1977 & 1978 Topps Football Remixes

Here’s a mix of some more football card designs turned into baseball card designs. The ’77 and ’78 sets were two of the ones I collected as a kid. Sadly, most of them were destroyed when our basement flooded.

The ’77 design is a classic, but the ’78 design is pretty bland, in my opinion. On the other hand, the ’77 design was a pain to recreate, but the ’78 design only took a few minutes.

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New Custom Cards

I love the 2019 MLB post-season logo, so I used it as the starting point for this design.

I created several different versions of this design before landing on this one. The placement of the name was the part that took the longest – I tried it at the top, on the left side, and then at the bottom. I chose the version with the red bar at the bottom, since it brings together the red from the home plate element.

I wanted to try this design with another team, just to see how the design holds up for other colors. So…here are the first non-Reds custom cards I’ve ever created.

Here are the 3 of the Astros:

I also created a couple of cards for the A’s:

And finally, I made a horizontal version of the card:

NOTE: Big thanks to Frank Jewett from Facebook’s Custom Baseball Cards group. Frank suggested a couple of small revisions that really improved the overall look of this design.

1964 Alternates

I can just imagine how this photo day went…

Photographer: “OK, guys…just stand there with your hands on your knees!”
Frank: “Um…why?”
Photographer: “‘Cause that’s what you ballplayers do.”
Pete: “Well, actually…the proper stance is to…”
Photographer: “I SAID HANDS ON KNEES!!!”
Frank & Pete: “Yeah, OK. Whatever.”

Miracle on Ice

“11 seconds…you’ve got 10 seconds…the countdown going on right now…Morrow, up to Silk…Five seconds left in the game.
Do you believe in miracles? YES!
– Al Michaels

I’m taking a break from the Reds today. In fact, I’m taking a break from the entire sport of baseball today.

I’ve been working on this hockey set for a while now. It’s a tribute to the members of the 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey Team. This is the team that won the famous “Miracle on Ice” game – a game that was voted as Sports Illustrated‘s top sports moment of the 20th century.

It’s my favorite single sporting event of all time. The design is based on the 1980 Topps hockey set, and includes a picture of Jim Craig’s actual gold medal.

This is the largest set I’ve ever done. There are 35 cards in all because I just couldn’t limit myself to one card for some of these players. There’s at least one card for every member of the team, plus one card for coach Brooks and one for Al Michaels’ legendary call of the game’s final seconds.

Custom Cards

I created this card design yesterday, and it was one of those times when all the pieces just kind of clicked right away. I usually keep tweaking and editing my designs until all the elements feel right, but this one seemed to work on the first try.

I know I’ve made a lot of cards for Senzel and VanMeter, but I’ve got a lot of hope for what these guys will do for the Reds. VanMeter should be an everyday player in 2020, and I’m hoping we see more of the “early 2019 Senzel” next year.

UPDATE: I got some valuable feedback on the original card designs from JT over at The Writer’s Journey and Frank Jewett from the Custom Baseball Cards Facebook group. Big thanks to both of these guys for helping me make improvements to this design.

’69 & ’70 Bobby Tolan

Here are a couple of alternate designs for the 1969 and 1970 Topps Bobby Tolan cards.

Tolan came to Cincy in 1969 as part of the Vada Pinson trade with the Cards. He was there during the formative years of the Big Red Machine, often hitting right behind Pete Rose. He lead the league in steals in 1970m and was the only other player to do that during Lou Brock’s reign from 1966 to 1974. In 1971, he tore his ACL playing basketball (which was a violation of his contract).

Tolan grew a beard in ’73 and was suspended by the team. That off-season, the Reds traded him to the Padres for Clay Kirby.

I added a re-design of the 1970 Tolan card. I changed the gray border to red and switched the font & font color on the team name.

Castillo & Votto Customs

When I found the Luis Catillo picture, I knew I had to do something with it. So I immediately started working on a design that, I hoped, would bring more focus on the photo than the other design elements.

Then I found the Votto pic yesterday, and it seemed like a natural fit for the same design. I’d love to add more cards to this series, but I don’t think it will be easy to find more photos with this same style.

Custom Reds Designs

Here are a couple of my recent custom designs for a pair of great Reds outfielders.

