-colored bat. I also had this Clark so now each boy has their own Will Clark Starting Lineup figure.

Most of this junk is going to the kiddos. Though it’s not often you see a Grandslammer in the wild so that’s kind of special. Much to my surprise they like 1990 Topps and all those colors so I’m glad there’s a bit of it for them.

More duplicates. All these 1991 Topps though will be especially good for my youngest since his older brother already has the set. Also the decent number of Will Clark duplicates here has gotten them very excited since I was able to put together a couple stacks of cards for their albums that each included a number of Clarks.

Mostly more duplicates here. The Bowmans I never snagged as a kid so it’s nice to add those. I was so distracted by Fleer’s yellowness in 1991 that I never noticed that it had switched to all-action that year. 1991 Fleer deserves all the crap it gets since that yellow is pretty bad unless your team features yellow. This is unfortunate though since as a design it’s not actually that bad. It would look fine in foil on black ink. It would look fine in white on a spot color like 1992 Fleer’s metallic green. It would even look fine  (albeit maybe a bit too close to 1990 Fleer) in team colors on a white border.

Still more duplicates. 1991 Score‘s design isn’t my favorite but I love the checklist. 1991 Upper Deck though is one of my favorites. There’s something to the mix of action, long-lens candid, and posed portraits that sets these cards apart and in many ways serves as the photo mix I still want to see in cards today.

More 1991s and a handful of minor league cards. It’s always fun to see a few names like Jim McNamara which I remember in the bigs.

Continuing the rich vein of junk for the kids. 1992 Topps is another favorite set of mine. I also like 1992 Fleer despite the green since the spot color happens to work well with all the different team colors in the player name. Yes it’s lots of green but the bold name breaks things up nicely.

On to 1992 Upper Deck. I’m not a fan of the drop shadow but I’m still liking the photography. 1993 Donruss on the other hand does not move me with the “hey look we have computers and can make beveled edges” design that proceeded to dominate a bunch of sets for the next couple of years..

Moving into 1994 means I starting to get into some of my needs again. Mostly just the minor leaguers though in this batch. Since I already had a duplicate of this Mays I was able to give one to each boy. This always makes them very happy even while they‘re asking me for a “real” Mays card the same way I asked my parents for such a card 30 years ago.

And finishing up the junk wax pile with some Collectors Choice for the kids and a few Bazooka cards for me. Collectors Choice always has great photos.

Lastly, a bunch of more-recent needs. Have never seen the new Pinnacle. It both feels right and like a pale imitation of the original. Three Heritage High numbers which show the Giants version of the sunset. Yes that’s actually a sunrise. Pretty sure Pillar is composited in since he has the same background as Pomeranz and was nowhere near Scottsdale when photo day occurred.

Three Archives (plus some duplicates). The 1993s are weirdly over glossy and that bugs me more than Topps getting the font wrong. I do really dig the 1988 effect on the 1958 design however. It allows the photo to be cropped more interestingly. Two Fire cards. I like this year’s design although it’s interesting that my kids prefer last year’s. And some duplicate stickers since Lowrie was on the other side of the last Posey sticker Marc sent.

And last but not least, my first 2019 Bumgarner card. Nice to have one card of him in what we’re all assuming is his last season as a Giant. Sigh. I’m glad the fans got a chance to thank him properly in the game.

Thanks Marc! The boys are already enjoying some of this batch as well.

👀

You know the drill. Go on vacation and come back to a pile of bills, Pennysavers, and 20% off Bed Bath & Beyond coupons. Oh and a stack of magazines to go on the backlog of things to catch up on reading.

This time though was different. Hiding in the stack were three plain white envelopes. Guess which backlog I tackled first.

The first two envelopes were from Peter and Colbey—a pair who featured in an earlier post about a couple of PWEs. They’re both the type of collectors who enjoy ripping packs but like to spread around the cards they find which don’t immediately fit their collections. This is a bit of work but is probably much preferable to letting unwanted inventory build up in closets and bookshelves.

Anyway, Peter took part in National Baseball Card Day and pulled an Evan Longoria in one of his packs. This is great since neither of my kids managed to pull one—Trout, Alonso, and Kershaw yes, Longoria no—and now I’m halfway there to getting them super happy about their hauls.

