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.

2022 Diamond Kings – I Paid My Money, I Get To Blog About It

Instant buyer’s remorse.

It was based on the price of the pack, but that’s what I felt immediately after I pulled the trigger on a hanger pack of 2022 Panini Diamond Kings.  I was recently in Target and they had hangers and blasters of 2022 Diamond Kings. The sign on the hook for the hangers said $14.95;  Silly me, I figured the hangers were just put in the wrong place because the last time I bought DKs (in 2020) they were $9.95 for a 20 card hanger.

Wrong-o, the pack was $14.95.

Despite the painful-for-me 75 cents per card price – I am nothing if not consistently cheap – I went ahead and bought the hanger anyway.  This is what pack deprivation does to a guy.

The first card was of Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes:

I like the base cards, the design works well with the whole digital simulation of a painted card theme.  I’m also much more forgiving of the unlicensed cards when they’re presented in an artsy way… for the most part, anyway.

I’ll also point out that Panini is not immune to the 21st century visual design issues of not taking contrast between colors into account.  Putting the reddish city name in front of a green grass background does not make for legible text.

The backs are standard Panini stuff in terms of content and overall layout, but these are pretty nice looking.  For my own intentions with a set like this, the card back could have a large card number, the player name and the set name and I’d be good.  I’ll count my blessings that these card numbers are easy for my middle-aged eyes to read.

As usual there are legends like Babe Ruth.  I know a complaint about Diamond King in past seasons is that the same photos will carry over from one set to another.  I did a quick search on Diamond Kings and Babe Ruth and didn’t see this photo in previous years, but like I said, that was a quick search.

This Ryne Sandberg is pretty nice.

This Johnny Bench card is a candidate for “favorite card of the pack”.

I also got a Trey Mancini for my Orioles collection.  There’s something a little jarring about having sponsors in the background when there aren’t logos anywhere else, but that’s nit-picking.

According to the checklist, rookies come in four designs which seem to be harder pulls as we go along. I got several of the “Rookies I” design, which is OK if a little busy.

I got two cards from the retina-searing “Rookies II”.  This looks like a scientist peered into an electron microscope and discovered the world’s most infinitesimal pitcher.

I pulled just one of the houndstooth-for-no-apparent-reason “Rookies III”… which I might like better if the photo weren’t black and white.  I don’t see the need of a B&W image of a 21st century player, that’s Honus Bonus stuff.

There’s also a “Rookies IV” design, but I didn’t pull any of these… Spot-checking on eBay doesn’t turn up many, and there are no images on TCDB.

As for inserts, I got this “Elegance” insert of Shohei Ohtani, which isn’t bad.

There’s also this Maestros card.  I like the Jazzy motif, which looks better in person because of the gold foil

Every pack came with a “framed” parallel, which don’t interest me… but to be fair parallels in general don’t interest me.

I also got an “Artists Proof” parallel but I didn’t bother scanning it because it’s just a base card with a foil stamp.

On the whole I like this year’s cards, I got some cards to send to trading buddies and a few to add to my own collection… but THERE IS NO WAY I AM BUYING ANY MORE OF THIS THROUGH RETAIL CHANNELS.  I’ll go back to obtaining singles here and there through various means.

A Whole Lotta Customs – June 2022

I’ll just lay the cards on the table… Over the past 2 years I’ve leaned heavily on many of my fun diversionary tasks, maybe a little too heavily… Because of that, I’ve recently gotten burnt out on a lot of it. Please bear with me, I’ll work through it eventually. I always do.

Meanwhile, here are custom cards I’ve done over most of June.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Phil Nevin took the Angels manager job because he wanted to be able to wear the comfy manager’s hoodie.

The Angels’ Jared Walsh liked the team’s new City Connect uniforms so much he hit for the cycle against (*sniff*) the Mets. I didn’t care much for these unis when I saw the preview, but I have to admit they look pretty good on the field

On June 14th the Cardinals’ Miles Mikolas came within a strike of pitching a no-hitter. Had he gotten the no-no, he wouldn’t have had a shutout as the Pirates scored an unearned run on a 2-base error and 2 groundouts.

On June 18th Taijuan Walker pitched 6.2 innings, retired 18 in a row, struck out 9 and allowed 1 run.

Pirates rookie Jack Suwinski hit 3 homers on June 19th, the 3rd of which gave the Bucs a 4-3 walk-off win over the Giants

Andrew Velazquez has not appeared on an in-pack baseball card since 2019 even though he’s the Angels’ starting shortstop and has appeared in the majority of their games. You’ll probably see more of these “Should have a card” guys in the future.

