Cards from Cards on Cards

Earlier this month Kerry over at Cards on Cards (@cardsoncards) hosted a small free mini break of a bunch of packs of 2019 Topps of the Class. These kind of weird little parallel sets are kind of my jam so I signed up for the Giants.

Unfortunately I got skunked. The break ended up being wildly unbalanced. Some teams got all kinds of duplicates while many were shut out. Very much how things used to be when I was a kid where I’d run into the same cards over and over and never see others.

Anyway, yesterday I found an envelope from Kerry in my mailbox and inside was one of the duplicate Joey Gallo cards. It doesn’t look like anyone even grabbed the Rangers in the break so I gather that Kerry was glad to get them sent out to anyone who’d take them.

This is a set of cards which my kids would’ve loved if they had a card store anywhere near where we lived. The idea is that you would bring your report card into a shop and get a pack of five cards. I wish they had this kind of thing when I was a kid and had access to like three different card shops.

If this was happening last year I’d’ve felt  a little weird about where these packs came from. But a year after the promotion means these were just sitting in a forgotten pile. Which is great since it reminds me of the 1990 Donruss Learning set that I never saw when I was a kid but would totally have been all over.

Kerry can fit six cards in an envelope so he packed a handful of Giants in for me. The Brandon Belt is a Diamond Anniversary Limited Edition stamped parallel of his base 2011 card. No idea what that means in terms of distribution but I definitely know I don’t have it already.

The Willie Mays is a Spring has Sprung insert from 2020 Opening Day—a set I’ve seen all of one card from to-date. I can’t tell if the border is trying to be old-looking or if it’s supposed to be a nice pastel yellow color. I’m hoping the latter since it triggers a bit of “mismatched white point dissonance” in my brain. Nice to add this one to the collection as well.

The 2009 Turkey Red of Bengie Molina is another card I don’t have. A lot of the Topps Turkey Reds have appalling artwork but this one’s pretty nice. I will never understand why Topps preferred to use the modern-looking shiny black jerseys on these vintage-looking cards though.

The 2019 Joe Panik is a pink Chrome parallel which will add a bit of color to the album. And the foil 2020 Donruss Mauricio Dubon—about as nice an unlicensed card as you can hope to see with the angle of the picture obscuring the logoless cap—makes this a nice 5 for 5 on getting Giants cards I don’t have yet. An impressive percentage for a random unlooked-for plain white envelope.

Very cool. Thanks Kerry!

Signature Sleuth

A relatively new Twitter account which I’ve been following is Signature Sleuth (@SignatureSleuth). He’s kind of crazy and buys big lots of autographed baseballs. He then often posts photos of them on Twitter as both contests to guess who the player is or to figure things out if he’s unable to do so.

I don’t like the guess-the-player ones but when he posts team balls those turn into fun little puzzles. After a team ball is solved he sends a random autograph to one lucky participant, one of which ended up being me.

So my plain white envelope arrived earlier this week. Inside was this Jacob Cruz autograph which is exactly the kind of autograph I was expecting. There are so many “junk” autographs out there in the hobby now which have no appeal to anyone except a hard-core team collector. As such a collector though this is the kind of thing I enjoy.

Cruz never really lived up to the hype as a player but he was a guy I saw come through Sunken Diamond when he played for Arizona state. Always fun to see guys I watched in college make it to the show, especially when it’s for my team.

Thanks for the card and keep the team balls coming!

Totes jelly

Kind of funny. For the past month I’ve not gotten any mail on Saturdays. It’s weird when that happens since I keep thinking mail is arriving super late instead and end up checking every hour until it gets dark. I began to think that Saturdays were only for packages and that regular letters and junk mail would wait until Monday.

Then last Saturday I got a regular delivery. And then on Sunday I woke up to find another delivery in my box which suggests that I was both correct to check for late deliveries and that of course the one day I didn’t check for a late delivery is the day I left packages on my doorstep overnight.

Anyway one of those packages was a box from Marc Brubaker. Yeah, a box. I’ve gotten boxes from Marc before but between the complete absence of baseball and much-decreased access to product the past couple months have been all about surprise plain white envelopes—something at which Marc excels.

