Custom Cards For All Ages

I’ve been going pretty far afield with some of my 2020 SAC FLY custom cards… I think maybe the season itself is not interesting me much because of it’s half-assed format, short season and… well, I’m a fan of the Mets and Orioles, so it hasn’t been that great a season for me.

But I continue to crank away at the customs. I’ve made about 90 so far, some for KBO, some for NPB but most for Major Leaguers.

This morning I saw that the Red Sox called up César Puello… He started out as a 17-year-old Mets minor leaguer in 2008 and was in his 10th professional season when he made his Major League debut with the Angels in late 2017. From there… well…

After one game with the Angels he was claimed on waivers by the Rays. He played the rest of 2017 with the Rays, played in AAA for the D-Backs and Giants, played briefly for the Angels and Marlins last year and just popped up again with the Red Sox.

Puello has appeared on Bowman and Pro Debut cards, but has not appeared on any cards at all since 2016, before his MLB debut. I appreciate his tenacity, so I decided to make a custom card for him.


Ron Gardenhire also started out with the Mets, and yesterday he announced his retirement from managing, effective immediately. I made a 2020 custom yesterday…

…and decided to have a little mini custom card retrospective for Gardy.

2014 TSR

2017/18 TSR Hot Stove

(I don’t know about my readers, but even though they were pretty labor-intensive to make each custom, I really like the way my Faux Post cereal cards came out. I may have to do something like these again this winter.)


I made this custom the other day just because I liked this photo of Danny Jansen, even though it’s not a great photo, technically speaking.  But I like it anyway.


On occasion I take some liberties with my customs. I really liked this photo of Jake Marisnick leaping for the ball… except for the small unfortunate detail of his not catching the ball. So I digitally removed the ball. Always remember, boys and girls, that images are not always what they seem.


I’m not playing Fantasy Baseball this year for the first time in I don’t know how long… 15 years at least. Maybe 20. Anyway, one thing I’ve learned over all those years is to NEVER start a pitcher for his first appearance after a no-hitter.

Mills wasn’t awful in his follow-up game, but he wasn’t worth starting either. If I remember my Yahoo points system… 6 innings pitched for 18 points, add 7 strikeouts to make 25 points, minus 7 points for 6 hits and a walk, minus 4 points for four earned runs, minus 5 points for the loss, resulting in 9 points. Yup, not awful but you’d be annoyed that you started him.

But I believe that catches me up on the no-hitter customs for the year so far.


No particular reason to make a custom of Corbin Burnes other than to remind myself how much these particular Brewers uniforms make them look like Cub Scouts.

I do like the new Brew Crew uniforms, but as someone who ascended up to the scouting ranks to the lofty level of First Class Scout, I can’t get past the Cub Scout thing.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Boy Scouts, “First Class” is basically how far you get if you are in Boy Scouts for years but don’t apply yourself because the merit badges, skill awards and such are not what you’re there for.


Anyway… Let’s share one more custom before I move on to things I should be doing in real life…

I believe that Randy Dobnak has been assigned to the ominous-sounding Alternate Site, but between the glasses and the Fu Manchu, I had to make a custom of the guy.

Few will understand the reference, but I like the Vince Guaraldi vibe he gives off.

OK, that’s enough for today. Enjoy your Sunday!

The 1970’s, A To Z: Tim Cullen to Bobby Darwin

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.


TIM CULLEN

1970 Topps #49

Played 1966 – 1972
1970’s Teams: Senators, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
Was a regular for the Senators in 1970 and 1971; His last Major League appearance was in 1972 ALCS

Career Highlights:
Named as the shortstop on the 1967 Topps All-Star Rookie team;

Fun Stuff:
Was a High School teammate of Jim Fregosi and a college teammate of John Boccabella and Nelson Briles; Cullen was traded to the White Sox before Spring Training in 1968, part of a six-player deal between the two teams… and part of the trade was reversed that August with Cullen going back to Washington and Ron Hansen going back to Chicago

Card Stuff:
Had a card in the 1970 Kellogg’s set; Cullen appeared in the 1972 Topps set as an airbrushed Texas Ranger (after the Senators moved to Dallas – Ft. Worth), but Cullen never played for the Rangers… He was released in March and signed with the A’s.

Bonus card (since it was used in a prior post, so what the heck):


RAY CULP

1972 Topps #2

Played 1963 – 1973
1970’s Teams: Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
Was the Red Sox Opening Day starter in 1971; Tied a Major League record by striking out the first 6 batters he faced, 5/11/70

Career Highlights:
One of the few players to be an All-Star in both leagues – with Phillies in 1963 and Red Sox in 1969; In 1963 he was named Sporting News NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year, was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team, and got a vote in 1963 National League Rookie of the Year voting (but finished a distant third to Pete Rose)

Fun Stuff:
After he retired from baseball he started a real estate company named after his career batting average: “123, Inc.”

