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.

Is It Twue What They Say About These Wepacks? Oh, It’s Twue! IT’S TWUE!

On Friday I had a long, dull day at work and needed something to cheer me up when I ran out the door.  I felt like shuffling through some junk wax and (hopefully) some surprises, so I went to Target with a repack in mind.  The best option they had was one of those repacks that features 250 cards plus a handy-dandy plastic case and two recent Topps packs.

…If I knew this repack would be blog-worthy, I would’ve taken a picture before I peeled off the outer wrapper and crumpled it in a ball…

I was not expecting much out of the repack, but in the back of my mind I did think of some recent  buzz I’d heard about repacks having Bryce Harper rookies in them… but what I saw on Twitter seemed to indicate it was the 100-card repacks.

I’ll get right to the highlight on this one… I ran across a small group of 2012 Topps cards that were heavy on the star power…

…and there in the middle…

TA-DAAAAAA!!!!  Card #661, His Bryceness’ rookie card in all of it’s glory.  There’s my repack value right there, everything else is just gravy.

And to be honest, the gravy wasn’t half bad either.  Even without the Harper rookie, this was a fun repack.

Before I got to the Bryce, I thought this “every other cube” autograph from 2012 was going to be my big hit:

It’s always fun to pull an autograph from a repack, even when you haven’t heard of the player… and I hadn’t.  Zeke DeVoss hasn’t pitched professionally since 2014 and reached AAA for one game.

Nowhere near as much value but still kinda cool, I got a second-year Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton card.

Also cool and actually a rookie (but not a valuable one), I also got a 1991 Fleer Update Bernie Williams rookie.

One of my favorites from this repack is a TCMA “The 1960’s” card of Miracle Met J.C. Martin (from his days with the White Sox):

I already have this 1992 Pacific “Tom Terrific” card from the set dedicated to Tom Seaver, but I believe I know how to get this one to a new home…

These 1990 CMC minor league cards aren’t much in terms of a “find”, but I bought a fair amount of these back in the day and it’s kinda fun to pull one again.

Carlos Diaz’ Major League career consisted of 9 games for the Jays in 1990.

Drake’s cards are always welcome, especially for HOF’ers.

Speaking of HOFers, I had one do a cameo appearance on a Jeff Treadway card:

…and I got Bipped… it’s always good to be Bipped.

Here’s the sole cardboard representation of Fernando Salas’ time in a Mets uniform (from 2017 Update):

This DeWayne Buice card has long been one of my favorite cards from 1988 Topps.

In case you didn’t know, Buice was one of the original partners in Upper Deck.

Finally I filled in a bunch of 1980’s and 1990’s needs.

On the whole a very fun and worthwhile repack, even with 80% of the cards going into the bound-for-Goodwill box or the recycling bin.


2018 TSR: Hot Pack Featuring 88T 30th Anniversary Inserts

There used to be a series of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials where two people somehow collided and ended up saying “You got chocolate in my peanut butter!” and “You got peanut butter on my chocolate!”

In a similar way, two ideas of mine came together accidentally and I’m hoping the result works as well.

Along with last week’s virtual pack of customs, I made light of last week’s post being light on name players… but at the same time I grew concerned that I might be leaning too hard on my favorites (who aren’t always name players). I started thinking of ways to work bigger names into my vitual packs without straying too far into Topps Now territory.

Earlier this year I was hoping that Topps would somehow commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1988 set, but when it seemed that they would not do so I happily decided to fill the void.

This past Monday the first idea’s chocolate became firmly lodged in the peanut butter of my 1988 desires, and I hit on the idea of doing a 1988-style “insert” that would feature players who had put up big numbers over the course of the week leading up to each Sunday’s virtual pack.

That night, I did a test run with a player who had excelled in the prior week:

During the week of April 23rd to 29th, Votto batted .360, walked 9 times, scored 7 runs, drove in 8, hit a double and 4 homers… but that’s not exactly why or how I chose Votto.

In an attempt to minimize my own skewed methods of player selection, I used the points system from an online fantasy baseball league to determine who the top 5 or 6 points-getters were for the period, and then I picked Votto from that group. This is the method I’m going to use going forward with this “insert set”.

The reason I’m not going with “THE top player, period, end of story” is because I want to make sure that there’s some variety as we go along. I don’t want to have the same handful of teams represented all of the time, and there are times when a player isn’t at the tippy-top but may have a far more interesting story to tell.

