Texas PWEs

It’s been a while since I got a trade package. This isn’t surprising. It’s been a long while since I sent anything out. Which also isn’t surprising. I haven’t really purchased any new cards in over a year. Cards haven’t been available to purchase anywhere for over a year unless you’re willing to reward all those assholes who buy up all the retail or online stock and try to resell it at ridiculous markups.

So it was quite a pleasant surprise to find a couple envelopes in my mail last Friday. Amusingly, they both came from Houston.

The first came from Commish Bob and is a response to a comment I made on a recent post of his about 1962 Post cards. I’m passively acquiring Giants from the 1960s Post cards* but because my passive acquisition means jumping only on the cheapest of cards when I encounter them, I only have one Hall of Famer in the entire batch.

*Well, and Chuck Essegian and I’ve grabbed a Wally Post.

Unbeknownst to me, Bob had ended up with a duplicate McCovey and when I admired his acquisition he offered to send me his well-loved duplicate. Very very cool. This is now the oldest McCovey in my collection.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on here before but I’ve come to love these Post cards. They manage to fit everything you want on a card on one side of the cardboard. Stats, bio, photo, card numbering are all there. You don’t really need anything more. Factor in the use elements and how these were lovingly chopped out of a cereal box by some kid sixty years ago and there’s not more I could wish for.

The second envelope came from Marc Brubaker.  It had the usual mix of this and that but I’ll start off with my first Heritage High numbers. I saw neither sight nor sound of these. I don’t think they were released to Target and it doesn’t matter anyway since my Target no longer carries cards.

In some ways it’s probably just as well. These continue the weird fake trapping and bad trapping effects from Heritage and now make the photoshopped backgrounds look a lot more obvious. There’s also some weird yellow/magenta fringing on the photos—only the players not the backgrounds—which is kind of distracting.

The worst thing though is that it’s clear that whoever put the checklist together did not look at the checklist for Heritage. Tyler Beede for example already has a card in the set. It’s things like this which frustrate collectors since it suggests that Topps can’t be bothered to do the bare minimum of quality control in the product.

Marc somehow also came across some Chrome last year. As usual these scan like crap but jazz up the binder a little. I still don’t get this set though my youngest does enjoy them* As a print nerd and mechanical engineer though I do have to admit that I appreciate these more as objects than as cards.

*He was briefly excited to find that Chrome had released just in time for National Baseball Card Day last year until he found out that they cost $10 for a pack of 4. Very typical of Topps to make sure that their kid-friendly promotion coincides with product releases that kids can’t afford.

One thing that amazes me about Marc’s mailings though is the amount of stickers he comes by. I never got into the Panini sticker albums when I was a kid. I remember seeing them all over, usually with movie tie-ins,* but never felt the appeal.

*For some reason a Temple of Doom album is the first that comes to mind.

More often than not though Marc’s mailing seem to have stickers. From all ages. And since I’ve never collected them they’re always new. Which is pretty cool. I have no desire to put them in an album but they remind me of a branch of collecting which is never on my radar.

These are from 1996 and so also represent a year in which I didn’t pay much attention to baseball at all. Looking back on things I’m a bit sad to have missed the Deion Sanders era.

And finally a handful of Stanford cards. Marc managed to go five for five here too. Flair is one of those sets which I couldn’t dream of buying as a kid. While it’s sort of peak-90s now they’re always fun to encounter. The Just Minors Hutchinson is great because most of my Hutchinson cards use the exact same photo. One Piscotty is a border variant and the Platinum is a nice shiny change of pace from the usual cards in my Stanford binder.

Thanks Marc! One of these days I’ll buy cards again and end up with some Astros I can send you.

New Years Mailings

A new year and some new trade envelopes rolled in. Not as many as I was expecting to receive (some appear to be stuck in the eddies of the USPS backlog) but with my local Target completely dropping cards from its inventory it’s nice to get a card fix from somewhere.

The first mailing of the year was a PWE from Marc Brubaker containing almost a dozen cards. The oldest ones are three 1983 stickers which include a couple fun photos in the Milt May catcher action and Al Holland sporting a fantastic warm up jacket. As for the Matt Williams card, I have no idea what kind of release it’s from but it’s wonderfully odd.

The rest of the cards from Marc were newer ones including a bunch from retails issues that I refuse to purchase. Bowman Platinum remains a product I don’t understand. As does Topps Gallery. As always it’s nice to include a sample in the binder for variety’s sake though. I can’t imagine looking through pages of either of those but a couple here and there makes things interesting.

A week or so later I received a bubble mailer from Robby which contained a bunch of more-recent cards. I’ll start off with a half dozen inserts from the past couple years. These are again, the kind of thing I don’t chase but enjoy sliding in to the binder. I have mixed feelings about the design re-use but I much prefer seeing such things done in inserts rather than as complete sets.

The #1 Draft Pick Joey Bart is a particularly great use of an old design since Topps can’t do draft picks in flagship anymore. I’m be curious why Topps hasn’t done draft picks as inserts in other Topps sets though.

The rest of the mailer was a bunch of 2020 cards. A few Updates, two Diamond Kings which I didn’t have, a decent amount of Big League and Donruss which finished off my team sets. Highlights here are the orange Big League parallels and the Gold Star Flagship parallels.

I’m not a huge fan of colored parallels but the Big League oranges look great with the Giants cards. If we could dump the whole rainbow of variants and just have a single team-color parallel set then I’d probably like them.

