1976 SSPC: John, Garner & Montanez

No Hall-Of-Famers in this post, but we’ve got three players who are familiar to anyone who loves and/or collects 1970’s baseball.

Tommy John… is well-known as short hand for ulnar collateral ligament surgery, but thanks in part to Tommy John’s Tommy John surgery, he pitched another 14 seasons, 26 in total. He had 288 career wins, three 20-win seasons, was a 4-time All Star and twice was the runner-up in Cy Young voting. I tend to think of him as a Dodger, but he spent just 6 years with the Dodgers (plus one lost season after his surgery).
1976 SSPC #69 Tommy John
In 1976, John… was the N.L. Comeback player of the year after having sat out 1975 while recovering from his surgery.

Betcha Didn’t Know: Tommy John pitched in three World Series, two with the Dodgers, one with the Yankees. All three Fall Classics (1977, 1978, 1981) matched up the Dodgers and Yankees, all three went 6 games, and all three times Tommy John was on the losing side.


Phil Garner… played 16 years in the Majors, playing in over 100 games for many of those seasons. He was a three-time All Star and made the postseason four times, including World Championship with the 1979 Pirates.
1976 SSPC #495 Phil Garner
In 1976, Garner… was an All Star and his 12 triples tied Rod Carew for 2nd in the A.L. (George Brett had 14).


Willie Montanez… played 14 seasons with 9 teams. He finished second to Earl Williams in 1971 N.L. Rookie Of The Year voting in 1971 and made the Topps All-Star Rookie team. He was also an All-Star with the Braves in 1977. At various times in his career he lead the league in Sacrifice Flies (13 in ’71), Doubles (39 in ’72) and Grounding Into Double Plays (26 times each in ’75 and ’76).
1976 SSPC #103 Willie Montanez
This card (and much of the 1976 SSPC Giants team set) is Night Owl’s Nightmare.  It’s a NIGHT CARD!!!  …But it’s a SAN FRANCISCO GIANT!!!

In 1976, Montanez… was traded to the Braves in June, and the timing of the trade combined with his playing every day allowed him to lead the league with 163 games played.


Shea-o-meter
All three photos were taken at Shea Stadium.
Shea: 59
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 8
Can’t tell: 15
Not Shea: 7

1970’s Census: Keeping track of all the instances of 1970’s trends…
I’m going to say we’ve got 3 pair of 1970’s sideburns, two mustaches and one case of long hair.

Total Cards: 88
1970’s Sideburns: 47
Fu Manchu: 4
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 27
Afro: 1
Perm: 2
Aviators: 6
Long Hair: 19

Doppelganger! 1994 Topps and Collector’s Choice Gerónimo Peña

Nick over at Dime Boxes recently featured a 1994 Collector’s Choice Gerónimo Peña card in his “Frankenset” voting.  Peña’s card lost to the 1991 Topps Walt Weiss (a most excellent card), but the Peña has something that the Weiss and other cards don’t have.

A Doppelganger!!!!!
1994 Topps - Collector's Choice Geronimo Pena

These were among the first – and maybe THE first – Doppelgangers in my collection.  A number of these doppelgangers occurred in 1994, and I’m pretty sure that’s when I started keeping them in a separate place in my binders.  (For those new to the blog, I keep a mini collection of cards which feature different photos of the same play, preferably from different manufacturers and different angles.)

I tried to pinpoint the play, but failed.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone’s attempted this before, maybe they had more success.  The guy underneath Peña is Brett Butler.  Using the pretty safe assumptions that the picture was taken in Dodger Stadium in 1993, the best I could do was to narrow it down to the series:  April 13 – 15, 1993.  Both players were in all three games, but Brett Butler got on base far too often for me to figure out which particular play we’re looking at.

Contrast & Compare: 1981 Topps/Coke Don Sutton And Art Howe

For today’s post I’d originally written more about 2015 Topps, but even I was bored by the final result.  I’ve scuttled that post and will instead focus on two 1981 Coca-Cola Astros cards I’ve recently acquired.

