Box of “Junk”

A couple months ago I received a box of cards from @Captnarrr who had grown tired of using it as a doorstop in his woodshop. No pages this time so I didn’t have the same sense of looking through someone else’s collection that I had from his previous box. Instead I just found stacks of mostly 1981 to 1985 Topps.

I’m not going to go through all the cards because they’re mostly commons and I don’t feel like scanning or photographing them all. But it’s a fun stack which hits a bunch of sets that fall into a bit of a black hole in my card knowledge.

Cards from before 1979 I never encountered in the wild as a kid so everything I’ve learned about them involved learning about them through hobby sources. However since I also spent a decent amount of time trying to choose which one of them I wanted for my collection, I got a chance to look through the commons binders and at least see a good amount of the sets.

1980–1985 though are cards which I opened exactly one pack of.* As a result, despite being cards that I’m superficially aware of, my knowledge has been limited to the ~15 cards I pulled over three decades ago.

*Except 1983 Fleer and 1984 Donruss which cost more than I could justify on a pack and so I just purchased Giants team sets. 

Which means that it’s been a lot of fun to just look through, sort these, and get a much better sense of some sets that, given my age in the hobby, I would expect to know better.

A few Hall of Famers (and one should-be Hall of Famer) to show some of the breadth of cards here. As a Giants collector, the league leader cards are things I don’t come across much in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And it’s nice for me to find cards of players like Carlton, Fingers, Perry, and Stargell who aren’t exactly 1980s stars but are fun to find in these much-more affordable 1980s sets.

And the Giants cards from the box.Most of these I have already. Some are upgrades to what I do have though. But most of them have been mixed in with my existing duplicates for distribution to the boys who still very much enjoy adding to their Giants baseball card collections.

It wasn’t just early-80s stuff in the box though. The oldest cards were a handful of 1961 Yankees cards including the always-interesting Ryne Duren who I’ll have to make sure to tell the boys about. It’s funny, I complain about the Yankees surcharge but I also have to admit that I’m more likely to recognize a random Yankee than a lot of other players.

A few other older cards included a card of Ruben Amaro Sr. whose son is part of my Stanford collection and a 1973 team card of the Mets which doesn’t appear to include Willie Mays in the team picture.

And finally, probably the weirdest part of the box was 15 Tigers cards from 1976. This is a significant portion of the base Tigers cards from that year but given how Captnarrr lives in he Pacific Northwest, I’m a bit confused about how/why he ended up with these being his stack of 1976s.

Anyway very cool. Lots of fun to look through. I’ve already sent a few out TTM* and I’ll probably continue to look through the stacks and get to know these sets better.

*Willie Wilson for example.

Someone Else’s Childhood

One of my twitter contacts, upon seeing that I was collecting baseball cards again, realized that he could send me his childhood collection as it would both get it out of his house and ensure that it would go to a good home. So one evening I found a beat up Priority Mail box filled with sheets of baseball cards and a surprise Everett Aquasox cap.*

*I’ve actually been to a ballgame in Everett game back when the club was the Everett Giants.

It’s a weird thing to be entrusted with someone else’s childhood. In the same way that I feel odd about dismantling and re-sorting and mixing my childhood collection with all my new (to me) cards, I also feel weird about immediately re-sorting these ones. With my cards I had to take a few months to reacquaint myself with both the cards and my memory of them. Only after doing so was I able to consider how I might want to reorganize everything.

With @captnarrr’s? I don’t know. Part of me wants to really look through and get to know his collection. Another part feels like that’s getting too personal (if that makes sense). I don’t know. It’s weird. I know how much my collection meant to me as a kid and I feel like that kid-level anxiety about someone else flipping through your collection is lurking deep down inside all of us.

So I’m going to try and find the happy middle ground of looking through these a few time and getting used to them as a collection while trying not to really examine everything. I’m also not going to photograph or scan anything beyond a few representative pages.