So I opened it up and found that it wasn’t a box of cards. Yes there were cards inside but also two rolls of film and a jar of loquat jelly from his recent bounty. Film is much appreciated though I haven’t had a chance to go out for a photowalk in a long time. Heck I’m still working my way through a roll of 220 from my last mailing of film. I’m pretty sure it’s Portra 400 and at this point I hope it is since I’m exposing it as if it is.

And the jelly will be great. We’ve been making lots of pancakes and it’s great to change things up with different toppings. As someone who grew up with loquat trees in his backyard this will be a great taste to introduce to the kids as well. I’d love to be able to find them out here in New Jersey but they don’t seem to be able to survive our winters.

And yes there was also a surprising amount of cards—three team bags worth—in the box. The usual assortment of Giants, Stanford, and randoms so let’s start with the Giants. I’m continuously amazed at how I can discover new sets that were released in the 1990s and 2000s.

With the 1980s at least the sets I’ve never heard of are regional releases. In the 1990s and 2000s though there are so many big releases that I just can’t keep track. The 2000 Metal cards here are one such set that I’d just never seen. Not as over-the-top as the earlier Metal cards which remain some of the craziest cards I’ve ever seen but still an interesting finish to the card surface which remains unlike anything being produced now.

A couple other cards to note are the Pinnacle Steve Hosey and Silver signature Barry Bonds which both fill holes in sets that I only ver purchased a single pack of as a kid. The 1992 John Patterson meanwhile fills a nice hole since I have that card in my autograph binder.

There was also a lot of Gypsy Queen. I’m happy other people buy this product and send me Giants because I will never spend money on these. Same goes with Gallery. They add a bit of variety to the binder but a little bit goes a long long way. And that the Brandon Belt card is one of those fancy framed variants that always interests me from a production point of view.

The super-sparkly (or whatever this is called) Tyler Beede is a similar addition. I don’t chase these cards either and kind of hate all the insert variants. But I do enjoy adding the splash of interest to a binder page.

I do like the Wilhelm Distinguished Service card. Military service is an interesting and different way to build a checklist. Where my parents’ generation grew up seeing military service listed in the statistics of many players, by the time I was a kid that was all a thing of the past.

The Pinnacle Tim Lincecum is kind of nice too. It’s weird. 2013 Panini had a bunch of one-year-wonder sets that are more interesting than most of what has become their standard releases. My understanding is that sets like Pinnacle and Hometown Heroes caused collectors to take Pinnacle seriously yet neither of those sets were ever released again.

To the 2020 cards. Marc’s been surprisingly active acquiring cards this year. We’ve got Heritage, Opening Day, Stickers, Flagship, and Donruss all represented. Meanwhile it’s been over two months since I even set foot in a store which stocks cards.

This completes my Heritage team set (well except for the Yastrzemski shortprint) and gives me my first taste of Opening Day, Stickers, and Donruss. I can see why people like this year’s Donruss set. Logolessness aside it’s come into its own and has a clean, generic 1990sish design. Still a little too reminiscent of the Donruss designs from 2014 to 2017 for me but it at least knows what it’s doing now.

A batch of Stanford guys which features some more 2000 Metal as well as a couple other cards I don’t have yet. Some of those, like the 1989 Score Traded Mike Aldrete, are sort of surprising omissions. Others such as the Appell, Hutchinson, and Mussina are the kind of things I never search for but love to add to the binder.

Marc also went ahead and attacked some of my smaller projects. A handful of Scott Erickson cards. Four 2014 Topps for the setbuild. Two Sportflics cards for the action binder. All quite welcome and evidence of someone clicking down through the searchlists.

And finally the last handful of cards Marc includes are always a bit of a puzzle for me. Stanford Jenning is clearly a joke. Yes I laughed.

The rest though I’m not so sure about. I thought at first that the Ruth was for my photographer binder but there’s no photographer credited. The two Muñoz cards though I’m genuinely confused by. I’ll keep thinking about it ad maybe it’ll come to me.

Thanks Marc! Stay safe out there.

Vandal PWE

This week brought another plain white envelope in my mail from Jason. This one was both pretty stiff and mysteriously marked with a big “open carefully” on the side. I did my usual thing and snipped an end off as if this were a policy envelope and was immediately very glad I did so.

