Subverted Homework Assignment: My Top 25 Cardboard “Values”

I’m not talking about values like you’d find in a copy of Beckett, but a different kind of values…

Recently at work we were invited to (read: “expected to attend”) a meeting which gave an overview of a new “financial wellness” benefit we have. To my surprise, the meeting was interesting and gave us some things to think about, along with some homework we could do if we wanted to move forward with the program.

One of these assignments seemed interesting enough for the intended purpose: Write down 25 values you hold and then when you’ve finished, compare those values against how you spend your money.  By making the list 25 deep one has to get past the obvious stuff and give it some thought and consideration, and by comparing it against your spending habits you can get a better feel for whether you put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

I don’t mean to slight this task, but it occurred to me that it could be fun to apply it to our hobby:  What makes a card something I want and would value?

To make it a little more value-ish and less want list-y, I decided to leave out anything about cards which feature particular players, teams or sets.  I thought listing 25 things would be a challenge, but once I started rolling it got easier.

…And so, more or less in the order they popped into my head:

1 – Cards which feature cameo appearances of teams/players I collect…. This card of Glen Sharpley features Dennis Maruk and his awesome Fu Manchu, but nearly any 1970’s Capital would’ve done the trick.

2 – Goofy poses and/or situations

3 – Original Yankee Stadium;  it’s funny how a lifelong Mets fan can be fascinated by the original home of a team I regard with the utmost of disdain, but I just love seeing The House That Ruth Built in the background… and it doesn’t need to be a baseball card.

4 – Appealing uniforms from before I became a fan

5 – Cars and trucks and trains and planes and spaceships (I would say “machines which move”, except I’m not a boat/ship person for some reason)

6 – The Third Dimension (or a reasonable facsimile thereof)

7 – A colorful “less-is-more” design; Panini designers (who tend to overdo things) should take note that 1975 baseball’s design is classic, but is essentially two slabs of color, a drop-shadow team name and a little baseball icon.

8 – Photography in the artistic sense

9 – A player with a great name

10 – A player with memorable features

11 – Goofy cartoons

12 – Well-done paintings

13 – “International Delight”;  it started with Japanese baseball cards, but now I find myself fascinated with cards from many countries featuring many sports.

14 – What I liked as an 11-year-old;  And if you don’t like this card, then “Up your nose with a rubber hose!  Twice as far with a chocolate bar!”

15 – Cards featuring teams which were brand new at the time

16 – Cards featuring short-lived teams…  especially my beloved Seattle Pilots

17 – Oversized cards

18 – Cards Mrs. Shlabotnik will enjoy; Usually that’s Cal Ripken or Brian Roberts, her two favorite players, but it can also mean cards representing the Beatles, The Monkees or R.E.M.

19 – Cards used for baseball simulation games (even though I rarely use them for their intended gaming purposes)

20 – Players in unfamiliar uniforms (and, in this case, with unfamiliar haircuts)

21 – Vintage cards featuring players who would go on to become the managers of my formative years

22 – Anything involving the sport of Curling

23 – Players I saw as minor leaguers or in college

24 – Teams which existed when I was a kid, but no longer do

25 – 1970’s action shots

I could go on, but I think 25 is more than enough.

…But before I go…

I would like to thank each and every one of you for reading and commenting and generally being my card-collecting buddies — something I didn’t really have between my pre-teen years and my starting this blog. Today is the SIXTH anniversary of The Shlabotnik Report, and I just want you to know I appreciate all of you for making it so much fun. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, EVERYBODY!


Four Steelers From 1964 Philadelphia Football

In observance of the start of the NFL season, I decided to share four recently-acquired Steelers cards from the 1964 Philadelphia Gum NFL set. I can’t tell you much about the four-year run of Philadelphia as the official trading card of the NFL, other than that I really like the “less is more” design used for each of the four years, and I particularly like the large cartoons on the back of the 1964 cards… so I’m featuring the fronts and the backs of today’s cards.

