About The Shlabotnik Report

I've been collecting baseball cards since 1974, and I'm on a quest to rediscover the collection hidden within my accumulation.

Chu-Bops, I Bop and They Bop

Back between 1981 and 1983 there was a collectible called “Chu-Bops”, and what they were was little 3″ x 3″ album covers that came with a bubble gum “record” inside.  They were issued in series, and three of the series were devoted to Elvis Presley, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

At the time I bought only a couple of Billy Joel albums and then a complete run of Beatles;  since they were sold individually in clear cellophane, there was no randomness about it, you just bought the “albums” you wanted. The only way you didn’t complete a set or get all of your wants is if the store was sold out of that Chu-Bop, or if you just missed that series entirely.

First up, I have a Chu-Bop for Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses” album, #4 in the set. The original album is from 1980. I’m originally from Long Island and there’s a state law on record that anyone from Long Island and of a certain age has to be a Billy Joel fan. The law is similar to the Bruce Springsteen statute in New Jersey.
Chu Bops Glass Houses
Yes, I know this looks like I took a photo of the album cover, but this is much smaller.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of one of my Beatles Chu-Bops with a standard-sized Topps Beatles card from the 1960s
Beatles Miniature Album Collection Comparison

The back of the “Glass Houses” Chu-Bop has a little gatefold tab that was perforated so you could remove it. Here’s what you would see in an unopened package (I never removed the tab).
Chu Bops Glass Houses Back

Here’s what the gatefold looks like unfolded…  The part on the left is the back of what you see above.  The part on the right is the back of the “miniature album cover” and featured the lyrics to one of the hit songs off of the album in question – in this case “You May Be Right”.
Chu Bops Glass Houses Gatefold
The gum from my Chu-Bops was chewed and spat out 40 years ago, otherwise I’d show that to you as well.

I also have Billy Joel’s “Songs In The Attic”, #52.

This is clearly from a later series, as it a little “Super Star” logo in the top left and a different offer.

Rather than lyrics, this one has a mini-biography of Billy Joel on the right.  The coupon on the left is for an out-of-print album called “In Harmony 2” which had famous people performing songs aimed at kids.

The Billy Joel song on “In Harmony 2” was called “Nobody Knows But Me” and is about an invisible friend.  To my knowledge the only place this song is currently available is in the “My Lives” box set that came out in 2005.

I thought I had a “team set” of Billy Joel, but when I was researching this I found out I’m missing one for his “52nd Street” album.  Oh, well.  Don’t know how much I care at this point.

The rest of my Chu-Bop collection is all Beatles albums.  I borrowed this image of the sales displays from a Heritage Auctions listing:

Since they were sold in the U.S. before the international standardization of Beatles albums (which happened when the CD’s were first released), many of these Chu-Bops feature album covers that have been out of print for over 30 years.  Here are a couple…

Hey Jude (1970)
Beatles Miniature Album Collection Hey Jude
Once again, the lyrics from one of the songs was featured on the back.
Beatles Miniature Album Collection Hey Jude back

Something New (1964)
Beatles Miniature Album Collection Something New

Yesterday And Today (1966)
Beatles Miniature Album Collection Yesterday And Today

Beatles ’65 (issued late 1964)
Beatles Miniature Album Collection Beatles '65

Beatles VI (1965)
Beatles Miniature Album Collection Beatles VI

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

Reel Music (1982)
This was a post-breakup compilation made up of songs from A Hard Day’s Night, Help, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine and Let It Be.

TCDB has a checklist of the set, but they don’t have any details on the Beatles so I’ll share a checklist here:
B-1 “Reel Music”
B-2 “The Beatles” (aka The White Album)
B-3  “Abbey Road”
B-4  “Hey Jude”
B-5  “Meet The Beatles”
B-6 “Something New”
B-7 “Beatles ’65”
B-8 “Beatles VI”
B-9 “Rubber Soul”
B-10 “Yesterday and Today”
B-11 “Revolver”
B-12 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
B-13 “1962-1966” (aka The Red Album)
B-14 “1967-1970” (aka The Blue Album)
B-15 “Let It Be”
B-16 “A Hard Day’s Night”

The Beatles albums which were released on Capitol Records in the US but weren’t made into Chu-Bops were “The Beatles Second Album”, “The Early Beatles”, “Help!”, “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Yellow Submarine”, plus the live “Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl” and the post-breakup compiliations “Rock ‘N Roll Music”, “Love Songs” and “Rarities”.

In researching this I found that several years ago San Jose Fuji had written his own blog post about Chu-Bops. If anyone else has written about these, let me know and I’ll update this post with links.

Way Behind On Customs: 2022 TSR Baseball

I’m sooooooo far behind on posting my custom cards here on the blog…

(I’m tempted to respond with a Match Game-esque “HOW FAR BEHIND ARE YOU?”, but then I couldn’t come up with a witty follow-up)

I’m so far behind that a lot of the reasons for creating these customs seems out-of-date a month or two later, which I guess underlines that I really should have some sort of game plan going into a season, but I didn’t this time around. Much like my collecting of physical cards, I’ve been spending much of the summer taking a step back and asking myself “Just what do I really want to do with these?” In both cases, I’m still navel-gazing and waiting for an answer.

But anyway… At this point I’m thinking the best way of digging my way out of this hole is just to start digging.

