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.

A Few Semi-Recently Acquired Baseball Cards

This blog post is going to be a series of ‘mini-posts’ without any kind of theme or attempt to tie the cards together in any way other than “I acquired these cards these within the past year or two”.

We’ll start with this “1967 National League Home Run Leaders” card from 1968 Topps.  Wanna guess why I got this?

It’s not because of Hank Aaron, although this did become my oldest standard-sized card to feature Hammerin’ Hank (only my 1964 Topps Giants card is older).

It’s not because I’m chasing HOFers or League Leader cards

It’s not even because I got bonked on the head and decided to collect cards which could easily be unlicensed (except for the slightest glimpse of the logo on Ron Santo’s cap).

Nope, this card is here because I decided I need to get serious about my Jim Wynn collection.  Wynn was, you see, the first Major Leaguer I ever met… even though this painfully shy 11-year-old barely said two words to him.

And to be honest, I say that I’m getting serious about collecting Jim Wynn, as well as a few other vintage player collections I’ve started… but to be honest I don’t even know what else of Wynn’s I need at this stage. It’s not a problem right now because I have no shows or card shops to go to and I’m doing almost no card shopping online. Maybe later in the year I’ll get back to that, right now it’s all about organizing.


My collection includes 172 cards from the 1969 Topps Baseball set, which is the most of any vintage set I’m not actively chasing. A decent-sized chunk of that is my complete Seattle Pilots set, my nearly-complete Mets team set (curse you, Nolan Ryan!), three-quarters of an Orioles team set and assorted other cards that I’ve acquired over the years.

One thing I’ve noticed that’s odd about my 1969 accumulation is that almost every team is represented… but the only Detroit Tiger is this one:

“That’s really odd,” I thought, “I don’t have a single Tigers base card?” So I went and looked and yep… There are no Tigers cards which fall into any of various wantlists in any way at all, no cool photos, no interesting names, no former or future Mets – well, that’s not entirely true, there is Mickey Lolich who pitched one season for the Mets and who I will eternally resent because the Mets traded Rusty Staub for his washed-up ass.

As it is, this checklist hasn’t been in my possession all that long… I got it when I bought the small collection belonging to my friend’s brother-in-law.

So anyway, I started out thinking “I should go out and find a 1969 Tiger just to have one”, but I’m so underwhelmed by the options that I’m now taking an approach of “Eh, something will come my way sooner or later”. But I’m in no rush.


I generally don’t set proper goals for my collection, and its even more rare that I actually publish any… but I’m declaring a sort of anti-goal right now in that I’ve decided that I’m going to, for the most part, swear off online exclusive cards like this 2020-21 Topps 582 Montgomery Club card of the Mets’ Dominic Smith.

Well… OK, I might continue to collect a few that fall into the category of “Topps designs which were never used” just because that concept is pretty interesting… but I’m frankly good owning just the one card.

As for the design, it’s pretty undeniably Topps. I would guess it was an early version of what would become 1979 Topps, but that’s just a guess.


OK, one last vintage card… One modest goal I’ve added going forward is to pick up cards of those New York Mets who appeared on a 1960s card with another team during a season where he played for the Mets.  A good example is this Harry Chiti card from 1962 Topps.  Harry was purchased from the Indians early in the 1962 season and appeared in 15 games for the Mets.

He was sent back to the Indians in June and would spend the rest of his career in AAA.  I’m tempted to put this card in my Mets binder as the plain black hat would fit right in with the cards of the expansion Mets, who were largely depicted without caps.

Chiti’s card lists him with Cleveland, but all of his time in the Cleveland organization was spent with AAA Jacksonville.  The back of his card makes note of his November 1961 trade from Baltimore to Cleveland, but the Orioles kept him in AAA as well. I can’t even make a decent guess as to what uniform he’s wearing on this 1962 card. Probably the Tigers, as he appeared in 1961 Topps with Detroit, but it could also be the Kansas City Athletics.

Three Weeks Of Customs: “Where The Hell Is Memphis?”

I knew how long it had been since I did one of these posts, but I also kinda didn’t know.  Willfully, on some level.  The “blahs” of the holiday season have largely seeped into my January and it’s all too easy to say “Yeah, I’m not completely up to doing that”.

I thought about breaking this up into two posts, but think of it instead as a jumbo pack, and you can linger or skip as you see fit.

I knew it had been a while since my last custom post because the first custom to share is from a series I’ve wrapped up a while ago on Twitter (#DailyTSRcustom).  This is another of my mashups of my custom baseball designs and 1975 Topps, this time featuring 2019 MVP’s Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger.

