Tag Archives: marcbrubaker

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!

Wait what? I just got one of these

The day I got my envelope from Marc he posted a “heads up to the following zip codes” 0utgoing-mailday post which included my zip. I assumed that he’d written it a few days earlier and just posted it without expecting that my mail had already arrived. Turns out I should’ve expected a second envelope.

This one had an enigmatic note wrapped around the cards. What could it be indeed? The last time I got such a note it turned out to be Bob Veale.

Holy crap another 1964 surprise which knocks off a hole in my Stanford searchlist. This time it’s a high-number rookie of Bill Wakefield which was on the “more expensive than I wanted to spend at this time” list. Wakefield’s an interesting case in that I think he’s the only guy in that project who graduated from Stanford but never played for the baseball team.

I also like that he spent only a single season in the majors but managed to get three seasons of cards out of it. While I like his 1965 and 1966 cards better, it’s nice to have one from his actual season in which he appeared in 62 games.

Marc also included a 2017 Fire card of Stephen Piscotty which will slide into my Stanford album a few pages in front of the Wakefield. I skipped this set too so this is my first time seeing it in the flesh. I prefer the 2018 design. Aside from not liking the way the crazy background interacts with the player here, the way Topps just slapped the team logo over this design feels incredibly wrong.

Team logos are almost all decades-old design so incorporating them into an over-the-top modern design like this requires more work than just dumping the logo in the corner.


Filling out the rest of the envelope were three 2016 Topps cards. Every time I see this design I can’t help but think about how much nicer it would be with the smoke stuff. Just a nice full-bleed photo. Dump the team name. Keep the rest of the TV-style graphics as they are.

Each time I see this Posey though I’m increasingly inclined to view it as a photo of him with four arms.

And finally a 2018 Stadium Club card that’s well-timed on the heels of my going through Adam’s box and seeing all those 1990s card tropes. Photos of players with a cameras—preferably a gigantic lens—were pretty common in those days. They’re obviously still an appealing shot—especially to photographers like Marc and me. I’m more surprised though that we aren’t seeing photos of players with cellphones taking selfies with fans and whatnot.

Thanks for the surprise PWEs and for finishing off one of the Stanford Alumni runs! Only five left from the 60s/70s now. As for the overall list, I’ve had to add a few thanks to Topps Update (and expect another three or so once Bowman Draft comes out) so I’ve still got a dozen cards left overall to look for.

Fire PWE from Bru

A couple weeks ago I found yet another small envelope from Marc in my mailbox. This one caught me by surprise since I’d just received a decent package from him. When I opened it up I found a bit of Fire. Topps Fire.

That’s a McCutchen base card and a Cueto foil card. I don’t know the proper terminology since this set isn’t the kind of thing I pursue. Marc sent me my first Fire card ever in his previous PWE and these will go next to it in the binder.

Looking at these cards makes me realize how many of the things I dislike in card designs are things I really like as oddballs. As a 200-card set, stuff like this just makes me shake my head. As a 30-card set? I could see myself getting into it. The same goes with Panini’s unlicensed cards which have all the logos airbrushed out. Something about the small checklist makes me much more accepting of quirkiness.

Part of this is because the small checklist encourages a smarter selection of players. You need stars who aren’t diminished by an over-the-top design or who can salvage something logoless and bland. Finding 200 of those guys? Tough. Finding one per team? Much easier.

Anyway, both these cards look way nicer in person and a lot of that has to do with the fact that all three Fire cards I have are of star players. I just wish that Cutch and Stretch had different backgrounds since this design is really asking to be different on each card.

Like this Piscotty background is a nice change of pace. Seeing pages of this over and over again would make my eyes bleed. But seeing one page of craziness? Totally fine. And having just one card amidst a page of otherwise sedate designs really livens things up.

I’ve got to admit, I much prefer Fire to Gypsy Queen. Where I understand what Fire’s doing, I remain absolutely confused by GQ. From the HDR action photos to the pseudo-vintage look which hearkens back to the days of studio photographs, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around what this product is trying to do. Once you toss all the “errors” and variants into the mix? No. Fucking. Clue.

