2018 Opening Day Base Cards With Different Photos, Part 5

It’s been a while since I did one of these posts.  For those who missed the first four parts, this post features the Opening Day cards which I’ve confirmed as having a photo different from the Topps flagship counterpart.

For all of these pairings, the Opening Day card is on the right.

Anthony Rendon (Opening Day card #109)

Nomar Mazara (Opening Day card #104)
Remember when “Nomar” was an unheard of name?  It’s kind of like when the whole joke in the movie “Splash” was that Madison was a ridiculous name for Daryl Hannah’s character.

Whit Merrifield (Opening Day card #192)
I read something impressive about Whit Merrifield the other day… shame I can’t remember it.

Corey Seager (Opening Day card #59)
Thanks to the insert set in Target packs of flagship, I’ve officially had my fill of Corey Seager.

Jeremy Hellickson (Opening Day card #180)
Hellickson was only an Oriole from July 28, 2017 to the end of last season.  He’s pitched with the Nationals all year after signing as a free agent in March.  Oops.


2018 TSR: Now With Football!

It’s been a long baseball season, and a fairly poopy one on many fronts. The Mets were 15-9 in April and are 10-4 this month, but they stunk in May and absolutely cratered in June. The Orioles… well, the only month where the O’s had a non-awful record was March when they went 1-1. Even on the minor league level, the weather kept me from going to anywhere near as many games as I usually attend, and the teams I did see were not particularly good nor promising.

So maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me when I watched a football game last weekend and actually got into it. I normally pay little attention to football until at least October (and hopefully November if I have a strong rooting interest in the MLB Postseason), but here I was on September 9th enjoying a Steelers/Browns matchup.

Well, maybe “enjoying” isn’t entirely the right word. It was entertaining, but due to rain and other factors, it wasn’t the best-played game you’ll see all year… and it ended in a tie (which, as far as I’m concerned, was a victory for the Browns).

But it inspired me to make some football customs, which may or may not end up being a series. This year has been filled with custom sets I started and never took as far as I’d originally intended.

I wanted to pay homage to a vintage football set, and after much deliberating I decided to be “Heritage-y” and observe the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Topps set.

With Le’Veon Bell holding out, Steelers’ running back James Conner got nearly as many carries (32) and yards (144) as he did all of last season, plus he scored two touchdowns and caught five passes.

Conner is a local guy who’s from Erie, PA and went to the University of Pittsburgh. Le’Veon is still sitting at home, so I would guess that Conner’s the guy again against the Chiefs this afternoon.

As for the Browns… Much to my surprise they didn’t suck. I have to admit, I liked seeing excited fans in the stands in Cleveland. I wasn’t sure who to feature on a Browns custom, so I let the availability of images dictate my choice to a large degree and I went with new QB Tyrod Taylor.

The Browns acquired Taylor from the Buffalo Bills for a 3rd round draft pick this past Spring.

OK, that’s it for football this week. I guess we’ll see how inspired I am to make more customs after today’s games… There are probably at least some more coming, if only to justify the time I spent on the 1968 template.

Moving on to baseball… Even though they went on a tear a bit too late for playoff contention (barring an epic collapse by the Yankees or Athletics), I’ve been rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays. They’re 27-13 since the beginning of August, and staff ace Blake Snell has broken out in a big way and deserves some serious Cy Young consideration.

Snell has a 19-5 record and a 2.03 ERA and leads the league in wins and ERA. He’s also third with a 0.982 WHIP.

A note to the Atlanta Braves: It doesn’t matter how many former Orioles and Mets you acquire, I will never root for the Braves.

…OK, well perhaps grudgingly if they’re facing the Yankees, but in that case I will not watch.

MLB announced recently that there wiil be an all-star team touring Japan this fall, and Marlins manager Don Mattingly will be in charge of that touring team.

I’m sure he’s looking for a distraction for what’s going on in Miami these days.

The Orioles recently called up their 2015 1st round draft pick, outfielder DJ Stewart.

