Mailday from Fuji

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Fuji this was fun!

Presidents Weekend Card Show

Our school district likes to schedule teacher inservice days* on the Fridays before long weekends so that we get a nice four-day weekend. I don’t mind it as it gives everyone time to do a proper weekend getaway and if I’d been on top of things we would have gone to Cooperstown. Even if we don’t do any trips though it’s nice to have the Friday off in particular since anything we do is relatively quiet.

*Slash snow make-up days. Not that we’ve needed any this year. I fully expect that after having April weather in February we’ll get February weather in April.

Last Friday was the first Neshaminy Mall card show of the year. It’s a decent mall show which I’ve attended twice in the last four years. Totally doable in an hour and that’s if you take your time at all the tables. Also a decent amount of vintage to paw through. Each time I go I make good headway on those need lists.

This time I had some additional plans though. I’ve been meaning to try and offload the football cards from my Dentist in a way that doesn’t involve me having to worry about eBay or the USPS. Last time I went I met a dealer I really liked so I wanted to get back to him and seal the deal. I’ve never sold before but I’m more comfortable doing that than trying my luck on eBay and trusting the USPS with a big sale.

I also wanted to bring the boys to a proper card show. I’ve been looking forward to and waiting for them to be old enough and responsible enough. I don’t want to hover and make sure they’re behaving or deal with “can we go now” whining because they don’t have the patience to dig through boxes.

They’re finally at that age. They were excited to go and we spent the half-hour drive down talking about what everyone was going to look for. Their goals were simple: my youngest wanted to pick up a nice Buster Posey card and my oldest was looking for Ronald Acuña Jr.* We talked about proper behavior and I told them to also just enjoy seeing the stuff in the showcases.

*Yeah, despite being a Giants household his favorite player for the past four years has been Acuña.

After finding the dealer I was looking for and selling the cards for an acceptable price we were ready to go. We all had a lot of fun. They’re perfectly happy looking through boxes and getting each others’, or my, attention when they find something someone else might like. They definitely prefer the dollar boxes of more modern stuff than the vintage stacks I look at but a large part of that is down to just knowing who the players are.

It’s also just great to see them practicing interacting with the venders. I handled most of the transactions since making one big stack saves everyone money but they (yes even my notoriously-shy youngest) asked dealers how much unmarked cards were and handled a couple transactions on their own when only one was purchasing something.

Is nice to see how much they’ve grown up and in this age of shopping online it’s not very often they get the opportunity to browse and make decisions like this. They’re not totally free—I double-checked their purchases to confirm that what they were getting was what they thought they were getting (my youngest got duped by a Buster Posey RC reprint which, while priced fairly, was not what he thought he was buying)—but this is the first place they’ve been to where there is a ton of things that are within their budget to buy.

I avoid making “this is what I bought” posts unless I can write something really interesting about my purchases. Pre-war acquisitions usually meet this standard. Mostly-modern card show hauls generally do n0t. This show however is an exception since sharing the experience with my kids for the first time is noteworthy. Plus knowing what their pre-show goals were it’s a lot of fun to see how they did as well.

My youngest is very careful with his money and put together the perfect stack for himself for around six bucks. The only “big” purchase was the relic and he was unable to pick a favorite from his haul. His favorite thing was when dealers had longboxes organized by player. He would find the “Buster Posey” section and take his time to look at every card.

Being on the East Coast the Posey sections were small and manageable and he recognized that while they would be larger in California the cards would also be more expensive there.

My eldest did equally as well. His stack shows that he’s both more willing to spend money and that he has a little more of it. Acuña is definitely more expensive to collect than Posey—both in terms of per-card prices and the sheer number of cards available—but this was more than satisfactory. I’m a little sad he didn’t find the 2022 Stadium Club in the panda hat but he was very happy with the Holiday card.*

*I really wish I could find a blaster of those for the boys to open for Christmas. They both love that set but I’ve never seen them available anywhere.

His favorite find however was not an Acuña but was instead the Marcus Semien autograph. I’m going to have to watch him since he can get lost in the autos and relics boxes and while picking one favorite is totally fine, those things can add up pretty fast if he’s not careful.

