I’m Calling It: Turns Out I’m Not A Set Collector After All

Since it’s the end of the year and I’m feeling introspective, I’m going to devote a couple of posts to reflection, navel-gazing and all that kind of stuff

So back in my younger days, I considered myself a set collector. At the time, before relics and autographs numbered inserts and parallels and such, that was pretty much the common perception of the hobby. A set came out, it was collected.

Over the past few years, however, I started to wonder… If I’m such a set collector, why do I go from year to year leaving a series of partial sets in my wake? Why have I not completed a current-year set since 2007? And why was that set build so anticlimactic?

On the other hand, back in 2013 I’d completed the 1975 Topps Football set I’d started as a kid, and I had a great time doing so.

Same goes for 1973 Topps baseball, although I completed it only because I serendipitously ran across an affordable Schmidt rookie.

Earlier this year I decided that 40 years was long enough to have been chasing the 1979 set.  I already had the Ozzie Smith Rookie…

…So all I’d needed to chase was minor stars and commons, so it was more a matter of tracking those cards down than any worries about budgets and the like.

Over the summer I went to a card show where a dealer had boxes of 1960’s and 1970’s commons in numerical order. I bought a small stack, got my needs down to five cards and got a little bit excited seeing that the end was near.

I made a trade with Twitterer extraordinaire and published author Mark Del Franco, and I got two cards including my most significant remaining need, the Bob Horner rookie card.

That left me with just three cards, but they were proving a bit difficult to find. I struck out at a semi-local card store. I struck out with some friends I checked with. I struck out at the one semi-local card show. In order to finish this off before my self-imposed 12/31/2019 deadline, I overpaid slightly and got the cards as part of a batch from an online card seller.

I got the cards and I smiled a little.

I put them in the binder and flipped through the now-completed set.

There was not much of a sense of accomplishment. There was no self-satisfaction, no celebration. It wasn’t much more than checking an item off my hobby to-do list. I couldn’t even bring myself to tweet about completing the set.  Instead of feeling like it would be celebrating an accomplishment with my online hobby buddies, it felt more like a commercial real estate listing:

Joe Shlabotnik, dba The Shlabotnik Report, purchased 3 commons to complete the 1979 Topps Baseball card set. The acquisition gives the buyer control over adjacent complete sets from 1973 to 1981.

That’s when it sank in that I wasn’t collecting 1979 Topps out of love for the set, I was collecting 1979 Topps because I started it in 1979 and felt like I should complete it.

So given the relative lack of enthusiasm over something I should’ve been enthusiastic about, I’m now officially and publicly declaring that I am NOT really a set collector. Yes, you may read about me attempting to complete sets, but going forward that will be in the sense of “I love these cards and I’m going to keep acquiring them until there’s nothing left for me to get”, rather than “I need a new project and I’ve decided that I’m going to build the 1969 Topps set”.

So what does this mean going forward?

I’ve been looking forward to 2020 Heritage for a few years now, partially because it feels like this is really and truly entering the 1970’s and also because of how much I enjoyed the 1971 knockoff that was 2002 Upper Deck Vintage.

…But will I make a run at completing the set? I’m not making any decisions until after I’ve busted a bunch of packs. To be honest, I didn’t complete the 2002 UD Vintage set, so that might be an indication.

As for vintage complete sets, I have long-term plans to complete the five 1970’s Hostess sets, and I’m thinking about the 1976 Kellogg’s set.  Beyond that, I don’t see myself going beyond smaller projects like team sets and oddball sets.

So what about you? Has anybody else had a recent change in collecting goals or strategy?

Four 1970’s Burger King Cards With Their Topps Counterparts

There was a bit of a conversation on Twitter regarding 1978 Burger King cards which act as a sort of ersatz “Update” for 1978 Topps, and that inspired me to get off my butt and share a couple of these cards, plus two more from 1979.

John Lowenstein came up with the Indians and spent the first 8 years of his career in Cleveland, which is what is reflected on his 1978 Topps card…

…Before being shipped off to Texas in a trade involving David Clyde and Willie Horton.  Lowenstein’s 1978 Burger King card (issued as part of a Rangers team set) reflects that.

Lowenstein would spend one year in Texas before being selected on waivers by the Orioles.  “Brother Low” would become a fan favorite and World Champion in Baltimore.

