¡Por Fin!

A quick roundup of a few mailings that I haven’t posted about yet but which I did not receive while I was on vacation. The first one came from Mike Sommer before I left. Mike blogs over at Wax Pack Hero and is one of the few guys who are big into the selling side of the hobby who I can stand.

There are a lot of guys on Twitter who sell cards and claim to be collectors but who are really just flippers looking to make a quick buck without offering anything of value themselves. Mike though specializes in the long tail and is willing to put the work in to turn large lots of cards into organized 18¢ singles on his Sportlots.

While I’d love to dig through big unsorted boxes of cards like he does, I’d much rather pay him 18¢ a card just for the cards I want rather than spending 100 times as much and having to deal with sorting and storing everything.

Anyway a couple months ago he was sorting through some 1984 Fleer and tweeted that he’d come across the legendary Glenn Hubbard card. I responded that I still hadn’t purchased one  for my collection and he just offered to send this one to me. Which means that at least one gaping hole in my 1980s and 1990s iconic card photos* is now filled.

*Still need Jay Johnstone, Billy Ripken, Bo Jackson, Gary Pettis, and Mike Perez.

This is such a weird card in how it’s both a common and not. No one wants to spend a ton of money on a Glenn Hubbard card just because it has a silly photo. At the same time, everyone wants one of these and holds on to them. They‘re frequently not available on any of the card purchasing sites which is an astounding thing to say about any card from the junk wax era.

Thanks Mike! I’m super happy to finally have this one in the photography binder.

On the topic of photography, a couple weeks ago Shlabotnik Report saw me mention my appreciation for the goofiness on 1976 SSPC and promptly filled up a PWE to send me a few. Only three SSPCs but they definitely fit the bill—especially the Jim Colborn card.

He managed to fit a dozen cards into the PWE though and managed to hit with most of them. Lots of Willie Mays inserts which I didn’t have. A shiny Kris Bryant insert.* A fun Joe Panik card from San José Giants. And of course a SPAM card** for the Python collection.

*Interesting to see Panini trying to keep Donruss Elite a thing still. As if the hobby would go bananas about a /10,000 “limited edition” card nowadays.

**Oh lord is it dangerous to know that SPAM cards exist. One of these days someone out there is going to send a whole mailer of SPAM cards. Also I should definitely consider converting a 1980s/90s food oddball to be a SPAM oddball for a se of Hawaiian-born players. 

Awesome stuff, thanks Joe Shlabotnik!

Vacation PWEs

While I was on vacation, in addition to the sixteen TTM returns I was also pleasantly surprised to find a handful of PWE trade packages waiting for me as well. Always nice when it’s not just bills and junk mail waiting.

The first package is from Greg/Night Owl and includes a page’s worth of fun. I missed out on his giveaway* and apparently these are the only remaining 1985 Fleers he had to get rid of. I’ll gladly take them though and remind myself to put a need list together.**

*Relying on an RSS reader means I miss out on any timed contests.

**Though I also don’t have enough cards to feel like a needlist is necessary yet. Who puts a set needlist up with over 600 cards?

The two 2009 O Pee Chee black borders are great. The more I look at the last 25 years of baseball cards the more sets like this one stand out for being distinct in both feeling like a traditional set while also not directly copying an old design. It would’ve been nice to see what Upper Deck did with this brand had Topps not grabbed an exclusive license in 2010.

Not much to say about the rest of the cards though I do appreciate the 2022 2021 Big League Crawford since I’m not hitting that set hard at all. Also I’m super curious how Greg, as a Dodgers fan who doesn’t go for all the fancy shmancy new stuff, ended up with a 2019 Montgomery Club Giants team card.

A PWE from Jeff Katz almost works as a TTM return. Years ago I was playing around with photoshop and throwing together some Ginter-like cards. Jeff was one of the first I ran through the Ginterizer since his moment wearing the Mayor Quimby sash for the Simpsons day was brilliant. Yeah I couldn’t get all of “Mayor” to fit without making Jeff look like Kingpin.

When Marc printed these all up he sent them to everyone. I got my copies but when Jeff got his I asked for a signed one. He signed small so it would fit on the paper. I’m curious how a silver sharpie would’ve worked instead but not everyone has those lying around.

Another PWE had two packs of John Racanelli’s Literal Cards. This has been an ongoing thing on Twitter where John posts often awful but also often hilarious tweaks on existing cards. I never expected him to actually produce these but I’m glad he did.

There’s something about making them real cards that takes the joke to the next level. My kids also enjoyed them—especially Les Rohr and Willie Mays—which surprised me a little because they always groan when I make these kinds of jokes.

