A couple PWEs

Catching up on a few small mailings I’ve received in the past couple weeks. I do try and blog everything but most PWEs work better in post with other PWEs.

First off, a Juan Marichal numbered parallel from Tim. Apparently someone had sent him this and since he doesn’t collect Giants cards, he figured it would be better of in my collection. This purple parallel is from 2020 Archives and is numbered 48/175. Since this is the kind of thing I don’t chase, it means there’s definitely a place for it in my collection.

I’m not a fan of colored border parallels unless they end u[ being team-color related. However, 2002’s base border color is so bad as it is that going purple is more of a lateral move. The 2002 design itself is strong but with the colored borders you lose track of how good it is.

Absolutely no complaints about that Marichal photo though.

Gio over at When Topps Had Balls is one of the best customs card guys on Twitter. He’s helped me with some photosourcing for my Stanford customs on a few guys from the 1970s who I was having problems finding photos for* and while I haven’t been able to really reciprocate material wise, I did mention something that turned out to be a great customs idea.

*Don Rose, Bob Gallagher, Bob Reece.

Gio’s collecting miscuts and I suggested online that I’d love to see a miscut card that functioned as a traded card. There are a lot of 1970s designs where this approach would work well with* and I could see the lightbulb go off and gears start turning over Twitter. This Nolan Ryan is the first of his miscuts series and it’s awesome. Looks exactly like I’d want it to look and it’s going to be great to see people’s heads explode when they see this.

*Primarily 1975 but 1972 and 1974 also have the right sort of design to be able to split the team name from the rest of the card.

Also, this post was embargoed until Gio gave the go-ahead since I didn’t want to scoop his own release. So all the other trades on here happened weeks ago. It was great to get in on the ground floor and talk to him about these. And I love that he had to triple check with his printer to confirm hat this was intentional.

Very cool stuff and my brain won’t stop thinking about other possibilities. Since I like the 1975 design for this, it’s fixating on Catfish Hunter, Bobby Bonds, and Bobby Murcer.

Thanks guys!

Christmas cards

Catching up on a few more PWEs which accompanied holiday wishes. It’s getting to the point where I’m considering making hobby-oriented holiday cards to send out to people I’ve traded with over the past year.

The first card came from Mark Armour and contained a 1977 Willie Mays exhibit. This is a nice reprint of the 1947–1966 era exhibit photo and even feels like it has better tonality than a lot of the vintage exhibits do. The border is kind of goofy though and the less said about the apostrophe catastrophe in the bio text the better. Still this is the kind of thing I enjoy adding to the album and it’ll slide in right next to a bunch of Jeff’s bycatch.

Mark also included a custom card of himself. This is also something I’ve thought about doing but have never gotten around to. A lot of traders have their own custom cards that they toss in like business cards and I enjoy keeping those around.

A few days later I found an envelope from Tim in my mailbox. Nothing big, just an insert from 2020 Opening Day which doubled the number of 2020 Opening Day cards in my collection. This is one of those products that I buy for my kids and stay out of for myself.

This isn’t a critique of the product. If anything it’s a critique of how flagship has effectively pushed my kids away. Neither of my kids wanted a complete set of flagship this year for Christmas. They’ve both realized it’s not the set for them. Too expensive and not really any fun.

A pack of flagship costs like $5 now and that’s a lot of money to pay for a bunch or guys they’ve never heard of. Opening Day at least is mostly players they know. And yes Major League Baseball does a lousy job marketing guys, but Topps also creates checklists that are dominated by rookie cards instead of guys who are actually playing.

So they’ve gravitated toward Opening Day and Big League and I let them enjoy those products. As a result, I don’t get much Opening Day so if it comes in via trade I’m happy to slide it into the binder.

A PWE from Lanny brought me a single 2002 Kenny Lofton card. This might not look like much (though it’s one of Lofton’s few Giants cards) but it’s actually part of Topps’s trainwreck of a Traded set where someone at Topps decided that intentionally shortprinting the first 100 cards was a smart idea.

It was not. I have heard of way too many people who swore off all Traded/Update sets for years just because the 2002 set was so bad. The shortprinted cards meanwhile are impossible to find yet no one actually wants to spend serious money for them.

