Putting a can in the binder

One of the strict rules I keep with my collection is that I only want things that I can binder. There are a lot of cool things out there but aside from a few autographed baseballs I’ve been very good about sticking to this. Whether it’s memorabilia like jerseys and bats; oversized items like posters and calendars; or stuff like figurines, cups, and cans; I know better than to go start that path.

I actually have a bunch of this from my youth that I still haven’t figured out what to do with. I’ve a ton of pins which need a display/storage solution and all my posters are in toploaders so I can see them but they’re not on display. I’m really glad I didn’t get into Starting Lineups (the two I had are with my kids now) or bobbleheads. The idea of adding more bulk* just feels insane to me.

*That space is for camera lenses and art books.

Still, I have to admit that I feel a bit jealous when I see people building sets of RC cans or Slurpee Cups from the 1970s. There’s something about seeing how the card collecting stuff bleeds into other areas which I find very cool in how it demonstrates a certain level of cultural penetration.*

*My wife pointed out recently how those mass-market valentines which our kids bring home every yeah and which we all toss as soon as the candy is all eaten are one of the best slices of generic mass-culture relevance each year.

Anyway, a month or so ago I was on Ebay and came across a seller who had a bunch of flat RC cans. Probably a little expensive for those cans but since this was the first time I’d ever seen one that was potentially binderable I decided to grab one.

I didn’t look at the Ebay listing that closely and just assumed that this was a can which someone had manually flattened and that the price I was paying included the copay for at least one ER visit to stitch up a laceration.* It turns out that it’s probably a lot cooler than that.

*No it wasn’t thaaat much. Came out well under $10. It’s just that I see guys desperately trying to give these away on Twitter in order to clear up space so the idea of actually buying one at all felt a little wrong to me.

As a child of the 1980s I’m used to cans being formed from discs of Aluminum so that everything except the tops is a single drawn piece of metal. The RC cans from the 1970s weren’t made this way and are instead pull-tabs where the top and bottom of the cans are separate components in the same way that fruit and vegetable cans today are.

This means that the can walls were made from flat sheets of metal which were subsequently rolled into can shape. What I have looks like one of these cans before it became a can. The top and bottom edges are unprinted and show the registration and color separation information. This would normally get covered up by the top and bottom of the can as would the unfinished edges which would get crimped together and sealed.

It’s really cool to have the extra information. It’s also really cool that this is pre-rolled so it defaults to being flat already. The edges aren’t sharp either and as a result I can absolutely binder it. It’s just over 8 inches wide so it fits without issue in a one-pocket page and is right at home with the other MSA discs using the same image.

1989 Donruss

1989 Donruss has been a topic of discussion recently on Twitter in part due to the existence of a mysterious Jose Canseco bonus card. While everyone who knows about it knows that it’s a hand cut card from some kind of blister pack, none of us knew what those actual packs were. Searching for blister packs turned up 1, 3, and 4 blister packaging in multiple colors but none of them showed a Canseco card on the backs.

Finally Joey found and opened the right kind of pack. Turns out the Canseco card is only part of the yellow (not the red) 3-blister “display” packs. Anyway, since 1989 Donruss was in the wind I mentioned again that I was building it and got a few requests for my searchlist. Not much later I found some packages in my  mailbox which reminded me that as silly as it is to set build junk wax, there are a lot of guys out there with a ton of duplicates who are dying to tackle someone’s set building needs.

The first package came from Greg/Night Owl and contained 18 cards I needed. Nothing hugely noteworthy here although the Ken Williams is one that could also slip into my Stanford album.* The Williams also shows some of the printing inconsistencies of this set where things just get printed too dark. Orosco, Franco, and Carpenter may also be in this category but it’s most noticeably a problem with black players since their entire faces end up in shadow.

*He’s in the grey area of guys who attended Stanford but did not play for the baseball team due to having already turned pro.

Greg also slipped in this very cool Chrome Buster Posey insert. Buster retired late enough in 2021 to slip into a lot of 2022 products due to lead time issues. Normally this kind of thing is annoying since it results in a player showing up in the set who’s playing for a different team but when it means you get a set of “sunset” cards it’s pretty cool.

Joey sent me a bunch of his duplicates too.* Yes there’s some overlap with Greg’s package but that’s the way things go when you get close to the end of a set.  I don’t mind them either since it wouldn’t at all surprise me to find that I much prefer the printing on one of the duplicates compared to the other.

*All in penny sleeves, sandwiched by Ding Defenders. Joey doesn’t mess around.

No huge names in either of these piles. Gossage is the only Hall of Famer and everyone else are guys like Oil Can Boyd or Mookie Wilson who evoke a specific era of baseball for me.

These two batches take my need list down to being only 31 cards missing.* Of those the biggish names include Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff, Joe Carter, Barry Bonds, Eddie Murray, Dale Murphy, Jim Rice, Bobby Bonilla, and Roger Clemens. Finish line is in sight though so that’s exciting.

