1976 SSPC #371 – Gates Brown (Tigers)

1976 SSPC #371 Gates Brown

Gates Brown… was a fan favorite during his 13 year career with the Tigers.  He was often used as a pinch-hitter and was well-known for getting key hits.  His first MLB appearance was pinch-hitting for Don Mossi, and he hit a homer to lead off the inning.  At one point, he had the A.L.’s most all-time pinch hits, and was the Tigers’ first-ever DH.

One of his more memorable moments came in 1968 when he was eating hot dogs during the game and unexpectedly got called on to pinch hit.  He hid the hot dogs in his jersey and (naturally) hit a double that required sliding head-first into 2nd.

In 1976, Gates… did something other than playing baseball;  the back of his card notes his retirement after the 1975 season.  He played the field for one game in 1973, and that was the only game in the last three years of his career where he wasn’t a DH or pinch-hitter.

Shea-o-meter: Many of the photos in 1976 SSPC were taken in Shea Stadium; Every team came through Shea because the Yankees were temporarily playing in Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated. “Can two Major League teams share a ballpark without driving each other crazy?”

It’s dusk, but it’s Shea.
Shea: 52
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 8
Can’t tell: 15
Not Shea: 7

1970’s Census
We’re going to keep track of all the instances of 1970’s facial hair and other 1970’s trends… Sideburns, afros, mustaches, Aviator glasses…

Gates is pretty much 1970’s-free…
Total Cards: 82
1970’s Sideburns: 41
Fu Manchu: 4
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 25
Afro: 1
Perm: 2
Aviators: 6
Long Hair: 18

1976 SSPC #371 Gates Brown back

2015 TSR: Sorta Like Topps Bunt, But Without The In-App Purchases

As a responsible baseball card blogger, I felt that I should stay current on trends and check out Topps Bunt. So, I downloaded the app, redeemed some coins, opened some virtual packs…

…and I have to say, I don’t get it.

In a way, I’m a little surprised that I don’t get it. Although I’m not one of these people who’ve spent hundreds of dollars on “The Simpsons Tapped Out”, I have gotten sucked into this type of reward-leading-to-addiction type of situation before. …And let’s be honest, blogging is very much that type of situation… We post repeatedly, pushing the bar in hope that the little nuggets (in the form of comments or likes) fall into our cage.

But Topps Bunt? I get the coins, I buy and open the pack, I look at the cards, I mentally shrug, close the app and go back to getting slaughtered in “Words With Friends”.

And now that I’ve gone down that road, that doesn’t end up being as good of an endorsement for my customs as I would like. “Please, dear friends, never mind their boring virtual cards, come and stare at MY virtual cards!”

Oh, well. I don’t have time or inclination to rewrite the intro now. Let’s open our pack!
2015 TSR Series 1 Wrapper
(FYI, the wrapper’s the same as last time, and will remain the same until Series Two comes out in May)

Joe Kelly did a fine job of shutting down the Yankees this past weekend, and one of the primary rules of any custom set I do is “You make the Yankees look bad, you get a custom”. This is not quite up there with no-hitting the Yankees or leaking compromising pictures of Hal Steinbrenner, but it’ll do for now.
2015 TSR #20 - Joe Kelly
As a visually-challenged individual and long-time glasses-wearer, I felt that I had to make sure that I featured an image of Joe Kelly that clearly shows his bespectacledness.

And before we move on, Joe Kelly is the third Joe Kelly to play in the majors, but the first since 1928.

For those of you who missed it, Bartolo Colon recently got his first RBI since 2005.2015 TSR #18 - Bartolo Colon
If you’ve ever seen him swing a bat, you’d know why it’s been 10 years… But we love him anyway.

The Braves got off to a surprisingly hot start, and the defense of Andrelton Simmons is a significant part of that start.
2015 TSR #19 - Andrelton Simmons
FYI, that’s Michael Cuddyer making a cameo appearance on the card.

Since I started following baseball in the mid-1970’s, this uniform is what I tend to think of as one of the most appealing Indians uniforms (Please note that “most appealing” is not the same thing as “best”).
2015 TSR #21 - Trevor Bauer
Last week against the Astros, Trevor Bauer pitched 6 no-hit innings and got 11 K’s. The downside of it is that he also gave up 5 walks in those six innings.

