Christmas cards from Mark Armour

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Mark and Happy Holidays to you too!

Christmas cards from Mark Hoyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Mark! Happy Holidays!

My first NWSL card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Box cards!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very cool stuff John. Thanks!

October Returns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mailday from Marc

Earlier this week I found the fattest PWE I’ve ever received in my mailbox. USPS’s maximum thickness where an envelope becomes a package is a quarter inch and I’m pretty sure Marc Brubaker hit that thickness right on the head. A lot of the thickness was the stiffening cardboard but it also had 23 cards inside which I think is the most I’ve ever gotten in a PWE.

It was the usual eclectic mix I expect from Marc but we’ll start off with the Giants cards. I’m very happy to get another copy of this Pablo Sandoval because it means I now have enough to give each son one of them. I don’t think they need identical stacks but a 3D card of on of their favorite players is extra cool and definitely the kind of thing that would cause some sibling friction.

The Pacific Paramount Stan Javier is a typical foiled-out Pacific design (sadly not in Spanish) with the typical 1990s problem where the foil covers the bottom half of the photo. It is however very much of its time and I appreciate that. The Joey Bart is another one that’ll go on the kids’ pile and, hopefully in a couple years they’ll be very excited to have his cards.

There was also a handful of 2021 Heritage cards. Most of these will also go in the duplicate pile for the boys although I’m not sure any of them will be excited by the Justin Smoak.* The Joey Bart card on the other hand means hat one can get the Opening Day and the other he Heritage.

*Who shouldn’t even be in the set since he was literally released by the Giants before the 2020 season ended. Topps does this kind of thing way too often though where players who have no business being in the set end up on the checklist.

The Willie Mays Award card though is one I didn’t have. I hadn’t included it as part of the Giants team set because it’s not. But it is Willie Mays and so I have no problems sliding it into the album.

On to the weirder stuff. The Scott Erickson Ultra Pro card is wild. I don’t think anyone is doing the corporate jersey thing anymore* and this one is such a generic jersey that I wonder why they even bothered. It’s not a great card but it’s weird and that’s always welcome in the binder.

*I do kind of miss the 1990s thing of creating baseball jerseys (check the Summertime video for examples) for all sports though.

The Buechele meanwhile comes from Marc’s apparently-infinite supply of stickers. There aren’t many cards of him with the Pirates though so that part’s pretty fun too.

More weirdness. I passively collect Barcelona cards. Very very passively. Love adding them to the album. Can’t be bothered to even search for them and the idea of buying them doesn’t even cross my mind. I’m not exactly sure why this is but it means that I very much appreciate each and every one that gets sent to me.

And finally, Marc, as a member of the custom card crew, included a bunch of his customs that I’ve been seeing him working on over the past year.* Is great to see these in the flesh and I’m kind of jealous because Marc has a good copyshop that he prints these at while I’ve been getting mine online at Magcloud. I have no complaints about Magcloud—it’s exactly what I expect and the quality is great—but man the paper Marc uses is so much nicer and thicker.

*The Bernie card is a fun joke which I didn’t get at first since I’m not that familiar with 1982 Fleer.

I’m especially liking the Dan-Dee inspired Dusty Baker. I’m always a fan of classic-feeling customs and the tweaks to the Dan-Dee are exactly the kind of thing I enjoy. But there’s a lot of good stuff going on in the Castro—I really want to see Marc try making the logo into a burned-in brand feel—and the Mays design is one which Mark is turning into a generic custom design for various fun photos and seeing its versatility has been awesome.

The last two cards are actually my designs. I was screwing around with creating a Ginterizer a couple years ago and sent a bunch of files to Marc ages ago since a bunch of them were of his Vintage Base Ball team. Marc went ahead and got them printed and they’re fantastic in hand. He actually ent me a couple different paper options (where not all 23 cards are depicted in this post) but the one I like best is the uncoated stock since it just feels right.

Super cool to see these in person and thanks for the PWE Marc!

Mishmash

A couple weeks ago I found a bubble mailer from Cards From the Attic in my mailbox. This is one of those mailings which took so long to arrive after he’d mentioned he was sending me something cool that I feared it had been blackholed by the USPS. But arrive it did and it did indeed have something cool inside.

