Sunday, September 25, 2022

Another Commissioned Custom Card, Another Rock Legend

Rock music has been a big feature on the blog this year. We had Ann and Nancy Wilson custom cards. We had the Battle of the Bands tournament and related 8-card set. And now we've got another rock legend on a custom card.

It's the one and only Joe Perry of Aerosmith!
This time the client asked if I'd be able to use the 2006 Topps design, which wasn't a problem aside from the foil text on the card front. Thankfully, he was fine without the foil.

I always like using daytime photos for custom cards like these, and was happy to find an image of Mr. Perry rockin' in a big stadium on a sunny day. I matched the border colors with Perry's black shirt and red guitar.

And similar to the Ann and Nancy Wilson cards, the client wanted a custom card back as well. Here's what I came up with:

For some of the other rock n' roll custom cards, I've used gold/platinum records or top-40 songs for the stats. But since this card features just Joe Perry, and not the entire band, I wanted to come up with a more individual type of stat line. I thought "top guitar solos" might work well, and went through my Aerosmith collection to choose some rockin' Joe Perry solos. 
As for other card features, the team logo on the original cards was easily replaced by the Aerosmith logo, and I even found a suitable cartoon for the top left portion of the card.

And that's that. Another custom card in the books. I've been having a lot of fun creating these authentic-style card backs. Expect more of them to come.
Any Aerosmith fans out there? Favorite Joe Perry solos? Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading, as always!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Contest Winner!

This is my second blog post in a month that features modern cards. 
What's going on here?!?

Well, like many of you collectors, I occasionally enter a contest that's held by a fellow blogger, YouTuber, or collector. And recently I actually won one of those contests!
It was put on by Brent, who has a YouTube channel called Brent's Card Breaks. The only thing you had to do to enter the contest was to like the giveaway video, add a comment to the video, and subscribe to the channel. Easy enough.
Well, the date of the contest arrived, Brent spun the digital wheel with the names of all the entrants on it, and wouldn't you know it? "Nine Pockets" came up as the winner.
It was a generous prize package. Have a look at the team bags that recently arrived in my mailbox.

Modern baseball, '90s baseball, vintage baseball, and some random basketball cards added as a bonus.
Here are some of my favorites in the bunch.

Kelenic is trying to make his way back to the MLB. Detmers pitched a no-hitter in May of this year, but struggled with consistency and was sent to the minors in June. He's back with the big club now. As for Hayes, he's holding his own in Pittsburgh.

Here's a 2016 Topps Aaron Nola Rookie Debut card, a Jack Flaherty Bowman rookie from 2018, and a shiny 2021 Alec Bohm Panini Prizm Rookie Class card that didn't scan well.

And here we have autographs from two prospects. Agrazal pitched a number of games for the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2019, and is currently a minor-league free agent who last played with the Amarillo Sod Poodles (Double-A). Ottenbreit is playing Single-A ball with the Clearwater Threshers, and is currently injured. Let's hope both of those guys can get back on their horses soon! On the right is a fancy 2019 Chrome Black Refractor of Corbin Martin on the 1984 Topps design, serial numbered /199. Martin currently pitches for the Diamonbacks, and collected his first career hit in June.

Some nice vintage is up next, with a 1976 Topps victory leaders card, a smiling Jim Rice on the 1978 issue, and a Lee Smith Donruss rookie!

Jim Rice is a little more pensive here on his 1986 Fleer Star Sticker, Reggie is still swinging hard in 1987, and Frank Thomas is very happy on his 1990 Score rookie card, possibly because he knows how happy I am to have it in my collection.
All in all, a great prize. Big thanks to Brent at Brent's Card Breaks. If you enjoy watching wax packs being opened, especially those from the '80s and '90s, please do stop by his channel. 
And that raises a question: Do any of you readers and collectors watch trading card channels on YouTube? There are definitely some great content creators out there, including our good blogging buddy shoebox legends.
Share some of your favorite channels in the comment section, and thanks for reading as always!

