1976 SSPC: Carew, Cardenas & Currence

I’m overdue for another batch of 1976 SSPC cards… I’ll start with HOFer Rod Carew. I’ll let you write your own caption to this picture, because I made several attempts and figuratively crumpled and tossed each one into the trash.

1976 was Carew’s first season as the Twins’ first baseman, and while he did make the All-Star team, 1976 was the only season between 1972 and 1978 that Carew didn’t lead the league in batting average… Carew batted .331, Hal McRae batted .332 and George Brett batted .333.  Carew also didn’t lead the league in hits, OBP or any other major category that he was known for;  it says a lot that batting .331 with 200 hits, 90 RBI and 97 runs could be argued to have been an off year.

Leo “Chico” Cardenas is a player who often gets overlooked when people talk about the 1960’s or 1970’s. Over his 16-year career primarily as a shortstop, he won a Gold Glove, was a five-time All-Star and got MVP votes in a number of seasons.

Cardenas would be released by the Rangers at the end of Spring Training in 1976, and that would be the end of his career.

I’d just mentioned Lafayette Currence (and his awesome name) in a post last week. He started his career in promising fashion, getting Brooks Robinson to pop out to right, Mark Belanger to ground out and Ken Singleton to strike out in a 1-2-3 ninth inning of a game the O’s won 10-5.

Unfortunately, that was the highlight of his career; he’d struggle through many of his 8 appearances in 1975 and wouldn’t appear in the Majors again.

Carew and Cardenas are definitely Shea; Currence looks like Shea, but as dark as it is I’m hesitant to commit 100%
Shea: 80
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 14
Can’t tell: 20
Not Shea: 9

1970’s Census: Keeping track of all the instances of 1970’s trends
This post features two sets of sideburns and a mustache.
Total Cards: 122
1970’s Sideburns: 71
Fu Manchu: 4
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 39
Afro: 2
Perm: 2
Aviators: 8
Long Hair: 30


Custom Card Sunday: Where The Week Took Me, Plus Others From The Files

This has been a crazy week for me, but as I haven’t posted anything in several days I’m going to make this one of those somewhat-dreaded “clearing house” posts. I’ve got three customs I made this week, plus two which have been sitting in unposted drafts, curled up in the corner, silently weeping.

Well, that’s a dark start to a post, isn’t it?

Let’s counteract the sadness with Mookie Betts! The Red Sox outfielder bowled a perfect 300 in a Professional Bowlers Association event, and I felt like this was a custom-worthy event (full disclosure: The image used in the custom is not from the 300 game).

As someone who bowls in a league (and whose delivery is way too inconsistent to even sniff at a 300), I have nothing but respect for a feat like this.

This next custom is for a type of mining truck that has intrigued me since I first saw a picture of it from a mining trade show a few years ago. That picture (which I don’t have access to now) featured somewhere around eight men posing on the built-in staircase (seen running diagonally across the grille) of a Caterpillar 979F. When a truck has a built-in staircase, you know it’s a huge freakin’ truck.

Check out the specs on this monster: 400 ton capacity; 4000 HP; each tire is over 13 feet tall and costs more than $40,000 each. The truck itself costs approximately $5M, but the price varies because naturally when a truck goes for millions of dollars, each is built to the customer’s specs.

The gravel pit background reminds me of 1970’s vintage Doctor Who… One almost expects Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor) to make his way across and encounter some low-budget alien.

…And speaking of Doctor Who… A recent promotional image for the show featured Jodie Whittaker, the upcoming 13th Doctor, shown in character for the first time.

I’d been expecting for a little while that #13 would be played by a woman – I was kinda expecting Olivia Colman but instead got someone else I knew from Broadchurch. One is always apprehensive with a casting change… The aforementioned Tom Baker was my first Doctor, and every one after him has had to win me over… some (Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant) much more successfully than others (Colin Baker). I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of vision Whittaker and new showrunner Chris Chibnall have, and I can only hope that they “GET IT”.

