Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Maybe because it kind of reminds me of my all-time favorite card, the 1976 Topps Johnny Bench card, but I have always loved the 1978 Topps card of Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg (#492).
Take a look:

Dig the blurred faces in the crowd...

Just a beautiful in-game shot of Sundberg at the plate, with (for once!) an unidentified player in the foreground that actually works! It frames the photo just right, with Sundberg looking in the direction of the camera, intense as can be!
Great card!
Sundberg had a very good 16-year career playing for the Rangers, Brewers, Royals and Cubs between 1974 and 1989.
From the late-70's to the early 80's he was the top defensive catcher in the American League, taking home the Gold Glove six straight years between 1976-1981, and received some M.V.P. consideration in 1977 and 1978.
He retired from the game after the 1989 season, with the second most games caught (behind Bob Boone) in Major League history at that time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Being that Mike Schmidt was the first player in 15 years to blast four homers in a single-game, you would think Topps would have had some sort of highlight card for him in the 1977 set.
Turns out Schmidt's power display would be the only such game of the entire decade.
Not until Bob Horner matched this feat in 1986 would we even see a four-homer game again.
So I went ahead and made a highlight card for Schmidt to celebrate his epic day at the plate, take a look:

I basically took the "Record Breaker" design from the 1977 set and turned it into a 
"Highlight" card, since Schmidt didn't actually break any records here.
The game took place at Wrigley Field on April 17th, 1976, and Schmidt helped bring the Phillies back from an 11-run deficit when they beat the Cubs 18-16 in 10 innings.
He actually hit the homers in four straight at-bats, making him the first to do it since Bobby Lowe in 1894!
For the game Schmidt's line read 5 for 6 with eight runs batted in and four runs scored. Monster game to say the least!
Also of note is that he hit three of his homers off the Reuschel brothers: two off Rick and one off of Paul (his other homer of the game was off Mike Garman).

Monday, April 28, 2014


We're up to 1965 on my Cy Young sub-set for the 1975 set, and once again we are visited by Mr. Sandy Koufax, who would have won his third such award in a row had there been voting for both leagues back then.
Koufax is joined by Minnesota Twins pitcher Jim "Mudcat" Grant, who was selected by the people at SABR as the probable winner in the American League.
Take a look at my card design first:

For Koufax it was business as usual, as he posted another monster season on the hill, going 26-8 with a 2.04 earned run average and a then Major League record 382 strikeouts.
He also threw eight shutouts among his league-leading 27 complete games, and threw in two saves for good measure.
He also finished second behind Willie Mays for the National league Most Valuable Player award, receiving six first-place votes to Mays' nine.
After 30 some-odd years of looking at his stats I'm still blown away by them! 
What a freaking run of domination.
Over in the American League, Jim Grant came out of nowhere to post what is easily his best year as a Major League pitcher, going 21-7 with a 3.30 E.R.A., a league-leading six shutouts and 142 strikeouts.
Up until the 1965 season, Grant's top win total his previous seven seasons in the bigs was 15 in 1961 for the Cleveland Indians.
For HIS efforts in 1965 he finished sixth in M.V.P. voting, behind teammate Zoilo Versalles in Minnesota's improbable run to the World Series, where they lost to, (who else?), Sandy Koufax and his Los Angeles Dodgers.
Next up, 1966, where the Twins and Dodgers are represented once again, this time with Koufax being joined by Twins' pitcher Jim Kaat.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I always felt that the 1974 and 1976 cards of Oakland A's players were so beautifully colorful.
A perfect marriage between the card design and the Oakland uniforms made the complete made the composition of so many of them perfect.
Here's one of them, the 1974 Ken Holtzman card (#180):

Doesn't it always look like the most sunny day in world history with these Oakland cards?!
Look at the colors flying off of there! Beautiful…
And if I'm not mistaken, that should be none other than Reggie Jackson out there in the outfield. I'm not 100%, but I think I even read that somewhere.
Look at some of the other Oakland cards from the set that year: Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Darrell Knowles, Paul Lindblad and Jim Hunter.
Just awesome in-game action shots with green and yellow all over the place!
Very nice stuff. I've always been a sucker for cards that have design and photo blended together so perfectly!
Ken Holtzman was definitely a somewhat underrated starter from the 1970's, as he posted a decent career spanning 15 years, pitching for no less than five championship teams (1972-74 A's and 1977-78 Yankees).
Six times he won 17 or more games in a season, topping out with 21 wins in 1973 for Oakland.
He also had a 9-0 season with the Chicago Cubs in 1967, a year which had him serving in the National Guard, which only allowed him to play on weekends.
He also threw two no-hitters in his career, both while pitching for the Cubs.
In 1969 he no-hit the Atlanta Braves, eventual Western Division champs, and two years later at Riverfront Stadium, the guy threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds, defending National League champs! 
All told he ended up with a 174-150 record to go along with a 3.49 E.R.A. and 1601 K's.
A bit of a side-note on Holtzman: oddly enough he appears as a Sporting News All-Star selection in the 1968 Topps set, even though he wasn't even named to the National league team in 1967.
Seems the Sporting News selected him based on his 9-0 record, even though he only managed the twelve starts I mentioned earlier for the entire year.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Imagine being a nine-year veteran of the Major Leagues, you're putting together a decent career, then, after topping out at 18 home runs for your high mark, you EXPLODE for 43 dingers at the age of 30, setting the mark for your position in baseball history.
You'd think you're in store for a nice baseball card the following year (if you cared for such things, of which I DO).
Well take a look at Davey Johnson's 1974 card and see what the fine people at Topps thought would be a great photo to commemorate such an offensive eruption:

Notice the ball behind Johnson's hip...

