Monday, September 30, 2013


Ron Cey wasn't the tallest player in the big leagues, but at 5' 10", he certainly wasn't short either.
That's why I've always loved this 1974 (#315) card of the "Penguin" that made him look like five feet tall.
I'm sure his stocky build helps, but there seems to be something about the angle of the shot that really contributes to why he looks so small.
I mean, look at home plate! It looks oddly big in relation to Cey.
Hilariously "wrong" looking photo, but a really card overall actually.

Awww, look at the little kid on a Major League field.
Ron Cey is always one of those players that gets lost when talking about star players from the 1970's.
Until Mike Schmidt really hit his stride, Cey was arguably the best third baseman in the National League.
It's easy to forget that Cey was on three all-star cards as the N.L. starting third baseman: 1975, 1976 and 1978, getting beat out by Pete Rose in 1977 and 1979.
But when you look at his career, you see that between 1974 and 1977 he received M.V.P. votes each year while also appearing in every all-star game through 1979.
By the time he retired in 1987 after 17 years in the Majors, Cey pounded out over 300+ home runs with 1100+ runs batted in, and will always be linked the that awesome starting infield for the Los Angeles Dodgers that included Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Bill Russell.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Continuing with this new thread profiling league leader cards that feature only Hall of Fame players,  today we have three sluggers who finished 1-2-3 in the National League in R.B.I.'s in 1969, making for a fantastic superstar loaded baseball card in the 1970 set (#63): Willie McCovey, Ron Santo and Tony Perez.
Combined, we're looking at 1242 lifetime home runs, 4538 runs batted in, 7197 hits and 22 all-star appearances over SIXTY Major League seasons!
All three players were stalwarts of the N.L. throughout their careers and each finished in the top-10 in M.V.P. voting for the 1969 season: McCovey won the award while Santo finished fifth and Perez finished tenth.
As a matter of fact, these three stars received M.V.P. votes in a staggering 24 years during their playing careers.
Needless to say, the Hall of Fame inevitably came calling for each of them: 1986 for McCovey, 2000 for Perez and 2012 Santo, cementing their rightful place in baseball history.

Three R.B.I. machines at the height of their careers.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I'll always remember that the very first "star card" I ever got in the 1971 set was Bob Gibson's card (#450). While I was psyched beyond psyched getting this card as much as an eleven year old kid could be, I never really liked the photo.
It's not the worst card out there, but Gibson looks like he's struggling to walk up onto the mound during a game. That is, if you can even clearly make him out.
As the subject of the card, Gibson kind of blends into the background, leaving A LOT to be desired from a collector's viewpoint.
Since I started this blog I knew I'd eventually get around to redesigning this card, and today is the day, as I ended up using an action shot of him following through on a pitch. Nice, crisp and clear.
It also brings up a question I've always wondered about regarding Topps.
To this day I still don't know why they never had these nice clear shots of players in action. The technology obviously existed, as there are thousands of vintage images online of players from the decade that are not photoshopped, yet are clear, colorful, and perfectly cropped.
I wonder just what Topps' attitude towards the images they used was back then. Did they care at all? Or was the lack of competition a factor in them using whatever they wanted. 
I'm sure I'm missing something here, but am I really being too simplistic with my assumptions?
I'd love to know…

Gibson's card as issued by Topps.

My redesign with a little more focus on "Gibby".

Friday, September 27, 2013


I came across this card the other day looking for things to write about, and what first caught my eye was the funny airbrushing of the "Sox" logo on the player's cap.
However, when I flipped the card around and checked out his stats I saw that he only appeared in two games the previous year, good for only 4.1 innings.
So how did Jim Hughes get a card in the 1978 Topps set (#395)?
This is yet another one of those "commons" you flipped by all the time as a kid, never really scanning the stats on the back and seeing the quirks of Topps.
Hughes was up in the Majors for only four years, ALL with the Minnesota Twins, including the aforementioned 2-game "cup of coffee" in 1977, which actually ended up being his last action in the "big show". On top of that, his first year in the Majors in 1974 also consisted of only two games, good for 10.1 innings and an 0-2 record.
In truth, his real experience as a big leaguer was in 1975 and 1976, where he had a combined 25-28 record mainly as a starter, appearing in 37 games each year.
1975 was a pretty good rookie year actually, as Hughes sported a record of 16-14 with two shutouts, 12 complete games and a 3.82 E.R.A. Not bad for a sub-.500 team.
But in 1976 he took a step back, finishing with a 9-14 record and a ballooning 4.98 E.R.A. before spending the bulk of 1977 in the Minors at Tacoma (Minnesota AAA).
By the end of that year he was granted free agency and signed on with the Chicago White Sox, and apparently Topps was pretty sure he would be suiting up for them every fourth or fifth day. So they went ahead and airbrushed him into a Chicago uniform and gave him a spot in one of my favorite all-time sets, 1978.
What I love most about the card is the jersey, or should I say blue "disco" shirt?! Certainly doesn't look like a baseball jersey, that's for sure.
Anyway, as fate would have it, injuries had Hughes appearing in only eight games in the Minors before moving on to the Dodgers in 1979, pitching on their Triple-A team Albuquerque team before calling it a career.
So here we have one of the many cards showing a player "suited up" for a team who he never actually played for, as well as a card of a player who never played in the Majors again.
Ah the quirks of speculation on the part of Topps.

Dig the blue silk shirt! (At least that's what it looks like to me)...

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Anyone else out there have a deep interest in players who's career encompassed a single full year in the Majors, never to appear again?
One of the all-time classics would have to be Henry Schmidt of the 1903 Brooklyn Superbas.
Here's a player that stuck out when you were reading through the MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia because of his one year career that consisted of a 22-13 record. One season, 20+ wins, and never to be seen again.
Of course with him there was a simple explanation: he wasn't interested in playing out East since he was making a decent enough living playing in the Pacific League.
So in an age when things were extremely different for professional athletes, Schmidt just packed his stuff and returned to the West coast, enjoying a few more productive seasons before retiring as a pro player.
Today I post up a card of another such player who's career was a single-line in the MacMillan encyclopedia: Mike Bruhert of the 1978 New York Mets.
That season, Bruhert earned a spot on the Mets rotation, starting 22 games while appearing in five more, for a total of 133.2 innings of work.
His final numbers weren't that great, as he tallied a 4-11 record to go along with a 4.78 E.R.A. But at the very least you can say he was a serviceable arm for struggling team. He even threw a shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies in September.
But that was it for him on the big league level. He never made it back to the Majors, even though he did spend four more years in the Minors for the Mets, Rangers and Yankees systems.
All told he spent 12 years in the Minors, and nine of them were for the Mets, appearing in 278 games split between starting and relieving. 
But as a Major Leaguer, it was "one and done" for both his playing career and his baseball card "career".
But all was not lost for Bruhert, as he later became the pitching coach at Fordham University when his playing days were over. He even got a wife out of his professional experience, marrying then New York Mets manager Gil Hodges daughter after meeting her when he first came up in the Met's system in 1971.
Nevertheless, I've always enjoyed cards of players that had that single-line career. I couldn't help but wonder what the stories were behind these players, and I'll be profiling more of these guys in the future.
A "One and Done" career captured on cardboard for eternity.