Still it’s nice to have a few in my albums since I’ll never ever buy them. Gives a nice variety to the page and that’s always fun. Plus I would never have noticed how weird it is to have such a different white point in the photo compared to the background of the card if I hadn’t had to scan this for this post. It makes my brain hurt since it makes it clear how the antique background effect is just a printed border.

Continuing with the Stanford theme. Marc included a Bowman Chrome of Mark Appel. This card also doesn’t scan well. Chrome goes black and the border becomes a weird grey halftone. On the plus side, scanning Chrome reveals a lot about how it was printed since the change in reflectivity shows where there’s an opaque white and where there isn’t.

As much as I don’t like the way Chrome looks with photography, I’m fascinated by the printing. Opaque white has such promise for all kinds of cool printing effects* and I’m a bit disappointed that it’s used as essentially a flood for covering up metallic stock. At the same time, it’s not used much in printing at all so to see it live and in the flesh is still exciting.

*If I were designing things I’d be going nuts with opaque white ink on medium-dark papers where the ink would create highlights and the black could create shadows.

Two other cards in the PWE. The first is a 2016 Update card of Brandon Belt as an All Star. One of the disappointing things for me upon reengaging with the hobby is how boring All Star cards have gotten. I mean it’s always fun to get an All Star card of a player on your team, but I grew up in the days of the dedicated subsets which had their own distinct All Star designs.

Coming across an All Star card was something special and those designs still trigger a ton of nostalgia when I see them. If I were baseball card king this is one of the things I’d bring back. Just slapping the All Star logo on the card front without even changing the team name is some laziness.

And last, the super-cool Deion Sanders action card. This goes with the rest of my Action collection even though it’s very much riffing on the concept rather than actually being action. I always liked this card too. Was cool when I saw it in 1992. It’s still cool now.

Looking at it now and I can’t help but notice how smart Upper Deck was to basically remove all the 1992 design from this and let the photo stand on its own. No baseballs. No drop shadow. No names. Just a photo and we all knew exactly who it was. Part of me smiles at seeing him carrying a football since as a cornerback that wasn’t his main job. And the rest of me remembers that ridiculous high-stepping pick-six celebration.

Thanks Marc for the very cool mailday.

Stragglers

Late last week I discovered a small envelope in my mailbox with a few stragglers that didn’t make it into Marc’s original package. I gather that this is one of those instances when you mail something out and immediately discover that you forgot to put a few items in.*

*I do this a lot too but usually I just forget to include a note.

First off, this 1999 Topps Traded Ed Sprague finishes off my run of his “cards of record.”* Even more exciting about it is that takes my searchlist for all Stanford guys to being down to ten from the Topps/Bowman Flagship (and related) sets. Or well ten until Update releases later this year and adds a few more to the searchlist.

*Something I’ve tended to call Topps Flagship though in the late 90s–00s I’ve had to supplement with other brands since the checklists were often small and didn’t include more fringe players. For example, in Sprague’s case, Topps has no cards of him with the A’s.

It’s nice to have this project basically finish building mode and become something that just needs to be sustained. Where before I’ve mentioned turning the corner, and evolving the scope of what I’m searching for, the original scope will always exist as a goal to be completed.

The ten cards I’m missing fall into two categories.

Things I haven’t purchased because of price reasons:

  • Doug Camilli 1962 Topps
  • Doug Camilli 1966 Topps
  • Jim Lonborg 1965 Topps
  • Jim Lonborg 1968 Topps
  • Jim Lonborg 1970 Topps
  • Bill Wakefield 1964 Topps

Things that just haven’t turned up whenever I go searching:

  • Rick Helling 2002 Topps Traded
  • John Mayberry Jr. 2010 Topps Phillies Team Set
  • Mike Mussina 2009 Topps
  • Brian Sackinsky 1995 Topps

The price ones may never ever get completed. Most aren’t too bad but the 1962 Camilli rookie will always be beyond what I want to spend. The ones that haven’t turned up through searching are a more interesting bunch. The Mayberry Jr. Phillies card will likely be hard to track down. The other three though are a pretty random reflection of how certain things can just be not available.

The 1997 Finest Ed Sprague is one of the few cards I have from this set. I don’t really get the Finest ethos. It’s nice thick stock and super shiny; it just doesn’t move me. I’m tempted to peel the protective film layer off except I don’t trust it to not ruin the card after decades of being affixed.

