Friday, April 30, 2010

#185 - Steve Carlton


Card fact: One day after dropping into last place by itself, red-orange (the Burger King combo), re-ties brown-tan for the least number of cards with 7.

What I thought about this card then: I did not have it, although I think this is another one of those cards that I saw in that display in Cooperstown. I'm sure I thought it was one of the greatest cards I ever saw.

What I think about this card now: It is quite odd to see Steve Carlton with a mustache. He appears with a mustache on his 1975 and 1976 cards and that's it.

Other stuff: Hall of Famer Carlton is one of the greatest left-handers in any sport, and one of the best pitchers of all-time. "Lefty" was the all-time strikeout leader for a brief period in the 1980s before Nolan Ryan took the record for good.

Even though Carlton faced the Dodgers in too many important games AND didn't talk to the media, I couldn't help but hold some fascination for him. He was a great pitcher who marched to his own drummer, he was left-handed, and he played for my Plan B team. I was always happy to pull his card from a pack.

Card facts: Sammy Sosa now holds the record for most home runs in one month with 20 in June, 1998.

Take a good look at Carlton's 1972 season. I know just about everyone knows about that season, but the numbers are still incredible. One of the best seasons by a pitcher ever.

Apparently, the following season in which he lost 20 games touched off his practice of not speaking to the media. The line of questioning was apparently harsh and his unorthodox training methods were taken to task.

Other blog stuff: I went back and looked. This is the 10th in-game action shot in the set. Some are questionable, but the bar was low in '75.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

#184 - Jorge Orta


Card fact: I'll go with a player fact. Orta's name was pronounced "Jorj," not "Hor-hay."

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it.

What I think about this card now: Orta looks forlorn, like the guys in the background refused to let him play with them.

Other stuff: Orta is known mostly for his part in the controversial play in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. Orta led off the ninth inning with the Royals trailing the Cardinals 1-0 in the game and 3-2 in the Series. He  grounded a ball to Jack Clark, who tossed to pitcher Todd Worrell at first. Worrell tagged the bag before Orta, but umpire Don Denkinger called Orta safe. The Cardinals did not take it well.

The Royals went on to win that game and then won Game 7 easily when the Cardinals, seemingly still wrapped up in the call from the previous game, imploded. It was ugly.

Cover your ears, Cardinals fans, but I was rooting for the Royals in this series, so I was quite pleased.

Aside from that, Orta was a fine hitter for the White Sox throughout the 1970s. He finished second in the American League in batting average in 1974 and was utilized at several positions. He was one of my more favorite players from the '70s.

After he signed with the Indians as a free agent, Orta gradually became a platoon hitter. He had one miserable year with the Dodgers in 1982, then finished up with the Blue Jays and Royals as a role player.

Back facts: Maury Wills stole a then-record 104 bases in 1962.

I was always intrigued every time there was a line that said "Not In Organized Ball." What was he doing? My mind reeled with possibilities.

Also, the blurb at the bottom of the card kills me. Especially in light of the controversial play in '85. "So fast that the umpire calls him safe when he isn't!"

Other blog stuff: This is just the seventh brown-tan combo card, but it pulls "brown-tan," or "chocolate-vanilla," out of a last-place tie with the red-orange combo.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

#183 - Mel Stottlemyre

Card fact: This is the final card of Mel Stottlemyre during his playing career. That makes it three straight cards that I have said that.

What I thought about this card then: This was the first Yankee that I ever saw from this set. I know I had the card, but I lost it rather early on in 1975. I probably traded it to some greedy, grubby Yankee fan. I always liked the card. It seemed to have a classic look to it, and its the first Yankee card I think of when I think of this set.

What I think about this card now: It occurs to me that I have never known what Stottlemyre looked like as a young man. By the time I knew who he was, he was at the end of his career. After that, I only knew him as someone who walked out to the mound to talk to pitchers or sat in the dugout.

Other stuff: Stottlemyre made an immediate impact with the Yankees in 1964, pitching in three games in the World Series against the Cardinals that year, his rookie season. He won 20 games the following year, and won 20 games two other times. He was one of the most consistent players on a Yankee team that was not very good between 1965-75.

Stottlemyre pitched his entire career for the Yankees, then made his name as a pitching coach, particularly with the Mets and the Yankees. He was Davey Johnson's pitching coach during the 1986 World Series, and Joe Torre's pitching coach during the Yankees' run from 1996-2005.

Stottlemyre also is the father of former major leaguers Todd and Mel Jr. Todd always seemed very hyper to me.

Back facts: I just noticed that a lot of the cartoons appear to be about Pirates. I should go back through and see which team is mentioned the most.

