Fred Stanley’s Evil Twin And More About 1977 – 1980 Burger King Cards

This all came out of a thread on Twitter discussing keeping an eye out for Burger King cards within a stack of 1978 Topps.  i briefly shared the tale of the evil, evil Fred Stanley card from the 1979 Burger King Yankees set, and decided that I should write a blog post about it and go into more detail.

…Much more detail, as it turns out, than I’d intended.  In typical Shlabotnik fashion, I ended up dumping pretty much everything I know about these Burger King sets into this post.  If you just want to know about the Fred Stanley cards, I’ve clearly marked each section of the post.

For anyone who might find it helpful, I decided to give a quick overview on how to spot those Burger King cards which look very much like the corresponding Topps card… and since this was inspired by “What to look for in a stack of 1978 Topps”, I’ll also throw in ‘bonus coverage’ of another 1978 oddball set that also deserves mention.

I’m not going to talk much about the unnumbered checklist cards which are part of these Burger King sets. They generally have some form of artwork on the front, a checklist on the back, no actual photos, and would never be mistaken for a flagship Topps card.  Here’s an example from the 1979 Burger King Phillies set:

The back of this one looks very much like a Topps checklist, but the big tip-ff is the copyright line which doesn’t mention Topps.

From here on out, these will get referred to as the “unnumbered checklist card” and won’t be mentioned otherwise.

For the sake of clarity – both in your reading and in my thought process – I’m going to run through these sets in chronological order.

1977 Burger King Yankees
The first Burger King set was a regional New York Yankees set which was originally meant to be 22 cards plus the unnumbered checklist, but at the insistence of someone in the Yankees organization (I’ve heard it was George Steinbrenner), Card #23 of Lou Piniella was added at the last minute. The Piniella card was issued later, short-printed and is not included on the checklist card.  This SP, along with the Reggie Jackson card which has an updated photo, are the two key cards in this set.

Most of the cards in these sets look the same as the corresponding Topps cards, but there are cases where they “update” the Topps set, since the BK sets were issued during the season.  Most of the examples I have are of the ‘update’ variety, because I generally don’t collect the BK cards which look like the original Topps cards.

Along with the Bucky Dent card shown above, another example has the 1977 Topps Jim Wynn card, which shows him with his 1976 team, the Atlanta Braves, and his 1977 Burger King card, which is updated to show his new team and his new position (DES. HITTER).

The backs are very similar:

To my knowledge, the only sure-fire way to tell 1977 Burger King from 1977 Topps is the card number.

If the card features a Yankee and has a card number of 23 or lower, then it’s best to compare the card to a checklist to see if that Graig Nettles card is a BK or a Topps.

Some other notes about this BK Yankees set…

    • The Team Card featuring Billy Martin (#1) is not a checklist; instead it has team records on the back.
    • Don Gullett (#6) and Reggie Jackson (#17) were updated to use new photos rather than the airbrushed photos in 1977 Topps.
    • Mike Torrez (#7), Bucky Dent (#14), Jim Wynn (#20) and Paul Blair (#21) were complete updates.
    • Graig Nettles (#15) is cropped tighter than 1977 Topps, but interestingly it’s cropped the same as 1977 O-Pee-Chee.
    • Thurman Munson (#2) uses the same photo but is missing the “A.L. ALL-STAR” banner at the bottom (again similar to 1977 OPC)
    • Willie Randolph (#13) uses the same photo but is missing the All-Star Rookie cup (once again, similar to OPC)

1978 Burger King Tigers, Astros, Yankees, Rangers

For 1978 the Burger King promotion returned to New York and was expanded to Detroit, Houston and Dallas-Ft. Worth.  All three sets are 22 cards plus unnumbered checklists.  This was the only year that Burger King sets were issued for the Tigers, Astros and Rangers.

Here are some Topps vs. Burger King examples of the updated players… For all three it’s Topps on the left, Burger King on the right.

These BK sets, especially the Tigers, were notable for having some solo cards of rookies who were on the four-player rookie cards of the Topps set.

