Wednesday, July 31, 2013

#100's for the 100th

For my 100th post on this blog, I thought I'd get "cute" and take a look at all the cards numbered "100" in the 1970's by Topps.
When I first thought about doing this, I figured at least ONE of them would be an all-time favorite card of mine, but alas this was not to be. As a matter of fact NONE of them are even considered "great" in my eyes.
As we all know Topps had long practiced the habit of "reserving" the double-zero's (100, 200, etc) for super-star players in their sets, so it was no surprise at the level of super stars depicted.
But it was still interesting to note that of the ten cards (1970-79), eight depict Hall of Famers, one should be in the Hall (depending on how you feel about gambling), and one was a very good pitcher before calling it a career by the middle of the decade.
For the number "100", they were true to form. Let's take a look:

1970: Mel Stottlemyre: Right off the bat we have the only guy given the number during the '70's that isn't considered a Hall of Famer. Though a very effective pitcher, Mel had to call it a career after arm troubles in 1974 at the age of 32, but not before posting three 20 win seasons and a lifetime E.R.A. of 2.97. in eleven years of Major League action.
As for the card itself. Eh. Not much to write home about. Boring, posed, and set against an empty stadium with that "love it or hate it" grey border. Definitely not one of my favorites. Take a look:

1971: Pete Rose: Now, while I do love the 1971 set, and really can't find much to complain about, the Rose card was a posed shot that didn't do much to please the eye. I guess I like the card, but only because of "classic" look of the thing.
Rose ends up being the last guy with the #100 designation we'll look at who didn't end up in the Hall. But I'm sure some of you would disagree with this. I may fall into this group as well. To me, not having the all-time hit leader and "Player of the Decade" for the 1970's in the Hall of Fame is just a giant empty hole in Cooperstown. However, "Charlie Hustle" certainly didn't help himself by acting like a complete idiot during the mess that lead to him being banned.

1972: Frank Robinson: This is a nice card. For me, one of the better #100 cards of the '70's. Just a pleasant, colorful card of one of the greatest players of all-time on one of the better teams in baseball history.
Funny enough, Robinson was to be traded to the Dodgers for the 1972 season, and he was included in Topps' first "traded" endeavor later in the set showing him in Dodger blue.
Regardless, I love the colors on this card. A classic card from a classic set.

1973: Hank Aaron: Decent card, nice set design. But really, of all photos to use who was well on his way to an all-time home run crown, you go and use one of him ready to catch a pop-up?!
I'm not saying this card is ugly, by any means. But man, this is Hank Aaron. Topps could have easily picked a better image of him popping one out of Fulton County Stadium. But we all know how that 1973 set confused and annoyed collectors ever since it was released, mainly due to the photo selections Topps made.
I may have to "re-do" this card on this blog sometime soon. Stay tuned for it.

1974: Willie Stargell: Not a bad looking card. Yeah it's a boring posed shot, but the colors all work well together, and the photo fits in with the overall design. I like the cleanliness of it, and this is classic "Pops" before he really began looking like a "pops". Dig the sideburns and goatee. The '70's were in full effect ladies and gentlemen!

1975: Willie Stargell: Well well! A repeat from the year before! Well, I'm a sucker for the 1975 set, and this card doesn't disappoint. I like the green borders, and Stargell looks great with the swinging pose, bat right at the camera.
This would be the only time a player had the number 100 more than once in the decade. Not a bad choice for it!

1976: Jim Hunter: Now, I COULD be an ass and refuse to say anything bad about my all-time favorite set. After all, I can easily lie to myself and say that the set could do no wrong. But I guess old-age has taught me to be objective when necessary, and I DO have to admit that the card is a bit boring.
Lame posed shot, lame background. But hey, the coloration of the card is nice! And this card pretty much displayed the last "hurrah" for Hunter, as he began his rapid decline from top-notch pitching ace in 1976 due to injuries. Although he posted monster number in 1975, he'd be out of the game in just four years, but not before posting up (arguably) Hall of Fame numbers.
An action photo could have easily made this my favorite "#100" card from the '70's. That's how much I love the card design elements. Oh well, perhaps another "do-over" in the future...

1977: Joe Morgan: Well. Not that great a card. I mean, where exactly is Morgan looking anyway? However, for a kid of eight years old back then, this card was legendary! This was Joe Morgan of the "Big Red Machine", the team that just swept my beloved Yankees in the World Series the year before. I remember staring at Morgan, Rose, Bench and the rest of those guys that made the Yanks look like their bitches! I was in awe of this force from Cincinnati.
Add to that fact that this card has "N.L. ALL-STARS" screaming out from the bottom of the card, and I felt I was truly looking at a "God".

1978: George Brett: This is my favorite "#100" from the decade. Strange since it doesn't have some great action shot, or even some interesting pose. But there was something about this youthful Brett with the sun shining, and that All-Star badge that made me love this card. Granted, I love the '78 set, probably second only to the '76 for me. But nevertheless there's just something about this card that has that aura of "super star". A classic...

1979: Tom Seaver: My second favorite card in this post. I would LOVE this card so much more but I was never really a fan of the 1979 set design, even though two of my all-time favorite cards (Carew and Brett) are from this very set, but they were aided by "lucky" color schemes and the "All-Star" banner running across the bottom part of the card.
Still, this is a great shot of "Tom Terrific" delivering a pitch. I remember thinking how much better the card would have looked like if Topps gave the Reds a red team banner instead of yellow. I mean, the "Reds" with a red banner made sense to me. No? I also HATED that obnoxious "Topps" logo in the baseball between the team name and the main image. Ugh, why?!

