A couple PWEs

Not a lot of big trades going on but it’s been nice to receive random envelopes with just a couple of cards inside. I’ve also sent out a couple of these. I think we all like getting mail and maintaining some connection to the outside world.

The first envelope came from Jason who, after upgrading his 1957 Dodgers Team set found himself with an extra Carl Erskine card. Erskine is a legend in the TTM community and when I mentioned that I’ve been meaning to send to him Jason popped his extra Erskine into the ail for me. I sent it out before I could write this post so I had to wait for it to come back with ink.

Erskine, legend that he is, turned this around in 11 days and included a bunch more in his return. Those will be part of this month’s TTM round up since they has nothing to do with Jason’s mail.

Jason also included two Topps stickers. I don’t actively pursue these but they’re fun to add to the binder. The Dave Holland is particularly cool because his jacket is amazing with the Warriors Cable Car number graphic on the left sleeve.

Shane Katz has been making themed binder pages and is partially responsible for inspiring my colorwheels project. So it’s only fitting that he would be the first person to actively contribute to it. I was missing an orange 1967. Now I’m not.

The foil 2020 Brandon Belt is pretty nice. Scans badly but of all the shiny cards I think the foils are the only ones I like. Something about them still being printed on paper appeals to me.

Shane also included a couple Stanford guys. The Frank Duffy is his last pro card and it doesn’t surprise me that Shane, as a Red Sox collector would have duplicates here. The Mark Davis though is an obscure card of an obscure player who only has one MLB card that I’m aware of. Yes I have it (1992 Topps MLB Debut) but it’s very cool to add a second.

Thanks guys! Take care out there.

A few maildays

Catching up on a few maildays that came in over the past couple weeks. School being at home has meant we all have had to adjust and has left me with less time for other things. But it’s been too long now so it’s time to acknowledge a number of things that came in the mail.

We’ll start off with these two Carl Aldana Seals customs of the lesser-known DiMaggio brothers from Jason. These cards are in the 1950s Mother’s Cookies style but feature photos from the 1930s. Mixing the two eras works pretty well but for me draws the photos into looking more 1950s because of the colorization.

Two neat little objects. I’m apparently a sucker for rounded corners. And I enjoy seeing Vince in his Hollywood Stars uniform.

It’s also worth showing the backs of these cards. No stats but not blank either. The image used could be a bit higher-resolution but I appreciate making it a vintage dairy advertisement. Is a nice riff on something that should fit right in with cookies.

I also got a nice postcard from Mark Armour just wishing us safety and health in these strange times. Why bother with a PWE when you can just send a postcard by itself? Anyway this is making me think that I should start mailing small things out to people just as a way to say “take care.” It’s indeed a strange world out there but there’s also something wonderful about seeing 90% of us in agreement about what’s most important and trying to support each other in surviving.

Does this go in a Giants binder? Maybe it does. Maybe it does. It is after all the closest I ever expect to get to a T206 Christy Mathewson.

Another mailing that came in was a handful of cards from Shane Katz which included my first 1981 Topps Scratch Offs. This is one of those sets that never appealed to me with its small photos and perforated edges.

Seeing them in panels helps a lot as the different colors make things more interesting. I can’t imagine filling 9-pocket (or even 10-pocket) sheets with these but picturing a full 4-pocket page appeals to me

Meanwhile my printing side appreciates that each photo is framed in a different process color. One of these days I’ll write the Topps and process colors post I keep saying I’ll write and the colors of 1981 Topps will definitely be a big part of that.

The backs of these are are great because they explain how the game is supposed to work. It’s actually something I can see my kids enjoying although I can already tell that the game has little replay value since you’ll quickly learn where to scratch for maximum run scoring.

The advertisement panels are also a ton of fun. I don’t know anyone who sent in for these things but that cap just screams its age/era and I do know a lot of guys who stored their cards in baseball card lockers like that.

Shane also included a couple other cards including a 2020 Heritage Willie Mays insert which takes my accumulated total for this set to six. Am I actively chasing and trying to build it? No. Is it something that I enjoy slowly adding to? Absolutely.

Thanks guys and take care in this season unlike any other.

Oddballs from Shane!

