Monday, December 17, 2012

Follow my 1978 Topps Update Blog

If 1977 interested you, click on the above link and follow the '78 Update blog, which I'm actively working on now for an upcoming Action Baseball League.

Here are some HOF samples:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More Missing Cards...

After I loaded the cards into my PlayerPhotos folder and fired up the game I found out that I completely forgot about a handful of cards.  At first I thought I misspelled them or misplaced them, but upon further review I realized that I just flat out dropped the ball.  So much for my "Six Sigma" Program :) !  Here are the few that I missed.  This completes the set.  From time to time I will update the set if a better photo appears.  An example of a better photo is the Mike Cuellar card that I'm posting here.  I found a better photo on the OOTP site yesterday and added it to the card.  I will be updating some Blue Jays cards thanks to Chris Jackson's scans and Rick Ambrozic's O Pee Chee card scans.  Stay tuned...

This photo proves that not only were the Astros uniforms of the late '70's ugly, but their jackets were even uglier.  Ferguson, who is best remember for his two tours of duty with the Dodgers had his 1977 card issued by Topps with him in a Cardinal uniform.  Ferguson hit .257 with 16 homers, which is exceptional when you consider that he played half of his games in the Astrodome.  Midway through the following season he was dealt back to the Dodgers for Rafael Landestoy and Jeff Leonard.  The Dodgers needed a strong bat off the bench and a backup catcher, so the deal worked for them at the time.  Landestoy was a good middle infielder for Houston and Leonard would go on to be a prime time player in San Fran.

Dierker was on his way to a Hall of Fame career in Houston, but injuries curtailed his effectiveness and he wound up spending one uneventful season in St. Louis before retiring at the age of 30.  During his 14 year tenure in Houston he became the franchises 1st 20 game winner and threw a no hitter in 1976.  In 1977 he was 2-6 with a 4.58 ERA for the Cardinals in 11 games (9 starts).  I used his '78 Topps card for this updated card photo.  The Cardinals had to know they were trading for damaged goods when they acquired him along with Jerry Davanon for a minor leaguer and Joe Ferguson in December of 1976.  St. Louis released him in Spring Training of 1978, when it became obvious that he couldn't physically perform up to the All-Star level that he was once accustomed to.  His final career numbers in 14 seasons was 139-123 with a stellar 3.31 ERA.

St. Louis loved DaVanon enough to acquire him 4 times and let him go 4 times.  His travels are more interesting than his actual career.  His final Cardinal stint lasted 8 at bats over 9 games, where he went hitless.  On May 11, 1977 he was given his outright release by the Redbirds, which ended his career.  Interestingly he went from the penthouse to the poorhouse in just 1 season.  In 1976 he hit .290 for the Astros while filling the role of utility infielder.  The following season he was gone from baseball.  The only color photo I could find of him in a Cardinal uniform was from his 1971 Topps card, which I decided to use instead of colorizing a B&W photo that I found on ebay.  Who knows, if I get bored I might just colorize it and update the card.

Carbo was one of those guys who always looked to be having fun while playing the game.  Unfortunately for him it wasn't all fun and games.  He grew up in an uncaring family where it was almost impossible to get attention.  This probably explains his crazy antics on and off the ball field.  It also explains how he sunk to the depths of addiction, which by his own admission, ended what could have been a HOF career.  Who would know that his first season (1970) would be his best.  He hit 21 homers for the Reds and was the runner up for the Rookie of the Year Award.  Carbo is best known for his 3 run homer to dead center in game 6 of the 1975 World Series that set the stage for Carlton Fisk's walk off game winner.  If 1970 was his best season, his 5 years in Boston would be his best stretch.  Once Red Sox ownership found out about his drug problems they dealt him to Cleveland and things got even worse for him.  Thankfully he righted his ship in later life and even got inducted into the Red Sox HOF.  In 1977 he hit .289 with 15 homers in just 86 games.  I found this autographed photo of his on ebay and used it for this card, which I somehow forgot to make.  Topps originally issued a card with him in a Brewers uniform.  He played with Milwaukee from June 3rd 1976 until the end of the season, when he was traded back to the Red Sox.

Best known as the losing pitcher of game 7 in the 1975 World Series.  Burton, a lefty, was brought on in the 9th to face the lefties that Cincy had scheduled to bat.  He walked 2 then served up a bloop single to Joe Morgan for the game winner.  He spent all of '76 in the minors and only resurfaced in '77 for 1 game before being dealt to the Mets, where they assigned him to their AAA affiliate Tidewater.  I used his 1976 Topps card for this updated 1977 card.

