Shlabotnik Surprise

Last week I found a surprise envelope from Shlabotnik Report in my mailbox. Inside were a pair of cards and some newsprint clippings.

Let’s start with the cards, in particular the classic 1985 Topps Gary Pettis error which features his younger brother. As with the 1984 Fleer Glenn Hubbard, this is one of those noteworthy cards from my youth that for whatever reason never made it into my collection.  The story behind it is pretty fun and includes the information that Pettis refuses to sign the card.

This one isn’t as obvious a keeper as the Hubbard but collectors my age all know about it and know why it’s special so I’m very happy to add it to my binder after all these years.

The other card was an extra Goggomobile that he had mistakenly ordered form COMC and which he felt would look good next to the Ferrari card I grabbed earlier. Such a weird set with super-sporty Ferraris that people still admire and whatever this with a silly name, is but if I assemble a 6-pocket page of them it’ll definitely be a fun one to look at.

I’m glad Shlabotnik included a note about how the newsprint wasn’t just packaging since it was a good read. I didn’t scan them since they came from the current Sports Collectors Digest and you can just read the article online.

Shlabotnik thought of me because the article contained printing information about the 1960s Post sets.

Rotogravure printing was accomplished by Post’s graphic designers creating 150 percent scale mockups of each box, including the back panel. The group of mockups for each cereal brand and size were then arranged in the way they would be printed. A photograph was made and used to etch six color rotogravure cylinder plates. Each set of plates printed the boxes for one particular cereal.

Rotogravure makes sense since it’s ideal for single-sided packaging. This prompted me to loupe my Post cards and I can see how the text and linework isn’t as crisp as I’d expect it to be with offset. It’s still solid but all the edges have a slight dot screen aspect to them. The real interesting thing is the 6-color information but I suspect it’s really just CMYK process plus corporate logo spot colors.

Very cool stuff. Thanks Shlabotnik report!

New York Journal American

A short post about the last card I bought in 2022. I was hoping this would arrive before the end of the year but instead it showed up on January 2nd as my first card of 2023.

Yeah I never thought I’d find a card from this set. These are, essentially, lottery tickets that you’d receive when you purchased a New York Journal American newspaper. The Journal American was a major paper which existed from 1937–1966 after the merger of the New York Evening Journal and New York American newspapers. I’m vaguely familiar with the Journal because of its prominence in both the history of comics* and yellow journalism but I was not aware that Hearst had multiple newspapers in New York.

*Specifically color-printed comics.

To be clear the two Hearst papers weren’t exactly competing but rather were a morning and evening paper. Still it’s weird to me that it took until 1937 for them to merge and just release multiple editions of one paper.

Anyway, in 1954 these lottery tickets were available at New York newstands and resulted in a 59-card “set” consisting of players from the three New York teams. 1950s New York baseball had a ton of star power and they all have cards in the set. Davey Williams is not such a star but I still couldn’t believe I’d found one for cheap on ebay.

It’s a great addition and a fun memento from the age of newspapers. Plus having the 1954 schedule is great for the Giants. For most of my life as a Giants fan that season was the one looming over everything else as the last World Series Championship.

A look at the numbers

A quick post prompted by something Greg posted last week when he updated his Dodger card count by year. One nice thing about having everything cataloged is that it can be fun to just explore the data and looking at Greg’s numbers was prey cool. So I did some quick Google Sheets calculations and came up with the resulting graph.

The graph goes all the way to 1911 because I do have one card from that year but after a couple blips in the early 1930s and 1939–1941 it really only gets going with the dawn of modern cards in 1948. The graph profile is almost exactly what I would expect with a massive peak in my childhood junk wax years that never returned to what it was before then since we never returned to the age of just one set of cards a year.

Looking more closely. The peak in 1955 is caused by the Golden Stamps set whereas the ones in 1976 and 1979 are TCMA’s fault. The absence of a big jump starting in 1981 reflects how poorly I’ve done getting the Donruss and Fleer team sets for the early 1980s.

Also, compared to Greg’s numbers my numbers in general are super small. Yes at one level getting 100 different Giants cards each year is still a lot of cards. At another though it could clearly be a whole lot worse and I’m pleased that I’ve been as disciplined as I have been.

Anyway, a big long list of the numbers follows. I’ve deleted all the zero years.