After 10 plate appearances, he’s still looking for his first MLB hit.

Just for funsies, I’ll “reprint” the custom I made for him in 2015.

I have to admit, I was uninspired as to who to feature for the Mets, given that all of their best players have already appeared on one of my customs, so I just went with an action shot I like.

Gavin Cecchini is on the Mets 40-man roster but has played sparingly and has not appeared with the Mets this season.

Just to wrap things up with another sport… Congratulations to the Seattle Storm who recently swept the Washington Mystics to win the WNBA championship. Breanna Stewart was named the MVP of the finals.

I only saw a few minute of the final game, but I heard that the WNBA playoffs were very exciting this year. Did anybody watch any of it?

Because I’m An Impulsive Idiot: Four Different Packs Of 2018 Football Cards

Long story short: I’m in a local Dollar Tree store just about once a week, and have had fun buying the repacks they have there. The enjoyable Prestine baseball repacks haven’t been seen in months in my neck of the woods, but I still enjoy the CardsOne Multi-Sport repacks (which had probably been sitting there for a couple of years until I came along).

Last week I cleaned out the last of their repacks.

This week I found the same empty gravity feeders I’d left behind… but I already had a $5 bill in my hand, so I settled for two 2018 football packs as a consolation prize. I’ll be frank, the cards stunned me… and in a good way.

Especially the 2018 Panini Football pack. The first card I pulled out of the pack was this card of the Dallas Cowboys’ Zack Martin

I think it looks a bit better in-hand than in this scan, but the photo shows up really well and I like the very minimalist design: It’ gives you the basic information and then gets the hell out of the way. My one complaint is that the team name is very small and hard to read (but that’s OK because the back has a big honkin’ team logo on it).

For those people who like the O-Pee-Chee-esque “Traded” text lines on their cards, Panini does that in this set.

It’s hard to see in this scan, but above the “P” Panini logo is a little text line which reads “SIGNED BY BILLS ON 3/15/18”.

I had a less positive reaction to the second pack… at first, anyway.  My initial reaction to 2018 Prestige was that it was a typical Panini design with way too much going on, but the more I look at these, the more I like them.

It’s not a bad design, it’s just not *my* type of design.  I don’t think I would buy more of these, not even from the dollar store, but I also won’t trash it. FYI, the text and logos on the card front are done in silver foil.

I will say one nice thing about 2018 Prestige…

These cards have the nicest backs I’ve seen on a Panini card (which isn’t a huge competition, I’ll admit)

It’s got sort of a 2013 Pinnacle thing going for it (that’s good in my book, I like 2013 Pinnacle enough to wish it were licensed).

Before I get off of the Dollar Tree packs, I want to point out that these packs are a dollar each because they are strictly base cards, not an insert to be found. I personally don’t have a problem with that, but I thought I should mention it.

Oh, and I should also mention that Panini has an exclusive license with the NFL, so all of these packs are made by Panini America.

I was so surprised by these two Panini packs that later that night, when I was in Target, I bought a couple of other packs (which were a bit more expensive than a buck each).

One of the packs was for 2018 Classics football, which I’d been seeking out ever since I received a Classics Franco Harris card from CommishBob over at The Five Tool Collector.

I was hoping to pull more cards for my team, the Steelers… but I did pull a very cool card of Dick LeBeau, who used to be the Steelers’ defensive coordinator.

I like these cards because they’re appealingly retro without going overboard. As I’ve mentioned before, Panini has a track record of going too far with their design elements, but they were nice and retrained on these.

The backs of the Classics cards are also pretty good in a throwback-y way

The one thing which threw me off with the backs was what I thought was a cartoon in the lower left. This one shows a unicycle and says “Dick’s secret skills include playing guitar and writing songs”. Another one showed a pizza and said something about the player liking shrimp. What the WHAT? Turns out that they’re not so much cartoons as much as icons representing categories. Once I realized what they were doing I came down from Red Alert and went back to enjoying the cards.

