Friday, February 23, 2018


Today I post up a re-done card that truly, I would never dare replace since the original is one of the greatest cards of the decade, but nevertheless to keep the “Expansion 1977 Do-Overs” going, here it is, Chuck Hartenstein:

Re-done, yet still "trucker-licious"
Original card as released by Topps

Hartenstien, who last appeared in a Major League game in 1970 with the Boston Red Sox, would get drafted in the expansion draft in 1976 by the Toronto Blue Jays, which would lead to the great card you see above, airbrushed, and a great job I might add, showing him looking like some trucker ready to throw in a Merle Haggard 8-track while part of some convoy somewhere.
I have always loved this card. The shades, the sideburns, and especially knowing what he looked like years earlier, it’s the perfect card reflecting the era.
His “comeback” would be short however, as he would get hammered over his 13 appearances, going 0-2 with a bloated 6.59 earned run average, giving up 20 earned runs over 27.1 innings.
I was always also into cards of guys that hadn’t appeared in a Topps set for a while. Brock Davis, Danny Murphy, Vincente Romo also come to mind.
Anyway, seems Hartenstein’s pro career was over with the last game he appeared in with the Blue Jays, as it seems he never even pitched in a Minor League game again.
But long live the original Topps card and all it’s 70’s glory!

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Here’s a “career-capping, not so missing” 1971 card for former catcher Don Bryant, who just wrapped up a brief three year Major League career, the last two of which were with the Houston Astros:

Bryant, who originally came up with the Chicago Cubs in 1966 and appeared in 13 games, missed out on the 1967 and 1968 seasons while he put in time in the San Francisco Giants Minor League system.
He’d make it back to the Big Leagues in 1969, appearing in 31 games for the Astros and batting .186 with eleven hits over 59 at-bats, followed by what would end up being the final 15 games of his MLB career in 1970, faring a little better at the plate with a .208 average while filling in at catcher.
In 1971 he’d find himself in the Boston Red Sox system, playing out the final three years of his pro career with the Louisville Colonels and Pawtucket Red Sox before retiring as a player after the 1973 season.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Came across this image of “Jay” Kelly, which turns out is none other than one-year wonder (and future long term Major League manager) Tom Kelly, and decided to make a 1970 card with it, since you can never have enough Seattle Pilots cards out there:

Kelly, who I still cannot find out whether he went by “Jay” at that time since the image was named this, was actually drafted by the Seattle organization back when he was a 17-year-old in 1968.
He put in a few seasons in their Minor League system before getting released in April of 1971, then getting signed by the organization for which he’d spend his long MLB life with, the Minnesota Twins less than a month later, on April 28th, 1971.
Basically a career-Minor Leaguer, Kelly would get the only taste of Major League playing time in 1975 when he appeared in 49 games for Minnesota, batting .181 with 23 hits over 127 at-bats.
He’d play another five years in the Minors, before retiring as a player in 1980 and moving on to coaching/managing soon after.
In 1986 he would become the Twins manager with only 23 games left in the season, a gig that would last another 15 years, guiding the team through two World Championships in 1987 and 1991.
He’d spend 16 years as a manager, all with the Twins, winning 1140 games and being the American League Manager of the Year in 1991.
Neat to find this image of the young teenager, almost 20 years before he’d find Major League glory with a championship, leading a team with stars like Puckett, Hrbek, Viola and Blyleven.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Here’s a “not so missing” 1976 card for former San Diego Padres outfielder John Scott, who appeared in 25 games during the 1975 season:

Scott would actually get his only Topps card as part of the 1978 set, as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, for whom he played 79 games during their inaugural 1977 season.
But in 1975, he went 0-9 over those 25 games, though scoring nine runs with two stolen bases in pinch-running duties in his second taste of the Big Leagues.
In 1974 he appeared in 14 games for the Padres, collecting a single over 15 at-bats in his first Major League action, with three runs scored and a stolen base.
That aforementioned 1977 season with Toronto would be the last of his career, batting .240 with 56 hits in 233 at-bats, with 26 runs and 15 runs batted in, finishing up his brief three year career with a .222 batting average before moving on to Japan for a few seasons before calling it a career in 1982.

