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 Different Kind Of “Unlicensed”: Fleer Action Football

So you might know that through the 1970s, Topps had a license with the individual football players but not with the NFL teams, which is why those sets have all of the logos removed via airbrush.

But did you know that in the 1970s and 1980s Fleer made football cards which *were* licensed by the NFL?

Ah, but there’s a catch…  Fleer was licensed by the NFL, but not by the NFL players… So while Topps featured the players but had to gloss over the teams, Fleer featured the teams and had to gloss over the players.

So their general ‘gambit’ was along these lines… They created cards like these, packaged them with team logo stickers and gum, prominently feature the NFL logo on the wrapper, usually include “Action” in the set name somewhere (NFL Action, NFL Teams In Action, NFL Football Action Photos, Live Action Football) and hoped that unsuspecting kids would plop down their allowance and not discover until it was too late that each card featured several players you could only identify if you were up on your uniform numbers.

Sure, there were stats on the back… but they were generally game stats or team stats.

I was reminded of these cards at a recent card show when I bought a few for my Steelers collection, and then later went and updated my football wantlists to include these justly maligned sets.

I mean, it sounds great to say that a card features Rocky Bleier, Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris, but the reality is a little less than you might expect…

These new cards I got are from 1980 Fleer.  Here’s another one where the most easily identifiable player is #72, right guard Gerry Mullins

They’re kind of fun… and yet they’re not.  I held on to mine, but I can imagine a lot of kids flipping them, putting them in bike spokes and doing other things one does to unwanted trading cards.

As it turns out, I got two different cards of the same Super Bowl… Here’s the 1980 Fleer card for Super Bowl XIII between the Steelers and Cowboys… It appears that Bradshaw is looking for an open receiver.

And here’s the 1979 Fleer card of the same game.  Bradshaw’s still looking.

Just to prove that I did buy a couple of packs of these back in the day, here’s a wrapper from 1981 Fleer Football that I’ve saved for 40 years (damn, that makes me sound ancient… and like a hoarder).  I’ll point out that the left hand side (which would be the back of the pack before it’s opened) features the Eagles and Raiders who had faced off that January in Super Bowl XV.

And here’s another one from 1982 Fleer.  I don’t remember what the deal was with the “Solid Gold” stickers.  I don’t think they featured the Solid Gold Dancers (I think you’d have to be at least 40 years old to get that reference)

Don’t they look enticing?  All bright and colorful and NFL-y, but the pack contained only disappointment.  And gum.

Did anybody collect these back then?  Does anybody actively collect them now?

Pack Animal: Parkside National Women’s Soccer League Premier Edition

A couple of weeks ago I was in a big box retailer and largely out of habit I took a peak in the card aisle. I knew there wouldn’t be any baseball, but I’m not averse to buying hockey or soccer if the product looks interesting.

What I found there were hangers of 2021 National Women’s Soccer League cards by a company called Parkside. I wasn’t familiar with the brand, but I later found out that they’ve produced a few sets of some note, including the Negro League Baseball Museum, Big3 Basketball and the Major Lacrosse League.

Now I am vaguely aware of some goings-on in women’s soccer, but I’m far from a fan. On the other hand, over the past year or so I’ve tried to be better about diverting my spending from global monoliths towards businesses and organizations that can use my support. Much as I recently bought minor league baseball apparel instead of Major League stuff, I also felt like a hanger for a sports league which is something of an underdog was worthy of my $10.

Plus, I just wanted something to open and, of course, write about here.

So let’s crack open this 25 card hanger…

First card – Allysha Chapman of the Houston Dash

A little much going on with the card’s design at the bottom, and that makes it hard to read her first name, but I like the photo. The design looks like it’s supposed to be something, but I’m not getting it just yet.

Card stock is pretty thin, BTW… but on the whole it’s no worse than something like NBA Hoops. I also sat down to write this post and realized I somehow forgot to scan the back of the base card. Visually it’s nothing to write home about, but it does seem to have some sort of QR code on the back… which I haven’t scanned.

Second card – Simone Charley of the Portland Thorns

Another nice action shot.

After skipping a few cards, we come to Sarah Woldmoe of the Chicago Red Stars

This is interesting, almost Studio-esque. Woldmoe is in her first year with Chicago, so this image might have been used because they didn’t have any action shots of her with the Red Stars.

Angelina of the OL Reign

I know single-named Brazilian soccer players are a “thing”… Pelé, Ronaldo, Kaká, even FRED fer cryin’ out loud!  …But I didn’t know women did it. Angelina is in her first year with OL Reign, and OL Reign is a new branding of the former Seattle Reign. According to some quick research, the French club Olympique Lyonnaise became majority owner and change the team name, color and logos to be like that of the “parent” club.

Oooh, Carli Lloyd! First player in this pack I’d heard of before.

Nice card, and I like the Gotham FC club logo. Apparently that’s new this year – the club was previously Sky Blue FC – so I wonder if all of the players for Gotham FC and OL Reign are shown this way because it’s a different type of ‘update’.

Here are a couple of more action shots I liked well enough to scan… First Shea Groom, Dash…

…and also Vanessa DiBernardo, Red Stars

Now we get into the inserts…

First off we have a foilboard parallel of [carefully checks spelling] Gunnhildur Jonsdottir along with the base version (which I happened to get from the same pack)… Not that you can tell much difference in the scan, I suppose.