Inside I found two super-thin, almost bible-paper quality that sticks together with static electricity, sheets of paper that had been cut out of a book. They’re in great condition but still feel incredibly fragile. Jason claims to have purchased a batch of clippings and denies being a book vandal so I had to do some research based on the back side of these.

The fronts are obviously John McGraw. On the left, a younger-looking McGraw in a starched, probably-detachable collar. On the right, McGraw as I’m used to seeing him as the Giants manager. In both cases his competitive nature is clearly visible despite the early halftone printing (which is actually very well done in gterms of keeping detail in both his dark suit and whte collar).

The backs suggest that the photo on the left is from 1911 (though I suspect it’s older than that) and the one on the right, 1913. In any case the backs are enough to date the book as being around 1914 or so.

Go I googled around and discovered that these are actually from two books. Or, well the same book but two different editions. The book in question is the Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide. The left page is from the 1912–1913 edition and I have pages 89 and 90. McGraw is actually on page 90 and so is technically on the back side of the sheet. The right page is from the 1914–1915 edition. I have pages 73 and 74 from this book and, being the same format, McGraw is again on the back of the sheet, this time occupying page 74.

I did not read the entire books but in flipping through to confirm I’d found the right ones I couldn’t help but notice that in each book the sheet before the McGraw sheet features a photo of the Giants president. 1912–13 depicts John T Brush, whose name remains on the only remaining part of the Polo Grounds, which was dedicated to him after his death in 1912. 1914–15 depicts the new president H.N. Hempstead.

Jason also included two cards in the envelope. Two very similar poses and lots of color but the similarities mostly stop there. The Stanley Hack is a 1935 National Chicle Diamond Stars card. I’ve long admired this set with its carefully drawn portraits placed in front of colorfully abstract backgrounds. The three Giants legends in it (Terry, Ott, and Hubbell) are on the top of my list of cards I’d love to get but never will.

This Hack has a nasty crease across the middle but presents really nicely since the crease never actually breaks the surface of the paper. It’s now one of only a half dozen baseball cards I have from before 1940* and is the only one with super-vibrant color.

I thought at first that Jason had gotten the wrong end of the stick when I mentioned that I was looking for a 1955 Doubleheader of Hack and Jack Shepard but it turns out that he’d just noticed me expressing my admiration for Diamond Stars and rueing the fact that I’d probably never acquire one.*

*I’m pretty much incapable of buying a card of a player who’s not a specific collection or team interest of mine.

The other card is a 1975/1976 SSPC Frank Robinson card. This one is notable because it’s the first card of an African American manager. Topps at this time was not releasing manager-specific cards so it’s a very good thing TCMA/SSPC’s wildcat release was around to commemorate the historic first season in cardboard form.

Thanks Jason! A small envelope but a good one. Always fun to be forced to do a bit of research to figure out what something is too.

Candlestick Pages

In the tradition of my Colorwheels project, I have another project I’m passively working on as a way to get a page from multiple sets without going down the rabbit hole of set building. In this case I’m looking at getting a page of cards which show Candlestick park in the background. I grew up with The Stick and seeing it in cards always reminds me of going to games as a kid.

This project only really starts in 1972. From what I’ve been able to figure out, there aren’t really any cards take at Candlestick before this season.* I have most of the Giants cards now and there’s maybe one taken there.** Starting in 1972 though most of the Giants cards are at The Stick and there are a bunch of other cards in the set as well.

*There are cards from the late 1950s and early 1960s that feature Seals Stadium.

**1971 Gaylord Perry

That 1972 is the first year that cards depict Candlestick is fun because many of these cards show all the construction work that went into expanding and enclosing the park for the 49ers. This expansion is what turns Candlestick into the park that I knew and marks another reason for me to only worry about cards starting in 1972.

Unlike the colorwheels project, while I would like to get a nice colorful page, I’m biasing my choices toward interesting photos and between that and the fact that there are only a handful of teams with photos taken in San Francisco I’m finding myself with a lot of repeat teams on each sheet.

1973 and 1974 I’m only getting started with. Nothing much to note here except that it’s nice to see the mix of action and posed images and that Denny Doyle represents one of the rare American League cards that will be in this collection.