Card Stuff:
Appeared in 1960 Leaf as a prospect but didn’t appear on a Topps card until his actual rookie season of 1963; Also appeared in the 1964 Topps coins set and the 1970 Kellogg’s set


JOHN CURTIS

1974 Topps #373

Played 1970 – 1984
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants

1970’s Highlights:
Lead the 1973 Red Sox with 4 shutouts; Was the last Red Sox pitcher to bat in a regular lineup, September 28, 1972

Career Highlights:
Won a Gold medal with Team USA in the 1967 Pan American games; pitched three no-hitters (one a perfect game) for Clemson; Pitched in 438 Major League games and started 199 of them

Fun Stuff (for me and my fellow Long Islanders, anyway):
His cards in the 1970’s listed him as born in Massachusetts and living in South Carolina, but he grew up on Long Island and graduated from Smithtown High School (back when there was only one HS instead of East and West)

Card Stuff:
Was in 1981 Topps and Fleer, but not 1981 Donruss


…and that brings us to the end of the C’s. I’ve been wanting to do more to commemorate when we move on to a new letter in our A-Z, and this next graphic is a step in that direction:


JOHN D’ACQUISTO

1977 Topps #19

Played 1973 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Giants, Cardinals, Padres

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the 1974 Sporting News NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year and also named to the 1974 Topps All-Star Rookie Team; Lead the Giants in strikeouts (167) during his rookie season and set San Francisco records for most K’s and wins (12) by a rookie; Had one of the top fastballs in the game, having been clocked at 100 MPH

Fun Stuff:
His cousin is former Pirates pitcher Lou Marone

Card Stuff:
I normally wouldn’t chose an airbrushed card as my favorite card of a player, but this was such a good job that it was years before I realized it was an airbrushing… D’Acquisto would only pitch 3 games for the Cardinals before being traded to San Diego; Did not appear on a 1978 Topps card despite pitching in 20 games in 1977


ALVIN DARK

1976 SSPC #488

Played 1946 – 1960
Managed 1961 – 1977

1970’s Highlights:
As manager of the A’s he won 90+ games twice and a World Championship in 1974

Career Highlights (as a manager):
Won a pennant with the 1962 Giants; Also managed the Indians and Padres; Has the distinction of being fired by Charles O. Finley two different times (once in Kansas City, once in Oakland)

Career Highlights (as a player):
Was the 1948 NL Rookie of the Year with the Boston Braves; was a three-time All-Star with the New York Giants; Lead the league with 51 doubles in 1951; Batted over .300 four times

Fun Stuff:
Played college football at LSU and Southwestern Louisiana institute; As a player he appeared at every position except catcher

Card Stuff:
Was hired as the Padres manager during the 1977 season, appeared in 1978 Topps as the Padres manager, but he got fired during 1978 Spring Training and replaced with Roger Craig

Here’s a TCMA “The 1950s” card of Alvin Dark I picked up last year


BOBBY DARWIN

1978 Topps #467

Played 1962 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Dodgers, Twins, Brewers, Red Sox, Cubs

1970’s Highlights:
Had two seasons of 20+ homers and two seasons of 90+ RBI; was named the Twins’ 1972 rookie of the year

Fun Stuff:
Was originally a pitcher and pitched a single game for the Los Angeles Angels in 1962, three more with the Dodgers in 1969 and then was converted to an outfielder in 1970.  In 7.1 innings over four appearances, his ERA was 10.29 and his WHIP was 3.00

Card Stuff:
Was in the 1975 and 1976 Hostess sets


A song to celebrate our moving on to D

The 1970’s, A To Z: Hector Cruz to Mike Cuellar

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.


HÉCTOR “HEITY” CRUZ

1977 Topps #624

Played 1973 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Reds

1970’s Highlights:
Named the 1975 Sporting News and Topps Minor League Player of the year; The Cardinals traded 3rd baseman Ken Reitz to the Giants so that Cruz could take over at 3rd in 1976, but then, unsatisfied with Cruz, got Reitz back from San Fran after the season; Cruz got two first place votes in the 1976 NL Rookie of the Year voting and finished 3rd behind co-winners Pat Zachry and Butch Metzger; Hit a double and scored a run in the 1979 NLCS (Reds vs. Pirates)

Fun Stuff:
Brothers Héctor, José and Tommy Cruz were briefly teammates with the 1973 Cardinals; Héctor played a season in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants


JOSÉ CRUZ

1977 Topps #42

Played 1970 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Astros

1970’s Highlights:
In 1977 he lead the Astros in batting average (.299) and triples (10)

Career Highlights:
Owns the Astros’ career record with 80 triples; batted .300 or better in 5 seasons with Astros, only Jeff Bagwell did that more; Lead the NL in 1983 with 189 hits; In the 1980s he was named to two All-Star teams and won two Silver Slugger awards; Was named Most Valuable Astro four times; His #25 was retired by the Astros in 1992 and he was named to the Astros Hall Of Fame’s inaugural class in 2019

Fun Stuff:
Is the father of José Cruz, Jr. (imagine that!) who played for a number of Major League teams from 1997 to 2008


JULIO CRUZ

1978 Topps #687

Played 1977 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Mariners

1970’s Highlights:
Was drafted by the Mariners from the Angels organization and was a mid-season call-up for the M’s in their first season; Was among the league leaders in stolen bases in 1978 (finishing second to Ron LeFlore) and 1979 (finishing third behind Willie Wilson and LeFlore); Lead AL 2nd basemen in fielding percentage in 1978

Career Highlights:
While playing for the White Sox in the 1983 ALCS, Julio went 4-for-12 with 2 stolen bases

Card Stuff:
Cruz carried a Roberto Clemente card in his wallet while he played in the minor leagues; Had a card in 1979 Hostess


MIKE CUBBAGE

1978 Topps #219

Played 1974 – 1981
1970’s Teams: Rangers, Twins

1970’s Highlights:
Was the Twins regular third baseman in 1977 and 1978; Hit for the cycle against the Blue Jays on July 27, 1978

Career Highlights:
Served as the interim manager of the Mets in 1991

Fun Stuff:
His cousin is long-time catcher Larry Haney; Was involved in a 1978 trade which saw Bert Blyleven go from Minnesota to Texas; Is currently a Special Assistant to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo

Card Stuff:
Shared a 1975 rookie card with Doug DeCinces and Manny Trillo


MIKE CUELLAR

1972 Topps #70

Played 1959 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Orioles, Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Was one of four 20-game winners on the 1971 Orioles team (along with Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson and Dave McNally); Hit grand slam off Jim Perry in game 1 of 1970 ALCS vs Twins but Cuellar did not get the win after giving up 10 hits & 6 earned runs in 4.1 innings; In 1970 he lead the league with 24 wins, a .750 winning percentage and 21 complete games; Got as many first place votes in 1970 AL Cy Young award voting as did winner Jim Perry, but Cuellar finished fourth in a tight vote

Career Highlights:
Tied with Denny McLain for the 1969 Cy Young award; Had 185 career wins and won 20+ games four times; Got the only Orioles win vs. Mets in the 1969 World Series, a complete game in Game 1; Was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1982; His 2.22 ERA in 1966 was second only to Sandy Koufax and better than Juan Marichal, Jim Bunning and Bob Gibson

1970s non-highlights:
Gave up Harmon Killebrew’s 500th home run in 1971; The Orioles released the 39-year-old Cuellar after the 1976 season and the Angels signed him for 1977, but in a relief appearance vs. the A’s he gave up 2 hits and a run (plus a blown save) without getting any outs, and then in a start against the Yankees he got knocked around, giving up 7 hits and 6 runs in 3.1 innings. The Angels released him two weeks later.

Card Stuff:
Is featured on the ALCS Game 1 card in 1970 Topps; He pitched just two games for the Reds in 1959, but that got him cards in 1959 and 1960 Topps (using the same photo THREE times, twice on the 1960 card). He would not pitch in the majors again until 1964 with the Cardinals, and he made his sole baseball card appearance with St. Louis in 1965 Topps. He never appeared on a card with the Angels.

1980-81 Player Movement And 1981 Topps, Fleer and Donruss

A couple of months ago I wrote a post that I thought was salvaging a failed idea, but it turned out to be more interesting than I’d expected… And that idea involved looking at how the transactions of the prior season and winter are reflected in a particular baseball card set.

The last time I looked at 1974 Topps and Topps Traded. Since I don’t want to be accused of beating the 1970s to death in this blog, I went forward to 1981 (where I have all of 1981 Topps and Fleer, and much of 1981 Donruss).

1981 was, of course, the first year since 1963 where a company other than Topps issued baseball cards in retail packs, and it was also the first year that Topps did a Traded set as a separate product (unlike the 1970s traded cards which came in later packs of that year’s regular set).

Now there’s nothing I’m trying to prove or disprove, nor any point I’m trying to make.  This is just a matter of laying the cards on the table (so to speak) and saying “Hey, check this out.”

The earliest transaction I found which resulted in airbrushing

One thing I found a fair amount of in 1981 Topps was instances where the photographers had, at least in theory, plenty of time to take photos of a player in a new uniform.  On April 6th, 1980 the Giants purchased Allen Ripley from the Boston Red Sox.  With an entire season to take photos, Topps ended up with an airbrushed portrait.

…But Fleer managed to get a photo of the talented Mr. Ripley.

I wouldn’t be completely surprised if there are players who were traded during the 1979 season and are airbrushed in 1981 Topps, but I didn’t want to go completely crazy with my research.

Latest trade reflected in 1981 Topps with actual photos

On August 14, 1980 the Yankees and Rangers made a trade where the two principals were future HOFer Gaylord Perry and swingman Ken Clay.

As these things often go, Clay ended up pitching just 8 games in 1980 for the Rangers and would get traded to Seattle that offseason.  He spent all of 1981 with the Mariners, and got a card in 1981 Topps Traded.

1981 Fleer, by the way, also showed Gaylord Perry with the Yankees.

A late August transaction that isn’t a “first” or “last”, but is interesting enough anyway.

On August 31st, Willie Montañez was traded by the Padres to the Expos for minor leaguer Tony Phillips (who would be involved in one more trade before making his Major League debut with the A’s in 1982).

Topps has Montañez airbrushed into an Expos uniform.

But Fleer has him still with the Padres (and his name misspelled “Willy”) while Donruss ignored Montañez altogether.

The final transaction reflected in 1981 Topps

On September 13, 1980 the Rangers sent Sparky Lyle to Philadelphia for a PTBNL.  Topps airbrushed Lyle into a Phillies uni.

Fleer and Donruss managed to get honest-to-goodness photos of Lyle (even if neither photo is the best).

The earliest transaction featured in the 1981 Topps Traded set

The Yankees traded Fred Stanley to the A’s for Mike Morgan on November 3rd, 1980.  Both players are included in the Traded checklist.

Last transaction which resulted in a team change in 1981 Donruss

One thing 1981 Donruss is known for is reflecting player movement by changing the team name on the front of the card, even when the photo doesn’t reflect that change.  The last transaction which shows this came on December 7th, 1980… The Cardinals signed Darrell Porter as a free agent.

What’s more interesting is that Don Sutton signed as a free agent with the Astros three days before Porter signed with the Cards, but Sutton’s card lists him with the Dodgers.  This is just a guess, but maybe Donruss finished the printing sheet featuring Sutton before they finished the sheet featuring Porter.


Side trip into the 1981 Topps/Coca-Cola sets

I’m not going to get into any great detail here, but it’s worth noting that Coca-Cola sponsored a number of team sets which came out during the 1981 season.  Any updates featured airbrushed photos, but those same players would have updated photos in the Traded set which came out later in the year.