I’m not sure if a Kevin Mitchell Archives Signature Series stamped and signed buyback counts as a hit or a miss for this product but it’s definitely one that Giants fans my age appreciate. Kevin was The Guy when I was a kid and I still kind of think of him that way.

These Bowman inserts were also one of the cooler things Topps made back then. They’re actually sweepstakes cards the likes of which were in most Topps products but which typically have a generic front and were trashed by most every kid.* Switching the front to a nice painting**—especially one that evokes 1952 Bowman—makes them a bonus card. Not an insert but totally worth saving. I kept all the ones from my youth.

*My youngest actually saves and binders them.

**By artist Craig Pursley.

I’m not an Archives Signature Series guy but I appreciate it when they use weird cards for their buybacks instead of boring base cards. A stamped and signed 1989 Topps card is not especially exciting. A weird oddball, boxed set, or something else that most of us don’t have dozens of makes the buyback a lot more interesting. Especially since Topps tends to repeat cards year-to-year and so all the serial numbering feels kind of stupid.

This one definitely counts as weird since even though these were disposable inserts they weren’t things that really circulated. It’s great to see Mitchell’s nice signature compared to the one I got in Philadelphia. I just need to decide now whether or not I want to bust it out of the one touch. The Archives Signature product includes the stickered holder but I’d enjoy this more in a binder with the res of my autographed cards.

True to form though, Cards from the Attic used a ton of other cards to stuff the envelope. These Giants cards aren’t technically bumper cards (those are coming later) but they also weren’t the main point of the package. They are very cool though. The boys will like the old cards (both are upgrades) and the 1980s boxed set cards are fantastic.

I do have a few of the boxed set cards but many others, such as the Limited Editions, come from sets I’ve never seen before. I have this feeling that there will always be another 1980s Fleer boxed set for me to discover.

A couple more Giants cards from the 1990s and 2000s. Osvaldo Fernandez turned out to be a need for a team set I’m semi-collecting.* I’ve not seen any of the American Pie cards before, that’s a weird sort of set though it’s printed nicely. Three more 2008 Documentary cards which demonstrate both the promise and disappointment of the set in how he fronts have nothing to do with the game they document.

*I’m passively building the run of Upper Deck team sets but haven’t gotten all my search lists online yet.

Favorite card here is the Brian Ragira which is nominally a Giants card but depicts him in his Stanford Uniform. It’s always nice to slide a new card into that album.

Wrapping up the baseball cards with the more-recent ones. The Heritage Flashbacks are always interesting to me because of the nature of what they commemorate. For Topps to print a Voting Rights Act card the year after Shelby vs. Holder is possibly one of the more political things Topps has done. At the same time it’s tempting to read the card as commemorating something that is now dead.

Other cards of interest in this pile are all the Diamond Kings since that’s a product I never purchase. They also fit the theme of the Kevin Michell autograph on an art card. I especially like the black and white Will Clark card and design.

Which brings us to the bumper cards—always sort of a highlight of a Cards from the Attic package. First off are a half-dozen 1980s Donruss sticker wax repacks. Not much to say about these except to note that they ended up being more fun unripped than ripped.

A bunch of non-sport pop culture cards. No real piles except for the Sgt Pepper cards. The Tron, Knight Rider, and Magnum PI cards are a lot of fun though in that they do a decent job at representing those shows. The Queen and Kiss cards are also pretty cool. All the repacks added to a pile of Sgt Pepper cards which is kind of a wild set about which I have no real cultural attachment. There is however a decent amount of star power in that set.

Three of these baseball-themed Baseball Freaks cards. I’m leaving these in non-sport but if I’d encountered these in my Garbage Pail Kid days I probably love them. Unfortunately I never saw these as a kid.

And finally it wouldn’t be a Cards from the Attic package without some golf. Nothing much to add to these either except to note that the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus special card is actually really nice and a great use of a black and white photo.

Very cool stuff. Thanks Attic!

