Catching Up On Hot Stove Customs (And Thoughts On The Marlins New Unforms)

Over the past few weeks, the majority of the custom cards I’ve posted here have been my tributes to the 1964 Topps “Giants” set.  There are more of those coming, but I wanted to take some time and share some of the other offseason custom projects I’ve been working on.

I’ve been using a variety of oddball designs in the offseason ever since 2012/13 when this guy had just been hired to manage the Red Sox…

I used these customs to highlight new managers, player movement and other offseason developments.

Back in 2014 I started to play around with faux “3-D” customs

…and yes, the 3-D customs will be back, once some of the bigger names start moving around.

As an attempted side project which never took off as much as I’d intended, in 2015 I started creating custom non-sports cards, the TSR “Fauxback” set.

I really like this design, I wish I’d done more with it at the time…

…but anyway…

A few weeks ago I introduced the first of my TSR Hot Stove customs, based on (but not completely faithful to) the 1962 Post set.  Here’s are two more examples, one featuring new Angels manager Brad Ausmus…

…and the other featuring new Rangers manager Chris Woodward:

As 1962 Post collectors can tell, I’ve gone rogue with the colors used and made them more team-based.  I’ve also ditched the stats and will replace them with other things.

This past week I unveiled my new TSR Fauxback design to highlight new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli (The Twins tweeted out a bigger photo of Rocco than the other managers got, so I figured “why waste it?”)

This design is meant to evoke the non-sport Topps sets of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, complete with the card number on the front (in the upper right corner) and in what I thought was a fun development for my custom cards, puzzles on the back!  YAAAAY!

I shared these images on Twitter earlier this week, and the response was “crickets”.


I also think that the design might appeal to people more if they see a bunch at the same time, so all y’all can get an idea of what I’m doing here.

And so…

The Miami Marlins unveiled their new uniforms yesterday, I thought the Fauxback design, combined with images published by the Marlins, would work well for expanding on the few thoughts I’d tweeted.

Starting pitcher Trevor Richards highlights the home jersey’s “Miami” script…

My initial reaction to these uniforms was that it was a lateral move from the one’s they’d had since 2012, more of an “Under New Management” sign than any huge improvement.

(here’s the puzzle back for card #6…)

…funny how the full-bleed nature of the backs make them look bigger than the front…

But now that I’ve had some time to digest them, I’m liking them more.  I still think they need a little *something* – maybe a “Miami Blue” bill on that black cap, or a non-black number on the front – but it’s not at all bad.  There’s way too much black, blue and red in Major League baseball, but at least it’s a different blue.

(Puzzle back for card #4…)

My main problem with the black alternate is that there’s way too much black.  As Nigel Tufnel said in This Is Spinal Tap, “How much more black could this be?  And the answer is ‘None… None more black’.”

When I was looking at Marlins unis reactions yesterday on my phone, i noticed that on a small screen the black jersey showed up as illegible, just a few colored marks on a black shirt.  It looks nice enough up close, but it’s going to be difficult to read the numbers from the stands.  If I were made commissioner (of any sport, I may add), one of my first moves would be to require that jersey numbers be completely legible from the upper decks.  Function over form, people…

(Puzzle back for card #5…)

I wanted to share one last custom, because this Fauxback set is intended to be an all-purpose set.  Ever since I heard about the retirement of Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who performed as Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch, I’ve wanted to make some sort of custom to commemorate this… so this seemed as good an opportunity to make one

(Puzzle back for card #3…)

By this point I think that many of you have figured out who’s on the puzzle backs.  The first person to name the celebrity in the comments will win… a big ol’ thumbs up from me, and the admiration of your peers.  Sorry, I’m not a “prize” kind of guy.

BTW, when I’ve shared all (or at least most of) the puzzle backs, I’ll also share the full puzzle.  I’m not quite there yet.


1961 Topps Sports Cars – Another Batch But Little To Say

Work has been crazy this week, so I’m going to feature a number of cards from what is currently my favorite non-sports set: 1961 Topps Sports Cars.

As is often the case with these posts, I don’t have much to say other than “Look at these beauties!”


Five Minute Post About Five Cent Cards

Writing a post in five minutes is the latest thing with all the cool kids, so I’m going to sprint through some cards I got from a nickel box at the last show I went to.

