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.

1932-33 Sanella Margarine “Handbuch des Sports” – Curling

I’ve been meaning to share this for a while; It’s the latest addition and oldest card in my Curling card collection, a collection which has reached 11 cards.

This is from an early 1930’s German set called “Handbuch des Sports”, which literally translates to “Sports Handbook”. it was issued in 1932/33 and is printed on larger-than-standard, relatively thin stock. It’s similar to some of the “stamps” of the 1960’s in that it’s meant to be pasted into a book, but you provide your own adhesive. Interestingly enough, the “handbuch” is not just some soft-covered stamp album, it’s a hard-covered book with detailed writeups on many sports. I found this example from a Heritage Auctions lot.

From a North American standpoint, the highlight of the set is a card of Babe Ruth, but it also includes world famous athletes like boxer Max Schmeling and figure skater Sonja Henie, as well as a variety of sports like Polo, Cricket, Ice Hockey and most intriguing (to me, anyway), “Korbball”, which seems to be a sport similar to basketball or netball (on the off chance you’re familiar with netball).  Korbball is apparently specific to Germany.

I was excited to add to my small Curling collection, but unfortunately this card is about 2 3/4″ x 4 1/8″, which means it doesn’t go in the 9-pocket pages with the rest of the collection it now belongs to.  For the time being, it sits on my desk in an oversized toploader.

Here’s the back; Truth be told with this, it’s the old Germanic fonts which cause me more problems than the German language.

Aside from being able to add to my Curling collection, it’s fun to be able to add a collectible from another country.  Off the top of my head, I’ve got cards from seven different countries – eight if you count England and Scotland as separate countries, rather than being part of the UK.

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Custom Virtual Wax Pack For April 21, 2019

I’m pressed for time today, so this post is going to largely be “random notes with customs”.

When I looked at my fantasy team this morning, reviewing the roster with stats from the last 7 days, I said “Holy cow” when I saw Eddie Rosario’s stats.

For the week, Rosario batted .393 with 7 homers, 10 runs scored, 11 runs batted in and 2 doubles. It doesn’t hurt that Rosario played in a doubleheader against the O’s yesterday, where he went 5 for 9 with 4 runs, a double, three homers and four RBI.

Oh, and in the field he also robbed Chris Davis of a homer… So yeah, a pretty good week.

Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis also had an eventful week.

Friday morning he thought he’d be playing a weekend series against the Syracuse Mets; instead, he flew from Syracuse to Detroit to Tampa Bay on Friday, and made his MLB debut Saturday night with a pinch-hit double in his first at bat.

I was excited when the Mets got Edwin Diaz from Seattle this past winter. He currently has 7 saves and a 1.17 ERA, so I’m still excited about the deal.

I guess the full measure of the deal will come in a couple of years when we see whether the Seattle-bound prospects pan out.

The Cardinals’ Jose Martinez is a guy who seems to have flown under my radar for the past couple of years. For instance, I didn’t realize that he has a .310 career batting average, 121 runs and 139 RBI over 290 games. He’s not quite an All-Star, but still a solid player.

I also didn’t realize he was the son of former White Sox and Indians player Carlos Martinez or that he’d played in the White Sox, Braves and Royals organizations before making his MLB debut at the age of 26.

The Orioles picked up Dan Straily after the Marlins dropped him towards the end of Spring Training. It’s funny how the Orioles have three bearded veteran pitchers in their rotation, and all of them have given O’s fans their share of agita this month.

I’m going to wrap things up with a “Scoops” custom inspired by one of yesterday’s games… The O’s were getting blown out by the Twins, which resulted in Chris Davis making his second career pitching appearance… and giving up a home run to former Orioles teammate Jonathan Schoop.

I hadn’t realized that Davis made his first pitching appearance in 2012; It doesn’t seem that long ago. He’d pitched well, which was a 16-inning affair where Crush pitched two shutout innings and got the win.

I know it’s only 2 appearances separated by 7 years, but on his career Davis is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA and averages a strikeout for every inning.  That’s not really any worse than other members of the Orioles pitching staff.  I’m not saying Davis should get regular work, but maybe send him out there a little more often than every 7 years.

1992 Sports Illustrated For Kids… Plus Weigh-In #62

Whenever I’m going through dime or nickel boxes, there are several types of cards which catch my attention and usually get me to just grab whatever I find without any thought to whether I need them or not.

1976 SSPC cards are always a “buy first, ask questions later” proposition.

MLB Showdown cards are another favorite. Even though I don’t play the game, part of me loves the fact that I *could* play the game if I so desired.

