“Hot Stove”: Lester & Shark Converge On The Windy City

One thing’s for certain, it’s going to be an interesting summer in Chicago.

Both the Cubs and the White Sox have made significant upgrades to their teams… it’s telling that both teams are each getting their second “Hot Stove” custom this winter, while the teams I want to make customs for – my Mets and Orioles – have a grand total of one between them.

The Cubs scored a major coup by getting Joe Maddon, but they also traded for Miguel Montero, signed Jason Hammel, and also made a big splash by signing Jon Lester:
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #18 Jon Lester

Meanwhile, the White Sox signed David Robertson, Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche, while capping things off with a trade to bring Jeff Samardzija back to Chicago:
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #19 Jeff Samardzija

There’s no question that both teams will be better in 2015… what remains to be seen is whether all these changes are enough to get past the likes of the Cardinals, Pirates, Tigers and Royals.

I just read that Max Scherzer just signed with – UGH! – the Nationals, so perhaps I should fire up my copy of Paint Shop Pro and get working on another one of these custom cards (which are based on the 1974 Kellogg’s set, I should mention).

Doppelgangers: 1993 Topps / Upper Deck Rick Wilkins

Today we have another entry from my little mini-collection of pairs of cards which feature the same play shown by two different card companies and/or photographers.  Today we’ve got a pair of Rick Wilkins cards from 1993 Topps and 1993 Upper Deck.

1993 Topps - Upper Deck Rick Wilkins

Unlike the prior post in this series, I don’t think there’s any way to figure out which game these photos came from, other than narrowing it down to a Cubs home game in 1992.  If you look at the far right on the Upper Deck card, you can see the hand of the baserunner.  All you can tell about the Mystery Runner is that he’s wearing a Franklin glove and has a red wristband.

In the crowd, you can pick out some of the same people… The easiest one to spot is the guy in the green and yellow cap.  He’s over Wilkins’ head on the Topps card, and off to the far left on the Upper Deck card.

I’ve got two more pairs of cards like this, plus Shlabotnik Report readers have suggested two other pairs.  I know there must be a bunch out there, does anybody know of some?

Cubs Throwback Unis On The 1978 Design – Are You Taking Notes, Topps?

The Cubs wore 1978 throwbacks on Sunday, and when anybody throws back to the 1970’s, you can bet that I will be making 1970’s customs from a corresponding year.

What can I say?  When it comes to making “double-throwback” customs…


2014 TSR TB-74A Aaron Harang


1979 Austin Jackson


2013 Seventy-Faux Pedro Alvarez


1979 Lucas Harrell

The throwbacks the Cubs wore on Sunday were part of the Wrigley Field 100th Anniversary celebration, and… Well, if you haven’t seen them, let me just show you my favorite of this particular batch of customs made from game photos:
2014 TSR 1978 #1 Anthony Rizzo
Before I get too far into this… Just try to tell me that a card like this wouldn’t make an awesome addition to Topps Archives, or at least a short print or insert. Come on, Topps! DO IT!

So yes, the Cubs were at home and celebrating Wrigley Field by throwing back to road uniforms they never wore at Wrigley. Just go with it. Tsuyoshi Wada was fine with it, you should be too.
2014 TSR 1978 #4 Tsuyoshi Wada

For the two people who might have interest, I’ll point out that these cards are the first made from a 1978 template I’m trying to get into “production”. The “Cubs” script and the little baseball are the only things to come out of a scan, everything else is a template that allows me to swap colors and such. Unfortunately, the only team I can make customs of just yet are the Cubs, but there will be more.
2014 TSR 1978 #2 Kyle Hendricks
I’m not 100% satisfied with the fonts used for the name & position, but that’s a tweak for down the road.

