Thursday, May 25, 2017

NEGRO LEAGUE LEGENDS- RUBE FOSTER

Today’s Negro league Legend is none other than a man considered by many to be the “Father of Black Baseball”, all-time great Rube Foster, player, manager and owner during his historic career:


Held in high-regard as the greatest pitcher during the early part of the 20th-Century in Black baseball, this man transcends “stats” and achieved his lofty place in baseball history for the influence he had in building the Negro National League, as well as teaching numerous young players who came along under his tutelage during his 20+ years as player and manager.
Numerous are the stories that follow this legend: his nickname “Rube”, apparently coined after he beat Rube Waddell in a game in the first few years of the 1900’s; Christy Mathewson’s “fadeaway” screwball, taught to him by none other than Foster after he was brought in by John McGraw to teach the young ace.
Of course with stat-keeping the way it was in these early days of baseball, especially the Negro Leagues, Foster’s numbers are left to history to uncover for sure, but we do know from personal accounts that he was one of the greats regardless of league, sad we didn’t get to see him compete against all players.
Nevertheless, although it took way too long, Foster was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, long overdue but definitely a worthy historical figure in the sports’ long history to have his place in Cooperstown forever.
As I state with all these Negro league Legends posts, please do yourself a favor and read up on these players, you’ll be happy you did with the anecdotes, classic match-ups and great players along the way that make for an amazing read.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

FUTURE STARS- FRED LYNN

The next “Future Stars” card in my thread is Fred Lynn, who burst onto the Major League stage and never looked back:


After a star college career at USC, Lynn became an instant star in 1975 when he led the Boston Red Sox to the World Series after copping both the Rookie of the Year AND Most Valuable Player Awards. The first player ever to do so, and still only one of two (Ichiro Suzuki joined him in 2001).
He’d go on to win four Gold Gloves, get named to nine all-star teams, and hit the only Grand Slam in All-Star game history, a memorable shot off of Atlee Hammaker in the 1983 classic that gave the American League it’s first win over the National League since 1971.
Hampered by injuries throughout his 17-year career, he still finished with a very solid MLB resume: 306 homers, 1111 RBI’s, 1063 runs scored and a .283 batting average, with 10 seasons of 20+ homers over 1969 games.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1972 DICK ELLSWORTH CAREER-CAPPER

Let’s cap off a nice 13-year Major League career for former pitcher Dick Ellsworth, who pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers in his final year as a pro:


Ellsworth appeared in 11 games for the Brewers during the 1971 season, going 0-1 with a 4.91 earned run average in 14.2 innings.
It would be the final action he’d see in the Majors after a solid career that began in 1958 with the Chicago Cubs.
His best season would unfortunately be the same season a guy named Sandy Koufax exploded for his 1st Cy Young Award in 1963.
That year Ellsworth sparkled for the Cubs, going 22-10 with a 2.11 E.R.A. and 185 strikeouts over 37 starts and 290.2 innings pitched.
He’d win 14 games each of the next two seasons before losing 22 games in 1966, even though his E.R.A. was under 4.00, but he’d bounce back in 1968 as a member of the Boston Red Sox when he posted a 16-7 record with a 3.03 E.R.A. over 28 starts and 196 innings of work.
All in all he’d finish with a record of 115 and 137 with a 3.72 E.R.A., along with 1140 strikeouts over 407 appearances, 310 of them starts, and 2155.2 innings pitched.

Monday, May 22, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1978 JACK BAKER

Here’s a card I already had scheduled for later on in the year, but moved up in the “assembly line” for my buddy Mark, a 1978 Jack Baker:


After coming up for the first time in 1976 and playing in 12 games for Boston, Baker got a small cup-of-coffee in 1977, appearing in two games, amassing three plate appearances without a hit.
The following season would see him split his time with both the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays Minor League systems, capping off a pro career that began in 1971 after being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1971 out of Auburn University.
During his Minor League tenure Baker showed some “pop”, hitting as many as 36 homers in 1976 for Rhode Island of the International league, as well as 27 homers in both 1972 and 1974.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- "IN-ACTION": HORACE CLARKE

Here’s a “missing” 1972 In-Action card for “Hoss” Horace Clarke, the man from the Virgin Islands who held down the second base position for the New York Yankees during the “dark years” between 1965 and 1974:


Clarke was solid for the Yankees for the bulk of his Major League tenure, though sadly he missed out on the early-60s juggernaut teams and the “Bronx Zoo” Yankees of the late-70’s.
But right in-between he put in a nice career that had him play day in and day out, topping out during the 1969 season when he collected 183 hits while leading the American League in at-bats with 641 and stealing 33 bases along with a very nice .285 batting average.
Of course many will remember that within one month during the 1970 season, Clarke broke up three no-hitters in the ninth inning!
On June 4th he ruined Jim Rooker’s bid for immortality, on June 19th he did the same to Sonny Siebert, and finally on July 2nd he eliminated Joe Niekro’s chance at no-hit fame.
Of his ten years as a Major League player, 9 1/2 were in the Bronx, finishing up with a half-season with the San Diego Padres in 1974 before retiring with a .256 batting average over 1272 games and 4813 at-bats.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 HECTOR TORRES

Here’s a 1973 “missing” card for a guy who was missing a few of them during the 1970’s, former infielder Hector Torres:


Torres really could have gotten a card every year but 1975 (after missing out on MLB play the previous year), but only had cards in the 1970-72 & 1976 sets.
I already created a 1978 “missing” card for him on this blog a while back, and this 1973 will hopefully be joined by a 1974 & 1977 in the near future.
During the 1972 season Torres played in 83 games for the Montreal Expos, batting .155 with 28 hits over 181 at-bats and 199 plate appearances.
Sure the dismal hitting didn’t help, but I can easily name a handful of players who played a ton less and got cards in the set.
Generally a part-timer off the bench, Torres put in nine years in the Major Leagues, batting .216 with 375 hits in 1738 at-bats over 622 games between 1968 and 1977.