With the Davis card, I was working with the idea of including more statistical info on the front of the card. The Foster card was an experiment with Photoshop’s “darken” feature.

I really liked the way these turned out. They’re kinda different than most of the cards out there (that I’m aware of, at least), but I think full team sets of these would look pretty cool.

What do you think?

2019 “Highlights”

The Reds’ 2019 season didn’t end the way I wanted it to, of course, but it wasn’t without its share of highlights. I created these 3 cards, based on Topps’ 1975 Highlights series, to honor my three favorite things about this season.

Aquino’s 2019 is one of my all-time favorite seasons by any player, ever. They way he burst into the majors was an amazing thing to witness.

And when Garrett charged at the Pirates’ dugout, he gave us a bit of hope that there was still some life in this team.

And Geno’s record-breaking home run pace down the stretch kept things interesting even when the playoffs were well out of reach. He set new records for the number of home runs in a season by National League third basemen, and also broke the record for most homers in a season by a Venezuelan.

I posted two of these on Facebook’s Custom Baseball Cards group the other day, so I thought I’d throw ’em all up here.

These cards use the same colors as the 1975 Highlights cards for Bob Gibson, Al Kaline & others. How in the world did Topps come up with this color scheme in 1975?

1919 Project – Game 8

Whatever Lefty Williams had been told by the mysterious “Harry” made its impression. In the first inning, throwing nothing but mediocre fastballs, Williams gave up four straight one-out hits. He allowed three runs before Kid Gleason relieved him with “Big” Bill James, who allowed one more of Williams’ baserunners to score. It was 4-0 after the 1st inning.

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson hit the only homer of the Series in the third inning, but it came after the Reds had built a 5–0 lead. Jackson led all players with his .375 average, but most of his offensive potency came in games that weren’t fixed, or when the game seemed out of reach. Jackson had 12 hits overall, which was a World Series record at that time.

Although the Sox rallied in the 8th inning, the Reds came away with a 10–5 victory for a 5-games-to-3 Series win.

The Cincinnati Reds had won their first World Championship in their very first Fall Classic appearance.

Immediately after the Series ended, rumors were rife from coast to coast that the games had been thrown.

Journalist Hugh Fullerton of the Chicago Herald and Examiner, disgusted by the display of ineptitude with which the White Sox had “thrown” the series, wrote that no World Series should ever be played again.

An investigation into the Series resulted in several of the “Black Sox” publicly admitting their roles in fixing the games.

The public’s trust in the game was eroding, and the owners knew they had to take a decisive action. They soon hired respected federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to become the first commissioner of baseball.

Although a jury acquitted the players of any wrongdoing (mostly because of evidence that mysteriously disappeared), Commissioner Landis issued the following statement:

Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player that throws a ball game; no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ball game; no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and
gamblers where the ways and means of throwing ball games are planned and discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.”

– Kenesaw Mountain Landis

The infamous “Eight Men Out” – Eddie Cicotte, Chick Gandil, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Lefty Williams, Hap Felsch, Swede Risberg, and Fred McMullin – would never play in the major leagues again.

In 1920, Cincinnati finished the season with a record of 82-71, finishing in third place in the National League. They wouldn’t win another World Series until 1940.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading along with these day-by-day reports on the 100th anniversary of this scandalous World Series. I’d especially like to thank the members of Facebook’s Custom Baseball Cards Group. They provided valuable feedback on the original card designs and encouraged me to dive deeper into this Reds team. I thoroughly enjoyed digging up more info on the 1919 Series and the players involved, and I hope you enjoyed it, too.

Taking out the trash

The 1919 Project ends tomorrow with Game 8. With that post, all of the cards for the 1919 Reds will have been posted. The only problem with this series of posts is that I’ve been creating a ton of new custom designs and alternate cards that I haven’t been able to post yet.

Along with all of the new designs I’ve created recently, I’ve also created quite a few that, for one reason or another, just didn’t make the cut. For some, I decided to use the photos elsewhere. For others, I decided to use different players who were actually playing at that time. Others just…didn’t work.

I’ve decided to post all of those rejected designs here in one big gallery. You might be seeing some of these pics in future posts, and you’ll definitely be seeing some of these templates used in the future.

