Congrats To The Capitals, The Hockey Equivalent Of “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

I collect the Washington Capitals from their inception in 1974 up to roughly the mid 1990’s.

I was an enthusiastic Capitals fan during that period, but that was before my fandom suffered a death by a thousand cuts.

An ongoing series of changes in the late 1980’s and through the 1990’s left me feeling “this isn’t who I fell in love with”. They frustrated me, they angered me, they sometimes embarrassed me…

Players I didn’t like moved in…

…While my favorite players moved on…

It’s almost like they were trying to push me away, and it got to the point where I felt like I didn’t recognize my team anymore. 

After they changed to these horrendous uniforms, I *literally* didn’t recognize my team anymore.

My crazy ex-girlfriend of a team has not been part of my life for years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be happy for them.

Congratulations, Capitals. Call me when Ovechkin moves on, maybe we can get together for coffee or something.

…And keep on photobombin’.

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Forgotten Franchises: The NHL’s Cleveland Barons

Aside for providing me with a fun project, one thing my Dead Parrot Frankenset has done for me is make me realize how many of the teams I’m collecting have not been the subject of one of my “Forgotten Franchises” posts… so it’s time to rectify that, one team at a time.

The Cleveland Barons lasted just two seasons from 1976 to 1978 and was the only NHL team to ever call Cleveland home (although there had been a couple of prior attempts to being the NHL to Cleveland).

The Barons’ story in begins in Oakland with the California Seals; if you read my Forgotten Franchises post on the Seals, you’ll know that the 1967 expansion team struggled for wins and attendance throughout their existence and had been rumored, at various times, to be moving to Vancouver, Buffalo, Washington DC, Indianapolis, Denver and Seattle. Minority owners George and Gordon Gund were able to convince the rest of ownership to move the team to Cleveland in 1976, just a couple of months before the season began. The team adopted the name of a successful former American Hockey League team.

Given the timing of the move, the Barons didn’t have time to do much marketing before taking the ice, and the attendance suffered for that. Although they had a new arena in the Richfield Coliseum, it wasn’t located in Cleveland but rather between Cleveland and Akron. This non-urban location also caused attendance problems for the team.

On the ice, the team was awful, going 47-87-26 over two seasons and missing the playoffs both years. During the second season, the financial situation became so dire that players went unpaid for weeks, and there had been talk of the team folding mid-season.

After that second season, it was determined that the team would cease operations in some form. The Minnesota North Stars were also close to insolvency so the idea was pitched of having the Barons and Minnesota North Stars combine their organizations, making the argument to the league that one team folding might look bad, but it was better than two teams going under. The combined team would be under the ownership of the Gund brothers, who had already taken majority ownership of the Barons, and would maintain the North Stars identity and home ice. To maintain divisional balance, the team would assume the Barons’ spot in the Adams division.

In case you were curious, the combined teams were still terrible in 1978-79, finishing 4th and missing the playoffs. The North Stars had more success in 1979-80, finishing with a 36-28-16 record which was good for 3rd place in the now-five-team Adams division (the Nordiques were added after the WHA merger). The North Stars beat the Maple Leafs and Canadiens before losing to the Flyers in the semi-finals.

Cleveland Barons in Topps and O-Pee-Chee sets
Although the Barons existed for two years, they appeared on Topps cards only for their second season. This was because the move to Cleveland happened too late for Topps to make the appropriate changes for the 1976-77 set. O-Pee-Chee was able to handle it better – somewhat – due to their later release date.

To illustrate, I’ll use the cards for Dennis Maruk, the Baron’s representative at the 1978 All-Star Game and the team’s leading scorer for both seasons.

1976-77
When Topps created the 1976-77 hockey set, the team in question was still the California Golden Seals.

O-Pee-Chee had time to change the team name and update the logo; I don’t have an OPC Maruk, but to give you the general idea, here’s the top of another OPC Barons card.

For those players who are still shown wearing a Seals uniform (as opposed to being airbrushed from some other team’s uniform), there’s the typical OPC “Team transferred to Cleveland” text. OPC left the Seals team card alone, so it’s the only Seals card in that set.

1977-78
This is the one Topps set where you get to see the Barons’ uniforms… well, not so much on Dennis Maruk’s card, but there are others in this post.

It’s also only set with a Barons team card.

