Saturday, August 31, 2013


Not too long ago I profiled the mystery surrounding the 1972 Topps Dick Allen card, which used a photo of him that was already used on his 1970 card. The image used for both cards showed Allen from the late '60's as a Phillies player, so technically this photo was outdated for BOTH the 1972 AND the 1970 card.
In 1970 he was playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, while by 1972 he was on his way to an M.V.P. award with the Chicago White Sox.
In addition to all of this, back in 1970 he was still being called "Rich" or "Richie", before baseball came around (according to Allen himself) and began calling him by his preferred "Dick" nickname that he grew up with.
Anyway, for that original post I redesigned his 1972 card with a proper image of him, but it still left his 1970 card to deal with.
Today I correct that 1970 card, and add a little historical twist while doing so.
One of my earliest posts was about how Richie Allen's 1971 card was the first one Topps ever produced that showed a player with a mustache. Believe it or not, it's true.
However, if Topps would have used a "current" photo of Allen for his 1970 issue, this would have actually been the first. 
I do realize that to many, this really doesn't carry too much historical weight. But to a card nerd like me, it actually matters, and I am at peace with it…
So without further delay, here's a redesigned 1970 Topps Richie Allen card showing him as a St. Louis Cardinal, and a historic mustache.
1970 "Rich" Allen as-issued by Topps using old photo.
My redesign using a smiling, mustached Allen in a Cardinal uniform.

Friday, August 30, 2013


The last time I posted for this thread, it was for a 1977 Jim Fregosi card.
For one reason or another, Topps decided not to create one even though he saw enough action in 1976 to warrant it.
Today I'll stick with the same set and post up an Andre Thornton card that I designed, since Topps never created one for him either even though he ALSO saw enough playing time in 1976 to have a card the following year.
I don't know why Topps left him out, since in 1976 Thornton saw action with TWO teams, the Cubs and the Expos, appearing in 96 games for 268 at-bats.
Granted he only hit .194, but he did pop 11 homers to go along with 38 runs batted in. Not too shabby for those lighter-hitting years of the early to mid decade.
I decided to depict him on an Expos card, since realistically Topps would not have had the time to picture him an an Indian, to whom he was traded in December of 1976.
Just trying to keep it real folks...
Thornton went on to have some solid years for Cleveland, where he ended up playing the rest of his career until he retired in 1987.
In 1978, 1982 and 1984 he posted 30+ home run seasons, with R.B.I. totals of 105, 116 and 99, earning him some M.V.P. votes each year.
He also won the Roberto Clemente award in 1979 and a Silver Slugger in 1984 as a designated hitter.
It was definitely one of the better trades Cleveland made, as all they gave up for Thornton was pitcher Jackie Brown, who was out of baseball the following year.

Thornton was traded to the Expos in May of 1976.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Today's little "random quickie" deals with card #461 in Topps 1973 set: Mike Corkins.
What struck me as incredibly odd was the background of the image. Take a look:

Was this shot taken in a prison courtyard?!

Where on earth was this photo taken?!
Did the photographer catch Corkins on his way into a prison on "family day"?
That background has me so confused I can almost look past the CLASSIC mustard yellow and brown San Diego uniform of the early 1970's. Well...I said "almost" didn't I?
But seriously. That background reminds me of where I used to play "box ball" behind P.S. 186 across the street from my house in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
I have to start looking to see if I can find other cards that aren't taken somewhere on the field.
I can't recall any at the moment.
Let the search begin!
As for Corkins himself, not much to say really. As with so many other pitchers stuck in San Diego in the early 70's,  he wasn't going to get much support, though the 1972 season was perhaps his best in the Majors.
He went 6-9 with a 3.53 E.R.A. with one shutout in 9 starts, while also picking up 6 saves among his other 38 appearances.
However, by 1974 he was out of the Majors, pitching another two years in the Minors for both the Padres and the Angels.
His career tally: 19-28 with a 4.39 E.R.A. in 157 total games, all for the Padres.
But at least he got to wear those crazy 1970's San Diego uni's huh?!


The thirteenth edition of 1970's baseball trivia is upon us. As usual, the answers will be posted down below tomorrow.

1. Who were the only teammates to have 200+ hits in the same season more than once during the decade?

2. During the 1970's, who posted the highest single-season slugging percentage?

3. Three former or future Cy Young winners had a season that saw them LOSE 20+ games during the '70's. Who are the three hurlers?

4. While no one tallied 100+ extra base hits in a season between 1970-79, who was the only player to even reach 90 E.B.H. in a campaign?

5. Three different Cincinnati Reds pitchers lead the N.L. in winning percentage in consecutive seasons at some point in the 1970's. Who were they and what seasons did this happen?


