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!

Housewarming from Marc

My wife’s starting to get suspicious at how fast envelopes have been showing up at the new house. Late last week a mailer from Marc Brubaker arrived. Inside was the usual mix of cards for all my different projects.

We’ll start off with a few Stanford cards. The Castro celebration card and Lowrie parallel are the kind of things that never even make it on to my searchlist radar. Base cards and oddballs are my main goal. Inserts and parallels are things I ignore even though I love adding them to the binder.

I’ve just watched too many other collectors descend into madness trying to stay on top of all those things. Plus it feels like the kind of thing that risks turning the hobby into a chore. Having an insert or a couple parallels here or there adds a bit of variety. Feeling like I need ALL of them though is a place I never want to be.

The 1993 Osuna is a new one to me as well. The photo looks like it was taken at Candlestick and I’m staring at his uniform and realizing that I never noticed that the Astros wore the same uniforms at home and on the road in the late 80s. Also that out of focus baseball makes that card go from basic to interesting.

As is his wont, Marc included something that’s above and beyond the usual trade package stuff. This time it’s a Mark Appel autograph that Marc got through the mail a few years ago. This would have been a big deal six years ago and serves as a warning for all the crazy-overpriced prospecting that’s currently going on in Bowman. What was a big deal then is now probably only of interest to a weirdo like me who collects Stanford guys.

Also I have to point out that Appel notes Romans 12:2* on this card where his other card in my collection indicates Matthew 5:16** and yup, now I’m wondering if he’s ever been tempted to cite the something from Mark.

*And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

**Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The next stack of cards confused me for a moment because the Chris Carter card was on top. Chris Carter is a Stanford guy only he’s white and never played for the Astros. This Chris Carter is completely different and I needed his card for my 2014 set build.* I’ve not gone big on this yet but every little bit helps and it’s nice to strike another 6 off the searchlist.

*Current status of which is on the set needs page.

Moving on to the Giants portion of the mailing. A fair amount of Bowman including some gold parallels I’ve not seen and a black border Kyle Crick which I didn’t realize was (possibly) special until I put it in the binder. Bowman is such a trainwreck that I still don’t know whether the black border is a parallel or just a different set.

And a few 2019 cards including a foil Jeff Samardzija from Series 2 and a couple shiny Prizm cards. Since I couldn’t get into any Series 2 breaks it’s nice to get some of the extra cards in mailing like this. Prizm meanwhile is, like the rest of Panini’s products, one of those sets that I never see. These look pretty cool and deal nicely with Panini’s unlicensed status.

The last bit of the package consisted of a half-dozen 1994 Upper Deck World Cup cards. I only had one of these before now but have been considering getting many more. The 1994 World Cup is still the last international soccer games I’ve attended and Marc tried to get me cards of guys I watched play (plus Jorge Campos who’s just cool).

Four out of the five are indeed guys I watched play. And the fifth is John Doyle who, while he didn’t play in the 1994 World Cup, is a Bay Area legend who played with both the NASL Earthquakes and MLS Earthquakes as well as continuing on to be the Quakes manager so I have no complaints there.

Of the players I watched, the clear highlight is Bebeto who I saw score a couple goals—one against Cameroon and the winner against the US—in addition to having an all-time classic goal celebration. While I became a Barcelona fan through watching Romario in this World Cup, I very much enjoyed watching Bebeto play as well.

Thanks Marc! Maildays like this help me feel really moved in.

Mailday from Marc!

So last weekend a bubble mailer from Marc Brubaker arrived. It’s been over a couple months since his previous mailing so I guess I was due.

We’ll start off with three Stanford cards, all of which are new to me. Yes even that Steve Chitren. Did I buy a decent amount of 1992 Bowman? Absolutely. But since I only bought packs and never bought singles, I don’t yet have all of the ones which are relevant to my interests. Since Chitren is in thee 1992 Topps set I never felt the need to explicitly acquire his 1992 Bowman card. Though I’m glad to have it since it’s a pose and picture which is very different from all his other cards.

The Hammonds Finest card is a nice example of a series of cards I never seek out. Finest interests me in terms of how they’re made and what the represent in terms of the 1990s product marketing. I can’t imaging having a binder full of them so I’m plenty happy just having an example or two. I think this is the first one of these in my Stanford albums.

