This is one of my favorite custom cards in my collection. It achieves the three things that I look for in a custom card. But I'll get to that in a minute.
This card was devised for me by Big D of the long defunct card blog, Hey That's Mine. He hasn't posted since 2012 and that just goes to show you how long custom cards have been around the card blog scene. Remember Goose Joak? That blog was probably the first that I saw that regular cranked out custom cards. I believe that's all he did in terms of his blog.
Not many of those custom cards actually became real cards if I recall correctly (although I do have a fine Alissa Milano custom created by Goose Joak). And that's why I have trouble paying attention to custom cards most of the time. I like my cards to be real, things I can actually hold in my hand. It's why I have so much trouble with digital "cards". They don't exist in reality. Custom cards that you can create online through photoshop, or wherever, are cool and beyond anything I can do, but you look at it, and that's it. There's very little to savor.
And that brings me to the three things I look for in custom cards:
1. They are actual cards. You can hold them in your hands like real cards. They have fronts and backs. There is thickness and weight and semi-sharp corners.
2. They are well-made. I admit, I'm a little stuffy when it comes to this. But if a custom card is going to share a page with actual manufactured cards, it has to look like those other cards. That's tough to do, I know. But that's what I like.
3. They show creativity and thought. This is the big one that makes custom cards so interesting. Well-thought-out cards can be baseball cards of players who didn't get featured in a particular set or players who were never featured with a particular team. Or they can go even more out of the box and include subjects that aren't even sports-related. As long as it is produced with thought and I'm interested in the topic, I'm totally on board. (The Big D Gorman Thomas custom falls into this category because it contains two great men from my childhood, meshing the '70s and '80s perfectly).
Custom cards have great popularity in the blog world these days. It seems like it's the only thing generating excitement among card blogs lately. (Not a great commentary on what card companies are producing in 2016). And the one blogger who devotes the most energy to them and basically hits all three of my criteria on the head is Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown.
I've received several custom cards from him over the years. I have appreciated them all. In fact, I enjoyed them so much that I asked him to whip up a couple customs custom-made just for me!
So he sent me a package recently and just about all of the cards were customs, ones I asked for and ones I didn't.
But let's start with two cards that are traditional cards.
It's official, I'm a Tom Murphy supercollector. I think this might be the first color-bordered Archives card in my collection.
OK, enough of the Rockies. Let's get to the custom cards.
A couple of them are variations of cards that Gavin sent me once before.
This is the "corrected" version of a Clayton Kershaw 1975 Hostess card that he sent earlier. I was thrilled with the original version of the card. What's not to love? My favorite player, one of my favorite food issues from my favorite card decade. But Gavin noticed something he didn't like with the original.
The name wasn't all caps in the original. The names in the '75 Hostess set are all caps. And that shows you the determination that Gavin takes into creating his customs. They're going to be faithful to the capital letter.
The other variation he sent is a "cleaned up" version of a Vin Scully tobacco card.
He sent me this one earlier. Pretty fantastic.
And this the version as if you pulled it straight from a pack of smokes. I don't know how he does that artificial aging stuff.
Here is another Vin Scully custom you may have seen here or there. It's pretty cool:
That's Vin on a 1989 Upper Deck-style card, something UD would never do then because they hated the Dodgers back in the day.
Here's the back:
That image makes me so jealous of Scully. What a view, what a set-up! Every day of the baseball season! You can see that the card is updated to include information on Scully's retirement.
Enjoy your time, Vin!
I'm sure that card bowled the most people over, but I didn't even ask for that card! Here are the two that I requested:
You probably remembered an Allen & Ginter-style mini set on Baseball Card Breakdown called "Pretty Girls". It featured nine beauties. I loved the idea, like any guy would. But although it contained favorites of mine like Lea Thompson and Christina Hendricks, it was lacking my top celebrity crush, Emma Stone.
I'm not a big movie-goer and know very little about current young movie stars, but Emma Stone shatters my disinterest. She picks great movies and roles, is shockingly talented and smart, and I appreciate her down-to-earth personality and sense of humor. Plus, her looks are devastating. P.S.: I love my wife immensely.
I badgered this card out of Gavin, and I'm so glad I did. No one else has an Emma Stone mini card that I know of, and that's how it should be. It's already stored in one of those cute, little tobacco-card-sized top loaders.
All right, here is the other card I requested:
Gavin created a quick version of this card immediately after Madison Bumgarner's bizarre exclamation while making a play at first base on the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig during a game in late September. Bumgarner's "Don't look at me" statement might be the single strangest thing I've seen from a pitcher on the field since Roger Clemens threw that broken bat. You can see Bumgarner's teammate Brandon Belt staring at him in a "what the hell are you doing" way.
When Gavin devised the card, he didn't have the #DontLookAtMe hashtag on it, he went with "Rowdy Rivals" which is in keeping with the old Fleer SuperStar Specials.
But to me, the #DontLookAtMe is the heart of the whole scene. It's what makes the situation, what makes this card. This card will make me smile for a long time.
That's the Fleer-esque write-up on the back.
I have a couple of special pages devoted to the custom cards I've received over the years. I'm sure it will expand into a full binder at the rate that Gavin is creating them.
Customs are a matter of taste -- I'm not much of a fan of '90s-themed customs or sci-fi stuff, but I know a lot of other bloggers are -- but that's what's great about custom cards. You don't have to merely accept what the card companies produce for you. It can be a card that's very narrowly defined and just for you.
If you do them right, like Gavin, they are just as good, if not better, than any mass-produced card.