Friday, September 30, 2011

Check you later


I started this blog for one reason. The 1975 Topps set deserved a blog.

When I first started reading card blogs back in the early summer of 2008, I came across several set-related blogs. They captured my imagination. The devotion to the individual card. The love of a set-builder. The fun facts I never knew and the ones I always knew.

But I realized right away that no one had started a '75 Topps blog. That staggered me. At the time, I thought there really was only one set that was interesting enough to catalog card-by-card, and that was the '75 set. I was a bit biased because it was the first set I ever collected. But come on. Look at it. Why in the heck had everyone been able to avoid creating a '75 Topps blog?

As I became a blogger and the months went by, I continued to wait for someone to begin the '75 Topps blog. But no one did. Finally, after a little over a year of waiting, I started one myself on October 14, 2009. All I wanted to do was share my enthusiasm for my all-time favorite set.

But as I chronicled the set almost each and every day, something happened. First, the blog became my oasis. Night Owl Cards is my oasis away from life. But 1975 Topps (it's far out, man) was my oasis away from Night Owl Cards. I'm going to miss old '75y for that reason.

But secondly, I became aware of how the blog affected others. People told me that they were inspired to collect the set because of this blog. People sent me '75 cards because they figured I might want some upgrades (I did). Some wacky fellow blogger attempted to make sure there was a comment on every post (you missed one, bud). I was contacted by relatives of players in the set.

I never knew that posting my simple memories of collecting a set would connect with others on such a level.

So, now that it's over, I owe a thanks to anyone who read this, or will continue to read it. Thanks to all the regular commenters like EggRocket, Play at the Plate, steelehere, Johngy, MCT, Jim from Downington, Reivax, Douglas, wobs, MJ, Matt R, Devon, eric c. loy, Roy, Jim, and many others who climbed aboard and joined in with the spirit with which this blog was intended.

A special thanks to Andy for being the inspiration for this blog as his 1988 Topps set blog was the first of its kind that I ever saw. And thanks to wobs again for devoting several cards to the cause.

Thank you to all who corresponded by email, a number of whom never commented on this blog. I appreciated your kind words. Some of your personal stories relating to this blog actually brought tears to my eyes.

The '70s were a wonderful time to be a kid and collect and I will always remember that when I look at my '75s. And now when I look at this blog in retrospect.

I'll be taking a break from starting a second blog for awhile. I don't know how long that break will be. You could see another set blog pop up in a week or you could see one pop up in 2012. I don't know. I'm guessing in about a month you'll see something new.

Until then,

Catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A little something extra


No, this is not a repeat of yesterday's post. It's not even the same image.

But a comment on yesterday's post guessed at what this post -- and the surprise -- would be. Sort of.

I received a thank you package in the mail from Andy of the Baseball-Reference.com blog. It really was the most appropriate thank you that he could have made. And I am most appreciative.

As many followers of this blog know, the wrapper featured here is the wrapper for the 1975 Topps set. But that isn't merely a scan of the wrapper. It is a scan of an unopened pack of 1975 Topps cards.

An unopened pack of 1975 Topps MINI cards.

That was my gift.

I know.

That is out of sight.

I have not opened a 1975 Topps pack since probably August 1975. So it was quite a thrill opening this pack. And I'm going to show the cards here. I also opened the pack on my other blog, and I go into a little more detail over there, if you are interested.

I had to pair up the cards that I pulled out of the pack with the regular-sized version of the card, just so you would be able to tell that it's a mini card.

OK, on the occasion of completing the "1975 Topps (it's far out, man) blog," here is the unveiling of a 1975 Topps minis card pack, 36 years later:


#491 - Doyle Alexander.


A card I never pulled in 1975.


#114 - Dick Lange


A card I traded for in that big deal for mini cards that I made in 1975.


#448 - Frank Duffy


One of the first cards -- if not the first -- that I obtained in mini and regular-sized versions during 1975.


#138 - Del Unser


I never saw this card in 1975 either.


#222 - Dan Spillner (it's not that miscut -- the scanner cut off the image).


I pulled the regular-sized version of this card when I was on vacation in July of 1975 after a walk to the drug store in the town we were visiting.


#41 - Cesar Geronimo


Possibly the best offensive player in the pack. I never pulled this card in 1975.