…And now on to the sad, misplaced customs…

I think this Jay Bruce custom was originally part of a post about how 2017 Topps Archives didn’t correctly replicate 1960 Topps… the custom may have lost it’s purpose in life, but it turned out a bit too good to not share.

Finally… One of my favorite promotions of this past season is one put on by… (Sigh)… I hate to admit it when the Atlanta Braves do something I like.  They have this promotion where an ordinary fan is given a big lead in a race against “The Freeze”.  The Freeze is Braves’ groundcrew member Nigel Talton wearing blue spandex and goggles.  Talton impressively fast and is (surprise surprise) a competitive runner.

This clip was my introduction to The Freeze, and remains my favorite moment:

Adventures At A Postcard Show

About a month ago I found out about a postcard show that would be happening in a town that’s just close enough to be within “What the heck” driving limits. Now I don’t collect postcards, but I thought it might be fun to see what a show was like and I figured I was bound to find something I liked, so I devoted part of this past Saturday afternoon to the quest.

When I walked into the show, it was simultaneously familiar and strange. Like a sports collectibles show, there were numerous folding tables covered with boxes… but that’s where the familiarity ended. I walked up to one of the tables and realized I had no idea of where to start.

After wandering around a while, I found out that most of the dealers had their inventory in two major categories: Location (i.e. “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ”) and Topic. For the most part, “Topic” is what I focused on. Topics included all sorts of subjects like Flowers, Holidays, Toys, Fire Trucks, Cats, Jokes, Nudes, Celebrities, Restaurants, Presidents, Lighthouses and so forth.

As you would expect, I started out looking for baseball-related postcards. Most of the dealers had cards which featured players – the yellow-bordered Baseball Hall Of Fame postcards were pretty common across the show. There were also a fair number of mid-1980’s TCMA postcards of Mets and Yankees, but I didn’t need any of the Mets and I didn’t want any of the Yankees (I did consider a Willie Randolph postcard, but it was a little more than I’d wanted to spend).

There were also postcards featuring ballparks, but I didn’t see any that I wanted.

About halfway through my time at the show… more or less coinciding with the point where my eyes stopped glazing over… I realized that there were other things I could be looking for.

First off was postcards of Long Island, NY… the “stomping grounds” for much of my first 30 years. I couldn’t resist buying this postcard of Roslyn, a town which isn’t terribly far from the Queens border…

…I’ve yet to figure out when this postcard is from, but I’m pretty confident that Rosyln has never looked even remotely like this during my 52 years on this Earth.

The second potential Topic was the 1964 New York World’s Fair… Not so much the fair itself but some of the structures which have fascinated me since I was a child and looking at them passing by while we drove on the Grand Central Parkway on the way to visit family.  For instance, I’ve always loved the Unisphere (as depicted on this Topps Heritage card)…

…but there’s also the Port Authority heliport (currently Terrace On The Park) and the New York State Pavilion (part of which was the “escape vehicle” in the movie “Men In Black”). Unfortunately most of the Worlds Fair postcards I found were of pavilions which didn’t remain after the end of the World’s Fair.

I also found some dealers with “Winter Sports” sections, which I scanned for hockey and curling postcards. I came up empty on curling, but I did find a couple of interesting WHA postcards, but they were kind of expensive, featured players I didn’t know and they didn’t really fit into my collection other than being “neat”.

So what did I buy, other than the Roslyn postcard I already showed you?

Well, I found one dealer who had Cleveland Indians postcards from 1974 and 1975. I bought these two because I really like the uniforms of the time… I started following baseball in 1974 so in my mind the uniforms the Indians wore at that time are the best Indians uniforms ever… Especially the red jerseys.

I was mildly surprised to find out that the Trading Card DB had information on these postcards, but I’m learning that I shouldn’t doubt the mighty tradingcarddb.com. This Jackie Brown postcard and the following postcard are both from the 1975 Cleveland Indians Update set, which also features the “rookie postcard” of Dennis Eckersley. Not surprisingly, I didn’t run across Eck in this box of $1 postcards.

