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.

Fast Five: Airbrushed Hostess Cards

I’d planned on getting back on a regular posting schedule this week, but I’m finding the break to be restorative, plus I got a large box of cards from A Cracked Bat.  It’s quite the eclectic box and it’s going to take quite a bit of my hobby time to go through it (and scan a bunch of cards, because I see several posts coming out of it).

…And by the time I’m done with that I should be getting my shipment from COMC.  Plenty of good stuff coming your way!

But in the meantime I hope you’ll enjoy a couple of Fast Five posts… Today I’m featuring five Hostess cards which feature airbrushed uniforms.

1977 Hostess Andy Messersmith

Messersmith turned two excellent seasons with the Dodgers into a big (for the time) contract with the Atlanta Braves.

1978 Hostess Bruce Bochte

The Mariners signed Bochte as a free agent (he’d been with the Indians in 1977) and he rewarded them with a career year, batting .310 with 38 doubles, 81 runs and 100 RBI.

1978 Hostess Mike Torrez

Mike Torrez bounced around for a few years, being involved in trades which included a bunch of big names (Ken Singleton, Dave McNally, Don Baylor, Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman, Dock Ellis) and signed with the Red Sox as a free agent.

1979 Hostess Alan Ashby

The Blue Jays traded Ashby to the Astros for Joe Cannon, Pete Hernandez and Mark Lemongello, all of whom would play for the Jays but none would have a tremendous impact.

1979 Hostess Sparky Lyle

Sparky Lyle was the Yankees’ closer, won the Cy Young in 1977 and then the Yanks got Goose Gossage the following year and Lyle was eventually traded to Texas in a 10-player deal which would bring Dave Righetti to the Bronx.

I feel like the Topps airbrush artist should get some recognition for including the button and buttonhole from the Rangers’ Henley jerseys.

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Oh! Oh! Oh! Ohtani! …And Other Customs

The jingle for a chain of auto parts stores popped in my head while I was trying to think of a Shohei Ohtani-related title for this post, so I decided to go with it.

With Ohtani officially signing with the Los Angeles Angels, I decided it was time to fire up my relatively-ancient copy of Paint Shop Pro and get to work on my first “Photoshopped” Hot Stove card of the season.

The downside of being the first is that I’m out of practice;  I haven’t photoshopped someone into a new uniform since last February.  Hopefully you won’t notice the difference, but I look at it and see things I could’ve done better. Ah, well… No matter…

One thing that occurred to me is that if Ohtani has any sort of success – and likely even if he doesn’t – we’re going to see an onslaught of rookie cards, inserts, Topps Now and other online exclusives, the likes of which we haven’t seen since… um… Well, if you’re tired of Aaron Judge now, you’ll probably be tired of Shohei Ohtani in December, 2018.

I spent a fair amount of time waffling about which statistical category to use for this week’s “2017 Leaders” card, but finally decided on doing Total Bases.  This category gives us three players from the two 1993 expansion teams, and gives us one last look as Giancarlo Stanton as a Marlin.

Charlie Blackmon lead the Majors with 387 total bases.  That’s 127 singles, 35 doubles, 14 triples and 37 homers.

Giancarlo Stanton came up second with 377;  77 singles, 32 doubles, no triples and 59 homers.  It’s interesting how different Blackmon’s totals and Stanton’s totals are.

Nolan Arenado was third with 355;  100 singles, 43 doubles, 7 triples and 37 homers.

For the record, Jose Abreu came in 4th overall and 1st in the American League with 343 total bases.

As for Stanton, it’s looking like he’s going to the Yankees, which is a good thing for first-time manager Aaron Boone.

I don’t have anything against Aaron Boone, but as a Mets fan I am morally and legally obligated to wish nothing but ill on the Yankees, so here’s hoping that he’s unable to find enough playing time to keep his multitude of outfielders happy.

It’s been a while since I posted a sheet of U-KNOW-M stamps… “You love ’em because U-KNOW-M!”

Remember to look for U-KNOW-M stamp albums at your favorite virtual retailer!