Darr's full major league career lasted just 1 1/3 innings in 1977.  He gave up 3 hits and 5 runs.  His lifetime ERA stands at 33.75.  How he got to the majors is a mystery unto itself considering he never rose higher than Double A ball prior to his one appearance.  His one shot at Triple A saw him go 6-16 for Toronto's Syracuse affiliate in 1978.  He was sent down to A ball the following year and went 10-9 (3.21) for Kinston of the Carolina league, before being released at the age of 23.  His son Mike had a promising career with the Padres, but died in a tagic car accident after 3 seasons.  This photo comes courtesy of a scan from Chris Jackson.  He scanned it from a Blue Jays anniversary guide.  I dare say  it's probably the only photo of him in a Blue Jay uniform.  The original was very small, which is why the final result is a bit grainy.  I'm ecstatic to have it.  I was planning on just leaving him out of the set figuring that he played in 1 game and got bombed.

In 1977, Fuentes played with the Detroit Tigers and had a career-best .309 batting average. Despite having his best season, he was not brought back in 1978 (since the Tigers had a young Lou Whitaker waiting in the wings). The Montreal Expos then purchased his contract. Before the start of the season, however, Fuentes was released. During the year, he signed with the Oakland Athletics, but he was released again after batting just .140 in only 13 games. He retired shortly afterward.  Fuentes' best seasons were with the Giants.  In 1973 he set the record for best fielding percentage by a second baseman, which stood until Ryne Sandberg broke it 13 years later.  Know throughout his career for wearing his trademark "Tito" headband over his cap, while playing the field Fuentes considered himself the #2 hotdog of the 70's next to Willie Montanez.  The photo used here was used by Topps for his 1978 card.

Sutherland hit just .243 as a utility infielder for the Padres in 1977.  He played for 7 different franchises in his 10 year career.  He is most remembered as an "original" Montreal Expo in 1969, where he scored the franchise's first run.  That season would be his only season as a full time starter.  1978 would be his final season in the majors.  He got into just 10 games and hit .167 (1-6) for the Cardinals before being released.  I couldn't find any photos of him with the Friars except this one, which came from a B&W regional promotion card.  I colorized Sutherland and his uniform, but neglected to do the same for the stadium in the background.

Here is an updated card for Cuellar.  The photo comes from the Topps Vault and was supposed to be used for his '78 card, which was never issued since he retired before the '77 season ended.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Strive for Perfection...Updated NL Photos

I wasn't shocked that I had at least 2 or 3 players to update for the Expos, since that was the first team that I completed.  The Padres had 4 players to update, which I either missed on the first pass or I ignored the Padres, like so many others did during their forgotten decade of the 1970's.  The Cardinals had 2 that needed fixing and of course I had to work on overcoming one very bad Topps airbrush of Gary Matthews of the Braves.

Hands down the happy Matthews on the right wins the day.  Topps didn't do a horrible job airbrushing his helmet on the original (left), but they over colored the jersey and that made me fixate on the helmet, so it had to go.  The shot on the right is an autographed photo of Matthews that I found on ebay.  Since most teams were typically pictured in their road uniforms on Topps cards, I really liked the fact that the updated photo was taken with his home "whites" on.

This was a huge upgrade.  On the left was one of the first cards that I did for the project.  Actually it was the card that started the project.  In '77 Andre Dawson had just a rookie panel card from Topps.  I felt that a HOF'er and one of my personal favorite players needed a true rookie card.  I used the Topps Archives card on the left, but that photo was so grainy.  Obviously it didn't bother Topps, who re-issued that card in 2004, but it bugged me.  Then I stumbled upon a Topps Lineage card that was released in 2011 (right).  The photo was probably shot in either '77 or '78 at Shea Stadium, so it has a young "Hawk" and seems very credible to use for his rookie card.  I loved the fact that it had the "coveted" Topps Rookie All-Star trophy superimposed on the card.  That was the clincher for me.

After 3 straight All-Star seasons in Philly, Cash signed as a free agent with the Expos in the off-season.  Since he signed on November 17, 1976, the good folks from Topps had more than enough time to airbrush him into an Expo uniform and cap.  The original (left) was semi-credible, but the updated photo (right) taken at Wrigley during the '77 season is much better.  The photo is a bit out of focus, which really makes it look like something Topps would have used during that era.

On your left you have O Pee Chee's airbrush job.  On your right you have the photo used for Brown's 1978 Topps card.  His 1977 Topps card had him still wearing an Indian uniform.  On December 10, 1976 he was traded from the Tribe to the Expos for a struggling Andre Thornton, which would go down as one of the best trades in Cleveland history and one of the worst in Expos history.  Thornton went on to become one of the best Indians ever and arguably the best DH of his era, while Brown was out of baseball after the '77 season.  Interestingly Topps and O Pee Chee both made cards for Brown in 1977, but neither made a cardboard tribute to Thornton.