For anybody new to 1981 Coca-Cola sets, they were made by Topps to be largely Coke-sponsored versions of the 1981 Cards, they were issued in small cello packs by team and there were a handful of cards which were significantly different than the corresponding cards from 81T.

As best I can tell there are two of these “variations” in the 1981 Coke Astros set.  I’ll start with Don Sutton.

Up through 1980, Sutton pitched for the Dodgers, and it was with the Dodgers that the 1981 Topps set pictured him.
1981 Topps Don Sutton
However, over that winter he’d left Los Angeles as a free agent and signed with the Astros. The Coke cards, which went to press later, featured Sutton with the Astros border and some “Tequila Sunrise” striping airbrushed on to his jersey.
1981 Coke Don Sutton

Art Howe is the other card that differs significantly from the 1981 Topps counterpart… but he didn’t change teams and I couldn’t tell you why it’s different.

His 1981 Topps card shows him waiting at first base for something to happen.
1981 Topps Art Howe

His 1981 Coke card shows him at home plate waiting for a pitch.
1981 Coke Art Howe
Did someone at Coke reject the fielding photo?  Did they want something more in linke with the Coca-Cola corporate zeitgeist of the early 1980’s? Were they just not able to find the original photo in a timely manner? Damned if I know. I just know that I got to add two cards to my 1981 Topps binder, and since I’d originally completed the Topps set 34 years ago, that doesn’t happen often.

Update:  Jeff from One Man’s Junk (Wax) commented that Art Howe’s position on the card is different to reflect his moving from first to third for the 1981 season.  Topps & Coke probably decided against having a card that says “3rd Base” and shows a guy clearly at 1st.  Thanks, Jeff!


Quick aside: I did do a bit of research into today’s original post topic, and certain people might find it moderately interesting, so I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version of that research…

The 2015 card of Mets reliever Carlos Torres is not his rookie card because he had a card in 2009 Bowman Sterling. The Carlos Torres in 2006 Bowman Prospects is a different guy.

Torres pitched in Japan in 2011, which lead me to discover that tradingcarddb.com has Japanese baseball checklists… something I am excited about because I’ve been searching for such a thing for some time now.

“Hot Stove”: Rollins And Kemp, By Popular Demand

Last week I ran a poll to see which “Hot Stove” custom cards I should do next. The two players who got the most votes were Matt Kemp and Jimmy Rollins. Naturally, both trades also took the longest to become official, but today I have them in all their photoshopped-into-new-uniforms glory.

For those new to The Shlabotnik Report or my “Hot Stove” set, these are the latest in a series of custom baseball cards based on the 1974 Kellogg’s 3-D set, and featuring players who have changed teams over the baseball offseason. OK, that’s out of the way for another week…

After 15 years with the Phillies, Jimmy Rollins waived his no-trade clause and got shipped off to the Dodgers. Halfway through digitally removing every single red pinstripe from J-Roll’s uniform, I started to feel the pain that many Phillies fans are experiencing.
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #15 Jimmy Rollins
You can just barely see the number behind the bat, but I did not give Rollins the #11 he wore with the Phillies because it’s currently possessed by (checking the spelling several times) Erisbel Arruebarrena.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a clubhouse deal made to get the number from… Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr…. from Erisbel.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a Dodger fan with all the changes they’re making this year.  It’s clear that new GM Andrew Friedman is determined to put his mark on the team.


Matt Kemp was sent from the Dodgers to the Padres in one of the offseason’s bigger trades. Unlike Jimmy Rollins, Matt Kemp has been with the Dodgers a paltry 9 years.
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #16 Matt Kemp
I wanted to get the “Western Metal Supply” building into the background because I’ve found that hard edges in the background – preferably colorful hard edges – often do a better job of selling the faux 3-D.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a Padres fan with all the changes they’re making this year.  It’s clear that new GM A.J. Preller is determined to put his mark on the team…. Wait a minute!  Didn’t I say that before?  I’ve got this terrible feeling of deja vu…

I haven’t decided who’s next to get immortalized on a “Hot Stove” custom next, but Dee Gordon of the Florida Marlins got the second-most votes, and as he’s not a player who has pinstripes to remove or piping to add, there’s a decent chance that I’ll give myself a break and do him next.

