Monday, October 3, 2022

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1978 JOE SIMPSON

On the blog today, a third "not so missing" card for former outfielder/first baseman Joe Simpson here on the blog, this one a 1978 edition:

 
Simpson appeared in 29 games for the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers during their 1977 season, hitting .174 with four hits over 23 at-bats while getting some time out in all three outfield positions and first base.
He'd be back in 1978 but for only 10 games before finding himself playing for the Seattle mariners in 1979.
Between 1979 and 1982 he averaged about 110 games a year before ending up with the Kansas City Royals in 1983 in what would end up being his last year as a Major League player.
Overall, Simpson finished his nine-year career with a .242 average based on his 338 hits in 1397 at-bats, with 166 runs scored and 124 runs batted in, while also leaving his mark on a pre-teen kid who’d constantly see “Joe Simpson” on what seemed every other card in the early-80’s.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

EXPANDED LEAGUE LEADERS: 1977 N.L. STRIKEOUTS

Today on the blog, we move on in my on-going “expanded league-leaders” thread to the top three strikeout pitchers of the National league for 1976, proudly displayed on a 1977 expanded card:
 
 
We begin with the strikeout king of the N.L. Tom Seaver, New York Mets uber-star, who paced the league with his 235 strikeouts, 21 more than the runner-up in the league.
It was the fifth title for “Tom Terrific” since coming up in 1967, and the ninth straight season of 200+ strikeouts, a career which was already Hall of Fame worthy even though he was far from done.
By the time he retired after the 1986 season, he finished with 3640 K’s over his illustrious career, along with 311 wins, a brilliant 2.86 ERA and 61 shutouts, with three Cy Young Awards.
In second place with 214 strikeouts, young Houston Astros phenom J.R. Richard, who also turned in his first 20-win season along with a very nice 2.75 ERA over 39 starts, with three shutouts among his 14 complete games.
He would also K 214 the following season before posting two straight 300+ strikeout campaigns in 1978 and 1979, becoming a towering force on the mound before a stroke tragically ended his career in his prime halfway into the 1980 season, after starting the All-Star game that year for the N.L.
Though he did try to make it back, he could never quite get back to a Big League mound, leaving us to wonder “what could have been” ever since.
In third place with 200 strikeouts on the nose, another New York Met, underappreciated hurler Jerry Koosman, who reached the 200-strikeout mark for the only time in his excellent Big League tenure, putting in arguably the best year of his career by also posting a record of 21-10 with a very nice 2.69 ERA over 34 games, with three shutouts and 17 complete games.
By the time he retired after the 1985 season, he finished with a record of 222-209 over 612 games, with a 3.36 ERA and 33 shutouts, with 2556 strikeouts.
There you have it! Onto the American League next week!

Saturday, October 1, 2022

1978 ALL-STAR GAME 1979 HIGHLIGHT CARD

Up on the blog today, we go and celebrate the 1978 Major League All-Star game with a 1979 highlight card, something I always wished Topps did as a kid since the Midsummer Classic was a downright HOLIDAY for me back then:
 
 
The game, held at San Diego Stadium on July 11th, saw the A.L. jump out to a quick 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the third inning, something they always seemed to do back then, before the N.L. answered back with three runs of their own.
It would remain 3-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth before the game’s eventual MVP, Los Angeles Dodgers star Steve Garvey, led off the inning with a triple of the New York Yankees’ Goose Gossage, setting up an inning that saw the A.L. fall apart, eventually giving up four runs before the dust settled, resulting in yet another N.L. win, 7-3.
Gossage was credited with the loss while Chicago Cubs reliever Bruce Sutter got the win, and Steve Garvey taking home his second All-Star game MVP, first taking home the award in 1974.
It was the seventh straight win for the National league in the All-Star game, and it was KILLING me as I was still waiting for my American League to win a game since I started watching the sport a few years earlier.
Little did I know I’d still have to wait until 1983 to see a win, thanks to Fred Lynn and his grand slam, which had me almost take down the chandelier hanging in my parent’s living room at that time.

