Oddball Du Jour: 1981 Topps 5×7 Cincinnati Reds

As yet another desperate play for time, I’m featuring an entire 12-card set from the Topps “Hometown” 5×7 Cincinnati Reds set.

These cards were issued in packs like these, one card per pack…
1981 Topps 5x7 Mets-Yankees Wrapper Front
They were issued in a number of markets, but not every team got their own set.

As the cards are 5×7, they are four times the size of a standard sized card. The images below each feature two 5×7 cards side-by-side.

OK, if I say much more, I won’t be buying myself any time.

Dave Concepcion, Ron Oester (or as I used to call him, “Oester Boaster Toaster”)
1981 Topps Reds 5x7 Concepcion Oester

Dan Driessen, Dave Collins
1981 Topps Reds 5x7 Driessen Collins

George Foster, Mario Soto
1981 Topps Reds 5x7 Foster Soto

Tom Hume, Ken Griffey, Sr. (Although he was, of course, just “Ken Griffey” then)
1981 Topps Reds 5x7 Hume Griffey

Ray Knight, Joe Nolan
1981 Topps Reds 5x7 Knight Nolan

Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench
1981 Topps Reds 5x7 Seaver Bench

Contrast & Compare: Will & Woodie Show Us Two Sides Of A Trade

On December 16th, 1976 there was a trade made between the Montreal Expos and the Cincinnati Reds. This trade happened too late for Topps to maake any changes to their 1977 set, but O-Pee-Chee went to press later and – in the inaugural year for the Toronto Blue Jays – made an effort to update player who got missed by Topps.

The Reds traded Tony Perez and Will McEnaney to the Expos for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray. I’ve already featured the Perez cards here, and Dale Murray didn’t appear in the 1977 O-Pee-Chee set, but today I’m going to feature both the Topps and O-Pee-Chee versions of the Will and Woodie cards.

…And just for fun I’ll discuss how each player did in the 1977 season with their new teams.

Here are the Topps Will & Woodie cards that many of you are familiar with.
1977 Topps Will McEnaney
1977 Topps Woodie Fryman

On his OPC card, Will McEnaney looks like a guy who’s satisfied about having been updated without being airbrushed (many of the Expos and Blue Jays photos used exclusively by OPC were taken in Spring Training).
1977 OPC Will McEnaney
McEnaney was a reliever who didn’t have a huge amount of success with the 75-87 Expos. He was 3-5 with a 3.95 ERA. Interestingly enough, he finished 32 games and yet had only 3 saves.

McEnaney was one-and-done with the Expos; just before the 1978 season he was traded to the Pirates.

Woodie Fryman was coming off an All-Star season with the Expos, going 13-13 for a team which lost 107 games.  He also looks less-than-thrilled to be airbrushed into a Reds cap and a generic jersey (which isn’t even the pullover the Reds wore at the time).
1977 OPC Woodie Fryman
Woodie was 5-5 for the Reds when he suddenly retired mid-season, later deciding to return only if he was traded away from Cincinnati. During the off-season he got his wish and was traded to the Cubs.

Dale Murray went from the Expos to the Reds and, as I’d mentioned before, did not appear in the 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball set.  You’ll have to make do with the Topps card which shows Murray still in the Expos’ rouge, blanc et bleu.
1977 Topps Dale Murray
Murray worked out of the Reds’ bullpen and went 7-2 with a 4.94 ERA. He lasted slightly longer than a season with the Reds, as he was traded to the Mets the following May.

Also involved in that trade was Tony Perez:
1977 OPC Tony Perez
When I went to compare the 1976 and 1977 stats for Tony Perez, the numbers were so weirdly similar that I thought it was some sort of glitch with baseball-reference.com.  Perez improved his batting average from .260 to .283 and scored fewer runs, 71 down from 77. Here’s where the freaky-deaky part comes in: In both 1976 and 1977, he had 32 doubles, 6 triples, 19 homers and 91 RBI. The exact same numbers in four prominent categories. But I’ve confirmed it using several sources, so I’ll just go with and and proclaim it to be weird as anything.

