Saturday, January 31, 2015


As a kid collecting cards feverishly in the late-70's, I was always mesmerized by turning to the back and seeing a player's career begin in the 1950's.
Today's "Then and Now" subject is one of those players: Ron Fairly.
Check out my card celebrating his long career:

Fairly put in 21 years in the Major Leagues, most of them with the Los Angeles Dodgers (11+ seasons), and the Montreal Expos (5+ seasons).
But he also put in some time with the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's, Toronto Blue Jays and California Angels.
By the time he retired after the 1978 season he collected just under 2000 hits, 215 home runs, 1044 runs batted in and a .266 batting average over 2442 games and 7184 at-bats.
Over those years he won three World Championships, all with the Dodgers: 1959, 1963 and 1965.
A nice career overall.
Guys like Fairly, Tim McCarver and Willie McCovey always had me glued to the backs of their cards, staring at "the 1950's" nestled into the small print because of their long careers.
It's really what got be hooked into hunting down cards from the "Golden Years" of baseball, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and the Giants were up in Manhattan.
For a kid in New York it was awesome...

Friday, January 30, 2015


Let's go and give another future Hall of Fame player a "missing" In Action card in the 1972 set: the "Baby Bull" Orlando Cepeda.
Check it out:

Cepeda wasn't quite finished with his excellent 17-year career by 1972, as he'd have a nice comeback year as a full-time designated hitter for the Red Sox in 1973, but his all-star days were behind him by this point.
Between 1972 and 1974 he'd play for four organizations (Braves, A's, Red Sox and Royals), but nevertheless he'd retire with over 2300 hits, 1100 runs scored, 375 home runs, 1300 runs batted in and a nice .297 batting average.
A seven time all-star, he was both a Rookie of the Year in 1958 and a Most valuable Player in 1967.
He had to wait a while for Cooperstown to let him into their hallowed doors, as he wasn't elected by the BBWA during his 15 years of eligibility.
It wasn't until the Veteran's Committee elected him in 1999 that he would join former Giants teammates Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal (among others) in upstate New York as a certified baseball "legend".

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Here's something I should have done a while ago with the weekly quiz: base it on baseball cards from the decade!
Take a stab and see how many you can get.
Answers will be posted tomorrow.

  1. What American League shortstop was supposed to be shown as an "all-star" in the 1979 Topps set, but wasn't?
  2. What American league outfielder was supposed to be shown as an "all-star" in the 1978 set, but for some reason wasn't?
  3. In 1976, Topps had two players shown as "N.L. All-Star" for third base. Who were they?
  4. In the 1975 set, there's an American League outfielder missing in the "all-star" line-up of cards. Who was it?
  5. Can you name the FIVE Cincinnati Reds who were "all-stars" in the 1977 set?

1. Freddie Patek, Royals.

2. Richie Zisk.

3. Pete Rose and Ron Cey.

4. Reggie Jackson, A's.

5. Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, George Foster and Dave Concepcion.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Here's a nickname card for one of those characters of the day, Luis Tiant, aka "El Tiante".
Take a look at my card design:

I decided on a 1975 template for him since he was in the middle of a resurgence at the time, and was on his way to a World Series with the Red Sox.
With his career seemingly done in 1970/71, Tiant found himself in Boston and immediately was back in form, leading the American League in earned run average with a sterling 1.91 in 1972 along with six shutouts in only 19 starts.
In three of the next four seasons he'd top 20 wins, and was on his way to a solid, if not arguably Hall-worthy 19-year career, retiring after the 1982 season after pitching in six games with the California Angels.
By that time he fashioned a 229-172 record, with a 3.30 E.R.A., 49 shutouts and 2416 strikeouts, with two seasons of sub-2.00 E.R.A., four 20-win campaigns as well as three 200+ strikeout years.
As a kid in Brooklyn, New York in the late 70's I remember him with the Yankees, and always thought he looked like some cool granpa who was always cracking jokes. In other words, I loved him!
After getting 30.9% support in his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1988, he never got close again to those numbers, topping out at 18.0% in his final year of eligibility in 2002.
But it's easy to say that "El Tiante" definitely left his mark on the game during his time on the mound!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The newest edition to the "1976 Project", as I like to refer to the series I am producing for "Reader Jim", is former pitcher Wayne Simpson, who I will admit played sparingly in 1975 for the Philadelphia Phillies, so Topps' omission of him in their set the following year is understood, but I felt was still a valid card to design.
Check out the card:

Simpson pitched in only seven games for the Phillies, five of them starts, totaling 30.2 innings of work. He posted a 1-0 record with a respectable 3.23 earned run average.
He missed the previous year after playing for the Kansas City Royals in 1973, and would actually miss all of 1976 before making a bit of a "comeback" with the California Angels in 1977 (see my 1978 "Missing in Action" card for him by clicking on his name on the right under "Labels").
Simpson came up with an absolute "BANG" in 1970, going 14-3 with a 3.02 E.R.A., two shutouts and 10 complete games in 24 starts with the Cincinnati Reds, finishing fourth in Rookie of the Year voting.
But arm injuries derailed his career, and he never reached those heights again before leaving the game after posting a 6-12 record for the Angels in 1977.
Normally I would not be designing a card for a guy who only appeared in seven games the previous year, but with "Reader Jim's" completist mission for the 1976 set, which happens to be my all-time favorite, I am always down to design more cards in the 1976 template. It's just a matter of finding the suitable images of the players themselves.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Here's a "missing" card for an interesting figure in baseball history: a 1972 Topps card for former "Bonus Baby" Rick Reichardt.
Check out my card design:

For those of you who don't know, Reichardt is the reason Major League baseball came up with the amateur draft in 1965 after a crazy bidding war ensued the year before for Reichardt's services, leading the Los Angeles Angels to eventually "win" out and signing him for $200,000 then (over $1.5 million today).
Reichardt was a two-sport star in college, playing both baseball and football for the University of Wisconsin, twice leading the Big-10 in batting and excelling as a fullback for the eventual #2 ranked football team in 1962.
However, as we've seen so many times before and since, injuries took their toll on his career, and although he had some decent years as a big leaguer, he could never become the star everyone thought they'd see when he came up.
After hitting 16 homers with a .288 average in only 89 games in 1966, he came back in 1967 with 17 homers, 69 runs batted in and a .265 average, followed by 21 homers, 73 R.B.I.'s and a .255 average in 1968.
In 1970 he was traded to the Washington Senators where he posted similar numbers both that year and the next, but further injuries kept him from full-time play, leading to his career coming to a close in 1974 after only one at-bat with Kansas City, where he played most of 1973.
I don't know why Topps left him out of his card sets in 1972, 1973 and 1974 since he did play enough for card appearances, especially since he does have a special place of sorts in baseball lore.
Perhaps (as with some other guys back then) he didn't want to be on a card or had contractual issues with Topps?
Who knows? But I will also be designing those "missing" cards as well in the near future.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Here's a quick post regarding former infielder Bill Stein and his 1976 and 1977 Topps cards.
I always get a kick out of images Topps blatantly used more than once, especially in consecutive years, like they did here:


In this case the guys at Topps closed in on the photo while airbrushing Stein into a Seattle Mariners uni (notice the great logo on the cap!).
For some reason Topps decided that Stein was a second baseman in 1976 and a third baseman in 1977, even though he played equal amounts both years for both positions. 
Stein did manage to forge a decent 14-year Major League career for himself between 1972 and 1985, playing in 959 games with 2811 at-bats while playing the infield and outfield.
His finest season could arguably be the inaugural Mariners year of 1977 when he hit .259 with 13 home runs and 67 runs batted in, along with 53 runs scored and 26 doubles in 151 games as the Mariners very first full-time third baseman.
It would actually be the only season where he played full-time, generally relegated to platoon status throughout his big league career.
I'll be looking at a few more cards that fall into this practice by Topps, so if you're into this type of stuff keep an eye out for it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Wow, I was so wrapped up in my weekend chores I just found out that all-time baseball legend Ernie Banks, "Mr. Cub" passed away yesterday at the age of 83.
An amazing man, an amazing athlete, and an amazing personality that made life for the rest of us that much better.
What more can you say about a person that was able to do something like that?
Just an incredible person that will be sorely missed.
Rest in Peace Sir...
This one really hurts...


Here we have the next player selected for the Hall of Fame in the 1970's by Frankie Frisch and his cronies, Chick Hafey in 1971.
Take a look at my card design:

Yet another somewhat controversial pick for the Hall by the Veteran's Committee, Hafey really leaves everyone scratching their heads based on his 13-year career, of which only SIX were really as a full-time player!
Seriously, even though he won the National league batting title in 1931 with a .349 average, Hafey's career was "solid" at best, posting a career .317 average with 1466 hits, 341 doubles, 67 triples, 777 runs scored and 833 runs batted in. He never even reached 5000 career at-bats!
Go ahead and check out his stats. No disrespect to Hafey and his accomplishments, but man, you really have to wonder how a Dave Parker, Vada Pinson, Dick Allen, Steve Garvey et al are NOT enshrined while the Hafey's, Haines, Bancrofts, etc are.
Heck, I'd even enshrine "Indian Bob" Johnson before any of these guys!
And believe me we are not done with the Veteran's Committee's questionable picks of the early-1970's yet.
Keep an eye out for the other Frisch-led inductees coming up shortly…ugh

