Thursday, March 31, 2016


Here’s a “missing: 1972 card for former pitcher Bob Priddy, who wrapped up a nine-year career in 1971:

Priddy appeared in 40 games for the Atlanta Braces, posting a 4-9 record with a 4.22 earned run average over 64 innings.
Generally an arm out of the bullpen throughout his career, he appeared in 249 games between 1962 and 1971, with only 29 of them starts.
By the time he retired, he finished with a 24-38 record with a 4.00 ERA and 18 saves over 536 innings pitched.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Next up in my 1976 celebration of Major League baseball’s 100th year of existence is the supposed “inventor” of the curve ball, Candy Cummings.
Take a look:

Cummings parlayed that claim to the famous pitch all the way to a Hall of Fame induction in 1939, as baseball wanted to recognize the man who brought the widely used off-speed pitch to the game.
But it’s not like the man didn’t produce on the field.
During his National Association career between 1972 and 1975 he posted a combined 134-80 record, pitching for a different team every year: New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Hartford.
Once the Major’s began play in 1876 he posted a 16-8 record for Hartford with a sparkling 1.67 earned run average over 24 starts, all of them complete games with five shutouts.
But the 1877 season would see Cummings drop to a 5-14 record while pitching for Cincinnati, with his ERA ballooning to 4.34, which would be his last in the big leagues.
Overall he finished with a 145 and 94 record, with a 2.42 ERA over 242 games, but again, it was his claim of figuring out how to make the ball curve towards the plate that would have him remembered almost a century and a half later.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Granted, lately I have been producing “missing” cards for players who really are pushing the limits of sufficient playing time the previous year, but the 1978 Henry Cruz card always had me wondering why Topps even bothered:

For a guy who only appeared in 16 games the previous year, with only 22 plate appearances, seems Topps went above and beyond with the added efforts of airbrushing to get this player a card, no?
Cruz, who actually should have had a card in the 1977 set after his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, would only appear on a multi-player rookie card in the 1976 set besides this 1978 edition.
The airbrusing on this card is actually really good! Notice all the work with the collar, the shadowing, and the “sox” logo on the cap! Would love to see the original photo to really appreciate the work done here.
For Cruz, he’d put in four-years in the Majors, all part-time seasons split between the Dodgers and White Sox, finishing with a .229 average over 171 games and 280 at-bats before bouncing around in the Minors and Mexican Leagues until 1985.

Monday, March 28, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1978 card for former pitcher Jim Umbarger of the Texas Rangers:

Umbarger appeared in 15 games over the 1977 season, split between the Oakland A’s and Texas, posting a 2-6 record with a 6.32 earned run average over 57 innings of work.
His first two years in the Majors were much better, as he went 8-7 and 10-12 in 1975 and 1976 respectively with Texas, posting ERA’s of 4.12 and 3.15 with five shutouts splitting time between starting and the bullpen.
He wouldn’t fare much better in 1978, posting a 5-8 record with a 4.88 ERA, thus completing what would be his 4-year career, giving him a 25-33 record with a 4.14 ERA over 133 games, 61 of which were starts, and 483 innings pitched.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


If the topic is baseball highlights and 1956, then perhaps THE most memorable for the “Turn Back the Clock” series is Don Larsen and his World Series perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers:

Just a couple of years removed from a disastrous season with the Baltimore Orioles in the inaugural campaign which saw him post a 3-21 record, Larsen found a temporary home in the Bronx and chipped in a nice 11-5 record with a 3.26 earned run average, splitting time between starting and the bullpen.
But no one was to know what was coming on that Autumn day when he would stun the baseball world, shutting down “Dem Bums”, 27-up and 27-down.
Considering he pitched poorly in Game 2 of the series, lasting only 1.2 innings after being handed a 6-0 lead, it’s incredible that just a short time later he would dominate such a loaded Dodger team en-route to baseball history.
But then again, it’s just one of those things that makes baseball so great...

Saturday, March 26, 2016


I’ve been meaning to re-do the 1972 Willie Mays In-Action card by Topps for some time, not necessarily because the photo is so bad per se, but because that fielder’s leg ruins the shot for me. A bit picky, I know, but what the "Hey":

I found a nice action shot of Mays during the 1971 season, which was the last productive year of the all-time great’s monstrous career that would lead straight to the Hall of Fame.
3000+ hits, 660 homers, 2000+ runs and 1900+ runs batted in, throw in the 300+ stolen bases and a .300+ batting average and really, what more could you ask from a player!?
Just incredible. Wish I could have seen him play in person, in his prime...

