Category Archives: Giants

Mailday from Shane

Despite the previous massive mailday, somehow Shane was able to surprise me with another massive batch of Giants cards. While obviously not as much fun as the previous mailing (that one took me months to sort through and figure out what everything was) there’s a lot of good stuff in here too.

A few 1980s–1990s cards from when I was collecting. The Topps UK Minis are especially fun. I’d not seen them before this year but have gradually acquired a number of them now through maildays. Pretty sure I’ve never seen that Fleer Exciting Stars card before either.

The rest of the Score, Upper Deck, and Leaf cards remind me of my collecting heyday. I might have them in a box at my parents’. I might not. (I’ve long lost my memory of all the cards I owned.) But these are the cards—and the players—I grew up with so it’s always a blast to see them again.

One of my growing collecting interests are cards which aren’t in English. O Pee Chee is pretty standard and for most of my youth was just a Canadian-branded version of Topps. It was cool enough that it was in white card stock instead of grey. And the bilingual French/English backs (also with Leaf in the 1980s before Donruss relaunched it as a premium brand in 1990) were pretty cool. O Pee Chee Premier followed the flagship/premium break that occurred in trading cards ~1990 and is the first time I saw non-Topps O Pee Chee cards.

I only recently discovered that Pacific’s MLB license was initially only for Spanish-language cards and that even after they started making English-language cards their Crown line was Spanish-only. Despite the Bay Area being a pretty significant Spanish-speaking market, I never saw these when they came out in 1993/1994. I’ve been semi-seeking them out now (I have a handful of giants from 1993/94) so having a 1997 Bonds is very cool.

On to late-1990s cards that represent a grab bag of different things that card companies were doing as they tried to figure out the post-strike landscape. We’ve got reprints. We’ve got retro-inspried designs. We’ve got budget versions of premium brands as a response to the regular brands creating premium releases. I continue to look at checklists from this era and be confused.

And Shane sent me a ton of Topps flagship starting with 2000. This is great since I don’t have any coverage from these years and while getting sets is out of the question, having Giants is a good way to stay on top of things. 2000 is notable for being the first year at Pac Bell Park so these cards represent some of the last images of Candlestick as a baseball venue.

Also. Yes. That’s a Robb Nen autograph. I need to ask Shane about the backstory here but that’s definitely the highlight of the mailday. I never took to Nen the way I took to Rod Beck but after what he did, and gave, to the team in 2002 I think all Giants fans respect him.

2001 Topps means many of these are the first photos from Pac Bell. The Robb Nen card here is the most-distinct of the ones I received in that it shows triples alley. Also, While I’ve tended to side-eye a lot of Topps’s 1990s–2000s designs, this one is growing on me. As individualy cards the green/grey border feels wreid. But seeing them all together like this and that color provides a nice page background for the photos.

I’m not a fan of the 2002 design though. If the dark green has a certain class to it, this orange/brown is an eyesore. All the swirly ribbons don’t help either. This is a shame since I should probably get this team set as it represents the team which came as close as I ever expected to get to a World Series title.

Yes that game 6 loss still hurts a little even though we’ve won three times this decade and winning a steroid-tained title would’ve sat uncomfortably.

2003 and 2005 Topps. the highlight here is the Matt Cain Prospects card. I’ve kind of forgotten these years in a blur of horrible news coverage where what Barry Bonds did outweighed what the team did. It was increasingly hard to be a fan and the Bonds circus caused me to start drifting away.

These sets are similarly forgettable. Topps is obviously going through a phase of knowing that foil stamping and high gloss are the hallmarks of premium cards but they haven‘t figured out how to consistently combine them into designs which work well.

I can’t imagine how unbearable the Bonds Hype must’ve been for everyone else during those years. That Topps released a set where each card represents one of Barry’s home runs continues to amaze me in its hilarious awfulness. I’m definitely not seeking to complete this set but I’m glad that I’ve moved past my frustration with those years to see the humor in it.

