Category Archives: sports

Beginnings

This disclaimer is also on my permanent collecting page but in addition to writing about cards I plan to also blog about autographs. For me they’re as tied up with my memories as card collecting is and the two hobbies fed off of each other a lot when I was little. I’d get cards for autograph reasons and I’d be inspired by cards to go get autographs.

While I don’t remember enough specifics about my baseball card collecting beginnings*—aside from going to my first game in 1986, receiving a Hygrade Baseball Card Collecting Kit as a gift**, and then the following spring being into cards and buying rack packs of 1987 Topps—I do remember my first few faltering steps of autograph hunting.

*I’ve kind of touched on it here.

**I’m assuming Christmas.

Those first couple of cards are both personal treasures and a source of embarrassment. I’m thankful I had the opportunity for these baby steps into the hobby and I’m glad that the players weren’t anyone too important or big name to either discourage my future quests or to result in any regrets about not doing things the “correct” way. I’m also a bit embarrassed now at how excited I was to both acquire and then own all of these. And also at how quickly I wanted more more more.

And as a father who may very soon be finding himself watching his sons embark on similar quests, it’s good for me to have these stories written and available or them to read and realize that I was once in their shoes.

Atlee Hammaker 1987 Topps

I’m pretty sure that Atlee Hammaker was the first autograph I ever got. This must’ve been in 1988. There was an event at the Sunnyvale Community Center where he was scheduled to make an appearance and sign autographs. I remember being at the Giants game that afternoon, having it go into extra innings, and rushing back home to make it to the event on time. Little did it occur to me that, because of the game, Hammaker would also be late.

Boy was he late. We kept watching the same highlights and I feel kind of sorry for the Giants Community Representative* who had to vamp the entire time. But Hammaker eventually arrived and I got my first signature and I was very very happy.

*Who might’ve been Mike Sadek.

Given what I’ve learned since about Hammaker since I’m kind of glad and find it somewhat appropriate that he was my first autograph.

With 1987 Topps being my first complete set as well as the first cards I really purchased or collected in earnest, I’m pretty sure this was my only Atlee Hammaker card at the time. It’s a nice albeit is a bit of a generic headshot. But he’s actually smiling and the lighting is good.

Rick Reuschel 1986 Topps Rick Reuschel 1988 Score

Rick Reuschel was our ace pitcher in 1989. I never think of him as a proper ace but I have to recognize and respect that he did start the All-Star game that year.* Anyway he was scheduled to make an appearance at the Giants Dugout Store in San José so of course I went. As did my mom and my sister. I’m pretty sure that this was yet another baseball thing that we dragged my sister to and she patiently put up with waiting in line for what must’ve felt like forever.

*What is it with Giants pitchers in All Star games and monster home runs?

I had brought two cards with me. The 1986 Topps was one of my oldest cards at the time and 1988 Score was one which I just loved the look of. We were only allowed one autograph each. I think my mom took one card and I took the other.

Since I did not trust my sister not to “keep” the card if I gave it to her—it’s not like she collected autographs it’s just one of those sibling things. So my mom purchased one of those souvenir Giants-branded baseballs for her. For a while it just had Reuschel’s signature on it but we eventually filled it up* and she eventually decided that she didn’t want it.

*This deserves, and will get, a post of its own.

Mike Aldrete 1987 Topps

The Stanford Alumni Game used to be the first weekend of the baseball season and officially marked when baseball began in general. That this was usually in the end of January ended up spoiling me tremendously in terms of when I could expect to go to a game. Many Stanford players in the pros would return to campus and play an exhibition against that year’s Stanford team. And there would often be an old timer’s game as well.

While I eventually ended up treating this as a major autograph extravaganza, the first time I went I only brought one card. I only knew of one Stanford Alumnus and it’s only because he played for the Giants. So, as with Atlee Hammaker I brought the only card I had, a 1987 Topps.

No one had told me about Sharpies yet so I just borrowed a pen from my dad. Whoops. It’s held up okay and there’s a certain charm about it which makes it looks like an autographed card from a much earlier age. And while I eventually got another copy signed I could never bear to part with this one. It’s the first autograph I got where I had to approach a player and ask for him to sign all on my own. And that’s a milestone of its own which is worth remembering.

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1973 Mailday

A small mailday from Jeff Katz (@SplitSeason1981) prompted by his recent SABR post where he was looking for trading partners. Jeff’s looking for 1960s cards and has a ton of 1970s cards. I’m not a good fit as my collection is heavily 1987–1993 and I’m both looking for anything before then and have pretty much nothing from then.

