Vacation PWEs

While I was on vacation, in addition to the sixteen TTM returns I was also pleasantly surprised to find a handful of PWE trade packages waiting for me as well. Always nice when it’s not just bills and junk mail waiting.

The first package is from Greg/Night Owl and includes a page’s worth of fun. I missed out on his giveaway* and apparently these are the only remaining 1985 Fleers he had to get rid of. I’ll gladly take them though and remind myself to put a need list together.**

*Relying on an RSS reader means I miss out on any timed contests.

**Though I also don’t have enough cards to feel like a needlist is necessary yet. Who puts a set needlist up with over 600 cards?

The two 2009 O Pee Chee black borders are great. The more I look at the last 25 years of baseball cards the more sets like this one stand out for being distinct in both feeling like a traditional set while also not directly copying an old design. It would’ve been nice to see what Upper Deck did with this brand had Topps not grabbed an exclusive license in 2010.

Not much to say about the rest of the cards though I do appreciate the 2022 2021 Big League Crawford since I’m not hitting that set hard at all. Also I’m super curious how Greg, as a Dodgers fan who doesn’t go for all the fancy shmancy new stuff, ended up with a 2019 Montgomery Club Giants team card.

A PWE from Jeff Katz almost works as a TTM return. Years ago I was playing around with photoshop and throwing together some Ginter-like cards. Jeff was one of the first I ran through the Ginterizer since his moment wearing the Mayor Quimby sash for the Simpsons day was brilliant. Yeah I couldn’t get all of “Mayor” to fit without making Jeff look like Kingpin.

When Marc printed these all up he sent them to everyone. I got my copies but when Jeff got his I asked for a signed one. He signed small so it would fit on the paper. I’m curious how a silver sharpie would’ve worked instead but not everyone has those lying around.

Another PWE had two packs of John Racanelli’s Literal Cards. This has been an ongoing thing on Twitter where John posts often awful but also often hilarious tweaks on existing cards. I never expected him to actually produce these but I’m glad he did.

There’s something about making them real cards that takes the joke to the next level. My kids also enjoyed them—especially Les Rohr and Willie Mays—which surprised me a little because they always groan when I make these kinds of jokes.

And finally a mini-zapping from Kenny who came into a nice lot of Card Gens and generously decided to spread the wealth. These are always welcome in part because it gives me an excuse to link to Kenny’s You Tube video again but because the actual use of these cards is so far outside how we’ve thought of using cards in the US.

The few Card Gens I have have all come from Kenny and to-date, have been from the 2010 set. This is the first 2012 I have and the fact that it’s a Giant is even cooler. I still hold out hope that I’ll run into the 2012 Sam Fuld on of these days since it’s the only card he got that year.

Very cool guys and thanks for livening up my post-vacation mail pile.

PWE from Night Owl

A short post about a PWE from Greg/Night Owl. Thanks to his previous mailing I added Shawn Green’s Topps run to my Stanford search list. This apparently inspired Greg to go through his extra Greens and see if he had any of the Topps run since the first mailing had none.

Not a huge success as he was only able to find the 2005 card but I’ll take it. Will make a nice pair with the 2005 Opening Day that’s already in the binder. The more I look at the 2005 design the more I like it. It’s never going to be a favorite but it’s a basic competent design* with a nice splash of team color on the borders.

*My biggest problem are the cards which replace the player name with DRAFT PICK or PROSPECT without changing enough of the rest of the design.

Greg also included this 2021 Archives Will Clark which I’m sure he was thrilled to get out of his house. Since Clark’s last season was 2001 this almost works as a career capper card. Nice to see him in a Giants uniform though. The Cardinals one looks so wrong. I’m not sure how Topps chooses which vintage logo to use for these though since the 1980s primary logo that shows up on all the 1980s cards makes a lot more sense than the cap logo which Topps selected.

Anyway. I’m happy to slot in another Green card into the Stanford album and I’m happy to add some Archives since I don’t buy that product. Thanks Greg!

A pile from Night Owl

Way back in November, Greg/Night Owl made a plea for people to take a bunch of extra Dodgers cards off his hands. While his request was intended for other Dodgers collectors, I figured it was a sign that I should take the plunge into collecting Shawn Green so I commented hat if he felt like dumping a bunch of Shawn Green on me I’d be happy to take them.