I don’t have a lot of these Coke cards, but I figured I’d share a couple that I do have….

January 23, 1981: Frank Tanana, Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi were traded by the Angels to the Boston Red Sox for Fred Lynn and Steve Renko.

February 28, 1981: The Cubs traded Dave Kingman to the Mets for Steve Henderson.  Henderson also got a Coke card.  I’m reusing a scan from a long-ago post, so here we’ve got Kingman’s traded card on the left and his Coca-Cola card on the right.

You can find out a little bit more about these cards from a number of posts I’ve written before (click here to scroll through them).


Back to the original theme of the post… such as it is…

The final transaction reflected in 1981 Topps Traded with a photo
The New York Yankees traded Jim Spencer and Tom Underwood to the Oakland Athletics for Dave Revering, Mike Patterson and a minor leaguer, May 20th, 1981.

This is a very underwhelming trade but you’d have to say that the A’s “won” this deal if only for the 22 wins Tom Underwood got for Oakland.

Last deal reflected in 1981 Topps
The Cubs traded Rick Reuschel to the New York Yankees for Doug Bird, a player to be named later (Mike Griffin), and cash, June 12, 1981

Players missing from Donruss and Fleer

1981 Donruss has fewer cards than the other two flagship sets, so it’s not surprising that there are fewer players represented… but it’s interesting to note which players are missing, because some of them are fairly notable  For instance, Rudy May won the AL ERA title in 1980, but he’s not in 1981 Donruss:

Rusty Staub was a 6-time All-Star and appeared in 109 games in 1980, but he’s also missing from Donruss.

Other notable players who are not in 1981 Donruss: Bill Campbell, Claudell Washington, Doug Bird, Ed Figueroa, Ellis Valentine, John Curtis, John D’Acquisto, Lee May (also not in Topps), Rick Rhoden, Ross Grimsley, Terry Forster, Willie Montañez

Notable Players who are not in 1981 Fleer: Andre Thornton, Cesar Geronimo, Duane Kuiper, Rick Wise

Notable players who are not in 1981 Donruss or Fleer:  Ken Brett, Pedro Guerrero


I will probably do another one of these in the future, I’m thinking about doing 1988 Topps since I have the complete set – my complete sets get spottier after 1981 – and because I wonder if I’m right in thinking that Topps would get more serious about these matters as that decade moved along. But I could be wrong as well.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Del Crandall to Terry Crowley

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.


DEL CRANDALL

1974 Topps #99

As Player: 1949 – 1966
As Manager: 1972 – 1984
1970’s teams (as Manager): Brewers

1970’s highlights (as manager):
Managed the Brewers for the better part of 4 years and finished in 5th and 6th

Career Highlights (as player): One of the top catchers of the 1950s; 8-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove; Won a pennant and a World Championship with the Milwaukee Braves; As a 19-year-old with the Boston Braves he finished 2nd to Don Newcombe in voting for the 1949 NL Rookie of the Year award; Inducted into Braves HOF 2003

Bonus card:  Since I’m something of a Del Crandall collector, I felt like I should include a card from his time as a catcher with the Braves, so here’s one of my favorites, his 1957 card:


JIM CRAWFORD

1976 SSPC #47

Played 1973 – 1978
1970’s Teams: Astros, Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
Made his Major League debut after just 13 games in the minors; Got first hit and first win when he capped off two shutout innings on the mound with a walk-off double in the 12th inning against the Dodgers, April 10, 1973; Batted .267 (8 for 30) over his career

Fun Stuff:
Was a teammate of Larry Gura, Lerrin LaGrow, Len Randle and Craig Swan at Arizona State; His nickname is “Catfish”

Card Stuff:
Didn’t appear in 1978 Topps despite making 37 appearances in 1977


WILLIE CRAWFORD

1971 Topps #519

Played 1964 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Dodgers, Cardinals, Astros, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the May, 1973 NL Player of the Month after hitting .404 with a .628 slugging percentage, 6 doubles, 5 homers, 20 RBI and 21 Runs;  went 2-for-6 with a solo homer in the 1974 World Series

Career Highlights:
Was just a few days past his 18th birthday when he made his Major League debut and also went 1-for-2 as a teenaged pinch-hitter in the 1965 World Series

Fun Stuff:
His cousin, Curtis Rowe, played for the Pistons and Celtics and appeared on several basketball cards

Card Stuff:
Played for the Cardinals and Astros but never appeared on a card with those teams… AND… Appeared in 1977 Topps as a member of the Giants, but was traded to the Astros before appearing in a regular season game with San Francisco


WARREN CROMARTIE

1978 Topps #117

Played 1974 – 1991
1970’s Teams: Expos

1970’s Highlights:
His 41 doubles in 1977 (his first full season) was 3rd in the NL;  Finished second to teammate Andre Dawson in the 1977 Sporting News NL Player of the Year voting (which was voted on by the players in the Majors);  Was drafted four times before signing with the Expos in 1973

Career Highlights:
Played 7 seasons in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, won the Central League MVP award in 1989 and helped the Giants win the 1989 Japan Series after being down 3 games to none

Fun Stuff:
“Cro” is currently the face of the Montreal Baseball Project, whose objective is to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal


TERRY CROWLEY

1973 Topps #302

Played 1969 – 1983
1970’s Teams: Orioles, Reds, Braves

1970’s Highlights:
Was the first Designated Hitter in Orioles history; Was regarded as a pinch-hitting specialist for much of his career

Career Highlights:
Has a .286 career batting average in 3 World Series (1970, 1975, 1979)

Card Stuff:
That’s Thurman Munson making a cameo appearance on Crowley’s 1973 Topps card (which is easily one of the top cards of the decade); Crowley appeared in the 1974 Topps Traded set with Texas, but was traded to Cincinnati before playing for the Rangers

Hey, Julie!

