The White Sox Got Very 1970’s; I Got Very Nerdy

Thursday night, the Chicago White Sox threw back to their late 1970’s “leisure suit” uniforms.  I love anything associated with 1970’s baseball, and these uniforms are so bad that they’re…

No, sorry, I can’t go there.  1970’s or not, they’re not “so bad that they’re good”.  They’re just bad… tremendously bad.  …But I do appreciate the fact that the White Sox did throwback to these unis, and I can’t let 1970’s throwbacks go by without making customs…
2015 TSR 1978 Carlos Rondon
Officially, these uniforms “throw back” to 1976, but they didn’t show up on baseball cards until 1977… and I don’t have a 1977 template yet, so I went with 1978.  It still works.

While I was making these, I also decided to play around with some ideas I’d had to simulate the printing of 1970’s baseball cards.

NOTE TO THE CASUAL READER:  I can understand if any of the following makes your eyes glaze over, and I won’t be offended if you stop reading… but just so you know, there are several more customs in this post.  Go check ’em out before you bail on me.

Part of the problem with making customs using today’s technology is that the customs end up being high-definition, and that takes away from the illusion of the throwback card. I’ve been thinking of ways around that, and these are my first experiments with that concept.

My graphics software has an interesting pair of tools… “Split Channel” and “Combine Channel”. Split Channel more or less gives you images like you’d have on a printing plate. For these cards, I split them into three channels, Red, Blue and Green (RGB), which I think is true to 1970’s printing. I could’ve also done it as CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), which is what we generally pull when we get printing plate inserts in our wax packs.

Anyway, I made a custom, saved it, split it into RGB channels, which created a red, green and blue image.  In order to simulate a printing mistake, I took the “blue” image, adjusted the brightness, moved it just a tiny bit so it wouldn’t align with the other two colors, and then combined the three channels back into one image; this is what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson RGB mess with blue

And this is the original:
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson

It’s a subtle difference, especially when you’re viewing it on a blog, but it does give it a sort of “not a PSA 10” quality that I was looking for.

For the next custom, I did something similar but I messed with the red channel instead of the blue… and probably messed a little too much, because the custom ended up with a blue tinge… but that’s cool, it’s all part of the experiment, right?
2015 TSR 1978 Tyler Saladino RBG Red adjust

For the final custom, I tried another idea. I created the custom, then I duplicated that image into another layer, brought the transparency of the top layer way down to something like 20%, and then I moved it slightly horizontally and vertically. I was hoping to give it a little “fuzziness”.  Here’s what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 Adam Eaton offset

None of these are exactly what I had in mind, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t successful experiments.

And yes, I am a total nerd.

Forgotten Franchises: The ABA’s Kentucky Colonels

The Kentucky Colonels were a noteworthy ABA franchise;  even though they weren’t one of the teams that eventually merged into the NBA, they were one of two franchises to exist during the ABA’s entire nine-year run without moving or changing their names (The other was the Indiana Pacers).

1971-72 Topps Basketball Walt Simon

The Colonels won the ABA Championship in 1975, and had three players that meet the Shlabotnik Test: Louie Dampier, Dan Issel, Artis Gilmore. What’s the “Shlabotnik Test”? A basketball player must be good if I, Joe Shlabotnik, have heard of them, even though I have never followed basketball.

In 1973, the team was sold to a group that intended to move the team to a new arena in Cincinnati, but when the arena plan fell through, the team was sold to a group that kept the team in Kentucky (although the did play a portion of their schedule in Cincy).  I think that every basketball “Forgotten Franchise” I’ve done has either moved to Cincinnati or *almost* moved to Cincinnati.

In 1975, the owner of the Colonels decided he could not afford both Issel and Gilmore, and Issel was traded to the Baltimore Claws, which folded after three preseason games. Issel was subsequently sent to the Denver Nuggets.

When the ABA merged with the NBA, the Colonels were not one of the four teams that the NBA approved of, so the franchise was folded.  The Colonels’ owner, John Y. Brown, used the money to buy the NBA’s Buffalo Braves and while some assumed that he would move the Braves to Louisville as a new Colonels franchise, two years later he moved the team to San Diego to become the Clippers.

Louisville has been used numerous times since then as a threatened relocation destination, but have not hosted an NBA team.

As for Walt Simon, the forward pictured on the card above, he played 7 years in the ABA and was an All-Star during the 1968-69 season (while with the New York Nets).  After his playing career he worked for the KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) Corporation for 22 years, moving up to VP of franchising.