Jonsdottir played with the Utah Royals last year, but that club ceased operations and all of the players were transferred to a new Kansas City club… but then Jonsdottir was traded to the Orlando Pride… This is the kind of fun stuff you get with an emerging league.

I guess this is a black-and white parallel version.  Debinha goes by just one name, so of course she’s Brazilian.  She also plays for the North Carolina Courage.

I’m not much for parallels, even less for black and white parallels, so this card gets a “Meh” from me

Now this is an insert after my own heart… It’s from an insert set called “Vintage” and they even give the card a well-loved look.  This particular card features Ashley Hatch of the Washington Spirit.

The backs have a faux cardboard texture to them, but the printing is very dark (as you can see).  Some of the aging effects don’t make sense if you think about them too hard… Why is there paper loss *under* the colored stripes?  Why is there a vertical crease like it’s the cover of an old book?  On the whole I decided to stop thinking and just go with it.

Speaking of “very dark”, the next insert is called “Hyped” and is shiny, but the end result is pretty disturbing. The featured player is Ifeoma Onumonu of Gotham FC.

Wrapping things up with Promising Prospects insert of Emina Ekic of Racing Louisville FC. Not a bad looking insert.  It scanned a bit dark, but the background has a red Tron-like grid.

Not bad, on the whole.  If I followed the league at all I would definitely buy more of these.

Do any of you follow the NWSL?  Has anybody else given these cards a try?  What did you think about them?

2021 TSR Daily: With HR Derby, Draft Picks and… HOCKEY?!?

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily )

Freddy Peralta was named to his first All-Star team and is top 5 in the NL in strikeouts and WHIP

Charlie Blackmon could be in another uniform this time next month… and in my twisted custom logic I wanted to make sure I got him in this set as a Rockie because I’m running short on Rockies candidates for my checklist. I can always give him an “update” custom if need be.

If there are any Rockies fans out there, I’m open to nominations. Other than Blackmon I’ve already done Trevor Story, German Márquez, Jon Gray and Ryan McMahon.

Anthony DeSclafani has the league lead with 2 shutouts and has 10 wins against 3 losses. He’s one of the players who has flown under my radar because I’m not doing fantasy baseball this year… and I do kinda miss it, even if it does take a fair amount of time. I’ll have to see what I can do about 2022

I’ve watched home run derbies on TV… A couple of years ago I went to a minor league home run derby… So it’s not just a knee-jerk reaction when I say that home run derbies are dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. But I felt like I should watch this year because of Trey Mancini and Pete Alonso. It turned out that my two guys in this competition made it to the finals… and I struggled to stay awake. But I have to make a custom, right?

I made sure to get Mets bench coach Dave Jauss included in the custom, because he put on a show of a different sort by throwing pitch after pitch in the same place.

Jean Segura leads the Phillies with a .315 average, plus is among the the league leaders in a number of defensive statistics

Rookie 2nd baseman Jonathan India leads the Reds in On-Base % and stolen bases, plus he’s been hit by a pitch 14 times, tied for the most in MLB. You’d have to think he’s a ROY candidate.

Aroldis Chapman was named to the All-Star team even though his stats are not particularly impressive. I will assume I’m missing something, unless it’s mainly about his reputation and being the Yankees closer

I made up a couple of Draft Picks customs, and since I don’t want to overload on Mets customs I’ll feature the second one I made – #2 overall pick Jack Leiter, drafted out of Vanderbilt by the Texas Rangers.

One thing about Jack Leiter that I hadn’t realized until I watched the draft is that Jack looks a whole lot like Steve George.

Ha, you’re welcome 1988 Topps fans.

Jack Leiter is the son of former Major Leaguer Al Leiter, and Jack looks a lot like his old man. He also wears #22, which Al wore with the Mets and Marlins.

One more custom… this is a sort of “promo card” for a project I’ve been slowly working on for months, and which I hope that you’ll appreciate the work that went into it, even if — well, sorry, but it’s not baseball.

A little backstory… I was a big hockey fan for about 20 years and a devoted fan of the Washington Capitals, but in the late 1990’s a series of disappointing moves by the Caps and the NHL, compounded by my moving from hockey-mad Long Island to “Hockey? Whuzzat?” Shlabotsylvania made me lose interest in the league as a whole. I still enjoyed watching hockey, especially in the Olympics, but I gave up on the NHL. Over the last couple of years I’d thought about starting over with another team, since the Caps of today are still more the “ex” I grew apart from than the team I fell in love with. I made an attempt with the Rangers and Blackhawks before the pandemic, but that didn’t completely take.

I decided I’d give it one last try with the expansion Seattle Kraken, who will start play in October. They’re a bit problematic in that they are clear across the country from Shlabotsylvania, but I got a good vibe from the organization and I decided to go for it.

I haven’t paid much attention to the NHL over the past 15 or so years, so I decided I would get to know the players on my new team by making customs of them. Somewhere along the line I had the idea of making card backs as well, which is very much out of character for me.

To this former Capitals fan (and retroactive fan of the Kansas City Scouts), 1974/75 Topps is the set that most says “EXPANSION!” to me, and I kinda like the cheesy attempts to show players in uniforms which clearly weren’t for the expansion team in question.

Like Topps in 1974, I didn’t want to put a huge amount of effort into this custom set.

…But as I tend to do, I got carried away with things. I had a lot of fun trying to duplicate the card backs, something I’d never really tried to do before. I also wasn’t sure what to do about duplicating the cartoons, which was a whole ‘nother rabbit hole for me.

