Fashionably Late COMC Black Friday #2: Hockey

Another batch of cards from COMC, this time hockey.  For someone who stopped following the NHL a dozen years ago, I’ve been acquiring a fair amount of hockey.

Back in September, I pondered working towards completing one of the 1970’s hockey sets I’d collected as a kid. I never formally committed to finishing either of the finalists, but I was leaning heavily towards 1977/78 Topps. As a sort of prelude for working on that set, I got one of the key cards on my wantlist, this lovely Guy Lafleur.
Ah, but the best-laid plans of mice and men… For better or for worse, the “complete a hockey set” idea has been shelved for the time being. There are a couple of things at play, but the biggest issue arose when I realized that most of my usual sources of cards are good for vintage hockey or recent hockey, but nothing in between. These are far from insurmountable obstacles, but it rapidly became more trouble than it’s worth to me at this moment. I’m sure I’ll come back to it at some point, but for now, it’s been downgraded to “Keep half-an-eye out for deals” status.

Usually when someone speaks of a “cameo appearance” on a card, it involves a HOFer who happens to appear on someone else’s card. Me being who I am, it doesn’t always work that way for me.

Exhibit A: This 1993-94 OPC Premier card of Hockey HOFer Joe Sakic.
If this card featured only Sakic, I wouldn’t look at it twice… but I was a Washington Capitals fan from the late 1970’s to the mid-1990’s, so right off the bat I said “Hey, that’s Michal Pivonka!”  Pivonka was a center who played his entire career with the Caps, spanning from the mid 1980’s to the late 1990’s.  On the Caps’ All-time lists, he’s 6th in games played, tied for 10th in goals, 3rd in assists and 6th in points.

I admit, I also like the fact that the Sakic card is like the hockey cards I grew up with in that the featured player was photographed while visiting the Caps.

I’ve been on a “Sports Illustrated For Kids” kick lately, and as I mentioned I was a Caps fan for quite a long while, so when I saw this SI4K card of former Capitals star Mike Gartner…. Could I pass up a card like this? Aw, hell no!
No questioning this card was issued in the 1990’s… 1994, to be specific.

One of Gartner’s Caps teammates for four seasons was one of my favorite all-time players, Dennis Maruk.  When I saw that there was a 2001-02 Upper Deck Hockey Legends card which showed Maruk with the Cleveland Barons – he played both years of the Barons’ existence – I knew I had to have it.
Maruk’s got a full beard rather than his awesome Fu Manchu mustache, but we can’t have everything. He started out with the California Golden Seals and stayed with the team as it moved to Cleveland and then merged with the Minnesota North Stars. Two games into the 1978-79 season, he was traded to the Caps for a first-round draft pick.

So the first post in this series featured baseball and New York. This post features Canada’s national sport. The third and final post will go even more international, even while staying true to this blog’s baseball card roots. I can’t hint any more than that.

Fashionably Late COMC Black Friday #1: Baseball And Non-Sport

Now that everybody else has posted the cards they got from COMC during the Black Friday promotion, it’s my turn.  I just wanted to, you know, be polite and let everybody else go first.

Circumstances worked towards limiting my purchasing this time around.  I was a bit short on credit and a lot short on enthusiasm… You see, the promotion came right at the beginning of my bout of despair over the bloatedness and disorganization of my collection.  When you’re anguished over the state of your collection, it takes a lot of the wind out of “WTF” purchases.

…Which is not to say I didn’t get some cool stuff, just that I didn’t get as much stuff as usual.

Anyway, we’ll start and finish with a pair of non-sports cards I was particularly happy to get, and fill the middle in with baseball cards from 1970 and 2016.

First off is a card I’ve been meaning to get for quite a while; this card is from the 1953 Topps License Plates set.
These cards are smaller than standard, but they’re less small than I, for some reason, thought they were. They’re the standard 3.5″ wide, but only about 1.75″ high. I don’t see myself getting more than one or two of these, but I figured I should at least get a card representing the state in which my first three cars were registered.  I’m over 50 years old, but Black and orange NY plates like this are well before my time… They were blue with orange characters when I was a wee small child, orange with blue in the 1970’s into the 1980’s and then went through a number of changes after that involving white, blue and the Statue Of Liberty.

