Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#242 - Jay Johnstone


Card fact: Jay Johnstone returns to Topps' set after being featured from 1967-72 but not in 1973 and 1974.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. The first Johnstone card I saw was the following year, 1976.

What I think about this card now: It's appropriate that Candlestick Park is tilted on the card of a known "flake."

Other stuff: Johnstone is another one of those flakey baseball characters from the 1970s and 1980s. Johnstone played nearly 20 years and bounced around between eight teams, but he received much of his publicity during the three-plus years he spent with the Dodgers. As part of a goofball foursome that included Rick Monday, Jerry Reuss and Steve Yeager, Johnstone was the head prankster on L.A.'s teams of the early 1980s.

Johnstone was known for harrassing manager Tommy Lasorda -- he once replaced all of the photos of celebrities in Lasorda's office with pictures of himself, Reuss and reliever Don Stanhouse. He seemed to enjoy dressing up in goofy costumes, and the first time I remember hearing about a teammate nailing another teammate's cleats to the floor, Johnstone was the perpetrator.

Johnstone also made an impact on the field. He was a solid-hitting role player who enjoyed several above .300 seasons. He delivered a pinch-hit homer in Game 4 of the 1981 World Series against the Yankees that helped the Dodgers rally to win that game. Johnstone later worked as a baseball announcer.

Johnstone also appeared in a couple of movies, including a short appearance in "The Naked Gun." Personally, I think he would have been a dead-ringer for Murdock in "The A-Team" movie.


Back facts: I'm not sure what happened with Johnstone in the 1973 and 1974 seasons. He played very sparingly in 1973 with Oakland after being released by the White Sox. The Cardinals purchased him in the winter of 1974, then released him, and Johnstone was signed by the Phillies in April. But the write-up on the card says he joined the Phillies in July. Perhaps he was in the minors? I'm too sleepy to research it.

Other blog stuff: A good day for the Orioles on this date in 1975. Catcher Dave Duncan hit four consecutive doubles to tie a major league record in an 8-2 victory over the first-place Red Sox. In the same game, a liner off the bat of Tony Muser broke the cheek bone of Red Sox pitcher Dick Pole. Meanwhile, the Brewers rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Yankees 5-4.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

#241 - Dick Tidrow


Card fact: This is Dick Tidrow's first card as a Yankee and his first card in which he's wearing a mustache.

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

What I think about this card now: Yankee Stadium is a little tilted.

Other stuff: Dick Tidrow built his reputation as a reliable set-up reliever for both the Yankees and the Cubs. When he was with New York, I would always get him confused with Sparky Lyle -- another mustachioed reliever on the Yankees.

Tidrow came to the Yankees from the Indians in a trade that also brought Chris Chambliss to New York. The Indians ended up with Fritz Peterson, Steve Kline, Tom Buskey and Fred Beene. It didn't work out very well for Cleveland. But nothing ever did in the 1970s.

Unlike the players who went to the Indians in the trade, Topps was able to produce a non-airbrushed photo of Dick Tidrow (all four of the players sent to the Indians are airbrushed into their Indians uniforms). That is probably because Topps was stationed in New York.

Tidrow is now the scouting director for the Giants. The Dodgers beat your team tonight, Dick.


Back facts: You may be asking how Mickey Mantle hit a home run in the Astrodome in the days before interleague play. It was an exhibition game on April 9, 1965. Mantle hit it off of the Astros' Turk Ferrell.

Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song in the country on this date in 1975 was "Love Will Keep Us Together," by the Captain and Tennille. Toni Tennille received some heat back in 1980 when she sang the National Anthem for the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium. People accused her of lip-synching, but that wasn't true.

Monday, June 28, 2010

#240 - Garry Maddox


Card fact: This is the first Maddox card with a "hero" card number (one ending in a zero). It's also the last card to feature him as a Giant. Yay!

What I thought about this card then: This, honestly, was one of my favorite cards in the set. I remember pulling it in July of 1975. Maddox seemed so regal, and the card, with its blue-and-green border, added to the effect. I'm not sure what happened to the original Maddox card I pulled. It seems like I would've held on to a card that I liked that much.

What I think about this card now: Thank goodness he's not known for being a Giant.