1976 SSPC #63 – Cesar Cedeno (Astros)

1976 SSPC #63 Cesar Cedeno

Cesar Cedeno… was a five-tool player who made his Major League debut as a 19-year-old in 1970. He played 17 years, 12 with the Astros, was a four-time All-Star, five-time Golden Glove, lead the NL in doubles in 1971 and 1972 and holds the Astros team record with 487 stolen bases.

In 1976, Cesar Cedeno… was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, batted .297, scored 89 runs and had 83 RBI.

Betcha didn’t know… that Cedeno holds five of the top 10 spots in the Astros’ “Stolen Bases by season” chart.

Shea-o-meter: Many of the photos in 1976 SSPC were taken in Shea Stadium; Every team came through Shea because the Yankees were temporarily playing in Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated. “Can two Major League teams share a ballpark without driving each other crazy?”

This photo goes down as “Shea”.
Shea: 45
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 7
Can’t tell: 10
Not Shea: 6

1976 SSPC #63 Cesar Cedeno back

1976 SSPC #40 – Ken Griffey (Reds)

1976 SSPC #40 Ken Griffey

Ken Griffey… played for 19 seasons with the Reds, Yankees, Braves and Mariners. He was a three-time All-Star, has a .296 lifetime batting average and is, of course, the father of Ken Griffey, Jr.

In 1976, Ken Griffey… was the Reds’ starting right fielder, made the All-Star team, batted .336 (second only to Bill Madlock’s .339) and had 74 RBI and 34 stolen bases. His Reds swept the Yankees in the World Series.

Shea-o-meter: Many of the photos in 1976 SSPC were taken in Shea Stadium; Every team came through Shea because the Yankees were temporarily playing in Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated. “Can two Major League teams share a ballpark without driving each other crazy?”

This photo goes down as “Shea”.
Shea: 44
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 7
Can’t tell: 10
Not Shea: 6

1976 SSPC #40 Ken Griffey back

1976 SSPC #36 – Dan Driessen (Reds)

1976 SSPC #36 Dan Driessen

Dan Driessen… was a first baseman who played 15 years in the Majors, nearly 8 of those as the Reds’ starting first baseman.  He was named to the 1973 Topps All-Rookie team — not that you’d know, because those players did not get Rookie Cups on their 1974 cards.

In 1976, Dan Driessen… was still a year away from being the Reds’ starting first baseman, a job he would get when Tony Perez would leave as a free agent was traded to the Expos in December, 1976 (thanks to JT for the correction).  His biggest moment of fame in 1976 was when he became the National League’s first designated hitter;  it happened during the Reds 4-game sweep of the Yankees in the World Series.  1976 was the first year the DH was used in the Fall Classic.

I digress… I couldn’t help but notice Cesar Geronimo in the background.  With 21st century eyes it’s odd to see him wearing #20, which has since been retired for Frank Robinson.  The number appears to have been in regular circulation until 1997, which I find very curious.  I view retired numbers as the ultimate tribute, and numbers should only come out of circulation if it’s unthinkable to do otherwise.  Letting nine other guys wear the number over the course of 30 years doesn’t fall into the “unthinkable” category.

I realize this was a case of “making up for past mistakes”, but the grumpy old man inside of me is bitterly muttering about how teams used to hold these things as sacred, goddamn kids ruin everything, mutter mutter mutter.

Other than Geronimo, some of the other Reds to wear it (according to baseball-reference.com) were Dick Simpson, Eddie Milner, Danny Jackson, and Jeff Branson. Chris Stynes was the last Red to wear #20.

Shea-o-meter: It’s far from a definitive view, but between the light poles in the background and the green outfield wall with a couple of trees behind it, I’m going to list this as “Pretty sure it’s Shea”.
Shea:  34
Pretty sure it’s Shea:  7
Can’t tell:  6
Not Shea:  5

1976 SSPC #36 Dan Driessen back

“Rainbow Friday”: Because Nothing Is Black When You’ve Got 1972’s

Yes, I’ve still got more COMC “Black Friday” goodies to share with you.  Today I’ve got several 1972 Topps cards that were on my “complete series 3 and 4” wantlist.