And that 2006 Topps set is also pretty dire. If the knock on a lot of the sets from 1976–1985 is that they’re boring white-bordered sets, at least they’re simple designs which have aged relatively well. These mid-200s Topps designs though? Yeesh. Too many things going on on each card.

2007 is better. I don’t like the design but it’s got a better handle on what it’s doing. I’m baffled as to why the team card has the red and blue squares switched (the backs are all oriented the same way). And yes those two Zitos have different colored backs. This whole parallel/short print thing where Topps changes the color of something minor and treats it as something special really bothers me. If you’re going to do this kind of artificial scarcity crap at least do it with photo variations.

I really like the 2008 design. Kind of surprised about it but it reaches back into the past and does something which is reminiscent of 1964, 1972, and 1986 yet in a way which isn’t at all copying them. The only thing I don’t like is the little tab where the Topps logo is. Even the printed autographs are a nice change of pace (although as an autograph collector I generally don’t like them).

Sadly the 2009 design is a step backwards again. And that’s a 2010 Ginter mini which is fun but also represents a line of cards which isn’t my thing.

And to more-recent cards. The Minor League Heritage cards intrigue me. I don’t really like the Heritage thing but for some reason it bothers me less with minor league teams. I do enjoy having representative samples of the various Archive and Heritage releases though.

The Christian Arroyo 1968 Topps Game design is especially interesting in how different it is—larger size and thicker card stock—from the actual 1968 cards. I am also amused at the specificity of “Lead Runner and Batter Out” for the double play (yes I know this is accurate to the original).

Shane also included some more-random stuff. Fleer stickers are fun. I think this is from 1987 based on the team logo on the other side. The small one must be from a minis set. I’ve never seen anything like it before. And the 49ers cards are fun too. I’ve long since given up on the NFL but cards which remind me of the 1980s when I was a fan—I was a 49er fan before I was a Giants fan actually—will always be enjoyable.

The coin is a 1969 Citgo coin of Willie McCovey. The back has a gob of glue stuck to it but it’s a neat little object all the same. I don’t think we had Citgos on the West Coast (it’s certainly a brand I’m not familiar with) so these coins also represent a cool regional oddball as well.

Thanks Shane! I hope my package gets out of USPS purgatory* sometime this year. It’s not nearly as cool as this, or the previous mailday, but it is indeed enjoyable to send people things that’ll make them happier than they made me.

*Note. Never, ever, make a mistake on the zip code.

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Kevin Mitchell

Kevin Mitchell 1987 Topps Kevin Mitchell 1989 Score

One of the most fun things about looking through my childhood autograph collection is remembering the stories which accompany those autographs and recognizing how those stories often reflect the time in which I acquired the signatures. When I was in Philadelphia in 1989, while Will Clark was the star face of the franchise, Kevin Mitchell was the breakout star everyone was excited about. And for good reason. Kevin had a monster 1989—especially if home runs and RBIs are your thing—and he and Clark were a fantastic team in the three and four spot in the lineup.

I optimistically brought two Mitchell cards with me to Philadelphia. One was his 1987 Topps rookie card* the other was his 1989 Score. As I camped out in the lobby along with the rest of the autograph seekers, I was one of the few Bay Area locals so with the lesser-known players I often was the first to react. But we were all looking and waiting for Kevin and I would’t have any advantage there.

*I never really considered the Traded cards true rookie cards. And even in the height of the RookieRookieRookie craziness, I didn’t buy in to chasing rookie cards as some sort of investment. I did however like the idea of getting rookie cards signed.

When Kevin did finally appear in the lobby—he was the last player to leave the hotel—it was obvious to everyone that he wasn’t going to stop or sign. He had that determined look and hasty walk and I don’t think anyone dared to even approach him until he’d gone most of the way through the lobby. It took a beautiful woman to asked him first. And he stopped. Of course he stopped. And then the crowd descended and he signed and signed and signed for everyone. I got my Topps card and went back in two more times, once for my Score card and then once again for the team ball.

I was, of course, super pleased with myself. THREE Kevin Mitchell signatures! And then my mom, and some of the other adults who were watching everything too, chided me for missing Hank Aaron. Unbeknownst to me, there was also an Equitable Old Timers game that weekend and Hank Aaron, cagey veteran that he was, had used the mob surrounding Kevin as cover to slip out of the lobby unbothered by anyone.