Seriously!? The guy comes out of nowhere to bash 40+ homers, sets the record for second basemen, and you use a photo of him whiffing at a pitch, with the ball behind him after a mighty swing?
I can't even tell if this was a full-on "swing-and-a-miss" or a foul-tip.
Regardless, Topps has a cold heart my friends.
You have to wonder if they were having a bit of fun at Johnson's expense here.
It's like the "Agony of Defeat" in baseball card form!
Reminds me of the 1973 Dick Green card, which shows him muffing a ball in the field.
Hilarious! But not for the players I'm sure…

Friday, April 25, 2014


Growing up as a baseball fanatic when I did, I was always amazed at the ONE pitcher who appeared in over 1000 games at the time: legendary veteran of veteran's Hoyt Wilhelm.
Until Kent Tekulve came along in the mid-80's and finally joined the knuckle-baller, Wilhelm was the only guy atop that mountain.
And any time you can say that as far as Major League history goes for something "positive", that means something to me as a lifelong baseball geek!
On May 10th of 1970, Wilhelm took the mound for the Braves against the Cardinals, opening the door for future relievers and veterans such as Tekulve, Goose Gossage, Mariano Rivera, and the current all-time appearances leader Jesse Orosco to join him in this select company.
To celebrate this milestone in baseball history, allow me to present my design for a "highlight" card that would have been nice to see in the 1971 set:

Can you imagine how many MORE games Wilhelm could have appeared in had he not made his Major League debut at the ripe "old" age of 29 for the New York Giants in 1952!?
All told, by the time he retired after the 1972 season he made 1070 appearances, now good for 6th place all-time.
The man was amazing. The only two seasons he pitched enough innings to qualify for an E.R.A. title, he won it both times!
For the DECADE of the 1960's, his earned run average was 2.18, six times posting an E.R.A. under 2.00!
Just awesome…

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Hey everyone…
It's trivia time again.
This week I'll follow last week's theme and ask for the top performers of the decade, but from the pitching side of things.
Call it laziness or poor searching skills, but I'm having a heck of a time finding "Top-3's" for losses…so forgive me on that one.
Answers will be posted tomorrow…
1. What pitchers posted the top-3 wins totals during the 1970's?

2. Who are the top-3 strikeout pitchers during the decade?

3. Who are the top-3 E.R.A. men of the 1970's?

4. What three pitchers posted the most shutouts during the 1970's?

5. What pitcher suffered the most losses during the decade?


1.  Jim Palmer, 186 wins; Gaylord Perry, 184; and a three way tie for third: Steve Carlton/Tom Seaver and Fergie Jenkins with 178.

2. Nolan Ryan, 2678 K's; Tom Seaver, 2304; Steve Carlton, 2097.
3. Jim Palmer, 2.58; Tom Seaver, 2.60; Bert Blyleven, 2.88.
4. Jim Palmer, 44; Nolan Ryan, 42; Tom Seaver, 40.

5. Phil Niekro, 151 losses between 1970-79.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Just as I was dreaming when I designed a 1978 multi-player rookie card featuring Ozzie Smith, Paul Molitor, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, I know I'm stretching it when I designed a 1979 Topps card for Rickey Henderson, who was still a half a season away from any Major League action when the card would have come out.
But take a look at my card design anyway…

But considering what Henderson was doing in the Oakland minor league system those day, it was only a matter of time before he was promoted and tearing up the base-paths in the Major Leagues.
Henderson was on fire in 1977 and 1978 playing for Modesto and Jersey City.
In '77 with Modesto, all he did was hit .345 with 120 runs scored and 95 stolen bases to go along with a sick .465 on-base-percentage.
The following year, getting promoted to Double-A ball, Henderson kept on hitting, this time to the tune of .310 with 81 runs scored and 81 steals.
I guess the thing to realistically do was design an Oakland A's prospects card with Henderson as one of the three players depicted in BLAZING black and white. (ugh)
However, any of you who have been following this blog know just how much I hate those cards! 
So here you go, a card that would have made that '79 set so much better.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Here's a highlight from the 1970's that always wowed me as a kid: the 1977 Dodgers with FOUR players hitting 30 or more home runs in the same season.
Not until these four sluggers achieved this was it ever accomplished in Major League history.
Call me nuts, but this feat deserved a card in the mighty 1978 set in my book.
Think of all the classic slugging teams throughout history up until that point ('27 Yanks, '61 Yanks, '56 Reds, '64 Twins), and this team was the first to do it.
So take a look at the card design I came up with:

Steve Garvey, Reggie Smith, Dusty Baker and Ron Cey.
Four "thumpers" who powered the Dodgers into the World Series against the Yankees by combining for 125 homers and 398 runs batted in all on their own!
Not until the home run days of the late 1990's/early 00's did another team also match the 1977 Dodgers.
In 1995 the Rockies accomplished this feat in the first of what would be FOUR TIMES in the next five years, with the 1997 Dodgers also having four players attain those lofty numbers.
Since then, a handful of other teams have reached the now watered-down milestone in team-power, but when the 1977 Dodgers did it, it was big stuff.
Big enough for the Los Angeles team to even feature a picture of the four sluggers under the L.A. Scoreboard with "30" emblazoned in lights. (I couldn't find a decent enough sized file for the cover shot since it was a natural for a card design):

You think Topps could have found a little room to fit a card like this in their set instead of an Oscar Zamora or Dennis Blair! (No offense to those ex-players).
Hope some of you out there are enjoying these "highlight" cards.
I'm having a blast designing them and revisiting these high-points of my baseball youth.
More to come!
So keep an eye out here...

Monday, April 21, 2014


As I mentioned a while back with my post showing my design for a 1979 "Player of the Decade" card for Pete Rose, I'm really a fan of celebrating a player who came to dominate an entire decade, and be voted accordingly as the "top player" by the Sporting News.
With that being said, today I'd like to present my design for a card I wish Topps would have considered for their 1970 set: a "1960's Player of the Decade" specimen showing all-time great Willie Mays.
Take a look:

The man flat-out raked during the decade of the '60's!
All the man did was finish in the top-10 in M.V.P. voting seven times, taking home the award in 1965 (with many remarking that HE should have won in 1962 over Maury Wills), top 30-homers six times, 40 homers four times, and 50 in 1965 (being the last to reach that mark until George Foster hit 52 in 1977).
Throw in seven 100+ R.B.I. seasons, six 100+ runs seasons, five .300+ years, nine Gold Gloves and all-star appearances every single year, and you see why it was so easy to choose the "Say Hey Kid" as the player of the decade.
Is it me, or is being voted "Player of the Decade" pretty freakin' big?!
I think such an honor speaks volumes historically, and it's a shame it goes so unnoticed through the years.
On a side note: technically my Pete Rose card designed for the 1979 set was not possible since he was voted player of the decade AFTER the 1979 season was over. But hey, you have to give yourself SOME liberties when running a blog right?

