Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#298 - Johnny Grubb

Card fact: I really want to look and see if this is the first player in the set to have repetitive consonants in both his first and last names, but I have to be up at an ungodly hour in the morning. So, someone, please do it for me.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. First card of his that I knew was his 1976 Topps card.

What I think about this card now: Behind Johnny Grubb, there appears to be a festive baseball crowd gathering in preparation for another Padres loss.

Other stuff: Grubb was an outfielder/first baseman/DH for the Padres, Indians, Rangers and Tigers. He started out quickly, finishing sixth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1973. He then received the most playing time of his career the next two years, setting a San Diego franchise mark for doubles in a season (granted the Padres were only five years old at the time).

Grubb later settled into a supporting role for the Rangers and Tigers. He was on the Tigers' World Series-winning team in 1984. He played until 1987. After his pro career, he coached high school ball in his hometown in Virginia.

His wikipedia page has a weird uncited stat. It says that Grubb is the all-time leader among American League hitters when used as a pinch-hitter batting for the No. 9 hitter in the lineup. What?

Back facts: The team isn't going very well when 42 RBIs and 127 hits makes you the best hitter on the club.

Other blog stuff: Hideo Nomo was born on this date in 1968. It's also the birthdate of Debbie Gibson. I only mention this because it means she's 40. Debbie Gibson is 40. Ho-ly crap.

Monday, August 30, 2010

#297 - Craig Kusick

Card fact: This is the first Topps card of Craig Kusick.

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

What I think about this card now: If there was any yellow in the photo, this would be the card with the best-matched color border and photo.

Other stuff: Kusick was a first baseman and designated hitter who played nearly all of his seven-year major league career with the Twins. He was pegged as the replacement at first base for Harmon Killebrew, but became a DH after Rod Carew moved to first. He played part of the final year of his career, in 1979, for the Blue Jays.

The 35th anniversary of Kusick's major league record-tying feat of being hit three times in one game just passed on Friday. He was hit by a pitch three times in an 11-inning game against the Brewers on Aug. 27, 1975.

Kusick died from leukemia three days before his 58th birthday in 2006. His wife died of cancer nine months prior.

Back facts: You've got love seeing animals in cartoons.

Sherry Robertson was the longtime farm system director for the Senators and Twins organizations.

Other blog stuff: My father's favorite player, Ted Williams, was born on this date in 1918.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

#296 - Alan Foster

Card fact: This is one of three cards in the set featuring a player with the last name of Foster. The others are George Foster and Leo Foster.

What I thought about this card then: If you collected cards as a kid, then there was probably a point in which you developed an irrational attachment to a card of a certain player. This player was not on your favorite team, wasn't a star, and there was nothing exceptional about the photograph. Yet, for some reason, you thought he was the greatest player on the greatest card.

This is that card for me. I really, really wanted Alan Foster to become a great pitcher. I remember looking at the back of this card, seeing that he began his career with the Dodgers, and being sad that the Dodger got rid of such a terrific player.

Looking at this card now, and knowing what I know about Foster's career, I have no idea why I behaved the way I did.

What I think about this card now: The stadium background looks cool. Otherwise I just stare at it and try to figure out what I saw in this card when I was 9.

Other stuff: Foster was drafted in the second round by the Dodgers in 1965. He played in the majors for a few years for L.A., but was traded to Cleveland for backup catcher Duke Sims. Later, he was traded along with the player I just featured -- Vada Pinson -- to the Angels. The Cardinals purchased him two years later, and he had his best season in the majors for St. Louis in 1973, going 13-9 with a 3.14 ERA. But he was traded again to San Diego, where he stayed until ending his career in 1977. He had a career 48-63 won-loss mark.

Back facts: Odell Hale was the starting second baseman for the Indians in the 1930s. I don't know why he was "bad news."

Also note the Topps alert that Foster was traded to the Padres too late for it to get a photo of Foster as a Padre. "We're really, really trying," Topps is saying.

Other blog stuff: Here is the original card that I thought of so fondly:

I still don't understand what the fuss was about.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

#295 - Vada Pinson

Card fact: This is Vada Pinson's first card appearance in a Royals uniform. But he bounced around a lot at the end of his career.

What I thought about this card then: I didn't see it. But I associate his 1976 Topps card with my friend Jeff from Kansas, the Royals fan.

What I think about this card now: It looks like Pinson got trapped in the lion exhibit at the zoo.