Friday, March 25, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1975 card for Kurt Bevacqua, who suited up for both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals during the 1974 season:

Bevacqua played in 57 games in 1974, hitting .184 with 23 hits over 125 at-bats while DH-ing and playing both the infield and outfield.
He would end up playing 15 seasons as a Major League player, the highlight for him being his heroics in the 1984 World Series as a member of the San Diego Padres, giving them their only win against the eventual World Champion Detroit Tigers.
All told he’d hit .236 over his career, with 499 hits in 2117 official at-bats while playing every position but pitcher and catcher.
And let’s not forget he won that Bubble-Gum blowing contest, leading to one of the quirkier cards in the Topps stable in the 1970’s...

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Here’s a 1978 Topps coach card I created for a player who I feel put together a Hall of Fame worthy career, Vada Pinson:

After his awesome career ended a couple of years earlier, Pinson was one of the first coaches for the expansion Seattle Mariners beginning in 1977.
If you look at the Mariners 1977 team card you see him listed as such on the front with other coaches and the first manager in organization history Darrell Johnson.
He would remain a coach in the Majors until the 1994 season before sadly suffering a stroke and passing away at the young age of 57.
For those that are not too familiar with Pinson’s career, take a gander at what he did on the field, INCREDIBLY underrated!
The man had both speed and power, consistently produced over a long career, and was highly respected by so many of his peers.
Put him in the Hall already!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Here’s a “missing” card for a “one-year-wonder”, Paul Jata of the Detroit Tigers:

I came across this photo which would be perfect for a 1973 card, in honor of his sole taste of the Majors during the 1972 season.
Jata appeared in 32 games with the division champs, hitting .230 with 17 hits over 74 at-bats while playing first base, catcher and outfield.
Though the photo used shows him in catching mode, he played the bulk of his games at first and in the outfield.
Sadly for him that would be it in the Majors, though he did make a comeback of sorts in the Twins organization a few years later in 1976 in their Double-A affiliate after being out of the game in 1974 and 1975.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Let’s go and give fan-favorite Ed Charles a “missing” 1970 card shall we?

Charles wrapped up his 8-year Major League career in 1969 in fine fashion, being a part of the surprising New York Mets and their World Series winning squad.
Charles appeared 61 games for the “Amazin’s”, hitting .207 with 35 hits over 169 at-bats.
After playing the first 5+ seasons of his career for the Kansas City Athletics, Charles was traded to Queens in May of 1967, where he would play until he left the game in 1969.
He would bat .263 over that time, collecting 917 hits over 3482 at-bats and 1005 games, all while playing third base.

Monday, March 21, 2016

TRADED: 1977 BUCKY "$*&@!" DENT

Here’s a traded card for shortstop Bucky Dent, who came to the Bronx via a trade with the Chicago White Sox for slugger Oscar Gamble on April 5th, 1977:

Dent would play a key role as the shortstop on the “Bronx Zoo” World Championship Yankee teams of 1977 and 1978.
Of course the biggest moment for Dent would be the unlikely and heart-breaking (for Boston) home run in the 163rd game of the 1978 season, helping clinch the American League East’s top spot and eventual road to the Fall Classic against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Yankees gave up a chunk for Dent, sending Gamble, Lamarr Hoyt and Robert Polinsky PLUS $200,000 cash to the South Side of Chicago.
He’d play for 12 years in the Majors, finishing up with eleven games with the Kansas City Royals in 1984 before retiring with a .247 average over 1392 games.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Here’s an interesting card from the 1979 set: Clarence “Cito” Gaston’s airbrushed slab:

First off, it’s worth noting that after the time and effort Topps went into to get him portrayed on the right team, it was all for naught as Gaston’s Major League playing days were already done by the time this card came out.
Secondly, finding the original Topps negative which shows the interesting “half” airbrush job is worth taking a look at.

