Category Archives: Giants

Mailday from Marc

So in Marc Brubaker’s year-end round up he mentioned that he’d sent me the most cards in 2018. While I’ve had larger maildays,* Marc has certainly sent me the most maildays over the past year and I and extremely grateful for them.

*My trade deficit is USA-level but I try and send out the best I can.

It looks like 2019 is starting up right where 2018 left off. A week ago I found a bright pink bubble mailer form Marc in my mailbox and inside were a bunch more goodies I needed.

The main reason I’ve gotten so many cards from Marc is that I’ve been working on a bunch of junk wax sets which everyone has tons of duplicates of. This mailer continues that with a half-dozen more junk wax needs as well as a bunch of 2014 cards for that set build.

The 1986 Bill Doran in particular is greatly appreciated. This card has been a thorn in my side due to the incorrect card number errors that kind of plague 1986 Topps. Doran shares his card number with Bobby Wine and I’ve gotten a few Wines by mistake so far. I don’t mind most errors but checklist-based ones are probably the worst since they confuse everything.

I’ve not much to say about Mark Langston except to note that he’s a local guy—high school in Sant Clara, college in San José—and that’s always fun to see.

The three 1990 Upper Decks take me to 40 left for set completion. 1991 Donruss is ridiculously close; I’m missing just 22 now. And the ~50 2014s take that build solidly past the halfway point. I’m not still fully feeling the design on this set but I’m enjoying it the more I look at it.

Marc is also one of the few traders who stays on top of my Stanford searchlist. These are always fun to add. Even though I’m pretty sure I have most of these (though I know I don’t have the Bowman Aldrete) due to 1988–1991 being my peak collecting years, duplicates are always appreciated since I plan on starting up some through the mail requests this year. Yes I’m planning on trying to get my son involved as well.

Continuing with Stanford cards, I needed most of these ones. The Mike Mussina Sports Illustrated for Kids is great. Same with all the Jeffrey Hammonds cards. And the McCarty Sportflics is fantastic. The Stephen Piscottys are also fun and the Opening Day foil will add a bit of variety to the album.

Moving into Giants cards. 1990 Topps Big is not my favorite of the Big designs but this Robby Thompson is still a fun card to have. the Jeff Brantley Score Young Superstar is an insert set I never came across as a kid. I know these came in rack packs but I can’t recall seeing them when I was a kid. 1991 Donruss Rookies looks so weird in red.

All the Minor League cards though are just fun. I never collected these in earnest but I love seeing the Giants ones and remembering names I haven’t thought of in decades. I like Studio 1993 a lot and the Kirt Manwaring Award Winner card is also great. It’s not one of his fantastic photo cards but it’s nice to be reminded of when he was all promise.

Now into Giants cards from the new-to-me age. The Mark Carreon “dreaming of being Bo” is hilarious. The Shawon Dunston Fleer Ultra is interesting. I’m not too keen on this set yet but I can see why people like it. 1999 Fleer is growing on me as well. And the Willie McCovey disc is great.

A bunch of these are also team-set needs and it’s always satisfying to cross those off the search list.

Finally, a few cards that don’t fit in any categories. The Sid Fernandez is for whenever I start putting together a “players from Hawai‘i” project. The William Hoy is just a great card of a player with a great story. The colorization annoys me but it’s nice to see Topps is remembering him.

The Bill Brubaker is the star here. There’s a long backstory to this. Part of it is covered in a SABR post where some of the community sort of crushed Marc’s enthusiasm about finding a card of someone who shared his last name but recognizing that the photo was incorrect. The rest is in Marc doing the research to determine that Bill is actually his cousin, finding some Charles Conlon photos of him, and making a custom to correct the error card. Anyway Marc is sure to blog about this on his own so I’m going to stop there.

Marc’s a member of the codependent support group doing custom cards last season. I sent him the Astros cards from my set as well as a few other customs and we’ve talked about how moving forward making more customs and things like that is likely to take precedence over active collecting. I very much enjoy have one of his customs in my binder.

Thanks Marc and Happy New Year!

Dimebox Winnings

So about month or so ago Dimebox Nick (it feels weird for me to call him Nick even if I’m “other Nick”) celebrated his seventh anniversary of blogging by running a little contest. It was an easy one to enter as his blog is enjoyable and he deserves all the congratulations he gets. My blog has been all over the map in the eight years it’s been running and I’m surprised anyone not related to me still reads it.

Anyway a bit of his, and his father’s, luck rubbed off on me and I ended up winning the contest! A few days before Christmas a good-sized box of cards showed up in my mailbox and while I couldn’t dig in in earnest super quick I was able to pop it open and take a quick look.

The Chris Speier Pepsi disc was exciting enough and I could see a decent stack of old cardboard in one end of the box. This was a great way to usher in the holiday and the first thing I did when I did get a chance to crack into the box in earnest was penny sleeve all the old vintage so that I didn’t feel like I had to handle everything with kid gloves.

Where it’s completely obvious to protect a card that it’s good shape in order to keep it from getting damaged, I’ve found that it’s in the lower end where I want things to be in sleeves or semi-rigids. As surfaces get rougher and edges and corners get softer, they just feel like they’ll catch on things and damage themselves even further. So as silly as it seems I put the damaged cards in sleeves so I can sort of arrest the damage and actually feel comfortable flipping through them.

