Thursday, December 31, 2009

#72 - Royals/Jack McKeon

Card fact: The last card featured on this blog in 2009. Woo-hoo!

What I thought about this card then: The story is going to be the same for every checklist card. When I was a kid, team cards were boring. End of story.

What I think about this card now: It's strange to see Jack McKeon so young. I am more familiar with the "grandfather in glasses" image with the Marlins and the mustachioed McKeon with the Padres.

Other stuff: Is this the dullest backdrop in a team card photo? We'll have to see.

Also, I won't pretend to know who the two players are that I have circled. It looks to me that it could be Amos Otis and Steve Busby. And if it is, Otis appears to have taken offense to something just said by a smirking Busby.

Back facts: Three pretty good rookie cards on this list, #569 Frank White, #615 Dennis Leonard, and, of course, #228 George Brett.

Other blog stuff: Time to figure out if Topps left any prominent Royals out of the 1975 set.

The Royals used 34 players in 1974 and Topps nabbed all of the major figures. Topps had cards for 24 of the players, including reliever Gene Garber, who was purchased by the Phillies in mid-season and is featured with the Phillies in the '75 set.

The players who participated the most for the Royals but did not get cards were Orlando Cepeda, who had 107 at-bats as a DH for the Royals, and Kurt Bevacqua, who batted 90 times in a utility role.

That was Cepeda's final season. How great would it have been to see a card of Cepeda in a Royals uniform?

So here is where the Royals stack up in terms of percentage of their players being featured on cards in the '75 set:

1. Tigers 78.37% of players featured
2. Royals 70.59%
3. Phillies 62.5%

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#71 - Charlie Hough

Card fact: Seventy-one cards into the set and we've already come across two players who were born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Milt Wilcox was the other one.

What I thought about this card then: I thought Hough had some long hair when I saw his card, but for some reason, he wasn't one of those dudes who looked like a lady to me. Don't know why. Hough must've given off a manly vibe.

What I think about this card now: Wow, Dodger Stadium is deserted.

Other stuff: To me, there are two different Charlie Houghs. There is the long-haired young reliever with the knuckleball who pitched for the Dodgers. And there is the short-haired veteran starter with the knuckleball who skipped around between the Rangers, White Sox and Marlins. I'm biased, but I like the young reliever better.

Back facts: I guess by 1975, Hough was considered a "knuckeball specialist." But back in 1969, Hough was almost out of baseball after hurting his arm. He tried to play first base, but couldn't do that either. So, he was taught the knuckleball. With the help of Hoyt Wilhelm and Jim Brewer, both pitchers on the Dodgers, he mastered the pitch and his career lasted until he was 46.

The cartoon trivia question is awfully random. Is there something special about the Cubs' double-play duo in 1955? Who is Gene Baker?

Oldie, but goodie: You better believe I still have the original Hough card that I pulled in 1975. This is it in all of its scuffed glory:

Other blog stuff: I'm going to stay on Mr. Hough. This card is the only card in the 1975 set that I have autographed.

It came from Wicked Ortega of My Pastime ... I Love It! What a great guy The Don is. And here's the card:

I actually prefer my 1975 cards unsoiled by scribblings. But like everything, I make an exception for Dodgers.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

#70 - Mike Schmidt

Card fact: This is the first time Topps gave Mike Schmidt a card number ending in zero. For the rest of his career, Topps put a zero at the end of Schmidt's card number. Don't believe me? Look it up. I did.

What I thought about this card then: I didn't see it. My first Schmidt card was the 1976 Topps card, which is a great one.

What I think about this card now: This was one of the last cards I acquired when I was collecting the entire set about five years ago. The price kept getting in the way.

Other stuff: Were there people who didn't like Schmidt? He seemed to be much-appreciated among a variety of baseball fans. Even I liked him and Schmidt kept bumping my favorite player, Ron Cey, out of a starting All-Star spot.

Back facts: That's a frightning cartoon likeness of Herb Washington. He looks like Michael Jackson in Thriller. ... 1974 was Schmidt's breakout year. You can see he had a miserable time in 1973. ... "Michael Jack" is a tremendous combination of names.

