Throwback Uniforms On Throwback Customs: 1978 & 1984

This weekend there have been two different throwback games in the Majors, both throwing back to my weak spot – the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s. What could I do? The temptation was too great… I had to make customs for both games.

On Friday night the Phillies and Padres threw back to 1983 when the Phils were N.L. Champions. Both sets of uniforms had their issues, but looked pretty good overall. I really like the 1984 Fleer design and photos from 1983 would normally go on 1984 cards, so it seemed like a natural to me (and I wasn’t even going to attempt to find TWO throwback photos of a player to use the 1983 Topps design). Unfortunately, neither the Phils nor Pads are stacked with superstars, so I was a bit limited on who I could find pictures of. Even so, I’m happy with what came out of it.

Meanwhile the Rangers and Angels threw back to 1977… I would presume solely because it was 40 years ago. I wouldn’t think the Rangers were commemorating finishing 8 games behind the Royals in ’77 (although they did go 94-68, there was just no catching the 102-60 Royals).

For whatever reason – maybe because powder blue is oh-so-very-seventies – the Rangers wore 1977 Road uniforms last night.

The Angels, being the visiting team, also wore road uniforms, only theirs were grey.

From the clips I’ve seen, it wasn’t bad… unlike the Father’s Day weekend game I attended in Baltimore (you don’t want to get me started on both teams wearing blue when neither one should wear blue), I don’t think there was any problems telling the teams apart. It’s just a bit odd for those of us who lived through the 1970’s (“You are wearing powder blue and yet you are the home team? Illogical. Illogical. Norman, coordinate!”)

Trying To Break A Custom Funk With A “Super Value Fun Pack”!

You may have noticed that I’ve been kind of quiet with the customs lately.  It’s mainly from lack of time, but underlying that was a simple case of “writer’s block”.  I didn’t really have anything I wanted to “say”, so nothing came out.

I started to come out of the funk a little bit when I poked a bit of fun at the Topps online exclusive Throwback Thursday sets (#TSR_TBT), but then I also decided to stop focusing on my 2017 TSR set and let my muse take me wherever I might go.

I ultimately ended up with an odd assortment of customs and I was trying to think of how to present them… And that’s when I remembered a predecesor of the 21st century repack.  Back in the day, companies used to take whatever they had left over – cards, comic books, etc. – package them together at a low price and tried to make them sound appealing by throwing about words like “Value” and “Fun”.

So I came up with the idea of a “Super Value Fun Pack” and went about creating a “wrapper”:

Now that I’m done with the explanations, let’s see what’s in the Super Value Fun Pack, shall we?

Leading up to the recent NHL Expansion Draft to stock the roster of the Vegas Golden Knights, I made a decision that if any players showed up in person and put on a VGK jersey (Sorry, Canadians, I just can’t call it a “sweater”), I would make a custom out of it.

Well, a number of players did make an appearance, and I decided to use the 1970-71 Topps Hockey design because a)  It allowed me to remove the uninteresting background and b) I’d already come up with a template to use.

Deciding which player to feature wasn’t hard, because the one and only drafted player I’d even heard of before the draft was one of the guys who showed up.

While researching this card, I stumbled across a hockey oddball from the same year, and the custom which resulted will be in the next Super Value Fun Pack (ideally next week).

The one bit of momentum I’ve been able to maintain with my 2017 TSR custom set is making customs of Mets and Orioles for players who haven’t appeared on a real card in 2017. For this week’s Orioles entry in the “Dude Needs A Card” theme, we have a pitcher who appeared in 3 games before being Designated For Assignment, and who is already gone from the O’s organization. I’m talking about journeyman pitcher Edwin Jackson!

The Orioles were the 12th team Jackson has pitched for. When the O’s DFA’ed him, he declared free agency and signed a minor league contract with the Nationals… But if he makes it back to the Majors with the Nats, it won’t up his totals, because he pitched for the Nationals in 2012.

For the record his 12 teams (in order): Dodgers, Devil Rays/Rays (they transitioned while he was on the roster), Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Marlins, Padres, Orioles

Fernando Salas has already appeared in 36 games for the Mets and yet remains cardboard-free. I’m sure that’s nothing to do with his 6.00 ERA or 1.697 WHIP.

I would’ve created a custom for my TSR set, but I already had one made for my TSRchives set.

The final custom comes from a desire to have a design I could use for just about any purpose. I ultimately decided to revive my short-lived “TSR Fauxback” set from 2015. The design I came up with for 2017 is similar to my 2015 design in that it’s intentionally derivative as hell, but I can’t help shaking the feeling that I’ve subconsciously stolen it from somewhere.