*At the time of publishing: 51 56 57 62 68 70 81 83 86 92 93 96 99 100 104 107 116 120 122 127 151 157 161 229 280 290 296 319 330 331 470.

Thanks guys for helping me along.

Shlabotnik PWE

So last week I was surprised by a PWE from Shlabotnik Report who appears to going through and purging some of his excess cards.

This latest PWE appears to have been inspired by my updating my Giants search list to have a lot more junk wax on them. For the longest time I was just focusing on Topps but as I’ve started to fill in the rest of the manufacturers it felt right to give people a sense of what else I was missing as well.

These two Donruss cards certainly fit this bill. 1981 and 1982 are both years I rarely encountered cards from. Maybe one or two in a repack. And I did buy a wax pack of each of these back in the late 80s. But nothing major and definitely not enough to build a stack of Giants.

The Jerry Martin is of course barely a Giants card but it counts. Frank Robinson though is always a nice one to add. I’m still not used to Donruss having manager cards.

When I actually commence my 1985 Fleer build* I’ll need to double acquire these Giants. For now though they’re in my Giants album. Dan Gladden was on those first teams I followed and it’s always fun to add a Johnnie LeMaster.

*I periodically search for starter lots on Ebay but to-date that’s been not particularly fruitful.

Three 1985 Fleer minis. I appreciate that these use different photos than the regular set rather than just being mini versions of the main set. Where 1985 Fleer is a design I love, 1986 is one that seems to be permanently forgettable for me.

This is the highlight of the envelope. In 1997 Wheaties had cards in its cereal boxes. All the same design as this one but for whatever reason they were branded with different companies. The cards are also more like 2″×4″ rather than the standard size.

Anyway this is a box card in the tradition of classic Post cards only there are stats on the back. Not at all something I was expecting to see from 1997 but very cool to add to the binder.

Three modern cards, all from 2022. The two Bowmans are new to me. The only Bowman I but are cheap singles to take to Somerset so it’s nice to add Giants. The Posey is one I’ll have to check with my kids about to see if either of them has one and, if they’re both missing it, it’ll make my youngest very happy.

And finally a new Metacard for the PC. Rockie Joe Rock is great. If he doesn’t end up in Colorado I hope he gets sent to Texas so he can play for Round Rock. I’ve added a couple aspirational cards (eg a 1933 Goudey or Tattoo Orbit of Red Lucas as a Red and the 1954 Red Heart Red Schoendienst) to the page but this is the first addition I’ve made since I got the Ernie Johnson half a year ago.

Super cool. Thanks Joe!

Two PWEs from Johnny!

Johnny started giving away ~nine cards to a random commenter on each post on his blog way back in last fall and is still doing these giveaways like nine months later. I got a couple in the beginning of things but have been skunked for the past five months now.

Some of this is because I don’t comment on every post. I’m not prizehunting so I only comment when I have something to say. That said, Johnny posts a lot of interesting things so I do comment petty frequently. This month though, much to my surprise, I ended up winning twice so close together that I have to combine the mailings into one post.

I’ve mixed the cards together but before I start I have to admit that I’m impressed at Johnny managing to get 21 items into two PWEs and that both of them came with a postcard stamp instead of a forever stamp. Zero chance that my local post office would let me get away with that.

Starting off wth a few random Giants cards. The glorious miscut 1970 Rookies card features John Harrell as well as Bernie Williams in his first of three consecutive multiplayer rookie cards. I still need Bernie’s 1972 card.

The 1991 Topps Archives Leo Durocher attempts to fill in some of the holes in the original 1953 Topps set. These “cards that never were” are a nice way of addressing how Topps and Bowman sort of split the checklist that year. They’re also an interesting variation on the 1953 design in that they replace the paintings with a black and white photo that has been given a duotone background. I have no idea why they used a red box for Durocher’s name though since that was only used for the American League in 1953. This takes me to only needing  four cards to complete this team set.*

*#38 Jim Hearn, #115 George Spencer, #303 Sal Maglie, and #323 Wes Westrum. Yes it’s a bit weird that I have the 1953s of Hearn and Spencer and not the 1991s.

And in a similar modern take on a old design, the Topps206 John McGraw expands one of McGraw’s T206 cards to fit a modern trading card’s size and dimensions. I’m not a huge fan of this in part because the reproduction looks pretty bad. My bigger issue though is that Topps’s branding suggests that the T in T206 stands for “Topps” instead of “tobacco.”

A half-dozen parallel-designed Topps Flagship cards. The 2020 camo pattern is numbered to 25 and features a player who didn’t make the team out of Spring Training. Is interesting that the camo is a digital camouflage that suggests the Universal Pattern which the Army stopped using in 2019 (and whose replacement had been announced in 2014). I also don’t like using camo for what Topps calls a “Memorial Day” parallel since Memorial Day is a day of honoring the dead.

I’ll lump the handful of 2021 and 2022 Holiday cards together since I don’t have a lot to say about this set. This set is so stupid but it’s stupid in a good way where I wish it was even stupider. I love that Topps has been branching out into baubles and holly instead of just snow. Maybe one of these days we’ll get holiday lights around the border.

