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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

CARD SET #2: "BASEBALL STARS OF 1910" CHECKLIST

 
Title Card Insert
 
OK. The cards are out getting printed, and I’m slowly putting all the packaging together, so I wanted to take this moment to post the checklist for the upcoming 48-card set “1910 Baseball Stars”.
Here you go:

  1. Cy Young
  2. Walter Johnson
  3. Christy Mathewson
  4. Ty Cobb
  5. Honus Wagner
  6. Nap Lajoie
  7. Tris Speaker
  8. Joe Wood
  9. Eddie Collins
  10. Jack Coombs
  11. Eddie Plank
  12. Addie Joss
  13. Ed Walsh
  14. Tommy Leach
  15. Howie Camnitz
  16. King Cole
  17. Zack Wheat
  18. Hal Chase
  19. Russ Ford
  20. Fred Schulte
  21. Sherry Magee
  22. Bill Donovan
  23. Sam Crawford
  24. Jack Powell
  25. George Mullin
  26. Frank Chance
  27. Joe Tinker
  28. Johnny Evers
  29. Mordecai Brown
  30. Doc Crandall
  31. Larry Doyle
  32. Earl Moore
  33. Roger Bresnahan
  34. Fred Clarke
  35. Bob Bescher
  36. Nap Rucker
  37. Vic Willis
  38. Ed Reulbach
  39. Hooks Wilts
  40. Orval Overall
  41. Babe Adams
  42. Bobby Wallace
  43. Frank Baker
  44. Clyde Milan
  45. Rube Waddell
  46. Chief Bender
  47. Doc White
  48. Harry Davis

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1972 GREG GARRETT

Here’s a 1972 card for former pitcher Greg Garrett of the Cincinnati Reds, who appeared in two games during the 1971 season, the final two games of his brief career:


Garrett came over to Cincinnati from the California Angels, for whom he came up with the previous year, appearing in 32 games and posting a 5-6 record with a nice 2.65 earned run average over 74.2 innings pitched.
For the Reds, he posted a 0-1 record with a 1.04 E.R.A., starting one of those two games while in a Cincinnati uniform, throwing 8.2 innings and walking a whopping ten batters.
Turns out those two brief seasons would be it for his Major League career, ending up with a 5-7 record, with a 2.48 E.R.A., 55 strikeouts and 54 walks over 83.1 innings.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER AWARD- 1972 SUB-SET

Next in my on-going “Awards” sub-set is a 1972 card celebrating the 1971 Most Valuable Players, Joe Torre and Vida Blue from the National and American Leagues respectively:


Starting with Torre, after a handful of solid all-star seasons since coming up to the Majors in 1960, he put it all together in 1971 when he led the league in batting (.363), Hits (230), Runs Batted In (137) and Total Bases (352), while being named to his seventh all-star team while playing a position full-time for the first time (3B).
All of that easily handed him the award over Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Willie Stargell, 318 points to 222, with Torre getting 21 of 24 first place votes.
In the American League, we already saw what the Cy Young winner, Vida Blue, accomplished on his way to taking home the two big awards in the Junior Circuit.
Posting a 24-8 record while completing 24 of 39 starts, the 21-year-old also led the league with a 1.82 earned run average and eight shutouts while also striking out 301 batters for the burgeoning baseball dynasty in Oakland that would take three straight championships between 1972 and 1974.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

EXPANSION RE-DONE: 1977 PETE VUCKOVICH

Revisiting my thread where I re-do the original Topps 1977 Blue Jays & Mariners cards, today we have a re-done Pete Vuckovich card, with the original for comparison:

Re-done
Original

Of course, we all know that Topps was scrambling to get cards in their 1977 set to represent the two new Major League franchises that would start play that season, so it was an admirable job to get two full teams worth of players in there.
So this is more of a respectful task with time on our side, replacing the airbrushed photos Topps had on the cards.
It’s easy to forget the rather pedestrian career Vuckovich had leading up to his 1982 Cy Young Award when he led the Milwaukee Brewers to an American League title, eventually losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
Some may even question if Jim Palmer or even Dan Quisenberry were more worthy recipients of the award (I thought “Quiz” was ripped off three awards to be honest, from 1982 to 1984).
Nevertheless, Vuckovich had his high-point that season, going 18-6 with a 3.34 earned run average, beating out future Hall of Fame Orioles pitcher Palmer for the Cy Young honors.
Sadly for Vuckovich, however, he came up with arm troubles the following year and only appeared in three games before missing the entire 1984 season before returning in 1985, playing for two more seasons before retiring for good after the 1986 season.
He’d win only eight games after his award winning season, finishing with 93 career wins against 69 losses over 11-years and 286 appearances.

