Four From The Sixties

I’m a lifelong Mets fan, so it’s no coincidence that all of these cards have a Mets connection… but don’t worry, it’s safe reading for fans of all teams.

Donn Clendenon was the MVP of the 1969 World Series, but in 1964 he was the Pirates’ starting first baseman.
1964-topps-donn-clendenon
In case you’re wondering about Clendenon starting at 1st for the Pirates when future Willie Stargell was on the  team… Pops was a 24-year-old all-star who split his time between first and left.

Roy McMillan’s 1964 card shows him with the Milwaukee Braves, but after a May trade he spent the bulk of the season as the Mets’ starting shortstop.
1964-topps-roy-mcmillan
McMillan was an All-Star twice and won three Gold Gloves, all with the Reds in the late 1950’s. He managed the Brewers for two games in 1972 (in between Dave Bristol and Del Crandall) and managed the Mets after Yogi Berra was fired in August, 1975, but wasn’t brought back in 1976.

I have something of a Ron Hunt player collection, and I’m not entirely sure why.  I’m sure many of you can identify with that.  Sure, he was one of the Mets first young stars, and the first Met to start an All-Star game (in 1964), but I have a nearly-complete run of Ron Hunt Topps cards, from his early cards with the Mets through the Dodgers, Giants, Expos and unfortunate 1975 airbrushing into something approximating a Cardinals’ cap (and he only played 5 games with St. Louis).
1967-topps-ron-hunt
The main piece coming back to the Mets in the Ron Hunt trade was Tommy Davis, and interestingly enough both players played just one season for their new teams.  Before the 1968 season Hunt was traded to the Giants and Davis to the White Sox.

Finally, we’ve got Norm Sherry listed with the Mets, but he was photographed in a Dodgers uniform and had the logo airbrushed out.
1963-topps-norm-sherry

Sherry would play 1963 with the Mets and 1964 with the AAA Buffalo Bisons before retiring and becoming a minor league manager.  Sherry would manage the California Angels in 1976 and 1977 and would appear as a “thumbnail” on the 1977 Angels team card.

Two 1960’s Mets And Little Text (I Used Up All My “Hobby Time”)

I gained some traction in my organizing efforts this week, but in the process I left myself almost no time for blogging.

Among my newer scans were two 1960’s Mets cards I got on COMC, one a HOFer and the other a player that many have argued should be a HOFer. I figured these cards didn’t need a lot of backstory, so here they are.

1964 Topps Casey Stengel
1964-topps-casey-stengel

1962 Topps Gil Hodges
1962-topps-gil-hodges

Two more steps towards completing my 1960’s Mets team sets, a goal that may never be reached because of the Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan rookie cards. …But hey, one has to try, right?

Shlabotnik Quality Assortment: Just Your Basic Show & Tell

No lead-in today, right to the cards. Oh, wait, is that a lead-in?

I don’t remember buying this Billy Williams card at a recent card show, but here it is mixed in with the other card show scans. I suppose the fact that I don’t remember buying it probably indicates that I didn’t spend a whole lot on it.
1972 Topps Billy Williams

I do remember this Thurman Munson. It’s always nice to pick up a star player on a Hostess card, that’s one fewer I have to deal with. I wonder who the older gentleman in the background is…
1975 Hostess Thurman Munson
My issues with Hostess goes a long way towards mirroring issues I have with my collection. I would ideally like to complete all five sets, but that’s a very long term goal. I might make better progress if I focus on one of the five… 1975 is 41% complete… but would I miss any bargains for the other four sets? This is why I don’t publish goals at the beginning of the year with everybody else.

I knew that Gus Triandos was an All-Star and a fan favorite on some not-good Orioles teams in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, but I somehow missed that he was involved in the largest trade in MLB history.
1958 Topps Gus Triandos
The original trade had the Yankees trading Triandos, Gene Woodling, Hal Smith, Willy Miranda, Jim McDonald, Harry Byrd and players to be named later to the Orioles for Don Larsen, Bob Turley, Billy Hunter and players to be named later. Several weeks later, each team named four players-to-be-named, including Darrell Johnson, who would later manage the Red Sox, Mariners and Rangers. In all 17 players were involved in this trade.

