Monday, May 3, 2010

#188 - Tom Griffin

Card fact: This is the last player card featured on this blog for the next three weeks. We are about to begin the second subset of the 1975 set!

What I thought about this card then: I do recall having this card and trading it away in that deal for some '75 minis. I didn't think much about the card front, but I did have thoughts on the back. More on that in a bit.

What I think about this card now: This card basically symbolizes my card-collecting philosophy. I referred to it in my first blog bat-around post.

Also, if I didn't know any better, I'd say that guy in the background is on his cell phone.

Other stuff: Tom Griffin delivered an eye-popping rookie season in 1969, striking out exactly 200 batters in 31 games started and leading the league in strikeouts per game (9.6). He didn't come close to matching those figures the rest of his career, but did manage to pitch 14 years for the Astros, Padres, Angels, Giants and Pirates.

My guess (in my very brief bit of research I didn't turn up much) is he suffered some sort of injury in 1971 as he pitched in only 10 games and was 0-6. The next two years he worked as a reliever before returning to a starter role in 1974. The end of his career was dominated by relief roles.

Griffin had a strong year at the plate in 1974, hitting .294 in 68 at-bats with two homers and eight RBIs.

Back facts: There you can see the 200 strikeouts in Griffin's first season. That number leapt off the cardboard at me when I was a 9-year-old. As I said before, I wondered what happened to him after that. I still wonder. It's card backs like this that keep me interested in set collecting. Each player, not just the stars, has a story to tell on a piece of cardboard. That's one of the big reasons I still define myself as a set collector.

Other blog stuff: Tomorrow, I will begin featuring the MVPs subset from the '75 set. I don't plan to do anything different with these cards in terms of the subjects I cover. But if anyone has anything they'd like to see with these MVP cards, I'd be more than happy to take suggestions.


Play at the Plate said...

If that guy in the background is anything like my dad (and there is absolutely no reason to think he is) then he is cleaning his ear out with his keys. Gross and dangerous at the same time.

I wonder how many pinch hit at-bats Johnson had in 1974. I couldn't find it.

Anonymous said...

Griffin probably did hurt his arm after 1969 (check out the strike out rate), but he was sent down in 1970 and 1971 for ineptitude.

But he never was sent down again, though he was released by the Astros (then snapped up right away). It goes to show how one flash of brilliance can keep giving someone chance after chance.

Now, Griffin would have probably been on pitch counts in 1969, or put on the DL to see how much of his labrum existed after that season.

night owl said...

We've got a guy at work that does the ear-key thing!!! I thought he was the only one!!

MCT said...

Back in the '70s and '80s, before the internet and, there used to be a reference book called The Baseball Encyclopedia. Most of the information it provided, baseball-reference can do easier, faster and better. But one thing The Baseball Encyclopedia had that baseball-reference doesn't is pinch hitting stats. For each player, it showed how many AB and H the player had each season as a pinch hitter. I don't know where the editors got this information, or why reference sources of today no longer include this type of data. I sometimes get the sense that pinch hitting was historically considered to be more important than it is today.

Anyway, according to the 1982 edition of The Baseball Encyclopedia, Johnson went 13-for-38 as a pinch hitter in 1974.

Eggrocket said...

Re: MCT's comment...
When I was a kid (probably about 1975) I was under the impression that pinch hitters were the best hitters in baseball. They had the guys that they used every day in the field, but when a team was really in sore straights they would draw from their secret store ... the monster they kept caged in the back of the dugout ... their Pinch Hitter.

Some of that might come from the fact that some of the greats in baseball were in their twilight in the early to mid 70s ... Aaron, Mays, Robinson, Kilebrew ... and weren't playing every day, but would still be called on to pinch hit.