Other blog stuff: I took a bit of a break there. I needed it. But I'm back. I've slowly started back with the scanning, too. Up to 572 cards scanned.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

#69 - John Odom

Card fact: The first card of a player whose signature does not include his actual first name.

What I thought about this card then: Another one of my favorites. The combination of the bright border with the A's bright uniforms made this an easy one to like. I'm not sure what happened to the original card I had.

What I think about this card now: It remains a great card. I like Odom's knowing smile.

Other stuff: Odom's nickname came from childhood when a friend thought his round face looked like the moon. He enjoyed a long career with the Swingin' A's, and true to the A's reputation, he was involved in a fight with teammate Rollie Fingers just prior to the 1974 World Series with the Dodgers.

After his career, Odom endured drug and alcohol problems, but has remained clean since the mid-1980s. He's an avid golfer.

Back facts: The card says Odom shut out the Orioles in his first start. That's not true. The game against the Orioles, on Sept. 11, 1964, was Odom's second start. In his first start, on Sept. 5, he gave up six runs in two innings to the Yankees.

Other blog stuff: I'll go with a birthday today. On this date in 1975, former Brewers pitcher Jeff D'Amico was born.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

#68 - Ron Blomberg

Card fact: This card is on the cover of Blomberg's book, "Designated Hebrew."

What I thought about this card then: Blomberg was a friend of mine's favorite player when I was a kid. His family was Jewish, and he was a Yankee fan, so we used to hear about how wonderful this guy was.

What I think about this card now: What an odd-looking photo. The image is shot from below, and with the clouds in the background, it's a typical hero shot. But the look on Blomberg's face is almost puzzlement. It's a strange combination.

Other stuff: I missed my chance, taking the day off for Christmas yesterday. I could have featured a Jewish player on a Christian holiday.

Back facts: Blomberg (pronounced "Bloomberg") was the first designated hitter in history, but there's no mention of that on the back of this card. On his 1974 card, which would have been the first card issued after his first appearance as a DH, it merely says, "Was Yankees' top DH last year."

Other blog stuff: I'll be calling this color combination the "Burger King" design after the fast-food chain's logo -- the old logo, not the current one.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

#67 - Tug McGraw

Card fact: Out of six cards so far that have shown a pitcher faking a throw, this is the first one doing it left-handed. Tug always had to be different, didn't he?

What I thought about this card then: It wasn't a thought in my head.

What I think about this card now: I just get sad when I see cards of McGraw now because he died at an early age.

Other stuff: I will always think of McGraw as a Phillie. I know he has a proud history with the Mets. "Ya Gotta Believe," and all that. But that was all before my time. The first card of McGraw's I ever saw was his 1976 Topps card, and he was a Phillie.

Back facts: I never knew McGraw's real first name was Frank until right now. Also, look at how fat the cartoonist thought Babe Ruth was. Hitting 714 home runs in that kind of shape really would have been something.

Other blog stuff: The blog will be taking a brief break for the Christmas holiday. I wish I could remember what I received for Christmas gifts in 1975. Someday I'll have to check my mother's photo album to find out. Yes, I said photo album. I'm that old.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

#66 - Willie Horton

Card fact: The best handlebar mustache in the entire set. Yes, I've looked. There is only one other player that even comes close, and we won't see that card for a long time.

If I could, I would grow a mustache like that without hesitation. And by "if I could," I mean if I didn't mind eating my meals in the garage.

What I thought about this card then: Duh, I thought it was awesome. Yet, somehow it left my possession in a trade of some sort. Temporary insanity, I guess.

What I think about this card now: Players who wear batting helmets in their photos are cool. I don't know why. They just are.

Other stuff: Speaking of batting helmets, according to his wikipedia page, Horton kept the same helmet wherever he went. He just painted it a different color when he switched teams. Also, according to wiki, he is the youngest of 21(!) children.

Horton is much revered in Detroit. The Tigers retired his number and there's a statue of him in front of their park.

Back facts: I've mentioned this before, but "William Wallison Horton" is one of the best baseball names ever.

