I Think Too Much About 2023 Heritage Border Colors: American League

My early August post and associated comments about what may or may not happen with 2023 Topps Heritage – based on different aspects of the original 1974 Topps – got me thinking about the colors used in 1974 and what colors might be used for 2023 Heritage.  Then I remembered that 2020 Topps Archives also used the 1974 design, so I also started thinking about the colors used in that set.

As was often the case in the 1970s, the 1974 set had specific color combinations assigned to the different teams.  The colors sometimes matched the actual uniform colors, sometimes were similar to actual team colors, and in other cases were just bright colors which didn’t clash with the actual colors.

Many of the color combos followed what I think of as the “Buddy System”;  A particular color combination would be used by two teams, one in the AL and one in the NL.  An example of this is the Phillies and White Sox:

Other teams like the A’s and Padres had their own unique color combinations which more-or-less matched the actual team colors.

Fast forward 49 years and some of these teams have relocated and/or changed names, some teams have different colors that don’t go as well with the 1974 border colors, and other teams just flat-out didn’t exist in 1974, so there’s plenty of room for making changes to what would appear in 2023 Heritage.

Six of the 12 teams in each league had a “color buddy”, plus two other pairs of teams had similar colors, but weren’t true buddies.  Also, the Buddy System got broken over time, at least in terms of having one in each league.  The Astros and Red Sox are 1974 color buddies, but now both are in the American League. I’ll point all of this out when I get to it.

All of this is to say that I spend too much time thinking about stuff like this.

So what I’m doing here is I’m going to use graphic examples of what the colors had been used in 1974 Topps, what colors had been used in 2020 Archives, what colors Topps might use in 2023 Heritage, and – in those cases where it’s different – what colors *I* would use if Topps were foolish enough to put me in charge.

Now I’ll say up front that I am a child of the 1970s, so I like colors to be bold, fun and… well… colorful.  Sure, it’d be nice to match the team colors when possible, but Major League Baseball has an overabundance of blue and red teams. If all the borders were blue and red, that would get kind of monotonous.

OK, let’s get rolling… Allow me to introduce one of the little pseudo-cards I created for this post:

Rather than whipping up full custom cards to make my point, I went with some “condensed customs” to get the point across.

Let me also set some ground rules so I can avoid getting overly descriptive in the rest of the post… When I speak of “pennants”, that refers to the pennants (lavender in the above example), which hold both the city name and the team’s nickname. Also, when I speak of the “frame”, I’m talking about the border around the photo which, above, is yellow.

And finally, this post is going through the American League teams as of 2023, not from 1974… So if you’re looking for the Brewers, you’re going to have to wait until the next post

A’s / ATHLETICS

These are unique – no buddy system involved – and already team colors, so there’s no need to change it.

The one concession to the passing years is that the team’s name in the 1970s was official the A’s, and now it’s Athletics… And MLB Properties apparently doesn’t take well to using abbreviated nicknames on licensed cards, so no “A’s”, “Cards” or “Yanks”. Otherwise, we’re good to go.

1974 Color Buddy:  None

ANGELS

We’ll start off with a somewhat controversial team in terms of the 1974 color combo. I’m sure there are a bunch of you who would ditch pink/magenta from Topps’ color palette in a heartbeat, given that it’s nobody’s team colors.  For me, pink pennants with a grey frame around the picture is close enough to team colors, and keeps the palette varied.

If the team updated the original design as it was, the only change would be to the city name, changing “CALIFORNIA” to “LOS ANGELES”.

However, I expect that Topps will continue to call the team just “Angels” without the “Los Angeles” and will duplicate what appeared in 2020 Archives:

BLEAH.

I can hope that the city gets included, but I won’t hold my breath. Good thing I’m not an Angels fan.

1974 Color Buddy:  The Cubs are partial color buddies – they share the magenta pennants, but the Cubs pair it with a blue frame.

ASTROS

The Astros have changed uniform colors a couple of times over the last 50 years, but their current colors are essentially the same as their 1974 colors. While the 1974 Topps color combo isn’t navy and orange, I put these in the category of “It ain’t broke”.

1974 Color Buddy: Red Sox

BLUE JAYS
The Blue Jays first season was in 1977, so they obviously weren’t represented in 1974 Topps.  For 2020 Archives, they “borrowed” the 1974 color combo used by the Rangers and the Expos.

Since the Nationals used a different color combo in 2020 Archives, the Jays essentially took over as the Rangers’ color buddies.