1911: 1
1933: 2
1934: 2
1935: 2
1937: 1
1939: 4
1940: 4
1941: 5
1948: 10
1949: 11
1950: 16
1951: 22
1952: 25
1953: 19
1954: 30
1955: 45
1956: 22
1957: 25
1958: 32
1959: 32
1960: 42
1961: 40
1962: 38
1963: 50
1964: 33
1965: 35
1966: 34
1967: 40
1968: 34
1969: 41
1970: 43
1971: 48
1972: 36
1973: 34
1974: 43
1975: 48
1976: 72
1977: 55
1978: 53
1979: 107
1980: 72
1981: 65
1982: 73
1983: 112
1984: 111
1985: 93
1986: 124
1987: 125
1988: 179
1989: 239
1990: 332
1991: 331
1992: 444
1993: 380
1994: 467
1995: 339
1996: 290
1997: 221
1998: 191
1999: 159
2000: 149
2001: 212
2002: 219
2003: 195
2004: 106
2005: 87
2006: 91
2007: 93
2008: 127
2009: 131
2010: 108
2011: 167
2012: 168
2013: 180
2014: 144
2015: 207
2016: 131
2017: 100
2018: 179
2019: 190
2020: 159
2021: 107
2022: 99

More Holiday Mail

A couple more holiday mailings trickled in after my last post so it’s time for another roundup post. These both warranted further comments so this post took a while to get up.

Gavin over at Baseball Card Breakdown is one of the custom card makers who I really enjoy. He’s been playing with intentionally fading 1991 Fleer and sent out a bunch of his experiments as a Christmas surprise to various card bloggers.

A lot of bloggers were writing about theres in the week before Christmas and I figured that I just hadn’t made the cut. I don’t trade very much and it’s been years since I traded with Gavin in particular.* It turned out that Gavin still had my old address and had sent my card to my previous apartment. I was dropping off Christmas cards locally and when I swung by my old place Gavin’s card was there waiting for me (along with a few other Christmas cards).

*Though I did inspire a couple GIFs.

The Christmas overlay is as fun as expected but I really just love the faded yellow card by itself. I’ve never hated on 1991 Fleer as much as other people do since the only problem is the yellow. Design and photographywise it’s actually a nice card and toning the yellow down eliminates the only questionable design decision.

I’ve gone ahead and included a scan of the unfaded card as a way of showing the difference. Gavin’s clearly doing more than just leaving a card out in the sun since the image isn’t faded at all.

I’ve gone ahead and put a gif together of the faded and non-faded cards. My unfaded card is actually more yellow across the board but it’s clear that Gavin has masked the image so that it didn’t get hit by the UV from the sun.* Since UV breaks down yellow pigment first.** The orange signs and yellow foul pole are both mostly untouched while the border is almost all gone.

*A discerning eye will also note the slightest of differences in the cropping and logo placement.

**Also magenta but yellow is clearly the most reactive. A combination of UV susceptibility as well as basic color physics in how blue light is higher energy and while blue pigment reflects blue light, the other colors absorb the higher energy wavelengths. 

It’s a transformative way of looking at 1991 Fleer and making the design itself more apparent. I want to try it myself once we have sun again as well as think about other junk wax sets or cards that might benefit from the same approach.

The cards will have to feature a design with prominent red or yellow elements. 1990 Donruss came to mind first but the white lettering for the player name may not work. The 1988 Topps All Star cards on the other hand might be perfect (though cutting the mask for the head will be difficult*). And heck maybe even 1987 Topps could be interesting. Plenty of time to think about it since we won’t have proper sun for a while.

*Hehe so Gavin was doing exactly this while I was drafting my post.

Plenty of time to also think about doing fun things with the mask as well as changing reds to magenta or greens to cyans. I’m interested to see what else Gavin cooks up

I also got a nice bubble mailer from Marc consisting of a combination of cards from a childhood pile he’d inherited and some unwanted cards from various boxes he’s ripped. This firs batch of Giants is clearly form the collection with a bunch of late-90s/early 00s cards. I have some of these but need to check my notes since I also don’t have many of them.

It’s interesting to see the 1981 Fleer design get remade using higher-quality graphics and how the better quality makes the cards look even more amateur. As a 1981 design I love it. As a ~2001 design it falls into the uncanny valley. I also enjoy the Pacific cards. They’re sadly no longer in Spanish but it’s always nice to see Pacific‘s unique take on cards. Also the foil stamping on the JT Snow Bowman is massively misregistered to the point where it almost changes the card design. I’m not sure if I love the mistake or if it gives me hives. Or both.