Friday, May 19, 2017

NOW AVAILABLE: ISSUE #11 OF "WTHBALLS", THE 1978 MISSING IN ACTION ISSUE



Hello Everyone!
Happy to announce the availability of the 11th issue of “WTHBALLS”, the 1978 “Missing in Action” issue, featuring all the ’78’s I designed to this point of cards that “should have” been in that nice 1978 Topps set.
This issue features cards of stars like Dick Allen, Boog Powell, Willie Wilson, and Brooks Robinson, who gets the “career-capper” treatment, as well as the complimentary postcard that comes with each issue.
As usual, the issue has 24-full color pages and can be ordered through me for $7 each (postpaid). Email me at: john@slogun.com to order, or for any questions you may have.
And if you want to order any of the back issues, all are still available, and I do combine shipping on multiple magazine orders.
Thanks for the interest!
Gio

1975 IN-ACTION: REGGIE JACKSON

Next up in my 1975 In-Action sub-set is the man himself, Reggie Jackson, pre-”Mr. October” as he was slugging, and winning, his way into the Oakland A’s record books:


Reggie was coming off three straight World Championships, along with an A.L. M.V.P. Award in 1973 by the time this card would have come out.
He’d win his second home run title in ‘75, sharing it with the Milwaukee Brewers’ George Scott, something he’d do two more times with Brewers players in the future: ‘80 with Ben Oglivie and ‘82 with Gorman Thomas.
Of course, we all know that just a couple years later, as a member of the New York Yankees as one of the first big time Free Agents, he would become almost mythical, as “Mr. October” was born when he’d lead the Yanks to two straight Championships in 1977 & 1978, giving him five titles in only seven years.
The man was an American icon by the end of the decade, and would become one of the all-time recognizable players in MLB history to this very day.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1977 TIM BLACKWELL

Here’s a “not really” missing 1977 card for veteran Major League catcher Tim Blackwell, he of the Village People mustache (later on) and 10-year career:


After his first two MLB seasons, with the Boston Red Sox as an occasional back-up to Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, Blackwell was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies, and only got into four games during the 1976 season.
He collected two hits over those contests, spread out over eight at-bats, and would find himself playing for the Montreal Expos the following year, before finding his groove with the Chicago Cubs in 1978, who he’d play for through the 1981 season.
After two more years with the Expos in 1982 and 1983, his MLB career would come to a close, batting .228 with 238 hits in 1044 at-bats in ten seasons, generally as a back-up/platoon catcher.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1970 BILLY COWAN

Here’s a “missing” 1970 card for former outfielder Billy Cowan, who split the 1969 season with the New York Yankees and California Angels:


Cowan appeared in 60 games, batting .240 with 25 hits in 104 at-bats while [laying all three outfield slots as well as first base.
He would go on to play another three more seasons in his Major League career, all with the Angels, retiring with a .236 career average, with 281 hits in 1190 at-bats, along with 40 homers and 125 runs batted in.
On a side-note: he put up some monster seasons in the Minors his 1st three pro years between 1961 and 1963, slamming as many as 35 homers and driving in as much as 122 runs while dividing his time in various levels of the Chicago Cubs system.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

CY YOUNG WINNERS- 1970 SUB-SET

I don’t know about you all, but when I was a kid ripping open packs, I was always psyched to come to one of the big time award winners from the previous season.
Pulling a Ron Guidry in 1979, a Joe Morgan in 1977, etc, was always a highlight.
It also irked me a bit that the big-time award winners were never “celebrated” in a sub-set. At least the way I wanted them to be.
Sure you had that attempt in the 1972 set, which we all want to forget about. And we had the 1975 sub-set celebrating all the MVP’s during the Topps run of 1951 to 74.
But what about a sub-set EVERY year showcasing the guys who took home the hardware the previous season?
Well today I’ll start that idea with a 1970 “Cy Young Winners” card, showing (in this case) the three guys who were the big winners during the 1969 season: Tom Seaver, Denny McLain and Mike Cuellar:


I wanted to take that idea of the actual award, or trophy if you will, and use it on the card along with images of the players themselves. THAT would have been a good way to go about it in 1972.
Of course, Seaver was on top of it all with the first of his three Cy Young Awards, posting a 25-7 record with a 2.21 earned run average and 208 strikeouts, leading the New York Mets all the way to an improbable championship over the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles.
Those Orioles were led by Cuellar, who posted the first of his four 20-win season when he went 23-11 with a 2.38 E.R.A. And 182 strikeouts, leading his team to an American League championship, though they would lose to the Mets as I mentioned earlier.
However, that performance wasn’t enough to claim the award outright, as Detroit Tigers ace Denny McLain, coming off of a Cy Young AND MVP season in 1968 with his 31 wins and World Championship, would post another sparkler of a season, going 24-9 with a 2.80 E.R.A. And 181 strikeouts, along with a league-leading nine shutouts, to share in what would be his second straight claim to the award.
Well there you have it, the first of what will be a 30-card sub-set, spotlighting all the Cy Young, MVP and Rookie of the Year winners between 1969 and 1978.
Hope you enjoy it as much I will!