That SABR post turned into a chance to send Jeff all of our wants and haves and, since I do have a few duplicates from my eBay acquisitions it turned out that Jeff and I could still do a small trade. So we sent off our respective plain white envelopes loaded with a couple cards and this is what I got.

1973 Topps

1973 is one of the team sets I can actually see feasibly completing* so anything which gets me closer to that goal is always greatly appreciated. I am really digging that Garry Maddox card even with the tilted horizon.

*Between the high numbers and Willie Mays I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to able to complete anything before 1970.

Also, the Boyhood Photos of the Stars card is one which I was really intrigued by when I was a kid. This is partly because Chris Speier had just returned to the Giants when I came onboard as a fan and the idea that he’d been with the team 15 years earlier fascinated me. But I also really liked the idea of seeing what the ballplayers looked like when they were my age.

This is a subset or idea that I’d love to see in a set like Topps Bunt which is aimed and priced for kids. I can totally see my sons having a lot of fun with it.

Blast from the past

A-blast-from-the-past mailday from Peter at Baseball Every Night. In his box break mailing earlier this year he’d hinted that he had a bunch of old Giants cards he was going to send for my kids. So while not unexpected, I didn’t know when to expect the second mailing—or how large of a mailing to expect. These arrived when I was out chasing the eclipse and I’ve only just received the package.

It’s a very generous assortment of cards, many of which are from the sets I used to collect when I was little. I enjoy that so many of these are well-loved. Not abused, just beat up from constant handling. I have a few cards like this in my collection too. Maybe it was a playground acquisition which had to be keep in a pocket or someplace else.* Maybe it was part of a favorite stack to show anyone who’d listen.** Maybe it’s a legacy of the beginning of a collection before binders and pages and learning the “correct” way to store things.***

*I vividly remember keeping cards in my pulled-up socks and unpeeling them from my shin when I got home.

**A phase my eldest son is currently going though.

***As a parent, the best thing about binders and pages is that they encourage the kids to clean up and put their collections away instead than leaving stacks of cards lying around.

Looking at them now brings a smile to my face the same way that looking through @captnarrr’s cards did—especially since they’re all Giants. It’s fun to see these old names and a lot of these cards are cards I either got autographed or tried to get autographed. I know the boys will enjoy incorporating them into their collection since they’re still very much into copying whatever I did. And while I definitely want to encourage them to branch into their own interests it’s nice to have some common ground as well.

I also can’t help but notice how many of those cards feature the Turn Back the Clock uniforms. I loved seeing those on cards when I was a kid. I’m making a note to myself to assemble a checklist of Giants cards featuring those uniforms.

I got out of collecting in 1994. I have a bunch of cards from that year but they never made it into binders and I had even forgotten most of the designs until I pulled my collection out of storage this summer. So I’m nowhere near as familiar with these cards. I do like how so many focus on photography and keep the designs simple. And I really like the Salomon Torres card even though he’s not the best of Giants fan memories.

Peter also included ten new cards. The McCovey Stadium Club is fantastic. But then that whole set is great even though I can’t help but laugh at also getting a Marvin Denard Span card. My sons will greatly appreciate the Topps Bunt cards. Bunt isn’t a set for me but I got a blaster for them to share and they’ve enjoyed ripping packs and seeing who they got. They can never have enough Giants.

The two Topps Archives cards are also fun. I’m not a fan of the way Topps reuses old designs—it falls into an uncanny valley of looking like both a lousy copy and a lazy homage—but I have a soft spot for the 1991 design.* This is also my first Hoyt Wilhelm card ever. I’ve been remiss in getting any of his cards in my Giants team set quest.

*I’m willing to make the argument that 1991 is the best set Topps has made from a design and photography point of view. And yes I checked the backs of these to see if Topps Archives pulled a UV glow backs shout out.

I need to specifically mention the two gold Matt Duffy parallels in that group of ten. I was very surprised to see that they are sequentially numbered. Peter insists that he was even more surprised when he pulled them out of random packs. My gut is skeptical but my brain can’t come up with any other scenarios for this either.

Anyway, I need to brainstorm on how to thank Peter for this. Last time I was able to send some neat Darryl Strawberry and John Kruk cards. This time? I’ll need to be more creative.

