Monday, May 31, 2010

#216 - Giants/Wes Westrum

Card fact: Topps probably had to scramble to get a photo of Wes Westrum. He was named manager in mid-July of 1974, replacing Charlie Fox. Back then, Topps traditionally obtained photos of its subjects during spring training of the year before the cards were issued.

This was Westrum's second and last major league managerial job. He was the second Mets manager in the franchise's history, helping the team to its first non-last place finish ever in 1966.

What I thought about this card then: As I've mentioned many times before, thoughts about team cards were few and far between.

What I think about this card now: Giants. Ick. Why did they get a color combo that matches their team colors? Stupid Topps.

Other stuff: The third person from the left in row two is Bobby Bonds. But Bonds is airbrushed into a Yankees uniform in his 1975 card as he was traded to the Yankees during the 1974-75 offseason.

Back facts: This is the first opportunity to show both the back of a regular team card that you would pull out of a pack in 1975 and the team card that you received when you ordered the whole team card set through the mail. I still have that mail-order Giants card from '75.

First the regular '75 pack team card back:

And now the back of a team card received through the mail order:

Aside from my 9-year-old checklist system, note the white card stock, which was much thinner, more like a note card.

Other blog stuff: Time to see how well Topps represented the 1974 Giants squad.

The Giants used 35 players during the 1974 season, which was one of several lousy '70s seasons for San Francisco. Topps featured 25 players from that 1974 season, including Bonds, airbrushed as a Yankee, and Ken Rudolph and Elias Sosa, both airbrushed as Cardinals. So there are just 22 Giants from the '74 team wearing Giants colors in Topps set (Topps did add Bobby Murcer and Marc Hill as Giants in the '75 set. Murcer, airbrushed awkwardly, was traded for Bonds after the '74 season and Hill was a rookie who didn't play for the Giants until 1975).

There are no notable '74 players missing from the set. John Montefusco, who pitched in just seven games, doesn't have a card. His rookie season would be '75. Steve Barber pitched in 13 games but his last card is from '74 Topps. Reliever Jim Willoughby pitched in 18 games, which is more than a couple of Giants pitchers who did have cards in the '75 set, but he doesn't have a card. Willoughby is shown as a Giant in the '74 set and then returns as a Red Sox in the '76 set.

So with 25 players featured from the '74 Giants in the set, that comes to 71.4 percent of the players. Here is where the Giants rank with the other teams shown 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. Expos 68.29%
7. Phillies 62.5%
8. Padres 55.8%

Sunday, May 30, 2010

#215 - Bobby Valentine

Card fact: This is about the sixth or seventh Angels card that has shown the player wearing a black patch or piece of tape on their left sleeve. If it was worn as a memorial for someone, I can't find it here. If anyone knows why so many Angels wore that in 1974, I'd love to hear the reason.

What I thought about this card then: I vaguely recall someone having the mini card.

What I think about this card now: It's odd to see Bobby Valentine so young.

Other stuff: Whenever I think of Bobby Valentine now, I think of his stints on ESPN and his time as a manager with the Mets and Rangers and how colorful he was/is during those times. But Valentine was once a promising young player for the Dodgers -- the team's first-round draft choice in 1968. He struggled a bit to stay in the majors with L.A., but still had enought promise that the Dodgers were able to get Andy Messersmith for Valentine in a trade with the Angels. Then Valentine suffered a horrific leg fracture in 1973 when he got his spike caught in a fence while chasing a flyball. After that he bounced from team to team and never fulfilled that promise.

I was always amused by Valentine and wonder what his behavior was like as a player. He must've been crazy.

Back facts: You can see that Topps thought Valentine still had enough promise to deserve a card number that ended in "5."

Other blog stuff: Birthday time: Today is Manny Ramirez's 38th birthday. Win a World Series before you turn 39, Manny, and I don't care what you do after that.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

#214 - Harry Parker

Card fact: This is the final card issued during Harry Parker's playing career. In fact, he had only two cards.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. And it took me a long time to nab this card when I was completing the set a few years ago. I'll never figure that out.

What I think about this card now: Oh, it's good to see tilted backgrounds back again. ... Other than that, I'm really trying not to make a Harry Potter/Harry Parker reference.

