Five Minute Post About Five Cent Cards

Writing a post in five minutes is the latest thing with all the cool kids, so I’m going to sprint through some cards I got from a nickel box at the last show I went to.

OK, here we go…

“Combo” Heritage card of David Wright and Ryan Howard.  Something about this makes me think that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t posing at the same time.

I have to admit, I’m relieved that Topps did not repeat this “MLB Wacky Packages” experiment.  The whole concept suffers when the packages are not real and the jokes are not wacky.

This is the flip side of the sticker above… Would I need to collect the entire puzzle to get a Mets team set?  Technically, yes.  In reality… No freakin’ way.

Danica McKellar!!!!!  Winnie Cooper!!!!!  Yay!!!!!

A 3-D card for a nickel?  Hell yeah.  I miss these being in Opening Day, but I guess the expense was too much for a low-end product.

Speaking of Opening Day, TC Bear wants YOU!  Please don’t ask what TC Bear wants you for… (And forgive the poor scanning that chopped off the corners).

Last year’s Stadium Club MLS.  I bought a bunch of packs of these just because, and I still don’t know what I’m doing with them.  I haven’t seen any this year… which is just as well.  BTW, I don’t know who Clint Irwin is (besides the obvious stuff listed on the card).

Rushing through this post reminds me of Steve Martin’s routine about Vegas acts (And side note about Johnny Carson’s jacket: O! M! G!!!!)


My “1964 Topps Giants”-inspired Customs Return With Three Red Sox

Back in May I had been inspired by a SABR Baseball Card Committee Article about the 1964 Topps “Giants” set. I was intrigued by the article’s discussion of whether the 3 cards each team got holds up in hindsight, and I decided to do my own 15-week series trying to re-create the set using 2018 players and picking 3 players per team… something which has it’s challenges on rosters brimming with talent, plus different challenges for those teams which were clearly heading for a long season.

Like anything else I attempt on this blog, things tend to take more time than I intend them to, and I had to abandon the idea after just four posts.  I still enjoyed the general idea and for much of the summer I toyed with the idea of resurrecting it .  It wasn’t until recently that I gained enough time and brainpower to seriously consider going back to it in some abbreviated form.

Having suffered through a long, long, long Orioles season and a roller coaster Mets season, I quickly realized that it wouldn’t make sense to go back and do those teams which had been sellers at the deadlines… The three best Orioles, for example, are now long gone.

“If I were to do this again”, I said to myself, “it would make the most sense to tackle the postseason teams which hadn’t already been done”.  I’d already featured the Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, Braves, and Brewers, so that left the Cubs, Rockies, Athletics, Indians and Red Sox. I decided to dip my toe back in the water with the A.L. East Champions, and see how it goes from there.

Fortunately for me, I had an easy time picking three players from the deep Red Sox roster…

…Starting with the 30-30 player who lead the league in batting and slugging, lead the team in doubles and runs, and is a strong candidate for MVP, MOOKIE BETTS.

I could go on, but there’s just no way that Mookie gets left out.

CHRIS SALE doesn’t have any league-leading 2018 stats and his 12-4 record is hardly the stuff of legends, but his 237 K’s, 2.11 ERA and 0.861 WHIP clearly indicate that he’s the team’s best starter.

We’ll wrap this up with the team’s big addition this past offseason, J.D. MARTINEZ.

Martinez lead the team with 43 homers and 111 runs, plus lead the league with 130 RBI.

Other candidates included closer Craig Kimbrel (42 saves), Andrew Benintendi, All-Star Mitch Moreland, former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (17 wins), Xander Bogaerts and David Price.

If you have different thoughts on which three players should make up the Red Sox portion of the checklist, go to the comments and tell me I’m an idiot (you won’t be the first, I promise you).

I didn’t want to have a “Custom Sunday” post consist of just these cards, so I’m going to throw in three more unreleated customs.

I don’t like the Dodgers at all, but Dodger wins don’t suck as much when Justin Turner plays a key part in the victory, as he did yesterday when he hit the game-winning home run.

…and I felt like bringing back my 1985 Fleer template.

I recently decided to feature some customs of former MLB players who are now playing in Japan; today we have former Cub Kosuke Fukudome.

After playing with the Indians and White Sox in 2011 and 2012, Fukudome returned to Japan and has played the past six seasons with the Hanshin Tigers.

Wrapping up with another of my 1968 Topps Football customs, which I’m having fun with despite the fact that I’m not a tremendously well-informed NFL fan. You can’t go so far wrong with Drew Brees, anyway.

