By Phil Hecken
What you see above is a quick and dirty mockup of a Ty Cobb baseball card, painted by Graig Kreindler, which will be part of a 2019 Topps 150 Years of Baseball set that looks back on 15 decades of MLB greatness. Unlike “regular” Topps trading cards, these online cards are sold for seven days each, with three new cards issued every Tuesday. You can see the current set of three offerings here, with three new cards to be offered this coming Tuesday. The Kreindler painting of Ty Cobb will be available for one week, beginning this Tuesday.
The Topps 150 Years of Baseball is a different way to collect baseball cards. It’s not available in stores, and you can purchase the cards individually. The 150 Years of Baseball cards will sell for $7.99 each and each card comes printed on 16-point stock. These cards will be available for just a week (then I guess you’d need to head to e-Bay), and are printed on-demand.
The print-to-order set sticks with the history of the game, and it breaks down the selection into themed subsets such as “Artist Renditions,” “Historic Moments,” “Records and Award Winners,” and “Rookie Campaigns.” Graig’s work will be featured in the “Artist Renditions” subset.
Weekend readers especially know I often feature Graig’s work on here, so when I found out a couple weeks ago he’d be having his work featured on Topps baseball cards, I was thrilled for him. I wanted to find out more about this project, so I spoke with him about it earlier this week.
Uni Watch: This is fantastic news, Graig! So, the first card — the Ty Cobb I mocked up above — will be released this Tuesday. Are you getting psyched?
Graig Kreindler: Thanks so much, Phil! And thanks for having me back on Uni Watch – it’s always an honor. I’m definitely getting psyched for this first card to be released. When I was younger, I dreamt of having this kind of opportunity, as you may recall that seeing my father’s old baseball cards from the late 1940s and early 1950s was one of the first times I realized that artwork could even appear on a baseball card. So I guess in a sense, this has kind of been the fulfillment of a lifelong goal.
UW: Of the 150 cards, you’re slated to do 20. These will all be originals done specifically for their special set?
GK: All twenty of these paintings are to be done specifically for Topps’ use in this set.
UW: And your “subset” will be the “Artist Renditions.” Are you the only artist being commissioned for this project?
GK: I am unsure as to whether I’m the only artist being used in the set, but I haven’t heard rumblings of anybody else being involved. Whether I am flying solo or part of a team, it’s still a pretty intimidating (yet incredibly fun) workload.
UW: The first card releases this Tuesday, April 16th. When will the next one be released, and who will be the featured player?
GK: I was told that the next card of the subset – which is to feature Lou Gehrig – will be available to the public on Tuesday, April 30th.
UW: Is the Gehrig artwork done?
UW: Do you know all 20 you’ll eventually do? If not, do you know who the next few will be?
GK: I haven’t been given a comprehensive list of everyone that I’ll be painting, but I do know that the next group of five includes Roberto Clemente, Ted Williams, Duke Snider, Bob Feller and Warren Spahn.
UW: How often will your work be featured?
GK: As of now, the plan is to release a new card featuring my artwork every two weeks – I just of course have to keep up with the workload.
UW: Topps releases a new set of three every week, so you’ll basically be having a card in every other set?
UW: In the intro I mentioned this is a “print on demand” type of thing. Can you tell me more about that?
GK: This is where things get a little interesting. When most people think of baseball cards, visions of wax packs probably float around, not to mention stale gum. However, in the past few years, Topps has tried out this new model of doing business in addition to the old tried and true methods. They’ve entered the world of print on demand, where they’ll make a card or group of cards available for a limited time. In the case of Topps, maybe the most well-known venture using this method, each card is only available for twenty-four hours. Once the time is up, the print run is sealed, and no more than that number will ever be printed again. In the case of the 150 Years of Baseball set, each card released on Tuesdays will be available for a full week.
UW: Can we see the original Cobb artwork you painted for this set?
UW: Do you think the final product will look similar to my mockup? Is this something that might change?
