Three 1970 Fleer/Laughlin World Series Cards

Time is short, so I’m going the “cards with few words” route today.

These three cards are from the 1970 Fleer / R.G. Laughlin World Series set… I’ve had these three cards “forever”, which for me equates to a little over 40 years.


I really enjoy this set and I keep telling myself I need to get more of these.


Although I don’t have it (yet), the card which features the 1916 World Series – 100 years ago, obviously – features a 21-year-old Babe Ruth pitching a 14-inning complete game for the Boston Red Sox against Brooklyn in Game 2. The Sox won in walk-off fashion, 2-1.

Brooklyn’s Casey Stengel batted .364 for the series. Casey Stengel! A 25-year-old Casey Stengel! Wrap your brain around that.


It also occurs to me that we’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal. It’ll be interesting to see how this is commemorated.

OK, gotta roll. I’ll be back on Friday with more cards.

2016 Heritage Hi #’s: A Hot Pack, Shlabotnik Style

Friday night was an fairly exciting night by my low standards… I discovered that the Target store near my house had put in self-serve checkout lanes (meaning I can buy nothing but a pack of cards while not feeling self-conscious), and 2016 Topps Heritage High Number packs were in. For the record, I also bought some soap, but that’s because that’s what I was there for in the first place.

I’ve gotten to the point where I like High Numbers a bit more than the regular Heritage set, and that’s mainly because the player selection is a bit more wide-ranging.

As it turns out, the hanger pack I bought was something of “hot pack” in the way it had been when I started in the hobby. The biggest conventional “hit” I got was a Tanner Roark refractor (#’ed to 567), but the pack was loaded with base cards which made me happy.

I’ll start off with the card that got the biggest “OOH!”
Right off the bat, I got Matt Wieters’ Topps wax debut!  You can see the Orioles logos!  He’s not wearing full catching gear which covers the logos but also covers his face!  He’s not listed as being a member of “BALTIMORE BASEBALL CLUB”!  O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

He’ll be a free agent this winter and I suspect that I’ll be photoshopping him into another uniform for this Winter’s “Hot Stove” custom set – A hand-collated 1990 Donruss set says he ends up in Atlanta – but we shall see.  After 2015 I fully expected him to be elsewhere in 2016, but he surprised a number of people by accepting the Orioles qualifying offer.

Brad Brach was an All-Star this year!  I’ll bet a lot of you don’t even know who Brad Brach is, much less that he was an All-Star.
Brach is having as good a season as you’ll see from a pitcher who isn’t a starter or closer.  He’s 10-3 with 2 saves, but more significantly he has a 1.67 ERA and a 0.991 WHIP.

I did get a Met in this pack;  I’ve gotten to appreciate James Loney, but I expect he’ll be elsewhere next year.
Even if Loney weren’t a Met, I’d like this card because of the in-game shot. The posed shots are fun, but they can be a bit much after a while.

MUNI!!!!!!!! Everybody loves Muni!
By the way, a quick way to identify this year’s High Numbers cards without looking at the card number:  There’s that dot between the player’s name and position.  In the original 1967 set, the dot appeared between Series 1 and 2, but for 2016 Heritage they decided that High Numbers was Series 2 for dot purposes.

Mychal Givens is one of those guys I was talking about when I mentioned the more diverse checklist.
Givens was drafted as a shortstop but was still in A-ball after three seasons. He converted to pitching and his path to the Majors lead to the O’s bullpen.

Like me, Marcus Stroman is 5’8″ and from Long Island.  Sometimes that’s all I need to become a player collector.
At first it seemed surprising that he wasn’t in the regular Heritage set, given that he was the Jays’ opening day starter, but I’d forgotten about how he lost most of 2015 to a knee injury.

We’ll finish up with Tommy Joseph, who is a guy I collect after having seen him play in the minors.
Joseph was a big catching prospect when the Giants traded him to Philadelphia in the Hunter Pence deal, but concussions and other injuries led to a position change and a major drop in his stock.  After 2015 he was left off the Phillies 40-man roster and he went unclaimed in the Rule V draft.  This year he got his chance after Darin Ruf got injured, and Joseph went on a tear.  He’s currently got 21 homers, 47 runs and 47 RBI after making his debut in mid-May.

In someone else’s hands this pack may not have made much of an impact, but for me it was a lot of fun to open.

