Sunday, April 25, 2021

The 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee Dating Game (Episode 16)

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.

The big winner of episode 15, in a close contest, was Joe Mullen.

Now, let's start the 16th round and introduce the bachelors chosen by the randomizer! [APPLAUSE]
Bachelor number 1: Defenseman from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jim Benning
Bachelor number 2: Right wing/Left wing from the Vancouver Canucks, Lars Molin
Bachelor number 3: Center/Right wing from the Calgary Flames, Jim Peplinski

We've got a battle of Canadian teams this week, folks! Let's find out more about these guys from the back of their cards.

Which guy wins this week's date with a nice young lady?

Bachelor number 1: Jim Benning, whose 111 assists in Portland a couple of years ago indicate that he's a generous, giving dude.

Bachelor number 2: Lars Molin, Swedish soccer player and wind surfer.

Bachelor number 3: Jim Peplinski, who cooks and is involved in the Big Brother Program.
PS: Next week's post will be on Saturday instead of Sunday, for a particular reason I can't divulge.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

A Custom Card that's Juuust a Bit Outside

Here's Sam McDowell, displaying a follow-through with purpose on his 1964 Topps card.

1964 Topps #391, Sam McDowell

His determined gaze and facial features remind me a little bit of an actor who happened to star in a couple of films about baseball. Any idea who I'm thinking of?

Here are some hints:

In those films, the actor was a pitcher just like Sam McDowell.

In those films, he pitched for the Cleveland Indians just like Sam McDowell.

Before he became a Major League pitcher (extra giveaway hint), he pitched in the California Penal League.

Enough hints? Okay, here's the custom card:

Rick Vaughn from the Major League films!

Interestingly, aside from whatever resemblance you might see in the two guys, Mr. Vaughn and Mr. McDowell are similar in other ways.

(1) Just like Rick Vaughn, Sam McDowell had a mean fastball. He led the A.L. in strikeouts five times in the span of six years (1965-1970). Three of those five times he led the entire majors, too.

(2) Just like Rick Vaughn, Sam McDowell had more than the usual trouble controlling his pitches. (In case you need a refresher on Vaughn's control issues, here's a short clip that'll do it for you. And here's another one.) McDowell led the A.L. in wild pitches three times, finishing his career with 140. He also led the majors in walks five times. And get this: Two of those five instances came during the same year he led the league in strikeouts! (1968: 283 strikeouts, 110 walks; 1970: 304 strikeouts, 131 walks)

(3) Both pitchers had good nicknames. Rick Vaughn was "Wild Thing" for fairly obvious reasons at this point, while Sam McDowell was "Sudden Sam" because his smooth windup and delivery produced a fastball that reached home plate before hitters expected it to.

(4) McDowell once matched Rick Vaughn in the temper department, becoming so frustrated with an umpire that he flung a baseball into the upper deck in Baltimore.

All of that aside, McDowell had a stellar career that I have somehow managed to overlook. Here are his numbers, accumulated across 15 seasons:

141 wins, 134 losses, 3.17 ERA, 2492.1 innings pitched, 2453 strikeouts, 103 complete games, 23 shutouts

He was a six-time all-star, topped 300 strikeouts in a season twice, and won the ERA title in 1965 with a snazzy 2.18. Well done!


There's no doubt some of you have already said, "You made an inaccurate card! Rick Vaughn is a right-handed pitcher!"

And you're correct, of course. 

To fix this issue, here's the right-handed version.

It does look better, doesn't it?


I like the design of the 1964 rookie stars cards. One of the Indians' examples features an outfielder and a pitcher.

1964 Topps #499, Salmon/Seyfried Rookie Stars

Those two guys made me think of a similar outfield/pitcher combination from the film, and inspired another custom card.

Major League hit theaters in 1989. And being that Rick Vaughn and Willie "Mays" Hayes were standout rookies on that Indians team, they'd have been placed on a rookie stars card, don't you think? I changed the year on the top to match.

I'm sure the card would have been a hot collectible in '89.

Any Major League fans out there? Do you have a favorite line or a favorite scene from the film? Share in the comment section. And thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Well-Traveled Envelope: Two Years Later

Two years ago this Sunday I started something called The Well-Traveled Envelope Challenge
The idea was that I'd send another blogger a bubble mailer filled with 20 or 30 cards they might enjoy for their collection, and then that blogger would re-use the same envelope (and packaging supplies, if possible) to send yet another blogger cards that they might need. Also included would be a slip of paper to keep running tabs on the bloggers who received the envelope and the places it would visit along the way. It looked like this:

After one year, things had gone decently well. The envelope had reached eight different bloggers, traveling across the country and even to Canada!
And what about now, at the two-year checkpoint?
Nothing. No updates. No idea where the envelope might be, or if it traveled anywhere at all during this past year.