Quick apology – if I knew I’d be writing this much about my hockey customs, I would’ve made it a separate post. Too late now. :-)


We’re just days away from the expansion draft… Oh, excuse me, from the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft™ presented by Upper Deck. I just recently learned that it’s sponsored by Upper Deck, which I thought was an interesting sponsorship.


The expansion draft is this Wednesday, NHL rosters are already frozen in preparation and I’m ready to hit the ground running with these things. I’ve already tweeted out team-related customs and one of head coach Dave Hakstol, but the only Kraken player’s card I’ve created so far is this BLOG EXCLUSIVE card of Luke Henman who became the first player under contract to the Kraken after he was signed out of the Juniors.

I cheated a bit with the cartoon portrait of Gordie Howe on the back of the card… I tried doing it free hand but ended up digitally tracing a photo of him and used that as the ‘cartoon’.

OK, that’s enough babbling from me for now. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! (or “Have a good day!” if you’re reading this later)

The 1970’s, A To Z: Sparky Lyle to Rick Manning

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.


1974 Topps #66
(I recently upgraded to a card without paper loss, but this particular card remains in the ‘appendix’ of my 1974 binder)

Played 1967 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers

1970’s Highlights:
Won the 1977 Cy Young Award – the first time an American League reliever won that award – in a season where Lyle went 13-5 (and remember this is as a reliever) with 26 saves and a 2.17 ERA;  Was named the 1972 AL Fireman of the year and got a first place vote in 1972 MVP voting; Was a three-time All-Star; Went 3-0 in postseason games, but only got 1 save out of 13 appearances; Lead the league in saves in 1972 and 1976; Got the save (and, while batting, a bases-loaded walk) by pitching a scoreless 1.1 innings in the Red Sox wild 22-11 win over White Sox, 8/30/70

Career Highlights:
Managed the Somerset Patriots, then of the independent Atlantic League, for the team’s first 15 seasons and won 5 league championships

Fun Stuff:
Famously co-wrote a book, “The Bronx Zoo”, about his 1978 season with the Yankees

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


1976 Topps #50

Played 1974 – 1990
1970’s Teams: Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
His 1975 season was a rookie season for the ages and won him AL Rookie of the Year, AL MVP and Gold Glove awards – the first time that anyone won the ROY and MVP in the same season (Ichiro later duplicated that feat); In that 1975 season he lead the league with 103 runs and .566 slugging %, plus also hit .331 with 21 homers and 105 RBI; This came after a September 1974 call-up where he batted .419 with 5 runs, 10 RBI and 2 homers over 15 games;  In 1979 he lead the league in batting, on-base and slugging (.333 / .423 / .637);  Hit a homer and had five RBI in the 1975 World Series; Was the AL’s starting center fielder in the 1976, 1978 and 1979 All-Star games; His 16 total bases on 6/18/75 set an AL record (3 homers, a triple and a single) and that game made him one of a fairly small number of players with 10 or more RBI in a game

Career Highlights:
Was an All-Star in nine straight seasons; Won four Gold Gloves; Was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007; Was a two-time College All-American; Was named the MVP of the 1982 ALCS even though his Angels lost to the Brewers; Hit a grand slam in the 1983 All-STar game and was named the game’s MVP

Fun Stuff:
At USC, was a teammate of Rich Dauer, Steve Kemp and Roy Smalley; Did a guest appearance on Fantasy Island

Card Stuff:
His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is missing the All-Star banner;  In the 1982 Topps/K-Mart MVP box set, Lynn’s multi-player 1975 rookie card was turned into a solo “card that never was”

Moving on to the letter M


1977 Kellogg’s #37

Played 1972 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Giants, Phillies

1970’s Highlights:
Was named an outfielder on the 1972 Topps All-Star Rookies team (although his 1973 card did not show the All-Star Rookie Cup logo); Finished with the 3rd-best batting average in 1973 and 1976

Career Highlights:
One of the premier center fielders of the 1970s, Maddox won eight Gold Gloves over his career; Was named the winner of the 1986 Roberto Clemente Award for players who combine good play with strong presence in the community; Won a World Championship with the 1980 Phillies; Was inducted into the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame in 2001

Fun Stuff:
Mets broadcaster and baseball HOFer Ralph Kiner once said “Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water, the other one-third is covered by Garry Maddox.”; Garry appeared with his Phillies teammates in a “1980 World Series edition” of the Family Feud (video below)

Card Stuff:
His 1979 Burger King card is cropped somewhat differently from his 1979 Topps card


1977 Topps #250

Played 1973 – 1987
1970’s Teams: Rangers, Cubs, Giants, Pirates

1970’s Highlights:
During the 1970s he lead the NL in batting twice (1975 and 1976) and batted no worse than .298; After playing 21 games for the Rangers as a September call-up, he was one of two prospects traded to the Cubs for Fergie Jenkins; Was named the 3rd baseman on the 1974 Topps All-Star Rookie team; Finished 3rd in 1974 NL Rookie of the Year voting; Was the co-MVP (along with the Mets’ Jon Matlack) of the 1975 All-Star Game… Madlock hit a 2-run single in the top of the 9th to put the NL ahead to stay; Got a 1st place vote in 1979 MVP voting but still finished in 18th behind co-winners Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell; Won a World Championship with the Pirates in 1979 after starting that season in San Francisco