The most interesting thing about this for me is how the back of the card notes that this is a “common.” I know, I know, Topps used to do this all the time with how it numbered sets and gave star players the “hero numbers” ending in 0 or 00. But there’s something about writing “common” on the card itself that really bothers me in that it feels incredibly artificial.

And my first sample of Topps Fire. Like Finest, this is another set I’ve had an immediate “not for me” response to even though I’m happy to get samples here and there so I can inspect them.

Fire actually looks much much better in person that it does in images. There’s more depth in the colors and printing than what comes across on screen and the card itself feels more consistent in its design than the trainwreck feel I get looking at images online.

Am I going to go go out and try to get more of these? No. The idea of looking through a binder of these kind of gives me hives. But Fire and Finest both work in small doses to add a little variety to the binder and I very much appreciate that.

Thanks Marc! These were worth waiting for.

Mailday from Marc

When it rains it pours. I’ve been back in New Jersey for a few weeks now. Acclimating to the horrendous weather. Getting the kids up and running for school. Re-stocking the house after having emptied the larder before vacation. It’s been a lot of work. This week though I got some help in the mail in the form of multiple bubble mailers containing cardboard therapy.

The first is from Marc Brubaker who’s managed to reload with a huge, interesting mailday before I’ve been able to put together a viable return to his many previous maildays. Heck I’ve not even finished a roll of film yet (three more frames left!).

I didn’t photo this but wrapped around the cards was a handful of 20-pocket tobacco-card pages. I’d mentioned offhand on Twitter that I needed to get a few of them so I could page my Kings and Queens of England set and well as some random other minis. Marc noticed and duly sent them my way. Very cool. Very Nice. Things look much better in pages now.

To the cards! We’ll start with the Giants cards and just go in chronological order. That 1987 Opening Day checklist is the epitome of a card I’d never buy but which I’m happy to slide into a binder sheet. The idea of spending money on a checklist card just feels wrong to me. But then I think I’ve been permanently scarred by checklists since I pulled a lot of them when I was a kid. Did I ever get any of the big hit cards? Of course not. But I sure could pull a checklist. Looking through my childhood collection and the number of checklists I pulled in even oddball sets like Donruss Action All Stars or Topps Mini Leaders still surprises me.

The highlight in this batch though is the 1994 Stadium Club. I had a few packs of these in a box of un-paged cards that I’d dropped after the strike pushed me out of the hobby. I know that I wasn’t particularly struck by the design back then. I kind of love it now. Peak 1990s nostalgia with its pseudo dymo labler and ripped paper aesthetic. The backs are even better.

And the photography. Where 1991 Stadium Club looks kind of disappointing now, by 1994 Topps knew what it was doing and photos like the Will Clark or Rod Beck cards still look good. The Kirt Manwaring on the other hand is at a whole different level as it’s possibly the best card of a very good career of baseball cards. Plus the multiple exposure things satisfies my action-card mini collection as well.

Moving into the 1990s that I missed. The 1995 Score Gold Rush is very cool. The Mark Carreon card in particular shows how Score was using opaque white ink to make the player pop out from his surroundings. 1996 Stadium Club is not a set I react to nearly as well as 1994 but it’s nice enough and the Royce Clayton card where he’s diving into the bag is fantastic. I’m glad Marc pointed out that some of these are silver parallels. I never would’ve noticed a difference.

1997 Score meanwhile is a set which I like the look of. Nice photo-centric design and the white border really frames the image well. I only have three cards though so these four parallels now outnumber them in my binder. It’s a bit weird to me that Premium Stock and Hobby Reserve are basically the same pack-inserted parallel just in different series of the product release.

The 1999 Fleer Brilliants Barry Bonds is an interesting card in its super-premium way. And the 1999 Fleer Warning Track parallels are like the Score parallels and basically double the number of cards I have from that set. I do enjoy the JT Snow photo with his kid (same with the Rod Beck photo here as well) and can think of a number of photos from the 1990s which featured ballplayers with their children.

