PWE Playhouse: A Shoebox From 1982

An off-handed comment during a prior post got me a padded envelope full… or nearly full, as you’ll see… of 1982 Topps. The envelope came from Shane of Shoebox Legends, and the reason for it was because I made a comment along the lines of “I should finish that 1982 set someday”.

I have a soft spot for 1982 because I viewed it as something of a return to form for Topps after the “Meh Trilogy” that was 1979 to 1981.  The fact that I never completed 1982 had more to do with my being 17 years old than with the set itself.  There were other things distracting my attention (even if I was too shy and lacking in self-esteem to generally talk to one particular category of distraction).

Anyway, Shane sent a team-set-sized bag full of 82T, plus two other cards for “protection”.  I won’t feature them all, but here’s a selection of my favorites.

…Well, OK, this isn’t exactly a favorite in that it’s not a great picture of Pete Rose, but Charlie Hustle had a base card, a “1981 Highlight” card, a Phillies Batting/Pitching Leaders card, and this card.  They can’t all be winners.

Phil Niekro wearing an early 1980’s Braves uniform.  At the time I didn’t care much for these unis, but now… Eh, who am I kidding, they’re still not great. They’re not bad, but the current ones are much nicer.

Expo Alert!  Ray Burris went 7-13 for the 1980 Mets, but let’s be fair:  The 1980 Mets sucked.  If you’re wondering about his signature, yes, his first name is Bertram, and yes, his middle name really is just “Ray”.

Speaking of Mets, here’s one of my favorite all-time Mets.  I’m certainly happy to add this one to my Mets binders.

Don’t tell Night Owl, but I really didn’t like Steve Garvey when he was an active player… Mostly because he played for the Dodgers and even 20+ years after they left Brooklyn, the Long Island air was full of disdain for the Dodgers.  It couldn’t help but rub off on impressionable youth such as myself.

Andre Dawson!  It’s terrible to say, but I still think about that commercial where they pull him out of the Wrigley Field ivy and Dawson asks what year it is.  I can’t remember what the commercial was for, but does that matter?  Not really.

When he was a Mets rookie, Benny Ayala hit a homer in his first Major League AB, a solo shot off the Astros Tom Griffin on 8/27/74.  Benny would hit a total of 38 dingers over his 10-year career.

If you’ve ever seen the show Robot Chicken, the closing credits feature a song sung by “chickens” and ends with a long “Buuuuuuuck”.  I say that every time I see Buuuuuuck Martinez.

…Because “Chris Chambliss In Action” sounds better than “Chris Chambliss waiting for a pitch”.

…or “George Brett getting ready to catch anything hit his way”.

The Astros current uniforms are overly generic.  We need rainbows!

J.R. Richard had already pitched his last MLB game when this card came out, all because of a stroke he suffered in 1980.

That wraps up the 1982 cards…and now for the mega-ironic twist to this PWE… the 1982 cards were protected on either end by 2017 cards!  Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Gabriel Ynoa pitched 10 games for the Mets last year, but he was sold to the Orioles in February (which is just fine with me since I like the O’s as well).  He’s currently in AAA Norfolk, but given the way the Mets’ pitching staff has fallen apart this year, they might be regretting that sale tiny bit.

Curtis Granderson is struggling this season, and once Yoenis Cespedes comes off the DL, he’s going to be the odd man out… Although I’m sure that Terry Collins will work him in on a regular basis (if only because he’s an expensive benchwarmer otherwise).

Thank you so much, Shane! I apologize for being slow on the restitution, but it’s been a bit crazy at work lately (and I know you can sympathize). I’ve got a long holiday weekend coming up to get some PWE’s ready.

2017 Heritage: Let’s Try That Again…

Mama said “Haste makes waste.”

(…and Mama said there’d be days like this, Mama said knock you out and Mama told me not to come… but that’s another story)

I was so excited to find packs of 2017 Heritage on the day of release that the next morning I decided to finish the post I’d started and publish right then – check it out if you missed it – instead of waiting until Friday morning as I’d originally planned. I’ll admit, I was thinking of the traffic that would be generated by having an early pack-busting on my blog.