Earlier this week I found a fun bubble mailer from Shane Katz in my mailbox. Shane’s been on an oddballs binge for a couple years now and it appears that he’s spreading the wealth in terms of sending extras to people who can use them.

Two such extras are this Mike Sadek from the 1979 or 1980 KNBR/SFPD* Giants set and Steve Buechele from the 1988 Smokey Bear Rangers set. Both of these sets are from the heydey of 1980s (plus or minus a few years) oddballs where teams and sponsors would print out photos on some sort of card stock and issue them as baseball cards without any consideration as to the traditional baseball card size.

*I don’t have the ganas to look this up. Both years look nearly the same with the only difference being that one has a bold font and the other uses an octothorpe with the uniform number. Oh. Wait. The Sadek matches the Joe Strain which I previously identified as a 1980 release.

Yup. Both of these are oversized. KNBR/SFPD is like 2¼”×4″ and Smokey Bear is 3½”×5″. Makes these a pain to binder but I like all the weird sizes and the reminder that the Topps standard we’ve had since 1957 was something we played fast and loose with even when I was a kid.

The Sadek is a lot of fun. I like Sadek for nostalgia reasons and Dennis Desprois’s team photos are always good for a view of Candlestick as well. Also despite my not liking facsimile signatures I do like the way this one works. The overprinted black signatures frequently bother me but when they become more pronounced—whether foil stamped, reversed, or in cyan like this—I end up treating them more as a design element than a facsimile.

Buechele meanwhile makes a great type card for the Stanford binder. I love oddballs but chasing ALL of them is madness. That the Stanford Project gives me an excuse to pick one from the set is one of the reasons I like the project. I can add all kinds of odd cards and stay on topic.

Two more highlights from the mailer are this 1979 Hostess Vida Blue and 1997 Fleer signed Rod Beck card.* I’ve been slowly getting into Hostess cards. I was hesitant about them for a long time due to their handcut and grease-stained natures but I’ve come around to loving the fact that they existed at all.

*The Hostess is obviously smaller than the Fleer in real life but here on the web images can be sized to the same dimensions and  create an alternate reality.

It’s great that cards were part of the boxes of junk food in the 1970s. As a parent* now I’m glad that this no longer exists but I look at those janky edges and can’t help but smile. I don’t want these to be perfectly trimmed. I want to see the evidence of a child in the 1970s lovingly, carefully cutting out the card and squirreling it away.

*And as a 40-year-old card collector with a sweet tooth.

The 1997 Rod Beck is awesome. I’ve discussed Shooter on here in the past but it’s worth reiterating how much I miss closers whose strikeout pitch was also a double-play inducing pitch. Aside from Beck being a fun guy and deserved fan favorite where ever he went, he never scared me like other closers do because I knew he could get double plays with that splitter.

Not as cool but great nonetheless. Shane finished off one of my team sets. The last 2000 Giants card I needed was this one of Barry Bonds. Topps printed five different variants of this card number* but I only wanted one.

*The other three: 40/40, 1990MVP, and 1993MVP.

I refuse to get drawn into all the variants crap that the modern hobby pushes and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be suckered into it where it began twenty years ago. One checklist number. One card. Set complete.

If the others show up then of course I put them in the binder. But the idea that Topps printed a flagship set consisting of fewer than 500 cards but had the time to create a bunch of variants for some of the cards is everything wrong with what Flagship should be. It’s the set of record and should strive to be as good a set with as many current players in their correct uniforms as possible.

The last couple odd cards are a pair of Japanese cards. Dave Hilton is a 1979 TCMA card which was released for the US market. I actually want to say I have it already and that it came with my Baseball Card Collecting kit. I have now idea why it would’ve come with that kit but I feel like it came with a dozen assorted TCMA cards that, instead of being pirnted as part of a team set were printed by, or for, Hygrade. Anyway this card is eerily familiar to me and there’s no good reason why it should be.

The Tadashi Kashima is interesting in that it’s a Japanese release. Slightly smaller than traditional cards at 60mm×85mm and I kind of love that it is. What I find interesting is that B8 paper (62mm×88mm) is almost the same size as a baseball card but instead we’ve rounded down to the nearest multiple of five.