On to the 200s. The 2003 Upper Deck 40 Man card of Game 1 of the 2002 World Series means I’m only missing the game 4 card now. I do not have, nor do I want the cards from games 1, 3, 6, and 7 (I know I know, one of you sick bastards is totally going to send me the game 6 card now). The 2002 World Series isn’t as traumatic as it once was. But I still can’t bear to watch highlights from it.

2004 Topps Opening Day cracks me up, I still have no base 2004 cards but am somehow getting cards from the other sets which use the same design. That Fleer card is nice even though it’s clearly an Upper Deck design and totally signifies the deathknell of the Fleer brand. And I think the 1972 mini is from 2013 Archives.

The last bit of 2018 cards includes my first real sampling of Topps Archives this year. This is a product I want to like but the caliber of the design mimicry is the kind of thing that drives me crazy*. Things like the uncentered name font on the 1959 design or using the wrong colors (and not in a way that improves anything) on the 1977 design just bug me. Which is a shame there’s a huge potential in this line to just have fun. Anyway, since it’s not a product I’ll ever buy it’s always fun to get a sampling.

*Heritage is close to this problem too but is a mostly better-constucted set.

This batch also includes my first Donruss/Optic card for this year. As with Archives, Optic is not a set that I’ll ever buy so it’s fun to have a sample to take a proper look at. That shiny stuff isn’t my thing except for my interest in how it’s actually made.

Marc is also one of the few guys who send me Stanford cards. I’m always impressed. It’s a lot of work for me to keep all those names in mind so I never have any expectations for anyone else to do it. Sure, it helps that there are a decent number of Stanford guys who have been associated with the Astros* but even then it’s a lot of thinking about my collecting goals.

*Mark Appel, Erik Bruntlett, Jason Castro, AJ Hinch, Jed Lowie, and Al Osuna as well as more obscure players like Johnny Ash and Brandt Walker.

And it’s not just Astros here. Marc filled a lot of holes. Or, well, not holes exactly but many of these cards I don’t have and have been plenty happy sorting them in to my Stanford album. The Stadium Clubs—especially that Jack McDowell Members Choice card. The Score Gold Rush. The Upper Deck SP. All of them have a place in the binder and help jazz things up with examples from sets that are underrepresented.

Mike Mussina is the one Stanford player that people do tend to remember. MArc included Lots of his cards that I don”t have. The Score parallels are great. Donruss Team Heroes is one of god knows how many Donruss sets from this time period. It’s always nice to get a new Heritage card although the image quality on this one is pretty dire. Someone upscaled a small image a bit too far.

The Al Osuna O Pee Chee is great. I don’t have many of those in any binders. The Stephen Piscotty first Bowman is also fantastic. I’m not a Chrome guy but it’s nice to have a few around. His Archives card is also the first from that set in the Stanford binder as well.

And finally there are a bunch of Ed Spragues I didn’t have from the 1992 Upper Deck, yet another wonderful 1994 Stadium Club, to those fantastic Silver Signature parallels in Collectors Choice. Plus another sample from 1997 Score to top things off.

Marc’s thoughtfulness goes even beyond remembering the Stanford guys though. He’s also been hitting cards from my mini collections. In addition to the 1994 Manwaring card I mentioned earlier, there are another half-dozen action-related cards. Some, like the always-enjoyable Sportflics cards and multiple-exposure Upper Deck cards are things I know about. Others, like the Omar Vizquel 1994 Stadium Club with six different images are complete surprises. I also had no idea that Score even jumped on this bandwagon in 1995.

The other mini collection here is my Photographer collection. Conlon cards are always appreciated in this area.

And finally comes a selection of cards that I’m not collecting but have mentioned maybe a couple times as thinking about starting a collection of. Specifically Hawai‘i and putting together a collection of guys who were from there. El Sid is one of the first names on that list.*

*Along with Benny Agbayani, Ron Darling, Charlie Hough, Len Sakata, Kurt Suzuki, Shane Victorino, and Justin Wayne.

Any Duke card is also great. This is a set I’m unfamiliar with so I’ve looked up the checklist and added Bob Mathias to my searchlist now as well.