In the interest of keeping things a bit different, I’d consider changing the lettering to black, but I’m fine with it either way.

1974 Color Buddy: N/A

INDIANS / GUARDIANS
Yellow has never been a color for this franchise, but I just love the heck out of the red/yellow/grey combination used in 1974.  The grey frame works as a nice accent and keeps things grounded, color-wise.

For 2020 Archives, they changed the letters to white, and that just made things kinda dull.

I beg of Topps, please go back to the yellow lettering.

1974 Color Buddy: None, but they should’ve had one… that’s how much I like this color combo

ORIOLES
The originals were perfect.

But in 2020 Archives, they changed the team name lettering from orange to white.

It doesn’t look anywhere near as good, but there may be a reason that they did this.  Card production is a completely different beast than it was in the 1970s and for whatever reason the bright colors of 50 years ago don’t ‘pop’ like they used to. When the bright letters are put against a black pennant, it often seemed to make the letters seem less bright… so if the white letters are there because they look better with today’s printing technology, I suppose I can see that. I really prefer the originals, though.

1974 Color Buddy: Giants

MARINERS
The Mariners are another team that didn’t exist in 1974.  In 2020 Archives they became Color Buddies for the Royals (who didn’t have a Color Buddy in 1974)

That’s fine, but I like the idea of getting a little green into the design, just to introduce more colors into the set.

One possibility could be as simple as changing the frame from yellow to green (and I played with changing the lettering to yellow)

Back in 2008 I made my first attempt at custom cards by creating some current-at-the-time players in the 1974 design, and for the Mariners I took the A’s green pennants and changed the frame to blue.

I really like this, but I’m obviously not impartial on this case.

1974 Color Buddy: N/A

RANGERS
The Rangers color combo remains perfect for the team today, no need to modify it.

1974 Color Buddy: Expos (Nationals)

RAYS
Once again, the Rays didn’t exist in 1974, so it’s time to figure out a new color combo.

For 2020 Archives, they went with something like this…

In terms of 2020 Archives, the Rays were color buddies with the Mets (who, for whatever reason, had black letters in 2020 rather than the white letters from 1974).  At any rate, it doesn’t match the Rays team colors well.  I’d go with the dark blue pennants, yellow letters and yellow frame

1974 Color Buddy: N/A

RED SOX
Black, red and yellow is a better match here than it was for the Astros, but I still like it as a combo for the Red Sox.  No real need to change this.

1974 Color Buddy:  Astros

ROYALS
Not much to say about these either.  The team colors are blue with a touch of yellow.  End of story.

1974 Color Buddy: None, but are similar to the Brewers, who had the same yellow frame with darker blue pennants

TIGERS
Back in the 1970s this was kinda sorta close to Tigers colors because the road uniforms included a reddish orange to go with the navy blue.  These days an argument can be made for changing them.

Thing is, what would you change them to?  The home unis are navy and white.  The road unis are navy and gray.  There needs to be some color in here, to my thinking, so I’m back to sticking with what was used in 1974… but I’m open to suggestions.

1974 Color Buddy: Braves

TWINS
The Twins color combo is similar to the actual uniforms, with a dark blue substituting for the navy blue.

2020 Archives changed the dark blue to a medium blue. I would imagine that most people didn’t notice, but I did.  I’d keep the dark blue.

1974 Color Buddy: Cardinals

WHITE SOX
From 1971 to 1975, the White Sox home uniforms were similar in design to what they wear today, only the uniforms were red and white instead of black and white.  The 1974 road uniforms maintained the red caps but went with powder blue with red accents.

The Chisox and Phillies had similar uniforms at the time, so that made them ideal “color buddies” in 1974.

Thing is, the White Sox have different team colors now.  An argument can be made that their current uniforms are neutral and anything will go with them, and I’d be fine with that.

If you insist on updating the colors to better match the team today, I would be cool with something like this

This could also free up the 1974 combination for one of the many current teams which use red…  I have an idea I’ll touch on when we get to the National League teams

1974 Color Buddy: Phillies

YANKEES
Again, like with the White Sox, the Yankees’ navy and white team colors aren’t colorful enough on their own to use by themselves, but the team could always go with other colors.  I would call this a case of “the original colors are good enough”.

1974 Color Buddy: None


So that wraps up the American League. I’ll be covering the National League in my next post

It Hides A Nasty Stain That’s Lying There

“I keep your picture up on the wall
It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there
So don’t you ask me to give it back
I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me
I’m not in love, no, no…”
— 10cc, “I’m Not In Love”

It started with a Kojak card on Twitter.

