Monday, November 11, 2019

Even More 1975 Alt-Topps

Traded, Post-Season, Leaders and Rookie Stars

There were certainly bigger trades in the 1975 season.  In my last post I mentioned two, Hank Aaron and Bobby Murcer. But here are couple semi-stars that ended up on unexpected teams. (Sorry Buzz if I stole your thunder).  Padres star Nate Colbert found himself on the Tigers for the first part of the 1975 season. He was later purchased by the Expos and would end the season in Montreal. After the Cubs traded Randy Hundley to the Twins in 1974, he was released then signed by the Padres. In 1976 he would return to the Cubs, He finished his career there in a much diminished capacity.

For the Playoff/World Series cards, I tried to incorporate both team color schemes. Rather than mimic the actual 1975 two-tone color scheme, I faded the colors.

On the leader cards, I kept the gradient color background of the playoff cards for continuity.  I copied the mid-seventies style of having one leader from each league on the cards. I also incorporated the team logos onto the cards as I did on the traded cards.
I had to include a HR leaders card which featured one of my favorite players, Dick Allen. In the NL Mike Schmidt won the first of 8 home run titles.  Rod Carew led the AL in batting average 6 times in the 1970s.  Meanwhile in the NL, "the Roadrunner" Ralph Garr hit a career high .353 and led the league in triples with 17.
Just for good measure, I threw in a couple Alt-Topps All Star Rookies.  Frank Tanana would go on to lead the league in strikeouts in 1975. Bill Madlock would be Co-MVP of the 1975 All Star Game.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

More 1975 Alt-Topps

Rookies, All Stars and Team Cards

In my last post I held back the AL MVP, Fred Lynn in favor of runner-up John Mayberry.  I kept him for this card along side of the 3rd place finisher in MVP voting and the ROY runner-up, Jim Rice. With a rookie class like this and narrowly losing the World Series in 1975, they would still wait 11 more years for their next World Series appearance. Rice and Dwight Evens were the only Red Sox that played in both Series.

In the NL the Rookie of the Year was Giants pitcher John Montefusco.  He's teamed up on this card with Jack Clark. Clark was a September call-up for the Giants at the age of 19.  Montefusco beat out HOF catcher, Gary Carter. Carter spent most of the 1975 season in the outfield.  Barry Foote was their everyday catcher despite hitting less than his weight.

For these All Star cards, I found some action photos from the 1974 All Star Game. Murcer was traded to the Giants in 1975 but appeared as a Yankee in the 1974 ASG.  Likewise, Aaron was dealt to the Brewers in 1975.  Unfortunately, both these stars went 0 for 2 in the '74 classic.  Aaron and Murcer would play in the 1975 ASG but for the opposite league.  This time as reserves, both would go hitless again.

I struggled a bit adapting this format to the traditional team card format.  After several attempts, this was the design that I disliked least. Here are the two Texan teams.  
The Rangers were led by Billy Martin at the start of '75 season. The Astros began the season with Preston Gomez. Martin would finish the 1975 season managing the Yankees replacing Bill Virdon.  Virdon would then move to Houston and replace Gomez as manager.

Friday, November 1, 2019

1975 Alt-Topps

Once again, I am working from a black and white print. This one looks about 1975 vintage due to the Toy Cannon in Dodgers blue.  There was a lot going on here that I could not duplicate exactly.  I tried to find a glove shape that would allow enough space for a decent photo. The font was just impossible to duplicate but I think mine captures enough of the original gist. 

In typical fashion, I made some base card mockups using the Cy Young Award winners for the 1975 season. Jim Palmer won his second of 3 Cy Young Awards in 1975. He had career highs in victories (23), complete games (25) and shutouts (10). The NL also had a 3-time winner. Tom Terrific won his 3rd and final Cy Young. He led the NL in strikeouts (243) and wins (22).

The AL MVP, Fred Lynn, was also the Rookie of the Year.  I decided to substitute Lynn (and save him for later) with the runner-up MVP in the AL, John Mayberry.  Mayberry had career highs in home runs (34), RBIs (106), slugging (.547) and hits (162). He also led the league with 119 bases on  balls.  In the NL was Joe Morgan who won his first of two consecutive MVPs for the Big Red Machine.

Another departure on this set is the color selection.  In 1975 the Topps set was all over the place with many color combinations for teams.  For the Alt-Topps set I tried to match the team colors.


Just a quick note to the usual suspects that have been following my blog these past years:

I've been trying to stay active on this blog but haven't been very successful lately.  You can probably tell by the post season cards I posted.  I missed the Wildcard games.  Somehow I managed to post for the Divisional Series but again missed the Championship Series and World Series.  So, I've got a bunch of half-finished projects that I may post at a later date.

Sometimes the real world comes crashing into the hobbies that were meant to take your mind off the real world.  Having said that, I managed to finish this 1975 Alt-Topps project and will try to create a few requests, as usual.  Just leave comments and I will do my best.

Monday, October 7, 2019

1984 Topps Stadium Statues: 2019 ALDS - Twins vs Yankees Edition

Rod Carew played at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, the current location of the Mall of America. His Statue is at Target Field, a 40 minute Metro ride north of the Mall.  Between Metropolitan Stadium and Target Field, the Twins played at The Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. That is now the site of the US Bank Stadium, where the Vikings play. 

