If It Weren’t For PWEs, I’d Get No 2020 Cards At All

OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but I definitely get the bulk of my first looks at 2020 cards from cards sent to me by Dime Boxes Nick.

…but I’ll get to the other stuff first, because he sent me plenty of oddballs as well.

I was well into my 20’s when Starting Lineup figures came out and I never liked the figures much.  The only one I’ve ever owned was a Gregg Jefferies I found cheap (and which still works its way into my rotation of ‘display toys’ at work).  I do like the cards which came with them, though, and this 1988 Starting Lineups card of Howard Johnson is new to me.

It seems to me like HoJo is a largely-forgotten figure of late 1980s / early 1990s baseball, so I will point out that he was an All-Star twice, scored 100+ runs twice, had 100+ RBI twice, won a World Championship twice, won a Silver Slugger twice… And yeah, we’re generally talking about 1989 and 1991 here, but not always.

This next card was indirectly involved in my learning something about a useful feature of Trading Card Database….

Junk Wax Twins clued me into the fact that TCDB has a “FILTERS” feature, so if I don’t know what this card is – and I didn’t…

I can look up Gregg Jefferies and filter on team and card # to find out that this is an unlicensed 1989 card put out by Pacific Cards And Comics… if there even was a Pacific Cards And Comics in Los Angeles (FYI, the “Pacific” we are familiar with is Pacific Trading Cards out of Washington state).

I saw this 1990 Swell Baseball Greats card and said “Well, that’s cool… but why did Nick send me a card of Jimmy Piersall?”

Then I realized that Piersall’s left arm is covering some Mets script… I’d forgotten that Jimmy played 40 games for the Mets in the middle of 1963, even though I’m very familiar with the story of Piersall’s 100th home run when he backpedaled around the bases.  The Mets acquired him from the Senators that May (in exchange for future Mets manager Gil Hodges) and then released him in July (and he was quickly scooped up by the Angels).  The only Mets cards of Piersall are from sets like this one and Pacific Legends.

So yes, Nick sent me one of his Short Term Stops!  (trademark patent pending)

Shifting from “cards issued after a career was over” to “cards issued before a career got started”, there’s this 2002 Justifiable minor league card of David Wright.  The cap logo has been removed, but I believe he’s shown with the Capital City Bombers, an A-Ball team based out of Columbia, SC.  (but not the same franchise as the Columbia Fireflies, the current Mets affiliate in the South Atlantic League)

Even though Just Minors didn’t put out the greatest cards, I kinda miss them…. Or maybe it’s more that I miss being able to buy packs of minor leaguers. (I realize that Topps Pro Debut comes in packs, but even though I own more than 500 Pro Debut cards, I don’t think I’ve ever opened a pack)

This card is simultaneously pre- and post-career… a 2009 TriStar Obak card which shows Tom Seaver with the 1966 Jacksonville Suns (his one and only minor league season).

I was going to make a comment about how this photo of Seaver with the Jacksonville Suns had a sun in the background, but then I realized that this was one of a number of backgrounds used by TriStar in the Obak set.

Jump forward ten years and we’ve got another card of Tom Seaver, this time in a  more recognizable uniform.

For those who enjoy somewhat obscure Beatles movies references, I saw the old-timey ballpark background substituting for Shea Stadium, and I said to myself “Not a bit like Cagney”.

Believe it or not, I had not as much as seen a 2020 Bowman card in person before receiving this Adley Rutschman card. Normally I’d buy a pack or two and then fill in wants at shows, but…

BTW, now that I’ve seen 2020 Bowman in person, I can confirm that it’s a better design than 2020 Topps… and if Bowman were Topps and Topps were Bowman, nobody would’ve said boo.

I bought very few packs of 2020 Topps Series 1 or 2, so this Cal Ripken insert is also new to me. I think I have a couple of other “1985” inserts around here somewhere.

By the way, this is starting to come across as very “woe is me”, but it’s really not. I miss opening packs and checking out new product in a more timely manner, but if we’re being honest here… by the time many of these cards make it to me, the bloom is off the rose and I find I’m not as interested as I would’ve normally been. That’s not a bad place to be in, as it turns out.

OK… Moving on to the next 2020 product I hadn’t seen before, and it’s 2020 Topps Archives. I’ve been disappointed in Archives the past year or two, so I wasn’t sure how much I cared about 2020 Archives. I have to admit, they did a pretty decent job with the 2002 design.

This design haunts me a bit because someone, somewhere – I think I know who, but I’d rather not guess than guess wrong – made a custom version where he replaced the burnt caramel color with traditional white, and it looked REALLY GOOD… Bit of a missed opportunity there.

1974 Topps was the first set I collected and I know those cards backwards and forward and inside-out. When I saw the first images of Archives’ 1974 design I went on a bit of a rant about incorrect details. I won’t rehash these here, but I’ll just point out that the most vocal complainers are the ones who want to be happy with something but aren’t.

This is also my first look at Stadium Club. I do like this year’s minimalist design… it’s different, but has a definite Stadium Club-ness about it. (Doesn’t scan all that well, though)

I mistakenly scanned the wrong side of that Syndergaard, so I figured I’d just post it here for anyone who also hasn’t been able to find Stadium Club. I really like how they reprised the colored stripes for the card number

As always, I’m amazed at what Nick can pack into a literal Plain White Envelope, and I’m very appreciative that he takes the time to pack cards into a PWE for me.