The last pack I bought, 2018 Donruss Football, was sort of an “in for a penny, in for a pound” purchase… I just wanted to see if a Donruss design was better when it’s licensed.

The answer is yes… but not much. The Donruss logo and player name up top is in silver foil, which is hard to read against a dark background (which is why I scanned a light-background card).

I liked this card of the Patriots’ first round pick Sony Michel… more for the photo than anything else.

Looks like Michel is going to make his NFL debut this Sunday.

So that’s the four packs. I may buy more of the 2018 Panini Football from Dollar Tree, and I’m definitely working on wantlists for that set and 2018 Classics… All in all I was fairly well pleased with these packs.

Run For the (East) Hills!

My summer has been so upside-down that I still haven’t written about most of what I got at a July card show where I spent 5 or 6 hours wandering the floor.  I’m still working at getting my hobby time amid all my responsibilities, so today’s post features several unrelated cards from the 1960’s.

At the July show there was a dealer who had a couple of commons from the 1966 East Hills Shopping Center Pirates cards for $2 a shot. These cards don’t really fit into my collection, but I felt drawn to these oversized oddballs so I quickly added three to my purchase and moved on. When I got home I found that the cards were in beautiful shape… probably a bit *too* nice for 52 year old cards bought for $2 a pop. I’m mentally labeling these as “reprints”, but they’re still fun to have. One will be featured in a later post, but the other two are…

Don Cardwell, who would be traded to the Mets after the 1966 season and become a “Miracle Met” (even if he pitched only one inning in the World Series, an inning which came in relief of Tom Seaver in the Mets Game 1 loss to the O’s)…

Gene Michael was a Yankee during that narrow window of childhood naivety when I liked the Yankees. In my head he’s so completely associated with the Bronx Bombers that I get weirded out when I see him in another team’s uniform. This can be considered his rookie card, as he wouldn’t appear in a Topps set until 1967.

I’ve been a Steelers fan since the 1980’s.  Not being much of a football collector, I’d originally intended to collect only those Steelers teams I’d watched, and then I’d later set 1972 as a good starting point for my Steelers collection…  However, I keep finding myself picking up 1960’s cards here and there, like this 1968 Topps card of linebacker Andy Russell.

Russell won 2 Super Bowls with the Steelers and appeared in 7 Pro Bowls.  An organization called the Professional Football Researchers Association named Russell to their “Hall Of The Very Good” in 2011.  I’ve heard people joke about a “Hall Of The Very Good”, but I had no idea that any group had established a formal list.

One interesting thing about this card, and something that I didn’t notice until I got it home, was that the card is a puzzle back.

Football collectors would need to wait until 1969 to find out that Russell is 6′ 2″ and went to Missouri.  Anybody know whose shin that is on the card back? UPDATE: Jeb Reid has identified the “Mystery Shin” as belonging to HOF Chiefs QB Len Dawson (see his comment on this post). Thanks, Jeb!

I filled in a gap in my Fritz Peterson collection by adding his second-year card.

I’d probably bypassed this card a number of times thinking I already had it, because the photo used would also be used on Peterson’s 1969 Topps card, which I’ve had for a number of years.

One last card, a 1963 Fleer featuring pitcher Tom Cheney.  I’ve long been fascinated by 1963 Fleer, and could see myself trying to complete the 66-card set someday.  For now, I just casually pick up cheap commons as I find them.

Tom Cheney’s career was ended abruptly by an elbow injury, but in a game against the Orioles in 1962 he struck out 21 batters in a 16-inning complete game.  16 innings, 10 hits, 1 earned run, 21 K’s and just four walks as the Senators beat the O’s 2-1.  The Orioles Dick Hall took the loss in pitching 8.1 innings in relief.

2018 TSR: Combo Cards And Throwbacks! Whoo!

Three days ago I had a different idea for this virtual pack of custom cards. Then I was looking at the checklist for 2018 Topps Heritage High Numbers (which gave me the idea of doing a special kind of combo card), and I also became aware of two throwback games happening this weekend… after that, things just fell into place.

