2021 Heritage: Blame It On The Minis

This is the second in a small series of posts where I deconstruct, slice and dice the 2021 Heritage design that is meant to be “in the style” of 1972 Topps.  If you missed the previous post, you can see it here.

This time around I’m focusing mainly on the team names at the top of the cards… which are, after all the most significant part of the design.

Many of you know this already, but pretty much everything that’s “wrong” with 2021 Heritage originated with the 1972 Mini inserts that came in packs of 2013 Topps flagship.

Substituting red for pink on the Cubs and Indians cards? Blame it on the minis.

“ROCKIES” looks more like it says “ROOKIES”? Blame it on the minis.

“MARLINS” sags off to one side? Blame it on the minis.

Just to make this all absolutely clear, we’re mainly talking about those teams which either didn’t exist or had a different name in 1972, forcing Topps to try to digitally re-create something which had been created in a different medium.  These teams are are (in chronological order) the Athletics, Blue Jays, Mariners, Marlins, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Rays and Nationals.

“Wait a minute,” I hear you cry, “Athletics? They were around in 1972!”

Yes, they were around in 1972, but at the time “A’s” was not just a contraction, the official name of the team was the “Oakland A’s” for much of the 1970s.

I believe that the licensing agreement with MLB requires Topps to use the official name of the team, so just like we don’t see abbreviations like ‘Yanks’ or ‘Cards’ like we sometime got in vintage sets, we also don’t get anything like A’s, D-Backs, Jays or Nats for this (or any) set.

One thing that is interesting about comparing the Athletics cards for the 2013 Minis and 2021 Heritage is that they changed the color between 1972 and 2013, and then back again from 2013 to 2021.  As you can see above, the 1972 A’s cards had a predominantly red border with orange and yellow accents.

For the 2013 Minis, the changed the main border color to blue with light blue and yellow accents (a color combination they overdid with the Minis and Heritage, but I’ll get into the colors more in the next post)

For 2021 they changed it back to red while leaving the “ATHLETICS” in place.


Before I go any further, it’s important to point out that I have absolutely no formal training in the graphic arts… I’m self-educated, so if I get terminology wrong or I’m just full of it, let me know in the comments and I will make corrections.


If you don’t know exactly what is wrong with the new attempts at the 1972 team names, I’m hoping that some of this will give you a better understanding of what is wrong with what they did.

First off, the team names were designed to give them a sort of 3-D effect by having lines from the letters stretch back behind the photo and towards a vanishing point.

So what’s a “vanishing point”?

If you’re trying to illustrate something like a cube suspended in space, the lines from the sides of the cube should appear as if they are parallel lines which seem to converge in the distance… like looking straight down railroad tracks which appear to converge on the horizon.

In the following example, I created an image of a cube by creating a square,  then drawing three lines from the corners to a vanishing point that I’d picked, and finally filling in the one side and bottom to simulate a cube.  If I’d wanted to make just a cube, I’d be deleting the remainder of the lines heading off towards the vanishing point.

The same is true for the lettering in 1972 Topps and 2021 Heritage. If you extended the lines, they should meet at a vanishing point (which, in this case, would be behind the photo of the player.  Here’s an example where I took a 1972 A’s card and used green lines to extend the lettering to the vanishing point:

I also did the same with an Athletics card from 2021 Heritage, and as you can see, it does not work the same way. The extended green lines mostly meet in a general area, but not at the same point (looking much like a platoon of Star Wars stormtroopers firing their blasters).  On top of that, that C over on the right is completely doing its own thing…

At first I wasn’t sure what the heck they were thinking with that C, but then I realized that they “borrowed” a C from the Cardinals cards… only the Cardinals C is on the left hand side of the card and they put it on the right and rotated it, so that’s why stuff is pointing off in a completely wrong direction.  On the left is the beginning of 1972 “CARDINALS”, on the right is the end of 2021 “ATHLETICS”

I have another example of Topps cobbling letters together in a not-great way, but first I want to get into another thing that Topps consistently got wrong.


Even though the team names are arched over the border around the photo, it’s important to notice that the letters are still oriented vertically.  The straight up-and-down letters like I, T, E and L are arranged so that they are still up-and-down despite being arched.  I tried to illustrate this with the PHILLIES:

As you can see, the P, H, I, L and E are clearly standing “straight up” and parallel to each other.

By comparison, let’s look at the BLUE JAYS from 2021 Heritage.

See the difference?  The B, Y and E aren’t too bad, but the L and U are tilted towards the left and the J is tilted way over to the right.  It’s one of those things that might have registered with you as “I don’t know what’s wrong with this, but it’s wrong”.


As I mentioned earlier in the post, the Marlins team looks like it sags off to one side – “LINS” is much lower than “MAR” – but it’s not unique to the Marlins cards.

Here’s another visual…  The two orange blotches I added to the image below are the same size, and you can see that the left blotch touches the bottom of the “M”, but the right blotch almost reaches the middle of the letter S:


For the five people who get the reference… you’re welcome.

OK, so the “O” in the name NATIONALS has particularly bothered me all along because stands out as not fitting with the other letters.

