Love Of The Unloved: 1990 Bowman

This is the second in a series on the not-terribly-popular first three sets of the “Revived Bowman” era.

For 1990, Topps made the cards smaller (standard sized, down from somewhat oversized), the set bigger (from 484 to 528 cards) and added the player’s and team’s name to the front of what remained a very basic card design.  The photography remained very basic as well, mostly posed shots and head shots, with a handful of action to shake things up a little.

Like with the 1989 set, I bought a hand-collated set at a show.  For me it was partially about getting a relatively cheap complete set, partially about having updated players – like with 1989, Bowman included shots from spring training – and partially because I liked the set.  I’ll admit, wasn’t terribly discriminating in 1990.  I bought everything… well, except Upper Deck, which I regarded as being outrageously expensive.

To be fair, it’s not like 1990 is a great year for baseball cards…  “Tastefully understated” is not a phrase one would use to describe most sets from 1990.

OK, on to the cards…

It always weirds me out to see Keith Hernandez in an Indians uniform.  Hernandez ended his career with 43 games for The Tribe in 1990.

This is one of those “updated” cards with a Spring Training photo.  The Topps set showed Hernandez with the Mets, but in December, 1989 he’d signed with the Indians as a free agent.  He’d later show up in the various traded/update sets.

Roger McDowell is currently the pitching coach for the Orioles and was a member of the World Champion 1986 Mets, but his card is here simply because I like it.

The Padres appear to have made a trip to the flip-up sunglasses outlet store…

Gary Carter with the Giants isn’t quite as weird as “Mex” with the Indians, but it’s still a bit odd.

Carter spent 1990 with the Giants and appeared in 93 games. After the season he would finish up his career by playing a season with the Dodgers and a final season with the Expos.

I used to collect “Will The Thrill”, but I more or less lost interest in that PC over the years. I still like this card, though.

One thing about 1990 Bowman which always stands out for me are the insert cards which were by artist Craig Pursley. Truthfully, these were contest entry cards and came one per pack, but if you ignore the backs then they’re a nice insert set.

In fact, I like this set well enough that when I got Dwight Gooden’s autograph a few years ago, I chose this card to get his signature.

One other thing that is unusual about 1990 Bowman… For the first time ever, there was a Bowman hockey set.

I have just a handful of 1990 Bowman hockey cards, this is the best of the lot.

Let’s see, what else can I say about 1990 Bowman?

Some of the notable rookies include Frank Thomas, Bernie Williams, Mo Vaughn, Sammy Sosa, Travis Fryman, Juan Gonzalez and John Olerud.

There was a Tiffany version that is far scarcer than the overproduced regular set.

And that wraps things up for 1990 Bowman… a decent but not great set in a decent but not great year for cards. I’ll finish this series up with a look at 1991 Bowman before too much longer.

By Popular Demand: The 1982 Donruss Rod Carew That Never Was

Yesterday I featured these two Rod Carew cards from 1992; one Topps, one Fleer, both with the same photo.

Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown commented “Someone needs to make a custom of this photo in the 1982 Donruss design to complete the trifecta.”

Gavin, I could not agree more!  Just because Donruss didn’t use the same image doesn’t mean that the photographer in question hadn’t also sold it to Donruss!

To finish off the set, here is the 1982 Donruss Rod Carew Faux Doppelganger:

Thanks for the great idea, Gavin!


1982 Rod Carew “Non-Parallels” (Not To Be Confused With Nonpareils)

Tony of the Off-Hiatus Baseball blog brought up today’s subject in a comment on one of my “Doppelganger” posts. I wasn’t going to write about it, thinking “Well, everybody knows about this”… but then I remembered that many of you weren’t collecting in 1982… Hell, a lot of you just *weren’t* in 1982.

And so…

Back in the wild and lawless days of the early 1980’s, when it was still a huge novelty to have more than one baseball card manufacturer, a photographer sold the same photo of Rod Carew to both Topps and Fleer. Whether it was an oversight or someone trying to pull a fast one, the result was that both Topps and Fleer issued Rod Carew cards with the same photo.

At the time, I subscribed to a hobby publication (given the year, I’m thinking Baseball Hobby News) and I’m pretty sure that the reporting of the day was that both of the card companies were not at all happy about this… not that this would be hard to imagine anyway.

To be clear, neither of these is a variation or a corrected error. They were both part of the full run of each set, so they’re not any more rare than the other cards in the set… unless someone has decided to buy up a bunch and sit on them, but given the prices I’m seeing on COMC and eBay, I’m thinking that’s not the case.

Trying To Break A Custom Funk With A “Super Value Fun Pack”!

You may have noticed that I’ve been kind of quiet with the customs lately.  It’s mainly from lack of time, but underlying that was a simple case of “writer’s block”.  I didn’t really have anything I wanted to “say”, so nothing came out.

I started to come out of the funk a little bit when I poked a bit of fun at the Topps online exclusive Throwback Thursday sets (#TSR_TBT), but then I also decided to stop focusing on my 2017 TSR set and let my muse take me wherever I might go.

