Four More From 1957 Topps (Three O’s And A Special Guest Star)

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, during my July card show I started working on a 1957 Orioles team set.  At this point, I’ve already doubled the number of 1957 cards I own overall, so needless to say this is a bit outside of my wheelhouse… but already proving to be a fun chase.

Billy Loes started out with the Brooklyn Dodgers and was sold to the Orioles during the 1956 season.  In 1957 he was named to the All-Star team and pitched three shutout innings, facing the likes of Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Eddie Matthews and Ernie Banks.

Looking at the transactions on Billy Loes’ baseball-reference.com page, I found out that he was, on paper, a member of the New York Mets.  The Giants sold him to the Mets in October 1961, but he was returned to the Giants early in March, 1962… As a former Brooklyn pitcher who grew up in Queens, there’s no questioning why the Mets wanted Loes, but Loes apparently wanted no part of the expansion Mets.

Gus Triandos got two cups of coffee with the Yankees before going to the Orioles in a blockbuster 17-player trade and becoming one of the greatest all-time Orioles.

In eight seasons he hit 142 homers, had 517 RBI, made four all-star teams and caught a Hoyt Wilhelm no-hitter.

Al Pilarcik was a regular with the Orioles for three years, and played 6 years overall.

Here’s the non-Oriole I added to my collection.  I started collecting Eddie Yost because he was a coach with the Mets when I was a kid, but he’s moved a notch above those other coaches because I appreciate his tremendous batting eye and his on-base percentage.

Eddie lead the AL in on-base percentage twice and in walks six times over his career;  keep in  mind that he was playing at the same time as Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew and other American League future HOFers.  He is currently 11th in career walks, ahead of Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Pete Rose, Wade Boggs and others.

Getting back to the Orioles, I thought I’d share a photo of where I’m at team-wise.

I’m off to a nice start and looking forward to adding more to this team set!

Saturday Side Trip: Track #6 From The Beatles FrankenAlbums

As many of you know by now, I’m applying the “FrankenSet” concept to Beatles albums and creating a Beatles FrankenAlbum containing the (subjectively) best song for each track number. I also have a “covers album” in the works, and voting on the Shlabotnik Report’s readers’ FrankenAlbum, and images from the 1993 River Group “The Beatles Collection” card set… like this one:

Recapping the voting from last week… we have another tie, this time four songs tied with 2 votes each:  “And I Love Her”, “I’ll Follow The Sun”, “Think For Yourself” and “Octopus’s Garden”.

Here’s where we stand after five tracks:

My FrankenAlbum:

  1. Help
  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  3. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  4. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. And I Love Her

Your FrankenAlbum:

  1. A Hard Day’s Night
  2. Something
  3. I’m Only Sleeping
  4. Medley: Nowhere Man / Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. Medley: And I Love Her / I’ll Follow The Sun / Think For Yourself / Octopus’s Garden

My Favorite Covers FrankenAlbum:

  1. “Come Together” by Aerosmith
  2. “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker
  3. “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by The Hooters
  4. “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” by Fats Domino
  5. “Sexy Sadie” by Phish

If you want to see the prior posts, you can click on the “Beatles FrankenAlbum” link at the bottom of this post.

As before, I’m seeding the tracks in alphabetical order (highest vs. lowest, second-highest vs. second-lowest, etc.) OK, let’s start off the tournament…

White-Album Play-In Round:
“Helter Skelter” (Disk 1) vs. “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill” (Disk 2)
I did a rough draft of this post earlier in the week, and when finalizing the results I’d realized I’d confused “Bungalow Bill” with “Rocky Raccoon”.  Doesn’t matter, the outcome’s the same (although I like all three songs).
WINNER: “Helter Skelter”

Round One:
“Ask Me Why” (Please Please Me) vs. “You’re Going To Lose That Girl” (Help)
“Lose That Girl” resonates with me from my perpetually-single socially awkward years when I fantasized about the day when “I will treat her right and then you’ll be the lonely one”.
WINNER: “You’re Going To Lose That Girl”

