Monday, October 18, 2021


Getting a little "cheeky" today with a "not so missing" 1973 card for former 20-game winner Jim Merritt, who found himself struggling in the Big Leagues just two seasons after a banner year in 1970:

Merritt, who had a banner year for the National League champ Cincinnati Reds in 1970, struggled with arm issues in 1972, appearing in only four games, going 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA over eight innings.
Found this typical Topps image with the "looking up" angle, perfect for the era, as Merritt was actually in a Texas Rangers uni, the team he'd be suiting up for in 1973.
In 1970 he had arguably his best season in the Majors when he went 20-12 with the Reds, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting while making his only All-Star team.
I say “arguably” because that year his earned run average was a high 4.08, while in 1967 with the Twins he went 13-7 with a wonderful 2.53 ERA over 37 appearances, 25 of those starts, tossing a career-high four shutouts with 161 strikeouts.
Overall, he’d finish his career with a record of 81-86, posting an ERA of 3.65 over 297 appearances and 1483 innings of work, throwing nine shutouts while collecting seven saves along the way.

Sunday, October 17, 2021


On the blog today, we move ahead in my long-running "expanded league leaders" thread where we celebrate the top 3 men in a particular statistic in years where Topps just had the first place finisher of both leagues on one card.

Today we look at the top 3 N.L. RBI men of 1973 on this 1974 card:
Starting off, we have the great Willie Stargell, who paced the National League with his 119 run batted in during the 1973 season, the only time he led the league in RBIs over his career.
He also led the league with 43 doubles and 44 homers, as well as slugging percentage, good for a second place finish in the MVP race and a sixth All-Star nod.
In second place with 105 RBIs was the "Big Bopper", Lee May of the Houston Astros, who had what was a typical year for himself with 28 home runs and a .270 batting average in his second season in Houston after coming over from the Cincinnati Reds in the blockbuster Joe Morgan deal.
May was really a forgotten stud from the era, and it is a shame considering his consistency with 20+ homers and 90+ RBIs over a decade.
Tied at third place with 104 RBIs are Johnny Bench and Darrell Evans, who both had great years in 1973.
For Bench, it was "business as usual", as he'd reach 100 RBIs for the third time in four seasons, and something he would do six times in his career.
The man was in his prime and would go on to be considered the greatest catcher the game has ever seen, and justifiably so.
For Evans, 1973 was a breakout year for him, hitting 41 homers and reaching the 100 RBI mark for what turned out to be the only time in his career.
Though he'd never reach 100 RBIs again, he would certainly put in a Hall of Fame worthy career, finishing up with 414 home runs, 2223 hits, 1354 RBIs and 1344 runs scored, as well as a .361 OBP in 21 seasons.
There you have it! The top 3 RBI men in the National League for 1973 on a 1974 "expanded league leader card".
Onto the American League!

Saturday, October 16, 2021


On the blog today, we move on to the National League's starting first baseman in the classic 1971 All-Star game, "Stretch" Willie McCovey:

Celebrating what is now considered one of the historic moments in the game's evolution, the 1971 Midsummer Classic was a turning point where the "old" eased into the "new". A passing of the torch in a sense of the country's cultural change, with old stars such as Aaron, Mays, et. al. handing it all over to the "new", like Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue and Johnny Bench.
As for McCovey, he was one of the "tweens" in this scenario, as he was already a 12 year veteran of the game, but somehow was a new breed of player that brought a refreshing change to the Major League landscape.
McCovey was three years removed from his MVP season of 1969 when this card would have been out, but still a feared hitter terrorizing N.L. pitching.
It was his fourth straight All-Star game, and and sixth overall, and he'd even get some MVP support at season's end, with a 15th place finish in the voting.
By the time he retired in 1980, he crushed 521 home runs, collected over 2000 hits, drove in over 1500, and left his mark as one of the most feared sluggers of his generation.
In 1986, his first year of eligibility, he was voted into the Hall of Fame with 81.4% of the ballots cast.
Man, what a threesome McCovey, Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda made back in the 1960's for San Francisco, huh?
Just incredible.

