CARDS I GOT FROM COMC………….. over a year ago…

There’s probably some unwritten rule of blogging along the lines of “Don’t admit when you screwed up”, but I had a post in mind for today… and it’s not ready… so I’m going to do a quick run through five cards which I love but never quite made it into a post before now.

Dave Kingman, a 1970’s and 1980’s power hitter known for his all-or-nothing approach, had a career-worst 156 strikeouts in 1981. Focus on that bit: a guy known in the day for striking out a lot had maxed out at 156 K’s.

This season, right now, in mid August, Yoan Moncada *and* Joey Gallo *AND* Giancarlo Stanton all have more K’s than Kong did at his absolute worst. The Orioles’ Chris Davis is two bad days away from passing Kingman.

That’s just so sad… I need something to make me feel better.

How about this 1955 Topps Spook Jacobs card? I got this card partly because it was vintage and relatively cheap, but I just like it. Nothing in particular jumps out, it’s just a nice-looking card.

One thing which intrigues me about this card is the cap that Jacobs is shown wearing. I really like the “KC” logo, but I’ve never seen a photo of a Kansas City Athletics player wearing a cap like this. Every card from 1955 (the first year that the A’s spent in KC, I should add) have this cap logo, but they’re all paintings, and I just figured it was a prototype logo that was given to Topps and added in by the artists, but never actually used by the A’s.

…But then…

I searched on “Kansas City Athletics hat” and found a commercially-available hat just like this. The fact that it’s for sale now doesn’t necessarily mean it existed then, however.  It could be that 1955 Topps cards stoked enough interest that these caps were made.

So does anybody have an idea of whether the Athletics actually wore this hat? Every photo I’ve seen of the early days in Kansas City have a cap with an “A” on it.

Moving along…

This 1967/68 O-Pee-Chee card of the New York Rangers’ Camille Henry was an impulse buy, mainly because I didn’t previously have any hockey cards from that year.

“Camille The Eel” won the Calder Trophy in 1954 as the NHL rookie of the year, and was an all-star several times. He also played in two Stanley Cup finals, but was on the losing side both times.

I got this 1971 rookie card for Chuck Brinkman and Dick Moloney, and I’ll briefly revive my “Are We Not Stars?” theme from the earlier days of this blog…

Chuck Brinkman is the brother of long-time starter and one-time All Star Eddie Brinkman. Chuck was a catcher who played 149 games over six sesaons, mostly with the White Sox. He batted .172 and hit one home run.

Dick Moloney, who’s listed as Richie Moloney in baseball-reference.com, pitched one inning in 1970.  As a 20-year-old he gave up two hits, no runs and got a strikeout… but that was the extent of his career.  He pitched in AA and AAA in 1971 and then his professional career was over.  It makes you want to know more about that story…

Wrapping up with a card of Mets outfielder Michael Conforto from his days with the Oregon State U. Beavers

This 2015 Panini Contenders set has some fun photos of current and legendary players in their college uniforms, but I wish more of the photos were in color (especially of the legends).  I do realize that much of it is because of the source material… usable color photos of Bob Gibson with the Creighton U. Blue Jays frankly may not exist.

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2018 TSR: Forward Into The Past!!!

“Gee, I hope he gets back before all this dry ice melts…”  (A virtual fist bump to anyone who gets this reference).

So this season has been a bust (to put it mildly) for my Mets and Orioles.  We’re not even halfway through August and the Orioles have already been mathematically eliminated from winning the division.  That, my friend, makes for a long season.

Oh, and before I forget… Congratulations to Brian Roberts who was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame last night! This custom is from my 2013 TSR set:

Getting back to the tire fire that is this season… I started to think that maybe I should focus some of my custom card attention on some of the prospects coming down the road for both teams.

While I was thinking about this, the Astros and Mariners had a game on Friday night where both teams wore 1979 throwbacks, so I knew I had to do something with *that*. It was at that point I decided to put the future and the past in the same post.

When the Orioles traded Manny Machado to the Dodgers, they got five prospects in return. Of the players the O’s got, the biggest potential belongs to Yusniel Diaz who is one of the top 100 prospects in baseball and who hit 2 homers in the 2018 Futures Game.

