30-day Baseball Card Challenge v2

I’ve been looking back on my 2018 post which reflected the beginning of my reintegration into the hobby and recognizing how much my collection and interests have shifted and grown in the past year. So rather than doing a belated New Year’s Resolutions post, it’s time to revisit Tony’s 30-day baseball card challenge.

I’m not sure if this will become a repeating post. It really depends on how much my answers change year-to-year. And since some of Tony’s prompts do not allow for change there may be a point where doing this again no longer works anyway. but for now I think I have new and improved answers for almost everything.

1. A card from the current year with a photo you like

2018 Topps Big League Ichiro

As with last year’s post, “current year” is going to be the previous year. I just really like this card with the photo of Ichiro’s back and all the fans. It’s a wonderful way to cap his career (yes I know he’s not officially officially retired) and shows how adored he is by the fans. He’s a great player who’s truly distinct in the game and we’re all that much richer for his having come to the US.

2. A card with more than one player on it

1941 Double Play Harry Gumbert / Burgess Whitehead

One of my collecting goals for 2019 is to go older and focus on pre-Topps-monopoly cards. I’m also trying to acquire cards from sets that I have no samples of. This 1941 Double Play card is one such example. It’s a fun set and I love how there are two different orientations—horizontal for portraits, vertical for action. I got my first examples early this year and they’ve made me very happy.

3. A card from the first set you tried to complete

1986 Topps Bob Brenly

I started collecting cards in 1987 so while I didn’t explicitly purchase packs of 1986 Topps, I ended up accumulating a lot of it. I found a couple hundred of them at my parents’ house and decided hat I should try and complete the set the “hard” way now. It’s been fun. It hits a lot of feelings as I look at the cards and reminds me of the great unknown and potential collecting possibilities that opened up to me back when I was nine years old. Collecting the current year was safe. Collecting last year was the first step toward collecting the year before that, and the year before that…

4. A rookie card of one of your favorite players

Matt Williams 1988 Topps
1988 Topps Matt Williams

Not going to get into the “what’s a Rookie Card” discussion this year. Where picking Will Clark last year was easy I’ve found it hard to pick someone else this year. I’ve found favorite in this case to have to be a Giant who I watched when I was little and whose career tailed off about the same time my interest in the game tailed off in the mid-2000s. There aren’t many guys who fit this profile but Matt Williams does.

It was fun to see him go from that pinch-hitting late-game Shortstop to the slugging starting Third Baseman. It was fun to watch him do his Babe Ruth impersonation on Turn Back the Clock day. And it was fun to watch him just field his position and show he was more than a slugger.

5. A certified autograph card of one of my favorite players.

1996 Leaf Signatures Mike Aldrete

Mike Aldrete will always be one of my favorite players because he was one of my first in-person autographs. That I don’t have many certified autograph cards makes this an easy choice for this slot. I like this one because it fills a hole and is the only card representing his time with the Yankees.

6. A card you spent more than $10 to get

1953 Topps Monte Irvin

A bargain bin find but a beaut of a card of a Giants Hall of Famer. This is also the oldest card of a Hall of Famer that I own. It’s a bit embarrassing that it took the Giants so long to retire his number but he totally deserves the honor for his career, his status as one of the first Black baseball players to play for the franchise, and his presence in mentoring Willie Mays.

7. A card you bought in person and the story behind it.

1950 Bowman Mario Pieretti

Sometimes you just can’t say no. While the first night game occurred in 1935, cards depicting nighttime baseball are pretty uncommon until the 1970s—and even there frequently limited to the post-season subsets. Which is a shame because the cards showing the light standards are all kind of wonderful.

This Pieretti is the oldest night card baseball Twitter has found so far. I was unaware of this when I bought it. I was just stuck by the artwork and how nice the light standards looked. 1950 Bowman is one of my favorite sets and yeah, I couldn’t say no even though it doesn’t “fit” anywhere in my collection.

8. A card that reminds you of a family member

2017 Topps Update Austin Slater

My son gave me this card for Christmas a couple years ago. He’d pulled it from a pack and was excited to get a Giant. I told him it was also a Stanford guy. Since he already knows what I collect he took it upon himself to wrap it up nicely in an envelope and slip it into my stocking. So yes whenever I see it I’ll remember that a little boy raided his collection to find a card he knew his father would like.

9. One of your favorite cards from the 1950s

1955 Bowman Roger Bowman

The only reason I own this is because it’s a Bowman card featuring a player named Bowman. It’s a ridiculously stupid reason to buy a card (also why I was fine with it being so beat up). But I’ve yet to run into a collector who isn’t amused by this.

10. One of your favorite cards from the 1960s

Frank Robinson 1961 Topps
1961 Topps Frank Robinson All Star

I mentioned this card previously but for a long time this was my most-favorite non-Giants card. I’m ashamed to say that it was because it was also the highest book value card I owned back then but yeah that was part of it. But it was also a vintage card of a Hall of Famer in that super-cool All Star design. Plus that Reds uniform is fantastic.