“Helter Skelter” (White Album) vs. “Yellow Submarine” (Revolver)
I like Yellow Submarine, but it’s just a shade better than a novelty song.  A very, very good novelty song, but nevertheless…
WINNER: “Helter Skelter”

“I Am The Walrus” (Magical Mystery Tour) vs. “Till There Was You” (With The Beatles)
C’mon, Paul!  A song from ‘The Music Man’?  Seriously?
WINNER: “I Am The Walrus”

“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (Abbey Road) vs. “The Word” (Rubber Soul)
This was a hard choice for me, but I’m going with “I Want You” because it’s more honest and emotional than “The Word”.
WINNER: “I Want You”

“Let It Be” (Let It Be) vs. “Tell Me Why” (A Hard Day’s Night)
I’ve heard “Let It Be” too many times, but I’m trying not to let that sway me too much.  I do love the song, but I also don’t go out of my way to listen to it.

At least, given that this is a FrankenAlbum and not a FrankenSingle, we get the album version of “Let It Be” which has the awesome guitar solo missing from the single version.
WINNER: “Let It Be”

“Mr. Moonlight” (Beatles For Sale) vs. “She’s Leaving Home” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)
Mr. Moonlight starts off great with the wailed “Mistaaaaaaaaaah Moonliiiiiiiight!” and then rapidly goes downhill from there.  I don’t really care for the song itself;  there are several better songs on the “Live At The BBC” albums, also cover versions with John Vocals, which I like much more. (“Keep Your Hands Off My Baby”, “Soldier Of Love”, “Carol”, “Lonesome Tears In My Eyes”, “I Got To Find My Baby”)

BTW, I found out that The Hollies covered this song before The Beatles did, and I don’t like their version either.
WINNER: “She’s Leaving Home”

Second round:
“You’re Going To Lose That Girl” vs. “She’s Leaving Home”
“She’s Leaving Home” is a little saccharine for me.
WINNER: “You’re Going To Lose That Girl”

“Helter Skelter” vs. “Let It Be”
I went back and forth on these two, couldn’t decided, came to the conclusion that both are worth for the Championship round but neither would win, so I just went with the bigger song.
WINNER: “Let It Be”

“I Am The Walrus” vs. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
What, is he dead?
Sit you down, father.  Rest you.
WINNER: “I Am The Walrus”

Championship Round: “You’re Going To Lose That Girl” vs. “Let It Be” vs. “I Am The Walrus”
As I mentioned, “Let It Be” wasn’t really much in contention, but I went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth on the other two.  The one on top when I hit PUBLISH was…
WINNER: “I Am The Walrus”


Cover Version FrankenAlbum

Even though everybody and their sweet Aunt Petunia has covered “Let It Be”, there weren’t a huge number of covers of this week’s songs that I liked. I decided on The Beach Boys’ version of “Tell Me Why” from the album “Beach Boys Party!”… although this version is from the 2015 release “Beach Boys Party!  Uncovered And Unplugged”


“Beach Boys Party!” is best known for having the song “Barbara Ann” on it, but the concept is kind of interesting. The idea was to make a listening experience like being at a party where the Beach Boys are giving an impromptu performance at a party, but in reality the songs were acoustic versions done in the studio with the party noises overdubbed later.


And now it’s voting time! Which of these Track #5 songs would you put on a Beatles FrankenAlbum?

Forgotten Franchises: The WHA’s Birmingham Bulls

This is Part 2 to follow my prior “Forgotten Franchises” post. That post covered the Ottawa Nationals and Toronto Toros, the first and second stops of the franchise whose third stop was in Birmingham Alabama. Because the team went from the Toros to the Birmingham Bulls, they were able to keep the same logo.

The Bulls played three years in the WHA, never had a winning record and only made the playoffs once, but were nevertheless pretty successful in bringing hockey to Alabama. The team was not included in the WHA’s merger with the NHL and the franchise shifted to the minor league Central Hockey League.