Custom Nerd Corner!
…Which is a corner for custom nerds, not a nerd corner that is custom… but anyway, I figure that since there does seem to be the interest in this kind of thing, I’d share some of the “behind the scenes” details on how I make my customs… as I think of them, anyway. I’m a little fried right now, so I’m going to stick with some basic stuff for now.

The way I got the drop-shadow effect on the team names was to take the text, convert it from vector to raster, do a drop shadow in white (5 pt. in this case) and then do another drop shadow in the second color.

I look at the above customs and wonder if I should’ve used a very dark blue for “Red Sox” rather than the dark grey, and perhaps a lighter pink with the Indians (to give a greater contrast with the orange)… Who knows, maybe the colors will inexplicably change when Series Two rolls around.

Ya Get Whatcha Get: Triple Play Chicken And Other Delicacies

A couple of months ago I did a post about the three “Famous Chicken” cards I picked up on COMC. Shortly afterwards, I rediscovered another Chicken card that was already in my collection.
1992 Donruss Triple Play Famous Chicken
This card is from the 1992 Donruss Triple Play set, and I don’t really have much to say about it…

…So let’s move two years later to 1994. That year, O-Pee-Chee was in their second (and final) year of producing a flagship baseball sets that wasn’t just Topps cards with French on the back. Not long ago, I picked up a Cal from the set.
1994 O-Pee-Chee Cal Ripken
…und hier ist der back… (Don’t ask me why I suddenly slipped into pidgin German).
1994 O-Pee-Chee Cal Ripken back
These really are very nice cards, and have been the subject of some internal debate. “I should get more of this set!” is followed by “Oh, yeah, because we don’t have enough cards from 1994…”

I’m going to say something that may seem heretical to some Mets fans, and I don’t want anybody to think I don’t appreciate everything David Wright has done for the Mets and everything he brings to the team…
2011 Heritage David Wright
…but with the emergence of young Mets pitchers like Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, I am beyond happy that there are more and more inserts that feature Mets other than David Wright.

And finally I’m going to finish up with a career retrospective on Sonny Siebert that I will be sort of “live blogging”… writing it as I’m researching it. The main impetus behind this is my buying this cheap 1972 Kellogg’s card and then wondering “What did Sonny do to warrant a Kellogg’s card?” Prior to finding this card, Sonny Siebert was (to me) just another guy in the 1974 and 1975 sets.
1972 Kelloggs Sonny Siebert
OK, well the first thing I found out about Sonny Siebert’s 1971 season was that he as an All-Star, which goes a long way to explain this Kellogg’s card. He went 16-10, 2.19 that season. He was also an All-Star in 1966, while with the Indians.

He shares his 1964 rookie card with fringe-y Indians pitcher Tom Kelley, who should not be confused with Tom Kelly who managed the Twins for 16 years.

His 1965 card says that he was originally an outfielder, but switched to pitching in the minors. On May 10, 1964, he pitched 6 innings of mop-up relief during a Yankees blowout in the first game of a double-header, and he struck out 11 Yankees, including Jim Bouton, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard and Clete Boyer. All four of those notable Yankees struck out twice against Sonny.

Moving along, his 1966 card says he was among the 1965 A.L. leaders in wins, K’s and ERA. Oh, look! There’s his picture on some 1966 League Leader cards. The photo used on his 1966 League Leader card was used on his 1967 base card.

Let’s see… he no-hit the Senators on 5/10/1966… He’s on a 1968 Topps ERA Leaders card… Traded to the Red Sox in April of 1969… Oh, he was also on a 1971 Kellogg’s card…

On June 19, 1970, Sonny Siebert was no-hitting the Yankees after 8 innings and had a 7-0 lead. Horace Clarke lead off the 9th with a single, which was followed by a double, a two-run single and a two-run homer… at which point Sparky Lyle came in for the save.

Sonny likes to go bowling! …That’s according to his 1973 and 1974 cards. He was traded to the Rangers early in 1973, but never appeared on a card in a Rangers uniform – A call to action for one of you “Cards That Never Were” guys (and if you’ve already done one, please leave the URL in the comments).

His real name is Wilfred… He was traded to the Cardinals after the 1973 season, traded to the Padres after the 1974 season (a fact noted on the back of his 1975 card), made six starts for San Diego before being traded to the A’s in May, 1975. He ended his career after 17 appearances with Oakland. 1975 Topps was his last baseball card, so he never appeared on cardboard with the Padres or A’s, either. Two more opportunities for custom card makers.