Thank you very much, Nick!

Custom Cards For All Ages

I’ve been going pretty far afield with some of my 2020 SAC FLY custom cards… I think maybe the season itself is not interesting me much because of it’s half-assed format, short season and… well, I’m a fan of the Mets and Orioles, so it hasn’t been that great a season for me.

But I continue to crank away at the customs. I’ve made about 90 so far, some for KBO, some for NPB but most for Major Leaguers.

This morning I saw that the Red Sox called up César Puello… He started out as a 17-year-old Mets minor leaguer in 2008 and was in his 10th professional season when he made his Major League debut with the Angels in late 2017. From there… well…

After one game with the Angels he was claimed on waivers by the Rays. He played the rest of 2017 with the Rays, played in AAA for the D-Backs and Giants, played briefly for the Angels and Marlins last year and just popped up again with the Red Sox.

Puello has appeared on Bowman and Pro Debut cards, but has not appeared on any cards at all since 2016, before his MLB debut. I appreciate his tenacity, so I decided to make a custom card for him.


Ron Gardenhire also started out with the Mets, and yesterday he announced his retirement from managing, effective immediately. I made a 2020 custom yesterday…

…and decided to have a little mini custom card retrospective for Gardy.

2014 TSR

2017/18 TSR Hot Stove

(I don’t know about my readers, but even though they were pretty labor-intensive to make each custom, I really like the way my Faux Post cereal cards came out. I may have to do something like these again this winter.)


I made this custom the other day just because I liked this photo of Danny Jansen, even though it’s not a great photo, technically speaking.  But I like it anyway.


On occasion I take some liberties with my customs. I really liked this photo of Jake Marisnick leaping for the ball… except for the small unfortunate detail of his not catching the ball. So I digitally removed the ball. Always remember, boys and girls, that images are not always what they seem.


I’m not playing Fantasy Baseball this year for the first time in I don’t know how long… 15 years at least. Maybe 20. Anyway, one thing I’ve learned over all those years is to NEVER start a pitcher for his first appearance after a no-hitter.

Mills wasn’t awful in his follow-up game, but he wasn’t worth starting either. If I remember my Yahoo points system… 6 innings pitched for 18 points, add 7 strikeouts to make 25 points, minus 7 points for 6 hits and a walk, minus 4 points for four earned runs, minus 5 points for the loss, resulting in 9 points. Yup, not awful but you’d be annoyed that you started him.

But I believe that catches me up on the no-hitter customs for the year so far.


No particular reason to make a custom of Corbin Burnes other than to remind myself how much these particular Brewers uniforms make them look like Cub Scouts.

I do like the new Brew Crew uniforms, but as someone who ascended up to the scouting ranks to the lofty level of First Class Scout, I can’t get past the Cub Scout thing.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Boy Scouts, “First Class” is basically how far you get if you are in Boy Scouts for years but don’t apply yourself because the merit badges, skill awards and such are not what you’re there for.


Anyway… Let’s share one more custom before I move on to things I should be doing in real life…

I believe that Randy Dobnak has been assigned to the ominous-sounding Alternate Site, but between the glasses and the Fu Manchu, I had to make a custom of the guy.

Few will understand the reference, but I like the Vince Guaraldi vibe he gives off.

OK, that’s enough for today. Enjoy your Sunday!

The 1970’s, A To Z: Tim Cullen to Bobby Darwin

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


TIM CULLEN

1970 Topps #49

Played 1966 – 1972
1970’s Teams: Senators, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
Was a regular for the Senators in 1970 and 1971; His last Major League appearance was in 1972 ALCS

Career Highlights:
Named as the shortstop on the 1967 Topps All-Star Rookie team;

Fun Stuff:
Was a High School teammate of Jim Fregosi and a college teammate of John Boccabella and Nelson Briles; Cullen was traded to the White Sox before Spring Training in 1968, part of a six-player deal between the two teams… and part of the trade was reversed that August with Cullen going back to Washington and Ron Hansen going back to Chicago

Card Stuff:
Had a card in the 1970 Kellogg’s set; Cullen appeared in the 1972 Topps set as an airbrushed Texas Ranger (after the Senators moved to Dallas – Ft. Worth), but Cullen never played for the Rangers… He was released in March and signed with the A’s.

Bonus card (since it was used in a prior post, so what the heck):


RAY CULP

1972 Topps #2

Played 1963 – 1973
1970’s Teams: Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
Was the Red Sox Opening Day starter in 1971; Tied a Major League record by striking out the first 6 batters he faced, 5/11/70

Career Highlights:
One of the few players to be an All-Star in both leagues – with Phillies in 1963 and Red Sox in 1969; In 1963 he was named Sporting News NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year, was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team, and got a vote in 1963 National League Rookie of the Year voting (but finished a distant third to Pete Rose)

Fun Stuff:
After he retired from baseball he started a real estate company named after his career batting average: “123, Inc.”