Other stuff: There is not a lot of information to be found on Mr. Parker, which is surprising since he was a regular reliever on the staff of the 1973 National League champion Mets. Parker didn't fair quite as well in 1974 and was traded to the Cardinals after a worse season in 1975. He ended his career with the Indians in 1976.

EDIT: Parker died on May 28, 2012.

Back facts: Lots of family talk on the back of this card between the Parkers and the Delahentys. Ed Delahenty is the most famous the Delahenty brothers and was one of the game's first great sluggers. He is probably most known for his death. He was mysteriously swept over Niagara Falls in 1903 after apparently being kicked off a train for being drunk and disruptive. The story has always intrigued me partly because I used to work in Niagara Falls and a lot of the places brought up in the story are familiar to me.

Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song in the country in this date was "Shining Star" by Earth, Wind and Fire. Shining star for you to see what your life can truly be. Yowwwwwwwww!

Friday, May 28, 2010

#213 - Oscar Gamble

Card fact: The first player card in 25 posts is the same card that I featured on the first post of this blog. It's also one of the most famous cards of the 1970s. Oscar Gamble's cap/Afro Mickey Mouse look has been cited hundreds of times, although probably not as often as Gamble's 1976 Topps Traded card.

What I thought about this card then: I pulled this card when my family was out of town on vacation. I don't recall thinking anything specific about Gamble's hair (there were a lot of people who looked like that then). But it did become one of my most favorite cards from the set. I probably did dig the hair, I just didn't know how to express it. I was 9.

What I think about this card now: There is so little vegetation in the background and the sky is so light that when I think of the card, I imagine the photo was taken in a studio, which never happened back then.

Other stuff: Oscar Gamble was just coming into his own in the mid-1970s. He'd have some decent seasons for the Indians, then really turn things after he was traded by the Yankees to the White Sox for Bucky Dent. I remember being thrilled that Gamble had such a great 1977 after leaving the Yankees. But then the Yankees won the World Series that year and Gamble ended up back with the Yankees a couple of years later.

EDIT: Gamble died at age 68 on Jan. 31, 2018.

Back facts: Yay! Cartoons are back! Ouch! Getting hit by that many balls at once has got to hurt!

Other blog stuff: Here is the very card that I pulled out of that pack on a July day in 1975:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

#212 - 1974 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: The final card in the MVP subset features the 1974 Topps design. The 1974 Topps set is the first card set I ever saw, the first cards I ever held in my hand. So it means a great deal to me.

Because of this card, I coveted the Jeff Burroughs '74 card for a long time. And because of this card, I thought of Burroughs as one of the greatest players of all-time for a few years of my childhood.

The Steve Garvey card, meanwhile, is truly great, another one that I held at a high level from a very early age.

Earlier, I mentioned that there would be one card in which one MVP was on a vertical card and another on a horizontal card. This is the card, obviously. Topps chose to tip the Garvey image on its side and make the '74 MVP card horizontal.

What I thought about this card then: I pretty much covered it up above. This is a card that I pulled from the first packs I ever bought. But for some reason I didn't scan that card in, so I can't show you the ragged mess that it is now.

What I think about this card now: The Burroughs card really isn't that special-looking. But when I was a kid I thought he was really doing something.

Other stuff: Burroughs and Garvey were both fairly young when they won this award. I'm assuming people thought this signaled the arrival of the new guard of players. Garvey did end up being one of the best for a number of years. Burroughs, though, leveled off, although his career lasted for a good while.

Back facts: What happened to all the wordiness? Did the writers get sick of tracking down stats and phone in the final card?

Other blog stuff: There won't be another subset until the league leaders subset in a little less than 100 cards. It's back to player cards tomorrow. We return with a card featured once before.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

#211 - 1973 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: Topps features its 1973 card design. When the '73 set was released, I'm guessing the most notable aspect of the cards was the position logo, with the silhouette figure that changed according to the position. Now, I think the most notable aspect of the set are all the bizarrely interesting action shots.

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

What I think about this card now: That is really an unfortunate photo of Reggie Jackson. You can barely tell it's him. Also, seeing Pete Rose listed as an outfielder is strange to me.

Other stuff: You can't pick two bigger representatives of 1970s baseball than Reggie Jackson and Pete Rose.