Friday, January 23, 2015


Next up in my "Nicknames of the 70's" thread is that monster of a player of the era: Dave Parker, aka "Cobra".
Check out my card design:

I used the 1978 format since he was at the prime of his career, winning two batting titles (1977 & 1978), an M.V.P. that very year, and a World Championship the following year.
He's often fond of saying (and I totally agree) that he and Dave Winfield changed the "face" of the athletic "big guy" outfielders when they both came up in the middle of the decade.
An all-around super-star, Parker hit for average, for power, had a cannon for an arm, and would even steal some bases if needed.
By the time he retired after the 1991 season, a nice 19-year career, he posted over 2700 hits, 1200 runs scored, 500 doubles, almost 1500 runs batted in, 339 home runs and over 150 stolen bases!
He was a seven-time all-star who also finished in the top-10 in M.V.P. voting six times, with three Gold Gloves thrown in for good measure.
The fact that Dave Parker never garnered more than 24.5% of the BBWA Hall of Fame vote (1998) before becoming ineligible in 2011 is just criminal in my eyes.
This man should be in the Hall of Fame. Plain and simple!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Let's go and revisit my trivia #7 from July of 2013. See what answers you can get.
I'll post them up tomorrow as usual.

1. Who was the only player in the decade to post consecutive 40+ homer seasons?

2. Four players made their debut in the 70's who went on to play into the 00's. Who are they?

3. Which player became the first to be born in the 1960's to appear in an MLB game?

4. Who set the record at the time for saves with 38 in 1973?

5. Besides Nolan Ryan, who was the only other pitcher to post consecutive 300+ strikeout seasons in the decade?


1. George Foster: 1977-78.

2. Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Mike Morgan and Jesse Orosco.

3. Tim Conroy: Born April, 3, 1960 and debuted on June 23, 1978.

4. John Hiller, Detroit Tigers. This record stood until 1983 when Dan Quisenberry saved 45.

5. J.R. Richard, who posted 300+ strikeout seasons in 1978 and 1979.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Here's a missing 1972 "In Action" card for future Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, who was just starting out his excellent Major League career:

Blyleven just put in his first true full season in 1971 after a solid rookie year the season before, posting a 16-15 record with a 2.81 earned run average and 224 strikeouts.
Turns out it would be the first of six consecutive 200+ strikeout seasons, as well as eight consecutive years of a sub-3.03 E.R.A.
By the time he retired after the 1992 season, he stood at 287-250, with a 3.31 E.R.A., 60 shutouts and 3701 strikeouts over 692 games, 685 of which were starts.
Often overshadowed during the pitching-rich 1970's by guys like Seaver, Carlton and Palmer, Blyleven would have to wait until his 14th year of Cooperstown eligibility before being voted in by the BBWA in 2011.
I just always loved the guy for his pranks, his outspoken personality and the fact that when I was a kid I was mesmerized by the fact that he was born in Holland, something which was unique on the back of a baseball card.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


You just can't make this stuff up...
So I'm trolling around Ebay today for ideas on future posts, and suddenly come across a "card that never was" that was CREATED BY ME for sale, a 1975 Topps Hunter card as a Yankee!
I'm cool with people using some of my designs for personal reasons, but come on man!


I also saw many cards designed by other bloggers being sold by this guy!
Just B.S.
If it's so important just go and design your own cards ok?
Creating cards for entertainment is one thing. But to go and sell someone else's designs on Ebay is just plain wrong.
Not that I would have said "yes", but to not even be asked first makes it even more frustrating!
Once again: please DO NOT use my card designs without permission to make yourself a quick buck ok?
This blog is solely for entertainment purposes, and is not meant to be a vehicle for card "production" or sales for me or ANYBODY ELSE!


I just couldn't let a "Highlights from the '70s" series go by without throwing in one of MY all-time highlights: the 1978 Yankees comeback, and eventual championship.
Check out my 1979 card design celebrating that feat:

Would you believe that I could NOT find a suitable color-version of the moment Bucky hit the home run off Mike Torrez?!
There were a ton of black and white images, but no color, so I found this great image of Dent as he crossed home plate, being greeted by Chris Chambliss and Roy White.
Just look at the priceless look on Carlton Fisk's face, as well as Mickey Rivers (hidden behind the "#163" call-out).
Needless to say, for about a year after that Dent homer, every kid in the schoolyard was "Bucky Dent" when up at-bat.
Truly the height of the "Bronx Zoo" days at the Stadium, you had a Reggie Jackson suspension, the famous Jackson-Billy martin scuffle in the dugout, Martin resigning in mid-season with Bob Lemon taking over the helm, the introduction to us NYC kids to a character named "Goose" which led to one of my favorite quotes of the era "You went from Cy Young to sayonara" (Google it if you don't remember) and of course "Louisiana Lightning" Ron Guidry having a season for the ages, going 25-3 with a 1.74 E.R.A. and 248 strikeouts with nine shutouts, winning the Cy Young Award unanimously while being ripped-off the M.V.P. (I'm STILL holding on to that one).