A perfect storm of awfulness which I would avoid completely except that I wanted the complete 2002 team set for World Series reasons. This Lofton completes the set and I no longer have to think about 2002 Topps Traded ever again.

I also got an envelope from Jason with a couple Giants first basemen. A couple retired numbers even. No it’s not just two 1991 Will Clark cards, these were the packaging surrounding the card Jason intended to send me.

The two Will Clarks were sandwiching this beauty which is not only a great example of the National Chicle Diamond Stars artwork with its solid blocks of color and industrial backgrounds* but represents the first Giants retired number from before the modern era of baseball cards to enter my collection.

*It still doesn’t compare to the South African United Tobacco cards though. Also I remain confused by the scoreboard listing visitors underneath Giants.

One of my long-term collecting goals has been to try and get a card of each Giants retired number from their playing years. I have all the obvious ones who played during the years when Topps was the card of record. Irvin, Mays, Cepeda, McCovey, Marichal, Perry, Clark, and Bonds* all have multiple Topps cards as Giants to the point where I have multiple cards of all even players like Irvin who I never expected to own any cards of.

*Interesting to me to realize that all besides Bonds of those debuted in MLB with the Giants. And yes I’m going to be distinguishing between MLB and “major leagues” from now forward.

McGraw, Mathewson, Terry, Ott, and Hubbell though were always going to be tougher. Fewer cards in general, and the affordable ones are often super ugly in terms of design* or just through being well loved. The Diamond Stars cards of Terry, Ott, and Hubbell are some of the more-desirable options out there and I’m astounded at Jason’s generosity at sending me my first one form this set.

*/me waves at M. P & Company.

Thanks a lot guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed this holiday season and I hope next year brings better tidings all around.

Thanks USPS

So I moved a year and a half ago. Which means that among other things I had to set up mail forwarding and notified people of my address change. Still I expected some people to send things to my old address. I did not however expect USPS to lose packages for months though.

But that’s exactly what happened. Last April, Matt Prigge sent me a package and it never got forwarded to my current address. I drove over to my old address mid-summer, swung through the garage, and saw that my old mailbox had been taped shut with forwarding information stickered to it. So I figured it would come eventually.

No dice.

Then last month a couple other people sent us packages addressed to the old address. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to swing by again. Mail forwarding had expired but according to our old neighbors no one had moved into the apartment yet. So I drive by and found a ton of mail in the mailbox including the packagaes that had been misaddressed last month, a plain white envelope that I wasn’t expecting to find there, and buried at the bottom of the mailbox, Matt’s package from April.

Yeah. Instead of forwarding it apparently USPS saved it for when forwarding expires and then redelivered it to my old address. Oh well. Better late than never. Let’s take a look.

Matt’s package was mostly modern cards but there were these two 1972s in the pile. There are a lot of Giants whose cards look exactly like Carrithers’s (a card I’ve gotten signed) but the Jerry Johnson is a fun stadium photo which stands out in the team set. I’m slowly working through the giants on this set but the high numbers are killing me. No idea how people do a complete set of these.

Moving more recently, a team set if 1987 Topps Traded is very nice and a bunch of 1995 Upper Deck SP is kind of amazing in that it’s only a year after I stopped collecting cards but looks completely different than anything I remember collecting. Also the Bond diecut is pretty fun.

I’m going to assume that this 1993 Matt Williams is a TTM request. Williams was a decent signer for a while but I never sent to him since he moved to Korea before I was ready to do so. I did get his autograph back in 1989 but it’s nice to have a signed card from his years as a genuine star of the team as well.

1997 Fleer and 1999 Pacific Omega make for an interesting pair. Fleer on its uncoated paper stock is always a nice change of pace while Pacific is always doing something crazy. I  this case Pacific has applied a halftone texture to the foil stamping which duplicates the portrait image on the card.  It’s a super-coarse screen but it’s an interesting effect despite all the loss of detail.

The other two cards here are a 2011 Topps Lineage 1975 mini parallel and a god only knows what Topps was intending red parallel form 2011 Heritage Minor League. The 75 mini works better than the “Venezuelan” in that it’s actually a mini and uses the 1975 design. Topps’s common backs for these meant that the spanish-language back is underwhelming.