Friday, September 30, 2022

OPC VARIATION SPOTLIGHT: 1977 DEL UNSER

The next OPC image variation we spotlight here on the blog is Del Unser’s 1977 card, which as all other Montreal Expos players, had OPC going the extra mile for their Canadian players with a different image than Topps’ offering:
 
OPC Version

Topps Version

 
Nothing terribly earth-shattering here, just a different posed image that some may consider clearer/cleaner.
Unser put in 15 years in the Majors, coming up with the Washington Senators in 1968 and finishing up with a four-year run with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1982, giving him his one taste of a World Championship in 1980.
In between he also played for the Cleveland Indians in 1972, a first term with the Phillies in 1973/1974, the New York Mets in 1975/1976 and Expos 1976/1978.
All told, he finished with a .258 batting average, with 1344 hits over 1799 games, with 87 homers and 481 runs batted in, with the highlight (besides the championship) would have to be his record setting three consecutive pinch-hit home runs in July of 1979, for which I always remember his “Record Breaker” 1980 Topps card as a kid.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

DEDICATED ROOKIE: 1971 KEN FORSCH

Today on the blog we have a 1971 "dedicated rookie" for former Houston Astros pitcher Ken Forsch, who made him Big League debut with four starts during the 1970 season:

 
Forsch went 1-2 with a 5.63 earned run average in his debut, pitching 24 innings and striking out 13, completing one game.
He had a very good sophomore season in 1971, going 8-8 with a 2.53 ERA over 33 appearances, 23 of those starts, tossing two shutouts and putting in 188.1 innings of work.
He'll go on to put in a 16 year Major League career, with a stretch as a reliever between 1974 and 1978 before returning to a starting role in 1979.
In 1981 he'd find himself playing for the California Angels, where he would play the final five years of his career.
Overall, he finished his career with a record of 114-113, with a 3.37 ERA over 521 appearances, 241 of them starts, with 70 complete games, 18 shutouts, 51 saves and 1047 strikeouts over 2127.1 innings pitched, making two All-Star teams and tossing a no-hitter on April 7th of 1979, joining his brother Bob, who also threw a no-hitter just about a year earlier with the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

THEN & NOW: 1979 DON KESSINGER

Up on the blog today, we have a 1979 “Then & Now” Super Veteran card for former Chicago Cubs All-Star Don Kessinger, who wrapped up a nice Major League career as player-manager with the cross-town White Sox:
 
 
 
Originally up to the Majors in 1964 as a 21-year-old, he would play the first 12 years of his career on Chicago's North Side with the Cubbies, before moving on to the St. Louis Cardinals for a season and a half, then the Chicago White Sox for the last two and a half years of his 16-year career.
Kessinger was really a great player who gets lost over the years, making six all-star teams over his career, along with two Gold Gloves for such a great Cubs team at the time.
In 1969 Kessinger had perhaps his best season in the Big Leagues, collecting a career-best 181 hits, 38 doubles, 53 runs batted in and 109 runs scored.
In 1979, his last season of his career, he was also named manager of the White Sox before handing over the reigns to a young up and coming field general, a guy named Tony LaRussa.
For Kessinger, he would finish his career with 1931 hits, 899 runs, 100 stolen bases and a .252 batting average over 7651 at-bats and 2078 games played.
As a manager however, he didn't have the same result, lasting only 106 games into the 1979 season before getting let go, leading the team to a record of 46-60.
His replacement, Tony LaRussa, incredibly is STILL managing to this day, which boggles my mind.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

SPOTLIGHT: UNISSUED 1977 GARY MATTHEWS PROOF CARD

On the blog today, we take a closer look at an unissued 1977 proof card for former outfielder Gary Matthews, who signed as a Free Agent with the Atlanta Braves after starting his career with the San Francisco Giants:


 
The former N.L. Rookie of the Year signed with Atlanta on November 17th of 1976, in time for Topps to airbrush him into a Braves Uni for the 1977 set.
n 1973, he would really make his mark, hitting an even .300 with 162 hits over 540 at-bats, with 74 runs scored and 58 runs batted in during the 1973 season.
Those numbers would be good enough to take home the N.L. Rookie of the Year Award, easily finishing ahead of the Montreal Expos Steve Rogers for top freshman honors.
It would pretty much be steady straight from there, as he’d go on to consistently put similar numbers up through his tenures with the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs until he’d retire after a brief stint with the Seattle Mariners in 1987.
By the time he left the game as an active player, he racked up a lifetime .281 average, with 2011 hits and 234 home runs to go with his 1083 runs scored and 978 RBI’s.
He’d also put in some excellent postseason performances, as he’d hit .323 over 19 games with seven home runs and 15 RBIs, including an MVP performance in the NL Championship series while with the Phillies when he hit three homers and drove in eight runs in only four games against the Dodgers, helping the “Wheez Kids” make it to the World Series.

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