Fast Five: Card #349 from 1974 to 1978 Topps

Today is the 349th day of 2017 and I’m featuring five cards numbered 349 from 1974 through 1978 Topps. The first time I did this, the response was “crickets”… but that’s better than “sad trombone”, so I decided to give it another try.  Perhaps this time I’ll move up from “crickets” to “Whuh?”

Card #349 from 1974 Topps – John Vukovich
John Vukovich was the 10th overall draft pick in 1966, but he’d never play more than 74 games in any Major League season. While he struggled to hit above The Mendoza Line, he was a defensive standout and a favorite among fans and teammates. He spent 24 seasons in a Phillies uniform as a player and coach, and would be inducted into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame in 2007.

Card #349 from 1975 Topps – Ray Sadecki
Ray Sadecki pitched 18 years in the majors, put in two stints each with the Cardinals and Mets, won 20 games in 1964 and lost 18 in 1967. In 1966 he was traded straight up for future HOFer Orlando Cepeda.

Card #349 from 1976 Topps – Walter Johnson from the All-Time All Stars subset
Walter Johnson… What do I say about Hall-Of-Famer Walter Johnson? For a quick visual representation of how dominant a pitcher he was, go look at how his Baseball Reference page is peppered with bold “league leader” type.

Card #349 from 1977 Topps – Jim Holt
Jim Holt didn’t play in the Majors after 1976; he spent 1977 with two teams in the Mexican League, and that ended his career. Before that he played 9 seasons with the Twins and A’s, and went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI in the 1974 World Series.

Card #349 from 1978 Topps – Rick Camp
Rick Camp pitched 9 years for the Braves and his only career homer came against the Mets at 3:30am in the bottom of the 18th inning of a game which started on July 4th, 1985 and which the Braves had been losing 11-10. The Mets would score 5 runs in the top of the 19th, the Braves would score two in the bottom of the 19th and Camp took the loss. The final linescore: Mets scored 16 runs on 28 hits and 2 errors, the Braves scored 13 on 18 hits and three errors.

…Oh, and the post-game fireworks show went off as scheduled… at 4am.

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Fast Five: Card #339 From 1974 – 1978 Topps Baseball

Why #339?  Today is the 339th day of 2017.

Why 1974 to 1978?  Those are the first five sets I collected, the first five I completed and among my all-time favorite sets.

Yeah, OK… but WHY?  Because I need to devote time to organizing my collection, which means I wanted some ideas for posts I could do without much mental effort… and featuring five different cards with the same card number from those five sets seemed like a potentially fun idea.  I guess we’re about to find out if this is the case…

#339 from 1974 – All-Star Pitchers (Jim Hunter and Rick Wise)

You’re probably not surprised at Catfish Hunter starting the 1973 All-Star Game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the most you know about Rick Wise is that he’s the guy the Cardinals got for Steve Carlton in 1972.

In the All-Star game, Rick Wise pitched 2 innings and got the win.  Hunter got a no-decision.  Rick Wise had also been traded after the 1973 season, so his regular 1974 card shows him airbrushed into a Red Sox cap.

#339 from 1975 – Jim Fregosi
Speaking of players who were traded for future HOF pitchers… Jim Fregosi was a 6-time All-Star, but those days were well behind him in 1975.

You know what struck me about this card when I was pulling it out of the binder?  Yes, it’s miscut, but why is there a strip of yellow at the top?  Every 1975 Topps uncut sheet I’ve seen is laid out so that the bottom color of one card is the top color of the card below it on the sheet…  A  miscut 1975 Fregosi like this should result in more red at the top, not a yellow strip.  Anybody have any insight into this?

#339 from 1976 – John Denny

John Denny’s 2.52 ERA in 1976 was best in the N.L., and he was just 23 years old.  He’d win the Cy Young in 1983 with the Phillies.

#339 from 1977 – Adrian Devine

Adrian Devine actually played for the Rangers in 1977, after a 12/9/76 trade.  His 1978 card shows him with the Rangers… but Devine had been traded back to the Braves on 12/8/77.  Just to screw with Topps one more time, Devine was traded back to the Rangers on 12/6/79, but he appeared with the Braves in the 1980 set.

#339 from 1978 – Mario Guerrero

Guerrero played his last game with the Angels in 1977.  He signed with the Giants as a free agent in November 1977… and at the beginning of the 1978 season, he was sent to the A’s as the “Player To Be Named Later”  in the trade which sent Vida Blue to the Giants.

Just to make it even more fun from a baseball card standpoint, Guerrero’s first game of 1978 was against the team he’s pictured with.