Also, there's a typo in Stottlemyre's ERA for 1967. It looks like he had a 296 ERA that year.

Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song in the country on this date in 1975 was "Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" by B.J. Thomas. Now that's just being wordy for the sake of being wordy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

#182 - Don Hahn

Card fact: This is the final card in Don Hahn's major league career.

What I thought about this card then: When I was trying to complete this set back in 2004, I came across this card and the memories of me and my brother being horrified by Hahn's appearance came rushing back. I had completely forgotten about the card. I believe I may have let out a laugh when I saw It again.

What I think about this card now: Hahn's red hair matches very well with the border colors and the border colors match very well with the Mets colors. So, naturally, it follows that Hahn's hair matches well with the Mets colors. Is that what is known as harmonic convergence on a baseball card?

Other stuff: Hahn's career consisted of six years of part-time duty. The only season in which he came close to being a starter was 1974 when he had 323 at-bats in 110 games. He came up with the Montreal Expos and was in center field for the Expos' very first game.

Wikipedia mentions the game and, in one of its less kind moments, says: Hahn's first major league at-bat came in the second inning of the game; he struck out, which pretty much set the tone for his career.

Come on, give the guy a break.

Hahn didn't play for the Mets in 1975, but did play for three teams in his final year -- the Cardinals, Phillies and Padres.

Back facts: Hahn still holds the record for the most at-bats in a World Series game. His seven at-bats came in Game 2 of the 1973 World Series. The Mets beat the A's 10-7. Hahn went 1-for-7 and drove in a run.

Other blog stuff: Astros third baseman Pedro Feliz was born on this date in the very year we are celebrating. Happy 35th to Mr. Feliz.

Monday, April 26, 2010

#181 - Fred Beene


Card fact: This is the final card of Fred Beene issued during his major league career.

What I thought about this card then: I didn't have it and neither did my brother or my friends. I do remember seeing it somewhere, perhaps when we made a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the entire 1975 set was displayed before me. I know we would have had a field day with the last name, the longish hair, the look off into the distance.

What I think about this card now: Beene is airbrushed into an Indians uniform. He is most likely a Yankee in this photo.

Other stuff: This is the second straight post about a guy who was rather short for a major leaguer. At 5-foot-9, Beene endured constant questions about his height. He played in the Orioles organization, but struggled to break through since the O's had such great pitchers in the late '60s/early '70s. Eventually, Beene was traded to the Yankees. He enjoyed a strong 1973 season out of the bullpen, but was traded to the Indians early in the 1974 season.

That deal, which sent Beene, Fritz Peterson, Steve Kline and Tom Buskey to Cleveland for Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw, apparently enraged the Yankees players who thought management was breaking up a great group. But the deal turned out very well for New York. (Topps was not able to get a photo of Beene as an Indian, even though he was traded to the team nearly a year before the set was issued. A pretty common problem back then).

Beene suffered arm trouble and didn't play in the majors past the 1975 season. He later served as a scout and was the guy who got Jim Morris signed to the Brewers. Morris was the player who quit baseball due to arm issues then came back 10 years later, made his major league debut for the Devil Rays at age 35, and was later played by Dennis Quaid in the movie "The Rookie."


Card facts: He is listed as 5-8 on the back of his card, but I've seen him mentioned as 5-9 elsewhere. ... I think "Spent 8 seasons in O's farm system" isn't exactly a career highlight.

Other blog stuff: If you want to read a detailed account on Beene, here it is. It sure came in handy. I haven't found stuff even half as complete for players far more accomplished than Beene. I guess that's what happens when you were a Yankee.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

#180 - Joe Morgan


Card fact: This the first of three Reds all-star cards in the set. The Reds don't have the most, though. That honor goes to the Dodgers (Yay!)

What I thought about this card then: (*sigh*) I am a bit reluctant to admit it, but I kind of liked Joe Morgan when I was a kid. I know he played for the Big Red Machine -- which I didn't like at all -- but in the beginning Morgan seemed like a cool guy on a card. Later, when the BRM kept winning, he began to bother me. And then when Morgan went to the Giants, he really began to bother me. And then when he hit that home run in 1982 and pumped his fist as he ran around the bases he really, really began to bother me. And then when he became a self-important broadcaster, he really, really, REALLY began to bother me. And then when he became Barry Bonds' biggest apologist he really, really, REALLY, REALLY began to bother me.

I guess I can never go back to being 9 years old again.

What I think about this card now: That is one hell of a tilted field.