11. One of your favorite cards from the 1970s

1974 Topps Dave Kingman

This is straight up modern art. Crazy catadioptric bokeh. High-contrast light and printing. I want to say that they just don’t make cards like this anymore but they didn’t make them like this back then either.

12. One of your favorite cards from the 1980s

1983 Fleer Duane Kuiper

Fleer has a number of wonderfully goofy photos in the 1980s but Kuip with the broken bat is the only Giants card of the bunch. It never fails to make me smile

13. One of your favorite cards from the 1990s


1999 Bowman International Ntema Ndungidi

I’ve joked that I could write 2000 words about this card. I won’t but I’ll briefly touch on everything I love about it. I love that it’s a non-English language parallel. I love that it appears to be in Lingala. I love that the height and weight are not only in metric but are written using a comma as the decimal operator. I love that it represents a country that no longer exists—by 1999 Zaire was no longer a country and was instead the Republic of Congo.

And I’ve come to be fascinated by how Topps manufactures Chrome cards. I don’t like Chrome as a product but the process of printing the image on the backside of the plastic* and then fusing it to the foil-faced cardstock was kind of a wonderful thing to realize.

*Chrome printing plate cards are reversed image.

14. One of your favorite cards from the 2000s

2009 O Pee Chee Randy Johnson

I had hard time picking anything from this decade but having had a lot more experience in this area over the past year I’ve found myself increasingly appreciative of the 2009 O Pee Chee release and how it’s one of the few releases in the past tow decades that feels like how cards used to feel without being an explicit rip-off of something else.

We’ve had Fleer Tradition and Topps Heritage and Upper Deck Vintage all trying to capitalize on nostalgia by trotting out old designs, or cards inspired by old designs* but the underlying message is that current-year cards have to look different. Glossy. Foil-stamped. Action-packed. Etc.

*And I get it. I do the exact same thing when I’m making customs.

2009 O Pee Chee is none of those. It’s an original design that feels like it could be from any year back to 1957. I selected the Randy Johnson because his cameo with the Giants is sufficiently weird. But I also like the wide angle photo and sever foreshortening effect.

15. One of your favorite cards from the 2010s

2017 Allen & Ginter Krazy George Mini

I really don’t like Ginter. It just feels so effortful but pleased with itself for being so damn clever. The photo processing bugs me. The gimmicks bug me. The price bugs me. I refuse to buy it and reward Topps for this kind of thing.

And yet I’m beginning to see the appeal. It’s a horrible baseball card set. It’s a fascinating set for all the other stuff and playing with the concept of who deserves to be on a trading card and what other kinds of people should be recognized. The political and famous ones are often interesting but as a Bay Area native I was particularly pleased to see Krazy George make an appearance a couple years ago.

I grew up with this guy and his drum and his jorts. I sort of rolled my eyes when he was at Candlestick* but seeing him in the sun at The Coliseum or San José Muni or Spartan Stadium? Perfect.

*His shtick didn’t quite fit the Candlestick gestalt.

This card reminds me of my youth and a simpler age of going to ball games. The mini makes it just a little more fun. I’m happy Topps threw a bone to the West Coast with this. Now if only they could make a Ginter card of Emperor Norton…

16. A card of a player who you appreciate but don’t like

1990 Topps Paul O’Neill

You know that one player who always killed your team? That was Paul O’Neill for the Giants when I was a kid. He was always the guy with the clutch hit right when the pitcher was about to work out of a jam. He was the one who broke up the only no-hitter I’ve come close to seeing live. He was always there tormenting the Giants.

My family called him “Oh, him again” because it was always him. Again and again and again.

17. A card from the first set you put together hand collated

Still blank. Still working on 1978 Topps, 1986 Topps, 1990 Fleer, 1990 Upper Deck, and 1991 Donruss. One of them should be finished this year though.

18. A card of a player who managed your favorite team

1986 Topps Dusty Baker

May as well pick up with the manager who succeeded Roger Craig. I got this signed in Spring Training 1993 when he was brand new. Have to say that even though the ending wasn’t so great I was mostly happy with the team while he was in charge.

19. A favorite card from a country other than the United States

1976 Calbee Sadaharu Oh

It feels like a bit of a cop out to go with another Oh card but after having these Calbees for a year I’ve found I like them even more than I did when I got them. There’s something just satisfying about these as objects with the thick card stock and the slightly smaller size. Plus the photography is so different from what Topps was doing at the time.

This Oh, with its night game, low angle view from directly behind the plate, and perfectly timed photo which captures Oh’s distinctive leg kick is a winner all around.

20. Your favorite parallel card based on the parallel

1975 Topps Mini Hank Aaron

1975 Minis will always be fun. For some reason I had three of these—including this Aaron—when I was a kid but only the solitary Tito Fuentes from the regular base cards. Because I had this stored with my oddballs I didn’t remember I had a vintage Hank Aaron until I revisited my collection at my parents’ house.

