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.


I gave some thought to a clever subject line, but this is a post full of random scans which I’d meant to post before but never did.  “Stuff” works just fine.

As a fan of hockey and a fan of doughnuts, I felt like I should own at least one card of Tim Horton. It works out well that this card shows him with the Rangers, which was my father’s team.

Just in case anybody things I’m being facetious, hockey player Tim Horton opened the doughnut shop which evolved into the Tim Hortons chain of today. Horton himself was a HOFer who played over 20 seaons, mainly with the Maple Leafs, and died in a car accident while still an active NHL player in 1974.

One of my many back-burnered projects is to complete the 1977-78 Topps Hockey set. In a failed attempt to kick-start the project, I picked up a couple of needed key cards, like this one of HOFer Guy Lafleur.

Here’s another one, the rookie card for goalie Mike Palmateer, who was a favorite of mine from his time with the Washington Capitals.

This card just makes me laugh… Not only because it’s a goofy photo of Bobby Bonilla…

…But it also reminds me of the episode of M*A*S*H where Charles was sitting for a portrait painted by Colonel Potter, but spent the entire session complaining. The kicker at the end was that finished portrait:

R.I.P, David Ogden Stiers.

I’ve never been a basketball fan… When I was a kid I did give it a good try; I wanted to like every team sport. In the end, I had a better appreciation of lacrosse (specifically the indoor one-and-done Long Island Tomahawks) than I ever did of basketball.

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate basketball cards. I’ve always really liked the design of the 1957-58 Topps Basketball set, but you know what?  Even the commons from that set are budget-busting.

Then I discovered that Topps did a 50th Anniversary insert reprint in 2007, and I said “Hey, good enough for me!” …especially when I found some in a dime box.  I picked up a couple of Hall-Of-Famers in Bill Russell…

…And Dolph Schayes, who played his entire career with the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers franchise.

I hadn’t even realized that the Syracuse Nats had become the Sixers until I did some quickie quickie research for this post. Guess I should’ve saved this card for a “Forgotten Franchises” post. Here’s the back of the Schayes card.

Update: These cards are way more than I’d realized; see comments for details.

I have to admit, there’s a small part of me that wishes that 2018 Topps Heritage had cards like this, even if they were just variations.

During the Olympics I saw a segment about the 1960 Gold-medal winning USA hockey team… They had some game footage, and I am always jarred by the sight of goalies who aren’t wearing a mask (like Gilles Gilbert here):

I was watching the footage thinking “Have you lost your mind? Go put a mask on RIGHT NOW, young man!”

I understand it was a different game then, but it still freaks me out a bit.

John Bednarski rookie card!  Wooooo!

John Bednarski’s only card!  Wooooo!  I remember Bednarski’s name from when my Dad watched Rangers games on TV, but I couldn’t tell you anything about him other than he played for the Rangers.

It’s funny… I bought hockey cards in 1975 (more because they were cards than because of hockey), and I got into hockey cards for hockey reasons in 1977, but in the meantime I completely missed the 1976 set, which is kind of a shame because I think that “1976 Joe” would’ve really liked these cards.

After hockey, basketball and baseball, I feel like I should include some football. Here are two 1968 cards that I got cheap (25 cents each, I think) mainly because I like the 1968 design… it’s basically the 1957 basketball cards all over again, don’t care who’s on the card, just like the cards.

I could tell you about these players, but it would just be regurgitating Wikipedia. Look it up yerself, ya lazy bum!


1976 SSPC: Mike Tyson (No, Not That One), Dale Murray & Steve Stone

From when I was a kid and up until I was in my 20’s, when you spoke of “Mike Tyson”, you meant this guy.

“The Original Mike Tyson” was a middle infielder with the Cardinals and Cubs from 1972 to 1981, and he was a starter in many of those seasons.  I think Mike has a pre-production sample of “Big League Chew” stuffed in his cheek.

