Bright, Shiny New Uniforms Of 1969

One of the 73 different ways I collect – and I’m not being facetious, I made a list – is to obtain the later-series 1969 cards which feature players in their new expansion team uniforms. 

I generally like to collect cards that show any team’s first year, it’s sort of my take on the rookie card… but I really enjoy the high-numbered 1969 expansion team cards. The way it took shape that year is sort of like The Wizard Of Oz… For the first four series that year, the expansion teams were represented by bareheaded guys, or guys with blacked-out caps… drab and mundane like Dorothy’s B&W life in Kansas..
1969 Dick Selma
…And then in the 5th series – BAM! – we’re in Oz with Technicolor blues and reds and yellows and browns.

Shall we wander down the Yellow Brick Road a bit?

John Boccabella was the 56th pick in the N.L. expansion draft, having been selected from the Cubs.  I’ve always thought of him as a catcher, but it turns out that with the Cubs he was primarily an OF/1B with a handful of games behind the plate.  After the Expos drafted him, he was made more of a full-time catcher.
1969 Topps John Boccabella

Jose Arcia played in the farm systems for the Colt .45’s, Tigers, Indians and Cardinals before making his Major League debut in 1968 with the Cubs.  He’d be the 9th pick in the N.L. expansion draft, and would play 2 years with the Padres.  These days, Arcia would be called a “supersub” as he played short, second, third, left, center and first during his 293 game career.
1969 Topps Jose Arcia
Arcia appears in the 1973 Topps set as an airbrushed Royal, but he never played in a Major League game after 1970.

Tom Burgmeier was a reliever who was selected from the Angels with the 47th pick in the A.L. expansion draft (both leagues were separate entities then, and each league’s two expansion teams were stocked with players from the 10 established teams in that league).
1969 Topps Tom Burgmeier
Burgmeier is still pretty young here, but he would go on to pitch until he was 41, appearing in 745 games over 17 seasons. Of those 745 appearances, just three were starts.

It’s not clear to me when or how Gus Gil joined the Pilots, but it wasn’t through the expansion draft.
1969 Topps Gus Gil
Even though the Pilots lasted just one year before moving, Gil played in Seattle for two straight years; he spent 1968 with the Seattle Angels, which was California’s AAA team.

From a Pilots fan’s point of view, the most unfortunate thing about 1969 is that it only shows the spring training uniforms, which didn’t have anywhere near the glitz that the regular season Pilots unis had… No Pilots logo on the uniform, no sleeve striping, no “scrambled eggs” on the bill of the cap… None of the awesome stuff that Don Mincher had going on in 1970…
1970 Kellogg's Don Mincher
…after the team had already skipped town for Milwaukee.

1976 SSPC #184 – Fran Healy (Royals)

It’s been close to two months since I’ve done an SSPC card… Funny how quickly and easily one gets thrown off track.
1976 SSPC #184 Fran Healy
Fran Healy… Played 9 years in the majors, but only twice did he play more than 60 games. He played 6 games with the 1969 Royals, two years with the Giants, 3+ seasons in a second stint with the Royals and then technically 3 seasons with the Yankees, although he played in just one game in 1978, his final season. With the Royals he caught two Steve Busby no-hitters. With the Yankees he backed up Thurman Munson and would become part of the broadcast team after he retired.

In 1976, Fran Healy… played 8 games with the Royals before being traded to the Yankees for Larry Gura on May 16th. Over the 54 games he played that year, he batted .243 with 10 RBI while catching 29 games and DHing for the rest. Yep, that was a different time when a .243 hitter got used as a DH in 25 games.

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?”

There’s very little to work with in the background… It looks like it could be a Shea dugout, but I’ll go with “can’t tell”.
Shea: 48
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 8
Can’t tell: 11
Not Shea: 6

1970’s Census
We’re going to keep track of all the instances of 1970’s facial hair and other 1970’s trends… Sideburns, afros, mustaches, Aviator glasses…

Fran logs in with 1970’s sideburns… this brings the totals to:
Total Cards: 73
1970’s Sideburns: 36
Fu Manchu: 4
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 22
Afro: 1
Perm: 2
Aviators: 6
Long Hair: 16

1976 SSPC #184 Fran Healy back

Stuff I Like: 1974 Topps Fran Healy

I like this card for a bunch of reasons:

1974 Fran Healy

It’s a horizontal 1974 card.