And finally a mini-zapping from Kenny who came into a nice lot of Card Gens and generously decided to spread the wealth. These are always welcome in part because it gives me an excuse to link to Kenny’s You Tube video again but because the actual use of these cards is so far outside how we’ve thought of using cards in the US.

The few Card Gens I have have all come from Kenny and to-date, have been from the 2010 set. This is the first 2012 I have and the fact that it’s a Giant is even cooler. I still hold out hope that I’ll run into the 2012 Sam Fuld on of these days since it’s the only card he got that year.

Very cool guys and thanks for livening up my post-vacation mail pile.

August returns

This is really the second half of July plus August since I was away on vacation for a month and a half. I filled up the hopper before I left and was pleasantly rewarded for it.

Elapsed time on these includes my time on vacation (hence nothing shorter than 60 days) but much to my surprise I got a decent number of stragglers back as well.

We’ll start with the stragglers and a 502-day return from Brad Komminsk. Way back when, Komminsk was one of those “can’t miss” prospects. Unfortunately he could never translate his minor league success to the majors.

He did however play 8 games for the Giants in April 1990 as he was picked up off of waivers at the beginning of the season. So despite having zero Giants cards he slips into my Giants binder.

Pat Rapp is another straggler with a 488-day return. HE’s also another short-term Giants who I saw in San José before he debuted with the team in 1992. He was picked up by the Marlins in the Expansion Draft the following year but did make it back to San Francisco in 1997as part of that magical season.

Not officially a straggler but Brian Holman returned a pair of cards in 207 days. Holman had a short but very respectable four-year career that got cut short by injury. His career highlight was retiring 26 straight batters before losing his perfect game.

While the end of the 1993 season kind of stung as a Giants fan, we did find a little amusement in the Phillies beating the Braves in the NLCS and a lot of amusement in Danny Jackson’s Hulkamania celebration. When I found a photo of it I knew I had to turn it into a custom and send it out. 196 days later it came back. Jackson kept the extras and I hope he enjoyed them.

A 146-day return from Bud Black sort of twisted the knife a bit on my disappointment in how the Giants no longer sell game-day programs. Their covers used to be fantastic and while this one may not have the goofy humor of Will’s World or Caveman the photo composite is fantastic and, as with the Jackson return, is well worth the wait.

Mike Loynd is a bit like Brad Komminsk in terms of big hype which didn’t pan out. Loynd was the 1986 Golden Spikes winner and made it to the majors that same year, only two months after being drafted. 1987 ended up being his last MLB season though since after the Rangers traded him he never got back. He sent this back in 145 days.

A good portion of my returns this month are 1987 Topps since that’s wha I was filling the hopper with. The oldest of these that I got back last month was a 117-day return from Chris Codiroli whose signature looks pretty nice o this card. Codiroli was a pitcher for most of the 1980s with six of those seasons being as a regular part of the A’s rotation. He was even the Opening Day starter in 1985.

Manny Sanguillén doesn’t need much of a bio even though he gets lost in the deep catching pool of the 1970s. Anyone who can beat out Johny Bench for an All Star slot is special and his part in the first all-black MLB lineup is also worth mentioning. I’m glad I had a 1976 card handy since it looks great signed and the 87-day turnaround was absolutely worth it.

A 65-day return from Teddy Higuera added a player and card which immediately brings me back to my first years of collecting. He had great 1986 and 1987 seasons and to me he’ll always be an All Star first despite his career getting derailed by injury.

Ray Soff got into a bunch of games in 1986 and only a dozen in 1987. But he managed to get onto a pair of cards in the 1987 Topps set since the Cardinals Leaders card features a nice candid shot of him on the mound. This return clocks in at 65 days which means it was one of the last requests I sent out before my vacation.

Cliff Speck is a single-season guy but he does have a notable career highlight. Well “highlght.” He gave up the walk-off hit in the bottom of the 33rd inning in the longest professional baseball game in history. H returned this in 63 days.

A 63-day return from Bob Tewksbury brought the kind of player I miss in the modern game. Tewksbury was a right-handed junkballer who put together a very good 13-year career. He’s third all-time in walk rate among modern pitchers and threw a 79 pitch complete game one-hit shutout with no walks and only three strikeouts. I like Game Score as a stat for fun but it definitely shows its faults when someone throws up a Maddux.

Another 63-day return this time from Bob Kearney. He made his MLB debut with the Giants in 1979 but didn’t become a full-time player or really show up on proper cardboard until 1983. These still slide into my Giants album though.

Rich Yett had an intersting career. He started off in the bullpen, became a starter for over a year, then ended up back in the pen. This was in 62 days and I kind of like how the 1990 Topps card turned out.