Career Highlights:
Was a batting leader four times and has a career average of .305; Was an All-Star three times; Holds the Cubs career record with a .336 batting average; Was in the postseason with the Dodgers in 1985 and Tigers in 1987

Fun Stuff:
Played in 1988 for the Lotte Orions in Japan

Card Stuff:
His O-Pee-Chee card has a different photo that’s been airbrushed to place him on the Giants after a February, 1977 trade; His 1975 Hostess card has a corrected error where he’s listd as a pitcher

1977 O-Pee-Chee #56


1976 Topps #xxx

Played 1975 – 1987
1970’s Teams: Indians

1970’s Highlights:
Was the 2nd overall draft pick in 1972, after the Padres selected IF/C Dave Roberts; Named to Baseball Digest’s – but not Topps – 1975 All-Star Rookie team;  Known as an outstanding defensive center fielder, he won a Gold Glove in 1976

Career Highlights:
Caught the final out of Len Barker’s 1981 perfect game

Fun stuff:
Has been a member of the Indians’ broadcast team since 1990, the longest tenure of any Indians TV broadcaster and as long as Indians’ radio broadcaster Tom Hamilton

Scandalous stuff:
I don’t normally include scandalous info in these writeups, but since this affected the future of two franchises, I decided it was worthwhile.

While recovering from a back injury in 1978, Manning stayed at the house of his best friend, Dennis Eckersley… but Manning became “involved” with Eck’s wife. Because of the resulting tensions between the two players the Indians knew they had to trade one of them and Eckersley was traded to the Red Sox just before the 1978 season

Card Stuff:
Has a rookie card in 1976 Hostess, as well as Topps, O-Pee-Chee and SSPC;  His 1976 SSPC card shows Duane Kuiper and likewise Kuiper’s card shows Manning

Kuiper’s card showing Manning (#522)

Manning’s card showing Kuiper (#529)

Here’s an episode of Family Feud 1980 World Series edition, Phillies vs. Royals… It’s clear from watching this that there were similar episodes before and after. The video quality starts out pretty poor, but it does get better

The Hostess Lowdown

Recently in my 1970s: A-Z series I’ve been making note of those players who appeared in all five Hostess sets of the 1970s.  In the comments of the most recent post, San Jose Fuji wondered how many players are represented in all five sets.

“Good question”, I thought… and here we are.

There are 33 players who are featured in all five Hostess sets.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back with another post soon!

Oh, right, like I would let an opportunity like this to go by without my over-analyzing what I found by querying my card database. As it turns out, this also gives me an opportunity to show off three Hostess cards I got at the Water Buffalo Lodge show… how fortuitous!

…Cards like this 1975 Hostess Steve Garvey.

Steve Garvey…

…make sure you’re sitting down…


Some people are outraged that Garvey isn’t in the HOF, but it’s not the only slight of his career. Apparently starting the 1977 All-Star Game, winning a Gold Glove and driving in 115 runs was not sufficient to get Mr. Garvey into the 1978 Hostess set. Go figure.

Steve Garvey is not alone.  Some other players who surprised me by not appearing in all five Hostess sets include Steve Carlton (missing from 1976), Don Sutton (1976), Carlton Fisk (1978), Rollie Fingers (1979) and Carl Yastrzemski (1978 & 1979).

Before I go any further, let’s take a quick break to show off another Hostess acquisition and then take a step back to look at the big picture.

This is the first of three Hostess cards for Rich “Goose” Gossage (1976, 1977, 1979)

There are 5 Hostess sets – 1975 to 1979 – with 150 cards each.  That gives us a total of 750 cards.  According to my findings, there are 332 different players featured in at least one Hostess set, which would average a little over 2.25 cards per player.

As I mentioned, there are 33 players who appear in all five sets:  Bill Madlock, Bobby Murcer, Buddy Bell, Cesar Cedeño, Dave Concepción, Dave Kingman, Dave Lopes, Dave Winfield, Gary Matthews, Gaylord Perry, Gene Tenace, Graig Nettles, Greg Luzinski, Hal McRae, Jim Palmer, Jim Sundberg, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Mike Hargrove, Mike Schmidt, Nolan Ryan, Pete Rose, Phil Niekro, Reggie Jackson, Rick Reuschel, Robin Yount, Rod Carew, Ron Cey, Ted Simmons, Thurman Munson, Toby Harrah, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell.

UPDATE:  There are *34* players who are in all five sets… I missed Bobby Grich because one of his Hostess cards was listed as “Bob Grich” in my database, so it didn’t sum up right.  Thanks to Dime Boxes Nick for catching that!

Robin Yount is a fairly surprising member of this list, as his 1975 Hostess card came out the same season as his official rookie card.  “Rookie year” cards don’t often show up in Hostess… for example, George Brett is also well-known for his 1975 rookie card, but didn’t show up in 1975 Hostess (and unlike Yount he got some 1974 Rookie of the Year votes).  Brett appeared in every Hostess set from 1976 to 1979.

Even more surprising on the list of Five-Timers are Mike Hargrove (who was, at least, the 1974 AL ROY) and Rick Reuschel… (FYI, this Reuschel is not one of my new cards)

As you might think, there are more players with four cards than there are with five.  I won’t list them all, but there are 42 of them.  Some of the somewhat surprising players who did appear in 4 cards include Freddie Patek, John Candelaria, John Mayberry, Jorge Orta and Willie Montañez.