OK, here we go…

“Combo” Heritage card of David Wright and Ryan Howard.  Something about this makes me think that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t posing at the same time.

I have to admit, I’m relieved that Topps did not repeat this “MLB Wacky Packages” experiment.  The whole concept suffers when the packages are not real and the jokes are not wacky.

This is the flip side of the sticker above… Would I need to collect the entire puzzle to get a Mets team set?  Technically, yes.  In reality… No freakin’ way.

Danica McKellar!!!!!  Winnie Cooper!!!!!  Yay!!!!!

A 3-D card for a nickel?  Hell yeah.  I miss these being in Opening Day, but I guess the expense was too much for a low-end product.

Speaking of Opening Day, TC Bear wants YOU!  Please don’t ask what TC Bear wants you for… (And forgive the poor scanning that chopped off the corners).

Last year’s Stadium Club MLS.  I bought a bunch of packs of these just because, and I still don’t know what I’m doing with them.  I haven’t seen any this year… which is just as well.  BTW, I don’t know who Clint Irwin is (besides the obvious stuff listed on the card).

Rushing through this post reminds me of Steve Martin’s routine about Vegas acts (And side note about Johnny Carson’s jacket: O! M! G!!!!)

The Show’s In July, Not June? (Long Drawn-Out Sigh)

When the calendar turned over to June, it occurred to me that the three-times-a-year regional card show – the show which, despite the 2 hour drive, is the show closest to Shlabotsylvania – was coming up in a couple of weeks.  I started updating my “Show wantlist” MS Word document and thinking about which of my 379 goals I would focus on (379 is only a slight exaggeration)… and then it occurred to me to look at my wall calendar where I’d written the date down.

…and that’s when I realized the show is in July, not June.  (*siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh*).

To console myself, and to play a small role in getting me mentally focused on what I should be looking for when I get to the show, I started looking through folders containing scans of cards I never got around to posting, many of which were obtained at earlier instances of this same show.

The first two cards were from a dimebox, and both come from the 1979 TCMA “Baseball History” set, about which I know little (other than they’re cool).

Bill Virdon is a player/manager I collect because I latched on to him when he was the manager of the Yankees during a brief period when I was too young and naive to know I was supposed to hate the Yankees.

For many, many years my oldest card was a 1952 Topps Hank Thompson… For that reason alone, I have a certain fondness for Hank. It doesn’t hurt that he played most of his MLB career for the New York Giants (a family member was a Giants fan before they left for San Francisco)

This makes three Hank Thompson cards I own; the third is a Red Man Tobacco card. I’ve given thought towards making Hank Thompson something of a player collection, but it’s not like I don’t have enough goals and player collections as it is… We’ll see how I feel come July.

Upper Deck issued a few sets in Japan and I wanted to get at least one example for my collection. So Taguchi appeared in the Majors from 2002 to 2009 and this card was cheap on COMC, so I pulled the trigger on it.  By the way, these UD Victory cards are slightly smaller than standard-sized.

I love getting Japanese cards, although my Japanese collection doesn’t have much rhyme or reason to it.

Once upon a time this blog featured pairs of cards I called “Doppelgangers”, two cards from different companies which featured more or less the same moment on the field. This pair, a 1992 Leaf Preview card and the actual Leaf card, doesn’t meet the “different companies” criteria but it’s still pretty cool.

If I’m not mistaken, the Preview cards were inserted into 1992 Donruss factory sets in advance of the release of the Leaf set.

I’m not a fan of the Red Sox and I don’t chase down HOFers unless there’s a specific need, so I believe this is one of two Ted Williams cards I own.

…The other card being his manager card from the 1972 set. In both cases, I acquired them as part of a general quest to get as many cards from 1970 – 1972 Topps as my budget will allow.

Another back-burnered goal: 1976 Kellogg’s.

No real reason this got put on a back burner other than the usual… I ran into a small roadblock and my attention got diverted to the next big thing. Long-term focus is not one of my strong points.

I only have a couple of “Retro 1984” cards from 2018 Donruss, but they seem so well done that I may try to get more of them… even for teams and players I don’t collect.

Seriously, though, I think these are among the nicest baseball cards Panini has produced so far. The design, the gloss, the selection of photos which minimize the “photoshoppiness” of the cards while allowing you to actually see the player’s face. Just a good job by Panini.

