May TTMs

Into May returns. We’ll start off with a couple stragglers. When I started sending requests out last year I knew that a move was likely to come in my near future so I used my parents’ address for my returns. I haven’t sent anything out with their return address for a year now but a few envelopes are finding their way back there. At the beginning of this month they sent me a couple of those returns.

This one from Juan Gonzalez took 418 days to turn around. Gonzalez was one of the first non-Giants, non-Stanford requests I sent out. I had a card handy and yeah, he was a superstar when I was a teenager in the 1990s and I was very happy to finally get my card back.

It’s kind of amazing how much he’s been forgotten now. Being a 40-homer/year guy doesn’t stand out the way it used to. Nor does being a line drive guy in the age of launch angles. And RBIs are one of those stats that’s taken a huge beating in the modern statistical revolution since it reflects opportunities more than anything the batter has control over.

Yes, I agree with modern statistics in recognizing how much of the RBI is outside the batter’s control. At the same time, as a little league coach, driving in runs is important. Someone’s got to do it and we, as a team, are going to celebrate whenever someone gets a ribbie. Someone like Juan Gonzalez who drove in a ton of guys? He deserved every bit of celebration that he received.

Ken Williams was another of my first requests. His return came back almost exactly a year later (362 days) but spent another three months at my parents’ before getting forwarded to me.

Williams is like Bill Wakefield and falls into the grey area of this project. He went pro out of high school and as a result was ineligible for college baseball. While being a professional ball player and attending college is something that feels possible in the 1960s, I really can’t imagine doing so in the 1980s. Especially at a school like Stanford.

Calvin Murray is another one that stayed at my parents’ for a couple months after a 298 day turnaround time. Murray was one of the Giants’ top draft picks when I was getting into the autograph game but I never managed to acquire a card of him on the Giants. So it’s nice to fill that hole (so to speak) and add a Giants card to the Team USA one I have signed.

The boys also got a couple returns this month. They haven’t sent out a lot since letter writing is a lot of work. But they’re happy whenever they get a SASE back with their handwriting on the outside. This month they both got returns from Cory Snyder plus my eldest got a return from Scott Garrelts.

After a couple weeks of no returns I had a day with four returns all at once. The oldest one in there was a 77 day return from Jeff Ballard. I wanted to send him to extend my customs project and included the 1991 Upper Deck since I liked the photo. I usually include multiple customs so the player can keep one or two of them. In this case he signed and returned all three.

The best return of that batch was getting Jim Palmer back in 28 days. I’d gotten a return-to-sender in my first attempt but I saw he was signing again so I figured it was worth a second try.

Indeed it was. 1981 isn’t my favorite design but it looks good with the Orioles caps and the solid cyan ink. And Palmer is one of those guys who, while he had only just retired before I became a fan, was already legendary. I was pretty excited to add him to my collection.

Steve Reed was another 28 day return. He was a Giant twice in my youth. First, he was one of the guys I saw play at San José and debut with the team in 1992. Then he got taken by the Rockies in the expansion draft but after a couple years in Denver he resigned with the Giants as a free agent.

Jeff Reed was the last return of the big batch with a quick 14-day return. He was a good defensive backup catcher. I got his signature on a Reds card back when I was a kid so it’s nice to add a Giants card to the collection. I tossed a 1991 Topps into the envelope as well since it’s one of my favorite designs but I don’t have many of them signed.

A got another return with 1998 Mother’s Cookies in it. First Danny Darwin. Then Steve Reed. Now Jim Poole in 24 days. Those 1997/1998 guys aren’t the ones I remember from my youth but that 1997 team was responsible for my return to baseball after the strike so it’s fun to get their signatures.

Steve Soderstrom came back in 17 days. He’s one of the few guys who I’ve watched at multiple levels. Fresno State always used to come through Stanford before league games started. He then was drafted by the Giants and played at San José before debuting in the majors. Pretty cool when that happens.

Ed Bressoud’s 18 day return was a fun one. He played for the Giants in both New York and San Francisco before losing his job to Jose Pagan and getting grabbed by Houston in the Expansion Draft. It’s always nice to pick up former New York Giants since there aren’t many of them left. Plus, of the few that are still signing I usually don’t have a spare card.

For some reason though I did have an extra Post card of Bressoud. I wasn’t sure how it would look signed but it’s pretty good. There’s something wonderful about how Post is able to get everything you’d want on a card on just one side.