…and Larry Hisle.  This well-loved example is the last of my new Hostess acquisitions.

Breaking it down the rest of the way, there are also 42 players with 3 cards, 76 with 2 cards and 139 with 1 card.

Part of why there might be a weird discrepancy of who gets in the sets and who does not is because Hostess tried to keep each team equally represented, more or less.  Generally speaking there are 5 or 6 cards per team in any given Hostess set, so that might be why 1978 has no Garvey but does have Oakland’s Earl Williams and his 38 RBI.

One thing I discovered, and which is something that isn’t all that surprising, is that there are fewer cards of the Expos and Blue Jays than there are of the other teams.  This makes sense since Hostess snack cakes weren’t sold in Canada.  Yes, the Blue Jays were an expansion team in 1977 and didn’t have much in the way of good players, but they still had about half as many cards as their partners in expansion, the Seattle Mariners.

I’m sure if I put my mind to it I could slice ‘n dice the checklists in a number of other ways, but I think this is enough for now.

2021 TSR Daily: Like Father, Like Son

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily )

Former Top 100 prospect Austin Hays is among the Orioles leaders in Wins Above Replacement.  I’m getting to the end of the 5th “series” in my custom set, and I’m telling you now that it’s getting more difficult to figure out which players on the last place teams deserve a custom.  My goal at the start was to have 8 customs for each team, but I’m not sure I can justify that going forward, especially after some teams will trade anyone who has any value.  We’ll see what happens.

Mike Zunino was name to the AL All-Star team for the first time in his career..

One sign of a return to normalcy is the increasing number of people throwing out the first pitch before Major League games. I ran across some photos of Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings as he was about to throw out the first pitch before a Mariners game, and I couldn’t resist giving him the Shlabotnik’s Picks treatment.

Emmanuel Clase leads Cleveland in Saves and ERA, and is one of the players received in exchange for Corey Kluber.

David Fletcher leads the league in singles and sacrifice hits and has scored more runs than any Angel not named Ohtani.

I’m still catching up on my season highlights, and I do intend to do one for Padres pitcher Daniel Camarena whose first Major League hit was a grand slam… But for now, let’s address the backlog of no-hitters and feature the Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull whose no-no of the Mariners is undoubtedly one of the season’s high points for Detroit.

Closer Ryan Pressly was named to his 2nd All-Star team. This year, he’s 4-1 with 16 saves, a 1.42 ERA, 0.789 WHIP, 11.4 strikeouts per 9 innings and 9.60 strikeouts per walk

The Mets signed Taijuan Walker as rotational depth, but the newly-named All-Star with a 7-3 record and a 1.033 WHIP has made that signing an act of genius, especially when the Mets are still without Noah Syndergaard and winter acquisition Carlos Carrasco.

Cardinals closer Alex Reyes has 20 saves, 5 wins, a 1.52 ERA and was named to the National League All-Star team

One more insert to close out the “pack”…

At the Orioles game this past Friday night there were a number of fans who were there to cheer on White Sox rookie Gavin Sheets, a Baltimore native who was playing his first game at Camden Yards.  I thought this was pretty cool – I remember a Mets game in the 1990s where I got caught up in joining people around me who were cheering for Cardinals pitcher and Queens native Allen Watson.

As it turns out, it got a bit cooler because Gavin Sheets is the son of former Orioles outfielder Larry Sheets.  Gavin and his fellow second-generation Major Leaguers – there seem to be a lot of them right now – inspired me to create a new custom card I’ve been meaning to do for a year or two, one based on subsets found in 1976 and 1985 Topps, but done in the style of my current TSR Daily set.

I’ve got a couple of tweaks in mind for this, but I’m largely happy with how it turned out.  For what it’s worth, I wasn’t strictly limiting myself to Topps cards of Larry Sheets, but I thought this particular card from 1985 Topps Traded was well-suited to these purposes.

I plan on doing more of these, and I’m welcome to suggestions.  I’d like to focus on some of the lesser-known ones, as everybody already knows about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. & Sr as well as Fernando Tatis Jr. & Sr.

OK, that’s it for this week.  As a coming attraction, I’m working on insert cards for some of the players who were selected in last night’s Major League Draft.  You can bet that this Mets fan will be including Kumar Rocker… I’m still surprised that he fell down to the Mets at #10.

…And that there’s *another* player named Max Muncy… but we’ll get to that.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Davy Lopes to Greg Luzinski

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 Topps #180

Played 1972 – 1987
1970’s Teams: Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
Was part of the famed Dodgers infield (along with Garvey, Russell and Cey) who played together from 1973 to 1981; Won a Gold Glove in 1978; Started the 1979 All-Star game and was also an All-Star in 1978; Was named the 2nd baseman on the 1973 Topps All-Star Rookie Team; Set a Major League record in 1975 with 38 straight stolen bases without being caught… Gary Carter ended the streak on Lopes’ 4th attempt of the 14-inning game, 8/24/75; In the 1978 postseason he hit a combined 5 homers, 10 runs and 12 RBI while batting over .300

Career Highlights:
Stole 557 bases in his career; Played in 4 World Series and won a championship with the 1981 Dodgers