Another week of 1970's baseball trivia. Answers will be posted tomorrow.

1. What team suffered the most losses in one season during the 1970's?

2. What team finished in first place three times, and last place three times during the decade?

3. From 1976 through 1978, three of the four divisions in baseball had the same team end up in first place each season. What division had more than one team end up in first place during these years? And what year was it?

4. What team suffered the most last place finishes in their division during the decade?

5. What season was the only year in the decade to see a team other than the Reds or Dodgers win the N.L. West?


1. 1979 Toronto Blue Jays: 53-109.

2. Philadelphia Phillies: First place in 1976/77/78; Last place in 1971/72/73.
3. 1976 N.L. West: Reds; 1977/78 Dodgers.
4. San Diego Padres: Five times, 1970-1974

5. 1971: San Francisco Giants

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Beyond team cards having checklists on the back helping me mark off what I had and what I still "needed" to finish my set, I never really found them interesting on the whole as a kid.
I just felt that the image was so small and distant that you couldn't really see any of the players clear enough, so what was the point?
After so many years I came around, and since I started collecting again about seven years ago, I really sought out all Topps team cards from the very beginning in the 1950's.
Something I never thought to look out for back in the day were players that were NOT shown on their regular issued cards as a member of whatever team card they appeared on. It was hard to spot them, but if you are aware of what to look for they can be picked out, making for interesting side-stories.
A great example of this is the Baltimore Orioles 1977 team card (#546).
Back when I was collecting as a kid, I never realized that right there in the middle row, all the way on the right was Reggie Jackson (next to the team trainer in white), at the time a GOD to me as a kid in Brooklyn, NY.
As we all know, Reggie's time with the Orioles was a bit of a "Twilight Zone" as far as baseball cards were concerned.
Topps managed to airbrush him into a Yankee uniform in time for his 1977 card, and he was traded too late in '76 for them to get him out of an Oakland uniform. So Reggie as an Oriole is a sort of "black hole" in the collecting world.
But hold on! Here we actually have an official card that has him shown as an Oriole after all. It may not be what we wanted in the long run, but it's better than nothing.
(As a side note, we also have Bobby Grich in the top row, just about center of the aisle. Interesting since his regular issued card in 1977 has him as an Angel after signing with them as a free agent over the Winter).
Reggie is shown with his pre-Yankee #9 uniform number. Once he joined the Yanks he donned #44.
Anyway, as a throw in, I am posting up that nice high resolution scan of the ever-famous proof card of the 1977 Reggie Jackson card that never was (thanks to Keith Olbermann I hear).
Even though "Mr. October" is shown as a Yankee at the top of the card, he's in full Baltimore attire, and apparently quite happy about it too with that beaming smile of his!

Reggie: middle row, extreme right.

"Mr. October" in full Oriole glory.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


This doesn't really fall into a "do-over", so I'll just go ahead and post this without trying to fit it into one of my running threads.
When Jim "Catfish" Hunter signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees, it immediately changed the landscape of Major League baseball for future generations.
On a more current matter at the time, it immediately gave the Yanks a bona fide "A-1" starter and made them a legitimate threat as a baseball power after a decade of disappointments.
Hunter leaving Oakland also started the mass exodus of all the A's star players (Reggie, Bando, Tenace, Rudi, etc), causing the organization that pretty much spent the first half of the decade in first place to fall to last place by the end of the 70's.
It was HUGE in every sense of the word.
However, because Hunter signed with New York on New Years Eve of 1974, Topps didn't have time to get a card out showing "Catfish" in Yankee pinstripes, instead issuing the card you see below (#230), still in Oakland's colorful uni.
Well let's fix that real quick, showing Hunter as a New York Yankee, which quickly turned the team around and into World Champions within two years of his arrival.
Granted, adding guys like Reggie Jackson, Mickey Rivers, and the emergence of Ron Guidry didn't hurt either. But adding "Catfish" Hunter gave their pitching staff a humongous boost. No doubt about it.
Hunter immediately showed the Yankee brass that he was worth every penny in 1975, as he went on to finish with a record of 23-14, with a 2.58 E.R.A. and 177 strikeouts.
What is truly amazing is that he completed 30 of his 39 starts that year! 30! He is still the last pitcher to complete 30 or more games in a season to this day. Incredible.
He ended up second in Cy Young voting that year, behind Jim Palmer of the Baltimore Orioles, while also getting some M.V.P. attention, finishing 12th in the running.
So here you go: an "updated" 1975 Topps card with Jim "Catfish" Hunter on the mound in the Bronx.

Hunter's 1975 Topps card, #230.

