Dead Parrot Frankenset For November 2021

This is the latest in a series on an ongoing project, a “Dead Parrot” Frankenset which features cards of NHL and WHA teams which are no more, which have ceased to be (as in the line from the Monty Python “Dead Parrot” sketch). The Frankenset consists of a binder containing 44 sheets and the goal is to have it filled with cards numbered from 1 to 396, with each slot filled with a card featuring a hockey team that has gone to meet its maker.

Card #198

The challenger: 1976-77 Topps Dwight Bialowas (Minnesota North Stars)

Currently in the binder: 1995-96 Leaf Steven Rice (Hartford Whalers)

I normally would give a 1970s card advantage over a mid-1990s card, and I’m not a fan of those blue Whalers uniforms – like there aren’t enough blue-clad teams in sports – but I do like what I’ve seen of that Leaf set, and it’s a good photo…even if I don’t remember Steven Rice.  Then again, I don’t remember Dwight Bialowas either.


Card #153

The challenger: 1975-76 Topps Larry Romanchych (Atlanta Flames)

Currently in the binder: 1991-92 Stadium Club Gaetan Duchesne (North Stars)

Another 1970s card taken in front of a cinder block wall up against another 1990s card.  I like how the Duchesne card gives us a double-dose of North Stars, plus I liked Duchesne when he was with the Capitals.  Once again…


Card #182

The challenger: 1990-91 Bowman Brian Bellows (North Stars)

Currently in the binder: There is no card #182 already in the binder

Well over a year ago I tried hunting for hockey cards on COMC, looking to fill some empty spots.  I’m happy that, all this time after I initially bought it, it still fills that spot.  One more card in the binder!

Card #36

The challenger: 1976-77 Topps Gilles Meloche (California Golden Seals)

Currently in the binder: 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee WHA Rosaire Paiement (New England Whalers / Indianapolis Racers)

I agonized over this one…  I would love to get that Meloche into the binder, but he’s up against that WHA card that has a New England Whalers photo and an Indy Racers logo.  I hate to do this to Gilles, but I don’t think that card is quite good enough to dislodge Rosaire Paiement.


Card #19

The challenger: 1980-81 Topps Joel Quenneville (Colorado Rockies)

Currently in the binder: 1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Leaders Doug Jarvis (Whalers)

After challengers fall to the left and fall to the right, some agonizingly difficult to decide on, comes this easy decision.  As soon as I flipped to Page 3 in my binder to scan the current card #19, I knew this was a no-brainer. I love adding Colorado Rockies to the binder, I’ve got plenty of Hartford Whalers cards already, plus the Jarvis card is a mini which looks awkward in a 9-pocket sheet.


Wrapping up…  We added one card but did not complete any pages.  The current totals sit at 334 out of a possible 396 cards (84.3%) and 17 completed pages out of 44 total pages (38.6%).

A Four-Card Panel Of 1975 Topps Baseball

Before I get into the featured item of today’s post, I’d like to point out that today is the 10th Anniversary of The Shlabotnik Report!  I want to take this opportunity to thank ALL OF YOU for reading and commenting and making this blog fun to keep up on… Because if it weren’t fun, I wouldn’t have made it to the first anniversary.

I tried to think of a fun way to commemorate the occasion, but all I could come up with were gimmick-y ideas that I wouldn’t be able to pull off, so I instead switched to what my favorite purchase of 2021 has been.

There have been a number of things I bought this year, but none bring me quite the level of joy of this… a panel of 1975 Topps Baseball cards!

1974 was the year I started collecting, but 1975 was the year I went absolutely NUTS with collecting, and 1975 Topps falls into the category of “the house is on fire so grab this binder on your way out”… Plus, because of the colors and the way that the color on the bottom of one card is the color on the top of another just makes the whole ‘uncut sample’ idea that much better.  As Paul Simon once sang, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor”

I would’ve been excited about this regardless, but the featured players add on to my joy.  My love for Tug McGraw goes beyond my being a Mets fan, and Frank Tepedino was the source of excitement as a kid because if you look at the back of his card… (and here’s where I’ll show you the back of the panel)….

Frank Tepedino’s card said that he lived in Hauppauge, NY, and that is right around the corner from where I grew up (although Topps misspelled it as ‘Happauge’, if you can imagine that).  As a ten-year-old, this was BEYOND EXCITING and I imagined finding his house, knocking on the door and being regaled with tales of the Major Leagues.  No, I never did find out where in Hauppauge he lived… or maybe lives, because Frank is still with us, and I do know of people from my old neighborhood who have been in their houses for 50+ years.

I stumbled across this panel on COMC, and because I only had a couple of bucks of credit at the time, I fell over myself in adding credit to my account before someone else got it from me.