Card Stuff:
Was in all five 1970s Hostess sets


1977 O-Pee-Chee #175

Played 1970 – 1985
1970’s Teams: Indians, Rangers, Orioles

1970’s Highlights:
Was a member of the 1979 Orioles team which beat the Angels in the ALCS but lost to the Pirates in 7 games; Hit a walk-off pinch-hit homer to win Game 1 of the 1979 ALCS; Hit a pinch-hit two-run double in Game 4 of the 1979 World Series; Was obtained by the Blue Jays in a December 1976 trade with the Indians, but was traded back to Cleveland at the end of Spring Training, so he never played for the Jays

Career Highlights:
Won a World Championship with the Orioles in 1983; Was inducted into Orioles Hall of Fame in 2015; Over his career he played every position except for pitcher and catcher

Fun Stuff:
Has played the most Major League games of anyone born in Montana; Majored in Anthropology at UC Riverside

Card Stuff:
His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card shown above features a Spring Training photo and a note about being traded back to Cleveland; His 1978 Burger King Texas Rangers card was an “update” of 1978 Topps, where he was pictured with the Indians

1978 Burger King Texas Rangers #21


1975 Topps #154

Played 1967 – 1981
1970’s Teams: Braves, Reds

1970’s Highlights:
Won a World Championship with the 1976 Reds; Had career highs in 1973 in average (.294), runs (74), RBI (82) and homers (14); In the first game of a doubleheader on July 3, 1970, Lum hit 3 homers and drew a bases-loaded walk in his four plate appearances

Career Highlights:
Was the first American of Japanese ancestry to play in the Majors… his mother was Japanese, and his father was an American serviceman and he was adopted by a Chinese-Hawaiian family; Was the first Hawaiian to play in the postseason; Was one of just six players ever to pinch hit for Hank Aaron

Fun Stuff:
Was the record holder of games played by anyone born in Hawaii until he was passed earlier this season by Kurt Suzuki; Was a football star in high school and got a football scholarship at Brigham Young; Played a season in Japan for the Taiyo Whales

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; Shares a high #’ed 1968 rookie card with Larry Hisle


1974 Topps #360

Played 1970 – 1984
1970’s Teams: Phillies

1970’s Highlights:
One of the top sluggers of the 1970s; Luzinski was the NL’s starting left fielder in the 1976, 1977 and 1978 All-Star Games, and was also named to the team in 1975; Hit the final homer at Montreal’s Parc Jarry, 9/26/76; Finished 2nd to Joe Morgan in 1975 NL MVP voting; Finished 2nd to George Foster in 1977 NL MVP voting with 9 first place votes; His 34 homers in 1975 was 3rd in the NL and 4 behind teammate and league leader Mike Schmidt; Played in the NLCS in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and hit 4 homers over the combined 11 games

Career Highlights:
Had four seasons of 100+ RBI; Hit 307 homers over his career; Was a four-time All-Star; Won a World Championship with the 1980 Phillies; Played for the White Sox in the 1983 ALCS

Card Stuff:
Appeared in all five 1970s Hostess sets; His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card does not have the All-Star banner at the bottom (so you can see his knees)

Potential Projects From The Water Buffalo Lodge Show

As I’d mentioned in my previous post, I recently went to a local card show and I’ve chosen to refer to it as the Water Buffalo Lodge Show, since that has more meaning for most people than the actual location… assuming that “most people” have watched The Flintstones and knows what I’m talking about, anyway.

I didn’t go into the show looking for new projects, I’ve got plenty as it is, thank you very much.  However, because I was open-minded and relatively reckless (by my standards) with my money, I may have gotten a start on some new projects… or maybe I didn’t.

The first possible project is 1976 Topps Football.

Although I started collecting baseball cards in 1974, 1975 was my “breakout year” for card collecting.  When there was nothing else to collect for 1974 and 1975 Topps baseball (because I finished both), I turned to another sport and went nuts over 1975 Topps Football. I busted a lot of packs that fall (and finished the set in 2013) but never really got into football the same way after that. I bought a fair amount of 1976 Football, but it wasn’t the same for me and I would never again get into football the same way as I did in 1975.

So why would I think about working on the 1976 football set when it was a bit of a letdown after my favorite football set of all time? Well, I do have about 120 cards still kicking around from my childhood, but one of the key reasons I would consider completing the set is because…


[Looks around, leans in and whispers conspiratorially]

…One of those 100+ cards I’ve had since I was a kid is the Walter Payton rookie card.

Having a key card that is so very much “key”, I almost feel obligated to work on the set.

…But I don’t know.  I do have a head start, but it’s only about 23% of the 528-card set and I’m a little afraid it won’t be as much fun as completing 1975 was for me.

LIKELINESS OF THIS BECOMING A PROJECT:  Not a great chance in the next few years, but never say never.

One type of card I never bought as a kid was basketball cards.  Almost nobody I knew followed basketball, and when I did try to follow it – because it was a team sport and I was eager to get into any team sport – it didn’t go anywhere.  The only basketball cards I had as a kid were ones which came to me largely by accident.

But still, when you’re talking about the 1970s I won’t rule anything out completely.

I don’t really have a favorite team or player that would normally be the center of a collecting project, but I’ve come to realize that there is one aspect of 1970s basketball that doesn’t fail to make me nostalgic:

That red, white and blue ABA basketball.

The basketball didn’t survive the NBA-ABA merger, but it lives forever in our hearts… or at least *my* heart.

I ran across these two cards at the show, and couldn’t help but pick them up… they both have a nice shot of the ball and they’re just generally fun cards (especially since the Memphis Sounds was a one-season rebranding of the Memphis Pros/Tams and would fold before the next season began).

