Born on this date: The Babe

Happy Birthday Babe Ruth!


The card above was one of the main attractions for the PSA booth in conjunction with the release of the new book about these historic cards, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball’s Prized Players, and a display featuring what PSA officials describe as “the 1915 Babe Ruth card that never was.” at the 2013 National.

The centerpiece of the display will be a original mixed media on canvas artwork by well-known sports illustrator Arthur K. Miller. At the request of PSA, he has created an artist’s conception of what a Babe Ruth 1915 Cracker Jack card might have looked like based on a period photo of Ruth in his Boston Red Sox uniform. Ruth was not included in the 1915 Cracker Jack set, and this amazing artwork stunningly depicts the great Ruth card that never was.

In addition to the free copy of the Cracker Jack book, the first 500 visitors who sign up for PSA Collectors Club membership or who renew their membership at the show will receive a free, limited-edition fantasy card of the artist’s 1915 Ruth Cracker Jack image. The cards were specially produced by Memory Lane Inc. and are housed in PSA holders with consecutively-numbered labels, 1 to 500.


As part of building a collection of members of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, I was looking for a Babe Ruth Red Sox card (at the time some of the Helmar art cards) when I came across these on eBay. I missed out on several auctions but eventually landed this beauty last summer.

Custom Sox: 1963 Post Bob Turley


In my pursuit of obtaining one card of every player to put on a Boston Red Sox uniform, there are many cases where a player never appears on cardboard as a Sox. My solution, create custom cards to fill in those gaps. Today’s custom card for my All-Time Red Sox collection is of Bob Turley.

“Bullet Bob” was a pretty solid swing man for the New York Yankees of the 1950’s and early 1960’s, even winning the 1958 Cy Young Award. As his career began winding down, he was purchased by the Los Angeles Angels after the 1962 season. But as 1963 rolled along, it was passing Turley by, so of course the Red Sox —in the middle of some bad years — picked him up as a Free Agent the same he was released by the Halos.

During his short stint in Boston, he pitched effectively only once in seven starts. That one start happened on August 31st, against the Washington Senators in front of 6,965 Fenway patrons. He’d go seven innings, allowing just two hits but walking six and striking out six. The only run he gave up that Saturday was Don Lock’s 23rd long ball. It would be his last Major League win.

Bob compiled a 1-4 record over 41-plus innings but also at the cost of a 6.10 earn run average. Boston released him after the season and hired him as pitching coach under manager Johnny Pesky. That job lasted just one year.

The Design Process

When I begin any custom Sox card, my first goal is to search out an image, preferably color, that is large enough quality-wise, so that it is usable for a standard card size and eventually printable for my collection needs. As you can see from the above, the only Turley image I could track down is black and white and small. I only over enlarged it for this post introduction. With that in mind, and I haven’t done much colorization of black and white images, this image wouldn’t work for any card issues of that time. So onto Plan B.

Plan B was to find a large image of Bob Turley’s 1963 Topps card as seen below. Now I originally started down this road for my custom card since it had a blank navy blue cap (Topps airbrushed off the NY) and thought it would be easy to slap a red and white “B”. First step was to take the “B” from Gene Conley’s cap and perform some Photoshop magic onto Turley’s cap. This took a little bit as my first couple of renderings made the “B” look too small for my taste. I then took the same “B”, made it grayscale and place onto the small image in the now green circle at the cards lower right. I was about to proceed with Photoshopping out the Yankee pinstripes when I found myself just hating everything about this small secondary image. It’s just a terrible image of him as he looks like he’s in pajamas while on a weekend bender. Crap! Plan C.

Plan C … Plan C … Okay what other cards were available in 1963. Then it hit me, I could create a 1963 Post Cereal card! Perfect and I don’t have to create a back. The 1963 Fleer was out in my opinion, as the cropping of my Turley image would be too tight for what the photography is in that set. So with than plan set, I tracked down another American League pitcher in the Post set, Ken McBride.

The 1963 Post Cereal cards are technically, when cut right, sized the same as a standard Topps card. Using InDesign, I started to build a Post template using the McBride as a guideline for the colors, fonts, and locations for all the info found on the face side. The bio write-up was taken from Bob Turley’s 1961 Post Cereal card with me adding how he arrived in Boston. I may revisit this card down the road only because the name font is not quite correct. It’s close at first glance but something I want to address as I am still trying to figure what font was used. The placeholder right now is a font called Runic. The rest of the fonts I used were Trade Gothic and a News Gothic — both sans serif fonts. The only other design challenge I had was removing the 1963 Topps circle image and giving Turley a new shoulder/uniform sleeve. That’s where the cropped card of Minnie Minoso came into play from above. I little doctoring with the skin tone and Turley’s image was complete with a bonus gold chain. I then desaturated the image a bit to help finish the look of being printing on a cardboard box.

And with that, I present to you the 1963 Post Cereal #201 Bob Turley.


And lastly for the back, I found a Willie Mays Post Cereal card back on eBay that was pretty large to finish off the look.

Thank you for reading and look forward to any feedback you may have. Now off to see if I can track down a 2017 Topps Baseball Blaster and some packs on my way home!


Custom Sox: 1968 Topps Floyd Robinson

In my pursuit of obtaining one card of every player to put on a Boston Red Sox uniform, there are many cases where a player never appears on cardboard as a Sox. My solution, create custom cards to fill in those gaps. Today’s custom card for my All-Time Red Sox collection is of Floyd Robinson. Floyd’s last card was #404 shown below from the 1968 Topps Set as a member of the Oakland A’s.