Colbey on the other hand ripped a bunch of Diamond Kings and sent me all his Giants. Or, well his only Giant. I like this set and the way it feels. I’m not certain I’ll ever be able to tell different years apart.

It’s cool to have one though since it’s a product I don’t think I’ve ever noticed for sale. Yes it feels wonderful to hold and riffle through a stack.But at the end of the day there just weren’t enough Giants in the checklist to get my attention. I’m very glad people like Colbey exist so I can share in the experience.

As fun as those two envelopes were they were kind of blown out of the water by Lanny, whose local shop is apparently specializing in beat-to-hell Willie Mays cards at “you’d be a fool to pass this up” prices.

In Lanny’s words, these are “not that great.” I so, so beg to differ. They’re mighty beat up but again, in that well-loved way of being the card that some kid always wanted on top of his stack so he could show it to whoever’s attention he could commandeer.

And there’s nothing horrid missing. The biggest problem is that the chewed corners on the 1958 look like they might continue to lose material every time I look at the card. The cyan background though is much better than red which dominates the rest of the Giants cards and I love seeing just the hint of the SF logo which I can tell is the incorrect one but it’s not as obvious as it is on most of the 1958 cards.

The 1963 is arguably rougher in that the entire surface is sort of worn. But enough shows through and the blue/green photo background and the red/yellow graphics are still vibrant enough to pop.

The best part of the 1963 card though is the back. Yes the 1958 cartoon is a lot of fun but the 1963 back shows his full Minor League experience. All my other Mays cards only show his Major League experience because they’re from the late 1960s and Topps was having trouble getting all of that on as it was.

Seeing the Minor League stats is cool. Having that Trenton line though is extra cool and gives my kids yet another tangible reason for them to rationalize rooting for Trenton while staying Giants fans. Their eyes lit up when seeing the front of the card. Then I turned it over and they got even more excited.

Super cool and yeah, while summer’s over I very much appreciate the way it ended this year.

An NSCC mailing from Jason!

Jason went to The National and was nice enough to ask me if there was anything I wanted him to keep an eye out for. Between my budget and my increasingly-specific searchlists I find it more and more difficult to have people search for specific things now.

My Stanford project is down to only a couple dozen specific cards I’m looking for and those are spread out in year from 1955 to 2019 and cover a dozen different names. My Giants project meanwhile has coalesced around stars and high numbers for pre-1973 cards—not exactly the cheapest cards–and has random holes for everything 1994 to the present.

Neither of these as as simple as set building where you can just submit a list of numbers. However on the one set I’d’ve considered asking him to look for I’m down to eight cards—all Hall of Famers and big-name rookies. Meanwhile the rest of the sets I’m building are modern cards which I shouldn’t be buying any of.

So I declined and thanked Jason for the offer. But he said he’d keep an eye out for pre-70s Giants anyway. Then on National Baseball Card Day, after I returned from hitting two card shops with my kids* there was a bubble mailer waiting for me.

*Not enough for a post but we visited my childhood LCS South Bay Sportscards, got a blaster of Stadium Club to share, said hi to Ben/Cardboard Icons, then visited Steven’s Creek Sportscards and picked up a blaster of Big League. We each ended up with three packs of National Baseball Card Day cards and are, as a family, two cards short of a complete set. I love being able to spend a couple hours with the kids at a card shop and it’s great fun to watch the rip party afterwards too.

I was not prepared for what I found inside. Jason, as my committee co-chair likes to send me packages which reference previous posts on the blog. This 1933 Goudey** Lefty O’Doul is a direct reference to his most-recent post about players who appeared in the same set* as both Dodgers and Giants.

*Where “set” includes traded/update sets as part of the main set.

**Full disclosure, as a font/design/typesetting guy I frequently write Goudey as Goudy.

As cool as that is though what’s fantastic about this card is that it’s now the oldest Giants card* and 3rd-oldest baseball card** in my collection. Pushing back that oldest-card distinction is always a noteworthy event and I’m happy it’s a player like Lefty O’Doul who’s important for many different reasons.

*The previous title holder was Billy Jurges.

**The only older baaseball cards I have are a pair of 1917 Zeenuts so this O’Doul is also my oldest Major League card.

Yes he’s a New York Giant here. But he’s also a Bay Area sports legend who spent decades with the Seals and, besides Joe DiMaggio, is really the only Seal player people might be able to name. I’d love to acquire a Zeenut of him from when he was with the Seals and one of the jerseys I covet from Ebbets Field Flannels has his number on the back.

