Contrast And Compare: Three From 1980 Burger King Sets

It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these “Contrast And Compare” posts. Today I’m going to feature three cards from 1980 Topps and the three corresponding 1980 Burger King cards which act as “updates”.

Now I’m saying “Burger King” because all of the cards were issued through Burger King restaurants, but they don’t all come from the same set. One was part of a regional Phillies team set, and the other two came from the nationally-issued “Pitch Hit and Run” set done in conjunction with the youth skills competition of the same name. The Phillies set appears to be identical to Topps on the front, while the PH&R set features a Burger King logo and “COLLECTOR’S EDITION” text instead of the pennant used for the player’s position.

Kevin Saucier’s 29 games in 1979 (27 in relief) were not enough to get him his own card in 1980 Topps; instead he had to share it with Ramon Aviles and Dickie Noles.

However, when Topps created a regional Burger King Phillies set, Saucier did manage to kick out his roommates.

The 23-year-old Saucier would make 40 relief appearances in 1980, compiling a 7-3 record with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.400 WHIP. After the season he’d be sent to Texas as the Player To Be Named Later in a deal for closer Sparky Lyle, and just under a month later he’d be flipped to the Tigers, with whom he’d pitch another couple of seasons.

Moving over to the BK “Pitch, Hit And Run” set… One thing I hadn’t realized for a while is that the checklist for Pitch, Hit and Run” was divided into “Pitch” (cards 1-11), “Hit” (cards 12 -22) and “Run” (cards 23-33) sections.

Ron LeFlore, who twice lead the league in stolen bases, was featured under “Run”. Here’s his Topps card:

On December 7th, 1979, LeFlore was traded to the Expos for pitcher Dan Schatzeder. As it worked out, he got traded to another team with the same color scheme in 1980 Topps-created sets.

LeFlore would get a career-high and league-leading 97 SB’s in his lone season with the Expos. After the season he signed with the White Sox as a free agent, but would play just 173 games in his two years in Chicago.

Bobby Bonds was well-known as a “30-30” guy; he hit at least 30 homers and stole 30 bases in five different seasons. His final 30-30 season came in 1978 and he fall short with 25 homers and 34 stolen bases in his one-year stint with the Indians in 1979.  He was allso featured on a “Run” card.

On the same day as the LeFlore trade, Bonds was traded to the Cardinals for John Denny and Jerry Mumphrey.

I tend to think of Bobby Bonds with the Giants, but when you look at his career he’s the king of the “Short-Term Stops”. Bonds spent one season (1975) with the Yankees, one season (1978) split between the White Sox (26 games) and the Rangers (130 games), one season (1979) with the Indians, one season (1980) with the Cardinals and one season (1981) with the Cubs. His 1978 Hostess card is the only one which attempts to show him in a White Sox uniform; 1978 O-Pee-Chee lists him with the White Sox, but he’s shown in an Angels unform.

Contrast And Compare: Greg Gross And Manny Trillo From 1979 Topps / Burger King

During the late 1970’s, I was a baseball card snob who looked down upon anything that didn’t come in wax, cello or rack packs. What a fool I was. :-)

The Burger King sets from 1977 to 1980 acted as “traded sets” for at least a few teams, and now I’m trying to make up for lost time by tracking down these cards. Today I’ve got two more examples.

The Cubs and Phillies made an eight-player trade in late February, 1979; this trade was well past any deadlines in effect for the Topps set, but two of the Philly-bound players made it into the Burger King Phillies set.

In this trade, the Phillies sent Ted Sizemore, Barry Foote, Jerry Martin and two other players to the Cubs for Dave Rader…

…Greg Gross…

…and infielder Manny Trillo…

In 1979 there were only Burger King sets for the Yankees and Phillies, so the guys going to Chicago didn’t appear on cardboard in a Cubs uniform until 1980 (if at all). Dave Rader, who would play only 31 games with the Phillies uniform, also didn’t get the BK treatment.