NOTE:  On 11/10/21 I added additional information at the bottom of this post regarding a possible origin of this panel

I’m still trying to figure out how best to store this;  it’s currently in an oversized toploader, but I would like to put it in the binder with my 1975 set… but I’m also somewhat afraid that it will get creased, which is kind of silly because I’ve got other similar-sized panels in binders and none of them have been mangled.  I think it’s just that this is now my “baby” and I’m being overprotective.

…and before I go, I had a bunch of ideas when I was brainstorming for this 10th anniversary post, and one was worth hanging on to… It’s a small playlist of songs with “Ten” or “Tenth” in the title:

I-10 West – Cowboy Mouth
10,000 Angels – Godley & Creme
4 x 10 – Loudon Wainwright III
10,000 MIles – Mary Chapin Carpenter
Ten Years Gone – Led Zeppelin
Ten Thousand Words – Avett Brothers
Ten Fingers – The Pursuit Of Happiness
Big Ten Inch Record – Aerosmith
Slaughter On Tenth Avenue – The Ventures
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out – Bruce Springsteen

…Plus anything by 10cc or 10,000 Maniacs

Update, 11/10/21

@TeddyBallpark on Twitter (see below) suggested that this panel may have originally been part of an insert into a 1975 issue of Dynamite Magazine (which was issued by Scholastic Books) and I think he may be right.  My panel is a little bit shorter than the 7″ tall you’d expect it to be if it contained the full cards, plus when I run a finger along the top I can feel that the cut was a bit unevenly… This makes me think that the top edge cut wasn’t done in the factory but was done to trim the damage the panel got from being stapled into a magazine.

A Week Of Customs: I Got A Funny New Place Where The Kids Are Hip

Another week’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter (#DailyTSRcustom)

We may have seen the last of Major League pitchers coming to bat (outside of Ohtani, of course). Zach Greinke’s pinch hit remains one of my favorite moments of the 2021 World Series.

The Padres surprised everyone (except, I suppose, the A’s) by hiring Bob Melvin as their new manager.  I used this occasion to introduce my 2022 TSR Hot Stove design

I wasn’t trying to make his cap & hoodie look airbrushed, but it certainly turned out that way and I couldn’t be more pleased

After the Atlanta Braves won the World Series I used it as an excuse to trot out my 2021 TSR Daily design and make another one of the “Managers and Coaches” inserts.

Swedish goalie Jacob Markstrom was named the NHL’s 1st Star for the week of Oct 25-31. In 3 games Markstrom allowed just 1 goal against 94 shots and helped the Flames move into 1st place in the Pacific.

My inner teenager from 1980 is miffed that the Calgary Flames are still using that uninspired Flaming C logo that pales so much in comparison to the awesomeness that was the Atlanta Flames logo. I guess I should be satisfied that they went back to the original color scheme.

Earlier this week injured center Jack Eichel was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for forwards Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs and two draft picks. I was impressed by Eichel when I saw him on TV playing for Boston University, and I’ve kept half an eye on him ever since… I hope Eichel’s neck surgery goes well and he’ll continue onwards and upwards.

I intentionally kept the photo looking like a color-modified Sabres uniform, in keeping with what might’ve been airbrushed back in the day.  I’m still getting a kick out of making customs for teams which didn’t exist in 1974/75.  I almost didn’t go with this color combination because the gold at the bottom doesn’t really contrast enough with the color of the hockey stick, but it just worked so well otherwise in representing the Knights.

The VGK logo is kind of dark in comparison to the bright 1970s design, it’s making me wish I’d put some time into making “1970s printing technology” versions of the team logos, but this was originally meant to be a low-effort project.  For an idea of what I’m talking about, check out the Diamondbacks logo in this 2013-14 TSR Hot Stove custom I’d made in the style of 1959 Bazooka:

…Moving on…

The Reds traded catcher Tucker Barnhart to Detroit early in November… Maybe not the biggest trade of the offseason, but I wanted some ‘photoshopping’ practice and catcher’s gear is pretty easy to modify.  I cheated by leaving the Reds’ sleeve striping in place and only changing the color.

After the surprise dismissal of manager Mike Schildt, the Cardinals handed the reins to Oliver Marmol, Schildt’s bench coach. I was hoping for Stubby Clapp, but you can’t always get what you want.

By the way, this Hot Stove design is very derivative of 1970s Topps and heavily borrows from designs for several sports. Due to some interest in it, I’m planning a future post on how I came up with the design.

Wrapping up with another Seattle Kraken card… This one is not a ‘base card’ but instead a “Highlights” card for the first goal scored by the Kraken. 1974/75 Topps/OPC didn’t have a Highlights subset, so I adapted the design used for the postseason subset.  Remember what I said about “low effort”?  Ha.