I’ve flipped through a couple times so far and it’s eerily similar to mine in terms of what it covers. Especially in the 1986–1988 coverage. I have ~250 1986 Topps cards. So does he. I’ve been meaning to take a run at that set since it’s the first I bought packs for but hadn’t gotten into the hobby fully yet. Hopefully I won’t have too many duplicates between his stack and mine.

The 1987–1988 cards though will become a starter set for my kids (between these and the massive amount of 1987 and 1988 Topps duplicates I have as well I would be shocked if there wasn’t another complete set in here). I have complete sets for both years—1987 was my first serious year collecting—but revisiting all these cards just takes me back. Even with Topps beating the 1987 design into the ground this year.

The big difference is in how he organized things. I was a by-the-numbers kid. Card backs had card numbers and you were obviously supposed to page them in numerical order. Flipping through pages organized by player or team, while it makes sense to me, also feels oddly wrong since it’s not how I’m used to looking at these sets.

This is funny since my current project is focusing just on one team and I’m organizing each year’s team set in my binder alphabetically rather than numerically.

1981 Fleer 1981 Fleer

There’s also a decent amount of 1981 and 1982 cards in here. I have maybe a pack’s worth for each of these sets. Sot it’s fun to have more of them. Admittedly, 1981 and 1982 Fleer are both pretty lousy sets but there’s something kind of charmingly unprofessional about them which appeals to me in today’s crisp over-produced world.

Ken Griffey Jr Bar Ken Griffey Jr Bar
Ken Griffey Jr Bar back

The most interesting stuff in the box though are the oddballs and regional issues. These weren’t in pages so they’re easier to scan. The standouts are the Ken Griffey Jr bar cards. I’ve never seen these in the wild although I remember them existing in all that Juniormania in 1989. Seeing a couple different versions is very cool. Then seeing how the backs state that they’re available “Throughout the Northwest” is wonderful since it takes these back to being a purely regional thing even though I know the bars went around the country.

Tony Gwynn Base Hit Candy Bar Tony Gwynn Base Hit Candy Bar back
Wade Boggs .352 Bar Wade Boggs .352 Bar back

Unlike the Griffey bars I had never heard of the Gwynn and Boggs bars. These look to be the same product but released in 1990. Kind of a shame they’re all just plain milk chocolate but I do like how the font changes for each one. Also it’s nice that the Boggs photo is a more interesting action than just a batting stance.

Brian McRae Denny's Hologram Kal Daniels Denny's Hologram Barry Bonds Denny's Hologram
Jeff Bagwell Denny's Hologram Sammy Sosa Denny's Hologram

Denny’s holograms are always cool. I was out of the hobby by 1995 so I never saw the 1995 versions in the flesh. While I enjoy the full-hologram versions more the scans of the 1995 cards don’t do justice to the depth in the hologram. But this  is a series of sets which I’m very much likely to chase as well so the more of these that I come across the easier that chase will be.

Manager's Dream: Tony Oliva, Chico Cardenas, Roberto Clemente

I think this was the only pre-80s card in the collection. It’s a beaut despite the miscut. I found it interesting that this featured three latino players but feels as if Topps was planning something along those lines and then decided to go with something generic. Or maybe they just couldn’t come up with a decent nickname.

1986 All Star Glossy

I’ve not seen team photos in the All Star Glossies. I should probably research when that stopped being a thing because these are pretty cool. I always love looking at the All Star team photos and seeing all the different uniforms together.

Roy Thomas autographed busines card

And Roy Thomas is an interesting autograph. Not a player I’m familiar with. I like that it’s a business card with a baseball card printed on it. I’m a bit curious what Thomas Enterprises was since it seems like his main post-career gig was being a middle-school teacher. I’m also a bit curious about about the context in which this autograph was acquired but I don’t really want to get into asking all kinds of questions about this collection.

All in all a very cool mailing which I’ll have fun flipping through and sorting in the future. And in the short term I’ll have to think about how to properly thank @captnarrr for the package.