I’m not a fan of that 1970s detective show, although I certainly watched it enough to understand “Who loves ya, baby!” and other references to the show.

Side note, it’s funny to think about how exotic a shaved head was back in the day.  Telly Savalas, Yul Brynner and that was pretty much it.

Anyway, I saw a Kojak card on Twitter and asked the empty room “There were Kojak cards?!?”  I did some quick research and found that the card was actually from 1975 Monty Gum, a British set… but I also stumbled on other Kojak cards from a set that COMC called “1978 Swedish Samlarsaker”.

Curious, I took a look at cards from that set on COMC  and found out that it has an odd checklist.  It’s mainly pop stars of the day, including a lot of ABBA – not surprising that Swedish superstars would be in a Swedish set.  There are also a bunch of cards of Swedish tennis star Bjorn Borg.  But the set also has scattered cards of Kojak, Columbo and other non-music characters.  I get the impression that the set checklist was partially determined by which celebrities they could get publicity photos of.

ANYWAY I also found cards of British art-pop band 10cc which nearly made me fall out of my chair.  10cc’s biggest US hits were “I’m Not In Love” (1975) and “The Things We Do For Love” (1978) but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that I became a fan.  A college classmate played their albums for several of us, and they were a lot more humorous and musically adventurous than I’d realized they would be.

So let’s get to the two cards… both are blank-backed and would be considered “minis” by current day standards.

Card #13 is a portrait of the band…. Top row is Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman;  below is Lol Creme.

Card #528 shows a performance.  Since all four were essentially frontmen at one point or another, there wasn’t any attempt to put Kevin Godley and his drum kit in the back.

If these cards are indeed from 1978, then the photos were out of date because Godley and Creme left the band in 1976 and Stewart and Gouldman carried on the 10cc name.  “I’m Not In Love”, which hit #2 in the US in 1975, features the original lineup but “The Things We Do For Love”, which hit #5 in 1976, is just Stewart and Gouldman.

A couple of fun facts:

  • Godley and Creme recorded albums as a duo and got fame in the 1980s as the directors of famous videos like George Harrison’s “When We Was Fab”, the Police’s “Every Breath You Take”, Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” as well as their own video for Cry (included below).
  • Graham Gouldman wrote “Bus Stop” for the Hollies and “For Your Love” and “Heart Full Of Soul” for the Yardbirds.

I’ll wrap up with videos of the US hits, some personal favorites (“Worst Band In The World”, “Rubber Bullets”, “I’m Mandy, Fly Me”) and the “Cry” video that put Godley & Creme on the video production map.

Three 1970s Oddballs I Got On COMC

Over the past year I’ve been… well… I was going to say “more focused”, but it’s more accurate that I was often asking myself “What exactly am I doing?”

This carried over to COMC, when I recently got a shipment of close to a year’s worth of purchases and when they arrived I found that I wasn’t as all-over-the-place with impulse buys as I usually am, which is a good thing… at least for my recent state of mind. A side effect of this was that when I wasn’t shopping for cards which were at the top of my want list, I spent more time looking for long-term wants… and I got a trio of 1970s oddballs that have been on my list for quite a long time.

First up is this 1978 Burger King card of Bobby Thompson. Thompson wasn’t in 1978 Topps at all, and his “rookie card” came in 1979 Topps.


You can see that the card back mentions his 1978 MLB debut, something you wouldn’t normally have seen on a 1978 card because the 1978 Topps set was finalized before the 1978 season started.

Thompson had an interesting career… well, not interesting for good reasons, but interesting nonetheless. He was a 19th round draft pick and didn’t seem to have factored tremendously in the Rangers’ plans. He had a hot bat in Triple-A in 1977 and made the 1978 Rangers as a 4th outfielder. Again, Topps hadn’t so much as put him on a 1978 “Rookie Outfielders” card. After one season with the Rangers, he was sold to the Mariners, he didn’t make the team out of Spring Training and, as his “Bullpen” page on Baseball Reference puts it, apparently retired.

Side note for anyone who wants to make “Shot Heard Around The World” jokes, *that* Bobby Thomson’s last name did not have a “p” in it.

Next up is Sam Ewing, an outfielder who was selected from the White Sox in the expansion draft. This card is from 1977 O-Pee-Chee and like Thompson, Ewing doesn’t appear in the corresponding Topps set.