Back facts: What is the "American League Player of the Year"? Isn't that the AL MVP award? I don't understand.

Other blog stuff: Stevie Nicks -- who was everywhere in the mid 1970s -- was born on this date and is 62! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

#210 - 1972 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: This card shows Topps' 1972 design. The "psychedelic tombstone" set is about the only card set that can compete with the '75s in terms of colorfulness. It was also the first set that did not feature the player's position on the front of the card since the 1952 set. Those sets have always been a little frustrating for me.

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

What I think about this card now: Some real shadiness by Topps with the Rich Allen card (I never heard him called "Rich." It was either "Richie" or "Dick.") Allen was traded by the Dodgers to the White Sox in December of 1971, not enough time for Topps to get a photo of Allen in a White Sox uniform. So, Topps used the SAME photo of Allen that it used in the 1970 set, when Allen was traded from the Phillies to the Cardinals in October of 1969 and Topps didn't have time to get Allen in a Cardinals uniform.

So what collectors ended up with in the 1972 set is Allen in a Phillies uniform from, at the most recent, a game in 1969. Apparently, since the Phillies, Cardinals and White Sox all wore red at the time, Topps thought they could fool all the kiddies. Unfortunately for them, kiddies grow into cynical collectors.

Other stuff: If I was a Dodger fan in 1972, I probably wouldn't be pleased that the Dodgers traded away someone who would win the MVP the very next year. But at least they got a pitcher who was a valuable part of their rotation for a few years in Tommy John.

Back facts: Note that Allen is "Rich" on the front and "Dick" on the back.

Also, I should at least mention Johnny Bench once before the end of this post. This was Bench's second MVP in three seasons and Topps goes and mentions his team's loss to the A's in the '72 World Series.

Other blog stuff: "Star Wars" was released on this date in 1977. Unlike thousands, possibly millions, of other people, I have seen this movie only once. But I did see it in 1977.

Monday, May 24, 2010

#209 - 1971 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: The '71 MVP card offers examples of the '71 Topps design, one of the best card designs ever created. It is one of my favorite sets, and I have admired it ever since I was a kid and I found a 1971 card of Manny Mota lying in a street gutter.

What I thought about this card then: This is one of the cards I pulled from the first packs I ever bought back in '75. Both card pictures left an immediate impression and stayed with me until this day. Obtaining either of these cards, for me, is akin to hanging one of the most famous paintings in the world in my living room. When I gained the Joe Torre card, I couldn't believe it was actually in my collection. I felt like I was practically stealing it when I made the trade for the card. I held it in such esteem.

I am still waiting to acquire the Vida Blue card. That will be a great day, too.

What I think about this card now: I still can't get over the greatness of each card. Blue still looks like he's giving the peace sign, just as I thought he was as a kid.

Other stuff: Vida Blue had pitched in all of 18 games before he had his MVP season. One of those games was a no-hitter against the Twins. Blue was my kind of pitcher. He threw hard and he was left-handed.

Back facts: Great stats all around. I had them memorized as a kid.

Other blog stuff: Here is the original '71 MVP card that I pulled when I was 9:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

#208 - 1970 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: In a drastic departure from many previous sets, Topps went with all-gray borders in 1970. It looks pretty dull today, but at the time I'm sure it was quite different.

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

What I think about this card now: Two classic shots featured here. I like Boog Powell posing in Yankee Stadium with the players in the background. And the Johnny Bench shot is burned in my memory even though it arrived before I started collecting cards.

Other stuff: I have a hard time remembering Powell was an MVP. I don't know why that is, but if I took one of those sporacle quizzes about MVPs, I'm sure I'd miss the 1970 AL MVP.

Back facts: Some very nifty stats for Bench. Notice that a lot of the statistics refer to the postseason, which does not figure in MVP voting.

Also, this is the 10th time that the MVPs were representatives from both World Series teams. It also happened in 1968, 1967, 1963, 1961, 1960, 1957, 1956, 1955 and 1951. To illustrate how much things have changed, the last time that both MVPs came from World Series teams was 1988 when Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers and Jose Canseco of the A's won. In fact, the last time even one of the MVPs was from a World Series team was back in 2002 with the Giants and Barry Bonds.

