Category Archives: Stanford

@mjpmke’s Update purge

While Matt has helped me with my Update set before, he recently decided that he was done with the whole Update concept and was going to be shedding the last decade of Update cards. I get it, Update’s one of those sets that needs to be strongly defined in order to make any sense. Is it a set of highlights to summarize the season which just ended? Is it intended to correct players in the flagship set who changed teams or weren’t on the roster at all when Topps locked the checklist the previous January? Is it a celebration of players who made their debuts in the season? Is it a celebration of players who made the All Star team that season?

Currently the answer to all of those is a resounding “kind of.” Are all of those elements in Update. Yes. Does Topps do any of them well? No.

I still enjoy Update though at least from a team collector point of view since the Giants aren’t a team that Topps either short-changes or over-emphasizes on the checklists. And I like the idea of completing the 2017 set because it marks my return to the hobby and represents the first set that I purchased packs of with my son. So when Matt put out a “shoot me your wantlists” call I sent him my set needs and mentioned I’d be interested in any other Giants as well.

So a few weeks ago* a box of cards showed up in my mailbox and inside was a bunch of Update and a bunch of other goodies.

*I received so many mailings at the end of the school year that I’m running weeks behind.

I’ll start with the unexpected stuff. Buried inside the Giants cards were a bunch of cards of Stanford guys for my Stanford project. I think these kill my Update needs for 2010–2017. It’s always fun when trading partners remember who the Stanford guys are. Unlike with team collecting, keeping the Alumni names in mind is the kind of task that I don’t expect anyone to be able to do. That Matt has cards from a half-dozen different guys is pretty impressive.

There was also a lot of pre-2010 Giants stuff. On the top of that pile though were these two autographs. I gather that Matt did a fair amount of non-Brewers through-the-mail requests before focusing his collection on his All-time Brewers project. Garrelts and Dravecky are two semi-obscure guys who happen to be near and dear to my heart though since they come from the Giants teams I learned to love baseball with. Heck I mention each by name in my remembrance of Candlestick post.

Garrelts is one of just four players* who played 10+ years in the Majors and only played for the Giants. I have fond memories of him both being great in terms of signing everything I had in Philadelphia as well as being a solid starter who I saw almost pitch a no-hitter.

*Also on the list, Jim Davenport, Robby Thompson, and Matt Cain. I’m tempted to try and get signed 8×10s of each of them since I’m already half-way there (I have Davenport and Thompson). The hardest part of this project idea is that I can’t find any Garrelts 8×10s available anywhere.

Dravecky meanwhile was our ace whose cancer comeback game in 1989 is still the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever watched. I’ve been to bigger and more important games but I’ve never been in a crowd which was so into the game. Every pitch, every moment was important and none of us knew what to expect.

The rest of the Giants goodies included a bunch of 1993 Topps Gold—a set I’ve always liked—as well as an assortment of other 1990s stuff. Leaf Limited is one of those sets I’m surprised that I like. Sportflics (sorry, Sportflix now) is always great fun. I’m not sure how Matt keeps coming across Pacific cards but those are always appreciated.

2010–2016 Update cards and more Gold cards continue to fill in some holes left over from RobbyT’s huge mailing. The 2015 Gold card of Chris Heston’s no-hitter is probably my favorite of this batch. Also that 1954-designed Madison Bumgarner Topps Archives card amuses me since his signature includes #22—a number he’s never worn in the Giants organization. Twitter suggests this was a signature lifted from the 2006 National Showcase but I’m still shaking my head at Topps not just deleting the uniform number.

And a last handful of Giants cards. I did not have the Postseason Celebration card for the 2014 World Series so that’s a lot of fun. And the 1960-designed McCovey is both fun and infuriating in how it shows both the potential of Archives in re-imagining cards from the past as well as the pitfalls in not being true to the original design. In this case it really bothers me that the name text isn’t fully-justified.

This image also brings us to the bulk of the mailday—namely 2017 Update. Matt’s mailing took me to 297/300 complete for the set* which is far better than I ever expected to get.

*Depending on how you count I could actually have 295/300 or 298/300 complete instead. I’m missing cards 96 (Brett Phillips), 193 (Orlando Arcia), and 269 (Craig Kimbrel). I also have two other slots—172 (Jason Hammel) and 257 (Alex Wood)—filled with Gold or Foil parallel versions of the cards. And I do actually have card number 269—only I have the Pedro Martinez variant rather then the guy who’s actually in the checklist.