So there you have it. A quick look at all the cards numbered "100" throughout the 1970's for my 100th post on this blog. Eight Hall of Fame cards, the "Player of the 1970's", and a former Yankee ace.
Now let's see if this blog keeps going towards it's 200th post so I can do this again...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Jeez. Imagine being Dick Green in 1973 and seeing your baseball card for the first time.
What a smack of reality when you gaze down upon this little piece of cardboard:

For all the world to see...forever and ever and ever.

I mean really, why on earth would they select THIS photo for a player's card. Did Green piss someone off over at Topps or something?
Ironically, Green was a decent fielding player, yet he gets to have an ERROR depicted on his baseball card for eternity!
This is a guy who went on to win the Babe Ruth Award for the 1974 World Series BECAUSE of his defensive play! Seriously, he went 0-13 with four strikeouts in the series, yet STILL won the award for his brilliant defensive performance!
But here you have him muffing a ball, frozen in time for the ages. Man that is rough.
We all know the 1973 had a strange, sometimes inexplicable selection of photos on cards, but showing a player making an error? This may top the Willie Davis card for "low blow" in my book.
You HAVE to think the Topps people were having a little bit of fun at the expense of the A's second baseman. But why?
Those people at Topps were a tough bunch sometimes...

Monday, July 29, 2013


So...what EXACTLY is Sam McDowell so pissed about on his 1971 Topps card (#150)?!
Jeez! He may not have intended it, but this HAS to go down as one of the (accidentally) funniest cards out there from the decade!
Just take a gander at the expression on McDowell's face! He looks PISSED!!! Good gosh man! Calm down...
What is going on here? Was he trying to be funny? Or was he really not a happy camper when this photo was snapped? I'd love to know the background to this pose.
I just hope the photographer asked him for his "game face", and Sam did a bit of over-acting. If not, could you imagine having THAT staring you down in the batter's box?
By now we all know McDowell had his own personal demons lurking beneath the surface, but was he THIS tortured even during a baseball card shoot?

Did someone in the stands just piss him off?!


What would you say to a player logging six at-bats over six games getting his own baseball card the following year?
How about if I go one further and then state that this very same player didn't even play the year before that, or even the year before THAT?!
Odd, but this is exactly what happened with Topps giving Jim Campanis his own card in their 1974 set (#513).
I've always wondered why they even bothered to give this guy a card. He wasn't a "rookie star" or up-and-coming future star. He wasn't even some super star player at the tail end of his career, who Topps may have wanted to give a proper send-off with a final card.
He was just this lower-level catcher who played sparingly over the course of six years for the Dodgers, Royals and Pirates (for those six AB's mentioned earlier). Yet for some reason Topps felt it necessary to use one of their slots in the '74 set for him, even though he totaled 6 games in the past three seasons.
It was Campanis' first card since the 1970 set when he was a member of the inaugural Kansas City Royals team. He also had a card in the '68 set (only other solo) and the '67 set (as a rookie on the same card as Bill Singer).
Yet you can't help but wonder if the fact that Jim is the son of Dodger GM Al Campanis, that some sort of "hook up" was given here. Perhaps? Could it be?
But really, when you think about it, that sounds absurd. Why would Topps even bother?
By the time this card saw the light of day, Jim was already out of baseball as a player and working for the Dodgers in some capacity, leaving the catching gear behind him.
All told, his career comprised of 113 games and 217 at-bats for an eye-popping .147 career average. Seriously, the highest he ever batted was .161 in 61 at-bats for L.A. in 1967. But in all fairness, I do hear that he was a pretty good defensive guy behind the plate. Guess he had to be, right?
What's (not so) funny is, about the biggest thing this guy was remembered for regarding his career was that his own father traded him to the Royals in 1968 for "future considerations". Not exactly a comfortable Thanksgiving around that table I'm sure!

A card for THIS guy?

Sunday, July 28, 2013


One of THE players that always made me wish Topps created one last card AFTER retirement was Hank Aaron.
I mean, come on! Back in 1977 before the age of the ever-present internet and instant gratification, who wouldn't have wanted to stare at those insane stats after he was out of the game. 
It was crazy enough to look at the back of his 1976 card and get blown away by the numbers. But just to have the COMPLETE statistics on a lovely slab of cardboard would have been fantastic.
And while I DO think Aaron's 1976 issue was an awesome "last card", the 1977 set was so nice in the opposite way: clean and classic, it would have been great for Topps to throw in an Aaron card for posterity.
There's really no need to get into his whole bio here, as we all pretty much know it by heart at this point. This was HANK AARON for pete's sake...
Well, I went ahead and drew up an imaginary 1977 card to go along with the others I've seen created out there on the blogosphere. Consider this a tribute to the great "Hammerin' Hank".
By the time he left the game I was just getting into the sport hard-core, and he was nothing short of a "God" to my seven-year old self. He was instantly a mythical being who I only got to see in those awesome "Oh Henry" candy-bar commercials (anyone remember those?).
Love the way the colors all work together on this one. Enjoy…
One last hurrah for "Hammerin' Hank".

