Category Archives: Giants

A couple of TTMs

In addition to the mailday from Jason I also received a package from my parents with an assortment of items of the kids and some mail that I’m still receiving at their house. Yeah, until I move my parents’ house is still the most-permanent address I have. Anyway, tucked into that envelope were a couple TTM returns so I figured I should get those scanned and stored as soon as possible lest they get lost in the move.

This pales in comparison to the first couple of return roundups but since the home buying experience has pretty much killed my letter writing the past couple of months I’m happy with whatever straggles in.

The first return is a 51-day turnaround from Dave Marshall. He’s one of those guys who was lucky to play outfield next to Wille Mays. In 1969 in particular he was part of a platoon with Jim Ray Hart and played half of the season in Left Field left to Mays and Bobby Bonds.

He’s also got a great signature which looks fantastic on this card. I’ve gotten a number of 1970 Topps cards signed now and it’s made me reconsider some of my feelings about the design. I’ve long liked the photography but was never moved by the design itself. finding out how well it takes autographs though makes me appreciate the understated nature of the grey borders .

Speaking of understated cards that looks nice signed, Manny Mota signed his 1978 Topps card in 28 days. I’ve gotten a few of these signed now too and as with the 1970s, really like the way the autograph ties the card together.

Mota’s one of those players I’ve always liked because he was such a pinch hitting legend. And while I didn’t mention Airplane* in my letter to him I can’t deny that that was a huge part of why I wanted his signature.

*“I’ve got to concentrate!”

Mota also signed the index card I include as a stiffener. This was very nice of him and I’ll slip that into the binder for now until I think of a proper project to use these index cards for.

I’m looking forward to being able to receive these at my own house. The next batch of letters I send out will hopefully have the new address on the SASE though there are still a bunch of stragglers out there that will trickle in to my parents for a while.

PWE from Jason

I know I know I said I was going on hiatus for a bit. But late last week when I was writing that quick post I received a small envelope from Jason. Inside were two very different, very cool items. Since I haven’t cut off my internet yet or packed up my scanner I’m still in business for blogging so let’s jump in.

The first was this Ross Anderberg art card of Willie Mays. The scan doesn’t do it justice as the card is matte finished but the printing has a bit of sheen to it which causes the scanner to over-contrast things. Nor can you get a sense for this as an object—it’s on super-stiff black cardboard that I want to slap onto the table like a hanafuda card Not thick, just super stiff and satisfying to hold.

I can see why people get into these kind of art cards and why Jason was so excited to receive them. In the same way that I’ve enjoyed making customs, these  cards are a way to take photos of players and turn them into something that we don’t see in the standard card universe.

Plus small production runs where you know someone did everything themselves in the creation of the piece are always fun to have and handle. This is a very cool addition to the collection and, as my first such card, I’m not sure where I’m going to store it.

The other item is, I’m assuming, Jason’s ticket stub from his recent visit to the Hall of Fame. I’m still quite pleased about Moose entering the hall so I very much enjoy seeing that he’s on the museum tickets and I love being able to add the stub to my Stanford album. I especially like that he’s depicted as an Oriole here.

Very cool Jason and thanks for giving me two items that have made me rethink my existing storage decisions. As the kid who used to love any excuse to use pages that weren’t 9-pockets I still savor the challenge of fitting odd-sized items into the binders.

Luis Torrens Fan Club

Last weekend I found an envelope from the Luis Torrens Fan Club in my mailbox. That could only mean one thing. More Yankees prospects.

Indeed there were two cards of guys who are currently at Trenton. Jorge Saez is still splitting time at catcher. The last few games I’ve been to he’s been on bullpen duty with a guy who’s hitting under .100 getting all the starts. I know Saez hasn’t been hitting all that great either but it seems like they’re going with the younger guy for now.

Hoy Jun Park though has been hitting pretty well. I’m a bit annoyed at myself for not realizing that he had 2016 Bowman and Heritage Minors cards so I’m glad I have this one. It’s a fancy shmancy refractor or something but it should look okay signed.

The rest of the envelope was assorted Giants mishmash, starting with this Topps Attax promo card. I don’t quite understand the game and I really don’t understand how a mascot card factors in to this but I kind of love discovering that such cards existed.