The madness of the holiday season means that sending mailings out like this gets backburnered until the week after Christmas. Sure enough, I found a bubble mailer in my mailbox on New Year’s Eve and inside was the stack of Shawn Green cards and an almost-threatening note.

I appreciate that Greg kept things in check. Where the other Stanford guys who didn’t play baseball for Stanford tend to not have many of cards at all, Green has a ton.* As I said way back when I first added him to the binder, I don’t want to supercollect him. But I won’t turn down a big stack and as a legitimate star/semi-star he does show up in a lot of sets which I’ve not included in the binder.

*Checking Trading Card Database. Bill Wakefield has 14, Bobby Brown has 34, Kenny Williams has 62, and Shawn Green has 4,445.

Anyway, to the pile. Since Greg is a Dodgers fan it only covers 2000–2005 when Green was getting Dodgers cards. He did however do a nice job in giving me a few cards from each year.

Starting off in 2000. I’m glad there’s one card depicting Green as a Blue Jay here. I have Giants cards from most of these sets but I’m pretty sure none of them are represented in my Stanford Album. I’ve tended to focus on either the base flagship sets or oddballs in that album. This is partly for simplicity’s sake and partly because I can’t be bothered to learn about the thousands of sets released in the 1990s and 2000s

This group of six kind makes that point since not only are none of them are from base flagship sets, they’re all from releases that only lasted a couple years. In many ways I love how much the hobby was trying things out. In other ways it’s a clear sign that everything was out of control.

To the 2001. Same story as with the 2000s except that I need to point out that my Stadium Club coverage of these years in all albums is thin to none. Greg included Stadium Club cards for 2000–2003 and they were my first representatives of those sets in any of my collections. I should probably rectify that for other Stanford guys as well as the Giants. Anyway this 2001 Stadium Club card is an especially nice image of Pac Bell Park in its first year.

The two Topps HD cards intrigue me. I don’t quite understand what makes this set HD since nothing besides the card thickness really jumps out to me as being different. I also don’t really understand what was going on with Topps Fusion. Both of those sets appear to be single-year experiments though so it’s nice to have a couple samples.

2002 has probably the most interesting mix of cards. Traditional photography like Stadium Club. Crazy chromed out stuff in Finest. Retro “painting” on the Topps 206. Acetate/clear stock on the E-X.

The Bats Incredible card is the one that catches my eye though. It kind of looks like an insert and it kind of looks a base card from a set that was designed to have a relic or signature in the top right corner on the hits. Definitely another one-year-wonder of a release but I can’t help but wonder how and why it was released.

This image covers both 2003 and 2004. Not a ton to say about these except that I love the 2003 Playoff Portraits card. As leery as I am about most of the fake paintings that end up on cards, the way this set is actually textured really enhances the painting feel. I’m pretty sure this was around for only one year which is a shame since it would’ve been nice to collect a couple seasons of these.

The Bowman Heritage in the 1955 design meanwhile shows the kind of thing that I dislike about so many of the Heritage cards. 1955 Bowman, despite the color TVs dominating the design, has a really distinct photographic look. An extreme crop from a generic action image like this doesn’t quite measure up and demonstrates a certain lack of understanding about what makes sets memorable.

Finishing up with the 2005s. Where the Playoff Portraits is great, the Diamond Kings is mess. It’s worth pointing out here that this is the only year with anything approaching the standard base cards. These are the only base Donruss and Fleer in the pile and the Opening Day is basically identical* to the Flagship card.

*And arguably an improvement with the blue foil on the Dodgers card.

Having the Opening Day card inspired me to add Green’s Topps Flagship run to my Stanford wantlist page.* I’ll probably take a gander at Sportlots or Cardbarrel at some point. No real rush though especially with so many Green cards in the Binder now.

*As well as Bobby Brown’s Bowman run.

Thanks Greg! I’m glad I could help with your duplicates problem.

PWE from Night Owl

Late last week I received a small mailing from Greg at Night Owl Cards who took the opportunity to rid himself of some pesky Giants.