Before I get to those, however, there are some other customs that I want to get in here.

First off, the Red Sox called up Brandon Phillips, who had spent the season so far in AAA. Phillips has appeared in one game, but hit the game-winning homer in that game.

If he got a Topps Now card from that, I couldn’t find it after a quick search… but I love the fact that Phillips is the first Red Sox player to wear #0, so he gets a custom for that alone.

Each week I feature a Met, an Oriole and a manager card. Recent buzz indicates that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will be fired after the end of the season, so I figured I’d better get his custom posted now.

If you’re not a Mets fan or don’t collect 1980’s Donruss cards, you might not know that Gibbons was a catcher who played 18 games for the Mets in the mid 1980’s. It appears that Donruss was the only manufacturer to issue a card for him during his playing days.

As little as the Orioles have been involved in the international player market in recent years, they somehow have an Australian pitcher in their organization. Alex Wells represented the O’s in this year’s Futures Game.

Wells hasn’t made it out of A-ball yet, but he’s only 21 and had an impressive August to close out the 2018 minor league season… plus he’s Australian and wears glasses, so I’m already a fan.

I struggled to find a Met for the custom this week, as pretty much anyone of note has already been featured. I decided to go in a different direction… Jose Reyes used to be my favorite Met, but now Mets fans ask why he’s still on the roster, and I have to admit, I can’t answer that.

He’s batting below the Mendoza Line, he doesn’t play defense like he used to, I can only think that he’s a favorite of the Wilpons and they don’t want to just release him. Maybe they’ll have a nice tribute at the end of the season and that can be that.

OK, throwback time. The Tigers have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of their 1968 World Championship, and as it works out they’re playing the Cardinals in Detroit this weekend, the same team they beat in 1968. As part of the festivities, the Tigers and Cardinals wore 1968 throwback uniforms, but in an interesting twist, the Tigers wore road throwbacks.

I understand the significance of these throwbacks, but they’re not the most visually exciting unforms… I like this photo of Jeimar Candelario, though, so it was a no-brainer as a custom card. BTW, the Cardinals did wear home whites in Detroit.

The Tampa Bay Rays are celebrating their 20th anniversary this season, and as part of that they wore 1998 throwbacks last night, and kicked the O’s butts in the process (as if that’s some sort of achievement this season).

I’m also not a fan of these throwbacks, but it’s all about the significance not the appeal.

When looking at the Heritage High Number checklist, I had two thoughts about the Combo card inserts. First, they obviously wanted to get as many hot rookies involved as possible. Second, these combo cards would likely feature photos of two players who happened to be standing near each other, or perhaps photoshopped into the same image. Seemingly gone are the days when a photographer would ask two players to actually pose next to each other.

So that got me thinking I should beat Topps to the punch… not only feature hot rookies, but also have intentionally bad combo cards… and this was the most fun I’ve had with customs in a while, so you’ll be seeing more of these.

First up… who can resist teenage sensation Juan Soto with his teammate, former teenage sensation Bryce Harper?

And then you’ve got the young Atlanta Braves’ dynamic duo of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna!

I’m telling you, that’s cardboard gold right there… or they would be if they were real.  Make 1/1 superfractor parallels of these, and look out eBay!



“Dead Parrot” Face-Off #2

I’ve written a couple of times about a new project of mine, the “Dead Parrot” Frankenset: a hockey Frankenset made of cards featuring NHL and WHA teams which are no more, which have ceased to be (as in the line from the Monty Python “Dead Parrot” sketch). When I started the project, I’d filled as many slots as I could with cards I already owned, and then added a few cards I got from Shoebox Legends.

In July I was at a card show and one of the goals I set for myself was to get as many potential “Dead Parrot” cards as I could. It wasn’t quite as many as I had hoped for… Although the show I was at was a fairly large regional show, the vintage card dealers at this show generally don’t do hockey and the hockey card dealers generally don’t do vintage.