O’Doul is also noteworthy for his contributions to baseball in Japan and his legacy can still be seen there in the Yomiuri Giants team name. I haven’t gone deep into the Japanese card rabbit hole but I have a few—all of which are Giants. As a San Francisco fan I have to admit that the Yomiuri uniforms and colors appeal to me a lot even though I feel like picking them as my NPB team is too obvious.*

*I haven’t picked an NPB team. Not that I have to. But the Giants have an obvious appeal. As does any team based out of Fukuoka (Nishitetsu or Softbank) for family history reasons.

Anyway the O’Doul would have been more than enough to make this a great mailing but there were a couple other cards in the envelope. This one is not a post. Yet. But it should be since we’ve had plenty of discussions about players whose names match their teams. A card of Dave Philley with the Phillies? How fun is that.

It’s also nice to get a black background card from the 1959 set. There’s only one of these in the Giants team set (Billy Muffett) and it’s a bit of a shame since it’s a nice change of pace from all the other colors while still being easy to print.

Two inserts from the 1960s with a 1968 game card and a 1969 deckle edge which are both callbacks to the blog and represent some of the fun, more affordable cards of the 1960s. I love that both of these are mini-sized as well. Modern Heritage remakes of these have been full-size and there’s something about the small size which makes these even more enjoyable.

And the last card of the package is this 1988 Topps Big Candy Maldonado. This card calls back to my post about how Topps has handled Latino double last names. I love the 1988 Big design and its 1980s updating of the classic 1956 design.

The fronts look great—I don’t even mind that there’s no team name or position. And the backs are a nice update of the 1956 backs, updating the name to be the full name, adding full-color printing, all while keeping the cartoon focus and single line of stats. The only problem is that where the spot-color usage on the 1956 backs made the occasional all-same-skin-tone not stand out, on the 1988 backs the cartoons stand out as treating everyone as being white. Not a good look to my eyes.

Super cool Jason. Thanks!

Mailday from Bru

My kids have been dragging their grandparents to the local shop this year. I think they’ve been three or four times already, getting each other packs for their birthdays and capitalizing on grandparent generosity to pick up an extra pack or dig through the box of Giants commons to find something for themselves. It’s fun to see and is very much how I used to spend my summers. It’s nice to be the age when going to the card shop every weekend is all you really want to do. I’ll take mine next week for National Baseball Card Day and I’m sure we’ll have a blast.

As my buying has gotten more specific and focused on older cards, the rhythm of the hobby has changed for me. It’s no longer a summer thing coupled to the games being played. I’m more stuck to the retail cycle that rewards purchases of any kind at certain points of the year. In some ways this is a good thing since it’s not like pre-1960 Giants cards should ever go out of season but it does discourage a certain disconnect from the baseball season itself.

Which is why summer maildays are especially fun for me. It’s nice to just get a stack of cards during the height of the season and be brought back to the current moment. Marc Brubaker sent me such a stack last week. Lots of randomness but at least half of it was cards from this season that have come out during the past month.

Allen & Ginter is one such set. It’s not for me but I appreciate that Topps has stuck to its guns and kept this brand as distinct as it is. I do like getting a few Ginter samples each year so I’m very happy to see these. I can see why people like these and I daresay that the line gets better looking each year in terms of the image processing.

One interesting thing to note this year is that background images are old parks that have been dropped in via computer. There aren’t a lot of different ones but thankfully Topps isn’t using the exact same cropping. However the fact that Marichal and Longoria are consecutive card numbers makes me wonder if things will look kind of weird when a set is paged up and the same background images show up multiple times per page.

Bowman Platinum is another set that I never buy. All this shiny stuff is not my thing and I guess I’m resistant to sets that look like they should be inserts. Yeah, actually,  I’d probably really like these if they were inserts.

I have to admit though that as I’ve gotten more into autograph hunting I’m beginning to see how cards like these will sign well. Where the silhouetted player and shiny background annoys me as a photo guy, it makes a nice, less-busy place for a signature to go.

Also as I’ve gotten to more and more  minor league games Bowman sets have gotten more appealing. I’m not prospecting prospecting but it’s nice to have a supply of cards for autograph reasons. The Ramos here will be nice if I ever get to a San José Giants game (though San José Muni is pretty dire for autograph hunting now) and may be handy if he’s in Richmond next season too.