I always like looking at the backs of these so I’ve gone ahead and scanned it event though I have nothing to say about it.

Last batch of cards are more-modern Giants cards. The Opening Day insert is new. So is the Heritage insert. It’s weird, these Then and Now inserts have very clear connections between the players—in this case Batting Average Leaders—yet somehow feels completely random.

The rest I think I have—yes even that green Logan Webb (I don’t have a base version but I do have two of these somehow)—but will go in the duplicates pile for the boys. Well except for that Triple Play Buster Posey which is the stuff of nightmares and which they won’t let anywhere near their collections.

Very cool. Thanks Shane!

Surprise mailday from Shane

Late last week yet another bubble mailer showed up in my mailbox. This time it was from Shane Katz—yet another trading partner who I’m behind on sending a return to (don’t worry I have a stack I need to send out).

Shane’s a wonderfully thoughtful trader who has sent me all kinds of Giants cards in the past. This time though half of the package was 1978s for my set build. This batch takes me to needing only 63 cards and completed 9 pages. Very cool and that light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger and bigger.

Highlights here are Eckersley, Blyleven, and Seaver—all big-name cards I was missing. As I get closer to the end of my set build the big name, Hall of Famer cards take up an increasing percentage of my searchlist so it’s always great to cross a few of those off.

The ALCS card is also a great one. I really dig the Sundberg photo. I continue to wish that the photographer who shot the Mets, Yankees, and Orioles had shot the rest of this set. Mitchell Page’s card is both kind of awful and kind of amazing. And yup, that huge press box looming over George Hendrick’s shoulder makes me all kinds of wistful for Candlestick.

The rest of the package was mostly Giants with a few other things mixed in. From the junk wax period comes a bunch of fun oddballs I was missing. The Atlee rub off is great. The Mays and Ott Circle K cards complete my team set there.* That Chili Davis Fleer Sticker is a lot of fun. As is the Jeff Leonard sticker back.** I love the mini leaders cards. Swell Baseball Greats are perfect repack material cards that are perfect for trading. And it’s always a joy to get a 1991 Studio card. One of these days I’ll pursue that set and write about how it changed my understanding of what a baseball card could be.

*I’m amazed at how yellow the varnish on those cards has gotten though.

**I enjoy that the stickers and sticker backs are listed as two distinct sets even thought they’re the same piece of cardboard.

The last card is 1994 Topps Spanish Lou Whitaker. I’ve made no secret of my interest in Spanish-language baseball cards and while I have a few Giants it’s always nice to get additional exemplars from all of those sets.

Moving into more-recent cards, we’ve got a great Bumgarner Heritage rookie and a so-bad-it’s-good Heritage Sandoval. A couple Gold cards including one from this year’s Update. I’m going to have to take a good look at how Topps did the Gold effect this year.

There are also a bunch of inserts from various Topps sets. As much as everyone complains about the insert madness, they do appear to be good trade package filler. I’ve yet to come across any team or player collectors who dislike receiving them. Even the ones like me who don’t chase these cards enjoy sliding them into the binder.

And finally Shane included my first samples of 2018 Donruss. Not a set I buy though I’m always intrigued at how it references old designs. Somehow or another a sample or two eventually makes its way to me though.

Last bit of the package includes three 1984 Fun food buttons. This is a set I’m completely unaware of. I like the idea of keeping them in 2x2s as if they were coins. They show well there and I don’t have to worry about getting tetanus.

Two relics are very cool. I admit that these don’t move me that much but they’re still interesting objects.  I do find myself wondering if any of the big-time relic collectors has taken note of how the uniform fabric has changed over the years.

and the two pack of Stadium Club were a fun rip. I used to love this set and its photography and production values when I was a kid. It’s still notably good now and includes a number of photographs that I don’t usually see on cards.

These two packs weren’t super exciting but each contained a Hall of Famer so that’s cool. Kevin Maas is also some peak Dated Rookie Nostalgia and RIP Darryl Kile. Thanks so much Shane! I’ll be putting packages together soon enough.