I really enjoyed getting a return from Bill Madlock. He’s just one of those guys who brings me back to my youth. I don’t even know why now (though his nickname certainly didn’t hurt) but he was clearly a quality player for a long time. Plus there’s something about those players whose intensity is so palpable that I think every fan is drawn to.

Mad Dog wasn’t a Giant for long but I really like his 1979 card which shows a bit of a lighter side of him. I’m glad I had some Giants duplicates since I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed a 1987 or 1988 Topps cards nearly as much.

I had a bunch of Nate Oliver cards in the pile from my dentist so I figured I should give him a try. He came back in only 9 days. Sending the 1968 worked out well too since he actually played a little for the Giants that year. He’s primarily a Dodger on cardboard and has no Giants cards—he finished 1968 with the Yankees so his 1969 card is a Yankees card—but he’s going to go into my Giants binder just the same.

I got a nice fast return from Gary Lavelle in seven days. He was a Giant for over a decade before finishing up his career in Toronto and Oakland. I just missed watching him so he kind of represents the team that existed right at the fringe of my fandom. Is nice to have a card from each end of his stint with the team.

More excitingly I got his 1983 postcard signed. These are the postcards I got from my dentist and they are the perfect size for autograph requests. Not all the guys sign but it’s nice to send some larger items out. Even just expanding the item to 3.5″×5″ makes a huge difference in the way the autograph looks.

The last return of the month was another postcard. Jim Barr returned his in 11 days. I’d previously gotten his autograph on a bunch of cards but the postcard was too nice to not try. This is also from 1983 and is a great photo of Candlestick as I remember it.

All in all a pretty good month. Started off slow but thankfully things picked up. It’s been a nice surprise to check my mail while we’ve been stuck at home during the Covid staycation.

Cards from Cards on Cards

Earlier this month Kerry over at Cards on Cards (@cardsoncards) hosted a small free mini break of a bunch of packs of 2019 Topps of the Class. These kind of weird little parallel sets are kind of my jam so I signed up for the Giants.

Unfortunately I got skunked. The break ended up being wildly unbalanced. Some teams got all kinds of duplicates while many were shut out. Very much how things used to be when I was a kid where I’d run into the same cards over and over and never see others.

Anyway, yesterday I found an envelope from Kerry in my mailbox and inside was one of the duplicate Joey Gallo cards. It doesn’t look like anyone even grabbed the Rangers in the break so I gather that Kerry was glad to get them sent out to anyone who’d take them.

This is a set of cards which my kids would’ve loved if they had a card store anywhere near where we lived. The idea is that you would bring your report card into a shop and get a pack of five cards. I wish they had this kind of thing when I was a kid and had access to like three different card shops.

If this was happening last year I’d’ve felt  a little weird about where these packs came from. But a year after the promotion means these were just sitting in a forgotten pile. Which is great since it reminds me of the 1990 Donruss Learning set that I never saw when I was a kid but would totally have been all over.

Kerry can fit six cards in an envelope so he packed a handful of Giants in for me. The Brandon Belt is a Diamond Anniversary Limited Edition stamped parallel of his base 2011 card. No idea what that means in terms of distribution but I definitely know I don’t have it already.

The Willie Mays is a Spring has Sprung insert from 2020 Opening Day—a set I’ve seen all of one card from to-date. I can’t tell if the border is trying to be old-looking or if it’s supposed to be a nice pastel yellow color. I’m hoping the latter since it triggers a bit of “mismatched white point dissonance” in my brain. Nice to add this one to the collection as well.

The 2009 Turkey Red of Bengie Molina is another card I don’t have. A lot of the Topps Turkey Reds have appalling artwork but this one’s pretty nice. I will never understand why Topps preferred to use the modern-looking shiny black jerseys on these vintage-looking cards though.

The 2019 Joe Panik is a pink Chrome parallel which will add a bit of color to the album. And the foil 2020 Donruss Mauricio Dubon—about as nice an unlicensed card as you can hope to see with the angle of the picture obscuring the logoless cap—makes this a nice 5 for 5 on getting Giants cards I don’t have yet. An impressive percentage for a random unlooked-for plain white envelope.

Very cool. Thanks Kerry!

A couple pre-war pickups

I guess I’m going to just be blogging every week about pre-war card pickups. No set this time just a couple I’ve grabbed that I had my eye on for a while.