Gigante is a mascot for the Single-A San Jose Giants; he amuses me because he kinda sorta reminds me of a friend of mine from High School (I guess that may not be the nicest thing to say about someone, but anyway…)

I screwed up a bit when I picked out the subjects of these stamps.. I thought that today would have been Kirsty MacColl’s birthday, but it was actually October 10th. Since it’s December, you may be hearing her sing with The Pogues on the Christmas-themed “Fairytale Of New York”. She had a few solo Top 10’s in the UK, but was largely unknown in the US… but if you listened to the right radio stations in the 1990’s, you might know songs like “Walking Down Madison”, “In These Shoes?” or “I Can’t Stop Killing You”. I found out about her from two songs on a 1989 mix tape, and she one of my favorite musical artists. Sadly, she was killed in an accident in 2000, but she’ll always have a special place in my music collection.

Although I originally knew her from The West Wing, Allison Janney really caught my attention on the short-lived Matthew Perry vehicle “Mr. Sunshine”…. She was easily the best part of that show. This stamp was originally intended to publish on her birthday, but in another birthday mishap I blew way past that.

…As Maxwell Smart would say, “Missed it by THAT much!”… or perhaps “Sorry about that, Chief!”

Fast Five: Action Shots From 1975 Topps Football

“Fast Five” is meant to be a quick posting of five cards along some kind of theme with a minimum of writing. I’ll freely admit that, given where I’m at this week, it’s either a few “Fast Five” posts or the blog going dark for a week or two. I hope you’ll agree that “Fast Five” is the preferable option.

Today’s post features some of my favorite action shots from 1975 Topps Football, the only football set I’ve ever completed.


Although this is Greg Pruitt’s card, the Steelers’ “Mean Joe” Greene is the one who catches your eye.

The quarterback that Bill Stanfill is about to staple to the turf is the Bills’ Joe Ferguson.

This photo is probably from the same Dolphins-Bills game as the Bill Stanfill card.  Assuming it’s from 1974 and in Buffalo, then the game was on September 22 and the Dolphins won 24-16…. and that’s Larry Csonka (#39) watching on the sidelines.

Lawrence McCutcheon tries to evade the Redskins’ Chris Hanburger.

This last card has me mildly intrigued…  #25 would seem to be the Colts’ Ray Oldham… but Oldham was a defensive back and Zabel was a linebacker.  So why would they be on the field at the same time?

Guesses:  1)  Special teams?  2)  The photo’s old enough that #25 was somebody other than Oldham  3)  The photo’s old enough that it shows Zabel as a tight end, which he was in his 1970 rookie season (but the Eagles jersey doesn’t seem to match what they were wearing in 1970).

For what it’s worth, the Colts did play in Philly in 1974;  September 29th and the Eagles won 30-10.

Fast Five: Card #339 From 1974 – 1978 Topps Baseball

Why #339?  Today is the 339th day of 2017.

Why 1974 to 1978?  Those are the first five sets I collected, the first five I completed and among my all-time favorite sets.

Yeah, OK… but WHY?  Because I need to devote time to organizing my collection, which means I wanted some ideas for posts I could do without much mental effort… and featuring five different cards with the same card number from those five sets seemed like a potentially fun idea.  I guess we’re about to find out if this is the case…

#339 from 1974 – All-Star Pitchers (Jim Hunter and Rick Wise)

You’re probably not surprised at Catfish Hunter starting the 1973 All-Star Game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the most you know about Rick Wise is that he’s the guy the Cardinals got for Steve Carlton in 1972.

In the All-Star game, Rick Wise pitched 2 innings and got the win.  Hunter got a no-decision.  Rick Wise had also been traded after the 1973 season, so his regular 1974 card shows him airbrushed into a Red Sox cap.

#339 from 1975 – Jim Fregosi
Speaking of players who were traded for future HOF pitchers… Jim Fregosi was a 6-time All-Star, but those days were well behind him in 1975.