Bill Gullickson had a nice 14-year career and led the AL in wins in 1991. It also looks like he proved to be a bit of an inspiration in Japan because he was able to play despite being diabetic. I also like the story about him inspiring Sam Fuld. This came back in 61 days.

A 60-day return form Bryan Oelkers means this was probably the last card I sent out before leaving. Oelkers is one of four MLB players to have been born in Spain and, when he debuted, was the first from Spain since 1913.

A good month and lots of fun to return to after a vacation. Next month will likely be super dry since I haven’t sent anything out in over 60 days. But who knows there are always more stragglers out there and I never give up on a return.

Some Random Pickups

A short post of a few pickups that came in before I left for vacation. These are all cards I never expected to get since they’ve been generally out of my league pricewise but one day my phone lit up with multiple Twitter DMs linking to the same ebay auctions for these at actually-reasonable prices.

Y’all are bad influences. But let’s go through these in order from oldest to newest.

Starting off we’ve got a 1958 HiRes Rootbeer card of Darryl Spencer. I have mixed feelings on this design. I don’t really like it on a personal level. At the same time it’s so weird and goofy that it’s the perfect oddball card. I also love this particular image since the khothole gang design works way better with action photos than portraits and the outfield advertisements add a ton of visual interest.

This design is also especially noteworthy as being one of Bowman’s three 1956 prototypes. One reason I don’t like it is that it’s way too visually similar to 1955 Bowman’s wood-paneled TVs. But I can totally see it being the starting design for 1962 Topps’s peeling posters on wood design (and by extension 1987’s wood panel homage to 1962).

I always wanted one of these, never thought I’d get one, so having one in the binder now makes me super happy.

Next is a 1966 Topps Rub Off of Jim Hart.* Unlike the Hires cards these never really appealed to me. Besides the reversed image they’re also pretty flimsy and blurry. At the right price though I can obviously be convinced to get a sample.

*Which confuses me a little because so many of the letters in his name are symmetric and I can’t not read this as Trah Mil. 

It is indeed fun to get to know all the different things Topps tried in the 1960s and I’ve only scratched the surface with the Rub Off and this 1968 sticker of Mike McCormick. I’ve no stamps, decals, stand ups, or god knows what else but these are definitely fun to add to the binder even though I never search for them.

I think the McCormick sticker was peeled off and stuck to something at some point since it feels like the kiss-cut outline of a real sticker instead of a janky handcut. Plus the back could totally be no-longer-sticky adhesive. This set is more fun than the Rub Offs with it’s brighter colors and heavy black outlines and while I don’t feel it for these small stickers I absolutely feel he appeal for the full-size ones. Those however are definitely out of my price range.

Thanks goes to everyone who let me know about these. You troublemakers know who you are and my collection is definitely better and more interesting as a result.

Big Giants!

While it wasn’t as long since I went to a San José game, it’s been way too long since I’ve been to any Major League game. The last time I had tickets was 2020 and that didn’t turn out well. We’d had hopes of getting to a Giants game this summer though* and, thanks to the recent swoon, I was able to find tickets for super cheap. This would be the first game I went to with both boys since I’d previously only taken one at a time in 2018 and 2019 for their own personal first game experiences.

*Also want to get to an A’s game but for the life of me I cannot figure out why upper deck tickets for the A’s are so expensive. $30 for field level. $30 for upper deck. Makes no sense to me at all. 

I didn’t take many photos. Not a first and I didn’t want to make as big deal of it. Plus we’re all wearing masks on the train* and in crowds so the photos aren’t as nice. We got to the stadium early enough to walk around a little bit, see the World Series trophies, and hit the Coca Cola slides (not as exciting as they remembered) but didn’t do the full slow circuit either. While I don’t want the stadium experience to become routine, not every visit needs to be treated the same as a first visit.

*Amusingly this was both boys’ first train ride since 2019. Usually we train to Newark Airport but this year got caught up in a wildcat strike. They’d forgotten what it was like to ride a train. 

Thanks to Trenton being awesome and providing free programs and scorecards at every game, the boys have become accustomed always acquiring a scorecard and keeping score. Much to my surprise when I hit the Giants souvenir stand, I discovered that the Giants no longer make either scorecards or programs.

I understand that they may not be big sellers anymore but not having anything available just feels wrong. Buying a scorecard and keeping score is one of those old-school baseball traditions and it’s really rough, especially in this day and age of no ticket stubs, to have no scorecards available either as a handy binderable souvenir.