My kids love these and if I could ever find a blaster for them for Christmas they’d be so happy. Alas all we get are Giants cards in trade packages months after the fact. Plus the truly-fun SPs with the the santa hats, candy cane bats, and snow balls all go for prices more than I’m willing to spend.

Oh, I do need to mention that that Kris Bryant was the only US-released card on Kris Bryan on a 2021 Flagship design as a Giant. So it is nice to add one of those to the team for that year.

A half-dozen rookies/prospect cards from various ages of the hobby. The 2001 Donruss Rookies are from the era of I don’t know how many companies making I can’t even begin to count how many sets. These don’t look like 2001 Donruss baseball but they’re clearly of that era. Three of the names I remember with David Brous being the only one I have no recollection of.

The two Bowman Sterling are from 2021. We’re still waiting for Ramos to make a splash in the majors and we’re still waiting for Bishop to get there. These are nice cards but I have no idea where one acquires them or what the point of the set is.  I have grabbed cheap autographs out of this set though.

A pair of pocket schedules from one of the high points of my Giants fandom before the 2010s happened. Despite the painful ending, 2002 was a magical year and it’s great to have a schedule from that year as well as the 2003 one which commemorates that year. I still have a few two-pocket pages with  vertical pockets* that fit these perfectly too.

*Meant for First-Day Covers.

Johnny included two Stanford cards as well. I didn’t have either of them. No surprise about my missing the Shawn Green Flair insert. I only added him to the searchlist a year ago and Flair is off my radar in general–meaning that Flair inserts aren’t even something I think about. Very cool to add something that different.

Missing the Piscotty is more of a surprise. I have a green(?*) parallel of this card as well as the paper Donruss card but did not have the base Optic card. Go figure.

*Turquoise? Panini color parallels mystify me.

Wrapping up with a few cards Johny sent because of where I live. First off, a fun postcard of Princeton Stadium in the 1980s. It’s cool to see what this area looked like before it got remodeled. I’ve only known it as a two-deck stadium which moved the running track into a fancy shmancy facility located where the practice field is in this photo.

Surrounding the stadium, the building in the bottom left corner was replaced with a very nice chemistry building instead of whatever that warehouse-looking structure was. And the empty space in the top left corner is where the engineering library designed by Frank Gehry now lives.

Finally, the greenish space at the top/top right of the photo beyond the stadium has been torn up for the past year as Princeton is currently building a new suite of buildings for Engineering and Environmental Studies.

And last but not least, Johnny hit me with this Alf card from 1987. Did it make me laugh? Yes it did. Will it make my kids groan? Yes it will.

Meanwhile I’ve yet to make it to Atlantic City. Heck I’ve only made it to The Shore once. One of these days I guess I’ll rectify that.

Anyway, very cool stuff Johnny! For taking a blind stab at my collection, hitting with 19 cards that I didn’t already have is super impressive.

Some noteworthy pickups

Another post of random pickups of note which arrived over the past month or so.

We’ll start off with my first T206 and T207 cards. I always figured that Fred Merkle would be my first T206 but Fred Snodgrass is similarly infamous. Snodgrass was the Giants’ primary centerfielder from 1910 to 1914 and is unfortunately remembered for “gifting” Boston the 1912 World Series after muffing a fly ball. Reading accounts of that last inning suggest that the wheels fell off all around with multiple Giants missing chances to get outs that should’ve been routine.

While T206 is listed as a 1909–1911 release, the various backs list different series lengths from 150 to 460 cards and can be used to determine what year a card came out.* Snodgrass with the 350 series back is a 1910 release—making it my oldest Major League card now.

*This appears to be the definitive book.

The card is beat up enough to fall into my price range but doesn’t have any horrible paper loss. The only major issue is the way the red ink is rubbed off above his head but thankfully that doesn’t impact any of the image. I like having an intact back even though it’s just a tobacco advertisement. It’s not the most attractive image on the front but it does capture a certain something about early 20th century baseball.

The T207 meanwhile was one of those “I’d regret it if I didn’t get it” purchases. I never really looked into these since I much prefer the T205 and T206 sets but there’s a certain appeal to the T207s too since nothing else looks like them.

Art Fletcher is not known for any muffs or boners. He is however the Giants franchise leader in being hit by a pitch (and is number 30 on the all-time list). He also was a coach for the 1920s Yankees and even took over as interim manager after Miller Huggins died in 1929.

I have to admit that I’m a bit shocked to have a T205, T206, and T207 now. This was such a reach that I would never have even considered it as a New Year’s Resolution in January but here we are only a third of the way through the year.

I never expected to find a 1948 Bowman basketball card in my price range but I occasionally search for them all the same since Jim Pollard and Howie Dallmar are both in that set and it would be nice to be able to have a sample in the Stanford album. Low and behold I came across a very well loved Dallmar which is perfect since I already have a Pollard Wheaties card.

I enjoy the artwork and the way Bowman colored these behind a black ink halftone screen. I also like that the card back mentions Stanford.