Yet another huge @shanekatz73 mailday

Holy moly. Apparently every baseball card blogger has the same New Year’s resolution of clearing out unwanted cards from their collection and finding them good homes. While I’m not at that stage of collecting yet* I have been on the receiving end of a few trade packages now which consist of unwanted Giants cards.

*My new collection is still mostly focused and I have only one binder of random potential trade cards that don’t fit.

The most recent of these was another huge batch from Shane (@ShaneKatz73). Shane’s ability to accumulate Giants cards is starting to amaze me. His previous maildays have also been extremely generous and this one does not deviate from that pattern.

Starting off with the oldest cards. Highlights here are the two 1985 Circle K cards. When I was a kid I thought that Circle K was a fake store akin to 555 phone numbers since I’d only ever seen one in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. By the time I saw one in real life* I was approaching the end of my card collecting days.** So these cards represent oddballs which I’ve never heard of and a store that I didn’t think existed. Very fun.

*My first trip to Spring Training where there was one across the street from our hotel room in Scottsdale.

**Though I didn’t know this at the time.

Topps Big are also always appreciated. I love the 1980s take on the 1956 design. It’s a perfect homage to one of the all-time classics and manages to also be very much (in a good way) of its time as well. One of these days I should get a box of these to rip into. That the backs include the players’ full names—including Candy’s double surname—was a pleasant surprise too. I wish I’d had these on hand when I wrote my SABR post about those names.

That green Hygrade Willie Mays card also brings me back. My Christmas present in 1986* was a Hygrade Baseball Card Collecting Kit. A wonderful binder,** pages, a book on the history of cards, and that green set of All-Time greats.*** I remember paging that set immediately and then reading and rereading the backs over and over and over again.

*Could’ve been my birthday in 1987 but I’m 90% positive it was 1986 Christmas even though the information about this set says 1987. My first baseball game was September 1986. And by 1987 Christmas I was into the hobby to the point where I wanted a Topps factory set.

**Which I still have fully-loaded with Topps cards at my parents’ house.

***Also a handful of reprints of the most-valuable baseball cards of all time—T206 Wagner, T206 Plank, 1933 Goudey Lajoie, etc.—with back information that explained the cards and why they were so sought after.

I’ve been sad that no such sets exist now since I wanted my 8-year-old son to have the same experience as a way to both have some cards of the Hall of Famers as well as a way to learn about them. The closest I could find was the 2012 Panini Cooperstown set so that’s what Santa brought him last Christmas. He enjoyed it and I’m glad he has them before the inevitable desire for “real” cards kicks in.

The 1986 and 1987 Fleers are all Fleer update. The big names are missing but these are still fun to have. It’s nice to add another Atlee card to my collection and I’m digging the low angle photography on the Aldrete and Quiñones cards.

More Fleer Update. And more Topps Big. Highlight in this batch is the Kevin Mitchell Post card. I have a few cards from this set but no Giants. So getting my first Giants card is a lot of fun.

Also, that 1989 Fleer Update Jeff Brantley is an uncorrected error. When I saw it I realized that there was no way that that photo was of Brantley. Googling around shows that it’s a photo of Joe Kmak instead.

And into the 1990s. The 1992 French’s card is my favorite. Shane and I both appreciate good oddballs but recognize that the thing about oddball collecting is that getting all of them is a fool’s errand and it’s more fun to share the wealth by keeping just have a page-worth or your team and sending the rest off to other people who appreciate them. That French’s set is also interesting since all the cards feature two players.

The 1991 Bowman Shot Heard Round the World card is also great. There are signed versions floating around out there but I like this one as much as my 1961 Baseball Scoops card. The Barry Bond Sportflics card is fun as well; rather than in-game action, Bonds is drinking Gatorade. And I’d totally forgotten about the Deion Sanders year since that was the post-strike season and I had drifted out of the game a bit.

Also it’s fun to see the early 1990s and be reminded of how much big a deal Matt Williams was. He kind of gets forgotten because we think of the team transitioning from Will Clark to Barry Bonds and forget how monster a year he was having in 1994. But I think all Giants fans from my generation remember him fondly and like seeing special inserts which feature him rather than the endless Bonds cards Topps bombarded us with over the following decade.