As for me, I was playing with house money so went a little out of my comfort zone on a few cards. Still, I made sure to take care of a lot of my modern commons needs too. I grabbed the four Stanford guys in 2023 Series 1 with my first 2023 Topps cards. They definitely look better in person than online but they’re still a mess of a design with that Norelco lift and trim slashy stuff going on at the bottom.

I also grabbed a bunch of the specific Ginter cards I wanted including the Michelle Wie West for the Stanford PC. Jim Plunkett is also for the Stanford PC and his card is an awesome Wonder Bread oddball—absolutely the kind of thing I love to add.

The half dozen 50s and 60s cards though are the highlights and big ticket items. More quality than quantity in this show—reflecting my more mature collecting focus this year. Sam Jethroe is one of those forgotten players and his 1952 Bowman is a beauty. The 1958 Topps Dodgers team card fits into my franchise expansion/moves mini-PC. The Hi-Res Rootbeer was priced well and I kind of love that set. And the 1963 McCovey is one of those pesky high numbers that makes up most of my remaining vintage Giants searchlist.

These two however are the favorites which I knew I’d be kicking myself for passing up. I never expected to get either of the 1960 McCovey cards and while this one has issues it still looks great. Really nice to be able to update the retired numbers page too. And the 1952 Larry Doby has a bit of water damage that’s only visible on the back and adds one of the three Hall of Famers who I thought were out of my reach on the Colorline project. Very very happy to get these.

And finally, the LaMonte Wade autograph is one my kids found but was slightly out of their comfort zone.* Since I’m trying to collect autographs of everyone who won the Willie Mac Award it’s nice to add Wade to that PC. I wish it weren’t a sticker but it’s not an awful stickergraph.

*I initially passed on it as well until I saw we had enough to build a stack.

All in all a very successful day.  The boys are now looking forward to going to a show again. I’m not sure they’re ready for a big one like the Philly Show (heck I don’t know if I’m ready) but we’ll see. It might be fun to see them meet an autograph guest. Plus they were so excited by their new cards they went right to their rooms and sorted and paged all the cards they’ve been neglecting to put away for months.

Seals Pickups

So I’ve been working on my Seals type collection a bit this year. Most of these are cheap Zeenuts off of Ebay. There have been a ton available and I’ve made some serious progress.

The oldest ones come from 1913. Harry Hughes is in great shape—so great that I was able to discover that these are printed on textured paper. He was a Seal for two seasons and looks to have only pitched maybe a dozen games. I really like the uniform details on his card though. The contrast placket is particularly great as an old-school look and the old English S is a very different logo than the usual San Francisco logos.

Charles Fanning is more of the typical Zeenut look and condition. He was a workhorse starting pitcher for 6 seasons as a Seal and appeared in over 50 games (winning well over 20 games) each year from 1913–1915.

I’ve mentioned Johnny Couch before on this blog but I never linked to his actual Baseball-Ref page. Couch played in the Majors in 1917 as well as 1922–25. Where my other card is from 1916 and predates his MLB debut, this one is from 1920 and comes between his two stints.

Since Couch is both a Stanford guy and a Seal, I like to jump on his cards when they surface. This was also my first exposure to the fantastic 1920 Zeenut design. Most of Zeenut’s run of cards feature either players cut out against a plain background or black and white photos. 1920 though is unique and has a wonderful artsy stadium background behind everyone.

The 1922 design is a cool pseudo-color look which distinguishes it from most other Zeenut releases (1915 is the only other one like this). Lyle Wells though doesn’t look like he played for the Seals in 1922 and instead made it onto the 1922–23 Oakland Oaks teams. His uniform does look Sealsish though and perhaps he tried out for San Francisco, didn’t make the team, and then ended up across the bay instead.

1923 is the last of the cut-out photos designs. While I enjoy the 1924–1931 run of full-bleed black and white photos taken on location, there’s something about the cut-outs which appeals to me in part due to the first Zeenuts I ever saw.

Eddie Mulligan was not a great Major League player but spent 17 seasons in the Pacific Coast League. “Noack” meanwhile isn’t a name that even shows up on any Seals roster and the only hit on Baseball Reference for that period is a Gus Noack who was playing in the Nebraska League in 1923. This got Marc interested and he was able to pull up some newspapers from 1923 which showed that Gus Noack was at least in the Seals training camp. I’m assuming this means he tried out but didn’t make the team.