The thing with this project is that I want to figure out some ground rules which are more specific than “collect cards with the ABA ball”.  One thing I’ve decided is that I want only those cards where you can see all three colors of the ball.  I also would probably limit things to standard-sized cards, which would eliminate the tall-boy-sized 1976-77 Topps.  Beyond that I don’t know what form it would take.  I’m thinking of trying to get as many teams included as possible represented, but I feel like I need more ground rules than I already have.  Suggestions are welcome.

LIKELINESS OF THIS BECOMING A PROJECT:  This will happen once I’ve figured out how I want to approach this.

1977 Topps Hockey is the first hockey set I chased as a kid, and it was a set I did have plans to complete a few years ago, but it kinda got sidetracked by my Dead Parrot project, plus here in Shlabotsylvania you just don’t run across vintage hockey very often. When I ran across this nice-looking card in a dollar bin…

…I jumped at it.  Even if I don’t move forward with 1977 Topps Hockey, this is a card worth having as part of a general hockey collection.

What I hadn’t noticed at the show was that the card wasn’t quite the deal I thought it was… Some kid decided to use the back to solve a math problem.

I honestly don’t care. The front of the card is nice, you can still read the back, there’s no paper loss, it’s all good.

LIKELINESS OF THIS BECOMING A PROJECT:  Pretty good, but I’d rather finish off some of my other projects first, plus I’d prefer attacking this project with a local source of vintage hockey – I don’t enjoy the chase as much when it’s done entirely online.

I loved Fleer in the 1980s and I’ve grown to love 1963 Fleer baseball as an attractive oddball set.

There’s a part of me that always says “Go after the whole set, it’s only 66 cards!” Of course, my brain leaves out the fact that those 66 cards include Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Warren Spahn, Carl Yastrzemski, the Maury Wills RC and the short-printed Joe Adcock, some fairly high-priced cards that would not fit into my budget all that well… unless it were THE top priority, which it isn’t.

LIKELINESS OF THIS BECOMING A PROJECT:  Probably not, but if nothing else I’ll finish off the Orioles and probably go after the Colt .45’s and Senators (I’ve already got the Mets team set)

In the greater scheme of things, the Water Buffalo Lodge show did not change the trajectory of my collecting life, but I had fun and got cards I’m happy to add to my collection.  In an upcoming post I’ll feature a card I got that’s a well-loved white whale, plus some other highlights of my show haul.

2021 TSR Daily: Yoán, Yusei, Ozzie and Gwen

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily )

Ozzie Albies was named to his 2nd All-Star team and his 59 RBI leads the league

Yoán Moncada is 3rd in the Majors with a .403 on-base % and was a finalist in All-Star voting (although after all the dust settles on injuries and such, he could still make the team)

Earlier this season Josh Donaldson was credited with scoring Major League Baseball’s 2 millionth run. There are rumors that the Mets are interested in him, which makes long-time Mets fans shudder at the thought of another “young prospect for an aging 3rd baseman” deal.

Time for the fist insert… 60 years ago, a girl name Gwen Goldman wrote the Yankees and volunteered her service as a bat girl. This type of thing just wasn’t done in 1961, and the Yankees politely declined her offer. This past week, she was brought to Yankee Stadium as a guest of honor and got to throw out the first pitch. It’s a fun story I’m not doing justice on, so go search on “Gwen Goldman” to get a better recap.

The D-Backs are 3-26 since June 2 and Merrill Kelly has all three of those wins, going 3-1 over that same span. In his last start (July 1st) Kelly got an RBI single for his second career hit and first since 2019

The Rangers’ Kyle Gibson, who was recently named to the AL All-Star team, is 6-0 with a league-leading 1.98 ERA. This is even more impressive when you consider that on Opening Day he was staked a 5-run lead in the top of the first, was rocked for 5 runs in the bottom of the 1st and his ERA was 135.00 after that first game. The Rangers are in last place and on a pace to lose 98 games, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kyle Gibson pitching somewhere else come August.

Sean Manaea leads the league in CG’s (2) and Shutouts (2), and was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for June.

Yusei Kikuchi was named to the 2021 AL All-Star team, Kikuchi’s first such honor in the USA. He’s currently 6-3 with a 3.18 ERA and 93 K’s

I think I’ve seen too many TV commercials recently, because in thinking of Kikuchi my brain keeps ‘playing’ Lisa Loeb singing “Yusei, I got a crack in my windshield…”

I’ve been on a custom kick this past week, so I got to catch up on my highlights inserts (but I won’t share them all right now, there was quite a backlog). It seems only fitting that I pair up a couple of highlights which both happened on June 25th…

First off, four Cubs pitchers combine to no-hit the Dodgers. Ho-hum.  For me, the Dodgers involvement is the highlight of this no-no.

I’ve got another two no-hitter “Highlights” customs to share, and maybe by then there will be a couple of more to add to my backlog.

That same day in Queens, Aaron Nola struck out 10 consecutive Mets to tie a National League record set by Tom Seaver.  I’m happy for Nola, a guy I semi-collect after seeing him pitch in the minors, but did it *have* to be the Mets?  On the other hand, it’s cool that both events happened on more-or-less the same site given that Citi Field was built next to Shea Stadium.

And that’s it for this week!

The 1970’s, A To Z: Paul Lindblad to Jim Lonborg

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.


