The 1970’s, A To Z: Clay Carroll to Norm Cash

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


1974 Topps #111

Played 1964 – 1978
1970’s Teams: Reds, White Sox, Cardinals, Pirates

1970’s Highlights:
All-Star in 1971 and 1972;  Was named the “Leading Fireman” in 1972 and set what was then a record with 37 saves;  Earned two wins and a save in World Series play

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1980


1976 Kellogg’s #34

Played 1974 – 1992
1970’s Teams: Expos

1970’s Highlights:
Was the catcher on the 1975 Topps All-Star Rookie team and The Sporting News named him the NL Rookie of the Year;  Got a first-place vote in the 1979 NL MVP voting, but finished well behind co-winners Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell;

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Canadian Baseball HOF, the Expos HOF and the Mets HOF;  An 11-time All-Star, a 3-time Gold Glove, a 5-time Silver Slugger and a 2-time All-Star Game MVP;  Broke Al Lopez’ NL mark for games caught (2,056);  Lead the league with 106 RBI in 1984;  The Expos retired his #8, and although the Mets have not officially retired #8, nobody has worn it since 2001

Fun Stuff:
Was offered a football scholarship to UCLA before signing with the Expos;  Hit his first Major League homer off of Steve Carlton;  During his 1975 rookie season he played more games as a right fielder than as a catcher;  His brother Gordon played for Giants A-ball Fresno team in 1972 and 1973

Card Stuff:
His 1977 OPC card features a different photo than his Topps card… Here’s his 1977 Topps card (#295)

…and his 1977 O-Pee-Chee (#45)


1976 Topps #156

Played 1963 – 1979
1970’s Teams: Braves, Rangers, Cubs, A’s, Indians, Blue Jays

1970’s Highlights:
Lead the league in batting in 1970 with a .366 average and also lead with a .454 On-Base Percentage;  Had a 31 game Hitting streak that same year, which stood as a Braves team record for 41 years, and was the starting Left Fielder in the 1970 All-Star Game;  Was the first DH in Rangers history

Career Highlights:
Went 3-for-10 with 4 runs scored in the 1969 NLCS vs. the Mets;  He was inducted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame and the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame.

Card Stuff:
In November, 1976, the Blue Jays took Rico Carty from Cleveland with the 10th pick of the expansion draft.  Topps dutifully airbrushed Carty into a Blue Jays uniform…

…But on March 15, 1977, Carty was traded back to the Indians for Rick Cerone and John Lowenstein.  O-Pee-Chee was able to go back and use the original photo of Carty, sans airbrushing.  The best part about all of this is that the Indians traded Rico back to the Blue Jays in March, 1978.


1976 Kellogg’s #16

Played 1969 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Pirates, Phillies, Expos

1970’s Highlights:
Was an All-Star from 1974 to 1976;  Named to the 1970 Topps All-Star Rookie team; Set a single-season record (since broken) in 1975 with 699 AB’s; Took part in a triple play vs. Braves 7/9/71; Got the first hit in Olympic Stadium, 4/15/77;  Was the Expos stolen base leader in 1977;  Lead the league in AB’s for 3 seasons straight;  Lead league in hits in 1975 and triples in 1976

Fun Stuff:
Was the last Expos player to wear #30 before Tim Raines

Card Stuff:
Was released by the Padres at the end of 1981 spring training and didn’t play in the Majors again, so all three of his 1981 baseball cards have his full career stats.


1974 Topps #367

Played:  1958 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
Was an All-Star in 1971 and 1972;

Career Highlights:
In 1961 he lead the league in batting (.361), hits (193) and On-Base Percentage (.487) while hitting 41 homers, scoring 119 runs and getting 132 RBI ;  Batted .385 with a homer, 5 runs scored and 5 RBI in the 1968 World Series;

Fun Stuff:
Started his career with the White Sox, played in the 1959 World Series and was traded to the Indians after the season… but at the beginning of the season, before he took the field for Cleveland, he was traded to Detroit, where he’d spend 15 years

Contrast And Compare: 1977 O-Pee-Chee And Other Cards

I apologize for the drop-off in my posting, but I’ve go so many things going on right now that I’ve kind of lost focus regarding this blog.  I have several posts in the works, but they all require scanning or research or whatever and I haven’t been disciplined enough lately to follow-through on those.

It seems to me that I need something relatively easy to write and with cards already scanned, so I dipped into my reserves for this recurring series where I compare your standard everyday Topps baseball card to something that is very similar, yet different.

I’ll start with a couple of Blue Jays from 1977 Topps and O-Pee-Chee.

First off, here’s the airbrushed Topps version of Canada’s own Dave McKay, who the Toronto Blue Jays acquired from the Twins in the expansion draft.

Because O-Pee-Chee came out later in the year, the cards of the brand-new Jays featured Spring Training photos in that set.  I’ve been chasing down cards like this for a number of years and it still looks odd to me to see an actual photo of a Blue Jays player on what looks like a 1977 Topps design.

Similarly, Otto Velez was drafted by the Yankees… I’ve always felt that this was a pretty good job of airbrushing on this card.

Of course, no airbrush job is going to top an actual photo…

The signature printed on this card shows Velez signing with his actual first name of Otoniel.

Here’s the hot variation from 41 years ago… The 1979 Topps card of Bump Wills correctly shows him with the Rangers…

But there was an error version that lists him with the Blue Jays… almost OPC-ish, you half expect to see “NOW WITH BLUE JAYS” off to the side.

I pulled both of these from packs in 1979 so I always have to look up which one is the “valuable” one… A price guide magazine I have from 2019 lists the error at $1.25 and the corrected at $0.75… so neither one is truly a common.

