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.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Roy Howell to Ron Hunt

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.


1979 Topps #101

Played 1974 – 1984
1970’s Teams: Rangers, Blue Jays

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the Blue Jays’ representative at the 1978 All-Star Game; Had 9 RBI in one game against the Yankees on 9/10/77, which is tied for the Blue Jays team record… Howell hit two homers, two doubles and a single; In 1975, at the age of 21, he became the youngest player in “New” Senators/Rangers history to hit a grand slam, a record which would stand until Rougned Odor hit one at the age of 20 in 2014; Lead the expansion 1977 Blue Jays with a .316 average; Was involved in turning a Triple Play for the Blue Jays against the Indians, 9/7/79

Card Stuff:
Made it into 1979 Hostess and Kellogg’s sets


1977 Topps #495

Played 1970 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Royals

1970’s Highlights:
Won the 1975 NL “Fireman” award while leading the league with 22 saves *and* a .813 winning % (13-3); Got 2 first place votes for the 1975 Cy Young Award, but finished 3rd behind winner Tom Seaver; Was the July 1975 NL Pitcher of the Month when he had a 0.43 ERA, a 6-0 record and 3 saves over 13 games and 21 innings

Fun Stuff:
His nickname is “The Mad Hungarian” (although I seem to remember that he’s not ethnically Hungarian, it’s just a nickname); Is a member of the Cardinals broadcast team; Played himself in the 1985 film “The Slugger’s Wife”… other players who appeared in that movie (and who have all been done already in this A-Z series) were Mark Fidrych, Bucky Dent and Bernie Carbo


1977 Topps #369

Played 1971 – 1979
1970’s Teams: Expos, Tigers, Angels

1970’s Highlights:
was considered a candidate to be the Expos starting catcher when he was coming up through their system, but was eclipsed by Barry Foote and Gary Carter, and played only as a backup for Montreal; Was the Angels starting catcher for most of 1977 after being acquired from the Astros in a trade; Initiated a 2-5-3-6 Triple Play for the Expos against the Astros on 6/3/72

Fun Stuff:
Was the last Tigers player to wear #47 before Jack Morris; Was the second Expos draft pick to make it to the Majors (pitcher Balor Moore was the first)

Card Stuff:
Appears in 1976 Topps with the Tigers, but he’d already been traded to the Astros after 18 games with Detroit (and he’d never play for Houston)


1970 Kellogg’s #31

Played 1964 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Cubs, Twins, Padres

1970’s Highlights:
Caught two no-hitters in 1972: Burt Hooton’s on 4/16/72 and Milt Pappas’ on 9/2/72

Career Highlights:
Was an All-Star in 1969; Won a Gold Glove in 1967;  In 1966 he set records for most home runs by a rookie catcher (19) and most games caught by a rookie;  Was named the catcher on the 1966 Topps All-Star Rookie Team;  Hit for the cycle against the Astros on 8/11/66

Fun Stuff:
Father of Mets catcher Todd Hundley; Randy’s legal name is Cecil Randolph Hundley


1974 Kellogg’s #25

Played 1963 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Giants, Expos, Cardinals

1970’s Highlights:
Was the first baserunner at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia (walked and stole 2nd base)

Career Highlights:
Was the first Met to start an All-Star game; Finished 2nd to Pete Rose in 1964 NL Rookie of the Year voting;

Holds the Expos/Nationals career record with 114 HBP and single-season record with 50 HBP in 1971; Holds the Giants single-season mark with 26 HBP in 1970;  Lead the NL in HBP each season from 1968 to 1974

Card Stuff:
He appeared in 1975 Topps (airbrushed into a Cardinals cap), but was released in Spring Training and didn’t play in the Majors after 1974;  Hunt’s 1971 O-Pee-Chee card featured a different photo, and based on the uniform the photo appears to have been from no later than 1967

10% of my 2021 Cards Came In A PWE From Dimebox Nick

This is partly testament to how many cards Sir Nick Of The Dimeboxes can fit into a Plain White Envelope, but it’s also is an indication of how my incoming cardboard has slowed to a trickle:  During the first three months of 2021, a scant 171 cards came into my house… and 17 of those came in a PWE I received from Nick two weeks ago.

This doesn’t have much bearing on the PWE itself, other than that I may have appreciated it even more than I usually do.  I’ve been doing a lot of organizing over the past three months, and that’s great and waaaaaaaaaay overdue, but it’s always fun to get new-to-me cards.  I’ll share a bunch of them in this post, and save a few more for another post.

This 2020 Leaf card of top prospect Adley Rutschman is my third card of the Orioles “Catcher of the Future”… and the funny thing is that all three came from Nick..

