Category Archives: Stanford

Merry Christmas from Marc

The last mailer I received last week was yet another box of cards from Marc. Where Artie had gotten ahold of my Giants searchlist, Marc had found my setbuilding list and realized he could do significant damage to my junk wax set builds—specifically 1990 Upper Deck and 1991 Donruss.

Junk wax sets builds are really the best thing for trading. Most of us have tons of duplicates and there’s no real reason to keep them around. The hardest thing is finding someone who’s building a set since so many people already have them completed or can just buy a factory set for, at most, the same price as a wax box.* As someone who’s never built a set before though it’s great to have a list out there that people are happy to be able to contribute to and get some unneeded cards off their hands.

*Why build? For me a lot of it is finishing builds I’d started as a child. Plus the experience of getting to know a set over time rather than sitting down and sorting the entire thing all at once is very different.

With the 1990 Upper Decks Marc had almost 200 that I needed. I’m now at 751/800 on that build.

Marc also found almost 100 1991 Donruss cards that I needed. In addition to finishing off my Giants team set I’m now at 747/770 complete there.

Now it’s a race to see which I finish first between 1978 Topps, 1986 Topps, 1990 Fleer, 1990 Upper Deck, and 1991 Donruss. They’re all super close. 1978 has the advantage and disadvantage of being the only one which I’d want to purchase singles of to finish though. Yes this is more expensive but none of the other sets have any cards that are worth enough for buying singles to be worth it.* They’re too complete for buying packs to be worth it either. So there’s a very real likelihood that I’ll have those uncompleted for a long time.

*When I get down to the last couple cards though I’ll probably give up and just buy them.

Still, there’s something fun about having all the set builds hit 90% complete and that page to shrink to an extremely reasonable size.

Marc seemed to recognize that this would happen so he also included just enough 2014 Topps to take me over the 50% mark and get me to move it to my set build page. It’s still heavily Series 1 but a build is a build and it’s nice to get some of the bigger-name players out of the way.

The Pujols card in particular is especially nice and shows how nice this set looks with colored uniforms.

Of course, Marc being Marc couldn’t leave it at that. He included a bunch of assorted Giants. The Conlon McGraw is wonderful. That Select Cory Snyder photo is something else. The Metal Universe Bonds is downright sedate compared to other Metal Universe designs I’ve seen and I like having the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. And 1998 Stadium Club is kind of a clusterfuck of post-press indiscipline with three different colors of foil stamping plus embossing.

The 2018 cards are quite welcome and represent the sets I refuse to purchase. I like that Marc sends me Fire one at a time. I’m not I could handle a huge batch of them. Same thing goes with Gypsy Queen actually; one or two in a mailing is fine but a whole batch of them would give me the Photoshop disaster eyetwitches.

Chrome meanwhile is a set I still don’t like but am becoming increasingly intrigued by ever since Robby T pointed out that they’re printed wrong-reading. I’d already been looking at them sort of closely because of the opaque white ink usage but seeing that there was even more going on has me looking at them even more closely.

The best I can guess is that the cards are printed in reverse on clear plastic, then the opaque white gets printed on top of that, and finally the printed side of the plastic gets fused to the foil stock. So that cool glossy finish is the clear stock and because things are printed in reverse you don’t have to worry about now the colored ink lays down on top of the opaque white.

Marc also included these poker chips—sorry Topps Chipz—for the ever-increasing “stuff I can’t binder” collection. Buster Posey is from 2013. Madison Bumgarner is from 2015.

I honestly don’t know what to think about these. They’re actually kind of nice to handle as they have the heft and finish of proper clay chips* instead of feeling like tiddly winks. As a result I don’t really feel like putting them in 2×2s even though that’s probably the best place for them.

*Reminding me of when I was in college and getting real clay chips was actually hard back in those early days before poker was literally everywhere.

Yes there’s more. Marc continues hitting all my collecting interests with a bunch of Stanford guys including a Mark Appel die cut and a Mike Mussina Sportflics. I think my favorite is the Jack McDowell 1993 Studio with the foil-stamped signature but I did LOL at the Piscotty with the sharpied annotation as to what was “special” about it.

The Piscotty is a “missing nameplate” parallel. It’s not to be confused with the “missing black plate” parallel. When the (black ink only) name plate is missing there’s still black ink in the photo. When the black ink in the photo is missing, the name plate is still there. Yes I had to bust out the loupe to see WTF Topps was doing and it looks like the entire product is printed in two passes. The first pass uses a traditional line screen and prints the photo and all the graphics except for the GQ logo and name plate. The second pass uses a stochastic screen and prints just the GQ logo and name plate.* This second pass is what allows Topps to churn out all kinds of variants in the GQ logo and name plate.