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Esposito Brothers

Imagine this:
You and your brother Phil are growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontairo, in the 1950s.
Phil is developing into quite a hockey player. You're not so bad yourself, but don't have the shooting and scoring touch that Phil does. The rule when you shoot pucks for practice with him and some neighborhood friends? Whoever scores the fewest goals against the current kid playing goalie would have to be goalie next. And guess who would often end up being the goalie? 
But it helped you hone your skills. Phil, too. Fast-forward about a decade, to the 1963-64 season, and your older brother would be suiting up for his first NHL game. Around the same time, you'd be in goal and leading your NCAA Michigan Tech Huskies to the NCAA Championship. Just a couple of years later you'd be off to the Western Hockey League for your first professional experience, and in 1967, the Montreal Canadiens came calling, offering you a contract as a free agent.
Well, by this point older brother Phil had just been traded from the Chicago Black Hawks to the Boston Bruins, and he was really starting to light it up. During the 1968-69 season, his second with the Bruins, Phil put up 49 goals, 77 assists, and 126 points—all career highs to that point. He was named to the all-star team, and would take home the Hart trophy (most valuable player) and Art Ross trophy (top point scorer) at year's end.

Meanwhile, in Montreal, you were sitting behind Rogie Vachon and Gump Worsley on the goaltending chart. Tough to find some playing time there. You'd get into an occasional game for replacement duty, but that was it.
Then, as November turned to December, both Vachon and Worsley found themselves banged up. And on December 5th, you'd get your first NHL start.

Guess who you'd be facing?

Yep, the Boston Bruins. And your brother Phil. In Boston Garden.

Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire.
But it was an excellent game. The Bruins peppered you with 35 shots, and you stopped all but two of them. Your team put in two goals of their own, and the game ended in a 2–2 tie.
Guess who scored both goals against you?
Yep, your brother Phil. 
Mom was so mad at him.
You'd get a handful of starts over the remainder of the season, and that summer you'd be claimed by Phil's former team, the Black Hawks. That's where you really took off. In the 1969-70 season you'd play 63 games, chalk up 38 wins against just 17 losses, and post a 2.17 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. And here's the most remarkable number:
Of those 38 wins, 15 of them were shutouts. Fifteen! You'd be an all-star for the first time, and would win the Calder trophy (rookie of the year) and the Vezina trophy (best goaltender) at year's end. You almost took the Hart trophy as well, but finished second to Bobby Orr.

Here are the brothers just a couple of seasons later, when they were both household names across the North American continent.
1971-72 Topps #20 Phil Esposito and #110 Tony Esposito

For their exploits over the previous few seasons, both Tony and Phil were chosen to represent Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. Tony finished the series with the lowest goals-against average (3.25) of all goalies—and that means Canadian counterpart Ken Dryden and Soviet star Vladislav Tretiak. Brother Phil put up great numbers himself, leading the team in goals (7), assists (6), and points (13) across the 8 games.
How about that for two brothers?
Normally at this point we'd compare stats for both of them in a table. However, this time we've got a forward and a goalie, so we'll do one table for Phil, and a separate table for Tony.

PHIL ESPOSITO (career highs in bold)



(18 seasons)

(1970-71, Boston)





















TONY ESPOSITO (career highs in bold)



(16 seasons)

(1969-70, Chicago)






















Phil is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (1984), a 2x Cup winner, 8x All Star, 5x Art Ross trophy winner, 2x Hart trophy winner, and 2x Pearson trophy winner. He played for the Black Hawks, Bruins, and Rangers.

