A pile from Night Owl

Way back in November, Greg/Night Owl made a plea for people to take a bunch of extra Dodgers cards off his hands. While his request was intended for other Dodgers collectors, I figured it was a sign that I should take the plunge into collecting Shawn Green so I commented hat if he felt like dumping a bunch of Shawn Green on me I’d be happy to take them.

The madness of the holiday season means that sending mailings out like this gets backburnered until the week after Christmas. Sure enough, I found a bubble mailer in my mailbox on New Year’s Eve and inside was the stack of Shawn Green cards and an almost-threatening note.

I appreciate that Greg kept things in check. Where the other Stanford guys who didn’t play baseball for Stanford tend to not have many of cards at all, Green has a ton.* As I said way back when I first added him to the binder, I don’t want to supercollect him. But I won’t turn down a big stack and as a legitimate star/semi-star he does show up in a lot of sets which I’ve not included in the binder.

*Checking Trading Card Database. Bill Wakefield has 14, Bobby Brown has 34, Kenny Williams has 62, and Shawn Green has 4,445.

Anyway, to the pile. Since Greg is a Dodgers fan it only covers 2000–2005 when Green was getting Dodgers cards. He did however do a nice job in giving me a few cards from each year.

Starting off in 2000. I’m glad there’s one card depicting Green as a Blue Jay here. I have Giants cards from most of these sets but I’m pretty sure none of them are represented in my Stanford Album. I’ve tended to focus on either the base flagship sets or oddballs in that album. This is partly for simplicity’s sake and partly because I can’t be bothered to learn about the thousands of sets released in the 1990s and 2000s

This group of six kind makes that point since not only are none of them are from base flagship sets, they’re all from releases that only lasted a couple years. In many ways I love how much the hobby was trying things out. In other ways it’s a clear sign that everything was out of control.

To the 2001. Same story as with the 2000s except that I need to point out that my Stadium Club coverage of these years in all albums is thin to none. Greg included Stadium Club cards for 2000–2003 and they were my first representatives of those sets in any of my collections. I should probably rectify that for other Stanford guys as well as the Giants. Anyway this 2001 Stadium Club card is an especially nice image of Pac Bell Park in its first year.

The two Topps HD cards intrigue me. I don’t quite understand what makes this set HD since nothing besides the card thickness really jumps out to me as being different. I also don’t really understand what was going on with Topps Fusion. Both of those sets appear to be single-year experiments though so it’s nice to have a couple samples.

2002 has probably the most interesting mix of cards. Traditional photography like Stadium Club. Crazy chromed out stuff in Finest. Retro “painting” on the Topps 206. Acetate/clear stock on the E-X.

The Bats Incredible card is the one that catches my eye though. It kind of looks like an insert and it kind of looks a base card from a set that was designed to have a relic or signature in the top right corner on the hits. Definitely another one-year-wonder of a release but I can’t help but wonder how and why it was released.

This image covers both 2003 and 2004. Not a ton to say about these except that I love the 2003 Playoff Portraits card. As leery as I am about most of the fake paintings that end up on cards, the way this set is actually textured really enhances the painting feel. I’m pretty sure this was around for only one year which is a shame since it would’ve been nice to collect a couple seasons of these.

The Bowman Heritage in the 1955 design meanwhile shows the kind of thing that I dislike about so many of the Heritage cards. 1955 Bowman, despite the color TVs dominating the design, has a really distinct photographic look. An extreme crop from a generic action image like this doesn’t quite measure up and demonstrates a certain lack of understanding about what makes sets memorable.

Finishing up with the 2005s. Where the Playoff Portraits is great, the Diamond Kings is mess. It’s worth pointing out here that this is the only year with anything approaching the standard base cards. These are the only base Donruss and Fleer in the pile and the Opening Day is basically identical* to the Flagship card.

*And arguably an improvement with the blue foil on the Dodgers card.

Having the Opening Day card inspired me to add Green’s Topps Flagship run to my Stanford wantlist page.* I’ll probably take a gander at Sportlots or Cardbarrel at some point. No real rush though especially with so many Green cards in the Binder now.

*As well as Bobby Brown’s Bowman run.

Thanks Greg! I’m glad I could help with your duplicates problem.