After 6 seasons with the Giants Rader was dealt to the Cardinals.  Topps broke out the airbrush and changed raiders cap from black to red and removed the SF and added the StL.  I originally tried to cut and paste a new cap on top of his head, but it just didn't look natural.  Instead I used his 1978 Topps card photo as the replacement picture.  Both were headshots.  The new one (right) was minus the caterpillar above his lip.

Nothing really wrong with the original (left) that Topps billed as an "action shot", but the updated photo (right) shows Cruz sporting his Cardinals cap not trying to put one on.  The updated shot comes from his 1978 Topps card.

There are a few things that we can be certain about:  Randy Jones was an NL All-Star in 1976 and Topps really loved that "action shot" of the wind hitting his 'fro while he was warming up.  Another thing we can be certain about is that I liked the real action shot that was originally a SI cover in 1976, the year he won his Cy Young Award.  All I had to do was airbrush out the text and crop it to fit the card.  IMO, a huge upgrade !

It seems like everyone, especially the Padres, was signing a former Oakland A's free agent in the off season. Reggie Jackson got all the press, but Rollie Fingers was a dominant reliever and a big windfall for whomever inked him.  Topps once again went to the airbrush and turned Fingers from an Oakland A's player into a Padre.  Originally I felt that the airbrush was credible enough to live with, but the more I thought about it the more I felt that any airbrush is an insult to a HOF'er.  On the right I updated Fingers' card with an autographed photo found on ebay.  We go from a Spring Training look (left) to a classic dugout look (right).

On your left you have a classic Topps airbrush of Gene Tenace.  If you look closely over his right shoulder you will see an Oakland Athletic coach probably hitting fungoes.  How do I know it's an Oakland coach ?  He's wearing the traditional white cap with green brim that Oakland coaches and managers wore during the 70's.  I'm also quite puzzled as to the venue of the photo.  I see a Shaefer Beer sign above the coaches head that looks like it could have come from old Yankee Stadium.  If that's correct, Topps airbrushed a photo that was taken in 1973 or earlier, since Old Yankee Stadium closed down in October of 1973.  To make things more realistic I found an autographed photo on ebay of Tenace wearing the real home uniform of the Padres and not a doctored up one like you see on the left.  San Diego must have thought that collecting former Oakland A's players could buy them a pennant.  Along with Tenace, they had Fingers, George Hendrick and future A's reliever Bob Owchinko, yet they still lost 93 games.

Topps decided to airbrush the most faded spring training photo they could find (left).  When you look closely the cap looks like it was made out of corduroy or some weird material.  The updated photo (right) was found on ebay.  I found it interesting how Griffin posed with what looks like about 2 cans worth of Skoal "pinched neatly between his cheek and gums".  I'm betting that a wad of that wound up on the plaid pants of the unsuspecting photographer.

Strive for Perfection...Updated AL Photos

After the first go-round I looked through the cards that I created and realized that some of them lacked clarity or I flat out missed an original done by Topps that needed fixing.  I chose to update 23 this weekend.  Chances are there will be more.  Most of these are from the teams that I did early on in the process, since I have learned a a trick or two to make it better.  There were a few that I wanted to update, but I couldn't find photos that would work or I couldn't make them discernibly better.  I am going to break the updates out into teams, just like the original posts.  On the left side will be the original and on the right will be the update.  The first update post will include the AL teams and the second the NL teams.

First Up...The New York Yankees, since you have to defer to the actual champs.

The original was a colorized photo that I believe came from one of the NYC tabloids.  I took the original that was in B&W and ran it through my colorization process.  The updated photo is a sharpened photo with a Yankee Cap.  I find it a bit ironic that I found the cap on a Roger Clemens Yankee card.  Clemens might be one of the most reviled former Yankees and Kingman is definitely one of the most reviled former Mets.  Most don't even remember that he played for the Yankees for 2 weeks in September of 1977.

Topps' original issue for Torrez had him on the Oakland A's, where he actually started the season.  Can't fault Topps on that one.  What you can fault is Topps for the updated card on the left, which was issued in NYC as part of a mid-season set from Burger King.  No reason Topps couldn't have taken the 4 train 20 minutes north from Bowling Green Station up to 161st and River and shot a few photos of Torrez in a Yankee uniform.  They basically airbrushed one of the photos taken in 1976 at the Oakland Coliseum.  What I did was copy/crop a cap off another Yankee player, then pasted it onto this BK card photo.  Is it perfect, no.  Is it better than the original airbrush job ?  IMO, Yes.