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I have always taken an odd interest in former batting champ Alex Johnson over the years.
I have no idea how it started. But by about 1982 I was borderline obsessed with this guy who managed to win a batting championship in the middle of all these superstar batting champs in the A.L.
I mean, it wasn't like he was a scrub or anything. But look at the names of the American League batting champs from 1963 through 1979: Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Oliva, Frank Robinson, Rod Carew, Alex Johnson, George Brett and Fred Lynn. Now what name really doesn't belong? We're talking six BIG names in baseball through those years, and Alex.
Anyway, during this odd interest in Johnson I realized that he never had a card in the 1976 set, my favorite set of all-time. Odd when you think about it, because he actually had a card issued in the 1977 set, yet he never played that year! But for 1976, his actual last year in the big leagues, nothing.
To a nerdy kid obsessed with baseball and baseball cards this was big…and annoying. (I'm sure SOME of you out there know exactly what I'm feeling here, correct?).
Well, to finally make it right, I have designed a nice 1976 Topps Alex Johnson card, showing him in his Tiger uniform.
He appeared in 125 games for Detroit that year, who he signed with in January of '76, and batted .268 with 6 homers and 45 r.b.i.'s. Not too shabby a swan song. Yeah, I know I'm pushing it a bit, since Topps would have never been able to get a Tiger card of him out for that set. But for once I went with where he would have been playing THAT year instead of the previous year. And to be honest, I have no idea why, especially since Johnson played with my favorite team in '75, the Yanks.
But here you go. The "missing" 1976 Alex Johnson. Former batting champ. Former headache. And former mystery to me for so many years.
Former A.L. batting champ in 1976.

Friday, July 26, 2013


If there ever was a perfect visual as to what the 1970's were to Major League Baseball on a social level, I think Bob Coluccio and his three successive baseball cards were it.
While his career wasn't much to write home about, spanning five sporadic years between 1973 and 1978 for the Brewers, White Sox and Cardinals, Bob managed to have three Topps cards.
And what a set of three cards they were!
Beginning in 1974, you have a nice, clean-cut wide-eyed young player with all the possibilities of stardom at his feet. Check it out:

Welcome to the big leagues Bob!

After a "decent" rookie year in 1973 where he appeared in 124 games for Milwaukee and popped 15 homers, Coluccio was rewarded with a nice rookie card in the 1974 set that we can all say was normal in every way. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Bob even got more playing time with the Brewers that season, managing to get into 138 games but without the muscle of the year before, hitting only 6 home runs while maintaining his low .220's batting average. Not a good omen for things to come.
But he did get his second card out there, and it looked pretty cool as party of that colorful 1975 offering. Take a look:

Hmmm...Looking a bit scraggly there Bob.
Now, nothing TOO crazy here, but Bob seems to be growing his hair out a bit. Looks a little "rougher" around the edges, don't you think? But hey, nothing a bunch of other players weren't doing come 1975, so no big deal. Still a nice looking card.
The '75 season wasn't too kind to Mr. Coluccio, as his playing time was cut dramatically, as was his production at the plate, giving us a .202/.284/.314 slash line. Certainly nothing to write home about.
On top of that, Bob was traded on May 8th of that year to the White Sox for Bill Sharp, another of those light-hitting guys patrolling the outfield back then.
Nevertheless, he garnered enough playing time for Topps to bring him back for their 1976 set (my favorite set of all time), and boy was it a DOOZY!
This would end up being Coluccio's last baseball card, and he went out with a bang!
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the new and improved BOB COLUCCIO:

Welcome to the '70's Bob!!!
Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! The hair, the 'stache, and those oh-so-70's shades! Perfect!
All that's missing is a slightly unbuttoned jersey with some tufts of chest hair peeking out, and a gold necklace with a big medallion.
Again, this transformation is all between '74 and '76. He's something right out of a Chicago police station!
Bob's career ended after the 1978 season, where he briefly played for the Cardinals. He appeared in only five games, going 0-3. But what a legacy he left us with his cards right?
Really. How can you NOT love 1970's baseball cards.
Tonight I will honor Robert Pasquali Coluccio over a few shots of bourbon. From one Italian to another.
Cheers Bob!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Go figure! Even though I actually started collecting the 1975 set when it came out 38 years ago, I NEVER knew or even realized that the all-stars in the set, much like Topps 1971 football set, were all color coordinated with a specific boder scheme: yellow and red.
Yeah, I know, DUH! I feel dumb even writing this here on the blog!
Somehow this never dawned on me! And upon coming to this realization a few days ago I was stunned. I can't believe with all my card collecting mania over almost four decades I never caught on to it.
Anyway, with this fact slapping me in the face, I also realized that when I created the "missing" Reggie Jackson all-star card in one of my first posts on this blog, I had it wrong.
So today I offer up the CORRECT "missing" Reggie Jackson all-star card, with the correct color borders as per the 1975 Topps scheme.
I have righted a wrong, and I feel the world is back on track again...

1975 Reggie card as issued by Topps.
Corrected with yellow & red color scheme and All-Star status.


Here's the eighth round of weekly trivia related to 1970's baseball...As usual, I'll post the answers tomorrow.

1. Which Yankee broke up three no-hitters in the 9th inning in less than one month in 1970?

2. Bob Gibson's 3000th strikeout victim in 1974 is the same batter who will go on to be Nolan Ryan's 3000th strikeout victim 6 years later. Who is he?

3. Who was the first player in history to get 100 hits from each side of the plate, achieving this in 1979?

4. Just in time for the end of the decade: who became the first player to earn a million dollars a year, signing his contract in November of 1979?

