Matchbooks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*By a year over the Dixie lid.

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

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

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

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

April Returns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening Day from Bru

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Hubbell!

Anson at Pre-war Cards runs a regular sale where he offloads duplicates and things from his collection. I don’t participate much—things are either way out of my price range or they get claimed almost immediately.* His most recent sale was no exception here but a couple items that were highly relevant to my interests were neither snapped up in the first minute nor obscenely expensive.

*Previous purchases include a couple soccer cards as well as a couple Zee-nuts.

Highlight of the batch was this 1937 Dixie Lid of Carl Hubbell. It’s obviously creased and there’s also a backing cardboard attached which was either intended to stabilize the crease or is just a remnant of how it was displayed decades ago. A little sad to not be able to see the Dixie branding and know what kind of ice cream this was from but as someone who’s been wanting a vintage Hubbell for a long time to add to my retired numbers project, all of those issues meant I could actually afford this.

I’m being optimistic and calling this my first Hubbell card. I’m also being optimistic about this being my first Dixie Lid. The 1930s ones are very cool alternatives to the trading cards of that decade and the 1950s ones have left/right pairs that turn into stereo views.

This 1935 Eckstein-Halpaus cigarette card featuring Herbert Hoover and his two sons is part of a set called “The Post-war Period”—making this an explicitly post-war pre-war card. Not quite a “playing-days” card of Hoover but probably as close as I would expect to get for my collection.

The text is not the usual fare you expect to see on any trading card and is best rendered as a dump from Google Translate.

December 1928: Hoover becomes President of the USA

While the first surging signs of the unhealthy global economic situation have already become visible in Germany, the United States is still experiencing an artificially-induced economic boost. On 11/7/28, Hoover is elected the new President; under him, on 10/28/29, the great collapse of the American economy began.

That this is from a 1935 set puts a lot of things into context. The Weimar Republic collapsed in 1933 after a massive depression precipitated in part by the US stock market crash. Hitler took over as Chancellor and became dictator in 1934. Googling around suggests that this set explicitly covers (I suspect it actually celebrates) the rise of the Third Reich and contains some cards that will make my existing worst cards seem benign.

Anson, as is his wont, included a couple bonus cards in the envelope. This one, from the 1926 Player’s Cigarettes Gilbert and Sullivan set, threatens to outshine the two cards I bought. It’s not just a Gilbert and Sullivan card, it’s the very model of a modern Major General card.

One of the things I love about pre-war cards is how varied the topics are. I’m not sure you could find a set for every item listed in his song but looking through all the available sets it certainly feels as if it should be possible.  Having a card of him is kind of the perfect encapsulation of what makes pre-war collecting so much fun.

This is an oversize version of sets that appear to be much more common in regular tobacco card sizes. I kind of love many of the cards in those sets but oof are the Mikado cards rough to look at.

A card of the Luft Hansa Heinkel HE 70 from the 1936 Player’s Cigarettes International Air Liners set is a fun addition as well. I’m more of a trains guy but the early aviation stuff tends to make for very nice cards too. I’m glad that this one’s livery features what looks like a Dutch flag rather than a Nazi one. Though I’m not sure why that flag is painted on the tail since it’s doesn’t match the Luft Hansa livery from that time.

Last of the bonus cards actually ties in with my first pre-war purchase a handful of years ago where I lamented how none of the Kings from Richard II to Henry VII were available. Edward IV is probably the least notable Shakespearean monarch but his coronation does end the Henry VI cycle.

Thanks Anson. Very cool stuff which I’m very happy to slide into the album.

February returns

Finally getting some requests out again. Which meant that I started to get them back too. Always surprises me how fast things come back. Feels good to be back in the saddle even though I didn’t get to send things out to Spring Training as I was hoping to.

The first return of the month came from junkballer Chris Hammond in 21 days. He had a rough start to his career. Was having a decent 1994 when the strike hit but everything else was kind of mediocre. In the late 90s he reinvented himself as a reliever and by 2002 he’d put things together and had a pretty good three year run. His 2002 season in particular was kind of amazing as he pitched 76 innings over 63 games with a 0.95 ERA.

