Tuesday, September 19, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1978 BRUCE KIMM

Here’s a “not so missing” 1978 card for former catcher Bruce Kimm, who had his first baseball card the previous year as part of the 1977 set:


Kimm appeared in only 14 games for the Tigers, batting .080 with two hits over 25 official at-bats while catching, after a rookie year that saw him play in 63 games, batting a respectable .263 with 40 hits in 152 at-bats, while being used as Mark Fidrych’s personal catcher.
He would spend the 1978 season in the Minors before making it back to the Majors in 1979, though as a member of the Chicago Cubs, where he played in nine games, the only games he’d appear in for the North-Siders.
In 1980 he would see the most action of his short career, this time with the team who drafted him back in 1969, the Chicago White Sox.
In what would turn out to be his last year as a Major League player, Kimm appeared in 100 games, batting .243 with 61 hits over 251 at-bats for the White Sox.
In his brief four-year career, he’d bat .237 with 104 hits in 439 at-bats, spread out over 186 games, before moving on to managing in the minor leagues, with a Major League managerial stint in 2002 with the Cubs thrown in.
Sadly for him, he was let go at the end of the season, with Dusty Baker hired to lead the eventual Central Division champs, leading to the memorable 2003 National League Championship series against the Florida Marlins.

Monday, September 18, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION (SORT OF)- 1979 ALAN WIRTH

Here’s a card that wasn’t necessarily “missing”, but should have been part of the 1979 set in my opinion as presented today, a solo card for Oakland A’s pitcher Alan Wirth:


Wirth was actually on the A’s multi-player rookie cards at the end of the set, those ugly as sin black and white cards that truly had no business being as such in 1979 (really? No color?).
But when you take a look at his 1978 season, you can make the argument that he deserved a solo card based on his 16 games, 14 of which were starts, with a 5-6 record and 3.43 earned run average over 81.1 innings pitched.
To me THAT is not someone who gets a slot on a multi-player rookie card, that is enough action to get a dedicated card of his own.
So here it is, all these years later.
Sadly for Wirth, that action in 1979 is the bulk of his Major League career, as he’d appear in five and two games the following two season, picking up one more win before his big league career came to a close.
All told, he finished with a record of 6-6, with a 3.78 E.R.A., 39 strikeouts and one shutout over 23 appearances and 95.1 innings pitched.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1977 DANNY WALTON

Here’s a “not so” missing card for a guy who I have previously created THREE missing cards through the 1970’s, Danny Walton, who suited up for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 1976 season, albeit briefly:


Walton’s 1976 season consisted of 18 games, hitting .133 with two hits over 15 official at-bats while assuming a pinch-hitting (??) role.
Previously I created a 1972 card for him as a New York Yankee, and both a 1974 and 1976 card while he was playing for the Minnesota Twins.
His only full season came in 1970 while with the Milwaukee Brewers, when he hit .257 with 17 home runs and 66 runs batted in over 117 games and 454 plate appearances.
As I’ve written before, in between all of that Major League action, Walton put in some monster Minor League years, most notably in 1977 when he hit 42 homers with 122 RBI’s and 117 runs scored for Albuquerque, the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate.
For his MLB career, he’d finish with a .223 batting average along with 174 hits in 779 at-bats, with 28 homers and 107 RBI’s between 1968 and 1980.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

NEGRO BASEBALL LEGENDS- LEON DAY

Today we add the great Leon Day to my long-running 1972 card set celebrating the legends of the Negro Leagues, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995:


The seven-time Negro League all-star is not remembered as much as some of his contemporaries such as Satchel Paige, but is often in the conversation when “best pitcher” comes up with those who know Negro League history.
According to records on hand, Day’s career record stood at 64-29 with an earned run average of 2.98, spanning 1934 and 1950.
In 1937, with the “Million Dollar Infield” behind him, he had his best season, going 13-0 with a 3.02 E.R.A., while also batting .320 with eight home runs.
A versatile player, over the course of his career Day would play every position outside of catching when he wasn’t on the mound, and many suggested that he would have been better suited to play the outfield on a full-time player so his bat would be in the line-up everyday.
But it is hard to argue the simple fact that Day was a master pitcher, setting the Negro League record for strikeouts in a game with 18 when he threw a one-hit shutout against the Baltimore Elite Giants.
On opening day, May 5th 1946, as he returned from serving in the military, Day promptly tossed a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Stars, beating them 2-0, on his way to leading the league in wins, strikeouts and complete games.
A soft-spoken and reserved man, Day was not one to boast of his talents, or to draw attention to his on-the-field accomplishments, and many suggest that this is why many do not know of his greatness as an all-around ballplayer, both on the mound and at the plate.
Nevertheless, as stated before, Day was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame just days before his passing in 1995 at the age of 78, fulfilling a dream of his, and rightfully so.