Another new-to-me 2019 set are Topps’s Stickers. These are actually the sticker backs* and unlike previous years the backs both function as cards and are card-sized. Not something I’d buy as a card but I really enjoy them as peeled off backs which are now worth** saving instead of just throwing them out.

*Blank fronts since Marc is actually sticking the stickers into an album as if he’s one of those uncivilized soccer fans.

**For certain values of worth.

I’ve not gotten into the sticker thing yet but the concept is one I’ve long been intrigued by as a soccer fan who’s very familiar with the Panini World Cup albums. I just refuse to commit to a project of collecting 650+ stickers at 20¢ apiece. The baseball album looks a lot more manageable at ~250 stickers although the per-sticker price of 25¢ each still means that it’ll cost more than a full set of Flagship to complete (though at least you get two sets out of it).

Continuing with the 2019 cards we have a Brandon Belt Prizm Red Parallel (I’m assuming). Given how monochrome the Belt image is since all the Giants branding has been Photoshopped out the red is a nice touch of color. I’m also looking at this card and trying to determine if it’s manufactured the same way Topps’s chrome cards are. Probably easier to just search for printing plates.

The Buster Posey shows the front of the Topps Stickers. It’s actually a nice design although all that lightning would have rubbed people the wrong way if it were in Flagship. Buster’s not going into my Giants album though because of who’s on the back.

The back of the Posey sticker is Jed Lowrie’s only 2019 Topps card.* Lowrie’s been out injured all season and I don’t expect him to show up in Update so it’s very cool to have this i the album to mark his 2019 season.

*I don’t count on-demand stuff like Total.

The 2017 Lowrie is also nice to have since I think mine’s bundled with a complete set still.

Three 2019 Stephen Piscotty cards round out the batch of new cards. I’ve already covered Ginter and Stickers (There’s a Tampa Bay Ray on the back of this sticker) but I haven’t mentioned Stadium Club yet. I was skeptical of this design when I saw the preview images online. Font is a disaster (except for the Pirates) and the drop shadows were huge.

In hand it’s not nearly as bad. I still don’t like it as much as 2017 but I appreciate that the ground fog is kept to a minimum. Oh, and this is a red parallel which is pretty cool.

Okay, to the rest of the cards starting with the rest of the Giants cards. Three from the 2000s. The Bonds is a buyback with REDISCOVER TOPPS stamped right on top of his name so that it looks like this is actually a “Barry sddoʇ ɹǝʌoɔsıpǝɹ” card. The Lincecum is from Upper Deck X—a set which I still don’t uinderstand.

The Liván Hernandez card though is wonderful. It’s an insert from 2002 Donruss Estrellas and is a fantastic addition to my Spanish-language collection. I wish I’d known about this earlier and am wondering now where Marc found it.

A handful of 2010s Giants including a 2012 sticker to demonstrate the change in size, a bunch of Triple Play including the disastrous 2013 drawings that look nothing like anybody, and a couple Buster Posey Archives cards in the 1990 design.

The Posey Archives card is extremely interesting to me because Topps was unable to print the borders in the oversize halftone screen they used in 1990 and instead faked it with a stochastic screen. One of these days I’ll do high-definition scans of these cards and write an esoteric post for SABR about this.

Three 2017 cards including a couple more Honus Bonus cards. I appreciate with those guys were trying to do with the game tie-in but the cards themselves are tough to look at. Something about the selective desaturation makes me feel like me eyes are going bad.

And finally a couple 2018 Giants cards. Watson’s been featured on this blog before. The McCutchen though is one of the SP image variants so those are always nice to see turn up.

I already covered most of the Stanford cards but these three were also in the stack. the 1994 JackMcDowell is one that not only do I not own it, I didn’t even know about it. Very cool since I actually bought packs of 1994 Donruss as a kid.

The 1995 Helling and Hammonds are nice to have as well. This is a set from the first year I didn’t collect and while I’m focusing on Topps Flagship (and related) for the Stanford project it’s always nice top flesh out with examples from other makers.

To the random portion of the stack starting off with a pair of 2003 Donruss Estrellas and another addition to my Spanish-language album. I’ve been double-dipping and using my Giants and Stanford collections as a way to target what cards to get. This is a good way to stay disciplined but leaves the album a bit light on examples form these sets since the Giants and Stanford ones go someplace else. All of which means it’s nice to have some generic examples.

