Card fact: This is the final Topps card issued of Sonny Siebert during his career.
What I thought about this card then: This card amused my brothers and I. We thought "Sonny" was a strange name and the guy pictured on the card must have been odd to accept being called "Sonny." Look at him smiling about his silly name!
What I think about this card now: I think we treated Sonny unfairly as kids.
Other stuff: Siebert started out as a regular in the Indians' starting pitching rotation during the 1960s, then established himself as a reliable starter for the Red Sox in the early 1970s. He was a two-time All-Star.
Siebert also swung a respectable bat. (He began his pro career as an outfielder). In 1971, he had one of the better hitting seasons for a pitcher, delivering six home runs and 15 RBIs and batting .266 in 79 at-bats. Two of those home runs came in one game, and he was the last A.L. pitcher to hit two home runs in a regular season game.
At the end of Siebert's career, he bounced around between the Rangers, Cardinals, Padres and A's.
Back facts: Wilfred? OK, Sonny isn't so bad now.
You can see that Topps squeezed in that Siebert was traded to the Padres, but it was too late for it to get a photo of him as a Padre. In fact, by the time some collectors pulled this card, even the write-up on the back was outdated, because Siebert was traded again, to the A's, in May of 1975.
Other blog stuff: OK, it's time to finally name this "brown-orange" color combo. There is a poll on the sidebar. The suggestions were all basically mentioned by commenters. I will go with whatever receives the most votes.
Card fact: This is a card of the father of not one, but two current major leaguers.
What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card, and I didn't think much of it because the whole time I had it, it was in terrible shape. Creases everywhere. I think I salvaged it from another kid who had mutilated it. I couldn't stand to see it suffer anymore and took it for my own.
What I think about this card now: Jerry's got that "I just spotted a flying saucer" look on his face.
Other stuff: Jerry Hairston is one of three three-generation families in major league baseball. The others are the Bells and the Boones. Hairston's father, Sam, was a Negro League player who played in the majors for the White Sox in 1951. Hairston's brother, Johnny, played very briefly for the Cubs in 1969.
Meanwhile, his sons Jerry Jr. and Scott play for the Padres.
All of this has been very confusing for me. Hairston threw me for quite a loop when I was a young collector. He played for the White Sox in the mid-1970s, then he disappeared. He wasn't much of a player, so I totally forgot about him. Then, around 1983, I started seeing him on baseball cards again. "Who is this guy?" I wondered. I figured it couldn't be the same player from the mid-70s. It must be a different Jerry Hairston.
Well, not only was he the same Jerry Hairston, but he would go on to play all the way until 1989. He spent his entire career -- except for half a season with the Pirates in 1977 -- with the White Sox. He never reached 300 at-bats in any season as he was used mostly as a pinch-hitter.
And the reason why he disappeared from the majors is he played in the Mexican League from 1978-80.
Believe me, when I found out that there was a Jerry Hairston playing in the majors in the late 1990s, I thought that the Jerry Hairston on this 1975 Topps card was STILL playing. Much to my relief, it was his son.
That's the kind of confusion you can create when you give your kid the same name as you AND disappear to play in the Mexican League.
Back facts: The cartoon asks: "Who the 'Iron Horse'?" I just love it when cartoons speak gangsta.
Other blog stuff: Here is the regular-sized card next to that wrinkly mini card that I saved:
Card fact: My copy of this card is miscut. You can see the blue border from another card showing at the top. I am assuming that the blue is from a card with a blue-and-orange border, because I believe that the cards in the row adjacent to the row featuring the Twitchell card would have been upside down. That is, if I understand the printing process of the time correctly.
If they weren't upside down, then the card could have a red-and-blue border or a tan-and-blue border, because the blue border on those cards was on the bottom half of the card, unlike the blue-and-orange borders, which were on the top half.
As you can see, I've put way too much thought into this.
What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card. I think my brother and maybe a friend had the regular-sized Wayne Twitchell card, too, and then the regular-sized card worked its way into my collection. It was one of the more common card pulls in the '75 set, according to my little circle of scruffy kids.
Also, I thought Twitchell looked goofy. He has a similar pose to that of Phillies pitcher Ron Schueler in this set.