This put a damper on my mood that weekend and it took me a long time to accept my choices. My mom felt bad about teasing me too. I was 11 and Kevin was legitimately one of my heroes at the time. It’s easy to snark on kids being ignorant of the past. It’s much harder to accept that today’s heroes are the ones that resonate.

Do I wish I’d gotten Hank Aaron’s autograph instead of Kevin Mitchell’s? Sometimes. Still. But Kevin’s is the most 1989 of anything I got that trip. The story is better this way too.

Mailday from Al

Where many of my maildays have involved trading with people who I’ve gotten to know through baseball card twitter, sometimes someone will just post a call out about looking to clear out some space and get rid of some cards.* In this case, Al (@lamachine21) was** in the midst of a move, found a bunch of fun stuff that he preferred to clear out, and asked for people to send him their favorite team. So I did—expecting to some day receive a bunch of junk wax nostalgia that would make me smile and which I’d love to share with my kids.

*Peter was one such case and I’m very happy to have been able to keep corresponding with him on twitter and through maildays.

**Actually still is. 

Al certainly didn’t disappoint here. 1986–1994 covers my collecting years perfectly. The 1986 cards represent both the of my collecting consciousness and that Will Clark is one of the first cards I really coveted. Yes I eventually got it. But that doesn’t make me any less happy to see it show up unexpectedly in a stack of cards.

The 1990 cards are all wonderful since they represent so much of the pennant-winning 1989 team which will always have a special place in my heart. The way the Kevin Mitchell is—totally deservedly—the face of the team this year for a change. That Trevor Wilson card with the photo from the celebration. The Dravecky card and all the baggage it carries with respect to both the comeback from cancer game, the subsequent arm-breaking game, and the knowledge that he’d eventually have to get the amputation.

And after getting a couple of the 1954 reprints from Bru it was great fun to get some 1953 reprints (and cards that never were). I loved these as a kid. I, sadly, have no 1953 cards to compare to today so these are still a reminder of how much getting pre-1960 cards is something I should never take for granted.

The new (to me at least) stuff is also great. As a skeptic of these neue-retro cards I’m glad that people keep sending me samples so I don’t have to buy them. In this case, the Fleer and Bowman retro designs are fun to see even while they don’t quite do it for me. I find it interesting how much the Fleer is aping 1956 Topps. I wish they’d taken the Topps Big approach and made a design which translated the look to present (or in this case ~2000) rather than continuing to try to be retro.

Victory kind of weirds me out since it’s copyrighted to UpperDeck but has none of the branding. I was out of the hobby when this came out but from what I can tell there was a trend around 2000 when, after upscaling their products card companies tried to release a less-complicated lower-end product. That none of these sets seem to have lasted for more than a handful of years says more to me about the strength of the flagship lines of cards—what I tend to call the “cards of record”—and how those are the threads that allow collectors to indulge the way baseball cards connect us to baseball’s past.

Gaylord Perry 2004 Donruss

The first 24 items were enjoyable enough. This Gaylord Perry autograph though? Totally cool. Totally unexpected. I admit to not being a big fan of relics or chase cards. But if it’s a player whose number is retired by my team?* Hard to resist.

*Note, the Giants only retire your number if you’re in the Hall of Fame. 

Given the construction of this card I’m certain this is a sticker autograph. But I appreciate that the diecut on the top layer hides the sticker business. The entire card feels like a cohesive product rather than something that’s just a clear sticker slapped on top of a regular trading card. And yes, I completely understand how the sticker thing allows for all kinds of flexibility from the card companies, it just doesn’t feel right to me.

The downside of the diecut stuff is that this card is too thick to go into a standard 9-pocket sleeve. As with the relic card I’ve just got it in a top loader for now while I figure out what to do with it. I should probably ask around and see what other people do with these.