The Yankees signed Rich “Goose” Gossage as a free agent in November, 1977.. That was early enough for Topps to get their artists to do a head-to-toe job on Gossage’s Pirates uniform – aside from the fact that Gossage pitched for the Bucs in 1977, you can kinda tell from the pillbox-y shape of his Yankees cap.

Something which just occurred to me;  does the fact that his sleeves were airbrushed mean that the original photo features a gold undershirt?  You’d think that if the sleeves were black they’d just leave them as it is.


For the Burger King Yankees set, the airbrushed action photo is replaced by a real portrait.

Gossage would lead the league with 27 saves in 1978.

Moving forward a year, we have Doug Bird wearing a Royals uniform in the 1979 Topps set…

…But he was sold to the Phillies on April 3rd, 1979 and the 1979 Burger King Phillies set has him in an airbrushed Phillies cap.  It’s interesting that the BK sets were “put to bed” late enough to reflect an end-of-spring-training deal.

It’s a pretty decent airbrush job, as well… although the pinstripes are missing from the “home” uniform.

Finally, 1979 Topps team cards featured the managers in little round thumbnail portraits.

For the Burger King Phillies set, the team card was replaced by a card of manager Danny Ozark.

Interestingly enough, there was also a 1979 Burger King Yankees set, but that set did not include a solo card for manager Bob Lemon.  Instead, there was a team card which had the same front as the Topps team checklist card, but the back featured a list of Yankees team records instead of a checklist.

Three 1970’s Burger King Cards With Their Topps Counterparts

Because I don’t have time to write a deeply insightful post, I’m going to fall back on one of my ongoing series… in this case, “Contrast And Compare” in which I highlight Topps cards and their close relatives.  Today, it’s Burger King sets of the late 1970’s.

…Starting with Jim Spencer from the 1978 Burger King Yankees set.  Obviously these cards were produced by Topps.

Spencer was coming off his second Gold Glove season with the 1977 White Sox, and was obtained by the Yankees in a five-player late 1977 trade where Spencer was the only one who would play in the Majors after the trade.  Spencer would appear in only 71 games for the 1978 Yankees with only 15 games playing at first.

Here’s Spencer’s 1978 Topps card which shows him in those regrettable White Sox uniforms:

Al Oliver was a key member of the Pirates from 1969 to 1977 before being sent to Texas in a four-team trade which also involved Bert Blyleven, Willie Montanez, Jon Matlack, John Milner and Ken Henderson.

Oliver would play four seasons with the Rangers, two as an All-Star.  Perhaps he welcomed the trade;   after all, he looks kinda bored on his 1978 Topps card:

Finally we’ll wrap up with a 1979 Burger King Yankees Ron Guidry card.

Guidry was coming off of a phenomenal Cy Young Award season;  this career Yankee got a different card even though it wasn’t completely necessary.

Here’s his 1979 Topps card…

If you think the photo used for the Burger King card seems familiar, that’s because it was also used in 1979 Topps — but on a Record Breaker card:

Contrast And Compare: Greg Gross And Manny Trillo From 1979 Topps / Burger King

During the late 1970’s, I was a baseball card snob who looked down upon anything that didn’t come in wax, cello or rack packs. What a fool I was. :-)

The Burger King sets from 1977 to 1980 acted as “traded sets” for at least a few teams, and now I’m trying to make up for lost time by tracking down these cards. Today I’ve got two more examples.

The Cubs and Phillies made an eight-player trade in late February, 1979; this trade was well past any deadlines in effect for the Topps set, but two of the Philly-bound players made it into the Burger King Phillies set.

In this trade, the Phillies sent Ted Sizemore, Barry Foote, Jerry Martin and two other players to the Cubs for Dave Rader…

…Greg Gross…

…and infielder Manny Trillo…

In 1979 there were only Burger King sets for the Yankees and Phillies, so the guys going to Chicago didn’t appear on cardboard in a Cubs uniform until 1980 (if at all). Dave Rader, who would play only 31 games with the Phillies uniform, also didn’t get the BK treatment.

But there were Burger King cards for Manny Trillo and Greg Gross.

Greg Gross would play 10 years for the Phillies as a pinch hitter and backup outfielder. Gross is the Phillies pinch hit king and 5th all-time in the Majors with 143 pinch hits. He won a World Series with the Phillies in 1980 and finished 2nd in 1974 N.L. Rookie Of The Year voting, behind Bake McBride and ahead of Bill Madlock.