They did a pretty decent job of replicating the original 1990 Leaf design, and with the catcher’s gear blocking all team identification you wouldn’t know at a glance that this is an unlicensed card. Has Panini or Leaf done an insert set of only catchers in their full equipment?  Seems like a natural.

As long as we’re talking about cards which were not licensed by Major League Baseball, I was happy to receive this 1993 Post card of Cal Ripken, one of the Cal oddballs which have evaded me to this point.  I sometimes wonder if it would look less awkward if they also photoshopped out the “8” from the front of his jersey.  Looks odd just sitting there

Gregg Jefferies was the Luis Robert of late 1980s, and this makes for my 15th different card of his from 1989, which seems like a lot by 1989 standards… except that TCDB shows over 200 different 1989 cards for Jefferies. Yes, many of them are Broders, magazine inserts, corrected errors, Tiffany cards and other variations… but even so, that’s a crap-ton of cards for the time.

Like so many products of the past year, I underestimated the demand for 2020 Topps Update and I had never seen any of the “#1 Prospect” cards based on the 1989 Topps design.  I didn’t realize that they used photos of the prospects in Minor League uniforms;  in this case, Ryan Mountcastle is wearing a Triple-A Norfolk Tides uniform.

Five years later and I still only have a couple of these 2016 Walmart Marketside cards… and again, I think they all came from Nick.  I like them, I just never run across them.

I think this is a “Silver Pack” card from 2019 Topps.  These things always screw me up because when they come to me after-the-fact I expect them to be a shiny parallel of the 1984 Inserts, but the photos are different so they are their own thing.

I’m not a collector of parallels, but the blue 2020 Big League parallels sure look nice with Mets cards.

1988 O-Pee-Chee is also a sort of parallel, but there’s always something cool about real OPC cards, as opposed to “We own the trademark” Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee cards… although those can sometimes be cool, like in 2009.

This next card also has the 1988 design, but it’s a 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites card;  these sets were an odd beast… retired players on older Topps designs, but like with current-day Archives, the designs weren’t always for years that the retired player appeared in.  I like it better when they matched up – David Cone won 20 games for the Mets in 1988 – rather than having, say, Roger Maris on a 1974 design (I don’t think that actually happened, I’m just doing Mad Libs there … “Name of retired player”, “Name of favorite Topps set”)

I’ll save the best for last in this case…  I was very surprised to find a 1957 Orioles card in a PWE!  This Billy O’Dell card serves as a reminder that completing the 1957 Topps Orioles team set was a top goal of mine at one point (which basically got sidetracked by lack of card shows and lack of incoming revenue in my COMC account).

I’ll admit I didn’t know much about Billy O’Dell.  Turns out he was an All-Star in 1958 and 1959 and in those seasons put up 14 and 10 wins for some mediocre Baltimore teams.  His 1958 season is one that sabermetricians would appreciate as he lead the league with 2.69 strikeouts per walk, 0.5 home runs per 9 innings, and a Fielding Independent Pitching rating of 2.75.  I’m frankly too braindead at the moment to pretend to understand that last one other than to say “Hey, he lead the league!”

This does not cover all of what I got from Nick, but in an upcoming post I will combine the remainder of this PWE with another small PWE I got from Julie of A Cracked Bat.

Thank you very much, Nick!  As always, I appreciate your generosity!



2021 TSR Daily: A Sketch Card Not Of My Own Doing

When I started out doing my 2021 TSR Daily customs (called “Daily” because I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily ), I decided to compile the “checklist” as if I were creating a real set which would represent the best eight-or-so players from each team.

Ever since I decided on that format, I’ve been looking for another way to include the players *I* want to make customs for… and I think I’ve got a new “insert set” which covers that.

…But before we get to that, I want to lead off with a different sort of insert. One thing I’ve been pondering for a year or two is creating some sketch cards which would make use of my modest drawing abilities.

Well, after Joe Musgrove pitched the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history, I was beaten to the punch.  Phungo Tweeted out a sketch card using my 2021 TSR Daily design as the “canvas”.

This brought a big smile to my face, both because I liked the sketch card in and of itself, and also in a Sally Field “You like it!  You really like it!” kind of way.  Thank you, Phungo!  I truly appreciate the homage!  (I’ll also throw out a link to his blog).

OK, on to the “base cards”…

Christian Walker lead the 2020 D-Backs in doubles was among the team leaders in runs, hits, homers, RBI and Slugging %.  There’s a part of me who’s a bit irritated that the Orioles lost Walker on waivers 4 years ago, but I’ll also admit that the one thing the O’s don’t really need is another first baseman.

Adam Wainwright has pitched in 16 seasons for the Cardinals, so I’d forgotten that he was originally a 2000 1st round pick of the Braves. I love Wainwright’s socks, so I made sure that they were included when I cropped the image

Last week, Brandon Woodruff no-hit the Cubs into the 7th inning but ended up with a no-decision when the Brew Crew won in extra innings.  Woodruff was much sharper in that start than in his first start of the year when he gave up 3 runs in 4 innings.