I’m not an A’s fan but I remember Mulder and Hudson both being great in the early 2000s. Hudson of course is also a future Giant who picked up a World Series ring in 2014.

A handful of Triple Play stickers for the kids. Not much to say about these except to note that Marc must’ve gotten a few packs of Triple Play in repacks. The kids should like these though.

And the last two cards are this random pair from 2019. The Trevor Richards is for the multi-exposure action collection. Is interesting to me that instead of showing all action that it shows him getting the signs, coming set, and then delivering the pitch.

The Tiger Mask card shows exactly what I like about Ginter, the non-baseball stuff. At their best the non-baseball stuff is wonderful and weird peppered with odd bits of culture. They’ve been getting less-weird recently but this is a good one. More of this please (and an Emperor Norton card too).

Now that we’re in non-baseball we can finish off the stack with this pair of Barcelona cards. This is a collectable card game and the cards have a nice bit of spot varnish effects going on that doesn’t show up in the photo. Fun to have a Jordi Alba who’s been a mainstay for Barça and Spain for a while now. Malcolm meanwhile just left to not much fanfare and, while not bad, didn’t stand out much either.

Whew. That was a bigger stack than I realized. Thanks Marc!

Holy Shit

So yesterday a surprise envelope arrived from Lanny. Seeing how he’d just sent me three 1954s including a Monte Irvin this was not just unexpected but verged on being confusing. Inside was a team bag with its contents obscured and just a note showing that said “Read First!”

So I did and why don’t I just let it speak for itself.

So I know this is beat up. Like, REALLY beat up. But I remember you saying you'd never be able to get one, and it's 100% authentic! I stopped at my LCS for boxes, almost forgot to drive by. As I was checking out, this was on his desk, he had just bought a collection. I told him the story, he cut me a great deal, the rest is history, enjoy!

This shot my eyebrows up. One, because the list of cards that I’ve mentioned that I’ll never get is pretty short and consists of cards that are massively out of my price range. And second, because Lanny is notoriously picky about the condition of his cards and so I was curious about what condition “like REALLY beat up” meant to someone like him.*

*For me it would mean massive paper loss someplace or torn in half. In other words typical Zeenut condition.

Since the card was still hidden between some advertising inserts* I had a bit of unwrapping left before I started swearing.

*Amusingly enough these were “Spring Fever Baseball” inserts from 1986 Topps Mini Leaders.

Swearing in a good way. As in giant smile holy fucking shit are you kidding me kind of swearing. Is it beat up? Absolutely. But aside from the two top corners it’s in really great shape. None of the picture itself is damaged. No creases. No scuffs. I’m not sure this even got flipped. It was definitely loved and taped into an album but compared to most of my 1961 cards it’s in much better shape.

As with some of my favorite things, wear like this indicates card usage rather than card abuse to me. Which is great. It’s beat up in a way that suggests how it was taken care of. And it’s taken care of in a way that I can only conclude that it was was valued by a previous owner in the way that little kids love things to death. Yes I can totally see my kids taping their favorite cards into an album.

Am I assuming it was a favorite card? A little. But it’s Willie Fucking Mays—Willie Fucking Mays the year after he won the MVP and the World Series and made The Catch and wait that’s all on the back of the card.

Yeah there’s writing here. To my eyes it looks like “194 193” which I don’t understand but guess it might have something to do with the card number. Thankfully it doesn’t obscure any of the text. And thankfully the owner didn’t push any harder since it’s pushing through to the front as it is.

It’s wonderful to have all this back information though and be reminded of a time before Mays was the best player in the game. It’s not just that the New York Giants Mays cards are super cool because they predate the move West, their early-career nature shows Mays’s emergence and it’s wonderful to see him so young.

I never expected to get any of May’s 1950s cards—especially his New York ones. 1955 is a great one to have. Great photo. Nice color. Captures the stats and highlights of one of his best seasons. And it competes my team set of 1955 Topps Giants cards. Yes there are only 10 in the set* but it’s still a completed team set. Until yesterday my oldest set was 1973. Now it’s 1955.

*Bowman has 17 for comparison.

Thanks so much Lanny! Sorry about all the swearing.