Saturday, August 25, 2012

Seattle Pilots (the Good, the Bad and the Ugly) by Stubbly Bubbly Custom Trading Cards!

So, in one of my last deals with Stubby, along with all the usual awesome he sent me, he completely blew my mind by sending me this huge, handmade, hand-designed Seattle Pilots set, done in a style that's reverential toward the '70 Topps set, front and back. It's taken me FOREVER to get around to scanning any of them (sorry 'bout that, Stub), but that day has finally come. Before we go any further and actually let you all see some cards, I turn the floor over to the man, the myth, the legend, Stubby.

"Welcome to my side project…the Seattle Pilots (the Good, the Bad and the Ugly).

After I looked a little more closely at that custom Pilots set online (in the style of
Topps 69), I couldn’t help but feel I could do better. Half those pictures were just
scans of the Renata Galaso set, the Photoshopping wasn’t very good, and there
wasn’t even a Gus Gil card.

So here’s my attempt. I still had to scan a handful of cards (Timberlake, Fuentes,
Goossen, Kubiak, Hershberger).

I don’t have Photoshop, actually, or any kind of lasso or clone program. I can only
grab squares of a photo and try to blend them in. Putting an “S” on a hat is easy, but
the Pilots hats were more coolly distinct than that. Sometimes it works (I’m pretty
proud of my George Brunet), sometimes it really doesn’t (Lauzerique anyone?).
Sometimes, you get a bit of a halo around the head.

Anyway, without naming names, there are about 20 colorized cards in the set, 8
to 10 “stubbyshopped” and 4 or 5 “frankensteins” (where multiple pieces were
combined and colorized). Some better than others, clearly.

I tried, as much as possible, to not use the photos everyone else uses in custom
Pilots sets (so if I do ever print off the 69 set, they won’t all be the same shots).

Source material is:

1) Team issued 5x7s (black and white from press packages). There are more
of these out there that haven’t surfaced, but that’s the source for most of the

2) Topps Vault pictures. The best, when you can find them without the watermarks.

3) Autographed or non-signed 8x10s

4) Sports Illustrated pictures

5) Scanned cards. At the end of the day, I still ended up using scans of some Galaso
and some Topps cards. In a few cases, I had other choices available but not better
ones. Still, I had fewer card scans in a larger set than the 69 set online.

6) Pilots yearbook pictures. I bought a reprint, hoping it would be more helpful in
this regard. It really wasn’t, but it did give me a better Jose Vidal than I could find
anywhere else and I also used the Joe Schultz. Also the Bob Lemon was a tiny tiny
shot in the YB. Usually, you need bigger source material, but the Lemon is passable.
(tried it with an equally small Dickie Bates and Larry Haney, but to no avail.)

Card backs. It’s been 100 years since I read Ball Four (OK, 40). At the beginning, I
was pretty much making up shit on the fly. I didn’t realize Jim O’Toole was actually
on the 40 man, for example, and Bill Henry’s # was actually 51. Consider these
uncorrected errors. I later came across a full numerical listing of Pilots. Which
brings us to our next point. This is not a “complete” set. Missing players fall into
two categories. There are three or four Pilots from the 40 man rosters of 69 or 70
missing. I could find no pictures of Nelson Gibson or Ron Kotick and was too tired of
stubbyshopping to attempt Don Bryant or Frank Coggins (maybe later). The other
group is of players who didn’t appear on the 40 man, but were affiliated with the
Pilots—usually the minors—at the time (draft picks and such who later made the
Brewers). That would include players like Ken Sanders, Jim Coburn, Dave Lindsey,
Bob Coluccio, Gorman Thomas, etc. Again, maybe later, but I’m not sure they ever
wore a real Pilots uni. If they did, those pictures haven’t surfaced yet."

Ready for some cards now? Here we go! My commentary through this series will be there, but minimal.

At card #3, we have our first variant, the Tommy Davis auto variant! Card backs are the same, though.

First "Turn Back The Clock" Pilot! While us Ichiro collectors are waiting for cards of him in a Yankee uniform (hey, I don't love it either, but it's a different uniform), here he is in another different uni.

What's cool about this particular shot is that, having just visited the neighborhood Sick's Stadium was in back in May, I look at this card and it gives me a vague sense of perspective as to how the ballpark fit in the neighborhood, where the Lowe's Hardware is now. (It had to have been a TINY ballpark.)

Cool night shot! I wonder if it's a legit night shot or just a work of photo editing magic.

Before I saw this card, I had no idea that Tom Kelly was drafted by the Pilots. Most folks interested in this stuff know about Gorman Thomas, but I didn't know about Tom.

And, finishing up our first post, here's the card back for the team card (the front is at the top of this piece, of course)...

So, folks, what do you think so far? I think the card backs are extraordinary, just a ton of quality effort put in by the Stubmeister. Facts (with historical context), stats, cartoons (!) and a dry sense of humor. The fronts ain't no slouch, neither, don't get me wrong (tons of pictures coming up that I'd never seen prior to getting this set in the mail, but I haven't been at this Pilots thing hardcore as long as some of you have), so your mileage may vary, but the card backs are really somethin' else.

Part II coming soon! I'll be plodding my way through the whole set, 8 cards (plus variants) at a time! Stay tuned, and please, let me (and especially Stubby) know what you think in the comments. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll eventually figure out why he's been having trouble commenting and get you some answers!


Part II is here!


  1. Thought you might enjoy this. May want to pass it on to Stubby and any other Pilots fans you know.

  2. Some cool pics in there, Bo! Thanks for bringing 'em to our attention. Might actually get me motivated to scan the next batch of cards from the Pilots set this weekend!


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