Last year Bryce Harper lead the league in Walks and his 8 stolen bases was tied for 10th with four other players.  What’s funny about this custom is that I was intending to not spend much time on it because “Eh, it’s just Bryce Harper”, but then I ran across this image and said “Oh, well *that’s* a nice shot…”

John Means was the Opening Day starter for the O’s and lead the team in K’s in 2020.  Even within the Orioles organization he seemed to come out of nowhere to become the staff ace.  I don’t believe anybody had him pegged as a significant prospect.

Anthony Rizzo has won three straight Gold Gloves and has been top 5 in HBP every year since since 2014… I discovered this fact yesterday while poking around his Baseball Reference page trying to find something interesting to say about him… and Boy Howdy, that’s pretty interesting

Former 1st round pick Ian Anderson (3rd overall in 2016) pitched as a rookie in the 2020 postseason and came out with a 2-0 record and a 0.96 ERA over 4 starts.  I started semi-collecting him 3 years ago after I stumbled across his Pro Debut card and said “Hey, his name is the same as the frontman from Jethro Tull!”

OK, as for that insert set I mentioned at the beginning… I knew what I wanted to do in terms of creating another custom set which would highlight the players I would want to feature in custom cards — I even had a name for it:  “Shlabotnik’s Picks” — but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about “invoking” it.

I played around with some already-existing custom templates I had sitting around but hadn’t used much.  One that stuck out to me was for a personal favorite which has its 25th anniversary this year:  1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice.  That set’s simple but elegant design is one of my favorites of the 1990s and I put a fair amount of effort into chasing the set back then.

I played around with what I had, but I wasn’t happy with it… and then I hit on the idea of dropping the standard base card version and making a custom using the full-bleed version of the design used for several subsets, and things fell into place.


I still need to play with the fonts a bit, but I like the way this is panning out.  It’s hard to tell from the image, but I replaced the “Collector’s Choice” badge with “Shlabotnik’s Picks”, and also swapped out my cartoon face for the UD logo.

I also tried to ‘photoshop’ a ballpark background to replace the studio backdrop, but Doolittle’s beard with it’s undefined edges made it more effort than I wanted to get into.  I’m not unhappy with the results, though.

OK, that’s it for this week’s pack.  Have fun, stay healthy and be excellent to each other!


The 1970’s, A To Z: Bob Horner to Frank Howard

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.


1979 Topps #586

Played 1978 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Braves

1970’s Highlights:
In 1978 Horner was the first-ever winner of the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top amateur player in the USA; In 1977 he won a National Championship with Arizona State U. and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series; Set an ASU record with 56 career homers; Was the first overall pick in the 1978 Draft and went straight to the Majors, where he would be named the 1978 NL Rookie of the Year; Inducted into the Arizona State University Hall of Fame in 1979

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the College Baseball HOF in 2006; Was named to the All-Star team in 1982; Hit 4 homers in a single game in 1986

Fun Stuff:
Played the 1987 season in Japan with the Yakult Swallows

Card Stuff:
Appeared in numerous 1987 sets, but played in Japan; Appeared in 1988 and 1989 sets with the Cardinals, although his St. Louis career was limited to 60 games in 1988


1976 Topps #320

Played 1963 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Tigers, Rangers, Indians, A’s, Blue Jays, Mariners

1970’s Highlights:
Was named to the All-Star team in 1970 and 1973;  Was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year for 1979 when he had career-highs in RBI (106) and games played (162) while hitting his highest home run total of the 1970s (29);  was named the April, 1976 AL Player of the Month; Was the first Texas Ranger to hit three home runs in a game

Career Highlights:
Had his #23 retired by the Tigers, the only non-HOFer to hold that honor;  batted .304 in the 1968 World Series;  his 262 homers with the Tigers ranks 5th on the team’s all-time list;  Overall he had three seasons with at least 100 RBI and six seasons with at least 25 home runs; Played in 18 seasons, 15 of them with the Tigers

Fun Stuff:
In the 1980s, Willie played two seasons for the Pirates’ Triple-A team in Portland and another season in Mexico

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every ‘flagship’ Topps set of the 1970s;  His time with the Indians and A’s was never reflected in any mainstream card appearances;  appeared in 1978 Topps with the Rangers, but had been traded to the Indians in the offseason; appeared in 1979 Topps with the Blue Jays, but had signed as a free agent with the Mariners for that season


1975 Topps #71

Played 1970 – 1994
1970’s Teams: Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
A knuckleballer who spent all of the 1970s as a Dodgers reliever; Lead the Dodgers in saves in 1976 and 1977; Pitched in the postseason during three different years but has no decisions or saves to show for it