I admit to not understanding the current yearly release of mini parallels but the 1975 ones are special. Something about how they were the only mini cards until Topps started releasing the mini leaders in 1986 made them distinct.

21. A card of a rookie you thought you were “investing” in

1991 Mike Mussina

I sort of covered this previously. This was the only rookie autograph that didn’t bust within a year of me acquiring it and I’m still riding that high of him getting into Cooperstown.

22. A card of a common player that always seemed to elude you

2002 Topps Traded Rick Helling

Not a player who I cant find but a card that continues to elude me. I’ve found it in Chrome, Gold, and Refracter versions but for some reason the base card is impossible to find except when it costs twice as much as any of the others. And yeah I refuse to spend that much on a base card.

23. A favorite oddball card from the 1950s

1952 Mothers Cookies Bill Boemler

I’m an admitted Mothers Cookies fanatic but I never expected to get any from its first sets in the early 1950s. However I found one for a good price recently and am very happy to have this Bill Boemler in my collection. That it’s a San Francisco Seals card is especially nice.

24. A favorite oddball card from the 1960s

1967 Dexter Press Willie Mays

Another card I never expected to own. The Giants Dexters are tough to find ungraded—let alone affordable, let alone Mays—but sometimes you get lucky. Their reputation is fully deserved and the printing is such that they look much better in person than they do in any scans or web images.

25. A favorite oddball card from the 1970s

1970 Kellogg’s Willie McCovey

I love lenticular cards. This McCovey from the first year of Kellogg’s 3D issues was in a surprise mailday of many cool items but stood head and shoulders above them all. Like the Dexter, this card just can’t scan well. Not only does the 3D not translate, the crispness of the portrait is lost too. These 3Ds look so much better in person and are bizarrely sharp compared to the usual standard of late-69s, early-70s printing and registration.

26. A favorite oddball card from the 1980s

1986 Mothers Cookies Greg Minton

If Greg Minton’s 1978 card is famous for its awful airbrushing and colorization, this 1986 Mothers deserves to be as well known for its goofball pose.

27. A favorite oddball card from 1990 or later

1993 Fleer Fruit of the Loom Will Clark

🎶Cards were everywhere, man
Cards were everywhere, man
With food and gas I swear, man
Even in underwear, man🎶

I don’t exactly like this card. I do however love the idea that it came with underwear. If that’s not the definitive example of the nature of the hobby in the early 1990s and how cards were literally everywhere, I don’t know what is.

Also, as with the Fantastic Sams discs, I kind of wonder about the viability of making this a 66-card set. Yes I know that they came in packs of six but that’s still a best-case scenario of purchasing 11 packages of underwear for a set and that’s neither an impulse purchase nor something a kid’s going to save his allowance for.

28. A favorite relic/manufactured relic card

2016 Diamond Kings Mel Ott

I’m still not a fan of relics or the idea of cutting up old equipment to insert them in one-inch squares into cards. I do however find them fascinating in terms of just how they’re made. This Ott is probably the best example I have. It’s not just a relic but a couple different kinds of paper and printing methods.

29. A favorite card from before 1950. Whether you own it or not

1934–36 National Chicle Diamond Stars R327 Carl Hubbell

I wish I owned this. One of these day I’d love to try and get vintage cards of all the Giants retired numbers. I have the most-recent seven of the twelve players. Hubbell (and Ott) are the next most-recent. I don’t have any specific cards in mind for which ones I like but this Hubbell is one I’ve long admired for both the quality of the portrait as well as the wonderful colors and detail in the background.

30. Your favorite card in your collection

Del Baker 1917 Zee Nut
1917 Zeenut Del Baker

Unchanged from last year. My oldest baseball card. My oldest San Francisco card. And one that reminds me of my Grandmothers’ house.


For the sake of keeping score and breaking things up in various ways.

14: Giants
13: Topps
12: San Francisco
7: Food
5: Autographs, New York, Retired Numbers, 1980s, 1990s
4: Stanford, 1950s, 1970s, 2010s
3: Bowman
2: Mothers Cookies, Orioles, Reds, 1960s, 2000s

Oddballs from Tony

Over Easter weekend Tony (@OffHiatusBBC) put out a call for searchlists. I flagged mine and late last week a package arrived. Given Tony’s focus on oddballs there were a lot of great things inside—including a bunch of cards I’ve never even heard of.

Nice to get another 1987 Opening Day card. That’s such a weird set but with every passing year where sets lose more and more of a sense of identity it’s wonderful to see a set with such a concise description—in this case literally the entire MLB opening day starting lineup.

Topps Big is always welcome. I love the late-80s take on the 1956 design and these cards still look great. It’s also nice to finish my Giants team set of 1991 Stadium Club. Stadium Club was one of those sets which I loved at the time even though I couldn’t afford it. Full-bleed cards and a more photographic look were super cool to me at the time. They’re kind of quaint now but serve as a nice reminder of where we’ve come from.