When I went to a local show in February, there was a guy with nickel boxes, and just from glancing at the tops of a section of cards in the box, I knew he had a third type of “Don’t think twice, it’s alright” cards…

Sports Illustrated For Kids!

I don’t care if the card features a baseball player I collect, or features an Olympic Gold Medalist from a sport I don’t follow…

…Sports Illustrated For Kids cards are just too damn much fun to pass up… and these were a nickel apiece!  I went ahead and took everything he had and added them to my stack.  There were a few from other years, but most of them were from 1992.

And this 1992 design… I mean, there’s no doubting this is from the early 1990’s.

As a character from a very famous 1990’s TV show might say, “Could it BE more Nineties???”

These cards are just too damn much fun.


(Darrell Waltrip says “Boogity, boogity, boogity!”)

But the thing is that as much as I enjoy getting these cards, I don’t have a lot to say in this blog about the cards, so I thought I would combine the scans with my quarterly “Weigh-In” post.

So on to the standard run-through of what these weigh-ins are about: It’s 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.

I find that posting updates on the organizing and streamlining of my collection gives me a look at the big picture, keeps me honest and helps with motivation and/or guilt.

There’s almost always “guilt” involved these days.

So let’s get on to the numbers…

Changes since the last weigh-in (from 1/1/2019 to 4/3/2019):
Net change in the collection: +687 (687 added, 0 removed)
First quarter of a year is something of an uphill challenge because of the new products. This time around, I also happened to have two shows in two months, which rarely happens to me anymore… Plus the one show involved the aforementioned nickel boxes (that’s 422 cards right there) and the second show I bought a wax box of 1990 Pro Set Hockey (which I’ll tell you about when I get a chance to write about that show). Most of the Pro Set cards will be going back out the door at some point (at the very least, into the recycling bin).

Net change to the # of cards in the house: +1,926 (2,206 in, 280 out)

Not too bad, all things considered.  Obviously I’ve got a backlog of cards I’ve acquired but haven’t moved into my collection.

Totals since I started tracking on 10/16/2011:
Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 12,395
Net change to the collection, to date: +4,996

Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 50,574
Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -17,251

Size of the collection:
Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 65,015
Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 13,970

…which means I’ve got at least 78,805 cards in my collection

Money spent on cards:

This quarter (this does not count money spent on show admission, shipping, supplies, etc) $363.10
This is kinda a lot for me, but it’s also extremely unusual that I go to two card shows in the space of two months.

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 199 set definitions (up 19 from the last weigh-in) and 226,284 card definitions (up 3,323 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, it represents 1 set definition and 240 card definitions.

Last August I Tried To Predict The Designs Used In 2019 Topps Archives… How’d I Do?

The answer to how well I did on my predictions from last August is… ummmm… Not well.

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember that The Shlabotnik Report is also out on Twitter!

Nah, I’m not getting out of it that easily. I thought I had a decent handle on how Topps picks designs, and in 2017 I got two out of three right for the 2018 Archives.  This time around, I… uhhh… Well, let’s go through it one by one.

The first design (1950’s / early 1960’s)

What I predicted:  The 1961 design.  Back in August, I said “It’s never been used in Archives before, plus duplicating a design doesn’t get much easier than this.”  By the way, this custom is from August, which is why Sergio Romo is shown with the Rays instead of the Marlins.

What Topps is going with:  1958 Topps.  This is a design that’s never been used in Archives.  In August I had suspected that divorcing the player from the photo background was more effort than Topps would want to put into a set like Archives.

One thing that was noticed by a number of people before I caught on:  Jeets’ head is in front of the text, something that didn’t happen in 1958 Topps.

Moving on to the “middle” set…

I predicted the 1985 design.  I figured it was popular, simple to re-create and hadn’t been used in Archives since 2013.

What Topps is going with:  1975.  This choice made me raise my one eyebrow and say “Fascinating” in my best Mr. Spock voice.

Why is it fascinating?  Because I didn’t think that 1975 was even in play;  This same design will be used for 2024 Topps Heritage, a mere five years away.  This short of a timeframe between Archives and a similar Heritage set is unprecedented.  On the other hand, 1975 is a popular design and has not been replicated for Archives before.

Fun little touch with the Ohtani:  In 1975, there was only one Angel with the purple/magenta border and that was Nolan Ryan (although on the original the player’s name was in white, not black).

Just for funsies I made an image with the top of an original and an Archives Angels card (and cranked up the brightness/contrast on the Archives so we could see the drop shadow better).  The original is on top.