Dale Murray pitched in 518 games over his 12 year career, and started just one of those (more on this in a bit).  In 1975 he went 15-8 as a reliever… I don’t know what that says about him or the 1975 Expos.  Murray pitched for both Canadian teams (Expos and Blue Jays) and both New York teams (Mets and Yankees).

Murray lead the Majors by pitching in 81 games in 1976;  that ties him with a bunch of other pitchers for 74th best all-time.

His one and only start came while pitching for the Reds on July 28th, 1977.  The Reds scored 6 runs before Murray took the mound, but he pitched 1+ innings and gave up 6 runs, including home runs to Bill Buckner, Bobby Murcer and George Mitterwald, and doubles to Ivan deJesus and opposing pitcher Ray Burris.  Burris would also have a bad start, giving up 8 runs in 2+ innings.  The Cubs would win 16-15 in 13 innings; the two teams would combine for 43 hits.

One of these days I’m going to cave in and just admit that I’m looking to collect any card which shows a player in the Expos’ tri-colored cap (which they wore from 1969 to 1991).

Steve Stone is looking very Seventies on this card.

He’s probably best known as a broadcaster with the Cubs and White Sox, but he won the A.L. Cy Young Award as he went 25-7, 3.23 with the Orioles in 1980.

Tyson and Stone are probably both in Shea, but it’s not like anything I decide would hold up in a court of law.  I’m declaring those two “Can’t Tell” and the Dale Murray Card as “Shea”.
Shea: 81
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 14
Can’t tell: 22
Not Shea: 9

1970’s Census: Keeping track of all the instances of 1970’s trends
Steve Stone seems to have pretty wavy hair based on his later cards, but I’m going to go ahead and declare this a perm.
Total Cards: 125
1970’s Sideburns: 73
Fu Manchu: 5
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 40
Afro: 2
Perm: 3
Aviators: 8
Long Hair: 31

Thinking Too Much About 2018 Topps Heritage

I’m sure everybody’s already seen someone else’s post about 2018 Heritage, but I wanted to bring my own perspective to the newly-released set.  Some of this likely comes across as nit-pick-y, but I don’t mean it to be critical, it’s more along the lines of “Hey, I’m analytical and visually-oriented and I noticed this – isn’t it interesting?”

One of the first things I did was run upstairs, pull out my 1969 Topps cards and fetch a 1969 Topps Ed Charles card to put up against my 2018 Topps Heritage Wilmer Flores card:

One of the things I noticed off the bat was how much brighter the 1969 card is “in hand”.  The white border matches up nicely, but it seems to be more that the current photos are more saturated and “hi def”.

The second thing I noticed… well, “noticed” isn’t the right word because other people had pointed it out… but Topps made many of the position notations longer than on the originals.  Here it’s “Third Baseman” vs. “3rd Base”, but there’s also “Outfielder” vs. “Outfield” as well as “First Baseman” and “Second Baseman”.  Kind of an odd choice when you’re working with a relatively small amount of real estate on the card.

The third thing that jumped out at me was the colored circle which features the player’s name and position is noticeably smaller in 2018 Heritage:

That’s Heritage on the left, 1969 on the right.

As I found out, it’s less noticeable because the photo is also smaller… Something which I found to be curious.

Let’s start by comparing the photo size vertically:

Again, it’s Heritage on the left, 1969 on the right.  No question that the photo is larger on the vintage card.  What about horizontally?

Heritage on the top, 1969 on the bottom… again, slightly larger.  That got me thinking;  the 1969 card has a larger circle and larger photos… but is the relative size within the card any different?

So I loaded both images into my aged copy of Paint Shop Pro, superimposed one on the other, adjusted the size of the 1969 until the borders matched the Heritage, and this is what I got.

Heritage on the left, adjusted 1969 on the right… You can see that the thin black border line matches up, and now the colored circles are almost the same.

So what we’ve got are Heritage cards with slightly wider white borders than the original 1969 cards… which is pretty interesting.  I know that cards are expected to be centered these days, but I got the impression there are all kinds of technological advancements which allow greater precision… so why are we being ever-so-slightly shortchanged on our photo size?

