Tuesday, September 30, 2014


If I'm going to have a thread creating a sub-set of classic nicknames of the 1970's, you KNOW I have to design a card for Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter.
Take a look:

I chose to use a 1973 card design since Hunter was in the prime of his career around then.
Already a World Champ in 1972, Hunter was on his way to FOUR more championships split between the Oakland A's and New York Yankees,  (1973/74 & 1977/78).
One of the first big-name free agents, Hunter went on to a great 15-year career that eventually got him inducted into Cooperstown's hallowed halls.
"Catfish", what a classic nickname! One for the ages…

Monday, September 29, 2014


My next installment for my "Then and Now Super Veterans" sub-set is a 1975 card celebrating the career of Chicago Cubs legend Ron Santo.
Check it out:

Santo didn't actually even play in 1975, but he did have a card in the set, so I used the '75 design for this card as well.
By the time he hung up his spikes after the 1974 season, Santo established himself as one of the all-time greats at third base.
A wonderful 15 year career that saw him suit up for the Cubs for all but his final season, Santo was about as solid as you could ever want, especially during the modern "dead-ball" era of the mid-1960's through the mid-1970's.
He walloped 342 lifetime homers, along with 1331 runs batted in, 1138 runs scored and a .277 batting average.
Four times he drove in more than 100 runs, with another four years of 90+. He also hit 30+ homers four straight years, between 1964-1967, as well as topping .300 four times.
A nine time all-star and five time Gold Glover, it's a shame it took so long for him to be acknowledged as such, getting inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, two years after he passed away.
If it wasn't for long time teammate Ernie Banks, we'd be calling Santo "Mr. Cub".

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Let's give long-time Detroit Tiger Jim Northrup some "props" and allow me to post my design for a 1976 Topps card capping off his solid Major League career:

In 1975, Northrup concluded a nice 12 year career, suiting up in 84 games for the Baltimore Orioles, mainly in the outfield.
In that partial season of action, he put up solid numbers: a .273 average with five homers and 29 runs batted in.
I think a final card for the guy would have been nice. Don't you?
The first ten years of Northrup's career were as a member of the Detroit Tigers outfield as a steady starter who hit as much as 25 homers (1969) and drove in as much as 90 runs (1968) in a season.
During the Tigers' World Championship season of 1968, he even received some consideration for Most Valuable Player, finishing in 13th place, as he led the Champs in hits and R.B.I.'s (153 and 90 respectively).
It's easy to forget he teamed up with Al Kaline and Willie Horton for years manning the Detroit outfield, making up a very solid threesome out there.
By the time he wrapped up his career in 1975, Northrup finished with a .267 career average along with 153 homers, 610 runs batted in and 1254 hits.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Sorry for the late post! Had to trek out to upstate NY for the newest member of the family, a beautiful Australian Cattle dog/Collie mix pup, no name as of yet! A nice pal for our Anatolian Shepherd, "Bossy".
Anyway, onto today's topic...
When I recently designed my "Super Veterans" card for Jim "Catfish" Hunter, I took a closer look at his 1965 rookie card and realized that Skip Lockwood, who I grew up knowing as a pitcher for the N.Y. Mets, actually came up as an infielder with the Kansas City A's.
Take a look:

On top of that, after his initial 1965 rookie card appearance, the next time he was on a baseball card was in the 1970 Topps set (#499), now as a pitcher for the Seattle Pilots: a five year gap.
Take a look at his follow-up card from the 1970 set:

I never realized Lockwood's road to the big league mound, and that he was first a shortstop for the A's in 1965, without much success in 42 games: four hits (all singles) in 33 at-bats, a .121 batting average.
Stranger still, aside for those 42 games with the parent club, Lockwood didn't play any Minor League ball that year (?). Weird.
Over the next three years, he was mired in the Minors, now converted to a pitcher, and eventually found himself as a member of the new Seattle Pilots come 1969. Getting into six games, good for 23 innings of work and a 0-1 record.
(It also raises the obvious question as to why Topps gave him a card in the 1970 set with such scant playing time!)
In 1970, Lockwood would become a full-time Major League pitcher, and go on to have 11 decent years pitching for the Brewers, Angels, Mets and Red Sox.
He'd really find his niche as a reliever for the New York Mets between 1975 and 1979, having his best year in 1976, going 10-7 with 19 saves and a nifty 2.67 earned run average over 56 games and 94.1 innings.
The following year he posted a career high 20 saves for the Mets, with a 7-13 record and 3.57 E.R.A., in 57 games and 104 innings.
After a year pitching for Boston in 1980, Lockwood's big league days were over, retiring with a 57-97 career record, with a 3.55 E.R.A., five shutouts, 68 saves and 829 K's in 420 games.
Not bad for a guy who came up as a weak-hitting midfielder.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Topps really dropped the ball on this one: Lou Brock, one of the most exciting players in the game, and he doesn't get an "In Action" card in the 1972 set?
Allow me to remedy that here:

The man was running wild by the early 1970's, on his way to a then Major League record 938 stolen bases to go along nicely with 1610 runs scored, 3023 hits and 776 extra base hits.
1971 was typical for Brock, as he gathered 200 hits, led the National League in runs scored with 126 (a career high), batted over .300 (.313) and of course, led the Senior Circuit in stolen bases for the fifth time (on his way to eight stolen base crowns for his career).
His stellar career eventually got Brock elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985, his first year of eligibility.
Nicknamed "The Franchise", I'm sure any team would love to build a roster around a player like Brock in any era.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Trivia time yet again, and I'll follow last week's thread with "low" performers of the decade.
This week we'll look at On Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage.
Take a look and see what you can come up with!
Answers posted tomorrow…

  1. Among all qualifiers, what player posted the lowest OBP for a season during the decade?
  2. Among all qualifying players, who posted the lowest slugging percentage over a full season?
  3. This player managed to lead the Majors with the lowest batting average, on base percentage AND slugging percentage in the same season in 1977. Who was it?
  4. As if one player posting the lowest numbers in all three categories wasn't enough, the Padres had another player post the "low trifecta" just two years later! Who was this "low" man in all three stats for 1979?
  5. This player saw his OBP drop 100 points a year after hitting .318 with 29 homers and a .364 OBP. His BA also took a major hit, dropping 90 points the following year. Who was it?


Aurelio Rodriguez, Tigers. He had a very low .255 OBP in 1974!
Tim Johnson, Brewers, who posted a meek .243 slugging percentage in 1973.
Mike Champion, Padres, who pulled off the "hat trick" in 1977.
4. Ozzie Smith, who posted a .211/.260/.262 slash line.
5. Cito Gaston, Padres. His reversal of fortune happened from 1970 to 1971. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Thanks to blog reader Tony, I got the bug in my ear to design a 1976 Mark Fidrych card since he took the baseball world by storm that season.
So take a look at the end result:

Now, I'll be the first to admit that there was no way Topps could have foreseen Fidrych and the phenomena that was about to ensue.
He wasn't exactly the hot prospect when the '76 season opened, but by the time the all-star game was about to be played, Fidrych was everywhere, and everyone was talking about him.
We all know the story: how he ended up starting the all-star game, how he won 19 games and led the league in earned run average, how he was given the nickname "Bird" and the antics he displayed on the mound.
Sadly we also know how his career was derailed because of injuries, how he was never able to make it back successfully, and how years later he was tragically killed in an accident at the young age of 54.
But the "Bird" legend will always be around, and for those of us lucky enough to have witnessed it, it was incredible.
His 1977 Topps card is STILL one of my all-time favorites solely because I feel it captured that "thing", that personality he had, as a character that comes along all too rarely.
Here's to you Mark!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


By 1972 Bill Mazeroski was closing out a stellar 17 year career that saw him suit up for one team, and one team only, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Today I have him as the next player in my "Then and Now-Super Veteran" series, designed as part of that awesome 1972 set.
Take a look at my card:

When he retired after the '72 season, "Maz" was a two-time World Champion (in 1960 & 1971), hit one of the most famous homers in baseball history to win the World Series for the Pirates against the heavily favored Yankees in 1960, had over 2000 hits, and was considered one of the top fielding second basemen of all-time.
An eight-time Gold Glove winner, Mazeroski led his league in assists nine times, double-plays turned eight times, putouts five times and fielding percentage three times.
He still holds the Major League career record for double-plays tuned with 1706, and for those of you into these "new stats", he's #1 in "Total Zone Runs as 2B" with 148.
Though he never made it into Cooperstown on the BBWA vote, he was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001 by the Veteran's Committee, joining former teammate Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell.
Not too shabby a career...

Monday, September 22, 2014


Here's a card I was psyched to design, a 1972 "Highlight" card celebrating a player I was really into as a kid before his career was tragically cut short: J.R. Richard of the Houston Astros and his explosive big league debut.
Check it out:

Richard made quite the splash in his first Major League appearance on September 5th of 1971, striking out FIFTEEN San Francisco Giants, thus tying Brooklyn Dodger Karl Spooner's rookie record from 1954.
Among his strikeout victims was none other than Willie Mays, whom Richard K'd three times that day, as well as Bobby Bonds, who struck out twice.
All told Richard pitched a complete game, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits, while walking three and picking up the win.
But it wasn't until the 1975 season that Richard began dominating batters as a full-time starter, striking out 176 batters while going 12-10 with a 4.39 earned run average over 203 innings.
From 1976 to 1979, Richard was down-right nasty, striking out 200 or more batters, including 300+ in both 1978 and 1979 (leading the N.L. in K's each time), as well as posting 18 or more wins and 3+ shutouts each season. 
1980 was shaping up to be more of the same, as Richard was 10-4 with a 1.90 E.R.A. and 119 K's through only 113.2 innings.
But on July 30th, 1980, while playing a game of catch before a game, Richard suffered a stroke that ended his career in an instant, requiring emergency surgery to remove a life-threatening blood clot in his neck.
Though he tried a comeback once he recovered, the stroke caused enough damage to prevent him from ever playing in another Major League game.
A tragic end to one of the most promising careers in the Majors at the time.
It would have been incredible to see Richard team up with new Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan and see how many K's they could have racked up.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Here's another one of those Topps mysteries as far as card/player selections go: 1975 Bill Parsons, (#613):

The guy appeared in only four games in 1974, good for 2 innings of work, yet somehow got a card the following year out of it.
On top of that, those four games would be the last of his Major League career. (See below)
Parsons had a decent first two years on the big league level pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1971 and '72.
His 1971 debut had him finish in second place (behind winner Chris Chambliss of the Indians) for American League Rookie of the Year, as he posted a 13-17 record with a 3.20 earned run average, four shutouts and 139 K's in 244.2 innings of work.
His 1972 season was almost as good, going 13-13 with a 3.91 E.R.A., two shutouts and 111 K's over 214 innings.
However, his 1973 season was cut short, as he was only able to play in 20 games, good for 59.2 innings and a 3-6 record with a bloated 6.79 E.R.A.
I came across an interesting article on parsons on ESPN a while back. Click the link if you want to read up on the curious reason as to why his career went downhill I a hurry:

This card is odd because Parsons was traded to Oakland in June of 1974 for Deron Johnson, so you'd think there was time for Topps to get a shot of him in an Oakland uniform.
But as you can see, all Topps did was airbrush him (in that oh-so-fine 1970's style) in all that Oakland technicolor.
On top of all that, in the beginning of December, 1974, Parsons was actually purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals, so even his Oakland airbrush job was already outdated.
Just another one of those quirky Topps' jobs of the mid-70's…

