Sunday, July 23, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION-"IN ACTION" 1972 DAVE GIUSTI

Here’s a “missing” 1972 “In-Action” card for Dave Giusti of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the National League saves leader the previous year with 30, helping the Bucs take home the World Championship:


Giusti originally came up with the Houston Colt .45’s as a 22-year old starter out of Syracuse University in 1962, their inaugural season in the National League.
He appeared in 22 games and posted a 2-3 record with a bloated 5.62 earned run average before spending the entire 1963 season in the Minor Leagues.
After some brief MLB action in 1964, Giusti was a big leaguer for good in 1965, going 8-7 with a 4.32 E.R.A. Along with a shutout as well as three saves for the newly tabbed “Astros”.
After a few more decent seasons as a starter, he found himself in St. Louis for the 1969 season, and thus began his transition to the bullpen, where he’d become a very effective reliever for another eight years, seven of which were with the Pirates.
Between 1970 and 1973 he topped 20 saves each year and posted solid E.R.A.’s, including a career-low of 1.93 in 1972 over 54 appearances and 74.2 innings pitched.
By the time he retired after the 1977 season he appeared in 668 games, 133 of them starts, finishing with a 100-93 record and 3.60 E.R.A., along with the aforementioned 145 saves.
BTW- I am desperately trying to find a nice color image of Giusti suited up for his last MLB stint, the Chicago Cubs for the second half of the 1977 season, so I can make up a 1978 “career-capper”! If anyone can steer me in the right direction I’d be most appreciative!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

TURN BACK THE CLOCK- 1968: HANK AARON SLAMS HIS 500TH HOME RUN

Next up on my “Turn Back the Clock” series is a 10th Anniversary 1978 card celebrating “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron and his 500th career home run, on his way to 255 more to end up as the Major League’s all-time home run champ with 755:


On July 14th of ‘68, Aaron came into the game against the San Francisco Giants with 499, until he connected off of reigning National League Cy Young winner Mike McCormick in the third-inning for a three-run shot.
Of course, playing for the other team was Willie Mays, who was (at the time) one of only six players with 500+ homers in MLB history, along with Aaron’s former teammate Eddie Mathews, who reached the milestone the previous season while with the Houston Astros.
Of course, even though Aaron was already 34 years old, he wasn’t nearly done, as he’d go one to post five consecutive 30+ homer seasons, with three of them more than 40, including what would end up being a career-high 47 in 1971 at the age of 37!
The man was not just about homers however, as evidenced by his 3771 hits, 2174 runs scored, 624 doubles and 2297 runs batted in along with a .305 career average.
All...Time...Great!

Friday, July 21, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1979 DENNIS KINNEY

Here’s a “missing” 1979 card for former lefty-pitcher Dennis Kinney, who’d actually get his true rookie card a couple of years later in 1981:


Kinney had his first taste of the Majors in 1978, splitting the season between the Cleveland Indians, and then the San Diego Padres, for whom he’d pitch the following couple of seasons.
In all during his rookie season Kinney finished 0-3 over 25 games with a 4.73 earned run average over 45.2 innings pitched. I would think that’s enough action to warrant a card in the ‘79 set don’t you?
He would go on to pitch another four years in the big leagues, ending up 4-9 with a 4.55 E.R.A., 75 strikeouts and five saves over 97 games, all of them out of the bullpen for the Padres, Indians, A’s and Tigers.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1974 MARC HILL

Here’s a “not so” missing 1974 card for a guy who’d go on to play 14 seasons in the Major Leagues, former catcher Marc Hill, who was getting his big league start with the St. Louis Cardinals:


Hill appeared in one game for the Cardinals in 1973, at the end of the season, going 0-3 while catching a full game, something he would end up doing until May of 1986.
Generally a back-up catcher his entire career, Hill would play for four teams, with all but three seasons split evenly between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox.
He’d play in 737 games, batting .223 with 404 hits over 1809 at-bats, while also playing a handful of games at first and third base over his time on a big league field.
Until I was putting this together, I never realized that his rookie card in the 1975, shared with three others including a young Expos stud named Gary Carter, was an airbrush job by Topps, as he appeared in 10 games with St. Louis the previous season before finding himself on the West Coast for the ‘75 campaign.
I’ve also read that among the hardest card in the 1970’s to find in true “mint” condition is his 1979 card, which is notorious for being off-center. Don’t know how true this is, but considering I’ve seen this stated in more than one place, I suppose it is.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER- 1971 SUB-SET

Next up in the awards sub-set thread are the 1970 Most Valuable Players, celebrated with a card in the 1971 set, legendary catcher Johnny Bench and Baltimore slugger Boog Powell:


Bench, just two years removed from his Rookie of the Year Award in 1968, took home what would be the first of his two MVP’s in 1970 after a monster season, leading the National League in homers with 45, and runs batted in with 148, along with his third straight Gold Glove and leading the Reds to a pennant.
Keep in mind Bench did all of this at his age-22 season, setting the stage for a Hall of Fame career through the new decade while bringing the city of Cincinnati two championships in 1975 and 1976.
In the American League, we have Boog Powell of the Orioles, who led the team to a World Championship over Bench’s Reds in 1970, their second championship in four years after a disappointing loss against the New York Mets in 1969.
After a third place finish in the award voting in 1966, and as runner-up in 1969, Powell finally brought home the MVP hardware as he slugged 35 home runs with 114 runs batted in with a .297 average for the juggernaut Baltimore team that won 108 games and easily took home the East crown with a 15-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees.
Two slugging stars of the game, one an up-and-coming legend, the other a veteran reaching the top of his game at the age of 29 on his way to a brilliant 17-year Major League career.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

MAJOR LEAGUE FOUNDERS: CHARLIE GOULD 1876-1976

The next “founding” player of professional baseball is Charlie Gould, the only Cincinnati-born player who was on the famed 1869 Red Stockings team who went undefeated over 84 games and was credited as being the first fully professional team put together:


Gould actually began his baseball career in 1863 with a local club, the “Buckeyes”, for whom he’d play through the 1867 before “jumping” to the Red Stocking to assume their first base position the following year.
He’d be a Red Stocking for three seasons, spanning their winning campaigns against all comers, before moving on to the Boston Red Stockings with his Cincinnati teammates in the newly formed National Association.
By then he was considered one of the better defensive players in the game, a game that was still a bare-handed sport, a reputation that stayed with him through his playing days well in the Major Leagues when formed in 1876.
He’d end up playing the first two seasons of the new professional league, finishing up his playing career in 1877 after only 24 games played for the Reds, by then a second-division team far from their glory days.
All in all, he finished a six-year pro career, and a 15-year organized career well-regarded and part of some big-time history for the burgeoning sport before becoming a police officer in Cincinnati, passing away at the age of 69 in 1917.

Monday, July 17, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1978 JOHN CANEIRA

Here’s a 1978 card for a guy who appeared in only six games for the California Angels in 1977. But hey! Always worth a card in my book! A “not so missing” card for former pitcher John Caneira:


Caneira went 2-2 over those six games, with a 4.08 earned run average and 17 strikeouts over 28.2 innings pitched, the first Major League action of his brief two-year career.
When he returned to the mound in 1978, he got into only two games, not factoring in a decision and posting a 7.04 E.R.A., with both appearances being starts for the Angels.
That would be it for him on a big league mound, finishing up with that 2-2 record over eight games, with a 4.71 E.R.A. and 17 strikeouts in 36.1 innings pitched.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

SPECIAL REQUEST: A COACH CARD FOR JIM GILLIAM

Recently on Twitter someone asked me to create a coach card for longtime Dodgers player and coach Jim “Junior” Gilliam. Well here it is: a 1974 edition celebrating the Major League career of the man:


Gilliam started his MLB career in 1953 when he was named the National League rookie of the year, batting .278 with 168 hits, 100 walks, 125 runs scored and a league-leading 17 triples while taking over second base for the eventual league champs. As a matter of fact he would top 100-runs scored his first four seasons in the big leagues, while always making contact, striking out a mere 416 times over 7119 at-bats.
It was pretty much the same for him throughout his 14-year career, all with the Dodger organization as he consistently hovered around those rookie numbers while playing second and third through the 1950’s and 1960’s, giving the team a dependable lead-off hitter who would produce year in and year out.
In 1964 he took his talents to another level when he became a player-coach for the team, becoming a full-time coach in 1967 after retiring as an active player, a position he would have until his untimely death at the age of 49, just days before his 50th birthday in 1978.
A respected member of the Dodgers family, his number “19” was retired by the organization days after his death, just prior to Game 1 of the World Series, in honor of his 28-year tenure as both Major and Minor League player and coach.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

NICKNAMES OF THE 1970'S: "BIG DOG" TONY PEREZ

So how can you be underrated, with over 2700 career hits, 1600 RBI’s, 379 home runs AND a Hall of Fame inductee? When you’re Tony Perez, aka “Big Dog”, on a team that also boasted the likes of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan!
Here’s my nickname card for the RBI-machine during the 1970’s:


Perez was just about “automatic” during the “Big Red Machine” years. Year in and year out you could pencil him in for 20+ homers, 90+ runs batted in, and between 60-70 extra-base-hits.
For eleven straight seasons, between 1967 and 1977, Perez topped 90 RBI’s, with a high of 129 in 1970, when he also hit a career-high 40 home runs for the beginning of what was to be a dominant team on it’s way to two championships and four World Series appearances.
By the time he was done after 23 seasons on a Major League diamond in 1986, Perez hit .279 with 2732 hits, 1272 runs scored, 1652 runs batted in and the aforementioned 379 homers, with “only” seven all-star nods, often overshadowed by his more well-known teammates.
I’ll always remember a statement former Reds’ manager Sparky Anderson made years later, one that I’ve mentioned before here on this blog, when he said that when the Reds traded Perez to the Montreal Expos after the 1976 season, it killed the “Big Red Machine”.
Think about that for a moment.
Just an awesome player who had the (mis)fortune to play alongside a handful of other all-star players who ruled the decade and took home SIX MVP Awards!

Friday, July 14, 2017

NEGRO BASEBALL LEGENDS- BUCK LEONARD

Today’s Negro League legend is Buck Leonard, legendary first baseman for the great Homestead Grays teams of the 1930’s and 1940’s that also had stars like Josh Gibson and Judy Johnson:


Leonard played for the Homestead Grays between 1934 and 1950, often batting cleanup behind Josh Gibson, with whom he was nicknamed the “Thunder Twins” because of their legendary power.
The team were three-time Negro World Series Champions, in 1943, 1944 & 1948, while Leonard was a 13-time all-star selection at First Base and took home the batting title in 1948 with a .395 average.
After his Negro League playing days were over he went on to play in the Mexican League where he would continue playing until 1955, even though he was actually offered a Major League contract in 1952.
However, due to his age, he felt he would hurt the integration of baseball and embarrass himself, so he stayed in Mexico, playing for various teams such as Torreon, Xalapa and Durango.
Fittingly, in 1972 he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with former teammate Josh Gibson, and in 1999 he was ranked #47 in the Sporting News list of “100 Greatest Baseball Players”, only one of five players who played the bulk of their career in Negro League ball.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1972 TY CLINE

Here’s a “missing” career-capping 1972 card for 12-year veteran outfielder Ty Cline, who played the last of his Major League career games in 1971 with the Cincinnati Reds:


Cline appeared in 69 games for the Reds, batting .196 while collecting 19 hits over 97 at-bats, scoring 12 runs.
Originally up as a 21-year-old with the Cleveland Indians in 1960, Cline would go on to play with six organizations during his Big League career, spending the most time with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, along with the Indians, San Francisco Giants, Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs and Reds.
He’d finish his career with 437 hits over 1834 at-bats for a batting average of .238, getting a chance at post season play in 1970 with Cincinnati, going 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1976 KERRY DINEEN

Here’s a “rare” missing New York Yankee, in this case “not so missing”, former outfielder Kerry Dineen, who got his first taste of the big leagues during the 1975 season:


Dineen appeared in seven games for the Yanks, going 8-for-22 for a very nice .364 average in limited play.
He’d get into four games during the 1976 season, collecting two hits over seven at-bats, before spending the following year in the minors before coming back in 1978, this time with the Philadelphia Phillies, playing in five games, the last of his brief career.
He’d finish his MLB tenure with 12 hits in 37 at-bats, hitting .324 with two runs batted in and three runs scored, while spending time at all three outfield positions.
I don’t get much of a chance to create Yankee cards since we all know they were well represented over the years by Topps, something I came to realize as I started this blog and sought out players to design custom cards for.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

CY YOUNG- 1971 SUB-SET

Today we come to the 1971 sub-set celebrating the big award winners of the year before, in this case the Cy Young Award, given to Bob Gibson of the Cardinals and Jim Perry of the Twins:


Gibson took home his second such award, winning it for the first time in 1968 when he also was named the National League MVP for his season of a lifetime.
Though his 1970 wasn’t as incredible, it was still awesome, as he posted a 23-7 record along with a 3.12 earned run average, three shutouts and a career-high 274 strikeouts while also getting his sixth Gold Glove.
The 1970 season would be the last of his five 20-win seasons in his career, along with the eighth of nine career 200-K campaigns.
Over in the American League, Jim Perry would be named the top pitcher in the league with his 24-12 record, along with a 3.04 E.R.A., four shutouts and 168 strikeouts in a very tight race.
While Perry took the award with his 55 overall points in voting, he barely edged out the Baltimore Orioles Dave McNally, who received 47 points based on his 24-9 record, while teammate Mike Cuellar actually matched Perry’s six 1st Place votes, ending up with 44 points overall as he also posted 24 wins, against only eight losses.
Cleveland Indians fire-baller Sam McDowell was sandwiched in between Oriole hurlers with 45 points, receiving four first place votes based on his 20-12 record with a league-leading 304 strikeouts to go with a nice 2.92 E.R.A.
Ironically, Perry’s younger brother Gaylord would finish a distant second in the N.L. voting with his 23-13 record, along with a 3.20 E.R.A., five shutouts and 214 strikeouts.
How awesome is that?!