5. Who was the only player to lead the league in batting during the '70's without a home run?


1. Horace Clarke.

2. Cesar Geronimo.

3. Garry Templeton, St. Louis Cardinals.

4. Nolan Ryan, signing with the Houston Astros.

5. Rod Carew in 1972. He batted .318 while failing to hit any homers.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


For this installment of "Gimme a Do-Over", I followed up the 1974 Tom Seaver card with one of his pitching nemesis, Fergie Jenkins and HIS 1974 card (#87).
Understandably, Topps did not have an image of Jenkins in his new uniform as a member of the Texas Rangers. After all, he was traded from the Cubs in October, 1973, apparently too late for Topps to have an image to use for their upcoming baseball card set.
So what we were given was about the most UN-baseball-like image I have ever seen on a card.
Seriously, this image always reminded me of a promo still-shot from some movie. Look at him, as he stares off in the distance, wind seemingly blowing through his hair. Life and all it's mysteries.
It certainly does NOT look like one of the top pitching aces of the decade, winner of 284 career games while also becoming the first pitcher to have that many K's while walking less than 1000 batters.
Jenkins was always under-appreciated in the game. Sure, he won a Cy Young Award in 1971, but when you're pitching in the same era as Seaver, Ryan, Gibson, Carlton, Palmer, Perry, etc, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Nevertheless Fergie was awesome, a seven-time 20 game winner, topping 200 strike outs six times, finishing in the Cy Young top-5 no less than five times in his 19-year career.
He was finally voted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, cementing a superstar career playing for the Phillies, Cubs, Rangers and Red Sox.
So here you have a redesigned card with him a bit more recognizable as a baseball player. I used an image of him from 1975 I believe, as a player I cropped out from the image was on the Rangers roster that year. Enjoy...

About as "un-baseball" as you can get.

In all his Texas glory.


Here's one that'll leave many people scratching their heads as to "why?"
The 1973 Willie Davis card by Topps, #35.
Perhaps they were dead set on using an "action" shot for Davis? Or maybe they just couldn't get a better image for him? Who knows?
But I have to ask, why on earth would they use THIS image which shows him either getting beaned or brushed back?! It's almost painful to look at!
I don't even know where his helmet went!
Alas, I guess Topps got it right. If there ever was an action-shot, there it is! Too bad the action depicted wasn't necessarily needed to be seen on a baseball card.
I imagine all the Willie Davis fans out there were NOT too happy with this card when it came out. 
On a side-note that's either Tim McCarver or John Bateman looking on as the Phillies catcher. The two catchers were traded for each other in June of 1972 and both wore the same number, so It's pretty tough to see which player it is.
Crazy card from that treasure trove of strange cards: 1973.
Now THAT'S "action"!!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I was rummaging through cards the other day and was really focusing on players I had no clue about. As I was flipping through the last series in the 1970 set I came across a Lou Marone card (#703).
Now, me being an Italian, I always take a second look at a player with a name that's something out of my own neighborhood, so I checked his career out on and found exactly what I was looking for: one of those players who got a heck of a lot more life out of his baseball card than his own career.
By the time his 1970 card came around, Marone's career was pretty much already done. He appeared in only one game for the Pirates that year, going 2.1 innings and giving up a homer. And that was it. Not just for the year, but for his career.
In 1969 he posted some pretty solid stats, appearing in 29 games out of the 'pen and sporting a split 1-1 record with a nifty 2.55 E.R.A. in 35.1 innings. He also had 25 K's while only giving up 24 hits. Not too bad at all.
I couldn't find much else on his career, other than he finally hung them up in 1972 after some Minor League action in the Pirates organization.
I've always had a soft-spot for guys that appeared on cards, only to be out of the game by the time their little claim to fame on cardboard was out there for kids to gawk at when they ripped open packs come Spring the following year.
Here's to you Lou. Hope you found better success outside the game later on!
Card #703 in the 1970 Topps set.

Monday, July 22, 2013


This card has always cracked me up since it came out 35 years ago!
1978 George ("Doc") Medich, #583.
Forget for a second the bad airbrushing between Doc Medich's face and the blue-ish background around the nose. Forget the bad airburshing on his actual face around the chin.
What KILLS me is the cap. Can anyone scream "TEXAS!!!!"?! 
Ha! That Texas "T" is HUGE! The cap looks like some bad little league cap with an iron-on logo on the front.
Look, I totally get the limitations of airbrushing photos back then. As a graphic designer by profession, I actually deal with similar stuff even today with all of our modern computer technology.
But come on! What's with the total lack of sizing!?
If you want a better idea of what the logo size should have been, check out card # 588 from the 1978 set, Jim Mason. Though a little on the "big" size as it is, it's nothing compared to the giant  "T" on the Medich card.
I remember my friend Rob way back when being the first to pull this card and literally scream out "TEXAS!!!", while holding the card up for all of us to see.
A classic.
Is that a Texas-sized "T" or what?!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


