Thursday, November 20, 2014

1995 Topps Jack Morris

I wasn't born quite early enough to remember Jack Morris as a Detroit Tiger, but I do remember him with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was a great pitcher, and I remember him winning 20 games for the Jays and helping them to 2 World Championship trophies. If the strike hadn't happened in 1994, it could've been 4 in a row and 5 overall (He pitched 10 shutout innings in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series with the Minnesota Twins to win the title, and his 1994 Cleveland Indians team was one of the strongest in the majors that year).

I personally think the Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame, especially after doing the research for this card. He won 250+ games, if he would've played 3 more seasons and been healthy, he would've had an outside shot at 300 wins, and maybe 3,000 strikeouts. One of the many problems I have with the Hall of Fame is that they base their membership on accumulated stats. For pitchers, it's 300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts. For hitters, it's 500 home runs or 3,000 hits. The problem with that is that if an average player plays in 20+ seasons, they can get close to any of those numbers. Heck, if Joe Carter played in 6 or so more seasons, he would've been close to those numbers. So Jack Morris gets penalized just because he didn't hit the 300 win total. News flash: Back in the 60's players played more seasons in their careers. Now in the '90's and '00's, we have 5-man rotations, players are getting pinch-hit for more often, and the players are making so much money, that they would rather retire than play a few seasons into their 40's. That wasn't the case 40-60 years ago, and players needed all the money they got, so they often had second jobs in the off-season, and many of them played into their 40's and put up those extra 50-100 home runs that pushed them over the 500 mark. Baseball is different now, and we need to accept that, and put players in the Hall because of how good they were during THEIR era, not if they compare with Mickey Mantle, Roy Campanella, or Bob Gibson's numbers. So what if a pitcher has an ERA close to 4.00? That is pretty decent nowadays, and you can have an ERA of 3.75 and still give your team a chance to win 70% of the games you start. I think Morris put up excellent numbers for his era, and he was the go-to pitcher (if not, the ace) of 4 World Series winning teams. He is a Hall of Famer in my book, and I hope the writers who vote realize that (the fact that writers, and not fans or former players get to vote is beyond me, and I'll save that for another post).

Topps gave Morris a card in their 1994 Traded set, but not in 1995. I like how this one turned out, and I think it's a good sunset card of Jack Morris.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

How to make a custom card

Recently, a reader named Paul left a comment on one of my posts saying that he also wanted to make custom cards that never were, and was primarily focusing on players from 1990-1994 who never had cards, and asked if I had any templates available. That got me thinking, and I decided to make a post with a few basic templates and tips on how to make a custom card. Even though this blog is called "TOPPS cards that never were", I decided to make some templates with the 1991 Donruss and 1992 Upper Deck designs, just because those are really the only card designs that had fronts and backs that didn't have different colors for every team in the league.

I typically use Microsoft Paint while making my customs, but I also have GIMP, which is a great photo program similar to Photoshop (I just haven't toyed with GIMP much), and if you have Photoshop, I'm sure you can make some amazing customs with it. I'm going to go through how to make a custom in Paint, just becuase most computers have it, and you can get similar programs on a Mac.

In Paint, the tool I use the most, is the Select tool, which is the tool on the top row on the right. You can use it to select a part of a drawing, and cut it, move it, copy or paste it. I usually use multiple windows of Paint at the same time, which allows me to copy and paste things easier. I would go ahead and open 2 windows of Paint. In the first one, open your template (let's go with the 1991 Donruss Series 1). You can just right click the templates I made and save them as whatever is easy for you to remember.

Now you need to pick which player you are going to use. I am going to do Jeff Bagwell for this one. Once you decide that, you need a photo. I usually find photos by googling a player+ a year that I need or a team that I need, and usually that works. For some cards, I have to find a picture from a Major or Minor League card. works well for that, as well as I would try to find a photo that is around the same size as the card that you are working with (bigger ones or smaller ones look all grainy and crappy when you resize them), and one that you don't have to do much touch-up work to (erasing a watermark, blurring out an autograph, etc.). Once you have found a picture, open that up in your other window of Paint. Select the entire picture, and copy it.
On the bottom of your tool window, it will have the top box highlighted blue. This means anything you paste will completely cover something you put it over. Highlight the box under it. This will make everything except the background (anything white) cover something you put it over.
On the '91 Donruss template, make the window big enough to fit another '91 Donruss card, the original one, and the new picture. Paste the picture in the white area to the right of the card, and select the card and copy it. Paste the 2nd card under the original card.
Then take the picture, copy it, and place it over the first card so it covers the area where you want it to be. You may have to re-size it a little, but that's fine.
Then copy the 2nd card (the one underneath the original, and now all you have to do is place it over the picture, center it, and you should have a custom card (you may want to zoom in when doing so). Go ahead and re-size the edges so it matches up with the edges of the card (using the blue squares in the corners and middles of the Paint screen).
If you want to put a logo on the card (like Rated Rookie, or the '91 Donruss logo), just open up the logo template, select the logo you want, copy, and paste it on the card where you want (with the bottom box highlighted blue, of course).