As with the 1977 set, the easiest way to tell the difference is from the card number (this is for Goose Gossage)

There’s also a very minor difference on the copyright line.  The Topps cards included a letter indicating which printing sheet the card was originally on (Sheet F in the example below), as well as an asterisk.  The BK card doesn’t have the sheet letter or the asterisk.

Looking closely at these BK card backs for the first time, I realized that the two different sets are printed differently as well.  As you can tell from the example above, the Topps card has dark orange and light orange printing on the grey cardboard, but the BK sets have dark orange and medium orange.

This arcane detail might not be of interest to a lot of collectors, but I know a couple of specific collectors who will find it interesting, so…

The Burger King cards appear to have a much more pronounced “trap” (ink printed on top of other ink) than the Topps cards, or maybe it’s just the darker orange used for the cards.  You can see it in the examples above, but you can also see it in the box borders on the right side of the card.  I cranked up the brightness and contrast on this example so you can see that the BK card (on the left) has an inconsistently dark box – especially on the top and much of the left side of the box –  where the Topps card on the right has a more uniform blue box.

That’s the last I’ll mention printing here, especially since I fall into the category of “knowing just enough to be dangerous”.

As for the checklists, here are the cards which have a significant difference between Topps and Burger King:

Astros:  Dave Bergman (#21) is a solo BK card while Bergman is on a Rookie Outfielders card in Topps;  Jesus Alou (#22) is not in 1978 Topps at all

Rangers:  Updates were made for Jon Matlack (#5), Fergie Jenkins (#8), Reggie Cleveland (#10), Al Oliver (#17) and John Lowenstein (#21).  Bobby Thompson (#22) does not have a card in Topps.  Bump Wills (#12) is missing the All-Star Rookie cup.

Tigers:  Jack Morris (#8), Lou Whitaker (#13) and Alan Trammell (#15) all have solo rookie cards in the BK set, and as you can imagine they come at a premium.  Jack Billingham (#6), Jim Slaton (#7) and Steve Dillard (#16) are updates of 1978 Topps.

Yankees:  Rich Gossage, as you can see above, went from airbrushed to a non-airbrushed head shot.  Rawley Eastwick (#11) and Jim Spencer (#16) are updates.

Bonus card: 1978 Zest Soap

Since this post was inspired by “cards to look for when going through a stack of 1978 Topps”, I’ll also mention the 5-card Zest set featuring Latin players and bilingual backs. Four of the cards had fronts which are identical to the corresponding 1978 Topps card.

The one card that is different is Willie Montañez , who was updated from the Braves to the Mets (and is the only card I have from this set)

These cards have different numbering, include Spanish text and have the MLB and MLBPA logos instead of the “PLAY BALL” game that was on the Topps and Burger King cards

It’s interesting that Montañez has a tilde on the back but not on the front. There were, of course, no tildes to be found anywhere in 1978 Topps.

For the record, here’s the original Topps front

1979 Burger King Yankees and Phillies

Both of these sets are 22 cards plus an unnumbered checklist… but before I get into the sets, let me say more about….


I inadvertently discovered Fred Stanley’s “Evil Twin” when I was organizing my 1979 binder and could not find my 1979 BK Fred Stanley.  As it turned out, I couldn’t find the BK card because it was filed in with the 1979 Topps set.  This mistake came about because…

Both Fred Stanley cards are #16 in their sets!

[Insert dramatic chord here]

Here are my 1979 Topps and Burger King cards of Fred Stanley… The difference in saturation is more a printing issue than a true difference.

As with many BK cards, the cropping is slightly different…  you can tell by comparing the fans around the edges of the photos.

The backs are damn near identical, but there are two significant differences I’m aware of, and perhaps there are others.

For starters, the font used for the card number is different… I would guess that this is because the Topps set is numbered to 726 (and needs a narrow font) while the BK set is numbered to 22.  That’s Topps on the left, BK on the right.

Like with the 1978 cards, there Topps cards have a Printing sheet identifier that the BK cards do not.

…OK, Lets’ get back to the sets themselves.

One interesting difference between the two sets is that the Yankees set includes new photos of new players in their Yankees uniforms, like Luis Tiant who had signed as a free agent during the offseason…

…But in the Phillies set, Pete Rose (who also signed as a free agent in the offseason) got airbrushed

One other difference that’s oddly interesting… The 1979 BK card of Ron Guidry uses the photo that Topps had used on Guidry’s Record Breaker card, rather than the action shot used on Guidry’s regular card.

