The Guy Before The Guy #3: Guys Who Wore 41 And 51

Before Tom Seaver wore #41 for the Mets…

…That number was worn by left-hander Gordie Richardson.
1966 Topps Gordon Richardson
Aside from pitching in three seasons with the Cardinals and Mets, Gordie Richardson also pitched in two 1964 World Series games against the Yankees, a series that the Cardinals would win in 7 games. (I debated on whether I should mention Richardson’s 40.50 World Series ERA, or the fact that he gave up a grand slam to Joe Pepitone).

Other Mets players to have worn #41 include former Dodger Clem Labine (3 games in 1962), Grover Powell (1963), Dennis Musgraves and Jim Bethke (both 1965).


As hard as it may be to believe, before future HOFer Ichiro wore #51 for the Mariners…
2002 Topps Total Ichiro

…that number was worn by HOFer Randy Johnson!
1992 Stadium Club Randy Johnson

I started this post a while ago, and while I was double-checking my research as a step towards publishing, I realized that the last guy to wear #51 before Randy Johnson was a guy I’d included in Monday’s post:  Rey Quinones!

51 must have had some sort of personal significance for Quinones, because he also wore that number with the Red Sox and in a brief stint with the Pirates.

As it turns out, there were only four players to wear #51 for the Mariners, so I figured I may as well scan the forth guy… Bill Wilkinson.

One of the more interesting things about Bill Wilkinson is that he’s from Wyoming, and there aren’t many Wyomingans(?) in MLB history.  16, to be exact.  The most notable ones are Tom Browning, John Buck, Mike Devereaux, Dick Ellsworth, Mike Lansing and Dan Spillner.  Fun fact:  6 of the 16 Major Leaguers from Wyoming were born in Cheyenne.

Getting back to #51… If Wikipedia is to be trusted, no coaches or managers ever wore #51, so these four players are all of the 51’s in Mariner history… And I’d have to think that this will never change.  Ichiro is a sure-fire HOFer, so even if the Mariners never officially retire #51 (which I doubt), they’d probably never give out a number worn by two HOFers who established themselves in Seattle.

Working On A Puzzle

I recently moved two steps forward to completing my 1972 Topps New York Mets team set… Check out these two cards from the tough 6th Series…

First we have Hall-Of-Famer Rod Carew In Action…
1972 Topps Rod Carew IA

Then we have “good field, no hit” catcher and manager-to-be Pat Corrales.
1972 Topps Pat Corrales IA

I’ve been chasing down affordable copies of these cards for two years, and it’s a relief that I’m so close to finishing this ridiculously large Mets team set after all this—

What’s that?

No, no, I’m fine. I appreciate your concern for my mental health, but I do not need to get to a nearby urgent care facility.  Rod Carew and Pat Corrales most definitely belong in my Mets team set.

The reason why they belong has to do with what Topps refers to as “PUZZLE D”.

First I’ll show you the back of the Carew card, to give you the idea…
1972 Topps Rod Carew IA Seaver back

…and then Corrales.
1972 Topps Pat Corrales IA Seaver back
See?  “PUZZLE D” features Tom Seaver, and I’m including the puzzle as part of my Mets team set.  …So please put down the phone, you don’t need to call 911.

Here’s where my puzzle currently stands:
1972 Topps Puzzle D (Tom Seaver) Nov 2015
Once I pick up the remaining two puzzle pieces, I’ll be finally, FINALLY done with this 53-card (by my definition) team set.  Between the upcoming COMC Black Friday promotion, and a card show I plan on attending in December, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to show you the complete puzzle by the end of the year.

Remnants Of A Failed Post Idea: TV Markets Which Are Bigger Than Milwaukee & Cincinnati

I had this idea for a post… I started researching it, found that the facts didn’t support my premise and that was the end of that.

…But some of the facts I found along the way were interesting, so I figured I’d share them anyway.

The basis of everything in this post comes from the list of TV Markets for the 2014/15 season, as defined by Nielsen Media Research – the people who track TV ratings.  They break the entire country into Direct Market Areas (DMA’s), and those DMA’s are ranked by the number of “TV Homes” in that designated market.

Please note that the figures I’m throwing at you apply only to the United States.  I’m sure the results would differ if I could only find the correlating Canadian numbers.