Monday, January 19, 2015


Sometimes, as I explained with my 1972 Dean Chance Detroit Tigers card, there just isn't a photo available to execute a card you want to design, so you have to resort to Photoshop.
And for a 1976 Jim Perry "Career Capper" that also doubles as a "Missing in Action", that's exactly what I did.
Check it out:

Through the wonderful world of design software I pieced together a "decent" Jim Perry image of him at the end of his career, in an Oakland A's uniform.
There were a bunch of black-and-white images out there, but nothing as far as color.
Eh, not bad, but I'll still be on the lookout for a REAL image in the future.
I used a 1975 A's card as the foundation for this Perry edition, while using a shot of Perry from 1974.
For Perry "the elder" (brother of Gaylord), he was closing out a fine 17-year career by appearing in 15 games for the A's, 11 of which were starts. He even threw a shutout on his way to a 3-4 record after starting the season 1-6 with the Cleveland Indians.
Overall in 1975, the 39-year old went 4-10 with a 5.38 earned run average over 23 games and 105.1 innings.
For his career, Perry didn't match his brother's Hall of Fame numbers, but they were nothing to sneeze at: a 215-174 record with a 3.45 E.R.A., 32 shutouts and 1576 strikeouts over 630 games (447 of them starts) and 3285.2 innings pitched.
He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1959, and took home the American League Cy Young Award in 1970 after going 24-12 for the Minnesota Twins.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Today we give fellow Bensonhurst, Brooklyn native Joe Torre a "Then and Now" card as part of the 1977 set.
Check it out:

By the 1977 season Torre was a Player-Manager (remember those?) for the New York Mets after a distinguished career playing for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.
By the time the 1978 season opened, Torre became a full-time manager, thus ending a rock-solid 18-year career that saw him finish second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1961, and win a Most Valuable Player Award in 1971.
It's easy to forget that Torre's career was so good for some reason.
A nine-time all-star, Torre excelled while catching, playing third base, and even first base over his Major League tenure.
Of course the 1971 season was his high-point, leading the league in batting (.363), hits (230), total bases (352) and runs batted in (137).
But the guy also topped 200 hits the year before, hit more than 20 homers in a season six times, drove in over 100 five times and batted .300 or better five times.
By the time he hung up the playing cleats, Torre retired with: 996 runs scored, 2342 hits, 252 homers, 1185 R.B.I.'s and a nice .297 batting average.
But it was his post-playing career that got him inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 by the Veteran's Committee.
As a manager over the course of 29 seasons for the Mets, Braves, Cardinals, Yankees and Dodgers, Torre won 2326 games and took home six pennants and four world championships.
Not bad for a kid from the neighborhood!

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Here's a "missing" New York Met for you Mets fans out there: a 1974 John Strohmayer.
Check it out:

After about three and a half years with the Montreal Expos, Strohmayer was selected off waivers by the Mets in July of 1973 and appeared in seven games, good for 10 innings before the year was up.
For the year he appeared in 24 games and 44.2 innings between the two organizations, so I figured he'd get a 1974 card for his efforts.
In 1974 however, he appeared in one game for the Mets, pitching one inning, never to appear in another Major League game again.
Over those five years between 1970 and 1974, Strohmayer went 11-9 with a 4.47 earned run average in 143 games, 18 of which were starts.
As an aside, here's something I don't get to post everyday: seems Strohmayer was one of 15 employees of the Gateway Unified School District to share a $76 Million lottery jackpot in 2009!
Good for you John! We should all be so lucky!

Friday, January 16, 2015


Here's one of those Hall of Fame players that you can easily forget about, partly due to the fact that he played the bulk of his career in the late-1890's, yet when you look over his stats you'll see some SERIOUS numbers: former first baseman Jake Beckley:

Inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1971 by the Veteran's Committee, Beckley was no "questionable" pick like some of the past few I've profiled here on my "Hall of Fame" thread.
"Eagle Eye", as he was nicknamed, was one of the best first-sackers the game ever saw in it's early years.
Over the course of 20-years in the Major Leagues between 1888 and 1907 playing for the Pirates, Giants, Reds and Cardinals, Beckley amassed almost 3000-hits (2934), scored over 1600 runs (1604), drove in over 1500 runs (1578), and slapped almost 250 career triples (244)!
A career .308 hitter, Beckley also totaled 473 doubles and 315 stolen bases in 2389 games and 9538 at-bats while hitting 87 home runs, which was a very nice number in those days.
At the time of his retirement he played more games at first than anyone, and STILL ranks second all-time behind fellow Hall of Fame player Eddie Murray (2389 to 2413)!
He's also #1 in career putouts at first base to this day with 23,731 and led his league in the category six times.
Like I said, some serious baseball numbers for the guy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Today's trivia revisits "Trivia #6" from July 11th, 2013. See if you remember any of the answers before I post them up tomorrow, as usual.