*I went down a looking at screens rabbit hole on SABR a year ago if anyone wants to learn more about print screens.

Anyway it‘s really weird to see the mix of screens on the same printed piece and I’m not sure why Topps chose to do it this way. Or it could very well be the printer’s choice and Topps, like most people, isn’t too invested in what screening technology is used. It definitely adds to the weirdness of Ginter though. We’ve already got an old-time look coupled with modern action photography and image processing. And we’ve got an artificially aged paper looking stock which results in a different white point in the photo compared to the borders. So let’s just toss a couple different methods of printing into the mix too.

Rounding out the batch are a handful of Scott Erickson cards, a handful of action photos, and a couple Conlon St. Louis Browns.  I’ve been neglecting the Erickson PC so it’s nice to add a few more-recent ones. I think I only had Twins cards before. I continues to be amazed at the variety of the multi-exposure action cards and am surprised to see the gimmick had legs well into 1996. The 1991 Score Lenticular disc is awesome. And I have to decide of the Conlons go with the other Conlons or if I should break out a St. Louis Browns section of my binder.

Very cool stuff Marc and Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Artie

One of the best things about blogging over at SABR Baseball Cards has been the community of other bloggers and commenters who hang out in the comments of the posts. I’m always disappointed when I write a post that doesn’t generate a lot of discussion (yes I know that many of my posts veer into the esoteric and aren’t particularly conducive to multiple opinions). Of the regular commenters, Artie Zillante’s are frequently interesting and insightful.

Arie doesn’t exist on Twitter and his blog is kind of fallow so I only know him through the comments. So I was a little surprised when he reached out to me through this blog saying he had a bunch of more-recent Giants cards that would knock off a lot of things on my searchlists.

I’d put off specifically completing more-recent (well, anything from 1994–present) Giants team sets when I first got back into the hobby but after Adam’s massive mailing I realized that I had critical mass to attempt completing most of the Topps and Upper Deck sets over that period. So I put up searchlists to mark my path toward completing those and that’s what caught Artie’s eye.

Is funny how having cards begets getting more cards.

Anyway, continuing from Peter, Artie’s box was my third mailday last Friday and as promised, it was chock-full of Giants cards.

I don’t have much to say about a lot of these since I’ve already commented on the general designs in previous posts. But it’s great to cross off a few years of team sets and get really close on a few others.

Team set highlights include 1991 Studio and 1992 Pinnacle. Those are two sets I loved as a kid. Studio is one of my favorite sets ever as it really changed my perception of what a card could be with those wonderful black and white photos. Pinnacle meanwhile is one I just like the look of. It’s very of its time but not in a horrible way.

A big stack of 1993 Upper Deck is also nice and represents another fantastic design from my youth. Same with 1994 Stadium Club and its peak 1990s grunge/type explosion look. I love love love that 1995 Topps Royce Clayton card with the multiple exposure image and man that 1995 Score Rod Beck is kind of a gut punch reminder of how we lost Shooter way too soon.

Moving into 1996–2006 and I’m kind of tapped out on design comments. Only a couple things caught my eye this time. That weird rectangle of image above the names on the 2001 Topps design somehow slipped my attention until now. I’ve tended to like that dark grey/green spot color border but that weird rectangle is all I see now. And on the 2005 design it really weirds me out that Topps used different fonts for Felipe and Moises Alou.

Other than that and I enjoyed seeing the red ribbon on the 1996 Darren Lewis Collectors Choice card. In the mid 1990s, Until There’s a Cure Day was a big statement by the Giants and it’s nice to see that that support of AIDS victims made it out into the hobby as well.

The more-recent cards from the past decade or so. The Posey rookie is very generous. I somehow missed out on the 2013 World Series Highlight card until now. And this kills my 2014 Giants team set as well.

The most fun part of the mailing involved seven 1974 Topps All Star cards which leave me one card from completing the Bobby Bonds puzzle. I only just found out about this puzzle and put it on my searchlist.

I didn’t grow up in the age of puzzle backs. Garbage Pail Kids had them. Baseball cards did not. I have no idea if I would have liked them as a kid. I suspect though that I would not have been a fan unless the puzzles could fit in binder pages.