Other stuff: As just about everyone knows, Morgan began his career as a Houston Colt .45, was traded from the Astros to the Reds in a deal that turned out fantastically for Cincinnati, and helped the Reds to back-to-back World Series titles in two years in which he won back-to-back National League MVP awards. After his Reds career, he bounced around between the Astros, Giants, Phillies and A's, returning to the World Series with the Phillies in 1983.

Morgan was known for his short stature, his chicken flap maneuver before he swung at a pitch and his clutch-hitting (many times against the Dodgers, it seemed).

Even though many consider Morgan the greatest second baseman in the game, he is known more now for his broadcasting and his steadfast opposition to any kind of statistical analysis of the game. From what I've gathered, he refuses to read "Moneyball," which he has criticized several times. How can you criticize a book you won't read?

Many folks also cite Morgan for the Veterans Committee's inability to vote players into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In short, he's not too popular with a lot of fans.


Back facts: Five-foot-7 and 150 pounds. Would they let anyone even close to a major league field these days with those kind of vitals?


Oldie but goodie: Here is the Morgan card I had when I was 9, back when I liked the guy.

Other blog stuff: Time to add a second baseman to the all-star squad:

AL


1B -
2B -
3B - Brooks Robinson
SS - Bert Campaneris
OF -
OF -
OF -
C - Carlton Fisk
P -

NL

1B - Steve Garvey
2B - Joe Morgan
3B -
SS -
OF - Hank Aaron
OF -
OF -
C -
P -

Saturday, April 24, 2010

#179 - Tom Bradley

Card fact: This is one of six cards of Tom Bradley during his major league career. Fortunately, he is wearing great glasses in every single one.

What I thought about this card then: The glasses, no doubt, were my main focus. Also, Bradley's last name is the same as my brother's first name, so we thought that was a little cool.

What I think about this card now: I miss this traditional pose on baseball cards. It's almost like a three-point stance in football. This pose appeared constantly in 1970s baseball cards.

Other stuff: Bradley enjoyed three straight seasons of double-figure wins with the White Sox and the Giants, and then his career quickly dissipated. In 1971 and 1972, he struck out more than 200 batters for the White Sox, and that helped Chicago land Steve Stone in a trade with the Giants.

Bradley later became a coach and has coached on both the collegiate and professional level for a number of teams. He was the University of Maryland's baseball coach during the 1990s.

According to his wikipedia page, Bradley was the person who nicknamed Rich Gossage "Goose," which he thought described how Gossage appeared when the Goose looked in for a sign.

Back facts: Look at that ERA in 1974. That looks lousy now, but it was even more lousy in the 1970s when pitchers had ERAs of 2 and in the low 3's on a regular basis.

Oldie but goodie: Here is the Bradley card that I pulled from a pack when I was 9:


Other blog stuff: Chipper Jones celebrated his third birthday on this date in 1975.

Friday, April 23, 2010

#178 - Cesar Tovar

Card fact: Cesar Tovar ended his career appearing with four different teams in four consecutive years: as a Phillie in 1974 Topps, a Ranger in 1975 Topps, an Athletic in 1976 Topps and a Yankee in 1977 Topps.

What I thought about this card then: This was the first card that my brother ever pulled from a pack of baseball cards. Now that I think of it, it is the reason why Texas was his second favorite team as a kid. The card looks strange without scuff marks, because I saw it in its worn state so much when I was young.

What I think about this card now: The card border is crooked. It's a constant problem with '75 Topps.

Other stuff: The first thing I think of when I hear Cesar Tovar is that he is one of four players to play every position in one game. He did it against Oakland in 1968.

Tovar was known for his versatility. He was a valuable member of the Twins' teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s, playing at least 150 games a season, but not necessarily having a primary position. He received AL MVP award votes five consecutive seasons.

Tovar died in 1994. He is in the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame.

Back facts: Back-to-back cards with cartoons featuring a catcher. I've written before about my feelings concerning left-handed catchers.

Other blog stuff: Valerie Bertinelli is 50 years old today. Damn.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

#177 - Vic Correll

Card fact: This is Vic Correll's rookie card. Hands off. This item is going to make me a million.

What I thought about this card then: I never saw it. In fact, when I was trying to complete the set several years ago, it was one of the final cards I needed to finish off the set. Vic Correll. Who would have thought?

What I think about this card now: The Braves cap doesn't look quite right. I'm wondering if it's airbrushed. Also, I want to say he has a chaw going, so I can add it to the list, but I can't tell.

Other stuff: Correll was a career backup catcher mostly for the Braves and Reds. I remember having his 1976 Topps card -- which by the way was in horrendous shape -- and not being impressed with his batting average at all.