As far as team logos, offers a variety of team/league logos.
For the name, on a card like a '91 Donruss where it slants, you can do 1 of 2 things. If you know how to work GIMP or Photoshop, I believe it is relatively simple to do it on there, so just open the card on that program and make the changes. Or you can write each individual letter, and place it where you want it on the card, using the "ABC" tool (again with the bottom box highlighted blue). This will make it a little staggered, but sometimes, if you don't have any other choice, that's what you have to do, and that's what I did for this one. Also, to get everything lined up like it did, I selected each letter, moved it, and repeated until they all were done. Then I used the select color tool (the one that looks like a dropper), selected the red color on the stripe with the name, and then painted red on any parts of the stripe that were white after I moved the letters. Then I did the same thing with the blue (moved the letters on the position into place, used the select color tool, selected the blue stripe color, and re-painted any white). I used Arial for the font, sized 10, and made it bold for the name, and Arial font, size 7, not bold for the position. (in the font box at the top of the Paint screen, you can change the font type, size, and stuff. If you highlight the size of the font, you can type in what size you need if you don't see it listed.

Now that the front is done, save the front. If you want to make a back, it's relatively simple. Just open the file for the Series 1 back, type the player name/bio, enter the stats, enter some career highlights, and give it a number.
For Bagwell, since he didn't play in MLB in 1990, he would only get 1 line for stats. All you need to do to fix this is select the area below the stat box, keep going till you hit just above the 1990 stat line. Right click and copy that. Then, right click and paste, and cover the 1986-1989 stat lines with the section of the card you just copied (You may want to zoom in when doing so. Then, copy a section of the blue and paste that over any extra text you created when pasting the 1990 stat line, and try to get the colors matched up as best you can (by selecting blue sections in different places and by selecting smaller sections).
When doing the stats, sometimes it's easier to do 1 column for each stat, instead of doing 1 for the whole thing. I usually get my stats from, and I'll get any bio or highlights from the back of another card, or Wikipedia.
I made a back template for Series 1 & 2. Series 1 has pitching headers, and 2 has hitting headers. Since Bagwell is a hitter, all you have to do to change it is open the Series 2 back template, copy the hitter header, and paste it over the Series 1 back, and do color correction if needed. For the stats on Bagwell, he just gets a simple NO MAJOR LEAGUE RECORD on his stat lines. Simple enough.
Some people choose to number their customs starting at 1. I choose to number mine like they are the next card in the set, so if I did a 1991 Donruss card, it would be card #771. Baseball Card Pedia is a great place to find out how many cards are in a certain set, what size the cards are, and if any numbers are missing in the set.
One last note, I probably should've used the select color tool and selected the shade of black that Donruss used on "CAREER HIGHLIGHTS", because I used black from the pallate tray on the bottom of Paint, and it looks a lot darker than the shade Donruss used. I'm not going to fix it, but I think it would look a lot better in the original black shade Donruss used.

I hope this post helps any aspiring custom card makers. I also put templates for 1992 Upper Deck up, which is probably an easier custom to make than a 1991 Donruss. On the backs of '92 Upper Deck, the National League gets the green nameplate, and the AL gets the red ones, and you can also put another picture on the back, just do it the same way as the front. You can rotate the back by selecting IMAGE from the toolbar, FLIP/ROTATE, and then rotate it by angle to type in the stats and NAME/TEAM/POSITION sideways, and then rotate it back to normal. Feel free to post any comments, questions, and links to any customs you have made, and as always thanks for checking out my blog.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

1992 Topps Mike Scott

Mike Scott had a great 5-year run with the Astros from 1986-1990. He led the NL in Wins, Strikeouts, ERA, won NLCS MVP, and threw a no-hitter during those 5 years. Injuries plagued him after that, and he retired in 1991 after playing in only 2 games. He didn't appear on any cards that year. Here is what his 1992 Topps card may have looked like. I plan on doing a post of this card on my other blog as well, since it is from the 1992 Topps set. I originally started my other blog, planning to give every player a 1992 Topps card that played a MLB game in 1991. I have done around 25 cards on it, before focusing more on this blog just because of the variety of sets I can choose from, but I think I'll try to do a few more posts on the '92 Topps blog, because it's going to be a heck of a lot of work to finish that set, and as somebody told me "The best time to plant an apple tree was 10 years ago. The next best time is now. So I will try not to let that blog slip by the wayside, and I'll try to make cards for this one too. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 10, 2014

