Sunday, June 30, 2019

Personalized Back-of-Card Cartoon

If you enjoy the cartoons on the back of vintage baseball cards, then it's possible you've thought about what your personal cartoon would depict.

I know what mine would be, and recently I had some time to scan through a bunch of vintage cards in an effort to find one that at least partially matched.

Well, I found one. It took a bit of editing, adding, and removing of text in Photoshop, but here's the finished custom card back:

The cartoon fielder and words "triple play" were from the back of Luis Aparicio's 1973 Topps card. The rest of the text I had to cull from a few other cards in the set.

And I really did complete an unassisted triple play in Little League. Here's how it happened:

Back then I loved to play the middle infield and third base positions. However, I loved to pitch even more. And in this particular game, I was pitching. Bases were loaded, and I wheeled in a pitch that produced a high pop-up just to the right of the mound. Yelling "I got it!", I sidestepped over as the ball began to drift toward third. It continued to drift, so I backpedaled and moved closer and closer to the third baseman, a classmate who at this point had heard my call and kindly moved into foul territory. By the time I caught the ball (out #1), I was just a stride from the third base bag. I expected to nearly bump into the baserunner there, but he'd mistakenly broken for home before I caught the ball. So, I quickly stepped on third (out #2). Then I heard their coaches yelling "No! Get back to second!" Incredulous, I looked toward second base, and the runner who'd been on second was sprinting straight toward me. As he slid into third, I crouched down, baseball still in glove, and tapped him on the foot before he touched the base (out #3).

Now, of course this unassisted triple play was mostly the result of very, very poor base running, combined with a third baseman who allowed me to track the pop-up all the way over to his position (probably should have been his glory, not mine). But it was a triple play nonetheless, and I still remember walking back to our team's bench on the third base side, my coaches noogie-ing my head and slapping me on the back while they laughed and cheered.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee Dating Game (Episode 4)

Welcome back to The 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee Dating Game, where we'll randomly select three eligible bachelors from the set and you, the reader, will choose which one wins that date with a special lady. How do we know they're bachelors? Why, it says so right on the back of their hockey cards, that's how!

Previous episodes are available here.

Water-skier Mark Messier was the winner of episode 3. Now, let's start the 4th round and introduce the bachelors chosen by the randomizer! [APPLAUSE]

Bachelor number 1: Defenseman from the Montreal Canadiens, Rick Green
Bachelor number 2: Center from the New York Rangers, Ron Duguay
Bachelor number 3: Left Wing from the New Jersey Devils, Aaron Broten

Let's find out more about them from the back of their cards.

Well, maybe it was all the lights and T.V. cameras, but for the first time all three of our bachelors were too quiet to share any of their hobbies. A choice must still be made, however, so I'll help them out by providing some information. Who will it be?

Bachelor number 1: Rick Green, new Montreal Canadien with a pretty nice mustache? 

Bachelor number 2: Ron Duguay, who's known to live it up at Studio 54 in Manhattan? (Also known for his perm. Check that thing out.)

Bachelor number 3: Good Minnesota boy Aaron Broten, who's so humble that he doesn't even have a nameplate on his jersey, look.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Modern for Vintage

A few months ago I saw a local craigslist offer for two shoeboxes filled with Bowman baseball cards, the years of which ranged from 1997 to 2015. There were about 1,200 cards in all. Stacks of Regular Bowman, Bowman Chrome, Bowman Gold, Bowman Hometown, Bowman Top Prospects, Bowman Chrome Prospects, Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects, Bowman Top 100 Prospects . . .


I haven't collected Bowman cards since I was a middle-schooler (circa 1991), and clearly times have changed. But the seller's location was easy to get to and his asking price was difficult to pass up, so I decided to venture into unknown card-collecting territory. I figured if nothing else, maybe I'd be able to trade the cards for something that's more in my wheelhouse, such as vintage cards or set-collecting needs.

So, I contacted the seller and we arranged a time to meet. The transaction was easy, and soon I was back home, flipping through the cards. 

The first big stack I picked up consisted of the same card over and overa pitcher who, after I looked him up, had spent the past four years bouncing around in the minors, with a few MLB innings pitched here and there. 

Swing and a miss.

Next, I opened a separate 100-count plastic case. It was filled with dozens of copies of another card featuring another player who hadn't made much waves over the past few years, and who didn't exactly appear to be zooming up the minor-league ladder. 

Two swings, two misses, and I began to wonder what I'd gotten myself into.

But the images in the original listing featured some good rookies and household names, and thankfully, as I kept flipping through the loose cards, I saw that there was quite a bit of star power and variety among the collection. There were even some refractors and other fancy inserts. Best of all, most of the cards had already been sorted by year and by number. (Yeesh, the numbering/lettering system of Bowman cards...)