The Orioles’ Austin Hays hit for the cycle in just 4 at bats – the game was called after 6 innings due to rain. The Orioles who had hit for the cycle before Hays: Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Aubrey Huff, Félix Pié and Jonathan Villar (who has recently been DFA’ed by the Cubs, much to my disappointment)

Reliever Camilo Doval, whose 11 saves leads the Giants and is 7th in the NL, does not yet have a Topps card outside of some Topps Now cards last year. He is a Rated Rookie in 2022 Donruss and also appears in Panini Diamond Kings. You wouldn’t think that Topps would hesitate to throw a rookie on cardboard, so I wonder if he doesn’t have a contract with Topps.

Yesterday Cristian Javier no-hit the Yankees for 7 innings, Hector Neris worked the 8th and Ryan Pressly finished it off and got the save.  I know there are those who don’t regard a combined no-hitter as a real no-hitter, and I get that… But anything that makes the Yankees look bad is a highlight in my book.

I don’t think I’ve shared this one yet… It’s pretty self-explanitory.

And I’ll close this out with the Players/Pitchers of the Month for May

Dollar Vintage From My Only Show Of 2022 (So Far)

The only show I went to in 2021 was a local show relatively close to home.  The only show I’ve gone to since then was the same local show last month, and it had the added complication of my having only 30-40 minutes to spend there.  It’s not a big show, but a half-hour is precious little time even at a small show.

As it turns out, it didn’t make much difference to me because my initial pass through the show resulted in a lot of “I’m not paying *that* price for *this* card”, so I ended up spending most of my limited time sorting through a bin of dollar vintage cards.  Even then, they were mostly well-loved commons so they weren’t particularly cheap, so I see it as pyaing a little extra for the entertainment value.

When all was said and done I walked out with 40 or so cards (some of which ended up being doubles, as the whole thing was a rush), and I’ll share some of them here just because Show ‘N Tell posts seem to be all I can finish these days.

This card has a bit of a story to it.  A little while ago I was poking through the 172 cards I have from 1969 Topps and I realized I didn’t have any Tigers from that set.  I’ve got a complete set of Seattle Pilots, near-complete sets of the Orioles and Mets (damn Nolan Ryan), about half of the Expos, but nothing from the Tigers.  At the time I told myself “I shall remedy this!” and then looked at who was in the 1969 Topps Tigers team set… and there was absolutely nobody who inspired the slightest amount of “Ooh, I’ll get him!” in me.  Fast forward to the card show when I ran across this well-loved Jim Price card, said “Eh, good enough” and that was that.

I knew nothing about Jim Price when I bought the card, but now I know he was a backup catcher for a few years and has been a Tigers broadcaster for 28 years.

Another 1969, this time for the Padres’ first star player Nate Colbert.  I go back and forth on collecting the four expansion teams from 1969.  On one hand, I love the idea of collecting a team’s first year… but the flip side of that is you get a lot of capless players like this.

Speaking of capless players, check out the hair on Vic Roznovsky.  I technically bought the card because he’s an Oriole here, but I haven’t committed to collecting the 1967 Orioles team set.  For now, it’s all about the hair.

I’ve decided that there’s just not a bad card of Wes Covington, just great ones and less great ones.  This card is also pretty beaten up.

I was surprised to find this card for a buck… it’s well-loved, but it’s also got Frank Robinson on it (as well as Jerry Lynch and Gus Bell, patriarch of a three-generation baseball family)

I flipped it over and got a better idea of why it’s a buck… but what the heck, it’s a buck.

I picked up this Don Mincher just because he would later be a Seattle Pilot.

And I’ll wrap things up with a couple of Houston Colt .45s, which have a strong “eh, what the heck” factor because of the long-gone uniforms…  Jim Golden spent most of 1963 with the Triple-A Oklahoma City 89ers before being sent to the White Sox in a trade for Nellie Fox

As a child of the 1970s I will always think of Dave Giusti as a Pirates reliever, but he started out with the Colts

And that’s it for now.  Stay tuned for more well-loved commons coming to this blog!

(Not At All) Strange Bru

I semi-recently (meaning within calendar year 2022) got a padded envelope full of goodness from Marc Brubaker (Twitter here, blog here) and as it’s been going with too many things in my life, I’m delinquent in properly showing off the cards and expressing my thanks.

