Category Archives: Stanford

A Fantastic (Sam’s) Mailday From Scott

Way back before New Year’s Scott Berger found a bunch of Fantastic Sams discs at his local Goodwill. Naturally all of us oddball collectors got a bit excited.

1980s oddballs reflect the retail environment where chains were just going national but hadn’t taken over everywhere yet. So you could have a large area of coverage across multiple states but still be effectively a regional thing. So we had malls and chain franchises and things that could show up as monoculture in TVs or movies but for a lot of us those brands only existed on-screen.

For me, stores like the Circle K and chains like Fantastic Sams were in this realm where I was aware of them but not through any first-hand experience. They just didn’t exist in my region and so they were as fictitious as 555 phone numbers.

This kind of “everywhere except not” corporate nature resulted in kind of the perfect distribution for baseball cards. Always things to find out. Always things to talk about. Rewarding to find stuff when you travel or have family elsewhere in the country. Even today guys find things that are surplus in their neck of the woods but which others of us have never even heard of decades later.

These Fantastic Sams discs are like that for me. Not only had I not ever encountered a store, the idea of including baseball cards with your haircut is a tie-in I have never encountered.

The 20-disc checklist seems incredibly optimistic for a single-year release. Unlike with food issues where the temptation to buy another pack of beef jerky or sunflower seeds or to visit McDonalds yet again is a plausible impulse, how often are you going to get your hair cut?

Especially for a tiny unlicensed photo of a player with a single line of stats on the back. Oh well. I think they’re pretty cool now.

Scott was hoping to get a full set with his batch. Instead he found four different cards and a ton of duplicates. So he sent me a batch in a plain white envelope. I’m going to keep the coupons attached (if I can, they’re super brittle) and put these in a four-pocket sheet so having four samples is the perfect amount.

Scott also included a few Topps Archives Giants cards. The 1981 designs are nice-enough. Not my favorite design but there’s something comfortable about it.

The 1959-designed Clark meanwhile is this close to being a great card but I can’t get over the off-centered name. A shame. 1959 Topps is kind of a wonderful design to update and repurpose. Something about it just screams “trading card” and featuring Clark’s signature makes the whole thing pop so well.

The final card in the envelope is a Stanford Football card. I’m not actively collecting non-baseball Alumni but I’ve been putting the ones I do come across into my Stanford Albums* and this one fits in just right there.

*Yes I’ve been coming across others too.

Thanks Scott! I need to go through my duplicates and really see who deserves to be on your ASU pile.

American Beauty

I came back from a trip to California last week and found a few surprise maildays waiting for me. The first was a plain white envelope from Mark Hoyle which was an extra surprise since I had so recently received a package from him. I was definitely not prepared for what I was to find inside.

Mark is a Jim Lonborg collector. Since Lonborg is a Stanford guy I obviously collect him too and Mark felt my collection would be improved by adding one of his extra 1976 Safelon Super Star lunch bags to it. It certainly is.

This is something I had never even heard of and it’s foreign to me on multiple levels.By the time I was a kid in the 1980s, lunch bags were no longer being made out of plastic. Yes they frequently included multiple plastic bags inside but most everyone (in California at least) was trying to reduce our plastic consumption. The idea of buying packages of cheap disposable plastic bags like this feels like something from another world.

Also, the idea of including player pictures like this as part of a national product issue speaks to an age when kids knew all the players in the sport. That I initially thought that these had to be a regional Philadelphia issue confirms how much things had fragmented by the time I was a kid. I can only imagine the equivalent of these from my youth featuring team logos and being sold on a by-team basis.

Now to figure out how to store this. It’s slightly too tall for an 8.5×11 sheet but I’ll probably just fold the bottom up when I put it in. And then my Stanford binder will get a little more odd and a little more wonderful.

Mark also included ten junk wax cards of Hall of Famers for the kids. So we had a little draft.* It’s fun to see what they choose and why. The Biggio was a hit because of the photo. Gossage was the last card standing but only because my eldest didn’t realize that Rich and Goose were the same guy. Both of them were happy to get a Gary Carter because he had also played for the Giants.

*I’m not going to lie. I was kind of tempted to steal that Schmidt All Star Glossy (I didn’t though)

The boys then proceeded to play some kind of War* game with their stacks of cards where they’d pick two cards, compare a certain stat, and then celebrate if their card had better stats. THEN they had to sort these into their binders. I had no idea that ten cards could turn into two hours of fun.

*Or TEGWAR since I couldn’t figure out what the rules were.

