Basically done

I received a plain white envelope from Tim (@BigShep79). Tim blogs a little at bigshepscards.com but he mainly runs the About the Cards podcast which has turned into a fun summary/discussion of things going on in the hobby each week.

I’m leery of a lot of card podcasts and videos because they tend to feel like guys who’ve managed to get industry hookups and, as a result, feel like they have to be positive about everything lest they risk being cut off from their supply.* Tim keeps things from getting too negative and the conversational format allows for multiple opinions and points of view.

*There are a decent number of blogs like this as well which purportedly review products but read like sales sheets.

He’s a Royals and Giants collector who, since he’s often looking to offload cards of the other 28 teams, I’ve never traded with. When he put out a call for people looking for 2019 Update I mentioned the two cards of Stanford guys that I needed for my project.

I don’t much care for Update as a product but it’s always nice to get those first Major League cards of guys I’ve been tracking as part of my Stanford project. Cal Quantrill has been someone who showed up in Bowman for years as a top prospect. He finally made it to the bigs last season and did okay in a mix of starts and relief appearances. I suspect the Padres, and everyone else, expects him to take another step forward in 2020.

Tommy Edman though kind of came out of nowhere. There have been no Bowman or any other prospect-related cards of him so 2019 Update was the first real card of his at all. He had a great 2019 too as a versatile fielder and above-average hitter and I’m very happy to add him to the binder.

With these two cards and a couple pending shipments my Stanford Project is at a stage of being essentially complete. There are of course always more cards to add. There are 10 guys who are active in the bigs and many more in the minors. And there are multiple oddballs and weird cards of players who are already in the binder. But in a general sense there’s only a handful of cards I’m actively looking for.

Three Topps cards that I don’t have:

  • Doug Camilli’s rookie card is a 1962 Topps high number that he shares with Bob Uecker. It retails for close to $100 and so I don’t expect to ever get it.
  • John Mayberry Junior has a 2010 card that is only available as part of the Phillies Topps Team Set. I’ve never seen it sold individually.
  • Sam Fuld’s 2013 card is similarly only part of the Rays Topps Team Set that year and is also one I’ve never seen sold individually.

Seven cards that show players on a team or in a year that’s not currently represented in the binder:

  • Steve Denning is only depicted as a Ranger on a 1993 Keebler All-time Rangers card.
  • Sam Fuld’s only 2012 card is a Sega Card Gen card from Japan.
  • Mike Gosling’s only 2007 card is a Kahn’s Reds team issue
  • Steve Hovley is only depicted as a Brewer on a 1994 Miller’s Brewing All-time Brewers card.
  • Brian Johnson’s only 2000 card is a Royals Police card.
  • Dave Meier’s only Rangers card is also only in the 1993 Keebler Rangers set.
  • Don Rose’s only Mets card is in the 1991 Wiz New York Mets set.

And that’s it. A very small set of holes left. The Keebler, Miller, and Wiz cards are available but are often overpriced. Card Gen, Royals Police, and Kahn’s cards on the other hand are as hard to find as the Topps Team Sets.

Still things will get picked off nice and slow and each one will be savored. It’s nice to have so few holes and be fully in sustaining mode. Thanks Tim!

A few Stadium Clubs

One of the more interesting Twitter contacts I’ve made is Andrew Aronstein (@AndrewAronstein) who, as the scion of TCMA, has both a lot of cool stuff to show off as well as a lot of great insider stories. This has been a ton of fun since TCMA sets were one of my* entry points into baseball card collecting and history. I couldn’t afford “real”** cards of the legends but the TCMA issues had stats and bios and I consumed every bit of information on them.

*and it turns out pretty much everyone else my age as well as everyone born the decade proceeding me.

**vintage

TCMA cards were also great for getting autographs of those stars since they not only weren’t valuable but were cheap, and accessible. Plus they were generally photo-centric and featured nice minimal designs. I wish they still existed today since they’re the kind of thing I’d love for my kids to have access to as a primer into the history of the game.

What made TCMA so great was its photo archive. Andrew’s maintained the archive and is, in addition to cards, a big-time collector of vintage photos. This has been of special interest to me since I can learn about how and when different print and negative technology got adopted.

I know how the technology works but seeing it in action in the sports photo newswire world is not something that I’m an expert in. Andrew meanwhile has both the prints and the negatives as well as their dates of creation and so is a great resource for all kinds of photo-nerd questions I may have.

He was snowed in last week so opened up the floor to trademaking as he had a bunch of boxes of doubles. He’s also a New York Giants guy so reached out to see if I had encountered anything interesting in my collecting experience.

I did not. My New York Giants collecting is very new, very low grade, and very efficient. In other words, I need everything, don’t care about condition, and have still been picky and cheap about what I acquire. This is good for me and my wallet but leaves me with zero tradebait.

