Ya Get What Ya Get: Well-coiffed Men Named Basil And Other Athletes

During my COMC shopping spree late last year, I cast my net far and wide looking for unusual cards, and I think this one fits the bill.
1972 OPC CFL Basil Bark
This is a 1972 O-Pee-Chee CFL card of Calgary Stampeder Basil Bark.

Does a guy named Basil Bark make you think of football?

Does a friendly-looking guy with styled hair make you think of football?

No offense to Basil, but he looks more like a member of The Moody Blues than he looks like a football player.  (Full disclosure:  I love the Moodies… well, I love the “This Is The Moody Blues”-era Moodies).
1972 OPC CFL Basil Bark back
As the back of Basil’s card states, he was a two-time All-Star when he was with the Montreal Alouettes.

Moving on to more conventional areas of cardboardary, let’s check out this 1981 Kellogg’s Tug McGraw.
1981 Kelllogg's Tug McGraw
I never had any Kellogg’s cards in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but I’ve been making up for lost time. For a while I was just picking up certain teams and players, then I was also picking up cheap cards from any year. The more Kellogg’s I get, the more I realize that my feelings towards these cards vary greatly from year to year. I love 1970, and I’m thinking of attempting to complete the 1976 set.  Then there are cards like this where they went overboard with the border.  Less is more, guys, less is more.  Either way, I’m still going to pick up cards of guys like Tug.

I’m thinking that anyone out there is going to fall into one of four categories with this next card.
2012 Topps Finest Tsuyoshi Wada
Fans of NPB view it as an American rookie card of an outstanding Japanese pitcher.

Fans of the Cubs might say “Hey, it’s that guy who got called up from Iowa after Hammel and Samardzija got traded away! He was with the O’s?” (Note: I’m very pleased with myself because I spelled “Samardzija” correctly off the top of my head).

Fans of the Orioles will see the guy who signed a 2-year, $8M contract, pitched one game with AAA Norfolk before undergoing Tommy John surgery, and never pitched an inning in an Orioles uniform.

Everybody else will likely say “Yeah, whatever, what’s the next card?”

A former co-worker once told me about how he used to watch the Senators in the early 1970’s and enjoyed watching Bosman pitch.
1970 Topps Dick Bosman
He was a very good pitcher with generally bad teams. In 1969 he lead the AL with a 2.19 ERA, and in 1974 (while with Cleveland) he no-hit the soon-to-be-World-Champions A’s. In 1970 he went 16-12 for a team that lost 90 games. He’s also the second cousin of Duane Kuiper.

Just a little tangent before I go… I was looking at the transaction listings on Bosman’s baseball-reference.com page, and I saw that the Indians traded him and Jim Perry to the A’s for John “Blue Moon” Odom. After a couple of beats, I suddenly asked “Wait, Blue Moon Odom was on the Indians???” And the answer is “Yes… for a couple of weeks”. He made two relief appearances, pitched a 2-hit shutout of the Royals, and then was traded to the Braves. Odom’s final cardboard appearance came as a Brave in the 1976 set.

This discovery came the day after I found out that Rollie Fingers was with the Cardinals… for several days in December, 1980. The Cards got him from the Padres, got Bruce Sutter from the Cubs, and the Brewers said “Hey, you don’t really need two closers, do you…?” Just goes to show that you never know what you’ll find when you start digging into this stuff.

The Unfortunate Boomer And Other Hostess Airbrushings

In a post last week I was singing the praises of the airbrushing job done on this 1977 O-Pee-Chee card:
1977 OPC George Scott

Yesterday I was poking through my folders of scans and I ran across the “What could’ve been” example in my Hostess folder.  As good as the airbrushing on that OPC was, that’s how… um… not good the airbrushing on this 1977 Hostess was:

1977 Hostess George Scott

Same year, same traded player, very different results.

…And if you were wondering why I’m featuring this card now instead of a few days ago when I featured the OPC card, I’ll just say “That’s part of the stream-of-consciousnness fun you get with The Shlabotnik Report!”

….Which sounds better than “I’m somewhat disorganized and always writing posts at the last minute!”

To continue the theme of “Airbrushings one might not include in one’s portfolio”, let’s move on to this 1975 Tug McGraw.  The logo isn’t bad, but the perspective is wrong, the shade of red is wrong, the lack of pinstripes is wrong…

1975 Hostess Tug McGraw

The Mets traded Tug to the Phillies in December, 1974 for… you know what, we’re not going to talk about that right now… (Full disclosure:  I’m a Mets fan)

Continuing with 1975, here’s another one where the logo seems to “float” over the cap…

1975 Hostess Bobby Murcer

As an up-and-coming young player, Murcer had been touted as the “Next Mickey Mantle”, and while he was a fine player, nobody should be labeled as the “Next” anybody.  The Yankees traded Murcer to the Giants for Bobby Bonds in October, 1974.

On this 1978 Hostess card, Bruce Bochte has the look of a man who knows his uniform is going to be poorly airbrushed…

1978 Hostess Bruce Bochte

No trades were involved this time, Bochte had signed with the Mariners as a free agent.