With the vertically arched letters of the prior section in mind, I figured that this was a case of taking an overly wide “O” from one team and shoehorning it into place without worrying overly much about whether it fits.  I’m pretty sure that “O” came from ASTROS.

You can tell the “O” is not upright by the “cleft” (for lack of a better term) on the left-hand side of the letter… They rotated the whole thing a bit so that the lines are pointing (more or less) at the vanishing point.

Thing is, though, ASTROS is a shorter word than NATIONALS and the letters were made a bit wider on the shorter names.  The O doesn’t really match up with the other letters.

Here’s where things become a tremendous shame.

If they had instead taken the “O” from the middle of “ORIOLES” it’s a far better fit.

I tried a little exercise where I took a scan of the Nationals card, overlay-ed it with the O from ORIOLES, reduced the size of the O a bit and also moved it so that there is a little space between the O and the N just to the right of it.

Check this out… Topps on top, mine on the bottom.

To my eye that’s a significant improvement from 5-10 minutes of work.  To make another semi-obscure reference, I’ll paraphrase the B-52’s song “Dance This Mess Around” and ask…

“Say, doesn’t that make it look a lot better, huh?”

“What you say?”

“Well, I’m just askiiiiiiiin’…”


There’s a joke-not-a-joke question that has come up in numerous places I’ve worked at before:  “Do you want it done fast, or do you want it done right?”

I work as a programmer/analyst, so it never fails that when the answer is “I want it done fast”, then a couple of years down the road someone will want to save time by basing new work on the original rushed project, forcing me to either bite my tongue or admit “Well, that’s NOT my best work…”

I kind of suspect that Topps in 2013 said “Don’t sweat the details, it’s just a mini insert” while Topps in 2021 said “Hey, the heavy lifting is already done!  Let’s tweak what’s already there and knock off early for lunch”.  Leading up to 2021 I had suspected that this would be coming, but I kinda hoped someone at Topps would realize that the 2013 Minis was not their best work.


I’ve got one more post in this series, but for the most part it will be more along the lines of “Well, isn’t that an interesting difference” more than it is about “This is why it looks wrong to people who’ve spent a lot of time with 1972 Topps”.

2021 Heritage: Standardized Stars And Anti-Pinkites

I’ve got a backlog of ideas I don’t seem to find time for.

I’ve finally picked up a few packs of 2021 Heritage cards.

I’ve got hopes that I can get more activity on this blog if I don’t try to write a doctoral thesis each time out.

So in thumbing through my modest stack of Heritage cards, I’ve noticed a number of things about the set, and I thought that someone will find my nerdy ramblings to be of interest… So here’s the first of what may be a small series of posts.


One thing I hadn’t noticed from other people’s cards is that the two teams which had primarily magenta (pink) borders in 1972 Topps now have red borders while the other teams which were in 1972 Topps maintained the same colors… at least that I’ve noticed.  Now I’m afraid someone will point out something I missed.

The Cubs were magenta, now they’re red.

Same for the Indians.

I’m genuinely curious about why this change was made.  In this day and age when Mother’s Day games involve pink bats, wristbands and catcher’s gear, do they think that someone will find pink off-putting?  Did magenta not test well with focus groups?  Does some product manager at Topps get traumatized by The Pink Panther at an early age?

Moving on to the next observation…


OK, so one thing about the 1972 Topps design is that there are groovy little stars on either side of the team name.

They’re one size when the team name is short…

…And smaller when the team name is long…

Line up a bunch of them and you can see a range of sizes for the groovy little stars.

One can guess that the artists making this design had taken the amount of space needed to comfortably fit the team name in place, and then adjust the star size accordingly.

Oh, but 2021 Heritage was having none of that complete anarchy. Topps apparently said “We are designing a reusable template, so the size of our Groovy Little Stars must be standardized!”

This isn’t a problem for teams with shorter team names, like “CUBS” (1972 on the left, 2021 on the right).  There are differences, but nothing major.

But for longer names, it appears that the team name graphic had to be shrunk a little bit to allow it to fit between the stars.

You can see that this looks a bit off, even if you’re not quite sure why when you look at just the Heritage card. Look at the extra space between the top of the colored border and the team name.  This is what originally caught my eye, the gap at the top of the border.

OK, so none of this is Earth-shattering, but I felt like it needed to be shared.

More non-Earth-shattering observations about 2021 Heritage in a future post.

Vintage Team Set: 1972 Topps Texas Rangers

In celebration of completing my second complete team set from 1972 Topps, I thought I’d do an overview of the 1972 Texas Rangers and the less-than-convincingly airbrushed cards which welcomed American League baseball to the state of Texas. Indeed, this team set may well be the worst team set of the 1970’s… which is not to say that it’s a team set without any redeeming qualities… just not many.

If you’re wondering why, after finishing the enourmous 1972 Mets team set (as described here), I completed a team I frankly don’t care about , it’s because I changed my 1972 goals to focus on team sets where there are no HOFers in my needs.  By doing this, it keeps me moving forward on 1972 Topps by giving me achievable short-term goals.  It also makes it easier for me to go through 1972 cards I find at a show, because I can look for specific colorful 1972 borders while thumbing through a handful of cards.