It’s a cool action shot.

Thurman Munson is the player sliding home while Healy waits for the throw.

Fran Healy would back up Thurman Munson in 1976 and 1977, and for one game in 1978.

Other Fran Healy tidbits:

After retiring in 1978, he would be a Yankees broadcaster through 1981.

His middle name is Xavier.

He was the 28th player taken by the Royals in the 1968 Expansion Draft.

His uncle, Francis Healy, who was also a catcher and also born in Holyoke, MA, played with the NY Giants and Cardinals.  Both Francis and Fran were on World Championship teams (1934 “Gas House Gang” Cardinals, 1977 Yankees) but neither made an appearance in the World Series.

There’s yet another Fran Healy who is the lead singer and songwriter for the Scottish band Travis.

1976 SSPC #171 – Cookie Rojas (Royals)

1976 SSPC #171 Cookie Rojas

Cookie Rojas… played 16 years in the Majors, mainly with the Phillies and Royals.  He was an All-Star five times and during his career he played every position at least once, including an inning of scoreless relief – While with the Phils, he pitched the 9th inning of a 12-3 loss to the Giants on 6/30/67.

Cookie is currently an Analyst on the Miami Marlins’ Spanish-language broadcasts.

In 1976, Cookie Rojas… became a part-time player;  he’d been the starting 2nd baseman in 1975, but in 1976 he lost his starting job to the up-and-coming Frank White.  He batted .242 in 63 games.

This card is… very faded.  Well, actually it’s not the card that’s faded, you can tell by the strong black borders… it’s just the photo that’s faded

Shea-o-meter:  This photo was taken at Shea Stadium;  here are the current counts for where photos in this set were taken:
Shea:  26
Pretty sure it’s Shea:  5
Can’t tell:  5
Not Shea:  5

Betcha didn’t know… In 1962, while a rookie with the Reds, he started at second in the first ever game at Dodger Stadium, and then later got his first Major League off of Sandy Koufax.

1976 SSPC #171 Cookie Rojas back

Shameless plug

The Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale continues at COMC!  I’ve got over 900 cards, all below $20, many below $1, everything came from my collection.  If you’re looking for a few odds and ends to finish off that COMC order, check it out here!

“Hot Stove” Custom – Royals Unveil New Road Alts

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #7 - Eric Hosmer
Going into this offseason, I was pretty sure that no teams would be doing a wholesale uniform change like we had with the Astros a year ago.  Even with the lack of complete visual overhauls, some tweaks and alternate uniforms are starting to see the light of day.   This jersey is a new alternate the Royals will be wearing on the road.  I don’t think you can see it on my custom, but there’s both powder blue and white piping on the jersey.

The only negative thing I can say about this alt is that the Royals have joined a growing trend of having at least one jersey with placket piping – the piping that goes around the collar and down the front.  I’m a little too bleary of brain to come up with a definitive list of who has it on a home, road or alternate with placket piping, and who does not, but the “haves” (Red Sox, Braves, Nationals, Tigers, Astros, Rays, and Mariners are among the obvious ones) definitely outnumber the “have nots” (Trickier to define because a lot of alts have it).  It’s a good and traditional look, but I’m worried that it’s becoming overdone.

Getting back to the Royals, one of the things about them that I’ve grown to appreciate over the years is their uniforms.  They went with a classic design from the start, and they’ve stuck with it since 1969 with only minor changes here and there.

There’s a lot to be said for that… of the 14 teams that started off as expansion teams, only 3 have maintained the same essential “branding” throughout their existence:  The Mets (if you’ll forgive the “racing stripes” of the 1980’s and the altered Mets script in the 1990’s), the Royals and the Rockies.

A couple of notes about the custom

Unlike my previous customs this offseason, Eric Hosmer was not photoshopped.  All I did to the original image was to separate him from the grey background and superimpose him on a background of the White Sox ballpark (which has a sponsored name I’m not remembering and don’t care to look up).

“Chicago?” you say, “Why not Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City?”