For those not familiar with this thread, my "In Memoriam" series are card profiles of players who died while still active in the Major Leagues during the decade of the '70's. Some of these men actually had cards issued of them after their death, while for others who did not, I designed a memorial card using the following season's design as a tribute "capper" if you will.
Today's memorial is about Don Wilson, former Astros fireballing pitcher.
In a short nine year career for the Houston Astros (with one "year" encompassing one appearance in his debut), Wilson made a name for himself as a power pitcher who put up some solid numbers before tragedy struck before the 1975 season.
Making his Major League debut at the end of the 1966 season, Wilson went on to post a very nice career 3.15 E.R.A. while winning 104 games against 92 losses. 1971 was perhaps his most successful season, being named to the N.L. All-star team for the only time in his career with a 16-10 record, 2.45 E.R.A. and 180 strikeouts in a career-high 268 innings.
Of course, Wilson's lasting mark on the game were his two no-hitters, both against good teams.
On June 18th, 1967 he threw a 2-0 gem against the Atlanta Braves at the Astrodome, where he struck out 15 batters. As a matter of fact he struck out Hank Aaron for the final out. Then on May 1st of 1969 (just a week before I entered the world I might add), he no-hit the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 a day after Jim Maloney of the Reds no-hit the Astros! Only the second time that ever happened where there were back to back no-hitters by opposing teams against each other. Sandwiched in between these two no-no's was Wilson's team record 18-strikeout performance against the Reds on July 14th, 1968 where he won, 6-1. That is still the Astros team record for K's in a game, even with guys like J.R. Richard, Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott and Roger Clemens taking the mound as members of the Houston organization since.
Incredibly enough, Wilson almost had a THIRD no-hitter, when he was no-hitting the Reds (again) after eight innings on September 4th of 1974 before he was PULLED FOR A PINCH-HITTER in the ninth inning, since his team was down 2-1!
Can you even imagine that today? Sadly, that was to be one of his last Major League games.
Tragically, on January 5th of 1975 Wilson accidentally died at his Houston home along with his son, an accident that also caused his wife and daughter to be hospitalized.
The Astros retired his number "40" in April of that year, while also honoring him on the "Wall of Honor" at Minute Maid Park when it opened years later.
Topps had already understandably produced their cards for the upcoming 1975 season when the Wilson accident occurred, so he was included in the set (#455) after he passed away.
I have taken his existing card and added a "Memoriam" strip in remembrance of the Astro fireballer.
February 12, 1945- January 5th, 1975.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Any baseball fan of the 1970's is quite familiar with the lack of love between the American Leagues two best catchers of the decade, Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson.
They openly despised each other not only as combatants for dominance behind the plate, but as members of the hottest rivalry in the game, the Red Sox and Yankees.
For most of the decade it was either Fisk or Munson starting the all-star game as catcher for the A.L. Both won Rookie of the Year honors just two years apart: 1970 for Munson and 1972 for Fisk. Munson pulled in an M.V.P. award in 1976 while Fisk gave the baseball world one of the most exciting moments in the game's history: his game-winning homer off the foul pole in the World Series just a year earlier against the Reds. 
Throw in two notorious brawls in 1973 and 1976, along with some name-calling in the press, and these two guys, who ironically had a lot in common outside of the game, were the epitome of sports and the "me against you" attitude.
After Munsons tragic death in 1979 Fisk went on to say that they never "hated" each other outside of baseball, and that they really respected each other.
However, as long as it was between the foul lines, these guys were mortal enemies who were always keeping tabs on each other, especially Munson. 
I've read on more than one occasion that he used to scan the box scores the following day to see what Fisk did the previous game.
Well, in some sort of twisted "honor" of these two warriors, I dedicate this installment of "Accidental Photo-Bombing" to them with appearances they made in the 1978 set on someone elses card: Munson on Doug Ault's #267 issue and Fisk on Roy White's #16 card.
The White card is especially nice since you can see Fisk's expression as he tracks the ball heading to what seems to be the outfield. Nice shot that makes up a very nice baseball card.
Gotta love that '78 set!
The Yankee Captain behind the plate.

Fisk tracking the ball hit by White.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Good Lord!
What a shot for Topps to use for the 1975 Lenny Randle card!
The guy looks absolutely tortured here.
One of those cards that always stuck in my mind for the strange picture used.
I'm always reminded of that old "Wide World of Sports" tag-line:
"The thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat".

Probably what Jim Creighton looked like after his tragic swing in 1862!


I remember the first time I saw Harmon Killebrew's statistics when my cousin gave me a 1973 card of him when I was about 11 years old in 1980.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. All the home runs, all the R.B.I.'s from a player I never knew about. To count out EIGHT 40+ home run seasons blew me away.
This was right before I got my first Macmillan Encyclopedia, so baseball cards really were the only place back then to see stats of players who were around before you were a fan. I just kept rereading those power stats again and again, amazed every time as if I was seeing them for the first time.
Throw in the fact that the 1973 card of Killebrew is pretty damn cool, I was hooked on "Killer" ever since.
Over the years I was able to meet him on more than one occasion and just listen to him tell some stories, not just about baseball but some golf thrown in for good measure. He was an amazing person who was friendly, patient and always seemed to have a smile on his face.
Playing for Washington, Minnesota and a final season in Kansas City between 1954 and 1975, Killebrew mashed 573 home runs to go along with 1584 R.B.I.'s, winning an M.V.P. award along the way in 1969 while finishing in the top five in voting five other seasons.
In 1984 he was inducted in the Hall of Fame, capping off a stellar career that sometimes gets lost among the Mantles, Mays, Clementes and Aarons that were garnering all the attention in the same era.
But nevertheless, here is my design for what should have been a final card for the Hall of Famer, a 1976 edition showing him on his last team, the Royals, in one of my all time favorite baseball card sets.

