All posts by Steve

Moving Cards and Stuff like Books and 1975 Baseball Cards

I’m about to move. It’s a “small” move from one room to another. Small is in quotes because whenever you move a room’s worth of things from point A to point B, you still have to pack and unpack. It’s just the actual moving distance is shorter.

Moves are also about clearing things out. So I’m sorting through stuff.

I mostly collect 1975 cards and related stuff. One interesting thing is finding books that relate to what you collect. There’s a lot of stuff like this book.

Sports as Reported by the New York Times. The book ends in 1975 and ends on Oct 1st just days away from the 1975 world series.

It’s a huge book. You can read all this stuff online, but paging through it is a different experience. I’ll hang on to it for a while.

Mail Call: 2017 Opening Day

Opening Day is about starting fresh. For me that means catching up, which starts with writing.

And the first thing I needed to write about is a very generous card care package from Fuji. Queue Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show thank you writing music…

First up is Johnny Bench from the 2010 Topps Vintage Legends set (I don’t know why 2002 Topps is printed on the card). I have a card from this set because it’s a 1975 look-alike with Babe Ruth.

The Bench card has a familiar photo. It was also used in the 2011 Topps Lineage Mini set. I’m looking for his mini card so if anyone has one to trade then, you know, get in touch.

The backs tell us how these players would rank against future players. Apparently good enough to keep the legend status intact.

I also have a couple 1991 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes cards, but hadn’t seen this one:


This went right in the 1975 theme folder. The back tells us Joe was so awesome in 1975 that he was named MVP. Then he did it again in 1976. There’s also mention of Ernie Banks as the only other NL player with back-to-back MVP years.

I like Then & Now cards. And I also like the Father & Son sets. Here’s one of Tony Perez and son Eduardo:

In 1982, Topps produced parallel cards for the Reds and Red Sox team sets. The packs had 3 player cards plus a team “header card” with the team name and a Topps ad on the back. The Oddball Collector’s complete write-up covers other differences between the base and Coca-Cola sets.

Fuji included a couple of these Coke cards. Here Dave Concepcion and Dan Driessen are next to their younger 1975 selves:



The signatures are similar, but a little different. What else is different? You’ve got caps vs. batting helmets. Dan moved to first base by 1982. Topps added their logo. There’s the Coke logo, which I like. The Red Sox version also included a Bringham’s logo. It starts to look like Times Square with all the branding.

The 1982 base set has a green back, but the Coke versions are red, which works much better for a Reds or Red Sox theme.

Speaking of themes, are you sensing one yet? The package was full of Reds and Red Sox players and logo stickers.

Who doesn’t like stickers? First up are three Fleer Cloth Patches. Are these stickers or patches or both? I don’t know. They were made between the late 60’s and mid-70’s.

The Fleer Sticker Project blog is my go to for Fleer Sticker info. There’s a post about the Reds patches, where I learned there are at least 3 variations of this one:

The other two patches were coming off the backing paper:

That was fine because unlike cards, stickers are meant to be stuck on things. These didn’t stick, but that’s ok because they slid in the binders:

The rest of the stickers might also go on a binder — ones like this one from the 2001 Opening Day Set (Topps first foray into baseball card stickers):

Then there’s this 1989 Fleer sticker:

It has some historical information on the back. I’m not familiar with 1980’s Red Sox history, so had to check on the Joe Morgan reference. It’s not that Joe Morgan from the Reds.

And it wasn’t just logos, but also uniforms:

Here’s the last sticker, a 1991 Upper Deck Reds Hologram. It’s a super cool cross between the Reds logo and Ghostbusters:

There were a few more cards, but I need to wrap this up. Thanks Fuji for the cards and your most excellent attitude. You’re the best!

1975 Topps Military Service for Veteran’s Day

This is a 1975 Topps-style tribute to the service men and women who’ve served to protect all of us.

On this Veteran’s Day, I’m sharing five cards from the set that pay homage to ballplayers’ military service. I like that Topps included those stats on the card backs.

Garry Maddox – Card No. 240

Garry served two years in the United States Army from 1969 to 1970 in Vietnam.