Diaz is a 21-year-old Cuban who looks to be a center fielder with power. He’s currently playing with the AA Bowie Baysox.

On the Mets side, their top prospect is 19-year-old shortstop Andres Gimenez who is among the youngest players at the AA level.

Gimenez is talented with a bat and a glove, but is probably a couple of years away from the Majors… but he can always force his name into the conversation.

Another prospect who got traded as the deadline approached was Francisco Mejia, who the Indians sent to San Diego in exchange for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber.

Mejia has been selected for three straight Futures Games, and during this past season he was regarded as the Indians’ top prospect and the top catching prospect in baseball.

Finally, to get some bloodlines in here, Bo Bichette is the son of former MLB outfielder Dante Bichette.

Bichette was a consensus Top 20 prospect going into this season and was selected to the USA team in the 2018 Futures Game.

Moving on to the “Past” part of this post… As I mentioned, this past Friday night the Astros and Mariners had a game which threw back to 1979. Me, I quite literally had this game marked down on my calendar, and I was not disappointed in the sartorial splendor of the throwbacks.

I forgot which team it was that did this, but to promote this game one of the teams had a little promotional video which used the word “Groovy”. As someone who was in high school at the time, I feel pretty confident in saying that the word “Groovy” was no longer in common use by 1979… not unless somebody was being sarcastic or was quoting a line from “The Brady Bunch”. Thank you for enduring my little rant.

Anyway, I honestly wasn’t “feeling” the 1979 Topps design for this post, but I figured that photos from 1979 were used in 1980 Topps, so that’s how I approached it. I’m just going to run through these customs without any bothersome text.


And finally, if I’m going to feature a manager from each team before the World Series is over, I can’t be skipping a week… so here’s the manager card from this special vitual pack:

The Indians are the only AL Central team with a winning record and they have an 11-game lead over the second place Twins.

Bear with me while I do another quick rant. Francona wearing his #77 on his sleeve reminds me of the argument people have over whether managers and coaches should wear uniforms like the players do. I personally don’t care if they dress the same way as the players, but part of the reason they’ve traditionally worn uniforms is because, unlike other sports, the manager and coaches are out on the field, and when I’m in the stands and somebody walks out of the dugout and talks to the pitcher, I greatly appreciate it when that somebody is wearing a number on his back so I know whether that’s the manager or the pitching coach.

End of my second rant, end of my post.

Random Team Review: 1976 Topps California Angels


The 1976 California Angels went 76-86 under Dick Williams and Norm Sherry.  They finished tied with the Rangers for 4th place, 14 games behind the division champion Royals.

BEST POSITION PLAYER, BEST ROOKIE CARD:

There wasn’t a player with truly outstanding offensive stats, so I skipped past Bobby Bonds, Tommy Davis and Tony Solaita and went with…

…Jerry Remy? In terms of WAR, absolutely. The 1976 Angels in general did not put up much in the way of offensive numbers.  Jerry Remy played 2nd base while leading the team with 132 hits, 64 runs, 35 stolen bases and and 152 total bases.

BEST PITCHER:

SURPRISE!!!! It’s not Nolan Ryan!

Frank Tanana was 22 years old and dominated the American League, going 19-10 with a 2.43 ERA, 261 K’s and a league-leading 0.988 WHIP.

FAVORITE CARD:

I just like this posed shot… It doesn’t hurt that I like Mickey Rivers as well.  Mick The Quick wasn’t with the Angels in 1976, having been traded to the Yankees in the offseason.

BEST NAME:

Morris Nettles had appeared in 112 games in 1975 but never played in the Majors after that.

He appeared in the 1976 Traded set after being traded with Jim Spencer to the White Sox for Bill Melton and Steve Dunning, but he never played in the Majors for the ChiSox. Nettles spent 1976 in AAA and the following six years in the Mexican League.

WHO DIS?

New category this time around, because I was going through these cards (and I’ve had all of these Angels cards for over 40 years) and I looked at this card and said “I don’t remember this guy…”

John Balaz played a total of 59 games for the Angels in 1974 and 1975. On March 3rd, 1976 he was sent to Boston as part of a trade for Dick Drago, but Balaz never played in the Majors again, although he did play in AAA and Mexico up through 1980.