"Killer" calling it a career.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Here we are for the seventh round of weekly trivia pertaining to 1970's baseball...I'll post the answers tomorrow.

1. Who was the only player in the decade to post consecutive 40+ homer seasons?

2. Four players made their debut in the 70's who went on to play into the 00's. Who are they?

3. Which player became the first to be born in the 1960's to appear in an MLB game?

4. Who set the record at the time for saves with 38 in 1973?

5. Besides Nolan Ryan, who was the only other pitcher to post consecutive 300+ strikeout seasons in the decade?


1. George Foster: 1977-78.

2. Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Mike Morgan and Jesse Orosco.

3. Tim Conroy: Born April, 3, 1960 and debuted on June 23, 1978.

4. John Hiller, Detroit Tigers. This record stood until 1983 when Dan Quisenberry saved 45.

5. J.R. Richard, who posted 300+ strikeout seasons in 1978 and 1979.


Today I wanted to examine one of my favorite sub-sets of the 70's, Topps first attempt at a "Traded" set of any kind, cards #751 through #757.
It comprised of only seven cards, but among them you have three future Hall of Famers, six Cy Youngs awards, five M.V.P. awards, and a few little tid-bits of importance in baseball "history".
Starting off with the first card in the sub-set, #751 Steve Carlton, we have the future Hall member showing up as a Phillie for the first time on a card. We all know what happened next: an absolutely amazing 1972 season where he went 27-10 with a 1.97 E.R.A. and 310 strikeouts, easily giving him his first of FOUR Cy Young awards. "Lefty" would go on to forge a Hall of Fame career, ending up with 329 wins to go along with 4136 K's and a championship in 1980.
The second card, #752, was a signifier of a very important piece of baseball history that was about to unfold: the "Big Red Machine" Cincinnati Reds of the 1970's. When Joe Morgan was traded to the Reds in November 1971, it was to be the final piece the Reds needed to become the juggernaut they were hinting they would become a few years later.
Morgan was added to an already powerful line up featuring uber-stars Bench, Rose, Perez and Concepcion among others, leading to two consecutive championships in 1975-76 and catapulting Morgan into the spotlight with M.V.P.'s both years, ending up in the Hall of Fame in 1990. Easily the cream of the crop in the N.L. as far as second basemen went, the perennial all-star gave the Reds that combination of speed and power that was relentless in a line up that could bash you into submission from the get go.
Card #753 shows Denny McLain, former two-time Cy Young winner and 1968 M.V.P. on his new team, the Oakland A's as he was closing out his career.
A bit of a tragic story, McLain is obviously best knows as the last pitcher to win 30+ games in a season (1968), but sadly equally as known for all his problems with the law in his post-baseball career.
1972 was to be his last season in the bigs, closing out a short 10-year career with the Braves down in Atlanta, where he was traded to in June for Orlando Cepeda. In the end he sported a 131-91 career record with a 3.39 E.R.A. to go along with his awards mentioned above.
Next up in the sub-set we have one of the all-time greats, card #754, Frank Robinson, who was traded over to the Los Angeles Dodgers in December of 1971 from the Orioles. He ended up spending only one season in L.A., but didn't move very far, as he was traded to the California Angels about a year later and had a couple of very productive seasons, contributing to his amazing career of 586 home runs, 1812 R.B.I.'s and 2943 hits. I always wondered why he didn't have the "extra" at-bats at the end of his career to try and get to 3,000, especially since he ended his playing days as a player-manager on the Indians. 
Anyway, his one year in the City of Angels wasn't his best showing: a line of .251/.353/.442 to go along with 19 homers and 59 ribbies in 103 games. This lead to only the third time in his 17 year career at that point where he didn't garner any M.V.P. consideration. Incredible.
Jim Fregosi follows up Robinson in his new Mets digs on card #755. As we all know, Fregosi was traded to the Mets in December of 1971 for four players, one of them being Nolan Ryan. Definitely one of the all-time bad trades in baseball history! However, at the time it must be noted that Fregosi really was arguably the best short stop in the American League, posting eight consecutive seasons where he received M.V.P. votes by season's end. Sadly for the Mets he couldn't continue this success, and found himself in Shea for only about a season and a half.
He did move onto a relatively successful managerial career after his playing days were done, managing the Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays over 15 years between 1978-2000. Of note, he was the manager of the Phillies team that lost the World Series to the Jays in 1993 thanks in part to Joe Carter's series-ending blast of Mitch Williams. He was also at the helm of the powerful 1979 Angels team that finished first and lost to the Orioles in the playoffs. This was a team with Rod Carew, Don Baylor, Carney Lansford, Bobby Grich, Brian Downing, Dan Ford and Willie Aikens. A monster line up that also had Nolan Ryan as their pitching ace. Not too shabby.
Card #756 gives us Rick Wise, the pitcher that was traded for Steve Carlton, whom we looked at earlier in this sub-set. At the time of the trade, this wasn't exactly a lop-sided trade as Wise was already a proven veteran with seven successful years under his belt even though he was still only 25 years old.
However, when you look at what Carlton ended up achieving as a Phillies ace, you can't help but call this a trade-bust even though Wise went on to have a few more solid seasons before he hung up the spikes in 1982. All told he posted a 188-181 record with a 3.69 E.R.A. and 1647 K's over 18 seasons. Certainly admirable to say the least. But of course he'll always be that answer to the trivia question: who did the Phillies give up for Steve Carlton?
The last card in the set, #757, is perhaps the only card in the set that doesn't really depict a star player, even though this player did post a decent 18-year career spanning 1963-1980: Jose Cardenal.
Traded from the Brewers to the Cubs in December of 1971, Cardenal posted his best seasons as a big-leaguer as a member of the North-siders. As a matter of fact he even got some M.V.P. play in both 1972 and 1973 as an outfielder with a little pop in his bat and some speed on the base paths. He eventually hung them up after the 1980 season where he split time with the Royals and Mets. All told he would end up with just under 2000 hits, a .275 batting average, and over 300 stolen bases spread out over 2017 games.
So there you have it: seven cards that show "Traded" blazing across the front with a small write-up on the back, thrown in as a new sub-set in the monster 787-card 1972 Topps baseball card set. Definitely a great idea, but I wish they could have done something other than the "Married with Children" stencil font "rubber-stamp" TRADED designation. But hey, at least their player selection was on point! Great group with tons of accomplishments.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Sam McDowell is definitely one of those guys I always wondered about the "what if's"?
Because of personal and on-the-field problems, McDowell, who was one of THE fire-balling pitchers in the majors during the 1960's, had his career quickly decline and sadly was out of baseball by the age of 32.
You have to wonder what his career numbers would have been, especially his strikeout totals, if he was able to pitch into his late-30's.
As it was he ended up with 2453 K's in 2492.1 innings to go along with a 141-134 record over 15 years, 10 of which were full seasons. To put that K total in perspective, if McDowell was able to pitch some full seasons consistently AND add an extra few seasons under his belt, let's say pitch until he was 36 or so, his strikeout totals could have been well into the upper 3000's. At the time of his retirement in 1975 that would have made him the all-time strikeout king since the standing record was Walter Johnson's 3509.
Anyway, by the time 1975 rolled around, McDowell signed with the Pirates in April after a season and a half in the Bronx, which made me wonder why Topps decided to not have him in their 1975 set as a Yankee.
I went ahead and designed a 1975 card for "Sudden Sam", but as a Pirate and not a Yank since this would have been the only card showing him in Pittsburgh.
It was tough finding a suitable image of him in a Pirate uniform for the "missing" card, but the one I eventually found was great because McDowell decided to autograph the photo on his own face. Something about that makes me chuckle. So I decided it all went well together and didn't Photoshop the signature out and reposition it.
Is that a mean stare or what?