1919 Project – Game 7

Despite the rumors already circulating about Cicotte’s erratic performances in Games 1 and 4, White Sox manager Kid Gleason showed faith in his ace for Game 7. This time, the knuckleballer did not let him down.

Chicago scored early and, for once, it was Cincinnati that committed the errors. The Reds threatened only briefly in the sixth before losing 4–1, and suddenly the Series was relatively close again. This did not go unnoticed by gamblers Sullivan and Rothstein, who were suddenly very worried about their investments.

Before the Series started, the Sox had been strong favorites and few doubted they could win two games in a row—presuming that they were trying to win. Rothstein had been too smart to bet on individual games, but had about $270,000 riding on Cincinnati to win the Series.

The night before Game 8, Lefty Williams—the scheduled starter—was supposedly visited by an associate of Sullivan’s known only as “Harry.” Harry left no doubt that if Williams failed to blow the game in the first inning, he and his wife would be in serious danger.

1919 Project – Game 6

The Series reverted to Cincinnati for Game 6. Dickie Kerr, starting again for the White Sox, was less dominant than he had been in Game 3.

With the help of three Chicago errors, the Reds jumped out to a 4–0 lead before Chicago fought back. The Sox tied the game at 4–4 in the sixth, and that remained the score into extra innings. In the top of the tenth, scandal architect Chick Gandil drove in Buck Weaver to make it 5–4. Kerr closed it out to record his—and Chicago’s—second win.

For the Reds, Greasy Neale went 3-for-4 and pitcher Jimmy Ring game up only 1 run in 5 innings. The Reds’ Dutch Reuther, the hero of Game 1, gave up 4 earned runs in only 5 innings.

1919 Project – Game 5

Game 5 was postponed by rain for a day. Both starters, Lefty Williams and Cincinnati’s Hod Eller, pitched well at first – neither allowed a runner past first until the top of the sixth. That’s when Eller himself hit a blooper that fell between Felsch and Jackson. Felsch’s throw was off-line, sending Eller all the way to third.

Leadoff hitter Morrie Rath then hit a single over the drawn-in infield, scoring Eller. Heinie Groh walked before Edd Roush’s double—the result of more suspicious defense from Felsch—brought home two more runs, with Roush scoring next.

Eller pitched well enough (he struck out nine batters, including a then-World Series record six in a row) for the four runs to stand up. The Reds had now won 4 games.

In any other year, this would have ended the series. But 1919 was different. Due to the intense post-war interest, the commissioner of baseball had decided to extend this Fall Classic to a best-of-nine affair.

Even with this being a 9-game series, the Reds were only one game away from their first world championship.

1919 Project – Game 4

On October 4, the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox played Game 4 of the 1919 World Series at Comiskey Park in front of 34,363 fans.

Eddie Cicotte, the Game 4 White Sox starter, was determined not to look as bad as he had in Game 1. For the first four innings, he and Reds pitcher Jimmy Ring matched zeroes. With one out in the fifth, Cicotte fielded a slow roller by Pat Duncan but threw wildly to first for a two-base error. The next man up, Larry Kopf, singled to left; Cicotte cut off the throw from Jackson and fumbled the ball, allowing Duncan to score.

The home crowd was stunned by the veteran pitcher’s obvious mistake, and those who were wondering if the series was crooked now had more evidence.

Next, Cicotte gave up a double to Greasy Neale. This scored Kopf to make it 2–0. The Reds had scored 2 runs in the inning off 2 errors by Cicotte. That was enough of a lead for Ring, who threw a three-hit shutout of his own to match Kerr’s gem in Game 3. The Reds now led the Series 3–1.

Chicago manager Kid Gleason was stunned by his team’s loss. “Itwas nothing but hard luck that beat the White Sox,” he said. “I don’t believe that all of the luck in the Series can be on one side.”

Later that evening, gambler “Sport” Sullivan came through with $20,000 for the Black Sox players, which Gandil split equally among Risberg, Felsch, and Williams, who was due to start Game 5 the next day.

Pat Duncan is credited with hitting the first home run to go out of the park at Redland Field, but John Beckwith of the Negro National League’s Chicago Giants hit one out a month earlier.

Ring & Neale were both traded to the Phillies after the 1920 season in the deal that brought Eppa Rixey to the Reds.