Career Highlights:
While a starting pitcher with the Rangers in the 1980s, Hough served as a workhorse, leading the lead in starts twice and innings pitched once; He had six seasons with 15+ wins and holds the Texas Rangers career records with 139 wins and 1,452 strikeouts; At the age of 45 he started the first game in Florida Marlins history

Fun Stuff:
Is the only pitcher to have 400 starts and 400 relief appearances


1978 Topps #684

Played 1947 – 1954
Managed 1961 – 1984
1970’s Teams: Yankees, Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
Named the Sporting News AL Manager of the Year in 1970, a year when he guided the Yankees to 93 wins and a 2nd place finish, 15 games behind the World Champion Orioles; Stepped down as the Yankees manager after the 1973 season, and wasn’t out of work long before being hired by the Tigers. He managed Detroit for five seasons, only once finishing above .500

Career Highlights:
In his first three years as manager of the Yankees (1961 – 1963), Houk won three AL pennants and two World Championships, moved up to be the Yanks’ GM and then went back to managing the Yankees after a losing 1965 record and a slow (4-16) start by the Johnny Keane-led Bronx Bombers; Also managed the Red Sox in the 1980s; As a player he was a backup catcher for the Yankees and stuck behind Yogi Berra for most of his career

Fun Stuff:
Was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart while in the Army during World War II; Rose to the rank of Major while in the Army, which is where his nickname, “The Major”, came from

Card Stuff:
His only card as a player came in 1952 Topps


1970 Topps Super #16

Played 1958 – 1973
1970’s Teams: Senators, Rangers, Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
Frank Howard, at 6’7″, was among the biggest players in the Majors during his career and a popular member of the Washington Senators teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s; Lead the league in Home Runs (44) and RBI (136) in 1970; Was named to the AL All-Star team in 1970 and 1971

Career Highlights:
Was named the 1960 NL Rookie of the Year; Broke a Babe Ruth record by hitting 10 home runs in one week during the 1968 season; Hit a homer in the 1969 All-Star Game; Was named the 1965 AL Comeback Player of the Year; Hit a home run in Game 4 of the 1963 World Series to help the Dodgers sweep the Yankees; Signed to extend his career in 1974 with Japan’s Taiheiyo Club Lions, but ended up playing just one game due to an injury; Managed the Padres in 1981 and the Mets in 1983

Fun Stuff:
His nicknames include “Hondo”, “Horse”, “The Tower”, “The Capital Punisher” and “The Washington Monument”

2021 TSR Daily: A Quick Pack

It’s time for another virtual pack of my 2021 TSR Daily custom card set… if you’re wondering why it’s called “Daily”, that’s because I Tweet out a custom each day (#2021TSRDaily) and then share them here each week, sort of like opening a pack.

This past week has been a busy one for me, so this is going to be a quick post with no inserts… but it does include a “promo card” for another project I’m working on.

Andrés Giménez, one of the key pieces obtained by the Indians in the trade which sent Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets, is the starting shortstop in Cleveland.

I saw both Lindor and Giménez when they played in the minors and both made an impression on me at the time, so for me this trade was also a “trade” between my collections… Lindor goes from Player Collection to Mets Collection and vice versa for Giménez.

There was a bit of a hoo-hah this past week after Topps announced that the Cavan Biggio card on the Heritage base card checklist (#216) doesn’t actually show up in packs of Heritage (but a French Language parallel and a mini *can* be pulled from packs).  I wanted to make sure I didn’t also “forget” to include Biggio, so here is his custom. 

Here’s your fun Biggio fact: After 161 Major League games, the only positions he hasn’t played is pitcher, catcher and shortstop. …And, oh, yeah… he’s the son of HOFer Craig Biggio, in case you didn’t know.

It appears that Heritage inserts are printed in advance of the base set, so the Biggio “variations but not base” situation isn’t that strange. I know that in 2014 Heritage, the base Curtis Granderson card has him photoshopped into a Mets jersey, but the black-bordered parallel shows him with the Yankees (his team in 2013). I’m pretty sure there are other examples, but this is the one I’m familiar with (and I thought I had a scan of these cards, but apparently not… and sorry, I’m doing this post on the fly so I don’t have time to scan it now).

Dylan Bundy lead the Angels in Wins and K’s last year and was the Angels’ Opening Day starter. For what it’s worth, he was also one of two former Orioles (along with Kevin Gausman) who started on Opening Day. Neither pitched as well as John Means, who started for the O’s and beat the Red Sox.

In 2019 Sandy Alcantara was the Marlins All-Star representative and lead the league with 2 shutouts. He was the Marlins’ Opening Day starter and got a no-decision.