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Here's a card that leaves you wondering why Topps even bothered, yet falls into my "Long Time No See" thread for players who had years between card appearances: #427 Fred Norman from the 1970 set.
Take a look:

This was Norman's first card since Topps' 1965 set, when he appeared on a Cubs "rookie stars" card (#386), shown here:

What makes the 1970 card so odd is that Norman hadn't even appeared in a Major League game since the 1967 season, and even THEN he only got into a single game for the Cubs, for a single inning!
As a matter of fact, between 1965 and 1969, Norman's total Major League output as far as games he appeared in is THREE.
So when planning for the 1970 set came around, I can't really see why Topps went back and came up with Norman.
Notice the cheap-o cap he's wearing on the 1970 card? The "L.A." logo appears to be some iron-on patch. Hilarious…
Fred Norman is one of those guys (like Jamie Moyer), who really hit his Major League stride in his 30's.
He had his first 10+ win season at 30 in 1973, then reeled off seven straight such seasons until he hit 36 years of age.
He was a starter throughout the "Big Red Machine" days of the Cincinnati Reds, and pitched in both World Series in 1975 & 1976.
By the time he retired after the 1980 season, he put together a very decent 16-year career, posting a 104-103 record with a 3.64 E.R.A.
Those two World Championship seasons with the Reds would arguably be his two best as a Major Leaguer, going a combined 24-11 with an E.R.A. in the mid-3.00's.
Not bad for a guy who had only 5 career wins by the time he was 29 years of age.
Still leaves me scratching my head as to why he was included in the 1970 set though.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Today's "missing" Topps card from the 1970's features a player who did appear on a multi-player rookie card in 1972, but was left out of the 1973 set even after some decent playing time the year before: Angels catcher Art Kusnyer.
Kusnyer was yet another of those players I read about in a SABR article that spoke of guys who posted the most career at-bats or innings pitched who were not represented on a Topps card (in this case, a card of their own).
Take a look at my 1973 card design first:

Kusnyer came up for a cup-of-cofee in 1970 with the White Sox after getting picked in the 37th round of the 1966 amateur draft.
After four games and ten at-bats with Chicago in 1970, he was traded to California in March of 1971 for a couple of minor players, appearing in only six games for the season.
However 1972 would fare much better for the young catcher, as he would go on to play in a career high 64 games, good for 198 plate appearances.
For the year he batted .207, getting 37 hits in 179 at-bats with two doubles, a triple and two homers.
However this wasn't enough to get him more playing time the following season, as the Angels already had Jeff Torborg and John Stephenson ahead of him in the depth chart for the position, so all Kusnyer would see as far as playing time in 1973 would be 41 games, good for 67 plate appearances and an anemic .125 batting average.
However, not all was a lost-cause for the youngster, as on July 15th of that year Kusnyer would have perhaps the biggest thrill of his Big League career, catching Nolan Ryan's second career no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium.
But when 1974 rolled around, Kusnyer found himself struggling to find a spot for himself in the Milwaukee Brewers organization after being traded by California in October of 1973 in a nine-player swap between the two clubs.
He'd end up toiling in the Minors for the next two seasons before finding his way back into a Major League game in 1976, getting into 15 games for the Brewers, hitting .118 on four hits in 34 at-bats.
His last hurrah on the Major League level would be in 1978 with the Kansas City Royals, playing in nine games and getting three hits in 13 at-bats, good for a .231 average.
He'd scratch out another season of Minor League ball for the White Sox in 1979 before calling it a career and eventually moving into coaching work for the Sox and the Oakland A's over the next 28 years.
Nevertheless, here's yet another "missing" piece to total representation for those of us that want players who saw enough playing time in a season to get a card along the way.

Friday, April 18, 2014


As a kid growing up obsessed with baseball in the 1970's and 1980's, I always thought Fred Lynn's 1975 season was one of the coolest season's ever.
How could you NOT be impressed with a young player coming up and leading his team (with a lot of help, of course) to the World Series, and then winning the Rookie of the Year AND Most Valuable Player awards in his first taste of the Big Leagues?
Even today, with Fernando Valenzuela winning the R.O.Y. And Cy Young in 1981 and Ichiro duplicating Lynn's 1975 accomplishment, Lynn's 1975 season still stands as an "event" as far as baseball history goes, and should have gotten SOME play by Topps in their 1976 set.
So today I present to you my design for a card that would have been fun to have back then, a 1976 "Highlight" card of Fred Lynn's magical 1975 season:

I thought Topps did a decent job with Lynn's regular 1976 card.
But boy did it seem to miss out on some of the "buzz" revolving around this new superstar.
The rookie trophy gave it a small bump, but it's almost like the card should have had stars shooting off of it for what Lynn accomplished that year!
Coming out of USC, Lynn was a second round pick by the Boston Red Sox in 1973, and got his first small taste of the Majors in 1974, playing 15 games and ripping it up to the tune of a .419 batting average in 43 at-bats.
That was a small sampling of what fans were to see the following year, as Lynn just took over and lead the charge for the BoSox, hitting .331 with 21 homers and 105 runs batted in.
He'd also lead the league in runs scored with 103, doubles with 47, and slugging with a .566 average.
On top of all of that, he'd even take home a Gold Glove for his defensive efforts as well!
He was "All-World" at that point!
The Red Sox would fall short of a truly magical year for Lynn, losing to the mighty "Big Red Machine" Cincinnati team in the World Series, but for Lynn it would the first full season of a very nice 17 year career which saw him hit over 300 homers, drive in over 1000 runs and stroke just under 2000 hits.
1979 would probably be his best season, when he lead the American League in batting with a .333 average, to go along with great power numbers of 39 homers, 116 runs scored and 122 runs batted in, all career highs.
He would also be the only Major Leaguer of the decade to lead the league in batting, on-base and slugging in the same season, with a slash-line of .333/.423/.637.
If it wasn't for an odd plethora of "awesome" years by Don Baylor, Ken Singleton and George Brett, Lynn could have won another M.V.P.
Nevertheless, that 1975 accomplishment of becoming the first player to ever win a Rookie of the Year AND Most Valuable Player Award in the year is something to be proud of.
I'm having a blast designing my own "highlight" cards of the 1970's, along with writing up the stories.
Needless to say I'll be posting a ton of these over the next few months.
Hope you all enjoy them as much as I do!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Hello again.
Time for your weekly trivia.
This week let's take a look at the decade as a whole.
See how many you can get. I'm pretty much asking for three answers per question this time around.
I'll post the answers tomorrow.
1. For the decade of the 1970's, who were the top three home run hitters?

2. Who were the top three in hits for the decade?

3. Who were the top three in R.B.I.'s?

4. What three players scored the most runs during the 1970's?

5. Who hold the top three stolen base totals for the decade?


1.  Willie Stargell: 296; Reggie Jackson: 292; Johnny Bench: 290.

2. Pete Rose: 2045; Rod Carew: 1787; Al Oliver: 1686.
3. Johnny Bench: 1013; Tony Perez: 954; Lee May: 936.
4. Amos Otis: 861; Carl Yastrzemski: 845; Rod Carew: 837.