Looking through these cards and I’m starting to wonder how I want to break them down into pages. Right now of course everything’s by-the-number. But since the set is complete aside from the Brewers I can think about how I want to split things up. I’m always inclined to put the Traded and Rookies with the rest of the team but the All Star, home Run Derby, Highlights, and Debut cards are a different beast.

Anyway I’ll have the summer to think about it. Probably longer since unpaging a set and re-sorting it is the kind of thing I’ll backburner for a long time. But this confirms that I won’t be going after Update again this year. Yes on the Giants. Probably yes on the rest of the cards which would’ve been part of the Traded sets form the 1980s. But I’m not feeling it with rest of this set. Too much rookies and stars bloat for my taste and not enough difference in the All Stars and things to be fun.

Still I’m very happy to have this one essentially complete. It’s a wonderful way to close out my first full year back in the hobby and it’s nice that it comes via trade since exchanging cards over Twitter has turned out to be the best thing about the latest incarnation of the hobby.

packfiller

To fill out the package and protect the other cards from moving, Matt tossed in a dozen or so dummy cards. These don’t warrant too much discussion but I’m amused that they’re mostly all checklists.

I’ll readily admit that I never gave much thought to the checklists when I was a kid. I didn’t like pulling them in packs and even now I feel weird specifically purchasing them whether as part of a set chase or as an extension of my team sets search.* At the same time not having them in the sets also feels wrong.

*A few of the 1960s checklists feature Giants players.

As cards that I never really looked at, seeing a dozen of them all together kind of forced me to take a closer look. I’d never noticed that the 1989 Topps checklists called back to the 1979 design before. I never realized that the 1990 Topps checklists were organized by team. I’m amused that the Donruss Diamond Kings checklist includes the Diamond king ribbon. And I’m kind of appalled at the computer-generated graphics on the Stadium Club checklists.

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Mailday from Bru!

So it seems like the end of the school year is peak mailday season. The same week I got packages from Mark, Otto, and Tim, I found a package from Marc (@marcbrubaker) in my mailbox. This package was very similar in composition to his previous package in that it was mostly Giants odds and ends but also a dozen Stanford guys.

We’ll go in the opposite order this time and start with the Stanford guys. Well. Stanford guys and Jay Bell who’s not a Stanford guy but now that I have an autographed card of him milking a cow I guess I’ve been marked as a Jay Bell collector. That Classic 4-Sport of Andrew Lorraine is a card and set I’ve never seen before. I don’t go out of my way to get cards in Stanford uniforms but it’s certainly fun to have a couple of them in my album.

And it’s not surprising that I get a lot of Stanford Astros. Al Osuna, being from peak junk wax years has a ton of cards that I’m sure just multiply in Marc’s boxes. I’m especially digging the 93 Ultra card even though for a moment I thought it was a 92 Ultra card that I already had.*

*92 and 93 Ultra as well as 93 Donruss correspond to the “we just got computers so check out these computer-generated bevelled edges” school of early-90s card design. This is not to be confused with the “we just got computers so check out these computer-generated rock textures,” the “we just got computers so check out these computer-generated gradients” or the “we just got computers so check out these computer-generated drop shadows” schools. Those years when any ray-tracing was amazing just because a computer could do it are important to remember at how we were so easily overawed by the esthetics of technology.

1990s Giants. Some junk wax but a lot of post-strike stuff as well as a few samples from sets I liked but never acquired a lot of. I’m looking at 1993 Studio here since I really like the design with the cap logo background and the foil signature. Looking at those also makes me wistful for those old Giants caps with the flat-stitched cap logos.

Believe it or not this is my first 1997 Topps Giants card. I’ve been super negligent on filling in post-strike holes so almost everything here 1994-on is new to me. That 1995 Score design is wonderfully 1990s and totally brings me back to high school.

And most of these names are all names I remember from my youth. Yes even Rikkert Faneyte. Kirt Manwaring never had a bad baseball card. Royce Clayton and Jose Uribe are sentimental favorites. Greg Litton was briefly relevant again for being the most-recent Giants position player to pitch before Pablo Sandoval did it this season.

A batch of early-2000s cards (plus some 1999s that didn’t fit in the previous photo). That these are mostly Jeff Kent makes me sense a Texas connection. The Pacific Omega is a brand new set to me. As is that 1980s-feeling Fleer Platinum (which I kind of dig) and that weird Upper Deck Play Ball card (which just weirds me out).