Two-time All-Star Alex Bregman currently leads the league in home runs, as if that means anything at this point. I chose this image because I liked Bregman’s hop, but I think I cropped it a bit too tightly for the hopping to be clear. Maybe I’ll change that for the Factory Set (Yes, this *is* a joke)

On a personal note, I’ve finally gotten past the point where I had wanted to spell his name as “Bergman”.

José Berríos, a 2-time All-Star, pitched 6 no-hit innings before being pulled by manager Rocco Baldelli. The Twins took a combined no-hitter into the 8th and ended up with a one-hitter.

Last year Brandon Lowe lead the Rays in runs, hits, homers and RBI.

I tweeted this next one on April Fool’s Day, as it seemed kind of fitting. 

For a number of years now, whenever I run across an image that seems ridiculous or somewhat embarrassing for the subject, I’ll make a custom out of it and list the player as “Joe Shlabotnik”. I guess you’d call it a tradition after all this time.

Promo card time: I’ve been slowly working on a custom set for Curling, the Olympic sport which is far more popular in Canada than here in the US. Right now the Men’s World Championships are underway and the skip for Team Canada is Brendan Bottcher (who was, at the time I made this custom, representing the province of Alberta in the Canadian championships).

Incidentally, the design comes from the 1965 Topps Canadian Football League set which, of course, was only issued in Canada… but I really like the design, it’s got a cool old-school design which lends itself to doing modern stuff. I’d used this design a few years ago as part of a “Hot Stove” set between baseball seasons.

OK, that’s the pack for this week.  I hope that you’re having better luck than I am at getting real packs to rip.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Gil Hodges to Burt Hooton

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.


1970 Topps #394

Played 1943 – 1963
Managed 1963 – 1971
1970’s Teams: Mets

1970’s Highlights:
Manged the Mets to twin 83-win 3rd place finishes in 1970 and 1971; Sadly, today is the 49th anniversary of his death, which came unexpectedly when he suffered a heart attack while golfing with his coaches in Florida before the beginning of the 1972 season

Career Highlights:
In 1969 he lead the “Miracle Mets” to 100 wins and a World Championship; As a player he was an 8-time All-Star, won 3 Gold Gloves and had 100+ RBI in 7 straight seasons; Inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1982

Fun Stuff:
Has received the most Baseball Hall of Fame votes of anyone who is not a HOFer


1976 SSPC #456

Played 1963 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Phillies, Braves, Royals, Rangers, Reds

1970’s Highlights:
Was a selected for the 1970 NL All-Star team in 1970, but didn’t play

Career Highlights:
Pitched in 493 career games without ever starting; Pitched professionally for 21 years

Card stuff:
I’ll admit it… Hoerner is here mainly because of that SSPC card


1976 Topps #115

Played 1965 – 1979
1970’s Teams: Cubs, A’s, Orioles, Yankees

1970’s Highlights:
All-Star in 1972 and 1973; won 18 or more games in four straight seasons, including a career-high 21 in 1973; Won three World Championships with the A’s and has a 4-1, 2.55 record in the World Series; No-hit the Reds on 6/3/1971; Lost a no-hitter with 2 outs in the 9th after giving up a double to Detroit’s Tom Veryzer, 6/8/75; Struck out 202 batters in 1970, which had been a Cubs record for a left-hander; Was the A’s Opening Day starter in 1972; Was a member of the World Champion 1977 Yankees team, but did not pitch for them in the postseason

Career Highlights:
No-hit the Braves, 8/19/69; His 174 career wins are the most by a Jewish pitcher (Sandy Koufax had 165)

Fun Stuff:
Has a .308 postseason batting average, as well as a solo home run in the 1974 World Series… this homer would be the last World Series homer by an American League pitcher in the 20th century

Card Stuff:
Appeared in each of the Topps card sets of the 1970s; Topps used the same photo on his 1968 card, his 1968 All-Star card, a 1968 checklist and his 1969 card;


1974 Topps #378

Played 1971 – 1985
1970’s Teams: Cubs, Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
No-hit the Phillies in his first start of 1972 and his 4th Major League Game; Was named the NL Pitcher of the Month two straight months at the end of 1975 – he went 6-0 with a 1.07 ERA in August and 5-0 with a 2.41 ERA in September; In that 1975 season, he won 12 straight decisions; Was the Dodgers’ opening Day Starter in 1979; Finished a fairly distant second (with no first place votes) to Gaylord Perry in the 1978 NL Cy Young voting

Career Highlights:
Was named the 1981 NLCS MVP after winning games 1 and 3 while keeping the Expos scoreless over 14.2 innings; Was an All-Star in 1981; Earned a 35-3 record while pitching for the University of Texas and set a school career record for ERA; Inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008; Was an All-American from 1969 to 1971

Fun Stuff:
His first career homer was a Grand Slam against the Mets, 9/16/72

Predicting 2021 Archives: Well, I DID Get Two Right…

Over the past few years I have made predictions on which designs the following year’s Topps Archives set would use; you can see the posts here. I’ve had mixed results over the past year or two, but nothing would have prepared me for what Topps is doing with this year’s set.