Other stuff: Pinson was one of the top offensive players of the 1960s with the Cincinnati Reds, enjoying most of his success in the early part of the decade, ranking among the league leaders in several categories. He could hit home runs and he could steal bases.

After 11 years with the Reds, he was traded to the Cardinals. He then skipped around to the Indians, Angels and Royals. After his career ended in 1976, he became a coach for several teams (he's even featured on a coach card in the 1982 Donruss set).

Pinson has received a lot of backing for induction into the Hall of Fame, but he hasn't come too close to election. He's still eligible for election by the Veterans Committee (I wouldn't hold my breath).

Pinson died of a stroke in 1995. He was 57 or 59. There's some dispute about his birth year.

Back facts: Paul Richards was a major league catcher for several teams (as well as manager, executive, and pretty much everything). The throwing with both hands refers to his minor league days when he once pitched with both hands. I don't think he ever threw with both hands as a catcher. That'd be a little pointless.

Other blog stuff: "Orange-brown," the "candy corn design," has just taken the overall lead in the color combo race with its 25th card. It can bask in its glory for another 10 cards or so, then the lead will change again.

Friday, August 27, 2010

#294 - Geoff Zahn

Card fact: This is Geoff Zahn's rookie card.

What I thought about this card then: This was the second Dodger card that I acquired in 1975, after Steve Yeager. For a long time, it was just those two Dodgers cards in my collection (it was probably just a matter of weeks, but everything seems longer when you're 9).

So, it was a cherished card, and I can't believe I forgot to scan the original version of it.

But after I saw his 1976 card, a new thought began to develop: I thought he looked like a circus clown. Something about the hair and the look on his face, it was all I could see when I looked at his cards from those two years.

What I think about this card now: It's very unusual seeing Dodger Stadium with no people in the stands. Also, these particular border colors go very well with the Dodgers uniforms.

Other stuff: Zahn didn't last long with the Dodgers. After toiling in the minor leagues for six years, he pitched 29 games for L.A., even taking Tommy John's spot in the rotation after he suffered a season-ending arm injury in 1974. But early in 1975, he was traded to the Cubs in the Burt Hooton deal.

Zahn didn't last long with the Cubs either, getting released. He signed with the Twins and became a steady starting pitcher for four seasons. He then signed as a free agent with the Angels and helped the team to the American League Championship Series with an 18-8 record in 1982 at age 36. He pitched in the majors until 1985. He is now a motiviational and Christian speaker with his own website.

Back facts: When I was 9, a lot of the cartoons were so confusing. What was a Capital? Why was it being punished? Why was a baseball flying over that weird building?

But I loved Zahn's career 1.94 ERA so much that it didn't matter anymore.

Other blog stuff: Jim Thome is the big 4-0 today.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

#293 - Dick Sharon

Card fact: This is the final card of Dick Sharon issued during his playing career. He had only two Topps cards.

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

What I think about this card now: I love the shadow behind Sharon. Is that a shadow of the photographer crouching, preparing to take a photo of Sharon? I hope so. That would be classic.

Other stuff: Sharon had a brief career in the major leagues, lasting three seasons. He played for the Tigers in 1973 and 1974 and the Padres in 1975. He was a solid fielder, which made up for his career .218 batting average.

Sharon did have the honor of being traded for Nate Colbert, Willie Davis and Dick Drago. Of course, those were three separate trades, and the Davis deal was the only straight-up deal. Davis went to San Diego at the tail-end of his career and Sharon went to St. Louis (he never played for the Cardinals).

Back facts: I really need to start keeping track of how many cartoons in this set mention the Dodgers. It has to be around 20 now.

Also, the write-up must be addressed:

1. "Flyhawk"? Did they go back to the 1940s for that term? Only with the help of the rest of the sentence can I surmise that "flyhawk" means that Sharon was a good fielder.

2. And what a condescending sentence it is. I suppose it's better than, "his hitting sucks, but he can catch the ball."

3. Looking at the stats, Sharon actually improved his batting average in each of FIVE minor league seasons. And unlike the kindly write-up, I'm going to mention the sixth minor league season. He did not improve his batting average that year.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1975, former Houston Astros player Morgan Ensberg was born. If you haven't checked out his blog, you should. It's very interesting and insanely informative. Surely one of the best ever produced by a player.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

#292 - Ron Schueler

Card fact: This is Ron Schueler's first card in an actual Phillies uniform as he was traded from the Braves to the Phillies in December 1973. Topps featured Schueler in its TRADED set in 1974 -- capless and airbrushed into a Phillies jersey.