1. Joe Torre and Lou Brock, St. Louis Cardinals, 1970 & 1971.

 2. Hank Aaron, 1971. .669

3. Denny McLain, 1971; Steve Carlton, 1973; Randy Jones, 1974.

4. Willie Stargell, 1973 with 90.

5. Wayne Simpson, 1970; Don Gullet, 1971; Gary Nolan, 1972.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Just like the very first "Career Capper" I did a while back (1975 Al Kaline), today's latest post on the topic actually did have a card the following year AFTER he retired.
Brooks Robinson was featured on card #4 in the 1978 Topps set as a "Record Breaker" for "consecutive seasons with one club", but did not have a "regular" issue player card.
So to remedy this, I went ahead and designed a final card to cap off his Hall of Fame career showing a portrait shot of him in the bright Oriole orange uniforms of the day. The '70's are alive and well on this card!
Brooks broke into the Majors as an 18-year-old for Baltimore way back in September of 1955, and became their first real superstar as he blossomed into the premier third baseman in the American League through the 1960's and into the '70's.
From 1960 through 1974, a total of 15 seasons, Robinson got M.V.P. votes in a remarkable 12 of those years, winning the award in 1964, while winning two world championships, in 1966 and 1970.
By the time he hung them up in 1977, he pretty much held all of Baltimore's offensive records, and was easily elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983.

Dig the crazy orange Orioles get-up!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I remember seeing an item on another blog about the quick 360ยบ turnaround that former player Jack Heidemann made between his 1973 baseball card (#664) and his 1977 card (#553).
Between those two years he only had an additional 1975 card (#649), as Topps didn't include him in the 1974 and 1976 sets.
But looking at those three cards (73, 75, 77), you wonder what kind of wild times Heidemann had before he "cleaned up" by his 1977 issue.
Let's take a closer look:

Clean as a whistle... a sure-fire Harley owner...

...back to the clean life.

Pretty funny don't you think?
Seems that St. Louis brought out the rebel in him before he went over to that other beer town, Milwaukee.
Heidemann was pretty much out of the big leagues when his 1977 card came out, appearing in only five games for the Brewers, going 0-1 at DH/2B.
But I noticed that there should have been a card issued for him as a New York Met in 1976, as he got into 61 games, good for 145 at-bats in 1975, so I'll be creating a "missing" card for sure. I already found a decent image of him in a N.Y. uniform that's perfect for a card. So keep an eye out for that one, all you Jack Heidemann fans out there!
In the meantime, enjoy a man's journey through the hairy side of life...

Monday, August 26, 2013


While I do realize that baseball expansion in 1977 must have given Topps fits trying to produce Blue Jay and Mariner cards for the new set, it is entertaining to see what the final result was.
For example, earlier on this blog I profiled the 1977 Chuck Hartensein card (#416), who hadn't been included in a set since 1970, before Topps issued one for him as a Blue Jay seven years later. A case of a Major League cast-off getting second life because of expansion.
There's also that Rick Jones (#118) card as a Mariner, where Topps had to take a black and white image of him and airbrush the ENTIRE photo, giving us one of the stranger looking issues in the set. There just weren't any color photographs available for a player that was getting a job because of a new team roster to fill.
Then there's the case of Dave Hilton, profiled here (card #163).
Hilton was actually a #1 pick by the San Diego Padres in the January 1971 amateur draft after starring at Rice University in Texas.
He made the quick jump up to the big leagues in 1972 at the age of 21, and saw some sporadic playing time over the next couple of years, hitting a robust .214 in a 157 games.
In 1975 he only appeared in four games for the Padres, going 0-8. And that, ladies and gentlemen (I suspect ALL gentlemen here actually), was it for Mr. Hilton, as he never made it up to the big show again.
Of course no one would know it at the time, and the Blue Jays purchased Hilton, along with former #1 pick in the 1972 draft Dave Roberts and John Scott, from San Diego in October of 1976.
In 1977 Hilton would actually suit up for Toledo in Triple-A (Cleveland) before moving on to a few seasons in the Japanese League. He'd return to the States and play some more Minor League ball up until 1982, but never made it back up to the Majors.
So here we are left with a card of a player who hadn't appeared in the Majors for two years, and never would suit up for the team he was depicted on.
The nightmare of expansion rears it's ugly head again in the baseball card world.

"Swing and a miss" for Topps. Hilton never suited up for Toronto.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


When I profiled all Topps cards #'d 100 for the decade of the 1970's a little while back for my 100th post, I mentioned that I may have to revisit the 1973 Hank Aaron card and redesign it since I always hated that image of him waiting for a pop up while manning first base.
I remember when I was finally able to buy that card, must have been about 1980 or 1981, and for an eleven-year-old it was exciting buying an "older" card of such a baseball legend. I don't remember what I paid for it, but for a kid that age I remember it was a chunk of change.
But deep down I always thought that having the all-time home run champ depicted in a lame fielding shot was a let-down. I never really "liked" the card.
It's the same as pulling a Lou Brock or Rickey Henderson card: why not have an image of them in the middle of a steal, or leading off a base? Why not try to have an image of a player doing what they're known for on the baseball field?
Anyway, allow me to indulge myself and present to you a redesigned card with a more appropriate photo befitting the all-time home run champ until Barry Bonds came along in 2007.
I don't know if "Hammerin' Hank" jolted one out of the park here, but it sure beats that other image of him that I've been staring at for the past 30+ years...
Just a small side-note: look at the original card that Topps put out. I could never understand why there was an odd light-colored line outlining his chin and neck. If it wasn't for the rest of the image looking "natural" I would swear Aaron was super-imposed over another background (like the George Scott card of the same set). Odd.

Aaron's 1973 card as-issued by Topps.