These two customs were made this year with photos from 2019 and the original template.

In an effort to re-familiarize myself with the NHL, I’m playing fantasy hockey.  As with most things related to my return to following the NHL, it’s not going as I would like – I’m in 7th place out of 12 – but I wanted to feature my best player at this point of the season, the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider.

In the fantasy league draft he was my 14th pick (165th overall), so I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for that accidental but astute scouting job.

I’m also forging ahead with my Seattle Kraken cards.  I gotta tell you, I didn’t expect them to make it to the Stanley Cup finals like the Vegas Golden Knights had in their first season, but I also didn’t expect to suffer through a 9-game losing streak and an earlier 6-game streak.

That being said, here’s another one of my “super deluxe” Kraken customs… And they’re super deluxe because I make the backs as well as the front.  Marcus Johansson is a former 1st round draft pick who signed a one-year contract after playing last season for Minnesota.

The final mashup of my customs and 1975 Topps features 2020 MVPs José Abreu and Freddie Freeman. Because of the truncated 2020 season this design was meant to be a quickie riff on 2009 Upper Deck and 1961 Topps, but it ended up being a fun design anyway.


Rachel Balkovec was recently named the manager of the Tampa Tarpons, the Yankees Low-A farm team. This will make her the first woman to manage an affiliated minor league team, so I faked up a Tarpons “Hot Stove” custom to commemorate the event.

Even though I took the Tarpons logo from a cap being sold online, it still looks superimposed, I guess that’s something I’ll have to work on in the future.

The mid-engine Maserati MC20 signals a return to racing for the historic Italian brand and is the first mid-engine car Maserati has developed in-house since the 1970s.

Holy crap, the Winter Olympics start in just over a week!  For me that means a bit of international rules hockey (love the bigger rink) and a lot of curling.  I’ve been planning to make curling customs for months, and here’s the first;  it features John Shuster, whose men’s team will be defending their 2018 Gold Medal… something that still seems a bit odd to say about an American curling team.

Rachel Homan and John Morris were selected to represent Canada in Olympic Mixed Doubles.  I don’t spend a lot of time following mixed doubles mainly because I enjoy watching both men’s and women’s curling and I have to draw the line somewhere.

And for anyone wondering whether I meant to make my design look like 1978-79 Topps/O-Pee-Chee Hockey, the answer is yes, emphatically YES!  I quite blatantly ripped off the design because I thought it would work well.  The little inset that I use to designate the country was originally used in the Topps set to designate the All-Stars.  That’s a big part of why I’m using stars to fill in space on either side of the country name, although if anyone were to call me out on it, I’d say that they’re there because my set is called “Stars Of Curling”.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t intended to be an Olympics set, more of a “This Year In Curling” set.  I’m trying to decide if I want to have “Highlights” cards to match the original hockey set, but who am I trying to kid, I’ll most likely break down and do it before the end of the Olympics.

The Texas Rangers signed SS Marcus Semien to a 7-year, $175M contract.  I cheated a little on this one and used a closely-cropped press conference photo with a little faked-up jersey to cover some of his street clothes.

I’m still a bit sad that Betty White didn’t make it to her 100th birthday, but I’m glad she was with us as long as she was.  This design is from my “Shlabotnik’s Snack Cakes” series.

The Bruins’ Brad Marchand was named the NHL 1st Star for the week of Jan. 10-16. He recorded multiple points in each of his 4 games – including a hat trick against the Habs – and tallied 6 goals and 4 assists for the week.

Just a little side note… I hadn’t realized that the Bruins changed their logo from what I was familiar with. It’s not a major change, but it’s not a change I see as being for the better.

Vicky Persinger will be going to her first Olympics as she and teammate Chris Plys represent the USA in mixed doubles curling (and yes, a Chris Plys custom will come before too long)

For no particular reason, a custom of Kate McKinnon…

The Mets surprised this Mets fan by signing Max Scherzer to a 3-year $130M deal… it’s going to be like Tom Glavine was where I have to keep reminding myself that I need to root *for* him now

Here’s another Kraken… Riley Sheahan scored the first pre-season goal in Kraken history, but that doesn’t get mentioned on the card because they went to press before any of that happened (*wink*)


For anyone who’s interested, I’ve created customs for most of the current roster, with the exception of a handful of players who have appeared in fewer than half of the 40 games the Kraken have played so far. I’m not stopping yet, but at some point I might get to a point of diminishing returns.