STWTW: I Found My Wacky Packages, Part 1

…Another in a series of “So That’s Where That Went” posts…

Nearly two months ago I wrote a post about a big hobby regret of mine.  That regret was that, as a kid, I stuck most of my Wacky Packages stickers on a notebook.

In that post, I’d mentioned that I still had the Wacky-encrusted covers of that notebook, but I didn’t remember where it was.

In the past two months, I had a minor epiphany… I was looking for that in my collectibles, but it was a school notebook, so maybe it’s in with my school stuff…

BINGO!  I struck paydirt, and I decided that I would share my stuck stickers in all of their 40-year-old glory.  I’m going to dedicate one post to each of the sides of the front and back covers… and we’ll start with what I think was the inside front cover… I’ve lost track of which was which, and it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Page 1 Page 1_1 Page 1_2 Page 1_3 Page 1_4 Page 1_5 Page 1_6

An Unexpected Number Of 1968’s, Part One

I’ve noticed a particular phenomenon when I go shopping on COMC, especially during a free-shipping promotion.  I’ll do some shopping, do some other things, do more shopping, do more things, and so on during the weekend… and it won’t be until I get the box from COMC that I get a handle on exactly what I bought.

One thing I realized about my last two shopping sprees was that ended up getting a lot more 1968 baseball cards than I’d intended or even realized. Some of them came off of wantlists but a bunch of them were impulse buys which just sneaked up on me.

Dick Selma puts me one step closer to the Mets team set… a goal I won’t likely reach unless I miraculously find a Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman rookie that falls in my budget (HAH!)
1968 Topps Dick Selma

An Orioles team set is somewhat more realistic, but I didn’t grow up an Orioles fan so I don’t have any huge attachment to the O’s before when I started following them in the mid-1990’s.
1968 Topps Sam Bowens
I knew very little about Sam Bowens before buying this card. Now I know he had a good rookie season that he never quite recaptured, but stuck around because of his defensive capabilities.

I don’t remember why I bought this… probably because it was unusually cheap, and old enough that “unusually cheap” is sufficient cause for me to buy it.
1968 Topps Woody Fryman

I do remember buying this card… I bought it because I liked it. Not the greatest card out of 1968, but it has it’s appeal.
1968 Topps Chico Ruiz
Chico Ruiz was one of the last Cubans to leave before the border was shut down, played every position but pitcher and center field, and was still an active player when he was killed in a car crash in early 1972.

As  you can see, Dick Dietz was a Topps All-Star Rookie, and was later an actual All-Star.
1968 Topps Dick Dietz
Dick Dietz seemed to have had a career and then he didn’t.  I’ve seen a couple of references to him having been blackballed because he was a player representative during the 1972 baseball strike.  I don’t know if that’s true, but it would not surprise me in the least.

For some reason, I’ve been picking up late 1960’s and early 1970’s Yankees.  Yes, I am a Mets fan.  No, I can’t explain it.
1968 Topps Bill Monbouquette
Bill Monbouquette was a 20-game winner with the Red Sox, and was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. 1968 was his last year as an active pitcher, but he would go on to server as a pitching coach for a number of years, including two years as the Mets pitching coach. I should’ve just said that up front instead of admitting that I buy Yankee cards on purpose.

And, of course, what are 1968 Topps cards without the Game inserts? I’m sure you don’t need any introduction to Brooks Robinson…
1968 Topps Game Brooks Robinson

…Or Ron Santo.
1968 Topps Game Ron Santo

As you can guess from the heading, this is just the first batch of 68’s… I didn’t want to dump them all on you at once (and I wanted the opportunity to have some relatively easy posts in the near future).  Stay tuned!

2015 TSR: Ichiro Smiles

I have a feeling this is going to be a pack full of extra goodness…
2015 TSR Wrapper Series Three

…But why does Ichiro smile?  I’ll get to that in a minute… First off, I looked at the 2015 TSR cards I’ve posted so far, and realized that the Blue Jays are the one team from which I haven’t posted any customs.  I wanted to get that remedied immediately, and what better way to do that than to feature the guy who currently looks the most out-of-place in his new Jays uniform, Mr. Troy Tulowitzki
2015 TSR #305 - Troy Tulowitzki
I may be the last baseball fan in North America to pick up on this, but when I was looking for images of Tulo to use, I saw several that prominently featured the number 2 on his back, and it occurred to me – Oh, hey! Two like in 2-lowitzki!

