I’ve become a bit intrigued by Oliver Drake.
Part of it is because I remember him as a pitcher in the Orioles organization, a guy who was drafted in the 43rd round in 2008, didn’t make his MLB debut until 2015 and got traded to Milwaukee in April, 2017. However it’s what happened to him in during the 2018 season that makes his story interesting. Drake went from the Brewers to the Indians to the Angels to the Blue Jays to the Twins, pitching for each team along the way and setting a record by playing for five teams in one season.
His wanderings didn’t stop there, however. Early in November the Rays claimed him on waivers, and late in November the Blue Jays claimed him again. Two days ago the Rays purchased Drake from the Jays, and that’s where we stand with the above custom.
Now with these customs I make, the original format is multi-layered; for example, there’s the card text on one layer, the card design on another, Oliver Drake on another, his photoshopped cap on another, and the Tropicana Field background on yet another. Before I “publish” them, I merge them all into one layer and save it in a JPEG format.
For this custom, however, I kept a copy in pspimage format, the native format of the relatively ancient copy of Paint Shop Pro that I use. This way, if (for example) the Padres claim Drake on waivers, I can tweak the “photoshopped” cap layer, swap out the Trop for Petco, modify the text and boom, I’ve got a team swap variaton on Hot Stove Custom #18.
…And yes, I’m going to do that if/when Oliver Drake changes teams in 2019.
One other thing about Oliver Drake: He has very little cardboard. If you search COMC for “Oliver Drake”, most of the cards that come up are like this one:
If you’re not familiar with this, it’s the card for Al OLIVER in the 1981 DRAKE’S Big Hitters set. There are similar 1983 and 1984 Drake’s cards featuring Al Oliver… Finally there’s a couple of parallels of a 2015 Topps Heritage Minor League “2014 Saved Game Leaders” cards featuring Arik Sikula (who pitched in the independent Can-Am League in 2018), Oliver Drake and Enrique Burgos (who pitched in Mexico in 2018). That’s Drake’s one baseball card which isn’t part of a minor league team set, and he doesn’t even get it to himself. That’s why I figured he needed a custom.
There’s a little more hype surrounding the player on the next custom. Yusei Kikuchi has been one of the top pitchers in Japan, and there were many teams bidding for his services. The Mariners signed him to a long-term contract.
Kikuchi admitted he preferred a west coast team, as many Asian players do, but it seems that the Mariners get a pretty high percentage of Japanese players. The fact that Ichiro is currently part of the organization certainly doesn’t hurt (and when looking for an image to use on this custom I found one of Kikuchi looking at Ichiro’s locker, although that may have been more of a photo op or the fans “back home” than anything else).
A couple of weeks ago I read about an Athletics prospect named Skye Bolt and like a bolt from the blue – pun completely intended – I had an idea to include prospects with interesting names in my Hot Stove set.
Bolt, who I presume is not related to Usain Bolt, had a breakout year in 2018 and is now considered one of the A’s best prospects.
Finally we have one more tribute to the 1964 Topps “Giants” set. This is a commissioned “Bonus Card” of Pirates hurler Trevor Williams.
Williams went 14-10 with a 3.11 ERA and threw a shutout (which is tied with many for the league lead). Williams was originally drafted by the Marlins, but was sent to Pittsburgh in a 2015 minor league dealer.