A 21 day return from Tim McIntosh brought another 1991 Studio card to the collection. I’m really enjoying working these duplicates as it’s one of the most-unique sets from my youth and it taught me so much about what I can consider a baseball card to be.

I got a  super fun return from Brian Johnson in 44 days. One of my favorite things about sending extra customs is getting notes back thanking me for them. Knowing that I’m offering the players something is one of the best parts of sending customs and it’s always nice to hear that they appreciate my work. This card in particular has photos from two highlights of his career. The Stanford photo is from the post-championship celebration in (I think) 1987 while the Giants photo comes from his eponymous game in 1997 (which I attended).

Johnson had an interesting career. One of only two positions he didn’t play at Sanford was actually catcher (the other was 2nd Base and of course he also played Quarterback) so of course that’s what he ended up playing in MLB. He put together an 8-year career with his 1997 season in San Francisco being the clear highlight. It’s always nice when a journeyman player manages to get a game named after him for all the right reasons.

A fast 6-day return from Richie Hebner brought another 1981 card to the collection. I wish I had more cards of him since he’s a bit of  character whatwith the gravedigger nickname and offseason profession. I also enjoyed his chapter in the Wax Pack book.

The same day I got the Hebner return I got a 207-day return from Ed Hearn. I enjoy both catching photos but there’s always going to be something about a catcher standing in a cloud of dust which takes a baseball card to the next level. I’m convinced that they don’t make dirt like that anymore and it’s a shame photographically.

1990 Fleer is a design that gets maligned (completely fairly) as boring and forgettable. It is however often transformed by an autograph. No signature this Roy Smith card would be kind of awkwardly cropped and forgettable. With the signature it has a certain something. Smith’s a bi of a baseball lifer and returned this in 12 days.

I always like being able to send cards that are like a decade apart. It’s nice to get a range of a guy’s career—especially when it’s someone whose last card is from my youth. This 8-day return from Buck Martinez is the perfect example with a card from 1976 and 1985. I only wish I’d had a card of him managing as well.

A 9-day return from Steve Balboni made me think about the way I react to players as I go through my duplicates from the late 80s and early 90s. Much to my surprise I’m finding myself having strong reactions to America League guys like Balboni or Kelly Gruber. I think this is because as a National League fan I only heard about the  more-prominent American League guys. I might remember more NL guys but the prominent AL ones are the ones that I learned through hype.

Balboni, for a few years, was a bonafide star. A ton of home runs in 1985 and even when his production declined he still hit bombs. I don’t think I ever saw him play but I definitely knew who he was.

1987 being the first full season of baseball I ever watched means I was actually invested in the World Series for the first time. I don’t normally remember mangers but I do remember Tom Kelly who makes a nice pair with the Whitey Herzog return. He returned this in 10 days.

Thad Bosley’s 1986 Topps card is one of those that sticks out to me from my youth. I didn’t include a 1986 card in my Reminiscence Bump post because I wasn’t collecting that year but either his card or Jerry Don Gleaton would be my choice for cards I remember collecting from packs of that year (the Traded set of course consisted of cards I coveted). Anyway it was fun to get a signed copy back in 11 days.

I got a 17-day return from Mike Mason who had a decent 7-year MLB career. It makes sense to get him on a Rangers card but I really wish I’d had a copy of his excellent 1988 Topps card as well. Alas I probably sent all mine to One Million Cubs years ago.

A 211-day return from Don Carman brought my second multi-hundred day return of the month. Carman spent a decade in the majors—mostly with Philadelphia—but is most noteworthy for his list of boilerplate interview responses.

Charles Nagy is a name I remember from my youth. Not so much my childhood years but my adolescent ones where despite the strike I couldn’ ignore those mid-1990s Cleveland teams. He was also on the 1988 Olympic team that I got to see practice at Sunken Diamond.

These came back in 18 days. Was surprised I had multiple cards of him. I don’t usually use 1993 Donruss but this one works. And I really like the 1997 Topps even though it’s a typical “fonts are upside down when in the pocket” horizontal design.