The font’s not quite the same, but I suppose it’s close enough for Archives.  It’s also somewhat satisfying that the Archives card isn’t really any better than what I did last year for my Olympic Curling customs (pauses to pat himself on the back).

OK, I don’t mean to distract from the fact that I’m Oh-for-Two at this stage.  Let’s get on to…

The Third, “later” design:

In August I did a ‘Hail Mary’ and predicted a set that had never been done for Archives before, the 1988 design.

Instead, Topps surprised me again by going with the 1993 design which – repeat after me – had never been used in Archives before.

1992 was the last year that Topps used “real” cardboard for their set, so I thought/guessed that it might be the upper limit of Archives.  It appears that I was wrong.  I’ll be interested to how the card stock for the 1993 design differs from the other two “subsets”.

I did another side-by-side comparison of the 1993 Topps design and the 2019 Archives replication.  The font for the player name is different, which looks like it might be less legible than the original (but which I’m less concerned about because I’m not a huge fan of 1993).

OK, so I got completely shut out on my predictions this time around.  As they say in the corporate world, “What are the Lessons Learned?”

  1. Topps is not averse to tightening up that “No-Fly zone” around their Heritage sets.  Before now, there had appeared to be a 15-year “No-Fly Zone” around the current Heritage set, but it looks like this gets changed to 9 years – the current year plus four years before and four years after. (1970 design for Heritage means a “No-Fly Zone” from 1966 to 1974).
  2. Topps is also not averse to a little heavy lifting for designs like 1958 (and, hopefully, for 1988 in the future).
  3. While the “Nothing from the past 25 years” rule holds fast, the “Nothing outside of the true cardboard era” rule is apparently shot to hell with the use of the 1993 design.

So that’s the rundown of my epic fail.  With that out of the way, what do you think of the designs chosen for 2019 Archives?  Are you more or less likely to collect the set?

I’m not sure myself…  1993 is OK but not a favorite, I like 1958 and I went nuts for 1975 as a kid.  I don’t think I’ll know how hard I’ll chase these until I get the cards in hand and see what kind of emotional triggers are… um… triggered.

A Pack Of Custom Cards For 4/14/19

So right off the bat I’d like to thank everybody for the kind words in the last post…

Second, I’d like to apologize for missing last Sunday; life’s been busy, plus I share a new challenge facing many custom card makers: The well-organized website I’d used to get many of my images is now out of the baseball image business, so It’s much more time-consuming to find usable images for my customs. Under the old M.O. I might say “I’m going to make a custom showing Andrew McCutchen with the Phillies”, and then gone out and found the Cutch image I liked best. In this New World, I go out looking for Cutch and coming up empty, but I come up with a couple of good photos of Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, so that’s what we end up with.

Until I get my feet under me with this, I’ll be going wherever the internet takes me.

…Such as this custom of Starlin Castro (with a Michael Conforto cameo). Good action shot, decent shot of the new Marlins’ uniform.

Is there a Major League team that is currently more difficult to be a fan of than the Marlins? It sometimes feels like each gate at Marlins Park should have a sign reading “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”. Yeah, I know the Orioles suck as well, but their fandom situation doesn’t seem to be quite as dire to me… Maybe I’m just too close to be objective.

The Yankees are one of those teams where it’s difficult to come up with good “baseball card team colors”, because the uniforms are navy, white and (for the road) grey. One can’t go so wrong with red and blue, but those colors could be used for 3/4 of the teams in MLB.

In the past I made a point of giving the Yankees and Marlins – both at the top of my “List O’ Disdain” – the worst color combos in a given set… Magenta and purple, fr’instance… but this year I decided to cut them a break. Ideally nobody would have the ‘worst colors’, because they’d all be good in their own way.

I’m a fan of the Mets and Orioles, so ideally each one of these virtual packs of cards would have a Met and an Oriole in it. Last week I featured one of my favorite young O’s, Drew Jackson. Young Mr. Jackson had been taken in the Rule V draft, and of course, shortly after I posted my custom, he was put through waivers and returned to the Dodgers organization after just 3 games.

Hopefully the same doesn’t apply to Dwight Smith, Jr. The O’s acquired him from the Blue Jays early in March and it looked like a genius move the first few games of the season. He’s not kept up his initial exciting pace, but he’s played well enough to stick in left field on this team.

I’d forgotten that Dwight Smith Sr. had played for the Orioles for a brief period in 1994. If Junior maintains his starting job for a couple more weeks, he’ll become the all-time Orioles named Dwight Smith leader in games played.

Nice photo of Jacob deGrom, and there’s no arguing him as part of any Mets set. Last year we had to get used to deGrom with short hair; this year, he’s added a beard.

