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.

Pack Animal! – 2006 BBM 2nd Version (Japanese)

The other day I reached into my stash of unusual unopened packs and grabbed a pack of Japanese baseball cards… just because I hadn’t opened any in a while.

This is the wrapper from 2006 BBM 2nd Edition…

Here’s the back… I presume the information is similar to the back of a pack of Major League cards.

First card:  Tsuyoshi Nishioka.  You might remember Nishioka from the time he spent with the Minnesota Twins in 2011 and 2012.  After his stint with the Twins (and a couple of their minor league affiliates), he returned to Japan to sign with the Hanshin Tigers.

And here’s the back:

Nobuhiko Matsunaka is a two-time MVP who spent his entire 19 year career with the Hawks and won the Triple Crown in 2004 (.358, 44 HR, 120 RBI)

Jeremy Powell pitched for the Expos from 1998 to 2000 and then pitched in 8 seasons in Japan.  During 2002, his best season, he lead the Pacific League with 17 wins, 182 K’s and 4 shutouts.

While I don’t love the design, I would say that having an Aurora effect on the bottom is an interesting way to fade out, and to provide a dash of color.

Nobuhiro Matsuda from the “Youth Explosion” subset.  Matsuda is still playing for the Hawks;  he’s a 9-time All-Star, 7-time Golden Glove winner and a 5-time Japan Series champion.

Since it’s a different subset than we’ve seen, I’ll share the back as well.

Here’s another Youth Explosion card, this one featuring Koji Aoyama.

Aoyama is still pitching for the Eagles and is a two-time All-Star.

Atsushi Fujimoto played for the Tigers for 9 years, and then with the Swallows.  He’s currently a coach with the Tigers.

Here’s a Hanshin Tigers checklist card.

I wouldn’t normally show the back of a checklist – or the front, for that matter – but hey, these are Japanese cards, and how often do you see a Japanese checklist?

I appreciate how the back is broken down into subsets and inserts.

Hitoshi Tamura from the “Interleague Topics” subset.  Your guess is as good as mine what this is about.  Tamura played for the BayStars, Hawks and Dragons, and won a Gold Medal representing Japan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

From the back it seems to have something to do with a particular Interleague game.  I was a little surprised to see that the game was from May 21st of the same year this pack came out, so that gives a bit of an idea of when these came out.

…And that’s the pack. In case you’re interested, I opened a pack of 2006 BBM 1st Version four years ago and you can see those cards here (BTW, they have a different design than these).

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Belated Gratitude: Cards From “Dime Boxes”

Yesterday I dumped out a bottle of seltzer from the fridge.  Y’see, I had this idea that I’d try to replace at least part of my soda habit with some seltzer flavored with lemon juice or some such… but I put it off enough that it fell through the many cracks in my brain.  Yesterday the bottle re-entered my awareness, I looked at the bottle and found that the “Best By” date was from 2017.

Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time with this blog (and most other things in my life) jumping to my next idea before I’d finished the previous ones.  One result of this is that I’ve got a big ol’ backlog of gratitude towards my trading buddies.  Like the countless emails in my inbox, the only way to deal with it is to just get started and stick with it a bit.  I promise I won’t dump a constant stream of “Thank you for these cards from 2 years ago” posts, I’ll spread them around a bit.

So this post is for a number of cards sent to me by Nick of the Dime Boxes blog.  I got these cards six months ago, scanned them and then… I don’t know.  My life needs simplifying, that’s all I can say.

One thing which hadn’t occurred to me until I got this 2001 Topps American Pie card of Bobby Grich:  One doesn’t see American Pie cards out in the wild much.  I thought this was just a matter of perception until I wanted to find out what year this card was from and searched COMC for “American Pie Grich” and came up EMPTY… even when I included sold-out cards.  Is it possible that this card has *never* been sold on COMC?

I didn’t buy a whole lot of American Pie back in 2001, and a big part of that was this awful, fugly design.  Like the “Ted Williams Card Company” products that preceded it by a few years, the concept was good, but the execution was… um… questionable.  Still, I can’t help but love the photo here, even if it’s just your typical posed Topps shot.

