A Few Random Customs I Figured I’d Share

No real reason behind posting any of these, other than I felt like it.

I like the way this card turned out, and I’ve liked Rodrigo Lopez since he was an Oriole, but the Cubs unfortunately designated him for assignment back in April before I could post the image.  At this point in the season, it just doesn’t matter.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for photos involving throwback uniforms which would not be anachronistic on a 1974 Topps card, and here’s another one; like the Josh Hamilton card I’d featured a little while ago, this is from a Rangers 40th anniversary throwback game.

And finally… A week or two ago, I featured one of my custom cards in a cello wrapper. I got some comments asking what the card looks like without the “wrapper”, so here you go:

Unrelated: 1980 Topps / Songs With “King” In The Title

I’m gonna try something new and (hopefully) fun by pairing cards with unrelated lists or facts.  “King Felix” Hernandez pitched a perfect game this week, as I’m sure you know;  A few months ago I received a number of 1980 Topps as my “Diamond Giveaway” payout.  Let’s mash it up…

My top five songs with “King” in the title (in no particular order)


The top five 1980 Topps I got from Diamond Giveaway:

“Sun King” by The Beatles (from Abbey Road)

Side 2 from Abbey Road is one of my favorite all-time album sides.  Yes, I’m old, I still think of certain albums as having sides.  For those who never had Abbey Road on vinyl, side 2 begins with “Here Comes The Sun”

“King Contrary Man” by The Cult (from Electric)

“The King Of Bedside Manor” by Barenaked Ladies (from Gordon)

Some of you may scoff at Barenaked Ladies, but I’ve been a fan since their first album and they were a hell of a lot of fun to see in concert.  Yes, I used the past tense even though the band still exists.  Sorry guys, but it’s not BNL without Steven Page.  I’m not sure how “BNL” it was the last couple of years with Steve.

“King Of The World” by Joe Jackson (from Summer In The City)

This is a Steely Dan song, but I prefer JJ’s live cover version.

“Kings And Queens” by Aerosmith (from Draw The Line)

To me, this song will always be the B-side on the “Come Together” single, but it was one of those B-sides that I got to like as much as the A-side.

Bonus Track:  “King Tut” by Steve Martin ANd the toot uncommons

Another song which will always be a single to me.  The single benefits from being just the studio track without the live lead-in you have on the “Wild And Crazy Guy” album.  I’m sure Mickey Lolich prefers the single.

2012 Panini Triple Play – Best Kids’ Set Since… Oooooh… I Dunno

I was pretty dubious when I saw images of Triple Play; the weird, cartoony images didn’t look much like the players.  But I was in Target, packs were $1 each, I said “Eh, what the heck”.  And you know what?  I think Panini might be on to something.

These cards are obviously aimed at kids, but they don’t aim low.  A lot of sets aimed at kids tend to have bright, garish colors and goofy, cutesy images of players with giant heads and artwork straight out of “Highlights For Children” (no offense intended for those fans of “Highlights”).

I’m going to us an analogy that you have to be a certain age to get… These cards are like “Jonny Quest” while prior kids’ sets  are like “H.R. Pufnstuff”.  When I was a kid, I didn’t want sickeningly cutesy giant puppets and magic flutes.  That’s for babies!  I want to see jets and monsters and aliens and stuff!

I didn’t realize at first that the background was related to the team.  I took me a minute or two to realize that the background on the Oakland cards are oak leaves.    The backs of the card have a writeup on the player, career stats and a trivia question.  Here’s the one from the back of the Kurt Suzuki card:  “How many Hawaiian-born players have 500 hits?”  The answer’s at the bottom of this post.

Stickers!  The set’s got stickers!  Gotta have stickers.

This card threw me at first.  “Oooh, an insert!  I didn’t think there were inserts.”  Then I realized what I  had:  A piece of “Authentic baseball jersey”.  Not game-worn.  Not even a replica.  Just a jersey.  Even so, it’s kind of cool.  I guess it’s sort of “I’ve got my own jersey card like my dad has!  …Only I get to touch this one!”

I thought I got doubles of this Starlin Castro card until I realized that the backs were different;  when you get all nine Starlin Castro cards, you can make a puzzle of the image on the front of each card.  I appreciate the idea, but to me part of the fun of the puzzle-back cards was not knowing what the image would look like until you were finished.