Monday, May 15, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1975 IKE BROWN

Here’s a “not really missing” card for Ike Brown, who finished up a six-year Major League career in 1974 with the briefest of action:


Brown’s 1974 season totaled two games, with two plate appearances, in which he went hitless while playing third base.
It would close out a resume that encompassed 1969 through 1974, with a career .256 batting average with 137 hits in 536 at-bats over 280 games.
Never a full-time player, he spent all six years with the Detroit Tigers, seeing the most action during his rookie year of ‘69 when he appeared in 70 games and had 205 plate appearances, batting .229 with a career-high 24 runs scored.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

TURN BACK THE CLOCK- 1967 MICKEY MANTLE HITS HIS 500TH HOME RUN

The newest “Turn Back the Clock” card in my thread is a 1977 card celebrating the 10th anniversary of the great Mickey Mantle’s 500th career home run, which occurred on May 14th of ‘67:


In the 7th inning of a Sunday game against the reigning World Champion Baltimore Orioles, Mantle slammed a two-out shot off of reliever Stu Miller to join the (then) exclusive club, on his way to a career 536 homers before he retired in the Spring of 1969.
He would top 50 homers twice during his 18-year career, along with four 40+ seasons and nine 30+ seasons, leading the league four times while also topping the Junior Circuit in runs scored five times and RBI’s once (during his Triple Crown 1956 campaign).
The 16-time all-star and three-time MVP became an American icon that still resonates today, as arguably the most popular subject in card-collecting and as beloved a New York athlete as anyone can name.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

EXPANSION RE-DONE: 1977 BILL SINGER

Here’s a re-done card of former pitcher Bill Singer, who played the last 13 games of his 14-year Major League career as a Toronto Blue Jay in their inaugural season:


Nice in-game shot of the righty during the 1977 season.
Over those 13 games, he started 12 and finished with a 2-8 record along with a 6.79 earned run average.
It was a quick decline for a guy who was a two-time 20-game winner, once with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the other with the California Angels, along with three 200+ strikeout seasons, with a high of 247 in 1969 while still in L.A.
His MLB career would end with a record of 118-127, along with a nice 3.39 E.R.A. And 1515 K’s in 322 appearances and 2175 innings pitched.

Friday, May 12, 2017

FUTURE STAR- MIKE SCHMIDT

The next “Future Star” card in my on-going thread for the 1978 set is all-time third baseman Mike Schmidt, who was putting together a Hall of Fame career with the Philadelphia Phillies:


The 3x National League MVP was tearing it up in the mid-70’s, topping the league in home runs three straight years between 1974 and 1976, with another five home run titles ahead of him in the 1980’s.
“Schmitty”  would top 30 home runs in 13 of his 14 full-time seasons during his career. Amazing when you consider the era he played in!
He would also drive in 100+ runs nine times while also getting named to 12 all-star teams before he retired in 1989.
What an awesome player!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1972 JAY FRANKLIN

Here’s a “not really missing” card for a 3-game Major League career pitcher, former San Diego Padre Jay Franklin:


Franklin posted a 0-1 record for his short cup-of-coffee in September of 1971 at the age of only 18, throwing 5.2 innings with one start and a 6.35 earned run average.
Though he would pitch in the Padres minor league system through the 1977 season, he’d never make it back up to the big leagues again.
It’s somewhat significant since Franklin was the #2 overall pick in the 1971 amateur draft, after the White Sox pick of High School catcher Danny Goodwin, who didn’t sign and would be a #1 overall pick AGAIN four years later.
You’d have to scroll down to the 13th pick that year to really find a success, that being pitcher Frank Tanana, picked by the California Angels.
Two picks later, you really find a pick for the ages when the Boston Red Sox took a kid named Jim Rice, who of course would go on to a Hall of Fame career.
Sadly for the Padres however, their pick didn’t pan out, which was a frequent theme for them in the decade aside for Dave Winfield in 1973.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

1975 IN-ACTION: LARRY BOWA

Here’s a card that came out really nice as part of my on-going 1975 “In Action” sub-set, an action card for Philadelphia Phillies all-star Larry Bowa, check it out:


Bowa was smack in the middle of his prime as an all-star shortstop in the National League in the middle of the decade, racking up the hits and stolen bases on a Phillies team that made some waves but just couldn’t get passed the Championship Series thanks to the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Over his 16-year career, Bowa collected a couple of Gold Gloves and five all-star nods, while topping 2000 hits with 2191 along with 318 stolen bases.
Of course after his playing days were over he became a long-time coach and manager, currently serving as a bench coach for the Phillies, almost 50-years of Major League service since his rookie season of 1970.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1976 ODELL JONES

Here’s a “not so missing” 1976 card for former pitcher Odell Jones, who originally came up for a brief cup-of-coffee with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1975:


Jones, who would go on to play nine years in the Major Leagues between 1975 and 1988, appeared in only two games for the Pirates in his debut, pitching three innings and not allowing a run with only one hit.
After spending the 1976 season in the minor leagues, he came back in 1977 and appeared in 34 games for Pittsburgh, going 3-7 with a 5.08 earned run average in 108 innings of work.
He’d end up generally a man out of the bullpen for the rest of his career, with an occasional spot start here and there, compiling a 24-35 record, including a spotless 5-0 career-capping season in 1988 with the Milwaukee Brewers, before hanging them up.

