The White Sox Got Very 1970’s; I Got Very Nerdy

Thursday night, the Chicago White Sox threw back to their late 1970’s “leisure suit” uniforms.  I love anything associated with 1970’s baseball, and these uniforms are so bad that they’re…

No, sorry, I can’t go there.  1970’s or not, they’re not “so bad that they’re good”.  They’re just bad… tremendously bad.  …But I do appreciate the fact that the White Sox did throwback to these unis, and I can’t let 1970’s throwbacks go by without making customs…
2015 TSR 1978 Carlos Rondon
Officially, these uniforms “throw back” to 1976, but they didn’t show up on baseball cards until 1977… and I don’t have a 1977 template yet, so I went with 1978.  It still works.

While I was making these, I also decided to play around with some ideas I’d had to simulate the printing of 1970’s baseball cards.

NOTE TO THE CASUAL READER:  I can understand if any of the following makes your eyes glaze over, and I won’t be offended if you stop reading… but just so you know, there are several more customs in this post.  Go check ’em out before you bail on me.

Part of the problem with making customs using today’s technology is that the customs end up being high-definition, and that takes away from the illusion of the throwback card. I’ve been thinking of ways around that, and these are my first experiments with that concept.

My graphics software has an interesting pair of tools… “Split Channel” and “Combine Channel”. Split Channel more or less gives you images like you’d have on a printing plate. For these cards, I split them into three channels, Red, Blue and Green (RGB), which I think is true to 1970’s printing. I could’ve also done it as CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), which is what we generally pull when we get printing plate inserts in our wax packs.

Anyway, I made a custom, saved it, split it into RGB channels, which created a red, green and blue image.  In order to simulate a printing mistake, I took the “blue” image, adjusted the brightness, moved it just a tiny bit so it wouldn’t align with the other two colors, and then combined the three channels back into one image; this is what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson RGB mess with blue

And this is the original:
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson

It’s a subtle difference, especially when you’re viewing it on a blog, but it does give it a sort of “not a PSA 10” quality that I was looking for.

For the next custom, I did something similar but I messed with the red channel instead of the blue… and probably messed a little too much, because the custom ended up with a blue tinge… but that’s cool, it’s all part of the experiment, right?
2015 TSR 1978 Tyler Saladino RBG Red adjust

For the final custom, I tried another idea. I created the custom, then I duplicated that image into another layer, brought the transparency of the top layer way down to something like 20%, and then I moved it slightly horizontally and vertically. I was hoping to give it a little “fuzziness”.  Here’s what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 Adam Eaton offset

None of these are exactly what I had in mind, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t successful experiments.

And yes, I am a total nerd.

Are We Not Stars? 1972 White Sox Rookie Stars (Eddy, Lemonds)

…Answering the age-old question, “Who are these guys?”
1972 Topps White Sox Rookie Stars Eddy Lemonds

Don Eddy: Don Eddy was a lefty reliever in two seasons with the White Sox, although both came before this card.  Overall he pitched in 29 games and finished with a 2.39 ERA.  He also got a double in his only Major League at bat.  Halfway through the 1972 season he was traded to the Padres, but that mainly meant that he played his AAA games in Hawaii instead of Tucson.  1973 was his final season.

This card is Mr. Eddy’s sole cardboard appearance.

Dave Lemonds: In 1968, Lemonds was an outstanding college pitcher for North Carolina, averaging more than a strikeout per inning and being named a first-team All-American.  That June, the Cubs took him with the first overall pick.  (Side note:  The biggest name in the first round, by far, was #13 Steve Garvey).  He made it up to the Cubs for a cup of coffee in 1969.

After the 1970 season, he was traded across town to the White Sox.  He made it back to The Show in 1972, where he spent the entire season at the back of the White Sox rotation.  On August 11th of that year, with the Chisox and A’s battling for first, he went toe-to-toe with Catfish Hunter.  Lemonds shut down the A’s for 6.2 innings, giving up 2 hits, one walk and no runs en-route to a 1-0 White Sox victory.

Lemonds would pitch in AAA in 1973 and 1974 before retiring.

This was the second of three cardboard appearances for Lemonds.  He was also a “Rookie Star” in 1971, and in 1973 he had the double luxury of having his own card and not being airbrushed.

Closest To Being A Star: Although neither player had a prolonged MLB career, Lemonds was a top prospect and had that game against the A’s to put on his C.V., so I’ll name him as the closest.

“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).