1978-79
Because the merging of the Barons into the North Stars came early enough for the 1978 set, Topps Airbrushed several Barons into North Stars uniforms.  Maruk played just 2 games for the North Stars in 1978 before being traded to the Capitals, but he would get traded back to Minnesota in 1983.

A number of players where weren’t in Topps but were in O-Pee-Chee are shown in their Barons uniforms (Al MacAdam and John Baby, both listed with the North Stars; Dave Gardner with the Kings).

O-Pee-Chee, known for using older photos with a superimposed “NOW WITH…” text to make it all better, would use continue to use Barons photos after the team was just a memory, like in the 1979/80 set.

Key Players (other than Dennis Maruk):

Al MacAdam was second in team scoring and was the Baron’s representative at the 1977 All-Star game; he would go on to win the Masterson Trophy (Perseverance and Sportsmanship) with the North Stars in 1979/80.

Wikipedia lists Bob Stewart and former Rangers All-Star Jim Neilsen as the team’s co-captains; indeed, the above team card shows two different players wearing the captains’ “C”.

Defenseman Mike Christie was, by far, the teams’s plus/minus leader in 1976 with a +19 rating. By comparison, the following season saw four players tie for the best plus/minus with a 0 rating – the team as a whole gave up 95 more goals than it scored. Christie was, on paper, the first player born in Texas to play in the NHL, but it was a technicality – he was raised in Canada.

Gilles Meloche was the starting goalie for both seasons in Cleveland, and would have a long career with the Seals, Barons, North Stars, Penguins and Black Hawks.

Rick Hampton was the 3rd overall draft pick in 1974 (after Greg Joly and Wilf Paiement) and was in the NHL at the age of 18.

Update:  Charlie Simmer played 24 games for the Barons in the 1976/77 season.  With the Kings in 1979/80 he would lead the league in goals (56) and power-play goals (21).  Thanks to Mike Matson of Not Another Baseball Card Blog for pointing out my oversight.

Others of note: Dave Gardner, Wayne Merrick, J.P. Parise, Jean Potvin

A Shoebox Legend PWE Of Baseball And “Dead Parrots”

So I’ve had a long week… Nobody cares about the details, but it’s just been a drawn-out, tiring week on a number of fronts.

What does matter within the scope of this blog is that when I came home at the end of the longest day of the week, I found a PWE in my mailbox from Shoebox Legends. Finding a PWE in your mailbox is always a good thing.

Aside from the usual fun mix of baseball and hockey, the PWE also contained the first new additions to my new Dead Parrot Frankenset, which I’ll leave for the end of this post.

First off was a 2018 Heritage card of Noah Syndergaard… I don’t know where the Mets would be in 2018 without Thor and Jacob deGrom… well, other than looking up even further at the Braves, Phils and Nats.

But that’s still better than can be said of the Orioles, who are reportedly listening to offers for Manny Machado… Like I always say, we stink with you, we can stink without you.

…But it makes one long for the days of the Ripkens. Here’s a new addition to my semi-passive Cal Ripken collection which stands at… um… somewhere in the hundreds. Don’t really know.

This is from the 2005 Upper Deck All-Star Classics set, one I’m not sure I’m familiar with.

I, for one, miss having cards with photos like this one of Bill Ripken with a big freakin’ telephoto lens.

For all the talk of 1989 Upper Deck being a “classic” set, I really prefer 1992 and 1993 UD… especially 1993.

I didn’t become an O’s fan until the mid-to-late 1990’s, so Earl Weaver was before my time in an Orioles sense, but I’ve been a baseball fan long enough to be familiar with him as a manager. This is from last year’s Archives set, BTW.

I’m mildly intrigued by the funky-looking stands behind Earl. I wonder if that’s a Spring Training ballpark… does anybody recognize that?

Update: CommishBob informs me that this is the long-time spring home of the Orioles, Miami Stadium. Thanks, Bob!

I miss Melvin Mora and his walk-up music (Celia Cruz’ “La Vida Es Un Carnaval”) and his quintuplets.

“Derek Jeter says…” I’ll tell you what Derek Jeter says, he says “How the hell did Alex Rodriguez come to have a more positive image than I do?”

That does it for the baseball, but there’s a couple of hockey cards to feature before we get to the Dead Parrots…

Joe Juneau was on the only prior Capitals team to make the Stanley Cup finals in 1998… it’s a pity that they had those awful blue black and bronze uniforms at the time… and it’s unfortunate that Juneau’s face is covered by the text on the protective coating.  Is it safe to remove that film 20 years later, or will it pull the rest of the card with it?