2016 TSR: Yakety Yak! Custom Wax

The subject line popped in my head when I started this post… And who am I to argue with the random functioning of my brain?

…Go tell your hoodlum friends outside
You ain’t got time to take a ride
Yakety Yak!
Don’t talk back.

OK, let’s get on to the titular custom wax (hee hee… ‘titular’)


I’ve played fantasy baseball for at least a dozen years, and one of the things I enjoy about it is that, by the end of each season, there’s always a player for whom I gain a profound appreciation.  This year, that player is Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez.
The main reason I picked him up was because he has eligibility at 2B, 3B, SS and OF and was putting up good numbers… But the longer I had him on my team, the more I appreciated the consistent numbers he puts up and the fact that I never know where he’s going to get plugged into my lineup, but he will be in my lineup.  Regular second baseman is day-to-day?  Move Jose to 2nd.  Outfielder is slumping?  Move Jose his spot.

Jose is 2nd in the Majors in doubles and top 10 in the American League in batting average, on-base percentage and stolen bases.  Another thing I really appreciate in this age of all-or-nothing batters, Jose is among the MLB leaders with a 9.0 AB/SO rate.

Here’s a new insert set for Series Four: “Shlabotnik Special”, which aims to be along the lines of Topps combo cards and the Fleer “Superstar Special” cards from the 1980’s.
I love this photo, and even though Albert Pujols is standing on a base, you get a good idea of how much bigger than Jose Altuve he is.

What the–?!?!
Aw man… I spoke to Quality Control last week about letting other sports slip into these baseball packs. I’m going to have to have another word with them.

I’ve done a fair number of “Ceremonial First Pitch” cards this season, but John McEnroe is notable for an unusual reason (among these first pitches, anyway).
Not only did McEnroe get it over the plate, the dude put some serious heat on the ball.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out on YouTube here.

This next one is a last-minute addition, the 2nd entry in the “Father & Son” TSRchives insert.
Jeff Shaw was your average workaday swingman until the Reds converted him to a closer at the age of 30.  194 Saves, 2 All-Star Games and a Rolaids Relief Award later, it would appear that the Reds were on to something.

BTW, a couple of months ago I was talking about players making their first or last appearance in a uniform at an All-Star game… Well, Jeff Shaw was one of those guys,  making his Dodger debut in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Travis Shaw took the 3rd base position away from Pablo Sandoval in Spring Training, and has played a significant role in the postseason-bound Red Sox season. In the Shlabotnik household, Travis Shaw is shortened to “Travishaw!”, but his popular nickname is “The Mayor Of Ding Dong City”. I saw a couple of references to this being a compliment regarding his ability to hit “ding dongs” (home runs)…  which is better than my interpretation, based on my understanding of a ‘ding dong’ being a fool (in which case, one generally wouldn’t appreciate being named the Mayor of Ding Dong City).


Finally, here’s the Joe Shlabotnik insert for this pack.
…Such an honor to get pie’d in the face by Adam Jones!

Three 2016 Packs, Two Types Of Football

The last few weeks have been very…  “blah”, for lack of a better word.  Not bad, mind you, I certainly have nothing to complain about…  But it did leave me in need of some stimulation, so I bought some wax packs that I hadn’t busted before… and, to be honest, ones I probably wouldn’t buy in other circumstances.

…But all things considered, it turned out OK.  I’ve bought two Football packs and one Soccer pack, all Panini. All three had pretty nice cards, all three won’t have a follow-up purchase because they’re not sports I collect.

First up is a really nice update of 1990 Donruss.


I first saw these cards on someone’s blog – and I’ll apologize, I don’t remember where I saw them, nor did I take notes on where I saw it.  But I really like how they’ve taken a not-great set and made it appealing without losing the 90D-ness of it.

Here’s the back.  Pretty standard Panini stuff, but not bad.


Next up is Panini Classic, which I appreciate in that it seems like they did something I sometimes do when trying to come up with my own custom designs… and that’s pick and chose design elements from different sets.


The white team name at the top is very reminiscent of 1983 Topps Football, while the sort of sideways-chevron at the bottom is like 1968/69 Topps Hockey.  The end result is not the most inspired design, but I like it OK.

I actually like the back, because they use a very basic early-1960’s-ish design for the back, and combined with the white non-glossy card stock, it makes for a nice effect.


