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.

The Mystery Box Of 1970 Topps Makes Its Last Stop In Cleveland

A couple of months ago I bought a box of 100+ 1970 Topps card from my semi-local card shop. I’ve been sharing the cards for quite a while now, and I’m going to wrap it up with a bunch of Cleveland Indians.

We’ll start off with a beat-up team card.
1970 Topps Indians Team
The Tribe went 76-86 in 1970, finishing in 5th place in the AL East, 32 games out of first but ahead of the lowly Senators.

1970 Topps Chuck Hinton
Chuck Hinton was an All-Star in 1965 and had originally signed with the Orioles, but was selected by the Senators in the 1960 expansion draft. Aside from the Sens and the Indians, he also played one year for the Angels. In 1962 he hit .310, which made him the only player on the “new” Washington Senators (the team that started in 1961 and moved to Texas for the 1972 season) to hit .300. By the time this card came out, he was serving in a utility role, and 1971 would be his last season. Hinton passed away earlier this year.

1970 Topps Dennis Higgins
Dennis Higgins pitched for 7 years in the majors, but 1970 was his sole season with the Indians. He made 58 appearances in 1970 with a 4-6 record and 11 saves. He’s the cousin of recent White Sox & Twins third baseman Joe Crede (Yes, indeedy).

1970 Topps Larry Brown
Larry Brown played from 1963 to 1974 with several teams, and had been a starter with the Indians for much of the 1960’s, but was in a utility role in 1970. His brother is former MLB catcher Dick Brown.

1970 Topps Larry Burchart
Larry Burchart pitched in 29 Major League games, all in 1969. That year he was a Rule V draftee from the Dodgers organization, and he stayed with the Indians all year, but the rest of his career would be two seasons pitching for the Indians’ AAA team in Wichita.

1970 Topps Max Alvis
Max Alvis was an All-Star in 1965 and 1967 and lead the A.L. in HBP in 1963 and 1965. He played for the Indians from 1962 to 1969, but was traded to the Brewers on April 4th, 1970… Just a couple of days after they officially became the Brewers (having gone through spring training as the Seattle Pilots).

According to Wikipedia, there was an attempt to move the Indians to Seattle in either 1962, 1964 or 1965, depending on which article you look at. I don’t remember ever hearing anything like that before, I wonder if it’s true. Does anybody know anything about that?

I also found out from a January, 1970 article in the Spokane Daily Chronicle that Dallas had also made a play for the Pilots, but would lose out to Bud Selig and his Milwaukee group.

…and you thought this was going to be all about the Indians!

Here’s the best cartoon of the bunch, from Larry Burchart’s card:
1970 Topps Larry Burchart Cartoon

…And that does it for the Mystery Box… It put a good dent in my 1970 needs, and was a lot of fun to go through and write about. Hope you all enjoyed it!

Next… On A Very Special Dr. Rachael Ozfrey Show…

Welcome back, everybody… Like it or not, the release of 2013 Topps has affected how we all live our lives.  New releases can be an exciting time, but they can also be emotionally draining and can make us feel like we don’t have as much control as we’d like to have.  Our next guest is a sportscard blogger who has had to make some tough decisions… Please welcome to the show Joe Shlabotnik

(applause, applause)

Joe, I know this is an emotional, painful thing for you… You were having a good winter, making good progress in organizing your collection when you ran into an obstacle.  Can you tell us about that?

Well everything was going great, and after years of confusion I finally started to feel like I was getting my life straight and enjoy things again when… (dabs tissue under eyes) …when 2013 Topps came out… and I just wasn’t ready for it.

Joe, it’s important to know that you’re not alone in this;  we’re all different in our own way, and it’s OK to embrace your individuality.  Now I understand that there was an emotional moment in a retail store?

Yes… (sniff)… I was in the card aisle at Target, feeling pressured to try this new thing and I almost did, but that’s when I realized that I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons… I didn’t want the cards right then as much as I wanted to write about them… maybe get some extra hits on my blog.  I do want to get the cards, but it’s just not the right time…

So, you’re open to this new experience, but don’t feel like you’re quite ready for it yet?

Yes, I feel like it’s just too early.  When I was a kid, the first packs of baseball card were a sign that spring was just around the corner… but it’s still January and I… I just had a lot of other great things going on, and I wanted to keep experiencing those things and appreciate them…

Now Joe, I know you feel like you’ve failed your readers and yourself… but anytime you make a powerful, positive decision for the betterment of your collection, it’s a good thing.

We talked before the show, and you’d mentioned that you’ve got a lot of unopened cards already in your house.  Can you tell me about some of those, while we show our audience pictures of what you have?

Well, I’ve got a Fairfield 100-card repack, and some junk wax…
1988 Score Pack

…and police sets and Japanese packs…
2009 BBM 1st Version Pack

…Oh, and I’m really excited about this one thing I just got, it’s a box of over 100 1970 commons, I’m really excited to see what’s in there.

1970 Topps Marty Pattin

Representative sample: Actual cards may vary

Joe, I want you to know that you’re not alone in this, there are people across the country who are fighting the same battles you are, and while this may be a difficult time for you, this experience will only make you a stronger and better person.

(turning back to the cameras)  Coming up next, we’ll show you 10 trendy ways to update your mailbox… More of the Dr. Rachael Ozfrey show in just a few minutes.

Celebrating My First Anniversary With Cards From Another Universe

So, today is the first anniversary of The Shlabotnik Report.