Friday, September 15, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1974 ALAN CLOSTER

Here’s a 1974 card that wasn’t really “missing”, an Alan Closter Atlanta Braves card, for whom he played the final games of his brief Major League career in 1973:


Closter appeared in four games, all out of the ‘pen, getting hit hard with seven earned runs and seven hits over 4.1 innings, to the tune of a 14.54 earned run average.
Originally up with the Washington Senators in 1966, he wouldn’t see a Major League mound again until he was back, now with the New York Yankees, in 1971, for whom he’d play the next two seasons, albeit briefly.
The only big league decisions he’d get were in 1971, when he posted a record of 2-2 along with a 5.08 E.R.A., appearing in 14 games with a start thrown in among them.
After those aforementioned four games with Atlanta in 1973, he would pitch for the Braves Minor League system through the 1975 season, then call it a career after eleven seasons as a pro, four of them in the Major Leagues.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

1977 BLUE JAYS REDONE- OTTO VELEZ

The next expansion “do-over” from 1977 is the Toronto Blue Jays’ Otto Velez, who got to play full-time after four brief seasons with the New York Yankees:


Velez, who was the 53rd pick in the 1976 expansion draft, had a decent year for the Jays in 1977 when he batted .256 with 16 homers and 62 runs batted in.
He would stay with the team for the next five years, hitting as many as 20 homers (1980) as well as matching the ‘77 RBI total that very same year.
As for the original Topps 1977 card, this one was one of the better airbrush jobs, since there wasn’t much to airbrush! Nevertheless it was a nice job with the logo on the cap.
Velez would put 11 years in the Major Leagues, batting .251 with 78 homers and 272 runs batted in, while collecting 452 hits in 1802 at-bats over 637 games.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1971 DICK COLPAERT

Today I post up a “not so missing” 1971 card for former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dick Colpaert, who appeared in the only Major League action he’d see in his career during the 1970 season:


Colpaert came into eight games during 1970, all out of the bullpen, and proceeded to post a 1-0 record with a 5.91 earned run average over 10.2 innings pitched.
He spent eight years toiling in the Minors before that sole taste of the big leagues, pitching for the Baltimore Orioles Appleton D-Level team in 1962 as an 18-year-old before moving over the the Pittsburgh organization in 1963, where he’d stay through the 1972 season.
He’d stick around until 1974, playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox, getting into a dozen games before calling it a career, getting that one taste of the big time in 1970, leading to this card.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1976 TOMMY MOORE

Here’s a “missing” 1976 card for a pitcher who had 22 appearances during the 1975 season, Tommy Moore, who split time with the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers:


Moore, who didn’t see any Major League action in 1974 after playing the previous two years with the New York Mets, was back up in 1975, now as a Cardinal, and saw 10 games out of the bullpen though not factoring in a decision.
He posted a 3.86 earned run average with six strikeouts over 18.2 innings of work before being traded to the Rangers along with Ed Brinkman for Willie Davis, former Los Angeles star outfielder.
The change of scenery did not do him any favors, as he proceeded to post an 0-2 record over twelve games and 21 innings along with an unsightly 8.14 E.R.A.
He’d miss the 1976 season, putting up a decent year in the Minors, before making it back to the Majors in 1977 with the last 14 games of his career, this time as a Seattle Mariners player.
All told for his Major League career, Moore posted a 2-4 record with a 5.40 E.R.A. and 40 strikeouts over 42 appearances, all but three of them as a reliever.

Monday, September 11, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1978 MIKE DIMMEL

Here’s a 1977 card for a guy who got his first taste of the big show in 1977, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Mike Dimmel, who appeared in 25 games:


Dimmel generally saw action as a defensive replacement or pinch runner, going 0-8 at the plate with a stolen base and eight runs scored as a September call-up.
Over the next two seasons he’d see even less time on a Major League field, getting into eight and six games respectively in 1978 and 1979, though he did pick up his sole MLB hit in 1979 when he went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
He’d play out the last two seasons of pro ball with the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees minor league systems, before leaving the game for good as a player  after the 1980 season.
All told, he appeared in 39 games, going 1-for-8 with eleven runs scored while filling in all three outfield spots, in his brief career.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

1975 IN-ACTION: ANDY MESSERSMITH

Next in line for an “In-Action” card for the 1975 set is the 1974 All-Star game starter for the National League, Andy Messersmith of the Los Angeles Dodgers:


Messersmith was having a wonderful career by the time the mid-70’s were in fully swing, having won 20-games for the second time in his career in 1974 when he posted a 20-6 mark along with a nice 2.59 earned run average and 221 strikeouts.
He’d finish second to teammate Mike Marshall and his historic season out of the bullpen for the Cy Young Award, and would also take home the first of two straight Gold Gloves.
In his seven seasons as a big league pitcher at that point, Messersmith’s highest season E.R.A. was 3.01, which he had in 1970 while with the California Angels.
In every other season in the Majors he posted E.R.A.’s under 3.00, and would finish his career with an amazing 2.86 mark after twelve years, with a record of 130-99 and 1625 strikeouts with 27 shutouts before injuries forced him to retire at the age of only 33 in 1979.
An underrated pitcher who sadly never got to play out his career to it’s fullest, he certainly maintained a top-notch level when he was healthy.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER AWARD- 1973 SUB-SET

Today we move on to the 1972 Most Valuable Players in my “Awards” sub-set running through the decade, imagining if Topps would have had such a theme in their sets during the 1970’s:


Of course, in the National league we had Johnny Bench pretty much taking over the baseball world with his second MVP Award in three years, and STILL only 24 years of age, when he slammed a league-leading 40 home runs with 125 runs batted in while taking the Cincinnati Reds back to the World Series.
It was the beginning of the monster we’d get to know as the “Big Red Machine”, with other future Hall of Fame members like Tony Perez and Joe Morgan, along with Pete Rose. But it was Bench that was the on-field general leading the way for one of the all-time great runs by an organization.
He wasn’t all offense mind you, as evidenced by his fifth straight Gold Glove. His fifth, and again I have to mention he was only 24! Incredible talent.
Over in the American League, we had another former Rookie of the Year winner in Chicago White Sox “thumper”, or should I say “Walloper”, in Dick Allen, who came ever so close to taking home the Triple Crown with his fantastic season.
All Allen did that year was lead the American League in homers (37), runs batted in (113), walks (99), OBP (.420) and slugging (.603) while missing out on the batting title by hitting .308 to Rod Carew’s .318. Yep, that close to immortality in the baseball achievement category for Allen.
Two great players from the decade taking home baseball’s biggest prize as far as personal awards go, a great season all around for fans.

Friday, September 8, 2017

NEGRO BASEBALL LEGENDS- RAY DANDRIDGE

The next Negro League legend we profile in my ongoing 1972 sub-set celebrating what would have been the 25th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut is Ray Dandridge, one of the game’s great third baseman:


Dandridge put in over 20 years of ball both here in the States and abroad, playing almost ten years in Mexico in the 1940’s, and along the way was a three-time all-star who had a lifetime Negro League batting average of .355 according to some sources.
A part of what came to be named the “Million Dollar Infield”, he teamed up with other all-time greats Dick Seay, Mule Suttles and Willie Wells playing for the Newark Eagles during the 1930’s before leaving for Mexico, and was considered one of the greatest fielders at his position in Negro League history.
Sadly, by the time Major League baseball integrated in 1947, Dandridge, who could still play as evidenced by his great seasons in Minor League ball, including an MVP season in the American Association in 1950 and a batting title when he hit .362 the year before, he never received a shot at the “big time” because of his age.
Some say he easily could have been the player to integrate MLB since Bill Veeck of the Cleveland Indians contacted Dandridge to come play in the Indians’ organization. However, comfortable and well-paid playing in Mexico, he decided it was a better situation for his family at the time.
After his playing days ended in 1955, he did accept work in the Major Leagues as a scout, doing so for the New York Giants and was a mentor to a young Willie Mays, before running a recreational center in Newark for many years.
In 1987, he joined many former Negro League legends in Cooperstown when he was elected by the Veteran’s Committee, securing his baseball legacy.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1974 SAM EWING

Here’s a “not missing” 1974 de-facto rookie card for Same Ewing, future member of the inaugural Toronto Blue Jays of 1977, who got his first taste of the big leagues in 1973 with the Chicago White Sox:


Ewing appeared in 11 games for Chicago during the 1973 season, batting .150 with three hits over 20 at-bats, while playing first base.
He’d be stuck in the minors the next couple of seasons, putting up nice numbers before getting called up again in 1976 after hitting a very nice .351 for the White Sox Triple-A team Iowa Oaks.
In November of 1976, he’d be selected by the Toronto Blue Jays as the 57th pick of the expansion draft, and he’d have a nice year for the new organization, batting .287 with 34 runs batted in over 97 games in their first year as a Major League club.
However, after hitting only .179 in 1978, he’d find himself in the Minors again, before playing in Japan during the 1979 season for the Nippon Ham Fighters, hitting 15 homers while batting .286.
That production got him back with the White Sox organization in 1980 playing for Iowa, but he never got the chance to appear in another Major League game, finishing up with a .255 batting average with 92 hits over 361 at-bats in 167 games.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 PETE KOEGEL

Let’s go and give former catcher-first baseman Pete Koegel a final card for his three-year Major League career, a 1973 edition after appearing in 41 games for the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1972 season:


Koegel pretty much evenly split time playing catcher, third base and outfield for the Phillies, with pinch-hitting duties as well, hitting .143 with seven hits over 49 official at-bats.
Originally up with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970. He was traded over to the city of Brotherly Love in April of 1971 as part of the Johnny Briggs trade.
Those 1972 games would be the last he’d play on a Major League level, but he would stick around, playing in the minors as well as in Mexico through the 1977 season, wrapping up in the Kansas City Royals organization before retiring for good as a player.
For his big league career, he finished with a .174 average with 15 hits over 86 at-bats in 62 games split between the Brewers and Phillies, with a single home run and five runs batted in along with three runs scored.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1970 DANNY LAZAR

Here’s a 1970 card that wasn’t really “missing” for former White Sox pitcher Danny Lazar, who finished up a brief two-year Major League career in 1969 with nine appearances:


Lazar originally came up during the 1968 season for the Sox, appearing in eight games and posting a record of 0-1 with a 4.05 earned run average in his first taste of the big leagues.
The following season, he appeared in the aforementioned nine games, not factoring in a decision with a bloated 6.53 E.R.A. over 20.2 innings of work.
He’d spend the 1970 season in the minor leagues, pitching for Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate Tucson Toros before calling it a career.
He would spend his whole pro career, spanning 1965 through 1970, with the White Sox system.

