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.

These Cards Are Here Because They’re Here

…And because they are not elsewhere.

I will freely admit that this is a “clear out the folders” post.  After you finish this post, you won’t find it hard to believe that work is taking up a lot of my time this week.

Nearly three years ago, I had something to say about this card. For whatever reason it didn’t make it into the post, so it’s here now.

Because it’s a 1965 card, I feel obligated to show the back.

Johnny Lewis wore #24 for the Mets before Willie Mays did…

…and before Ken Boswell and Ed Charles and Jim Beauchamp and Art Shamsky. One of these days when I have time, I’m going to finish the “Guy Before The Guy” post that I’m working on.

By the way, in 1965 Johnny Lewis is the guy who broke up Jim Maloney’s 10-inning no-hitter with a go-ahead homer.  Maloney ended up with an 11-inning, 18-strikeout, complete game 1-0 loss.

Is Rusty Staub wearing a uniform anywhere underneath all those layers?
1979 Topps Rusty Staub

I’m including this card just because I like the name “Thormodsgard”.
1979 Topps Paul Thormodsgard
Thormodsgard pitched all of one inning in 1979, and gave up a run and three hits (two singles and a homer) against the Rangers. That was his last MLB appearance. Before that he had a decent season in 1977, going 11-15 but pitching 8 complete games including a shutout.

Ron Hunt got 10% of the N.L. Rookie Of The Year votes in 1963. Some flash in the pan named Pete Rose got 85% of the votes (and the Phillies’ Ray Culp got the other 5%).
1969 Topps Ron Hunt

Don Bosch was apparently hyped as “The Next Mickey Mantle” at one point.
1969 Topps Don Bosch
Spoiler Alert: He was not.

One of the ideas I have floating around in my head is writing a post on all of the “Next Mickey Mantles” who have come and gone in my lifetime. Feel free to suggest your favorite “Next Mickey Mantle”.

Pack Animal: 1988 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

I was going through one of my boxes and ran across this pack of 1988 O-Pee-Chee Baseball.
1988-opc-baseball-pack

I got this in a repack years ago, and my reaction at the time was “What the heck do I do with this?”  I already have the complete 1988 Topps set, and I don’t collect O-Pee-Chee cards unless the photo is somehow different from the Topps counterpart (or there is no Topps counterpart).

So it sat in a box until I just found it again.  One thing I know now that I didn’t know then is that 1988 OPC has four cards which aren’t in 1988 Topps.  These cards represent the 1st & 2nd round draft picks of the Expos and the 1st and 2nd round draft picks of the Blue Jays.  I don’t have any of these cards and wouldn’t mind getting them, so that’s as good a reason as any to bust this puppy.

We peel back the wax wrapper to find Dan Pasqua, formerly with the Yankees, “now with White Sox”.
1988-opc-baseball-pack-opened
The gum was very much adhered to the Pasqua card – 29 years will do that, I guess – and my attempt to remove the gum also removed Dan Pasqua, so both card and gum went in the trash.  Hell no, I didn’t try the gum (even though it looked in relatively decent shape for 29-year-old gum).

Next up… Joe Carter.
1988-o-pee-chee-joe-carter
1988 is my second-favorite Topps set of the 1980’s (next to 1983), and I always liked the way part of the image went in front of the team name.

…which is very likely why O-Pee-Chee only put the “now with” text on the front of traded players cards… You can’t easily change the team name when it’s essentially part of the photo.

The back, just so you can see the telltale French text and OPC card stock.
1988-o-pee-chee-joe-carter-back

Bill Madlock.
1988-o-pee-chee-bill-madlock
I don’t think of Mad Dog with the Tigers, and that’s because this was a career-ending Short Term Stop (copyrighted, Dime Box Nick).  Madlock was done in the Majors after the 1987 season, but would play in Japan for 1988, spending the season with the Lotte Orions. 

Another Tiger, Lou Whitaker.
1988-o-pee-chee-lou-whitaker
Sweet Lou appeared as himself on a 1983 episode of Magnum P.I.

Current Rockies manager Bud Black.
1988-o-pee-chee-bud-black
There was another pitcher named Bud Black who had several “cups of coffee” with the Tigers in the 1950’s. I did not know that.

One of two Jeff Robinsons in the game at the time.
1988-o-pee-chee-jeff-robinson
Both Jeffs played for the Bucs, but not at the same time.

Much like Capri Sun, there’s only one Nick Esasky.
1988-o-pee-chee-nick-esasky
Esasky played 6 years with the Reds, had a career year in 1989 with the Red Sox, cashed in on a big contract with the Braves but only played 9 games for them due to vertigo issues.  That might sound like a pretty insignificant reason to have to retire from baseball, but as someone who has suffered from vertigo I’m here to say it absolutely can be disabling.  Fortunately for me, mine was sinus-related (pressure on the inner ear, I suspect), so I was able to learn how to avoid it.

So there we go… No draft picks, just a bunch of cards which are very much like the ones I already have.