A few random Giants cards. Two Chromes which I’m increasingly intrigued by each time I scan them and do a better job at dealing with the different reflectivity of the white opaque ink and the silver foilboard. I kind of like that the 2011 Chrome in particular features white borders. That’s turning out to be especially interesting to loupe since it shows the transition from CMYK to opaque white super cleanly.

The 2011 60 Years of Topps Johnny Mize is a bit of a trainwreck in how it colorizes a photo and uses a design that evokes TV but also 3D effects and all of this looks especially weird when applied to a player who predates all of that.

And two 2019 Heritage cards rounded out the envelope. I like this set but I’m increasingly getting the greenscreen sense when I look at these photos. Still the BElt card in particular is pretty nice. Not the informal 1970 gestalt* but a decent posed photo with interesting background information.

*Needs more random dudes in the background and a cloudless cyan-only sky.

Thanks very much Kenny! I’ll try and get the Park signed ASAP and everything else has a place in the binders.

Mailday from Marc!

So last weekend a bubble mailer from Marc Brubaker arrived. It’s been over a couple months since his previous mailing so I guess I was due.

We’ll start off with three Stanford cards, all of which are new to me. Yes even that Steve Chitren. Did I buy a decent amount of 1992 Bowman? Absolutely. But since I only bought packs and never bought singles, I don’t yet have all of the ones which are relevant to my interests. Since Chitren is in thee 1992 Topps set I never felt the need to explicitly acquire his 1992 Bowman card. Though I’m glad to have it since it’s a pose and picture which is very different from all his other cards.

The Hammonds Finest card is a nice example of a series of cards I never seek out. Finest interests me in terms of how they’re made and what the represent in terms of the 1990s product marketing. I can’t imaging having a binder full of them so I’m plenty happy just having an example or two. I think this is the first one of these in my Stanford albums.

And that Mark Appel Bowman Chrome is sure something. I don’t understand what the point of this is. I guess it’s to show that he’s so hot a prospect that he melted his card. And I guess Topps went with melt because these are plastic Chrome cards. I don’t know, it’s weird and unreadable and the back is even worse because instead of warping the text to look like the melted effect it’s just typeset on curvy lines. Do I want more of these? God no. Am I glad to have one as a sample of something awful. Sadly yes.

Moving on to the Giants. As usual I’ll go through these roughly chronologically. We’ll start off with three San José Giants cards from Star’s massive Minor League set in 1989. These are fun because they show the original San José Giants caps that they only had for their first couple of seasons (1989 would be their second season). The less said about the photography though the better. I’m pretty sure Dewey and Santana both have their eyes closed.

Time to flash forward a couple decades. The Honus Bonus cards are from 2017 and were intended to be part of a Fantasy Baseball product. I’m not fully certain what the rules were but it seems to have melded collecting cards with redeeming the scratch-off codes on the back to create your roster. I gather that there were supposed to be prizes and things but it seems like the whole enterprise blew up midway through 2017.

Neither of these two cards are redeemed so I don’t know if that means that the pack got opened after the game died or if neither Casilla nor Gillaspie were deemed roster-worthy. Anyway, it’s an interesting concept. The cards themselves are kind of wild with those greyscale players on colored backgrounds. I’m not a fan of the look—whether it’s selective color or selective desaturation—and combined with the brightly colored borders I have a hard time seeing these as Giants cards. Casilla looks like he should be a Dodger and Gillaspie an A.

The three Heritage cards I have but the boys should enjoy them. It’s been interesting to watch their tastes develop and they seem to prefer the Heritage designs as well. I should really ask them why but I do suspect that they like seeing the portraits in the photos.

And the Opening Day card is a new one to me. I don’t buy the product but like many of the things I don’t buy, it’s fun to have a sample. I remain convinced that the photo is opf Tony Watson and not Will Smith. Even though Smith actually signed this.

To sets I don’t buy, starting off with a handful of 2019 Bowman. It’s very Bowmanny. I’m not a fan of the borders but seeing how it’s a semi-transparent layer makes me more okay with them. It means the border colors fit with the card photo and also makes me see it as more of an overlay such as I’d expect to see on TV or in a video game.