I find it interesting that the Capitals make it to the finals 20 years after the first time.  For the record, 20 years before they were swept by the Red Wings in the 1998 finals, the Capitals were at home after a 17-49-14 season.  They really sucked back then.

There was also a card for my casual chase of the 1978-79 Topps Hockey Set… Doug Jarvis is shown with Les Habitants, but he’ll always be a Capital in my heart.

The PWE also included several cards which are my first new additions to my Dead Parrot project;  For those who missed the earlier posts, this is a FrankenSet numbered from 1 to 396 of cards featuring hockey teams which are no more, which have ceased to be.

First up in slot #27 is a 1972-73 Topps Keith McCreary card which takes over an empty slot.

McCreary is shown in an airbrushed Penguins uniform, but the card identifies him with the Atlanta Flames.  He was taken from the Penguins in the expansion draft and would become the Flames’ first captain.  Interestingly enough, the Penguins had drafted McCreary from the Canadiens in the 1967 expansion draft.

And, in a quirk of card numbering, slot #25 in my Frankenset is already taken by a very-well-loved 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee card of McCreary in his Flames uni.

With McCreary taking the bottom two corners on the third page, I’m tempted to keep them in place… well, I’m thinking I’ll have to upgrade that OPC card.

Next up for card #55 is this awesome 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee WHA card of New England Whaler Tom Webster

Webster is possibly best known these days for coaching the LA Kings for a couple of seasons, although he did also coach the Rangers briefly.

I have, on occasion, thought about completing the 1977-78 OPC WHA set because it’s small (66 cards) and largely affordable, but at this point I’m thinking I might just chase down most of the cards for this project… except, perhaps, for the Edmonton Oilers, the one WHA team which is *not* a ‘Dead Parrot’.

Webster did not go into the binder unopposed;  the slot was previously occupied by this 1981-82 Topps North Stars leaders card featuring Minnesota scoring leader Bobby Smith.

The combined might of the various North Stars leaders were not enough to keep them from being evicted from slot #55.

This next card becomes the shiniest Dead Parrot in my binder as the Nordiques’ Rene Corbet takes over an empty slot #97

This is from 1994/95 Topps Finest, and 1994/95 was the last season for the Nords before they moved to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche. Aside from the Nordiques and Avalanche, Corbet would also play for the Penguins and Calgary Flames.

Last up is #112, which features new addition Gordie Roberts from the 1980/81 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set. Unlike it’s Topps counterpart, OPC did not feature the asinine “scratch off” gimmick, so this card is unblemished by black scratch-off crap.

Gordie Roberts was born and raised in the Detroit area, so it’s not a surprise that he was named after Red Wings legend Gordie Howe. Roberts even got to play with Howe and his sons while all four of them were with the Whalers.

Gordie Roberts played a long time with the WHA Whalers and a number of NHL teams (including, obviously the NHL Hartford Whalers) and is in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. His brother Doug also played in the NHL for a number of years and also played with his brother on the New England Whalers… but unfortunately he was no longer on the team when the Howes came to New England. What a story that would’ve been, two families, five players on the same team!

So that wraps up this PWE… Thanks again to Shoebox Legends for the tremendous and well-timed PWE!

Oh, and before I leave I’m going to figure out where I stand on this Dead Parrot project — unofficial numbers because I rushed through counting cards as I was finishing this post. I’ve got 186 cards for 396 slots, which means I’m 46.9% of the way towards a full binder. Not too shabby considering I haven’t had a chance to actively seek out cards for this.

Kicking Off My “Dead Parrot” Hockey Frankenset

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I was thinking about creating two different “FrankenSets” in order to give some new structure to my accumulation of hockey cards. In response I got a healthy bunch of encouragement towards giving both Frankensets a try.

I decided that I would start with a test run on the “Dead Parrot” idea (named after the Monty Python sketch), a FrankenSet which would feature cards of hockey teams which are no more, which have ceased to be.

(FYI, this card is a foil insert from the 1994 Cornerstone Monty Python’s Flying Circus set)

And so I took some 9-pocket sheets and a binder I got on clearance at Target – one with beach graphics on the cover, very fitting for hockey – and did the first 12 pages (cards numbered from 1 to 108) as a test run.

