Thursday, November 4, 2010
#361 - Dodgers/Walter Alston
Card fact: This is the 15th card in the set to feature the "brown-orange" color combination (not to be confused with the "orange-brown" combination). Out of those 15 cards, three have been Dodgers. So, the Dodgers represent one-fifth of the cards with this color combination, which suspiciously resembles the Giants' color combination. I am not putting it past Topps to pull something sneaky like this even way back in 1975.
What I thought about this card then: Naturally, I thought it was cool to see all of the Dodgers in one place. It was the one team card that meant something to me.
What I think about this card now: It is sad to see Walter Alston relegated to a tiny circle on the team card. Up until this point, Alston had received his own card in most of the sets since he became manager (his '62 Topps card is terrific, I have to feature it one day). I didn't know that when I was collecting in '75. Otherwise I would've been disappointed. Manager cards rule!
Other stuff: The Dodgers were coming off their first pennant victory and World Series appearance since 1966. After four straight seasons of finishing in second place in the N.L. West, L.A. had finally placed first and beaten Pittsburgh in the NLCS. They would go on to lose to Oakland in the World Series.
Alston was nearing the end of his 23 years as Dodger manager. The 1974 team would be his last World Series team, after taking the Dodgers to the Series in 1955, 56, 59, 63, 65 and 66. He retired in 1976 after signing 23-straight one-year contracts.
Back facts: This is a successful, veteran team so there wasn't a lot of trading or airbrushing going on with the Dodgers. But Jim Brewer, Willie Crawford and Don Sutton are the only connections (besides Alston) between the 1966 N.L. champs and the 1974 N.L. champs.
Other blog stuff: Time to figure out how well Topps represented the National League champs of 1974. Normally this gets a little tedious. But this one is going to be fun for me.
The Dodgers used just 35 players in 1974. That is tied for the second-least among the teams featured so far. Topps didn't leave out anyone big from the previous year. In fact, out of the players left out of the set, the one with the most at-bats had a whopping 18.
The player that didn't get a card who I found the most interesting is Charlie Manuel, the current Phillies manager. He played in four games for the 1974 Dodgers.
So, Topps featured 26 of the 35 players, which is pretty darn good. Here is where the Dodgers rank in comparison to other teams reviewed so far:
1. Tigers 78.37% of players featured
2. Orioles 78.13%
3. Dodgers 74.29%
4. Giants 71.43%
5. Indians 71.11%
6. Royals 70.59%
7. Red Sox 70.27%
8. Angels 68.89%
9. Expos 68.29%
10. Cardinals 65.12%
11. White Sox 65.0%
12. Phillies 62.5%
13. Pirates 61.5%
14. Padres 55.8%
Third place. I'm quite happy about that.