And that Mark Appel Bowman Chrome is sure something. I don’t understand what the point of this is. I guess it’s to show that he’s so hot a prospect that he melted his card. And I guess Topps went with melt because these are plastic Chrome cards. I don’t know, it’s weird and unreadable and the back is even worse because instead of warping the text to look like the melted effect it’s just typeset on curvy lines. Do I want more of these? God no. Am I glad to have one as a sample of something awful. Sadly yes.

Moving on to the Giants. As usual I’ll go through these roughly chronologically. We’ll start off with three San José Giants cards from Star’s massive Minor League set in 1989. These are fun because they show the original San José Giants caps that they only had for their first couple of seasons (1989 would be their second season). The less said about the photography though the better. I’m pretty sure Dewey and Santana both have their eyes closed.

Time to flash forward a couple decades. The Honus Bonus cards are from 2017 and were intended to be part of a Fantasy Baseball product. I’m not fully certain what the rules were but it seems to have melded collecting cards with redeeming the scratch-off codes on the back to create your roster. I gather that there were supposed to be prizes and things but it seems like the whole enterprise blew up midway through 2017.

Neither of these two cards are redeemed so I don’t know if that means that the pack got opened after the game died or if neither Casilla nor Gillaspie were deemed roster-worthy. Anyway, it’s an interesting concept. The cards themselves are kind of wild with those greyscale players on colored backgrounds. I’m not a fan of the look—whether it’s selective color or selective desaturation—and combined with the brightly colored borders I have a hard time seeing these as Giants cards. Casilla looks like he should be a Dodger and Gillaspie an A.

The three Heritage cards I have but the boys should enjoy them. It’s been interesting to watch their tastes develop and they seem to prefer the Heritage designs as well. I should really ask them why but I do suspect that they like seeing the portraits in the photos.

And the Opening Day card is a new one to me. I don’t buy the product but like many of the things I don’t buy, it’s fun to have a sample. I remain convinced that the photo is opf Tony Watson and not Will Smith. Even though Smith actually signed this.

To sets I don’t buy, starting off with a handful of 2019 Bowman. It’s very Bowmanny. I’m not a fan of the borders but seeing how it’s a semi-transparent layer makes me more okay with them. It means the border colors fit with the card photo and also makes me see it as more of an overlay such as I’d expect to see on TV or in a video game.

The Duggar photo is surprisingly nice with low-contrast light that keeps the black shirt and cream pants from blowing out the exposure curve while keeping his face exposed without any shadows. Also good timing on the swing with the step and bat-loading.* Chris Shaw isn’t so lucky with his pants losing all their highlight detail and his jersey getting HDR’d to the max.

*Compare to the Flagship photo where you can see Topps is struggling to balance the light well

Marc was very nice in sending me a Joey Bart card. I had given up on getting any of these since he’s at his price peak right now as one of the big names in the set who all the speculators are trying to hold. And for the flip side of the coin, Logan Webb is solidly in the bust cycle for now due to picking up a suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. Will he come back? Maybe. But for now he’s kind of the opposite of a prospect.

We’ll finish off this post with a batch of Donruss cards. My first 2019 Diamond King is Christy Mathewson. I had to check the back to confirm that this wasn’t part of last year’s cards. This is still a nice looking set and it remains one of the nicest cards just to hold and shuffle through your hands.

That shiny Buster Posey actually also features Joey Bart on the back. It’s a fun insert and I hope Bart is indeed a worthy replacement for Buster. Will that justify the hype he’s getting now? Probably not. But it’ll be good for the team.

And those five 2019 Donruss cards are my first samples from this set. The 1985esque designs on the Crawford Diamond King and Shaw rookie are nice but don’t compare to the wonderful red on black original. Something about the white bars just cals attention to the fact that the logos are missing. This might not be an issue for other teams but with the Giants, removing all the logos means getting rid of all the orange on their uniforms. So when the rest of the card also looks like the color has been removed the entire card feels like something is wrong. Crawford has enough other color so it’s not obvious but the Shaw looks super generic.