This batch of well-loved 1963s is a good example of the condition. These must have been peak flipping age for the original owner since they’re soft and scuffed all over. Many still present well enough though despite the damage—a testament to the strong colors and graphics in this design.

I really like the Pizarro card with its Yankees Stadium background and how you can see the Polo Grounds outfield stands on Oldis’s card. There’s also something classically perfect about the Fregosi card.

It’s also always nice to get any card which predates the 1960s so the 1959 Simmons is very much appreciated. And the 1960 Dick Hall with the Kansas City A’s a great fit for my moves/expansion project. While not a year I’m focusing on for the A’s, pretty much any card from Kansas City has a place in the binder.

The 1965s are all great. The Juan Marichal is a beaut, as is the Same Mele with that classic “manager” pose. The Jesus Alou is one I needed too so that’s awesome.

The 1966s are a lot of fun as well. The Rusty Staub is great. I love DIY traded cards like the Cepeda even though it pains me to be reminded of his trade to St. Louis. Woody Held is an all-time great name and I’ll always have a soft spot for Bill Rigney as the first San Francisco manager. I especially enjoyed seeing Donn Clendennon whatwith my Clendennon/Stargell card from this year being one of the few old card in my childhood collection.

Lots of purple in the 1967s. As much as I dislike facsimile signatures this is a nice looking photo-centered set. I especially like the Roy Face card because of all the wonderful things going on in the background. Bob Bolin is actually an upgrade on my existing card. Zoilo Versailles is just a classic look and Mack Jones is a great picture of the new Braves unis.*

*My 1966 Braves cards are all hatless.

The 1968 Don Sutton is pretty beat up but fits nicely in my Hall of Fame binder. He looks so weird without that 80s perm I knew him with (I loved his cards in the 80s since they had tons of stats). The Orioles team card is a fun photo. And that Lee May is a nice-looking 69. It’s a shame that that set is known for hatless  photos, blacked out caps, and massive photo re-use since when proper photos are used the design really sings.

The 1970 cards feature none of the wild/weird photography that I especially love in this set. These, while pretty straightforward, still show the change in camera format that occurred in this time with how they show so much more background image (compare the 1967 Face with the Dal Canton here). I particularly like the Roberto Pena card showing the Padres uniforms and the Max Alvis card with the huge chaw in his cheek.

Also that 1970 Kelloggs 3D card is fantastic and represents my first card from this set. Anything lenticular is my jam and this is now my oldest example by far of any kind of lenticular card. Is awesome.

The three 1971s are kind of beat up but still look great. I especially like the photo on the Dal Maxvill card and how much space we have for the action image. It’s not a great look in general but for some reason works in this design.

The two 1972s include my first first-year Rangers card. Having looked at the gallery of first-year Rangers cards it’s an amazingly awful collection of up-nostril photos. I still would like to get a few more of them but I may have to pick up some 1973 Rangers as well.

Of the 1973s I’m pleased to have a few of the perak-1973 photos ones like the Mike Epstein where it’s not clear who the focus of the card is supposed to be on. Such a weird set this was with bizarre photos like the Epstein and then fantastic ones like Vida Blue’s or Ken Singleton’s.

As always I love seeing Candlestick creep into the background of cards so the Jimmy Wynn makes me particularly happy. And speaking of backgrounds good lord that George Scott is a disaster.

The 1974s are also fun. Wynn’s card is again at The Stick. As is JR Richard’s first solo card. I love the Frank Robbinson and that Concepcion is some peak 1970s action photography that looks like it was shot using a 200mm lens when a 400mm or longer was what was needed. It doesn’t work as well on the 1974 design as it does on the 1971. As much as I dislike facsimile signatures, they are a great way of dealing with all that empty space.

To 1975 and I was very happy to find a handful of minis. I love these no matter who they depict but the Charlie Hough is my favorite here. The regular 1975s are also great with two Hall of Famers plus a Bay Area legend.

The crazy colors in 1975 have been growing on me. I can’t say that I like them in general but I have found myself liking them more when the colors work for the team in question. So the red/blue combination on the Dodgers* or the yellow/green on the A’s is great. Orange/Brown for the Orioles is also close enough. Heck the Cyan text on the red baqckground for the Phillies also works.

*Jim Brewer’s card is another Candlestick photo too.

And back the the Charlie Hough, while the yellow and green are not Dodgers colors, I suspect that the best-looking cards in this set are all taken at Dodger Stadium since the colors of the stands end up working with whatever the border colors are.

Some nice star power in the 1976s with Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, and Phil Niekro* as well as two team cards featuring Hall of Fame managers. 1976 is a great set. Good photos. Nice colors. Clean fun design. I think it’s my favorite of the decade now.

*Hello Candlestick!

The 1977 Nolan Ryan recordbreaker is great but in this batch it’s the oddballs which steal the show. I’m extremely unfamiliar with both Hostess and Kellogg’s releases. They predate my previous collecting experience so just getting one here or there is a treat even if they’re off grade.

The Hostess, Kellogg’s, and Pepsi disc were the only 1970s oddballs but Nick also included a bunch of more-recent oddballs as well. these are a ton of fun.

The samples from early-80s greatest-players sets reminds me of how much I learned about the sport from these cards (something we’re sadly missing today which makes it harder for my sons’ generation to learn about the game)/

The Burger King minor league card is great. Star Stickers are one of my favorite things. I love the handful of cards from those ubiquitous retail boxed sets that I could never get enough of but convinced myself to stop buying since they weren’t worth anything.* Sportflics!