Ewing played for the Jays in 1977 and 1978 and showed up in the flagship Topps sets in 1978 and 1979… but after the 1978 season his contract was sold to the Nippon Ham Fighters so he also appeared in the 1979 TCMA Japanese Baseball set (a set from which I can never resist sharing cards).

Last up is a card I’ve wanted since… well, probably 1977. This is the 1977 Burger King Yankees Reggie Jackson. Reggie signed with the Yankees as a free agent going into the 1977 season, and I think this was the first non-airbrushed card to show Reggie in pinstripes.


In 1977 I was a pre-teen living on Long Island, and this card was a hot commodity.  I never liked Reggie to start with, and the Yankees had fallen out of my favor – as a baseball newbie I liked both local teams – but this was a card that DIDN’T EXIST IN 1977 TOPPS, THEREFORE I WANTED IT.  However it was always out of my budget and eventually became less of a priority… until the last 10 years when I started prioritizing 1970s oddballs.

For those of you not familiar with the airbrushed Topps card, here it is

I’ve got a bunch more cards from this COMC shipment to share, and I’m going to try to stay focused – there’s that word again – and share them all in the near future

Dollar Vintage From My Only Show Of 2022 (So Far)

The only show I went to in 2021 was a local show relatively close to home.  The only show I’ve gone to since then was the same local show last month, and it had the added complication of my having only 30-40 minutes to spend there.  It’s not a big show, but a half-hour is precious little time even at a small show.

As it turns out, it didn’t make much difference to me because my initial pass through the show resulted in a lot of “I’m not paying *that* price for *this* card”, so I ended up spending most of my limited time sorting through a bin of dollar vintage cards.  Even then, they were mostly well-loved commons so they weren’t particularly cheap, so I see it as pyaing a little extra for the entertainment value.

When all was said and done I walked out with 40 or so cards (some of which ended up being doubles, as the whole thing was a rush), and I’ll share some of them here just because Show ‘N Tell posts seem to be all I can finish these days.

This card has a bit of a story to it.  A little while ago I was poking through the 172 cards I have from 1969 Topps and I realized I didn’t have any Tigers from that set.  I’ve got a complete set of Seattle Pilots, near-complete sets of the Orioles and Mets (damn Nolan Ryan), about half of the Expos, but nothing from the Tigers.  At the time I told myself “I shall remedy this!” and then looked at who was in the 1969 Topps Tigers team set… and there was absolutely nobody who inspired the slightest amount of “Ooh, I’ll get him!” in me.  Fast forward to the card show when I ran across this well-loved Jim Price card, said “Eh, good enough” and that was that.

I knew nothing about Jim Price when I bought the card, but now I know he was a backup catcher for a few years and has been a Tigers broadcaster for 28 years.

Another 1969, this time for the Padres’ first star player Nate Colbert.  I go back and forth on collecting the four expansion teams from 1969.  On one hand, I love the idea of collecting a team’s first year… but the flip side of that is you get a lot of capless players like this.

Speaking of capless players, check out the hair on Vic Roznovsky.  I technically bought the card because he’s an Oriole here, but I haven’t committed to collecting the 1967 Orioles team set.  For now, it’s all about the hair.

I’ve decided that there’s just not a bad card of Wes Covington, just great ones and less great ones.  This card is also pretty beaten up.

I was surprised to find this card for a buck… it’s well-loved, but it’s also got Frank Robinson on it (as well as Jerry Lynch and Gus Bell, patriarch of a three-generation baseball family)

I flipped it over and got a better idea of why it’s a buck… but what the heck, it’s a buck.

I picked up this Don Mincher just because he would later be a Seattle Pilot.

And I’ll wrap things up with a couple of Houston Colt .45s, which have a strong “eh, what the heck” factor because of the long-gone uniforms…  Jim Golden spent most of 1963 with the Triple-A Oklahoma City 89ers before being sent to the White Sox in a trade for Nellie Fox

As a child of the 1970s I will always think of Dave Giusti as a Pirates reliever, but he started out with the Colts

And that’s it for now.  Stay tuned for more well-loved commons coming to this blog!

A Week+ Worth Of Customs: “Try To Keep On Keepin’ On”

Once more into the well of customs most of which are from the past week (but the first couple are holdovers from before that).

Roki Sasaki is a 20-year-old pitcher for Japan’s Chiba Lotte Marines, and earlier this season he struck out 19 batters on his way to a perfect game, the first perfecto in Nippon Pro Baseball since 1994.