I’ll start with some customs for players who were on the move at the trading deadline… at this point you can look at it as an “Update” set

Every time I see reliever Pete Fairbanks mentioned, I think that with a name like that he needs to be hosting a game show… “And now, here’s the host of Tic-Tac-Dough, Pete Fairbanks!”

I just took a look at Fairbanks’ record and he’s 0-0 with 8 saves… and no decisions is what you want from relievers. A win means you gave up the lead and then took it back, and you certainly don’t want a loss. Fairbanks also has a 1.13 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 24 innings.

Zebulon Vermillion is easily my favorite name from this summer’s recent MLB draft. I’d planned on doing more draft pick customs, but I think this is the only one I’ve done (so far).

I also started what was intended to be a series of “First Pitch” insert cards, but it petered out. I may do more of these, I have to see what images I’d saved to my laptop for this series. For those who don’t know Suni Lee, she’s a gymnast who won Gold in the All-Around at the Tokyo Olympics.

Gunnar Henderson is in the Majors now, but over the summer he was in the Futures Game.  Whoever designed the Futures Game uniforms *had to* have grown up collecting in the “junk wax era”, the uniform looks like the border of a Topps Magazine card.

Yankees fans are loving the heck out of Nestor Cortes this year, with good reason given that he was an All-Star and currently has a 12-4 record and is 5th in the AL with a 2.44 ERA. Just don’t tell those fans that Cortes was briefly lost to the Orioles as a Rule V pick in 2018 and then traded to Seattle after the 2019 season (He signed with the Yankees as a free agent going into the 2021 season)

Another “Pointless Pairings” card for my 2022 Shmeritage set.  Mrs. Shlabotnik and I had been binging “The Good Doctor” before the fall premier in order to catch up on seasons we’d missed, and this custom is what came out of it.

I’ll finish with Brett Phillips, who was briefly on the Orioles. He went with 66 as his uniform number so the back of his jersey read “Phillips 66”, which I just love (even though I’ve never been to a Phillips 66 station in my life)

The 1970’s, A To Z: John Scott to Ted Simmons

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.


1977 O-Pee-Chee #94

Played 1974 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Padres, Blue Jays

1970’s Highlights:
After cups of coffee with the Padres in 1974 and 1975, Scott’s contract was sold to the expansion Blue Jays in advance of the expansion draft. Blue Jays manager Roy Hartsfield had managed the Padres’ Triple-A team and was familiar with Scott, plus being a National League team these players were not available in the American League expansion draft; Started in left field for the Blue Jays in their first-ever game

Career Highlights:
Played 3 seasons with the Yakult Swallows, winning two Diamond Glove awards while there and was an All-Star in 1980

Card Stuff:
Shared a 1975 Topps “Rookie Outfielders” card with Jim Rice and a 1977 Topps “Rookie Outfielders” card with Andre Dawson; Appeared in 1978 Topps with the Blue Jays but was no longer with the team by then.

Bonus Card #1: 1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball #21

Bonus Card #2: 1976 SSPC #131


1974 Topps #80

Played 1967 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Mets, Reds

1970’s Highlights:
Won his 2nd & 3rd Cy Young Awards in 1973 and 1975; Tied a record by striking out 19 Padres on 4/22/70, including the last 10 in a row; Lead the league in ERA in 1970, 1971 and 1973; Lead the league in wins in 1975; Lead the league in Strikeouts five times; while with the Reds, he no-hit the Cardinals, 6/16/78; Lost a no-hitter in the 9th inning on a Leron Lee single, 7/4/72; Lost a no-hitter with 2 outs in the 9th after the Cubs Joe Wallis singled, 9/24/75; Was an opening day starter each year of the decade

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1992; Was the 1967 NL Rookie of the Year and the 1969 NL Cy Young winner (giving him 3 Cy Young Awards in total); Was a 12-time All-Star; Won 311 career games; Came within 2 outs of a perfect game against the Cubs on 7/9/69 and Jimmy Qualls entered Mets infamy by breaking it up with a single; Holds a record by striking out 200+ batters in nine consecutive seasons; At the time of his retirement he was 3rd all-time with 3,640 strikeouts; His #41 has been retired by the Mets and a life-sized statue of him stands outside Citi Field

Fun Stuff:
Was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves organization but that contract was nullified by Commissioner William Eckert for breaking a rule involving the signing of college players

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every Topps flagship set of the 1970s; Appeared in all five Hostess sets


1970 Topps #2

Played 1962 – 1977
1970’s Teams: A’s, Cardinals, Red Sox, Mariners

1970’s Highlights:
While with the A’s in 1970 he lead the AL with a 2.56 ERA; Started Game 3 of the 1971 ALCS for the A’s (taking a loss to the Orioles in the decisive game) and pitched an inning for the Red Sox in the 1975 World Series

Career Highlights:
Was selected by the Pilots from the A’s in the 1968 AL expansion draft, and then traded back to Oakland after the 1969 season (so he did not move to Milwaukee with his former Pilots teammates);  Pitched in the opening game for both the Seattle Pilots and the Seattle Mariners (He was the M’s starting pitcher)

Fun Stuff:
The A’s acquired Diego three different times (in 1958, 1966 and 1969);  His son David played in the Majors from 1990 to 2004