The Gold Star parallels meanwhile are one of those things that dissuaded me from buying a factory set this year. I don’t want to pay marked up prices for a chance at a bunch of parallels I don’t desire. Getting a team set in the mail though is completely different. Since these are the kind of thing I actively avoid it means that they’re the kind of thing that I never have in my albums. I’m perfectly happy sliding them in as an example of what kind of things were going on in the hobby that year.

Thanks guys and Happy New Year!

Mailday from Bru

A surprise bubble mailer from Marc Brubaker arrived last week. I’d sent him a bunch of the Astros from Jeff’s mailday and those have now been transformed into Giants and Stanford cards I didn’t have. Not a lot has been going right hobby-wise this year with cards becoming impossible to find in the store* but thankfully card twitter is doing its thing and circulating cards until they find their forever homes.

*In a somewhat ominous sign my kids are no longer saving their allowances for baseball cards.

Marc has obviously had better luck than I have in finding cards in the wild though he also clearly isn’t as picky about what packs he buys. The four releases here are all things I don’t purchase but which add a bit of variety to the binders.

The top row of Archives is actually kind of fun. The Piscotty in the 1974 design looks pretty nice and they chose a very 1955 Bowman photo for the Hoerner.* The 1955 TV design is one I really didn’t like but it’s grown on me a lot.

*The backs of these 1955 inserts though are professionally embarrasing. I’m annoyed at how relics/autos have useless backs which just state what’s on the front of the card but at least those still serve as a certificate of authenticity of sorts. And I can excuse online-only releases as a “jam them out as fast as possible” cash grab. But doing these half-assed backs in a retail product is inexcusably offensive to me as a designer. As is the fact that multiple people laso signed off on it. Peak milking a cash cow and zero professional pride.

This year’s Panini/Donruss/Optic design isn’t half bad either. They’re still operating on the “let’s evoke late-80s/early90s Donruss” wavelength that makes their products look mostly indistinguishable year in and year out but they’re gradually doing a better job with team colors. Would be nice to see them really lean into the team color thing and use two colors for each team sometime.

And this is also my first 2020 Bowman in hand. I should get more of these just in case we have games at Trenton next year since it’s a nice simple design that’ll look good signed.

Marc also included a bunch of Allen&Ginter including one of the only cards I was actively going to look for. I don’t like Ginter as a baseball card set. I do like the non-baseball subjects and this year Brianna Scurry was one I really liked.

Most of the time Ginter’s fake-paint, fake-stipple photoprocessing looks pretty bad. This year though the photos look surprisingly good. Is a shame that the design is doing this weird double shadow thing where the drop shadow on the photo is coming from a different light source than the drop shadow on the brand name. This isn’t as obvious in the gold minis though so that’s pretty cool.

Beyond the new cards, Marc included a bunch of random coolness, none cooler than these three 1968 Dexter Press cards. These are nicely-printed glossy postcard-sized cards. Colors really pop and there’s lots of nice detail.

I especially like the Jim Wynn with the spring training outfield fence in the background but the John Bateman and Ken Aspromonte show off the Astrodome logo patch better. No idea why Aspromonte is wearing his batting glove on the upper hand though.

1991 Donruss is one of those sets where there are two different versions of each card,* one released in packs and one in the factory set. The two Bud Black cards here show both how the borders can be different and how unless you know there’s a difference you can totally miss the fact that there are different borders.

*Three actually but I don’t care at all about “INC” vs “INC.” in the small text on the backs.

Marc apparently came into a factory set of these, decided he just wanted the Astros, and figured that sending out team sets to various team collectors would be fun. For me he also included a few of the Stanford guys in the set as well. The Stanford guys look nice paired in the Stanford binder but it took me a while to figure out how I wanted to display the two different variants in my Giants binder.

I eventually settled on having alternating pages of set/pack cards so I can flip back and forth and see the differences. There are a few empty spots for cards that don’t have multiple versions (eg the Gary Carter Highlight) but I’m happy with the result.

A few more random cards including a pair of Mother’s Cookies cards I didn’t have. The Joe Niekro is from 1986 and is part of the all-time Astros All Stars set. Mother’s Cookies also did a set like this for the Giants in 1984* as part of the All Star game at Candlestick that season so it’s only fitting that the Astros got one when the game was at the Astrodome. The Nolan Ryan goes nicely with a card I pulled out of a bag of Iced Animal Crackers** three decades ago.

*Albeit with more of an Allen&Ginter style design. 

**I’m assuming.

Two 1993 Fleers I didn’t have. Steve Reed isn’t exactly a Giants card but he’s wearing the uniform so I have no problem sliding him into the binder. A couple Just Minors cards from Marc’s recent break which I now feel a little bad about not entering except that I really don’t actively seek minor league cards. They’re fun to add to the binder but I’ve never sought them out. This design though is an interesting one with the bar across the middle of the card and the photos sized and cropped so as to place the player’s face in the section above the bar. I don’t like it but much to my surprise I don’t hate it either

A 2012 Jed Lowrie which is some fun color but also fills a hole I didn’t realize I was missing since I didn’t have his 2012 flagship in the binder yet. A fun diecut of Mark Appel. And finally a pair of 2018 Stickers which feel so underwhelming now that Topps has switched to card-sized stickers.