So ideally 6 or 9-card puzzles but an 8-card puzzle like this is also okay since it pages up nicely in an 8-pocket sheet. I’d love to see Topps bring these back though. I’ve thought for a while that an kid-friendly set like Opening Day would be the perfect place for puzzle backs. 9 cards per team with puzzle backs for a tenth team image. 30 teams gives a decent-sized 270-card set.

It wasn’t just Giants cards though. Artie included this equal-parts wonderful and horrifying VJ Lovero subset card of Mike Piazza. Let’s just say that between the Parent Trap double exposure, completely-blank box of cereal, and life-size Tommy Lasorda cutout that’s black and white for the extra mindfuck factor and then you notice it’s a towel rack, I have no idea what the hell is going on.

This would normally be a bad thing but in this case it’s so bad and so clearly intentional that it’s good. Go big or go home.

And this fantastic Mike Aldrete autograph just happens to be the only card I’ve found of Aldrete as a Yankee. I don’t need the auto (it’s only really worth a buck and I have a bunch already including one of my first in-persons) but I’ve recently revamped my Stanford searchlist to be as representative of each player’s career; getting a card from each team he played for is a key part of that.

This was great Artie. I’m starting a pile for you now and will see what I can find to send back in thanks.

Wait what? I just got one of these

The day I got my envelope from Marc he posted a “heads up to the following zip codes” 0utgoing-mailday post which included my zip. I assumed that he’d written it a few days earlier and just posted it without expecting that my mail had already arrived. Turns out I should’ve expected a second envelope.

This one had an enigmatic note wrapped around the cards. What could it be indeed? The last time I got such a note it turned out to be Bob Veale.

Holy crap another 1964 surprise which knocks off a hole in my Stanford searchlist. This time it’s a high-number rookie of Bill Wakefield which was on the “more expensive than I wanted to spend at this time” list. Wakefield’s an interesting case in that I think he’s the only guy in that project who graduated from Stanford but never played for the baseball team.

I also like that he spent only a single season in the majors but managed to get three seasons of cards out of it. While I like his 1965 and 1966 cards better, it’s nice to have one from his actual season in which he appeared in 62 games.

Marc also included a 2017 Fire card of Stephen Piscotty which will slide into my Stanford album a few pages in front of the Wakefield. I skipped this set too so this is my first time seeing it in the flesh. I prefer the 2018 design. Aside from not liking the way the crazy background interacts with the player here, the way Topps just slapped the team logo over this design feels incredibly wrong.

Team logos are almost all decades-old design so incorporating them into an over-the-top modern design like this requires more work than just dumping the logo in the corner.

Filling out the rest of the envelope were three 2016 Topps cards. Every time I see this design I can’t help but think about how much nicer it would be with the smoke stuff. Just a nice full-bleed photo. Dump the team name. Keep the rest of the TV-style graphics as they are.

Each time I see this Posey though I’m increasingly inclined to view it as a photo of him with four arms.

And finally a 2018 Stadium Club card that’s well-timed on the heels of my going through Adam’s box and seeing all those 1990s card tropes. Photos of players with a cameras—preferably a gigantic lens—were pretty common in those days. They’re obviously still an appealing shot—especially to photographers like Marc and me. I’m more surprised though that we aren’t seeing photos of players with cellphones taking selfies with fans and whatnot.

Thanks for the surprise PWEs and for finishing off one of the Stanford Alumni runs! Only five left from the 60s/70s now. As for the overall list, I’ve had to add a few thanks to Topps Update (and expect another three or so once Bowman Draft comes out) so I’ve still got a dozen cards left overall to look for.

Fire PWE from Bru

A couple weeks ago I found yet another small envelope from Marc in my mailbox. This one caught me by surprise since I’d just received a decent package from him. When I opened it up I found a bit of Fire. Topps Fire.

That’s a McCutchen base card and a Cueto foil card. I don’t know the proper terminology since this set isn’t the kind of thing I pursue. Marc sent me my first Fire card ever in his previous PWE and these will go next to it in the binder.

Looking at these cards makes me realize how many of the things I dislike in card designs are things I really like as oddballs. As a 200-card set, stuff like this just makes me shake my head. As a 30-card set? I could see myself getting into it. The same goes with Panini’s unlicensed cards which have all the logos airbrushed out. Something about the small checklist makes me much more accepting of quirkiness.

Part of this is because the small checklist encourages a smarter selection of players. You need stars who aren’t diminished by an over-the-top design or who can salvage something logoless and bland. Finding 200 of those guys? Tough. Finding one per team? Much easier.