1972 Kellogg’s #36

Played 1964-1975
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Rangers, Cardinals, Padres, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
Was an All-Star with the Red Sox in 1971; Tied a career high with 16 wins in 1971; Was the Winning pitcher in the Cardinals 25-inning 4-3 win over Mets, 9/11/74 (Longest game of the 1970’s, by innings played)

Career Highlights:
Was an All-Star twice in his career; Pitched a no-hitter against the Senators 6/10/66 with a 5th inning walk the only runner to reach base; Was Top 3 in ERA in 1965 and 1967, and 4th in strikeouts in 1965

Fun Stuff:
Was given a tryout by the NBA’s St. Louis Hawks; Started in the minors as an outfielder; Was the last AL pitcher to hit 2 home runs in a game; His full name is Wilfred Charles Siebert


1977 Topps #470

Played 1968-1988
1970’s Teams: Cardinals

1970’s Highlights:
Six of his eight All-Star seasons came in the 1970s but because he was a catcher at the same time as Johnny Bench, his only game as a starter was in 1978; Caught Bob Gibson’s no-hitter, 8/14/7; His .332 batting average in 1975 was second only to Bill Madlock, who hit .354; Lead the league in Intentional Bases On Balls in 1976 and 1977 and held the Cardinals team record until it was broken by Albert Pujols

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020; Was the GM of the Pirates from 1992 to 1993; His career totals in hits, doubles, RBI and runs are among the best among catchers and his lifetime .285 average is tied with Yogi Berra and better than Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk

Fun Stuff:
Was the first catcher to start an All-Star game for both leagues, getting the nod in 1978 with the Cardinals and in 1983 with the Brewers

Card Stuff:
Appeared in all five 1970’s Hostess sets


I do realize that there’s been just one of these posts over the past four months, but that was more due to my own spiritual weariness than anything else. I didn’t mean to take this much time away from it, it just kind of happened.

To be honest, I’ve spent so much time on this series that don’t want to abandon it when I’m roughly 3/4 of the way through the alphabet.

I’m going to make a sincere effort to publish these regularly, even if I just feature a couple of players any given week.

Thank you for reading!

Odds And Ends

As part of a quest to add to this blog more than once a week, I’m going to write off the cuff about a few oddball cards I’m very happy to add to my collection.

First up is a Laughlin card of the 1973 World Series; this is the back to a 1980 Fleer Team Logo sticker.  Even though the Mets lost this series in 7, I had to have it… and I love how the little Mets guy has a Charlie Brown look about him.

A new addition to my largly passive and somewhat modest Cal Ripken collection. I’ve lost track of how many Cals I have, but it’s easily 200… plus this pop up insert from the 1989 Donruss All Stars set. It’s interesting how big of a die-cut they made for the bill of Cal’s cap.

This is a Mazda RX-4 from the Topps “Autos of 1977” set which was issued in 1976, I presume it was issued at the beginning of the car model year. Every now and then I toy with the idea of chasing this set, but until I commit I’m happy to pick up cards here and there.

My current car is also my second consecutive Mazda, which is what kinda sorta inspired me to get this card when I ran across it. Here’s the back:

I’ve not seen this said anywhere in particular, but this set strikes me as being made from photos and text obtained from the various car companies of the day… Well, except for them misspelling Volkswagen as “Volkswagon”, I’m sure they didn’t get that from VW.

Here’s a fun one I got from Dime Box Nick a little while ago…  Justin Turner’s 2010 Upper Deck rookie card showing his brief stint with the Orioles (and showing him with glasses and no beard).  He was originally a 7th round pick of the Reds, was sent to the O’s as part of a 2008 trade for catcher Ramón Hernández, was claimed on waivers by the Mets in 2010, signed as a free agent with the Dodgers in 2014… and the rest is history.

For those who aren’t familiar with 2010 Upper Deck, they had lost their MLB license but still had the players union license, so they made a half-assed attempt at an unlicensed card, but it was done by selecting photos where you can’t completely see the logos rather than photoshopping logos and colors out as Panini does. The 1st series is all that was issued before lawyers told them to cease and desist, kind of like 1963 Fleer in that respect.

This next card has some special significance for me, even if it doesn’t seem terribly exciting to a neutral observer…

Believe it or not, this card – obtained in the summer of 2022 – is my very first Topps NOW card. I recognize that it’s not your typical Topps NOW card that commemorates something that happens in a game, but it’s still my first NOW of any kind. I decided a while ago that I didn’t want to go crazy chasing these cards, and I would only pay Topps prices for an event-based Topps NOW card if I was actually in attendance for that game… and as I’ve been to only 1 or 2 Major League games over the past 5 years, that hasn’t happened. Surprisingly enough, “Orioles get their butts kicked” did not result in a Topps now card in 2019.

Oh, Charlie Culberson is a player I semi-collect in case you were wondering. This card was mainly a case of “it was there and the price was right”.

I’ll wrap up with a Japanese card that’s from a concept that I love.  The set is 2019 BBM “Time Travel 1979” and it’s a 21st century set that’s made as if the set that was issued in 1979… retro design (sort of a mash-up of 1973, 1974 and 1975 Topps to my eyes) and players who were active in 1979.  I’d like to think the photos were from the neighborhood of 1979, but I can’t say.  This card of Toru Sugiura was on COMC and affordable so I went ahead and grabbed it just because.