Since I’m writing this post now, the test obviously worked out well and I’ve decided to go ahead with a 396-card “Dead Parrot” Frankenset. I even managed to nearly fill the second page (Cards # 10 – 18).

Card #17 in the bottom center, Gary Coalter, is double-dipping… It’s an expansion year 1974/75 card which lists him with the Kansas City Scouts, but shows him in a California Golden Seals uniform. That one will be hard to dislodge from the #17 slot.

My original idea was to limit this to NHL teams between the mid 1960’s and mid 1990’s, but I’ve decided to make any defunct NHL or WHA team eligible for the binder. I figure that the teams I initially had in mind will tend to bubble up to the surface as I go along anyway.

To give you an idea of what kind of criteria I’ll be using I figured I’d show a few “match-ups” for particular slots in the set.

I ended up with an interesting three-way matchup for card #19.  The top two cards are from 1976/77 Topps and O-Pee-Chee;  during the summer of 1976 the Kansas City Scouts moved to Denver and became the Colorado Rockies.  This was apparently too late for Topps to update, but O-Pee-Chee updated the team name and also took the colors out of the airbrushed uni for some reason… I presume that OPC wasn’t sure what colors the new team would wear.

Up against these two is a 1985/86 Topps Mike Zuke, shown with the Hartford Whalers.  I decided that the two Steve Durbano cards deserve to stay next to each other in my regular hockey binder, so Zuke goes into the Dead Parrot set.

I ‘ve always liked the North Stars logo and uniform, and 1981/82 Topps is also a favorite of mine… but none of that is enough to compete with a Houston Aeros card where the player (Terry Ruskowski) is actually *skating* as opposed to just gliding around the ice during a break in the action.

It was a tough decision for #50.  It’s hard to go against Lanny McDonald and his awesome mustache in a Colorado Rockies uniform… but it’s also a boring team leader card where text takes up most of the card front.

I had to go with the 1985/86 Topps Brian Bellows, but I’m not committed to this choice. I may change my mind later.

The battle for #15 was also a tough one. I like the Atlanta Flames uniform and I like 1970’s goalie masks… but I remember Ulf Nilsson from his time with the Rangers, my father’s team.

As you can tell from the nearly-full-page photo above I went with Dan Bouchard simply because the Nilsson photo isn’t very good – it’s a very dark photo on the card itself.

This last one seemed a tough choice at first glance, but ended up being easier than I thought.  I love the 1979/80 design, and Marc Tardif was a player I liked… but that’s up against another set I love, 1981/82, and I like the Whalers much more than the Nordiques.

…But then I took a second look and realized that Rick MacLeish card is airbrushed into a Whalers uniform (he came from the Flyers), so that made the decision much easier… Tardif all the way.


As for my other Frankenset idea, the “Photobombing Capitals” set made of cards where Washington Capitals players appear without being the subject of the card… Well, I am eventually going to move ahead with that as well, but not until after I’ve finished the initial setup of the Dead Parrot set.

This clip is from “Pleasure At Her Majesty’s”, a documentary about a trio of 1976 Amnesty International benefit shows;  I don’t know why the YouTuber credited it as “John Cleese” when Michael Palin is quite clearly featured in it and they were appearing as members of Monty Python, but nonetheless I love this version of the sketch.  “Look, this is nothing to laugh at!”

Floating Two Ideas For Hockey Frankenset Projects

So here’s the deal… I picked up this 1990/91 Topps Hockey Factory set for three bucks last year…

…and ever since I’ve been toying with the idea of making it the basis for a hockey Frankenset.


(I was also thinking of creating a standard image to use with any Frankenset posts when inspiration struck in the form of 1960 Leaf)

In addition to the 1990/91 Topps Hockey set, I’ve also got a complete set of 1982/83 O-Pee-Chee hockey which I bought back in 1983 because Topps did not make a hockey set that year. I would also like to work more of that set back into my “active collection” rather than having it sit neglected in a box.

Then there are the other cards in my collection waiting for me to fish or cut bait, plus every now and then I end up with hockey cards through multi-sport repacks and the like.

Everythng points towards me doing a Frankenset… But the thing is, I wanted any Frankenset to have some sort of theme. Just doing a straight-out hockey Frankenset didn’t quite grab me.

Last week I had an idea of how I could take one of the ways I accumulate hockey cards and adapt it into a Frankenset… and that was quickly followed by “If I do that, I could also do this…”

I don’t know if I want to do one or the other or both, but I know I want to do something… So I’m going to float these ideas and welcome your input.