Last batch of cards in the package were these modern ones which as usual includes a lot of cards from sets I never buy. Very cool Matt. I’m glad this turned up even if it was over five months late.

Also stuffed into my old mailbox was a package from Tim Jenkins. I’m still meting out cards from his last box to the boys but this package was aimed more at my interests.

We’ll start off with the heavy hitter. Topps was “nice” and made Willie Mays a high number in both 1970 and 1971. This took what I thought would be more easily-attainable Mays cards and turned them into trouble. Mays is of course always hard but adding high numbers into the mix is insult upon injury.

Tim had this lower-grade sample sitting in a display case and generously offered to send it to me.* I was a bit sad when the package seemed to go missing and was very happy when I found it again.

*I will always be happy to receive a lower grade Willie Mays card.

Much to my surprise there were other cards inside. Two Globe Imports cards are indeed as bad as advertised. Nice to have a couple samples. I have no desire to add more. Three Laughlin cards included my first black back though are very cool. I haven’t been actively looking for these but now I’m thinking I should at least get the Giants cards.

This Ron Hunt confused me because I had no idea what it was from. I’ve since found out that it’s from the 1969 Milton Bradley baseball game. Twitter to the rescue. And yes it’s a shame that there’s no hit by pitch option on his results since that was Hunt’s core competency.

A handful of 1975 Minis are always welcome. I’m not seeking these out either but I kind of love them. I also love all the pocket schedules. Between these, the ones, Cliff sent, and my own from my childhood, I now have schedules from 1978 to 1993 except for 1981.

I didn’t collect these as a kid as much as just accumulated them but I’ve fond myself really enjoying them since they include a lot of other great information such as ticket prices and promotions which is hard to find online.

And lastly Tim included a Supreme Court Sluggers card of Arthur Goldberg and Marvin Miller, a commemorative pin for Barry Bonds’s 600th homer run, and a 1979 Baseball Digest featuring Jack Clark on the cover. I think I like the Supreme Court Sluggers card most for its weirdness but the Baseball Digest reminded me of how that was the first sports magazine I ever had a subscription to.

I no longer have my copies so I don’t remember exactly when I had a subscription. But that was a fun magazine to get and read and flipping through this copy brought back a lot of memories. Things don’t seem to have changed much by the time I was a kid in the late 1980s. The next decade though is nearly unrecognizable. Thanks Tim for the trip down memory lane.

And finally there was a plain white envelope from a different Tim. Nothing super fancy but this Buster Posey National Baseball Day card is a nice addition. I only got one pack this year and yeah, Posey was not among my cards.

Last National Baseball Card Day in general was a bit of a disappointment. The “local” shops aren’t as nice as the ones in the Bay Area and one didn’t even have any inventory due to the storm.

It  wasn’t just that we weren’t able to get a bunch of packs, there was nothing for the kids to buy. For a promotion which is designed to get kids into card shops, Topps did a piss poor job coordinating its product release schedule to be kid friendly. The only stuff for sale were packs of Chrome starting at $10 for a pack of four cards. Major fail.

Anyway, thanks (other) Tim! Hopefully everyone has updated their address books now.

PWE from Tim

Late last week a small envelope from Tim showed up in my mailbox. Inside was this Bill Laskey autograph that he’d gotten in-person 35 years ago. Laskey had a great 1982 rookie season and followed that up with a couple decent years before being traded to Montreal in 1985. This means he’s not one of the guys I know much about although the fact that he started the Joe Morgan game in 1982 is registered in my brain for some reason.

This is one of those small mailings that means a lot to me because as an autograph collector I know that in-person signatures have more meaning than just the signature. I have plenty of signatures that don’t “fit” my collection but they’re all meaningful to me still since they’re things to pin my memories to.

My foray into 50/50s this past season has meant that I’ve reevaluated my feelings about this a little. The fact that I’m blogging and can point to the whole experience of the hunt means that each individual signature is just part of the memory instead of the main event. For my kids though each card is everything and even though I suspect Tim was around 16 when he got this means it was probably still a big deal at the time.