I’d never heard of Holsum Bread let alone the discs. These are cool and totally up my alley as an unlicensed regional food issue in a funky shape. The only problem is that they‘re slightly too big to fit in a 9-pocket sheet. I’d also not heard of the Jimmie Dean cards but at least I’ve heard of the brand. Anyway the five Holsum and Jimmie Dean cards are the highlight of this package.

The last card in this photo is a 2013 Tim Lincecum variant. Not sure how Tony knew I didn’t have this but I didn’t and I’m very happy to have it now.

Tony also included the 11 Will Clark cards in the Playball USA set. I have no idea what these are. They’re not food issues and the backs feel like unlicensed Broders At first I thought these were part of a game but I no longer that’s the case. Anyway the 11-card player set thing reminds me of those Star sets which were all over in the late 80s and early 90s.

And the two silver cards are 1992 Upper Deck MVP holograms of Will Clark and Dave Righetti. While some holograms scan nicely these do not. They look good in person though and I’m a sucker for any of those all-hologram cards that Upper Deck released in the early 90s.

Most of the package though was 1990 Upper Deck. I really like this set as a huge improvement over 1989 both photo-wise and design-wise. I will be pursuing it at some point but it’s always good to have an extra team set for the binder too.

Yes there are two Padres cards in here. This happens fairly frequently actually. The Padres and Giants logos and colors were close enough in the 80s/90s that things could be confusing at a first glance. I’ve had the same thing happen with random Pirates cards sneaking into maildays as well.

Thanks Tony! As I detailed in my previous post about your 2018 mailday I will be setting aside Brewers for you when I get them. Which is rarely. But I’ll find a way to get a return package to you eventually.

More 2018s from Tony

Tony is one of the first guys I became friends with on baseball card twitter. He runs two card blogs, his main blog is Off Hiatus and covers his Milwaukee and Brewers collecting focus. His second though, Collecting the 80s, covers 1980s oddballs and it’s in oddball land that we’ve had a lot of fun.

One of the best parts of collecting cards in the 80s and early 90s was how so many different food products, magazines, etc had cards in them. Many of these releases were extremely regional and it’s been really interesting to compare notes with other collectors around the country to discover what cards and sets they grew up with and how different those were compared to what I grew up with.*

*I’ve posted previously about Mother’s Cookies both on SABR and my own blog.

I’ve been meaning to put a trade package together for Tony but it’s been really hard. Most of my duplicates are from the peak junk wax days of the late 80s and early 90s. And the fact that Tony’s collecting focus happens to be the Brewers means I haven’t been able to come across any new cards to send him either. It’s rough out there if you support a “small market” team. Topps is increasingly focusing its new products on big-name teams and players and while I understand the business reasons for this it also feels extremely shortsighted since there are plenty of baseball fans out there who hate the big market teams and are getting increasingly tired of the dominance of Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers cards.

Tony proudly identifies as a member of that group and has been pretty vocal with Topps about how disappointed he is with their new products and wouldn’t be buying any of them. so of course he won a free box of 2018 Series 1 cards. And of course I found myself laughing at him about it. He got a decent box with a good number of Brewers cards in it. But even after getting a huge head start on the set he decided to stick to his guns and get rid of all the cards he didn’t want.

He was gracious enough to send me his Giants* so now I have seven of the Giants cards in Series 1. Since Peter sent me a couple of Poseys and Cuetos already I now have enough duplicates now to give my sons their first 2018 cards without causing any sibling strife.

*I need to figure out what black magic he used to send a bubble mailer for a buck.

I remain impressed by the photography in this set. It’s noticeably more varied and seems less preoccupied in getting extreme exertion faces and more about catching details like what grip the pitcher is using.

Also, hello Christian Arroyo. We hardly knew you and now you’re already gone. I have such mixed feelings about those orange jerseys. I love them as jerseys by themselves. They really pop on the card. But I hate them as part of the official uniform (though they’re worlds better than the black jerseys).

My favorite card of the batch is the Brandon Belt. First, this year’s design works way better in horizontal formats than previous years’ designs did. It doesn’t feel like the graphic is eating up half the card and the ground fog effect is much much more subtle. I still wish they’d stop using that filter though. What I’m most interested in though is the photograph and how it’s clearly shot from the stands rather than the photographers’ well next to the field.

Looking at the other photos from that game shows that this is the only one shot at that angle. I’m really curious what the photographer was doing to get this shot. Or perhaps there’s something really weird down the first base line at Petco that I’m not familiar with.

Tony also included a Stephen Piscotty card for my Stanford binder. Between this card and the Jed Lowrie from Peter, my Stanford checklist for Series 1 is already all checked off. It’ll be interesting to see who shows up in Series 2. And I do expect to see another Piscotty card in Update showing him with the A’s.

Thanks Tony! One of these days I’ll get enough Brewers cards to send you a thank you package in return.