In Sasaki’s next start, he pitched another 8 perfect innings before his pitch count got too high and his manager pulled him from the game.

In the game after that, he gave up a hit on the first pitch he threw.

As of right now he’s 4-0 with a 1.47 ERA, a .633 WHIP and he’s averaging 14.3 strikeouts per 9 innings.  Don’t tell me Major League teams aren’t keeping a close watch on him and waiting until he’s old enough to come over here.

Because I enjoy doing fun things with the 1973 design that Topps isn’t doing, I made a 2022 Shmeritage card for him.

Ty France is off to a hot start, hitting .328/.401/.470 with 5 homers, 15 runs, 25 RBI and a league-leading 44 hits.

Will Smith is on my fantasy team, but he hasn’t always been *starting* on my fantasy team.  He just got his starting job back now that Ryan Jeffers (!) has cooled off quite a bit.

Angels rookie Reid Detmers hurled a no-hitter in his 11th Major League start. Make of this what you will ,but he now leads the AL in complete games and shutouts, and has the Majors 2nd shutout and 3rd complete game of the season.

Make sure you put this custom in a virtual one-touch, because his last name is misspelled making it a valuable error card! It also serves as a warning against making customs first thing in the morning.

Last time around I featured 1973-style customs of the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves wearing some uniforms that threw back to 1970s… and then I later remembered that some teams wear 1970s throwbacks on a regular basis…

I was a die-hard Capitals fan from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but they kept making changes that were for the worse (IMO, of course) and eventually were no longer the team I originally fell in love with. These days there’s a pretty fair amount of Shadenfreude involved when the Caps lose in the first round. Arrivederci, Ovechkin.

This custom, by the way, is based on the postseason design used in 1974/75 Topps/OPC Hockey. I don’t have a lot of interest in the teams in the playoffs and so I won’t make a custom for every series, just those series where I have at least a mild rooting interest one way or the other. My custom isn’t completely accurate, otherwise it would just say “PANTHERS vs. CAPITALS” at the bottom, but I’d already modified this design for use in “Season Highlights” and I didn’t particularly want to be faithful to the original anyway.

This morning I went to look at the league leaders to see who surprised me… and the Orioles’ Jorge Mateo is tied with Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez for the Major League lead with 10 stolen bases. Not exactly Rickey Henderson territory, but that’s pretty good for 21st century baseball.

In the last post I featured the April Pitchers of the Month, this time around I have the April Players of the Month José Ramírez and Nolan Arenado…

…and Relievers of the Month Jordan Romano and Josh Hader.


FYI, I’m not going to make customs for the “Rookies of the Month”


For whatever reason I had “My Silver Lining” by First Aid Kit stuck in my head this morning.  I’m always a sucker for sisters singing harmony together. The chorus has the line “Try to keep on keepin’ on” in it, which is pretty fitting for what many of us are going through these days.

Pack Animal: A Quick Run Through Some Current Hockey & Soccer Packs

I don’t know how much interest there is in these packs, but I figure somebody will be interested and dammit, I’m going to justify part of the price by blogging about it.

I’ll start with a pack of 2021-22 Upper Deck MVP Hockey, which is cheap. That’s pretty much it’s lone selling point as far as I’m concerned.  The photos and design are merely adequate.

Mondo Meh.

Next up, I bought a jumbo of 2021-22 O-Pee-Chee Hockey. I had some hopes for this because I know it’s printed on ‘traditional’ cardboard and the “Retro” parallels are often pretty nice.

Here’s a base card. I can’t think of much good or bad to say. Yep, this is a hockey card.

Here’s the back

I pulled a blue parallel, which doesn’t do much to help or hurt the design

And finally I pulled two Retro cards, a player card and a team checklist.  If you can’t tell from the scans, it’s got a kinda odd Roman Column motif going.

Here’s the back

I was hoping to pull some Kraken, and I did… Sort of…

Both Carson Soucy and Vince Dunn were selected in last July’s expansion draft and were with the Kraken all season… and yet here they are in last season’s uniforms… Not so much as an OG “NOW WITH KRAKEN”. Just disappointment upon disappointment.

I’ll wrap things up with an impulse buy of 2021-22 Topps UEFA Champions League Match Attax.

Even though there’s a hell of a lot going on, I like the look of the base cards, although I’m gonna say that it looks much better in person than in a scan. They do stuff with the texture of the card that doesn’t show up on a scan;  if you’ve seen a prior Match Attax card, you’ll know what I mean.

