Thursday, October 31, 2013


You'd think a former two-time batting champ and twelve year veteran of the Major Leagues would get a little more respect than Tommy Davis did in 1973 with Topps.
In a year that see's Topps issue player cards to the likes of Jose Arcia, Monty montgomery or Jim Geddes, you'd think that a former star player who accumulated over 100 at-bats the previous year would warrant a card.
Well, we've seen a bunch of other strange choices Topps made regarding player selection for their sets, so I guess I shouldn't be TOO surprised here.
But funny enough, even though Tommy Davis was in a state of flux with his career in the early 1970's, 1973 would be a sort of rebirth for him, as he filled in wonderfully for the Baltimore Orioles as their first full-time designated hitter, ending the season with a 10th place finish in the A.L. M.V.P. Voting.
For the season Davis ended up hitting .306 with seven homers and 89 runs batted in over the course of 137 games. Not bad for a guy who bounced around and played for five teams the previous three years.
By all accounts Davis went on to an even better year in 1974, hitting .284 with 11 homers and 84 R.B.I.'s with 181 hits in 626 at-bats at the age of 35, once again getting Most Valuable Player attention.
Well, I've gone and created a 1973 card for Davis, one that easily should have been in place of a few players Topps decided to go with that year.
A comeback year for the former two-time batting champ.
I can't finish this post profiling Tommy Davis without mentioning his kick-ass 1962 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That season he crushed everything thrown his way, hitting a league-leading .346 with 230 hits, nine triples, 27 homers and astounding 153 runs batted in! He also threw in 18 stolen bases for good measure. 
All those numbers got him a third place in M.V.P. Voting behind teammate Maury Wills and the Giants' Willie Mays, who I think got robbed of the award.
But hey, that's for another day…


Another set of trivia questions to ponder. Answers will be posted tomorrow down below:

1. What reliever received the most points in MVP voting during any one year in the decade?

2. Two players share the low-mark for 1st place M.V.P. votes among winners during the 1970's, one in the A.L. and one in the N.L. Who are they?

3. In the 1970 American League Cy Young voting, the fourth place finisher had just as many 1st place votes as the winner, Jim Perry, with six, more than even the second and third place finishers. Who was he?

4. Who was the only unanimously voted Rookie of the Year winner during the decade?

5. What pitcher managed to finish in second place in the N.L. Cy Young race in 1977, then finish in second place in the A.L. Cy Young race two years later in 1979?


1. Sparky Lyle, New York Yankees. 158 MVP points in 1972.

2. Jeff Burroughs, Texas Rangers in 1974 and Keith Hernandez, St. Louis Cardinals in 1979 (co-winner with Willie Stargell). Both had only 10 first place votes.
3. Mike Cuellar, Baltimore Orioles.
4. Carlton Fisk, Boston Red Sox. 1972.

5. Tommy John, Los Angeles Dodgers in '77 and New York Yankees in '79.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


The very first baseball card I ever got of a defunct baseball team was a 1971 Topps Dick Such #283, sometime in 1980.
I remember there was this antique store in Bensonhurst in the late-70's/early-80's that also sold rubber banded blocks of old baseball cards.
My lord, I remember it was $2 for a small stack of cards from the 1960's and $1 for huge stacks from the 1970's.
I literally went every other day with every dollar I had!
On top of that, he had those plastic sheets hanging in the window with cards that were more "expensive", and I bought the following all for about $5 each: 1956 Mickey Mantle, Roy Campanella  and Willie Mays, 1959 Mantle, Mays, Hank Aaron, 1958 Roger Maris and 1957 Aaron!
Man I MISS those days when you could frequently find scores like that!
Anyway, a bit before the BIG buys just mentioned, I bought a big stack of cards from the '70's for a buck, and there were cards from every year of the decade.
As I was flipping through the stack right outside the store I came across a "Senators" card.
Wow! I stared at that card for a long minute, excited that I finally had one.
I remember seeing the team name "Senators" on the backs of some current player cards, like Jeff Burroughs and Tom Grieve, just as I saw the name "Colt .45's" on Joe Morgan and Rusty Staub's cards, and wondered why these teams were no longer around.
For a little kid it became some mystical ghost of baseball's past.
Anyway, here was this Senators card of a young pitcher named Dick Such, and I built up my idea of what this guy did on the baseball diamond within minutes.
It wasn't until I got my very first Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia soon after that I was grossly disappointed!
Turns out that Such's career was over before this card ever even saw the light of day.
After starting out the 1970 season up in the Majors with the Senators, Such appeared in 21 games, good for 50 innings of work.
Sadly, it wasn't "good" work, as he went 1-5 with a bloated 7.56 e.r.a. both as a spot starter and a middle reliever.
After seeing some action on July 17th, 1970, he was demoted and never made it back up as a player in the Major Leagues again, eventually calling it a career after the 1973 season.

My first foray into defunct baseball teams.

Although Such's playing career didn't pan out, he did find success as a pitching coach both in the Majors and Minors.
As a matter of fact from 1986 through the 2001 season Such was the Minnesota Twins pitching coach under Ray Miller and Tom Kelly, even coaching both Twins World Champion teams in 1987 and 1991.
Such is still coaching in the Minors today, now for the Boston Red Sox and their Rookie-Level Gulf Coast Red Sox team.
One last thing to mention: can you imagine a more frustrating season for a pitcher than Such's 1967 Minor League year at York in the Double-A Eastern league for Washington?
That season, playing for a bad team, Such posted a season E.R.A. of 2.81 in 20 starts and 128 innings, yet had nothing but an 0-16 record to show for it!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Here's a cool card exemplifying the short-lived Seattle Pilots organization: Bobby Bolin's card #574 in Topps 1970 baseball card set.
According to all the records I can find, Bolin never suited up for the Pilots in their one year of existence in 1969.
However here we have him in a Seattle Pilots uniform.
He did in fact play with the Milwaukee Brewers during their inaugural season of 1970. But nowhere can I find any proof that he was part of the Pilots organization.
However, it seems that the image was taken during Spring training, 1970, right before the Pilots were relocated to Milwaukee during the first week of April, right before opening day!
If so, that's a pretty neat card considering the window of opportunity for Topps and this image was just a few weeks.
Just one of the crazy quirks regarding the one-year franchise that were the Seattle Pilots. Read more about them below.
As for Bobby Bolin, he was a decent pitcher who could start and relieve, putting together a decent 13-year career playing for the Giants, Brewers, and Red Sox.
In 1968 he posted a 10-5 record for San Francisco with a sparkling 1.99 E.R.A. during the "year of the pitcher", but 1965 was probably his best year in the "Bigs", as he went 14-6 with a 2.76 earned run average as a spot starter.

Bolin in a uniform he'd never wear during an "official" game.