Vote For The Next “Hot Stove” Custom! (And Check Out David Robertson While You’re At It)

Before I get to the voting part, let me share a custom that was about as easy to make as these things get…
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #13 David Robertson
When David Robertson went from the Yankees to the White Sox, I started doing some preliminary work for the custom.  I came across this photo of Robertson where he held his glove over the “NY” logo on his chest… and at that point my work was halfway done. Cover up the Yankees cap logo, add a White Sox logo, badabing badaboom, I got yer custom right here, buddy.

Prior to last week I was cruising along nicely with the “Hot Stove” customs, more or less keeping up with the ones I wanted to make, building a small backlog — and then the Winter Meetings hit. Before I knew it, there were guys flying every which direction, and I didn’t know where to begin.

So rather than try to figure out what you guys might want to see, I’m just going to ask you.

Just to be clear about this… This isn’t about doing just one custom, it’s more about prioritization. I want to know which players you’d like me to do first. You can vote for as many or as few as you like. You can also write them in – there were a few guys who changed teams but weren’t included for a variety of reasons (including the old favorite, “I forgot”).

Added Clarification:  The general idea behind these customs is to feature any uniformed personnel who will be wearing a new uniform in 2015, whether it’s a new manager, a free agent, a traded player, a Rule V guy, a waiver pickup, whatever…

As always, comments are welcome – I just thought the poll might get more responses.

The top couple of vote-getters will be featured over the next week or two. The remainder may or may not get customs, we’ll see where things go. I continue to hope that the Mets and Orioles will, at some point, give me reasons to make customs.

By the way, if the Kemp and/or Rollins trades fall through or if Dan Haren retires, then they will come off the list.

Thanks for participating!

What 1970’s Caps, Jerseys Or Logos Would You Revive?

I’ve got this theory about baseball uniforms.

More so than other sports, over the past 10-20 years, baseball uniforms have gotten more “traditional”, and I put “traditional” in quotes because tradition often means whatever you grew up with… Just like the best year there ever was for music was whatever year it was when you were twelve.

A lot of the current bunch of owners grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, and when they think of what a baseball uniform should look like, that era is what they go to.

If I’m right about this, then it won’t be long before another group of owners come in, owners who grew up in the 1970’s, the decade of polyknits and powder blue road unis and elastic waistbands.

Throwing back to the Seventies may not be an entirely bad thing.  Baseball uniforms have gotten overly conservative in color and design, and it might be time to bring back a little “Seventies” in the same way that the current Blue Jays uniforms are updates of their original 1977 unis.

1978 Topps Rick Cerone

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to run through some of the 1970’s hats, jerseys, or logos that I’d like to see brought back, even if just as an alternate.

…and don’t worry, I won’t suggest anything to do with these leisure suit monstrosities:

1978 Topps Kevin Bell

I’ve so much disdain for those White Sox uniforms that I didn’t even go back and correct the scan.

…But here is what I would like to see…

The red Red Sox cap (1975 – 1978)

I’ve never been a fan of the Red Sox, but I’ve always liked the 1970’s red and navy cap.  I liked the cap so much in my younger days that I even owned one… and looking back on that, wearing a Red Sox cap on Long Island may not have been one of my better ideas… not that anyone ever gave me grief over it, but still…

1976 Topps Cecil Cooper

By the way, the Red Sox have tweaked their road jerseys for 2014, and the lettering will be basically the same what Cecil Cooper is wearing — something I see as a definite improvement.

The angular Cleveland Indians cap logo (1973 – 1977)

I’m going to suggest this Cleveland Indians cap logo as an improvement not because it’s an inspired design, but simply because it’s the best Indians cap logo from the past 50 years… at least it is to me, but it’s what they wore the first four years I followed baseball, so I’m biased.

1976 Topps Buddy Bell

From a purely visual standpoint, it may not be as good as Chief Wahoo, but even if you take the stance that naming a team “Indians” is meant to honor Native Americans, you can’t say the same about Chief Wahoo.  Chief Wahoo is just flat-out mean spirited, and I wouldn’t suggest that as an option.

the Brewers’ Yellow Panel Road Cap (1974 – 1977)

What the Brewers have now… it’s  not bad, but it’s… I don’t know.  It leaves me cold.  If you’re going to be blue and gold, be BLUE and GOLD.  I like the yellow-panel cap, and I’m partial to the the “typeface M” cap, but I know the “M-B Glove” logo is popular and would definitely be an improvement over what they have now.