#438 - Don Carrithers


Another mini card I acquired in the Great Mini Trade of '75.


#92 - Cecil Upshaw


Yes, another card acquired in that mini trade.


#256 - Billy Champion (several of the minis were off-center, top-to-bottom, causing the scanner to trim the bottom part of the card).


The regular-sized version of this card was acquired through another trade, although I don't quite remember the circumstances.


#166 - Woodie Fryman


I never pulled this card in '75.

So, if you're a veteran of pack purchasing in 1975, you know that's the end of the pack, as there were 10 cards in every wax pack in '75.

Out of the 10 cards, I had four in mini form already, although all four of them are excellent upgrades.

All will go toward my leisurely pursuit of the entire 1975 Topps mini pursuit (still need Yount, Brett, Ryan and Aaron ... heh), so I thank Andy for that.

Most of all, thanks for the '70s flashback. It was terrific fun. I even waited three whole days before opening the pack.

Hope everyone enjoyed!

I'll be back tomorrow with some final words.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Set in review


Every 100 cards, I conducted an update of the 1975 Topps set. From the time I was a kid, there were always elements about the set that I wanted to quantify, and this blog was the perfect opportunity to do that:

Which border color combinations appeared the most? Which appeared the least? How many dudes looked like ladies?

That sort of stuff.

So this is my chance to put all those questions to rest. Here is the final tally for a lot of the categories that I mentioned throughout the blog and a couple others:

1. COLOR COMBINATIONS

In the end, there was a five-way tie for the lead among the color combinations. The green-light green, green-purple, orange-brown, pink-yellow and purple-pink combinations each finished with 55 cards apiece. If we're going by the define-the-design names selected for those combinations, the "lime design," "Incredible Hulk design," "candy corn design," "marshmallow peeps design," and "My Little Pony design" finished at the top of the heap. But here is the full list:

1. Green-light green: 55
2. Green-purple: 55
3. Orange-brown: 55
4. Pink-yellow: 55
5. Purple-pink: 55
6. Yellow-red: 39
7. Brown-orange: 33
8. Green-yellow: 33
9. Light blue-green: 33
10. Orange-yellow: 33
11. Red-orange: 33
12. Yellow-light blue: 33
13. Blue-orange: 22
14. Brown-tan: 22
15. Red-blue: 22
16. Red-yellow: 22
17. Tan-light blue: 22
18: Yellow-green: 22

Of course, I omitted the yellow-red borders of the all-star cards every time I ranked the border combinations. But if I combined the yellow-red All-Star card borders with the other yellow-red cards, then the yellow-red border would be the overall winner with 56 cards total.

2. POWDER BLUE UNIFORMS

There were a whopping 83 players wearing powder blue in this set. I'd be willing to guess that the total was even higher in the 1976 or 1977 Topps set. Maybe even 1978 with the first real appearance of the Blue Jays.

3. LOOKING UP

There are 29 players looking up in this set. I imagine that if you total this category up in 1960s sets, it's a lot bigger.

4. DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY

A grand total of 12 players that I thought looked like ladies when I was a kid. Here they all are together:

Buddy Bell, Ted Simmons, Jim Mason, Steve Arlin, Rich Coggins, Fred Beene, Dave LaRoche, Ellie Rodriguez, Ken Sanders, Dick Pole, Dave Roberts and Tom Veryzer.

5. DECEASED

Unfortunately, this is a category that will continue to grow. Right now, there are 64 players in this set that are deceased.

6. CHAW

A disappointing four players in this set are displaying a chaw. I really thought there would have been more. Players had disgusting habits back then.

7. MLB SON

Thirty-two players in this set had at least one child who also played in the majors. This total surprised me. I am aware of the many MLB families in baseball. I just never knew how MUCH of a family sport major league baseball was.

8. ROOKIE CUP

Here is the rookie cup team one more time:

1B - Mike Hargrove
2B - Larry Milbourne
3B - Bill Madlock
SS - Bucky Dent
OF - Bake McBride
OF - Greg Gross
OF - Claudell Washington
C - Barry Foote
P - Frank Tanana



9. ALL-STARS

Here are the All-Star cards one more time:

AL

1B - Dick Allen
2B - Rod Carew
3B - Brooks Robinson
SS - Bert Campaneris
OF - Bobby Murcer
OF - Jeff Burroughs
OF -
C - Carlton Fisk
P - Gaylord Perry

NL

1B - Steve Garvey
2B - Joe Morgan
3B - Ron Cey
SS - Larry Bowa
OF - Hank Aaron
OF - Pete Rose
OF - Jim Wynn
C - Johnny Bench
P - Andy Messersmith



Poor Reggie is still missing.