Moving to more recent stuff. This is a 2005 San José Giants card autographed by Garrett Broshuis. Broshuis is noteworthy not because of what he did as a player but because of his advocacy for improved conditions for Minor League ballplayers. He at first had a blog which described Minor League life and living conditions but he went to law school, founded Advocates for Minor Leaguers, and is a huge reason why Minor League Players have not only unionized but joined with the Major League Union.

The recent news about what Minor Leaguers have won is hugely exciting even though it’s nowhere near enough. But as a lover of Minor League ball it makes me happy to see that things are moving in the correct direction.

I grabbed a pair of Frankie Albert cards for the Stanford collection. The 1952 Bowman is is great but I really like the 1955 Topps All American card with the two different photos. Albert only played professionally for three years and was one of the first T Formation quarterbacks* in college football.** While I no longer follow the sport, I grew up with it and it’s really weird to find out how new a lot of the “standard” strategies came into existence.

*Something his Bowman back mentions along with the 1940 Sanford Football season.

**And supposedly also was one of the first to run the bootleg.

I also finished my Bobby Brown run by grabbing his 1949 Bowman rookie card. Brown is a grey area for the Stanford collection since he transferred to Tulane (his time in Tulane is mentioned on the back too) but he is in the Stanford Hall of Fame. As with the Dallmar I enjoy having cards that look as distinct as this in the album.

Finally, I grabbed a 2012 Sam Fuld Card Gen which is one of those cards I never thought I’d ever see let alone find for a couple bucks. Card Gens are cool but you just don’t see them around much anymore.  I wanted this one since it’s the only card Fuld got in 2012 and it’s nice to fill that hole in the binder. Now I just have to track down his 2013 Tampa Team Set card (or decide it’s worth spending the money on a complete set) to finish his run.

April Returns

I’ve been hitting my 1986–1988 duplicates a lot recently and have re-sent to some guys I got a few years ago as I build out my signed 1986 Topps and 1988 Topps collections. I was busy mailing requests out in March even though not much was coming back and those efforts really made themselves known this month.

April got off to a great start with a fast 9-day return from Johnny Ray and a pair of 1986 and 1988 duplicates which show off his switch hitting ability. I however really like the 1990 Upper Deck card in his flip-down sunglasses.

I got a 61 day return from Fred McGriff’s cousin Terry McGriff. I had sent him a 1988 Topps duplicate a couple years ago but never got a response. Nice to have success on my second try and, while I don’t do too much with 1989 Topps it looks nice signed as well.

I thought I was about done with spring training returns until this one from David Villar arrived a week into the regular season, 49 days after I sent it out. It’s always nice when it’s obvious the player kept a copy of each custom I sent and even though I asked for only one signature, it’s great to have a signed version of each of the color designs for last season.

The orange is the base roster card, the white is to commemorate MLB debuts, and the black borders are highlights. Villar was a bright spot last season and I’m hoping he keeps it up this year.

Another repeat request, this time from Floyd Bannister in 27 days. I don’t usually send four cards but when I do it’s because it’s fun to get a card of each team a guy played for. I also like having he 1985 Topps #1 Draft Pick card signed since that’s one of the most interesting parts of that set.

My youngest got a quick return from Rick Reuschel last month and inspired me to give him a try as well. Reuschel is one of my earliest memories in the autograph hobby and getting him on a Mothers Cookies card was something I really wanted to do. He’s always been a notoriously streaky signer at best (when I was a kid the fact that I even had his autograph impressed some of the more seasoned pros) but he’s being very accommodating right now and sent these back in 9 days.

I sent to Danny Darwin again since I wanted to add a few more teams that he’d played for into the binder. I don’t usually use 1991 Donruss but I wanted to try one of those MVP cards just for fun. The 1994 Upper Deck also came out great. He sent these back in 15 days.

I go a 10-day return from Ed Romero on both a pair of he sets I’m hitting as well as a 1983 Topps card. Romero put together a 12-year MLB career playing for four teams (primarily the Brewers and Red Sox) before going on to a carer as a Minor League coach.

I got Pat Sheridan’s autograph at that childhood Philadelphia trip but didn’t have any Giants cards of him signed. So I finally sent a pair of 1990 cards that reflected his time with the 1989 team. I didn’t realize as a kid that I caught him at basically the end of his career. I do know now that he’s p[art of that 1989 team which meant so much to me as a kid* and it was great to get these back in 16 days.

*Updated status of that project is kept on a dedicated page.

A 15 day return from Frank DiPino brought another multi-team mailing to my mailbox. Nice to see the different teams. And nice to add another 1990 Leaf to the collection. I only had one signed before which is a shame since it’s a nice set for it.

For some reason I didn’t send either my 1991 Studio or a Mother’s Cookies card to Mark Lewis last time. Definitely had to fix that oversight, especially because the 1997 team is the one responsible for bringing back to being a baseball fan. He sent these back in only 9 days.