Anyway, both these cards look way nicer in person and a lot of that has to do with the fact that all three Fire cards I have are of star players. I just wish that Cutch and Stretch had different backgrounds since this design is really asking to be different on each card.

Like this Piscotty background is a nice change of pace. Seeing pages of this over and over again would make my eyes bleed. But seeing one page of craziness? Totally fine. And having just one card amidst a page of otherwise sedate designs really livens things up.

I’ve got to admit, I much prefer Fire to Gypsy Queen. Where I understand what Fire’s doing, I remain absolutely confused by GQ. From the HDR action photos to the pseudo-vintage look which hearkens back to the days of studio photographs, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around what this product is trying to do. Once you toss all the “errors” and variants into the mix? No. Fucking. Clue.

Still it’s nice to have a few in my albums since I’ll never ever buy them. Gives a nice variety to the page and that’s always fun. Plus I would never have noticed how weird it is to have such a different white point in the photo compared to the background of the card if I hadn’t had to scan this for this post. It makes my brain hurt since it makes it clear how the antique background effect is just a printed border.

Continuing with the Stanford theme. Marc included a Bowman Chrome of Mark Appel. This card also doesn’t scan well. Chrome goes black and the border becomes a weird grey halftone. On the plus side, scanning Chrome reveals a lot about how it was printed since the change in reflectivity shows where there’s an opaque white and where there isn’t.

As much as I don’t like the way Chrome looks with photography, I’m fascinated by the printing. Opaque white has such promise for all kinds of cool printing effects* and I’m a bit disappointed that it’s used as essentially a flood for covering up metallic stock. At the same time, it’s not used much in printing at all so to see it live and in the flesh is still exciting.

*If I were designing things I’d be going nuts with opaque white ink on medium-dark papers where the ink would create highlights and the black could create shadows.

Two other cards in the PWE. The first is a 2016 Update card of Brandon Belt as an All Star. One of the disappointing things for me upon reengaging with the hobby is how boring All Star cards have gotten. I mean it’s always fun to get an All Star card of a player on your team, but I grew up in the days of the dedicated subsets which had their own distinct All Star designs.

Coming across an All Star card was something special and those designs still trigger a ton of nostalgia when I see them. If I were baseball card king this is one of the things I’d bring back. Just slapping the All Star logo on the card front without even changing the team name is some laziness.

And last, the super-cool Deion Sanders action card. This goes with the rest of my Action collection even though it’s very much riffing on the concept rather than actually being action. I always liked this card too. Was cool when I saw it in 1992. It’s still cool now.

Looking at it now and I can’t help but notice how smart Upper Deck was to basically remove all the 1992 design from this and let the photo stand on its own. No baseballs. No drop shadow. No names. Just a photo and we all knew exactly who it was. Part of me smiles at seeing him carrying a football since as a cornerback that wasn’t his main job. And the rest of me remembers that ridiculous high-stepping pick-six celebration.

Thanks Marc for the very cool mailday.


Late last week I discovered a small envelope in my mailbox with a few stragglers that didn’t make it into Marc’s original package. I gather that this is one of those instances when you mail something out and immediately discover that you forgot to put a few items in.*

*I do this a lot too but usually I just forget to include a note.

First off, this 1999 Topps Traded Ed Sprague finishes off my run of his “cards of record.”* Even more exciting about it is that takes my searchlist for all Stanford guys to being down to ten from the Topps/Bowman Flagship (and related) sets. Or well ten until Update releases later this year and adds a few more to the searchlist.

*Something I’ve tended to call Topps Flagship though in the late 90s–00s I’ve had to supplement with other brands since the checklists were often small and didn’t include more fringe players. For example, in Sprague’s case, Topps has no cards of him with the A’s.

It’s nice to have this project basically finish building mode and become something that just needs to be sustained. Where before I’ve mentioned turning the corner, and evolving the scope of what I’m searching for, the original scope will always exist as a goal to be completed.

The ten cards I’m missing fall into two categories.

Things I haven’t purchased because of price reasons:

  • Doug Camilli 1962 Topps
  • Doug Camilli 1966 Topps
  • Jim Lonborg 1965 Topps
  • Jim Lonborg 1968 Topps
  • Jim Lonborg 1970 Topps
  • Bill Wakefield 1964 Topps

Things that just haven’t turned up whenever I go searching:

  • Rick Helling 2002 Topps Traded
  • John Mayberry Jr. 2010 Topps Phillies Team Set
  • Mike Mussina 2009 Topps
  • Brian Sackinsky 1995 Topps

The price ones may never ever get completed. Most aren’t too bad but the 1962 Camilli rookie will always be beyond what I want to spend. The ones that haven’t turned up through searching are a more interesting bunch. The Mayberry Jr. Phillies card will likely be hard to track down. The other three though are a pretty random reflection of how certain things can just be not available.