Spring in September

Way back in May, Kerry over at Cards on Cards announced a spring cleaning giveaway. I mentioned that if he wanted to clear out some Giants cards I’d be happy to distribute them amongst the three Giants fans in this household.* I was expecting like a bubble mailer with maybe a hundred cards. I was not expecting the 400-count box that arrived in late September.

*They both have Giants binders that would’ve made me super jealous when I was a kid.

Alongside the box were a couple baggies of nicer cards—mostly numbered parallels or special card stock variants. These are fun but the most exciting one was this signed Logan Webb card. Webb was one of those guys who had autographs in every set last year and looked to be one of those “junk” hits that everyone complains about since they only appeal to hard core team collectors.

If Webb continues pitching like he did this season though he won’t be a junk hit much longer. I am very happy to get his card this year since he’s been such a key member of the pitching staff.

The rest of the cards I’ve sprinkled in with the cards in the box and will go through things by year. Starting off with the “old” stuff, while I have a lot of this, the kids do not. For my part, I’m surprisingly light on early 80s Donruss so the Dave Bristol and Rennie Stennets are nice additions.  I also have not seen these Classic cards before so it’s great to add samples of those sets to the binder too. Also the Jim Gott is a glossy variant of 1987 Fleer but there’s no way to see that in the photo.

Continuing into the early 1990s with more cards from my youth. The Will Clark Provisions is great and as someone who has mostly Winner versions of 1992 Gold I always enjoy adding a pack-pulled version. The Bobby Bonds All Star Hero is a great card which I didn’t have. 1993 Flair is a similar hole in my binder since I couldn’t afford a single pack of hat when I was a kid.

A bunch of those 1994 cards are new ones for me too. I was clearly stepping away from the hobby that year even before the strike and while I definitely have some of the cards in the piles, cards like the 94 Bowman Phillips, 94 Donruss Martinez, 94 Fleer Burba, and 94 Score Portugal are all ones I was still missing. I’m not actively building those sets but I should probably consider putting need lists together for them just because it’ll give people an excuse to clear out some cards.

We’ll start off the next batch with a fantastic Kirt Manwaring card. I didn’t have any 1994 Oh Pee Chee Premier before. Now I think I might have the best card in the set. The 1996 Bazooka are also new to me. I just discovered that these cards came with gum in the packs. No idea why such a discovery made me happy but it did.

The 1996 Score Stan Javier, 1996 Pinnacle Shawon Dunston, and a bunch of the 1997 Bowmans also fill empty spots in the binder. We’re well into territory I’ve only filled via random packages I’ve gotten in the mail now.

As we move out of the 1990s the number of cards that are new to me starts to grow. I need many of the Bowmans. Same with the Fleers. But stuff like all the weird Upper Deck sets here—especially that great Benito Santiago card—represent sets that I’ve never even see before. And if I have seen them, such as with the Choice Bill Mueller Preview, they’re a variant I’ve never seen.

Also that George Foster looked at first like a card I had already but it turns out that the card I sent out TTM is essentially a reprint of a reprint. Why Topps felt like it had to reprint this two years in a row is beyond me. And it’s always great to add a card of Kenny Lofton as a Giant.

Some of the special cards that Kerry included are starting to slip in now. They’re still in the penny sleeves like the Barry bonds Bazooka “stamp” here. Lots of 2006 and 2007 Topps which will slip into the boys’ collections. The Upper Decks are still things I tend to need although I remain mystified at the First Choice se which is essentially a non-foil-stamped version of the main set.

The 2005 Leaf design deserves special recognition for how simple and nice it is. I don’ think I’ve seen it before and it’s a breath of fresh air amidst all the overdesigned cards of this era.

More special cards here like the 2009 vintage stock and black parallels as well as the Chrome Matt Cain Heritage. We’re starting to move into years where I have most of the base team sets again but since these are the World Series years it’s always fun to remember some guys and see photos like the celebration on the Pat Burrell card.

As before, I needed a decent number of the Upper Deck cards here and should probably add those sets to my searchlist since many are getting close.