I grabbed both of these for the uniform details with Mulligan in the classic Seals logotype and Noack in an interlocking SF design which appears to have been on the way out in 1923 (looks to be the same that Couch is wearing in 1920) since the 1923 cards are a mix of uniforms and the interlocking design doesn’t show up in 1924. Noack is also one of the few batting poses I have in the collection.

1923 was both a good year and a bad year for the Seals as they won the PCL with a 124–77 record but their manager died of tuberculosis.

A pair of 1925 cards which are very similar to the 1923 pair. Archie Yelle played for Detroit from 1917–19 but spent eight years of his 20-year baseball career in the PCL. “Haughy” meanwhile is another player who doesn’t show up on that year’s roster. I grabbed his card though because I love the background details of the park and how the stands are right on top of the dugout.

The 1925 Seals team is recognized as one of the best Minor League and PCL teams ever and Yelle was their starting catcher. Marc’s research meanwhile turned up an Earl Haughy who was in the Seals training camp as a pitcher in February 1925 and evidently didn’t make the team since Marc found another article mentioning him among the cuts from the 1926 Missions training camp.

Discovering that at least two of the Zeenut photos were taken during the Seals training camp in Fresno also suggests that the stadium in the background of a lot of the 1924–1931 photos may be the training facility.

A 1927 card of Orville McMurtry who only had a four-year professional career and pitched in just a handful of games for the Seals. This is another one where I find myself looking at the stadium details in the background since I can see the box seating as well as the dugout under the stands.

A pair from 1929 including a great career capper card for Walter Schmidt. Schmidt played in the Majors for a decade including nine seasons with the Pirates as the starting catcher. I really like the guy in the hat in the stands behind him. Lonny Baker meanwhile had a nine-year career in the Minors and is another of the few batting images in the collection.

In 1932 Zeenut reverted to their 1910s design of cutting the player out against a blank background. One key difference though is that they kept a circle of field in the design for the player to stand on. Jerry Donovan played in the PCL for 13 seasons and in 1932 appeared in 182 games for the Seals.

That the PCL was all Sun Belt teams meant they could play long seasons of over 200 games. Looking at the stats of some of the starters is kind of amazing. Eddie Mulligan has six seasons where he played over 180 games with one season of 199 games and another of 201. Jerry Donovan meanwhile has a 188 game season to go with his 182 game one.*

*Digging around Baseball Reference meanwhile shows guys playing in over 220 games in one season and a couple Seals seasons where four or five players play over 200 games.  

This haul of Zeenuts takes my type collection to having cards from fifteen of the 28 sets including at least one from every year 1922–1932. Which is very cool. The 1920s cards definitely seem to be the easier ones to come across (which makes sense to me considering World War 1 and the Depression) but who knows what the future will bring. I’d love to get a red-bordered 1918 or a pseudo-color 1915 and the 1911 and 1914 ones have interesting dark studio backgrounds.

It wasn’t just Zeenuts that I added though. I also found a 1949 Bromide of Steve Nagy. Nagy played in MLB in 1947 and 1950 and spent nine seasons in the PCL. He was with the Seals in 1949 when they toured Japan and this card is from that trip.  I really like the portrait and something about the text (which just says Steve Nagy and Pitcher) really brings it all together.

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the Menko/Bromide distinction. It initially reflected the difference between mechanically-printed colorful artwork on cardstock and photographically-printed black and white photos on Bromide paper. For a long time it was easy to see the distinctions but from the late 1940s to late 1950s everything got muddied up. Bromides started being printed mechanically on thicker paper. Menkos started being printed color photos.

Many times it seems that the distinction is now just color vs black and white (although there’s also the form factor difference where menkos are still designed to be slammed down). In any case, even though my black and white Cliff Melton is also categorized as a bromide I’m very happy to have a proper photographic print one as well.

Finally, I grabbed a 1948 Signal Oil card of Will Hafey. Signal Oil didn’t make Seals cards but they’re one of (and possibly THE) first baseball card sets to feature color photography like was appearing on postcards. The photo is great and you can really see the details of both the Oaks uniforms and the Oaks Park (located where the Pixar campus is now).