This card is interesting in that Bill Virdon replaced Danny Murtaugh as the manager of the Pirates… and Danny Murtaugh would replace Bill Virdon as the manager of the Pirates. It helps to know that Danny Murtaugh had four different stints managing the Bucs.
1964 Topps Bill's Got It Murtaugh Virdon
Somewhere along the line I’ve become a Bill Virdon collector. Virdon was the Yankees manager back when I was young, naive and thought it was OK to like both the Mets and the Yankees. He’d also managed the aforementioned Pirates, as well as the Astros and Expos. Later in life, I started picking up baseball cards of players who I remember as managers in the 1970’s… between that and seeing Virdon patrolling center field while watching Game 7 of the 1960 World Series when it was broadcast several years ago, I somehow latched on to Virdon without fully realizing it.

The 2016 State Of The Union Address (Weigh-In #53)

Ladies and Gentlemen… The President of The Shlabotnik Report

Madam Speaker… Mister Subwoofer…  Members of the Blogosphere… My fellow Collectors…

TSR State Of The Union

2015 was a notable year for The Shlabotnik Report and for the collecting community.  Flagship Topps had an outstanding design; Stadium Club’s photography had everybody talking.  A lot of accomplishments were made, but there are a lot of challenges remaining as we move into a new year.

However, 2015 was also a year without structure, a year of following impulses rather than pursuing the declared objectives.  There’s a lot of good to be said about following  impulses and doing what feels right at the moment, but the end result is a number of unfinished projects, unopened packs and box sets.

While we’ve been successful in keeping our spending in line with previous years, and also in keeping a handle on incoming cards, the fact is that we’ve had a large drop-off in the number of exports in the form of cards leaving the house.  As you can see from this table…

2012 2013 2014 2015
Inbound 4,335 5,378 5,337 4,200
Outbound 8,894 19,677 8,562 2,881
Added 1,719 3,223 2,833 2,322
Removed 2,389 3,908 3,202 1,189

…During Fiscal 2015, the number of cards leaving the house (listed in the “Outbound” row on the above table) were significantly down from prior years.  While it’s true that 2013 was an aberration caused by the recycling of large quantities of junk wax doubles, the truth remains that 2015’s totals were still nearly 6,000 cards below the previous lowest amount.  Similarly, the number of cards removed from the collection were down in 2015.  Better efforts need to be made to return these to their previous levels.

In light of these shortcomings and challenges, a series of initiatives are being considered;  some may be implemented as they stand, some may be modified before being implemented, others may get vetoed.

While a “budget” has often been referred to in this blog, the truth of the matter is that “I’m on a budget” is often a euphemism for “I’m cheap”.  That being said, I don’t have a handle on how much is spent on the hobby during any given year.  One initiative being considered for 2016 is tracking the money spent on cards, mainly out of curiosity but also to see whether the return on investment is there for certain expenditures (i.e. lunchtime Target runs).

Similarly, alternate retail strategies are being considered.  In 2014 and 2015, the plan was to buy factory sets of flagship Topps while getting most of the pack-busting stimulus from Heritage.  Studies have concluded that while factory sets are economically prudent, there is a significant shortfall in the amount of “fun”.  While Heritage expenditures will continue in fiscal 2016, alternates to the factory set strategy are being explored.

One such strategy being floated is to focus more on Opening Day than on flagship Topps, which would allow for an easier set-building goal plus more enjoyable inserts.  However, it’s recently come to this administration’s attention that 2016 Opening Day will no longer have 3-D cards, which diminishes the projected return on the Opening Day investments.

An initiative being explored is a two-pronged effort to devote more time towards domestic resources rather than imported resources;  in other words, being more involved with cards already in the house rather than those in stores or on COMC. Part of this initiative would involve spending more time and energy with cards already in the collection, while the other part would involve exploring the vast cardboard reserves believed to exist on the surface of my dining room table.