Both are lanky pitchers (Twitchell was 6-foot-6 and Schueler 6-4). Both pitched for the Phillies. And both posed in Candlestick Park. I half-believed those were the only kind of pitchers the Phillies had.
What I think about this card now: Well, I'm saddened by it because Twitchell just passed away less than two weeks ago at age 62 after battling cancer.
Other stuff: Twitchell pitched for the Phillies most of his career, but came up to the major with the Brewers. After a trade, he became a regular part of the Phillies' starting rotation in 1973, reaching the All-Star Game. He suffered a setback in his 1974 season and pretty soon was relegated to a relief role.
The Phillies traded Twitchell to the Expos in 1977. After a couple of so-so seasons with Montreal, he spent his final season in 1979 with the Mets and Mariners. Knee ailments hampered his career and forced him to call it quits early.
He later worked in real estate, but returned to his high school alma mater to help out as a coach. He was inducted into the Oregon State Hall of Fame. This is a detailed account of Twitchell's career.
Back facts: The write-up is a pretty cool career highlight for Mr. Twitchell. That's well worth a major league career right there.
But I admit that as a kid I competely missed the write-up. Instead, I liked the cartoon strawberry and was alarmed by Twitchell's 5.22 ERA in 1974.
Other blog stuff: On this date in 1975, four Oakland A's pitchers -- Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers -- combined to pitch a no-hitter against the Angels on the last day of the season. It was the first time in MLB history that as many as four pitchers combined on a no-hitter.
Card fact: "Des. Hitter," in case you don't know, stands for "designated hitter," not "desperate hitter."
What I thought about this card then: I never saw it. The first Tony Oliva card I saw was his final Topps card in the 1976 set. I liked that card quite a bit, even though it's an in-the-shadows head shot.
What I think about this card now: Those hitters in the '70s sure played in some tilted stadiums.
Other stuff: Oliva is one of the best Cuban-born athletes to play in the major leagues. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1964, a year in which he also won the league batting title, the first time that happened in the A.L. Oliva would go on to win the batting title two more times.
Oliva was a consistent .300 hitter, which wasn't easy to do in the late 1960s. Later, knee problems limited his playing time and he became a designated hitter because of his injuries. His abbreviated career, because of those injuries, has probably kept him out of the Hall of Fame so far.
Oliva played in the postseason three times. After struggling in the 1965 World Series against the Dodgers, he did much better in the ALCS against the Orioles in 1970 and 1971. He went 6-for-12 in the Twins' loss to the Orioles in '71. After his career, Oliva became a batting coach for the Twins. He was a very popular player, and Minnesota has retired his uniform number.
Back facts: Cal McLish, who recently died, started his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the mid-1940s. His major league career lasted until 1964.
Other blog stuff: Mike Schmidt was born on this date in 1949. He's 61 years old.
Card fact: With this card, 12 of the 13 Mets cards shown so far feature colors that match with the Mets' colors. Either a border color, or the team lettering color, or both, is blue or orange. You can't say that about the other teams.
I think it's a plot. Topps always seemed to show favortism toward the New York teams. Usually, it's the Yankees. But in 1975, the Mets ruled New York.
What I thought about this card then: Ed Kranepool was my grandfather's favorite player. He would watch the Mets games, and on Sundays my family would come to visit and I'd plop down on the floor and watch Ralph Kiner, Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy broadcast the games. My grandfather didn't say much, so it was hard to tell who he liked and who he didn't. But I know he liked Kranepool.
I didn't have this card, but one of my Mets-loving friends had it. As with all Mets cards then, it was cool.
What I think about this card now: You have to be doing something right to wear the No. 7.
Other stuff: Growing up, it was just understood that Kranepool was "the man" among the Mets. He was the first notable player to come out of the Mets' organization. Even though he rarely held a starting role, he played with the Mets longer than anyone (18 seasons). He never played with another team. He still holds the team record for career games played.
Later in his career, his role was reduced to mostly that of a pinch-hitter. But he was still considered the heart of the Mets and always popular with Mets fans. It helped that he was born in the Bronx.
Back facts: "Emil," huh? I didn't know that.
Other blog stuff: Olivia Newton-John, who sang the No. 1 song "Have You Never Been Mellow" in 1975, was born on this date. She is 62. That's right. Miss "Let Me Hear Your Body Talk" is 62.