Last month I received a greatly-appreciated package from Julie over at A Cracked Bat…  I’ve had very few cards coming my way lately, so I enjoyed taking a break from my long-term organizing project and thumbing through stacks of unfamiliar cards.

I enjoy Sports Illustrated For Kids cards, and here’s one of still-long-haired Jacob deGrom. Trading Card Database says this is from 2015.

As much as I enjoy these cards, I think I’ve bought one issue of SI 4 Kids. Maybe I should do something about that. Or not.  I feel like if I subscribed to the magazine then all of the cards will be of teenage cornhole champions and New York Yankees.

2020 Diamond Kings! This is, by far, my favorite Panini product… a left-handed complement that brings to mind the like from Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road:  “You ain’t a beauty but, hey, you’re all right”. This card goes into my Aaron Nola collection.

When I was signing the praises of Diamond Kings a few months ago, a common response was “Yeah, but they keep using the same photos for the older players”. When I got this card, I saw what they meant… This is the same photo of Dom DiMaggio that was used in 2018 Diamond Kings. Oh, well.

I’m not big into Opening Day, but I like to pick up those base cards that are somehow different than flagship Topps. Since Anthony Rendon was in Series 1 with the Nationals, I knew from looking at the checklist that this card would fall into that category.  Interesting job on his jersey lettering.

With this package from Julie I inadvertently became a Trent Grisham supercollector. I actually don’t know much about him other than that the Padres got him from Milwaukee… Oh, and this OD card is another one where it’s been updated from Series 1.

I got a whole bunch of 2020 Big League from Julie, and I’m going to feature some of my favorites from her batch.

I guess its because the Marlins fly under my radar, but I had no idea who Harold Ramirez is (and it appears he played a full season in 2019). Great action shot, anyway.

More Big League.

I was planning on buying more Big League than I did, but then 2020 happened and I was left looking at empty shelves.

Evidence that Topps used Spring Training photos in Big League.

1981 Kellogg’s are the only standard-sized set in their run of sets.  I keep thinking of focusing on one Kellogg’s set and try to knock it out, but I just end up picking up 3-D cards as the opportunities present themselves.

One of these days there will be one Kellogg’s set which reaches “critical mass” and I will put an effort into completing that set. Right now, none of my Kellogg’s sets are more than 25% complete, so I will continue to meander through them as a low-to-medium priority.

This is just a fun card in so many ways.  I would never expect to see someone like Mackey Sasser in a Classic set, but there he is putting the tag on Jose Uribe (or at least attempting to put the tag on Uribe).

I was at one game at Candlestick Park in the late 1980’s, and the fans were serenading Jose Uribe with a call-and-answer chant of “U!  Ribe!”

One last card I’ll be featuring, this one goes into my Darren Daulton collection.  While I will confess to collecting Nola and Daulton, I categorically deny any rumors about my secretly being a Phillies fan. Both players were ones I saw play in the minors as prospects.

There were many more cards in this package, but I wanted to keep this to the highlights.

Thank you, Julie, for all of the cards!

And now, in honor of Julie, I will present the following music video…

Fountains of Wayne were best known for their 2003 Top-40 hit “Stacy’s Mom”, but I was a fan from their 1996 debut album right up until… Well… OK, I didn’t care for what would be their final album, “Sky Full Of Holes”.

At any rate, I thought this song (originally from the “Welcome, Interstate Managers” album) was appropriate… and I suspect that, from what I’ve heard about Cracked Bat Julie’s previous employer, she can identify with at least some of the lyrics…

Quick Thoughts On Baseball Card Photos In 2021

Although I haven’t shared my 2020 SAC FLY customs here a whole lot, I’ve been making a bunch of them for my own enjoyment.  The more of these I make, the more I realize that the pandemic will have a significant affect on what cards will look like next year.

For starters, some of the players are wearing masks while on the field.  I try to avoid using those shots because I like my customs to show what a player looks like, but it does limit the photo selection for those players (and because of that, I’m having trouble finding decent on-field images of managers and coaches).

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, a lot of the photos are taken from the stands, looking down on the players.

(FYI, Brock Holt was released by the Brewers and just signed with the Nationals)

There’s a lot of samey-same to the photos of pitchers, it seems more so than in recent years… and for those of you who didn’t realize, Madison Bumgarner has not appeared on a Topps card since 2017 (presumably he let his contract ran out), so if you want a card of him in a Diamondbacks uniform that hasn’t been digitally altered, you’ll have to call in a favor with your custom-making buddies.

Like I said, samey-same photos, especially for relievers and the back end of the rotation.

You may not have noticed that the three colored boxes on my customs is complemented by text in three different colors.  I really like the way this looks, but it’s frankly a pain when you’re trying to crank out a bunch of customs.

Because of the samey-sameness, I’ve been using photos which aren’t necessarily great photos, but are at least different.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see photos from the truncated 2020 Spring Training in 2021 sets (I probably should’ve spent more time messing with the brightness on this photo, but I’ve got chores to get to today)

So that’s a few things that might be coming our way next year.