For whatever reason I’ve accumulated a ton of these 2010 Franchise History cards. Realizing I should send one to Renel made me realize that I should also send on to Jon Miller. It’s not summer if I don’t hear his voice and I’m a bit worried about what this summer will bring. I know that announcer Hall of Famers are a different category but it’s nice to get a HoFer back in just 11 days. It’s also nice that this is a card from the year he got inducted.

All in all a very good month. Good to be back and I’m hopeful things will continue in this manner. I’ve especially enjoyed adding a bunch to my 1986 and 1988 piles. I’m not going for signed sets (I’m amazed by everyone doing this but am not at all tempted) but the fact that I have almost 70 of each of those sets signed is still pretty cool.

Big time mission creep

What I didn’t cover in my 2021 wrap-up is all the mission creep that has happened to my Stanford project. There’s been A LOT of it. While the bulk of the project is baseball, I’ve found that I really enjoy using the alumni thing to pursue vintage cards from all sports. I’m not trying for the same comprehensive one-per-year-per-player thing I am with baseball. But it’s been a lot of fun to get samples for the sets from all the sports.

It’s especially fun to go into pre-war and get the few Stanford guys who show up there. I already have a Pete Desjardins 1934 Gallaher and this 1935 Godfrey Phillips Lawson Little is a great addition as well.  I’m only scanning the back of this one card since it’s the only pre-war I’ve added here.

Football

The bulk of my additions were football. Mostly vintage stuff but I did get a few autographs. It’s weird to see Stanford get called a “football school” in old movies, like Double Indemnity but there’s clearly something there since there are Stanford players in football sets going back to the 1930s (the 1935 National Chicle Ernie Caddel is one of those cards I’d love to add but LOL at the price, maybe I should try for a Diamond Matchbook).

Nothing surprising in the autographs. Gerhart and Gaffney are actually baseball players who never played pro baseball. I really like the Plunkett though with the photo that could be either New England or Stanford.

I didn’t scan all the cards, just enough to show the variety that every player and set offers to the binder. While scanning, I did find that I have a soft spot for the pre-merger cards, especially the ones from the 1950s when football feels like a completely different sport to me.

It doesn’t hurt that the cards from that era are kind of awesome. I love the old Bowman designs in particular but 1960s Philadelphia and Topps designs aren’t bad either. Heck many of the Topps designs through 1987 are wonderfully distinct too.

After 1988 the “vintage/junk wax” line sort of kicks in as more companies get involved. I’m using this project a a way of acquainting myself with the older designs and when we get multiple companies using the same designs in all sports I’m not nearly as interested.

Basketball

Stanford’s tradition in basketball is not nearly as strong. There are a few guys from the 50s and 60s* who have cards but most of those are kind of spendy mainly because early basketball releases seem to be pretty uncommon.

*Howie Dallmar, Jim Pollard, and George Yardley

I did get a bunch of autographs since they were super cheap. Was especially nice to get many of the guys who I watched when I was a student and who remind me of that improbable era when we went to a Final Four. Stanford is not a basketball school but for a decade there it kind of was.

As with football, I’m mainly using this as a way of getting samples of the vintage designs. This means I didn’t scan the cards of the guys who I watched as a student. It also means that Stanford’s lack of influence on the ABA/NBA in the 1970s and 1980s is on full display by the fact that I only have 8 cards here. Thank god for Rich Kelley giving me a reason to get cards from 1977–1981. And yes that is a 1952 Wheaties card of Jim Pollard. I’d love a 1948 Bowman but LOL.

I took a different tack with the women since women’s basketball cards have been an inconsistent thing as the WNBA has taken a long time to really take off in any shape or form. Really interesting how cards only show up in certain brief gaps of history and then disappear again. Is nice that many of them happen to cover the years that players I watched when I was a student ended up in the pros.

Other

Kind of the holding area for all the other Stanford cards. I’ve written about some already but everything non-football, non-basketball is in here right now.