Fauxbacks And Throwbacks: Rays And Indians On 1978 Customs

This past weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians had a game which threw back to some unspecified year in the 1970’s. Of course, the Rays only go back to 1998, but God bless them, that doesn’t stop them from throwing back to the 1970’s.

I love any games which turn the clock back to the 1970’s, plus each team featured a player who spent the first half of the season with the Mets… and it also gives me an excuse to do some further work on my 1978 Topps baseball custom template… I mean, how could I resist?

Since the Rays were the home team driving the WABAC machine, I’ll start off by highlighting their unis, and their first baseman/DH Lucas Duda.

Sure, these unis are a knockoff of the Padres uniform of the late 1970’s, but I still like them.  I also like the fact that they use Fauxback uniforms rather than throwing back to the two older uniforms they could throw back to instead (the original rainbow “Devil Rays” and then the dark green “Rays” unis they wore from 2001 to 2007).

The Indians wore the solid red unis they wore from 1975 to 1977… and here’s our other former Met, Jay Bruce.  G’day, Bruce!

Bruce’s time with the Mets got off to a rough start last year, but I’d warmed up to him this year… just in time for him to be gone.  He could go back to the Mets as a free agent, I suppose.

Not the greatest shot of Francisco Lindor, but it shows off the uni nicely… and I like Lindor.

I probably should’ve made note of who’s foot he’s tagging.

The majority of 1978 Topps cards had the little baseball in the upper right, but it did migrate over to the left when the photo required it… If you don’t believe me, go pull out your 1978 Darrell Porter card.

I like this photo because it seemed sort of “1970’s action shot” ish.

In case anybody was wondering, I made the “Rays” script by taking the “R” from… um… I think it was the Royals… and merging it with the “ays” from “Blue Jays”.  A little squishing, a little nudging, a little stretching… et Voila!

Within the actual 1978 Topps set, the purple-y blue-ish script went with red borders (Orioles, Dodgers, Brewers, Pirates), but I felt justified in creating a new color combination for a team which didn’t exist in 1978.  Besides, it fits the Rays’ colors quite nicely.

As is always the case when I share any 1978 customs, I would like to take the opportunity to taunt challenge the graphics department at Topps.  Let’s get the 1978 design in Archives!  If someone like me, a self-taught amateur using 13-year-old software, can create these, then surely you highly-paid… or maybe not so highly-paid…. OK, fine, you paid professionals can handle it without breaking a sweat.

Random Team: 1978 Topps Kansas City Royals

I shoulda known.

I did my first random team set, had fun doing it and I got positive comments to that first post.  I thought that, at worst, I was building on the “Five Random Cubs Cards” posts that Wrigley Wax does every Sunday (as well as other people’s randomly-based posts).

…Only to realize that what I did was not some great idea out of the blue, not an adaptation of a different idea, but instead was the same as something that Night Owl’s been doing for a couple of years.  Damn.

After some deliberation I decided that I needed to go where inspiration takes me, no matter how lacking in originality it might be.  So with credit and apologies to Night Owl, I’m going to keep doing these posts as long as I enjoy them and you read them.

Anyway, I fired up the randomizer again and came up with the Kansas City Royals from 1978 Topps.

This is very welcome to me, because 1978 was the 5th and final year of my initial “Topps can do no wrong!” phase where I completed every set within, at most, two years of starting it.

Sadly, there are no cartoons on the backs of 1978 Topps cards and there are no airbrushed Royals in this team set, so the “Best Cartoon” and “Notable Airbrushing” categories will get a rest time around.

The 1978 Royals finished in 1st with a 92-70 record, 5 games ahead of the Angels and Rangers.  They lost the ALCS to the Yankees in four.

Manager Whitey Herzog had taken over the Royals midway through the 1975 season and had had nothing but success with the team.  His prior two managerial jobs didn’t go as well.  He lost 91 of 138 games with the 1973 Rangers before being fired.  He went 2-2 as an interim manager for the 1974 Angels.

Whitey is in the HOF as a manager;  as an outfielder he kicked around with the Senators, KC Athletics, Orioles and Tigers for 8 seasons.  As is all-too-often the case with manager cards, this “old guy” from my youth was younger (46) than I am now.  *Sigh*

Best Offensive Player: 

Nope, not George Brett.  I’d almost forgotten how good Amos Otis could be.  He batted .298 with 74 Runs, 30 doubles, 22 homers, 96 RBI, and 32 Stolen Bases.

Best Pitcher: 

Dennis Leonard went 21-17 with a 3.33 ERA, 183 K’s, 20 complete games and 4 shutouts.  Just to pick a random current veteran pitcher, Justin Verlander has 23 complete games spread out over his 11 full seasons.