GK: I think what you’ve made will be pretty true to what the fellas at Topps come up with. It’s possible that the border will be made a little bit thinner to showcase the art more, but that’s just a guess on my part. Also, I may or may not be painting some subjects in a horizontal format – that much isn’t quite clear.
UW: How does the actual printing work? You paint the player, then it gets photographed and sent to them? Do you also send them the painting itself, or do you hold onto that?
GK: The way this whole thing works is that they’ll give me the player name, and then I team up with Topps to pick an image that I feel would translate well onto canvas. Their concern was to depict each player with the team they are most commonly identified with, and also on the younger side and/or close to the player’s prime. Once the image is agreed upon, I paint the thing over the course of a few days. After the piece has dried and been varnished, I’ll take it over to my great photographer, who provides me with a high quality file soon after. Topps is sent the color-corrected image and they work from that.
UW: How big are your actual paintings? And what is the medium?
GK: The paintings themselves are small – only 6″ x 8″, and on linen mounted to board. They’re only a tiny bit larger than my color studies, which are 5″ x 7″. I’m doing them small in order to make sure I meet the deadlines, as well as to keep me from getting carried away. Since the paintings will be shrunk down to about 2.5″ x 3.5″, they should tighten up really nicely.
UW: So, you’ll be keeping them then? Are they going to be for sale?
GK: I’m pretty sure I’ll end up offering the pieces up for sale in some manner.
UW: This is probably getting ahead of things, but say someone reading this is interested in purchasing the original — can I have them contact you directly?
GK: Absolutely! Your readers can always contact me via email at gkreindler@gmail, or via social media platforms.
UW: Other than the players you told me about earlier, do you know who else you’ll be painting? Is that up to you or Topps, or is it mutual?
GK: I haven’t been told much about who’s coming next, but I imagine that for the most part, I’ll be staying in the earlier eras of the game. There was, however, talk of having me do a modern player or two – the name Ken Griffey Jr. was thrown around, but I can’t confirm that yet.
UW: I imagine you must be very busy these days! About how long do you take to finish one of these paintings?
GK: Between my kids and other commissions, the schedule’s about as packed as it can be. I’d say that each painting is taking about 6-8 hours from start to finish, which gets stretched out over the course of a few days.
UW: And after you finish it, then it needs to be photographed and sent off to Topps. How much lead time to they require?
GK: So far, the deadlines they’ve given me have been about 4 days before the release of the card. Though, I keep them updated with photos of my progress whenever any is made, and in turn, I’m told they’ve been using those to get a jump on the design process.
UW: Will these all be portraits or will they be “action” shots?
GK: I’m not sure whether there will be any action shots, but, if I can find/think of any that are indicative of a player – say a batting stance or wind-up that’s specific to them – it might be something I’d push for.
UW: Who decides what image to use? Do you show Topps a photo and say “I like this” or do they dictate that? How’s that work?
GK: In the end, I believe Topps would have the final say, but so far, we’ve been working very mutually on the whole process. In other words, they want to make sure that I’m painting something I’m happy with, and I want to make sure they’re getting an image they feel works with their vision for the set.
UW: Besides the 150 Years cards, do you have anything else in the hopper with Topps?
GK: Other than the work I’m doing for this set, there’s nothing else I have going on with Topps.
UW: How did Topps decide to work with you? Did they approach you, did you go to them, or through an intermediary?
GK: Originally, Topps had wanted to work with me for a project a few years back, but nothing ever came of it. I’m not sure how this project got started, whether they had had me in mind, or my agent had piqued their interest again, but it sort of came out of nowhere for me.
UW: Anything else you’d like to add or that I forgot to ask you?
GK: I’d just love to thank everyone (including you) for all of the support they’ve shown me over the years. I’m INCREDIBLY lucky to be able to do something I love for a living, and I hope that in the end, I do these players – or the memory of them – proud.
UW: Awesome, and Congratulations! I know what I’ll be doing Tuesday — ordering a Cobb! I haven’t bought a baseball card in 20 years, but that’s ending now.