One obvious place where cutbacks can easily be made are with inserts and with current cards of retired players.  More and more studies are finding that inserts provide a short-term level of enjoyment;  they may seem appealing when acquired, but later become something of an afterthought.  I’m proposing a more strenuous screening process that would allow entry only to those inserts and retired players who fall into the collection in some predefined way.  For instance, Cal Ripken would be allowed, as there’s a established Cal PC.  Nolan Ryan would be welcomed if pictured with the Mets, but Nolan Ryan with any other team would be turned away… This is due to a distinct surplus in non-vintage Nolan Ryan cards.

Finally, several existing programs, – “1966 Batman” project and the “Steelers Team Sets” project, just to name two  – will be temporarily put on hold and reevaluated at an undetermined future date.

In conclusion, we are pleased with the state of the collection as well as that of The Shlabotnik Report, and there is no doubt that 2016 will be a landmark year for both.

For additional statistics on 4th quarter performance, I refer you to the following statistics, illustrated by some imports from The Republic Of COMC.

The numbers here reflect changes since September 14th.

Net change in the collection since 9/14/15: +147 (442 added, 295 purged)

Net change to the # of cards in the house since 9/14/15: -1425 (1304 in, 2729 out)

1964 Topps George Brunet

In the below figures, “to date” means since I started tracking this stuff on 10/16/2011.

Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 11,784

Net change to the collection, to date: -1,476

1966 Topps Mike McCormick

Total # of cards which have left the house, to date:  44,743

Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -25,533

1967 Topps Jack Baldschun

Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 51,662

Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 17,623

1970 Topps Joe Moeller

…which means I’ve got at least 69,285 cards in my collection.

Thank you, and good night.

1961 Topps Joe Christopher

Thoughts On The Mets, Plus Recently Acquired Mets Cards

I’ve been pretty quiet about the playoffs so far, and I would guess that some of you are wondering why a Mets fan hasn’t weighed in on the subject.

I’ll admit, part of my silence was not wanting to jinx the Mets.
1969 Topps Cleon Jones

When this season started, my expectations were “This is the year we don’t suck!” A wild card spot would be cool, but being something other than painful to watch (not to mention putting the whole “LOLMets” meme to bed) was my wish for the season.
1992 Stadium Club Dwight Gooden
Halfway through the season, that’s about what it looked like. The Mets were a decent team, but didn’t look like world-beaters.

…But then again, neither did the Nationals (despite all the preseason talk of 100 wins and a championship).
1997 Pinnacle Denny's Todd Hundley
Then the Mets made a move where they actually traded away prospects for major league talent, rather than the other way around. They picked up Kelly “The Happy Wanderer” Johnson and Juan Uribe for two fringey pitching prospects. I liked the deal, and thought that would be THE big move towards acquiring mid-season help. After all, the Mets weren’t going to be serious contenders until next year, right?

2013 Topps Archives Howard Johnson
They also picked up Tyler Clippard to bolster the bullpen, another nice trade to help the team without selling out on the future.

Then, much to my surprise, they picked up Yoenis Cespedes. It was at that point that I realized that they had more than meaningful September baseball in mind.

2013 Topps Finest Matt Harvey
But all along, I kept in mind that this wasn’t necessarily supposed to be happening. I enjoyed the Nationals falling apart because that franchise’s arrogance annoys the crap out of me (a subject for another post, another day), but I didn’t get carried away about the division title… Hell, both wild card teams had better records than the Mets.
1962 Topps Gus Bell
I tried to keep in mind that the Mets, like Dante in the movie “Clerks”, were “not even supposed to be here today”.

They beat the Dodgers, which was thoroughly enjoyable because I’d run across a fair number of Dodger fans who were beating their chests about how unbeatable Kershaw & Greinke were…. Plus I’m still pissed about the Dodgers beating the Mets in the 1988 NLCS.
1964 Topps Jim Hickman
The Cubs made the NLCS difficult for me because the Cubs were my second-favorite team in the postseason and I have a few friends who are Cubs fans. As games between the Mets and Orioles have taught me, it’s harder to enjoy a game when you like both teams.