Two autographs. Both good ones. Mendoza is arguably a baseball card since it came out of Topps Archives.

Everything else is kind of a wonderful pile of randomness. I didn’t even scan all of them here either but they all make the binder that much more interesting. I’m going to have to really investigate the Olympicards set though since that Sanders photo is killer.

And yeah. No real defined searchlists although I do have everyone in the binder who’s not a baseball player listed on the page. I’ll continue to poke and prod at this as the mood strikes me but it’s mainly a chance to just have some fun browsing for cards.

PWE from Night Owl

A short post about a PWE from Greg/Night Owl. Thanks to his previous mailing I added Shawn Green’s Topps run to my Stanford search list. This apparently inspired Greg to go through his extra Greens and see if he had any of the Topps run since the first mailing had none.

Not a huge success as he was only able to find the 2005 card but I’ll take it. Will make a nice pair with the 2005 Opening Day that’s already in the binder. The more I look at the 2005 design the more I like it. It’s never going to be a favorite but it’s a basic competent design* with a nice splash of team color on the borders.

*My biggest problem are the cards which replace the player name with DRAFT PICK or PROSPECT without changing enough of the rest of the design.

Greg also included this 2021 Archives Will Clark which I’m sure he was thrilled to get out of his house. Since Clark’s last season was 2001 this almost works as a career capper card. Nice to see him in a Giants uniform though. The Cardinals one looks so wrong. I’m not sure how Topps chooses which vintage logo to use for these though since the 1980s primary logo that shows up on all the 1980s cards makes a lot more sense than the cap logo which Topps selected.

Anyway. I’m happy to slot in another Green card into the Stanford album and I’m happy to add some Archives since I don’t buy that product. Thanks Greg!

A pile from Night Owl

Way back in November, Greg/Night Owl made a plea for people to take a bunch of extra Dodgers cards off his hands. While his request was intended for other Dodgers collectors, I figured it was a sign that I should take the plunge into collecting Shawn Green so I commented hat if he felt like dumping a bunch of Shawn Green on me I’d be happy to take them.

The madness of the holiday season means that sending mailings out like this gets backburnered until the week after Christmas. Sure enough, I found a bubble mailer in my mailbox on New Year’s Eve and inside was the stack of Shawn Green cards and an almost-threatening note.

I appreciate that Greg kept things in check. Where the other Stanford guys who didn’t play baseball for Stanford tend to not have many of cards at all, Green has a ton.* As I said way back when I first added him to the binder, I don’t want to supercollect him. But I won’t turn down a big stack and as a legitimate star/semi-star he does show up in a lot of sets which I’ve not included in the binder.

*Checking Trading Card Database. Bill Wakefield has 14, Bobby Brown has 34, Kenny Williams has 62, and Shawn Green has 4,445.

Anyway, to the pile. Since Greg is a Dodgers fan it only covers 2000–2005 when Green was getting Dodgers cards. He did however do a nice job in giving me a few cards from each year.

Starting off in 2000. I’m glad there’s one card depicting Green as a Blue Jay here. I have Giants cards from most of these sets but I’m pretty sure none of them are represented in my Stanford Album. I’ve tended to focus on either the base flagship sets or oddballs in that album. This is partly for simplicity’s sake and partly because I can’t be bothered to learn about the thousands of sets released in the 1990s and 2000s

This group of six kind makes that point since not only are none of them are from base flagship sets, they’re all from releases that only lasted a couple years. In many ways I love how much the hobby was trying things out. In other ways it’s a clear sign that everything was out of control.

To the 2001. Same story as with the 2000s except that I need to point out that my Stadium Club coverage of these years in all albums is thin to none. Greg included Stadium Club cards for 2000–2003 and they were my first representatives of those sets in any of my collections. I should probably rectify that for other Stanford guys as well as the Giants. Anyway this 2001 Stadium Club card is an especially nice image of Pac Bell Park in its first year.