Fanatopps

So that didn’t take long. This was always the most obvious logical move where rather than trying to start a trading card company from scratch Fanatics would buy Topps and acquire both a trading card manufacturer and the legacy of the brand that is synonymous with sports cards in this country. When the news officially broke officially yesterday there was a collective sigh of relief across the hobby as people realized that there was no longer a looming deadline followed by a big question mark about WTF was going to happen next.

It’s good news for the hobby. The collectors who appreciate the legacy being continued get to maintain that connection to the history of baseball. And the speculators who Fanatics looks to be courting get a certain guarantee of stability that things will continue on reliably.

My kids are happy. As should I be. Yet when I read about the announcement my initial gut reaction was one of disappointment.

That reaction caught me by surprise. I have a record of calling Topps the “card of record” and the idea of keeping losing that legacy—even though current Topps seems completely uninterested in embracing it—is what I hated most about the original Fanatics news. Sitting on it a bit, I realized that as much as I’m pessimistic about the direction Fanatics was going to go as long as it was run by a Sneakerhead, I had actually been looking forward to the upheaval.

I love the idea of Topps Flagship as a record of the nature of the game each season. Everything else though? I wouldn’t miss at all, especially the way Topps has been filing the unique edges off of every release and turning them into a mishmash of uninspired pack filler that gets tossed in the trash after the “hits” are pulled. So many of the current releases appear to just be churned out formulaically. No professional pride, just a desire to get stuff out because it’ll sell out no matter how bad or boring it is.

Not that I expect Fanatics to be any better here. Business after all is about making money efficiently not creating good products. But Fanatics has a different business model and distribution network. Creating products that support its existing infrastructure could’ve resulted in stuff that looked very different than what we’re used to. Which is really all I’m still hoping for in the next couple of years.

Fanatics is now making cards sooner than we all expected them too. They’re probably not going to rock the boat too much productwise to start whatwith lead times being close to a year. Distributionwise though I’m on alert and fully expecting some changes in that department—hopefully resulting in cards being more available again. And of course starting next year there should be some changes creeping in the product side.

Or at least I hope that there are changes. As reassuring as it sounds to say that nothing will change, we’re desperately in need of some change and fresh ideas.

December Returns

Wasn’t expecting really any returns last month but I got a few including the two requests I sent out in December.

The first December request came back in only 12 days. And it was a fun one. I had the boys look at these cards and neither of them picked up that Greg Harris was pitching with two different hands. While he didn’t end up switch pitching until his last season on the majors in 1995, his 1991 Score card is the only one that actually depicts him throwing lefty.

The pair of these make a great combo since they almost look mirror image. It’s also just a lot of fun to add a guy who’s “in” the Hall of Fame as the first modern switch pitcher. Now I get to speculate about whether or not he signed these with each hand. No way to tell for sure but the difference in signatures makes me hopeful.

Kelly Gruber came back only a couple days later as a 14-day return. He’s usually more like a couple hundred days so this was a nice surprise. He was one of those players from my youth who I remember particularly strongly. Looking at his stats now and I can see that his peak years (which were very good) matched up perfectly with my peak childhood years.

A 101 day return from Nate Schierholtz came in right before Christmas Eve and finished out my month. He was a key part of the 2010 World Series team as part of a right field platoon all season and a consistent late-inning defensive replacement in the playoffs. Which means that I really appreciate the inscription on his 2012 card.

I’m planning on refilling the hopper this January so hopefully things won’t be slow much longer.

Christmas cards from Mark Armour

Late last week I found an envelope from Mark Armour in my mailbox with a small holiday mailing inside.

The main item was this 1968 Dexter Press photo card of Jack Hiatt. I have a decent number of the 1967 Dexter Presses but I’ve had such a hard time coming across any 1968 Giants* that this is actually my first one. They are very nice indeed. Good crisp photos and a clean simple back design. I need to start looking for them more actively.

*It’s an interesting thing that I have three Astros however.

I also need to point out that this is signed by Hiatt. From what I’ve seen of his TTM returns, he still signs everything with ballpoint. Which means that this signature could be any age. I do really enjoy signed postcard-sized photos though. Small enough to still work like baseball cards but large enough to give the autograph some room to not stomp all over the image.

