Category Archives: sports

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 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.

A huge box from the Pacific Northwest

For about a month we were all moved in to our new house. Then school started and the POD we shipped across the country with all the stuff that’s been eating up room at our parents’ houses for the past couple decades arrived and I’ve been swamped sorting and getting up to speed in the new routine.

All of which means I’ve been behind a bit in the photography and in the keeping on top of trade posts. And I’m way behind in museum writeups from last summer as well. I will get to all of those soon enough but first the trade posts since I like to acknowledge those as soon as I possibly can.

Last week I got a box from Tim Jenkins. I was expecting a box. I was not expecting this large of one. Tim had said he was sending a bunch of cards—most of would be earmarked for the boys—but I was woefully unprepared for what constituted a bunch. I think Tim’s card room must have exploded and is trying to establish beachheads in other collections around the country.

Anyway I’ll start at the top and work down.

Right on top of the box when I opened it was a big padded envelope which I almost tossed as packaging but was optimistic smart enough to look inside just in case. Inside a was hiding a large Stanford pennant. It’s one of the old-style floppy felt ones. Not sure where I’ll hang it up yet but there’s defintely a place for it in the house somewhere.

Under that were a pair of kids shirseys which look like they were stadium giveaways at some point or another. These are fun—especially on the East Coast where all of us West Coast fans have to band together for support since none of our teams get covered out here.

It was especially nice to get the King Felix jersey in time for his last game with the Mariners. My eldest briefly considered wearing it that day too.

There was also a large toploader filled with a selection of oversized stuff. Two 8×10s, one from a 1990 photo pack, the other a 1997 Donruss Studio Portrait. The 1990 Mitchell is a lot of fun. I have the 1989 pack of four—Kevin Mitchell, Will Clark, Robby Thompson,* and Rick Reuschel—but never got any others. It’s great to see that other years exist and to add them to the collection.

*Robby signed his in Philadelphia.

The Bonds portrait meanwhile functions as a proper card and makes me wonder were that limit is of when these things stop counting as cards. In many ways these 8×10s feel too large. In many other ways they function exactly as the original trading cards functioned where they’re recognizable images that are intended to be traded or pasted into albums.

Moving into the non-card realm is a photograph of Willie Mays at the 1956 Hall of Fame Game. This is a cool image capturing the grace of Mays’s follow-through as well as the intimate setting of the game. This is no MLB stadium but is instead a basic grandstand without even a proper dugout.

It’s also an interesting comparison with the previous two cards. Where those two feel like baseball cards, this photo does not. And it’s not the card stock part but rather the nature of the image itself. It’s not a Baseball Card™ image even though it would work fine in Stadium Club or a 1970s Calbee set.

Anyway to another oversize item, this time an 5½×8½ card of Barry Zito from the Hutch Awards. I gather that Tim attends these each year. Looks like a very nice cause and the list of honorees includes a number of good guys. This is kind of an awful size for collecting since it’s too small for a single-pocket page and too large for two-pockets but it’s still a nice piece.

Tim also included a card from this year’s awards since Stephen Piscotty is part of my Stanford collection.Thankfully the Piscotty card is the regular-size of 2½×3½ inches although the design feels like it’s intended to be a bit larger. It’s a great addition to the Stanford Album though. I’ll take whatever oddballs I can find for that.

Before we get to the cards proper, there’s a bit of assorted ephemera to get through. The postcard looks like it’s from the early 1960s (still about the stadium being new plus there’s no hint of expansion, artificial turf, or the 49ers) and is very cool. I’m a sucker for old postcards but I like them to be of places I not only know but have strong ties to. Candlestick definitely fits that bill.

The pocket schedules are from the 1990s plus 2007. I especially like the 1997 one because it shows the view I had from my seats in Upper Reserve Section  8. There’s a reason I’v been taking my kids to games from this same viewpoint.

The last item here is an oversize Kevin Frandsen card of unknown origin. Tim’s sent me a couple others of these but they were freebies from an Ebay seller so none of us has any idea where they came from.

Last bit of ephemera are a handful of pins and buttons. Perry and McCovey are from Chevon stations in the early 1990s. I have a few of them as well. Clark Trillo and Davis are Fun Food Buttons from 1984/85 and are a cool little release that’s fun to have even while I wonder how to store them.

