A Couple From 2016 Topps Archives Snapshots

It was about this time last year that Topps released their online-only Archives Snapshots set. I haven’t heard anything about there being a 2017 version, which is something of a shame just because the 2016 set seemed like a starting point for something good. I didn’t buy any directly from Topps, but I bought a few through COMC.

This Oscar Gamble is easily my favorite from the set, partially because it’s 1970’s Oscar Gamble…

…but mainly because it’s the same photo that was used on Gamble’s 1974 card, and I love anything to do with 1974 Topps. Here’s a comparison of the two:

The way that 21st Century Topps cropped the photo off-center and cropping out part of Gamble’s hands makes me think they really wanted to keep that weird shadow in the lower right out of the Archives Snapshot card.

This B.J. Surhoff card may not be the most exciting photo, especially when compared to Oscar Gamble, but I love me some Surhoff so this was eagerly sought out for my collection.

Finally, to round out the two-card Mets team set (along with Michael Conforto which I’d featured before), here’s a lovely Jacob deGrom:

For the record, here’s the Conforto… I featured this card back in January.

There are still a couple of cards from this set that I’d like to pick up (Cal Ripken leaps to mind), but I really was hoping that there’d be another set this year that would build on last year’s… Maybe it’s been delayed because Topps is feverishly working on how many cards of Aaron Judge they can work into it.


Random Team Review: 1974 Topps Texas Rangers

After moving from Washington to Dallas for the 1972 season, the Texas Rangers lost 100 and 105 games in their first two seasons.  In 1974 the team turned it around and went 84-76, finishing in second place in the A.L. West, 5.0 games behind the eventual World Champion Oakland A’s.

The Rangers were managed by Billy Martin, who took over late in 1973 after being fired by the Detroit Tigers.

Despite his success in 1974, Martin didn’t last through the 1975 season, the third time in his managerial career he went from fiery to fired.

Billy Martin wins this team’s “Notable Airbrushing” award;  you can see that he’s actually wearing a Tigers jersey.

Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins went 14-16, 3.89 as a 30-year-old with the Cubs in 1973.  The Cubs traded him to Texas for then-minor-leaguer Bill Madlock and Vic Harris.  Fergie reacted by going 25-12, 2.82.

Jenkins finished 2nd to Catfish Hunter in Cy Young Voting and 5th in A.L. MVP voting.  He’d fall back off again in 1975 and would get traded to the Red Sox after that season.

No arguments against Jeff Burroughs as the team’s best offensive player.  I’d mentioned that Fergie Jenkins was 5th in MVP voting?  Well, Burroughs was the MVP.

Burroughs lead the league with 118 RBI and batted .301 with 33 doubles, 2 triples and 25 homers.

Well, this is more “Best Rookie Story” than “Best Rookie”.  David Clyde was a Texas high school pitching phenomenon who was drafted first overall by the Rangers and went straight into the majors to pitch for a team desperate for a box office draw.

While he pitched an 8 K 1-hitter in his debut, he was inconsistent in his career and you can’t help but wonder how his career would’ve played out if he were allowed to develop in the minors.

It wasn’t until I wrote this post that I realized how award-winning the Rangers were in 1974.  Mike Hargrove was the 1974 A.L. Rookie of the Year (George Brett was 3rd in voting) and, as you can see, got a little Topps trophy on his 1975 card.

In his rookie season, Hargrove batted .323 with 57 runs and  66 RBI

No deliberating on this one… this card is easily my favorite in this team set.

Check this out… on August 30, 1974 Dave Nelson walked to lead off the bottom of the first, stole second while Cesar Tovar was at bat, stole third while Jeff Burroughs was at bat and then stole home while Mike Hargrove was at bat.  At the end of the inning the Rangers had scored one run on no hits and no errors.

This is from Jim Shellenback’s card:

Jim Gogolewski  (Yes, the top left corner is missing… looks like I should upgrade this card)

Current Phillies manager Pete Mackanin’s rookie card came after he appeared in 44 games in 1973.  He’d only appear in two games in 1974 and would get traded to the Expos after the season.

This card features Mackanin’s only cardboard with the Rangers, Manny Trillo’s only card with the A’s, and John Gamble’s only card, period (he appeared in 13 career games, all before this card came out) .

Dave Chalk appeared on a bunch of cards with the Angels… the spoilsport.

Jim Bibby won 19 games in 1974… and lost 19 games as well.  41 starts, 38 decisions, 11 complete games, 2 shutouts.

Bibby was originally signed by the Mets but went to the Cardinals in a 1971 8-player trade which included such luminaries as Art Shamsky, Jim Beauchamp and Chuck Taylor.  Bibby served in Vietnam, no-hit the A’s in 1973, was part of a trade which brought Gaylord Perry from Cleveland to Texas, and started Games 4 and 7 for the Pirates in the 1979 World Series (getting a no-decision in both games).