Moose!

Tuesday’s news about the latest Hall of Fame class meant it was time to revisit my Reminiscence Bump post and write more about Mike Mussina. This isn’t a diss on Edgar, Mo, or Doc; rather it’s a reflection of the fact that Moose is one of the few players whose career I started followed when he was in college.

While I got into baseball in the end of 1986, 1987 was my first full season as a fan. A good season to be a Giants fan. Also a good season to start going to Stanford games. By the time 1990 rolled around I was a regular fixture at Sunken Diamond. We had a family pass. I was going at least once a weekend. I was keeping score.* I was even starting to get some autographs.**

*With a pitch count and everything.

**Mainly just Paul Carey since he had been pictured on previous-years’ scorecards but I had also discovered the Stanford Alumni game.

That season Mussina and Stan Spencer were our best pitchers and we had a number of other good players in the line up—Carey, Jeffrey Hammonds, and Ryan Turner in the outfield, David McCarty at first, Steve Chitren coming out of the bullpen. It was a fun season and when Stanford qualified for the regionals I got an all-session pass and attended most of the games.

The regional at this time was kind of wonderful. No night games yet so you had three triple headers starting at 9 in the morning. What better way to spend a spring day. The first two days were on school days so I only caught the 4:00 games. Thankfully one of them was the Stanford vs Campbell game where I got an autograph from Mike Caldwell before his #6 seed Campbell Fighting Camels were eliminated.*

*This is a fun story in and of itself since I was the only kid there who asked for his autograph after the game and I don’t think he expected an 11-year-old to hand him a 14-year-old card. 

As the regional progressed though things got a bit more tense. Tighter games, Higher stakes. Despite the wonderful weekend tripleheader this was playoff baseball. Mussina kind of put the team on his back in the clincher and showed why he was called the Bulldog.

In the post-game celebrations fans were allowed onto the field and I took my ticket down with me to get Mussina’s signature. He was in a very good mood but I remember him commenting when he signed my ticket about how having the complete session pass showed I was a true fan.

That spring I was lucky enough to follow the team to Omaha and attend the College World Series. That was a fun trip and a great time to meet baseball fans from all over the country. Not the ending we were hoping for for Stanford but still a good enjoyable ride with Brian Sackinsky’s spot start victory the highlight for the team.

I bought an official NCAA Championship ball as a souvenir from that trip. I even managed to get it signed by all the stars of that year’s team. Except Mussina. Looking at the ball now shows a decent amount of major league talent. Everyone on the ball got at least a cup coffee in the bigs except for Turner—who earned his own small bit of notoriety by becoming the first player in the Rockies franchise.

I’ve always wanted to get Mussina to sign this ball since he’s the obvious missing player but it wasn’t the kind of thing I felt safe just bringing to events like the Alumni game. That was more the kind of event to either bring a brand new ball to or to be prepared with a nice stack of cards.

I have a few Alumni game balls signed by a bunch of guys but by 1992 I was mainly bringing stacks of cards. I only had this one Mussina card but I’m glad I did. This was the last game I saw him at and it was fun to have one of his first professional cards on hand. I was excited to get this autograph at the time and as his career quickly took off this was one of the few “investments” I felt I had in my collection.

Through the rest of the early/mid 90s, the Orioles were kind of the team I pulled for in the American League. I didn’t like the A’s* and the colors were right. Plus besides Mussina they had quite the Stanford connection going on. Carey, Sackinsky, and Hammonds all went there and while Mussina was the clear breakout star, I was rooting for all of those guys to do well.

*It took until 1996 for me to realize that it was LaRussa and his school of overmanagement which I couldn’t stand. I warmed to them a ton once the Moneyball stuff kicked in.

It was fun to watch and keep up with his career even though it seemed like he was always this close to breaking through into all-time legend status but just couldn’t get that last out of the perfect game or the rub of luck in the playoffs.

Once he switched to the Yankees I still couldn’t bring myself to root against him. No I didn’t want the Yankees to win—I rooted for quality starts and a no decision—but I enjoyed seeing him succeed and finish his career strong with that 20-win season.

In many ways I felt like his Hall of Fame chances were going to be like his career in Baltimore where he was a great player who spent most of his time flying under the radar. Someone destined to be thought of as a clear member of the Hall of Very Good rather than an obvious Hall of Famer. So yeah I was relieved that his voting percentages just kept on climbing year after year and I was very very happy to see him clear the bar and become the first Stanford Baseball player in the Hall of Fame.