But there were Burger King cards for Manny Trillo and Greg Gross.

Greg Gross would play 10 years for the Phillies as a pinch hitter and backup outfielder. Gross is the Phillies pinch hit king and 5th all-time in the Majors with 143 pinch hits. He won a World Series with the Phillies in 1980 and finished 2nd in 1974 N.L. Rookie Of The Year voting, behind Bake McBride and ahead of Bill Madlock.

Interestingly enough, Manny Trillo got airbrushed in this set, even though he was acquired in the same trade as Greg Gross.

Trillo was originally signed by the Phils, went to the A’s in the Rule V draft and was traded to the Cubs in the Billy Williams deal.

In his four years with the Phillies, Trillo won 3 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers and was an All-Star twice, in addition to being named the MVP of the 1980 NLCS.

Does anybody out there have a Manny Trillo collection going? He strikes me as a fun guy to collect… He was good enough to make a number of oddball sets, but well-traveled enough (38 games with the A’s, 17 games with the Reds, 31 games with the Expos and 88 with the Indians) to make for plenty of… variety, for lack of a better word. After a fairly quick search, I could only find one card which showed him with the A’s (1974 Topps Rookie Shortstops), two cards which showed him with the Reds (1989 Bowman and 1989 Topps Big Baseball) and a handful of cards which show him in Expos and Indians uniforms.

Oddball Odyssey: Three Players “Exclusive” To The 1980 Burger King Phillies Set

This post was going to be a “Contrast And Compare” post where I would share several Topps-created 1980 Burger King cards along with the corresponding flagship Topps card from the same year… But then I realized that, for three of the players involved, they did not appear on any other cards in 1980, and I figured that was as good an angle as any.

I had to look up John Vukovich because I was curious as to why someone who had not been on a Topps card since 1975 made the cut for the 1980 Burger King Phillies set. I was further intrigued when I found out that he played for 10 years in the majors despite never having batted higher than .211 or played in more than 74 games in a single season.
He was an excellent fielder, but to call him a “good clubhouse guy” would seem to sell him short to a great degree. “Vuk” was beloved by teammates, fans and everyone around him and would later become the longest-term coach in Phillies history, coaching with the team for 17 seasons. I’m sure there must be Phillies fans out there who can give a better insight than I as to what he meant to the Phillies.

Keith Moreland played in 1,306 games over the course of 12 seasons, so I was a bit surprised that his sole 1980 card came in the Burger King set… but I forgot that, going into 1980, he’d only played 15 games for the Phillies.  This is his “pre-rookie” card.
Moreland would get more playing time in 1980, and would go 4-for-12 in the 1980 World Series, but he’s better known to fans of 1980’s baseball as a Cubs outfielder who regularly hit double-digits in home runs and had 106 RBI in 1987.

Like Keith Moreland, Lonnie Smith was a young Phillie who would get a major increase in playing time in 1980 and would achieve (arguably) more fame with other teams.
In 1980 Lonnie Smith played in 100 regular season games and batted .339, which got him enough votes to finish 3rd in N.L. Rookie Of The Year Voting (behind winner Steve Howe and runner-up Bill Gullickson).  Two years later with the Cardinals, Lonnie was an All-Star who lead the league with 120 runs.  Over his career he played in five different World Series for four teams (Phillies, Cardinals, Royals and Braves).

1977 O-Pee-Chee vs. Topps – Bobby Murcer & Bill Singer

1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball was one of the more unique sets put out by Topps’ Canadian partner.  Instead of what had been a sort of bilingual parallel set, OPC took advantage of their later production dates in an expansion year, giving us new and different cards featuring the Montreal Expos and newly-born Toronto Blue Jays, and updating some other transactions in the process.

Here is the 1977 Bobby Murcer card most of us are familiar with… Bobby trying to hide behind Cardinals’ catcher Joe Ferguson.
Murcer, who had been “The next Mickey Mantle” during his early career with the Yanks, was traded to the Cubs in a five-player deal that saw Bill Madlock heading to San Francisco.