As you can see Topps basically airbrushed just enough of the image to get Gaston as a Pittsburgh Pirate player, leaving the bottom portion of the shot untouched, showing the actual Atlanta Braves uniform.
Being that Gaston played the last TWO games of the 1978 season as a Pirate instead of a Brave, for whom he played 60 games, it’s easy to see why Topps was missing an actual photo of him in the right uni.
Gaston closed out an eleven-year career in the Majors after the 1978 season, eventually becoming a manager of the Toronto Blue Jays over 12 seasons, leading them to consecutive World Series wins in 1992 and 1993.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


We move on to 1956 for my “Turn Back the Clock” thread, and celebrate Mickey mantle’s Triple Crown season with a 20th Anniversary card for the 1976 Topps set:

Mantle had it ALL going on that season, leading the American League with 52 home runs, 130 runs batted in and a .353 batting average to bring home the trifecta.
But that wasn’t all “The Mick” had going for himself that season.
He also led the league in runs scored with 132, slugging with an awesome .705 percentage, and in total bases with what was to be a career high 376.
Easily winning the first of three MVP Awards, he would go on to become the legend everyone thought he’d be when he first came up in 1951, taking the torch from the retiring legend Joe DiMaggio.

Friday, March 18, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1975 card for former pitcher Bob Johnson of the Cleveland Indians:

Johnson appeared in 14 games for the Tribe, starting ten of those games, leading to a 3-4 record with a 4.38 earned run average over 72 innings pitched.
Those would be his last games in the Majors until 1977, when he made a comeback of sorts with the Atlanta Braves and appeared in 15 games, thus closing out his 7-year career.
He had a hard-luck year in 1970 when he became the only pitcher to strike out 200 or more batters in a season, yet fail to win 10 or more games.
Pitching for the Kansas City Royals that year, Johnson went 8-13 with a 3.07 earned run average, while whiffing 206 batters.
The following year he found himself in Pittsburgh and won a championship with them, even starting a game in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
All told, he posted a career 28-34 record, with a 3.48 ERA and 507 strikeouts over 183 games, 76 of which were starts, and 692.1 innings.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Time for me to create a “Nickname of the 70’s” card for one of the best of the decade: Walt “No Neck” Williams.
Check it out:

Williams, who sadly passed away this past January at the age of 72, had the best year of his 10-year career in 1969, so I went with a 1970 template in honor of his .304 average for the Chicago White Sox.
What a classic nickname this guy had! And his cards clearly showed us why he was tagged with it.
I especially LOVE his 1974 Topps card while with the Indians, cool shades and all.
Williams retired with a respectable .270 lifetime average, playing for the Houston Colt .45’s, White Sox, Indians, and finally the New York Yankees before finding himself out of the Majors at a young 31 years of age.
But oh that nickname!!!
Rest in Peace brother....

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Next up in my 1876-1976 celebration of the Major League’s 100th anniversary is Cal McVey, an interesting figure in baseball’s long history:

McVey played only nine years of professional ball, five seasons in the National Association and the first four of the newly formed Major Leagues.
Yet a strong case should be made for his induction to the Hall of Fame, and not solely on his “pioneering” status.
By the time McVey left the game in 1879 after two seasons with Cincinnati, he fashioned a .346 lifetime average while leading his league in runs batted in twice, doubles once, hits twice and runs scored his “rookie” year of 1871.
He was an important member of the N.A. Boston team that also featured Al Spalding, the Wright brothers and Ross Barnes (another player grossly over-looked by the Hall), then went on to team up with Cap Anson, Spalding, Barnes and Deacon White over in Chicago when the new league formed.
This guy is FULL of important baseball history, while also performing on the field as the numbers show.
Just one of my many gripes with the Hall of Fame (and especially the Veteran’s Committee).

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Here’s another one of my “fantasy cards”, a 1970 Mickey Mantle card, something I always wished for as a kid:

More specifically, I always wondered what Mickey Mantle cards would have looked like had he played beyond the age of 36.
So this will be the first of a few cards (1970-1972), imaging just that, Mantle playing until he turned 40 years of age.
It’s easy for people to forget that even though he put together the 18-year Hall of Fame career he had, he was still relatively young at 36 to walk away.
But as we know injury on top of injury on top of injury had him cutting short his awesome career, even IF it was during the “dark days” of the Bronx in the late-60’s/early-70’s.
Look for some other fantasy cards like this in the near future, like Sandy Koufax among others.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1979 card for former pitcher Dick Pole, who pitched his final games during the 1978 season as a member of the Seattle Mariners:

Pole came up in 1973 as a member of the Boston Red Sox, for whom he’d pitch the first four seasons of his career.
He was then drafted in the expansion draft of 1976 for the new Seattle Mariner organization, where he’d play the next two years.
During the 1978 season he appeared in 21 games, posting a 4-11 record with a 6.48 earned run average in 98.2 innings of work.
That would be it for his playing career, but he would go on to be a pitching coach in the Majors for many years, putting together one of those “baseball lives” player-turned-coaches have.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that many of use who were kids collecting back in the 1970’s will always remember his name, which always brought a chuckle to my friends and I...