Sugiura played 22 years for the Yakult Swallows and in 1979 he was an All-Star for the first time.

Here’s the back… The stats are through the 1979 season even though Sugiura played until 1993.  Nice touch.

If Topps or some other company that Fanatics absorbs were to do a Major League “Time Travel” set from any year from the 1970s or 1980s, I would completely lose it… Well, I should qualify that and say that it has to be reasonably well done for me to lose it.  Certain retro sets have made me realize that it’s not enough to have stars of the day in a set, it also has to have non-crappy images for me to throw my time and money at it.

And as I’m writing this and thinking of 1979, it suddenly occurred to me:  Is Toru Sugiura in the 1979 TCMA Japanese Baseball set that I own?

The answer is, yes…. yes, he is!  Bonus oddball!

And with that, I will bid you all a good night (which it is at the moment, even while I schedule this post to publish in the morning).

I Think Too Much About 2023 Heritage Border Colors: National League

In my previous post, I discussed what may or may not happen with the border colors used for the 15 American League teams in 2023 Topps Heritage.

A quick recap for those who didn’t read the previous post:  1974 Topps baseball had specific color combinations assigned to the different teams.  The colors sometimes matched the actual uniform colors, sometimes were similar to actual team colors, and in other cases were just bright colors which didn’t clash with the actual colors.  Today, some of these teams have different colors that don’t go as well with the 1974 border colors and some teams didn’t exist in 1974.

What will happen in the rest of this post is to use graphic examples of what the colors were in 1974, what colors were used in 2020 Archives, what colors Topps might use in 2023 Heritage, and – in those cases where it’s different – what colors *I* would use if Topps were foolish enough to put me in charge.

When appropriate, I’ll also point out the 1974 “Color Buddy” that each team had, if any.  A number of National League teams had a corresponding American League team which had the same border colors, and I call them Color Buddies.  BTW, the same often happened in the Football sets of the 1970s.


This is another case where the originals work just fine.  Leave ’em alone.

1974 Color Buddy: Tigers


The Brewers’ uniform colors now are more or less the same as they were… The blue is a bit darker now than it was in 1974, which is even more reason to stick with the original color combo.

2020 Archives changed the darker blue to a more medium blue, but there’s no real reason for that.

1974 Color Buddies:  The Brewers were near-buddies with the Royals, but the Brewers used the darker blue


Like with the Twins, the Cardinals’ 1974 Color Buddies, the original colors match the team’s colors for the most part.  Today they probably match even better given that the Cardinals use navy blue a lot more now than they did in the 1970s.

2020 Archives used medium blue, which is OK but there’s no need to do that.

1974 Color Buddies:  Twins


The Cubs road uniform is pretty much the same as it was in the 1970s, except back then they had pullover jerseys and Sansabelt pants.  I’m guessing that a fair number of Cubs fans don’t like the pink/magenta pennants, but as a somewhat neutral third party I will encourage Topps to stick with what it used in 1974.

1974 Color Buddy:  The Cubs were near-buddies with the Angels… both had magenta pennants but the Cubs had a blue frame while the Angels had a gray frame.


The Diamondbacks played their first season in 1998.  For 2020 Archives, Topps made them Color Buddies with the Cincinnati Reds, who didn’t have a Color Buddy in 1974.

This is fine but I, of course, have some other thoughts on the subject…

In 2008 when I made a bunch of customs using the 1974 design, the D-backs had “sand” as a trim color on their uniform, so I took the Padres’ design and changed the frame from yellow to red. That worked pretty well 14 years ago, but I’m not sure it’s the best combo for today’s team.

An alternative I recently came up with would be similar to the Astros/Red Sox combo, but would change the lettering from yellow to white. This is OK, don’t love it, don’t hate it.

An idea I had while writing the previous post, one that might work nicely… If the Chicago White Sox combo got updated to match the current team colors…

Then that would free up the White Sox 1974 colors for a more appropriate team, like the Diamondbacks.

If we’re going the “Update the team colors” route, I like this quite a bit for Arizona

1974 Color Buddy:  N/A


The Dodgers had a combo that was unique to 1974 Topps, but was very similar to the Expos and Rangers. The only difference is that the frame is magenta where the Expos and Rangers had a red frame.

1974 Color Buddy:  None, but the color combo was similar to the Expos and Rangers


The Nationals were the Expos in 1974, and if they kept the Expos colors, they’d look like this.

Topps and/or Major League Baseball has been kind of funny about the colors used for Nationals cards in Heritage and Archives. Generally speaking, they treat the Nats as being a team that did not exist before 2005 and therefore does not have colors to carry over.

There are exceptions to this…

In 2020 Archives the Nats were represented by the Padres’ 1974 colors, but that was for transparent reasons – They wanted to be able to have WASHINGTON “NAT’L LEA.” variations for the Nationals without having different colors on the variations. The colors don’t go with the team at all, but fine, I can go along with that.

If I were the product manager of 2023 Heritage, however, I’d maintain the Expos colors. Whether it’s “bleu, blanc et rouge” or “red, white and blue”, the colors from 1974 are largely the same as they are today (although the blue is darker now)

1974 Color Buddy:  Rangers


I don’t see how there’s anything to talk about here. The Giants’ black and orange goes back to their New York days. The color combo matches that. End of discussion.