One thing I find interesting about the cartoons is that even though the drawings are not true caricatures, the “cartoon players” are in Steelers uniforms and wearing the number worn by the featured player.

Lou Michaels was a kicker AND a defensive lineman for the Steelers.  Gotta love that.  CommishBob might not love Lou Michaels because he – Lou, not Bob – missed two field goals in the Colts’ loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III.

Myron Pottios played for the Steelers, Rams & Redskins and was named to three Pro Bowls.

Gary Ballman’s 2949 receiving yards as a Steeler still ranks 17th on the all-time Steeler list (above Dwight Stone, Franco Harris and Antwaan Randle El, among others)

Mike Sandusky was an All-American in both Football and Wrestling.  He played 9 years for the Steelers and made one Pro Bowl.

I”m not really sure what’s going on in this cartoon…  Is that supposed to be a military draft physical? What’s with the woman? Is she a nurse? I feel like I’m missing some sort of cultural shorthand here… or that they changed the trivia question after the cartoonist was done.

A Bunch Of 1970’s, Both Baseball And Football

I’ve not the time, energy nor inspiration to do anything involved today, so I’m just going to share a small number of baseball and football cards from 1970, all of which came from the show I went to in July.

Whether or not I’m working on the 1970 Topps set – perpetually accumulating, never committing – I cannot resist the siren call of the All-Star Rookie Trophy.

FWIW, this card is mis-scanned, not miscut.

Felix Millan was a Met when I was first a baseball fan, and my friends and I would choking up on our Wiffle Bats, imitating the very thing Felix shows us here.

This 7th Series card has been something of a white whale for me

Here’s a front and back view of a 1970 Spider Lockhart.  I never set out to collect Lockhart, but I get his cards whenever I run across them because when I was a kid I thought Spider Lockhart was one of the coolest names in the league.  For any would-be Spider collectors, his non-Topps cards (Philadelphia, Kellogg’s, Sunoco) list him by his given name (Carl).

I’m including this Gary Ross card to bring attention to the cool Padres stirrups, which don’t appear on cards very often.

With the acquisition of this Grant Jackson card, I’ve officially completed Series 1 of 1970 Topps. Yay, me.

Here’s one for my Steelers collection. Ben McGee was a defensive lineman for the Steelers from 1964 to 1972… so he got into two playoff games in 1972. He also returned an interception for a touchdown in 1967.

Wrapping up with a 7th Series Larry Haney. Haney was an original Seattle Pilot in 1969, but was traded to Oakland that June.

I’m sure this has been addressed somewhere, but Haney seems to have suited up for this photo with whatever is available.  He’s got Gene Tenace’s glove, the cap is one they stopped using after 1969 – in 1970 the cap had a yellow bill and “A’s” instead of “A” – and if I’m not mistaken, the sleeveless “OAKLAND” jersey was only worn in 1968, so Haney should never have worn it.  Maybe this is 1970 spring training and the players wore older uniforms.

Big Men On Big Cards: Five From 1970 Topps Super Football

Much like the Red Man Tobacco cards I shared last week, at the show I recently attended I ran across a small stack of five 1970 Topps Super Football cards. For those who aren’t familiar with the baseball and football “Super” cards of the early 1970’s, they’re 3.125″ x 5.25″ and very thick. I’m not a huge football collector, but I love oversized cards and I fell in love with this set a couple of years ago when I got a couple of these in a large box of loose cards I’d bought.

I saw one card from my wantlist – the one I’m leading off with in this post – and asked the dealer how much he wanted for these cards. He said “$1 each” so I handed him a $5 bill and took them all.

I’ve been a Steelers fan since the 1980’s, so the one card from this set that I flagged as a “want” was the lone Steeler in the set, wide receiver Roy Jefferson.  Jefferson had over 1,000 receiving yards in both 1968 and 1969 and was named to three Pro Bowls.