The rest of the Giants includes a pair of Rich Aurilias from set I’ve never seen before and an always-welcome Kenny Lofton card. Lofton, like Eric Davis in the first photo, only played for the Giants for one season but it’s nice to have had a chance to root for a player I always admired.

The 2022 cards are all from various product rips Marc’s had. Nice to get a Chrome colored parallel as well as a pair of Holiday cards. Also nice to be able to slide my first Ginters into the binder.

A few Stanford cards. Total is always appeciated. As is Donruss. Since I focus on Topps Flagship for this PC the other brands/products only make it in as I come across them. The Shawn Greens are nice too (almost all caught up on his Topps run now) and these are the firs 2023 Ginter and Chrome to make it into the Stanford album.

And finally a handful of other cards. I’m pretty sure this is one of Scott Erickson’s last cards and comes from a set that’s not well represented in the binder. And Marc sent me the three New Jersey™ cards in this year‘s Ginter set. TWO Pork Roll cards suggests that there’s a heavy New Jersey contingent working there and I’ve loved seeing how many people have zero idea WTF Pork Roll is.

Thanks so much guys! Happy New Year!

December Returns

Way more than I expected to get this month including a few very good ones plus a few semi-stragglers.

First return of the month is Dana Kiecker in 10 days. Kiecker is another one of those names from my peak childhood collecting years. He was only in the league for a couple seasons but they were the right two seasons.

This was a fun one. I sent to Mike Stenhouse last year but didn’t realize his dad also signed. In my defense I didn’t think I had a card of Dave until I saw that there was a Father & Son card in 1985 Topps so I didn’t think of him as a possible subject. I sent out the 1985 card and it came back in 11 days signed by both of them. This is my first double-signed baseball card and it’s pretty cool.

And this return makes the entire month. Evan Longoria signs a few every winter. I tried him once before to no avail but figured that getting in early with a nice “thank you for being a Giant it’s been fun rooting for you” letter was worth trying again. I’m going to miss him next year and there’s absolutely something satisfying about writing a real thank you note to a player leaving your team. I didn’t expect to get this back at all and was very surprised and pleased to receive it in 14 days.

Scott Eyre was another 14-day return. He only pitched for the Giants for a few seasons and, for a guy who did as well as he did, did not get many baseball cards as a Giant. Thankfully Topps Total existed during this time and makes for a vey nice autograph card.

A the beginning of summer I sent out a bunch of 1987 duplicates. I haven’t gotten one back in a while and was a bit surprised to find this pair from Bruce Bochte after 175 days. It’s always fun to get a pair of cards that are over a decade apart. Besides the comparison it’s an indication of having put together a decent MLB career from being good enough to stick around that long. In this case it’s nice to get another 1976 Topps card back too. I really like that set.

That area under a year but over 100 days is semi-straggler territory and I got another such return with a 303-day return from Dave Schmidt. I don’t even remember going through my 1990 Upper Deck duplicates but I apparently did. Schmidt played in the majors for 12 years in the bigs and has one of hose clear before/after splits. The first 8 seasons? Positive WAR and an ERA+ ranging from 104 to 162. The last 4? All negative WAR and an ERA+ high of 84.

A sent out a decent batch mid-month to keep the hopper full. I did not expect any back until 2023 though and was surprised to find three in my mailbox on Christmas Eve. he firs of these was Bob Priddy in 11 days. Priddy’s 1965 and 1966 Giants cards are high numbers which I didn’t feel comfortable sending out TTM so I ended up sending a 1967 where he’s technically listed as a Senator on the back.

I don’t love the autograph on facsimile thing but it is what it is. Priddy had a respectable pair of years coming out of the bullpen for the Giants but bounced around with 6 different teams over his 9-season career.

Charlie Hough was one of the first TTM requests I made. At the time I was sad I didn’t have a Marlins card to send to him. I’m happy to have rctifid that now plus adding another 1991 Studio to the binder. These also came back in 11 days.

When I was a kid, Jack McKeon was the manager of the Padres. I had no idea he’d been managing since before I was born. It’s very cool to get a signed pair of cards that are 15 years apart. He sent these back in 10 days.