10. MOST POPULAR FIRST NAME

Jim is the most popular name in the set, appearing 30 times. Dave/David and Tom/Tommy appear 26 times.

11. MINIS

I have 124 cards in the set in mini form. That's 18.8% of the set. I plan to get to work on improving that percentage in the months ahead.

12. AIRBRUSHED

There are 65 cards of players who have been airbrushed into different uniforms. As a kid, I missed probably 60 of those.

13. PLAYER THAT APPEARS THE MOST IN THE SET

Nolan Ryan has four cards in the set. Two highlights, one leader card, and his base card.

14. MOST POPULAR POSTS

The first card in the set -- the Hank Aaron Highlight card -- is far-and-away the most clicked-on post. Here, I'll show you:



That's how close it is.

Now that the other Hank Aaron card has been posted on this blog, I expect the No. 1 Aaron card to have a little competition.


All right, that's the rundown on the set. Hope you enjoyed.

Oh, one other thing:

Other blog stuff: I have a surprise for tomorrow that I think you'll enjoy. Well, mostly I will enjoy it. But I'll let you ride along. You won't want to miss it. It's so good that I'll be posting it on both blogs. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

#660 - Hank Aaron


Card fact: Hank Aaron is airbrushed into Brewers gear after the Braves dealt him to Milwaukee on Nov. 2, 1974.

What I thought about this card then: Not much. I traded the Aaron card in order to get the '75 card of my favorite player, Ron Cey. It's just as well. The Aaron card was stolen goods as it came out of a pack that I shoplifted from a drug store.

What I think about this card now: Topps was getting collectors ready for what was in store for Aaron in 1975. Aaron had not played a game at designated hitter prior to his trade to the Brewers, but yet Topps is declaring him a designated hitter.

Other stuff: Topps book-ended the set with Hank Aaron cards as cards No. 1 and No. 660. It took me years to realize this. I just never figured Topps put that much thought into the set. But it's a nice tribute after Aaron's record-setting 1974 season.

The card is one of Aaron's least pleasing ones. Topps chose a photo that was easy to airbrush and it's kind of unfortunate that this is what came out the year after he broke the all-time home run record.

Aaron's also the only player in the set (discounting the MVP subset) featured with two different teams.


Back facts: Ernie Banks is misspelled. And an O.J. Simpson reference on the back of an Aaron card is a bit of a downer, although it was pretty impressive in 1974.

Other blog stuff: This is the final card in the set. But I'm not quite done. I need to wrap up all the categories, like I did every 100 cards. I'll devote tomorrow's post to that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

#659 - Bob Apodaca


Card fact: This is Bob Apodaca's first solo card. He appears on a four-player rookie card in the 1974 Topps set (there is both an error version and corrected version of his '74 card. His name is spelled "Apodaco" in the error version).

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

What I think about this card now: It's always interesting seeing the penultimate card in a set. Beyond that, no thoughts.

Other stuff: Apodaca pitched five seasons in the major leagues, all for the Mets. I relate him to those mediocre Mets teams of the mid-to-late '70s.

Apodaca was used as a reliever by New York and he saved 13 games with a 1.49 ERA in 1975. Arm problems struck after the 1977 season and he missed a couple of seasons. He pitched in the minors in 1979 and 1981.

Apodaca was a coach for the Mets organization throughout '80s and '90s, including the Mets' big league pitching coach in the late '90s. He's been the Rockies' pitching coach since 2003.


Back facts: Another Dodger cartoon. One day I'll count them all, but there has to be at least 20 or 25.

Also, the Apodaca's non-existent ERA in 1973 would have mystified me as a boy. Apodaca pitched to two batters, allowed a run and didn't get anyone out for an ERA of infinity in his only game in the majors in '73.

Other blog stuff: Tomorrow is the final card in the set. Gee, I wonder who it is?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

#658 - Vic Harris


Card fact: This is Vic Harris' last Topps card until the 1978 Topps set.