Monday, May 8, 2017

NEGRO LEAGUE LEGENDS- JUDY JOHNSON

The next Negro League legend to have the spotlight in my on-going series is the great Judy Johnson, one of the greatest third baseman in Negro League history:


Between 1918 and 1936 Johnson played for the Hilldale Club, the Bacharach Giants, Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, and compiled a career .293 average, though he batted as high as .389 (1925) and .376 (1929, when he was also named MVP of the Negro Leagues).
Beyond his playing field performance, he is also credited with discovering and mentoring the great Josh Gibson, just as Negro League legend John Henry Lloyd did for him when he first came up.
By then a player-manager for the legendary Homestead Grays, the squad featured no less than five future Hall of Fame players: Johnson, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson.
Post Negro leagues, Johnson became a scout in the Major Leagues for the Philadelphia Athletics before moving on to the Braves, Phillies and Dodgers.
From 1971 through 1974 Johnson was also on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s  Committee on the Negro Leagues, helping to find a rightful place in Cooperstown for inductees like Paige and Gibson before being elected himself in 1975.
A wonderful baseball life that spanned decades, and to a greater extent, worlds in respect to how American baseball evolved between 1918 and the mid-70’s.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

EXPANSION RE-DONE: 1977 PETE BROBERG

Here’s a new thread that was proposed to me by a few readers over the past couple years, re-doing all the Topps 1977 Blue Jays and Mariners cards, using photos of the players in their uniforms rather than all the airbrushed images they were forced to understandably use.
We’ll start it off with former pitcher Pete Broberg:


Ironically, while Broberg was selected by Seattle in the expansion draft, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in April of 1977, never actually pitching for the Mariners.
He would only go on to pitch in 22 games for the Cubs in 1977 before finding himself playing for the Oakland A’s in 1978, which would end up being the last year of his Major League career.
Coming up in 1971 as a 21-year old with the Washington Senators, Broberg would pitch eight-seasons and post a 41-71 career record with a 4.56 earned run average over 206 games and 963 innings pitched.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1976 HERB WASHINGTON

“ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE!”
Someone suggested to me that I should try my hand at a 1976 Herb Washington “Career-Capping” card, particularly with regards to the position player at bottom left.
Well this is what I came up with:
I took the base-runner from the shortstop illustration, took out the fielder, and filled-in the base runner, and here you go, a “designated runner” card for the man who stole 31 career bases, scored 33 runs, yet never played an out in the field nor had a Major League plate appearance.
Something you will never see again!
All told, Washington appeared in 105 MLB games between 1974 and 1975, stealing 31 bases out of 48 tries, while scoring those aforementioned 33 runs for the powerhouse Oakland A’s team.
A unique experiment that only those wild-70’s could have given us!

Friday, May 5, 2017

MAJOR LEAGUE FOUNDERS: BOB FERGUSON 1876-1976

The next pioneering Major League ballplayer in the spotlight in my long-running “founders” thread is former infielder & manager Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson, whose career started before the National Association formed in 1871 and ran through to 1884:


A defensive whiz in that era, his rather unique nickname was because any ball hit in the air was caught by him, thus “Death to Flying Things”.
He started his career in the amateur days in his native Brooklyn, NY, playing for powerhouse teams like the Brooklyn Atlantics and New York Mutuals in the 1860’s before the first pro-league, the N.A. Mentioned above was formed.
During the five year run of the league, Ferguson also acted as league President between 1872-1875, as elected by the players themselves because of his unquestioned honesty and integrity.
On the field, he was mainly a third baseman who was solid in the field, a bit light at the plate as evidenced by his consistent batting averages between .240 and .280.
When the new Major League started in 1876, Ferguson found himself as a member of the Hartford Dark Blues, where he’d play for two seasons before moving on to the Chicago White Stockings for a single season in 1878.
He’d have his finest year in ‘78, batting .351 while playing shortstop, a new position for him after nine years as a professional.
He’d play another five seasons in the league, four for the Troy Trojans before capping off his career in the American Association with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1884 at the age of 39.
Throughout it all he managed as well, acting as player-manager for every team he played for during his career, before becoming a straight-up manager for the New York Metropolitans in 1886 and 1887.
But his success as a manager wasn’t exactly exemplary, finishing his career as a big league skipper with a 417 and 516 record, never finishing higher than third, but generally near the bottom of the league.
But he wasn’t done yet! Though he’d umpire occasionally throughout his career when the position wasn’t exactly an “official” hired job, he became a full-time ump after his managing career was over, and at one point umpired more games than anyone in the early days of the league by the time he retired in 1891 at 804 games.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1974 GARY IGNASIAK

Here’s a “not really” missing card for Detroit Tigers pitcher Gary Ignasiak,who appeared in three total games during the 1973 season:


Those three appearances, all in relief, would be sum total of Ignasiak’s Major League career, not figuring in a decision while pitching 4.2 innings to the tune of a 3.86 earned run average.
He’d be back in the minors for 1974, posting a record of 11-11 split between double and triple-A before closing out his pro career the following season after going 6-15 with a bloated 5.79 ERA.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

PHOTO SPOTLIGHT-1976 HOSTESS JIMMY WYNN AIRBRUSHING

Today I wanted to take a look and spotlight a photo negative that was airbrushed and used on a 1976 Hostess card, the Jimmy Wynn card from the set:


Just interesting to see how they airbrushed “just enough” to get the job done, leaving the rest of Wynn’s Los Angeles Dodger uniform untouched.
I’m assuming this was from the same photo shoot that gave us his regular 1976 Topps set card as well, though THIS card seems to have been a better job! Go figure.
Those Hostess sets had some horrid airbrush jobs, and I may spotlight more of them in the future as I have come across more of the negative film used in the sets.
For Wynn, after a true all-star caliber season in 1974 with the Dodgers, his 1st for L.A., he ended up having a “decent” 1975 campaign, hitting 18 homers while driving in 58 runs, though he did walk 110 times giving him a nice .403 on-base-percentage.
For the Atlanta Braves, he’d put in one season where he’d lead the N.L. In walks with 127, while slugging 17 homers and driving in 66 runs, before a split 1977 season with the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees which saw him hit .175 with a single home run, ending a very nice 15-year career that saw him hit 291 homers and get named to three all-star teams.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

