Forgotten Franchises: The NHL’s Colorado Rockies

Yes, that’s right; well before MLB’s Rockies, there was another team that used the name “Colorado Rockies” for eight seasons before leaving for greener pastures.

In my last “Forgotten Franchises” post, I ran through the history of the Kansas City Scouts, a 1974 expansion team that failed miserably and was moved to Denver after two seasons.

1980-81 Topps Hockey Rockies Pin UP

1980-81 Topps Hockey Pin-up insert

As you may have guessed by now, that team became the Colorado Rockies.

How they ended up in Denver and how they ended up leaving Denver was quite the convoluted story.
1978-79 Topps Hockey Paul Gardner
On the day of the 1974 expansion draft for the Scouts and Washington Capitals, NHL President Clarence Campbell announced that “conditional” expansion teams for 1976 were awarded to Denver and Seattle. It wasn’t very long before struggling franchises like the Scouts, California Golden Seals and Pittsburgh Penguins made the league open up to the possibility of Denver and Seattle obtaining an existing team rather than an expansion team.

After the dust settled, the Penguins stayed in Pittsburgh, the Scouts moved to Denver, the Seals to Cleveland, and Seattle is still waiting for an NHL team.

The Rockies’ logo was based on the Colorado state flag; as it worked out, that allowed the team to keep the same colors they had in Kansas City.
NHL Colorado Rockies logo

Unfortunately, for the new owner of the Scouts, the grass in Denver turned out to be greener only by comparison. The team still lost millions during their time in Denver, and spent much of their existence looking for a way out.

The highlight of the Rockies’ six years of existence was making the playoffs in their second year. This is less impressive than it sounds; the rules at the time gave the first two teams in each division a playoff spot, and as the Smythe division was pathetic that year, a 19-40-21 record got the Rockies second place and a playoff spot. The Rockies were swept in the best-of-three first round by the Flyers.

After that it was back to last place for the Rockies.
1979-80 Topps Hockey Garry Croteau
In 1978, Jack Vickers, the owner of the Rockies announced that he would sell the team to Arthur Imperatore who wanted to play for two more years in Denver and then move to New Jersey once the Meadowlands Arena was completed.  This deal was not approved by the league, and part of the reason was likely that the New York Rangers didn’t want to approve a team moving into their territory until they had decided that they wouldn’t move into the new arena themselves (or use the threat of moving as leverage for their own dealings).

At one point, it looked very much like the Rockies would be moving to Ottawa (this was a number of years before the Senators), but as it worked out the NHL approved a sale to John McMullen, who would move the team to New Jersey and call them the Devils.

The Rockies as a team had a very inglorious history, but there a few notable players who pulled on a Rockies’ sweater, including Lanny MacDonald, Wilf Paiement, Barry Beck and Glenn “Chico” Resch.  I don’t have Rockies cards for MacDonald or Beck, but I can fill in the others.
1978-79 Topps Hockey Wilf Paiement

1982-83 Topps Hockey Sticker Glenn Resch

1982-83 Topps Hockey Sticker Glenn Resch

I’m not 100% sure of which “Forgotten Franchise” I’ll tackle next, but I’m leaning towards an NBA team.  If anybody has any requests, feel free to leave a comment.

Topps’ Unintentional Gift To Custom Nerds, Plus A Peek Behind The Curtain

The other day I got this email from Topps shilling some of their “Collectible Posters” and there was a series that featured logo artwork by an artist named Timothy Raines… and no, he doesn’t appear to be related to former Expo Tim Raines.

The Collectible Posters featured Raines’ artwork based on MLB team logos and (because it’s Topps) the 1978 Topps Baseball design.  I went and checked it out, and it seems very nice and well executed, but none of it “spoke to me”.

I noticed a poster for the Rockies, and my initial thought was “Isn’t that interesting, the Rockies didn’t exist in 1978 and here they have the Rockies wordmark in the 1978 style.”

Topps Timothy Raines Art Collection - Rockies

…And then the possibilities of this set in, and I said “Oh, that is interesting….”

One thing you have to understand is that 1978 Topps is one of those sets that people shy away from when it comes time to make Archives sets or custom cards.  The bulk of the design is extremely simple, but the main stumbling point is that script team name.  One can’t just download a font to duplicate it.