My redesign with a more "appropriate" photo for the former all-time home run king.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


By the time kids like me were pulling the Mike Miley card shown below out of packs, little did we know that his career was tragically cut short in January of 1977.
Understandably, Topps didn't have enough time to pull the card, so card #257 became a nice remembrance of sorts for a player that was just beginning to get his career started for the California Angels.
Before even arriving in Major League baseball, Miley had quite the impressive college career at LSU. He was both their starting quarterback on the football team, as well as the starting shortstop on their baseball team.
The Angels made him their first round pick (10th overall) in the 1974 draft, and he was sent to El Paso where he did well, hitting .288 with 13 homers and 45 R.B.I.'s in only 84 games.
The very next year he was called up and sadly didn't fare as well against Major League pitching, hitting .174 in 70 games.
After having similar results in 1976, he found himself back in the Minors with the Angels' Triple-A club, Salt Lake City.
He seemed to have found his groove again, hitting .274 with 60 R.B.I.'s in 119 games, and seemingly would have found himself back in California for the 1977 season.
However on January 6th, 1977 Miley was involved in what is described as a one-car accident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that took his life at the very young age of 23.
I have taken his card, as issued by Topps, and added the "In Memoriam" banner across the bottom, as I have with the other players being remembered in this thread.
Sadly, this isn't the last we will see of the 1977 set regarding this topic.

March 30, 1953 - January 6, 1977.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Stan Williams 1972 Topps card (#9) always stood out because of it's clear-cut night game photograph.
I love this card. The Cardinals uniform just "pops" off the dark background with the stadium lights glaring up at the top. There's something so "modern" about this shot, so beyond the usual photographs taken in the middle of the day.
It makes me wonder how awesome it would have been if there were more night game cards out there during the '70's? Think of all the possibilities it could have opened up for really distinct, interesting cards.
I do recall a couple of other cards depicting night games, but can't remember them at the moment. I'll be looking into this a little further in the future so I can profile them, and maybe I'll even redesign a short series of Hall of Fame player cards with night scenes as a fun little "sub-set". We shall see.
Anyway, Williams had an interesting career between 1958 and 1972. A big imposing pitcher, he started out with the Dodgers and had a few good seasons on the same staff as Drysdale and Koufax between 1960-63. But his career took a downturn as he was traded to the Yankees for Bill "Moose" Skowron in November of 1962.
After two so-so seasons in New York he was off to Cleveland, where he missed the 1966 season and part of 1967 before coming back and posting a good year in '68, finishing with a 13-11 record and 2.50 E.R.A.
In 1970 he found himself in Minnesota and had a remarkable year as a reliever, pitching to a 10-1 record with 15 saves and a sparkling 1.99 E.R.A. in 68 games.
But that was his last hurrah in the Majors, as he appeared in three games for Boston in 1972 and hung them up.
All told, he ended up 109-94 for his career, with a 3.48 E.R.A. and 1305 strikeouts. He also threw in 43 saves as well, mainly on his solid 1969 and  1970 seasons out of the pen.
One last thing: I always remember that 1962 (#60) N.L. Strikeout leaders card with L.A. Dodgers making up the top three slots for 1961: Koufax, Williams and Drysdale. Pretty cool to have the top three strikeout pitchers in your leagues anchoring your staff.

Great night shot, a rarity in baseball cards.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Man, Topps must have been scrambling for guys to fill card slots when it got to the last series of the 1971 set.
Just take a gander at the player on card #701, Bob Garibaldi.
Here is a guy who appeared in nine games in 1962, four games in 1963, one game (for only one inning) in 1966, and one final game (for five innings) in 1969, all for the San Francisco Giants.
Yet here he is, donning a Kansas City Royals uniform even though he never played an official game for them in his career.
Pretty confusing on Topps part considering that they seemed to be at a loss for correct photos of players on their new teams throughout the decade, resulting in many of the airbrushing disasters profiled on this blog.
Garibaldi totaled 15 career games for 26.1 innings, with an 0-2 record in the Majors, pitching his last game on October 1st, 1969.
On October 19th of 1970, he was traded to Kansas City for Fran Healy, but never even played for any of their Minor League teams, as he was then shipped off to the San Diego Padres in April of 1971!
I have checked and rechecked the image on this card and I am quite certain that this is NOT an amazing airbrush job. So the mystery as to how they got this photo of him in Royal blue is beyond me!
Anyone know the deal here?

Wearing a uniform for a team he never played for.


Time for the twelfth edition of 1970's baseball trivia. As usual, the answers will be posted down below tomorrow.

1. On August 11, 1970 he became the first pitcher to win 100 games in both the A.L. and N.L. since Cy Young. Who was he??

2. On September 5th, 1971 this pitcher tied the THEN big league record with 15 strikeouts in his first Major League start. Who was he?

3. On August 11th and 12th, 1977, this player broke up TWO straight no-hitters late in the game, one by Mike Torrez of the Yankees, and the next by Jim Palmer of the Orioles. Who was the batter?

4. In 1972, this pitcher threw THREE two-hitters and TWO one-hitters, yet finished with a record of 10-21. Who was this hard-luck hurler?

5. Who was the only M.L. player to attain 200 hits in a 1970's campaign while playing for two teams? Hint: he was a Rookie of the Year runner up earlier in the decade.