For his part of the deal, Murcer got a pretty decent airbrushing job:
At this point, Murcer’s best years were behind him, but he’d put in another few years as a slightly-above-average player.

Bill Singer was the 28th pick in the expansion draft that filled the rosters of the Blue Jays and Mariners. Singer was drafted from the Twins, as you can kind of see from the un-airbrushed jersey.

As they did with Blue Jays and Expos, O-Pee-Chee went the extra yard and got a picture of Singer in Spring Training.


Singer was the starting pitcher in the Jays’ first game, but he’d go 3-8 for Toronto before being released in July.  That would be the end of his career.

Quick reminder… We’ve got real barn-burner going on in the vote to determine the template I’ll use for next Spring’s World Baseball Classic set! If you haven’t voted yet, the choices are laid out below with the voting at the bottom. Thanks again!


Contrast & Compare: 1977 Burger King Bucky Dent & Mike Torrez

Bucky Dent and Mike Torrez will go down in history on opposite sides of one of the most famous at bats in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry… But in 1977 they were teammates and both had cards in the 1977 Burger King Yankees set which were “variations” from that year’s Topps set.

We’ll start with Mike Torrez, a guy who ended up being in a lot of big trades. The Expos traded Torrez and Ken Singleton the Orioles for Dave McNally and two others, a trade that ended up weighing in the Orioles favor. The Orioles traded Torrez to Oakland in the deal that also saw Reggie Jackson and Don Baylor switching teams for a year.
In 1977, Torrez started 4 games before being traded to the Yankees in a deal for Dock Ellis, Marty Perez and Larry Murray.
Torrez would go 14-12 during the regular season and won 2 World Series games that October. He’d cash in on his success and sign a contract with the Red Sox.

Moving on to Bucky Dent… Bucky came up with the White Sox and proved himself to be one of the better shortstops in the league.
The Yankees knew they needed an outstanding shortstop, so just before the season started they sent Oscar Gamble and several other players to the White Sox for the Buckster.
Bucky Dent also helped the Yankees get to the World Series in 1977, but the historical moment I’m talking about happened the following season.

At the end of the 1978 regular season, the Yankees and Red Sox finished with identical 99-63 records. The teams played a 1-game playoff in Fenway with Mike Torrez facing up against the Yankees’ Ron Guidry.

The Sox had a 2-0 lead going into the 7th inning. Torrez got Graig Nettles to fly out to right, but then gave up singles to Chris Chambliss and Roy White and then got pinch-hitter Jim Spencer to fly out to left.

It was at that point that Bucky Dent, who had 22 career homers at that point, hit the ball over the Green Monster to put the Yankees ahead to stay, and for many people Bucky Dent’s legal name became Bucky F’ing Dent.

Contrast And Compare: 1977 Bill Madlock and Darrell Porter

Hello, and welcome back to “Contrast And Compare”, where we take a look at distinct cards of the same player from different but related sets!

…Because I couldn’t think of another way of starting this post without channeling a TV announcer…

Today we’re going to compare two pair of cards from 1977 Topps and 1977 O-Pee-Chee.  In each of the following, I’ll show the Topps card first, followed by the updated OPC.

Four-time batting champion Bill “Mad Dog” Madlock was drafted by the Rangers and traded to the Cubs after the 1973 season as part of the Fergie Jenkins deal.
1977 Topps Bill Madlock

In February, 1977, Madlock was traded to the Giants in a deal that also involved Bobby Murcer. Presumably because of the short notice, the airbrush artist did not do a particularly great job on Madlock.
1977 OPC Bill Madlock

Darrell Porter was drafted by the Brewers and made the All-Star team in 1974.
1977 Topps Darrell Porter

In December, 1976 he was part of a five-player trade between the Brewers and Royals. This is a far better airbrushing job than Madlock got.
1977 OPC Darrell Porter
Porter would play four years with the Royals before crossing the state to join the Cardinals as a free agent. While with the Royals, he’d be an All-Star three straight years… he would never make the all-star team again, although he would be the MVP of the 1982 NLCS and World Series.

