Alchemy

One of the best things about Card Twitter is its ability to transform stuff that doesn’t interest me into stuff that does. In this case, my stack of 1967 Topps Football cards has been sitting in a box for months. I don’t really feel like selling things but I figured it was only a matter of time before I found someone building the set.

About a month ago Jeff Katz turned out to be that someone. I almost blew the trade by overthinking things* but I eventually realized that if I had a magic wand that could simply transform my football cards into baseball cards I’d be perfectly happy. So that’s what we ended up doing. After like 10 days of watching my package bounce between Pittsburgh and Jersey City it finally arrived yesterday.

*The downside of having a focused searchlist is that I can get hung up on just focusing on the list of what I “need.” 95% of the time this is a good instinct but this was an instance where it got in the way.

Two Hall of Famers in the stack. Stargell is a little beat up (I knew this before Jeff sent it) but the Drysdale is in good shape for my collecting grade that doesn’t care about softish corners, centering, or diamond cuts.*

*I won’t comment on the registration.

1967 is a design I’ve never really cared for since I don’t like facsimile signatures. I’ve come around to appreciating the photography though and the way it interacts with the design. This will be a larger post over on SABR some day but the short version of it here is that layering the text on top of the photo forced a looser crop that Topps usually does.

This is especially the case with the name and position text in the top of the frame. Mid-1960s portraits will be shot on, at smallest, medium format film and be composed in-camera with a lot of room for cropping downstream. That extra quarter inch of space at the top of the frame coupled with the extra half inch on the bottom results in a lot more background information than is typical for any other  Topps set from 1957 to 1969.*

*After 1969 we see 35mm photography, candids, and action shots start to creep into the mix so we really can’t compare those sets to the portraits that dominate the 1960s.

Another card in the batch gives a complete page of 1967 A’s cards. 1967 is the last year the A’s were in Kansas City and I’ve been trying to put a page together for each of the teams that moved. Not a major project just one I’ve enjoyed keeping an eye out for as I accumulate other cards.

Four horizontal cards including a pair of designs in the World Series and  Thumpers cards I’ve not encountered before. I also need to mention that the ERA Leaders card is one of the rare instances of a player showing up in a set which he doesn’t officially appear in due to retirement. In this case, Koufax retired after 1966, has no 1967 card, but does show up in a couple of the Leaders cards.

The rest of the 1967s give me a good start on completing my new colorwheel project. One of the things I’ve found myself missing as a team collector is seeing all the different colors of cards in a set. This is especially something I miss in the more colorful sets but even something as minimally designed as 1967 the colors jump out at me and my Giants pages look like an awful lot of green.

1967 features team names in cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, green, red, purple, orange, and light purple. With this batch I’m over halfway to putting them into a page. Current plan is to colorwheel around the outside of the page with whatever color doesn’t fit in the center. Since most of these colors are printer-simple solid process colors this will be a fun way to see how so many of Topp’s colors come up year after year.

Jeff also included a signed copy of his book (making this a Split Season 1981 from @splitseason1981 mailday). I’ve been meaning to read this for a while and what better time to do so than when I don’t plan on leaving the house for two weeks.

A couple more items include a beat-to-hell-and-back 1967 McCovey poster that’s going to turn into a four-panel puzzle if I breathe on it and a kids book from 1982 about the Giants.

I love the poster and its photography. Pretty sure McCovey never took a bad photo when it came to baseball cards. There’s also some of the “turn the background into cyan-only sky” effect going on with how much of the bating cage is being printed in just cyan ink.

The book is pretty great and the boys have already grabbed it to look through. I especially like the bright colorful cover with the baseball as tennis ball photo treatment.

Back to cards. Two 1971 Topps cards take my 1971 team set needs down to missing only one for completion. Unfortunately it’s the high-numbered Willie Mays card. I’ll get it eventually. I just need to be patient until one drops  into my price range.

Destined for the same binder as the 1967 Jim Nash card, here were five 1972 Rangers to take me to eight Rangers for my page of first-year Rangers cards. This is an ugly team set with most of the cards featuring the same up-the-nose photo coupled with blood-red airbrushed caps. Ted Kubiak is a nice change of pace as he gets the same hatless treatment that he got on his 1968 A’s card.

I should probably consider adding a page of 1973 Rangers (as well as 2nd year cards for the other new teams) just to show the new uniforms.

