1976 SSPC #219 – Bert Blyleven (Twins)

1976 SSPC #219 Bert Blyleven
Bert Blyleven… pitched for the Twins, Indians, Pirates, Angels and Rangers on his way to the Baseball Hall Of Fame. He had 287 wins, 242 complete games and 60 shutouts over his career. At the time he retired, he was 3rd on the all-time strikeout list.

In 1976, Blyleven… started the season with the Twins and then was included in a June 1st trade that sent him and Danny Thompson to the Rangers for Mike Cubbage, Bill Singer, Roy Smalley and Jim Gideon. Bert went 13-16, 2.87 for two middle-of-the-pack teams, and seems to have been the victim of some hard luck. In quickly scanning over his game logs, I see 7 complete game losses. He finished in a three-way tie for 2nd in the league with 6 shutouts (Nolan Ryan had 7) and was 3rd in the league in strikeouts

Editorial Comment…I’ve never been completely sold on Blyleven as a HOFer. To me, he was extremely good pitcher for a very long time, and his cumulative stats puts him in very good company… but I don’t know that he was ever a great pitcher. He got Cy Young votes multiple times, but was never all that close to winning. He was named to only two All-Star teams. I don’t feel like he was ever one of the most dominant pitchers of the game at any particular point in time. One could say that he would’ve garnered more attention had he played on better teams, but one could also say that he wouldn’t have gone as deep into games (and accumulated more stats in the process) had he played on better teams. I’m not saying that Blyleven doesn’t belong, just that I have my doubts. Sorry, Bert. You don’t have to circle me.

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 is one of those Twins photos taken at the original Yankee Stadium.
Shea: 49
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 8
Can’t tell: 11
Not Shea: 7

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…

Bert doesn’t really have anything “1970’s” going on here.
Total Cards: 75
1970’s Sideburns: 37
Fu Manchu: 4
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 23
Afro: 1
Perm: 2
Aviators: 6
Long Hair: 16

1976 SSPC #219 Bert Blyleven back

“Hot Stove” Custom – Joe Mauer Modeling The Twins’ New Home Unis

Two weeks ago, the Twins unveiled their new home uniforms and whenever new uniforms are modeled by a current player, there’s going to be a “Hot Stove” custom made of it.

2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #3 Joe Mauer
Just to be absolutely clear, unlike the majority of “Hot Stove” customs I make, Joe Mauer’s image has not been altered. All I did was to remove him from the original background, put him against a generic faux-3D background and make a custom card out of him.

I was mildly disappointed in these uniforms. I’d heard in advance that they’d be losing the pinstripes and adding gold to the trim, but this almost strikes me as change for change’s sake. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. The gold trim is subtle… almost too subtle. You can’t even see it in this custom, and I don’t know how much it’s going to show up in general. The gold looks fine on the sleeves, OK on the chest wordmark and like crap on the cap logo.

Aside from removing pinstripes and adding gold trim, the uniform no longer has the player’s number on the front and the word “Twins” is now navy instead of red (although the “win” part of the word is still underlined).

This has nothin’ to do with nothin’, but recent news stories about the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Belin Wall reminded me that “Mauer” is a German word for “wall”… as in “Die Berliner Mauer”.

Contrast And Compare: 1980 Topps & Burger King Jerry Koosman

I got a 1980 Burger King Jerry Koosman in a semi-recent COMC shopping binge as part of my attempt to get the “variations” of the late 1970’s/late 1980’s Topps sets.  The 1980 Burger King Pitch, Hit And Run set was largely the same design as 1980 Topps, and most of the cards share the same photos with the Topps equivalent.  I’m collecting the Burger King cards that have a photo which is different from the 1980 Topps card.

In this particular case, I was a little disappointed when I actually got the card… Not because it was anything other than I’d expected, but because of expectations that were completely my own doing.

It’s easier to show you… Here’s the Topps Koosman…
1980 Topps Jerry Koosman

…and here’s the BK Koosman…
1980 Burger King Jerry Koosman

I had the BK card on my wantlist because I’d seen it listed as a different photo, but it wasn’t until I had the BK card in my possession and went to scan both that I realized how similar the two photos are.