Let’s compare the card backs… overall a nice job, although the originals were a little more brightly salmon-colored (my scanner makes it look like a greater difference than it is):

Let’s “zoom in” on the upper left corner…

In an ever-lasting peeve for me, the Heritage card numbers are smaller than the originals.  Grumpy Old Man does not approve.


One thing that Topps continues to do – something which isn’t really good or bad, it’s just a thing – is use different colors for a franchise that was in another place in 1969.  For example, there’s the 1969 Washington Senators, a team which is now the Texas Rangers:

That’s the Heritage Rangers and 1969 Senators, respectively.

New for 2018 we have the Nationals and Expos…

I’m not wild about the light green with yellow lettering for the Nats.  My scanner’s sometimes not the best at replicating colors, so I’ll point out that the Expos had black letters on a pink circle.

For what would seem to be a one-and-done, we’ve got the Brewers and Pilots:

The Pilots, a one-year team, would appear in 1970 Topps, but that set doesn’t assign specific colors to each team, so there won’t be the same thing next year.  1971 Topps/2020 Heritage will both have Brewers, 1972/2021 will both have Rangers and then we’ll just be left with the Expos/Nationals as the sole team which moved between sets.

Unfortunately within my blaster did not contain any base Astros cards, otherwise I’d point out that the 1969 versions used a light green circle and said “HOUSTON” on the bottom, due to lingering copyright issues.  2018 Heritage has “ASTROS” across the bottom, which you’d expect, but the colors have inexplicably changed…. Instead of light green, ti’s a dark purple-y blue with black and yellow lettering (and the black is hard to read against the dark purple-y blue).  I find this very odd.

Let’s go back to that last image again…

Notice how both cards feature players with short last names, but the font is different.  This is something that bugs me about Archives and Heritage… Back in the day, Topps would often use two or more related fonts, rather than one universal font, for things like player names.  You can clearly see that names like “AKER” and “BRAND” are in thicker, wider fonts than are used for “EPSTEIN” or “CHARLES”.  Yet in Heritage, they just use the same font across the board.  That’s just something that’s long bugged me.

Quick comparison of the All-Star cards:

Generally a good job of replicating, other than the white borders are again slightly larger, the “News” is famously “Topps” instead of “Sporting” (but at least not “Fake”), and Topps wants to cram too much text into the circle… instead of “Outfield” and “NATIONALS”, we have “Outfielder” and “WASHINGTON NATIONALS”.

There’s also something going on here that I find interesting.  The original All-Star cards had a close-up portrait on one side, the circle on the other, and the background was an action shot taken from a distance and shown in black and white.    The new cards “follow the letter of the law”, but have a smaller portrait and a larger action shot… it reminds me of a badly-remixed 1960’s album I have where the lead vocalist, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums and background vocals are all at the same apparent volume and it drives me nuts because you can no longer hear the vocals over the rhythm section.

…But I guess the real point is that the photographers from Getty Images, with their fancy digital cameras and zoom lenses… well, they don’t take action shots from quite a long way away… and you can’t just make the action image smaller because you don’t have the background to fill the rest of the space.

One last thing I noticed just before  hitting the “Publish” button:  The words “ALL-STAR” became italicized in the new version.

Quick minor complaint about the rookie cards:

Sure, the originals used the first initial if your first name was something long like Merv Rettenmund, Rich Robertson or Cesar Guttierez.  But you know what?  I think that “ZACK GRANITE” and “FELIX JORGE” will fit in there without a shoehorn getting involved.  Seems to be another instance of someone at Topps saying “You know what, I don’t feel like dealing with it… everybody gets handled *this* way”.

I was going to get more into showing examples of other base cards and inserts, but I’ve gone on so long already that I’ll just get into the two major surprises for me…

Surprise #1:  Target Exclusive “Transogram” inserts

When I saw one of these out on Twitter…

I said “Is that a ‘Transogram’ card?  Since when does Heritage include Transogram cards?”  For the record, these are on the checklist as “1969 Collectors Cards (Target Only)”.

