Vintage Star PWEs

One of the things that’s starting to happen over on Card Twitter is that guys will celebrate a player’s birthday* by showing off a page or two worth of his cards of not his complete Topps run. This is always cool to see but also frequently serves to remind me how my focus on Giants has left me with a collection that has basically none of the memorable players from the 60s and 70s.

*or as has been happening a depressing amount of the time recently, his passing.

Last week I made a comment about this regarding Dick Allen and Matthew Castelhano (@Mattypabst) immediately suggested that this needed to be rectified. Matthew is another collector who spends a lot of his time with pre-war cards of all sorts and we’ve compared notes and been bad influences on each other in terms of pointing out cool sets that are worth lusting after. He’s also a member of the group of us which are passively collecting cards of every player who broke a team’s colorline.

A couple days ago the envelope showed up and inside was this 1976 Topps Dick Allen card. Allen is in the last years of his career here and has returned to the Phillies after three years of being an All Star in Chicago. I’d still like to get a card of him from the 1960s but it’s great to have one card of  a player who’s on the shortlist of players who are the larges absences from the Hall of Fame.

Matthew packed the Allen with three other cards including a couple more which also represent firsts in my binder. I have Yastrzemskis from 1978 and 1983 but none from his true peak years. This 1968 Topps Game card doesn’t get more peak as it comes after his MVP season. Winning the Triple Crown and MVP in 1967 put Yaz on the same level as Mantle and Aaron in this game, only trailing Clemente, Killebrew, Frank Robinson, and Mays.

Boog Powell is another star who I have no cards of. This 1970 comes from his MVP season and features a very 1970 photo taken a Yankee stadium with the random players in the background. It’s always nice to see the frieze though. I was also unaware that Boog’s full name is actually John Wesley Powell. That’s quite a dude to be named after.

Matthew apologized for the condition of the Yaz and Boog cards but they’re as good, if not better than the kind of cards I buy.

The last card in the envelope was a 2019 Heritage Candy Lid of Buster Posey. I love getting cards like this in the mail since while I would never buy them. I do very much enjoy putting them in the binder.

The same day Matthew’s envelope came I also received one from Tim Jenkins. The big item inside was a postcard of Steve Whitaker. I think Tim’s printing these himself and a lot of us have been getting them. I got a Whitake postcard because he played 16 games for the Giants in 1970 (he also  got a 1970 Topps card)

Also in the envelope were a pair of cards including my first vintage Bob Gibson—another player I had mentioned online about not having any vintage of. This isn’t a 1960s card from when he was dominating everyone but it’s a very nice looking card with the blue border contrasting nicely with the red jacket while both the jersey design and jacket design are visible. There’s an added bonus here in that an under-construction Candlestick is visible in the background.

The 1974 checklist meanwhile is in really good shape. I have this already but I’m pretty sure mine is marked and beat up since I refuse to spend more money for an unmarked checklist.

Very cool guys and thanks for helping me get a more representative binder.

Thanks USPS

So I moved a year and a half ago. Which means that among other things I had to set up mail forwarding and notified people of my address change. Still I expected some people to send things to my old address. I did not however expect USPS to lose packages for months though.

But that’s exactly what happened. Last April, Matt Prigge sent me a package and it never got forwarded to my current address. I drove over to my old address mid-summer, swung through the garage, and saw that my old mailbox had been taped shut with forwarding information stickered to it. So I figured it would come eventually.

No dice.

Then last month a couple other people sent us packages addressed to the old address. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to swing by again. Mail forwarding had expired but according to our old neighbors no one had moved into the apartment yet. So I drive by and found a ton of mail in the mailbox including the packagaes that had been misaddressed last month, a plain white envelope that I wasn’t expecting to find there, and buried at the bottom of the mailbox, Matt’s package from April.

Yeah. Instead of forwarding it apparently USPS saved it for when forwarding expires and then redelivered it to my old address. Oh well. Better late than never. Let’s take a look.

Matt’s package was mostly modern cards but there were these two 1972s in the pile. There are a lot of Giants whose cards look exactly like Carrithers’s (a card I’ve gotten signed) but the Jerry Johnson is a fun stadium photo which stands out in the team set. I’m slowly working through the giants on this set but the high numbers are killing me. No idea how people do a complete set of these.

Moving more recently, a team set if 1987 Topps Traded is very nice and a bunch of 1995 Upper Deck SP is kind of amazing in that it’s only a year after I stopped collecting cards but looks completely different than anything I remember collecting. Also the Bond diecut is pretty fun.