The final pack I opened is for a sport that’s called “football” pretty much everywhere but North America.  I stumbled across a pack of 2016 Donruss Soccer cards without really knowing what they were… I mean, I knew they were soccer cards, but I had no idea who they featured.  I enjoy watching soccer here and there, but I’m no fan, and I know very few players outside of a couple of personal favorites and international superstars like Lionel Messi.

Anyway, I didn’t expect to know any players in this pack, and I didn’t know any of them.

What took me by surprise was that I knew none of the teams, save one.


Anjer Robbenn plays for FC Bayern München in the German Bundesliga.  I’ve heard of Bayern München, but not any of the other teams in my pack (those teams were from Turkey, Switzerland, Argentina, Spain and Greece, as I found out when I Googled them).

The cards are very Donruss… They’ve got the same diagonal stripey thing going that the other sports have, and it’s also got the same script font used on the football cards.  A very subtle effect is that there are little flecks in the colored areas, another little nod to 1990 Donruss.

The player and team names are in a bronze foil that looks better in person than in my photo, but is hard to read.

The backs are similar to the Donruss football back… And sorry for the crappy picture, it was taken on my phone in the Target parking lot.


Each of my packs came with inserts, but none were interesting enough for me to take the effort of getting images of them.

So anyway, I hope some of you found these interesting.  Maybe they inspire you to get your own, maybe they satisfy your curiosity enough to save you a couple of bucks.


Oddballs Of The Week: Two Yankees From 1969 MLB Photostamps

Not long ago, I decided that I needed to get some 1969 MLB Photostamps into my collection. Not being entirely sure of what I was getting myself into, I went on COMC and bought two of the cheaper examples I could find which would also fit into my collection. As it worked out, I ended up getting two Yankees, arch rivals of my Mets and my Orioles.

…But it’s OK, I’ll vouch for both of these guys.

I’ve never seen Fritz Peterson pitch, but he’s a very underrated pitcher and seems like an interesting guy.
Peterson won 20 games in 1970 and logged an All-Star appearance. Fritz’ ERA, WHIP and K/BB ratio over his 9-year Yankee career are all better than Andy Pettitte, and yet only one of these pitchers has had his number retired (hint: It’s not Fritz Peterson).

Roy White was a member of the World Championship Yankee teams of the 1970’s… but I like him anyway.
Part of it is because he was a Yankee during that brief period of time when I was young and didn’t hate the Yankees… but even after my “enlightenment” at the age of 11, Roy White just had so much class that you couldn’t help but respect the guy.

One of these days I’m going to write a post along the lines of “A Mets fan’s favorite Yankees”. I’ll give you a hint… Reggie Jackson is not one of them.

As for these “photostamps”, they’re kind of odd critters. They’re often referred to as “MLB Photostamps”, but they’re licensed by the MLB Players Association, not MLB, hence the lack of logos. They’re printed on fairly thin paper, about 3.25″ tall and 2″ wide, and despite the “stamp” moniker, they didn’t come with adhesive – one had to add paste or glue or whatever to the back before sticking it in the album.

That being said, I like them. I wouldn’t pay much for any of them, but I like them. I’ll definitely chase after the Mets from this set, and I would also welcome the Seattle Pilots into my collection (although each and every one of those “Pilots” are show wearing another team’s airbrushed uniform).

There’s also a 1970 set which was licensed by MLB and has all the logos, but I don’t have any, so they’ll have to wait for another day.

I’m sure that many of you have these photostamps from 1969 or 1970. Do you like them? Can you add anything to the small amount of information I have here?

Contrast & Compare: 1977 Burger King Bucky Dent & Mike Torrez

Bucky Dent and Mike Torrez will go down in history on opposite sides of one of the most famous at bats in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry… But in 1977 they were teammates and both had cards in the 1977 Burger King Yankees set which were “variations” from that year’s Topps set.

We’ll start with Mike Torrez, a guy who ended up being in a lot of big trades. The Expos traded Torrez and Ken Singleton the Orioles for Dave McNally and two others, a trade that ended up weighing in the Orioles favor. The Orioles traded Torrez to Oakland in the deal that also saw Reggie Jackson and Don Baylor switching teams for a year.
In 1977, Torrez started 4 games before being traded to the Yankees in a deal for Dock Ellis, Marty Perez and Larry Murray.
Torrez would go 14-12 during the regular season and won 2 World Series games that October. He’d cash in on his success and sign a contract with the Red Sox.