The other day I was listening to the out-of-print Joe Jackson album which was meant as a soundtrack to the 1984 movie “Mike’s Murder”.  I saw the movie years ago, you’re not missing anything – plus most of the Joe Jackson music was minimized in the actual film. While the album itself is out of print, most of the songs are available as bonus tracks or on compilations. Anyway, this is more background than any actual point I’m making… The main thing is that I heard this song and thought I should feature it in my next customs post (except I’m using the superior live version of “Memphis” from an album which came out later in the 1980s)

The 1970’s, A To Z: Gaylord Perry to Rico Petrocelli

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.


GAYLORD PERRY

1970 Kellogg’s #20

Played 1962 – 1983
1970’s Teams: Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres

1970’s Highlights:
Won Cy Young Awards in each league, the first to do so – in 1972 with Cleveland when he went 24-16 with a 1.92 ERA and 29 complete games, and in 1978 with San Diego when he went 21-6 with a 2.73 ERA; Both Cy Young Awards came in his first season with a new team; Had four 20 win seasons, three of which lead the league; was a four-time All-Star; Was the starting AL pitcher in the 1974 All-Star Game

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991; Won 314 career games and struck out 3,534 batters; Holds the San Francisco single-season mark with 328.2 IP; Was the third pitcher in history (after Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson) to reach the 3,000 strikeout mark… currently sits at 8th overall

Fun Stuff:
His brother is Jim Perry, who also won a Cy Young and who is featured next

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; Appeared in every Hostess set of the 1970s; Had a solo rookie card in 1962 but then was featured on a multi-player “Rookie Stars” card in 1963; His 1975 Hostess card uses the same photo as his 1974 Topps card


JIM PERRY

1970 Kellogg’s #64

Played 1959 – 1975
1970’s Teams: Twins, Tigers, Indians, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
Won the 1970 Cy Young Award after leading the league with 24 wins plus striking out 168 with an ERA of 3.04… He and Gaylord are the only brothers to have both won the Cy Young; In 1974 and 1975 he and Gaylord were teammates with the Indians

Career Highlights:
Won 20 games in 1969; lead the league with 18 wins and 4 shutouts in 1960; Finished 2nd in 1959 AL Rookie of the Year voting and was named to that year’s Topps All-Star Rookie team


GARY PETERS

1971 Topps #225

Played 1959 – 1972
1970’s Teams: Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
Won 16 games in 1970 and 14 games in 1971; Was the Red Sox opening day starter in 1970; Despite giving up only 2 ER, was the losing pitcher in White Sox 22-13 win over the Red Sox, 5/31/70

Career Highlights:
Was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1963; Was an All-Star in 1964 and 1967; Lead the AL in ERA in 1963 and 1966; Lead the league in wins in 1964

Fun Stuff:
A good hitter for a pitcher, Peters homered in 9 straight seasons and had a .222 career average

Card Stuff:
The photos for Peters and teammate J.C. Martin were switched on their 1960 Topps cards

Nobody cares, but…
The last card I obtained when I completed my 1968 Topps Game insert set was Gary Peters


FRITZ PETERSON

1976 Cleveland Indians Team-Issued postcard

Played 1966 – 1976
1970’s Teams: Yankees, Indians, Rangers

1970’s Highlights:
Won 20 games in 1970, was an All-Star and lead the league with a WHIP of 1.102 (not that anybody tracked that in 1970); Was the starting pitcher for the last game at original Yankee Stadium, 9/30/73

Career Highlights:
Has the best career ERA of any lefty in the original Yankee Stadium and has the lowest WHIP of any post-WWII Yankees starting pitcher; Is among the Yankees leaders for longest career without a postseason appearance

Fun Stuff:
During the 1972/73 season he did color commentary for the New York Raiders of the World Hockey Association (He had played semi-pro hockey before dedicating himself to baseball)


RICO PETROCELLI

1975 Hostess #132

Played 1963 – 1976
1970’s Teams: Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
Batted .308 with 3 runs and 4 RBI in the 1975 World Series; Had 29 HR and a career-high 103 RBI in 1970; Was the Red Sox starting shortstop, then 3rd baseman for most of his career

Career Highlights:
Was the AL’s starting All-Star shortstop in 1967 and 1969; In 1969 he set an AL record for a shortstop by hitting 40 HRs (a record broken by Alex Rodriguez in 1998); Was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997; Was named to the 1965 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

A Sportscaster Card Is The Latest Addition To My Curling Collection

The Winter Olympics are just a few weeks away so this seems like as good a time as any to show off the 13th item in my Curling collection;   it’s this card from the “Sportscasters Cards” set of the late 1970s.