However if someone asks for your wantlists, you send your wantlists. While Andrew is a Gypsy Queen and Ginter collector now, he also had some 2017 Stadium Club extras that I needed and graciously sent them off even though I had nothing worth sending back.

Stadium Club is of course a perfect first mailing to get from Andrew since it’s the photo-centric set. 2017 in particular is a set that I especially love. The photo selections are better than other years and it’s the set that convinced me that modern cards were worth collecting.

The wonderfully-clean typesetting along with the crisp, varied, and interesting photos makes this a set that I just like looking at. These three mean I’m only missing 22 now.*

*11 36 41 43 47 53 55 57 64 70 84 89 91 137 168 175 181 203 211 228 285 300

Thanks Andrew!

A dash of color

I’ve been loving acquiring cards of the New York Giants. As a child, I never thought I’d ever own any of these so I’m trying to hold on to that thrill every time a card I never thought I’d own enters my collection.

Yet as positive an experience as this has been, I can’t help but complain a little. For example, 1954 Topps is a wonderfully colored set with large painted headshots of the player placed in front of a brightly colored background with a facsimile autograph and small black and white action photo layered over everything. It’s a design I really like—even with the weird single bleed that results in the backs being different orientations.* Unfortunately the Giants cards are all yellow and white.

*Seriously check the print sheet.

Yellow and white are still nice enough but they do not capture the full glory of the set. As a result I’ve been a bit tongue-in-cheek vocal about how I wish my binder had a couple more colors represented. Lanny (who else) heard my comments and last week dropped a plain white envelope into my mailbox consisting of a few wonderfully colorful 1954 Topps cards.

These all had an encounter with some water way back when but aside from being a bit wavy they’re not that bad. If anything being completely water damaged is preferable to partial water damage since these just feel like they need to be flattened under a heavy book. Anyway I’ve not only seen much worse, I own much worse.

Look at those colors though. The cards may be wavy but the printing presents really really well. The Lepcio in particular is beautiful with the red Band the light blue background just working together perfectly.

I like seeing these old cards for printing reasons too. I love being able to loupe old cards and see how the colors were actually created. Louping these, the blue is a 40% Cyan-only screen. Orange is 40% Magenta, 100% Yellow. Red is 100% Magenta, 100% Yellow. With the 100% Yellow cards (and the green being a significant amount of yellow) that means that the yellow plate was mostly solid.

When I posted these on Twitter someone pointed out that Lepcio and Robinson are both really good TTM guys. I don’t normally like facsimile autographs mixed with real autographs but 1950s cards feel like a different category here. Should I send them out and try or should I just put them in the binder and try and get a green card for the complete rainbow?

Decisions decisions decisions.

Anyway thanks Lanny let’s see what the rainbow looks like now.

Surprise from Scott

Earlier this week I found the dreaded USPS plastic bag in my mailbox. I didn’t even need to read the note to know that the contents were a mangled package. In this case it was a half-ripped envelope that had clearly been folded in half despite the big DO NOT BEND writing on both sides. Ulp.

I opened it anyway and found a nice note from Scott Berger which referenced three cards. There were still three cards in the envelope so it appears everything came through unscathed. Moral of the story? Assume your envelope will bend and just make sure that you give it an obvious place to bend that’s not a card. Scott did this by having two toploaders side by side. The toploaders were fine and the envelope folded right between them.

Anyway enough about the packaging. Scott’s an Arizona State guy who watched a bunch of the same Pac 10 baseball players in Tempe that I did in Palo Alto. When he comes across Stanford cards he thinks of me. When I come across Arizona State cards I think of him.* There aren’t a lot of us doing college collecting projects so the company is nice to have.

*My end of this bargain has mainly been on Twitter since, unfortunately, the only Arizona State card I’ve come across in person is a card of Jacob Cruz which talks about him being drafted by the Giants.

The first card is a 2008 Donruss Elite card of Sean Ratliff. Ratliff played after I graduated but when I could still attend a decent number of games at Sunken Diamond. He wasn’t what I’d call a star of the team but he was always one of the more consistent players and it was no surprise to see him get drafted. He doesn’t have a lot of professional cardboard out there so it’s always nice to add a new one.

Ratliff’s been the hitting coach in Brooklyn for the past couple of seasons now. I might have to whip up a custom to send his way if he’s still there next season.

Bryce Love is a product of Stanford’s recent resurgence as a Football School™. I’m so done with football that I haven’t paid attention although my understanding is that things have reverted so Stanford Football is back in its traditional spot of propping up the table and no longer being the hot ticket on campus.

Still, it’s nice to add some variety to the album. Most of the football players I have are guys who played baseball but I’m gradually fleshing out the album with non-baseball-related cards. Not looking to be a completionist here like I am with trying to get all the Stanford Baseball Topps cards, it’s just nice to have some different designs and looks while I flip through the pages.

