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.



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

1965 Alt -Topps


This was a design that I really like. It has the full sized photos with just a simple white border similar to the 1957 Topps design.  It also incorporates a very 60s-looking almost cartoonishly colorful team name and text bubble. Due to the players used in the prototype and the very 60s feel, I went with 1965 as my year of issue for this Alt set.

In what has become a typical quirk, the player named and the player in the photo don't match.  The photo is Jim Fregosi taken from his 1963 card. The name used, however, is Dodgers first baseman, Wes Parker. 
I made a card for each of these players.  In my cleaned-up version I reduced the size of the team name and text bubble.  I think it gives a cleaner look and allows more of the photo to show.  I could not find a font that matched the one used in the prototype, so I improvised.

My base cards are the eventual MVPs and Cy Young award winner of the 1965 season. Mays And Versalles were the MVPs.  As usual, I tried to keep the team colors similar to those used by Topps in 1965.


In 1965 there was still only one overall Cy Young award winner and that was Koufax. It wasn't until 1967 that there was one for each league. So through a little extrapolation, I included Eddie Fisher.  Fisher went 15-7 with 24 saves. He led the league in games, appearing in nearly half of them at 80 games. He also led in pitching ratio with 0.974. Koufax was the unanimous choice for Cy Young in 1965, thus no other pitcher received any votes. In the AL Fisher was #4 in MVP voting, the highest among pitchers.


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I'm going to take requests on this set now rather than wait until after I've published the other elements of this set.  That'll give me a little extra time to put them all together.



Saturday, June 1, 2019

1968 Alt-Topps *Football Edition*

A Tribute to Bart Starr


First a tribute to Bart Starr who past away last week. He died the day before Bill Buckner, to whom I have already paid tribute. As much as it pains me (a lifelong Bears fan), I have to respect the man if not the uniform. A five Time NFL Champion including the first 2 Super Bowls. He was also MVP of those Super Bowls. The accolades go on for this first-ballot Hall of Famer, but I won't.

When looking for a suitable card to make, I decided to use one of the discarded Topps demo card designs. This was one of the football card mock-ups among the Topps baseball card prototypes I have been experimenting with.

Overall, it is a pretty cool design. But I'm not sure where to begin when stating what's not right with this mock-up.  Let's start with the obvious, that is a close-up of a basketball.  Not a football.  



Second, that is not Paul Warfield. It is Jimmy Warren.  That photo was taken from his 1968 Topps card.  But we're not done yet. That card has him on the Dolphins but the photo is obviously him in a Chargers uniform. He played for the Chargers in 1964 and 65. The Dolphins took him in 1966 durning the AFL's first expansion draft.









Color photos of football players in that era are pretty hard to find.  I tried unsuccessfully to find one of Warren in a Dolphins uniform. The search did turn up one interesting photo over and over.  Warren was infamously the last man to beat on Franco Harris's "Immaculate Reception". At this time he was wearings a Raiders uniform.




Here is a card that actually features Paul Warfield with a football in the background instead of a basketball. Warfield played for the Browns and Dolphins from 1964-1974. In 1975 he and Dolphins teammates Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick joined the WFL Memphis Grizzlies (AKA Southmen). He returned to the NFL and the Browns in 1976.


And here is a similar treatment for Jimmy Warren.  Alas, I had no luck in finding a color photo of him on the Dolphins so I re-used the same photo on the original prototype.








I also created a few more. First were the eventual MVPs of the 1968 season from their respective leagues.  Joe Namath for the AFL and Earl Morrall of the NFL.









After a pre-season injury to Unitas, Morrall led the Colts to a 13-1 record and ultimately Superbowl III.  After 3 interceptions he was pulled and Unitas was reinstated. But the damage had been done. The AFL Jets beat the heavily favored NFL Colts.




I felt the need to balance these offensive MVPs with defensive stars. So I chose the defensive MVPs from their respective all star games. Although these games were technically played in 1969, they were played by the 1968 season all star selections.
 
The MVP of the AFL All Star game was George Webster. He was the AFL rookie of the year in 1967 as selected by United Press International. He was an All Star selection in each of his first 3 seasons.







In the NFL, Merlin Olsen was co-MVP of the 1969 Pro Bowl along with Rams teammate Roman Gabriel. Olsen was a Pro Bowler 14 of his 15 NFL seasons and was a first ballot Hall of Famer.  









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Just a footnote here: football sets of this era were pretty small. The actual 1968 Topps set was only 219 cards which was actually the largest football set they had issued to date. It was also the first to contain both NFL and AFL players since 1961. These sets contained almost no cards that were not player cards. In 1956 and 1957-1964 Topps also had team cards. The 1961 set also included a handful of "Highlights" cards.  The team cards never really returned. In the late 70s they added team-leader cards. It wasn't until 1972 that Topps had anything other than basic player cards and checklists. In 1972 they went all out. Topps added All-Pro cards, post season cards, leader cards and "Pro Action" cards. That set contained 348 cards and moved football cards into a new era.

The point of this abbreviated history on Topps football cards?  It's my way of saying, "this is it."  I won't be making any additional subsets.  If I ever did choose to make football subsets, I think I would make them for the existing Topps (or Fleer or Philadelphia) football sets. If there is interest, I will make a couple requests. Just be aware of the scarcity of useable player photos from this era.  So I may not be able to cover your request, but I will try.