I saw that there’s a new TV show coming this fall which stars Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist) and Freema Agyeman (“Martha Jones” from Doctor Who).

I saw a still featuring Ryan Eggold from the show, and my brain said “Oh, ‘Evil Tom’ is undercover as a doctor at hospital”. I can’t imagine what my reaction is going to be to Freema playing a role other than Martha, especially if she’s – gasp! – playing an American. Her IMDB page tells me she’s been in a number of TV series, including one called “Law And Order: UK” which, now that I’m aware of it, I’d kind of like to see.

OK, that’s enough random ramblings for today… The next post might actually have a theme to it.

1964? 1966? 1968? Topps Hot Rods

A little while ago my job took me to an office I’d worked in a number of years ago, and while I was there I made a quick stop in a card shop I used to go in a fair amount. Since the store specializes in gaming and non-sports cards, I asked him about a set I’ve been chasing, 1961 Topps Sports Cars.

He wasn’t sure about it from my description, but he lead me over to a binder, flipped it open, gestured to some cards and asked “Do you mean these?”

I took a look…

…Said “No, that’s not what I’m looking for… But those are cool, I’ll buy some anyway!” I walked away with the card above and two others.

When I got home I started researching them and was confused because I searched COMC for these cards and saw “Topps Hot Rods” listings for 1964, 1966 and 1968. Trading Card Database didn’t shed any light because it seemed to list only the 1968 set, but their 1968 images (with salmon-colored backs) didn’t match COMC’s 1968 images (with yellow backs).

I couldn’t find anything more definitive than that, just bits and pieces, but at this point here’s what I believe to be the case:  The cards were originally issued in 1964 as a 66 card set with salmon backs grey card stock.  In 1966, the set was reissued on white card stock.  In early 1968 there was a Milton Bradley game called “Win-A-Card” which came with reprinted 1968 baseball cards, 1967 football cards, and 22 cards from the Hot Rods set.  All of the cards which came with the game have yellow backs and since they’re all printed on the same sheet, you might find a miscut “1967 Football” card with some 1968 baseball burlap on the edge.

The Hot Rods cards may have also been reissued as a full 66-card set in 1968, but i’m less certain about that…. I’m not dead certain about any of this, please correct me if I’m wrong.

The cards I have are white cards stock with salmon-colored backs – very similar to the 1966 Topps Batman cards – so I’m calling them 1966 Topps Hot Rods.

I love the Silhouette show car from the early 1960’s…

If you’re like me, you’re familiar with this car from the very popular Hot Wheels car. I love the early-1960’s futuristic aspect to it… it seems like it would fit right in if it were parked at the 1964 World’s Fair (which I also love in the same way).

The last card I got was this card of “Surf Woody”, a custom card built by George Barris, who was the king of custom cars back at the time. I’ve seen references to the Hot Rods set being made in conjunction with Barris, but of the three cards I bought, this is the only Barris creation.

So that’s what I’ve got on these cards at this stage. I like them, I want some more, but I don’t see myself chasing all 66.

Does anybody else collect these, or at least have some?

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.

Hot Stove: Cole, Holds, Penfold And Passing Souls

It’s funny how some things just fall together… These customs all worked out to come together into one largely rhyming post title.

“Cole” is Gerrit Cole, who was traded by the Pirates to the Astros for several players, including potential Shlabotnik favorite Colin Moran (who is B.J. Surhoff’s nephew, so for the time being he’s a “legacy” favorite guy.)

This has been a rough year for my “Hot Stove” set because there has been relatively little player movement, and when someone does move I can’t find suitable photos or don’t have time to do it properly. I ended up rushing through this one a little bit; you might not see it (or maybe you do), but it bothers me a little. Not enough to stop me from posting it, though.

Next up, “Holds”… I’m continuing my 2017 MLB Leaders series of ersatz 1972 customs with this unofficial stat designed to measure a middle reliever’s effectiveness.  A pitcher gets a Hold by coming into a game with a lead of no more than three runs, getting an out and maintaining that lead (but does not earn a save in the process).

As it turned out, there were three MLB pitchers who tied for third, and that threw me for a loop. I didn’t want to change the design of the card, so I went with the floaty head option, which I think works pretty well.

The Twins’ Taylor Rogers lead the Majors with 30 holds.