Card Stuff:
Appeared in 1960 Leaf as a prospect but didn’t appear on a Topps card until his actual rookie season of 1963; Also appeared in the 1964 Topps coins set and the 1970 Kellogg’s set


JOHN CURTIS

1974 Topps #373

Played 1970 – 1984
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants

1970’s Highlights:
Lead the 1973 Red Sox with 4 shutouts; Was the last Red Sox pitcher to bat in a regular lineup, September 28, 1972

Career Highlights:
Won a Gold medal with Team USA in the 1967 Pan American games; pitched three no-hitters (one a perfect game) for Clemson; Pitched in 438 Major League games and started 199 of them

Fun Stuff (for me and my fellow Long Islanders, anyway):
His cards in the 1970’s listed him as born in Massachusetts and living in South Carolina, but he grew up on Long Island and graduated from Smithtown High School (back when there was only one HS instead of East and West)

Card Stuff:
Was in 1981 Topps and Fleer, but not 1981 Donruss


…and that brings us to the end of the C’s. I’ve been wanting to do more to commemorate when we move on to a new letter in our A-Z, and this next graphic is a step in that direction:


JOHN D’ACQUISTO

1977 Topps #19

Played 1973 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Giants, Cardinals, Padres

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the 1974 Sporting News NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year and also named to the 1974 Topps All-Star Rookie Team; Lead the Giants in strikeouts (167) during his rookie season and set San Francisco records for most K’s and wins (12) by a rookie; Had one of the top fastballs in the game, having been clocked at 100 MPH

Fun Stuff:
His cousin is former Pirates pitcher Lou Marone

Card Stuff:
I normally wouldn’t chose an airbrushed card as my favorite card of a player, but this was such a good job that it was years before I realized it was an airbrushing… D’Acquisto would only pitch 3 games for the Cardinals before being traded to San Diego; Did not appear on a 1978 Topps card despite pitching in 20 games in 1977


ALVIN DARK

1976 SSPC #488

Played 1946 – 1960
Managed 1961 – 1977

1970’s Highlights:
As manager of the A’s he won 90+ games twice and a World Championship in 1974

Career Highlights (as a manager):
Won a pennant with the 1962 Giants; Also managed the Indians and Padres; Has the distinction of being fired by Charles O. Finley two different times (once in Kansas City, once in Oakland)

Career Highlights (as a player):
Was the 1948 NL Rookie of the Year with the Boston Braves; was a three-time All-Star with the New York Giants; Lead the league with 51 doubles in 1951; Batted over .300 four times

Fun Stuff:
Played college football at LSU and Southwestern Louisiana institute; As a player he appeared at every position except catcher

Card Stuff:
Was hired as the Padres manager during the 1977 season, appeared in 1978 Topps as the Padres manager, but he got fired during 1978 Spring Training and replaced with Roger Craig

Here’s a TCMA “The 1950s” card of Alvin Dark I picked up last year


BOBBY DARWIN

1978 Topps #467

Played 1962 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Dodgers, Twins, Brewers, Red Sox, Cubs

1970’s Highlights:
Had two seasons of 20+ homers and two seasons of 90+ RBI; was named the Twins’ 1972 rookie of the year

Fun Stuff:
Was originally a pitcher and pitched a single game for the Los Angeles Angels in 1962, three more with the Dodgers in 1969 and then was converted to an outfielder in 1970.  In 7.1 innings over four appearances, his ERA was 10.29 and his WHIP was 3.00

Card Stuff:
Was in the 1975 and 1976 Hostess sets


A song to celebrate our moving on to D

The Folder On My Laptop Said “Next Post”. Who Am I To Argue?

I’ve been struggling a bit lately to find topics to write about, but I also know that I’ve got a bunch of post ideas that got to a certain point and then I (most likely) got distracted from them and ultimately forgot about them.  Sometimes I only get as far as scanning cards before I end up inadvertently going in another direction.

In looking for images like that, I stumbled on a folder called “Next Post” from March 29th and it had five images in it.  I think these might’ve been just a random selection of “Cards I got in the past year”, but six months later, I’m not sure.  I guess it doesn’t matter.

I’m in a weird place when it comes to collecting the Steelers, my NFL team of choice… But before I get into that, since I was a kid there’s a part of me that wants to write “Jack Sprat” verses about Jack Ham… Stuff like “Jack Ham would eat no Spam, his wife would eat Sizzlean…” (For those who don’t remember Sizzlean, it was a supposedly healthier – or less unhealthy – bacon substitute)

I didn’t grow up a Steelers fan but became one in the 1980s when I roomed with a die-hard fan of the Black and Gold (and who owned the TV we shared). With the exception of 1975 when I went nuts with that year’s football cards… which was just as much about “I’ve already finished the 1975 baseball set” as it was about the NFL… I’ve never been a huge football collector. However I did have a general, open-ended plan to collect all of the Topps base cards for the Steeler teams I watched, from the 1980s forward.

A funny thing happened over the past few years, though… The desire to chase vintage has dominated what little football I buy, so while I have few football cards since 2015, I’ve been buying vintage Steelers who came before I followed the team. Jack Ham, at the very least, was a player I remember from when I was a kid, even if the Steelers were just another NFL team to me at the time. The Steelers cards I’ve been buying from the 1950s and 1960s, however mean little to me in terms of nostalgia, but serve more as a case of “I want vintage football, so I might as well chase the Steelers… except when I’m looking at AFL or CFL cards, then all bets are off”.