Card fact: This is Fred Holdsworth's first solo card.
What I thought about this card then: The Holdsworth card was one of the cards my friend had. To me, those cards were very strange because I had never seen them before. I thought Holdsworth looked like a ghost. I was glad I didn't have this card.
What I think about this card now: I'm wondering why Topps even created a card of Holdsworth this year. He pitched in just eight games in 1974.
Other stuff: Holdsworth pitched seven years in the major leagues, but didn't get a lot of playing time in those years. The height of his activity was in 1977 when he split the year between the Expos and the Orioles, pitching in 26 games.
He was mostly a relief pitcher and finished with just a 7-10 record for his career (that's an average of one win every year). After his playing career ended in 1980, he became an accountant.
Back fact: Tommy Hutton had a Vegas act? I've heard him announce games for quite awhile. I don't remember him bringing that up.
Other blog stuff: The light blue-green color combo (the "day baseball" color combo) is dead last in the standings. This is just the 12th card with that color combination, and it's been 83 cards since the last "day baseball" card.
Card fact: This is the last card of Goodson pictured in a Giants uniform. The following year, the photo on his card shows him weirdly airbrushed from a Braves uniform into a Dodgers cap and uniform.
What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card. Because of the way Goodson's arm is positioned, I thought he was on a bus or a subway, holding onto the handles with other commuters.
What I think about this card now: Goodson appears to be hanging out in the dugout with his buddies. I can't believe I missed that when I was a kid.
Other stuff: Goodson played for eight seasons. He started out as a part-time infielder for the Giants before ending up as a glorified pinch-hitter for the Dodgers in the late 1970s. He played in 100 games in a season only once, enjoying his best seasons with the Giants in 1973 and 1974. He was traded for the Braves, but only played their briefly.
Goodson was traded to the Dodgers as part of the Dusty Baker deal that sent Jimmy Wynn, Jerry Royster, Tom Paciorek and Lee Lacy to the Braves. Goodson had one at-bat each in the 1977 NLCS and World Series. He was released by L.A. before the 1978 season and signed by Cleveland, but didn't play for them.
Back facts: Bill "Bugs" Moran pitched in 15 games for the White Sox in 1974. He didn't get a card in the '75 set, or any Topps set, to my knowledge. He got a cartoon, but not a card!
Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song on this date in 1975 was "Fame" by David Bowie. Bully for you, chilly for me.
Card fact: This quite possibly could be the most hilarious card in the entire set.
What I thought about this card then: Sadly, I never saw it.
What I think about this card now: Well ... I am very amused by the difficulties that the New York logo gave Topps' airbrushers. They had a horrible time with the logo in the 1974 set (Ralph Houk and Wayne Granger are the main examples). And they didn't show any improvement in the '75 set. That logo looks like it should be graffiti on a brick wall. To top it off, Rudy May seems absolutely crest-fallen over what he must wear. It's like he knew ahead of time how foolish he'd look on his card, even though I'm sure at the time this photo was taken that he didn't have an idea he would end up playing for the Yankees.
By the way, this isn't May's only strange card. His 1983 Fleer card freaks me out. However, his 1971 Topps card is very cool.
Other stuff: May pitched for 16 seasons in the majors, with the Angels, Yankees, Orioles and Expos. Even though he pitched mostly with the Angels and the Yankees, I identify him completely with the Orioles. It's probably because of his 1978 Topps card, which is the first card of May's that I saw.
May was purchased by the Yankees from the Angels in June of 1974, which wasn't enough time for Topps to get a photo of May as a Yankee. He later was traded to the Orioles in 1976 in a massive deal that also sent Scott McGregor, Rick Dempsey and Tippy Martinez and others to Baltimore in exchange for Ken Holtzman, Eldrod Hendricks, Grant Jackson and others.
May enjoyed an 18-win season for Baltimore in 1977, but was immediately traded to the Expos for Don Stanhouse and Gary Roenicke. May became a free agent in 1979 and rejoined the Yankees. He pitched in the postseason in 1980 and 1981, throwing in the World Series against the Dodgers in '81.