And the last card is just a wonderful Gary Carter Archives card. On the Expos like he’s supposed to be. With that pink color that’s a perfect choice for the Expos uniforms. In that fantastic 1959 design that I should dislike except for some reason it feels like the most-distinctive Trading Card™ design off all time.* I just wish that Topps had centered the names correctly.

*Seriously. It shows up around the world and there’s a reason my 10-year-old son chose it for his Halloween costume this year.

Thanks Scott! I’ll get you some ASU guys eventually.

Starting a new set

So late last month Matt Prigge decided that he wanted to clear out a bunch of sets and cards that he’d accumulated for accumulation’s sake. Matt just moved and while he had moved with all his cards, I guess that he realized that he didn’t want to buy enough Ikea Kallax units to get them all his basement floor.

I haven’t gone through such a downsizing yet but it’s coming. I have to get what I have organized first though. But with cards it’s easy to fall into the accumulation trap and taking a step back to figure out what I really like is a healthy activity to do every once in a while.

Currently, aside from my Giants, Stanford, and a few mini-projects, I’ve found that I’m enjoying filling out the cards and sets from my childhood but am enjoying just having samples—preferably Giants or Stanford players—from the other years. I’ve been enjoying building a 1978 set but it’s really the guys from 1987–1994 that I remember best. That’s my youth and all I cared about was baseball and cards.

I had collected complete sets of 1987–1993 Topps as a kid. I’ve been building 1986 since it represents the cards that were in existence when I became a fan and I acquired a couple hundred of them over my childhood collecting years. I only had a couple dozen 1994 Topps for comparison. By then I’d realized that I shouldn’t be spending money on packs if I was just going to get the set. When the strike hit and I dropped the hobby cold-turkey I never picked up any more 1994 Topps cards.

As a result I have no real memories of 1994 as a set. It’s not a design that I liked at the time* and I just didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the cards. But I’ve seen more examples in recent years and have found myself liking a lot of things about it. Plus the players are still the guys I knew and the set itself serves as a bit of commemoration of the single best Giants season I’ve ever witnessed.**

*As an autograph hunter I found myself skeptical of glossy cards since we hadn’t figured out the best way to get them signed. In many ways my preferences for non-glossy cardstock and older-style designs versus the fancy-shmancy modern cards the the 1990s pulled the hobby into is rooted in autograph hunting practicalities rather than any design-based critique.

**Yes winning a World Series is great but there’s also something wonderful about seeing your team dominate the regular season. The sting of getting pipped to the pennant by the Braves still hurts but looking back on it I just remember a heck of a run and pennant race.

So when Matt sent out feelers for who’d be interested in various junk wax sets I said hat I’d be interested if he had a set or partial set of 1994 Topps. The price was more than reasonable (especially since it was coming already-paged) so I sent over the money and a week later (thanks to Thanksgiving) the box arrived.

Yeah they don’t make sets like this anymore. I’m still not sold on the design but it’s not as bad as I remember and the only time it makes itself noticed is on cards like the Brett where it brilliantly mirrors the scoreboard. Photography-wise though this is fantastic stuff. A great mix of close action, distant action, experimental action, quiet candids, and poses.

What I like best is how much stadium detail I get. There’s enough depth of field to see what the grandstands are like. Many of the candids are wide-angle shots that show off all kinds of dugout details.

There are also plenty of horizontal cards too with the same mix of images. These are things we have to look for the photo-specific Stadium Club set to see nowadays and it’s a shame since this set is three times as large and so offers an abundance of photographic riches.

One of the things I like best about the photography in the set is how it allows the photos to remain grounded. We can see feet on the ground and know where the play is occurring. How far off the ground a dive is. That plays at second base refuse to hide the baserunner and bag behind the card graphics. These are cards that have been designed by people who know and understand baseball.

While it’s easy for me to rue my bad luck about getting into cards at the peak of card worthlessness, comparing these to what 1986 Topps looks like allows me to be thankful for being able to witness the incredible improvement in the quality of baseball photography.  Just the fact that I got to see the changes as they happened was a lesson in and of itself.

Anyway, Matt’s cards plus the ones I had already left me 45 cards short of a complete set. Most of those holes are in Series 2, much like my 2014 build. Full list of what I need is here. I’ll also keep an updated list on the set need page but this one will mark my starting point.

155 200 387 408 411 416 417 421 428 442 447 465 473 476 477 480 484 486 528 549 586 589 593 615 626 637 649 662 664 668 670 671 672 677 678 679 688 702 718 733 736 738 750 772

Matt, of course, was not content to just send me what I paid for and instead packed assorted other goodies into the box. Two packs of Topps Baseball Talk are so cool I almost don’t want to open them. Since I don’t have the player I need to go to YouTube to listen to the cards but the cards themselves are pretty cool too. As oversize versions of the 1989 design they feature nice big images and with the record grooves on the back are among the oddest to the oddballs.