The first two cards were from 2021 Stadium Club. The Chrome version of the Joey Bart is nice but also completely unnecessary. Stadium Club is all about the base cards and photography and I don’t see the point of all the parallels. Still, as someone who’s not seeing much of any Stadium Club this year it’s nice to add some to the binder.

The Will Clark reprint is similarly “why bother” but will work as a SABR post because of how interesting it is to me as a print nerd. It’s a reprint but it’s also a recreation of the original in that it’s being completely rescreened and there’s a lot more detail visible in the shadows.

The other two cards in the envelope where older. One, a chrome 2020 Bowman Buster Posey is only the second 2020 Bowman, and the first Chrome, in my collection. As always, it’s nice to add an example to the binder. I kind of like this Bowman design though the crazy Chrome border background is a bit much.

The second card is a 2011 Brandon Belt Minor League card. No idea how Greg acquired this one but these are things I neither seek nor come across randomly. Which means that it’s a very nice thing to add to the binder since there’s no way I had it already.

Thanks Greg!

PME from Night Owl

What’s better than a PWE? How about a PME. Last week instead of a plain white envelope I found a plain manilla envelope from Greg/Night Owl. Distinct from a bubble mailer which is a package of regular cards, a manilla envelope comes in as a flat of a handful of oversized cards.

As much as I like cards the weird oversize stuff is much more exciting. This time it was another batch of Jay Publishing cards. Not as many as November but just as enjoyable.

Jack Sanford and Mike McCormick both appear to be from 1960. Sanford shows the Phoenix Spring Training stadium stands in a nice action shot from the mound. Clearly not a game since the cameraman is standing on the field to take this (there’s also a screen in front of first base peeking in just a little on the left edge) but Sanford is actually throwing the ball here.

McCormick’s photo is from an overhead angle which I’m not used to seeing on pitcher photos. I kind of dig it though since it’s so well cropped with his right foot in one corner and his left hand in another.

Don Blasingame and Stu Miller are both from 1961. I kind of love the Blasingame photo with the ball coming right at the camera lens. It’s not quite as cool as his bunting in-action Jay Publishing from 1960 but it’s still very cool. The low angle is great and the deep focus showing off the outfield wall details while not detracting from the player is fantastic.

The Miller meanwhile is just a solid headshot with good use of flash and a dark background. Palm trees still say Spring Training but the geometry of the outfield wall is super interesting.

Al Dark is from 1961. Felipe Alou is from 1963. The Dark is a similar kind of shot to the Miller but the background isn’t as nicely handled and the light isn’t as nicely balanced. Is good to have a manager card though since most of the Jay Publishing photos I’ve gotten are common players.

The Alou meanwhile is an image that got used repeatedly as the hat logo got blacked out for his Braves cards. It’s not as nice as the earlier Jay Publishing cards—I much prefer the action shots and portraits that show the uniform details—but it’s still a nice striking image of Felipe.

Greg also included a handful of cards in the envelope. The two older cards are a 1970 Mike McCormick and a 1990 Will Clark. The McCormick is in good shape and will go on the pile of cards for the boys. The Clark Mothers Cookies is one where I’m wondering how it made its way to Greg out by Buffalo. It’s one of my favorite sets and takes me back to my childhood in the Bay Area and trying to convince my mom to get a bag of iced animal crackers (or really anything else Mothers made too).

Two minis. One from 2011 and 2012. The 2011 Mel Ott is kind of wonderful. I didn’t know Topps had this in them. It’s printed using an FM screen which is a much better method of emulating the old Ben Day stipple effects. The Vogelsong meanwhile is traditional screening and is saved by the spot gold ink used for the border.

I don’t seek minis out but I very much enjoy adding them to the binder. I’ve only got a page and a half worth so far but they do look great in 20-pocket pages.

And finally two more-modern cards. I don’t know what to call this 2011 Barry Zito effect. Not my kind of thing but I do find myself appreciating the way the spot white ink effect (I think) works in making the player image pop. The Willie Mays is an insert from this year which I’m passively building. This is another one I need—I’m at 7 out of 20 now—and it’ll be nice to complete a page soon. This one is especially nice with the Seals Stadium background and the awesome Hamm’s Brewery sign.