I decided a while ago that I’m going to get a factory set of 2022 Topps, so I haven’t seen many of the inserts that come in 2022 Topps packs. This “Stars Of MLB” insert is pretty nice…. too bad Javy Báez has already moved on (and is batting below the Mendoza Line in Detroit, but that ain’t my problem)

The package included a bunch of 1990s Steelers, which were probably laying around waiting for someone like me to gleefully welcome them into his collection.  These two are from 1990 Score Football. Should anyone accuse me of being a bandwagon Steelers fan, I’ll point out that I remained faithful during the Bubby Brister era. The 1988 team with Bubby as the QB went 5-11, the fewest wins of my nearly 40 years as a Steelers fan (Jeez, I wish I hadn’t done the math on how long I’ve been following the Black & Gold)

In talking about Bubby I almost forgot to mention something I noticed while absent-mindedly staring at these cards: The border color fading to white and then doing a hard switch back to that same color is lifted straight from 1987 Fleer Baseball.  The main difference is that 1987 Fleer was just blue & white, while these are somewhat spectrum-y fading to white, and they change depending (I’m guessing) on the printing sheet they came off of.

A couple of 1991 Pro Set cards featuring favorites Rod Woodson and Tunch Ilkin. I have a black Rod Woodson replica jersey in my modest uniform wardrobe, but I’ll admit the main reason I got a Woodson jersey because I found one really cheap (not that I don’t love Woodson).

Gotta love the symmetry of this pair: #26 and #62, black jersey and white jersey, facing left and facing right

Woodson and Ilkin again, this time it’s their Pro Bowl cards from 1990 Pro Set. I haven’t acquired many football cards beyond about 2010, so I don’t know if an offensive tackle like Tunch Ilkin, All-Pro or not, would get a card these days. Maybe they do, I have no idea.  Why did I even bring it up?

There were a bunch of Steelers cards from 1990, 1998 and 1995, which is fine because I have a lot of Steeler needs.

The two on the bottom row are from 1995 Score, and even if I couldn’t tell from the front of the card, they look very much like something that would’ve come out in 1995.

And now we move towards the centerpieces of this package.

The package also included some cards for my Jim Wynn collection.  Wynn was the first Major Leaguer I ever “met”…  I was right next to him, but I was such a painfully shy kid that he handle the bulk of the interaction.  I did get his autograph, though.  Anyway…

Here’s Jim Wynn from 2001 Topps Archives, back when it was essentially a reprint set.  The 1964 card was Wynn’s rookie card, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Archives version is a little harder to find.

Next up is a custom version of Wynn’s 1968 Topps card. The original 1968 is a head shot with the cap blacked out, as was the case for many of the “Houston” cards of the day. This ‘re-do’ is much nicer than the original.

The last card I’ll feature is another custom, this one based on the design from 1962 Topps football.

For anyone who’s not familiar with 1962 Topps Football, here’s an original I’ve featured on the blog before

Unlike the 1968 re-do, this custom has a back! Something I can appreciate because I know that card backs are kind of a pain.

A very sweet pair of customs that I’m pleased to add to my collection!

Thank you so much for the cards, Marc!

1974 Topps Cards That Should’ve Had A Rookie Cup (Weigh In #74)

OK, so this post is two things:

  • A summary/expansion of something that I wrote over multiple posts 10 years ago
  • The 74th entry in my “Weigh In” series, something that I’ll explain in a moment

Since Weigh-in #71 I’ve been sharing cards from the year that matches the weigh-in number… 1971s for Weigh-In #71, 1972s for Weigh-In #72, etc. This time around I am featuring the 1974 Topps cards of those players who were named to the 1973 Topps All-Star Rookie team. Just for fun, I’ll also compare the Topps All-Star Rookie team to the Baseball Digest All-Star Rookie team. Who knew there were competing All-Star Rookie teams?

Oh, and I should point out that in 1974 Topps did not include the Rookie All-Star cup on the cards of the 1973 All-Star Rookie teammates… That’s the main point of interest here.

Before I get into the Weigh-In aspect of this post, I’ll share the infield of the 1973 All-Star Rookie team:

1st Base:  Gary Thomasson – did not get any votes in NL Rookie of the Year voting
Thomasson batted .285 with 35 runs and 30 RBI. He was not Baseball Digest’s choice at 1st, as we’ll see in a moment.

2nd Base:  Davey Lopes – tied for 6th in NL ROY voting
Lopes batted .285 with 77 runs and 37 RBI. He played 135 games at second, but also put in appearances at 3rd base, short, center field and right field.

Shortstop:  Jerry Terrell – did not get any votes in NL Rookie of the Year voting
Batted .265 with 43 runs and 42 RBI, playing the majority of his time at short but also playing games at 2nd and 3rd… Weirdly enough, Topps listed him as a 2B-SS but he played more at 3rd than 2nd in 1973 and split his time pretty equally between SS, 2B and 3B in 1974.  He was not the Baseball Digest selection at short.