As unimpressed as I was by this, at least the Guest Services desk was offering free copies of the scorecard printouts that they provide for the press. These are actually pretty nice except for the fact that they’re legal sized pieces of paper that you can’t write on unless you have a desk. Thankfully I had a notebook and folder in my bag that were hard enough to write on.

We made it to our seats in time for lineups and the national anthem. Same spot I grew up with up high and behind the plate. Things felt more like the Giants games I used to attend up there with a much looser crowd that thinned out even more as you moved away from the plate

My eldest has turned into a pretty observant fan and is noticing things that have changed since his last visit and how the teams are arrayed on the field. My youngest was sick to his stomach because he was worried the Giants would lose again and that he was bringing them bad luck. He was however into the game even, as with his first game, though he couldn’t keep up with the scorecard because he was sort of overwhelmed.

Turns out that he shouldn’t have been too concerned. Alex Cobb settled down after a rough first inning and somehow got through 6 innings in under 100 pitches while only allowing one run. The team got some clutch hitting, drove in runners in scoring position, and both took the lead early and never let Arizona get back into things.

Was nice to see Madison Bumgarner pitch* even though it does hurt a little to see him get jumped on. But it’s cool to be able to give him a proper ovation as thanks. He’ll always be welcome in San Francisco.

*My youngest wore a Bumgarner shirsey even though he knew he was starting for Arizona.

Lots of excitement with Longoria’s home run being the first Giants home run either of them has seen live. And with Joey Bart first laying down a perfect bunt then smacking the absolute tar out of the ball with a double that went off the top of the arcade and a single off the left field wall. Either ball is slightly higher and Bart has two home runs including a splash hit from a right-hander.

My youngest wasn’t comfortable until the last out was recorded though. Then it was big smiles as we walked out and I realized how serious he had been taking things. Hopefully now that he knows he isn’t bad luck he’ll be able to relax more. Either that or we just have to go to more games next summer.

Because we have to rush to catch the train—Caltrain only gives us 15 minutes after the game ends to get to the station—we finished up our scorecards on the ride home. Not a bad way to do things and wrap up the night. Has been a while since I kept score on a nicely laid out scorecard too. My only complaints are that four lines for pitchers makes zero sense in the modern game and it would be nice to have substitute lines for all the players too.

Other than that this got me thinking seriously about designing my own scorecards and getting them printed. Will be good to not have to rely on them being available at the stadium as well as have a layout that doesn’t suck.

Little Giants!

Much of my love for Minor League Baseball is because I grew up going to San José Giants games. Their affiliation started in 1988—right at the beginning of my baseball fandom*—and the idea of seeing players who I could later see at Candlestick was definitely compelling right out of the gate. But the games were just fun. A more raucous environment. Being able to sit nice and close. Crazy contests like Smash for Cash.** They all made me appreciate minor league ball and we were quickly going to multiple games a year and I even had my birthday party at a game.

*I knew about the Bees and even got the one and only foul ball I’ve ever gotten when I was walking past a Bees game a the exact right moment but never went to a game.

**Late in the game when the Peter Gunn theme started and the Rotten Robbie truck rolled out onto the field was always a highlight.

I missed going to a game when I was visiting California in 2019 and had zero idea that it would be another three years before I had a chance to go back. Thankfully I finally got back to a game last week. Turkey Mike’s BBQ is still there. As are the Churro guy* and the Beer Batter.** Since our tickets were free we got BBQ and churros. Unfortunately though Smash for Cash is gone…so it goes.

*I still need to get his card.

**A gimmick that Trenton tried this year but hasn’t figured out how to do it as well as San José. Sadly it looks like Martinelli’s has dropped its sponsorship so he’s no longer the apple juice batter after the 7th inning.

The big news is that the Giants are in Low-A now. And it kind of shows with baseball that’s closer to what I saw in the Draft League at Trenton than in AA Somerset. The Giants spotted Stockton with a 7–0 lead after 1.5 innings (making us question whether we’d wasted our money on the tickets) and proceeded to tie everything up at 8 apiece via a grand slam and Earl Weaver through three complete.

Utterly wild but absolutely in keeping with this level of ball where no lead is big enough and no pitcher can be relied on. Or fielder. The second Giants pitcher (Joe Kemlage) took over in the 3rd and pitched a great game—2 earned runs in 5 innings—with his biggest problems coming as a result of some sloppy shortstop play that gifted Stockton a run.

Unfortunately the Giants could never get the lead despite making it exciting in the 9th and lost 10–9. Kemlage got hung with an undeserved Loss but we went home happy after a game that started off so badly ended up being surprisingly crisp and exciting.