1. Jim Bunning.

2. J.R. Richard, Houston Astros.

3. Manny Sanguillen, Oakland A's.

4. Steve Arlin, San Diego Padres

5. Willie Montanez, 1976, split between the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Jim Fregosi pretty much gets a bum-deal all because of "that" trade in December of 1971. You know which one I'm talking about so I won't go too much into it.
Between 1963 and 1970 he was arguably THE best shortstop in the American League, and was selected to appear in six all-star games. He even got M.V.P. votes EVERY single year in that span.
You can see why the Mets thought he'd help them, leading to the trade that saw Nolan Ryan heading West.
He also seamlessly moved onto managing right after his career ended. Like, RIGHT AFTER his career ended.
In 1978 he was released by the Pirates on June 1st, and was immediately hired by the California Angels to manage the team, taking over for Dave Garcia, who had them at 25-21. Fregosi did pretty well actually, managing them to a 62-54 record the rest of the way.
In the end he managed up until the 2000 season for the Angels (1978-81), White Sox (1986-88), Phillies (1991-96) and Blue Jays (1999-00), putting together a very respectable baseball career spanning 40 years.
Anyway, for whatever reason, Topps didn't include him in their 1977 set, even though he appeared in 58 games for Texas in 1976 with 133 at-bats. Odd considering they issued cards for guys like Chip Lang, Eric Raich and Tommy Sandt. Not exactly on par with a former perennial all-star and M.V.P. candidate.
So here is my design for the "missing" card. I forget where I got this image from (I created this card a while ago), and wish it was a bit "crisper". But it's good enough. Love the bushy side-burns, '70's style...

More than just that trade in 1971.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I want to take it easy today and spotlight a card I've always loved: the 1971 Topps Ron Woods card (#514).
Just a perfect moment in time captured for eternity on a baseball card.
Great shot of Woods at the plate in the old Yankee stadium. All-Star catcher Bill Freehan is behind the plate along with an unidentified umpire.
It's a perfectly cropped photo of baseball action for the under-used horizontal lay-out in the black bordered 1971 set.
The Roy White card (#395) from the same set is very similar: same game, same lay-out. But I like this shot better for the inclusion of the ump with the classic external chest protector from back in the day.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy one of the nicer photographed cards from the 1971 "black-beauty" Topps set...They just don't make'em like they used to huh?

Add caption

Monday, August 19, 2013


Let's cap off the great career of Frank Robinson with a 1977 card.
By then he was now a full-time manager for the Cleveland Indians, hanging up his bat after the 1976 season and finishing up a monster Hall of Fame career as a player.
586 home runs, 1812 ribbies, just under 3000 hits, Rookie of the Year, and two M.V.P. awards (one in each league). You know his resume, I'm sure.
I was just too young to really be following the papers back then, but I wonder if there was any talk about continuing as a player to get to the 3000 hits. Anyone out there know?
2943 was so enticingly close to the magic hit number, but I'm assuming he really didn't have much left in the tank after only 53 hits his final three seasons.
Nevertheless, here's a 1977 card to close out Robinson's baseball card run as a player. If only...

One last card for "the Judge".

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I wasn't the biggest fan of the 1979 set for it's design. There was something about the layout that bothered me big time, even as a kid way back when.
There were also a ton of boring, and I mean BORING photos used that year. Just bland shots that made for a less than desirable set in my eyes. I guess I got spoiled by four straight nice card sets in the 1975-1978 editions.
However, I generally did like a bunch of the all-star cards that year, especially (as written before) the Carew and Brett cards. The Larry Bowa card was another one that stuck with me as well.
There was something about that all-star banner that enhanced even a card that would have been "bleh" without it (like the Don Money card).
Sadly, Topps blew it with their Steve Garvey card that year. Just another one of those boring pictures that was easily forgotten.
Looks like Garvey was in between pitches during an at-bat against the Giants. That's catcher Marc Hill in the forefront.
Anyway, I've redesigned the card with a shot of Garvey at the plate, waiting for a pitch. Just a nicer shot of him with some decent color going on. Hope you all agree.
On a side-note: I have to say, I am STILL amazed that Garvey did not garner more support among Hall of Fame voters when he was eligible for induction. Yeah, I've read all the books that detailed who is worthy and who isn't, and how Garvey wasn't as good as his stats make it seem.
But I still have to disagree on his Hall omission. As a kid growing up in the 70's and 80's, Garvey was THE National League first baseman. And the way I saw it, and still do, the player who came to dominate a position during an era of the game should get into the Hall.
I'm sure many of you don't agree, especially with all the "new" stats that are worshipped these days.
But to me, guys like Garvey and Dave Parker are Hall of Famers. They made an impact on the game during their careers that should be honored with a plaque in Cooperstown.
If Jim Rice gets a nod, why not these two?
Anyway, my little rant for today. Take it for what it's worth (really not much, admittedly).

Topps issued Garvey card in 1979.

My re-design of card #50.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


For years I have always wondered why, at the zenith of Topps airbrushing, they didn't seem to bother in 1974 with two players who were traded for each other: Glenn Beckert (#241) and Jerry Morales (#258).
Does anyone know why?
Beckert was traded to the Padres from the Cubs along with Bobby Fenwick on November 7th of 1973 for Morales, so I figured it was early enough to try and do an airbrush job on the two. However, there they are, showing their new, correct, teams but still in their "old" uniforms. Odd.
The mid-70's were such an era of airbrushing (both good and bad) that I'm really stumped. It also does bring up the question: why didn't Topps spare themselves all the airbrushing disasters and just do what they did here? Pretty easy to figure out that a player was traded in the off-season and the only images available are with the previous team. Right?
Anyway, one of those childhood questions that lingers to this day…
Beckert in San Diego...ummm make that Washington D.C., or Chicago?!