Most of the packing though was assorted Giants cards from over the years. Many of these I have but I have two boys who are more than happy to take my duplicates too. I’ve already given them each a 300-count box each of cards from 1960 to  2019 as a house-warming present and need to put together other gift packs of duplicates for them now.

In the batch here it turned out that I was missing a bunch of the 1985 Donruss, 1987 Donruss, 1987 Fleer, and 1988 Donruss cards. 1989–1991 though were my peak years and if there’s a hole in my binder it’s because the card is autographed and so is merely in a different binder.

Which means I fastforward to 1992 here and mention that I’ve never seen those blue Classic cards before. They’re kind of horribly printed but I’m amazed that I’m still finding out about new cards from my peak collecting years.

The 1994 Bowmans are also mostly new (I do not remember this design from my youth even though I had a bunch) and the Upper Deck Fun pack represents a set I never saw as a kid. I’ve gotten some Fun Pack cards in previous trade packages but the Pro Files Bonds card is a completely new one to me as well.

Past the strike now and into cards I never saw as a kid No idea if the red lettering on Pinnacle means anything but all that gold foil still kind of amazes me. The 1996 Donruss Steve Scarsone though is a perfect demonstration of how quickly cards designs went from grounding the action to covering it up.

Instead of looking like a fantastic play Scarsone looks like he’s trying and failing to imitate the Karate Kid. Unfortunately, this school of card design is what Topps does repeatedly in modern cards and it’s noticeable enough that my 10-year-old complains about it.

Getting into the 21st century. Standout card here is the First American Church of Baseball Tim Lincecum. I have no idea what this set or organization is (its Facebook page suggests it is/was a Giants fan club) but it’s wonderfully odd and hand-numbered to 500 on the back.

Also the two Buster Posey 2015 cards are part of the Giants team set and NL All Stars set. Needless useless variants that I refuse to chase. But having a sample in the binder is fu none the less. The only reason I actively want those team set cards is if they included a guy who otherwise doesn’t have a Giants card that season.*

*A few of the hardest Stanford cards for me are guys who only showed up in the team sets.

And finally the 2018 and 2019 cards. I appreciate the Gypsy Queen since I categorically refuse to buy these. Ditto to Gallery. Not my cup of tea even though seeing how they’re made is of interest to me from a technical point of view. Like it appears that 2019 Gypsy Queen cut back on the logo and nameplate stupidity of 2018 and doesn’t feature any areas that look like they were printed in a second printing pass.*

*This is a long-overdue SABR post.

Lastly, buried in the stack of Giants cards was this Bill Swift autograph. I had to double check that this was included on purpose but Matt confirmed that it was. Bill Swift was a good Giant whose two full seasons were good enough that I forget that they were his only two complete seasons with the club. His 1993 was especially fantastic and he fully deserved to be in the running for the Cy Young Award.*

*As an aside, how awful was Jose Rijo’s run support that season since he was pretty damn good in every other stat besides Wins/Losses.

This card in particular has always been one of my favorites since it includes the Giants’ awesome Turn Back the Clock uniforms. I liked this card so much that I got it signed back in the day.

Yeah. This is from Spring Training 1993. And this isn’t a complaint about having two but rather an observation at how much Swift’s signature is different. I’m assuming Matt got his card signed TTM at some point in the past couple decades. The signature there more closely matches the neat signature examples Google pulls up. My card meanwhile is a hasty scrawl while getting into or out of the Scottsdale clubhouse.

Anyway, thanks Matt! I’m looking forward to finishing this set build too.

A Lonnie Mailday

A surprise envelope from Mark Hoyle arrived late last week. When I opened it up I found a couple non-card items that, on the heels of the Jay Publishing mailday, suggest that my collection is crossing from being just cards and is instead getting into card-adjacent areas.

The first item is a 4×6 print of Jim Lonborg being interviewed after the Red Sox won the 1967 American League Pennant. I always like these kind of post-celebration photos* where athletes are still happy but the reality is setting in too.

*There’s a reason I sent the Trevor Wilson card I did.

This one is also a great look at how interviews worked before today’s much-more organized media room press conference table. One interviewer with a microphone plus another mic on a stand and two more being held by disembodied hands belies the relative calmness of the photo.

Mark’s a Lonborg supercollector. While I have a much more casual Lonborg collection due to him being just a part of my Stanford Alumni project, because I’m making customs and things* for my own usage I’m able to send Mark some Lonborg items he doesn’t have.

*This will be a post of its own someday.

This Gypsy Oak custom is an example of other Lonborg customs that Mark has acquired over the years. It’s also a 4×6 print even though it looks like it should be a linocut.* If I remember correctly there are versions of these that are more like postcards and evoke vintage Exhibit/Arcade cards instead.

*While I haven’t jumped into the world of 3D printing yet I’m keeping an eye on it for both linocut/letterpress related printing and investment casting.