To the early 2000s. Not too much to say about these though it surprises me to see how long some of the Topps card lineups have been in existence. I didn’t quite realize that Opening Day was 20 years old now. For a set that still feels like it doesn’t know what it is I’m kind of amazed that it’s had that staying power.

Heritage on the other hand has been in its current form now for 18 years. Looking at these older versions is interesting in how it shows how Topps is trying to figure out whether to replicate the old cards or just use the designs with new photography.

The 1954 design in particular looks wonderful still. As a Giants fan and collector, I’m especially happy to see other, brighter colors used in the backgrounds since the Giants only got white and yellow backgrounds originally. The 1957 design though looks like Topps tried to do some sort of aging filter on the photos to make them look vintage/faded. Not a good look especially since the content of the photos—all in-game action—goes against the vintage look.

The other card which deserves special reference is the Upper Deck 40-man card of Jeff Kent and the 2002 World Series Game 5. That series is still painful to me but every time I encounter references to it in baseball card land I find myself increasingly happy to be reminded of how good that season was and the silver lining that our first World Series win in San Francisco wasn’t tainted by steroids.

The 1958 design is another one that doesn’t work for me in Heritage. A lot of this is printing related this time. None of the inks are solid and the end result feels more like a weaksauce copy rather than a true update or homage. There’s also the fact that the black jerseys really don’t fit the Heritage look at all. Too modern for such a dated design.

The 1961 designs though work a lot better. This is partially because that design is so photocentric that good photography will carry it. Topps also didn’t overprocess things like it did when using the 1957 designs. And the printing uses solid inks in the graphic elements where it’s supposed to so the color pops correctly.

Other cards of note here are the Goodwin Champions minis. I like these so much more than the Topps206 minis and even many of the Allen&Ginter Minis I’ve received in other mailings. White uniforms. Not over-processed. Photos are chosen and cropped to fit the cards really well.

And there are two cards of Giants stadiums. It’s nice to see a Pac Bell (or SBC or AT&T or whatever it was called in 2010) card and it’s wonderful to see a Candlestick card—especially on which shows the ’Stick before it got enclosed.

Continuing into the 2010s. Highlight here is the Pablo Sandoval 3D card. Not sure what set those came in or how rare it is but it’s very very cool and isn’t lenticular the way the Kellogg’s cards were. Looks like I need to update my previous post.

The TriStar Obak minis are also cool. Not technically Giants cards but they’re going in that album just the same. When I go off the deep end into Pacific Coast League cards I’ll move these out along with my two Zeenuts. But I’m a long way off on starting any new projects.

And more Topps Heritage. The 1962 designs look great with the posed photos and white uniforms. The 1963s have enough bright color to look okay but the black jerseys again bother me—especially in the small circle photo.

And that Topps206 card of Buster Posey meanwhile is one of the worst cards I’ve ever seen.

Lots more Topps Heritage. Lots more black jerseys—especially in the 1966 design cards. I know these are all shot in Spring Training but it’s such a bush league look. I do however continue to find myself loving the 1965 design more and more.

And to the most-recent cards. Another Shot Heard Round the World card—very cool. And a World Series Celebration card from 2017. This is an ugly card and a lousy insert set yet any fans of the teams featured will like having samples of their celebrations.

Shane also sent a few oversize items. These two confused me for a bit. They’re regional oddballs. The Rick Burleson is a 1976 Star Markets Red Sox issue. It’s about 6×9″ on super-thin paper. The George Strickland is a 1970 Kansas City postcard. I’m not as hardcore about these things as Shane is but they’re always cool to have be reminded of how different sports collecting is on a local level.

The other oversize item is a 3-in-1 promotional panel for 2010 Topps Heritage. The back isn’t much to look at (just an advertisement) but it’s interesting that the front panel consists of two manager cards.* This isn’t exactly the kind of panel that’s going to get collectors’ hearts racing but I appreciate it as a Giants fan from a 201o first World Series point of view.

*The Bochy card was also included in this haul as well.

Also given how Topps has stopped making manager cards even in Heritage this piece serves as a reminder of how manager cards are a good thing which should be brought back.