Morales sporting an oddly San Diego-like Cubs uniform (??)

Friday, August 16, 2013


I haven't uploaded a "photo-bombing" post in a while. Long overdue.
So today I spotlight the 1972 Rick Wise and the 1973 Jim Fregosi cards, which collectively have a Hall of Fame battery lurking in the background.
First up is the 1972 Rick Wise (#43) card. While you have Wise frozen in time with this lame follow-through pitching pose, there are three teammates gathered in the background, and one of them is Hall of Fame pitcher and future American politician Jim Bunning (#14). He's talking to pitcher Bill Wislon (#37) and most likely a Spring training invitee since I can't find any record of a player who wore #54 for them that year.
What's interesting is that the photo is from 1971 and was Bunning's last year in the Majors. He wasn't included in the 1972 set. So he snuck in there after he hung up the cleats.
Another interesting note is that Wise would be suiting up for another team in 1972, the Cardinals, as he was dealt to St. Louis for Steve Carlton before the season started.

Jim Bunning, second from left in the background.

Next up we have an awesome card from the 1973 set: (#525). What a great card. This is "action" done right!
We have Fregosi obviously looking back at a foul pop that went into the stands, as none other than Johnny Bench of the Reds looking on. I love the fact that you also see all the Mets in the dugout watching the action. I wish I could make out who the they are, but I've tried enhancing the image as best I could and didn't recognize any of them.
One of my favorite cards from the set right here.
Interesting coincidence is that both Rick Wise and Jim Fregosi are long remembered as being the "bust" part of two separate historically lopsided trades.
As stated earlier, Wise was traded to the Cardinals for Steve Carlton, who went on to a Hall of Fame career mainly on what he did with Philadelphia, and Fregosi was traded to the Mets for future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, who immediately became a superstar with the Angels in 1972.

Johnny Bench tracking the foul pop.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Time for the eleventh edition of 1970's baseball trivia. Look for the answers posted down below tomorrow.

1. On August 21, 1975 they became the only brothers to combine on a complete game shutout. Who were they?

2. In 1975 this St. Louis Cardinal had a 16 game hitting streak in which he collected exactly one hit in each of those games. Who is he?

3. The 1972 season saw no less than four pitchers with sub-2.00 E.R.A.'s. Name all four. Hint: two were in the A.L. and two were in the N.L.

4. In almost 1000 career at-bats, he hit his only home run against his own brother on May 29, 1976. Who was he?

5. This player fell one at-bat short of becoming the first player in Major League history to record 700 official at-bats in a season. Who was it?


1. Paul and Rick Reuschel, Chicago Cubs.

2. Ted Sizemore.

3. Gaylord Perry, Indians; Luis Tiant, Red Sox, Steve Carlton, Phillies and Gary Nolan, Reds.

4. Joe Niekro, Astros, off his brother Phil, who was pitching for the Braves.

5. Dave Cash, Phillies. He posted 699 at-bats with 213 hits in 1975.


During the decade of the 1970's, Topps was in the (awesome) habit of naming a "Rookie All-Star Team" at the end of each season and honoring them the following year with a "rookie trophy" on their baseball card.
I loved these cards and wasn't happy when the 1979 cards came out and realized the rookie all-stars were not to be found.
Later on I learned that for whatever reason Topps also omitted the rookie all-star designation on their 1974 set (I wasn't collecting yet when that set came out). So these two sets were the only ones during the 1970's that were missing this
Looking back all these years later, looks like Topps didn't mess up too badly since all the players on the 1973 and 1978 rookie all-star teams didn't end up as superstars. You did have some decent guys like Bob Horner, Davey Lopes and Gary Matthews, but the rest were players that were easily forgotten over time. That is, except for two: Paul Molitor and Ozzie Smith.
Off all the players that missed out on having a cool trophy on their card, these two players were the only ones that went on to the Hall of Fame, legitimate superstars, so I figured I'd fix that right here and now.
Here are Molitor and Smith's 1979 cards with the Topps rookie all-star trophy (using the 1978 trophy) in it's proper place on the card front.
Note that for the Molitor card, I also "corrected" his position to second base since the original card has him as a shortstop. Kind of odd since he predominantly played second in 1978, not short. To top it off Topps even selected him as the all-star second baseman for their rookie team. Weird...


Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Card #514 in the 1975 set is another of those "didn't quite get it" airbrush attempts by Topps artists.
In late October of 1974 Jose Cruz was purchased by Houston from St. Louis, where he played from 1970-1974.
He never really got to play full-time with the Cardinals, but that changed in a hurry when he suited up for the Astros.
He immediately became a popular player, going on to play 13 solid seasons for them in the outfield and finishing in the top-10 in M.V.P. voting three times in the process.
Actually, Cruz can be the quietest 2000+ hits guy from the 1970's and '80's. He finished with 2251 hits, 165 home runs and 317 stolen bases while collecting two Silver Slugger awards over a 19-year career. Not bad at all.
Anyway, when Topps was getting ready to produce the 1975 set, they needed to airbrush Cruz into a Houston uniform, and for some reason things seemed to get out of hand when it came to the Houston logo on his cap. The star is all wrong at the bottom, and the "H" is huge and thick.
For a comparison on what it was supposed to look like, check out Ken Forsch's card from the same set. See the nice, thin "H" inside a smaller black star?
Now go and look at the Cruz cap again.
Hilarious! As if those Houston uniforms from the 1970's needed any help being garish...