Before I go away, I have an unofficial policy of featuring customs for anyone who throws a no-hitter in 2020. Lucas Giolito struck out 13 Pirates in throwing a no-no a few days ago…

This custom was actually created back in May, so the photo is obviously not from the no-hitter.

Across the Pacific, Yasuhiro Ogawa no-hit the Yokohama DeNA BayStars two weeks ago. This photo is also not from the no-hitter but as I mentioned when I tweeted this custom, I really like this jersey.

I don’t want KBO fans to feel left out, so I’ll close things out with a familiar face for fans of the Twins, as well as anyone who was buying up rookie cards in 2016…

The 1970’s, A To Z: Billy Cowan to Ted Cox

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.


BILLY COWAN

1972 Topps #19

Played 1963 – 1972
1970’s Teams: Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Was involved in a triple play vs. the Royals on 6/26/70; Tied a Major League record by striking out 6 times in a 20 inning game, 7/9/71

Career Highlights:
Was the Cubs’ regular left fielder in 1964 after being the Pacific Coast League MVP in 1963

Fun Stuff:
In 1966 he was traded for Bobby Cox (who is also in this post)

Card Stuff:
Naturally, I had to include Billy Cowan just for his awesome 1972 card


AL COWENS

1977 Topps #262

Played 1974 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Royals

1970’s Highlights:
Got 4 first place votes and finished 2nd behind Rod Carew in the 1977 AL MVP voting… In that season, he set career highs in batting average (.312), runs (98), RBI (112), hits (189), triples (14) and homers (23); He also won a Gold Glove in 1977


BOBBY COX

1978 Topps #93

Played 1968 – 1969
Managed 1978 – 2010
1970’s Teams: Braves

1970’s Highlights:
Managed in the Yankees system from 1971 to 1976 and coached with the big team in 1977 before being hired to manage the Braves in 1978

Career Highlights (Player):
Named the 3rd baseman on the 1968 Topps All-Star Rookie team;  Played 220 games for the Yankees in 1968 and 1969

Career Highlights (Manager):
Inducted into the Baseball HOF as a manager in 2014; Managed the Braves to five pennants and a World Championship; with the Blue Jays and Braves he won 15 division titles; Won Manager of the Year 4 times and won 100+ games 6 times

Card Stuff:
Appeared on a 1967 Topps Venezuelan card (with his winter league team Lara) before his 1969 Topps rookie card


BONUS CARD #1: CASEY COX

1971 Topps #82

Played 1966 – 1973
1970’s Teams: Senators, Rangers, Yankees

Casey is here mainly because I really like this card.


BONUS CARD #2: JIM COX

1974 Topps #600

Played 1973 – 1976
1970’s Teams: Expos

Jim is part of the answer to a very cool trivia question… Who were the only three players to wear #10 for the Expos?

Answer: Rusty Staub, Andre Dawson and Jim Cox. The Expos retired the number in 1997


LARRY COX

1976 SSPC #596

Played 1973 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Phillies, Mariners, Cubs

1970’s Highlights:
Was one of the first players on the Seattle Mariners’ roster, having been purchased from the Twins before the expansion draft; Was a backup with four teams and valued for his handling of pitchers

Card Stuff:
Larry couldn’t win with his baseball cards. His 1976 SSPC “Pre-rookie” card (featured here) shows him with the AAA Toledo Mud Hens. His rookie card (1977 Topps) shows him airbrushed into a Mariners cap. His second year card (1978) has him airbrushed into a Cubs cap. His third year card (1979) accidentally uses a photo of Cubs teammate Dave Rader.


TED COX

1979 Topps #79

Played 1977 – 1981
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Indians

1970’s Highlights:
Was the 17th overall pick in the 1973 draft;  After winning the 1977 International League (AAA) MVP award, Cox was called up by the Red Sox that September and he tied a Major League record with 4 hits in his first game and set another record by getting hits in his first 6 at-bats… on top of all that, he walked in his second plate appearance and holds the record for most consecutive times on base at the start of a career (7); Other players to get four hits in their first game were Willie McCovey, Casey Stengel and Mack Jones

Fun Stuff:
Was a key part of the trade that brought Dennis Eckersley from Cleveland to Boston

Card Stuff:
Appeared on a 1978 Topps Rookie OF card with the Red Sox, but was traded to the Indians late in 1978 Spring Training after just 13 games with the Sox; His final cards were in 1981 Donruss and Fleer – he did not have a Topps card that year.

Predicting The Designs Used For 2021 Topps Archives

Since 2017 I’ve been predicting what the following year’s Archives set might look like. At the beginning I had some ideas on the guidelines Topps was using to select a design and I did pretty well predicting what 2018 Topps Archives would look like. I did the same with predictions for 2019 Topps Archives, with far less impressive results and my predictions for 2020 Archives turned out to be so completely wrong that I didn’t even bother to do a follow-up post when the previews were released.

To be honest, most of my theories on which designs get used have gone out the window over the past two years, but I’ve got some new ideas so I’ll give it the ol’ college try.

First, let me run through the “rules” that I’ve used in the past and which got blown away with 2019 and 2020 Topps Archives.

Broken Rule #1:  A design has to be over 25 years old.
This rule held pretty well for a while, but then when Topps used an 18-year-old design this year (2002 Topps), that put a dent in this guideline.

Broken Rule #2:  There’s a “No-Fly Zone” surrounding each year’s Heritage set. 
For a while Topps was giving a lot of space around that year’s Heritage set… My thinking was that they wouldn’t want to do a set that had been done in Heritage over the prior 7 years, and they also wouldn’t want to do a design that will be used for Heritage in the next 7 years.  Last year this rule got broken by using the 1975 Topps design (five years before it would be used in Heritage) and this year they broke it even more by using the 1974 Topps design (which will be 2023 Heritage).