How great is that? If you want to order the first of Graig’s Topps cards, click this link beginning this Tuesday (the card will be available for a week). The next one will be offered two weeks later, and then there should be a new card available about every two weeks (neither Graig nor I have the schedule, so I’d check that link often).
Lots of new NCAA Football unveilings happened yesterday, including a new neon alternate for Michigan State, new (all sport) uniforms for Baylor, and a new football set for West Virginia. Let’s take them in order:
Michigan State Alternate
Sparty released their new alternate yesterday morning, prior to their spring game. Yowsa! We were tipped off Friday the team might be including a neon green helmet decal, but no one realized they’d be adding the neon lime to the whole set. This is an alternate, and I’m not sure when (or even if) it will be worn this fall, but it’s … something.
Aside from the neon Sparty decal on the hats, the team will have “STATE” in giant neon green letters that can be read from space, neon green shoulder cap logos, and full neon green pants.
More looks here (click to enlarge, if you dare):
Also, there’s this:
Hey Michigan State, why are you using Seattle Seahawk Gloves instead of Michigan State Gloves to show off your new jerseys?
— Fat Kid Deals (@FatKidDeals) April 13, 2019
— Baylor Football (@BUFootball) April 13, 2019
Baylor not only introduced a SWEET new set of football uniforms yesterday, they unveiled a new look across all sports.
The most glaring change, since the team had previously worn a metallic/Vegas gold as their green/gold color, was the switch to athletic gold (a MUCH better look) for Football. They’d previously worn athletic gold in that color scheme in other sports.
I LOVE the new football unis — they unveiled three sets yesterday (green, gold and white) and only showed them (so far) as mono looks. I’d imagine they’ll mix and match (I hope they do) throughout the season, although last year Oregon did something similar and didn’t mix/match throughout the regular season (they did for their Bowl game vs. Sparty). So we’ll see how Baylor approaches that this fall.
Here’s a look at the new football kits:
I don’t know if these are the only unis the team will introduce for this year (remember, they’ve had both BFBS and GFGS unis in the past). Aside from the switch to athletic gold, the most glaring change is the elimination of the stupid paw print on the sleeve cap and shoulder. Gonna have to wait to see how these look on the field, but so far, I’m a big fan.
I’m digging the new Bear logo on the collar too!
Here’s how the hoops unis will look:
— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) April 13, 2019
Unfortunately, they haven’t quite gotten away from the formerly trendy colors…
— Scott Drew (@BUDREW) April 13, 2019
Here’s women’s hoops:
— Baylor Lady Bears (@BaylorWBB) April 13, 2019
And, um…a new Baseball look:
— Baylor Baseball (@BaylorBaseball) April 13, 2019
— Baylor Softball (@BaylorSoftball) April 13, 2019
— Baylor Soccer (@BaylorFutbol) April 13, 2019
— Baylor Volleyball (@BaylorVBall) April 13, 2019
West Virginia Football
— John Lowe (@JohnEverett24) April 13, 2019
West Virginia also introduced new football uniforms yesterday — as you can see, they are pretty damn sweet. I’d say they’re damn near perfect, except for the introduction of one gray uniform. But they got the blue and gold, fixed the fonts, took the doo-dads off, and generally look fantastic.
Here’s a bunch of shots from the unveiling:
First off all, this is what they should have gone to instead of their previous uniforms, with that ridiculous “Pick Axe” font and superfluous black. The new fonts alone make this new uni a home run. They’re actually legible now!
So far, it looks like the team will have two helmets: a navy blue and a white. Last year (and with the prior set), the team had blue, white and gold. I hope they add a gold back in later. The team already displayed a number of mix-and-match looks, so you can be sure that they will be doing so in 2019 and beyond.
I know there are already complaints that these uniforms are “too plain” but that’s not a bad thing. These are pretty barren: no striping of any kind on the jerseys or pants (except for a tiny bit of contrasting striping at the end of the sleeve caps…
… and on the collars). Nike did this with Baylor’s new unis as well, and they’ve been using this kind of signature element on a lot of teams.