Other blog stuff: I've scanned in 567 cards of the set and that might be it for a few days. Even scanning takes a break for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

#65 - Don Gullett

Card fact: As many collectors know, Topps once reserved the cards with numbers ending in "00" for the superstars, numbers ending in "0" for the stars, and numbers ending in "5" for the really good players.

That held true for the 1975 set. In most cases. So far, not counting the Highlights cards at the start of the set, we have Jose Cardenal (#15), Lee May (#25), Ron Santo (#35), Joe Rudi (#45), Bobby Bonds (#55) and Don Gullett (#65). All excellent players, although maybe not the biggest and brightest of the day.

There are some players with cards ending in "5" that really don't deserve the honor. One is coming up at #85. That's the same card that breaks up the team pattern. Who is that dastardly player? You'll have to wait.

What I thought about this card then: Didn't see it. But I was a closet Don Gullett fan when I was a kid. He was a lefty pitcher, who could throw hard, which was a good thing. But he pitched for the Big Red Machine and the late '70s Yankees, which was a bad thing.

What I think about this card now: Gullett almost always looked on the verge of tears on his cards. This is not as pronounced as some other photos, but a good example.

Also, the color combo matches well with Gullett's jacket. The red part anyway.

Other stuff: Gullett had an abbreviated career, thanks to arm trouble. But he enjoyed a second career as a pitching coach and ended up being inducted into the Reds' Hall of Fame.

Back facts: There are people who dispute the belief that a pitcher can get stronger as the game progresses. They used to say that about Fernando Valenzuela all the time. It does seem physically impossible. I think saying, "Gullett doesn't get as tired as other pitchers during the course of a game," might be more accurate.

Gullett was right in the middle of the peak of his career at this point. He'd have another great season in 1975.

Other blog stuff: Happy birthday to Steve Garvey, card #140 in the 1975 set. He is 61 years old today!

Monday, December 21, 2009

#64 - Dave Chalk

Card fact: This is Dave Chalk's first solo card.

What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card, but I can't recall thinking anything about it. I did like his 1976 card, in which he is in a bunting pose.

What I think about this card now: It's not terribly realistic to have Chalk take his shortstop fielding stance in the foul portion of the outfield.

Other stuff: Chalk is one of those players who suffered an injury under odd circumstances. According to a newspaper report, he sliced his middle finger while cutting open a dinner roll while on a team flight to Chicago in 1978, and was out of the lineup for 7-10 days. Perhaps that is actually what happened, but the cynical sports public is a little less trusting about the "reasons why" behind off-field injuries these days.

Back facts: I enjoy seeing animals in the cartoons. It's a welcome break from the endless string of generic ballplayer drawings.

The write-up says Chalk was considered the Angels' shortstop of the future. But he played as much third base as shortstop for them during the 1970s. The Angels gave up on the "shortstop of the future" thing when they traded Chalk to the Rangers for a washed-up Bert Campaneris.

I thought I'd show the regular-sized and mini cards side-by-side as I haven't done that for awhile.

Other blog stuff: 558 cards down the scanning chute!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

#63 - Steve Swisher

Card fact: This isn't the first card in the set to feature a player who had a son who played in the majors (Buddy Bell, Bobby Bonds). But Swisher is the first player in the set to have a son who is currently playing in the majors.

What I thought about this card then: Swisher belonged to the club of "Guys Whose Stats Suck," along with players like Gene Locklear and Pepe Frias. As children, we mercilessly mocked these guys.

What I think about this card now: I have found this card rather difficult to upgrade. I kept the card I pulled as a kid, but when I set out to complete the set, and upgrade the cards from my childhood, I had a heck of a time finding Swisher in good condition.

All I can think of is more people collect his card now because Nick Swisher is in the majors. I don't know why that would make a career back-up catcher more popular, but how else would you explain to me why I'm still not satisfied with my upgrade of this card? And I've upgraded it three times.

Other stuff: Swisher was the manager for the Triple A Buffalo Bisons in the late-1980s, just as I began following the team when I was in college. He just missed -- by a couple of years -- getting interviewed by me. Your loss, Steve. The stories you could have told.

Back facts: Did people really once call spitball pitchers "cuspidor curvers"? I know people talked funny in the old days, but that seems far-fetched for even then. ... Also, Topps has a rather broad definition of "fine rookie campaign," since in this case it includes batting .214.

