George Blanda Was SOOOOOOOOO Old…

GENE RAYBURN: George Blanda was SOOOOOO old…


GENE RAYBURN:  …He was so old, that when he first played football, the cheerleaders were [blank] !

When I was a kid back in 1975, nobody on my baseball and football cards seemed older to me than George Blanda… who, somehow, was an active quarterback and kicker at the same time he was terribly old.

…Except maybe Reds manager Sparky Anderson, who was also terribly, terribly old in my preteen eyes.

I can’t remember what it was that got me wondering this, but I recently pondered the age-old old-age question… Just who was older, Blanda or Anderson?

Towards the end of 1975, as baseball season transitioned to football season…

Sparky Anderson was 41 years old (born February 22, 1934)

…while George Blanda was 48 years old (born September 17, 1927).

And there you have it, the grey-haired active NFL player was older than the white-haired MLB manager.

Full disclosure… right now, in 2020, I am older than either of these “very old” gentlemen were in 1975.  Furthermore, someone who remembers what it’s like to be 48 years old, I think of George Blanda playing in the NFL and I say “DAAAAAAAYAMN!!!!”

(For anyone who is wondering about the Gene Rayburn custom, that one dates back to 2013 when I was actively poking fun at A&G with my “Simon & Gintfunkel” customs.)

Before we leave off, I invite everyone to leave your answer to the “Match Game question” in the comments.  I have one in mind, but I’ll hold off for now to let you think up your own.

Once again… George Blanda was so old, that when he first played football, the cheerleaders were [blank] !

First Custom Cards In A While

After an unintentional break, I’ve been back to doing customs, and I’ve shared a couple of them out on Twitter (@Shlabotnik_Rpt) but it’s been a while since I shared them on the blog… and so…

First, let’s roll through a few “Hot Stove” customs based on the mid-1960’s Bazooka design.

First off, here’s the Diamondbacks’ new ace Madison Bumgarner.  I borrowed the photo from the D-Backs’ social media, but swapped out the background.

It looks weird to see MadBum in a different uniform, but that’s true of certain players every spring.

Recently the Red Sox said “Oh, hey, pitchers and catchers are getting ready to report to Spring Training… maybe we should get a manager?”

Dellin Betances signed with the Mets a while ago, but I like this picture too much not to use it.

Back when Joe Girardi was introduced in a press conference, he put on a Phillies jersey but never put on a cap… much to my dismay and annoyance, so I went and photoshopped an older photo.

A little over a week ago, Twitter account @TheOldTowneTeam tweeted an image of the bottom of a 1974 Topps Traded card and said “Someone needs to come up with a Mookie Traded card.

I don’t need much of an excuse to make 1974 customs, so I hauled out my template, updated it for Traded cards, and came up with this:

Pretty simple stuff, all I needed to do to the photo was change the color of Mookie’s undershirt.

That left me somewhat unfulfilled… I wanted to do something with fake airbrushing and I was someone intrigued by the Twins getting starting pitcher Kenta Maeda, so a week later I did the following:

I’m not sure I’ll do more of these… but I’m not sure I won’t.

I’m going to wrap up today with something that, a few months ago, I never thought I’d do… I’ve made an XFL custom card.  Y’see, I like Dallas Renegades’ quarterback Landry Jones from his time with the Steelers, and when I heard that he was the first player signed for the new version of the XFL, well it most definitely caught my attention.

I don’t know why Spring football draws so many haters.  Yes, history is littered with failed Spring leagues (although one could argue that the USFL was murdered… or maybe it was criminally-negligent homicide), and we had a league that failed just last Spring… but is it such a bad thing to give overlooked players a venue to prove their abilities?  I don’t know, I don’t expect to watch a whole lot of the XFL, but I don’t get the venom…

…Except that there are a lot of people out there who are just looking for people, places and things to spit venom at.

110 Yard Line: Vintage Topps Canadian Football League Cards

I was at this show a few weeks ago, and one dealer blew me away by having Canadian Football League cards from the 1960’s. Although I don’t follow the CFL, I’ve had a soft spot for the league since the NFL strike of 1982, when American TV networks showed CFL games to fill the time slots. With the 110-yard field and only 3 downs, the league sucked me in after a short time. I’m still kind of disappointed that the mid-1990’s CFL expansion into the US didn’t work out…. and by the way, the Baltimore Stallions got a raw deal.

We’ll start with this 1960 Topps CFL card of the Montreal Allouettes’ Ed Learn.  According to Wikipedia, Learn was a defensive back/punt returner who played 12 years in the CFL.

