There’s still about two dozen unposted folders, each representing a trade or pickup of some sort, in my scans file, and another three trades (albeit small ones) came in today, which brings me up to four on the year. I also need to write a couple larger recap posts – the State of the Blog address, of course, and another very interesting discovery (which if you follow me on Twitter you will already know about).
But, I wanted to jump ahead in the scans file and slightly backward in time to highlight the last package that arrived in 2018 – a most excellent one from Nick Vossbrink. For starters, he sent me this fabulous 1988 Topps rookie cup card of my beloved Casey Candaele. Sure, I already have one in the little Casey PC, but now I have a swell early card of him to send in the next TTM request I post his way. After all, I need to send him one of my 1992 Bowman customs with the photos from the infamous 29-day road trip (thanks RNC).
Sure, Casey wasn’t a phenomenal ballplayer in retrospect, but in my childhood he was a king to me. He was among the first baseball players that I met in the flesh – at Astros FanFest prior to the 1992 season, and I still have a ball signed by him, Jeff Bagwell, and Craig Biggio. Plus, you have to love someone who used to take BP in nothing but a helmet and cleats.
What I love about the Candaele card and these two excellent Rifleman subset cards from the 1991 Score set is the fact that it shows the mark of someone who pays attention ’round these parts. Nick clearly dove into my want lists at some point and found these – I’ve been slowly putting together the Rifleman / K-Man / Master Blaster subset since I got back to the hobby. Thanks to this and one of the trades that came in today, I’m just missing the Erik Hanson card.
Another sure sign of someone who pays attention: these two generic team cards. That’s an ’89 Fleer box card and an ’88 Fleer team sticker (complete with Astrodome back!). Sure, I have both of these already as well, but as Nick correctly observed, they make excellent autograph hunting fodder. I shall put them to good use.
The most fantastic Astros pickups in the package were these: a slew of twenty-four Topps Micro cards, all but one coming from the 1991 Topps set. That’s a near-complete run of the 1991 team set as well, missing just Gerald Young, Juan Agosto, and Al Osuna – the last of whom I’m sure Nick hung onto as he’s a Stanford guy. I’m curious how that 1992 Jimmy Jones wound up in here, though.
Nick also surprised me with a pair of photographer-centric cards. He and I are both lensmen and have gotten into some nice photographic discussions. He’s been working on these Iooss inserts from 1993 Upper Deck longer than I have, but thanks to him I finally broke down and added them to my want lists. I am now one card closer in my quest thanks to this Tim Salmon.
The other card was from the V.J. Lovero inserts in 1996 Upper Deck. I’ve seen the famous Mike Piazza and Randy Johnson cards before, but hadn’t ever delved into this little insert set until Nick brought them to my attention. One down, eighteen more to go!
But my favorite portion of the package? That title belongs to some super-special cards indeed.
You see, Nick threw in some of his phenomenal customs as well. First up was a nonet of these great Vossbrink specials. These were some early customs of his, an alternate universe revision of the 1956 Topps design, but with a vertical bar (and vertical format!) containing the logo/player name/position. There were two more I couldn’t fit in the scan.My favorites of these are the horizontals – a superb wide batting shot of Austin Jackson, two great post-swing shots on the Posey and Longoria cards, and a beautiful play at the plate featuring Joe Panik.
Oh, and these are puzzle backs! I’m assuming this is a Vossbrink original shot from a trip to AT&T Park.
Those weren’t the only customs in the bunch, either! Nick also sent a trio from his GiantsNOW project. I have to hand it to Nick, he’s a large reason that I’m carrying my set through completion (I finished the cards for games 120-124 today), and a giant (pardon the pun) inspiration for me throughout the process. This set of cards features his two highlights (well, lowlights) for the Astros pair of two-game sweeps in their four 2018 games against San Francisco. The final one is, of course, from the infamous shot of MadBum stiff-arming Alex Hanson’s attempt to douse him in the postgame celebration. It’s an excellent card, made even better by the laughing Hunter Pence, Hanson’s “oh shit” expression, and the fact that it’s a video screengrab but the image quality holds up nicely.
These are the backs. If you’ve seen my season customs (which I’ve dubbed Starchives), they’ll no doubt look familiar. Nick was kind enough to provide me with his template, which became the basis for my back designs. Well, I essentially ripped them off, but with a few tweaks.
The final batch of customs was this totally tubular group of Giants players wearing downright ridiculous sweatshirts that Brandon Crawford bought for everyone during the season. Nick had shared these photos on Twitter and I believe I made mention that they were just screaming for customs. He went all-out and designed his own spectacular backgrounds in the mode of the ’91-’92 Skybox basketball cards. He described his process on Twitter as “[I] just gradiented the fuck out of funny shapes and used a lot of diagonal lines.” It definitely works!
And these even have backs as well, with pull-quotes from Crawford about the selection of sweatshirts. I love these.
Thanks for the nifty package, Nick, and all of the inspiration. I’ve given myself a January deadline to finish off my customs – 46 more games (playoffs make it 170 total) and a bunch of roster cards to go.