1983 Donruss Action All Stars 1983 Donruss Action All Stars

Al also threw in an unopened pack of 1983 Donruss Action All Stars because Greg Minton is visible through the wrapper. I have some of these at my parents’ house. This is a set I always liked because large cards are cool (these are 3½”×5″) even though a lot of the real estate on the card front is wasted on the TEAMTEAMTEAM greyspace.

I’ll hold off on opening this pack until I get 4-pocket pages. I don’t need a huge pack of them so I’ll have to visit a card shop to get smaller quantities. Until then keeping these in the pack will keep them under control. I’ll get to admire the Minton and the back of the George Brett until then.

So Thanks Al. I’ve got someone new to follow on twitter and figure out what kind of thank you is appropriate to send. But that’ll have to wait for a while since he’s in the midst of a move. Moves suck even if everything goes according to plan so even more power to him for being so generous in mailing out so many care packages.

The simple pleasure of a single ball

Terry Kennedy, Brett Butler, Kevin Mitchell

Terry Kennedy, Brett Butler, Kevin Mitchell

My family took a trip to Philadelphia in 1989 and we stayed in the Giants hotel. 10-year-old me was extremely excited about going autograph hunting for a few days. I had no idea what I was doing. What pen to use. What kind of balls to acquire. Whose cards to bring. I had no strategy. I just brought a bunch of cards—mostly 1987 Topps and 1989 Score—the cheap Giants-branded baseball we’d purchased at the Dugout Store when Rick Reuschel was there for a signing, and a bunch of optimism.

While my primary focus was on getting my cards signed, I often had the ball with me as well. It was handy for players whose cards I didn’t have or former players who were now associated with the Giants. Sometimes I’d have the ball and all the cards together. Other times, after having gotten a card or two signed, I’d get back in line and get the ball signed too.

And there was the time that Orlando Cepeda walked through the lobby without anyone recognizing him until my mom grabbed the ball and chased him down.

It was fun to see it fill up with signatures over the weekend and it’s a great memento from my trip. Yet for the longest time I was disappointed by it. I could only see all my newbie “mistakes.” Things I “should” have done differently. I used a cheap ball instead of an official National League ball. I used a Sharpie instead of a ballpoint pen (by the end of the weekend I’d switched to ballpoint).* I didn’t get a player-specific ball for bigger-name players. The mixing of old players and current players made no sense. etc. etc.

*You’re supposed to use ballpoint pens on official leather balls both for value reasons and preservation reasons. Fake plastic leather doesn’t work well with ballpoint. Sharpies can bleed into real leather. As it turns out though Sharpies and fake leather are a good pair.

Looking at it now? It reminds me of a simpler time and a simpler approach and fills me with joy. That instead of doing a lot of prep work and pulling cards then having to recognize the player, find the right card, and get it ready to be signed, all I needed was a single ball. And then afterwards, the ball exists as a perfect memento of the experience.

It’s not a “collectible.” So many of the “rules” I followed were with the idea that autographs were an investment. Yet that was never why I collected them. I enjoyed the interaction and the stories. Now, as an adult, I’m more likely to buy them since they remind me of stories from when I was a kid. But as a kid? That’s when you’re supposed to create what you’ll be nostalgic about later.

Seeing this ball reminds me of my trip. And that team. And being 11 again. I can recognize all the signatures and remember all the names and reminisce about the experience in a way that my single-player balls or signed cards usually can’t come close to.

Rick Reuschel, Ken Oberkfell

Rick Reuschel, Ken Oberkfell

Rick Reuschel was the first autograph on this ball and the only one which I didn’t get in Philadelphia. He was a notorious non-signer who the professional autograph hunters in the lobby told my mom and me to not even bother trying to chase. They were shocked when we showed them the ball.

Ken Oberkfell was one of the later signers on this ball. He was new to the Giants and, as a utility guy who entered late in games as a left-handed pinch hitter, was not a player who I had any real attachment to. Looking at his signature now I feel a bit apologetic at asking him to fit “Oberkfell” into such a small space. I’m glad he tried though.