I love the 1989 Division Champion button. I don’t remember seeing these but the thing about winning the pennant is that no one cares about winning the division. I have a few 1989 World Series pins but none of them are the A’s World Champion ones. I’m just glad that the 2002 World Series pin doesn’t commemorate the Angels the same way. That loss still hurts despite the success that arrived eight years later.

To the cards, starting off with the Pilots. Because of course. I’m slowly collecting these because of both the single year thing and Ball Four. Tim meanwhile is the expert on all things Pilots on Twitter so having a few Pilots in the package is sort of obligatory.

And finally to the cards proper, starting off with a bunch of well-loved vintage Giants which Tim pulled out of packs 50 years ago. Most of these will make their way into my kids’ collections. I’ve already started them off with their first batch.

It amazes me that they have cards which are almost 60 years old. I wasn’t even collecting cards at my youngest’s age and at my eldest’s age my oldest card was from 1979. This worked back to 1972 and eventually, 1960 so they’re way way way ahead of me in this department. At least they’re properly thankful about it and have shown me their oldest cards a couple times (a day) since I gave it them their stacks.*

*At the same time they’re now talking about how they don’t have any “real” New York Giants cards and yeah I had to remind them that I didn’t get my first New York Giants card until I was 39 years old.

Some more well-loved vintage which shows off how the 1969 Giants cards were not too awful given the photography shenanigans of the 1969 set. Only Monbouquette is a “typical” 1969 card. The rest, even if from older photo sessions, look pretty nice.

I snagged the Bolin for my own collection since I only have the white-letter version but the rest of these are marked for delivery to the boys.

Continuing into the 70s with the well-loved vintage and two great Tito Fuentes cards. My eldest wants a Tito headband card but I suspect he’ll like these ones too. Both boys really like the 1972 design because it’s so colorful. I remember being the same when I was their age.

More 1970s for their collections. The Marichal isn’t technically a Giants card but I’m going to slide it into my album anyway. The rest of the 1974s are pretty great. The Maddox is a big hit and they appreciate how classic this design looks.

Flashing forward 15 years to the first half of the 1990s. Most of these I have. Most of them the boys do not. But the Minor League cards are fun and a decent number of the Leafs were cards I never snagged too.

More 1990s. Metal Universe is a trip but I’m kind of liking these ones with their Bay Area landscapes. The boys aren’t as impressed with the uncoated Fleer cards as I am though.

To the early 2000s cards—many of which I didn’t have. So many sets, so hard to keep on top of all if them. I can’t imagine what it was like at the time. Now at least 15 years later I can at least pick and choose what I like and do research about what I want to pursue.

So like 2003 Fleer I dig not only because it’s nice to see the 1963 design get used in a full-size set but also because Fleer updated the position icon so it’s not merely a copy.

And finally a few more-recent Giants cards. Not much to say about these except that that Playoff Prestige Santiago card doesn’t have any obvious information saying it was manufactured by Donruss and that kind of weirded me out.

Also I feel like the Turkey Red cards are something Topps kept trying to make a thing and they never took off. It’s interesting to me how some of the retro looks have become hugely popular and others just have not.

Moving on to some odds and ends. Eight 7-Eleven coins from both the East and Central regions. Very much my jam. I only have the Atlee Hammaker from this year too so these are very much appreciated.

The DiMaggio Upper Deck insert is from the 2000s but it reminds me of the ones from my youth. I always enjoy DIY traded cards like this one of Jesus Alou and I love being that have another Free Agent Draft playing card.

Three Stanford guys for the album. I don’t explicitly collect Woods but he’ll always have a place in the album. I kind of love the Lonborg with its canted horizon that places him upright in the frame. And the McCarty Pacific is one of my favorite Pacific designs in that it just doesn’t look like any other cards that have been made.

At the bottom of the box were a bunch of boxes of cards. One held assorted commons from various sets. A few were of extremely fun kid-appropriate sets like Pacific Legends, Panini Cooperstown, and Panini Golden Age which feature players from the past and have backs with wonderful short biographies.