Holy moly that was a lot to go through. Marc hit five different areas I’m collecting. That’s the kind of thing which really sets a trader apart and yeah super duper impressive since I get the sense he’s doing this with a bunch of other guys on Twitter too. Thanks so much!

Refrigerate after opening

A couple weeks ago Marc sent me a cryptic note on Twitter that I should be expecting a package in a few days and that I shouldn’t leave it in my mailbox. I’d said something that inspired him earlier this summer but had no idea what to expect. Marc’s packages are frequently surprising but one which could spoil? I was so clueless that I couldn’t even begin to guess.

When I opened the package a week ago, it all made sense. Marc and I, in addition to being into cards, are also photographers. Much in the same way that Robby and I talk shop with cards and printing, Marc and I discuss cards and photography—and sometimes just photography itself.

That I’ve been shooting film and posting my on-the-go contact sheet scans* this summer means I’m the recipient of some of Marc’s over-stocked freezer. Everything here is expired—often long so. But that’s not stopped me in the past.

*Why yes I do have a post about the workflow.

It’s been a long time since I had bunch of random expired film to try. Keeble has been shuttered for a few years and even before then the bargains had dried up. This looks like a lot of fun. Four emulsions I’ve never tried plus one that I’ve not shot in eight years*

*And looking through my notes suggests I may actually have shot Portra 160VC, not Portra 400VC.

Two of these rolls look perfect for toy cameras. The ORWO looks to be all kinds of nutso since it’s the only one that’s not from Marc’s freezer. I’m currently thinking that I’ll run it through the flipped lens camera but obviously things might change. The TMax100 meanwhile is calling for me to start shooting my Pony again—though putting the 105mm lens on my Nikomat is also a possibility.

The slide film is also all kinds of exciting. Even my good cameras are kind of junk in that I don’t exactly trust the shutter speeds anymore. They’re fine for color negative film. They’re totally fine for Tri-X. But I’ve wanted to try slides for a long time. Especially 120 slides.

I’ve already loaded the Provia in my Yashicamat and am working my way through that roll. Hopefully I’ll get it done before I go back to New Jersey since I have no idea where to get it developed in New Jersey.

The Ektachrome? I don’t know yet. It’s tungsten balanced so it’s already going to be kind of wack since I have literally no tungsten lights around me anymore. Part of me wants to shoot it straight and embrace the blues. Part of me wants to take it out at night with a tripod. Part of me wants to cross-process it so I don’t have to worry about finding a place that processes E6.

Anyway this is good. I’ve been in a bit of a photography rut for the past five years. A lot of this is just not getting Princeton. When I’m in California in the summers I see photos everywhere. I’ve yet to reach that way of seeing things in New Jersey. Some of this is because things are just too pretty and picturesque. I’ve taken all those photos to get them out of my system but haven’t felt many of them. But I’ve also just gotten out of the habit of going out and taking photos.

I used to go shooting as part of my lunch break. Get out of the office. Clear my head. Go outside. Now I’m often trying to get as much done before the kids get back and I need a bit of kick in the pants to go out. Trying new gear or film has always been one such kick for me. Those years when I was always trying out some new junk camera or expired film were a lot of fun.

While the gimmick of the new gear was often not the winning shot, getting outside and looking for photos was the recipe that worked. I’m excited to have an excuse to get back to that.

Oh, and of course there were cards in there as well. Lots of these are for the kiddos as they represent junk wax that I have already but which they will happily add to their “old cards” binder. Yes, that’s what they call all their cards from the 1980s and 1990s. Yes it makes me feel really really old.

I’ll probably hang onto that Trevor Wilson card though. And I need to fogure out what to do with the Tom Herr card since it’s technically a Cardinals card even though it features a Giant and was shot at Candlestick. Also that photo is the kind of thing which made my jaw drop when I opened my first pack of Score back in 1988.

Marc managed to fill a hole in one of my searchlists with that Roger Craig Glossy All Star. Where in 1990 I bought a ton of packs of Topps even though I’d been getting a factory set for Christmas each year since 1987, in 1991 I saved my money and bought no packs of Topps. Unfortunately that meant I missed out on all four Giants in the Glossy All Stars set. It’s nice to have all four of them now.

The rest of these 1991 cards are also likely to end up in the “old cards” binder. Though I’m pretty sure that I never had those 1991 Fleers since I did not buy many packs of those back in the day.