The two Topps HD cards intrigue me. I don’t quite understand what makes this set HD since nothing besides the card thickness really jumps out to me as being different. I also don’t really understand what was going on with Topps Fusion. Both of those sets appear to be single-year experiments though so it’s nice to have a couple samples.

2002 has probably the most interesting mix of cards. Traditional photography like Stadium Club. Crazy chromed out stuff in Finest. Retro “painting” on the Topps 206. Acetate/clear stock on the E-X.

The Bats Incredible card is the one that catches my eye though. It kind of looks like an insert and it kind of looks a base card from a set that was designed to have a relic or signature in the top right corner on the hits. Definitely another one-year-wonder of a release but I can’t help but wonder how and why it was released.

This image covers both 2003 and 2004. Not a ton to say about these except that I love the 2003 Playoff Portraits card. As leery as I am about most of the fake paintings that end up on cards, the way this set is actually textured really enhances the painting feel. I’m pretty sure this was around for only one year which is a shame since it would’ve been nice to collect a couple seasons of these.

The Bowman Heritage in the 1955 design meanwhile shows the kind of thing that I dislike about so many of the Heritage cards. 1955 Bowman, despite the color TVs dominating the design, has a really distinct photographic look. An extreme crop from a generic action image like this doesn’t quite measure up and demonstrates a certain lack of understanding about what makes sets memorable.

Finishing up with the 2005s. Where the Playoff Portraits is great, the Diamond Kings is mess. It’s worth pointing out here that this is the only year with anything approaching the standard base cards. These are the only base Donruss and Fleer in the pile and the Opening Day is basically identical* to the Flagship card.

*And arguably an improvement with the blue foil on the Dodgers card.

Having the Opening Day card inspired me to add Green’s Topps Flagship run to my Stanford wantlist page.* I’ll probably take a gander at Sportlots or Cardbarrel at some point. No real rush though especially with so many Green cards in the Binder now.

*As well as Bobby Brown’s Bowman run.

Thanks Greg! I’m glad I could help with your duplicates problem.

My first NWSL card

The increasing presence of soccer (and women’s basketball) cards has kind of ramped up the gravity which is pulling my Stanford project into mission creep. I’m increasingly interested in old, vintage cards of Stanford athletes,* but I was doing fine staying away from modern cards until everyone started opening packs of NWSL cards last summer.

*Not in a comprehensive must-get-every-card way, just as a way of picking up some examples of classic Topps/Bowman/Fleer Football and basketball cards.

It turns out that I kind of love looking through checklists from sets like this to find Stanford players. It also turns out that guys who buy the packs for a cheap fun rip also find themselves with a pile of cards which they don’t want to keep all of. One such guy was Shlabotnik Report who sent me a quick note to let him know who the Stanford alumnae* were in the set.

*#8 Tegan McGrady, #124 Kelly O’Hara,  #141 Tierna Davidson, #143 Jordan DiBiasi, #158 Lo’eau LaBonta, #160 Averie Collins, #191 Ali Riley, #192 Jane Campbell, and Cityscape insert #13 Sophia Smith.

He went through his cards and found that he had the Averie Collins. A couple days later I found it packed with a bunch of other cards in a PWE in my mailbox.  Very cool.

Collins was part of the team that won Stanford’s second NCAA championship in 2017. She also did the very Stanford thing of graduating with a year of eligibility left and then playing a last season as a grad student at another college (which resulted in her missing a second NCAA championship as Sanford won again in 2019).

These Parkside cards have the feel of  some of the Minor League team sets and I’m trying to figure out why that is. Could be the printing quality but it could also be something about the design.

Moving to the other cards in the envelope. Sticking with soccer, this foil Coutinho Attax card was included to add to me Barcelona page. It’s only a page for now but people do seem to like sending me Barça cards since while I don’t seek them out I’m happy to keep them.

Coutinho is a good player who hasn’t the greatest fit for the team; one of many such signings the team has made over the past 5 years or so as I’ve kind of drifted away.* It’s tough to watch a team of players who haven’t been assembled with any clear philosophy besides “hope Messi does something.” I’m hopeful this year, as bad as it’s gone so far, represents a fresh start of sorts.