 1. During the decade of the '70's, two teams had the top two vote-getters for M.V.P. in a season. One in the A.L. and one in the N.L. What teams and players were they, and in which seasons?

2. Believe it or not, the first World Series night game ever played was during the 1970's. Which World Series introduced night ball to the Fall Classic?

3. Only one STARTING pitcher won the Cy Young Award for either league during the decade without winning 20 or more games. Who was he and in what season did he accomplish this?

4. Oddly enough, there were only TWO pitchers who won their league Cy Young Awards with an E.R.A. above 3.00, and they both happened during the same season. Which season was this and who were the pitchers?

5. Who was the only American League player to fashion a hitting streak of 30 or more games during the decade?


1. 1971 A's (Vida Blue; Sal Bando) and 1976 Reds (Joe Morgan; George Foster).

2. 1971 Pirates and Orioles, Game Four.

3. Tom Seaver, 1973. He sported a 19-10 record with a 2.08 E.R.A. and 251 strike outs.

4. 1970: Bob Gibson (3.12) in the N.L. and Jim Perry ( 3.04) in the A.L.

5. Ron Leflore, 1975-1976. He had a 31-game streak spanning the two seasons.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Longtime Los Angeles Dodger third baseman Ron Cey get's today's "Nicknames of the '70s" entry for HIS nom-de-plume "Penguin".
Check it out:

I used the 1976 format since he was at the height of his game then, starting the All-Star game in '74, '75 and '77.
Part of the Dodger infield that played and stayed together for so many years (Cey, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Bill Russell), Cey put together an excellent 17-year career between 1971 and 1987.
In 1977 he teamed up with Garvey, Reggie Smith and Dusty Baker to become the first teammate foursome to slam 30+ homers in the same season, and he'd enjoy four trips to the World Series (1974, 1977, 1978 and 1981), with a Championship in 1981, helping the Dodgers finally beat the Yankees after losses in '77 and '78.
In 1983 he found himself as a member of the Chicago Cubs, and helped lead them to their first postseason berth in almost 40 years a year later, posting solid numbers as a seasoned veteran: 25-homers and 97-R.B.I.'s.
By the time he retired after the 1987 season as a member of the Oakland A's, he clubbed 316 home runs, collected 1139 runs batted in and scored 977 runs on 1868 hits over 2073 games.
A six-time all-star, Cey also collected M.V.P. votes in five seasons: 1974-1977, and 1984.
I tell you, as a kid watching him play he seemed so much shorter than 5'10"! But for some reason I always liked the guy as a player even though I didn't know much about him.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Up next in my ongoing "1976 Project" is a card of former Yankee infielder Gene Michael, this time as a Detroit Tiger player.
Check it out:

"Stick" played seven of his ten seasons for the Yankees, and eventually moved to managerial and front office capacities for George Steinbrenner later in his life.
But in 1975 he found himself in Detroit, and played in 56 games, good for 158 plate appearances while manning the infield, mainly shortstop.
I think that warrants a card for the guy in the 1976 set, don't you?
Consistent to the end, Michael hit .214 in Motown, with 15 runs scored, two doubles, three homers and 13 runs batted in among his 31 hits.
A light-hitting midfielder, Michael was one of those players (like Horace Clarke, Mel Stottlemyre, etc) that played for the Yankees during their "dark years" between 1965 and 1975. 
But later on he found much more success as a general manager for the Yankees, often being credited as one of the architects of the Yankees dynasty teams of the late-1990's/early-00's, thanks in large part to owner George Steinbrenner being suspended from any MLB activities for a few years, freeing Michael from any "meddling" by "King George".
Hey, whatever it takes!
Look for a "Stick" nickname card for Michael in the not-so-distant future!