I’m thinking this photo might be from the same photo session as the image on Grich’s 1972 card (which, sadly, I don’t have scanned otherwise I’d include it here).  The photo is definitely from between 1970 and 1972, as Grich started wearing #3 in 1973… plus that’s the original Yankee Stadium scoreboard in the background, which puts this photo as no later than 1973… But I’m going with 1971, maybe 1970.

These 2001 Upper Deck Legends Of New York cards can be a little overdone as well, especially the felt-like logos.  I can look past it for a photo of a young Ed Kranepool.

I normally don’t go for sparkly Bowman inserts, but…

I’ve been gradually accumulating these 2014 Bowman Platinum “Bowman Is Back” inserts, mainly because I really liked the 1989 Bowman cards these are paying tribute to, and also because there aren’t any “non-shiny” versions of these cards.

BTW, the blue tint comes from my scanner, the card doesn’t look like this in-hand.

I completed the 1975 Topps set back in 1975, but I was happy to get this Rusty Staub, because it’s actually a 1975 Topps Mini!

Since I’m not a huge parallel guy, I only have a couple of these as a novelty… but lately… well, there’s a story for another day, but to summarize:  The Yount and Brett rookies keep me from thinking about completing a Mini set to go with my regular set (and my mini wrapper), but I’ve become open to having more than just a couple of representative samples.

Late 1990’s Pacific Crown Collection cards can be gaudy with all the foil, but like the American Pie cards I don’t seem to run across these very often, and that makes them kinda cool.

I’ll wrap up with a vintage Orioles card…  I have to admit, before trading with my fellow collectors, I didn’t make much of a priority of collecting vintage Orioles.  Although I’ve been a baseball fan since 1974, I didn’t become an Orioles fan until I started dating Mrs. Shlabotnik in the mid-1990’s… and *she* wasn’t an Orioles fan before 1983.

However, when my tradin’ buddies started to send me vintage O’s, I welcomed them into my collection and it got me thinking about chasing after certain team sets and at least accumulating cards from other sets.

And that brings us to Frank Bertaina’s 1965 Topps Rookie card.

Since this is a 1965 card and I love the backs of these cards more than any other card set, I will show the back of this card (even though the cartoon isn’t one of the better one’s you’ll find)

And then I tried to find out more about Frank Bertaina.  I looked at his card backs, and this card mentions Frank pitching a one-hitter during a September 1964 pennant race…

…And pardon me while I go down a quick rabbit hole. I didn’t recall any stories about the Orioles in a 1964 pennant chase, so I looked… The Yankees won the pennant that year, but the White Sox were just a game behind and the Orioles finished two games behind. Wowzers! I knew the Yankees lost to the Cardinals that year, so I wondered if the Cardinals were better-rested going into the Fall Classic.  I looked at the NL standings… and the Reds and Phillies finished one game behind the Cardinals, plus the Giants finished just three games behind. ZOINKS! That must’ve been a hell of a season!

…FWIW, my Mets lost 109 games and finished 40 games behind St. Louis. Hee hee…

End of rabbit hole

Looking at other card backs for Bertaina just shed light on the fact that he and Mike Epstein were traded to the Senators for two-time All-Star Pete Richert… oh, and that even though Bertaina pitched for the Orioles in 1966 and 1969, he didn’t pitch in either World Series.

So I looked at his Baseball Reference Bullpen page, and it talked about his five seasons with the AAA Rochester Red Wings, how he lead the International League in strikeouts and is a member of the Red Wings Hall of Fame. OK, that’s pretty telling in and of itself.

I was about to give up on finding anything else of interest when I noticed his nickname on his Baseball Reference page: “Toys In The Attic”. Teammate Moe Drabowsky apparently gave him this nickname because of Bertaina’s eccentricities, although I couldn’t find any specific examples, only many sources (including card bloggers) repeating the fact that Moe Drabowsky gave him this nickname.