"Catfish" in Yankee pinstripes for 1975.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Mike Marshall is about as interesting a character in Major league baseball during the 1970's as any other. And considering some of the characters we've looked at in the past, that is saying something.
How else can you describe a guy who seriously considered retiring from the sport so he could focus on his P.H.D. studies before his record setting 1974 season?
If you've ever read Jim Bouton's hilarious and landmark book "Ball Four" you read about Marshall's legendary battles with his then-manager Jim Schultz while both were members of the ill-fated single-season organization Seattle Pilots.
This guy was something else. And his arm was undoubtedly something else as well. In no less than three seasons, Marshall appeared in 90 or more games, including his record-setting mark of 106 in 1974 that still stands today.
And UNLIKE today with specialty pitchers who come in and face a batter or two, when Marshall came into a game, he pitched.
In 1974, purely a relief role, Marshall threw an astounding 208.1 innings, going 15-12 with a 2.42 E.R.A. and a league-leading 21 saves. Amazing by any standard, any era.
This easily got him a Cy Young award that year, beating out fellow teammate Andy Messersmith, while also finishing third in M.V.P. voting as well.
When it came to baseball cards, Marshall was equally as "unique". Rumor has it that he was a bit of a headache for Topps, refusing to "pose" for pictures. Because of this, his cards featured action shots between 1974 through 1977.
Then, after his '77 card, he disappeared altogether. Why I have no idea. But even though Marshall played through the rest of the decade, there were no cards for him in the 1978 and 1979 set.
I'll come back to his missing 1978 card at a later date since I have to do some extensive Photoshopping to have him in a Texas ranger uniform (I can't find a good shot of him while pitching for Texas).
But for today, I'll go ahead with a "gimmie" and design a 1979 card for him.
1979 was another amazing year for Marshall. He appeared in an A.L. record 90 games, closing out 84 of them, good enough for a 10-15 record with a league-leading 32 saves. Those numbers got him a fifth-place finish in the Cy Young voting that year, which marked the fifth time he was in the running for the award in his career.
He even finished in 11th place for M.V.P. as well, which was the fourth time he garnered serious attention as "Most Valuable Player" during his playing days.
But because of what I understand as "problems" between Topps and Marshall, he was not included in the set that year, leaving a gaping hole for a guy who was as good as any coming into a game as a reliever.
It must have been frustrating for fans of the Twins, and more specifically Marshall, to rip open packs during the late '70's only to find that one of your best pitchers wasn't even depicted on a card.
Then again, from everything I've read online, he's about as tough an autograph to get as anyone else out there, long refusing to sign his name for fans, so perhaps they weren't really missing him too much after all.

PHD, rubber arm, and one mean set of sideburns.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Today I'd like to cap off the great career of Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams.
While the card I designed here shows him as an Oakland A's player after his final year in the Majors, Williams made his everlasting mark on professional baseball as a member of the Chicago Cubs alongside other stars like Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins.
After 16 seasons with the Cubs, Williams was traded to Oakland for three players in October of 1974, hoping to finally get into a World Series. After all, it seemed like a sure-bet considering Oakland was coming off three consecutive championships.
However, as (bad) luck would have it, the A's never made it back to the Fall Classic during Williams' final two seasons before he retired in 1976.
Williams broke into the big leagues in fine fashion, winning the N.L. Rookie of the Year in 1961 at the age of 23.
From then on he formed a powerful trio with the aforementioned Santo and Banks, going on to six all-star appearances and eight seasons where he finished with M.V.P. votes.
As a matter of fact, if it wasn't for Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench, Williams would have had two M.V.P.'s under his belt in 1970 and 1972, as he finished in second place both years to the legendary backstop.
By the time he retired, he sported some top-notch offensive numbers achieved during the "pitching-era" of the 1960's and early '70's: a .290 batting average, 426 homers, 1475 runs batted in and over 2700 hits.
All those beefy stats were good enough for induction in the Hall of Fame, getting voted in in 1987 and joining his longtime teammate and fellow offensive monster, Ernie Banks aka "Mr. Cub". Ron Santo would join them years later in 2012.
So let's go ahead and take one last look at Billy Williams, on a 1977 baseball card as an Oakland A's player, celebrating his Hall of Fame career.

One last card for "Sweet Swingin' Billy from Whistler".

Saturday, September 21, 2013


I'm going to go ahead and start a new thread today called "Hall of Fame Leaders", which are league leader cards throughout the decade of the 1970's that featured ONLY Hall of Fame players.
When I got back into collecting vintage cards after a long absence in the mid-2000's, I really got into tracking down any of these cards for their "star power".
Luckily, the '70's were loaded with such cards.
Here we have Topps 1970 National league E.R.A. leader card (#67), which features no less that three top-notch Hall of Famers: Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton.
I like the fact that we have a sort of "passing the torch" with this card. Gibson and Marichal were at the latter half of their powerful careers, and Steve Carlton was just getting started.
We have two pitchers who dominated throughout the 1960's sandwiched around a guy who would star throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's.
Combined, we're looking at 823 wins and 9556 strikeouts in 57 years of Major League action.
Oddly enough, the three legends you see here each lead the N.L. in E.R.A. only once, and only a couple years apart: Gibson in his phenomenal 1968 season (how he lost nine games that year is STILL incredible!), Marichal in 1969, and Carlton in 1972.
Nevertheless, if there was ever a definition of "star power", this would be up there.
Bob Gibson would be the first to enter the Hall in 1981, with Marichal joining him just two years later in '83 and Carlton rounding out the party in 1994 after a 24 year career.

Two legends at the tail end of their career and one starting out.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Today I want to redesign a card that, although it wasn't a truly ugly card by Topps, it's one that really could have been so much better.
If Topps had more time to have an image of the player on his new team, we'd have a nicer representation of what was to be "history in the making": 1972 Nolan Ryan (#595).
Since this was a late series card, Topps did have the time to do an airbrushing job on Ryan's photo and "put" an Angels cap on him. However, all this left them with was a boring photo where you could also clearly see Ryan wearing a Mets' jersey.
Since this was the beginning of what was to become the legendary "Ryan Express", straight to the Hall of Fame almost 30 years later, let's use a nicer shot for his '72 card, shall we?
As we all know, Ryan was traded to the Angels along with three other players for Jim Fregosi, star shortstop.
And as we ALSO know, this goes down as one of the worst trades in baseball history, as Ryan IMMEDIATELY became THE fire-balling pitcher of his day.
I know I don't have to state the obvious here, but we're talking: 300+ wins, 5000+ strikeouts, seven no-hitters, 11 strikeout titles with six of them being 300+ seasons, two E.R.A. crowns and an almost unanimous Hall of Fame induction.
You can see why people can forget that Fregosi was a legitimate star the Mets were trading for, while Ryan was still trying to prove himself on the Major League level.
Anyway, let's do away with a portrait shot on his first card as a "star" and replace it with a decent action shot of him during his first year in Anaheim.
I got to see Ryan pitch a few times before he hung them up, and he was STILL throwing high-heat (with a loud GRUNT with every delivery) well into his LATE-40's!
It was truly something to behold...

Not the worst card, but not nearly the best.

A vintage shot of the beginning of the "Ryan Express".