You might think it strange that the Steelers would be represented by only one card, but you should know that the Steelers were a bad team through much of the 1960’s, and in 1970 were coming off of a 1-13 season… so one card is honestly all they deserved. As it is, Roy Jefferson didn’t even play for the Black ‘N Gold in 1970, he was with the Baltimore Colts.

For those who aren’t familiar with these cards, here’s the back of Jefferson’s card.

It’s largely the same as the back of Jefferson’s regular 1970 card, but the aspect ratio is a bit different.

Christian Adolph “Sonny” Jurgensen was a HOF quarterback with the Eagles and Redskins. He lead the league in passing yards five times.

The back of the card says that in 1967 Sonny set NFL records in attempts, completions and yardage.  The season was 14 games back then, so it’s not surprising that these records no longer stand, but how high do you think those seasons rank overall?  Top 10?  Top 50?  Top 100?  How about none of Sonny’s three records being in the top 200 now.  This is why I have little patience for “This record will never be broken” or “We’ll never have a 30 game winner again”.  Things change.  Back in the 1980’s I enjoyed the Canadian Football League because it had more passing.  Now I yell at Ben Roethlisberger on my TV telling him to run the freakin’ ball and that he doesn’t have to win the game all by his damn self.


Getting back to Sonny Jurgensen’s card, I liked the cartoon so I include it here.

This next card saw Calvin Hill coming off of a rookie season where he rushed for 942 yards. He was named to four Pro Bowls and also played for the Redskins and Browns.

Calvin Hill went to Yale and was second in the NFL in rushing in 1969.  Before I throw out more numbers I should point out that 1969 the AFL was in its last season as a separate league… I forgot that myself until I started researching some of these players.

Danny Abramowicz had a career year in 1969, leading the league with 73 receptions and getting 1015 receiving yards. He’d never quite match those numbers again, but he had a very good 7 year career.

Remember what I said about “Big Men” in the subject line? That doesn’t really apply to Dick Post, who is 5″9″ and lead the AFL with 873 rushing yards in 1969.  The back of this card describes him as “the most spectacular little man who’s playing regularly in pro football today”.  Um… OK.  I’m 5’8″ and I’m not sure how I’d react to being called a “spectacular little man”.

It *is* interesting that the photographer captured him from a low angle, though.

Dick Post – no, he’s not related to Dick Pole or Lance Johnson – also had a cartoon that I liked.

Weigh-In #56: It’s The Most Fattening Time Of The Year…

The same thing happens every year around this time… You’re in the store, and you see all kinds of new stuff that looks like you might enjoy it, so you try a little bit of this and a little bit of that, sampling something every time you go to the store until the next thing you know, you’ve got this extra flab that you just can’t shake and you wonder “How the heck did I get to this point?”

Oh… did you think I was talking about something other than my collection?  New product comes out, and it’s try a hanger of this, a blaster of that, a few packs here and there, and before you know it there’s a couple of tall stacks sitting on your desk that seem to have come out of nowhere.

So I’m a couple of weeks late for my quarterly weigh-in, but the general idea of it is to post my collection’s status to see if I’m making any progress in my quest to get rid of the dead weight, the stuff I look at and think “Why do I still have that?”

Before I get into that, I’m going to touch on some of the pseudo-goals I’d set for 2017, and how it’s working out for me.

Keeping a box of recent acquisitions in my car:

This was a solution to two problems. Problem #1 is that I impulse-buy too many cards. Problem #2 was that I don’t spend any “quality time” with a lot of the cards I buy, they just pile up on my desk. The solution was taking the cards in questions (nothing vintage or valuable, of course) and keep them in a box in my car so that I can thumb through them when I’m having a crappy day at work and the urge to buy cards comes at me. Having the box on hand has worked out pretty well, because there were many days when taking a “cigarette break” in my car and going through the cards would take the steam out of the pack-buying urges.