1976 SSPC #457 – Tug McGraw (Phillies)

1976 SSPC #457 Tug McGraw

Tug McGraw… was a relief pitcher for the Mets and Phillies, and a fan favorite wherever he went.  If you had to pick two things he’s best known for, I’d go with his rallying cry of “Ya Gotta Believe!” with the 1973 NL Champion Mets, and for striking out Willie Wilson to win the 1980 World Series for the Phillies.

In 1976, Tug McGraw… was one third of what would today be called a “Bullpen by committee”.  He may not have been THE closer, but he was certainly A closer.  He also had a rough postseason as the Phillies got swept by the Reds in the NLCS;  Tug pitched in two games and gave up 3 runs and 4 hits in 2.1 innings.

I’ll tell you, looking at the Phillies’ reliever stats from 1976 really underlines how the game has changed in the last 30-40 years.   The 1976 Phillies had three pitchers with 10-or-more saves:  Ron Reed (14), Tug McGraw (11) and Gene Garber (11).  Even though Reed had the most saves, McGraw & Garber finished more games than he did.  Not only that, but Ron Reed actually started 4 games that year.

This card is… the first 1976 SSPC Phillies card I’m sharing on this blog;  I didn’t get any Phillies in my original SSPC haul, and I now own two Phillies that I got on Black Friday.

Shea-o-meter:  You can’t see much of the background, but one can see enough to know it’s Shea.
Shea:  29
Pretty sure it’s Shea:  6
Can’t tell:  6
Not Shea:  5

Sad To Say… Today is the 10th anniversary of Tug losing his battle against brain cancer;  he passed away on January 5th, 2004.

1976 SSPC #457 Tug McGraw back

Mets Monday: 1973 Tug McGraw; Thoughts on the Binghamton Mets situation

There’s all kinds of goofy going on with this card… subtly goofy, but goofy nonetheless. There’s your typical Spring Training stuff… a windbreaker worn under the jersey, Tug posing in front of some trees which could just as easily be your local town park with the handball court just out of frame.
Two other things I noticed; first off, as if it isn’t obvious enough, Tug and the world around him are tilted at an angle. This is kind of funny given how many cards in the 1970’s were cropped so that the player is more-or-less upright but the background is at some crazy angle.
The other thing I noticed is that the Tug’s glove says HAMMER on it in big letters, so he apparently borrowed John Milner’s glove for the photo shoot.
This card is a semi-recent acquisition (i.e. within the past year); I’m 13 cards away from completing the set, but naturally one of those 13 is the Schmidt/Cey/Hilton rookie.  I’ve always liked the 1973 set, even though the design is far from inspired. I guess maybe because it’s the set from the year before I started collecting, so it’s something that’s almost-but-not-quite part of my childhood.


As long as it’s Mets Monday, I’d just like to throw my two cents in on the situation with the Binghamton Mets.  The very abbreviated version of this story is that an Ottawa newspaper has reported that a group has bought the B-Mets and will move them to Ottawa for 2013.

There’s been gnashing of teeth from certain parts of the Mets fanbase, so let me make this clear:  If this story is true, then the accurate statement would be that a group has purchased the Eastern League franchise in Binghamton, which currently has an affiliation with the Mets.  That affiliation expires after the season, so I would bet a stack of “Golden Greats” inserts that the Mets’ AA team will not be in Ottawa next year, but in some other AA city.

From a strictly geographical standpoint – and there’s a lot more that goes into making an affiliation desirable, but I’ll focus on the “where” part for now – the Mets’ best-case scenario might be the New Britain Rock Cats, located near Hartford, CT.  It doesn’t look like there will be any other available teams in what could be considered “Mets Territory”.  Trenton is signed with the Yankees through 2014; the second-closest available option is Harrisburg, PA.  This is all assuming that the Mets would be able to pick and chose from the available teams, which wouldn’t likely be the case.  Being a pessimistic Mets fan, I’ll also point out that if the Mets lose this game of musical chairs, they could end up with a AA team in the Texas League… and then Ottawa wouldn’t seem like such a bad option.

Mets Monday: 2002 American Pie Tug McGraw

Does anybody else remember Scroogie, the comic strip that Tug McGraw created with Mike Witte  the Seventies?  It only lasted a couple of years… it’s sheer conjecture on my part, but maybe Tug’s trade to the Phillies had something to do with the end of the strip.  The strip was nationally syndicated, but if Mike Witte was in New York and Tug was in Philadelphia, maybe it became more trouble than it was worth.  Dunno, just a guess.

I tried to find information on the strip, but couldn’t find much beyond a couple of used mass-market paperbacks on Amazon and a mention in the Tug McGraw entry on Wikipedia.

Switching topics, I was surprised to see American Pie cards in my local Target the other day;  I had no clue they were bringing it back.  I thought about buying a pack or two to see what it was like, but when I found out it’s a completely non-sports set, I held off.  It’s not like I need more unwanted cards lying about my house.

…even if I could’ve made a blog posting out of it…