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

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


BOB HORNER

1979 Topps #586

Played 1978 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Braves

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

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

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

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


WILLIE HORTON

1976 Topps #320

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

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

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

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

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


CHARLIE HOUGH

1975 Topps #71

Played 1970 – 1994
1970’s Teams: Dodgers

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

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

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


RALPH HOUK

1978 Topps #684

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

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

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

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

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


FRANK HOWARD

1970 Topps Super #16

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

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

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

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

2021 TSR Daily: A Quick Pack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


GIL HODGES

1970 Topps #394

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

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

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

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


JOE HOERNER

1976 SSPC #456

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

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

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

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


KEN HOLTZMAN

1976 Topps #115

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

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

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

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

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


BURT HOOTON

1974 Topps #378

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1957

This design was used in 2015 Archives and 2006 Heritage

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

1962

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

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

1973

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

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

1983

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

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

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

1991

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

2001

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

2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2021 TSR Daily: More From Series 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


WHITEY HERZOG

1978 Topps #299

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

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

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

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


JIM HICKMAN

1973 Topps #565

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

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

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

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


TOM HILGENDORF

1974 Topps #13

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

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

Career Highlights:
Lead the 1973 Indians in Saves

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

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


JOHN HILLER

1973 Topps #448

Played 1965 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Tigers

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

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

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

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


LARRY HISLE

1975 Hostess #128

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

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

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

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

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


BONUS #1 – MIKE HERSHBERGER, PHANTOM PILOT!!!

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

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


BONUS #2 – DAVE HILTON

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

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

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

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

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

2021 TSR Daily: About The “Checklist”

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

This is the third post in this series, and this time I’m going to talk a little bit about how I’m going about selecting the players to be featured in this set.

One of my minor peeves about the checklists of 21st Century sets is that they lean too much on star players, rookie cards, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox, all to varying degrees.

For my set, I wanted to be fair about which teams were represented and maybe not spend so much ‘real estate’ on rookies who could end up being the next Henry Owens or Zach Lee (ask your friends who were collecting five or six years ago).

In thinking about giving more cards to the less successful teams (who do, after all, have fans) and cutting back on the ‘usual’ teams, it reminded me of a project I did three years ago when I did a current-day version of the 1964 Topps “Giants” set and made sure I did three customs for each team, just like the original.

It was a fun exercise because it made me think about which players from the World Champion team to leave out and which players from a rebuilding 100-loss team to include.

Once I started thinking along those lines, I figured that if I did a custom a day from roughly mid-February to mid-October it would give me 240 customs, which could be broken down to 8 cards for each of the 30 teams.  That’s the plan for now, but if we get to the All-Star break and one of these rebuilding team trades away anybody that has any value at all, then maybe I give some extra slots to a team that has players worthy of inclusion.  We’ll see what happens.

OK, so let’s rip into this pack.

2020 AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber lead the Majors in ERA (1.63) and strikeouts (122) and tied Yu Darvish for the most wins in the Majors (8)

DJ LeMahieu got a 2020 AL MVP first place vote and lead the league with a .364 average. His re-signing came as a tremendous relief to Yankees fans everywhere

Silver Slugger winner Juan Soto lead the Majors with a .490 On-Base % and a .695 Slugging %, plus lead the NL with a .351 Batting Average

2020 NL ROY Devin Williams also got Cy & MVP votes, gave up just 1 ER over 27 IP and struck out 17.7 per 9 IP

Insert time!  I’ll admit that I’m still working on ideas for inserts, so for now I’m going to press ahead with the “Managers and Coaches” insert set.

It wasn’t a huge surprise that someone would hire AJ Hinch after his suspension was over.  There weren’t a lot of openings for Hinch to pursue, so here we are.

Chris Bassitt got some Cy Young votes and was the AL September Pitcher of the Month after going 3-0 in four starts and giving up 1 ER over 26.2 IP

Trevor Story lead the league with 4 Triples and 15 stolen bases, and also lead the Rockies in runs, hits, doubles, homers and slugging %

Joey Gallo batted below the Mendoza Line in 2020, but he won a Gold Glove and lead the team in On-Base %. 

These powder blue Rangers unis are growing on me, but I’m still of the opinion that the Rangers have a fairly uninteresting visual history.


This pack also came with a “promo card” for a possibly upcoming non-sports set: 2021 TSR Wheels.  I’ve made a stab at a car-based custom set before, and as part of my custom-making insanity of late, I came up with a new design that I quite like.

Our packaging engineers at The Shlabotnik Report managed to fit a “Tall Boy”-sized card (4.66″ x 2.5″) in a standard-sized pack.  Kudos to them for this achievement!