Monday, January 12, 2015


Here's a 1975 "Traded" card for former Baltimore Orioles slugger Boog Powell, who was traded to the Cleveland Indians in February of '75, thus having Topps issue a card for him still shown as an oriole.
Take a look at my design:

Dig those funky mid-70's Indians duds!
The former 1970 American League Most Valuable Player was nearing the end of his career by then, eventually retiring after 50 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977 (I hear a "Career Capper" card for him in the near future!).
He spent the first 14 years of his 17-year career with Baltimore, putting up some solid numbers: four 30+ homer seasons, three 100-R.B.I. years, four all-star selections and two other top-3 M.V.P. finishes besides the year he took the award home.
He also won two World Championships with the "O's", in 1966 when they surprisingly swept the defending champ Dodgers, and in 1970 when they beat the Reds.
He spent two years with the Tribe, and 1975 put in a really good year, hitting 27 homers with 86 runs batted in, 64 runs scored and a .297 average.
But by 1976 his performance dropped off dramatically, hitting only .215 with nine homers and 33 R.B.I.'s in only 95 games.
All told, Boog hit 339 home runs in his career, with 1187 r.b.i.'s, 889 runs scored and a .266 average over 2042 games.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Let's give a terribly underrated player an "In Action" card in the 1972 set: Vada Pinson.
Take a look at the nice photo I came across:

I'm really digging the way this card came out!
And I am always a sucker for a famous "photobomb", in this case future Hall of Famer and former teammate of Pinson while on the Reds, Frank Robinson.
Pinson was playing in his first season with the California Angels in 1972 after two seasons in Cleveland.
After playing for the Angels for two years he'd move on to the Kansas City Royals until the end of the 1975 season, retiring with over 2700 hits, 1350 runs scored, 485 doubles, 127 triples, 250 homers 1150 runs batted in and 300 stolen bases.
Think of those numbers folks. Awesome.
He posted four 200+ hit seasons, seven 20+ homer seasons, two 100-R.B.I. seasons, four 100-runs seasons, five 10+ triples seasons, seven 30+ doubles seasons and nine 20+ stolen base seasons!
He could do it all, and yet seems to have been terribly ignored through the years after his retirement, especially for Hall of Fame induction. 
The best tally he ever got in that regard was 15.7% in 1988, and ran out of eligibility in 1996.
I don't know how many of you feel out there, but Vada Pinson was an amazing player and should have gotten a bit more respect for induction, don't you think?

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Allow me to give some props to a great airbrushing job for the "age of the airbrush", the 1977 Doyle Alexander card issued by Topps:

I have to say that is some dedicated airbrush work!
The striping, the "xes" on the front of the jersey, the shadowing, just excellent work that makes you look twice to be sure it's in fact airbrushed.
While I'm always quick to bash a terrible job by the contracted artists Topps used to do this things, it's nice to hold one up and applaud a great job every once in a while!
Anyone out there have a favorite airbrush card? That is, one that is a good job, NOT a favorite for comical reasons?!
As for Alexander, the shot looks to be in Yankee Stadium, where he spent the second half of 1976 pitching for the Yanks after coming over from Baltimore.
He pitched well, going 10-5 with the Bronx Bombers, 13-9 overall, before moving on to the Rangers where he'd be even better in 1977, posting a 17-11 record.
He'd stick around for a while, eventually retiring after the 1989 season, 19-years overall on Major League mounds, finishing with a 194-174 record over 561 games, 464 of which were starts.
I'll always remember that run he had after being acquired by the Detroit Tigers in 1987 (for John Smoltz nonetheless!), where he went 9-0 with a 1.53 E.R.A. and three shutouts, helping the Tigers make the playoffs.
I'll also remember how he beat the Yanks on the second to last day of the 1985 season, clinching the playoffs for the Blue Jays (eliminating the Yankees), a day before Phil Niekro won his 300th career game to close out the year.

Friday, January 9, 2015


You'd think someone who appeared in 105 games and collected over 200 at-bats might find a spot in Topps set the following year.
But apparently there wasn't any room for former outfielder Dave May. So allow me to post my design for the "missing" card:

Even though May would be a Texas Ranger by the time the 1977 season opened, I decided to have him as an Atlanta Braves player since he had so much playing time for them in '76, and well, since I found such a sweet shot of him from that period.
May posted a .215 batting average that season, going 46 for 214 with 27 runs scored and 23 runs batted in while playing left and right field.
He did carve out a decent 12-year career for himself in the big leagues, playing for the Orioles, Brewers, Braves Rangers and Pirates before retiring after the 1978 season.
His best year was easily the 1973 campaign while with the Brewers. He not only was named to the all-star game for the only time in his career, but finished in 8th-place in M.V.P. voting as well.
That season May hit .303 with 189 hits, 96 runs scored, 23 doubles and 25 home runs and 93 R.B.I.'s.
He also led the American League in total bases with 295 while finishing second in hits, 6th in runs scored and 9th in runs batted in.
Lastly, in 1990 his son, Derrick made his Major League debut for the Chicago Cubs and played through the 1999 season as an outfielder as well.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Today's trivia revisits "Trivia #5" from 2013. See if you remember any of the answers.
I'll post them up tomorrow, as usual.