I absolutely love the blue, gold and white unis.
But that GFGS alternate…
… Woof! That brings back bad memories. I guess they’re trying to push it off as “coal” (actually the school/Nike is calling it “Steel Gray” — seriously) but no — that’s light gray. I don’t think an anthracite (darker gray) would look any better, so maybe this is the lesser of two evils.
I’m not the only one:
Did you have my phone tapped? pic.twitter.com/T0kCHhMnhz
— Troy Ravenscroft (@ravenscroft7) April 13, 2019
Still, with all the other changes, I can’t help but love these.
Looks like the team has two white jerseys: one with a thicker blue collar and one with a thinner one:
(UPDATE: I was wrong about that — if you click on the links at the bottom of this section you’ll see it was just a trick of the eye. The white jersey worn with the all-white outfit has the same width contrasting collar.)
Of course, there’s a story (and another university-wide “branding”) involved. According to Blue Gold News,
The objective of the uniform design, which has been two years in the making, is far greater than just new uniforms for the Mountaineers’ 18 varsity sports. The process brings a consistent and unified look across the athletic department and provides staff, corporate partners and suppliers with helpful guidelines to support the WVU athletic brand across a wide range of applications and media.
“The opportunity for Nike to work with a tradition-rich program like West Virginia is very exciting,” Nike Senior Director, College Sports Marketing, Kit Morris said. “The history and success of the Mountaineers provide much to inspire us as we continue to seek to become better together. There is no finish line.”
Yesterday’s unveiling was just the football uniforms. They’ll reveal the rest of the rest of the sports’ uniforms in the coming months. Feel free to read the above linked article (if you haven’t already) to get the full Nike-speak. It’s delicious, including nuggets such as this:
Mountaineer football will don the Nike Vapor Untouchable uniform chassis in 2019. The template will give the Mountaineers improved fit and functionally, reduced seams and grab points, shaped inseams, seamless fronts and shoulders to help leverage speed, improved moisture absorption and better all-around comfort with a high-tech light weight design.
The main upgrades to the new chassis from the current Flywire template used since 2013 will be improved fit, better temperature regulation, stronger durability, lighter weight and comfortability.
Yeah, OK. But either way, this was a fantastic upgrade and a really nice looking set of unis!
Here’s a look at the on-field reveal:
Here they are, #WVU fans.
New Nike football uniforms for the Mountaineers. pic.twitter.com/B7BN7ZHduh
— Patrick Kotnik (@PatrickKotnik) April 13, 2019
After being dormant for a while, the Uni Tweaks/Concepts have returned!
I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).
Got a bunch of San Diego Padres (who are bringing back the brown for 2020!) from reader Nick Mueller:
Since the Friars have announced they’ll return the brown and yellow in 2020, here’s my take.
New updated wordmark and logo with 3 alternates. Hope you like it! Love the site!
Thanks Nick. OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Nice touch by the Twins’ scoreboard operator on Friday, putting a Yule log on the scoreboard during snow removal (h/t @DJGloveRepair). … “Nationals jersey circa 1997 ???” asks Michael Miller. “Jackie Robinson anniversary patch spotted on Rendon jersey (Fri)day at Nats Park.” … A youth tournament yesterday featured two identically attired teams (from Darrell Dawson). … How cool are these negatives that Topps has on EBay of Tito Fuentes? “I love the headband!” says submitter Mark Palczewski. … UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) released new softball uniforms (via Paul). … Yesterday, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was wearing a pinstriped forearm guard (from Conor White). Don’t think we’ve seen one of those before. … Here’s a look at Corona Del Sol HS in Tempe, AZ mixing it up with the Sox throwback jersey and Reds logo (from dylan, like bob). … Speaking of Arizona schools with the throwback look: here’s Gavilan Peak GLA K-8 (Anthem, AZ) tequila sunrise unis (from Adam Rainbolt). … Jim Vilk will hate this but I love it: Thousands of players wearing 42 this weekend Honoring Jackie Robinson in Atlanta! (from Training Legends). … Tweeter Chris Lather asks, “Spotted at the Twin’s game (yester)day. What is that logo on his hat? Does Miguel Sano have his own brand?” … ICYMI, on Friday, a 41 is painted on the back of the pitcher’s mound at for the Rangers v Athletics game in honor of Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement announcement (from Ashley Landis). … Remember that sub-lede earlier about the “European 7”? Well, the Asheville Tourists 3B John Cresto was wearing the Euro style 7 yesterday (from JD Hokie). … There are frankenjerseys…and then there are FrankenJerseys (from James Brooks). … Last night, Ump Mike Winters rocked the cold brewsky socks for the Padres v D-backs game (from Maximiliano. … Green Bay Booyah is a newly renamed team in Northwoods League baseball (from Scott Hurley). They also have a new mascot (from Ray Barrington). … Numerous folks sent this in: the Reds and Cardinals both wore “Ford” ads on their batting helmets for the Mexico Series. Gross.