In my head, any reference to Drew Brees is followed up with Ronnie Van Zant saying “Ooooo, Mr. Breeze!”.

Assorted Cards From A Show To Celebrate A Box Of Cards From COMC

Last night I went to my mailbox and found my latest shipment from COMC.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to scan any of the cool cards I got.

Fortunately, I still have plenty of cards from my last card show.

Even if I weren’t a Mets fan, I couldn’t pass up this First Pitch card of 50 Cent.

Hard to believe that was 4 years ago.  For those of you who want to relive that moment again, here’s a video.

Speaking of cards capturing unfortunate moments, check out this 1973/74 Topps Hockey card; you just gotta love the New York Ranger shown about to sprawl out on the ice.

In the Stanly Cup Semi-Final series depicted, the Chicago Black Hawks beat the Rangers in 5 games, but would lose the Finals to the Montreal Canadiens in 6 games.

Back 10 years ago, Upper Deck had an insert set that “paid tribute to 1969 O-Pee-Chee baseball”.  UD owns the copyright to “O-Pee-Chee”, and of course, 1969 O-Pee-Chee was based on 1969 Topps.  At the time, I saw images of these cards and said “Dude, that is so lame”.  I never actually held one in my hand until I ran across this card in a nickel box (The card has a major ding in one corner, plus David Wright futures have recently taken a dive)

Much to my surprise, this is a pretty nice card, and the player’s name in silver foil looks better in person than in scans.

The back is pretty unimpressive, though.

I couldn’t walk away from this 2016 Donruss card of the San Diego Chicken.

I’m not even 100% sure that I understand why I’m drawn to The Chicken… I guess I watched a little too much of “The Baseball Bunch” on TV (even though I was in my teens at the time).  I do appreciate that recent Donruss sets have included cards of The Chicken just like they did in the early 1980’s.

I may be drawn to The Chicken, but like any child of the 1970’s, I’m nuts for The Bird.

I never like to play the “Ya had to be there” card, but to appreciate what Mark Fidrych meant to baseball you had to have been around in 1976. The guy was just a national phenomenon in ways that I can’t properly describe.  At any rate, it’s nice to be able to add this 1977 Kellogg’s card to my collection, it’s been missing for too long.

I’m not chasing the 1967 Topps set, nor Oakland A’s nor Alvin Dark, but I grabbed this card just because it so prominently features the white cap that the Athletics manager and coaches wore during the day.

Back then the idea was to point out that “These guys in uniform are coaches, not players”. These days, with so many coaches and managers wearing hoodies and such, we’d almost need something to indicate “These guys are coaches, not random guys out of the stands”. If it’s not apparent enough by now, I don’t like the coaching staff going the hoodie route. I want to be able to distinguish the manager from the pitching coach while sitting in the stands, and the best way for that to happen is for the manager and coaches to have numbers on their backs.


OK, I’m running out of time before I run off to work, so I’ll feature one last card… Let’s see… Hmmmm…

Let’s go with the hockey card of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Ken Schinkel. I got this because it provided such a good shot of a Penguins sweater which I really like, even if it came before my time.

I’m old enough to remember the Penguins before they went Pittsburgh black and gold, but not old enough to remember these unis. These would be cool for a throwback game… And maybe that’s already happened, I may have missed it because I’m no longer on speaking terms with the NHL.

As for Ken Schinkel, he played 12 seasons split evenly between the Rangers and Penguins… he was taken by the Penguins in the 1967 expansion draft.  Schinkel can proudly say that he finished higher in the Calder (rookie of the year) voting than did HOFer Stan Mikita. Of course, Schinkel was 27 years old and Mikita 19, but that’s all academic. The winner of the Calder Trophy was Mikita’s teammate Bill Hay.

Thoughts As To Why Morrow And Nunez Appear Twice In Heritage High #’s

There are people who are shouting about Topps’ incompetence after two players, Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Morrow, each appear on two different cards in the 2018 Topps Heritage High Numbers base set.

Now this type of thing is not completely unheard of.  In 2015, Casey McGehee appeared in both the regular Heritage set as well as Heritage High Numbers even though he did not change teams.

The same thing happened last year with Aroldis Chapman.

I know the easy path is to say that Topps screwed up, but I think there’s more to it than that.

The main thing to keep in mind is that Heritage all but requires posed photos, or at least candid portraits of players.  Topps can’t just go out to Getty Images and grab an action shot of a player and use it on a Heritage card, it wouldn’t look right and people would get upset.  Remember, action shots were still a few years away during 1969.