FIRST IDEA: PHOTOBOMBIN’ CAPITALS
I was an enthusiastic Washington Capitals fan from the late 1970’s until the mid 1990’s… and was a half-hearted fan from then until the NHL locked out an entire season and became dead to me. DEAD TO ME!!!!

One of the fun parts of collecting the Capitals came from how Topps frequently used a photographer based in the Capital Center, with the end result being that Caps got on a lot of cards where they aren’t the featured player.  The Wayne Cashman card above is an example – that’s NHL iron man Doug Jarvis behind him.  Here’s another example featuring Steve Shutt and Photobombin’ Capital Rick Green:

I did a couple of posts about my Photobombin’ Capitals (see here and here), so I’m thinking maybe I should make it semi-official and create a Photobombin’ Capitals FrankenSet.

I really like this idea, but I also wonder how far I could get in filling out this Frankenset. The Caps didn’t exist until 1974 and I don’t think they really started “photobombing” until the 1975-76 set. Topps and O-Pee-Chee also started branching out further with their photographers in the 1980’s, so we’re talking about a limited number of cards.

Another major issue with this Frankenset is that the 1990 set has no pictures taken in Washington, not even the cards for the Caps.  Most of the pictures seem to have been taken in New Jersey, Boston, New York (MSG or Nassau Coliseum), Philadelphia and Chicago.

On the other hand, it’s not like it’s unheard of to find Photobombing Capitals cards from the 1990’s…

So I’m not sure whether I should do this as a Frankenset or just continue doing it as I’ve been doing it – as a dedicated section of a hockey binder.

…But thinking about ways that I collect hockey cards lead me to the second idea…

SECOND IDEA: THE “DEAD PARROT” SET (This Team Is No More! It has ceased to be!)
The name I gave this set comes from Monty Python’s famous “Dead Parrot Sketch” where John Cleese goes on a long rant describing, in a wide variety of ways, how a parrot he’d just bought turned out to be quite dead.

I already chase after cards featuring the three short-lived NHL teams from when I was a kid: The Cleveland Barons, Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Scouts.

Cards from these three teams wouldn’t be anywhere near enough for a Frankenset, so I would expand the list of teams to include all of the gone-to-meet-its-maker NHL teams from the 1967 expansion to the mid-90’s: the Atlanta Flames, California Golden Seals, Hartford Whalers — If you listen closely, you can hear a cheer coming from Shoebox Legends — Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques and the original Winnipeg Jets.

One major advantage of this idea over the Photobomb idea is that this set could include cards from before the mid-1970’s, and could also include team cards, league leaders, postseason cards and the like.

I could even include cards like this one from the 1994 Cardz “Muppets Take The Ice” set.

I gave some thought towards including the many pushing-up-the-daisies WHA teams – again, a semi-collection of mine – but I think I’d like to keep the WHA cards separate… at least initially.

GENERAL THOUGHTS ABOUT EITHER FRANKENSET

I’m thinking of excluding the three sets I collected as a kid:  1977/78, 1978/79 and 1979/80 because I’m working towards completing those (except for the way-out-of-my range Gretzky rookie from ’79/’80).  I know I could get a second copy for the FrankenSet, but I’m not sure what I want to do with those.

As far as the size of the FrankenSets(s)… I would consider going up to 396, but 198 or 264 might be more realistic when you take the size of many hockey sets into account. 198 has an advantage over 264 in that it would fit into 9-pocket sheets without empty pockets… of course, I could also use a non-standard number like 270, 288 or 297.

As I said, I’m open to suggestions on any of this.  I could do either of these, I could do both. I would also be open to other ideas for a theme.

I’d also like to hear from anyone who’s done a Frankenset based on card number… I’ve got a number of franksets going which are organized by player & team, but I’ve never done a “proper Frankenset” based on card number.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Potential Pitfalls? Encouragement? Let me know in the comments!

PWE Playhouse: Baseball, Hockey And A Bonus Card From Shoebox Legends

I recently got a padded envelope from Shoebox Legends; The bulk of it was mainly to help me with two sets I’m slowly working to complete: 1982 Topps Baseball and 1978-79 Topps Hockey.

But there were added “bonus cards”, so don’t bail out just yet!

I didn’t want to get carried away with head shots of guys like Mike Proly so I decided to pick the best three cards from each batch of the two sets, and then added in some extra fun stuff.

