The Most Awesome Soccer Cards In The History Of Forever!!! – Part Two

Just over two years ago I shared several Scottish Football cards (soccer to us uncultured Americans) that I’d picked up in 2009.  These cards were done using the same design as 1975 Topps Baseball…
1975-76 Topps Scottish Footballers Ian Sneddon

…And I’d declared them to be “The Most Awesome Soccer Cards In The History Of Forever!!!”  There may have been a touch of hyperbole involved… but only a touch.

And now, thanks to a recent delivery from Shoebox Legends, my collection of most awesome British footballer cards based on Topps designs has increased by 66%.

Here are the two cards, both from the 1960-61 A&BC Footballer set…  I’m not going to say much about the players depicted because you can read the card back just as easily as I can.

Ron Springett, Sheffield Wednesday.
1960 A&BC Ron Springett
1960 A&BC Ron Springett back
Ron Springett was a goalie who played for England in international competition, and playing for Sheffield Wednesday was his “day job”… hence the two listings on the front of the card.

Why is it that in North American we get teams that are nothing but “United this” and “FC that”, while England has Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion?  This is all penance for referring to the sport as “soccer”, isn’t it?

Brian Clough, Middlesbrough

This next card was for a name I knew… but I didn’t know whose name it was until I got this card.  Puzzled?  Read on…
1960 A&BC Brian Clough
1960 A&BC Brian Clough back
You see, I’ve watched far too much Monty Python, Doctor Who and other British television over my nearly 50 years…  In the process I’ve picked up lots of names and cultural references that I don’t always understand until later.

In the case of Brian Clough, “later” came with this card.  There was a quiz show parody on Monty Python’s Flying Circus (also performed on the “Live At Drury Lane” album) which briefly references Brian Clough.  Let’s put it this way… if someone asks you what is the main food that penguins eat, the answer is not “Brian Clough”.

Here’s the Drury Lane version;  If you don’t care for Python and just want to hear the actual reference, it’s at roughtly 2:10.

ANYWAY… Enough about Python and Anglophilia… Let’s get back to the cards…

1960-61 A&BC Footballers was issued in two series of 42 cards each.  Both of my new acquisitions are from series 1.  A&BC was a British company which had licensed the designs from Topps and repurposed the designs for Association Football.

As a result of the licensing agreement, the 1960 A&BC Footballer design is based on two different Topps designs from the year prior. The fronts are based on 1959 Topps Baseball…
1959 Topps Gail Harris
The font is slightly different; look at the “g” in “Gail”, “Springett” and “Clough”.

The backs are based on 1959 Topps Football, complete with “Magic Answer”.
1959 Topps Gern Nagler back

For more information on the A&BC set, you can read about it at Nigel’s Webspace, Diamond Cuts And Wax Stains, and, of course, Shoebox Legends.

Thanks again, Shane!

The Mariners Unveil Some Nice Sunday Alts In Their Original Colors

Yesterday the Mariners unveiled some new alternate uniforms they will wear for Sunday games in 2015.  The basic concept sounds simple;  the uniforms are generally the same as their normal home uniform, but done with cream-colored fabric and featuring their original colors of royal blue and gold.

The concept might be simple, but the results are wonderful… Check it out:
2014-15 Hot Stove 1968 Insert Nelson Cruz

The back of the uniforms are old school as well, as they feature larger numbers and leave the players name off the back.

The overall effect of this is really nice, but what I really love about these alts are the hosiery… Check out these Seattle Pilot-esque stirrups!
2014-15 Hot Stove 1968 Insert Awesome Stirrups
You know I’m a complete nerd when I’m making custom baseball cards to feature a uniform element that most people don’t care about.

For the record, the Mariners are going to also have a solid-color sock with the same stripes, and for other days of the week they’ll have stirrups and socks that are striped in their regular colors. With all this hosiery goodness going on, it’d be a shame if the entire team is made up of “pajama pants” guys.