*Seriously those 33 or 44 card sets (one third or one fourth of a standard 132-card sheet) were everywhere and usually only cost a couple bucks. I should never have let myself get talked into thinking they were a waste of time. Aside from being a wonderful slice of who the biggest players and rookies in the game were, they also provide a window into what companies and logos were in existence at the time. Looking at them now is as much a time capsule into the retail experience of the day without even considering the baseball stuff.

The two super-generic Post cards featuring players who are distinct in the history of the game are my favorites here though. I don’t think we’ll ever see another player like either Jim Abbott or Bo Jackson.

Finishing up the oddballs. Collect-a-books are the best is a total junk kind of way. I know a lot of guys toss them now but I feel like I should get a lot and give them to my kids. I’m kind of faxinated by how they’re made too.

The McDonals Jim Abbott is tons of fun. As is the glow-in-the-dark Jeff Bagwell aard/sticker. SI for Kids is also always nice to see. I didn’t have a subscription and never collected much of those cards and I feel like I totally missed out now.

Three Canadian issues are great. I love the 85 Leaf design which replaces the Donross logo with a literal leaf. OPC on the other hand is always a nice reminder at how white card stock looks so much better than the regular grey that Topps used.

And three Panini stickers round out the stack here. These at least are card-sized though I never know exactly how to treat them.

Into the more-specific collections now. Three action-related cards, all of which are most welcome and all of which are awesome in their own ways

Two Brewers which finish my 2017 Update set. Thanks! This is the first set I’ve hand-collated and sort of celebrates my first year back in the hobby.

And a bunch of silly photos which I don’t think are supposed to hit any of my collections but which I admit are a the kind of cards that are hard to not want to keep. I miss this kind of fun on cards and I’m surprised that none of these are Fleer since this used to be Fleer’s bread and butter.

The next batch is a bunch of random oddballs and inserts. Some of these I think are intended to fit with my expansion and moves project and feature teams that no longer exist (same with the all-time greats cards). Others are a mish mash of fun stuff. A appreciate that the announcer cards are all former players and the Bull Durham and Sandlot cards are pretty enjoyable.

Most of the rest of the box was filled with Giants. A few 1980s ones including a fantastic Revco oddball, an equally awesome Circle K Orlando Cepeda, my first 1987 Leaf, Baseball Hall of Shame cards,* and a half of the Giants 1987 Opening Day lineup.

*Loved these books when I was a kid. Never knew there were cards of the events in them.

The 1990 Classic Gary Carter is peak 1990 and the 191 Donruss Rookies look really weird compared to the regular 1991 Donruss design.

Into the 1990s with three Sporting News Charles Conlon cards. I love the photography on this set. I kind of wish the set design were a little bit nicer though. I’ve not much new to say about the rest of the cards except to point out that that chrome card of the New York Giants is from a Phil Rizutto set and looks really really weird. I’m not sure who thought chrome was a good idea for old-timey photography* but it rarely looks good.

*Yes I know tintypes and daguerrotypes do actually shine when they’re new.

To the 2000s now. A few placeholder reprints for cards I’m unlikely to every acquire are nice.I kind of like that Upper Deck Playball design. That I enjoy seeing cards from the 2002 playoffs suggests that I’m finally over that loss.

The 2006 refracter Jason Schmidt is sure something. I know a lot of collectors love this kind of thing but it falls into the category of “glad I have one; not gonna search for another now” for me.

2008 Opening Day looks really weird to me with that red background. I actually like the circus ball design when they’re colored. I really don’y like it here. 2009 O-Pee-Chee is a nice-looking throwback-feeling set even when it’s got a black border variant.

The Christy Mathewson mini will look great in my page of minis. I’ve been slowly accumulating various tobacco-sized mini cards and instead of keeping them mixed in by year with the rest of the cards, I’ve been putting them together in one 20-pocket page The whole batch is a lot of fun to look at all together.

Another mini which I think will push me over the 20-card mark and onto a second page. I really like the Pablo Sandoval Venezuela card. The Matt Cain rookie reprint confused the hell out of me and is one of the worst things Topps has ever printed.

The two Panini cards are both nice. Hometown Heroes is a fun set and the Carl Hubbell Cooperstown is one of the few sets which allow kids to learn about players from the past.

The Buster Posey 1972 mini is better than it has any right to be. The 1972 design has enough going on that seems to do well with all kinds of photos. And the Madison Bumgarner Stadium Club is one of the better Bumgarner cards Topps has produced. Topps seems to love using the worst photos of him on cards and I’m not at all surprised that he’s opted out of the contract now.

I kind of like Panini Golden Age too. It’s always nice to see Jim Thorpe on a card. I love the Monte Irvin and Marco Scutaro Stadium Club cards. The three 2016 Topps Update cards almost finish my Giants team set.

Into 2017 with a Mark Melancon Stadium Club that I needed for my set build as well as a Johnny Cueto insert. I actually like the 2017 Allen & Ginter design and Willie McCovey looks great in it. I’m not so keen on the colorized Monte Irvin Archives photo but the photo itself with all those bats is wonderful. I also typically don’t like how Topps does the 1960 desig because it never fully-justifies the player name so I’m very happy that Brandon Crawford’s name is so long that Topps had no choice but to fill the entire space.