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge

So I decided to start off 2018 by reflecting on reintegrating into the hobby in 2017 and doing Tony’s 30-day baseball card challenge. It’s weird. In many ways I feel like I’ve been back in the hobby for much longer than a year* even though I was only just feeling the pull in March. Anyway it’s been great to get back into cards and even better to get to know the online community whether it’s the SABR guys, #CardboardMafia, or the rest of the #HobbyLove crew.

*Yes this could just be 2017 being the trash heap of a year that it’s been.

I had no idea that trading would be such a wonderful thing. I’ve loved receiving surprise maildays and I’ve had just as much fun trying to find cards to send out. Even though I always feel inadequate in these exchanges I deeply appreciate how so many traders aren’t hung up about book value and are instead just excited about both their own weird personal projects as well as keeping an eye out for everyone else’s weird projects too.

And it’s just been great to chat about cards whether on Twitter or in the comments on blogposts. Tony in particular was one of the first contacts I made on card Twitter and because I’ve enjoyed chatting with him so much I’ve been wanting to do his 30-day challenge for many months. At first I could only answer maybe half of the questions but as the year has gone by I’ve gradually gotten to the point where I can answer all but one of them.

Thanks Tony. This is a great way to inaugurate 2018. All one post instead of being spread out over 30 days. And yes, because of my collecting interests this is going to be very Giants heavy. Photos are a combination of my scans and images sourced from the web. If the condition of my copy matters then I’ve scanned. But for the more-recent cards I’ve tended to grab from the web.

1. A card from the current year with a photo you like

2017 Stadium Club Tim Raines

Since this is 2017 in review I’m treating “current year” as 2017. That this was Tony’s first prompt is a reason why it took me so long to do this challenge. Flagship’s photography is not so inspiring. Stadium Club on the other hand is fantastic and only once that set came out did I find any cards which I felt good about putting here.

This Raines card was kind of a “holy crap” card in general. It looks unlike any other baseball card photo I’ve seen and when I saw it is when I realized that I wanted to start collecting this set.

I’m very glad I found it in a pack and it’s a perfect choice for this year since he finally entered the Hall of Fame.

2. A card with more than one player on it

1991 Fleer Ultra Steve Chitren

I’m cheating on this one. Rather than an intentional multi-player card I’m putting this error up since the fact that I have no idea who’s mistakenly on the front of this card still bugs me.

I was kind of mean to Chitren by bringing him this card to get signed since it’s one of his first cards and Fleer screwed it up. He did tell me that the guy on the front was “Joe Torrick” but I’ve been unable to anyone named like that on Baseball Reference. I also brought a bunch of other cards of Chitren’s to get signed so it wasn’t as awkward as it could’ve been.

3. A card from the first set you tried to complete

1991 Topps Walt Weiss

I never hand-collated sets since I always received factory sets as Christmas presents. In 1991 though I made it my mission to collect enough Bazooka comics to send in for the free (or super-cheap + shipping, I forget the exact offer) 1991 Topps Factory set. So while I didn’t complete the 1991 set itself, it’s the only one that I put some kind of accumulation work in to finish.

I’ve been willing to argue that the 1991 set is the best-looking set Topps has ever made. The photography in particular is often great—both with the action shots and the posed ones. I remember my jaw dropping the first time I saw the Walt Weiss card. It’s nearly perfect and after years of not having horizontal action cards this was not something I ever expected to see on cardboard.

4. A rookie card of one of your favorite players

Will Clark 1987 Topps
1987 Topps Will Clark.

I’ve already posted about Will Clark and this signature. The prompt here though takes us into the “what’s a rookie card” discussion. I’ve always preferred to think of the first Flagship card from after the player debuted in the Majors as the true rookie card. Yes I know there’s a 1986 Traded card. I even have two of them. But for me this is Will Clark’s true rookie card.

We didn’t need that RC badge to tell us whether or not a card was a rookie card. We just turned the card over and if there was a single line of MLB stats we knew we had something fun.

5. A certified autograph card of one of my favorite players.

Gaylord Perry 2004 Donruss
2004 Donruss Timelines Gaylord Perry

Another prompt I would’ve been unable to answer earlier last year. This came in a mailday where I was expecting random commons and got random awesomeness instead. I’m not a fan of sticker autographs but this one is done well. Rather than being just slapped onto the card, the card is designed around the sticker and everything looks really nice and considered.

And yes Gaylord Perry, like the rest of the Giants Hall of Famers, is one of my favorite players. I’ve posted about getting his signature on here and I’m enjoying getting more of his cards as I slowly build up my Giants collection.

6. A card you spent more than $10 to get

1967 Topps Willie Mays

This was in a bargain bin. Still more than $10 because, while it’s beat up, it’s Willie Mays and presents well in person.* Mays is going to be the biggest obstacle to my attempt to build Topps (and maybe 1950s Bowman) Giants team sets. He’s one of those players who everyone wants and no one wants to get rid of. Deservedly so. So when I see cards like this I jump on them.

*There’s this weird thing where scanning a card makes it look so much worse than it does with the naked eye.

