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Tacoma Programs from Mark Hoyle

A couple weeks ago I received a surprise mailer from Mark Hoyle. He’d mentioned the mailer to me and it looked cool but I promptly forgot about it until it arrived. He’d found a batch of 1961 and 1962 Tacoma Giants programs (as a Red Sox guy he liked that Johnny Pesky shows up in them as the manager of the Seattle Rainiers) and figured that I would be an appreciative recipient of a copy of each.

He figured correctly. As a Giants guy, getting a glimpse of their minor league system at the beginning of the 1960s is extremely fascinating. And I also have a soft spot for Tacoma and Cheney Stadium. Aside form being the final resting place of Seals Stadium’s seating, one of my favorite autograph experiences occurred there.

To the programs. The 1961 program is striking with its duotoned photo of Cheney Stadium and the night sky stripped to be black-only. I also always love when linework is designed to be two colors like this with the black drawing and orange accents on the uniforms .

Checking out the roster shows a lot of players who show up—briefly—on team sets in the 1960s (Ron Herbel, Georges Maranda, Julio Navarro, and Dom Zanni) as well as a few bigger names like Manny Mota, Dusty Rhodes, and Gaylord Perry.

Perry is the obvious star and I like how this photo is the same one Topps used on his 1962 Rookie Card. Also, seeing him as a member of the 1961 team makes me respect him even more for showing up to the 1963 team reunion. That’s a lot of time to be bouncing up and down between San Francisco and Tacoma.

Rhodes meanwhile is the veteran playing out his last years in the game. It’s clear that he would’ve been a great DH had he entered the game in the 1970s instead of the 1950s but instead he was a star pinch hitter who ended up finishing his career in the minors after he turned 30.

And for all of Manny Mota’s lengthy career I always forget that he came up and debuted with the Giants. I’m also not used to seeing photos of him so young.

The rest of the program is a wonderful example of two-color printing and period advertisements. The Pan American advertisement is especially nice from a printing point of view* and I like how the photo content is intentionally duotoned differently.

*Content has retro appeal but also makes me cringe as someone whose family comes from Hawaii.

I also like seeing little things like how much the ticket books cost, the organization of the Giants’ Minor League system, and Cheney Stadium’s ground rules.

The programs are 16-page self-covers with the innermost sheet being slightly-thicker, uncoated stock so as to incorporate the score card. One of the things that amazes me most when I see old programs and scorecards is the degree to which the printing changes day-to-day. As a child of the Xerography age, offset printing always carried with it a degree of permanence. Seeing how the game-day rosters are printed on the scorecard* will always sort of blow my mind.

*On other vintage scorecards people have posted on twitter, the starting lineups are sometimes printed.

That these programs also include a lucky number on the reverse of the scorecard shows that there’s two different runs of post-printing production going on. That plus the final stitching of everything together for each game is a lot of work for each game—or at least the first game of each series.

The scorecard shows that the Giants played the Padres (a White Sox affiliate at the time) in a game featuring only a handful of the players who didn’t make it to the majors. The Padres won 6–5 with the Giants blowing a 5–3 lead in the 8th inning.

I really like the back cover advertisement with its sketchy two-color illustration. I also completely misread the KTNT TV 11 line as KNTV 11 and found myself completely confused as to why a Bay Area TV station was broadcasting in the Seattle-Tacoma metro area.

On to 1962. The cover is not as exciting but it’s still a fun two-color illustration and I like the Attendance Leader trophy as a shout-out to the fans. The script “Giants” is also different than the San Francisco logo but looks close enough to be of the same family.

Gaylord Perry is still on the roster. And has the same photo as 1961. Same with Dusty Rhodes. New Giants I recognize from 1960s team sets include Dick LeMay and Jose Cardenal (who went on to bigger things on other teams).

More 1960s advertisements and design. The big restaurant ad is a fun snapshot of the era and they use the correct Giants font/logo on the team schedule box, roster box, and KTNT advertisement. I especially like the shirt design in that KTNT advert too. As in 1961 there’s a lucky number for, I’m assuming, between-innings giveaways or contests.

Scorecard this time is only complete through three innings. A different hand than the 1961 scorer and I can’t comment on the game besides noting that the Spokane Indians are a Dodgers affiliate.

I do particularly enjoy the Tacoma Stars in the Hall of Fame panel as well as the way the plaques have been turned printed in two colors so as to emphasize the player portraits.

All in all a great mailing which I thoroughly enjoyed going though. I’m sure I’ll find some more interesting things the next time I flip through these. Thanks Mark!