3rd Base:  Dan Driessen – tied for 3rd in NL ROY voting
Driessen batted .301 with 49 runs and 47 RBI. He also 87 games at 3rd and 36 at 1st, which gave Baseball Digest an opening to select him as the *1st baseman* for their Rookie All-Star team

We’ll be back with more after this “commercial break”…

For those wondering what the deal is with a “Weigh-In”, here is my official Mission Statement: 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.

Changes in the 1st quarter of 2022 (from 1/13/2022 to 4/6/2022):

Net change in the collection: +211 (225 added, 14 removed)
Net change to the # of cards in the house: +411 (414 came in, 3 went out)

No cards came in to or out of my house in January and February, as I was working organizing my collection. The logjam broke in the middle of March when I found a blaster of 2022 Topps Opening Day. I also bought a blaster of Heritage plus a few random packs just to have something to open

Let’s resume the All-Star Rookie team with the catcher, lefty and righty pitchers

Catcher: Bob Boone – tied for 3rd in NL Rookie of the Year voting
Batted .261 with 42 runs and 61 RBI. He was not the Baseball Digest selection at catcher.

RHP Steve Rogers – 2nd in NL ROY voting
Rogers went 10-5 with a 1.54 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 17 games. He was not the Baseball Digest RHP. In 1974 Rogers would accomplish the interesting feat of being named an All-Star *and* being tied for the league lead with with 22 losses.

LHP Randy Jones – Did not receive any NL ROY votes

Pitching for a Padres team which lost 102 games, Jones went 7-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 20 games. Fascinatingly, Jones was the pitcher who tied Rogers for the National League lead with 22 losses in 1974, but he’d turn things around and win the Cy Young Award in 1976.

…and now, a brief message from the fine folks at “Weigh-In”…

Totals since I started tracking on 10/16/2011:
Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 15,785
Net change to the collection, to date: +6,666

Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 54,615
Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -13,176

This was a good quarter for organizing, but it wasn’t great for streamlining my collection. Still, it was time very well spent

Size of the collection:
Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 72,543
Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 11,591

…which means I’ve got at least 84,134 cards in my collection

Money spent on cards:
This does not count money spent on show admission, shipping, supplies, etc.

1st quarter, 2022: $57.19

Average per month for 1Q 2022: $19.06
Average per month for 2021: $35.64
Average per month for 2020: $76.66
Average per month for 2019: $80.38
Average per month for 2018: $79.03
Average per month for 2017: $43.63
Average per month for 2016: $36.11

I didn’t track my spending before 2016. In 2016 and 2017 I didn’t go to as many card shows because there weren’t any local shows, and I made the 5 hour round trip to a regional card show only once or twice a year.

It wasn’t until April that I bought *any* 2022 baseball cards; I didn’t find any in the stores, but I also didn’t seek any out through other means. I’ll spoil the surprise and tell you that I’m over $150 spent in April and May.

We now return you to the 1973 Rookies, already in progress.

The Outfield of the Topps All-Star rookie team has a bit of scandal, as we’ll see in a minute.

Gary Matthews – The NL Rookie of the Year
Matthews batted .300 with 74 runs and 38 RBI. His 11 votes were well above 2nd place Steve Rogers’ 3 votes.  This is one of my favorite 1974 cards… The action took place at Shea Stadium, the 3rd baseman is the Mets’ Wayne Garrett and the 3rd base coach is John McNamara.

Johnny Grubb – tied for 6th in NL ROY votiing
Batted .311 with 52 runs and 37 RBI.  He’d be named to his only career All-Star team in 1974.

Rich Coggins – 6th in AL ROY voting
Coggins got one ROY vote after batting .319 with 54 runs and 51 RBI. He was not part of the Baseball Digest outfield.

So we’ve gotten to the end of the Topps All-Star Rookie lineup, and some of you may be saying “Hey, what about the AMERICAN LEAGUE Rookie of the Year?”

What about him, indeed. We’ll find out more… after this:

Size of my MS Access card database:
I track my collection in a Microsoft Access database of my own creation. 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 1,027 set definitions (up 20 from the last weigh-in) and
255,434 card definitions (up 5,648 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; Although I have no cards from 1949 Bowman, that set represents 1 set definition and 240 card definitions.

We now return you to the exciting conclusion of our blog post!