Back facts: The Dodgers are credited with the first batting helmets, but they were more like liners worn inside their regular caps. Pee Wee Reese and Ducky Medwick were victims of beanings the previous year, so the "helmets" were developed for their use. The first team to wear batting helmets as we know them are the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Re: the writeup. There are some people who dispute a pitcher's ability to "get stronger" as a game progresses, saying it's physically impossible.
Other blog stuff: Bruce Springsteen was born on this date in 1949. He came out with an album in 1975. You may have heard of it. Something about being born to run.
Card fact: This was the most identifiable signature out of anyone in baseball for me as a kid.
What I thought about this card then: Well, it was very cool. I never had the card myself, but someone I knew did. I don't remember who, but I know I saw it. I'm sure I was quite envious.
What I think about this card now: Even though the world is sliding away behind him, Pete Rose remains focused on the pitcher.
Other stuff: Pete Rose was everywhere when I was a kid. It was Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose and then everyone else. He was on after-shave commercials. He did that sprinting to first base thing every time he walked. He got made fun of a lot in my family because I didn't like the Reds, and my dad didn't like his hair.
Rose, like his former teammate Joe Morgan, had a habit of playing for teams I really disliked. For Rose it was the Reds and then the 1983 Phillies (it was extremely weird when I found out that Rose would play for the Expos).
Although he was very talented and knowledgeable on the baseball field, Rose didn't seem very smart. Obviously, he did some dumb things to get himself banned from baseball. He's become a tragic figure in the sport, even though it's hard for me to have sympathy for him.
Back facts: I believe this is the third card to feature a cartoon about the player on the front of the card. Ron Reed and Steve Garvey are the other two. But I may have missed someone.
Also, the write-up at the bottom is slightly inaccurate. It was impossible for Rose to lead both leagues in doubles because he didn't play in the American League. What Topps meant was Rose "led the major leagues in doubles."
Yes, it's picky. But I'm paid to be picky. Although not here.
Other blog stuff: The last three All-Star cards have all been Reds. Here is the All-Star lineup as featured by Topps as of the Pete Rose card:
3B - Brooks Robinson
SS - Bert Campaneris
C - Carlton Fisk
1B - Steve Garvey
2B - Joe Morgan
OF - Hank Aaron
OF - Pete Rose
C - Johnny Bench
Card fact: I'm calling this the card debut of Johnny Oates' familar mustache. He probably is wearing it on his 1974 card, but he's in an action shot and running away from the camera. It's difficult to tell. So, this is the Official Johnny Oates Mustache Card Debut.
What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card. I don't recall thinking much. I do remember wishing Oates was on the Dodgers. I don't know why as he wasn't a great hitter. But he did end up with the Dodgers. And I was happy. For a time.
What I think about this card now: It's difficult to take any Braves player seriously in that get-up. "So, you're a catcher, huh? That's quite the story, son."
Also, I swear I did not make the connection until writing this post that Johnny Oates shares the same name with one-half of the singing duo Daryl Hall and John Oates. How on earth did I miss that?
Other stuff: Oates was a defensive-minded catcher who played a backup role for most of his career, except for a handful of years for the Braves when he managed over 300 at-bats. He came to Atlanta from Baltimore in the deal that also landed the Braves Pat Dobson and Davey Johnson. Later, he was sent to the Phillies, along with Dick Allen.
Oates appeared in three straight postseasons, first with the Phillies in 1976, and then in back-to-back World Series with the Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. In '78, he got a hit in his only at-bat. He later played for the Yankees, retiring in 1981.
Oates had much better success managing, first with the Orioles and then with the Rangers. He was named Manager of the Year in both places and helped Texas into the playoffs three times.
Oates died from brain cancer at age 58 on Christmas Eve in 2004. His number was retired by the Rangers, and he was just inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in August.
Back facts: The write-up says that Oates "belts the ball with authority," but Oates has admitted he was nothing more than a slap hitter.
Other blog stuff: In seven days, I will feature the card of Wayne Twitchell. I just found out today that Twitchell died four days ago after battling cancer. May he rest in peace.
Card fact: This is the last card issued during Ernie McAnally's career. He didn't play in the majors after 1974.
What I thought about this card then: I may have pulled this card out of the first packs I ever bought. I'm kind of hazy on this one. But I know it was one of the cards that I first saw. I would get him confused with Dave McNally. Their last names are pronounced kind of the same.