Here’s the back.  As everybody knows, the capital of New York State is ynablA.

I got a little curious about how much some of the stats on the back have changed over the past 63 years.  According to a US Census Bureau article I found from 2 years ago, NY State’s population was 19.7 million and fell to 4th in the list of most-populous states (behind California, Texas and Florida).  From a NYS DMV report from 2015, I found that the number of non-commercial vehicles for just New York City and Long Island is close to 4 million.  Statewide totals are close to 9.4 million.

Isn’t that fun?

OK, enough blathering about the license plate.  You’re looking for baseball, right?  I’ll start off with two 1970 cards… advance warning:  I don’t have much to say about these  two.

Blue Moon Odom, water towers and the sleeveless 1968 Oakland Athletics uniform… Although this is possibly the A’s wearing the previous year’s uniforms in 1969 spring training.


Matty Alou, a batting cage and that weird Pirates cap where the “P” is part a patch instead of embroidered directly on to the cap.


If you compare to “Alou” here with “Albany” on the license plate card back, you’ll see that they’re both the same font:  “Koffee”, for those keeping score at home.

One of my objectives on Black Friday was to get at least one card from the online exclusive 2016 Topps Archives Snapshots set. These cards intrigued me, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on with them. Like the regular Archives set, the photos are a mix of current and retired players. Unlike regular archives, these are meant to look sort of like a hand-labeled photo. I found this Michael Conforto for 44 cents, a price I couldn’t say ‘no’ to.
The photo is very high-res, but there’s not a whole lot about the card that is extraordinary. I think the retired players might be a lot more appealing to me… I’ve got an eye on the Oscar Gamble card which appears to feature the same photo used on his 1974 card.

The back is…largely superfluous. Well, that might be harsh. The back is the back. That’s a better way to put it.
Better than Panini but not winning any awards.

Another “dip my toe in the water” card was this 2016 Bowman “Turn Two” insert.  On the front of this card is Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, who’s also the son of former pitcher Bryan Harvey.
Here’s the side that’s technically the back; you can tell because it’s got the card number and legalese.  D.J. Stewart was the O’s 1st round pick from 2015.

D.J. stands for Demetrius Jerome.

Wrapping things up with the second non-sports card…

Topps issued a Star Trek set in 1976. During that year, I loved cards, I loved Star Trek, and it’s very clear to me that I never saw a single pack of these cards because there is absolutely no way I wouldn’t have bought at least one pack.


C’mon, I bought a couple of packs of “Welcome Back, Kotter” cards that same year. I wouldn’t spurn Spock for Arnold Horshack. (But I am amusing myself by picturing Spock holding his arm up and going “Ooh! Ooh! Mistah Kottah!  Mistah Kottah!”)

Yes, the Phaser is not yesterday’s weapon, it’s not today’s weapon, it’s tomorrow’s weapon. Make sure you’ve got that memorized, there’s a quiz on Friday.

I’m somewhat intrigued by the text at the bottom:  “Be sure to watch for the new Star Trek full length motion picture”.  In 1976, that motion picture was still 3 years away… and wasn’t worth waiting 3 years for.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the holy hell out of it on opening night, but quickly realized that this excitement was almost completely fulfilled anticipation and very little having to do with the movie itself.  I saw it again a couple of months later in a second-run theater, and realized that it really was not a good movie.

So, that’s the first of three batches from COMC;  the other two are not what you’d normally expect from a baseball card blog written by someone in the U.S., and I’ll leave it at that for now.

Another Fantastic 1975/76 Topps English Footballer Card

Just a quick post today to show off a soccer card I got from COMC recently. It’s a card of Norwich City’s Dave Stringer, which has nothing to do with why I got it. As you can guess from looking at it, I bought it because I’m fascinated by the 1975/76 Topps Footballers set which shares the front design with one of my favorite baseball sets, 1975 Topps.
Norwich City is called the Canaries, and are currently in the English Football League Chamionship, which is one level below the Premier League.

Dave Stringer was a long-time player for the Canaries, and later managed the team.

As you can see, the backs are nothing like the 1975 Topps Baseball backs.