Monday, September 4, 2017

1975 "IN ACTION"- HARMON KILLEBREW

Hey everyone! Hope you're all about to have a nice relaxing Labor Day to cap-off the Summer!
The next player showcased in my 1975 “In-Action” sub-set is a player who was winding down a Hall of Fame career in 1975, the great slugger Harmon Killebrew:


“Killer” had already hit 559 of his 573 home runs by the time this card would have come out, with six home run titles and an amazing eight 40-home run seasons.
He topped 100 runs batted in nine times during his 22-year career, with a high of 140 during his MVP season of 1969 as he led the Twins to an American League West title before losing the inaugural Championship Series to the Baltimore Orioles.
By the time he retired after a season with the Kansas City Royals in 1975, he finished with 573 homers, 1584 RBI’s, 2086 hits and eleven all-star nods.
It took a few years, but in 1984 he was finally voted into the Hall of Fame, getting named on 335 of 403 ballots, in my eyes an obvious choice for Cooperstown!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

CY YOUNG AWARD- 1973 SUB-SET

Moving along in my “awards sub-set” thread for the decade, we spotlight the Cy Young Award winners of 1972 on what would have been a 1973 sub-set if I had my way:


Of course, the talk of the town was the once-in-a-lifetime performance the Phillies Steve Carlton put in during his first season there after coming over in a trade.
All “Lefty” did was post a phenomenal 27-10 record with a 1.97 earned run average and 310 strikeouts, taking home not only the Cy Young but the league’s triple crown for pitching.
He completed 30 of his 41 starts, and threw eight shutouts for a team that only posted 59 wins all season!
Granted, Carlton won 20 games the year before while still with St. Louis, and already had a record-breaking 19-strikeout game in 1969, so he wasn’t exactly “out of nowhere”.
But this was the year he made his mark on the game and was well on his way to three other Cy Young Awards (the first to win that many), 329 wins and 4136 strikeouts.
Need less to say a Hall of Fame induction was a “gimmie”, and in 1994 he was named on 436 of 456 ballots.
On the American League side, we have another future Hall of Famer, Gaylord Perry, who came in second place for the Cy Young Award in 1970 while still pitching for the San Francisco Giants. The very same year his older brother Jim won the award pitching for the Minnesota Twins!
All Perry did in his first year with the Indians was post a record of 24-16, with a 1.92 E.R.A., five shutouts and 234 strikeouts, edging out Chicago White Sox pitcher Wilbur Wood 64 points to 58.
Ironically, had Gaylord Perry won the award in 1970, this 1972 win would have made him the first pitcher to win the award in both leagues.
Turns out, he would in fact end up being the first anyway when he took won the award six years later in 1978 while pitching for the San Diego Padres!
Amazing...Gotta love baseball and it’s rich history!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

TURN BACK THE CLOCK 1969- STEVE CARLTON STRIKES OUT 19 BATTERS

Today we celebrate the great Steve Carlton and his 19-strikeout game on September 15th of 1969, the real first glimpse of the greatness to come over the next 15 years:


Ironically enough, Carlton actually lost the game, because of Ron Swaboda's TWO two-run home runs which gave the Mets all the runs they needed to beat Carlton and the Cardinals, 4-3.
However Carlton had it all working for him that day, as he marched right into the record books by beating the previous record of 18 strikeouts which was jointly held by Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax and Don Wilson.
This was pretty much the first historic highlight of the future Hall of Famer's stellar career, as he'd go on to then post his first 20-win season in 1971 while still with the Cardinals, then post his uber-famous 1972 Triple-Crown winning year as a Philadelphia Phillie, winning his first of four Cy Young Awards.
Carlton would end his 24 year career with 329 wins, 55 shutouts, a 3.22 earned run average and a whopping 4136 strikeouts.
Those monster numbers got him inducted to Cooperstown on his first try in 1994, getting named on 436 of 456 ballots.
I remember seeing Carlton pitch at the end of his career when he was trying to hang on those last couple of years.He pitched for the Cleveland Indians against the New York Yankees at the Stadium on April 14th, 1987, giving up a grand slam homer to Yankee catcher Joel Skinner, and eventually taking the loss.
It was kind of a bummer, as he was a shell of his former self, and was caught in that vicious "hanging on" phase some players tend to get stuck in.
He'd move on to Minnesota later that year, and even pitch in four games for them in 1988 before finally hanging them up, putting to rest an incredible baseball resume that only a couple of other lefties can match in the history of the game.