Coming up next is Nick “Hubba Hubba” Vincent with 29 holds. No, I don’t know why he’s called “Hubba Hubba”, but I’d like to find out (I’ll be really impressed if it has anything to do with the song “Happy Boy” by The Beat Farmers).  If you’re like me and had never heard of Vincent before, a major factor is that he has almost no Major League cardboard. He was in that 2015 Platinum Series collectible card game – remember that?  The other card he had, oddly enough, was an autograph card in 2016 Topps Update. Of these five players, only Andrew Miller has any significant cardboard representation over the past two seasons.

The Floaty Head Three – Andrew Miller, not-the-Indians-infielder Jose Ramirez and new Met Anthony Swarzak – all tied for third with 27 holds.

Late New Year’s Resolution:  Feature more guys like these on custom cards in 2018.

These next two customs were last minute additions and are an excuse to feature some new A’s alternates that I really like. These new unis are meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the team’s move to Oakland and they are Kelly Green, the green they used to wear in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

I don’t know what pro sports teams have against Kelly Green, but I love it.  It seems like teams are either going with “Midnight Green” (the Philadelphia Eagles) or “Neon Snot Green” (the Seattle Seahawks).

There’s a cap which goes with the jersey;  I’d prefer it have a yellow bill, but this is actually a nice throwback to 1968, when they wore solid green caps (only those caps had just “A”, rather than “A’s”.)

What encourages me the most about this unveiling is that the three players involved in the unveiling all seemed to really like the change, and came out in favor of wearing them more than just for the planned Friday night home games. As far as I’m concerned, they can wear these in all of the games.

I’ve been working for a while on this sheet of U-KNOW-M stamps – “You love ’em because U-KNOW-M!”… Remember to look for U-KNOW-M stamp albums at your favorite virtual retailer!

I normally mention these from top to bottom, but since I have a bit to say about the two musicians who have passed away fairly recently, I’ll touch on the bottom row first.

Without getting into details, the other day something made me think of Penfold, the generally useless hamster assistant to Danger Mouse, the star of the British cartoon series of the early 1980’s.  Even though my friends and I were technically a bit old for DM when it aired on Nickelodeon, we appreciated the silliness and wordplay.  Since I’ve wanted to include more cartoon characters on these stamps, and “Penfold” fit right in with the “Cole, Holds” theme, he gets a spot in the checklist.  Cor!

I stumbled across this photo of Jenna Fischer promoting her latest project and I remembered how much of a crush I had on her during The Office.  I considered her for my list of current-day “Charlie’s Angels”, but her appeal is more along the lines of “High school sweetheart you were lucky enough to reconnect with” than “fantasy one-night stand”.

Moving on to the “Passing Souls”…

One night in December I got in my car to drive somewhere and the SiriusXM Beatles Channel played a Smithereens cover of “All I’ve Got To Do”, followed by the news that Pat DiNizio had passed away… It came as a surprise to me, as I hadn’t known he’d been in poor health.  The Smithereens were one of my favorite bands of the 1980’s… “Green Thoughts” was one of the first CD’s I ever bought, and I loved it so much that I went back and filled in the catalog (It took a little while to find “Beauty And Sadness” and “Live At The Ritz NYC”).  If there’s a bright spot to this, I just discovered that there are all kinds of download-only Smithereens live albums available, so I’m going to have to find that iTunes gift card which is undoubtedly buried in desktop clutter…

This is the lead track off of “Green Thoughts”:

Another sad loss from the music world was the passing of The Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas. For years the Moodies were ignored by the Rock HOF, and sadly when they are inducted the band loses a founding member before the ceremony.

I became a fan of the Moody Blues during the late 1970’s, when the band wasn’t active… My best friend had acquired a car with an 8-Track player in it, so he raided his parents’ collection and one of the tapes we got into was the compilation “This Is The Moody Blues”.  We knew some of the songs, like “Nights In White Satin” but came to love every track.  A couple of years later the band reunited and released “Long Distance Voyager” and I have never looked back… although I still feel that the seven albums released between 1967 and 1972 are the only Moody Blues albums which really matter.

Among the songs which Ray Thomas wrote and sang lead vocal was “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume”, and I found this clip of that song (along with “Ride My See Saw”, also from In Search Of The Lost Chord) from French TV in 1968.