Monday, July 10, 2017

"BASEBALL STARS OF 1930" CHECKLIST




I've been asked to print a checklist of the players in the recently released custom "1930 Baseball Stars" set, and rightly so. Should have done it earlier.
So here you go:

BABE RUTH
LOU GEHRIG
BILL DICKEY
TONY LAZZERI
EARL COMBS
SAM RICE
JOE CRONIN
WALTER JOHNSON (MGR)
GOOSE GOSLIN
HEINIE MANUSH
CHARLIE GEHRINGER
DALE ALEXANDER
WES FERRELL
JOE SEWELL
EARL AVERILL
LEFTY GROVE
MICKEY COCHRANE
JIMMIE FOXX
AL SIMMONS
CONNIE MACK (MGR)
TED LYONS
BURLEIGH GRIMES
JIM BOTTOMLEY
CARL HUBBELL
BILL TERRY
FREDDIE LINDSTROM
MEL OTT
JOHN McGRAW (MGR)
DAZZY VANCE
BABE HERMAN
PIE TRAYNOR
PAUL WANER
LLOYD WANER
CHUCK KLEIN
LEFTY O’DOUL
EPPA RIXEY
GABBY HARTNETT
ROGERS HORNSBY
KIKI CUYLER
HACK WILSON

Still have some sets left but they are moving fast!
Thanks to all who already ordered!
Those who ordered through this morning had their sets shipped this afternoon.
 
 





NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1972 BILL LAXTON

Here’s a “not so missing” 1972 card for pitcher Bill Laxton of the San Diego Padres, who would actually get his 1st (and only) card years later in the 1977 set as a member of the inaugural Seattle Mariners team:


Laxton had his first taste of the Major Leagues in 1970, appearing in two games of relief work before coming back in 1971 and appearing in 18 games for the Padres, pitching 27.2 innings and collecting two-losses against no wins, with an earned run average at 6.83.
Sadly for him he’d spend the next two seasons in the Minors before making it back in 1974, playing 30 games, all but one out of the bullpen, going 0-1 with a 4.03 E.R.A.
Again, he’d spend the following year in the Minors before making it back, this time with the Detroit Tigers where he’d go 0-5 with a 4.09 E.R.A., getting three starts while picking up a couple of saves over 26 games and 94.2 innings pitched, his career high.
In 1977, which would be his last taste of the big leagues, Laxton would split the year with the new Seattle Mariner team and the Cleveland Indians, for whom he’d play the final two games of his career, going a combined 3-2 with a 4.96 E.R.A. over 45 games and 74.1 innings pitched, leaving him with a career record of 3-10 with a 4.73 E.R.A., with five saves over 121 games and 243.1 innings pitched.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

"1930 BASEBALL STARS" 40-CARD SET AVAILABLE NOW!






Hello everyone!
Just wanted to announce the availability of a 40-card set I produced based on the 1930 season.
I've always been obsessed by that season of huge offensive numbers, and I thought it'd be a cool set to make.
I based the design on the cards of the day, like the George C. Miller set or Tattoo Orbit, favorites of mine.
The set has 40 top stars of that historic season (20 A.L., 20 N.L.), on thick 2.5" x 2.5" card-stock, with bio and stats on back: American League in red and National League in blue print.
Check out the photos and email me if you're interested in purchasing one, or if you have any questions.
I wanted to make a set for myself, but the printer I used had a 25-set minimum.
I am keeping two sets for myself, and making the rest available to anyone who wants one.
They are $25 postpaid, and I promise I am not making any profit off of it! Once you see the quality of the cards you'll understand why.
They really came out amazing!
The cards come in a box with printed wrap, and get shipped securely in a box-mailer to be sure they arrive in perfect condition!
Thanks!
All the best to you all,
Gio/wthballs

TURN BACK THE CLOCK-1968: DON DRYSDALE'S INCREDIBLE SHUTOUT STREAK

Next up in my on-going “Turn Back the Clock” series is 1968 and Don Drysdale’s amazing shutout streak, a record that remained intact until another Dodger pitcher, Orel Hershiser, topped it exactly 20 years later:


Drysdale was coming towards the end of his Hall of Fame career in 1968 because of a chronically sore shoulder, but in May & June of 1968 he was just incredible, tossing six straight shutouts, on his way to 58 2/3 shutout innings pitched, topping Walter Johnson’s 55 2/3 innings in 1913.
Ironically, just about as Drysdale’s streak was ending, one of the other longest such streaks began, as St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Bob Gibson began a 47-inning stretch of shutout ball that encompassed the entire month of June.
Drysdale would finish the season with a record of 14-12, with a 2.15 earned run average and eight shutouts over 31 starts, 12 of them completed.
The following year, because of his constant shoulder pain, Drysdale decided to retire after going 5-4 with a 4.45 E.R.A. over 12 games, finishing his career with 209 wins and a very nice 2.95 E.R.A., with 49 shutouts and 2486 strikeouts in 14 Major League seasons.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

FUTURE STARS- GEORGE BRETT

The next “Future Stars” card in my 1978 series is none other than George Brett, who was well on his way to a Hall of Fame career by the time this card would have come out:


Brett already had a batting title under his belt, which he won in 1976, and was about to blow the doors wide-open on his baseball legacy a couple of years later when he hit .390 on his way to an American League MVP Award in 1980.
Then he would go and win a third batting title at the age of 37 in 1990 when he topped the league with a .329 average while also leading the league with 45 doubles!
The man was born to hit, and would finish his career with 3154 hits, a .305 average, 317 homers and let’s not forget the 201 stolen bases and 137 triples!
The 13-time all-star was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1993, getting named to 98.2% of the ballot.
Again, I always wonder who the asses were that left him OFF the ballot that first year!

Friday, July 7, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 WINSTON LLENAS

Here’s a “missing” 1973 card for a guy I already produced a “missing” 1976 card a while back, former infielder Winston Llenas of the California Angels:


Llenas, who spent all six of his MLB seasons in an Angels uniform, played in 44 games during the 1972 season, batting .266 with 17 hits over 64 at-bats.
Never more than a spot player, Llenas played every spot on the field but Shortstop, center & catcher over the years, finishing up with a .230 career average, with 122 hits over 531 at-bats in 300 big league games, with 50 runs scored and 61 runs batted in, with only 20 extra base hits in that time.
That is such a “70’s season” right there for an infielder of the time isn’t it?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 LARRY GOWELL

Here’s a “not so missing” 1973 card for a New York Yankee pitcher who put in a grand total of two Major League games during his brief career, Larry Gowell:


Gowell’s sum total of two appearances in a Major League uniform came on September 21st and October 4th of 1972, pitching seven innings and allowing just one run for a sparkling 1.29 earned run average, though he did go 0-1.
A Yankees fourth round pick in 1967, he spent his entire eight-year pro career in their system, posting a few nice seasons in the Minors, with win total of 18, 15 and 14 in 1969, 1971 and 1972.
He would pitch through the 1974 season before leaving pro-ball for good, with a great 2.88 career pro E.R.A., 78 wins and 19 shutouts over 192 Minor League games.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

NEGRO BASEBALL LEGENDS- OSCAR CHARLESTON

The next Negro Baseball Leagues legend in the long-running series celebrating Jackie Robinson’s 25th anniversary of breaking the color-barrier in 1972 is the great center-fielder and manager Oscar Charleston:


One of the most renowned players of his time, Charleston is credited with a lifetime .353 career average with a .576 slugging percentage over his long career that spanned 1915 through 1941.
Not only was he one of the top players of his generation regardless of league, he also was one of the top managers.
In 1932 Charleston was player-manager for perhaps the greatest team In Negro League history, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, who had among their players Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and Judy Johnson!
In 1976, Cooperstown rightfully elected the all-time great to the Baseball Hall of Fame, capping off the extraordinary career that regrettably didn’t get a chance to show it’s talent on a Major League level, but nevertheless did NOT go unnoticed.
For more on Charleston’s career, and that of all the other greats that played in the Negro Leagues, please do yourself a favor and just Google the league and it’s players for amazing stories, history and events. It’s all easily found and a great foundation  to build off of for further reading.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1970 WOODIE HELD

Here’s a “missing career-capping” 1970 card for Woodie Held, a guy who had a nice 14-year career that started out in 1954 with the New York Yankees:


Held put in some nice seasons in the ‘60’s with the Cleveland Indians, averaging about 20 homers a year between 1959 through 1964 before heading over to the Washington Senators and hitting 16 more homers in 1965.
He was also able to play both the outfield and infield, putting in equal time with around 500 career games between the two, mainly in center field and shortstop.
In 1969, his final season, he played in 56 games for the Chicago White Sox, batting .143 with nine hits over 63 at-bats, with three homer and six runs batted in.
For his career, Held finished with a .240 average and 179 homers, with 559 RBI’s over 1390 games played and 4019 at-bats.