BEST ON-FIELD PHOTO:

Ellie Rodriguez is another player in this post who didn’t play for the Angels in 1976. At the end of 1976 Spring Training he was traded to the Dodgers. He played in 36 games backing up Steve Yeager and then… repeat along with me: Spent a year in AAA and a few more in Mexico to end his career.

Here’s an Ellie Rodriguez fact for you: He was the Kansas City Royals’ first All-Star, but he didn’t play in the game. While with the Brewers he was also named to the 1972 All-Star team and again didn’t appear in the game.

MOST NOTABLE AIRBRUSHING:

Barry Bonds was acquired from the Yankees for Mickey Rivers and pitcher Ed Figueroa.  This isn’t an awful airbrushing, it isn’t a great airbrushing, but it’s what stands out in this batch.

The Angels thought they were getting a three-time All-Star who had 32 homers and 85 RBI in 1975. An injury limited him to just 99 games, 10 homers and 54 RBI, all his lowest totals since his rookie season in 1968. He’d bounce back in 1977 before being traded to the White Sox.

GUY I CAN’T *NOT* MENTION:

OK, fine, here’s Nolan Ryan.

In 1976 Ryan went 17-18 with a 3.36 ERA.  He also lead the league in some interesting categories:  327 K’s (of course), 183 walks, 7 shutouts, 18 losses, 6.1 hits per 9 innings, 10.4 K’s per 9 innings.

I should also point out that Ryan was *not* an All-Star in 1976.

FAVORITE CARTOONS:

From the back of Dave Collins’ card (Did they mean *unassisted* triple play?)

From the back of Dick Lange’s card:

LEAGUE LEADER #1

This is my first time including League Leader cards in a Random Team Review post and it occurred to me that everything about this post is about the 1976 season except for these cards, which are for league leaders in 1975.  Oh, well.

Mick The Quick had 70 stolen bases in 1975, 30 more than runner-up Claudell Washington.  Davey Lopes lead the Majors with 77 SB’s.

LEAGUE LEADER #2

As mentioned, Frank Tanana lead the Majors with 269 K’s.

Tom Seaver was second in the Majors with 243.

2018 TSR: Some Other Traded Guys And Some Other Asdrubals

Just like it’s fun when an update card set comes out and you can see players in new uniforms, I have fun when players start moving around and I can create customs representing players with new teams.

I’ll go straight to the weekly manager card this time, because it deals with some news which is still making its way out there…

This morning I went to look at the standings to see which team is hot, which is usually how I decide on the subject of the weekly manager custom. What I found instead was that Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Mike Scioscia is going to step down as Angels manager when his contract expires after this season.

After In almost every photo I found of Scioscia (aside from one where he was chatting with a former Tottenham Hotspur player about to throw out the first pitch at an Angels game), he looks extremely dour;  maybe he’s just had enough.

Scioscia’s first season as Angels manager was in 2000 when they were still the Anaheim Angels and wore those too-much-going-on “Disney” uniforms.  I was surprised when I was reminded of who Scioscia replaced as Angels manager… If you don’t remember, the answer’s at the bottom of this post.


Austin Jackson is technically with his third organization of 2018, but when he was traded by the Giants to the Rangers, the Texas front office told him not to report to the team. Sure enough, he was released by the team as soon as he cleared waivers. About two weeks later he was signed by the Mets, and he’s played pretty well for the Mets.

I’ve always wanted Austin Jackson to become a star because he’s a former Yankees prospect and I always like to see prospects they give up to do well (sadly, that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like). Jackson went to the Tigers in a three-team trade that also involved Max Scherzer, Curtis Granderson, Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson.


Brian Dozier was traded by the Twins to the Dodgers for Logan Forsythe and two minor leaguers.

I was going to do a Forsythe card as well, but couldn’t find a good photo (yet).


The Cubs acquired their second big-name former-Ranger pitcher when they traded for Cole Hamels.