This is the second card I have from this red-backed English set;  I also have four from the blue-backed Scottish set.

Sleepless In Seattle

Whether Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto succeeds or fails, he most certainly will be doing it on his own terms.

This is what occurred to me the other day when I was considering the moves he’s made this offseason, as well as those he’s made since he took over as the Mariners’ GM on August 28th, 2015.

Of the players who played for the M’s in 2015, the only significant ones left are Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino, James Paxton and Tony Zych.

Remember, we’re talking about a period that’s not even 18 months.

With all the new faces in Seattle in 2017, it might feel almost like an expansion team… which is just my excuse for making more of my customs paying tribute to the 1977 expansion teams, the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays.


First off, let’s talk about all of the players who have left Seattle during Dipoto’s reign: Joe Beimel, Roenis Elias, Danny Farquhar, Austin Jackson, Logan Kensing, Wade LeBlanc, Zach Lee, Ketel Marte, Brad Miller, Jesus Montero, Mike Montgomery, Logan Morrison, Vidal Nuno, Tyler Olson, David Rollins, Carson Smith, Seth Smith, Chris Taylor, Mark Trumbo, Taijuan Walker and Tom Wilhelmsen.

Wilhelmsen and outfielder Patrick Kivlehan are of particular note because Dipoto got rid of them, brought them back and got rid of them again.

And, to be fair, a lot of the guys on these lists are bullpen guys, the kind of guys that most teams shuffle in and out all season.


Second, here’s a list of players who Dipoto has acquired and already shipped off again: Al Alburquerque, Nori Aoki, Joaquin Benoit, Arquimedes Caminero, Steve Clevenger, Ryan Cook, Chris Iannetta, Nate Karns, Dae-ho Lee, Adam Lind, Wade Miley, Drew Storen.


Finally, the players who Dipoto has acquired and who are still on the 40-man roster: Steve Cishek, Zac Curtis, Jarrod Dyson, Casey Fien, Yovani Gallardo, Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger, Chris Heston, Taylor Motter, James Pazos, Boog Powell, Carlos Ruiz, Marc Rzepczynski, Jean Segura, Shae Simmons, Drew Smyly, Danny Valencia and Dan Vogelbach.

…as well as everyone’s favorite switch-pitcher Pat Venditte who was acquired but is not on the 40-man.

So I’ll admit… part of this is me playing with my 1977 template, part is just that I went down the rabbit hole regarding the turnover on the Mariners, and part is just that I got caught up in learning a new graphics trick while trying to make my next cereal box, and I ran out of time.

Remembrance Of Things Past

The San Diego Chargers are no more.
It was announced yesterday that the Chargers will be moving to Los Angeles for the 2017 season and will share a $2 kajillion stadium with the Rams starting in 2019.  Pardon me while I shake my head, but I’ve seen this movie before.  Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s the Rams shared LA with the Raiders, and the story ended with both teams leaving town.  Whatever happened to all the talk of “LA doesn’t support football”?  Don’t answer that, I know the answer.

Given that I never really stopped thinking of the Rams as the Los Angeles Rams, I began pondering other teams from my youth which are no longer with us…

…And I said “I’ll bet there’s a post in there!”

The 1970’s were a pretty… um… dynamic time with regard to franchises, so for the following exercise in nostalgia I’m going to use 1977 as a “baseline”, as that was the first year I collected hockey (and had already been collecting baseball and football).  It was also, of course, 40 years ago.

I never collected basketball, but I won’t leave them out of the discussion.


Baltimore Colts (moved to Indianapolis)

Houston Oilers (moved to Nashville; currently the Tennessee Titans)

St. Louis Cardinals (moved to Phoenix)

San Diego Chargers (moved to Los Angeles)

Prodigal Sons:  A year ago I would’ve included the Los Angeles Rams on this list.  25 years ago, I would’ve included the Oakland Raiders.

Biggest travesty of justice:  Baltimore Colts (Right, CommishBob?)  This is one of those textbook examples of a community which supported their team in every way that mattered with the sole exception of ponying up for a new stadium.

1977 NFL team I miss for other reasons:  I’ll go with the Oilers, since they’re the only one that actually changed names.