Call it derivative, call it homage, call it plagiarism… Call it whatever, this is the 2017 TSR Fauxback design:

Rest in peace, Adam West.

The Last Muni (And Other Customs)

I’m scrambling to finalize my 2017 TSR design this year, and also scrambling to do a number of “real life” things, so this week we have an assortment of TSRchives and WBC customs.

Next Sunday – God willin’ and the creek don’t rise – we should have a pack of my TSR customs to virtually rip open.  I hope.

Earlier this past week, the Cubs cut fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki;  They were hoping to sign him to a minor league contract, but wanted to give him the opportunity to hook on with another team if there was interest.

Unfortunately for those of us in North America, there was interest from another team… Muni flew back to Japan and signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. When I read the news, I went “Awwwwww!” in dismay… out loud. Fortunately, I was alone in the room at the time.

According to the Hawks’ English-language roster page, some of Muni’s new teammates with the Hawks include Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tsuyoshi Wada, former Oriole Dennis Sarfate, and Cuban Alfredo Despaigne, who batted .474 with 3 homers in 6 games during the World Baseball Classic.

Cuba made it to the second round of the WBC, but have had too many players defect (and not participate) to be as competitive as they used to be.

More than a few websites picked up on how emotional Brock Stassi got after being told that that he would be making the Phillies’ opening day roster.

Not that you can blame him for getting verklempt. He was the 1,021st pick in the 2011 draft, worked through 6 seasons in the minors before impressing in camp this spring… And he’s got a cool name.

FYI, Brock’s younger brother Max is a prospect in the Astros organization.

41-year-old Eric Gagne pitched 2.1 scoreless innings in the WBC and he’s said to be in talks with several teams, including the Dodgers, on a minor league contract.

Gagne won the Cy Young in 2003 and last pitched in the majors in a season-long stint with the Brewers 9 years ago.  Good luck, Eric!

No story behind this Adam Jones custom, I just like the way it turned out.

Customs On The 8’s

So it all started last week, when I made a bunch of customs in the style of 1958 Topps. One of the first ’58 customs I made was for Phillies pitcher Clay Buchholz, and I had to go back and tweak it later when I realized I did it “wrong”.
Buchholz was acquired from the Red Sox for a minor leaguer. The Phillies have added a few veterans into their young prospects, and could be an interesting team this year. …Or not. Nostradamus I ain’t.

Lucas Giolito is a prominent pitching prospect and, as I’ve mentioned here before, has an intriguing background as his parents are actors Lindsay Frost (The Ring, Collateral Damage and other credits) and Rick Giolito (As The World Turns, Twin Peaks).
Giolito was one of three pitching prospects that the Nationals sent to the Chisox for Adam Eaton, and he should get a better chance with the rebuilding White Sox.  From my standpoint I don’t like either team, but at least the Sox have better uniforms.

Moving on to the next pair of customs, and moving ahead 10 years in terms of inspiration… In my two recent posts about this year’s Heritage set I bemoaned the absence of managers from the checklists, especially given how uninteresting the team cards are.  I was going to feature some manager customs in yesterday’s post, but decided that the post was plenty long enough as it was.

But to revisit the question… Would you rather have a card like this, one that’s reminiscent of the 1970’s Fleer football “Teams In Action” cards:

Or would you rather have a manager who is in the Hall Of Fame:

…Or a former MVP and 6-time all-star?

You know where I stand on this.  I don’t know, maybe it’s a financial decision on Topps’ part.  Perhaps they didn’t want to (or couldn’t) sign all of the managers to contracts.  Maybe Molitor and Mattingly drove the price up beyond what Topps was wiling to pay.  I don’t know, this is all just guesswork.  Maybe the management at Topps are just poopheads who increase the number of short prints to 100 and get rid of the managers.

So, anyway…

It was at this point that I looked at what I had for today’s post… I had customs inspired by 1958 and 1968… And I decided, what the heck, let’s extend the pattern and throw some 1978 in there as well.

Michael Conforto is battling for playing time in the Mets outfield and is off to a promising start in Spring Training.  I would like to see him starting in the CitiField outfield, but I’d also like to see Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce starting as well.  You see my dilemma here?
Since I’m talking relatively famous moms, Tracy Ruiz-Conforto is a three-time Olympic medalist in Synchronized Swimming.

