Way Behind On Customs: 2022 TSR Baseball

I’m sooooooo far behind on posting my custom cards here on the blog…

(I’m tempted to respond with a Match Game-esque “HOW FAR BEHIND ARE YOU?”, but then I couldn’t come up with a witty follow-up)

I’m so far behind that a lot of the reasons for creating these customs seems out-of-date a month or two later, which I guess underlines that I really should have some sort of game plan going into a season, but I didn’t this time around. Much like my collecting of physical cards, I’ve been spending much of the summer taking a step back and asking myself “Just what do I really want to do with these?” In both cases, I’m still navel-gazing and waiting for an answer.

But anyway… At this point I’m thinking the best way of digging my way out of this hole is just to start digging.

I’ll start with some customs for players who were on the move at the trading deadline… at this point you can look at it as an “Update” set







Every time I see reliever Pete Fairbanks mentioned, I think that with a name like that he needs to be hosting a game show… “And now, here’s the host of Tic-Tac-Dough, Pete Fairbanks!”

I just took a look at Fairbanks’ record and he’s 0-0 with 8 saves… and no decisions is what you want from relievers. A win means you gave up the lead and then took it back, and you certainly don’t want a loss. Fairbanks also has a 1.13 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 24 innings.

Zebulon Vermillion is easily my favorite name from this summer’s recent MLB draft. I’d planned on doing more draft pick customs, but I think this is the only one I’ve done (so far).

I also started what was intended to be a series of “First Pitch” insert cards, but it petered out. I may do more of these, I have to see what images I’d saved to my laptop for this series. For those who don’t know Suni Lee, she’s a gymnast who won Gold in the All-Around at the Tokyo Olympics.

Gunnar Henderson is in the Majors now, but over the summer he was in the Futures Game.  Whoever designed the Futures Game uniforms *had to* have grown up collecting in the “junk wax era”, the uniform looks like the border of a Topps Magazine card.

Yankees fans are loving the heck out of Nestor Cortes this year, with good reason given that he was an All-Star and currently has a 12-4 record and is 5th in the AL with a 2.44 ERA. Just don’t tell those fans that Cortes was briefly lost to the Orioles as a Rule V pick in 2018 and then traded to Seattle after the 2019 season (He signed with the Yankees as a free agent going into the 2021 season)

Another “Pointless Pairings” card for my 2022 Shmeritage set.  Mrs. Shlabotnik and I had been binging “The Good Doctor” before the fall premier in order to catch up on seasons we’d missed, and this custom is what came out of it.

I’ll finish with Brett Phillips, who was briefly on the Orioles. He went with 66 as his uniform number so the back of his jersey read “Phillips 66”, which I just love (even though I’ve never been to a Phillips 66 station in my life)

Two Weeks O’ Customs: Somewhere Down The Crazy

I’m sharing two weeks worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ).

Last month Eduardo Escobar hit a 9th inning triple to complete the cycle against the Padres. Before Escobar, the last Met to hit for the cycle was Scott Hairston in 2012

Tony Gonsolin has a 11-0 record and leads the Majors with a 1.62 ERA. and a 0.801 WHIP… and yet you cannot pull his cards from any 2022 packs, his only cards this year come from Topps Now

Got the urge to do a couple of 2022 Shmeritage rehab customs, starting with Stephen Strasburg making an appearance for Single-A Fredericksburg

Ronald Acuña Jr. did some rehab with the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers. The uniform featured is for the team’s Copa de la Diversión identity, “Xolos de Gwinnett”

Mark Appel was the #1 overall draft pick in 2013 and was labeled a bust after maxing out at Triple-A before walking away from the game. He came back last year and recently made his Major League debut at the age of 30.  He’s now pitched 4 scoreless innings stretched over 3 appearances.

Sandy Alcantara leads the league with 123.1 innings pitched and 2 complete games, is second in ERA (1.82) and has an 9-3 record for the 40-43 Marlins. I’ve seen his name mentioned as a starting pitcher in the All-Star Game

Anthony Gose broke into the Majors 10 years ago as a Blue Jays outfielder. He struggled to remain in the Majors and was converted to pitching 2017. Gose made his way back to the Majors last September and has appeared in 22 games this year. His last two Major League cards were 2021 Topps NOW and 2017 Topps Series One

Tyrone Taylor appeared in 93 games last year, has appeared in 62 this year, but he does not have a single 2022 baseball card. Last year he appeared in a few Panini sets and had one Topps Now card.