Oh, and the Beer Batter hit the absolute tar out of the ball all night as he not only never came close to a strikeout but got thrown out trying to stretch his second double into the cycle in the 9th inning.

The boys and I also got some autographing in. Travis Ishikawa is the Giants hitting coach and we caught him before the game. San José Muni is one of the lousiest places I’ve ever seen to get autographs* so I counted that as a win. Both boys know Ishikawa and his eponymous game so they were very happy too.

*It wasn’t easy when I was a kid but it’s gotten worse. There’s basically zero access to the players on the field and no place to hang around after the game.

We got some excitement as well. Dave Righetti and Bruce Bochy were in the house that night (probably in town for that weekend’s 2012 reunion). We saw both by the cages and it was nice to say hi. We had nothing proper to get signed (plus we’ve gotten them TTM) so we didn’t bother them much. It was funny to see the boys get a bit star struck by Boch since they did not expect him to be so big.

Really interesting for me to compare the player behavior to what I see on Somerset. Guys in San José are clearly still excited to have cards and are perfectly willing to not only sign a ton but chat about what pens they prefer. A shame they lose that joy by the time they reach AA.

All in all a great night. San José Muni is celebrating its 80th birthday this season which sent me to the googles to see how many professional baseball stadiums in the US are older than it. From what I can tell there are 7 older stadiums (5 MiLB and 2 MLB) currently in regular use which is about what I expected.

Stadiums don’t really last that long and Muni is definitely showing its age. It’s almost embarrassingly bare bones compared to Trenton or Somerset but it’s got a lot of character and has definitely gone around to being funky old instead of just a dump (replacing the fiberglass bleachers with aluminum ones helped a ton) and as the Bay Area has gotten increasingly new and shiny and characterless it’s nice to spend time in those places that essentially haven’t changed.

Mailday from Bru

Found a nice PWE from Marc in my mailbox last week. School is over and summer has officially begun so it’s nice to start it off with some cards in the mail.

This isn’t the usual fare but as we’ve all stopped ripping new cards and sort of filled in the obvious collection items, I think we’re all casting about for other stuff to send each other. In this case, Marc has come into a good-sized lot of 1979 Topps cards and remembered that I had’t put together my Candlestick page for that set.

Being an Astros collector means that Marc has a decent number of cards feature The Stick in the background. These seven 1979s definitely complete my page and the 1980 Andujar doubles the 1980 Candlestick cards I own. Og these I like how the Lemongello shows off the black hole in center and how Cabell captures the left field bleachers and scoreboard.

All seven didn’t make my 1979 page but four of them definitely did. Once I get more than nine cards I try and spread things out to get different views and I definitely like how that page looks now.

The early-1980s needs work but I’ve not yet gone looking for cards here. It’s nice to have a complete page though even if it spans 1980–1985.

Marc also included two 1979 cards form the Jean-Michel Basquiat checklist. I enjoy the connection to the “real” art world and it’s a fun mini-PC to put together. Rather than digging through the comments of my SABR post I’ll list the checklist here.

  • Joe: Steve Henderson
  • Jerk: Bob Randall
  • Hot Dog: Steve Kemp
  • Wally: John Matlack
  • Bus Pass: Ed Glynn

These are the first two I own from that theme (I had a Steve Henderson but sent it out TTM a couple years ago and it never returned)

And yes even though we’re not ripping product Marc apparently is still. A handful of Donruss cards is very much appreciated, especially the Camilo Doval card since for whatever reason Topps isn’t featuring him. I’m not keen on this design but a least it’s very Donruss™ without being derivative.

Oh and the Diamond Kings card looks like a Diamond Kings card. I’m assuming it’s this year but I can never tell.

For a while I was considering only buying Donruss cards this year since boycotting MLB-licensed stuff is about the only way I can make a statement as a fan. But then I don’t buy anything anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

A couple Match Attax Barça cards. No idea where these are sold or if anyone plays the game but they’re a fun add to the non-baseball sports album. Ansu Fati in particular is on the cusp of becoming something great and I hop he realizes his potential. That #10 shirt is really heavy and, while I think they gave it to him too soon, the fact he wears it now says a ton about how he’s perceived in the team.

And lastly a Safe Hit Texas Vegetables crate label. Marc got a big batch of these and has been selling/distributing them. Not the kind of thing I actively collect but with Marc being in Texas I totally understand why he jumped on this.* It’s a cool image with a local angle and even the concept of “Texas Vegetables” evokes a weird combination of the Texas Leaguer with a Can of Corn.

*I’d be much more tempted if I came across a Best Strike Apple label since Watsonville is borderline Bay Area. But even then I try really hard to to get sucked into too many different collecting interests. 