When I broke down my needs by team, I found myself needing just one card to complete the Rangers team set.  I got that card at a card show a couple of weeks ago.

So let’s take a look at the 1972 Topps Texas Rangers team set as a whole, and then get into individual cards.

The Dallas/Ft. Worth area lured the Senators to Texas for the 1972 season after pursuing a franchise for a number of years. DFW was going to be a member of the proposed Continental League which was meant to start play in April, 1961.  After the Continental League died on the vine, DFW also talked to Charles O. Finley about relocating the Kansas City Athletics, tried for a 1969 expansion team and came close to getting the Seattle Pilots before the 1970 season (The Pilots would, of course, move to Milwaukee instead).

The Rangers’ first season was delayed by the first-ever baseball strike; eight games were lost from the Ranger’s schedule as a result. Even with a shortened schedule the team managed to lose 100 games and finish 38.5 games behind the division-winning Oakland A’s. The Rangers’ 54-100 record was the worst in the Majors.

It’s worth pointing out that the Rangers team card is the only card in the team set where logos are visible (which is why I made the image larger than the others). I imagine that by the time Topps got to the 6th series, they looked at the team photo they had, said something along the lines of “Oh, like it matters” and left the Senators uniforms untouched.

Ted Williams is the only Hall-of-famer you’ll find here, and as 1972 was his last season as a manager, this is his last card as anything but a retired legend.

6’7” Frank “Hondo” Howard had a couple of other nicknames which probably got left behind in Washington: “The Capital Punisher” and “The Washington Monument”. He didn’t make it all the way through the 1972 season, as he was sold to Detroit at the end of August.

The former MVP, two-time Cy Young winner and 30-game winner was on the downside of his career here, having lead the league with 22 losses in 1971.  Before the 1972 season McLain was sent off to Oakland, who would trade him to Atlanta during the season.  The Braves were the last team for whom McLain would pitch.

This is the rookie card of Jeff Burroughs, who would be the A.L. MVP in 1974.  He spent most of 1972 with the AAA Denver Bears.

Ted Ford, who appears in the 1972 set as a Cleveland Indian, was obtained in a 4/3/72 trade that sent Roy Foster and Tom McCraw to Cleveland.  Ford lead he team with 14 homers, 19 doubles and a .382 slugging percentage.

Tom McCraw, card # 767, is also highest-numbered card in the team set, and one of just three Rangers in the 6th Series.  McCraw was caught stealing second in the top of the 9th on 9/30/71 for the final offensive play in Washington Senators history. Having been traded in that Ted Ford trade, he would never actually play for the Rangers in the regular season.

Mike Paul, obtained in a multi-player trade with Cleveland – the Rangers seemed to trade a lot with Cleveland – finished with a 8-9 record and a 2.17 ERA.

Elliot Maddox looks like he might be up to something, and h is expression is a big reason why I like this card.  Maddox was a former first round pick and while he was never an all-star, while with the Yankees he did finish 8th in 1974 AL MVP voting (the year Burroughs won).

The three players on this card had relatively good careers, as far as these type of cards go.

Bill Fahey played 11 seasons as a backup catcher with the Rangers, Padres and Tigers.  Sign of the times:  Even though he was never a starter, he appeared on at least one Topps, Donruss or Fleer card for every year of his career, including two seasons where he spent the entire year in AAA.

Jim Mason played 9 seasons, was the Yankees’ starting shortstop in 1974 and an original Toronto Blue Jay in 1977.

Tom Ragland was the least successful of the three, playing 102 games over three seasons with the Senators, Rangers and Indians.

“Aloha, Mr. Hand!”
Rich Hand lead the team with 10 wins… and also lead the team with 14 losses.  He also came from Cleveland in the same trade as Mike Paul (you can tell by the pinstripes and black sleeves).

Dave Nelson lead the league by being caught stealing 17 times;  he also lead the Rangers with 68 runs, 51 stolen bases and 67 walks.  Among his career highlights:  He was a 1968 Topps All-Star Rookie, an All-Star in 1973 and he stole second, third and home in the same inning on August 30, 1974.

Don Mincher played for both Washington Senators franchises, as well as their successors (Twins and Rangers).  He was the Seattle Pilots’ lone All-Star Representative in their one year of existence, and also had been an All-Star with the Angels in 1967.  Mincher was the president of the AA Southern League from 2000 to 2011

Tom Grieve was drafted #6 overall and was the GM of the Rangers from 1984 to 1994

There are plenty of rookie cards to pick from, but I’d have to go with Toby Harrah, who was the Rangers’ representative in the 1972 All-Star Game but didn’t play. Harrah was named to four All-Star teams all together, but the only All-Star game he appeared in was the 1976 game where he was the starting shortstop (he went 0-2 before being replaced by Mark Belanger)


Ted Kubiak played with the Brewers and Cardinals in 1971.  From the mountainous background, I’m going to guess that this is a Brewers spring training shot.  Kubiak came to the Rangers from St. Louis in a November, 1971 trade and would get traded to Oakland in July, 1972.

