Category Archives: Giants

First TTM roundup

A post as promised when I wrote about getting into TTM requests. I’ve now received all the envelopes that have been accumulating at my parents’ house.* Did I say over a dozen before? Turns out it was closer to 30.

*Yup. I’m over 40 and my parents’ address is still the closest thing to a permanent address that I have.

Yeah. I’m a firm believer in the “fill up the hopper” approach for this kind of thing. Send a ton out early and then take things easy and not worry about sending out as many later. I expected returns to trickle in bit by bit—taking two or three weeks at best—so having a good batch of returns I was waiting for made a ton of sense.

I was not expecting so many returns to take between one and two weeks instead. That’s been a super-pleasant surprise and meant that I perhaps front-loaded my letters a bit.* Anyway aside from a second Neshek return I’ve been getting everything sent to my parents’, tempering my excitement, and biding my time until my sister brought everything over.

*Although trying to get everything to Spring Training sort of forced my hand.

This is going to be a big post so I’ve broken it up into three different sections that cover the main categories of people I’m sending to.

Stanford

I sent a bunch of request to Stanford players. Guys who pre-dated my autograph-hunting years. Guys who came after. And in the case of Ryan Turner, guys who I watched play during those peak autograph-hunting years.

Ryno was the first return I got back. Only 7 days too. I was very surprised. I mentioned him a bit in my Mussina post but he’s noteworthy for being the first player in the Colorado Rockies organization and his 1992 Bowman and Upper Deck cards are the first Rockies cards produced.

Jeremy Guthrie took 10 days to get two cards back to me. As a player who’s about the same age as me, Guthrie is exactly the kind of player who I would’ve felt super uncomfortable getting a signature from back in the day. This isn’t a bad thing or a regret, just an observation.

I like that Guthrie changes his uniform number to match the team he’s playing for. Some guys use their current number. Others stop doing that after they make it to the majors.

Bruce Robinson’s 8 day return shows the promise and fun of TTM requests. I sent him one card. He sent me back five signatures. My card, the signed index card I use as a bit of stiffener in the envelope, and two signed and personalized business cards are pretty cool but he also wrote me a very nice letter in response.

I guess it shows how much I enjoyed writing the letter to him. Robinson gets credited for modifying the catcher’s chest protector to have a hinged protective flap on the throwing shoulder. It’s even called the Robby Pad. I mentioned how, as a Product Design guy, just seeing the ubiquity of that invention in today’s game must be pretty satisfying.

It looks like I need to check out brucerobinsonmusic.com and write him back now. Kind of surprised that I’m the first Stanford collector out there too. But I guess it’s nice to have such a solid collecting niche too.

Jim Lonborg was another fast return in only 8 days. As the 1967 Cy Young Award winner he was arguably the most-prominent Stanford player in terms of winning awards until Jack McDowell won the Cy Young in 1993.

Lonborg represents my first custom return too. I whipped up a “1949 Bowman plus 1954 Topps” custom of him for Mark Hoyle since Mark has so much stuff that he’s impossible for someone like me to send anything to. The thing about using the 1954 Topps template though us that it sort of needs a signature to really sing so I figured I’d try and get one signed. He kept a couple copies, returned one, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Chuck Essegian’s card also came back in 8 days. He’s the last of the guys who started playing in the 1950s but I chose to leave him for whenever I did a summary of 1960s Stanford players.

Essegian is most famous for hitting two pinch hit home runs in the 1959 World Series—there’s even a cool 1970 Laughlin card of this—but he bounced around playing for 6 different teams (Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles, A’s, and Indians) over 6 years of cards.

Doug Camilli is another 1960s guy. His card came back in 8 days as well. I went with 1965 Topps because it’s one of my favorite sets. He was mainly a backup catcher but did get to catch one of Sandy Koufax’s no hitters so that’s pretty cool.

Camilli is tough since many of his cards are high numbers. His 1962 high number rookie I’m never going to get. His 1966 high number is as crazy as the rest of the 1966 high numbers. Thankfully I found a deal on his 1967 high number.

Bob Gallagher sent back my card and a nice note in 10 days. when sending these letter I sort of wrestled whether to out myself as an alumnus but eventually settled on it making the connection to my project even better.

Gallagher had a short career—only 2 Topps cards, one with Houston and one with New York—so I chose his 1974 card since I’ve never liked getting cards with facsimile signatures signed. I should probably track down his SSPC card as well since that one will probably look best signed.