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Here’s an airbrushed card that isn’t so terrible, but has me mystified as to why Topps needed one in the first place: the 1975 Jim Perry card:

You can see the Detroit Tigers uniform he had on in the photo, and the clever “spot-airbrush” on the cap by covering the Tigers’ logo with the Cleveland “C”.
What puzzles me is that Perry pitched the entire year with Cleveland, appearing in 36 games (all starts), with a whopping 252 innings pitched.
So why no photo of him as an Indian for the card?
Very strange don’t you think?
He also did very well for the Indians that season, posting a 17-12 record with a 2.96 earned run average and three shutouts.
It would be the last solid year of his excellent 17-year career before he retired after the 1975 season.
I wonder why there was no photo available for him in the 1975 set as an Indian.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Let’s go and give “Hondo”, Frank Howard a “Then and Now” card in the 1973 set to celebrate his awesome slugging career:

Howard was wrapping up a very nice 16-year career in 1973 as a member of the Detroit Tigers, slamming the final 12 homers of the 382 he’d hit since 1960.
He’d lead the league in homers twice, while also becoming one of the first players to hit 30 homers in a season in each league (he hit 31 as a member of the Dodgers in 1962).
A four-time all-star, he also won Rookie of the Year in the National League in 1960 when he hit 23 homers with 77 runs batted in, and also finished in the top-10 for MVP four times, once in the N.L., and three times as a Senator in the American League.
By the time he retired he hit those 382 homers along with 864 runs scored and 1119 RBI’s with a very respectable .274 average over 1895 games and 6488 at-bats.

Friday, March 11, 2016


I came across this photo of former Milwaukee Brewer Bobby Mitchell and decided to create a “missing” 1972 Topps card, though I know I’m pushing it a bit:

Mitchell appeared in 35 games for the Brewers during the 1971 season, hitting .182 with 10 hits in 55 at-bats.
After toiling in the Minors the entire 1972 season he’d come back to the Major League level in 1973 where he’d stay through the 1975 season, all in Milwaukee, hitting a combined .235 with 143 hits in 609 at-bats.
That would be the sum total of his short five-year career before going to Japan and playing on the Nippon Ham team from 1976 through 1979.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Next up in my “Turn Back the Clock” thread is a 1975 20th anniversary card celebrating Detroit Tigers great Al Kaline and his magnificent 1955 season that saw him become the youngest batting champ in baseball history:

In only his second full season as a Major League player, the 20-year old hit a league-leading .340 based on his 200 hits in 588 at-bats, barely edging out the previous record holder Ty Cobb by mere days as the youngest champ.
As we all know it was just a glimpse into what would become a Hall of Fame career in Detroit for Kaline, as he’d go on to top 3000 hits while scoring over 1600 runs, hitting 399 homers and driving in over 1500 while being named to 15 all-star teams before he retired after the 1974 season.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1973 card for former Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike McQueen.
Take a look:

McQueen appeared in 23 games for the Braves, posting a 0-5 record with a 4.60 earned run average and 40 strikeouts over 78.1 innings pitched.
He would spend the 1973 season in the Minors before making his return to a Major League mound in 1974 with the Cincinnati Reds, appearing in 10 games, which would be the final big league games of his five-year career.
By the time he was done he would post a 5-11 career record with a 4.66 ERA and 140 K’s over 73 games and 218.1 innings pitched, all but his final season spent in Atlanta.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Allow me to indulge in a fantasy card for the 1977 Topps set: a card commemorating the Cincinnati Reds’ MVP dominance during the 1970’s:

I came across this nice photo of Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Pete Rose and immediately thought of creating the card above.
I wish George Foster was also in the shot considering he’d also win an MVP that very season, giving the Reds SIX MVP’s in eight seasons, but this will do for now.
The trio shown on the card here would take home five of those awards, with Bench winning in 1970 and 1972, Rose in 1973 and Morgan in 1975 and 1976.
What an incredible run they had, helping them to four World Series appearances and two championships in 1975 and 1976.