The Mustang Mach-E, from what I’ve read, is not so much an electrified Mustang as it is a Mustangified electric crossover.  I read an article recently that said that people who have driven an electric car before are more likely to consider buying one, and I have to admit that driving a rental Prius for a week about 18 months ago (after my car had been in a fender bender) made me a lot more receptive to the idea of owning one.

OK, that’s more than enough for this post.  Have a good week!

The 1970’s, A To Z: George Hendrick to Larry Herndon

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.


GEORGE HENDRICK

1979 Hostess #66

Played 1971 – 1988
1970’s Teams: A’s, Indians, Padres, Cardinals

1970’s Highlights:
Named to the All-Star teams in 1974 and 1975; In a 9-inning game against the Braves on August 25, 1978, Hendrick hit a Grand Slam, a three-run homer, a double, a single and was hit by a pitch; Scored winning run in game 5 of 1972 WS and got on a 1973 Topps card for it; Won a World Championship with the 1972 A’s; Was named the Padres’ team MVP in 1977 after batting .311 with 23 homers and 81 RBI

Career Highlights:
In the 1980’s he made two additional All-Star teams, Won two Silver Sluggers and got MVP votes in four seasons; Won a World Championship with the 1982 Cardinals

Card Stuff:
His 1975 card shows him at original Yankee Stadium, which closed after the 1973 season; His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is unique in that it took a different photo of him wearing an Indians visor and airbrushed it into an oddly-shaped Padres cap


ELROD HENDRICKS

1976 Topps #371

Played 1968 – 1979
1970’s Teams: Orioles, Cubs, Yankees

1970’s Highlights:
Had a double, homer and 4 RBI and batted .364 in the 1970 World Series; Pitched 2.1 shutout innings in a 24-10 loss to the Blue Jays on June 26, 1978; Was traded to the Cubs for Tommy Davis on 8/18/72 and then two months later was traded back to the O’s for Frank Estrada

Career Highlights:
Was the Orioles’ bullpen coach for 28 seasons starting in 1978, and was briefly activated as a player in 1978 and 1979; Inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2001; Although his #44 has never been officially retired, nobody has worn it since Elrod passed away in 2005

Card Stuff:
Hendricks’ time with the Cubs and Yankees never appeared on a mainstream baseball card


ENZO HERNANDEZ

1977 Topps #522

Played 1971 – 1978
1970’s Teams: Padres, Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
Enzo Hernandez had a good glove, was a stolen base threat and a fan favorite in San Diego; He held the Padres club record with 21 stolen bases in 1971 and broke that record with 37 in 1974 — that record was broken by Ozzie in 1978 and is currently tied for 15th; Enzo also had the Padres all-time stolen base record with 129, which was broken by Ozzie in 1981; In 1975 he lead the NL with 24 Sac bunts; was Involved in turning a Triple Play against the Braves 8/1/71


KEITH HERNANDEZ

1979 Topps #695

Played 1974 – 1990
1970’s Teams: Cardinals

1970’s Highlights:
Was co-winner, along with Willie Stargell, of the 1979 NL MVP Award… although Stargell got 10 1st place votes to Keith’s 4; On his way to the Co-MVP he lead the league with a .344 aveage, 116 runs and 48 doubles; Was an All-Star in 1978 and 1979; Won Gold Gloves in 1978 and 1979; Named the August, 1979 NL Player of the Month after batting .384 with 20 runs, 21 RBI, 14 doubles, 48 hits and 13 walks; Was involved in turning a triple play vs.the Astros, 5/8/77

Career Highlights:
Won 11 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1978 to 1988; Won World Championships with the 1982 Cardinals and 1986 Mets; Was the first Mets player named team captain; Inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1997; Has been a Mets broadcaster since 1999

Fun Stuff:
His father and brother played in minor league baseball; Made appearances on “Seinfeld” (playing himself) and “Law and Order” (playing a character)

Card Stuff:
His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is cropped tighter than the 1977 Topps card


LARRY HERNDON

1977 Topps #397

Played 1974 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Giants

1970’s Highlights:
Made his debut with the Cardinals in 1974 and was one of two minor leaguers traded to the Giants for Ron Bryant in 1975; Was named to the Topps 1976 All-Star Rookie team and was the Sporting News 1976 NL Rookie Player of the Year… TSN had separate awards for rookie position players and rookie pitchers, and the Official NL ROY award went to pitchers Pat Zachry and Butch Metzger

Career Highlights:
A member of the World Champion 1984 Tigers, Herndon has a career .310 Postseason batting average;

Card Stuff:
Had a 1977 Hostess card that could be considered a rookie card; His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is missing the All-Star Rookie cup

2021 TSR Daily: About The Colors

Welc0ome to another virtual pack of my 2021 TSR Daily custom card set… if you’re wondering why it’s called “Daily”, that’s because I Tweet out a custom each day (#2021TSRDaily) and then share them here each week, sort of like opening a pack.