You know what struck me about this card when I was pulling it out of the binder?  Yes, it’s miscut, but why is there a strip of yellow at the top?  Every 1975 Topps uncut sheet I’ve seen is laid out so that the bottom color of one card is the top color of the card below it on the sheet…  A  miscut 1975 Fregosi like this should result in more red at the top, not a yellow strip.  Anybody have any insight into this?

#339 from 1976 – John Denny

John Denny’s 2.52 ERA in 1976 was best in the N.L., and he was just 23 years old.  He’d win the Cy Young in 1983 with the Phillies.

#339 from 1977 – Adrian Devine

Adrian Devine actually played for the Rangers in 1977, after a 12/9/76 trade.  His 1978 card shows him with the Rangers… but Devine had been traded back to the Braves on 12/8/77.  Just to screw with Topps one more time, Devine was traded back to the Rangers on 12/6/79, but he appeared with the Braves in the 1980 set.

#339 from 1978 – Mario Guerrero

Guerrero played his last game with the Angels in 1977.  He signed with the Giants as a free agent in November 1977… and at the beginning of the 1978 season, he was sent to the A’s as the “Player To Be Named Later”  in the trade which sent Vida Blue to the Giants.

Just to make it even more fun from a baseball card standpoint, Guerrero’s first game of 1978 was against the team he’s pictured with.

Customs, 1972-Style: Arcane Leaders, Canadian Football And… 3-D Hockey?

A little while ago I posted which featured, among other things, a 1970 Kellogg’s Football card. In the comments, Hackenbush speculated on how cool a Kellogg’s Hockey card would’ve been. That got my wheels turning, and since I’ve been getting ready for my Faux-3D “Hot Stove” customs, I figured I’d tease it (plus work out a couple of kinks in my template) by creating a couple of customs featuring current NHL players. Here’s the first:

The NHL and I had a falling out over a dozen years ago – not that the NHL knows the difference – so I don’t currently have a favorite active hockey player, not exactly. The Sabres’ Jack Eichel is someone who caught my eye when I saw him on TV playing for Boston University, and at the moment “I’ve heard of him and have maintained a favorable impression of him” is as close as I get to “he’s my favorite hockey player”.

I wanted to do a second 3-D custom, so I figured I’d make a “Thanks for the idea” custom of one of Hackenbush’s Blackhawks.  As is often the case, the second effort proved to be the better one.

One thing I’ve noticed after doing these two customs is that hockey arenas don’t provide the best “faux-3D” backgrounds. I’ve found that the 3-D effect works best when the background has lines and contrasting colors (as one gets with ballparks). I also should’ve kept the puck (the blur in the lower left) as part of the foreground.


Towards the end of this past season, I had an idea that had been floating around in my head, waiting for the right vehicle.  There were so many strikeouts this year – Aaron Judge had an astronomical 208 and there were over 40K for the Majors as a whole – it would be nice to somehow honor the batters who struck out the fewest times. This idea kinda floated around for a while, until I also had the idea that it might be fun also honor those players who lead the Majors in other less-publicized statistical categories.

Earlier this week I went looking for something to use as a template, looked at various League Leader cards from the 1970’s, and decided on this:

You may recognize that this is not an exact copy of a 1972 Topps Leader Card… First off, I didn’t want to go absolutely nuts and make customs for each league, so instead of “A.L. Leaders” or “N.L. Leaders”, it’s going to be an implied “Major League Leaders”… and because it’s a different type of Leader card than the original 1972 cards, I also changed up the color scheme.

As for the honorees… Based on a minimum of 502 plate appearances, Joe Panik set the pace by striking out just 54 times, “Sideshow Bob” impersonator Yuli Gurriel was in second with 62 K’s and Andrelton Simmons was third with 67. Others who did us proud included Jose Ramirez, Didi Gregorius, Brandon Phillips, Miguel Cabrera, Daniel Murphy and Mookie Betts.

I intend to do more of these “Leader” cards, and I welcome any suggestions for statistical categories… just leave a comment.