Last batch of cards in the envelope were these Twilight Zone and Star Wars cards. The Twilight Zone ones are from this year but there’s unfortunately no Mighty Casey card that would allow me to sneak a post onto SABR. They’re still pretty cool though. The Twilight Zone is my favorite TV show of all time and seeing these imagined episode posters is pretty neat.

The Star Wars cards are from 1996 which is definitely a long time ago in a galaxy far far away now for that franchise. This is before the Special Edition rereleases let alone the prequels when the only expanded content out there were things like Shadows of the Empire. These cards were part of that multimedia blitz which were intended to prime the pump for the Special Editions. I don’t remember them at all though I do know that people were hyped for the movies to come out again.

Very cool stuff Marc. Thanks!

Alumni from Bru

I received a nice card from Marc at the end of last week with a handful of cards inside. No Giants this time, just Stanford Alumni but all from sets that I’ve never purchased.

First one in the stack is a Simone Manuel 2018 Sport Kings card. Aside from a Sports Illustrated for Kids card this was the only trading card of Manuel until this year.* I’m assuming this is related to her being an amateur (there are no non-SI cards of Katie Ledecky either) and that if we’d actually had an Olympics this year things would be different.

*She’s in 2020 Goodwin Champions.

Is a shame though. Manuel is especially worth celebrating for her accomplishments in 2016 where she became the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming gold medal.

The Sport Kings design and artwork is intentionally retro. Looks a bit weird to me to see it in modern card size instead of the more-square size of the 1933 set but it’s a decent homage and the kind of set I’d like to see more of nowadays with its mix of athletes.

A couple Topps Stickers. One of Nico Hoerner showing the front sticker design and one of Stephen Piscotty showing the sticker back design. Is interesting what Topps is doing with these. I appreciate them being card-like even if these designs are doing things that cards don’t usually do. The stickers feel like they need some of the album context and the backs are a nice way to make something from the throwaway portion which feels kind of like an insert.

Definitely a fun product though at the same time the sticker album is only like four cards per team and this is the kind of product that to my mind should feature way more players. But then I’m kind of expecting something approcahing the gigantic Panini World Cup albums.

Last card of the batch was a 2020 Diamond King of Nico Hoerner. Actually this is an Artist’s Proof though I have no idea what that actually means in trading card world. I didn’t notice this with my previous Diamond Kings but the difference in white points on this card is super obvious.

It makes for a nice contrast between his leg and the paper color but it also calls out the artifice of printing a cream color on the paper stock. I don’t mind it when companies do this (I’ve done it plenty myself) but I’ve never understood why you’d do this and then call attention to it.

Thanks Marc!

Big League Maildays

Catching up on a handful of small maildays. Most of these involve 2020 Big League and so are especially welcome because I’ve hit my local Target all of once since last March and when I did the card aisle was completely bare.

The first one though is this small PWE from Mark Hoyle which contained two 2019 Bowman Chromes. Not the usual thing I expect from Mark at all to the point where I was curious how he encountered these since he never rips any new product.* They’re appreciated here though. I’m being optimistic about in-person autographing being something that will be feasible in the future and accumulating Giants prospects in case they come through Trenton with Richmond is part of that optimism.

*Turns out they were bumper cards.

A nicely-stuffed PWE from Marc Brubaker brought a bunch of cards from sets I never rip in addition to a few Big Leagues. That Posey is fantastic* and the design is a nice throwback to simpler days which works perfectly with the non-gloss paper stock.

*I don’t collect colored parallels but I’m tempted to make an exception this year with the orange ones since the orange Posey looks even better.

I love the feel of the Diamond Kings. They’re still some of the most satisfying cards to just handle. I just can’t tell the years apart, and I don’t mean in terms of just associating cards with years, it took me a long time to realize that there were two different years of cards in the envelope.

It’s nice to cross the 2020 Jed Lowrie off my Stanford searchlist. The 2020 design is much-maligned but I still like it, especially with photos like the Alex Dickerson which are not possible with the usual transparency at the bottom designs that have dominated cards over the past couple decades. And it’s fun to see this year’s sticker and sticker back designs. Neither is as nice as last year but they’re sufficiently different to be interesting.

I also received a small package from Cards on Cards with a Big League box panel. I like the box card sets but with blasters doubling in cost those cards have become a lot harder for me to get. He included a bunch more Big League cards which, between Marc and some other mailings, has meant that I can supply my kids with enough Giants to keep them happy.

The Evan Longoria caricature was a nice surprise. I don’t chase those but they’re nice to add to the binder. Gypsy Queen and Prism also fall into this category. Neither is my thing but I enjoy having an example or two in the binder anyway and I’m glad people are happy to send them to me.

Thanks guys!

Totes jelly

Kind of funny. For the past month I’ve not gotten any mail on Saturdays. It’s weird when that happens since I keep thinking mail is arriving super late instead and end up checking every hour until it gets dark. I began to think that Saturdays were only for packages and that regular letters and junk mail would wait until Monday.

Then last Saturday I got a regular delivery. And then on Sunday I woke up to find another delivery in my box which suggests that I was both correct to check for late deliveries and that of course the one day I didn’t check for a late delivery is the day I left packages on my doorstep overnight.

Anyway one of those packages was a box from Marc Brubaker. Yeah, a box. I’ve gotten boxes from Marc before but between the complete absence of baseball and much-decreased access to product the past couple months have been all about surprise plain white envelopes—something at which Marc excels.