And getting to the names at the top of this post, Terry Kennedy was our main catcher that year. He was also new as the Giants had just parted ways with Bob Brenly. He did well for us that year and held on to the position for a while until Kirt Manwaring could take over. I never really warmed to him as a fan though.

Brett Butler was our center fielder and leadoff hitter. There’s something about the everyday leadoff hitter which provides a certain amount of identity to the team. I know lineups don’t really matter all that much but as a fan, knowing that the game hasn’t really started for you until your leadoff hitter has come to the plate is just part of the ritual. Which is why I think we were all extra frustrated when he moved to the Dodgers in a few years.

And Kevin Mitchell. He was a stud in 1989 and getting his autograph was an experience which deserves its own post.

Orlando Cepeda

Orlando Cepeda

Cepeda had just started as a community ambassador for the Giants so his presence in the hotel I think caught everyone by surprise. His leg isn’t great but he still managed to get almost all the way through the lobby before my mom reacted. I love that he signed the sweet spot. All the current players had left it empty but Cepeda knew he had the statistics to take it. So he did.

Kirt Manwaring, Scott Garrelts, Roger Craig

Kirt Manwaring, Scott Garrelts, Roger Craig

Kirt Manwaring wasn’t ready to be the starting catcher yet but he was already turning into a bit of a fan favorite. The way he played was just enjoyable to watch. It’s no surprise that photographers loved him too.

Scott Garrelts was one of our many #2 or #3 starters. That the Giants had no proper ace is one of the reasons why, with the 10-day earthquake break—the A’s swept us in the World Series. I have no memory about who their #3 and #4 guys were. But between Dave Stewart and Bob Welch there was no contest. With Garrelts I do remember making the newbie mistake of handing him too many items. He was cool about it but I learned there that part of the reason not to have a ton of stuff is because it’s just a lot of work to deal with.

Because Cepeda had taken the sweet spot Roger Craig had to fit his signature into the tiny space next to it. I liked Roger. I think we all did. No idea if he was a good manager in general but he seems to have been exactly the kind of manager the Giants needed at the time. I’ll always be nostalgic for the original Humm Baby and the split finger fastball.

Jeff Brantley, Al Rosen, Dusty Baker, Tito Fuentes

Jeff Brantley, Al Rosen, Dusty Baker, Tito Fuentes

This is my favorite panel on the ball though. Well, aside from Jeff Brantley. Don’t get me wrong, he was perfectly fine as a closer the next two years, just, I’m glad the Giants picked up Steve Bedrosian in 1989. And compared to the other autographs on this panel he’s the least interesting.

Al Rosen was the Giants GM. An older me would’ve gotten him to sign an American League ball but I’m happy that I didn’t know better. While he had a couple great seasons in Cleveland I’ll always think of him primarily as the Giant GM and as such, he fits in perfectly here.

Dusty Baker was only the First Base Coach at this point. I know he played for the Giants for one season but in 1989 I had not really thought of him as a Giant yet. He was just part of the 1989 experience at that point. That he eventually became our manager—and was pretty popular for a while until the fans turned on him—makes me enjoy his presence on this ball even more.

And Tito Fuentes. Former Giant turned broadcaster. Our Spanish-language broadcaster. I was aware of KLOK but was a few years away from trying to listen to it as part of Spanish class. But I’m glad he’s on here as, like Cepeda, both a former Giant and a member of the larger 1989 organization.

Mailday from Bru

Another semi-surprise mailday, this time from Bru, an Astros fan and photographer who I’ve enjoyed discussing the photo-side of baseball cards with. I knew a mailday was in the works and have been pulling oddball Astros, or Astro-related cards from my collection to send in return. But then Hurricane Harvey dumped a shitload of rain on Houston and I was just hoping that he and Bob would pull through okay.

Anyway, as a result I was very surprised to find a bubble mailer in my mailbox this week. And it was a treat indeed to open it up.

A few fun cards from the 1980s. Krukow and Uribe in particular were—and still are—fan favorites.

And a handful of cards from the early 1990s when I was still collecting cards. I may or may not have these and will have to double check my holdings back in California. I’m reasonably sure I don’t have the Stadium Club as that stuff was spendy and I only got a couple of packs in general. And the two Bonds cards also don’t look familiar at all.