I sent four to Don Robinson because I couldn’t choose between them. I love getting Pirates 1986 Topps cards signed because they’re all about the pillbox caps and I really like the 1990 Upper Deck photo of him sliding. It’s also always nice to get another signed Mother’s Cookies card. Robinson is super reliable and sent these back in 14 days.

Speaking of 1986 Pirates cards, everything from the cap to the sunglasses here is fantastic. Brown only played five years in the Majors but had a pretty good 1985 season after he was traded to the Pirates in in the beginning of August. He slashed .332/.391/.512 and put up 1.5 WAR in only two months.

Brown is also a Bay Area guy who was born in San Francisco and went to school at San José State. He sent this back in 14 days.

I got a pair of cards from Gary DiSarcina in 14 days. 1993 Triple Play is one of those sets I kind of want to build since it’s the perfect for-kids set in that it’s fun without being condescending. 1993 Upper Deck meanwhile is an all-time classic of a design that always looks great signed. I neglected to ask about the photo on the back but googling around explains what Frick, Frack, And Hack mean.

DiSarcina played 12 years in MLB, all with the Angels. His best year was 1995 in which he was an All Star and even showed up on the MVP ballot. He’s now the Third Base coach for the Nationals.

This is a fun one. I pulled this Glendon Rusch card out of a repack in my early days of reintegrating to the hobby and those $5 Target repacks were the best way for me to get a taste of everything I’d missed since I dropped out in 1994. I didn’t give it much thought after I pulled it until Matthew Prigge asked me to help him design the custom cards he was going to use for promoting his book.

After Matt sent me a few sets of the cards I realized that it would be fun to send them out TTM to the guys who were reliable signers. Rusch was one such player and sent these back in only 7 days. I explained in my letter what the cards were from, told him to keep the extra, and he did. Rusch bounced around with 6 different teams over 12 years as a decent, mostly replacement level, pitcher. Matt’s custom though commemorates his first MLB home run though so that was a fun detail to add to the letter.

The very next day I got another of Matt’s customs back, this time from Sixto Lezcano in 8 days. He also kept an extra so that’s pretty cool. I wish I’d had a real card to send him but it’s nice to have the custom commemorating a exciting game. Lezcano had a pretty good 12-year career, most of it with the Brewers, and was a really good player in the late 70s.

I finally sent to Jay Bell. Was nice to be able to thank him for being part of one of my favorite parenting memories and it was nice to add another 1988 Topps and another 1993 Upper Deck to the binder. While I think of Bell primarily as a Pirate it’s always fun to add a rookie card. 1993 is also a good yea to have since that was his best season of his 18-year career. He returned these in 20 days.

I sent a bunch of extra Giants postcards out and Manny Trillo returned his in only 9 days. These always sign nicely and I really like the views of Candlestick as well. Trillo was one of my first TTM requests so this is another repeat.

A 36 day return from Rick Honeycutt was a second-times-the-charm request. I really wish I had a duplicate of his 1990 Upper Deck card but getting him on any A’s card works since I definitely remember him from his time with the A’s…well and also the thumbtack incident which was part of the Baseball Hall of Shame books I grew up reading.

Lee Guetterman is a repeat request as well as I decided to hit some duplictes form sets ha I don’t normally send ou. 1988 Score and 1990 Fleer both look nice signed but are not the sets I reach for first from those years. He sent these back in 21 days.

A 10 day return from Jeff Reed was another repeat request. I wanted an Expos card of Reed and once I ran into his 1990 Upper Deck card I couldn’t not send that too. There’s something about catcher action that will always be cool.

Mike Kingery is yet another repeat request and I was happy to get another 1988 Score back in 21 days. Kingery doesn’t have a lot of Giants cards so I went with sets I like to see signed that I haven’t gotten too as often.

Tom Shopay has such a great signature that I picked up a cheap 1972 card just to send to him. He was a sub for seven seasons from 1967 to 1977 but his 1972 card captures the fact that he played in the 1971 World Series. He sent this back in 13 days and reminds me that I’d like to get more 1972s signed just in general.

My eldest sent a bunch of requests out in March, one of which was to Doug Dascenzo. I figured I’d piggy back on my son’s request and put two letters and two cards in one envelope. It’s fun to share a hobby with them and sending to guys like Dascenzo is a chance for us to talk about guys who I saw when I was his age. I’d love to send out his 1991 Score card that depicts him pitching but all I had around was this 1989 Donruss. Dascenzo is a good signer but made my son sweat by taking a longer than typical 57 days.

Joe Margoneri played two seasons with the New York Giants and it’s always fun to write to those guys about being a Giants fan, moving East, and visiting the Polo Grounds location. He sent this back in just 14 days and included a nice note on the index card as well.

I got a nice 128 day return from Carlos Garcia. He had a decent 10-year career in the Majors and has been a coach in various capacities since. Both of his 1992 Donruss and 1993 SP cards feature nice photos which look really nice with ink. This is also my first SP card which I’ve gotten signed.

Bob Johnson’s 1972 Topps card has a passing reference on the back to how he won Game 3 of the 1971 NLCS. This is a bit of an understatement in that he actually outpitched Juan Marichal and only gave up one unearned run in 8 innings. As with the Tom Shopay this reminds me that I’d love to get more 1972s signed. Johnson sent this back in 19 days.