I’ll wrap up with a pair of cards from 1980… First here’s the Topps card of Keith Hernandez in the batting cage.

I like this card, and I’m not sure why they would change the photo for the Burger King “Pitch Hit and Run” promotion… especially when Keith was part of the “Hit” subset… but change it they did.

I’m not complaining, it gives me a 1980 card that isn’t just a parallel of sorts.

OK, that’s it for now.  I promise that I’m trying to get back in the swing of things again.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Bernie Carbo to Steve Carlton

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


1976 Topps #278

Played 1969- 1980
1970’s Teams: Reds, Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers, Indians

1970’s Highlights:
Named an outfielder on the 1970 Topps All-Star Rookie team, the 1970 Sporting News NL Rookie Player Of The Year and finished 2nd to the Expos’ Carl Morton for the ‘official’ Rookie of the Year award; In Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, he hit a game-tying 3-run pinch-hit homer which set the stage for Carlton Fisk’s famous extra innings homer; Also hit a pinch-hit homer in Game 3 of that series, becoming just the second player to have two pinch-hit homers in a World Series

Career Highlights:
Lead the minor leagues in 1969 with a .359 batting average and was the American Association MVP


1975 Hostess #65

Played 1963 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Phillies, Mets

Career Highlights:
Was named an outfielder on the 1965 Topps All-Star Rookie Team; Tied a Major League record in 1968 by recording two unassisted double plays in the outfield

Fun Stuff:
Cousin of Bert Campaneris;  Played every defensive position except pitcher and catcher;  Tied with A-Rod, Kid Gleason and Ned Hanlon for 129th on the all-time stolen base list;  Among the last Cuban players to leave that country before the borders closed

Card Stuff:
Appeared in 1981 Topps with the Royals, but he’d already finished his career by playing in the 1980 World Series with Kansas City


1972 Topps #562

Played 1960 – 1975
1970’s Teams: Twins, Angels, Indians, Rangers

1970’s Highlights:
Named to his 4th and final All-Star game in 1971;  Involved in a triple play vs. Twins 6/27/72

Career Highlights:
Inducted into Reds HOF; Tied with Ted Kluszewski for most intentional walks in a season (25) in 1965; won a Gold Glove in 1965;  Held the Reds record for home runs by a shortstop with 20 in 1966… I couldn’t tell for certain who currently holds that record, but it’s probably Barry Larkin with 33 homers in 1996;  Hit a solo home run for the only run scored in Reds pitcher Jim Maloney’s 1965 10-inning no-hitter

Fun Stuff
As with Jose Cardenal, he was among the last Cuban players to leave before the borders closed

Card Stuff:
Topps listed him as “Chico” Cardenas from 1960 to 1969 and made the switch to Leo in 1970;  Didn’t appear in 1974 Topps and, not unrelated, played 73 games for the Indians in 1973 without having his time in Cleveland reflected on a baseball card (but he did appear on a 1973 Cleveland Indians postcard)


1979 Topps #300

Played 1967 – 1985
1970’s Teams: Twins, Angels

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991; Was a nearly-unanimous choice for 1967 AL Rookie of the Year receiving 19 of the 20 votes (Boston’s Reggie Smith got the 20th); Over his 19 year career he was named an All-Star 18 times, batted over .300 15 times; Finished his career with 3,053 hits and a .328 career average; In 1969 Carew stole 3 bases in the same inning and stole home 7 times

1970’s Highlights:
Voted the 1977 MVP and 1977 Sporting News AL Player of the Year in a season in which he lead the Majors in batting average (.388), on-base percentage (.449), runs (128) and hits (239), lead the American League in triples (16) and intentional walks (15) and had a career-high 100 RBI; His 1977 season set still-standing Twins/Senators records for batting average and hits; Started the All-Game at either 2nd or 1st from 1971 to 1978; Batted over .300 in every year of the 1970s and won the batting title 6 of those 10 years; Hit for the cycle 5/20/70 vs. Royals; Went 5-for-7 with 2 doubles, 3 walks and 2 RBI in the Brewers 22-inning 4-3 win over Twins, 5/12/72;

Fun Stuff:
His #29 was retired by both the Twins and Angels; Was the Opening Day 2nd baseman in his Major League debut and singled off of Dave McNally in his first career at bat

Card Stuff:
His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card does not have the “AL ALL STAR” banner at the bottom, and as a result you can see his left foot


1974 Topps #95

Played 1965 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Phillies

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994; Four-time Cy Young Award winner; A ten-time All-Star and 1981 Gold Glove winner; Had 329 career wins and 4,136 career strikeouts; Holds the Phillies career records with 241 wins, 499 Starts and 3031 K’s; His 4,136 career strikeouts ranks 4th all-time behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens; was the last pitcher to throw 300 innings in a season; Started and won the 1969 All Star Game and got a double

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the Sporting News NL Pitcher of the Year in 1972 and 1977; In 1972 he won the Cy Young, lead the Majors in wins (27) and complete games (30) and lead the National League in ERA (1.97), strikeouts (310) and innings pitched (346.1)… Also that season he became the second National League pitcher to top 300 K’s in a season; Won his second Cy in 1977 and ‘only’ lead the league in wins (23); Pitched a complete game for a win in the first game at Olympic Stadium, 4/15/77

The All-Time Strikeout Record:
As commemorated on a 1984 Topps card, Carlton, Nolan Ryan and Gaylord Perry all broke Walter Johnson’s career strikeout record in 1983. Perry retired after that 1983 season, but Carlton and Ryan continuously set new records and passed each other through the 1984 season. In 1985 Carlton had just 85 to Ryan’s 205 and Ryan had the record for good.