Before I get off this 1965 card, I said “Oh, maybe I should chase the 1965 Orioles team set… it’s before Jim Palmer and Frank Robinson, and I’ve already got fan-favorite Boog Powell plus HOFer Robin Roberts, so maybe it’s just Brooks and High Numbers? So I looked at the key cards… and I forgot HOF Luis Aparicio PLUS Brooks is featured on the AL RBI Leaders card which also includes Harmon Killebrew (ow) and Mickey Mantle (OUCH!). Brooks also appears on the Batting Leaders card which features Tony Oliva… and Boog Powell appears on the Home Run Leaders card which features Mantle (OUCH again). So a team set is achievable within my budget… but it would hurt to pay a “Mantle Tax” on those leaders cards.



BEFORE I GO… A big THANK YOU to Nick for these (and many other) cards! The six month lag time does not reflect my gratitude for your generosity!

2019 TSR: More Men On The Move

My lawn badly needs mowing and its a nice day for August, so I’m going to make this fairly brief and get on out there.

Zack Greinke was traded at the deadline for a number of prospects, giving the Astros an even more formidable rotation and – much to my dismay – most likely sending Shlabotnik favorite Brad Peacock to the bullpen once he returns from the IL.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was faking some 1970’s airbrushing when Greinke signed with the D-backs.

The Giants didn’t seem to be going anywhere this year, but they were a game above .500 in June and 19-6 in July. They decided not to sell off at the deadline and even traded for Scooter Gennett… and have gone 3-7 in August.

This all worked out pretty well for the Mets and Joe Panik. Panik must’ve seen the writing on the wall when the Giants got Scooter, and they were kind enough to DFA him around the same time that the Mets’ Robinson Cano went down with an injury.

Joe Panik was already a guy I liked, so I was happy with the move (and I’m keeping my expectations of Panik’s bat on the modest side).

Nicholas Castellanos got his wish by being traded to a better team. I was a bit surprised to find out that this is the first Cubs custom I’ve done for 2019 TSR.

By the way, I’ve decided that for future custom sets, when I’m making up some “promo cards” of a new design to make sure it works in number of situations, I will be using NICHOLAS CASTELLANOS as my “long name test”.

Jonathan Villar is here because I’m trying to get back to featuring a Met and an Oriole in each post. (And to the smart asses who are undoubtedly snickering at this… yes, there *are* Orioles worth featuring.)

I’m in my 46th season as a Mets fan, so I’ve had plenty of times where I got my hopes up only to have them tossed off a very high cliff and dashed on the rocks below. A month or so ago I expected nothing out of this season other than hopefully setting the groundwork for a more successful 2020 season, but the Mets have been raising eyebrows with their recent tear.

They’re now just a half-game out of the 2nd wild card spot, much to my surprise. I will enjoy things as much as I can, while keeping in mind that the Mets giveth and the Mets taketh away.

If You Leaf, Don’t Leaf Now

1960 Leaf is a relatively new addition to my collection… I got my first ones three years ago, just as a fun vintage oddball.  I suppose it inadvertently sprouted from The Great 1968 Topps Game Insert Chase Of 2014 – 2016.  While I was chasing that set, I looked through a lot of boxes of vintage oddballs and one thing lead to another.

So a few months ago, CommishBob of the Five Tool Collector blog featured a number of 1960 Leaf cards, I made an off-hand comment about collecting all of the Orioles some day, and the next thing I know I’ve got a PWE containing three O’s from the set… including a very important Oriole indeed…

So we’ll start with Milton Steven “Milt” Pappas.  Milt was coming off a 15-9 season, which isn’t too shabby by itself… and then I’ll add that Milt was 20 years old and the team as a whole went 69-85 that year.

The back of Pappas’ card says that manager Paul Richards “has confidence that he is one of the young Orioles hurlers who will be dependable for many years”.  I  always wonder if this was actually said, or if it’s just some happy horse hockey that somebody decided is the kind of thing a manager would say.

Moving on to James Hoyt Wilhelm…  I never realized that Hoyt was his middle name.  At this point this card came out, Wilhelm was 37 years old and just over halfway through his HOF career.  Compared to some of his contemporaries, he looks pretty good for 37.

It’s interesting that the back of Wilhelm’s card starts off by touting catcher Gus Triandos’ ability to catch the knuckler.