The Willie McCovey Topps Fire is nice to add as an example of the set. I’m very happy to have the Brandon Crawford National Baseball Card Day card. And I really like the 1983-designed Donruss cards.

On to 2018 with a fun gold parallel of Brandon Crawford and a bunch of Chrome, Archives, Ginter, Heritage, and Big League. Not much to say here except to note that I was tickled to see Topps had chosen the same photo for Ty Blach that I did for my GiantsNow set.

And finally more 2018s with a bunch of Gypsy Queen as well as some Panini and Donruss. I’ve already covered the weirdness in how Gypsy Queen was printed* as well as my reaction to Diamond Kings but these are some of the first regular Donruss cards I’ve gotten. I’ve never loved the 1984 design as much as others but I have to admit that it’s fun for me to see it come back like this.

*I should probably do a scan and post about this.

Moving on from the Giants. There were also a few “hits” in the box as well. The two autos from 2018 products—Víctor Arano on Topps Fire and Zack Cozart on Flagship—are the most fun. Even though they’re stickers these are at least decent signatures. The Brandon Shipley autographed relic tends a bit toward the generic with the plain black cloth, stickergraph and logoless photo not really adding up to the most cempelling card.

The other two relics fare better. The Fu-Te Ni World Baseball Classic card is a nice design with the World Baseball Classic logo really lending itself to a nice colorful card. And the Mike Lowell actually looks like it’s been used. I often chuckle at people who get excited about seeing a pinstripe or something in their swatch but I have to admit that compared to a plain-white swatch the pinstripe at least feels like it’s from a uniform.

The Buster Posey manufactured relic meanwhile is a beast of an item with a hefty slug of metal in it. I still don’t get the point of these but I’d love to see a video about how they’re made.

Deep breath.

That still was not all. Besides all the random cards in the box there was another box of cards. Nick included the complete 50-card Topps Stadium Club Charter Member set. It’a a wonderful slice of the sports zeitgeist in 1990 and 1991. While being heavily weighted toward baseball* there are football and hockey highlights and award winners as well.

*32 cards compared to 9 each for football and hockey. I guess Topps didn’t have a basketball license these years.

It’s a fun set to look through and takes me right back to being in junior high when all these players were the guys we wanted to collect and Stadium Club was the most desirable set in town. Unlike a lot of the Stadium Club baseball set, these photos have aged a bit better although Topps clearly had problems with hockey photos and getting the right color temperature.

The backs are the always-fun newspaper format. If I were to do highlights for my Giants set next season I’d very much consider aping this kind of thing. It‘s a great way to instantly trigger that date-specific feeling. These backs are also interesting in that there’s no set numbering. I chose to order the cards by date so as to best capture the sense of the sporting year.

Very very cool stuff Nick. May your dimebox searches continue to be as fruitful as they have been in the past years. And may your dad maintain his amazing midas touch in finding cardboard bargains. Thanks so much for sharing just a slice of the goodness you come across and good luck with the next seven years of blogging.

One Million Cubs

When Beau (@One Million Cubs) first appeared on Twitter just over a year ago I both thought he was crazy and that there was no way he’d stick around long enough to actually seriously make a dent in his goal. While the jury’s still out on the former, he’s already managed to hit the quarter-million mark and has a fun blog documenting his progress.

I kid, I kid. He’s been a great addition to the community. Earlier this year I made a quick 1989-Topps-style custom card template for him to use and sent him a pair of sample designs to demonstrate how to just drop an image into the template. It’s been fun to see both of them in the wild and yes I’ve totally changed how I hear his twitter name in my head now.

I figured it was time to contribute what I could to his project and sent him my meager stack of Cubs duplicates from my youth. I wasn’t expecting a ton in exchange since I didn’t expect any of my stack to be truly new cards for his collection* and even new late-80s/early-90s cards aren’t usually that exciting.

*I was quite pleased to be incorrect here.

Last week a bubble mailer arrived and inside was indeed some fun stuff. Only three old cards from last century but they’re all winners. The 1983 Donruss MVPs suggests that those early-80s Giants team had a lot more talent than they did but it’s a nice card just the same. The Leaf Special Olympics card is a very cool oddball and it’s just nice to see cards of Stretch. And the 1987 Will Clark is a duplicate but one of my favorite cards of him.

About half the package consisted of cards from 2000 to 2015 and included a lot more McCovey love. That 1963 reprint in particular looks great but the Donruss Threads card is pretty nice too. The Fleer Fall Classic card is interesting (and infuriating) in how Yankee Stadium gets treated as generic World Series decoration.

I kind of love the crazy Pacific cards more and more each time I see them They’re not something I want a set of but as an individual items they really jazz up a page. The Matty mini is great. As is the Heritage 1951 Bumgarner.

The other half of the package was all 2018 cards. Kind of wonderfully it was almost all cards from sets that I refuse to buy. Lots of Chrome. I still don’t understand the set but at least it uses different photos on some of the cards. Miguel Gomez for example here is one such case. Also Evan Longoria has a base Chrome card and a Chrome Update card and I don’t understand why.

Also a decent amount of Fire including an interesting parallel. And my first samples of Gallery and Gold Label. As always with sets like these, it’s nice to have samples to see and handle even if the sets aren’t for me. I’m not a Gold Label or Gallery guy at all. Not my thing—especially at the prices they retail for. But I enjoy having a sample and such samples make trade packages especially enjoyable.