I don’t know if the odds improved or if I got lucky, but there was a fair amount of shiny in my pack.

This is some sort of foilboard subset

This is another foilboard subset.

I think this is a Crystal Foil parallel… it’s shiny and sparkly and pretty.  Think “blue cognac”.

This is another shiny shiny card, but not quite as shiny shiny (or pretty) as the Crystal parallel.

The Match Attax pack served it’s purpose… it was something to open, and it provided me with a couple of cards to send off to some trading buddies who collect particular teams, and maybe I can sell some of the shiny cards on COMC (although the market for soccer is admittedly not great on COMC)

Two Weeks Of Customs: “Cry For A Shadow”

I’m sharing two weeks worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ).  This post is all over the place…

…UNTIL…

…I get to the unveiling of this year’s original TSR Daily design towards the end!

I ran across an image of José Altuve that was so “1970s Topps” that I had to use it, so I made a 2022 Shmeritage custom out of it.  Maybe if Altuve gets traded somewhere before next season, I can re-use the image in a 1974 Topps Traded design :-D

Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster signed a 1-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs after five seasons with the Steelers.  Not gonna let this “Hot Stove” design go without getting its share of use!

Tracy Fleury, whose team finished first in the Scotties round robin, lost both playoff games and then disbanded, is joining Team Rachel Homan for the 2022-23 curling season

Igor Shesterkin has quickly become one of the league’s top goalies. He currently leads the league with a .935 save %.

The Steelers signed Mason Cole to a three year contract. He has been a center with the Cardinals and Vikings, but I saw somewhere that his position on the Steelers offensive line had yet to be determined, so I put his position as OL.

A week and a half ago, Sebastian Aho scored a goal at home.

34 seconds later, Sebastian Aho scored a goal at home

That’s when I found out there are two NHL players named Sebastian Aho.

Swedish Sebastian Aho is an Islanders defenseman; he was the first to score, against the Blue Jackets on Long Island.

Finnish Sebastian Aho is a Hurricanes forward and an All-Star. He scored against the Canadiens in North Carolina.

The World Men’s Curling Championship is wrapping up today in Las Vegas. Brad Gushue is the skip for Team Canada and took Bronze in Beijing.

Korey Dropkin skips Team USA, who was 3-3 after Day 4 of round-robin play and looked to be on shaky ground, but went 4-2 the rest of the way to qualify for the playoffs.

After 8 years with the Pirates, Gregory Polanco has taken his talents to Tokyo.

My original intent with 2022 Shmeritage was to feature managers, coaches and players who got left out of 2022 Topps Heritage, but I’m also having fun including people from other parts of the Baseball Universe.

Johnny Gaudreau was named the NHL’s 2nd star for the month of March; the New Jersey native had 11 goals and 15 assists in 16 games, scored points in 7 consecutive games and had 3 game-winning goals

And now…

The official blog debut of my 2022 TSR Daily design!

Carlos Correa gets first crack because he’s with a new team and I love featuring guys like that in April.

Madison Bumgarner is featured because we haven’t seen him on a Topps card since 2017. I’m still surprised that Panini isn’t leaning into that “exclusive” they have.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the Yankees new shortstop who was with Texas in 2021 and was a Minn. Twin for a day in March, is here because I created his custom to make sure a name like Kiner-Falefa would fit in my new design, but I ended up liking the way it turned out.

Top prospect and second-generation Major Leaguer Bobby Witt Jr. made his Major League debut Thursday, hitting an RBI double in his first at-bat. His father, Bobby Witt Sr., pitched for 16 years in the Majors, mostly with the Rangers. The two of them are the highest-drafted father/son combination in history (Senior was #3 overall, Junior #2)

Connor Joe has a great name, plus he hit a home run to help the Rockies beat the Dodgers. That’s good enough for me!


I’ll wrap up with my series of songs I’d consider using as walk-up music if I possessed any athletic ability and weren’t well into my 50s. This time I’m going with a Beatles deep cut.

“Cry For A Shadow” was a pre-Ringo instrumental track recorded when the Beatles with drummer Pete Best were briefly serving as a backup band for Tony Sheridan during a few recording sessions. It is the only song with a Harrison/Lennon songwriting credit.

1988 “Junior Mets” Membership Kit (And Cards!)

