Sunday, February 20, 2022

Homer at the Bat, autographed

One of my first big "collecting projects" after returning to the hobby as an adult was picking up an autograph of each of the "Springfield Nine"-- that is, all nine MLB stars who guested in the classic "Homer at the Bat" episode of The Simpsons. (And one of my first big "blogging projects" was the "Simpsons fortnight" series spotlighting those 9 players.)

I've recently expanded that goal to now also include an autograph from the entire cast of the episode, not just the ballplayers.

The episode premiered 30 years ago today (2/20/1992), and so I figured it would be a good day for this post (and work as a deadline for myself to get everything together).

Ok, here we go, signatures from the complete cast of "Homer at the Bat":

Updated my cardroom display shelf with the cast for the episode, in order of the end credits.

Let's take a closer look.

Kicking things off with the Simpsons family. Homer and Lisa are from 2000 Inkworks The Simpsons 10th Anniversary, while the 4-quadrant design is from 2001 Inkworks Simpsons Mania. Julie Kavner doesn't have much in the way of certified autos on the market-- she's not included in either official auto card insert set-- so I got crafty with a signed piece of paper that I made a custom overlay for. The auto seems fully legit with some backstory but I think I'll do a separate post for my Simpsons customs one of these days and not go into them much now. 

Maggie Roswell is another one where I had to resort to custom assistance because she doesn't seem to have any real autograph cards out there. And the signed piece of paper I acquired for her just so happens to also have Tim Conway's signature on it. (Seems the original autograph hunter made it to the set of The Tim Conway Show, a variety show from 1980 that featured Maggie Roswell in the main cast.) Did my best making an overlay for awkwardly positioned autographs, but again, I'll talk more about the customs another time. In the episode, Maggie voices the nurse who's concerned about Griffey's gigantism and the woman Canseco helps whose house is on fire. 

The only scene with Ms. Krabappel was cut from the episode, though Marcia Wallace still got listed in the credits. Since I'm using the end credits as my "checklist" for the project, she's in. I have a few additional Simpsons autos that aren't included here because the voice actors aren't in the cast list for this episode (such as Pamela Hayden [Milhouse appears briefly but doesn't speak], Tress MacNeille [Mrs. Skinner appears briefly but doesn't speak], and Russi Taylor.)

Love my custom Boggs TTM auto, though I have been meaning to re-do my old Simpsons customs.. kinda give them the "digitally remastered" treatment. They were some of the first custom cards I ever made, and I've gotten better at it since then.

I think that 2004 Retired refractor is my only Jose Canseco autograph, on loan from that setbuild. And I need to upgrade my Clemens auto to one that isn't a stickergraph. I've got a custom overlay spicing up this drab Prizm auto. I know both Canseco and Clemens sign for a fee, and have been meaning to one day print up Simpsons customs to try to get signed, similar to the Boggs. Maybe someday I'll get around to that.

Pulled the Griffey (redemption) personally, so that's cool. I need to upgrade my 2004 Retired Mattingly refractor to one with a bolder signature and preferably ungraded. I also have a horizontal auto from him I was going to use, but didn't quite fit in the display.

Strawberry is another one of my customs I got signed, this one acquired with help from a guy involved with a signing held at Dave & Adam's Card World a few years back.

If you'd like to revisit the aforementioned Simpsons Fortnight posts from back in 2014 where I feature each player a bit more in depth and make a pair of customs for them, here are the links (in reverse order because that was easiest to copy and paste):

Finally, Terry Cashman, the man behind the 1981 song "Talkin' Baseball", which he himself spoofs as "Talkin' Softball" over the closing credits. Again, not much in the way of certified autographs on the market, but when this signed, PSA slabbed Rookies App custom popped up at a solid price, I knew it was just what I needed to knock a tricky name off my "cast list auto card" project. I think it was the last piece I needed, though printing out the Kavner and Roswell overlays last week was what completed the project.

So there you have it, an autograph for every voice in Homer at the Bat. That was a fun project to put together!

Friday, February 18, 2022

A flat-rate box and a PWE

A couple incoming trades to recap.

First is a nice flat-rate box from Johnny's Trading Spot. I've traded with him a bunch in the past, but it had been a while. (I'm at the point where my recent past is split by when we moved into our house, and this is the first post-move trade with John.)

Out of the few hundred cards included in the box, most were Padres, and while I'm not a true team collector, I was able to find plenty of keepers among them. Lots of shiny modern stuff in here.