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

What I think about this card now: I know the Harris 1978 card well. He's with the Giants. It took me a long time to realize that this Harris and that Harris are the same person.

Other stuff: Harris was dealt to the Cubs along with Bill Madlock in the deal that sent Ferguson Jenkins to the Rangers. Harris was just coming off his best major league season when he played in 152 games as the Rangers' starting center fielder.

Harris was inserted at second base with Chicago, but he didn't hit well and was sent to the minors. When he returned in 1975, he was strictly a utility guy, first with the Cubs and then with the Cardinals, Giants and Brewers.

After 1980, he went to Japan and played for three years before retiring.


Back facts: "Has super-star potential." Ouch.

Other blog stuff: Jim Henson, the creator of that '70s classic, "The Muppet Show," was born on this date 75 years ago.

"Why do we always come here
I guess we'll never know
It's like a kind of torture
To have to watch this show"
-- Statler and Waldorf

Friday, September 23, 2011

#657 - Bob Oliver


Card fact: This is the last Topps card issued of Bob Oliver during his career.

What I thought about this card then: This is one of the first cards I ever saw in 1975. It came out of my brother's first packs of cards. It's still strange to see this card with sharp corners and no scuff marks, because in my mind, the Oliver card I see is my 8-year-old brother's card.

Oliver has the honor of being one of the first cards I saw in my first two years of collecting. In 1974, the year in which we received some cards from my mother and threw them away at the end of the season, Oliver's card is one of my early memories.

What I think about this card now: Oliver is airbrushed into an Orioles cap. He was traded from the Angels to the Orioles in September 1974. The bird logo on Oliver's cap is freakishly huge.

Other stuff: Oliver made a brief appearance with the Pirates in 1965, then didn't resurface in the majors until 1969 after he was picked up by the expansion Royals.

He was a key offensive component of the Royals, enjoying a breakout year in 1970 when he drove in 99 runs. He was dealt to the Angels in early May of 1972, and he produced a powerful 1973 season for California.

After that, he settled into a utility role for the Angels, Orioles and Yankees, finishing up in 1975. He later managed in an independent league and operated his own baseball school. Oliver is the father of longtime lefty hurler Darren Oliver. In fact, both Olivers were teammates of Nolan Ryan during their careers.


Back facts: Topps goes through all of that trouble painting that giant smiling birdie, and the Orioles go and trade him to the Yankees before the card even hits the stores.

Other blog stuff: I'd like to direct your attention to the "Reeling in the Years" segment on the sidebar. It lists all of the set-related blogs of which I'm aware. Some haven't been publishing for awhile. But several have been added since the start of this blog, including most recently, the 1986 Topps blog, which is a blog I actually considered starting myself at one time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

#656 - Bill Plummer


Card fact: We're getting down to the wire here. This is the last card featuring a photo of a player posing with a bat.

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

What I think about this card now: I upgraded this card a year or so ago after being blissfully unaware that there was a significant crease running through the right side of the card. This card has a little ding at the top, but I'm much happier with it.

Also, on many of Plummer's cards, he's featured with a major chaw in his cheek. I'm disappointed that isn't displaying one on this card.

Other stuff: Plummer spent most of his major league career as a back-up to Johnny Bench. He filled in for Bench between 1972-78. Plummer was your typical good-field, no-hit backup backstop. He finished with a career .188 batting average after 367 games between 1968-78.

Plummer played his final season with the Mariners in 1979. He then went into coaching in the Seattle organization. He later worked as a third base coach for Seattle, then managed them for a year in 1992 before the Mariners hired Lou Piniella.

Plummer went on to manage in independent leagues (he managed a player from my area, and I had planned to talk to him about the player. But the player was notorious for not wanting to talk about himself, so the story never happened and I never talked to Plummer). He is now an instructor in the Diamondbacks organization.


Back facts: The write-up reads like an explanation as to why Topps is giving Plummer a card.

Other blog stuff: Dodger blue legend Tommy Lasorda was born on this date. He is 84 years old.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

#655 - Rico Carty


Card fact: Rico Carty is airbrushed into an Indians cap and uniform. I can only guess at what uniform he was really wearing. He played for Texas, the Cubs and Oakland in 1973 and in 33 games for Cleveland in 1974.

What I thought about this card then: Didn't see it. The first Carty card I saw was his 1976 Topps card in that magnificent red Indians uniform.