I’m including a scan of the back of the Hafey since it mentions three Hafey relatives who all played ball. Those three all played in Major League Baseball though (Chick is even a Hall of Famer) while the PCL was the best that Will could do.

My Seals (and Oaks) page is looking really nice now. I feel like I might have to start organizing it more than having everything in one large gallery. Though it is nice to be able to just swipe through the gallery view.

Holiday PWEs

Every holiday season I’m surprised by a few PWEs from other card bloggers and people out there. Sometimes these can be kind of amazing but most of the time they’re assorted randomness which consists of people getting surplus cards out of their house and into the hands of people who’ll appreciate them. This year’s examples fall into that category.

The first PWE was nine John Elway cards from Johnny’s Trading Spot—basically the Elway version of the Giants I got in my first batch. I have a few Elway cards in the Stanford binder but it’s a pretty random selection or whatever was cheapest. These don’t make it less random but do flesh things out a bit. I especially like the Pinnacle Idols card as well as the 2013 Topps Archives using the 1976 design.

My two favorite cards though were the Spanish Pro Set card and the Game Dated highlight. I love Spanish-language cards released in the United States. They’re one of the things I collect casually and it’s great to add them to the Stanford album. I also just like the wider-angle horizontal photo on the highlight card. I’m not used to seeing images like this on cards and it’s a nice change of pace.

I also got a pair of 1989 Donruss cards from HayMay who’s no longer on Twitter but is part of our Discord “Card Twitter in Exile” community. As one of those sets where I’m at the point where buying lots makes zero sense (due to duplication issues) and buying singles makes even less sense (due to just not being worth it financially), every bit of progress toward set completion is fully appreciated.

The Bo is admittedly a bit weird. A bit larger than it’s supposed to be and for whatever reason it wasn’t trimmed fully on the bottom so the corners got torn off. The Eck is nice though. Always fun when the A’s cards are in the team color gradient too.

And finally a Christmas trade with Clearush, a new trading partner who’s also on the Discord. He had a bunch of off-grade 1953 Bowmans including one I needed. I had a handful of 1974 Topps cards he needed for his set build. PWEs were dispatched on the weekend and by the following Wednesday I had card #1 Davey Williams in hand.

Yes there’s some tape. And yes I was advised of this beforehand. It doesn’t matter though. A lot of the Williams cards I’ve seen are misregistered and this one is sharp. Plus most of my 1953s have some kind of major damage whether it’s tape, creasing, or a hole punch. It takes a lot to detract from the quality of this set though. Only two more left for the team set now!*

*Leo Durocher and Whitey Lockman (plus Bill Rigney and Hoyt Wilhelm for the Black and White set)

Thanks guys and Happy Holidays! It’s always fun to get this kind of Christmas card instead.

Thanksgiving Zapping

I haven’t been doing a lot of trading recently. The thing with trading is that you need to be acquiring product which has things that you don’t need or want. And I’m barely acquiring product anymore at all let alone anything which produces the kind of bycatch needed to trade nicely.

Which means that it’s always a surprise and please when I do find a package in my mailbox. Thanksgiving weekend one such surprise package arrived from Kenny. It was a large, suspiciously-light box which turned out to be mostly packed with boxes and toploaders as Kenny is rehoming his excess storage supplies. But there was also a decent stack of cards in there too.

I went through quickly and pulled out everything that looked relevant to my collecting interests. The Jack McDowell is a new card for the Stanford album and reminds me that I don’t have a lot of 1996 Score. Matt Cain is a Giants card I didn’t have though I still have no idea what ToppsTown was.

It’s not a primary project but I’ve been slipping cards of Hall of Famers into their own album for a while now. While I don’t picture Kaat, Smith, or Pudge as Yankees it’s always nice to add cards to that album.

I’m also putting a small collection together of guys who I’ve see play at Trenton or Somerset. While this is mostly focused on Major Leaguers I’ll totally add Bowman or Panini cards if I come across them. Is very nice to get Rookie Cards of Abreu and Deivi as well.