Fun Stuff:
His 27 wins in 1972 was 45.8% of the 59-97 Phillies’ team wins, the 2nd highest win totals on that team was 7 (Bucky Brandon); On September 15, 1969 Carlton struck out 19 Mets but lost 4-3… Future Royals star Amos Otis struck out 4 times in that game; Gave up Andre Dawson’s first Major League hit, 9/13/76; Appeared as himself on an episode of “Married… With Children”

Pack Animal! 2020 Diamond Kings and Big League

I was in a big box retail store the other day looking for blasters of Topps Big League and since I also found hangers of 2020 Panini Diamond Kings – and given that I’ve spent very little on cards in 2020 so far – I gave in to impulse and bought that as well.

This is actually the first time I’ve bought any sort of packs of Diamond Kings… it’s generally something I pick up after the fact from dime boxes. I think it’s as nice a product as Panini puts out and when they’re in front of me I say “Yeah, I should get more of these”, but unless I run across them at a show I don’t think to look for them.  I know this is damning with faint praise, but I do like the cards in general.

The cards are pretty expensive for this cheapskate:  20 cards for $9.99.  At 50 cents per card, my main hope was to find something I could send to trading buddies (largely successful on that part) and to pull something I might be able to sell on COMC (jury is still out on that one).

So this card was on top of the cello pack inside the cardboard hanger

The cards are, as always, textured like canvas and kinda stinky.  They have an odd smell to them.

One complaint I’ve heard from others – which I wasn’t aware of because I don’t get much exposure to DK sets – is that they reuse the photos.  A quick search on COMC shows this same photo used on Cronin’s 2017 DK base card, and on his 2018 photo variation card.  In this case, that’s not my “problem” because this card is being shipped off to a buddy.

Since we just passed the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, I’ll share this card of HOFer Mule Suttles, who has very few cards in general, much less Diamond King cards.

I find it kind of interesting that there’s no team listed for Suttles.  I can see not wanting to list St. Louis or Chicago because you didn’t want to cause confusion, but how about Newark or Birmingham?  I don’t know, it’s just something that occurred to me.

For more contemporary players, this Mauricio Dubon card is my favorite of the pack.  It’s interesting that the “paint splatter” design is the same for all the cards, but the effect is different depending on how the player is standing.

And there’s also the “Lone Ranger” Nick Solak.  For those who don’t get the reference, Solak was the only Texas Ranger in this year’s Topps Series One.

One more “legend”, this time it’s Harvey Kuenn.  I do appreciate how they seem to feature veterans who haven’t been “Topps-ed” to death.

Here’s a nice-looking red-framed parallel… The frame is actually an extra layer of a felt-like material.  This photo of Eddie Stanky was used in last year’s set.

Insert time… “The 3000”, featuring Eddie Murray in this case.  You can’t tell from the scan, but parts of this card are done in gold foil.  While I collect Orioles, I think I know someone who might appreciate it more than I would.  Or maybe not.  Time will tell.

All-Time Diamond Kings… I got  Randy Johnson and Roberto Clemente in my hanger.

This is nice looking, I don’t care that it’s not licensed.  I appreciate how they use a gold background to make the card Pirates colors without actually violating any trademarked uses of black and gold.

That’s about all I have to say about those.  I have yet to check out the entire DK checklist, but it seems like every player I pulled is either from decades ago or is a rookie.  I’m sure there must be Trouts and deGroms in there as well, but I pulled a lot of guys like Randy Arozarena and Travis Demeritte… which is fine and dandy in terms of my “Current Rosters” binders, as I don’t think I had cards of Arozarena and Demeritte.

OK, moving on to the other purchase I made… I know I’m late to the “Big League” show, but I have to say that I’m enjoying these cards as much as I thought I was going to enjoy Heritage this year.

Yeah, yeah, they look like 2009 O-Pee-Chee, but derivative is not a four-lettered word in my book.  These cards look like something I’d create by mashing together two different sets or by morphing a subset card from some vintage set… and that’s a compliment on my part.

The card backs are team colored, which is fun.  The ones with blue borders and red type (which I didn’t scan) remind me of some oddball I can’t put my finger on.  Yes, that’s what it’s come to with me – This thing I won’t show you looks like this thing I can’t remember.  Just remember how much you paid for your subscription to The Shlabotnik Report.

Quick note to Topps:  You’ve got to stop doing the “Yellow text on a white background” thing.  It don’t work.

One thing I noticed which is the quibbliest of quibbles… The colored borders are really really narrow and the eye… or at least the middle-aged eye… doesn’t necessarily recognize them as distinct colors.

I think it would’ve looked better to have, fr’instance, a single orange border than two narrow black and orange borders.


Anyway, that’s just me.

My favorite Big League card so far, which pretty much by default makes it my favorite 2020 card so far:

BTW, I also appreciate how the design works just fine whether horizontal or vertical.

I like this set so much that I really wish that the checklist were larger and didn’t have a fair amount of the checklist taken up by subsets like “Award Winners” (especially Trout, who appears quite a lot in this set)

…but I do like how the subset title seamlessly fits in this design.

I’m amused that all three of the Stolen Base Leaders are shown running… but obviously not stealing bases.  Player names on the front would’ve been nice, but again, quibbly quibbles.

To paraphrase Indiana Jones:  “Sabathia.  Why did it have to be Sabathia?”

Topps has this way of making me think “Oh, that Yankee star player has retired so I don’t have to pull cards of him anymo—- SON OF A….!!!!”

Parallel time:

While I recognize that my Orioles and Mets would probably look pretty nice in these parallels, I am hereby declaring to the universe that I need to reduce the number of cards in my collection and I am done with parallels!  DONE, I TELL YOU!

Caricature subset.  For some reason I’m thinking of the car insurance ad where the caricature artist is drawing the commercial’s cameraman with an exaggerated cap and enormous sandwich, to which the cameraman responds “I don’t see it”.