So I opened it up and found that it wasn’t a box of cards. Yes there were cards inside but also two rolls of film and a jar of loquat jelly from his recent bounty. Film is much appreciated though I haven’t had a chance to go out for a photowalk in a long time. Heck I’m still working my way through a roll of 220 from my last mailing of film. I’m pretty sure it’s Portra 400 and at this point I hope it is since I’m exposing it as if it is.

And the jelly will be great. We’ve been making lots of pancakes and it’s great to change things up with different toppings. As someone who grew up with loquat trees in his backyard this will be a great taste to introduce to the kids as well. I’d love to be able to find them out here in New Jersey but they don’t seem to be able to survive our winters.

And yes there was also a surprising amount of cards—three team bags worth—in the box. The usual assortment of Giants, Stanford, and randoms so let’s start with the Giants. I’m continuously amazed at how I can discover new sets that were released in the 1990s and 2000s.

With the 1980s at least the sets I’ve never heard of are regional releases. In the 1990s and 2000s though there are so many big releases that I just can’t keep track. The 2000 Metal cards here are one such set that I’d just never seen. Not as over-the-top as the earlier Metal cards which remain some of the craziest cards I’ve ever seen but still an interesting finish to the card surface which remains unlike anything being produced now.

A couple other cards to note are the Pinnacle Steve Hosey and Silver signature Barry Bonds which both fill holes in sets that I only ver purchased a single pack of as a kid. The 1992 John Patterson meanwhile fills a nice hole since I have that card in my autograph binder.

There was also a lot of Gypsy Queen. I’m happy other people buy this product and send me Giants because I will never spend money on these. Same goes with Gallery. They add a bit of variety to the binder but a little bit goes a long long way. And that the Brandon Belt card is one of those fancy framed variants that always interests me from a production point of view.

The super-sparkly (or whatever this is called) Tyler Beede is a similar addition. I don’t chase these cards either and kind of hate all the insert variants. But I do enjoy adding the splash of interest to a binder page.

I do like the Wilhelm Distinguished Service card. Military service is an interesting and different way to build a checklist. Where my parents’ generation grew up seeing military service listed in the statistics of many players, by the time I was a kid that was all a thing of the past.

The Pinnacle Tim Lincecum is kind of nice too. It’s weird. 2013 Panini had a bunch of one-year-wonder sets that are more interesting than most of what has become their standard releases. My understanding is that sets like Pinnacle and Hometown Heroes caused collectors to take Pinnacle seriously yet neither of those sets were ever released again.

To the 2020 cards. Marc’s been surprisingly active acquiring cards this year. We’ve got Heritage, Opening Day, Stickers, Flagship, and Donruss all represented. Meanwhile it’s been over two months since I even set foot in a store which stocks cards.

This completes my Heritage team set (well except for the Yastrzemski shortprint) and gives me my first taste of Opening Day, Stickers, and Donruss. I can see why people like this year’s Donruss set. Logolessness aside it’s come into its own and has a clean, generic 1990sish design. Still a little too reminiscent of the Donruss designs from 2014 to 2017 for me but it at least knows what it’s doing now.

A batch of Stanford guys which features some more 2000 Metal as well as a couple other cards I don’t have yet. Some of those, like the 1989 Score Traded Mike Aldrete, are sort of surprising omissions. Others such as the Appell, Hutchinson, and Mussina are the kind of things I never search for but love to add to the binder.

Marc also went ahead and attacked some of my smaller projects. A handful of Scott Erickson cards. Four 2014 Topps for the setbuild. Two Sportflics cards for the action binder. All quite welcome and evidence of someone clicking down through the searchlists.

And finally the last handful of cards Marc includes are always a bit of a puzzle for me. Stanford Jenning is clearly a joke. Yes I laughed.

The rest though I’m not so sure about. I thought at first that the Ruth was for my photographer binder but there’s no photographer credited. The two Muñoz cards though I’m genuinely confused by. I’ll keep thinking about it ad maybe it’ll come to me.

Thanks Marc! Stay safe out there.

Post Cards from Marc

Late last week I found the patented Marc Brubaker surprise second envelope in my mailbox. This is the second or third time I’ve gotten a mailing from Mark and, within a week, find a second envelope in my mail. This time though it wasn’t a plain white envelope but instead a large 9×12 envelope.

Inside I found a cereal box with soccer cards on the back. As a family which only buys Cheerios in bulk at Costco, I never even walk down the cereal aisle at Wegmans. I wish Topps would do this with baseball cards. Even though these are backless this is the kind of thing that makes collecting fun.

MLS-wise, I still don’t pay attention to the league. I appreciate what it’s been trying to do but I don’t think I’ll ever forgive them for what they did to San José. Plus at a larger level the state of US Soccer development is so messed up that it’s even driving me away from the Men’s National Team.

All of which means that the only player who I recognize on here is Zlatan. He had a weird spell at Barcelona where he hit the ground fitting in with the team better than any new signing does and spent the rest of the season going into a funk because he wasn’t the guy. A talented player for sure but that season leaves a bad taste in my mouth as well.

Of course, the cereal box was really meant as packaging for other cards. Why a cereal box? Because there’s no better way to package 8×10 photos. I’m assuming these two came from Mark’s motherlode a few years ago but maybe he picked up a second big stack of photos.

