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.

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Everything baseball: cards, events, history and more.