1974 Color Buddy: Orioles


The Marlins started playing in 1993 and have had some branding changes in between.

In 2020 Archives they were made Color Buddies with the Dodgers, which is fine… but their uniform is predominantly black with blue and red accents.

I was thinking of changing the pennant text to black, and making the blue more teal-ish… but either version is OK.

1974 Color Buddy:  N/A


The 1974 Mets cards used team colors to a very nice effect.  Yes, it made orange a priority over blue, but many teams were blue while only the Mets wear blue and orange.

For 2020 Archives they changed the text to black, which I didn’t care for.  I don’t know, maybe it’s to reflect that black has become a sort of alternate color for the Mets over the years, or maybe for other reasons.

1974 Color Buddy:  None


As recently as 2019 we might be sitting here discussing if the Padres should have brown on their cards since the team’s primary color was navy blue.  Thankfully the Padres organization came to its senses and decided to own the one part of their history which they truly owned… and as a result, I’m not sure there’s anything to discuss here.

1974 Color Buddy:  None


Back in the 1970s the Phillies home uniforms were burgundy and white.  Now they’ve added blue into their uniforms, and the red is a more normal red.  An argument could be made for changing the yellow frame of 1974 to blue in 2023, but I don’t know that this would be a huge improvement, and it would make this grumpy old man mutter to himself when opening packs.

1974 Color Buddy: White Sox


The 1974 Pirates cards had yellow letters against a black pennant…

…but for 2020 Heritage they went with red letters, which I thought was unnecessary and fairly crappy looking.

1974 Color Buddy:  None


This is a case where the colors used then actually matches the team a little better now.  In 1974 the uniforms were red and white with no other colors present.  Now the Reds use some black trim and accents, which goes with the black lettering on the cards.

1974 Color Buddy: None


The Rockies didn’t exist until 1993 so for 2020 Archives Topps went the route of minimum thought and effort, using the color combination also used for the Angels… and it’s… well, it’s *fine*.

But this is one of those cases where I’d go with the team colors more, make a small change and replace the magenta with purple.  Purple wasn’t a color they used in 1974 Topps, but it certainly was a color in their palette… Purple was all over 1975 Topps

I mean, that just looks WAY better.  Why wouldn’t you do that?

1974 Color Buddy:  None

And with that I’ve gotten all of this off of my chest. Are there any changes you would make that I hadn’t? Let me know!

I Think Too Much About 2023 Heritage Border Colors: American League

My early August post and associated comments about what may or may not happen with 2023 Topps Heritage – based on different aspects of the original 1974 Topps – got me thinking about the colors used in 1974 and what colors might be used for 2023 Heritage.  Then I remembered that 2020 Topps Archives also used the 1974 design, so I also started thinking about the colors used in that set.

As was often the case in the 1970s, the 1974 set had specific color combinations assigned to the different teams.  The colors sometimes matched the actual uniform colors, sometimes were similar to actual team colors, and in other cases were just bright colors which didn’t clash with the actual colors.

Many of the color combos followed what I think of as the “Buddy System”;  A particular color combination would be used by two teams, one in the AL and one in the NL.  An example of this is the Phillies and White Sox:

Other teams like the A’s and Padres had their own unique color combinations which more-or-less matched the actual team colors.

Fast forward 49 years and some of these teams have relocated and/or changed names, some teams have different colors that don’t go as well with the 1974 border colors, and other teams just flat-out didn’t exist in 1974, so there’s plenty of room for making changes to what would appear in 2023 Heritage.

Six of the 12 teams in each league had a “color buddy”, plus two other pairs of teams had similar colors, but weren’t true buddies.  Also, the Buddy System got broken over time, at least in terms of having one in each league.  The Astros and Red Sox are 1974 color buddies, but now both are in the American League. I’ll point all of this out when I get to it.

All of this is to say that I spend too much time thinking about stuff like this.

So what I’m doing here is I’m going to use graphic examples of what the colors had been used in 1974 Topps, what colors had been used in 2020 Archives, what colors Topps might use in 2023 Heritage, and – in those cases where it’s different – what colors *I* would use if Topps were foolish enough to put me in charge.

Now I’ll say up front that I am a child of the 1970s, so I like colors to be bold, fun and… well… colorful.  Sure, it’d be nice to match the team colors when possible, but Major League Baseball has an overabundance of blue and red teams. If all the borders were blue and red, that would get kind of monotonous.

OK, let’s get rolling… Allow me to introduce one of the little pseudo-cards I created for this post:

Rather than whipping up full custom cards to make my point, I went with some “condensed customs” to get the point across.

Let me also set some ground rules so I can avoid getting overly descriptive in the rest of the post… When I speak of “pennants”, that refers to the pennants (lavender in the above example), which hold both the city name and the team’s nickname. Also, when I speak of the “frame”, I’m talking about the border around the photo which, above, is yellow.

And finally, this post is going through the American League teams as of 2023, not from 1974… So if you’re looking for the Brewers, you’re going to have to wait until the next post


These are unique – no buddy system involved – and already team colors, so there’s no need to change it.

The one concession to the passing years is that the team’s name in the 1970s was official the A’s, and now it’s Athletics… And MLB Properties apparently doesn’t take well to using abbreviated nicknames on licensed cards, so no “A’s”, “Cards” or “Yanks”. Otherwise, we’re good to go.