These are fun. I think they’re from 1990. Bob Boone’s a newish member of the Royals and Jack McDowell’s still wearing the older White Sox uniform. The McDowell photo in particular really pops as it’s both exposed and printed perfectly. These will both slot in nicely into the Stanford album.

The last item in the package was a nine-pocket sheet containing ten more cards of Stanford guys. The McDowell Hostess is from a set I’ve mentioned previously and is a good fit for the Soccer/Baseball nature of this mailing.

Three Chad Hutchinson cards basically doubled my count of his cards. The SP Prospects card is especially nice (though it scans poorly) since most of my cards of him use the same photo as the Victory card.

The four Carlos Quentin cards are also new to me. I have his Topps and Heritage cards but these were off my radar. The Toppstown one in particular is the kind of card I’d never acquire on purpose but which I kind of love having in the album.

And two Alex Blandino cards round out the package. It’s a shame that he doesn’t appear to sign through the mail since that Heritage card would look really nice scanned.

Thanks Mark and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas from Marc

So Marc Brubaker managed to sneak a bubble mailer in right before Christmas. I couldn’t wait until Christmas morning and decided to open it up and look through the day it arrived. Marc’s mailings are fun because they tend to include random stuff from all across my searchlists rather than being just Giants cards. This one was no exception.

Starting off as usual with Giants. You’d think that I’d have as much 1988 Donruss as I ever wanted to own but nope, that Rick Reuschel All Star is both a new card and a new set to my collection. While it’s technically a Pirates card, because of the photo it’ll fit perfectly in my Giants binder.

This batch actually has a lot of new-to-me sets. The Will Clark sticker, Brandon Crawford Pro Debut, and three shiny Prizm cards are all sets I’ve never seen cards from.  Meanwhile most of the rest of these are cards that I don’t have.

The more-recent cards include a bunch of inserts I don’t have. The Cepeda and Bench.Posey ones are fun but that Ballpark Evolution card featureing the Polo Grounds on one side and Pac Bell AT&T Oracle Park on the other is my favorite of the batch.

Eighteen Stanford cards including a surprising number of 1989 Upper Deck cards that I didn’t have. For such a seminal set of my youth I never acquired much of the cards. Part of me wants to collect more. The rest knows that the Griffey rookie is still overpriced and that I much prefer the 1990 set anyway.

I love Ballard’s 1991 Upper Deck. It’s nice to get an unsigned version of the Chitren Error. This is my first 1997 Studio card. The dual Bowman Chris Carters are nice. I’m not a Panini collector at all so the Drew Storen is very different than most of what’s in my binder. And the same goes for Gypsy Queen and that Mussina.

A handful of weird cards. The Archives Wagner is interesting. I have mixed feelings about old guys in modern cards and the colorized photo in a 1993 design is especially odd to me. At the same time it’s a neat photo and I like having it on a card.

The coins meanwhile are a set that I either never saw as a kid or consciously avoided (and subsequently forgot about). I don’t have any of them and they kind of fall into the category of things I’m not sure what to do with. Cool to have a few rattling around though.

Moving on to the next portion of this package takes me to the set building pile. First off, filling in some holes in sets I’m close to completing. Two 1991 Scores for my son.* One 1991 Studio for me takes me to needing only six. And six 1994 Topps cards leaves me 39 short.

*He’s building the set that my dentist sent me and is only two cards (403 Eric Davis Master Blaster and 417 Nolan Ryan Highlight) away now.

This selection hits me square in the feels for my youth with Studio and Score showing off how varied card sets were getting while 1994 Topps is quietly showing off photography that we no longer see on cards.

A larger batch of 2014 Topps includes a decent amount of star power. I didn’t expect to get a Trout in a package so that’s very cool. As I stated when I first saw this set, for whatever reason I particularly like all the colored uniforms in this set. Something about the design and the photo processing makes me like the variety of colors depicted despite my being a staunch “home whites and road greys” guy. I still need over 200 of these, mostly series 2.

Last bit of set building is a couple dozen Bonds Home Run History cards. I thought I’d accumulated a couple hundred of these but I forgot that there was also a lot of Upper Deck Documentary in the box of cards from bullshit sets that I’m accumulating but refuse to binder.

Anyway this is an awful awful set but I’m happy to give these cards a home. I have no idea why anyone who’s not a Giants fan would want these in their house though.

Last card of the package is this autographed relic of Garret Williams. Williams was probably a Giant when Marc started putting this pile together but he got traded to the Angels earlier this month as the player to be named later in the Zack Cozart and Will Wilson trade.

He had a decent year last year at Richmond but after two years in AA gets to face his future this coming season. Maybe this autograph will end up going to an Angels collector. But who knows, last year I got a Zack Cozart auto and there’s a decent chance I’ll get to slide it into my Giants section now.

Very cool stuff as usual Marc. I hope your Christmas was a good one too!

In which Marc tells me that my breath smells too nice

Another day, another package. The day after I got Tim’s box I received one from Marc Brubaker. He’d tipped me off that something was coming but I was surprised to see that it was not just a bubble mailer.

Instead it was a box and when I opened it up I started laughing. A couple weeks ago Marc had asked me for snack recommendations since he was going to an Asian supermarket. Since he knew of the obvious stuff I mentioned things that I’ve had problems finding even at most Asian markets. One such item was Boy Bawang which is like Corn Nuts only both easier to chew and super garlicky.