Al Bumbry was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1973, his 13 votes easily outpaced 2nd place Pedro Garcia (who we haven’t mentioned yet). Baseball Digest had Bumbry as their Rookie Right Fielder, but as we already mentioned Topps went with Coggins as their 3rd outfielder. Oops. Bumbry lead the league with 11 triples, plus he batted .337 with 73 runs and 34 RBI.

Other notable 1973 rookies who didn’t make the 1973 Topps Rookie All-Star team…

2B Pedro Garcia finished 2nd in AL ROY voting. He batted .245 with 67 runs and 54 RBI, and lead the league with 32 doubles. He’d never hit more than 17 doubles in any other season of his 5 year career. He was also an original Blue Jay, having signed as a free agent before the Jays’ inaugural 1977 season.

RHP Steve Busby tied for 3rd in AL ROY voting, went 16-15 with a 4.23 ERA while striking out 105 batters.

RHP George “Doc” Medich also finished tied for 3rd and was named the Baseball Digest rookie RHP. He went 14-9 with a 2.95 ERA and 145 strikeouts.

C Darrell Porter also also finished tied for 3rd in AL ROY voting, and was the named the Baseball Digest Rookie catcher. After “cups of coffee” in 1971 and 1972, he batted .254 with 50 runs and 67 RBI. He’d also be an All-Star in 1974, not that any of the 1973 voters would’ve known that.

RHP Elias Sosa finished 3rd in NL ROY voting after pitching 71 games (70 in relief), going 10-4 with 18 saves and a 3.28 ERA. He struck out 70 batters in 107 innings pitched.

3B Ron Cey finished tied for 3rd in ROY voting with Johnny Grubb and Davey Lopes, plus Cey was the Baseball Digest rookie third baseman. Cey batted .245 with 60 runs and 80 RBI.

OF Richie Zisk finished 6th in NL ROY voting. He had the unenviable job of playing right field for the Pirates after the death of Roberto Clemente, and after an experiment with Manny Sanguillen in right didn’t pan out. Zisk batted .324 with 44 runs and 54 RBI.

In addition to the players who got votes…

Rich Troedson is an interesting choice as the Baseball Digest Left-handed rookie pitcher. He went 7-9 in a mix of starts and relief for an awful Padres team, had a 4.25 ERA and would not pitch in the Majors past 1974.

…and finally Tim Johnson was the Baseball Digest rookie shortstop. He batted .213 with 39 runs and 32 RBI and played a career-high 136 games in his only year as a starter.

A Six-Month Old Giveaway From “Dime Boxes”

Back in November 2021… I think it was November, anyway, Nick from the always entertaining Dime Boxes blog had a giveaway to celebrate the blog’s 10th anniversary. Each time these were posted I always ended up being late and missing out on some of the cards I would’ve liked, but I did get four cards I truly wanted, so it’s all good.

First off, there’s this Swell Baseball Greats card of Johnny Podres with the Padres… Because I cannot resist the Podres/Padres combination.

You might ask yourself “Joe, if you love the Podres/Padres combo so much, how come I never see you featuring cards of 1950’s outfielder Dave Philley with the Phillies?” And the answer to that is a sincere “I don’t know, maybe I should…”

1981 Fleer Star Stickers always lead to a conflict between the head and the heart.

The heart says “These are cards from my 7th year of collecting and they generally have different photos than regular 1981 Fleer, what’s not to like?” and then the head says “We’ve been through this with 1981 Donruss; We’re trying to streamline the collection and you’ve already got 1,868 different cards from 1981, wouldn’t you be better off getting cards from another year?”

The heart counters with “…But it’s a different photo!” and the head just shakes it’s…. um… head.

1984 Fleer is one of those sets where I sometimes think “I really enjoyed this set back in the day, I should try to complete the entire — SQUIRREL!”

I am highly susceptible to Bright Shiny Objects Syndrome, but at least not as bad as I used to be.

I’m kinda sorta a Yoshi Tsutsugo collector, even while I wonder how long he can keep his job with the Pirates – THE PIRATES! – while batting below the Mendoza Line. (but he looked *SO GOOD* in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, maybe he’ll figure it out soon)

This lenticular card is labeled as “3-D”, but it’s really more Sportflics than Kellogg’s.

In addition, Sir Nick of the Dimeboxes sent me a bunch of other cards, not all of which I’ll get to today… but I’ll share some others.

Can’t complain about 1970’s Kellogg’s, especially when it’s Tom Terrific.  Honestly, I can’t complain about 1970’s Kellogg’s when it’s Bill Travers.