I’m glad I already have a stack going for a return trade package. I’ll continue to let it grow for a while but even then it won’t be as cool as this one. Still, I’ll hopefully have a few oddballs and Red Sox cards Shane needs. Thanks!

Mailday from Shane

Despite the previous massive mailday, somehow Shane was able to surprise me with another massive batch of Giants cards. While obviously not as much fun as the previous mailing (that one took me months to sort through and figure out what everything was) there’s a lot of good stuff in here too.

A few 1980s–1990s cards from when I was collecting. The Topps UK Minis are especially fun. I’d not seen them before this year but have gradually acquired a number of them now through maildays. Pretty sure I’ve never seen that Fleer Exciting Stars card before either.

The rest of the Score, Upper Deck, and Leaf cards remind me of my collecting heyday. I might have them in a box at my parents’. I might not. (I’ve long lost my memory of all the cards I owned.) But these are the cards—and the players—I grew up with so it’s always a blast to see them again.

One of my growing collecting interests are cards which aren’t in English. O Pee Chee is pretty standard and for most of my youth was just a Canadian-branded version of Topps. It was cool enough that it was in white card stock instead of grey. And the bilingual French/English backs (also with Leaf in the 1980s before Donruss relaunched it as a premium brand in 1990) were pretty cool. O Pee Chee Premier followed the flagship/premium break that occurred in trading cards ~1990 and is the first time I saw non-Topps O Pee Chee cards.

I only recently discovered that Pacific’s MLB license was initially only for Spanish-language cards and that even after they started making English-language cards their Crown line was Spanish-only. Despite the Bay Area being a pretty significant Spanish-speaking market, I never saw these when they came out in 1993/1994. I’ve been semi-seeking them out now (I have a handful of giants from 1993/94) so having a 1997 Bonds is very cool.

On to late-1990s cards that represent a grab bag of different things that card companies were doing as they tried to figure out the post-strike landscape. We’ve got reprints. We’ve got retro-inspried designs. We’ve got budget versions of premium brands as a response to the regular brands creating premium releases. I continue to look at checklists from this era and be confused.

And Shane sent me a ton of Topps flagship starting with 2000. This is great since I don’t have any coverage from these years and while getting sets is out of the question, having Giants is a good way to stay on top of things. 2000 is notable for being the first year at Pac Bell Park so these cards represent some of the last images of Candlestick as a baseball venue.

Also. Yes. That’s a Robb Nen autograph. I need to ask Shane about the backstory here but that’s definitely the highlight of the mailday. I never took to Nen the way I took to Rod Beck but after what he did, and gave, to the team in 2002 I think all Giants fans respect him.

2001 Topps means many of these are the first photos from Pac Bell. The Robb Nen card here is the most-distinct of the ones I received in that it shows triples alley. Also, While I’ve tended to side-eye a lot of Topps’s 1990s–2000s designs, this one is growing on me. As individualy cards the green/grey border feels wreid. But seeing them all together like this and that color provides a nice page background for the photos.

I’m not a fan of the 2002 design though. If the dark green has a certain class to it, this orange/brown is an eyesore. All the swirly ribbons don’t help either. This is a shame since I should probably get this team set as it represents the team which came as close as I ever expected to get to a World Series title.

Yes that game 6 loss still hurts a little even though we’ve won three times this decade and winning a steroid-tained title would’ve sat uncomfortably.

2003 and 2005 Topps. the highlight here is the Matt Cain Prospects card. I’ve kind of forgotten these years in a blur of horrible news coverage where what Barry Bonds did outweighed what the team did. It was increasingly hard to be a fan and the Bonds circus caused me to start drifting away.

These sets are similarly forgettable. Topps is obviously going through a phase of knowing that foil stamping and high gloss are the hallmarks of premium cards but they haven‘t figured out how to consistently combine them into designs which work well.

I can’t imagine how unbearable the Bonds Hype must’ve been for everyone else during those years. That Topps released a set where each card represents one of Barry’s home runs continues to amaze me in its hilarious awfulness. I’m definitely not seeking to complete this set but I’m glad that I’ve moved past my frustration with those years to see the humor in it.