After using the 1972 Topps and 1972 Kellogg’s designs for customs, I felt like I should do something else related to 1972 and I thought of the 1972 Topps football template I had worked out a little while ago… But what to do with it? Even though I’ve been a Steelers fan for 30+ years and they’re one of best teams in the AFC, they’re leaving me cold this year, for reasons I don’t fully understand. (Well, other than I really don’t like Roethlisberger, despite his accomplishments). I don’t currently have a favorite Steeler; that title went unclaimed after Heath Miller retired.

…Then I thought about last weekend’s Grey Cup game. The Grey Cup is the Canadian Football League’s championship game, and even though I didn’t watch it or really follow the CFL, I’d heard it was a very exciting game.

That’s when I found out that one of the highlights of the game involved the Toronto Argonauts’ defensive back Cassius Vaughn scoring a 109-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery (Canadian football fields are 110 yards long), and I knew I had my final custom.

I couldn’t get the video of this to embed in this post, but you can check it out on the CFL’s website by going here.

 

More Olympic Curling Customs: The USA Men’s Team

The Team USA Curling Trials concluded two weeks ago, and in the process we found out who would be representing the US in the 2018 Winter Games.

Last Saturday’s post was about the Women’s Team; this time we’ll be representing the Men. Team Shuster lost the first game to Heath McCormick’s team, but rallied back to win games 2 and 3 to win the spot in Pyeongchang.

John Shuster, John Landsteiner and alternate Joe Polo have been to the Olympics before, but this will be the first time for Ty George and Matt Hamilton. Hamilton is the brother of Becca Hamilton, who’s on the women’s team going to Pyeongchang.

The US Men finished in a 3-way tie for 7th in the 2014 games, but Team Shuster made the playoffs in the 2017 World Men’s Curling Championship back in April.

The US Men would lose the Bronze Medal game to Switzerland, 7-5.

This will be skip John Shuster’s 4th Olympics. He was on Pete Fenson’s team which won Bronze in 2006, and he also represented the USA in 2010 and 2014.


Elsewhere in Olympic qualifying… The Canadian qualifying event, Tim Hortons Roar Of The Rings, starts today in Ottawa. You may remember that Canada took both the Men’s and Women’s Gold in Sochi in 2014…  Here are the 1973-style customs I made nearly 4 years ago to commemorate those teams:

Both of these teams are competing for another shot, but there’s always plenty of competition in any type of Canadian curling championship.

This coming Tuesday sees the beginning of the World Curling Federation’s Olympic Qualification Event in Pilsen, Czech Republic.  This will determine the final two countries for the Men and Women.  For the Women, the competition is between China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy and Latvia.  You may notice that this is only 7 teams;  Norway had qualified for the event but the Norwegian Curling Association decided not to send a women’s team.

For the Men, it’s between China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia.

Quick note for those of you who prefer non-curling customs:  You’ll get your turn tomorrow.

Vintage Cards Of 1970’s & 1980’s Managers

I’ve got nothing prepared and I’ve got nothing to say, so I was poking through my folders of scanned cards from recent – and not-so-recent – shows, and I hit upon a theme that I like to collect to some degree: Vintage cards of players I remember as managers.

I’ll start off with Bill Virdon, because he was my starting point for this collection. Bill Virdon was the Yankees manager when I first started following baseball (and when I actually liked the Yankees). If you’ve been with me for a little while, you’ve seen your share of Bill Virdon cards.

This Billy Gardner card figuratively wears two hats in my collection: He played for the Orioles and he managed the Twins from 1981 to 1985, as well as most of the 1987 season with the Royals

Whitey Herzog is in the Hall Of Fame as a manager; He won 3 pennants and 1 World Championship with the Cardinals and three consecutive division titles with the Royals.

Here’s your Mets fun fact for the day… Whitey was a scout, coach and the farm director for the Mets from 1966 to 1972.

Steve Boros managed the A’s and the Padres in the 1980’s.

Because it’s a 1965 card and (unlike the Virdon above) I scanned the back, here it is.

OK, fine, this last card is cheating. Charlie Lau was a respected Major League batting coach in the 1970’s and early 1980’s – he died before his time in 1984 – but never managed in the Major Leagues.