Sportscasters cards were sold as an open-ended subscription and covered a wide variety of sports. You could also get a box to hold the cards in… They seemed to be very similar in concept to recipe card subscriptions which were also fairly popular at the time (and also had available boxes to keep the cards in).

Here’s the front of the oversized card:

I’m not sure what all of the little pictograms on the top mean. From looking at other cards online I think the little black ones on the right mean that the sport can be played outdoor or indoor (a sun and some other weird symbol) and that it’s a team sport (two little people). Since the white and red pictogram on the left features an eye within a diamond – and from comparing this card to other similar cards online – I’m going to guess it means this is an overview of the sport being featured.

The card doesn’t feature anybody in particular, but it is interesting that if you look closely you can see that several of the people have the old-school corn brooms:

But there’s this one guy who seems to have something more akin to what is in use today.

My interest in Curling goes back only to the 2010 Winter Games, so corn brooms seem alien to me.

Here’s the back of the card:

…And here is a comparison with a standard-sized card to give you an idea of how big these are:

Since I haven’t shared my modest collection in a while, here are the other 12 cards I already had (in chronological order):

1932-33 Sanella Margarine “Handbuch des Sports”
FYI, this is oversized and is printed on paper rather than card stock

2014 Topps Olympic and Paralympic – Erika Brown

2014 Topps Olympic and Paralympic – Pete Fenson

2014 Topps Olympic and Paralympic – Jessica Schultz

2014 Topps Olympic and Paralympic “Games of the Olympics” – Pete Fenson

2014 Topps Olympic and Paralympic “Games of the Olympics” – Erika Brown

2014 Topps Olympic and Paralympic “Venues” – Ice Cube Curling Center

2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions – Kevin Martin

2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions – Rachel Homan

2014 Upper Deck 25th Anniversary – Rachel Homan

2015 Leaf Sport Kings – Kevin Martin

2018 Topps Olympic & Paralympic “Did You Know” – Team Shuster

Team Review: 1964 Topps New York Mets

My semi-recent COMC shipment contained the last couple of cards needed to complete my 1964 Topps Mets team set… the last card acquired was a high-numbered Ed Kranepool that I largely paid for by selling a 2018 Topps Heritage Ichiro variation.

In recognition of completing my oldest team set (an honor previously held by my 1965 Topps Mets team set), I decided to do one of my “Team Reviews” of the 1964 Mets.

The 1964 Mets finished in last (10th) place with a record of 53-109-1… But, they also opened the sparkling new Shea Stadium and finished 2nd in the league in attendance, pulling in 1.7 million fans.  Only the Dodgers 2.2 million was higher in the National League.

The Mets were managed by Casey Stengel, who would turn 74 years old during the 1964 season.  This would also be his last full season as the Mets manager, as he would retire after breaking his hip during the 1965 season.

Normally when I do one of these Team Review posts I list the best players and best rookie cards, but keep in mind that with the 1964 Mets this is all relative.  However, I will start with a category that people can appreciate:

HOFers in the set (other than Casey Stengel)
Duke Snider was with the Mets in 1963 and was the team’s All-Star representative… however, his contract was sold to the Giants on opening day of the 1964 season.

Best Position Player
In 1964 Ron Hunt became the first Met to start an All-Star Game, plus he lead the team with a .303 average so I feel like I have to go with him

Second-best Position Player
Joe Christopher lead the team with 163 hits, 78 runs and 76 RBI, plus batted an even .300, so I feel like I should give him some credit as well

Best Pitcher
Wow… The 1964 Mets had four pitchers who had 16 or more losses, and Tracy Stallard lost 20. Galen Cisco lost 19 against 6 wins, but he had the best WHIP (1.231) and his 3.62 ERA was the best of any Mets starter so I’ll go with him.

Best Rookie card
This is a tough one, because none of the rookie cards in this team set were particularly noteworthy… Guys like Larry Elliot, Steve Dillon, Ron Locke, Jerry Hinsley and Bill Wakefield are known only to some Mets fans. John Stephenson had the most notable career, paying in 451 games over 10 seasons.

Notable rookie card for other reasons
Grover Powell pitched in 20 games in 1963 but would suffer an injury playing winter ball after that season and would not pitch in the Majors again.  The reason he’s here is because he’s one of the handful of players to wear #41 for the Mets before Tom Seaver (the others being Clem Labine, Dennis Musgraves, Jim Bethke and Gordie Richardson)

Best Subset card

The Last Card I Got
Ed Kranepool is a favorite among long-time Mets fans, and why wouldn’t he be?  He’s a New York native, was drafted out of James Monroe H.S. in the Bronx and appeared in each of the Mets’ first 18 seasons, starting with a September callup in 1962 when Kranepool was just 17.  He held many Mets career records until David Wright came along, and there was a time when I felt the Mets should’ve retired his #7.