ULTIMATE "NOT REALLY" MISSING IN ACTION- 1970 LEROY REAMS

Here’s about as “not really” missing in action as you can get, a 1970 card for former Philadelphia Phillies player Leroy Reams:


The sum total of Reams’ Major League career is one game, one plate appearance, one at-bat, which resulted in a strikeout.
The one taste of MLB action came on May 7th of the 1969 season, exactly TWO days before yours truly was born at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
For Reams, after toiling in the Minor Leagues since 1962 for the Phillies and New York Yankee organizations, he finally made it up on that Spring day, pinch-hitting for pitcher Barry Lersch in a 6-1 loss against the Houston Astros.
But he’d never see MLB action again, finishing up his pro career in the Detroit Tigers organization in 1970 after batting a combined .193 over 46 games between Toledo and Montgomery.

Monday, May 1, 2017

NEGRO LEAGUE LEGENDS- "COOL PAPA" BELL

Sooner or later, ANY ongoing discussion about Negro League legends comes to the one and only James “Cool Papa” Bell, one of the greatest players of all-time regardless of league:


One of the most popular players of the Negro Leagues, Bell put in over 20 years, starting out with the St. Louis Stars in 1922, for whom he played through the 1931 season, before playing for various other teams including the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords.
An 8-time all-star, he finished with a Negro League career batting average of .316, yet he originally came up as a pitcher!
As a matter of fact the genesis of his all-too-familiar nickname came about because of a strikeout against legend Oscar Charleston early in Bell’s career.
But once he was switched to the outfield, it was ON!
Perhaps the fastest player to ever run the base-paths, the anecdotes and legendary stories of his speed are endless.
One of my favorites:
“Bell was so fast he could turn off the light and be under the covers before the room got dark.”- Satchel Paige.
Classic!
Even at the age of 43, Bell was raking it, as evidenced by his .402 batting average over 95 games for the Homestead Grays in 1946! The year before? A cool .380!
A great player, and from everything I have read from his contemporaries, a great man.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A HINT ON WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE "1979 MISSING IN ACTION" WTHBALLS ISSUE...

Here's a rather huge hint as to what topic I tackle first in the Magazine after the "Missing in Actions" are all done ...


Time to tackle the specialty cards!
This looks even better in person!

FANTASY 1977 CARD- REGGIE JACKSON'S LOST ORIOLES CARD

You knew at some point I had to create a 1977 Reggie Jackson Orioles card. And I thought this photo made for a nice version of a card many have created before me:


I always felt it was messed up that there was never a card for Reggie really showing him as an Orioles player considering it was a HUGE blockbuster of a trade that sent him to Baltimore right before the 1976 season started.
This was big time news, and coming off of his second home run title (which was a tie with Milwaukee Brewer slugger George Scott), Jackson was in his prime.
Anyway, as well know Topps managed to airbrush him into a “Yankee” uniform, and we got the ugly card that was his 1977 slab. I was never a fan.
So, he we go, with a nice Baltimore Orioles card for the future Hall of Fame slugger and icon of the 1970’s.

On a side-note I always found it interesting that Reggie shared THREE home run titles in his career, in 1975, 1980 and 1982, ALL three with Milwaukee Brewers: George Scott, Ben Oglivie and Gorman Thomas.
Go figure.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

FUTURE STAR- STEVE GARVEY

Here’s the next “Future Star” card in my imagined 1978 sub-set, Los Angeles Dodger great Steve Garvey, who put together (in my opinion) a Hall of Fame career that had him as the National League all-star first baseman ten times, eight of them consecutively:


Coming out of Michigan State University, Garvey went on to rack up the hits, the awards and the accolades over his 19-year career.
The National League M.V.P. In 1974, he reached 200+ hits six times, 100+ runs batted in five times, and batted .300+ seven times.
The four-time Gold Glover would also finish in the Top-10 in M.V.P. voting four times during his career, including a second place finish behind Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978 to go along with his award from ‘74.
By the time he retired in 1987, he collected 2599 hits, 272 home runs, 1308 runs batted in and a .294 career average with five World Series appearances, including one championship in 1981.
In the post-season he batted .338 with 75 hits and eleven home runs with 31 runs batted in spread over 55 games!
Call me crazy, but when he retired I pretty much figured he was a LOCK for the Hall, expecting him to even be a first or second-year inductee!

Friday, April 28, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1970 BILL DAVIS

Here’s a “missing” 1970 card for Bill Davis, a player who already wrapped up a short three-year career as a part of the inaugural San Diego Padres of 1969:


Davis appeared in 31 games during the 1969 season, batting .175 with 10 hits over 57 at-bats while playing first base.
It’s the first action he saw in the Majors since the 1966 season when he played in 23 games for the Cleveland Indians, for whom he came up the previous year as a 23 year-old rookie.
All told he played 64 games in the Major Leagues in those three abbreviated seasons, batting .181 with 19 hits in 105 at-bats in 64 games.
A rather interesting footnote to his career is that he appeared in FIVE straight Topps sets from 1965 through 1969 on a multi-player rookie card!
I cannot think of any other player that was subjected to such torture, having to share his card with another.
Lou Piniella comes close, with three cards (1964, 1968 & 1969) before finally getting his own card in the 1970 set. After all, he did win the A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1969 with the Kansas City Royals!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"WHAT IF?"- 1969 REGGIE JACKSON ROOKIE, BUT AS A NEW YORK MET!