I got a 13-day return from Pat Combs after mail started up again after Christmas. Combs had a brief 4-year career with the Phillies but his 1989 was very cool because he played in each level of professional baseball—6 games in single A, 19 in AA, 3 in AAA, and finally 6 in the Majors. His 1989 stats were great (171 ERA+ over 6 starts) and definitely merited him being a Rated Rookie but unfortunately he wasn’t able to maintain that level.

Combs included a business card for his book. The whole Manhood Journey site and framing gives me hives but I thoroughly agree with focusing on how youth sports can foster a growth mindset and that focusing on winning is a poisonous mindset.

I got a nice spring raining return from Tommy La Stella. Not a straggler but at 292 days definitely one I wasn’t expecting to get back. La Stella was a key part of that 2021 team which won 107 games but had  disappointing 2022. Always fun to get another custom and this is also my first signed 2021 Topps card as well.

One of the fun things I keep track of on the autograph tracking site is my eighteen oldest signed cards. Why 18? Because that’s what I have the page set to load in a single batch.* But it’s also a nice round number representing two binder pages.  Anyway it’s always a good day when I add another card to that list since it represents an area of the hobby that I’m still amazed to be collecting in now.

*It’s actually 16 right now due to having more than two signed 1964 Topps cards so the list gets cut off after 1963.

A 16-day return from Eddie Fisher made it onto the list. Fisher was a knuckleballer who is more notable for his time with the White Sox (during which he worked out of the bullpen with Hoyt Wilhelm) and being a member of the 1965 Champion Orioles. I did find myself wondering how Candlestick’s winds would’ve worked with his knuckler. I also found the back of his card to be amusing because knuckleballs and pinpoint control do not typically go hand-in-hand.

Over on my page where I keep track of which Giants players from 1989 whose autographs I have, Terry Kennedy was the only  starter and prominent player whose autograph I didn’t have on a Giants card. I’m very happy to have fixed that with this 15 day return which brought another signed Mother’s Cookies card to the collection.

That flurry of late returns means my hopper is emptier than I expected it to be and means that next month may be lighter than I was expecting. I do however have a ton of customs to send out now so hopefully things will pick up in the new year.

Holiday PWEs

Every holiday season I’m surprised by a few PWEs from other card bloggers and people out there. Sometimes these can be kind of amazing but most of the time they’re assorted randomness which consists of people getting surplus cards out of their house and into the hands of people who’ll appreciate them. This year’s examples fall into that category.

The first PWE was nine John Elway cards from Johnny’s Trading Spot—basically the Elway version of the Giants I got in my first batch. I have a few Elway cards in the Stanford binder but it’s a pretty random selection or whatever was cheapest. These don’t make it less random but do flesh things out a bit. I especially like the Pinnacle Idols card as well as the 2013 Topps Archives using the 1976 design.

My two favorite cards though were the Spanish Pro Set card and the Game Dated highlight. I love Spanish-language cards released in the United States. They’re one of the things I collect casually and it’s great to add them to the Stanford album. I also just like the wider-angle horizontal photo on the highlight card. I’m not used to seeing images like this on cards and it’s a nice change of pace.

I also got a pair of 1989 Donruss cards from HayMay who’s no longer on Twitter but is part of our Discord “Card Twitter in Exile” community. As one of those sets where I’m at the point where buying lots makes zero sense (due to duplication issues) and buying singles makes even less sense (due to just not being worth it financially), every bit of progress toward set completion is fully appreciated.

The Bo is admittedly a bit weird. A bit larger than it’s supposed to be and for whatever reason it wasn’t trimmed fully on the bottom so the corners got torn off. The Eck is nice though. Always fun when the A’s cards are in the team color gradient too.

And finally a Christmas trade with Clearush, a new trading partner who’s also on the Discord. He had a bunch of off-grade 1953 Bowmans including one I needed. I had a handful of 1974 Topps cards he needed for his set build. PWEs were dispatched on the weekend and by the following Wednesday I had card #1 Davey Williams in hand.