Anyway… I’m not really going anywhere with that, it’s just that the card made me stop and reflect on how readily and unwittingly I abandoned what had been an established plan. To be honest, I think the current card market took a lot of wind out of my sales. When Topps stopped making NFL cards, it wasn’t really clear which “flagship” set to focus on, and I ended up mentally wandering off.

Wow, that turned out to be more of a topic that I’d had in mind.

I think I got this 1977 Hostess Johnny Bench card from a bin of loose $1 cards at a show last fall. Can’t go wrong with Johnny B!

“Johnny B., how much there is to see… Just open your eyes and listen to me”. Do you think The Hooters were singing about Johnny Bench when they recorded that song that you probably don’t know even though it reached #61 on the Billboard Hot 10 in 1987? I have the single around here somewhere because the B-side was a live version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”.’

But I digress.

I have nebulous plans to complete all five Hostess sets, but I think I need some kind of game plan if I’m going to get serious about it.

Al “Rube” Walker was a Mets coach when I was a kid, and because of that he’s someone I collect… But even without that reason, how could I resist this 1957 Topps card?

The card only looks miscut… my scanner’s software didn’t like the left edge.

Bill Virdon was the Yankees manager during the fairly brief period when I liked the Yankees as well as the Mets. This 1960 Leaf is one of 7 cards I have of Virdon from his playing days.

1960 Leaf is a set I didn’t look at twice for much of my collecting life, but it’s grown on me over the past 5-10 years. (Again, miscut by the scanner, not in real life)

Wrapping up, appropriately enough, with Tom Terrific from 1974 Kellogg’s. Remember, these cards were selected by me in March, before Seaver’s passing.

TOM SEAVER
1944 – 2020

Where It’s At! I Got Too Many Binders And Some Match Attax

Today’s post is going to, for no good reason at all, switch back and forth between the organization of my collection and a pack of cards I got at Target.

…Just because…

I’ll start with a trip I made to Target for some household goods. I’d seen a handful of comments online about cards starting to reappear on retail shelves, and I foolishly got my hopes up a little bit. As it turned out, the only thing different from the last time I was there was that the empty gravity feeders now include one for Stadium Club.

But I did want to open *something*, so I bought a single pack of 2019/20 Topps Champions League Match Attax… It’s at a relatively low price point ($1.59, I think), it’s something to open and with any luck I’ll find something one of my trading buddies might like.

Was my pack worth the HUGE investment I made? I’ll let you know…

…After I start talking about my binders.

The cover came off one of my binders the other day… It was a repurposed binder I got from a prior employer and it originally housed one of a library of manuals devoted to the IBM AS/400 midrange computing platform. The binder currently holds my 1978 Topps set, and the cover tearing off got me thinking about my many binders and how I’m going to find a place for all of them.

For much of 2020 I’ve been reorganizing my collection and plotting new shelving solutions for my binders. Right now in the office of Shlabotnik World Headquarters, my primary shelving is a freestanding bookcase against one wall. Inside a closet I’ve got old plastic shelving (originally from my sister’s college dorm room, and my sister is now well into her 50s), and a third set of “shelving” in the closet is really old baker’s rack (where not every binder I own can stand upright between the shelves). At random places around the room I’ve got 5 or 6 binders sitting in other places because there’s not currently any good place to put them. Many of the binders are 1″ or 2″ binders and there are over 90 binders housing part of my collection. The remaining cards are in boxes.

Back to my pack… the first card made it clear that my money wasn’t wasted. I don’t know much about international soccer, but I know Ronaldo. This is justification for the pack right there.

So generally speaking, the more I see the need to organize my cards, the more “I gotta get more binders!” pops in my head.  I try not to get too caught up in the idea of keeping my collection in monster boxes, because I never pull monster boxes out and look through them. There are there as storage, much like someone might rent a storage unit, put stuff in it and then completely forget about it. A lot of the cards in monster boxes are there because I don’t want to break up a set, or because I had designs on completing the set one of these days.

Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City. Wikipedia declares him to be “widely considered to be one of the best players in the world”, so… not too shabby, eh?

I’ve started going through my binders because I’ve realized that how I collected when I set up many of these binders is not the same way I collect now.  My mental organization has also changed, and I had a few instances of “Why would I put that card in this binder?”  While going through the binders, I’ve also come to realize how little I flip through some of these binders, and if I don’t flip through the binders I already have, it’s kind of hard to justify the belief that I need more binders and more 9-pocket sheets.

Jonathan Bamba (LOSC Lille)… LOSC Lille is a French club and LOSC stand for “Lille Olympique Sporting Club”… so calling them LOSC Lille seems a bit redundant, like “ATM Machine”, but anyway…

So my looking through my binders is resulting in a mental shift. Rather than “I need to find space for all the binders I’ve got plus the ones I’ll be getting because I’m going to need more binders”, I’m starting to think that maybe the real solution is right there in front of me: Instead of trying to figure out where to put all of these binders sitting on the table and propped up against the side of the bookshelf, I’m thinking I need to say “This is all the room I’ve got and all of the room I’m going to have”, and then figure out what’s important enough to put on those shelves.

Daniel Wass (Valencia)… Wikipedia says Wass is a “Danish professional footballer who plays as a utility player for Spanish club Valencia and the Danish national team”.