The first pickup is a 1909–11 Murad T51 Stanford card. Aside from being relevant to my collecting interests, I’ve especially liked that it features forestry as its sport and depicts on its artwork what looks like a giant redwood forest.

This is like 65 years before the Stanford Tree masco. The fact that it depicts what would become the school mascot takes it from being cool just because it’s old (only 25 years after the university’s founding) to sort of predicting the future.

Also the artwork itself is pretty nice with its gold border ink and sense of scale in the giant redwoods and tiny horsemen. We don’t see any of forest canopy we’re just among the tree trunks. Which really is how it feels to be in those forests in California.

The second pickup is from Anson over at Prewarcards. He was clearing out some excess and one of the cards in his clear out was this Origin of Football card from the 1923 Sarony Origin of Games set. I’ve loved this card ever since Anson showed it off on twitter not just because I’m a soccer fan but because it appears to show a form of Calcio Storico.

While the backs don’t mention anything about the Italian version of calcio, the fact that a version of the sport which looks very much like this card is still being played in Florence is something I just can’t ignore.

Anyway because Anson is a great member of the community and has also been super generous with me in the past,* I jumped on his sale and was very happy to receive his extra version of this card.

*Including the card of cards from the Sarony set.

Anson included a second card in the envelope too. This is from the 1925 Turf Cigarettes Sports Records set and depicts sprinting and its record times. That the card is a British issue means it shows the 100 yard time instead of 100 meters so I can’t compare it to a historical record progression.

It is however an interesting comparison to the 1939 Churchman’s card of Jesse Owens which lists a speed of 9.4 seconds for the 100 yards—.4 seconds faster than the record of 9.8 seconds depicted on the 1925 card (Owens’s 220 yard speed is .9 seconds faster).

April TTMs

A slowish month. As expected since I stopped sending things out in March. I did however start sending again mid-April. Partly because it seems like everyone was starting to look for things to do at home. And partly because mail volume was clearly dropping off and while I wasn’t able to buy more stamps, doing what I can to increase volume as a show of support for the Post Office was something I felt was good to do.

Don Sutton’s autograph arrived on his birthday. So that was cool. It was out for 31 days—not too long but with the pandemic going on but long enough to make me start to think that it wasn’t coming back. I was always fascinated by his cards when I was a kid since they were FULL of stats. This 1981 is the right intersection of junk wax but with the correct team. Plus it shows off his glorious hair.

Bobby Grich is one of those guys who was on the Hall of Fame bubble as a “good but not great” when I was little but, as our statistics have become better at describing the game, has become clearly recognized as one of the more underrated players ever. While I’m not 100% sold on the advanced stats, they are useful as a way of highlighting guys whose numbers were not served well by the traditional stats.

Grich clearly deserved better than to fall off the ballot after one year and I was very happy to get his card back in 41 days. Did it get mangled a little? Yes. Those are the risks you take in the TTM game. But it still presents okay.

This was a fun one because it’s become my oldest autographed card. My Junior High self would be super impressed at this. Where my childhood goal was to collect one card from each year, now I have at least one autographed card from 1960–1970 as well as one from 1957.

This 1957 came from Jason. Erskine is legendary in TTM circles because he truly loves connecting with baseball fans across generations. It’s awesome. I sent him a nice letter thanking him for being such a fan favorite and telling him about how I’ve been taking the boys around Nw York to see the old ballpark locations. We can’t wait to visit the Ebbets Field location. 11 days later I got his response.

I normally include only one index card as a stiffener. In this case I included two because I’ve found that a decent number of guys use the index cards to write notes back to me and Erskine has a reputation for writing notes. Instead I got two signed cards with inscriptions and a note written on the back of my return envelope.

The note is nice. It confirms that he read my letter and shows he understands how siblings work. And it demonstrates exactly why he’s a legend.

Two cards for two kids. Will this make them Dodgers fans? No. Were they happy to see that he no-hit the Giants? Also no. Were they excited to learn about Erskine and have a tactile reminder of the Brooklyn Dodgers? Absolutely yes.

On the topic of TTM legends, I also figured it was time to send to Bobby Shantz. This was a other fun letter to write since he’s one of the old timers I met back when I was 10 years old. Never hurts to say thanks again and it was very nice to add a signed card to that project six days later.

I also included some print-outs of one of my Viewmaster scans. This is just a two and a half inch square but it looks very neat signed. I guess this is counts as a custom even though it’s mostly just an enlargement.