On the base design though the orange usage works really well at balancing the photos. Things still look a little off but these look pretty nice. Panini’s done a good job at framing the images in the space* and the result is a nice looking set of cards. It’s not one I’ll collect since it’s too large to be a fun little set build and too small to be a nice comprehensive set** but it’s nice to see Panini branching out from just aping the old Donruss designs.

*Although I wish they’d treated Hunter Pence’s bat a little differently.

**Looking at checklists over the past couple of years has helped me realize that I enjoy small sets with one or two players per team and large sets with at least a page-worth—and preferably an entire lineup—of players per team. And that any sets with checklists that fall between these values causes me to lose interest.

Very nice to start filling a Donruss page in the binder. I still need to get a Madison Bumgarner card since he’s not in any Topps products again this year.

Thanks Marc! It looks like you had some good rips with new product and I’m lucky to be able to enjoy in your unneeded cards.

So Marc exploded my mailbox

Marc Brubaker drops something in my mailbox so often that I may need to just commit to a monthly feature of posts about his maildays. I got another mailing early last week. Coming off a 4-day weekend and going into a snow day, the respite of sorting and cataloging cards was quite welcome.

One of the reasons Mark’s been able to send me so many packages and cards is that I’m building a few sets which are, for lack of a better word, junk. It’s cheaper  and easier to buy these as factory sets than it is to build them. But where’s the fun in that? Plus I already had hundreds of these as it is and the idea of those turning into duplicates makes me shudder.

Of course, that so many other people on Card Twitter have duplicates from these sets is what makes it so fun to build them by hand. Part of me is very grateful to be receiving help with these sets. And part of me knows that people like Marc are  just as grateful to be able to get rid of duplicates which are just wasting space in their homes.

Anyway these 1990 Fleers and Upper Decks don’t look like much but they take me to needing only 29 more Fleer cards and 37 Upper Decks. With 1991 Donruss only needing 22 cards to finish the set things are shaping up to a nice race to see which set finishes first.

I don’t have much to say about the cards themselves other than to note how despite being from the same year the gap in quality is kind of laughable. I actually like 1990 Fleer in its understated way but man Upper Deck blows it away on all fronts. I do like that Claudell Washington photo too.

Marc also included seventeen 2014 Topps cards to help with that set build. I’m over the 400 and past 60% on that build now too. The only problem is that since 75% of that build is in Series One it feels like I’m not even halfway there yet.

This set continues to grow on me too. I don’t like the file folder thing on the righthand side but other than that it’s a decent design. Some fun photos here too with the Denard Span and Russel Martin cards standing out in particular.

The real meat of this package looked to be in the big stack of Giants cards. The awful-airbrushed Rick Reuschel is an O-Pee-Chee card—something that’s always fun to encounter.* The Trevor Wilson and Kirt Manwaring Score cards are from one of their boxed sets that I apparently completely missed in the late-80s and now only have random cards from. Topps Big—even the less-exciting 1990s design— is always a treat.

*I’m especially tickled with the Reuschel because I just got an 88 Leaf Reuschel in a different mailing and had the same “is awesome” reaction. I never seek Canadian cards out but I always enjoy picking them up and hmm maybe I should listen to my emotions.

The complete set of 1992 Panini stickers is also a lot of fun. I avoided these when I was a kid. Stickers were clearly not cards to me. I sort of regret the decision now. As I’ve became more of a soccer fan I began to appreciate the Panini album culture a lot more. I’ve wanted to do one with my kids for the World Cup both because it looks fun and because it’s truly a global phenomenon that looks awesome to share in. Unfortunately I can’t justify the price for it. At all.

The other interesting thing about these stickers is that there are 9 stickers (plus a foil logo and a foil All Star) with a player for each position only there’s no starting pitcher. Also they’re not numbered based on scorekeeping order but instead go 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 ,8 ,7, 1—which makes me really curious to see how they were expected to be put into the book.

Some minor league fun in this next batch. Unfortunately I don’t recognize any of these names. Best part of this batch though is inching closer to completing some team sets. The Damon Minor Prospects card in particular finishes my 1999 Topps Giants set—my first complete team set from 1994–2006.