Other stuff: Maddox was a slick-fielding ballplayer mostly known for his success with the Phillies teams of the late 1970s. He won eight Gold Glove awards, including seven straight. Ironically, Dodgers fans know him most for his botching of Bill Russell's base hit in the 10th inning of the final game of the 1978 NLCS, sending home the winning run and clinching the series for the Dodgers.

Maddox was my favorite player who wasn't on my favorite team and it wasn't just because he helped L.A. reach the World Series in 1978. He continued to be a favorite until the end of his career and I was always happy when I pulled his card.

Maddox is now a chef in barbeque land at the Philadelphia ballpark.


Back facts: I thought it was cool that there were cartoon bottles of poison on the back of the card. It reminded me of Saturday morning cartoons. Someone was always drinking poison on the Looney Toons.

Also, I didn't know what "In Military Service" meant when I was a kid. But it didn't sound pleasant. Maddox served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 and exposure to chemicals made his skin sensitive. He grew a full beard to protect his face.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1975, former Astros player Richard Hidalgo was born. Whatever happened to that guy?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

#239 - George Stone


Card fact: This is the second-to-last card issued of George Stone during his playing career. He would appear on cards in the 1976 Topps and SSPC sets, but Stone didn't play in the majors after 1975.

What I thought about this card then: I distinctly remember pulling this card out of a pack as I walked along a city street in Binghamton, N.Y., returning home from the drug store. I liked the Mets a little bit when I was a kid, so I appreciated this card. I'm not sure what happened to the one that I pulled from the pack. When I went about completing the set a few years ago, finding this card brought back a flood of memories.

What I think about this card now: The card is not as I remember seeing it as a kid. It's obviously a sunny day in the photo, but my memory of the Stone card has him posing with a dark background.

Other stuff: George Stone pitched mostly as a starter for nine seasons in the major leagues, appearing in the 1969 NL playoffs for the Braves and the 1973 NL playoffs and World Series for the Mets. He was traded from the Braves to the Mets, along with Felix Millan, for Gary Gentry and Danny Frisella. That deal worked out pretty well for the Mets.

Stone spent much of the 1975 season on the disabled list. During February of 1976, he was traded to the Rangers for Bill Hands. But Stone didn't pitch for the Rangers.

Stone is the cousin of former major league pitcher Cecil Upshaw, which is mentioned on Upshaw's card. They played on the Braves together from 1967 to 1972.


Back facts: "Save" is not capitalized.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1981, the movie "Stripes" debuted. That's a fact, Jack.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

#238 - Dave Duncan


Card fact: There are three players in this photo (although you can see only the cap of one of them). That ties the Rick Monday card for the most players in one photo, so far. Excluding photos with players in the distance. And team cards, of course.

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

What I think of this card now: What a strange card. Dave Duncan, who looks vaguely like Jay of "Jay and Silent Bob" fame, appears lost in thought. The rest of the photo is dominated by that giant hand in the left corner.

Other stuff: Duncan was your typical good-field, no-hit catcher from the 1960s and 70s. He was much valued behind the plate as a fielder and handler of pitchers. Of course, he used that ability to become one of the most famed pitching coaches of recent history, Tony La Russa's right-hand man for all eternity, apparently.

Duncan has two sons, Chris and Shelley, who have had middling success in the majors. I recently saw Shelley Duncan in an Indians uniform. I had no idea he was with the team. After success with the Cardinals, injuries have plagued Chris, who is now in the Nationals organization.


Back facts: How come Joe Morgan never brings up that bio fact during his broadcasts? In Game 7, Morgan was thrown out at second base in the fourth inning of a 1-0 game after walking with one out. The A's would win the game 3-2. "Turning point" might be putting a little too much emphasis on it. Rehashings of that World Series barely mention the play.

Other blog stuff: I'll be taking a break on this blog for a few days. I'll return you to 1975 sometime this weekend.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

#237 - Carl Morton


Card fact: This is another one of the cards that I pulled from a pack that I shoplifted from a drug store back in 1975.

What I thought about this card then: Some details of the shoplifting incident: The box with the packs of cards was sitting on an end cap directly across from the check out counter. How I was able to snag a pack of cards without the cashier seeing is a complete mystery. Later, I would tell my family that I found the cards on the sidewalk down the street from our house. Guilt set in shortly thereafter.

What I think about this card now: Morton's red hair matches with the seats at Candlestick Park. ... Hey, it's the first thing that popped in my head.