I also had the weirdest reaction to this piece as a physical object in that my gut felt that it was fake but there’s jut enough going on that I can’t trust that gut reaction plus I don’t know a thing about how labels like these were typically printed. The thing is that my gut wants the text to be nice and crisp and it’s not. No crisp edges anywhere. The blacks and reds are screen mixes. All of these things are frequently tells that something has been photographed and reprinted.

But if the entire label including the text was painted as a single piece, this is exactly how it would look. Especially if printed slightly out out register the way this one is. Plus the small vertical “INC” in the bottom right corner is printed as linework which suggests it was added in after the original artwork was photographed for press. And there’s no sign of being rescreened anywhere on here.

Also, the paper, while slicker than I expected, is only slick on one side. Definitely doesn’t feel like paper you’d get today and is probably way cheaper than what you’d get from Vintagraph.*

*Worth noting that this version of the label has been restored and I suspect has had all the type re-set as linework so it prints crisply. 

Very cool stuff Marc. I was half expecting a Shawn Chacon custom for Trenton but it’s great to fill out more Candlestick pages.

Matchbooks

While I’ve been unable to find cards anywhere locally, Ebay is doing this thing where good deals on weird shit keep popping up. Previously it was Zeenuts and Venezuelans. This time it’s Diamond Matchbooks.

Diamond Matchbooks came out in the mid-1930s and are pretty cool. They feature a player* on one side and text about him on the other and, when printed well, can look pretty nice.  I’ve featured a pair of them earlier but this time I’m getting them with intent.

*Not just players, I’ve seen non-sport versions featuring cities, etc. too.

Aside from being neat little items, the matchbooks are affordable ways to collect vintage* cards of a player. Ernie Caddel has only one “real” football card and, as a beautiful National Chicle with that dreaded Rookie status attached to it, it runs in the hundreds of dollars. This 1938 matchbook, while not as nice, runs a couple orders of magnitude less and serves as a great addition to the Stanford album. It’s also nice that the text mentions Stanford plus the silver printing is pretty cool.

*I frequently use “vintage” to mean “playing-days.”

Caddel is an especially nice addition to the album because he actually went to Stanford on a baseball scholarship as a pitcher and only started playing football once he was on campus. I can find articles about him in the Stanfrod Daily archives but unfortunately can’t find any statistics for his time as a player.

I also don’t have a lot of Stanford pre-war so it’s always great to add another. I think I’m up to six cards now.

I also found a great small lot of baseball matchbooks. I wouldn’t have gotten this just except that Carl Hubbell was one of the included cards.

The whole group is fun though and it’s very nice to have an assortment of colors. The Hubbell and English cards are from  the 1935–36 “set” which makes this my oldest Hubbell card.* I love the back write-up which discusses both his 1933 and 1935 seasons as well as the fact that this essentially dates the card to releasing when Hubbell was at the height of his powers and in the midst of wining the National League MVP award.

*By a year over the Dixie lid.

English meanwhile only references 1935 on the back so it’s possibly from an earlier-printed group of these. It’s hard to call these a set of cards since they weren’t really cards. There was clearly a matchbook collecting ecosystem going on at the time though but I have no idea if there was a “collect them all” mentality or if it was just a living set of ephemera being printed on an otherwise disposable object.

I do like the amount of uniform detailing visible in English’s photo with the piped placket and wishbone C around the bear cub. The Jordan book also has a decent amount of uniform information in the photo albeit of a Braves uniform and not the Bees.* Kind of fun to have a card dating from the the five years they were the Bees but a shame that the photo still depicts the Braves.

*The fact that this lists the team name on both sides means it’s a 1937 release using a pre-1936 photo.

And that’s the latest Diamond Matchbooks news. I have six of them now including three Giants and one Stanford. They’re currently in Cardsavers and 4-pocket sheets but I can totally see switching to 6-pocket sheets if I come across more.

April Returns

April picked up where March left off with a flurry of returns in the beginning of the month and a couple nice spurts as my full pipeline paid off.

The first return of the month as Gary Nolan in 15 days. I found more duplicates from my 1978 set build but I had to send Nolan a Reds card as well since he was one of the primary pitchers for the Big Red Machine. It’s kind of amazing that he even got a 1978 card though since he retired in 1977.

On the topic of 1978 duplicates I also got a 15-day return from Stan Bahnsen aka the Bahnsen Burner. he most interesting thing when I looked him up was learning about and recoiling from Chuck Tanner’s pitcher usage in the 1970s. As much as modern bullpenning drives me nuts apparently I respond even worse to old-school “blow out your aces’s arms by pitching them as often as possible.”