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Card #414 of Topps' 1970 baseball set shows a young pitcher just starting out his baseball career pitching for the Chicago White Sox.
What many kids looking at that card didn't know was that tragically the pitcher, Paul Edmondson, died earlier in the year, just two weeks prior to the beginning of Spring Training.
In another instance where Topps didn't have enough time to pull a card from production, the card made it out there in what was to be a sort of "memorial" for the deceased player instead of celebrating an active career, something the 1970's seemed to sadly have an inordinate amount of compared to other decades.
Edmondson was drafted in the 21st round of the very first amateur draft in 1965 by the Chicago White Sox (419th overall) and made it up to the Majors four years later in 1969.
Although his season shows a record of 1-6 with a 3.70 E.R.A., it is worth noting that because of terrible run-support, the real story of his pitching performance is not adequately shown.
In five of his thirteen starts that year, he pitched into the seventh inning and gave up 1 earned run or less, yet walked away with a 0-1 record to show for it. On top of that, there were two other starts where he gave up three runs in six or more innings and and had nothing more than a 0-1 record as well.
That's seven quality starts with only 10 earned runs combined, yet walking away with a 0-2 record.
As a matter of fact, in his five losses as a starter, the White Sox scored a total of just six runs.
Nevertheless, the White Sox were impressed enough that they were looking at Edmondson as a possible fourth starter the following season, and had high hopes for the young arm. 
Tragically however, Edmondson would never get the chance to prove his stuff in 1970.
While driving with a companion down a rain-soaked California highway on February 13th, 1970, his car skid into oncoming traffic, killing both he and his passenger just a day after his 27th birthday.
When you look back on this particular thread, it's incredible to see just how many baseball players lost their lives in automobile accidents during the 1970's. Absolutely tragic.
As usual for this thread, I added the "In Memoriam" stripe across the bottom of his card and present it here in memory of the bright career cut short 43 years ago.
February 12, 1943 - February 13, 1970.


Another week of 1970's baseball trivia. As usual, the answers will be posted tomorrow.

1. Only one pitcher lead the A.L. In complete games with less than 20 for a season during the 1970's. Who was it, and what year?

2. How many years during the decade did the Cincinnati Reds have a player with a top-3 M.V.P. placing?

3. What year was the only season in which the Baltimore Orioles did not have a pitcher finish in the top-5 in Cy Young voting?

4. There were two players that eventually made the Hall of Fame and were the highest picks in the amateur draft during the decade, both going at #3 four years apart. Ironically enough they were picked by the same team. Who were they?

5. What pitcher won the most E.R.A. crowns during the 1970's?


1. Dennis Martinez, Baltimore Orioles, with 18 in 1979..

 2. The Cincinnati Reds had six seasons of players finishing in the top-three in M.V.P. voting: 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976  and 1977.
3. Every season but one, 1974, had the Orioles see one of their pitchers finish in the top-three in Cy Young voting. Mark Cuellar finished 6th that year.
4. Robin Yount (1973) and Paul Molitor (1977) both were picked third overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the amateur draft.

5. Tom Seaver, New York Mets: 1970, 1971 and 1973.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Back in the beginning of June I profiled Topps' 1975 card for Herb Washington, "Designated Runner" for the Oakland A's.
The card offered a never before (or since) seen set of statistics on the back that listed: Games, Runs, Stolen Bases and Caught Stealing. That's it. No at-bats, no hits, no average.
That experiment lasted a couple years, as Washington was out of baseball by the end of '75.
However, there was another player who was used primarily as a pinch runner even though he garnered a few at-bats before his career was done: Larry Lintz.
Check out the stats on the back of his 1977 card (#323):

Lintz probably wondering when he'll finally be allowed to bat.

1 single at-bat with 21 runs scored. Love it.

You just have to love the odd stat line that shows one official at-bat with 21 runs scored! His highlight text at the bottom then states that he had 31 stolen bases as well.
Not bad for aa player who never even got a hit that year!
Unlike Washington however, Lintz did see some playing time as a batter before he got to Oakland.
In 1974 with the Montreal Expos he did manage to get 319 at-bats and 76 hits while stealing a career high 50 bases, good for fifth in the N.L. that year.
But by the time his 1977 card was issued, he only had 30 at-bats left in his career, all of which came during the '77 season.
In 1978 he got into three games for the Cleveland Indians, but no official at-bats and a run scored. Kind of odd since "" has him in a game as a "designated hitter", yet he didn't have an official plate appearance. (???)
I like looking at Lintz's final career stats and taking them as only ONE full season based on his total career at-bats.
What a sick season that would make:
616 at-bats, 137 runs scored, 140 hits, 27 R.B.I.'s and 128 stolen bases with a .277 batting average.
Another bit of Charlie Finley's influence on the crazy-1970's baseball scene...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Wow! By looking at Fred Norman's 1973 Topps card (#32), you can pretty well see that San Diego Padres games in the early 1970's were not too popular an event to attend!
If you can manage to look past the classic mustard yellow uniforms the Padres sported back then, you can plainly see that there isn't one fan to be seen in the numerous seats behind the action!
According to "", the Padres total attendance in 1972 was 644,273, for an avererage of just over 8,000 people a game.
Well it seems that none of them sat along the third base line then.
Just crazy. Looks like a warm-up game...
As for Norman, his 1972 season had a bit of a quirk: of his nine wins that year (he was 9-11), six were by shutout! 
Luckily for him, he was traded during the 1973 season to the Cincinnati Reds, where he went on to be a part of the "Big Red Machine" and their two championships in 1975 and 1976.
He pitched for the Reds into the 1979 season before moving on to Montreal for a year before retiring with a 104-103 record.
Talk about your reversal of fortune!

"Where is everybody?!"

Monday, September 16, 2013


Today I want to take a closer look at the stellar airbrushing job on Curt Motton's 1972 Topps card (#393). 
After five seasons as a fourth outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles, Motton was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers on December 9th of 1971, just in time for Topps to try and get him into the correct uniform for his 1972 card.
What they ended up with is the card shown below:

Dig the bouncer standing guard behind him!