Still, I didn't know much about the brand's popularity or staying power from season to season. Unsure if I'd be stuck with the cards for a week or a year (or more), the first thing I did was to enter each one into the Trading Card Database and post a "for sale/trade" thread on a couple of trading card sites. To my delight, within 24 hours the offers began coming in, and soon I was setting up a handful of trades.

Now from what I've read on other trading card blogs, there seems to be a prevailing thought when it comes to the way today's collectors go about collecting. They're team collectors and individual player collectors more than they are complete set collectors. That's because it can be near-impossible to complete an entire set of modern cards if you include the hundreds of short prints, super-short prints, parallels, variations, deliberate error cards, serial-numbered cards, and other inserts that are issued these days. 

Conversely, if you're a player collector there's a tremendous amount of variation for each player, and you can choose only the cards you want for your personal collection. Similarly, if you're a team collector, completing your team set—even with some short prints, parallels, and inserts—is much more feasible than completing the overall set, which will include dozens and dozens (if not hundreds) more of them.

Well, if my first few Bowman trades are any indication, the prevailing thought holds water. Five of the first seven trades involved collectors who were interested in cards from one specific team. The other two collectors asked for prospects and stars from various teams and years.

As a whole, I think all seven trades have worked out well. I've sent more than 200 Bowmans out the door, and in return I've picked up some great vintage cards and set needs. Here's a brief summary of each trade, saving the best for last.

Note that none of these traders are fellow bloggers, so I'm going to keep their names private and just refer to them by trade number.

Trade #1: For about 20 Bowmans (mostly mid-career cards of stars like Griffey, Chipper, Yelich, Goldschmidt, Kershaw) I received a small stack of 1970s commons and semi-stars, plus these:

Two needs for my 1978 Topps set build (which is now complete)

Same two players from the 1977 set

1962 Dick Donovan and 1957 Willie Jones

Trade #2: For about 25 Bowmans (all Blue Jays stars and prospects like Carlos Delgado, Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Edwin Encarnacion) I received:

1973-74 O-Pee-Chee Goal Leaders (Phil Esposito / Rick MacLeish)

  Two Mike Bossy League Leader cards from the 1981-82 O-Pee-Chee set

The Trottier second-year card is the highlight among these three.

Trade #3: For 4 Bowman Gold cards (all Royals—Moustakas, Hosmer, Butler, Perez) I received:

1972 Topps Harmon Killebrew and a card for my 1980 Topps set build

Trade #4: For about 40 Bowmans (mostly cards of Astros like Altuve, Verlander, Beltran, Berkman, Pettitte), I received:

A near-complete set of 1987 Topps Kay-Bee Superstars of Baseball (25 of 33)

1985 Topps Traded Vince Coleman and 1983 Topps Traded Keith Hernandez

1976 Crane Potato Chips Greg Luzinski (had to show the back, too)

 1974 Topps Greg Luzinski

 Rough condition, but it's still a 1963 Topps Rocky Colavito

Trade #5: For about 50 Bowmans (all Yankees stars and prospects like Robinson Cano, Masahiro Tanaka, Tyler Austin, Dante Bichette Jr.) I received:

Almost 50 cards from the 1988 Topps Mini UK set, which I'm getting much
closer to completing thanks to this trade. (Here's just a sampling.)

Trade #6: For about 25 Bowmans (all Braves prospects and stars like Martin Prado, Julio Teheran, Andrelton Simmons, B.J. Upton) I received:

$8.00 payment, which covers more than half of what I paid for the Bowmans.

Trade #7: For about 50 Bowmans (various stars, prospects, and top-100s like Dylan Bundy, Joc Pederson, Xander Bogaerts, Miguel Sano) I received:

1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. RC

 1987 Jiffy Pop Series Fernando Valenzuela and Jack Morris

1985 Fleer Ryne Sandberg, 1984 Topps Andre Dawson (All-Star), and 1984 Topps Cal Ripken

And this:

1965 Topps Billy Williams

And this! 

1962 Topps Ernie Banks

As someone who's not into modern cards, I almost feel like I've gotten away with something here. But different types of card collectors like different types of cards, of course, and that's what's so great about trading. The cards you send out might not have much meaning or significance to you, but for the person on the receiving end, those same cards might be huge acquisitions.

Speaking of which, there's an update: An eighth trade happened while this post was sitting behind a couple of other posts in my blogger queue. A collector looked through my Bowman list and asked me if I'd consider sending him all the remaining cards (about 1,000 total). He mentioned he'd be willing to (1) make a trade or (2) work on a sale price that we both felt would be fair. 