I think what it comes down to is that this set is for kids, but it doesn’t talk down to kids.  I always appreciated that when I was young, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these cards get something of a following because of it.  This “kid” won’t try to collect the set, but I’ll probably buy packs here and there, just because.

Oh, jeez, I almost forgot the trivia answer!  The three Hawaiian players with 500 or more hits are Kurt Suzuki (of course), Shane Victorino (“The Flyin’ Hawaiian”) and Mike Lum (who played with the Braves, Reds & Cubs from 1967 to 1982)

National Show & Tell: Haute Coture

Aside from being a collector, I’m also a uni-nerd… I’m fascinated by sports uniforms, and I love to see the authentic examples on display at the National.  I featured a 1967 Tom Seaver uniform on Monday, and thought I’d share a few more examples (Auction house listed in parentheses).

1973 Padres Road Jersey (Mears)  I put this one first because it’s the most eye-catching of the bunch – not necessarily a good thing.

St. Louis Brown’s uniform (I think this might be Heritage Auctions, but I’m not 100% sure.).

Ichiro & Sadaharu Oh jerseys  (Heritage Auctions).  The Ichiro jersey is from Jackie Robinson night in 2009, and he was wearing it when he tied Isao Harimoto for the Japanese career hits record.

1972 Cubs road jersey (Mears)

1938 Babe Ruth Jersey, from his season as a coach with the Brooklyn Dodgers (Memory Lane Auctions)

1979 Hostess Iván DeJesús; Weigh-In #31

This is a blue card, this is.  It’s a very, very blue card.  That’s why I like it.  Because it’s very blue.

Iván DeJesús was a shortstop who came up through the Dodgers system and made his ML debut with the Dodgers, but he established himself after being traded with Bill Buckner and a minor leaguer to the Cubs for Rick Monday and Mike Garman.

DeJesús was also traded in January, 1982 to the Phillies for Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg.  Ask a Phillies fan how they feel about that trade.  I hear that Sandberg kid is managing in AAA now.

DeJesús played for the 1983 NL Champion Phillies, and was their starting shortstop for three years.  After that, he played 59 games with the Cardinals, and then played a handful of games with the Yankees, Giants and Tigers.

In 1981, while with the Cubs, he batted .194 with 0 HR’s and 13 RBI’s.  The fact that he was traded for two players after this season gives you an idea of how highly his glove was valued.  According to Wikipedia (not that I would ever question Wikipedia), he was a “Triple Crown Loser” that year, in that he finished last (of qualifying players) in the league in all three categories.

On the more positive side, in 1978 DeJesús lead the NL in runs with 104.

Iván Jr. is an infielder in the Dodgers organization and has split this season between AAA and Los Angeles.


For what it’s worth…

I decided this morning that today will be the first day of “1979 Week”.  I’m not entirely sure at this point what this means, other than I’ll be featuring cards from 1979, along with one or two 1979 customs.

The first paragraph of this post is a somewhat obscure Monty Python reference. I’ll make a custom card (or some other virtual prize) for the person who can tell me the original line and where it’s from.


Weigh-In numbers for this week:

Cards coming into the house:  633 (Several packs of Topps Series 2, Archives, Big Bang Theory, plus 500+ older cards I received from someone – long, not-terribly interesting story)

Cards leaving the house: 1 (recycled Heritage checklist)

Cards entering the collection: 22

Cards leaving the collection: 0

Cards moving from inbound to outbound without entering the collection: 0

To date:

Net change in the collection: -224

Net change to the # of cards in the house: -9,559

Total # of cards which have left the house: 12,279

Tiny, Little Additions To Two Player Collections

While recently going through my 5000-count boxes, I ran across a box full of miscellaneous bits of trade bait… Or what, at the time, I’d hoped would be trade bait.  A lot of it is just worthless crap.

…But I did run across some stuff which wasn’t of interest to me at the time, but is now.

First, I found a couple of addition to the Cal Ripken PC;  officially,  it’s Mrs. Shlabotnik’s Cal Ripken collection, but I am the curator.

“Big freakin’ deal, a 1991 Topps Cal Ripken.”, I hear you say. You can’t tell without something to compare it to, but this Cal was a prize from a box of Cracker Jacks and is verrrrrrrrrrrrry small. It’s easier to tell from this scan of the back, which I scanned along with a 1987 Ripken to give you an idea of how small the Cracker Jack card is.  I don’t have any cards from the 1991 Micro set, so I don’t know how they compare in size, but it’s pretty freakin’ tiny.  If it weren’t for Mrs. S’s collection, it would be a tiny little piece of recycling. This Cal Ripken card had a Mark Grace companion which was not spared the cruel fate of being turned into part of a shopping bag or toilet paper roll.