Al Bumbry – Card No. 358

Al also served in the United States Army. He led a platoon in Vietnam and was awarded a Bronze Star.


Dave Goltz – Card No. 419

Dave served in the Army Reserve when called to duty in 1969 to be a helicopter mechanic.


Ed Figueroa – Card No. 476

Ed joined the United States Marine Corps and did a tour in Vietnam in the 1969 season.


Jerry Terrell – Card No. 654

Jerry served in Vietnam in 1969.

There are other players from the set who weren’t acknowledged on the ’75 cards primarily because they who served but before they started playing in the majors. These included Bill Campbell, who “saw combat duty in Viet Nam as a radio operator” according to the back of his 1980 Topps card; Jim Bibby, a truck driver in Vietnam; plus others like Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan who served in the Reserves.

Their contributions like the countless non-ballplayers are in our thoughts today.

Blog Inspirations: A Cracked Bat and 1991 Petro Canada

I didn’t expect to be away from writing for so long, but sometimes life throws you curveballs.

Luckily this isn’t a paid gig so any pressure to produce content is solely my own. I’ve gotten over feeling forced to post often. That keeps this a fun hobby and not a drag. I write because I like it and if someone reads and comments, that’s icing (and I like that too). Anyways…

Two things happened during this time and they’re both related to Julie from A Cracked Bat blog. Thing one is she was nice and posted a welcome comment on a blog I started on Blogger earlier this year (and also put on hold).

The reason I read baseball card blogs is it leads to inspiration and discovery. So thing two is Julie wrote a post about getting some cards in the mail. These included Petro Canada oddballs that really caught my eye – they’re 3D pop outs. How cool is that?

I checked COMC and they had a bunch (see 1991 Petro-Canada All Star FanFest Stand-Ups). They’re not super cheap but also not that expensive (except for players with a single card for sale, which are hit by limited supply price distortion).

So I tagged a George Brett on my watch list to mull it over. But eventually I had a flash of insight about how I could really fit one into my collection: a 1975 tribute card.

The back of Carlton Fisk’s card has this one-liner: “Hit dramatic game winning  HR in ’75 World Series against Cincinnati” – it’s an important one-liner. Plus it’s Carlton Fisk in 3-D! So I clicked buy and the rest is history.

I haven’t brought myself to convert it into 3-D mode so if you want to see one opened up, that’s a good reason to meander over to Julie’s post that started this.

I also wasn’t able to find much about these cards until I hit a dormant blog’s post. Apparently these were handed out at the 1991 All Star Game in Toronto (now the name of this series makes sense).

Thanks Julie for your blog, I really enjoy reading it!


Book Review: 1975 Red Sox

When you’re a kid, you end up in places because that’s where your parents go. One of my favorites was the mall, where I’d plow through stuff at toy shops and play video games. Eventually, I’d end up at B. Dalton’s, a bookstore chain that existed before Amazon took over. There I’d chase down Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Grownup books weren’t on my agenda, but if I got bored I’d look at books with a lot of photos. 1975 Red Sox: American League Champions would’ve been one of those books that would capture my attention – it has 218 photos within its 127 pages.


Ray Sinibaldi saw 1975’s World Series in person including games 6 and 7. Ray has a trove of photo negatives from 1975 and he’s generously shared them with the world. Ray is a teacher, a writer, and a baseball fan who loves the Red Sox. This trifecta of a background is the secret ingredient that makes his book such an enjoyable read.

Hall of Famer Fred Lynn leads off with a reflective and heartfelt foreword about the experience and teamwork.

Fred Lynn’s SSPC card (photo from the 1975 season)

“Freddy was my first choice, as in 1975 he was the MVP and the Rookie of the Year. It had never happened before and has happened only once since,” Ray recalled. “I contacted him and within an hour I received a response that he would do it… His foreword speaks for itself and he was perfect for the job.”


The book traces the Red Sox path to the 1975 World Series with photographs busting out right from the first chapter, The Bridge Between Two Pennants (1967 and 1975). It’s the Ocean’s 11 equivalent of a baseball documentary where we meet the crew that aims to pull off the heist of the century.