Other stuff: Carl Morton was one of the first stars for the expansion Montreal Expos. He won 18 games in 1970 and was named the National League Rookie of the Year. After two seasons that couldn't compare to his rookie season, Morton was traded to the Braves for Pat Jarvis. Jarvis did nothing for Montreal, but Morton put together a few good seasons for Atlanta before disappearing from the majors after the 1976 season. He was out of pro baseball by 1979.

Morton died four years later when he suffered a heart attack while jogging in 1983.


Back facts: I'm not so sure that Carl's best season was 1970. Sure, he won 18 games and his winning percentage was the best he had. Strikeouts were up there, too. But he led the league in walks in 1970. And his ERA was much better other years.

The cartoon is interesting because there appears to be an attempt to make the cartoon look like George Halas. That isn't the trend in other cartoons in this set.


Oldie but goodie: That's the card I received under unpleasant circumstances. It's in rough shape.

Other blog stuff: Reader Eggrocket asked a couple posts ago how many players are featured in the cartoon on the back of their own card in the 1975 set. Well, I went back through the first 237 cards and eight players have received that honor so far.

You're welcome.

Monday, June 21, 2010

#236 - Angels/Dick Williams


Card fact: Dick Williams was the third of of three managers for the Angels in 1974, so I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Williams is airbrushed into his Angels cap. It looks fairly legitimate, but I don't have the card in hand now to give it a good study.

What I thought about this card then: Team card. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

What I think about this card now: I'm having a hard time believing the guy in the blue plaid sport coat is an actual member of the club. It looks like the team was doing some charity work and took the guy in off the street.

Other stuff: The Angels out-and-out stunk in the mid-1970s. In 1974, Bobby Winkles wasn't getting it done, so he was canned and replaced with coach Whitey Herzog, who managed four games on an interim basis. Williams then finished out the season and lasted until the middle of the 1976 season, when the Angels continued to emit a putrid odor and replaced Williams with Norm Sherry.

Keep this in mind: all of this happened with Nolan Ryan pitching for the team. Frank Tanana, too.

Of course, Williams went on to manage the Padres, Expos and Mariners, and also led the Red Sox and A's to the World Series. The Angels were probably the low point of his Hall of Fame career.


Back facts: I count at least six or seven players on this checklist whose photos are airbrushed in this set. The Angels made quite a few transactions around this period.

Other blog stuff: Let's see if Topps left off anyone important from the 1974 Angels team when it put out the 1975 set.

The Angels used a whopping 45 players in the 1974 season, the most of any team that has been featured so far. Topps did its best and put 31 of those players in the 1975 set. Five of the players are airbrushed into other uniforms as Frank Robinson, Bob Oliver, Tom McCraw, Sandy Alomar and Rudy May all left the team in deals.

Topps didn't miss anyone notable. Paul Schaal played more games at third base than any other player for the Angels in 1974, but it amounted to just 165 at-bats and he didn't play after 1974.

So with all those players, Topps managed to feature 68.89 percent of the 1974 Angels in the 1975 set. Here is where the Angels rate with the teams mentioned so far:

1. Tigers 78.37% of players featured
2. Orioles 78.13%
3. Giants 71.43%
4. Royals 70.59%
5. Red Sox 70.27%
6. Angels 68.89%
7. Expos 68.29%
8. Phillies 62.5%
9. Padres 55.8%

Sunday, June 20, 2010

#235 - Jack Billingham


Card fact: This is just the eighth card in the set displaying the red-orange color combo (the "Burger King" combo). It is the least featured color combination so far.

What I thought about this card then: Did not see it.

What I think about this card now: It's in need of some upgrading. It's a bit worn on the edges and miscut.

Other stuff: Jack Billingham was at the height of his career in 1975, having just won 19 games in back-to-back seasons. He remained a solid starting pitcher for the Reds when they won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975-76. After being traded to the Tigers, he enjoyed another good season for Detroit in 1978 before eventually reaching the end of his career in 1980.

Billingham began his career as a reliever with the Dodgers. But he was taken by the Expos in the expansion draft, then sent to the Astros. Billingham went to the Reds in the deal that also brought Joe Morgan and Cesar Geronimo to Cincinnati -- a major steal for the Reds.