Weirdness In the 7th Series
Interesting thing about the Mets in the 7th (high-numbered) series is that there’s a lot of them:  9 Mets out of 81 cards. If that kind of ratio existed through the entire set, there would be 65 Mets in 1964 Topps instead of the 33 that there are.

There’s also a string of Mets that are numbered 10 apart:

536 Larry Elliot / John Stephenson

546 Joe Christopher

556 Steve Dillon / Ron Locke

566 Ed Kranepool

576 Jerry Hinsley / Bill Wakefield

The Original Frank Thomas
This Frank Thomas had been a 3-time All-Star in the 1950s but by 1964 he was a utility man who split the season between the Mets and the Phillies

Other 1964 Mets Who Were (Relatively) Good Enough To Be Included In 1964 Topps Coins, Tattoos, Stand-ups or 1964 Bazooka

Jesse Gonder was the Mets starting catcher and had been named to the 1963 Topps All-Star Rookie team.  His defensive struggles behind the plate lead to him being traded to Milwaukee and then fading from the Majors

Duke Carmel played 104 games in 1963, split between the Cardinals and Mets, and 20 additional games scattered over three seasons.  He spent all of 1964 with AAA Buffalo and the Mets would go from two Dukes to no Dukes.

Carl Willey was a former Braves prospect who had a good year for the Mets in 1963 — 9-14, 3.10 ERA, team-leading 1.191 WHIP — before injuries derailed his career.

Al Jackson was a good pitcher with some awful Mets teams, and had identical 8-20 records in 1962 and 1965.  His .433 winning % in 1963 was the best a Mets starting pitcher would have from 1962 to 1965.  Jackson would later be traded to the Cardinals as part of a 3-player trade for former MVP 3rd baseman Ken Boyer

George Altman was one of two players acquired when the Mets traded Roger Craig to the Cardinals.  He patrolled left field for one season before being traded to the Cubs.

Jim Hickman was a regular with the Mets in their first five seasons and would be an All-Star and the Comeback Player of the Year with the 1970 Cubs

The card from my recent COMC shipment that I want to feature because I’ve already scanned it
Larry Bearnarth was a local kid – he went to high school on Staten Island and then went to St. John’s University – who was a reliever in four seasons with the Mets.  In 1964 his three saves was second on the team to Willard Hunter’s five.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Freddie Patek to Tony Perez

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.


FREDDIE PATEK

1973 Topps #334

Played 1968 – 1981
1970’s Teams: Pirates, Royals

1970’s Highlights:
Was the AL’s starting shortstop in the 1978 All-Star Game and was also an All-Star in two other seasons; Lead the AL with 53 stolen bases in 1977 and his 49 steals in 1971 was second-best in the AL; Lead the league with 11 triples in 1971, which was a Royals team record for several years; Hit for the cycle against the Twins, 7/9/71

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame in 1992

Fun Stuff:
I love this quote from the 5’5″ Patek: “I’d rather be the smallest player in the majors than the tallest player in the minors”; Of his 5 home runs in 1980, three came in the same game against the Red Sox

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s


MARTY PATTIN

1970 Topps #31

Played 1968 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Brewers, Red Sox, Royals

1970’s Highlights:
Was an All-Star in 1971 when he finished with a 14-14 record and a 3.13 ERA… but keep in mind that his Brewers lost 92 games that year; Lost a no-hitter when Reggie Jackson singled with 1 out in the 9th, 7/11/72; His 5 shutouts in 1971 is still 2nd all-time among Brewers pitchers; Was the Brewers opening day starter in 1971 and the Red Sox opening day starter in 1972

Fun Stuff:
Was the last Red Sox pitcher to bat before the DH; Both of his career home runs were two-run homers hit in 1972 in Fenway Park off of Brewers’ pitcher Bill Parsons in the 2nd inning with 2 outs… but came a couple of months apart

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s


TONY PEREZ

1977 O-Pee-Chee #135

Played 1964 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Reds, Expos

1970’s Highlights:
Starting 3rd Baseman for the NL in the 1970 All-Star Game; Hit a career-best 40 home runs n 1970 (3rd best in the NL that season); Got MVP votes in 1970, 1973 and 1975; Had 100+ RBI in 1970, 1973, 1974 and 1975; His 129 RBI in 1970 was second only to teammate Johnny Bench; His 109 RBI in 1975 was 3rd behind Bench and leader Greg Luzinski; Batted .435 in the 1972 World Series with 2 doubles and 2 RBI