He also signed an index card for me and included a ton of inscriptions and he thanked me for including extras of the Viewmaster even though he returned them unsigned. Maybe he goofed and put them in the envelope out of habit.

I got a seven-day return from Jack McDowell. I sent to him to get a custom signed and figured I might as well include an extra oddball. He kept one custom and sent two back. It’s nice to be making some progress on this Stanford customs project too.

An awesome seven-day return from the original Frank Thomas added another signed 1964 card to my old-timers project to go next to Bobby Shantz. As with Shantz, it was nice to write Thomas a thank you note for being cool to a 10-year-old. He sent a custom of his own as well as a huge letter.

I have no idea how he can write so small but he apparently sends these letters to everyone who writes him. My hand hurts just looking at this but I’m super impressed. A lot of these guys show a squirrelly hand when just signing their autographs and Frank Thomas is over here filling entire sheets of paper with miniscule but very nice cursive.

I think of Danny Darwin as an Astro but he was part of the 1997 Giants team that cured me of my strike malaise. It was nice to get a 10-day return from him and add another Mother’s Cookies card—even one of the later sets with a lousy design—to the album. I’m also low-key liking 1988 Topps as a set for getting signed.

Another Stanford custom. This time Mike Mussina came back in 11 days. I’m enjoying accumulating these customs and it’s always nice when the player keeps some of them as well. This takes me to nine total signed customs and now I get to think about whether I want to page them all together or leave them with each player.

And that’s it for April. Not a bad month all things considered. It’s been a nice break to write a couple letters every week or so. Plus it’s definitely fun to get something in the mail.

Signature Sleuth

A relatively new Twitter account which I’ve been following is Signature Sleuth (@SignatureSleuth). He’s kind of crazy and buys big lots of autographed baseballs. He then often posts photos of them on Twitter as both contests to guess who the player is or to figure things out if he’s unable to do so.

I don’t like the guess-the-player ones but when he posts team balls those turn into fun little puzzles. After a team ball is solved he sends a random autograph to one lucky participant, one of which ended up being me.

So my plain white envelope arrived earlier this week. Inside was this Jacob Cruz autograph which is exactly the kind of autograph I was expecting. There are so many “junk” autographs out there in the hobby now which have no appeal to anyone except a hard-core team collector. As such a collector though this is the kind of thing I enjoy.

Cruz never really lived up to the hype as a player but he was a guy I saw come through Sunken Diamond when he played for Arizona state. Always fun to see guys I watched in college make it to the show, especially when it’s for my team.

Thanks for the card and keep the team balls coming!

Totes jelly

Kind of funny. For the past month I’ve not gotten any mail on Saturdays. It’s weird when that happens since I keep thinking mail is arriving super late instead and end up checking every hour until it gets dark. I began to think that Saturdays were only for packages and that regular letters and junk mail would wait until Monday.

Then last Saturday I got a regular delivery. And then on Sunday I woke up to find another delivery in my box which suggests that I was both correct to check for late deliveries and that of course the one day I didn’t check for a late delivery is the day I left packages on my doorstep overnight.

Anyway one of those packages was a box from Marc Brubaker. Yeah, a box. I’ve gotten boxes from Marc before but between the complete absence of baseball and much-decreased access to product the past couple months have been all about surprise plain white envelopes—something at which Marc excels.

So I opened it up and found that it wasn’t a box of cards. Yes there were cards inside but also two rolls of film and a jar of loquat jelly from his recent bounty. Film is much appreciated though I haven’t had a chance to go out for a photowalk in a long time. Heck I’m still working my way through a roll of 220 from my last mailing of film. I’m pretty sure it’s Portra 400 and at this point I hope it is since I’m exposing it as if it is.

And the jelly will be great. We’ve been making lots of pancakes and it’s great to change things up with different toppings. As someone who grew up with loquat trees in his backyard this will be a great taste to introduce to the kids as well. I’d love to be able to find them out here in New Jersey but they don’t seem to be able to survive our winters.

And yes there was also a surprising amount of cards—three team bags worth—in the box. The usual assortment of Giants, Stanford, and randoms so let’s start with the Giants. I’m continuously amazed at how I can discover new sets that were released in the 1990s and 2000s.