The stacks of 1990 Fleer and 1991 Donruss which yielded a couple cards for my set builds. The Score oddballs are cards I never encountered as a child. And there was a decent stack of 1989 Topps Traded.

Another box held a 60-percent complete 1991 Leaf set. It was even collated. I’m not sure how I’m going to divide this up. Maybe it’ll become a project for the both of them to work on. I liked 1990 Leaf. I also like 1992 Leaf. This one’s always a bit of an afterthought. I kind of like the photo-corners look but I can see why it’s not to everyone’s taste.

the last box held a ton of 2004 Total. Uncollated. I still haven’t sorted this aside from pulling out Stanford guys for my collection and guys who might be coaches in the Eastern League (Paul Abbott and Micheal Tejera) next season.

I also sorted out the inserts, parallels, Hall of Famers, and Giants to make dividing these up a bit easier. This sets’s way to huge to collect and has way too many obscure players to just divide things up thoughtlessly. At least with stars and shiny stuff the kids should be somewhat happy with the fairness.

Whew. That was a lot of stuff. Thanks Tim! It already looks like it will be generating many happy days for the kids over the next months.

So I jumped the gun…


When I wrote about wrapping up our season, while it was about Trenton, I was in the mindset that it was also our last baseball game of the year. As we drove back from the ballpark we were talking about how many games we’d gone to and had all reached the conclusion that that was it.

Then last weekend I caught notice that Somerset was playing a Saturday night game with a super hero theme so the boys and I decided to head out for one last game. I’d been to Somerset earlier this season but this would be the boys’ first time. It’s always nice to add a new ballpark to your life list.


We ate before we left and still managed to get the the park in time for the boys to get their capes. There were enough kids wearing them at the ballpark that even the older kids were okay dressing up. Also there were all kinds of costumed heroes walking around and many of the fans were dressed up too.

My youngest ate it up. He loves Batman so he loved the Batman-themed jerseys and all the other stuff going on. We just wish that the baseball caps had batears like the batcowl.


The highlight though was getting Frank Viola’s autograph before the game. My eldest received a complete (well near complete) set of 1991 Topps for Christmas and when we were getting ready for the Thunder season I noticed that Frank Viola was the Binghamton pitching coach. It was at this moment that the idea of getting his 1991 cards signed occurred to him. And it was this moment which also encouraged me to look up the other coaches and figure out who had played in the pros.

So while Joe Oliver was the first autograph of the set (and my son added Brian Harper later), he was disappointed to find that Viola had switched from Binghamton to coach for the High Point Rockers. That High Point was in town for this game meant that we were able to wrap up the season getting autographs on the two cards that were part of the excitement in the beginning. Very cool.


This takes my son to four in-person autographs on his 1991 Topps set. Is he getting the complete set signed? LOL of course not. But it’s going to be fun to see how many he can add to it. Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley has a card in the set (a fact I only realized after the season ended).  And Pete Incaviglia manages Sugarland which comes to Somerset a couple times a year*

*Actually this week but only on school nights so no dice.

1991 also just looks pretty good signed. Nice photos and simple borders. I like that the two Viola cards look so different too.


In order to stave off sibling rivalries for now, I’ve been supplying my youngest with cards so he can “me too” with his brother. In this case where his brother is getting 1991 Topps signed, he’s getting 1991 Donruss. I know I know. Those are just the duplicates I have handy.

Still there is something to 1991’s color which appeals to his sensibilities though. In many ways it’s a perfect set for him. And the 1987 is because I happen to have a ton of those as well. But it’s a good year for Viola too.


Viola is a super nice guy. Chatted briefly with the kids and thanked them for having his cards. They were super happy as we settled into our seats and watched the game. It was fun for the boys to watch without a rooting interest. Somerset is nominally our home team but they kind of rooted for High Point because of Viola.

We just watched the game. Saw a couple guys steal first base and chatted about how the Atlantic League rules are different.* My eldest has started to recognize when balls are well hit too. For a long time they couldn’t tell if something was hit well or not but a couple of the homers in this game were crushed and he could tell how those looked and sounded different.