A big batch of 2015 and 2016 cards. The 2015 set is seriously growing on me. It gave me big time HDR vibes when I first saw them but compared to the sets which have followed it, I’m loving it more and more each day. That’s also a nice sample of players with Scutaro being a Giants legend based on the 2012 playoffs and Petit and Vogelsong being heroes of the 2014 playoff run.

Those Panini/Donruss cards are my first examples of that set. Non-licensing is weird and while I like the references to classic Donruss these feel like a super-glossy oddball release rather than a real set. Opening Day is nice to have since I never buy it. Same with Archives though I do love that 1991 design. I wish Heritage avoided the colored jerseys* since this would otherwise look pretty sharp. I also just noticed that—and am really confused at how—Topps didn’t print a keyline around the photo on the Fence Busters card.

*Something Topps finally figured out this year.

Moving on to a few cards of special interest. Metal Universe is a set I’ve seen pictures of but was thoroughly confused by. I’m kind of happy to have one in person to confirm that the photos were mostly accurate. Mostly because they fail to demonstrate how rainbowy and shiny this card is in person. But other than that they do capture the general WTFness of this set.

I have no idea WTF is going on with this card. It’s so bad that it’s good and I can see how people want more of them even while the rational part of my brain recoils at the thought.

The MLB Showdown collectible card game card really interests me as a concept. In many ways this is what should’ve become the Living Set as a set of cards that’s released like Pokémon and intended to either be played or collected as part of a never-ending set of new releases.

In reality it appears that this game was released each year as a new set. The card backs are different from year to year and as a result, the idea of being able to put a multi-year deck together isn’t something this product does. In other words, it’s more like a set of baseball cards than a set of game cards. Una lástima.

I’m including the 2014 Allen & Ginter card here because, while I don’t care too much for Ginter in general, I do find myself liking this particular set. I’ve finally figured out that it’s because of the gold spot ink that Topps used for the detailing. In most of the Ginter sets, Topps does the text and linework with process inks—this works mostly well with stochastic screening, very much less well with traditional—so it’s nice to see them do it right with a spot ink. Using the gold ink is just a nice extra touch.

My first 2016 Stadium Clubs. Yeah this is a nice set. The cards just feel so much nicer than anything else aside from perhaps the Panini Diamond Kings. The photography is nice too although based on these samples, 2017 looks to be extraordinarily good even among Stadium Club releases.

The main thing I like here is that Topps adjusted the design to be somewhat centered (actually just a half-inch left-hand margin) on vertical cards and aligned left on horizontal cards. While I’m not one of those guys who hates mixed-orientation sets, I do like it when the difference in the layouts feels considered rather than an awkward attempt to make the vertical design work in a different layout.

Also I do like it when cards are willing to show the player in positions where we can’t see his face. The Duffy card doesn’t work as well as the Crawford card here but the variety is a nice change of pace from the standard baseball card look.

And last but not least, a few 2018 Bowmans including two of the newest Giants. Neither McCutchen or Longoria made it into the flagship set as Giants. Longoria has shown up in a few sets since but this is Cutch‘s first official Giants card from Topps. He’s definitely found his footing in San Francisco and I can see how he was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh.

Thanks Bru! This was a fun way to end the school year and start my summer.

Mailday from Gavin

Came back from Easter weekend to find a small mailday from Gavin (@breakdowncards) at Baseball Card Breakdown. Gavin’s got a bunch of interesting collections going on and it so happened that some of my duplicates meshed well with his needs.

Main item in the mailer was this cool 1960 Giants team card. 1960 is the oldest team set which I’m “close” to finishing. After this team card I’m down to high numbers, Willie Mays, and the Willie McCovey rookie on the list of what I need. Since I don’t expect to get any of those soon it’s nice to send the rest of the set into long-term stalking mode.

Gavin also sent a couple dozen 2017 Update needs. Always nice to get closer to finishing this (I didn’t feel like spending the money to build this from packs) and I’m close to 60% complete now.

There are also two 2002 Upper Deck Minor League cards in here. It’s always nice to get anything related to the San José Giants. And it’s funny. I’ll always think of the Giants Short-Season A affiliate as being Everett but I know it’s really Salem Keizer. It’s just a shame those cards aren’t more interesting than being a logo since a San Jose Municipal Stadium card would be a lot of fun.