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Though Carlos May was done as a Major League baseball player by the time the 1978 Topps cards came out, I wanted to design a card for him in an Angels uniform.
His last "official" card shows him as a New York Yankee player in the '77 set, whom he played for at the start of that season before being purchased by California late in the year.
Take a look at my card design:

May only suited up for 11 games with California before taking his talents to Japan between 1978 and 1981, performing admirably with a .309 average and 70 home runs with Nankai of the JPPL.
As a Major League player, while he wasn't as successful as his brother Lee, Carlos did have some solid years for the Chicago White Sox in the early 1970's, teaming up with guys like Bill Melton and Dick Allen to give the South-Siders some "pop" in their line-up.
While he drove in 96 runs for the White Sox in 1973, his best season is arguably the year before, when he hit .308 with 12 homers, 68 runs batted in with 83 runs scored and 23 stolen bases over 148 games.
He spent parts of nine seasons with the White Sox before being traded to the Yanks in May of 1976.
I always remember the "Big League Brothers" sub-set in the 1977 Topps set, one of which was a card of Carlos and Lee.
I also remember the incredible story of how Carlos suffered what could have been a career ending injury, blowing his thumb off in 1969 while in the Marine Reserves.
My cousin and I would try to see if we noticed the "missing thumb" on his baseball cards, wondering how a guy could be a big league player while missing that seemingly important digit.
Anyway, over his eleven games with California in 1977, May hit .333 with six hits in 18 at-bats, driving in a run along with five base on balls.
He put in 10 years in the Majors, and left the game with a .274 lifetime average, 90 homers and 536 runs batted in.

Friday, September 19, 2014


One of the most enduring nicknames in professional sports history, "Charlie Hustle" conjures up those dominating Cincinnati Reds teams, "The Big Red Machine", of which Pete Rose was an anchor along with Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan.
Take a look at my newest "Nicknames of the '70's" card design:

Growing up in the 1970's as a baseball nut, Pete Rose was an almost mythic figure. Even though his Reds steamrolled through "my" Yankees in the 1976 World Series, Rose, along with his all-star teammates, seemed like something made-up, not real.
I guess a part of that could be that the very first Pete Rose baseball card I ever saw, at the age of seven, was his 1976 Topps masterpiece, which had that glare of his, staring down the camera, showing that intensity that created the "Charlie Hustle" legend.
What a player, a Hall of Fame player. But I won't get into THAT here.
The "Player of the Decade" for the 1970's, Rose etched his name into the history of the game many times over.
Really, along with guys like Tom Seaver and Reggie Jackson, you just can't have too many Pete Rose cards from the 1970's in my eyes.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Thursday trivia time again, and this week I'm posting questions regarding players who posted the lowest batting average in a season during the decade.
Now please note: only QUALIFIERS are counted here. So they had to meet the minimum plate appearance requirement to be included among the answers here.
Some really surprising findings when researching this!
Good luck! Answers posted tomorrow…

  1. Who was the only qualifying batter to post a sub-.200 batting average in a season during the decade?
  2. Among all "Low Batting Average" leaders of the decade, one was actually a future Hall of Famer, posting the lowest batting average one year, at .211. Who was it?
  3. The only player to post the Major's lowest batting average in a season more than once during the 1970's was actually a guy who was an all-star starter once, and garnered MVP votes two years in a row. Who was it?
  4. This player actually led the Major Leagues not only with the lowest qualifying batting average, but also the MOST walks in the same season! Who was it?
  5. In addition to Tenace in 1974, this player was the only other to post the lowest batting average in the Majors among qualifiers while being a starter on a World Champion team the same year. Who was it?