Back in late 1980s the Mets announced that they would have a “Junior Mets” club for kids. At the time I was in my mid-20s, single and childless. I had one niece, and she was still in diapers. I had no reason to be interested in a Junior Mets Club.

…Until they mentioned that it came with a sheet of nine exclusive baseball cards and that’s when I started looking for information on how to join.

I was a little concerned – unnecessarily so, I’m sure – that they might balk at a new member who has the same name as the person whose name was on the personal check so I went as far as to come up with a name for “my son”. I mailed the funds and information on the fake son to the appropriate address, and I got my membership kit.

When I got the kit, I oohed and aahed over the cards before putting the uncut sheet into a binder.  As for the rest of the kit…  Well, I don’t know what happened to the kit I got in 1987, but for 1988 I tossed the rest of the kit into my “I don’t know what to do with it but it’s just a bit too interesting to toss out” box… and I still have it to this day. I’ll share the cards first, but you may want to stick around for the rest, especially if you’re a Mets fan.

So here’s the sheet, which is perforated so that kids wouldn’t necessarily need a sharp object to separate the cards. By the way, I’ll share the individual cards after I show the uncut sheet

The back of the sheet…

…and the individual cards:


Here’s the back of Darryl. I won’t share the backs of the other cards.

As you can see, the set is sponsored by Farmland dairies and there’s no mention of a third party card company, so this set was presumably done in-house.

This is my favorite of the set

I don’t think you’d get a current 9-card set which had two relievers in it, but in a moment you’ll see why Roger McDowell was included.

The membership kit came in a mailing envelope, but there was also an inner envelope that held the goodies… Mets reliever and fan favorite Roger McDowell was the featured player throughout the materials.

So what did aspiring Junior Mets get within this envelope?

A letter from Roger McDowell welcoming you to the Junior Mets club

A membership card “signed” by Roger McDowell, Mets GM Frank Cashen and Mets manager Davey Johnson

You also got a sheet of stickers to prove that YOU ARE A JUNIOR MET!  …And that you are very fond of Farmland milk.

A 1988 Mets schedule which commemorated the 25th anniversary of Shea Stadium

A personal invitation to an instructional clinic at Shea Stadium (If I could borrow a kid to drag along, I might’ve considered going to this)

Coupons good for a discount on two designated August weekday games against the Cubs and the Padres, the two teams which finished last in the National League the previous season

An opportunity to buy Junior Mets club apparel and merchandise, featuring that o-so-stylish Junior Mets logo.

On the back of this offer is the order sheet and another coupon good for a FREE GALLON OF FARMLAND MILK!  The benefits never end!

And finally, a prize to rival the baseball cards, your very own Junior Mets/Farmland Dairies digital watch!

As you can see, I left mine in its original blister pack.  Needless to say, the battery died a couple of decades ago and is probably corroding the watch from within.

Here’s a closeup of the watch face… because why not.

And that’s what the cool kids got in 1988.  If the 1987 or 1989 Junior Mets Club kits turn up as I excavate my man cave, I’ll share those as well.

 

Custom Catch-Up: C’Mon, C’mon

I’m having a hard time keeping up on… well, pretty much anything these days. This post features three weeks worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter (#DailyTSRcustom ) but even then it’s not a full 21 daily customs because I haven’t been keeping up on that either.

I’ll give you a heads-up: This post is mostly curling and hockey, mostly Olympic-related, and contains 0% of my usual baseball customs. I know it’s not what a lot of my readers are looking for, but I’ve got to follow my joy.

Team Kerri Einarson won the 2022 Scotties Tournament Of Hearts for the third straight time; The Scotties is Canada’s national women’s curling championship. Team Einarson will, once again, represent Canada in the World Women’s Championship which starts in about three weeks.

Jordan Eberle of the Seattle Kraken scored a goal in the All-Star Game on February 5th. It was his second All-Star appearance, the first coming in 2012 when he represented the Oilers. It’s also been one of the few recent highlights for the Kraken, who have gone 1-6-1 since the All-Star break.

…And it gave me the opportunity to use my All-Star header on my 1974/75 Hockey template. I’d used it previously for draft picks, but it’s nice to use it for its intended purpose.

The Italian mixed doubles curling team of Stefania Constantini and Amos Monsaner won all 11 of their matches and stunned the curling world by taking home Gold. This is Italy’s first Olympic medal in any curling discipline.

I’d already featured a “base card” of Mosaner, here’s one of Constantini. She’s from Cortina d’Ampezzo, which along with Milan will be one of the hosts of the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Amanda Kessel played in her 3rd Winter Olympics and was among the scoring leaders in Beijing. I have to admit, this particular custom turned out better than I’d expected.