5. Lou Brock: 551; Joe Morgan: 488; Cesar Cedeno: 427.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Next up on my imagined 1975 Cy Young sub-set s the 1964 season and we are now fully entrenched in the Koufax-era, even though he didn't take home the award that season because of limited playing time.
The actual winner of the award was Angels pitcher Dean Chance, who had his peak season that year, while Koufax would have won the award had there been a selection for both leagues at the time.
First up, my card design:

As I mentioned yesterday for my "all-decade" card featuring Chance, 1964 was the culmination of his relatively short 11-year career, going 20-9 with a fantastic 1.65 earned run average largely based on his 11 shutouts in 35 starts. He even appeared in another 11 games, earning four saves in the process.
The rest of his numbers were good ones: a league-leading 15 complete games and 278.1 innings pitched, 207 strikeouts, a .690 winning percentage, and he only gave up 7 homers and 51 earned runs all season long.
So when Cy Young voting came around, writers easily picked him over Chicago Cub hurler Larry Jackson and Koufax, garnering 17 of 20 first place votes.
He'd go on to have a few more good seasons with the Angels and Twins, but would be out of the game by 1971 at the young age of 30.
Ironically, the player the folks at SABR picked to be the "assumed" winner of the National League Cy Young Award was another guy who was out of the Majors by the age of 30, Koufax.
It's incredible to think that during his run of dominance in the game from 1963 to 1966, this season would be his "down" year.
Ha! A year that saw him go 19-5 with a 1.74 E.R.A., a .792 winning percentage, seven shutouts and 223 strikeouts, all but the K's being league-leading numbers.
Problem was that Koufax's season was cut short after a start in August because of what was diagnosed as "traumatic arthritis", so missing out on the last month and a half of the season EASILY cost him a Cy Young, which would have made four in a row to close out his career, and adding to the legend of one of the most fantastic runs of success on the mound the game has ever seen before or since.
It IS amazing to realize that of the three pitching "Triple Crown" categories: wins, E.R.A., and strikeouts, between 1963-1966, Koufax lead the league 10 of twelve times!
Only his wins and strikeouts from 1964 would prevent a clean sweep.
The man was almost unstoppable.
Next up on this thread: 1965, and low-and-behold, another Sandy Koufax appearance, taking the award home for the second time, with the American League's Jim Grant getting picked by SABR as the pitcher most likely to have won if today's voting process was in place then.
Stay tuned…

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Today we come to the final position on my "1960's All-Decade Team" sub-set for the 1970 Topps set: right-handed pitchers.
While the National League pick was an easy one, Juan Marichal, the American League choice was tough, but I eventually went with Dean Chance.
Take a look at my card design:

As much as Marichal is celebrated as an all-time pitching legend, you still have to feel for the guy when you consider the timing of all his banner years in the big leagues.
In 1963 he has his breakout year, going 25-8 with a 2.41 E.R.A., but takes a back seat to another guy who has a breakout year, Sandy Koufax.
In 1966 he wins 25 games again, but again takes a backseat to a now dominating Koufax, who wins 27 along with a bunch of other eye-popping numbers.
In 1968 he sets a career high of 26 wins to go along with a 2.43 earned run average, but wait, a guy named Bob Gibson has a year for the ages, winning both the Cy Young Award and the M.V.P.
But when you look at the decade as a whole, there wasn't a better pitcher in the game from 1960-1969, as Marichal went on to win 191 games, winning 25 or more wins three times, post seven sub-3.00 E.R.A. seasons,  top 200+ strikeouts six times , and get selected as an all-star every year between 1962-1969.
A lefty-righty combo of Koufax and Marichal would make any baseball fan drool to no end.
Now over in the American League it got a bit trickier, as there wasn't any one dominating hurler from the right side who made a clear cut pick here.
I went with Dean Chance based on his two 20-win seasons, his sick 1964 Cy Young winning year, 11 shutouts in 1964, and five sub-3.00 E.R.A. campaigns by the time the '60's were in everyone's rear-view mirrors.
In 1962, his first full-year in the Majors, he finished third for Rookie of the Year, going 14-10 with a 2.96 E.R.A.
Throughout the rest of the decade it was more of the same, as he posted solid numbers year in and year out.
But it was his 1964 season that was far and away his best year in the Majors, as he finished with a 20-9 record with a sparkling 1.65 earned run average, 11 shutouts and 207 strikeouts, leading to a Cy Young win and a fifth-place finish in M.V.P. voting for the Los Angeles Angels.
He'd post another 20-win season in 1967, now as a member of the Minnesota Twins, going 20-14 with a 2.73 E.R.A., five shutouts and 220 strikeouts, and followed up in 1968 with a career high of 234 K's along with a 2.53 E.R.A., six shutouts and a mediocre 16-16 record.
Sadly for Chance this would be his last full season in the Majors, even though he was still only 27 years old.
1969 would see Chance make only 15 starts, going 5-4 with a 2.95 E.R.A. and 50 K's in only 88.1 innings before scraping together two more years playing for the Indians, Mets and Tigers.
He would be out of baseball for good by 1972, only 30 years old, but his solid seven years between 1962-1968 still makes him my pick as the righty pitcher on my A.L. All-Decade team for my 1970 sub-set.
Hope you enjoyed this thread while it lasted. 
It was fun designing the cards and getting a chance to have some players that would not have been on my blog to begin with since they didn't play into the '70's.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Considering that the early to mid 1970's weren't exactly the power years like we've seen in the past 20, it's amazing to remember that the first team to have three players hit 40 or more homers in the same season were the 1973 Atlanta Braves.
That year, Hank Aaron, Darrell Evans and Davey Johnson all topped the mark, and each player had a unique facet to their accomplishment to go along with the record-breaking feat.
It would have been really cool if Topps celebrated this new record with a card, especially since Aaron was being celebrated left and right at the time.
Let's take a look at the card I designed to mark the occasion:

I wish I had a clearer picture for the card, but I still think I got lucky finding this one.
Playing in a home run park that was nick-named "the launching pad", the Braves launched 206 homers that year, even though it didn't help them in the standings, as they finished with a 76-85 record, just ahead of the San Diego Padres out of the cellar.
As I mentioned earlier, each of the three players who slammed 40 or more homers had some interesting angles to their story. Let's take a look:
Darrell Evans had his first full season in the big leagues in 1973 and did not disappoint, hitting 41 home runs to go along with 104 runs batted in, 114 runs, a league-leading 126 base on balls and a .281 average.
He wouldn't know it at the time, but 12 years later in 1985 he would become the first player in Major League history to hit 40 homers in both the N.L. and A.L., as he would lead the American League in homers with 40 that year for the Detroit Tigers.
He'd finish his 21 year career with 404 home runs, topping 30+ four times while playing for the Braves, Tigers and Giants.
For Aaron, 1973 would be the last of a remarkable eight 40+ home run seasons, and would be the year he finally broke Babe Ruth's career home run record of 714.
It would also be an amazing home run feat because he hit the 40 home runs in less that 400 official at-bats, stepping up to the plate 392 times.
Not until Mark McGwire & Barry Bonds came along would we see something like that again.
"Hammerin' Hank" would have three more years in the Majors before retiring, leaving us with a plethora of all-time leading career numbers to gawk over for years to come.
Now we move on to quite possibly the strangest 40+ homer season in the history of baseball (sorry Brady Anderson): Davey Johnson and HIS contribution to the homer-trio.
Take away his 1973 season, and Johnson's top-five homer seasons in his 13 year career look like this: 18, 15, 10, 10 and nine.
Seriously, so where on earth does the 43 come from in 1973?!
With the spectacle of the "steroid era" fresh in all of our minds, it's easy for us to write off anomalies like this. However this was 1973, and even though steroids and other performance enhancers were around then (just listen to former pitcher Tom House talk about it), no one has ever accused Davey Johnson of using stuff like this.
Johnson's season was incredible when compared to the rest of his career. While playing second base, he slammed the team-leading 43 homers, drove in 99 runs (the next highest total for his career was 72 in 1971 for the Orioles), scored 84 runs (next highest was 68 in 1970), and slugged .546 (his next highest slugging average was .443 in 1971!).
If THIS isn't the strangest case of power surge in a players career, then it's definitely in the top-3!
Some may point to Brady Anderson's 50 homer year in 1996, or even Wade Boggs' 1987 season, but for me Johnson's 1973 season is the most shocking. 
So there you have it. A highlight from the decade that I felt should have gotten some recognition by Topps in the 1974 set.
If you like this sort of stuff, keep an eye out for more. I've been going nuts designing numerous "highlight" cards throughout the 1970's, having a ball doing it too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Today I want to focus a little bit on the 1970 Topps Zoilo Versalles card (#365).
Take a look at it here:

Man, first off the man looks pissed. 
What was going on when this picture was snapped? And why on earth was this shot deemed just right for a baseball card?
To make it that much more of an unique situation, this is the very same photo Topps used for Versalles on his 1969 card as well (#38)!
Check it out:

Perhaps the look on his face just showed his frustration with his career, which was quickly coming to an end after a split season in 1969 with the Cleveland Indians and Washington Senators.
For the year the former Most Valuable Player hit .236 with a homer and 19 runs batted in over 103 games and 292 at-bats.
1970 would not be any better for him, as he didn't even suit up for a Major League game that year, and would play his last Major League games in 1971 as a member of the Atlanta Braves at the ripe old age of 31.
And as a side note: even though his 1969 card has him depicted as a San Diego Padre, he never played for the team, as he was drafted by them in the expansion draft before they then used him in a trade with the Indians a couple of months later.
Yeah, I guess I'd be pissed as well!

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Today's "Missing in Action" subject is a Montreal Expo player who lasted 4 years in the Majors, and actually did appear on a rookie card in the 1974 Topps set, but curiously didn't get a card the following year even though he appeared in just under half the team's games: second baseman Jim Cox.
Before we get into the player, check out the card I designed:

In 1974 Cox appeared in 77 games, good for 270 plate appearances and a light .220 average with two homers and 26 runs batted in, all while manning second base.
In his other three seasons he barely saw any playing time, appearing in 33 games total, before leaving the game for good after some solid Minor League years with the Denver Triple-A team in the Expos system.
Curious to know why the guy never really stuck with the parent-team since the Expos didn't really have a solid second baseman at the time.
For example, on their 1975 & 1976 squads their main guy at the position was Pete Mackanin, who managed to hit .225 & .224 with little pop and run production. 
It wasn't like the rest of the field where Montreal was bursting with hot young talent like Gary Carter, Ellis Valentine, Warren Cromartie and Andre Dawson.
Nevertheless, Cox should have gotten a card in the 1975 set considering some of the guys that actually got one with much less playing time.
Cox was another of those players I read about in the SABR article profiling players with substantial Major League playing time who didn't receive a Topps card. In this case, a card of his own instead of just a multi-player rookie as noted earlier.
I'll be profiling some more players mentioned in the SABR article in the near future, so keep an eye out for them.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Today's post regarding my imagines 1975 Cy Young Award sub-set brings us to the 1963 season, and the beginning of the Sandy Koufax era.
Let's take a look at my card design first:

Before we praise the "Left Arm of God", let's take a look at whom the people at SABR figured would win the American League Cy Young Award had there been such a vote in place at the time, Yankees great Whitey Ford.
Having won the award himself just a couple of years earlier in 1961, Ford posted another awesome season in 1963, ending up with a 24-7 record to go along with a 2.74 earned run average and 189 strikeouts.
The effort got him a third place finish in M.V.P. voting, and easily would have gotten him another Cy Young to go with it.
Besides the league-leading win total, Ford also led in starts with 37 and innings pitched with 269.1, with 13 complete games and three shutouts. He also had a save in there as well.
Ironically enough his 1964 season would actually be better even though his won-loss record was 17-6, as he posted a career high eight shutouts with a sparkling 2.13 earned run average with 172 K's. 
It was to be his last great season of his career, as Ford tailed off between 1965 and 1967, hanging them up after that year.
In the National League, we take a look at who did win the award, and would win the award three of the next four years, and easily four of four had there been an award for both leagues in place then: Dodger great Sandy Koufax.
1963 would be the first year in a dominating run that I can honestly say wasn't matched until a guy named Pedro Martinez came along in the late-90's.
Let's look at the numbers shall we: 25-5 record, 1.88 E.R.A., 11 shutouts and 306 strikeouts. Incredible!
Throw in a league-leading 0.875 WHIP, 6.2 hits-per-nine-innings and an amazing 5.28 K's to walks ratio (which is incredible considering how wild Koufax was the first half of his career), and you have not just a Cy Young Award season, but a Most Valuable Player season, which is what he also took home that year.
What a run Koufax had between 1963 and 1966. He led the league in wins three times, E.R.A. four times, winning percentage twice, shutouts three times, strikeouts three times, and took home three Cy Young Awards, and an M.V.P. Award, while finishing in second place in both 1965 & 1966.
Man if only we could have seen where his career totals would have been had he been able to pitch an extra four or five years before retiring.
Sadly at the ripe old age of 30, Koufax was forced to retire because of arm trouble, leaving us with those "what-if's" that will never go away, along the lines of the Ted Williams, Bob Feller and Stan Musial military years.
Next up, the 1964 season with Dean Chance, the actual award winner, and of course, Mr. Koufax…