The last of the junk wax cards includes a fantastic Topps Stadium Club Ultra Pro Barry Bonds oddball. I was unaware of this set. I’m not sure if I should be glad or mad about finding out about it.

And a handful pf 2015 Topps cards. Some of which I need. Some of which I don’t. It’s nice to slowly work backwards and backfill team sets from the 2010s since this team is very much one that’s close to my heart.

Marc also sent a wonderful sample of 2018 cards. The handful of Series 2 Giants is especially appreciated. The pair of Stadium Clubs are beautiful. And I’m really digging the handful of Big League. For a modern release it just feels like cards from when I was kid. Not physically, but the photography and backs are closer to what things used to be like. Things aren’t as aggressively cropped. Action images don’t emphasize exertion. Borders give everything a chance to breathe. Substantial stats on the back are great (although I wish they were complete instead of cutting off at 15 years).

these are also the first Gypsy Queen and Allen & Ginter cards I’ve seen this year. I’m still not a convert to either of these sets. Gypsy Queen still gives me the HDR hives although this year’s set is doing some interesting things printwise in terms of its GCR handling. Ginter meanwhile continues to be Ginter. I like the non-sport cards (most of the time) and am very happy to have representative samples of the baseball cards. It’s just not my thing.

On to the weirder stuff. First some early Mother’s Cookies cards. The 1985s in particular are brand new to me. It really weirds me out to see so much action photography. I’m used to the more-sedate posed photos which the 1986s feature here (I love that Greg Minton pose) and which they never moved away from until the mid 90s.

By the mid-90s the Mother’s Cookies poses were tighter head and shoulders images like these. I don’t enjoy them as much or the change to having borders. The 1986 Topps and 1990 Fleer cards are for my set builds and are much appreciated. It’s always fun to get a Sportflics card. I only have four from 1987 too so this one is doubly awesome. That Swell set sure is yellow. I already know that my kids are going to be ecstatic receiving Willie Mays and Christy Mathewson cards.

Holy moly how great is that 1975 SSPC Roger Craig. He looks the same in 1962, 1975, and 1989. The handful of Stanford guys is also great. I know I don’t have three of them and the other two are part of sets which are in binders in a box on a shelf in my parents’ converted garage. In other words, having duplicates that I can actually put in my Stanford albums is super useful.

Thanks Marc! I’ll post again when I get my film back and scanned. And it looks like I’m going to have to write about my kids’ reactions to getting huge stacks of Giants cards.

Mailday from Bru!

So it seems like the end of the school year is peak mailday season. The same week I got packages from Mark, Otto, and Tim, I found a package from Marc (@marcbrubaker) in my mailbox. This package was very similar in composition to his previous package in that it was mostly Giants odds and ends but also a dozen Stanford guys.

We’ll go in the opposite order this time and start with the Stanford guys. Well. Stanford guys and Jay Bell who’s not a Stanford guy but now that I have an autographed card of him milking a cow I guess I’ve been marked as a Jay Bell collector. That Classic 4-Sport of Andrew Lorraine is a card and set I’ve never seen before. I don’t go out of my way to get cards in Stanford uniforms but it’s certainly fun to have a couple of them in my album.

And it’s not surprising that I get a lot of Stanford Astros. Al Osuna, being from peak junk wax years has a ton of cards that I’m sure just multiply in Marc’s boxes. I’m especially digging the 93 Ultra card even though for a moment I thought it was a 92 Ultra card that I already had.*

*92 and 93 Ultra as well as 93 Donruss correspond to the “we just got computers so check out these computer-generated bevelled edges” school of early-90s card design. This is not to be confused with the “we just got computers so check out these computer-generated rock textures,” the “we just got computers so check out these computer-generated gradients” or the “we just got computers so check out these computer-generated drop shadows” schools. Those years when any ray-tracing was amazing just because a computer could do it are important to remember at how we were so easily overawed by the esthetics of technology.

1990s Giants. Some junk wax but a lot of post-strike stuff as well as a few samples from sets I liked but never acquired a lot of. I’m looking at 1993 Studio here since I really like the design with the cap logo background and the foil signature. Looking at those also makes me wistful for those old Giants caps with the flat-stitched cap logos.