And it wouldn’t be a proper Gavin mailday if there weren’t a fun custom card included. In my case I got to add my first John Elway card to my Stanford binder. While crossing a name off is fun, the Stanford project is also one which rewards getting that first card too.

There have been a few Elway baseball cards over the years but I’ve not gotten around to getting any of them (though I do have some on my searchlist). The focus has been on guys who played baseball and as much as I’ve turned the corner to look for more odd cards and flesh out the searchlist beyond Topps, I’ve not gotten into any of the football players like Elway, Toby Gerhart, Toi Cook, and Tyler Gaffney who really spend much time, if any, in professional baseball.

Very cool. Thanks Gavin! The other custom work-in-progress you included with the CONFIDENTIAL stamp looks promising too.

Turning the corner

Recently I’ve written about my projects and even provided an update on how my Giants project is stabilizing. Yet it’s my Stanford project which has changed the most since I originally started working on it.

The original scope of my project was to stick to the “cards of record”—Topps and pre-monopoly Bowman—and try and assemble a collection of Stanford players as they’ve been represented there. That project has come along extremely well. Looking at my wantlist shows that I currently need 41 cards to complete this goal. Of those 41 cards, many should be easy but there are a few challenges remaining.

Some of those challenges are in the same rookies and high number realm that my Giants project is stabilizing around. Thankfully the only truly expensive card is the 1962 Doug Camilli rookie which runs over $100 because Bob Uecker is also on it. The rest of the rookie and high number cards I’m missing from 1964 to 1973 are all under $20 with most of them close to $5. Not a big deal but since all the cards I’ve been getting so far are in the 5¢ to $1 range* we’re talking about an order of magnitude increase in price.

*Most between 10¢ and 20¢ because many of the generous people who I’ve had nothing to respond with have had Sportlots storefronts with a decent number of 18¢ cards on my searchlist. If I can’t send a package back I’ll at least try to shop within the community.

Other challenges are cards which I’ve included as part of the greater Topps family but which aren’t actually from the Flaghip/Traded/Update family of releases. So sets like Major League Debut are often a challenge but the even harder ones are the Team Set releases since those are both regional and unlikely to be broken up.

Aside from the challenges, since there’s not much left in terms of the original scope of the project, I’ve gone ahead and added oddballs and Spanish-language cards to my search list. As I noted in my “about my projects” post I’m using my Stanford project as a way of focusing my other interests. Many of those are also reaches but they’ve allowed me to at least have semi-feasible cards for players like Bert Delmas, Jim Hibbs, Bob Kammeyer, or Rick Lundblade.

Which means that I’m also very close to also completing the goal of having one card for all the Stanford Baseball alumni. There are currently 18 guys on my list who I don’t have cards for. Five of them never had either a Major League card or a Minor League card which was released nationwide. Three of them are only on hard-to-find pre-war cards.* And four of them never made it to the Majors.

*I’ve added the pre-war cards to the searchlist mainly out of a sense of completeness. I do not plan to ever get them or even really look for them so these are as close to the White Whale school of card collecting that I’ll ever get. But it’s nice to know they exist and if a reprint is ever made of any of those releases I’ll be interested.

So that leaves six players—the four mentioned earlier plus Jason Middlebrook and Ron Witmeyer—for me to focus on adding to my binder as I turn the corner on this project and enter the filling-in-holes and expanding-the-scope stage.

The step after this is to take a good look at each player and see if I’ve properly covered his career. It’ll nice to have a card for each team he played for but that’s after I turn the next corner. And hopefully the oddball quest will have covered 90% of that already when I get there.

PC Madness

One of the side effects of this project is that it’s turned me into a bit of a multiple-PC (player collector) guy. I’m not trying to get every card ever made but things happen and yeah, I’ve got some semi-extensive PCs contained within this project.

Bob Boone leads the way with ~70 cards but he’s likely to be surpassed at some point by Mike Mussina who’s at ~60 cards and counting. That these two lead the pack is a testament to the length of their careers, the number of cards being released while they were playing, and the fact that they were both prominent players on their teams.

Other players whose counts in the binder have crossed the threshold into being PC-level collections are Jack McDowell (~50 cards), Jeffrey Hammonds (~45 cards), and Ed Sprague (~40 cards). Again, I’m not actively PCing anyone here but the nature of this beast is that cards show up in care packages and the like and eventually I just have a bunch of them. Especially when it’s a player who’s played a long time.