The way I see it, there are a couple of scenarios that might have caused checklist problems for Topps, and I’m going to run through those to show how their options may have been limited when the time came to finalize the High Numbers checklist.

At the beginning of Spring Training, Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman would be a decent bet for a list of potential High Numbers candidates… While he wasn’t good in 2017, he was only a year removed from a season where he had gone 16-6, 3.77 and was arguably the O’s best starter.

But guess what? 2016 turned out to be a trend, not an aberration, the O’s cut Tillman loose and he ends up spending the rest of the season as a Rangers minor leaguer. You might have photos of Tillman, but he’s no longer a candidate for your 250 card checklist.

This gets a reaction from our unofficial Topps spokesperson:

Eloy Jimenez is generally regarded as one of baseball’s top prospects, and with a long season ahead for the woeful White Sox, there may have been hope that the Southsiders would call him up and he could have a rookie card in High Numbers…

…But the White Sox stick to their guns and leave him in the minors.  That’s another player you’ve lost from your checklist.

Oh, but look at Jose Bautista!  He signed a minor league contract with the Braves over the winter and he’s going to make the team.  He’d be a perfect candidate for High Numbers!  We’ve got to make sure we’ve got a photo of him!

Oh, but the Braves cut him loose in May and the Mets pick him up (plus he’d be traded to the Phillies at the deadline).  You’ve got the photos, but they’re already out of date!

At the end, you find yourself two players short of a full 250 card checklist, and you’re running out of time. There are no subsets in the High #’s base set, so you can’t just fill in the space with a couple of extra “Topps News” All-Stars.  What do you do?  Perhaps the easiest course of action is to pick two players to duplicate in the checklist and hope that collectors see it as a sort of Allen & Ginter “quirky” rather than a failure.

Hold on… One of my staff  members just burst in the room with a piece of paper… It’s a question just in from the blogosphere…


Muncy had signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers and has hit 35 regular season homers to go with 75 runs, 79 RBI and a .263 average while playing several positions.  He’s appeared on a number of Topps Now cards, but has not appeared on a single pack-issued card since 2015.  So, indeed… what *is* up with Max Muncy?

I have two thoughts on that.

First off, perhaps there’s some sort of contractual issue which prevents Topps from putting him on anything but on-demand cards.  Muncy may be following in the recent footsteps of Ichiro, Andrew Miller and Matt Wieters.

The other possibility?

OK, well, maybe Topps *is* incompetent.

Custom Sunday: Moving In Twenty Different Directions

Things are a bit up in the air here in the Custom Card Department of The Shlabotnik Report. I’ve been working on bringing my 2018 TSR set to a satisfying conclusion, getting templates ready for the Hot Stove season, playing around with Football customs and brainstorming ideas for the 2019 design.

The end result is a lot of progress, but not a lot of completed customs. As a result, today’s post is a bit more disjointed than usual.

A little over a week ago I was weirding out about how Ron Santo had batted .267 in three of four seasons towards the end of his career (1970, 1972 and 1973). “What are the odds?”, I wondered.

Well the odds are somewhat less than batting .247 four seasons in a row, like the Athletics’ Khris Davis has done. For some completely unfathomable reason, this didn’t generate a Topps Now card, so I went ahead and did a ShlabotNOW card to fill in the void.

Statistically speaking, it might be more impressive to say that there have been only two seasons in his six major league seasons where he did *not* bat .247… and if he had 2 more hits and one more at bat in 2014, he would’ve batted .247 that season as well.

I mentioned before that I was wrapping up my 2018 TSR custom set. In that light, here is the last of the manager cards, the Mets’ Mickey Callaway.

All 30 teams have been represented in my manager subset, but there were a few managers who were fired before I got to their team (i.e. Bryan Price & Mike Metheny). There are currently five vacancies for manager jobs and interestingly enough they’re all in the American League.

I’ve been sitting on this “Pointless Pairings” idea all seasons, but I only recently finished the custom.

In a different type of pointless pairing, here’s another classically bad “combo card” featuring heavily hyped rookies; in this case it’s Ronald Acuna, along with one of last year’s rookies, Rafael Devers.

Finally, here’s one of those football customs I mentioned, a template I’ve been having fun with lately.  As much as the NFL has become about passing these days, it’s kind of nice to see a running back having success, so I created a custom for the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott is currently leading the league in rushing yards, and last week he rushed for 152 yards and (yeah, OK, fine) had 88 receiving yards on top of it.

