Random Team Review: 1975 Topps Milwaukee Brewers

This post is one of those times I put my thumb on the randomizer’s scale; I wanted to do a 1975 Topps team set, but the choice of team was random.

The 1975 Milwaukee Brewers finished the season with a 68-94 record, which put them in 5th in the American League East… 28 games behind the Red Sox.

Manager Del Crandall was fired before the final game of the season, and rumors were flying that Hank Aaron would be the new manager.  As it turned out, the Brew Crew would be managed by Alex Grammas in 1976, and the team wasn’t any better under him.

Before we get off the team card, I want to show the back of this card, which was dutifully checked-off by me back in 1975.

That’s what you do with checklists… You check them (or color in the squares in my case).

I’m going to get the two most obvious cards out of the way from the start…

Best Rookie card
Duh.

I’m working on two of these “Random Team” posts simultanously.  The other team has a rough choice of rookie cards.  Not the case with this set.

Robin Yount – who I should point out didn’t turn 20 years old until September, 1975 –  batted .267 with 67 runs, 52 RBI and 28 doubles.

Most Notable Airbrushing
Another “Duh”.

41-year-old Hank Aaron returned to Milwaukee to hit just 12 homers in 1975, his career-lowest for a season with at least 500 PA’s.  He’d also be an All-Star for the 25th and final time (He did play in 1976 but didn’t make the All-Star team).

Best Offensive Player;  Best On-Field Photo

In 1975 George “Boomer” Scott was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and lead the AL with 36 homers and 109 RBI.

Top Pitcher (shown on a card with the Brewers)

Jim Colborn went 11-13, 4.27 with 2 saves in 29 starts and 7 relief appearances.

Top Player pictured with another team:

Pete Broberg had the best record and ERA of anyone in the starting rotation.  He had been acquired in a trade at the 1974 Winter Meetings, and went 14-16, 4.13 with 7 complete games and 2 shutouts.  He also was tops in the American League by hitting 16 batters.

Best Name;  Best Nickname
Stormin’ Gorman Thomas

I should point out that Stormin’ Gorman wouldn’t stand a chance in the “Best Name” competition if Lafayette Currence, a pitcher who made 8 appearances in 1975, was included in 1975 Topps… Let’s not forget Sixto Lezcano, who was a regular in 1975 but whose rookie card was in 1976 Topps.

Best Cartoon

Most Obvious Hint For A Trivia Question

Card With The Most Personal Significance
As I’ve mentioned here before, back in 1975 or possibly 1976, this Ed Sprague was the final card I needed for my 1975 Topps set.

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More 1975 Customs: Mets Scattered On The Four Winds

Once again, I’m doing some 1975 customs as a “proof of concept” for a project I’ve got going on this winter. This time around, I’m featuring players who started the season with the Mets but are now elsewhere.

Before we get into the customs, here’s a bit of trivia I picked up watching a nationally-televised Mets game (FS1, I think… maybe ESPN):
How many players from this year’s opening day starting lineup are currently on the Mets active roster?

While you think about that, here are the customs along with the transactions in chronological order:

July 27th; Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays for Drew Smith.

July 31st; Addison Reed to the Boston Red Sox for Jamie Callahan (who just got called up) and two minor leaguers

August 9th; Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians for a minor leaguer

August 12th; Neil Walker to the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later

August 19th; Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a PTBNL (which a day later became Jacob Rhame, also a September call-up)

August 19th; Rene Rivera claimed on waivers by the Chicago Cubs

Answer to the trivia: Two of the nine Mets from the opening day starting lineup are currently active and with the Mets: Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes.

Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard are on the DL and the other five players are shown above (with the exception of reliever Addison Reed, of course).

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.

BEST PITCHER
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.

BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
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.

BEST ROOKIE
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.

BEST PLAYER NOT ON A 1974 CARD
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

BEST ON-FIELD PHOTO
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.

BEST CARTOON
This is from Jim Shellenback’s card:

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

“BEFORE HE WAS WHO HE WAS” GUY
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.

MOST CONSISTENT (IN A WAY) PITCHER
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.

Hank Aaron Heritage Weekend ==> 1975 Customs

Last weekend the Atlanta Braves observed “Hank Aaron Heritage Weekend” and wore throwbacks to 1974, the year when Aaron set the record for career homers.  As it so happened, I’ve been messing with a 1975 Topps template for an upcoming project which you’ll likely see this Winter (hint, hint).

And so, with almost no text save for the last one, here are the resulting customs…

This custom is for Fuji (and because Kurt Suzuki was kind enough to hit a 2-run homer, which meant that I was able to find images of him hitting said homer).

I actually made this custom twice; the first one had a blue & green border, but then I ran across the 1975 Topps card for Mike Lum who, like Suzuki, hails from Hawaii. At that point, I knew I had to make the Suzuki custom using the same colors as the original Mike Lum.

I’ve got another batch of these customs coming… not involving throwback uniforms or the Braves, but I just wanted to take my messing around with the 1975 design to the next phase.  You’ll probably see those before too long.

Cherry-Picking The 30 Day Challenge: “A Card Of A Common Player That Always Seemed To Elude You”

One thing I’ve come to appreciate about the 30 Day Challenge set up by Tony over at Off-Hiatus Baseball is that when I give thought to some of the topics, it often spurs me to write about something I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time.

When I finish the post about “A card you spent more than $10 to get”, you’ll read about a set I completed just over a year ago, and that last card was one which is on many people’s wantlists.

This post isn’t like that.  This post is about the first set I’d ever completed, 1975 Topps.

Now if someone were to tell you today that they just completed the 1975 set, they’d probably tell you that their last card they needed was the rookie card for George Brett, Gary Carter or Robin Yount.

But I completed 1975 Topps back in 1975, before I even knew that cards could have any kind of monetary value.  The evasive last card of the set wasn’t missing because it was expensive, it was missing because I had simply never run across it before.

The last card I needed was #73, Ed Sprague.

Ed freakin’ Sprague.

None of my friends had this card, so I had to fall back on the “secondary market”, which at the time meant garage sales and a flea market that the local high school occasionally held.  I was looking for this card for what seemed like a very long time, all while wondering who the heck Ed Sprague is.

When I did find the card, it was a mix of “Yay, I completed the set!” and “Yay, I can stop looking for Ed Sprague!”

If you’re wondering who Ed Sprague is…

Edward Nelson Sprague was coming off of what was probably his best season, going 7-2, 2.39 in 20 games as a reliever and spot starter.

Two of Ed Sprague’s more notable achievements:

  1.  As a scout for the Orioles, he signed Mike Mussina.
  2. He’s the father of Ed Sprague, Jr., who played 11 seasons and was an All-Star with the Pirates in 1999.

Ed Sprague has a very spotty baseball card history. His rookie card was a 1969 Hi # which showed him with the A’s. His second card was in 1972 Topps (Reds). His third card is the one above, and his final card is from 1976 SSPC.

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…

Mike

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…

Greg

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.

Peter
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.

Bobby
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.

Carol
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.

Marcia
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.

Jan
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.

Cindy
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…

Alice
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…