If you’re like me and enjoy checking out the special offer on the wax wrapper, here it is.
1988-o-pee-chee-wrapper-ball-strike-indicator
Much as I’d like to get a Compteur de balles et coups de baseball professionnel – everything sounds better in French! – I think I’m a little late to redeem this… plus I’d need four more wrappers.  Quel dommage!.

“Promo Cards” For My 2017 TSR Custom Set

As I’ve done every April since 2012 (yikes!), I would like to unveil my 2017 TSR custom baseball card set by opening a virtual pack!

Emphasis on “would like to”… while I would like to, I’m unfortunately not able to… not this week, anyway.  I’m already a week past my Opening Day target date, and all I have ready is a vertical base card design which is set up for 8 teams.

Under better circumstances (i.e. had I not waffled between two potential designs for all of February and part of March) I would’ve presented a virtual pack for us to go through…. but that would require a design for a wrapper.  I’d also include at least one or two inserts, possibly a horizontal card… all of which exist only in my head.

What I do have is a handful of customs I created as a “dress rehearsal” to make sure that the design works for different color combinations I had in mind, that it worked for player and team names of varying lengths (i.e. CUBS, DIAMONDBACKS).

I don’t have anything else to post today… so I’ll call these “promo cards” and work towards having a more fulfilling experience next week.

I’m always willing to suck up to my readership, so if there’s a particular player or team you’d like to see on a TSR card, leave a comment and I will do my best to get something in the first official pack.

Since I call these promo cards, I feel like they should be accompanied by some sort of sales pitch, so…

ATTENTION: VIRTUAL RETAILERS!
Contact your TSR sales representative to find out how TSR cards can:

  • Drive traffic to your stores!
  • Increase profit margins!
  • Improve customer loyalty and employee morale!
  • Give your store a distinctive fresh aroma and…
  • Qualify your business for tax-exempt status!

Oddball Odyssey: Two 1984 7-Eleven Slurpee Phillies “Coins”

Today’s oddballs are a couple of plastic “coins” which are similar to the Sportflics cards of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Back in the mid-1980’s, 7-Eleven stores featured baseball “coins” which – if I remember correctly – came on the bottom of large Slurpee cups.  The two I have in my collection are ones I picked up when I was spending some time with friends in Pennsylvania.  Both are from 1984, and both feature Phillies players of the day.

The image on the front of the coin changed based on the angle you looked at it, so I had to play some games to photograph these.

In 1984, the Phillies were coming off of a N.L. Championship (they lost the World Series to the O’s in 5) and John Denny was coming off a Cy Young-winning season.

Denny went 19-6 with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.162 WHIP.  In the World Series he won game 1 and lost game 4.

Here’s the back.  Who knows why this is coin “XIX of XXIV”  rather than just “19 of 24”.

Bloody pretentious, that is.

My second coin features Gary Matthews, who was the 1983 NLCS MVP  (6 for 14, 3 homers, 8 RBI) and the 1973 N.L. Rookie Of The Year

“Sarge” was no longer with the Phillies when I got this coin, having been traded to the Cubs late in Spring Training.  In 1984, he’d lead the N.L. with a .410 On-base percentage.

For some reason, I had a harder time getting a photo of Sarge’s action shot.

The funny thing about these is that because I was in Southeastern Pennsylvania at the time and I “pulled” two Phillies, I never gave any thought to whether there were any Mets coins floating around.  I didn’t recall seeing these back home on Long Island, so I figured it was a regional issue.  Apparently I was wrong.  There are Mets and there are Orioles and a number of other teams.  The discs were regional in nature, but we’re talking “East”, “West” and “Central”, not “southeastern Pennsylvania”.

In researching this post, I found a commercial for these coins.  Enjoy!

Days #31 – #34 of the “30 Day Challenge”

Tony over at Off-Hiatus Baseball recently came up with a 30-day Baseball Card Challenge… I was ready to dive head-first into it until I saw some of the subjects… “Certified Autographs?  Cards before 1950?  Favorite Relic?  Lectroids?  Planet 10?  Nuclear Extortion?  A Girl Named ‘John’?”  (Whoops, sorry, I seem to have wandered into Buckaroo Banzai quotes).

Oh, sorry… Anyway, the point is that these topics look like a fun challenge, but more of a challenge than I’m prepared to handle right now.

But I thought it might work better for me at the moment if I come up with my own challenges, so I’m just going to append a few to the end of Tony’s list, if nobody has any objections…

Day 31:  A card you acquired BECAUSE of the airbrushing.
This Jim Slaton card is from 1978 Hostess.

I forget whose blog I saw this on, but as soon as I did I knew I had to have it… This card is unbelievable, more airbrush than photo.  They did a nice job of it, but it looks like one of those carnival things where there’s a painting with a hole in it, and Jim Slaton has stuck his face in the hole and had his photo taken.


Day 32:  A minor league card which rips off the first set you ever collected
I was 8, going on 9, when the 1974 Topps set came out. I fell head over heels in love with the set, completed the set the following year, and something like 40 years later would complete a master set.

In 2007, the AA Reading Phillies released a team set that… *ahem*… pays homage to that wonderful 1974 set.