To wrap things up, baseball-reference.com says that Sonny is the last A.L. pitcher to hit two homers in the same game (9/2/71 against Baltimore).

OK, well sorry about the rambling but as the subject line says, “Ya get whatcha get”.

A Quick Overview Of 1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball

This past weekend, CommishBob over at The Five Tool Collector featured a set called “Play Ball Japan”, which was a 1980’s Broder set of baseball players who were active in Japan at the time.  That reminded me of the fact that I’ve been meaning to write about another American-produced set of Japanese cards, one I’ve had for many years.

I first encountered the 1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball set in the 1980’s when I ran across someone who was selling a complete, 90-card set for an affordable price.  Having been fascinated by Japanese baseball since the late 1970’s, I jumped at the opportunity and it’s been one off my favorite oddball sets ever since.

I don’t know what else to tell you about the set itself, so I’ll just show you some of the more notable cards in the set… well, notable from a Western point of view… I’ve read that the set contains some Japanese HOFers, but for the most part I couldn’t tell you which ones those are off the top of my head.

I’ll start right off with the key card from the set, Japanese Home Run king Sadaharu Oh.  This card shows Oh near the end of his playing career;  he’d hang ’em up after the 1980 season.
1979 TCMA Japanese Sadaharu Oh
Here’s the back of Oh’s card…  Very basic, but still informative.
1979 TCMA Japanese Sadaharu Oh back

Naturally, the majority of cards in the set are for Japanese players. Here’s another Japanese player that many of you will recognize…
1979 TCMA Japanese Masanori Murakami
…But as he’s the first Japanese player ever in the Majors,  you probably recognize this card of his better:
1965 Topps Rookie Stars Estelle Murakami

Another guy you may be familiar with is a relatively young Charlie Manuel, well before he managed the Phillies.
1979 TCMA Japanese Charlie Manuel

Carlos May was a two-time All-Star and played mainly for the White Sox and Yankees before playing four years with the Nankai Hawks.
1979 TCMA Japanese Carlos May

Tony Muser put in parts of 9 seasons with the White Sox, Orioles and two other teams. 1979 was his only year with the Seibu Lions.
1979 TCMA Japanese Tony Muser

Vern Law was one of the greatest players ever to come out of Idaho, 1960 Cy Young winner and father of former Major League infielder Vance Law.  He was a coach with the Lions.
1979 TCMA Japanese Vernon Law

These last two cards are, to Mets fans like me, the biggest appeal of this set (along with Sadaharu Oh).

Wayne Garrett was a Met for 8 seasons, including a couple where he was the starting third baseman. He played two seasons with the Chunichi Dragons.
1979 TCMA Japanese Wayne Garrett
His older brother Adrian also played in Japan and was featured in this set, but I’ll get to him in another post.

Felix Millan was the starting second baseman for the Braves and Mets in the 1970’s, and capped it off by playing for the Yohohama Taiyo Whales for three seasons.
1979 TCMA Japanese Felix Millan

There are other cards of interest in this set, but as the title of the post says, this was meant to be a quick overview. Even though more than half of the set shows players I know nothing about, it’s still one of my favorite sets in my collection.

Stuff That Made Me Think Of Cards

Not that it takes much to get me to think of cards…

The other day I saw something about Dirk Nowitzki retiring, and that made me think of this card I got and have been meaning to post:
2007-08 Topps Basketball 50th Variation Dirk Nowitzki
As it turns out, the “news” about Nowitzki retiring was an April Fool’s joke, which is just as well. Nowitzki is one of the relatively few NBA players I know something about beyond his name (i.e. he’s German), so it just wouldn’t do if he were to retire.

At any rate, I didn’t buy this card because of Nowitzki… well, not entirely. I bought it because I recently became enamored with the simple yet appealing design of the 1957-58 Topps Basketball set, and I proclaimed “I’m going to get me one of them there cards!”

Shortly thereafter, I found out just how expensive them there cards can be, so for the time being I decided to go with a 50th anniversary variation set from 8 years ago. Here’s the back of the card:
2007-08 Topps Basketball 50th Variation Dirk Nowitzki back
It’s not bad, but ultimately unsatisfying. I’ve also been thinking of starting a type collection of vintage Topps basketball , so maybe I’ll start keeping an eye out for relatively cheap commons from the original set.