Last August I predicted that Topps would use three designs which would be celebrating round-number anniversaries:  1961, 1991 and 2001 Topps.

As it turns out, I was right about 1991 and 2001… but wasn’t prepared for the idea that Topps would use seven designs for this year’s Archives set, one for each decade from the 1950s to the 2010s.  Maybe we should be happy that they didn’t decide to honor the current decade and include the 2020 Topps design.

So here are the designs they’re using with some notes and thoughts on each one…


This design was used in 2015 Archives and 2006 Heritage

I’m fine with this as the 1950s design.  1952 is an insert in this year’s flagship, 1953 is being used for Topps Living Set, and I don’t trust Topps to do justice to 1956, at least while putting in an Archives amount of effort.  I’m personally fine with any of the remaining designs.


Most of the designs of the 1960s have not been used in Archives to this point, so why go with 1962 rather than the 1961 design which is celebrating its 60th anniversary?  Beats the crap out of me.  For what it’s worth, the 1962 design was used in 2011 Heritage.

I’ll admit that I find 1962 to be a ‘blah’ design, and I’d much prefer 1961… which, as I mentioned, has it’s 60th anniversary this year.


Last used in 2014, this is a VERY INTERESTING choice for one reason:  One would think it’s also being used in 2022 Topps Heritage.  I’ll get into this more later in the post.

My own choice would be the design that Topps seems to be purposefully avoiding:  1978.


This design was used in 2015 Archives as well as being used as an insert in 2018 Topps flagship.

I love 1983 Topps, but it does seem like a case of “Meat Loaf again?”  (Kids, ask your parents about Midnight showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” )

Like with 1978, Topps seems to be avoiding 1988.  That would be my choice from the 1980s.


This design was used in 2016 Archives, was the one I predicted and is probably my favorite 1990s Topps design.


Never used in Topps Archives before, and I don’t get excited enough about 2000s designs to have a huge favorite from this decade… They’re all fine, few get me fired up in either direction.


Also never used in Topps Archives.  I like this design well enough and it’s 10 years old which seems like the minimum amount of time that should be used for an Archives design.

So… getting back to that choice of the 1973 design…

2021 Topps Archives currently has a release date of October 29, 2021.  If Topps continues the direction that they’ve been going with the Heritage brand, then the same 1973 design will be used in that Heritage set released about five months after.

I’d like to dismiss this as “Topps being Topps”, but it still falls into the category of Things That Make You Go ‘Hmmmmm’….  (Robi Rob, break it down!)

If it isn’t some form of corporate screw-up, could this signal a different direction for Heritage starting in 2022?  Maybe going back to 1952 and starting over with that design?  Jumping around from year to year like Archives does?  Maybe even – Gasp! – pulling the plug on Heritage?

If I were a betting man I’d put my money on “Topps F-ed up”, but I just wanted to throw some thoughts out there.

With Fuji taking a break from blogging, I’ll pick up the slack in the reader participation area…

What designs from each decade would you have liked to have seen in 2021 Archives?

Does Topps’ right hand not know what the left hand is doing, or does this signal a major change for 2022 Heritage?


2021 TSR Daily: More From Series 2

Welcome to another virtual pack of my 2021 TSR Daily custom card set… if you’re wondering why it’s called “Daily”, that’s because I Tweet out a custom each day (#2021TSRDaily) and then share them here each week, sort of like opening a pack.

This is the fourth post in this series, and I don’t think I have anything in particular to say about my custom set this time around…

Oh, I’ll mention that it’s “Series 2” because I did one custom from each team and now I’m working through the batting order for the 2nd time… so it’s Series 2.

Salvador Perez plays in KC and missed 2019 after ‘Tommy John’ surgery, so so people might have forgotten that he’s a 6-time All-Star who’s won 5 Gold Gloves and 3 Silver Sluggers and was the 2015 World Series MVP. He recently got a 4-year, $82M extension, which is a big outlay for the Royals.

New Dodger Trevor Bauer was the NL Cy Young winner with the Reds last year and lead the league with a 1.73 ERA.  I wasn’t sure I wanted him to sign with the Mets, but since he blew the Mets off and signed with the Dodgers, I’m frankly hoping he flops and flops hard.

I’ve been brainstorming some “Blog Exclusive” inserts to include in these virtual packs.  I’ve got a few in the works, but the only one where I’ve gotten far enough to publish something is this set of “stamps” which is loosely based on my TSR Daily design.  This time around I’m featuring players who, like Bauer, have changed teams in the offseason:  George Springer, Andrew Benintendi, Nolan Arenado and Francisco Lindor.