Thursday, April 10, 2014



Trivia time yet again.
This week we look at all 50+ stolen base guys during the decade of the 1970's.
See how many you can get.
Answers will be posted tomorrow…
1. Among all 50+ stolen base guys in the '70's, who also slammed the most homers that year?

2. Who posted the fewest hits in a season they stole 50 or more bases?

3. Who posted the lowest batting average in a 50-stolen base season during the '70's?

4. Conversely, who hit for the highest average in a 50-stolen base season during the decade?

5. Who appeared in the fewest games while still stealing more than 50 bases in the '70's?


1.  Joe Morgan, Reds. 27 homers in 1976.

2. Miguel Dilone, A's. Only 59 hits in 1978!.
3. Dave Nelson, Rangers. .226 BA in 1972.
4. Joe Morgan, Reds. He hit .327 in 1975.

5. Larry Lintz, Expos. 113 games in 1974.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Time for the pitchers on my imagined 1970 sub-set celebrating the "players of the decade" for the 1960's.
Today it's all about the two lefties that represent their respective leagues: Jim Kaat and Sandy Koufax.
Now, while one of my picks may surprise some, the other is about as solid a "lock" for the nomination as there is for ANY position.
First take a look at my card design:

You may be surprised by my pick of Kaat as the American League's lefty of the decade. But really, as far as a FULL decade goes, he didn't have much stiff competition. Whitey Ford is the guy who jumps into everyone's mind, but he really had half a decade before his career went South.
As for Kaat, all the guy did was win eight Gold Glove awards, a pennant in 1965 with the Twins, post 142 wins and have five seasons of 15 or more wins, with a high of 25 in 1966, a year he easily would have won the Cy Young had there been one selected for each league at the time.
In the case of the American League, it really was about consistency in this case over anyone with dominant numbers, there just weren't any.
Kaat ended up with a very nice career, moving into the bullpen after a lengthy 20 years as a starter in 1979.
He ended up pitching effectively another five years out of the pen before retiring after the 1983 season with the Cardinals, finishing up with 283 wins, 31 shutouts and 2461 strikeouts in 898 games, 625 of them starting.
He also famously won 16 Gold Gloves total in his career, something only Greg Maddux can relate to (with 18 such awards).
Over in the National League, it's all about one lefty for the 1960's, all-time Dodger great (and fellow Bensonhurst, Brooklyn native) Sandy Koufax, out of my rival Lafayette High School (I'm a New Utrecht High School alum, of "Welcome Back Kotter" fame).
Really, what needs to be said about the "Left Arm of God"?!
Between 1960 and 1966, before having his career cut short with arm trouble, all Koufax did was win two World Championships, three Cy Young Awards, finish third in 1964, win an M.V.P. in 1963 while finishing second in 1965 and 1966, take home five E.R.A. crowns, win 25 or more games in a season three times (sorry Juan Marichal!), and win four strikeout crowns with three of those seasons topping 300!
For the decade Koufax fashioned a 137-60 record (that's a winning percentage of .695), and if you take away 1960, which saw him post a record of 8-13, we are looking at a winning percentage of .733!
Three of his seasons in the decade were seasons for the ages: 1963, 1965 & 1966. In each year he topped 25 wins, 300 strikeouts, and posted earned run averages under 2.00!
Just insane numbers from the quiet guy from the Brooklyn sandlots!
Sadly, as we all know ad nauseam, after the 1966 World Series, which saw the favored Dodgers get swept by the young-stud Baltimore Orioles, Koufax was forced to retire from the game at the height of his career or else possibly suffer permanent damage to his arm and health, leaving behind a story for the baseball history books, as well as the "what-if's?" we love to ponder time and again.
Next up on this thread, the righties: Dean Chance for the American League and Juan Marichal in the National League.
Stay tuned…

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Today I start a new thread that I know will be fun to work on: "highlight" cards throughout the decade of events and milestones that didn't get enough play by Topps (in MY book) in any set.
Record Breaker and Highlight cards did indeed appear in sets during the 1970's, but they still left some accomplishments that I always felt were big out of the picture.
A good example of this would be today's baseball achievement: the 1971 Baltimore Orioles and their 20-game winning foursome of Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson, Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally.
I mean come on! Only once before (and since) has a team sported FOUR starters that won 20 or more games, and that was the much-maligned Chicago White Sox team from 1920 when Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Red Faber and Dickie Kerr all won 20+.
Not until this fearsome foursome showed up everyday in 1971 did a team have such a luxury.
First, take a look at my design for what should have been a nice insert into the 1972 Topps set to celebrate this rare achievement:

Ok, I got a little "cheeky" with the text on the card. But I didn't want to just list their names.
You'll find this as a common thread with a bunch of the card designs I come up with for this thread.
Back to what this staff did: think about it: 80+ wins just like that on the shoulders of four starters.
That's amazing, and obviously something we will never see again the way Major League ball is played these last 30 years or so.
McNally led the way with a 21-5 record, followed by the other three with Cuellar going 20-9, Dobson going 20-8 and Palmer going 20-9.
Only Cuellar sported an E.R.A. Over 3.00, with a 3.08 showing, while Palmer had the lowest at 2.68, McNally at 2.89 and Dobson at 2.90.
Oddly enough the biggest winner had the fewest starts, as McNally took the mound 30 times in '71 while the others all posted 37 or 38 starts for the year.
Palmer was the last to reach 20-wins with a sparkling 5-0 shutout of the Cleveland Indians on September 26th, his last start!
Cuellar won his 20th a couple games before on the 24th, (1st Game of a doubleheader), beating Sam McDowell 9-2, while McNally pitched a shutout against the Yankees on the 21st of September to reach HIS milestone win.
Incredibly Dobson also threw a shutout for HIS 20th win, this one in the second game of a doubleheader on the 24th against the Indians.
Dobson and Cuellar both won their 20th on the same day, and three of the four starters threw shutouts for their wins!
How awesome is that?!
Since that awesome pitching staff performance, the closest any team has had to four 20-game winners seems to be the 1989 Oakland A's, who had Dave Stewart with 21 wins, Mike Moore and Storm Davis win 19, and Bob Welch chip in 17 wins.
Still pretty impressive, especially considering that team played at the beginning of the "middle relief" era, FOR the guy who really began implementing it the way we see it used today: skipper Tony LaRussa.
Anyway, if you like this sort of stuff, keep an eye out for more of the same in the coming weeks, as I'll design cards for such baseball accomplishments as the 1977 Dodgers having four players slam 30+ homers, the 1973 Braves with three batters swat 40+ homers, and much more.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Today we look at a card that I was never really a fan of: Topps' 1970 card of Willie Stargell (#470).
There was something about the pose "Pops" was photographed in, just looked lame and really not "Stargell-esque" (if that makes any sense.
Take a look:

See what I mean? The bat on the shoulder looks awkward, the hand on hip looks like he's missing a finger or two, and quite honestly that smile looks about as forced as a whore in church.
The way he has that bat resting on his neck, across his jugular. So weird.
Take a look at a better image I found to use for a "do-over":

Just a nice in-game action shot of Stargell in 1970 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
This is just before Stargell had his most productive years in the big leagues in the early 1970's, including three years in a row where he finished second, third and second in M.V.P. voting between 1971 and 1973, leading the Majors in homers in '71 and '73 with 48 and 44.
He'd eventually win an M.V.P. later in the decade at the age of 39 (he'd share it with Keith Hernandez) when he lead the Pirates to a World Series win over the Baltimore Orioles in 1979, slamming 32 homers in only 126 games.
He retired after the 1982 season, playing all 21 years with the Pirates, crushing 475 homers, driving in 1540 R.B.I.'s, and winning two championships (1971 & 1979).
"Pops" eventually found his way into the Hall of Fame in 1988, joining former teammate Roberto Clemente, and rightfully so.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Today we come to the final Topps "League Leader" card of the 1970's that (at the moment) features solely Hall of Famers: 1979 Leading Firemen (#8) with "Goose" Gossage and Rollie Fingers.
Take a look at the card first:

For Gossage, it was a successful first year in the Bronx in 1978, as he lead the American League in saves with 27 to go along with a 10-11 record and 2.01 earned run average.
He was already entrenched as a "beast" out of the bullpen, firing 100-mile-an-hour fastballs out of a wind-up that was all arms and legs.
I used to LOVE seeing this guy pitch when I was a kid! He just looked like a mad-man to me.
Then I got the chance to meet him years later and he was just about the coolest, nicest person you could ask for, with that no-nonsense approach to talking to people that immediately made you comfortable.
Gossage would end up fifth in Cy Young Award voting that year, as well as 13th in M.V.P. voting, while also becoming a catalyst in one of my favorite stories about the crazy "Bronx Zoo" days.
In 1977 Sparky Lyle, the Yankees relief whiz, went on to win the Cy Young and seemed to be THE Yankee closer with no end in sight.
Then the Yankees go out and get Gossage as a free agent, leading to a CLASSIC quote by Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles, telling Lyle that he went, "from Cy Young to Sayonara".
It turned out to be true, as Lyle was gone, getting traded to the Texas Rangers in November of 1978.
Gossage on the other hand went on to be the Yankee closer for six years, never posting an E.R.A. over 2.62 in any of those seasons, with an incredible low of 0.77 during the strike season of 1981.
He'd also finish in the top-5 in Cy Young voting three times, with a high of third-place in 1980 when he went 6-2 with a league-leading 33 saves and a 2.27 earned run average.
He hung around the Majors for 22 years, retiring after the 1994 season with the Mariners at the age of 42, eventually getting the Hall of Fame nod in 2008.
As for Rollie Fingers, one of the all-time classic characters of the 1970's baseball era, 1978 was an excellent year for the veteran, as he lead the Majors with 37 saves to go with a 6-13 record and 2.52 E.R.A.
It was his second straight year leading the league in saves, and his third year getting into the top-10 in Cy Young voting, finishing in 8th-place.
As we all know, his best season was still ahead of him, as 1981 saw him win not only a Cy Young Award, but also an M.V.P., as he went 6-3 with a league-leading 28 saves and microscopic 1.04 E.R.A. for the Milwaukee Brewers during the strike year, as the "Brew Crew" were on the verge of some solid seasons with guys like Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Cecil Cooper and Gorman Thomas powering them to the World Series the following year.
1983 saw Fingers suffer some arm problems, rapidly ending his Major League career after the 1985 season at the age of 38.
But the numbers were already there, and Fingers found himself voted into Cooperstown as the first pitcher whose career was solely as a relief pitcher in 1992.
Of course he also left us with the trademark "Rollie" mustache, about as cool a souvenir from the 1970's as you can get, initially grown as a member of the awesome Oakland A's dynasty of the mid-70's.
It's been a nice little "sub-set" of sorts to focus in on for a little while.
Hope you enjoyed it as well…

Saturday, April 5, 2014


When I posted my two entries on this blog regarding the "missing" Tony Horton cards, I mentioned that I came to the realization that he had these missing cards from an online piece I read about "most lifetime Major League games without a Topps card", of which Horton topped the list.
That piece was also a treasure trove of other players who never had a card for one reason or another, and I took advantage of it and designed some cards for these guys.
One of those players was San Diego Padres infielder Van Kelly, who really should have had a card in the 1970 Topps set after playing almost half of San Diego's inaugural season the previous year, manning both third and second base.
Here's my card for the overlooked player:

Kelly didn't leave much of a mark in the Majors, playing in 73 games in 1969 and only 38 games the next.
But I'd like to think that 222 plate appearances in '69 would be enough to warrant a card, especially for a 23 year old who seemed to be on the verge of a "career", no?
All told, Kelly would play in 111 games in his career, finishing with a .221 batting average, 66 hits, four homers, 25 runs scored and 24 runs batted in during his short career.
But thanks to the world of baseball card geeks like me, his name lives on!
I'll be posting up some other players with brief careers who should have had a card along the way over the next couple of weeks.
Keep an eye out for them here…