Other blog stuff: The green-purple (Incredible Hulk) color combo retakes the lead from the pink-yellow (marshmallow peeps) combo with its 19th card in the set.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

#207 - 1969 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: Here is the Topps 1969 design, which is kind of a combination of the 1967 and 1968 Topps designs. I think it works pretty well, and would be one of the best sets of the '60s if not for all the blacked out caps in the set.

What I thought about this card then: Not in the collection.

What I think about this card now: It's interesting that after two absolutely dominating pitching displays the previous year, that two sluggers were named MVP in 1969. That lowering of the mound must have helped. Oh, and probably expansion, too.

Other stuff: This is the first card that features players who each have player cards in the 1975 set.

Back facts: Both "The Killer" and "Stretch" had some great stats. Killebrew's 145 walks was the best total for years until Barry Bonds showed up. ... I didn't know All-Star putouts was something to consider when voting for the Most Valuable Player.

Other blog stuff: The pink-yellow combo has just tied green-purple for the most cards with 18.

Friday, May 21, 2010

#206 - 1968 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: Topps features the 1968 set design, or the "burlap set" on this card. This is one of my least favorite card designs. But you've got to give the designers credit. It WAS different, if completely out of the blue.

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

What I think of this card now: Are those houses in the distance on the McLain card?

Other stuff: Nothing says "Year of the Pitcher" like both MVPs being pitchers. The only other time that has happened was in 1924 when Walter Johnson and Dazzy Vance won the leagues' top honors.

Back facts: I'll get the ugliness out of the way first. McLain's name is misspelled as "McClain."

Other than that, there are eye-popping stats all over the place. 31 wins, 1.12 ERA, 28 complete games, 305 innings, 17 Ks in a World Series game. Crazy stuff.

Other blog stuff: With this card, the "green-purple" combo breaks a five-way tie at the top with its 18th card in the set. It won't last long. The top color combo will change through to the end of the MVP subset.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

#205 - 1967 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: Topps' 1967 set design is another one of those simple designs from the '60s. However, unlike some of the others, I like this design a lot. It does a great job of putting the focus on the photo, and I like the large team names at the bottom that seem to anchor the card. It has some things in common with the 1988 set, which I also like.

What I thought about this card then: This was one of my early pulls in 1975. I'm not sure if it was in those very first three packs that I bought. To this day, when I think of Carl Yastrzemski or Orlando Cepeda on a baseball card, the 1967 cards are what spring to mind.

What I think about this card now: I can't figure out what Cepeda is doing.

Other stuff: By coincidence, I am conducting a poll on the other blog to determine the best 1970s Carl Yastrzemski card. Hop on over there if you haven't already.

Back facts: This was Yaz's Triple Crown season, and, of course, it was the last Triple Crown season that Major League Baseball has experienced. There's a good chance that it will never happen again.

Cepeda won the MVP in his first full season with St. Louis. He was traded to the Cardinals very early in the 1966 season. The Giants received Ray Sadecki in exchange. That was a rather lopsided trade, although Cepeda had been troubled by knee problems prior to the deal. I'm not sure exactly what went down. It seems like there is more to it than that.

Other blog stuff: Here is the card that a pulled out of a waxy pack when I was 9:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

#204 - 1966 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: Here is a look at Topps' 1966 set, one of the most simple-looking designs you will ever see. I wonder how long it took to come up with that?

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

What I think about this card now: It's not in the greatest shape and terribly crooked. This card is a little pricey in near-mint condition, so I've been happy to stay with this version.

Other stuff: I'm sure you notice that Frank Robinson is wearing a Reds uniform on his Orioles card. He was traded to the Orioles on Dec. 9, 1965, which wasn't enough time for Topps to get a photo of Robinson in an Orioles uniform.

Also, you can see that Topps called Clemente "Bob" on just about all of his cards. Clemente was often called "Bob" during his career.

Back facts: Nice, crooked back there. Each player had excellent seasons. Robinson certainly showed the Reds a thing or two about being "too old" by winning the Triple Crown.

Also, Topps called Clemente "Roberto" by the mid-70s, as you can see on the card back.