Unfortunately, I fell afoul of one of the WordPress smartphone app’s “quirks” and at the moment it published it instantly showed up buried in everybody’s blogrolls as if it had published the previous day. I didn’t realize this until much later in the day when I was wondering why my stats weren’t booming like I’d expected.

Because I rushed through it, I also didn’t write the post I would’ve written if I took my time… and it still bugged  me that I didn’t have any Mets, Orioles or the “Game” insert cards.  So yesterday I went back to the same Target and bought two more packs… Wax packs this time, because the 20-card “value” hanger packs were sold out.

My first pack was clearly meant for Shane from Shoebox Legends… Check it out:
Out of 10 cards, I got three Red Sox and a buyback. (Sabes will be heading to ShoeboxLand later today).

Meanwhile the remainder of the pack was a Night Owl Nightmare!

This first pack didn’t forget about me, as it also had a “Game” insert, which I’ll get to in a moment.

The second pack also proved to be worthwhile, as I got a short-printed Met:
YO!  MTV Raps

The “Game” card I got turned out to be a Target-exclusive “Game Rookies” insert of Jake Thompson… and it surprised  me because it was big.  Not “big big”, but bigger and on thicker card stock than the originals.  Here’s a comparison with 1960’s Phillie Tony Gonzalez:
The 2017 version is standard sized and on baseball card stock, rather than slightly mini and on something more like playing card stock.

To differentiate the regular Game insert from the Game Rookies insert, the card back color was changed to red (because, you know, it’s a Target exclusive):
It amuses me that they had to eliminate an entire rows of baseballs in order to replace “©T.C.G. MADE & PRINTED IN U.S.A.” with three logos and five lines worth of copyright info.  And, for anyone who cares, I’ll point out that a different dot pattern is used in the “infield”.

Anyway, I’m happy with the job did on these inserts, and this is one of the more welcome additions to these Heritage packs.

One thing I would’ve done in the first post if I’d taken the time is to break down the number of cards by team, so that fans of the Padres can get pissed off that there are 4 teams which have at least twice as many cards as their team.

Breakdown of base card (not counting Leaders, World Series Highlights and All-Stars) by team:
21 Blue Jays, Cubs
20 Red Sox, Rockies
19 Tigers
17 Angels, Astros
16 Dodgers, Twins, Yankees
15 Braves, D-Backs, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Reds
14 Cardinals, Indians, Marlins, Rays, Royals, White Sox
13 Giants, Mariners
12 Athletics, Brewers, Rangers
10 Padres

More telling, and probably more wounding, is the breakdown of short prints by team.  Topps bumped the number of SP’s up to 100 cards this year, and that’s decidedly more painful for some than others.

Breakdown of Short Prints by Team (not including variations):
9 SP’s (OUCH!) – Cubs
7 SP’s (Nearly as OUCH!) – Red Sox
6 SP’s – Rockies, Tigers
5 SP’s – Astros, Blue Jays, Nats
4 SP’s – Marlins, Mets, Pirates, Rangers, Yankees
3 SP’s – Angels, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, White Sox
2 SP’s – Braves, D-Backs, Rays, Reds, Royals, Twins
1 SP – Brewers, Cardinals, Padres, Phillies.

As surprised as I was about the huge-payroll Dodgers having only 3 SP’s, I was really surprised that a competitive team like the Cardinals has only on SP, but I checked and there’s only Aledmys Diaz.  It doesn’t seem right that the Braves and Twins should have more SP’s than the Cards, but there you are.  I think the person who decided which players got short-printed is a St. Louis Cardinals fan who is currently muttering “Suck it, Cubs fans” under his or her breath.

I did have a realization that might provide an insight into Topps’ modus operandi… Of the 20 players who appear in the All-Topps team inserts…


…only two – Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber – have base cards that aren’t short prints.

Furthermore, of the 31 players who appear on League Leader cards, only 10 – Chris Archer, Chris Carter, Kershaw, Kluber, D.J. LeMahieu, J.A. Happ, Khris Davis, Nelson Cruz, Rick Porcello, Robbie Ray – have base cards which aren’t short prints.