Don Rose signed his only card in 11 days. Rose is one of the Stanford guys who intersects with my Giants fandom. Unfortunately he never got a Giants card.

Darrell Sutherland signed my 1966 Topps card in 14 days. Sutherland, as with Rose, had a pretty short career so I’m glad that he got a couple of cards out of it. His 1968 is one of those hatless awkward crops so I’m happy the 1966 is such a traditional pitchers’ pose.

Drew Jackson was my first Spring Training return coming back in only 11 days. He’s been bumping around in the Mariners organization for a few years but the Orioles picked him up as a Rule 5 draftee last winter so he’s on a Major League roster now. It’s fun to write a “congrats on making the show” letter and these Bowman designs look pretty nice signed.

Frank Duffy had a nice long career in the 1970s. His 1976 card came back in 18 days with a fun “Go Cardinal” inscription added. I had a lot of card choices here but 1976 is a design I’ve always liked to get signed.

Duffy is also one of those guys who played for the Giants but never got a card.

Jed Lowrie has signed on and off so I didn’t know what to expect when I sent to him. These two came back from Mets Spring Training in 18 days complete with the inscription. Getting A’s and Astros is wholly appropriate since he’s bounced between those two franchises a lot. He’s yet to show up on ay Topps checklists this year so it’ll be interesting to see what product he finally shows up in with the Mets.

This has been fun enough that between the Alumni Game post and Sunken Diamond post I’ve put together a page of all the Stanford Autographs I have now.

Former Giants

I figured I should go through my Giants duplicates to see who was worth sending out. It’s been a fun exercise of letting my duplicates guide me into doing some research and learning about players who I never got to see play.

Joe Amalfitano came back in 10 days. As one of the last New York Giants Amalfitano’s a fun addition. That he’s also a baseball lifer who’s not only still working in the game and actually working with the Giants is an added bonus.

This is the big return that makes everything else worth it. Juan Marichal took only 10 days. When I was a kid Marichal was on the “don’t even think about mailing to him” list so seeing him turn into a reliable signer is pretty cool. I kind of wanted to send a 1974 Topps or 1972 In Action card since the leg kick is so iconic but I eventually went with the extra 1965 I got from Dimebox Nick.

I’m still amazed that I have duplicate 1960s cards let alone duplicate Hall of Famer cards. 1965 is a beaut of a set and never ever a bad choice for signatures.

Bob Bolin also came back in 10 days. When you think of the 1960s Giants pitching you think of Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal or Mike McCormick but in 1968 only Bob Gibson had a better ERA than Bob Bolin in the National League.

Tito Fuentes came back in 8 days and included a nice index card. I’ve always liked Tito’s signature with the star dotting the I plus the nice baseball tail. It reminds me of how my son signs his name right now in all the best ways. Plus he’s one of those players who everyone likes.

He was the Giants’ Spanish-language announcer on KLOK when I was a kid and while I didn’t listen to every game in Spanish we’d turn it on on occasion and try and listen to the game. Sports is a good way to help learn the language.

I had his signature on a ball but I always intended to get him on a card. I’m glad I had a 1970 card handy instead of the 1975 I had acquired for this purpose 25 years ago.

Ken MacKenzie was another fast 8 day turnaround. While he played for the Giants he’s much better-known as an original Met who Casey Stengel immortalized as the “lowest paid member of the class of Yale ’56.”

Hobie Landrith took 9 days. He’s most famous for being THE original Met as he was their first selected player in the expansion draft.* Landrith also caught Juan Marichal’s first game so it’s nice to get the pair of them in this first batch.

*This is in comparison to Ryan Turner being the Rockies first player taken in the amateur draft rather than the subsequent expansion draft.

The 1978 Rob Andrews came back in 11 days. This card is a family favorite. Since it was double-printed I come across it a lot. As a result it’s become both boys’ oldest Giants card and they really enjoy having it in their collection.

And I got the Jack Hiatt that Night Owl sent me back in 11 days. Hiatt was the Giants back-up catcher for a number of years but had a great stretch in the first half of 1969 while Dick Dietz was injured. It’s nice that this card includes that stretch in its stats.

2018 Giants

A huge batch of the requests I sent out were packages including my customs from last season. I would call this “current Giants” but I sent to, and got returns from, guys who are no longer with the team as well. Most of these requests included a Topps card or two plus a stack of customs with a request to sign one and keep the rest.