One thing I’d played with in the past was trying to piece together letters and sequences of letters and even pieces of letters to fake up one of the five teams that didn’t exist in 1978… Here’s a quickie example for “Nationals”:

Faked up Nationals

I’d done one experiment with this method in the past, as a prelude to making a still-in-the-works “card from another universe” featuring the fictional “1978 Seattle Pilots”:

1978 Topps Pilots wordmark

Faking this script can be somewhat time consuming, but not impossible… and I believe that this is the technique Topps used when they created new wordmarks for the Rockies, Rays, D-Backs and Nationals.

So anyway, the whole gist of this is that I took the images of those Collectible Posters, isolated the wordmarks for the newer teams, added a white ‘border around it (disregard the green part, that’s just a remnant from my methods and I forgot to remove it)….
Nationals red better version

And voila, a word mark ready for customs like this one:

1978 Topps Custom Ryan Zimmerman 2015

(Not happy with the font used for the player name & position, but I’ll play with that when I get time.)

After I made this custom, I decided that I could improve on Topps work… I don’t think they properly adjusted the size of the “o” to match the other letters, so I tweaked it a bit after I made the Zimmerman custom.  Here’s the Topps version again:

Nationals red better version

…and here’s my tweaked version (as it stands right now).

Nationals red my version

I broke the word into “Nati”, “o” and “nals”, squished the “o” and leaned it over slightly, and then pushed them all together again.  I think it looks better, but there are still a couple of things that I wold improve upon.

BTW, when Topps created their capital “N”, I think they used the “M” from Mariners instead of from Mets… and I think the narrower letter works better for a long name like Nationals.

Here are the other wordmarks I isolated from the Topps posters:

Rays Navy better
Rays is probably the easiest of the bunch. “R” from Reds, Rangers or Royals, “ays” from Blue Jays. Voila.

Rockies black better
“Rockies” is a little tricky… One can use the “Ro” from Royals, the “k” from Yankees, the “ies” from Phillies, but none of the teams circa 1978 have a lower-case “c” in their names. I don’t particularly like this “c”, it looks kind of kludgy.  I think I’d tweak it before I used it.

D-Backs Red better
Topps cheats a bit by using the “D-Backs” nickname rather than “Diamondbacks”… But it saved them from fabricating a lowercase “m”, and it probably looks better abbreviated, anyway. They did a better job on this “c” than the one in Rockies.

Some of you may have noticed a missing team – there’s no Marlins. I went to the Timothy Raines website and he did do the Marlins logo, but for some reason Topps is not selling a Collectible Poster of that team… those bastards! (Just kidding guys, I love you, you know that).

I hope I didn’t bore anybody too much, but I thought the “custom people” would appreciate the information, and the rest of you would get a glimpse into the terrible obsession that haunts us customizers.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Justin Morneau Joins Exclusive Denver Club

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #15 - Justin Morneau

No pressure on Justin Morneau with the Rockies… just because an entire generation of Rockies fans has never known the team without Todd Helton at first base… it’s all good.

When Morneau signed with the Rockies, he joined an exclusive fraternity.  Over the 21 seasons of Colorado Rockies baseball, for any of those seasons if you would single out a guy and say “That’s the Rockies’ first baseman”, then you’d be singling out Todd Helton, Andres Gallarraga and…………… that’s it.  There ain’t nobody else.

Best of luck to Morneau, I’ll be rooting for him.

About this particular custom card…

Regulars will know that these customs are based on the 1959 Bazooka set.  Well, this is the first time that I’ve “gone rogue” with the color combinations.  This black with white letters/red with yellow letters combination didn’t exist on any 1959 Bazooka baseball or football cards.  I improvised on the colors because I didn’t like the way the “authentic” color combinations clashed with the purple Rockies logo.

Next week’s card: Tell me who should be on it.
I really don’t know at this point.  I thought about Shin-Soo Choo or Joe Nathan, but I’ve already done a few Tigers and Rangers and it might be good to do some other teams.

…but at this point there aren’t a lot of outstanding transactions that leap out at me.  Which transplanted baseball player do you want to see?  Dan Haren?  Mark Trumbo?  Jarrod Saltalamacchia?  Brent Morel?  Clark, the Cubs’ new mascot?  Leave a comment, let me know…

Oddball Set Du Jour: 1993 Stadium Club Team Rockies

Back in 1993, there were a number of special Stadium Club team sets sold at Wal-Mart stores. The sets had 30 cards each, were sold in clear plastic hanger packs and were done for 16 different teams.

