Sunday, July 30, 2023

Babych Brothers

A couple of years ago, I added the Turgeon brothers to this "Siblings on Cards" series. One of the fascinating things I discovered about the Turgeons is that they're the highest drafted brother combination in NHL history. Sylvain was the 2nd overall pick of the Hartford Whalers in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, while younger brother Pierre was the 1st overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.
But did you know that a few years earlier, another two brothers came awfully close to those numbers? Guess who they were.

Wayne Babych was drafted 3rd overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft.
Dave Babych was drafted 2nd overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft.
Yeah. I would never have guessed that, either. In fact, although I was familiar with the name Dave Babych, I can't say that his brother Wayne Babych was anything other than a name on a hockey card that I might have glanced at while flipping through 1980s commons here and there.
Let's right that wrong, first with some cards.

1981-82 O-Pee-Chee #290 Wayne Babych and #358 Dave Babych


Wayne and Dave are looking good there, and why not? Both brothers were having standout seasons around that time.

Let's first talk a little more about right winger Wayne. Baseball was his favorite sport growing up, and he must have been a very solid player, because along with the pro hockey offers he received, there were also five Major League Baseball teams interested in his services. Five! 
Wayne chose pro hockey, though, and it was a pretty good decision. As a teenager, he was selected to play for team Canada in the 1978 U20 World Championship. The following year he represented his country with the big boys in the 1979 World Championship. That was also his first season in the NHL, and he made folks take notice, finishing third in Calder voting (rookie of the year) behind winner Bobby Smith and second-place finisher Ryan Walter.
In his best NHL season, 1980-81, Wayne received some Selke trophy votes (awarded to the best defensive forward). He also represented the Campbell Conference in the All-Star game that year, recording 1 goal. (No wonder, as he'd finish the season with 54!) Across his career, Wayne suited up for St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Quebec, and Hartford. To this day, he, Brett Hull, and Brendan Shanahan are the only Blues players to have recorded 50 goals in a season.
As for little brother and defenseman Dave, he had much longer career. He also represented Team Canada like older brother Wayne, but in the 1981 and 1989 World Championships. His solid play throughout the early '80s earned him an All-Star appearance in both 1983 and 1984, and guess what? He matched his brother's All-Star feat, scoring a goal in each game! A couple of years later he even received some Norris trophy consideration (awarded to the best defenseman). However, it's difficult to win that trophy with guys like Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, and Rod Langway around. Across his career Dave played for Winnipeg, Hartford, Vancouver, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, and was a fan favorite wherever he went.

Let's look at some specific numbers now.




(9 seasons)

(19 seasons)





















(Career highs in bold)



(1980-81, St. Louis)

(1981-82, Winnipeg)























All bold numbers for Wayne there. Talk about a season for the ages!
Interestingly, both brothers played for the WHL's Portland Winter Hawks for a couple of years as teenagers, and they were on the same squad in 1977-78. (Dave was 16 years old and played 6 games; Wayne was 19, about to head to the NHL, and played 68 games). Both brothers also played together for the Whalers for a brief period in 1985-86. Dave was traded from Winnipeg to Hartford in November of 1985. Two months later, Wayne was traded from Quebec to Hartford. I'm sure they've got a few stories from that time.
So let's give some well-deserved recognition to the Babych brothers. Two impressive careers, and I'm happy to have learned a bit more about both players.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

What if There Actually Were a Hall of Very Good?

Well, it's Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown—the time of year when discussions about the greats of baseball are everywhere. Who should be in the Hall, but isn't yet? Who's in the Hall, but maybe shouldn't be? Who's right on the edge, but probably won't make it in?
Folks often place those players who are outside of the bubble in the fictitious "Hall of Very Good". It's a nice way of saying that a player had a tremendous career, while also acknowledging that they weren't quite the best of the best.
But what if there actually were a Hall of Very Good? 
Don't think it could happen? Well, we live in a ridiculous era of participation trophies. If the pendulum swings a little farther in that ridiculous direction, who's to say that a committee won't eventually be assembled to lobby for the creation of an actual Hall of Very Good?

