Contrast And Compare: More 1977 O-Pee-Chee And Topps Baseball

1977 was one of the few times where Topps’ Canadian partner O-Pee-Chee attempted to build upon the Topps baseball set. This was likely due to the excitement over having two Canadian teams for the first time, as 1977 was the first year for the Toronto Blue Jays.

This first card I’m featuring is an example of Topps getting screwed by the roster shuffling of expansion teams.

Shortly after the end of the 1976 season, the Blue Jays purchased several players from the Padres, including Catcher/3rd Baseman Dave Roberts (not to be confused with 1970’s pitcher Dave Roberts).
1977 Topps Dave Roberts
Dave Roberts was the first-overall draft pick in 1972, and like Dave Winfield the following year, Roberts went straight to San Diego. He played 100 games as a rookie and made the Topps Rookie All-Star team. Roberts had some success in 1973, struggled in 1974, spent much of 1975 and all of 1976 in the minors, and it was during that time that the Padres decided to convert him to a catcher.

But then in February, 1977 the Jays traded Roberts back to the Padres for pitcher Jerry Johnson. Topps’ airbrush artists said “Son of a —-” and O-Pee-Chee said “Where are the Roberts photos that haven’t been airbrushed?”
1977 OPC Dave Roberts
Roberts would play one more season with the Padres before being involved in a five-player trade that would send him to to Texas.

Wayne Garrett was acquired from the Mets in July, 1976 and Topps used a photo of Wayne taken in Shea that August or September.
1977 Topps Wayne Garrett

O-Pee-Chee figured they could do better by their Canadian teams, so they got a more current photo taken during Spring Training in home whites.
1977 OPC Wayne Garrett
With the Mets, Garrett was a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets, and also the 1973 NL Champion Mets. Wayne lasted exactly two years with the Expos; they acquired him on 7/21/76 and sold him to the Cardinals on 7/21/78. He would finish out the season in St. Louis and then spend two seasons in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons.

“Hot Stove”: Catchers In Cars Getting Coffee

Even though I’m not a huge “Holiday Person”, I’ve still been very busy the past week or two. Everything’s been conspiring to keep me from things I really should be doing, like cleaning up the garage, organizing that file cabinet drawer, fixing leaky faucets…

…and most egregiously, making customs! I haven’t made one in nearly two weeks! *GASP*!!!!!

Fortunately for everybody involved, I had a couple in reserve, including one that features this winter’s first big splash, Russell Martin signing with the Blue Jays. Martin got a write-in vote or two when I ran a “Who should I do next?” poll, and if anyone was wondering why he wasn’t in the poll in the first place, it’s because I’d already created this custom, I just hadn’t published it.
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #9 Russell Martin
For some reason, I always forget that Russell Martin is Canadian and his going to Toronto is a homecoming of sorts.

I made the Hot Stove Martin about a month ago, and the fact that it was something of a pain to accomplish is the only thing keeping me from re-doing this one. I’m not happy with the way the background “sells” the 3-D, and there’s a mistake on here that seems glaring to me, but I might have to point out to anybody else.

“Hey, everybody! Check out this custom I made but don’t like!”

As compensation for my kvetching, I’ll feature another custom, one that could be regarded as an “insert” to this set.

A while ago I ran across an image of Jerry Seinfeld wearing a Mets jersey, and I filed it away knowing that I’d use it at some point.

Today, that point has come.
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #7 Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld is a huge Mets fan and seems like the kind of guy that any baseball fan would like to hang out with at a game, so it seems appropriate to put him on a baseball card, even just a virtual one.

And with that, The Shlabotnik Report brings 2014 to a close. I’d like to wish everybody a happy and healthy year in 2015!

What 1970’s Caps, Jerseys Or Logos Would You Revive?

I’ve got this theory about baseball uniforms.

More so than other sports, over the past 10-20 years, baseball uniforms have gotten more “traditional”, and I put “traditional” in quotes because tradition often means whatever you grew up with… Just like the best year there ever was for music was whatever year it was when you were twelve.