7. A card you bought in person and the story behind it.

Orlando Cepeda 1960 Topps
1960 Topps Orlando Cepeda

Another one I’ve kind of blogged about before. I was at a soccer tournament in Fresno and was surprised to find there was a card show near the hotel that weekend. It was my first card show and while it was kind of a magical experience, I don’t remember too much since so much of what I saw was way out of my price range. Anyway when I saw this for sale I had to get it. Cepeda was already my favorite old player and I spent most of my meager budget on this card.

8. A card that reminds you of a family member

1988 Mothers Cookies Harry Spilman

In 1988 at Mothers Cookies Trading Card Day you got 20 cards of the 28-card set and a redemption voucher for 8 more cards. My sister and I each got sets. when we sent in our redemptions we got a different pack of 8 cards. Much to my chagrin one of the cards she got was this Harry Spilman—her favorite player. I “needed” it. She had it and wouldn’t trade with me.

I don’t remember exactly why Harry was her favorite. But I know that she held on to this card long after she stopped caring about baseball or baseball cards because she was doing her job as a sibling. It was only after I gave up on collecting in 1994 that our collections got merged.

9. One of your favorite cards from the 1950s

1950 Bowman Hank Thompson

Thompson is kind of a forgotten Giants pioneer. Monte Irvin overshadows him despite them both being the first black players for the Giants. And Willie Mays overshadows both Irvin and Thompson on those 1950s teams. But this is another card I found in a bargain bin and, while it’s beat up, I couldn’t resist it because it both features an important player who’s kind of been forgotten and it’s part of a set which predates Topps and never existed as part of my younger consciousness in card collecting.

Topps was the brand and card of record for me when I was a kid. Bowman was a legacy brand which I didn’t know much about. when Topps brought the brand back it almost diminished the old cards even more. While there are a number of great 1950s issues I like the 1950 Bowman set because of how different it looks and how it reminds me of how much the hobby changed in that decade.

It started the decade with small painted cards which very much hearken back to the pre-war days of baseball cards. And it ended the decade with color photography and a card size which has essentially become the worldwide industry standard over the past 60+ years.

10. One of your favorite cards from the 1960s

Masanori Murakami 1965 Topps
1965 Topps Masanori Murakami

I’ve pretty much covered everything about this card already.

11. One of your favorite cards from the 1970s

1973 Topps Chris Speier Boyhood Photos of the Stars

I touched on this before but it’s hard to describe how much Chris Speier intrigued me when I was a kid. Here was a player who‘d been on the Giants in 1972 and he was back on the team in 1987! I thought this was extraordinarily cool.

And these 1973 Boyhood Photos cards? Also kind of amazing. Super cool for kids. I don’t think I’d like them in a set now. But this one just added to my fascination with Speier at the time. It wasn’t enough that he’d been around so long, there was also a card with a photo of him as a kid on it.

12. One of your favorite cards from the 1980s

Kevin Mitchell 1987 Topps
1987 Topps Kevin Mitchell

I’ve posted on Mitchell before. This card is just too good. The photo is great and I don’t think they make infield dirt like this anymore.

13. One of your favorite cards from the 1990s

1991 Studio David Justice

Leaf Studio ’91 was one of the first sets which expanded my understanding of what a baseball card could be. As companies tried outdoing each other with slicker production values and better action photography, it was a surprise to find a slick set featuring black and white studio photos.

Rather than trying to emulate the Bo Jackson style studio shots like Score was doing, Leaf managed to bridge a delicate line between having informal casual shots while having everyone still looking like a baseball player. David Justice’s card was one of the ones that jumped out at me especially because of the way he’s interacting with the bat.

14. One of your favorite cards from the 2000s

Marvin Miller 2005 Topps Fan Favorites
2005 Topps Fan Favorites Marvin Miller

Another card I’ve covered already. Each year that Miller is kept out of the Hall of Fame is increasingly embarrassing.

15. One of your favorite cards from the 2010s

2011 Topps Heritage San Francisco Giants Celebrate

Did I think the Giants would ever win the World Series in my lifetime? No.

Does having a card celebrating that victory make me happy? You bet your ass.

16. A card of a player who you appreciate but don’t like

1978 Topps Jack Clark

I knew of Clark as a former Giant but he was well established as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals by the time I became a fan. Giants fans didn’t like former Giants when they came back to The Stick (yes I know the Giants traded Clark away) and the fact that he was with St. Louis was especially painful.

Especially in 1987.

I seem to recall him killing us a lot but I also just never liked any of the Cardinals at the time (I grew to like Ozzie Smith though). But I also had to appreciate Clark as both a player and as the standard bearer on those horrible late-70s, early-80s Giants teams. I’ve selected the 1978 card since it’s his first solo card and reminds me of his appearances in Mike Mandel’s work from that time period as well.

17. A card from the first set you put together hand collated

I have to leave this one blank as I’ve never completed a hand-collated set. Completing a set is one of my goals in my second stint of baseball card collecting. I have a decent start on 1986 Topps, 1990 Fleer, and 1991 Donruss so one of these days I need to find a cheap box, sit down, and start ripping packs.