I'm a bit afraid to say that after reading the comments here. Apparently, Correll is a very nice man, and did some nice things. I appreciate that. I appreciate it more than a lot of people. But the folks getting all defensive on that post must not understand what it means to be a fan. Facts are facts. The guy didn't hit much in the majors. There's no crime in saying that. And, no, I don't believe I need to have been a major leaguer to state facts. I hate that stupid argument.

Back facts: Kind of nice that they have a cartoon about a catcher on the back of a catcher's card.

Also, a grand slam against the Giants for your first home run is fantastic. Mr. Correll, you are all right with me.

Other blog stuff: The only player in this set celebrating a birthday today is David Clyde. He was 20 when the set came out. He is 55 today.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

#176 - Burt Hooton

Card fact: This is Burt Hooton's final card as a Chicago Cub.

What I thought about this card then: Not familiar with it.

What I think about this card now: Look at all the head room in the photo. It reminds me of the early 1980s Fleer shots in which some players looked abnormally short because of all the dead space above the player's head.

Other stuff: Hooton was one of the few major leaguers to never pitch in the minors. The Cubs started him the majors in 1971. Hooton threw a no-hitter in his fourth major league start in 1972, but he was best known as a regular starter for the Dodgers.

Hooton pitched in several notable postseason games for Los Angeles. He gave up the first of Reggie Jackson's three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, and he was the NLCS MVP when the Dodgers beat the Expos in 1981. I remember him specifically for his start in Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS against the Phillies. That series was my first experience with my favorite team playing in the postseason. And that game was my first experience with a pitcher having a meltdown under pressure.

Hooton walked in three straight batters in the bottom of the second inning to turn a 2-0 Dodgers lead into a 3-2 Phillies lead. I was beside myself. Fortunately, that was also the game in which the Dodgers, down to their final out, rallied for three runs to win the game 6-5 and go on to take the series.

Hooton, now a pitching coach in the Astros organization, is also the only guy I remember throwing the knuckle-curve. Apparently, Jason Isringhausen also threw it and there is a variation of the pitch that several current players throw or have thrown, including Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander. But you couldn't watch a start by Hooton without the announcers talking about the knuckle-curve pitch.

Hooton was nicknamed "Happy" by Tommy Lasorda because Burt didn't smile much.

Oh, and it drove me nuts when people would spell his last name "Hooten."

Back facts: The write-up alludes to Hooton's poor 1974. He was traded to the Dodgers for Eddie Solomon and Geoff Zahn. Neither did all that much for the Cubs. Zahn turned out to be a good pitcher, but that was after he left the Cubs.

Other blog stuff: This is the second straight green-purple card. "Green-purple" is about to make a major run in the next 25 or so cards. Let's see if it can catch "orange-brown" and "green-light green" for the lead.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

#175 - Don Money


Card fact:
No fact today, just an observation: both Don Money and Dave Cash played for the Phillies in the 1970s, but not at the same time. That's unfortunate. Imagine the possibilities with both Cash and Money playing in an infield at the dawn of free agency.

What I thought about this card then: Didn't see it. But Money was an adopted favorite of mine. I don't know why. It was probably because of his last name. But I do remember coveting his 1979 Topps all-star card.

What I think about this card now: Nothing other than the same thing I thought as a kid: what a cool name.

Other stuff: I grew up hearing constantly that Money was an exceptional fielder. He put together a couple of long error-less streaks and his nickname was "Brooks," after Brooks Robinson. But he never won a Gold Glove award.

Money was traded from the Phillies to make way for Mike Schmidt at third base. With the Brewers, Money blossomed as a hitter and was a regular with Milwaukee for a decade. He finished his pro career in Japan, but famously left abruptly in mid-season after he and his family struggled to adjust to life in the country. Money has worked as a manager in the Brewers organization for the last 12 years.


Back facts:
I think this is the dullest back since I began this blog. I have nothing to say.

Other blog stuff: As you can see by the poll, "Try Again" was the winner as far as what we should name the green-yellow combo. I will try again, but if I get stuck, I'm going with "Lymon/Sprite." I think it works somewhat:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

#174 - Bake McBride


Card fact: This is Bake McBride's rookie card.

What I thought about this card then: You are looking at one of my favorite cards in the set when I was a kid. I remember pulling this card after a trip to the drug store with my friends when our family was on vacation. It instantly became one of the few cards that I had that was "untradeable."

What I think about this card now: It's a nice photo and a good look at old Busch Stadium. As for McBride's autograph, I'm wondering where the first quote mark is. Perhaps it's lost in the cardinal on McBride's uniform.