Mailday from Marc

So in Marc Brubaker’s year-end round up he mentioned that he’d sent me the most cards in 2018. While I’ve had larger maildays,* Marc has certainly sent me the most maildays over the past year and I and extremely grateful for them.

*My trade deficit is USA-level but I try and send out the best I can.

It looks like 2019 is starting up right where 2018 left off. A week ago I found a bright pink bubble mailer from Marc in my mailbox and inside were a bunch more goodies I needed.

The main reason I’ve gotten so many cards from Marc is that I’ve been working on a bunch of junk wax sets which everyone has tons of duplicates of. This mailer continues that with a half-dozen more junk wax needs as well as a bunch of 2014 cards for that set build.

The 1986 Bill Doran in particular is greatly appreciated. This card has been a thorn in my side due to the incorrect card number errors that kind of plague 1986 Topps. Doran shares his card number with Bobby Wine and I’ve gotten a few Wines by mistake so far. I don’t mind most errors but checklist-based ones are probably the worst since they confuse everything.

I’ve not much to say about Mark Langston except to note that he’s a local guy—high school in Sant Clara, college in San José—and that’s always fun to see.

The three 1990 Upper Decks take me to 40 left for set completion. 1991 Donruss is ridiculously close; I’m missing just 22 now. And the ~50 2014s take that build solidly past the halfway point. I’m not still fully feeling the design on this set but I’m enjoying it the more I look at it.

Marc is also one of the few traders who stays on top of my Stanford searchlist. These are always fun to add. Even though I’m pretty sure I have most of these (though I know I don’t have the Bowman Aldrete) due to 1988–1991 being my peak collecting years, duplicates are always appreciated since I plan on starting up some through the mail requests this year. Yes I’m planning on trying to get my son involved as well.

Continuing with Stanford cards, I needed most of these ones. The Mike Mussina Sports Illustrated for Kids is great. Same with all the Jeffrey Hammonds cards. And the McCarty Sportflics is fantastic. The Stephen Piscottys are also fun and the Opening Day foil will add a bit of variety to the album.

Moving into Giants cards. 1990 Topps Big is not my favorite of the Big designs but this Robby Thompson is still a fun card to have. the Jeff Brantley Score Young Superstar is an insert set I never came across as a kid. I know these came in rack packs but I can’t recall seeing them when I was a kid. 1991 Donruss Rookies looks so weird in red.

All the Minor League cards though are just fun. I never collected these in earnest but I love seeing the Giants ones and remembering names I haven’t thought of in decades. I like Studio 1993 a lot and the Kirt Manwaring Award Winner card is also great. It’s not one of his fantastic photo cards but it’s nice to be reminded of when he was all promise.

Now into Giants cards from the new-to-me age. The Mark Carreon “dreaming of being Bo” is hilarious. The Shawon Dunston Fleer Ultra is interesting. I’m not too keen on this set yet but I can see why people like it. 1999 Fleer is growing on me as well. And the Willie McCovey disc is great.

A bunch of these are also team-set needs and it’s always satisfying to cross those off the search list.

Finally, a few cards that don’t fit in any categories. The Sid Fernandez is for whenever I start putting together a “players from Hawai‘i” project. The William Hoy is just a great card of a player with a great story. The colorization annoys me but it’s nice to see Topps is remembering him.

The Bill Brubaker is the star here. There’s a long backstory to this. Part of it is covered in a SABR post where some of the community sort of crushed Marc’s enthusiasm about finding a card of someone who shared his last name but recognizing that the photo was incorrect. The rest is in Marc doing the research to determine that Bill is actually his cousin, finding some Charles Conlon photos of him, and making a custom to correct the error card. Anyway Marc is sure to blog about this on his own* so I’m going to stop there.

*Update as of January 23. Marc has now blogged about it.

Marc’s a member of the codependent support group doing custom cards last season. I sent him the Astros cards from my set as well as a few other customs and we’ve talked about how moving forward making more customs and things like that is likely to take precedence over active collecting. I very much enjoy have one of his customs in my binder.

Thanks Marc and Happy New Year!

One Million Cubs

When Beau (@One Million Cubs) first appeared on Twitter just over a year ago I both thought he was crazy and that there was no way he’d stick around long enough to actually seriously make a dent in his goal. While the jury’s still out on the former, he’s already managed to hit the quarter-million mark and has a fun blog documenting his progress.

