Monday, February 16, 2015

Filling in the Gaps

As a team collector, there is nothing that bothers me more than a player not having a card commemorating their time in Pittsburgh.  For that relief pitcher who gets 3 innings in September, it's tolerable with gritted teeth.  But anything more than that, and I want some cardboard!  Especially when we have a Pirates Ben Grieve card out there.

But even in the era of 60 card sets per year, there were quite a few players who slipped through the cracks.  There were probably a number of factors - both Fleer and Topps scaled back their flagship products significantly in the late 90's.  Donruss was temporarily out of the game.  Pacific actually put out pretty comprehensive sets, but they were the 4th wheel at a 3 seat party.  So what do you do when the big companies didn't put out a card?  Well, you make one yourself, of course.

Joe Oliver's tenure in Pittsburgh is one I'd rather not think about.  The Pirates gave up on Jose Guillen way too early in exchange for a catcher on his last legs in the aftermath of Jason Kendall's nasty 4th of July ankle break.  It's a time I'd rather not think about.

But Pete Schourek?  Schourek made 17 starts for the Pirates in '99.  Sure, they weren't good starts.  But he was the team's 5th starter none the less.  But in the days of a chopped base set and a '99 Pirates team set that barely acknowledged the team was indeed a part of major league baseball, ole Pete didn't stand a chance.


  1. I am totally with you on this. There is nothing I dislike more than not having a card of a player who played on your team. I just wish I had the photoshop skills to make my own cards. Would help with autographing as well.

    1. The real pain becomes finding a decent photo. Both the Oliver and Schourek were autographed photos that I had to Photoshop out the signature from. If there is ever anything you want made, just ask and I'd be happy to help. I can whip up something pretty easily, especially if I already have the template.

      The fun I've been having with customs has really brought back enjoyment of the hobby that had been missing the last few years.

    2. Mark, I don't know if I've asked before but I'd like to know some details about your printing process. I need to whip up some customs for autos.

    3. The actual production is pretty easy, once the card is designed. I print everything at home on photo paper. I just have a standard low end (~$50) HP inkjet printer, but have always been very pleased with the photo quality. I print on 4x6 sheets, with 2 cards per sheet.

      Once printed, I use scrapbooking glue ($3-5, depending on the brand) to glue the photo paper to 110 lb. cardstock (about $5 for 100 sheets at Wal Mart), which will hold 3 4x6 sheets.

      From there, I use scissors to cut out each 4x6. I bought a low end paper trimmer (~$20) to cut the cards down to size. I had originally been using a craft trimmer, but the blade quickly wore down and started cutting at an angle. I know some people also use a straight edge and xacto knife, but I don't have enough fair in myself to keep a steady hand.

      The cards come out roughly the same weight and thickness as a regular card, and the photo paper give a nice glossy look and feel. I don't make backs for my customs, though obviously you would just double the process for front and back (and hope everything lines up right!). The photo paper also holds autographs really well. The cards tend to curl a little bit, similar to Chrome cards. I usually just put them in a toploader for a few days and it flattens them out a bit.

      I'll see if I can put together a full tutorial with photos this weekend of the process. I also found some great photo resources. I know how much trouble it can be to find a decent photo from some of the obscure players who only made it into a few games with the Pirates. Just let me know if you have any questions!