A rough end to a rough career.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


One day while trolling through cards to spark ideas for this blog I came across this seemingly "common" common: Topps 1977 Chuck Hartenstein #416.
Luckily for some reason I flipped the card around and looked at the stats posted, and saw that this guy hadn't appeared in a Major League game since 1970. So of course, I look up when he last appeared on a baseball card and saw that it was also in 1970.
Amazing actually, that a guy has a span of seven years between baseball cards as an active player. The only other time I can recall this happening is with pitcher Vicente Romo, who went between 1975-1983 without a card.
Thanks to baseball's expansion with the Mariners and Blue Jays, there was a sudden need for some "extra" players in 1977, especially some cheap, unprotected veterans and cast-offs who could fill some roles on the bench and in the bullpen.
Apparently the Toronto brass felt Hartenstein was one of these guys, even if his earlier career wasn't necessarily stellar.
Pitching from 1966-1970, Chuck sported an even 17-17 record as an arm out of the pen over 174 games for the Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates and Red Sox with a 4.52 E.R.A.
As for his return to the big leagues, it wasn't much to look at, posting an 0-2 record with a 6.59 E.R.A. in 13 games.
But hey, at least it was good for a nifty, groovy-looking card that only the '70's could offer.
I'm still trying to see if I uncover any other cards of guys who had a long span between issues but can't seem to find any. Anyone know of any others?

From 1970: clean-cut and unassuming...

To this: dig the shades and sideburns!

Monday, July 15, 2013


One of those card mysteries that has puzzled me for all these years was Topps card of Richie (Dick) Allen in their 1972 set.
By now Allen was a bona fide star in the Majors, and was actually on his way to be the A.L. M.V.P. in 1972. And even though he was traded to the White Sox in December of 1971 from the Dodgers, which made it difficult for Topps to have a "correct" image of him, it was strange that Topps ended up using a terribly outdated picture of Allen for his card.
As a matter of fact, Topps ended up using an image that they already used for their 1970 Richie Allen card. If you look at the 1970 card below, you can see "Phillies" peeking out on the front of his jersey. They just cropped it tighter when they used it again in 1972.
What makes the card especially outdated was the fact that Allen's facial features changed considerably between the 1970 shot and what he looked like by the time he was a White Sox. By then he was sporting a nice set of sharp sideburns with full mustache, and as we all know from one of my early posts, his 1971 card was actually the first Topps card in their history that depicted a player with facial hair. 
So to go back to an older photo was really odd. Why not just go ahead and use a shot of him during his Dodger tenure? Or what about his season with the Cardinals? Did Topps really not have an image from the previous two years that they could use?
Well, what I did was redesign the 1972 card not only with a proper image, but with his name as "Dick" rather than "Richie", since by the time he was playing in Chicago he was insisting on the former as his first name.
Allen really was such an interesting athlete, and I wish I was old enough to actually see him play before he hung them up in 1977. Truly one of the enigmatic figures in professional sports not only in the 1970's, but in American history. Turmoil seemed to follow him around wherever he played, whether it was justified or not.
Clearly a Phillies jersey on his 1970 card.