I’ll miss not seeing Mancini out on the field this season… assuming I don’t miss seeing every Major Leaguer on the field this season.  I have serious doubts.

But get well soon, Trey.  I’m sending positive thoughts out into the universe for you.

OK, last card… “Roll Call” insert of Bryce Harper.  Part of me hopes Harper gets back on track so I can go back to disliking him as a rival player.

OK, so that’s it… As of right now, these are my Topps and Panini sets of the year.

How do you feel about this year’s Diamond Kings and Big Leagues sets?

The 1970’s, A To Z: Bill Campbell to Buzz Capra

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


1974 Topps #26

Played 1973 – 1987
1970’s Teams: Twins, Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
Won the AL “Fireman” Award in 1976 and 1977;  In 1976 he lead the league with a .773 winning percentage (17-5) and games pitched (78); After the 1976 season he signed a big-for-the-day 5-year $1 million contract with the Red Sox; In 1977 he was an All-Star, lead the league with 31 saves and also got a first place vote in Cy Young voting (although he finished 5th overall)

Fun Stuff:
Those 17 wins in 1976 are the 2nd most in history for a pitcher who never started a game (Roy Face set the pace with 18 relief wins in 1959);

Card Stuff:
Campbell’s 1977 OPC card has a different, airbrushed photo than 1977 Topps; Since Campbell’s 1970s cards aren’t the most visually stimulating, I decided to feature his 1974 rookie card


1972 Topps #384

NOTE:  This is the Dave Campbell who was formerly on ESPN

Played 1967 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Padres, Cardinals, Astros

1970’s Highlights:
Lead NL 2nd Basemen in PO & Assists in 1970; lead Padres in steals in 1970;  Started his broadcasting career in 1972 after a season-ending injury

Career Highlights:
Batted just .213 over his career and in the one season he played enough to qualify for the batting title, he batted .219

Fun Stuff:
Did voice work for the “MLB: The Show” PlayStation game

Card Stuff:
His 1974 Topps card lists him as INF – OF, but he played only 4 games in the outfield over his career


1978 Topps #402

Played 1977 – 1978
1970’s Teams: Braves

1970’s Highlights:
Pitched 118 games over two seasons, all in relief; lead the 1977 Braves with 13 saves but only had 1 save in 1978 and was done in the Majors after that

Fun Stuff:
Born in Princeton, IN, hometown of Gil Hodges


1979 Hostess #86

Played 1975 – 1993
1970’s Teams: Pirates

1970’s Highlights:
No-hit the Dodgers on August 9, 1976 and became just the 2nd Pirate to throw a no-hitter in Pittsburgh; In 1977 he lead the league with a .800 winning percentage (20-5), a 2.34 ERA and he got a first place vote in the Cy Young voting but finished a distant 5th behind winner Steve Carlton; Pirates Opening Day starter in 1978; Lost Game 3 of the 1979 World Series but beat Jim Palmer in Game 6

Career Highlights:
Won 177 games over 19 seasons; After being traded to the Angels during the 1985 season, he was named the 1986 AL Comeback Player of the Year

Fun Stuff:
The Candy Man pitched in Class A Charleston, SC in 1973 and in AAA Charleston, WV in 1974 and 1975 – If I had the time and if my cartooning skills weren’t rusty, I would’ve made a fake card back cartoon based on this… A confused-looking Candelaria saying “Which Charleston is this Charleston?”


1976 Hostess #85

Played 1971 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Mets, Braves

1970’s Highlights:
After a couple of years in the Mets bullpen, Capra was sold to the Braves in March 1974 had a breakout season, leading the NL with a 2.28 ERA, winning 16 games (his only season with double-digit wins) and being named the June Pitcher of the Month; After Capra’s 1974 workload, arm issues all but derailed his career; Played for the 1973 NL Champion Mets but did not make a postseason appearance

Fun Stuff:
Capra’s first career RBI came off of HOFer Juan Marichal and got him a 1-0 victory over the Giants; According to Baseball Reference, Capra is the last Major Leaguer listed to go by the name “Buzz”

Vintage Steelers Cards And Uniforms

It’s been a while since I did a simple “Hey, look at these cards!” posts, so I figured I’d share some football cards I got at a show early this year.  One of the dealers at this show had some great prices on vintage football… while I don’t have any real goals regarding vintage football, I just enjoy picking up cards at the right price.  Although I grew up on Long Island, I’ve been a Steelers fan since the 1980s I tend to gravitate towards the black and gold when buying vintage, even if I have no real plans to chase team sets older than the 1970’s.

So before this show my oldest football card was from 1958, but I was able to push a few years past that and fill in some gaps in the process.

The latest acquisition which can hold the title of “The oldest football card I own” is from the 1955 Bowman set… Actually, this and the other 1955 Bowman card I bought are the only Bowman football cards I own (not that I own a lot of Bowman baseball either).

It’s an interesting set in a number of ways… the colored background with a white “glow” around the player being the main reason.  It’s interesting that the card also points out that Frank Varrichione is a rookie.  Unlike today, that had nothing to do with whether kids should go out and hoard as many Frank Varrichione cards as they could.  Varrichione was a member of a heralded, undefeated Notre Dame team, and would be named to four Pro Bowls during his time as a Steeler.

Moving forward to 1957, here’s a Topps card of Jack Butler.  Check out that helmet!

Butler is in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame, was named to the Steelers all-time team and the NFL’s All-1950s Team.  He also retired as the Steelers record-holder for most career interceptions (a record since broken).

From 1958 Topps, here’s Jack Butler again wearing another notable helmet.