Atlanta Flames (moved to Calgary)

Cleveland Barons (merged with Minnesota North Stars)

Colorado Rockies (moved to New Jersey; now the Devils)

Minnesota North Stars (moved to Dallas; now the Stars)

Biggest travesty of justice and the team I miss the most:  No question about this, it’s the North Stars on both counts.  I’ve always been fond of the North Stars logo and colors, the Barons and Rockies didn’t last much longer than 1977, and it’s hard to feel sorry for Atlanta when they’ve now lost two NHL teams.


Birmingham Bulls (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Cincinnati Stingers (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Indianapolis Racers (folded)

New England Whalers (moved to Raleigh, NC; now the Carolina Hurricanes)

Houston Aeros (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Quebec Nordiques (moved to Denver; now the Colorado Avalanche)

Winnipeg Jets (the original Jets moved to Phoenix and are now the Coyotes).

Biggest travesty of justice:  So many to chose from…  Any Canadian city the size of Quebec *should* have a hockey team.  Hartford and Houston both had solid fan bases… as did Winnipeg, but their team has since been replaced.

1977 WHA team I miss for other reasons:  I collect the Stingers… ‘Nuff said.

I tried following basketball as a kid, but despite giving it the ol’ college try I just couldn’t get into it… but that doesn’t mean I should leave hoops out of this discussion.

Buffalo Braves (moved to San Diego;  now the L.A. Clippers)
1974-75 Topps Basketball Garfield Heard

Kansas City Kings (moved to Sacramento)

New Jersey Nets (moved to Brooklyn)

New Orleans Jazz (moved to Salt Lake City)

Seattle SuperSonics (moved to Oklahoma City;  now the Thunder)

Honorary mention:  Washington Bullets (Same team, same city, different name)
1980-81 Topps Basketball Bullets Pin Up

Biggest travesty of justice:  Easy peasy… Seattle should never have had the Sonics taken away from them.

1977 NBA team I miss for other reasons:  I’ll say the New Orleans Jazz, partly because I did kinda like “Pistol Pete” Maravich (for reasons I don’t remember), but mainly because even as a 14-year-old kid I thought that “Utah Jazz” was a freakin’ stupid name.


Montreal Expos (moved to Washington)


Given the franchise stability of MLB over the past 40 years, it all comes down to the Expos.

Same place, different name:  California Angels

Travesty of justice and MLB team I miss the most:  Les Expos, naturellement!

So what teams from your own youth do you miss?  If you’re older than I am, it might be the Kansas City Athletics, California Golden Seals or Cincinnati Royals.  If you’re younger than I am, it might be the Vancouver Grizzlies, Atlanta Thrashers or maybe the USFL’s Los Angeles Express .


2017: An Oddball Odyssey

I’ve been collecting for over 40 years now and blogging for over five years, and one thing I’ve been thinking increasingly more often over the past year or two is that I need to make more of an effort to showcase some of the more offbeat cards and sets I own.  A few days ago, it occurred to me that I should make that something of a goal for 2017, perhaps a New Year’s Resolution if you go for that type of thing.  I never really did, but what the heck, let’s give it a whirl.

Shortly after getting the idea, I had an idea of what to call the series… And once I got that idea, I knew that a series called “2017:  An Oddball Odyssey” needed to have a  particular graphic to accompany it.

And so…


For what its worth, I feel the same way about “2001:  A Space Odyssey” that I do about “The Natural”;  As a movie it’s pretty good, but as cinematography it is abso-freakin’-lutely unbelievable.

The original concept behind this series was to dig into my binders and boxes and featuring some of my older cards, but for this post we’re going to look at three cards I got from COMC during the Black Friday promotion.

We’ll start with a 1986 Sports Design Products J.D. McCarthy card of Casey Stengel. I’ll admit, I’m not 100% certain what the deal is with these cards. I’d have to think they’re unlicensed “Broders”, but I have seen these pop up in places where one wouldn’t expect unlicensed cards to pop up… so whatever.  Casey Stengel!  On an ersatz 1969 card!  Yay!