1972 Topps Clay Carroll IA

1972 Topps Dave Concepcion

1972 Topps Frank Howard

1972 Topps Johnny Bench IA

I guess they could be considered “Red Friday” cards… it’s funny, since only one of the cards actually says “Reds” on it, it wasn’t until I saw them here in this post that I’d realized that three of the four were Cincinnati Reds… and it looks to me like all three of those photos were taken at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.

Frank Howard has a red cap, but it’s a Senators cap masquerading as a cap of the newly-relocated Texas Rangers.  Now that I think of it, it’s interesting that even the hi # Rangers cards feature airbrushed hats.

I Went To COMC For Some TOMC …ver

I never set out to buy up a bunch of Tom Sever cards when I was doing my Black Friday shopping, but it sure ended up that way. I guess that there were just good deals to be found on Tom Terrific.

It mainly started with knocking some cards off my Kellogg’s want lists, including the infamous two-dimensional set of 1973.
1973 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

…The patriotic 1976 set…
1976 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

…and 1980. I don’t mind the Reds uniform or the lack of a fake pitching pose, it’s still Seaver.
1980 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

I later turned my attention to those cards in the 1980 Burger King Pitch, Hit And Run set which had a different photo than the regular Topps card. Just so happened that one of my needs was Tom Seaver.
1980 Burger King Tom Seaver

Back in 1984, I think I bought one pack of 1984 Donruss and my reaction was something along the lines of “Meh”.  Lately I’ve been appreciating that set much  more than I did 30 years ago.

I went to see if there were any interesting 84D cards to be had and – Oh, look! Tom Seaver!
1984 Donruss Tom Seaver

2002 Topps Super Teams is a set that I always feel like I should make more of an effort on, especially since both the 1969 Mets and 1986 Mets were considered to be “Super Teams”. I only have a handful of these, but I added this one to the group.
2002 Topps Super Teams Tom Seaver
Between the black armband and longer hair, I’m thinking this photo is actually from 1976.

Finally, I was looking for cheap cards to fill out my 2005 Topps Rookie Cup collection. This set has been growing on me despite the design. I just like the photos. I got an Ozzie Smith (which I’ll feature later) and – What are the odds? – Tom Seaver.
2005 Topps Rookie Cup Tom Seaver
If they had used the full photos without cropping the background and used a more appealing design, I would’ve been seeking out each and every card in this set instead of looking for particular players or cheap cards.

I still have another 40 or 50 Black Friday cards to share, so you’ll be seeing more of this in the next couple of weeks.

Everything I’ve Ever Believed Is A Lie!!!!!

OK, that’s a bit over-the-top melodramatic, but it turns out that I may have been inadvertently deluding myself for 30+ years.

Since sometime in the late 1970’s, the cornerstone of my collection has been the run of complete sets I have from 1974 to 1978.  I completed each of those sets within a year or so of their release, and they’ve always been at the top of my list of “binders to grab if the house is burning down”.

Without getting into great detail, I had an incident the other day where I thought I needed a card for 1989 Topps, only to find not one but two copies of the same card already in the 89T binder.

This got me depressed about the organization of my collection, and it also got me a little concerned… I’d read about other bloggers who discovered that a set they thought was complete turned out to be missing a card or two.

I figured I’d put my fears to rest by starting with 1974 and counting the # of cards in the binder.  The regular set is 660 cards, the traded set is 44 cards.  If I disregard the “Washington Nat’l Lea” cards and other variations, I should have 704 cards in the binder.

So that’s what I did… and I came up with 703.  And I counted again.  And it’s still 703.

Well, poo.

My older sets are all in their binders by team,  not by card number… So I took an electronic copy of the checklist, sorted it by team, and then worked my way through the binder.  By doing that, I found that my binder was missing Fred Norman of the Reds.

I thought “Eh, it’s probably just misfiled somewhere, or I thought it was a double when it really isn’t”.

So I went to COMC to see which of the cards I’ve looked at 500,000 times I’m looking for, and…

1974 Topps #581 - Fred Norman - Courtesy of COMC.com

1974 Topps #581 – Fred Norman – Courtesy of COMC.com

…And I said “Oh.”

“I… I don’t remember that card.”

“Maybe I’ve never had a complete set of 1974 Topps”.