I’ve kept my eye on Gypsy Oak’s work for a while* but never pulled the trigger since I’ve been a bit scared to jump down the rabbit hole of modern card-related art. As nice as the artwork looks it’s something that I can see getting out of hand. It’s hard enough to limit my scope with just cards. Including other stuff like this? Where do I draw the line?

*Well until I got blocked on Twitter and he closed his BigCartel shop.

It’s some pretty cool stuff though—especially his Helmar Stamp cards. They just don’t quite feel right for my Giants collection but they very much feel more appropriate for the Stanford one. I’m glad my first is a Lonborg since he’s sort of the first noteworthy Stanford baseball star. Thanks Mark!

Jay’s Housewarming

Last week I came back from picking the kids up at school to find a bubble mailer from Greg/Night Owl waiting in my mailbox. This time he’d addressed it to my new address. It felt “off” when I picked it up. I’ve gotten enough of these now that I know what cards usually feel like. This one was different, sort of more dense and rigid and I was more curious than usual to open it.

Inside I found a stack of over a dozen Jay Publishing photopack cards. I’ve picked up a couple of these over the years but to-date they’re tended to be outside my collecting radar. When Greg received a huge batch of them earlier this year I began to realize that I’d been ignoring some good stuff.

As someone who got back into baseball cards because of photography reasons, these team photopacks are especially relevant because they represent a different branch of the image sharing/collecting culture that started in the 19th century. They’re basic halftone prints but they represent another way that photos circulated.

Unlike cards—whose size and thickness encourages handling—the photo packs are paper and are clearly meant to be put on display or pasted into an album. The ones I received from Greg are all in petty good shape and don’t have any pinholes or tape residue.

Jay Publishing printed these team packs for about a decade. They all look mostly the same with a large black and white photo over the player’s name, city, and team. In 1962 the font changed from san-serif to serif but other than that the only clues for dates are knowledge of the roster and the team uniforms.

Thankfully, Trading Card Database has photos of all the different Giants photo packs so I was able to determine that my stack was a combination of 1961 and 1963 photo packs.

Eight of the photos are from 1961. There are two doubles. That photos are often reused year-to-year makes determining if things are truly doubles kind of difficult. The ones here though do in fact appear to be identical in terms of the photo cropping but from different print runs.

In this batch I particularly like the Sam Jones photo which shows off the spring training facilities and the Bob Schmidt which is just a great image with the mask flying out one corner and his shadow anchoring another. The other four images aren’t bad either.

Of the six missing images it’s no surprise that Mays, Marichal, and Cepeda are among them. The thing I’m most confused by is how McCovey didn’t make the checklist and how Bob Schmidt, who only played two games for the Giants in 1961, did.

The 1963 photos to my eye aren’t quite as nice. Sanford is a bit blurry, O’Dell and Pagan are awkwardly cropped. Hiller’s a decent baseball pose though and Pierce is similarly strong. Haller’s meanwhile isn’t a bad image either but the crotch-eye view is a bit weird for me.

It’s kind of amazing to  compare Pierce and O’Dell though since they’re identically composed and timed but one is great and the other not. The difference in angle makes so much of a difference here.

From these six I’m missing Mays, McCovey and Cepeda this time (Felipe Alou and Al Dark are also missing from both 1961 and 1963). Again, not a surprise since those will be of interest to a much wider audience while  the rest of the players resonate only for Giants fans.

Greg also took the opportunity to clear out a dozen unwanted Giants cards. We’ll start off with a handful of older cards. Many of these I have so they’ll go to the boys. The 1984 Jeffrey Leonard though is new to me and doubles my 1984 Fleer Giants holdings. Yeah. Even though these all come from the overproduction era and represent sets my kids still pull from repacks I only have two 1984 Fleer Giants.

Some newer Giants cards. That Bumgarner All Star is one of the last cards Topps made of him. It’s nice to add it to the binder. The Stadium Club Hunter Pence is also quite welcome since I somehow only had the gold and black foil versions. And that Bergen/Coonrod Rookie Combo card confuses me since Bergen also has his own card in that set.

The last four cards are Archives cards using the 1975 design that Greg loves so much. As a non-collector of Archives I always appreciate getting these in the mail. I like seeing how Topps remakes its old designs even though it typically screws things up in an uncanny valley way.

These aren’t too bad: Team name is a bit small. Autographs are super bold. Colors are slightly off. But all in all they feel about right, especially when I see a group like this where every card is a different color combination.

Super cool Greg. Thanks!

ɹǝpun uʍop ɯoɹɟ ʇuɐıƃ ɐ

Earlier this week I found a simple plain white envelope from Jason in my mailbox. He has a knack for sending me weird stuff and this did not disappoint.

Nothing big but he figured I’d get a kick out of this 1996 Adelaide Giants card.* Which I did even though it appears that Adelaide was loosely affiliated with the Dodgers. Kym Ashworth spent a handful of years in the minors, most of them in the Dodgers organization, never getting above AA.