As I go along creating 1988 Topps customs for the players who excelled over the course of a week, I hope to simulate, both in appearance and in checklist, the insert set that Topps could have been doing to commemorate the 30th anniversary of this underrated set.

For this week’s 1988 insert, I went with the Astros’ Gerrit Cole.

Last week Cole shut out the D-Backs and had a no-decision against the A’s, pitched 15.1 innings, allowed 7 hits and 3 earned runs and struck out 28 while walking just one.

Because I was having fun with the 88T template, and because I wanted to do a team which didn’t exist in 1988, I created another for National League Player of the Month for April, A.J. Pollock.

During the month of April Pollock batted .291, hit 8 doubles, 2 triples, 9 homers, stole 6 bases, scored 20 runs and drove in 24.

To wrap up these 88T inserts (but not this virtual pack), after I heard that Ichiro was stepping off the field for the rest of the season (while not actually retiring), and after I found a very Ichiro-y photo to work with, I made one last one:

Before we get to the “base cards”, here’s one last throwback for those who don’t follow me on Twitter (@Shlabotnik_Rpt) and didn’t see this when I posted it:

This was to commemorate Nick Kingham retiring the first 20 batters he faced in his MLB debut, and to commemorate the fact that I love 1985 Fleer.

OK, moving on to the base cards… The Braves called up Jose Bautista to play third base, and I couldn’t resist making a custom of him.

I also went with a “player of the week” theme for the rest of the customs. For the Orioles in 2018, Manny Machado has generally been the player of the game, of the week, of the month and of the season. This past week he batted .333 with 3 runs, 5 RBI, 2 doubles and a stolen base.

He’s also in a walk year and, to my thinking, he’s going to sign for big money elsewhere, plus there’s always “We stink with you, we can stink without you”. With the Dodgers losing Cory Seager for the season, the trade rumors have already started.

The Mets had a rough week, but Yoenis Cespedes isn’t going anywhere… not that I want him to. Yo batted .350 with a solo homer, two doubles and 4 runs scored.

Finally, I also used a “Who had a good week last week” method to pick the Manager card. The Yankees went 6-1 this past week, so manager Aaron Boone gets his moment in Shlabotnik Report fame.

In this photo, Boone is going to home plate with his lineup card… hopefully he didn’t get his lineup card in somebody’s peanut butter.

2018 Opening Day Base Cards With Different Photos, Part 3

As with the first two parts, this post features the Opening Day cards which I’ve confirmed as having a photo different from the Series 1 counterpart. This is a work in progress and I’ll post a new batch every time I’ve found enough for a new post.

Brandon Woodruff (Opening Day Card # 122)
I’m a sucker for cards where the ball seems to be coming right at you.

Eddie Rosario (OD Card # 174)
Kind of interesting that Jorge Polanco almost takes up as much real estate as Eddie Rosario

Troy Tulowitzki (OD Card # 106)
The Series 1 card is more interesting, but not exactly a great photo.

Alex Colome (OD Card # 194)
This one is a toss-up.

Anthony Banda (OD card # 136)
This pairing is interesting because the OD card is much more interesting than the Series 1 card.  BTW, Banda is in AAA with the Rays after this past winter’s 3 team trade that also saw Brandon Drury and Steven Souza changing teams.

Summary of findings to date:
27 cards still undetermined
31 cards have a different photo
5 cards are photoshopped (and may or may not have different photos)
3 cards use the same photo but is cropped differently
6 Series 1 “Future Stars” cards are the same but are missing the banner in OD
63 cards do not have a corresponding card in Series 1
65 cards are essentially the same as Series 1

1964? 1966? 1968? Topps Hot Rods

A little while ago my job took me to an office I’d worked in a number of years ago, and while I was there I made a quick stop in a card shop I used to go in a fair amount. Since the store specializes in gaming and non-sports cards, I asked him about a set I’ve been chasing, 1961 Topps Sports Cars.

He wasn’t sure about it from my description, but he lead me over to a binder, flipped it open, gestured to some cards and asked “Do you mean these?”

I took a look…

…Said “No, that’s not what I’m looking for… But those are cool, I’ll buy some anyway!” I walked away with the card above and two others.