NFL News: “I’ve noticed that NFL players seemed to have worn black leather belts more commonly back in the day,” says Kurt Rozek. “Here’s a photo of Reggie White with the Packers in 1993 or 1994 (I forget if that’s a 75-year or anniversary Packers patch or a 75-year or anniversary NFL patch on his shoulder) and a photo from a Fran Tarkenton autobiography.” … Remember a couple years ago when the Eagles “midnight green” unis weren’t available because Nike couldn’t produce them in time? This side-by-side graphic shows they never did get it correct (good spot by Mike Wagner).
College Football News: Ohio State’s quarterbacks wore the black alternate uniform as a non-contact jersey during yesterday’s Spring Game — which reminded submitter Andrew Lind of one of his OSU concepts. … While they didn’t bust out new uniforms, the Mizzouri Tigers broke out a “throwback” helmet at yesterday’s Spring Game (more here. Here’s another look (from Jacob Bogage). … Just a week after the University of Pittsburgh released new uniforms, they already came under fire with a reported trademark issue — and they were forced to remove the “412” off the visors of their new football helmets. … The UNC football locker room is being remodeled this summer. Sample lockers can be seen here (from James Gilbert). … Looks like Penn State will possibly have a new throwback uni, but will definitely have helmet numbers, on October 5 (from Mike Slavonic), which is homecoming. UPDATE: Yep, I was right. Here’s even more on that (from Chris Grosse). … “Interesting at Pitt spring game,” says Douggie Keklak. “Using last year’s throwbacks with the exception of the QB’s non-contact red jersey.” … During their spring game, some FAU players had Names on Back while others did not (from Andrew). … No photo was provided, but Meason Boomer writes, “In case your Auburn guy hasn’t alerted you, Auburn looks like they’ve reverted to Cam Newton era numeral size. Significantly bigger than the last few years and it obviously looks better on our single digit D-line studs.”
NBA News: The
Houston Rockets Nike has decided on the jersey options for the Rockets in their upcoming playoff series vs. the Utah Jazz.
College Hoops News: The season (and NCAA Tournament) may be over, but that doesn’t still mean that local printers in Virginia are having a hard time keeping up with the demand for Virginia Cavaliers championship gear (from Tommy Turner).
Soccer News: Yesterday’s ticker included a link showing (barely) the new Orlando Pride jersey. Here’s a much better look (from Live n Sleazy). … The US Women’s Soccer Team has given the Notorious RBG a jersey they wore last month honoring her during their “She Believes” campaign. … The New York Cosmos have new jerseys (from Ed Żelaski.
Grab Bag: With just under 500 days to go until the Tokyo Paralympics, Tokyo2020 have unveiled the official pictograms for all 23 sporting events. Check them out (from Jeremy Brahm). … Charleston Southern Athletics unveiled a new logo yesterday (from Harrison Huntley). … MyNameIsRyan observes, “This logo for a West Philly hair salon doesn’t look familiar at all!”