If you don't already know, the Seattle Pilots went into 1970 Spring Training under a cloud of financial problems, and at one point the team was almost folded, allowing all players to become free agents.
But unbeknownst to most people, including some of the owners, front man Dewey Soriano had secret meetings with Milwaukee car dealer Bud Selig during the previous Autumn and agreed to sell the franchise so Selig could return Major League baseball to the Milwaukee area.
Apparently the other owners were NOT happy about this, as well as Washington State's two senators, and other ownership option, which would keep the Pilots in the Northwest, were anxiously sought.
But after some legal wrangling between owners and local politicians, a judge ruled that the sale would be official, leaving the new ownership scrambling to field a team in time for opening day just five days before opening day!
Can you imagine this happening today?!
So here we have a franchise that actually started a season in one city and move on to another during the year!

Monday, October 28, 2013

#200's for the 200th

Well well...
Feels good to have this blog going strong and making it to it's 200th post!
Thanks to all who are reading it...
Let's jump right in and take a look at all the cards #'erd 200 for the decade of the 1970's:

1970: Kind of a bummer here. For some reason Topps let a sub-set take the #200 spot in the set, and the sub-set was a bit lame for my tastes.
Big burly Boog Powell scoring the winning run in game two of the A.L. playoffs. In black and white nonetheless!

1971: Well, Topps went and did it again! Total bummer that we have two years in a row that card #200 wasn't dedicated to a superstar.
This year we have the National League playoffs depicted, showing Reds' player Bobby Tolan scoring his third run of the game in Game Two of the series. This time Topps went for the tonal image instead of black and white. Ugh. The card borders are infinitely more interesting than the photo itself.

1972: Finally!  We have a Hall of Famer!  Lou Brock graces card #200 in the 1972 set.
Nice card of the St. Louis speedster. After two straight years of bland, colorless photos we have a nice explosion of color here.
On a more personal note, I'm almost positive that the Lou Brock card was the first "star card" of 1972 that I got as a kid years later. Great card!

1973: Nice to have another Hall of Famer at #200, but too bad we have a bit of a boring card for Cubs' slugger Billy Williams.
Williams was just coming off perhaps his best year in his solid career, leading the league in batting while also slugging 37 homers and driving in 122 runs.
As mentioned earlier, it would be the second time in three years he'd lose out on the M.V.P. award, finishing second both times to Johnny Bench.

1974: Here's a nice card of a player that seemed to be on the verge of becoming a monster of a player for years to come.
Coming off of two incredible years for the Houston Astros, Cesar Cedeno looked like he was indeed set to be one of the true superstars of baseball as both a slugger and a base stealer.
After stealing over 50 bases, clubbing over 20 homers, AND batting .320 in 1972 and 1973, everyone was just waiting to see what else he would accomplish between the foul lines.
And while he went on to drive in over 100 runs for the first time in 1974, his average dipped almost 60 points to .269.
He remained solid for the rest of his 17 year career, topping 2000 hits, stealing over 500 bases and just missing 200 homers with 199, but he never really blossomed into that superstar that fans were waiting for after exploding on the baseball world in the early '70's.
I like this card for showing that promise and expectation that was hovering around him then.

1975: One of my favorite sub-sets of the 1970's was the "M.V.P." series celebrating 25 years of Topps baseball cards.
Just so happens that one the reasons I loved it as a kid was because Topps had to create cards for the sub-set that never existed before, and THIS card happens to be one of them.
Maury Wills didn't have a Topps card until 1967, as a Pittsburgh Pirate. So when Topps was putting this sub-set together, they had to go back a create a 1962 card for him since he was the N.L. M.V.P. that year.
Nice. Early cards "that should have been" going on in 1975!

1976: Kind of a bummer. Even though you have two Hall of Famers here, plus one of the most "colorful" (pun intended) characters in Vida Blue depicted on the card, it kind of sucks that card #200 in my favorite set was a league leader card.
Nevertheless, it could have been worse. It could have been that dumb Kurt Bevaqua bubble-gum blowing card that I always thought was silly, even when I was seven years old!

1977: Here's a guy that really came on the baseball scene and was ready to team up with Nolan Ryan as the most powerful one-two fire-balling punch in the Majors.
Frank Tanana wasn't exactly a superstar in the late 70's, but people were gambling on the future with him as a star, and he didn't disappoint for a little while.
Topps went ahead and gave him a superstar number based on a successful 1976 season which saw him finish third in the Cy Young voting behind Jim Palmer and Mark Fidrych.
His first five full seasons in the bigs were excellent. A strikeout crown, and E.R.A. crown, four seasons of 15 or more wins and three years of sub-3.00 E.R.A.'s.
He really was well on his way to being a star.
Sadly arm-trouble set in and even though he managed to stick around for 21 years, he never did become the star pitcher everyone was expecting.

1978: Well, not much to say here since I already profiled this card earlier on this blog.
One of my all-time favorite cards. Quite possibly my second all-time favorite behind the 1976 Johnny Bench card actually.
Total perfection. A truly amazing card for "Mr. October" right after he elevated himself into baseball eternity in the 1977 World Series.
Man when I first saw this card I flipped out! What an awesome freaking card!
Reggie at the height of his fame. He really was a player who lived for the spotlight, and was absolutely up for the big obnoxious glare of the new York City spotlight.

1979: Great superstar, pretty lame-looking card.
Was never a fan of this card. Seems like bench just grounded to a middle-infielder and was swinging through, ready to drop the bat and run out the futile at-bat.
And by now I'm sure you all know how much I hate photos of superstars on cards that show futility. No need for it!
But it WAS an All-Star card, and I have always had a soft-spot for that n ice "all-star" banner blazing across a card.

Not nearly as entertaining as the "100's" profiled earlier, so let's hope I get up to the "300's" and have better cards to profile.
But then again, having seven Hall of Famers among the cards #'ered 200 isn't too shabby a selection to look at.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Here's a nifty league leader card from 1971 that has THREE prominent Hall of Famers: the National League Home Run Leaders card (#66).
Johnny Bench, Billy Williams and Tony Perez.
58 years of star baseball between them, amassing 7491 hits, 1194 home runs and 4503 runs batted in.
While Perez and Bench were powering the pre-"Big Red Machine" at this point, Williams was clubbing his way into legendary status on the North side of Chicago with the Cubs.
(Un)funny enough for Billy Williams, he would finish second in Most Valuable Player voting BOTH in 1970 and 1972, losing out tho Bench both times.
Even funnier regarding this card: just as we saw on the previous "Hall of Fame Leader Card" in my last post for this thread, here we have the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in the stat being represented being the same as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in the M.V.P. voting. 
Perez ended up in third place (his highest finish during his career) in 1970, behind Bench and Williams.
All three of these players were at the height of their careers here, with Williams an established veteran, Bench the "new superstar on the block" and Perez somewhere in between.
I've always been a big fan of those 1971 league leader cards...

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Today's dedicated rookie card goes to Hall of Famer Jim Rice, who's first card was one of those lame multi-player jammies I was never a fan of. (see below).
1975 turned out to be one of the better sets, if not THE best set of the decade when it came to Hall of Fame rookies (Gary Carter, Robin Yount, George Brett), and joining that superstar crew was Rice in 2009 with his induction to the Hall.
Sadly, unlike Brett and Yount, who had their own dedicated rookie cards, Rice was lumped in with the likes of Dave Augustine, Pepe Mangual and John Scott on HIS card, leaving us with a ho-hum rookie of one of the most feared sluggers of the era.
It's funny, because I remember back in 1983 or so, it was the Fred Lynn rookie of the same set that was all the rage, and I must proudly say that I was buying up all the Jim Rice rookies I came across since I thought HE was the future Hall of Famer with the stats he was putting up year after year.
But a card like the one I designed below would have been awesome to have as his initial cardboard slab! Hope you like it too…
Remember any of the other three guys?