The Duggar photo is surprisingly nice with low-contrast light that keeps the black shirt and cream pants from blowing out the exposure curve while keeping his face exposed without any shadows. Also good timing on the swing with the step and bat-loading.* Chris Shaw isn’t so lucky with his pants losing all their highlight detail and his jersey getting HDR’d to the max.

*Compare to the Flagship photo where you can see Topps is struggling to balance the light well

Marc was very nice in sending me a Joey Bart card. I had given up on getting any of these since he’s at his price peak right now as one of the big names in the set who all the speculators are trying to hold. And for the flip side of the coin, Logan Webb is solidly in the bust cycle for now due to picking up a suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. Will he come back? Maybe. But for now he’s kind of the opposite of a prospect.

We’ll finish off this post with a batch of Donruss cards. My first 2019 Diamond King is Christy Mathewson. I had to check the back to confirm that this wasn’t part of last year’s cards. This is still a nice looking set and it remains one of the nicest cards just to hold and shuffle through your hands.

That shiny Buster Posey actually also features Joey Bart on the back. It’s a fun insert and I hope Bart is indeed a worthy replacement for Buster. Will that justify the hype he’s getting now? Probably not. But it’ll be good for the team.

And those five 2019 Donruss cards are my first samples from this set. The 1985esque designs on the Crawford Diamond King and Shaw rookie are nice but don’t compare to the wonderful red on black original. Something about the white bars just cals attention to the fact that the logos are missing. This might not be an issue for other teams but with the Giants, removing all the logos means getting rid of all the orange on their uniforms. So when the rest of the card also looks like the color has been removed the entire card feels like something is wrong. Crawford has enough other color so it’s not obvious but the Shaw looks super generic.

On the base design though the orange usage works really well at balancing the photos. Things still look a little off but these look pretty nice. Panini’s done a good job at framing the images in the space* and the result is a nice looking set of cards. It’s not one I’ll collect since it’s too large to be a fun little set build and too small to be a nice comprehensive set** but it’s nice to see Panini branching out from just aping the old Donruss designs.

*Although I wish they’d treated Hunter Pence’s bat a little differently.

**Looking at checklists over the past couple of years has helped me realize that I enjoy small sets with one or two players per team and large sets with at least a page-worth—and preferably an entire lineup—of players per team. And that any sets with checklists that fall between these values causes me to lose interest.

Very nice to start filling a Donruss page in the binder. I still need to get a Madison Bumgarner card since he’s not in any Topps products again this year.

Thanks Marc! It looks like you had some good rips with new product and I’m lucky to be able to enjoy in your unneeded cards.

Salie Utz

Late last week I found a plain white envelope in my mailbox from Mark Hoyle. What kind of weird and wonderful item would I find this time?

Nothing too crazy but Mark sent me my first (and probably only*) Topps Utz card. Much to the pleasure of many of us, Topps decided to release a set of cards as a food issue. It’s not a special design like the food issues I grew up with in the late-80s, early-90s. It’s more like the Burger King and Coca Cola cards of the late-70s, early-80s which slapped a logo on the base design.

*Though Posey, Crawford, and (sort of bizarrely given how he’s been out for the season since he had Tommy John surgery almost a year ago) Cueto are also on the checklist.

And since it’s all computer-assisted design now I’m pretty sure the photo is exactly the same as the Topps flagship photo. No re-stripping or re-cropping as part of the reprinting process. Just a larger patch of white blur to allow for Salie Utz to be placed above the player name.

Still, it’s fun to be able to buy food and find cards inside. Utz exists in my neck of the woods but I haven’t noticed any that come with cards. If I came across a package that did I’d probably have to get it. Food issues are one of the things I miss most about the hobby from my youth and I’ve really enjoyed the various posts I’ve seen from other bloggers reminiscing about their childhood diets as told by food issues.

I don’t have the energy to scan all the different oddballs I collected as a kid. But looking through them all I can see that I ate a lot of Cracker Jack, Jumbo California Sunflower Seeds, Mothers Cookies, Nabisco products, and King B Beef Jerky. Chewed a lot of Bazooka. Drank a lot of Coca Cola. And went to Dennys and McDonalds a decent amount. I also managed to convince my mom to buy some Hostess, Kelloggs, and Post products and even a loaf of Wonder Bread.