1979 Burger King Yankee card…

1979 Topps Record Breaker card

1979 Topps regular card

As for the breakdown of the checklists…

Phillies:  Danny Ozark (#1), Nino Espinosa (#11), Doug Bird (#12), Pete Rose (#13), Manny Trillo (#14), Pete Mackanin (#17), Greg Gross (#22).  Ozark appeared as a thumbnail in the 1979 Topps Phillies team card, Mackanin doesn’t appear in 1979 Topps at all.  The rest are updates.

Yankees:  Ron Guidry (#4), Luis Tiant (#8), Tommy John (#9), Juan Beniquez (#22).  Guidry, as mentioned, is a photo change, the other three are updates.

Like with the 1977 set, there is a Yankees team card (#1) which has team records on the back rather than a team checklist.

1980 Burger King Pitch, Hit And Run

This is the Burger King set that collectors are most familiar with, and the one set where there are obvious differences on the front and back. This was nationally issued, was 33 cards plus a checklist, and while many of the cards use the same photos as Topps, not all of them do.

One thing I don’t think people realize (unless they’ve seen the checklist card) is that the checklist for this set is divided into three subsets: Pitchers (cards 1 – 11), Hitters (12 – 22) and Runners (23 – 33).

Here’s the back, which is pretty distinctive… Red ink instead of the blue on 1980 Topps, plus you have the Pitch Hit and Run graphic instead of the cartoon.

The cards which are different than 1980 Topps fall into two categories:

Different photo: Vida Blue (#1), Ron Guidry (#4), Jerry Koosman (#5), Jim Palmer (#7), Tom Seaver (#10), Keith Hernandez (#16), Reggie Jackson (#17), Fred Lynn (#18), Dave Winfield (#22), Davey Lopes (#28), Omar Moreno (#29)

Different photo and Updated team: Nolan Ryan (#9), Bobby Bonds (#23), Ron LeFlore (#27), Joe Morgan (#30)

1980 Burger King Phillies
Not everybody knows that there was also a regional 1980 Burger King Phillies set. As with the other regional team sets, it was 22 cards and an unnumbered checklist.

These cards look identical to Topps cards from the front. Lonnie Smith was in the BK Phillies set, but that was his only baseball card in 1980.

It’s pretty clear from the backs of the cards which one is a Burger King card… here are the top of the two backs (Obviously BK on top, Topps on the bottom).  For the BK set, the card number is move to the right to make room for the BK logo.

And the Sheet Lettering thing continues on to 1980… That’s BK on the left, Topps on the right.

There are five cards (not counting the checklist) which are unique to this set.  Dallas Green (#1) gets his own card instead of having a thumbnail on the team card, Kevin Saucier (#22) gets his own card instead of sharing one with two other “Future Stars”, and Keith Moreland (#3), John Vukovich (#8) and Lonnie Smith (#14) are in the BK set but don’t appear in 1980 Topps at all.

…and that covers all of the Burger King sets from 1977 to 1980.

If anyone has any additional information to add, let me know and I’ll update the post.


Contrast And Compare: Six Cards From Three Decades

Running through some Topps cards and their variations-of-sorts, as an admittedly last-minute post.

Doug Ault had a cup of coffee with the Rangers in 1976, got selected by the Blue Jays in the expansion draft, and shared a rookie infielders card with Rich Dauer, Orlando Gonzalez and Phil Mankowski.

Because he was a first-year Blue Jay, O-Pee-Chee gave him his own card.

Ault hit two homers in the Jays’ first game, was a regular with the team and made the Topps All-Star Rookie Team.  He wouldn’t repeat the success he had in his first year and was done in the Majors after 1980.

In 1980, Omar Moreno was coming off two seasons of leading the N.L. in steals.

That got him into the 1980 Burger King Pinch Hit & Run set in the “Run” category and a different photo was used… but he’s still pictured with a bat instead of running. Go figure.

In 1980 Moreno got a career-high 96 stolen bases… but would finish one behind Montreal’s Ron LeFlore who had 97. In 1981 he’d finish second to a different Expo, Tim Raines.