With the 1980s at least the sets I’ve never heard of are regional releases. In the 1990s and 2000s though there are so many big releases that I just can’t keep track. The 2000 Metal cards here are one such set that I’d just never seen. Not as over-the-top as the earlier Metal cards which remain some of the craziest cards I’ve ever seen but still an interesting finish to the card surface which remains unlike anything being produced now.

A couple other cards to note are the Pinnacle Steve Hosey and Silver signature Barry Bonds which both fill holes in sets that I only ver purchased a single pack of as a kid. The 1992 John Patterson meanwhile fills a nice hole since I have that card in my autograph binder.

There was also a lot of Gypsy Queen. I’m happy other people buy this product and send me Giants because I will never spend money on these. Same goes with Gallery. They add a bit of variety to the binder but a little bit goes a long long way. And that the Brandon Belt card is one of those fancy framed variants that always interests me from a production point of view.

The super-sparkly (or whatever this is called) Tyler Beede is a similar addition. I don’t chase these cards either and kind of hate all the insert variants. But I do enjoy adding the splash of interest to a binder page.

I do like the Wilhelm Distinguished Service card. Military service is an interesting and different way to build a checklist. Where my parents’ generation grew up seeing military service listed in the statistics of many players, by the time I was a kid that was all a thing of the past.

The Pinnacle Tim Lincecum is kind of nice too. It’s weird. 2013 Panini had a bunch of one-year-wonder sets that are more interesting than most of what has become their standard releases. My understanding is that sets like Pinnacle and Hometown Heroes caused collectors to take Pinnacle seriously yet neither of those sets were ever released again.

To the 2020 cards. Marc’s been surprisingly active acquiring cards this year. We’ve got Heritage, Opening Day, Stickers, Flagship, and Donruss all represented. Meanwhile it’s been over two months since I even set foot in a store which stocks cards.

This completes my Heritage team set (well except for the Yastrzemski shortprint) and gives me my first taste of Opening Day, Stickers, and Donruss. I can see why people like this year’s Donruss set. Logolessness aside it’s come into its own and has a clean, generic 1990sish design. Still a little too reminiscent of the Donruss designs from 2014 to 2017 for me but it at least knows what it’s doing now.

A batch of Stanford guys which features some more 2000 Metal as well as a couple other cards I don’t have yet. Some of those, like the 1989 Score Traded Mike Aldrete, are sort of surprising omissions. Others such as the Appell, Hutchinson, and Mussina are the kind of things I never search for but love to add to the binder.

Marc also went ahead and attacked some of my smaller projects. A handful of Scott Erickson cards. Four 2014 Topps for the setbuild. Two Sportflics cards for the action binder. All quite welcome and evidence of someone clicking down through the searchlists.

And finally the last handful of cards Marc includes are always a bit of a puzzle for me. Stanford Jenning is clearly a joke. Yes I laughed.

The rest though I’m not so sure about. I thought at first that the Ruth was for my photographer binder but there’s no photographer credited. The two Muñoz cards though I’m genuinely confused by. I’ll keep thinking about it ad maybe it’ll come to me.

Thanks Marc! Stay safe out there.

Grey Areas (and Mission Creep part 2)

While I’m writing about mission creep I may as well cover my Stanford Project and how it’s creeping into never-ending project territory. This isn’t an explicit expansion of the scope of the project—it remains focused on Stanford alumni who played in the Majors—but rather a reflection of how much grey the borders have and how I’m pushing into that greyness.

I’ve mentioned some of this before. Bobby Brown and Bill Wakefield are both examples of how even something as tightly-defined as my base project description has some grey. Bobby Brown didn’t graduate from Stanford but did play for the baseball team. Bill Wakefield meanwhile is the opposite. He graduated from Stanford but went pro before he could play for the team.

I initially ruled Brown out but I’ve come to accept that I should be more inclusive in general with my binder. Something tightly is nice but I found myself enjoying the random out-of-spec cards that I had also included.

Minor league cards of guys who played in the majors but never got major league cards are less of a grey area but one which pushed me out of my Major League cards only initial concept. I felt it was better to be inclusive here as well and enjoyed the resulting variety.

This of course pushed me into finding assorted cheap signed cards of alumni who didn’t make it to the majors. I’m probably also on the look out for minor league cards of these guys as well now. Not in the sense of have to get them but it’s cards like these that give a bit of variety to the binder and remind me of players I watched when I was kid.