For anyone who is interested in the “behind the scenes” stuff, these were all “Photo day” shots in front of a solid background, and I removed that background and substituted some Spring Training ballpark backgrounds that I’ve accumulated over the years.

Tarik Skubal, the Tigers’ #2 prospect according to Baseball America, was recently told he’d start the season in the rotation. He’s got an interesting name and, as you can see, he’s got a high leg kick. What’s not to like?

Two-time All-Star Xander Bogaerts lead the 2020 Red Sox with 36 runs and a .502 Slugging Percentage. It’s something of a badge of honor for me that I no longer have to look up how to properly spell “Xander Bogaerts”

Shortstop Tim Anderson lead the Majors with a .335 average in 2019 and last year he won a Silver Slugger.  I need to get back into Fantasy Baseball this year… without that constant exposure to stats, I will admit I didn’t realize how accomplished Tim Anderson is.

2019 NL ROY Pete Alonso got off to a slow start in 2020 but still lead the Mets with 16 homers.

Yu Darvish finished 2nd in Cy Young voting and lead the NL with 8 wins… So of course the Cubs traded him to the Padres. I suspect that the NL Central is going to be a “Doesn’t anybody want to win the division?” situation like the NFC East was this past football season.

OK, that’s it for this pack. Hopefully you’re not like me and have been able to open some real packs lately. I’ve nearly exhausted my supply and the only unopened pack I have left is from a 1990s “Mr. Bean” set.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Whitey Herzog to Larry Hisle

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.


1978 Topps #299

Played 1956 – 1963
Managed 1973 – 1990
1970’s Teams: Rangers, Angels, Royals

1970’s Highlights:
Managed the Texas Rangers for most of the 1973 season before being replaced by Billy Martin near the end of the season; Served as interim manager of the Angels in 1974, holding down the fort between Bobby Winkles and Dick Williams; Took over the Royals in July 1975, and in his 4.5 seasons at the helm he had three 1st place finishes and two 2nd place finishes

Career Highlights:
Was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager and GM in 2010;  Won the 1982 World Series with the Cardinals, managed in two other World Series and 3 additional division titles;  Was the manager of the year in 1982 and 1985

Card Stuff:
Just for fun, here’s Whitey’s 1961 Post Cereal card:


1973 Topps #565

Played 1962 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Cubs, Cardinals

1970’s Highlights:
Drove in the winning run in the 12th inning of the 1970 All-Star Game when his single drove in Pete Rose from second, resulting in the famous play where Rose took out AL catcher Ray Fosse; He won the 1970 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award after hitting .315 with 32 HR and 115 RBI; Was involved in turning a Triple Play vs. the Pirates, 7/2/72

Career Highlights:
Was a rookie with the infamous 1962 Mets team that lost 120 games

Fun Stuff:
Pitched 2 mop-up innings for the Dodgers in a 1967 game against the Giants, giving up 2 hits and allowing one run (a solo shot by Willie Mays)


1974 Topps #13

Played 1969 – 1975
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Indians, Phillies

From the August 5, 1974 “People” column of Sports Illustrated:
“Relief Pitcher Tom Hilgendorf of the Cleveland Indians was credited with a save when he dived fully clothed into a swimming pool and rescued 13-year-old Jerry Zaradte. Returning from dinner, Hilgendorf happened to look down and see young Zaradte lying on the bottom of the pool. (He apparently had leg cramps.) It was Hilgendorf’s first swim of the summer. Like other Indian players, he is forbidden to swim during the season.”

Career Highlights:
Lead the 1973 Indians in Saves

Fun Stuff:
Doubled in his only at-bat in 1969

Card Stuff:
Appears with the Phillies in 1976 Topps, but he’d pitched his last Major League innings in 1975


1973 Topps #448

Played 1965 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
Hiller suffered a series of heart attacks in early 1971, was told his career was over and was hired by as a Minor League pitching instructor, but came back to be one of the leading Firemen of the 1970s; In 1973 he was the AL Fireman of the year, the AL Comeback Player of the Year, got Cy Young and MVP votes, lead the league with 65 appearances and set a Major League record with 38 Saves (which is currently good for a 31-way tie for 196th place) ; Set an American League record in 1974 by getting 17 wins in relief; Got the win in Game 4 of the 1972 ALCS against the A’s

Career Highlights:
Hiller, a native of Toronto, was inducted into the Canadian Baseball HOF in 1985; Holds the Tigers record with 545 games pitched; Set a Major League record by striking out the first 6 batters in a game, 8/6/68; Threw back-to-back shutouts in August, 1967; Threw 9 shutout innings in relief during a 19-inning game that was the second game of a twin bill, 8/23/68; Pitched in the 1968 World Series