Milwaukee (#35) and Cincinnati (#36) are the two smallest TV markets in the Majors… no big surprise there.

1972 Topps Dave Bristol

What was surprising was that there are eleven TV markets which are larger than Milwaukee and Cincy and do not have Major League baseball… Some of them don’t even have a team above A-ball.

Orlando/Daytona Beach/Melbourne is the 18th largest TV market in the U.S. and the largest U.S. TV market without a Major League team.  Orlando does not have a team at all, but there are a couple of Florida State League teams within that DMA, most notably Daytona and Melbourne .

Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto (#20), Charlotte (#24), Raleigh/Durham (#25), Indianapolis (#27), Nashville (#29), Columbus, OH (#32) and Salt Lake City (#34) have AAA teams.

Hartford/New Haven (#30) and San Antonio (#33) have AA teams.

There isn’t an affiliated team in the city of Portland, OR (#23), but the Hillsboro Hops of the short-season Northwest League play in a Portland suburb.

If you wanted to add teams to the New York market in order to “dilute” the number of TV homes per team down to Cincy levels (876,000 TV Homes per team), you’d have to add six more teams to the Mets and Yankees.  Similarly, you’d have to add 4 teams to Los Angeles and 2 teams to Chicago.

1981 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

And completely unrelated to what I’d been researching, but it’s always my favorite bit of trivia when it comes to DMA’s… The five smallest television markets in the United States are:
Helena, Montana (27,850 TV homes);  Juneau, Alaska (25,480);  Alpena, Michigan (16,580);  North Platte, Nebraska (14,830)… and at the very bottom, with 4,330 TV homes, four-thousandths of one percent of the US TV market… Give it up for Glendive, Montana!

Let’s Face It, I’m Tired

I’m worn out.

Shlabotnik Peanuts sigh

I sit down to write a new post, and the energy just isn’t there.

It’s nothing specific to blogging or collecting, I’ve just got a lot going on and it’s worn me out.

1975-76 Topps Jean Ratelle

1975-76 Topps Jean Ratelle

Soldiering through it hasn’t gotten me far, so I’ve decided to go on autopilot for a little while.

The good news: I’ll be posting on a daily basis for a while.

The bad news: I’ll be saying very little in each post, just posting images – mostly of recent acquisitions.

1975 Hostess Tom Seaver

1975 Hostess Tom Seaver

So, to sum up: I need a break. Look at the cards!

1972 Topps MVP Award

1972 Topps MVP Award

I’m Not Up For Anything More Involved Than “Here Are Four Mets Cards”

The Holiday Ramp-Up is hitting me hard this morning.

As I write this, I’d really like to go to bed and get another hour or two of sleep. After a week liberally sprinkled with holiday pot luck meals, my body is asking me “Do you think that today you could NOT start each meal with dessert? And would it kill you to eat a fresh vegetable or two? Maybe a piece of fruit?”

The point of all this is that I’m not up for anything that requires thought, research or even a theme…  So today you get four Mets cards I acquired over the past… few… uhhhhhrrrrrrrrrmmmm… I don’t know how far back they go.  They’re Mets.  They’re new to me.  Good enough.

One can never go wrong with 1970’s Kellogg’s, even if the subject (Cleon Jones) is pretty blurry.
1970 Kellogg's Cleon Jones
I always forget with Kellogg’s cards that I have to point out which “Jones” it is, because the cards don’t give you a first name… Well, other than the fake autograph.

If I were to do a post of “Hobby Regrets”, up near the top would be from late in 1984 when I thought “There’s a Fleer Update set this year? Eh, I’ll get that later…”

This 84F Tom Seaver is not from that set, but 1984 Fleer cards always bring the update to mind.
1984 Fleer Tom Seaver
For those of you who aren’t shaking your head over my 30-year-old foolishness, the set was printed in very-low-for-the-1980’s quantities, features rookie cards of Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden (among others) and is under enough demand that key cards have been counterfeited.

I got this 2011 Chrome Jason Bay because the photo used is different than the one on the conventional Topps Jason Bay card.
2011 Topps Chrome Jason Bay

This 1982 Topps Ellis Valentine came from “The Unholy Mess” I featured earlier this week.
1982 Topps Ellis Valentine
I wish I felt as good as Ellis apparently feels here.