Friday, August 11, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1976 JACK LIND

Here’s a card that wasn’t really “missing” from the 1976 set, but since he never got a card in the first place for his brief two-year career, Jack Lind gets one now:


The former infielder appeared in the final 17 games of his Major League career in 1975, collecting one hit over 20 at-bats with a run scored.
This was after his first taste of the big leagues in 1974 when he was a late-season call-up for Milwaukee and appeared in nine games, batting .235 with four hits in 17 at-bats.
After spending the 1976 season in the Minor Leagues, he tried his hand in Japan where he played for the Yomiuri Giants in 1977, batting .237 with nine homers before calling it a career.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

1975 IN ACTION: ROD CAREW

The next 1975 “In Action” card up in my thread is none other than the great Rod Carew, penultimate hitter of that generation as he was racking up batting titles while with the Minnesota Twins:


Carew was on his way to a fourth straight title in 1975, and fifth in seven years when he’d bat a cool .359 while also leading the league in On-Base-Percentage with a .421 mark.
He would have two more titles ahead of him, including his mesmerizing run at .400 in 1977 when he ended up at .388 and an American League MVP Award and an eleventh-straight all-star birth.
As a matter of fact, Carew would be named to the A.L. All-Star team for 18-straight years between 1967 and 1984, every single year of his career except his last in 1985 when he collected his 3000th hit while batting .280 at the age of 39.
The man was a hitting machine, and his .328 career average attests to that, along with his Hall of Fame induction in 1991 in his 1st year of eligibility, being named to 90.5% of ballots cast (42 ballots managed to leave him off if you can imagine!).

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

GIMMIE A DO-OVER: 1972 "IN-ACTION" RON SANTO

I have always wanted to re-do the 1972 Ron Santo “In-Action” card, so today I’ll post it up here, for better of for worse:

Re-done custom
Original back in 1972

It’s not that I hate the image Topps used for the original, but I have always had a problem with an image on a card that had the subject-player BEHIND another player, no matter what the composition.
On this card that catcher, I believe the San Francisco Giants Dick Dietz, has much more prominent a position on the card, and man that never sits right with me.
Nevertheless, I found a nice time-period shot of the all-time Cubs great third baseman up at bat, so I decided to use it for the card.
Great player who finally got his due in Cooperstown way too late in my opinion. Sometimes the player should be considered for more than just stats or dominance (Vada Pinson, Steve Garvey, Dave Parker, Dick Allen, et al).

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION- 1970 RON DAVIS

Today I post up my “missing” 1970 card for former outfielder Ron Davis, who wrapped up a five-year career in 1969 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates:


Playing in 62 games, Davis batted .234 with 15 hits over 64 at-bats while manning all three outfield spots, driving in four runs and scoring 10 with a couple of extra-base-hits.
His career started as one of the many youngsters for the Houston Colt .45’s back in 1962 as a 20-year old, appearing in six games before spending the following three seasons in their minor league system before making it back up in 1966.
In 1968 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in mid-season, getting to play in the World Series as a member of the National League champs who’d end up losing to the Detroit Tigers, going 0-7 at the plate, before playing that final year in ‘69 over in Pittsburgh.

Monday, August 7, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1974 TOMMY MOORE

Here’s a “not so missing” 1974 card for former pitcher Tommy Moore of the New York Mets, who appeared in three games for the eventual National League champs:


Moore had his second MLB tour during the ‘73 season, posting a record of 0-1 with a 10.80 earned run average in those three games and 3.1 innings pitched.
In 1972, he had his first taste of the “big show”, also appearing in three games, not figuring in a decision with a much nicer 2.92 E.R.A.
After spending the 1974 season in the minors, he’d make it back in 1975, splitting the season with the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers, appearing in 22 games, going 0-2 with a 6.13 E.R.A. over 39.2 innings, the most action he’d see in any of his 4 seasons as a big-leaguer.
After yet another season in the minor leagues in 1976, he would play the final 14 games of his career as a member of the inaugural Seattle Mariners team in 1977, winning two games against one loss with a 4.91 E.R.A., finishing his career with a 2-4 record over 42 games and 88.1 innings.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

TURN BACK THE CLOCK: 1969- THE "MIRACLE METS"

Next in my “Turn Back the Clock” running thread is the wonderful “Miracle Mets” season of 1969, just about as amazing (pun intended) a turnaround for a franchise as you could imagine:


After a ninth-place finish in 1968 with a record of 73-89, the Mets shocked the sports world in 1969 when they marched to a record of 100-62, led by a pitching staff that would make most envious with the likes of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan and Gary Gentry.
Of course the road wasn’t easy, as they had the Chicago Cubs to deal with, and with the newly placed play-off format that did not ensure a pennant for coming in first, they had to go on to play the Atlanta Braves in the first National League Championship playoffs.
But again, the Mets were here to shock us all, as they swept the Braves and were to face the American League juggernaut Baltimore Orioles, who put together one of the most dominant team seasons of the modern era when they stormed to a record of 109-53, then sweeping the American League West champ Minnesota Twins 3-0 in the playoffs.
However, 1969 was all about the Mets, as they proceeded to take the series, and the World Championship 4 games to 1, giving New York an unlikely championship that was also paired with the New York Jets Super Bowl III win and the New York Knicks NBA championship, a brilliant sports trifecta the Big Apple could boast about until this very day.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