Back facts: Not much to say here. Even about the fact that Billingham is a cousin of Christy Mathewson. Just too tired, I guess.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1975, the movie "Jaws" was released.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

#234 - Tom Grieve


Card fact: Grieve's collection of Topps cards is one of the most uninspired series of photos I've ever seen for one player. He is in almost the same head-and-shoulders shot that you see here for his 1975, 1976 and 1977 cards. And the others aren't all that great either. 1978 is probably the best because he's actually wielding (*gasp*) a bat!

What I thought about this card then: Didn't see it.

What I think about this card now: Back when I was scanning all the cards from this set for the purposes of this blog, I couldn't wait for the process to be over. It was rather grueling. When I was finally done, I nearly threw a party. Then, several cards into the blog, I realized I had forgotten to scan one card. It was Tom Grieve. So back to the scanner I went. I was grieving over Grieve that day.

Other stuff: Grieve played mostly for the Senators/Rangers, although he was involved in a four-team trade that sent him to the Mets. He ended his career the following season with the Cardinals in 1979. His best season was 1976 when he hit 20 homers and drove in 81 runs.

Grieve became more noted in Ranger land as the team's general manager in 1984. He was on the job until 1994 and is known for acquiring Rafael Palmeiro, but also for trading away a young Sammy Sosa in the deal for Harold Baines.

Grieve is also the father of former major leaguer and 1998 Rookie of the Year Ben Grieve. 


Back fact: Two references to semipro baseball on one card!

Other blog stuff: Birthday greetings to former Dodger, current Dodger broadcaster and baseball card blog reader Jerry Reuss. He is 61 today.

Friday, June 18, 2010

#233 - Billy Grabarkewitz


Card fact: This is the last card issued of Billy Grabarkewitz during his career.

What I thought about this card then: I thought it was pretty cool for a reason that I can't explain now. I don't think I noticed the atrocious airbrush job on the cap at all.

What I think about this card now: I am wondering which team's uniform Grabarkewitz is wearing. He played for a series of teams in a short period of time before this card -- the Dodgers, Angels, Phillies -- it could be any one of them.

Other stuff: Grabarkewitz played in the majors from 1969-75, but he's known as being a one-year wonder. In 1970, starting at third base for the Dodgers, he recorded 153 hits in 529 at-bats in 156 games. His .399/.454/.852 line helped L.A. overlook the fact that he struck out a franchise record 149 times.

But Grabarkewitz would never play in more than 87 games in a season again and he hit above .247 only one other season in his career. After the 1972 season, Grabarkewitz was in the trade that sent Frank Robinson, Bill Singer and Bobby Valentine from the Dodgers to the Angels in exchange for Andy Messersmith.


Back facts: How much do you think Bobo Holloman's rookie card would be worth if he pitched a no-hitter in his first major league start in 2010?

Other blog stuff: All right, this color combo still doesn't have a name. I'm going to take care of it by naming it the "Lymon/Sprite" combo, as I threatened to do a little while ago. If someone, including me, comes up with something better, I'll change it. But "green-yellow" is now the Lymon/Sprite combo on the sidebar.

One more color combo left to name.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

#232 - Diego Segui


Card fact: This would have been Diego Segui's final Topps card if not for the expansion draft of 1976. After being released by the Red Sox after the 1975 season, he was signed by San Diego. But he never pitched in the majors for the Padres and was signed in the expansion draft by the Mariners. Topps then produced a card of Segui for the 1977 set.

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

What I think about this card now: Segui seems a little perturbed about something.

Other stuff: Segui had a long career, starting in the majors in 1963. He bounced around between a lot of teams, including a very Rickey Henderson-like revisiting of the A's. He played for the A's in three different periods.

Segui's son, David Segui continued the family tradition and moved from team to team throughout his major league career from 1990-2004.


Back facts: To supply a little background that Topps didn't: Abner Powell was a baseball player during the 1880s. He is known more for his innovations surrounding the game, particularly the raincheck. But he also thought up the infield tarp and the concept of Ladies Day, which was devised to help counterbalance the roughhouse element of the game at the time.

Other blog stuff: The new blogger template designer has affected the color scheme in the blog banner. I'll continue to change the colors depending on the card, but some of the colors don't seem to be available anymore. I struggle to get the right color of pink. Yes, that's my life now, trying to find the right shade of pink.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#231 - Mike Tyson


Card fact: This card puts the pink-yellow card combo back in the overall lead with 22 cards so far.

What I thought about this card then: It didn't come my way.