Best Performance In A Supporting Role: 

Larry Gura went16-4, 2.72 with a 1.096 WHIP.  Like Elston Howard in Monday’s post, Gura gets an extra brownie point for being with the Yankees during the short time I liked the Yankees.

Guy I can’t NOT mention (and, yeah, fine he also has the All-Star shield): 

George Brett lead the league with 45 doubles and batted .294, but Amos Otis’ overall numbers were better.

Best Name:

You’re welcome, 11-year-old boys of all ages.  Joe Zdeb came in a close second.

Something about this photo reminds me of George Harrison.  Pete LaCock doesn’t really look like George Harrison, but I think there’s something about his expression that reminds me of George.  I don’t know… it’s stupid but I mention it anyway.

Best Rookie Card: 

U.L. Washington can brag about how much his rookie card is worth, and maybe he’ll forget to mention that he shares it with two HOFers a HOFer, a player who probably should be in the HOF… AND the awesomely-named Mickey Klutts.

Best Player not on a card:
Pitcher Rich Gale’s rookie card would come in 1979 Topps.  As a 24-year-old in 1978 he went 14-8 with a 3.09 ERA and 3 shutouts.  He finished 4th in AL ROY voting (Lou Whitaker was the winner) and finished tied with Ken Singleton for 34th (!!!!) in AL MVP voting (Jim Rice was the winner;  Rick Burleson and Frank Tanana tied for 36th).

Best In-Game/Action Shot: 

I modified the name of this category because Darrell Porter’s not actually doing anything and the true action shots in this team set are kinda boring.  This is also the winner of the “Favorite Card” category.

Most Likely To Succeed (Down The Road):

Buck played for the Brewers in 1978 after being involved in an offseason 3-team trade.  He’d later manage the Blue Jays, and was also the manager of the USA team in the first World Baseball Classic.  He currently is a broadcaster for the Blue Jays.

Player I scanned and uploaded by mistake and, well, here he is:
I could’ve also listed him as “Best Aviators”.

Not that Al Cowens was a slouch;  he was second in 1977 MVP voting, and in 1978 he batted .274 with 63 runs and 63 RBI (not a typo).


The White Sox Got Very 1970’s; I Got Very Nerdy

Thursday night, the Chicago White Sox threw back to their late 1970’s “leisure suit” uniforms.  I love anything associated with 1970’s baseball, and these uniforms are so bad that they’re…

No, sorry, I can’t go there.  1970’s or not, they’re not “so bad that they’re good”.  They’re just bad… tremendously bad.  …But I do appreciate the fact that the White Sox did throwback to these unis, and I can’t let 1970’s throwbacks go by without making customs…
2015 TSR 1978 Carlos Rondon
Officially, these uniforms “throw back” to 1976, but they didn’t show up on baseball cards until 1977… and I don’t have a 1977 template yet, so I went with 1978.  It still works.

While I was making these, I also decided to play around with some ideas I’d had to simulate the printing of 1970’s baseball cards.

NOTE TO THE CASUAL READER:  I can understand if any of the following makes your eyes glaze over, and I won’t be offended if you stop reading… but just so you know, there are several more customs in this post.  Go check ’em out before you bail on me.

Part of the problem with making customs using today’s technology is that the customs end up being high-definition, and that takes away from the illusion of the throwback card. I’ve been thinking of ways around that, and these are my first experiments with that concept.

My graphics software has an interesting pair of tools… “Split Channel” and “Combine Channel”. Split Channel more or less gives you images like you’d have on a printing plate. For these cards, I split them into three channels, Red, Blue and Green (RGB), which I think is true to 1970’s printing. I could’ve also done it as CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), which is what we generally pull when we get printing plate inserts in our wax packs.

Anyway, I made a custom, saved it, split it into RGB channels, which created a red, green and blue image.  In order to simulate a printing mistake, I took the “blue” image, adjusted the brightness, moved it just a tiny bit so it wouldn’t align with the other two colors, and then combined the three channels back into one image; this is what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson RGB mess with blue

And this is the original:
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson

It’s a subtle difference, especially when you’re viewing it on a blog, but it does give it a sort of “not a PSA 10” quality that I was looking for.

For the next custom, I did something similar but I messed with the red channel instead of the blue… and probably messed a little too much, because the custom ended up with a blue tinge… but that’s cool, it’s all part of the experiment, right?
2015 TSR 1978 Tyler Saladino RBG Red adjust

For the final custom, I tried another idea. I created the custom, then I duplicated that image into another layer, brought the transparency of the top layer way down to something like 20%, and then I moved it slightly horizontally and vertically. I was hoping to give it a little “fuzziness”.  Here’s what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 Adam Eaton offset

None of these are exactly what I had in mind, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t successful experiments.