This weekend Angels manager Phil Nevin and Orioles rookie 3B Tyler Nevin are facing each other on a Major League field for the first time. So far Tyler’s O’s have the advantage, winning the first 3 games of the series


I love “Somewhere Down The Crazy River” by Robbie Robertson, but I think this video detracts from the atmosphere of the song. On the other hand, you get to see someone playing a Suzuki OmniChord, so there’s always that.

A Whole Lotta Customs – June 2022

I’ll just lay the cards on the table… Over the past 2 years I’ve leaned heavily on many of my fun diversionary tasks, maybe a little too heavily… Because of that, I’ve recently gotten burnt out on a lot of it. Please bear with me, I’ll work through it eventually. I always do.

Meanwhile, here are custom cards I’ve done over most of June.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Phil Nevin took the Angels manager job because he wanted to be able to wear the comfy manager’s hoodie.

The Angels’ Jared Walsh liked the team’s new City Connect uniforms so much he hit for the cycle against (*sniff*) the Mets. I didn’t care much for these unis when I saw the preview, but I have to admit they look pretty good on the field

On June 14th the Cardinals’ Miles Mikolas came within a strike of pitching a no-hitter. Had he gotten the no-no, he wouldn’t have had a shutout as the Pirates scored an unearned run on a 2-base error and 2 groundouts.

On June 18th Taijuan Walker pitched 6.2 innings, retired 18 in a row, struck out 9 and allowed 1 run.

Pirates rookie Jack Suwinski hit 3 homers on June 19th, the 3rd of which gave the Bucs a 4-3 walk-off win over the Giants

Andrew Velazquez has not appeared on an in-pack baseball card since 2019 even though he’s the Angels’ starting shortstop and has appeared in the majority of their games. You’ll probably see more of these “Should have a card” guys in the future.

The Orioles’ Austin Hays hit for the cycle in just 4 at bats – the game was called after 6 innings due to rain. The Orioles who had hit for the cycle before Hays: Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Aubrey Huff, Félix Pié and Jonathan Villar (who has recently been DFA’ed by the Cubs, much to my disappointment)

Reliever Camilo Doval, whose 11 saves leads the Giants and is 7th in the NL, does not yet have a Topps card outside of some Topps Now cards last year. He is a Rated Rookie in 2022 Donruss and also appears in Panini Diamond Kings. You wouldn’t think that Topps would hesitate to throw a rookie on cardboard, so I wonder if he doesn’t have a contract with Topps.

Yesterday Cristian Javier no-hit the Yankees for 7 innings, Hector Neris worked the 8th and Ryan Pressly finished it off and got the save.  I know there are those who don’t regard a combined no-hitter as a real no-hitter, and I get that… But anything that makes the Yankees look bad is a highlight in my book.

I don’t think I’ve shared this one yet… It’s pretty self-explanitory.

And I’ll close this out with the Players/Pitchers of the Month for May



(Not At All) Strange Bru

I semi-recently (meaning within calendar year 2022) got a padded envelope full of goodness from Marc Brubaker (Twitter here, blog here) and as it’s been going with too many things in my life, I’m delinquent in properly showing off the cards and expressing my thanks.

I decided a while ago that I’m going to get a factory set of 2022 Topps, so I haven’t seen many of the inserts that come in 2022 Topps packs. This “Stars Of MLB” insert is pretty nice…. too bad Javy Báez has already moved on (and is batting below the Mendoza Line in Detroit, but that ain’t my problem)

The package included a bunch of 1990s Steelers, which were probably laying around waiting for someone like me to gleefully welcome them into his collection.  These two are from 1990 Score Football. Should anyone accuse me of being a bandwagon Steelers fan, I’ll point out that I remained faithful during the Bubby Brister era. The 1988 team with Bubby as the QB went 5-11, the fewest wins of my nearly 40 years as a Steelers fan (Jeez, I wish I hadn’t done the math on how long I’ve been following the Black & Gold)

In talking about Bubby I almost forgot to mention something I noticed while absent-mindedly staring at these cards: The border color fading to white and then doing a hard switch back to that same color is lifted straight from 1987 Fleer Baseball.  The main difference is that 1987 Fleer was just blue & white, while these are somewhat spectrum-y fading to white, and they change depending (I’m guessing) on the printing sheet they came off of.

A couple of 1991 Pro Set cards featuring favorites Rod Woodson and Tunch Ilkin. I have a black Rod Woodson replica jersey in my modest uniform wardrobe, but I’ll admit the main reason I got a Woodson jersey because I found one really cheap (not that I don’t love Woodson).