Next up are 3 players from the Boston Red Sox, who fell a couple of games short of beating out the Yankees for the AL East Crown.

Soup's (don't you love that original nickname ?) original Topps card is an airbrush job done on a photo taken while he was with the Twins.  How did I miss this one ?  No clue.  It's obvious that they crayola'ed his cap, but left the jersey trip as is.  I guess the good folks on Whitehall street figured we'd miss that bit of detail, which I actually did on my first pass.  The updated photo used came from a google search.  I liked the fact that it had an autograph in black, which was kind of similar to the Topps model for the '77 set.

Since Topps' original George Scott had him on the Brewers, I had to update it to add him to the Red Sox.  Originally I chose an action shot (left), but after finding this great picture on the right while doing a google search, I had to update it.  Nothing says "Boomer" better than a smiling picture of him sporting his gold capped tooth in the front.  That's why the updated shot on the right is a keeper.

The original shot on the left came from Diaz' 1978 rookie panel card from Topps.  Those panel cards typically had grainy/out of focus shots.  One of our community members scanned a picture of Diaz and a few other Bosox and sent it to me.  For the life of me, I forgot who sent it.  Let me apologize right now for not remembering.  When I figure it out or find the original e-mail I will duly credit you.  In any case, this shot on the right is a ton clearer and had to be used.

The Rangers acquired John Ellis in 1976.  In fact Topps issued one of it's infamous "TRADED" cards for him, so you'd think they would have had a decent photo of him in a Texas uniform for the 1977 set.  Guess again, as evidenced by the poor airbrushing done on the original (left).  For the updated card I took his 1978 Topps card photo and used it.  Strangely, Ellis played for 6 or 7 years with Texas, yet Topps used at least 2 or 3 airbrush shots for him in subsequent years.

Topps really went all out when they did their airbrush job (left).  The cap log was way too small and the jersey is navy blue and looks like something the White Sox wore during this era.  The updated card on the right was actually the card issued by the O Pee Chee set in Canada.  Apparently the folks at O Pee Chee valued a real photo more than the folks who they bought the card license from (Topps).  Of course O Pee Chee was selling to a Canadian audience, and the expansion Jays were Canada's newest team.  Originally I missed this O Pee Chee card, because they are so hard to find here in the states.  Occasionally you will see a few for sale on ebay, and when they do I jump on downloading the photos.

Topps did a pretty darn good job w/this original airbrush, which is why I didn't spend any time updating it.  I played around with the original and updated it with a "real" cap, which I'm not thinking I should have darkened a bit.  In either case it never hurts to have options, so I will let the Blue Jays manager in ARAIG choose which of the two he prefers.

On the left you have a credible airbrush job of Mason taken while he was a member of the Yankees.  Topps did a sound job airbrushing the front of the Yankee cap to add a white panel and the Blue Jay logo.  The color is definitely Yankee blue and not Blue Jay blue, which was obviously lighter.  On the right is the O Pee Chee card taken in Spring Training.

On your left you have an average airbrush job done by Topps.  On the right, you have a pretty good action shot that I found while doing a google search.  The live action shot wins out.  Kudos to Jefferson for sporting a sharp 'fro.  Even though he's no Oscar Gamble, this is a pretty good effort.

Soderholm spent all of '76 on the DL.  Prior to that he was with the Twins.  Topps airbrushed his Twins uni and made it look like Satin PJ's.  Quite possibly this might have made a good line for Victoria Secret to market, but it just doesn't cut it for a professional major leaguer.  While searching ebay I found this autographed photos (right) and replaced the pajama-gram on the left.

In 1977 Steve Stone moved back from the crosstown Cubbies to the Chisox, where he played in 1973.  Most of the time Topps would have dipped into their archives and used the '73 card photo or pictures from that shoot, but this time they couldn't because the Chisox changed their uniforms once again.  Apparently the best way to hid a bad team is to keep changing their duds.  The Chisox went from their classic black and white pinstripes in '68 to a light blue uni.  Then in '72 they went to red uni's.  By the latter part of the decade they were sporting collars and short pants.  I used Topps' '78 card photo of Stone sporting his collared shirt.   Judging by the look on his face I am going to assume that they didn't make him where the Bermuda shorts as well.

Since the Chisox were in the process of changing their uniforms once again, Topps was forced to tap into the talents of the Crayola Factory once again.  Personally, I think they should have just used the photos that they had and not played around, but I guess they wanted to have the latest and greatest look without having to dispatch a camera man.  On the left you have a credible airbrush done by Topps.  The cap looks good, but the warm-up jacket has that same "satiny" look that Soderholm's uni had.  On the right is a an autographed photo of Wood that I found while searching ebay.