Although Yogi Berra spent the bulk of his career in Yankee Stadium, it was a different Yankee Stadium that was located one block south of the current one in the Bronx.  Yogi's statue is in the Yankees Museum. The Museum is located on the main level of Yankee Stadium near Gate 6. 

For those keeping score, just 2 out of 8 actually played in the ballpark where these statues are located. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

1984 Topps Stadium Statues: 2019 NLDS - Nationals vs Dodgers Edition

Needless to say neither of these Hall of Famers played in the ballparks where their statues exist. Walter Johnson played for the American League Washington Senators team that (long after his retirement) moved to Minnesota and be came the Twins.  Jackie Robinson, of course, never moved west when the Dodgers fled Brooklyn.

 The Walter Johnson statue, along with the statues of Josh Gibson and Frank Howard, tries to capture the action.  The artists sculpted multiple arms in motion to depict this.  The Robinson statue also depicts action, with Jackie frozen in his slide into home plate.  Not to be an art critic, but I prefer the Robinson. It's less messy.

One more note about both of these fields.  They both retained the team name. No corporate sponsored names, just Nationals Park and Dodgers Stadium. That is a rarity these days.

Friday, October 4, 2019

1984 Topps Stadium Statues: 2019 ALDS - Rays vs Astros Edition

This life-size Boggs statue is across from his display in Ted Williams' Hitters' Hall of Fame at Tropicana Field. The statue commemorates his 3000th hit. It happened to be a two run homer in Tampa Bay.  The Bagwell Statue is outside another domed stadium named after orange juice, Minute Maid Park.  These guys are both depicted in possibly the ugliest uniforms in the respective franchises' histories.   

My favorite Houston uni is the Original Colt .45 home uniforms, followed closely by the Tequila Sunrise '70s uni.  The Rays hands-down-best is their 70's faux-back based loosely on the San Diego Padres of that era. There may be some room for discussion on Houston uniforms, but the 70's faux-back is the only correct answer for Tampa Bay.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

1984 Topps Stadium Statues: 2019 NLDS - Cardinals vs Braves Edition

I did this a few years back. Statues outside stadiums have been a booming business. It seem like there a few more every season. The 1984 design is just best suited to capture these statues and a photo of the player.  

Neither of these players played in the present day stadiums.  In fact Spahn never played in Atlanta. He played for the Braves in Boston and Milwaukee.  Brock played in the first two Busch Stadiums. The original AKA Sportsman's Park and the second which was an astroturfed multipurpose monstrosity in the fashion of the late 60s and early 70s.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

1971 NFL Rookies of the Year

In 1971 there were a total of  5 different Rookie of the year presenters each giving out 2 awards each. Some were divided among offensive and defensive, others AFC or NFC. But for the most Part they were in agreement and the 10 awards were split between 3 players; John Brockington, Jim Plunkett and Isiah Robertson. None of these players had Topps cards in 1971. All three made their Topps debut the following year.

John Brockington won 4 different Rookie of the year honors. He was named NFC ROY by The Sporting News (TSN), United Press International (UPI) and the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).  He was also named Offensive ROY by the Associated Press (AP). Brockington was the Packers 1st round pick from Ohio State. He was a 3 time Pro Bowler.

Jim Plunkett also collected 4 Rookie of the Year awards. He was the AFC Rookie of the Year per TSN, UPI and NEA. He was crowned Offensive ROY by Pro Football Weekly (PFW). Plunket was the overall #1 pick in the 1971 Draft. He was the 1970 Heisman Award winner for Stanford beating out Joe Theisman and Archie Manning. He led the Raiders to 2 Super Bowl victories despite being the back up quarterback both seasons.  I made this card several years ago for Jim from Downingtown's 1971 Football Cards blog.

Isiah Robertson was named Defensive ROY by both PFW and AP. Robertson was the Rams 1st round pick in 1971 out of Southern University. He was a six time Pro Bowler for the Rams. He was traded to the Bills in 1978 and was among the highest paid linebackers at the time.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

1970 NFL Rookies of the Year

Another crazy-busy summer.  I just haven't found the time to post.  I am working on getting a few more baseball sets based on rejected Topps designs and will be posting them soon. In the meantime, here are a few more football Rookies of the Year card that never were.  We're already into the 3rd week of the season, so lets get into the '70s.

1970 was the first year of the newly merged NFL. The Steelers, Browns and Colts moved to the AFC. Other than that the conferences maintained the "old" NFL teams in the NFC and the AFL teams in the AFC. The breakdown of the divisions was difficult, too. Because there was no consensus among owners, the top five plans were thrown into a hat and the winner was drawn by Pete Rozelle's secretary.

There were also still 5 different presenters for the Rookie of the year. You'd think combining the league would reduce the awards. Instead, TSN and UPI began giving ROY awards to AFC and NFC. AP and PFW still gave out separate offensive and defense ROY's. NEA still gave out only one overall ROY award.

The breakdown went like this: the NEA gave its sole award to Raymond Chester, TE Raiders. AP and PFW agreed on the offensive ROY Dennis Shaw QB Bills. They also agreed defensively. Bruce Taylor CB 49ers was their choice. Oddly these were the same picks for TSN and UPI. Shaw was their AFC pick and Taylor was the NFC ROY.

Dennis Shaw and Bruce Taylor made their Topps debut in the 1971 set. Raymond Chester waited until the 1972 set for his rookie card.

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


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.