This also meant that I started to look into cards of baseball players who went on to play football and never got a baseball card. With these cards I’ve tried to get cards that mention their baseball playing on the backs. I’m also happy just getting a card to two of each player rather than mapping a career.

Nevers is an interesting case in this group since he does have some baseball cards (I actually have his Conlon card) but they’re mostly unattainable Zeenuts. And his only vintage football card is one that’s out of my price range but it’s one I like since it shows him with Stanford.

There are also cards of non-baseball alumni that show up in baseball sets. This is mostly an Allen & Ginter phenomenon but the Tom Watson First Pitch insert shows that things aren’t limited to that. I don’t feel the need to get both regular or mini versions here, it’s really just a function of what I find.

I do however like this sort of organic creep. These are all technically baseball cards still, just not of baseball players. (Yes Jessica Mendoza counts as baseball now due to her stint as an advisor for the Mets). I don’t claim to have everyone in Ginter either since I haven’t gone over the whole checklist or insert sets with a fine toothed comb.

The Ginter cards also take us into Olympian territory. While I don’t feel any desire to get cards of players in the NBA or NFL, I do find myself liking the cards of Stanford Olympians.

Stanford’s rich Olympics history has been especially fun to research since Guys like Pete Desjardins show up in sets from the 1930s and Bob Mathias is in sets from the 1950s. While there are a lot of 1980s and 1990s Olympic history sets, it’s great to be able to throw some old cards into the binder too.

In the old card theme, sometimes I just can’t pass one up. I love Exhibits so Jack Palance was an obvious addition. There have been a bunch of Presidents sets but I like this 1956 Topps Herbert Hoover as one of the earlier ones.

And the Sportscaster Hank Luisetti was a nice solution to the “what Sportscaster should I get” question I was stuck on. With an old or weird set, finding something that fits in the grey area of my collection interests is how I choose my example card.

With more-modern weird sets, this sometimes manifests itself as a “what the hell I’m already doing this project” acquisition. Again, not something I actively seek out but fun to grab as I come across them. The non-sports ones are ones I’m more likely to grab too since they represent an interesting category of people who I don’t always expect to find on trading cards.

And finally there are the regular sports cards that I’ve just come across. Some of these have shown up in trade packages. Others just in piles of cards I’ve had access to. Again not anything I’m searching for or intentionally expanding the scope of the project to include. But they’re all fun additions which make the binder more interesting.

Vandal PWE

This week brought another plain white envelope in my mail from Jason. This one was both pretty stiff and mysteriously marked with a big “open carefully” on the side. I did my usual thing and snipped an end off as if this were a policy envelope and was immediately very glad I did so.

Inside I found two super-thin, almost bible-paper quality that sticks together with static electricity, sheets of paper that had been cut out of a book. They’re in great condition but still feel incredibly fragile. Jason claims to have purchased a batch of clippings and denies being a book vandal so I had to do some research based on the back side of these.

The fronts are obviously John McGraw. On the left, a younger-looking McGraw in a starched, probably-detachable collar. On the right, McGraw as I’m used to seeing him as the Giants manager. In both cases his competitive nature is clearly visible despite the early halftone printing (which is actually very well done in gterms of keeping detail in both his dark suit and whte collar).

The backs suggest that the photo on the left is from 1911 (though I suspect it’s older than that) and the one on the right, 1913. In any case the backs are enough to date the book as being around 1914 or so.

Go I googled around and discovered that these are actually from two books. Or, well the same book but two different editions. The book in question is the Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide. The left page is from the 1912–1913 edition and I have pages 89 and 90. McGraw is actually on page 90 and so is technically on the back side of the sheet. The right page is from the 1914–1915 edition. I have pages 73 and 74 from this book and, being the same format, McGraw is again on the back of the sheet, this time occupying page 74.

I did not read the entire books but in flipping through to confirm I’d found the right ones I couldn’t help but notice that in each book the sheet before the McGraw sheet features a photo of the Giants president. 1912–13 depicts John T Brush, whose name remains on the only remaining part of the Polo Grounds, which was dedicated to him after his death in 1912. 1914–15 depicts the new president H.N. Hempstead.

Jason also included two cards in the envelope. Two very similar poses and lots of color but the similarities mostly stop there. The Stanley Hack is a 1935 National Chicle Diamond Stars card. I’ve long admired this set with its carefully drawn portraits placed in front of colorfully abstract backgrounds. The three Giants legends in it (Terry, Ott, and Hubbell) are on the top of my list of cards I’d love to get but never will.