1978 Topps Charlie Moore

The Tigers’ road Jersey (1972 – 1993)

Road jerseys that have solid navy or black lettering with no trim to offset the darkness are just “blah”…  Too “Dark Knight”.  I want to see something else.  Hell, even the Yankees have white trim to offset the navy, and that makes it “pop” a little bit.  The Tigers could do a lot worse than going with something like this:

1977 Topps Ben Oglivie

I won’t ask for the road cap as well…  It’s not bad, but the standard Tigers cap is a classic you don’t mess with.

Padres

I was going to gather together some Padres caps and jerseys that I like, but I quickly realized that it would probably be a post of its own.  I’ll summarize my take on the Padres uniforms in two words:

Brown.

Gold.

“Fauxback” alternates I’d like to see:  The Nationals wearing pseudo-Expo uniforms

Honorable Mention:  I know the Nats downplay their Montreal roots, but how cool would it be if they did Expos throwbacks, complete with tri-color cap?  They could swap the curly W for the Expos logo, but go with everything else.

1976 Topps Larry Parrish

WhICH uniform elements from the 1970’s would you like to see teams bring back?

Do you think I’m totally off-base on these?  Would you rather see the Astros’ “rainbow” jerseys or the return of powder-blue road jerseys?

…or would you leave the Seventies dead and buried?

Saved From The Purge: More Early 1990’s Upper Deck

I’ve been purging most of the Upper Deck cards from my collection, and what follows are cards that were spared my wrath, even though they wouldn’t normally fit in my collection.

I saved this one because I liked the fairly unusual angle of this action shot.
1991 Upper Deck Carlos Martinez
Two trivial facts about Carlos Martinez:
1) He hit the home run in 1993 that bounced off of Jose Canseco’s head
2) He is the first of three Major Leaguers named Carlos Martinez. Number 3 is currently in the Cardinals bullpen.

Photobomb!
1991 Upper Deck Scott Ruskin Back

As long as I’m dishing out the trivia, Scott Ruskin started out as a 1B/OF in the Pirates system, and switched over to pitching in 1989, the year before his MLB debut.

She’s got legs, she knows how to use ’em…
1992 Upper Deck Jack Morris back
…and sensible shoes and an early ’90’s jacket…

For some reason, I really enjoy “Being interviewed on ESPN” shots. I might have to make a theme out of that.

Jack Morris lead the American League in wild pitches three straight years and five overall.

At various points he also lead the AL in less-interesting categories like wins, strikeouts, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched…

1976 SSPC #141 – Brian Downing (White Sox)

Brian Downing… has 20 Major League seasons under his belt, playing for the White Sox, Angels and Rangers.  While with the Angels he was the starting catcher in the 1979 All-Star Game, lead the AL in walks in 1987 and was one of the first Major Leaguers to adopt a year-round bodybuilding program.  He’s in the Angels Hall Of Fame, and ranks among the top 3 in Angel career AB’s, Runs, Hits, Doubles, Homers, RBI and Walks.

1976 SSPC #141 Brian Downing

In 1976, Brian Downing… caught 93 games for the White Sox, batting .256/3/30.

Betcha didn’t know… His first hit in the Majors was an inside-the-park homer against the Tigers.  He also had a guest appearance playing himself on the TV show “The Jeffersons”.  This is what playing in metro L.A. will get you.

SSPC vs. Topps: Both of Downing’s 1976 baseball cards are posed batting shots, but the SSPC card is way cooler than the Topps.  I think it’s a combination of the tight crop and the shades.  Absolutely the shades.

1976 SSPC #141 Brian Downing back

Another song from 1976:

The Spirit Of ’76!!!!

I think it’s safe to say that many of you weren’t around for America’s bicentennial in 1976.  Too bad, you certainly missed something.
1977 Mets Yearbook Photo Of Bicentennial
It was hype and nationalism and commercialism all wrapped into one particular event which was technically one day – July 4th, 1976 –  but had one hell of a lead-up.  Imagine the Olympics lasting for 18 months, and you’ll start to get an idea.

CBS broadcast a “Bicentennial Minute” every day for 2 years.  We had bicentennial TV specials, bicentennial candy bars, bicentennial soda bottles…  We even had special quarters.
1976 US Quarter reverse

That might not seem like a big deal now, but back then it was absolutely crazypants to have anything other than an eagle on the back of a quarter.  There were special half dollars and dollar coins as well, but we didn’t really notice because then, as now, nobody used those.

Everything was Stars & Stripes and three-cornered hats.  If there was anything that could be spangled with stars, Buddy, you’d better believe that it was star-spangled!