It’s almost as if Topps is saying “What are you complaining about?  There are Miguel Cabrera cards which aren’t short printed…”

But rather than focus on all the superstars who are short-printed, I decided it might be fun to focus who isn’t short-printed and make an all-star team out of the first 400 cards in the set.  This is completely objective and, for two positions, I couldn’t decide so I listed both.  One of these positions features a guy I happen to have a card of, and since this latter part of the post is a bit text-heavy, I’ll include it here.

OK, so here we go, the non-short-printed All-Heritage team:

Starting Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Marcus Stroman, Sonny Gray, Rick Porcello
Closer: Andrew Miller
Catcher: Yadier Molina
First Base: Carlos Santana / Chris Davis
Second Base: Jonathan Schoop
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus / Brandon Crawford
Third Base: Evan Longoria
Outfield: Adam Jones, Adam Eaton, Carlos Gomez
Designated Hitter: Kendrys Morales
Utility: Ben Zobrist, Ichiro

This post ran through a bunch of different iterations before it ended up the way it ended up, and I had one uploaded scan left over, so I’m going to pull a Jimmy Kimmel…

My apologies to Lonnie Chisenhall, we ran out of time.

Pack Animal: 2017 Topps Heritage (Two 20-Card Hanger Packs)

Yesterday I ran over to Target during my lunch break, expecting it to be the first of many wasted trips… but much to my surprise, they had wax packs and hanging 20-card packs.
As the hangers were a slightly better value, I shelled out $12 for two of those …and another $2.50 for a box of Trix.  With cards and Trix in hand, I silently thanked Target for their new self-checkout lane.

When I was a kid on Long Island in the mid 1970’s, there weren’t many avenues for obtaining cards and the oldest cards I was able to get my hand on was 1968 Topps. Because of that, 1968 had a certain “cool because it’s almost as old as I am” appeal to me which is somewhat above and beyond what is deserved for an admittedly middling design.

So the question for me this year is whether my own fondness for the small handful of dogeared 68T cards I’ve had since childhood will carry over to this year’s Heritage.

And I also have to apologize for my scanner washing out some of these images… I admittedly rushed this post out, so I didn’t have time to try to compensate for the washout.

First card:  Giants team.
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. I’d rather have managers, who are absent from the checklist this year.  Boo, Topps!  Can you at least include managers in the High Numbers update set?

For a player card, here’s Danny Valencia… with the M’s?
I’ve gotta say, that’s some pretty nice photoshopping.

The backs seem excessively yellow… or maybe I’m just used to time-faded ink.

This answers one question I had:  fine-weave and course-weave in the same pack.

Ha!  Richie Shaffer, one of the guys who did the “Grand Tour” this winter.
You might remember my talking about Shaffer in one of my Hot Stove posts.  This offseason he went from the Rays to the M’s to the Phillies to the Reds to the Indians before passing through waivers and getting outrighted to the Indians AAA team.  He was in the Reds organization (on paper) from 12/23 to 1/26, so the photoshopping happened (or at least started) during this window.

Strikeout Leaders. They need to crop these portraits tighter.

Aaron Nola!  He’s a player I collect after being impressed with him in a minor league outing.

Then and Now.
I like the design a lot more than I like the theme.

I do like these All-star cards… Sorry, All-Topps Selections

And there’s a Mike Trout puzzle on the back!  Sweet!
(I know it’s Trout because I pulled another piece later on).

Hatless Herman Perez. Seems like we need at least some hatless guys.

I wasn’t going to open the second pack right away, but what the hell. I want a Game card!  And Mets and Orioles!

World Series cards. Oh, sure, Cleveland gets a card while the Mets got shut out last year.
Topps is just working towards annoying me now.

Got a SP in the second pack in the form of Mr. Kyle Schwarber.

And those are the highlights of my two packs.