A lot of the current bunch of owners grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, and when they think of what a baseball uniform should look like, that era is what they go to.

If I’m right about this, then it won’t be long before another group of owners come in, owners who grew up in the 1970’s, the decade of polyknits and powder blue road unis and elastic waistbands.

Throwing back to the Seventies may not be an entirely bad thing.  Baseball uniforms have gotten overly conservative in color and design, and it might be time to bring back a little “Seventies” in the same way that the current Blue Jays uniforms are updates of their original 1977 unis.

1978 Topps Rick Cerone

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to run through some of the 1970’s hats, jerseys, or logos that I’d like to see brought back, even if just as an alternate.

…and don’t worry, I won’t suggest anything to do with these leisure suit monstrosities:

1978 Topps Kevin Bell

I’ve so much disdain for those White Sox uniforms that I didn’t even go back and correct the scan.

…But here is what I would like to see…

The red Red Sox cap (1975 – 1978)

I’ve never been a fan of the Red Sox, but I’ve always liked the 1970’s red and navy cap.  I liked the cap so much in my younger days that I even owned one… and looking back on that, wearing a Red Sox cap on Long Island may not have been one of my better ideas… not that anyone ever gave me grief over it, but still…

1976 Topps Cecil Cooper

By the way, the Red Sox have tweaked their road jerseys for 2014, and the lettering will be basically the same what Cecil Cooper is wearing — something I see as a definite improvement.

The angular Cleveland Indians cap logo (1973 – 1977)

I’m going to suggest this Cleveland Indians cap logo as an improvement not because it’s an inspired design, but simply because it’s the best Indians cap logo from the past 50 years… at least it is to me, but it’s what they wore the first four years I followed baseball, so I’m biased.

1976 Topps Buddy Bell

From a purely visual standpoint, it may not be as good as Chief Wahoo, but even if you take the stance that naming a team “Indians” is meant to honor Native Americans, you can’t say the same about Chief Wahoo.  Chief Wahoo is just flat-out mean spirited, and I wouldn’t suggest that as an option.

the Brewers’ Yellow Panel Road Cap (1974 – 1977)

What the Brewers have now… it’s  not bad, but it’s… I don’t know.  It leaves me cold.  If you’re going to be blue and gold, be BLUE and GOLD.  I like the yellow-panel cap, and I’m partial to the the “typeface M” cap, but I know the “M-B Glove” logo is popular and would definitely be an improvement over what they have now.

1978 Topps Charlie Moore

The Tigers’ road Jersey (1972 – 1993)

Road jerseys that have solid navy or black lettering with no trim to offset the darkness are just “blah”…  Too “Dark Knight”.  I want to see something else.  Hell, even the Yankees have white trim to offset the navy, and that makes it “pop” a little bit.  The Tigers could do a lot worse than going with something like this:

1977 Topps Ben Oglivie

I won’t ask for the road cap as well…  It’s not bad, but the standard Tigers cap is a classic you don’t mess with.


I was going to gather together some Padres caps and jerseys that I like, but I quickly realized that it would probably be a post of its own.  I’ll summarize my take on the Padres uniforms in two words:



“Fauxback” alternates I’d like to see:  The Nationals wearing pseudo-Expo uniforms

Honorable Mention:  I know the Nats downplay their Montreal roots, but how cool would it be if they did Expos throwbacks, complete with tri-color cap?  They could swap the curly W for the Expos logo, but go with everything else.

1976 Topps Larry Parrish

WhICH uniform elements from the 1970’s would you like to see teams bring back?

Do you think I’m totally off-base on these?  Would you rather see the Astros’ “rainbow” jerseys or the return of powder-blue road jerseys?

…or would you leave the Seventies dead and buried?