He had quite a 1969-70 playoff run to the Stanley Cup championship, leading the league in goals (13), assists (14), points (27), even-strength goals (9), and power-play goals (4). Here are his career playoff numbers, which are quite impressive: 130 GP, 61 G, 76 A, 137 PTS, 138 PIM, 22 PPG, 11 GWG

Tony is also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (1988). He was a Calder trophy winner, 5x All Star, and 3x Vezina trophy winner. Another noteworthy stat: Tony led the league in total shots against AND total saves five times in a seven-year span! (From 1974-75 to 1980-81) 
That's a lot of pucks to have fired in your direction.
Aside from that first season with Montreal, he played his entire career with the Black Hawks. He was also an early pioneer of the butterfly style of goaltending, which is still being used in various forms today. 
So here's to the Esposito brothers. Two absolutely astonishing careers, and a great brother vs. brother memory back in 1968.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Gary, Keith, and Ron on a Custom Card

Here are two true yet opposite statements:
Baseball games are incredibly entertaining.

Baseball games are excruciatingly boring.
Which of those statements you apply at any given time is a result of what happens on the field, of course, especially if you're one of the fortunate forty of fifty thousand people who happen to be in the stadium on game day.

But what about the millions of others watching on television?

Well, much of the entertainment—or boredom—is a direct result of how the broadcast team calls the game. And if you're a baseball fan, you're probably thinking of some examples on both ends of the spectrum right now. I know there are some broadcasters I sorely miss, while there are others whose play-by-play style makes me wonder how they've held their position for so long.

One current broadcast team on the positive end of the spectrum is based in Queens, New York, calling games for the New York Mets: Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling. (Also known as GKR.)
If you aren't familiar with the trio and their brand of commentary and humor, here's a video that you might enjoy:

Keith: Well I either gotta have the almond milk or the coconut milk, because it's non-dairy.
Gary: You have a lactose issue?
Keith: No, I do not. I just don't do dairy anymore unless it's a half-pint of ice cream...
Although I am a native New Yorker, I don't claim allegiance to the Mets or Yankees. But I will say that I enjoy the way Gary, Keith, and Ron call games. And recently a Mets fan named Josh (imccards on instagram) contacted me with a request to design a custom card featuring the trio. I told him I'd be up for it, and over the next few weeks we emailed back and forth, discussing and collaborating as I worked on the design. Here's the result:


I think the marquee style of the 1972 Topps design works very well for a TV broadcaster card. Additionally, one of the color combinations in the 1972 set was that same blue and orange, which works perfectly for the Mets.
The card back features a brief informational section for each member of the broadcast team, also done in similar style to the original 1972s. But note the "1a" designation at the end of the card number.

It's there because Josh had an idea to do a few short-printed parallels using some of the other color combinations from the 1972 Topps set. He asked if I could design a different card back for each short print, as well. Here's what I came up with:

First we've got the orange SP, hand-numbered /30. The card back features some information about the three stadiums the Mets have called home since their beginnings in 1962. I reversed the colors on the card back to help set the short prints apart from the base card. (Also, check out the center field depth at the Polo Grounds. Wow.)

Next on the scarcity scale is the green SP, hand-numbered /20. Fan favorite Mr. Met appears on the back. This one is my favorite of all the card backs.

And finally we've got the mint SP, scarcest of all, hand-numbered /10. The card back is done in the style of a vintage Mets advertisement sponsored by Rheingold Beer, which for quite a while was the official beer of the New York Mets.

The most exciting news, as you can see by the photos, is that these cards are not just digital. I've already had them printed out, and they're listed in my eBay store.

I wasn't sure how the short prints would do, but so far Mets fans and card collectors have responded favorably. Here's the rundown at the time of this writing:

Orange SP: 4 sold, 26 remaining
Green SP: 6 sold, 14 remaining
Mint SP: 3 sold, 7 remaining

Hopefully they continue to do well. Thus far, two collectors have even purchased the whole rainbow in one shot!

So here's to Gary, Keith, and Ron. May they continue to entertain Mets fans for years to come.

Now here are two questions for you:
(1) How do you feel about your favorite baseball team's current group of broadcasters? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
(2) If I were to create an all-time broadcaster version of this card, who would be on it? My first idea for the trio is Vin Scully, Mel Allen, and Harry Caray. But there are quite a few legends to choose from. Bob Uecker, Joe Garagiola, Phil Rizzuto, and Jack Buck are just some examples.

Share your answers in the comment section, and thanks as always for reading!