I kid, I kid. He’s been a great addition to the community. Earlier this year I made a quick 1989-Topps-style custom card template for him to use and sent him a pair of sample designs to demonstrate how to just drop an image into the template. It’s been fun to see both of them in the wild and yes I’ve totally changed how I hear his twitter name in my head now.

I figured it was time to contribute what I could to his project and sent him my meager stack of Cubs duplicates from my youth. I wasn’t expecting a ton in exchange since I didn’t expect any of my stack to be truly new cards for his collection* and even new late-80s/early-90s cards aren’t usually that exciting.

*I was quite pleased to be incorrect here.

Last week a bubble mailer arrived and inside was indeed some fun stuff. Only three old cards from last century but they’re all winners. The 1983 Donruss MVPs suggests that those early-80s Giants team had a lot more talent than they did but it’s a nice card just the same. The Leaf Special Olympics card is a very cool oddball and it’s just nice to see cards of Stretch. And the 1987 Will Clark is a duplicate but one of my favorite cards of him.

About half the package consisted of cards from 2000 to 2015 and included a lot more McCovey love. That 1963 reprint in particular looks great but the Donruss Threads card is pretty nice too. The Fleer Fall Classic card is interesting (and infuriating) in how Yankee Stadium gets treated as generic World Series decoration.

I kind of love the crazy Pacific cards more and more each time I see them They’re not something I want a set of but as an individual items they really jazz up a page. The Matty mini is great. As is the Heritage 1951 Bumgarner.

The other half of the package was all 2018 cards. Kind of wonderfully it was almost all cards from sets that I refuse to buy. Lots of Chrome. I still don’t understand the set but at least it uses different photos on some of the cards. Miguel Gomez for example here is one such case. Also Evan Longoria has a base Chrome card and a Chrome Update card and I don’t understand why.

Also a decent amount of Fire including an interesting parallel. And my first samples of Gallery and Gold Label. As always with sets like these, it’s nice to have samples to see and handle even if the sets aren’t for me. I’m not a Gold Label or Gallery guy at all. Not my thing—especially at the prices they retail for. But I enjoy having a sample and such samples make trade packages especially enjoyable.

Speaking of things I don’t buy, I think this doubled the amount of 2018 Panini I own. The Diamond Kings is a really interesting product in terms of how it’s manufactured. Optic makes even less sense to me than Chrome. Classics though is actually kind of nice. It’s good to get a Bumgarner card considering how he’s not present in any 2018 Topps releases.

Last two cards in the package go in the Stanford Album. I’m not generically expanding the album beyond baseball but I’ve been including cards as I come across them—I’ve found some random basketball cards in stacks—as well as picking up football cards of guys like Toi Cook who played baseball and whose cards explicitly mention baseball.

I’ve also been adding non-baseball-players who happen to show up in (mostly) baseball sets like Allen and Ginter and am appreciating the character the non-baseball cards add to the album. So when Beau tweeted a whole stack of Tiger Woods cards I noticed one which looked like he was still playing for Stanford and said I’d be interested. Turns out that it is indeed a card of Woods at Stanford and that’s pretty cool.

Thanks so much Beau and best of luck adding another quarter million Cubs to your collection in 2019.

PWE Trade with Angels in Order

So I had a couple of trades come in just before Christmas but with the kids off of school I haven’t had a chance to blog about them properly until now.

The first is a small plain white envelope trade from Tom over at Angels in Order. He’d picked up a box set of Oscar Meyer Superstar Round Up Pop Up Discs and after picking the Angels out was offering the rest for trade. Aside from the Angels, Tom collects checklists* and I had a bunch that weren’t on his list. So I sent offered those in exchange for the Jack McDowell and a trade was born.

*While I’ve discovered a newfound appreciation for checklist cards they still aren’t things I feel like holding on to so it’s great to know who to send them to.

I am a sucker for discs, food issues, and weird stuff like pop-ups so this card is kind of perfect for me. As much as the Stanford project can feel like a collection of collections, it also allows me to focus on only specific cards instead of getting sidetracked into an oddball mania.

Part of me really wants to pop this up. The other part of me just knows that I’ll end up ripping the card if I do so. Plus it’s not like I’ll be able to display this popped up. But I’m still tempted to do so since there’s also a lot of stuff going on in actually manufacturing a little device like this that has embedded movable paper portions which you can manipulate in order to make the outside move.

Anyway this is very cool and a wonderful addition to my collection.

Tom also used a bunch of junk wax to stiffen the envelope. Only he checked my set need lists and used ten cards that I needed for my set builds.