This was a quick design to turn around as, thanks to Topps, the picture of Floyd is of the hatless variety and taken from his White Sox days (most likely from 1964-65). In general, I try to find an image of the player in an actual Red Sox unit but Floyd was one of those guys in where I could not find.

A solid player for the White Sox in the early sixties, he found his way back to the Junior Circuit when he was shipped to the aforementioned Athletics from the Cincinnati Reds after the 1966 season. His tenure in Oakland was uneventful and was sold to the Boston Red Sox on July 31 as the 1968 season neared the playoff stretch.

Floyd would appear in 23 games for the Sox over the last two months, garnering only 24 official at bats. Used mostly as a defensive replacement in left and right fields, he’d muster three hits, a run, and a stolen base. His only starts came during a five-day span in late August. His best game for Boston came on August 27 when the Sox took it to Cleveland 7-1 at Fenway Park. Robinson, starting in left field (Yaz played first base that day) would go 1-4, a run, two runs batted in, along with that one steal (off of future Red Sox pitcher Stan Williams). His last game would come against the Yankees on September 29 while going 0-1 and with that an end to a nine-year career as a lifetime .283 hitter.

The Design Process

In tweaking the design of this custom card, my first step was re-typesetting the fonts on the front of the card. I needed to recreate the magenta position/team circle to give the custom card a cleaner, finished look rather than pasting another from a 1968 card. Next was retype setting the circle text using Futura Black Condensed and also needed to play a little bit the horizontal scaling and positioning of the type. One thing I noticed was that the type is not perfectly centered within the circle — as a designer, not sure why they didn’t but can only guess it wasn’t high on the priority list when putting the design together in the plate room. Take a look at a number of other 1968 Topps cards and you’ll see the same — as a designer I want to center the type — but in keeping it real to the original I left it off kilter.


Next was cleaning up the FLOYD ROBINSON text below the picture and here I used Futura Bold Italic but found that the angle in the italic version pushed the text too far right. So I went with Futura Bold and manually skewed the text to align with the original. To finish off the front, I did some Photoshop work to eliminate the White Sox pin stripes and darken the jersey to look more of a road gray version the Red Sox would have had in 1968.


On the backside of the card, I cleared out the OAKLAND A’S and replaced the copy with BOSTON RED SOX. Here I used Benton Gothic Black. Using Benton Gothic Condensed, I retyped the bio write up but tweaking the last sentenced to reflect how Robinson arrived in Boston.

At some point, I plan on printing this and others I have created, as well as future planned custom cards. Thank you for reading and look forward to any feedback you may have.


Custom 1941 Goudey Al Flair


1941 Goudey Baseball Al Flair #34 Custom Card

1941 Goudey Baseball marked the final product from the popular, but short-lived, vintage brand. After not releasing any new sets following 1938, Goudey reappeared in 1941 with a design that came in four different colors and only 33 cards in the set.

Al Flair played in only ten games in the majors, all of them with Boston during September 1941. In 30 official at bats, he managed 6 hits (2 doubles and a triple), drove in a couple runs, and added a stolen base. He hit just .200 in his brief cup of coffee.

I was lucky to find an image of Al Flair and since he has no trading card, it was up to me to create my next custom card for my All-Time Red Sox Collection.

I went with the ‘41 Goudey layout based on:

  • The image quality and size I could track down of Flair
  • Al played in 10 games for Boston in 1941
  • It’s a simple design and no design on the back (and I have a number of other customs I need to tackle!)
  • I don’t have a copy in my collection 

Based on the only image I could find of Al Flair, the Goudey design suited me. The image itself is over exposed and lacks a defined shoulder line and background. That in itself wouldn’t work for say, a 1941 Play Ball. Also, with this Goudey design, the logos and team names are absent on the uniforms. It’s a retro version of today’s Panini products!

The first step was to omit the background per the Goudey design. Adding a colored layer behind the original image in Photoshop, helped me define where the face, neck, and shoulder lines were. Next, erase the “B” on the hat and the “RED SOX” on the home jersey. After that it was cleaning up hard edges, doing some shadow enhancing and the like. I realized there was a stroke around the image in the Goudeys I found online, so that was added in Photoshop as well. At this point, I hid the colored layer and save as a PSD file

Now the fun part, the actual card design happens in InDesign. From one of the Goudey cards I found, the little baseball with “BIG League Gum” was placed in the upper right hand corner. Next the player name, team, and position. As a font geek this was about as easy as it gets. Futura. Typeset the above and add a card number, in this case “34” as the original set only has 33 cards. Next, match the four colors in the set to produce all four possible versions for Mr. Flair.

The back was easy. Find the biggest image of a ‘41 Goudey back and save. Fix the toning in Photoshop and and bring into InDesign.


To add some authenticity, I putposely cut off the right side of Flair’s image for the card. Do a search for 1941 Goudey and you’ll see a number of same instances.

One interesting fact I learned about Al was that he answered a want ad and got a job playing baseball. The Sporting News explained: “An advertisement placed in the classified section of a Memphis newspaper (by Little Rock Travelers manager Doc Prothro) led to Flair’s entry into organized baseball.”

I hope you like the finished result. Let me know your thoughts!

I have a couple hundred of other images of Sox players without cards, so the hope is to knock off a bunch in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!