1975 and 1976 I have complete pages for. These aren’t set in stone but I went for a nice mix of stadium views. I especially like seeing the 49ers press box and the pre-Jumbotron scoreboard. The switch to wide angle lenses for the portraits in these years also results in fantastic stadium perspectives.

1977 and 1978 demonstrate how certain road teams like the Braves tend to have a lot of Candlestick shots. I’d like more team variety for these pages but since 1978 is a set I’m building I’m stuck with duplicates I come across.

A lot more headshots in these years also means that I don’t see as much of the stadiums in the background.

1979 is very much continuing from 1977 and 1978. I’ve also started putting a page of Hostess cards together since I’ve noticed that a lot of the Hostess cards are shot at Candlestick as well. I think I’m just going to Frankenset a page of Hostess together though unless I come across a big cache of them. And yes the Braves dominance on these pages continues.

Moving into the 1980s and 1990s and I haven’t broken out individual pages yet since there are more sets to consider. When I come across cards I put them in. But I haven’t even done a concerted dig through my piles of junk wax yet to find the undoubtedly dozens of cards that are relevant.

I’m also not sure how far I’m going to take this in the 1990s. Part of me is inclined to stop at the strike. Part of me likes the idea of going all the way until 1999 when the last game was. Might even be fun to see if any photos crept into the 2000 set. But those are longer term goals for now. I’m still learning about what was going on in general in the hobby after 1995.

Mission Creep

So while we’ve all been locked down the boys and I have been getting our baseball fixes in where we can. We’ve watched movies like Field of Dreams. We’ve watched recorded games. We’ve done some Sporcle quizzes. And we’ve looked at our baseball cards.

Not just looking at cards, I think we’ve all taken it upon ourselves to give things a re-sort. For my part I looked at my Giants albums. I’ve had my team sets in alphabetical order by last name. This has been fine, especially as I build the team sets, but it’s never felt right.

One of the things I’ve liked about Mother’s Cookies is how the first sets were ordered by star power. I like the idea of the set telling a story about the team and while paging cards by something like WAR would be an interesting way to do this I decided instead to page them by lineup.

This idea is stolen from some guys on Twitter but the basic idea is that the first page is the main starters for the season, the second are the pitchers, and the rest of the pages are everybody else.

More-specifically, page one is organized like a field:

LF | CF | RF
---+----+---
SS |    | 2B
---+----+---
3B |  C | 1B

Center Square is either the Manager or the Team Card. I really like this because it gives me a sense of what the team actually looked like that season. Both good and bad. Is it fun to see the most valuable players first? Yes. But it’s also important for me to see the “who the hell is that” players to be reminded of the team’s weaknesses as well.

Page two meanwhile is the top nine pitchers on the team. First the four or five starters, then the closer and the relievers.  Page three is the rest of the bench ordered by number of at bats. And page four ends up being players who didn’t play, all stars, league leaders, etc.

I’m already enjoying looking through things more. Now, this kind of sorting isn’t without its problems—the main one is being what season do I choose to represent. Do I sort the cards based on the team that existed the year the cards came out or do I go based on the previous year which is represented in the last line of stats?

There’s no good answer here. Going by the card year means that new players aren’t in the team set. Going by the stats year opens you up to missing guys who were traded late in the season or who changed teams before press time.

I chose to go by the card year. When I look at cards from 1960 or 1970 I’m thinking they represent 1960 or 1970. Stats on the back show me what the guy did last year but the cards stand in for the current season.

This choice means I miss some rookies but more importantly opens up a bit of mission creep with regard to the trades and free agents. Like with my 1968 team set which is basically complete except for the Mays/Mantle/Killebrew card, there’s no second baseman in the team set. When I looked up who played that year I found out it was Ron Hunt who played in almost 150 games at second but whose 1968 card features him with the Dodgers.*

*Note, if I had gone with the previous year I’d be in even more trouble since there’s no Tito Fuentes card in the set at all.

So I’ve gone ahead and added Ron Hunt to my searchlist and done this with a bunch of other players as well. Not everyone who’s missing. But if there’s a position player who started the overwhelming majority of the games or a pitcher who made up a large part of the rotation I feel like I should add him.

Through the 1970s this wasn’t even two dozen cards. I’ll get up to the 1994 strike eventually but with Topps Traded existing plus the existence of multiple brands things are going to get more complicated. I should have coverage with more brands but do I want to mix them? Don’t know yet.