All was not lost, as some of the dealers who carried vintage cards of multiple sports came through for me… It wasn’t the mother lode I was hoping for, but it will do.

So here are the groundrules, such as they are. Since it’s a “Frankenset”, there’s one and only one slot for each potential card number from 1 to 396. Certain teams and players will generally get preference over others, although photo quality certainly plays a part. As with assembling a roster for a real sports team, there are always the “intangibles” to be considered.

And now, on with the face-offs!

The first one is unusual in that I don’t already have a card in slot #84, but I have two new cards which are both #84, so the two Challengers will battle for the empty slot.

The first challenger, representing the California Golden Seals (NHL, 1967 to 1976) as well as 1973-74 Topps… Reg Leach!

The second challenger, also representing the Seals (but in the earlier Oakland Seals incarnation), and representing 1969/70 Topps… Bill Hicke!

The Judgement: It’s Seal vs. Seal here, but this is going to come down to the uniform. There seems to be much less cardboard representation of the green & blue older uniform than the green and gold 1970’s uniform, plus the older uniform has a much cooler logo.


Before we move on, let’s check out the back of Bill Hicke’s card.  The bright colors and cartoon make it worthwhile.

Next… Currently in slot #62 and representing the Colorado Rockies (NHL, 1974 to 1982) as well as 1980/81 Topps…Lanny McDonald!

..and the challenger, representing the Atlanta Flames (NHL, 1972 to 1980) as well as 1975/76 Topps… Hilliard Graves!

The Judgement: This is a one-sided competition.  Rockies beat Flames, on-ice shots beat posed shots, Lanny McDonald played nearly twice as many NHL games as Hilliard Graves, and Lanny has that awesome mustache.


And now, in slot #29, representing the New England Whalers (WHA, 1972 to 1979; NHL, 1979 to 1997) and 1977/78 O-Pee-Chee WHA… Tom Webster!

..and the Challenger, representing the Minnesota North Stars (NHL, 1967 to 1993) and 1971/72 Topps… Bill Goldsworthy!

The Judgement: Again, this isn’t much of a competition. I’ve already got plenty of North Stars in the Frankenset and the Webster features a much more interesting photo.


Moving on to slot #93, representing the Minnesota North Stars and 1979/80 Topps… Glen Sharpley!

And the challenger, representing the California Golden Seals as well as 1971/72 Topps… Gary Jarrett!

The Judgement: I love 1979/80 Topps, and I would normally go with an action shot over a posed shot…  But that’s the Washington Capitals’ Dennis Maruk in the background, so I’ll gladly move the Glen Sharpley card over to my “Photobombing Capitals” project and award slot #93 to Gary Jarrett.


The remaining three new cards don’t face any competition and go straight into the binder.

This 1974/75 Topps card of Butch Deadmarsh goes into slot #73 and is a double-dead parrot. The 1974/75 season was the first for the Kansas City Scouts, and Deadmarsh was drafted from the Atlanta Flames in the 2nd round of the expansion draft.

After 20 games with the Scouts, his contract was sold to the WHA’s Vancouver Blazers and he played a number of years with several WHA teams. Butch’s 25-year-younger cousin Adam Deadmarsh played in the NHL in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

This Minnesota North Stars team card is from 1975/76 Topps and stands a pretty good chance of fighting off any upcoming challengers for slot #89.

Finally, going into slot #79 is this 1971/72 Topps card of the North Stars’ Danny Grant.

Grant won the Calder Trophy in 1968/69 as the NHL Rookie of the Year. He arguably had his best season in 1974/75 with Detroit, scoring 87 points and making the all-star team.

Current “Dead Parrot” Frankenset status:
I added 4 new cards to the binder but completed no pages, so the update is…
Completion percentage: 60.8% (241/396)
# of complete pages: 5 out of 44

For no real reason I had decided that each Dead Parrot post would feature a favorite song by a Canadian artist.  This time around, the song is “Don Quixote” by Gordon Lightfoot.