THEN AND NOW- SANDY ALOMAR

Haven’t done a “Then and Now” card in a while, so today I post up a 1979 edition for Alomar patriarch Sandy Alomar Senior, who put together a nice 15-year career before retiring after the 1978 season:


Alomar came up with the Milwaukee Braves back in 1964, but didn’t get to play full-time until he joined the California Angels in 1969, where he would play until he was purchased by the New York Yankees in July of 1974.
He’d play the last two seasons of his career with the Texas Rangers, retiring after the 1978 season before moving on to coaching for various organizations.
Of course, he also had a couple of sons who became pretty good baseball players themselves, 1990 American Rookie of the Year Sandy Alomar Jr, and future Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar.
Not a bad baseball family tree!

Friday, August 4, 2017

CY YOUNG AWARD- 1972 SUB-SET

We move on to the 1972 and imagine what an awards sub-set (other than the joke of one they had in there) would look like had I been running the show.
Here’s my take on a “Cy Young Award” card reflecting the 1971 winners:


Fergie Jenkins was posting 20-win seasons like they were going out of style by the time he finally took home the award in 1971, going 24-13 with a 2.77 earned run average and 263 strikeouts, completing 30 of his 39 starts!
Monster year for “Fly”, as he’d march his way to the Hall of Fame with 284 wins and 3192 strikeouts, becoming the 1st pitcher in history to rack up 3000+ K’s while walking under 1000 batters.
Over in the American League we had what was the story of the year in baseball, Oakland A’s 21-year-old stud Vida Blue, who not only took home the Cy Young Award but the MVP as well.
All Blue did that year was post a record of 24-8 with a league-leading 1.82 earned run average and 301 strikeouts along with eight shutouts as he completed 24 of his 39 starts for the burgeoning baseball dynasty that would take home three straight world championships between 1972 and 1974.
It was one of those seasons a player has that grabs the attention of baseball and NON-baseball fans alike. Incredible year for the young lefty.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1971 HAL HAYDEL

Here’s a 1971 card that truly is “not missing in action” since not only did the player barely play the previous season, but he appeared on a multi-player rookie card in the 1971 set, Minnesota Twins pitcher Hal Haydel:


Haydel appeared in four games for the Twins in 1970, posting a 2-0 record with a 3.00 earned run average over nine innings pitched as a September call-up.
The following season he’d appear in another 31 games, going 4-2 with a 4.28 E.R.A. and a save in 40 innings, but those would be the last of his big league appearances.
After playing for the Twins’ minor league AAA affiliate Tacoma Twins in 1972, having a rough season that saw him go 2-8 with a 7.14 E.R.A., he retired from pro ball, finishing his MLB career with a 6-2 record along with a 4.04 E.R.A. in 35 appearances and 49 innings pitched.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

NEGRO BASEBALL LEGENDS- "CYCLONE" JOE WILLIAMS

The next Negro Baseball League legend we spotlight in my long-running series is “Cyclone” Joe Williams, one of the greatest pitchers to take a mound in the first third of the 20th Century:


Pitching an incredible 27-years, he starred in the Negro Leagues as well as the Mexican and Caribbean Leagues between 1907 and 1932.
According to some sources, some of his pro seasons included records of 28-4, 20-2 and 32-8 playing for teams such as the Chicago Leland Giants and Homestead Grays.
While the great Satchel Paige gets much of the attention of baseball fans and historians, there is a frequent debate as to whether Williams is in fact the greatest pitcher to toe the rubber in Negro League history, even being recognized as such in a 1952 poll held by the Pittsburgh Courier.
Even noted Baseball historian Bill James named Williams the 52nd greatest player (and 12th greatest pitcher) in baseball history when he released his “100 Greatest Players in Baseball History” some 20-years ago.
In 1999, Cooperstown gave Williams his rightful place in their hallowed halls, electing him for enshrinement by the Veteran’s Committee.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

FUTURE STARS: SAL BANDO

Next up in the “Future Stars” thread is all-star third baseman Sal Bando, yet another former star at Arizona State who went on to Major League fame:


Bando was coming off of three championships as part of the Oakland A’s dynasty, anchoring their infield with three top-4 finishes in the American League MVP voting before signing with the Milwaukee Brewers during the great “purge” of Oakland after the 1976 season.
He’d play the final five years of his big league career with Milwaukee before retiring after the 1981 season, but never really put together the numbers he had while out West.
Nevertheless, he’d finish with 242 homers with 1039 runs batted in and 982 runs scored in his 16-year career, with six 20+ homer seasons along with two 100+ RBI campaigns.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER...

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