1. Who was the only M.V.P. in the decade that was an overall #1 draft pick?

2. From 1972 thru 1979 Nolan Ryan lead the A.L. In strikeouts in all but one season. Who lead the league in K's that one season?

3. What pitcher had an astounding 44 decisions out of his 49 game appearances, leading to a 24-20 record?

4. Surprisingly, during the "Big Red Machine's" two-year domination of baseball in 1975/76, their pitcher with the most combined wins for both years tallied only 30 victories. Who was he?

5. Three times in the decade, an American League slugger lead the circuit in homers with 32, the lowest output between 1970-79. Who were the three players?


1. Jeff Burroughs: 1969 #1 Pick; 1974 A.L. M.V.P.

2. Frank Tanana, 1975

3. Wilbur Wood, 1973.

4. Gary Nolan, 15-9 in both 1975 and 1976.

5. Reggie Jackson, 1973; Dick Allen, 1974 and Graig Nettles, 1976.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Here's the next Hall of Fame inductee on the chronological list of 1970's honorees, former shortstop Dave Bancroft, inducted by the Veteran's Committee in 1971:

I decided to keep the elements from my 1970-inductees and carry them over to the rest of the "Hall of Fame" subjects through the decade to keep some continuity for the virtual-set, since I do think of them as a constant of sorts even though they would have been spread over ten years.
As for Bancroft, he was definitely one of the "questionable" picks by the Veteran's Committee (along with Jesse Haines) at the turn of the decade that are still hotly debated to this day.
A Major League standout for 16 years, he played for the Phillies, Giants, Braves and Dodgers between 1915 and 1930, and totaled over 1000 runs scored, 2000 hits, and a .279 batting average.
The high point of his career was easily 1922 while with the New York Giants when he batted .321 with 209 hits, 117 runs scored, 41 doubles, five triples and four homers on his way to a World Championship over the New York Yankees.
He even set the Major League record for chances at shortstop that year with 984, while also leading the league in putouts.
Nevertheless, by the time he was eligible for Hall of Fame induction in 1937, he never garnered more than 16.2% of the vote (1958), before falling off the ballot until his name came up through selection by the Veteran's Committee.
Some say conveniently enough, the Committee at the time had Frankie Frisch and Bill Terry on board, and in a period of a few years managed to persuade induction for a number of former teammates, most of whom are considered the "weakest" Hall members to this day: Haines, Chick Hafey, Ross Youngs, George Kelly, Jim Bottomley and Freddie Lindstrom.
Interesting read for anyone interested in the subject would be Bill James' book "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame".

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


The next card in my "Nicknames of the '70s" sub-set is a 1973 specimen of "Lefty" Steve Carlton.
Check it out:

I used the 1973 format because, although already an effective pitcher before he landed in Philadelphia in 1972, Carlton exploded onto the baseball superstar scene when he posted a 27-10 record with 310 strikeouts and a 1.97 earned run average, winning the pitching Triple Crown, all for a last place team!
From then on he just pitched himself straight to the Hall of Fame, winning 329 lifetime games, with 55 shutouts, a 3.22 E.R.A. and 4146 strikeouts.
He was also named to 10 all-star teams and was the first pitcher to win four Cy Young Awards: 1972, 1977, 1980 and 1982.
Throw in six 20-win seasons, eight sub-2.00 E.R.A. seasons, and eight 200+ strikeout seasons, and you see why he was named on 436 of 456 ballots when Cooperstown came calling.
"Lefty", a perfect addition to "Lefty" Grove and "Lefty" Gomez.

Monday, January 5, 2015


OK, so Dave Nelson wasn't exactly "missing" from the 1976 set, but as I was creating this card for "Reader Jim" in our ongoing "1976 Project", I like it so much I wanted to post it here on the blog:

Although correctly shown as a Kansas City Royals player for the upcoming 1976 season in the set, both Jim and I see a card set as representative of the year before, sort of a "yearbook" of the previous season.
With that, we go and re-do some cards to show the player with the team he contributed to in 1975.
Hence the Nelson card you see here, which came out nicely if I may say so.
Nelson wrapped up his sixth and final season for the franchise before moving on to the Royals for the last two years of his 10-year career.
A speedster, he topped 50 stolen bases in 1972 and 40 stolen bases in 1973 before playing sporadically the final four years of his Major League career.
All told, he posted a .244 career average with 187 steals and 340 runs scored.
He also collected 630 hits over 2578 at-bats, with 77 of them doubles and 19 of them triples.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Here's a strange one to ponder: in 1978 Topps gave Braves infielder Rob Belloir, he of six games and ONE at-bat the previous year, a card in their set, yet they completely ignored him for their 1976 set after he posted 43 games and 105 at-bats in 1975?!
Take a look at his 1978 card:

Belloir had a short four-year career between 1975 and 1978, appearing in 81 total games with 167 at-bats and 36 hits, good for a .216 average.
As mentioned, even though he had some decent action in '75 he was left out of the (awesome) 1976 set (something my friend Jim and I have remedied in our "1976 Project"-keep an eye out in the near future).
Yet after appearing in a scant six games in 1977, Topps somehow managed to give him a slot in the '78 set.
No offense to Mr. Belloir here, but I sure wish they managed to give Brooks Robinson a "career-capper" card in it's place, or maybe even an Ozzie Smith rookie card.
Oh well, at least it made for an entry on my blog some 36 years later, no?