You get to know the 1975 team as they’re built over the years through trades and rookies joining. This is what they looked like on baseball cards at the time…

Jim Rice came up through the Red Sox farm system, Luis Tiant and Rick Miller joined in 1971, and Carlton Fisk arrived in 1972 (then dealt with injuries). Reggie Smith was traded away for Rick Wise and Bernie Carbo in 1973, Dwight Evans and Bill Lee arrived in 1973, and Jim Rice started in August of 1974 followed within 18 days by Fred Lynn and another rookie, Rick Burleson.

Ray shares many candid shots – ones you won’t find on most baseball cards – like the brawl between the Red Sox and Yankees (with Carlton Fisk in a choke hold by Gene Michael).

Chapter 2 digs into the 1975 season. Denny Doyle joins in June through a trade. Manager Darrell Johnson shows up in this chapter along with action shots of Doug Griffin, Juan Beniquez, Bob Heise, Rogelio Moret, Tim Blackwell and Cecil Cooper. I didn’t find Tim McCarver mentioned but he played in 1975 so he’s included.

What are Angels doing in my Red Sox card stash? The Angels traded Heise for Tommy Harper in Dec. 1974, and Doyle in 1975 for Chuck Ross and some cash.

Chapter 3 covers the Pennant games and the 1975 World Series (which many view as one of the best ever). To this day, game 7 is still the most watched of any World Series TV broadcast.

The photos in this chapter alone are worth the price of admission. But the stories are also a fun read, like rookie-year Fred Lynn recalling his sleepless night walking the streets of Boston before a big game.

Here’s a final set of Red Sox that played in the 1975 World Series: Reggie Cleveland, Diego Segui, Dick Drago, Dick Pole, Bob Montgomery, Jim Burton, and Jim Willoughby

I also learned some random history lessons like how Hurricane Eloise dumped 5 inches of rain on Fenway Park. Some clever groundskeepers had to dry it out. I found a link to a Harvard Crimson new story about the hurricane’s impact. It’s a weird experience reading an actual 1975 news story online.

Chapter 4 ends with a focus on Luis Tiant and some poignant shots with his father. It’s a great finish to a book that perfectly blends my interests of 1975 baseball and historical photographs.



I had a chance to ask Ray some questions…

Q: I read that many photos in the book were from discarded 35mm negatives. Can you share more about that and did you take any of the photos in the book yourself when you attended games?

Ray: I have been collecting photos since I was a kid in 1967. The idea for the book came from my first Arcadia book in 2012, Images of Fenway Park and then I came across the discarded negatives of both the 1967 and 1975 season. This led to my 1967 and 1975 books. I did not take any photos during the games in 1975. However a friend took a couple outside Fenway with Luis. My best guess about the negatives becoming available: when newspapers sent photographers to cover games they would send a couple and each would take probably hundreds of photos. Maybe four or five would go out over the wire and the rest would be archived. As we move to digitization negatives become obsolete and are sold off and thus resold. I have about 125 negative strips with four or five photos in each. Then I became a history detective…Great fun.

Q: Are any photos in color?

Some of my collection is in color but the Arcadia series calls for black and white. However, I am under contract to deliver a book in 2018 called “Modern Images of Fenway Park”… 90% of those will be in color and I have taken many of them.

Q: I understand you got a season ticket in 1975. Was that tough to get?

Not at all. In 1972 my brother and I bought a package that were for Sundays, Holidays and opening day. It included access to playoffs and World Series games.

Q: The Tiant ending was pleasant surprise. What made you end the book that way?

I have been a proponent for Luis election to the Hall of Fame since Catfish Hunter was elected in 1987. They were contemporaries and I saw both of them pitch, often. Catfish is a worthy inductee. As a baseball historian, I went to work and found that Luis career can be laid upon the careers of Catfish, Don Drysdale and Jim Bunning. They are nearly identical. Add in Luis post season performances and it adds to his credentials. Since the inception of sabermetrics into the discussion of Hall of Fame consideration and it elevates his career. I met Luis back in 2004 when he was inducted into the pitchers portion of the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame in Hernando FL (now at Tropicana Field in Tampa). And a few years ago I reconnected with him at the Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice FL. (photo page 125). I learned on that day that he is as great a guy as he was a pitcher and I also came to realize what it would mean to him to take his rightful place in Cooperstown.