18. A card of a player who managed your favorite team

Roger Craig 1962 Topps
1962 Topps Roger Craig

I sort of covered this already too.

19. A favorite card from a country other than the United States

1960s 大日本印刷 (Dai Nippon) playing cards
3♣️ featuring 王貞治 (Sadaharu Oh) on the backs

While I don’t read a lot of sports books, one that I both enjoyed and recommend is Oh’s biography A Zen Way of Baseball. Yes, I know he’s like the only non-MLB Japanese player many people can name but the book is one of the main reasons I happen to like him. It’s a very interesting look at Japanese baseball but it’s also, more interestingly for me, about how Oh had to navigate Japan as not being fully Japanese.

Back before the internet it was hard to find Japanese cards—let alone affordable ones. My mom found this one at a card show I’d dragged her to (the same show in which she snagged my Hank Aaron ball) and until this month was the only Japanese card—and Oh card—I owned.*

*I finally got some mid-1970s Calbee cards because the photography looks awesome but that’s a post for another day.

I only just found an ebay auction with more information (still not much) about this card. That auction confirmed my guess about it being from the 1960s. While that seller has a number of other playing cards the only other Sadaharu Oh playing card I’ve found an actual webpage about is Commish Bob’s card. His is a different deck of cards and he has, quite appropriately, the king of clubs. My card is the three of clubs which isn’t as appropriate for Oh but makes me smile as a Penn and Teller fan.

20. Your favorite parallel card based on the parallel

1978 Topps Zest Willie Montañez

I almost left this category blank on purpose. I don’t like parallels, especially the way they exist today with dozens of color variants and short prints and little details where you have to use a magnifying glass to check the little code at the bottom in order to determine what the difference is. I dread hitting those in packs and they’re sucking a lot of the fun out of the hobby.

That said I do have fond memories of wanting a sample of 1991 Topps Desert Shield cards and chasing the early-1990s Topps Gold cards. I also like the oddball parallels such as the 1975 minis or the various regional food-issue parallel cards from the late 1970s and early 1980s.*

*Burger King and Nestle are the two which come to my mind first.

But I’ve come around to feeling like the only parallels I really like now are ones which involve language issues—especially Spanish. I stopped collecting cards in 1994 but I’m really tempted to try and track down the Spanish-language 1994 Topps set. I also really like the 1960s Venezuelan Topps cards—especially the ones with Spanish on the backs although those are more like O-Pee-Chee foreign issues rather than true parallels.

The 1978 Topps Zest set sits right at the intersection of a lot of these. It’s a parallel in the sense that the fronts look like the regular 1978 cards. It’s also an oddball in that it’s a small mail-in set meant to encourage you to purchase Zest Soap. And the backs are bilingual English/Spanish which is super cool.

From what little I’ve been able to piece together online this was a promotion aimed just at the Spanish-speaking market. The mail-in coupon is completely in Spanish and indicates that mailing Proctor & Gamble the redemption certificate along with the wrappers from two bars of Zest bath soap would get you the set of five cards in return. It was a short promo too—August 1 to November 1 so you only had three months to take advantage of this.

I selected Montañez’s card for this challenge because Topps also added the tilde to his name. His regular 1978 Topps card doesn’t have the tilde and I appreciate how in addition to the bilingual backs Topps engaged in a bit of #PonleAcento action. While Topps has a history of using Latino double last names, this may be the first time they used a tilde on a US card release.

21. A card of a rookie you thought you were “investing” in

1989 Star Ben McDonald

Not much to say but McDonald is one of those peak Dated Rookies from the Junk Wax era and as much as I was excited to come across this card then I’m equally amused by it now.

I’ve included the Dated Rookie logo here because of Joey’s Dated Rookies project he’s running over on Dub Mentality and how all of us who grew up in the hobby during the junk wax days have an odd nostalgia for the “sure thing” rookies we were all chasing and hoping to pull out of packs. For every Frank Thomas or Ken Griffey Jr. there were a dozen guys like Ben McDonald, Phil Plantier, or Kevin Maas who bring a smile to our faces when we remember how excited we were to find their now-common cards in packs.

22. A card of a common player that always seemed to elude you

1987 Topps RJ Reynolds

So I can’t say “always” here but I got a 1987 factory set for Christmas and by the time I got everything into pages I couldn’t find this card. My guess is that I lost it by messing around with the cards in the set before I was ready to properly sort/organize but who knows, maybe there’s a 1987 Topps Factory Set sitting on ebay with 792 RJ Reynolds cards inside it.

Anyway, for the next couple months every time I went anywhere that sold rack packs of 1987 Topps I checked every single pack to see if one of the five visible cards was RJ Reynolds. And yes I eventually found and purchased one.