I could get crazy with other firsts in Kraken history… first power play goal, first hat trick… but I think I’m going to stick with just “first goal” and hope that there will be other uses for this template, Kraken or otherwise.

The title of this post was inspired by finding the Beach Boys performing “I Get Around” on the Ed Sullivan Show.  For years I though the first verse was “I get a bug drivin’ up and down the same old strip, I got a funny new place where the kids are hip”.  I would later find out that it’s “I’m getting bugged…” and “I gotta find a new place…”.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Carl Morton to Thurman Munson

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


1977 Topps #331

Played 1969 – 1976
1970’s Teams: Expos, Braves

1970’s Highlights:
In 1970, as a rookie pitcher with a 2nd year Expos team, Morton’s 18-11 record helped Montreal achieve some early respectability and got Morton the NL Rookie of the Year award; His 18 wins set a team record which would stand until Ross Grimsley won 20 in 1978; Was named the right-handed pitcher on the 1970 Topps All-Star Rookie team; Later, with the Braves, he got 15, 16 and 17 wins in his first three seasons with the Braves (1973 – 75); Was the Expos’ opening day starter in 1971 and the Braves opening day starter in 1974 and 1976

Fun Stuff:
Signed with the Milwaukee Braves as an outfielder but was converted to pitching as a minor leaguer

Card Stuff:
Appeared in 1977 Topps with the Braves, but had been traded to the Rangers in December, 1976 and was cut by the Rangers at the end of 1977 spring training… He would hook up with the Phillies’ Triple-A team for that season but never pitched in the Majors after 1976

Sad Stuff:
Morton died in 1983 at 39 years old after suffering a heart attack


1974 Kellogg’s #49

Played 1963 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
Was named to the All-Star game in 1973; Manny achieved notoriety as an excellent pinch-hitter and late in the 1979 season he set a Major League record with his 145th career pinch hit (since broken by Lenny Harris)

Career Highlights:
Was the Expos’ 1st pick in the 1968 expansion draft and was traded to the Dodgers in a June 1969 deal that also involved Maury Wills and Ron Fairly; Finished his career with a .304 batting average; Batted .300 and over in 13 of his 20 seasons (although not all of them had enough ABs to qualify for a batting title)

Fun Stuff:
Was name-dropped in the movie “Airplane!” (see video at bottom of post)

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; His 1963 rookie card lists him with the Houston Colt 45s but he was traded to the Pirates before playing a game for the Colts (and the same capless photo would be used on his 1964 Topps card)


1971 Topps #5

Played 1969 – 1979
1970’s Teams: Yankees

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the 1970 AL Rookie of the Year and the 1976 AL MVP; Seven-time All-Star and three-time starting catcher (1974 – 1976); Three-time Gold Glove winner;  A two-time World Champion, Munson batted .357 in the postseason with 3 homers, 19 runs and 22 RBI;  Hit the first Yankee home run in the remodeled Yankee Stadium, 4/17/76; Was named the 6th captain in Yankees history and the first since Lou Gehrig; Died tragically in August 1979 when the personal jet plane he was flying crashed short of the airport runway

Career Highlights:
Was a 1968 All-American with Kent State University; His #15 was retired by the Yankees and by Kent State

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps and Hostess set of the 1970s; Munson had a number of ‘cameo appearances’ on other players’ cards

Here’s the clip from “Airplane!” which name-drops Manny Mota (and no, Manny never played on the same team with Pedro Borbon)

“The Commons Challenge”: A 1959 Topps / Statis Pro Baseball Project


This is about a pandemic project of mine which combined vintage cards with Statis Pro Baseball, a tabletop baseball simulation which I’ve been a fan of for years.

I know full well that most of my readers are here for the cards, not for the baseball sims, so I’ll have all of the card stuff up front and leave the nerdier gaming aspects for the end.

So it was early in the pandemic…

…And I was looking for new ways to entertain myself.  I forget what inspired me, but I pulled my 40+ year old copy of Statis Pro Baseball out of the closet.  For those who aren’t familiar with Statis Pro, it’s a tabletop baseball game similar to Strat-O-Matic and APBA.  I’ve been a fan since I got my game as a teenager, and I wrote about it a number of years ago.

I started out playing with the seasons I had (1978 and 1989) but I also found some free PDFs of additional seasons online.  After messing with these older seasons, I realized was having more fun playing with players I didn’t know and learning about them as I played.

I eventually hit upon an idea involving the 1959 season:  I would set up a squad of lesser-known players from 1959 and see what they could do against the better teams of the day.

To help me appreciate the team I was drafting, I’d also collect 1959 Topps cards of the players on my new team… all part of the “learning and appreciating” process.