Oh, well. Different is different.

Doppelgangers: 1994 Score/Collector’s Choice Greg Myers

For a while in the 1990’s, I had a sort of sub-collection going of cards that featured the same play but different photos. I didn’t stop collecting these types of cards as much as the supply (or my awareness, anyway) dwindled as the number of sets declined.

I’ve been meaning to share some of these pairs for a year or two; Now’s as good a time as any to start with this lovely pair of Greg Myers cards from 1994 Score and 1994 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice:
1994 Greg Myers Score and Collectors Choice
At first glance, it looks like the same photo, but when you look closer you can see that the photos were taken from slightly different angles… but at the same moment.

Despite the way we’ve been conditioned for the past dozen years, this particular #34 with the Red Sox is NOT David Ortiz… rather it’s 3rd baseman Scott Cooper.

I think I figured out which play is involved. Since two different card companies used similar photos in 1994, I feel comfortable in saying that the photo is from 1993. If one looks at day games involving the Angels in Fenway, and then eliminated games where Greg Myers did not play, Scott Cooper didn’t get on base or scored only on home runs, then that leaves Sunday, May 2nd. In the 3rd inning Cooper is on third, John Valentin on 1st and Tony Pena hits into a 5-2 fielder’s choice. Despite the FC, the Red Sox would go on to score 3 runs that inning and won the game 4-3.

Does anybody know of any other “doppelgangers” like these?
I’ve got a few more pairs to feature, but I’m sure there are more out there than the ones I’ve stumbled across. Please let me know, and I’ll add them to my collection and feature them here.

1976 SSPC #220 – Larry Hisle (Twins)

1976 SSPC #220 Larry Hisle

Larry Hisle… played 14 seasons in the Majors with the Phillies, Twins and Brewers.  He was a Topps Rookie All-Star with the Phillies in 1969, was a two-time All-Star, lead the AL in RBI in  1977 and had 3 consecutive seasons with at least 96 RBI before a rotator cuff injury cut short his career.

In 1976, Larry Hisle… was 4th in the AL with 96 RBI.

Do you suppose… That’s Tony Oliva in the background over Larry’s right shoulder? You can’t really see his face, but that could be #6 on his back.

Shea-o-meter: Are you ready for a shock? THIS AIN’T SHEA! It’s original Yankee Stadium.
Shea:  40
Pretty sure it’s Shea:  7
Can’t tell:  7
Not Shea:  6

The Twins started wearing powder blue road unis in 1973, and 1973 was the last year for the original Yankee Stadium… So guess which year this photo was taken?

Betcha didn’t know… Larry Hisle was a Cardinal for one month.  He was acquired from the Dodgers in October, 1972 and traded to the Twins in November, 1972.

Cardboard History: His 1972 card lists him with the Dodgers, but he spent the entire year in AAA Albuquerque.  His 1973 card, which shows him with the Twins, has the same “looking up to the sky so you can’t see the cap logo” photo as the 1972 card.

His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card has the same photo as his 1977 Topps card, but it’s cropped much tighter.

1976 SSPC #220 Larry Hisle back

“Hot Stove” Custom – Twins Sign Catcher Kurt Suzuki

Last week I shared my latest custom card of the week and made an offer to make a custom of your favorite “on the move” player.  At the time, this blog was having blogroll issues so many of you may not have seen it.

The first request for a custom came from Mr. S.J. Fuji, purveyor of The Chronicles Of Fuji and founder of the SanJoseFuji media empire.  Fuji wanted to see a custom of Kurt Suzuki, who signed with the Twins just before Christmas.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #14 - Kurt Suzuki

Before I go any further, I’d like to get something off my chest:  PINSTRIPES ARE A PAIN IN THE BUTT!  They’re easy enough to remove from an image, but faking them makes life difficult for amateurs like me.

Kurt Suzuki could end up with a starting job in 2014.  The Twins are moving Joe Mauer to first;  how much time Kurt Suzuki sees behind the plate depends on how ready prospect Josmil Pinto is.

…and a side note – if you are in a fantasy baseball league where players are drafted out of a pool rather than by position, then you may want to bump Mauer down in your rankings;  he’s less valuable as a first baseman than he is as a catcher.