It’s not too late – indeed it’s never too late – to put in your own request!  OK, that’s not true, it will be too late when Spring Training starts, because I’m not going to keep doing this after you can see photos of these guys actually wearing their uniforms.

1975 SSPC #74 – Rick Auerbach (Dodgers)

1976 SSPC #74 Rick Auerbach

Rick Auerbach… played 11 seasons with the Brewers, Dodgers, Reds and Mariners.  He had a pinch-hit double in the 1974 NLCS, and pinch-ran for Joe Ferguson in the 3rd game of the 1974 World Series.

Betcha didn’t know…   Rick Auerbach’s number was retired by the Dodgers!

…to honor Pee Wee Reese. Auerbach, Billy Grabarkewitz, Derrel Thomas and Gary Weiss are the four Dodgers to wear #1 after Pee Wee.

Other fun facts: “Rick” is short for Frederick, and he played with Doug DeCinces at Pierce College in L.A.

In 1976 he was… a utility infielder and pinch-hitter who played in only 36 games and hit well below the Mendoza Line.

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man: Auerbach moved a lot over a period of 4 years… Starting in April, 1973 he went from the Brewers to the Dodgers, back to the Brewers, back to the Dodgers, then to the Mets, to the Rangers and to the Reds.  He never played a game for the Rangers, and he only played at AAA Tidewater for the Mets.

Seattle, Alpha And Omega: Rick Auerbach was drafted by the Seattle Pilots, and finished his career with the Seattle Mariners.

Bowl-O-Rama: At 64, Rick is considered one of the top amatuer bowlers in the Los Angeles area. He’s bowled several 300 games, has a certified 818 series to his credit and has bowled an 856 series in practice. As a league bowler who has never even sniffed at a 600 series, I grovel in his presence.

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 was taken in Shea.
Shea: 46
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 7
Can’t tell: 10
Not Shea: 6

1976 SSPC #74 Rick Auerbach back

1976 SSPC #72 – Rick Rhoden (Dodgers)

1976 SSPC #72 Rick Rhoden
Rick Rhoden… Is not just a former MLB pitcher, he’s also a top celebrity golfer.

He played for 16 years with the Dodgers, Pirates, Yankees and Astros, compiling a 151-125 record with a 3.59 ERA and 1,419 K’s.  He was named to two All-Star teams and played in the 1977 World Series with the Dodgers.

He was one of the best-hitting pitchers of the time;  he won three Silver Slugger awards, has a .238 career batting average and had 3 seasons where he batted over .300.

Rhoden has won over 50 celebrity golf tournaments, and has three career top 10 finishes in the PGA Champions tour.

In 1976, Rick Rhoden… had a breakout season as a starting pitcher, going 12-3 with a 2.98 ERA and making the All-Star team.  This came during a season where the Dodgers won 92 games and finished 10 games behind the Reds.

Rhoden also batted .308 in 65 AB’s.

This card is… a fine example of the long-lost art of the fake follow-through.

Shea-o-meter:  Is it Shea? Yessiree, Bob.
Shea:  36
Pretty sure it’s Shea:  7
Can’t tell:  6
Not Shea:  5

Picking nits: “Albuquerque” is misspelled on the back of the card.

Cardboard History: His rookie card came the previous year, on a “Rookie Pitchers” card he shared with Scott McGregor and two others.

SSPC vs. Topps: Rhoden’s 1976 Topps card has a similar pose, but Rhoden’s attempt to look bad-ass on the Topps card ends up looking more like he has agita.

1976 SSPC #72 Rick Rhoden back

“Hot Stove” Custom – Dodgers Sign Haren To Fill Out Rotation

Going in to the offseason, the Dodgers were supposed to sign Masahiro Tanaka and Robinson Cano and Brian McCann and Matt Garza and Ervin Santana and — what the heck, sign Bronson Arroyo to a 5 year contract just to be the batting practice pitcher and clubhouse guitarist.

None of that has happened.  I don’t mean this to be critical, it’s more a reflection of how people have come to expect the Dodgers to throw money around.