When I got home I started researching them and was confused because I searched COMC for these cards and saw “Topps Hot Rods” listings for 1964, 1966 and 1968. Trading Card Database didn’t shed any light because it seemed to list only the 1968 set, but their 1968 images (with salmon-colored backs) didn’t match COMC’s 1968 images (with yellow backs).

I couldn’t find anything more definitive than that, just bits and pieces, but at this point here’s what I believe to be the case:  The cards were originally issued in 1964 as a 66 card set with salmon backs grey card stock.  In 1966, the set was reissued on white card stock.  In early 1968 there was a Milton Bradley game called “Win-A-Card” which came with reprinted 1968 baseball cards, 1967 football cards, and 22 cards from the Hot Rods set.  All of the cards which came with the game have yellow backs and since they’re all printed on the same sheet, you might find a miscut “1967 Football” card with some 1968 baseball burlap on the edge.

The Hot Rods cards may have also been reissued as a full 66-card set in 1968, but i’m less certain about that…. I’m not dead certain about any of this, please correct me if I’m wrong.

The cards I have are white cards stock with salmon-colored backs – very similar to the 1966 Topps Batman cards – so I’m calling them 1966 Topps Hot Rods.

I love the Silhouette show car from the early 1960’s…

If you’re like me, you’re familiar with this car from the very popular Hot Wheels car. I love the early-1960’s futuristic aspect to it… it seems like it would fit right in if it were parked at the 1964 World’s Fair (which I also love in the same way).

The last card I got was this card of “Surf Woody”, a custom card built by George Barris, who was the king of custom cars back at the time. I’ve seen references to the Hot Rods set being made in conjunction with Barris, but of the three cards I bought, this is the only Barris creation.

So that’s what I’ve got on these cards at this stage. I like them, I want some more, but I don’t see myself chasing all 66.

Does anybody else collect these, or at least have some?

Floating Two Ideas For Hockey Frankenset Projects

So here’s the deal… I picked up this 1990/91 Topps Hockey Factory set for three bucks last year…

…and ever since I’ve been toying with the idea of making it the basis for a hockey Frankenset.

(I was also thinking of creating a standard image to use with any Frankenset posts when inspiration struck in the form of 1960 Leaf)

In addition to the 1990/91 Topps Hockey set, I’ve also got a complete set of 1982/83 O-Pee-Chee hockey which I bought back in 1983 because Topps did not make a hockey set that year. I would also like to work more of that set back into my “active collection” rather than having it sit neglected in a box.

Then there are the other cards in my collection waiting for me to fish or cut bait, plus every now and then I end up with hockey cards through multi-sport repacks and the like.

Everythng points towards me doing a Frankenset… But the thing is, I wanted any Frankenset to have some sort of theme. Just doing a straight-out hockey Frankenset didn’t quite grab me.

Last week I had an idea of how I could take one of the ways I accumulate hockey cards and adapt it into a Frankenset… and that was quickly followed by “If I do that, I could also do this…”

I don’t know if I want to do one or the other or both, but I know I want to do something… So I’m going to float these ideas and welcome your input.

I was an enthusiastic Washington Capitals fan from the late 1970’s until the mid 1990’s… and was a half-hearted fan from then until the NHL locked out an entire season and became dead to me. DEAD TO ME!!!!

One of the fun parts of collecting the Capitals came from how Topps frequently used a photographer based in the Capital Center, with the end result being that Caps got on a lot of cards where they aren’t the featured player.  The Wayne Cashman card above is an example – that’s NHL iron man Doug Jarvis behind him.  Here’s another example featuring Steve Shutt and Photobombin’ Capital Rick Green:

I did a couple of posts about my Photobombin’ Capitals (see here and here), so I’m thinking maybe I should make it semi-official and create a Photobombin’ Capitals FrankenSet.

I really like this idea, but I also wonder how far I could get in filling out this Frankenset. The Caps didn’t exist until 1974 and I don’t think they really started “photobombing” until the 1975-76 set. Topps and O-Pee-Chee also started branching out further with their photographers in the 1980’s, so we’re talking about a limited number of cards.

Another major issue with this Frankenset is that the 1990 set has no pictures taken in Washington, not even the cards for the Caps.  Most of the pictures seem to have been taken in New Jersey, Boston, New York (MSG or Nassau Coliseum), Philadelphia and Chicago.

On the other hand, it’s not like it’s unheard of to find Photobombing Capitals cards from the 1990’s…

So I’m not sure whether I should do this as a Frankenset or just continue doing it as I’ve been doing it – as a dedicated section of a hockey binder.