1974 Color Buddy:  None


We’ll start off with a somewhat controversial team in terms of the 1974 color combo. I’m sure there are a bunch of you who would ditch pink/magenta from Topps’ color palette in a heartbeat, given that it’s nobody’s team colors.  For me, pink pennants with a grey frame around the picture is close enough to team colors, and keeps the palette varied.

If the team updated the original design as it was, the only change would be to the city name, changing “CALIFORNIA” to “LOS ANGELES”.

However, I expect that Topps will continue to call the team just “Angels” without the “Los Angeles” and will duplicate what appeared in 2020 Archives:


I can hope that the city gets included, but I won’t hold my breath. Good thing I’m not an Angels fan.

1974 Color Buddy:  The Cubs are partial color buddies – they share the magenta pennants, but the Cubs pair it with a blue frame.


The Astros have changed uniform colors a couple of times over the last 50 years, but their current colors are essentially the same as their 1974 colors. While the 1974 Topps color combo isn’t navy and orange, I put these in the category of “It ain’t broke”.

1974 Color Buddy: Red Sox

The Blue Jays first season was in 1977, so they obviously weren’t represented in 1974 Topps.  For 2020 Archives, they “borrowed” the 1974 color combo used by the Rangers and the Expos.

Since the Nationals used a different color combo in 2020 Archives, the Jays essentially took over as the Rangers’ color buddies.

In the interest of keeping things a bit different, I’d consider changing the lettering to black, but I’m fine with it either way.

1974 Color Buddy: N/A

Yellow has never been a color for this franchise, but I just love the heck out of the red/yellow/grey combination used in 1974.  The grey frame works as a nice accent and keeps things grounded, color-wise.

For 2020 Archives, they changed the letters to white, and that just made things kinda dull.

I beg of Topps, please go back to the yellow lettering.

1974 Color Buddy: None, but they should’ve had one… that’s how much I like this color combo

The originals were perfect.

But in 2020 Archives, they changed the team name lettering from orange to white.

It doesn’t look anywhere near as good, but there may be a reason that they did this.  Card production is a completely different beast than it was in the 1970s and for whatever reason the bright colors of 50 years ago don’t ‘pop’ like they used to. When the bright letters are put against a black pennant, it often seemed to make the letters seem less bright… so if the white letters are there because they look better with today’s printing technology, I suppose I can see that. I really prefer the originals, though.

1974 Color Buddy: Giants

The Mariners are another team that didn’t exist in 1974.  In 2020 Archives they became Color Buddies for the Royals (who didn’t have a Color Buddy in 1974)

That’s fine, but I like the idea of getting a little green into the design, just to introduce more colors into the set.

One possibility could be as simple as changing the frame from yellow to green (and I played with changing the lettering to yellow)

Back in 2008 I made my first attempt at custom cards by creating some current-at-the-time players in the 1974 design, and for the Mariners I took the A’s green pennants and changed the frame to blue.

I really like this, but I’m obviously not impartial on this case.

1974 Color Buddy: N/A

The Rangers color combo remains perfect for the team today, no need to modify it.

1974 Color Buddy: Expos (Nationals)

Once again, the Rays didn’t exist in 1974, so it’s time to figure out a new color combo.

For 2020 Archives, they went with something like this…

In terms of 2020 Archives, the Rays were color buddies with the Mets (who, for whatever reason, had black letters in 2020 rather than the white letters from 1974).  At any rate, it doesn’t match the Rays team colors well.  I’d go with the dark blue pennants, yellow letters and yellow frame

1974 Color Buddy: N/A

Black, red and yellow is a better match here than it was for the Astros, but I still like it as a combo for the Red Sox.  No real need to change this.

1974 Color Buddy:  Astros

Not much to say about these either.  The team colors are blue with a touch of yellow.  End of story.

1974 Color Buddy: None, but are similar to the Brewers, who had the same yellow frame with darker blue pennants

Back in the 1970s this was kinda sorta close to Tigers colors because the road uniforms included a reddish orange to go with the navy blue.  These days an argument can be made for changing them.

Thing is, what would you change them to?  The home unis are navy and white.  The road unis are navy and gray.  There needs to be some color in here, to my thinking, so I’m back to sticking with what was used in 1974… but I’m open to suggestions.

1974 Color Buddy: Braves

The Twins color combo is similar to the actual uniforms, with a dark blue substituting for the navy blue.

2020 Archives changed the dark blue to a medium blue. I would imagine that most people didn’t notice, but I did.  I’d keep the dark blue.

1974 Color Buddy: Cardinals

From 1971 to 1975, the White Sox home uniforms were similar in design to what they wear today, only the uniforms were red and white instead of black and white.  The 1974 road uniforms maintained the red caps but went with powder blue with red accents.

The Chisox and Phillies had similar uniforms at the time, so that made them ideal “color buddies” in 1974.

Thing is, the White Sox have different team colors now.  An argument can be made that their current uniforms are neutral and anything will go with them, and I’d be fine with that.

If you insist on updating the colors to better match the team today, I would be cool with something like this

This could also free up the 1974 combination for one of the many current teams which use red…  I have an idea I’ll touch on when we get to the National League teams

1974 Color Buddy: Phillies

Again, like with the White Sox, the Yankees’ navy and white team colors aren’t colorful enough on their own to use by themselves, but the team could always go with other colors.  I would call this a case of “the original colors are good enough”.