Making 1990’s Frankensets and getting rid of the resulting unwanted cards:

One of the ways I’m combating bloat in my collection is by creating Frankensets for particular years in the 1990’s, organized by team and player. By organizing my cards this way, I can find out when I’ve got more cards of a player than I really want or need, and I can feel comfortable getting rid of those extra 1992 cards of Roger Clemens because I’ll still have at least one nicer card to represent that jerk – I mean, Roger – for 1992.

I had thought I would go for the low-hanging fruit and make a 1995 Frankenset, given that I consider 1995 the worst overall year from my 40+ years in the hobby. The problem is that the fruit was hanging a little too low; Because I don’t like 1995, I didn’t have all that many 1995 cards in the first place, and there wasn’t much “body fat” to shed.

So, for 2Q 2017, I’ll be a little more scientific about it and work on the year for which I have the most cards. I ran a query on my database, which I’ll now show you in graphical form:

This is my collection in terms of cards per year, from 1968 to 2017.  Those tall red bars in the middle are 1990 and 1991, the beer belly of my collection.  Do I really need 3,800 cards just from 1990?  I think it’s time to work on my core.

BTW, the black bar is 1995, the “low-hanging fruit” I talked about.

OK, on to the “Weigh-in” part. To remind everybody of what these are about… Much like weight-loss programs will have you weigh-in on a regular basis to keep track of your progress, I find that posting updates on the organizing and streamlining of my collection helps me in a number of ways. It gives me an opportunity to look at the big picture, and helps with both motivation (if I do well) and guilt (if I don’t).

To add to the visual appeal of something which isn’t the most exciting information, I’ve included a number of cards I’ve been meaning to post.

First I’m going to document the changes since the last Weigh-in on January 2nd:

Net change in the collection: +587 (591 added, 4 purged)

Net change to the # of cards in the house: +1,117 (1,163 in, 46 out)

It’s amazing how this stuff builds up.  While I did buy a wax box of 2004 Topps Total, that was only 360 cards.  The other 757 cards came into the house in bits and pieces –  a blaster here,  a repack there… before you know it, you’ve acquired 1117 cards in just over 3 months.

Next, the totals since I started tracking this stuff on 10/16/2011.

Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 12,139

Net change to the collection, to date: +840

Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 48,905

Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -25,646

Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 55,419

Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 16,890

…which means I’ve got at least 72,309 cards in my collection


And Another One Gone And Another One Gone…

The Las Vegas Raiders.


It’s not like I’m a fan of the Raiders or have even been to Oakland, but…


I do understand that there are other factors involved than just uprooting a team.  I realize that Coliseum is among the worst stadiums in the country, that the team’s attendance figures are down at the bottom of the league (although not exactly “drawing flies” at 50,000+ per game) and that the Raiders had left Oakland before.

But to be honest, if it were just the Las Vegas Raiders, I wouldn’t be all that upset about it… but it’s the Las Vegas Raiders on top of the Los Angeles Chargers on top of the Los Angeles Rams.

It’s about Los Angeles having the Rams and the Chargers when it’s debatable how much they really want either.  It’s about the Chargers paying more for a relocation fee than they seemed willing to contribute to a stadium in San Diego.

It’s about having this kind of relocation going on when the league is far from struggling.  We’re not talking 1970’s hockey or basketball where some teams were not meeting payroll.

It’s about a league where decisions are based on how many hundreds of millions, how many billions of dollars are involved.

It’s about a league where you know that, before terribly long, teams like the Jaguars and Bills will threaten to move to St. Louis or San Diego.

Maybe I’ll feel different about it next fall, but right now being a fan of the NFL feels a lot like being a fan of Amazon or Google… Just another huge corporation bent on world domination.


Remembrance Of Things Past

The San Diego Chargers are no more.
It was announced yesterday that the Chargers will be moving to Los Angeles for the 2017 season and will share a $2 kajillion stadium with the Rams starting in 2019.  Pardon me while I shake my head, but I’ve seen this movie before.  Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s the Rams shared LA with the Raiders, and the story ended with both teams leaving town.  Whatever happened to all the talk of “LA doesn’t support football”?  Don’t answer that, I know the answer.