Other cards of interest in this batch are the Steve Scarsone 1994 Gold card and the Shawn Estes Metal Universe card. This is a much more sedate version of Metal universe than the multiple-armed Mark Gardner card Marc sent me previously. The Estes Fleer and Jeff Kent Ultra also deserve to be complimented on their photography.

I have an added appreciation for MLB Showdown now that someone’s posted the rules. Upper Deck Documentary continues to be wildly disappointing. In these three the “Left hander wins battle of Cy Young Award winners” card showing the clearly right-handed Matt Cain is most egregious in terms of not giving a shit about matching the photo to the event.

The Stan Lee First Pitch card is fantastic. RIP Stan. I don’t usually like these inserts but this is a clear exception. Especially now.

And rounding out the Giants with a few recent-year cards. The Andrew Suarez rookie is very nice given how he broke into the rotation last season. I dig the 2017 Heritage Team Card. Colored Posey parallel is interesting since I don’t chase these but have been curious to loupe them because of the way they deal with the 1983 border being extra-complicated is to fade out the spot ink. As such you can clearly see that it’s a spot ink being printed with an FM screen. The 2018 Donruss Madison Bumgarner is just nice to have because he didn’t have any Topps cards last year.

Moving into the Stanford portion of this mailing continues to surprise me with how many different guys Marc includes. Like I understand if he sends surplus Astros cards of the handful of Cardinal who have appeared in Houston over the years* but keeping track of everyone else? I have a hard time and it’s my own PC of guys who I watched play in college.

*Osuna, Bruntlett, Castro, Lowrie, and Hinch.

Lots of good stuff here too. Buechele and Castro stickers are definitely new. The Leaf Chitren is, surprisingly, also new to me. As are the Hammond Ultra, the Helling MVP and Metal Universes, and Hinch Victory. I’ve been focusing so much on mainline Topps issues that all these other brands are off my radar. It’s nice to have the samples and see how different they are compared to the Giants cards and I’m glad Marc’s an expert in this era of cards since so many people have no idea.

The Lonborg Swell is another great addition. Nice to have an action photo to go with all the portraits from his vintage cards. I also always like getting Topps Heritage. The brand is growing on me and I can enjoy it for what it does well even while it annoys me with some of its faux-retro styling. And I kind of miss those early Bowman years with the crazy foil borders.

A huge batch of Piscottys including a bunch of Donruss/Panini.* I don’t buy modern unlicensed Donruss cards so these are always fun to see in maildays since they’re a good bet to be brand new to me. The Topps Heritage (I’m assuming) card in the style of the late-60s/early-70s Topps Supers is my favorite here although the holiday card with the frozen waterslide amuses me more than it should.

*I never know what to call them.

The three Spragues included some Scores I never encountered as a kid and I wish I hadn’t already sent TTM requests to Stanicek and Williams since these would’ve been nice to include.

Four Scott Ericksons are a nice surprise. That they’re all from his time with the Orioles is especially welcome. I have a decent amount of his Twins cards but his later ones don’t show up in my collection.

I haven’t been hitting this project particularly hard. It’s become more of a passive collection where I will snag things as I come across them but am not looking to be comprehensive.

Now we’re getting to the fun part of the package. Marc was a member of the group of us who were making cards for the entire 2018 season. His set was one card per game plus complete roster, coaches, All Stars, and awards and he just finished earlier this month.

We’ve been sending each other samples from our sets. I sent him cards from the Astros games. He sent me cards where Stanford guys get mentioned—so both Hinch cards plus a game where the highlight was Stephen Piscotty hitting aa foul ball which got stuck in the stadium roof. I appreciate not getting cards from the season sweep that the Astros performed on the Giants.

Marc also included a couple other customs he made. The Hinch is in the style of 1962 Topps football. I’m not sure what the Castro is referencing but for all I know it could be jumping off of 1951 Bowman.

One of the things Marc and I have been discussing is how moving forward it’s becoming increasingly rewarding to make custom cards—both for ourselves and for other people. It’s a fun design challenge. It’s a gratifying photo editing experience. And for many of the people out on Card Twitter, making a custom of one of their favorite players is clearly a preferred way to thank them.