I know some of you really, really want "McAnally" to be pronounced a different way. But it isn't.
What I think about this card now: I love a lot of the mid-70s Expos cards because there's often an opportunity to see a Coca-Cola ad in the background. This is perhaps the best example ever. I'm sure this card got a few kids hooked.
Other stuff: McAnally pitched just four seasons in the majors, all with the Expos. His best season was his first in 1971, even though he led the league in wild pitches.
After 1974, McAnally was purchased by the Indians. But he didn't play for them as a rotator cuff injury ended his career.
McAnally went on to become a banker. This is a story about a sportswriter in Pittsburgh who came across McAnally as a teenager and touched base with him again many years later.
Back facts: Two straight cartoons featuring animals! Let's see if we can get a streak going! (And, no, two straight is not a streak. I complain about this at work all the time. I'm sorry, but saying a team is on a "two-game winning streak" is just ridiculous).
Also, according to the write-up, if McAnally went 10-4 to end the 1971 season, it means he started the year 1-8. Eeesh. That sounds about right for the '71 Expos.
Other blog stuff: On this date in 1998, Cal Ripken Jr. ended his streak of 2,632 games played. Now THAT is a streak.
Card fact: This card lifts the "green-yellow" combo out of second-to-last place in the color combo standings.
What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card. I never knew how to pronounce Joe Lahoud's last name. I think we called him "Joe Loud" as kids, which I know isn't right.
What I think about this card now: I'm thinking how difficult it is to come up with something to say about this card.
Other stuff: Lahoud was an outfielder-designated hitter for chiefly the Red Sox, Brewers and Angels throughout the 1970s. His best season was 1974 when he set career single-season records in just about every category, despite playing in just 127 games and having 325 at-bats. His biggest achievement that year might have been hitting .271 as he hit .223 for his career.
According to baseball-reference, Lahoud is one of the few major league players with a Lebanese-American background. Wikipedia says his grandfather played in the Negro Leagues. Also according to B-R, Lahoud was kicked off his college baseball team for mouthing off to the coach.
Back facts: That's right, Johnny Mize was "The Big Cat." You hear that Rockies fans? Johnny Mize. Not Andres Galarraga. Johnny Mize. Find your own nickname.
The write-up at the bottom is interesting, not only because it highlights Lahoud performing well against what is now his new team, but it neglects to mention that the Brewers LOST that game.
While playing for Milwaukee, Lahoud hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth that turned a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead. But the Angels tied the game with a run in the bottom of the ninth. And then the Angels scored again in the 10th on a Leroy Stanton walk-off home run to win 5-4. So much for Joe's "biggest hit."
Other blog stuff: For the second post in a row, I'm showing the mini card next to the regular-sized card.
The mini card has water damage, which you probably can't see. But in person it's obvious it either went through the wash or got dropped in a puddle. Or both.
Card fact: Surprisingly, even though there have been 82 players with the last name of "Brown" in the major leagues, this is one of just two players named Brown in the set. Two other players with that last name retired the year before this set came out.
What I thought about this card then: I've mentioned before how my brother and I liked the Rangers a lot in 1975. This was probably the most favorite of those Texas cards. I'm not sure why, but if I was pressed for a reason, I'd have to say it's the chaw in Jackie Brown's mouth. Yes, as kids, we were impressed by dirty, disgusting habits.
What I think about this card now: Well, other than being pleased that I can add a third person to the chaw list, the photo is rather disturbing if you stare at it a while. Brown has a glazed-over look on his face with the chaw jutting from his cheek. He looks like he's been zombified.
Other stuff: Brown was mostly a relief pitcher for seven seasons with the Senators, Rangers, Indians and Expos. The only seasons he did a lot of starting were in 1974 with the Rangers, '76 with the Indians and '77 with the Expos. His 1974 season was his best as he set several personal highs in stats, starting 26 games and winning 13 with 134 strikeouts.
After his playing career, Brown worked as a pitching coach for a number of major and minor league organizations.
Brown's brother, Paul, pitched in the majors in the early 1960s for the Phillies, the same team that signed Jackie.
(EDIT: Jackie Brown died on Jan. 8, 2017).