Two more thoughts on the Mays. This is clearly colorized from a black and white photo and I can’t help but notice that Topps didn’t include the red rails on the box seats. Also, regarding the Hamm’s sign, I’m surprised that Topps included a beer advertisement but maybe they colored the beer red instead of yellow to disguise what the beverage was.

Anyway very cool Greg. Thanks!

Jay’s Housewarming

Last week I came back from picking the kids up at school to find a bubble mailer from Greg/Night Owl waiting in my mailbox. This time he’d addressed it to my new address. It felt “off” when I picked it up. I’ve gotten enough of these now that I know what cards usually feel like. This one was different, sort of more dense and rigid and I was more curious than usual to open it.

Inside I found a stack of over a dozen Jay Publishing photopack cards. I’ve picked up a couple of these over the years but to-date they’re tended to be outside my collecting radar. When Greg received a huge batch of them earlier this year I began to realize that I’d been ignoring some good stuff.

As someone who got back into baseball cards because of photography reasons, these team photopacks are especially relevant because they represent a different branch of the image sharing/collecting culture that started in the 19th century. They’re basic halftone prints but they represent another way that photos circulated.

Unlike cards—whose size and thickness encourages handling—the photo packs are paper and are clearly meant to be put on display or pasted into an album. The ones I received from Greg are all in petty good shape and don’t have any pinholes or tape residue.

Jay Publishing printed these team packs for about a decade. They all look mostly the same with a large black and white photo over the player’s name, city, and team. In 1962 the font changed from san-serif to serif but other than that the only clues for dates are knowledge of the roster and the team uniforms.

Thankfully, Trading Card Database has photos of all the different Giants photo packs so I was able to determine that my stack was a combination of 1961 and 1963 photo packs.

Eight of the photos are from 1961. There are two doubles. That photos are often reused year-to-year makes determining if things are truly doubles kind of difficult. The ones here though do in fact appear to be identical in terms of the photo cropping but from different print runs.

In this batch I particularly like the Sam Jones photo which shows off the spring training facilities and the Bob Schmidt which is just a great image with the mask flying out one corner and his shadow anchoring another. The other four images aren’t bad either.

Of the six missing images it’s no surprise that Mays, Marichal, and Cepeda are among them. The thing I’m most confused by is how McCovey didn’t make the checklist and how Bob Schmidt, who only played two games for the Giants in 1961, did.

The 1963 photos to my eye aren’t quite as nice. Sanford is a bit blurry, O’Dell and Pagan are awkwardly cropped. Hiller’s a decent baseball pose though and Pierce is similarly strong. Haller’s meanwhile isn’t a bad image either but the crotch-eye view is a bit weird for me.

It’s kind of amazing to  compare Pierce and O’Dell though since they’re identically composed and timed but one is great and the other not. The difference in angle makes so much of a difference here.

From these six I’m missing Mays, McCovey and Cepeda this time (Felipe Alou and Al Dark are also missing from both 1961 and 1963). Again, not a surprise since those will be of interest to a much wider audience while  the rest of the players resonate only for Giants fans.

Greg also took the opportunity to clear out a dozen unwanted Giants cards. We’ll start off with a handful of older cards. Many of these I have so they’ll go to the boys. The 1984 Jeffrey Leonard though is new to me and doubles my 1984 Fleer Giants holdings. Yeah. Even though these all come from the overproduction era and represent sets my kids still pull from repacks I only have two 1984 Fleer Giants.

Some newer Giants cards. That Bumgarner All Star is one of the last cards Topps made of him. It’s nice to add it to the binder. The Stadium Club Hunter Pence is also quite welcome since I somehow only had the gold and black foil versions. And that Bergen/Coonrod Rookie Combo card confuses me since Bergen also has his own card in that set.

The last four cards are Archives cards using the 1975 design that Greg loves so much. As a non-collector of Archives I always appreciate getting these in the mail. I like seeing how Topps remakes its old designs even though it typically screws things up in an uncanny valley way.

These aren’t too bad: Team name is a bit small. Autographs are super bold. Colors are slightly off. But all in all they feel about right, especially when I see a group like this where every card is a different color combination.