I tweeted a few days ago about a “fantasy” card (if there ever was one) I created regarding the 1969 Reggie Jackson rookie, but in this scenario he is pictured as a New York Met! It created for “Fastball John” and a book review he wrote for the Casey Stengel biography, “Baseball’s Greatest Character". Take a look:

The idea behind this is of course the (in)famous 1966 amateur draft, where Reggie went #2 overall, picked by the Kansas City Athletics after the Mets chose high school catcher Steve Chilcott, who never ended up playing a game in the Major Leagues.
There are many theories as to why Reggie wasn’t chosen #1 overall, too many to get into here (some unsavory), but nevertheless considering the impact he made at Arizona State University during his collegiate career, Reggie really should have been picked 1st. That would have given the university two straight overall picks after Rick Monday was taken 1st by the Athletics the previous year, in the very 1st amateur draft in MLB history.
Of course, it would have been interesting to see how the personality of Reggie would have played out had he immediately been in NYC, though as a part of a team that was at the precipice of success with a youth-core of Seaver, Koosman, et al and a championship looming in 1969.
Who knows? But it sure is fun imagining!
Anyway, for the card, I had to combine a nice photo or Reggie around 1969 with a perfect shot of former Mets favorite Tommie Agee. Just so happened I found two identical poses, though Reggie’s was flipped.
Through the magic of Photoshop, voila! We Have the young Reggie Jackson shown as a New York Met!
I may have to try my hand at a few other “what if’s” down the line! Keep an eye out to see who…

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 CHARLIE HUDSON

Here’s a “not really missing” card for former pitcher Charlie Hudson, for whom I earlier created a “missing” 1974 card:


Hudson appeared in 12 games for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1972 season, the first taste of Major League ball he’d have.
He picked up a win against no losses, with a 5.11 earned run average over 12.1 innings of work, all out of the bullpen.
After a 1973 season that saw him as a Texas Ranger, going 4-2 with a 4.62 E.R.A. in 25 games, four of which were starts, he’d be out of the big leagues until 1975 when he made it back with the California Angels, appearing in the last three games of his short three-year career, going 0-1 with a bloated 9.53 E.R.A. to finish up at 5-3, with a 5.04 career E.R.A. in 40 appearances and 80.1 innings pitched.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

1975 "IN-ACTION" JIM PALMER

The next player featured in my on-going 1975 “In-Action” sub-set is the one and only Jim Palmer, 3-time Cy Young winner and ace of the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff for almost 20-years:


Though coming off of an uncharacteristically season in 1974 that saw him go 7-12 in only 26 games, he still posted an E.R.A. Of 3.27 with a couple of shutouts.
But of course that wasn’t the Jim Palmer we were used to, because for four years before AND after that season, he’s post 20-wins each and every time, as well as E.R.A.’s under 3.00 while racking up shutouts, innings and awards, including the aforementioned Cy Youngs, four Gold Gloves, six all-star game nods and an 8-3 postseason record with three championships.
Palmer will always be considered one of the era’s great pitchers, along with guys like Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton, the other 3-time (four for Carlton) Cy Young winners of that time period.
Just an amazing career.

Monday, April 24, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1974 ED CROSBY

Here’s a 1974 “missing” card for former infielder Ed Crosby, who split 1973 between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds:


Crosby played in a combined 58 games in 1973, batting .178 with 16 hits over 90 at-bats while playing all but first base in the infield.
He’d go on to play another three seasons before closing out his six-year career with a .220 batting average along with 149 hits and 67 runs scored in 677 at-bats and 297 games.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

BASEBALL BROTHERS- DICK, HANK AND RON ALLEN

The next “Baseball Brothers” card in my on-going sub-set through the 1970’s are the Allen brothers, Dick, Hank and Ron, who all made it to the “Big Show”, with Dick of course leading the way as a bonafide star:


Dick, then known as “Richie”, made it to the Majors first and made an immediate impact, winning the National league Rookie of the Year Award with one of the all-time rookie campaigns, hitting .318 with a league-leading 125 runs scored and 13 triples, with 38 doubles, 29 homers and 91 runs batted in.
He’d go on to play 15-years while picking up an American League MVP Award (just missing a Triple Crown title), along with seven all-star nods.
He would top 30 homers six times, leading the league twice with 37 and 32 respectively in 1972 and 1974 while with the Chicago White Sox.
Though the oldest of the trio, Hank made it to the big league in 1966 and put together a seven year career playing for the Washington Senators, Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox along with Dick.
Never a full-time player, he’d finish with a .241 batting average along with 212 hits in 881 at-bats in 389 games.
It’s worth noting that once drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, he tore up the minor league system between 1960 and 1966, knocking in 100+ runs three times and topping 20 homers three times, with a high of 37 in 1962 along with 140 RBI’s.
The youngest of the three Allen brothers, Ron just had a cup of coffee in the Majors in 1972, playing seven games with the St. Louis Cardinals during the month of August and hitting a home run for his only hit.
I don’t know why, but 1972 would be his final season as a pro Majors or Minors, and I wonder why since he was only 28 at the time. Would love to know more about him and what happened, if anything.