Other stuff: McBride was the National League Rookie of the Year for his performance in 1974. He was known for his speed, base-stealing and hitting ability. He enjoyed some solid seasons for the Cardinals and Phillies. He was traded before the 1982 season to the Indians and suffered through an eye issue that cut down on his playing time. By 1984, dealing with knee issues that plagued him during his career, he tried to return to the majors with the Rangers, but ended up retiring at age 34.

To this day, McBride is the player I point out when I mention that players back in the '70s and early '80s were much skinner than they are today. If you ever get a chance to see old footage of the Phillies or Cardinals from back then, you'll know what I mean. McBride has about a five-inch wide frame but stands 6-foot-2.

Back facts: Two things from my childhood: 1. McBride's 1974 stat line impressed me very much as a kid and was one of the factors that made the player a favorite of mine. 2. I have known McBride's real name is "Arnold" for a long, long time.

One other thing: What kind of mind game was Topps playing on McBride? That is some kind of pressure, saying that a rookie is a threat to Lou Brock's freshly made single-season stolen base record!

Other blog stuff: Time to plug in an outfielder on the Topps All-Rookie team for 1974:

1B - Mike Hargrove
2B - ?
3B - Bill Madlock
SS - ?
OF - Bake McBride
OF - ?
OF - ?
C - ?
P - Frank Tanana

Saturday, April 17, 2010

#173 - Steve Rogers


Card fact: The third straight yellow-red card of a player in the shadows. The previous two were Willie Montanez and the Bert Campaneris all-star card.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it.

What I think about this card now: A couple of things. First, it's one of those awful shots where you can't see the player's face. I can't even tell what Steve Rogers is doing in this photo. Is he trying to pick off someone at first base?

Secondly, early cards of Rogers look odd to me, because I always knew Rogers with a mustache. This seems like another man.

Other stuff: Rogers is the most successful pitcher in Expos history and spent his entire career with Montreal. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1973 and second in the Cy Young Award voting in 1982.

Rogers was one of those pitchers that the media would always call underrated. ABC enjoyed doing that during the 1981 postseason. They talked the Expos up and they talked Rogers up. And then Rogers came on in relief during the final game against the Dodgers and gave up the winning home run to Rick Monday. I was very happy.

But even though former Expos manager Dick Williams disparaged Rogers' ability in a book, Rogers was in fact one of the better pitchers in the National League in the early 1980s.

Back facts: Losing 22 games in one season is crazy. Rogers, Randy Jones and Bill Bonham all lost 22 games in 1974, and no one has lost as many games in a season since.

As for the cartoon, Jim Spencer was a 1970s player that we'll see later on in the set.

Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song on this date in 1975 was "Philadelphia Freedom," by Elton John.

Friday, April 16, 2010

#172 - Red Sox/Darrell Johnson


Card fact: This is Darrell Johnson's first appearance on a card as a manager. He was promoted from Triple A Pawtucket to manage Boston for the 1974 season. He would lead the Red Sox to their first World Series appearance in eight years in 1975.

What I thought about this card then: No memory of it.

What I think about this card now: It's an interesting team photo. Unlike the traditional straight-on shot, the camera man shot the team from above at an angle. I like it.

Other stuff: Johnson was manager of the Red Sox for just two-and-a-half seasons. He was replaced midway through the 1976 season by Don Zimmer after Boston went 41-45. He would later become the first manager in Seattle Mariners history.


Back facts: Red Sox rookie Fred Lynn is featured in this set on one of the four-photo rookie cards, but he is left off of the checklist.

Other blog stuff: Let's see how well Topps did representing the 1974 Red Sox in the '75 set:

There were 37 players to suit up for the Red Sox in 1974, a pivotal year in the team's return to prominence. Topps featured 26 of those players in the 1975 set, which is pretty good.

The most unfortunate absence in the set is Juan Marichal, who pitched in 11 games and went 5-1 in 1974 with the Red Sox. Marichal would return to the majors for the 1975 season, albeit briefly, with the Dodgers. He pitched in two games. It sure would have nice to see Marichal in the 1975 set.

Also missing is Dick McAuliffe, who had 272 at-bats in 100 games for the Red Sox. But McAuliffe took a job as a Red Sox minor league manager for the 1975 season. The Red Sox returned McAuliffe to the field in September of 1975, and he played for Boston in seven games before retiring for good. Bob Veale also pitched in 18 games for the '74 Red Sox but that was his final year.