And I’ll wrap up with the generous cherry on top… Orioles Hall Of Famer Brooks Robinson!

You know this card is from early in Brooks’ career when the back talks about his time in York, San Antonio and Vancouver… And because I like to know these things, this refers to the York White Roses of the class-B Piedmont League, the AA San Antonio Missions of the Texas League, and the AAA Vancouver Mounties of the Pacific Coast League.

Normally a card like this would have me declaring that having the key card from a team set means that I will go ahead and chase after the team set.

…And I will…

…but not now, and I’m thinking not until next year.

As much as I enjoy and appreciate these cards, I’m feeling overwhelmed by my collection right now…

I’ve brought 4,500 cards into the house just since the beginning of the year – I don’t know about you, but that’s a whole heck of a lot for me – and many of those remain in various “in boxes” waiting for me to deal with them.

I’ve promised myself that I will not take on any new projects for the rest of 2019.  After I’ve dug myself out from the mess I’ve made, I will likely start working on an 1960 Leaf Orioles team set.

A big old “Thank You”, once again to CommishBob for his unexpected (and continued) generosity!

 

My Favorite Cards Numbered # 63 …and Weigh in #63

I’m always willing to try something different here, especially with the “weigh-in” posts that I pledged to maintain when I started this blog. This time around, I’m going to try merging two recurring themes of this blog: The Weigh-in and the “Let’s take an arbitrary number and see which cards have that number!” post. In this case, I’m using 63 as that arbitrary number and looking through my database to see what fun cards have #63 on the back.

These weigh-in posts are part of an ongoing goal of mine to streamline my collection, to get rid of the clutter and leave just the cards that I love, either individually or as a part of some greater project which I love. By posting quarterly updates on the organizing and streamlining of my collection, I get a good look at the big picture and – because I’m making it public – I find that doing this keeps me somewhat honest and helps with motivation and/or guilt.

It’s almost always guilt these days.

But before I get into the number crunching, let’s get to the first card numbered 63…


1978 Hostess #63 Dave Winfield

I think I appreciate Dave Winfield more now than I did when I saw him play, but part of that is the my knee-jerk reaction to anyone who played for the Yankees: “Aaaaaah, he’s not so great, he just gets hyped because he’s a Yankee”. 1978 saw Winfield named to his second of 12 All-Star teams.

There’s no questioning that I appreciate 1970’s Hostess more than I did in the 1970’s. Part of that is just because it gives me a chance to chase cards from years where I’d finished the Topps set decades ago.


Changes since the last weigh-in (from 4/4/2019 to 7/10/2019):
Net change in the collection: +299 (448 added, 149 removed)

Net change to the # of cards in the house: +445 (979 in, 534 out)

On the surface these numbers aren’t bad, but they’re still going in the wrong direction and there are storm clouds on the horizon…


1956 Topps #63 Roger Craig

1956 Topps generally falls into the ‘Nuff Said category for a list like this, but Roger Craig has seen the highs and the lows: He’s pitched in four different World Series, plus as a member of the Mets he was also a two-time 20 game loser (10-24 in 1962, 5-22 in 1963).


Totals since I started tracking on 10/16/2011:
Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 12,544
Net change to the collection, to date: +5,295

I don’t want to think about the last time this “net change” number was negative.


1970 Topps #63 NL RBI Leaders

The first of two Leaders cards I’m featuring here.  Willie Mac lead the National League with 126 RBI, Ron Santo had 123 and Tony Perez was close behind with 122.  For the record, Harmon Killebrew lead the Majors with 140, and Boog Powell finished 2nd in the AL with 121 RBI (just behind Tony P.)


Totals to date:
Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 51,108
Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -16,806

I always try to focus on these numbers when I’m not making great progress… Even with all the added bloat of the last year or two, I’m still better than I had been at the start.


1970 Fleer Laughlin World Series #63 1966 Orioles vs. Dodgers

The Orioles swept the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series, and Frank Robinson was the MVP. The Dodgers lost the first game 5-2 and got shut out in the other three. Daaaaaaamn.