Given that I never really stopped thinking of the Rams as the Los Angeles Rams, I began pondering other teams from my youth which are no longer with us…

…And I said “I’ll bet there’s a post in there!”

The 1970’s were a pretty… um… dynamic time with regard to franchises, so for the following exercise in nostalgia I’m going to use 1977 as a “baseline”, as that was the first year I collected hockey (and had already been collecting baseball and football).  It was also, of course, 40 years ago.

I never collected basketball, but I won’t leave them out of the discussion.


Baltimore Colts (moved to Indianapolis)

Houston Oilers (moved to Nashville; currently the Tennessee Titans)

St. Louis Cardinals (moved to Phoenix)

San Diego Chargers (moved to Los Angeles)

Prodigal Sons:  A year ago I would’ve included the Los Angeles Rams on this list.  25 years ago, I would’ve included the Oakland Raiders.

Biggest travesty of justice:  Baltimore Colts (Right, CommishBob?)  This is one of those textbook examples of a community which supported their team in every way that mattered with the sole exception of ponying up for a new stadium.

1977 NFL team I miss for other reasons:  I’ll go with the Oilers, since they’re the only one that actually changed names.


Atlanta Flames (moved to Calgary)

Cleveland Barons (merged with Minnesota North Stars)

Colorado Rockies (moved to New Jersey; now the Devils)

Minnesota North Stars (moved to Dallas; now the Stars)

Biggest travesty of justice and the team I miss the most:  No question about this, it’s the North Stars on both counts.  I’ve always been fond of the North Stars logo and colors, the Barons and Rockies didn’t last much longer than 1977, and it’s hard to feel sorry for Atlanta when they’ve now lost two NHL teams.


Birmingham Bulls (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Cincinnati Stingers (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Indianapolis Racers (folded)

New England Whalers (moved to Raleigh, NC; now the Carolina Hurricanes)

Houston Aeros (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Quebec Nordiques (moved to Denver; now the Colorado Avalanche)

Winnipeg Jets (the original Jets moved to Phoenix and are now the Coyotes).

Biggest travesty of justice:  So many to chose from…  Any Canadian city the size of Quebec *should* have a hockey team.  Hartford and Houston both had solid fan bases… as did Winnipeg, but their team has since been replaced.

1977 WHA team I miss for other reasons:  I collect the Stingers… ‘Nuff said.

I tried following basketball as a kid, but despite giving it the ol’ college try I just couldn’t get into it… but that doesn’t mean I should leave hoops out of this discussion.

Buffalo Braves (moved to San Diego;  now the L.A. Clippers)
1974-75 Topps Basketball Garfield Heard

Kansas City Kings (moved to Sacramento)

New Jersey Nets (moved to Brooklyn)

New Orleans Jazz (moved to Salt Lake City)

Seattle SuperSonics (moved to Oklahoma City;  now the Thunder)

Honorary mention:  Washington Bullets (Same team, same city, different name)
1980-81 Topps Basketball Bullets Pin Up

Biggest travesty of justice:  Easy peasy… Seattle should never have had the Sonics taken away from them.

1977 NBA team I miss for other reasons:  I’ll say the New Orleans Jazz, partly because I did kinda like “Pistol Pete” Maravich (for reasons I don’t remember), but mainly because even as a 14-year-old kid I thought that “Utah Jazz” was a freakin’ stupid name.


Montreal Expos (moved to Washington)


Given the franchise stability of MLB over the past 40 years, it all comes down to the Expos.

Same place, different name:  California Angels

Travesty of justice and MLB team I miss the most:  Les Expos, naturellement!

So what teams from your own youth do you miss?  If you’re older than I am, it might be the Kansas City Athletics, California Golden Seals or Cincinnati Royals.  If you’re younger than I am, it might be the Vancouver Grizzlies, Atlanta Thrashers or maybe the USFL’s Los Angeles Express .