Two other items in the envelope are a Dick Perez postcard of Stephen Clark and a Mickey Mantle tract that Mark presumably came across. The Perez postcard is great. Mark’s been mailing me random Giants—used as actual postcards—but this is the first non-Giant I’ve received. Clark, as the founder of the Hall of Fame though is definitely worth having on a card.

The Mickey Mantle tract is the one that Bobby Richardson returns with his TTM requests. It’s all about Mantle’s deathbed conversion and either reads as an inspirational text or Pascal’s wager depending on how cynical you want to be.

Thanks Mark and Happy Holidays to you too!

Christmas cards from Mark Hoyle

Last week I received an envelope of cards from Mark Hoyle. He’s been apparently building a small stack of sorts since many of the cards were ones I remember him pinging me about months ago. I don’t keep track of a lot of this kind of thing since I hate asking people where a free mailing is. Best case scenario is that they flaked and I seem like an ass for asking about where my free cards are. Worst case scenario is that they went AWOL in the mail. In both cases I’d kind of prefer not to know.*

*In any case if you mail me something and I don’t acknowledge it either on here or Twitter then it’s safe to assume that it went missing.

Anyway, Mark’s envelope was the usual mixed bag of cards so lets’s get started.

First item was this Orlando Cepeda postcard. Mark has one for his Red Sox collection though it’s probably also relevant for his 1967 collection. For me, Cepeda of course is a personal favorite and this is a fun commemoration of his career while also being primarily a Giants card.

The card itself is a vanity piece for National Card Investors and links to an almost 2-hour video of his Cepeda collection. At 3 seconds per image this rounds out to about 2000 different Cepeda items in the video. No I did not watch it.

Mark also included this 1966 Ken Henderson. It’s actually an upgrade to the one in my collection and the duplicate goes on the pile of extras that my kids get to pick through every once in a while. Always nice to give them a 1960s card even though the fact that their oldest cards are the same as my oldest cards when I was their age kind of strikes me as a bit unfair. They’re able to open packs that are over 30 years old while my oldest card in my collection was 30 years old.

A pair of minis makes this two mini mailings in a row. Turns out that I actually need the Butler and it finishes my Giants team set for the 1989 Minis. Looking at the multiple years of Mini Leaders and I kind of like how Topps blended the white edge thing with the 1987 and 1989 base designs.

The 1991 Score lenticular card represents a subset I haven’t considered adding to my team collection. It technically fits but I never considered these to be Giants cards before. It’s probably worth looking through my sack of them to see if I have any others now.

A pair of Star Minor League cards in that design Star used for all its cards in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This set often shows nice stadium details though and this is the Everett stadium I visited a couple years later.

Steve Callahan is another card I didn’t have in the collection already.  I’m not at all building this team set but it’s fun to add them to the binder and every once in a while come across a player like Rod Beck who I not only remember but who I remember very fondly. Callahan is not such a player. I may have seen him a San José in 1991 (same with Aleys) but both of them topped out at High A level.

Last card in the envelope was this 1993 Flair Mike Jackson. Flair is the product that probably best represents why it was so easy for me to leave the hobby in 1994. It was the first product that was clearly not for me. It was way too expensive and a clear indication that the hobby was headed in a direction I would be unable to follow.

It’s definitely gotten much worse than Flair as the decades since 1993 have shown that there’s no apparent cap on how premium a release can be. At least now it’s so obvious that “getting it all” isn’t possible that the super premium stuff is even easier to ignore.  In 1993 though this was a bitter pill that felt like I was being pushed out of the hobby.

I don’t hate Flair now though. It definitely feels overhyped compared to what came after but it’s still got a nice thick card stock and extra-glossy finish. I’ve read in a few places that it was printed in Hexachrome but I can’t make out 6 inks under a loupe. A shame since doing a post about six color process would be a lot of fun.

Thanks Mark! Happy Holidays!

My first NWSL card

The increasing presence of soccer (and women’s basketball) cards has kind of ramped up the gravity which is pulling my Stanford project into mission creep. I’m increasingly interested in old, vintage cards of Stanford athletes,* but I was doing fine staying away from modern cards until everyone started opening packs of NWSL cards last summer.