Anyway what I’m currently missing is as follows. Not going to update this the way I’m doing the Colorwheels post since these aren’t priorities. Most are commons and pretty cheap. A couple Hall of Famers or short prints though will definitely be more of a reach. Still it’s nice to see where things started.

1956 Topps 165	Red Schoendienst	St. Louis Cardinals
1956 Topps 247	Bill Sarni		St. Louis Cardinals
1957 Topps 68	Ray Crone		Milwaukee Braves
1957 Topps 218	Ray Jablonski		Chicago Cubs
1957 Topps 271	Danny O'Connell		Milwaukee Braves
1959 Topps 75	Sam Jones		St. Louis Cardinals
1961 Topps 418	Ed Bailey		Cincinnati Reds
1965 Topps 205	Warren Spahn		New York Mets
1965 Topps 218	Dick Schofield		Pittsburgh Pirates
1966 Topps 26	Ray Sadecki		St. Louis Cardinals
1967 Topps 86	Mike McCormick		Washington Senators
1968 Topps 15	Ron Hunt		Los Angeles Dodgers
1970 Topps 103	Frank Reberger		San Diego Padres
1975 Topps 162	Willie Montanez		Philadelphia Phillies
1975 Topps 547	Von Joshua		Los Angeles Dodgers
1976 Topps 81	Darrell Evans		Atlanta Braves
1976 Topps 177	Marty Perez		Atlanta Braves
1977 Topps 47	Lynn McGlothen		St. Louis Cardinals
1977 Topps 76	Tim Foli		Montreal Expos
1977 OPC 56	Bill Madlock		San Francisco Giants
1977 Topps 209	Rob Andrews		Houston Astros
1979 Topps 668	Bill North		Los Angeles Dodgers

Two notes. 1967 Mike McCormick actually lists him as a Giant on the back. And while the 1977 Topps Bill Madlock would be a contender, that there’s an O Pee Chee showing him with the Giants means that’s the better choice for the binder.

A couple PWEs

Not a lot of big trades going on but it’s been nice to receive random envelopes with just a couple of cards inside. I’ve also sent out a couple of these. I think we all like getting mail and maintaining some connection to the outside world.

The first envelope came from Jason who, after upgrading his 1957 Dodgers Team set found himself with an extra Carl Erskine card. Erskine is a legend in the TTM community and when I mentioned that I’ve been meaning to send to him Jason popped his extra Erskine into the ail for me. I sent it out before I could write this post so I had to wait for it to come back with ink.

Erskine, legend that he is, turned this around in 11 days and included a bunch more in his return. Those will be part of this month’s TTM round up since they has nothing to do with Jason’s mail.

Jason also included two Topps stickers. I don’t actively pursue these but they’re fun to add to the binder. The Dave Holland is particularly cool because his jacket is amazing with the Warriors Cable Car number graphic on the left sleeve.

Shane Katz has been making themed binder pages and is partially responsible for inspiring my colorwheels project. So it’s only fitting that he would be the first person to actively contribute to it. I was missing an orange 1967. Now I’m not.

The foil 2020 Brandon Belt is pretty nice. Scans badly but of all the shiny cards I think the foils are the only ones I like. Something about them still being printed on paper appeals to me.

Shane also included a couple Stanford guys. The Frank Duffy is his last pro card and it doesn’t surprise me that Shane, as a Red Sox collector would have duplicates here. The Mark Davis though is an obscure card of an obscure player who only has one MLB card that I’m aware of. Yes I have it (1992 Topps MLB Debut) but it’s very cool to add a second.

Thanks guys! Take care out there.

Alchemy

One of the best things about Card Twitter is its ability to transform stuff that doesn’t interest me into stuff that does. In this case, my stack of 1967 Topps Football cards has been sitting in a box for months. I don’t really feel like selling things but I figured it was only a matter of time before I found someone building the set.

About a month ago Jeff Katz turned out to be that someone. I almost blew the trade by overthinking things* but I eventually realized that if I had a magic wand that could simply transform my football cards into baseball cards I’d be perfectly happy. So that’s what we ended up doing. After like 10 days of watching my package bounce between Pittsburgh and Jersey City it finally arrived yesterday.