The grass in this photo came across as a little too green, so I tried to tweak the brightness and contrast, and the result looks like a colorized photo… which may not be a bad thing.
2014 TSR 1978 #3 Luis Valbuena

According to the press releases, the Cardinals also wore throwbacks… but since the Cardinals’ 1978 road uniform was also powder blue, in Sundays’ game the Cards wore grey road unis that they wouldn’t actually wear until 1985… therefore it does not belong on my custom. I’d say “Take that, Cardinals!” except I’m pretty sure the Cubs provide the throwback uniforms for the visiting teams.
2014 TSR 1978 #5 Wesley Wright

There will be more customs like these in the future, just like I’ve made these over the past couple of years…

Seventy Faux #5 Gordon Beckham

…I can’t…
Seventy Faux #4 Mark Trumbo

…help myself!
Seventy Faux #2 Josh Hamilton

…even when it’s the occasional Sixties throwback!
Sixty Faux #1 Brian Bogosevic

Two Small Things That Warmed My Nerdy Little Heart Today

I keep my recent cards in binders organized by current rosters, and I just got finished updating some player’s rows with recently acquired cards.  Two in particular made me smile…

The first smile came when I put this card into the appropriate Blue Jays page in my AL East binder…
2013 Topps Erik Kratz_0001
…Erik Kratz was traded to Toronto in December…

It made me smile partially because I got to replace a hand-written placeholder with an actual card, but even more so when I turned the card over and saw this guy’s career:
2013 Topps Erik Kratz_0002
I like to see a guy who’s been around the block a few times get a baseball card… Yes, Kratz was on a Bowman Prospects card a few years ago, but it’s not the same.

The second smile came when updated the Jerome Williams row in my AL West Binder (he signed with the Astros as a free agent).
Jerome Williams row from AL West binder
Before I put this 2013 card into the far left slot, the entire row was occupied with 2005 cards… The 2013 Topps card ended up bumping a 2005 Heritage card out of the far right slot. I love it when a long-dormant row gets new life. Jerome Williams was a hot pitching prospect who ran into problems and ended up playing in the minors and overseas for a number of years, so he was absent from the “card scene” for a while. He did have a couple of cards in between, but I don’t own those cards.

By the way, at least two of the cards he had in between were Upper Deck cards… The fact that they would give cards to guys like Jerome Williams is one of the few things I miss about UD.

I thought it was also worth mentioning that Williams is from Honolulu and Baseball-reference.com describes him as Hawai’ian-Chinese-Portuguese-Spanish-Japanese-Norweigan-African-Filipino-American.

Hobie… Hobie Landrith! King Of The Wild Frontier!

Broke into the majors with Cincinnati
Traded to the Orioles for Throneberry
Went to the same school as Steve Garvey
Hit for the cycle when he was only three

Hobie… Hobie Landrith!  King Of The Wild Frontier!

The above piece of… whatever… is to celebrate the fact that I picked up two Hobie Landrith cards from COMC on Black Friday.

…and I took a few – *ahem* – liberties in writing the lyrics above… Oh, the things one does to get a verse to rhyme!

The first Hobie Landrith card I picked up is this 1962 featuring a hatless Hobie in a Giants jersey.  More importantly, it’s a card I needed for my 1962 Mets team set.

1962 Topps Hobie Landrith

Hobie was the Mets’ first pick in the 1961 expansion draft, was the starting catcher in the first-ever Mets game and he hit the game-winning homer in the Mets first victory.

He didn’t last long in – I almost said he didn’t last long in Flushing, but Shea Stadium was still two years away – he didn’t last long in the Polo Grounds because he was traded to the Orioles in June as the Player To Be Named Later in the trade that got the Mets…

….drumroll please….


1963 Topps Marv Throneberry

Getting  back to Hobie Landrith – whose first name is Hobart, in case you were wondering – I got this card:

1956 Topps Hobie Landrith

…as part of my plan to buy up affordable and cool-looking commons from the 1956 Topps set.  I’ll be sharing more of these 1956’s before too long.

For those of you scratching your heads over the beginning of this post, I’ll clarify a few things…

Both Hobie Landrith and Steve Garvey played baseball for Michigan State University;  needless to say, it wasn’t at the same time.