After looking through the cards he had available, I decided on a trade. So I packed the remaining Bowmans (prospects, stars, no-names, busts, and all) into a medium flat-rate box, sent them out, and a week or so later I received these cards in return:

1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr. and 1970 Topps RBI Leaders McCovey/Santo/Perez

1961 Topps Willie McCovey

 1959 Topps Milwaukee Braves Team Card

1959 Topps Ernie Banks NL MVP

And so, a big box of unwanted Bowman cards is no longer taking up space in my house, and eight collectors (nine including me) are pretty happy.

Was it worth it, though? 

Difficult question to answer.

Sure, I landed some great vintage cards, including the first graded cards I've ever owned. But it also took quite a bit of time to enter 1,200 Bowman cards into a database, arrange the trades, pull the specific cards for each one, and mail them out. 

I guess the question is, does the excitement of the treasure hunt outweigh that effort?

What do you think? Have you done these sorts of things before? Was it worth the effort? 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. And thanks for reading! 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Making Pitchers Nervous

Have a look at the information printed on these card backs from the 1987 Kay Bee Superstars of Baseball set.

Vince has become the first player in history with 100 stolen bases in each
of his first 2 seasons. He set rookie record with 110 during 1985 in 135 attempts.

Set mark with 130 stolen bases in 1982.

Tim has become the first player in major league history
to record 70 or more stolen bases 6 consecutive seasons.

I sure wish managers would give their players the green light a little more often these days. Baseball needs to be fun. Pitchers need to be nervous with runners on base again.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A Dapper Custom

A few months ago I came across a vintage Topps card whose subject bore a strong resemblance to George Costanza, and I couldn't help but make a custom card of good ol' Georgie boy.

Well, recently a similar thing happened with another card whose subject bears resemblance to another actor. Here's the original card:

1960 Topps #447, Ray Moore

The spiffy hair, the face, the faded look of the photograph. Does it all remind you of an actor? And further, a specific role the actor played? Here are some hints from that role:

He doesn't want Fop. He's a Dapper Dan man.

He's a member of the Soggy Bottom Boys.

Oh, and something about a roll-top desk.

Give up?

Here's the answer:

Okay, it's not the uncanny resemblance of George Costanza to Clint Courtney, but I think you can see the connection here.

To tweak the card, I added new red and yellow color bars, found a similar font and a period-correct Cincinnati Reds logo, and replaced the images of Ray Moore with images of George Clooney. 

The main image is from, you guessed it, O Brother, Where Art Thou? I tried to wash it out a little bit in order to better capture the feel of a 1960 Topps card. The left-hand image shows George Clooney, appropriately enough, wearing a baseball glove and about to catch a fly ball. I removed the color and background, and also made it a little more grainy and newspaper-ishagain to make it more authentic to the original card.

And why the Cincinnati Reds, you ask? Well, there's a good reason. It turns out Mr. Clooney was a terrific high school baseball player. So talented, in fact, that he attended a tryout with the very same Cincinnati Reds in 1977. Word is he could field all day long and hit the fastball, but much like Pedro Cerrano, he just couldn't hit the curve.

Back to the card: None of the Cincinnati players in the 1960 Topps set are featured on a card with the same red/yellow color bar combination, but to stay true to the Ray Moore card (and for comparison purposes), I've kept the colors the same.

Now, I'm thinking Mr. Clooney might not appreciate the fact that I simply plunked his head on top of Ray Moore's body as I did here, so I thought I'd work on a second custom card.

And because the main image was taken from O Brother, Where Art Thou?, I decided to change the subject from baseball to something the film is well known for: 


I think George might like this one better:

In the film, his character's full name is Ulysses Everett McGill, but that just didn't fit on the card. So I went with Everett McGill.

The black and yellow color bars do match some cards in the 1960 Topps baseball set, and I think it's a pretty sharp combination for this card. And while making these 1960 customs, I realized that Topps used some ingenuity with the font for the player names. To make sure the player's last name always aligned on the right-hand edge of the card along with the player's position, Topps would adjust the kerning (the space between each letter) when needed. Just take a look at Ray Moore's name up there, for example. The font size is a little bigger than the Clooney card because Ray's name has fewer letters. But the gaps between each letter are definitely wider, too. If not, the "E" in "Moore" wouldn't have lined up directly above the "R" in "pitcher". Pretty good solution by Topps, and I used the same technique here for the customs. I don't think it would have worked for any random year and font, but for 1960 Topps it does.

So, another custom done. Actually, another two customs done. Hope you like how they turned out.

Thanks for reading, as always.