There are two primary stories when it comes to the Bulls. The first is that, to appeal to the Alabama fans, many of whom didn’t know the finer points of hockey, the team went with a strategy very much in the vein of the movie “Slap Shot”.  Indeed, the Paul Newman character (Reggie Dunlop) was based at least in part on Bulls coach John Brophy.  Bulls player Dave Hanson appeared in the movie as one of the Hanson brothers, and was also said to be the inspiration for the Killer Carlson character in the same movie.

…But I’m not going to focus on that storyline.

The part of the Bulls story that I find most interesting is a youth movement it undertook. At the time, players could not be drafted by the NHL until they were 21 years old, but the WHA had no such restriction. The Bulls made a push to take advantage of this situation.

One of the players that the Bulls made a run at was Wayne Gretzky, but The Great One would sign with the Indianapolis Racers. However, the Bulls did sign a number of players, referred to collectively as the “Baby Bulls”, and had they been able to stay together could’ve been the basis to a very good team. Of course, even if the Bulls had been part of the merger, the terms of the merger stripped most of the WHA team’s players away in a “re-entry draft”, so this is all academic.

All of these players started their professional careers with the Bulls most were rookies in the 1978-79 season.

Craig Hartsburg played for the Bulls as a 19-year-old before going on to play 10 years for the North Stars.

In 77 games with the Bulls, he scored 9 goals with 40 assists.

Gaston Gingras was also 19, and would play for the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Blues through the 1988/89 season.

In 60 games with the Bulls, he scored 13 goals with 21 assists.

Rob Ramage was a older “Baby Bull”, he was 20 when he made the WHA 1st All Star Team.  He’d go on to play for a number of teams and hoisted the Stanley Cup twice.

In 80 games with the Bulls, he’d score 12 goals with 36 assists.

Rick Vaive played for the Maple Leafs, Sabres, Black Hawks and Canucks through the 1991/92 season.

In 75 games as a 19-year-old Bull, he would lead the WHA with 248 penalty minutes, score 26 goals with 33 assists.

Pat Riggin would play through the 1987-88 season with the Flames, Capitals, Bruins and Penguins. In 1983-84 with the Caps, Riggin would leading the league with a 2.66 Goals Against Average and 4 shutouts.

As a 19-year-old with the Bulls, he had a 3.78 GAA and a shutout.

Hall-Of-Famer Michel Goulet was 18 when he played for the Bulls. He’d go on to play for the Nordiques and Black Hawks.

In 78 games with the Bulls, he’d score 28 goals with 30 assists.

As I was finishing up this post, I realized that this last player actually played for the Bulls the year before the others, in 1977/78.  HOFer and two-time Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman) winner Rod Langway started with the Bulls as a 20-year-old before going on to win a Cup with the Canadians and later play a major role in keeping the struggling Capitals in Washington.

In 52 games with Birmingham, he’d score 3 goals with 18 assists.

Throw these guys on top of the players from the Toronto years – Frank Mahovolich, Paul Henderson and Vaclav Nedomansky – and you’ve got quite an assortment of talent for any team, much less a WHA team.

Fauxbacks And Throwbacks: Rays And Indians On 1978 Customs

This past weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians had a game which threw back to some unspecified year in the 1970’s. Of course, the Rays only go back to 1998, but God bless them, that doesn’t stop them from throwing back to the 1970’s.

I love any games which turn the clock back to the 1970’s, plus each team featured a player who spent the first half of the season with the Mets… and it also gives me an excuse to do some further work on my 1978 Topps baseball custom template… I mean, how could I resist?

Since the Rays were the home team driving the WABAC machine, I’ll start off by highlighting their unis, and their first baseman/DH Lucas Duda.