And finally, two Fleer Famous Feats and a panel of baseball stamps from back when it only cost 39¢ to mail a letter. I have yet to get into the Laughlin cards that Fleer released in the 1970s. I haven’t avoided them, I just haven’t gotten into them. I do like adding them to the binder though and they’ll keep Cy Young company.

Thanks Jeff. The hobby, and the community around it, is going to help me keep my sanity over these coming weeks. Stay safe and good luck completing your 1967 football build.

Getting closer

Jeff Katz (@SplitSeason1981) has been in the process of upgrading his sets (I had sent him a few upgrade cards as part a previous trade) and generously offered to fill a few of the holes in my Giants wantlist with some of his now-replaced cards.

Because these are fairly low-grade cards condition-wise, they fall into the kind of hole where the value-to-shipping price ratio means that they aren’t really sellable online except as part of a large batch. This makes them perfect mailday cards since people like me are more than happy to get them for the cost of shipping.

Two 1968 League Leader cards featuring Giants. McCormick kind of amazingly lead the league in wins in 1967. McCovey meanwhile is further down the Home Run chart and has been relegated to a super-tiny photo on the card.

These two cards mean I’m now only missing three cards from this year’s Giants team set. Two of those three (NL Strikeout Leaders and the Juan Marichal checklist) are pretty cheap. The third on the other hand is the Killebrew, Mantle, and Mays card. Not cheap at all.

The good news though is that I’m done with the base cards and can now consider re-sorting everything from being alphabetical by last name to an order which is more representative of the Giants’ 1968 season. Whether this is by lineup order or something else is what I still need to figure out although going by lineup order will be tough since the only second baseman in the checklist spent the entire 1968 season in the minors.

The 1969 cards are more interesting. This time Marichal led the league in wins and the three-player leaders card is nowhere near as busy as the four-player 1968 cards. The Giants Heroes card is wonderful in how it looks like they’re just having a lot of fun.

The McCovey All Star though is my favorite of the batch. It’s a great design which holds up despite being pretty beat up. It’s interesting how much more accepting I am of beat up cards of star players. Some of this is purely value-based reasons where I know the beat up cards are all I can afford. But with the stars there’s also a sense that they were used more—whether put on display, traded, carried around, etc.—instead of being dumped in a shoebox or flipped on the playground.

These three take me to needing just five from that year. My 1969 needs are much more consistent with what I expect my entire wantlist to eventually look like: Hall of Famers (in this case just Mays and Marichal) and high numbers (including the double-whammy of a high-numbered rookie in Bobby Bonds). In fact most of my 1960–1973* want list at this point is close to this level of completeness. 1962 and 1963 are the only years where I have a lot of commons left to get.

*1973 being the last year of high numbers and the 1950s being a completely different level of collecting for me.

That I tend to leave the most-expensive cards for last means that this kind of low-grade help is tough to come by. I’m glad Jeff was able to help and it’s always fun to get a team set this close to the finish line.

 

1973 Mailday

A small mailday from Jeff Katz (@SplitSeason1981) prompted by his recent SABR post where he was looking for trading partners. Jeff’s looking for 1960s cards and has a ton of 1970s cards. I’m not a good fit as my collection is heavily 1987–1993 and I’m both looking for anything before then and have pretty much nothing from then.

That SABR post turned into a chance to send Jeff all of our wants and haves and, since I do have a few duplicates from my eBay acquisitions it turned out that Jeff and I could still do a small trade. So we sent off our respective plain white envelopes loaded with a couple cards and this is what I got.

1973 Topps

1973 is one of the team sets I can actually see feasibly completing* so anything which gets me closer to that goal is always greatly appreciated. I am really digging that Garry Maddox card even with the tilted horizon.

*Between the high numbers and Willie Mays I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to able to complete anything before 1970.

Also, the Boyhood Photos of the Stars card is one which I was really intrigued by when I was a kid. This is partly because Chris Speier had just returned to the Giants when I came onboard as a fan and the idea that he’d been with the team 15 years earlier fascinated me. But I also really liked the idea of seeing what the ballplayers looked like when they were my age.

This is a subset or idea that I’d love to see in a set like Topps Bunt which is aimed and priced for kids. I can totally see my sons having a lot of fun with it.