Hobie Landrith did not really hit for the cycle when he was three.

…and the whole goofy theme to this post comes from the song “The Ballad Of Davy Crockett” (link for the YouTube video here)

…But I can’t share that song without also featuring They Might Be Giants’ version, “The Ballad Of Davy Crockett (In Outer Space)” (link for the YouTube video here)

Update on 12/28/13:  I had to replace the embedded videos with links, because it was screwing up my blog’s feed (used by blogrolls and such) something awful.  Sorry for the inconvenience.


1976 SSPC #315 – Don Kessinger (Cubs)

1976 SSPC #315 Don Kessinger

Don Kessinger… was a 6-time All-Star, 2-time Gold Glove winner who played 16 years in the majors, mainly for the Cubs.  He was known for his excellent range and strong throwing arm.

Several of his Topps cards point out that he went 6-for-6 against the Cards in a game on June 17th, 1971.  That game was a 10-inning walk-off 7-6 win for the Cubs where Kessinger scored the winning run on a single by Ron Santo.

Kessinger was the last player/manager in the American League;  he managed and played short for the White Sox in 1979.  He did not last in either role;  he was replaced as manager by Tony LaRussa before the season ended, and he would not play after 1979.

In 1976, Don Kessinger… was the starting shortstop for the Cardinals.  He filled in the gap between Mike Tyson and up-and-comer Garry Templeton.

Shea-o-meter:  The scoreboard with the Mets logo in the background is a bit of a giveaway;  here are the current counts for where photos in this set were taken:
Shea:  27
Pretty sure it’s Shea:  5
Can’t tell:  5
Not Shea:  5

Betcha didn’t know… Kessinger was an All-American basketball player for the University of Mississippi.

SSPC vs. Topps: Kessinger’s 1976 Topps card has him airbrushed into what ended up looking like a velour Cardinals cap.

1976 SSPC #315 Don Kessinger back

Sandberg Tribute in 1994 Topps Traded

Yesterday I was trying to further the organization of my collection and my database didn’t have any record at all of 1994 Topps Traded… which cards are in it, whether I have a complete set, whether I have any cards at all.

I had to go to my binders to confirm – yes, I’ve got the set.  I’d be greatly surprised if I didn’t, I used to faithfully buy the factory traded sets each year, and 1994 was the last year they weren’t issued in packs (if they were issue at all).

While I was checking my binder, these two cards caught my eye:

1994 Topps Traded Ryne Sandberg 130T
1994 Topps Traded Ryne Sandberg 131T

These are nice cards that I’d forgotten about, and relatively timely given Ryno’s new managerial stint.

The “Topps Topps Topps Topps Topps Topps Topps Topps” watermark is a little obnoxious, but it admittedly comes across more strongly in these scans than they do in real life.

I’m going to make a public plea to the Phillies – because I know that Ruben Amaro and his bunch all regularly check in on The Shlabotnik Report – and ask that they get Sandberg into some throwbacks like the one in the photo above… And then Topps can get him to pose the same way and make a similar card, and then it’ll be like the photos used on the Beatles’ “1962-1966” and “1967-1970” albums.

Congratulations And A Custom to Ryno

Yesterday the Phillies changed Ryne Sandberg’s job title from “Interim Manager” to “Manager”. I’m happy for Ryno, and I wish him…


…a moderate amount of success in his new job.

Let’s not get carried away, I’m a Mets fan and he’s managing the Phillies.
2013 TSR #786 - Ryne Sandberg

To further add to the celebration, here’s a glossy card I recently pulled out of a Fairfield repack.
1987 Topps All-Star Glossy Ryne Sandberg
Until I get a current card (or figure out a way to print out my customs in color), this card is occupying the Phillies’ manager’s slot in my NL East “40-man roster” binder.

I’m thinking that’s a blurry Leon Durham on deck.  Anybody care to confirm or deny that?