At the time, I would buy anything that pictured the expansion Rockies and Marlins players in their new uniforms, so I bought both sets at a card show.
1993 Stadium Club Team Rockies Andres Galarraga

As you can see, the cards have a unique design; not an attractive one to my eyes, but it’s different. It’s a little hard to tell from the scans, but the design featured a good amount of gold foil. The baseball and striping on the upper right is all gold foil.

While scanning cards from the Rockies sets, I noticed that the 1993 Rockies had 3 catchers who would later go on to manage in the Majors.

I don’t think I have to tell you which team Joe Girardi manages.
1993 Stadium Club Team Rockies Joe Girardi
Girardi was the starting catcher for the ’93 Rockies.

Eric Wedge recently stepped down as the Mariners’ manager, and has also managed the Indians.
1993 Stadium Club Team Rockies Eric Wedge
Wedge appeared in 9 games for the Rockies.

Brad Ausmus, who was recently named as the Tigers manager, never actually played for the Rockies. He’d been taken from the Yankees in the expansion draft and played in AAA until a July trade sent him to San Diego.
1993 Stadium Club Team Rockies Brad Ausmus

Here’s the back of Ausmus’ card.
1993 Stadium Club Team Rockies Brad Ausmus back

The other two Rockies catchers that year were Danny Sheaffer and Jayhawk Owens. Sheaffer managed the Princeton Rays in 2013, Owens has managed in the minors, but I couldn’t find where he is now.

According to my 2008 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, other teams which got these sets were the Braves, Cubs, Angels, White Sox, Marlins, Astros, Royals, Dodgers, Yankees, A’s, Phillies, Cardinals, Giants, Mariners and Rangers. I’ll feature a couple of Marlins tomorrow.

My Customs Are So “Old School” That Even My Quality Control is “Old School”

There’s a weird part of my brain that kinda misses miscut cards… You really haven’t seen anything like that in the last 10 years, and it’s sort of a shame.

Sort of.
2013 TSR #175 - Jose Reyes miscut

Truth is, I just felt like making a miscut custom, and as long as I’m making one I figured I’d use it to feature one of the players I collect… Well, I would collect his Mets cards even if only because he was a Met, but I really enjoy watching him play even if it’s on another team in another league and in another country.  At least I don’t have to see him in a Marlins uniform anymore.

Koji Uehara is another guy who falls into the “Guy who used to be on one of my teams but I still like him after he’s gone”. I really wish the O’s had picked him up after he became a free agent, but I guess I’ll have to remain satisfied that they got Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter for Koji. I’m glad he’s doing well, and I’ll continue to root for him, as long as it doesn’t adversely affect the Mets or Orioles.

2013 TSR #708 - Koji Uehara

I don’t really know much about Adam Ottavino, but he earned a little bit of my appreciation when I found out his uniform number is zero. There’s something about a player who’s willing to wear zero that just appeals to me…

2013 TSR #699 - Adam Ottavino

…well, for the most part. I was disappointed when Brian Wilson started wearing double-zero, because I’m really sick of The Beard, not to mention the guy attached to it.

1998 Pacific Online Gets Whacked!

I’ve always liked to get cards of current players that I don’t already have cards of, so over the years I’ve bought a lot of cards from sets like Upper Deck 40-Man or my beloved Topps Total (sniff… Died before it’s time, it did).

Pacific’s one-and-done Online set falls into the same category.  Thing about it is that I never intended to complete Online, it was a just a set that was all-too-easy to buy a cheap wax pack or two and see which rookie, utility guy or reliever I might get.  Also, it was a tempting target when going through dime boxes… “Oh, look!  Sean Runyan!  I don’t have a card of him yet…”

But now 15 years have passed, I need the space, it’s an ugly set, and at this stage of the game I really don’t need extra cards of Eddie Perez or Ricardo Jordan… so they have officially been purged from the collection.

Kurt Manwaring would normally fit into the “Do I really need extra cards of this guy?” category as well, but this is a cool-enough action shot that a reprieve was given by the Governor.  (All he wanted in exchange was for me to give him Michonne…)

1999 Pacific Online Kurt Manwaring
It’s also amusing to think that URL’s were novel enough to include on a card.  Too bad they couldn’t include a link or something, I have my doubts about how many people would’ve typed in those long URL’s.

The addresses are all dead-ends, by the way… There’s probably been a half-dozen complete revamps of the MLBPA’s website since then.

I’m also… for the time being , anyway… saving this card of Josh Booty.

