Saturday, July 13, 2019

Angels No-Hit Tribute to Tyler Skaggs


Two days in a row, I'm creating tribute cards. Yesterday was Jim Bouton who was 80 years old.  A genuine loss to all baseball fans.  Last night the Angels paid tribute to Tyler Skaggs.  Today would have been his 28th birthday.

The tribute wouldn't have been believed if it were scripted.  The entire team wore his uniform, name and number. His mother, a former softball player, threw out the first pitch.  From the mound.  A perfect strike. 

Taylor Cole opened the game by striking out the first batter. Normally a relief pitcher, he only went two innings.  Both of them perfect.  In the Angels first, Fletcher led off with a double, then Mike Trout launched the first pitch 454 feet to put the Angels up 2-0.  Trout would also get a double in that 7 run first inning.

Felix Pena came in and pitch 7 near-perfect innings. He allowed one walk in the 5th before retiring the next 14 in a row.  After celebrating the 13-0 no-hitter, the players all laid their #45 jerseys on the  mound. 

There was so much going on that there is no way to capture it all on one card.  Instead, I made a card in the style of the 1961 Topps Baseball Thrills crediting all three pitchers. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

1965 Alt-Topps Jim Bouton

1939-2019



There is not much to say about Jim Bouton that he hasn't already written.  If you are reading this blog, you are obviously an avid baseball fan.  If you haven't read "Ball Four" you are doing yourself a disservice.  This week baseball lost a great voice.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

1989 All Star Game Honorary Captains: Carl Yastrzemski & Don Drysdale

The 1989 ASG was played under the "Big A" in Anaheim. Once again neither Honorary Captain had ties to the host team.

The AL Captain was newly minted Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.  The 1989 class consisted of two first-ballot superstars, Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski. The veteran's committee also selected Red Schoendienst and umpire Al Barlik. Yaz's stats read the way you would expect of a first-ballot HOFer; Triple Crown winner, AL MVP, All Star Game MVP, 18 All Star Games, 7 Gold Gloves.  But there was controversy too.  Yaz was accused of a lack of hustle when he thought the play or game wasn't important.  This led to a much publicized rift that may or may not have caused the Sox to trade Tony Conigliaro to the Angels.






The NL Captain was Dodgers great Don Drysdale. Had he not been forced into early retirement (age 32) due to shoulder soreness, Drysdale might have been a first-ballot HOFer, too.  He was an imposing pitcher at 6'5" and he had a 2 for 1 rule: "If one of my teammates got knocked down, then I knocked down two on the other team”.  His stats bore that out. In his 14 season career, he was in the top-ten of Hit-By-Pitch 12 times. If you are wondering if this was intentional or not, he also finished in the top-ten for strikeout to walk ratio 10 times in 14 years.







Here are the Topps versions of the Captains Cards that appeared as inserts in the 1990 set.



Tuesday, July 9, 2019

1988 All Star Game Honorary Captains: Bobby Doerr & Willie Stargell


Continuing with my revived All Star Break Tradition, the Honorary Captains.  Spoiler alert: this is in no way as exciting as last night's duel between Guerrero and Pederson. 

In 1988 the game was played in Cincinnati. Often there's one or more players with ties to the host team.  If there's a connection here, I'm missing it. 

The AL Captain was Bobby Doerr. He spent his entire MLB career with the Red Sox. Missing only the 1945 season to serve in the Army, he played from 1937-1951Doerr was a 9 time All Star who played in the shadow of  Teddy Ballgame in his prime.  It took the Veteran's Committee to induct him in 1986.













In the NL was first-ballot 1988 inductee, Willie Stargell.  Pops was a seven time All Star. In 1979 he won the NL MVP, the NLCS MVP and the World Series MVP.

















Again, the honorary captains appeared on the All Star Glossy inserts in 1989 Topps rack packs.



Monday, July 8, 2019

1987 All Star Game Honorary Captains: Catfish Hunter & Billy Williams




Its been 3 years since I've made Honorary Captain cards for the All Star break.  Part of the reason is my extended break from blogging.  The other part is that I'm just not that into the design of the cards in these years.  The last card I did, 1986 Topps All Stars were really a mash-up of the base cards and the All Star cards because I disliked the 1986 All Star design so much.

The best of the group is the 1987 All Star Cards. Subjectively, it is also the best pair of Honorary Captains.  The 1987 All Star Game was played in Oakland and both Honorary Captains played for the A's and both entered the Hall of Fame in 1987.  Yet neither of these player's plaques featured caps with  A's logos.

Representing the AL is Jim "Catfish" Hunter.  Unable to choose between the A's and the Yankees, Hunter opted for no logo on his cap at all. The nickname we all know, and the fake story behind it all came from Charlie Finley.  Topps always referred to him as Jim Hunter.  It wasn't until long after his playing years that Topps finally used the nickname on the front of a card. It was the 2001 "American Pie" release.










The NL was represented by Billy Williams.  "Sweet Swinging" Billy was, of course, enshrined as a Cub. After 16 seasons in the "Friendly Confines", Williams finished out his career as a DH in Oakland.
















Unlike my earlier Honorary Captain cards, these captains actually were featured on 1987 All Star cards.  They were on the Glossy All Star cards inserted into 1988 Topps rack packs.


These Glossy All Star cards were inserted into rack packs from 1984-1991. For the most part they were extremely similar year to year.  They really had no design similarities to the base cards of those series.




Other than the lack of the league logo in 1986 and he 40th anniversary badge on the 1991, there is virtually no difference between the sets.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

1965 Alt-Topps Requests


Got quite a few good requests this month. I'll start with the one with the best back story. The request was from "KoolKards".  "Bob" questioned how I would stay true to the 1965 Topps team color schemes for teams like the Cards and the A's that featured black borders. The short answer is, I wouldn't. The black looks great in the original design. Here it just doesn't fit. And Finally "Buzz" steered me towards a backstory.