Believe it or not this is my first 1997 Topps Giants card. I’ve been super negligent on filling in post-strike holes so almost everything here 1994-on is new to me. That 1995 Score design is wonderfully 1990s and totally brings me back to high school.

And most of these names are all names I remember from my youth. Yes even Rikkert Faneyte. Kirt Manwaring never had a bad baseball card. Royce Clayton and Jose Uribe are sentimental favorites. Greg Litton was briefly relevant again for being the most-recent Giants position player to pitch before Pablo Sandoval did it this season.

A batch of early-2000s cards (plus some 1999s that didn’t fit in the previous photo). That these are mostly Jeff Kent makes me sense a Texas connection. The Pacific Omega is a brand new set to me. As is that 1980s-feeling Fleer Platinum (which I kind of dig) and that weird Upper Deck Play Ball card (which just weirds me out).

A big batch of 2015 and 2016 cards. The 2015 set is seriously growing on me. It gave me big time HDR vibes when I first saw them but compared to the sets which have followed it, I’m loving it more and more each day. That’s also a nice sample of players with Scutaro being a Giants legend based on the 2012 playoffs and Petit and Vogelsong being heroes of the 2014 playoff run.

Those Panini/Donruss cards are my first examples of that set. Non-licensing is weird and while I like the references to classic Donruss these feel like a super-glossy oddball release rather than a real set. Opening Day is nice to have since I never buy it. Same with Archives though I do love that 1991 design. I wish Heritage avoided the colored jerseys* since this would otherwise look pretty sharp. I also just noticed that—and am really confused at how—Topps didn’t print a keyline around the photo on the Fence Busters card.

*Something Topps finally figured out this year.

Moving on to a few cards of special interest. Metal Universe is a set I’ve seen pictures of but was thoroughly confused by. I’m kind of happy to have one in person to confirm that the photos were mostly accurate. Mostly because they fail to demonstrate how rainbowy and shiny this card is in person. But other than that they do capture the general WTFness of this set.

I have no idea WTF is going on with this card. It’s so bad that it’s good and I can see how people want more of them even while the rational part of my brain recoils at the thought.

The MLB Showdown collectible card game card really interests me as a concept. In many ways this is what should’ve become the Living Set as a set of cards that’s released like Pokémon and intended to either be played or collected as part of a never-ending set of new releases.

In reality it appears that this game was released each year as a new set. The card backs are different from year to year and as a result, the idea of being able to put a multi-year deck together isn’t something this product does. In other words, it’s more like a set of baseball cards than a set of game cards. Una lástima.

I’m including the 2014 Allen & Ginter card here because, while I don’t care too much for Ginter in general, I do find myself liking this particular set. I’ve finally figured out that it’s because of the gold spot ink that Topps used for the detailing. In most of the Ginter sets, Topps does the text and linework with process inks—this works mostly well with stochastic screening, very much less well with traditional—so it’s nice to see them do it right with a spot ink. Using the gold ink is just a nice extra touch.

My first 2016 Stadium Clubs. Yeah this is a nice set. The cards just feel so much nicer than anything else aside from perhaps the Panini Diamond Kings. The photography is nice too although based on these samples, 2017 looks to be extraordinarily good even among Stadium Club releases.

The main thing I like here is that Topps adjusted the design to be somewhat centered (actually just a half-inch left-hand margin) on vertical cards and aligned left on horizontal cards. While I’m not one of those guys who hates mixed-orientation sets, I do like it when the difference in the layouts feels considered rather than an awkward attempt to make the vertical design work in a different layout.

Also I do like it when cards are willing to show the player in positions where we can’t see his face. The Duffy card doesn’t work as well as the Crawford card here but the variety is a nice change of pace from the standard baseball card look.

And last but not least, a few 2018 Bowmans including two of the newest Giants. Neither McCutchen or Longoria made it into the flagship set as Giants. Longoria has shown up in a few sets since but this is Cutch‘s first official Giants card from Topps. He’s definitely found his footing in San Francisco and I can see how he was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh.

Thanks Bru! This was a fun way to end the school year and start my summer.