Thursday, September 21, 2017

(BARELY) MISSING IN ACTION- 1975 ED FARMER

Here’s a card I would consider right on the fence between “missing in action” and “not really missing in action”, a 1975 card for former relief pitcher Ed Farmer:


Farmer appeared in 14 games for the Phillies in 1974, with a bloated 8.42 earned run average over 31 innings of work while posting a record of 2-1. Not really a cup-of-coffee, yet not truly enough action to consider him “left out” of the 1975 set.
He would miss the following two seasons before making one sole appearance in 1977 with the Baltimore Orioles and three appearances with the Milwaukee Brewers the following year.
Finally healthy, Farmer would be a mainstay in Major League bullpens until the 1983 season, with his finest year coming in 1980 when he saved 30 games for the Chicago White Sox and was named to his only all-star game.
After his playing days were over he scouted for the Orioles for a few years before settling into his well familiar role as a Chicago White Sox radio announcer, a position he has held to this very day, 25 years running.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

1975 IN-ACTION: BERT CAMPANERIS

Next up in my running “1975 In Action” series is perennial all-star shortstop Bert Campaneris of the Oakland A’s, who was in the middle of a very nice run when this card would have seen the light of day:


“Campy” was just coming off of three straight World Championships with the A’s as part of a juggernaut that included Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Sal Bando, among others.
Though he didn’t lead the American League in steals in 1974, he did swipe 34 more on his way to a career total of 649, with six league titles between 1965 and 1972.
By the time he was done as a Major League player in 1983 at the age of 41, he’d finish with 2249 career hits with 1181 runs scored with six all-star game nods in 19 years.
I fondly remember his time with the New York Yankees in 1983, this last action before retiring. Just seemed like a fun veteran to have around giving tips to youngsters like Don Mattingly.

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.

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