Speaking of things I don’t buy, I think this doubled the amount of 2018 Panini I own. The Diamond Kings is a really interesting product in terms of how it’s manufactured. Optic makes even less sense to me than Chrome. Classics though is actually kind of nice. It’s good to get a Bumgarner card considering how he’s not present in any 2018 Topps releases.

Last two cards in the package go in the Stanford Album. I’m not generically expanding the album beyond baseball but I’ve been including cards as I come across them—I’ve found some random basketball cards in stacks—as well as picking up football cards of guys like Toi Cook who played baseball and whose cards explicitly mention baseball.

I’ve also been adding non-baseball-players who happen to show up in (mostly) baseball sets like Allen and Ginter and am appreciating the character the non-baseball cards add to the album. So when Beau tweeted a whole stack of Tiger Woods cards I noticed one which looked like he was still playing for Stanford and said I’d be interested. Turns out that it is indeed a card of Woods at Stanford and that’s pretty cool.

Thanks so much Beau and best of luck adding another quarter million Cubs to your collection in 2019.

A mailday for my son (and a beaut for me)

My eldest is deep in his baseball, and baseball card, obsession now. For Christmas he got three Dan Gutman Baseball Card Adventures books, a San Jose Giants Team Set, a 25th Anniversary Trenton Thunder Team Set, a 2018 Topps Factory set, and a 1991 Topps Factory set. Yes we had lots of cards and Ultra Pro pages all over our floor that day. And yes we made sure that he cleaned up all the wrapping paper first before sorting and paging everything.

The 1991 set though deserves comment because it was a special gift from his godfather. Apparently it was the one thing his godfather wanted for Christmas that year and was so special that it stayed untouched in its box on his bookshelf at his parents’ house for the past 27 years.

Or so we all thought.

Upon opening the box we found that his godfather had sorted everything by team before leaving it untouched. This was pretty cool since my son had decided that he wanted to sort this set by team as well so he could learn a bit more about baseball as it was in 1991.

And learn we did. He noticed that there were 14 American League teams and only 12 National League ones and wanted to know why. So I got to explain how interleague play was relatively new and how before 1997 you needed an even number of teams in each league so that one team wasn’t left out every day. We got to try sorting things by order finished in the divisions (this ended up being too confusing for him). Lots more to look at besides just the numbers on the backs.

Then, when I said I’d show him my favorite card in the set, we noticed that the A’s stack was kind of short. And by kind of I mean really. Where every other team had like 30 cards (something else he appreciated compared to the current offering of closer to 20 cards per team) the A’s stack had under 20. Yeah. It turned out that the complete set wasn’t complete at all.

At first we thought that his godfather had pulled out a couple pages of A’s because the A’s at that time were the team in the Bay Area. But the Giants stack was untouched and his godfather was (and is) more of a Giants guy so that killed hat theory. Then I decided to check for the Chipper Jones rookie and realized that someone had raided the set.

This both sucked and was kind of cool. Instead of just paging the set we now had a project. After going through everything we determined that my son was missing 19 cards.

A’s: Todd Burns, Jose Canseco, Jose Canseco All Star, Ozzie Canseco, Dennis Eckersley, Reggie Harris, Ron Hassey, Rickey Henderson, Rickey Henderson All Star, Carney Lansford, Tony LaRussa, Mark McGwire, Scott Sanderson, Dave Stewart, and Walt Weiss.

Others: Carlos Baerga, Bo Jackson, Chipper Jones, and Eddie Murray.

Based on the missing cards I’m guessing it got raided pretty early in the 1990s. Any time later on in the 90s and I suspect just the Chipper Jones rookie would’ve walked. And more-recently anyone who knew anything about this would’ve also known that this set isn’t really worth anything.

Anyway my son was thankfully not disappointed and dutifully left spaces open in his pages for the missing cards. And he sat with me and played the “do you remember this guy” game as well. I do indeed remember many of them. I also don’t remember a bunch of them.

I meanwhile had been keeping twitter abreast of the developments. Partly because it’s fun to see kids get into sets that are three times their age. Partly because I enjoy the forensic logic of realizing when a theft must’ve occurred. And partly because I needed somewhere to write the missing-cards lust down since I knew I’d be writing this post and searching for the missing 19 in trade eventually.

I did not expect to receive 18 of the missing 19 cards before I even got around to writing the post. But on literally the first day of school in the new year a small package from Mark Hoyle arrived and inside were all the cards my son was missing except for the Ozzie Canseco.

The Walt Weiss is as glorious in person and dutifully impressed my son. The Rickey Henderson is also great and that Dave Stewart is awesome in a way that reminds me of the 1973 Juan Marichal.

When my son got this set I told him that this was one of my favorite sets ever and that for my money it was one of the top three sets Topps has ever made.* Yes there are some printing issues. But the photo-centric design is great with the colored borders and team logotypes and the photos are mostly good and frequently wonderful.

*Also on this list. 1956 and 1965.

Just looking at the 18 cards here shows a variety of images that reminds me of how good a set can look and how enjoyable having a set that includes  all kinds of photography is. The modern fragmentation into having a portrait-oriented set (Heritage), and action-oriented set (Flagship), and an artsy-photo oriented set (Stadium Club) makes sense from a corporate point of view but it really short-changes each of the three products.