The first return here was a big surprise. Dereck Rodríguez sent four cards back in only 10 days. As the sort of breakout rookie last season I had him pegged as a long shot of a return but he appears to, so-far, be a great signer.

I especially like the two customs he signed. As one of the breakout stars of last season I sent him a bunch. I’m especially happy with the one of him batting but there’s also something nice about a classic horizontal pitching action photo.

Will Smith also signed in 10 days. This is a great return. I love the way the Heritage card looks signed. So happy Topps stopped using the Giants in black Spring Training uniforms. I’m pretty sure the 2019 card is not of him but he signed it anyway and the custom of his roster card looks great.

Smith also signed both Wille Mac Award cards. Not sure why but this is appreciated nonetheless even though the black ink doesn’t show up well. It occurs to me that a Willie Mac Award Winner project could be an especially fun one for a Giants fan to embark on. I already have a few: Brenly, Krukow, Uribe, Bedrosian, and Manwaring from my youth and Speier, Dravecky and Pence as gifts from the wonderful members of Card Twitter.

And finally, Smith signed the silly Skybox-Basketball-style cards I made of the players in their ugly sweatshirts. As soon as I saw that post I thought there had to be something I could do with them. When I saw those 1990s Skybox designs I figured I should give it a shot and make a run at those 1990s colors and gradients. I didn’t really expect to get these signed but they were too much fun not to send off.

Ray Black signed his sort-of-disturbing 2019 Rookie card in 14 days. I had sent him an extra for him to keep but he signed both.

Black kept his ugly sweatshirt cards as well as the ones commemorating his relief no-hitter (9+ innings of no-hit relief work) last season and sent me back his signed roster card. I very much appreciate that he changed pens and used a silver sharpie on this custom. It’s a sharp look for the dark background and shows that he’s a very sensitive signer.

Sam Dyson signed his 2018 card in 14 days. Dyson made the most pitching appearances last year and was an integral part of the Giants bullpen. Unfortunately this also meant that he rarely showed up in any highlight situations since he just racked up holds and neither finished games nor was on the mound when the wheels fell off.

Dyson signed both of his roster cards but he did keep his ugly sweatshirt cards. I hope that, as with Black, this means he liked them instead of just tossing them.

Reyes Moronta signed everything I sent him in 16 days. I’d sent him an extra rookie card since I’ve heard that Topps doesn’t provide them to the players but he sent both back. I probably should’ve written to him in Spanish.

He also kept none of the customs. It’s cool to have doubles but I also feel guilty getting this many cards back. I don’t want to be one of those guys who contributes to the burnout that players end up feeling for TTM signing by sending too many in a request.

I was excited to get an Abiatal Avelino return in 16 days. My eldest’s first reaction to the Andrew McCutchen trade was to ask if the Giants got any guys we’d seen at Trenton.* He was excited to learn that Avelino was part of the trade and even more excited when Avelino got called up in September.

*I was extremely impressed at the maturity and baseball purity of this response.

It’s things like that that help prevent my son from converting to being a Yankees fan like so many other local kids. Trenton is a great Minor League experience and seeing players like Aaron Judge, Miguel Andujar, and Gleyber Torres make a splash in the Majors only a year or two after we watched them is pretty exciting. Realizing that they might not make the majors as Yankees and instead appreciating them wherever they end up—including the Giants—is a much less dangerous mindset for the kids.

Avelino also signed his sweatshirt card! This is just too cool and I can tell he thought about where best to put his signature.

Chase d’Arnaud is tied at 7 days for my fastest return.* He seems like a super-nice guy since he’s already responded to and reacted to my tweet thanking him. I especially love the position player pitching card.**

*Ryan Turner and Pat Neshek are also 7-day turns. Given the way USPS works I’m not sure anything shorter is even possible. 

** I also sent one to Pablo Sandoval but I don’t expect that to come back.

Gorkys Hernández sent a great return in 14 days. He was another breakout player last year whatwith being one of the team leaders in Home Runs. I understand why we let him go but I’ll miss him just the same. I’m happy to have him in the album.

He signed one each of all the customs. I really like the variations in the photos here and he’s got a nice-looking signature too.

My last return was also my longest so far. Chris Stratton in 32 days coming in much closer to the way I expected things to turn out. He kept all the customs I sent him—kind of flattering actually—but it’s nice to have the signed Topps card. Stratton’s final stat line didn’t look that great but he pitched the best game of 2018 and really held the staff together at times in the season.