Gotta love the symmetry of this pair: #26 and #62, black jersey and white jersey, facing left and facing right

Woodson and Ilkin again, this time it’s their Pro Bowl cards from 1990 Pro Set. I haven’t acquired many football cards beyond about 2010, so I don’t know if an offensive tackle like Tunch Ilkin, All-Pro or not, would get a card these days. Maybe they do, I have no idea.  Why did I even bring it up?

There were a bunch of Steelers cards from 1990, 1998 and 1995, which is fine because I have a lot of Steeler needs.

The two on the bottom row are from 1995 Score, and even if I couldn’t tell from the front of the card, they look very much like something that would’ve come out in 1995.

And now we move towards the centerpieces of this package.

The package also included some cards for my Jim Wynn collection.  Wynn was the first Major Leaguer I ever “met”…  I was right next to him, but I was such a painfully shy kid that he handle the bulk of the interaction.  I did get his autograph, though.  Anyway…

Here’s Jim Wynn from 2001 Topps Archives, back when it was essentially a reprint set.  The 1964 card was Wynn’s rookie card, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Archives version is a little harder to find.

Next up is a custom version of Wynn’s 1968 Topps card. The original 1968 is a head shot with the cap blacked out, as was the case for many of the “Houston” cards of the day. This ‘re-do’ is much nicer than the original.

The last card I’ll feature is another custom, this one based on the design from 1962 Topps football.

For anyone who’s not familiar with 1962 Topps Football, here’s an original I’ve featured on the blog before

Unlike the 1968 re-do, this custom has a back! Something I can appreciate because I know that card backs are kind of a pain.

A very sweet pair of customs that I’m pleased to add to my collection!

Thank you so much for the cards, Marc!

Selections From Two Weeks Of Customs: “Heimcomputer”

I should’ve done one of these posts last weekend, but things got crazy and I got overwhelmed with a bunch of things. I’m not going to share everything from the past two weeks of Tweeted customs ( #DailyTSRcustom ) but rather a selection of them, and the others will find themselves out here in due time.

When we left off, we were in a middle of a run of National League Designated Hitters… I’ll resume with an inauspicious custom of Alex Dickerson, who was serving as a DH for the Braves but has since been designated for assignment, cleared waivers and accepted a demotion to Triple-A. Nobody would last long as a DH with an on-base % of .194

Darin Ruf is included in my run of DHs, but right now he’s played the outfield as much as he’s been a DH. Ruf is in his third year with the Giants after three years in Korea with the Samsung Lions.

Seth Beer got off to a good start this season but has since cooled off and is hitless in his last 10 games.

That’s as far as I went with the NL DH’s, because many teams don’t have a dedicated DH, but instead rotate players around.

Earlier this season Miguel Cabrera became the 7th player in Major League history with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. The previous six: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. It’s funny to think that up until 1970 – if I’m doing my totals properly – there wasn’t anybody with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, and now there are seven.

“Whuh…? Oh. Right”

That was my reaction when the Braves recently brought Kenley Jansen out in the 9th against the Mets. It took my brain a few seconds to catch up with reality. This was meant to be the kick-off of a new series of “Whuh…? Oh. Right” customs, but as so often happens lately, I got distracted.

Pablo López and Logan Gilbert won the April Pitcher of the Month awards in their respective leagues… another series which I intend to follow up with customs for “Player of the Month”, possibly “Reliever of the Month” and maybe “Rookie of the Month”. I never realized there were so many “Of The Month” awards given out.

Almost forgot to include this custom for that combined no-hitter thing that the Mets were involved in.

I guess it’s a good thing that Mets fans enjoyed the moment and have moved on because there’s plenty of other good things going on with the Mets, like scoring 7 runs in the 9th to beat the Phillies 8-7.

Both the Rangers and Braves have recently worn 1970s throwback uniforms… The Rangers to commemorate the 50th anniversary of moving to Dallas/Ft. Worth and the Braves as part of their “Hank Aaron Week” festivities. I’m here to promise you that when anyone does a special throwback to the 1970s, I will be doing one of my 2022 “Shmeritage” customs.




I’ve been on a Kraftwerk kick lately, and just found out that they’re about to tour the US… They’ll be playing venues like Radio City Music Hall and The Ryman, which is kind of a weird concept, but OK.  I’ve been listening to Kraftwerk since my friends and I stumbled across an 8-track of “Autobahn” in the late 1970s.  For those who aren’t familiar, they started out experimenting with electronic music and would become pioneers of Techno.