Starting with this post I’m also going to have some additional customs which don’t appear on Twitter.

I want to spend a little bit of time taking about how I decided on the colors used for this set, but before I get started here’s the first custom in the pack:

Ryan Mountcastle got called up in late August but played well enough to be named to the 2020 Topps All-Star Rookie team.

I’ve been doing these customs on a regular basis since 2012 and I get a little obsessed over the colors I use. I like to have particular colors assigned to each team and spend a probably-crazy amount of time picking those colors. I have a palette full of “authentic Topps” colors I’d set up in my copy of PaintShop Pro

For this set, I went with a late 1960’s Topps color theme and assigned many of the colors to match what was used by Topps in 1966, 1968 and 1969. For example, this Mountcastle custom has a similar ‘pea green’ to what was used for the O’s back in 1966.

2020 National League MVP Freddie Freeman batted .341, lead the league with 51 runs and 23 doubles, plus won a Silver Slugger.

In the late 1960s the Braves were ‘assigned’ a lavender color for their cards, and I maintained that here. By the way, the color of the ring around the border (dark blue in this case) has little to do with the 1960’s… I started with the primary 1960s color and then just played around with what worked best. No two teams in my custom set have the same color combination.

Bryan Reynolds was one of the prospects the Pirates acquired for Andrew McCutchen and was named to the 2019 Topps All-Star Rookie team.

The Pirates cards from the late 1960’s had magenta as their assigned colors, but I thought that worked better for the Rockies than for the Pirates, so I shuffled things around a bit.

Zack Greinke’s awards include a Cy Young, 2 ERA titles, 6 Gold Gloves and 2 Silver Sluggers. After a good 2020, the Astros need ‘great’ in 2021.

Like the Orioles, the Astros have a pea green color (with a dark blue ring instead of the Orioles black ring)… but this gives me an opportunity to point out one other obsessive little detail.

Ever since I chased hard after 1979-80 Topps Hockey (but sadly, didn’t chase hard enough to get the Gretzky rookie – hey I was a kid and didn’t know any better), I’ve liked the way it looks to have the full team name but with the city in one color and the team nickname in another.

This idea has been floating around my head for years, waiting for an opportunity to get used. This set was clearly a great place for that.

Now, I’ll point out a little detail that some of you may find interesting.  The O’s and Astros both have green as the base color, but the Orioles have “BALTIMORE” in black and “ORIOLES” in white, and this is reversed for the Astros.

Oh, I’ll also point out that I maintained a symmetry in the set because when the team name is black and white, the player name and position on the bottom is white and black (or whatever colors we’re talking about).  If you find a custom of mine where that’s not the case, you can file it under “uncorrected error”.

Manny Machado won his first Silver Slugger and lead the Padres with a .304 average and 47 RBIs.

I had to go with the abbreviation “ss” for shortstop on the Manny custom, because the full text wouldn’t fit.  It looks OK for something like “1b”, but looks kind of weird with “ss”.  I may tweak that as I go along.

Mike Yastrzemski lead the league with 4 triples, lead the Giants in runs and RBI and got some MVP consideration

The Giants and Senators had green and yellow as their 1960s colors.  I kept the green with Washington and assigned it to the Nationals, instead of keeping it with the Texas Rangers, the team that used to be the 1960’s Senators.

To mirror a conversation happening on Twitter as I’m finishing this post…  Other than maintaining a vintage-y feel to these cards, I like to have a relatively variety of color combinations on my customs, and to do that requires that we get some teams paired up in unusual ways.  The Giants get green and yellow, but the A’s get purple and yellow.  I like to have colors that may complement the team colors, or at least don’t clash with the team colors.  I stayed pretty traditional with the Yankees and White Sox, but honestly I could use any colors for those teams without fear of clashing with the uniforms.

J.T. Realmuto has a Gold Glove and 2 Silver Sluggers on his mantelpiece and was named by MLB.com to be one of the top 100 players in the Majors.

I suspect that several free agents – or at least the agents of those free agents – counted a little too much on new Mets owner Steve Cohen coming in and throwing contracts out like a drunken sailor. The Mets signed James McCann to be their starting catcher and Realmuto ended up back in Philly.

One last comment about the colors… The Phillies and Indians had a medium grey and dark red as their late 1960s colors, but since my design already has grey borders, that would’ve been too much grey.  I changed the primary color to black for those two teams, and also used it for the Mariners, who didn’t exist in the late 1960s


In my last post I mentioned that I would eventually have “inserts”… partially because I want to, but also because I want my blog to have some “exclusives” that don’t appear on Twitter. The first one is from a “Managers And Coaches” insert set that has the same design as the base cards.  If this were a real, commercially-available set, these would be a fairly common insert (maybe one per 2  or 3 packs) and would be numbered separately.