And some older PC fodder.

John had space in the box to toss in some bric-a-brac. Like I say on my wantlist page, I try to keep my collection cards-only but make exceptions for my top PC guys. Roberto Clemente definitely fits the bill, so this Bamm Beano's #21 bear becomes one of the odder oddballs in the Clemente PC. (It's the 2nd stuffed animal in my card collection.. also got a David "Boomer" Wells bamm beano around somewhere, so now the two can play together when the moon is full and no one is watching.)

I've got a few scattered baseball figures in my collection, but think this is the first Re-Plays toy I've seen. Since the packaging isn't in great shape, I'll likely open it up and play around with Albert a bit unless someone wants to talk me out of it.

John hasn't forgotten my fondness for sparkly 2011 Topps parallels. I've got over 700 unique entries in this setbuild, but I'm still only at around 55% complete (flagship/Update/Chrome). It's a project that's sort of in limbo.. no longer a collecting focus, but I can't bring myself to blow it up. I don't have any expectation of ever completing it, but who knows, maybe one day in the future I'll decide to hit it hard and give it a whole-assed run (already got the Trout, after all). But for now, I'm just happy to receive some in trade from time to time. It's one of the few setbuilds that I kinda try to log the source of each card I get. So I can tell you that John has already sent me some of these exact same cards years ago, lol! But some solid needs, too, with a few Hall of Very Good candidates here.

Very cool to find a near-complete set of glow-in-the-dark '92 Ghost Rider cards in the box. While I have the 10-card set already, a couple of the cards were taken out of the binder for the framed display I put together, so these cards from John allow me to re-complete the set in the binder. And my glowing dupes all get bindered too. Every glow-in-the-dark card is a little miracle and deserves respect!


But the real highlight of the box was this factory set of 1988 Score. I love early Score with their insightful essays about each player on the back. In fact, I'd like to get a second set of '88 Score so I can keep one tight and intact, and have another set to slowly meander through, reading every card and splitting the set up between keepers (yep, I'm still missing lots of "junk" in my PCs) and non-keepers.

(Everybody, if you have any complete [or almost-complete] overproduction-era baseball sets available that you'd like to trim from your collection, feel free to casually feel out a trade with me! No set is too "worthless" for my interest [except '91 Upper Deck because I already have 2 of them] and I will of course be sure to consider your postage cost with regards to my return offer for you. I'd much rather trade-for than buy.)

Big thanks for the trade, John! Your return package is all packed up and I'll be heading out to the post office with it as soon as I publish this post.


And now a quick PWE from gcrl. He took me up on my offer to send a Dick Allen '72 Dodgers "proof" custom for any 1972 Topps need of mine.

Not just one, but a pair of '72 needs, plus a couple surprise 2011 Topps parallels for that lumbering build of mine.

Thanks, gcrl! I mailed out a return PWE to you earlier this week, so that should arrive soon if it hasn't yet.

Thanks for reading and have a great holiday weekend, all.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Can I get a "Whoa Bundy!" Pt 2 (Applegate auto)

Since it's Super Bowl Sunday, I won't even bother asking if you're ready for some football. I'll just assume your football readiness is riding high and get on with this post that sort-of-but-not-really features football cards. (And if you don't get a chance to read till Monday, well I suppose it works as a Valentine's Day post, too, since it has a lovely lady in it.)

Scoring myself an "Ed O'Neill as Al Bundy" football card auto had been a hobby goal of mine for a long time that I was able to check off last year with a Leaf/Pro Set card.

Since then, I wanted to grow my card collection of the Married... With Children cast, so I recently picked up a Christina Applegate autograph. Prices on her auto cards can be a steep, but I snagged one relatively discounted thanks to it being a dual-auto stickergraph coupled with a lesser celebrity. But it works great with my idea making a custom overlay for it.

I went through a few ideas for the overlay. I started out just searching for a hot photo of Christina. But man, there's no shortage of attractive photos of her out there! Tough to pick a favorite. I had a few contenders saved-- and tentatively was just going to use a nice, later picture in a simple overlay with only the pic and auto window, but then got the notion to do it as a "Kelly Bundy" custom in the '89 Pro Set style to match the "Al Bundy" card. So then I had to find an era-appropriate pic, landing on this one. I figured the locker room setting kinda helps it work as a "football card" (though it's really just a high school hallway, I think.