I had thought I had a pretty good “mission statement” when I started, but I really didn’t know what I was doing for quite a while… It took me a while to realize that there were really two things I was looking for: First, something which would keep me accountable and on-track as I undertook the depressingly large task of purging my collection. Second, it also provided me with someone to “talk shop” with. None of my family or friends are collectors. My blogging spares my wife from listening to “Hey, check out this Willie Montanez card…”

I wanted to do something a little special to mark the occasion, and so I would like to share a couple of cards which I’d obtained from a source in another universe. Alternate universes are not just plot devices in TV shows and comics; There are infinite alternate realities, but without any sort of way to bridge the gap between universes, you’d never know about the other ones.

I have access to one particular alternate universe, but the rift between the universes is just big enough for messages and small packages to pass through… so while I haven’t been over there, I have acquired some cards from that side.

This other universe is exactly the same as ours, only American currency is blue…

…oh, and the Pilots never left Seattle. It’s amazing what proper financing will do for one’s long-term prospects. Their Athletics never left Kansas City, so without the threat of a Kansas City lawsuit hanging over their heads, the AL could allow the Pilots time to get their financing straightened out before taking the field.

Just like in our universe, Gorman Thomas was the Pilots’ top draft pick in 1969.

Similarly, Bobby Mitchell played for the Pilots for several years before going to Japan.

I’ve got a few other cards that I’ll share with you some other time.

Everybody Loves The Pilots (Except The Brew Crew)

There’s never a shortage of Seattle Pilots collectibles at the National… Yearbooks, schedules, cards, pennants, jerseys… How affordable those collectibles are is another matter, but just because something costs 200 times as much money as I brought to the show doesn’t mean I can’t blog about it. I promise there’ll be affordable stuff mentioned down below as well.

First, we have a Dick Bates home jersey;  Bates entire Major League career consisted of pitching in one game on April 27th, 1969, hurling 1.2 innings in relief.

I had to play some games to get the above image to appear correctly;  for some reason I’d have an image that looked OK on my computer but got rotated 90 degrees when I uploaded it to WordPress.  I could not for the life of me figure out why this was happening, and I ended up getting around it by rotating the image the other direction on my computer and then uploading that image.  If anybody has any clue what the heck is going on with that, please leave a comment.

Getting back to the uniform, here’s an interesting detail you never see in baseball cards;  I never realized until this past weekend that flannels – or at least 1960’s flannels – had eyelets sewn into the armpits.

Looking for something more affordable?  How about this Seattle Pilots pennant for $90?  No?  OK, fair enough.  For some reason, the pennant company took the lower case “p” and “o” in the wordmark and made them larger, presumably to make it fit better on the pennant.  Looks a bit goofy, though.  I’m sure they would’ve sorted that out in 1970, if only they’d had the chance.

Here’s a John Morris road uniform… Morris pitched in 6 games for the Pilots, and also pitched for the Orioles, Phillies, Brewers (naturally) and Giants.  I love the combination of blue and yellow used in the Pilots (and early Brewers) uniforms, and I think that the yellow lettering on a powder blue uniform works nicely.  Maybe someday the Brewers or Mariners can revive something like this.

Here’s something that’s affordable:  A $40 pocket schedule for 1970, the season that got played in Milwaukee.  One would expect a second-year schedule to be more visually appealing than this, but perhaps that was emblematic of the financial struggles of the team at that stage.

Allright, enough of the bank-breaking stuff.  What did I get for myself?  Well, I completed my 1970 Pilots team set (the team set I had thought was complete until recently) by getting this card of a hatless Rich Rollins in a Twins jersey.  Rollins was an All-Star in 1962 as a Twins rookie, and he was an All-Star in BOTH All-Star games that year… I’d forgotten they used to play two games.  Good thing that doesn’t happen anymore.  I can just imagine the “Both of these count!” hype that would surround them.

Going into the show, I saw that there was a Seattle Pilots card in the 1969 Deckle Edge insert set, so I added that to my wantlist.  My reaction to this card is best if, when you read it,  you mentally hear a disappointed Homer Simpson voice:  “Ohhhhhh…. I wanted a Pilot!”  This is a disappointing card, but I bought it anyway.  Technically, it’s a Seattle Pilots card, even though the words “Seattle” and “Pilots” are nowhere to be found on the card, the uniform looks like it might be an airbrushed Dodger uniform, and it’s all in black and white.  But it’s from 1969, Tommy Davis was on the  Pilots in 1969 and all of his cards from 1969 are considered Pilots cards, so….

Much more fun than that (both for me and the original owner) is this 1970 Topps Scratch Off Game featuring Pilots first baseman Mike Hegan on the front.

The Scratch Off “cards” are really little gatefold cards;  here’s what a scratched-off card looks like on the inside

And here’s the “back”, complete with the final score that came from all the scratching.

…And the Pilots scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat California 6-5!  Woo-hoo!  Thats worth the $1 I spent right there.

National Wantlist, Part 7: Take Me To The Pilots

I’ve been a Seattle Pilots collector since I read Ball Four in high school.  The book got me interested in the team, and the idea of a “one and done” Major League team just intrigued the hell out of me.  I started off by collecting the Topps cards from 1969 and 1970, and I’ve been branching out to the oddball stuff since completing the team sets.

Among the vintage stuff I’m looking for is a 1970 Kellogg’s Don Mincher and a 1969 Deckle-Edge Tommy Davis, I’m also on the lookout for more recent stuff like the Pacific Legends cards or the 1983 Renata Galasso Seattle Pilots set.  I don’t know if anybody would  have anything like this, but I’m always on the lookout for a nice Pilots t-shirt.

One unexpected addition to my wantlist came as a result of discovering a feature of CheckOutMyCards.com.  Even though the card information they show doesn’t include the team name, you can search on “Seattle Pilots” and find everything which is tagged with that keyword.  When I did this, I saw an unfamiliar 1970 Topps cards and realized that my Pilots team sets are not as complete as I thought;  I need #652 – Rich Rollins.