Marc decided to print his set professionally instead of doing so many cards at home. This was the correct decision but unfortunately he got tripped up by Acrobat’s “shrink to fit” defaults when he printed his first batch of cards. The result wasn’t a total loss since mini cards are one of those things that everyone likes and so Marc ended up with a bunch of fun mailday filler.

So I got mini cards of the five cards Marc intended to send me (full-size Hinch is included for scale) plus a couple of extras. Two of those extras are 1992 Bowman versions of some god-awful/wonderful photos from an Astros road trip in the early 1990s. Where 1991 Stadium Club and 1992 Topps had a few of these cards, 1992 Bowman featured so many photos of prospects in their peak-90s street clothes that it’s become the go-to template for any embarrassingly-dated fashion choices. The photos are hilarious. Putting them in the Bowman template makes them even funnier.

The other three are copies of my cards. Hunter Pence is the co-owner of Marc’s local coffee shop and Marc wanted to drop off a copy of my card featuring him saying good bye to the Giants faithful. I sent him a few JPGs of a couple different designs and they got caught up in the printing mishap. It’s fun to seem them as minis. It’s also fun to compare the difference in printing between Marc’s shop and Magcloud.

That’s not all though. This enigmatic team bag was quietly buried in the pile of other cards. Mark has sent stuff like this before but this is the first time something has been earmarked for the boys.

So I opened it up and found these. Marc obviously did more than just drop off some of my customs at the coffee shop. Let’s do some proper scans. Also I have a pretty good idea what’s hiding underneath all that blue painters tape now.

The boys will be very happy with this. Hunter Pence is a fan favorite for a reason and his Underpants nickname is precisely the kind of humor they love. I’m going to hold on to these for a while since my eldest has an autograph request out in the mail right now to Pat Neshek* and I don’t want to ruin the fun when that becomes his first active big league autograph.

*Yes this will be a post of its own once Neshek’s return gets here.

Pence will still be my son’s first Giants autograph and that will be special enough until he gets a Giants autograph in person.*

*His first Major Leaguer was Jay Bell last year.

And as I suspected once I saw the two signed 2015 Topps cards, I now have one of my customs signed. This is super cool. I’ve been sending out my customs to Spring Training since they’re fun to share. It’s wonderful to know that at least one player has seen them now.

I get the sense that the players truly appreciate the gesture and who knows, maybe in the next month or two I’ll have more signed customs in my autograph binder.

Thanks so much Marc! This mailer was awesome.

Mailday from Marc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Marc and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas from Marc

The last mailer I received last week was yet another box of cards from Marc. Where Artie had gotten ahold of my Giants searchlist, Marc had found my setbuilding list and realized he could do significant damage to my junk wax set builds—specifically 1990 Upper Deck and 1991 Donruss.

Junk wax sets builds are really the best thing for trading. Most of us have tons of duplicates and there’s no real reason to keep them around. The hardest thing is finding someone who’s building a set since so many people already have them completed or can just buy a factory set for, at most, the same price as a wax box.* As someone who’s never built a set before though it’s great to have a list out there that people are happy to be able to contribute to and get some unneeded cards off their hands.

*Why build? For me a lot of it is finishing builds I’d started as a child. Plus the experience of getting to know a set over time rather than sitting down and sorting the entire thing all at once is very different.

With the 1990 Upper Decks Marc had almost 200 that I needed. I’m now at 751/800 on that build.

Marc also found almost 100 1991 Donruss cards that I needed. In addition to finishing off my Giants team set I’m now at 747/770 complete there.

Now it’s a race to see which I finish first between 1978 Topps, 1986 Topps, 1990 Fleer, 1990 Upper Deck, and 1991 Donruss. They’re all super close. 1978 has the advantage and disadvantage of being the only one which I’d want to purchase singles of to finish though. Yes this is more expensive but none of the other sets have any cards that are worth enough for buying singles to be worth it.* They’re too complete for buying packs to be worth it either. So there’s a very real likelihood that I’ll have those uncompleted for a long time.

*When I get down to the last couple cards though I’ll probably give up and just buy them.

Still, there’s something fun about having all the set builds hit 90% complete and that page to shrink to an extremely reasonable size.