1999 Pacific Online Josh Booty
It’s not a terribly exciting card, but Mr. Booty won MLB Network’s “Next Knuckler” competition a couple of months ago, so that’s good enough for me.

I also saved the card because Josh Booty’s name reminds me of a particular character from the movie “The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension”…

Pointless Pairings #2 – Trivia Challenge!

My latest “insert” card features a “Pointless Pairing” of R.A. Dickey and Todd Helton. This is the challenge: What do these guys have in common?  Leave your answers in the comments!

I have one particular thing in mind, but if you can show me that both have a map of Sao Paolo tattooed over their hearts, or that both get their teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist named Myrtle, then that would be acceptable.

Just to make this clear, this isn’t a contest, there are no prizes. …Although I might have a Marvel Comics “No-Prize” in my closet… and I could always make the “prize” be tha I’ll make a custom card of the subject of your choice (if I have access to a photo).

Here’s a hint:  This might be easier for fans of a certain current quarterback.

Congratulations To Jamie Moyer

For those of you who missed it, last night Jamie Moyer gave up 2 runs and 6 hits in 7 innings, earned the win, and became the oldest pitcher ever to earn a win.  Jamie is 49 years, 150 days old.  This was also his 268th win, which ties him with Jim Palmer for 34th all-time.

I’ve become a fan of Jamie Moyer after I realized he was the only remaining Major Leaguer who is older than I am.

Oh, apparently the Rockies and Padres were involved in this somehow.

Are there any Jamie Moyer collectors out there?  It seems like he’d be a fun player to collect… plenty of cards to collect, but little-to-nothing in the budget-breaking category.  I haven’t done my research, but I’m guessing there aren’t any 1 of 1 autographed SuperFractor Jamie Moyer cards out there.

2012 Topps Golden Thingie Tulo Relic; Topps Tracker #8

For this week’s Topps Tracker, I thought I’d share the biggest hit I’ve gotten in 2012 Topps…  I pulled this Troy Tulowitzki Golden Moments from a hobby pack I bought fairly early on.  It’s always encouraging to pull a hit like this from a hobby pack if only because it reinforces the idea that the packs were not searched by the card shop I bought them from.  Years ago, I saw someone feeling up packs at Target, and he was a dealer I recognized from local shows.  Needless to say, I never bought anything from him again.

This particular card is not a big thrill for me;  I’ve grown tired of the relics (not that I was hugely into them to start with) and pulling them generally doesn’t get much of a reaction from me other than “Well, at least I can sell this on COMC”.

…and now on to the 2012 Topps Tracker!  This week’s numbers reflect 2 loose retail packs I bought.

I believe I’m reaching the point where I  just need to make one final push and then stop buying Series 1.  The “return on investment” is getting smaller with each pack I buy, and Lord knows I’m not getting many hits.  Of course, part of that has something to do with buying 7 loose retail packs.

…Anyway…

Money spent:  $78.91;  1 blaster, 7 hobby packs, 7 retail packs, 2 hanger packs

Base cards:  332

Minis: 10

Target Parallels:  13

Beerfractor parallels:  6

Manupatches:  1

Relics:  1

Code cards:  7

Other Inserts:  41

Base set progress:  225 cards (68.2% complete)
Mini set progress:  10 cards (20% complete)

2012 Topps Tracker #4

I would normally mention the card image in the subject line, but I didn’t want to draw people in when what I have to say about the card equates to a 3rd grade book report…

This is Drew Pomeranz.  He is a Colorado Rockies pitching prospect.  He was part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.  He is left-handed.  This is his “Rookie Card”,  even though there are 40 other cards which show up when you search for him on COMC.com.

I collect baseball cards. It is a lot of fun.  I have spent over sixty dollars, and I am almost halfway through Series one.  My friends like cards that are shiny or have little pieces of a shirt in them, but I like the other cards better.

Here is a list of what I bought and what I got.  I hope you like it.  I like cookies.

Money spent:  $62.74;  1 blaster, 5 hobby packs, 2 retail packs, 2 hanger packs (one has yet to be opened; numbers below don’t count the unopened hanger)

Base cards:  202

Minis: 7

Target Parallels:  13

Beerfractor parallels:  5

Manupatches:  1

Relics:  1

Code cards:  5

Other Inserts:  25

Base set progress:  161 cards (48.8% complete)
Mini set progress:  7 cards (14% complete)