I don’t know if next week’s post will be any more cohesive, but I will say that I’m excited about some of the customs I’ve got coming down the road… I’m counting on the offseason to give me the time to do that.

Man Spends His Cashes On Guys Who Wear Glasses

Dorothy Parker once said “Men seldom make passes at women in glasses”… I guess I fall into the “seldom” part, because as someone who’s worn glasses for a terribly long time, I have nothing against women in glasses (as evidenced by the fact that I married one).

Because of my long-standing need for corrective lenses, I also recently started collecting cards of baseball players in glasses. Today’s post contains the first batch of vintage cards I picked up specifically because they show players wearing glasses.

One of the stalwarts of any “baseball players with glasses” collection is Claude Raymond. Raymond is French/Canadian, pitched mostly in relief over 12 years with four teams, and made the 1966 All-Star game while with the Astros. He became a hero to the fans in Montreal as he was the first Quebecois to play for the Expos, and he would later do French-language analysis of Expos games.

Claude Raymond is the second-to-last Major Leaguer to go by the name Claude; Claude Osteen being the most recent (and he last played in 1975).

Players over the past 50 years whose given name is Claude but who didn’t go by Claude: Butch Edge, Jayhawk Owens, Skip Lockwood (another glasses guy).

Pete Mikkelsen pitched 9 years with 5 teams, running up career totals of 45-40, 3.38, almost entirely in relief.

I was wondering why I wasn’t more familiar with Mikkelsen’s name when I found out that he did not appear on a Topps card after 1968 despite his being an effective pitcher for several years after that. It would seem that, like Maury Wills, Tony Horton and Rusty Staub, he had some sort of contractual issues with Topps.

I think of Rich Rollins as the Opening Day 3rd baseman for the Seattle Pilots in 1969, but before that he had been an All-Star with the Twins and lead the league with 10 triples in 1964.

Julian Javier played 12 seasons with the Cardinals and 1 with the Reds; during that time he was a two-time All-Star. He was the starting 2nd baseman for most of his time with the Cards, and appeared in four World Series; 1964, 1967 and 1968 with the Cardinals and 1972 with the Reds (which would be the end of his Major League career). In 19 World Series games he batted .333 with 4 runs, 7 RBI and a homer.

Julian was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team in 1960, although Topps had incorrectly identified him as “Manuel Javier” on his rookie card. He’s also the father of former Major League outfielder Stan Javier.

That’s what I picked up this time around. I’m not sure how involved this particular collection is going to get. More likely than not, it will be just a way to pick out vintage commons to buy.

Does anybody else collect (or at least accumulate) players who wear glasses?

2018 TSR: The Last Day Of The Season

With two divisions still up in the air and the last day of the regular season upon us – unless there’s a tie for the NL Central or West divisions – I naturally decided to focus on a couple of the other stories of the weekend.

First off… David Wright.  I had my doubts as to whether I would be making a custom of David Wright in 2018, given his physical issues over recent years. As things worked out, he will be declared medically ineligible to play, but before he went he got a nice sendoff from the team and from Mets fans last night.

Wright pinch hit on Friday night, and last night he got his final start, taking 3rd base next to long-time teammate Jose Reyes. He got two at-bats and one fielding chance, and came out on to the field at the top of the 5th when he was pulled in a defensive change which gave him another chance to tip his cap to the Mets faithful.

Fortunately for me, MLB.TV is free this whole weekend, so I got to watch the beginning and end of the game. A nice evening all around and a great way for David Wright to ride off into the sunset.

Next up is a custom in my new “ShlabotNOW…Or Later”, addressing those moments from the season which Topps NOW neglected to address.

The Orioles Chris Davis broke a record that nobody wants to break… Of all the batters in Major League history who qualified by having 3.1 at bats for every game his team played in a given season, Chris Davis now has the lowest batting average ever, finishing with a .168 average.

Although Davis is healthy, the Orioles announced that he would not play at all this weekend, so he’s not going to get a chance to improve on this saddest of achievements.

Orioles fans can take some slight comfort in knowing that their team is not the only one to lose 100 games this year; the Royals currently sit at 58-103

Ned Yost doesn’t seem about to take the fall for the 103 losses. FYI, this is my next-to-last manager card for 2018.

Here’s another custom in the insert set of classically bad combo cards featuring excessively-hyped rookies:

Speaking of excessively-hyped rookies, I’ll wrap up with an Ohtani custom I made back in May, but which stayed on the shelf… until now.

I only post this one because I like the way this turned out. I really wish we’d gotten a 1988-themed insert set this year.