Bibby’s brother Henry played in the NBA from 1972 to 1981 and his nephew Mike (Henry’s son) played in the NBA from 1998 to 2012.

Random Team: 1974 Topps Philadelphia Phillies, Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m breaking this long Team Set post into two parts because for all the time it’s taken me to do what was meant to be “a fun and relatively quick post”, I want to get one day’s worth out of it.

Favorite Card
I just love this candid shot of Greg Luzinski sitting in the dugout. I like the Carlton and Bowa cards (from the prior post) as well, but this one is top of the heap.

Greg Luzinski played only 85 games in 1974 due to injuries, but he broke out in 1975, hitting 34 homers and leading the league with 120 RBI.

Best Cartoon
Catcher Mike Ryan

Best Rookie Card
Dick Ruthven, just because he had a decent career and he’s faking a pitching pose in front of the Shea Stadium bullpen.

In 1973 Ruthven had gone straight from Cal State–Fresno to the Phillies. He didn’t pitch in the minor leagues until 1975, when he spent a good chunk of his 3rd pro season at AAA Toledo. He’d go on to pitch in 14 seasons with the Phils, Braves and Cubs.

Best Name, Front Of The Card
Aurelio Monteagudo is referred to on the back of the card as a “journeyman reliever”. He was acquired from the Angels in an early December trade.

He would never pitch for the Phillies, or appear in the Majors after 1973, but still…

Aurelio Monteagudo.

Best Name, Back Of The Card
Mac Scarce is a pretty good name…

…but “Mac Scarce” hasn’t got anything on “Guerrant McCurdy Scarce”!

Two Best Variations
There are two Rookie Pitchers cards which include Phillies and have variations; the variations don’t involve the Phillies pitchers, but I’m going to share these here anyway.

Because it involves a Mets pitcher, the best variation is the one where Bob Apodaca’s name is misspelled “Apodaco”.

Mike Wallace would pitch for four teams over five seasons, and was traded to the Yankees in May, 1974. He appeared on three Topps cards in his career, and this is the only one which isn’t airbrushed; In 1975 Topps he was airbrushed into a Yankees cap, and in 1977 Topps he was airbrushed into a Rangers cap. He did appear in 1976 SSPC in a Cardinals uniform.

The second-best variation is the card which labels Dave Freisleben as being with “Washington”. This is, of course, part of the whole “Washington Nat’l. Lea.” thing.

Ron Diorio made 23 appearances in 1973 and 2 in 1974, all in relief. He did pitch well in 1973, flashing a 2.33 and 1.241 WHIP while getting a save.

Best insert
OK, one of the “Traded” cards would probably qualify as a better insert, but the unnumbered team checklist card will also do nicely.

Don’t forget to check out the series that I didn’t realize I was “borrowing” from: Night Owl’s “Joy Of A Team Set”!

Random Team: 1974 Topps Philadelphia Phillies, Part 1

Once again, I’ve fired up the Random-itron 2000 and it generated the next team set in this series; the 1974 Topps Philadelphia Phillies.

…But before I get started, you may be wondering what’s up with the “Part 1” in the subject line. Executive Summary: I spent too much time on this post and want to get at least two posts out of the work I put in. Detailed summary is down below.


The 1974 Phillies went 80-82 and finished 3rd in the 6 team NL East (8 games behind the division-winning Pirates).

The Phillies were managed by Danny Ozark, who was born Daniel Leonard Orzechowski.

He played 18 years in the Dodgers organization without ever making it to The Show, and was a coach with the Dodgers for a number of years before getting the managing job with the Phillies. He would manage the Phils for 7 years in the 1970’s, finishing in 1st place 3 years in a row, but never winning the NLCS.

Best Offensive Player
Mike Schmidt was a 24-year-old in his second full season, made his first All-Star team and lead the Majors in homers (36) and the N.L. in slugging percentage (.546).

He also had 28 doubles, 7 triples, 116 RBI and for good measure he stole 23 bases.

For anyone who is not familiar with this card, I will direct your attention to the Phillies bullpen cart parked on the left-hand side.

Best Pitcher
Steve Carlton was an All-Star in 1974, went 16-13, 3.22 and lead the league in K’s (240) and BB’s (136). He also had 17 complete games, which was 2nd in the NL.

This card was a finalist for “Best Action Shot” and “Favorite Card”, but I’ll admit I didn’t want to have one card represent three categories.

Best Player In A Supporting Role
I always forget that Jim Lonborg won a Cy Young award with the Red Sox in 1967. That year he went 22-9, 3.16, had a 1.138 WHIP and lead the league with 246 K’s.

In 1974, Lonborg went 17-13, 3.21 and pitched 16 complete games with 3 shutouts.