I’m going to assume that this 1993 Matt Williams is a TTM request. Williams was a decent signer for a while but I never sent to him since he moved to Korea before I was ready to do so. I did get his autograph back in 1989 but it’s nice to have a signed card from his years as a genuine star of the team as well.

1997 Fleer and 1999 Pacific Omega make for an interesting pair. Fleer on its uncoated paper stock is always a nice change of pace while Pacific is always doing something crazy. I  this case Pacific has applied a halftone texture to the foil stamping which duplicates the portrait image on the card.  It’s a super-coarse screen but it’s an interesting effect despite all the loss of detail.

The other two cards here are a 2011 Topps Lineage 1975 mini parallel and a god only knows what Topps was intending red parallel form 2011 Heritage Minor League. The 75 mini works better than the “Venezuelan” in that it’s actually a mini and uses the 1975 design. Topps’s common backs for these meant that the spanish-language back is underwhelming.

Last batch of cards in the package were these modern ones which as usual includes a lot of cards from sets I never buy. Very cool Matt. I’m glad this turned up even if it was over five months late.

Also stuffed into my old mailbox was a package from Tim Jenkins. I’m still meting out cards from his last box to the boys but this package was aimed more at my interests.

We’ll start off with the heavy hitter. Topps was “nice” and made Willie Mays a high number in both 1970 and 1971. This took what I thought would be more easily-attainable Mays cards and turned them into trouble. Mays is of course always hard but adding high numbers into the mix is insult upon injury.

Tim had this lower-grade sample sitting in a display case and generously offered to send it to me.* I was a bit sad when the package seemed to go missing and was very happy when I found it again.

*I will always be happy to receive a lower grade Willie Mays card.

Much to my surprise there were other cards inside. Two Globe Imports cards are indeed as bad as advertised. Nice to have a couple samples. I have no desire to add more. Three Laughlin cards included my first black back though are very cool. I haven’t been actively looking for these but now I’m thinking I should at least get the Giants cards.

This Ron Hunt confused me because I had no idea what it was from. I’ve since found out that it’s from the 1969 Milton Bradley baseball game. Twitter to the rescue. And yes it’s a shame that there’s no hit by pitch option on his results since that was Hunt’s core competency.

A handful of 1975 Minis are always welcome. I’m not seeking these out either but I kind of love them. I also love all the pocket schedules. Between these, the ones, Cliff sent, and my own from my childhood, I now have schedules from 1978 to 1993 except for 1981.

I didn’t collect these as a kid as much as just accumulated them but I’ve fond myself really enjoying them since they include a lot of other great information such as ticket prices and promotions which is hard to find online.

And lastly Tim included a Supreme Court Sluggers card of Arthur Goldberg and Marvin Miller, a commemorative pin for Barry Bonds’s 600th homer run, and a 1979 Baseball Digest featuring Jack Clark on the cover. I think I like the Supreme Court Sluggers card most for its weirdness but the Baseball Digest reminded me of how that was the first sports magazine I ever had a subscription to.

I no longer have my copies so I don’t remember exactly when I had a subscription. But that was a fun magazine to get and read and flipping through this copy brought back a lot of memories. Things don’t seem to have changed much by the time I was a kid in the late 1980s. The next decade though is nearly unrecognizable. Thanks Tim for the trip down memory lane.

And finally there was a plain white envelope from a different Tim. Nothing super fancy but this Buster Posey National Baseball Day card is a nice addition. I only got one pack this year and yeah, Posey was not among my cards.

Last National Baseball Card Day in general was a bit of a disappointment. The “local” shops aren’t as nice as the ones in the Bay Area and one didn’t even have any inventory due to the storm.

It  wasn’t just that we weren’t able to get a bunch of packs, there was nothing for the kids to buy. For a promotion which is designed to get kids into card shops, Topps did a piss poor job coordinating its product release schedule to be kid friendly. The only stuff for sale were packs of Chrome starting at $10 for a pack of four cards. Major fail.

Anyway, thanks (other) Tim! Hopefully everyone has updated their address books now.

A huge box from the Pacific Northwest

For about a month we were all moved in to our new house. Then school started and the POD we shipped across the country with all the stuff that’s been eating up room at our parents’ houses for the past couple decades arrived and I’ve been swamped sorting and getting up to speed in the new routine.

All of which means I’ve been behind a bit in the photography and in the keeping on top of trade posts. And I’m way behind in museum writeups from last summer as well. I will get to all of those soon enough but first the trade posts since I like to acknowledge those as soon as I possibly can.