Two African-American cards are great to have. I wish Topps had Negro League players in Allen & Ginter every year but I’ll never turn down a Moses Fleetwood Walker card. It’s also always fun to get a Japanese card—in this case a nice foil Hideki Matsui.

And finally a few 1980s oddballs from toy stores. I remember the Toys R Us cards but never saw the Kay Bee ones. A bit funny to see who was considered a “young superstar” back then.

Most of the cards though was various assorted Yankees from multiple sets. I do have to admit though that I’ll never turn down the chance to add more cards from before I began collecting. I’m mostly thin on any set before 1986.* With this batch I now have almost a page each of 1972s (all Yankees), 1973s, and 1974s. The 1972 Kekich makes me want to get a 1972 Fritz Peterson to pair with it and the 1973 Blomberg is a fun on for first DH reasons.**

*Exceptions are 1975–1979 due to an 800-count box that I found on ebay for $10 that was labeled and listed at 1991 Donruss but was actually stuffed with commons from 1975–1979 Topps. This is why I ended up building 1978.

**I TTM’d him the 1974 card which lists him as DH.

The 1980–1985 cards are also welcome as I only ever got a pack’s worth of those cards as a kid. I have more now of a few of those sets* but it’s always nice to flesh those out a bit. There’s something about those sets from before my childhood which still scratch a collecting itch.

*A decent number of 1984 and 1985 Topps.

The 1986–1988s here though are cards from when I was accumulating a lot of things. They go in the duplicate/TTM pile or might become trade packages for someone else. Yes even that 1988 Traded Jay Buhner which looks so wrong as a Yankees card.

More of the same for a lot of these cards. Though it’s worth mentioning that the 1989 Donruss cards are the Traded set and that the Deion Sanders The Rookies is one I missed as being for my oddball album. This also goes with the Melido Perez Pacific card which belongs in my Spanish-language album.

Kenny also included a bunch of Minor League cards which are starting to slip into the stream in this photo. The 1993 Pulaski Yankees design is a super-basic Minor League set whereas Classic was a more nationally-distributed production.

Into the 2000s with a bunch of cards I don’t have much to say about. Andy Brown must’ve been someone who was getting prospected a bit though. There are also three guys who I remember form the Giants here. Kenny Lofton of course needs no introduction as he’s one of those criminally-underrated players who deserved serious Hall of Fame consideration but dropped off the ballot in only a year. Brett Tomko wasn’t bad either but the less said about Sidney Ponson the better.

Late 2000s to early 2010s with more of a grab bag but it is worth commenting on the two stacks of 2011 Topps and 2011 Topps Update. A few fun cards in there and definitely nice to have a representative stack to look through from that year. I enjoy getting Thairo cards as he’s become a bit of a fan favorite in San Francisco. No idea why there are two different sizes of Bowman minis. And I do like 2014 Allen & Ginter.

Also I did not open the 2014 Staten Island Yankees team set but it appears that there are Thairo Estrada, Jordan Montgomery, and Luis Torrens cards inside.

To the last batch which is increasingly a Minor League grab bag. The random Topps Archives cards are fun and I’ll have to be on alert with the Hudson Valley teams set next season in Somerset.

The main point of interest here are the Stars and Stripes USA cards. I’m a bit weirded out that cards of kids who are on the under 15 team exist. Especially since my kids are approaching this age. I did a quick look through and most of the names are completely unknown to me. There was however one card of Charlie Saum who was a freshman at Sanford last year so I guess that’s going into that album too.

And finally Kenny’s calling cards. I have sent him a Torrens custom before so getting his “you’ve been Zippy Zapped” custom back makes perfect sense. And the Power Puff and anime girls are also on brand.

Very cool. That was a fun way to unwind after hosting Thanksgiving. Thanks Kenny!

Brodie PWE

About a week ago I found a PWE from Mark Hoyle in my mailbox. Mark’s been selling a bit on Twitter over the past month or so* and he’d had a card that no one was claiming but which I had been tempted to claim many times. When I finally claimed the card he told more me not to worry about it and sent it to me anyway.

*Presumably to both finance something amazing and to clear up some space. I’d previously gotten the McCovey Stand Up from him.