Tony La Russa is already in the Hall Of Fame as a manager and stepped down from his last job after winning the 2011 World Series with the Cardinals, but here he is again, managing the White Sox for the second time (and first time in a Chisox uniform since 1986).

And that wraps up this pack and also wraps up my rambling about colors.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Rich Hebner To Steve Henderson

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.


RICH HEBNER

1978 Topps #26

Played 1968 – 1985
1970’s Teams: Pirates, Phillies, Mets

1970’s Highlights:
Got the first hit ever in Three Rivers Stadium, 7/16/70; Was involved in turning two triple plays; 6/6/70 vs. Dodgers, and 7/9/71 vs. Braves

Career Highlights:
Hit over 200 homers over his career; Played in the NLCS eight different times but only played in one World Series (1971)

Fun Stuff:
In high school he was a star hockey player and almost signed with the Boston Bruins; Was the last Pittsburgh Pirate to wear #20 before it was retired for Pie Traynor in 1972; Was known for having an offseason job digging graves

Card Stuff:
His photo was in 1977 O-Pee-Chee was an airbrushed version of his 1977 Topps photo; Appeared in every Topps set of the 1970’s (as compiled by Night Owl)


MIKE HEGAN

1976 Topps #377

Played 1964 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Brewers, A’s, Yankees

1970’s Highlights:
Started at first base in the first-ever Milwaukee Brewers game; Set a Major League record (since broken) with 178 consecutive errorless games at first base; Won a World Championship with the 1972 A’s; Hit for the cycle 9/3/76 vs Tigers; Was involved in turning a triple play against the Red Sox, 4/28/71

Career Highlights:
Was named an all-star with the Seattle Pilots in 1969 but had to be replaced due to an injury; Was the first-ever player on the Pilots roster, having been purchased from the Yankees on 6/14/68 (he would spend the rest of the 1968 season with AAA Syracuse)

Fun Stuff:
Hegan was the last batter at original Yankee Stadium (9/30/73) and the last Brewers player to wear #4 before Paul Molitor; His father, Jim Hegan, was a Major League catcher in the 1940s and 1950s


TOMMY HELMS

1970 Topps #159

Played 1964 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Reds, Astros, Pirates, Red Sox

1970’s Highlights:
Won Gold Gloves in 1970 and 1971;  Hit the first Reds home run at Riverfront Stadium in 1970 (his only homer that season); Lead the league in Fielding Percentage three times, in putouts in 1971 and in assists in 1972; Inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1979;  Helms and Lee May went from the Reds to the Astros in the famous 1971 trade that brought Joe Morgan and César Gerónimo to Cincinnati

Career Highlights:
Was the 1966 NL Rookie of the Year; Was named an All-Star in 1967 and 1968

Fun Stuff:
Tommy is the uncle of former Major League infielder Wes Helms

Card Stuff:
After being sold to Oakland in November 1976, Helms shows up in 1977 Topps with an airbrushed A’s batting helmet but he never played for that team because he was sent back to Pittsburgh in a Spring Training trade; Appears with the Red Sox in 1978 Topps, but he was released during Spring Training that year and didn’t play after that


KEN HENDERSON

1972 Topps #444

Played 1965 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Giants, White Sox, Braves, Rangers, Mets, Reds, Cubs

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the August 1972 NL Player of the Month after hitting in 18 consecutive games and batting .409 for the month with 28 runs, 28 RBI, 11 homers and a .800 slugging percentage; batted .313 in the 1971 NLCS; Lead the 1974 White Sox with 176 hits, 35 doubles, 5 triples, 95 RBI, 66 walks and was named the White Sox Player of the Year; Scored 104 runs in 1970

Career Highlights:
Broke into the majors as a 19-year-old

Fun Stuff:
His cousin, Kerry Dineen, had cups of coffee with the Yankees and Phillies

Card Stuff:
Another player who appeared in every Topps set of the 1970’s… he appeared on 1970s cards with five different teams


STEVE HENDERSON

1978 Topps #134

Played 1977 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Mets

1970’s Highlights:
Finished a close second to Andre Dawson in 1977 NL Rookie of the Year voting; Lead the 1977 Mets with 65 RBI and lead the 1978 Mets with 83 runs; Originally drafted by the Reds, he was one of four players traded to the Mets when the Reds acquired Tom Seaver

Career Highlights:
Between playing and coaching, Henderson spent 46 years in baseball

Fun Stuff:
His nickname is “Stevie Wonder”; Is the only player from Jack Yates High School (Houston, TX) to play in the Majors