Sure, these unis are a knockoff of the Padres uniform of the late 1970’s, but I still like them.  I also like the fact that they use Fauxback uniforms rather than throwing back to the two older uniforms they could throw back to instead (the original rainbow “Devil Rays” and then the dark green “Rays” unis they wore from 2001 to 2007).

The Indians wore the solid red unis they wore from 1975 to 1977… and here’s our other former Met, Jay Bruce.  G’day, Bruce!

Bruce’s time with the Mets got off to a rough start last year, but I’d warmed up to him this year… just in time for him to be gone.  He could go back to the Mets as a free agent, I suppose.

Not the greatest shot of Francisco Lindor, but it shows off the uni nicely… and I like Lindor.

I probably should’ve made note of who’s foot he’s tagging.

The majority of 1978 Topps cards had the little baseball in the upper right, but it did migrate over to the left when the photo required it… If you don’t believe me, go pull out your 1978 Darrell Porter card.

I like this photo because it seemed sort of “1970’s action shot” ish.

In case anybody was wondering, I made the “Rays” script by taking the “R” from… um… I think it was the Royals… and merging it with the “ays” from “Blue Jays”.  A little squishing, a little nudging, a little stretching… et Voila!

Within the actual 1978 Topps set, the purple-y blue-ish script went with red borders (Orioles, Dodgers, Brewers, Pirates), but I felt justified in creating a new color combination for a team which didn’t exist in 1978.  Besides, it fits the Rays’ colors quite nicely.

As is always the case when I share any 1978 customs, I would like to take the opportunity to taunt challenge the graphics department at Topps.  Let’s get the 1978 design in Archives!  If someone like me, a self-taught amateur using 13-year-old software, can create these, then surely you highly-paid… or maybe not so highly-paid…. OK, fine, you paid professionals can handle it without breaking a sweat.

A Bunch Of 1970’s, Both Baseball And Football

I’ve not the time, energy nor inspiration to do anything involved today, so I’m just going to share a small number of baseball and football cards from 1970, all of which came from the show I went to in July.

Whether or not I’m working on the 1970 Topps set – perpetually accumulating, never committing – I cannot resist the siren call of the All-Star Rookie Trophy.

FWIW, this card is mis-scanned, not miscut.

Felix Millan was a Met when I was first a baseball fan, and my friends and I would choking up on our Wiffle Bats, imitating the very thing Felix shows us here.

This 7th Series card has been something of a white whale for me

Here’s a front and back view of a 1970 Spider Lockhart.  I never set out to collect Lockhart, but I get his cards whenever I run across them because when I was a kid I thought Spider Lockhart was one of the coolest names in the league.  For any would-be Spider collectors, his non-Topps cards (Philadelphia, Kellogg’s, Sunoco) list him by his given name (Carl).

I’m including this Gary Ross card to bring attention to the cool Padres stirrups, which don’t appear on cards very often.

With the acquisition of this Grant Jackson card, I’ve officially completed Series 1 of 1970 Topps. Yay, me.

Here’s one for my Steelers collection. Ben McGee was a defensive lineman for the Steelers from 1964 to 1972… so he got into two playoff games in 1972. He also returned an interception for a touchdown in 1967.

Wrapping up with a 7th Series Larry Haney. Haney was an original Seattle Pilot in 1969, but was traded to Oakland that June.

I’m sure this has been addressed somewhere, but Haney seems to have suited up for this photo with whatever is available.  He’s got Gene Tenace’s glove, the cap is one they stopped using after 1969 – in 1970 the cap had a yellow bill and “A’s” instead of “A” – and if I’m not mistaken, the sleeveless “OAKLAND” jersey was only worn in 1968, so Haney should never have worn it.  Maybe this is 1970 spring training and the players wore older uniforms.