Broken Rule #3A & 3B:  No sets that weren’t on “real cardboard” (i.e. 1993 and later) and no sets with foil (1995 and later).
The first rule got shot down last year when they used the 1993 design and the second got shot down this year when they used the 2002 design.

Since I had this table from past years, here’s an overview of the different designs used in Archives since 2012, along with the “No Fly Zone” of +/- 7 years, which, as I’ve mentioned is already toast:

Year Heritage Archives 1 ArchiVes 2 Archives 3 Archives 4 “No-Fly zone”
2012 1963 1954 1971 1980 1984 1956-1970
2013 1964 1972 1982 1985 1990 1957-1971
2014 1965 1973 1980 1986 1989 1958-1972
2015 1966 1957 1976 1983 n/a 1959-1973
2016 1967 1953 1979 1991 n/a 1960-1974
2017 1968 1960 1982 1992 n/a 1961-1975
2018 1969 1959 1977 1981 n/a 1962-1976
2019 1970 1958 1975 1993 n/a 1963-1977
2020 1971 1955 1974 2002 n/a 1964-1978

So let’s run down the designs that I’ll be ruling out as candidates for 2021 Archives…

2021 Heritage will use the 1972 design and 2022 Heritage will use the 1973 design.  I’m going to rule those two out.

I’m going to stick with the “No-Fly Zone” on the back end (don’t use the prior 7 Heritage sets), so I’ll rule out any designs from 1965 to 1971.

Another rule I’m sticking with is that Topps wouldn’t reuse a design which had been used in the prior four Archives sets (2017 – 2020) or any “flagship” insert sets over the same period.  For the Archives part of it, that rules out 1955, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1992, 1993 and 2002.  The inserts used recently have been 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986.

One new rule I’m using specifically for 2021 is that Topps will not use any designs which feature two separate photos.  With a shorter 2020 season and with photographers “socially distanced” from the field, I’m thinking that the number of usable photos will be fewer than usual… So that rules out the two-photo designs from 1954, 1956, 1963 and 2003, plus a couple of other sets we’ve already eliminated.

With all of this factored in, let’s go through all of the designs which are eligible:

1952 Topps has never been used in Archives, but I think that that Topps regards this as too “sacred” for use in a second-tier product like Archives.

1953 Topps is technically eligible (it was last used in 2016 Archives), but while “Living Set” is an ongoing product and using this design, I don’t think they would use it for anything else.

1957 Topps was last used in 2015.

1961 Topps has never been used in Archives.  It doesn’t get much love, but it’s grown on me as I’ve gotten more exposure to it. If Topps wants to lean into the 70th Anniversary aspect of their 2021 products, then they might go with this design which will be celebrating its 60th Anniversary next year.

1962 Topps also has not been used in Archives.  It would also be very easy to produce, because the design is exactly the same for every card, no messing with colors or logos.

1964 Topps has never been used in Archives, and I think it’s a pretty strong candidate.

(This is where we skip through the tattered remains of my “No-Fly Zone” and into the first 1970s set which is eligible…)

1976 Topps was last used for Archives in 2015, but if they’re going to continue with using 1970’s designs not long before it gets used for Heritage, this seems like a possibility.

1978 Topps has never been done in Archives. I’ve routinely dismissed it as a Archives candidate, but I’ve come around on this.  Here’s why…

That red script “White Sox” is not a font.  Each one was created by a Topps artist without the aid of a computer.  Because it’s not a font that can be downloaded and installed, it’s going to be challenging to create the script for the 7 current teams which hadn’t existed in 1978.

Topps recently used the 1974 and 1975 designs in Archives several years before it was slated for use in Heritage.  What if it was done intentionally so that they could make an attempt and have all of us do the “quality assurance” on it before Topps uses the same template and techniques and so forth on a higher-profile product like Heritage?

Maybe I’ve been reading too many conspiracy theories on Twitter.

1979 Topps was used in 2016 Archives, so it’s unlikely… But unlike 1978, 1979 is easy peasy to replicate.  Ask anyone who has made custom cards.

1980 Topps was used in 2012 and came back again in 2014. Enough time has passed since the last time, but I don’t see a need to use it a third time when there are designs which have never been used.

The 1988 Topps design has never been used in Archives, and that just doesn’t seem right to me.

1989 Topps was used in 2014 and was also done as die-cut minis in the same year’s flagship.  I’d like to think we’ve seen enough 1989 for a while (but I’m biased because I don’t like the 1989 design)

1990 Topps was used in 2013, but there aren’t a lot of people clamoring for its return.

1991 Topps was used in 2016 Archives, but like with 1961 Topps, it’s a set celebrating an anniversary (They’d have to change the logo to read “70 Years of Baseball”)

1994 Topps has never been used for Archives.  The script font used for the player’s name could be problematic… or not.  I don’t know.  I thought Topps would be going head-first into the 1990’s around now, but then they started into 2002.

1995 Topps Now that we know they’re willing to use foil on Archives sets, this one is a possibility

1996 Topps That weird photo thing in the nameplate seems like more work than Topps generally puts into Archives, so I’m not thinking this one is likely.

1997 Topps – I bet the Archives team would screw up the “Red borders for AL teams, green borders for NL teams” convention of the original.