And that 2006 Topps set is also pretty dire. If the knock on a lot of the sets from 1976–1985 is that they’re boring white-bordered sets, at least they’re simple designs which have aged relatively well. These mid-200s Topps designs though? Yeesh. Too many things going on on each card.

2007 is better. I don’t like the design but it’s got a better handle on what it’s doing. I’m baffled as to why the team card has the red and blue squares switched (the backs are all oriented the same way). And yes those two Zitos have different colored backs. This whole parallel/short print thing where Topps changes the color of something minor and treats it as something special really bothers me. If you’re going to do this kind of artificial scarcity crap at least do it with photo variations.

I really like the 2008 design. Kind of surprised about it but it reaches back into the past and does something which is reminiscent of 1964, 1972, and 1986 yet in a way which isn’t at all copying them. The only thing I don’t like is the little tab where the Topps logo is. Even the printed autographs are a nice change of pace (although as an autograph collector I generally don’t like them).

Sadly the 2009 design is a step backwards again. And that’s a 2010 Ginter mini which is fun but also represents a line of cards which isn’t my thing.

And to more-recent cards. The Minor League Heritage cards intrigue me. I don’t really like the Heritage thing but for some reason it bothers me less with minor league teams. I do enjoy having representative samples of the various Archive and Heritage releases though.

The Christian Arroyo 1968 Topps Game design is especially interesting in how different it is—larger size and thicker card stock—from the actual 1968 cards. I am also amused at the specificity of “Lead Runner and Batter Out” for the double play (yes I know this is accurate to the original).

Shane also included some more-random stuff. Fleer stickers are fun. I think this is from 1987 based on the team logo on the other side. The small one must be from a minis set. I’ve never seen anything like it before. And the 49ers cards are fun too. I’ve long since given up on the NFL but cards which remind me of the 1980s when I was a fan—I was a 49er fan before I was a Giants fan actually—will always be enjoyable.

The coin is a 1969 Citgo coin of Willie McCovey. The back has a gob of glue stuck to it but it’s a neat little object all the same. I don’t think we had Citgos on the West Coast (it’s certainly a brand I’m not familiar with) so these coins also represent a cool regional oddball as well.

Thanks Shane! I hope my package gets out of USPS purgatory* sometime this year. It’s not nearly as cool as this, or the previous mailday, but it is indeed enjoyable to send people things that’ll make them happier than they made me.

*Note. Never, ever, make a mistake on the zip code.

Great Googly Moogly

Trading over the internet has been a ton of fun so far. Instead of being concerned about “value” or card-for-card sort of trades, we’ve all been able to fill holes in each other’s collections and be surprised by what we receive in return. Still, the exchanges have so far been limited to bubble mailers and exchanges of maybe a dozen cards or so. Which means that when I received Shane Katz’s package I was a bit blown away.

A surprise bubble mailer is fun. A surprise box? Above and beyond any of my expectations especially as an exchange for a bunch of regional food issued cards.

Anyway, digging in. The coolest part was knocking off ten spots on my Giants wantlist. This would have been plenty generous an exchange as it is. Getting a few additional items—specifically the McCormick Game card and the Halicki mini—which I wasn’t actively seeking is a cool bonus.

That the 1968 Lindy McDaniel is a high number and the 1969 Bobby Bolin is a white name variant deserves special mention here.

The rest of the box is all Giants cards. At first glance I thought these were all dupes. Turns out it’s a set where there’s one card for each home run Barry hit. I can’t imagine how insufferable this must’ve been to non-Giants fans. Bondsmania was annoying enough in the Bay Area as it was and we actually liked him. When I see things like this I’m reminded of the way Topps has been behaving about Aaron Judge right now. Very glad we didn’t have Topps Now during the Bonds year.

Also, Shane packaged these with the 666 on top. As well he should’ve.

Oh-Pee-Chee! Always fun. I was very surprised to learn that Upper Deck purchased the brand. In some ways this is the most disturbing change to me in the entire hobby. Oh-Pee-Chee has always been Canadian Topps. Not anymore though.

It’s been pointed out on Twitter to me that because Upper Deck purchased Oh Pee Chee, Upper Deck felt like they could print cards using old Topps designs. Topps obviously felt otherwise but this would certainly explain the 1963 Topps designed Upper Deck which I found in a repack.