These Hostess cards amused me because the samey-same background is very similar to 21st Century Heritage. In this case, though, I don’t doubt that Al Bumbry and Mark Belanger were actually in that ballpark (Oakland Coliseum? I’m really bad at this sort of thing)

I’ve got this idea for a Broadway musical about a lonely Orioles shortstop who ends up faking a relationship with a teenager who had committed suicide… I’ll call it “Dear Ron Hansen” and……………… What’s that?  It’s been done?

I’ll wrap things up with a 1972 Kellogg’s card that I also can’t complain about.

There will be more cards from this batch once I’ve done the prerequisite scanning.

Thank you very much for the cards, Nick!

A Buncha Customs, June 6

Over the past month or two, I’ve had a major creative block that’s affected my writing and my customs. I’m going to try to power through a post in hopes that having accomplished something will break the logjam a bit.

Keegan Thompson was not a pitcher I was aware of before this season, but he’s been a nice addition to my fantasy team’s bullpen. He’s currently 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. I need the Cubs to put him in some save situations, I desperately need saves on my fantasy team!

Keegan was also the subject of what had been my first “Pointless Pairings” custom in three years!

I don’t think there was a reason for creating this Willy Adames custom other than my liking the photo.

Same deal for this custom of Trevor Story… although this image dates back to Spring Training and I’d used it for one of my ‘proof of concept’ customs

Utility guy Tyler Wade recently hit his first home run since September 26, 2020… but again, mainly just liked the picture.

The Hofstra University baseball team, coached by former Major Leaguer and Shlabotnik favorite Frank Catalanotto, are the 2022 champions of the Colonial Athletic Association and advanced to the program’s first-ever College World Series. Unfortunately they were beaten in their first two games and have been eliminated, but for a school like Hofstra to make it in the first place is no small accomplishment.

On May 26 Aaron Nola pitched 8+ shutout innings on his way to a 4-1 win over Atlanta, breaking a personal losing streak.

Mets rookie OF Nick Plummer’s first MLB hit was a game-tying 9th inning HR vs. the Phillies. A former Cardinals 1st round pick and a minor league free agent, Plummer was signed to a Major League contract over the winter and is becoming something of a fan-favorite in Queens.  FWIW, he’s got very little in the way of actual cardboard.

Jameson Taillon recently took a perfect game against the Angels into the 7th inning. He allowed 2 hits and a run in the 8th but got the win.

This morning I saw this image of Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie and decided it needed a 1973 border around it.

And finally, I don’t think I ever shared my 2021-22 Seattle Kraken team leaders custom here…  I didn’t want to repeat the official headshot of Jared McCann so I used a game image… but the mismatch between that image and the other three is a sort of off-putting result, kind of like the Beatles’ Let It Be album cover where Paul was the only one photographed in front of a red background and that somehow became another “Paul is dead” clue.

I thought about breaking from the 1974/75 Topps precedent and featuring a goaltender instead of a 2nd image of Jared McCann, but I decided the goaltending wasn’t good enough for me to make that change, even while it was expected to be a strength of the team going into the season.

I’m not quite done with my custom hockey card set, I’ve got some postseason customs in the work… but honestly, I have a terrible time trying to get excited about hockey in June… and we haven’t even gotten to the finals yet!

The 1970’s, A To Z: Nolan Ryan to Ron Santo

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.


1971 Topps #513

I could do a whole post solely based on the Major League and team records which Nolan Ryan holds, but I’m going to try to stick to my “back of a baseball card” limit… more or less…

Played 1966 – 1993
1970’s Teams: Mets, Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Pitched four of his seven career no-hitters during the 1970s; Got his only start in an All-Star game in 1979; Broke Sandy Koufax’ single-season strikeout record by wiffing 383 in 1973; Made 5 of his 8 All-Star teams in the 1970s; The only seasons in the 1970s where he DIDN’T lead the AL in strikeouts was 1970 and 1971 (he was with the Mets and didn’t finish in the top 10) and 1975 when his 186 strikeouts was good for 6th place, 83 K’s behind teammate and leader Frank Tanana

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999; His 5,714 strikeouts are 839 more than Randy Johnson, who has the 2nd-highest strikeout total in history

Baseball Fun Stuff:
As many accolades as Nolan Ryan has accumulated, the closest he came to winning a Cy Young Award was in 1973 when he finished 2nd behind Jim Palmer; Was the last Angels pitcher to bat before the DH was implemented; Earned a save in his only World Series appearance (Game 3 of the 1969 World Series); Is the only player (other than Jackie Robinson, of course) to have his number retired by 3 teams – the Angels, Astros and Rangers; Was the first player to have played for the four original expansion teams (Mets, Angels, Astros and Senators/Rangers); Holds the Mets single-season record for walks (116 in 1971)