Friday, September 1, 2017

WTHBALLS ISSUE #14 AVAILABLE NOW! "NICKNAMES" ISSUE WITH BONUS "YAZ" POSTCARD



Hello Everyone!
Happy to announce that the next issue of the “WTHBALLS” magazine, the “Nicknames” issue, is now available for purchase.
Following previous issues of the magazine, this one has 24-pages of full color custom work created by yours truly, and features all the “Nicknames of the 70’s” cards I posted up on the blog.
Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench and many, many more packed into this issue!
As an added bonus, each issue also comes with a “Yaz” postcard, sized to actual card size, so you can cut and drop into a top-loader if you prefer. That’s what I do and they look great!
Each issue is $7 ($5 plus $2 postage), and ship out immediately upon payment.
You can paypal me at: john@slogun.com
Thanks! 
Gio/wthballs

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 DON SHAW

Here’s a 1973 card for former pitcher Don Shaw, who wrapped up a five-year Major League career with three games for the Oakland A’s in 1972:


After starting the season with the St. Louis Cardinals, for whom he had his finest season as a big leaguer the previous year, Shaw was traded to Oakland for Dwain Anderson on May 15th, and quickly pitched in three games within a few days, making his last MLB appearance on the 18th after getting hit hard.
In those three games for the A’s, Shaw yielded 12 hits and 10 runs in 5.1 innings, for an unsightly earned run average of 16.88.
After spending the rest of the year in the Minors, he would be traded to the Detroit Tigers before the 1973 season started, but would spend the year in their Minor League system, his final season as a pro.
In 1971, Shaw had his best year, posting a record of 7-2 with a 2.65 E.R.A., with a couple of saves over 45 appearances and 51 innings pitched, and for his career posted a 13-14 record with a 4.01 E.R.A. in 138 appearances, all but one out of the bullpen.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A RE-DO FOR THE 1973 FRANK ROBINSON CARD

Today I have for you a re-done 1973 card for the great, and somehow underrated Hall of Fame slugger Frank Robinson, straight up as a Los Angeles Dodgers player since all he had to show for his time in L.A. Is the “traded” card in the 1972 ground-breaking sub-set:


Now, I did create a re-done card for him as an Angel way back when, but came across this image of him and it was too cool to pass up!
He’d have a great year for California in 1973, posting the final 30+ homer season of his magnificent career while driving in 97 runs in the newly formed “DH” role.
Of course, he’d soon move on to Cleveland where he would soon become the first African-American manager in Major League history, while wrapping up his playing career to the tune of 586 home runs, 2943 hits, 1829 runs scored and 1812 runs batted in.
Only in an age that also saw the likes of Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente could a guy like Robinson (and former teammate Vada Pinson, among others), get overlooked!
An amazing era of baseball to say the least!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1976 JIM MINSHALL

Love producing cards for guys like this!
Here’s a “not so missing” 1976 card for former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jim Minshall, who played the last of his six Major League games in 1975:


Minshall appeared in one single game for Pittsburgh in 1975, on September 11th, throwing a scoreless inning in relief where he walked two and struck out two.
He didn’t factor in a decision, and when added to the five appearances he had when he first had a taste of big league ball in 1974, he’d finish his brief career with a record of 0-1 over those six appearances, with five K’s over 5.1 innings pitched.
I couldn’t help but notice his year in the Minors in 1972 when pitching for the Salem Pirates in A-Ball, as he posted a record of 16-1 with 12 complete games in 26 starts along with an earned run average of 3.38.
Sadly, that would be the only season in his 11-year pro career that he would top 10+ wins, finishing up with a record of 59-53 between 1966 and 1976.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

NEGRO BASEBALL LEGENDS- "BULLET JOE" ROGAN

Next up for the all-time greats of the Negro Leagues is one of the, if not THE best double-threat “Bullet Joe” Rogan, who some consider the greatest pitcher in the Negro Leagues’ long, rich history:


Casey Stengel once claimed Rogan was, “one of the best, if not the best, pitcher that ever lived.”
According to some records, Rogan won the most games in Negro Leagues history, while ranking fourth all-time in career batting average!
Consider these numbers: 116-50 career win-loss record, along with a 2.59 earned run average, as well as an incredible .338 batting average. Just amazing numbers.
In 1924, the man would hit .395 while going 18-6 on the mound, leading the Kansas City Monarchs to their second title, then going on to defeat the Hilldales of the Eastern Colored League in the very first Black World Series.
The following year, all he would do is post a record of 17-2 while batting .381, once again leading the Monarchs to a league title, though he would injure his knee before a rematch with Hilldale in the World Series, in which the Monarchs lost in six games.
Historian Phil Dixon compiles all of Rogan’s stats in all league play over his 23 years and has him at over 350 games won with over 2000 strikeouts, while also collecting over 2500 hits with 350+ home runs and over 500 stolen bases!
Just an amazing pro career that needs further appreciation, though the ultimate compliment would come Rogan’s way in 1998 when Cooperstown came calling, inducting him into the Hall of Fame, joining the other greats of the Negro Leagues that also deserved their place in those hallowed Halls.