Into the 2010s and parallel madness is starting to take over. As someone who never chases these it’s always fun to accumulate more and discover how many different ones are out there. I can see why people like building rainbows even though the amount of work required to do so isn’t worth it.

Mini cards are always fun. I really like the Pablo Sandoval Archives card in the 1954 design. Something about the sunglasses really works.

A very similar batch to the previous photo. I like the Aramis Garcia 1st Bowman and the Ryder Jones Oklahoma parallel (no idea what it’s actually called). Those shiny Prizm cards really jazz up a binder page as do the multiple foil parallels here.

A number of cards I needed here as we work into my reengagement with the hobby. 2016 is right there on the outside of things so it’s not too surprising that I missed a lot of what was going on. Granted, that cards like that Buster Posey which is actually a Bergers Best insert with gold foil instead of silver foil are some of what I missed means that I didn’t miss much.

The Optic parallels are especially nice but my favorite card here is the Hunter Pence Stadium Club.

Into the late 2010s and my full reintegration into the hobby means that of these cards it’s mainly just the parallels and inserts that are new to me. So stuff like the Hunter Pence Five Tool insert of the Sepia Steven Duggar slide right into the binder.

The Optics and Bowman Chromes fit too since both of those are cards I don’t come across very often either.

Nice to add some Holiday cards here. I never see them in stores and they’re exactly the right kind of stupid. I’ve never seen the Buster Posey Franchise Feats card before either. I like the Ginter Cepeda and have not received much 2020 Chrome as well.

And the last batch. Stadium Club Chrome is unnecessary but at least it included guys like Samardzija who weren’t in Stadium Club. The Yastrzemski Future Heroes Chrome card is also a nice addition as is the Willie Mays Legends of Baseball. Which brings us to Diamond Kings, a set which I can’t distinguish year-to-year but always enjoy encountering since the cards so jus so damn pleasurable to handle.

Very very cool stuff Kerry. Makes my binders a lot more interesting and I’ve got a serious task ahead of me in dividing the rest up for the kids. Thanks!

September Returns

I didn’t send out a lot in the second half of August. Between visitors and trips I didn’t have the time. Which is fine. Like most things, balancing the routine while keeping it from feeling like a slog is how you keep a hobby fun. I don’t ever want to feel like I have to write or that something is taking me away from it.

It does however mean that my September returns started off a bit slow. I’m also in the midst of sending out mostly 1988 and 1989 duplicates so there are a lot of household names this month.

The first return of the month was a really fun one. I couldn’t not use this photo for a custom and Bill Lee is an all-time favorite character. These came back in 63 days, he kept one, and I only got the Earth 2021 inscription on one card.

1988 Topps are still coming in. This pair from Dan Pasqua came back in 16 days. Always fun to to the multiple teams thing especially when it’s a guy who really only played during my peak collecting years.

I played a bit of a mean trick on the boys with this return when I told them I got a Trout autograph. They got pretty excited until I told them it was Steve Trout. Anyway, while I’m working my 1989 duplicates, I was happy that I also had a Cubs card of him to send since those were his best seasons. These came back in 36 days.

A return which hits both 1988 and 1989 duplicates. Tim Birtsas played a bit for the A’s but is more notable for going to Cincinnati with Jose Rijo as Dave Parker went the other direction. His 1989 was interesting with his only MLB hit (a home run) as well as his only save (4-innings!). He signed these in 22 days.

A 51 day return from Pete Harnish brought a 1989 DOnruss dupliocate as well as my first signed 1993 Fleer. Harnish was a good, borderline great, pitcher in the early 1990s before he hurt his arm as the Astros pulled one over on the Orioles by getting him and Curt Schilling in exchange for the ghost of Glenn Davis.

I continued to work my 1989 Topps duplicates with a quick 6 day return from Paul Mirabella. I’m happy I had a 1985 to send for the multiple team coverage. I do wish I’d had a card from 1981 though since Mirabella put together a decade in the Majors.

The first Giants return of the month was Guy Sularz in 9 days. He played parts of four seasons with the Giants but only got official Major League cards in 1983, his last year as a big leaguer. His 1982 season was his best as he appeared in 63 games and hit his only major league home run.