Hiding underneath all the 1991 Topps cards was a single goody for me. It takes one hell of a card and photo to upstage the 1991 Walt Weiss but this 1967 Topps Poster of Willie Mays does just that. As a 5×7 fold-out the only thing truly poster-like is the super-thin paper. But the over-size image combined with a great photo of The Kid looks fantastic and this is now one of the oldest Willie Mays items in my collection.

It’s in great shape too. Yes there’s some writing on the back. And yes it’s diamond-trimmed and off-center. But for something that feels this fragile I’d expect it to be coming apart at the folds and have wrinkles/creases everywhere.

Super cool Mark. Thanks for coming to the rescue. Thanks for the awesome Mays poster. And thanks for the great start to the New Year.

Year-end round-up

End of the year and a lull in the collecting season—well at least baseball card season—means it’s as good a time as any to look back at my projects and see how things have come in the past year. Where I did the 30-day challenge a year ago as a way of gauging how my re-entry to the hobby had come, I’ve now had a proper year of really working on projects and to see how well the hobby can hold my interest.

Giants

My initial project of Topps team sets from 1953–1993 is at a point of stability where there are no longer any truly-cheap cards left. For the 1960s and 1970s I’m only missing various Hall of Famers (especially Mays), big rookies, and high numbers. So those, when they do come, will take a while and instead I’ve moved into the 1950s and started looking for various Bowman releases.

Thanks to Adam and Artie I’ve also added a wonderful chunk of 1994–present Giants cards to the point where finishing off the Topps run there doesn’t require many more cards. Well, it needs close to 80 cards but for a two-dozen-year period that’s not that many. I’ve also started adding other team sets to this searchlist as well. Not all of the brands and things, just ones where I’m either close or which I happen to particularly like.

In the coming year I plan on focusing on the 1950s cards as those are much more enjoyable to acquire. I’ll certainly welcome newer cards in trade packages and things like that but it’s in the old stuff–especially pre-San Francisco stuff that I’m finding myself having a lot of fun.

Stanford

I’ve really turned the corner on this project. Aside from only needing eleven cards from the original project scope now—a massive update from my previous update—there is also only one player* with a Modern Major League card that I don’t have in my binder and one other player* who played in the Majors but only has minor league cards.

*Bob Kammeyer whose The Wiz Yankees card is his only MLB card.

*Steve/Mike Davis who has a couple ~1980 Syracuse Chiefs cards.

Of the eleven cards I need, there’s one “white whale” in Doug Camilli’s 1962 high-number rookie which is shared with Bob Uecker and another few semi-spendy cards. Camilli’s 1966 high number is one. As are Jim Lonborg’s 1965 rookie card as well as his 1968 and 1970 cards.

But that’s about it. The rest of my searchlist are cards that exist but which I can’t seem to find. Some of these are understandable because they come from team sets like Sam Fuld’s 2014 Rays card and John Mayberry’s 2010 Phillies card where the card in the team set does not exist in the Flagship set. Others are special editions like David McCarty’s 2004 World Champions card.

Rick Helling’s 2002 Traded card makes no sense as to why it’s so much harder to find than the various parallels. Nor does it make sense to me why Brian Sackinsky’s 1995 Topps is nowhere to be found or why Paul Zuvella’s 1986 Traded card costs a dollar.

Anyway, I’ve added cards to the searchlist which fill in holes that Topps didn’t cover. Even there I only have 16 cards missing and of those, 10 are regionally-issued oddballs that I don’t expect to come across very frequently. All of which means that aside from new releases, I’m only really looking for fewer than 30 cards now.

Sets

I’ve made a surprising amount of progress here to the point where all my set goals are in a race to completion. 1991 Donruss is missing 23 cards. 1978 Topps is missing 35. So is 1990 Fleer. 1990 Upper Deck is missing 43 cards. And 1986 Topps is missing 89.

In some ways 1978 has the best chance to complete itself since I’ll actually spend money to buy cards here. In other ways I could find a package in my mailbox tomorrow which finishes any, or all, of the junk wax sets. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens here.

Other projects

My other projects don’t really have a finish line or evolution implied in them. Which is good. I don’t want too many checklists to look after. I’m slowly picking up cards which document expansions and moves but those are more about finding things that are interesting to me. Same with the action cards and the photography cards.

I’m still grabbing Spanish-language cards if I come across them for a good price. I don’t need them all, I just love seeing the variety and am perfectly fine if they intersect with my other projects.

Same with the oddballs. I try and keep those focused to Stanford or Giants cards but sometimes something is just too cool. No checklist again—well aside from kind of sort of wanting to complete the Dennys Holograms—just following my gut and going with stuff that’s sufficiently odd.

Will I start a new project this year? I don’t know. I do know it’s nice to feel focused and have very specific things to look for and I’d like to see how this goes for a while.

GiantsNOW

They’re here! They’re here! I’ve not only finished my GiantsNOW cards set, I’ve gotten everything printed. I’m not going to go card-by-card through the set of 162 cards but I will start with selections from the various card types. These are converted from the PDFs rather than scans because good lord who has time to scan all these.