And while we're at it, why don't we also drop it down another notch and create a Hall of Good? 
And a step below that, a Hall of Not So Bad? 
And then a step below that, a Hall of Eh, That Guy Wasn't So Good, but He Played in the Majors, So There's That?
Below you'll find descriptions of each of these make-believe Halls, along with potential building locations and a few of my selections for enshrinement. Read through the descriptions, and feel free to add some of the players you'd choose for each Hall in the comment section at the end of the post.
Hall of Very Good
Site: Lake Tahoe, California 

Guys who make it into the Hall of Very Good were really, really talented ballplayers. Northern California gives them a fitting place to chill out and bask in their excellence. Depending on your perspective on the matter, there could be at least 50 or so players in this hall, so we'd give them a nice, intimate building with some big windows so they can take in the view of the lake. Because a few of them might eventually make the trip across the country to Cooperstown, they'll be given a digital plaque that can be used to create a physical version in the future. Players can also contribute a couple of personal items, like a game-used bat or jersey that hasn't already been cut up to use on relic cards. 
Potential Candidates: Dave Parker, Don Mattingly, Keith Hernandez.
Hall of Good
Site: Dubois, Wyoming 

These guys were super-talented as well, just maybe a step below the Hall of Very Good. They've likely put up a bunch of hits, home runs, and RBIs. If not the power numbers, then they were notable in other ways. Perhaps they made a few All-Star teams, accumulated some Gold Gloves or Silver Sluggers, or were known to be near the top of the league in certain offensive or defensive categories for a season or two. Postseason heroics might also get you in here. (e.g., Kirk Gibson in '84 and '88) And because there are probably a few hundred players who'd qualify for this Hall, they get a big, sprawling ranch in Wyoming to kick back and enjoy the mountain scenery. Plenty of extra acres would be reserved for new ranches to be added to the complex as more players are inducted. Each inductee will be represented by a replica jersey and a glossy color photo.  
Potential Candidates: George Foster, Darrell Evans, Shawn Green.

Hall of Not So Bad
Site: Mall of America, Minnesota

There are thousands of players who fit this bill, so we're going to need some space. And with baseball being the national pastime, what better place to be than the Mall of America? A representative employed by Major League Baseball will rent out a storefront with lots of shelving space, and each inductee will have a small binder placed on one of those shelves—in alphabetical order by last name for easy fan accesswhich contains some of their baseball cards. Fans pay a simple $5.00 timed admission fee, and have 30 minutes to flip through the binders. Proceeds go toward rent and utilities for the mall storefront, and to the cost of purchasing binders and 9-pocket pages for new inductees. 
Potential Candidates: Spike Owen, Leon Durham, Candy Maldonado.

Hall of Eh, That Guy Wasn't So Good, but He Played in the Majors, So There's That
Site: Storage facility in Hoboken, New Jersey

I mean, it's sort of close to Cooperstown. Got to throw these guys a bone of some kind, right? 
There's got to be more than 10,000 players who fit this category, so each inductee will be represented by his final MLB card in a top loader so you can see his career stats. (If the player did not receive an MLB trading card during his career, a printout from will be provided in a separate binder.) The card will be stored in a monster box with all the other player cards, again in alphabetical order. Each player will be required to pay a $1.00 annual fee to help cover the cost of the storage unit plus administration fees.
Potential Candidates: Ross Jones, Brick Smith, Erik Johnson

So there you have it. A place to commemorate every player who's ever reached the majors.
Who are some players you'd vote into each Hall? I look forward to your answers.

I'm sure all of you baseball enthusiasts and collectors out there understand that this blog post was satire. However, if the wrong folks read this, and if they're consequently inspired to create an actual Hall of Very Good one day—or any of the other Halls—I just want you to know that I accept full responsibility and will take all the blame you'd like to pile on.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Bo Knows Card Art

Have a look at these two Bo Jackson cards:

If you're wondering whether Donruss released some special variations back in the 1980s that you missed out on—or more likely, whether Panini issued some inserts a few years ago to celebrate the good ol' Donruss brand of yesteryear—who could blame you?
But you'd be wrong. 
Although Donruss did have separate sets in the '80s like The Rookies and Opening Day, which gave you card borders that were different from the borders on the flagship sets, that's not the answer here. And they're not Panini cards, either. 
So where did these come from? And what are they?