Alan Trammell looking “Baseball casual”.  I don’t know why, but using dark & light blue as the Tigers’ colors on this card appeals to me, at least for this card.

Party on, Garth!

Party on, Wayne!  (Where’s Wayne Krenchicki when you need him?)

Gotta love Oscar Gamble cards, even if his afro wasn’t at the legendary stages of the 1970’s.

Moving over to 1978-79 Topps Hockey, I always love to pick up cards for my favorite team from the 1970’s to the 1990’s, the Washington Capitals,

Bernie Wolfe started a financial services company after retiring from the NHL and has apparently been successful enough that his Wikipedia page lists “Canadian Businessman” first before “former ice hockey player”.

I just like the look on Tim Young’s face on this card… I’d love to know what he was thinking.

I also just like the North Stars’ logo and uniforms.

A sure sign that my father’s Ranger fandom had an effect on me even though I was never truly a Rangers fan: I know how to spell “Tkaczuk” without checking.

The Rangers’ late Seventies uniforms wouldn’t be terrible under most circumstances, but because these temporarily and needlessly replaced a classic uniform, these unis go down in history as a major mistake.

I realized as I was writing this that the way I scanned the next entry would be confusing to someone who hadn’t seen them before.  The below image contains two 2.5″ x 3.5″ ‘sheets’ of stickers which were inserts in packs of 1978-79 hockey packs.  I pulled a fair number of these hockey stickers back in the day… The general idea was that you could stick them on your hockey stick, helmet or other bits of hockey (or with my friends, street hockey) equipment.

Do kids still play street hockey? I know they don’t where I live, but hockey ranks waaaay down on the list of popular sports around here. I’d have to drive a couple of hours for even a minor league hockey game.  (*sigh*) I miss watching hockey live…

I used to have a series of posts called “Are We Not Stars?” where I’d review what happened to lesser-known players on multi-card rookie cards such as this one. I don’t know if I want to revive it as a series, but I figured I’d do a quickie here.

Danny Heep is easily the best player on the card, having played 13 seasons in the Majors with the Astros, Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers and Braves.  With all those seasons of coming off the bench, Heep never came close to having enough at bats to qualify for a batting title.

Billy Smith is not the same Billy Smith who played around the same time for the Angels, Orioles and Giants… and is certainly not the Billy Smith who was a goaltender for the New York Islanders.  This Billy Smith pitched 10 games for the Astros in 1981, going 1-1, 3.05 with a single save.  He’d wrap up his pro career by pitching for AAA Tucson in 1982.  Smith went to Sam Houston State University which, I just found out, is in Texas but not in Houston.  Learn something new every day.

Bobby Sprowl is another pitcher whose MLB career, unbeknownst to everyone at the time, was already over.  As Groucho Marx might say, Sprowl pitched for the University of Alabama where the Tuscaloosa.  (You’re welcome, Hackenbush).

Unlike Bobby Sprowl and Billy Smith, you’ve heard of Cal Ripken… and if you haven’t, why exactly are you reading a baseball card blog?  This shiny card is one we didn’t already have in the Shlabotnik Family Cal Collection (Mrs. S has been a Cal fan since ’83).

Finally, the padded envelope was topped off with an always-welcome card from the 1960-61 A&BC English Footballers set!

With Topps Archives Baseball using this same design this year, it occurs to me that it would be cool if Topps did an MLS or EPL insert set also using this same design.  If I were more of a soccer fan I might make some customs.  What the heck, I might do some anyway.  Unfortunately my favorite (relatively speaking) MLS player, Marvell Wynne, recently announced his retirement.  If you missed me mentioning him before, Soccer Marvell Wynne is the son of Baseball Marvell Wynne… but I’m getting pretty far afield, here.

Thanks again to Shane for this excellent group of cards! They are all greatly appreciated!

Bat-Around (Or Is It?): My Various Projects

It’s all about flexibility.

That’s what I was thinking when I was reading last week’s Night Owl Cards post about the irons he currently has in the fire. Some of the commenters suggested the topic become a “Blog Bat-Around”, and I said “Challenge accepted!”… although I’m not sure that anybody else has actually done this. No matter, I shall forge ahead!

I always have multiple projects going on, mainly because have numerous interests when it comes to my collection.  I’ll also confess to having a short attention span.

But when it all comes down to it, the go-to excuse I use is “flexibility”.