A monster unleashing at the plate.
I'm STILL amazed with Rice's run from 1977 through 1979! Even though he only pulled in one M.V.P., he was an absolute terror at the plate.
Over 200 hits each year, along with 39, 46 and 39 homers, as well as averaging 124 runs batted in and a .320 average.
Then you notice that the dude hit 15, 15 and 6 TRIPLES those years, leading the league in homers AND triples in 1978.
I mean, that is just plain RAKING at the plate!
Man, Rice used to terrify me as a young Yankee fan. He was just plain brutal to opposing pitchers, and it was a shame that he had to wait so long to get elected into Cooperstown. 
Now if only Dave Parker and Steve Garvey can get some love from the Veteran's Committee in the future, THEN we'll be cooking with gas!
Time will tell…

Friday, October 25, 2013


I can't really put my finger on the "why" of it all, but this card has always looked like a masterpiece to me.

The king on the mound, looking in...
Here's Jim Palmer, arguably THE starting pitcher in the American League during the decade, looking like the "all-star" he is on the mound.
I just love the color, the photo that Topps used, and that bright beautiful "all-star" banner across the bottom of the card.
My only gripe would be the big ugly "Topps" logo they decided to slap on their cards that year. Odd since they didn't have any competition in 1979, unlike two years later with Donruss and Fleer.
Regardless, what a great card from my youth! For me, a classic!
As a kid growing up in the 1970's, Palmer was one of those guys that seemed to always be an all-star.
I remember when the 1979 set came out, I was ten years old, and I didn't yet realize that Topps used all the starters from the previous year's all-star game as their "all-stars" on baseball cards.
So of course, I was CONVINCED that the A.L. all-star card for this set would be Ron Guidry, right?
So when I saw THIS card, I was both pissed off AND psyched because I wanted Guidry as an all-star, but loved the way this card looked!
What else can you say about the dominance of Palmer in the '70's?
EIGHT 20-win seasons out of ten, 186 wins, three Cy Young awards, eight years of sub-3.00 E.R.A, and 44 shutouts!
Incredible run if there ever was one...

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Time for this week's set of trivia questions. Answers will be posted tomorrow down below:

1. You may be surprised by the answer: what reliever had the most saves in a "perfect" season during the decade? That is, no blown saves for the year?

2. What starting pitcher had the lowest season E.R.A. while sporting a losing record during the '70's?

3. Who was the only pitcher to lead a league in E.R.A. for a season without winning 10+ games?

4. What pitcher had the highest strikeout total in a season without leading the league?

5. Who was the only pitcher during the decade to NOT have more wins than losses while leading the league in E.R.A. during the 1970's?


1. 1977 Dave Campbell, Atlanta Braves: 13/13.

2. Dave Roberts, San Diego Padres: 2.10 with a 14-17 record.
3. Craig Swan, NY Mets. 1979. 9-6 with a 2.43 E.R.A..
4. Vida Blue, Oakland A's. 1971. 301 K's, second to Mickey Lolich who had 308.

5. Diego Segui, Seattle Pilots. 1970. 10-10 record with a 2.56 E.R.A..


With all the bitching and moaning I have done about Topps and their airbrushing abilities, it's about time I give them SOME credit with a great job on one of their cards: 1973 Dave(y) Johnson #550.
Unless you really stare at the card and notice that the player on the ground is wearing a Yankee uniform, thereby making this odd since Johnson is in a Braves uniform, you wouldn't even realize that Johnson was completely airbrushed.
Talk about a really good job!
Actually Davey Johnson was originally wearing a Baltimore Orioles uniform, for whom he played with in 1972. THAT'S why he's seen here playing against the Yanks.
Nicely done. To be honest I never even realized this airbrush gem until I saw someone else mention it on their blog a few years ago.
What particularly strikes me is the great job of airbrushing the Braves "leaf" icon on Johnson's short-sleeve. Excellent work there!

Seems like the Braves played the Yankees in 1972!
On a side note here: Johnson's 1973 season really is something out of the Twilight Zone as we all know.
Let's take a quick look at the improbable year he had in his first season at the "Launching Pad", Fulton County Stadium:
From 1965-1972 while playing for the Orioles, Johnson put up decent numbers for the day, averaging about 10 home runs a year with about 60 runs batted in.
All of a sudden it seems the change of scenery made him a powerhouse of a batter, as he launched 43 home runs with 99 R.B.I.'s!
Now WHERE on earth did THAT come from!?
He was also part of history, as teammates Hank Aaron and Darrell Evans also hit 40+ homers, making them the first trio in baseball history to hit 40+ homers as teamamtes.
Now, with Evans and Aaron, it was NOT a shock. But with Johnson, you have to wonder what on earth went on there!
I STILL have never heard a good reason as to Johnson's offensive outburst that year.
The very next year he ended up with 15 homers, more to his career average, and then never played a full season in the Majors again.
In his entire career, the highest slugging percentage he ever posted for a season outside of 1973 was .443 in 1971. Then in '73 he posts an eye-popping .546!
If that were to happen today (Jacoby Ellsbury anyone?), you KNOW what he'd be accused of...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Many of you out there already know the messed up story of former #1 draft pick David Clyde.
If not, just read below to get an idea of how this young kid was mistreated by the Texas Rangers.
But first, even though I know that technically this wouldn't be considered a "missing" card as per MY criteria (a missing card of a player with substantial playing time the previous year), let's give David Clyde some respect and design a 1978 card for him.
As it turned out, he ended seeing the most playing time during any one season in his short career that year, but wasn't represented in that awesome '78 set since everyone, including Topps, pretty much cast him off for "dead" by then.
Sorry for the slightly grainy image. I stretched it as far as I could to use it for this design, but it was definitely the best image of him I could find in an Indians uniform.