For the most part I’ve only heard the US versions of their albums, but when “Computer World” came out, something inspired me to track down an import of the German “Computerwelt” album, a move I’ve never regretted.  The mixes and lyrics are a little harder and darker.

For this post I’ve picked out a recent single edit of “Heimcomputer”, which has the benefits of being relatively short and being in German… but honestly does it matter if the entirety of the lyrics is “I program my home computer / Beam myself into the future” or “Am Heimcomputer sitz ich hier / Programmier’ die Zukunft Mir”.

Two Weeks Of Customs: “I Should Have Known Better”

I’m sharing two weeks worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ). I’m going to start with a couple of my original TSR Daily design, share a few “inserts”, and then wrap up with a run of “theme customs”.

For the record, my intention is to do these posts on a weekly basis but last weekend I was up all night for a work “event” which screwed up my… well, my EVERYTHING for 3 or 4 days…

2-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, signed by the Rays over the winter, got a no-decision in an 8-0 Tampa Bay win over the Orioles because he didn’t pitch the 5 full innings required of a starter. He pitched 4.2 scoreless innings, but gave up 3 hits and 4 walks with 5 Ks.  It’s been his best outing of the young season.

Mets starter Tylor Megill was given the opening day assignment and has responded with a 2-0 record, 15 strikeouts, 2 walks, a 2.20 ERA and a 0.918 WHIP

I made a custom of the A’s Billy McKinney for no reason other than I like Billy McKinney.  His full name, William Landis McKinney, sounds like it should belong to a baseball executive from 100 years ago.  No, that’s not why I like McKinney.

OK, time for the first insert…  Phungo, who shares his sketch cards on his blog and on Twitter, gave me an “aw, shucks” moment by creating a Kyle Schwarber sketch card using my design.  I’m biased, but I think it looks pretty damn nice.

I set off on a bit of a side project just after opening day… I can’t remember exactly what lead to this line of thinking, but I had an idea for a custom card “insert” that boils down pretty much like this:

1) Take a “photo” day image taken in front of a colored backdrop…

2) Add a vintage Topps design where the colored background was a significant part of the design (in this case, it’s 1970/71 Topps Hockey, for which I already had a template)

3) Throw in an Orioles opening day lineup with whom I was somewhat unfamiliar.

The end result?  A side project I really didn’t need to spend time on, but I’m kinda glad that I did.  I won’t share all 11 of the original customs (9 position players + the DH + the manager), but I’ll feature some of my favorites.

Austin Hays was in right field on opening day, but he’s spent about as much time in left.

Cedric Mullins is arguably the best player on the Orioles, although he’s off to a slow start.

Bryan Baker, an off-season waiver claim, is a reliever who was obviously not in the opening day lineup but who became one of my favorite Orioles when he came in to a tie game against the Yankees, retired all five batters he faced in the 9th & 10th and struck out three. The O’s won 2-1 in 11 innings, and the O’s would take 2 of 3 games and sent a bunch of Yankee fans into a fit of outrage, which is the pinnacle of joy for a present-day Orioles fan.

The Seattle Kraken recently signed their first draft pick (#2 overall) Matty Beniers to a three year contract, after which he scored a point in each of his first four games. Beniers played for the USA in the recent Beijing Olympics.

As many of you know, when Rachel Balkovec managed the Single-A Tampa Tarpons for the first time, she became the first woman to manage an affiliated minor league team. I made this custom then neglected to Tweet it for a little while, but when I did it became – by my own modest standards – one of my most-liked and retweeted Tweets of recent memory. I will say that I’m happy with the way it turned out.

Getting back to the “base cards”, I was unexpectedly set off on a theme. I Tweeted this custom of Nelson Cruz, who was signed to be the Nationals DH, and made a comment that I didn’t know when a NL team with a DH would stop being weird.

This got the following response:

And as someone who welcomes opportunities to not have to think about which player to do next, I took on this challenge.

…Just to be clear, however, not every NL team has a dedicated designated hitter, so there won’t be 15 customs in this ‘subset’.

Albert Pujols signed with the Cardinals to DH for one last season, and he is chasing after 700 HRs

Pujols also gets a short-printed variation (same home run, different moment) for reasons I won’t get into.

Luke Voit was obtained in a trade with the Yankees and seems likely to stay at DH while the Padres still have Eric Hosmer at first.

Daniel Vogelbach signed with the Pirates as a free agent and over 12 games is batting .311 with 3 homers, 9 runs and 5 RBI.

Wrapping up for this post (there are more DH’s to come) with Andrew McCutchen.  Seems like every time I get used to McCutchen being with a particular team, he’s wearing another uniform

And with that, we’ve reached the end of this particular “Jumbo Pack”.