For those of you who are wondering why I’ve strayed away from my “Hot Stove” set that is based on the 1974 Kellogg’s set… part of the reason is that the best photos I could find of the new alts all featured Nelson Cruz, but I’d already photoshopped Nelson Cruz into a Mariner uniform earlier this offseason:
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #10 Nelson Cruz

I thought about creating a custom in the same design and pitching it as a “variation”, but I didn’t care much for the way it turned out. The relatively narrow Kellogg’s design didn’t really allow the uniform to be showcased the way I wanted it to be.

…But I did want to maintain the faux 3-D theme, so I went with the best non-Kellogg’s option there is for 3-D cards: The 1968 Topps 3-D test issue (which was also made into a Topps Lineage insert in 2011 and an Archives insert in 2012).

I’m happy with the way this custom turned out… maybe I’ll keep this design in mind for the 2015/16 Hot Stove set.

Radical Stuff: Cardinals Unveil Alternate Uniform

2012-13 Hot Stove #6 Trevor RosenthalThe Cardinals have a classic uniform, and they know not to mess with it too much. So, when I first heard about how they’d introduced new home alternates to be worn for Saturday home games, I was a bit apprehensive, hoping it wouldn’t be an awful bright red jersey like the ones used by the Braves and Red Sox.

I needn’t have worried.

The new jersey is cream colored (which is kind of hard to see in this image) and a sort of “Fauxback”. It’s based on a 1930’s Cardinals road jersey, but that was only used as inspiration… this jersey is not meant to duplicate that uniform.

I have to say, this is one of the nicer alts in the Majors. I would definitely buy one if I were a Cardinals fan. I think it might actually look a little better as a “off the rack” jersey; I’m not sure the number on the front doesn’t detract from it a tiny bit.

The one thing I will say is that this jersey makes it 16 teams – more than half – which have placket piping on at least one of their jerseys.

Other changes introduced by the Cardinals:

  • The navy blue cap is now an alternate, not a road cap.
  • The TV numbers on the front are slightly smaller than they used to be.
  • The chain-stitched “Birds On A Bat” logo is supposed to be more detailed, but I haven’t seen any images which illustrate that.

National Show & Tell: Haute Coture

Aside from being a collector, I’m also a uni-nerd… I’m fascinated by sports uniforms, and I love to see the authentic examples on display at the National.  I featured a 1967 Tom Seaver uniform on Monday, and thought I’d share a few more examples (Auction house listed in parentheses).

1973 Padres Road Jersey (Mears)  I put this one first because it’s the most eye-catching of the bunch – not necessarily a good thing.

St. Louis Brown’s uniform (I think this might be Heritage Auctions, but I’m not 100% sure.).

Ichiro & Sadaharu Oh jerseys  (Heritage Auctions).  The Ichiro jersey is from Jackie Robinson night in 2009, and he was wearing it when he tied Isao Harimoto for the Japanese career hits record.

1972 Cubs road jersey (Mears)

1938 Babe Ruth Jersey, from his season as a coach with the Brooklyn Dodgers (Memory Lane Auctions)

One of my favorite parts of Spring Training…. Photo Day!

Each year, I get excited about Photo Day… It usually happens somewhere between when everybody reports and before the first exhibition games, and it give you the first look at team-changing players in game unifoms (as oppesed to the batting practice unis they’ve been wearing out on the fields).

Sometimes you’ll see players in a uniform they’ll never wear in an official game;  Non-roster players who won’t make the cut, prospects who won’t pan out, players who’ll get traded before Spring Training is over.

It’s also your first good look at uniform changes… There are some good shots of the Marlins uniforms, and I still don’t know what to make of their unis.  They look OK from a distance, but the closer you get, the more there is going on and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

I’ve included a couple of custom cards I made from Photo Day pictures,  just to give you an idea, but the original photos are much bigger, much more detailed and at much higher resolution.