So it’s not like I’m limiting myself tremendously. The shelving I have will still fit a good number of binders  If I prioritize which binders are most important to me right now, and get those binders into the shelves, then I’m thinking that any binders which aren’t shelf-worthy need to be emptied out and the contents put into monster boxes… but while I’m doing that, I should also consider that if some subset of my collection isn’t binder-worthy, then maybe it’s not worth of being in my collection in the first place. I *am* trying to be a bit Marie Kondo-ish about my organizing. “Spark Joy” and so on.

Gold Limited Edition Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)… Wikipedia says that van Dijk captains the Netherlands national team and is “considered one of the best defenders in the world”.  Shane over at Shoebox Legends is a Liverpool supporter, so this is going to him.

I’ve bought enough packs of these cards over the past couple of years that it occurred to me that I probably have enough to play a game. From looking at a “How to play” video, though, it looks like it’s really a game for two players… So good news, you won’t be subjected to a “Learning to play Match Attax” post from me.

Final thoughts on the whole binder thing… I’m comfortable with the idea that limiting my binders is a good move, especially given the need to contain things in my “office”, but I’m also a bit apprehensive that this is just another collection-streamlining tactic which will get me just so far before I’m looking for new ways to bring order to chaos.  Maybe attacking the mess on multiple fronts is the only way I’m going to get it done.  If anyone has any thoughts about this, I’m all ears.

Beck’s song “Where It’s At” figured in to an early draft of this post far better than it does now, but I kept the title and the following video anyway.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Hector Cruz to Mike Cuellar

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


HÉCTOR “HEITY” CRUZ

1977 Topps #624

Played 1973 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Reds

1970’s Highlights:
Named the 1975 Sporting News and Topps Minor League Player of the year; The Cardinals traded 3rd baseman Ken Reitz to the Giants so that Cruz could take over at 3rd in 1976, but then, unsatisfied with Cruz, got Reitz back from San Fran after the season; Cruz got two first place votes in the 1976 NL Rookie of the Year voting and finished 3rd behind co-winners Pat Zachry and Butch Metzger; Hit a double and scored a run in the 1979 NLCS (Reds vs. Pirates)

Fun Stuff:
Brothers Héctor, José and Tommy Cruz were briefly teammates with the 1973 Cardinals; Héctor played a season in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants


JOSÉ CRUZ

1977 Topps #42

Played 1970 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Astros

1970’s Highlights:
In 1977 he lead the Astros in batting average (.299) and triples (10)

Career Highlights:
Owns the Astros’ career record with 80 triples; batted .300 or better in 5 seasons with Astros, only Jeff Bagwell did that more; Lead the NL in 1983 with 189 hits; In the 1980s he was named to two All-Star teams and won two Silver Slugger awards; Was named Most Valuable Astro four times; His #25 was retired by the Astros in 1992 and he was named to the Astros Hall Of Fame’s inaugural class in 2019

Fun Stuff:
Is the father of José Cruz, Jr. (imagine that!) who played for a number of Major League teams from 1997 to 2008


JULIO CRUZ

1978 Topps #687

Played 1977 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Mariners

1970’s Highlights:
Was drafted by the Mariners from the Angels organization and was a mid-season call-up for the M’s in their first season; Was among the league leaders in stolen bases in 1978 (finishing second to Ron LeFlore) and 1979 (finishing third behind Willie Wilson and LeFlore); Lead AL 2nd basemen in fielding percentage in 1978

Career Highlights:
While playing for the White Sox in the 1983 ALCS, Julio went 4-for-12 with 2 stolen bases

Card Stuff:
Cruz carried a Roberto Clemente card in his wallet while he played in the minor leagues; Had a card in 1979 Hostess


MIKE CUBBAGE

1978 Topps #219

Played 1974 – 1981
1970’s Teams: Rangers, Twins

1970’s Highlights:
Was the Twins regular third baseman in 1977 and 1978; Hit for the cycle against the Blue Jays on July 27, 1978

Career Highlights:
Served as the interim manager of the Mets in 1991

Fun Stuff:
His cousin is long-time catcher Larry Haney; Was involved in a 1978 trade which saw Bert Blyleven go from Minnesota to Texas; Is currently a Special Assistant to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo

Card Stuff:
Shared a 1975 rookie card with Doug DeCinces and Manny Trillo


MIKE CUELLAR

1972 Topps #70

Played 1959 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Orioles, Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Was one of four 20-game winners on the 1971 Orioles team (along with Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson and Dave McNally); Hit grand slam off Jim Perry in game 1 of 1970 ALCS vs Twins but Cuellar did not get the win after giving up 10 hits & 6 earned runs in 4.1 innings; In 1970 he lead the league with 24 wins, a .750 winning percentage and 21 complete games; Got as many first place votes in 1970 AL Cy Young award voting as did winner Jim Perry, but Cuellar finished fourth in a tight vote

Career Highlights:
Tied with Denny McLain for the 1969 Cy Young award; Had 185 career wins and won 20+ games four times; Got the only Orioles win vs. Mets in the 1969 World Series, a complete game in Game 1; Was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1982; His 2.22 ERA in 1966 was second only to Sandy Koufax and better than Juan Marichal, Jim Bunning and Bob Gibson

1970s non-highlights:
Gave up Harmon Killebrew’s 500th home run in 1971; The Orioles released the 39-year-old Cuellar after the 1976 season and the Angels signed him for 1977, but in a relief appearance vs. the A’s he gave up 2 hits and a run (plus a blown save) without getting any outs, and then in a start against the Yankees he got knocked around, giving up 7 hits and 6 runs in 3.1 innings. The Angels released him two weeks later.