2001 Upper Deck Confusion

Let’s meet our two contestants!

I’m Justin Pope, I’m a “Star Rookie” and card number 25 in the 2001 Upper Deck set.

2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Justin Pope

2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Justin Pope back

I’m Damian Rolls, I’m a “Star Rookie” and card number 25 in the 2001 Upper Deck set.

2001 Upper Deck Damian Rolls

2001 Upper Deck Damian Rolls back

This situation is something I had to deal with yesterday when I was organizing/purging my 2001 Upper Deck cards.  In 2001, I probably bought more packs of Upper Deck Prospect Premieres than I bought of the regular set.  I liked Prospect Premieres because it got me cards of players I didn’t already have cards for, and I could use them in my “40-man roster” binders.

Back in 2001 it wasn’t a problem;  I knew which pack I pulled them from.  But going back to them 12 years later and trying to figure out which cards were which?  Yeah, it was a bit of a challenge.

An aside to the card companies:  Please, please, please put a line of text on the back of each and every card, telling us which set it belongs to.

After sorting things out a bit, I realized the easiest method of telling them apart is looking for the stat line.  The base set has stats, Prospect Premieres does not (because there was no Major League experience to list).

When you have the cards side-by-side and do a little “contrast and compare”, the other differences are more obvious.  The foil on those Prospect Premieres cards are more of a bronze than gold, although it’s certainly not anything that jumps out at you.

The other differences I found are that the Prospect Premiere cards don’t have a MLBPA logo on the back, and don’t include the players uni number next to their position.

With all that information at hand, you can go back and tell that Justin Pope is from Prospect Premieres, and Damian Rolls is from the flagship Upper Deck set.

Now that we’ve sorted all that out, here are some 2001 Prospect Premieres cards of guys you may recognize…

Ricky Nolasco

2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Ricky Nolasco

Ryan Howard

2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Ryan Howard

Jacob “Jake” Peavy

2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Jacob Peavy

Cardboard Justice For Donnie!

If someone’s got 8 years of major league experience behind them, you’d think they’d be on a baseball card, right?

What about a guy who’s been in over 275 games?  Topps must have a bunch of cards of him, wouldn’t you think?

But what if that guy has been in 275 games stretched out over 8 years?

Well… in that case…

Donnie Murphy is a 30-year-old utility infielder with the Cubs. He was drafted by the Royals in 2002, made his Major League debut 2 years later. He’s been with the Royals, A’s, Marlins and Cubs over 8 seasons, but has never appeared in more than 52 games in any given season. This year, he’s set a career high in plate appearances and home runs, and is having a pretty decent run with the Cubbies.

.. But I’ve looked in numerous places and it seems like this 2002 Bowman Draft Picks card and its parallels are his sole appearance on Nationally-distributed cardboard.

2002 Bowman Draft #BDP75 - Don Murphy RC (Rookie Card) - Courtesy of COMC.com

2002 Bowman Draft #BDP75 – Don Murphy RC (Rookie Card) – Courtesy of COMC.com

I got curious about him the other day when I was bringing my neglected “Current Rosters” binders up to date and had to insert a placeholder card for Donnie Murphy.  I said to myself “This guy’s been around for years, I can’t believe I don’t have a card for him yet.”

…So, I went looking on COMC and eBay and Zistle, and searched my own database, and all I could come up with was the one card.

Meanwhile there are guys who never got out of A-ball who have multiple base cards and inserts.  I’m telling you, there ain’t no justice.

So come on, Topps! You gave Adam Greenberg a card, what about Donnie Murphy?  I know it’s too late for this year’s Update set, but maybe you can see your way clear to giving him a 2014 card?

I’ll even kick off the festivities by giving him one of my own cards:
2013 TSR #691 - Donnie Murphy

Oh, and by the way… That 2002 Bowman card above? If you click on the photo, it’ll probably take you to a COMC page that says the card is sold out. That’s ’cause I bought it. World’s smallest PC!