Other blog stuff:  Speaking of Roberto Clemente, on this date in 1971, Clemente hit the first inside the park home run in Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

#203 - 1965 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: With this card, we have a look at the 1965 Topps set, which is my favorite set of the 1960s. You have to love the pennant flags, and I always enjoyed the blue card backs.

Again, Topps assigned random color schemes with teams. Most, as you can see with these two examples, did not match the team's colors. The Yankees received pink. The Phillies blue. The Dodgers gold. I actually liked some of the non-matching patterns. I think the Red Sox cards, which have green borders, look sharp.

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

What I think about this card now: It pains me that Sandy Koufax did not receive the MVP in 1965. I know Mays hit 52 home runs, but, damn, Koufax was great in 1965. He also won a World Series.

Other stuff: Without doing any research, I'm betting that someone else had better stats than Zoilo Versalles in 1965. I know that opens me up for criticism, but the guy did next to nothing with the Dodgers three years later, so I'm a little bitter.

Back facts: There's a typo in the Versalles write-up. Missing "s" on the word "doubles."

Other blog stuff: Today is the birthday of Reggie Jackson and Brooks Robinson. But it's also a notable birthday for my little brother. Unbelievably, he is 40 today. That's crazy.

Monday, May 17, 2010

#202 - 1964 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: Topps is featuring the 1964 design on this card. For me, the '64 design is notable in one important way. It marked the first time that Topps really assigned a certain color scheme to each team.

Oh, there were previous sets in which certain teams seemed to get one color combo more than the other, but there didn't seem to be any set pattern until the 1964 set. This was the point when collectors could start whining: "why did they pick GREEN for the Cardinals? There's no green in the Cardinals uniforms!" And as we well know, this became a common complaint in years to come.

Also, I'm wondering if this set featured the team name more prominently than any other Topps set. I'm thinking the 1986 set might be king in that area.

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

What I think about this card now: Not a lot really. The '64 set is a little too basic for my tastes. It's all right.

Other stuff: This was not the only time that two third basemen were voted MVP. It also happened in 1980 with George Brett and Mike Schmidt.

Back facts: Boyer did have the numbers to win the MVP award, but he is another guy who makes me think how much a team's trip to the World Series was tied to whether a player won the MVP before the days of multiple playoff rounds. Nowadays, you have no idea which team will get to the World Series by the time MVP votes have to be made. But back then, voters knew who the two World Series teams would be when they cast their votes.

Other blog stuff: Thirty-one years ago today, the Phillies and Cubs played a 23-22 game at Wrigley Field. The Cubs' Dave Kingman hits three home runs and Bill Buckner has a grand slam and seven RBIs, but the Phillies win after Mike Schmidt hits the second of his two home runs in the 10th inning. I vividly remember reading about this game in Sports Illustrated.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

#201 - 1963 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: Topps features the '63 design on this card, which trots out the familiar two-photo technique that was also used in 1954, 1955 and 1960. I prefer the 1983 design, which is a take-off of the 1963 set, but looks a bit cleaner and complete to me.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. It was one of the last MVP subset cards that I needed to finish the set.

What I think about this card now: I really, really need to get this card for the Dodger binder. Oh, and I really, really, REALLY need to get the 1963 Koufax card for the ol' binder. Better start saving my money.

Other stuff: It took me a long time to figure out who Elston Howard was. Even to this day I'm a little hazy on early 1960's Yankees. Tom Tresh, Johnny Blanchard, Clete Boyer. I don't know a lot about them. Now, Koufax, I know. One of the first full-length books I ever read was a biography of Koufax. I remember absorbing every word during free reading period in fourth grade. Since then, I've read several books either about Koufax or about the Dodgers during his time with them.

Back facts: What a killer season for Koufax. A 1.88 ERA and 306 Ks AND 11 shutouts? A no-hitter against the Giants? A dominant World Series against the Yankees? Oh if only I was alive in 1963.

Other blog stuff: Happy birthday to former Dodger pitcher Rick Rhoden, who is 57 today. I'm guessing he'll celebrate on the golf course.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

#200 - 1962 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: The famed 1962 Topps "wood-panel set" is featured on this card. The '62 Maury Wills "card" actually does not exist. Wills was not signed by Topps, so no card of him appeared on a Topps set until the late 1960s. Topps had to create this card of Wills, much as it did for Campanella with the 1951 and 1955 MVP cards.