An extra special cap logo for Mr. Cruz...

What the logo was supposed to look like.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I don't know what Topps was expecting when they issued a card for pitcher Tom Kelley in their 1971 set (#463).
He only pitched one inning in the Majors in 1967, and was toiling in the minors ever since before the start of the 1971 season.
After playing for the Cleveland Indians organization from 1964 to 1969, he signed with the Atlanta Braves in May of 1970 and pitched in Shreveport (AA) and Richmond (AAA), putting together a 9-7 record with a 3.93 E.R.A.
I guess when it came time to putting together the fourth series for the 1971 set Topps figured Kelley was worthy of a card since he secured a roster spot with the Braves and was on his way to a decent season where he finished at 9-5 with a 2.96 E.R.A.
It's also worth noting that the 1971 card was his first since the beautiful 1967 set (#214), so here we have another one of those guys that went a few years between card appearances. 
Kelley's success was a bit short-lived. By May of 1973 Kelley pitched his last game in the Majors, and finally hung them up after appearing in seven games for the Tidewater Tides in the Met's system in 1976.
As for the card, you can clearly see the red piping that was part of Cleveland's uniform back in the late 60's/early 70's, and I suspect the image used was about four or even five years old. It also seems that the photo was taken in the old Yankee Stadium, though I could be mistaken.
Just another one of those cool little quirks you find when scouring the baseball card sets of the 1970's.

One big league inning in four years at the time this card was issued.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Take a quick look at the two cards below. Did you see the same card?
Look again. I happened to notice this a few days ago flipping through the 1972 set.
The Gerry Moses card (#356) and Dave LaRoche card (#352) are almost exactly the same. I swear I thought I erroneously had the same card in my set at the expense of another. For a split second I thought I messed up and did NOT have the complete set. Whew!
Funny coincidence that I never spotted before, just a few cards apart in the set...

At a quick glance...

...they look like the same card.


I missed a day posting for the first time in a long while yesterday. Life reared it's ugly head and kept me busy all day.
But I'm jumping right back in and celebrating the most popular Chicago Cubs player of all-time, Ernie Banks.
"Mr. Cub"  had a nice enough "last card" in the 1971 set, but again I wish Topps would have created a card for the super stars of the game AFTER they retired so we could have gazed upon their final Hall-worthy statistics in the days before the internet.
Besides, it would have been cool to have an Ernie Banks card in the ultra-funky 1972 set. A colorful set for a colorful player.
As for the Banks himself, what else can be said about a two-time M.V.P., 500+ home run hitting shortstop in an era when such a thing was unheard of?
He was just plain awesome, and was an easy choice for the Hall of Fame, getting inducted in 1977.
So let's celebrate the guy with a 1972 card I designed. Take a look…

"Mr. Cub", Ernie Banks.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Yeah I know, the 1977 Topps Reggie Jackson card (#10) is one of the all-time "re-designed" cards out there in this digital age.
And it's precisely for that reason that I wanted to take a crack at it myself since he was my first "favorite" player as a kid, along with millions of other young baseball junkies in the New York Tri-State area in the late 1970's.
As we all know ad nauseum by now, Reggie was one of the first big-time free agents in baseball, and signed with the Yankees on November 29th of 1976, after a year in Baltimore.
Needless to say, Reggie was already a star by the time he came to the Bronx, but he cemented his all-time status immediately, either with his bat or his mouth.
Never one to shy away from controversy, he was also never one to shy away from the spotlight and delivering under any type of pressure. "Mr. October" was born.
As for his 1977 baseball card, because of the "late" signing to the Yanks Topps had to airbrush the now famous image of Reggie for the 1977 edition of cards, and while it wasn't the worst airbrush job, it certainly left a lot to be desired.
So what I did was re-design two versions of the card: a portrait shot, and an action shot.
Of course the action shot would have been impossible for Topps to accomplish since it would have had to be Spring Training at the very least to get a shot of him in a Yankee uniform while playing.
But what the hell, I'm having a little fun with this. And if there was ever a card worth giving two versions of, this one qualifies for sure.
Check them out:

As issued by Topps.

A portrait re-design.

An alternate action shot version.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Danny Thompson was a tragic, yet inspiring story that sadly has faded over time.
An All-American at Oklahoma State, he was the 18th pick overall in the 1968 draft by the Minnesota Twins and broke into the big leagues in 1970 playing second, third and shortstop throughout his career.
In 1972 he even got some M.V.P. consideration, as he batted .276 with 48 R.B.I.'s while playing alongside future Hall of Famer Rod Carew.
Sadly, before the 1973 season at the young age of 26, Thompson was diagnosed with leukemia, yet incredibly he continued to play at the big league level for the next three seasons before the disease took his life on December 10, 1976.
A member of the Twins for the bulk of his career, in June of 1976 Thompson was part of the trade that sent Bert Blyleven to Texas in a six-player transaction.
It's amazing to think of how difficult it must have been for Thompson to continue playing, traveling, training, all while living with leukemia and all the treatment involved.
Incredible story that sadly did not have a happy ending.
The card design you see below (without the "In Memoriam" banner) was actually designed by Topps and was supposed to be in the 1977 set. It was pulled once Thompson passed away.
I just added the banner and present it here as part of the memorial thread honoring those players who left us way too soon.