*Not in a comprehensive must-get-every-card way, just as a way of picking up some examples of classic Topps/Bowman/Fleer Football and basketball cards.

It turns out that I kind of love looking through checklists from sets like this to find Stanford players. It also turns out that guys who buy the packs for a cheap fun rip also find themselves with a pile of cards which they don’t want to keep all of. One such guy was Shlabotnik Report who sent me a quick note to let him know who the Stanford alumnae* were in the set.

*#8 Tegan McGrady, #124 Kelly O’Hara,  #141 Tierna Davidson, #143 Jordan DiBiasi, #158 Lo’eau LaBonta, #160 Averie Collins, #191 Ali Riley, #192 Jane Campbell, and Cityscape insert #13 Sophia Smith.

He went through his cards and found that he had the Averie Collins. A couple days later I found it packed with a bunch of other cards in a PWE in my mailbox.  Very cool.

Collins was part of the team that won Stanford’s second NCAA championship in 2017. She also did the very Stanford thing of graduating with a year of eligibility left and then playing a last season as a grad student at another college (which resulted in her missing a second NCAA championship as Sanford won again in 2019).

These Parkside cards have the feel of  some of the Minor League team sets and I’m trying to figure out why that is. Could be the printing quality but it could also be something about the design.

Moving to the other cards in the envelope. Sticking with soccer, this foil Coutinho Attax card was included to add to me Barcelona page. It’s only a page for now but people do seem to like sending me Barça cards since while I don’t seek them out I’m happy to keep them.

Coutinho is a good player who hasn’t the greatest fit for the team; one of many such signings the team has made over the past 5 years or so as I’ve kind of drifted away.* It’s tough to watch a team of players who haven’t been assembled with any clear philosophy besides “hope Messi does something.” I’m hopeful this year, as bad as it’s gone so far, represents a fresh start of sorts.

*The difficulty ins even finding match highlights has not helped either.

Took me longer than it should’ve to recognize hat these two 1979s were actually O Pee Chees. You’d think between the logo, white card stock, French backs, and horrible trimming that I’d’ve figured it out sooner but nope. Like the Barça cards these are things that I love adding to the binder but which I never seek out.

Three Topps mini leaders. With their glossy finish, white card stock,  and colored backs, these were some of my favorite cards when I was a kid. Something about the small size made them feel special too. Little cards made to a higher standard featuring the better players.

And finally a handful of 2004 Total (not a cereal tie-in). I love the Total concept of having a lower-quality produced set featuring all the players. Not sure if it works for set collectors but it’s great for team collectors. I’m not quite ready to create a searchlist for these but I probably should.

And that’s it. Lots of fun stuff and definitely my favorite kind of Christmas cards.

Box cards!

One of my favorite new Twitter follows this year is John Grochalski (@JohnGrochalski) who’s been blogging about his reintegration to the hobby over at Junk Wax Jay. John picked a hell of a time to rejoin given how difficult it is to find/afford product now but his journey and experiences have reminded me a lot of my own experiences only a handful of years ago.

It’s great to see how cards serve as a way both remembering his youth and marking the time for baseball. I also like watching him discover the hobby as it exists today while also indulging in the cards from his youth which are so much more affordable than they used to be. Specifically, He’s been ripping lots of boxes of junk wax and as fun as it is to reminisce as he opens packs, he’s noticed my enthusiasm for asking about the box cards.

Box cards are one of my favorite things from my youth. I was friendly with the checkers at my local grocer* and was able to get empty boxes from them since they had a box of cards at every checkstand. My LCS was also pretty generous here—while they could’ve saved/sold the box cards, by the time I asked about them the cards were pretty beat up. I never accumulated a full set’s worth—my memory is that box collation was pretty bad ands that it wasn’t uncommon for every sand to have the exact same bottom—but dutifully cut them all out and put the best samples in my card binder.

*Back in those simpler days before Safeway took over everything.

I liked all oddballs of course but the box cards were special. For a kid who had to save to buy a pack at a time, the idea of getting and opening an entire box was a luxury I couldn’t really conceive of. I saw box cards as the reward for being lucky enough to acquire a box and so being able to scrounge an empty box felt like getting away with something.