I Went To COMC For Some TOMC …ver

I never set out to buy up a bunch of Tom Sever cards when I was doing my Black Friday shopping, but it sure ended up that way. I guess that there were just good deals to be found on Tom Terrific.

It mainly started with knocking some cards off my Kellogg’s want lists, including the infamous two-dimensional set of 1973.
1973 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

…The patriotic 1976 set…
1976 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

…and 1980. I don’t mind the Reds uniform or the lack of a fake pitching pose, it’s still Seaver.
1980 Kelloggs Tom Seaver

I later turned my attention to those cards in the 1980 Burger King Pitch, Hit And Run set which had a different photo than the regular Topps card. Just so happened that one of my needs was Tom Seaver.
1980 Burger King Tom Seaver

Back in 1984, I think I bought one pack of 1984 Donruss and my reaction was something along the lines of “Meh”.  Lately I’ve been appreciating that set much  more than I did 30 years ago.

I went to see if there were any interesting 84D cards to be had and – Oh, look! Tom Seaver!
1984 Donruss Tom Seaver

2002 Topps Super Teams is a set that I always feel like I should make more of an effort on, especially since both the 1969 Mets and 1986 Mets were considered to be “Super Teams”. I only have a handful of these, but I added this one to the group.
2002 Topps Super Teams Tom Seaver
Between the black armband and longer hair, I’m thinking this photo is actually from 1976.

Finally, I was looking for cheap cards to fill out my 2005 Topps Rookie Cup collection. This set has been growing on me despite the design. I just like the photos. I got an Ozzie Smith (which I’ll feature later) and – What are the odds? – Tom Seaver.
2005 Topps Rookie Cup Tom Seaver
If they had used the full photos without cropping the background and used a more appealing design, I would’ve been seeking out each and every card in this set instead of looking for particular players or cheap cards.

I still have another 40 or 50 Black Friday cards to share, so you’ll be seeing more of this in the next couple of weeks.

Take Two Mets And Call Me In The Morning

At the beginning of the week I was talking to my friend Frieda, who’s a Braves fan. Forgetting who was playing who after the wild card games, I said that the only matchup that could result in my rooting for the Braves was if they’d played the Dodgers. As a kid in the 1970’s I took a general dislike to the Dodgers, and I’ve never completely let that go.

Frieda said, “The Braves do play the Dodgers on Thursday, so are you going to root for the Braves?”

The rivalry hasn’t been much over the past 5 years, the Braves aren’t AMERICA’S TEAM! anymore, and Chipper’s gone, so I grudgingly said I would try… although I’d still be rooting for the winner to get no further than the NLDS.

So I happened to have the beginning of the game on last night. The foam tomahawks came out, the extremely obnoxious chanting started, and that was as much as I could take. Sorry, Frieda.

So my more realistic assessment of the series is that I hope it’s a high-scoring, extra-innings 5-game affair that will leave the winner worn out for the NLCS.

…and I feel a strong need to cleanse the palate…

1976 Topps Tom Seaver RB

1995 Donruss Top Of The Order Todd Hundley

…Aaaaah, that’s better.

Because That’s The Way These Things Go

I’ve had 5 packs of 2013 Topps Series 2 sitting around for a couple of weeks, and last night I got around to opening them… Well, actually my wife opened them. Mrs. Shlabotnik doesn’t collect, but she loves baseball and she enjoys opening packs and looking through the cards, especially when there’s a chance of pulling Brian Roberts, her favorite player.

So, did she pull any Brians? Nope.

Did she, in 5 packs, pull anybody at all from her favorite team, the Orioles? Nope.

But she did pull three inserts from my team!

2013 Topps Making Their Mark Ike Davis

2013 Topps Chasing History David Wright

2013 Topps Cut To The Chase Tom Seaver

A pretty good haul for 5 packs. Maybe the powers that be were making it up to me for the fact that, as we were opening these packs, the Mets were being no-hit through 6 innings and would eventually lose a 1-hitter by the score of 9-0. Oh, and they were mathematically eliminated from the NL East division title.

…and although he didn’t participate in the Nationals’ drubbing of the Mets, I also got this Steve Lombardozzi card which got me cautiously excited…
2013 Topps Green Sparkly Steve Lombardozzi
I wasn’t sure if a celebration card like this always meant short printed variation… And a sparkly green short print variation? Maybe I could get a couple of bucks for it on COMC?