I totally get the idea of winnowing down the stuff I have and focusing my collection, it’s just that when I do so in-person autographs will be the last to go. So yeah I’m kind of honored that Tim’s entrusted me with a bit of his youth. It’s now in the binder next to Champ Summers and Manny Trillo where it belongs.

Trade wrap-ups

Despite moving the maildays never let up and I received a few trade packages while my computer was offline and internet unplugged. Now that I’m back on the web I can get a proper response post up.

The first mailday was a plain white envelope from Tim. Nice timing. He pulled a Giants Heritage short print* that I needed. I randomly came across a numbered parallel in Big League. So we did a basic one for one swap and both have cards we much prefer now. Easy cheesy.

*Lord do I hate the fact that Crawford and Posey are by-design shortprints in Heritage.

The blue sky on the Crawford card is a bit closer to the 1970 photography look than a lot of the other cards this year. Not as much the pose. Definitely not the clean background without any random dudes just hanging out. But it’s nice when a Heritage card also has photography that evokes the era of the card as well.

Thanks Tim! If I continue to come across A’s I’ll let you know.

The second mailday was a plain white envelope of the exact opposite kind of cards from Lanny. Lanny’s a White Sox guy whose collecting interests are in a different league from mine. Where I’m looking for beat-up Giants cards and have given up all hope of getting Willie Mays or the high-numbered short prints, Lanny’s building complete sets from the 1950s and 1960s, has most of the big-value cards already, and is doing it in super-nice quality. His tweets where he shows the extra-crispy vintage he just acquired are awe-inspiring.

Anyway, one of the sets he’s building is 1954 and he came across a lot of cards which included some off-condition duplicates. He offered to send them to me and I happily accepted. No idea what I’ll send back since I don’t collect anything in the condition he likes but I’ll figure something out.

The envelope had three cards in it. The first is this Johny Antonelli with its hilariously painted New York logo where Topps didn’t even bother to change the Braves colors on the cap. The black and white cap logo is also awful. I very much like the 1954 design even though the back inconsistency drives me nuts. I just wish the Giants cards included background colors besides white and yellow. 1954 is a beautifully colored set but I have no examples of that in my binder.

The second card is Ruben Gomez. While he’s not a star, I’d heard of him as a kid because he featured in the Baseball Hall of Shame for running away from a player charging the mound. A shame since he also won the first Major League game played on the West Coast.

And the last card is this beauty of Monte Irvin. Even though it’s beat up, off center, and printed out of register it’s still a good looking card. Not just because it’s a Hall of Famer and makes a great addition to his 1955 card, I just really like the photos.

This takes me to nine 1954 Giants in the binder now. That’s nine more 1954 Giants cards than I ever expected to own. Very cool. Thanks Lanny!

What would you think if I sang out of tune?

A short post of a couple plain white envelope arrivals. There’s nothing Card Twitter likes more than filling those last couple holes in a checklist. It happened with my 1986 Topps set build and it’s happening again with my 1978 Topps set build.

The first one came from Pete Scribner (@ScribSports), a Cardinals fan who blogs over at polyturf.blogspot.com and who just finished his 1978 Topps set a couple weeks ago with a nice Mike Schmidt. We’ve been watching each other build this set* and when I got to only 10 left Pete offered to send me the Gary Carter I was missing.

*A few cheap Ebay lots got me halfway there before I received help from Matt Prigge, Mark Hoyle, Tim Jenkins, Shane Katz, Tim/MaxxPower68, and Mark Armour while I picked off star players here and there when they came up cheap.

It’s funny. When I started building this set it wasn’t one I was particularly enamored with. I felt the design was a bit boring and generic and a a result it just didn’t move me. The Giants cards with that Greg Minton didn’t help much either. As I’ve been building it though my opinion has completely shifted. I love the photo-centric design and custom lettering for the team name. The manager cards are one of the best things Topps has ever made. And many of the photos themselves are kind of wonderful.

Better-cropped action than the earlier 1970s sets. A lot of nice casual images such as the one on this Carter. There’s even a low-contrast feel which keeps a lot of detail in the shadows. The only thing I don’t like is that position indicator.*

*The All Star shield on the other hand is wonderful.