Super cool Greg. Thanks!

Housewarming from Night Owl

So the first mailday after moving arrived earlier this week. Unfortunately it went to the wrong house but we’re still swinging by to pick up things there.* Still. Very cool. Nothing like properly settling into a new home by getting cards in the mail.

*Such as an Amazon package we sent there because we’d forgotten to change our address on Amazon.

This package came from Greg/Night Owl who’s apparently got the hot hand when it comes to pulling Will Clark cards and wants those out of his house ASAP. But he also included a bunch of other cool things and yeah let’s start from the oldest (and best) and work forward in time.

This 1956 Al Dark is a beaut despite being beat up. Lots of small creases and things but none of them detract from the way the card looks for me. 1956 is one of Topps’s top three designs ever and every single card from that set I add to my binders makes things look better.

Dark also marks the last “easy” 1956 card on my searchlist. I’m now down to three missing cards for my team set: Willie Mays (hahahaha), Hoyt Wilhelm (could happen but Hall of Famers are Hall of Famers), and the Giants team card (I guess kids used to throw those out or something since they all seem to be scarce now).

Some more vintage including two guys who I’ve gotten TTM returns from recently. I got both Marshall and Hiatt on 1970 Topps cards already. I’m kind of tempted to send the 1969 to Marshall as well since he’s got a good-looking signature and that Rookie Cup makes for a good-looking card.

Joe Gibbon meanwhile just passed away in February. He’s pictured here on his last Giants card. He’d had a decent few years as a reliever but in 1969 returned to Pittsburgh.

To a couple cards from my collecting youth. It’s always nice to be reminded of the original San Jose Giants uniforms—especially the cap logo. I prefer the current version but these 1989 Star cards depict the first season San Jose was a Giants affiliate and that was a lot of fun to get in on the ground floor for. I can’t believe they’ve been there for 30 years now.

And the Will Clark Collect-A-Book is one of my favorite oddballs. I have the set of these but it’s great to have an extra to put in the Giants binder. I’ll probably binder it in a 4-pocket page too so that I can see more of the booklet.

To cards from this year! Two Opening Day cards. As a set which I don’t collect and refuse to purchase I very much appreciate getting singles in trade packages. I still don’t understand the purpose of this product unless it’s intended to undercut Flagship sales. If I were King of Topps this would one of the first things I’d chop.

And two Big League cards. I like this product. Am not particularly sold on the design. Pennant is nice. Woodgrain is always a good look—especially when it looks like an ash baseball bat rather than a 1970s TV. But the name has a lot going on (thankfully not the team name/city) and the layered photos where the image tiles from the top photo to the one underneath is a bit much.

Still, despite all my reservations, I like these as a reminder of how collecting used to be when I was a kid. You’d just get packs full of base cards and not worry about all the lottery ticket BS that comes with packs now. Lots of cards in a park. Lots of cards in a set. Lots of fun over all.

Finally, a Will Clark insert from god knows what product and a Buster Posey insert from Heritage. Both of these are great for trade packages if you can get them to team collectors but I can’t imagine anyone collecting a set of them. I like these cards. I also know why Greg got them out of his house.

Thanks Greg! I’v been putting lots of stuff away the past couple weeks. It’s about time to get a chance to relax when I do it.

Happy New Year from Night Owl

A surprise PWE from Greg/@nightowlcards to ring in the beginning of Spring Training—or as we call it in baseball land, the New Year. Definitely well timed. Last weekend I walked past the ballpark on campus and heard the team taking batting practice. That ping of aluminum on leather is supposed to be anathema to everything I believe in in the sport but wow, it reaches deep into my soul and makes my heart believe it’s spring.

Then I took my eldest to his Little League evaluations and came home to find that KNBR was streaming the radio broadcast of the first Giants Spring Training game (unfortunately the Giants picked up where they left off last season). The sound of summer filled the house and it didn’t matter that it was freezing outside.


To the cards. Really just a random assortment of Giants that Greg, as a Dodgers fan, wanted out of his house as quickly as possible. The 1970 Jack Hiatt gets me in the mood for 2019 Heritage although I doubt we’ll see any photos that have this busy of a background this year.