"KK" wanted the Hawk, and I had the perfect picture.  Gotta love the way he personalized his mitt.  I went with the actual team colors, yellow and green rather than what Topps used in 1965, black and red. The A's colors were black and red until 1964 and a handful of the players (including Harrelson) were still sporting the old colors on their 1965 Topps cards.


"Buzz" left a comment about the Hawk riding the A's mascot "Charlie-O" the Mule.  I dug in and found this great story and photo of him nearly getting bucked off the Mule.  Oddly the story also featured the same photo I had used for my card.


"HH99" wanted a first of many "career cappers" for Minnie Minoso. He initially played his "last game" in 1964. He played again in 1977 and again in 1980. I decided to go horizontal for this one. I could imagine a handful of horizontal cards sprinkled throughout this fictional set.


"Unknown" and "Old Cards" both wanted more All Stars. "OC" specifically wanted Pete Rose and Killebrew. Now Rose wouldn't be an All Star until the 1965 season.  I created a base card for him instead because he probably wouldn't have appeared on an All Star card until 1966.


But I did make one for Killer. I also included the Mick on the AL team. 


In the senior circuit, I made cards for Williams and Clemente. While I fell short of "Unknown's" request for all of the All Stars, Its a start.


After thinking about it for a bit, I decided "what the hell"?  Who really cares if my fake cards aren't 100% historically accurate?  I sure don't.  In fact right under the title of this blog it says "What cards would look like if I had my way". So here is an historically-inaccurate 1965 Pete Rose All Star.


So eight cards in and not even close to being done.  Of course "Buzz" had his usual challenges. These are all guys who spent most of their careers playing for other teams. But in 1965 found themselves on oddball teams.

Dick Stuart, an All Star for Pittsburgh and MVP candidate for Boston, spent one season in Philadelphia. The White Sox Gold Glove outfielder, Landis was traded to the A's in 1965 where he also spent only one season.


Lee Thomas was dealt from the Dodgers to the BoSox mid 1964 and after the 1965 season he went to the Braves.  Long time Braves pitcher Warren Spahn pitched just 20 games in New York before joining the Giants in 1965. 


And Finally there was "Sweet" Lou Johnson who was called up by the Dodgers in 1965 after Tommy Davis broke his ankle. 


"Defgav" wanted one of my favorite players, Dick Allen.  Although that was his preferred moniker, he was still generally referred to as Richie in 1965. Similarly, Roberto Clemente (earlier in this lengthy post) was still called Bob on his Topps cards. I decided to keep both names, Richie and Bob, on the Alt Topps cards.


Last but not least, "Rumple" wanted Bob Miller and Greg Goossen.  Miller played 17 seasons in the bigs for 10 different teams. In 1964 he led the league with 74 appearances for the Dodgers.  Goossen was a bonus baby in the Dodgers farm system until 1965. The Mets picked him off waivers and the Dodgers won the World Series. Before the Mets World Series season in 1969 he was dealt to the Pilots, missing out on a ring for the second time.



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Even More 1965 Alt-Topps

All Star, World Series, Leader Cards and More


The All Star cards are a bit of a throwback to the 1958 design. Second base belonged to New York in the 1964 ASG.


1964 World Series MVP Bob Gibson pitched 27 innings over 3 games. This included 10 innings in Game 5. His battery mate, Tim McCarver broke the tie in the 10th with a 3-run homer.
For the Leader cards, I tried to let the photos dominate the card. 
I also used a couple of stat categories that Topps wouldn't use on their own leader cards until 1973.










One thing that has been missing in my previous Alt-Topps efforts has been the multi-player card. Topps used them throughout the 50s and 60s.  The Aaron Brothers seemed like low-hanging-fruit. 






While I'm surprised Topps didn't use Hank & Tommy, this tribute to the KC Monarchs might have been a departure for Topps. Both Altman and Banks played for the Monarchs under Buck O'Neil in the early 50s. In 1965 O'Neil was the Cubs hitting coach.





1965 marked the opening of the Astrodome and the name change from Colt .45s to Astros. There were plenty of gimmicks, including a ground crew dressed as spacemen.  





Friday, June 7, 2019

More 1965 Alt -Topps

Rookies, Team Cards and Managers


Love them or hate them, here they come.  First is the multi-player Rookie Stars card.  For the rookie card I let the photos take a backseat to the design and went with a 1963 rookie card feel.  I know people dislike the multi-player design because for every card with a "Steve Carlton" you get a "Fritz Ackley".  But with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, these are loaded.

The AL card has the top two Rookie of the Year nominees, Blefary and Lopez. It also has 1966 ROY Tommie Agee and Skip Lockwood. Lockwood came up as a 3rd baseman. He batted .121 in 33 at bats in 1965. He went back to the drawing board and was reborn as a pitcher. He pitched for 12 years in the majors from 1969-1980.

Once again in the NL, I have the players with the most ROY votes. Lefebvre, Morgan and Linzy. The fourth was future Hall of Famer, Fergie Jenkins. In 1965, Houston was transitioning from .45s to Astros. During spring training they had several cap logos.  This shot of Morgan has the plain embroidered star. There also were a couple variations with just an 'H' and a few sewn-on-patch variations before the final version.
The team cards are about as basic as they get. I used the same script and a simple white border.
The Manager cards are the same as the regular issue cards.  I went with a pair of teams that will surely upset Yankee fans.


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I got a lot of good requests for this set so far.  Some of them are a bit challenging, but keep them coming.