Jim Sundberg, Rangers. He hit .199 in 1975.
Ozzie Smith, Padres. He hit .211 in 1979.
Gene Tenace, A's and Padres. He posted the lowest average in 1974 while with the A's (.211), and 1978 while with the Padres (.224).
4. Jimmy Wynn, Braves. He walked 127 times in addition to his MLB low .207 average (Note: Gene Tenace led the A.L. In walks his "low" year of 1974).
5. Mark Belanger, Orioles. He hit .218 in 1970, lowest among all qualifiers, while winning it all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Here's another big-time player who should have had an "In Action" card in the 1972 Topps set: San Francisco Giants slugger Willie McCovey.
Take a look at my "missing" In-Action card:

"Stretch" was one of THE most feared power hitters of the era, muscling homer after homer on his way to 521 career blasts by the time he was done in 1980.
A Rookie of the Year Award in 1959, an M.V.P. in 1969, and a Hall of Fame induction in 1986, he did it all.
It's amazing to think about those Giants teams in the 1960's that had McCovey, Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda anchoring their line-up...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Today's "Then and Now" thread takes us to 1974 and the Tigers' all-time great Al Kaline, who was wrapping up his Hall of Fame career after 22 brilliant seasons in the Major Leagues.
Take a look at my card design:

What a player. 
"Mr. Tiger" spent his entire career in the "Motor City", and went on to collect over 3000 hits, 399 home runs, 1583 runs batted in and 1622 runs scored.
Though he never took home a Most Valuable Player Award, he did finish in the top-10 in voting nine times, including a second-place finish in 1955 when he won the American League batting title at the age of 20!
As if that all wasn't enough, he also took home ten Gold Gloves and was named to 15 all-star teams!
Needless to say, as soon as he was eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1980, he was voted in, getting named on 340 of 385 ballots, capping off one of the greatest Detroit Tiger careers in the history of the storied franchise.
One of the most well-liked players of his day, Kaline did it all, and did it all with class.
I only wish I was old enough to have seen his work his magic at the plate, and out in the field.

Monday, September 15, 2014


I'm STILL amazed all these years later by that 1976 Oakland A's team that absolutely ran wild on the base paths on their way to a (still) American League record of 341 stolen bases!
So I created a 1977 "Highlights" card celebrating the feat. Take a look:

Even though they were still considered a team with "pop" with sluggers Sal Bando, Gene Tenace and Joe Rudi in the line-up, they featured no less than EIGHT players who stole 20 or more bases that year!
As a matter of fact, those 341 stolen bases were almost a MAJOR League record, falling just 6 behind the 1911 New York Giants for most Post-1901.
Bill North (who ended up leading the league with 75), Bert Campaneris and Don Baylor paced the team, combining for 181 steals between them!
In addition to that mighty trio, Claudell Washington, Phil Garner, Larry Lintz, Sal Bando and Matt Alexander joined them with 20 or more steals.
I remember when the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals were stealing bases at a record pace, with rookie Vince Coleman leading the way.
But they fell short of the '76 A's, ending up with 314 steals, though STILL an impressive number to say the least.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Today I'd like to profile yet another beautiful card from my all-time favorite set, the 1976 offering by Topps: Al Oliver #620:

What an awesome card. The photo used, the card design, the colors all working together.
Just perfect!
There's something so "classic baseball" about the image, as if it can be from the '50's, '60's or '70's.
As for Oliver, he definitely falls into one of those "underrated' stars in my book.
The man put in a fantastic 18 year career which saw him total over 2700 hits, 200 homers and 1300 runs batted in. He even finished over .300 (.303) for a career batting average and was named to seven all-star teams, while getting M.V.P. attention in ten different seasons.
You can also easily make an argument for him as the true "Rookie of the Year" in 1969 over actual winner Ted Sizemore of the Dodgers. Why Sizemore "ran-away" with the voting that season is beyond me. (There are a few Dodger Rookie-of-the-Years that raise this question throughout the years actually!)
Anyway, I've always felt Oliver was part of that group of players from this era (Garvey, Parker, Pinson, etc) that should have gotten more Hall of Fame attention than they did.
Oh well, what do I know, right?
For now I'll enjoy looking at this card!