*The downside of having a focused searchlist is that I can get hung up on just focusing on the list of what I “need.” 95% of the time this is a good instinct but this was an instance where it got in the way.

Two Hall of Famers in the stack. Stargell is a little beat up (I knew this before Jeff sent it) but the Drysdale is in good shape for my collecting grade that doesn’t care about softish corners, centering, or diamond cuts.*

*I won’t comment on the registration.

1967 is a design I’ve never really cared for since I don’t like facsimile signatures. I’ve come around to appreciating the photography though and the way it interacts with the design. This will be a larger post over on SABR some day but the short version of it here is that layering the text on top of the photo forced a looser crop that Topps usually does.

This is especially the case with the name and position text in the top of the frame. Mid-1960s portraits will be shot on, at smallest, medium format film and be composed in-camera with a lot of room for cropping downstream. That extra quarter inch of space at the top of the frame coupled with the extra half inch on the bottom results in a lot more background information than is typical for any other  Topps set from 1957 to 1969.*

*After 1969 we see 35mm photography, candids, and action shots start to creep into the mix so we really can’t compare those sets to the portraits that dominate the 1960s.

Another card in the batch gives a complete page of 1967 A’s cards. 1967 is the last year the A’s were in Kansas City and I’ve been trying to put a page together for each of the teams that moved. Not a major project just one I’ve enjoyed keeping an eye out for as I accumulate other cards.

Four horizontal cards including a pair of designs in the World Series and  Thumpers cards I’ve not encountered before. I also need to mention that the ERA Leaders card is one of the rare instances of a player showing up in a set which he doesn’t officially appear in due to retirement. In this case, Koufax retired after 1966, has no 1967 card, but does show up in a couple of the Leaders cards.

The rest of the 1967s give me a good start on completing my new colorwheel project. One of the things I’ve found myself missing as a team collector is seeing all the different colors of cards in a set. This is especially something I miss in the more colorful sets but even something as minimally designed as 1967 the colors jump out at me and my Giants pages look like an awful lot of green.

1967 features team names in cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, green, red, purple, orange, and light purple. With this batch I’m over halfway to putting them into a page. Current plan is to colorwheel around the outside of the page with whatever color doesn’t fit in the center. Since most of these colors are printer-simple solid process colors this will be a fun way to see how so many of Topp’s colors come up year after year.

Jeff also included a signed copy of his book (making this a Split Season 1981 from @splitseason1981 mailday). I’ve been meaning to read this for a while and what better time to do so than when I don’t plan on leaving the house for two weeks.

A couple more items include a beat-to-hell-and-back 1967 McCovey poster that’s going to turn into a four-panel puzzle if I breathe on it and a kids book from 1982 about the Giants.

I love the poster and its photography. Pretty sure McCovey never took a bad photo when it came to baseball cards. There’s also some of the “turn the background into cyan-only sky” effect going on with how much of the bating cage is being printed in just cyan ink.

The book is pretty great and the boys have already grabbed it to look through. I especially like the bright colorful cover with the baseball as tennis ball photo treatment.

Back to cards. Two 1971 Topps cards take my 1971 team set needs down to missing only one for completion. Unfortunately it’s the high-numbered Willie Mays card. I’ll get it eventually. I just need to be patient until one drops  into my price range.

Destined for the same binder as the 1967 Jim Nash card, here were five 1972 Rangers to take me to eight Rangers for my page of first-year Rangers cards. This is an ugly team set with most of the cards featuring the same up-the-nose photo coupled with blood-red airbrushed caps. Ted Kubiak is a nice change of pace as he gets the same hatless treatment that he got on his 1968 A’s card.

I should probably consider adding a page of 1973 Rangers (as well as 2nd year cards for the other new teams) just to show the new uniforms.

And finally, two Fleer Famous Feats and a panel of baseball stamps from back when it only cost 39¢ to mail a letter. I have yet to get into the Laughlin cards that Fleer released in the 1970s. I haven’t avoided them, I just haven’t gotten into them. I do like adding them to the binder though and they’ll keep Cy Young company.

Thanks Jeff. The hobby, and the community around it, is going to help me keep my sanity over these coming weeks. Stay safe and good luck completing your 1967 football build.