Ted Kubiak always makes me think of Larry Kubiak from the 1990’s Fox comedy “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose”.  Even though Parker Lewis was an obvious Ferris Bueller knockoff and was aimed at a younger demographic, my friends and I still enjoyed the show a little more than we probably should have.  Synchronize Swatches!

Roy Foster came from – you guessed it – Cleveland, so he didn’t have a red Senators cap… and since you can’t see the cap logo, I guess they decided to skip the airbrushing altogether.

These two cards made me wonder if the photographer or someone else involved in the process decided that the Senators weren’t likely to stay in Washington and said “Hey, let’s get players to cover the Senators script on their jersey”.  The placement of the glove seems a little too… strategic.

Paul Lindblad lead the league with 66 appearances in 1972 and pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning of a combined no-hitter for the A’s on the last day of the 1975 regular season.

So there you go, I’ve featured far more cards of the 1972 Texas Rangers than the 1972 Texas Rangers likely deserve.

It’s worth pointing out that the Rangers, a team which lost 96 games the year before and would go on to lose 100 games that year, had 28 cards representing them in 1972 Topps. That was still below average for the 787 card 1972 set, but keep in mind that there are also no “In Action” or “Boyhood Photos” or “League Leaders” for the Rangers.

Card #270 From 1972 – 1978 Topps

Today is the 270th day of 2018, so I’m featuring card #270 from seven different 1970’s sets.

I do these posts because I enjoy pulling out cards from the very core of my collection (1974 to 1978 were my first five years of collecting), but I also enjoy the randomness of saying “I think I’ll do a Card Number post on Thursday… what day of the year is that?” When used my little Excel spreadsheet formula to determine that 9/27 is the 270th day of 2018, I knew that we’d have some good cards because Topps traditionally assigns card numbers ending with zero to good players.

…But in this case, not the absolute BEST players. The six or seven tippity-toppest players get the card numbers which are divisible by 100 (100, 200, 300, etc.), the next tier generally gets the “fifties” (150, 250, 350… ) and so on. Anybody on a card with a number like 270 are generally among the best players in the game, but weren’t THE TOP PLAYERS.

Because it was a card number ending in zero (and because I happened to have the appropriate cards), I decided to add in 1972 and 1973 this time.

…and so we’ll start off with Card #270 from 1972 Topps:  Jim Palmer

What Jim Palmer did the year before to earn a card number ending in zero: In 1971 “Cakes” won 20 games, making him the fourth member of the Orioles rotation to win 20 games.  That’s just amazing, especially considering that there won’t be four pitchers in all of the Majors to win 20 games in 2018.  As for Palmer in 1971, he was an All-Star, but didn’t win an award or lead the league in any particular category… probably the epitome of “divisible by 10-ness”

Card #270 from 1973 Topps – Luis Tiant
Tiant always looks strange to me without his trademark Fu Manchu mustache.

What Luis Tiant did the year before: Went 15-9, lead the league with a 1.91 ERA and got Cy Young and MVP votes.  More importantly, he re-established himself as a starting pitcher and won the Comeback Of The Year Award.

I enjoyed the cartoon on the back of El Tiante’s card:

Card #270 from 1974 Topps – Ron Santo

What Ron Santo did the year before: He batted .267 with 65 runs and 77 RBI and was an All-Star… but there’s probably a significant element of “He gets one of these numbers because he’s Ron bleeping Santo”.

Here’s a freaky little fact: Ron Santo batted .267 in three of the four seasons from 1970 to 1973, and in 1970 and 1971 he had the exact same number of hits and at-bats. This seemed so unlikely that I went to a couple of different sources to verify these numbers.

After the 1973 season, Santo was traded to the White Sox, to the dismay of Cubs fans everywhere.

Before Ron Santo was traded across town, a trade had been worked out to send him to the Angels; however, Santo vetoed it.  Several years ago I’d shared a card which I’d received in an interdimensional PWE from my counterpart in an alternate universe:

I haven’t heard anything from Alternate Universe Joe in a while, I’ll have to reach out to him.

Finally, Santo’s card had a good cartoon:

Card #270 from 1975 Topps – Ron Fairly
Had there been a Traded set in 1975, Ron Fairly would’ve likely been featured in a badly-airbrushed Cardinals cap. In the December 1974 Winter Meetings, Fairly was traded to St. Louis for two minor leaguers.

What Ron Fairly did the year before: Ron Fairly batted .245 with 35 runs and 43 RBI, and he had been an All-Star in 1973… I’m thinking that Fairly got his semi-star card # by being good for quite a long time – he played 21 years over his career, spanning 1958 to 1969 with the Dodgers, 1969 to 1974 with the Expos, and 1975 to 1978 with the Cardinals, A’s, Blue Jays and Angels.

One other fun Fairly fact: He was the Toronto Blue Jays’ first All-Star.

Card #270 from 1976 Topps – Willie Stargell

What Willie Stargell did the year before: By this point in his career, you couldn’t really give “Pops” just any old number… But Stargell got MVP votes while batting .295 with 22 homers, 90 RBI and 71 Runs

Card #270 from 1977 Topps – Dave Parker

What Dave Parker did the year before: Parker was still a fairly new player and when this card initially came out he had yet to be an All-Star, an MVP or a Gold Glove winner, but he did bat .313 with 90 RBI and 82 Runs.