Los Hansons De Mi Madre

I’ve spent pretty much my whole life on the East Coast, and while I’ve been on vacations out west, in many ways the Pacific Coast may as well be another country… I mean, I’ve never been to a Shakey’s Pizza, I don’t listen to radio stations whose call letters start with “K”, and I consider an omelette with ham, peppers and onions to be a “Western Omelette”, not a “Denver Omelette”.

One other aspect of West Coast living that’s long been hidden from me is Mother’s Cookies cards. Not only do we not have Mother’s Cookies where I am, but the cards are seldom seen at card shows. Because of that, they’ve acquired a certain mystique among those collectors who refer to themselves as “Joe Shlabotnik” and write blogs about baseball cards.

During a semi-recent COMC shopping event — one which has a name I’ve grown tired of typing, so I’ll call it “Viernes Negro” — I managed to pick up not one, not two but THREE Mother’s Cookies cards of Shlabotnik Report favorite Erik Hanson.

Erik’s from New Jersey, and he don’t eat no Denver Omelettes.

Here’s the 1989 Mother’s Cookies card…
1989 Mother's Cookies Mariners Erik Hanson

…and the 1992…
1992 Mother's Cookies Mariners Erik Hanson

…and the 1993… With the 5 o’clock shadow, the darker uniform and the night photography, I consider this to be the “Dark Knight” of Erik Hanson cards.
1993 Mother's Cookies Mariners Erik Hanson

Special Bonus Feature! For a limited time only, you can see the 1996 Leaf Signature Series Erik Hanson I got!
1996 Leaf Signature Series Erik Hanson
That’s one thing that’s nice about collecting non-star players… Affordable sigs! I got this baby for less than a buck. Suck it, Jeter fans!

I promise to get back to something with more universal appeal tomorrow… Hopefully I’ll be able to find a pack of 2014 Topps and be one of the 1,828 bloggers writing about that subject.

No Goals Here, Just Some 1977 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

I tried goals in the early days of The Shlabotnik Report. It kinda sorta helped at first, but once I got past that initial hump and my collection shifted from an ungodly mess to a merely ugly mess, the goals didn’t seem as relevant.

What are my current goals?  Knock cards off my wantlist and have fun.

How did 2013 go for me?  I knocked some cards off my wantlist and I had fun.

Some of the cards I knocked off my wantlist were 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball cards. For those who aren’t familiar with the significance of 1977 in the annals of O-Pee-Chee-dom, it was the year the Blue Jays entered the American League, and it was the year that O-Pee-Chee decided to make some significant changes on the Topps set that they had previously copied pretty faithfully.

There are a lot of variations in how much OPC varied from Topps; some guys who shared a Topps rookie card with 3 other guys got their own OPC card. Some guys got updated into new uniforms, or got real photos in a new uniform rather than airbrushing. Other guys had their replica autograph shifted 3 millimeters to the right, or lost their “All-Star” designation. I’m only collecting the cards that have a different photo or a significantly altered photo (usually airbrushing or lack thereof).

Here are a few of my latest and greatest, with the been-in-my-collection-since-the-Seventies Topps counterparts included.

Blue Jays’ manager Roy Hartsfield is one of the guys who gets to stretch out in his own card, rather than sharing it with 4 of his coaches.
1977 OPC Roy Hartsfield

Here’s the Topps Blue Jays team card:
1977 Topps Hartsfield and Coaches

The 4 coaches also got their own card in 1977 OPC, but I don’t have that one yet.

Gary Woods was one of the lucky rookies who was given his own card by OPC.  Gary was drafted from Oakland in the expansion draft.
1977 OPC Gary Woods

Here’s the Rookie Outfielders card that Gary Woods was condemned to in 1977 Topps:
1977 Topps Rookie Outfielders Armas et al

Tony Armas and Steve Kemp had longer careers than did Gary Woods, yet they don’t get liberated from Rookie Purgatory;  sucks to be them, they should’ve played for the Blue Jays.