Another handful of 1990s cards which are from after I stopped collecting. Good. God. I’ve yet to run into any collectors who liked 1995 Fleer. Now I see why. This was my first in-person 1995 Fleer experience and yeah, I have no urge to acquire any more of these. I’m glad to have these as a reminder of how bad things got when I was out of the hobby though.

I’ve also handled a few 1990s Topps Finest now (there were a few in Shane Katz’s box too) and I have to admit that I don’t understand this set at all. It’s like once card companies realized that nice full-bleed photography should be the status quo they had no idea what should count as high end anymore.

And a bunch of more-recent cards. I not the biggest fan of Gipsy Queen or Allen & Ginter but it’s nice to have a sampling of them. I’m grateful that that sampling is turning out to be Giants. I also enjoy that I’ve been gradually filling up Giants from the first half of the 2010s with all these maildays since those World Series winning teams obviously hold a special place in my heart.

Matt Williams 1994 Sportflics Barry Bonds 1994 Sportflics Barry Bonds 1994 Sportflics

Now to the really fun stuff. For some reason I stopped collecting Sportflics before 1994. I really shouldn’t have. These remain fun in a wonderfully distinct way and my kids really like them even though they only have two frames of action now. Something about the tactile nature of having to interact with these in order to get them to move is much more exciting than just watching a video on the iPad. They were impressed and maybe I’ll have to get them some Sportflics or their own to rip.

I also appreciate these 1954 reprints a lot more now that I have the real 1954 cards to compare them to (the 1954 Don Liddle was not part of the mailday). It’s nice to see them in the high-gloss printing. I should look into getting more of these now—especially the gold variants with the gold signatures. The only weird thing for me is that the backs are no longer full-bleed.

Joe Strain 1980 KNBR San Francisco Police Department Joe Strain 1980 KNBR San Francisco Police Department

And the best card in the mailday is this 1980 KNBR San Francisco Police Department card which Bru reports was sitting in a bucket in a junk shop while his card was getting its post-Harvey cleaning. I’ve never seen these and have felt a bit jealous of Tony and all his Brewers Police cards. While I had Mother’s Cookies to enjoy instead there’s something about police cards and their bizarre insistence on being non-standard overlarge sizes with most of that extra card space being empty paper.

In this case I especially like the inanity of the tip on the back. I think my 8-year-old son would roll his eyes hard at this. I appreciate them trying to educate about safety tips but I can’t imagine this approach ever working. At least the card itself grew up to be supercool. I need to put a stack of Astros together to send back to Houston now.

Beginnings

This disclaimer is also on my permanent collecting page but in addition to writing about cards I plan to also blog about autographs. For me they’re as tied up with my memories as card collecting is and the two hobbies fed off of each other a lot when I was little. I’d get cards for autograph reasons and I’d be inspired by cards to go get autographs.

While I don’t remember enough specifics about my baseball card collecting beginnings*—aside from going to my first game in 1986, receiving a Hygrade Baseball Card Collecting Kit as a gift**, and then the following spring being into cards and buying rack packs of 1987 Topps—I do remember my first few faltering steps of autograph hunting.

*I’ve kind of touched on it here.

**I’m assuming Christmas.

Those first couple of cards are both personal treasures and a source of embarrassment. I’m thankful I had the opportunity for these baby steps into the hobby and I’m glad that the players weren’t anyone too important or big name to either discourage my future quests or to result in any regrets about not doing things the “correct” way. I’m also a bit embarrassed now at how excited I was to both acquire and then own all of these. And also at how quickly I wanted more more more.

And as a father who may very soon be finding himself watching his sons embark on similar quests, it’s good for me to have these stories written and available or them to read and realize that I was once in their shoes.

Atlee Hammaker 1987 Topps

I’m pretty sure that Atlee Hammaker was the first autograph I ever got. This must’ve been in 1988. There was an event at the Sunnyvale Community Center where he was scheduled to make an appearance and sign autographs. I remember being at the Giants game that afternoon, having it go into extra innings, and rushing back home to make it to the event on time. Little did it occur to me that, because of the game, Hammaker would also be late.