Regular readers may remember that back in November I made a custom 1957-58 card of Stanford Senior Amber Orrange.
1957 topps basketball Amber Orrange
Aside from the fact that I like her name, I also like any basketball player that’s my height. Amber’s Stanford team made it to the Sweet 16 this year, and she should be taken pretty high up in the upcoming WNBA draft.

Another thing that made me think of a card I’ve been meaning to post was seeing Al Leiter on Rachael Ray’s show.
1992 O-Pee-Chee Al Leiter
Al and Willie Randolph had an Opening Day cook-off, which Al won on the fifth tiebreaker (or something like that). I frankly don’t get the appeal of cooking shows… You can’t smell it, you can’t eat it, you can only see it. I guess maybe it’s like watching golf… You appreciate it more if you do the same activity yourself (and by that I mean cooking, not eating).

By the way, you might be saying to yourself “I know the 1992 Topps set backwards and forwards, and I don’t remember that card of Al Leiter”. That’s because the above card is one of a handful of 1992 OPC’s which don’t have a Topps counterpart.

A third thing that made me think of cards came during an Orioles Spring Training game when they were talking about Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike, who is a minor leaguer in the O’s farm system. I don’t have a card of Mike yet, but I’ve got plenty of cards of Carl.
1968 Topps Game Carl Yastrzemski
…And thanks to The Walking Dead, every time I run across someone named Carl, in my head I’m thinking “Get in the house, Carl!”

The fourth thing that made me think of cards was having a bowl of Kellogg’s Product 19 cereal. Eating Kellogg’s always makes me think of collecting Kellogg’s.
1978 Kelloggs Dave Winfield
Like I said, it doesn’t take much to get me to think of cards.  I keep going back and forth on my Kellogg’s strategy. Buy up any cheap cards I find? Focus on a particular set? Both? So many decisions to make, so many decisions…

For Opening Day: Meet The Mets (1975 Version)

Just like yesterday’s unveiling of my TSR custom set, sharing a version of “Meet The Mets” has been a Shlabotnik Report tradition since 2012. This year I’ve got a 1970’s version that I’d completely forgotten about but is well worth sharing.

Put on your dancing shoes and meet the Mets!

Meet the Mets!
Meet the Mets!
Step right up and greet the Mets!

1971 Topps Tom Seaver
Bring your kiddies, bring your wife
Guaranteed to have the time of your life

2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rafael Montero
Because the Mets are really sockin’ the ball
Knockin’ those home runs over the wall

2014 Topps Opening Day Stars David Wright
East side, west side, everybody’s comin’ down
To meet the M-E-T-S Mets of New York Town

2012 Topps Archive Ed Kranepool
Oh, the butcher and the baker and the people on the streets
Where do they go?
To meet the Mets!

2009 O-Pee Chee Jose Reyes
Oh, they’re hollerin’ and cheerin’ and they’re jumpin’ in their seats
Where do they go?
To meet the Mets!

1968 Topps Cal Koonce
All the fans are true to the orange and blue
So hurry up and come on down

2014 Topps Eric Young Jr
‘Cause we got ourselves a ballclub
The Mets of New York town!

2010 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Matt Harvey
Give ‘em a yell! Give ‘em a hand!
And let ‘em know you’re rootin’ in the stands!

1964 Topps Galen Cisco
Come on and meet the Mets! Meet the Mets!
Step right up and greet the Mets!

2010 Topps Heritatge Johan Santana AS
Bring your kiddies, bring your wife
Guaranteed to have the time of your life

2003 MLB Showdown Jesse Orosco
Because the Mets are really sockin’ the ball
Knockin’ those home runs over the wall

2002 Topps Heritage Tsuyoshi Shinjo
East side, west side, everybody’s comin’ down
To meet the M-E-T-S Mets of New York Town

2007 Topps Opening Day Mr. Met
Of Newwwwwww Yoorrrrrk Towwwwwwn!

2015 TSR Has Hit The Virtual Stores! Let’s Open A Pack…

It is with equal measures of excitement and pride — and not an insignificant amount of relief — that I finally unveil my 2015 TSR custom baseball card set. This design took me somewhere around 9 months from the original concept to the final result… adjusting this, tweaking that, trying this other thing.  I’d still be tweaking things if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to get it out by Opening Day.

Today we’re going to open this virtual wax pack…
2015 TSR Series 1 Wrapper
I’ll share the cards with you, but sorry, I get the gum.  For those who might be interested, the yellow & red background started out as a Fleer NFL Teams-In-Action wrapper, and the pitcher image was based on card from 1974 Topps… I’ll leave it to you to figure out whose card it was.