Well, if you look a bit closer, you'll see a hand-made, mixed media aspect to the cards. And if you think a little more about the photo and the fonts, you might notice that they're from Bo Jackson's 1989 Topps card. So what's going on here?

Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown is what's going on!
Last month on his blog, he described the impetus behind a batch of "border art" cards he'd been creating, and showed off quite a few examples. What makes the cards even more cool is that they're all unique. They're one-of-ones. If you have one in your collection, that's it. No one else will.

If this piques your interest, you'll be happy to know that Gavin has set up an eBay store where he's selling some of his creations. That's where I snatched up the two Bo Jackson cards shown above. I really love that color combination of light blue, royal blue, and black—especially on the '85 Donruss design. The blue stripes on the borders really stand out.

Here's a shot of a card back.

Stamped to verify the unique art, with a signature from the artist himself. Nice touch. I'm really happy to have some hand-made art from Gavin in my collection.
So check out his eBay store. There's more card art to choose from, featuring big-time players of the era like Tony Gwynn, Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, and Ken Griffey Jr.
Thanks Gavin, and keep up the great work!

Sunday, July 9, 2023

From the Favorites Box: Johhny Bench, 1976 Topps #300

A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here. 
Have a look at the scene on this card.

It's July. High noon. The sun is baking down on everything.
And there's Johnny Bench. He's either upset because a baserunner slid into home and beat the throw, or he's upset because a young, foolish rookie has just tried to steal second base, and Bench had to gun the poor kid down. 
I like that second scenario better. Bench is surrounded by the dust that he himself kicked up during the throw. The glare is cast toward the other members of the rookie gang, and it says it all:
Don’t you ever try that again
It's hard to deny that you're looking at a gunslinger on this card. In fact, if you swapped out that baseball uniform for a wild west getup and airbrushed out that metal fence behind him, Johnny Bench would look like a sheriff walking the streets of a Wild West town. He's the guy in the white hat. Protecting the townsfolk. The young rookie still lies there in the dirt at second base, and in the quiet that follows, you can almost hear Bench's spurs jingling as he silently walks back toward home plate. 
Even the name Johnny Bench sounds like it could be a sheriff's name.
As for his baseball career, I don't think I need to list many of Mr. Bench's accomplishments here because they're so well known. World Series rings, All-Star appearances, Gold Gloves, MVP awards. Then there were the TV show appearances and commercials.
And the baseball card above really sums it up. You just can't mess with that guy.
For pairing up a legendary player with a legendary piece of cardboard, 1976 Topps #300 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Quick. . . Name a Cartoon Character and Their Catchphrase

Who did you think of?
Was it one of these guys?

If it was, you're likely not alone. I mean, talk about legends of the game.

But there are plenty of other characters a person might choose, too. And as a lover of animation, that's the subject that came to my mind even back when I was designing the original custom card in this growing set. I figured a good follow-up card would feature some of the all-stars of the animated world. So I came up with a list.

Check out the card back and see who rounds out the top 10.

I tried to make the list fairly accurate, based on a few criteria: "catchiness" of the catchphrase, popularity of the cartoon character, and number of seasons or iterations the cartoon has had. The right-hand column lists the fictitious, estimated number of times each character has uttered their catchphrase. (No, I did not look that up online, although I wouldn't be surprised if someone out there has tried to compile actual stats.)
I really wanted to put Charlie Brown in the top three, but I felt that having him finish just off the podium would be the most fitting thing for poor Chuck, who has once again had the proverbial football swiped away just before he kicked it. (I love the Peanuts gang, and wanted to stay true to Charles Schulz's storyline.)
And there were some good ones I left out for one reason or another. For example, G.I. Joe's "Yo Joe!" is fantastic, but it was uttered by all the Joes, not just one; Shaggy's "Zoinks!" is a classic, but pretty much every Scooby-Doo character has a catchphrase, so I decided to put only one character (Velma) on the list to make room for some other cartoons; and He-Man's "By the Power of Grayskull, I Have the Power!" was just too long to fit on the card. 
But overall, I think all 10 characters earned their places on the list.
And that's that. Another fun custom card is in the books.
Would you have put any other characters on the list? Or re-ordered the top 10? Let me know in the comment section, and thanks for reading!
PS: Bonus points if you can spot the spelling error on the card back.