In 2013 Doug Fister went 14-9, 3.67 for the Tigers, surprising people by breaking out when he was 29 years old.
After that season, the Tigers traded him to the Nationals for Ian Krol, Steve Lombardozzi and Robbie Ray. Since Opening Day gets released after Topps Series 1, a different photo of Fister was photoshopped into a Nats uniform.

Fister went 16-6, 2.41 in that first season with the Nats, but has been inconsistent since then and is currently with the Red Sox. The argument could be made that the best player in that trade was Robbie Ray, who was an all-star this year for the Diamondbacks. He was traded to Arizona in the three-team trade that sent Didi Gregorius to the Yankees.

Contrast And Compare: Three From 1980 Burger King Sets

It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these “Contrast And Compare” posts. Today I’m going to feature three cards from 1980 Topps and the three corresponding 1980 Burger King cards which act as “updates”.

Now I’m saying “Burger King” because all of the cards were issued through Burger King restaurants, but they don’t all come from the same set. One was part of a regional Phillies team set, and the other two came from the nationally-issued “Pitch Hit and Run” set done in conjunction with the youth skills competition of the same name. The Phillies set appears to be identical to Topps on the front, while the PH&R set features a Burger King logo and “COLLECTOR’S EDITION” text instead of the pennant used for the player’s position.

Kevin Saucier’s 29 games in 1979 (27 in relief) were not enough to get him his own card in 1980 Topps; instead he had to share it with Ramon Aviles and Dickie Noles.

However, when Topps created a regional Burger King Phillies set, Saucier did manage to kick out his roommates.

The 23-year-old Saucier would make 40 relief appearances in 1980, compiling a 7-3 record with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.400 WHIP. After the season he’d be sent to Texas as the Player To Be Named Later in a deal for closer Sparky Lyle, and just under a month later he’d be flipped to the Tigers, with whom he’d pitch another couple of seasons.

Moving over to the BK “Pitch, Hit And Run” set… One thing I hadn’t realized for a while is that the checklist for Pitch, Hit and Run” was divided into “Pitch” (cards 1-11), “Hit” (cards 12 -22) and “Run” (cards 23-33) sections.

Ron LeFlore, who twice lead the league in stolen bases, was featured under “Run”. Here’s his Topps card:

On December 7th, 1979, LeFlore was traded to the Expos for pitcher Dan Schatzeder. As it worked out, he got traded to another team with the same color scheme in 1980 Topps-created sets.

LeFlore would get a career-high and league-leading 97 SB’s in his lone season with the Expos. After the season he signed with the White Sox as a free agent, but would play just 173 games in his two years in Chicago.

Bobby Bonds was well-known as a “30-30” guy; he hit at least 30 homers and stole 30 bases in five different seasons. His final 30-30 season came in 1978 and he fall short with 25 homers and 34 stolen bases in his one-year stint with the Indians in 1979.  He was allso featured on a “Run” card.

On the same day as the LeFlore trade, Bonds was traded to the Cardinals for John Denny and Jerry Mumphrey.

I tend to think of Bobby Bonds with the Giants, but when you look at his career he’s the king of the “Short-Term Stops”. Bonds spent one season (1975) with the Yankees, one season (1978) split between the White Sox (26 games) and the Rangers (130 games), one season (1979) with the Indians, one season (1980) with the Cardinals and one season (1981) with the Cubs. His 1978 Hostess card is the only one which attempts to show him in a White Sox uniform; 1978 O-Pee-Chee lists him with the White Sox, but he’s shown in an Angels unform.

Oddball Odyssey: Three Players “Exclusive” To The 1980 Burger King Phillies Set

This post was going to be a “Contrast And Compare” post where I would share several Topps-created 1980 Burger King cards along with the corresponding flagship Topps card from the same year… But then I realized that, for three of the players involved, they did not appear on any other cards in 1980, and I figured that was as good an angle as any.