A little background for those not familiar with Transogram…  Back in 1969 and 1970, a company called Transogram put out little baseball figures – think “Starting Lineup” – and the boxes had cut-out baseball cards on them.  I don’t have any Transogram cards or statues – they’re fairly rare and a bit pricey, plus I just haven’t bothered to track them down – so I borrowed this image from The Trading Card Database.

They did a nice job of replicating these, and did a nice job of confusing a lot of card collectors who said “This is pretty cool…  What the heck is it?”

Surprise #1:  Checklist Cards

Back two months ago I had a series of posts about what Topps should do if they really wanted Heritage to be true to 1969 Topps.  Much of what I pointed out, like blacked-out caps and five-year-old photos, were thankfully not replicated.  However, I’d also re-created a checklist and said “Oh, they’ll never do this”.

Now I need to point out that this Machado isn’t a real card (as if it weren’t apparent enough by Tom Servo, Ben Grimm and Barney Rubble being included on the checklist).  The reason I need to point it out is because Topps went ahead and created checklist cards with player photos:

Now why they suddenly decided to do this now when 2016 and 2017 Heritage could’ve included cards like this – and when 1969 was the last year Topps did this – I have no clue.

I thought I’d be excited about these, but it turns out I’m not.  When push comes to shove, they’re still checklist cards taking a slot away from some other player, and while it’s fun today to pick up a vintage checklist card featuring Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson or Brooks Robinson, it’s far less exciting to pick up a checklist card featuring Cody Bellinger, Kris Bryant or Aaron Judge.  No offense intended, guys.

Actually, I think I just answered my own question:
Q:  “Why are they suddenly making checklist cards?”
A:  “Cody Bellinger, Kris Bryant and Aaron Judge… especially Aaron Judge”.

Keep an eye out for Shohei Ohtani checklists in Heritage High #’s!

Getting back to the cards themselves, the original cards were “1st Series”, “2nd Series” and so forth.  Of course, this batch of checklist cards are ALL “1st Series”, so it looks kind of… dumb.

My final verdict:  You want to do this?  Fine.  Make the checklist cards be shortprints, and free up a handful of the regular player cards from SP Hell.  Same goes for League Leader cards.

So that’s about all I have for now (as if it weren’t enough).

Thank you for reading through my long ramblings about Heritage.  Maybe I think too much for my own good… Some people say so.  Other people say “No, no… The fact is you don’t think as much as you could.”


$4 Worth Of Entertainment From Dollar Tree

The other day I ran some lunchtime errands which took me in a direction I don’t normally go, and whenever I take that path less traveled I make a point of stopping at a Dollar Tree along the way. This particular Dollar Tree is unique among the ones in my area because this is the only Dollar Tree I’ve found which actually has cards.

I bought two 30-card CardsOne “Mixed Sports Ultimate Jumbo Packs”, a 30-card Presstine baseball repack and, just for the heck of it, a pack of 2017-18 NBA Hoops.

The “junk” in the repack was of a slightly better quality than I normally run across… Case in point, out of the 90 repack cards, I got only a couple of cards from the wildly overproduced three-year stretch of 1988-1990 Donruss. Many of the cards I did get were from 1980’s Topps sets that I’m not actively chasing, but also wouldn’t mind completing someday.

I’ve gotten so used to seeing glossier versions of these cards that it was a bit jarring to see a real 1983 Topps card.

Marshall Edwards had a fair number of baseball cards considering that he never appeared in more than 69 games in his 3-season MLB career.

The CardsOne bags guarantee a HOFer in every pack;  here’s one right here..

Pulling a Rollie Fingers card is never a bad thing…

I got a couple which fall into the “not-Mets” category…

I was surprised to pull a 1991 Bowman card of a Met that I needed.  I ripped a bunch of packs of ’91 Bowman at the time – I ripped a lot of EVERYTHING in 1991 – but I never went back and filled in my team sets.

There was also a 1983 Fleer card, which was a welcome sight.  I don’t get the impression that 1983 Fleer is a beloved set, but I really liked it then, I really like it now.