*Copyright says 1995 but Trading Card DB says 1996.

The other two cards in the envelope are earmarked for the boys…assuming they want a card of Kraig Hawkins, a journeyman minor leaguer who reached AAA, or Brian Murphy, who topped out at high-A and apparently went abroad to play in Australia.

Heck I’m not sure what I’m doing with the Giant either. It’s interesting to get a look at cards from abroad and see how they’re still recognizably 1990s with gradients and primary-colored geometric elements. Nor does the design look like something any US manufacturer made; it’s close to Collectors Choice but not close enough to be confused for it.

Is it something that’s going to live in my collection? Probably not. Am I going to hold on to it for a while anyway? I think so. It’s different enough and interesting enough that I’ll give it the chance to change my mind.

Childhood Dentist

When you think about dentist offices and their decor, calming colors and framed prints of subjects that are pretty—and pretty forgettable—come to mind. The idea is to be relaxing while you flip through an old magazine and try not to think about what’s coming up.

My childhood dentist was different. In 1990, in the midst of the baseball card boom, every wall in his office was suddenly covered with framed cards. Nothing fancy—each frame featured a different 1990 release*—but very different than the standard dental office.

*Topps, Bowman, Donruss, Fleer, Score, and Upper Deck. Leaf was either too expensive or hadn’t yet released when he redecorated

As a baseball-card-mad kid this was very cool. My dentist liked to talk a lot while he worked and I got to hear about baseball and try and mumble responses while he was working. I think he even gave kids a pack of cards in addition to a toothbrush.

His office stayed like this for the next three decades. Not just baseball cards on the wall, the same cards year after year. Since he was my family dentist I continued to see him until I moved out of the state in my mid-30s. By then the cards had faded and none of us were as into the hobby as we had been. There was however something comforting seeing those frames full of 1990 junk wax where even the bright red Donruss design was trying to turn that sun-bleached cyan color.

Last summer he retired. Since my mom had apparently told him all about my reintegration into the hobby and how I’ve hooked both kids on it, she found herself with a bunch of frames as well as a big box of cards.

My mom took it upon herself to take all the cards out of the frames. The cards turned out to be glued into place so in addition to the sun damage the backs are all torn up. Besides the six 1990 selections there was also a frame of 1987 Fleer.* And there were a couple other frames that I was not familiar with.

*That cyan gradient on the 1987 Fleer design makes the cards look hella trippy when they fade since the gradient stays strongly cyan and just the photo fades. My brain ends up trying to substitute in more color to the gradient.

She sent me a photo to show me what she was dealing with. One of the frames nearly broke my heart. It was full of Red Man cards that had been faded beyond all hope. I took a closer look and figured they were reprints. Thankfully they were.

No idea when this reprint set was issued but it must have been around 1990 as well. The main tell, beyond everything having tabs, is that there’s a black border around each card. This border didn’t show up really well in the photo my mom sent me but once I received the big box of cards it was clear that these weren’t the real deal.

Still, as with all the sun-faded junk wax with ruined backs, these will go into the pile of cards for the boys to play with. Yes play. While they collect, they frequently also play games with the cards, comparing stats and other bits of trivia on the backs. If I knew the rules of 1960s card flipping I’d teach them that as well.

Not all the frames were sun-damaged though. There was one frame full of Giants postcards that survived the decades in decent shape. The backs are bit dinged but the fronts are almost all good.

Eleven of the cards are from 1983. This is the first year the Giants wore the uniforms I grew up with and the players here represent a team in transition. There are young guys like Bob Brenly and Chili Davis who’d help usher in the Roger Craig years. And there are a lot of older guys like Jim Barr and Johnnie LeMaster who symbolize the team of the 70s.

The Brenly photograph is fantastic—a classic catcher pose but also much better than the usual catchers poses. I love the Minton photograph which shows so much of the Candlestick stands. Also I’m not used to seeing Kuiper look so young.

The other nineteen cards are from 1988 and I recognized all the guys here without even having to think. Despite being all action images, these cards are photographed by the same photographer, Dennis Desprois, as the 1983 set and published by the Barry Colla company.

Desprois was the Giants photographer for  a long time. He’s also credited for the photos on the 1979 and 1980 KNBR SFPD sets* and the nature of the photos on here has me wondering if he and Barry Colla worked together on the Mother’s Cookies sets.

*Mentioned on here a few years ago.

These thirty postcards are probably the highlight of the dentist collection but there’s another couple thousand cards that my mom ended up sending to me so I’ll touch on the rest of the highlights.