Roster Cards

Coach cards

Stats

Highlights

All Star, awards, and leaders

In Memoriam

While I finished the designs all in October, I had to wait until November and all post-season awards had been distributed before ordering them. If I’d pulled the trigger early Brandon Crawford would’ve won a Gold Glove and I’d’ve felt silly not including it. Instead I found myself having to include a memorial to Willie McCovey. Not the way I wanted to end the season but it had to be done.

Doing a set of cards for the season was a lot of work but really forced me to change how I followed the team. I’ve never been more in tune with the day-to-day roster status of all 50+ guys who spent time on the 40-man roster. Given the increased bullpen use and reliance on taxi squads, I learned a lot about how difficult the life of a replacement-level player can be and found myself increasingly sympathizing with them as I tried to find a good photo of yet another middle reliever.

I also had to develop a routine of not only checking the game results but recording the line score each day as well as composing a short summary of each game. This is a level of “what happened” that I haven’t been in tune with since I was 10 years old and baseball was the only thing that mattered.

The need to source a photo added an additional challenge. Zimbio became my friend. Local newspapers were also okay. And for the roster photos the SF Giants photo blog was wonderful. Yes I just copied these photos. But copying a photo and printing it out for my own personal use is something I’m okay with. I’m not selling these and none of the photo agencies have anything set up for the “I just want to make a print for my own personal use” market.*

*Yes I’ve looked. I’m trying to find a Scott Garrelts 8×10 photo for my personal use and the only option I’ve been able to find is paying Getty $500 for the rights to publish it.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, my set came out to exactly 162 cards. Breaking those down a bit more, I had 99 highlights (one for every win or series plus other highlights where appropriate as well as two All Star cards), 54 roster cards (48 players who appeared in a game plus 6 coaches), seven team leader cards, one Willie Mac Award winner, and one Wille McCovey memorial (RIP Stretch).

Cards are numbered beginning with the highlights in chronological order, followed by the nine post-season awards/leaders/memorial cards, then players in order of first appearance (so the first page is the opening day lineup), and finally coaches at the end.

I redesiged the backs a bit from my initial post. I’m very pleased with them now (also card back design is surprisingly hard). Fronts were a very good choice as they were very very easy to generate, I never had to touch them after the initial small tweaks (I had to bump a drop shadow over by a half point), and they kept me from ever falling behind.

The hardest thing to figure out was how to print them. I eventually settled on Magcloud—which meant that I had to submit things 9up on a letter-sized sheet. So I bled off cutting marks and made sure that everything was backed-up correctly. This was a bit more work but also allowed me to have some fun with puzzle backs.

I got everything back before Thanksgiving but it took a long time to trim.* The stock is a bit thin but not horrid—at worst Sports Illustrated for Kids quality, at best 1989 Donruss quality. They’re done now and I couldn’t be happier.

*Trimming isn’t hard it’s just time-consuming. But once you get into a rhythm it’s not too bad and the pile of trimmed cards even ends up in the correct order.

Paging everything up looks great. As exciting as the uncut sheets were to hold there’s something about handling these as cards and seeing them in pages which is completely transformative. I made these. This is my memory of the season. I’m glad my kids will each have their own set of these too.

Will I do this again next year? I’m not sure. If I do it definitely won’t be to the degree I did this year. I’ll probably do a complete roster since that will include a lot of guys who don’t get regular cards that season. Select highlights could also be fun. But 99 cards was a lot and ended up featuring a lot of the same players over and over while also featuring the same kind of highlights over and over.

I don’t need ten Brandon Crawford cards to know he was a key player this year. Nor do I need a card of every Game-Winning RBI or Quality Start. Yes I realize that this could also just be a reflection of the dearth of highlights from the Giants this season.

Anyway as the season went on I found myself increasingly selecting silly photos from events that did not go the Giants way. I’d been doing a silly card here or there all season but the way the season went off the rails in September meant that highlighting the derp was the only way to still enjoy making the cards. Yes it was fun. But it’s not a lasting fun and I’d rather be more selective about highlights moving forward.

I’m already playing with doing a tobacco-style card this time—specifically inspired by the T210 Old Mills with their black and white photos and red borders. I don’t feel like doing a lot of work to accomplish the painted look but black and white conversions are right in my wheelhouse and changing the border color to orange is a quality look.*

*Yes I am aware that orange T210s also exist.

The smaller format means I could use smaller photos as well as fewer binder pages and spend less money ordering prints. Plus I’m increasingly taken by the way that tobacco cards look all paged up in 20-pockets. So maybe a roster plus 20 highlights? That would result in a 4-page set and cost a fourth as much to produce.

Or maybe I’ll go with something business-card sized and use the late-50s, early-60s Bazooka look with its nice simple block colors and fonts as my inspiration. Business cards are a fun aspect ratio and there are plenty of print-on-demand places that specialize in business cards. Heck BCW even makes 10-pocket sheets that will fit things perfectly.

Thanks Matt for suggesting this project and thanks to Marc and Ross for also pushing me to go through with it (we’ve been a bit of a codependent group encouraging each other to stick it out)

Merry Christmas from Marc

The last mailer I received last week was yet another box of cards from Marc. Where Artie had gotten ahold of my Giants searchlist, Marc had found my setbuilding list and realized he could do significant damage to my junk wax set builds—specifically 1990 Upper Deck and 1991 Donruss.