The card I’d claimed was actually another standup, this time John Brodie from 1968 Topps Football. Brodie is part of the massive mission creep on my Stanford project and, while I’m not trying to get all his cards, it’s a lot of fun to get the weird ones as I build a type collection of sorts of vintage football and basketball cards.

Mark tossed in the 1971 Topps card as well even though I didn’t claim it. I only had one card from that set and it’s nice to add a two-color border version of the design to the all-blue Gary Pettigrew that I had.

This takes me to eleven John Brodie cards. The Stand Up goes really well with the Topps Game card from 1970. Most of the base designs that aren’t present here are in other parts of the binder (Chris Burford, Steve Thurlow, and Gene Washington) but Brodie could cover almost all of them just by himself. He even has 1961 Post and Fleer cards which would be fun to add for variety’s sake too.

Brodie’s an interesting player to learn about too. He’s kind of forgotten despite having played the most games as a 49er quarterback but I suspect he’s overshadowed by the guys on both ends of his career since YA Tittle and Joe Montana are both big name QBs.

Brodie is also one of four Stanford guys to quarterback for the Niners. He and Frankie Albert were both the starters for many many years, Jim Plunkett had the job for a couple of years, and Steve Stenstrom had a few starts in 1999. I didn’t think of him much Sanfordwise either but that’s a combination of Plunkett and Elway becoming the big names as well as how, for me, I didn’t really learn any football history which pre-dated the Super Bowl when I was a kid.

Anyway thanks a lot Mark!

October Returns

Not a lot of returns as I’m still not sending out a lot of requests. But I’ve gotten a few which are over a couple hundred days old and those are always a lot of fun to open up.

The month started off with a 32-day from Steve Buechele. I’d tried sending these to spring training a couple years ago but they got rejected because he wasn’t there so it was nice to have a success on a my second try (this time c/o the Rangers stadium). Always great to add another signed custom to the album too even though he didn’t keep any of the extras I sent. It’s also always fun to add a signed 1993 Upper Deck card. I’d love to try building that set but I’m scared of the UV bricking.

Another great return, this time Larry Walker in 100 days. I saw a lot of people blaming Coors Field for Walker’s numbers while he was on the Hall of Fame ballot but my enduring memory of him is watching him crush balls to all fields during night games at Candlestick. Dude could rake anywhere in the league and is a totally deserving member of Cooperstown.

A 210-day return from Kevin Tapani brought a nice 1991 card back to me. I remember him being a solid pitcher for the Twins that year (and he was) and, since 1991 is right in the sweet spot of  my childhood fandom, that means that I think of his 1991 form first and forget pretty much everything that happened to his career afterwards.

My third spring training return of the year came back after the season ended. Giants pitching coach (and 2009 AL Rookie of the Year) Andrew Bailey has been working through his fan mail during the offseason and returned a pair of customs (he kept none) in 217 days.

This is one of the few private signings I’ve taken part of. While I never saw Jack Clark as a Giant I both remember the stories about him and appreciate his part in Mike Mandel’s 1970s photography. Also, I’ve been grabbing autographs of Willie Mac Award winners* when I come across them. Since Clark is the inaugural winner he’s a good key part of the collection.

*Currently at 21 out of 42 different winners. Plus Willie McCovey. 

Since signings are scheduled the timing is a little less important since I need to get the card there early enough before the signing and then I know to expect it a couple weeks after the scheduled date. That this came back in 43 days is about the expected time.

A 10-day return from  Jerry Kutzler brought me the kind of card they don’t make anymore. Kutzler pitched in 7 games in 1990 and got cards in multiple sets in 1990 and 1991. This 1990 Donruss is particularly nice with a great photo that works really well with the red border. So many players slip through the cracks now though and never get cards it’s really sad.

Don Stanhouse has two great nicknames. “Stan the Man Unusual” would be sufficient for most people but the “Full Pack” moniker that Earl Weaver gave him is even better. I just wish I’d had an Orioles card to send him. He turned this around in a quick 9 days and the big bold signature overpowers the pre-printed facsimile in a nice way.

And that’s about it for this month. The quality more than made up for h lack of returns. Next month should continue to be slow as my send rate has just slowed down and I don’t like to hit people over the holidays. With any luck though some more stragglers will make their way back.