Mailday from Mark Hoyle

One of the things that a lot of guys my age on card twitter have been doing is pursuing their birth-year sets. There’s a bunch of things going on here. My generation of collectors having a midlife crisis of sorts and rediscovering cards is a large part of it. But that sets of the late-70s are the right mix of achievable yet challenging—not junk wax but not quite “vintage” either—also makes this sort of project very appealing. If you’re patient you can find bulk lots of hundreds of cards for ~$10. There aren’t any high numbers or short prints to deal with. There aren’t even that many expensive rookies.

And many of the previous generation of collectors often have a ton of duplicates still lying around. Mark Hoyle is one such collector. Mark’s a Red Sox/Boston guy who seems to have everything. Seriously. Every morning on Twitter he’s posting a photo of something I’ve never seen from before my parents were born. It’s a lot of fun to see and he’s been a great guy to chat with and learn about all kinds of products.

When Mark found my set needlist he realized he could fill a bunch of holes and late last week a bubble mailer arrived with a bunch of 1978 Topps cards inside.

Since most of my 1978 build has come via cheap commons lots* my set build has been pretty thin on star power. Mark included a very nice assortment of big-name cards in the set. The Nolan Ryan is probably the best of the bunch (I have very few card numbers ending in 0 let alone 00) but it’s always nice to see a stack of Hall of Famers.

*Though Matt Prigge did include a bunch in one of his mailings too.

I think this might also be my first vintage Thurman Munson and Jim Palmer cards too. Also, George Hendrick’s photo is at Candlestick. Just seeing that old press box in the background makes me smile.

I love the Bobby Bonds card here. The tight cropping is often a bad idea on baseball cards but it really works here. I also always like seeing Duane Kuiper in that caveman Indians uniform.

The Dave Kingman in its airbrushed glory always weirds me out. It’s not as bad as the Greg Minton but it sure is something. This is also my first checklist of the set—which kind of weirds me out since you’d think those would always end up in commons lots. Nice to see Rick Dempsey and Al Oliver. And the Roger Metzger photo was also taken at Candlestick.

All told a super batch of 1978s which took my set build past 60% and close to the ⅔ mark. Pretty soon I’m going to have to start searching for stars and rookies. But Mark did not stop there and included a couple extras.

In some ways these are best kind of extras in that they represent my first samples of sets. It’s one thing (and great fun) to build a set and approach a finish line of sorts which each new card. There’s a different kind of thrill when you encounter a set for the first time. You get to see what kind of cardboard it’s printed on, how it was printed, etc.

The two 1963 Fleers represent my first exposure to this set. I’ve been meaning to get some of these at some point so this surprise is very much appreciated. This is a good-looking set with photography that’s distinct from the usual Topps look and in many ways presages the speedlight-dominated look that Topps sort of abused in the mid-80s.

Anyway, seeing medium format fill flash work that results in a slightly-underexposed background is a look which pops pretty well and is perfectly served by the clean geometric design. The way Fleer moves the team/position line around so it fits in the space is less impressive however. And I like seeing photos of the Giants taken in the Polo Grounds. Even though it was the Mets’ stadium in the early 60s, it will always be the Giants’ ancestral home.

Mark also included a 1939 Billy Jurges Play Ball card. Play Ball is one of those sets/manufacturers which is completely off my radar. I grew up a Topps guy. I’m beginning to get to know Bowman now since for much of the 1950s it was the card of record along with Topps. I have only a cursory awareness of pre-war (really pre-1948) cards.

I’m aware of Play Ball as representing sort of the first modern baseball card. Real photography. Real information on the back. Roughly the same size and form factor of current-day cards. That it debuts in 1939 and doesn’t survive the war makes it an easy issue to forget.

All of which means that I’m very excited to see and have one of these now. It’s my oldest Giants card by a decade and one of only ~40 New York Giants cards in my collection.

Thanks Mark!

For the kids

The bubble mailer was not just for me though. Inside was a team bag of ~50 cards with a small note instructing me to give them to my sons. I went through and sorted everything by team so I could break up the giveaway into a couple sessions. It was a fun mix of cards with a few old ones (one 1973 Blue Moon Odom and a handful of early-90s junk wax) and a bunch of more-recent issues.

The first session involved just the Giants and A’s cards and the boys, despite getting 9 cards each (I put them all on the table and had them take turns picking) managed to use those to trigger a complete binder overhaul. The second session was the balance of ~30 cards (they cleaned the house before having their draft) and they were both very happy with their haul.

It’s fun to watch what they like. The youngest likes the shiny chrome stuff. The eldest likes vintage. They both like facsimile autographs. Neither of them is taken with the stickers. I was just impressed that they took turns and didn’t fight at all.