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Man have I been sitting on this card for a while!
An absolute gem of an airbrush disaster if there ever was one: the 1973 Topps Rich McKinney card. Take a look:

Where do we begin?!
First off, poor McKinney! As I profiled a while ago, his 1972 card was also a bad airbrush job, showing him as a New York Yankee with his cap poorly executed, with his last-name clearly running across the back of his jersey (something a Yankee jersey has NEVER had). 
It was clearly McKinney in a White Sox uniform, and slapped together for his '72 issued card.
Now here we have something that tops it, a terrible neon disaster of a paint job trying to show him in an Oakland A's uniform, with a hilariously done two-dimensional looking paint job!
Just look at the cap! Look at the black stroke around his body against the background! Awesome, just awesome.
I love the almost crayon-fill yellow striping on the jersey, and that wisp of hair that looks like it's coming out of his cap on the back.
Definitely one of Topps worst (and for us, best) airbrush jobs of the period.
McKinney didn't play much for a few years after 1973, totaling only 13 games for the A's combined in 1974 and 1975.
He was out of Major League ball for 1976, but did come back and play in just over half a season's worth of games in 1977, getting into 86 games for Oakland before calling it a career. 
As a matter of fact I want to create a "missing" 1978 card for him since he had decent playing time the previous year, but I just cannot find a usable image of him in an Oakland uniform anywhere.
If anyone has one, please send it along so we can fill in this "missing" part of 1970's Topps cards!

Friday, September 12, 2014


Thanks to reader Johnny Cabrera, I started really looking at former Baltimore Oriole outfielder Tom Shopay, and the fact that his last Topps card was in the 1972 set, even though he played up until 1977.
As a matter of fact, I feel he had enough playing time in 1977 to warrant a card in the 1978 set.
So allow me to present my design for such a card (Thanks Johnny!):

Shopay's case really is a strange one.
In 1971 he appeared in 47 games, good for 79 plate appearances, and was given a slot in the 1972 set.
Yet the following year he appeared in 49 games, and was NOT given a spot in the '73 set (??).
And while he didn't appear in a Major League game in either 1973 or 1974, he came back in 1975 to play in 40 contests for Baltimore yet still not appearing on a card.
But it's 1977 where he saw the most playing time in his big league career, playing in 67 games, good for 79 plate appearances and 69 at-bats, hitting a paltry .188 with a homer and four runs batted in. But again, no card for him in 1978, even though we have other players with less playing time showing up in that great set.
Nevertheless, Shopay's career was over by 1978, toiling in the Minors that season and closing out a sporadic seven year career that began with brief time with the Yankees in 1967 & 1969 before playing out the last five seasons with the Orioles.
He finished his career with a .201 average, three home runs and 20 R.B.I.'s, with 40 runs scored and 62 hits in 309 at-bats.
Just one of those "ghosts" of 1970's baseball that makes this blog possible!

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Hey everyone,
Trivia time.
This week we'll look at catchers and their offensive output during the decade.
See what you can come up with. Answers will be posted tomorrow…

  1. What catcher posted the highest batting average in a season during the decade?
  2. What catcher stole the most bases in a season during the 1970's?
  3. What catcher posted the highest On-Base-Percentage in any one season during the decade?
  4. Who was the only catcher to hit 40 or more doubles in a season during the '70's?
  5. Who was the only catcher to hit 10 or more triples in a season during the decade?


Ted Simmons, Cardinals. .332 in 1975!

John Stearns, Mets. He stole 25 bases in 1978!

Dick Dietz, Giants. He had an OBP of .426 in 1970.