Topps used the Wills "card" again in the 1987 set during its "Turn Back the Clock" subset, and the Kmart set of 1982 also used the Wills card, because it consisted of past MVPs, much like this subset.

So, for years, I went around thinking that the 1962 Willis card existed. It took a long time, probably into the early 1990s, for me to realize it didn't. I was almost crest-fallen.

What I thought about this card then: I know this was one of the cards I pulled out of the first packs that I ever bought. But I don't have that particular card scanned. Not sure why. It might be in my Dodger binder, which I can't get to right now.

What I think about this card now: It's a nice-looking card. The '62 set really does look nice. I went from being a fan to not being a fan to enjoying it again. I think the '87 set might've had something to do with me souring on it for awhile.

Other stuff: Mantle's award was the third of four straight Yankee MVP awards between 1960-63. Also, this Mantle card is featured in the 2010 "Cards Your Mom Threw Out" insert set.

Back facts: I actually learned of Wills' single-season stolen base record from the 1977 Topps Turn Back the Clock subset. Cards were my first history teacher.

Other blog stuff: After completing another 100 cards, it's time again to take inventory of the set so far. Here we go:


After 100 cards, the orange-brown combo led with 11 cards. Thanks to the MVP subset and a surge in green-light green cards, things are a little more up-for-grabs now:

Green-light green: 17
Green-purple: 17
Orange-brown: 17
Pink-yellow: 15
Purple-pink: 14
Yellow-red: 13
Red-yellow: 11
Orange-yellow: 10
Brown-orange: 9
Green-yellow: 9
Yellow-light blue: 9
Brown-tan: 8
Light blue-green: 8
Red-blue: 8
Tan-light blue: 8
Yellow-green: 8
Blue-orange: 7
Red-orange: 7


Up to 24 now.


Four more players looking to the sky. That brings the total to 9.


Six total players that we thought looked like women.


There are 17 people in the set so far who have died. That doesn't include the MVP subset or managers.


Still, only Joe Coleman featuring the chaw. I'm hoping this changes in the next 100.


Eight players in the set thus far have had children also play in the majors.




Dave/David still leads with 13 players


Out of the 200 cards so far, I have 24 of them in mini form, for 12 percent of the cards. That'll pick up later.

OK, onward. Next up, one of my most favorite players of all-time.

Friday, May 14, 2010

#199 - 1961 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: This card features the 1961 Topps set, easily the most subdued set since the 1952 issue or perhaps ever. Personally, I find it quite boring. Some say it goes with the minimalist thing going on during the 1960s. Whatever. Dull is dull.

What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card. Not too much went through my mind about it.

What I think about this card now: We've gotten to know the 1961 Roger Maris card well this year with Topps' "Cards Your Mom Through Out" insert set. It's probably as close as I'll get to a real '61 Maris.

Other stuff: Back-to-back MVP awards for Maris and the first of two MVP awards for Frank Robinson. I know too little about Robinson's Reds years, other than the reason that he was traded to the Orioles. In fact, after first equating Robinson with the Orioles, I next think of him as an Indian. That's just wrong.

Back facts: Crazy stats for both of them. I find the mention of slugging percentage in 1975 interesting. I don't recall it as a stat that was used a lot back then.

Other blog stuff: Here is the standard-sized card and the mini-card side-by-side, just so I can show you this in a horizontal format:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

#198 - 1960 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: This card displays the last horizontal flagship set that Topps has ever produced. The 1960 set was another colorful one and also featured the large mug shot with the smaller black-and-white action shot, much like the 1955 set. In fact, the 1960 set looks a lot more like a '50s set than it does a '60s set.

What I thought about this card then: Now, I KNOW this was one of the first cards that I ever pulled from a pack that I had purchased. You'll see it in a minute. No real thoughts back then other than Maris' crew-cut seemed rather different to me. He looked like a tough guy.

What I think about this card now: I'm so familiar with the beat-up version of this card that I pulled in 1975 that the newer version still looks odd.

Other stuff: I'm sure not a lot of people outside of Pittsburgh remember or even have heard of Dick Groat. He played for some terrible Pirates teams as Pittsburgh's regular shortstop in the 1950s. But he was fortunate enough to be around when Pittsburgh returned to the World Series in 1960. He also finished second in the MVP voting in 1963. Somebody named Sandy Koufax beat him out that year.