February 1st, 1947- December 10th, 1976.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


 Hey! It's the tenth edition of 1970's baseball trivia! Look for the answers here tomorrow, posted below the questions.

1. In 1973 he became the first pitcher to appear in all seven games of a World Series. Who is he?

2. You can pretty much guess that Pete Rose and Rod Carew would be #1 and #2 in total hits for the decade. But who is #3?

3. Among the top-10 pitchers for wins in the 1970's, who is the only one NOT in the Hall of Fame?

4. What shortstop played an entire double-header on June 5, 1976 without handling a single chance in either game?

5. Believe it or not, Pete Rose played an entire season in the decade, 162 games and 764 plate appearances, without a stealing a single base. What year was it?


1. Darold Knowles, Oakland A's.

2. Al Oliver, with 1686.

3. Vida Blue. 9th place with 155 wins.

4. Toby Harrah, Texas Rangers.

5. 1975, the first of two "Big Red Machine" championship seasons.


As we all know, Rusty Staub had contractual problems with Topps in the early '70's, and was excluded from the 1972 and 1973 baseball card sets.
The other day I posted my design for the "missing" 1973 Staub card, and today I present to you my designs for both a N.Y. Mets AND a Montreal Expos 1972 card.
The reason I post both is because depending on what series Staub would have been included in, he could have been a "Met" or an "Expo".
He was traded by Montreal to New York on April 5th of 1972, pretty late in the game for Topps as far as determining what team to put him on.
It's worth mentioning that this was a pretty decent trade for both teams, as Staub was sent to Flushing in exchange for Ken Singleton, Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen. All players contributed admirably for their new teams in the next few years after the swap.
Anyway, here are the "missing" 1972 Staubs:

As an Expo. If Staub was in one of the early series.

As a Met. Just in case he was in a late series.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


This 1975 Topps Bruce Ellingsen (#288) card always stuck out to me because of the photo. It reminded me of a Hollywood head shot instead of a baseball card.
Not only that, but this looked like a photo out of the '50's or '60's, NOT the wild and crazy '70's. Amid the sea of funk that was the 1975 set, this card garnered a second look for all the "wrong" reasons.
Ellingsen was drafted by the Dodgers out of high school in the 63rd round of the 1967 draft. After toiling in the minors for both L.A. and the California Angels, he was traded by the Dodgers to the Indians on April 4th, 1974.
What makes the trade so significant was that the player L.A. got in return straight up was none other than Pedro Guerrero, then a teenager in rookie ball.
Definitely a one-sided trade if there ever was one, as Ellingsen ended up pitching for Cleveland in a total of 16 games during the 1974 season, posting a record of 1-1 in 42 innings, never to return again. So by the time kids were pulling this card out of packs, Ellingsen was out of the Majors for good.
Now consider that Pedro Guerrero went onto a very good 10-plus year career with L.A., with three top-4 M.V.P. finishes and four all-star nods, and Cleveland has to consider this one of the worst franchise trades in their recent history.
Oh well, at least Ellingsen got a Topps baseball card out of a 16-game "cup of coffee" in one of the more memorable baseball card sets. Good for him.

Is this a "Head Shot" or a baseball card?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I know I've been a little 1973-heavy lately on this blog, but I've always loved the way Ken Forsch's 1973 Topps card was cropped. It's like the dude is all alone out there on the field.
Perfect job of having what looks to be a barren field behind Forsch as he delivers a pitch to a San Francisco Giant batter (At least it looks like Candlestick Park. I could be wrong).
Nice card overall actually. One of the better "action cards" in that set.
I've always been a sucker for a nice follow-through action photograph on a card...

Forsch doesn't need anyone behind him!

Monday, August 5, 2013


By now we all know that in 1972 and 1973 Rusty Staub had contract issues with Topps and wasn't included in either of those sets.
I always wondered what exactly happened between Topps and Staub. Was it money? What else could it be, and how much money could we be talking about?
Anyway, today I post my design for the 1973 "missing" card, and will follow up later this week with my two versions of his 1972 card (I designed a NY Mets version as well as a Montreal Expos version. More on that when I post it).
I went with a decent action shot of him sprinting to first instead of a portrait. Not bad. 
As for Staub the player, he's one of those really good players that falls by the wayside when you think of that generation of baseball.
Lost in the crowd that was Rose, Bench, Jackson, Carew, etc. was this player who built a 23 year career, finishing up with over 2700 hits, 292 homers, 1466 R.B.I.'s, and six all-star appearances.
He started out as a 19 year old kid in Houston in 1963 and went on to play for Montreal, Detroit, Texas and the New York Mets for two stints, with whom he retired with after the 1985 season.
And for those last five seasons with the Mets, he became one of the top pinch-hitters in the game and endeared himself to the Met faithful, even opening up a couple of well-liked restaurants in NYC along the way.
A few little "extras" about his career: Staub is one of three players (along with Ty Cobb and Gary Sheffield) to hit home runs as a teenager and as a 40-year old, and he is also the only player to amass 500 hits with four different teams (Astros, Mets, Expos and Tigers).
He was also the first player to play all 162 games in a season strictly as a Designated Hitter, which was for Detroit in 1978.
"Le Grand Orange" in 1973:

The "missing" 1973 Topps card.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


One of the things I always loved about those early 1970's sets was the fact that as you get to the later series every year, you have these random players that had a card issued for them for no apparent reason.
Trying to figure out Topps "selection process" when it came to WHO they'd have in their set left us scratching our heads.
A great example of this is card #466 in the 1973 set: Jose Arcia.
He was a light-hitting utility player from Cuba who could play any position on the field, and he finally broke into the big leagues in 1968 with the Cubs, appearing in 59 games after toiling in the Minors for six years.
In October of that year he was picked by San Diego in the expansion draft and became one of the original Padres, getting into 120 games and playing all four infield positions as well as some outfield while hitting a light .215 with no "pop" whatsoever.
1970 was more of the same, as he played in 114 games while "upping" his batting average to .223 in 229 at-bats. Sadly for him, it wasn't enough for the Padres to keep him up in San Diego.
He bounced around the Minors for the next couple of years, playing for the Padres, Angels and Twins AAA teams until he signed with the Royals in early 1973.
Apparently, Topps assumed he'd be back up to the "big show" and decided to issue a card for him. So they used a three year old photo at the time, and airbrushed Arcia into a Kansas City Royals cap and uniform.
Only problem is, Arcia never made it back to the Majors. He did play for Kansas City's Triple-A Omaha club in 1973 and '74, but that was as far as he got. In 1975 he was demoted to Double-A Jacksonville, and then closed out his professional career in 1976 at Columbus (AA) for the Houston Astros.
So by the time kids were opening up packs in the Summer of 1973 they were staring down at a guy who was already out of the Majors for a few years.
I do wonder what Topps went by when it came to player selections, as some of them really were out of nowhere.
But hey, looking back at some of these cards decades later, you have to love these little quirks popping up from time to time.
I'll be profiling more cards like this in the future, so keep an eye out for them.
A 1970 photo on a 1973 card.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


We've often heard talk about how Don Drysdale was one of those "marginal" Hall of Fame inductees. And while I've wavered on that topic from time to time, what always struck me was that Drysdale retired from the game at a young 32 years of age, yet posted some solid numbers.
Sporting a 209-166 career record with 2486 strikeouts and 49 shutouts by your 32nd birthday isn't all too shabby, and I always wondered what his career stats could have been had he pitched into his mid 30's.
Hall of Fame worthy? I can't really say either way. But he was a dominating pitcher for a big-time organization, teaming up with Sandy Koufax to form one of the all-time kick-ass one-two punches in baseball history.
Also, along with Bob Gibson, Drysdale's fierceness on the mound is legendary. A great quote on his "Baseball-Reference" page states: "He started the game mad, and would hit two of theirs for one of ours…". 
How can you NOT love that? I don't think many players today would be able to deal with a competitor like "Big D". He was one mean dude who controlled his games. HE was the boss when he was on that mound.
Anyway, on a more selfish (collecting) note, it would have been cool to have Don Drysdale cards well into the 1970's as a kid growing up.
But at least I can design a card for him after his final season that just gets him into the decade: a 1970 Don Drysdale "career capper" card.
I went with a nice photo of him peering in for the sign, looking as intimidating as ever on the mound. Classic Drysdale…
"Big D" looking in...

Friday, August 2, 2013


After redesigning the 1974 Fergie Jenkins card for the last "do-over" post, let's stay on the same set a little longer and look at one of my most hated star cards of the decade: #270 Ron Santo.
Seriously. Let me explain what I hate about this card: EVERYTHING!
Let's take a look and get reacquainted...

"You talkin' to me?!"

Where do we even begin?
First off, why was THIS photo used for a horizontal layout? Santo is off to the left of the card, with another player inexplicably just under his face behind him. I swear if you use your imagination it looks like a "mini" player looking down Santo's jersey while hanging on. Why no action shot if you insist on the landscape card?
Then, another teammate seems to be looking RIGHT AT the photographer taking Santo's picture from way back on the right side, while a sparse Spring training crowd is looking on.
Santo looks somewhat annoyed by all of this as he squints while fighting off the glare of the sun.
Either that, or it looks like the photographer yelled out "Hey Ron!!" and caught Santo as he spun around to see who was calling for him.
Ugh. I really get so annoyed with this card. What a shame that this was his last Cubs card. 
For my "do-over", I decided to use a nice portrait pose in a vertical layout. It seemed like a more appropriate last Cubs card for the Chicago legend and future Hall of Famer.
I can honestly say that this card has been one of my most hated cards for about 30 years now.
I always felt it was such a half-assed job for such a popular player.
Anyway, onto the new design:

Better on so many levels.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Anyone out there ever notice the lonely, back-to-the-camera figure sitting on a bench ominously behind Bruce Kison on his 1973 Topps card?!
Talk about strange, and a little creepy!
Check it out:

See her? Or is it a "him"?
Need a little help? Here you go:

Now what the Hell is that?! Is that NOT totally weird?
I remember first spotting this figure back there and just wondered what on earth this random person was doing on a Major League Spring training field, and why the photographer didn't scoot her away before taking the shot.
Granted, I LOVE stuff like this on a card. But man, it's just one of the oddest things I've spotted in the background.
It seems to be totally devoid of humanity back there, then you get this freaking "Blair Witch" thing going on.
You just "gotta love" that 1973 set! It never ceases to amaze...


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