I didn’t know what song to include in this post, so I poked around on YouTube until I stumbled across a song that fit my current mood… and that is “I Should Have Known Better” by The Beatles

Two Weeks Of Customs: “Roy Lavender”

I’m sharing two weeks worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ).  There are a lot of customs today, be forewarned.  I’m going to go about sharing them largely in the order they were Tweeted, but I’ll wrap up with a bunch of 2022 Shmeritage customs I did to celebrate “Photo Day”, one of my favorite times of the baseball year.

SEMI-SPOILER ALERT

I’m going to touch on some of the results of the round-robin portion of the World Women’s Curling Championship wrapping up this weekend, but I won’t mention who won any of the playoff games… just in case people are still catching up on their viewing.

We’ll start with a curling highlights custom of Team Gushue, winners of the Tim Hortons Brier, the Canadian men’s championship.  Due to a failed COVID test during the tournament, they were down to three men on the ice, but still managed to win it all.  They also won Bronze in Beijing and will go on to represent Canada in the World Men’s Curling Championship in Las Vegas this April.

This next custom was featured on Twitter before my previous post featuring the Dave Roberts of the 1970s.  Shouldn’t the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts should have gotten a card in 2022 Heritage?  An insert, at the very least…

Siblings Becca and Matt Hamilton won the US Mixed Doubles championship and will represent the US at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Geneva in late April.

It was announced that Jennifer Jones, whose team decided to break up and go their separate ways, is going to join Team Zacharias as skip, bringing one of the greats in curling history together with the team which won the 2020 World Junior Curling Championship.  There have been a few “holy crap!” announcements of team changes taking effect after this season, I’m sure there are more to come.

I’d already featured Jennifer Jones here on the blog, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to repeat it.

…and what the heck, since 2022 is the year that Topps Heritage does the 1973 design, and since I did my first batch of curling customs eight years ago using that same 1973 design, here’s the Jennifer Jones custom from back then.  I’ve gotten better at doing 1973, but these customs hold a special place in my nerdy little heart.

At the beginning of the World Women’s tournament I featured customs of Anna Hasselborg and Eun-Jung Kim, and both teams made it to the playoffs, not that this was a tremendously brave prediction.

My Steelers have been busy lately so I decided to bring back my 2021-22 “Hot Stove” template and feature some of the comings and goings now so I won’t be as surprised in September. Mitch Trubisky was signed to help fill in the gap left by the retired Ben Roethlisberger.  This Steelers fan is ready to move forward from Ben, whether it’s for good or bad.  There will be more of these customs, but I haven’t gotten a chance to make them just yet.

Mariners pitcher Casey Sadler has pitched in over 100 career games and appeared in 42 last year, but his only Major League card is from 2020 Topps Total.  Sadly, shortly after I Tweeted this it was announced that Sadler will undergo shoulder surgery and  miss the upcoming season.

Oh, one other thing about this custom…  2022 Heritage uses magenta and green for the Mariners, and there was no way I was going to replicate that ugly combo in Shmeritage, not when green and blue are otherwise unused, come closer to team colors and generally looks far better.

After 12 years as a third on Team Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes has announced that she’ll be the skip of her own team next season. Joining her will be Selena Njegovan, Jocelyn Peterman and Kristin MacCuish.

Nashville defenseman Roman Josi was named the NHL’s 1st Star of the week ending 3/20. For the week Josi was tops in the NHL in assists and points (both 9). FWIW, this is the first Predators custom I’ve made in this “set”.

Switzerland went undefeated in the round robin of the World Women’s Curling Championship, and has qualified for this weekends playoffs. Silvana Tirinzoni is the skip, but throws third. Alina Paetz throws fourth.

Sandy Alomar Sr. was in 1973 Topps… It seems like Sandy Jr. should’ve gotten a card in this year’s Heritage set.  Again, an insert would’ve been fine.

Daniel Sprong, obtained from the Capitals at the trade deadline, has provided some much-needed offense for the Seattle Kraken. He’s scored a goal in each of his 2 games since the trade.

One of my favorite parts of Spring Training comes early in the whole process.  Photo Day!  It’s always fun to see photos of players in new uniforms, whether they’re new to that player or new to everybody.  I did a bunch of customs using my 2022 Shmeritage design, and I’ll just feature them here without comment.









Continuing with my series of the offbeat songs I might consider using as walk-up music if I had enough athletic talent to play in a league which has a PA system over which to play walk-up music…. “Roy Lavender” by Henley Douglas RnB is a song I just happened to catch on the radio one day, and it instantly caught my attention.