Card #270 from 1978 Topps – Carlton Fisk

What Carlton Fisk did the year before: Obviously, Fisk was an All-Star.  He batted .315 with 102 RBI, 26 homers and 106 runs. He was also the 1972 Rookie of the Year and a 1975 World Series hero.

I Really Hate That I Don’t Hate These Dodgers

You’ve got to understand one thing… In 40-plus years of following baseball, I’ve never liked the Dodgers.  At all.

I’m not even sure how or why it began.  At the very beginning, of course, I didn’t hate anybody or any team.  Baseball was a wonderful new universe I’d just discovered, everybody was varying degrees of awesome.

(Oh, and before I get too far into this… All of the cards in this post are fairly recent acquisitions which have nothin’ to do with nothin’ other than they feature Dodgers)

When the time came that I started to form negative reactions to teams, the Yankees and Dodgers were the first.  I started out liking the Yankees – local team, yay! – but got turned off when they got arrogant, free-spending and replaced favorite Yanks with poopyheads like Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin.

..But the Dodgers?  The disdain just fell into place, I’ve never really been sure why.

I didn’t get it at home;  I lived in a New York Rangers household where all of the sports animosity was directed towards the Islanders, Flyers and Bruins.

Maybe I picked up on lingering regional resentment at the team which broke the hearts of Brooklynites (many of whom had become my suburban neighbors) not 20 years prior.

Maybe it was just the whole New York – Los Angeles rivalry.

Don’t know why for sure, all I know is that “1976 me” didn’t like the Dodgers, and nothing has ever changed that… especially in 1988 when those friggin’ Bums beat my Mets in the NLCS.

So when the Dodgers took the division this year, I was completely prepared to hate on the Dodgers…

…Until I realized that I like their general style of play, and looked over one of the postseason starting lineups and realized that there wasn’t anybody starting who merited anything approaching hate.

I’ve been a Justin Turner fan since he was with the Mets.  I love the guy, I certainly can’t hate on him.

Turner’s partner in being MVP of the NLCS, Chris Taylor, is another guy I like… I just appreciate the general “Where’d this guy come from?” season he had.

Curtis Granderson hasn’t played much, but he’s another well-liked former Met.

Rich Hill only pitched in 14 games as an Oriole, but something about him made me latch on to him a little bit.

Charlie Culberson, who went 5-for-11 with a triple in the NLCS, is a guy I’d seen a few times in the minors a number of years ago, so he’s one of my “I saw him back when” guys.

Yu Darvish is a deadline pickup, he’s not Dodger-y enough to dislike, plus I’ve always had a soft spot for Japanese players.  Kenta Maeda gets a similar pro-Japanese pass.

Austin Barnes?  I know almost nothing about the guy and he has almost no cardboard, so I was amazed to find out he’d been in 102 regular season games and was one of the top 10 Dodgers in terms of WAR.

Had Cody Bellinger had his outstanding rookie season last year or next year, I’d be saying “ENOUGH with this guy”… but in this case he has the good fortune to be overshadowed hype-wise by Aaron Judge.

When I went through the Dodgers roster from top to bottom, the only two guys who I could muster up a decent “BAH!” for were Yasiel Puig (who admittedly seems to have toned down the showboating which made me dislike him) and former Phillie Chase Utley (In the immortal words of Homer Simpson… “Chase Utley?  Why would I want to do that?”)

So congratulations, Dodgers fans… For what could be the first time ever, I won’t be upset if your team wins it all.

…But I’m still rooting for the Astros.

After Three Years… A Complete 1972 Mets “Master Team Set”

Three years ago, I thought I’d completed my team set from 1972 Topps… and by most people’s standards, I *had* completed a team set.  I had all of the regular cards, the “In Action” cards, the Boyhood Photos, the Rookie cards, the Leader cards… 47 cards in all. Yep, it’s a very large team set.

Then I realized that there was also “Puzzle D” on the back of some of the “In Action” cards… Puzzle D features Tom Seaver, so even though the front of the cards featured non-Mets, the backs were a different story.

At the time I’d made this realization, I had a couple of the cards I needed to complete the puzzle. It took me a while to find ones in the price range I’d had in mind, given that these are High #’s, and given that I’m cheap. I suspect that there might also be something of a premium based on the Seaver puzzle.

This past weekend I finally found the last two cards at a price I liked.

I found the Jim Kaat In Action for $3.
That “402 FT” marker behind him looks familiar, but I’m shaky on vintage A.L. ballparks. Milwaukee?

Here’s the back of the Kaat IA:

I also found the Bobby Murcer In Action for $3.50
I spent a bit of time trying to figure out who the catcher is. In 1971, when this photo was probably taken, there were three American League teams which had red as their primary color: The Senators, Indians and White Sox. If you look closely at the piping on the sleeve and the pants, it looks like the narrow red-white-red piping of the ChiSox. Unfortunately, there were five games where Bobby Murcer scored against the White Sox in 1971, but we can at least narrow the potential catchers down to Ed Herrmann, Tom Egan and Chuck Brinkman. I’m thinking Tom Egan, but that’s largely just a guess… Does anybody have any input?

