Hey! It’s Bowman!
That is what it looks like when a card doesn’t really cause any reaction when it comes up next in my queue. A struggle to find the words.
I didn’t forget this card, but I certainly didn’t remember it, either. Bowman’s 1991 card finally looks, not as much “modern,” but “up-to-date” after two retro designs.
This sequence of cards captures the oddness of the White Sox uniform situation. 1989 shows that the futuristic “SOX” logo from 1976 survived the 1982 redesign which is nowhere else to be seen, then the 1991 features the 1991 redesign, likely taken during one of the September 1990 series where it was worn (it looks cold in the picture, so Spring Training 1991 would be unlikely).
I’m not sure I ever noticed, but the borders on the card are orange and blue. Maybe not expected, but not the craziest thing. BUT, you might think that there were multiple color options, and Carlton Fisk’s card showcases one of them, like Score’s 1991 set. Nope, the whole set, 700+ cards, all has the orange and blue border. Most discussions of the looks of this set mention only “drab,” “uninspired,” or “bland.” What those don’t capture is that Bowman 1990 would almost never be called “bland,” but the 1991 is objectively a better, nicer design. The nameblock extending past the vertical borders is an intentional choice which I’d defend under any circumstances. I like it so much, I remade the card without it just to make sure my head was on straight. As always, you’re welcome.
Really, the name background extension gives the card a much more modern look. While I’m staring at this card, I’ll point out that the lower corners where the keyline meets the orange and blue borders is a mess because there’s no blue border on the bottom edge.
The back shows off brown cardboard, green ink, black ink, and Bowman’s usual uncommon stats, again showing team-by-team offensive splits for his 1990 season. That’s it.
But what about that title? Carlton Fisk was my FAVORITE player. Notice the capital letters. Autographs were a huge deal. There was no real marketplace (at least known to dumb little kid me) for autographs of non-local and non-top 5-biggest-name players. There were never Carlton Fisk autographs, in other words. In other words: there was no internet, and more so, there was no eBay. Cards went into an envelope, a pre-stamped return envelope was also placed in that envelope, cards were mailed away, with no guarantee of return, signed or not. There were “rules” found in Beckett price guides and “baseball cards are fun for kids!” books saying:
- “Here’s a list of players who sign and return your cards.” (namely Andy Benes. Thank you for autographing my Donruss 1990, Andy.)
- Send your letter to one and only one player. It’s impossible to deliver one letter to all of Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar, and Pat Borders.
- Only send one card.
Carlton Fisk was never on that list.
He was the only player I liked on the White Sox, so there was no other player to put on the envelope. (I was dumb and broke this rule with the Blue Jays. They were my favorite team, but I didn’t have a favorite player. I sent one envelope with about 6 cards covering 4 players or so. Remembering this included return postage and went to Canada, it wasn’t a cheap shipment. That said, I’m not sure how I pre-stamped return postage for something being sent back from Canada. To their HUGE credit, the Blue Jays fan relations department send me back all of my cards, included a note about multiple cards and ‘just sending a single card doesn’t guarantee an autograph or your card returned,’ and included a copy of the Blue Jays junior fan club’s magazine, which was AMAZING.
I sent Carlton Fisk an 8.5 x 11″ mini poster and three or so cards of which I had doubles. Large padded envelope, return envelope with return postage, cards, poster, and extraordinarily heartfelt note to my favorite baseball player thanking him in advance for his autograph and efforts in shipping it all back to me. No big deal.
Well, Carlton didn’t sign it and he didn’t send it back. Darn. Never (try to) meet your heroes. (In hindsight, that aspect of professional sports could be a real pain in the butt. There’s something to be said for being a hero to little kids; there’s also something to be said about seemingly be expected to open and read all of their letters.) So, yes. It DOES appear he signs autographs. For someone. Just not me.
Am I a little bitter? I’m a little bitter.
(Upon retelling the story of not hearing back from my hero Carlton Fisk to an employee at East Side Sports Cards in Allentown, PA when this was very recent news, I was given a replacement poster for free. That wasn’t my angle at all, but I was very appreciative, as was my mom, being that she was more offended at the non-returned or acknowledged envelope, especially with the hand-written, little kid letter inside.)