1974 Color Buddy: None

So that wraps up the American League. I’ll be covering the National League in my next post

Two Cards From 1984 Cramer Pacific Coast League

I’ve been picking up a few cards here and there from the Cramer minor league sets of the 1980s.  Mike Cramer ran Pacific Trading Cards, which would later make the “Legends” sets and then got a Major League license for bi-lingual (English/Spanish) baseball cards… but before all that, he created minor league sets from 1976 to 1986.  Most, if not all, of the sets were for the Pacific Coast League or the Northwest League.

I recently picked up two 1984 Cramer PCL cards from COMC.

Darren Daulton is the first player who I saw in the minors before he became a Major League star.  I saw him play for the 1983 Double-A Reading Phillies, was excited when he showed up in 1985 Fleer Update and have been collecting him on-and-off ever since.

The design is pretty basic but it’s appealing.

There’s not a whole lot of overlap between the teams/players I collect and these Cramer sets, but I enjoy picking up cards when I can.

This next card has me questioning myself.  For years I’ve semi-collected Rick Schu because I also saw him in the minors, BUT…

I looked him up on Baseball Reference to refresh my memory on whether he and Daulton were teammates with the 1983 Reading Phillies… only to find out that Schu never played for Reading, he went straight from Single-A to Triple-A in 1983.

“I must’ve seen him with the Red Barons”, I told myself, as I’d been to a number of Scranton / Wilkes-Barre Red Barons games when they were the Phils’ Triple-A team.

Then I realized that the Barons didn’t exist until 1989 when the Phillies’ International League team moved from southwestern Maine to northeastern Pennsylvania, and by that time the Phillies had traded Schu to the Orioles.

“OK,” I concluded, “It must’ve been one of those things where he was in a Reading card set even though he never played for them, and I just remembered it wrong”.

TCDB shot down this idea, though.  The above card is Rick Schu’s first baseball card at any level.


So now I’m left with two options…

1) MAYBE I saw him in this one exhibition game…  I think it was in 1984 that I went to a pre-season exhibition game where the Philadelphia Phillies played the Reading Phillies in Reading Municipal Stadium (now FirstEnergy Ballpark).  It was one of those games that takes place as teams are heading north after Spring Training, and maybe Schu played for Reading but then was reassigned to another team before the season started.

It’s either that, or…

2)  I’ve been confused about this for decades

I did keep score on that exhibition game, but the scorecard is in one of many boxes of baseball publications and I really don’t want to get into pulling out boxes right now.  At any rate, I’m losing confidence in my own recollection.  Maybe I should be lying to myself about something more interesting than having seen Rick Schu play in the Eastern League.

Whether Schu played in it or not, one thing that was memorable about this exhibition game was that Reading was leading Philadelphia going into the top of the 9th.  Wouldn’t it be cool if the Double-A R-Phils beat their parent club?

Then, before the top of the 9th, the PA announcer informed us that Hank King was coming in to pitch for Reading.  I searched my program and then searched it again.  Hank King wasn’t listed as a Reading Phillie… or a Philadelphia Phillie.  Who was this guy?  What the heck was going on here?

The Philadelphia Phillies proceeded to hit the ball as if they were taking batting practice, and they jumped out to a lead that Reading couldn’t make up.

Years later I found out that the fix had been in.  Hank King had been a scout and a batting practice pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he was just grooving pitches over the plate so that the Major League Phils could avoid an embarrassing loss.  So disappointing.

Before I end the post, I want to point out the fun Luis Tiant artwork on the back of the Rick Schu card:


Unintentionally Following Topps’ Footprints

Up front this might seem like a post about custom cards, but it’s not *entirely* so if you’re not interested in custom cards you might want to stick around… it’s a short post anyway.

So I was spitballing some ideas to come up with a new-ish design for a custom card project. Sometimes the best way for me to get ideas is to take an existing design and mess around with it.

So 1975-76 Topps Basketball is a design I’ve liked for a long time, even though I don’t collect basketball. Simple, colorful, appealing… and not specifically basketball-y.

For a number of reasons I wanted to do something like this design, but maybe with the colored slashes at the bottom right. So for the first bit of messing around I took the design and vertically flipped it.

The colored slashes were at a steeper angle than what I was looking for, because I was thinking of putting text within the slashes. As a result, I decided to put the slashes at a 45 degree angle.

I started whipping up a “proof of concept” and I didn’t get far into it…

…Before I looked at what I had and said to myself “Congratulations… You’ve just invented 1988 Topps baseball”.

But it did make me wonder… Had someone at Topps done the very same thing I did?

If so, at least they got paid for it.

One other thing that amused me about the flipped basketball design;  when vertically flipped like that, “COLONELS” now reads kinda like “coroners”.  That’s some ‘Paul is dead’ stuff going on there, right?

It Hides A Nasty Stain That’s Lying There

“I keep your picture up on the wall
It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there
So don’t you ask me to give it back
I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me
I’m not in love, no, no…”
— 10cc, “I’m Not In Love”

It started with a Kojak card on Twitter.