The 1981 TCMA Jose Pagan is part of a set commemorating the 1962 Giants. It’s a nice clean design—better than a lot of TCMA’s 80s offerings and makes the most of its black and white photo with just a splash of color in the team-colored border. I need to remember that this kind of thing works so well.

It took me a moment to realize that that 2018 Buster Posey was not a base card. I didn’t notice the non-foil logo at first and if my son hadn’t pulled a National League Team Set card out of a repack last week I would never have even thought to double check it. Yup. Looks like Greg pulled a National League card out of a repack as well. Into the binder it goes instead of the dupe box.

Fourth card in the envelope was a certified autograph of Brian Buscher from 2003 Upper Deck Prospects. Yet another Fairfield repack quality autograph, this time a guy who played for three seasons with the Twins but who I did probably see play at San José in 2003. If only the prospect signatures I got at San José actually panned out as well as he did.

Very fun Greg. Opening Day is a month away!

Reminiscence Bump

One of Night Owl’s recent posts involved memory and baseball cards as he grappled with his mother showing the first signs dementia (or worse)* and how things like music and baseball cards can trigger memories from decades ago.

*A story which reminded me of my grandmother who succumbed to dementia in the late 1990s (well she died in the early 2000s but by then there was no one home). As she regressed further into her past we’d still make small talk when we visited just to try and keep her brain working. One fall day we mentioned the upcoming World Series and jokingly asked her if she’d followed who was in the Series that year. She screwed up her face and guessed, “Yankees?” Which was both correct for the season as well as an accurate representation of where her reminiscence bump would fall.

It’s a wonderfully thoughtful and vulnerable post since it’s always awful to see someone going through the experience of slowly losing a loved one. It’s also a post which suggested that we could all think about our cards and our memory and how specific cards bring us back to specific moments in our youth.

This is the virtual card version of that scene in High Fidelity when John Cusack reorganizes his record collection autobiographically. One card per year of my collecting lifetime. With my memories of that year and the card attached.


I wasn’t into cards yet. Heck I wasn’t even in Little League. My parents didn’t want anything to do with the overly-involved Little League parents and wanted me to be running around instead. So soccer it was and besides kind of wanting to be in Little League with my friends baseball wasn’t even on my radar.

I remember a friend of mine giving me this card right before soccer practice some time in 1986. No idea why he gave it to me. I’m not even sure why I kept it but I stuck it in my sock and my shinguard kept it “flat” against my shin.

It then got buried in my desk until July 1987 when I went looking for it after Eric Show hit Andre Dawson in the face. I had remembered it was a Padres pitcher. I was surprised to find that it was the Padres pitcher who the Giants had just traded for instead. I had no idea it was the pitcher who’d feature in one of the most amazing games I’d ever attend.


I’ve mentioned it before but for whatever reason this card reminds me of my first year of ripping packs and really getting into the hobby. I remember browsing the rack packs at Toys R Us but I want to say my first pack was a surprise from my mom after she picked me up from school.

I usually took the bus after school so being picked up meant I had some programmed after-school activity instead. My memories are of opening my pack while sitting in the front seat on the ride home. I think I got a Dave Winfield Glossy All Star but the Magadan stood out to me most with all the promise that a “Future Star” holds.


It’s hard to understate how amazing 1988 Score was as a set. Its thunder got stolen by Upper Deck the following year but in terms of paradigm shifts in the hobby, I’d argue that 1988 Score was even bigger.

I had been in the hobby over a year now and had matured greatly as a collector. I no longer browsed the rack packs at Toys R Us for my new cards. Instead I had discovered a local card shop (LCS) located kitty corner from where I had piano lessons. I suspect I begged to go there every weekend and I know my mom indulged me and took me there a lot more than I’d want to take my kids to any such shop now.

My LCS helped me settle into accepting the Topps/Donruss/Fleer hegemony as it stocked wax boxes of all three brands all the way back to 1980. It was my goal to be able to buy and open a pack of each of those.* Then one weekend afternoon I discovered a new brand on the counter.

*I never did buy 1983 Fleer or 1984 Donruss but I did manage to rip a pack of everything else.