The 1997 Finest Ed Sprague is one of the few cards I have from this set. I don’t really get the Finest ethos. It’s nice thick stock and super shiny; it just doesn’t move me. I’m tempted to peel the protective film layer off except I don’t trust it to not ruin the card after decades of being affixed.

The most interesting thing about this for me is how the back of the card notes that this is a “common.” I know, I know, Topps used to do this all the time with how it numbered sets and gave star players the “hero numbers” ending in 0 or 00. But there’s something about writing “common” on the card itself that really bothers me in that it feels incredibly artificial.

And my first sample of Topps Fire. Like Finest, this is another set I’ve had an immediate “not for me” response to even though I’m happy to get samples here and there so I can inspect them.

Fire actually looks much much better in person that it does in images. There’s more depth in the colors and printing than what comes across on screen and the card itself feels more consistent in its design than the trainwreck feel I get looking at images online.

Am I going to go go out and try to get more of these? No. The idea of looking through a binder of these kind of gives me hives. But Fire and Finest both work in small doses to add a little variety to the binder and I very much appreciate that.

Thanks Marc! These were worth waiting for.

Mailday from Marc

When it rains it pours. I’ve been back in New Jersey for a few weeks now. Acclimating to the horrendous weather. Getting the kids up and running for school. Re-stocking the house after having emptied the larder before vacation. It’s been a lot of work. This week though I got some help in the mail in the form of multiple bubble mailers containing cardboard therapy.

The first is from Marc Brubaker who’s managed to reload with a huge, interesting mailday before I’ve been able to put together a viable return to his many previous maildays. Heck I’ve not even finished a roll of film yet (three more frames left!).

I didn’t photo this but wrapped around the cards was a handful of 20-pocket tobacco-card pages. I’d mentioned offhand on Twitter that I needed to get a few of them so I could page my Kings and Queens of England set and well as some random other minis. Marc noticed and duly sent them my way. Very cool. Very Nice. Things look much better in pages now.

To the cards! We’ll start with the Giants cards and just go in chronological order. That 1987 Opening Day checklist is the epitome of a card I’d never buy but which I’m happy to slide into a binder sheet. The idea of spending money on a checklist card just feels wrong to me. But then I think I’ve been permanently scarred by checklists since I pulled a lot of them when I was a kid. Did I ever get any of the big hit cards? Of course not. But I sure could pull a checklist. Looking through my childhood collection and the number of checklists I pulled in even oddball sets like Donruss Action All Stars or Topps Mini Leaders still surprises me.

The highlight in this batch though is the 1994 Stadium Club. I had a few packs of these in a box of un-paged cards that I’d dropped after the strike pushed me out of the hobby. I know that I wasn’t particularly struck by the design back then. I kind of love it now. Peak 1990s nostalgia with its pseudo dymo labler and ripped paper aesthetic. The backs are even better.

And the photography. Where 1991 Stadium Club looks kind of disappointing now, by 1994 Topps knew what it was doing and photos like the Will Clark or Rod Beck cards still look good. The Kirt Manwaring on the other hand is at a whole different level as it’s possibly the best card of a very good career of baseball cards. Plus the multiple exposure things satisfies my action-card mini collection as well.

Moving into the 1990s that I missed. The 1995 Score Gold Rush is very cool. The Mark Carreon card in particular shows how Score was using opaque white ink to make the player pop out from his surroundings. 1996 Stadium Club is not a set I react to nearly as well as 1994 but it’s nice enough and the Royce Clayton card where he’s diving into the bag is fantastic. I’m glad Marc pointed out that some of these are silver parallels. I never would’ve noticed a difference.

1997 Score meanwhile is a set which I like the look of. Nice photo-centric design and the white border really frames the image well. I only have three cards though so these four parallels now outnumber them in my binder. It’s a bit weird to me that Premium Stock and Hobby Reserve are basically the same pack-inserted parallel just in different series of the product release.

The 1999 Fleer Brilliants Barry Bonds is an interesting card in its super-premium way. And the 1999 Fleer Warning Track parallels are like the Score parallels and basically double the number of cards I have from that set. I do enjoy the JT Snow photo with his kid (same with the Rod Beck photo here as well) and can think of a number of photos from the 1990s which featured ballplayers with their children.