1955 Topps Doubleheaders

I’ve tried to limit my “so look what I got” posts to pre-war pickups but it’s become obvious to me over the past few months that grabbing my first (optimistically speaking) sample of notable 1950s and 1960s oddballs is also something I like to write about.

The 1955 Topps Doubleheaders fit this category to a T. They’re a weirdly-sized relatively unknown set which I’ve never seen in-person. They’re also an art style which is unlike anything else Topps has made* and, in many ways the coolest thing about them is how the backgrounds tile to create a panoramic stadium image.** Also the picture is an expanded version of the black and white images on 1955 Topps.

*There’s some speculation that they were intended to compete with the Red Man Tobacco cards.

**While it would be amazing to put together a panorama that there’s zero way it will ever happen.

I’d obviously love to have a Giant here but the Jack Shepard was an easier card to focus on since he’s the only Stanford guy in the set. Shepard was the captain of the first Stanford Baseball team to make it to the College World Series. The 1953 team went 1–2, losing in its first game to eventual champion Michigan before getting bounced in the second game of the elimination bracket.

Since the card itself is kind of fragile I went ahead and folded it digitally to show what the other side looks like. At one level, that the only shared part of the image is a single foot feels like cheating. At another level it’s a lot of fun to see it turned into a completely different style of pose plus it offers a nice view of Yankee Stadium (I think) in the background.

Unlike some of the other oddballs where I enjoy having a  sample in the binder but don’t particularly feel the desire for more of them, I’d like to get a few Giants samples of this too. Some day.

Mailday from Bru

About a week ago I received a small bubble mailer from Marc with the usual assortment of Giants, Stanford, and other cards that he thinks I’d be interested in. Marc has a good track record here both in terms of having a lot of cards from products that I’ve never actively acquired and being one of the only guys out there who keeps track of a lot of the players in my Stanford checklist.

I’ll start with the oldest Giants cards. This first batch is mostly cards I could have collected as a kid and as such are definitely the years where I could conceivably have everything covered. As it turns out though the only ones I had are the ones from after I stopped collecting. I only have O Pee Chees that work as Traded  cards so these are both new and welcome. I only have a handful of 1992 Leaf Black Gold cards. And I didn’t have any Giants from 1992 Bowman or 1993 SP.

Also the 1963 Al Dark buyback deserves a special mention. The 50th Anniversary stamp says this is from 2012 and suggests that Topps is up to its usual shenanigans where 2012 is the 50th Anniversary of something that happens in 1963 while 1951–2001 is “50 years of Topps.” Anyway while I have this card already, buybacks are definitely one of those things which are interesting to add to the binder even though the only way I’d seek one out is if it were cheaper than the non-buyback version.

The next group of cards are the more-recent Giants. Victory is definitely a set I don’t see much and the Bill Mueller is the kind of card that sneaks past any checklist checking since it’s not technically a Giants card. It is fun to add cards of guys still in the uniform to the binder though.

The Matt Cain relic is very cool. I’m not the hugest Ginter fan but I appreciate that their relics are thin enough to binder. Also the construction of the framed cards is pretty neat. A couple shiny Logan Webbs are also appreciated. He was a revelation last year and had another good season this year. Hes been a lot of fun to watch him emerge as a legit pitcher.

A good mix of Stanford guys including some early-career Shawn Greens to supplement all the Dodgers that I got from Night Owl. Also a few Jeffrey Hammonds cards I needed in here. While most of my Topps searchlist is complete* there are a lot of non-Topps cards from the 1990s and 2000s which I don’t have and haven’t even looked up.

*Aside from current year cards and grey areas like Green I think I’m just missing the 1962 Doug Camilli Rookie Parade card which I’ll never be able to justify the expense for and the 2013 Tampa Bay Rays Sam Fuld card which is impossible to find as a single and which I haven’t felt like spending $10 on the team set for.

And finally a pair of Scott Ericksons as well as a cool photo of Orel Hershiser and one of Marc’s customs. I should probably put an Erickson checklist together at some point but I’ve only been super passively collecting him recently. The Hershiser is indeed a fun photo; you only get light like this at rare moments during the season. And Marc’s custom is a menko design he’s been working on which I may consider stealing at some point.

Very cool, stuff thanks Marc!



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.