Marc was lucky enough to find a selection at his store and only realized too late that these are not only “eat the whole damn bag” good but are “well shit I’ve got another bag right here” good as well. I’m looking forward to popping this open.

The rest of the package was mostly cards, mostly of the grab bag variety. I’ll start off with the Stanford guys since I sort of screwed up my sorting and paged them all before realizing that I hadn’t documented anything for this post. So I went thought my binder and pulled out what I remember was new. Marc sent more than this but I don’t remember the duplicates.

Adding a bunch of new Ballards is great. I especially like the 1990 Mini Leader. The cards of Adams and Castro in their Stanford uniforms are also a lot of fun. A bunch of new Buecheles are also fun. I have a lot of the 80s guys pretty well covered so it’s always an expected treat to find cards of them which I don’t have.

The Lowrie Heritage is a weird photo. The two McDowells are lucky fits. I had the base 1993 but not the Gold and I had the gold and Spanish 1994s but not the base. The Two Mussinas are cool. It’s always fin to add an oddball and 1994 Triple Play must have come out after I stopped collecting. That’s a weird design with what looks like 3D lettering but which knocks out to the photo behind.

Five new Piscottys too. The two Chome 2019s are kind of wild. I really can’t see refractors so I’m glad this is labeled as such. The other is even wilder and while it works with the 2019 design is definitely in the category of card I’m happy to have only one sample of.

The Archives in the 1975 design meanwhile is one which I’m tempted to nitpick on how they didn’t correctly copy the original design but since it says “Athletics” instead of “A’s” I consider this an improvement over the original. It is interesting to me however how the facsimile signatures feel super fat now. I’m not sure if this is to look more Sharpie-like or if it’s just how Topps is capturing players’ signatures now.

A bunch of action cards for the mini-PC. Sportflics are always appreciated. As are the multi-image Upper Deck cards. Any duplicates of these will go to the kids and they’ll be just as impressed with them now as I was 30 years ago. I like that Marc even included a Fire insert which shows Kluber’s pitching motion.

The highlight here however is a Brett Butler Flip Tip. Comparing a drag bunt to a sacrifice is super subtle but these are a cute little product. I’ve no idea how I’ll store this (the main reason why I haven’t sought one out) and I’m a bit worried that I’ll love it to death. The GIFs though are pretty cool and look almost faked.

Three 1991 Donruss set needs take me one step closer to finishing this set. I could of course kill it now on Sportlots but I refuse to spend money on this build.

A handful of PC guys. I don’t actively collect non-Giant Hammaker cards but they’re nice to have. Erickson meanwhile is one where every card is welcome.

Three cards for the yet-to-be-started Hawaii collection. The Sakata Senior League card is all kinds of awesome. I refused to touch these when I was a kid but I can see why people love them now.

Three Conlon Collection cards featuring extinct teams. It’s nice that each of these features a good image of the uniforms too.

Moving toward the bottom of the grab bag. Two action shots of guys I like as Giants. Manwaring has one of the best runs of photography for any player at any time period in the game. His career was fine but if I didn’t already have a collection of Giants he’d be a guy I’d PC just because his cards are almost all awesome. Robb Nen as a Marlin running the basepaths though is just a fun card.

Frank White as a Bee is great. I always forget that they used to be a Royals affiliate. Not sure where I’ll put this to be honest. I may have to start an album for local Minor League teams that aren’t affiliated with the Giants and keep Seals, San José and Trenton cards in there.

And finally a bunch of cards commemorating the first turn back the clock day  at Chicago in 1990. I love seeing these uniforms show up on cards and it‘s a great reminder of when this kind of thing was special and unique. Now with “throwback” variations in the card sets they just feel like cardboard gimmickry.

And to the last random bunch of cards where Marc’s going to have to jump in the comments to explain things. I’ve no idea on Salazar. Langston is a San José State guy plus the UK minis are always fun.

Not sure about Kikuchi but this gives me a chance to point out how Heritage High Numbers seem to feature a lot of players in sunset (actually sunrise but it reads as sunset to all of us who don’t get up at the crack of dawn) while regular Heritage is mostly blue skies. This is more common on some teams like the Giants where the blue vs golden sky is something my kids caught. The Mariners high numbers meanwhile have a super-dark sky that looks like what Topps was trying to do in the 1985 and 1986 sets with so many of their portraits.

Greg Harris is an ambidextrous pitcher. He only pitched once with his left hand but each card here depicts him from each side of the mound.

On to the Giants portion of the mailday. This is a lot of junk wax so I won’t have too much to say on many of the photos. I have not see the Fleer stickers before. And the Score inserts? Those are mostly new to me too.

The starting lineup is a lot of fun though especially because Marc included the figurine.

It looks nothing like Will Clark but I very much liked these as a kid. My first one was a Candy Maldonado I got as a stadium giveaway. I Sharpied Candy’s bat black since Candy didn’t swing a natural-colored bat. I also had this Clark so now each boy has their own Will Clark Starting Lineup figure.

Most of this junk is going to the kiddos. Though it’s not often you see a Grandslammer in the wild so that’s kind of special. Much to my surprise they like 1990 Topps and all those colors so I’m glad there’s a bit of it for them.

More duplicates. All these 1991 Topps though will be especially good for my youngest since his older brother already has the set. Also the decent number of Will Clark duplicates here has gotten them very excited since I was able to put together a couple stacks of cards for their albums that each included a number of Clarks.