Love it! The "neon-y" purple-blue cap with that crazy "M" goes oh-so-well with the airbrushed Orioles uniform that oddly turned into what looks like a Detroit uni.
And to top the photo off we have that anonymous figure behind him who was also airbrushed (except for his orange stirrups), standing guard like a "V.I.P." bouncer at some bad club in Midtown Manhattan.
What I love best about the airbrush job was the added effect of shadowing on the "M" logo, giving it that "jumping off the card" look.
I gave an "A" for effort on that one!
I just cannot get enough of airbrush jobs that make the finished product look like it's actually a sticker that was placed on top of the card.
Here's a little funny coincidence related to this blog: In his career, Motton was traded for two of the three "Reynolds" pitchers I profiled a while back, Bob and Archie.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Since I mentioned how much I always loved Jerry Grote's 1976 Topps card (#143) in my post yesterday, I thought I'd go ahead and profile the card today.
There was something about that "classic" baseball catcher close-up of the photo they used for the card. It's like the image could be from any era of baseball in the 20th century.
Of course this was the day before all the fancy, modern gadgetry we see catchers using today. Yes of course all the new gear keeps them a bit safer at their position, but I would be lying if I said I like the way it all looks.
The simple chest protector, black mask, batting helmet turned backwards: THIS is what I remember fondly of catchers manning their position when I was a kid.
And this card is a perfect representation of it all. What a great shot, and it doesn't hurt at all that the card design colors are perfectly paired with the photograph.
I always felt the Mets, A's and Reds has the best color schemes in the 1976 set. Their uniforms just went best with the overall card design.
I remember way back when that Jerry Grote MUST have been an awesome catcher since they had such an awesome card for him. Hey, I was seven years old, what did I know, I was learning...
Even though Topps' 1977 set was the first year I was buying cards as a true "collector", following the checklists and "completing" each team, the 1976 was the first year I started buying cards with some comprehension as a baseball fan, albeit rudimentary.
It seemed that each card left a long-standing impression on me that survives to this day.
Is it weird to get that "tingle" 37 years later when I see a Johnny Bench card from this set? Or a Reggie Jackson card? Or even a Pete Rose card?
Anyway, this Grote card was up there for me as one of my favorites from the set, and it still holds up today.
Just a classic from a classic set.

A classic photo that could be from any era.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I remember back in 1977 after ripping through dozens of packs that Jerry Grote wasn't on a card.
Now, the only reason I even paid attention to Grote was because I've always felt his 1976 card was one of the nicest cards ever (I'll be profiling that awesome card in the near future).
I was a Yankee fan, and except for Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman (and ONLY because he was an all-star), I didn't really care about any Mets player.
But that 1976 Grote card left such an impression on me, that when the "new" cards were out, I had him on the back of my mind as I came across Mets players.
Nevertheless, as a young kid I just figured the guy wasn't playing baseball anymore. I don't even think it occurred to me in 1978 when Grote reappeared as an airbrushed Dodger that he was back, or that it reminded me of this "missing" card from 1977.
It wasn't until years later that I did notice that Grote did play a relatively full season in 1976, appearing in 101 games for New York, good enough for 323 at-bats.
So why no card for him in 1977?
Turns out that Grote suffered such back problems during this time period that he openly talked about retiring after the 1976 season. Grote talked about it so much that it seems Topps took him at his word and decided to omit his from the set the following year.
Well, turns out Grote never retired, and while John Stearns took over a majority of the Mets catching duties in 1977, Grote was eventually traded to the Dodgers on August 31, 1977 for two players to be named later.
He stuck around with the Dodgers in a part time role for 1978, but was released after the season and signed on with the Kansas City Royals. However, he didn't appear in a big league game with them until 1981, where he saw action in 22 games before being released in September.
The Dodgers decided to pick Grote up for the stretch run, but he only appeared in a scant two games, good for two at-bats, ending his career as a player on the final day of the season, October 3, 1981.
Though he was never actually a full-time catcher in his career, Grote did have some pretty decent numbers in a time when hitting was at a low-point during the pitching era.
1968 was arguably his finest season, when he finished with a nice .282 average in 124 games and 404 at-bats, even getting voted in as starting catcher for the National League in the All-Star Game that year.
Sadly for him, Topps wasn't yet in the practice of showing the starters that were voted in as all-stars on "all-star" cards the next year. They depicted all-stars as picked by the Sporting News, and the publication picked Johnny Bench as their N.L. all-star.
If I ever do a 1960's baseball card blog, I'll surely right that wrong. We shall see...
Until then, here's a 1977 "missing" card I designed for him, showing a decent "in-action" photo.

Grote in action for the Mets in 1976.

Friday, September 13, 2013


When most people think of Pittsburgh Pirates 2nd baseman Bill Mazeroski, they immediately think of the game-winning homer he blasted to beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series.
But it's easy to forget that Mazeroski's homer was in only his fifth full season in the Majors. He went on to star for the Pirates for the next 12 seasons before hanging them up at the end of the 1972 season.
By the time he retired, Mazeroski won two world championships (1960 & 1971), eight Gold Gloves, made seven All-Star teams, topped 2000 hits and made a name for himself as one of the premier fielding second baseman in baseball.
He still hold the all-time record for turning double-plays for second basemen at 1706, and lead the National League in assists nine times between 1958-1968.
While the BBWA failed to vote him into the Hall of Fame withing the 15 years of eligibility, the Veteran's Committee got him in 2001, almost 30 years after retiring, joining such former teammates like Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.
Though his 1972 late-series Topps card is a nice "final" card. I went ahead and designed a 1973 edition, using a nice shot of "Maz" at the plate, showing a little bit o'girth around the waistline on what seems to be a rainy day in Pittsburgh.

Mazeroski up at bat during his final season in 1972.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


So I was looking through some cards from the mid 1970's to see if anything "odd" popped up to write about, and I came across a 1974 Jim Shellenback card (#657).
Now, at first I just thought about profiling this card because it was odd Topps gave this guy a card in 1974 after only pitching 1.2 innings the previous year. Kind of a "what were they thinking?" type of deal.
Then, out of curiosity, I checked to see what other cards he had, and saw that he wasn't issued a card in 1973 even though he pitched 57 innings the year before.
Now how does THAT make sense?
22 games get's you nothing, yet TWO games get's you a card?
So, what I decided to do was "right a wrong" and turn his 1974 card into a 1973 card, giving him a card when he "should" have gotten one, from the card he didn't "deserve" to have in the first place.

What he got for 1.2 innings in 1973...

What he DIDN'T get for 57 innings the year before.