I started my “league” with the top three teams from the National League – the World Champion Dodgers, the Braves and the Giants – and the top three teams from the American League – the pennant winning “Go-Go” White Sox, the Indians and the Yankees.  I added in my Orioles to bring us to 7 teams, and then made it an even eight teams with my new invention, which I ended up calling “The Commons” because one of the criteria I used for drafting players was whether I could pick up their 1959 cards relatively cheaply on COMC.  I filled out my roster of 1959 Topps “Commons” for the proverbial “price of a blaster” and nearly tripled the number of 1959s in my collection from 13 to 36.

My new team was drafted from the remaining nine teams and since I enjoy small ball I tried to pick position players who got on base a lot and did not have an huge holes in their game.

Here’s the batting order I use for most of the games:
CF – Bill Tuttle (.300/.369/.413 in 1959)
2B – Johnny Temple (.311/.380/.430, All-Star)
3B – Eddie Yost (.278/.435/.436, league leader in walks & runs)
1B – Ed Bouchee (.285/.375/.449)

LF – Bob Skinner (.280/.357/.399)
RF – Joe Cunningham (.345/.453/.478, All-Star, league leader in OB%)
SS – Don Buddin (.241/.366/.357)
C – Ed Bailey (.264/.370/.393)

The starting rotation is…

Camilo Pascual (2.64 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, All-Star, lead league in CG & shutouts)
Jim Owens (3.21, 1.247)
Don Mossi (3.36, 1.136, 17 game winner)
Frank Lary (3.55, 1.215, lead league with a 2.98 SO/BB ratio)

The bullpen…
Mike Fornieles (3.07, 1.293)
Bill Henry (2.68, 1.020)
Elmer Singleton (2.72, 1.209, turned 41 during the season)
Chuck Stobbs (2.98, 1.169)
Pete Burnside (3.77, 1.290)

And on the bench…

Dutch Dotterer (.267/.328/.348)
Carl Sawatski (.293/.392/.480)
Dick Williams (.266/.309/.436, in the HOF as a manager)
Marty Keough (.243/.320/.418, Father of 1970s/1980s pitcher Matt Keough)

Wayne Terwilliger (.267/.335/.361)
Roy McMillan (.264/.345/.447, Gold Glove despite playing in just 79 games)
Vic Wertz (.275/.337/.413)
Rocky Nelson (.291/.379/.457)

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I designed a quickie logo and made some custom cards for this team:

I’m telling ya, I was pretty bored.

So, How Good Is This Team?

Going into this project I was hoping the team would be competitive, but I was thinking that a game or two above .500 was a best-case scenario.

The Commons opened at home against the Giants (83-71 in real life), lost the opener but took the next two games.

Next up was a West Coast swing to face the NL champion Dodgers (88-68) and the Giants again. In both series, the Commons took two of three.  After the first three series, the team was 6-3… not too shabby.

Next it was on to Chicago to face the White Sox (94-60). Once again, the Commons took two. This team was 8-4 and performing better than I’d ever imagined.

Back home, the Commons faced the Dodgers again, went up against Johnny Podres, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax… and swept the Bums. Now 12-4, it was no longer a question of whether this team could win.

The Milwaukee Brewers (86-70), behind Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette, took two games in a three-game series and it looked like a long-awaited correction was finally here.

But then the Commons swept a four game series against the Yankees (79-75, something of an off year for them).  The Commons’ record stood at 16-6 and the “challenge” began to shift from “Can I win with these guys” to “Can anybody stop these guys?”

So here’s the deal… Nobody is putting up unusual statistics compared to “real life”, but these guys all get on base… It’s unusual for the opposing pitcher, no matter how good, to put up a 1-2-3 inning.  You get enough guys on base, you can’t help but score runs and wear out even the most Hall-of-Fame-ingest pitchers… and then the bullpens get feasted on.

The Commons pitching staff is unspectacular but solid, and doesn’t really need to do more than keep the team in the game and give the offense an opportunity.

The Nerdier Statis Pro Part

So if you’re here for the baseball cards and have made it this far, I’ll forgive you if you skip the rest of this post.

The roster of the “Commons” were pulled from the nine unused teams, and in drafting the roster I set up a few rules:

  • As mentioned, only players whose cards would be considered commons and which were also included in 1959 Topps (for example, Pumpsie Green got serious consideration for a bench role until I discovered his rookie card didn’t come until 1960)
  • I avoided drafting too many players from any particular team… I didn’t want my team to be, say, the 78-76 Pirates with a few players swapped out
  • Players would keep the same roles they had in real life.  My starting rotation, for example, would have one team’s #1, another team’s #2, and so on.  Similarly, my backup catcher wouldn’t be a real-life starter, and all the bench players would be actual bench players.