I just barely know who Leury Garcia is, but I ran across this photo and said “That will work well on a custom”.

The White Sox are another team where there isn’t an obvious color combo to use, but the flip side is that almost anything will work. At least they have a history with red.

Last time around I’d shared a custom of my pseudo-tribute to the 1961 Nu-Cards “Scoops” set. At the time, I wasn’t sure how far I’d take it, but now I’m a little more confident that I’ll keep it going. I’m not going to document every game, or even every Mets or Orioles win; what I do hope to document is anything about the 2019 season I’d like to look back and remember to some degree. It will often involve the Mets and O’s, but not always… as the three examples here will highlight.

Yeah, it’s deGrom again, but one can’t ignore 14 strikeouts and a home run by the pitcher.

Over time we may find that the Orioles taking two of three from the Yankees in the opening series was the highlight of the season, but it was a fun highlight nevertheless (although less so for the Yankees).

I don’t hate the Yankees quite as much as I used to – moving out of metro New York had a lot to do with that – but because of the arrogance that permeates the organization and it’s fan base, I can’t resist taking the occasional jab at the team, when jabs are warranted.

To quote a Joe Jackson song, “Think of this as just another tiny blow against the empire / Another blow against the Evil Empire”.

Quick note for those who care about those things: If you didn’t notice, my headline fonts are colored to make for three “subsets” within my 2019 TSR Scoops set; blue for Mets, black (actually dark gray) for the Orioles, and “traditional Scoops” red for everybody else.

One other thing: For those of you on Twitter, I’m sharing more of these “Scoops” customs there than here in the blog. You can check out those tweets (and others) through this blog’s Twitter account @Shlabotnik_Rpt. I do want to emphasize that it truly is the blog’s Twitter account; I may wander off-topic at times, but I keep things PG-rated and – possibly most importantly – apolitical.

OK, enough plugging. Have a good week, everybody!

1980’s Desert Island Binder Part 10… ten… Ten… TEN for EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING!

The 1980’s song that inspired the subject line is from an album which was very popular in my college dorm. I’ll get back to that at the end of this post.

John Denny was acquired by the Phillies late in the 1982 season, with Jerry Reed, Roy Smith and Wil Culmer going to Cleveland in exchange. Denny pitched four games for the Phils in the last couple of weeks of September, which apparently was not enough time for Topps to get a useable photo.

Denny was clearly so inspired by the airbrushing that in 1983 he went 19-6, 2.37 and won the Cy Young award.

It’s worth noting that Denny’s 1983 Fleer card has a head-shot of him with the Phillies, but Denny’s 1983 Donruss card shows him with the Indians and lists him with the Indians on the front, but with the trade to Philadelphia listed in the “How Acquired” line and a note about how he “figured to be part of the Phillies rotation in ’83”.

Speaking of transactions, one of the things I wish to do with this 1980’s binder is to highlight what Nick over at Dime Boxes would call a “Short Term Stop”.  The sight of Pete Rose with the Expos is jarring enough that it deserves inclusion.

Rose, who would turn 43 in the early part of the 1984 season, had signed as a free agent with the Expos.  After batting a paltry-for-Pete .259 over 95 games, he was dealt to the Reds for infielder Tom Lawless (who himself would play only 11 regular season games for Montreal before getting traded to St. Louis at the end of Spring Training in 1985).  When this deal went through, the Reds fired manager Vern Rapp and named Rose their player/manager.

I’m not as big of a fan of 1987 Topps as many others are, but cards like this one give me a bit of insight as to why the set is loved by so many.

Ruppert Jones would wrap up his MLB career in 1987 with the Angels, but he’d play with the Rangers’ AAA team in 1988 and 1989. Jones was the first player selected in the 1976 Expansion Draft to populate the rosters of the Mariners and Blue Jays (the Jays selected Bob Bailor with their first pick).

When Ruppert Jones was a 21-year-old rookie with the Royals, one of his teammates was the 37-year-old Tommy Davis, who was wrapping up his playing career which saw him win two batting titles and get over 2100 hits. In 1981 Davis was named the hitting coach of the Mariners (who were managed by another former Dodger, Maury Wills); this was not Davis’s first go-round in Seattle, as he was one of the top players on the one-year-wonder Seattle Pilots.

I guess it’s pointless to say “I wish coaches were on baseball cards” when we don’t even get managers on baseball cards.