Anyway, John when he noticed my enthusiasm, offered to send me his box bottoms.  Which is awesome. While I have a lot of the cards now* the nature of box bottoms is that upgrades are frequently possible. Plus, anything I cut out as a kid I kind of want** to have as a panel as well.

*They’re frequently cheap on ebay and I’ve found a couple super-cheap lots which have given me most of he box bottoms I want.

**Want but not need. My search lists do not distinguish between cut cards or uncut panels. 

He ended up sending me six panels in totalling to one per year from 1986 to 1991. Box bottoms only really started in 1985 when Donruss did them. Yes Hostess, Post, Whaties, etc. had box cards in the 1970s, 1960s, and earlier but it’s different getting box cards on a box of baseball cards than of a box of cereal or Twinkies. So starting with 1986 is a nice entry into the heyday of box cards.

Topps always changed some aspect of the cards for its box bottoms. In 1986 this meant switching the border from black to red. I don’t particularly care for this change though it does work nicely with the Pete Rose card since Topps also changed the Reds (and the position indicator) from red to white. It’s a bit garish on the blue-named cards and is unreadable on the single orange-named card in the checklist (Dwight Gooden).

It’s also interesting to note here that Topps didn’t flip one row of cards to be upside down so that the red borders would bleed into each other. Part of this is because the black “cut here” borders mean that bleeds aren’t necessary but it also demonstrates that Topps sort of intended these cards to be seen as a panel too.

Oh unlike subsequent years where Topps treated the box bottoms as a highlight set, except for the card number the 1986 backs are identical to the regular set backs right down to the Talkin’ Baseball trivia.

Fleer meanwhile laid its cards out with gutters instead of suggesting common cuts. This is nice for trimming but is a pain in the butt for getting the panels to fit into 2-pocket pages. It’s also a weird choice since it breaks the way the design tiles from one card to another.

As with the Topps cards I like that these feature different photos. Sometimes, such as with the Dale Murphy (or the 1985 Donruss Gooden), I find myself wondering why they went with a better photo on the box bottom than on the main card.

I’ve not much more to say about the Fleer cards since they only differ from the base set designwise due to the paper stock being non-white. However it does weird me out a little how the cards aren’t numbered sequentially.

A couple more Topps panels which are distinguished from regular cards through the blue borders in 1989 and the green borders in 1990. I especially like how the 1990 design is tiled correctly so it looks like the actual print sheet.

These cards all function as lifetime-achievement highlights: 300th Save, 1400th RBI, 300th Strikeout, 1000th career game, etc. The result is that you end up with a good mix of veterans and a decent chance at a lot of Hall of Famers; 7 out of 8 players in this case are enshrined in Cooperstown.

The 1991 Fleer set is one of my favorites despite being blank-backed because it commemorates all the no hitters that occurred in 1990. Having nine no hitters in a season was a big deal. Yes that number has been reduced to seven now but as far as I’m concerned any complete game in which one team doesn’t get a hit should count as a no hitter.*

*This brings 2021’s total no hitters to eleven.

While Score put No Hit Club cards in its base set in 1991 and 1992, Fleer had them  on the box bottoms. This is perfectly fine. No need for a card back since the fronts have all the information you really need. I love that this is the Andy Hawkins panel too since the idea of losing a no hitter was kind of amazing to me as a kid.

John also tossed in a dozen Giants cards. He’s been ripping a lot of modern cards and as a result is finding himself swamped in cards he doesn’t really need. This is admittedly both the joy and the curse of ripping packs. I don’t miss the inefficiency but I do miss being able to accumulate cards that will make other people happy.

It’s especially nice to get a bunch of inserts and 2021 Archives here. The inserts are always fun to see and represent cards I’d never buy as singles. Well except the Posey All Star card. I hate that those were so tough to pull in update this year* since I would like to include them in my 2021 binder section. The 70 Years of Topps Lincecums and the 1965 Bart though. I’d never spend money on them but really enjoy having them.

*Zero in my break though of course my son opened one pack and pulled a Kevin Gausman for his collection.