Not really a "missing" card, but let's cut the guy a break.
Now, as for David Clyde:
A high school LEGEND out of Houston, Texas in the early 1970's, Clyde was the #1 pick overall in the 1973 baseball draft by the Texas Rangers after dominating the opposition.
During his senior year at Westchester High School, Clyde had an incredible record of 18–0, giving up only three earned runs in 148 innings pitched, while pitching five no-hitters and setting 14 national high school records.
Now, since the Rangers had the first pick in the draft, it was a match made in heaven, being able to draft THE top pitching prospect in the country, who just happened to be a "hometown" boy from Texas.
Clyde was garnering all sorts of media attention while mowing down high school opponents, and the Rangers, who were suffering BIG TIME as far as fan attendance was concerned, figured he'd be a fantastic draw, helping to "save" the organization.
After being selected first as expected, he was given a then record $125,000 signing bonus, as well as a free college education. The sky, it seemed, was the limit for the fire-balling young stud.
Sadly, this wasn't what the future held, as Rangers' management grossly mishandled the young player and pretty much destroyed his career before he even hit 20 years of age.
In one of the most awful cases of player abuse, Texas decided to have Clyde start his first Major League game literally days after graduating high school! Twenty days to be exact!
The thought process was to have Clyde start two games at the Major League level, THEN send him down to the Minors to get seasoned like any other young draftee.
Only problem was that Texas was so desperate for fans boosting attendance figures, that after seeing 35,000+ fans show up for Clyde's starts, the Rangers scrapped their initial plans and ended up having him start 18 games straight out of high school.
All told for 1973, David Clyde appeared in 18 Major League games, throwing 93.1 innings as an 18-year old, sporting a 4-8 record with a 5.01 E.R.A.
1974 started out well for Clyde, going 3-0, but after some organizational in-fighting over how to handle him, he sat on the bench for a while before getting thrown into the rotation, getting 21 starts and 117 innings with four complete games. He finished the year with nine straight losses and a 3-9 record with a 4.38 E.R.A.
Turns out this was a sad omen of things to come.
After one start in 1975, just after his 20th birthday, Clyde injured his arm and was sent down to the minors, where he remained the rest of the year.
Arm surgery followed in 1976 and after some unspectacular minor league numbers in 1977, Texas lost faith in Clyde so quickly that they ended up trading him to the Indians.
He was never able to recover, and after his 1978 season where he managed to throw 153 innings and go 8-11, his career was essentially done, returning for only nine games the following year for his last hurrah in the big leagues.
All of this BEFORE his 25th birthday.
It's definitely interesting to read up on Clyde's experience in the Majors, and it's all readily available on-line. Totally worth it to see how managerial greed ruined what could have been a kid's great career.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


So I wonder: how does a guy get a Topps baseball card THREE YEARS after last appearing in a Major League game?
I came across Bill Dillman's card (#386) from the 1970 Topps set and took a look at his stats. Well what do ya' know, I was looking at a player who last appeared in a big league game in 1967 with the Baltimore Orioles!
Now how does THIS happen?!
On top of all of this, what we have here with this card is a guy who's in a Baltimore Orioles jersey, depicted as a St. Louis Cardinal, and NEVER played for the organization in his career!
In 1970 Dillman actually suited up for the Montreal Expos after being traded by the Cards in May.
Just a complete snafu for a card if there ever was one!

Most likely Topps used a three year old image for this card.
Dillman's career was screwed from the get go, as he couldn't break into a SOLID Baltimore rotation in the late-60's.
With the Orioles sending out starters like Jim Palmer, Mark Cuellar, Dave McNally and Tom Phoebus every fourth day, he was relegated to the Minors until he was purchased by St. Louis in December of 1969.
However, by the time the following season started, he was shipped over to Montreal for Carroll Sembera, and Dillman ended the season appearing in 18 games, all in relief.
He finished the year with a 2-3 record and a 5.29 E.R.A., getting what was to be his last taste of the Majors.
He spent 1971 and 1972 in the Minors for the Expos and Mets, and hung them up thereafter.
A small interesting bit: on the back of his 1970 card it states that Dillman won his first four decisions in 1967 with Baltimore, which would mean he then went 3-12 for the rest of his Major League tenure.
Another funny tidbit: Dillman was also given a card for 1969 even though he never appeared in a game the previous year!
So that's two cards for a guy who didn't play in the Majors the two previous seasons.
It's really hard to figure out Topps' selection process for cards sometimes.
I'm sure there's a reason for it, but it mystifies me as to why they'd give players like this a slot in their set instead of "capping" off superstars after they retired or some Minor League superstar for each organization, or heck, even some spots for an interesting sub-set!
Go figure...

Monday, October 21, 2013


I have always been a bit bothered by Hank Aaron's 1970 Topps card (#500).
Now, I'm all for cool photos beyond the typical posed shots. But to have this photo of a somewhat "surprised" Aaron in the dugout, as if he's been busted signing a ball for someone he shouldn't be signing for makes no sense to me.
It's boring, odd, and uninspired actually. And the glare off of his face doesn't help anything either.
When you think about it, Aaron was really shafted with bad or boring cards during most of his career.
There really isn't a "great" or "awesome" Aaron baseball card except perhaps his 1955 card, or maybe his 1956, but they messed THAT one up by using a Willie Mays action shot for the background image!
Think about this, Topps even went ahead and flipped the poor guys 1957 photo for his card in that all-time classic set, AND they went ahead and used the same photo in both 1968 and 1969. Why? This is Hank Aaron for God's sake! 
It's a shame Aaron didn't have nicer cards in his career. Not that I think he cared at all. But for us collectors, well…
I already redesigned his 1973 card (ugly photo), as well as his 1975 card (terrible airbrush shot). So why not go ahead and "fix" his 1970 "candid camera" card?
Instead of trying to use some action shot that was atypical of Aaron cards in this era, or the type of photos used by Topps in the 1970 set, I just used a much nicer posed shot of him from around 1969.
Hope you like it.
As issued by Topps.

Let's use a more classic pose for "Hammerin' Hank".

Saturday, October 19, 2013


It's been a long while since I've had a "photo bombing" post, as it's getting tougher to spot the stars in the background of other cards.
Nevertheless, today we'll take a look at two managerial cards from the 1970 Topps set: Yankees manager Ralph Houk (#273) and Braves manager Lum Harris (#86).
First up, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that standing in the background behind the "Major" was none other than former Yankee star and coach in 1969, Elston Howard. He's on the right of the photo, wearing the #32 uniform number.
After a nice 14-year career as a player where he even garnered an M.V.P. Award in 1963 for the Yanks, he returned to the Bronx as a coach, a position he would hold for the next ten years until his untimely death from heart disease in 1980.
Four years later the Yankees would retire Howard's #32 in 1984, and I was actually at that ceremony as a young teenaged kid of 15.
We have the 1963 A.L. M.V.P. on the right in the background here...
Next up we have the Atlanta Braves manager, Lum Harris, and his card in the 1970 set. 
If you look to the right of the card, standing behind Harris at the batting cages is former M.V.P. And future Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda during his relatively short tenure in a Braves uniform (he'd only play for Atlanta between 1969 and 1972 with injuries claiming a chunk of the last two years).
However his two full seasons for the Braves were very good, averaging 28 homers and just under 100 runs batted in.
A nice little "bump" of Hall of Fame class for those of us who care about these little things…
...and the 1967 N.L. M.V.P. on the right in the background here.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Here's another topic I haven't posted to in a long while.
However, I'll admit it's not for lack of material to cover when it comes to airbrushing on baseball cards during the decade of the '70's.
A great example of this is today's card: 1974 (#624) Bob Miller of the New York Mets.
Now I don't know about you, but I've NEVER seen such a neon NY Mets cap in my life! Have you?!
Check out the airbrushing job on THIS cap! Awesome.
It seems the "artist" Topps employed also struggled a bit with the "NY" logo, and then decided that he wouldn't be bothered with trying to "fix" Miller's jersey.
But the jersey has me a bit confused, since Miller pitched with San Diego, Detroit AND the Mets in 1973, but it looks like the photo was from the year before, when Miller was hurling for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Look at the other players in the background. Those look like Pirates, not any of the other aforementioned teams. No? 
So if this is indeed the case, then what's with the red airbrush job on the collar stripe? Wasn't on the Pirates uniform to begin with, and it certainly has nothing to do with the Mets. Odd.