A few maildays

Catching up on a few maildays that came in over the past couple weeks. School being at home has meant we all have had to adjust and has left me with less time for other things. But it’s been too long now so it’s time to acknowledge a number of things that came in the mail.

We’ll start off with these two Carl Aldana Seals customs of the lesser-known DiMaggio brothers from Jason. These cards are in the 1950s Mother’s Cookies style but feature photos from the 1930s. Mixing the two eras works pretty well but for me draws the photos into looking more 1950s because of the colorization.

Two neat little objects. I’m apparently a sucker for rounded corners. And I enjoy seeing Vince in his Hollywood Stars uniform.

It’s also worth showing the backs of these cards. No stats but not blank either. The image used could be a bit higher-resolution but I appreciate making it a vintage dairy advertisement. Is a nice riff on something that should fit right in with cookies.

I also got a nice postcard from Mark Armour just wishing us safety and health in these strange times. Why bother with a PWE when you can just send a postcard by itself? Anyway this is making me think that I should start mailing small things out to people just as a way to say “take care.” It’s indeed a strange world out there but there’s also something wonderful about seeing 90% of us in agreement about what’s most important and trying to support each other in surviving.

Does this go in a Giants binder? Maybe it does. Maybe it does. It is after all the closest I ever expect to get to a T206 Christy Mathewson.

Another mailing that came in was a handful of cards from Shane Katz which included my first 1981 Topps Scratch Offs. This is one of those sets that never appealed to me with its small photos and perforated edges.

Seeing them in panels helps a lot as the different colors make things more interesting. I can’t imagine filling 9-pocket (or even 10-pocket) sheets with these but picturing a full 4-pocket page appeals to me

Meanwhile my printing side appreciates that each photo is framed in a different process color. One of these days I’ll write the Topps and process colors post I keep saying I’ll write and the colors of 1981 Topps will definitely be a big part of that.

The backs of these are are great because they explain how the game is supposed to work. It’s actually something I can see my kids enjoying although I can already tell that the game has little replay value since you’ll quickly learn where to scratch for maximum run scoring.

The advertisement panels are also a ton of fun. I don’t know anyone who sent in for these things but that cap just screams its age/era and I do know a lot of guys who stored their cards in baseball card lockers like that.

Shane also included a couple other cards including a 2020 Heritage Willie Mays insert which takes my accumulated total for this set to six. Am I actively chasing and trying to build it? No. Is it something that I enjoy slowly adding to? Absolutely.

Thanks guys and take care in this season unlike any other.

March TTMs

What a month. All things considered this was pretty successful. Spring training returns continued to come in and a few other requests I sent out also came back. With the whole Covid-19 debacle I stopped sending requests early in the month and things sort of dried up in the last two weeks. I have no idea what to expect for returns moving forward but I am looking forward to being able to start things up again some day.

Also it’s worth noting that the boys wrote a few letters and began getting returns this month as well. They’ve been pretty quiet since last summer but this is a fun activity to share with them plus it gets them writing.

They have a few more out there but who knows what to expect now. Anyway to my returns for the month.

I tried sending to Dave Righetti early last year. Was hopeful I’d get a return when I saw everyone else get returns around June. No dice. I figured that I’d try again this spring and send to Scottsdale instead  of Pac Bell. 27 days later a nice 1993 Topps Gold card came back signed.

Rags was one of those guys I liked watching before he became a Giant. Some pitchers you can just watch how they move the ball around the zone and really appreciate the art of pitching. Once he came to San Francisco I was happy to have an excuse to cheer for him. That he went on to become the pitching coach during the Even Years run of championships makes him even cooler.

Same Selman is yet another Giant who made his Major League Debut last year. These came back in 24 days. He didn’t keep one but I hope he liked them.

Two years into making customs and I’ve come to realize that I love sending out “congrats on your MLB debut, I made some customs for you” letters. This season I’m going to have to try and make debut or notable firsts (hits, home runs, wins, etc.) cards for all the guys making their official debuts.

Tommy Edman is a Stanford guy who was not on my radar for making it to the majors last year. But he did, had a great first season, and was literally the last guy to make it into the 2019 Update set.* I didn’t mention it when Big Shep sent me the Edman cards last year but Shep sent me an extra Edman for TTM reasons.