The packs weren’t too expensive so of course I bought one.

Mind. Blown.

So much color and those photos. They were like nothing I’d seen before. Batters mid-swing where you could see the baseball as an oblong blur were pretty amazing but the catcher cards were where the set really shone and the Tony Pena was in a class of its own. I didn’t know cards could look like this and that’s before getting to the encyclopedic backs.


Donell Nixon 1989 Score

What a year. It started off with Gregg Jeffries mania. Quickly became Billy Ripken mania. And by the fall all was forgotten in favor of Ken Griffey Jr mania. For me it was pretty magical. My collecting world changed completely with a trip to Philadelphia and this Donell Nixon autograph which I’ve blogged about before. I also ramped up my collecting by getting team sets of Giants from all the major releases this year.


I looked forward to a lot of the 1990 sets because, despite the loss, I knew the Giants were going to feature in all the World Series cards. I wasn’t disappointed but this Score card caught me by surprise by being willing to recognize the seriousness of the event and how there are things bigger than the game.

In some ways 1990 topped 1989 for me baseballwise. I was that kid who was at the earthquake game. I went to the College World Series. I joined the Baseball Card Club in my Junior High. I was able to afford more cards and actually stay on top of the hobby to my satisfaction. The perfect balance between having money to spend and literally no other interests or obligations to spend it on.

Yeah my Junior High had a baseball card club. We knew better than to bring our cards out during class but during lunch we could buy/trade/rip and enjoy the hobby. I saw some cool pulls but the two big highlights were winning a set of 1990 Upper Deck Extended (I figured out the pattern first) and getting fingerprinted by the police when someone robbed a local card shop and they thought it might be someone in the club.


By 1991 I was deep into the autograph thing. The Stanford Alumni Game was my main event each year and the rapid increase in #1 draft pick cards across the hobby meant that I got excited to see guys I’d been watching at Sunken Diamond the previous spring show up on cards.

I could’ve chosen a number of cards here (I mentioned Steve Chitren in a previous post) but Mussina really captures everything about this year. He’s a guy I watched play in college. He’s a rookie I “invested” in because that’s what we thought we were supposed to do with cards then. And he’s one of my big autograph gets from when I started hitting the Alumni game in earnest.

I had gotten a few of his autographs the previous season* but finding this card in my set of 1991 Score that I got for Christmas** was super exciting and I know I looked forward to bringing it to the Alumni game the next month.***

*I remember him signing my all-session NCAA Regionals ticket and commenting on my being a true fan.

**I had saved up Bazooka comics and redeemed them for a Topps set earlier that year.

***Yup. One of the best things about growing up on the West Coast is that baseball started in January.


It wasn’t just the alumni games. I loved the Team USA cards in Topps Traded and used to set aside all the cards of guys who’d be playing at Stanford* the following spring. Some of this was going a bit crazy with the rookie speculation but it was also still a novelty to have real Topps cards of those guys.

*Either Stanford players, Pac 10 players, or standard opponents like Cal State Fullerton.

Willie Adams is six years older than me. That means nothing now but when I was only barely a teenager? That’s huge. And at 6’7″ he was huge too. I was pushing six feet by then but I remember Willie’s dad asking him to “sign for the little guy” when I approached him with my card.


This was another magical year. The Giants had a fantastic season (shame about the ending). I went to Spring Training for the first time. Lots of autographs and good baseball experiences. But in some ways what I remember most was tormenting my soccer coach with those Hostess Baseballs.

As a soccer player I was supposed to hate baseball. A lot of this was backlash to the way soccer was often portrayed as being “foreign” compared to baseball’s status as an “American” thing but I think it went deeper than that too. Anyway my coach was an inveterate baseball hater AND a health food nut so those Hostess Baseballs had him recoiling in abject horror. I’m surprised I didn’t have to run laps all practice.

I didn’t actually like the cupcakes that much. I preferred chocolate and the baseballs were boring vanilla and just sweet. But they came with cards in the package so I had to buy some.


I found all my 1994 cards in a shoebox last summer. Once the strike hit I dropped everything and none of those have any specific memories attached to them aside from “oh yeah I told this hobby to shove it.”