And yes, I am a total nerd.

You Can Ignore This Post If You’re Not Interested In Custom Cards Or 1978 Topps

Alternately, if you’re interested in knowing why I used to post on a daily basis and no longer do, this will shed some light on the type of thing that distracts me from seeing things through to completion.

First I need to explain something…  Ever since I started making custom cards, it’s been a goal to make realistic-looking cards in the style of the 1978 Topps set.  The main reason I wanted to do this is because I love the set, but the second reason was because of the challenge it presents.

The challenge comes from the team name at the bottom.
1978 Topps Mike Flanagan
That’s not a font. That’s calligraphy, and a bit of a problem when it comes to making customs of the five teams which didn’t exist in 1978 (Nationals, Rockies, Marlins, Rays and Diamondbacks).

As I’d run through in a previous post, I had a secret evil plan in mind to fake my way through these problematic teams by playing Dr. Frankenstein with the existing team names, surgically removing letters or combinations of letters and piecing them back together in a way that God (or Topps) never intended.
Faked up Nationals

Also, as mentioned in that same previous post, Topps had created their own “Wall Art” in the 1978 design, and included several teams (but not all) of the missing teams.
Topps Timothy Raines Art Collection - Rockies
I could just copy their version of “Rockies”, but I wasn’t happy with some of their artwork… and I’d still have to create my own “Marlins”.

I started playing around with this stuff, but I’ve always got too many irons in the fire and this particular iron cooled off a bit.

…And then…

Over at The Phillies Room, they are making plans for the 2016 Chachi set and working to determine which of four Topps designs (1970, 1971, 1978, 1982) will be the basis for that custom set’s design (You have my permission to go over there and vote, as long as you come back here).

In trying to decide on which set to vote for, I was flipping through my 1978 Topps binder when I inadvertently reenacted a scene from pretty much every TV detective show since the dawn of television (and for the purposes of this little vignette, pretend I have an assistant, even though in reality I do not):

Joe Shlabotnik is flipping through a binder when he suddenly appears stricken, looks up and speaks to nobody.
Joe: Of course!  It was right in front of me all the time!
Assistant: What?
Joe: (Frantically flipping through the binder, searching for something) How could I have been so blind?
Assistant: …What???
Joe: (Grabbing the binder and starts to run out of the room) If it were a snake it would’ve bitten me!
Assistant: WHAT?!?!?
Joe: (Stops, pauses to gather himself, and turns back to the Assistant) All along, all of my primary suspects were the teams… But we’d completely overlooked…

(Dramatic Pause)

…THE CHECKLISTS!
1978 Topps Checklist 1-121

All along I though we had 26 words to play with, when we actually have 27.

This is far from a major medical breakthrough, but it does have some ramifications…

First off, we’ve got a lower-case “c” in there, something that doesn’t exist in any of the team names.

Second, we’ve got a “ck” combination.  What else uses the “ck” combination?  RoCKies.  DiamondbaCKs (or D-BaCKs, however you want to go).

Third, we’ve got an “li” combination that can be used in Marlins. (Or we can just stick with the previous plans of combining MARiners, a random “L” and “twINS”).

And, if nothing else, it’s just another arrow in the quiver.  You never know when it might come in handy for doing older MLB teams, minor league teams, Japanese teams, NFL teams, whatever.

OK, now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to my idle pondering of what colors combinations would work best for the 1978 Rockies, Marlins, Rays and D-Backs…

The Nightly Show With Larry Milbourne

The other day I was talking to someone about The Nightly Show, which is the new show on Comedy Central which airs after The Daily Show.

After a few minutes of conversation, I suddenly realized that instead of referring to the host as Larry Wilmore…
2015 TSR Fauxback Larry Wilmore

…I’d spent several minutes referring to him as Larry Milbourne.
1975 Topps Larry Milbourne

Whoops.

Larry Wilmore may have his own TV show, but he was never named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team…

1978 Topps Larry Milbourne

Wilmore didn’t have the walk-off double in the Mariners’ first-ever win (4/8/77).

1981 Fleer Larry Milbourne

And Wilmore was never involved in a trade where another player was essentially traded for himself:
November 18, 1980: Traded by the Seattle Mariners with a player to be named later to the New York Yankees for Brad Gulden and $150,000. The Seattle Mariners sent Brad Gulden (May 18, 1981) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.