Friday, October 15, 2021


On the blog today, another "dedicated manager card", this one a 1976 edition for long-time skipper Gene Mauch, who put in 26 years at the head of a Major League ball club between 1960 and 1987:

At the time this card would have seen the light of day Mauch was about to begin his helm of the Minnesota Twins, with the likes of Rod Carew, Lyman Bostock, Bert Blyleven and Tony Oliva.
Now Topps got ahead of the game having Mauch as manager on the Twins team card in their 1976 set, since he was hired over the off-season after a seven year run leading the Montreal Expos, their first manager in franchise history beginning in 1969.
Mauch would go on to lead the Twins from 1976 through 1980, finishing either third or fourth in each season with 1976 having a high of 85 wins.
He would then go on to manage the California Angels from 1982 through 1987, with a break in 1983 and 1984.
He was the manager of the Angels for their division leading 1982 and 1986 seasons, when they won 93 and 92 games respectively, only to lose in the Championship Series both times.
Overall, Mauch would finish his managerial career with a record of 1902 and 2037, never making it to a World Series, but certainly earning the respect of the baseball world as a solid manager.


Thursday, October 14, 2021


On the blog today we have a fun card to add to the "WTHBALLS" stable, a "not so missing" 1972 card for one-year Big League pitcher Bob Kaiser, he of five games in 1971 for the Cleveland Indians:

Kaiser threw five innings in his only taste of the Majors as a 21-year-old, not factoring in a decision while striking out four, walking three, and allowing three runs for a 4.50 earned run average.
He would put in another four seasons in Minor League ball, the last of which was in the Detroit system in 1979 with a gap from 1974 till then, but never get another shot in the Big Leagues again, finishing up with just those five games in 1971.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021


On the blog today, we have a "not so missing" 1979 card for former Chicago Cubs catcher Mike Gordon, who put in parts of two seasons in the Big Leagues in 1977 and 1978:

Gordon, who got a 1978 "not really missing" card created for the blog a couple of years ago marking his MLB debut of 1977, gets this one today based on his four games for the Cubs in 1978.
He'd go 1-for-5 at the plate in that time, hitting an even .200 while walking three times, also putting in time behind the plate.
Gordon appeared in the first eight games of his brief MLB career during the 1977 season, collecting one hit over 23 official at-bats.
He’d go on to spend all of 1979 in the Cubs’ Minor League system before retiring for good, having spent his entire eight-year professional career in the Chicago (NL) organization.
All told, he finished his MLB career with a .071 average, with two hits in 28 at-bats with a couple of runs batted in.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021


Years ago on the blog I created a 1978 "traded" card for Bobby Bonds, showing him as a member of the Chicago White Sox after coming over from the California Angels.

Today, I thought it'd be fun to create yet another 1978 traded card, this one for his move to the Texas Rangers later in the year:

On May 16th of 1978 Bonds was traded from the White Sox to the Rangers for Rusty Torres and Claudell Washington, going on to play in 130 games in Texas after opening up the season with 26 in the South Side of Chicago.
Over those 130 games Bonds did very well, hitting 29 homers while stealing 37 bases with a .265 batting average, combining for yet another 30/30 season when he hit 31 homers and stole 43 bases.
Along with the homers and steals he scored 93 runs and drove in 90 collecting 151 hits over 565 at-bats in 156 total games.
Really is something how Bonds career went, especially the second half, when he played for seven teams in seven years.
Here's a guy that could slam homers, steal bases, and hit for a respectable average, yet couldn't find a home anywhere even though he was putting in all-star type seasons.
I have to admit I've never read any substantial stories as to the type of person he was, and if THAT was the main reason for his traveling act during his Major League career, but nevertheless the man seemed to be a guy you'd want in your line-up, no?
A five time 30/30 guy with two other "near-misses", he also fell one home run short in 1973 from becoming the first ever 40/40 guy, when he slammed 39 homers along with 43 stolen bases for the San Francisco Giants.
By the time his 14-year career was done, he totaled 332 home runs and 461 steals, along with three Gold Gloves and three all-star selections.
Even though he did put in a solid career, you have to wonder "what could have been" if he found a real home and was able to put in a career that was a bit longer.


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