Oldie but goodie: Here is the original Swisher card from when I was 9.

Not bad for a 34-year-old card, especially when it's from a time when no one knew what a penny sleeve was.

Other blog stuff: I'm going with "the lime design" for this color combo. It works for me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

#62 - Fritz Peterson

Card fact: This is the first example of what I would call a "classic 1970s card." In other words, the player features the typical wild hair of the day, is looking off into the distance, and is airbrushed into his new team cap and uniform. That is a 1970s trifecta right there.

What I thought about this card then: Did not see it. I'm sure if I did, I would wonder why Snidely Whiplash had received a baseball card.

What I think about this card now: It just disturbs me. Peterson seems almost sinister, like someone you wouldn't trust and would be wary around. I don't know why I feel that way. But I think I can blame most of it on his mustache.

Other stuff: Where to begin? How about where everyone else does? Just about everyone knows Fritz Peterson as the guy who swapped wives (and kids and dogs) with his good friend and teammate Mike Kekich. But there is so much more.

Peterson was roommates with Ball Four author Jim Bouton, and was a noted prankster. He was booed at nearly every stadium after news of his wife swapping became public. He remains married to the former Mrs. Kekich. Later in life, he became a hockey radio announcer, a salesman, a casino dealer and an author. He has written a new book. He is an evangelical Christian and is battling prostate cancer.

Back facts: Funny. He's left-handed. He certainly did a good job of keeping the stereotype alive.

Other blog stuff: Continuing the scanning watch: 537 cards scanned, 123 to go.

Friday, December 18, 2009

#61 - Dave Winfield

Card fact: Back-to-back Hall of Famers! Woo-hoo!

What I thought of this card then: I never saw a card of Winfield's until 1977.

What I think of this card now: This is just Winfield's second card and it looks it. He also looks like he knows he's going to conquer the world. Too bad 1981 came along and smacked him upside the head. ... Also, I know someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Winfield is taking his cuts in Dodger Stadium.

Other stuff: When I was trying to complete this set, I bought this card even though it was severely off-center, because I was trying to save my cash for the most expensive cards from the set that I still needed: Aaron and Yount. I've always intended to upgrade this card, but never have.

Also, Dave Winfield was the favorite player of a stuffed bear my brother had. There is actually more to the story, and it gets really complicated. But getting into details would be weird and then I'd get calls from my brothers and there'd be too much messiness. So, let's just say, we're all fully functioning grown-ups now. Sort of.

Back facts: The second player in the set with no minor league stats. David Clyde was the first. ... Also, it's funny reading that Winfield was "an excellent pinch-hitter."

Other blog stuff: I am officially calling this color combo the "My Little Pony" design. Purple and pink are a little girl's best friends.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

#60 - Fergie Jenkins

Card fact: One of the most awesome shots in the 1975 Topps set. There aren't many action photos in the set, so when one comes along -- even though it may seem pedestrian by today's standards -- it really jumps out.

What I thought about this card then: I'm beginning to get really pissed off that I didn't see all these amazing cards when I was a kid.

What I think about this card now: This card makes up for Jenkins' first card as a Ranger, the 1974 Topps card. In that card, he is hatless and the photo is cropped so you can't see Jenkins' team name, which would have been the Cubs. It's basically a terrible card.

Other stuff: Jenkins is the first ballplayer I ever heard of being involved in drugs. In 1980, he was found in possession of drugs at an airport in Toronto. I remember thinking, "Oh, that's bad," but not much else. I wonder how many players have been connected to drugs since that time? Hundreds, I'm sure.

Back facts: There's that blank space before the totals again. I don't know the reason for that.

Also, look at Jenkins' stats between 1967 and 1974. With the exception of the 1973 season, that is one impressive body of work. I mean, I knew he was good and in the Hall of Fame and all, but my gosh, for awhile there everyone must have thought he was going to win 20 games a season every year of his career.

Finally, Charley Pride's name is mispelled as "Charlie" in the cartoon. Pride played baseball in the Negro Leagues and in the minor leagues for the Yankees. He's a longtime fan of the Rangers, which is possibly why he was mentioned on the back of Jenkins' card.