Not only is the helmet the reverse of what we are all familiar with, but there’s no logo.  The jerseys might be familiar from the throwbacks the Steelers have worn recently.

1960 Topps Steelers team card… Can’t think of much to say about it, other than it’s a nice-looking card.

Lou Michaels, shown here on a 1963 Topps card, was an outstanding defensive lineman for the University of Kentucky, he is an inductee into the College Football Hall Of Fame, made the Pro Bowl in 1962 and 1963, and – this is my favorite part – he was also a placekicker who lead the league in field goals in 1962.  Lou’s brother was Walt Michaels, who played in the NFL and coached the Jets.

The Steelers added a logo in 1962, but I don’t know enough about football uniforms to say whether that means that this photo is from before 1962.

Here’s another card from 1963 featuring Ernie Stautner.  I love this version of the Northwestern stripes on the white jersey!

Stauntner, who was born in Bavaria, is in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame and his #70 was the only officially retired Steelers number for 50 years until Joe Greene’s #75 was retired in 2014.  There are obviously a number of unofficially-retired numbers, as you don’t see anybody wearing 12 or 32.

OK, last card is from 1969 Topps and shows the…um… unique “Batman” uniforms from the late 1960’s.  If I’m understanding things correctly, the uniforms were meant to pay tribute / draw attention to the Golden Triangle area of downtown Pittsburgh.  It’s not the best look in Steelers history, and one they’ve yet to throw back to.
Paul Martha was born in Pittsburgh, went to the University of Pittsburgh and was the 10th overall pick in the 1964 draft.  He went to law school during his professional career and would go on to be an executive with the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Francisco 49ers

The 1970’s, A To Z: Enos Cabell to Bert Campaneris

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


1977 Topps #567

Played 1972 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Orioles Astros

1970’s Highlights:
In 1978 he lead the Astros in hits (195), runs (92) and was named “Most Valuable Astro”;  Involved in two Triple Plays – O’s vs A’s 7/7/73 and Astros vs Reds 4/6/78; Stole home against Braves, June 27, 1975; Originally an Orioles prospect blocked by Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell, he was part of a December, 1974 trade to the Astros which also involved DH/1B Lee May

Fun Stuff:
Cousin of Dick Davis and Ken Landreaux; Appeared in the movie “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training”


1971 Topps #101

Played 1968 – 1972
1970’s Teams: Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
Was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team in 1970 with a 12-7 record, 3.84 ERA and 156 Ks;  Gave up Carlton Fisk’s first MLB hit (a homer) in 1971

Fun Stuff:
Won a workman’s comp case against the Tigers, arguing that Billy Martin forced him to pitch with a sore arm and ended his career prematurely;  His 1971 card shows that he’d signed his name as “Les ‘Sugar’ Cain”.

Card Stuff:
Appeared in the 1971 Kellogg’s set


1976 Topps #157

Played 1971 – 1984
1970’s Teams: Padres, Giants, Reds, Brewers

Career Highlights:
Named to Brewers Wall of Honor; Holds Brewers career mark with 81 complete games

1970’s Highlights:
His 1978 season set several still-standing Brewers single-season records: 22 wins, 2.36 ERA, 6 shutouts and 23 complete games; he also won the American League Comeback Player of the Year award that year; Was named the Brewers Opening Day Starter in 1979; Lead 1974 Giants with 14 wins

Card Stuff:
Pitched 14 games for the Reds in 1977, but never appeared on a baseball card with that team… Caldwell was acquired by the Cardinals in October 1976 from the Giants (in a deal that also saw five other players airbrushed in 77T).  However, he was traded to the Reds at the end of 1977 Spring Training and the Reds traded him to the Brewers that June.

Just for fun, I took Caldwell’s 1977 Topps card…

…and photoshopped the image so that he’s faux-airbrushed into a Reds uniform.


1972 Topps #364

Played 1958-1973
1970’s Teams: Cubs, Yankees

Career Highlights:
Hit a Walk-off three-run homer in the 1964 All-Star game, which got him the game’s MVP award;  Had two seasons with 100 runs and two with 100 RBI; Named to the Philadelphia Baseball Hall Of Fame

Fun Stuff:
Both he and Boog Powell have “John Wesley” as their first and middle names (thanks to 1973 Topps for this bit of trivia)


1975 Topps #170

Played 1964 – 1983
1970’s Teams: A’s, Rangers, Angels

Career Highlights:
Lead league in hits in 1968; lead league in SB’s 6 times; Career .311 BA and 649 SB’s and 1181 Runs; 6 time all-star;  Holds the A’s career record with 1795 games, 7180 AB’s and 1882 hits; Held the A’s career stolen base record before Rickey Henderson came along;  Was the shortstop on the 1964 Topps All-Star Rookie team;  Inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019 (Update:  the A’s didn’t have a HOF until 2018, and Campy was in the 2nd class of inductees… so it’s not a slight on him that he wasn’t inducted until last year)

1970’s Highlights:
He was the starting shortstop for the AL All-Star team from 1973 to 1975;  Stole 5 bases against the Twins on 5/24/76;  Holds the Senators/Rangers single season record with 40 sacrifices in 1977

The game where he played all nine positions:
On Sept. 8, 1965 against the Angels, Campy batted leadoff and played one inning at each of the 9 positions, in the following order:  SS, 2B, 3B, LF, CF, RF, 1B, P, C.  The game went into extra innings and Campaneris came out after the 9th.  He made an error as a right fielder which lead to an unearned run.  As a batter he went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.  As a pitcher he gave up a hit, 2 walks and an earned run over his inning pitched.  The Angels won 5-3 in 13 innings, and Campy didn’t play 1st, right, pitcher or catcher in any other MLB game before or after