Last week I got a box from Tim Jenkins. I was expecting a box. I was not expecting this large of one. Tim had said he was sending a bunch of cards—most of would be earmarked for the boys—but I was woefully unprepared for what constituted a bunch. I think Tim’s card room must have exploded and is trying to establish beachheads in other collections around the country.

Anyway I’ll start at the top and work down.

Right on top of the box when I opened it was a big padded envelope which I almost tossed as packaging but was optimistic smart enough to look inside just in case. Inside a was hiding a large Stanford pennant. It’s one of the old-style floppy felt ones. Not sure where I’ll hang it up yet but there’s defintely a place for it in the house somewhere.

Under that were a pair of kids shirseys which look like they were stadium giveaways at some point or another. These are fun—especially on the East Coast where all of us West Coast fans have to band together for support since none of our teams get covered out here.

It was especially nice to get the King Felix jersey in time for his last game with the Mariners. My eldest briefly considered wearing it that day too.

There was also a large toploader filled with a selection of oversized stuff. Two 8×10s, one from a 1990 photo pack, the other a 1997 Donruss Studio Portrait. The 1990 Mitchell is a lot of fun. I have the 1989 pack of four—Kevin Mitchell, Will Clark, Robby Thompson,* and Rick Reuschel—but never got any others. It’s great to see that other years exist and to add them to the collection.

*Robby signed his in Philadelphia.

The Bonds portrait meanwhile functions as a proper card and makes me wonder were that limit is of when these things stop counting as cards. In many ways these 8×10s feel too large. In many other ways they function exactly as the original trading cards functioned where they’re recognizable images that are intended to be traded or pasted into albums.

Moving into the non-card realm is a photograph of Willie Mays at the 1956 Hall of Fame Game. This is a cool image capturing the grace of Mays’s follow-through as well as the intimate setting of the game. This is no MLB stadium but is instead a basic grandstand without even a proper dugout.

It’s also an interesting comparison with the previous two cards. Where those two feel like baseball cards, this photo does not. And it’s not the card stock part but rather the nature of the image itself. It’s not a Baseball Card™ image even though it would work fine in Stadium Club or a 1970s Calbee set.

Anyway to another oversize item, this time an 5½×8½ card of Barry Zito from the Hutch Awards. I gather that Tim attends these each year. Looks like a very nice cause and the list of honorees includes a number of good guys. This is kind of an awful size for collecting since it’s too small for a single-pocket page and too large for two-pockets but it’s still a nice piece.

Tim also included a card from this year’s awards since Stephen Piscotty is part of my Stanford collection.Thankfully the Piscotty card is the regular-size of 2½×3½ inches although the design feels like it’s intended to be a bit larger. It’s a great addition to the Stanford Album though. I’ll take whatever oddballs I can find for that.

Before we get to the cards proper, there’s a bit of assorted ephemera to get through. The postcard looks like it’s from the early 1960s (still about the stadium being new plus there’s no hint of expansion, artificial turf, or the 49ers) and is very cool. I’m a sucker for old postcards but I like them to be of places I not only know but have strong ties to. Candlestick definitely fits that bill.

The pocket schedules are from the 1990s plus 2007. I especially like the 1997 one because it shows the view I had from my seats in Upper Reserve Section  8. There’s a reason I’v been taking my kids to games from this same viewpoint.

The last item here is an oversize Kevin Frandsen card of unknown origin. Tim’s sent me a couple others of these but they were freebies from an Ebay seller so none of us has any idea where they came from.

Last bit of ephemera are a handful of pins and buttons. Perry and McCovey are from Chevon stations in the early 1990s. I have a few of them as well. Clark Trillo and Davis are Fun Food Buttons from 1984/85 and are a cool little release that’s fun to have even while I wonder how to store them.

I love the 1989 Division Champion button. I don’t remember seeing these but the thing about winning the pennant is that no one cares about winning the division. I have a few 1989 World Series pins but none of them are the A’s World Champion ones. I’m just glad that the 2002 World Series pin doesn’t commemorate the Angels the same way. That loss still hurts despite the success that arrived eight years later.

To the cards, starting off with the Pilots. Because of course. I’m slowly collecting these because of both the single year thing and Ball Four. Tim meanwhile is the expert on all things Pilots on Twitter so having a few Pilots in the package is sort of obligatory.

And finally to the cards proper, starting off with a bunch of well-loved vintage Giants which Tim pulled out of packs 50 years ago. Most of these will make their way into my kids’ collections. I’ve already started them off with their first batch.