Someone Else’s Childhood

One of my twitter contacts, upon seeing that I was collecting baseball cards again, realized that he could send me his childhood collection as it would both get it out of his house and ensure that it would go to a good home. So one evening I found a beat up Priority Mail box filled with sheets of baseball cards and a surprise Everett Aquasox cap.*

*I’ve actually been to a ballgame in Everett game back when the club was the Everett Giants.

It’s a weird thing to be entrusted with someone else’s childhood. In the same way that I feel odd about dismantling and re-sorting and mixing my childhood collection with all my new (to me) cards, I also feel weird about immediately re-sorting these ones. With my cards I had to take a few months to reacquaint myself with both the cards and my memory of them. Only after doing so was I able to consider how I might want to reorganize everything.

With @captnarrr’s? I don’t know. Part of me wants to really look through and get to know his collection. Another part feels like that’s getting too personal (if that makes sense). I don’t know. It’s weird. I know how much my collection meant to me as a kid and I feel like that kid-level anxiety about someone else flipping through your collection is lurking deep down inside all of us.

So I’m going to try and find the happy middle ground of looking through these a few time and getting used to them as a collection while trying not to really examine everything. I’m also not going to photograph or scan anything beyond a few representative pages.

I’ve flipped through a couple times so far and it’s eerily similar to mine in terms of what it covers. Especially in the 1986–1988 coverage. I have ~250 1986 Topps cards. So does he. I’ve been meaning to take a run at that set since it’s the first I bought packs for but hadn’t gotten into the hobby fully yet. Hopefully I won’t have too many duplicates between his stack and mine.

The 1987–1988 cards though will become a starter set for my kids (between these and the massive amount of 1987 and 1988 Topps duplicates I have as well I would be shocked if there wasn’t another complete set in here). I have complete sets for both years—1987 was my first serious year collecting—but revisiting all these cards just takes me back. Even with Topps beating the 1987 design into the ground this year.

The big difference is in how he organized things. I was a by-the-numbers kid. Card backs had card numbers and you were obviously supposed to page them in numerical order. Flipping through pages organized by player or team, while it makes sense to me, also feels oddly wrong since it’s not how I’m used to looking at these sets.

This is funny since my current project is focusing just on one team and I’m organizing each year’s team set in my binder alphabetically rather than numerically.

1981 Fleer 1981 Fleer

There’s also a decent amount of 1981 and 1982 cards in here. I have maybe a pack’s worth for each of these sets. Sot it’s fun to have more of them. Admittedly, 1981 and 1982 Fleer are both pretty lousy sets but there’s something kind of charmingly unprofessional about them which appeals to me in today’s crisp over-produced world.

Ken Griffey Jr Bar Ken Griffey Jr Bar
Ken Griffey Jr Bar back

The most interesting stuff in the box though are the oddballs and regional issues. These weren’t in pages so they’re easier to scan. The standouts are the Ken Griffey Jr bar cards. I’ve never seen these in the wild although I remember them existing in all that Juniormania in 1989. Seeing a couple different versions is very cool. Then seeing how the backs state that they’re available “Throughout the Northwest” is wonderful since it takes these back to being a purely regional thing even though I know the bars went around the country.

Tony Gwynn Base Hit Candy Bar Tony Gwynn Base Hit Candy Bar back
Wade Boggs .352 Bar Wade Boggs .352 Bar back

Unlike the Griffey bars I had never heard of the Gwynn and Boggs bars. These look to be the same product but released in 1990. Kind of a shame they’re all just plain milk chocolate but I do like how the font changes for each one. Also it’s nice that the Boggs photo is a more interesting action than just a batting stance.

Brian McRae Denny's Hologram Kal Daniels Denny's Hologram Barry Bonds Denny's Hologram
Jeff Bagwell Denny's Hologram Sammy Sosa Denny's Hologram

Denny’s holograms are always cool. I was out of the hobby by 1995 so I never saw the 1995 versions in the flesh. While I enjoy the full-hologram versions more the scans of the 1995 cards don’t do justice to the depth in the hologram. But this  is a series of sets which I’m very much likely to chase as well so the more of these that I come across the easier that chase will be.

Manager's Dream: Tony Oliva, Chico Cardenas, Roberto Clemente

I think this was the only pre-80s card in the collection. It’s a beaut despite the miscut. I found it interesting that this featured three latino players but feels as if Topps was planning something along those lines and then decided to go with something generic. Or maybe they just couldn’t come up with a decent nickname.