Shellenback pitched between 1966 and 1977 (missing 1968, 1975 & 1976), appearing in 165 games as a starter and out of the 'pen for the Pirates, Senators/Rangers, and Twins.
I can't even pick what would be his "best" year, as he really didn't have one. If I had a gun to my head, I guess I'd say 1970 (?).
He posted a 6-7 record, with a 3.68 E.R.A. and a shutout in 39 games and 117.1 innings with the Washington Senators.
After toiling in the Minors for the 1975 and 1976 seasons, he made it back up to the Majors for 5 games in 1977, pitching for Minnesota for 5.2 innings.
And that, as they say, was that.


Yep, another week of 1970's baseball trivia. As usual, the answers will be posted tomorrow.

1. Who was the only N.L. Pitcher to win 20+ games in a season while posting a winning pct of .800 or better?

2. In 1970 this player hit 40+ homers for the third consecutive season, becoming the last to do so until Jay Buhner in 1995-97. Who was it?

3. What teams stole an incredible 341 bases in a season during the decade, with no less than eight players topping 20+ steals?

4. In 1971 this player hit .283, good for his second highest total in his 17-year career. That was 78 points LOWER than his career high of .361 ten years earlier. Who was it?

5. While Ron Guidry posted the highest winning percentage for a season during the decade in 1978 (25-3), the second highest percentage among pitchers who qualified also achieved this in 1978, finishing second behind "Louisiana Lightning". Who was it?


1. John Candelaria: 20-5 in 1977.

 2. Frank Howard, who hit 40+ home runs three years in a row: 1968-70 for the Washington Senators.
3. The Oakland A's of 1976, lead by Bill North with 75.
4. Norm Cash, Detroit Tigers.

5. Bob Stanley, who went 15-2 for the Boston Red Sox, good for a winning percentage of .882.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Today we'll take a closer look at card #537 from the 1977 set: Dave Roberts.
So much to talk about here, both the card and the player, where do I begin?
Let's start off with the fact that even though Roberts is shown as an original member of the Toronto Blue Jays, he never actually suited up for them. Ever.
Funny story with that actually.
Roberts, who was the #1 overall draft pick by the San Diego Padres in 1972 out of the University of Oregon, never really panned out as the star infielder San Diego was hoping for.
In all fairness, that 1972 draft wasn't exactly teeming with stars. You have to go all the way to the third round to find a legitimate "star", those being Dennis Eckersley and Gary Carter. But you DID have Chet Lemon go late in the first round. Oh well...
Regardless, Roberts did manage to stick around with the Padres on the Major League level for four years, but in 1976 he spent the entire year in the minors, not really showing enough to promoted before the year was up.
In October of 1976 San Diego sold Roberts, along with Dave Hilton and John Scott to the Toronto Blue Jays, seemingly giving up on their failed future star.
With that, Topps went ahead and airbrushed Roberts (along with Hilton, who I profiled earlier on this blog) in a Blue Jays uniform in anticipation of his new team for the upcoming season.
Only problem is Toronto then managed to turn right around and trade Roberts BACK to San Diego for pitcher Jerry Johnson in February of 1977, immediately making this an outdated card before it even came out!
Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Topps must have been scratching their heads with this one.
Check out the airbrushed Blue Jay logo on Roberts' cap...a bit on the small side don't you think?

Not so fast Topps! He's back with San Diego...

Well, Roberts carved out another six years as a Major League player, albeit in a part time, off-the-bench role, calling it quits after the 1982 season where he played for the Philadelphia Phillies as a catcher/infielder of all things.
When you look at the sheer ineptitude of San Diego's draft picks in the 1970's, it's mind-boggling. Let's look at the picks, along with the Padres position in the first round of the draft each year:

1970: 1st pick overall: Mike Ivie
1971: 2nd pick overall: Jay Franklin
1972: 1st pick overall: Dave Roberts
1973: 4th pick overall: Dave Winfield
1974: 1st pick overall: Billy Almon
1975: 2nd pick overall: Mike Lentz
1976: 5th pick overall: Bob Owchinko
1977: 8th pick overall: Brian Greer
1978: 5th pick overall: Andy Hawkins
1979: 14th pick overall: Joe Lansford

Wow. Eight top five positions in the decade, nine top tens, and the only pick that yielded a bona fide star was Winfield in 1973!
THREE #1 overall picks in the decade and the best they did with that was who, Mike Ivie?!
Just amazing. Go Padres!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Today I'd like to profile a guy who went five years between baseball cards: pitcher Rick Austin.
I've always been interested in players that had long gaps between cards, and I'd always pay special attention to those with five years or more between cardboard appearances.
Austin had just that gap, as he appeared in Topps 1971 set on card #41 as a Cleveland Indian, then in the 1976 set on card #269 as a Milwaukee Brewer.
The two cards represent pretty much the total of Austin's career. In 1970 he broke into the big leagues, appearing in 31 games for Cleveland in 67.2 innings as a reliever and spot starter.
He finished his rookie year with a record of 2-5 with a 4.79 E.R.A., which included a complete game shutout and three saves.
After a sub-par 1971 season which saw him post an E.R.A. of 5.09 in 23 games, Austin was out of the Majors until 1975. He bounced around the Minors for the Indians, White Sox and Brewers before finally getting called back up in 1975, getting into 32 games for Milwaukee strictly as a reliever.
Those 32 games were enough for Topps to give him the 1976 card you see below, as he posted a line of 2-3 with a 4.05 E.R.A. in 40 innings.
However that was pretty much it for his career as he only appeared in three games for Milwaukee in 1976 totaling 5.1 innings before heading back to the Minors before hanging them up at the end of the season.
One last interesting note on Austin: he was selected by the Indians as the sixth pick in the secondary phase of the 1968 June draft, seven picks ahead of a first baseman named Steve Garvey, who as we all know was selected by the Dodgers.

As a 24-year-old hopeful with the Tribe.
Five years later, ragged in Milwaukee.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Throughout the 1970's we have seen some strange choices for Topps to use as far as images go in regards to "failure".
One that immediately comes to mind is the 1972 Roberto Clemente "In Action" card which shows him upset at an umpires pitch call, or a card I profiled earlier on this blog: the 1973 Dick Green card that shows him muffing a grounder.
Well today we'll look at another one of those cards: the 1971 #300 card of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.
Why, may I ask, did Topps feel it best to use an image of the Baltimore legend striking out!?
I mean, really? There was no other image to use?
Ever since I first laid eyes on this card as a kid I despised this image. It was just wrong in so many ways. Why show an all-time great failing at the plate?
Was Topps trying to teach us kids humility? Were they attempting to show us how the "real world" really is?
Thanks, but no thanks. I'll keep my legends as legends in the old noggin for as long as I can.
So I went ahead and did a simple redesign using a nicer shot of the "Human Vacuum Cleaner" at the plate.
You know, one where he isn't shown whiffing, body twisted up like a pretzel, with the crowd looking on in disappointment.