What I think about this card now: It's quite the clash of colors. Pink and yellow and light blue combined with the Cardinals' red uniform. The '75 set really is a fashion faux pas. But it's great.

Other stuff: Mike Tyson was the semi-regular shortstop for the Cardinals during much of the 1970s, a rather unproductive period for St. Louis. Tyson didn't hit much. He was known more for his fielding.

Of course, you're waiting for me to get to the fact that he shares his name with a much more famous, law-flouting, ear-biting, ex-heavyweight champion of the world. Yes he does. And I'm sure Mr. Tyson never tires of hearing about it.

But just to dwell on it a little more, here is Tyson's rookie card:


And here is the cartoon on the back (for those who read this once already on the other blog, I apologize):


Tyson's nickname was "Rocky"! His real name is the same name as a boxer and his nickname was the same name as the most famous fictional boxer ever!

Sadly, Tyson did not become a boxer after retiring from baseball. He's a hitting coach and car salesman according to his wikipedia page.


Back facts: How often do you think that rule about throwing your glove at the ball has gone into effect? I bet we'd be surprised at the number of times it's happened. Now, if we included Little League games, I'm sure the number of incidences would be in the millions.

Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song in the country on this date in 1975 was "Sister Golden Hair," by America. My wife says it is a very sad song.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

#230 - Jim Hunter


Card fact: This is the final card of Jim "Catfish" Hunter as an Athletic, the team for which he pitched during the first 10 years of his career.

What I thought about this card then: Didn't see this one.

What I think about this card now: You have got to love those golden A's uniforms. This has to be the ideal mid-70s Oakland Athletic baseball card. A mustachioed pitcher in a gold and green uniform, standing in Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, surrounded by a two-tone green border.

Other stuff: Hunter was at the peak of his career when this card hit drugstore shelves. He had just completed his fourth straight 20-win season, won the Cy Young Award, and helped the A's to their third straight World Series title. But by the time this card was available for purchase, Hunter was no longer an Oakland A. He signed as a free agent with the Yankees on the last day of 1974 and become the highest-paid pitcher in baseball.

Hunter recorded a fifth straight 20-win season with the Yankees in 1975, but began to decline after that, suffering from arm problems. By the time I became aware of Hunter as a kid, he was barely able to stay off the disabled list.

Of course, Hunter suffered from diabetes -- I believe he is the person who introduced me to the concept of the disease -- and in his later years, was afllicted with ALS. He died in 1999 at age 53.

A confession: I always forget that Hunter was inducted into the Hall of Fame. For some reason, I assume his career wasn't long enough or his stats weren't good enough. I think it's because the part of his career that I saw was not very memorable.


Back facts: I'm relieved that Topps referred to Hunter as "Catfish" somewhere on this card. Throughout his career, his cards always said "Jim." But I've heard everyone else refer to him only as "Catfish," which I believe was a nickname given to him by Charlie O. Finley.

Other blog stuff: More birthdays of pretty women: Courteney Cox was born on this date in 1964.

Monday, June 14, 2010

#229 - Barry Foote


Card fact: This is Barry Foote's most excellent first solo card.

What I thought about this card then: Remember last post when I said that I recall ordering another card along with the George Brett card? Well, this is the card. By a total coincidence, the two cards are numbered back-to-back.

The reason I specifically ordered a card of a back-up catcher comes out of my first visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in either 1975 or 1976. There was a display of the entire 1975 set in a downstairs floor of the Hall. I soaked up all the cards and I specifically noted the Foote card. I thought the game "action" in the photo was totally cool. I admired the memory of that card for a long time. And when I got old enough to earn money and order cards through the mail, this is one of the cards I ordered. Youth wasted on the young, I guess you could say.

What I think about this card now: I wish I could determine who that player was behind Foote. Also, this is another one of many Topps cards taken in San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

Other stuff: Barry Foote started out as a starting catcher for the still fledgling Expos, but after a few years he settled into a backup role. Except for 1979, when he caught for the Cubs, most of Foote's post-1976 years were spent as a backup catcher for various teams through 1982. He later became a coach and a manager.


Back facts: Apparently, Sal Durante wore his Sunday best to catch Roger Maris' 61st home run.

Other blog stuff: Time to add the catcher to the Topps All-Rookie team for 1974:

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

I do believe we've come to our first weak link on the team.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

#228 - George Brett


Card fact: This is George Brett's rookie card. What else do you need to know?