You know who else looks strange in his uniform (but for different reasons)?  Adam Jones wearing his All-Star warmups on his fresh-off-the-press All Star inserts!
2015 TSR AS-4 Adam Jones
I don’t really like the idea of the various team caps being done in Cincinnati colors, but it is what it is.

Speaking of the Orioles… I featured a 2015 Highlights card when the Mets got no hit by Chris Heston, it’s only fair that Hisashi Iwakuma gets a card when the Orioles get no-hit.
2015 TSR #306 - Iwakuma No-Hitter
Things have picked up for the Mets since they got no-hit… Sure, guys like Cespedes may have something to do with that… so maybe this will be a wake-up call for the O’s.

Now that the Mets are in first – and I don’t kid myself about it, it’s just as much about the Nats floundering as it is about the Mets improving – but anyway, now that the Mets are in first, I was thinking I hadn’t heard many comments about Terry Collins being an idiot.
2015 TSR MC-4 Terry Collins
…At least not until pitcher Logan Verrett pitched an effective inning against the Orioles on Wednesday, and everybody was screaming “Why didn’t Collins leave Verrett in?!?” after the Orioles got a walk-off win several innings later.  It’s good to know that some things don’t change.

Back in Series… um… Two? Was it Two? Let me take a look… Nope, Series One… Anyway, starting a few months ago I started featuring players who were rumored to get traded, as I had plans for a special “Traded” card like they had in the 1970’s. One of those players was Cole Hamels:
2015 TSR #36 - Cole Hamels
Well, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Mr. hamels is now a Texas Ranger. And so, I would like to introduce a “Traded” card from my set…
2015 TSR #300 Cole Hamels
Visually, the card is semi-intentionally similar to 1974 Traded, but as far as it’s role in the set goes it’s more like 1972 in that it’s not an insert, instead it’s a base card in a later series that’s updating a card in an earlier series. That’s why Hamels shows up as “TRADED” while Tulo does not; the Tulowitzki card was the first in 2015 TSR, so it doesn’t need to be flagged.

Another All-Star insert. As Keith Olbermann used to say, “Lorenzo Cain is his name”. 2015 TSR AS-1 Lorenzo Cain
Still don’t like those caps with the two stripes across them.

Andrew Benintendi, picked #7 in the draft by the Red Sox, just got moved up from the short-season Lowell Spinners to Single-A Greenville Drive.  Just to underline the transaction, Benintendi hit two homers in his first game with Greenville.
2015 TSR DP-7 Andrew Benintendi
The Lowell Spinners have a van that is painted up like “The Mystery Machine” from the Scooby Doo cartoons… it is quite possibly the greatest vehicle associated with a minor league team.

Aaron Judge is a large man… He is football player large:  6’7″, 275 pounds. He’s also a well-regarded prospect, and the Yankees’ #2 prospect coming into this season (after Luis Severino, who’s currently on the big team).
2015 TSR FG-6 Aaron Judge

You’re probably wondering when I was going to get to “Ichiro Smiles”. I ran across this picture of Ichiro, and knew I had to do something with it because it’s such a great picture.
2015 TSR #308 - Ichiro Suzuki
I don’t want to go as far as saying that Ichiro never smiles, but it seems that any time you see a photo of him, he’s got his game face going. I figure a custom card like this is going to be popular with the Ichiro fans who are starved for cardboard, real or otherwise.

2015 Topps Factory Set Bonus Cards

As I did last year, I bought a factory set of 2015 Topps rather than busting wax.

Unlike last year, I learned from my lessons and bought a set that had the 5 rookie variations *and* the Ken Griffey refractor reprint thingie card. Last year mistakenly I thought the rookie variations and the Koufax reprint was an either/or thing.

The three bonus card options at my local Target stores were five All-Star variations, five rookie variations and five rookie variations with the shiny Griffey.  Here’s the Griffey I got:

2015 Topps Factory Set 1989 Traded Griffey refractor
2015 Topps Factory Set 1989 Traded Griffey refractor back

Not a whole lot of interest for me… The same card I’ve had for 26 years, only shinier. Yay.

I don’t have much to say about the variations, but I figure people might want to know what they look like, so here they are.

2015 Topps Factory Set Joc Pederson

2015 Topps Factory Set Jorge Soler

2015 Topps Factory Set Kris Bryant

2015 Topps Factory Set Archie Bradley

2015 Topps Factory Set Devon Travis