I’m not a fan of that 1970s detective show, although I certainly watched it enough to understand “Who loves ya, baby!” and other references to the show.

Side note, it’s funny to think about how exotic a shaved head was back in the day.  Telly Savalas, Yul Brynner and that was pretty much it.

Anyway, I saw a Kojak card on Twitter and asked the empty room “There were Kojak cards?!?”  I did some quick research and found that the card was actually from 1975 Monty Gum, a British set… but I also stumbled on other Kojak cards from a set that COMC called “1978 Swedish Samlarsaker”.

Curious, I took a look at cards from that set on COMC  and found out that it has an odd checklist.  It’s mainly pop stars of the day, including a lot of ABBA – not surprising that Swedish superstars would be in a Swedish set.  There are also a bunch of cards of Swedish tennis star Bjorn Borg.  But the set also has scattered cards of Kojak, Columbo and other non-music characters.  I get the impression that the set checklist was partially determined by which celebrities they could get publicity photos of.

ANYWAY I also found cards of British art-pop band 10cc which nearly made me fall out of my chair.  10cc’s biggest US hits were “I’m Not In Love” (1975) and “The Things We Do For Love” (1978) but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that I became a fan.  A college classmate played their albums for several of us, and they were a lot more humorous and musically adventurous than I’d realized they would be.

So let’s get to the two cards… both are blank-backed and would be considered “minis” by current day standards.

Card #13 is a portrait of the band…. Top row is Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman;  below is Lol Creme.

Card #528 shows a performance.  Since all four were essentially frontmen at one point or another, there wasn’t any attempt to put Kevin Godley and his drum kit in the back.

If these cards are indeed from 1978, then the photos were out of date because Godley and Creme left the band in 1976 and Stewart and Gouldman carried on the 10cc name.  “I’m Not In Love”, which hit #2 in the US in 1975, features the original lineup but “The Things We Do For Love”, which hit #5 in 1976, is just Stewart and Gouldman.

A couple of fun facts:

  • Godley and Creme recorded albums as a duo and got fame in the 1980s as the directors of famous videos like George Harrison’s “When We Was Fab”, the Police’s “Every Breath You Take”, Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” as well as their own video for Cry (included below).
  • Graham Gouldman wrote “Bus Stop” for the Hollies and “For Your Love” and “Heart Full Of Soul” for the Yardbirds.

I’ll wrap up with videos of the US hits, some personal favorites (“Worst Band In The World”, “Rubber Bullets”, “I’m Mandy, Fly Me”) and the “Cry” video that put Godley & Creme on the video production map.

Vintage Vintage Bo Bintage Banana Fana Fo Fintage…

No real theme to this post, just scattered thoughts about vintage stuff I got at some point this year. Let’s roll.

I got this 1953 Bowman card of Red Sox outfielder Walter “Hoot” Evers for slightly unusual reasons… as if anyone needs a reason to pick up 1953 Bowman cards.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has the famous Jefferson Burdick Collection, and has digitized many (all?) of the items. You can see them here.  I downloaded a bunch of images to my work laptop and set them up as a wallpaper slideshow.  One of the few commons in my slide show was this Evers, I’ve grown fond of it and when I ran across a relatively cheap copy I leapt at the opportunity.

Moving on…

When I was a kid, Bill White was one of the Yankees TV broadcasters along with Phil Rizzuto and Frank Messer.  Before that, though, he  was a 7-time Gold Glove and an All-Star in 5 seasons.  After his time in the Yankees TV booth, he was the president of the National League for five years.  I don’t collect Bill White, not “officially”, but when I run across his cards at a show they tend to end up in my stack.

Speaking of the Yankees in the 1970s, Dick Howser was a Yankees coach and Manager for much of that decade, so I tend to think of him with the Yankees even though he played more with the A’s and Indians and also managed the Royals for 6 years.

Besides, even though he managed the Yankees to a 103-win season, they got swept in the ALCS so… y’know… a failure in the eyes of a lot of Yankee fans. But I kinda liked Dick Howser

Cards of guys like Billy Grabarkewitz make me think of collecting him just because sometimes they had to shoehorn “GRABARKEWITZ” into a baseball card design. I get lots of silly “I should collect that!” thoughts.

Cards like this 1964 Bob Lillis make me think “I should collect the Colt .45’s from 1962 to 1964!!!” because the uniforms are cool and I just get off on team identities which no longer exist… but then the reality of it is that a lot of Colt .45 cards are just capless portraits and I have no reason to collect those cards because I have no connection to the team or most of the players, I just like the uniforms… so that collecting “goal” just dies on the vine… but may get revived in some other form down the road.

I’ve also had thoughts like this about both Senators teams, the Kansas City Athletics and the St. Louis Browns, but they similarly go nowhere fast.

On the other hand, I am officially working on a 1964 Topps Orioles team set… but like every other goal I have, it’s currently on hold while stuff gets organized, while prices stay high and while card shows remain infrequent for me.

Willie Kirkland’s 1964 card uses the same photo as his 1963 card, and he was traded to the Orioles in December 1963.  Kirkland’s one of those poor unfortunate guys who often doesn’t get shown in his correct cap because of his moving around.  He appeared on nine Topps cards, had the “wrong” cap on this card, was airbrushed once (Giants move to San Francisco) and was capless three times, leaving four times where he was shown wearing the correct cap for his listed team.