If anyone would like me to make a custom of their favorite relocated baseball player, leave a comment and I will give it my best shot… but I make no promises, due to factors out of my control (i.e. available images to work with).

There is an outstanding request to make a custom of Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka, but I can’t do anything until he actually signs with someone.

The Kind Of Thing That Strikes You When You Stare At Baseball Cards Too Long

1981 Fleer has a minor flaw that had escaped me for the past 32 years… Take a look at the baseball in the lower left:

1981 Fleer Willie Stargell

The “stitching” is wrong. Both the top and bottom stitching run in the same direction, while on a real baseball the stitching goes in opposite directions.


Well, OK, it appears as if it’s going in opposite directions when viewed from that angle; in reality it’s going in one direction – around the ball and then back again.

For what it’s worth, Topps got it right in 1975…

1975 Topps Frank Taveras

…and in 1979.

1979 Topps Rod Carew

1976 SSPC #217 – Tony Oliva (Twins)

1976 SSPC #217 Tony Oliva

Tony Oliva… Was the 1964 AL Rookie Of The Year, and in his first full season he lead the league in batting average, hits, runs and doubles, made the All-Star team and finished 4th in MVP voting. He made 8 straight All-Star teams, won a Gold Glove, lead the league in hits, doubles and batting average on several occasions and played all of his 15 seasons with the Twins.  His #6 has been retired by the Twins.

In 1976, Tony Oliva… was a coach/DH who had only 128 plate appearances and a .211 average;  he retired after the season.

I can’t help but wonder… who the people are in the stands behind Tony.

Betcha didn’t know… Oliva appeared on a card as the AL Batting Leader before he appeared on a card by himself.  In 1963 and 1964, he appeared on “Rookie Stars” cards with other players.  In 1965, the Batting Leaders card was #1 in the set, but his ‘regular’ card (#340) didn’t appear until the 4th series.

SSPC vs. Topps: Both cards are portraits, but this card gets the edge because his Topps card shows  his face partially covered by shadow.

1976 SSPC #217 Tony Oliva back
A note about the card back: Tony Oliva did not get his 2,000th hit in 1976; he only got 26 hits that year and retired with 1,917.

This Weirds ME Out, And I’m Not Even A Twins Fan

Justin Morneau in a Pirates uniform? Say it ain’t so!!!
2013 TSR #750 - Justin Morneau

I know he’s going to be a free agent at the end of the year and for all we know he could be wearing an Astros cap next year, but for now this is just… odd.  Extremely odd.

For what it’s worth – and it’s not worth very much at all – Morneau is the first card from the 6th and final series of 2013 TSR cards.  As one of the biggest names traded before the 8/31 deadline, he gets the semi-coveted card #750.  I gave some thought to putting some sort of “TRADED” banner on the card, but I wasn’t sure how I’d want to implement one, so I just let it slide.

While I was preparing this card, I found that I had two unpublished custom cards that had been sitting in my folder for a month or two… and strangely enough, the two cards are for a Twin and a Pirate.

2013 TSR #222 - Pedro Florimon

These both fell into the category of “Oh, I gotta use that photo”.

2013 TSR #478 - Russell Marti

This card is a cool action shot and it features Eric Young, Jr., who is one of the finalists for “My Favorite Met of 2013”.

Macaroni & Cheese & Puckett & Gwynn

Another item from the box in my closet known here as “The Vault”…

To all appearances, it’s a ordinary, mild-mannered box which used to contain Kraft Macaroni And Cheese…

1987 Kraft Mac & Cheese front


What’s this?!?  “Free Home Plate Hero Baseball Players Cards”????

…and the Dynamic Duo spring into action!

1987 Kraft Mac & Cheese Puckett Gwynn

Yes, it’s a pair of amazing team-logo-free ersatz baseball cards of Major League Baseball Player Association members Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn!

I believe that Kraft Home Plate Heroes was the winner of the “Least Interesting Baseball Cards” award for 1987.

Just remember, kids… the box says “Best When Purchased By APR 3-88″… If I still had the Mac & Cheese, then that implies that it would’ve been safe to eat.  After all, I did PURCHASE it before April 3rd, 1988.