While his 1991 Score is the only card which shows him pitching left-handed, I couldn’t help make “amphibious pitcher” jokes when I got these back from Greg Harris in 33 days. This is another repeat request where I sent cards from some of my favorite sets to get signed this time.

Charlie Spikes is an all-time great name and a similarly awesome nickname (The Bogalusa Bomber). He had a good 1974 and showed a lot of promise but things just didn’t work out for the rest of his career. I really like this 1976 Topps card though and was happy to get it back in 20 days.

The last return of the month was this pair from Jeff Kunkel in 11 days. Neither of these is as cool as his 1991 Studio but it’s nice to have a couple more-traditional images as well.

All in all a very very good month with a great mix of cards. Next month probably won’t measure up but the hopper is still pretty full so who knows what’ll happen.

A few more pickups

Another post of highlights which are worth observing but can’t sustain a post by themselves.

The other day I randomly typed “Johnny Couch” into Ebay and up popped this pair of Zeenuts. At a good price from one same seller who only had three Zeenuts available. Plus 1919 and 1921 were two of the years I was missing. Total kismet and of course I had to buy.

Not sure what’s more amazing to me, that I have four Johnny Couch Zeenuts or that I have samples of 18 of Zeenut’s releases.

That same seller with the pair of Couch cards also had this gorgeous Monte Irvin 1952 Topps card available for super cheap. There’s a rip from the top right corner into his face. Definitely visible. Also not at all something I care about since the card presents just fine despite the rip.

This takes me to missing only two 1952 low numbers. One is Willie Mays so that’s never going to happen. The other though is Chuck Diering who is a semi-high number and can be found for around 10 bucks. Definitely doable but to-date I’ve tended to save my money for other cards that bring me more joy.

I found a pair of well-loved 1933 Goudeys for the minimum bid on Ebay. Yes they’re beat up but like with the Irvin, I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned these are in great shape for being 90 years old. Glenn Spencer was a bullpen guy who finished up his 5-year career with a single season on the Giants. Bernie James was a utility infielder who also played his last season for the Giants after a couple of years with another team (in his case, the Braves).

Not particularly noteworthy players. I do love the artwork on Spencer’s card with the nice keyline around his portrait.

The backs in this case show more why these didn’t get much action. I’m not a huge fan of paper loss but if it’s in places that don’t interfere with the information I’m perfectly happy to save my money and get these for cheap.

This is a card I can blame @prewarcards for. He got a big lot of these 1910 Navy Caramels and I was immediately struck by the artwork. I then realized that they depicted the Great White Fleet which marks a key point of inflection in how the United States saw itself in the world. So I had to get the flagship of the fleet.

The chromolithography pops really well with that nice vibrant sky and the red border emphasizes the red paint below the plimsoll line on the otherwise white ship.

And finally an Arbuckle card of Mecca from the same 1891 set that my Honolulu card is part of. There are a few 19th-century Mecca cards and I always find myself admiring the artwork depicting Masjid al-Haram and the Kaaba and how much smaller and simpler they look compared to the images I see of the Hajj nowadays.

Some awesome trade packages

Time to wrap up a few trade packages I’ve gotten recently. Things have been pretty quiet on this front due to a combination of me having zero trade bait* and everyone else being in basically the same place.

*Hard to get trade bait when you only buy the specific cards you want because Topps has made the experience of opening new product nowhere near as much fun as to be worth the price of buying the product.

The first one came from Alley (@_AlleyAwesome) who lives in NorCal but collects Dodgers. She’s often posting fantastic photos of the Shasta area wilderness which makes me miss California but, aside from the Dodgers thing, also shares similar interests to me regarding cards in that she loves box cards and holograms.

She posted a photo of Cramer Baseball Legends box bottoms which prompted me to respond with one of those all-too-common “oh crap I had no idea these existed looks like I need to update the searchlist” tweets that every single person on card Twitter has both written and inspired.* She however lived up to her Twitter handle and surprised me with a “how about I just send you a duplicate” response.

*We are our own worst enemies.

The box bottom is great. It comes from the 1986 combined release of all the different series of these cards and you technically need it to complete the set since these four cards are on the checklist. I both loved this set as a kid and was too immature to appreciate it since I didn’t treat cards like this as “real” cards even though they were all I could get.

I’ve thankfully grown out of that mindset and wish that similar sets existed for my kids now since there’s currently zero way for them to learn about the history of the game through baseball cards.

Speaking of hologram cards, I recently started building 1996 SPx which is a 60-card set featuring fantastic holographic images. They scan like crap but photograph pretty well. I picked up a good-size lot starter lot and swapped some duplicates with Matt Prigge who’s also building the set.

The only duplicate Matt had which I needed was this Eddie Murray. Always nice to add a Hall of Famer and I’m at 29/60 complete on the set now.