1998 Topps I’ve got little to say about this set.  It’s nice.

1999 Topps – I wonder if there’s too little going on with this design to make it an appealing option for Archives.

2000 Topps is another nice looking set

2001 Topps – Next year will be the 20th anniversary of this set, so…

2004 Topps  Probably a little too recent, and I don’t think they’d want to duplicate that little player artwork in the lower left.

2005 Topps  – I’m going to set this as the most recent set to be a candidate, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a huge favorite to get the nod.


OK, prediction time!  I think that with Topps celebrating a 70th anniversary in 2021, they will lean into that with Archives and feature the three sets which will also be celebrating anniversaries… it’s not something they’ve done before, but they’re clearly pushing envelopes with Archives.

I predict that they’ll use the three ‘eligible’ sets which have anniversaries:  1961, 1991 and 2001

In the past I’ve picked the designs I’d like to see, but I feel like a broken record on that subject, so I’m going to say I’d like to see Topps do what some people on blogs and social media have suggested – use designs from vintage football, hockey and basketball Topps sets.  This might get elaborated on in a post to follow.  It also might not.

And now it’s reader feedback time, and I am truly interested in your input…

Which designs do you think Topps will use in 2021?

Which would you pick if you were the “product manager” for 2021 Topps Archives?

The 1970’s, A To Z: Dave Concepcion to Pat Corrales

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.


DAVE CONCEPCIÓN

1974 Topps #435

Played 1970 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Reds

1970’s Highlights:
Starting All-Star SS from 1975 to 1977; Played in the postseason 5 times, in four World Series and was a two-time World Champion; Won consecutive Gold Gloves from 1974 to 1977, and again in 1979

Career Highlights:
Inducted into Reds HOF in 2000 and his #13 was retired by the team in 2007;  9-time All-Star, 5-time Golden Glove, 2-time Silver Slugger; Was the MVP of the 1982 All-Star Game; Set a team record (since tied by Barry Larkin) by playing 19 seasons in a Reds uniform; He ranks in the Reds’ career top 5 in games, at-bats, hits, doubles, stolen bases and runs scored

Fun Stuff:
Concepción threw an inning and two-thirds of shutout baseball against the Dodgers in 1988

Card Stuff:
His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is cropped differently


BILLY CONIGLIARO

1971 Topps #114

Played 1969 – 1973
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Brewers, A’s

1970’s Highlights:
Named to the 1970 Topps All-Star Rookie team; Played for the A’s in the 1973 World Series;  Went 3-for-4 with 2 doubles, 2 walks, a run and 2 RBI in the Red Sox wild 22-11 win over the White Sox, 8/30/70

Fun Stuff:
Is the brother of Tony Conigliaro


TONY CONIGLIARO

1970 Topps #340

Played 1964 – 1975
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Angels

Career Highlights:
Set a record by hitting 24 home runs as a teenager (1964) and lead the league with 32 homers the next season;  Was the youngest player to reach 100 home runs (22 years, 197 days);  Tony was a star in the making when, in 1967, a fastball hit him in the left cheekbone and eye, a severe injury which ended his season, put him out for the 1968 season and threatened to end his career;  Won the 1969 AL Comeback Player of the Year award after batting .255 with 20 homers and 82 RBI;  Was an inaugural inductee into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995

1970’s Highlights:
Had a career high 89 runs, along with 36 homers and 116 RBI, in the 1970 season;  Was shocked to be traded to the Angels after that 1970 season, and he never performed in California as he did in Boston;  Attempted a comeback in 1975 but retired for good after 21 games

The Tony Conigliaro Award:
The award has been given out every year since 1990 to a Major Leaguer who has “overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Tony C”. Among the notable winners of the award have been Jim Abbott, Bo Jackson, Eric Davis and RA Dickey. Rich Hill won the award in 2019

Fun Stuff:
Tony recorded an album in 1965; In 1970 Tony and Billy set a record for most home runs by teammate brothers in one season with 54… 36 for Tony and 18 for Billy.  (If you were wondering, Hank and Tommie Aaron’s combined best was 53 homers in 1962)

Card Stuff:
Since I already had it scanned for another project, I’ll share Tony C’s appearance on the 1971 Topps “1970 AL RBI Leaders” card:


CECIL COOPER

1974 Topps #523

Played 1971 – 1987
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Brewers

1970’s Highlights:
Was an All-Star and Gold Glove in 1979; Lead the league with 44 doubles in 1979; Named the April 1979 AL Player of the Month (.356, 6 HR, 18 R, 21 RBI, 9 doubles); Was involved a in Triple Play, Brewers vs. Angels on 5/16/79

Career Highlights:
Holds Brewers Single season mark with 219 hits in 1980; Twice lead the league in RBI; Was a five-time All-Star, won two Gold Gloves and Three Silver Sluggers; Batted over .300 in seven consecutive seasons, from 1977 to 1983; Inducted into the Brewers Walk Of Fame and Wall Of Honor

Fun Stuff:
Had been drafted by the Cardinals in the November 1970 Rule 5 draft, but was returned to the Red Sox before the start of the 1971 season; Played in the Senior Professional Baseball Association

Card Stuff:
hares a rookie card with Carlton Fisk; His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card has him airbrushed into a Brewers cap


PAT CORRALES

1973 Topps #542

Played 1964 – 1973
1970’s Teams: Reds, Padres

Career Highlights:
Spent more than 50 years in professional baseball as a player, manager and coach; Managed the Rangers, Phillies and Indians; was the catcher on the 1965 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Fun Stuff:
Was the first Mexican-American manager in the Major Leagues

Card Stuff:
His 1973 card shows a play at the plate involving the Cubs’ Fergie Jenkins