Wednesday, February 19, 2020

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1972 ERIC SODERHOLM

Today I give you a “not so missing” 1972 card for former slugger Eric Soderholm, who made his MLB debut the previous season for the Minnesota Twins:


Soderholm played in 21 games for the Twins during the 1971 campaign, hitting only .156 as a 22-year-old, with 10 hits over 64 at-bats, with a home run and four runs batted in.
Though he played in 93 games the next year, his batting average didn’t quite make much headway as he hit at a .188 clip, though he did pop 13 homers with 39 at-bats over 287 at-bats.
He performed decent enough for Minnesota over the next few seasons before missing the entire year of 1976 because of a knee injury, which led to the Chicago White Sox taking a flyer on him and signing him as a Free Agent for 1977, and he paid off big time, having what turned out to be the best year of his career with 25 home runs, 67 RBIs and a .280 batting average for the “South Side Hitmen”.
That performance got him the American League “Comeback Player of the Year” Award, which he followed up in 1978 with another solid year, hitting 20 homers with 67 RBIs.
Sadly for him however, injuries, particularly to his knees, took it’s toll, and by 1980 he was out of baseball for good at the age of 31 after 95 games with the New York Yankees.
All told, in nine seasons, he finished with a career .264 batting average, with 102 homers and 383 runs batted in, with 764 hits over 2894 at-bats in 894 games.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1974 DAVE PAGAN

Up on the blog today is a “not so missing” 1974 card for former pitcher Dave Pagan, a player who I’ve created a couple of other cards through the years:


Pagan made his MLB debut in 1973 with four appearances for the New York Yankees, one of those a start, not factoring in a decision while posting a nice 2.84 earned run average over 12.2 innings.
Overall he had a five-year career, finishing with a 4-9 record, along with a 4.96 E.R.A., one shutout, four saves and 147 K's over 232.1 innings of work spread over 85 games pitching for the Yanks, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates.
One last note on Pagan: he hails from the relatively remote town of Nipawin, Saskachewan, Canada.
Check out the location! As far as a baseball player goes, man that is remote!
A good friend of mine lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the Winters there are insane. THIS town of Nipawin is a few hundred miles NORTH of that! So I can't even imagine what it's like up there…

Monday, February 17, 2020

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1977 JOE KEENER

Really fun card to add to the virtual “collection”, here’s my 1977 “not so missing” card for two-game Major League pitcher Joe Keener of the Montreal Expos, who had his day in the sun as a September call-up in 1976:


Keener’s two-game Big League career totaled 4.1 innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits for a bloated 10.38 earned run average, with both appearances being starts for Montreal.
It would be the only Major League action of his professional career, which spanned 1973 through 1979, all for Montreal, for whom he had some really nice MiLB seasons, especially 1974 when he posted a record of 16-6 with a sparkling 1.77 ERA over his 27 starts between A and Triple-A ball.
Nevertheless, he finished his career with a record of 0-1 over those two games, walking eight (ouch!) with one strikeout over 27 batters faced through those 4.1 innings.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

NICKNAMES OF THE 1970'S- 1971 ROBERTO CLEMENTE. "THE GREAT ONE"

Time to finally go and add a Roberto Clemente “nickname” card to my long-running thread, celebrating one of the all-time greats, aptly tagged with the nickname “The Great One”, not only for his on-field heroics but his incredible life off the field:


I know his other nickname was “Arriba”, but I felt this one is more suitable for the legacy of the man, as he really was “The Great One” for so many Puerto Ricans who looked up to him at a time when Latin players were not as appreciated as they are today.
Clemente was just incredible. As a hitter, as an outfielder, and as a man who was always helping others, which as we all know tragically led to his death as he was helping Nicaraguans after an earthquake, trying to deliver supplies on December 31st, 1972.
It’s incredible to think that the only reason he even needed to get on the plane himself to accompany the much needed supplies to Nicaragua was because the first THREE supply planes had the supplies diverted by the corrupt government there, leading Clemente to think that if he went there personally the government would allow the supplies to reach the people who needed them most. Think about that. Just awful.
Just an amazing player I wish I had gotten a chance to see first hand.
Indeed “The Great One”.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

AIRBRUSHING THROUGH THE 1970'S: 1973 BILL HANDS

Today’s blog post looks at the great airbrushing job the fine folks at Topps did for former pitcher Bill hands and his 1973 card. Take a look:


Granted, the ivy covered wall in the background is the dead giveaway that he was at Wrigley Field, but what a great job of getting him into a Minnesota Twins uni for the card!
If my eyes aren’t deceiving me, the airbrush artist even went as far as touching up the outfielder to match him up as well in the correct uniform. THAT is some dedication!
Hands was traded to the Twins from the Cubs on November 30th of 1972 along with two others for Dave LaRoche, which kind of mystifies me since Hands was a steady starter for the Cubs for five seasons at that point, while LaRoche was a solid reliever, though nothing spectacular. So why did the Cubs give up three players for him?
Nevertheless, Hands retired with a 111-110 record and 3.35 E.R.A in 374 career games between 1965 and 1975, pitching for the Giants, Cubs, Twins and Rangers.
The high point of his career was easily 1969 while pitching for the Chicago Cubs.
That season he teamed up with Fergie Jenkins, forming a 20-game winning one-two punch, going 20-14 with a nice 2.49 E.R.A. while starting 41 games, good for 300 innings on the nose.

Friday, February 14, 2020

CAREER-CAPPER: 1975 GEORGE CULVER

Time to go and add former pitcher George Culver to the long-running “career-capper” thread with this 1975 edition as he finished off a nine-year Big League career in 1974:


Culver appeared in 14 games for the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1974 season, going 1-0 with a bloated 6.65 earned run average over 21.2 innings of work.
He would go and spend all of 1975 in the Minors, but never appear in a Major League game again, finishing his Big League tenure with a record of 48-49 with an ERA of 3.62 over 335 appearances and 788.2 innings pitched.
His best season would be 1968, as with many other National League pitchers, when he posted a record of 11-16 for the Cincinnati Reds along with an ERA of 3.23 over 42 appearances, 35 of those starts, with five complete games, two shutouts and two saves.
In doing the quick research for this post, I was amazed to see that Culver also had brief appearances in the Minors through the 1980’s, with two games in 1981 after not pitching pro-ball since 1975, one game in 1982 and another three appearances in 1985 at the age of 41, all in the Phillies system.
It was not pretty, as he got hammered each and every time with ERA’s of 13.50, 27.00 and 16.62 respectively, but I suspect he was making these appearances while serving as a coach in the Philadelphia system, so it was probably more gimmicky than anything else.
Anyone know?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

GIMMIE A DO-OVER- 1973 JOHNNY BENCH

I don’t know about you, but the 1973 Johnny Bench card has always irked me. I hated the image they used for the reigning National League MVP and uber-star.
Today on the blog I went and created a new version with a nifty image I found that is era-perfect, showing not only the all-time great in-action, but we get a bonus shot of those sweet mustard San Diego Padres uniforms as well!
Here you go:


Have to say this is right up there as one of my favorite creations! May have to have this printed to add to the 1973 binder!
Of course, at the time this card would have been pulled from a pack 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.
Genuinely a once in a lifetime player.

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