A surprise return from Caleb Baragar improved this year’s abysmal Spring Training return percentage. Past years have been good. This year not so much. I’ve basically given up on all my requests but 214 days later this one made its way back to me. Baragar actually lead the team in wins in 2020 and has been part of the extremely-deep Giants bullpen and taxi squad this year. The silver sharpie also looks great.

Mark Lewis was only a Giant for one season but it was that magical 1997 one that brought me back to Major League Baseball. Is kind of fun that my kids get to enjoy a pennant race this year. Not quite the same due to the Wild Card but still nice to see two teams trade blows all the way through September. Lewis, as a single-season guy didn’t have many Giants cards so I just sent this one. It came back in 14 days.

Continuing on the 1997 theme is another Giant who only appeared for that team. Wilson Alvarez was a trade-deadline pickup who was supposed to bolster the starting rotation while Roberto Hernandez strengthened the bullpen. Hernandez worked out well, Alvarez less so. Still, his name reminds me of that season in a good way and it’s nice to get one of his few Giants cards signed in 15 days.

Back to 1989 duplicates with a 14 day return from Brad Moore who, interestingly, played in the majors in 1988 and 1990 but not actually 1989. But yeah pretty much anyone from those early sets is a name that rings a bell deep in my childhood memory.

Not many more customs out there now. While it scanned a little dark, this 11 day return from Ryne Sandberg came out great. I’ve been really liking the say this design looks signed and it’s fantastic to see them all together.

Van Snider only player in 19 Major League games but he showed up in the 1989 sets. I kind of love his Donruss card with the bright afternoon sunlight on the colorful Dodger Stadium seats behind him. A basic pose and image but he light is good and the colors pop. He’s a fast signer and got this back to me in only 8 days.

And that’s about it for September. October looks to be pretty light too since I’ve continued to not send out much. But there’s a decent number of old requests out there so maybe I’ll get some surprises.

August Returns

Continuing with customs and my junk wax dupes. The more customs I get back the more I’m inspired to make more of them.

First return of the month was Kent Hrbek in 34 days. Those Minnesota Twins World Series winners were pretty prominent in my early baseball fandom and Hrbek in particular is one of the players I remember most. I couldn’t help but make a card of the play where he pulled Ron Gant off the base. It’s definitely a moment that stands out to me today and I kind of love how it’s become a thing between Braves and Twins fans on Twitter.

While I was expecting a decent number of customs back, I was not expecting this 282 day return from Chad Hutchinson. I chose to make a football version of the 1978 Topps template I’m using for Stanford Alumni. This was partly because he had a longer NFL career and patly because I wanted to challenge myself to expand on the template. I did however include both his MLB and NFL stats on the back.

Another custom, this time from Padres slugger Nate Colbert in 44 days. when I was growing up, his five home runs in a double header was one of those feats that either really made an impression on me or which got mentioned an awful lot in the books I was reading. Either way, despite him being somewhat forgotten now he’s one of those guys who resonates for me.

While Tito Fuentes was one of my first TTM requests, I figured it would be fun to send him a custom. He’s one of my favorite characters and as I mentioned in my previous return from him, was the Spanish-language announcer who I listened to when I was learning Spanish as a kid.

Fuentes is a good TTM signer and sent these back in 10 days. He also sent me a great note which encapsulates why I enjoy sending customs out so much. It allows me to give a little something to the players and it’s clear that many of them appreciate the gesture. Hrbek, Hutchinson, and Colbert all kept at least one custom as well.

I’m not sure if there’s another player like Dave Parker who has so many cool portraits. I put two together on this custom and was very happy to get it back in 45 days. I hope he enjoyed the custom as well since he kept the two extras.

Ted Kubiak took part in SABR’s Burdick Award ceremony for Doug McWilliams. I sent him a quick note thanking him for his participation and he sent my card back in 22 days. Given that this card is shot at Candlestick it’s a decent bet that McWilliams took the photo.

Kubiak sent me a separate envelope with four more signed cards. I would’ve liked to have sent him an A’s card but I only had his 1968 and it was asking for a face sign. I won’t complain about getting extras as a bonus though. I much prefer having him in the binder as an A and the 3x World Series  inscription is a nice touch.