Fun Stuff
He’s the cousin of Jose Cardenal;  Although he hit just 79 career homers, he hit two dingers off of Jim Kaat in his MLB debut, including one on the first pitch he saw

Card Stuff:
Appeared on a World Series card in 1973 Topps and 2 World Series cards in 1974 Topps

What To Do, What To Do: 1981 Donruss

For a long time, I regarded 1981 Donruss as… well, frankly, as a thrown-together crap set.  Lately, though, I’ve started to wonder if I’d been too harsh on it, and I’ve even found myself getting nostalgic about it.  Crap or not, it was still one of the first two non-Topps sets I’d ever chased to any degree.  The other was 1981 Fleer, and I completed that set the same year.  I also completed 1981 Topps in 1981 because the competition sort of re-energized my enthusiasm for collecting.  There was never any doubt, though, that Donruss was a distant third to the other two.  At the time I was in high school, didn’t have a girlfriend or much of what many people would regard “a life”… and even so I didn’t get halfway through 81D.

…But lately I’ve been picking up cards like these…

…and I start to waffle a bit and think maybe I’d misjudged the set.  I even started to think about completing the set.  I don’t have the Tim Raines rookie card, but it can be had for a few bucks.  Maybe I should go for it?

But do I really need to have three complete flagship sets from the same year?  Am I being overly nostalgic about a set that was clearly rushed to market before the courts changed their minds about the Topps monopoly?

To get prepared for this post, I went through my binder which holds 1981 and 1982 Donruss and I ran across less-than-stellar cards like these….

And that got me going the other direction… Maybe instead of fishing, I should cut bait on this, and pull everything but the best cards from the 9-pocket pages.

But then the nostalgia kicked in again, given that it was one of the first 10 sets I collected…

Because I’ve lately been into the idea of the cards for a given year acting like a yearbook, I like the idea of having as many players as possible represented in binders for a given year, so I started looking into what Donruss might offer in terms of players, managers and coaches who weren’t in the other two sets.

I knew that Tim Raines’ only non-update solo rookie card was in Donruss… Fleer didn’t have him at all, and Topps had him on a three-player “Future Star” card, and also in the “Traded” set.  I got to wondering what other Donruss “exclusives” there might be.  When I bumped the checklist up against the Topps and Fleer checkists, turned out to be more than I’d expected.

I haven’t done a huge amount of double-checking of my findings, but these are the players, coaches and managers who are in 81D but don’t have their own card in Topps or Fleer. They generally fall into three categories.

First, there are the players, managers and coaches I found in 81D who were not in 81T or 81F… most notably coaches Yogi Berra and Red Schoendienst.

79 Dave Rosello
267 Dave Rajsich
270 Tom Buskey
310 George Frazier
322 Dell Alston
351 Yogi Berra
431 Red Schoendienst
497 Mike Edwards
509 Nelson Norman
516 Willie Norwood
600 Pat Kelly

Second there are rookies who had solo cards in 81D, were not in 81F and who appeared on multi-player “Future Stars” cards in 81T:

42 Leo Sutherland
535 Steve Macko
538 Tim Raines (was in 1981 Topps Update)
545 Bob Pate
575 Mookie Wilson
594 Gary Ward

(Just a side note, my Mookie scan came out blurrier than the actual cards for some reason)

And finally, there are managers who had cards in 81D, didn’t appear in 81F and who had just little inset photos on team cards in 81T:

327 Bob Rodgers
415 Dallas Green
436 Dave Bristol
442 Dave Garcia
464 Jim Frey
500 Gene Michael
522 Joe Amalfitano
527 John Goryl

I’m thinking that I might fill out these three types of cards, regardless of what happens with the rest of the set… but that’s still up in the air.

One 1981 Donruss item I have which is not in a binder but really needs to be is this 1981 Donruss wax pack wrapper. It’s interesting to note how little space the Donruss logo got on the front of the pack… almost like they only wanted you to know they’re BASEBALL CARDS and hoping you don’t notice whose baseball cards they are.

So, in conclusion I’m going to say that there is no conclusion here. I don’t think I’d chase the set, but I may be persuaded to do so. I don’t think I’d get rid of the cards I’ve had for 39 years, but I wouldn’t be totally averse to it… especially the checklists, which seem to have a little bit of a premium yet have no real value to me (and are arguably not part of the set since they’re unnumbered).

What to do… what to do…  BTW, I’m open to suggestions, if you have any.

Most Cards Of A Player For Each Team In My Collection

This post started out as an early attempt to do something unusual for my 2000th post.  It turned out to be not interesting enough for 2000… but just interesting enough to not throw away.

The general idea was to go through my collection’s database and try to figure out which player for each team has the most cards.  I knew up front that this exercise was going to be dominated by the 1990’s and early 2000’s, when cards were plentiful and my expenses were relatively few.  Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun and maybe give me a little insight into… I dunno, something.

Now these results would never stand up in a court of law, given that many of my oddballs are not in my database and – depending on where I got the checklist information from – not every set in my database has team information.  Plus there are combo cards and league leaders which wouldn’t show up under a particular player’s name.  What it all comes down to is that none of this is worth my spending a week on data analysis.

In order of greatest to least population…

Baltimore Orioles – Cal Ripken, 188 cards

I expected Cal to be on top.  There may have been more cards of Cal than any other Oriole, plus I make a moderate effort of collecting him for a number of reasons (not least of which is because Mrs. Shlabotnik loves Cal and she likes to check out any new cards of him that I get… which is as far as her interest goes, but I realize this is still more than most collector’s wives).

New York Mets – David Wright – 87 cards

No big surprise that David Wright “won” the Mets, for a good long while he seemed to be in every insert set put out… but I was surprised that he narrowly beat out John Franco.