Some photographers get a little artsy.  Many of this year’s Yankees Photo Day pictures have an odd effect which might’ve been an attempt to look old-school but to me looks more washed-out fluorescent bulb-y.  In some of the other photos I think the players are supposed to look serious or determined, but they just look like they’ve got agita.

The A’s have many of their photos taken from knee level so they look like giants… or maybe Giants?  Did they hire a photographer from the wrong side of the Bay?

I’m not going to provide any links, but if you go poking around Yahoo’s MLB pages, you’ll find some under “Photos”.  I’m sure there are plenty of other (and possibly better) places to see these photos.  Some sites (i.e. Getty Images) have what appears to be all of the photos (all the players, the managers and coaches) but those often have watermarks on them, if that matters to you.

Not all teams have had Photo Day yet, by the way… For example, I don’t think the the Mets or Orioles have had their Photo Days yet.  At least, I haven’t seen anything.

1993 Stadium Club Bryan Harvey: How much more teal can this be? None. None more teal.

I was going through some Stadium Club cards the other day, and I ran across this Bryan Harvey card.  1993 was the Marlins first year, and I’d forgotten just how much they embraced the teal in the beginning.  Look at his cap, it’s completely teal, not even a black bill on it.  I don’t think this cap lasted more than a year or two.  It’s easy to forget about teal’s dominance in the inaugural Marlins unis, given that teal was phased out to the edge of non-existence.

Gotta give the Rockies props…  They’re the only 1990’s expansion team which continues to wear the same uniform.  Just think of how many changes the (Devil) Rays went through since 1998, and that really gives you an appreciation for the longevity of the style.  Now if they’d only lose those sleveless black jerseys…

Marlin Of A Strange And Distant Time

Well, the Miami Marlins unveiled their new uniforms last night, and I have to admit, they’re a disappointment.  OK, to be fair, they’re a disappointment to me because I hate the Marlins and was hoping for an absolute train wreck, especially after seeing that (*ahem*) interesting logo a few weeks ago. (“THAT’S NOT OUR LOGO!” insists team president David Samson).  These uniforms aren’t bad looking, and I’ll admit I kinda like the font they used for the uniform numbers.  However, I have complete faith that the Marlins will throw huge bucks at a bunch of free agents, win a pile of games, and then have a fire sale to piss everybody off all over again.

You know, something about this seems very familiar… Miami sports team, black and orange, huge event to announce major changes.  (Cue Michael Palin repeatedly running into a psychiatrist’s office and saying “I have this terrible feeling of deja vu!”)

I know somebody online compared the swoopy stylized marlin in the logo to a Tron lightcycle, but after a while it occurred to me that the marlin also looked a bit like the label for Threshold Records, the label created by the Moody Blues back in the very late 1960’s:

I can tell you from experience that if you stare at that spiral-y Threshold label while the record is playing, it becomes mesmerizing.

Padres’ new uniforms

When I was a kid in the 1970’s, I thought of the NFL games on NBC as being more colorful than those on CBS.  I guess that was because the AFC games on NBC could have teams like the Dolphins, Bengals or Broncos (Back when they had orange jerseys), Jets or Chiefs, while the NFC games on CBS seemed to always be teams that had blue or black as their primary colors… Giants, Cowboys, Bears, Lions… you get the picture.

I thought about this when I saw the  new uniforms the Padres will be wearing in 2012.  There’s nothing wrong with the new uniforms, they’re pretty good looking.  The problem comes in when you look at them within the context of Major League Baseball, and we’ve got yet another “traditional” blue uniform with the team name in script.  It seems like everybody wants to be traditional, and all too often traditional means 1950’s and early 1960’s.  It’s a good look, but it’s become overdone.

I don’t know why teams are so afraid to be distinctive.  If  you take away the MLB teams with blue, navy, black or red as their primary color, what are you left with?  The A’s.  That’s it.  It would be nice if someone were to think outside the box when designing uniforms.

I’ve a feeling that when the Miami Marlins introduce their new logo and uniforms later today, the phrase “Be careful what you wish for” will come back to haunt me.