Now that I’ve gone through 40 cards, I’m a bit mixed about this set. The cards are generally pretty well done, but as they would say at my place of employment, I’m not sure the “Return On Investment” is there. For $12 I got one of 100 SP’s, 38 base cards, 1 uninteresting insert, no Mets, no Orioles, no Game cards – which I was really hoping for after recently completing the original set. Not even any parallels or variations (admittedly, these would likely get traded or sold on COMC).

I understand it’s a small sample size, but this was a mildly disappointing first time through.

And yet I find myself thinking “Maybe if I bought a third pack…”

More 1993 Baseball Cards Magazine “Repli-Cards”

Back in 1993, issues of Baseball Cards (and later “Sports Cards”) magazine came with an uncut, unperforated sheet of ‘Repli-Cards’ done in the style of 1968 Topps… much like this year’s upcoming Heritage set is done a la 1968.

I’d previously featured some of these cards several weeks ago; here are some more…

In 1993, Larry Walker was coming off of an All-Star, Gold Glove & Silver Slugger season… but would follow it up with just a Gold Glove and a general slight drop-off in offensive numbers, but with an upswing in walks and stolen bases.

Last time I included a “Rookie Stars” card which featured Mike Piazza; this time around, I’ll show off his solo card.
Piazza was the 1993 NL Rookie Of The Year, as well as being an All-Star and a Silver Slugger winner.

Tony Gwynn was an All-Star in 1993, but didn’t lead the league in batting. In fact he hit “only” .358.
That same year, Andres Galarraga (Rockies) batted .370 and John Olerud (Blue Jays) hit .363.

One could make the argument that, in 1993, Chad Curtis was neither a rookie nor a star, but we’ll let that slide.  He went on to play 10 years in the majors, so I don’t want to slight him overly much.
Tim Salmon was the 1993 AL Rookie of the Year and despite having some big numbers – five seasons with 90+ RBI, for example – he was never an all-star, at least not according to  In retrospect that’s pretty surprising.

I know a certain blogger who should get a kick out of this card featuring Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher Aaron Sele, who, while pitching for Boston, went 7-2, 2.74 and finished a distant third in AL ROY voting.
I know changing the famous Red Sox “B” to a “P” might seem like a natural thing, but to me it looks like the logo embroidery machine ran out of thread.

“Mattingly, I thought I told you to trim those sideburns!”
Mattingly was 32, but just a couple of seasons away from the end of his career. He won a Gold Glove in 1993.

Kirby Puckett was 33 and just a couple of seasons away from retirement. He was an All-Star in 1993.

Since I mentioned 2017 Heritage at the beginning of this post, and given that Topps published the checklist the other day, I’ll share team base set checklists for my two teams (Mets and Orioles, for those who didn’t know).

2017 Heritage Orioles team set
6 Trumbo / Cruz / K Davis (League Leaders)
20 Adam Jones
52 Welington Castillo
74 Matt Wieters
159 J.J. Hardy
207 Chris Tillman
216 Baltimore Orioles Team Card
219 Pedro Alvarez
322 Jonathan Schoop
325 Chris Davis
351 Michael Bourn
353 Zach Britton
368 Manny Machado (All-Star)
396 Donnie Hart / Trey Mancini
420 Manny Machado (Short Print)
461 Mark Trumbo (Short Print)
497 Kevin Gausman (Short Print)

2017 Heritage Mets team set
7 Hendricks / Lester / Syndergaard (League Leaders)
23 David Wright
46 Lucas Duda
116 Asdrubal Cabrera
145 New York Mets Team Card
177 Gavin Cecchini / Robert Gsellman
232 Michael Conforto
246 Neil Walker
256 Matt Harvey
278 Jeurys Familia
332 Jose Reyes
342 Curtis Granderson
379 Noah Syndergaard (All-Star)
406 Yoenis Cespedes (Short Print)
421 Jacob deGrom (Short Print)
453 Jay Bruce (Short Print)
470 Noah Syndergaard (Short Print)

Proof that Topps hates us: The Heritage set remains at 500 cards, but the number of short prints goes from 75 to 100.  In the words of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, “Son of a bitch!”