What I thought about this card then: I did not see it in 1975. However, this card is the first card I acquired solely because it was a player's rookie card. The "rookie card" was still a novel concept when I purchased this card (probably around 1980, 1981). But I had to know it was a desirable card to seek it out in a mail-order catalog and buy it. I can remember only one other card I ordered with the Brett card (you'll see it soon), and I remember being quite pleased when Mr. Brett arrived -- even though it has a faded stripe through the middle of it. I thought I had gotten a steal on the price.

What I think about this card now: I was very happy that I went through the trouble of getting the card when I was a teenager, because when I worked to complete the set six years ago, the price of the Brett card had ballooned to one of the highest in the set. The card I had ordered as a teen was still in decent shape, enough for me to not even consider buying a new Brett card.

Other stuff: It's interesting that the two most coveted rookie cards in this set (Yount and Brett) are five cards apart.

Otherwise, you all know George Brett. He was my non-Dodger hero during his career. His home run against Goose Gossage in the 1980 ALCS was, for me, the sign that the Yankee dynasty that I had endured for most of the previous four years was about to end. The Yankees were conquerable! Brett had just shown how it was done. The Dodgers followed suit in 1981.

I remember Brett's quest for .400 in 1980 very well. I can recall sitting in my grandmother's home during that summer, reading the newspaper accounts of Brett's latest games. I also remember those same newspapers detailing his hemorrhoids battle during the 1980 postseason. George Brett taught me the misery that is hemorrhoids. I never knew what they were before 1980. It was all quite horrifying.

One other thing. A guy I work with knows the Brett family. He says they're all nuts. I believe him.


Back facts: Brett had a fairly decent rookie season, but he was beaten out by Bill Madlock at third base for mention on the Topps All-Rookie team. No gold cup for George.

Other blog stuff: With this card, the green-purple color combo (Incredible Hulk) ties the pink-yellow combo (marshmallow peeps) for the most cards so far with 21 each.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

#227 - Bob Watson


Card fact: This is the first card of Bob Watson to feature his familiar glasses. Apparently he got a prescription filled sometime before the 1975 set came out. They aren't the tinted ones that he wore most of the time, which makes them difficult to see on this card.

What I thought about this card then: This card is burned into my brain, because it is one of the first cards that I ever saw. Unfortunately, I don't have that original card anymore, but I remain very familiar with it.

What I think about this card now: More barren land behind an Astros player. Also, I like that Watson is rocking the black bat.

Other stuff: Watson was a solid offensive player for the Astros for several years before getting traded to the Red Sox and then signing with the Yankees as a free agent. He had a pretty good World Series against my Dodgers in 1981. But we all know who won that one.

The fact cited most often about Watson as a player is that he was credited with scoring the one millionth run in major league baseball history. I've known that since I was young, but I didn't know until recently that Watson also received $10,000 and one million Tootsie Rolls for scoring the run. Later, through updated record-keeping techniques, it was determined he didn't score the one millionth run. Unfortunately, nobody knows who did and who REALLY deserved all those Tootsie Rolls.

Watson was also general manager for the Yankees for awhile, overseeing the team when they won the World Series in 1996. More recently, he's been baseball's vice-president of discipline and VP of rules and on-field operations. So his name pops up every once in awhile during various controversies.


Back facts: Billy Sunday played WAY back -- from 1883 to 1890. So long ago that priesthood probably paid more than being a ballplayer.

Other blog stuff: The first interleague game was played on this date 13 years ago. I'm still not used to it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

#226 - Bill Campbell


Card fact: This is the fourth card in the set to show the American flag in the background. The first three are: Dusty Baker, Ray Corbin and Jim Merritt.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. The first Campbell card I saw was his 1976 Topps card.

What I think about this card now: I think I need to upgrade. The notch on the right side bothers me. This is the only set where I am this picky.

Other stuff: One of the first big free agent signings is shown for the second straight card. Campbell enjoyed a terrific season as a reliever for the Twins in 1976 and signed with the Red Sox for the 1977 season. He again had one of the best seasons for a reliever that year. But then he developed arm trouble, and although he hung around until 1987, he was never the same. He did pitch in 82 games for the Cubs in 1983.


Back facts:  This is about the fourth cartoon that shows a guy with an enormously long beard. ... I didn't know that Campbell was exclusively a starter until being called up to the major leagues.