Friday, April 4, 2014


The Dodgers and Yankees had the Most Valuable Players in their respective leagues in 1962, and if the people at SABR have anything to do with it, the two teams would also have the Cy Young winners as well.
As we all know, Dodger great Don Drysdale went on to win the award that season, when it was only given to one pitcher instead of one in each league.
But according to a great article from 1993 in a SABR journal, the consensus winner in the American League would have been Yankee pitcher Ralph Terry.
First take a look at my card design for the 1962 entry in my imagined 1975 sub-set:

For Terry, he finally seemed to put it all together in 1962 after six seasons in the big leagues, going 23-12 with a 3.19 earned run average in a league-leading 39 starts.
The previous year he had his first truly successful year in the big leagues, going 16-3 for the Yanks. But it was 1962 that would be the pinnacle of his 12 year career.
In addition to the stats mentioned, he also led the American League in innings pitched with 298.2, getting him selected for his only All-Star game and a 14th-place finish in M.V.P. voting at the end of the year.
He would also end up being voted most valuable player of the World Series, as he won two games against the San Francisco Giants, most importantly, a 1-0 shutout win in Game 7 with Willie McCovey famously lining out to second baseman Bobby Richardson with the winning runs on base.
This would atone for his "other" well known World Series moment: giving up Bill Mazeroski's 7th-game/ninth-inning home run to win the series for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960.
Terry would wind up his career after the 1967 season with the New York Mets, posting a 107-99 record with a 3.62 E.R.A in 257 starts and 338 games.
As for the actual winner of the Cy Young in 1962, Don Drysdale, he was already a feared star on the mound for the Dodgers by the time he really got it all together in '62.
But that year he was simply awesome, posting a leading 25-9 record with a 2.83 E.R.A. and a league-leading 232 strikeouts over 41 starts (also tops in the N.L.).
Though the Dodgers fell just short of the World Series that year, they'd be vindicated the following year with the arrival of one of the all-time best one-two punches on a Major League mound: Drysdale and the emergence of a guy named Sandy Koufax (you'll be seeing a lot of his on this thread over the next few weeks!).
The Dodgers would go on to sweep the Yankees in the World Series in 1963, but Drysdale would be taking a back-seat to Koufax as the ace of the Dodger staff.
But 1962 would be Drysdale's year, easily distancing from the rest of the pack in Cy Young voting, getting 14 of 20 votes to beat out Giants pitcher Jack Sanford.
By the time "Big D" was done, he'd retire at the young age of 32 with a 209 and 166 record, 49 shutouts, a 2.95 E.R.A.,  and 2486 strikeouts.
It took him a while, but he finally got voted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, though many consider him a borderline Hall of Fame member at best (like Catfish Hunter among others).
Next up, 1963 and the beginning of the "Sandy Koufax Era". The man was simply unstoppable from 1963 through 1966.
If only we could have seen him pitch into the 1970's. Boy oh boy…
In the A.L., it was pretty clear that the winner would have been Whitey Ford had they given the award for both leagues at the time.
See you then…

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Another week, another round of 1970's trivia.
Take a stab at these questions that deal with 300 total bases in a season.
As usual I'll post the answers tomorrow.

1. Among all players with 300+ total bases in a season during the decade, what player hit the fewest homers that year?

2. Who had the lowest batting average among all 300 total bases seasons in the '70's?

3. Who had the lowest slugging percentage among 300+ total base seasons in the decade?

4. Who scored the fewest runs among the 300+ total base seasons in the '70's?

5. What player had the fewest runs batted in during a 300+ total base season?


1.  Garry Templeton, Cardinals. Nine homers in 1979.

2. Gorman Thomas, Brewers. .244 average in 1979.
3. Buddy Bell, Rangers. .451 SLG in 1979.
4. Dave Parker, Pirates. 75 runs scored in 1975.

5. Pete Rose, Reds. 52 ribbies in 1970.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Today we round out the outfield slots for my imagined 1970 sub-set celebrating the "All-Decade" team of the 1960's.
As with the other two outfield entries, this one doesn't disappoint, as it presents another two future Hall of Famers: Al Kaline and Roberto Clemente.
Take a look at the card I designed:

What a quiet legend Kaline was. Buried under names like Aaron, Mays, Mantle, etc, he just went about his business year in and year out and paved the way for his eventual induction into Cooperstown's hallowed halls in 1980.
The 1960's saw Kaline make eight All-Star teams, win seven Gold Gloves, and receive solid M.V.P. support seven of ten years, finishing as high as second in 1963.
Though he only lead the league in a primary offensive category only once (doubles in 1961), Kaline's consistency was his strength, as he topped .300 four times, 20 homers five times, and a .500 slugging percentage five times.
Over in the National League, who else could fill out the outfield but the Pittsburgh Pirate legend?
Gee, let's see…
All Clemente did was win four batting titles, have four 200-hit seasons, win an M.V.P. in 1966, and win nine Gold Gloves (which was part of a 12-year run of the award).
In nine of ten years during the 1960's Clemente received considerable M.V.P. votes, finishing in the top-10 seven times.
When you look at Clemente's performance throughout his career you see a guy that could pop a homer, slap a double, leg out a triple, whatever you needed.
Just look at his power numbers by the time his career was tragically ended in that fateful plane crash in December, 1972: 440 doubles, 166 triples and 240 home runs.
Throw in his 3000 hits, 1416 runs scored and 1305 runs batted in and you see how the man was a lethal threat at the plate.
It comes as no surprise that Major League Baseball honored the man by waiving the five-year waiting period for Hall of Fame eligibility and inducted him by special election in 1973.
Well, there you have all the position players from catchers to outfielders.
Next up, we take a look at the left-handed pitchers representing their leagues for the 1960's: Jim Kaat and Sandy Koufax.
Stay tuned..

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Yesterday I presented my design for the "missing" 1970 Topps card for Indians player Tony Horton, explaining that he never had an "official" Topps card in his seven-year career.
Today I present what would have been his last card after his sudden and sad retirement from the game during the 1970 season.
Take a look:

I still don't know why Topps never produced a card for the young slugger, but it makes the Tony Horton story that much more mysterious and begs a few more answers to some tough questions.
For the 1970 season, Horton was hitting .269 with 17 homers and 59 runs batted in by August, certainly good numbers for that era.
But as I stated yesterday, Horton was battling serious issues and walked away from the game, literally, during a doubleheader, leading to a suicide attempt that very night.
Luckily for him, he sought treatment and was helped with his problems.
However he never did return to professional ball, and went on to live a private life, refusing to talk to media post-retirement.
If anyone knows why Topps never had Horton under contract I'd love to hear it. Was it Horton's decision? Was it Topps?


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