Extracurricular Fun Stuff:
Played himself on 3 episodes of the 1970s/1980s soap opera “Ryan’s Hope”

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s as well as every Hostess set of the 1970s; His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is cropped tighter than his 1977 Topps card; Made a cameo apperance on Bud Harrelson’s 1971 card:

And now we’re moving on from R to S…


1971 Topps #406

Played 1960 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Mets, Cardinals, Braves, Royals, Brewers

1970’s Highlights:
Recorded a save for the Mets in game 4 of the 1973 World Series against Oakland

Career Highlights:
Won 20 games for the 1964 Cardinals, by far a career high; Got an RBI and the win in game 1 of the 1964 World Series; Was traded straight-up for HOFer Orlando Cepeda in 1966; His 206 strikeouts in 1968 was a San Francisco Giants record until Madison Bumgarner broke it in 2014

Fun Stuff:
Is the only pitcher that Bob Uecker hit two home runs off of; It’s apples and oranges, but Sadecki, as a batter, struck out 161 times over 789 career at bats – That’s striking out once every 4.9 AB. In contrast, Joey Gallo struck out 213 times over 498 ABs last year, that’s once every 2.3 AB, more than twice as often

Card Stuff:
Had an “In Action” card in 1972 Topps


1973 Topps #246

Played 1964-1976
1970’s Teams: Brewers, Twins, Indians, Angels, Mets, Royals

1970’s Highlights:
In 1971 he lead the AL with 31 saves, set a Major League record by finishing 77 games (a record broken by Mike Marshall in 1974), appeared in 83 games (currently a tie for the Brewers team record), got some MVP consideration and was named The Sporting News AL Fireman of the Year; Pitched five scoreless innings in relief in the Brewers 22-inning 4-3 win over Twins 5/12/72

Career Highlights:
Was named to the Brewers Wall of Honor

Card Stuff:
His 1973 Topps card, featured above, shows him with an airbrushed Phillies cap following an October 1972 trade, but he never played for Philadelphia – he was flipped to the Twins a month later; His 1966 “Rookie Stars” card came 5 years before his first solo card in 1971


1974 Topps #28

Played 1967 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Pirates, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
An All-Star in 1971, 1972 and 1975; Was traded to the A’s with $100,000 for manager Chuck Tanner; Initially replaced Roberto Clemente in right field, but the experiment failed and he went back behind the plate; Won World Series with the Pirates in 1971 and 1979 and hit .379 during the 1971 series; Was 3rd in NL Batting in 1970 and 1975

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; His 1977 O-Pee-Chee uses a photo different from 1977 Topps (but both are airbrushed)


1974 Topps #270

Played 1960 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Cubs, White Sox

1970’s Highlights:
Started the 1973 All-Star Game at 3rd base and was also an All-Star in 1971 and 1972

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012; Was a nine-time All-Star; Won five Gold Glove awards; Hit 20+ homers 11 times; Holds a Cubs record with 14 sacrifice flies in 1969; His #10 was retired by the Cubs; Was named to the 1960 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Fun Stuff:
Was one of the first players to veto a trade under the “10 and 5” rule which gave a player the ability to refuse a trade if he had 10 years experience and 5 with the current club… After the 1973 season a trade was worked out to send him to the Angels, but Santo didn’t want to play on the west coast and was traded to the White Sox instead

Card Stuff:
Is one of a relatively few number of players to have the Topps All-Star Rookie trophy on his rookie card (1961 Topps); Appears in 1975 Topps but had retired after the 1974 season; I’ve always liked the cartoon on the back of his 1974 card:

The 1970’s, A To Z: Jerry Royster to Dick Ruthven

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 #549

Played 1973-1988
1970’s Teams: Dodgers, Braves

1970’s Highlights:
A prospect in the Dodgers system who was blocked at the Major League level, Royster was traded to Atlanta in a deal that also involved Jim Wynn and Dusty Baker; Was the 3rd baseman on the 1976 Topps All-Star Rookie team

Career Highlights:
Managed the Lotte GIants of the Korea Baseball Organization in 2008, making him the first foreign manager of a KBO team; Was a coach with the Rockies, Brewers and Dodgers

Fun Stuff:
His cousin is former Major League OF/DH Greg Vaughn; His leaping catch at Fulton County Stadium was featured in the credits of “This Week In Baseball”