*I’ve been wondering how to score those. The box score from this game lists them as HBPs even though the Atlantic League rules suggest that they should be listed as SBs. My gut suggests that they should be listed as WPs or PBs and count (or not) as earned runs accordingly.

He also noticed that many of the players had Major League experience and even recognized a few names from his collection. I suspect we’ll be going to more Somerset games next year and be keeping more up-to-date on the roster. The more low-key autograph scene here suits my preferences and my kids’ comfort a lot more.

High Point jumped out to an early 4-run lead. Somerset scratched back to within one. Then the Somerset pitcher ran out of gas, loaded the bases, and the relievers proceeded to let a couple runs in, re-load the bases and serve up a grand slam. Still, we saw some nice defense in there as well and there were plenty of other Independent League shenanigans as well.


Mascots and superheroes roaming the aisles. Batman clips on the Jumbotron. Tshirt tosses (my eldest grabbed one). Playing “Piano Man” when it hit 9:00.* And yes fireworks after it all ended and Somerset was put out of its misery.

*No tonic and gin for sale though. 

The show had been hyped as a good one and it was one of the better stadium shows I’ve seen. An NJ Transit train pulled in right during the finale and I found myself wondering how much the train riders could see since it looked like things were being fired off right nest to the tracks.

There’s another series in a couple weeks. I don’t expect us to go but I can see them lobbying for it…

End of the season

We got back from summer vacation in time to catch one last Trenton Thunder game. Feels like ages ago since we were going to games in the Spring. Not just the two-month gap, we’ve moved and everything is different (in a good way) in our lives now.

Trenton’s changed a lot too. Half the team we remember has been promoted and since we hadn’t paid too much attention to the Yankees Minor League transactions over the summer we had a lot of catching up to do. The boys enjoyed it though in an everything-positive way. They were excited for all the guys who made it to AAA and they were happy to see some of their favorites who were still around.

They were especially excited to find that one of the players whose autograph they’d gotten in Spring had since appeared in the Majors. Adonis Rosa got just a cup of coffee pitching the final two innings of one game but still, very cool. Now they get to decide if that‘s enough to move him from their Minor League section to their Major League section of their autograph binders.

We didn’t plan on doing any autograph hunting at the game. Last one of  the season and just relaxing at the stadium sounded fun. But there was a table set up behind the press box and the line wasn’t too bad so the boys decided they’d take their chances.


It turned out that two players would be signing. The first was Chris Gittens whose autograph we’ve gotten before. He’s super nice though and it was a great chance to congratulate him on winnig the Eastern League MVP Award. He’s one of the boys’ favorites too so they were excited to see him as well. I suspect they’re hoping that he’s promoted next year though.


The other player was Isiah Gilliam who’s been at Trenton since July but is new to all of us. He also seems like a nice guy. Since he started at Tampa this season there’s a decent chance we’ll seem him next year.

The boys each got their program signed and I got my ticket stub signed as a memento. They then proceeded to keep score for the entire game—a decent game but ultimately disappointing 3–2 loss. It’s been a lot of fun to see them grow so much this year.

My youngest used to struggle keeping score and paying close attention longer than 90 minutes. He made it the full two and a half hours this time.

My eldest meanwhile is increasingly noticing stuff that I’m not. This is great since one of the best things about going to a game with other people is that we all key into different things that are going on.


After the game we got to go down on the field for the final Kids Club activity. This was the last Fireworks night of the season and the kids club got to watch it from the outfield. It’s always a treat to be out on the field and this would be the closest they’d been to fireworks ever.


It’s a decent show. Nothing fancy like what Princeton does or crazy like Redentore in Venice. But a very nice way to close out the season and celebrate the ending of summer.


For my part I’ve found that I like turning around and watching people watch the fireworks. Something about the field all dark but the crowd still lit up is sort of magical to me and I like seeing faces get illuminated by different flashes of color (and accompanied by various oooohs and ahhhhs).

School starts this week but the boys are already making plans for next year. The 2020 schedule is in the program and they’ve not only circled all the Sunday day games but have noticed that one of them is Richmond. The boys may be Thunder fans but they‘re Giants fans first and will rooting for the Flying Squirrels that day. I suspect we’ll be trying for autographs as well.