Back facts: I looked up Norm Larker's stats for 1960 and I think he could make a case for getting screwed out of the MVP award. Groat basically benefitted from having more at-bats, which led to more hits and runs. But Larker had more RBIs, and better slugging and on-base averages. Of course, I'm a Dodger fan, so I'm a bit biased.

OK, now you're asking why I haven't said much about Maris. Yankees get talked about so much. Time to give it a rest.

Other blog stuff: Here is the card that I pulled when I was 9 years old:

Yikes. That thing is disintegrating from the outside in.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

#197 - 1959 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: This card featured the 1959 Topps design, probably my second favorite design from the 1950s. I'm sure the set looks great in a binder. Very colorful.

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

What I think about this card now: That's quite the pensive pose for Nellie Fox.

Other stuff: It was a great year for Chicago as both of its teams produced major league baseball's MVPs. It was the second straight MVP award for Ernie Banks.

Back facts: Good stats for Nellie Fox, but I'm wondering if the White Sox's first World Series appearance since the 1919 Black Socks had anything to do with Fox's selection.

Other blog stuff: Kim Fields, a.k.a. "Tootie" on The Facts of Life, was born on this date and is a shocking 41 years old.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

#196 - 1958 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: This card depicts the 1958 Topps set, which marked a return to some of Topps' earlier sets in a couple of ways. The one-color backgrounds were back and the team logos were back. The '58 set reminds me a lot of the '55 set, except there is no second photo and it's not horizontal and the size of the cards are smaller.

But besides that ...

What I thought about this card then: This is one of the cards that I pulled very early in my first year of collecting. Again, I couldn't tell you whether it was one of the cards in the first three packs that I ever bought. It could have been.

What I think about this card now: Why is it that the players from 1958 look OK on the '58 card design, but when Topps Heritage placed current players on the '58 design for its 2007 set, a lot of the players looked hideous? Are players more disturbing-looking today?

Other stuff: Jackie Jensen was out of baseball three years after collecting his MVP award. He began to tire of the transient life of a major league ballplayer and wanted to spend more time with is family. He also had a fear of flying. He tried to return to the majors for one year in 1961, but the results weren't to his satisfaction and he quit for good.

Back facts: Nice of Topps to work Gene Baker into Ernie Banks' MVP write-up. That makes two times that Gene Baker has been mentioned in the 1975 set. Someone at Topps must've been a Baker fan.

Other blog stuff: Here is the card that I pulled in 1975. Not a sharp corner to be found:

Monday, May 10, 2010

#195 - 1957 Most Valuable Players

Card fact: This card is routinely priced higher than any other card in the MVP subset. You've got a Mantle. You've got an Aaron. People are going to want it.

What I thought about this card then: Wasn't aware of it.

What I think about this card now: The 1975 cards, I've noticed, sometimes feature some sort of printing flaw, in which there are dot-like splotches on the card. You can see them in white on the black bar on the top right part of the card, as well as in blue in the center of the card on the purple background.

I can deal with creases, worn corners, tears and pen marks. But for some reason printing flaws bother me. I have had virtually all of the cards that featured those dots replaced. But I have not replaced this one, mostly because it's a semi-costly card.

Other stuff: The card features the 1957 Topps set, which was the first Topps set to appear in the now-familiar 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 dimensions. Many collectors like the clean design of the 1957s. I always thought they were rather boring. Some of that is because the photography wasn't up to today's standards and a lot of the card photos came out dark and washed out. However, there are some very nice cards in the set, too, with some terrific background scenery of the era. I'm sure at the time it was very interesting -- after all of those painted sets -- to see an all photographed set.

Back facts: Again, you can't argue with these two MVPs. Mantle had his second straight tremendous season. His 146-walk total ranks only 19th all-time, which surprised me a little bit. But then I looked at the all-time leaders and found out why I was surprised. Between 1956 and 1996 only one player had more walks in a season than Mantle, and that was Jimmy Wynn in 1969. But then Bonds and McGwire came along and completely shattered the walk records for almost the next decade.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1975, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" was released. It's just a flesh wound.