23. A favorite oddball card from the 1950s

1955 Red Man Tobacco Dusty Rhodes

Since I’ve barely started getting regular cards from the 1950s, the idea of getting oddballs from that decade was a bit beyond my collecting focus. Still there’s been enough #HobbyLove going around that some duplicate Red Man Tobacco cards made their way into one of my piles.*

*It hasn’t arrived yet but I’m counting it as mine for the time being. Once it gets here there will be a proper post recapping the full contents of the mailday.

Dusty Rhodes of course is one of the Giants legends based on his pinch hitting prowess in the 1954 World Series. That this card is pretty much exclusively about his World Series performance makes it a worthy entry here despite being the default entry.

As I get more into collecting vintage cards down the road I can totally see myself becoming interested in PCL-issue cards from this decade. I also love the Wilson Franks set but yeah that’s out of my price range. And I’m sure there are many other things that I’d find interesting as I get to know the territory better.

24. A favorite oddball card from the 1960s

1961 Baseball Scoops Bobby Thomson

This whole set is wonderful (seriously) but I’ll always have a soft spot for THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!

As with the 1955 Red Man Dusty Rhodes, this is sort of a default choice. I only have two oddballs from the 1960s (the other is a 1968 Topps game card) and don’t really know the territory well yet. I know I’d like to get some of the Topps Giant (not Giants) cards or the Dexter Press cards. But outside of that I don’t really know what’s out there. Still, I expect that this Bobby Thomson will always be one of my favorites.

25. A favorite oddball card from the 1970s

1971 Ticketron Giants Schedules Tito Fuentes

I don’t have a lot of 1970s oddballs. I should get around to acquiring some of the awesome 3d Kelloggs cards some time. And there are a bunch of fun TCMA issues from this decade as well as the Hostess cards. I also have a handful of the 1975 minis* including a few Giants and the Hank Aaron Record Breaker.**

*I don’t even remember how I got them but for some reason I had more 1975 minis than I had full-size 1975s.

**I almost selected that card here instead.

But I’m going with this Tito Fuentes for a number of reasons. First, Tito is cool. I like him as a former-Giant and as their Spanish-language announcer. I also love his late-1970s cards with the TITO headband enough that he’s one of the few players who I’m considering collecting outside of his affiliation with the Giants. But this piece is also fun because of the back and how it shows the Giants schedule in 1971. Lots of doubleheaders. Tons of day games. Only a handful of promotions. It’s a very different world than what I grew up with.

I also like remembering Ticketron and electronic box offices and the pre-internet days of ticket purchasing. I don’t like remembering the fees associated with this but everything else has a significant portion of “when I was your age” fondness associated with it.

26. A favorite oddball card from the 1980s

1988 KingB Candy Maldonado

There are a lot of wonderful 1980s oddballs but I will always be partial to discs. I also have a soft spot for KingB because it wasn’t a treat I was allowed to get very often so I only have one or two of these cards per year.

In hindsight the whole shredded beef jerky in a plastic chewing tobacco sized tin was a horrible rip off. It would’ve been overpriced even if it was good jerky (it wasn’t) but it came with a card and in those days any food item which came with a card was something I’d buy.

27. A favorite oddball card from 1990 or later

1996 Denny’s Pinnacle Hologram Ozzie Smith

I blogged about this on SABR. I don’t have much more to say here other than reiterating how while the Denny’s holograms were always cool, motion holograms are even cooler, and featuring Ozzie’s backflip is the absolute perfect use of the medium.

28. A favorite relic/manufactured relic card

2017 Topps Joe Panik

My first relic and one I’m glad to have had the opportunity to inspect. I’ve come to the conclusion that, as with parallels, relics just aren’t my kind of thing.

29. A favorite card from before 1950. Whether you own it or not

1911 T205 Christy Mathewson

I do not own this. I wish I did. The T205 set is flat-out beautiful and I’d love to acquire some of them. Any of them. But the Christy Mathewson is a great card of a great player who’s also a Giant and my birthday buddy. So of of all the great cards before 1950 this is the one I like most.

And yeah this is as close as I ever expect to come to making a “White Whale” list. Although one of these days I may make a list of “cards in my project checklist I never expect to get.”

30. Your favorite card in your collection

Del Baker 1917 Zee Nut
1917 Zeenut Del Baker

I’ve gotten two blogposts out of this card. One is specifically about the joy of finding it at my grandmother’s; the other is about baseball lifers. Aside from what’s in those posts I love that this is a PCL card featuring the San Francisco Seals. That it’s by far the oldest card I own (aside from the Albert Whaling 1917 Zeenut my next-oldest cards are 1950 Bowmans) makes it my favorite as well.

Final counts

For the sake of keeping score and breaking things up in various ways.

16 cards: Giants
15 cards: Topps
14 cards: San Francisco
7 cards: New York
6 cards: 1960s, 1980s
5 cards: Wood grain
4 cards: Autographs, Food, Retired Numbers, 1970s, 1990s
3 cards: 2010s, Mets
2 cards: A’s, Minor League, Oakland, Tobacco, 1910s, 1950s, 2000s