This Hack has a nasty crease across the middle but presents really nicely since the crease never actually breaks the surface of the paper. It’s now one of only a half dozen baseball cards I have from before 1940* and is the only one with super-vibrant color.

I thought at first that Jason had gotten the wrong end of the stick when I mentioned that I was looking for a 1955 Doubleheader of Hack and Jack Shepard but it turns out that he’d just noticed me expressing my admiration for Diamond Stars and rueing the fact that I’d probably never acquire one.*

*I’m pretty much incapable of buying a card of a player who’s not a specific collection or team interest of mine.

The other card is a 1975/1976 SSPC Frank Robinson card. This one is notable because it’s the first card of an African American manager. Topps at this time was not releasing manager-specific cards so it’s a very good thing TCMA/SSPC’s wildcat release was around to commemorate the historic first season in cardboard form.

Thanks Jason! A small envelope but a good one. Always fun to be forced to do a bit of research to figure out what something is too.

Candlestick Pages

In the tradition of my Colorwheels project, I have another project I’m passively working on as a way to get a page from multiple sets without going down the rabbit hole of set building. In this case I’m looking at getting a page of cards which show Candlestick park in the background. I grew up with The Stick and seeing it in cards always reminds me of going to games as a kid.

This project only really starts in 1972. From what I’ve been able to figure out, there aren’t really any cards take at Candlestick before this season.* I have most of the Giants cards now and there’s maybe one taken there.** Starting in 1972 though most of the Giants cards are at The Stick and there are a bunch of other cards in the set as well.

*There are cards from the late 1950s and early 1960s that feature Seals Stadium.

**1971 Gaylord Perry

That 1972 is the first year that cards depict Candlestick is fun because many of these cards show all the construction work that went into expanding and enclosing the park for the 49ers. This expansion is what turns Candlestick into the park that I knew and marks another reason for me to only worry about cards starting in 1972.

Unlike the colorwheels project, while I would like to get a nice colorful page, I’m biasing my choices toward interesting photos and between that and the fact that there are only a handful of teams with photos taken in San Francisco I’m finding myself with a lot of repeat teams on each sheet.

1973 and 1974 I’m only getting started with. Nothing much to note here except that it’s nice to see the mix of action and posed images and that Denny Doyle represents one of the rare American League cards that will be in this collection.

1975 and 1976 I have complete pages for. These aren’t set in stone but I went for a nice mix of stadium views. I especially like seeing the 49ers press box and the pre-Jumbotron scoreboard. The switch to wide angle lenses for the portraits in these years also results in fantastic stadium perspectives.

1977 and 1978 demonstrate how certain road teams like the Braves tend to have a lot of Candlestick shots. I’d like more team variety for these pages but since 1978 is a set I’m building I’m stuck with duplicates I come across.

A lot more headshots in these years also means that I don’t see as much of the stadiums in the background.

1979 is very much continuing from 1977 and 1978. I’ve also started putting a page of Hostess cards together since I’ve noticed that a lot of the Hostess cards are shot at Candlestick as well. I think I’m just going to Frankenset a page of Hostess together though unless I come across a big cache of them. And yes the Braves dominance on these pages continues.

Moving into the 1980s and 1990s and I haven’t broken out individual pages yet since there are more sets to consider. When I come across cards I put them in. But I haven’t even done a concerted dig through my piles of junk wax yet to find the undoubtedly dozens of cards that are relevant.

I’m also not sure how far I’m going to take this in the 1990s. Part of me is inclined to stop at the strike. Part of me likes the idea of going all the way until 1999 when the last game was. Might even be fun to see if any photos crept into the 2000 set. But those are longer term goals for now. I’m still learning about what was going on in general in the hobby after 1995.

Mission Creep

So while we’ve all been locked down the boys and I have been getting our baseball fixes in where we can. We’ve watched movies like Field of Dreams. We’ve watched recorded games. We’ve done some Sporcle quizzes. And we’ve looked at our baseball cards.

Not just looking at cards, I think we’ve all taken it upon ourselves to give things a re-sort. For my part I looked at my Giants albums. I’ve had my team sets in alphabetical order by last name. This has been fine, especially as I build the team sets, but it’s never felt right.