A hero, a legend, a strikeout (???).

A more appropriate photo for the Hall of Famer.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Now, if you're going to go ahead and bother airbrushing a cap to represent a player's new team, don't you think it may be worthwhile to pay a little attention to details of a historic nature and simply airbrush the jersey a little?
Anyone who knows baseball uniforms knows that the New York Yankees have never, and I mean NEVER had a player's name across the back of a jersey.
It's one of those little things that gets on my nerves every time I see a Yankee fan with one of those "authentic" jerseys they spent out the ass for, only to ruin it by getting letters across the back, making a joke of a beautiful piece of baseball history.
Anyway, take a look at the disaster below.
Here we have card # 619 of Topps 1972 set showing Rich McKinney, who was traded to the Yanks in December of 1971 for pitcher Stan Bahnsen, in a poorly airbrushed Yankee cap (seriously, that "NY" is hilarious).
But upon further inspection, not only can you can clearly see the first few letters of his last name on his back, but you can even see the "x" of the word "Sox" on the front of his jersey as well.
Kind of funny actually. But I have to ask: if the person airbrushing the image already had the equipment out, why not pull the trigger a few more times AT LEAST to get rid of the last name?
Forget the front for a minute. Airbrushing away the last name on the back would have been an easy one.
Oh well. I guess these guys were NOT being paid by the hour.
As for Rich McKinney the player: by the time this card saw the light of day his best days were behind him.
He played in only 37 games for New York in 1972 before going to the Oakland A's as part of the trade that brought Matty Alou to the Yanks a year later.
In Oakland he managed to stick around until the 1977 season, playing sporadically at best, though he did play in 86 games in 1977 (second highest seasonal total in his career), good enough for 198 at-bats.
Yet Topps didn't include him in the 1978 set, to which I will right this "wrong" in the future as part of my "missing" thread.
Now let me go and count how many Yankee jerseys I can find with player names on the back, I'm heading to the Stadium...

You ever see a Yankee uniform with a name across the back?!

Friday, September 6, 2013


While trolling around online recently, I came across an old photo of former Twins manager Tom Kelly as a player from 1975.
I've always known that he didn't have much of a Major League playing career, but never realized that he saw enough action in his only year, 1975, to warrant a card being issued for him in the 1976 set.
In his only season up in the big leagues, Kelly played in 49 games for 147 plate appearances, hitting a not-so-impressive .181 while playing first base and some outfield. Not much, but enough in my eyes for Topps to give him a card.
Nevertheless, after that brief time in the "bigs" he bounced around the Minors until 1980, suiting up for the Twins and Orioles.
He did have some pretty decent seasons, showing some "pop" to go along with some solid averages, and he even got to pitch in a few games, going 1-0 with a 1.88 E.R.A. in 24 innings, yet for some reason he never got the call back up.
Well as we all know, Kelly found his way to leading teams on the field, starting out as skipper for Visalia in A-Ball at the ripe old age of 26 in 1977 as a player-manager.
By the time 1986 rolled around, he was managing the Minnesota Twins, and it was a position he'd hold onto for 16 years, even leading the team to two world championships in 1987 and 1991.
Some of the players he managed were stars like Kirby Puckett, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield and Jack Morris.
He finally retired after the 2001 season, getting himself a bunch of baseball card appearances of the managerial variety along the way.
But today, I post a 1976 player card I designed for the former Twins leader reflecting his cup-of-coffee back in 1975.
Seems the Twins didn't have a card of a first baseman in the 1976 set. I had to "cut out" the player icon in the lower left from a George Scott card and recolor the border for the Kelly card shown below. Go figure...

The future World Series winning manager as a player in 1976.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


As if Hoyt Wilhelm needed another card in a LONG and illustrious career, I couldn't help but create a 1973 Topps card for the knuckleball relief specialist.
I've always been fascinated by Wilhelm's career.
Who knows what he could have done if he remained a starter. Who knows what his career numbers would have been if he began his career in his early 20's instead of at the ripe "old" age of 29!
Think about this for a second: the man started his career at 29 and he STILL pitched in 21 seasons. He still ended up setting what was then the all-time record for appearances by a pitcher with 1070.
Throw in seven seasons of sub-2.00 E.R.A.'s, 227 saves, and on top of all of that, TWO E.R.A. crowns in the ONLY two years he even threw enough innings to qualify, and you definitely have a Hall of Fame career when it's all said and done.
Take a look at Wilhelm's rookie season. In 1952 he shows up in New York, pitching for the Giants, and all he does is go 15-3 in 159.1 innings, with a league-leading 2.43 E.R.A. and 11 saves. And this was ALL in relief! He appeared in 71 games without a single start. Just awesome.
He also managed to hit a home run in his first Major League at bat on April 23, 1952, never to hit another one in his career. Go figure.
It would then be another seven years before he would pitch more than 154 innings, this time topping out with a career high 226 with the Baltimore Orioles in 1959 mainly as a starter.
His other numbers that year were good enough to have him selected as an All-Star: 15-11, league-leading 2.19 E.R.A., and 13 complete games with three shut outs.
Whether you had him starting or coming in as a reliever, he was up for the challenge.
Wilhelm finally called it a career after the 1972 season where he appeared in only 16 games for the L.A. Dodgers.
Over the course of his last five seasons (all post-45 years of age), he bounced around a bit and pitched for five teams: White Sox, Angels, Braves, Dodgers and Cubs, going 17-18 with 43 saves.
Nevertheless, Wilhelm was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985, generally considered the first relief pitcher to have this honor bestowed upon him.
So without any further delay, here's a 1973 card design capping off a great and unique Major League career.

Wilhelm still at it at 49 years young.


Time for another week of 1970's baseball trivia. As usual, the answers will be posted tomorrow.

1. Oddly enough, the top two high water marks for runs scored by a player in a season for the 1970's happened in the same league, same year. Who were the two players?

2. What American League player had the highest stolen base total for a season during the decade?

3. Who was the only player to lead the A.L. In triples three times in the 1970's?

4. The same player who topped the American League in runs scored for the decade also lead in total doubles for the same time period. Who is it?