What I thought about this card then: I had the mini card. I thought he was a weird looking dude.

What I think of this card now: It's evident by his pitching pose that Schueler is a tall man. He's 6-foot-4, although he looks taller to me in the photo.

Other stuff: Schueler started out as a starting pitcher for the Braves and then the Phillies. But after some difficulty as a starter during the 1974 season, he was converted to a reliever (he'd still start ocassionally). He remained chiefly a reliever until the end of his career, which was in 1979.

Schueler then became a pitching coach for the White Sox, A's and Pirates before moving into the front office with the A's and then with the White Sox. He was the White Sox general manager for 10 years before being replaced by current White Sox GM Kenny Williams. Since then he's worked in scouting and assistant administrative roles with the Cubs, Cardinals and now the Nationals.

Schueler's daughter, Karey, was the first woman to be selected in the major league draft. A pitcher, she was drafted by the White Sox in the 43rd round in 1993 but never signed.

By the way, wikipedia says her name is "Carey," but there are numerous other references to "Karey." Meanwhile, Ron Schueler's wikipedia page mentions he has two kids, Jennifer and Christina. But no mention of Karey. Or Carey. Got to love wikipedia.

Back facts: Now that's a baseball expression I've heard of before.

Other blog stuff: Let's see the regular card next to the mini card. That's always fun:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

#291 - Bill Sudakis

Card fact: This is the final Topps card issued during Bill Sudakis' career.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. If I did, it would be a favorite.

What I think about this card now: It's a rather stately pose by Mr. Sudakis. I don't know if he is looking for a sign or if someone is getting on his nerves. Perhaps it's Rick Dempsey (see below).

Other stuff: Sudakis was mostly a utility player during his career, but he began his career with the Dodgers and played 132 games at third base in 1969, hitting 14 home runs and batting (*gulp*) .234. He hit a home run in his first major league game, on Sept. 3, 1968 against the Phillies.

The Dodgers attempted to put him at catcher in the early 1970s, but Sudakis had chronic knee problems and L.A. ended up waiving him. After a brief stop with the Mets and a fairly successful year as a DH with the Rangers, Sudakis played for the Yankees, where he's known for getting into a brawl with fellow catcher Rick Dempsey at the end of the 1974 season in a hotel in Milwaukee. He later played briefly with the Angels and Indians, ending his career in 1976.

Sudakis made news in the '80s for being charged with attempting to sell cocaine to an undercover officer. But he apparently overcame that bit of nastiness and was a coach in California in the 1990s.

(EDIT: Sudakis died on Sept. 15, 2021 at age 75).

Back facts: I'm not sure if the timing of the trivia question is quite accurate. The late 1960s Dodgers squad was indeed known as "The Mod Squad," named after the popular TV show at the time. But "The Mod Squad" did not debut until the end of September 1968. Since the season was wrapping up at that time (and the Dodgers didn't play in the postseason in '68), it's unlikely they were called The Mod Squad in 1968. Nice pants, though.

Also, note the "traded to California Angels 12/3/74" in the write-up. Nice of Topps to squeeze that in there. Sudakis was traded to the Angels for Skip Lockwood, whose card we'll see later in the set (a card that also has issues). I wonder what was written in that spot before Sudakis got traded?

Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song in the country on this date was "Fallin' in Love," by Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds. I always thought that was four people, but apparently I had an extra comma between Joe and Frank and it was only three.

Monday, August 23, 2010

#290 - Jon Matlack

Card fact: This is one of several Mets cards in the set in which the player is posed near the batting cage. It's what makes many of the 1975 Mets cards so cool. Photos like that certainly take you out to the ol' ball game.

What I thought about this card then: Duh. It was cool.

What I think about this card now: It's still cool. Except now I notice that he's wearing his warm-up jacket under his uniform.

Other stuff: Jon Matlack was one of the Big 3 for the Mets in the early 1970s, along with Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, that gave New York one of the best rotations in the game. He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1972, then proceeded to put up several good years for the Mets, finishing third in the N.L. in strikeouts in 1973 and in ERA in 1974. He was the co-MVP of the 1975 All-Star Game, along with Bill Madlock.