Will this work out better than Yu Darvish has so far, or is this some sort of cosmic retribution for the Cubs trading Fergie Jenkins to Texas back in 1973?


The Red Sox lost Dustin Pedroia to injury after just three games, and they’ve been playing Eduardo Nunez, but decided to trade for the Angels’ Ian Kinsler… who was lost to injury after just three games.


Many Orioles fans were sad to see Jonathan Schoop join other players in heading out the door as part of a rebuild. For all the trades the Orioles made, the only name player coming back to the Orioles was Jonathan Villar.

I would say that a rebuild will be painful… but honestly, how can it get worse?


I spent too much time on other custom cards this week, so for the 1988 tribute we’ll feature an All-Star card of Manny Machado.  Yes, I know that’s two straight weeks of 1988-themed Machado customs.  Deal with it.


Let’s get into some Asdruba-mania!

The Adrubal that is most familiar to baseball fans is Asdrubal Cabrera, who was traded by the Mets to the Phillies for a pitching prospect.

I had never heard of the name Asdrubal before Cabrera, but it’s apparently not completely unusual.

I found out there’s also a Spanish soccer player who goes by just “Asdrubal”. He was in Australia playing for the Central Coast Mariners, but is now playing for a second division Spanish team.

The third Asdrubal I found was Asdrubal Sierra of the band Ozomatli; with all the talk lately about the 1991 ProSet Super Stars MusiCards, especially on Night Owl’s blog, I felt like i had to make a similar custom.

I became vaguely aware of Ozomatli about 10 years ago when I got a free download (probably through iTunes) of their song “Magnolia Soul”.  I liked the song well enough that, unlike most other free downloads, I still listen to it.

My main exposure to the band was when they did a stint as the house band on “Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution”, which was on Comedy Central a few years ago and led to the song “Hey, It’s Fluffy!”

But me, I prefer a little sweet Magnolia Soul.


WHO DID MIKE SCIOSCIA REPLACE AS ANGELS MANAGER?

Late in the 1999 season, Terry Collins stepped down as the Angels manager and was temporarily replaced by bench coach Joe Maddon – Maddon’s second stint as interim Angels manager.

2018 TSR: Traded Players, All Stars And The Like

I thought this week’s virtual pack of custom cards would be bursting at the seams with just-traded players, but a lot of the intended subjects haven’t appeared with their new team yet, or I just couldn’t find many good photos.  There are some traded players in this post, but there’ll likely (hopefully) be more next week.  The biggest trades may be the ones yet to come!

With the disappointing (to say the least) season the Mets are enduring, it wasn’t surprising to see them trading off some of their potential free agents.  Mets closer Jeurys Familia was traded to Oakland, and having the Athletics as deadline buyers was a surprise all in itself.  With the A’s, Familia is the setup guy for closer Blake Treinen (who was acquired from the Nats *last* July)

In 3 appearances (5 innings) with the A’s, Familia has 2 wins, gave up 2 hits, 1 unearned run, 4 K’s, 0 BB’s and hitters are managing just .118 against him.

The Orioles, meanwhile, traded Zach Britton to the Yankees where the player who once converted 60 straight save opportunities is just another reliever in the Yankee bullpen.

Normally I’d wish a former Oriole or Met well with his new team… but it’s the Yankees, Zach, so too bad, so sad.

Speaking of former Orioles, I decided to make a 1988-themed custom of Manny Machado in his new Dodger uniform.  Under other circumstances it would be odd to see someone whose done so much for the O’s wearing Dodger Blue, but I resigned myself to Manny’s exit months ago.

I also had enough fun with my 1988 All-Star template that I made a few more, including another A.L. All-Star shortstop, Francisco Lindor.

The Angels’ Francisco Arcia would’ve been a feel-good story just by stepping on the field.  Arcia spent 12 seasons in the minors with the Yankees, Marlins and Angels organizations before playing in his first Major League game.

…But then it got better, because in his first 2 Major League games, Arcia has two homers and 10 RBI.

Mets custom of the week

Jeff McNeil was never one of the Mets’ top prospects, but he’s been hitting the ball in AAA Las Vegas and the Mets traded Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies, so McNeil is apparently going to get a long look at 2nd base.