Other blog stuff: I've been slacking in charting all the powder-blue uniforms. I had to go back and find the ones I missed. All up to date now.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

#225 - Bob Grich


Card fact: This is the first Topps card of Bobby Grich's familiar mustache on prominent display. To me, Grich was the American League's Davey Lopes. Or Lopes was the National League's Bobby Grich. I'm not sure which.

What I thought about this card then: Didn't see it. But the 1976 Grich card was one of my favorites. Grich became one of my favorite non-Dodgers, too, despite the fact that he is pictured cap-less on consecutive cards (1976 and 1977 Topps).

What I think about this card now: I always heard Grich referred to as "Bobby." But I see here on this card that he is "Bob," and his signature is "Bob." I looked at all of his Topps cards, and they all say "Bob." But many of his non-Topps cards list "Bobby." What gives?

Other stuff: Grich was a solid-fielding second baseman for the Orioles and a powerful hitter for his position, especially at that time. I didn't really get to know Grich until after he signed with the Angels -- he was one of the first big free agents, and, of course back then, the Angels seemed to sign about 80 percent of the free agents available. Grich retired after the Angels were eliminated by the Red Sox in dramatic fashion in the 1986 ALCS. That's sad.


Back facts: Leading a bio with "getting stronger every year," would be a red flag these days.

Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song in the country on this date was "Thank God, I'm a Country Boy," by John Denver. Seeing as that song was played at Orioles games during the '70s and '80s and this is a post on an Orioles player, I think mentioning it is quite appropriate. Yee-haw!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

#224 - Ramon Hernandez


Card fact: Difficult to find a card fact here. I'll just go with a player fact and say that this is the first of two people named Ramon Hernandez to play major league baseball. The second is the former catcher for the A's, Orioles, Reds, etc.

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

What I think about this card now: First, I'm really hoping that is a motel in the background. Second, that is one funky "Z" at the end of Hernandez's name.

Other stuff: We've come to one of those players that I don't know very well. Fortunately, I came across this post, in which the author goes through a lot of detail on Hernandez. He was a successful reliever for the Pirates' pennant-winning teams of the early 1970s. I particularly enjoy the part that says that Don Zimmer was scared of Hernandez because he didn't smile, didn't say much and carried a gun.

Hernandez lasted with the Pirates until 1976, then finished up his career with the Cubs and Red Sox, exiting in 1978.


Back fact: You have to love those switch-hitting pitchers.

Also, there is a typo in the write-up. It should say "Signed 1st in 1959."

Other blog stuff: Dave Parker -- otherwise known as 1975 Topps card No. 29 -- is celebrating his 59th birthday today.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

#223 - Robin Yount


Card fact: All things being equal (i.e.: card condition), this is the most expensive card in the set.

What I thought about this card then: I had this card as a youngster. Not sure what happened to it. Don't recall thinking much about it.

What I think about this card now: Well, I can tell you what I thought about it when I was completing the set in 2004: "Damn, I had this card when I was little and I traded it away and now it's going to cost me a bunch to get it in anything resembling decent shape."

It did cost me. I waited a long time to buy it. It was one of the last cards I needed for the set. I set aside the day I bought it as my "Robin Yount Rookie Card Purchase Day."

Other stuff: It's not often that you see an 18-year-old on a major league baseball card -- or it wasn't until the 1990s, anyway. So that is a big reason why this card is so valued. Of course the other reason is it is a rookie card of a Hall of Famer.

I vividly remember when Yount made news because he said he was going to quit baseball and become a professional golfer. I knew nothing about golf then and I thought it was the most ridiculous thing that anyone had ever said. I remember thinking, "if Yount becomes a pro golfer, it will be the dumbest move ever." I couldn't fathom anyone wanting to leave baseball.

Oh, and Yount just doesn't look the same without that trademark mustache.


Back facts: I think it's quite appropriate that the Yount card is featured on the day after the Nationals selected 17-year-old Bryce Harper first in the MLB draft. Let's see if Harper can make to the majors by the time he's 18 like Yount.

The cartoon question is very random. "Does Robin Yount have a brother?" Larry Yount, Robin's older brother, was a major league prospect with Houston. A little detail in the cartoon would have helped.

Also, how cool is it to have a single initial for your middle name?

I'll answer that. It's very cool.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1921, Eddie Gaedel, the midget sent to the plate by Bill Veeck in 1951, was born.

