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.