And here’s the back of the Murcer:

And because I know you’re all dying to know what the completed puzzle looks like…
Not a terrific photo of Tom Terrific, I have to say.

And for reference purposes, here are the 6 corresponding card fronts…
…and the “checklist” for Puzzle D:
692 – Curt Blefary IA
694 – Allan Gallagher IA
696 – Rod Carew IA
700 – Bobby Murcer IA
706 – Pat Corrales IA
710 – Jim Kaat IA

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.

I Spent Too Much Time Making Customs This Week

It was just that kind of week.  Lots of stuff going on, moderate levels of stress, but it all came in spurts.  During the downtime I had, I didn’t feel like reading or watching TV or doing anything productive, I just wanted some fun busywork… And for me, especially lately, “fun busywork” means making customs.

On top of that, it was a week where most teams had their “Photo Day”, so there were numerous images involving players in new uniforms. Surfing through those photos gave me added inspiration.

Yoenis Cespedes got a lot of attention recently for showing up at Mets camp with a lot of exotic vehicles… Some of which were more exotic than others.  True, his Lamborghini Aventador and his Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione are worth many times what I paid for my own car, but people were beside themselves over his funky-looking Polaris Slingshots, even though they’re something that people outside of the 1% can afford.  Given what Cespedes will earn in 2016 and the Slingshot’s MSRP, he can buy two or three Slingshots for every day of the year if he wants… But that’s beside the point.

The point is that I love his Alfa Romeo, and decided it needed it’s own baseball card.
2016 TSRchives 72BOY-1 Yoenis Cespedes
This custom is, of course, based on the 1972 “Boyhood Photos Of The Stars” cards.  I wish I could come up with a better name for the subset, but it’s one of several things about this custom I’d like to do-over, but won’t… Not unless someone else drives to camp in another object of my own automotive lust (Does anybody on the Mets drive a ’57 Chevy?)

Munenori Kawasaki is in Cubs camp as a non-roster guy, but I’m hoping he makes the team… MLB is a lot more fun when he’s around.
2016 TSRchives 75T-1 Munenori Kawasaki
I whipped up this custom template Friday night, and it wasn’t until I was writing this post that I realized that it’s slightly “miscut”.  I think I was so focused on some of the details that I didn’t take a step back and look at the image.  I’ll fix it before I use this template again.

Justin Turner used to be my favorite Dodger, but he’s been usurped in that position.   Sorry, Justin…  But after I saw Photo Day images of minor league catcher Jack Murphy, he became my new Favorite Dodger.  I saw Murphy’s hair and his mustache and knew he belonged on a 1970’s custom:
2016 TSRchives 79T-1 Jack Murphy
Yes, this is a guy on the Dodgers’ current 40-man roster, and yes, he always has the  long hair and mustache… He was traded to the Dodgers in last summer’s deal that sent Darwin Barney to Toronto. He’s an Ivy Leaguer, having attended Princeton, and he’s spent the past four winters playing for the Canberra Calvary in the Australian Baseball League. You can check out several Australian Jack Murphy customs over at the excellent Australian Custom Baseball Cards blog.  Not surprisingly, he’s a fan-favorite in Canberra

Quick Princeton side-track: Their baseball program has clearly had a resurgence because there were four Princeton Tigers in the Majors in 2015 (Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Young, Wil Venable and David Hale), but before them there had been only one Tiger in the Majors during my lifetime (and I just turned 50). That one Princetonian is pitcher Bob Tufts, who pitched in 27 games from 1981 to 1983 and who appears to have only one Major League baseball card (1982 Topps Giants Future Stars, shared with Bob Brenly and Chili Davis).

It was odd to see Jimmy Rollins with the Dodgers last year, but for some reason he looks REALLY odd in a White Sox uniform.
2016 TSRchives 60BZ-1 Jimmy Rollins
This custom template is based on 1960-62 Bazooka, and I used it for my first Hot Stove set during the winter of 2012/13.  Two things that remain unchanged since then:  1)  I still love this design, and 2) I still hang my head in shame that I don’t own one of the originals.  Those little suckers are hard to come by and they aren’t cheap!

During my post about 2016 Heritage two days ago, I mentioned my disappointment that Topps did not make an insert out of the 1967 Venezuelan Topps “Retirado” subset.  For those of you who didn’t know what I was talking about, there was a 1967 Venezuelan set that was one-third Topps cards (sort of Venezuelan O-Pee-Chee), one third players from the Venezuelan Winter League, and one third “Retirado”, which, if I’m not mistaken, is Spanish for “Retired”.  The original subset featured players ranging from Babe Ruth to Sandy Koufax.  Given how Topps likes to beat us over the head with the retired players they have under contract, I thought this would’ve been a natural.

The originals were pretty cheesy looking, but I decided to make a custom anyway, just to show what such an insert could’ve looked like.
2016 TSRchives 67VR-1 Cal Ripken
Topps has done a whole lot worse in terms of inserts.  I call this a missed opportunity.