So the Red Sox fair pretty well in the percentage of players represented in the set. Here are the updated standings:

1. Tigers 78.37% of players featured
2. Orioles 78.13%
3. Royals 70.59%
4. Red Sox 70.27%
5. Expos 68.29%
6. Phillies 62.5%
7. Padres 55.8%

Thursday, April 15, 2010

#171 - Ed Kirkpatrick

Card fact: Not much to relate here. But I always found it interesting how the Pirates had two back-up catchers in the mid-1970s, both named Ed, one with a really long last name of Kirkpatrick and one with a really short name of Ott. Little things amuse me.

What I thought about this card then: I remember this being in my collection at one point and the screen behind Kirkpatrick looked very imposing to me. I don't know why.

What I think about this card now: It's actually a nice shot. Kirkpatrick looks friendly and it's a sunny day. I don't know where I got the doom and gloom when I was a kid.

Other stuff: Kirkpatrick was a career backup catcher/utility infielder, but did spend the early 1970s as the primary catcher for the expansion Kansas City Royals. He lasted 15 years in the major leagues with a career average of .238, so I am assuming he was useful in the field.

Kirkpatrick was involved in an automobile accident in 1981 that left him in a coma for more than five months. He suffered paralysis that has confined him to a wheelchair.

Back facts: I'm guessing Freddie Hutchinson was a big man? I'm not sure why they portray him as so large in the cartoon. Hutchinson won the 1957 award with the Cardinals, but is known more for helping the Reds to the World Series in 1961 and then being stricken with lung cancer prior to the 1964 season. He managed the team until August of that year, then resigned in October, dying three weeks later. The cancer treatment center in his name is one of the most renowned of its kind in the world.

Other blog stuff: Birthday greetings to my father. He shares his birthday with Milton Bradley, of all people. He'd have a thing or two to say about him.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

#170 - Bert Campaneris

Card fact: The fifth all-star card that we've come across.

What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card and Bert Campaneris' pose is burned in my brain. This might be the only time a player is posed like that on a baseball card. It's certainly different.

What I think about this card now: As a kid, in my mind's eye, I always thought Campaneris was seated atop some building. But it looks like he's at an area at the end of the dugout or somewhere near the bullpen. It's kind of difficult for me to figure out.

Otherwise, you can't beat that shiny green jacket, the smile/grimace, the shadow across Dagoberto's face.

Other stuff: Bert Campaneris was a constant in my childhood -- a mainstay of the Oakland A's dynasty and one of the first free agents. He is one of of the best base stealers of all-time, leading the American League in the category six times. He was also a prolific bunter.

Campaneris was known for his volatile competitive nature. He threw his bat at the Tigers' Lerrin LaGrow after LaGrow hit Campaneris in the ankle during the AL Championship in 1972.

Among his other claims to fame are playing every position in a single game, which he did in 1965, and homering twice in his first game. He hit the first pitch he saw in the major leagues for a home run off of Jim Kaat.

Campaneris eventually signed with the Rangers after the 1976 season as the dismantling of the Swingin' A's began. His career started to decline after leaving the A's and he retired after the 1983 season with the Yankees, a season in which he actually hit .322 in 155 at-bats.

Back facts: Well, we're in the midst of a catcher equipment retrospective, aren't we? First the mask and now the shinguards.

Other blog stuff: Time to add to the all-star team. The left side of the infield for the American League is now complete:

AL

1B -
2B -
3B - Brooks Robinson
SS - Bert Campaneris
OF -
OF -
OF -
C - Carlton Fisk
P -

NL

1B - Steve Garvey
2B -
3B -
SS -
OF - Hank Aaron
OF -
OF -
C -
P -

Oh, and here's a look at the regular-sized card and the mini side-by-side:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

#169 - Cookie Rojas

Card fact: I'm going to say this is the first appearance of a batting donut in the set. I'm too tired to research it -- I just got off of work -- so if you want to prove me wrong, go nuts.

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

What I think about this card now: Cookie really held onto those glasses didn't he? I think everyone gave up on those kind of frames when the '60s ended, but Rojas seemed to wear them until the bitter end.

Other stuff: Rojas is well-remembered in Philadelphia and Kansas City, where he spent most of his major league time. The infielder also had an avid following in Cuba, the place of his birth.

Rojas was a regular infielder for the Phillies in the 1960s, then was traded to the Cardinals in the controversial Curt Flood deal. Rojas didn't last long in St. Louis, going to Kansas City shortly afterward. As the Royals' second baseman, his career re-blossomed and he was an All-Star four straight years. Eventually, Frank White surpassed Rojas' Royals record for most games played at second base, but a lot of fans remain fond of Cookie.

Rojas coached for quite awhile and is now an announcer for the Marlins. His son, Victor Rojas, was an announcer for the Rangers and is now an MLB Network studio host.