Even if it weren’t for the uniforms, I just love this postcard of pitcher Eric Raich (who I just barely remembered from his 1976 and 1977 Topps cards)…

It’s got a Norman Rockwell-ish vibe about it, especially with the youth of Ohio in the background (Boys who are clearly interested in players who are not Eric Raich… Maybe he’d already signed for them).

One last Indians postcaard, this one from the 1974 team-issued set and featuring George Hendrick:

The final postcard I bought was this 1971 New York Yankees postcard which fills a spot in my modest Fritz Peterson collection.

This is from the 1971 New York Yankees Clinic Day postcard set, and the back features more information than the others, so I’ll share the back from this one:

…actually this gives me opportunity to mention something I thought was interesting… you can see in the upper right that there’s a price and some form of identifying number written there in pencil (more lightly than it looks in my scan).  If one did this on a baseball card, you’ve just shot the value to hell, but apparently it’s not completely out of the question in postcard circles, although you’d think they wouldn’t do it on the really valuable ones.

On the whole, the postcard show was fun. It was *different*. I have not been drawn into the world of postcard collecting as a result, but I’ll strongly consider going to this show when it rolls around again next November. At least then I’d have a better idea of what I’m looking for.

Random Team Review: 1975 Topps Milwaukee Brewers

This post is one of those times I put my thumb on the randomizer’s scale; I wanted to do a 1975 Topps team set, but the choice of team was random.

The 1975 Milwaukee Brewers finished the season with a 68-94 record, which put them in 5th in the American League East… 28 games behind the Red Sox.

Manager Del Crandall was fired before the final game of the season, and rumors were flying that Hank Aaron would be the new manager.  As it turned out, the Brew Crew would be managed by Alex Grammas in 1976, and the team wasn’t any better under him.

Before we get off the team card, I want to show the back of this card, which was dutifully checked-off by me back in 1975.

That’s what you do with checklists… You check them (or color in the squares in my case).

I’m going to get the two most obvious cards out of the way from the start…

Best Rookie card

I’m working on two of these “Random Team” posts simultanously.  The other team has a rough choice of rookie cards.  Not the case with this set.

Robin Yount – who I should point out didn’t turn 20 years old until September, 1975 –  batted .267 with 67 runs, 52 RBI and 28 doubles.

Most Notable Airbrushing
Another “Duh”.

41-year-old Hank Aaron returned to Milwaukee to hit just 12 homers in 1975, his career-lowest for a season with at least 500 PA’s.  He’d also be an All-Star for the 25th and final time (He did play in 1976 but didn’t make the All-Star team).

Best Offensive Player;  Best On-Field Photo

In 1975 George “Boomer” Scott was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and lead the AL with 36 homers and 109 RBI.

Top Pitcher (shown on a card with the Brewers)

Jim Colborn went 11-13, 4.27 with 2 saves in 29 starts and 7 relief appearances.

Top Player pictured with another team:

Pete Broberg had the best record and ERA of anyone in the starting rotation.  He had been acquired in a trade at the 1974 Winter Meetings, and went 14-16, 4.13 with 7 complete games and 2 shutouts.  He also was tops in the American League by hitting 16 batters.

Best Name;  Best Nickname
Stormin’ Gorman Thomas

I should point out that Stormin’ Gorman wouldn’t stand a chance in the “Best Name” competition if Lafayette Currence, a pitcher who made 8 appearances in 1975, was included in 1975 Topps… Let’s not forget Sixto Lezcano, who was a regular in 1975 but whose rookie card was in 1976 Topps.

Best Cartoon

Most Obvious Hint For A Trivia Question

Card With The Most Personal Significance
As I’ve mentioned here before, back in 1975 or possibly 1976, this Ed Sprague was the final card I needed for my 1975 Topps set.

Custom Card Sunday: Going Non-Sports With Two Cars And A Truck

I don’t often publish non-sport customs, but it’s been known to happen. Several factors have recently combined to inspire me to make a few customs in a genre which has a small but valued part in my collection – automotive cards.

There are some new vehicles on the road which have caught my eye, and… well, I’ll be frank about it…  with me starting my 7th year of blogging, I’m less likely to worry about how many people will be interested in something I post.