Junk wax sets builds are really the best thing for trading. Most of us have tons of duplicates and there’s no real reason to keep them around. The hardest thing is finding someone who’s building a set since so many people already have them completed or can just buy a factory set for, at most, the same price as a wax box.* As someone who’s never built a set before though it’s great to have a list out there that people are happy to be able to contribute to and get some unneeded cards off their hands.

*Why build? For me a lot of it is finishing builds I’d started as a child. Plus the experience of getting to know a set over time rather than sitting down and sorting the entire thing all at once is very different.

With the 1990 Upper Decks Marc had almost 200 that I needed. I’m now at 751/800 on that build.

Marc also found almost 100 1991 Donruss cards that I needed. In addition to finishing off my Giants team set I’m now at 747/770 complete there.

Now it’s a race to see which I finish first between 1978 Topps, 1986 Topps, 1990 Fleer, 1990 Upper Deck, and 1991 Donruss. They’re all super close. 1978 has the advantage and disadvantage of being the only one which I’d want to purchase singles of to finish though. Yes this is more expensive but none of the other sets have any cards that are worth enough for buying singles to be worth it.* They’re too complete for buying packs to be worth it either. So there’s a very real likelihood that I’ll have those uncompleted for a long time.

*When I get down to the last couple cards though I’ll probably give up and just buy them.

Still, there’s something fun about having all the set builds hit 90% complete and that page to shrink to an extremely reasonable size.

Marc seemed to recognize that this would happen so he also included just enough 2014 Topps to take me over the 50% mark and get me to move it to my set build page. It’s still heavily Series 1 but a build is a build and it’s nice to get some of the bigger-name players out of the way.

The Pujols card in particular is especially nice and shows how nice this set looks with colored uniforms.

Of course, Marc being Marc couldn’t leave it at that. He included a bunch of assorted Giants. The Conlon McGraw is wonderful. That Select Cory Snyder photo is something else. The Metal Universe Bonds is downright sedate compared to other Metal Universe designs I’ve seen and I like having the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. And 1998 Stadium Club is kind of a clusterfuck of post-press indiscipline with three different colors of foil stamping plus embossing.

The 2018 cards are quite welcome and represent the sets I refuse to purchase. I like that Marc sends me Fire one at a time. I’m not I could handle a huge batch of them. Same thing goes with Gypsy Queen actually; one or two in a mailing is fine but a whole batch of them would give me the Photoshop disaster eyetwitches.

Chrome meanwhile is a set I still don’t like but am becoming increasingly intrigued by ever since Robby T pointed out that they’re printed wrong-reading. I’d already been looking at them sort of closely because of the opaque white ink usage but seeing that there was even more going on has me looking at them even more closely.

The best I can guess is that the cards are printed in reverse on clear plastic, then the opaque white gets printed on top of that, and finally the printed side of the plastic gets fused to the foil stock. So that cool glossy finish is the clear stock and because things are printed in reverse you don’t have to worry about now the colored ink lays down on top of the opaque white.

Marc also included these poker chips—sorry Topps Chipz—for the ever-increasing “stuff I can’t binder” collection. Buster Posey is from 2013. Madison Bumgarner is from 2015.

I honestly don’t know what to think about these. They’re actually kind of nice to handle as they have the heft and finish of proper clay chips* instead of feeling like tiddly winks. As a result I don’t really feel like putting them in 2×2s even though that’s probably the best place for them.

*Reminding me of when I was in college and getting real clay chips was actually hard back in those early days before poker was literally everywhere.

Yes there’s more. Marc continues hitting all my collecting interests with a bunch of Stanford guys including a Mark Appel die cut and a Mike Mussina Sportflics. I think my favorite is the Jack McDowell 1993 Studio with the foil-stamped signature but I did LOL at the Piscotty with the sharpied annotation as to what was “special” about it.

The Piscotty is a “missing nameplate” parallel. It’s not to be confused with the “missing black plate” parallel. When the (black ink only) name plate is missing there’s still black ink in the photo. When the black ink in the photo is missing, the name plate is still there. Yes I had to bust out the loupe to see WTF Topps was doing and it looks like the entire product is printed in two passes. The first pass uses a traditional line screen and prints the photo and all the graphics except for the GQ logo and name plate. The second pass uses a stochastic screen and prints just the GQ logo and name plate.* This second pass is what allows Topps to churn out all kinds of variants in the GQ logo and name plate.

*I went down a looking at screens rabbit hole on SABR a year ago if anyone wants to learn more about print screens.

Anyway it‘s really weird to see the mix of screens on the same printed piece and I’m not sure why Topps chose to do it this way. Or it could very well be the printer’s choice and Topps, like most people, isn’t too invested in what screening technology is used. It definitely adds to the weirdness of Ginter though. We’ve already got an old-time look coupled with modern action photography and image processing. And we’ve got an artificially aged paper looking stock which results in a different white point in the photo compared to the borders. So let’s just toss a couple different methods of printing into the mix too.

Rounding out the batch are a handful of Scott Erickson cards, a handful of action photos, and a couple Conlon St. Louis Browns.  I’ve been neglecting the Erickson PC so it’s nice to add a few more-recent ones. I think I only had Twins cards before. I continues to be amazed at the variety of the multi-exposure action cards and am surprised to see the gimmick had legs well into 1996. The 1991 Score Lenticular disc is awesome. And I have to decide of the Conlons go with the other Conlons or if I should break out a St. Louis Browns section of my binder.

Very cool stuff Marc and Merry Christmas!