The only 1994 cards I didn’t shoebox were the Nabisco All Star Legends. Those were still cool and a super-affordable way of getting Hall of Famer autographs. I remember being excited to see who was on the checklist and who I wanted to order. Gibson was a no-brainer when I saw the list this year.


Not a card since I was no longer collecting but I went to Spring Training in 1996* and while I was no longer pursuing autographs in a big way I was still hanging over the rail just in case. Garagiola wasn’t worth a ball for me but I had a bunch of blank cards handy. As a result this was one of a handful of signatures I collected after I gave up the hobby.

*I’d gone in 1993 and 1994 but skipped 1995 for replacement players and anger at the whole thing reasons.


I wasn’t collecting cards but I still enjoyed the Mothers Cookies Stadium Giveaway and trading cards with other fans. Plus that Giants-Dodgers pennant race was fantastic. After a couple of years in the wilderness, the 1997 season kind of brought me back to liking the sport again.

I played hooky from my summer job to go to that late-summer Giants-Dodgers game which Brian Johnson won in extra innings. As exciting as the game-winning home run was, Rod Beck getting out of a bases-loaded jam also brought the crowd to its feet. I miss closers whose out pitches also functioned as double play inducers.


My last year of collecting in any form for almost two decade. I was still going to baseball card day but I was no longer trading cards there. Which is why I found myself with eight Alex Diaz cards when I went through my collection at my parents’ house.

While I still enjoyed going to games, things had started to intrude on my life as I hit the back stretch of college and my summers started to have to be more “productive” as I began to look forward to all the possibilities.


Fast forward 28 years in which I’ve not even really thought about cards and now I’m a stay-at-home dad living in New Jersey with two sons who are just getting into sports. Soccer mostly at this point which is why I don’t have a baseball card here.

Heck, it’s not even a card I own. But that Fall my mom sent my sons each a surprise pack of soccer cards. She’d noticed their burgeoning interest in sports as well and, I suspect, wanted to give me a taste of my own medicine. She mentioned in her letter that she’d gone to the same card shop I used to frequent starting way back in 1988. It was no longer kitty corner to my piano lessons nor was it owned by the same guy, but it was the same shop and according to her felt very familiar.

This caused me to want to visit the store again but also seeing my kids enjoy ripping packs just planted the collecting seed in my head. That my eldest pulled a Messi card—my being a Barcelona fan meant that he actually knew and was excited by the pull—was kind of icing on the cake. It reminded me again how much fun cards were and how much I liked them and totally primed me to be pulled in when the SABR Baseball Cards blog launched later that winter.

Night Owl’s 10th Anniversary

Earlier this year Night Owl, one of my favorite Baseball Card Bloggers, celebrated a decade of blogging. This is impressive. I’ve been blogging for 8 years  and not only does that feel like forever, my blog has ranged all over the place over that time. That Greg’s managed to stay so focused for a decade is no easy task and reflects a lot of work on his part.

To celebrate his 10 years he decided to host a little giveaway from a selection of ~30 vintage and modern cards. I drew a mediocre number which put me in the bottom half of the queue where I got to wait and see what items turned out to be unpopular.

As a vintage-first guy I was expecting all the vintage cards to get snapped up first. Much to my surprise though this is not how the event played out. Seeing what people selected ended up being much more surprising than I expected. When my turn came up a handful of cards older than me were still on the board.

Of that handful, the 1976 Mike Schmidt was the clear choice. I’ve always liked the 1976 set and design with its bright colors, large photo, and position icon. An early-career card of a Hall of Famer (and arguably the best Third Baseman in the game’s history) from that set will always be a welcome addition to my binder.

That this card also has some of that classic 70s action photography is even nicer. I like everything about it and am very pleased it fell to me in the draft.

Greg also included this 2016 Topps Gold Parallel of Santiago Casilla as a bonus. I gather he doesn’t want any Giants cards in his house. I don’t particularly care for the smoke monsters in the 2016 design but I kind of like the way they worked with the gold printing. This is one of those cases where the parallels may be nicer than the base cards.

Thanks for the cards and congratulations on 10 years of blogging! I hope I make it to that milestone in a couple.