Marc seemed to recognize that this would happen so he also included just enough 2014 Topps to take me over the 50% mark and get me to move it to my set build page. It’s still heavily Series 1 but a build is a build and it’s nice to get some of the bigger-name players out of the way.

The Pujols card in particular is especially nice and shows how nice this set looks with colored uniforms.

Of course, Marc being Marc couldn’t leave it at that. He included a bunch of assorted Giants. The Conlon McGraw is wonderful. That Select Cory Snyder photo is something else. The Metal Universe Bonds is downright sedate compared to other Metal Universe designs I’ve seen and I like having the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. And 1998 Stadium Club is kind of a clusterfuck of post-press indiscipline with three different colors of foil stamping plus embossing.

The 2018 cards are quite welcome and represent the sets I refuse to purchase. I like that Marc sends me Fire one at a time. I’m not I could handle a huge batch of them. Same thing goes with Gypsy Queen actually; one or two in a mailing is fine but a whole batch of them would give me the Photoshop disaster eyetwitches.

Chrome meanwhile is a set I still don’t like but am becoming increasingly intrigued by ever since Robby T pointed out that they’re printed wrong-reading. I’d already been looking at them sort of closely because of the opaque white ink usage but seeing that there was even more going on has me looking at them even more closely.

The best I can guess is that the cards are printed in reverse on clear plastic, then the opaque white gets printed on top of that, and finally the printed side of the plastic gets fused to the foil stock. So that cool glossy finish is the clear stock and because things are printed in reverse you don’t have to worry about now the colored ink lays down on top of the opaque white.

Marc also included these poker chips—sorry Topps Chipz—for the ever-increasing “stuff I can’t binder” collection. Buster Posey is from 2013. Madison Bumgarner is from 2015.

I honestly don’t know what to think about these. They’re actually kind of nice to handle as they have the heft and finish of proper clay chips* instead of feeling like tiddly winks. As a result I don’t really feel like putting them in 2×2s even though that’s probably the best place for them.

*Reminding me of when I was in college and getting real clay chips was actually hard back in those early days before poker was literally everywhere.

Yes there’s more. Marc continues hitting all my collecting interests with a bunch of Stanford guys including a Mark Appel die cut and a Mike Mussina Sportflics. I think my favorite is the Jack McDowell 1993 Studio with the foil-stamped signature but I did LOL at the Piscotty with the sharpied annotation as to what was “special” about it.

The Piscotty is a “missing nameplate” parallel. It’s not to be confused with the “missing black plate” parallel. When the (black ink only) name plate is missing there’s still black ink in the photo. When the black ink in the photo is missing, the name plate is still there. Yes I had to bust out the loupe to see WTF Topps was doing and it looks like the entire product is printed in two passes. The first pass uses a traditional line screen and prints the photo and all the graphics except for the GQ logo and name plate. The second pass uses a stochastic screen and prints just the GQ logo and name plate.* This second pass is what allows Topps to churn out all kinds of variants in the GQ logo and name plate.

*I went down a looking at screens rabbit hole on SABR a year ago if anyone wants to learn more about print screens.

Anyway it‘s really weird to see the mix of screens on the same printed piece and I’m not sure why Topps chose to do it this way. Or it could very well be the printer’s choice and Topps, like most people, isn’t too invested in what screening technology is used. It definitely adds to the weirdness of Ginter though. We’ve already got an old-time look coupled with modern action photography and image processing. And we’ve got an artificially aged paper looking stock which results in a different white point in the photo compared to the borders. So let’s just toss a couple different methods of printing into the mix too.

Rounding out the batch are a handful of Scott Erickson cards, a handful of action photos, and a couple Conlon St. Louis Browns.  I’ve been neglecting the Erickson PC so it’s nice to add a few more-recent ones. I think I only had Twins cards before. I continues to be amazed at the variety of the multi-exposure action cards and am surprised to see the gimmick had legs well into 1996. The 1991 Score Lenticular disc is awesome. And I have to decide of the Conlons go with the other Conlons or if I should break out a St. Louis Browns section of my binder.

Very cool stuff Marc and Merry Christmas!