Looks like a Met player snuck into a Pirate convention.
On the subject of odd, Bob Miller had somewhat of an "odd" career. He managed to stick around for 17 years, but he bounced around a lot, and if I remember correctly, at one point he had the record for most Major League teams a player suited up for, which was 10: Cardinals, Mets (twice), Dodgers, Twins, Indians, White Sox, Cubs, Padres (twice), Pirates, and Tigers. Whew!
A good example of how "hot and cold" Miller's career was are his 1962 and 1963 seasons. 
As an "original Met" in the inaugural season of '62, Miller was clobbered to a tune of a 1 and 12 record with a 4.89 earned run average. But as the baseball gods would have it, he was sent to the Dodgers before the 1963 season, where he posted perhaps his finest big league campaign, going 10-8 with a nifty 2.89 E.R.A. over 42 games and 187 innings as part of a world champ squad who swept the Yanks in october of that year.
It was the only season where he posted double-digit wins in his long career.
After retiring in 1974 his career record ended up at 69-81 with a not-to-shabby 3.37 E.R.A. in 694 games, 99 of which were starts.
It's also interesting to note that he wasn't a lefty thrower, who seem to always find a place to continue a career as we've seen over the years.
Take a closer look at his career and you'll also see that in 1970, 1971 AND 1973 Miller pitched for THREE teams each year! Amazing! In 1972 he was mercifully given a full year with only one team, the Pirates.
At least Miller was a member of three different world champion teams: 1963 and 1965 Dodgers along with the 1971 Pirates. Not bad.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Today I want to post up a card design for a rookie card I WISH existed instead of his multiple player version that Topps issued: Mike Schmidt and his 1973 introduction to the world of sports cards.
First off, let's look at his rookie card as we all know it:

Not a "horrible" card by any means...

Now, I'll admit it's not the worst rookie card out there, especially with Ron Cey carrying some weight as well.
But really, what could be better than a dedicated rookie of the greatest third baseman the game has ever seen?
I found a nice image of Schmidt during his rookie year and used it for my imaginary "rookie" shown below. Hope you all like it...

...but THIS card would have been a classic "rookie" for Schmidt.

Not much to be said about Mike Schmidt that hasn't been said a million times before!
Growing up in the late-70's/early-80's, quite simply, he was THE third baseman in Major League baseball.
Three M.V.P.'s, 10 Gold Gloves, 12 All-Star games, and oh yeah...he hit 548 career homers and lead the National League EIGHT TIMES during his awesome eighteen-year career.
A no-brainer Hall of Famer whom was inducted on his first try in 1995. A "duh" if there ever was one.
"Schmitty" was the man!


Time for this week's set of trivia questions. Answers will be posted tomorrow down below:

1. What relief pitcher posted an amazing season in 1979 which saw the following numbers: 13-5 record with 29 saves, a 1.57 e.r.a. And 136 strikeouts in 143 innings?

2. Ironically enough, the only two players to hit over 40 homers in one season while failing to drive in 100+ runs were teammates and accomplished this feat in the same season. Who were they, and what year?

3. On a similar note: Hank Aaron was tied with another player with the lowest amount of runs batted in with anyone hitting 30+ homers in a season during the '70's, with 77. Who was the other "slugger"?

4. Who was the only catcher to post double digit numbers in doubles, triples and homers in the same season during the decade?

5. This pitcher had a respectable 14-13 record for the last place Mariners with a 3.77 E.R.A. and two shutouts in 1979. However the following year he ended the season with a 1-16 record with a 7.28 E.R.A. Who was it?


1. Jim Kern, Texas Rangers.

2. Hank Aaron and Davey Johnson of the Atlanta Braves in 1973. Aaron hit 40 homers with 96 R.B.I.'s while Johnson hit 43 homers with 99 R.B.I.'s.
3. Rick Monday, Chicago Cubs. 1977. He hit 32 home runs with his 77 runs batted in.
4. Darrell Porter, Kansas City Royals. 1979. He had 23 doubles, 10 triples and 20 home runs.

5. Mike Parrot.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


So, let's take a gander at card #70 of the 1971 Topps set and see what "Hall of Fame" galore looks like!
I love this card: Bob Gibson, Gaylord Perry and Fergie Jenkins, three POWERHOUSE pitchers during the 1970's, all represented on the same piece of beautiful cardboard.
What I also love about this card is the fact that the order you see here is the exact order of the N.L. Cy Young voting for 1970. Bob Gibson took home his second such award (1968 being his other), while Gaylord Perry came in second, having to wait until the 1972 season with Cleveland to land HIS first, and Jenkins only had to wait one more year, as he took home his only Cy Young in 1971.
First, second and third in wins, first, second and third in Cy Young voting.
We are looking at 5 Cy Young awards among the three, as well as an M.V.P. (Gibson in 1968), AND eight top-5 Cy Young finishes throughout their careers.
Oh, and let me not forget that among these three, we have 849 wins, 9843 strikeouts, 158 shutouts and 1882 games spread out over 58 Major League seasons!
It's also fitting that while Gibson was inducted into the Hall in 1981, Perry and Jenkins found themselves inducted together in 1991. Perfect!
I have always found the 1971 leader cards as the nicest for the decade. The black border made the various team uniform colors POP off the card more than any other year.
Just nice cards FULL of star power to have in your collection, especially for younger collectors who can't afford the "regular" issues of each player.

Add caption

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Today I'm spotlighting a card depicting a player that appeared in only a few games in his Major League career.
By the time this card (#623) hit the shelves in 1976, Bob Allietta was already out of the Majors for good.
As I've stated before I've always been a sucker for cards that showed a player who came and went before we even knew it, so allow me to profile guys like this from time to time.
Allietta was drafted as the seventh pick overall in the January 1971 draft by the California Angels as a catcher out of High School.
After working his way up the Minor League system, he finally got the call to the Majors in 1975 and saw action in 21 games, good for 45 at-bats and a .178 batting average.
Sadly for him, he was on the disabled list for about a month and a half smack in the middle of the season, limiting his playing time.
As (bad) luck would have it, those 21 games would end up being all the time he would see in the "bigs", and he would bounce around the Minors for five teams through the 1980 season.
Ironically enough, his last two seasons in the Minors, playing for Tacoma of the Pacific League (the Indians' Triple-A team), he had his two best professional seasons at the plate, hitting .301 in 1979 and .304 in 1980.
But as stated earlier, after the 1980 season, at the ripe old age of 28, his career was over.
Professional sports are a BITCH of a mistress as we all know...
Well at least he got a card in my all-time favorite set! And it's not a bad looking card at that!