Two Weeks Of Customs: “Sonido Total”

This time around it’s more like a week and a half’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ). I took a short break after the Olympics before getting back into the swing of things.

Normally I just plug these in to the post in the same order that they were Tweeted, but this time around I’m going to break things up by sport.

The Canadian men’s curling championship, officially known as the Tim Hortons Brier, is wrapping up this afternoon and tonight.  Team Bottcher, the defending champions, are playing in a semi-final against Team Gushue (aka Wild Card 1), and the winner… .

…The winner faces Team Alberta, skipped by Kevin Koe, who have already qualified for the final.  Reports are that this is the last go-round for Team Koe as they’re currently set up, we’ll find out more in the offseason.

Here in the US, the pandemic has wiped out the annual curling championships so USA Curling has picked teams to represent the US in the upcoming World Championships.  For the women, Team Cory Christensen and her intense stare will be going to Prince George, British Columbia when the tournament starts this coming Saturday.

Before I introduce this next batch of customs, I want to point out that I am working on an original “TSR” design for the upcoming season (now that we know we have an upcoming season).  But as 2022 Heritage came out this week, and it’s based on 1973 Topps, I wanted to do a custom version of 1973 because a) It’s fairly easy to replicate and b) it’s my original idea of ‘vintage’, being the set which came before I entered the hobby in 1974.

The thing is, it’s kinda pointless to make 1973 customs of players who are in 2022 Heritage, so in my version – which I’m so very creatively calling “Shmeritage” – I’m featuring players, managers and coaches who are not likely to appear in Heritage or Heritage High Numbers later this year.

The MLB Network, apparently short of programming for some strange reason, showed a season-opening college tournament taking place at Minute Maid Park in Houston.  I watched a little bit of several of the games, and I can’t swear that this was televised, but in that tournament Tennessee freshman Chase Burns faced #1 ranked Texas and struck out 10 Longhorns in 5 innings.  Burns got a no-decision as Texas went on to win 7-2.

I was reading an article in Baseball America about former Major Leaguers who are now head coaches in Division I Baseball.  I thought it would be fun to make customs of a couple of these coaches, so I started with Jose Cruz Jr., head coach of the Rice University baseball team.

Former Astros All-Star Lance Berkman is the head coach at Houston Baptist University

This last 1973-style custom has a bit of a story… a breaker on Twitter was complaining about an autograph of John Hiller in 2022 Heritage.  He complained that he didn’t know who Hiller is, and how disappointed a 10-year-old would be to get Hiller in a break.  I spent a while trying to come up with what I hoped would be a polite rebuttal that this is an awesome pull for anyone who was familiar with baseball in 1973, or who is familiar with members of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (Hiller is from Toronto)… and also, should 10 year olds or anyone else get upset for pulling something like that from Heritage?  That’s like complaining about (let’s say) pulling a Ken Jennings autograph from a box of Allen & Ginter.

After several versions of this reply I gave up and decided to funnel my energies into a custom, so I made one of Tony Perezchica, the 3rd base coach of the Diamondbacks, and a player I used to like back when he was active from 1988 to 1992.

Several things I want to point out about this… First off, there were no coaches in 1973 Topps, which meant there wasn’t a little symbol for coaches and I had to make one up of a coach waiving a runner home.  I also wanted the little circle to use a color which wasn’t used in 1973, which didn’t leave me many options.  I went with the ‘sand’ color that you see above.

By the way, if you’re curious about why John Hiller was an excellent pick for a 1973 autograph, I wrote about him a few years ago.

Switching to hockey…

American defenseman Will Borgen plays for the Seattle Kraken, was drafted from the Sabres and got his first NHL goal and assist earlier this season.

Jason Robertson had back-to-back hat tricks and was named the NHL’s 1st Star for the week ending March 6th. Jason and his brother Nicholas (who plays for the Maple Leafs) are the first Filipino-Americans in the NHL.

And finally, Patrick Kane had a goal and five assists in the Blackhawks’ win over Anaheim this past Tuesday. He leads Chicago in assists and points and over his career he’s won the Calder, Smythe, Hart, Pearson and Ross.


This song came up on my phone the other day… I can’t remember where or how I first heard “Sonido Total”, but hearing it gave me the idea of doing a short series of the offbeat songs I might consider using as walk-up music if I had enough athletic talent to play in a league which has a PA system over which to play walk-up music.  The song’s kinda weird but catchy, and I like “kinda weird but catchy”.