A couple days later another 1978 showed up in my mailbox. This time it was from Tim. There are three Reggies in this set. I was missing two. Now I’m only missing the best one. Though this World Series highlight is pretty cool as it suggests that Reggie’s too big to be contained in the frame.

And with that I’m down to missing only eight cards in my set build:

36 Eddie Murray
100 George Brett
200 Reggie Jackson
222 Jerry Martin
360 Mike Schmidt
704 Garth Iorg / Dave Oliver / Sam Perlozzo / Lou Whitaker
707 Mickey Klutts / Paul Molitor / Alan Trammell / U.L. Washington
708 Bo Diaz / Dale Murphy / Lance Parrish / Ernie Whitt

Seven of these are exactly what I’d expect to be missing at the end. The best rookie in the set. Three of the biggest stars in the game including one which is on the shortlist for best card of the 1970s.* Two rookie cards of guys many people think should be in the Hall of Fame.** And one rookie card featuring two Hall of Famers. The eighth card is Jerry Martin who wins the “last common remaining” award.

*The Reggie Jackson is a fantastic photo.

**Yeah I know the Dale Murphy isn’t really a rookie card since he’s also on a multiplayer rookie in the 1977 set.

Anyway I fully expect Eddie Murray to be the last card I acquire for this set just like he was for 1986 Topps. I also do not at all expect to get that as a PWE mailing.

Thanks Pete and Tim! It’s fun to get so 20% closer to the finish line.

A 4-month trade

Way back in early June, Tim (@MaxxxPower68) caught wind of my 1978 set build attempt and offered a trade of ~165 cards from that set in exchange for 1960s/70s stars as well as more-recent A’s cards. Needless to say, I was interested. Unfortunately I was 3000 miles away from my cards at the time and had to wait until September before I could make a proper inventory and see what I could offer in response. He was patient enough to set the pile aside and wait until then.

Once September came we had a bit of back and forth as I tried to find enough stuff to make the trade equitable. I tend to be extremely focused in what I acquire and, as a result, don’t have a lot of extras lying around. But I had a some vintage that Tim needed as well as a bunch of more-recent inserts and parallels that fit his son’s collection and we were able to reach an agreement. So I sent them off in late October and received a box of cards just before Halloween.

It was great. Too many cards to show all of them but this batch took my set from 67% to 89% complete and leaves me at a point where I really just need to concentrate on the big-name cards. I’d normally take photos of completed pages but there are so many of them that I can’t do so.

Going through the stack reveals a lot of things that make me smile. It’s nice to complete the Record Breaker subset. I’m always happy to get a Rick Reuschel card. The Jose Cardenal photo is fantastic. Chris Speier is always a favorite. So is Luis Tiant. I love that first Mariners team photo in front of the Kingdome. Julio Cruz’s photo is great. And it’s always nice to see playing-day photos of guys who I’m familiar with as managers.

I especially love the Managers subset this year and how those cards feature a then and now photo of each manager. It’s not a design I’d want to see every year but I wish it would make an appearance more often than once in Topps’s entire history (though heck I’d just like to see Manager cards come back).

As a Giants fan, all the photos taken at Candlestick are just wonderful. That pre-Jumbotron scoreboard with the Marlboro advertisement reminds me of my first seasons as a fan. So does, unfortunately, the empty outfield upper deck which was only ever full on Opening Day or Fan Appreciation Day. That chain link fence through which you can see the  structure of the unused football stands (that the Gossage card with its well-done (for a change) airbrushing is so clearly taken at Candlestick just adds to its charm). The giant press box on the third base side. I just wish that it wasn’t still artificial turf.

Tim also included all the checklists that I needed. This is very much appreciated. I hate the idea of explicitly trying to acquire checklists even though they’re an important part of the set. The 1978 checklists are kind of weird in how the card numbering appears to be an afterthought with a circle placed wherever it fits on the back. A shame since the rest of the set gets a lot of the small details so so right.

Thanks so much Tim. I’m glad we were able to get this trade to work and I’m very happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this 1978 build now.