1919 Project – Game 3

The third game of the 1919 World Series took place on October 3rd at Comiskey Park in Chicago. 29,126 fans attended the game, and were able to see the White Sox snag one of their few victories in the series.

Prior to Game 3, some of the Black Sox promised the gamblers they wouldn’t win behind rookie Dickie Kerr – they’d save their wins for vets like Cicotte and Williams. The plan was for the Black Sox conspirators, who disliked Kerr, to lose this game.

Kerr, however, was clearly not in on the fix. But because many players had not yet received any money, the whole scheme was in disarray. One of Rothstein’s men gathered the last of his resources to bet on Cincinnati. It was a decision that would leave him broke.

Chicago scored early when primary conspirator Chick Gandil drove in two runs. The tough lefty Kerr was masterful, holding the Reds to only three hits as he pitched a 3–0 complete game shutout.

The Reds’ Ray Fisher was credited with the loss, despite giving up only 2 earned runs in 7 innings. Cuban-born Adolfo Domingo De Guzmán “Dolf” Luque pitched a masterful inning of relief, but it was too little, too late. As a blue-eyed, fair-skinned, white Cuban, Luque was one of several white Cubans to make it in Major League Baseball at a time when non-whites were excluded. He would later be enshrined in the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, and the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

The White Sox had finally won a game, but the plan to throw the series was in disarray. The players themselves weren’t sure who was trying to win and who wasn’t, and nobody really knew what would happen next.

1919 Project – Game 2

White Sox manager Kid Gleason didn’t have to look far for reasons why his ace, Eddie Cicotte, would have thrown Game 1. The $10,000 Cicotte received from Rothstein’s men was almost double the paltry salary he received from the White Sox in 1919. Cicotte’s salary was also barely half that of Reds starter Dutch Reuther. 

Two days before the Series, the odds were 8-5 in favor of the White Sox. By the start of Game 1, the odds were even. By the start of Game 2, the odds were 5-7 against the Sox.

There were 800 fewer attendees for the second game. This was blamed on Reds fans who had stayed up too late and drank too much the night before. 

Game 2 of the 1919 World Series took place on October 2nd. Cincinnati’s starting pitcher, Slim Sallee, tossed a 4-2 Game 2 victory that was sealed by Larry Kopf’s two-run triple in the fourth. The victory was especially gratifying for Sallee, who had lost two World Series games to the White Sox just two years earlier as a member of the New York Giants.

Game 2 was a typical game of the Reds’ “small ball” approach – they managed to turn 4 hits into 4 runs. Their efforts were aided by Chicago’s starting pitcher, Lefty Williams, giving up 6 walks in 8 innings.

Although the Black Sox had not received their money (except for Cicotte), the players were still willing to go through with the fix. Lefty Williams wasn’t quite as obvious about the fix as Cicotte, though. After a slightly shaky start, Williams pitched well until the fourth inning, when he walked three and gave up as many runs.

After that rough inning Williams became virtually unhittable again, giving up only one more run. A lack of clutch-hitting (with Chick Gandil a particularly guilty party) led to a 4–2 White Sox loss.

After losing Game 2, White Sox catcher Ray Schalke attacked pitcher Lefty Williams beneath the stands. Schalke kept punching Williams until other players eventually pulled him off. Schalke had seen exactly what Williams had done from the mound to throw the game.

Rothstein’s intermediaries were still in no mood to pay up afterwards, but Gandil managed to get $10,000 from them and distributed it among the conspirators.

These Black Sox were no strangers to scandal. In 1917, the White Sox participated in another, lesser-known game-fixing arrangement. The Chicago players paid $45 each to a pair of Detroit Tigers pitchers to throw a crucial series against Boston.

It’s somewhat ironic that the Black Sox scandal involved this particular Reds squad. Just a year earlier, in 1918, Reds manager Christy Mathewson played a large role in getting rid of the notorious game fixer Hal Chase. 

Following Game 2, the teams boarded trains headed to Chicago’s Comiskey Park for Game 3 the next day. This train ride included journalist Ring Laudner’s infamous rendition of “I’m Forever Blowing Ballgames”, which was immortalized in the movie “Eight Men Out.”

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