Another small addition to the Mrs. S collection is this 1983 Topps Sticker.  It’s odd seeing early pictures of Cal… Who’s that kid with the hair?

I have a hard time knowing what to do with stickers. Other than Wacky Packs, I was never a “sticker person”, so they always seem like something of an inferior product to me because they’re lessened by not being in their natural environment (the album)… but actually sticking them in the album almost seems like a waste of a sticker to me; I don’t fully understand it myself, so don’t waste any mental energies on my part.

Finally, earlier this year Jamie Moyer was officially declared to be one of my “Guys” as he’s the one player left who’s older than I am.  This lovely little sticker… well, it is little, “lovely” is open to discussion… is a 1988 Panini.  I’d forgotten that they’d made a previous attempt to enter the US market.  It’s not the most inspired design, but maybe it would look better in its intended Panini sticker album home. Perhaps one of you fine people can clue me in on that.

One-card Player Collection: Johnny Abrego

Johnny Abrego has a name like a gunslinger.  It takes little effort to imagine his name being mentioned in a TV western; “Hoss, I just heard that Johnny Abrego’s ridin’ into town at sunrise… You and Little Joe best be there when he does.”

Abrego first caught my attention when I saw him pitch for the AA Pittsfield Cubs (Eastern League) in 1985.  That September, Johnny made 5 starts for the Chicago Cubs (1-1, 6.38) which was enough to get him the coveted Rated Rookie honor in 1986 Donruss.

Unfortunately, that was also the end of Abrego’s Major League career.  He would spend all of 1986 and 1987 with AAA Iowa… According to Wikipedia, he battled injuries both seasons, was released by the Cubs and retired at the age of 24.

…Shot down in his prime…

1979 Hostess Rick Reuschel; Weigh-in #29

Rick Reuschel beat the Dodgers on this day in 1979, and I thought it’d be fun to give an overview of that game rather than the usual accumulation of factoids about the featured player.  I’ve got a couple of other Hostess cards of Rick Reuschel, so there’ll be other opportunities to do the biographical stuff.


On a chilly Sunday at Wrigley Field, 24,088 fans saw the hometown Cubs (26-28) beat the Dodgers (28-33) by a score of 10-3.

Rick Reuschel (5-5) was the winning pitcher, Lynn McGlothen got the save.  Don Sutton took the loss to even his record at 6-6.

Bill Buckner had a big day, hitting a homer, a triple and a single, scoring 2 runs and batting in 5 runs.

Reuschel pitched 6 innings, gave up 5 hits, one earned run, struck out 6 and walked 3.  McGlothen went three innings (!) to pick up the save.

Reuschel got off to a rough start in the top of the first, giving up singles to Davey Lopes and Ted Martinez to start the game, and then allowing the runners to advance on a wild pitch.  Martinez got picked off, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith walked to load the bases, and it looked like it might be a rough game for the Cubs;  However Reuschel escaped the jam by getting Ron Cey to pop out and Dusty Baker to end the inning by hitting into a 6-4 groundout.

Reuschel settled down after that, allowing only a scattering of hits and 1 run over the next 5 innings.  Meanwhile, the Cubs offense broke out with 5 runs in the bottom of the 5th.  Barry Foote (featured in a Hostess card a few weeks ago) walked to start off the inning, and an error by Don Sutton allowed Reuschel to get on base.  Ivan DeJesus singled to load the bases.  After Ted Sizemore fouled out, Buckner hit a bases-clearing triple to put the Cubs ahead 5-0.  Dave Kingman walked and then Bobby Murcer singled, scoring Buckner and moving Kingman over to third.  Charlie Hough came in to relieve Sutton, and started off by plunking Jerry Martin to load the bases again.  Steve Ontiveros hit a sacrifice fly to bring Kingman home with the inning’s fifth run.

The Cubs would score another 3 runs in the 6th, aided by back-to-back homers by Buckner and Kingman.

The 5th place Cubs would travel to San Francisco to face the Giants that Tuesday, and the 4th place Dodgers would go home to face the Cardinals on Monday.