Here’s a fun Lonborg fact courtesy of Baseball-reference.com: “In the TV show ‘Cheers’, the picture behind the bar that was supposed to be Sam Malone pitching for the Red Sox is actually a picture of Lonborg.”

Most Notable Airbrush Job; Best Offensive Player In A Supporting Role
On 10/18/73, the Phillies acquired Dave Cash from the Pirates for Ken Brett.  This card and Ken Brett’s 1974 card both feature good airbrushing jobs, which goes to show that the airbrush artists could do good work when they weren’t up against a tight deadline.

Cash was an All-Star in his first season with the Phils and batted an even .300 in 1974, with 11 triples, 89 runs scored and 58 RBI.

Best Action Shot
Larry Bowa was also an All-Star in 1974, batted .275 and scored 97 runs.

Picking the “Best Action Shot” card was a tough decision, but I’ll stand by the Bowa card.

Best Player Not On A 1974 Card
Jay Johnstone had been in the Majors since 1966, but since he only appeared in 23 games in 1973, he did not appear on a 1974 baseball card… and even if he had, it wouldn’t have shown him with the Phillies, who picked him up in early April after the Cardinals cut him loose near the end of Spring Training.

Johnstone started the year with AAA Toledo and got called up in early July. Over the second half of the season, he appeared in 64 games and batted .295 with 30 runs scored and 30 RBI. Needless to say, he did get a card in 1975.

I will get into the rest of the categories in Part 2. And speaking of parts 1 and 2…

The original idea behind these posts was that they were supposed to be relatively quick… Scan and post a bunch of cards from a particular team, and let the cards do the talking.

Then, of course, my own tendencies took over, I started researching the players and the team and the cards and the next thing I know, I’m spending just as much time on these posts as any other I write.

Since this post was already in progress when I realized I was waaay down the rabbit hole in terms of research, I broke it down into two parts because I figured I might as well get two days’ worth of posts out of all the research I did.

I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do for the next team. I’ll probably cut back on the research and just go with the original idea of “This guy is good, this card is cool, this action shot is the best” and leave it at that… but we’ll see.

Don’t forget to check out the series that I didn’t realize I was “borrowing” from: Night Owl’s “Joy Of A Team Set”!

A Couple Of 1974’s From An Alternate Universe

I’ve been getting new cards from all sides…  Card show last weekend, a blaster from Target, two different batches of cards in the mail (thanks to, in chronological order, Shane & Bob!)…

…And I got a couple of cards from my counterpart in the alternate universe!

I believe it’s been over a year since I’ve written about the alternate universe, so I’ll give everybody a quick back story… There’s an inter-dimensional rift in my attic through which small objects can pass from one universe to another.  The other end of this particular rift lies in the attic of that universe’s Joe Shlabotnik, and we’ve been trading cards for a number of years.

Just as “Alt-U Joe” was freaked out by the cards I sent him that show Reggie Jackson with the Yankees – I’ll have to find out where Reggie went in that universe – I was similarly freaked out over Willie McCovey with the Brewers…
I’d read somewhere that when the Giants were looking to move McCovey after the 1973 season, some AL teams like the Brewers and Rangers had interest, but Willie didn’t want to be a DH so the Giants found a National League trading partner in the Padres. I guess over in that universe, the Giants weren’t as accommodating.

More puzzling was this 1974 Traded card showing Randy Jones being shipped off to the Expos!
The back says he was traded for pitcher Balor Moore and another player, but didn’t get into why the Padres would trade a promising young pitcher like Randy Jones. Here in our universe, Randy would have two dominating seasons (including the 1976 Cy Young) before being derailed by arm troubles.

Speaking of pitchers being traded, the buzz is already starting about how the weak market for free agent pitchers could result in some blockbuster trades this winter.  Here at Shlabotnik World Headquarters, our top-notch staff of graphics artists are gearing up for another Hot Stove set based on a vintage Kellogg’s 3-D set… and yes, the cereal boxes will be back as well.  I don’t have a go-live date right now, but it should come sometime after players start to move around.

By the way, there’s no real reason why I would mention custom cards in a post about cards from the Alternate Universe… Just wanted to get it out there while I was thinking about it, I guess.

1974 Customs By Request, Plus Two Bonus ’74’s

Change your clocks!  It’s Daylight Savings Time!  (There’s your Public Service Announcement for today.  The Shlabotnik Report cares.)

…Unless you’re reading this outside of the United States, in which case leave your clocks the way they were… unless you want to change them anyway.

OK, this is off on a sleep-deprived tangent.  What I really wanted to talk about was some customs I made…  Fatcat47, Cardinals fan and Shlabotnik Report reader, asked if I could do some Cardinals up in the 1974 style.  It took me a while because I went off on various impulsive custom-making missions, but after that itch was scratched… and BTW, if I ever make “1981 Topps Scratch-Off” customs, you’ll know I went off the deep end…  But after that itch was scratched I fired up the 1974 template and went to work.