Lists

Since I mentioned a lot of lists and groups earlier I figure it’s a good idea to enumerate them as state-of-the-project sort of snapshot.

High Number, rookie, and other “spendy” Topps cards remaining:

  • Doug Camilli 1962 Topps #594
  • Bill Wakefield 1964 Topps #576
  • Jim Lonborg 1965 Topps #573
  • Doug Camilli 1966 Topps #593
  • Jim Lonborg 1967 Topps #371
  • Jim Lonborg 1968 Topps #460
  • Jim Lonborg 1970 Topps #665
  • Jim Lonborg 1971 Topps #577
  • Steve Dunning 1972 Topps #658
  • Steve Hovley 1972 Topps #683
  • Bob Boone 1973 Topps #613

Team set and other harder-to-find Topps releases remaining:

  • John Ramos 1992 Topps Gold/Winner #658
  • John Ramos 1992 Topps Debut #142
  • Ron Witmeyer 1992 Topps Debut #187
  • Donny Lucy 2004 Topps Draft Picks #2
  • John Hudgins 2005 Topps Factory Set #2
  • Jeffrey Hammonds 2005 Topps Washington Nationals #45
  • Erik Davis 2010 Topps Pro Debut #67
  • John Mayberry Jr 2010 Topps Philadelphia Phillies #PHI9

Players who are not represented in my binder:

  • Johnny Ash
  • Dave Baker
  • Jeremy Bleich
  • Steve Davis
  • Bert Delmas
  • John Elway
  • Jim Hibbs
  • Mark Jecmen
  • Bob Kammeyer
  • Rick Lundblade
  • Bill McGilvray
  • Jason Middlebrook
  • Cord Phelps
  • Tillie (Arthur) Shafer
  • Harvey Shank
  • Charlie Swindells
  • Zeb Terry
  • Ron Witmeyer

White Whale cards for this project:

  • Bert Delmas 1909–11 Obak T212
  • Bill McGilvray 1910 Old Mill Cigarettes T210 #550
  • Tillie (Arthur) Shafer 1912 General Baking D304
  • New York Giants (including Tillie Shafer) 1913 Fatima Teams T200
  • Zeb Terry 1917 Collins-McCarthy E135 #171
  • Zeb Terry 1917 Zeenut
  • Zeb Terry 1921 E121 American Caramel
  • Zeb Terry 1922 E121 American Caramel
  • Ernie Nevers 1929 Zeenut
  • Ernie Nevers 1930 Zeenut
  • Doug Camilli 1962 Topps #594

 

More 2018s from Tony

Tony is one of the first guys I became friends with on baseball card twitter. He runs two card blogs, his main blog is Off Hiatus and covers his Milwaukee and Brewers collecting focus. His second though, Collecting the 80s, covers 1980s oddballs and it’s in oddball land that we’ve had a lot of fun.

One of the best parts of collecting cards in the 80s and early 90s was how so many different food products, magazines, etc had cards in them. Many of these releases were extremely regional and it’s been really interesting to compare notes with other collectors around the country to discover what cards and sets they grew up with and how different those were compared to what I grew up with.*

*I’ve posted previously about Mother’s Cookies both on SABR and my own blog.

I’ve been meaning to put a trade package together for Tony but it’s been really hard. Most of my duplicates are from the peak junk wax days of the late 80s and early 90s. And the fact that Tony’s collecting focus happens to be the Brewers means I haven’t been able to come across any new cards to send him either. It’s rough out there if you support a “small market” team. Topps is increasingly focusing its new products on big-name teams and players and while I understand the business reasons for this it also feels extremely shortsighted since there are plenty of baseball fans out there who hate the big market teams and are getting increasingly tired of the dominance of Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers cards.

Tony proudly identifies as a member of that group and has been pretty vocal with Topps about how disappointed he is with their new products and wouldn’t be buying any of them. so of course he won a free box of 2018 Series 1 cards. And of course I found myself laughing at him about it. He got a decent box with a good number of Brewers cards in it. But even after getting a huge head start on the set he decided to stick to his guns and get rid of all the cards he didn’t want.

He was gracious enough to send me his Giants* so now I have seven of the Giants cards in Series 1. Since Peter sent me a couple of Poseys and Cuetos already I now have enough duplicates now to give my sons their first 2018 cards without causing any sibling strife.

*I need to figure out what black magic he used to send a bubble mailer for a buck.