Yes there’s some tape. And yes I was advised of this beforehand. It doesn’t matter though. A lot of the Williams cards I’ve seen are misregistered and this one is sharp. Plus most of my 1953s have some kind of major damage whether it’s tape, creasing, or a hole punch. It takes a lot to detract from the quality of this set though. Only two more left for the team set now!*

*Leo Durocher and Whitey Lockman (plus Bill Rigney and Hoyt Wilhelm for the Black and White set)

Thanks guys and Happy Holidays! It’s always fun to get this kind of Christmas card instead.

Dimebox Anniversary PWE

First off. A big congratulations to Dimebox Nick for making it to eleven years blogging. He celebrated by offering a bunch of cards to pick from from his website. Usually I only see these offers by the time they’re thoroughly picked over but when I read his post I was pleased to discover that a couple of cards I wanted hadn’t been grabbed yet. So I had a claim and a week or so later I found a PWE stuffed with stuff in my mailbox.

These were the two cards I wanted. For some reason I was able to put together the three cards in Mother’s Cookies 1991 Father & Son set which featured Ken Griffey Jr. but never tracked down the card featuring Senior by himself (well Junior is in the background). Very happy to finally finish that set 30 years later. The Nomo meanwhile is a fantastic action image which captures a bit of his tornado windup. I may not root for the Dodgers but Nomo was indeed something else to watch.

I also grabbed a few other oddballs of guys who represented the best of the best when I was a kid. Eric Davis in 1988 was arguably the top player in the game* and Dave Stewart in 1990 was definitely one of the top pitchers. Rickey of course was Rickey and remains probably the most exciting player I’ve ever seen play. Lots of fun to have cards of all of them from sets which I didn’t have in my oddballs binder.** And it’s nice that each of these oddballs designs works reasonably well with the team colors.

*A few years ago my eldest received a pack of 1987 Topps which he proceeded to hand to me after he opened it because “there was no one good inside.” Only the top card was Eric Davis so I had to do a bit of explaining that day. 

**In the Giants binder? Absolutely. 

Nick managed to stuff another half-dozen cards into that envelope though. While I had the two Heritage cards, having a duplicate Krizan is nice so I can send to him next spring. For once Topps did something clearly good by getting him a few proper cards after 11 years in the minors.

The other four cards I did not have. I somehow didn’t hit any of those Stars of MLB cards on my breaks and Chrome and Archives are both sets I don’t buy. As always I very much appreciate getting samples of those sets in the mail. It’s impossible and impractical to stay on top of every Topps release but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy having some of the variety in the binder.

Thanks Nick! Congrats again on eleven years blogging.

November Returns

Okay so November was a lot better than I was expecting. Both more returns than I hoped for but also a couple really good ones.

The first return of the month was Clay Carroll in 23 days. He was one of the top relief pitchers for the Big Red Machine in the first half of the 1970s but I sent his capless first-year Braves card instead. Outside of baseball, Carroll’s stepson shot him (also killing his wife) in 1985 which was definitely not something I expected to read about when I was writing about this return.

I definitely enjoy that I’m still receiving Spring Training returns. This pair came back from Jake McGee in 236 days. McGee was not great in 2022 but he had his moments in 2021—including winning the July Reliever of the Month award—so is someone who I should remember fondly as part of that 107 win team.

Dave McKay was the A’s First Base coach when I was a kid in the late 1980s and as such is one of those names which brings me back to that age. Whil I didn’t have any A’s cards of him I did have a 1979 card of him with the Blue Jays, that he returned in 16 days.

A 16-day return from Jackie Brandt brought another New York Giant to the collection. Brand had a good rookie season in New York in 1956 before taking entering the military and missing, essentially, two full seasons. His only other full year with the Giants was 1959 in which he won a Gold Glove. He was a solid player for Baltimore so it’s nice that I have a card that works as both an Orioles and Giants card here.

Probably the best return of the month was this 162-day return from Tony Oliva. He’s usually a bit hit and miss but I took the chance with a “congratulations on the Hall of Fame” letter and I couldn’t be happier with the result. I’m very happy that Topps did these Turn Back the Clock cards when I was a kid since this is the only Oliva card I actually have.*

*Same thing happened with Maury Wills.

I don’t have a lot of 1976 SSPC cards let alone enough to send out requests but the photos are too great for me to not try every once in a while. Brnie Carbo’s is one of the photos I really like and it was a lot of fun to get it back in 23 days.