1983 Fleer was a nice bounceback after the poor attempt that was 1982 Fleer.

I also got a 1982 Topps Sticker of Gary Carter, which was my other guaranteed HOF and, for me,  was worth the price of the pack it came in.

The biggest surprise of the repacks were these three cards from the 1991-issued Topps “1990 Major League Debut” set.

These don’t technically fit into any of my collections, but when I get around to doing my 1991 Team/Player Frankenset these cards may very well fill in an empty spot in the Reds, Angels or Cardinals “rosters”.

I also got a bunch of cards from this 1990 Checkered Flag IHRA set, which isn’t of huge interest to me, but they’re fairly nice cards. I’m going to add one or two of these to my “type” collection.

I also notice that there are almost none of these out on COMC, and as I’m getting ready to replenish my COMC store’s inventory I might send a couple of these in to see if “low supply” wins out over “low demand”. (Don’t worry; I’m not one of those sellers who slaps a $24.95 price on low-population commons)

I got a Reggie Jackson! Unfortunately it’s not THAT Reggie Jackson.

Today I learned that the Detroit Pistons have a point guard named Reggie Jackson.

And I also pulled a LeBron James!  Wooo!

That’s a car payment right there! (as long as the car in question is from the Hot Wheels bin at Kroger)

One last thing I got at Dollar Tree: A “theater-size” box of Milk Duds, which did not survive the afternoon.  I really need to stop listening to the voice in my head that says “Hey, as long as we’re here…”

Curling Customs – Last Mention Of Gold Medals And Anastasia Bryzgalova

I’m sure people are saying “Get back to the baseball cards already!” but I have one more post to get the Olympics out of my system… and at any rate I’ve put a lot of work into these and I want to get them out here.

When I started planning these last fall, I was thinking of the different types of customs I might be making, and while I was thinking of making “postseason” customs…

I thought the USA would be competitive, but I wasn’t sure about medals, especially after the Men got off to a 2-4 start in round-robin play… but the bad start almost seemed to take the pressure off, the team beat Canada in the 7th game and never looked back.

Next thing we knew, John Shuster’s team had beaten Canada for the second time to get to the Gold Medal game…

…and then shocked everybody by scoring 5 in the 8th end against a dominant Swedish team.  The next thing we know…

It’s Gold Medal time, baby!

I don’t have the time or inclination to get into much more about the Olympics themselves, but I wanted to share a few other cards and tell you about where to go to see the rest of the ones I made (there are quite a few).

By popular request, here’s Anastasia Bryzgalova again.

Say what you want about her, she doesn’t seem to be one of these people who pose for pictures biting her medal.  I won’t say that such behavior is good or bad, but I really do not get it.

I was also rooting for the USA women as well…

…but they didn’t make it out of the pack, so I ended up rooting for the Japanese women, who always seem so excited and happy to be there.  The Japanese women’s team beat Great Britain in the Bronze Medal game.

The Korean women surprised by taking Silver won a whole lot of fans in South Korea and elsewhere.

The Swedish women won Gold.

Here are a few other customs that I thought worth sharing in the blog…


If you’d like to see more of these, I’ve posted all of these plus another 25+ more “unpublished” customs over in my 2018 TSR Curling Gallery.  Yeah, I really went nuts with these.

As always, I enjoyed doing these and I hope you enjoyed them as well!

Hot Stove: Photo Day Means No More “Photoshopping”

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about baseball.  I’ve been doing a lot of Olympic stuff lately, and I’m not done with that, but this week provided a day… or, to be accurate, a group of days… which always make me feel like baseball is truly here.

That day is “Photo Day”.  The day when everybody in camp is run through a photo session and we can see what each team’s new players will look like in their new unis.

For me, it also signals a moment when it’s just silly to be “photoshopping” players into new uniforms.  I actually had 3-D customs of Yu Darvish and Todd Frazier in the works, but now there’s no real reason to finish either one.