I sometimes feel a little guilty that I don’t LOVE David Wright.  I mean, I like David Wright and I appreciate everything he’d done for the team, but there’s always been someone I liked more on the Mets (like Jose Reyes or R.A. Dickey)

St. Louis Cardinals – Ozzie Smith – 71 cards
I’m not sure why this is, but if one of my friends is SUPER into a player, like my friend Ann is about The Wizard Of Oz, then I tend to kinda sorta like that player as well. This is despite the fact that Ann has never seen my collection.

San Diego Padres – Tony Gwynn – 69 cards
Tony Gwynn’s presence this high on the list is something I’ll attribute to the fact that I respect him and he was everywhere on cardboard for a while.

Seattle Mariners – Edgar Martinez – 60 cards
I always thought Edgar Martinez was an underrated player and as a result I kinda sorta almost collected him.  Even now, as a HOFer, he still seems underrated.

Texas Rangers – Rafael Palmeiro – 58 cards
(*sigh*) Raffy, Raffy, Raffy. I really liked him before the whole PED situation. I’d like to think he was innocent but I honestly don’t know what to think.

New York Yankees – Derek Jeter – 58 cards

Sheesh… I really do not like his Jeterness and yet I have 58 cards of his?  I did a slightly different query on my database and found that I have *NINE* cards of his from various 1999 sets and eight from 2007 sets.


This will definitely be addressed.

Kansas City Royals – George Brett – 57 cards
I’ve got a complete run of George Brett’s Topps base cards from 1975 to 1994… for what that’s worth given that I’m not a particular fan of Brett’s… I like his brother Ken better, TBH.

Oakland Athletics – Rickey Henderson – 56 cards
I’m a little surprised that Rickey isn’t higher on my list, it seems like I have more of his cards than this… but I guess when you consider that about a third of his career was spent on teams other than the A’s, I guess it does seem about right.

Atlanta Braves – Tom Glavine – 53 cards
Glavine narrowly beat out John Smoltz, Chipper and Andruw Jones

Chicago White Sox – Frank Thomas – 52 cards

The fact that this is Frank Thomas and not Robin Ventura (who I like far, far more than The Big Hurt) means that I’ve got too many Frank Thomas cards… and need more Robin Ventura cards.

Washington Nationals – Ryan Zimmerman – 51 cards
I saw Ryan Zimmerman play before he made his MLB debut, so he’s a favorite of mine even though I generally don’t like the Nats. FYI, I’m counting relocated franchises separately, so there’s another entry coming up for the Expos.

Houston Astros – Craig Biggio – 50 cards
Biggio is about my age and grew up in the same county on Long Island where I grew up (Suffolk County, NY), and while I collect other players who are from Suffolk, I don’t collect Biggio… and I honestly can’t say why I don’t.  I will say that I sometimes lose interest in collecting a player when there are too many cards.

Cincinnati Reds – Barry Larkin – 49 cards
For all the Barry Larkin cards I own, I had surprisingly few Barry Larkin cards among my scans. That’s why I had to dip into the 2002 MLB Showdown well for the third time in this post.

Philadelphia Phillies – Mike Schmidt – 49 cards
Um, I don’t have much to say about Mike Schmidt.

San Francisco Giants – Barry Bonds – 49 cards

Repeat here what I said about Jeter.  BTW, this card is a pre-production sample of 2002 Topps Total.

Chicago Cubs – Ryne Sandberg – 48 cards

Montreal Expos – Gary Carter – 45 cards
If I were doing a list of players regardless of team, Gary Carter would have twice as many cards.

Colorado Rockies – Todd Helton – 43 cards
Someone from the Rockies had to be on this list.

Milwaukee Brewers – B.J. Surhoff – 41 cards
I’ve been a fan of B.J.’s from his time with the Orioles.

Boston Red Sox – Dwight Evans – 39 cards
This was a moderate surprise… I do like Dewey more than most Red Sox, but there were a number of players (Boggs, Nomar, Pedro, Rice, Yaz, Big Papi) right on his tail.

Detroit Tigers – Alan Trammell – 39 cards
I thought this was going to be Justin Verlander, but Trammell narrowly won out.

Cleveland Indians – Jim Thome – 37 cards
In another few years this will likely belong to Francisco Lindor… And yes, I know this is a Canton-Akron Indians card, but I also didn’t count it as part of the 37.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Mike Piazza – 35 cards
Players with a Mets connection will always benefit in this rundown. Piazza would probably be higher on this list if I included all of the oddballs from small sets.

Minnesota Twins – Kirby Puckett – 35 cards

Toronto Blue Jays – Carlos Delgado – 35 cards
At one point I automatically picked up any cards of players who had played with the Mets, regardless of how I felt about that player and which team he’s with on the card… Which is not to say that I don’t like Carlos Delgado, but he’s also not a huge favorite.

California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels – Darin Erstad – 31 cards
This kind of surprised me. Tim Salmon came in a close second.

Man, I hate those “Disney” Angels uniforms.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Randy Johnson – 28 cards
I’ve been organizing my 2005 cards lately, so that’s why both Todd Helton and The Big Unit are represented by 2005 Donruss

Florida/Miami Marlins – Jeff Conine – 26 cards
Like with B.J. Surhoff, I’m a fan of “Niner” from his time with the O’s.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Bobby Bonilla – 26 cards
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go ahead and make your jokes about how the Mets are still paying Bobby Bo.

Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays – Aubrey Huff – 21 cards
Aubrey Huff is a divisive figure these days, but I liked him as a player. I would’ve bet a blaster of Topps Opening Day that Evan Longoria would be the Devil Rays champion, but he just missed with 20 cards.

Milwaukee Braves – Del Crandall – 6 cards
I started buying a couple of Del Crandall cards as part of my “Managers of the 1970s” collection, but the more I learned about him, the more I liked him.