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000; His #24 was retired by the Reds; Was a 7-time All-Star; Drove in 1,652 career runs; Played in the World Series four times; Managed the 1993 Reds and the 2001 Marlins, but didn’t finish the season with either team; Was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team in 1965; Hit a 15th inning game-winning homer off of Catfish Hunter in the 1967 All-Star Game and was named the game’s MVP

Fun Stuff:
He hit the first home run in Cincinnati’s Three Rivers Stadium, 7/16/70; Was the last player to homer off of Juan Marichal (1975); Was the victim of Hoyt Wilhelm’s final strikeout (6/26/72)

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; Between Topps and O-Pee-Chee there were three very different versions of Tony Perez cards in 1977… The OPC above showing a spring training photo with the Expos, the regular Topps card shows him with the Reds and the Topps Cloth Stickers test set shows Tony in an airbrushed Expos cap…

And finally, since I don’t have many vintage HOFer rookie cards – at least not ones before 1972 or 1973 – here’s Tony’s rookie card… which I bought because Kevin Collins in the lower left completed my 1965 Topps Mets team set

No Value But I Still Kinda Like It: A Blaster Of 2021 Heritage High #’s

I knew what I was getting into.

There, I’ve gotten it out of the way.  Truth is, I like Heritage High #’s in a weird sort of way.  It largely stems from the fact that I like to keep current cards organized by teams and I get a weird thrill out of replacing a hand-written placeholder of some fringe prospect or reliever with an honest-to-goodness baseball card.

And guys like that are present in 2021 High #’s.  If you grabbed me a week ago and asked me if Tyler Zuber, Taylor Widener, Seth Elledge and Jorge Oña played in MLB or MLS, I’m not sure I would’ve gotten it right… but here they are:

As for the value aspect of this, my blaster contained four short prints:

And two inserts…

Yup, 6 non-base cards out of the 8 packs in the blaster… unless I’m missing some weird variations that aren’t labeled on the back the same way that regular Heritage had their little notes up near the card number.

What’s also missing from High #’s – and this is a plus in my book – are subsets. The 225 cards in the checklist are all base player cards. No “Boyhood Photos” or “League Leaders” or multi-player rookie cards or goofy-arsed cards showing awards. Just 225 additional players to make the overall Heritage checklist deeper.

With the regular Heritage set this past year I took the somewhat radical move of largely ignoring the subsets, unless they fit in with my team or player collections. That meant that instead of a 500 card complete set, I was was chasing a 375-card “good enough” set (which sadly still contains a bunch of SPs). Everything in the High #s checklist qualifies as “good enough” (but there are still too many SPs).

So High #s *does* contain some updates. Imagine that!

The Mets signed James McCann on December 20th, 2020.

Joe Musgrove was acquired via trade on January 19th.

Joc Pederson signed with the Cubs on February 5th – but unfortunately was traded to the Braves on July 15th, so this update was in need of an update before it came out.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. signed with the Brewers on March 8th (and was traded back to the Red Sox this past December)

High #’s has it’s share of “You mean this guy *wasn’t* in regular Heritage?” guys… Manny Machado is somewhat surprising, but I guess they figured they held him back figuring that High #’s couldn’t have the entire checklist of guys like Julian Merryweather.

Ozzie Albies, an all-star this past season, also got pushed back to High #s

…And the now-retired Buster Posey.

I don’t mind all the posed shots… not entirely, anyway. The 1970s sets I grew up with were largely posed shots. The thing with this is that it’s largely the same couple of poses all cropped the same. It wouldn’t have killed them to have a head shot every so often.

The best photo in the blaster I got was this shot of Austin Nola. Stadium Club this is not.

So that’s what I got in my blaster. I think many collectors would be upset with the lack of value. Me, I’m just happy to have been able to rip some packs as well as to have the chance of pulling a card of Vimael Machin.

1981 Coke & A Smile: Wrapping Things Up

As I’d mentioned in the first, second and third “1981 Coke & A Smile” posts, I recently got a bunch of 1981 Topps/Coca-Cola cards shipped to me from COMC.  I’ve been chasing down those where the photo has some sort of significant (or at least interesting) difference.