One of the things I’ve liked about Mother’s Cookies is how the first sets were ordered by star power. I like the idea of the set telling a story about the team and while paging cards by something like WAR would be an interesting way to do this I decided instead to page them by lineup.

This idea is stolen from some guys on Twitter but the basic idea is that the first page is the main starters for the season, the second are the pitchers, and the rest of the pages are everybody else.

More-specifically, page one is organized like a field:

LF | CF | RF
---+----+---
SS |    | 2B
---+----+---
3B |  C | 1B

Center Square is either the Manager or the Team Card. I really like this because it gives me a sense of what the team actually looked like that season. Both good and bad. Is it fun to see the most valuable players first? Yes. But it’s also important for me to see the “who the hell is that” players to be reminded of the team’s weaknesses as well.

Page two meanwhile is the top nine pitchers on the team. First the four or five starters, then the closer and the relievers.  Page three is the rest of the bench ordered by number of at bats. And page four ends up being players who didn’t play, all stars, league leaders, etc.

I’m already enjoying looking through things more. Now, this kind of sorting isn’t without its problems—the main one is being what season do I choose to represent. Do I sort the cards based on the team that existed the year the cards came out or do I go based on the previous year which is represented in the last line of stats?

There’s no good answer here. Going by the card year means that new players aren’t in the team set. Going by the stats year opens you up to missing guys who were traded late in the season or who changed teams before press time.

I chose to go by the card year. When I look at cards from 1960 or 1970 I’m thinking they represent 1960 or 1970. Stats on the back show me what the guy did last year but the cards stand in for the current season.

This choice means I miss some rookies but more importantly opens up a bit of mission creep with regard to the trades and free agents. Like with my 1968 team set which is basically complete except for the Mays/Mantle/Killebrew card, there’s no second baseman in the team set. When I looked up who played that year I found out it was Ron Hunt who played in almost 150 games at second but whose 1968 card features him with the Dodgers.*

*Note, if I had gone with the previous year I’d be in even more trouble since there’s no Tito Fuentes card in the set at all.

So I’ve gone ahead and added Ron Hunt to my searchlist and done this with a bunch of other players as well. Not everyone who’s missing. But if there’s a position player who started the overwhelming majority of the games or a pitcher who made up a large part of the rotation I feel like I should add him.

Through the 1970s this wasn’t even two dozen cards. I’ll get up to the 1994 strike eventually but with Topps Traded existing plus the existence of multiple brands things are going to get more complicated. I should have coverage with more brands but do I want to mix them? Don’t know yet.

Anyway what I’m currently missing is as follows. Not going to update this the way I’m doing the Colorwheels post since these aren’t priorities. Most are commons and pretty cheap. A couple Hall of Famers or short prints though will definitely be more of a reach. Still it’s nice to see where things started.

1956 Topps 165	Red Schoendienst	St. Louis Cardinals
1956 Topps 247	Bill Sarni		St. Louis Cardinals
1957 Topps 68	Ray Crone		Milwaukee Braves
1957 Topps 218	Ray Jablonski		Chicago Cubs
1957 Topps 271	Danny O'Connell		Milwaukee Braves
1959 Topps 75	Sam Jones		St. Louis Cardinals
1961 Topps 418	Ed Bailey		Cincinnati Reds
1965 Topps 205	Warren Spahn		New York Mets
1965 Topps 218	Dick Schofield		Pittsburgh Pirates
1966 Topps 26	Ray Sadecki		St. Louis Cardinals
1967 Topps 86	Mike McCormick		Washington Senators
1968 Topps 15	Ron Hunt		Los Angeles Dodgers
1970 Topps 103	Frank Reberger		San Diego Padres
1975 Topps 162	Willie Montanez		Philadelphia Phillies
1975 Topps 547	Von Joshua		Los Angeles Dodgers
1976 Topps 81	Darrell Evans		Atlanta Braves
1976 Topps 177	Marty Perez		Atlanta Braves
1977 Topps 47	Lynn McGlothen		St. Louis Cardinals
1977 Topps 76	Tim Foli		Montreal Expos
1977 OPC 56	Bill Madlock		San Francisco Giants
1977 Topps 209	Rob Andrews		Houston Astros
1979 Topps 668	Bill North		Los Angeles Dodgers

Two notes. 1967 Mike McCormick actually lists him as a Giant on the back. And while the 1977 Topps Bill Madlock would be a contender, that there’s an O Pee Chee showing him with the Giants means that’s the better choice for the binder.