I remain impressed by the photography in this set. It’s noticeably more varied and seems less preoccupied in getting extreme exertion faces and more about catching details like what grip the pitcher is using.

Also, hello Christian Arroyo. We hardly knew you and now you’re already gone. I have such mixed feelings about those orange jerseys. I love them as jerseys by themselves. They really pop on the card. But I hate them as part of the official uniform (though they’re worlds better than the black jerseys).

My favorite card of the batch is the Brandon Belt. First, this year’s design works way better in horizontal formats than previous years’ designs did. It doesn’t feel like the graphic is eating up half the card and the ground fog effect is much much more subtle. I still wish they’d stop using that filter though. What I’m most interested in though is the photograph and how it’s clearly shot from the stands rather than the photographers’ well next to the field.

Looking at the other photos from that game shows that this is the only one shot at that angle. I’m really curious what the photographer was doing to get this shot. Or perhaps there’s something really weird down the first base line at Petco that I’m not familiar with.

Tony also included a Stephen Piscotty card for my Stanford binder. Between this card and the Jed Lowrie from Peter, my Stanford checklist for Series 1 is already all checked off. It’ll be interesting to see who shows up in Series 2. And I do expect to see another Piscotty card in Update showing him with the A’s.

Thanks Tony! One of these days I’ll get enough Brewers cards to send you a thank you package in return.

First 2018s

While I have yet to get any new packs of 2018 Topps, I’ve been encouraged by the generally positive reaction I’m seeing across the web and have been feeling increasingly curious about what they actually look like in hand. I was initially hesitant about buying any new product and since my local Target hasn’t had any in stock, I haven’t even had a choice about whether or not buy.

Thankfully though I didn’t have to wait for my local Target to even get anything in stock. Peter at Baseball Every Night couldn’t resist busting a few packs to celebrate the new season and was kind enough to send me a plain white envelope of cards he didn’t want.

So these two Giants count as my first 2018 cards. I’m still not feeling the waterslide design but I appreciate that it’s less intrusive than previous years’ designs and fits the full-bleed look much better. The photography is also noticeably more interesting. Cueto’s is most-similar to previous years’ shots of slightly-too-closely-cropped action but I love the detail where it looks like we can see he probably just threw a circle change.

Posey’s is a little oddly cropped for me. Topps still likes to center players within the card rather than suggesting movement within the frame. All too often you can see in the original images that there’s plenty of space for a more dynamic framing. The photo of Posey is no exception. I want to move him a quarter inch to the right, get the full mask in the frame, and give him space to look into. Still, the shot itself is more interesting than the usual full-exertion swing we’ve had the past years.

Peter was nice enough to include doubles of these so my kids will also get a chance to start their 2018 card collection without having to spend money or, if they do, be disappointed if they don’t get any Giants in their packs.

Jed Lowrie is part of my Stanford project. I like this card a lot. Again a more interesting image with lots of small details—like the extra pair of gloves in his back pocket—to notice.

And yeah, the fronts of these are very nice and suggest that there’s a lot more variety in the photo selections this year. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these cards over the next few months.

The backs though? Sigh. I didn’t scan anything because they’re pretty boring. I miss having complete stats. My 8-year-old even complains about this. He wants to know where the players have played each year they’ve been in the majors (and ideally, each year in the minors too). It’s funny, I liked the stats when I was a kid.  He, however, likes the story about where in the country each player has played and how the different minor league levels fit into the club organization.

Also, the huge amount of space devoted to twitter and instagram handles is going to age horribly. I know it’s a little silly to complain about the future of these cards but at the same time, much of the allure of this hobby is how it’s part of a history of card collecting. There aren’t many things now that kids can share with their grandparents this way* and those social media handles won’t age nearly as well as the cartoons from the 1950s have.

*As much as I make old man jokes this is what I love about the hobby too.

The last card is a Buster Posey insert. I’m increasingly disenchanted by all the inserts. Yes, I guess I’m glad that they’re inserts instead of yet another set to buy, but the explosion in insert sets was something that helped to push me out of the hobby 25 years ago. There are just so many of them now that most of the people in the hobby who I follow now just mail them to whoever they know collects that team.

I’ve tended to pull Dodgers inserts and have sent them off to Night Owl. Peter seems to get Giants one so I’m the lucky beneficiary. It’s good. They end up in my Giants album and I enjoy them there. But they’re just not something I’m excited to pull from a pack. The inserts are almost invariably over-designed and as I’ve gotten older I find myself liking cards for the photography more than a anything else.