The first two players in this post were part of the same trade between the Cardinals and Brewers, but since there wasn’t a Brewers Coke set, we only see the players coming to St. Louis.  On December 12, 1980, The Brewers traded Sixto Lezcano, Lary Sorensen, David Green and Dave LaPoint to the Cardinals for Rollie Fingers, Ted Simmons and Pete Vuckovich.  For those of you wondering “Wait a minute, when did the Cardinals have Rollie Fingers in the first place?”, well the answer is that the Cardinals acquired him in a trade with the Padres four days earlier.

Here’s Lezcano’s 1981 Topps card:

His 1981 Coke card:

And his 1981 Topps Traded card:

Lary Sorensen’s 1981 Topps card (and I’ll just say that I like the way the bright sun washes out the pinstripes that aren’t in shadow):

1981 Coke:

1981 Traded:

I have one more recently acquired Coke card to feature, but since this “Coke & A Smile” series has gotten more popular than I’d expected, I’m going to go back and also feature the 1981 Coke cards which I’d already owned but haven’t already been part of this series.

We’ll start with the February 28, 1981 trade that sent Steve Henderson from the Mets to the Cubs for Dave Kingman.  In this case, both of the players got a Coke card.

Henderson’s 1981 Topps:

Henderson’s 1981 Coke:

Henderson’s 1981 Traded:

And here’s the other side of the deal, starting with Kingman’s Topps card (note the All-Star banner):

1981 Coke (no All-Star Banner… and no mustache):

…and 1981 Traded:

Let’s do a quick run through the remaining cards…

FRANK TANANA
January 23, 1981: Traded by the California Angels with Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi to the Boston Red Sox for Fred Lynn and Steve Renko

1981 Topps

1981 Topps Coca-Cola

1981 Topps Super (5×7) – included here because it’s the same photo with what looks to me like different airbrushing

1981 Topps Traded

DON SUTTON
Signed as a free agent with the Astros

1981 Topps

1981 Topps Coca-Cola

1981 Topps Traded

RUSTY STAUB
Signed as a free agent with the Mets

1981 Topps

1981 Topps Coca-Cola

1981 Topps Traded

RANDY JONES
December 15, 1980: Traded by the San Diego Padres to the New York Mets for Jose Moreno and John Pacella

1981 Topps

1981 Topps Coca-Cola (same photo with airbrushed cap and jersey)

1981 Topps Traded

I’ll also point out here that there were 1981 Coca-Cola cards for the Reds, Pirates and Royals, but to the best of my knowledge those cards were substantially the same as the Topps cards with only cropping and All-Star banner differences (like with the Dave Kingman cards above)

1981 TOPPS COCA-COLA TEAM HEADER CARD
Just in case anyone wants to see what these look like.


Back in 1981 I took advantage of the “buy an uncut sheet!” offer, and now, nearly 41 years later, I still don’t know what to do with the sheet… But I did write about it a few years ago.

Two Weeks Of Customs: What Is And What Should Never Be

I normally feature a week’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ) but the holidays threw me off of my schedule, so…

Here’s another mashup of my customs and 1975 Topps, featuring the MVP’s of 2016, Mike Trout and Kris Bryant. The general idea of the design was to have a foul pole as one border and the team name on the ‘outfield wall’, but I never felt like people ‘got it’. I’m not 100% satisfied with the execution, but I still like the concept.


Detroit captain Dylan Larkin was named the NHL’s 1st star for the week of Dec 13-19; Larkin had 5 goals and 2 assists, including his first career hat trick in a game against the Devils.

My hockey customs have slowed down with all the cancellations for the season… I was planning to do Olympic Hockey customs in the style of 1975/76 Topps, but with the NHL pulling out I’ll probably save that design for some other project.

The Athletics have formally named Mark Kotsay as their manager.   Kotsay was the team’s 3rd base coach in 2021 and held other coaching positions in the 6 years before that.

Another 1975 Topps MVP mashup featuring 2017 MVP’s Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Altuve



This design was a mixed bag; it looked good with the colors I’d assigned to certain teams, but as I started to add teams I realized there were… um… issues.  The design looked pretty good with the teams I’d started out doing, but as I went into other teams/colors I realized some of them were pretty ugly. Since then I create a lot more ‘proofs’ before I make a new design public.

Javier Baéz signed a 6-year contract with the Detroit Tigers. As a Mets fan I still don’t know what to think of this (although “Hell, I don’t know” has become my take on a lot of things lately)

A third mashup featuring 2018 MVP’s Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich. This design might be the one that went through the most changes during the time I was developing it, but I’m happy with the end result


A friend of mine bemoaned the lack of manual transmissions in new cars outside of expensive performance models. I suggested the upcoming Nissan Z as an affordable car with a manual, but I don’t think she’s going for it

Kendall Graveman had a 0.82 ERA over 30 games with the Mariners last year before being traded to Houston before the deadline. He made 9 postseason appearances and signed as a free agent with the White Sox.