Ah, but it’s not a variation, it’s just the regular Lombo card’s green parallel. It’s still going to COMC, I just won’t be financing any 1972 high-numbers with it.

The MASN reporter with the microphone is Kristina Akra, who’s now with the MLB Network.  If you do an Image Google on “Kristina Akra Lombardozzi” you can see a picture or two of this incident.  The Gatorade shower came on 4/16/12 after Lombardozzi went 4 for 5 with a double and 2 RBI in saving a 6-3 win for Stephen Strasburg.

…and no, it wasn’t another Nats win over the Mets, although that would’ve been fitting.

One of you Nats fans or Kristina Akra fans out there should get this card autographed by Kristina… it seems like it’d be a fun addition to one’s collection.

Oversized Load: 1984 Donruss Champions

1984 Donruss Champions Keith HernandezIn recent weeks, I’ve been featuring cards from the oversized Donruss Action All-Star sets of the early 1980’s. Today I’m going to highlight a little side trip Donruss made in 1984, the 1984 Donruss Champions set.

This set, which is the same 3.5″ x 5″ size as the Action All-Stars, featured a subset of “Grand Champions” painted by Dick Perez. The “Grand Champions” were Hall of Famers who held either a season or career record in certain statistical categories. The remainder of the 60 card set was made up of current players who were supposedly in a chase to surpass that “Grand Champion”.

Chase… chase… where have I heard that recently?

I decided to go ahead and share all the Mets cards from the set. There were a good number of Mets in the set, probably because of the number of older players with healthy numbers. Keith Hernandez, at 30, was the “kid” of the bunch.

Tom Seaver was no longer a Met by the time this set came out; he’d been drafted by the White Sox in the free agent compensation draft in place at the time.
1984 Donruss Champions Tom Seaver

Dave Kingman was also gone in 1984; he signed with the A’s as a free agent.
1984 Donruss Champions Dave Kingman

George Foster was with the Mets and manning left field in Shea.
1984 Donruss Champions George Foster

Rusty Staub was also with the Mets in 1984, but in a part-time role. His games and plate appearances are nearly identical.
1984 Donruss Champions Rusty Staub

These cards were sold in cello packs of 5 cards with the legally obligatory Donruss puzzle pieces, this time picturing Duke Snider.

Oversized Load: Mets from Donruss Action All-Stars, Part 1

As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer oversized cards to minis. While they can be a little awkward to handle and store, I like big cards because the photos are bigger and you can see more detail… and they’re just cool.

BTW, this is the second post in a series covering oversized Mets card…. You can see the first post here.

In 1983, Donruss introduced “Action All-Stars”, an oversized (3.5″ x 5″) 60 card set that came in cello packs of six cards along with pieces of a Mickey Mantle puzzle.  The complete set of puzzle pieces is worth more than the base set, but neither one is going to put your kid through college… or even buy a latte at the college’s student center.

1983 Donruss Action All-Stars John Stearns
Here’s the very, very Donruss back of the card.  Nobody bought these cards for the back.
1983 Donruss Action All-Stars Stearns Back
Come to think of it, nobody bought these cards at all… well, other than me.

For those of you wondering just who John Stearns was, he was the Mets starting catcher in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, and a four-time All-Star.

Mookie Wilson was the other Met featured in the 1983 set.


For 1984, Donruss switched to a vertical format and moved the portrait to the back of the card.  These packs came with a Ted Williams puzzle, and certain online sources say that this is the toughest Donruss puzzle ever (Mantle be damned).  I’m not sure why anybody even cares, it’s like arguing whether the Gremlin or the Pacer was the greatest car ever produced by AMC.

1984 packs sold for 35 cents, up from 30 cents the prior year — a 16.67% increase!  Cue the video clip of some 19th century upper-class British guys muttering “Shame!  Shame!”
1984 Donruss Action All-Star Tom Seaver
Here’s the back, where they oddly refer to Mr. Seaver by his given first name.  Sharp-eyed young enthusiasts will notice that the photo background on the back of the 1984 cards is the same as the background from the front of the 1983 cards.
1984 Donruss Action All-Star Seaver back

The other Met in this set is Keith Hernandez.

Donruss had another oversized set in 1984, Donruss Champions… But I’ll save that for another day.