As a parent I’m sad that this sense of cards being everywhere is not something my kids are growing up with. But I’m also happy that I don’t have to field requests to buy all kinds of garbage just because there are cards inside.

Anyway, very cool Mark. Thanks!

A pair of Giants

It’s funny. When I was going through my childhood collection I discovered that I’d gotten complete team sets for 1989 Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Score, and Upper Deck. Except that I totally missed Upper Deck’s Final/Extended high number series.* Oops. I’ve since accumulated a couple of the ones I was missing but Trevor Wilson and Charlie Hayes were the last two I needed.

*To be honest I don’t remember this series in 1989 at all.

A couple days ago this pair of 1989 Upper Deck Giants arrived courtesy of Steve Cornell. Thanks Steve! Random PWE mailings are the best. Even though both of these cards are kind of derpy it’s great to be able to scratch a set off my Giants Searchlist 30 years after the fact.

I should’ve paid more attention to my collecting interests as a kid. Giants team sets excited me. Oddballs—especially food issues—were my jam. But I never fully embraced that and so there’s lot of bycatch and filler that I need to go through.

I much prefer my modern collecting where I have much more clearly-defined projects and getting a pair of commons like these two excites me because they complete a team set that takes me back to that 1989 season and all the things I did as a Giants fan that year.

The Trevor Wilson also reminds me of the early 1990s when he was still one of those end-of-the-roster guys who got dragged out on community service duty.

TTM roundup, April edition

Another visit from family means another big batch of TTM returns delivered from my parents’ house. Not as many as my first batch but still 18 returns in a month is pretty good. Especially since my requests have tailed off a bit.

Though to be clear, I expected requests to tail of. I sent out a ton early and expected things to take over a month at least. The first batch of returns was overwhelmingly better than I expected and this batch reflects a lot of the kind of returns I was expecting to occur.

To the returns, again broken down by category.

Stanford

Pete Stanicek was one of the first Stanford guys I sent to. He had a lot of potential in the late 1980s but just couldn’t stay healthy. By the time I was going to alumni games he was already in that grey zone of being done with his career but still young enough to play with the active pros. Which explains a bit why he never showed up. This card came back in 47 days—much more the timeframe I expected returns to happen.

Steve Buechele was coaching at the Rangers Spring Training so I sent him a couple Upper Deck cards. I got his autograph on a ball at my first major alumni game autograph hunting experience. Then I brought his 1989 Upper Deck card to all subsequent games I attended only for him to never come back. I’m very happy that this card came back in only 24 days.

Drew Storen is another Spring Training return. He’s trying to come back from Tommy John surgery and was in the Royals organization this spring. I haven’t been able to figure out he’s up to right now—he doesn’t appear to be assigned to a team—so I’m thankful he was able to return my cards after 53 days.

Former Giants

On to former Giants and starting off with one of my favorites. The Original Humm Baby Roger Craig signed my 1989 Mothers Cookies card in 22 days. I have no idea how good Craig was as a manager in general but he seems to have been the right man for the job. Anyway he was the skipper for the teams I became a fan of and as a result I’ll always have a soft spot for split fingered fastballs and suicide squeezes.

Ken Henderson played outfield for the Giants next to Willie Mays and Bobby bonds. As a result he tends to get forgotten a little but he was no slouch himself for a couple years in the early 1970s. He signed both of these in 11 days.

Jim Barr set a Major League record by retiring 41 consecutive batters. He was  a long-time fixture in the Giants rotation as well with a dozen solid years . These three cards came back in only 8 days. I usually don’t send this many but I like the variety of images here.

Ron Bryant was a a twenty-game winner in 1973 but got injured in the off-season and never really recovered. So he chose to retire and spend more time with his family. He signed both of these in 13 days. I particularly like the 1972 In Action card with the bunting photo.

Tom Bradley had a couple great years with the White Sox but was more average with the Giants. I do like him as a member of the sunglasses club even though he’s nowhere near as cool as Lowell Palmer. The 1973 card is an airbrushing disaster as well but the 1974 is  fun action photo showing him wearing shades and pitching at Candlestick. These took 44 days to come back.