Bill Tuttle was a perfect example of the type of player I was looking for… Someone who generally gets a “Who dis?” from any present-day fan, plus the closest he got to an award is finishing tied with Vic Power for 23rd in 1959 MVP voting.  His 1959 Statis Pro card shows a bunch of reasons to go with him.

Many of the other players are similar…  Not a ton of extra-base hits, but few strikeouts and a decent on-base percentage.

Some other details…

Within the game I started thinking of the team as the “St. Louis Commons”, because I created the Commons schedule by starting with the Cardinals’ 1959 schedule and swapping out teams as follows: Replace the Cubs with the White Sox, the Pirates with the Yankees, the Phillies with the Orioles and the Reds with the Indians.  I also used the “Pitchers Batting” card for the Cardinals as one I’d use when the Commons sent a pitcher to the plate.

I set up some ground rules copied from more serious Statis Pro gamers I found online.  Some are obvious, like you can’t have a reliever pitch several innings and then pitch again the next day.  Some aren’t completely obvious, but make sense (like not having a catcher play both ends of a double header)

I’m on a break from this project right now, but I played a bunch of games beyond what I wrote about above, and the team continues to win 2/3 of it’s games. It got a bit much for me and not much of a challenge, so I ended up doing a different project when I was in the mood for Statis Pro… but I’m thinking I’ll get back to it soon.

I’m honestly not sure how much interest this post will get, but I’ve been working on it on and off for… jeez… something like a year now – Although a fair part of that year was waiting for me to pull the trigger on shipping the cards from COMC, and then a couple of months waiting on the shipment.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Still More Assorted Cards From COMC – Oddballs!

I’ve got four oddballs lined up for your approval this morning…

Up first is an addition – sort of – to my 1988 Topps Master Set.  O-Pee-Chee’s version of the set included four draft pick cards – two Blue Jays and two Expos – that did not exist in 1988 Topps.  This Alex Sanchez card is one of them.

Sanchez was the 17th overall pick in the 1987 draft, but his Major League career turned out to be 3 starts and a relief appearance in 1989.

The back of the card mentions that Sanchez had set a UCLA record for career strikeouts, breaking the record held by Brent Strom.  If you’ve been watching the World Series, you’ll know that Strom is currently the Astros’ pitching coach.  How timely!

As a long-time collector I remember when one of the hottest cards in the hobby was the 1981 Granny Goose Rickey Henderson rookie card.  If it weren’t for this hobby I never would have heard of Granny Goose, which is a snack food company on the west coast.  While I never had a huge need to get the Rickey, I’ve always wanted to get at least one Granny Goose card of any year, any player.  I can finally say I have one, having picked up this 1982 Granny Goose Fred Stanley card.  Stanley is a player I liked as a kid and I semi-collect him.

The front is attractive in a less-is-more way.  The back is more of a less-is-less situation.

The next two cards were impulse buys… First up is Leon Hooten, who appeared as a Blue Jays “Rookie Pitcher” in 1977 Topps and had his own card in 1977 O-Pee-Chee, but he didn’t make the team out of spring training and never pitched again.  This 1976 Tuscson Toros card is from his time in the Athletics organization, and I bought it mainly because I really like the uniform (but wish I could see it in what I imagine was hand-me-down Oakland A’s green and Gold).

Hooten did make six relief appearances for the 1974 A’s.

Here’s the back, another very basic one to go with the very basic front.

The last card is from the 1983 Fritsch “One-Year Wonders” set and again I bought it because of the Denver Bears uniform that Tigers pitcher Tom Fletcher is wearing.  When I first started watching minor league baseball in the 1980s, many of the teams I saw wore major league hand-me-downs with a different cap (Reading Phillies, New Britain Red Sox, Nashua Pirates), so I grew to love seeing minor league teams with their own branding.

When I bought the card, all I knew about Tom Fletcher is what’s on the back of this card – his Major League career consists of two shutout innings pitched as a September callup for the Tigers in 1962.

What I didn’t know until I looked him up on Baseball Reference is that he’s the father of 1990s Major League catcher Darrin Fletcher!

There are still plenty more cards in my COMC order, stay tuned for those!

A Week Of Customs: More, More, More! How Do You Like It?

Another week’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter (#DailyTSRcustom)

Drew Carey threw out the first pitch at an Indians game in September, and I like Drew enough to make a Shlabotnik’s Picks custom to commemorate it.

I was never hugely into The Drew Carey Show, but I enjoyed him on Whose Line Is It Anyway and the follow-up cable show Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza. In fact, I think I’m going to sing a “Hoedown” in Drew Carey’s honor, with the help of Laura Hall on the piano! (Dee dee dee, dee dee deedee deedee dee!)