21 games and this nice card for Allietta and the Majors.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Today I want to cap off the career of Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, the "Baby Bull".
His last "official" card has him in a Boston Red Sox uniform in the 1974 set (#83). However by the time the season opened up Cepeda was released and didn't sign with another team until August, when he hooked up with Kansas City.
He only appeared in 33 games for the Royals, hitting .215 with a homer and 18 runs batted in before finally retiring for good. So I went and designed a "final" card for him in a Royals uniform, "photoshopped" from a shot of him in '73 with Boston.
Would have been nice to have a card for Cepeda in that awesome 1975 set (I'm a sucker for the 1975 & 76 sets)!
Anyway, hope you enjoy it.

One last card for the "Baby Bull".

While Cepeda's career was productive enough to get into Cooperstown, it's well known that if not for his bad knees, his final statistics could have been mind blowing.
Nevertheless, by the time he retired, he posted final numbers of: 379 homers, 1365 runs batted in, 2351 hits and a .297 average, with a Rookie of the Year (1958) and M.V.P. award (1967) thrown in.
It took a little while, but he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 after being selected by the Veteran's Committee.
What a power trio San Francisco had in Cepeda, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey! Power to the ultimate degree!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


It's been a long while since I posted one of these.
Basically, it was slowly becoming a thread based around the 1973 set since it contained so many cards with odd or just plain "wrong" pictures used.
Well, today will be nothing different, thank you very much.
Let's take a look at the 1973 Topps Tito Fuentes card (#236) shall we?
I do like the fact that it's a horizontal action shot. But jeez, why the image of ass-plant on the infielder who seems to be begging for help from his teammates who are running in to rescue him?
Kind of hilarious actually. But really? That was the best Topps could do?
And by now I'm sure a lot of you know how I feel about random players or umpires in the forefront of an image, like the Giant player on the left. I can't stand stuff like that! Why not just crop him out?
It looks like the game is in San Francisco against the Houston Astros, and if I'm not mistaken that's Cesar Cedeno coming in from center field (more on him in the future).
The shortstop who's looking down at the spectacle seems to be Roger Metzger, and I'm really only assuming that the poor schlep getting an intimate view of Fuentes is second baseman Tommy Helms.
Ugh, poor second baseman. Those Topps people just HAD to have a wicked sense of humor back then.

"So, can I get your number?"
On a side note: I was always interested in Fuentes as a kid because I could never figure out (before the days of the internet) why a guy who had pretty much an all-star season in 1977 seemed to disappear immediately.
While playing for the Detroit Tigers that season, Fuentes had arguably his best year in the Majors, hitting .309 with 190 hits and 10 triples with 83 runs scored.
As a kid who worshiped stats back then, you notice that nice line on the back of his 1978 card (You also couldn't help but notice his hand-written "Tito" headband around his cap, which also makes an appearance on his 1976 card as well).
But then he just vanished, and back then you didn't have all the access to information we do now, so you couldn't figure out why (football was the WORST for this! Guys came and went like nobady's business).
Anyway, it wasn't until years later that I learned Detroit let Fuentes go because they had an up-and-coming star on their hands in Lou Whitaker, who would eventually be the Rookie of the Year in 1978, and team up with another rookie, Alan Trammell to play 19 straight seasons together, until 1995.
It seems Fuentes couldn't hang on with anyone else and was out of the game after 13 games with the Oakland A's in 1978.
Pretty dramatic end to a decent 13 year career that was reasonable productive right until the end.
Fuentes did make a career for himself in the game after his playing days were over, hooking up with the Giants as their first radio announcer for their Spanish-speaking broadcasts beginning in 1981.
Eventually he was even elected into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum in 2002 in San Francisco.
Go Tito...

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Anyone else out there also hate those "skyward" gazes that appear from time to time on Topps baseball cards?
Ugh. I always found them annoying. Where were they looking?
I wonder if the players were actually directed to look up and far away by the photographer as if something SO meaningful caught their attention. But why? It was so boring and lame in my opinion.
Carl Yastrzemski's 1979 Topps card (#320) definitely falls into this category.
Why use an image like this? Why not wait about an hour and catch him up at the plate in full glory?
Well allow me to do exactly that.
I've taken a nice photograph of Yaz at the plate right around 1979 and used it for my redesign of his otherwise boring card from that year.
Much more colorful, interesting and appropriate for a legend like Yastrzemski, don't you think?
As you can see from the original issued card, Yaz is in Yankee Stadium, probably looking at some crazy stuff going on in the upper deck. Lord knows there was never a game that didn't have SOME nonsense going on up there...(and I "may" have been responsible for some of it! just sayin'...)
By 1979 Yastrzemski was in the twilight of his amazing career, turning 40 in August and playing through to 1983, a nice 23 year career ALL in the friendly confines of Fenway Park while playing for the Red Sox.
What more can you say for the guy but: 3000+ hits, 450+ homers, 1800+ runs batted in AND runs scored, and almost 650 doubles in 3300+ games played.
Oh, maybe we can also add that he participated in 18 All-Star games, collected seven Gold Gloves, and won the Triple Crown in 1967 while pretty much single handedly carrying the Red Sox on his back the last few weeks of the season to a World Series birth before running into Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The man was a machine, plain and simple, and needless to say he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1989.

Enough with the skyward gazes already...

A nice action photo for my redesign.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Just a few years after his amazing 1970 season which saw him lead the National League in batting as well as starting alongside Hank Aaron and Willie Mays in the outfield at the All-Star game, Rico Carty's career was in flux, seeing him suit up for three different teams during the 1973 season.
It all started during the Winter of 1970-71 while playing in the Dominican Republic, when Carty seriously injured his knee and saw him go from M.V.P. candidate to missing the entire 1971 season.
He came back in 1972 but only appeared in 86 games, batting .277 with six home runs and 29 runs batted in for the Braves.
During that off-season Atlanta traded Carty to the Rangers for pitcher Jim Panther, but the change of scenery didn't help him much as he hit .232 in 86 games before the Chicago Cubs purchased him from Texas on August 13th.
He only managed to get into 22 games for the North Siders, batting .214 before being sold to the Oakland A's about a month later.
His time in Oakland was minimum, as he appeared in only seven games, going 2 for 8 in a designated hitter role for the eventual World Champs.
However, all told for 1973, Carty DID get into 115 games, good for 384 at-bats. Yet when 1974 rolled around, Topps didn't have a card for him in their set.
Granted Carty was released by Oakland in December of '73, but you think there'd be a card for a guy who played a relatively full season AND was a star of some magnitude not too many years earlier.
After signing on with Cordoba in the Mexican League for the beginning of 1974, he was back in the Majors by August, signing on with Cleveland which rejuvenated his career.
As everyone saw immediately, Rico was not done as a Major League player by a long shot, coming back to post some solid years before finally retiring after the 1979 season.
As a matter of fact, in his second to last season in 1978, at the age of 38, he split the year between the Blue Jays and the A's, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 99 runs with a .282 average as a D.H.
Not too shabby a showing for a guy that was supposedly done as a professional four years earlier.
By the time he was done a year later, Carty ended his career with a batting average just under .300 at .299, with over 200 homers for six teams: the Braves, Rangers, A's (two stints), Cubs, Indians and Blue Jays.
Anyway, here's a "missing" 1974 card for Carty, showing him as an Oakland A's player since Topps would never have had him as an Indian.