What I think about this card now: Kind of a dorky grin there. Pleasant enough, but dorky.

Other stuff: Nicknamed "Beeg Mon," Carty could hit from the word go. In his first full season with the Braves in 1964, he hit .330, finished second in the league in hitting and second in the N.L. Rookie of the Year voting.

Carty put up some big years in eight seasons with the Braves, winning a batting title in 1970 with a .366 average (he also knocked in 101 runs and blasted 25 homers), hitting in 31 straight games that year, and batting .342 in the Braves' pennant-winning season in 1969.

But Carty missed two full seasons in 1968 and 1971, the first battling tuberculosis, and the second with a broken knee, suffered in a collision while playing winter ball. Carty was eventually dealt to Texas because of disputes with teammates.

In fact, Carty didn't see eye-to-eye with several famed players, including Hank Aaron with the Braves, Ron Santo with the Cubs, and Frank Robinson with the Indians. Carty revived his career in Cleveland, batting .308 in 1975 and pounding out 171 hits in 1976. But the Indians left him available in the expansion draft.

The Blue Jays selected him, but then traded him back to Cleveland a month later (they faked out Topps, which airbrushed Carty into a Blue Jays uniform in the 1977 set, even though he didn't play for Toronto in '77). Cleveland traded Carty back to Toronto after the 1977 season. Carty then spent the rest of his career with the A's and Blue Jays, finishing in 1979. He set a career-high with 31 home runs in 1978.


Back facts: Those double "on disabled list" lines are jarring. I noticed Carty's double misfortune on the back of his 1976 card.

Also, that's an adequate attempt on a JFK likeness in the cartoon. I wonder what makes the cartoonist decide to attempt a likeness sometimes but not others.

Other blog stuff: Bill Murray and Larry Hagman were both born on this date. They each were kind of notable in the '70s.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

#654 - Jerry Terrell


Card fact: This is the last card in the set of a player wearing a powder blue uniform. Yup, we're really nearing the end.

What I thought about this card then: I didn't see it. However, Jerry Terrell has the honor of being the first card pulled by my brother in the 1976 Topps set. I don't know how I remember that. Probably because my brother deemed it the greatest card ever.

What I think about this card now: The smile with the batting stance pose looks odd. How many players are smiling while they're batting?

Other stuff: Terrell was a utility infielder for the Twins and the Royals between 1973-80. He began as a starting shortstop for Minnesota, but after over 400 at-bats in '73 and '75, he sat on the bench a lot more the rest of his career. He could play short, second, third and first, making him pretty handy. He even pitched a couple innings.

Terrell is remembered as the only player to vote against a strike back in 1980. The vote was taken prior to the players eventually walking in 1981. Terrell was the Royals' player representative, but cited religious reasons for being one out of 968 players to vote "no."

After his playing career, he managed in the Royals and White Sox organizations. He also worked as a scout.


Back facts: Terrell doubled three times off of Mickey Lolich in that game against the Tigers on June 3, 1973. But Lolich won the game and the Tigers beat the Twins, 8-2.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1907, Nick Maddox of the Pirates no-hit the Brooklyn Superbas 2-1. Maddox was 20 years old and remains the youngest player to throw a no-hitter in the major leagues.

Monday, September 19, 2011

#653 - Lee Richard


Card fact: This is another name spelling error in the set. On par with the Cuellar/Cueller goof, Lee Richard has no "s" on the end of his name. Thanks to the addition by Topps, I thought his name was "Lee Richards" for a long time.

What I thought about this card then: I, as well as my brother, was amused by the back of the card, which you will see later.

What I think about this card now: I have been questing for a much more centered version of this card for a while. But somehow it always slips my mind.

Other stuff: Richard was known for his electric speed. He was used quite often as a pinch-runner and sometimes almost exclusively. The White Sox selected him sixth overall in the 1970 draft.

Richard played in 87 games, mostly at shortstop, for the 1971 White Sox, but hit just .231 with 17 RBIs. He went back to the minors for most of the next two seasons before re-emerging in '74 as a utility infielder -- which explains the "infield" designation on his card here.

Richard lasted one more season with the White Sox in 1975, then was sent to the Cardinals, who used him for 66 games in 1976. He hit .209 for his career in 239 games.