This past Monday Kyle Connor was named the NHL 1st Star of the prior week, having scored 5 goals with 3 assists. This is all part of my attempts to re-learn the players in the league after ghosting the NHL for 18-or-so years.

I saw a headline which referred to the duo of Steve Martin and Martin Short as “Martin, Short” and that made me think of a particular card from 1982 Fleer, so I figured I’d pay it homage.

For those who might not be familiar with the original “Steve & Carlton” card, here you go.

Even though it’s not a true “tradition” in the trading card industry, I continue to wish that a card company would issue a set featuring current automotive models… So I’m making an attempt to do my own in the somewhat larger “tallboy” size. Lucid Motors, an electric car startup, was scheduled to deliver their first cars this weekend.

I’m also continuing to make full front-and-back customs of the expansion Seattle Kraken. Vince Dunn, who turned 25 this past Friday, was drafted from the St. Louis Blues and scored the first Kraken goal at their brand new Climate Pledge Arena home.

For the cartoon on the back, I adapted a photo of Brad Park where he had his right arm sticking out, but I didn’t make it look enough like an arm, so instead it looks like he chewed a piece of Willy Wonka gum and suffered the same fate as Violet Beauregarde.

“Oompa loompa doompetee doo, I’ve got another puzzle for you…”

Free on specially-marked boxes of Shlabotnik’s Halloween Snack Cakes: Get your very own trading card of David S. Pumpkins!

Any questions???

Have a happy Halloween, everybody!

The 1970’s, A To Z: Willie Montañez to Jack Morris

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


1978 Topps Zest #4

Played 1966 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Phillies, Giants, Braves, Mets, Rangers

1970’s Highlights:
Was sent from the Cardinals to the Phillies as compensation for Curt Flood refusing to report to the Phillies after his October, 1969 deal; Got 6 first place votes in the 1971 NL Rookie of the Year voting but finished 2nd to Atlanta’s Earl Williams; Was named an outfielder on the 1971 Topps All-Star Rookie team; Hit a career-high 30 homers in his rookie season; Lead the league with 13 sacrifice flies in 1971, which was also a Phillies team record (tied by Mike Schmidt in 1980); Lead the league with 39 doubles in 1972; Was an All-Star in 1977; Had 101 RBI in 1975

Career Highlights:
Played 8 games for the Angels in 1966 after he’d been selected in the 1965 Rule V draft… however Montañez was returned to the Cardinals organization and stayed in the minors until 1970

Fun Stuff:
Was born on April Fools Day, 1948

Card Stuff:
The featured card is from a 5-card bilingual set featuring five Latino players done as part of a promotion with Zest soap.  Of the five cards, the only one with a different front is this one featuring Montañez (who was part of a 3-team trade in December 1977).  The regular 1978 Topps card of Montañez shows him with the Braves.


1976 SSPC #97

Played 1974 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Giants

1970’s Highlights:
Had a breakout 1975 rookie season, finishing 4th in Cy Young voting and winning the NL Rookie of the Year award – beating Expos catcher Gary Carter; In his ROY season, he had 15 wins and 215 strikeouts, which were second in the league behind Tom Seaver; No-hit the Braves and allowed just one baserunner (a walk), 9/29/76; Was an All-Star in 1976 and lead the league with 6 shutouts; Was the Giants’ opening day starter from 1976 to 1979; In his MLB debut he pitched 9 innings of after starter Ron Bryant was pulled after facing 7 batters without getting an out… Montefusco walked in his first plate appearance and hit a homer in his first official AB

Fun Stuff:
His nickname, “The Count”, is a play on “The Count of Monte Cristo”; Gave up the home run which resulted in Bob Watson scoring baseball’s millionth run, 5/4/1975

Card Stuff:
Because he was the Rookie of the Year before appearing a baseball card, he’s one of the few players to have a Hostess rookie card (1976); His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card and 1977 Topps Cloth Sticker were both cropped tighter than his regular Topps card


1979 Hostess #12

Played 1975 – 1986
1970’s Teams: Pirates

1970’s Highlights:
Tied the Pirates team record for stolen bases with 71 in 1977 and broke his own record with 77 in 1978… both were league-leading amounts; Scored 110 runs in 1979, second-most in the league; Hit .333 in the 1979 World Series

Career Highlights:
His career high of 96 stolen bases in 1980 remains a Pirates record, but did not lead the league — The Expos’ Ron LeFlore stole 97 that year; Still holds the top three stolen base seasons in Pirates history