Depicting Rico's first, short-lived stint with the A's.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Today I want to pay my respects to a legend that inexplicably has not been inducted in the baseball Hall of Fame: Gil Hodges.
Excelling on the field for the Dodgers as well as in the dugout for the Mets, Hodges became a legend in the New York area, and his name still has recognition around here thanks to the top-notch little league that kids flock to every year (of which I also took part in as a kid 30-35 years ago).
After his Hall-worthy playing career Hodges was the first successful manager of the New York Mets, and was depicted on Topps cards in the late-60's and early-70's.
But sadly, by the time late series packs of 1972 cards were finding their way into neighborhood candy stores, Hodges passed away just before the 1972 season of a sudden heart attack at a young 47 years of age, leaving us with yet another card becoming a sort of "memorial" to an already deceased baseball figure.
Needless to say there was nothing Topps could do to pull his card and swap it with one showing his unexpected replacement, Yogi Berra.
So instead, card #465 of the 1972 set had Hodges smiling near the batting cages at Shea Stadium during B.P. in 1971. A nice "final" card to say the least.
As with other subjects in this thread, I've added a "memorial" banner running across the bottom of the card.

April 4, 1924 - April 2, 1972.
Now allow my little rant here and let's look at Gil Hodges' career a bit to see how mystifying it is that Cooperstown hasn't deemed him worthy of induction.
As a player, Hodges came up with the Dodgers for good in 1947 after a few years in the military, just in time to become a cog on the powerhouse Brooklyn teams throughout the 1950's.
Playing alongside Hall of Famers Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, Hodges more than held his own, putting up power numbers that any team in the league would have been ecstatic with.
Here's a guy that manned first base while pounding 370 career homers, six times slamming 30 or more in a season.
He also produced seven consecutive seasons of 100 or more runs batted in (1949-1955), and was recognized with nine years of M.V.P. consideration when voting came around.
On the defensive side of things he was no slouch either, leading the league in multiple categories multiple times: three fielding titles, three seasons leading the N.L. in putouts, three times leading in assists and four seasons leading the league in turning double plays.
This was a true All-Star first baseman year in and year out!
Immediately after his playing days were over in 1963, Hodges was hired to manage the Washington Senators and struggled with a bad team, finishing in the American League second division every year between 1963 and 1967.
However from his first full season in 1964 to his last, the team saw a 15 game improvement, ending that campaign with a 76-85 record, good for sixth in the A.L.
The following season Hodges found himself back in New York, managing the Mets out in Queens.
After a ninth place finish his first year there (just one game above the last place Houston Astros), Hodges and the Mets did the unthinkable in 1969.
Lead by a young corps of talented guns like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and a yet "unknown" Nolan Ryan, they managed a historic 27-game turnaround, good for first place in the new N.L. East with a record of 100-62.
Once into the postseason, they stunned the baseball world by sweeping the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs, then defeating the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in the World Series four games to one, claiming about as unexpected a championship as anybody could have dreamed of.
This is a guy who proved himself time and again, both as a star player and world champ manager, yet we see others like Jesse Haines, Travis Jackson or even contemporaries like Bill Mazeroski or teammate Reese get inducted in the Hall instead of him.
I'd love to see the day when Major League Baseball makes this right and placed Gil Hodges in Cooperstown where he deserves to be.
My little rant for today...


Time for this week's set of trivia questions. Answers will be posted tomorrow down below:

1. There was only one pitcher in the decade of the '70's to strike out 200+ batters in a season without winning 10 or more games. Who was he?

2. What pitcher threw the fewest innings in a 20-win season during the decade?

3. Who sported the highest E.R.A. during a 20-win season in the 1970's?

4. What Hall of Fame pitcher gained an All-Star game win two years in a row?

5. Which two All-Star games were the only ones during the decade where Hall of Fame pitchers were the winner and loser?


1. Bob Johnson, Kansas City Royals: 1970. He went 8-13 with 206 strike outs.

2. Bob Forsch, St. Louis Cardinals. In 1977 he went 20-7 with 217.1 innings pitched.
3. Jim Merritt, Cincinnati Reds. He went 20-12 with a 4.08 E.R.A.
4. Bruce Sutter, Chicago Cubs. He won in 1978 and 1979 for the National League.

5. 1977 and 1979. In 1977 Don Sutton got the win with Jim Palmer getting the loss; in 1979 Bruce Sutter got the win while Rich Gossage took the loss.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Let's give another Hall of Famer a "proper" rookie card, as opposed to some lame multi-player card that was actually issued by Topps.
Today's player, Gary Carter, was a former teammate of my first subject in this thread (Andre Dawson), part of that young talented Montreal Expos roster in the late-70's/early-80's.
In 1975 Carter made his first card appearance on the multi-player card you see below (#620).
It was an awesome set with some fantastic rookies (Brett, Yount, Lynn, Hernandez) and all-time legends winding down their careers (Aaron, B. Williams, Ron Santo, F. Robinson), so really I'm not trying to complain about it here.
However as I stated with the first post on this thread, I was never a fan of these multi-player rookie cards. Looking back on them now it's incredible to see how many of the players depicted never even made it up to the Majors in the future. Wasted space in my eyes (the 1977 set was particularly brutal in this respect).
Sadly Gary Carter was picked by Topps to be on one of these cards, so we also have the "un"legendary Dan Meyer, Marc Hill and Leon Roberts taking up space on what should have been a classic card of the best catcher in the 1980's and eventual Hall of Famer.
But today, allow me to imagine what a "dedicated" rookie card of Gary Carter in 1975 could have looked like had Topps issued one.
Instead of using one of those "Gary Carter-like" smiling poses we're used to, I found a slightly more serious shot of him posing at-bat. Just seemed nice and different for a change.

Carter's first appearance on a card, in 1975 as issued by Topps.

My design for "The Kid" in all his youthful glory on a dedicated card.

I remember when Gary Carter really took over the "best catcher" tag from Johnny Bench around 1981. It was like he was suddenly everywhere with that smile of his!
Sure you still had Carlton Fisk producing in the American League, but Carter really took over as the the top backstop and held onto that title for pretty much the rest of the decade.
This was a guy who had nine seasons of 20+ homers and four 100+ R.B.I. seasons as a catcher. Not too shabby!
After finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1975, Carter also went on to have 11 All-Star game nods, five Silver Slugger awards, three Gold Gloves and seven seasons where he garnered M.V.P. votes, finishing in the Top-10 four times.
By the time he retired after the 1992 season, he finished with 2092 hits, 324 home runs and 1225 runs batted in.
Needless to say Cooperstown came calling, and in 2003 he easily got voted in after being selected on 387 of 496 ballots, securing his place in baseball history forever.
However, sadly years later Carter was diagnosed with brain cancer, and despite undergoing aggressive treatment he succumbed to the disease about nine months later in February of 2012.
A tragic and shocking loss for the baseball world to say the least.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on a 1977 Topps Dave Kingman card (#500). I thought it was "majestic"! 
Seriously! I ripped open a wax pack back in 1977 at the age of eight, flipped through the cards looking for any Yankee players, and THIS beauty caught my eye.
Just look at it: Kingman following the flight of what seems to be one of his many BOMBS, with that awesome blue "N.L. All-Stars" banner running across the bottom.
What made it all work for me was the fact that the "Mets" name across the top, Kingman's uniform, and the All-Star banner all matched perfectly, making for an esthetically flawless card in my book.
Much like the 1977 Rusty Staub card, which I profiled on this blog some time ago, I am always a sucker for a card where the design AND photo are color coordinated! Some 1976 A's and Reds cards come to mind as well.
Take a look at Kingman's card:

"Kong" following one of his moon shots.
Kingman was such a freakin' enigma when he played. While he was bashing homers no matter where he went, he often came across as a bit "flighty" or "distant" to teammates and the press alike, leading him to be less than popular in his 16 year career.
On top of his personality, Kingman personified that "all or nothing" player, often hitting 30+ homers with less than favorable batting averages, piling up strikeouts like few others in the league.
Take his 1982 season as an example. Kingman lead the N.L. In homers with 37, yet managed to eke out a .204 batting average with a league leading 156 strikeouts.
Adding to the enigmatic legend, in 1986 Kingman hit 35 home runs for the Oakland A's, yet never returned to the Major Leagues, thus setting a record that still stands today for homers in a final season of a career.
As a matter of fact, in his three years playing for Oakland, the LAST three years of his career, Kingman smashed 35, 30 and 35 home runs. 100 home runs for a guy who hung them up soon afterwards without warning.
By the time he was done both frustrating and exciting fans, he belted a very respectable 442 homers for the Giants, Mets, Yankees, Angels, Padres, Cubs, and A's.
What's amazing about that home run number was that he hit those 442 homers in just 6677 at-bats! Consider that Hank Aaron had over 12000 at-bats and you get the sense of Kingman's homer "ratio" (a favorite Oscar Gamble quip). Amazing. But at the same time, in those 6677 at-bats he also whiffed 1816 times! 
Again, it was all-or-nothing with "Kong", but it was a fun ride watching him play.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Now HERE is one of the best leader cards of the 1970's.
Four players pictured, ALL four Hall of Famers. It doesn't get any better than that.
Card #69 in Topps 1970 set pictures the National leagues biggest winners from 1969, and all four are big-time names: Tom Seaver, Phil Niekro, Fergie Jenkins and Juan Marichal.
Where do you even begin with these guys?
We're looking at 1156 combined big league wins, 12477 strikeouts, and 79 years of Major League service!
As far as awards go, Seaver bagged three Cy Youngs (1969, 1973 & 1975), while Jenkins won one in 1971. However among the four pitchers, there were NINE top-3 finishes as well as ELEVEN top-10 finishes for M.V.P.'s! Just awesome.
In the end, Seaver was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992, Niekro in 1997, Jenkins in 1991 and Marichal in 1983.
Star power to the highest degree to say the very least!

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Today's "do-over" is Hoyt Wilhelm's 1970 Topps card (#17).
As you can see from the original issued card below, Topps did an airbrush job on him with a blotchy black patch covering the logo on his cap.
The thing is, I swear it seems that Topps went and used an image of him in a Chicago White Sox uniform.
If so, that means they used an older image since Wilhelm split the 1969 season with the Angels and Braves.
It certainly looks like a late '60's White Sox jersey he has on doesn't it?
Anyway, since I've profiled Wilhelm before I won't go too much into his career here. However it is interesting to note that by 1970 Wilhelm was 47 freakin' years old already! And he still had a couple of years left in that arm of his before he called it quits after the 1972 season. Just amazing...
I found a nice image of "Old Sarge" wearing an Atlanta Braves uniform, and I feel that it makes for a nice card. Hope you all think so as well.

Airbrushed issued card by Topps.

A better image in an Atlanta Braves uniform.

Friday, October 4, 2013


The 1971 Topps Lindy McDaniel (#303) card has always been another of my favorites from the set.
For me, it always seemed like the perfect "classic" baseball photograph with McDaniel on the mound at the "old-OLDER" Yankee Stadium in 1970.
Besides the fact that the black-bordered 1971 set always looks nice, the photo is perfectly cropped to show the in-game action and the vastness of the stadium behind him.
There were a few Yankee players that were given an awesome card in this set. Earlier on this blog I profiled the Ron Woods and Thurman Munson cards, and in the future I plan on posting on the Roy White issue as well.
Just a nice card that reflects the era it was snapped in very well.
As for McDaniel, he had a nice 21 year career in the big leagues, proving himself mainly as a reliever. He lead the league in saves three times and finished with 172 in his career.
1970 was arguably his finest year in the Majors, as he appeared in 62 games for the Yankees, with a 9-5 record and 29 saves to go along with a nifty 2.01 E.R.A.
At the time of his retirement after the 1975 season, he was second all-time (behind Hoyt Wilhelm) in game appearances by a pitcher with 987.

About as "classic" a photo as you can get...

Thursday, October 3, 2013


What an odd topic Rickey Clark was as far as baseball cards go.
We've all seen Topps make strange choices when it came to selecting players to depict on their yearly sets, but Clark is up there when it comes to "why?", multiple times!
To start with, take his 1970 card (#586): considering that in 1969 Clark appeared in only six games for 9.2 innings TOTAL, going 0-0 with a 5.59 E.RA., you can't help but wonder why Topps put him in their set the following year.
But it gets better!
Clark didn't even appear in a big league game in 1970, toiling in the Angels' minor leagues all year, yet Topps went ahead and gave him another card in their 1971 set (#697).
No clue as to why. It's not like Clark tore up the Minor Leagues or anything. He went 6-10 with a 4.99 E.R.A. for both the Detroit and California Minor League system. Yet once again kids were staring down at a "Rickey Clark" card the following year.
Then in 1972 Topps went ahead and gave him yet ANOTHER card (#462), even though he only appeared in 11 games for 44 innings in 1971.
So if you add it up, Rickey Clark was issued three straight cards for only 17 games and 53.2 innings of work in the big leagues!
Pretty amazing when you think about it. Heck, guys like Luis Tiant weren't even given a card during some of those years, yet this guy was given a slot each and every time.
Actually Clark started out in the Majors on the right foot and had a really good rookie year in 1967, going 12-11 with a 2.59 E.R.A. with a shutout over 174 innings.
But in 1968 he had a COMPLETE change of fortune, going 1-11 with a 3.53 E.R.A. over 94 innings, with his luck getting even worse the rest of his career.
From 1968 through 1972, his final year in the Majors, Clark posted a record of 7-21 over 63 games, before finally hanging them up after the 1973 season which he spent in the Minors for the Philadelphia Phillies Triple-AAA team in Eugene, Oregon.
Oh, and yes, Clark did indeed have a card in the 1973 set as well, but at least he broke 100 innings the year before (109 to be exact). It's just that he never appeared in a game in the Majors ever again.
Strange indeed.

A card for 9.2 innings of total work the previous year.

A card for ZERO innings of Major League work the previous year!

Hold on now! This time he threw 44 innings. Gotta have a card now, right?!


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