When I received this card Stratton was still a Giant. He’s since been traded to the Angels and while I understand why he went (no more minor league options) I’m a bit sad to see him go.

And whew. Almost 3000 words. I didn’t expect this many returns at all but what a wonderful “problem” to have. What a great start to this whole TTM thing. Pretty sure things are going to calm down a bit moving forward but we’ll see where things go. I’m looking forward to sending a few more letters out here and there as things come back.

It pays to be nice

A post from the department of how I try to contribute to the trading card community even though my trade bait is basically non-existent. A couple months ago Cards From the Attic was running one of his sales but when I clicked through to his link his site was gone. So I sent him a message on Twitter and a couple of us took turns doing some troubleshooting. Different browsers. Different computers. Private mode or not. All those basic tests that you have to run because the support representative will ask them.

Anyway I helped out because it was the right thing to do. Computer issues stink and seeing them pop up when trying to run a sale is especially poor timing. Attic said he’d send everyone who helped out  a prize pack sometime. I ❤️’d the tweet but didn’t give it a second thought.

I try and help people out the ways I can. I can’t always do it with cards and that’s just fine. I’ve been the recipient of a ton of generosity from people on Card Twitter; whatever I can contribute back into the community I can. Rather than treating trades as individual exchanges I keep my general trade balance in mind. And with that in mind I’m running a serious deficit.

I don’t often partake in Attic’s sales. I’m too much a cheapskate so I like to wait until there are enough cheap cards to reach the $20 free shipping level. But I always watch just in case and keep my fingers crossed that some of the cards I might want don’t get snatched up so that I can make an offer on a batch.

One such card was a 1952 Topps Hank Thompson with extremely-rounded corners. I’d been tempted to claim it a number of times but held off since I couldn’t reach the free shipping level. When Attic teased last Wednesday’s sale as featuring bunch of 1952 and 1953 Topps, I mentioned that if that Thompson was in the batch I might finally pull the trigger.

I meant what I said but instead Attic said he’d grab it and a couple other beat-up 1952 Giants and send it to me as the thank-you prize pack that he’d promised earlier. Said prize pack arrived late last week and the Thompson is plenty nice despite the 67 years of wear and tear.

I’ve developed a soft spot for Thompson because he’s sort of the forgotten Giants pioneer. He’s overshadowed by both Monte Irvin and Willie Mays but deserves to be remembered on his own as both an underrated ballplayer and the only guy to integrate two teams.

Another card in the batch was this Larry Jansen. I’ve become accustomed to seeing this card in the card sales as well. There’s a copy with a back that’s pretty much destroyed due to the card having been pasted into an album at some point 60 years ago. I never claimed it because paper loss is somewhat of a dealbreaker for me.*

*For whatever reason the Thompson and Jansen never showed up in the same sales too.

While I thought I was getting the destroyed back Janson, much to my pleasure this one is in decent shape and completely readable. Yes the front is pretty rough with destroyed corners but you can see the goofy grin and 7-finger pose.*

*Googling suggests he’s holding up one finger for each of his kids. He’d eventually have 10.

Jansen is an interesting guy too. A gritty and cool ace of a pitcher who won the Shot Heard Round the World game, his rapid decline after 1951 meant that his name wasn’t one that I ever really learned as a young Giants fan.

The last card of the batch was Jansen’s catcher Wes Westrum. Generally better shape than the other cards but yeah there’s a bit of a bite taken out of the corner. Still a decent representative of the 1952 set though

Despite his importance to the pennant-winning Giants teams, I was only familiar with him as a coach and manager. He managed the Giants in the 1970s and the Mets in the 1960s and for whatever reason those kind of things stuck in my brain more.

It’s possible that in many ways my Giants history only really got started with 1958 when they moved to San Francisco. Yes I know about the legends of some of the New York star players but the other guys? No real clue. Which is kind of too bad.

One of the unexpected benefits of moving my collecting into focusing on New York Giants cards this year is that I get an excuse to read about the guys like Jansen and Westrum and learn about Giants history which I didn’t learn as a kid. It’s been a lot of fun so far and the fact that I can only pick up a couple cards at a time makes it easy to just pull up a bio.

What I did expect was to be thrilled just getting cards of the New York Giants. I never even dreamed of getting any of these in-hand when I was a kid so I get a bit giddy just handling them. Getting three in a prize pack? Mind blown.