1974 Topps #85

Played 1963 – 1984
1970’s Teams: Astros, Reds

1970’s Highlights:
Was named the NL MVP in 1975 and 1976; Won 2 World Series with the Reds in 1975 and 1976; Was the All-Star starting NL 2nd baseman from 1972 to 1978 and was a non-starting All-Star in 1970 and 1979; Lead league in on-base % in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1976; lead league in runs (122) in 1972; Won 5 Gold Gloves from 1973 to 1977; Was the MVP of the 1972 All-Star Game; In the 1972 MVP voting he got 5 first place votes and finished 4th

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990; 10-time All-Star; Was named to the 1965 Topps All-Star Rookie Team; Was named the Sporting News 1965 NL Rookie of the year (He finished 2nd to the Dodgers’ Jim Lefebvre in the ‘official’ voting); Was named the 1982 NL Comeback Player of the Year; His #8 was retired by the Reds in 1987; He was named to the Rawlings All-Time Gold Glove team

Fun Stuff:
On September 27, 1963 the Houston Colt .45’s had a starting lineup made up entirely of rookies, including Joe Morgan, Sonny Jackson, Jim Wynn, Rusty Staub and Jerry Grote

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps and Hostess set of the 1970s ; His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is missing the All-Star banner


1979 Topps #251

Played 1977 – 1994
1970’s Teams: Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
Lead the 1979 Tigers with 17 wins, 9 complete games, 197.2 innings pitched and 113 strikeouts, and his 3.28 ERA was the lowest ERA of any Tiger outside of closer Aurelio Lopez

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018; Five-time All-Star; MVP of the 1991 World Series; Lead the AL in wins in 1981 and 1992; Lead the AL in strikeouts in 1983; Played on three World Champions; No-hit the White Sox in 1984; His #47 was retired by the Tigers

Card Stuff:
Had a solo rookie card in the 1978 Topps Burger King Tigers regional set (flagship Topps had him sharing a “Rookie Pitchers” card with three others)

More Assorted Cards From COMC

As I’ve mentioned before, in September I got a shipment from COMC that was the culmination of 2 years of card buying on that site.  My purchasing ‘strategy’ was extremely scattershot, so I’m going to maintain that as I share them here.

Here are five more fairly arbitrary cards from that batch.

I’ll start off with the first 1952 Bowman card in my collection, this lovely sample of the St. Louis Browns’ Dick Kryhoski, a first baseman who played in 7 seasons for the Yankees, Tigers, Browns, Orioles and Athletics and – at least according to Baseball Reference – is the only Major Leaguer to have been born in Leonia, NJ.

I have few cards from the early 1950s because my focus was largely elsewhere, but 1952 cards also have little representation because the teams I collect didn’t exist yet.  While the Browns would move to Baltimore and become my Orioles, I picked this card up because it was a nice example of a card of an extinct team.

The card was also pretty cheap due to some minor paper loss on the back, something I am not concerned about.

This is my 6th card from 1952… I also have 2 from 1952 Topps and 3 from 1952 Red Man.

Just a quick note about the Kryhoski card… He was obtained from the Tigers in February, 1952 and both Bowman and Topps reflected that trade in their 1952 sets.  If a similar trade happened in the 1960s or 1970s then we might’ve waited until the following season to see a February transaction reflected in a card set.

This next card is also Bowman, at least by name.  I don’t really remember why I bought this 2019 Bowman Heritage card of Rockies’ prospect Colton Welker, other than I think I saw him play for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats.  This will not be the last time I tell you “I don’t know why I bought this card, but…”.

This is my first card from the recent Topps 3-D parallel online exclusive sets.  This doesn’t scan in 3-D, obviously, but it’s a nice card.  Over the past couple of years I’ve realized that I’m something of a snob when it comes to cards like this.  I love 3-D cards that are like Kellogg’s and simulate three-dimensions, something this card does.

However, cards like Sportflics leave me cold… I don’t know, maybe because I didn’t grow up with them.

Update:  Sportflics isn’t a great example, but I was thinking of things like 1995 Pinnacle UC3 and other supposedly 3D sets which are lenticular but aren’t as good.

A while ago I was writing about Beth Bruce, who was Miss Winston in the 1990s and showed up in a couple of NASCAR sets. Here’s Ms. Bruce on a 1992 MAXX Racing card I’ve had for nearly 30 years.

Back then I was into NASCAR and had a thing for Beth Bruce.  It recently occurred to me that maybe I should see if there are any cards of her that I could chase after. I couldn’t find any cards like this one where she had a cameo appearance (this card is for Harry Gant’s win at Martinsville in 1991’s Race 24), but I found that she has a card in a small set called 1992 Biker Scene / Bikers of the Racing Scene

It’s not the best card of Beth Bruce, but it’s one I didn’t have.  According to the back of the card the bike belongs to Michael Waltrip, and behind are are Mr. Waltrip, Rick Wilson, Richard Childress, Danny Culler and Don Tilley.