Back facts: Whether Topps did this by accident or on purpose, I like that the cartoon is about a "cowboy" on the back of a Rangers card. James Winford was a pitcher with a modest career in the 1930s with the Cardinals. He also played two games for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Other blog stuff: Here is the mini card that I pulled when I was a kid, featured next to the regular-sized card. I have no idea what I got on the card to create that blotch to the left of Brown's head. If we were pretending to chew tobacco and then spitting stuff on the card in imitation of Brown, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.
Card fact: This is the last Topps card of Don Kessinger in a Cubs uniform. He's airbrushed into a Cardinals uniform in the 1976 set.
Also, if I was right in this post, then this is the second card in the set of player using a batting donut.
What I thought about this card then: Never saw it.
What I think of this card now: It's quite cool. You don't see enough cards of players in the on-deck circle. Even though Kessinger's drastically off-center on this card, I like it.
Other stuff: Don Kessinger was the everyday shortstop for the Cubs during one of their better eras -- the late 1960s/early 1970s. He started for them from 1965 to 1975. He was a Gold Glove fielder and a productive hitter, although not necessarily by today's standards. Kessinger had over 600 at-bats in a season five times and was an All-Star five straight seasons.
Interestingly, Kessinger ended up completing his career with two teams considered the Cubs' mortal enemies -- the Cardinals and the White Sox. He was traded to St. Louis in 1975 for pitcher Mike Garman. The Cardinals traded Kessinger to the White Sox in 1977. Kessinger then ended up managing the White Sox as a player-manager in 1979.
Kessinger later coached in college and now works in real estate. He had a son, Keith, who played in 11 games for the Reds in 1993. I never knew he had a son in the majors until researching this post.
Back facts: I guess Topps didn't dare put a bench-warmer cartoon on the back of a card of a bench-warmer. They played it safe and picked a guy averaging 600 at-bats a year.
Also, in the June 17th game, Kessinger also scored the winning run in the 10th inning on a single by Ron Santo. The Cubs beat the Cardinals 7-6.
Other blog stuff: Actor John Ritter was born on this date. If you don't know why that's significant, then you weren't 13 years old in the late 1970s. The guy was my hero.
Card fact: This is Buck Martinez's first card since the 1972 set. He appeared in the 1970, 71 and 72 Topps sets before disappearing into the minors.
What I thought about this card then: This is one of the cards that I pulled when I was on vacation during the summer of '75. Those are some of the most special cards in the set for me.
What I think about this card now: Martinez always looks like a little man on his cards, especially when he's in a catcher's crouch. He's 5-foot-11, so apparently it's an illusion or something. Maybe it's the mustache. I don't know.
Other stuff: Martinez was a no-hit, good-field backup catcher for just about all of his 17 years in the major leagues. He played for the Royals, Brewers and Blue Jays, but only played in more than 100 games in a season once in his career. His lifetime batting average is .225.
Martinez is known now more for his broadcasting, as he's been a broadcaster for most of the last 20-plus years, mostly with the Blue Jays and Orioles. He's also appeared on national telecasts often over the years. I got to know his announcing when I was in college, as he appeared on Blue Jays broadcasts, and I would watch those games when I lived in Buffalo. Martinez has a very distinctive voice, and I always wondered how that played when he was a catcher or during his brief time as the Blue Jays' manager. Were players going around imitating Buck? I'm guessing they were. (If you want to waste some time, look up "Buck Martinez" and "fisted.")
Back facts: The write-up on the back starts off OK, even though it's going all the way back to 1967 because Martinez's stats are atrocious. But then it descends into jibberish. "He led A.A. cathers .994 Percentage. 1973." Apparently, there was a shortage of both the letter "c" and prepositions in 1975.
Other blog stuff: Here is that card that I pulled while on vacation in '75. ... vacation (*sigh*)
Card fact: This is the final league leader card in the set. I think the term "leading firemen" is just as dated as the color scheme in this set.
What I thought about this card then: I didn't see it.
What I think about this card now: I still need it for my Dodger collection. Those are some far-out sideburns by Doc Marshall.
Other stuff: Calling relievers "firemen" was pretty common when I was collecting cards as a kid. Topps would use the term to sum up the league-leading relievers just about every year through the '70s and into the early '80s. In 1982, Topps stopped calling them "firemen" and merely listed Bruce Sutter and Rollie Fingers as 1981's "Leading Relievers." But then in 1983 and 1984, it was back to "Leading Firemen"!