Jesse Jefferson was a member of the Blue Jays’ first starting rotation. While he lost 17 games in 1977, he was fortunate to not even have the most losses on his team. The Jays lost 107 games that first year, so there were plenty of losses to go around.
1977 OPC Jesse Jefferson

The OPC card is a distinct improvement over the airbrushed Topps card.
1977 Topps Jesse Jefferson
Until I pulled this card out so I could scan it, I’d completely forgotten that someone had taken a ballpoint pen and poked little holes in Jesse’s eyes, nostrils and mouth.  I promise you, it wasn’t me who did that.  I normally don’t bother upgrading the cards I’ve had since I was a kid, but I think I should make an exception in this case.

The Expos’ Jerry White got a new photo for no apparent reason… The OPC card showcases a lovely 1976 Montreal Olympics patch on his sleeve.
1977 OPC Jerry White

Here’s the Topps version…. Both are similar Spring Training photos, but apparently OPC felt he should be pictured batting from the left.
1977 Topps Jerry White

These weren’t the only 1977 O-Pee-Chee cards I’d picked up in 2013, but the rest can wait for another day.

Happy 2014, everybody!

Saved From The Purge: More Early 1990’s Upper Deck

I’ve been purging most of the Upper Deck cards from my collection, and what follows are cards that were spared my wrath, even though they wouldn’t normally fit in my collection.

I saved this one because I liked the fairly unusual angle of this action shot.
1991 Upper Deck Carlos Martinez
Two trivial facts about Carlos Martinez:
1) He hit the home run in 1993 that bounced off of Jose Canseco’s head
2) He is the first of three Major Leaguers named Carlos Martinez. Number 3 is currently in the Cardinals bullpen.

1991 Upper Deck Scott Ruskin Back

As long as I’m dishing out the trivia, Scott Ruskin started out as a 1B/OF in the Pirates system, and switched over to pitching in 1989, the year before his MLB debut.

She’s got legs, she knows how to use ’em…
1992 Upper Deck Jack Morris back
…and sensible shoes and an early ’90’s jacket…

For some reason, I really enjoy “Being interviewed on ESPN” shots. I might have to make a theme out of that.

Jack Morris lead the American League in wild pitches three straight years and five overall.

At various points he also lead the AL in less-interesting categories like wins, strikeouts, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched…

My Customs Are So “Old School” That Even My Quality Control is “Old School”

There’s a weird part of my brain that kinda misses miscut cards… You really haven’t seen anything like that in the last 10 years, and it’s sort of a shame.

Sort of.
2013 TSR #175 - Jose Reyes miscut

Truth is, I just felt like making a miscut custom, and as long as I’m making one I figured I’d use it to feature one of the players I collect… Well, I would collect his Mets cards even if only because he was a Met, but I really enjoy watching him play even if it’s on another team in another league and in another country.  At least I don’t have to see him in a Marlins uniform anymore.

Koji Uehara is another guy who falls into the “Guy who used to be on one of my teams but I still like him after he’s gone”. I really wish the O’s had picked him up after he became a free agent, but I guess I’ll have to remain satisfied that they got Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter for Koji. I’m glad he’s doing well, and I’ll continue to root for him, as long as it doesn’t adversely affect the Mets or Orioles.

2013 TSR #708 - Koji Uehara

I don’t really know much about Adam Ottavino, but he earned a little bit of my appreciation when I found out his uniform number is zero. There’s something about a player who’s willing to wear zero that just appeals to me…

2013 TSR #699 - Adam Ottavino

…well, for the most part. I was disappointed when Brian Wilson started wearing double-zero, because I’m really sick of The Beard, not to mention the guy attached to it.

