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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jim Shellenback - Then and Then, Topps Million Edition

I've got a few other candidates for this series, but Jim Shellenback has jumped to the head of the line. He's jumped, because I've turned my only Topps Million code into this cool 1971 Topps Washington Senators Shellenback. (Check out that expression.)

It's also ahead of schedule because Shellenbeck's 1990 CMC entry, as the pitching coach for the Portland Beavers, is among the cards I don't yet have. It's number 573 on my want list below. It's also the CheckOutMyCards image below.

But Shellenback becomes my third entry into this Then and Then series, which started in January when I discovered a 1961 Topps Ray Rippelmeyer at a card show, a few days after reviewing his 1990 CMC Nashville Sounds coach card.

Shellenback's Then and Then entry comes by way of a Wal-Mart trip with my wife to get some of those gel shoe insoles. (Yes, she is gellin', exactly like Magellan.) I grabbed a Topps jumbo pack.

I'd picked up a few packs before, but only a handfull but none had a Topps Million code. This one did. I signed up for the site as soon as I pulled it, knowing to only enter the code when the recently unlocked section showed mostly older cards. Immediately, all but one were vintage. Entering my code, I got a nice 1971 Topps card, but not Shellenbeck, I got Expo Gary Sutherland, 434.

Sutherland played in parts of 13 major league seasons, three of those with Montreal. But I wanted something cooler, a card of a guy in the CMC set. There were several trade possibilities, even a couple in the 1971 set.

There was Jim Beauchamp, Richmond's manager in the CMC set, I could have tried for him. But Beauchamp was a Cardinal in the 1971 set. And I'm a Cubs fan, getting a Cardinal would have been fine, if there were no other options.

Fortunately, I found Shellenback, offering my '71 Sutherland for the '71 Shellenback. It was essentially a paralell trade that someone without a connection to Shellenback might do without thinking, though the Topps site helpfully pointed out that Sutherland was worth more. The trade was approved and I am now the owner of a 1971 Topps Jim Shellenback.

I'll get more into Shellenback when I ever get his CMC card, but for now, he spent parts of nine seasons with three clubs. He posted a career ERA of 3.81.

He went on to serve as pitching coach or manager with AAA Portland from 1987 to 1990. Since 1994, he has served as pitching coach for the rookie level Elizabethton Twins.

Elizabethton manager Ray Smith gave Shellenback high praise last year in an interview with

"If there was a Mount Rushmore for pitching coaches, then Jim Shellenback would be on it," Smith told the site. "If I was a young pitcher, I'd stay as close to his back pocket as I could and hope to get some of that knowledge, maybe absorb it through osmosis."

Speaking of my want list, I still need about 173 of the 880 cards in the set. That's after breaking about five boxes of packs from eBay. Nick at has helped me out with one, and I'm working on a trade with Bo over at Baseball Cards Come to Life! for two more. My want list is down the right hand column. Anyone else who can help, leave me a note.

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