Like with all my "custom overlays", I don't alter the original card at all (otherwise I'd call it a "custom cut auto"), rather just print out "clothes" for it, lol. Here it is undressed. I vaguely know the name Antonio Sabato Jr, a male model turned tv personality/actor more known for his political comments these days, and have no qualms covering him up here and will just thank him for helping this card sell for a good chunk less than a Christina Applegate autograph typically goes for.

She's been a celebrity crush of mine since back in the day. Still lookin' great in middle-age, too. Breast cancer survivor; respect. In addition to Married, I've enjoyed seeing her in many other things too, such as the Anchorman movies. Turns out we've got similar taste in music: It's a stretch for a celebrity connection but Christina and I "saw a concert together" once, both attending a Jane's Addiction show in LA in '97 [She has a quick cameo in the tour film].

And she's married to a musician I'm a big fan of: Martyn LeNoble, probably best remembered as the bassist for Porno For Pyros when they had an alt-rock hit with the song "Pets" in 1993.

Since I've got half the Bundy clan, I figure I'll now keep an eye out for a good price on autos of Katey Sagal and David Faustino to round out the family. They both seem to have a few options on the market, so shouldn't be too tough. Expect to eventually see a sequel or two to this post!

Here's my dog Ruby to close us out today. She just wanted everyone to know how good at tug-of-war she is.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Custom Comeback (Dodger Dick Done Dirty)

A nice birthday gift from my wife this past December was getting the parts needed to get my desktop computer back up and running. That's where I do nearly all my custom-card work, and attempts to do so elsewhere just make me feel like I've got my dominant hand tied behind my back. So after the big move and a year and half of basically being sidelined from making customs, I've finally returned to messing around in Photoshop. It's been a blast creating cards again, and you readers can expect the blog to once again be peppered with customs going forward, likely resulting in an uptick of posting.

And here's the first output from my custom comeback. This one is actually more of a "reproduction" than a straight custom. Keith Olbermann, the celebrity baseball card insider and media personality, recently shared a photo of a couple proof cards from 1972 Topps that were changed before the set went to press.

Dick Allen is one of my top PC guys, so my eyes perked up when I saw the original proof for his 1972 Topps card featuring a terrific headshot with the Dodgers. I just had to whip up one for myself! Sure, it's not as cool as a real proof card, but I'm still very happy to have this card-that-should-have-been represented in my collection in some way.

The original proof is most likely blank-backed, but making a blanked-back card is against my nature, so I slightly tweaked the back of his actual '72 Topps card for my custom's back. The real write-up has a second sentence about the December 2, 1971 trade to the White Sox that I took out and replaced with a quote from Dodgers 3rd base coach Danny Ozark (who would manager Dick during his return to Philadelphia a few years later.)

Sadly, Topps was bent on being "current" as far as team designation, and clumsily shoehorned him into a "White Sox uniform" for 1972 by way of an old photo that had already been used to deceive collectors in 1970 into believing his Phillies colors were close enough to a Cardinals uniform. I wish they would have just bumped him into a later series and used a spring training photo, but nope, Series 2 (of 6). Topps rarely used profile portraits like this, so it was extra awkward the few times that they did. ( if putting that pic on a card once wasn't bad enough, but twice!) I think the shot was originally used way back in 1965 for his embossed insert in that year's Topps set (the one place where profile pics work fine, since it's basically like a coin image). Those embossed cards are known for featuring less-than-impressive likenesses, so it's tough to say the face is a match, but the back of his head, ear and neck all fit the reused photo 100% if you ask me. And it's obviously not a spring training photo, so it must've been taken no later than his ROY-winning season of '64.

Here, look: I made a gif (Yep, new gifs will also be making a comeback on my blog and Twitter account now that I'm getting back into the graphic design groove.)

So when Dick Allen was putting up triple-crown numbers in the South Side of Chicago at age 30 during his MVP season of '72, his bubblegum card being pulled from packs featured a (bad) photo of him as a 22-year old. Weak, Topps!

Here's what he really looked like in '72. Mustache, big sideburns, and eyeglasses. Looks more like the dad of the man pictured on his 1972 Topps card, LOL. And he had been wearing a batting helmet exclusively (never a cap) since the late 60s after experiences with fans in Philadelphia throwing things at him during games. So even the fact that he's pictured simply wearing a cap on his 1970 and 1972 baseball cards is wrong.

Old photos in 1968/1969 Topps are somewhat forgivable under the circumstances-- Marvin Miller trying to get the players better compensated, instructing them not to work with Topps until a better deal was struck-- but that was all worked out by the 70s. No excuse other than laziness and stupidity.