I almost did look for a background image of Kauffman, until I remembered that this is a road jersey, so it needed a road background.  Of the backgrounds I have in my inventory, Chicago worked best.

Other than that, the only thing I had to do on this card was modify a Royals logo.  I changed the yellow & blue to make them more basic and Topps-like, and I added the black border to set it off from the colored stripes behind it.

Wrapping Up My 2013 TSR Custom Set And Looking Forward To 2014

Now that the World Series is over, now that Koji Uehara and some guys beat Carlos Beltran and some other guys …which is largely what the World Series ended up being for me…  now that the Postseason is over, we can get on with the business of the offseason…  Manager hirings can get announced, awards can be awarded, free agents can be free and so on.

With all the offseason movement will come my 2nd annual “Hot Stove” custom set, which I previewed back in September… but before we get to that, I need to put my regular “TSR” set to bed for another year and start looking forward to 2014.

2013 TSR #708 - Ben Revere

A lot of the customs I made this year ended up being a case of “Oh, that photo will work really well with my design”. Having the team name at the top and behind the player’s head, bat, glove, etc. made for a theme in and of itself.

2013 TSR #502 Lorenzo Cain

I’m far enough along with next year’s design to know that “Photos which go with the design” won’t be anywhere near as much of a factor next year. That being said, I kinda liked having a theme to the cards I made, and I’d like to carry that forward in some other way.

2013 TSR #715 - Hanley Ramirez

I could always do players from my favorite teams (Mets and Orioles), but I honestly like making at least one card for every team;  I think it makes it more fun for me and for you.

I could also do something along the lines of a “Player Of The Week”, which wouldn’t necessarily be the best player of the week, but more the player about whom I have something to say.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out.  If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you think!

Speaking of having something to say, I have something to say about the last three customs…

I made this Jim Leyland custom in the middle of  September, mainly to make sure that I had a Tigers custom in my “inventory”.  Little did I know it would be Leyland’s final custom (sniff).

2013 TSR #643 - Jim Leyland

Mrs. Shlabotnik looooooooooves Brian Roberts, and I would be ill-advised to ignore that fact when making customs… especially when he’s going to be a free agent.  I truly hope that he and the Orioles can come to some sort of incentive-laden agreement;  it would be too weird to see Brian in another uniform.

2013 TSR #701 - Brian Roberts

Finally, a sort of tradition I’ve established is to make a custom of “myself” which truly embodies the unique blend of grace, skill and sheer athleticism that I bring to any sport.

2013 TSR #792 - Joe Shlabotnik

…and that’s a wrap for the 2013 TSR set!  I hope you’ve all enjoyed them, and I hope you have a happy and safe Halloween!

1976 SSPC #177 – Amos Otis (Kansas City Royals)

1976 SSPC #177 Amos Otis

Amos Otis… was a center fielder who played 17 years in the Majors – largely with the Royals, but he started with the Mets and finished with the Pirates.  In between, he got 2000 hits, 3 Gold Gloves, was a 5-time all-star and once lead the A.L. in stolen bases.  He was inducted into the Royals Hall Of Fame in 1986 and is still ranks among the top 3 Royals in hits, runs, triples, homers, RBI, stolen bases and walks.

‘Round here, folks call me:  A.O.

In 1976, Amos Otis… was an All-Star, batted .279/18/86, lead the league with 40 doubles, and got a first-place vote for MVP (he finished 7th behind winner Thurman Munson).

Betcha didn’t know… Amos Otis started out playing with the Mets in 1967 and 1969.  He was traded to the Royals for third baseman Joe Foy… not straight up, of course — the Royals also got pitcher Bob Johnson.  This trade often comes up when a list is made of “All-Time Worst Mets Trades” (not that anybody would have cause to compile a list like that…)

.1976 SSPC #177 Amos Otis back

Using My Fantasy Team As An Excuse To Make Customs, Part 2

Fantasy-wise, Greg Holland was the biggest surprise for me in 2013. I drafted him before the season, but admittedly didn’t know much about him other than he’d been named the the Royals closer during the 2012 season.
2013 TSR #756 - Greg Holland

He ended up with 47 saves, a 1.21 ERA, a 0.866 WHIP and 13.8 K’s per 9 innings – all very impressive numbers.