Monday, February 19, 2018


Here’s a “missing” 1977 card for former pitcher Eddie Solomon, “Buddy J”, who appeared in 26 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1976:

Solomon posted an even 1-1 record during the Bicentennial year, pitching 37 innings with a 4.86 earned run average and 19 strikeouts.
He’d go on to pitch in the Majors through the 1982 season, finishing up with a record of 36-42 with a 4.00 ERA over 191 appearances, 95 of them starts, seeing the most action with the Atlanta Braves between 1977 and 1979.
Sadly, in 1986 at the age of only 34 he passed away in an automobile accident in Macon, Georgia, having last pitched in a pro game during the 1983 season in the Yankees Minor League system.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


Next up in my long-running “Nicknames” series is Hall of Famer “Little Louie” Aparicio, shortstop extraordinaire and spark-plug over the course of his 18-year career:

Nowadays, we have a guy like Jose Altuve leading the way for players that are not built like mountains, and Aparicio fit that bill between 1956, when he took home the American League Rookie of the Year Award, through the 1973 season, when he retired with over 2600 hits, 1300 runs and more than 500 career stolen bases.
From 1956 through 1964 he led his league in steals every single time, that’s nine straight years, with a high of 57 in 1964 playing for the Baltimore Orioles.
He was both a member of the “Go-Go” Chicago White Sox in 1959, helping them reach the World Series, as well as the surprising 1966 World Champion Orioles, who shocked the world by sweeping the reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
The ten-time All-Star also took home nine Gold Glove Awards, teaming up with Nellie Fox to form one of the greatest double-play combos of all time.
He led the AL in fielding percentage eight straight years, between 1959 and 1966, while also leading in assists seven times, putouts four times and double-plays twice.
In 1984 he was selected for Cooperstown by the BBWAA, joining former teammates like Frank & Brooks Robinson & Early Wynn, with others like Nellie Fox and Jim Palmer joining him later on.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Next in the fun on-going 1970’s sub-set Awards series are the 1976 rookies of the year for the 1977 set, featuring three players since the National league had a tie:

In the N.L., two pitchers topped the voting for the rookie award, the Reds’ Pat Zachry and the Padres’ Butch Metzger, a starter and a reliever.
Beginning with the starter Zachry, how sweet it must have been to come up with the “Big Red Machine” Cincinnati Reds in 1976, post a record of 14-7 with a sweet 2.74 earned run average, while your team was steamrolling to their second straight championship with a sweep of the New York Yankees in the World Series.
Zachry appeared in 38 games, 28 of which were starts, and put in 204 innings of work for the champs, with 143 strikeouts and a shutout along with six complete games.
For Metzger, (who I admittedly had to use his actual 1977 card image since there was no other usable shot to use), he had an equally impressive debut season, appearing in 77 games for the Padres, posting 16 saves while going 11-4 with a 2.92 E.R.A.
Typical of the era, even though all of his appearances were out of the bullpen, he still logged 123.1 innings of work, striking out 89 batters while finishing a league-leading 62 games.
In the American League, we all know who took home the award, an icon of 1970’s baseball, Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, who became a cultural phenomenon on his way to a freshman record of 19-9 with a league=leading 2.34 E.R.A. and completing an astounding 24 of 29 starts!
Those numbers not only got him the rookie award, but also had him start the 1976 All-Star game for the A.L., while also finishing runner-up to Jim Palmer for the Cy Young Award.
Sadly for him (and Detroit), Fidrych developed arm troubles and could never reach that level of success in the Majors again, pitching parts of the following four seasons, winning only 10 more games before calling it a career.
Nevertheless, the mark he left on the game will never be forgotten, joining a select few who would become a symbol of an era beyond the scope of sports.


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