Ted Simmons, who hit 40 in 1978.
5. Darrell Porter, Royals. He hit 10 in 1979.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Today's "Super Veteran" is none other than all-time great Frank Robinson.
Take a look at my card design:

Even though I could have easily used a 1976 card format (since he should have had a card in that set), I went with what was his last "official" player card set, 1975.
By the time the '75 season opened, as we all know, he was the Cleveland Indians player-manager, very significant since he was the first African-American manager in baseball's long history.
He was also established as one of the game's greatest players, well on his way to the Hall of Fame along with his contemporaries like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente.
It's easy to forget that at the time of his retirement as a player, Robinson was fourth all-time in home runs with 586, only behind Aaron, Ruth and Mays.
He also did something that would be unheard of in this day and age when it comes to "magic numbers": he retired just short of 3000 hits, with 2943.
These days, unless you are pretty much forced out of the game under a dark cloud (see Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez), that's just not happening. The player will stick it out to get that 3000th.
He also had over 1800 runs scored and runs batted in, just monster numbers from a monster of a player.
A Rookie of the Year in 1956, two-time Most Valuable Player (1961 & 1966), and Triple Crown winner (1966), he finally had his Cooperstown day in 1982, getting named to 370 of 415 ballots.
How he was NOT named on the other 45 is beyond me.
But that's something for another day…

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Let's go and give Baltimore pitching great Jim Palmer an "In Action" card in the 1972 Topps set:

Palmer was coming into his own around this time, well on his way to Hall of Fame induction with six 20-win seasons, three Cy Young Awards and some really unsettling Jockey ad campaigns ;)
It's still amazing to see that between 1969 and 1978, he posted a sub-3.00 earned run average nine of those ten years!
If not for his missed 1968 season along with added time on the D.L. in 1967, he would have easily been a 300 game winner.
But I guess that's just the stat geek in me. Didn't hinder his eventual legendary status.

Monday, September 8, 2014


As I have stated earlier on this blog, you can NEVER have enough Tom Seaver cards in my mind, so today I present my next card in the "Nicknames of the '70's" series: "Tom Terrific":

I designed this card as part of the 1974 set, as Seaver was at the height of his pitching brilliance.
Just off of his second World Series with the New York Mets, Seaver also won his second Cy Young Award in '73, and would tack on another in 1975.
By the time "Tom Terrific" was done, he'd post 311 wins, 3640 strikeouts, and about as close to a unanimous Hall of Fame induction as we ever got, being named to 425 of 430 ballots in 1992.
"Terrific" indeed!
I can still hear the wails of angst from Mets fans when Seaver was traded to the Cincinnati Reds 37 years ago!

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Here's another one of those cards that has you scratching your head, trying to understand why Topps even bothered: the 1978 Oscar Zamora card.
Take a look:

The guy didn't even pitch in the Major Leagues in 1977, as he last pitched for the Chicago Cubs in '75, going 5-3 with a 5.24 earned run average over 40 games.
Why Topps decided to give him a slot in the awesome 1978 set, even going so far as to airbrush his photo, is beyond me.
Too bad they didn't feel the need to give a card to a guy like Ozzie Smith or Brooks Robinson, the beginning of one amazing career, or the end of another.
As it was, Zamora ended up pitching in 10 games for Houston, going 0-0 with a 7.20 E.R.A. in 15 innings.
And that my friends, was the last he saw big league action, toiling in the Minors up until 1982 before hanging them up for good.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Just one of those things I caught as I was going through cards.
Check out the 1972 Topps Luke Walker card:

I noticed the player in the background on the left of the card, number 48, and decided to look him up and see who he was.
Turns out it was Rimp Lanier, a player who had a total Major League career of six games and five plater appearances in September of 1971, never to be seen again.
Kind of cool that he somehow made it onto a card, even IF it was in the background.
He went 0-4 with a strikeout and a hit-by-pitch during his call-up, and pinch ran once, before settling back into the Minor Leagues for the next couple of years.
By the time he was 24 he was out of professional ball for good.
Love spotting stuff like this all these years later!

Friday, September 5, 2014


My next "super veteran" profiled for the "Then and Now" series is the long-time teammate and fellow Hall of Famer of my last subject (Billy Williams), "Mr. Cub" himself, Ernie Banks.
Take a look at my card design:

He was smiling back on his 1954 Topps rookie, and he kept on smiling all the way to the Hall of Fame as one of the most beloved players of all-time.
512 home runs, two Most Valuable Player Awards, 11 All-Star games, and the face of one of the longest running organizations in the Major Leagues.
How can anyone NOT love this guy!?
An all-time baseball legend by anyone's standards…

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Hey everyone...
Trivia time again, and this week we'll focus on team pitching performances during the decade.
I'll post the answers tomorrow. Good luck!