Another Seattle Kraken custom… Ryan Donato, whose father Ted also played in the NHL, signed with the Kraken after playing for the Bruins, Wild and Sharks


For no real reason, here’s Led Zeppelin performing “What Is And What Should Never Be” at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970

The 1970’s, A To Z: Milt Pappas to Bill Parsons

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.


MILT PAPPAS

1974 Topps #640
Played 1957 – 1973
1970’s Teams: Braves, Cubs

1970’s Highlights:
No-hit the Padres and came within one batter of a perfect game, 9/2/72; Got Cy Young votes in 1972 when he went 17-7, 2.77

Career Highlights:
Inducted into Orioles HOF in 1985; Was an All-Star in 1962 and 1965; Was a key player sent to the Reds when the Orioles traded for Frank Robinson in December, 1965

Fun Stuff:
Was the first pitcher to earn 200 career wins without ever winning 20 games in a season


DAVE PARKER

1977 Topps #270

Played 1973 – 1991
1970’s Teams: Pirates

1970’s Highlights:
Was the 1978 NL MVP after batting a league-leading .344 with 30 homers, 117 RBI and 102 runs; Was the starting right fielder in the 1977 and 1979 All-Star Games, and was the MVP of the 1979 Game; Won Gold Gloves from 1977 to 1979; Lead the league with a .338 average, 215 hits and 44 doubles in 1977; Finished 3rd in MVP voting in 1975 and 1977; During the 1979 postseason (NLCS vs. the Reds, World Series vs. the Orioles) he batted .341 with 4 runs and 6 RBI

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame; Holds the Brewers single-season mark with 14 sacrifice flies; Won a World Series with the 1989 A’s; Over his career he was a seven-time All-Star

Fun Stuff:
Famously had a football facemask added to his batting helmet in 1978 to protect a broken cheekbone; His 1978 MVP season was the only season from 1977 to 1981 where he was *not* an All-Star

Card Stuff:
The same photo was used on his 1975 Topps and his 1976 Hostess cards


WES PARKER

1972 Topps #265

Played 1964 – 1972
1970’s Teams: Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
Was a Gold Glove 1st baseman every year from 1967 to 1972 (his last in the Majors); In 1970 he lead the league with 47 doubles and had career highs with a .319 average, 111 RBI and 84 runs; Hit for the cycle against the Mets, 5/7/1970; After sitting out the 1973 season he made a comeback with Japan’s Nankai Hawks in 1974

Career Highlights:
Was named to the Rawlings All-Time Gold Glove Team in 2007

Fun Stuff:
Appeared in a number of TV shows… most famously The Brady Bunch (as himself while also the boyfriend of Greg’s teacher), but also on Emergency, McMillan & Wife, Police Story, Six Million Dollar Man and Days of our Lives

Card Stuff:
Appeared in 1973 Topps but he’d announced his retirement in November, 1972


LARRY PARRISH

1977 O-Pee-Chee #72

Played 1974 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Expos

1970’s Highlights:
Was named to the 1975 Topps All-Star Rookie team and got a vote for NL Rookie of the Year; Was an All-Star in 1979; Set an Expos team record (since broken) with a .551 slugging percentage in 1979

Career Highlights:
Managed the Tigers in 1988 and 1989; Was an All-Star in 1987 with the Rangers; Played in the postseason with the 1981 Expos and the 1988 Red Sox

Fun Stuff:
Played two seasons in Japan with the Yakult Swallows and Hanshin Tigers

Card Stuff:
The photo on his 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is cropped tighter than the Topps card


BILL PARSONS

1973 Topps #231

Played 1971 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Brewers, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
In his 1971 rookie season he went 13-17 for the 92-loss Brewers, lead the team with 12 complete games, was named the Sporting News AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year, was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team and finished 2nd to Chris Chambliss in 1971 AL Rookie of the Year voting; Was the Brewers’ opening day starter in 1972; Was 2nd on the Brewers in wins in both 1971 and 1972

Fun Stuff:
Was drafted in 1968 by the Seattle Pilots

Card Stuff:
Had a card in the 1972 Kellogg’s set; Is included in 1975 Topps but would spend the year in the minors before retiring; The 1973 card featured above made an impression on me as a kid because he looks so tall and slender