Back facts: Laziness is killing me. I didn't post Sunday, and I missed publishing on Richard's birthday by two minutes. Oh well, it's still Sept. 18 in part of the country.

As for the write-up at the bottom, "'Bee Bee' has great speed," was the single most hysterical thing that I read on the back of a baseball card in 1975. I vividly remember my brother and I with tears in our eyes as we laughed uncontrollably over what we considered such a bizarre statement. I can't fully explain why we thought it was so funny. We just latched onto players with below-average statistics and found whatever we could to ridicule. We were baseball card bullies, I guess.

The "Bee Bee" nickname, by the way, didn't have to do with his speed. Richard acquired it in high school when he was a pitcher, and the name refers to the speed of his fastball at the time.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1976, Indians player-manager Frank Robinson delivers a pinch-hit single in his final major league at-bat.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

#652 - Lindy McDaniel


Card fact: This is the final Topps card issued during Lindy McDaniel's career. His last major league season was in 1975.

What I thought about this card then: My brother had this card. To us, McDaniel looked like the definition of a veteran major leaguer. I don't think we ever voiced it, but on the inside, we were thinking "now there's a guy who's been around and knows his ... uh ... stuff."

What I think about this card now: Whenever I see guys who played in the '50s wearing powder blue uniforms, it does not look right.

Other stuff: McDaniel pitched for 21 seasons in the majors, and is known as one of the greatest relief pitchers. He began with the Cardinals and started for them in 1957 and 1958. But after that he was almost exclusively a relief hurler. He led the league in saves in 1959, 1960 and 1963. His 1960 season was his best. He saved 26 games, recorded a 2.09 ERA, went 12-4, finished third in the Cy Young Award voting, and fifth in the MVP balloting.

McDaniel moved on to the Cubs and then the Giants and was effective throughout the '60s. But he returned to the level of his Cardinals days after being dealt to the Yankees for Bill Monbouquette in 1968. He enjoyed a stellar 1970 season, saving 29 games and recording a 2.01 ERA for New York.

After six years with the Yankees, New York sent McDaniel to Kansas City in the Lou Piniella trade. McDaniel pitched two seasons for the Royals before retiring.

McDaniel has his own web site, in which you can check out all his Topps cards.

McDaniel's 1971 Topps card happens to be up for a coveted spot in the esteemed Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Fame at Night Owl Cards.


Back facts: This was my first experience with a player whose career was so long that the stats are crammed onto the back of the card. I had never seen so many years of stats until viewing the Lindy McDaniel card. Topps even squeezed the card number to get all the stats on the back.

Also, I know many, many people don't need an explanation as to who Darrell Royal is, but I sure did when I was a kid. Even today, as someone who pays very little attention to college football, I can tell you only the most basic facts about Royal.

Other blog stuff: The green-purple border combination is now in a first-place tie with the pink-yellow border combo with 55 cards apiece.

Friday, September 16, 2011

#651 - John Morlan


Card fact: This is John Morlan's only Topps card.

What I thought about this card then: I never saw it. No clue who John Morlan was until completing the set in 2004.

What I think about this card now: I give my 9-year-old self a lot of flack for thinking players on cards were a lot older than they actually were. But when I saw this card for the first time, I was a full-grown adult in my 30s, and I thought the 27-year-old Morlan on this card appeared to be in his 50s.

Other stuff: Morlan was signed by the Pirates as an outfielder. But he converted to pitching in the minors. He reported late to the minor leagues each of his first four seasons because he was an elementary school teacher and had to wait until school let out for the summer before he played baseball.

His only two years in the major leagues were 1973 and 1974. He pitched in just 10 games in '73 but was utilized quite a bit by the N.L. East champions in '74 with 39 relief appearances.

Morlan underwent elbow surgery after the 1974 season and didn't play in the majors after that. He pitched for  Pirates minor league teams until 1977.


Back facts: If Morlan's first year of pro ball was in '73, then what was he doing in 1971 and '72 for Monroe, Niagara Falls and Salem? Those weren't American Legion teams.

Other blog stuff: A happy 56th birthday to Robin Yount. Yup, the only teenager featured in this set (batboys excluded) is 56 today.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

#650 - Dave May


Card fact: This is the last of five players with the last name "May" in the set. The others were Lee, Carlos, Milt and Rudy.