So… Let’s tear in, shall we?

First card of the year… FISTAH!!!
2015 TSR #13 - Doug Fister
I’ve been something of a fan of Doug Fister since 2011 when he got traded to the Tigers and went 8-1 down the stretch… not because I cared about the Tigers, but the man was a godsend for my Fantasy team.

Kendall Graveman had quite the impressive spring, giving up just one earned run in five games and 21.1 innings and earning a spot in the A’s starting rotation. He also earned the coveted “Notable Newbies” designation on this card.
2015 TSR #10 - Kendall Graveman
He was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2013, made a rapid ascent through their farm system and then was traded to Oakland in the Josh Donaldson deal.

People talk about how strange it is to see Jimmy Rollins in a Dodgers’ uniform, but I haven’t even gotten used to Darwin Barney with the Bums.
2015 TSR #16 - Darwin Barney
Do the fans in L.A. hold up pictures of Charles Darwin and Barney Rubble like I’ve seen the Chicago fans do?

I know Darwin Barney is a sensitive subject for some Chicago fans… to compensate I give you a Cubs card of offseason pickup and new starting catcher Miguel Montero.
2015 TSR #15 - Miguel Montero
If it makes you feel any better, the Cubs got the blue/red color combination in this set, while the Dodgers had to settle for blue/pink.  I’ll talk more about the colors later on…

Here’s another “Notable Newbie” card… I started Notable Newbies in 2012, but gave it a rest last year because I couldn’t find a satisfactory way to work it into my design.
2015 TSR #7 Matt Reynolds
Matt Reynolds just won the John Murphy Award, which is awarded to the best Mets rookie in Spring Training.  There was talk of Reynolds starting at second should Daniel Murphy start the season on the DL, but instead Reynolds is heading to AAA Vegas.

Speaking of guys in different uniforms (as we were a few cards ago), Grady Sizemore still seems odd in a Phillies uniform.
2015 TSR #17 - Grady Sizemore
Gosh, the collation in this pack is incredible… it’s almost like there’s a card in here for the favorite teams of various “Friends Of The Report”.

Sheer coincidence, I assure you.

For any games that Matt Wieters is unable to appear behind the plate, Caleb Joseph is more than likely to be taking his place.
2015 TSR #11 - Caleb Joseph
Joseph has been in the Orioles minor league system since 2008.  I would think that he regards any day that’s not in AA Bowie to be a good day.

J.D. Martinez is the guy that made the Astros say “D’OH!!!” last year.  Houston cut him loose in Spring Training, the Tigers picked him up and he had a breakout year, hitting 23 / 76 / .315
2015 TSR #14 - JD Martinez
In my experimenting with these cards, I started out with complete black (“#000000″) for the Tigers and some other teams, but I didn’t like the way it looked. I briefly went with purple and yellow for the Tigers, but that was even worse (and made it look like it was a card for the LSU Tigers).  When later playing around with colors, I discovered that very dark grey was somehow much better than black. Don’t ask me why, it just was. I did a similar thing on the virtual wrapper; solid black didn’t look right, but I cloned some black print from a Raiders logo on the back of the same Fleer wrapper and it worked quite nicely for the glove and shoes. When it comes to customs, these days I’m all about the cloning.

The cards I’ve featured so far have more-or-less approximated the color schemes of the teams represented on the card, but that wasn’t something I was going to be able to keep up if I wanted to have a different color combination for each of the 30 teams. The first evidence of that is this Padres card…
2015 TSR #9 - Odrisamer Despaigne
With the Padres it’s always tempting to go with a brown/yellow combination, but I decided to go bright with these.  The Padres unis desperately need a splash of color;   they’re not bad uniforms, but they’re very uninteresting uniforms.

Before I forget… Feliz cumpleaños, Odrisamer Despaigne!  Yesterday was his 28th birthday.  Despaigne defected from Cuba a couple of years ago and made his Major League debut last year.  He pitched too many innings to maintain his rookie status for 2015, but I made him a Notable Newbie anyway.  If you have any complaints, you know where to file them.

So that’s the pack. I’m planning to do something similar to this on a regular basis, sort of a “virtual pack of the week”. Don’t count on this many cards in each pack, I might have to invent a “dollar store pack” that has just a few cards in it.

…And now that I’ve got the set finalized for the moment, I promise I’ll get back to sharing some of my real cards.