*Seriously. Edman debuted on June 8 and Yordan Alvarez debuted on June 9. Edman is included in 2019 Update. Alvarez had to wait until 2020 to get his first Major League card. Not sure whether the MLBPA union insisted on that cutoff or if Topps proposed it. Either way it left Update feeling like a badly-thought-out set which isn’t able to include either the top Rookies or the trades that occurred before the deadline.

Edman sent this back to me in only 19 days. Very cool and I’ve already added it to the page of Stanford Autographs. Up to 92 different athletes on there now.

Felipe Alou is probably my favorite return of the spring. I wish I’d had some vintage doubles of him (ideally 1960 0r 1962) but I also really liked him as the Giants manager and the way he used his platform there to speak about his experiences in the game and how society has changed in the decades since he started playing.

His baseball stories were great but the one that sticks with me the most is appropriate for his status as the first Dominican player. His first time traveling into the South and being informed that certain people had decided that he was black.

Needless to say I’m very happy with this card. He was one of the first letters I sent out and 31 days later I was very happy to add him to the binder.

I figured I shouldn’t just be sending to Spring Training so I sent a couple other requests out in February. Goose Gossage is one such request. His 1986 Topps card came back in 17 days. I just love the attitude in this photo. I would’ve sent him a 1989 Mothers Cookies card but I traded my duplicate a long time ago.

Chuck Essegian is another re-send for me. Once I started making Stanford customs I figured I should go back over the guys I got the first time around. The hard part is often finding photos. With Essegian I was stuck between showing him on the A’s since he never had an A’s card or putting him on the Dodgers since his pinch-hitting heroics make him a Dodger legend of sorts. I went with the Dodgers and after a couple of tries this came back in 8 days.

Spring training returns continued to trickle in after the first burst. Jandal Gustave signed in 34 days—still not a long wait. He was a bit of a surprise last season who came with no expectations and turned out to be quietly effective out of the bullpen.

After 10 days, Doug Gwosdz became the first signer to take advantage of the Mother’s Cookies “autograph” line on the backs of the cards. I’ve always wondered about that line as it felt both optimistic and a bit weird to have on the backs of the cards. It doesn’t feel like something that Mother’s Cookies would have invented but it’s not something that’s exactly common either.

I’ve gone ahead and scanned the front of the card as well. I would’ve preferred the signature be there but I can’t complain. This is actually a zero-year card since Gwosdz never appeared in the majors with the Giants. I don’t collect this theme but they’re certainly fun things to note and don’t really pop up that often (I didn’t see any Giants on the list I linked to). I appreciate that he signed the index card with his Giants number instead of the #10 he wore with the Padres.

Catcher Steve Nicosia came back in 9 days. He was a World Series winning catcher with the Pirates in 1979 and later spent two seasons with the Giants as a backup/platoon guy.

Roberto Hernandez’s 10-day return continues the theme of short-term Giants. He was only on the team for half of the 1997 season but since that pennant race is what brought me back to being a fan I remember him very fondly. His two-inning save of the game before the Brian Johnson game will be my lasting memory. He wasn’t our main closer but at that time it was quite a weapon to have a guy who could hit 100mph on the gun.

Yet another short-term Giant, Gene Richards signed in 11 days. Richards was primarily a Padre whose 56 stolen bases was the Rookie record from 1977 to 1980. This 1985 card is his career capper as he retired after his 1984 season—his only one with the Giants.

After the Richards return my mail pretty much dried up as the country went into the Covid-19 lockdown. My two-week dry spell was broken by a nice 44-day return from Alex Dickerson. The autos got kind of beat up and scratched in the return envelope but that was totally fine because Dick included a nice note as well.

This encapsulates everything I enjoy about sending out these requests. I mentioned in my letter how much fun it was to see the way he energized the team last season and giving the customs to players is a way to demonstrate my appreciation as a fan. In these days where everyone’s just waiting out the impending disaster and trying to stay safe there’s also something wonderful in just the simple “take care” sort of response everyone is giving each other.

I know the month isn’t over quite yet (will it ever end?) but this feels like an appropriate last return for the post. This blog doesn’t have many readers but I agree 100% with Alex. I hope all is well and that you’re all staying safe. Take care out there.