Barry Foote was, for a while, a better catching prospect than Gary Carter before settling into a role as a career backup catcher. HE did however put together an eight-RBI game in 1980 which is a pretty cool accomplishment. This card was beat up when I sent it and didn’t get USPS’d in its 10-day round trip.

I got a nice 14-day return from Ed Ott who was a bit of a Pirates fan favorite before the Tony Peña years. I don’t normally send 1982 cards but with the different team I figured it would be more fun getting it signed than letting it just sit in a box.

Bobby Mitchell was the Trenton Thunder manager when I first started going to games. I wasn’t collecting autographs then (which means I missed out on Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres) but it was nice to write him and thank him for being part of what became a fun thing to do with my kids. He sent this back in 12 days.

Okay this is a fun one. While I’m not an A’s fan and didn’t even like them much when I was a kid, I also find myself remembering those late-80s, early-90s teams kind of fondly now. They were good and the players on them were definitely some of the big names in the Bay Area. So while I didn’t collect them much as a kid I definitely enjoy getting autographs from guys like Dave Stewart, Jose Canseco, and Terry Steinbach now.

Dennis Eckersley is definitely one of the key guys from those teams and he was as close as you could get to a force of nature in a few of those seasons. I had ton of options to send him but I went with a nice action image and a nice portrait. Very very happy to get these back in 15 days.

Mickey Weston appeared in five Major League seasons but never reached double digit games in any of them. He got the most work in 1989 and 1990 and ended up on cards from my peak collecting years a a result. He sent this back in 46 days and included a tract card as well.

I got a nice 5-return day mid-April with a great range of cards including one of my longest ever returns. This isn’t quite Max Venable’s length but Andrew Lorraine got a Stanford custom back to me in 664 days. I was just a kid when he started pitching at Stanford but his parents used to sit by us at Sunken Diamond. I got his autograph on the season ticket when he was a junior since he was one of the most-promising prospects that season.

A 27-day return from Darin Ruf brought some more spring training returns. His roster card is the always-fun dugout celebration but I especially like the card of him pitching. I hope he enjoyed it too; since he kept one of each custom I think he did. When I made it last year I was still in “this is going to be this kind of season” thinking and I could not have been more wrong.

Jim Kern is kind of the original “Fear the Beard” and even now has a great look for baseball cards. I had an extra 1981 but his 1982 photo captured the bear glory so well I had to send it too. These came back in 21 days.

Kern’s nickname is the wonderful “Amazing Emu” and he’s selling a book about his experiences with the Rangers. Given his status as a character in the game the books probably  decent read. I’m also wondering if anyone’s sent him an emu card to get autographed.

I’m not actively collecting father/son autograph combos but I decided it would be fun to send a duplicate card to John Mayberry Sr. and include a custom I made of his son. I’d watched Junior play at Stanford and have customs printed and ready to go if he ever starts signing. Senior kept the custom and sent my card back in 10 days.

And the last card of that 5-return day was the custom I made for SABR’s 2022 Burdick Award Winner. James Beckett is probably the most controversial pick we’ve made so far. He sits right on that fine line between promoting a common culture and creating a hegemony. For my generation his name and price guides bring back a ton of fond nostalgic memories and I’ve met countless people online who share those experience. Which is great.

The flip side of this is that many of my generation also still feels like there are certain rules to collecting—many of which have to do with value and playing the market. As much as Beckett is responsible for so much of what I loved about the hobby as a kid, he’s also responsible for why I was able to walk away. As an adult, I’ve chosen to focus on the good stuff and how he captured the zeitgeist of the excitement behind cards for over a decade and was happy to thank him for that.

It only took him 10 days to send my card back plus he included an extra 2005 Fan Favorites as well.

I’m pretty sure every rookie/prospect from 1990–1992 resonates with me. I was in junior high and we were all tuned in to every player who could be “invested” in. It’s only fitting that my first return after the Beckett return was one of those guys. Not a “dated rookie” with a ton of hype, just a good solid ballplayer who had a ton of potential. Sadly he’s one of those guys who just couldn’t stay healthy. I was happy to get these back in 33 days though.

I found myself with a few 1984 duplicates and decided to try sending those out. I don’t have a lot of 1984s signed since I’m thin on everything which predates 1986. Frank LaCorte began his career as a starter but found a good home in the Astros bullpen. He signed this in 12 days.

A 12-day return from Jack O’Connor added another signed 1984 card to the collection. For guy who played in parts of six major league seasons he didn’t get a lo of cards so I’m glad I had on of his available.