1976 Mets Yearbook Dairylea ad

Everything was made to be red, white and blue… fire hydrants, freight trains, water towers, trash cans, park benches…

…baseball yearbooks…
1976 Mets Yearbook Revised Edition
1976 Pirates Yearbook
1976 Tigers Yearbook

…baseball cards…

1976 Kellogg's Felix Millan

1976 Hostess Bucky Dent

After two years of build-up, I’m sure that there were a lot of people who became sick and tired of all the hype surrounding this event… but at least they could comfort themselves with “The Beer For The Bicentennial”.
Schmidt's Beer Ad From Mets Yearbook

1976 SSPC #147: Nyls Nyman

1976 SSPC #147 Nyls NymanHi, I’m Nyls Nyman!  You may remember me from… my far-from-evenly distributed career with the White Sox:  5 games in 1974, 106 games in 1975, 8 games in 1976 and 1 game (and one plate appearance) in 1977.

In 1976, Nyls Nyman… spent most of the season with the AAA Iowa Oaks.

1976 Joe says… What a cool name!

2013 Joe says… What a cool name!

2013 Joe also wonders… What kind of name is Nyls Nyman? I also wonder how he pronounces his name. As a kid, I thought that “Nyls Nyman” rhymed with “pills fry pan”… but now I wonder if Nyls actually rhymes with “miles” or “meals”… and “Nyman” could be pronounced NEE-man…

So… take your time… and tell me… Is it Shea? It’s hard to tell from such a generic background, but Shea Stadium was, deep down at it’s core, a generic background (but I still love it).  Anyway, I’ll say yes, it is Shea.

1976 SSPC #147 Nyls Nyman backBetcha didn’t know… Nyls’ younger brother Chris played for the White Sox in 1982 and 1983. Despite the gap between their playing careers, they’re only a year apart in age… Nyls was 20 when he made his ML debut, while Chris went to Arizona State and didn’t get to the Majors until he was 27.

Cardboard History: Nyls’ shared a 1975 “Rookie Outfielders” card with Benny Ayala, Jerry Turner and Tommy Smith. He also had his own card in 1976 Topps, but wouldn’t appear on cardboard after that.

Highlights Of My Last Few Repacks

It used to be that when I needed a random “fix”, I’d buy a pack or two of Bowman or Triple Play or some other set I wasn’t really collecting, but lately I’ve been gravitating more towards the 100-card repacks, even with the diminishing returns I’m getting.

I mean, with all the repacks I’ve bought, I’m still 50 cards short of completing the 1987 Topps set. What is up with that?

Anyway, rather than giving a complete blow-by-blow of the repacks, I figured I’d share some of the more interesting cards out of the last three or so.

I’ll lead off with the most unusual card I got… This one was in the last repack I bought and is my first repack autograph… A 2005 Topps Chrome Update Cesar Carrillo.

2005 Topps Update Chrome Cesar Carrillo

I didn’t remember hearing much about the guy, so I looked him up… He did pitch in 3 games for the Padres in 2009, but he’s bounced around since then.  He’s currently part of the Tigers organization, but he’s under a 100-game suspension for drug violations coming out of the Biogenesis investigations.

…And that is why his autograph found it’s way into my repack. It’s still kinda cool, even though it’s worth about as little as an autographed card can be.

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about the repacks is getting these 1980’s/1990’s Topps glossies. I’d had only a handful of these cards from each year, but I think I’ve added over 20 of these to my collection.
1991 Topps Rookies Glossy Frank Thomas
Not only was this Big Hurt card one I needed, but I was mildly surprised to find that it actually has some value, at least in theory.  I don’t mean to keep going on about value, but when I get a repack card like this that’s potentially worth a buck or two, it just makes me sit up and take notice.

This card was on the front of one repack I bought…
2001 MLB Showdown Todd Zeile
…I like getting MLB Showdown cards, especially for Mets and Orioles. I’d be very happy if more of these popped up in my repacks; they’re like the King of the 21st Century Oddballs, plus they sometimes feature players who didn’t get much play in the mainstream sets.

I normally wouldn’t keep a 1993 Donruss card for a player I don’t collect, but I just enjoyed the photo (Sorry, Joe Oliver)…
1993 Donruss Joe Oliver
Either he’s just been sent sprawling by a brushback pitch, or he’s breakdancing.
Go, catcher! Go, catcher! Go, catcher!

Finally, I got a couple of TriStar Prospects cards… Oooh, shiny. I was a little surprised that some of them were for guys who still had the potential to be an impact player.
2007 Tristar Prospects Plus Justin Heyward
If J-Hey fulfills half of the promise some people expected out of him, this card might end up being something worthwhile. This one’ll go into the “Wait and see” box.