I had to look up John Vukovich because I was curious as to why someone who had not been on a Topps card since 1975 made the cut for the 1980 Burger King Phillies set. I was further intrigued when I found out that he played for 10 years in the majors despite never having batted higher than .211 or played in more than 74 games in a single season.
He was an excellent fielder, but to call him a “good clubhouse guy” would seem to sell him short to a great degree. “Vuk” was beloved by teammates, fans and everyone around him and would later become the longest-term coach in Phillies history, coaching with the team for 17 seasons. I’m sure there must be Phillies fans out there who can give a better insight than I as to what he meant to the Phillies.

Keith Moreland played in 1,306 games over the course of 12 seasons, so I was a bit surprised that his sole 1980 card came in the Burger King set… but I forgot that, going into 1980, he’d only played 15 games for the Phillies.  This is his “pre-rookie” card.
Moreland would get more playing time in 1980, and would go 4-for-12 in the 1980 World Series, but he’s better known to fans of 1980’s baseball as a Cubs outfielder who regularly hit double-digits in home runs and had 106 RBI in 1987.

Like Keith Moreland, Lonnie Smith was a young Phillie who would get a major increase in playing time in 1980 and would achieve (arguably) more fame with other teams.
In 1980 Lonnie Smith played in 100 regular season games and batted .339, which got him enough votes to finish 3rd in N.L. Rookie Of The Year Voting (behind winner Steve Howe and runner-up Bill Gullickson).  Two years later with the Cardinals, Lonnie was an All-Star who lead the league with 120 runs.  Over his career he played in five different World Series for four teams (Phillies, Cardinals, Royals and Braves).

The Votes Are In, And The Design I’ll Use For The 2017 WBC Customs Is…

Voting on the design to be used for my 2017 World Baseball Classic custom set has finished and the winner is… The 1980 Topps design!
David Wright certainly seems pleased… He must have been one of the 19 people to vote for 1980 Topps.

The voting was tight for most of the week, with 1986 Topps hanging tight and 1976 Hostess and 1976 Wonder Bread hanging in there until the end. Here’s the final count out of 65 votes cast::
1980 Topps Baseball: 19 votes

1986 Topps Baseball: 16

1976 Wonder Bread Football: 14

1976 Hostess Baseball: 11

1966 Topps Hockey/Football: 4

1960-1962 Bazooka Baseball: 1
2012-13 Hot Stove #17 - Jose Mijares

I’ve begun the necessary preparations for the 2017 WBC custom set, and I’m also brainstorming on ways of keeping things interesting. As one commenter pointed out, the design for 1980 Topps (henceforth abbreviated “80T”) has been used twice in Topps Archives, so I’d like to bring some new elements into the mix.

One “innovation” that will be introduced is horizontal player cards, something that wasn’t done in 80T. I’m trying to decide if I want to do this by rotating the border 90 degrees and rearranging the pennants, or if I want to base it more on team cards like this one:
1980 Topps Philadelphia Phillies

A favorite trick of custom card makers is to take subsets from the original and repurpose them for other uses… but 80T is a little short on subsets, so that makes it something of a challenge.

I’ll definitely work the “Highlights” cards into the mix… maybe just replace the year 1979 with “WBC”.
1980 Topps Del Unser Highlights

The Future Stars subset has some potential, but I’m not sure what I would do with it.
1980 Topps Jays Future Stars Edge Kelly Wilborn

League Leaders seems less promising, but it’s there should I need it
1980 Topps HR Leaders

One thing I’d really like to do is to somehow figure out a way to work 1980 Burger King “Pitch, Hit and Run” cards into this.
1980 Burger King Tom Seaver

I’m open to suggestions on all of this, so if you’re sitting at your desk pretending to work, you can think about 1980 Topps instead of whatever you’re paid to do.

One other factor I’ve given thought to (because I am a nerd and I like to do these things). There are 16 teams in the WBC, but only 14 color combinations used in 80T. It’s quite likely that this won’t end up being a problem, as I don’t know that I’d make customs for all 16 teams anyway. Other possibilities include doubling-up teams with two of the existing color combinations (which was done in 80T anyway) or creating new combinations of colors which weren’t used in 80T.

For those of you keeping score at home, the colors I’d used for Israel were used for the Expos and Tigers in 80T, and the colors used on the David Wright USA custom above was originally the Dodgers and Indians.