Team Jennifer Jones missed the playoffs after finishing in a three-way tie with Great Britain and Japan and then losing on the second tiebreaker.

Kenny Agostino scored a goal as the USA beat Canada in Olympic men’s ice hockey for the first time since 2010. Neither the USA nor Canada would medal, which wasn’t surprising as the NHL decided at the relatively-speaking last minute to not allow their players to participate.

Team Sweden and skip Niklas Edin won Olympic Gold for the first time after previously winning Silver and Bronze. They’ve also won five world championships.

Brianne Jenner was named the MVP of the women’s tournament and tied an Olympic record with 9 goals. She also had 5 assists for a total of 14 points.

The USA and Canada faced each other for the fourth consecutive time in the women’s hockey Gold Medal game. It was Hilary Knight’s third Olympic final.

Canada’s Sarah Nurse set an Olympic women’s ice hockey record with 18 points during the tournament. Her cousin Darnell plays for the Edmonton Oilers.

Oskar Eriksson became the first curler to win four Olympic medals: Bronze in 2014, Silver in 2018, and this year he won Bronze in mixed doubles and Gold in the men’s tournament.

19-year-old defenseman Owen Power, who was the 1st overall pick in last year’s draft, got an assist and averaged 21:38 ice time in five Olympic games.

Team Eve Muirhead, representing Great Britain in the Olympics, won Gold over the weekend. It’s the first curling Gold for Great Britain since 2002.

Elias Lindholm was the NHL 1st Star for the week ending February 20. Over three games he had 4 goals and 4 assists to help the Flames extend their winning streak and move into first place.

Mrs. Shlabotnik and I have been on a David Tennant kick lately… We recently finished “Around The World In 80 Days” on the heels of both seasons of “Staged”. We enjoyed “80 Days” enough that I’m getting ready to read the original. We loved the first season of “Staged”, but the second season struggled to recapture the magic, despite all of the guest stars.

Tennant is probably best known in the US for “Doctor Who” and “Broadchurch”, and he was also the voice of Scrooge McDuck on the recent version of “DuckTales”.


The other day I was driving in my car listening to my iPod – I’ve got one permanently plugged into my car’s infotainment system – when “C’mon C’mon” by The Von Bondies came on.  Because I hadn’t heard it for a long time and because it’s pretty short (2:14) I ended up listening to it three times in a row. The song was used as the theme to the Denis Leary TV series “Rescue Me”

Skipping An Entire Week Just Wouldn’t Be Cricket

I realized last night that I hadn’t posted anything in a week. This is more from my being distracted by the Olympics and work stuff than any loss of interest on my part.

I don’t have anything at all prepared, so I’ll quickly share some cricket cards I got in a recent COMC shipment. Cricket is a sport I suspect I would enjoy, but I haven’t been able to get enough exposure to really understand what’s going on. I’ve read up on the rules and there are times when I think I understand what’s going on, but then I see a match on TV or in a local park – there’s a cricket pitch in one field – and I realize that I don’t really understand it.

So anyway, the oldest card of the bunch – and now one of the oldest cards in my collection as a whole – Is this card from the 1932 Wills Tobacco “Homeland Events” set and it features “Cricket At Lord’s”

“Lord’s” doesn’t need any explanation in England, but for clueless Americans like myself it’s a reference to Lord’s Cricket Ground, a venue that has been in its current location since 1814. For anyone familiar with “Monty Python’s Previous Record”, you may remember Lord’s from the sketch “Eclipse of the Sun” in lines like “Well, here we are at Lord’s with this piece of smoked trout”.

Here’s the back of the card

The remainder of the cricket cards I got were a little bit newer than this 90-year-old card… in fact these cards are only four years old and all are from the 2018 Tap N Play England Lions set… If Wikipedia is to be believed, England Lions is a second-tier national club, sort of a junior varsity for the English National Team.

I won’t pretend to know anything about these cricketers, I’ll just share their cards.



This last card is another cricket venue, this one Edgbaston in Birmingham. The card back says it’s the second-largest cricket venue in England. It caught my eye because of the light towers that reach out over the field… plus it was pretty cheap and these all have an exotic air about them.

I haven’t consolidated my cricket cards into one place yet, I think this give me 9 overall.

OK, so if you’ve made it this far, I promise I’ll get something going with baseball next week.