Every Last Homie

When Robby T recently sent me a bunch of Giants cards, Steve (@cardboardjones) got the corresponding batch of Mariners cards. I joked on Twitter that I was missing only five OPCs and that he probably had three of them because they looked like Mariners cards.

It turned out that I was right. However, Steve, while he definitely blogs about Mariners cards, was not looking to complete that team set so he generously offered to PWE me the three “Now with Giants” cards.

Late last week the three cards showed up in my mailbox. They look out of place with the rest of the Giants cards but I like it this way since it suggests the logical extension of my current team set collecting project.

I’ve currently been collecting Giants team sets and paging them alphabetically by last name. It’s a perfectly fine way of capturing the roster but I’m planning on changing things up so each year depicts the Giants lineup. One page of the typical starters (plus manager or team card), another of the pitchers, and then the rest are substitutes.

When I start doing this I know I’m going to end up wanting to acquire the cards of guys who are missing (starters at least) even though they’re not depicted with the Giants that season. That’s going to result with a few random non-Giants cards on the pages—very much like these OPC pages look now.

Thanks Steve! Only two cards left now.

On getting into TTM requests…

When I was a kid, through the mail (TTM) autograph requests were one of those things that intrigued me but which I never really pursued with any real intensity. I had some friends who were pretty successful and I remember being kind of jealous of their success. But I was also having a lot of fun with in-person hunting at San José, Stanford, and Scottsdale* and was a staunch believer of the experience of meeting the players and connecting the autographs to my memories.

*Yes I’ll eventually scan and write posts for Stanford and Scottsdale.

I did still send out a few. That I probably chose my subjects poorly by focusing on stars meant I didn’t have much success. The only card of mine that I got back signed was this Willie McGee. I don’t remember much about it now aside from being happy to get it. Definitely not the kind of thing I could pin a memory to.

I also received this postcard from Nolan Ryan. This confirms what kind of players I was sending to. Early 1990s Nolan Ryan was the biggest non-Rookie player in the hobby. By. Far. So for me to be sending him a TTM request was insanely optimistic thinking on my part. I remember being disappointed in the return because I suspected it was an autopen.

Thinking about it now, if Ryan were going to autopen TTM responses he’d’ve been better off autopenning everyone’s cards. So I’m more inclined to believe it’s real now. Also it’s been kind of fun to discuss these early requests on Card Twitter and find that I was not the only person my age with such a postcard.

Anyway, after dabbling in TTMs I concluded that writing letters to players would never match the in-person experience. Given that that was my mindset, I was probably correct to stop doing it.

My mind has changed this year. This is partly because it’s been great fun to see other people sending letters and getting responses. But the big change was making my Giants set and realizing that sending copies of the cards to the various players was something I wanted to do. The letter doesn’t just have to be a polite “please sign my card,” it can be about the player and my project and include things for the player to keep.

Instead of fixating on getting things, I can just enjoy writing and sending out cards. And if things come back? Even more fun!

A couple weeks ago my son caught me finishing up some mailings and was curious what I was up to. So I told him about how TTMs work and asked if he wanted to try writing some letters himself. He has the bug so he was into it. Which is a good thing since if he learns about writing letters and what kind of power he has—especially as a kid—with regard to writing letters to people and companies*

*I’ve been trying to get him to write to Trader Joes about all the palm oil they use in their products. Palm oil is one of the things he’s learned is bad so we’re avoiding it as much as we can. Unfortunately this has meant dropping some of his favorite foods and he doesn’t realize what could happen if he wrote to them about it.

I wanted his first request to be something that would encourage him to write more. So I figured that sending to Pat Neshek would be the best bet. Neshek is a fellow collector who’s hit the dream scenario of being able to collect cards and autographs from his fellow ballplayers. He’s also deeply supportive of kids getting into the hobby and, as a parent, I deeply admire him for that.

My son of course knew exactly who Neshek was and which cards he owned.* I cautioned him about sending cards he’d really miss if they got lost so he picked a 2017 Update card rather than risking a card from his 2017 complete set getting lost in the mail. Then he sat down to write his letter.

*I miss having a photographic memory of ALL my baseball cards.

I almost didn’t want to mail this. The note is cute enough. The drawing though is all kinds of wonderful. It must be fun to be famous enough to get fan mail like this from kids.