It amazes me that they have cards which are almost 60 years old. I wasn’t even collecting cards at my youngest’s age and at my eldest’s age my oldest card was from 1979. This worked back to 1972 and eventually, 1960 so they’re way way way ahead of me in this department. At least they’re properly thankful about it and have shown me their oldest cards a couple times (a day) since I gave it them their stacks.*

*At the same time they’re now talking about how they don’t have any “real” New York Giants cards and yeah I had to remind them that I didn’t get my first New York Giants card until I was 39 years old.

Some more well-loved vintage which shows off how the 1969 Giants cards were not too awful given the photography shenanigans of the 1969 set. Only Monbouquette is a “typical” 1969 card. The rest, even if from older photo sessions, look pretty nice.

I snagged the Bolin for my own collection since I only have the white-letter version but the rest of these are marked for delivery to the boys.

Continuing into the 70s with the well-loved vintage and two great Tito Fuentes cards. My eldest wants a Tito headband card but I suspect he’ll like these ones too. Both boys really like the 1972 design because it’s so colorful. I remember being the same when I was their age.

More 1970s for their collections. The Marichal isn’t technically a Giants card but I’m going to slide it into my album anyway. The rest of the 1974s are pretty great. The Maddox is a big hit and they appreciate how classic this design looks.

Flashing forward 15 years to the first half of the 1990s. Most of these I have. Most of them the boys do not. But the Minor League cards are fun and a decent number of the Leafs were cards I never snagged too.

More 1990s. Metal Universe is a trip but I’m kind of liking these ones with their Bay Area landscapes. The boys aren’t as impressed with the uncoated Fleer cards as I am though.

To the early 2000s cards—many of which I didn’t have. So many sets, so hard to keep on top of all if them. I can’t imagine what it was like at the time. Now at least 15 years later I can at least pick and choose what I like and do research about what I want to pursue.

So like 2003 Fleer I dig not only because it’s nice to see the 1963 design get used in a full-size set but also because Fleer updated the position icon so it’s not merely a copy.

And finally a few more-recent Giants cards. Not much to say about these except that that Playoff Prestige Santiago card doesn’t have any obvious information saying it was manufactured by Donruss and that kind of weirded me out.

Also I feel like the Turkey Red cards are something Topps kept trying to make a thing and they never took off. It’s interesting to me how some of the retro looks have become hugely popular and others just have not.

Moving on to some odds and ends. Eight 7-Eleven coins from both the East and Central regions. Very much my jam. I only have the Atlee Hammaker from this year too so these are very much appreciated.

The DiMaggio Upper Deck insert is from the 2000s but it reminds me of the ones from my youth. I always enjoy DIY traded cards like this one of Jesus Alou and I love being that have another Free Agent Draft playing card.

Three Stanford guys for the album. I don’t explicitly collect Woods but he’ll always have a place in the album. I kind of love the Lonborg with its canted horizon that places him upright in the frame. And the McCarty Pacific is one of my favorite Pacific designs in that it just doesn’t look like any other cards that have been made.

At the bottom of the box were a bunch of boxes of cards. One held assorted commons from various sets. A few were of extremely fun kid-appropriate sets like Pacific Legends, Panini Cooperstown, and Panini Golden Age which feature players from the past and have backs with wonderful short biographies.

The stacks of 1990 Fleer and 1991 Donruss which yielded a couple cards for my set builds. The Score oddballs are cards I never encountered as a child. And there was a decent stack of 1989 Topps Traded.

Another box held a 60-percent complete 1991 Leaf set. It was even collated. I’m not sure how I’m going to divide this up. Maybe it’ll become a project for the both of them to work on. I liked 1990 Leaf. I also like 1992 Leaf. This one’s always a bit of an afterthought. I kind of like the photo-corners look but I can see why it’s not to everyone’s taste.

the last box held a ton of 2004 Total. Uncollated. I still haven’t sorted this aside from pulling out Stanford guys for my collection and guys who might be coaches in the Eastern League (Paul Abbott and Micheal Tejera) next season.

I also sorted out the inserts, parallels, Hall of Famers, and Giants to make dividing these up a bit easier. This sets’s way to huge to collect and has way too many obscure players to just divide things up thoughtlessly. At least with stars and shiny stuff the kids should be somewhat happy with the fairness.

Whew. That was a lot of stuff. Thanks Tim! It already looks like it will be generating many happy days for the kids over the next months.

Tim Jenkins Mailday

In a similar vein to Mark Hoyle, Tim Jenkins is another collector from the generation before me who helpfully offered to send me some 1978 duplicates for my set build. Tim’s a prolific blogger over at SABR, is extremely helpful in terms of just being aware of sets and weird card-related items, and his personal collection is intimidatingly impressive.