5. Who was the only player to lead his league in runs three consecutive years in the 1970's? And what years were they?


1. Billy Williams (137) and Bobby Bonds (134): 1970.

 2. Willie Wilson, Royals: 83 in 1979.

3. George Brett, Royals: 1976, 1976 & 1979.

4. Amos Otis, Royals: 861 Runs and 286 Doubles.

5. Pete Rose, Reds: 1974 through 1976.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


A card that has always piqued my interest because of the background in the photo is the 1972 Topps card (#784) of Indians manager Ken Aspromonte.
You see, I'm born and raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, just like he was, and I swear to you that it looks like the old neighborhood during Autumn behind him. I can't explain it, and I do know I don't have much to go on in that image, but damn if I don't see "home" there.
Now, I'm sure Topps didn't go and have Ken dress up in his Cleveland best during the off-season while he was back home so they could snap a shot of him for a baseball card. But I must ask, where on earth WAS this photo taken?
It was a late-series card, but does that play into photo-location probabilities here?
He seems to be standing somewhere where there are private homes and bare trees in the middle of November, like on some residential street.
It's not a Spring training facility down South or some picture of him during a regular season game in some Major League ballpark. Not even close.
This really is a unique image for a baseball card because of what the background depicts. It has "Fall" written all over it and I love it!
Does ANYONE know anything about this image? I'm dying to know what this was about.

Where was this shot taken? And when?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Let's revisit that crazy 1973 Topps set for another card that makes me laugh every time I see it: #656 John Ellis.
Actually, it IS one of the better "action" shots when you think about it. Ellis seems to be pissed off at the ump for what I'm assuming was a play at first base, NOT home plate as the card position of "catcher" would lead you to believe.
To top it off it looks like the ump may be one of the all-time classics in the game Ron Luciano, making this even more of a classic card for having the flamboyant ump as part of the action as well.
But getting back to Ellis, take a look at that uniform! The airbrushing job Topps did made the thing look like something a weekend softball warrior would suit up in rather than a Major League player.
From what I've gathered, the picture was actually taken in 1971 when Ellis was on the New York Yankees.
How do I know this? Ellis never played first base as a Yankee against the Oakland A's in 1972. He only manned first for eight games that year, and none against the A's. But he did in 1971.
So Topps, for some reason, went ahead and used an "older" image for Ellis for the 1973 card which already had him correctly "shown" as a Cleveland Indian.
But too bad the airbrushing was more of a cover-up job than anything else. Better yet, scratch "too bad". I'm glad they did this since I've always liked this card for it's zaniness.
I love how the "artist" did actually spend a little time on it by attempting to get Cleveland's piping down on the grey Yankee road jersey.
Problem is the colors are a bit BRIGHT and neon-like, giving it that cheap amateur feel that we've all seen (and worn) at some point in our lives in schoolyard-leagues, little league, etc.
The black sleeves, the duller grey pants not matching the "bluer" grey jersey, the absence of any team logos or names, it all makes for a "generic" look as if the card was "unofficial" like those Fleer football cards we'd get in the late 70's/early 80's that looked awful.
However, like I've said many times before: "you gotta love it!"
You just don't see these types of cards anymore.

Ellis stating his case with what seems to be Ump Luciano in 1971.

Monday, September 2, 2013


The last time I posted for this memorial thread, I ended by mentioning that sadly this would not be the last we'd see of the 1977 Topps set in regards to a player meeting a tragic end at a young age.
I've already posted "memoriams" for Bob Moose, Danny Thompson and Mike Miley showing them on a 1977 card, and today another player is remembered who died around the time this set was issued: Danny Frisella.
Just 5 days before Angels infielder Mike Miley passed away in a car accident in Louisiana, the Milwaukee Brewers suffered a loss of their own when pitcher Frisella passed away on New Years Day in Phoenix, Arizona.
Once again, Topps had already produced the 1977 card line up for their new set and didn't have enough time to pull Frisella's card, giving us the card you see pictured below.
I added the "memoriam" banner along the bottom as I've done with the others in this thread.
Frisella was drafted by the New York Mets in 1966 out of Washington State University and made it up to the Major Leagues the following year.
He pitched for New York over the next six seasons, having his best year in the big leagues in 1971 when he went 8-5 with a sparkling 1.99 E.R.A. to go along with 12 saves in 53 games after learning to throw a forkball from Diego Segui over the Winter in Venezuela.
In November of 1972 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves along with pitcher Gary Gentry for George Stone and Felix Milan and stuck around for two years before going over to the San Diego Padres in 1975.
Though he posted a record of 1-6, he did have decent numbers overall, but San Diego shipped him to St. Louis after the season, where Frisella started the season in 1976.
But after only 18 games, he was once again traded, this time to the Brewers where he appeared in 32 games, posting impressive numbers of a 5-2 record and a 2.74 E.R.A. as a man out of the bullpen.
Sadly, Frisella never made it back to a Major League mound.
While riding a dune buggy near his home on January 1st, his vehicle tipped over and Frisella was not able to escape in time. He was caught underneath the roll bar as the vehicle rolled over his body, crushing him. He was only 30 years old with a wife and two sons.
The third such tragedy in the baseball world in a short period of time.

March 4, 1946 - January 1, 1977.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


What an odd inclusion to the 1970 set card Buzz Stephen (#533) is.
Why Topps decided on this player to include in their set is beyond me.
You see, Stephen's entire career consists of two games pitched for the Minnesota Twins in 1968. A total of 11.1 innings.
He actually got a decision in both games, going 1-1 with a 4.76 E.R.A. But that's hardly enough to justify a card for the guy two years later as a member of a team he never ended up pitching for.
In October of 1968, the fledging Seattle Pilots team selected Stephen as their 9th pick of their expansion draft. It seemed like a decent pick considering not only did 23 year old Buzz make his Major League debut, but he had a solid year in the Minors as well, going 11-9 with a 3.96 E.R.A. at Charlotte in Double-AA ball.
But, as with so many other drafts, many get picked, but few end up in the "big show".
Stephen never made it back up, pitching in the Minors for a couple of more years in the Orioles system before calling it a career.
Yet in 1970, Topps gave Buzz a slot in their set, leaving many to scratch their heads decades later.
2 games, 11.1 innings, and a baseball card for all of eternity.
Not too bad.
I'll never get tired of cards like this…
2 games in 1968 got him THIS card in 1970.


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