FYI, most of these are Cardinals, but I’ve got two young guys at the end who caught my attention this spring, for two different reasons.

On with the show…

I picked out this Yadier Molina image because I thought it had potential to be a 1974-esque action shot, but it turned out better than I’d expected (meaning not particularly 1970’s-Topps-action-shot-y)… and for that I apologize.
2016 TSRchives 74T-2 Yadier Molina
Yadi is working his way back from offseason thumb surgery, but he is shooting for being active when the season starts.

Sam Tuivailala has one of my favorite names in MLB.
2016 TSRchives 74T-3 Sam Tuivailala
Right now he’s got more AAA saves (17) than MLB innings (15.2), but I’m keeping fingers crossed that he gets significant time in the St. Louis bullpen in 2016.

This custom worked out a little better as a 1970’s action shot.
2016 TSRchives 74T-4 Stephen Piscotty
Stephen Piscotty is one of the reasons the Cardinals let Jason Heyward leave after the season. He put on a show in last year’s NLDS, batting .375 with 3 homers, 5 runs and 6 RBI.

Kolten Wong recently signed a 5-year extension with the Cards, so we’ll be seeing him at second base for a while.
2016 TSRchives 74T-5 Kolten Wong
It seems like there are more Hawaiian players now than there have been in quite a while… Wong, Shane Victorino, Kurt Suzuki, among others. Sorry, I’m drawing a blank on things to say about Kolten Wong.

‘Wainwright’ has two W’s
They get that one wrong and I get the blues
That old grammar school try’s
Just not good enough, guys
‘Wainwright’ has two W’s…
2016 TSRchives 74T-6 Adam Wainwright
While creating this Adam Wainwright custom, I thought of the Loudon Wainwright III song “T.S.M.N.W.A.” (which stands for “They spelled my name wrong again”). As someone whose name is often misspelled, I completely appreciate this song. I try not to embed videos in my posts because of technical issues, but it’s easy enough to find on your own, if you’re curious.

Adam Wainwright missed most of last year to injury, but is working to re-establish himself as the Cardinals’ #1 pitcher.

Moving on to non-Cardinals, we have Joey Rickard of the Orioles. Joey is a Rule V guy who was selected out of the Rays organization after a big year in AAA. Rickard has gotten some notice in Spring Training, and manager Buck Showalter likes him, so I don’t know if Tampa Bay fans should leave a light on for Rickard.
2016 TSRchives 74T-8 Joey Rickard
…and I still don’t know if his name is pronounced RICK-ard or rick-ARD.

Over in Arizona, outfielder Boog Powell is getting attention, if only because his name is Boog Powell. No, he’s not related to THE Boog Powell, but as long as he doesn’t try to sell barbeque in Baltimore, I think he’ll be OK.
2016 TSRchives 74T-9 Boog Powell


Neil Walker’s Double Expos Connection

Until the Mets picked up Neil Walker in a trade, I didn’t realize how many Major Leaguers he was related to, nor that he had two ties to the Expos.
2015 Heritage Neil Walker

I read that Neil Walker is taking #20 with the Mets… His father, Tom Walker had pitched for several teams and wore #20 (although only with the Expos).

1974 Topps Tom Walker

1974 Topps Tom Walker (With a “cameo appearance” by Willie Mays on the right)

Neil Walker was unable to wear #20 with the Pirates as it had been retired for Pie Traynor.

It’s unusual for a current player to have a father who played in the 1970’s, so I will point out that Neil was born when Tom was 37 years old and long gone from professional baseball.

1975 Topps Tom Walker

I more or less knew about Neil Walker’s father having played in the Majors… But I didn’t know about his Uncle Chip.

Tom Walker’s wife Carolyn is the sister to another former Expos pitcher, Chip Lang.  Here’s his 1977 O-Pee-Chee card.

1977 OPC Chip Lang

…And the only reason I own Chip Lang’s OPC card is because it’s different from his 1977 Topps card.

1977 Topps Chip Lang

Chip Lang pitched 1 game in 1975 and 29 in 1976 and had been an Expos prospect until he suffered the dreaded “sore arm”.  I believe that these two cards make up a complete Chip Lang collection.

Not only did I not know about Neil Walker’s Uncle Chip, I didn’t know about his brother-in-law Don… Neil’s sister Carrie married this guy:

2014 Topps Don Kelly

Don Kelly has played over 500 games with the Tigers.  This past season he appeared in two games with the Marlins before sustaining a ligament tear and having Tommy John surgery.  The recovery time is shorter for position players so he could be back in 2016.

I will keep you updated if anyone else related to Neil Walker marries another baseball player.