I ultimately ended up with an odd assortment of customs and I was trying to think of how to present them… And that’s when I remembered a predecesor of the 21st century repack.  Back in the day, companies used to take whatever they had left over – cards, comic books, etc. – package them together at a low price and tried to make them sound appealing by throwing about words like “Value” and “Fun”.

So I came up with the idea of a “Super Value Fun Pack” and went about creating a “wrapper”:

Now that I’m done with the explanations, let’s see what’s in the Super Value Fun Pack, shall we?

Leading up to the recent NHL Expansion Draft to stock the roster of the Vegas Golden Knights, I made a decision that if any players showed up in person and put on a VGK jersey (Sorry, Canadians, I just can’t call it a “sweater”), I would make a custom out of it.

Well, a number of players did make an appearance, and I decided to use the 1970-71 Topps Hockey design because a)  It allowed me to remove the uninteresting background and b) I’d already come up with a template to use.

Deciding which player to feature wasn’t hard, because the one and only drafted player I’d even heard of before the draft was one of the guys who showed up.

While researching this card, I stumbled across a hockey oddball from the same year, and the custom which resulted will be in the next Super Value Fun Pack (ideally next week).

The one bit of momentum I’ve been able to maintain with my 2017 TSR custom set is making customs of Mets and Orioles for players who haven’t appeared on a real card in 2017. For this week’s Orioles entry in the “Dude Needs A Card” theme, we have a pitcher who appeared in 3 games before being Designated For Assignment, and who is already gone from the O’s organization. I’m talking about journeyman pitcher Edwin Jackson!

The Orioles were the 12th team Jackson has pitched for. When the O’s DFA’ed him, he declared free agency and signed a minor league contract with the Nationals… But if he makes it back to the Majors with the Nats, it won’t up his totals, because he pitched for the Nationals in 2012.

For the record his 12 teams (in order): Dodgers, Devil Rays/Rays (they transitioned while he was on the roster), Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Marlins, Padres, Orioles

Fernando Salas has already appeared in 36 games for the Mets and yet remains cardboard-free. I’m sure that’s nothing to do with his 6.00 ERA or 1.697 WHIP.

I would’ve created a custom for my TSR set, but I already had one made for my TSRchives set.

The final custom comes from a desire to have a design I could use for just about any purpose. I ultimately decided to revive my short-lived “TSR Fauxback” set from 2015. The design I came up with for 2017 is similar to my 2015 design in that it’s intentionally derivative as hell, but I can’t help shaking the feeling that I’ve subconsciously stolen it from somewhere.

Call it derivative, call it homage, call it plagiarism… Call it whatever, this is the 2017 TSR Fauxback design:

Rest in peace, Adam West.

Blog Bat-Around: The Origins Of (Some Of) My Player Collections

First off, I’d like to thank P-Town Tom of Eamus Catuli! for starting this particular bat-around!

I consider myself to be a player collector, but I suspect that some of you wouldn’t consider me to be a devoted player collector.  I have a bunch of different players I collect to varying levels of commitment. Some players are “add ‘em to the stack when thumbing through a dime box” collections and others are “actively seek out any and all cards which I can fit in my budget” collections.  I’m not a parallel guy and not a huge relic guy, so regardless of how hard I go after a player, I’m never going to be the guy who has 3,572 different cards of Kelby Tomlinson.

Nobody wants me to detail each and every player I collect – we’d be here all day – but I thought it would be fun (for both you and me) to share the more interesting stories, or the ones which are more typical of the type of players I collect.

BJ Surhoff:
I didn’t grow up an Orioles fan, I married into the team (Mrs. Shlabotnik has been a fan since 1983).  If you ask most Orioles fan who their favorite all-time O’s are, you’ll hear about Cal, Eddie, Brooks, Boog or “Cakes” (that’s Jim Palmer for the uninitiated).  I love all of those guys, but up there with them is B.J. Surhoff.  While he isn’t as accomplished as some of the HOFers that grace the all-time Orioles roster, he is a member of the Orioles Hall Of Fame and was the Most Valuable Oriole in 1999.

It’s not just the numbers he put up or his accomplishments on the field that made B.J. a favorite… a lot of it is the “intangibles”.  He was always very serious and kinda old school about what he did.  Mrs. Shlabotnik and I both enjoyed watching B.J. after a win… He does not fist bump, he shakes hands.  It wasn’t uncommon for a younger player to present fist for bumping, quickly realize their mistake and then shake hands.  We used to provide our own dialogue, always in a prepubescent falsetto: “Good game… Good game… Good game — Oh!  Sorry, Mr. Surhoff!”  (Yeah, we’re easily amused).

Luke Walker:
When I was a kid and in my second year of collecting (1975), I pulled this card out of a pack…

When I added this card to my collection, I discovered I had THREE cards of Luke Walker… This card, his 1974 Topps card and his 1974 Topps Traded card. Having three different cards of one guy was beyond cool to me, and I also believed him to be an exceptional player because, and I quote my younger self, “I’ve heard of him so he must be good!”  Years later, I realized I was probably confusing Luke Walker with Rube Walker, who was a Mets coach at the time.