One of the more famous corrected errors of the 1980’s was the 1988 Topps rookie card for Al Leiter.  I’m including both the correct version (showing Leiter, on the left) and the original error card (on the right, showing Steve George).  Although I don’t collect Leiter, he still maintains a “favored” status from his seven years with the Mets.

In a sense, Steve George got  his 15 minutes of fame through his card;  he spent most of his career in A-ball, peaked at AAA and according to TradingCardDB has only three TCMA minor league cards with his name on it.  I hadn’t realized it, but George’s last season was 1987, which he split between A, AA and AAA.

The 1989 Upper Deck set is a bit inconsistent, which I guess is to be expected for a startup company.  The photo on the front of the Doug Sisk card may not be the best in terms of composition, but I really like the shot of Sisk staring in while the batter waits.

1982 Fleer was a mess and a huge disappointment to me (I loved 1981 Fleer), but there were some good cards in it. I particularly like this shot of pitcher Steve Stone in front of a number of batting helmets – none of which were likely his, being an American League pitcher in the days before interleague.

Stone’s last MLB plate appearance came in 1976 with the Cubs, and judging by his .100 career average it would’ve been just as well that he didn’t have an Orioles batting helmet. He was just a bit better on the mound, peaking with his 1980 Cy Young winning season where he won 25 games – a full quarter of the O’s wins that year, a year where the O’s won 100 games and finished 3 games behind the freakin’ Yankees.


Almost forgot the quick summary of where the fictional binder stands…

I’m adding eight standard-sized cards, which brings the totals to…
Nine-pocket (standard sized): 7 sheets (63 cards)
Eight-pocket (1950’s sized): 1 sheet (2 cards)
Four-pocket (postcard sized): 1 sheet (2 cards)
Two-pocket (5″ x 7″): 1 sheet (1 card)


Getting back to that song… When I was in college, the debut album by the band Violent Femmes was in heavy rotation in my dorm. My original reaction was “What the hell is this?” but I grew to love the album, particularly songs like “Blister In The Sun”, “Add It Up” and this song, “Kiss Off”.  It doesn’t hurt that there’s an acoustic bass involved;  I’m a sucker for an acoustic bass.

I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record!

Not Even Enough Time To Think Up A Good Title

This is the state of the blog for early April: Plenty of ideas but little time to implement them.

Unfortunately it’s going to remain that way for at least a few more days, but I wanted to get *something* out here, so I figured I’d run through some recent acquisitions

One good thing I’ve been able to do lately is to send some fresh inventory to my COMC account. I sell my cards there to accumulate credit used to get other cards; in fact, I used some credit to get this Cash. (Insert rim shot here)

This is Dave Cash’s rookie card, and it’s odd to see this three-time All-Star in a black Pirates cap. Cash played for four different teams, but he was only an All-Star with the Phillies, and he was always an All-Star with the Phillies; he got the honor in each of his three seasons in Philadelphia.

This is also Johnny Jeter’s rookie card.  I hadn’t realized that his son Shawn played 13 games with the White Sox in 1992;  Shawn Jeter was also featured on a 1993 Topps “Coming Attraction” card (along with Stadium Club, Pinnacle and Donruss “The Rookies”).

Manny Mota in 3-D! When I’m able to catch up on my scanning, I’ll share some bigger Kellogg’s stars that I just picked up at a show last weekend.

Manny is another former Pirate (and Expo and Giant), but I find it strange to think of him as anything but a Dodger.

I picked up this card in my largely back-burnered attempt to complete the 1977-78 Topps Hockey set. I love how you’ve got the three different Bruins in the card, close up on the left, far away on the right, and Gerry Cheevers in the middle.

Here’s a fairly scarce oddball given the time of issue. This Angel Pagan card is from a 2012 Emerald Nuts giveaway at… um… the Giants’ corporately-named home (whatever it was called then and whatever it’s called now). I got this card because I like Pagan, and the photo is different than his standard 2012 Topps issues.

When watching the Winter Olympics last year, I found myself rooting for the Cinderella German team. During their surprising run, I went to COMC and bought a card of one of their best-known players, Christian Ehrhoff.

They always seem to do a decent job with these retro O-Pee-Chee inserts; the new designs often seem like they could’ve been used back in the day.

Wrapping up with a 1957 Hank Thompson I got just because I seem to have fallen into collecting Hank Thompson.

Years ago I got a 1952 card of his as part of a lot, and for the longest time it was the only 1952 card I owned. When I picked up a Red Man Tobacco card of his (because I pick up any affordable Red Man cards I run across), it seemed like I was going in a Hank Thompson direction, so I just decided to go with it.

OK, gotta run… I will do my best to get back on track here in the near future.