1986 All Star Glossy

I’ve not seen team photos in the All Star Glossies. I should probably research when that stopped being a thing because these are pretty cool. I always love looking at the All Star team photos and seeing all the different uniforms together.

Roy Thomas autographed busines card

And Roy Thomas is an interesting autograph. Not a player I’m familiar with. I like that it’s a business card with a baseball card printed on it. I’m a bit curious what Thomas Enterprises was since it seems like his main post-career gig was being a middle-school teacher. I’m also a bit curious about about the context in which this autograph was acquired but I don’t really want to get into asking all kinds of questions about this collection.

All in all a very cool mailing which I’ll have fun flipping through and sorting in the future. And in the short term I’ll have to think about how to properly thank @captnarrr for the package.

Now With 49ers

A semi-surprise mailday from Andrew (@earthtopus). He’s a Tampa Bay fan/collector who focuses on the Bucco Bruce Creamsicle era. It’s no surprise that his plain white envelope was a bit of silliness and a bit of trolling.

I’m not a football card collector nor am I really a football fan anymore. But these are all from the era when I did care, sometimes a lot, about the 49ers and it’s fun to be reminded of that part of my youth.

Steve Young

1987 Topps Steve Young. I totally missed “the ”Now With 49ers” when I opened the envelope and thought this was just meant to be an amusing look at Young as a Buccaneer. Seeing that minuscule “traded” stamp makes it even funnier as this is technically now the first card of Young as a 49er. I don’t remember much about him in those first seasons with the Niners beyond never feeling comfortable when he had to sub in for Joe Montana.

Football Brothers: Chris and Matt Bahr

But the Young card makes a nice pair, of sorts, with this 1982 Topps card. Andrew just had to remind me of Matt Bahr 15–49ers 13. While that wasn’t how I remembered the game (Roger Craig’s fumble hurt me more), I never really put together that that was also Montana’s last real 49ers game too. Which means it also marks the beginning of the Steve Young era.

Tampa Bay Play Action Tampa Bay Play Action 1978 Topps

LOL this is hilariously dire. I appreciate that Fleer included Tampa in it’s 1978 set of football action but the dig on the back about “finally broke into the victory column” makes it seem like it took them three seasons to finally win a game instead of the 0–26 record they had before winning their first.

Doug Wiliams

The 1981 Topps Sticker of Doug Williams wasn’t meant to be silly. As with seeing Steve Young as a Buc, it’s also weird to see Williams as one since we’re all used to him with Washington.

1992 Pro Set Spirit of the Game 1992 Pro Set Spirit of the Game

What the hell is going on in 1992 ProSet? Is that a fake bottle of rum and a plastic child’s katana standing in for a dagger? And putting a glossy spin on there being two Steve DeBerg eras? Sheezus. I may not like Malcolm Glazer but I’m happy for any Tampa fans who stuck with the team through thin and thin until that Super Bowl.

Mark Carrier 1991 Pro Set Mark Carrier

This spanish-language 1991 ProSet card on the other hand has me jealous that there weren’t any real spanish-language cards for baseball at this time. Googling around lead me into discovering Pacific though so now I have a potential new collecting lead to run down for baseball cards. And I get to indirectly thank Andrew for that rabbit hole.

Good 70s

Mike Mandel, Untitled, from the series Mrs. Kilpatric, 1974

from the series Mrs. Kilpatric, 1974

Mike Mandel, Seven Never Before Published Portraits of Edward Weston

Seven Never Before Published Portraits of Edward Weston

Mike Mandel, Untitled, from the portfolio People in Cars, 1972

from the portfolio People in Cars, 1972

Mike Mandel, Untitled, from the series, Myself: Timed Exposures, 1971

from the series, Myself: Timed Exposures, 1971

I was sad to miss the Larry Sultan show but I’m very glad I made it up to SFMOMA for the Mike Mandel show. Sometimes it’s nice to just see things that are fun and make me smile.

This isn’t to say that Mandel’s work is somehow simple or trivial, just that the concepts are both remarkable easy to grasp and Mandel’s default approach mines the humor. It’s a goofy humor which I really love and, despite being funny, manages to maintain a certain seriousness and empathy for the subjects. I’m not laughing at the photos or the people in them, I’m laughing because of them and what they make me recognize. This is an approach which is sadly lacking in a lot of photography.

