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1975 Topps Customs

The 1975 Topps set went kinda crazy with the color combinations. I made my own template for this set, and it was fun playing with the different color/photo combinations.

All of these cards use the color combinations Topps actually used in ’75. I’m working on another post that will feature some of these cards with color combinations I created myself.

’73 Topps Template

I’ve always loved the basic, classic look of the 1973 Topps cards. I never had many of these back in the days when I collected cards, but the ones I did have were some of my favorites – especially the Roberto Clemente one (that card was another tragic flooding victim).

So last night I spent some time creating my own 1973 Topps Template. This Photoshop template is pretty detailed – it has all of the player position icons and the different color circles Topps used that year. I also had to make horizontal and vertical layout versions for this template, so that was a bit more work.

As I was testing the layout I used the two pics of Johnny Bench you see below. I also wanted to use this great pic of Hal McRae and Andy Etchebarren meeting at home plate. Sadly, Mr. Etchebarren passed away a few weeks ago. I remember having a lot of his cards when I was growing up.

Note: I should point out that none of these pics are actually from 1973. The vertical Bench pic is probably from 1970, before the Reds started playing their games at Riverfront Stadium. The horizontal pic is from the 1975 World Series, and the McRae/Etchebarren collision occurred during the 1970 World Series. If any of you were aware of this fact before reading this note, then…you are way more detail-oriented about this stuff than I am.

Anyway…here’s a card that does have a pic from 1973: first baseman Dan Driessen making sure the Mets’ Dave Schneck doesn’t steal second.

Custom Reds Set

This design is based on the wonderful “Brothers” typeface. Brothers was designed by John Downer and released through Emigre in 1999. You can read more about Brothers at the Font Review Journal (which is a fantastic resource for font enthusiasts).

This is a really simple design, but I kinda love the look of the Bench card in this set.

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.

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.”

’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 1970, 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.

Fred & Jack

In 1973, Fred Norman was 1-7 with the Padres in 1973. The Reds saw something they liked, though, and traded with the Padres to get him. Norman went on to pitch for the Reds through seven seasons and helped them win two World Series titles.

Jack Billingham came to the Reds in the same deal that brought Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, and Ed Armbrister to Cincy. He then became one of the most effective pitchers in World Series history. In seven games (including three starts), he went 2–0 with a 0.36 ERA,

This design was actually used for the 1982 Topps football cards, but I wanted to see how it would look for baseball. To be honest, I like these much more than the Topps baseball designs from ’82.

1969 & 1970 Templates

I’m working on a little project for a fellow member of Facebook’s Custom Baseball Cards group. I don’t like Facebook, but the community there has been very supportive and encouraging. I post designs there for feedback, and offer my own input on other people’s designs. If you’re into making your own cards, or just want to see a lot of amazing custom card designs, I recommend checking it out.

Part of the project I’m working on is to create PowerPoint templates for some old Topps designs. I’ve always worked in Photoshop, but some members of the group don’t have access to it. I’m also converting some old hockey card designs into PowerPoint, so don’t be too surprised if a few hockey cards show up here soon.

These two cards were my first creations with custom templates for the 1969 and 1970 Topps designs. I made these templates myself, 100% in Photoshop.

Fun Fact: Ken Griffey Sr. was on my first fantasy baseball team. This was before the internet was a thing. My college roommate & I subscribed to a baseball weekly and added up the stats by hand. I’m so old.

Eric the Red

During his peak years, Eric Davis was one of the most exciting ballplayers I’ve ever seen. I’ll always wonder what he could have been if his career hadn’t been cut short by injuries.

This is my first custom card for Eric, and I tried to make it look like some of the designs that were around during his playing days.

The other card is another custom for Johnny Bench. This one features one of Bench’s two Kennesaw Mountain Landis MVP awards.

I’m still working on my project for the 1919 Reds, by the way. Since we’re so close to the actual 100th anniversary of that series, I’ve decided to post the cards, along with some notes on each game, exactly 100 years to the day of each game as it was played. So, Game 1 will be posted on October 1st, and Game 8 will be posted on October 9.

No Runs, No Drips, No Errors

The first athlete’s autograph I ever acquired was Johnny Bench’s. He signed a little scrap of paper from my notebook when I was about 6 years old. I had that scrap for years, until our basement flooded and destroyed most of my collection. Sad day.

Johnny played for the Reds from 1967 to 1983 and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He was voted into the All-Star game 14 times, and twice won the National League’s MVP award. Bench and the legendary Big Red Machine of the ’70s won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two consecutive World Series championships. ESPN has even called him the greatest catcher in baseball history. I couldn’t agree more.

This design came together pretty quickly. I knew I wanted to do something with that square pattern once I saw it, and I haven’t given Johnny enough attention on these cards yet.

Where were you in ’77?

Here are the rest of the cards I created with the Topps 1977 template. I’ll definitely be making more of these in the future, but right now I’m focusing on making a few of my own custom card designs.

(Also, my sincere apologies go out to Brian O’Grady. Yesterday, I posted a rookie card for him…and then he got sent back to the minors. I’m a jinx.)

The Suarez card below reminds me of a card Topps made in ’76 for Kurt Bevacqua – the league’s bubblegum bubble-blowing champ.

It all started with Pete

Pete freakin’ Rose. What more could I say about the guy than what thousands of others have already said? For me, Rose was my first hero. He was the hardest working player on the field – a guy who took his talent and became a superstar through the sheer force of will.

When I was in first grade, I even got our school to host a “Pete Rose Day.” People wore their Reds hats and t-shirts…and not much else happened.

Years later, Pete Rose managed to add the dreaded asterisk next to all of his accomplishments on the field.

My baseball fandom will always be tied to Pete Rose in some form, though. He was the star of the team that first introduced me to the game. And no matter what has happened over the years, I’ll always have a bit of fondness for the guy. So, when I started making these cards, I knew I had to make some with Pete.

I decided to use my favorite card template (the 1977 Topps design) for these alternate Pete Rose cards.