*The difficulty ins even finding match highlights has not helped either.

Took me longer than it should’ve to recognize hat these two 1979s were actually O Pee Chees. You’d think between the logo, white card stock, French backs, and horrible trimming that I’d’ve figured it out sooner but nope. Like the Barça cards these are things that I love adding to the binder but which I never seek out.

Three Topps mini leaders. With their glossy finish, white card stock,  and colored backs, these were some of my favorite cards when I was a kid. Something about the small size made them feel special too. Little cards made to a higher standard featuring the better players.

And finally a handful of 2004 Total (not a cereal tie-in). I love the Total concept of having a lower-quality produced set featuring all the players. Not sure if it works for set collectors but it’s great for team collectors. I’m not quite ready to create a searchlist for these but I probably should.

And that’s it. Lots of fun stuff and definitely my favorite kind of Christmas cards.

October Returns

My sending has gone way down just like my blog posting has. But cards are continuing to come in so that’s been fun.

Th first card of the month came in the dreaded damaged-envelope envelope. My SASE was intact, it had just been dropped in a puddle or something and fully saturated. I don’t mean any disrespect to Bruce Fields here but I was kind of glad ha the soaked card was just his 1989 Topps duplicate. Thankfully Sharpies use acetone as a solvent instead of water.  Anyway this came back in 24 days and despite the damage looks and scans well enough to go in the album with the rest of my 1989 duplicates.

Rich Monteleone was a Giant for that ill-fated 1994 season. I’m glad I had a card available to send and 1994 Fleer always looks good. I wish I’d collected more 1994 cards as a kid but it’s clear I was already drifting away before the strike did me in. Monteleone sent these back in 14 days.

Kurt Stillwell is one of those names I remember from my youth since he was a bit of a rookie prospect in my first years as a collector. I was happy to try a 1987 Donruss since I haven’t sent many of them out yet. It’s also been way too long since I got another 1991 Studio signed so I was very happy to get both of these back in just 13 days.

A 24-day return from Jim Palmer is one of the last from my most-recent batch of customs. It’s always a good day when I get a custom back though and it always makes me happy when the player keeps some of the ones I sent.

I got a surprise 238-day return from AJ Hinch who looks to be getting to his spring training mail now that the season is over. I’m glad he bounced back with a decent season with the Tigers this year since, while I don’t condone what the Astros did, I also think Hinch got treated as the fall guy for something that the league both enabled and condoned and which is pervasive across all the teams.

I was a little disappointed with this return because he didn’t sign any of the customs I sent. Maybe he’s a strict one-signature-per-request guy. Maybe he doesn’t sign Astros cards anymore. Or maybe he just wanted to keep all the customs. I’ll assume the last one since it makes me happiest even though I can’t add another signed 1978ish custom to the collection.

I couldn’t be too disappointed though because signing the 1993 Traded card makes for a fantastic pair with the card I got signed back in early 1994 when Hinch was still a teenager. It’s always fun to see how someone’s signature has evolved—especially from teenage years to middle age—and I appreciate how he still avoids signing right on top of the black chest protector.

Another longish return, this time 74 days from Bobby Meacham who’s definitely one of those names I remember as a kid. Unfortunately it’s probably in part due to his shenanigans with Dale Berra but I think there’s more to it than that too. Plus it’s always nice to add another signed 1988 Topps to the collection.

A pair of cards from Eric Soderholm came back in just 7 days. I felt a little bad sending the 1976 card since he missed that entire season due to injury but it was the oldest one I had. Plus, Soderholm won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 1977 after coming back from that season.

A 204-day return from Roy Thomas brought anther 1986 Topps to the collection. After working my dupes pretty hard I’ve already stopped expecting to see them come back. This isn’t the best representative of the set with Thomas looking very much like a guy whose career is wrapping up and who’s seen a lot.

And that’s about it. Nothing the last two weeks due to my sending being way way down. November looks to be super light as well though I should try and send some out before the holidays. Maybe I should just buckle down and sort through dupes for next year.