Archives meanwhile is not a set I like even though I appreciate what it’s doing. My kids love it and as long as it sticks to the fun side of things I can’t hate on it. This year though it’s great to get that first Kris Bryant card. Topps has made it tough by not including anyone of note in Update or Heritage High Numbers so I’ll take whatever late-year Bryants I can get.

Very cool stuff John. Thanks!

November Returns

A very slow month as I’ve sent maybe one request per month for the last couple months. Thankfully some longer returns are still coming in.

After about two weeks without any returns to close out October, I got one on the very first day of November. Of course I did. Jim Adduci and his interesting signature came back on a 1989 Topps duplicate in 52 days. Adduci falls into the “names I recognize” category but it also turns out that he was a Giants for a week in 1987 even though he never played a game for the club.

It took another couple weeks for a second return to trickle in. This time Tommy Barrett in 67 days added another family card to the collection. I got Marty’s autograph back when I was a kid. I enjoy adding signed 1989 Topps cards because it’s one of the sets from my youth and even the no-name guys are memorable in that way you never forget things form your childhood.

An 80-day return from Ron Tingley was kind of a fun one. He debuted in 1982 but was still getting Rookie/Prospect cards a decade later. This isn’t just Score being desperate to label everyone a prospect since he still officially qualified as a “Rookie” in 1991. Is actually a pretty impressive level of commitment to stick with things that long and I’m glad he stuck around in the majors for another couple of seasons after too.

A 28-day return from Armando Ríos brought my first signed 2001 Fleer. He’s a player who I watched in San José and then saw premier in the majors right about when I returned to being a baseball fan in the late 1990s. The Fleer is a card and design that signs especially well since the weird Photoshop filter they did to the action image works great as an autograph background.

And that’s it. Super low expectations for December given what’s out there. I’ll have to get back on the horse and reload the hopper for next year.

Are trading cards cool again?

I wrote a little about the Fanatics takeover when it happened but for the most part I’ve shied away from speculating about what will happen. Too many unknowns and the transition is too far way. I did do one interview about the collectors’ viewpoint and how people are attached to the brand, but as someone for whom the investing/speculation side of things is uninteresting at best and aggressively boring at worst,* there’s been little that I felt like adding to the conversation.

*One of the things I love about SABR Baseball Cards is our editorial focus on cards as objects we use and how they inform our understanding and appreciation of baseball. Questions of value are only of interest as they relate to budgeting purchases and don’t drive any of the posts on the blog.

Last week though, Josh Luber posted a long read about how Trading Cards are Cool Again* which made me rethink a lot of my positioning. Luber joined Fanatics in September as “Co-Founder and Chief Vision Officer” of the trading card division so his post can only be seen as a statement of intent about what his vision for the future of cards is.

*Heads up, it’s super long.

That vision is incredibly dire and has effectively removed any of the cautious optimism I had about the takeover. My optimism was couched in the fact that Fanatics as a brand has been about making merchandise available to fans of all teams at all times. This is something I would love to apply to cards as well. As a parent I’d love my kids to be able to access cards whenever they’ve saved enough allowance to make a purchase. And as a collector I’d like to be able to buy cards when I want them and not have to make a snap decision in the days after a new product ships.

Luber’s post though doesn’t touch on any of Fanatics’ core competencies and instead focuses on the world that Luber knows. Specifically sneakerheads and the current speculative world that trading cards occupies. There’s a ton of information* about the shape of the secondary market, how it’s behaved over the past couple of years, and what kind of events have influenced it. I actually enjoy the graphs and the way they highlight inflection points with stimulus payouts and other external events.

*Many people have legit quibbles with the data and how it includes known shill bidding and other market manipulation but in a general sense, Luber’s point doesn’t require bulletproof data.

I appreciate the way he’s able to articulate the values of the sneakerheads and explain what kinds of products they find valuable. What makes something hot and desirable and what can kill that buzz. How the hype is a feedback loop that can multiply the excitement around a product so it becomes even more valuable on the secondhand market.

The problem though is that this is clearly all that Luber cares about. He claims to love cards but he actually loves slabs and the way they can be flipped. He wants to create a “sustainable” market where cards are rare enough to drive flip opportunities and create excitement through ever-increasing values* but there’s never an acknowledgment about how the product itself can have value. He’s able to compare sneakers to trading cards because he doesn’t care that a shoe can be good or bad based on how it protects your foot and holds up over time. Or that a trading card can be desirable because of what it is not what it’s worth.