Seven Never Before Published Portraits of Edward Weston is a perfect example of this. It could easily be seen as a stunt. Or something making fun of Edward Weston—or all these other Edward Westons. But it avoids those pitfalls and becomes so much more. It touches on how everyone takes and consumes photography—each of the Edward Westons supplies a portrait and talks about photography. It touches on the nature of fame and what it’s like to have a name in common with someone famous. It provides a sympathetic glimpse into seven men’s lives. Seven men whose only thing in common is that they share the same name as a famous photographer and were generous enough to share about their lives to a complete stranger.

It’s also hilarious. Not because of who those men are what their responses are but because there’s simultaneously an everyman, what if I shared my name with someone famous, thing going on plus the sly suggestion that maybe each of these guys is actually the Edward Weston. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I read each of these and looked at the photos.

Mrs Kilpatric is also fun. So simple that in many ways it’s just about goofing around with a friend and neighbor. But the unposed—well, semi-posed—unplanned nature of it all is completely disarming. She’s incredibly trusting of Mandel to let him take her photo no matter what she’s doing or wearing. But the photos are great. They’re the kind of photos that she might not like because they’re a bit silly but which her family members will love because of how they portray her.

People in Cars is a similarly straitforward project.  One of the things which stands out looking at Mandel’s work is how visible he must’ve made himself as a photographer. Even a series like this which lends itself to surreptitious shooting is very clearly full of interaction. Most of them are people being amused by whatever Mandel is doing when he’s behind the camera. Which makes the few where the subject is upset really stand out in a way which produces a wry smile from me.

Myself meanwhile had me laughing in the gallery. I love the Half Dome one (of course there’s a Half Dome one) but they’re all great. Mandel is indeed a goofball. The idea of photobombing his own photos is hilarious. As is the way that the other people in the frame end up having to react to him. Sometimes there’s surprise, other times there’s group acceptance, and sometimes he’s ignored. But you know that everyone in the frame has watched him set up the tripod and camera and is now trying to figure out what the hell this skinny kid with long hair is doing standing with them while the camera is buzzing.

You can hear the camera buzzing.

There’s confusion. There’s joy. There’s curiosity. There’s all the things that we all do when confronted with a camera. But Mandel is in the frame along with the “subjects” adding an extra layer of bizarreness and humor. It’s fantastic.

Mike Mandel, Skyway

Looking at how Mandel interacts with the people he’s photographing brings me to his photos of The Boardwalk.*  Having just been at Pier 24 earlier that day I couldn’t help comparing Mandel’s photos to Winogrand’s. Mandel isn’t creepy even though many of his subjects are Winogrand-bait. It’s not just that he’s made eye contact or something before taking the photo, there’s a level of interaction which gets a flirting versus a death stare.

*The first time I’ve seen an extensive series about a place which I’m super-attached to as home. My kids love going every summer. Just seeing what it looks like in the 70s and how much has, or hasn’t, changed is wonderful from a purely documentary point of view.

And yes, a lot of this might be 1960s New York versus 1970s California. But Mandel was a skinny goofball kid and Winogrand was a larger more serious presence. And it certainly seems like their approaches were also quite different—especially in that Mandel appears to be having fun with his photography. It doesn’t feel like an obsession or quest but instead just messing around and playing with the camera.

Mike Mandel, Untitled, from the series SF Giants, an Oral History, 1978–1979

from the series SF Giants, an Oral History, 1978–1979

Mike Mandel, Untitled, from the series Prelude to Making Good Time, 1979

from the series Prelude to Making Good Time, 1979

Which brings us to Mandel’s baseball photos. I had a hard time viewing these as a photographer since I was a Giants fan first and those instincts are much more deep-seated than any of my art appreciation instincts. But they’re great. I’d love to spend a lot more time with SF Giants, an Oral History—it’s a shame this isn’t part of the catalog—but just looking at the photos is plenty enjoyable.

Mandel again both includes himself in the frame and manages to create an interaction where players are encouraged to be silly rather than serious. The resulting images feel like insider snapshots more than anything else. Part of me wonders whether this approach would’ve worked on a better team—mid 70s to mid 80s Giants were not so good—and part of me feels like he only took photos of the players who were cool with him anyway.

In any case, even with everyone having access to social media, Mandel’s photos manage to capture a view which we still don’t usually see.

And his light painting images caught me by surprise. This is one of those gimmicks which has been beat to death as self-indulgent Flickr explore bait. Mandel‘s images though show that he understands the game. Rather than being a gimmick they illuminate key action traces like how and when a batter twists his wrist during a swing or a pitcher’s hands come apart during his windup. It’s motion capture which highlights important details in the motion.