…which is why, after the Mets swept the Cubs, I switched my AL rooting interest to the moderately obnoxious Royals. I decided that, win or lose, the World Series would be more fun with a bad guy. Hopefully I won’t come to regret that.
1967 Topps Bob Shaw
So here we are, on the cusp of Game 1. I still maintain my mindset that this season is already an overwhelming success, and anything else is just gravy. Sure, I want the Mets to win, but given all the unexpected joys of this season, all I really ask for is that the World Series be fun to watch.
1970 Topps Tom Seaver
Let’s Go Mets!

Vintage Cards With Nothing In Common (Other Than The Whole “Vintage” Thing)

If you’re looking for anything cohesive or with a unifying theme, well… Keep looking.

I got this Willie Davis sometime in 2013 and I can’t remember if there was a specific reason for it, or if it was an “it’s cheap and a nice-looking card, what the heck, toss it on the pile” purchase.
1969 topps Willie Davis
For a guy who was as reknowned for his fielding – he won 3 Gold Gloves and frequently lead center fielders in fielding %, putouts and assists – he seems to always be pictured posing with a bat. Just a quick scan through his cards on COMC I find 16 batting poses, 5 batting action shots, 3 on-deck circle poses, 14 portraits, and a Topps insert poster that also shows him running. Doesn’t matter if it’s Topps, Bell, Post, Kellogg’s, Milton Bradley, Transogram, SSPC, TCMA… Ruboffs, stamps, candy lids, Supers, coins… 38 photos but not an outfielder’s glove to be seen. I dunno, I just thought it was interesting.

Also, if one discounts reprints and buybacks, there are damn few Willie Davis cards from the last 35 years.  Memo to the Topps Archives product manager… We want Willie!

I’ve been collecting for over 40 years without ever taking a break (dang, I’m old) and in all that time, I’d never owned a 1954 card until I picked up this one last year.
1954 Topps Roy McMillan
Because I’m primarily a Mets fan, I just never made a huge effort to pick up any pre-Mets cards unless they more-or-less fell in my lap, and I guess no 1954’s ever did.  It may not be the best card to be the sole 1954 in my collection, but it’s got as much of a Mets connection as any 1954 card might have; Roy McMillan played for the Mets, was a coach with the Mets and served as interim manager in August and September of 1975.

“McMillan!  Mmmmmmmm!”  (Let’s see if anyone gets a “Beyond The Fringe” reference)

1957 is a funny set.  I like the design in theory, but it’s in the execution where so many 1957 cards fail.  This Bob Boyd card is a fairly good specimen in that there’s fairly decent contrast between the text and the photo.
1957 Topps Bob Boyd
1957 was a breakout year for the 37-year-old Boyd, who’d spent most of his career in the Negro Leagues and in the minors. He finished fourth in the AL in batting average, lead the league in putouts, was second on the team in runs scored and was the first Oriole to hit .300 over the course of a season.

Felix Mantilla was one of the better players on the 1962 Mets… this card wasn’t so much “I want a Felix Mantilla!” as it is “I want a 1964 card and here’s a Mantilla, that works”.
1964 Topps Felix Mantilla

Since I can’t think of much else to say about this Mantilla, I’m going to share a Top 5 list of songs that contain “Easy” in the title.  There’s a reason behind “Easy”, but it has nothing to do with nothing and you might as well consider it completely arbitrary. The songs are in the order in which I found them – see, that’s arbitrary as well!

“Take It Easy” – The Eagles
“Nothing Is Easy” – Jethro Tull
“It Don’t Come Easy” – Ringo Starr
“Easy Livin’ ” – Uriah Heap
“Easy Money” – Billy Joel

Honorable (and not so honorable) Mention:  “It’s So Easy” – Linda Ronstadt (or Buddy Holly, if you prefer);  “Easy To Crash” – Cake;  “Pure And Easy” – The Who;  “Over Easy” – Booker T & The MG’s;  “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” – The Eagles;  “Easy Target” – The MEN; “Easy To Be Hard” – Three Dog Night;  “Easy Lover” – Phil Collins & Philip Bailey;  “Easy” – Barenaked Ladies;  “Easy” – The Commodores;  “It’s Easy” – Boston


In The Blogroll Penalty Box
A little over a week ago I angered the Blogroll Gods by absent-mindedly using a 3.3MB Jpeg as my “primary image”.  Blogger could be heard muttering “…and the horse you rode in on” and since then my blog has been taking many hours to appear on blogrolls.