I also wrote a letter thanking Neshek for being so supportive of kids in the hobby. Then I showed my son how a self-addessed stamped envelope (SASE) works and how to rub a card with a dryer sheet in order to prepare the gloss coating for taking an autograph well. He then addressed the envelope and we dropped it in the mail.

Despite my cautions that this would take at least two weeks to come back my son was counting the days. He wasn’t bugging me if anything had come in the mail but it was definitely something in the back of his mind. It only took 10 days for the SASE to return.

No good photos of him opening the envelope because he tore into it faster than he opens Christmas presents. But this smile speaks for itself.* One very happy boy and one brand new lifelong Pat Neshek fan. We may have to make the trek down 95 to Philly to see a game now.

*This was also exactly why I didn’t want to break out the Hunter Pence cards from Marc before the return arrived.

The card is in a penny sleeve in his main binder for now. I suspect that sleeve will see lots of action as the card gets shown to anyone (and everyone) who visits us for the next couple months.

It’s actually a great choice of card for a signature too. An All-Star card is always a nice thing to commemorate with a signature and this is a a decent action shot showing how his sidearm works.

Also this is just a ton of fun to compare to the drawing in the TTM request. I love how the beard and glove turned out and I’m glad I had the foresight to snap a photo of the letter before we mailed it.

Oh, and yes I also included a card of my own. The only one I had but I wanted my own memento to share this with my son. It’s not the first TTM return I’ve gotten since I started doing this but it’s the first I’ve opened*—or well seen opened by someone in the same room as me.

*I have over a dozen at my parents’ which need to be muled over to my place at some point.** The nature of TTM is that permanent addresses need to be used except for cases like Neshek where you’re certain a return will come back within a month.

**Yes this will also be a blog post once that first batch gets delivered.

I may send another letter to Neshek later this season since his 2019 Heritage card is perfect but no matter what happens it won’t be as cool as this mailing. And if my son is a fan for life, I’m not far behind.

Change of Address

Holy moly. When it rains it pours. Four mailday posts in a row now reflecting four different days of mail over a week.
Something about that fourth mailday kicks things up a notch. Maybe we’re all feeling that beginning-of-the season excitement. Games are finally occurring. Packs of Series 1 are in the store. Time to start firing up the trades and getting unneeded cards off of our desks.

Mailday number four came from Peter who distributes most of his first packs to various team collectors. In this case, since he has recently moved, this small mailday also served as a way of updating my address book so I can send him the extra 1995 Fleer Darryl Strawberry that Robby just sent me.*

*I kid. I’ve already sent Peter a 1995 Strawberry and at least that one was tempered by being part of a batch of a bunch of 1995 Strawberrys from multiple brands.

Peter’s packs yielded two Giants who are polar opposites. Crawford is the resident All Star who fans love. Strickland… Oof. Pretty sure fans were happy to see him go. He was fine but always felt like a liability Did I need these two cards? Not really. For the price of a retail hanger pack I decided my money was better spent entering a half-case break which netted three team sets—enough for me and both boys to enjoy.

But having such a small mailing means I can actually write a bit more about the 2019 design here. I’m not a big fan. Backs are great with full stats making a triumphant return. Fronts have a bit too much going on for my taste with transparency effects and half-borders and drop shadows photoshopped onto the players so that the backgrounds look more like backdrops that have been dropped in after the fact.

I appreciate that the photography appears to be zoomed out a bit compared to previous years but things are still being cropped so that players’ feet disappear. This isn’t a huge problem on these cards but in 2018 Topps had a ton of Shortstop and Second Baseman cards featuring plays at second where the interesting part of the play was being covered by the design elements. Seeing the base and the ground is hugely important to a lot of these photos and Topps doesn’t seem to be allowing for that.

Another thing that jumped out to a weirdo like me is that this is the first set in at least a decade to be printed using a traditional line screen.* The big bold grey last name is a single black screen** and I didn’t even need a loupe to see the halftone. This suggests that Topps changed its production this year and I’m now curious if other sets will follow suit.***

*I only went back to 2009 and aside from the weirdness where 2010 Update is printed traditionally and 2010 Flagship is printed with a stochastic screen I didn’t find anything printed traditionally.