I have been going to Fenway Park since 1959, I have seen a lot in my day and I will unequivocally tell you that if I had to win ONE GAME and could choose a pitcher it would be Luis Tiant. If you want to watch what he is made of, YouTube the fourth game of the 1975 World Series. The Sox were down two games to one and on the road. Watch this 169 pitch complete game effort and you will see the measure of the man, the competitor, the teammate. It is the best pitched game I’ve ever seen and after you watch it I would love to talk about it with you. The last chapter is my tribute to him and I hope it may wake up a few voters.

Q: Do you experience any connections between your day-job at the Youth Ranch and the writing you do?

Ray: I am fortunate enough to burn with a passion for both endeavors. American philosopher Joseph Campbell said “Pursue your bliss.” If you do, you will never work for a living. I am blessed as a result of being immersed in my bliss in both of these aspects of my life… I never work.


I’m grateful that Ray decided to write this fun and educational book. You can follow him at his blog fenwaypark100.

1975 Baseball’s Six Degrees of Separation Fuji Style

Fuji of The Chronicles of Fuji, threw down a challenge / contest with a post at the start of February. It’s a great idea – connect a player to another through cards by way of the six degrees of separation concept.

It’s been a tough month to find time to post but I was able to eke this out. So here’s my take on Fuji’s idea – a card journey that starts with 1975 Topps.

I start with Card #1 of 1975 Topps: Hank Aaron’s landmark setting record documented on a card. It’s the first place I’d start for many reasons. It had meaning not only for baseball but also for social reasons. Plus the event and the trying time leading up to it speaks to Hank Aaron’s character.

The first connection is to Al Downing, the pitcher that Aaron hit his 715th record setting home run.

Tom House is the guy who caught the ball – here’s his recollection about it. House was born in Seattle Washington and coincidentally he also made his last MLB appearance with the Seattle Mariners. House gave the ball back to Aaron, his Atlanta Braves team mate (there were players positioned in the stands to catch it).

After retiring House coached for the San Diego Padres, the team that Dave Winfield started playing on in the majors. And out of all the players in the 1975 Topps set – Winfield’s the one who played the longest, retiring in 1995. Nobody from the set lasted until 1995.

George Brett also started his MLB career in 1973. Here’s a young and older Brett. He played for one team during his whole career. He retired on October 3, 1993.

And tying it back to 1975 Topps, Robin Yount retired on the same exact date that George Brett retired. Like Brett, he also played on one team, his entire career, the Milwaukee Brewers. He was the final 1975 Topps player (that was also Hank Aaron’s teammate) to retire.

Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Charlie Williams 98 (#18)


When I think of baseball players from the 70’s, I picture them as seen in their photos from the 1975 Topps set.

And that’s the way it was… until I caught a glimpse of some SSPC cards that were unique in all sorts of ways. I got the whole set and my world view of how baseball players should’ve looked in ’75 changed.

The Charlie Williams that I saw at my local mini-mart had with straight hair but he’d already transformed into some serious curls that year. It took until 1978 Topps Charlie Williams to ditch the perm.

This dusk shot of Williams captures the sun setting at the ballpark so well that it transcends being just a card.  It makes me feel like I’m in the middle of a warm summer night

Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Darrell Porter 232 & Jim Colburn 226 (#20)

Facial Hair.

When think of the 70’s, I think of facial hair.  And there’s a bunch of it in the 1975 Topps Set.

But there are players like Darrell Porter who are clean shaven in the Topps set but have a lot more hair on their SSPC card – like Darrell’s horseshoe mustache. If Topps Porter ran into SSPC Porter in a bar, I don’t think he’d want to start any trouble with himself.

Like Porter and Munson, Jim Colburn was clean shaven on his 1975 card but sporting a twirly mustache on the SSPC.


Finding the SSPC set was like unearthing photographs of people you’ve known all your life and discovering their wild and crazy side.