I’ve been posting every day since this happened, so if you think I’ve been quiet lately, you might want to scroll through the recent posts and see if you’d missed anything.

I Do Not Know What A “Rheum” Is

I am so far behind in sharing my new acquisitions…

HOW FAR BEHIND ARE YOU?

…I’m so far behind that I’ve almost caught up to myself. Every time I go to a show or order off COMC I scan all the vintage cards and some of the more interesting post-vintage things, but for the most part the scans just build up because I never get around to writing about them.

This post is the first attempt to catch up, and all three cards are of Don Zimmer in his post-Dodger playing days.

Don Zimmer got around a bit in the early 1960’s. Shortly before the start of the 1960 season, the Dodgers traded Zimmer to the Cubs for a package of players and cash. He stayed with the Cubs for two seasons before being drafted by the Mets in the October, 1961 expansion draft.

There techically aren’t any Mets in the 1962 Post set – I guess because they used photos from 1961 and didn’t do any airbrushing – but if you look at the last line of text on this card, you can see there are cards which reference the fact that the featured player was drafted by the Mets.

1962 Post Don Zimmer
The Gil Hodges card (which I don’t have) has a similar line on it.

One of the Mets’ objectives in putting together that first team was to obtain players who would be familiar to the New York baseball fan, and Zimmer certainly fell into that category. Despite that, he only played 14 games for the Mets before he was (mercifully?) traded to the Reds.

Zimmer finished 1962 in Cincinnati, but during the following winter was traded to the Dodgers for a minor leaguer.

Anyone care to guess whether these are Cubs pinstripes or Mets pinstripes on this Dodgers card?
1963 Topps Don Zimmer

His second stint in LA was short, because he was sold to the Senators that June. He’d finish out his major league career with 2.5 seasons in D.C., after which he played one very unspectacular season in Japan.

1964 Topps Don Zimmer

…and if you’re wondering what the subject line has to do with any of this…

…”Zimmer” is the German word for “room”… or “rheum”, if you prefer.

“Shoulda Been” 2013 Heritage #2: Ichiro Suzuki

Video

Ichiro is missing from 2013 Topps products, and if there’s been any explanation for that beyond the obvious, I haven’t seen it.

It doesn’t seem right that Ichiro doesn’t have a Topps card, so here’s a custom Heritage card:

2013 Schmeritage Ichiro Suzuki

Since Ichiro, or someone representing him, doesn’t want to play nice with collectors, I’m not going to play nice with Ichiro; I created this custom using his last name. So there, Mr. Suzuki. Nanny nanny boo boo.

I have an outstanding request (or really two requests) for more “Shoulda Been” Heritage cards, and I’ll get to those as soon as I have time to make them.

Meanwhile, if there’s someone who you think should have a Topps card and doesn’t, leave a comment and I’ll try my best to rectify the situation.

Mets Monday: 1964 Pumpsie Green

I’ve been familiar with Pumpsie Green for a long time.  He was the first African-American player the Red Sox ever had (they were the last to integrate), and he has such a great name;  we need more Major Leaguers named “Pumpsie”.

I was surprised to find that Pumpsie had only played 17 games for the Mets;  the other 327 games in his Major League career came with the Red Sox. I associate Pumpsie with the early Mets so I guess I’d lost track of how little time he actually spent with the team.

I was also surprised to find out that this is Pumpsie’s brother:

It’s a good day when I can work the Mets and 1975 Topps Football into the same post.

It occurs to me that the 1964 card design is one we’ll all be getting worked up about in a few months when Heritage comes out.  If I’m not mistaken, this is the first set Topps did where the colors on the card are specific to each team rather than random.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I got this Pumpsie Green card at The National.