…But thinking about ways that I collect hockey cards lead me to the second idea…

SECOND IDEA: THE “DEAD PARROT” SET (This Team Is No More! It has ceased to be!)
The name I gave this set comes from Monty Python’s famous “Dead Parrot Sketch” where John Cleese goes on a long rant describing, in a wide variety of ways, how a parrot he’d just bought turned out to be quite dead.

I already chase after cards featuring the three short-lived NHL teams from when I was a kid: The Cleveland Barons, Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Scouts.

Cards from these three teams wouldn’t be anywhere near enough for a Frankenset, so I would expand the list of teams to include all of the gone-to-meet-its-maker NHL teams from the 1967 expansion to the mid-90’s: the Atlanta Flames, California Golden Seals, Hartford Whalers — If you listen closely, you can hear a cheer coming from Shoebox Legends — Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques and the original Winnipeg Jets.

One major advantage of this idea over the Photobomb idea is that this set could include cards from before the mid-1970’s, and could also include team cards, league leaders, postseason cards and the like.

I could even include cards like this one from the 1994 Cardz “Muppets Take The Ice” set.

I gave some thought towards including the many pushing-up-the-daisies WHA teams – again, a semi-collection of mine – but I think I’d like to keep the WHA cards separate… at least initially.


I’m thinking of excluding the three sets I collected as a kid:  1977/78, 1978/79 and 1979/80 because I’m working towards completing those (except for the way-out-of-my range Gretzky rookie from ’79/’80).  I know I could get a second copy for the FrankenSet, but I’m not sure what I want to do with those.

As far as the size of the FrankenSets(s)… I would consider going up to 396, but 198 or 264 might be more realistic when you take the size of many hockey sets into account. 198 has an advantage over 264 in that it would fit into 9-pocket sheets without empty pockets… of course, I could also use a non-standard number like 270, 288 or 297.

As I said, I’m open to suggestions on any of this.  I could do either of these, I could do both. I would also be open to other ideas for a theme.

I’d also like to hear from anyone who’s done a Frankenset based on card number… I’ve got a number of franksets going which are organized by player & team, but I’ve never done a “proper Frankenset” based on card number.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Potential Pitfalls? Encouragement? Let me know in the comments!

2018 TSR: Johnny Field And Other 1970’s Action Playsets

Two weeks ago saw the Major League debut of Rays outfielder Johnny Field. Aside from the fact that “Johnny Field” sounds like a line of sports-related playsets from the 1970’s, I was also surprised because I have his 2013 Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks card that I pulled from a repack. Admit it, it’s not every day you see those guys make it to the Majors.

For any Johnny Field fans out there, I’ve seen numerous cheap autographs of his out on COMC.

Something I hadn’t discovered until after I’d uploaded these images – Mets pitcher Paul Sewald is from the same high school in Las Vegas as Johnny Field! Holy coincidence!

Sewald is here because I liked the photo and because he’s got some pretty nice stats for a middle reliever… in 11.2 innings he’s struck out 14 while giving up just 7 hits and 2 walks.

Speaking of stats, I was going to feature former Oriole Ryan Flaherty because he was leading the NL in batting average… but at this point it’s emphasis on *was* because he’s fallen off and is now 17th in the league with a .304 batting average.

The Orioles have been something less than inspiring this season, and I’ve pondered a series of “Wish the O’s still had this guy” customs.

Regarding players the O’s still have… One of the relatively few bright spots of this ugly season has been reliever Richard Bleier. Bleier’s in his third season (second with the O’s) and still doesn’t have enough career innings to qualify for an ERA title, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s got a 2-0 record – remember that the O’s only have 7 wins all together – and has given up just one run for a 0.54 ERA .

Like Blier, Yolmer Sanchez is one of the better players on a team with only 7 wins… and he’s our featured glasses-wearing player of the week.

He’s also mislabeled as a 2nd baseman because I didn’t do enough research into what position he’s playing this season (which is 3rd).

Jeff Banister gets a manager card because I don’t see the Rangers very often and prior to this week if you’d asked me who the Rangers’ manager was I would’ve said “Uhhhhhhhh…..”

I hadn’t realized how dependent I was on manager cards until they went away.

I needed an insert for this pack so I went with this custom of Charlotte Caslick, who is – so I’ve read – one of the best women’s Rugby Sevens players in the world.