1977 OPC Baseball: Some Jays Rookies Get Their Moment In Cardboard

Last Friday, I showed off a couple of “variations-of-sorts” in 1977 O-Pee-Chee, cards which are significantly different than their 1977 Topps counterparts.  Both of the OPC cards featured questionable airbrushing, but I don’t want to give everybody the idea that 1977 OPC is about airbrushing… There are a number of Expos and Blue Jays which feature fresh spring training photos, and I’ve got a couple of such Jays today.

Leon Hooten pitched 6 games in relief with the A’s in 1974.  He was taken with the 59th pick in the expansion draft, and got airbrushed and minimized on a 1977 Topps Rookie Pitchers card.
1977 Topps Rookie Pitchers Gideon et al

O-Pee-Chee gave Hooten his own card.
1977 OPC Leon Hooten

Unfortunately for all involved, Hooten didn’t make the Blue Jays coming out of spring training and his professional career was over.

Maybe I shouldn’t have started out with that card…

Mike Willis has a happier story.  He had been pitching for the Orioles’ AAA team in Rochester when he was drafted by the Blue Jays with the 55th pick.

1977 Topps Rookie Pitchers Krukow et al

Unlike Hooten, he made the team and would spend much of the next 4 years pitching in Toronto with stints with AAA Syracuse.

1977 OPC Mike Willis

He finished his career in the Phillies system with a year at AAA Oklahoma City.

Neither of these guys would be considered a key card for this set, but I always enjoy cards of guys wearing brand-new expansion team uniforms!  It’s a shame that the Mariners didn’t get the same treatment, but I guess that’s their fault for not being in Canada.


Back before the season, I featured this custom of Johnny Gomes with the Rakuten Golden Eagles…
2016 TSRchives 91T-3b Jonny Gomes
…and several of you commented that you hadn’t been aware that he’d gone to Japan. Well, if you hadn’t been aware that he left, you may not have been aware that he’s back. After batting below the Mendoza Line in NPB, the rest of his contract was voided by “mutual consent”. Gomes is looking to return to MLB; time will tell how much his poor showing in Japan will hurt his attempt.

BTW, this post went out about 7 hours later than I normally like on a weekday… Apologies, we had technical difficulties in Shlabotnik World Headquarters.

1977 O-Pee-Chee Baseball: And They Changed The Photos Because……?????

One type of card that is my favorite to chase down are the 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball cards which are different than the corresponding Topps cards. Today I’m going to take a quick look at two players that are different in OPC, and anyone looking at the two cards would ask “WHY????”

First off, let’s go with Pete Falcone. Pete Falcone was a pitcher who was basically good enough to stick around for 10 years. He came up with the Giants in 1975, was traded to the Cardinals during the winter meetings in late 1975 and was still with the Cardinals in 1977. Here’s his Topps card:
1977 Topps Pete Falcone
Not the greatest photograph, but decent enough. Apparently not good enough for O-Pee-Chee, however.

Nope, those crazy Canadians decided to go with an airbrushed portrait:
1977 OPC Pete Falcone
Now remember… Falcone was traded to the Cardinals in December, 1975. He also appeared with an airbrushed Cardinals cap in the 1976 Traded set. There’s no reason for him to be airbrushed in a set that came out a year later… Yet here he is.

Movin’ right along (dubby dum, dubby dum)…

Steve Braun spent the first six years of his career with the Twins and was taken by the Mariners with the 38th pick in the expansion draft prior to the 1977 season.

I always thought this card was one of the better examples of airbrushing the 1977 expansion teams.
1977 Topps Steve Braun
…and honestly, this was probably one of the more difficult things the Topps artists had had to do in a while. Not only did they have to airbrush two teams worth of players, I doubt they had much reference material to work with. Had they even seen the caps in person? Did they have photos? Color photos? Who knows.