1974 Topps #264

Played 1967 – 1982
1970’s Teams: A’s, Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Was an All-Star in 1972, 1974 and 1975, with a starting job in 1975; Finished 2nd in MVP voting in 1972 (1 first place vote) and 1974 (5 first place votes); Won three World Championships with the A’s; Won a division title with the 1979 Angels; Lead the league in hits and Triples in 1972; Lead the league in doubles in 1974; Won Gold Gloves from 1974 to 1976; In 1976 his contract was sold to the Red Sox for $1 million before commissioner Bowie Kuhn nixed the deal as not being in the best interests of baseball

Card Stuff:
Appears in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; His 1973 Topps card famously features 3 A’s players, none of whom are Joe Rudi


1975 Topps #23

Played 1969 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
An All-Star in 1973 and 1976; Originally an outfielder, he didn’t become a shortstop until his 4th Major League season; Part of the Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey Dodgers infield which played together from June 1973 to the end of the 1981 season

Career Highlights:
Russell’s 2,181 games is the most of any Los Angeles Dodger; Also holds the Dodgers career record with 106 intentional bases-on-balls; An All-Star in 1980; Has a career .294 postseason batting average; Replaced Tommy Lasorda as Dodgers manager in 1996 and took the team to 2nd place finishes that year and the next before being fired during the 1998 season

Card Stuff:
Appears in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s;  Did not appear in the 1976 SSPC set after missing nearly half of the previous season due to injuries


1975 Topps #267

Played 1973 -1986
1970’s Teams: Phillies, Braves

1970’s Highlights:
Was an All-American in 1972 and made his Major League debut on April 17, 1973 without having played in the minors; Was an All-Star in 1976, the same season he lead the league with 17 losses (the Braves were 70-92 that season)

Career Highlights:
Won a World Series with the 1980 Phillies and won a career-high 17 games during that season

Fun Stuff:
Appeared on Family Feud in 1980 as five Phillies took on five players from their World Series opponent KC Royals; His twin sister married fellow Major-Leaguer Tommy Hutton; Was a member of the Chicago White Sox for 2 days in December, 1975 when he was dealt by the Phillies in a trade involving Jim Kaat, and then flipped to the Braves in a trade for Ralph Garr

Card Stuff:
Although many of the players from his two December 1975 trades were featured in the 1976 Topps Traded set, Ruthven was left out

Joe Rudi’s catch in the 1972 World Series

Really Old Lumberjacks And Other COMC Goodies

I recently showed off a card as the oldest one I own, and it occurred to me that I’ve never shared it here on the blog before… and that I have a bunch of other cards I still haven’t shown off.

So here I am, showing off my cards.

I might as well start off with that “oldest card in my collection”; It’s a 108-year-old cigarette card, it’s from the 1914 Wills Overseas Dominions set – and I’ll point out that Wills was a British brand of cigarette, so “Overseas Dominions” meant Canada for the 1914 set and Australia for the 1915 set.

The subject of this particular card is “Felling Trees”. It’s a nice-looking card, so I’ll share it at a relatively large size (but keep in mind that it’s a “mini” by today’s standards):

The funny thing about this card is that when I pulled it out of the COMC box, I didn’t remember buying it… and not only that, I wasn’t entirely sure *why* I bought it.  After thinking on it a while, I decided that it must’ve been an impulse buy for my “Monty Python reference” collection… as in “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK”

Next up is a card that falls into one of my “excuse goals”… Meaning a “goal” that really is just an excuse for accumulating vintage cards …not that buying vintage is ever a completely bad thing, but I’m trying to be better about keeping focus.

The “excuse goal” in this case was that I like the apocryphal Kansas City Athletics caps that were used in the 1955 set.  The A’s were in Philadelphia in 1954, and from what I’ve seen it must’ve seemed like a safe bet that the new KC A’s would wear these caps… but they didn’t, at least not once the season started.

I shouldn’t say too much about “excuse goals” because I recently made a quick visit to a card show and all of my purchases were from a bin of cheap vintage which generally fell under my excuse goals.

Here’s a new addition to my bowling type collection;  I don’ t follow professional bowling enough to actually want a set, but I just like to have one or two cards from any sets I run across. This one is from the 2008 Rittenhouse PBA set, which is a pretty nice looking set… at least based on this one card.

1962 Post card of original New York Met Charley Neal. The card doesn’t mention his being with the Mets even though he was acquired in December, 1961; I guess that was too late for Post to update the card with a tagline.

And I’ll wrap things up with a 1972 Topps high # of Yankees pitcher Jack Aker.  I’m looking at some of the 1972 High #s prices out on COMC now, and it seems like even poor condition commons are way more expensive than they were a year ago.