I just know I saw the photo and said “That is a photo that needs to be made into a custom.”

PWE Playhouse: Baseball, Hockey And A Bonus Card From Shoebox Legends

I recently got a padded envelope from Shoebox Legends; The bulk of it was mainly to help me with two sets I’m slowly working to complete: 1982 Topps Baseball and 1978-79 Topps Hockey.

But there were added “bonus cards”, so don’t bail out just yet!

I didn’t want to get carried away with head shots of guys like Mike Proly so I decided to pick the best three cards from each batch of the two sets, and then added in some extra fun stuff.

Alan Trammell looking “Baseball casual”.  I don’t know why, but using dark & light blue as the Tigers’ colors on this card appeals to me, at least for this card.

Party on, Garth!

Party on, Wayne!  (Where’s Wayne Krenchicki when you need him?)

Gotta love Oscar Gamble cards, even if his afro wasn’t at the legendary stages of the 1970’s.

Moving over to 1978-79 Topps Hockey, I always love to pick up cards for my favorite team from the 1970’s to the 1990’s, the Washington Capitals,

Bernie Wolfe started a financial services company after retiring from the NHL and has apparently been successful enough that his Wikipedia page lists “Canadian Businessman” first before “former ice hockey player”.

I just like the look on Tim Young’s face on this card… I’d love to know what he was thinking.

I also just like the North Stars’ logo and uniforms.

A sure sign that my father’s Ranger fandom had an effect on me even though I was never truly a Rangers fan: I know how to spell “Tkaczuk” without checking.

The Rangers’ late Seventies uniforms wouldn’t be terrible under most circumstances, but because these temporarily and needlessly replaced a classic uniform, these unis go down in history as a major mistake.

I realized as I was writing this that the way I scanned the next entry would be confusing to someone who hadn’t seen them before.  The below image contains two 2.5″ x 3.5″ ‘sheets’ of stickers which were inserts in packs of 1978-79 hockey packs.  I pulled a fair number of these hockey stickers back in the day… The general idea was that you could stick them on your hockey stick, helmet or other bits of hockey (or with my friends, street hockey) equipment.

Do kids still play street hockey? I know they don’t where I live, but hockey ranks waaaay down on the list of popular sports around here. I’d have to drive a couple of hours for even a minor league hockey game.  (*sigh*) I miss watching hockey live…

I used to have a series of posts called “Are We Not Stars?” where I’d review what happened to lesser-known players on multi-card rookie cards such as this one. I don’t know if I want to revive it as a series, but I figured I’d do a quickie here.

Danny Heep is easily the best player on the card, having played 13 seasons in the Majors with the Astros, Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers and Braves.  With all those seasons of coming off the bench, Heep never came close to having enough at bats to qualify for a batting title.

Billy Smith is not the same Billy Smith who played around the same time for the Angels, Orioles and Giants… and is certainly not the Billy Smith who was a goaltender for the New York Islanders.  This Billy Smith pitched 10 games for the Astros in 1981, going 1-1, 3.05 with a single save.  He’d wrap up his pro career by pitching for AAA Tucson in 1982.  Smith went to Sam Houston State University which, I just found out, is in Texas but not in Houston.  Learn something new every day.

Bobby Sprowl is another pitcher whose MLB career, unbeknownst to everyone at the time, was already over.  As Groucho Marx might say, Sprowl pitched for the University of Alabama where the Tuscaloosa.  (You’re welcome, Hackenbush).

Unlike Bobby Sprowl and Billy Smith, you’ve heard of Cal Ripken… and if you haven’t, why exactly are you reading a baseball card blog?  This shiny card is one we didn’t already have in the Shlabotnik Family Cal Collection (Mrs. S has been a Cal fan since ’83).

Finally, the padded envelope was topped off with an always-welcome card from the 1960-61 A&BC English Footballers set!

With Topps Archives Baseball using this same design this year, it occurs to me that it would be cool if Topps did an MLS or EPL insert set also using this same design.  If I were more of a soccer fan I might make some customs.  What the heck, I might do some anyway.  Unfortunately my favorite (relatively speaking) MLS player, Marvell Wynne, recently announced his retirement.  If you missed me mentioning him before, Soccer Marvell Wynne is the son of Baseball Marvell Wynne… but I’m getting pretty far afield, here.

Thanks again to Shane for this excellent group of cards! They are all greatly appreciated!