Monday, July 3, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION "IN ACTION"- SPARKY ANDERSON

I’ve never done a “missing” 1972 In-Action card for a manager before, but what better guy to create one for than the Reds Sparky Anderson?
Take a look:


Anderson, who only played one season, albeit a full season, as a player in the Major Leagues back in 1959 with the Philadelphia Phillies, began what would end up being a Hall of Fame managerial career in 1970, taking over the Cincinnati Reds at JUST the right time.
It would begin a run that would arguably make the Reds the team of the 1970’s, aka the “Big Red Machine” with guys like Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez.
They’d take home four National League pennants and two World Championships during the decade, with five first place finishes and three second place finishes with Sparky at the helm between 1970 and 1978.
As if all that wasn’t enough already, Anderson would switch gears and take charge of the Detroit Tigers in 1979, a position he would hold for the next 17 years, brining home another championship in 1984 during their magical season that saw them start the year at 35-5!
By the time he was done managing in the Majors, he put in 26 seasons, all with the Reds and Tigers between 1970 and 1995, finishing with 2194 wins and a .545 winning percentage, topping 100 wins three times and winning the aforementioned three championships and five pennants.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

NEGATIVE SPOTLIGHT: 1972 JIM FREGOSI BOYHOOD PHOTOS

Found this negative that was used for Jim Fregosi’s 1972 “Childhood Photo’s” card and wanted to spotlight it today. Check out the painted image and how it was used by Topps:


It’s strange that because it was just used as an inset on the bottom right of the card, the terrible, and I mean TERRIBLE, paint job on the photo doesn’t look as bad as when you see the actual negative used.
Holy cow! The pink logo, the pen-like outline on the cap. It’s all there!
Of course this all just brings up the harsh reminders for Mets fans that Fregosi came to the team in a trade that sent future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan to the California Angels, perhaps the worst trade in the organization’s history.
Though to be fair, Fregosi was the best hitting shortstop in the American League during the 1960’s, was a six-time all-star that received MVP votes every season between 1963 and 1970. And was still only 30 years of age, with Ryan being a young fireballer who could not get his fastball in control at the time.
So really it wasn’t, AT THAT TIME, such a ridiculous trade. Just turned out to be in the coming seasons with Fregosi’s downturn in performance, and Ryan’s immediate impact for the Angels.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

TURN BACK THE CLOCK 1968: JIM HUNTER TOSSES PERFECT GAME

Today we celebrate Jim “Catfish” Hunter’s perfect game from May 8th, 1968 versus the Minnesota Twins:


The future Hall of Fame pitcher held the hard-hitting Twins in check, which is amazing when you consider this line-up consisted of: 10 batting championships, 6 homer champions, and nine total-hits champions!
The Twins line-up that day had Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Cesar Tovar and Harmon Killebrew as the first four batters! Incredible to think Hunter mowed them down one by one.
What is often forgotten is that the hitting star that day for the Oakland Athletics was none other than Hunter himself, going 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBI’s in the 4-0 win.
Of course, at the time Hunter was just a 22-year old .500 pitcher for the organization, a few years before he’d become the five-time 20-game winner we all remember.
It was the 1st regular season perfect game in the American League since Charlie Robertson tossed one in April 30, 1922 for the White Sox in their win over the Detroit Tigers.

Friday, June 30, 2017

1975 IN-ACTION: JOE MORGAN

Time to go and give the elite player of 1975 his “In Action” card, the “Big Red Machine” spark-plug Joe Morgan, who was at the top of his game on his way to two straight Most Valuable Player Awards:


Morgan was a beast in the mid-70’s, racking up the hits, runs, runs batted in and steals, getting on base any way he could to help lead the Cincinnati charge to consecutive World Championships.
When you’re on a squad that also has the likes of Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez and George Foster, and YOU come out on top, you know you’re doing ok!
“Little Joe”!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1977 GARY BEARE

Today’s “missing” card is a 1977 Gary Beare, former pitcher of the Milwaukee Brewers, who made his MLB debut during the 1976 season:


Beare appeared in six games for the Brewers, five of them starts, as he went on to post a 2-3 record with a nice 3.29 earned run average over 41 innings.
Those five decisions are basically why I considered him “missing” and not “barely missing”.
He’d pitch the following season, going 3-3 with a bloated 6.44 E.R.A., with six starts among his 17 appearances.
He’d even appear in the 1978 Topps set for his efforts.
But that would be it for his MLB action, finishing his two year career with a 5-6 record over 23 games, with a 5.15 E.R.A. in 99.2 innings of work.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1970 ALEC DISTASO

Here’s yet another “not really missing” 1970 Chicago Cubs card (I’m just a sucker for them), this one of two-game Major League pitcher Alec Distaso:


Distaso’s Major League career encompassed just three days, April 20, 1969-April 22, 1969, when he appeared in two games, not factoring in a decision and ending up with a 3.86 earned run average over 4.2 innings pitched.
He’d spend the following season in Chicago’s minor league system, sporting a 4-8 record with an 8.36 earned run average over 17 appearances before leaving the game for good at the age of 21.
As I have stated before, I just love the Chicago Cubs cards in the 1970 set. Something so classic about the uniforms, and I always felt the colors went well with the 1970 card design.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

AN AIRBRUSHING MASTERPIECE FOR JOHN D'ACQUISTO IN 1977

As mentioned recently on the blog when I posted my “missing 1978 John D’Acquisto card, his 1977 card showing him as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals was one of the better airbrush jobs Topps had during that era. Take a look:


Now that is some effort!
Just a great job with the action shot to have the uniform and cap just right. I have to say there is nothing cheesy about this!
D’Acquisto found himself in St. Louis after being traded as part of the deal that brought Willie Crawford out West.
But wouldn’t you know it, he would be on the move just about a month into the new season when he was traded over to San Diego for Butch Metzger on May 17th of ‘77,where he would be the next three and a half seasons.
By the time he hung up the cleats after the 1982 season, D’Acquisto finished with a record of 34-51 along with a 4.56 earned run average over 266 games and 779.2 innings pitched.

Monday, June 26, 2017

WTHBALLS ISSUE #12: "MISSING IN ACTION" 1979 NOW AVAILABLE


Hey everyone,
That time again. The next “WTHBALLS” magazine (issue #12) the “missing” 1979’s, is now available for purchase.
All the 1979 “missing” cards I’ve designed to this point, including players like Jim Bouton, Dave May and Mike Marshall, who is also the subject of the bonus postcard (with alternate action-shot) are in here.
Anyone interested in ordering can go right ahead and paypal me $7 at: john@slogun.com and I’ll get an issue out to you asap.
Thank you all for the interest! 
All the best!
Gio/wthballs

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1975 LANCE CLEMONS

Here’s a “not so missing” 1975 card for former Boston Red Sox pitcher Lance Clemons, who had a taste of the Majors over three brief seasons:


Clemons, who originally came up in 1971 with the Kansas City Royals, appeared in six games for Boston during the 1974 season, compiling a 1-0 record with a 9.95 earned run average over 6.1 innings of work, all out of the ‘pen.
It was his first action back since 1972 while with the St. Louis Cardinals, when he went 0-1 over three games and 5.1 innings pitched.
However, that 1974 activity with the Red Sox would be the last action he’d see on the big league level, finishing up with a 2-1 record along with a 6.06 earned run average in 19 appearances and 35.2 innings.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

MAJOR LEAGUE FOUNDERS: JOHN MORRILL 1876-1976

Here’s the next “Founders” card in the long-running series of mine, this one of former Boston Red Stocking John Morrill:


A man who every position during the course of his 15-year career, he was predominantly a first baseman, playing all but one season for Boston, including his final season in the Players League in 1890 playing for the Boston Reds.
Playing his 1st pro season in 1876, the inaugural National League season that gave birth to the current Major Leagues, Morrill, batted .263 while mainly handling second base and catcher.
He would finish his career with a .260 batting average, while collecting 1275 hits over 4912 at-bats in 1265 games.
He would also manage the Red Stockings between 1882 and 1888 (now the Beaneaters), while also managing the Washington Nationals in 1889, finishing his managerial career with a 335 and 296 record, winning the Pennant in 1883.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

TURN BACK THE CLOCK- DENNY McLAIN DOMINATES IN 1968, WINS 31 GAMES

Next up in the “Turn Back the Clock” series is a 1978 card celebrating the 10th anniversary of Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain and his incredible season which saw him win 31 games, the last pitcher (ever?) to do so:


While the Tigers were on their way to a World Championship, the 24-year old McLain led the way anchoring the staff with an incredible 31-6 record, along with a 1.96 earned run average, 280 strikeouts, six shutouts and completing 28 of 41 starts!
Not only was that good for the Cy Young Award, but he also took home the Most Valuable Player Award as well.
Of course 1968 will forever be known as the “Year of the Pitcher”, but it does not take away from what McLain accomplished.
He would lead the league in wins, winning percentage, complete games and innings pitched that year, and would follow it up with another Cy Young season in 1969 when he posted a 24-9 record along with a 2.80 E.R.A., nine shutouts and 181 strikeouts in 41 starts.
What an amazing run!