After a disappointing 1977, Matlack was traded to the Rangers in a massive four-team offseason deal. Matlack went on to finish second in the A.L. ERA race in 1978. His effectiveness began to decline after that and he ended his career in 1983. Later he coached in the majors and minors and is now the minor league pitching coordinator for the Tigers.

Back facts: I have never heard the "pull a rock" expression in all my years of watching baseball.

Also, Matlack's middle name is one of the all-time greats in the '75 set.

Other blog stuff: With this card, the "orange-brown" combination ties "green-light green," "purple-pink" and "pink-yellow" in a four-way tie for first place as the color combination used most often. All four have been featured 24 times.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

#289 - Ken Rudolph

Card fact: This is Ken Rudolph's first card in anything other than a Cubs uniform. You can argue that he's not really in a Cardinals uniform, but you wouldn't get anywhere. Like arguing with the umpire after he calls you out, you're out if the ump says you're out. And you're a Cardinal if Topps says you're a Cardinal.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. Didn't know Ken Rudolph existed until just a few years ago.

What I think about this card now: Painting the interlocking St. Louis logo on an airbrushed cap must've been a bitch.

Other stuff: Rudolph was a career back-up catcher, mostly for the Cubs, but he also played for the Giants, Cardinals and Orioles over nine seasons. He spent the 1974 season with the Giants. He was then traded to the Cardinals with relief pitcher Elias Sosa (also airbrushed into a Cardinals cap in the '75 set) for catcher Marc Hill. The October deal didn't leave Topps enough time to get Rudolph in a Cardinals uniform, so you have the mess you see before you.

Rudolph is now a high school baseball coach in Phoenix, Ariz. You can see a brief video interview with him from 2009.

Back facts: The cartoon helps explain why Bill Nicholson was nicknamed "Swish." Nicholson was a slugger for the Cubs in the 1940s and nearly won MVP honors in back-to-back years. His nickname came because of his mighty swing, but also because he struck out a fair amount. But his totals are nothing compared with the strikeout totals that today's players produce.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 2007, the Rangers set an American League record for runs in a game by thumping the Orioles 30-3. The same two teams are playing each other today. (Yes, that was my attempt to wake up the Rangers).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

#288 - Bruce Ellingsen

Card fact: This the first and last card of Bruce Ellingsen during his major league baseball career.

What I thought about this card then: Ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at the one card that neither me, nor my brother, nor my friends wanted. We would play games that would resemble Russian Roulette in almost every way except that instead of a firearm, we used a 1975 Topps Bruce Ellingsen card. If you were the person who ended up with the Ellingsen card, "bang," you were dead. Or you were at least doomed to a fate of owning this card and everyone in your childhood sphere KNOWING that you owned that card.

So you would play another game of Ellingsen Roulette until you didn't have it anymore (I have no idea why the other people who did not own the Ellingsen card would agree to another game, but they did).

There were several cards in the 1975 set that we did this for:

Gene Locklear
Joe Lis
Ken Sanders
Mario Mendoza

And a couple others I can't recall. But Ellingsen, far and away, was the least wanted.

What I think about this card now: I have already publicly apologized to Bruce for my childish behavior.

Other stuff: Ellingsen pitched in 16 games for the Indians and that was his entire big league career. He is known mostly for being traded from the Dodgers to the Indians for a 17-year-old named Pedro Guerrero. The trade happened on April 3, 1974, which probably explains why Ellingsen is hatless in this photo. In fact, he may be wearing a Dodger uniform here and his uniform collar was airbrushed in Indians colors. Oh, if I had only known as a kid that Ellingsen was a Dodger!

Back facts: Larry Lintz will appear on card No. 416 in the set. As far as I know, he doesn't look like Sammy Davis Jr., so either he did a mean impersonation or he had a sweet tooth.

Ellingsen's real first name was Harold, not "H."

Other blog stuff: Kenny Rogers -- the singer, not the pitcher -- was born on this date in 1938. I have never forgiven him for singing that "Lady" song.

Friday, August 20, 2010

#287 - Roric Harrison

Card fact: The only guy in the history of baseball cards to have the first name "Roric" ... unless there's someone in some minor league set with that name -- in which case I know there will be someone somewhere who will point it out to me.

What I thought about this card then: I acquired this card in a large trade with my friend. I thought Harrison was extraordinarily tall. He's 6-foot-3, which is sort of tall, but especially tall to a 9-year-old.