Back facts: Hub Pruett was a pitcher for the St. Louis Browns, Phillies, New York Giants and Boston Braves between 1922-32. He pitched with a unique fadeaway delivery and struck out Babe Ruth 15 of the 30 times he faced him, including 10 times the first 13 times the two faced off.

Other blog stuff: I said in the last post that if I didn't come up with a decent name for the green-yellow combo that I would put up a poll. Well you didn't know the next green-yellow card would come up so soon did you?

So there's a poll up. There are several suggestions there made by readers, as well as a couple lame suggestions by me. Please vote, or pick the last option and tell me to keep trying if you don't like any of the options.

Monday, April 12, 2010

#168 - Bill Greif

Card fact: This is the second of four Topps cards that Bill Greif would have during his career.

What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card. I didn't have many thoughts other than feeling sorry for the Padres players, whose stats were always horrid in the mid-1970s. Well, as sorry as a Dodger fan could feel, anyway.

What I think about this card now: Greif has a semi-quizzical look on his face in most of his cards. Also, the photo work is not very good. Not only is the stadium tilted in the background, but the cropping job makes it appear as Greif doesn't have arms.

Other stuff: Greif was a 6-foot-5 starter who was coming off the second of the two best seasons of his career. His stats weren't great, but he played for some horrible San Diego teams and was one of the team's more reliable starters during that period.

Greif was converted to a reliever for the 1975 season, and after a slow start in 1976 was shipped to St. Louis. The Cardinals traded Greif to the Expos in the offseason of '76, and Greif is airbrushed into an Expos cap and uniform on his 1977 Topps card. But he never played in the regular season for the Expos. He was released in March of 1977 and that was the end of his major league career.

Back facts: Take a good look at the information on the back of this card. Now tell me the most interesting thing, besides the word "fastball" behind hyphenated.

That's right. The Phillies and Padres played in a game that took an hour and 30 minutes to complete! Those were the days.

Other blog stuff: If I don't come up with a name for this color combination -- or someone doesn't offer a suggestion that works -- by the time the next green-yellow card comes along, I'm putting up a poll.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

#167 - Rich Coggins

Card fact: This is the middle card of a three-card Topps trilogy that spanned Rich Coggins' brief major league career.

What I thought about this card then: Well, I can't explain it, but I thought Coggins looked like a lady, so I will file this under the "dude looks like a lady" column. I don't know why I thought that. His hair isn't long. Maybe it's the way it sticks out? Maybe the smile looked motherly to me? I don't know. Kids are weird.

What I think about this card now: This may be the biggest smile in the entire set. I'll have to do some research on that.

Other stuff: Coggins finished sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1973. His teammate, Al Bumbry, finished first. Coggins is probably best known for being a part of a lopsided trade that brought Ken Singleton and Mike Torrez from the Expos to the Orioles. Coggins and Dave McNally went to the Expos.

Later, Coggins developed a thyroid condition and his career was over by the end of 1976.

Back facts: Fred Thayer developed the first catcher's mask for a player on the Harvard baseball team. The mask soon caught on everywhere and the tools of ignorance were born.

Other blog stuff: The pink-yellow combo is on quite a run lately. The "marshmallow peeps" combo is now the third-most common combo with 12 cards.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

#166 - Woodie Fryman

Card fact: This color combination is the least common one so far. This is just the sixth "blue-orange" card.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it.

What I think about this card now: You know when you look at a word over and over again and soon it doesn't make sense to you anymore? That's how I feel when I stare at these fake pitching poses that appeared over and over on cards in the '70s. After awhile, Fryman just looks like some strange robot marching stiffly toward his victim. Yes, I know that doesn't make sense. That's what I'm trying to tell you.

Other stuff: Fryman pitched for a long period for the Phillies and then for the Tigers. He was a big part of the Tigers' drive toward the American League East pennant in 1972. He also pitched for the Pirates and Reds and Cubs.

But I don't remember any of that. I remember Fryman as an Expo. During the 1981 postseason, Fryman was over 40 years old and an effective and beloved reliever for Montreal. The city loved him. ABC loved him. I remember Howard Cosell babbling on and on about Fryman, the farmer's son from Kentucky, during the Expos' division series with the Dodgers. After awhile, I had had enough. I was sick of hearing about it. I didn't like Fryman anymore and I was delighted when he got lit up by the Dodgers in Game 4 of the series. Of course, Rick Monday sent Montreal home for the season with his home run in the next game.

Take that, Cosell.

Fryman operated a farm in Kentucky until his death in Feb. 2011 at age 70.

No offense, Woodie, but I'm glad the Dodgers got that ring.



Back facts: You can see from the stats that Fryman was exclusively a starter at this stage. He didn't become a full-time reliever until his days with the Expos.