I was just a baby in 1966, but 2019 Joe heartily approves of this result.


Size of the collection:
Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 66,573
Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 14,201

…which means I’ve got at least 80,774 cards in my collection


1975 Hostess #63 Steve Carlton

Another HOFer on a Hostess card. Gotta love it. 1975 was something of a pedestrian season for Carlton as he didn’t win 20 games, didn’t lead the league in any categories, wasn’t an All-Star and didn’t win a Cy Young Award.


Money spent on cards:

This quarter (this does not count money spent on show admission, shipping, supplies, etc) $177.21
Year to date: $540.31
Average per month for 2019: $90.05

The monthly average is continuing the trend of 2018, but is much higher than the monthly average of 2017 (the year I started tracking my spending).


1977 Topps #63 Tito Fuentes

It wouldn’t be a Tito Fuentes card without his trademark sweatband. Tito was the starting second baseman for the Tigers in 1977, and if there was a traded set that year, he would’ve been in it.


Size of my MS Access card database:
A few years ago I created an Access database and began tracking my collection in there. There’s quite a bit of work involved in keeping it up-to-date, so I like to satisfy my own curiosity by finding out how much information is currently in my database.

My database currently contains 927 (up 16 from the last weigh-in) and 229,442 card definitions (up 3,158 from the last weigh-in).

It’s important to point out that this is merely the number of sets and cards which are represented within my database; for example, although I have no cards from 1949 Bowman, that set represents 1 set definition and 240 card definitions.


1973 Topps #63 – RBI Leaders – Johnny Bench, Dick Allen

Interesting that the two Leader cards #’ed 63 are both RBI Leaders; only one was NL and this one is both leagues. Since this card only shows the two leaders, I’ll mention the #2 and #3 guys in each league:
NL: Billy Williams – 122; Willie Stargell – 112
AL: John Mayberry – 100; Bobby Murcer – 96


A few words about my lack of progress, numerically:

The fates have not been kind to me in 2019. Focus and discipline are what I’ve needed, but because there wasn’t a single retail set that completely grabbed me this year I’d try a little of this, a few blasters of that, without fully devoting myself to any one chase.

Also, after over a decade without a recurring local show, we’ve got one which includes fun nickel and dime boxes… I’ve also run across a number of smaller sets on some dollar tables, and it’s easier to buy a complete 1989 Topps Leaders set for a buck than to chase down those five or six cards I want. All this is great for entertainment value and trade bait, but not so good at helping me emphasize quality over quantity.

I normally have an 800-count box that I use for my “in box”, but now I’ve got that full of retail purchases and cards from my generous trading buddies. Also, since the July 10th cutoff date of this post, I’ve been to a regional show, a local show and received a shipment from COMC.

Oy.

I need to start “fasting” and keep organizing the cards I’ve already got.


…But GOOD NEWS for you, the reader… I’m done talking about my numbers and I still have two favorite #63’s to go!


2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions #63 – Rachel Homan

I’ve only got a dozen or so curling cards, so it’s a bit unexpected that one of them happened to be #’ed 63. As a skip, Homan is a three-time Canadian champion and one-time World Champion.  As I pointed out the first time I posted this card, Upper Deck’s olde timey filters were not kind to Rachel, as this looks less like her than it should, and makes her look older than her (at the time) 25 years.


2002 BBM Hanshin Tigers Extra Edition #63 – Go Kida

I know very little about Go Kida, but even the most common of Japanese cards is exotic enough to be a favorite.

Thank you for getting this far!  I promise there won’t be another weigh-in until October!

2019 TSR: Men On The Move (Plus “Scoops” For A No-Hitter)

The trade deadline has come and gone and I’ve been trying to find decent photos of players in their new uniforms.  It’s not always easy in a short timeframe, but I’m happy with what I’ve got.

Since I’m a Mets fan, I’ll start with the Mets’ surprising new acquisition, Marcus Stroman.  Stro struggled a bit in his Mets debut last night and got a no-decision.

To me, one of the strangest sights of the post-deadline world is seeing Yasiel Puig in a Cleveland uniform.  I was just getting used to him being with the Reds.