When I was going through the cards at the show, I picked out these cards based solely on visual appeal, since I didn’t know any of the players and have no real team loyalty.  This is a nice design, and the halftone action shot is like a precursor to 1968-69 Topps Hockey.  I love the old school helmet that Ed is wearing.

Here’s the back, with a drawing added by some long-forgotten artist. I’ve seen some interesting things added to cards with a ballpoint pen, but this is one of the more intriguing additions.

Next up, 1961 Topps CFL; I really like this look, it reminds me of the Beatles cards which would come a couple of years later. If you can’t read the script at the bottom, it says “Tobin Rote, Argonauts”.  Tobin Rote, cousin of Kyle Rote, was a quarterback for the Packers and Lions in the 1950’s, with the Toronto Argonauts for 3 seasons, and then would move to the AFL with the Chargers and Broncos.

The card back is pretty basic and has one of those “rub a coin over the blank space” magic photo thingies.

Jumping ahead to 1963, here’s John Barrow of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.  John Barrow was an offensive and defensive lineman, played in nine Grey Cup games (the CFL championship) and won four of those.  He’s in the CFL Hall Of Fame and in 2006 was named one of the 50 top CFL players of all time.

Man, I just love that staged running shot.  “We can rebuild him… make him better, faster, stronger…”

This card back has one of those things where you hold red cellophane over the image to get your answer to the question “Who is the new coach of the Tiger-Cats?”… the question on everybody’s lips.

Finally, here’s a card from 1964 Topps CFL.  Joe Poirier won three Grey Cups and was a regular all-star in his twelve seasons in the CFL.

My eye was drawn to that Ottawa Rough Riders logo, although it frankly looks more like it could be the logo for a brand a regional bakery.  I imagine that “OFC” stands for Ottawa Football Club, but I wasn’t able to verify.

Another secret message back, only I have no idea how this one works.

Since I’m sharing CFL cards, I may as well reflect back on some of the ones I’d featured here before.

First off, there’s the 1965 Topps CFL set; this was the first CFL card that swept me off my feet, I really like this design; it’s so colorful and 1960’s without being a riff on anything else from that time.

I liked the set so much that four years ago I used the design for some customs

This 1972 O-Pee-Chee set is just another version of the 1972 Topps NFL set, but 1972 Topps didn’t have a player named Basil who looks like he could be playing with the Moody Blues when he wasn’t playing with the Calgary Stampeders.

Last up is this 1963 Post Cereal CFL card, which I just wanted to get because it’s an oddball card from our neighbors to the North, and what’s not to like about that?

Canadian Football League cards are never going to be a major part of my collection, but at some point I would like to fill in some of the gaps in my type collection.

Dipping Into My Backlog

I had a post planned for today, but while giving it what I thought was a last-minute review I realized that there was a significant section where the text was literally “blah blah blah”… that’s my typical placeholder for text, my Lorem Ipsum.

I knew that if I pushed that post back to tomorrow I’d be in the same situation because I have too much going on after work tonight to sit down and finish a post. And so, I’m pulling from a series of “mini-posts” that I keep on hand for emergencies… Like this one.

I recently stumbled across a mildly interesting bit of information, and hopefully you’ll find it mildly interesting as well… There have been three players with the surname of “Nettles” in Major League Baseball. Your first thought is probably of 6-time All-Star Graig Nettles, or maybe his brother Jim who played in the Majors, AAA, Japan and Mexico from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s.

And then there’s Morris Nettles, who played two years for the Angels before being included in a trade to the White Sox, which resulted in this 1976 Topps Traded card.

Interestingly enough, Nettles never actually played for the White Sox or any other Major League team after 1975. He would spend 1976 in AAA with the Iowa Oaks and the Toledo Mud Hens, and then would spend several more years in the Mexican League. Although Nettles had several cards in 1976 (including O-Pee-Chee and SSPC), this would be his last.

While some of the Topps online exclusive cards are pretty hideous – especially when they sweat and strain and grunt and groan to shoehorn a baseball theme into a completely unrelated vintage non-sport design – they do come up with some nice designs that seem to just be burned off online. This card is from 2017 On Demand, and I’m telling you now I’d rather see this come out of a wax pack than most of what’s been previewed for 2020.

Not long ago I was at a semi-local shop that, these days, specializes in gaming cards, but they still have plenty of sports cards. The owner is a nice guy, so when I go in there for supplies (because they carry plastic sheets beyond the usual 9 pockets), I try to buy something else. In my last trip, part of “something else” was this 1973 Topps Fran Tarkenton card.

I’d recently decided that I should make at least a minor effort to collect Tarkenton, given how he was one of my favorite football players (relatively speaking, anyway) when I was a kid. Truth be told, I can’t remember exactly why he was a favorite; it could have something to do with the fact that I owned his 1974 card that listed him as “ALL-PRO” and that made some sort of impact on me.