Poor guy. First Topps does him dirty during his playing days-- bad, recycled photos... and not having the decency to call him by his preferred name (a la Clemente).. also snubbing him twice at the end of his career when he should have been included in their sets-- And then he falls one vote short of the Hall, not once but then a second time (posthumously, thanks to covid).. Ouch! Nobody ever said life was fair, I guess. Oh well, I still enjoy collecting his cards, even if he continues to become more of a "tragic figure" as the slights continue to pile on. Heck, I've got solid PCs of Rod Beck and Ken Caminiti.. even Barry Bonds and Pete Rose. But those guys made poor choices; Dick wasn't to blame for most of the guff he got.

I got that Danny Ozark quote on the back of the custom from Dick's SABR bio. Kinda heartbreaking to learn that Dick grew up a Dodgers fan ("Putting on a Dodger uniform is something special for me," he was quoted as saying at the time. "My family, we used to go to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh every time the Dodgers would come there. And we lived 30 miles away.") and then they traded him away after just one year, apparently because he wasn't into all the off-the-field PR activities that owner Walter O’Malley expected of his squad, while Dick just wanted to focus on winning ball games. Similarly, while they loved him in the St. Louis stands and clubhouse, the Cardinals' front office felt differently and shipped him off after one year, too. (Let's not forget Allen's trade from Philly to St. Louis was the very consequential "Curt Flood trade" that helped bring about free agency in baseball.) You gotta think that Dick's career would be remembered better today if he hadn't bounced around as much; a minor ding that has narrowly managed to keep him out of the Hall, perhaps.

As I mentioned, Dick Allen was AL MVP in 1972, so his unfortunate '72 Topps card got some added significance to it that wasn't there when the card was first being pulled from packs. Later the card would be used in the 1975 Topps subset for past MVPs, as well as the 1982 Kmart MVP Series-- a card for which I've got a couple mask negatives from the Topps Vault used in the manufacturing (I think that's the magenta mask on the left, yellow on the right). I like these B&W versions more than the actual card (Kmart or '72 Topps), not just for the rarity, but also because the color scheme fits the White Sox better, lol.

At least Topps got a good photo of the reigning MVP the next year (and finally started calling him by his preferred first name). It's the only time during Dick's career that Topps pictured him at the plate. I would have liked to see a better look at his face, but Topps probably worried the drastic change in his appearance between his '72 and '73 baseball cards would cause kids' heads to explode, so they kindly eased card collectors of the early '70s into the reality of the situation, lol. (Funny enough, 1972 was the only year of his prime that Dick didn't get a Kellogg's card. Yep, the one year he wins MVP, his Topps card sucks and Kellogg's leaves him off the checklist completely! Wow) But yeah, 1973 Topps is arguably his nicest looking card. Well, actually no...

The big All-Star Rookie trophy on his 1965 Topps card helps make that one tough to beat. And his 1971 Topps card is pretty great too. It's a high number, otherwise it might be better known. It features a photo of Dick actually wearing a Dodgers uniform, no deception from Topps this time (Well, the back photo is a different story!), taken before the '71 season, perhaps even before spring training. You might be distracted by the photographer's knee, but note the dead grass on the field and an otherwise lifeless Dodger Stadium. That trade took place October 5, 1970. In fact, I suspect Topps or the photographer artificially made the sky bluer in the photo than it was that day. That would explain the weird outline around his shoulders. It was likely a dreary winter day but they wanted to make it look like spring or summer.

Anywho, I printed a few extras of my '72 custom in case anybody wanted to trade for a copy. On the topic of 1972 Topps, I'm still fittingly at 72% complete with my setbuild and would really love to complete it by the end of this year. Hey, it's the set's 50th anniversary, after all. Only 217 cards left for me to track down (mostly those damn high numbers). I'll trade you a copy of my '72 Dick Dodger custom for any 1972 Topps card I need-- not upgrade, please, but need. (unless we're talking about a star player or high number, in which case I'd happily extend the offer to "wanted upgrades", too). (Link to my 1972 Topps needs spreadsheet). Just let me know if you've got any of those needs and want to trade. (Not for sale, btw, only trading for '72 needs.)

Wow, this post was originally supposed to be like, "Hey, I made a Dick Allen custom"-- short and sweet-- but I guess this became a "deep dive" into that reused photo.

That's it for today, but more customs and a flat-rate box recap from John Miller are on the horizon. Thanks for reading.