1974 Topps #369

Played 1965 – 1978
1970’s Teams: A’s, Senators, Rangers, Yankees

1970’s Highlights:
In the 1973 World Series, Lindblad got the win after pitching two scoreless relief innings in Game 3;  In that same game he was the last pitcher to face Willie Mays, getting him to ground out in a pinch-hit at bat; Combined with Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott and Rollie Fingers to no-hit the Angels on the last day of the 1975 season;  was on three World Championship teams (1973 & 1974 A’s, 1978 Yankees);  would’ve gotten the last win in Senators history had the game not been forfeited because of fans rushing the field;  His 66 appearances in 1972 was the most in the American League

Career Highlights:
Had 385 consecutive errorless games

Card Stuff:
Appears in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; Appeared in 1979 Topps with the Yankees, but had been purchased by the Mariners in November 1978 and then cut at the end of 1979 spring training


1970 Topps #249

Played 1965 – 1975
1970’s Teams: Brewers, A’s, Cubs

1970’s Highlights:
Won a World Championship with the A’s in 1972; In the fall of 1972 Locker was traded from the A’s to the Cubs for Bill North… a year later he was traded back to the A’s for Horacio Pena… a year after that he went back to the Cubs as part of a package for Billy Williams; Got the first save in Brewers history in an 8-4 win over the White Sox 4/11/70

Career Highlights:
Pitched in 576 career games without a single start;  lead the AL with 77 appearances in 1967;  pitched for the Seattle Pilots and moved with the team to Milwaukee

Card Stuff:
Locker’s 1973 card has him airbrushed into a full Cubs uniform… but very clearly without a number on his back; Because he ‘rode the shuttle’ between the A’s and Cubs, his 1974 Topps Traded card has an actual photo of him in an A’s uniform, rather than the typically airbrushed uniform. Similarly, his 1975 card has him in a Cubs uniform while the other three players in the same deal are all airbrushed


1976 Topps #166

Played 1969 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Brewers, Angels, Mets

1970’s Highlights:
Was a starting pitcher with the Brewers but was converted to a reliever when he was traded ot the Angels; His 19 saves with the Mets in 1976 was 2nd-most in the NL; Was part of a 9-player trade between the Brewers and Angels in October 1973

Career Highlights:
Broke into the Majors in 1965 as an 18-year-old “Bonus Baby” infielder with the Kansas City A’s and was converted to a pitcher in 1968

Card Stuff:
Appears in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; Shares a 1965 rookie card with Jim Hunter and John Odom; His 1975 card has a note on the back about his being traded to the Yankees, but he never played for the Bronx Bombers, instead having been released at the beginning of the season; Appeared in 1981 Topps and Donruss, but not 1981 Fleer


1975 Hostess #6

Played 1963 – 1979
1970’s Teams: Tigers, Mets, Padres

1970’s Highlights:
Had two 20-win seasons and two seasons where he lead the league in losses; In 1971 he won 25 games, lead the league with 308 strikeout and got 9 first place votes while finishing 2nd to VIda Blue in AL Cy Young voting; His 300 K’s that year is still a Tigers’ single-season record; In 1972 he won 22 games, struck out 250 and finished third behind Gaylord Perry in Cy Young voting; Got a Save in the 1971 All-Star Game; In 1975 he passed Warren Spahn as the lefty with the most career strikeouts and he finished with 2,832, but has since been passed by Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson; Lolich retired after the 1976 season with the Mets, but came out of retirement to pitch in relief for the Padres in 1978 and 1979

Career Highlights:
Was named the MVP of the 1968 World Series after winning 3 complete games and finishing with a 1.67 ERA and 21 strikeouts; Holds Tigers career records with 459 Games Started, 2,679 strikeouts and 39 Shutouts; Won 217 career games; Held a Tigers record with two 16 strikout outings, a record since broken by Anibal Sanchez

Fun Stuff:
Was a natural righty, but learned to throw lefty as a boy because of a broken right arm; Played “First Security Guard” in a 1977 movie called “The Incredible Melting Man”; His one career home run came in the 1968 World Series; His cousin Ron Lolich was an outfielder and appeared on a 1971 Topps White Sox “Rookie Stars” card

Card Stuff:
Because he was retired in 1977, he did not appear in 1978 Topps, but he otherwise appeared in every Topps flagship set from 1964 to 1980


1974 Topps #342

Played 1965 – 1979
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Brewers, Phillies

1970’s Highlights:
Pitched just one season for the Brewers sandwiched between two large multi-player deals, but Lonborg left a mark on the team… He had a team-high 14 wins and 143 strikeouts; He was the last Brewers pitcher to bat before the implementation of the DH; Pitched a scoreless 22nd inning to get the save in the Brewers 22-inning 4-3 win over Twins 5/12/72; Had a resurgence with the Phillies, winning 17 games in 1974 and 18 games in 1976

Career Highlights:
Won the 1967 Cy Young award while he was with the Red Sox… That season he went 22-9, 3.16 with 246 strikeouts, 15 complete games and 2 shutouts and lead the league in wins and Strikeouts; Had 2 CG wins in the 1967 World Series; Was inducted into the Stanford University Hall of Fame

Fun Stuff:
Got a degree in dentistry after he retired as a player, and maintained a practice until 2017; In the TV show “Cheers”, the photo behind the bar that was supposed to be Sam Malone during his playing days was actually a picture of Lonborg

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