When doing a Image Google to find a photo of Greg Holland, I somehow ended up with the same image as was used on this Simon & Gintfunkel card:
2013 Gintfunkel Gloria Estefan

When I clicked on the link provided, I ended up on a page full of HTML and no reference to who this singer in the photo was, nor what she had to do with Greg Holland. I did ultimately find out that it’s Gloria Estefan; why she came up in a search on Greg Holland remains a mystery to me.

When it comes to fantasy baseball, I pride myself on my ability to pick up impact rookies during the season. Last year it was Mike Trout; this year, I picked up a couple of kids you may have heard of…
2013 TSR #669 - Yasiel Puig

I won’t deny that Puig’s had a an impressive season and may well have turned the Dodgers’ season around, but when it comes to the NL Rookie Of The Year award, my money’s on this guy:

2013 TSR #702 - Jose Fernandez

Before recapping some of Fernandez’ achievements, I will remind you that all of this was with a very bad team that lost 100 games…

He had a 12-6 record, which means he got nearly 20% of the Marlins’ wins but only 6% of the losses. He also had a 2.19 ERA (2nd in MLB), 0.979 WHIP (4th in MLB), .182 Batting Average Allowed (1st in MLB) and 187 K’s in 172.1 innings.

Most other years, Puig is a shoo-in… but I have to think that Jose Fernandez takes home the hardware.

Cardboard Justice For Donnie!

If someone’s got 8 years of major league experience behind them, you’d think they’d be on a baseball card, right?

What about a guy who’s been in over 275 games?  Topps must have a bunch of cards of him, wouldn’t you think?

But what if that guy has been in 275 games stretched out over 8 years?

Well… in that case…

Donnie Murphy is a 30-year-old utility infielder with the Cubs. He was drafted by the Royals in 2002, made his Major League debut 2 years later. He’s been with the Royals, A’s, Marlins and Cubs over 8 seasons, but has never appeared in more than 52 games in any given season. This year, he’s set a career high in plate appearances and home runs, and is having a pretty decent run with the Cubbies.

.. But I’ve looked in numerous places and it seems like this 2002 Bowman Draft Picks card and its parallels are his sole appearance on Nationally-distributed cardboard.

2002 Bowman Draft #BDP75 - Don Murphy RC (Rookie Card) - Courtesy of

2002 Bowman Draft #BDP75 – Don Murphy RC (Rookie Card) – Courtesy of

I got curious about him the other day when I was bringing my neglected “Current Rosters” binders up to date and had to insert a placeholder card for Donnie Murphy.  I said to myself “This guy’s been around for years, I can’t believe I don’t have a card for him yet.”

…So, I went looking on COMC and eBay and Zistle, and searched my own database, and all I could come up with was the one card.

Meanwhile there are guys who never got out of A-ball who have multiple base cards and inserts.  I’m telling you, there ain’t no justice.

So come on, Topps! You gave Adam Greenberg a card, what about Donnie Murphy?  I know it’s too late for this year’s Update set, but maybe you can see your way clear to giving him a 2014 card?

I’ll even kick off the festivities by giving him one of my own cards:
2013 TSR #691 - Donnie Murphy

Oh, and by the way… That 2002 Bowman card above? If you click on the photo, it’ll probably take you to a COMC page that says the card is sold out. That’s ’cause I bought it. World’s smallest PC!

1976 SSPC #171: Cookie Rojas

1976 SSPC #171 Cookie Rojas Hi, I’m Cookie Rojas!  You may remember me from… 16 years in the majors, mostly with the Phillies and Royals, and 5 All-Star teams.

In 1976, Rojas… Was on the decline and lost the starting second base job to Frank White.

2013 Joe wonders… How did he get a nickname like “Cookie”?

So… take your time… and tell me… Is it Shea?  Yes, it’s Shea.  The photographer of this set was very fond of having the third base line stands in the background.

Random Thoughts… A photo as washed-out as this would’ve fit right in to 1957 Topps.

1976 SSPC #171 Cookie Rojas backBetcha didn’t know… that Cookie came up with the Reds, played part of one season for the Cardinals and managed the Marlins for one game.