Two Weeks Of Customs: “A Hazy Shade Of Winter”

Ideally I’d be featuring a week’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ) but I’m still off my schedule and skipping weeks. Maybe next week…

Should we ever get back to baseball, Steven Matz, who won 14 games for the Blue Jays in 2021, will be with the St. Louis Cardinals after signing a four-year contract.

Quick editorial comment: After MLB aggressively and heavy-handidly took over the minor leagues and screwed over a number of small-market teams, I’m not looking favorably on their latest attempts to have their way.

Moving on…

Chrys Plys is half of the US Olympic mixed doubles curling team (I featured Vicky Persinger last time).  As I write this, I believe the US team has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Resident Alien, a show that quickly became a favorite of me and Mrs. Shlabotnik after it premiered, is back on SYFY. The show is generally about an extraterrestrial forced to pass himself off as human in a small town in Colorado, but there are a number of other running plots going on. Alan Tudyk is great in the titular role, and this season Nathan Fillion has taken a larger role as an octopus. It’s a weird show, but it’s fun.

Keith Yandle recently played in his 965th consecutive game, breaking the NHL “Ironman” record held by Doug Jarvis (whose streak ran from 1975 to 1988). This gives me another excuse to use my “Highlights” design, which is really the original 1974/75 Postseason design – there weren’t any highights cards in the original set.

The 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women’s national curling championship, is in its final stages. Team Einarson are going for a three-peat, having won in 2020 and 2021.

With 4 goals in 23 shots, Colin Blackwell is among the Kraken team leaders in shooting percentage. For what it’s worth – and it’s not worth anything to 99% of you – I’m considering the All-Star break to be the end of Series 1. At this point I don’t know what difference this will have, other than higher card numbers on my fake card backs.

Australia is taking part in Olympic curling for the first time, represented by the mixed doubles team of Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt. They’ve been competitive for the most part, and won their first game… yesterday? This morning? I’m having trouble adjusting to the 13-hour time difference between Beijing and Shlabotsylvania.

Both Monty Python’s Terry Jones and Doctor Who’s Elisabeth Sladen would’ve celebrated birthdays on January 31st, but they left us too soon. Both were favorites during my teen years and beyond

Scottish pair Jen Dodds and Bruce Mouat are representing Great Britain in mixed doubles and have qualified for the playoffs. I’ll point out that this was a promotional shot from last fall… I don’t think Jen would compete with her hair down like that.

Colorado’s Nazem Kadri was named the NHL’s 1st star for the week of Jan. 24-30; In four games he had 3 game-winning goals and eight points. He’s currently 2nd in the league in assists and tied for 3rd in points

21-year-old Canadian hockey player Sarah Fillier scored four goals in her first two Olympic games and early on in the tournament is among the leaders in points.

I was debating on whether to include Olympic hockey in my customs mainly because I wasn’t sure how to adapt the design I’m using for Olympic use. After some kind words and a request from a reader named Frank, I moved ahead and settled on replacing team logos with the Beijing 2022 logo; Hope this works out, but if it doesn’t it won’t last more than two weeks.

One thing I’ll point out after doing this one custom – photos which work with my design seem to be in short supply, so while I’ll try to feature some of the top men and women hockey players of the Olympics, I can’t make any promises.

Seems like every time I see the Italian mixed doubles curling team (Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner) they’re burning stones or committing hog line violations, but they’re 8-0 and have qualified for the playoffs, so I’m clearly missing the good stuff


I heard some group had a bit of success with this song in the 1980s…

Three Weeks Of Customs: “Where The Hell Is Memphis?”

I knew how long it had been since I did one of these posts, but I also kinda didn’t know.  Willfully, on some level.  The “blahs” of the holiday season have largely seeped into my January and it’s all too easy to say “Yeah, I’m not completely up to doing that”.

I thought about breaking this up into two posts, but think of it instead as a jumbo pack, and you can linger or skip as you see fit.

I knew it had been a while since my last custom post because the first custom to share is from a series I’ve wrapped up a while ago on Twitter (#DailyTSRcustom).  This is another of my mashups of my custom baseball designs and 1975 Topps, this time featuring 2019 MVP’s Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger.

These two customs were made this year with photos from 2019 and the original template.

In an effort to re-familiarize myself with the NHL, I’m playing fantasy hockey.  As with most things related to my return to following the NHL, it’s not going as I would like – I’m in 7th place out of 12 – but I wanted to feature my best player at this point of the season, the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider.

In the fantasy league draft he was my 14th pick (165th overall), so I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for that accidental but astute scouting job.