Manager custom of the week

As a Mets fan, there is a significant amount of schadenfreude directed towards the Nationals this year.  At the beginning of the season they were regarded as (if you’ll forgive the Chris Berman references) a team which COULD!  GO!  ALL!  THE!  WAY!, but instead ended up stumbling, bumbling to a 52-52 record (as of this morning).  Dave Martinez is muttering to himself “Dream job, my ass…”

I wonder if Dusty Baker gets some kind of bitter satisfaction out of the Nationals’ struggles after his firing.

Orioles custom of the week

Renato Nunez is only 24 and was once a prospect for the Athletics, having appeared in the 2014 and 2015 Futures Games.

Orioles fans will likely focus on the fact that the new guy fighting with Danny Valencia and Jace Peterson for time at third base was claimed on waivers twice this year.

BTW, I didn’t set out to include so many “high five” themed cards, it’s just the best photos I could find of each player.

I’ll wrap things up with another Faux Set Sports Of The World Card

While making this weeks’ customs I found out that the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup is currently going on.  Now I should point out that what North Americans call “Hockey” is “Ice Hockey” to the rest of the world, and what the world calls “Hockey” is “Field Hockey” to us unworldly Americans.

SPOILER WARNING:  I’m going to make a brief reference to what’s going on with the USA team;  stop reading if you care and aren’t up to date

Team USA has lost to Ireland and drawn with England and needs to beat India today to make the playoffs.

Kathleen Sharkey has played for Team USA in the Olympics and in the World Cup. She also somehow seemed to lead Team USA in “number of good photos I could find”, so she represents the United States in my virtual set.

Sharkey is from Moosic, PA, which is also the home to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, AAA team of the Yankees. I was in PNC Field during a previous baseball life when the team was the Red Barons. At the time it was my favorite minor league ballpark, but that was 20 years ago, I don’t know how it would hold up now. Has anybody been there recently?

1976 SSPC: Mike Torrez, Bob Montgomery, Fernando Arroyo

Here’s another in the sporadic series about the 1976 SSPC set…

Mike Torrez had 20 wins in 1975 while also leading the league with 133 walks. According to his baseball-reference.com bio, he’s the last pitcher to win 20 games while walking more batters than he struck out.

Despite the fact that all of his 1976 cards show him with the O’s, he pitched for the A’s in 1976, swapping teams in the famous Reggie Jackson / Don Baylor deal. Torrez spent only one season with Baltimore, having come from Montreal in a trade for Dave McNally.


Before I get into this card, I want to point something out:  Right by Bob Montgomery’s hands you can see a Yankees logo on the Shea Stadium scoreboard. This was the matter of some discussion on a recent Night Owl blog post which briefly discussed the Yankees taking up residence in Shea Stadium in 1974 and 1975.

Montgomery was such a mainstay with the Red Sox that I was a bit surprised to find that he never played more than 88 games in a season… but that’s largely because he played behind Carlton Fisk for most of his career.  In some circles he’s best known as the last player to bat without a helmet.


Fernando Arroyo pitched for 3 different teams over 121 appearances and 8 seasons, but the only season where he had a winning record was his 2-1 rookie season of 1975.  Despite this, he had 12 complete games and 2 shutouts.  For some reason his SSPC card refers to him as “Fred”, even where other players have their full name listed.

Arroyo would spend all of 1976 in AAA Evansville.  Evansville, IN had a AAA team through the 1970’s, but have been out of affiliated baseball since 1984.  Since 1995 the city has been represented by the independent Frontier League’s Evansville Otters.


Shea-o-meter:
Montgomery is definitely at Shea;  Arroyo goes under “pretty sure”;  Torrez falls in the “Can’t tell” category.
Shea: 82
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 15
Can’t tell: 23
Not Shea: 9

1970’s Census: Keeping track of all the instances of 1970’s trends
None of these three are excessively Seventies-looking.  I’m going to file Arroyo under “Long Hair”.
Total Cards: 128
1970’s Sideburns: 73
Fu Manchu: 5
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 40
Afro: 2
Perm: 3
Aviators: 8
Long Hair: 32

Why, You Son Of A…

Topps Pro Debut is a set that doesn’t seem to get much attention in the sportscards blogosphere, so I decided to share a few I got recently.