Matt also sent me a copy of his latest book because I helped him out with these promotional trading cards (which he also sent me copies of). It was a fun challenge. Card people will recognize that this is inspired by the 1982 Topps In Action design by turning it into more of an Opening Day bunting sort of feel. Matt printed these out as 5″×7″ postcards from Vistaprint and cut them into quarters by hand.

Finally, Mark Del Franco sent me a stack of eleven 1959 Topps cards. Mark’s been building this set and evidently was on the receiving end of a lot of generous maildays since when I expressed my admiration for this design as one that’s been growing on me significantly he was very fast to offer to send me a bunch.

I’m not sure what it is but I’ve mentioned before that there’s something about this design which screams Baseball Card in a way that few other designs do. Despite containing things like small photos and facsimile signatures which I typically treat as deal beakers, everything about these just works for me.*

*That my son dressed up in this design for Halloween is a nice bonus.

The only non-Giants 1959 Topps cards I had were the nine in my colorwheels page and the Elston Howard and Ozzie Virgil in my Colorline project so it’s nice to be able to put a page together. Some of Mark’s cards—such as that fantastic Blasingame—will unseat cards on this page, others will go in the binder to be admired, and a few fit other collecion purposes.

For example, this is my first Richie Ashburn card so it slides over into the Hall of Fame binder. There’s definitely a crease on this but it barely shows even in the scan.

These two meanwhile slip into the moves and no-longer-in-existence teams binder (I didn’t include the Senators card in he firs gallery since it doesn’t fit in well with the other vertically-oriented cards). They’re not from any last or first season but I still like having examples of these teams existing on cardboard.

The rest are in the general binder for now. But it’s a lot of fun to have a Ryne Duren card and I’ll always be happy coming across Bobby Thomson.

Last package comes from Jason and contains a 1995 Score Gold Rush Robby Thompson that he pulled from one of his pack nights* as well as a random postcard from the Minneapolis Review of Baseball which suggested that Al Dark, Monte Irvin, Wes Westrum, and Willie Mays all had some sort of Minneapolis connection.**

*A bunch of the Chicago SABR guys have a regular rip night where they get together and rip all kinds of old boxes of cards. The box bottoms Jason previously sent me were from one such night.

**Westrum is from there. Mays played in Minneapolis before becoming a Giant and Irvin spent a short time there. Dark though never played in Minnesota.

The Thompson is totally one of those things I love to add but will never get on purpose. I do find the printing interesting though since it demonstrates some of the same opaque white effects that Chrome cards show. Since this is printed on foil stock, a pass of opaque white is necessary on every area where Score doesn’t want the foil to show through. This always looks strange when there’s another player in the image who ends up fading into the background.

The back of the postcard though shows that the image is actually just about Westrum and includes the other three players as examples of who he played with when he got to the show.

And yeah. Thanks guys these were indeed awesome. It’s nice to get four mailings. Seems like trading is picking up again. Maybe packs will wind up in stores soon and be priced to where ripping becomes feasible again.


March Returns

I had no idea what to expect from March. Spring training has been a crapshoot the past couple of years and I didn’t send much else out besides those in February.

It took almost a week for me to get any returns. But the first one of the month is a fun one. Luis Gonzalez was a good player for most of the 1990s and a very good player for the first half of the 2000s. While I only have cards from his Astros days I think of him as a Diamondback where he put up some great numbers and had that World Series winning hit in 2001.

Very happy to get this back in 33 days. I don’t have a lot of signed Pinnacles but this is quietly a great design which signs really well.

One of the things I did last year was rework my Giants customs for other teams and create a set of cards for each Stanford player in the majors that season. Some years had only six cards. 2022 though had eleven. I picked a couple cards for each player and sent them out this spring. Kris Bubic was the first to come back in 21 days. He kept an extra of each card.

A 21-day return from Kervin Castro brought another Giants NOW custom as well as my first signed 2022 Topps card. Shame about the pen but it’s still legible. Castro is no longer wth the Giants and was a non-roster invitee to the Tigers camp.

I’ve avoided sending to Mike Krukow because I know he has a degenerative hand issue and figured he wouldn’t be signing anymore. I was surprised to see some returns from him and figured sending him a thank you letter as well as a scan of the first Giants Magazine I ever owned was an appropriate request. After 188 days I wasn’t expecting it back but I’m very happy to be able to add it to the collection.

This is a new one. I’ve had back signings before because of the Mothers Cookies Autograph line or the photo on the front not depicting the player but I’ve not had one like this where the guy chose to sign on the back just because. There is decent white space there so I guess I get it. Anyway, Cole Waites kept two cards and sent these back in 23 days.

I’m including the fronts just to show that a autograph would’ve worked okay. Yes these are a little dark backgroundwise but nothing horrible. Anyway writing “congrats on your MLB debut; I made some MLB cards for you to keep” letters are probably the most fun ones for me to write and I’m always happy when they keep the extras.