They did sign Dan Haren to a one-year contract, a move that would’ve been a bit more noteworthy had it happened five years ago.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #17 - Dan Haren

…and I can’t think of anything else to write about Dan Haren, the Dodgers or this particular custom card, so I’ll just share a couple of unrelated thoughts…

Back at the end of July I gave a positive review of the 2013 Baseball Hall Of Fame Desk Calendar.  I enjoyed the calendar so much that I also bought the 2014 calendar… but I have to admit it’s been a little disappointing so far because the calendar has been using some of the same images as was used in 2013.  Obviously not an issue if you didn’t buy the 2013 calendar… but just something I wanted to mention.

One other thing I want to mention:  Topps hates me.

I’ve been looking to buy a single wax pack of 2014 Topps all week, and three different Targets had nothing.  Last night I found a Wal-Mart that had 2014 Topps, and they had blasters, hanger packs, rack packs, every conceivable configuration… except for the single wax pack that I was looking to buy.  Why just a single pack?  I’ll get into that when I write about the pack I do buy, but I’m sure you’ve all got an idea or two.  Here’s a hint:  I’m not completely skipping the 2014 flagship.

Oh, one final thing:  I got the moves like Jagger.

Tiny, Little Thoughts From My Tiny, Little Brain

The last couple of weeks have been really busy for me, at least from a cardboard (and virtual cardboard) standpoint.  I’ve been so busy with COMC, custom cards and other things that I’ve been relying on my backlog of finished drafts to keep The Shlabotnik Report on a daily basis.  I’ve gone through most of my finished drafts, so today you get a number of scattered thoughts posing as a cohesive post…

Yesterday I bought a Topps Update blaster from Toys R Us, assuming that it would be priced similarly to the same blaster at Target. WRONG-O!  $26 + tax for 80 cards plus a manupatch. I should’ve been suspicious of the fact that the blaster box didn’t have a price printed on it.  I’m thinking it’s going to be a return, unless someone call tell me some amazing reason for keeping the blaster…. The manupatch doesn’t count, it would just get added to my “Going to COMC” box.

Former Dodgers/Cubs/Jays/A’s/Yankees/Expos pitcher Ted Lilly retired, and I’m a little bummed… Not because I’m a fan, but whenever I’d hear him mentioned, in my mind I’d sing “A song of love is a sad song… Ted Lilly, Ted Lilly, Ted Lo…”
2013 Topps Ted Lilly
…and yes, most of you wouldn’t get a reference to “Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo”, but I’ve never shied away from making arcane references before, I’m not stopping now.

Ted Lilly’s full name is Theodore Roosevelt Lilly.  Topps needs to go back to putting full names on the backs of cards.

If it’s your misfortune to ever listen to the Yankees on the radio, you may be happy to know that you’ll never again have to hear John Sterling say “The Grandyman can” or “Robbie Cano, don’tcha know”.  I realize they’ll be replaced by some equally inane catchphrases for the new Yankees, but let’s not go there just yet.

Does anybody else find this amusing?  Phoenix has had two major hockey teams over the years — the Coyotes and the Roadrunners (WHA).

I found myself staring at this recent page from my Baseball HOF calendar:
Baseball HOF Calendar 11-26-2013
While absentmindedly staring at this image, several thoughts ran though my head…

  • That is one odd-lo0king glove… Was this state-of-the-art for 1958?  What’s with that “6th finger” where the webbing normally is?
  • I never thought about the fact that the award would change as gloves change through the years, but they clearly have changed at least once.
  • Do lefties get a different Gold Glove Award?   (Probably not, sorry lefties).
  • Did they really have a figure of a batter on a fielding award?

For all his acclaim, I find pianist Glenn Gould’s music to be technically proficient but severely lacking in emotional depth.

I’ve only seen two episodes, but so far “Almost Human” is a surprisingly good show.

OK, that pretty much covers me. Does anybody have anything they’d like to get off their chest?

Update #1 – I somehow turned off the comments on this post… Sorry about that.  I think we’re good now.

Update #2 – During the process of trying to figure out how to turn the comments back on, I realized that this is post #700.  Woohoo!

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!