It’s nice that I’m still able to hit my 1988 Topps duplicates. Jimy Williams was the Blue Jays manager during my first couple years as a baseball fan so it was great to add another of those names to the big stack of signed 1988 Topps. He sent this back in just 10 days.

I’ve been meaning to send to Al Bumbry for a while. I really like his 1978 Topps card but elected to go with his 1983 instead. I don’t have many cards from that set signed and this one looks great. Bumbry won the Rookie of the Year award in 1973 and put together a very goo 14-year career (13 of which were spent with Baltimore).

He included an extra Orioles-produced autograph card. From what I gather, they produce these for events at the stadium and, presumably, give the players a big stack for themselves as well. It’s a nice simple design and, at 3.5″×5″ in size, allows for a nice big signature as well.

December on the other hand looks to be pretty dry. I don’t send out much during the holidays since it always feels a bit weird to me to bug people but there are a lot of stragglers out there so who knows what will show up.

Thanksgiving Zapping

I haven’t been doing a lot of trading recently. The thing with trading is that you need to be acquiring product which has things that you don’t need or want. And I’m barely acquiring product anymore at all let alone anything which produces the kind of bycatch needed to trade nicely.

Which means that it’s always a surprise and please when I do find a package in my mailbox. Thanksgiving weekend one such surprise package arrived from Kenny. It was a large, suspiciously-light box which turned out to be mostly packed with boxes and toploaders as Kenny is rehoming his excess storage supplies. But there was also a decent stack of cards in there too.

I went through quickly and pulled out everything that looked relevant to my collecting interests. The Jack McDowell is a new card for the Stanford album and reminds me that I don’t have a lot of 1996 Score. Matt Cain is a Giants card I didn’t have though I still have no idea what ToppsTown was.

It’s not a primary project but I’ve been slipping cards of Hall of Famers into their own album for a while now. While I don’t picture Kaat, Smith, or Pudge as Yankees it’s always nice to add cards to that album.

I’m also putting a small collection together of guys who I’ve see play at Trenton or Somerset. While this is mostly focused on Major Leaguers I’ll totally add Bowman or Panini cards if I come across them. Is very nice to get Rookie Cards of Abreu and Deivi as well.

Two African-American cards are great to have. I wish Topps had Negro League players in Allen & Ginter every year but I’ll never turn down a Moses Fleetwood Walker card. It’s also always fun to get a Japanese card—in this case a nice foil Hideki Matsui.

And finally a few 1980s oddballs from toy stores. I remember the Toys R Us cards but never saw the Kay Bee ones. A bit funny to see who was considered a “young superstar” back then.

Most of the cards though was various assorted Yankees from multiple sets. I do have to admit though that I’ll never turn down the chance to add more cards from before I began collecting. I’m mostly thin on any set before 1986.* With this batch I now have almost a page each of 1972s (all Yankees), 1973s, and 1974s. The 1972 Kekich makes me want to get a 1972 Fritz Peterson to pair with it and the 1973 Blomberg is a fun on for first DH reasons.**

*Exceptions are 1975–1979 due to an 800-count box that I found on ebay for $10 that was labeled and listed at 1991 Donruss but was actually stuffed with commons from 1975–1979 Topps. This is why I ended up building 1978.

**I TTM’d him the 1974 card which lists him as DH.

The 1980–1985 cards are also welcome as I only ever got a pack’s worth of those cards as a kid. I have more now of a few of those sets* but it’s always nice to flesh those out a bit. There’s something about those sets from before my childhood which still scratch a collecting itch.

*A decent number of 1984 and 1985 Topps.

The 1986–1988s here though are cards from when I was accumulating a lot of things. They go in the duplicate/TTM pile or might become trade packages for someone else. Yes even that 1988 Traded Jay Buhner which looks so wrong as a Yankees card.

More of the same for a lot of these cards. Though it’s worth mentioning that the 1989 Donruss cards are the Traded set and that the Deion Sanders The Rookies is one I missed as being for my oddball album. This also goes with the Melido Perez Pacific card which belongs in my Spanish-language album.

Kenny also included a bunch of Minor League cards which are starting to slip into the stream in this photo. The 1993 Pulaski Yankees design is a super-basic Minor League set whereas Classic was a more nationally-distributed production.