Interestingly enough, Manny Trillo got airbrushed in this set, even though he was acquired in the same trade as Greg Gross.

Trillo was originally signed by the Phils, went to the A’s in the Rule V draft and was traded to the Cubs in the Billy Williams deal.

In his four years with the Phillies, Trillo won 3 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers and was an All-Star twice, in addition to being named the MVP of the 1980 NLCS.

Does anybody out there have a Manny Trillo collection going? He strikes me as a fun guy to collect… He was good enough to make a number of oddball sets, but well-traveled enough (38 games with the A’s, 17 games with the Reds, 31 games with the Expos and 88 with the Indians) to make for plenty of… variety, for lack of a better word. After a fairly quick search, I could only find one card which showed him with the A’s (1974 Topps Rookie Shortstops), two cards which showed him with the Reds (1989 Bowman and 1989 Topps Big Baseball) and a handful of cards which show him in Expos and Indians uniforms.

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.

2016 Archives: Topps, You Are On Notice!

Topps recently announced that the three main designs they will use for 2016 Archives are the designs from 1953, 1991 and 1979.

Just like everybody does impressions of Bill Clinton or Christopher Walken, everybody who does customs does 1979 Topps…  And I mean everybodyEVERYBODY!

Almost missed a couple:   Every – body!

I myself have gotten a fair amount of use out of my 97T template, and tweaked it a bit for this post.

2016 TSR 79T Ichiro Suzuki

When it comes to replication, designs just don’t come much easier than 1979 Topps.

2016 TSR 79T Kyle Schwarber

…which is why I make this solemn vow:  Topps, if you screw up 79T, I swear I WILL COME DOWN ON YOU LIKE A TON OF BRICKS!

…Not that anybody involved with Topps will even notice that it’s happened, but the fact remains that I WILL COME DOWN ON YOU LIKE A TON OF BRICKS!

2016 TSR 79T Odubel Herrera

And the same goes for 1953!!!

2016 TSR 53T Steven Matz

I gotta admit, I was so pleased with the way this 1953 Steven Matz came out that I’m almost a little afraid to try another 1953 custom.  I guess we’ll see.

Oh, and by the way… Being snowed in and all this weekend, I got a little carried away with the 1979 template…

2016 TSR 79T Caleb Joseph

2016 TSR 79T Justin Turner

2016 TSR 79T Max Kepler

Maybe I’m overcompensating for the fact that I couldn’t drive out to the store to buy a box of cereal with a Hot Stove card in it… Next weekend, I promise.


1980, Here I Come! Right Back Where I Started From…

Something which has been a mild source of embarrassment for many years is the incomplete state of my 1979 and 1980 sets.

To explain why it’s a mild source of embarrassment, I have to give you a little personal history.

I started collecting in 1974 and eventually completed a master set from that year, including the Traded set, “Washington Nat’l Lea.” cards and all of the other variations.
1974 Topps Luke Walker

1975 was the year I fell hard for collecting, completing the baseball set…
1975 Topps John Hiller
…And getting about 75% of the Football set (which I finally completed a couple of years ago).
1975 Topps Football Ken Houston

Back in the day, I also completed the ’76, ’77 and ’78 sets in relatively short order.

1979 was a different story.
1979 Topps Denny Martinez
I didn’t like 1979 Topps as well as as I had liked the prior sets, plus I was a teenager and my friends had moved on to other things. 1979 was the first year I actively collected cards yet didn’t complete the set.

1980 Topps was a similar story…
1980 Topps Dave Parker
At the time, I’d dismissed the set as a warmed-over 1974 design, and while I bought a bunch, I didn’t get close to completing the set.

The introduction of competition in 1981 rekindled my interest and I completed both the Topps and Fleer sets. I lapsed again in 1982 and didn’t complete another Topps set until 1988, but I’m not as concerned about those sets.

For years I’d been saying “If I stop screwing around and complete those two sets, I’d have a run of complete Topps sets for my first eight years of collecting”, but it wasn’t until a year or two ago I decided that my mild embarrassment needed to be counteracted with a similarly mild push to complete both of these sets, with greater focus on 1980 because it’s grown on me over the years.

The biggest obstacle I faced for the 1980 set was the Rickey Henderson rookie.