Mostly more duplicates here. The Bowmans I never snagged as a kid so it’s nice to add those. I was so distracted by Fleer’s yellowness in 1991 that I never noticed that it had switched to all-action that year. 1991 Fleer deserves all the crap it gets since that yellow is pretty bad unless your team features yellow. This is unfortunate though since as a design it’s not actually that bad. It would look fine in foil on black ink. It would look fine in white on a spot color like 1992 Fleer’s metallic green. It would even look fine  (albeit maybe a bit too close to 1990 Fleer) in team colors on a white border.

Still more duplicates. 1991 Score‘s design isn’t my favorite but I love the checklist. 1991 Upper Deck though is one of my favorites. There’s something to the mix of action, long-lens candid, and posed portraits that sets these cards apart and in many ways serves as the photo mix I still want to see in cards today.

More 1991s and a handful of minor league cards. It’s always fun to see a few names like Jim McNamara which I remember in the bigs.

Continuing the rich vein of junk for the kids. 1992 Topps is another favorite set of mine. I also like 1992 Fleer despite the green since the spot color happens to work well with all the different team colors in the player name. Yes it’s lots of green but the bold name breaks things up nicely.

On to 1992 Upper Deck. I’m not a fan of the drop shadow but I’m still liking the photography. 1993 Donruss on the other hand does not move me with the “hey look we have computers and can make beveled edges” design that proceeded to dominate a bunch of sets for the next couple of years..

Moving into 1994 means I starting to get into some of my needs again. Mostly just the minor leaguers though in this batch. Since I already had a duplicate of this Mays I was able to give one to each boy. This always makes them very happy even while they‘re asking me for a “real” Mays card the same way I asked my parents for such a card 30 years ago.

And finishing up the junk wax pile with some Collectors Choice for the kids and a few Bazooka cards for me. Collectors Choice always has great photos.

Lastly, a bunch of more-recent needs. Have never seen the new Pinnacle. It both feels right and like a pale imitation of the original. Three Heritage High numbers which show the Giants version of the sunset. Yes that’s actually a sunrise. Pretty sure Pillar is composited in since he has the same background as Pomeranz and was nowhere near Scottsdale when photo day occurred.

Three Archives (plus some duplicates). The 1993s are weirdly over glossy and that bugs me more than Topps getting the font wrong. I do really dig the 1988 effect on the 1958 design however. It allows the photo to be cropped more interestingly. Two Fire cards. I like this year’s design although it’s interesting that my kids prefer last year’s. And some duplicate stickers since Lowrie was on the other side of the last Posey sticker Marc sent.

And last but not least, my first 2019 Bumgarner card. Nice to have one card of him in what we’re all assuming is his last season as a Giant. Sigh. I’m glad the fans got a chance to thank him properly in the game.

Thanks Marc! The boys are already enjoying some of this batch as well.

Mailday from Bru

My kids have been dragging their grandparents to the local shop this year. I think they’ve been three or four times already, getting each other packs for their birthdays and capitalizing on grandparent generosity to pick up an extra pack or dig through the box of Giants commons to find something for themselves. It’s fun to see and is very much how I used to spend my summers. It’s nice to be the age when going to the card shop every weekend is all you really want to do. I’ll take mine next week for National Baseball Card Day and I’m sure we’ll have a blast.

As my buying has gotten more specific and focused on older cards, the rhythm of the hobby has changed for me. It’s no longer a summer thing coupled to the games being played. I’m more stuck to the retail cycle that rewards purchases of any kind at certain points of the year. In some ways this is a good thing since it’s not like pre-1960 Giants cards should ever go out of season but it does discourage a certain disconnect from the baseball season itself.

Which is why summer maildays are especially fun for me. It’s nice to just get a stack of cards during the height of the season and be brought back to the current moment. Marc Brubaker sent me such a stack last week. Lots of randomness but at least half of it was cards from this season that have come out during the past month.

Allen & Ginter is one such set. It’s not for me but I appreciate that Topps has stuck to its guns and kept this brand as distinct as it is. I do like getting a few Ginter samples each year so I’m very happy to see these. I can see why people like these and I daresay that the line gets better looking each year in terms of the image processing.

One interesting thing to note this year is that background images are old parks that have been dropped in via computer. There aren’t a lot of different ones but thankfully Topps isn’t using the exact same cropping. However the fact that Marichal and Longoria are consecutive card numbers makes me wonder if things will look kind of weird when a set is paged up and the same background images show up multiple times per page.

Bowman Platinum is another set that I never buy. All this shiny stuff is not my thing and I guess I’m resistant to sets that look like they should be inserts. Yeah, actually,  I’d probably really like these if they were inserts.

I have to admit though that as I’ve gotten more into autograph hunting I’m beginning to see how cards like these will sign well. Where the silhouetted player and shiny background annoys me as a photo guy, it makes a nice, less-busy place for a signature to go.

Also as I’ve gotten to more and more  minor league games Bowman sets have gotten more appealing. I’m not prospecting prospecting but it’s nice to have a supply of cards for autograph reasons. The Ramos here will be nice if I ever get to a San José Giants game (though San José Muni is pretty dire for autograph hunting now) and may be handy if he’s in Richmond next season too.

Another new-to-me 2019 set are Topps’s Stickers. These are actually the sticker backs* and unlike previous years the backs both function as cards and are card-sized. Not something I’d buy as a card but I really enjoy them as peeled off backs which are now worth** saving instead of just throwing them out.