Back facts: This was the formula that was used to determine the "leading firemen" at the time. They would add a pitcher's saves and his relief wins and come up with a total. I think now it's rather common knowledge that a relievers' wins doesn't say a lot about his success. Any card that shows league leaders for relief pitchers sticks to the pitchers with the most saves.
When I was young, I thought the people who came up with the "fireman formula" were the folks at Rolaids. They advertised the "Rolaids Relief Award" for the top relievers of the year and that formula was displayed in their advertisements. I thought that if it wasn't for Rolaids no one would even care about relievers. Rolaids had lifted the relief pitcher from an afterthought into someone worth recognizing!
Little did I know that it was just a gimmicky sponsorship thing.
Other stuff: Today is Gaylord Perry's 72nd birthday. You thought he was older, didn't you? Me, too.
Card fact: This is Nolan Ryan's third card in the set, and we haven't even gotten to his base card yet. Meanwhile, this is Steve Carlton's second and final card in the set.
Both of these pitchers also appeared together on the 1973 Strikeout Leaders card, as each led their respective leagues in strikeouts in 1972.
What I'm about to say is very OCD-ish, but I like the '75 card better than the '73 card because the American League leader is on the left side of the card where it should be.
What I thought about this card then: The '75 Strikeout Leaders card was one of the three leaders cards that I had. I don't remember thinking much of it, which probably explains why I don't have that original copy anymore.
What I think about this card now: Carlton looks very strange with a mustache. He looks like a hillbilly yokel.
Other stuff: This was the second of Carlton's five strikeout titles in his career. For Ryan, it was his third in a row and the third of 11 for his career.
Back facts: Ryan had an "off-year," striking out "only" 367 batters the year after setting the major league record for fanning 383 in a season.
Ryan's 300-plus total for 1974 marked the fifth and final year in a streak of five straight seasons that the American League leader in strikeouts had fanned over 300. Sam McDowell struck out 304 in 1970, Mickey Lolich 308 in 1971 and then Ryan 329, 383 and 367 between 1972-74.
Only one other time in major league history has there been a streak of at least five seasons of the league leader striking out more than 300 batters. That was from 1997-2002 in the National League when Curt Schilling (twice) and Randy Johnson (four times) led the league with over 300 strikeouts over six straight years.
As for surprising players on the top 10, I'll go with John D'Acquisto with the Giants.
Other blog stuff: On this date in 1975, Robin Yount played in the 242nd game of his career, breaking Mel Ott's record for the most major league games played as a teenager.
Card fact: This is the third card that Catfish Hunter appears on in the 1975 set. You would think he would have had a chance to get on a fourth with the World Series subset that appears later on, but he was shut out there.
What I thought about this card then: I didn't see it.
What I think about this card now: Buzz Capra? Really?
Other stuff: Capra, as I noted when I posted his card, had a career year in 1974. It was so good that Topps finally gave him a card in the 1975 set after ignoring him for the first three years. But Capra would pitch his last major league game in September of 1977. It was also Hunter's only ERA title.
Back facts: A lot of surprises on the back, although they shouldn't really be that much of a surprise because the strangest pitchers pop up in ERA leaders. Among the pitchers who have led the league in ERA through the years: Danny Darwin, Scott Garrelts, Frank Baumann and Alejandro Pena.
But for 1974, the unexpected pitchers in the top 10 for me are Andy Hassler, Lynn McGlothen and Jim Barr. Probably Al Fitzmorris, too, although as a kid I thought he was a star.
Other blog stuff: Players in this set celebrating a birthday today are Rick Dempsey (61) and Rick Wise (65).
Card fact: This is the only four-photo card in the set that is not one of the rookie cards.
What I thought about this card then: I didn't see it.
What I think about this card now: When I was collecting the entire set a few years ago, I was surprised to see that this leaders card was vertical and that it featured four players instead of two. Having never seen it previously, I thought all of the leaders cards were horizontal, two-player cards. Since the rookie cards in this set also have pink-and-yellow borders, this card almost looks like a rookie card.
Other stuff: There are four players on the card because Jim "Catfish" Hunter and Fergie Jenkins tied for the win lead in the American League with 25 wins each, and Andy Messersmith and Phil Niekro tied for the lead in the National League with 20 wins each.