Original Washington Senators – Eddie Yost – 5 cards
Eddie Yost was basically the same as Del Crandall – started collecting because he was a Mets coach when I was a kid, grew to appreciate him as a player.

“New” Washington Senators – Frank Howard – 4 cards
I’ve got a number of cards of Hondo in my collection, but many of them came with the Dodgers, Rangers and, from his time as a manager, the Mets.

Seattle Pilots – Tommy Harper and Mike Hegan – 4 cards
I collect the Pilots, so it’s a small surprise that it’s only 4 of each player, but then again this is based mainly on the vintage inserts of each player. Don Mincher was also a contender.

Kansas City Athletics – Ed Charles – 4 cards
Ed Charles has the Mets background so there’s no surprise he’s here.

Brooklyn Dodgers – Rube Walker – 3 cards
Like Eddie Yost, a Mets coach in the 1970s.

New York Giants – Hank Thompson – 3 cards
There’s no real reason why I have a small collection of Hank Thompson cards, it just worked out that way… but I’m thinking I’m going to lean into it.

Houston Colt .45’s – Numerous players tied with 1 card
For the purposes of this post, I’m treating this Astros predecessor as existing from 1962 to 1964, even though some Colt .45 caps sneaked into 1965 Topps.

Boston Braves – no cards
St. Louis Browns – no cards
This last one surprised me… I mean, I’ve got a St. Louis Browns cap, but I don’t have any vintage Browns cards?  I thought I had some, but I might be thinking of reprints or TCMA cards or some other throwback which came after the Browns left St. Louis in 1953. Last night I started to address this issue by picking up a Dick Kryhoski card on COMC.

The Boston Braves are likely going to have to wait until I find an affordable early 1950’s Del Crandall card.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Tom Burgmeier To Steve Busby

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


1975 Topps #478

Played 1968 – 1984
1970’s Teams: Royals, Twins, Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
In 1971 he went 9-7 with 17 saves and a 1.73 ERA

Career Highlights:
Made 745 appearances with just 3 starts; In 1980 he had a career-high 24 saves and was named to the All-Star team; Made 39 career pinch running appearances and had 3 appearances in the outfield (all in the 9th inning); Originally signed by the Colt .45s, broke in with the Angels and taken by the Royals in the expansion draft;  Pitched to the age of 41

Fun Stuff:
In American Legion ball, he pitched an 11-inning no-hitter with 23 strikeouts and still lost 2-1


1978 Topps #245

Played 1974 – 1987
1970’s Teams: Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
The starting shortstop for the American League in the 1977 All-Star Game and also named to the 1978, 1979 and 1981 teams;  Won a Gold Glove in 1979;  Voted the Red Sox Rookie of the Year in 1974;  Involved in two Triple plays against Angels in 1979 (May 10 and July 23)

Career Highlights:
Has a career .318 postseason batting average (Two ALCS and a WS); Inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2002

Card Stuff:
His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card has cropping that’s different from the Topps card


1979 Topps #98

Played 1973 – 1987
1970’s Teams: Cubs, Yankees, Mets

1970’s Highlights:
Cubs Opening Day Starter 1976 & 1977; Won 15 games in 1975 and 1976;  Was named the August 1976 NL Pitcher of the Month (6-1, 1.89 ERA); Was the only Cubs pitcher to not allow a run in the wild 23-22 Phillies win over the Cubs on 5/17/79 (pitched 1.2 innings)

Career Highlights:
Pitched brilliantly with the Expos in the 1981 NLCS – he shut out the Dodgers in Game 2 and in the deciding Game 5 had a pitcher’s duel with Fernando Valenzuela until Rick Monday homered off of Steve Rogers in the 9th to send the Dodgers to the World Series


1974 Topps #223

Played 1970 – 1985
1970’s Teams: Senators, Rangers, Braves

1970’s Highlights:
Was the 1974 AL MVP for the surprising Texas Rangers, a team which won 84 games and finished in 2nd after losing 105 games the year before; In that 1974 season he lead the league with 118 RBI, batted .301 with 84 runs, 25 homers and 99 walks; Also in 1974 he was the starting left fielder in the All-Star game; Hit 3 grand slams in 10 days beginning on July 26, 1973; With the Braves in 1977, his 41 homers were second in the league to George Foster’s 52

Career Highlights:
The Senators picked him 1st overall in the 1969 draft; His first postseason appearance was also his last career appearance – pinch-hitting for the Blue Jays in the 1985 ALCS

Fun Stuff:
Father of former MLBer Sean Burroughs — Jeff also coached Sean’s team in the 1992 and 1993 Little League World Series

Card Stuff:
This 1974 Topps card made another appearance in the 1975 Topps set as part of the “25 Years Of Topps Baseball Cards” subset


1974 Topps #365

Played 1972 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Royals

1970’s Highlights:
Burned brightly but briefly with 16, 22 and 18 wins in his first three full seasons, but injuries and rotator cuff surgery took their toll; No-hit the Tigers on April 27, 1973 – just his 10th career start – and became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter while never coming to bat (1973 was the first year of the DH in the AL); Also no-hit the Brewers in 1974; Was named the Sporting News AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1973; Was the Royals’ Opening Day starter in 1973 and 1975;

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Royals HOF in the initial class of 1986; All-American in 1971 with USC

Fun Stuff:
A cousin of OF Jim Busby who played for a number of teams in the 1950s and early 1960s; Gave up Ron Santo’s final career homer (#342 in 1974)

Card Stuff:
His 1975 card actually shows catcher Fran Healy

And we’ve now finished the B’s!

I have to admit, when I started this in January I didn’t think that it would take six months to get through A & B.