Another fun return. Yes I’ve sent to Al Hrabosky before but I wanted to try and get the “Mad Hungarian” inscription this time. I didn’t ask but I sent a much-more-obvious photo in the custom. He didn’t keep any but sent them all back in 9 days.

My first 1988 return of the month was Tim Stoddard in 15 days. He had a nice 13-year career which ended around 1988 but I wasn’t able to find any earlier cards of his in my collection (I have some in sets but I’m not pulling those out for TTM). 1988 always looks good signed though.

A quick 9 day return from Bill Landrum brought the first 1991 Studio back in a long time. These always look nice signed although they tend to scan a bit dark. Landrum played for 8 years in the National League during my peak Giants fandom. His longest stint was with the Pirates and it turns out that that’s where all my duplicates are too.

I had to make a Juan Marichal custom since none of his cards really capture his leg kick to my satisfaction. I was very happy to get this in 18 days. I’m curious how much longer he’s going to be signing too since his signature has gotten a lot shakier than it was two years ago. It’s not bad yet but thw writing is on the wall.

A 13-day return from Maury Wills brought another signature from a guy who’s probably not going to be signing much longer. As with Marichal you can kind of see where things are going. Still, Wills is one of those great players who I always forget is not in the Hall of Fame. When I was growing up during in the 1980s, the historical path which led to Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson began with Wills establishing the stolen base as a legitimate offensive weapon. It’s possibly the part of baseball I miss the most now.

I’m starting to get into my 1989 duplicates and after 16 days, Mark Parent is the first of them to return to me. I like his catchers’ pose on the 89 and it’s nice to have a different team on his Stadium Club card. For a light-hitting catcher he put together a pretty nice 13-year career.

A 32 day return from Blas Minor brought my first 93 Fleer Ultra to the collection. These cards look nice signed, I just don’t have a bunch of them. Minor has an interesting inscription too. It’s a nice-sounding bible verse* though zooming out and seeing that the context is specifically about the behavior of slaves takes some of the shine off of it.

*“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

One of my favorite returns of the month. I sent a 2010 Topps Giants Franchise History card to Renel Brooks-Moon because I realized that it would be fun to add her to the binder. She’s been the voice of he Giants for over 20 years now and is as much a part of the experience of attending a game at Pac Bell Oracle as the product on the field. I’m glad that my kids both had their first MLB experiences in San Francisco and that she’s the voice they heard and imprinted on for what a Major League game should sound like.

19 days later, I received a small manilla envelope with a San Francisco Giants return address. At first I was a bit confused and was trying to remember what I’d ordered directly from them. The I realized it was probably Renel’s return. Inside was my card but also a lot more. The 2020 Opening Day card was a fantastic addition since I think it’s the only official card she’s ever gotten. But there was also signed photo and a nice note.

The photo is ~5″×7″ and looks to be the same photo session that Topps used. It got beat up a little in the mail but it’s still great. I love the Go Giants inscription as I’m not used to getting returns from fellow fans. And it’s always nice to be thanked for the letter.

A 75 day return form Len Matuszek brought another 1988 to the collection. His 1984 is a nice add since, not only do I not have many of those (signed or otherwise), it represents his best Major League season as well sinc ethat was the year he took over after Pete Rose left the Phillies.

An 11 day return from Steve Rosenberg on another 1989 duplicate. While I’ve started sending these out, I haven’t gotten as far into them as I expected to. It’s another nice and simple design that takes a signature well and I’m looking forward to increasing my variety even with guys like Rosenberg who only played a couple years at the peak of my card collecting youth.

The last return of he month was an 11 day return from Andre Dawson on a custom. Finishing me off where I started with my seventh 1956ish (or as someone on Twitter pointed out, also 1960ish) custom of the month. These all look great and Dawson’s signature on this one is especially nice.

Next month looks to be light since I’ve not sent out much in August. Maybe once the kids go back to school I’ll get some more out. Fingers crossed that there’s no COVID complications as school gets roaring back into session.