Card Stuff:
Is featured on the ALCS Game 1 card in 1970 Topps; He pitched just two games for the Reds in 1959, but that got him cards in 1959 and 1960 Topps (using the same photo THREE times, twice on the 1960 card). He would not pitch in the majors again until 1964 with the Cardinals, and he made his sole baseball card appearance with St. Louis in 1965 Topps. He never appeared on a card with the Angels.

1980-81 Player Movement And 1981 Topps, Fleer and Donruss

A couple of months ago I wrote a post that I thought was salvaging a failed idea, but it turned out to be more interesting than I’d expected… And that idea involved looking at how the transactions of the prior season and winter are reflected in a particular baseball card set.

The last time I looked at 1974 Topps and Topps Traded. Since I don’t want to be accused of beating the 1970s to death in this blog, I went forward to 1981 (where I have all of 1981 Topps and Fleer, and much of 1981 Donruss).

1981 was, of course, the first year since 1963 where a company other than Topps issued baseball cards in retail packs, and it was also the first year that Topps did a Traded set as a separate product (unlike the 1970s traded cards which came in later packs of that year’s regular set).

Now there’s nothing I’m trying to prove or disprove, nor any point I’m trying to make.  This is just a matter of laying the cards on the table (so to speak) and saying “Hey, check this out.”

The earliest transaction I found which resulted in airbrushing

One thing I found a fair amount of in 1981 Topps was instances where the photographers had, at least in theory, plenty of time to take photos of a player in a new uniform.  On April 6th, 1980 the Giants purchased Allen Ripley from the Boston Red Sox.  With an entire season to take photos, Topps ended up with an airbrushed portrait.

…But Fleer managed to get a photo of the talented Mr. Ripley.

I wouldn’t be completely surprised if there are players who were traded during the 1979 season and are airbrushed in 1981 Topps, but I didn’t want to go completely crazy with my research.

Latest trade reflected in 1981 Topps with actual photos

On August 14, 1980 the Yankees and Rangers made a trade where the two principals were future HOFer Gaylord Perry and swingman Ken Clay.

As these things often go, Clay ended up pitching just 8 games in 1980 for the Rangers and would get traded to Seattle that offseason.  He spent all of 1981 with the Mariners, and got a card in 1981 Topps Traded.

1981 Fleer, by the way, also showed Gaylord Perry with the Yankees.

A late August transaction that isn’t a “first” or “last”, but is interesting enough anyway.

On August 31st, Willie Montañez was traded by the Padres to the Expos for minor leaguer Tony Phillips (who would be involved in one more trade before making his Major League debut with the A’s in 1982).

Topps has Montañez airbrushed into an Expos uniform.

But Fleer has him still with the Padres (and his name misspelled “Willy”) while Donruss ignored Montañez altogether.

The final transaction reflected in 1981 Topps

On September 13, 1980 the Rangers sent Sparky Lyle to Philadelphia for a PTBNL.  Topps airbrushed Lyle into a Phillies uni.

Fleer and Donruss managed to get honest-to-goodness photos of Lyle (even if neither photo is the best).

The earliest transaction featured in the 1981 Topps Traded set

The Yankees traded Fred Stanley to the A’s for Mike Morgan on November 3rd, 1980.  Both players are included in the Traded checklist.

Last transaction which resulted in a team change in 1981 Donruss

One thing 1981 Donruss is known for is reflecting player movement by changing the team name on the front of the card, even when the photo doesn’t reflect that change.  The last transaction which shows this came on December 7th, 1980… The Cardinals signed Darrell Porter as a free agent.

What’s more interesting is that Don Sutton signed as a free agent with the Astros three days before Porter signed with the Cards, but Sutton’s card lists him with the Dodgers.  This is just a guess, but maybe Donruss finished the printing sheet featuring Sutton before they finished the sheet featuring Porter.


Side trip into the 1981 Topps/Coca-Cola sets

I’m not going to get into any great detail here, but it’s worth noting that Coca-Cola sponsored a number of team sets which came out during the 1981 season.  Any updates featured airbrushed photos, but those same players would have updated photos in the Traded set which came out later in the year.

I don’t have a lot of these Coke cards, but I figured I’d share a couple that I do have….

January 23, 1981: Frank Tanana, Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi were traded by the Angels to the Boston Red Sox for Fred Lynn and Steve Renko.

February 28, 1981: The Cubs traded Dave Kingman to the Mets for Steve Henderson.  Henderson also got a Coke card.  I’m reusing a scan from a long-ago post, so here we’ve got Kingman’s traded card on the left and his Coca-Cola card on the right.

You can find out a little bit more about these cards from a number of posts I’ve written before (click here to scroll through them).


Back to the original theme of the post… such as it is…

The final transaction reflected in 1981 Topps Traded with a photo
The New York Yankees traded Jim Spencer and Tom Underwood to the Oakland Athletics for Dave Revering, Mike Patterson and a minor leaguer, May 20th, 1981.

This is a very underwhelming trade but you’d have to say that the A’s “won” this deal if only for the 22 wins Tom Underwood got for Oakland.