Mike Mandel, Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards, 1975

Mike Mandel, Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards, 1975 Mike Mandel, Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards, 1975

Which brings me to the Photographer Baseball Cards. Aside from Evidence, these are what I knew best about Mandel. I’ve always loved this project but had never really had a chance to look at a complete set before. So many wonderful things going on with these just as photographs without even getting into the baseball card aspect.

I love that his range of subjects runs from Ansel Adams to Bunny Yeager.* We’ve got star photographers who everyone knows, photographers’ photographers who aren’t appreciated as much as they should be, and photographers who’ve kind of been forgotten now. It’s very much a proper baseball card set in this way.

*Though women are still outnumbered like four to one and the non-white photographers can be counted on one hand. As always, lists are a bad idea.

I love that we get to see what the photographers look like. That Lewis Baltz is called “Duke.” That John Divola’s card features him in blurred motion. Divola’s card is the best in the entire set in terms of capturing a sense of what Divola was interested in as a photographer—pushing the boundaries of the concept of what a photograph depicts, or should depict in terms of time or reality— while also being “baseball” in terms of its pose and language.

I love the way that these are mass-produced offset lithography. Photography, especially art photography, is almost always obsessed with process and image quality. Even in  a book we get duotones or quadtones and insanely fine line screens and every attempt to make them look like “real” photographic prints. But these are printed by Topps. The line screen is coarse. The cuts are common. The ink is black only. And that’s not only appropriate but any other option would be just wrong.

I love the way that everyone seems to know what baseball and baseball cards are. You can see this especially in the contact sheets where each subject plays with different tropes of baseball posing. There’s a common language both in terms of baseball and baseball cards that we all know. But of course we should know, we’ve been making and consuming these photos since the 19th century.

I also appreciate that SFMOMA dedicated two rooms to showing samplings from many of the depicted photographers. This is helpful as both a reminder to people like me who recognized names but momentarily blanked on what they photographed* and an explanation for people who may have questioned whether the subjects of the cards were photographers at all.

*Nathan Lyons, Art Sinsabaugh, and Judy Dater in this case for me.

Sometimes though the photograph selected by SFMOMA felt like the wrong choice. This sampling isn’t the time to go on a deep dive into a photographer’s work but rather an “explain this person in an image or two.” So yes, I was mightily confused why they selected an black and white Eggleston image to display for him.

All in all though, a great show. I knew who Mandel was when I walked in. I just wasn’t aware about how much I liked his work. Also, while I still have concerns about SFMOMA’s new direction turning away from local art and artists—especially given the general sense of its upcoming exhibitions being much more FAMSF rather than what I’ve gotten used to at SFMOMA—I have to give them props for putting on a show which couldn’t possibly be more local.

Great Googly Moogly

Trading over the internet has been a ton of fun so far. Instead of being concerned about “value” or card-for-card sort of trades, we’ve all been able to fill holes in each other’s collections and be surprised by what we receive in return. Still, the exchanges have so far been limited to bubble mailers and exchanges of maybe a dozen cards or so. Which means that when I received Shane Katz’s package I was a bit blown away.

A surprise bubble mailer is fun. A surprise box? Above and beyond any of my expectations especially as an exchange for a bunch of regional food issued cards.

Anyway, digging in. The coolest part was knocking off ten spots on my Giants wantlist. This would have been plenty generous as it as an exchange as it is. Getting a few additional items—specifically the McCormick Game card and the Halicki mini—which I wasn’t actively seeking is a cool bonus.

That the 1968 Lindy McDaniel is a high number and the 1969 Bobby Bolin is a white name variant deserves special mention here.

The rest of the box is all Giants cards. At first glance I thought these were all dupes. Turns out it’s a set where there’s one card for each home run Barry hit. I can’t imagine how insufferable this must’ve been to non-Giants fans. Bondsmania was annoying enough in the Bay Area as it was and we actually liked him. when I see things like this I’m reminded of the way Topps has been behaving about Aaron Judge right now. Very glad we didn’t have Topps Now during the Bonds year.

Also, Shane packaged these with the 666 on top. As well he should’ve.

Oh-Pee-Chee! Always fun. I was very surprised to learn that Upper Deck purchased the brand. In some ways this is the most disturbing change to me in the entire hobby. Oh-Pee-Chee has always been Canadian Topps. Not anymore though.