COMC promotions are already going on, but the main event starts on Black Friday.  You can read about it here, but to summarize there are three different promotions:  The preview sale (going on now), Black Friday (Friday through Sunday) and Cyber Monday.

Here’s the self-serving portion of this announcement:  I’m participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but didn’t get my act together in time for the preview sale.  You can check out my inventory here, but nothing will be discounted until the Black Friday promo kicks in.

I recently added 100 new cards to my inventory, including recent inserts and Heritage SP’s, 1979 Topps Soccer Stickers, 1980 Burger King Pitch Hit And Run, 1980 Burger King Phillies, and other fun stuff. All proceeds go towards enhancing the world-famous Shlabotnik collection!

Good luck with whatever Black Friday plans you might have!

Contrast And Compare: 1980 Topps & Burger King Jerry Koosman

I got a 1980 Burger King Jerry Koosman in a semi-recent COMC shopping binge as part of my attempt to get the “variations” of the late 1970’s/late 1980’s Topps sets.  The 1980 Burger King Pitch, Hit And Run set was largely the same design as 1980 Topps, and most of the cards share the same photos with the Topps equivalent.  I’m collecting the Burger King cards that have a photo which is different from the 1980 Topps card.

In this particular case, I was a little disappointed when I actually got the card… Not because it was anything other than I’d expected, but because of expectations that were completely my own doing.

It’s easier to show you… Here’s the Topps Koosman…
1980 Topps Jerry Koosman

…and here’s the BK Koosman…
1980 Burger King Jerry Koosman

I had the BK card on my wantlist because I’d seen it listed as a different photo, but it wasn’t until I had the BK card in my possession and went to scan both that I realized how similar the two photos are.

Oh, well. Different is different.

I Went To COMC For Some TOMC …ver

I never set out to buy up a bunch of Tom Sever cards when I was doing my Black Friday shopping, but it sure ended up that way. I guess that there were just good deals to be found on Tom Terrific.

It mainly started with knocking some cards off my Kellogg’s want lists, including the infamous two-dimensional set of 1973.
1973 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

…The patriotic 1976 set…
1976 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

…and 1980. I don’t mind the Reds uniform or the lack of a fake pitching pose, it’s still Seaver.
1980 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

I later turned my attention to those cards in the 1980 Burger King Pitch, Hit And Run set which had a different photo than the regular Topps card. Just so happened that one of my needs was Tom Seaver.
1980 Burger King Tom Seaver

Back in 1984, I think I bought one pack of 1984 Donruss and my reaction was something along the lines of “Meh”.  Lately I’ve been appreciating that set much  more than I did 30 years ago.

I went to see if there were any interesting 84D cards to be had and – Oh, look! Tom Seaver!
1984 Donruss Tom Seaver

2002 Topps Super Teams is a set that I always feel like I should make more of an effort on, especially since both the 1969 Mets and 1986 Mets were considered to be “Super Teams”. I only have a handful of these, but I added this one to the group.
2002 Topps Super Teams Tom Seaver
Between the black armband and longer hair, I’m thinking this photo is actually from 1976.

Finally, I was looking for cheap cards to fill out my 2005 Topps Rookie Cup collection. This set has been growing on me despite the design. I just like the photos. I got an Ozzie Smith (which I’ll feature later) and – What are the odds? – Tom Seaver.
2005 Topps Rookie Cup Tom Seaver
If they had used the full photos without cropping the background and used a more appealing design, I would’ve been seeking out each and every card in this set instead of looking for particular players or cheap cards.

I still have another 40 or 50 Black Friday cards to share, so you’ll be seeing more of this in the next couple of weeks.

Contrast And Compare: 1980 Topps & 1980 Burger King Ron Guidry

It’s been a long, tiring week for me, so I’m going to let the cards do most of the talking.

For sets like 1980 Burger King, I collect only those cards that have a photo different from the Topps card… but it’s not always easy to find out which cards are different.

As a public service, I’m going to show cards like this as I get them.

So here’s Ron Guidry’s 1980 Topps card…
1980 Topps Ron Guidry

…and here’s his Burger King card.
1980 Burger King Ron Guidry

Have a good weekend, everybody!