More Backs Of 1993 Leaf Cards

Over the past week or two I’ve been focusing my purging/organizing efforts on my Leaf cards. In the process, I found more 1993 Leaf cards, and I’ve got a better idea of where I stand with my new goal of collecting one of each cityscape found on the backs of the cards. We’ve got 4 more cities today…


1993 Leaf back Greg Hibbard


I’ve been to Toronto, so I know this is City Hall.
1993 Leaf back Juan Guzman


1993 Leaf back Cal Eldred


This is part of the National Aquarium in Baltimore… Doesn’t look like an aquarium, does it? If you’re in Baltimore, the Aquarium is definitely worth checking out. If you’re going to check it out, it’s definitely worth buying tickets in advance, even if it’s just a matter of buying tickets for later in the day… The wait can get pretty long on weekends.
1993 Leaf back Glenn Davis

It’s Like Two Syndergaards When All You Needed Was One

It’s like meeting Kathy Griffin instead of Olivia Munn
…and isn’t it ironic?
Don’tcha think????
2010 Bowman DP&P Prospects Noah Syndergaard
Nah, it’s really not ironic… but that song is what popped in my head when I sat down to write this.

I made a fairly large (88 card) COMC order back in March, and it seems like whenever I go COMC shopping I always end up inadvertently buying something twice… but up until now I caught it before shipment and put the duplicate card up for sale again. I guess at this point I’ll just hope that Syndergaard pans out for the Mets and a few years down the road I can make a profit on my mistakenly-purchased card.

For those who aren’t Mets fans, Noah Syndergaard is one of the prospects the Mets got from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade. He’s pitching at Hi-A Port St. Lucie this year, so he’s not going to be helping the Mets anytime soon.

During the COMC “Spring Cleaning” promotion, I tried to build an instant Syndergaard collection; here’s the 2012 Pro Debut card I picked up.
2012 Topps Pro Debut Noah Syndergaard

1990 Topps Magazine Cards And A Familiar-Looking Image

Earlier this week I was idly sorting through a box of oversized “I don’t know how to properly store this” stuff, and I ran across my Topps Magazine cards, still in sheet form but long since divorced from the magazines they came in.

I think I subscribed to the first 4 issues of Topps Magazine, but decided that it wasn’t exciting enough for me to re-up… Despite the inclusion of special cards which manage the difficult feat of being uglier than the 1990 Topps design.
1990 Topps Magazine TM9 - 12

While I was looking at this particular set of cards, I couldn’t help but notice that the Jim Palmer photo looked familiar…
1990 Topps Magazine TM13 - 16
…and that’s when I realized it might be from the same photo shoot as this past Sunday’s Hostess Card Of The Week:
1979 Hostess Jim Palmer
Although the Topps Magazine card is a bit washed out, both photos were taken in Yankee Stadium on a partly sunny day, both have the Brut cologne ad on the left, and in both photos Jim Palmer’s hair has an unintended flip on his right.

I don’t have a real point to this, other than “Heyyyyyyyy, lookathis!”  Having two similar Jim Palmer photos in the same week was nothing I’d planned, I’m nowhere near that organized… it’s just a serendipitous occurrence (and 25 cents goes in the “Big Word” jar).

Getting back to the 1990 Topps Magazine cards, these are pretty much what you’d expect from 1990 baseball cards.  On the first half of the sheet, we’ve got four ubiquitous-for-1990 faces in Bo (Overhyped 2-sport player) Jackson, Nolan Ryan (who had just reached 5000 K’s), Will “The Thrill” Clark and Robin Yount, the AL MVP of the previous season.

The second half of the sheet features the two 1990 Hall Of Fame inductees in Joe Morgan and Jim Palmer, as well as two players who’d been drafted in 1989 and made their Major League debuts that September.  Ben McDonald was the first overall draft pick, and went on to have a decent career with the Orioles and Brewers.

John Olerud played for 17 years for a number of teams and had a couple of exceptional seasons where he batted .363 and .354.  He’s also notable in that he’s one of those players who went straight to the Major Leagues without making any minor league stops.  In fact, he didn’t play in the minors until he did a brief stint with AAA Pawtucket at the end of his career, in what seems to have been an audition for the Red Sox.

Olerud’s card is interesting in that it lists him as both a first baseman and a pitcher, even though I can’t find any evidence of him having pitched in the pros… although he did pitch in college