Nevertheless I'm always amazed when two brothers, let alone THREE or more, make the Major Leagues or any other pro sport. Awesome.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NICKNAMES OF THE 1970'S: "THE LITTLE GENERAL" JOHNNY BENCH

Here’s a long-overdue “nickname” card for the great Johnny Bench, the “Little General”, who led the Cincinnati Reds through their “Big Red Machine” juggernaut teams of the decade to consecutive World Championships in 1975-76:


Though not really the most recognized nickname of the decade in baseball, Bench was tagged with it early on when it was clear this guy was a leader as well as a natural on the diamond.
All he would go on to do is win the National league Rookie of the Year as a 20-year old in 1968, win TWO Most Valuable Player Awards by the age of 24, and win those aforementioned championships by the age of 28.
Just an incredible career that took him straight to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1989, as if there was any chance of that NOT happening!
One of the all-time great catchers regardless of era.

Friday, April 21, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1971 MINNIE MENDOZA

Here’s a “not really” missing 1971 Minnie Mendoza card that really came out well, for the long-time minor league player who got a cup of coffee in 1970:


Mendoza FINALLY got to the Majors after 16 years in the Minor Leagues, originally appearing way back in 1954!
In his MLB cup-of-coffee he appeared in 16 games with 16 at-bats, collecting three hits and batting .188.
But don’t let those numbers fool you. This guy flat out HIT in his 20 years in the Minor Leagues, collecting 2462 hits and batting .290!
Granted, most of his hitting was in the lower levels, but I’m curious as to why he didn’t get more of a shot in the Major League level after some really fine seasons.
After his brief ZMLB appearance he was back in the Minors until the 1973 season, where he played for Monterray in the Mexican League at the age of 39.
Pretty interesting career to look into!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

1975 "IN ACTION"- TOM SEAVER

Here’s the next 1975 “In Action” card, this time it’s Mets ace Tom Seaver, who was on his way to a third Cy Young Award by the time the season was over:


After posting a record of 11-11 in 1974, Seaver came back with a vengeance in 1975, going 22-9 with a 2.8 earned run average and 243 strikeouts, leading the league in wins and K’s.
He was in prime form in the mid-70’s, putting together nine straight 200 strikeouts seasons while getting tabbed to ten all-star teams in his first eleven seasons.
Of course, being in your prime didn’t mean that the improbable could happen, as Mets fans found out on June 15th of 1977 when Seaver found himself traded to the Cincinnati Reds for four players, which at the time seemed like the rich (Reds) were getting richer.
But as baseball has shown everyone many times, having a team that is STOCKED doesn’t translate to championship seasons every time, as the Reds suddenly found themselves second-fiddle to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the West, never making it to the World Series with Seaver on their team.
Nevertheless, Seaver would ride his power-pitching straight to the Hall of Fame, finishing up with 311 wins, a 2.86 E.R.A., 61 shutouts and 3640 K’s.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1960'S SEASONAL LEADERS- EARNED RUN AVERAGE

The next “Decade Leader” card for the 1960’s is Earned Run Average, sporting a couple of all-time low E.R.A.’s no matter what the decade:


Of course for the National League we have St Louis Cardinals great Bob Gibson, who posted one of the lowest E.R.A.’s in history at 1.13.
He achieved this with help from no one else but himself, as he posted 13 shutouts accounting for all but nine of his 22 wins, yet the guy STILL lost nine games that season!
He completed 28 of 34 starts, almost threw nothing but zeros in HALF of them, yet still came up with nine losses. Incredible!
Of course he would take home the Cy Young Award AND MVP for the N.L. For his troubles, along with his fourth Gold Glove and fifth all-star nod, on his way into the hallowed doors of Cooperstown.
Over in the American League, the decade’s lowest ERA was posted by “El Tiante” Luis Tiant, who was sadly overshadowed in the “Year of the Pitcher”, but would have EASILY taken home a Cy Young had he posted the numbers he did any other season.
All Tiant did that season for the Cleveland Indians was go 21-9 with nine shutouts over 32 starts, 19 of which he completed, and sport a sparkling 1.60 E.R.A. along with 264 strikeouts!
Forget Cy Young Award, those are MVP numbers!
However, there was a guy named Denny McLain winning 31 games for the eventual World Champion Detroit Tigers, so Tiant went home empty-handed.
He would actually go on to struggle over the next three seasons until making an awesome comeback with the Boston Red Sox in 1972, once again leading the A.L. In E.R.A. With a sub-2.00 figure, this time at 1.91.
He’d be in the Majors to stay after that, pitching through to 1982 and finishing with 229 wins along with 49 shutouts, a 3.30 E.R.A. and 2416 strikeouts over his 19-year career.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NEGRO LEAGUE LEGENDS- SATCHEL PAIGE

Today’s “Negro league Legend” is none other than arguably the most well-known star and personality of them all,  pitching great Satchel Paige:


From his start as a 20-year old playing for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1927 to his final Major League appearance as a 59-year old for the Kansas City Athletics, Paige became an American icon not only for his on-field play but for his infectious personality.
Though his career Negro League record is listed as 100-50 over 18-seasons, he won countless other games along the way, as was the usual for the Negro Leagues as they played exhibition and non-league games during gaps in their schedule.
His stories are legend, enough so that by the time the Baseball Hall of Fame got off their ass and finally began electing Negro League all-time greats to Cooperstown, Paige was the very 1st to be so honored.
A 5x time Negro League all-star, 2x American League all-star, Negro League champ in 1942 with the Homestead Grays, and Major League World Champion with the 1948 Cleveland Indians, Paige left a baseball legacy that few could come close to.
If you haven’t already please do yourself a favor and read up on anything you can regarding the anecdotes on Paige, from BOTH his Negro league days through to his Major League tenure!
Honestly, if I were to go and write a full bio on the guy, it would end up being a BOOK! So forgive the relatively short write-up here.
Some guys are such legends there really isn’t much that needs to be said...