This card gives me a run from 1973 to 1975, with a few scattered cards before and after.

And that’s all I’ve got for today. The next post, which should be out here in two days, will more than make up for it in the amount of content.

PHIL! A! DELPHIA! FOOTBALL! I Lo-ho-ho-o-o-o-ove You!

Yes, I do!

So there’s this local card show I bend over backwards to support. This is because, for over a decade, we in Shlabotsylvania didn’t have a show within a 90 minute drive… So now that we’ve got a show that actually *comes back* on a regular basis, I get a little free with my spending…  Relatively speaking, of course, I’m still a cheapskate. I’ve been thinking of somewhat changing my cheapskate tendencies but that’s a topic for an upcoming post.

So anyway, while going through a box at this show I ran across a team bag of eight well-loved cards from 1964 Philadelphia Gum Football. The 1960’s Philadelphia sets have become a recent source of fascination for me, both for their simple but colorful designs and for the non-Topps-ness of the cards. Even though I have no illusions of collecting the sets, I couldn’t resist dropping a couple of bucks on this group.

Of the cards I was looking for from this set, one target had nothing to do with whose card it was, but rather whether there was a Cadillac in the background…

Most of the Cleveland Browns photos in this set have this Cadillac in the background, and the common wisdom is that it’s HOF running back Jim Brown’s Caddy. This background is so much a part of this set’s character that I felt like I had to have one represented in my Football binder.

1964 Philadelphia cards are like 1965 Topps baseball cards in that they the card backs are blue with a prominently-featured cartoon which makes up a visual clue for a trivia question.

Since I don’t want you to strain yourselves in trying to read the upside-down answer, here, as a public service, is the answer to the question “What is John Morrow’s hobby?”

John Morrow was a 2-time Pro Bowler and won a championship with those 1964 Cleveland Browns.

My second-favorite card from the pack is this card of L.A. Rams tackle Frank Varrichione.  These Rams cards are visually appealing with the abundance of primary colors

But I also like the cartoon:

So why was Frank Varrichione called “Faintin’ Frank” at college?

…Is this implying that Frank faked an injury to get a timeout?  Seems like an odd thing to promote on a card.

Frank Varrichione played for the Rams and Steelers, went to Notre Dame, and played in five Pro Bowls.

Final card, this one isn’t visually stimulating on the front…

…But I liked the cartoon…

Gosh, I can’t even guess at the answer to the question of the other sport Lonnie Sanders played in college… if only I had some sort of hint…

Oh, Basketball!!!!  Gosh, I should’ve known that.

The card lists Sanders as a halfback, but Pro Football Reference has him as a cornerback.  In 1965 he had four interceptions which he re turned for a combined 121 yards… but none for a touchdown.

One more thing about the cartoons… I find it interesting that the cartoon version of most players features their actual uniform number, and that the Lonnie Sanders cartoon character has dark skin.  Of course, it helps that the cartoons are large enough that the cartoonist could work in some shading.

When this set came out in the United States, a 17-year-old English musician called Reg Dwight was playing in a band called Bluesology.  Ten years later he would go on to have a bit of success, and would write a song about Billie Jean King’s team in the fledgling World Team Tennis league, the Philadelphia Freedoms.  According to Wikipedia, the song didn’t get released until 1975, after the WTT franchise had moved to Boston.

A Few Customs, All Over The Place

On this particular Sunday morning I have to start with one particular Post(ess)Season custom of one particular player…

As they used to say in Marvel Comics, ‘Nuff Said.

Here’s a little bit of equal time for the upcoming World Series.

I collect Ryan Zimmerman and, to a lesser extent, Sean Doolittle… but sorry guys, I’m pulling for Houston.

The Steelers have a bye week, but I’ll push forward with a Football custom.

I confess… With everything going on this week, I paid very little attention to hockey. However, I did see that Billie Jean King was at a Blackhawks game and scored a goal from mid-ice during a between-periods promotion. The crowd, as they say, went wild…

…and I felt the need to make a custom.

I’m still catching up on my “Scoops” customs, and there damn well better be at least one Mets-related award once the World Series is over.

2019 Post(ess)Season Customs Plus Football And Hockey

So here’s how it happened…

I had this idea of the direction I could take my customs in 2020, and part of it involved a slightly smaller “card size”… Something more like Hostess than a standard-sized card. After a quick review of the five years of Hostess cards, I decided that 1979 Hostess was closest to what I’d had in mind, so I whipped up a template and made up about 8 customs, just to see if it would work the way I thought it might.