As expected, much of the box was 1986–1994 junk wax. Too much to document and nothing really worth highlighting individually. Highlights are a near-complete 1991 Score set* and a sealed wax box of 1992 Topps.**

*Something I’m going to try and complete with my youngest son since his older brother just completed 1991 Topps earlier this year. We’ve finished sorting and while the set was missing two dozen cards I had most of them in my dupes box. So we only need four: 397 Rickey Henderson All Star, 403 Eric Davis Master Blaster, 412 Bo Jackson Rifleman, and 417 Nolan Ryan Highlight. 

**Which will go in the pile of cards to rip on a rainy day after the boys have done their chores.

Outside of the junk wax though was a 400-count box of more-interesting cards. Much more interesting ones.

The oldest card in the batch was a 1961 Topps baseball card of Wes Stock. Not much to say here except to note that I seem to attract extremely-well-loved samples of 1961 Topps. This one fits in perfectly with the rest of my collection.

While the Giants postcards are the highlight of the collection because of how they fit my interests, the most exciting part of this box was finding a stack of over sixty 1966 Philadelphia Gum football cards.

I’m not a football guy. Yes I was a 49ers fan when I was little but I never really learned about the history of the league beyond the Super Bowls. I never even collected the cards. As result I had to Google around to figure out what these were. That a few of the names in the stack jumped out at me made my Googling easier. That a couple of those cards ended up being Hall of Fame rookie cards made things exciting.

Even though it’s not something I collect there’s a giddy thrill in finding things you know carry a bit of potential value. Thumbing through the stack and finding Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus was quite the surprise. I didn’t recognize these as rookie cards but I could tell that they were super young.

I found myself appreciating the action photos in the set. 1960s baseball cards only had action photos for the World Series highlights and those were often black and white up into the 1970s. To see full-color photos from regular season games is pretty cool stuff. It made me wonder why the team photos are black and white.

1966 is historically an interesting set too. That’s the year of the AFL-NFL merger and the season of Super Bowl I. It’s also the first year of the Atlanta Falcons franchise and instead of a team photo and highlight image the set had two Falcons logo cards.

I was surprised to discover that Philadelphia Gum had the rights to the NFL teams and Topps had the rights to the AFL times. It’s weird for me to think of different leagues and different sets. That even after the merge the two different sets continued for a couple years with Philadelphia Gum continuing to print cards for the Colts, Browns, and Steelers—three teams that switched conferences—is especially interesting.

Aside from the two 49ers cards* the only card that’s definitely staying in my collection is the Alex Karras. Not something I’d seek but I can’t let a card of Mongo go.

*I don’t seek or collect them but if they cross my desk I’ll snag them out of respect for my youthful fandom.

There were a dozen 1967 Topps football cards. No cards as cool as the 1966s but a fun design which I’ve seen a few people try and convert into customs. This set is just the AFL teams and it’s nice to see those Raiders and Chargers uniforms.

There were two 1967 Topps Who Am I cards. Non-sport cards aren’t something I seek but I also like being reminded how much larger the trading card world is beyond sports and pop culture. Historic “great man” sets are always particularly interesting since they represent a window into who we celebrate culturally. The artwork presenting Ike as President while placing him in front of D-Day is also a reminder of a different age of the Presidency.

There was a couple dozen 1968 Topps baseball cards. The Don Drysdale is the best one in the batch but there were also a couple A’s cards for my collection. 1968 is the first year the A’s were in Oakland and I’ve been putting together a page or two of those to demonstrate how Topps dealt with the Oakland move.

Sanguillen meanwhile is a fun photo and demonstrates Topps’s image handling for the card backgrounds. He’s clearly in front of a stadium but Topps has effectively turned it into sky by stripping out almost all the Magenta, Yellow, and Black from the background. This is something Topps did a lot in the late-60s and early-70s but usually only in the sky portion of the image.

By 1968 Topps was making football cards for the whole NFL. There were only a dozen of these, no big names, but I love seeing the 1960s team logos. This is such a different design from the 1967 set. I like that it has the some typography as the 1968 baseball set.

There was however a 1968 Topps poster. Nicely folded and in great shape without any tears. It’s a wonderful vibrant photo of the Chargers uniform in all its glory in front of an equally-colorful stadium. You wouldn’t design it like this today but I totally understand why people say that this is what Football should still look like.

Two 1969 Topps football cards. Not much more to say about these except that this is a solid design layout with the white stroke around the logo. I’m not a huge fan of the painted out backgrounds but I do appreciate the pop of color and the simplicity of the type.

Back to non-sport. There were a dozen or so 1969 Donruss Odd Rod stickers. Odd is the operative word here. As someone who was brought into the hobby via Garbage Pail Kids, these definitely feel like an ancestor to that kind of thing, sort of a step from Basil Wolverton to GPK.

Only three 1970 Topps Baseball but I scanned all of them. I love the backgrounds of the 1970 set and this is my first World Series card. I guess the black and white photos are intended to evoke newspaper and TV imagery but I do wish they were in color.

Another highlight from the box was a near-perfect 1970 Kellogg’s Don Sutton. Color is good. There’s like no cracking. I love stuff like this.