Other blog stuff: Only 138 cards in the set left to be scanned.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

#59 - Ken Henderson

Card fact: Just the second switch-hitter featured in the set. Joe Lovitto was the first.

What I thought about this card then: I pride myself on knowing exactly which cards I saw during my first year of collecting. But this card photo and player are so non-descript that it's possible I did see this card as a 9-year-old and it didn't register.

What I think about this card now: I believe I just gave you my thoughts on that. Otherwise, it looks like Henderson and his teammates are playing on a tilted American Legion field.

Other stuff: For me, the most important thing about this card is that it is the bridge between his 1974 Topps card:

And his 1976 Topps card:

Now that is a metamorphosis. The interesting thing is Henderson appears in the mustache and tinted glasses only in his '76 card. He goes back to clean-shaven Henderson for the remainder of his career.

Back facts: First, Kenneth Joseph Henderson is one of those names where if you've never seen the player before, you might assume he is of a different ethnic background than his is.

Secondly, I see that after writing that "Ken does everything smoothly" they narrowed it down to hitting, throwing, running and sliding. No mention of fielding, though. Apparently that's not important.

Other blog stuff: I've scanned in just six cards since my last update. So I am going to fix that right now and start scanning!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

#58 - Chuck Taylor

Card fact: This is the first full-body action shot in the set. And, believe it or not, it won't be the last one.

What I thought about this card then: I really missed out. I never saw it, and I would have loved it.

What I think about this card now: It has a lot going for it: warming up in the bullpen, the teammates lounging in the background, the powder-blue unis, the chain-link fence. If only Taylor was sporting a mustache.

Other stuff: Chuck Taylor was a mediocre pitcher who bounced around from team to team and pitched mostly in relief. Unfortunately, he's not the guy who invented the world famous sneaker of the same name that is a fashion icon among a wide variety of musical genres, from '50s greasers to punks to grunge wailers to girl garage rockers. Nope, Chuck was just a guy who pitched for a living.

Back facts: "Fireman" was a common term for relief pitchers when I was a kid. I don't know when that term was phased out. Early 1980s, I'm guessing?

Also, the wording at the bottom is odd. I've never heard of anyone "banging" into a double play.

Other blog stuff: Coming up with a name for this color combo is difficult because there are so many things that use red and blue together. But if we throw yellow into the mix, I could call it the "primary colors" combo. Hmmmm.

Monday, December 14, 2009

#57 - Dave Johnson

Card fact: I think Davey Johnson (I like to call him "Davey") would agree that this photo is much better than the photo that Topps used for Johnson the previous year.

In 1974, Topps showed Johnson swinging and missing as the ball visibly sails past him (although I suppose it's more likely that he fouled it off). This might be one of the great humiliations on cardboard. Nothing like having kids laugh at you whenever they pulled your card.

What I thought about this card then: Alas, I didn't see it.

What I think about this card now: It took me a good, long time to find a centered card of Johnson. For awhile, the card I had featured virtually no border on the left-hand side. And every time I looked for a replacement, I kept finding the same thing: a very narrow border on the left. But, finally, at the last card show I went to, I found a well-centered Johnson (keep your cracks to yourself).

Other stuff: It's difficult to be a much-traveled figure in the majors and be loved everywhere you go. Johnson seems to be well-liked in Baltimore and Atlanta, where he played most of his career. And he managed the Mets to a World Series title, so they like him in there. But, speaking as a Dodger fan, I was not thrilled with him, during his managerial days in L.A. Not good times.

Back facts: Johnson's most famous season as a player was his 1973 season when he hit 43 home runs. That is 25 more home runs than he hit in any other single season of his 13-year career. If he had done that in, say, 2003, people would be checking his urine.

Other blog stuff: Birthday time: Former Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez was born on this date in 1975. He actually pitched for the Phillies a few times last year. I did not know that.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

#56 - Rick Wise

Card fact: This is Wise's first card in an official Red Sox uniform. He is airbrushed into a Red Sox cap on his 1974 Topps card.

