Sunday, April 9, 2017

Typophiles And Wall Shots

I have never met anyone who calls themselves a typophile.
Okay, that took forever to type. You ever try typing something while changing fonts every single letter?

Shane from Off The Wall Cards -- another Red Sox guy in the blogosphere -- calls himself a typophile on his Twitter biography. I suppose that it makes sense that a graphic designer like Shane would pay special attention to fonts. Here at Off Hiatus, I tend to swap fonts from post to post amongst the few choices we get -- using Arial, Georgia, Helvetica, and Times more often than not with Trebuchet and Verdana sometimes appearing and Courier showing up only if I've totally screwed up.  

I've never liked Courier.

Perhaps it is telling about me, though, that I have watched a movie about a font in the past. Have any of you seen Helvetica? No, seriously, it really is a movie about the font.

Okay, enough about fonts for now. Shane is a great guy to follow on Twitter, and that is where he and I first interacted. I still owe him a follow-up package -- blame it on malaise and work -- but I've got one cooking right now. It just needs to marinate.

Being a graphic designer, Shane dabbles in making custom cards. He sent me one, in fact, that surprised me at how authentic it looks:

Making custom cards is a time when being a typophile must be helpful. Topps and Panini seem to miss that fact from time to time -- going for "good enough" over "authentic" at times such as the redone 1983 Donruss that Panini did this year (their font for player names is too condensed). We collectors see that stuff and cringe.

Of course, this is a card that never existed, and it could only have existed if Topps had done a Traded/Update set in 1977. Wynn started 1977 as a member of the New York Yankees. He was released by the Yankees in July, and the Brewers picked him up two weeks later. In his day, the "Toy Cannon" did a lot of little things well without being a standout at any one thing. He never had a batting average over .282, yet he had two seasons where his OBP was over .400, including his 1969 season when he slashed at .269/.436/.507 while stealing 23 bases (and walking 148 times, 14 intentional).

Now, that was the only custom in the package, but the mailer was packed with great cards that need just a little bit of Boston music to go with it...some mighty music, in fact.

When you mention the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the first song most people think of is this one -- "The Impression That I Get." It's a fun, upbeat ska song that brought the Bosstones national prominence in the alternative rock scene around the time that swing music got popular too. The Bosstones have such a great horn section that it's tough not to like them for a band geek like me.

Shane started out strong by sending some vintage Braves cards my way. I can't say that I had ever heard of or even contemplated the existence of Humberto Robinson before getting this card. Robinson was a Panamanian pitcher whom the Boston Braves signed. In 1954, he put up silly numbers in the Sally League: 23-8, 2.41 ERA in 276 innings. Right around the 1959 season's start, though, the Braves shipped him to Cleveland for the 41-year-old Mickey Vernon. Robinson passed away in 2009 at the age of 79.

Haas missed all of the 1959 season with an injury. He had come up in the Cubs system but then was traded before the 1958 season to the Braves. He only appeared in 55 total major league games over three seasons as a player, and then managed the Atlanta Braves for 121 games in 1985.

Chuck Dressen is part of one of my favorite jokes from the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. The joke came in his discussion about rating all-time third basemen. Boston Braves coach Tom Daly made a joke about the fact that the 1931 Cincinnati Reds would have to build a screen around third base. When asked why be a reporter, Daly dead-panned, "Well, I don't think the fans want to see Joe Stripp or Charlie Dressen . . ."

While "The Impression That I Get" got much more airplay, I preferred "The Rascal King." It was catchy and upbeat, and the video for this song is just cool. The video nails the old-movie feel that this music calls up from inside. It should have an old-time police detective in a trench coat and fedora.

Thankfully, I can say honestly that I never went for this look in the 1990s. To be fair, I kind of like the dressier look -- the zoot suits and the fedoras sure beat the flannel of the early 1990s. I never went for this look because, well, I was in law school and no one in Athens was dressing like this. Too hot.

Scan dump alert!

The reprints from the late 1990s/early 2000s dominate here. I needed nearly all of these cards in some form or fashion. I do wish, though, that Topps would use more players than just Hall of Famers in their insert sets. I know it all comes down to contracts and rights fees, but I wonder what it is that Topps is spending its money on. No, actually, I know they are focused on getting contracts for signatures as opposed to contracts for a wider breadth of players to appear on cards.

It's too bad. We could use more cards of guys like Del Crandall, Lew Burdette, and Gus Bell as opposed to seeing that same Eddie Mathews pose (from that "Cooperstown Collection") again and again.

Bosstones lead singer Dicky Barrett notoriously had some serious drug issues before joining the band. This is a song about heroin addiction, and is apparently a reminder never to do drugs ever again. Barrett has gone on to be the announcer for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", so I guess he's got that going for him.

Shane's apparently done a bit of TTM/IP autograph hunting, since he shared the Ron Belliard and Geoff Jenkins autographs with me. It's good to see the consistency between the Fleer Ultra TTM/IP version and the Topps certified version. Finally, I'm a little surprised by the fact that Fernando Viรฑa didn't put a more prominent tilde over the "n" in his last name.

As the 1990s wound down, the Bosstones did as well in many respects. Ska got co-opted by that atrocious 311 sound, and pretty soon American music tastes went away from the big horn sounds and dancehall/ska type music and devolved more toward a garage sound championed by bands like The White Stripes and The Strokes. 

As this post winds down -- I could post another 50 cards, mind you, but I need to end it somewhere -- I thought I'd go all horizontal. Everything from one of those insert coins from Topps to mid-1980s stickers to some early 2000s Chrome to a Heritage insert that had eluded me. 

Shane is a great dude, and I need to get my butt moving to finish off the return package. My thanks go out to Shane for all the great cards and for his patience.


  1. Good stuff. Shane's the man.

    My fav Bosstones song is "Someday I Suppose"

  2. Shane makes some cool customs. Glad you guys hooked up

  3. Thanks again Mark for the introductions — glad I could send some good stuff to you Tony! Already building another pile for you.

  4. I think I need to track down a 2002 Topps Archives set. So many cool cards in it.

  5. Fuji—I have a number of those archives cards—hit me up.