Last week I was talking about how much of an improvement the new Padres home uniforms were over the previous ones.  This week we got to see on-field shots of the new Diamondback uniforms, and my reaction was… um… not quite as positive.  I think I may have muttered words like “awful” and “fugly”.
2016 TSRchives 68T-1 Paul Goldschmidt
They’re not the worst uniform in the history of Major League Baseball, I won’t go that far… But they are easily the worst current uniform set in MLB.  Such was my disdain for these uniforms that I made a custom using one of the least-popular sets of the 1960’s, the burlappy 1968 design.

(OK, fine, I kinda like 1968… But I guess we’ll find out just how much I like it when Heritage hits the shelves next year.)

So there goes that bit of creative output… Which frankly makes me feel a little guilty because I *really* should be finalizing my 2016 TSR original custom set instead of cranking out TSRchives customs…  But it was just one of those things where I had to go where my muse took me.

…And speaking of customs I should be making, I did have an outstanding request for some 1974 customs, and the requesting party should rest assured that I have not forgotten.

The Brady Bunch All-Stars

A while ago I had the idea of featuring cards which correspond to each character’s name on The Brady Bunch.  Don’t ask about where this idea came from… Sometimes these things just fall together.

To be honest it was quite a while between inspiration and execution, because some of these were much harder than I’d expected… especially – and not surprisingly – for the “very lovely girls”.  Some of these are quite a stretch to fit into the theme, but that adds to the fun (I hope).

As an extra-groovy feature, I’ve added a few athletes who played themselves on The Brady Bunch.

And so, here’s the story…


1975 Topps Mike Schmidt
1975 Topps Mike Schmidt

Without really thinking, I went looking for images of 1975 Topps sheets to figure out which card the blue at the top of my card came from.  I say “Without really thinking” because the way 1975 cards show up on the sheet, a card with a green top should have a card with a green bottom above it on the sheet.  I came to find out that Schmidt is at the top of the sheet, so aren’t any cards above Schmidt.  I found another card online that has similar blue at the top, so I guess it’s a “printing thing”.

…And I found that looking at images of uncut sheets of 1975 Topps is kinda mesmerizing…  So many colors…


2000 Pacific Greg Maddux (Portrait)
2000 Pacific Greg Maddux (portrait)

I’ll bet many of you don’t realize that Pacific was doing variations 16 years ago.  In the 1999 and 2000 Pacific sets, a number of the bigger names and hyped rookies came as either a portrait or an action shot, and there wasn’t anything to distinguish the two other than the photo.  I remember being very perturbed when I found this out…

…and then mom gave me a Snickers bar and I felt better.

1982-83 O-Pee-Chee Pete Peeters
1982-83 OPC Pete Peeters

The 1982-83 hockey season was the first season in nearly 20 years that Topps had not issued a hockey set.  I was still an active hockey collector at the time, so I bought a hand-collated set of that year’s O-Pee-Chee.  It’s not a classic set, but for us Americans any O-Pee-Chee set that isn’t based on Topps becomes a classic oddball set.

1974-75 O-Pee-Chee WHA Bobby Hull
1974-75 OPC WHA Bobby Hull

Also in the early 1980’s I made one of my favorite hockey purchases of all time.  At a show I saw this cool-looking oddball hockey set featuring players from the recently-deceased WHA.  The complete 66 card set was just $10.  I jumped on that set and never looked back.

Ever since I started this blog 4+ years ago, I’ve been thinking that I need to feature cards from this fun oddball hockey set.  I really need to sit down and scan a bunch of these.

1981-82 O-Pee-Chee Carol Vadnais
1981-82 OPC Carol Vadnais

It’s the story of a lovely… um…  Vadnais…

I didn’t mean to have three straight O-Pee-Chee hockey cards, but that’s just the way it happened.

And matching Carol Brady with Carol Vadnais?  Trust me, it gets worse from here.

1976 Topps Welcome Back Kotter #37
1976 Topps Welcome Back Kotter #37
I had trouble with finding an athlete named Marcia who appeared on a card, so I went with a 1976 Topps “Welcome Back, Kotter” card which features actress Marcia Strassman (who played Julie Kotter) holding a basketball.  Her name is Marcia, and she’s pretending to be athletic, so that’s close enough for government work.

1975 Topps Football Jan Stenerud
1975 Topps Football Jan Stenerud

Jan Stenerud was born in Norway and was the first Football Hall Of Famer to have been solely a kicker (as opposed to guys like George Blanda who was a kicker and a quarterback).  The Chiefs have retired his #3.

1999 Fleer Ultra WNBA Cindy Brown

1999 Fleer Ultra WNBA Cindy Brown

1999 Fleer Ultra WNBA #87 – Cindy Brown – Courtesy of COMC.com

I had to go searching far and wide to find a “Cindy” for inclusion in these all-stars. There just aren’t that many athletes named Cindy.