Also, Fryman shares my dad's birthday.

Other blog stuff: Ken Griffey Jr.'s dad, a fair player himself, is 60 years old today.

Friday, April 9, 2010

#165 - Doug Rader

Card fact: The "green-light green" color combo jumps back into a tie for the lead with "orange-brown" with 17 cards each.

What I thought about this card then: This card was a personal favorite of my brother's because Doug Rader shared the same first name as my brother. I'm not sure what my card equivalent was. Perhaps Greg Luzinski, although I didn't see my first Luzinski card until the 1976 Topps set.

What I think about this card now: It looks very desolate behind Rader.

Other stuff: Where do I begin? Rader is one of the great baseball "flakes" of all-time. People don't talk about him enough anymore. The things that he did when he was a player and a manager could fill a very entertaining book. Among the highlights:

  • Rader would buy ice cream, eat the paper wrapper and throw the ice cream away.
  • He drove his motorcycle into a brick wall. On purpose.
  • While with the Padres on a team flight, young rookie Mike Ivie was known to fear flying. Rader sat next to him and gave him a book. It was called "Death and Dying."
  • He once greeted a teammate and his wife completely naked because he didn't feel like talking to them. They left, and Rader said, "works every time."
  • He threw a beach party for his players when he was a manager with the Rangers. He ordered a bunch of beach towels and sun tan lotion, had the players take a spot in the outfield and the coaching staff served them hot dogs and soda.
  • After losing a game in Kansas City, a reporter's question infuriated him. He slammed his clothing rack so hard that his pants flew off the rack and landed on a reporter's head. The other reporters were so freaked out that the pants remained there until the interview session ended. Afterward, Rader walked the six miles from the stadium to his hotel room. But he took his boots off first and walked in his bare feet.
I guess that's enough for now.

Rader was a perennial Gold Glove-winner at third base during the early 1970s for the Astros. He also played for San Diego and Toronto. He was manager for the Rangers, getting into famous disputes with players on his own team. He also managed the White Sox and Angels.

He was sort of an unpredictable genius. An extremely intelligent person, but I don't think anyone knew what he was going to do next. He was over-the-top, competitive, emotional and funny as hell.

Back facts: We loved our Native American stereotypes in the 1970s, didn't we?

Oldie but goodie: Here is the original Rader card from that first year of collecting:


Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song in the country on this date in 1975 was "Lovin' You," by Minnie Ripperton. The less said about this the better.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

#164 - Mickey Rivers


Card fact: Is there a name that goes better with baseball than "Mickey"?

A list:

Mickey Rivers, Mickey Mantle, Mickey Cochrane, Mickey Lolich, Mickey Vernon, Mickey Morandini, Mickey Stanley, Mickey Tettleton, Mickey Welch, Mickey Klutts, Mickey Owen, Mickey Hatcher.

That's quite a list.

What I thought about this card then: I didn't see it. The 1976 card of Rivers pretending to look up for a fly ball is the first Rivers card I ever saw. And Rivers was a Yankee as far as my childhood was concerned.

What I think about this card now: The standard player photos of the day really failed base-stealers. These players, more than any other, seem like they should be moving. But Rivers ain't going nowhere in that photo.

Other stuff: "Mick the Quick" was a regular part of my upbringing. We would watch him every weekend (we only caught games on TV on the weekend when I was growing up) and laugh as he shuffled from the on-deck circle to home plate like he was the oldest man in the world. I remember Phil Rizzuto being particular amused by him while broadcasting the games.

I had a difficult time disliking Rivers, even though he was part of those hated Yankee teams of the late '70s. He just seemed so comical. And I had a weakness for base stealers. Rivers was probably the fastest guy ever to play for the Yankees.

Rivers came to the Yankees in the trade for Bobby Bonds. He was with New York for only three-plus years before getting traded to the Rangers. He had a great season for Texas in 1980 and then faded after that, retiring after the 1984 season.


Back facts: Evar Swanson STILL holds the record for the fastest recorded time around the bases. Swanson was an infielder for the Reds when he set that record in 1929. He was timed during a special session, not during a game. Rivers also was timed prior to a game. I'm quite sure the only reason the record hasn't been broken in 81 years is because no one has set out to break it. It's probably been broken during games many times, but I don't know if anyone is clocking players' times around the bases then. At least not for official record-keeping purposes.

Also, Sisler no longer holds the record for most hits in a season. That'd be Icheeeeerrrrrow.

Other blog stuff: I wrote briefly about the Rivers card and its Fan Favorite equivalent on my other blog, for those of you don't read the other blog.