Bob Boone is a weird signer. At least half the time his mail seems to get refused. I had tried once before to send him a few customs and my second attempt paid off in 12 days. He didn’t keep any but I hope he enjoyed seeing these. It’s always fun to add another custom to the album and it’s been a while since I’ve added either of these designs. My most-recent 1978ish was last October and the last 1956ish was the previous month.

I sent out a bunch more Giants postcards in early February but only got Renie Martin back so far. Gene Richards signed his in 45 days and I like that he used a nice pen on the postcard. I decided to send a Padres card as well since Richards was a pretty good player for them before he signed with the Giants.

I tried sending to Dennis Lamp a year or so ago but never got  response. So I figured I’d try again (he seemed to be reliable) and this time I got my cards back in 14 days.  It’s always fun to get a return where a player is on multiple teams and I really should be hitting 1989 Score a lot more frequently.

I got a pair from Mike Boddicker in 14 days. It’s always nice to add another 1991 Studio and I don’t send out 1988 Score nearly enough. This one has a great photo that works wonderfully with his very nice signature. I neglected to check my 1991 Studios the first time I sent to him so it’s good to have corrected that oversight.

Curt Casali is another Spring Training return. I was starting to give up on these as Opening Day approached but this came back in 40 days so not that long either. He kept all my customs and only sent back the Topps card so I’ll interpret that as him liking my customs. Casali was a good backup catcher for a few years (led the Giants in dWAR last season) and I’m happy to add him to the 107 wins section of the binder.

Another repeat request. No Studio card this time, just a few duplicates from my peak childhood sets. I’ve decided that I should just enjoy getting as many of those signed as I can and in he case of young it’s fun to capture more of his career bouncing around to various clubs. He sent these back in 17 days.

A super-fast six-day return from Greg Gagne was yet another repeat request where I hit a 1988 Topps as well as sent out a couple fun turning-two photos. I may not be collecting these photos like some of the guys in the hobby but they’re a lot of fun to get signed.

The last return of the month was a 9-day return from Mark Gubicza. I’ve sent to him before but decided to hit my 1986 dupes again. It’s nice to end the month h way I started with a 1992 Pinnacle as well. It’s a beautiful set which signs very nicely and it’s very nice to add a bunch to the album.

Not as many Spring Training returns as I was hoping for but a decent number all the same. Another fun development this month is that the boys were inspired to send out a few requests. My youngest has gotten cards back from Mark Lewis, Rick Reuschel, and Don Robinson while my eldest has gotten returns from Mitch Garver, Randy Dobnak, and Ryan Vilade. Fun to see how differently they’re approaching this but they’re enjoying the mail as much as I am now.

Mailday from Fuji

A couple weeks ago Mark/SanJoseFuji (I’m pretty sure the most popular name on Card Twitter is Mark/Marc) asked me for my address so that he could send me a few cards for myself and my kids. Last week a pair of PWEs showed up and what was inside was definitely good stuff for the three of us.

We’ll start off with the things that are clearly for me. Three Stanford autographs of random guys who my kids have never heard of. Fuji also collects Stanford guys so I assume these are his duplicates.

Justin Armour was not in the binder yet. I’ve been hitting the  pre-1990s guys but haven’t put the list together of junk wax NFL cards of Stanford guys. Todd LaRocca is definitely one I remember watching play. It occurs to me that I should look through those mid-90s signature cards and see if there are any other Stanford players on those checklists (I do have Jed Hansen already). And that Steve Stenstrom signed $2 phone card is one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen. I don’t even know where to begin.

Explaining pay phones and phone cards to my kid is going to be tough enough. Adding in the idea of them being certified autographs of sports players? Weird. Plus a $2 phone card in the age of 20¢ phone calls would actually have been a decent number of calls.

The first batch of cards are all ones I have at some level. I don’t know if my Kellogg’s are in this nice of shape though so I’ll definitely be doublechecking those before I distribute them to the boys. I really like the UK minis and MLB Debut is one of those sets which I wish Topps still made.*

*My dream would be if the MLB portion of Bowman became MLB Debut so that those cards would never show up in Update, we could lose a lot of the rookie bloat in flagship, and a bunch of guys who normally don’t get cards would be able to get a real MLB card.

A half-dozen shiny cards for us to fight over. Though to be honest these all have my youngest’s name written all over them. My eldest is a traditionalist who likes his cards to be made of paper and emphasize the photography. My youngest likes the bright colors and shiny backgrounds and it’s always a bit heartbreaking to see him realize that those cards are not intended to be affordable for kids.

I’m not sure what they think about the logoless Panini stuff though. Is interesting to me to realize that this entire batch is non-licensed including that Lincecum where Upper Deck hilariously didn’t bother to do anything to remove the logos.

Finally, Fuji included a Tim Alderson relic. Very much a “who was this?” card now even though he would’ve absolutely been a big deal in 2008 after he was one of two Giants first round draft picks in 2007 (the other being Madison Bumgarner) and was on track to being one of the California League ERA leaders that season. In 2009 the Giants would send him to Pittsburgh in exchange for Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez became a key part of that 2010 World Series team. Alderson meanwhile topped out in AAA ball.

Thanks Fuji this was fun!