A dozen 1977 Topps baseball cards included a wonderfully mis-trimmed Grant Jackson first year Mariners card. I don”t like this design but I’m finding myself enjoying the photo selection. The portraits are frequently interesting and I love how Topps doesn’t care about the horizons being level as long as the player himself is framed well.

1981 Topps is another design I’m not too keen on but which I like a lot of the individual cards and photos. Only a dozen of these and Don Sutton is the only real star. The Rick Dempsey is an example of what the set does best. Multicolor caps which looks like the game caps. A bright contrast-colored border. And an interesting casual candid photograph.

Three Hall of Famers in the dozen 1985 Topps Baseball cards. These cards were the border between “old” and “my” cards and as a result I still don’t know how I feel about them. It’s not a set I collected as a kid. Nor is it a set that felt special to find in repacks. Which is a shame since the set itself is really interesting with a lot subsets that would become a bigger deal as the decade progressed.

Topps Glossy Send-Ins though are something I’ve always liked. These two from 1986 doubled the number of Hall of Famers I have from that year. For the decade when non-glossy cards were the standard glossy stuff like this was special and the checklists were always a who’s-who of the important guys that season.

The only junk wax I’m scanning is the near-complete* set of 1991 Pacific Senior League cards. A decent number of recognizable names but not a lot of star power. In some ways the recognizable players who aren’t big stars are the most fun but yeah it’s nice to see some Hall of Famers continuing to play.

*For whatever reason I’m missing cards 1–18.

This set has a lot of double-player cards with a special emphasis on siblings and father-son combinations. It’s a peak-Pacific design but it’s bright and colorful and we didn’t have a lot of cards like this in other sets at this time.

Not sure if these count as cards but there were a half-dozen Bradex Plate slips. I guess these came with the plates? To be honest I like them better than the plates since the idea of storing and displaying those never made sense to me. But slipping these into a 4-pocket sheet is totally something that appeals to me.

There were also a couple more-modern cards in the mix. This 2000 Pedro Martinez is a jumbo oversize card. Not much else to say about it except that as an oddball of sorts, a Hall of Famer, and as one of the best pitchers of all time I’m happy to slip it into my album.

This 2002 Topps Nestle is another oddball. It’s one of the few Topps-issued card sets that isn’t licensed to use Major League team logos. It’s comforting to see these existed into the 2000s actually since design-aside this is a very 1980s thing to do.

And in addition to all this there’s a half-opened box of 2013 Series 2 to go through. No idea if the autograph or relic has been pulled but it wouldn’t surprise me if it has been and the remaining packs are what’s left after discovering the hit. Those packs though will go with the 1992 box as a stash of stuff to rip with the boys.

Whew. That was a lot of cards. I’m impressed my mom managed to get through them all.

A handful of TTMs

I haven’t sent any autograph requests out for a few months but things continue to straggle in to my parents’ house. They’ve just delivered another handful of returns to me so let’s go through them in order from shortest to longest time out.

J.T. Snow, fan favorite and the first first baseman to make us forget Will Clark came back in 99 days. I sent this to his work at the Pac 12 networks where he’s one of their announcers.

I really like the Fleer Ultra card. I’m not keen on the type/design for these but the photography is consistently good and this is a nice action photo which doesn’t look like the usual first base action photos.

The 2001 Topps card is more of a classic image. These cards are super glossy. Even though I treated the surface the signature still smudged a bit.

Lefthander Shawn Estes is also announcing now. He’s with NBC Sports but I actually heard him on one of the free YouTube broadcasts this year. His cards came back in 108 days.

I like how the horizontal and vertical cards produce different signatures. The uncoated 96 Fleer doesn’t scan well but looks great in hand. The horizontal image on the 99 Fleer design though works really well and I love having a photo of a pitcher running the bases.

Bryan Hickerson is coaching for the Indianapolis Indians. These two cards came back in 121 days. It’s always nice to add another signed Mother’s Cookies card to the collection. It’s extra-nice when it’s one of the pitchers with bats cards.

My favorite card that came back is Trevor Wilson’s 1990 Upper Deck card. The “We Win” cap, champagne-soaked tshirt, and goofy grin are fantastic. That the shirt gives a perfect place to sign is even better.

The 1992 Fleer is a photo I like and I just like the way 1994 Pacific with its low-contrast photo-processing looks signed. These came back in 180 days.

The last return took 188 days and I’d sort of given up on it because I’s seen other people get returns from him in under a month. Where Estes, Hickerson, and Wilson are all guys I grew up watching in the 1990s, Rich Robertson is one of those lesser-known players who fills out checklists in the early 1970s.

I’ve been enjoying getting returns form these guys because it forces me to looks up their careers and see what the teams looked like in those seasons. Robertson was the #3 starter for the Giants in 1970, the only year he was in the rotation.