First off, four 1990 Fleers which take me to missing only 35 to complete the set. None of the cards in this set are rare but it’s nice to see that most of the 35 I’m missing are true commons too.

And the six 1990 Upper Decks take my search there to missing only 43. I need mostly commons here too (though I am missing all the Bo Jacksons) and it’s going to be interesting to see these two 1990 sets race to the finish line.

Thanks for the trade Tom!

Year-end round-up

End of the year and a lull in the collecting season—well at least baseball card season—means it’s as good a time as any to look back at my projects and see how things have come in the past year. Where I did the 30-day challenge a year ago as a way of gauging how my re-entry to the hobby had come, I’ve now had a proper year of really working on projects and to see how well the hobby can hold my interest.

Giants

My initial project of Topps team sets from 1953–1993 is at a point of stability where there are no longer any truly-cheap cards left. For the 1960s and 1970s I’m only missing various Hall of Famers (especially Mays), big rookies, and high numbers. So those, when they do come, will take a while and instead I’ve moved into the 1950s and started looking for various Bowman releases.

Thanks to Adam and Artie I’ve also added a wonderful chunk of 1994–present Giants cards to the point where finishing off the Topps run there doesn’t require many more cards. Well, it needs close to 80 cards but for a two-dozen-year period that’s not that many. I’ve also started adding other team sets to this searchlist as well. Not all of the brands and things, just ones where I’m either close or which I happen to particularly like.

In the coming year I plan on focusing on the 1950s cards as those are much more enjoyable to acquire. I’ll certainly welcome newer cards in trade packages and things like that but it’s in the old stuff–especially pre-San Francisco stuff that I’m finding myself having a lot of fun.

Stanford

I’ve really turned the corner on this project. Aside from only needing eleven cards from the original project scope now—a massive update from my previous update—there is also only one player* with a Modern Major League card that I don’t have in my binder and one other player* who played in the Majors but only has minor league cards.

*Bob Kammeyer whose The Wiz Yankees card is his only MLB card.

*Steve/Mike Davis who has a couple ~1980 Syracuse Chiefs cards.

Of the eleven cards I need, there’s one “white whale” in Doug Camilli’s 1962 high-number rookie which is shared with Bob Uecker and another few semi-spendy cards. Camilli’s 1966 high number is one. As are Jim Lonborg’s 1965 rookie card as well as his 1968 and 1970 cards.

But that’s about it. The rest of my searchlist are cards that exist but which I can’t seem to find. Some of these are understandable because they come from team sets like Sam Fuld’s 2014 Rays card and John Mayberry’s 2010 Phillies card where the card in the team set does not exist in the Flagship set. Others are special editions like David McCarty’s 2004 World Champions card.

Rick Helling’s 2002 Traded card makes no sense as to why it’s so much harder to find than the various parallels. Nor does it make sense to me why Brian Sackinsky’s 1995 Topps is nowhere to be found or why Paul Zuvella’s 1986 Traded card costs a dollar.

Anyway, I’ve added cards to the searchlist which fill in holes that Topps didn’t cover. Even there I only have 16 cards missing and of those, 10 are regionally-issued oddballs that I don’t expect to come across very frequently. All of which means that aside from new releases, I’m only really looking for fewer than 30 cards now.

Sets

I’ve made a surprising amount of progress here to the point where all my set goals are in a race to completion. 1991 Donruss is missing 23 cards. 1978 Topps is missing 35. So is 1990 Fleer. 1990 Upper Deck is missing 43 cards. And 1986 Topps is missing 89.

In some ways 1978 has the best chance to complete itself since I’ll actually spend money to buy cards here. In other ways I could find a package in my mailbox tomorrow which finishes any, or all, of the junk wax sets. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens here.

Other projects

My other projects don’t really have a finish line or evolution implied in them. Which is good. I don’t want too many checklists to look after. I’m slowly picking up cards which document expansions and moves but those are more about finding things that are interesting to me. Same with the action cards and the photography cards.

I’m still grabbing Spanish-language cards if I come across them for a good price. I don’t need them all, I just love seeing the variety and am perfectly fine if they intersect with my other projects.

Same with the oddballs. I try and keep those focused to Stanford or Giants cards but sometimes something is just too cool. No checklist again—well aside from kind of sort of wanting to complete the Dennys Holograms—just following my gut and going with stuff that’s sufficiently odd.

Will I start a new project this year? I don’t know. I do know it’s nice to feel focused and have very specific things to look for and I’d like to see how this goes for a while.