*Blank fronts since Marc is actually sticking the stickers into an album as if he’s one of those uncivilized soccer fans.

**For certain values of worth.

I’ve not gotten into the sticker thing yet but the concept is one I’ve long been intrigued by as a soccer fan who’s very familiar with the Panini World Cup albums. I just refuse to commit to a project of collecting 650+ stickers at 20¢ apiece. The baseball album looks a lot more manageable at ~250 stickers although the per-sticker price of 25¢ each still means that it’ll cost more than a full set of Flagship to complete (though at least you get two sets out of it).

Continuing with the 2019 cards we have a Brandon Belt Prizm Red Parallel (I’m assuming). Given how monochrome the Belt image is since all the Giants branding has been Photoshopped out the red is a nice touch of color. I’m also looking at this card and trying to determine if it’s manufactured the same way Topps’s chrome cards are. Probably easier to just search for printing plates.

The Buster Posey shows the front of the Topps Stickers. It’s actually a nice design although all that lightning would have rubbed people the wrong way if it were in Flagship. Buster’s not going into my Giants album though because of who’s on the back.

The back of the Posey sticker is Jed Lowrie’s only 2019 Topps card.* Lowrie’s been out injured all season and I don’t expect him to show up in Update so it’s very cool to have this i the album to mark his 2019 season.

*I don’t count on-demand stuff like Total.

The 2017 Lowrie is also nice to have since I think mine’s bundled with a complete set still.

Three 2019 Stephen Piscotty cards round out the batch of new cards. I’ve already covered Ginter and Stickers (There’s a Tampa Bay Ray on the back of this sticker) but I haven’t mentioned Stadium Club yet. I was skeptical of this design when I saw the preview images online. Font is a disaster (except for the Pirates) and the drop shadows were huge.

In hand it’s not nearly as bad. I still don’t like it as much as 2017 but I appreciate that the ground fog is kept to a minimum. Oh, and this is a red parallel which is pretty cool.

Okay, to the rest of the cards starting with the rest of the Giants cards. Three from the 2000s. The Bonds is a buyback with REDISCOVER TOPPS stamped right on top of his name so that it looks like this is actually a “Barry sddoʇ ɹǝʌoɔsıpǝɹ” card. The Lincecum is from Upper Deck X—a set which I still don’t uinderstand.

The Liván Hernandez card though is wonderful. It’s an insert from 2002 Donruss Estrellas and is a fantastic addition to my Spanish-language collection. I wish I’d known about this earlier and am wondering now where Marc found it.

A handful of 2010s Giants including a 2012 sticker to demonstrate the change in size, a bunch of Triple Play including the disastrous 2013 drawings that look nothing like anybody, and a couple Buster Posey Archives cards in the 1990 design.

The Posey Archives card is extremely interesting to me because Topps was unable to print the borders in the oversize halftone screen they used in 1990 and instead faked it with a stochastic screen. One of these days I’ll do high-definition scans of these cards and write an esoteric post for SABR about this.

Three 2017 cards including a couple more Honus Bonus cards. I appreciate with those guys were trying to do with the game tie-in but the cards themselves are tough to look at. Something about the selective desaturation makes me feel like me eyes are going bad.

And finally a couple 2018 Giants cards. Watson’s been featured on this blog before. The McCutchen though is one of the SP image variants so those are always nice to see turn up.

I already covered most of the Stanford cards but these three were also in the stack. the 1994 JackMcDowell is one that not only do I not own it, I didn’t even know about it. Very cool since I actually bought packs of 1994 Donruss as a kid.

The 1995 Helling and Hammonds are nice to have as well. This is a set from the first year I didn’t collect and while I’m focusing on Topps Flagship (and related) for the Stanford project it’s always nice top flesh out with examples from other makers.

To the random portion of the stack starting off with a pair of 2003 Donruss Estrellas and another addition to my Spanish-language album. I’ve been double-dipping and using my Giants and Stanford collections as a way to target what cards to get. This is a good way to stay disciplined but leaves the album a bit light on examples form these sets since the Giants and Stanford ones go someplace else. All of which means it’s nice to have some generic examples.

I’m not an A’s fan but I remember Mulder and Hudson both being great in the early 2000s. Hudson of course is also a future Giant who picked up a World Series ring in 2014.

A handful of Triple Play stickers for the kids. Not much to say about these except to note that Marc must’ve gotten a few packs of Triple Play in repacks. The kids should like these though.

And the last two cards are this random pair from 2019. The Trevor Richards is for the multi-exposure action collection. Is interesting to me that instead of showing all action that it shows him getting the signs, coming set, and then delivering the pitch.

The Tiger Mask card shows exactly what I like about Ginter, the non-baseball stuff. At their best the non-baseball stuff is wonderful and weird peppered with odd bits of culture. They’ve been getting less-weird recently but this is a good one. More of this please (and an Emperor Norton card too).

Now that we’re in non-baseball we can finish off the stack with this pair of Barcelona cards. This is a collectable card game and the cards have a nice bit of spot varnish effects going on that doesn’t show up in the photo. Fun to have a Jordi Alba who’s been a mainstay for Barça and Spain for a while now. Malcolm meanwhile just left to not much fanfare and, while not bad, didn’t stand out much either.

Whew. That was a bigger stack than I realized. Thanks Marc!