Monday, August 28, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1975 BARRY LERSCH

Here’s a 1975 card for former pitcher Barry Lersch, who finished up a six-year Major League career with one single game in 1974 with the St. Louis Cardinals:


After playing the first five years of his big league career with the Philadelphia Phillies, Lersch took the mound for a single game on September 21st 1974, and it wasn’t pretty, as he gave up six earned runs on three hits and five walks in only 1.1 innings.
That adds up to an earned run average of 40.50, but he didn’t factor in a decision, ending his career with a record of 18-32 with a 3.82 E.R.A., 317 strikeouts and six saves over 169 appearances and 570.1 innings of work.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

TURN BACK THE CLOCK 1969- WILLIE MAYS SLUGS HIS 600TH CAREER HOME RUN

Just four seasons after clubbing his 500th career home run, Willie Mays was at it again in 1969, smashing his 600th career homer, so let’s celebrate that feat with a 1979 “Turn Back the Clock” card:


Mays became only the second player all-time to reach the lofty height, joining Babe Ruth and eventually retiring with 660 homers.
And if it wasn't for military service in 1952-53, he easily would have been the second "700 Homer" guy, beating Aaron to the finish line by a couple years for sure.
As we all know, there would be quite a few more players joining Ruth, Aaron and Mays with 600+ homers decades later.
But if you were a kid growing up in the 1970's and '80's, those three were the "Mount Rushmore" of home run power, forever burned into our minds.
Ruth…Aaron…Mays.
Classic…

Saturday, August 26, 2017

1977 MARINERS REDONE- KURT BEVACQUA

Today we look at a great card, the 1977 Kurt Bevacqua, which is an airbrushed image so Topps could show him, as all others in this thread, as members of the new clubs in town, the Seattle Mariners (or Toronto Blue Jays):


Interesting thing is, Bevacqua would end up never playing an inning of ball for the Mariners, getting released by the team before the season even started after being purchased from the Milwaukee Brewers just a few months earlier.
Nevertheless, Topps managed to get some “real” images of him in a Mariners uni before he was let go, so I re-did the original, so here you go:

Bevacqua managed to sigh with a new team less than a month after being released by Seattle, the Texas Rangers, where he’d play for the next couple of seasons before moving on to the San Diego Padres in 1979.
He’d be on the move once again in 1980, getting traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for, among others, the ever wonderfully-named Rick Lancellotti, before making it back to the Padres in 1982.
Of course, that last stint in the Majors, with the Padres from 1982 through 1985 would give him his the most memorable moment in the Majors (well unless you consider that sweet 1976 Topps bubble-blowing card the peak of his career), when he hit a three-run home run in Game Two of the 1984 World Series against the eventual World Champion Detroit Tigers, giving the Padres their only win in the series.
Overall, he’d end up playing 15-years in the Majors, mainly as a platoon or part-time player, batting .236 over 970 games with 499 hits over 2117 at-bats for six teams.

Friday, August 25, 2017

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD- 1972 SUB-SET

Today we celebrate the 1971 Major League Rookies of the Year in my ongoing “Awards” series, with Earl Williams of the Atlanta Braves and Chris Chambliss of the Cleveland Indians sharing the spotlight:


Williams slammed his way to the award in the National League, clubbing 33 home runs while driving in 87 and batting .260 while doing something very uncommon, playing 72 games as catcher along with another 42 at third base and 31 at first base. Something you definitely do not see often!
He would follow that season up with another solid year in 1972 when he added 28 homers while equaling his RBI total of 87 and again playing the same three positions.
He would move on to Baltimore in 1973 before returning to Atlanta in 1975 for a year and a half, splitting time with the Montreal Expos in 1976.
He’d end up playing eight years in the Majors, finishing up with the Oakland A’s in 1977 before moving on to the Mexican League for a couple of years.
I never realized that he lived in the very town I moved to, Somerset, NJ and passed away just a few years ago at the age of 64.
Over in the American League we have the Indians’ Chris Chambliss, who had a very productive freshman season in the Majors when he batted .275 with nine homers and 48 runs batted in in only 111 games and 458 plate appearances.
The career 1st baseman would turn out to have a very nice 17-year career in the Major Leagues, winning two championships with the New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978, of course also having his finest moment in the big leagues when he homered to clinch the American League pennant for the Yankees in the Bronx, culminating in one of the iconic sports moments of the decade as he raced around the bases trying to avoid the rushing fans who poured onto the field in celebration (can you imagine that now!?).
He would finish his career with over 2000 hits, a .279 average and 185 home runs with just under 1000 runs batted in calling it a career after one single at-bat for the Yankees in 1988.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1974 LARRY COX

Here’s a “not really missing” card for a guy who we’d see around through the latter part of the 1970’s into the 1980’s, former catcher Larry Cox, who started out with the Philadelphia Phillies and gets this 1974 card based on his 1st taste of the big leagues, a single game in 1973 as a defensive replacement:


Oddly enough, that game came on April 18th of 1973, not at the end of the year as some late-season call-up. Nevertheless, it would be the first of his 348 career games, spanning 1973 through 1982.
He’d see his most action in 1979 & 1980 while with the Seattle Mariners, appearing in over 100 games for the only two times in his career.
Overall, he’d finish his career with a .221 batting average based on his 182 hits over 825 at-bats, with 12 home runs and 85 runs batted in while playing all of his games behind the plate.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A 1977 CAREER-CAPPER FOR LONG-TIME RELIEF PITCHER WAYNE GRANGER

Time to give long-time reliever Wayne Granger a career-capping 1977 card as he closed out a nice nine-year career in 1976 with the Montreal Expos:


Granger appeared in 27 games for Montreal, going 1-0 with two saves over 32 innings of work along with a 3.66 earned run average.
Of course, his MLB heyday were the early-1970’s with the Cincinnati Reds when he posted 27 and 35 saves respectively in 1969 and 1970, appearing in as many as 90 games during that ‘69 campaign.
After the 1971 season he moved around a lot, playing for the Twins, Cardinals, Yankees, White Sox, Astros and Expos over what would be the last five years of his career.
He finished up with an even 35-35 record, along with 108 saves and a 3.14 E.R.A., with 303 strikeouts over 451 appearances and 638.2 innings of work.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1978 DENNIS LEWALLYN

Here’s a “not so missing” 1978 card for former pitcher Dennis Lewallyn, who had an eight-year playing career that totaled only 34 games, evenly distributed between 1975 and 1982:


Lewallyn’s career is an odd one, in that he had “cups-of-coffee” eight times! Never getting a chance to put in significant time in any one season during his eight-year run.
His 1977 season for the National League champ Los Angeles Dodgers could be considered his best, as he posted three of his four career wins when he went 3-1 with a 4.24 earned run average over five appearances while collecting his only MLB save.
He’d finish his playing career after the 1982 season, playing for the Cleveland Indians, again appearing in only a handful of games in 1981 & 1982, seven and four respectively, going 4-4 with a 4.48 E.R.A., 28 strikeouts and a save over 80.1 innings and 34 appearances.
He never pitched in more than seven games in any one season, while appearing in only one in 1978, yet playing in every season nonetheless between 1975 and 1982.
Does anyone remember another player who played in as many seasons consecutively, yet only appeared in so few as well?

Monday, August 21, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1971 MIKE DERRICK

Here’s a 1971 card for Mike Derrick, whose career entailed two dozen games during the 1970 season for the Boston Red Sox:


Derrick, who toiled in the Minor Leagues since 1962 when he was playing in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, finally made it to the big show in 1970, batting .212 with seven hits over 33 at-bats while playing Left Field and First Base.
Sadly for him however he’d be back in the Minors the following season and stay there until he left pro ball for good after the 1972 campaign playing for Tacoma in the Twins organization.
He did have some solid years in the Minors, including what is easily his best in 1965 when he clubbed 28 homers and drove in 103 runs for Kinston in the Carolina League.
Over 11 years in Minor League play he hit .276 with 131 home runs and 663 runs batted in, collecting 1057 hits over 3836 at-bats.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

NEGRO BASEBALL LEGENDS- BIZ MACKEY

Today we celebrate who many consider the greatest catcher in Negro Leagues history, even over the legendary Josh Gibson, fellow Hall of Fame member Biz Mackey, in my running “Negro Baseball Leagues All-Time Legends”:


Though certainly no slouch at the plate, as evidenced by his .329 career average in league play including four recorded seasons of batting over .400, it was at defense that many consider Mackey the superior player over Gibson.
While playing the position full-time even into his 40’s, he was even a mentor to a young Roy Campanella, who openly stated that Mackey taught him everything he knew about playing the position.
Mackey put in 24 seasons in Negro League play, while also playing in the California Winter League for 26 seasons, ranking third all-time in that league’s home run list, behind only two other Hall members, Turkey Stearnes and Mule Suttles.
On top of all of his exploits in the Negro Leagues, he even spent a year traveling in 1932, which took him to Japan where he helped influence the formation of their professional league.
Quite a baseball life!
Read up on his biography for so much more on the 2006 Cooperstown inductee!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

"1910 BASEBALL STARS" NOW AVAILABLE!

Hey everyone!
My second card set, the "1910 Baseball Stars" set is now available for purchase. Please see images:


The set consists of 48 cards, evenly divided between American and National League players, and will come bundled as such. They are printed on "mini business card" size 19pt card stock with a silk matte finish.
The cards come bundled by league (24 A.L. / 24 N.L.) along with two strips of three custom stamps, as well as a title-card insert and an authentic 1910 cigarette insert (either a silk, leather patch or card) inside a card-stock wallet, which ALL comes inside a burlap bag tied shut with a hang-tag that's stamped/cancelled.
I only made 25 sets, and I keep two of them, so there are only 23 to go around so if you want to pick one up please contact me at john@slogun.com to reserve one.
The set is $21 postpaid, and my paypal is at the same email, john@slogun.com
Thanks!
Gio/wthballs

1975 IN ACTION- PETE ROSE

The next super-star to get the 1975 “In Action” treatment is “Charlie Hustle” Pete Rose, who was tearing up the league for a while before this card would have seen the light of day:


Rose already had a Rookie of the Year and MVP Award under his belt as well as three batting titles, and was just about to go on a lead the “Big Red Machine” to consecutive World Series wins in 1975 and 1976.
During the mid-70’s he was baseball royalty, on baseballs most vaunted team, a team that had future Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez.
Of course, he would go on to play another 11 years, retiring as baseball’s all-time hit king as well as the all-time leader in games played, plate appearances and at-bats over his 24-year career.
I'm not even going to get into that "other stuff" since for me, that has no basis on keeping him out of the Hall. Just my opinion, but if Rose isn't in the Hall of Fame representing the 1970's, the "Player of the Decade", then it's all a joke.