What really makes this weird for me is that I thought I had a MASTER SET of 1974… All of the “Washington Nat’l Lea.” cards and the other variations, plus all the team checklists. I even wrote about it here very nearly a year ago.

I’m trying not to get too worked up about it;  I’ve got enough cards in monster boxes to know that just because Fred Norman isn’t in the binder, that doesn’t mean this card isn’t in the house somewhere.  I  just haven’t had a chance to go digging through my stack of boxes.

…and part of the reason I haven’t had a chance is because I got really concerned and started double-checking my other 1970’s sets.  Much to my relief, I do have a complete 1975 set.  I haven’t gotten to the others yet.

If anybody else has a story of “I thought it was complete but I was wrong”, please make me feel better and share it in the comments.

Still Recovering From The Past Week

I’m as close to being “carded out” as I’ll ever be.

I’ve spent much of the last week signed on to COMC – pricing the 500 cards I just sent in, setting up the Black Friday promotion, shopping for cards to buy, handling offers, making offers… you get the idea.

By the way, the images here are not cards I just bought on COMC, but are similar to cards I did buy. I got some 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball cards similar to this Ken Griffey…
1977 OPC Ken Griffey
…like the other OPC’s I bought, this Griffey uses a different photo than it’s Topps counterpart. The Topps card has a candid photo of Griffey with a bat, but his face is covered in shadow.

I spent a lot of time shopping, because I shopped in a large number of ways… Trying to complete sets, trying to complete Mets team sets, shopping from vintage sets I’m not working on completing but still like, looking for unusual cards of players I collect, looking for players to fill gaps in my “current 40 man roster” binders…

…and, of course, looking for my own copies of the awesome cards I see in everybody else’s blogs.

This is not one of those cards, that would take effort and like I said, I’m a bit burnt out.
1963 Topps Cliff Cook

BTW, the COMC promotion continues until the end of today. Check out my stuff here.

So the whole point of this is that I’ve spent most of the past 7 days sitting in front of my laptop, looking at images of cards… So forgive me if I don’t feel much like writing about cards today.

1979 Topps Andre Dawson

So have a good Cyber Monday, as well as “Last day to tender contracts to artibration-eligible players” day.

I’ll be back tomorrow with… something.

In the meantime, celebrate Britney Spears’ birthday by listening to the most incredibly awesome cover of a Britney song ever done by five guys singing  a-capella in German.

Update on 12/28/13:  Due to ongoing technical problems, I’m removing all recent embedded videos.  You can see the band Wise Guys performing “Baby, Noch Einmal (Baby, One More Time)” here.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

You’re welcome.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Brayan Peña Signs With The Reds

I did this custom of Brayan Peña as a bit of a challenge to myself.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #4 - Brayan Pena

BTW, for those of you who might be new to this blog, this is the second custom card from my “Hot Stove” set reflecting off-season changes.  The card’s design is based on the 1959 Bazooka set.

I originally had a Brad Ausmus custom lined up for this week, but after having a Matt Williams custom last week, I wasn’t sure I wanted to have another manager right away.  The main problem with that thought is there hasn’t been much player movement so far.

Brayan Peña was the first player of any significance to change teams, having come to terms with the Reds over the weekend and finalizing the deal on Tuesday.  I like Peña, so I had no problems with taking the time to make a custom… but I wasn’t sure if I could take a navy blue Tigers cap and turn it into a Reds cap.

So just for grins, I took a “Photo Day” image of Peña from last spring, messed around a hell of a lot with hue/saturation as well as brightness/contrast, and when I was done, I looked at it, nodded approvingly and said to myself “That does not suck!”

Just to “Cincinnati it up” a little more, I changed the background so that it shows Great American Ballpark instead of a plain backdrop.

Peña signed a 2-year contract and is slated to be the backup to Devin Mesoraco, a job that Ryan Hanigan held in 2013.  All three are currently on the Reds’ 40-man roster, so expect Hanigan to be moving sometime before opening day.

Next week’s custom may be Brad Ausmus… or Marlon Byrd, who signed with the Phillies today… or someone else that neither you or I know about just yet.  We shall see.