Here’s an example…

The card shows nearest to my home in Shlabotsylvania involve a 2+ hour drive, so I only get to one or two a year.  Because of of the paucity of show opportunities, I feel I can’t and shouldn’t limit things to one goal.  However, the last time I went to a show I went in with a primary goal of chasing after 1977-78 Topps Hockey, a set I started as a kid and have been giving thought to completing.

Then I got to the show – a regional show with several hundred tables – and found very little 1970’s hockey. Vintage hockey? Sure. Current hockey? Multiple dealers. 1970’s hockey? Too bad, so sad.

As a result, what had been my primary goal of the day quickly resulted in me standing in a show aisle saying “Well, poo…” (In the manliest way possible, I assure you).

That same show is rolling around in early April and I want to be ready for several possible contingencies, so I thought this post topic would allow me to contemplate just what it is that’s floating my cardboard boat right now.

Opening Current Packs
I completely understand that buying packs of current sets is a non-cost-effective way of collecting, but I’ve done it all my life, I enjoy picking up packs whenever I go into Target (and still miss when drug stores and convenience stores sold them as well) and I’m not stopping now.

It’s not even about chasing sets, because I have no illusions of completing 2018 Topps or Heritage. It’s more about having fun, acquiring cards of new players and getting a head start on my various projects involving 2018 cards.

Unfortunately in Shlabotsylvania (and, I’m guessing, elsewhere), retail Heritage is already drying up just weeks after the release. Sometimes this hobby just tries my patience.

1957 Topps Orioles Team Set
Last year, CommishBob of the must-read Five Tool Collector filled me with delight and astonishment when he sent me a Brooks Robinson rookie card, this lovely example from 1957.

Once the state of shock wore off, I decided that it would be fun to go after the team set. At that point I only had a couple, but I put a dent in it the last time, and will pursue this further at the April card show.

1966 Topps Mets Team set
This one is a “just in case things fall into place” project.

I thought this would be a relatively easy team set to complete. The Mets loaded up on past-their-prime future HOFers in the early years. Young future HOFers would come starting with Tom Seaver in 1967 and Nolan Ryan in 1968. 1966 Topps falls in a sweet spot between the two. The big names in the team set are Tug McGraw, Ron Hunt, Ken Boyer and Ed Kranepool. Sounds like an achievable goal for a collector on a budget, right?

That’s when I found that there seems to be an… ahhh, let’s say *unusual* shortage of several of the high-numbered commons such as Lou Klimchock. For example, I can go out on COMC and get nice-enough copies of hi #’s like Dick Bertell, Andre Rogers or John Sullivan for under $8. Lou Klimchock? Not a single one out there… and it doesn’t seem like there are any bargains to be found on eBay.  I’m going to keep my eye out for the three cards I need, but I won’t get my hopes up.

1979 Topps
I’ll admit, the enthusiasm isn’t really there for this project… but I need fewer than 50 cards to finish off the 1979 Topps set, and all of them are minor stars and commons.

1979 Topps is my least-favorite set of the decade, so I have to admit this is not so much a passion project as it is an “I’m out of excuses” project.  Besides, when I finish this I’ll extend my run of complete Topps sets from 1973 to 1981.

1976 SSPC
This goal’s a little dicey because I rarely find a lot of SSPC at shows.

One thing working against me is that I have only a couple of Yankees and Phillies, and an argument can be made that I should just try and buy those team sets on eBay… but I can’t decided how I want to procede on those.

1961 Topps Sports Cars
I love this non-sport set, and giggle like a child when I pick up new cards, but because it’s a small set and the only non-sports I’m chasing to any degree,  if it’s not right in front of me it tends to get forgotten.

I’m just over halfway to completion, I should ramp this one up.

1970, 1971 and 1972 Topps
These are sets I’ve had a long-term non-goal of having fun with and accumulating as many as possible without actually committing to completing the sets.

I’ve made efforts to break the sets down into smaller goals, like chasing down all of the Expos from these three sets.

I’ve also tried sub-goals like trying to complete the lower series… For example, I’ve got all of the 1972 commons through the 5th series…  6th and 7th are a different matter.

1969 High #’ed Cards For The Expansion Teams
Why the expansion teams?  There’s something I love about players shown wearing what was, at the time, a brand spanking new uniform.

Why high numbers?  Because that love doesn’t spread to tightly-cropped photos of capless guys in California Angels jerseys.