1984 Topps George Brett Highlights

Topps could've made a highlight card of George Brett's pine tar game in their 1984 set, but they chose not to. '84 would be the last year they would put highlight cards in the set until 1997. I thought this would be a cool card to do of the Royals legend. After doing this card, I can check another Topps set off of my list that I have added a card to in the regular set. I probably won't do many cards before 1984. I still need to do cards from the '85, '86, '88, '99-'07, and '09-'15 sets, and although I have cards from those sets in later series down the road, you never know when I might feel the need to deviate from the checklist and maybe push one of those cards to the front. Only 3 more cards left in the 2nd Series.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

1994 Topps Nolan Ryan/Robin Ventura Highlight

In 1993, Nolan Ryan was playing in his 27th and final season. His Rangers were playing the White Sox on August 4th, and Ryan, who had a few grudges against Ventura and the White Sox, hit Ventura with a pitch. Ventura started walking to first, and then turned and charged the mound. Ryan managed to get Ventura into a headlock, and started wailing on his head before teammates came along and the fight got broken up. I remember hearing about it on the news for the next few days.

I decided to do a highlight card of the famous fight. I used a 1994 Topps pre-production card of Ryan for the front. The area above the color bar underneath the name is brown on this card, unlike the regular cards in the set, which are green. I think I might stick with that design if I end up making more 1994 Topps highlight cards.

Thanks for checking out my custom cards.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What I have been doing besides customs lately

I thought I would use this post to let you readers know what I have been mostly doing during my off days besides making custom cards.

Around age 6 or 7, my Dad got a Commodore 64 computer. My Uncle Tom was a big computer geek, and I think he encouraged my dad to get it. Whenever we would see my uncle, he would give us floppy disks with games on them. One of these games was Hardball, which came out in the mid '80's, and is one of the all-time best baseball games in my opinion. I played Hardball for hours on end as a kid. Somewhere between middle school and college, the Commodore disappeared (I think my Mom threw it out). Around 2002, I downloaded a C64 emulator, and I was back to playing Hardball again.

I have always played with the Champs (Blue team), and have always wanted to know what kind of stats the team would put up in a 162 game season. I had incorporated the Champs into many baseball simulation programs, but never had got stats from playing 162 games and keeping them. In 2011, I came across a post on a C64 forum where the author, Doomtints, actually played 162 games with the Champs and kept stats. He played the game with the DH rule in effect. If you know anything about Hardball, you know that the hitter's skills depend not on who they are, but on where they are in the batting order. I always played without a DH (contrary to my beliefs about MLB), so I wanted to get the stats without it. So, sometime this year, I started playing the games and keeping stats. I just finished game #142, and with 20 games left, Doomtint's stats are pretty spot-on. I am a tad better Win-Loss wise, but that could change at any time. My pitchers have better W/L records, and better ERAs, but I have been walking many of the All-Star hitters, so my Walks are WAAAAAAY worse, and my Strikeouts are below his. The hitters are probably going to be a little weaker stat-wise that his, but I think many of them will end up posting similar stats. I am hoping to get game 162 played by the end of the year, and if not by December 31, then maybe have all the stats sorted out and posted on the C64 forum (my screenname is Jeremya1um).

So that is basically what I have been up to outside of making customs. How about any of you? Have you ever played Hardball? Do you even know what a Commodore 64 is?

Monday, November 3, 2014

1994 Topps Joe Carter World Series Highlights

This is another World Series Highlight card that Topps missed between 1982 and 1997. Most people know the story, but if not, I'll refresh everyone's memory. The Toronto Blue Jays were up 3 games to 2 on the Philadelpha Phillies in the 1993 World Series. They were down, however, by the score of 6-5 with runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out when Joe Carter stepped to the plate. He belted a Mitch Williams pitch into the seats for a World Series-winning Home Run. The Jays won the championship, and that has been their last appearance in the playoffs.

I decided to use the Blue Jays design from the 1994 Topps set for the front, and use a horizontal back without a picture cutout. As I have said before, I think 1994 Topps is one of the hardest designs to work with as a custom card maker. I will be using it again soon, as the next card is a 1994 Topps highlight card of the Nolan Ryan/Robin Ventura fight.