While Mike Krukow was already announcing when I was a kid, Kuiper only entered the booth after I stopped autograph hunting. As a result I only have a signed Krukow card and was missing half of the duo that has defined the sound of Giants baseball for the past two decades.

Kuip’s 1983 Fleer card with the broken bat is one of my favorites so I’m excited to have it signed. That it took only 8 days is even better.

He also signed an index card for me. Very cool. It’s been a joy and pleasure to listen to him on the air and makes me feel really lucky to be a Giants fan.

Shawon Dunston was one of my favorite players to watch when I was a kid. Ozzie Smith was obviously the prime shortstop of the age but no one had an arm like Dunston’s. Even though he wasn’t a Giant I could never watch enough highlights of him gunning guys out from deep short. When he moved to the Giants I was glad I could finally root for him. He’s still working with the organization and signed these two cards in 15 days.

Like Dunston, Manny Trillo is also a former Cub who moved to the Giants later in his career. A great fielder with a strong arm, Trillo was more of a utility guy with the Giants. He has a great signature and returned this card in 18 days.

Current Giants

On to current Giants and there’s no better return to start off with than the man who will most-likely become the first Giants Hall of Famer I’ve watched (as opposed to Hall of Famer who played a year or two at the end of his career with the Giants*). Yes I think Bonds should be in already but in terms of predictions Boch is a safe bet. I sent him a nice note thanking him for everything and he sent these back in 22 days.

*eg Goose Gossage, Gary Carter, and Randy Johnson. 

A Giants manager card was an obvious choice. The 1960 design is an all-time classic and even though I don’t like some of the Heritage fake-retro effects it’s still a nice looking card that looks nice signed. I also wanted to send a card form his playing days. I was leaning toward a 1986 Topps one but then I found this 1981 Fleer and it was too good not to send.

Tony Watson sent me a great return from Spring Training. His two 2018 cards look great. I’m kind of sad that horizontal cards weren’t that common when I was a kid since they look nice when signed. These came back in 39 days.

Watson also signed both of my customs. I suspect that the first one he signed where he usually does and then he signed the second one in the light area so you can read his name. I appreciate that he put this kind of care into it.

My last return from Spring Training also took 39 days but was even larger than Watson’s. Ty Blach signed everything I sent him even though I only asked him for a couple. His 2018 cards look good and it’s nice to see than Big League signs as well as it looked to sign. It’s not just an old-school set it looks old-school after being signed too.

Blach signed all my customs. I’m still pleased that Topps picked the same photo I did. This is from his start on Opening Day where he out-dueled Clayton Kershaw. He also signed the team roster card I made.

And more importantly Blach signed the ugly sweatshirt card as well. This means I have half the set signed. Will Smith and Abiatal Avelino signed theirs. Sam Dyson and Ray Black did not. I do not expect Evan Longoria to send a return back.

miscellaneous

I’ve started sending some letters out to some players who aren’t directly related to my projects as well. I’m starting off with good signers who are particularly resonant from my youth. Ryne Sandberg is a great example here. I tried and failed to get his signature when I was a kid* so I’m particularly pleased to add this 1988 Topps after only 9 days.

*Don’t worry I ended up with Billy Williams instead.

Andre Dawson is another player who was just a joy to watch. I’m pretty sure no one disliked Hawk. Plus his signature is a thing of beauty. While I knew him as a Cub I had to get his signature on an Expos card. 1987 Topps is never a bad choice for reliving my youth too. This came back in 15 days.

Wade Boggs was the gold standard for batting when I was a kid. I didn’t know too many American League guys but Boggs is one I knew enough about to watch. I went with his 1988 All Star card for this and I love how it came out. I super pleased that this came back in 16 days since he’d stopped signing for a bit after getting hammered by collectors.

And last but not least, I was lucky to get a Spaceman version of Bill Lee’s signature. He’s a great signer—only took 19 days—but doesn’t usually include this unless you ask. I did not ask but I don’t know maybe my letter prompted him to do it anyway. Anyway while I did not grow up watching Lee, his legend is such that stories about him in the game still exist. My sons have read the same stories in their books and were excited to see this card when I took it out of the envelope.

I suspect returns will dwindle down a bit more as I’ve been too busy to send out many recently. But I’ve still got quite a few out there and know that some will eventually find their way back.