MLB Cut4’s Michael Clair is a friend of mine (at least he was until I wrote this article), and he’s one of the best people I’ve ever met. He’s fun, has a genuine enthusiasm for the truly bizarre and can hold your interest on a subject just with his excitement. He loves baseball ephemera, which includes baseball cards.
Maybe some of you collected baseball cards growing up like I did, but my card collecting heyday was 1987-1992. And even then, I was really only interested in Giants cards. Although, all of my friends were A’s fans, so I remember amassing a bunch of A’s cards to trade them for whatever Giants cards they had. Being the Good A’s fans that they were, they usually messed the card up before trading with me or they just threw it out.
Oh — anyway, what was I saying? Ah yes. Good person Michael Clair (seriously, he’s a blast) put together a series for last week’s National Baseball Card Day and got some noted baseball card fans to go through each era of Topps cards since 1951 (so, the 50s-2010s) and give some commentary about their favorite cards from the era.
Of course the Giants pop up throughout the years, and while I’m going to once again highlight this text with the hyperlink so that you can go read the series for yourself, here are a few of the cards that caught my eye.
Duane Kuiper’s 1979 card
Joe Posnanski handled the survey of the 1970s and ended it with the card for his favorite player wearing his favorite version of the Cleveland team’s cap. I have no recollection of ever seeing this particular style of uniform, even though I feel like I’ve seen this card before, but I must agree that this is a sharp uniform and a style of “C” they should bring back. Also, it’s pretty clear from this picture that Duane Kuiper could get it during his playing days.
Mantle & Mays in 1962
The Mariners’ underrated play-by-play broadcaster Dave Sims looked at the cards of the 1960s, and pulled this one out of the pile for the obvious reason that it featured two of the greatest to ever play the game. That’s true, of course, but it’s also true that Willie Mays’ Hall of Fame style is doing a lot of the heavy lifting here because Mantle looks stiff.
The Barry Bonds Etch A Sketch Card of 1998
Yahoo Sports’ Mike Oz, host of the “Old Baseball Cards” show, says of this era of cards, ““In retrospect, there is a lot of funky ‘90s stuff that I don’t know if we appreciate enough.”
That’s true. It’s the 20th anniversary of this miraculous card that I didn’t even know existed until I read the article. I did a cursory search for news related to the card and mostly found eBay postings, but I really was hoping to find an article on the Chronicle from Hank Schulman or John Shea where they asked Bonds about this Etch A Sketch card.
It’s incredible, and now I’m wondering if the Giants shouldn’t figure out a way to slap together one last promotion for their 60th anniversary celebration where they generate Etch A Sketch cards for key figures in team history.
This card was part of a series of cards featuring Etch A Sketches of key players of the day. Cleveland artist George Vlasich (18 years old at the time!) made them. He’s a Cleveland area artist. Get him on the horn, Giants!
Those are just a few of the cards that caught my eye, but there are many others and you should go take a look when you have a spare minute.
In the meantime, please note that in the course of searching the SB Nation-approved photo tool for a headline image, I found under the search term “Topps” some Garbage Pail Kids cards and this one gave me a chuckle (okay, they all made me chuckle, but this one was first):