What I thought about this card then: Wise was one of those pitchers that I always liked and wanted on my team, chiefly because he played for three teams that I always liked: the Phillies, Cardinals and Red Sox. (Later, he'd play for the Indians and Padres). I acquired this card a few years after 1975, which means I sought out this card and purchased it with the pathetic amount of cash I made as a paperboy.

What I think about this card now: Wise looks like he's been drugged.

Other stuff: Wise is known for a few things: he was traded for Steve Carlton, he was the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, he played in the Little League World Series. But I like this quote attributed to him: "The designated hitter rule is like having someone else take Wilt Chamberlain's free throws." No argument here.

Back facts: The write-up on the bottom is mentioned several times on Wise's baseball cards. It has to be one of the best single-game accomplishments ever. I know I was impressed as a kid.

When I saw the cartoon as a kid, I thought Woodrow Wilson was balancing a bird cage with his bat. Silly me. It was a drawing of the White House in the background, not a bird cage.

Other blog stuff: Nothing about the blog, really, but I wanted to show this other card I have of Rick Wise:

Great shape, right? This card represents the line between when I treated cards as toys, much like a Matchbox car or a ball, and when I treated cards as precious items to be preserved. My preservation abilities weren't very refined until I became a teenager in the 1980s. But after the mangling of this 1977 Rick Wise, I would never allow any of my cards to be treated this severely.

Kind of sad.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

#55 - Bobby Bonds

Card fact: This is the card that breaks up the team pattern in the set. If you have been paying extra close attention, the team pattern from the start of the set is this:

Red Sox, Braves, Expos, White Sox, Rangers, Padres, Indians, Cubs, Angels, Reds, Tigers, Mets, Yankees, A's, Phillies, Dodgers, Royals, Astros, Orioles, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, Twins, Giants

This is the end of the second rotation through the pattern, but instead of featuring a Giant, card No. 55 is a Yankee. That is because Bonds was traded from the Giants to the Yankees during the offseason in the deal for Bobby Murcer, and Topps was forced to hastily airbrush Bonds into a Yankees cap. (Wait 'til you see what they did to Murcer).

Topps resumes the team rotation a third time with no incident before things start to go haywire around card No. 85.

What I thought about this card then: Had no knowledge of it or Bonds. That's surprising, because I'm sure Bonds' trade to the Yankees was notable news to my classmates, since the Yankees' thought police had infiltrated our school. I liked the 1976 Bonds card a lot. But by the time I was aware of him, he was bouncing from team to team.

What I think about this card now: Not a horrible airbrushing job, by 1970s standards. You'll see some beauties later in the set.

Other stuff: To me, Bonds marked the arrival of the modern ballplayer -- someone who could both hit for power and run like the wind, but also strike out a ton. He was not exactly unique, but the frequency of this kind of player increased rapidly after he came into the league.

Other than that, my other thought -- and it's a constant one -- is, what the heck did he do to Barry to make him turn out that way? I know that's an unkind thing to say, and I don't mean to suggest that Barry's behavior is entirely papa's fault. But damn, I'd like to think Bobby took his son aside early on and say, "You're acting like a fool. Be good." Maybe he did, I don't know. Barry did an awful lot to make a dad proud, but he also did an awful lot to make a dad wince, or at least this dad wince.

Back facts: The date of the trade is interesting for two reasons. First, Topps had to have its set just about ready to go by the end of October since it was forced to airbrush Bonds' cap. Secondly, when was the last time you saw a significant trade pulled off in October? That's because in 1974, the World Series was done by October 22.

Final thought about the trade: both Bonds and Murcer are deceased. That will make you feel old.

Other blog stuff: I scanned in Nolan Ryan's card the other day. That means 500 cards in the set are on file. Just 160 to go!

Friday, December 11, 2009

#54 - Eric Soderholm

Card fact: This is the second straight card of a player born in Upstate New York (1982 Topps blog will be glad to hear it). I'd like to say that I knew Soderholm was born in Cortland, N.Y., all along, since the town is a half hour from where I grew up. But until today I never knew that. He couldn't have stayed in the area for too long. I know he went to high school in Miami.