Boy was he late. We kept watching the same highlights and I feel kind of sorry for the Giants Community Representative* who had to vamp the entire time. But Hammaker eventually arrived and I got my first signature and I was very very happy.

*Who might’ve been Mike Sadek.

Given what I’ve learned since about Hammaker since I’m kind of glad and find it somewhat appropriate that he was my first autograph.

With 1987 Topps being my first complete set as well as the first cards I really purchased or collected in earnest, I’m pretty sure this was my only Atlee Hammaker card at the time. It’s a nice, albeit a bit a generic, headshot. But he’s actually smiling and the lighting is good.

Rick Reuschel 1986 Topps Rick Reuschel 1988 Score

Rick Reuschel was our ace pitcher in 1989. I never think of him as a proper ace but I have to recognize and respect that he did start the All-Star game that year.* Anyway he was scheduled to make an appearance at the Giants Dugout Store in San José so of course I went. As did my mom and my sister. I’m pretty sure that this was yet another baseball thing that we dragged my sister to and she patiently put up with waiting in line for what must’ve felt like forever.

*What is it with Giants pitchers in All Star games and monster home runs?

I had brought two cards with me. The 1986 Topps was one of my oldest cards at the time and 1988 Score was one which I just loved the look of. We were only allowed one autograph each. I think my mom took one card and I took the other.

Since I did not trust my sister not to “keep” the card if I gave it to her—it’s not like she collected autographs it’s just one of those sibling things. So my mom purchased one of those souvenir Giants-branded baseballs for her. For a while it just had Reuschel’s signature on it but we eventually filled it up* and she eventually decided that she didn’t want it.

*This deserves, and will get, a post of its own.

Mike Aldrete 1987 Topps

The Stanford Alumni Game used to be the first weekend of the baseball season and officially marked when baseball began in general. That this was usually in the end of January ended up spoiling me tremendously in terms of when I could expect to go to a game. Many Stanford players in the pros would return to campus and play an exhibition against that year’s Stanford team. And there would often be an old timer’s game as well.

While I eventually ended up treating this as a major autograph extravaganza, the first time I went I only brought one card. I only knew of one Stanford Alumnus and it’s only because he played for the Giants. So, as with Atlee Hammaker I brought the only card I had, a 1987 Topps.

No one had told me about Sharpies yet so I just borrowed a pen from my dad. Whoops. It’s held up okay and there’s a certain charm about it which makes it looks like an autographed card from a much earlier age. And while I eventually got another copy signed I could never bear to part with this one. It’s the first autograph I got where I had to approach a player and ask for him to sign all on my own. And that’s a milestone of its own which is worth remembering.

1973 Mailday

A small mailday from Jeff Katz (@SplitSeason1981) prompted by his recent SABR post where he was looking for trading partners. Jeff’s looking for 1960s cards and has a ton of 1970s cards. I’m not a good fit as my collection is heavily 1987–1993 and I’m both looking for anything before then and have pretty much nothing from then.

That SABR post turned into a chance to send Jeff all of our wants and haves and, since I do have a few duplicates from my eBay acquisitions it turned out that Jeff and I could still do a small trade. So we sent off our respective plain white envelopes loaded with a couple cards and this is what I got.

1973 Topps

1973 is one of the team sets I can actually see feasibly completing* so anything which gets me closer to that goal is always greatly appreciated. I am really digging that Garry Maddox card even with the tilted horizon.

*Between the high numbers and Willie Mays I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to able to complete anything before 1970.

Also, the Boyhood Photos of the Stars card is one which I was really intrigued by when I was a kid. This is partly because Chris Speier had just returned to the Giants when I came onboard as a fan and the idea that he’d been with the team 15 years earlier fascinated me. But I also really liked the idea of seeing what the ballplayers looked like when they were my age.

This is a subset or idea that I’d love to see in a set like Topps Bunt which is aimed and priced for kids. I can totally see my sons having a lot of fun with it.