Back to 1986s this time with a 12 day return from Dave Van Gorder. He’s another guy who despite a handful of years in Major League Baseball only has cards in a couple of years. This time though one of the cards is from the first set which I collected and so all those cards and players bing me right back to my first year in the hobby.

I decided to send a request to Clay Dalrymple to thank him for being part of the Old Timer’s letterhead I got when I was ten. I need to have at leas one signed Phillies card from that group and this one looks really nice signed. He sent this back in 10 days.

I’m not sure how the only Jim Slaton duplicate I had was from 1978 but I’m glad I had one of him as a Brewer since he’s the franchise leader in wins and innings pitched. He sent this back in 16 days.

The same day I got the Jim Slaton return I got another 16-day return on a 1978 card from Bill Atkinson. I’ve come to really appreciate the 1978 design with autographs and the handful of action cards like this one work especially  well signed.

Mike Caldwell is one of my favorite autograph stories. He was the coach of the Campbell Fighting Camels who cinderella’d their way into the NCAA tournament in 1990. I managed to track down his 1976 Topps card before their game at Sunken Diamond and it was a lot of fun to surprise him with it after the game.

He’s a good TTM guys so I figured it would be fun to thank him for being so cool 32 years ago. I figured it made sense to include a Brewers card seeing how he’s one of the more successful pitchers in their history. He didn’t respond to my note but did sign both cards in 32 days.

I wasn’t able to keep my pipeline full over the course of this month so things ind of trickled off ion the last couple weeks. A combination of he kids being on spring break, getting my 2022 Giants Customs up and running, and dental issues ended up taking my focus. I’ll hopefully get up and running again soon and with any luck other returns will continue to straggle in.

Opening Day from Bru

I guess it’s not officially baseball season until I get a mailday from Marc. Not only has he been pointing out Ebay auctions he’s also still coming up with cards despite going on two years of product being impossible to find.

While the bulk of the package was my usual collecting interests (Stanford and Giants) we’ll start off with this 1965 Topps Stan Williams. Cleveland purchased his contract on March 30 1965 and as a result, Topps clearly didn’t have a photo of him in an Indians uniform. Even though this is a fifth series card and came out later in the season (probably July) it was still too soon to get an updated photo.

While they didn’t touch the Yankees uniform, Williams’s cap is a much different story with the NY logo being blacked out. Sloppily blacked out. The further upstream you can do these fixes the better and this fix is about as far downstream as you can go with a black NY that looks like it was scribbled on to either the black film separation when burning the plate or the actual plate itself during printing.

The tell in this case is that the NY is 100% black. If it had been done before doing the color separations it would be some kind of four-color mix. Instead it’s solid black which is why it looks so weird on the card.

Moving to the Stanford section of the mailing with a nice selection of guys who are currently active as well as a few non-baseball options. A decent number of new cards to me here, especially the non-Topps options like the Mosaic Edman and minor league Helling. I also hadn’t added that Bob Mathias card despite having other Olympic cards.

With Heritage being increasingly boring it’s nice to see that Lowrie and Hoerner got interesting examples this year with Lowrie’s horizontal card being one of the better ones in the set.  Also it’s always fun to add a couple Elways to the collection.

The last Stanford card is a very cool signed Adam Keefe. Marc apparently got this TTM a couple decades ago and decided it didn’t fit his collection anymore. I’m very happy to add it to mine. Keefe wasn’t a star but he put together a decent NBA career and I enjoyed his years in Utah as the “Garbage Man” to Karl Malone’s “Mailman” who was responsible for cleaning up the boards and and putting trash shots back into the basket.

Moving to the Giants and starting off with a selection of junk era cards. I almost missed the most interesting thing here but three of the 1995 Flair cards are in fact missing the silver foil stamping. Those cards are so shiny it’s easy to overlook that the player and team names are missing.

What’s cool is that you can see a ghost image of where that foil was supposed to go. While this could be intentional so that the foil doesn’t pick up any of the textures on the card, given the difficulty of registering foil stamping I almost want to suggest that something went wrong, the stamping ran out of silver foil for a few sheets, and the resulting ghost image was an inadvertent almost deboss.

Last batch of cards are current-day Giants. As with before the non-Topps cards are always welcome. The Topps cards meanwhile will go into the for the kids pile. Well except for the foil Archives “Big mini” or “mini Big” Buster Posey. That’s staying in my collection in part because I’m a Topps Big fanboy but also because I’m fascinated by Topps’s choices for which parts of the cards would get opaque white ink and which parts would let the foil impact the image. Definitely not the choices I would’ve made but they say a lot about what parts of the card Topps considers to be important .

Very cool stuff. I’m long overdue on a reply mailing but I’m also long overdue on buying cards in general.