Same image as the '70 card. Cropped a little tighter.

Better image and proper first name for the 1972 A.L. M.V.P.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Even though I grew up a rabid Yankee fan, when I think of 1970's baseball Tom Seaver is one of the first players who jump into my head.
When I was a young kid I was awed by Seaver, even though he was a member of the hated Mets, and I always looked forward to his "new card" every year.
More than Nolan Ryan. More than Steve Carlton. Seaver was the epitome of "power pitcher" in my eyes, and year in and year out he never disappointed.
So needless to say, I always loved his cards. That is, all except his 1974 card by Topps (#80). It's not the worst one out there, but as with many others from the '74 set, the photography was so flat and one-dimensional (think of the Carlton Fisk card for another example), it left a lot to be desired.
There's no "space" between subject and background, and it all comes off as one flat image where the player gets lost in the card "action". Another thing I find unique to a lot of the 1974 cards is the seemingly over-saturated color of the photos used. It's as if 1973 (when these photos were taken) was one of the sunniest years in history!
For my "do-over" I wanted an image that really isolated on Seaver and his powerful windup. No background crowd, no infielder readying for  the ensuing play. Just the Hall of Famer in his Mets finest.
I found a nice shot of exactly that and used it here, take a look, but not before revisiting what was actually issued first:

As-issued: Too much "other stuff", not enough Seaver.

My re-do: A design that focuses on vintage "Tom Terrific".

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Sometimes a card's design matches up perfectly with the image used. Everything falls into place and we have a perfect little piece of art in the form of a baseball card. 
As I've written before, I feel this way about the 1976 Johnny Bench, as well as the 1977 Rusty Staub. 
Today I'm posting about another of those classically designed cards where everything falls into place and looks just perfect to me: the 1976 Topps #500 Reggie Jackson card.
I have always gawked at this card as a piece of baseball card perfection. The green and yellows in both the card borders AND the player photo itself, the awesome all-star designation at the lower left, and the aura of the "mighty" Reggie Jackson with his shades on, looking at his bat, ready to smash another homer of some unlucky pitcher.
Just a classic card.
By now I'm sure you've all picked up on the fact that I feel the 1976 set is full of fantastic cards. Just so many great looking cards because of both photos and card design. I know I concentrate on the star cards when I speak of my "favorites", but there are many common player cards that I feel this way about as well. 
I hope to have a nice full post going over the set in general in the future, as it's just too great a set to pick apart piece by piece instead of thoroughly examining it in it's entirety.
But for now let's appreciate the Reggie card, even though he was an Oriole by the time the 1976 season rolled around.
A classic card of a classic icon.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Bob Gibson has always been one of my favorite all-time players and competitors. Besides the obvious things to love about the guy as far as his stats go, it was the over-the-top drive and no-nonsense play that had me hooked.
Ever hear Tim McCarver tell the story of the first time he saw Gibson after Tim was traded to the Phillies in Octover of 1969? If not here goes:
Before a game between the Cardinals and the Phillies in 1970, both teams were on the field loosening up and getting ready. Tim, who was a teammate of Gibson for about ten years before being traded, figured he'd go say hello to him. Not only were they teammates for so long, but they came up in the Cardinals system together in the late-50's.
Well as Tim says it, he went up to Gibson near the batter's box, stuck out his hand and went to say "hi", and knew immediately he was done for. Gibson just stared him down and walked away.
First time McCarver was up at the plate, Gibson delivered his first pitch and brushed him back.
Message delivered: they weren't teammates anymore, and while ON the field, they were enemies.
How can you NOT love that!?
The man was a force on the mound, and of course his 1968 season is the stuff of legend. I STILL wonder how on earth he managed to have 9 losses with a season E.R.A. of 1.12!!! Just incredible.
Needless to say, the Hall of Fame was sure to call in 1981 and an obvious choice for induction was granted.
Well, here is my design for a 1976 card had Topps wanted to have one last card for the sure-fire Hall of Famer.
Nice and colorful. Just what you'd expect for a card in that fantastic 1976 set.

"Gibby" closing out his amazing career.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


It's time for another round of 1970's baseball trivia. Boy the weeks are flying by this Summer! See if you can get them all...I'll post the answers tomorrow.

1. During the decade of the '70's, two teams had the top two vote-getters for M.V.P. in a season. One in the A.L. and one in the N.L. What teams and players were they, and in which seasons?

2. Believe it or not, the first World Series night game ever played was during the 1970's. Which World Series introduced night ball to the Fall Classic?

3. Only one STARTING pitcher won the Cy Young Award for either league during the decade without winning 20 or more games. Who was he and in what season did he accomplish this?

4. Oddly enough, there were only TWO pitchers who won their league Cy Young Awards with an E.R.A. above 3.00, and they both happened during the same season. Which season was this and who were the pitchers?

5. Who was the only American league player to fashion a hitting streak of 30 or more games during the decade?


1. 1971 A's (Vida Blue; Sal Bando) and 1976 Reds (Joe Morgan; George Foster).

2. 1971 Pirates and Orioles, Game Four.

3. Tom Seaver, 1973. He sported a 19-10 record with a 2.08 E.R.A. and 251 strike outs.

4. 1970: Bob Gibson (3.12) in the N.L. and Jim Perry ( 3.04) in the A.L.

5. Ron Leflore, 1975-1976. He had a 31-game streak spanning the two seasons.


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