*Yes, “sustainable.” We all know that value is never always up and to the right and peddling that lie is a total scam. 

Which is why I’m now massively pessimistic about the Fanatics takeover. For the Chief Vision Officer of the endeavor to come out the gate with a vision that never sees cards as products is a huge red flag. He wants to manipulate the market but doesn’t care at all about the actual quality of the product. There’s no admission that a lot of people collect cards because they want to own cards. There’s no recognition that at the end of the hot potato value cycle, someone has to desire the product because of what it actually is.

Give me a vision of cards that talks about how they touch the history of the game. How they connect generations of fans. How they get kids excited for the new season. How they allow middle-aged men to enjoy the therapeutic  elements of a quick rip and sort. How they’ll enhance our enjoyment of the games and bring us closer to the players.

There’s so much that a baseball card can be as a product. Limiting them to a moneymaking asset is such a disappointment.

October Returns

My sending has gone way down just like my blog posting has. But cards are continuing to come in so that’s been fun.

Th first card of the month came in the dreaded damaged-envelope envelope. My SASE was intact, it had just been dropped in a puddle or something and fully saturated. I don’t mean any disrespect to Bruce Fields here but I was kind of glad ha the soaked card was just his 1989 Topps duplicate. Thankfully Sharpies use acetone as a solvent instead of water.  Anyway this came back in 24 days and despite the damage looks and scans well enough to go in the album with the rest of my 1989 duplicates.

Rich Monteleone was a Giant for that ill-fated 1994 season. I’m glad I had a card available to send and 1994 Fleer always looks good. I wish I’d collected more 1994 cards as a kid but it’s clear I was already drifting away before the strike did me in. Monteleone sent these back in 14 days.

Kurt Stillwell is one of those names I remember from my youth since he was a bit of a rookie prospect in my first years as a collector. I was happy to try a 1987 Donruss since I haven’t sent many of them out yet. It’s also been way too long since I got another 1991 Studio signed so I was very happy to get both of these back in just 13 days.

A 24-day return from Jim Palmer is one of the last from my most-recent batch of customs. It’s always a good day when I get a custom back though and it always makes me happy when the player keeps some of the ones I sent.

I got a surprise 238-day return from AJ Hinch who looks to be getting to his spring training mail now that the season is over. I’m glad he bounced back with a decent season with the Tigers this year since, while I don’t condone what the Astros did, I also think Hinch got treated as the fall guy for something that the league both enabled and condoned and which is pervasive across all the teams.

I was a little disappointed with this return because he didn’t sign any of the customs I sent. Maybe he’s a strict one-signature-per-request guy. Maybe he doesn’t sign Astros cards anymore. Or maybe he just wanted to keep all the customs. I’ll assume the last one since it makes me happiest even though I can’t add another signed 1978ish custom to the collection.

I couldn’t be too disappointed though because signing the 1993 Traded card makes for a fantastic pair with the card I got signed back in early 1994 when Hinch was still a teenager. It’s always fun to see how someone’s signature has evolved—especially from teenage years to middle age—and I appreciate how he still avoids signing right on top of the black chest protector.

Another longish return, this time 74 days from Bobby Meacham who’s definitely one of those names I remember as a kid. Unfortunately it’s probably in part due to his shenanigans with Dale Berra but I think there’s more to it than that too. Plus it’s always nice to add another signed 1988 Topps to the collection.

A pair of cards from Eric Soderholm came back in just 7 days. I felt a little bad sending the 1976 card since he missed that entire season due to injury but it was the oldest one I had. Plus, Soderholm won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 1977 after coming back from that season.

A 204-day return from Roy Thomas brought anther 1986 Topps to the collection. After working my dupes pretty hard I’ve already stopped expecting to see them come back. This isn’t the best representative of the set with Thomas looking very much like a guy whose career is wrapping up and who’s seen a lot.

And that’s about it. Nothing the last two weeks due to my sending being way way down. November looks to be super light as well though I should try and send some out before the holidays. Maybe I should just buckle down and sort through dupes for next year.