Saturday Side Trip: Track #5 From The Beatles FrankenAlbums

As many of you know by now, I’m applying the “FrankenSet” concept to Beatles albums and creating a Beatles FrankenAlbum containing the (subjectively) best song for each track number. I also have a “covers album” in the works, and voting on the Shlabotnik Report’s readers’ FrankenAlbum, and images from the 1993 River Group “The Beatles Collection” card set… like this one:

Recapping the voting from last week, I found a situation I hadn’t given any thought to prior (which shows the level of preparation I took). We had a tie between “Nowhere Man” and “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey”, each with four votes. I considered naming “Nowhere Man” the winner since “EGSTHEMAMM” was my choice, but for now I’m just going to make it a “Medley”. Feel free to talk me out if it in the comments section.

Here’s where we stand after four tracks:

My FrankenAlbum:

  1. Help
  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  3. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  4. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey

Your FrankenAlbum:

  1. A Hard Day’s Night
  2. Something
  3. I’m Only Sleeping
  4. Medley: Nowhere Man / Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey

My Favorite Covers FrankenAlbum:

  1. “Come Together” by Aerosmith
  2. “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker
  3. “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by The Hooters
  4. “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” by Fats Domino

If you want to see the prior posts, you can click on the “Beatles FrankenAlbum” link at the bottom of this post.

I feel I should mention that I’m continuing to seed the tracks in alphabetical order (highest vs. lowest, second-highest vs. second-lowest, etc.)  OK, let’s start off the tournament with the “White Album Play-In” round…

White-Album Play-In Round:
“Wild Honey Pie” (Disk 1) vs. “Sexy Sadie” (Disk 2)
I completely appreciate “Wild Honey Pie” for what it is, but “Sexy Sadie” is certainly superior in any category you might choose… except maybe “Enjoyably strange tracks”.
WINNER: “Sexy Sadie”

Round One:
“And I Love Her” (A Hard Day’s Night) vs. “Your Mother Should Know” (Magical Mystery Tour)
“And” is a heartfelt love song while “Mother” is the type of fluff that Paul drifted off into in later years.
WINNER: “And I Love Her”

“Another Girl” (Help) vs. “Think For Yourself” (Rubber Soul)
Paul goes 2-for-2 in the first round.
WINNER: “Another Girl”

“Boys” (Please Please Me) vs. “Sexy Sadie” (White Album)
“Boys” is an interesting choice for a cover song, given that the original version was from the female perspective.  Changing the pronouns only makes it a slightly less interesting cover.
WINNER “Sexy Sadie”

“Dig It” (Let It Be) vs. “Octopus’ Garden” (Abbey Road)
“Octopus’ Garden” is possibly Ringo’s finest moment as a Beatle, and “Dig It”, which is just an excerpt from a jam session, doesn’t put up any sort of opposition to it.
WINNER: “Octopus’s Garden”

“Fixing A Hole” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) vs. “Little Child” (With The Beatles)
And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong, I’m right.
WINNER: “Fixing A Hole”

“Here, There And Everywhere” (Revolver) vs. “I’ll Follow The Sun” (Beatles For Sale)
You’ve got to appreciate the song where each word in the title (except “And” of course) is used in the beginning of each verse… but after listening to both songs back-to-back, I went the other way.
WINNER: “I’ll Follow The Sun”

Round Two
“And I Love Her” vs. “I’ll Follow The Sun”
I like the way Paul & John sing together on “I’ll Follow The Sun”, but…
WINNER: “And I Love Her”

“Another Girl” vs. “Fixing A Hole”
On Sirius/XM’s Beatles Channel, I found out that the line “Silly people rush around, they worry me…” from “Fixing A Hole” was commonly misunderstood as “Silly Beatles rush around…” That has no bearing on any of this, I just figured I’d mention it.
WINNER: “Another Girl”

“Sexy Sadie” vs. “Octopus’s Garden”
The first four songs on my FrankenAlbum were all John Lennon songs. I’m going to break the John streak right now, eliminate the last John track and go with Ringo… because right here, right now, Octopus appeals to me more.  Like with so many of these choices, there’s a good chance I’ll feel differently in a couple of weeks.
WINNER: “Octopus’ Garden”

Championship Round: “And I Love Her” vs. “Another Girl” vs. “Octopus’s Garden”

I didn’t know what to say about this round, other than to announce the winner…

WINNER:  “And I Love Her”


Cover Version FrankenAlbum

I got caught with my pants down for Track #5, because I didn’t know any cover versions for the “track #5” songs.  After auditioning a bunch on YouTube, I decided to go with Phish’s recording of “Sexy Sadie”.  It doesn’t really stray from the original, but I enjoyed it the most out of what I found.