I was happy with the way things turned out, so I posted four of them out on Twitter and they were – by my Twitter account’s standards – fairly popular. I guess there’s a pent-up demand for Hostess customs, even ones where the font isn’t quite right.

Part of the experiment was to see how quickly I could turn these things out when the urge strikes. While I’m aesthetically happy with my 2019 TSR custom design, each one takes a while to make and that resulted in my not going as far as I originally intended.

Anyway, I went ahead and continued to make a few to highlight players in the postseason. I’ve got the “original” four from Twitter at the bottom of this post, but here are some new ones using this template:

Because I seem to feel the need to spend too much time on my hobbies, I also created a couple of more football customs to represent today’s Steelers/Chargers game.

Minkah Fitzpatrick was picked up early in the seasons for draft picks… I suspect part of it was to attempt to salvage the season, but the team is currently sitting at 1-4.

I didn’t feel like putting a lot of thought into picking a Charger, so I found an online article about the 100 best players in the NFL and chose the top-rated Charger. Unsurprisingly, it’s Philip Rivers.

I really don’t intend to feature as many quarterbacks as I have so far, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

Moving on to hockey, because, as I’ve said, I apparently can’t rein myself in on these things…

Mika Zibanejad recently scored a hat trick for the Rangers, and I saw an article on – I think – the Hockey News that referred to him as being on the verge of stardom. Interesting. He was also the first “Star Of The Week” of the NHL season and the second player in Rangers history to get 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) over the first two games of the season.

Mika was born in Sweden to a Finnish mother and Iranian father, is an EDM DJ and speaks Swedish, Farsi, English and Finnish.

The other featured hockey player is the Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw. Shaw was obtained from the Canadiens during the offseason and was selected somewhat arbitrarily for this custom (I picked one of the Blackhawks’ +/- leaders).

To wrap things up, here are the four images I’d shared on Twitter this past week.

Custom Sunday, 9/29/2019

Three customs today, plus a small request to help me with my plans for the upcoming NHL season… more on this at the end.

The Steelers are playing the Bengals on Monday night, so for one of my 1973 Topps-inspired football customs, I’m featuring wide receiver A.J. Green, the current AFC Offensive Player of the Week. Green had a career-high 227 receiving yards and two touchdowns; both came in the 4th quarter and helped the Bengals beat the Ravens.

If I’m ever looking for ideas of who to make a football custom for, I might just go with “Who helped their team to beat the Ravens?”

JuJu Smith-Schuster was one of the better Steelers in the loss to the 49ers, mainly for his 76-yard TD reception to put the Steelers ahead in the 3rd quarter.

I’m still catching up on my Baseball Scoops customs; here’s one from July, when the Orioles’ bench player Stevie Wilkerson pitched a 1-2-3 16th inning to get the save against the Angels. The Save has been an official stat since 1969, and this was the first time a position played had gotten one.

It pains me slightly that I neglected to include a hyphen between “First” and “Ever”.

At the rate I’m going, you’ll still be seeing these Scoops customs well after the World Series is over.

OK, now on to my NHL request. Back in 2004 when the league lost an entire season to a labor dispute, I walked away from the league and I’m only now considering giving it another shot… The thing is, I no longer have a team because my “ex”, the Washington Capitals, left me. I’m speaking figuratively, of course; I didn’t like the direction they moved in during the 1990’s, and I’m not a fan of where they are now.

If I’m going to give the NHL another shot, it would help to have a team and I’m too indecisive to pick one myself. What I did instead was make a list of 16 teams and started a tournament on Twitter.

We’re in the Elite Eight right now; the Final Four begins Monday morning and the final vote starts Tuesday morning.

If you’re on Twitter and would like to join in on the voting, you can check it out here or you can search on #ShlabotnikNHL2020.

As of right now, I’m thinking that there will be customs involved. :-)


Drowning My Sorrows In 1960’s Post

So, it turns out there’s a significant difference between “I don’t think the Mets really have a chance” and “The Mets have been mathematically eliminated from the postseason”.

Wednesday was a very “sigh” day to begin with, and Major League Baseball saw to it that things didn’t get any better for me.

I had several posts in mind that I’d intended to be writing, but instead I decided to go with what just felt like fun… and today that’s a sampling of some Post cereal cards that I picked up at recent shows.  Post cards are a relatively recent thing for me… They kinda flew under my radar for years, and I recently discovered “Hey, these things are FUN!”

…Especially if, like me, you’re not particularly concerned with condition.  If badly-cut edges and handwriting samples are not an issue for you, then HOFers can be affordable.