What I thought about this card then: My brother had this card. We thought the card was weird and May a bit odd-looking. It's not the most flattering photo.

What I think about this card now: May is airbrushed into a Braves cap and jersey because he was JUST TRADED FOR HANK AARON.

Other stuff: May was an outfielder who came up with the Orioles. He didn't hit a lot with Baltimore and was traded to Milwaukee, where he became a productive offensive threat. In 1973, he enjoyed his best season, hitting 25 home runs, knocking in 93 and hitting .303.

In 1974, he fell off quite a bit, batting only .226. That led to the trade that made May an answer to a trivia question: "Who did the Braves acquire in a trade for Hank Aaron?" May was dealt to Atlanta, along with player-to-be-named Roger Alexander, for Aaron on Nov. 2, 1974.

May played only part-time for the Braves for two seasons, then was traded to Texas in another big deal as the Rangers shipped Jeff Burroughs to Atlanta. May spent one year with the Rangers, then returned to Milwaukee and finished his major league career in Pittsburgh in 1978.

May's son, Derrick, played for the Cubs and five other teams from 1990-99.

(EDIT: May died on Oct. 20, 2012)


Back facts: Well, Topps was a bit bold with the write-up, but it's spot-on. That is what people know about Dave May.

Also, if the cartoon leaves you wondering and you have all the time in the world, here is far too much information, on baseball's longest throws. Glen Gorbous is mentioned somewhere in there, eventually.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1975, Mets rookie Mike Vail extended his hitting streak to 23 straight games. This is one of the earliest baseball-on-TV viewing memories that I have.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#649 - Jack Heidemann


Card fact: This is the only Topps card of Jack Heidemann in which he's featured wearing long hair and a mustache. From 1970-73, he's clean-shaven. When he reappears on a Topps card in 1977, he's also clean-shaven.

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

What I think about this card now: When I was trying to complete the set in 2004, this was the first card I came across in which I had never heard of the player. This was absolutely stunning to me. I had prided myself on knowing 1970s players, especially from the period when I collected as a kid. I didn't think it was possible that there were players in the '75 set that I didn't know.

It turns out there was more than Heidemann. There are probably 30-40 players in the set in which I had never heard of them until I completed the set in 2004. But that's the fun of collecting cards.

Other stuff: Heidemann was a first-round draft pick of the Indians and played the 1970 season as Cleveland's starting shortstop. In 133 games and 445 at-bats, Heidemann hit .211 and struck out 88 times. His playing time decreased after that, partly because of an inability to hit and partly because of injury.

He played with Cleveland through 1973. With the Cardinals in 1974, he enjoyed his best year, which probably explains Topps giving him a card in '75 after no card in the '74 set. He then went to the Mets and was used as a utility infielder both by New York and the Milwaukee Brewers between 1975-77.


Back facts: This is the last cartoon in the set featuring an animal.

Other blog stuff: In case you don't read Night Owl Cards, I announced over there that after this blog is finished, I will be doing another set blog. However, I won't be starting it right away. I need a break from doing two blogs.

I'm reasonably sure which set I will feature once I decide to start another blog. But I'm not ready to reveal that now. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

#648 - Dave Pagan


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

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

What I think about this card now: He looks like a guy who we would have made fun of as kids.

Other stuff: Pagan was signed by the Yankees in 1970. After time in the minors, he reached the big leagues in 1973. From 1973 through 1975, he bounced between the majors and minors.

In 1976, he was involved in the big June trade between the Yankees and Orioles that included Ken Holtzman, Scott McGregor, Grant Jackson, Rick Dempsey, Doyle Alexander and Tippy Martinez, among others. He pitched ineffectively for Baltimore and was selected by the Mariners in the expansion draft. I know him from his Seattle days, thanks to this amusing card.

Pagan finished out his career with the Pirates in '77 and pitched in the minors through 1979.


Back facts: I missed posting on Pagan's birthday by two days.

Also, I think it's nice that the cartoon features a question about a Canadian ballplayer on the back of a card of someone from Saskatchewan. But that's an awfully open-ended question: "name one of the best all-time Canadian ballplayers?" Personally, I was going to say "Stubby Clapp." He was a Canadian ballplayer with an all-time great name, anyway.

Other blog stuff: Players in this set celebrating birthdays today are Rick Dempsey (age 62) and Rick Wise (age 65).