So, anyway… I’ve been playing with customs like this for several years now, mostly for my own enjoyment  I like the latest batch enough that I figured I’d throw them out here and see if anyone else likes them.  I could be persuaded to post more if there’s any interest.

This first custom is based on a truck that manages to be sexy, but I have to admit, it looks a lot nicer in person than in photos… That’s the International LoneStar.  I saw one of these a couple of years ago and it made me want to get my CDL and become a truck driver.

I haven’t seen very many of these in my part of the country, but I could see these being used by someone who is hauling equipment for a concert or race team… something where you want to be flashy while hauling stuff.

I’ve owned six cars over the past 32 years, and they divide equally into two periods:  Before and after “The 5th Door”.  However, I also like driving cars – I’ve never felt comfortable sitting up high – so my 5th door isn’t on a SUV, crossover or minivan.  I like the very things which are anathema to Americans:  Wagons and hatchbacks.

Anytime I see a new vehicle that fits into these two categories, I always check it out even if it’s beyond my financial capabilities… Such as this beauty…

“Sportbrake” is a variation of “Shooting Brake”;  It’s hard to find a decent 21st century definition of what a Shooting Brake is, but in my mind it’s “a sports coupe or sedan with cargo space in the back”.

This final one was actually the first one I did, and if I continue with this series it’s one I’m likely to re-do.  I saw an Alfa Romeo Giulia in a parking lot a couple of weeks ago, and it made me silently thank the people at Alfa Romeo for making the decision to enter the U.S. car market again.

Now that I’ve finished this first batch of customs, it sort of re-emphasizes what made me want to make them in the first place… If a set like this popped up in the card aisle at Target, I’d definitely buy at least a blaster and could see myself chasing a set. (Hint, hint, Topps, Panini and Upper Deck)

Forgotten Franchises: The ABA’s San Diego Conquistadors / Sails

Going into the 1972-73 season the ABA had two teams fold, so to keep the league with 10 teams the league expanded for the first and only time.  The expansion team was granted to San Diego (which had lost the Rockets to Houston), and that team was called the Conquistadors, or “Q’s” for short.

For the first season the team was coached by K.C. Jones, who would go on to lead the Celtics to two championships and also make the Hall Of Fame as a player.  The team was expected to be horrible, but surprised by being on the low side of mediocre, finishing with a 30-54 record and squeaking into the playoffs.  They got swept by the Utah Stars in the first round.

For their second season, the ownership made a big splash by signing Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain to be their player/coach.  However, a Lakers lawsuit prevented Chamberlain from suiting up, so he remained solely the coach of the Q’s.

1974-75 Topps - [Base] #250 - Wilt Chamberlain - Courtesy of COMC.com

1974-75 Topps – [Base] #250 – Wilt Chamberlain – Courtesy of COMC.com

Wilt’s heart didn’t seem to be in it as solely a coach, so he was one-and-done with the Q’s.  The team did make their second and final playoff appearance, and once again lost to Utah in the first round, but this time they took it to 6 games.

The third season saw two new coaches come and go and ended with a 31-53 record.

After the third season, the team was sold and the name was changed to the San Diego Sails, complete with new colors, new uniforms and mostly new players.

The team made a go of it, but struggled out of the gate, and it also became apparent that the team would never be allowed to join the NBA to compete against the Lakers in southern California.  On 11/12/75 the plug was pulled and the San Diego Sails folded, the second of three ABA teams to fold during that final ABA season.

The NBA’s Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego in 1978 and became the San Diego Clippers. That Clippers team lasted just six seasons before moving north in 1984 to become the Los Angeles Clippers. San Diego has not had an NBA team since.

Featured Cards

Red Robbins was a career ABA guy, having played in 8 seasons with 5 teams, being named All-ABA twice, and winning a league championship with the 1970-71 Utah Stars.

Travis Grant was a 1st round (13th overall) draft pick of the Lakers in 1972.  Early in his second season he was dropped by the Lakers and jumped over to the Q’s.  He’d also play in the ABA for the Kentucky Colonels and Indiana Pacers.