I see these cards as having character.  Unlike a mint Topps card which might have been sitting in an unopened pack for 50 years, there’s no questioning that these cards were part of some kid’s collection.

I couldn’t pass this next card by… Aside from the fact that it features Ed “The Glider” Charles from his days with the KC Athletics, some kid (for reasons unknown) wrote “TOPPS” on it.

Did someone think that they were going to fool some potential trading buddy that this was a Topps card of Ed Charles?  The world may never know.

The original Washington Senators packed up their bats and gloves and moved to the Twin Cities for the 1961 season, it wasn’t a given that they would call themselves “Minnesota”… I read somewhere that the original intent was to call them the “Twin Cities Twins”, which is why the hats have the “TC” logo on them.

…But there was a certain amount of uncertainty about the team’s name after the move, and the cards of the 1961 Post Twins have two versions;  the rarer has the correct “Minnesota” listed as the team’s home, but the more common versions say “Minneapolis”.

I actually didn’t think about any of this until after I had the card.. I bought the card because of a small desire to start a Reno Bertoia collection, for reasons I don’t want to get into now (It’s more about happenstance than any real connection I have with Bertoia).

Here’s a lovely 1961 Post card of Marv Throneberry.

I probably should have included this card when I featured Marvelous Marv in my first “1961 Mets” post, but I frankly had forgotten that I’d acquired this card… I bought just enough of these to have lost track of which particular cards I’d bought.

Without meaning to, I managed to get a complete run of Post cards for slugger Jim Gentile who’s a member of the Orioles Hall Of Fame. Gentile was an All-Star in each of his first three seasons (1960 – 1962).

In 1961 his 46 homers got him a 3rd place tie in the Majors; he was tied with Orlando Cepeda and Harmon Killebrew, and finished behind Mickey Mantle (54) and Roger Maris (61, of course). Gentile finished 2nd in the Majors in RBI’s as well; he and Maris had 141, and Cepeda had 142.

Here’s a fun thing I’d not been aware of: all three of the players who got 1960 A.L. Rookie of the Year votes were Orioles: Winner Ron Hansen got 22 votes, while Gentile and pitcher Chuck Estrada both got 1 vote. I wonder who the sportswriter from Baltimore voted for. Gentile’s batting stats are largely better than Hansen’s, which leads me to believe that Hansen got the votes because he was a shortstop and must’ve been smooth with a glove.

I’m going to wrap up with my first Post *Football* card. Punter/Halfback Bobby Joe Green played for the Steelers in 1960 and 1961, was traded to the Bears and made the Pro Bowl after the 1970 season. Since Green rushed for all of 7 yards in 1970, I’m guessing he made the Pro Bowl as a punter.

This card seems to be considered to be a “pre-rookie” card, I’m guessing because it preceeded Green’s first card which came in packs (1965 Philadelphia).

And that’s all the Post cards I have for now (but not all of the ones I recently bought). Gotta admit, I feel a little better now.

Custom Sunday: More Scoops, More Football

Just a few scattershot customs today…

First off, I’m continuing to catch up on the “Scoops” for this season. I’d like to do this again in 2020, but I need to find a way to streamline my processes so I can do a better job of keeping up.

Since they got a good response and I enjoy doing them, I’m also going to try to keep up on these Football customs (based on 1973 Topps Football). Last week I featured Ben Roethlisberger and I admitted that I was tired of him, but now he’s out for the season after elbow surgery, so the Steelers’ starting quarterback from here on out is 2nd year pro Mason Rudolph. Rudolph looked pretty good from what I saw of last week’s game, so we’ll see how he does today against the 49ers.

I don’t want to make this custom set be all about my Steelers, so I’m thinking up ways of featuring players from other teams. This time around I’m featuring the Steelers opponents from San Francisco. George Kittle set a record last season for receiving yards by a tight end.

I might come up with other ways to pick players to feature… Each conference names an offensive, defensive and special teams player of the week, so if nothing else I’ve got six topical names to pick from.

I’ll also take requests… but with all of these, a lot depends on whether I can find decent images to work with.

One last custom, this time I’m reviving my original “Fauxback” template to feature a WNBA player who caught my eye when I happened to see a few minutes of a WNBA game a few weeks ago.

Diamond DeShields is a guard with the Chicago Sky, and if you’re asking “Is she?”, the answer is “Yes, she is”.

DeShields and the Sky got into the second round of the WNBA playoffs before losing to the Las Vegas Aces. He father is former Major Leaguer Delino DeShields and her brother is, of course, Texas Ranger outfielder Delino DeShields Jr.

So that’s it for this week’s customs. As a sort of bad tease, I’ll just mention that at this point I have little idea of what customs will be featured next week.