Monday, April 17, 2017

MAJOR LEAGUE FOUNDERS: JOE BATTIN 1876-1976

Next up in my “Major League Founders” thread is former infielder Joe Battin, who played 10 scattered years as a professional player between 1871 and 1890:


Battin originally came up for a single game for the Cleveland club of the National Association in 1871 at the age of 17, followed by a single game two seasons later for the Philadelphia Athletics before finally becoming a full-time player in 1874.
An early “good-field/no-hit” player, he played in the Major Leagues’ first two seasons in 1876 & 1877, putting in his best season at the plate during the inaugural 1876 campaign when he batted .300.
Considering his next highest batting average as a pro would be the .250 he hit the year before, that .300 average was indeed an aberration.
He would be out of pro-ball until 1882 when he played for the Pittsburgh club of the American Association, for whom he’d play the next season as well.
In 1884 he’d play for no less than three clubs, in both the AA and Union Association, batting a cumulative .164 average while playing shortstop.
Again, he’d miss a few seasons before coming back to pro-ball in 1890, his last action as a Major League player, when he’s suit up for Syracuse of the AA at the age of 36, batting .210.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 JOHN GAMBLE

Here’s a “not so missing” 1973 card for former shortstop John Gamble, who appeared in a scant six games for the Detroit Tigers during his rookie 1972 season:


Gamble played in the first six games of what would be a short 13-game career in 1972, going hitless in three at-bats in pinch-hit roles while playing one game at shortstop.
The following year he’d play in seven games for Detroit, oddly enough listed as a designated hitter yet not having a single plate appearance (?), though he did score a run.
Sadly for him that would be it for the Majors, though he would stick it out in the Minor Leagues until the 1976 season in Triple-A ball.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

1975 "IN-ACTION"- JOHNNY BENCH

The next 1975 “In-Action” card in my series is none other than the great Johnny Bench, smack in the middle of his incredible career leading the “Big Red Machine”:


Bench already had two MVP’s under his belt by the time this card would have hit the market, and was just about to become a two-time world champion with two straight World Series wins in 1975 and 1976 against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees respectively.
He would put together a career rarely seen by ANY player, let alone a catcher: 14 all-star games, 10 Gold Gloves, two home run titles and three RBI titles, all while donning the “tools of ignorance” for 17 seasons, all with the Reds.
Look for my “Nicknames of the 70s” card for the “Little General” coming soon!

Friday, April 14, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 1970'S: DON MONEY SETS ERRORLESS STREAK FOR THIRD BASEMAN

Thanks to my buddy John Seibel, I was sent an awesome photo (and idea) just perfect for a 1970’s “Highlight” card, Don Money and his errorless streak at third base during the 1974 season:


How great is this picture?!
Money, who was one of the top defensive third baseman of his era, played in 86 straight games without an error, with 78 setting the new record as shown on the decorated base he’s holding.
Oddly enough he’d go on to play various positions soon after this, even starting the 1978 all-star game for the American League at second base, leading to his all-star card in the 1979 set.
He wasn’t all defense however, as he’d hit as many as 25 home runs in a season (1977), as well as collect as many as 178 hits (1974) during his 16-year career.
The four-time all-star would retire after the 1983 season with 1623 hits, 176 homers and 798 runs scored over 1720 games.
Thanks John for the photo and card-idea!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

1960'S SEASONAL LEADERS- SHUTOUTS

Next up in my 1960’s “Seasonal Leaders” thread is shutouts, and we have a couple of doozies at the top of the decade, Bob Gibson and Dean Chance with their excellent seasons in 1968 and 1964 respectively:


Of course, Bob Gibson had a season for the ages in ‘68, throwing 13 shutouts on his way to a microscopic 1.13 earned run average and a 22-9 record. Though how on earth he had NINE losses is beyond me even though I read through all the box scores! It just seems impossible to do!
But in the “Year of the Pitcher” of 1968 all sorts of craziness happened, and Gibson’s loss total was one of them.
The 13 shutouts is good for second all-time in Major League history, tied with Jack Coombs of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1910, and only behind the 16 thrown by Grover Alexander in 1916 and George Bradley in MLB’s inaugural season of 1876.
For Dean Chance, his Cy Young winning 1964 season was also one for the ages, as he cruised to a 20-9 record with a minuscule 1.65 ERA and 11 shutouts over 46 games, with 35 of them starts.
The 11 shutouts are the fourth highest total by a pitcher in any MLB season, and was accomplished by eight hurlers, with only Chance and Sandy Koufax doing it in “modern” times.
As a matter of fact, since Gibson’s 13 shutouts in ‘68, only TWO pitchers have reached double-digits since then, Jim Palmer with 10 in 1975 and John Tudor with the same amount in 1985.
Tim Belcher is the last pitcher to throw as many as eight shutouts in a season, which he accomplished in 1989, a season in which he only posted 15 wins. More than half of his wins were shutouts. Amazing.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1977 HENRY CRUZ

Here’s a “missing” card for Henry Cruz, who I also created a 1979 “missing” card for some time ago:


Cruz appeared in 49 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 1976 season, batting .182 with 16 hits in 88 at-bats while playing all three outfield positions.
He’d find himself in the South Side of Chicago for the ‘77 season, being selected off waivers by the White Sox on September 7th, and for whom he’d play the next two years before playing out his pro career in the minor leagues and Mexico through 1985.
Oddly enough, before being selected by the White Sox in 1977, he was tearing it up in the Pacific Coast League with the Albuquerque Dukes, batting .353 with 88 ribbies and 95 runs scored in 133 games, easily his finest pro season.

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