Topps Magazine and Wacky Packages. not much to say about these except that they’re fun. The Topps Magazine cards in particular presaged a lot of the archives/heritage product in how they use the old designs with current players. Aside from the card stock issues by being magazine inserts, I found their interpretations of the old designs to be better homages than the current product in stores.

First true WTF is this moment of the box goes to Toppstown. I gather that these are redemptions for digital cards—a product which is now covered by Topps Bunt. I’m just going to show my age and admit that I still don’t understand digital cards.

Minis! Specificaly, Fleer minis. The Topps minis I have. Not these ones but I have some of the set. Fleer? I’d not even heard of. I even had some 1975 minis when I was a kid—no idea where I got them—but I never saw the Fleer. So that’s a fun discovery.


1985 Fleer is a set which I have a pack of plus some random commons. So I don’t have many, if any, Giants. I do now. This is cool.

The other oddballs are a lot of fun too. I’ve started collecting these—especially Giants samples— and they’re a wonderful combination of regional issues and samples of what players and highlights from the year are considered nationally noteworthy. The regional stuff is always fun to discover. The national stuff meanwhile is fun for a team collector because it signifies that someone on your team did something noteworthy.

Woolworths meanwhile, while it existed on the West Coast, seems to have disappeared by the time I was collecting cards. Not a store I was ever familiar with. And these cards are not something I ever saw until I started collecting again this year.

And there was a decent amount of junk wax which I know I collected. I suspect that I have half of these. But I’m not sure which half and the ones which I “need” are especially welcome since they fill in holes in the Giants teams I cared about the most.


Allen&Ginter, Gypsy Queen, and more Minis. I’m glad to have some representative samples of these sets since none of them interest me. Gypsy Queen’s managed to find a way to make HDR look even worse and the faux-retro plus over-processed digital photograph combination gives me hives.

Ginter on the other hand is much more interesting. I still don’t know quite know what I think about it. I know I don’t like it as a baseball card set. It’s also super expensive for what’s basically a gimmick. But I do like the tobacco card size and I’ve found myself enjoying the non-sports cards on the checklist.

Actually looking closely at them though is disappointing. The printing is screened process inks rather than a solid spot color and as a result looks like someone’s tried to counterfeit a vintage card.

Cards from that time period were printed as multiple-color lithographs. So not halftones or screens—especially on the text. For the price that the Ginter brand costs cost I’m disappointed to see that, not only weren’t they printed with solid inks, that no one bothered to confirm that the tiny type wouldn’t be destroyed by the halftone screen.

I was also amused by the all-text stats on Ginter’s backs. I know this is a vintage touch but it also feels a bit twee. That the T-206 style card includes a real cigarette ad on the back also surprised me. I didn’t expect this even though both Allen&Ginter and Gypsy Queen are also tobacco/cigarette brands. That none of those brands are in production and are instead associated with baseball cards is presumably why Topps can use the names.

Still, I learned that Topps changed the advertisement from “The Cigarette of Quality” to “The Brand of Quality” so it appears that you can’t actually say cigarette still on what’s ostensibly a kid’s product.

Lots of Topps Fan Favorites. This is indeed a fun set. As a Giants fan all of these strike me in the exact right way. Yes it’s weird to see these glossy but the better quality printing and trimming is very nice. It’s especially nice to see them using the correct vintage Giants logo.

I am curious why Monte Irvin’s signature is missing—it’s there on his actual 1953 Topps card. And with Bobby Thomson being in the 1952 high numbers this is likely to be as close as I’ll ever come to that card. Ditto with the Willie Mays cards too but that’s a much more obvious situation.

And finally a ton of stuff which is still very new to me. It’s going to take me a while to figure out what these all are. I recognize Topps Heritage and some of the Topps flagship cards. But the rest? Way over my head. I’ve got two decades of card collecting to figure out and sets to investigate. Though I do know that it’s Bowman Chrome which throws my autofocus all out of whack.

So yes. Giant box of cool stuff from Shane. If I ever come into an unexpected cache of 1956 Topps cards I’ll have to return the favor. Until then I’m just overwhelmed and grateful.