I think we can probably assign a portion of the blame to COVID and the related hesitation many folks had to send things through the mail for a little while there. I'm also pretty sure that the novelty of the idea simply petered out after the first year.
But don't worry, we can salvage this blog post yet! How about this?
In the comment section, do at least one of the following:
  • List a few low-value cards you might need to complete a set
  • List a player or team you collect
  • If you have a want list, post a link to it
Maybe another commenter can make your day with a simple postage stamp and plain white envelope. And check the comments that other readers make. Maybe you can help them out, too. (Especially with card prices being as bonkers as they are right now.)
I'll start it off by listing a few cards that will get me closer to completing some sets:
1981 Fleer Baseball #419 Jesse Jefferson
1981-82 O-Pee-Chee Hockey #204 Anders Kallur

1986-87 Topps Hockey #186 Mark Messier
And here's a link to my want lists:

Got the idea? Okay, add a comment below and get a PWE ready. 
And if you happen to know where the Well-Traveled Envelope is, add a comment about that, too!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

1989 Topps Football: A Redesign

A couple of months ago I completed the 1989 Topps football set, and noted how the "tube sock" stripe design on the card borders is both fun and fitting for the era. See?

Since then I've looked a little more closely at that design element, and a couple of questions have come to mind.

(1) How did Topps decide on those color combinations for the stripes?

(2) Why didn't they just match the stripes to each team's official colors instead?

Well, the first thing I thought I'd do is count up all the different color combinations that Topps used. It turns out there were 11 different stripe patterns used throughout the set. Eleven.

Here they are.

(1) purple / orange / purple
(2) black / red / black
(3) red / yellow / green / yellow / red
(4) magenta / cyan / magenta
(5) orange / red / orange
(6) light blue / orange / light blue
(7) green / yellow / red / yellow / green
(8) red / yellow / light blue / yellow / red
(9) green / red / green
(10) red / light blue / purple / light blue / red
(11) light blue / yellow / red / yellow / light blue

You'll note that many of those combinations are quite different than any football team's colors. And that part of it I do understand. I mean, if you're going to assign color combinations randomly to cards in the set, it's better that the colors don't look like they're from a particular team. Think about how confusing and upsetting it would have been for a Packers fan if one of their player's cards ended up with Bears colors, or for a Jets fan if one of their player's cards ended up with Giants colors. 

That answers the first question. Now for the second question: matching the stripes to each team's official colors.

After giving it a little more thought, I think I understand why Topps didn't go that route. There were 28 teams in the NFL at that time, which would have meant 28 different designs to come up with.

Now that doesn't exactly seem like a daunting task. It's only three stripes per card. But I suppose coming up with 11 random stripe designs is still easier and quicker than 28. Maybe it was more efficient when it came to ink distribution, too. (And perhaps cheaper? I don't know.)

In any case, even if that does answer the second question, I couldn't just leave it there. I wanted to see what the cards would have looked like if the stripes did indeed match each team's colors.

For one example, have a look at David Little here.

Not a bad-looking card of the big, hulking linebacker by any means. But look at him after the redesign.

The black and gold stripes make him look even more menacing, don't you think?

And here's veteran receiver Steve Largent in those classy Seahawks uniforms.

After the redesign?

Classier still.

And those two samples turned out well enough for me to want to run the full gamut. So here's one card for each of the 28 NFL teams, in alphabetical order by city. I tried to choose images that had a true, classic "football card" look to them. Hopefully I did your favorite team justice.



I think my favorites at the moment include Denver, Green Bay, Minnesota, and Philadelphia.


Similar to the Fleer baseball sets of the era, the cards in the 1989 Topps football set are arranged by team. To get the full effect of the stripes, I thought I'd mock up a couple of nine-pocket pages.

First, here's a page of Pittsburgh Steelers with their original (and random) stripes.

And now here they are featuring the matching team colors.

Same thing for the Broncos. Here's the original page.

And the redesign.

What are your thoughts? Would this set have been more appealing back in 1989 if Topps had color-matched the stripes to each team? Or were the random stripes kind of fun and fitting for the decade? Maybe both can be true.

Let me know in the comment section. And thanks for reading, as always.