What I think about this card now: I wish I could tell if that was Hank Aaron in the dugout. Whoever it is, they appear to be trying to prevent themselves from sliding backward down the bench.

Also, Harrison is clean-shaven here, but in his 1974 and 1976 cards he's wearing a mustache. Couldn't decide, I guess.

Other stuff: Harrison pitched mostly in the minors, but had five seasons in the major leagues as both a starter and reliever, mostly for the Orioles, Braves and Indians. While with Baltimore, he was the last American League pitcher to hit a home run before the advent of the designated hitter.

Harrison was involved in five trades during his career, which must have driven Topps a little crazy. In his final Topps card, Harrison is airbrushed into a Tigers uniform for the 1978 set. The Tigers signed him in April of 1977. But they then released Harrison in March of 1978. By the time some collectors got their card of Harrison, he had been released by the Tigers, signed and released by the Pirates, and signed by the Twins.

(EDIT: Harrison died at age 76 on Sept. 18, 2023).

Back facts: Topps isn't going to let you know Cartwright's first name is it?

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1978, Don Sutton and Steve Garvey got into a clubhouse fight prior to their game against the Mets. It was my first clue that maybe everyone didn't like Garvey.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

#286 - Mike Jorgensen

Card fact: This is only the second card in the set that shows a player posed in a first baseman's stretch. The other one was a long time ago.

What I thought about this card then: Me no see.

What I think about this card now: I grow more and more nostalgic for the Expos uniform by the hour.

Other stuff: Mike Jorgensen had a surprisingly long playing career for someone who reached 400 at-bats in only two seasons. He lasted 18 seasons, but his finest years were with Montreal in the mid-1970s. He came over to the Expos from the Mets in the same deal that sent Ken Singleton to the Expos for Rusty Staub.

Jorgensen later played for Oakland, Texas, the Mets again, Atlanta and St. Louis. He was the victim of a bean ball while with the Rangers and doctors later found a blood clot, caused by the beaning, that could have killed him (A serious incident, no doubt, but Jorgensen's wikipedia page is a little melodramatic).

Jorgensen later managed in the Cardinals organization, and briefly managed the Cardinals before Tony La Russa's hiring in the mid-1990s. He's worked in player evaluation for the Cardinals ever since.

Back facts: I have three of them.

1. I came the closest to featuring a card on a player's birthday with this card. Jorgensen celebrated his 62nd birthday on Monday.

2. I've heard of a tuxedo called a monkey suit, but never a baseball uniform.

3. As the write-up says, Jorgensen's home run did indeed clinch the N.L. East title for the Pirates. The Pirates and the Cardinals each began Oct. 1, 1974 with identical 86-74 records. The Pirates played the Cubs that day and won 6-5. The Cardinals played the Expos and led 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning with Bob Gibson on the mound. With two outs, Willie Davis singled and stole second. Jorgensen then delivered a two-run homer off Gibson to give the Expos the 3-2 lead, the eventual margin of victory. That put the Pirates ahead of the Cardinals by a game, and clinched the division. (The Pirates played another game on Oct. 2 -- perhaps a makeup game? But the Cardinals were done for the season).

Interesting that Jorgensen eliminated the Cardinals and then ended up working for St. Louis for all those years.

Other blog stuff: Former Mets pitcher, current Mets/TBS broadcaster Ron Darling was born on this date 50 years ago.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#285 - Ellie Rodriguez

Card fact: This is the seventh card in the set of a player posed in a catcher's crouch. I would have thought there would have been more by now.

What I thought about this card then: Believe it or not, this was a "dude looks like a lady" card. As a youngster, I thought Rodriguez looked girlish. Maybe it was because his first name was "Ellie" or maybe it was because the first time I saw this card it was owned by my friend Jennifer. I don't know. It's just what I thought at the time.

What I think about this card now: The cap reminds me very much of a cap I wore as a kid. But instead of the "A" on the cap, it had an "L.A." as in the old Los Angeles Angels. A well-meaning relative bought me a "Dodgers" cap that actually was a "Los Angeles Angels" cap, patterned after the Angels' caps of the 1960s. I didn't know any better at the time and wore it.