Friday, June 23, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1974 STEVE HOVLEY

Here’s a “missing” 1974 card for a guy who played in 104 games with 232 at-bats the previous year, Steve Hovley of the Kansas City Royals:


Granted, those would be the final games of Hovley’s career, but man unless Topps knew this ahead of time, how did this guy get left out of the set?
Hovley batted .254 in 1973 with 59 hits over those 232 at-bats, along with 10 extra base hits and 24 runs batted in.
It would close out a decent 5-year career that had him bat .258 with 263 hits, 122 runs scored and 88 RBI’s over 436 games, including his rookie year of 1969 as one of the one-year Seattle Pilots.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1978 FRED ANDREWS

Here’s another “not so missing” card of a player that played the last of his Major League games by the time this card would have come out, former second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies Fred Andrews:


Andrews appeared in 12 games for Philadelphia in 1977, batting .174 with four hits over 23 at-bats, with a triple and two runs batted in thrown in.
This would be after his first four games as a big league player in 1976 when he went 4-for-6 in a cup-of-coffee at the age of 24.
His totals in the Majors would end up being eight hits in 29 at-bats in 16 lifetime games, with a .276 batting average and four runs scored.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR- 1970 SUB-SET

Here is the next and final Award sub-set card for the 1970 set, the Rookie of the Year winners of the previous year, Ted Sizemore of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National league and Lou Piniella of the Kansas City Royals for the American League:


Sizemore, who was getting his first taste of the big leagues, ended up playing in 159 games for the Dodgers and batting .271 with 160 hits over 590 at-bats.
He scored 69 runs, with 29 extra base hits and 46 runs batted in, while walking 45 times against 40 strikeouts.
Over in the American League, Lou Piniella was freed from his tenure with the Seattle Pilots the year before and was able to put together a very nice rookie campaign with a .282 batting average based on 139 hits in 493 at-bats over 135 games.
He hit 11 homers and drove in 68 runs while scoring 43 himself, ending up with nine votes, three more than runner-up Mike Nagy of the Boston Red Sox, who had a great rookie year when he posted a 12-2 record along with a 3.11 earned run average over 196.2 innings pitched.
Some other notables who got some votes were Al Oliver, who finished second in the N.L. freshman race, while Carlos May of the Chicago White Sox finished third in the A.L.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1972 DAVE ROBINSON

Here’s a “not so missing” 1972 card for a player who already played the last of his Major League games, former San Diego Padres outfielder Dave Robinson:


Robinson played in seven games for San Diego during the 1971 season, all off the bench as a pinch-hitter, going 0-6 at the plate with a walk.
The previous season he had his first taste of the big leagues when he appeared in 15 games for the Padres, batting a very nice .316 with 12 hits over 38 at-bats with a couple of homers and six runs batted in.
That would be it for him in the Majors however, and he would finish his brief career with a .273 average, with 12 hits in 44 at-bats over 22 games.
Oddly, I don’t know what happened, but he never appeared in a game, Major or Minor, ever again, with his pro career lasting three years total.

Monday, June 19, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1978 JOHN D'ACQUISTO

You know, until recently I never realized that former pitcher John D’Acquisto was “missing” from the 1978 Topps set. Just one of those players from my childhood that seemed to be in all the late-70’s sets.
Anyway, though it was a lot harder to find than I thought it would be, I did find one suitable image to use to whip one up:


The San Diego, CA native found himself pitching for the Padres after being traded there by the St. Louis Cardinals in May of 1977.
Splitting his season between the Cardinals and Padres, D’Acquisto posted a 1-2 record along with a 6.54 earned run average over 20 appearances and 52.1 innings pitched.
He’d have a nice 1978 season mainly out of the bullpen, going 4-3 with a 2.13 E.R.A., 10 saves and 104 strikeouts in only 93 innings.
He would go on to pitch another four seasons in the big leagues, taking the mound for not only the Padres, but the Expos, Angels and A’s, for whom he would make his final 11 appearances in 1982.
Over his 10-year career D’Acquisto would finish 34-51, with a 4.56 E.R.A., 600 strikeouts and 15 saves over 266 games and 779.2 innings pitched.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

1975 IN-ACTION: BOBBY BONDS

The next 1975 “In-Action” card is of slugging speedster Bobby Bonds, about as electric a player when this card would have come out as there was at the time:


Bonds was actually traded to the New York Yankees in October of 1974, taking his 30/30 talents to the Bronx, where he would not disappoint with 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases, at the time his third such seasons on his way to five overall in his 14-year career.
By the time he left the Majors after the 1981 season, he retired with 332 homers and 461 stolen bases, along with 1258 runs scored and 1024 runs batted in over 1849 games and 7043 at bats.
It’s a shame that by the time he turned 34 his best days were behind him. I never really understood why he dropped off the radar so quickly after a really good season with the Cleveland Indians in 1979.
The following year he found himself with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he would only play in 86 games, before just 45 games in ‘81 with the Chicago Cubs, the last of his career.
An incredible talent, just seems that after his first seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants, no one really wanted to keep him around, playing for seven teams in seven years between 1975 and 1981.

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