Last year I bought a box that contained someone’s childhood collection of late 1970’s and early 1980’s cards. I filled a number of 1979 and 1980 wants with some musty, fairly-well-loved cards… But naturally, there was no Rickey.

At a show this past spring I picked up a couple of stars (like the Dave Parker featured above) and even found a 1980 wrapper for $2.
1980 Topps baseball wrapper
But, again… No Rickey.

Finally, a couple of months ago, I found what I was looking for on COMC… A G/VG Rickey for under $10. Condition’s never been of primary importance for me, so I pounced.
1980 Topps Rickey Henderson
It’s got a big ol’ crease in the upper left, but the crease doesn’t touch Rickey himself;  otherwise the card’s seen a fair amount of action but is in decent enough shape.

…And now I’m out of excuses.  Guess I should move my 1980 Topps effort a notch or two up from “mild”, huh?

A Goofy Custom Which Was Inspired By A Typo

In this past Saturday’s post about The Next Fifteen Years Of Heritage, I originally fat-fingered the name of the 1979 Topps All-Time Record Holders subset as “All-Tim Record Holders”.  I corrected it before I posted, but the dumb-ass idea I got from the typo was one I couldn’t resist.

And so…

1979 Topps All Tim Strikeouts Lincecum Wakefield

Given the amount of time I spent researching this, I wouldn’t bet my life that Lincecum and Wakefield are, in fact, the record holders for strikeouts by players named Tim, but I’m fairly confident that the following is correct:

  • The All-Tim high for strikeouts in a season is Tim Lincecum with 265 in 2008, the first of his two Cy Young seasons.
  • The All-Tim career high for strikeouts is Tim Wakefield with 2,156 while pitching for the Pirates (1992-1993) and Red Sox (1995-2011).

Got The Time Tick-Tick-Tickin’ In My Head…

Monday evening I had a post ready to go, but when I came back to it Tuesday morning to post it, it seemed a little more mean-spirited than what I’d intended, so I shelved it and ran one of my “reserve posts” in it’s place.

But it also threw off my schedule for the week… I’ve got a couple of posts in the works, but none are ready.

That got me thinking that I could write up something new, but I’d need time…Where would I find the time?

That’s when I decided to do another one of my playlists, this time featuring songs that include “Time” in the title.

There are a heck of a lot of songs with “Time” in the title.  Even after I took out the lesser songs and songs with compound words like “Summertime”, “Sometime” or “Anytime”, I had a bunch. I then cut out songs that had “Times” in it (i.e. “Where Have All The Good Times Gone”), and I ended up with 44 songs.

Here they are, in alphabetical order.  Feel free to add anything I forgot or just didn’t know about.

Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More – The Allman Brothers Band
All Kinds of Time – Fountains of Wayne
Any Time At All – The Beatles
Bad Time – Grand Funk
Big Time – Peter Gabriel
Born at the Right Time – Paul Simon
Borrowed Time – John Lennon

1970 Topps Mike Lum

1970 Topps Mike Lum

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? – Chicago
Falling for the First Time – Barenaked Ladies
Feels Like the First Time – Foreigner
Foreplay/Long Time – Boston
Get It Right The First Time – Billy Joel
Got the Time – Joe Jackson
Have a Good Time – Paul Simon

1993 O-Pee-Chee Kirk McCaskill

1993 O-Pee-Chee Kirk McCaskill

Long Time – Cake
Long Time Gone – Crosby, Stills & Nash
Lovers in a Dangerous Time – Barenaked Ladies
Night Time – J. Geils Band
No Time – The Guess Who
No Time This Time – The Police
Not A Second Time – The Beatles
Not Enough Time – INXS

1980 Topps Bert Blyleven

1980 Topps Bert Blyleven

Once Upon A Time In The West – Dire Straits
One More Time – Joe Jackson
One Piece At A Time – Johnny Cash
Right Place, Wrong Time – Dr. John
She’s Right On Time – Billy Joel
The Longest Time – Billy Joel

1979 Topps Mike Schmidt

1979 Topps Mike Schmidt

The Time Warp – Rocky Horror Cast
This Is the Time – Billy Joel
Time – Pink Floyd
Time – The Alan Parsons Project
Time After Time – The Hooters (Their version of the Cyndi Lauper song)
Time After Time (Annelise) – R.E.M.
Time and Time Again – The Smithereens
Time Has Come Today – The Chambers Brothers
Time Is On My Side – Rolling Stones
Time Is Tight – Booker T. & the MG’s
Time of the Season – The Zombies
Time the Avenger – The Pretenders
Time To Let Me Go – Gloriana
Time To Run – Lord Huron
Twilight Time – The Moody Blues
Your Time Is Gonna Come – Led Zeppelin

1972 Topps Bobby Heise

1972 Topps Bobby Heise

I’m Tired Of Looking For Topps… How About A Pack Of NOT-2015 Topps?