What I thought about this card then: I salvaged this card from the toy chest of my good friend, Jennifer, when I was a kid. Jennifer collected cards in 1975 because that's what a lot of kids did in 1975. But she was younger than I was and less, shall we say, committed to her cards. When I was at her house, I found this card ripped up in her toy chest. I carefully gathered the pieces, taped them together and brought the card home. It looked terrible. There were parts missing. Not good. I eventually threw the card away. And if you knew how difficult it is for me to throw a card away, then you'd know it was a hopeless case.

What I think about this card now: Soderholm has quite the intense look on his face.

Other stuff: Soderholm is mostly known for being one of the early free agents, signing with the White Sox, and being part of the Southside Hit Men in the summer of 1977. He won Comeback Player of the Year honors that year. But after his playing career, he became a successful businessman, owning his own ticket agency in Chicago, and then moving onto the healing arts business.

Back facts: "Eric Thane Soderholm" ... he sounds like a Viking. Also, that cartoon trivia answer may be correct forever.

Other blog stuff: I have stumbled upon yet another color combination. Several posts ago, I thought we had gone through all the combos, but this is the first red-orange combination in the set. So that makes 17 total combinations so far -- 18 if you include the All-Star variation. I'm not going to list them all, for fear I'll miss another one. When I'm absolutely sure, I will again.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

#53 - Dave Giusti

Card fact: This is the second pitcher from Upstate New York featured in the set. I'm sure nobody cares about that but me.

What I thought about this card then: Missed it. I also didn't pull his final two cards from the '76 and '77 sets. As a result, I was totally unaware of Giusti's career.

What I think about this card now: What the devil is that black piece of material stuck to his left shoulder?

Other stuff: Giusti is something of a hero among old-timers in Central New York. He pitched Syracuse University to the College World Series in 1961. That was back when SU had a baseball team. Now, the college proudly features sports that make me snore.

Also, the Dodgers absolutely lit up Giusti in the 1974 NLCS. Here are his stats: 3 G, 0-1, 3 1/3 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 5 BB, 1 SO, 21.60 ERA. Sorry I missed that.

Back facts: (Looks like someone tried to put out a cigarette at the top). A couple of things about the cartoon:

a) The font for the question is different than in the other cartoons. The question must have contained too many words.

b) The player in the cartoon appears to be carrying a jug of some sort, which I thought a curious choice of illustration. Upon closer inspection, I can barely make out the word "bleach" on the jug. Get it? "Bleach," "bleachers"? Wow, that's a stretch.

Other blog stuff: Weeeee! 477 cards scanned.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

#52 - Darrell Porter

Card fact: The first card in the set to feature someone wearing glasses.

What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card as a 9-year-old. To this day, the regular-sized card looks strange to me, and I can say that for most of the cards that I knew only as minis in 1975.

What I think about this card now: A mudslide appears to be pulling down the stadium! Oh, sorry, it's just another tilted background.

Other stuff: Porter's battle with drug and alcohol addiction is well-chronicled. He was a feel-good story in the 1982 World Series, winning the MVP award. For years, he seemed to have his life turned around. But when news of his death hit the papers, I knew immediately that his past had returned -- and this time it was fatal. It's a very sad story.

Back facts: For years, if someone asked who made the last unassisted triple play in the major leagues, fans instantly said, "Ron Hansen." His 1968 solo triple was the only one that occurred between one by the Tigers' Johnny Neun in 1927 and one by the Phillies' Mickey Morandini in 1992. But since Morandini, an unassisted triple play has happened six more times.

What's the reason for that? Don't know. My fuddy-duddy-grumpy instinct is to blame it on the horrible base running in the majors these days. But that doesn't explain why there were six unassisted triple plays in the 1920s, including two on back-to-back days!

Other blog stuff: The Porter entry gives me a chance to display this:

I received it the other day from a collector, known as mr haverkamp on The Bench. You'll note the Porter card in the center of the panel (as well as the glorious creases). But the real reason I received this 1975 Hostess panel is because of the Ron Cey card. It's one I need of my favorite player.

Food issue cards from the '70s are the best. And I know I should keep this panel intact, even if it's creased beyond repair. But I'm sure I'll break it up. Cards are meant to be 2 1/2-by-3 1/2. They're meant to run free!