Speaking of the Reds and not getting used to players in new uniforms, the idea of Homer Bailey with the Royals hadn’t really sunk in at all, and then he was traded to the Athletics in the middle of July.

I was also surprised to find out that I had never made a final decision on which colors to use for the Athletics.  I hope this combination works for any Oakland fans out there.

Because of the draft pick compensation associated with Dallas Keuchel, he did not sign with a team until after the Draft.  So far he hasn’t been the All-Star pitcher of 2017, but I’m not sure he was last year either.

I’m going to wrap up with one of my “Scoops” customs.  I’m way behind on these, but I wanted to do a quick one for last night’s combined no-hitter by the Astros. Much has been made already about the fact that starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez made his Astros debut in such a spectacular fashion, but reliever Joe Biagini was also making his debut in Houston, so I made sure to recognize that (and the other two pitchers) in my custom.

Sorry about the quickie post, but I’ve got a full day planned.  I hope to have more traded players next Sunday.

After The Prospects Have Gone

So the trading deadline has passed, and your team might have a different look than it did a few days ago… and maybe your favorite player is with a new team.  With it likely comes a change in who you’re collecting.  If you’re an Indians fan, you probably will stop collecting Trevor Bauer cards once he starts showing up on Reds cards… unless you’re a particular fan of Trevor Bauer, anyway.

But what about the prospects who changed teams, especially the ones who have yet to make it to The Show?  I’ve run into this with a number of Mets prospects who have appeared on Bowman and Pro Debut cards… The Mets traded top prospects Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenec to the Mariners in the Robinson Cano / Edwin Diaz trade last winter and recently sent Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal.

For the longest time, I had the same attitude as most team collectors:  If he’s shown in a Mets or Orioles uniform, I want that card.  Lately though, with all the high-end cards and pricey online exclusives, that take on team collecting is constantly being chipped away.  Beginning a year or two I started questioning whether I really needed all of the Bowman cards I have.  Former Mets prospect Nick Santomauro peaked in A-ball; if not for his 2010 Bowman card, I’m not sure how much I’d remember his name today.  Same for Greg Pron and his 2012 Topps Pro Debut card.  Would I miss these cards if I got rid of them?

That leads me to the next question I’ve been asking myself:  Should I continue to chase those cards of players who may never play for the team I’m collecting?

As you can see from this recent screen shot of my card database, I’ve started to go ahead and “unwant” these four prospects (except for the cards I already have).  The last column in this screen shot is the “want level”.

For those handful who might be interested, I set up the “want level” with 1 being “want”, 2 being “would like” and -1 being “don’t want”… and this is “don’t want” in the sense of “I have specifically removed this card from consideration” as opposed to “I have not given this card any thought one way or the other”.  I flag the “don’t wants” so that, in the future if I’m going through all of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies cards in the database, I can see that Justin Dunn was specifically removed from my wantlists, rather than just being overlooked.

By the way, I may continue to collect Anthony Kay cards during his time with the Blue Jays (or any future teams) because he’s from the same part of Long Island that I’m from and I kinda sorta collect those guys (since nobody from my actual High School gets on cards).

…But I’m curious about how *you* feel about this. 

For example, if you’re an Astros fan and don’t already have this 2018 Bowman Draft card of J.B. Bukauskas, would you still chase after a guy who only got as far as AA with the Astros before being shipped off to a team in the other league?  Bukauskas, BTW, went to the Diamondbacks in the Zack Greinke trade.

And Reds fans might have a similar issue with Taylor Trammell, who’s on this 2019 Bowman Prospects card.  He got shipped to San Diego in the three-team Trevor Bauer / Yasiel Puig deal.

Do you keep collecting any cards of him in a Reds uniform?  What do you do with the cards already in your collection (and I think there’s a bunch of Trammell already).

What about those cards which show him with the Daytona Tortugas or Dayton Dragons?   Do you chase former prospects on unlicensed cars like Panini or Onyx?  What if they appear with Team USA?  Or in their college uniform but with your team’s city listed on it somewhere?

I’m honestly curious about that… Leave a comment, let me know what you would do (or are doing)!