I don’t know about Brett Anderson’s mom, but his dad Frank Anderson is the University of Houston’s pitching coach.
Anderson was with the Dodgers last year, signed with the Cubs as a free agent and is on this custom largely because he’s with a new team and that team is the Cubs, one of the few teams I can do with my work-in-progress 1978 template.

And just a reminder/tease…
First round action of the World Baseball Classic starts tomorrow (early in the morning on the East Coast because it’s in Seoul, South Korea). I spent an hour or so this morning finalizing the template I’ll be using for the custom cards and you should see the first batch next Sunday.

Customs Inspired By “Photo Day” And 1958 Topps

This past week was “photo day” for many MLB teams, and it’s usually a time of year when I enjoy poking through the photos taken, seeing what goofy shots are out there, and seeing relocated players in their new uniforms… their actual uniforms, not the money-grab Spring Training caps and jerseys.

This time around, Photo Day wasn’t quite as much fun as past years… it seems like all of the teams who dropped big cash did so on re-signing players or re-acquiring players they’d recently had.  We don’t need Photo Day to know what Aroldis Chapman looks like in a Yankees uniform.  Sigh.

And, of course, Matt Wieters signed with the Nationals after that team’s Photo Day.  Double sigh.   (By the way, I posted last Sunday about Wieters being unsigned, and then the Nationals signed him a couple of days later.  It’s nice to know that someone in the Nats organization reads The Shlabotnik Report… but it still won’t make me like the Nats).

All of this is not to say that I didn’t have fun looking at the pictures.  I also felt the urge to make some customs out of the pictures I ran across… but what kind of customs should I make?

I didn’t want to use my 1970 Kellogg’s “Hot Stove” template, because these images aren’t photoshopped like those were, and I want to keep those in separate custom sets.  I can’t make them 2017 TSR cards, because I’m still working on the design for those.

So the next best thing is to use a design from some past card set.  I mentally went through card designs, trying to think of something I haven’t done lately and, more importantly, Topps hasn’t done (to death) lately… and I thought of the colorful 1958 Topps set, and I said:

It’s been 10 years since 2007 Heritage, and I don’t remember Topps Archives using the 1958 design recently (maybe I’m wrong) so I figured that this made it an ideal design to use.

So I took an hour or so when I really should’ve been in bed sleeping, and whipped up a template and the first custom.  Yesterday I did the rest of the cards you’ll see here.

Unlike sets from the 1970’s and 1980’s, I’m not as much a student of the visual language of 1950’s sets, so if I screw up something that is part of the “visual logic” of 1958 Topps, please forgive me (and let me know, because I do want to know).

I did a custom of Kendrys Morales with the Jays earlier this winter, but it was a 1977 Topps homage with a hand-drawn Blue Jays logo.  Here’s Kendrys in an actual Toronto uniform.
I had to wing it on the “DES. HITTER” position, because this obviously didn’t appear on 1958 baseball cards.  Because the full team name would take up a good part of the bottom of the card, I did the 1958-ish abbreviation of “TOR. BLUE JAYS”.  Looking back on it, I should’ve put an extra space between “DES.” and “HITTER”, as well as between “TOR.”, “BLUE” and “JAYS”.

I might not have a custom of Wieters just yet, but I do have one of the guy the Orioles got to serve as their primary catcher.
I’m not sure, but I think to be true to 1958, I should’ve used a smaller font for a long name like “Wellington Castillo” rather that horizontally smoosh the letters as I did.  Then again, in 1958 this guy might’ve been listed as “Will Castillo”.  (And I’m making a mental note to never use this design when doing a custom of Jarrod Saltalamacchia).

With Aroldis Chapman back in navy pinstripes, the Cubs gave up Jorge Soler to get closer Wade Davis from the Royals.
I was about to make a comment about how the Cubs should hope that Davis gets the job done, but you know what?  Now that they’ve won a World Series, the Cubs have lost my “Mets and Cubs fans are in the same boat” empathy. Too bad, Cubs fans, your team is just another rival for my Mets.

Finally, I couldn’t resist using a scruffy R.A. Dickey headshot.  I became a fan of his during his time with the Mets and began to collect him as well.
As I’d mentioned before, I’m not what you’d call an expert regarding 1958 Topps – the set is not only before my time, it’s before my Mets’ time, and I don’t put terribly much effort into collecting pre-1970’s Orioles.  I always thought the colors in the set was more or less random with regards to teams, but there are an awful lot of Braves with green backgrounds.  This was the first custom I did in this batch, and I originally did it with a blue background, but then changed it to green before working on the next custom.

I’m planning to have another batch of these 1958’s next weekend, and then we’ll get into these customs (tease, tease, tease):