Monday, June 7, 2010

#222 - Dan Spillner


Card fact: This is Dan Spillner's rookie card.

What I thought about this card then: This is one of the cards that I remember pulling out of a couple of packs while my family was on vacation in the summer of 1975. I remember sitting on the hotel bed and opening the pack. I liked this card because the border matched with Spillner's very colorful uniform.

What I think about this card now: Those were some crazy get-ups the Padres wore.

Other stuff: Spillner was a hard-throwing right-hander who was known mostly as a reliever but did have a couple of decent seasons as a starter, particularly when he won 16 games with the Indians in 1980. Spillner didn't get the luxury of playing for decent teams. Both the Padres and Indians were lousy in the '70s and '80s. Eventually, Spillner landed with the White Sox, which were fairly decent during his brief stay there.

In a "where-are-they-now" article, Spillner remembers not having to throw a curve ball for the first three years of his major league career, and getting shut out by owner's collusion in the mid-1980s. Claiming he could have pitched for a couple of more years, he received a $486,000 settlement.


Back facts: How is it possible that Sam Jones did not swallow a bunch of toothpicks during his career?

Also, I enjoy the write-up. The Padres' pitching hoard was so good that they didn't win a single thing until the mid-1980s.

Other blog stuff: I still have the old card that I pulled out of that pack. Here it is:



Not too bad.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

#221 - Aurelio Rodriguez


Card fact: Aurelio Rodriguez's name is misspelled as "Rodriquez" on this card.

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

What I think about this card now: Another tilted-field day in Oakland. Did an earthquake just pass through?

Other stuff: I learned about Rodriguez as a youngster by reading "Three for the Tigers," a story by the best baseball writer ever, Roger Angell. It was a story about three avid Tigers fans in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the fans was thrilled that Rodriguez's first name contained every vowel in the alphabet.

Rodriguez was known for his fielding ability and rifle arm. He actually beat out Brooks Robinson for the Gold Glove award during one year. He wasn't much of a hitter, though.

Rodriguez was killed at age 52 when a car jumped a curb and ran him over. Here is an often-repeated bit of trivia: there have been three players named Aurelio in major league baseball and all three of them died in automobile accidents.

Also, I interviewed Rodriguez's son a couple of times. He was a minor league player in the Cleveland Indians' organization during the 1990s.


Back facts: That's an interesting cartoon. I didn't know all of the DiMaggio brothers had the same middle name.

Other blog stuff: With this card, we have surpassed the one-third mark in the set. But still two-thirds of the set to go!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

#220 - Don Sutton


Card fact: This is the last card of Don Sutton in "pre-perm mode." Sutton features the new curly hair style on his 1976 card, and it's pretty much all curls from that point forward.

What I thought about this card then: Don Sutton was a big deal for a Dodger fan back then. I did not pull his card in 1975, but I did acquire it when I was still a kid, and it ranked right up there with my Cey and Garvey cards from this year.

What I think about this card now: The scoreboard in the background looks like something off a high school baseball field. Also, the photo is old. It's likely from 1972 as the Dodgers last wore those uniforms that year.

Other stuff: Sutton is one of my heroes of my adolescent years but it didn't start out that way. When he got into that scuffle with Steve Garvey, I was horrified. Later, I grew to be suspicious of Garvey and I sided with Sutton. Unfortunately, soon after that, Sutton left the Dodgers to sign as a free agent with the Astros. But I never rooted against him no matter what team he played for after that. Fortunately, he didn't play for any team I hated, and he returned to the Dodgers to finish out his career.

Sutton never played for the Braves, but he's associated with the Braves now more than he is with even the Dodgers (even though he's a Hall of Famer with the Dodgers, baby!) because of his long-standing broadcasting career with Atlanta. Sutton's a fine broadcaster. He was a better pitcher, but apparently he does a lot of things well.



Back facts: It's appropriate that there is a broadcaster cartoon on the back of Sutton's card.

This cartoon has been in my head since I was a kid. I had no idea who Ronald Reagan was at the time, but I wondered why he seemed so angry while he was talking about the game. It's a rather animated cartoon.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1989, Toronto's SkyDome opened and the Blue Jays lost to the Brewers. I was given tickets to this game but I had to work and couldn't give them away on short notice. I still have the tickets, unused, to that first game at SkyDome. But I get sad everytime I look at them.