  1. What team posted the lowest combined E.R.A. for a complete season during the decade?
  2. What team posted the highest team E.R.A. for a full season during the '70's?
  3. What team posted the most strikeouts over a full season during the decade?
  4. Conversely, what team struck out the fewest batters over the course of a season during the decade?
  5. What team had the most complete games during a season?
  6. What team had the fewest saves over a full season during the decade?


The 1972 Orioles with an amazing 2.54 team earned run average!

The 1977 Braves, with a 4.87 team earned run average!

The 1971 Mets, with 1157 strikeouts.

The 1978 Brewers, who struck out only 577 batters.
5. The 1971 Cubs, with 75.
6. The 1979 Blue Jays, with only 11 saves the whole year!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Here's a card that really "should have been": a 1974 Topps card for power-pitcher Bob Veale.
Take a look at my design:

Curious as to why Topps didn't include him in their 1974 set, as Veale posted a 2-3 record with 11 saves for the BoSox over the course of 32 games and 36.1 innings.
He even went on to pitch for Boston in 1974, his last year in the Major Leagues. So it wasn't like he retired at the end of the '73 season and Topps knew about it.
Veale was one of those power arms that the National League was blessed with in the 1960's, even topping the Senior League with 250 K's in 1964.
A year later he'd strike out 276 batters, and would have another two season with 200+ strikeouts while throwing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the only other team he'd pitch for in his 13-year career.
He'd retire with a tidy 120-95 record, with a 3.07 earned run average and 1703 K's with 20 shutouts.
Between 1964 and 1970 Veale was a very solid Major League starter, averaging 15 wins and 213 strikeouts over those seven years, easily keeping pace with contemporaries like Don Drysdale, Jim Bunning and Jim Maloney.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


You'd think that Topps would give an "In Action" card in their 1972 set to the reigning American League batting champ!
Oh well, then allow me to show my design for a Tony Oliva "in action" specimen here:

Oliva was coming off of his third batting title, hitting .337 with 22 homers and 107 runs batted in.
He also lead the league with a .546 slugging percentage, getting named to his eighth straight all-star game.
Really is a shame injuries slowed down a sure path to the Hall of Fame.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Here's a nickname I grew up with being a Yankee fan in the late-70's/early 80's, "Goose" for  Yankee reliever Rich Gossage, one of my favorite players as a kid.
Check out my card:

I designed his nickname-card in the style of a 1979 Topps card since he really started making a name for himself in '78/'79, especially as the wild reliever who "took over" for recent Cy Young winner Sparky Lyle, leading to one of baseball's best quips of the time: "You went from Cy Young to sayonara", voiced by third baseman Graig Nettles.
Gossage was a true character of the game. He was all legs and arms whipping near-100 mile-per-hour fastballs while sporting that trademark 'stache, closing out games for those "Bronx Zoo" teams I loved so much.
He spent six years in the Bronx, and never had an E.R.A. over 2.62, even sporting a microscopic 0.77 in 1981!
He also led the league in saves twice while wearing pinstripes, as well as getting named to three all-star teams.
In 1978, 1980 and 1981 he'd also finish in the top-5 in Cy Young voting, in addition to getting some M.V.P. attention.
Around the school-yard I literally spent most of my childhood in, the nickname "Goose" was taken by so many kids it was ridiculous. We all loved that "crazy dude" who looked as mean as any biker.
By the time he was done, Gossage put in a 22 year career that landed him in the Hall of Fame, being inducted in 2008.
He was also given a plaque out in Yankee Stadium this year (to which I am a bit puzzled by), cementing his Yankee legend for all to look back on.
The "Goose", a real wild-man of a closer…


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