George Adams played in all three seasons that the team was the Conquistadors, but despite what the card says, he didn’t play for the San Diego Sails.

Other notable players
Billy Shepherd – dangerous 3-point shot guy
Chuck Williams – 2nd in the ABA in 1972/73 in Assists
Caldwell Jones – 3rd in the ABA in 1973/74 in Rebounds
Dwight “Bo” Lamar – All-Rookie for the Q’s in 1973/74, would play a season with the Lakers

Subverted Homework Assignment: My Top 25 Cardboard “Values”

I’m not talking about values like you’d find in a copy of Beckett, but a different kind of values…

Recently at work we were invited to (read: “expected to attend”) a meeting which gave an overview of a new “financial wellness” benefit we have. To my surprise, the meeting was interesting and gave us some things to think about, along with some homework we could do if we wanted to move forward with the program.

One of these assignments seemed interesting enough for the intended purpose: Write down 25 values you hold and then when you’ve finished, compare those values against how you spend your money.  By making the list 25 deep one has to get past the obvious stuff and give it some thought and consideration, and by comparing it against your spending habits you can get a better feel for whether you put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

I don’t mean to slight this task, but it occurred to me that it could be fun to apply it to our hobby:  What makes a card something I want and would value?

To make it a little more value-ish and less want list-y, I decided to leave out anything about cards which feature particular players, teams or sets.  I thought listing 25 things would be a challenge, but once I started rolling it got easier.

…And so, more or less in the order they popped into my head:

1 – Cards which feature cameo appearances of teams/players I collect…. This card of Glen Sharpley features Dennis Maruk and his awesome Fu Manchu, but nearly any 1970’s Capital would’ve done the trick.

2 – Goofy poses and/or situations

3 – Original Yankee Stadium;  it’s funny how a lifelong Mets fan can be fascinated by the original home of a team I regard with the utmost of disdain, but I just love seeing The House That Ruth Built in the background… and it doesn’t need to be a baseball card.

4 – Appealing uniforms from before I became a fan

5 – Cars and trucks and trains and planes and spaceships (I would say “machines which move”, except I’m not a boat/ship person for some reason)

6 – The Third Dimension (or a reasonable facsimile thereof)

7 – A colorful “less-is-more” design; Panini designers (who tend to overdo things) should take note that 1975 baseball’s design is classic, but is essentially two slabs of color, a drop-shadow team name and a little baseball icon.

8 – Photography in the artistic sense

9 – A player with a great name

10 – A player with memorable features

11 – Goofy cartoons

12 – Well-done paintings

13 – “International Delight”;  it started with Japanese baseball cards, but now I find myself fascinated with cards from many countries featuring many sports.

14 – What I liked as an 11-year-old;  And if you don’t like this card, then “Up your nose with a rubber hose!  Twice as far with a chocolate bar!”

15 – Cards featuring teams which were brand new at the time

16 – Cards featuring short-lived teams…  especially my beloved Seattle Pilots

17 – Oversized cards

18 – Cards Mrs. Shlabotnik will enjoy; Usually that’s Cal Ripken or Brian Roberts, her two favorite players, but it can also mean cards representing the Beatles, The Monkees or R.E.M.

19 – Cards used for baseball simulation games (even though I rarely use them for their intended gaming purposes)

20 – Players in unfamiliar uniforms (and, in this case, with unfamiliar haircuts)

21 – Vintage cards featuring players who would go on to become the managers of my formative years

22 – Anything involving the sport of Curling

23 – Players I saw as minor leaguers or in college

24 – Teams which existed when I was a kid, but no longer do

25 – 1970’s action shots

I could go on, but I think 25 is more than enough.

…But before I go…

I would like to thank each and every one of you for reading and commenting and generally being my card-collecting buddies — something I didn’t really have between my pre-teen years and my starting this blog. Today is the SIXTH anniversary of The Shlabotnik Report, and I just want you to know I appreciate all of you for making it so much fun. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, EVERYBODY!