All week I’ve been in and out of Target and Wal-Mart stores, at least one each day, trying to find packs of 2015 Topps. I feel like the employees are saying “Here comes another one of those guys who walks in, looks at the card aisle, and walks out”.

I think I’ve had enough for now… Instead of busting a pack of new cards, how about we bust an 8-card pack of Not 2015! Not Topps!
Not 2015 Not Topps pack

First card is a 1979 Topps Gaylord Perry… Not a bad kickoff, although I guess that the “Not Topps” thing on the wrapper turned out to be false advertising. You think I fully think these posts through before I write them? Pfft.
1979 Topps Gaylord Perry
I unfortunately missed Gaylord Perry’s halftime show at the Super Bowl, although I can’t imagine what he would’ve–

What’s that?

Katy Perry did the halftime show?


I would rather have seen Gaylord Perry.

Even though this pack we’re opening is standard size, you come to the next card and are blinded by a flash of light, then find that the next card is a 5″ x 7″ 1980 Topps Super of Dave Parker.
1980 Topps 5x7 Dave parker
I don’t know why, but the whole “card is bigger than the pack it came in” made me think of the old text-based computer games that were popular among us computer nerds around 1980.

You find yourself in a small room. There is nothing here but a pack of baseball cards.
> open pack
You can’t open something you don’t have.
> take pack

…and at this point anybody below the age of 45 has already closed the browser tab and is off to check out Night Owl’s latest post.

Wait! Wait! Don’t go! Look, I’ve got Tom Seaver from the 1985 Fleer set!  He’s a Hall-Of-Famer!  He’s smiling!  Look how happy he is to be here!
1985 Fleer Tom Seaver
See, there are cards in this pack that aren’t Topps.

Rick Cerone signs a baseball for fans of — QUICK! What team is he with on this card?
1992 Stadium Club Rick Cerone
The answer is at the bottom of this post.  O!  The suspense!

One of the insert sets in last year’s Heritage was a “First Draft” set that featured a handful of players, and they all looked like nice cards, but as a Mets fan the one I really wanted was Nolan Ryan. I bought a wax box of Heritage. I bought a couple of blasters of Heritage. I bought loose packs of Heritage. Every “First Draft” card I got was Johnny Freakin’ Bench. I ended up using a small amount of my COMC credit to finally get this one.
2014 Topps Heritage First Draft Nolan Ryan
“295th Overall”, in very small type.  That’s my favorite part of the card.

Speaking of Heritage, this card should perhaps whet your appetite for the 2015 set.
1966 Topps Luis Aparicio
I know, I know, the 1966 design doesn’t hold a candle to 1965. I still like the set in a minimalist sort of way, and I’ll be buying another wax box or two.

In the early 1960’s, Danny Kaye recorded “The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song” where he half-sings the play-by-play of a fictional game between the Dodgers and Giants.  While the song is amusing, I’ve always enjoyed the way he relishes singing “Orlando Cepeda”.
1968 Topps Game Orlando Cepeda
“Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrlando Cepeda is at bat with the bases jammed…”  Unlike this 1968 Topps insert card, the result was a little better than “Ground out, runners advance one base”.

Wrapping things up with a 1970 Dick Drago. Why Drago? Why not.
1970 Topps Dick Drago
Here’s a fun Dick Drago fact… On July 30th, 1971, Drago faced 13 batters while pitching a complete game.  “Huh?” you say.  Well, it was a rain-shortened 4.5 inning game, the Royals were in Baltimore and lost 1-0 on a Frank Robinson homer.  Jim Palmer pitched a 5-inning complete game because he had to pitch the top of the 5th to make things official.  My favorite part of the game’s Baseball-Reference page:  “Time Of Game:  0:48”.

Answer to the Rick Cerone quiz: That 1992 Stadium Club card shows Rick Cerone during his half-season with the Montreal Expos. Ten points to everyone who got that right.