Weigh-In numbers for this week:

Cards coming into the house:   84 (7 packs of Topps Series Two)

Cards leaving the house: 2 (Diamond Giveaway code cards which went into the recycling after I redeemed them for two very, very exciting virtual coins)

Cards entering the collection: 53 (these weren’t the Series 2 cards, but other cards that I just got around to processing)

Cards leaving the collection: 0

Cards moving from inbound to outbound without entering the collection: 0

To date:

Net change in the collection: -246

Net change to the # of cards in the house: -8,612

Total # of cards which have left the house: 10,666

1975 Hostess Don Kessinger; Weigh-in #24

Don Kessinger was best-known as a Cubs shortstop from 1964 to 1975.  He was well-regarded as a defensive shortstop, winning two Gold Gloves and being selected for 6 All-Star teams.

He also played for the Cardinals and White Sox… I can just imagine the heartbreak for a Cubs/Kessinger fan when your favorite player goes to the two teams that a Cubs fan holds in the highest disdain.

I’d forgotten that Kessinger was also a manager; he managed the White Sox in 1979, the last player-manager in the AL. He had a 46-60 record as a manager and was replaced by some schlub named Tony LaRussa.

1994 Pinnacle #251 - Keith Kessinger - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1994 Pinnacle #251 – Keith Kessinger – Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

Don’s the father of shortstop Keith Kessinger, who had a cup of coffee with the Reds in 1993 and was immortalized in the 1994 Pinnacle and Score sets.

Don is the President of Kessinger Real Estate in Mississippi, and Keith is a realtor there.

Numbers for this (slow) week:

Cards coming into the house: 0

Cards leaving the house: 26 (Unwanted junk wax which got tossed)

Cards entering the collection: 3

Cards leaving the collection: 0

Cards moving from inbound to outbound without entering the collection: 0

To date:

Net change in the collection: -537

Net change to the # of cards in the house: -2716

2012 “Emergency Backup Team”, Candidate #2: Chicago Cubs

As I mentioned in my post about the Rockies last week, I’m looking into the possibility of following a third team (along with the Mets & Orioles) this season.

To briefly recap the ground rules, such as they are:

I’m not jumping ship.  The Mets and Orioles will remain my favorite teams.

Pros for a team include:   Underdog status, up-and-coming players, dedicated fan base, fun to watch, competitive (although not necessarily a contender).

Cons for a team include:  Players signed to ridiculously huge sums of money, drama and/or scandals, overhyped prospects, being in the AL East or NL East, having a name like “Yankees” or “Marlins”.

I’m still taking nominations;  leave a comment, send me an email, make your own blog posting to tell me why your team should be my EBT.

And now, on to the Cubs (Last year:  71-91, 5th place in NL Central)

2011 Topps Update Tony Campana - I've seen guys less intently catching a foul ball while also juggling a beer and nachos

The Cubs weren’t on my original short list, but they captured my attention while reading an article about the changes which have taken place this winter.  Like the Rockies, the Cubs had a pretty big shakeup this winter, mainly up top with Theo Epstein coming from the Red Sox and Dale Sveum being named the manager.  In addition to that, they got 1B prospect Anthony Rizzo from the Padres, traded long-time Cub Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Reality TV Show for Chris Volstad, traded Sean Marshall to the Reds for Travis Wood and traded DJ LeMahieu and LF Tyler Colvin to the  Rockies for RHP Casey Weathers and 3B Ian Stewart.

The Cubs definitely fill out a couple of the “pros” listed above.  They undoubtedly have a dedicated fan base, and I don’t know if anybody’s a bigger underdog than the Cubs.

Another plus in the Cubs favor is that I have a friend from Chicago who’s a die-hard Cubs fan, and I always like to see my friends’ teams do well (as long as it’s not at my expense).

One other factor which weighs very much in the Cubs favor:  They play their home games at Cadaco All-Star Baseball Field.

I’m not sure the Cubs would give me relief if the Mets and Orioles season goes south;  they are in something of a rebuilding mode, but they’ve also got enough new and rookie players that could make things interesting.  Who knows, maybe they’ll be this year’s Diamondbacks.


Running down the lists…

Players I like:   Tony Campana

Non-roster players I like:   Rodrigo Lopez

Cool names:  Jeff Samardzija

Players featured in USA Today Sports Weekly’s “100 Players to watch”:  Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters

Players under 5’10” (I have a soft spot for guys my height):  Tony Campana, Dave Sappelt


So what do you say, Cubs fans?  Should your team be my EBT?