**Note, the darker greys on the backs are 4-color mixes but the light grey is single black.

***I’m going to hit that grey border in the 1970 design with my loupe as soon as I get my hands on some Heritage.

Anyway, I haven’t mentioned that Marichal insert yet. Peter will be pleased that I didn’t have it. I’m not big on insert sets but they’re definitely great ways to pad mailings. I’m very happy to put Giants inserts in my binder and I’m just as happy to get non-Giants inserts out my door to someone who will appreciate them.

Thanks Peter! It’s not Spring yet but it sure feels like it’s coming.

Happy New Year from Night Owl

A surprise PWE from Greg/@nightowlcards to ring in the beginning of Spring Training—or as we call it in baseball land, the New Year. Definitely well timed. Last weekend I walked past the ballpark on campus and heard the team taking batting practice. That ping of aluminum on leather is supposed to be anathema to everything I believe in in the sport but wow, it reaches deep into my soul and makes my heart believe it’s spring.

Then I took my eldest to his Little League evaluations and came home to find that KNBR was streaming the radio broadcast of the first Giants Spring Training game (unfortunately the Giants picked up where they left off last season). The sound of summer filled the house and it didn’t matter that it was freezing outside.

 

To the cards. Really just a random assortment of Giants that Greg, as a Dodgers fan, wanted out of his house as quickly as possible. The 1970 Jack Hiatt gets me in the mood for 2019 Heritage although I doubt we’ll see any photos that have this busy of a background this year.

The 1981 TCMA Jose Pagan is part of a set commemorating the 1962 Giants. It’s a nice clean design—better than a lot of TCMA’s 80s offerings and makes the most of its black and white photo with just a splash of color in the team-colored border. I need to remember that this kind of thing works so well.

It took me a moment to realize that that 2018 Buster Posey was not a base card. I didn’t notice the non-foil logo at first and if my son hadn’t pulled a National League Team Set card out of a repack last week I would never have even thought to double check it. Yup. Looks like Greg pulled a National League card out of a repack as well. Into the binder it goes instead of the dupe box.

Fourth card in the envelope was a certified autograph of Brian Buscher from 2003 Upper Deck Prospects. Yet another Fairfield repack quality autograph, this time a guy who played for three seasons with the Twins but who I did probably see play at San José in 2003. If only the prospect signatures I got at San José actually panned out as well as he did.

Very fun Greg. Opening Day is a month away!

Who’s down with OPC

Last Friday I found a surprise mailday from Robby T in my mailbox. When I opened it up it looks like he broke up a couple near-complete sets and sent them out to various Card Twitter team collectors.

The first thing showing was a bunch of 1995 Fleer. This is not a set many people like. I kind of appreciate the garish awfulness of this peak-90s design where every division has its own template but woof. This is not pleasing to look at.

The good news here is that this batch completes my team set for 1995 Fleer so I don’t have to feel like I ever want more of it. I’d give the duplicates to my kids but I feel like someone might call CPS on me.

Underneath all the 95 Fleer though was this stack of beauties. I prefer 1991 Topps but the 1992 design is pretty nice too. Good photos with a design that frames everything nicely while staying out of the way.

These are O-Pee-Chees (OPC) though which make the stack even cooler. I only encountered a handful of Canadian cards when I was a kid so seeing all of these is a bit beyond my comprehension. There’s also something I really like about the OPC logo and the way it’s nowhere near as bold as the Topps logo. These just look better to my eye. This is the highlight of he mailing.

My favorite part of the OPCs though are how they serve as a bridge between the base Topps set and Topps Traded. Kevin Mitchell and Don Robinson are technically not Giants cards. Mitchell is marked as “Now with Mariners” and Robinson, “Now with Angels.” Meanwhile Dave Burba, Mike Jackson, and Bill Swift all look like Mariners cards but are marked as “Now with Giants.” Those three cards are part of the five I’m missing from the 1992 OPC team set now.

Finally, a bunch of modern cards. One Lincecum insert from I don’t know what product but with a photo that is so good I really don’t care. A half dozen Big League cards which I divided up with the boys since we all need different ones for our Giants sets. And eight Donruss cards which allowed me to complete my team set as well as provide the boys with their first Bumgarner cards for 2018.

They both keyed in on the logolessness and once I pointed out how nowhere on the cards does it say “Giants” either I had to explain how exclusive licensing agreements work and why only Topps is allowed to make cards with logos now. I think they understand what’s going on. I also think that, like the rest of us, they find the situation to be incredibly stupid.

Oh well, enough legal sidetracking. Thanks for the mailing Robby!