Other stuff: Ellie Rodriguez was coming off possibly his best year in the majors as he played in a career high 140 games and had a career high 395 at-bats in 1974. He came over to the Angels from the Brewers in an eight-player deal. Rodriguez was the semi-regular catcher for the Brewers. Before that he played for the expansion Royals and briefly with the Yankees.

Rodriguez ended his career as a back-up with the Dodgers in 1976 (his 1977 Topps card was the first Dodger I pulled that year). He is now a consultant and scout for the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Back fact: It seems rather odd that Topps chose Rodriguez for a card number that ended in "5." Those numbers were usually reserved for semi-stars.

Also, the Red Rooster has been featured on the blog already.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1975, Ralph Kiner, Babe Herman, Earl Averill, Bucky Harris and Judy Johnson were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

#284 - Ken Griffey

Card fact: This is Ken Griffey's first solo card. He appeared on a four-photo rookie card in the 1974 Topps set.

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

What I think about this card now: Not as iconic as his son's first solo card, but, damn, are those 20-plus bats lined up in the background? That's kind of cool.

Other stuff: Long before Griffey was known as "Ken Griffey Sr." or "Ken Griffey Jr.'s dad," he was a key part of the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s. He was the Reds' regular right fielder and nearly won the National League batting title in 1976.

Griffey was also my hero for hitting a home run off of Dodger traitor Tommy John in Dodger Stadium in the 1980 All-Star Game. Griffey went 2-for-3 and won MVP honors as the National League won that game.

Later Griffey went to the Yankees and I liked him a lot less. He then went to Atlanta, returned to Cincinnati, then joined Seattle, becoming the first major leaguer to play in the same game as his son, and also the first to hit back-to-back home runs with his son in a major league game. His career seemed to last way longer than anyone expected it to, but it's a good thing for him that it did.

Griffey is now a coach in the Reds' minor league organization.

Back fact: The Ron Blomberg-knishes cartoon has appeared more than once on Topps cards. It's also on the back of Blomberg's 1973 Topps card.

"George Griffey Jr." just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

Other blog stuff: A happy 69th birthday to big Boog Powell today. We'll get to your card eventually, Boog. It's a great one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

#283 - Steve Foucault

Card fact: There aren't too many cards in the set where the border colors match the team colors as well as this one. ... Yeah, I know, that's an opinion. I don't care.

What I thought about this card then: I've mentioned before that my brother and I liked the Rangers cards as kids. I had this card in mini form and it was probably my most favorite Rangers card. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the fact that the colors match or maybe because Steve Foucault resembled a much younger version of my grandfather.

What I think about this card now: I have never known how to pronounce Foucault's name. As kids, we went around calling him "Fo-cat." I'm sure that's not right, but it has stuck in my brain all these years and that's what I call him. Not that his name comes up a lot.

Also, Foucault is clean shaven in his 1974 card -- his first card. Then, suddenly, he appears with plenty of facial hair on his 1975 card.

Other stuff: Foucault was a pure reliever in the majors. He pitched in 277 games in his six-year career and did not start a single one. He enjoyed probably his best season in 1974 with a 2.24 ERA, but was still effective for the next three or four years. He was traded to the Tigers for Willie Horton, had one good year for the Tigers, then was waived by Detroit in mid-season the following year. The Royals picked him up for a few games, and Foucault's major league career ended in 1978.

He is now a pitching coach for an independent league team in Evansville, Indiana.

Back facts: I'm hoping that ball hit the ump in the stomach.

Other blog stuff: Here is big Foucault and little Foucault:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

#282 - Jerry Morales

Card fact: One of the things that I have not mentioned about this set yet is the position designation, which is displayed on a baseball graphic. The type in the baseball is often not centered, as on this card.

What I thought about this card then: This is one of a group of cards that I received in a trade with a friend. Because of that, I still associate the card with my friend, as if the card is still his, as if he first discovered the card. Funny how the brain works.

What I think about this card now: It's kind of a cool photo. Jerry Morales posing in front of the distant grandstand, while looking off to the side. Very nice.

Other stuff: Morales began for the fledgling Padres, but was traded to the Cubs, who were undergoing a youth movement at the time. They got rid of Fergie Jenkins and also traded Glenn Beckert to the Padres for Morales.

Morales enjoyed some decent seasons for the Cubs. He hit fairly well and had a good glove. He was later traded to the Cardinals and then bounced around between St. Louis, Detroit and the New York Mets, before returning to the Cubs as a role player.