Into the 2000s with a bunch of cards I don’t have much to say about. Andy Brown must’ve been someone who was getting prospected a bit though. There are also three guys who I remember form the Giants here. Kenny Lofton of course needs no introduction as he’s one of those criminally-underrated players who deserved serious Hall of Fame consideration but dropped off the ballot in only a year. Brett Tomko wasn’t bad either but the less said about Sidney Ponson the better.

Late 2000s to early 2010s with more of a grab bag but it is worth commenting on the two stacks of 2011 Topps and 2011 Topps Update. A few fun cards in there and definitely nice to have a representative stack to look through from that year. I enjoy getting Thairo cards as he’s become a bit of a fan favorite in San Francisco. No idea why there are two different sizes of Bowman minis. And I do like 2014 Allen & Ginter.

Also I did not open the 2014 Staten Island Yankees team set but it appears that there are Thairo Estrada, Jordan Montgomery, and Luis Torrens cards inside.

To the last batch which is increasingly a Minor League grab bag. The random Topps Archives cards are fun and I’ll have to be on alert with the Hudson Valley teams set next season in Somerset.

The main point of interest here are the Stars and Stripes USA cards. I’m a bit weirded out that cards of kids who are on the under 15 team exist. Especially since my kids are approaching this age. I did a quick look through and most of the names are completely unknown to me. There was however one card of Charlie Saum who was a freshman at Sanford last year so I guess that’s going into that album too.

And finally Kenny’s calling cards. I have sent him a Torrens custom before so getting his “you’ve been Zippy Zapped” custom back makes perfect sense. And the Power Puff and anime girls are also on brand.

Very cool. That was a fun way to unwind after hosting Thanksgiving. Thanks Kenny!

October Returns

Not a lot of returns as I’m still not sending out a lot of requests. But I’ve gotten a few which are over a couple hundred days old and those are always a lot of fun to open up.

The month started off with a 32-day from Steve Buechele. I’d tried sending these to spring training a couple years ago but they got rejected because he wasn’t there so it was nice to have a success on a my second try (this time c/o the Rangers stadium). Always great to add another signed custom to the album too even though he didn’t keep any of the extras I sent. It’s also always fun to add a signed 1993 Upper Deck card. I’d love to try building that set but I’m scared of the UV bricking.

Another great return, this time Larry Walker in 100 days. I saw a lot of people blaming Coors Field for Walker’s numbers while he was on the Hall of Fame ballot but my enduring memory of him is watching him crush balls to all fields during night games at Candlestick. Dude could rake anywhere in the league and is a totally deserving member of Cooperstown.

A 210-day return from Kevin Tapani brought a nice 1991 card back to me. I remember him being a solid pitcher for the Twins that year (and he was) and, since 1991 is right in the sweet spot of  my childhood fandom, that means that I think of his 1991 form first and forget pretty much everything that happened to his career afterwards.

My third spring training return of the year came back after the season ended. Giants pitching coach (and 2009 AL Rookie of the Year) Andrew Bailey has been working through his fan mail during the offseason and returned a pair of customs (he kept none) in 217 days.

This is one of the few private signings I’ve taken part of. While I never saw Jack Clark as a Giant I both remember the stories about him and appreciate his part in Mike Mandel’s 1970s photography. Also, I’ve been grabbing autographs of Willie Mac Award winners* when I come across them. Since Clark is the inaugural winner he’s a good key part of the collection.

*Currently at 21 out of 42 different winners. Plus Willie McCovey. 

Since signings are scheduled the timing is a little less important since I need to get the card there early enough before the signing and then I know to expect it a couple weeks after the scheduled date. That this came back in 43 days is about the expected time.

A 10-day return from  Jerry Kutzler brought me the kind of card they don’t make anymore. Kutzler pitched in 7 games in 1990 and got cards in multiple sets in 1990 and 1991. This 1990 Donruss is particularly nice with a great photo that works really well with the red border. So many players slip through the cracks now though and never get cards it’s really sad.

Don Stanhouse has two great nicknames. “Stan the Man Unusual” would be sufficient for most people but the “Full Pack” moniker that Earl Weaver gave him is even better. I just wish I’d had an Orioles card to send him. He turned this around in a quick 9 days and the big bold signature overpowers the pre-printed facsimile in a nice way.

And that’s about it for this month. The quality more than made up for h lack of returns. Next month should continue to be slow as my send rate has just slowed down and I don’t like to hit people over the holidays. With any luck though some more stragglers will make their way back.