In researching cover versions, I found a reference to Paul being a fan of Esther Phillip’s version of “And I Love Her”, so I’ll include that as well

I’m very much looking forward to hearing your suggestions for a cover track.


And now it’s voting time!  Which of these Track #5 songs would you put on a Beatles FrankenAlbum?

Forgotten Franchises: The WHA’s Ottawa Nationals / Toronto Toros

This original WHA franchise lasted through the entire run of the WHA and played in three different cities; I’m going to address the “early years” in this post, and then get to the final chapter in “Part Two”, which I’ll post next Friday.

The franchise which was to become the Ottawa Nationals was originally given the WHA rights to all of Ontario. The original plans were to put the team in Hamilton, which is at the westernmost part of Lake Ontario, and between Toronto and Buffalo if one is driving rather than sailing across the lake. Because there wasn’t a suitable arena in Hamilton, the team was instead put in the Canadian capital of Ottawa.

The first game in WHA history was played in Ottawa on October 11, 1972. The Nationals were host to the Alberta (later Edmonton) Oilers. The Oilers won that game 7-4.

The team was not a success in Ottawa, and I read (but could not verify) that within the first months of the season there were rumors of the team moving to Milwaukee. The Nationals finished with a 35-39-4, 4th in the East division and good enough to make the playoffs. However, they didn’t have access to their home ice for the playoffs, so the postseason home games were held in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Ottawa lost in the semis to the eventual league champion New England Whalers.

Before the following season, the team was sold and became the Toronto Toros.

They played their first season in the University of Toronto’s arena while working on alternate venues within the Toronto area. None of those panned out for the short term, and the University’s arena had a small capacity and no broadcast facilities, so the team became the tenants of their NHL rival and moved to Maple Leaf Gardens.

The Toros marketed themselves aggressively and courted a younger fanbase than the Maple Leafs. They also signed a number of former Maple Leafs, and made an attempt to lure Leafs’ star Darryl Sittler. They did well at the gate but suffering from leasing the Garden from the Maple Leafs’ owner, who was generally not a fan (to say the least) of the WHA and the Toros.

After three seasons in Toronto and no feasible alternative available within Toronto, the Toros reluctantly moved south to Alabama, keeping the logo and the alliteration by becoming the Birmingham Bulls… which is where Part 2 of this Forgotten Franchises entry will pick up.

Among the Toronto Toros who put significant time in with NHL teams were…

…Hall Of Famer Frank Mahovolich, who capped off his Hall Of Fame career with the Toros and the Bulls.

Paul Henderson was a former Maple Leaf and Red Wing, but most importantly to Canadian hockey fans, he was a national hero for scoring three game-winning goals in the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

Vaclav Nedomansky was the first player to defect from behind the Iron Curtain, defecting from Czechoslovakia and signing with the Toros.

After playing with the Toros and Bulls, he put in four seasons with the Red Wings

Wayne Dillon, who played with the Toros, Bulls, Rangers and Jets.

Dillon’s 1975-76 Topps card shows him with the Rangers, but I’m pretty sure that’s a Toros jersey.

Gilles Gratton only played 47 NHL games with the Blues and Rangers, but was possibly best known for his goalie mask which had a tiger’s face painted on it.

Pat Hickey played for the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Blues, with brief stops with the Colorado Rockies and Quebec Nordiques

Mark Napier turned pro as a 19 year old, was the WHA rookie of the year, and would win Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and Oilers.  He also played for the North Stars and Sabres.