Morales has spent much of his post playing career as a coach, both in the major and minor leagues and in his native Puerto Rico.

Back facts: Union Grounds in Brooklyn was a ballpark bordered by three streets and a fence, allowing the teams that played there to charge admission. It was the home of the Brooklyn Eckfords of the National Association of Base Ball Players, among other teams.

Other blog stuff: Here is the card that I received from my friend in that trade:

It was in much better shape when I traded for it. Still, it doesn't look too bad!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

#281 - Jim Slaton

Card fact: Contrary to what this card would have you believe, Jim Slaton really does have hands. And forearms.

What I thought about this card then: It was one of my favorite cards in the whole set.

What I think about this card now: Slaton was in the midst of a typical 1970s metamorphosis. You'll know what I mean if you compare this card to this card.

Also, I used this card on the other blog to illustrate how long I have been collecting cards.

Other stuff: Slaton is the Milwaukee Brewers' all-time career victory leader with 117. He pitched for the Brewers from 1971-77. The Brewers then traded him to the Tigers for Ben Ogilvie. Slaton went on to win 17 games for the Tigers in 1978, but apparently didn't harbor any grudge against the Brewers for trading him, because after the season, he rejoined the Brewers as a free agent.

Slaton pitched five more years for Milwaukee, then was traded by the Brewers again, this time to the Angels. Slaton finished out his career with the Tigers. Since then, he has worked in the minors as a pitching coach and is currently the pitching coach for the Dodgers' Triple A team in Albuquerque. I am kind of hoping he makes the leap to the Dodgers' big club soon. He can't possibly do any worse with the pitching staff then what's going on up there now.

Back facts: Tim McCarver led the National League in triples in 1966. Since then, the only catcher to lead the league in triples was Carlton Fisk, who tied with Joe Rudi for the American League lead in triples with nine in 1972.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1968, the Montreal Expos were officially born. I miss going to Olympic Stadium.

Friday, August 13, 2010

#280 - Carl Yastrzemski

Card fact: This is the first time, outside of the various series within the set, that there has been the same color combination on three consecutive cards. Yellow-light blue is making a run for the title!! (Actually, it's got a long way to go).

What I thought about this card then: Didn't see it. But the '76 Topps Carl Yastrzemski is an all-time favorite, and was voted the best Yaz card of the 1970s over on the other blog (the 1975 Yaz was selected third).

What I think about this card now: Very Yaz-like. Not a lot of variation in his cards at that time. But that is as impressive of an autograph as you will see.

Other stuff: I don't feel like repeating myself, so if you want to read what I wrote about Yastrzemski, you can do it on your own time.

Yastrzemski had a long and prosperous Hall of Fame career with the Red Sox, replacing Ted Williams in left field, winning the Triple Crown, getting 3,000 hits, and enduring lots of Red Sox pain along the way. He was humble, dignified and much respected by Boston fans and people like me, who wasn't a Red Sox rooter, but respected the team and players like him.

Back facts: I'm not sure if Reds fans appreciated the cartoon's insinuation. It almost reads like, "What fool organization got rid of Frank Robinson?"

Also, Yastrzemski's card number was 280 in back-to-back sets -- 1974 and 1975.

Finally, I came within 9 days of posting on Yaz's birthday. Drat.

Other blog stuff: I was recently told that this site was used as reference for someone to make their own custom cards as prizes. That pleases me no end. I want "1975 Topps (it's far out, man)" to be a multi-facted tool for all to enjoy. Good deal!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

#279 - Milt May

Card fact: The second of five players with the last name of "May" in this set.

What I thought about this card then: For decades I only knew this card in mini size. While looking to complete the regular set, the May card in regular form seemed monstrous. I almost didn't want to buy it because it was so big compared to my cute little mini card. But I got over it.

What I think about this card now: It's not often that you see a player wearing a helmet without an emblem. There are a couple of examples of that in the 1979 set with Reds -- including George Foster. I'm sure there are a number of others, but it's not that common.

Also, as with most of the Astros cards, May looks like he's taking swings on the back 40. What's that building in the background? Are those horse stables?

Other stuff: Milt May was a fairly good hitting catching who played for the Pirates, Astros, Tigers, White Sox and Giants. His best-hitting season was 1974 in his first year with the Astros (he was traded for Jerry Reuss) when he had 117 hits and hit .289. May was traded to the Tigers two years later for a handful of players who didn't do much for Houston. He bounced around for a couple of years before settling in with the Giants. He likely would have had his best year ever in 1981 before the season was interrupted by a strike.