I did decide to make a few Hot Stove customs in the style of 1963 Post, which I’d used for all of the new managers.  Because I had to modify the custom template to allow for batting stats, and because that was much more of a pain in the you-know than I expected, today’s post only includes batters.  I’ll try to get Yu and some other pitchers done for next week.

Carlos Santana signed with the Phillies two months ago, and that was this Mets fan’s moment of “Oh, crap, the Phils don’t see themselves phoning it in this year, do they?”

Before I forget, here’s a disclaimer: I didn’t proofread the stats or text very closely, so don’t use these to settle any high-stakes bets.

I was excited about the Mets signing Todd Frazier for two reasons… He’s a good addition, of course, but it also signals that the Mets have conceded that David Wright is not going to come back anytime soon, if at all.

That sounds worse than I intend it… I do hope that David Wright is able to make it back.  But I’m pretty pessimistic about his chances and I’m happy that the Mets are acknowledging that.

Andrew McCutchen looks strange out of a Pirates uniform, but given that he’s in a walk year, I don’t blame the Bucs for getting what they could for him.

The Christian Yelich trade to the Brewers was one of those trades where I was happy for certain players moving in either direction. Yelich gets out of Miami and hopefully (for him) plays for a contender.

Meanwhile, prospect Lewis Brinson went to the Marlins as part of the return package, and he’s actually excited about going to Miami… He grew up in Florida as a Marlins fan, and is going to wear the same number as Juan Pierre, his childhood idol.

I have to admit, even though it’s a pain to insert the personal information, stats and text – and yes, the text is legit and isn’t just “lorem ipsum” or “Yadda yadda” – I like the way these customs are turning out and I may continue to make them even after the “Hot Stove” season draws to an end.

Olympic Hockey Customs – One Final Batch (With A Touch Of Wunder)

After the women’s gold medal hockey game, I decided that I should make a few more customs, so I made two for the USA and two for Canada…

…But after seeing how the German men’s team beat top-seeded Sweden and then hockey powerhouse Canada to make it to the Gold Medal game, I thought I’d add a “bonus” card to the batch.

I wanted to do this using a different card design than I’d used so far, but what do I use? I thought about some of the designs which had been voted on for last year’s World Baseball Classic set, and I was strongly considering using the 1966 Topps Hockey design when inspiration hit…

There are those calling the German team’s performance a “Wunder auf Eis” (Miracle on ice)… What better design to use for ein Wunder than the 1976 Wunder – ahhh – WONDER Bread football design?

Christian Ehrhoff is the one player on this team I am familiar with… He played in the NHL from 2007 to 2016 with the Sharks, Sabres, Canucks and other teams.

I would love to see Germany finish off this Wunder auf Eis, but win or lose this is an incredible accomplishment for this team.

So for those who hadn’t seen it – SPOILER ALERT – the USA women’s team beat Canada in a shootout. I don’t love the idea of settling a Gold Medal with a shootout, but it is what it is.

Most of the key players for each team already had their customs, but I wanted to go back and fill in a couple of more…

Dani Cameranesi was the USA’s leading scorer, scoring three goals and two assists in five games.

She also scored two goals in the semi-final win over Finland which put them into the Gold Medal game.

Maddie Rooney was the goaltender for the Gold Medal game, shut out the Finns in the semi-final, and carried a 1.16 GPA in the Olympics.

Meghan Agosta had two goals, three assists and a plus/minus of 7.

This had been Agosta’s fourth Olympics, having won Gold in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Melodie Daoust was Canada’s leading scorer with three goals and four assists. Like Agosta, she also had a plus/minus of 7.

She also has one of my favorite names in the Olympics… “DA-OOOOOOO!”

So that’s it for Olympic Hockey, but that’s not it for the Olympics… I’m going to have one more batch of Olympic Curling custom cards coming… but first, I’m going to be back tomorrow with some baseball customs… Remember baseball? Baseball is coming.


Because I’m a sucker for flattery, I have created and added two more customs for USA players Gigi Marvin and Amanda Pelkey. Enjoy!