Friday, August 18, 2017

TURN BACK THE CLOCK-1969: BACK TO BACK NO-HITTERS BY JIM MALONEY & DON WILSON

Just one season after the Major Leagues saw opponents no-hit each other when Gaylord Perry and Ray Washburn pulled off the trick during the “year of the pitcher”, the improbable happened when two pitchers managed to do the very same in 1969, Jim Maloney of the Cincinnati Reds and Don Wilson of the Houston Astros.
Here’s a 1979 “Turn Back the Clock” celebrating that feat:


On April 30th, Reds fireballer Jim Maloney pitched what was considered then his third career no-hitter, beating the Astros 10-0 after striking out Doug Radar for the last out & his 13th strikeout of the day.
This was an Astros team that had Joe Morgan and Jimmy Wynn in the line-up, so it wasn’t exactly a piece of cake, though Maloney was credited with facing only 26 official batters after the Reds pulled off a double-play to erase of of five walks the hurler issued that game.
Now, years later in 1991 when baseball changed the rules, Maloney had one of his no-hitter taken away when it was now not considered a no-no if you eventually gave up a hit in extra-innings, which is exactly what Maloney did against the Mets in June of 1965 when Johnny Lewis tagged Maloney for a homer in the 11th inning of what was, up to that point, a no-hitter.
Nevertheless, Maloney went down in history as a two-time no-hit pitcher, three if you want to count that Mets game, and wouldn’t you know it, the very next day the Astros would send to the mound a guy who would also end up with multiple no-hitters during his strong, though tragic career, Don Wilson.
Facing a strong Reds line-up that included Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and the eventual N.L. batting champ that season, Pete Rose, Wilson would fan 13 and walk six, but keep Cincinnati hitless for the no-hitter, and baseball history in the Astros 4-0 win.
Wilson would also finish his career with two no-hitters, famously losing a possible third when his manager, Preston Gomez, took him out for a pinch-hitter on September 4th 1974 with the team trailing 2-1 to the very same Reds, eventually losing the no-hitter and the game.
Sadly, however, just a few months later on January 5th 1975, Wilson was found dead behind the wheel of his car in his garage, overcome by exhaust fumes, which also tragically killed his five-year-old son who was sleeping in a bedroom above the garage.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1975 PAT OSBURN

Here’s a 1975 “not so missing” card for former pitcher Pat Osburn, who put in a total of twelve games over two seasons in his Major League career:


Osburn appeared in six games for the Cincinnati Reds during the 1974 season, not factoring in a decision and posting an earned run average of 8.00 over nine innings.
He’d make it back to the big leagues the following seasons, this time with the Milwaukee Brewers, again appearing in sex games, going 0-1 with a 5.40 E.R.A., with a strikeout and nine walks over 11.2 innings of work.
After a nice 1976 season in the minor leagues for the Kansas City Royals, which saw him go 7-4 with a 2.32 E.R.A., he would be out of baseball for good, finishing with an MLB record of 0-1 with a 6.54 E.R.A. Over 12 appearances and 20.2 innings.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 RICH REESE

Here’s a 1973 “missing” card for long time Minnesota Twins 1st baseman Rich Reese, who was coming towards the end of a 10-year Major League career:


Reese appeared in a whopping 132 games for the Twins in 1972, with 223 plate appearances, yet was left out of the 1973 set. Wonder why!?
He batted .218 with 43 hits over 197 official at-bats, and would go on to play in 81 games during the 1973 season, his last year in the big leagues, split between the Detroit Tigers and Twins, batting a combined .144 with only 18 hits over 125 at-bats.
That would wrap up a career that saw him bat .253 with 512 hits in 2020 at-bats and 866 games, but I would always remember him as the guy who was on the back of the 1970 “A.L. Batting Leaders” card, even though he didn’t have enough plate appearances in 1969 to even qualify!
I’m still a bit perplexed by it. He did bat a nice .322, 61 points better than his second-best season, but he only had 451 plate appearances, with 135 hits over 419 at-bats.
What is really strange is that he wasn’t pictured on the front, which was the second highest average, behind teammate Rod Carew, yet there he is listed on the back as in second place.
Anyone know why this even happened?
Curious to know after all these years...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

MAJOR LEAGUE FOUNDERS: CHARLEY JONES 1876-1976

The next card in the “Founders” series is an interesting figure in early Major League history, “slugger” Charley Jones, once the all-time home run king after the first nine years of big league play:


Jones was the first player in Major League history to club two homers in the same inning, doing so on June 10, 1880 when his Boston Red Stockings club pummeled the Buffalo Bison 19-3, with both homers coming off of aptly named Tom Poorman.
A popular player in his time, he led the National League in home runs and RBI’s in 1879 with 9 and 62 respectively, and would lead the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association with 80 ribbies three years later after missing the 1881 & 1882 seasons when he was black-listed for playing with independent teams.
Between his 1st season as a pro player in 1875 and his final season in 1888, he finished with 56 homers and a very respectable .298 batting average in just under 900 games, collecting 1114 hits in 3738 at-bats.
An interesting aside in Jones’ story was the fact that his death was a mystery for just over 100 years until SABR members in 2012, finally found out that he died in New York City’s Bellevue Hospital on June 6th, 1911 after some illness.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER...

@wthballs
Everything baseball: cards, events, history and more.