Anyway, like I said, Steve Braun came out pretty well, all things considered.

Someone wasn’t satisfied, for whatever reason , and decided that this was an improvement:
1977 OPC Steve Braun

To be fair, this same photo and airbrushing was used on the Topps Cloth Stickers set, so the onus for this might be on Topps.

A third example of airbrushing is on the 1977 Hostess card of Steve Braun, but I don’t have that one yet… and now that I’m pondering it, it wouldn’t take much to get me to move 1977 Hostess Mariners and Blue Jays up on my want lists… Maybe I should go look at what’s on COMC….

Topps Chrome Cards Which Aren’t Just Shiny Parallels

Not the most interesting post title I’ve come up with in my day, but it works.

With 2015 Topps Chrome coming out this week, I thought I’d share some of the Chrome from past years that I’d picked up recently.

Until recently, I’d regarded Topps Chrome only as the shiny parallel set that it is, and as a result pretty much ignored it… up until this past January, when this card set me off on a mission:
2010 Topps Chrome Ike Davis

I ran across the card in a repack, and realized it had a photo that was different from the corresponding regular Topps card:
2010 Topps Ike Davis

I had no idea that there were any Chrome cards that differed in any significant way from the base set, but I found out that there were a number of cards with different photos and a number of cards that didn’t have a non-shiny counterpart. That lead to a shopping spree in the Chrome aisle of COMC… and I’m going to share a card from each year from 2009 to 2014.

The standard 2009 Koji Uehara card has a posed shot.
2009 Topps Chrome Koji Uehara

This card is particularly interesting for Mets collectors…
2010 Topps Chrome Hisanori Takahashi
Hisanori Takahashi didn’t have a card in any non-shiny version of 2010 Topps. This was the card that really blew my mind; I had no idea that there were players in Chrome who didn’t make it in to Series 1, 2 or Update.

Zach Britton had cards in the base set and a “Rookie Debut” card in Topps Update, but both of those were vertical cards with different (but similar) photos.
2011 Topps Chrome Zach Britton

Jordany Valdespin made it into 2012 Update with a batting pose.
2012 Topps Chrome Jordany Valdespin
This shot is much cooler and has a Giancarlo Stanton cameo.

Just in case you thought all of these cards would be Mets and Orioles…
2013 Topps Chrome RA Dickey
Series 1 Topps has a pitching shot of Dickey with the Mets. Opening Day and Series 2 have a pitching shot with a photoshopped Blue Jays uniform. Here we get a real Blue Jays uniform.

2014 Topps Series 2 has a photo of Cruz in an orange Orioles jersey warming up.
2014 Topps Chrome Nelson Cruz

If you’d like to see a list I’d compiled of players who were in Topps Chrome but not in regular Topps (2009 – 2014), click here.

If you’d like to see a list I’d compiled of Mets and Orioles cards from 2009 to 2014 which had different photos, click here.

If you’d like to listen to “Chrome” by Joe Jackson (off of Volume 4, easily my favorite 21st Century JJ album), then check this out:

Contrast & Compare: The *Interesting* Airbrushing of Manny Sanguillen, 1977 Topps vs. 1977 O-Pee-Chee

About a week ago, this card was featured on the excellent “When Topps Had (Base) Balls” blog…
1977 Topps Manny Sanguillen
The gist of the post is that the Topps airbrush artist did a notably bad job in painting an A’s uniform on the former Pirate Manny Sanguillen.

What he may not have known is that the 1977 O-Pee-Chee Sanguillen card features a different photo of Manny, also handpainted in a manner that could also be described as “a doozy”.

1977 OPC Manny Sanguillen

While neither one can be considered a first-rate example of airbrushing, I think that OPC job is bad enough to make me wonder why they thought it was an improvement over the Topps card (OPC went to press after Topps, so they were able to change things up in this set).

Which do you think is the worse of these two airbrushing jobs?  Topps or OPC?