Messersmith is the only player of the four who would lead the league in victories just once. The other three each led the league in wins twice in their career.
Back facts: My goodness, look at those American League win totals! That is impressive. Nine 20-game winners and four others who came one win from 20. Wow. It really was a different era.
As for surprises, there aren't a lot. I'd have to go to the National League and point out Buzz Capra and Lynn McGlothen. But this isn't even the most surprising stat for Capra as you'll see soon.
Other blog stuff: Mets second baseman Luis Castillo was born on this date in 1975.
Card fact: This is the second of three cards for Lou Brock in the set. I believe only Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan appear on more cards in the set, although there are probably other players that appear three times, too.
What I thought about this card then: This is one of the three leaders cards that I had. It was my only card of Brock, as I didn't see either his own card or his highlights card. It was also my only Bill North card, as I didn't have the North base card. I liked this card a lot as I thought base stealers were the coolest players on the field.
What I think about this card now: There'd be kind of a Christmas colors thing going between the two players' uniforms. But the pink and yellow overwhelm everything.
Other stuff: This was Brock's eighth and final stolen base title, but it was also the one in which he set the single-season record for most steals with 118, breaking Maury Wills' mark. It was North's first of two stolen base titles. He also won the A.L. title in 1976.
Back facts: The National League continues to dominate the offensive categories in 1974.
The interesting names on this list for me are John Lowenstein in third place in the A.L., and, of course, Herb Washington with his 29 stolen bases, all coming as a pinch-runner. For the National League, I didn't know Larry Lintz had that many in one year, nor Enzo Hernandez.
Other blog stuff: No other blog stuff today. Instead, I'll ask that you remember those who died needlessly nine years ago today.
Card fact: This card puts the "pink-yellow" color combo into first place with one more card than the "orange-brown" combo. It will leave "orange-brown" in its dust by the time this subset is over.
What I thought about this card then: I didn't see it.
What I think about this card now: Neither gentleman has any idea where the camera is.
Other stuff: The year 1974 was Jeff Burroughs' big breakout season, so this was his first and only RBI title. For Johnny Bench, it was his third and final RBI crown.
Back facts: The guys who appear in the league leaders that surprise me a bit are Ken Henderson of the White Sox and, once again, Bobby Darwin, who apparently had a tidy, kick-ass season in '74.
For the National League, they are all solid hitters again. I only wish my favorite player, The Penguin, got three more RBIs to put everyone on the list in triple figures.
Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song in the country on this date in 1975 was "Rhinestone Cowboy" by Glen Campbell. I remember hearing this song incessantly when I was a kid. I think for a little while I thought it was our National Anthem.
Card fact: We have two players looking toward the sky on one card! That may be the only instance of this in the set. But I'm not sure. No looking ahead. Don't spoil it for everyone.
What I thought about this card then: Didn't see it.
What I think about this card now: Why was Dick Allen always photographed wearing a batting helmet late in his career? He's wearing it in both 1975 Topps cards, his 1973, 1974 and 1976 Topps cards, and his 1971 Topps card. That means he's wearing a helmet in all of his most recent cards from 1970 onward (the '72 Topps card, in which he's wearing a regular cap, doesn't count because it's just a re-use of the 1970 Topps photo).
Other stuff: This was Mike Schmidt's first appearance on a card as the home run king. It was the first of eight homer titles for him. It was the second of two home runs titles for Dick Allen, who achieved both feats with the White Sox.
Back facts: The fact that 22 home runs made the top 10 in each league illustrates the low offensive period baseball was in at the time. Even in our "year of the pitcher" this season, 22 home runs ranks only 17th in both the American and National leagues.
The players in the top 10 in 1974 that I didn't expect to see are Bobby Darwin and Charlie Spikes in the American League. It's also interesting to see Frank Robinson up there at such a late stage in his career.
For the National League, no one is a surprise. Those are legitimate sluggers.
Other blog stuff: On this date in 1953, Mickey Mantle is photographed blowing a large bubble with his chewing gum as he returns to center field after a seven-run fifth inning by the Yankees. This causes manager Casey Stengel to scold Mantle publicly. Mantle apologizes. But Bowman Gum gives him an endorsement deal.