Last deal reflected in 1981 Topps
The Cubs traded Rick Reuschel to the New York Yankees for Doug Bird, a player to be named later (Mike Griffin), and cash, June 12, 1981

Players missing from Donruss and Fleer

1981 Donruss has fewer cards than the other two flagship sets, so it’s not surprising that there are fewer players represented… but it’s interesting to note which players are missing, because some of them are fairly notable  For instance, Rudy May won the AL ERA title in 1980, but he’s not in 1981 Donruss:

Rusty Staub was a 6-time All-Star and appeared in 109 games in 1980, but he’s also missing from Donruss.

Other notable players who are not in 1981 Donruss: Bill Campbell, Claudell Washington, Doug Bird, Ed Figueroa, Ellis Valentine, John Curtis, John D’Acquisto, Lee May (also not in Topps), Rick Rhoden, Ross Grimsley, Terry Forster, Willie Montañez

Notable Players who are not in 1981 Fleer: Andre Thornton, Cesar Geronimo, Duane Kuiper, Rick Wise

Notable players who are not in 1981 Donruss or Fleer:  Ken Brett, Pedro Guerrero


I will probably do another one of these in the future, I’m thinking about doing 1988 Topps since I have the complete set – my complete sets get spottier after 1981 – and because I wonder if I’m right in thinking that Topps would get more serious about these matters as that decade moved along. But I could be wrong as well.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Del Crandall to Terry Crowley

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


DEL CRANDALL

1974 Topps #99

As Player: 1949 – 1966
As Manager: 1972 – 1984
1970’s teams (as Manager): Brewers

1970’s highlights (as manager):
Managed the Brewers for the better part of 4 years and finished in 5th and 6th

Career Highlights (as player): One of the top catchers of the 1950s; 8-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove; Won a pennant and a World Championship with the Milwaukee Braves; As a 19-year-old with the Boston Braves he finished 2nd to Don Newcombe in voting for the 1949 NL Rookie of the Year award; Inducted into Braves HOF 2003

Bonus card:  Since I’m something of a Del Crandall collector, I felt like I should include a card from his time as a catcher with the Braves, so here’s one of my favorites, his 1957 card:


JIM CRAWFORD

1976 SSPC #47

Played 1973 – 1978
1970’s Teams: Astros, Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
Made his Major League debut after just 13 games in the minors; Got first hit and first win when he capped off two shutout innings on the mound with a walk-off double in the 12th inning against the Dodgers, April 10, 1973; Batted .267 (8 for 30) over his career

Fun Stuff:
Was a teammate of Larry Gura, Lerrin LaGrow, Len Randle and Craig Swan at Arizona State; His nickname is “Catfish”

Card Stuff:
Didn’t appear in 1978 Topps despite making 37 appearances in 1977


WILLIE CRAWFORD

1971 Topps #519

Played 1964 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Dodgers, Cardinals, Astros, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the May, 1973 NL Player of the Month after hitting .404 with a .628 slugging percentage, 6 doubles, 5 homers, 20 RBI and 21 Runs;  went 2-for-6 with a solo homer in the 1974 World Series

Career Highlights:
Was just a few days past his 18th birthday when he made his Major League debut and also went 1-for-2 as a teenaged pinch-hitter in the 1965 World Series

Fun Stuff:
His cousin, Curtis Rowe, played for the Pistons and Celtics and appeared on several basketball cards

Card Stuff:
Played for the Cardinals and Astros but never appeared on a card with those teams… AND… Appeared in 1977 Topps as a member of the Giants, but was traded to the Astros before appearing in a regular season game with San Francisco


WARREN CROMARTIE

1978 Topps #117

Played 1974 – 1991
1970’s Teams: Expos

1970’s Highlights:
His 41 doubles in 1977 (his first full season) was 3rd in the NL;  Finished second to teammate Andre Dawson in the 1977 Sporting News NL Player of the Year voting (which was voted on by the players in the Majors);  Was drafted four times before signing with the Expos in 1973

Career Highlights:
Played 7 seasons in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, won the Central League MVP award in 1989 and helped the Giants win the 1989 Japan Series after being down 3 games to none

Fun Stuff:
“Cro” is currently the face of the Montreal Baseball Project, whose objective is to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal


TERRY CROWLEY

1973 Topps #302

Played 1969 – 1983
1970’s Teams: Orioles, Reds, Braves

1970’s Highlights:
Was the first Designated Hitter in Orioles history; Was regarded as a pinch-hitting specialist for much of his career

Career Highlights:
Has a .286 career batting average in 3 World Series (1970, 1975, 1979)

Card Stuff:
That’s Thurman Munson making a cameo appearance on Crowley’s 1973 Topps card (which is easily one of the top cards of the decade); Crowley appeared in the 1974 Topps Traded set with Texas, but was traded to Cincinnati before playing for the Rangers

Hey, Julie!

Last month I received a greatly-appreciated package from Julie over at A Cracked Bat…  I’ve had very few cards coming my way lately, so I enjoyed taking a break from my long-term organizing project and thumbing through stacks of unfamiliar cards.

I enjoy Sports Illustrated For Kids cards, and here’s one of still-long-haired Jacob deGrom. Trading Card Database says this is from 2015.