I first started to learn about oddballs back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, when my knowledge of cards started to spread beyond what was available in my town.  Aside from the ads I saw in Baseball Digest and Street & Smith’s Baseball Yearbook for companies like Renata Galasso, Inc., I also discovered publications like Baseball Hobby News and later Tuff Stuff.  It was through such channels that I first learned about the Perma-Graphics sets of the early 1980’s.  These were relatively high-end for the time, and were made out of plastic like a credit card… rounded corners and everything.  I think I may have seen some at shows and such, but I never actually owned one or even held one in my hand…  Until I got this 1981 Perma-Graphics Dave Kingman card!  Feast your eyes on this… um… well…


OK, back when these were new I wanted then because they were exotic and somewhat rare.  Now… Well, now I have to say that they’re gimmicky and kinda ugly.  But that’s just me.

Here’s the back;  I’d have to think that someone got these autographed in the little credit-card-y box on the back.

I was amused when I read the text, because it states that Kingman is named “King King”.  Someone on the proofreading team dropped the ball that day. I’m guessing they were going for King Kong, but he really was only referred to as Kong.

Another set… or in this case, couple of sets… that I was chagrined that I didn’t own some cards from were the Squirt sets of 1981 and 1982. Not only was this set elusive for a Long Island boy, but I didn’t even know what Squirt was.  To this day I have never tried the soda, but I finally got a 1982 Squirt card, and I have to say I was mildly surprised when I got it in my hands.
I didn’t expect the cardboard to be thin and white, and I didn’t expect the cards to be slightly smaller than standard size.   The back design is the same as 1982 Topps, except it’s yellow and black ink on white cardboard instead of blue and green ink on grey cardboard.


In 1982, Foster was the big off-season acquisition for the Mets, having been acquired via trade for Greg Harris, Alex Trevino and Jim Kern.  For those who don’t remember Jim Kern being with the Mets, he’d been acquired from the Rangers two months earlier and never actually suited up in royal blue pinstripes.

The 1982 Squirt set was complete at 22 cards, and this one card makes up the Mets team set.

So that’s all I have to say about today’s oddballs.  The latter two aren’t the most exciting cards, but now there’s no longer need to hang my head in shame on missing some prominent cards of my youth.

I’m sure many of you have cards from these sets… What are your general takes on them?  I know there are plenty who like the Perma-Graphics cards a lot more than I do.

1994 Capital Cards Miracle Mets Postcards, Part 3

Quick recap of what we’re looking at here… The cards in this post come from a 1994 box set of 32 postcards which commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1969 “Miracle Mets”. The postcards feature paintings by Ron Lewis.

Part one of this series can be seen here.  Part two can be seen here.

Yogi Berra had been a Mets coach since 1965, and coached first base for the 1969 Mets.
He’d take over as the manager in 1972 after Gil Hodges’ unexpected death,  would take the Mets to the 1973 World Series and would manage until he was fired in August, 1975.

Ed Charles played 52 games at 3rd for the 1969 Mets but batted only .207.  Charles went 2 for 15 in the World Series.
He would be released by the team a couple of weeks after the World Series, at which point he would retire.

Ed Kranepool was as much “Mr. Met” as the baseball-headed mascot.  He was a local boy who played 3 games for the 1962 Mets as a 17-year-old, and would continue to play for the Mets until 1979.  In 1969 he split time between first and left, and he hit a homer in Game 3 of the World Series.

Gary Gentry was a rookie pitcher in 1969 and went 13-12 in the regular season. He started Game 3 of the World Series, pitched 6.1 shutout innings and beat Jim Palmer.  He also started Game 3 of the NLCS, but lasted just 2+ innings.  Despite his shaky start, the Mets would sweep the Braves.
He pitched 7 seasons with the Mets and Braves, but his career was derailed by arm trouble.

Tom Seaver… What can I say about The Franchise in 1969?  Just that he won the Cy Young award, came a close second to Willie McCovey in NL MVP voting, lead the league with 25 wins, won Game 1 of the NLCS and Game 4 of the World Series.  He also started Game 1, but gave up 4 runs at Memorial Stadium and took the loss.
On July 9th, 1969, Seaver took a perfect game into the 9th, but Cub Jimmy Qualls earned an indelible place in Mets history by singling to center field to break it up.