This Cindy is quite the impressive athlete. As a senior at Long Beach State, she set NCAA records for most points in a season (974, since broken) and in a game (60, still a record). She also played for the Olympic Gold Medal-winning basketball team in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Speaking of Olympians…

2014 Topps U.S. Olympic/Paralympic Alice McKennis

2014 Topps U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team and Hopefuls Alice McKennis

2014 Topps U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team and Hopefuls #61 – Alice McKennis – Courtesy of COMC.com

What I said about “Cindy” also applies to “Alice”.

In a set of “Olympians And Hopefuls”, Alpine Skier Alice McKennis fell into the category of “Hopeful” because a severe leg injury caused her to miss the 2014 Sochi Olympics.  She was the 2015 World Champion in Super-G (Super Giant Slalom).

While researching her, I was thrown a bit because the first images I found of Alice McKennis didn’t look that much like the image on the card.  As it turns out the dramatic lighting used for the card does her no favors.

Sam, the Butcher
1987 Buffalo Bisons team set BUTCHer
1987 Buffalo Bisons BUTCHer

Donald “BUTCHer” Palmer was a batboy for the AAA Buffalo Bisons and seems to have been a fan favorite.  In researching him I saw references to his “trademark antics”, which implies that his appeal went well beyond “Heh heh, lookit the huge batboy”.

Cousin Oliver
1994 Pacific Crown Collection Joe Oliver
1994 Pacific Crown Collection Joe Oliver

1994 Crown Collection is an odd set.  It’s mostly full-bleed, has foil and a faux marble background on the bottom, but that widely-kerned font just makes it look really amateurish.  I can only guess that it looked better in pre-production.

Special Guest Stars and the episodes in which they appeared:

Joe Namath
1970 Topps Football Joe Namath
1970 Topps Joe Namath
“Mail Order Hero” – In which Bobby lies about knowing Joe Namath.  Hilarity ensues.

Deacon Jones
1974 Topps Football Deacon Jones
1974 Topps Football Deacon Jones
“The Drummer Boy” – Peter is teased by his football teammates for being involved in glee club and being late for a special football clinic with Deacon Jones.  Hilarity ensues.

Don Drysdale
1990 Topps All-Star Glossy Don Drysdale
1990 Topps All-Star Glossy Don Drysdale
“The Dropout” – Mike invites Don Drysdale, one of his clients, to the house. Drysdale compliments Greg’s pitching, Greg gets a swelled head and hilarity ensues.

(I was surprised to find that this is the only Don Drysdale card I own.)

Wes Parker
1972 Topps Wes Parker
1972 Topps Wes Parker
“The Undergraduate” – Greg develops a crush on his math teacher, but the teacher is already engaged… to the Dodgers’ Wes Parker.  Hilarity ensues.

‘Til the one day when Shlabotnik had a brainstorm
And he knew that it was much more than a hunch
That this group must somehow form a blog post
That’s the way they all became The Brady Bunch… All-Stars…

Here Are Some Cards From The *Previous* COMC Promotion…

I have to admit;  Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday have sucked up much of my “hobby time” for the past week…  As a result, I’m gonna buy myself some time by sharing an assortment of cards from the last time I took advantage of a COMC Promotion, which was back in June.

I mainly bought this card because it shows Jesse Gonder wearing a Mets uniform, a team he last played for in 1965.
1969 Topps Jesse Gonder
When I looked up Gonder’s record, I noticed that he never played for the Padres, nor was there any transaction that showed him going to the Padres. A little Googling revealed that he was a Spring Training invite, made the team but was released shortly into the season without having appeared in a game.

This card was a pleasant find… This card is a high number and a rookie card, plus it was a need, but I got it for under $1 because it was flagged as “Altered”. Once I got the card in my possession, I could tell it had been trimmed. I could also tell that I do not care.
1971 Topps Mets Rookie Stars

Ted Uhlaender’s daughter Katie was in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in the Skeleton event.
1972 Topps Ted Uhlaender
Ted’s last Major League at bat came as a pinch-hitter in Game 7 of the 1972 World Series.

I’m slowly… very slowly… working on the 1976 Kellogg’s set, but for now I’m keeping this set within a tight budget. We’ll see how far I get (probably not very). Dave Cash here set me back 55 cents.
1976 Kellogg's Dave Cash
Just a reminder that this winter’s “Hot Stove” custom set is based on this very same 1976 Kellogg’s set… I’m still working on some of the related images (you’ll understand when we get there), but so far I’ve got three customs made. Hint, hint: I’ve “photoshopped” on-field personnel into Red Sox, Marlins and Angels uniforms. I’m hoping to get the first one out this weekend.

This last card is shiny and features a decent photo, but I’ll be honest, I bought it for one primary reason: It’s a Japanese baseball card that was on sale for 35 cents.
2002 BBM Hanshin Tigers Extra Edition Go Kida
I don’t usually pass that by, no matter who’s on the card.

…And now you’re going to ask me who *is* on the card. Well, his name is Go Kida and I couldn’t find a whole lot about him… I guess he’s the kind of a guy who ends up on a 35 cent Japanese baseball card. Oh, I should mention that the set is the 2002 BBM Hanshin Tigers Extra Edition (at least that’s what COMC told me).