It’s been pointed out on Twitter to me that because Upper Deck purchased Oh Pee Chee, Upper Deck felt like they could print cards using old Topps designs. Topps obviously felt otherwise but this would certainly explain the 1963 Topps designed Upper Deck which I found in a repack.

Topps Magazine and Wacky Packages. not much to say about these except that they’re fun. The Topps Magazine cards in particular presaged a lot of the archives/heritage product in how they use the old designs with current players. Aside from the card stock issues by being magazine inserts, I found their interpretations of the old designs to be better homages than the current product in stores.

First true WTF is this moment of the box goes to Toppstown. I gather that these are redemptions for digital cards—a product which is now covered by Topps Bunt. I’m just going to show my age and admit that I still don’t understand digital cards.

Minis! Specificaly, Fleer minis. The Topps minis I have. Not these ones but I have some of the set. Fleer? I’d not even heard of. I even had some 1975 minis when I was a kid—no idea where I got them—but I never saw the Fleer. So that’s a fun discovery.


1985 Fleer is a set which I have a pack of plus some random commons. So I don’t have many, if any, Giants. I do now. This is cool.

The other oddballs are a lot of fun too. I’ve started collecting these—especially Giants samples— and they]re a wonderful combination of regional issues and samples of what players and highlights from the year are considered nationally noteworthy. The regional stuff is always fun to discover. The national stuff meanwhile is fun for a team collector because it signifies that someone on your team did something noteworthy.

Woolworths meanwhile, while it existed on the West Coast, seems to have disappeared by the time I was collecting cards. Not a store I was ever familiar with. And these cards are not something I ever saw until I started collecting again this year.

And there was a decent amount of junk wax which I know I collected. I suspect that I have half of these. But I’m not sure which half and the ones which I “need” are especially welcome since they fill in holes in the Giants teams I cared about the most.


Allen&Ginter, Gypsy Queen, and more Minis. I’m glad to have some representative samples of these sets since none of them interest me. Gypsy Queen’s managed to find a way to make HDR look even worse and the faux-retro plus over-processed digital photograph combination gives me hives.

Ginter on the other hand is much more interesting. I still don’t know quite know what I think about it. I know I don’t like it as a baseball card set. It’s also super expensive for what]s basically a gimmick. But I do like the tobacco card size and I’ve found myself enjoying the non-sports cards on the checklist.

Actually looking closely at them though is disappointing. The printing is screened process inks rather than a solid spot color and as a result looks like someone’s tried to counterfeit a vintage card.

Cards from that time period were printed as multiple-color lithographs. So not halftones or screens—especially on the text. For the price that the Ginter brand costs cost I’m disappointed to see that, not only weren’t they printed with solid inks, that no one bothered to confirm that the tiny type wouldn’t be destroyed by the halftone screen.

I was also amused by the all-text stats on Ginter’s backs. I know this is a vintage touch but it also feels a bit twee. That the T-206 style card includes a real cigarette ad on the back also surprised me. I didn’t expect this even though both Allen&Ginter and Gypsy Queen are also tobacco/cigarette brands. That none of those brands are in production and are instead associated with baseball cards is presumably why Topps can use the names.

Still, I learned that Topps changed the advertisement from “The Cigarette of Quality” to “The Brand of Quality” so it appears that you can’t actually say cigarette still on what]s ostensibly a kid’s product.

Lots of Topps Fan Favorites. This is indeed a fun set. As a Giants fan all of these strike me in the exact right way. Yes it’s weird to see these glossy but the better quality printing and trimming is very nice. It’s especially nice to see them using the correct vintage Giants logo.

I am curious why Monte Irvin’s signature is missing—it’s there on his actual 1953 Topps card. And with Bobby Thomson being in the 1952 high numbers this is likely to be as close as I’ll ever come to that card. Ditto with the Willie Mays cards too but that’s a much more obvious situation.

And finally a ton of stuff which is still very new to me. It’s going to take me a while to figure out what these all are. I recognize Topps Heritage and some of the Topps flagship cards. But the rest? Way over my head. I’ve got two decades of card collecting to figure out and sets to investigate. Though I do know that it’s Bowman Chrome which throws my autofocus all out of whack.

So yes. Giant box of cool stuff from Shane. If I ever come into an unexpected cache of 1956 Topps cards I’ll have to return the favor. Until then I’m just overwhelmed and grateful.