Moving on to Bucky Dent… Bucky came up with the White Sox and proved himself to be one of the better shortstops in the league.
The Yankees knew they needed an outstanding shortstop, so just before the season started they sent Oscar Gamble and several other players to the White Sox for the Buckster.
Bucky Dent also helped the Yankees get to the World Series in 1977, but the historical moment I’m talking about happened the following season.

At the end of the 1978 regular season, the Yankees and Red Sox finished with identical 99-63 records. The teams played a 1-game playoff in Fenway with Mike Torrez facing up against the Yankees’ Ron Guidry.

The Sox had a 2-0 lead going into the 7th inning. Torrez got Graig Nettles to fly out to right, but then gave up singles to Chris Chambliss and Roy White and then got pinch-hitter Jim Spencer to fly out to left.

It was at that point that Bucky Dent, who had 22 career homers at that point, hit the ball over the Green Monster to put the Yankees ahead to stay, and for many people Bucky Dent’s legal name became Bucky F’ing Dent.

2016 TSR: The Mayhem Which Murphy Hath Wrought

Series Four is out on the shelves… A little past the release date, but you should be able to find them in fine virtual stores everywhere.

If you’re not a Mets or Nationals fan, you may not be aware of the severe damage that Daniel Murphy has done to his former team this season. I, for one, am glad that the schedule does not allow Murphy to inflict any more injury this year… unless the teams meet in the playoffs, anyway.
The Mets and Nats played 19 games this season, and Murphy got a hit in every one of them. In those 19 games he batted .413, had a slugging percentage of .773, 6 doubles, 7 homers, 14 runs and 21 RBI.

This next thing I’m going to do is statistical B.S., but I think it helps put these numbers into an interesting context. If you extrapolate those numbers over a 162 game season, Murphy would have 264 hits, 51 doubles, 60 homers, 119 runs and 179 RBI.

To put another slant on it, in 107 career games against the Nationals, Murph had 19 doubles, 6 homers, 40 runs and 51 RBI.  This seasons’ numbers against the Mets, extrapolated over those same 107 games, would give him 34 doubles, 39 homers, 79 runs and 118 RBI. A bit of an uptick.

Thanks, Murph.

If I’m not mistaken, Matt Wieter’s very first retail Topps card will be out once Heritage High Numbers hits the shelves this week. Wieters had signed an exclusive trading card contract years ago, so he’d been missing from Topps products for his whole career (with the exception of “wall art” sold online, because those aren’t cards).
Wieters is a free agent this winter, so this upcoming Hi #’s card could end up being one of very few Topps cards which depicts him as an Oriole.

Thanks, Matt.

Back in May, Miss Washington 2016 Kelsey Schmidt threw out the first pitch before a Mariners game. I know some of you guys get restless if there’s not a pretty woman pictured every now and then.
Kelsey has a B.A. in Biology and is a pre-doctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. For those who don’t know, Fred Hutchinson was a Tigers pitcher and manager of the Reds who lost his battle with lung cancer at the age of 45.

Show of hands… At the beginning of the season, who thought that Rick Porcello was going to be a 20-game winner?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. Porcello was 9-15 last season, but this year he’s 20-4 with a 3.12 ERA and leads the league with a 1.002 WHIP.

The Red Sox got Porcello in a trade with Detroit, and the key player given up was Yoenis Cespedes. The key piece the Tigers got from the Mets for Cespedes was breakout rookie pitcher Michael Fullmer, so I’m guessing Tiger fans aren’t completely upset with how those deals worked out.

Aw, crap… How did this get into this pack?
*SIGH*… I’m going to have to have another talk with Quality Control…

Well, as long as it’s here I’ll mention that the World Cup of Hockey is coming up, and I’m really curious as to how fired up players get about playing for “Team Europe”, which is made up of European players who aren’t from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia or Sweden.  The uniforms are kinda interesting, anyway.

Finally, here’s the Joe Shlabotnik insert promised on the wrapper.
Just like Alfred Hitchcock always made his way into each of his movies, I find my way into each of my sets.  You’ll be seeing a few more of these as the set wraps up.