Childhood confusion aside, Luke Walker is the player I’ve gone after most aggressively over the past couple of years… Largely because there is a defined and relatively low number of cards to chase. Aside from buybacks (which I don’t collect at all), I’m not aware of a Luke Walker card issued since this one, his last Topps card. Guys like Luke don’t generally pop up in Archives or Gypsy Queen… or even “Swell Baseball Greats”.  I’ve got his entire 11-card run of Topps base cards, and I’m chasing down the handful of oddballs which exist.

Frank Catalanotto:
When I go to a minor league game, especially one where I’m not familiar with many of the players, I’ll check out the rosters and see where the players are from. Frank caught my eye because he is from Smithtown, NY, which is right near where I grew up, so I rooted for him during that game, and stuck with him afterwards.

Since nobody from my high school has ever appeared on cardboard, I have to make do with guys who played against my high school.

Tunch Ilkin
I had no emotional attachment to an NFL team until I went to college and roomed with a Steelers fan for four years, becoming a fan of the Black And Gold in the process. Tunch Ilkin was an offensive lineman and that’s not normally a position that people pay a huge amount of attention to, much less become fans.  My roommate and I thought “Tunch Ilkin” was a cool name and we started rooting for him in the way that you think is amusing when you’re a college student… “Awesome block, Tunch!” The thing is, what started out as semi-ironic cheering turned into genuine cheering.

Tunch would later be named to two Pro Bowls and became one of my all-time favorite Steelers.

Kirk McCaskill:
One of my good friends from high school went to the University of Vermont during the time that Kirk McCaskill was the hockey team’s captain.  Because I was intrigued by college hockey (which didn’t exist where we grew up), he told me about the exploits of “Captain Kirk”.

McCaskill was drafted by both the California Angels and the original Winnipeg Jets, and played the 1982-83 season for the Jets’ AHL team in Sherbrooke. After one season in the AHL, Kirk retired from hockey to focus on baseball, but had he stuck with hockey I likely would’ve had a McCaskill hockey collection instead of a baseball collection.

Darren Daulton:
One of the joys of going to minor league games is seeing someone that you think has a shot to “make it”. I collect a bunch of guys who I saw first in the minors or even college, but Darren Daulton was the first guy I saw in the minor leagues who really “made it”… this despite the fact that he spent most of his career with the rival Phillies.

There are many other players I collect who have similar stories, former favorites from the Mets and O’s, players I took a liking to in the minors, players who have cool names (i.e. Dooley Womack) or players I have some (often tenuous) connection to… but that’s what makes this hobby fun for me, and why I’d much rather pull Kelby Tomlinson or Dooley Womack from a pack of Archives than yet another cards of some HOFer.

Why Am I Intrigued By The Expansion Of A League I Don’t Follow?

Chalk it up to my being a “franchise nerd”.

I used to be a big hockey fan, specifically the Washington Capitals. I collected hockey cards, bought yearbooks and apparel and followed my team and the league as best I could given that my team was close to 300 miles away. My enthusiasm started to take a nosedive in the 1990’s for a variety of reasons, and when the league shut down for an entire season, that was it for the NHL. I still enjoy hockey, but I’d just as soon watch NCAA hockey as much as the pro ranks.

So with that in mind, why am I so caught up in the NHL expansion draft to stock the roster of the Vegas Golden Knights?

It’s not because I have any ties to Las Vegas or love their logo… although it is a pretty good logo.

Part of it is the relatively small number of players who will be protected from the draft. Chances are it will still result in only one player I’ve heard of being selected in the draft:  Marc-Andre Fleury (And I wouldn’t even count on him being a Knight come the opening puck drop).

So why do I care? I’ve asked myself that question several times.

Part of it is probably that I was caught up in this type of thing from an early age. My first three years of being a baseball fan was with 24 teams divided into four divisions, and when you’re a kid, three years is a long time. Just after I turned 11, there was this expansion draft to create the Blue Jays and Mariners, two brand new teams created seemingly from nothing. This blew my 11-year-old mind. New cities, new team names, new logos and colors, new uniforms… I even had to rearrange the stacks of cards in my dresser drawer to make room for two new team stacks!

And now, it’s been quite a while since any of the four major sports has expanded…. I believe the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats in 2004 was the last of the top 4 sports. Before that it was the NFL’s Houston Texans in 2002 and before that it was the NHL’s addition of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild in 2000. For MLB, it was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998.

When the NHL announced that they would be expanding, that the new team would cost a half-billion dollars and, in compensation, would be better stocked than prior teams, it caught my attention… even though I’d be hard-pressed to name two dozen current players in the NHL.

Unfortunately the Capitals protected the biggest obstacle to my becoming a Caps fan again – Alex Ovechkin, who got into the “Shlabotnik Hall Of Disdain” on the first ballot.  I knew the Caps wouldn’t allow Ovechkin to get selected for no compensation, but a guy can dream, can’t he?