As much as I enjoy these cards, I think I’ve bought one issue of SI 4 Kids. Maybe I should do something about that. Or not.  I feel like if I subscribed to the magazine then all of the cards will be of teenage cornhole champions and New York Yankees.

2020 Diamond Kings! This is, by far, my favorite Panini product… a left-handed complement that brings to mind the like from Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road:  “You ain’t a beauty but, hey, you’re all right”. This card goes into my Aaron Nola collection.

When I was signing the praises of Diamond Kings a few months ago, a common response was “Yeah, but they keep using the same photos for the older players”. When I got this card, I saw what they meant… This is the same photo of Dom DiMaggio that was used in 2018 Diamond Kings. Oh, well.

I’m not big into Opening Day, but I like to pick up those base cards that are somehow different than flagship Topps. Since Anthony Rendon was in Series 1 with the Nationals, I knew from looking at the checklist that this card would fall into that category.  Interesting job on his jersey lettering.

With this package from Julie I inadvertently became a Trent Grisham supercollector. I actually don’t know much about him other than that the Padres got him from Milwaukee… Oh, and this OD card is another one where it’s been updated from Series 1.

I got a whole bunch of 2020 Big League from Julie, and I’m going to feature some of my favorites from her batch.

I guess its because the Marlins fly under my radar, but I had no idea who Harold Ramirez is (and it appears he played a full season in 2019). Great action shot, anyway.

More Big League.

I was planning on buying more Big League than I did, but then 2020 happened and I was left looking at empty shelves.

Evidence that Topps used Spring Training photos in Big League.

1981 Kellogg’s are the only standard-sized set in their run of sets.  I keep thinking of focusing on one Kellogg’s set and try to knock it out, but I just end up picking up 3-D cards as the opportunities present themselves.

One of these days there will be one Kellogg’s set which reaches “critical mass” and I will put an effort into completing that set. Right now, none of my Kellogg’s sets are more than 25% complete, so I will continue to meander through them as a low-to-medium priority.

This is just a fun card in so many ways.  I would never expect to see someone like Mackey Sasser in a Classic set, but there he is putting the tag on Jose Uribe (or at least attempting to put the tag on Uribe).

I was at one game at Candlestick Park in the late 1980’s, and the fans were serenading Jose Uribe with a call-and-answer chant of “U!  Ribe!”

One last card I’ll be featuring, this one goes into my Darren Daulton collection.  While I will confess to collecting Nola and Daulton, I categorically deny any rumors about my secretly being a Phillies fan. Both players were ones I saw play in the minors as prospects.

There were many more cards in this package, but I wanted to keep this to the highlights.

Thank you, Julie, for all of the cards!

And now, in honor of Julie, I will present the following music video…

Fountains of Wayne were best known for their 2003 Top-40 hit “Stacy’s Mom”, but I was a fan from their 1996 debut album right up until… Well… OK, I didn’t care for what would be their final album, “Sky Full Of Holes”.

At any rate, I thought this song (originally from the “Welcome, Interstate Managers” album) was appropriate… and I suspect that, from what I’ve heard about Cracked Bat Julie’s previous employer, she can identify with at least some of the lyrics…

Quick Thoughts On Baseball Card Photos In 2021

Although I haven’t shared my 2020 SAC FLY customs here a whole lot, I’ve been making a bunch of them for my own enjoyment.  The more of these I make, the more I realize that the pandemic will have a significant affect on what cards will look like next year.

For starters, some of the players are wearing masks while on the field.  I try to avoid using those shots because I like my customs to show what a player looks like, but it does limit the photo selection for those players (and because of that, I’m having trouble finding decent on-field images of managers and coaches).

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, a lot of the photos are taken from the stands, looking down on the players.

(FYI, Brock Holt was released by the Brewers and just signed with the Nationals)

There’s a lot of samey-same to the photos of pitchers, it seems more so than in recent years… and for those of you who didn’t realize, Madison Bumgarner has not appeared on a Topps card since 2017 (presumably he let his contract ran out), so if you want a card of him in a Diamondbacks uniform that hasn’t been digitally altered, you’ll have to call in a favor with your custom-making buddies.

Like I said, samey-same photos, especially for relievers and the back end of the rotation.

You may not have noticed that the three colored boxes on my customs is complemented by text in three different colors.  I really like the way this looks, but it’s frankly a pain when you’re trying to crank out a bunch of customs.

Because of the samey-sameness, I’ve been using photos which aren’t necessarily great photos, but are at least different.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see photos from the truncated 2020 Spring Training in 2021 sets (I probably should’ve spent more time messing with the brightness on this photo, but I’ve got chores to get to today)

So that’s a few things that might be coming our way next year.

Before I go away, I have an unofficial policy of featuring customs for anyone who throws a no-hitter in 2020. Lucas Giolito struck out 13 Pirates in throwing a no-no a few days ago…

This custom was actually created back in May, so the photo is obviously not from the no-hitter.

Across the Pacific, Yasuhiro Ogawa no-hit the Yokohama DeNA BayStars two weeks ago. This photo is also not from the no-hitter but as I mentioned when I tweeted this custom, I really like this jersey.

I don’t want KBO fans to feel left out, so I’ll close things out with a familiar face for fans of the Twins, as well as anyone who was buying up rookie cards in 2016…