May's moment in history came in 1975 when he drove in Bob Watson for the reported millionth run ever scored in major league history, landing a whole bunch of Tootsie Rolls for Watson. But as mentioned before, it was later discovered that Watson didn't score the millionth run, and somebody got gyped out of Tootsie Rolls.

May later coached for several teams, including the 1997 World Series champion Marlins.

Back facts: Thanks to this cartoon, I knew about Bob Turley long before I knew he was a Yankee and that I wasn't suppose to like him.

May's stats for the 1972 World Series were: 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Other blog stuff: Here is the mini May next to the maxi May. I still like the mini May better:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

#278 - Paul Lindblad

Card fact: Quite a come down from his previous card.

What I thought about this card then: I confess, I thought the A's were cool back then. I know they beat my team in the 1974 World Series, but I was too young to follow that Series, so I didn't know the pain that the A's caused. I just knew they won a lot, so I liked getting A's cards.

What I think about this card now: That is one intense stare by Paul Lindblad. I hope everyone is OK in the bleachers.

Other stuff: Lindblad was an often-used middle reliever who pitched mostly for the A's, but also briefly for the Senators/Rangers and the Yankees. After seven-plus years with the A's, Lindblad was traded to the Senators (who became the Rangers during Lindblad's stay) in the Mike Epstein-Darold Knowles deal. Lindblad led the American League in appearances with the Rangers in 1972.

But after the '72 season, Lindblad was returned to the A's, and he proceeded to be a key figure in Oakland's World Series title in 1973. He didn't pitch in the postseason for the A's in 1974 -- not sure why. But he came back to have one of his best seasons in 1975, going 9-1 with a 2.72 ERA in 68 games and pitching in the A's ALCS series with the Red Sox.

Lindblad returned to the Rangers in 1977, then went to the Yankees, then to Seattle. He never played for the Mariners. He died on New Year's Day in 2006 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

Back facts: Lindblad appeared in three games against the Mets in the 1973 World Series. He pitched 3 1/3
innings, allowed four hits, struck out one, walked one and didn't allow a run.

Other blog stuff: On this date in 1974, Jorge Lebron, made his professional debut at shortstop for the Phillies' Class A team. He was 14. He is the youngest person ever to play professional baseball in the U.S.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

#277 - Frank Taveras

Card fact: This is Frank Taveras' first solo card. He appears on one of those four-player rookie cards in the 1974 set. ... Also, it's been 99 cards since the last "red-yellow" border.

What I thought about this card then: I remember pulling this card on a particularly hot day in July and the sight of Taveras all bundled up in his jacket looked very unappealing.

What I think about this card now: It is all kinds of fantastic. I'll start with the jacket, which looks like a high school varsity letter jacket. Then you have the cap, which looks partly like what "the man in the yellow hat"' wore in "Curious George." Then there is Taveras' Afro, and the look on his face, as if he was caught in mid-sentence. And let's not forget his signature, which looks like it was constructed with black string.

Other stuff: Frank Taveras was one of those top-of-the-order guys who played a lot of games but really wasn't as good as a lot of people thought. Sure, he led the league in stolen bases in 1977 with 70, and he had a bunch of base hits in 1978 and 1979. But his on-base percentage was not good for a lead-off guy.

Taveras spent a long while in the minor leagues before landing the starting shortstop role with the Pirates. Then, in 1979, he was traded to the Mets for Tim Foli. Foli would go on to win a World Series title with Pittsburgh that year, while Taveras was stuck on a team going nowhere. Taveras actually played in 164 games that season.

Taveras ended his career with the Expos in 1982.

Back facts: 1. I didn't even realize that the vital stats were wiped out until I uploaded this card. I might have to upgrade.

2. That is one of my favorite cartoons in the set. When I was a kid, I thought the sun in the cartoon was a soap bubble and the player was waiting to catch it.

3. Franklin Crisostomo Taveras (Fabian) is a great name.

4. I was mesmerized by all those minor league stats as a kid. Usually that meant the player wasn't going to last long in the majors. But Taveras made it work for him.

Oldie but goodie: There's the original that I pulled on that hot day. He still looks warm.

Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song in the country on this date was "Jive Talkin'" by the Bee Gees. Yes, it was the '70s.