One quick addendum… I noticed the other day that my local Target suddenly has hockey repacks, the 20 packs for $20 kind. I was very tempted to get one, partly for the fun of opening it, partly to let the card aisle vendor know that someone in my area would buy hockey repacks… but also for potential Dead Parrot cards.

Here’s the catch, though: Any packs after 2011 would be worthless for this project as those packs would contain nothing but teams which still exist (the last team to relocate was the Atlanta Thrashers; they moved to Winnipeg in 2011). Because of this, I would be counting on the fact that this hockey repack would have a lot of junk wax and largley be from the 1990’s and earlier. Has anyone bought one of these repacks for hockey?  Is there a lot of the 1990’s junk wax that I seek?  Disregarding the value that is generally lacking from repacks, would you think one of these 20-pack repacks might work out for me?

Pack Animal: 2003 BBM 2nd Version (Japanese)

I have a small stash of Japanese baseball card packs which I treat sort of like a cellar full of vintage wine; I only pull one out when I feel like I’m in the proper frame of mind to appreciate it.

Today we’re going through a pack of 2003 BBM 2nd Version. Here’s the front of the wrapper…

…and here’s the back.

First card is of an American:  Jeremy Powell who pitched three unexceptional seasons with the Expos before going to Japan and pitching for 8 seasons there.

His best season in Japan was the one prior to this card;  With the Buffaloes he went 17-10, 3.78.  Powell is currently the pitching coach for the Marlins’ AAA team in New Orleans.

Here’s the back of Powell’s card.  As always, the card asks “Did you know?” and I have no answer because I can’t read the rest of it.

Toshihide Narimoto was a reliever with the Marines, Tigers and Swallows.

I found very little information about Naoyuki Ohmura.

Shinji Sasaoka pitched 18 seasons for the Carp, and Wikipedia says he’s currently a coach with that team.

Insert time!  Opening Game was a 24-card insert set and it appears that they all have this “up in the clouds” motif… very appropriate for a guy named Angel.

Angel Echevarria was born & raised in Connecticut, played college ball for Rutgers, appeared in 328 games over 7 seasons with the Rockies, Brewers and Cubs and I’m a bit chagrined to admit that I do not remember him.  In my defense he had very few Major League cards during those 7 seasons.  The one card of his I do remember is a 1996 Topps rookie card he shared with Trey Beamon, Yamil Benitez and Jermaine Dye.

Hirokazu Ibata played 17 seasons, mostly for the Dragons.  I found a Japan Times article about his retirement and they described him as an “iconic former shortstop” and a 7-time Golden Glove winner.  …So yeah.  He’s good.

While with the Dragons, they won 4 Central League titles and one Japan Series title.  He also was awarded five “Best Of Nine” awards.

Tatsuhiko Kinjo was the 2000 Central League Rookie of the Year and won the batting title that same year with a .346 average, made 3 all-star games (and was the All-Star Game MVP in 2005).

NOW we’re talking!  Daisuke Matsuzaka!  “New Wave” is a subset, I’m guessing it has something to do with Daisuke being young (although he had a couple of years of experience).

Because Matsuzaka is the best-known-to-Americans player in the pack, I’ll also feature the back of this card.

So much going on with this card…

The small player photo, big background, and the subset is “2002 Retirement Player”.  Hiroo Ishii played from 1990 to 2002 and seems to have been a good, but not great, player.

The back of Ishii’s card, oddly enough, has a larger photo of Ishii, with an interesting effect going on.

My first reaction to the “Retirement Player” concept was that it was a cool idea to have a career capper… but then I started to wonder if I’d rather have a card of a guy who’s already gone, or instead have a current player and I decided on the “current player” side. Still, it seems like a neat subset.

Well, I certainly can’t complain about that pack.  Nine nice cards, two players I’m familiar with, another guy who I just barely remember and some interesting subsets and inserts.