I’m also forging ahead with my Seattle Kraken cards.  I gotta tell you, I didn’t expect them to make it to the Stanley Cup finals like the Vegas Golden Knights had in their first season, but I also didn’t expect to suffer through a 9-game losing streak and an earlier 6-game streak.

That being said, here’s another one of my “super deluxe” Kraken customs… And they’re super deluxe because I make the backs as well as the front.  Marcus Johansson is a former 1st round draft pick who signed a one-year contract after playing last season for Minnesota.

The final mashup of my customs and 1975 Topps features 2020 MVPs José Abreu and Freddie Freeman. Because of the truncated 2020 season this design was meant to be a quickie riff on 2009 Upper Deck and 1961 Topps, but it ended up being a fun design anyway.


Rachel Balkovec was recently named the manager of the Tampa Tarpons, the Yankees Low-A farm team. This will make her the first woman to manage an affiliated minor league team, so I faked up a Tarpons “Hot Stove” custom to commemorate the event.

Even though I took the Tarpons logo from a cap being sold online, it still looks superimposed, I guess that’s something I’ll have to work on in the future.

The mid-engine Maserati MC20 signals a return to racing for the historic Italian brand and is the first mid-engine car Maserati has developed in-house since the 1970s.

Holy crap, the Winter Olympics start in just over a week!  For me that means a bit of international rules hockey (love the bigger rink) and a lot of curling.  I’ve been planning to make curling customs for months, and here’s the first;  it features John Shuster, whose men’s team will be defending their 2018 Gold Medal… something that still seems a bit odd to say about an American curling team.

Rachel Homan and John Morris were selected to represent Canada in Olympic Mixed Doubles.  I don’t spend a lot of time following mixed doubles mainly because I enjoy watching both men’s and women’s curling and I have to draw the line somewhere.

And for anyone wondering whether I meant to make my design look like 1978-79 Topps/O-Pee-Chee Hockey, the answer is yes, emphatically YES!  I quite blatantly ripped off the design because I thought it would work well.  The little inset that I use to designate the country was originally used in the Topps set to designate the All-Stars.  That’s a big part of why I’m using stars to fill in space on either side of the country name, although if anyone were to call me out on it, I’d say that they’re there because my set is called “Stars Of Curling”.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t intended to be an Olympics set, more of a “This Year In Curling” set.  I’m trying to decide if I want to have “Highlights” cards to match the original hockey set, but who am I trying to kid, I’ll most likely break down and do it before the end of the Olympics.

The Texas Rangers signed SS Marcus Semien to a 7-year, $175M contract.  I cheated a little on this one and used a closely-cropped press conference photo with a little faked-up jersey to cover some of his street clothes.

I’m still a bit sad that Betty White didn’t make it to her 100th birthday, but I’m glad she was with us as long as she was.  This design is from my “Shlabotnik’s Snack Cakes” series.

The Bruins’ Brad Marchand was named the NHL 1st Star for the week of Jan. 10-16. He recorded multiple points in each of his 4 games – including a hat trick against the Habs – and tallied 6 goals and 4 assists for the week.

Just a little side note… I hadn’t realized that the Bruins changed their logo from what I was familiar with. It’s not a major change, but it’s not a change I see as being for the better.

Vicky Persinger will be going to her first Olympics as she and teammate Chris Plys represent the USA in mixed doubles curling (and yes, a Chris Plys custom will come before too long)

For no particular reason, a custom of Kate McKinnon…

The Mets surprised this Mets fan by signing Max Scherzer to a 3-year $130M deal… it’s going to be like Tom Glavine was where I have to keep reminding myself that I need to root *for* him now

Here’s another Kraken… Riley Sheahan scored the first pre-season goal in Kraken history, but that doesn’t get mentioned on the card because they went to press before any of that happened (*wink*)


For anyone who’s interested, I’ve created customs for most of the current roster, with the exception of a handful of players who have appeared in fewer than half of the 40 games the Kraken have played so far. I’m not stopping yet, but at some point I might get to a point of diminishing returns.


The other day I was listening to the out-of-print Joe Jackson album which was meant as a soundtrack to the 1984 movie “Mike’s Murder”.  I saw the movie years ago, you’re not missing anything – plus most of the Joe Jackson music was minimized in the actual film. While the album itself is out of print, most of the songs are available as bonus tracks or on compilations. Anyway, this is more background than any actual point I’m making… The main thing is that I heard this song and thought I should feature it in my next customs post (except I’m using the superior live version of “Memphis” from an album which came out later in the 1980s)