Stanford Project

While focusing on Giants team sets is something I foresaw when I felt myself being pulled back into the hobby, I quickly found that I was interested in anther project—namely collecting cards of Stanford Alumni.

Stanford was the local college team I grew up with and is my alma mater. I used to love going to games and getting autographs from the players. I only stopped when I became a teenager and the age difference started to feel too close.  I realized that there was a high probability of my going to a different college and so I figured continuing to be a Stanford fanboy wasn’t the wisest course of action. When I did get in and attend Stanford, it just felt weird to treat classmates that way. And then once I got older than the players it felt even weirder.

Getting back into card collecting made me realize that searching for cards of the guys I went to school with would be a fun project that could help me get more acquainted with the baseball card landscape that I missed after I quit in 1994. Since I’ve got all of 1987–1993 covered as well as a decent amount of 1986 and 1994, I also figured that I may as well include the guys who played before 1986 as well. So I put together a list and have even received some maildays already as a result.

I’m concentrating on Topps (and 1948–1955 Bowman) as the cards of record here. I’m not against or excluding cards from other brands, it’s just that they’ve often had their own distinct niches and I don’t feel like growing the wantlist that much yet.

Also, any players who predate 1948 Bowman are outside the scope of this due to there not being a proper card of record then. Though yes, getting a Bert Delmas Obak card* or an Ernie Nevers Zeenut card would be awesome even though they’re not even Major League cards.**

*Such as the one at The Met.

**I do have the Conlon Collection Nevers card however.

I’m also focusing on distinct Stanford people which is why I haven’t included Bobby Brown (despite him being in the Stanford Hall of Fame). It’s not just that his cards are a bit more spendy because they carry the Yankees surcharge. He also only played for Stanford for one year and ended up playing for two more schools before he went pro.

And there’s a grey area of baseball guys who went into football (Elway, Lynch, Hutchinson, Gerhart, Gaffney) which I should think about. I wouldn’t want a complete set of football cards of these guys but including a few of them might be fun.

Anyway, I figured it would be fun to start this project off by getting cards from the 1950s. This is a decade from which I had zero cards when I was a kid and so I get a little giddy still when I handle any of these. Also, there appear to be only four guys on the list who played in the 1950s. I bought three of them but decided to leave Chuck Essegian for the 1960s.

Lloyd Merriman

Lloyd Merriman 1950 Bowman Lloyd Merriman 1950 Bowman
Lloyd Merriman 1951 Bowman Lloyd Merriman 1951 Bowman
Lloyd Merriman 1953 Bowman Lloyd Merriman 1952 Bowman
Lloyd Merriman 1955 Bowman Lloyd Merriman 1955 Bowman

I’ve been a Topps only guy for ages so these are also the first vintage Bowman cards I’ve ever had. They’re fun. Printing is nice. It’s interesting to see how different the backs are compared to what I’m used to from Topps. I particularly love how the backs specifically mention Stanford—especially because these stem from a time before Stanford had become the academic powerhouse it is today.

Lloyd Merriman is also a nice throwback to when players routinely went off and did other things. That he was away in the military for a few years explains the gap between his 1952 and 1955 card. I’m a bit sad that I didn’t have an excuse to get a 1953 Bowman card but I’ll figure one out eventually.

Jack Shepard

Jack Shepard 1955 Topps
Jack Shepard 1955 Topps

Jack Shepard is an other example of a player doing more than just baseball. He continued his education in the offseason while he was playing pro ball and ended up going into business instead. As a result he has only one Topps card from his career.

Dave Melton

Dave Melton 1958 Topps Dave Melton 1958 Topps

Dave Melton on the other hand only played a dozen games in the big leages and spent most of his career bouncing around the Pacific Coast League. I do enjoy though that this card does double duty as both a Stanford Alumni card and as a sample of the Kansas City Athletics project I mentioned last week.

Anyway I wrote this post a while ago* and I’ve since acquired a bunch more Stanford Alumni cards. Many of them are more-recent players as I’ve been using this project as a method of catching up on the 1995–2016 baseball card landscape that I missed when I was away from the hobby. But I’m also gradually filling in the 1960s and 1970s guys and hope to be able to put together more posts like this as the project progresses.

*I blog in spurts and schedule them out well in advance.