As you can see, the two sets are totally different. I mean, the Topps card has the pennants on the upper right and bottom left, whereas the R-Phils set is quite the opposite!

Multi-Ad did cards for a number of teams at the time, but I’ve yet to find another that uses this 1974-esque design. If anyone knows of one, please leave a comment.


Day 33:  A card where you wish the photo were used in a better set
In a recent repack, I pulled this Mets card from 1982 Fleer.

I’ve always been a fan of Hubie Brooks, and I just love this photo… but it seems a shame that it would be wasted on 1982 Fleer and it’s piss-poor image quality.


Day 34:  A card of a player who played another sport professionally and at the same time.
Dave DeBusschere pitched for the White Sox in 1963 and 1964, pitched professionally from 1962 to 1965, and had an interesting job during the offseason…

After not getting called up to the White Sox in 1965, DeBusschere decided to focus on that other job… playing for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.  Late in 1968 he would be traded to the Knicks, win two league championships and cement his standing as a Basketball Hall-Of-Famer…. so it’s safe to say he chose well when he decided to focus on basketball.

Pack Animal: 2017 Donruss Baseball

On Friday I was a little pouty because I wouldn’t have time this past weekend to drive several hours to go to a regional card show.  To slightly make up for it I went to Target to buy a repack and while I was there I also grabbed a pack of 2017 Donruss.

Most of you know the deal with 21st Century Donruss sets… 200 or so unlicensed base cards using some approximation of 1980’s and 1990’s Donruss designs.

First card… Paul Goldschmidt.

Is he at Wrigley?  I see bricks and I think I see Cubs hats in the stands.

The design is a riff on 1990 Donruss, but it frankly was done better in the football set last spring:

To be fair, since Panini can’t use the full team colors, it wouldn’t have been as good anyway.

The back is the usual boring Panini back.

Move along, people, nothing to see here.

Second card is an Oriole… or would be if Panini could use the word “Oriole”

One card off my wantlist, anyway…

Insert time… first, a “The Rookies” insert of Jose De Leon, who is no longer with Los Angeles but is with Tampa Bay.

He was traded on January 23rd for Logan Forsythe. Even though they only needed to change the text, I guess that trade occurred too late for Panini to update the card.

I also got a Retro Variation in the 1983 design. My scanner makes it look lighter than it is; the black text on the brown glove is very hard to read.

They did a nicer job than they did with last year’s 1982 Retro inserts, but just as I said in 1983 when I was tremendously disappointed with a mild rehash of the previous years design, I will ask “But why?”

I also got a Ben Zobrist card.  Does nobody play the field in the Donruss Universe?

This is my favorite card of the pack (relatively speaking, of course).

Matt Holliday is currently with the Yankees;  I’ll cut Donruss a bit of slack for not updating this one because they would’ve had to change the uniform color as well.  A guy in a red uniform labeled as “NEW YORK” would’ve been confusing, to say the least.

To round out the pack I got Christian Yelich and Adrian Beltre, but it’s frankly more of the same… full-length batting shots.  (*yawn*)

The cards themselves are on decent stock and have a nice gloss to them, and the design isn’t bad… but $2.99 for 8 unlicensed cards is way too expensive to buy any more packs.  I’ll likely pick up more of these base cards when I run across them in a dime box or in team sets.

The Last Muni (And Other Customs)

I’m scrambling to finalize my 2017 TSR design this year, and also scrambling to do a number of “real life” things, so this week we have an assortment of TSRchives and WBC customs.

Next Sunday – God willin’ and the creek don’t rise – we should have a pack of my TSR customs to virtually rip open.  I hope.

Earlier this past week, the Cubs cut fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki;  They were hoping to sign him to a minor league contract, but wanted to give him the opportunity to hook on with another team if there was interest.

Unfortunately for those of us in North America, there was interest from another team… Muni flew back to Japan and signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. When I read the news, I went “Awwwwww!” in dismay… out loud. Fortunately, I was alone in the room at the time.

According to the Hawks’ English-language roster page, some of Muni’s new teammates with the Hawks include Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tsuyoshi Wada, former Oriole Dennis Sarfate, and Cuban Alfredo Despaigne, who batted .474 with 3 homers in 6 games during the World Baseball Classic.

Cuba made it to the second round of the WBC, but have had too many players defect (and not participate) to be as competitive as they used to be.

More than a few websites picked up on how emotional Brock Stassi got after being told that that he would be making the Phillies’ opening day roster.

Not that you can blame him for getting verklempt. He was the 1,021st pick in the 2011 draft, worked through 6 seasons in the minors before impressing in camp this spring… And he’s got a cool name.

FYI, Brock’s younger brother Max is a prospect in the Astros organization.

41-year-old Eric Gagne pitched 2.1 scoreless innings in the WBC and he’s said to be in talks with several teams, including the Dodgers, on a minor league contract.

Gagne won the Cy Young in 2003 and last pitched in the majors in a season-long stint with the Brewers 9 years ago.  Good luck, Eric!

No story behind this Adam Jones custom, I just like the way it turned out.