Tim’s mailday was indeed 1978-focused. Lou Piniella needs a better-fitting cap. I like that Fregosi card even if the two-tone pinstripes on the 1970s Pirates uniforms weird me out. In any case they’re not as bad as those White Sox uniforms with the floppy collars, circus lettering on the jerseys, and futuristic lettering on the caps.

I also just noticed that Larry Hisle is missing the stitches on his ball. As a Rick Reuschel fan it always amuses me to come across a card of his brother. And the Elias Sosa card is a nice shot of Candlestick.

Tim’s mailday resulted in my first two complete pages too. It’s always fun to turn the corner on a set project and reach the point where any new acquisitions have a decent chance of completing a page.

The fist page got completed by Chris Knapp and is pretty pedestrian. A nice spring training shot of Dave May. A nice Candlestick shot of Jerry Turner. Larry Milbourne’s photo features the 1977 Mariners first-year road jerseys which got changed in 1978. Rick Dempsey is probably the best card here and I like how it looks like he’s about to swing the bat at his position.

The second page—completed by Buzz Capra—is mainly notable for the Rod Carew card. The position-indicator baseball is so generic that it’s the reason why for a long time, I found the 1978 set to be boring. The cards with the All Star shield show how awesome the rest of the design is and as I’ve looked at the set more and more I’ve found myself just appreciating other aspects of the design as well—in particular, the photography is frequently nice and the custom lettering is very well done.

Tim also sent a bunch of 1986 Topps cards. This was a set from which I accumulated a number of cards when I was a kid and have also decided to try and build. It’s one of Topps’s most-distinct designs and very much reminds me of my first year in the hobby in 1987 when packs of 1986 were still readily available.*

*One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in the current incarnation of the hobby is how products are all designed to sell out in a few weeks rather than be ever-present on shelves.

Robin Yount and Keith Hernandez are big names here. I also appreciate the Hernandez Record Breaker with his helmet levitating off his head. The most interesting card to me though is the Valenzuela Turn Back the Clock card since it features a 1981 Topps card that never existed. His flagship card was a multi-player rookie card and his Traded card featured a different pose.

Tim threw in some additional unexpected bonus items as well. There was a handful of well-loved vintage Topps. 1963 is a set I really like in its peak-60s nature. 1967 is classic. The 1968 Topps game is always fun. And 1972 In Actions are a fun reminder of how far we’ve come with sports and baseball card photography.

A bunch of more-recent oddballs and things. I always had a soft spot for those oversized 1989 Bowmans even though the Bowman logo is goofy and the red border a bit much. But I like the big photo and having just the signature without ay player name.* I’m just trying to remember if the printing always looked like it had been left out in the sun a tad too long.

*As someone who generally dislikes signatures on the fronts of cards this is one of the few sets which I like in spite of myself.

The 1981 Drake’s Jack Clark is one I do not have. Being a West Coast kid I never encountered Drake’s Cakes. Heck, when Wreck-it Ralph made a Devil Dogs joke I just thought that was something they’d made up. The Ted Williams sets are likewise something I never encountered as a kid. I love the McCovey Post food-issue card (bring back food issues!) and the Panini Cooperstown cards are a lot of fun. Yes, Cepeda is technically a Cardinal on the checklist but he’ll always be a Giant to me.

Saving the best for last. The two black and white cards are something about which Tim knows nothing. This does not happen.* It’s kind of cool that such a thing can still happen nowadays since everything appears to be documented online now. That one of those cards is Dan Ortmeier suggests that these have to be from 2005–2008** but other than that I’ve been able to turn up nothing online.

*We’re just talking about cards here folks.

**I’m making the assumption that no one would make an Ortmeier card unless he was currently playing for the team.

Which brings us to the Alan Gallagher. At first glance this looks like another well-loved vintage card. That “200” though means that this is no mere baseball card but is instead a part of Tim’s childhood game of Free Agent Draft. I loved reading about the creativity in rolling his own board game like this and I’m quite flattered to be entrusted with part of Tim’s childhood. It’s one thing to give away cards you pulled from packs way back then. It’s quite another to dispose of something you made.

Chain letter

A cautionary tale about what can happen if you start trading cards with unsavory characters you’ve met on the internet…

One week later…

Serves me right for making the suggestion. Although it is appropriate to send him to Princeton. I’ll have to find someone in Texas to mail this to next.

Oh, and Mark also sent me a bunch of 1979 Topps Giants cards. I didn’t photograph those since I suspect they were mainly an excuse to send me this ghastly piece of cardboard. But old Giants cards are always welcome!