At what has sadly become my annual card show outing, there was a guy who had 2018 Topps Pro Debut base cards for 20 cents each… well, except for guys like Tim Tebow and Vladimir Guerrero Jr – those guys were $5 each.  Too rich for my blood.

Since I rarely run across Pro Debut commons in person, I decided to go beyond just my team and player wants, and to shoot for 50 cards ($10 worth).  I noticed that there are a fair number of players in Pro Debut whose father had played in the Majors, so I partially filled out my 50 with sons of Major Leaguers (with the exception, of course, of Vlad Jr.).

Bo Bichette is the son of Dante Bichette, a top Blue Jays prospect and has played in two straight Futures Games.  I was a bit surprised to see him regarded as a common, but I’m not complaining.

Fernando Tatis Jr is the son of… well… Fernando Tatis.  Junior is a Padres prospect and also appeared in the recently-played Futures Game.  He’s also somewhat surprising to find in the commons, given the hype surrounding him.  Unfortunately he’s out for the rest of the season after an injury.

The Twins’ Nick Gordon is the brother of Dee Gordon and the son of Tom “Flash” Gordon.  He was in last year’s Futures Game.

Diamondbacks prospect Daulton Varsho is the son of former outfielder Gary Varsho.  He’s not quite as hyped as the other prospects, but he’s named after former Phillie Darren Daulton, so that counts for something… certainly for this Darren Daulton collector.

I thought Justus Sheffield also fell into this category; I could’ve sworn I heard that he was Gary Sheffield’s son, but apparently that’s a common misconception. It’s all good, because when I was filling out my 50 cards he would still fall into the secondary category of “Prospects I’ve heard of”.

I’ve yet to determine if Justus Sheffield is related to the 1996 Monkees album “Justus”.

Similarly, the Twins’ Zack Littell doesn’t appear to be related to former Royal and Cardinal Mark Littell, but if nothing else I love how his eyes are a little bugged out and kind of go with the “Lookout Eyes” on his cap.

As someone who owns a few Jethro Tull albums and saw them in concert back in the late 1980’s (or was it the early 1990’s?), I couldn’t resist getting a card of Braves pitching prospect Ian Anderson. I’m going to take it as given that *this* Ian Anderson doesn’t play the flute while standing on one leg.

Am I the only one out there who likes Jethro Tull but isn’t a huge fan of “Aqualung”? Or is that just sheer blasphemy? Part of it for me is overexposure to the title track, “Cross-Eyed Mary” and “Locomotive Breath”. Nobody asked, but for the heck of it I’ll list my three favorite Jethro Tull albums as  (in chronological order) “Stand Up”, “Thick As A Brick” and “Songs From The Wood”.

Along with players who are sons of Major Leaguers, I also picked up Mets and Orioles prospects.

For some reason, Mets prospect Peter Alonso is listed here as “Pete”. I don’t recall ever hearing of him being referred to as “Pete”, but who knows.

Speaking of the Monkees as I had before, I had a brief mental video of the card listed as “Pete” with a shot of a disappointed/annoyed Peter Alonso, then cut over to Peter Tork making a “Aw, man, screwed up again!” face, and then back to the card with the name as “Peter” and Peter Alonso looking happy about it.  Because, you realize, we’re too busy singing to put anybody down.

The Orioles’ D.J. Stewart was the team’s first round pick in 2015.  Back then, that meant the 25th pick.  I think the O’s are going to draft a *tiny bit* higher in 2019.

“D.J.” stands for Demetrius Jerome.  That’s the kind of name we were expecting when a college friend flat-out refused – REFUSED! – to tell us what his middle initial of “C” stood for.  Much to our disappointment, it turned out to be “Craig”.

One last-minute addition;  if the Orioles trade off Adam Jones as part of their burgeoning fire sale (not a given, since he has 5/10 no-trade protection), we might see Cedric Mullins in Baltimore before the September call-ups.
2018 Topps Pro Debut Cedric Mullins