OK, time to wrap up with Mike Marshall, a dominant relief pitcher who who apparently didn’t see eye to eye with Topps and their photographers.  I couldn’t resist this nice photo of him with the Expos, a team he pitched for from 1970 to 1973.

This card is from a 1993 Donruss / McDonald’s set which commemorated the Expos’ 25th season – I assume this set was issued in Montreal, but I know almost nothing about it.  All I know is that I saw it and said “Oh, baby… I’ve got to get that”.

And that’s it for this batch… Believe me I’ll be back, I’ve got plenty more to share.

Giving Away Cards At Halloween: 2021 Edition

This is a post I originally published in 2012 and revised a couple of times since then; I think about re-running it each year before Halloween, but usually I don’t remember it until November, when I say “Oh, crap, I should’ve run that Halloween post”.

Since around 2007 or 2008 we’ve given out baseball cards along with the candy at Halloween. It’s become a fun tradition, and I thought I’d share it with everybody just in case I can inspire someone else to spread the hobby a tiny little bit.

I can’t take credit for this idea; I originally got the idea from an article in Sports Collectors Digest years ago, and it pretty much covered the same things I’m going to show you here. I think I may have saved the article, but who knows where it is.

The general gist of this is that I take unwanted recent cards – often they’re doubles from busting packs, sometimes they’re cards from repacks – break them down into stacks of 20-30 cards each, put them into snack-size resealable plastic bags and put them in our Halloween bowl along with the usual candy.

We make sure that we tell the kids that they can take both cards and candy, because some of them are too quiet or polite to take more than one thing.

I have to say, this has worked out really well. The kids get excited about it, they enjoy getting something different, they get some pretty decent cards, and we’ve found that the kids do remember us from year to year.

…and I get unwanted cards out of the house and into more interested hands.  Over the last six times we’ve done this, we gave out about 3800 cards.

Here’s how I go about making my homemade “repacks”…

Every time I get recent base cards and low-end inserts which I don’t want, I put them into a “Halloween box”, and in late October I go to this box to make my packs. Since I’ve been doing this for a while, i usually have “carryover” cards from previous years, but I always pull out the cards that are more than a few years old… Usually it’s 3 or 4 years old, but given how few 2021 cards I have this time around, I might push it a little farther back.  The main thing I want to emphasize is that I’m not using this as a way to unleash 1988 Donruss cards on unsuspecting children.

My general objective in putting these together is to get something good in every pack, and to spread cards out evenly among packs, so that we don’t get one kid who gets a pack full of Marlins from 2019 Donruss while another kid gets a pack full of stars.

I like to think the selection of cards is pretty good… Nobody’s going to run home and sell their cards on eBay, but If you bought one of my packs at a dollar store, you wouldn’t be unhappy.

So, my first step is to sort the cards into stacks by set sets…

…this allows me to distribute the cards more evenly between packs. While I’m sorting cards into sets, I pull out the cards that I don’t think would interest the kids.  This used to be managers and team cards, but now it’s mainly the ‘legendary players’ in sets like Topps Archives. Your average Trick-Or-Treater is not going to care about players from before their parents were born.

Another kind of card I pull out of the initial sort is the big names that any casual baseball fan is going to recognize… Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Shohei Ohtani, and so on. I pull these out so that I can make sure that each repack has at least one superstar.

Now that I’ve got all these stacks, I make a rough guess as to how many packs we’ll need – this year it’ll be 40 packs – and start dividing each stack of cards from a particular set into 40 smaller stacks. This is done so that cards from each year/brand (i.e. 2020 Topps, 2021 Heritage, etc.) are fairly equally distributed between packs.

After I’ve made 40 stacks of commons, I go back to those star players and evenly distribute them among the stacks.

Just to make sure I’m not inadvertently “Bipping” some 6 year old, I’ll quickly thumb through each stack, looking for excessive duplicates of particular players or teams. Here are the cards which was in one of my packs:

Next, I’ll take each stack, put the best cards on the top and bottom, and insert it into a snack-sized resealable bag, like so.


Team bags could also be used;  I think about doing that each year but I never think ahead to buy new team bags and the ones I do have are generally well-used and often have something like “10 OPC WHA Cards – $5” written on them in Sharpie.  At any rate, the snack bags work just fine.

Sometimes we get a kid who asks if we have any cards of a certain team, so I started keeping a handful of loose cards for the more popular teams where I live.

I’ll also sometimes make a pack or two of other sports, if I have the cards.  I  think this  year I might have enough cards to make a couple of packs of football.

So, there you go… It’s a “win” for everybody… I get cards out of my house, I enjoy seeing the kids who get excited about it, and the kids get something fun along with the candy… and maybe, just maybe I’ll get someone interested in collecting cards.