Fun Stuff:
Was the winning pitcher in the last game in Original Yankee Stadium, 9/30/73

Card Stuff:
Was left out of 1972 Topps when it appeared his career was over, but he was in every other 1970s Topps set


1975 Hostess #128

Played 1968 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Phillies, Twins, Brewers

1970’s Highlights:
Was an All-Star in 1977 and 1978; Lead the American League with 119 RBI in 1977; Had back-to back 110+ RBI seasons before a rotator cuff injury shortened his career; Hit for the Cycle against the Orioles, 6/4/76; set a Twins record with 4 stolen bases in a game, 6/30/76

Career Highlights:
Was named to the 1969 Topps All-Star Rookie Team; Was the Blue Jays’ hitting coach from 1992 to 1995

Fun Stuff:
He was a high school teammate of Al Oliver; Was on the Cardinals roster for about a month in November/December, 1972

Card Stuff:
Appeared in each of the Topps sets in the 1970s; His 1972 card lists him with the Dodgers, but he never played for them in the Majors, instead spending the entire 1972 season in Triple-A; His 1972 and 1973 Topps cards share the same “Looking up at a passing airplane and surrounded by a solid cyan ‘sky'” image; The photo used on his 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is cropped tighter than the same photo on his 1977 Topps card; Hisle’s 1978 card is missing the “stitches” from the little baseball that’s part of the design (thanks to NPBCardGuy for reminding me of this in the comments)


Hershberger, Lew Krausse, Ken Sanders and Phil Roof were traded by the A’s to the Seattle Pilots on January 10th, 1970, with Seattle sending Don Mincher and Ron Clark to Oakland. The Pilots moved to Milwaukee just before the season started, so Hershberger never played a regular season game for the Pilots!

BTW, Phil Roof was another “Phantom Pilot” in the 1970 set.


I couldn’t find a lot to say about John David “Dave” Hilton, but he had several noteworthy cards that I wanted to share.

First, his very, very expensive rookie card (where he’s listed as John Hilton)

Second, he was on a 1974 WASHINGTON “NAT’L LEA.” card

Hilton was among the first players acquired by the Blue Jays in advance of their first season, and was included in 1977 Topps and O-Pee-Chee… but didn’t make the team and never played for the Jays. (Thanks to reader Bryan for reminding me to include this card)

And at the end of the decade he appeared in the 1979 TCMA Japanese Baseball set.

Cards From My “I Just Like It” Binder

I’ve been pulling out some of my binders to see whether or not the cards in it “spark any joy”… if they’re worth keeping in binders or keeping at all.  Well, today’s cards most definitely spark joy in me.  All of today’s cards are ones which fall into a binder that doesn’t really have a name, but you could call it my “I just like it” binder or probably more accurately, my “I love this card but I don’t know what else to do with it so I’ll just stick it in this binder” binder.

This first card comes from a 1992 Score insert set called “The Franchise”.  The inserts featured Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski and Mickey Mantle.  Now I have been completely over the Mickey Mantle hype for many a year, but I’ve always liked this card.

I think what I like about it is that it’s a nice picture, but it’s also a picture of a ballplayer who happens to be Mickey Mantle.  There’s not the usual sun-shining-out-of-his-you-know glorification of Mickey Mantle… Just a nice-looking card of a player who’s just hit the ball.

This next card is interesting especially given that Topps and Sports Illustrated have gotten together to make an on-demand card set featuring SI covers.  This particular card is also of interest to me because I had – or possibly still have? – this 1974 issue of SI… which was fairly unusual for me because I’ve never been a huge SI guy.

This cover is from the 1974 World Series, which pitted the A’s and the Dodgers and was the first time that two California teams faced each other in the Fall Classic.

I was going to say that I’d expect Topps to feature this cover, but I don’t know if they’d want to pay royalties to the 5 players depicted… or 6, if you need to pay to show that one player’s butt.

This 1991 Stadium Club card of Shane Mack is just a beautiful card.  That’s all I have to say about this one.

Kids, back in the early 1990’s when you bought a box of Ultra-Pro 9-pocket sheets, you got a promo card!  This one features Reds’ 1st baseman Hal Morris ready for a game of tennis!

The back of the card proclaims that this card is part of a limited edition of 250,000.  Yep, those were the days.

ProCards minor league cards were on think stock and often cheesy, but you had to love it when they had unusual shots like this one of Joel McKeon with a TV camera

When people discuss baseball cards featuring players holding baseball cards, you don’t often see this 1999 Upper Deck card of Brewers pitcher Scott Karl about to sign his 1998 UD Collector’s Choice card.

OK, I need to move on with my day. I’ll be back with more cards from this binder at some point.