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Here's a 1972 "Traded" card for Sparky Lyle, who was quite possibly the first cog in the eventual "Bronx Zoo" World Champs of the late-1970's:

Originally depicted as a Boston Red Sox player in the '72 set, Lyle was traded by the Sox for Danny Cater right before the regular season in March.
I decided NOT to use the traded format Topps issued that year, since I've always thought it was a terrible design.
It was bad enough Topps didn't have player positions on their regular-issue cards in the set (a set I DO love mind you), but for their traded sub-set they even failed to have the team name running across the top!
Anyway, I went with a simple modification to the regular design, enlarging the name box along the bottom to add a traded line.
As for the trade, which is often cited as terribly one-sided in favor of the Yankees, it paid instant dividends in the Bronx, as Lyle posted a 9-5 record with a 1.92 earned run average and league-leading 35 saves in his first year there.
He'd even finish seventh in Cy Young voting, as well as third in Most Valuable Player voting during the post-season.
Five years later in 1977, Lyle would win the Cy Young Award, going 13-5 with a league-leading 23 saves and a 2.17 E.R.A., and he'd finish fifth in M.V.P. Voting.
But with Rich "Goose" Gossage joining the Yanks the following year, he'd find himself off to Texas by 1979, and retired from the game in 1982 after a handful of games with the White Sox.
All told Sparky would post 238 lifetime saves in 899 games, setting a record for career games all in relief.
I'm not sure, but it still may be the record actually. Have to check.
Nowadays he manages the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an independent league.
Just so happens the Patriots' home field is minutes from my newly adopted town of Franklin Township, N.J., and I hope to see some games next season.
Maybe I'll hit Lyle up for an autograph on THIS creation right here...

Friday, January 2, 2015


Here was a really fun card to create: a "missing" 1972 "In Action" card of former slugger-extraordinaire, Frank Howard.
Take a look:

What makes this card so special in my eyes is that Howard was never on a Topps card shown in a Texas Rangers uniform.
In 1972 he was conveniently shown in a photo that hid a Washington Senators uni, as Topps didn't have updated shots of the new Rangers team and their playing duds.
By the time the 1973 cards came out he was shown with his new team, the Detroit Tigers.
As it tuned out, "Hondo" was already on his last legs in the Major Leagues, finishing up after the 1973 season.
But not before punishing both National and American League pitching, to the tune of 383 home runs, with three 40+ seasons, to go along with four 100+ R.B.I. Years and four all-star game nods.
The man was an outright beast, standing at 6'7" and over 250 lbs.
While winning the National League Rookie of the Year in 1960 with the Dodgers, he'd also finish in the top-10 for Most Valuable Player Award four times, at least once in each league.
As an aside, until Jay Buhner smacked his 40th home run in 1997, making it three years in a row attaining the mark, Howard was the last Major League player to do so, when he hit 40+ in 1968-70.
The man was so feared he had TWO great nicknames, the other being "The Capital Punisher"!

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Hope you all have the best of everything in 2015!
Well it's Thursday, and it's time for another round of 1970's baseball trivia…
Here's a repeat of my Trivia #4 from over a year ago. See if you have any of the answers.
I'll post them up tomorrow as usual…

Who is the only player to lead the National League in home runs in a season during the '70's with less than 40?

2. Who is the only American League batting champ during the decade that never won a major award in his career (Rookie of the Year or M.V.P.)?

3. What pitcher threw a no-hitter, winning 4-0, thanks in part to the TWO homers he hit during the game?

4. What Minnesota pitcher posted a record of 17-5 while also saving 20 games, throwing an amazing 167.2 innings all in relief in 1976?

5. What Atlanta pitcher lead the N.L. with a sterling 2.28 E.R.A. in 1974, which happened to be the only season where he posted more than 162 innings in any of his seven year career?


1. Mike Schmidt: 3 times. 1974: 36, 1975: 38 and 1976: 38

2. Alex Johnson in 1970.

3. Rick Wise, June 23, 1971.

4. Bill Campbell.

5. Buzz Capra.


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