On to the 200s. The 2003 Upper Deck 40 Man card of Game 1 of the 2002 World Series means I’m only missing the game 4 card now. I do not have, nor do I want the cards from games 1, 3, 6, and 7 (I know I know, one of you sick bastards is totally going to send me the game 6 card now). The 2002 World Series isn’t as traumatic as it once was. But I still can’t bear to watch highlights from it.

2004 Topps Opening Day cracks me up, I still have no base 2004 cards but am somehow getting cards from the other sets which use the same design. That Fleer card is nice even though it’s clearly an Upper Deck design and totally signifies the deathknell of the Fleer brand. And I think the 1972 mini is from 2013 Archives.

The last bit of 2018 cards includes my first real sampling of Topps Archives this year. This is a product I want to like but the caliber of the design mimicry is the kind of thing that drives me crazy*. Things like the uncentered name font on the 1959 design or using the wrong colors (and not in a way that improves anything) on the 1977 design just bug me. Which is a shame there’s a huge potential in this line to just have fun. Anyway, since it’s not a product I’ll ever buy it’s always fun to get a sampling.

*Heritage is close to this problem too but is a mostly better-constucted set.

This batch also includes my first Donruss/Optic card for this year. As with Archives, Optic is not a set that I’ll ever buy so it’s fun to have a sample to take a proper look at. That shiny stuff isn’t my thing except for my interest in how it’s actually made.

Marc is also one of the few guys who send me Stanford cards. I’m always impressed. It’s a lot of work for me to keep all those names in mind so I never have any expectations for anyone else to do it. Sure, it helps that there are a decent number of Stanford guys who have been associated with the Astros* but even then it’s a lot of thinking about my collecting goals.

*Mark Appel, Erik Bruntlett, Jason Castro, AJ Hinch, Jed Lowie, and Al Osuna as well as more obscure players like Johnny Ash and Brandt Walker.

And it’s not just Astros here. Marc filled a lot of holes. Or, well, not holes exactly but many of these cards I don’t have and have been plenty happy sorting them in to my Stanford album. The Stadium Clubs—especially that Jack McDowell Members Choice card. The Score Gold Rush. The Upper Deck SP. All of them have a place in the binder and help jazz things up with examples from sets that are underrepresented.

Mike Mussina is the one Stanford player that people do tend to remember. MArc included Lots of his cards that I don”t have. The Score parallels are great. Donruss Team Heroes is one of god knows how many Donruss sets from this time period. It’s always nice to get a new Heritage card although the image quality on this one is pretty dire. Someone upscaled a small image a bit too far.

The Al Osuna O Pee Chee is great. I don’t have many of those in any binders. The Stephen Piscotty first Bowman is also fantastic. I’m not a Chrome guy but it’s nice to have a few around. His Archives card is also the first from that set in the Stanford binder as well.

And finally there are a bunch of Ed Spragues I didn’t have from the 1992 Upper Deck, yet another wonderful 1994 Stadium Club, to those fantastic Silver Signature parallels in Collectors Choice. Plus another sample from 1997 Score to top things off.

Marc’s thoughtfulness goes even beyond remembering the Stanford guys though. He’s also been hitting cards from my mini collections. In addition to the 1994 Manwaring card I mentioned earlier, there are another half-dozen action-related cards. Some, like the always-enjoyable Sportflics cards and multiple-exposure Upper Deck cards are things I know about. Others, like the Omar Vizquel 1994 Stadium Club with six different images are complete surprises. I also had no idea that Score even jumped on this bandwagon in 1995.

The other mini collection here is my Photographer collection. Conlon cards are always appreciated in this area.

And finally comes a selection of cards that I’m not collecting but have mentioned maybe a couple times as thinking about starting a collection of. Specifically Hawai‘i and putting together a collection of guys who were from there. El Sid is one of the first names on that list.*

*Along with Benny Agbayani, Ron Darling, Charlie Hough, Len Sakata, Kurt Suzuki, Shane Victorino, and Justin Wayne.

Any Duke card is also great. This is a set I’m unfamiliar with so I’ve looked up the checklist and added Bob Mathias to my searchlist now as well.

Holy moly that was a lot to go through. Marc hit five different areas I’m collecting. That’s the kind of thing which really sets a trader apart and yeah super duper impressive since I get the sense he’s doing this with a bunch of other guys on Twitter too. Thanks so much!

@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.


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.