Monday, March 7, 2016


Cap Anson, the greatest player of the 19th Century, and one of the most important figures in baseball’s long history, and a guy you cannot leave out of a “100th Anniversary” sub-set celebrating the 100th season of Major League ball for the 1976 set:

Anson put together an outstanding 27-year career between 1871 and 1897, going from the National Association to the Majors and, alongside Al Spalding and George Wright becoming one of the most important figures in the games early league formation.
The first player to reach 3000 hits, Anson collected 3435 total professional knocks along with 2075 runs batted in, 1999 runs scored and 582 doubles before he hung up the spikes, all league records at the time.
During his storied career he led the league in RBI’s eight times, batting average four times, and topped .300 an incredible 24 times, 20 of which were consecutive from the start of his career!
His influence was huge, and not until guys like Cobb and Wagner came into the picture would there be another player like him, and was evident by his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


The 1973 Walt “No Neck” Williams card is an interesting one.
Check it out:

Weird how the Topps folks went and airbrushed the “C” for Cleveland onto the old red White Sox cap, doping a decent job of it at that.
Yet you can clearly see the “S” from “Sox” on the right side of the jersey along with the red pin-striping of the Chicago jersey.
Reminds me of the 1972 Rich McKinney card with the same type of incomplete airbrushing job.
Gotta say though, I love stuff like this. Made it so much fun to notice these things as a collector.
Sadly, Williams passed away this January at the age of 72, leaving us with one of the best nicknames of the 1970’s, or any other decade for that matter.
RIP “No Neck”...

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Wanted to spotlight yet another card from that awesome 1976 set that I love so much to this day: Jim Palmer’s colorful cardboard slab shown here:

Man the colors, the action, the future Hall of Fame pitcher in the prime of his career. It’s got it all.
Palmer was hitting 30 years of age with no sign of slowing down when this card came out, posting his sixth 20-win season with a league-leading 22 and taking home his third Cy Young Award, a record at that time.
He’d go on to finish with 268 wins with a brilliant 2.86 earned run average and 2212 K’s, along with 53 shutouts and a .638 winning percentage.
Throw in his three Cy’s, six all-star nods and four Gold Gloves and the man was the cream of the crop as far as American League pitchers go for the decade.

You know, there's something about those slightly unclear photos in this day of "high resolution/high definition" modernity that still hits home as far as "the way it was" and how great growing up when I did really is...

Friday, March 4, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1977 card for former pitcher Clay Kirby, who closed out a decent 8-year career in 1976 with a handful of games for the Montreal Expos:

Kirby appeared in 22 games for Montreal, finishing up with a 1-8 record with a 5.72 earned run average over 78.2 innings.
Those would be the last Major League games for him, after five seasons with the San Diego Padres and two with the Cincinnati Reds between 1969 and 1975.
He can probably be considered the first pitching ace of the San Diego Padres organization, putting up some solid seasons for terrible teams from the team’s inception through their fifth year in existence.
1971 would easily be his best season, when he posted a 15-13 record with a 2.83 ERA, 13 complete games, a couple of shutouts and 231 strikeouts.
On a good team this guy easily would have posted 20+ wins that season, but as it was his final career stats suffered, ending up with a 75-104 record with a 3.84 ERA, eight shutouts and 1061 strikeouts over 261 games and 1548 innings pitched.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1979 card for former infielder Steve Staggs, who played parts of two seasons in the Major Leagues:

Staggs appeared in 47 games for Oakland since coming over from Toronto before the 1978 season.
In those games he hit .244 while filling in in the infield, with 19 hits spread out over 78 at-bats.
The previous season he got his first taste of the Majors when he came up with the Blue Jays and appeared in 72 games, hitting .258 with 75 hits in 291 at-bats.
For that action he got his one and only Topps card in the 1978 set.
But sadly for him those two seasons would be it, and he’d find himself in the Montreal Expos minor league system in 1979 before leaving the game for good as a player.
All told he hit .255 for his short career, with 94 hits in 369 at-bats over 119 games.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Here’s a card for former American League batting champ Alex Johnson, who was left out of the 1976 set by Topps, and is part of the ongoing “1976 Project” I’ve been working on with “Reader Jim”:

Nice shot of Johnson at the batting cages while with the New York Yankees.
Johnson was at the end of his career by the time he found himself in the Bronx, even though he could still hit and was only in his early 30’s.
He appeared in only 52 games for the Yankees during the 1975 season, hitting .261 with 31 hits in 119 official at-bats while DH-ing and playing some outfield.
The following year he found himself with the Detroit Tigers, playing a relatively full season and hitting a respectable .268 with 115 hits in 429 at-bats.
But that would actually end up being the last Major League action he’d see, playing one more season of pro ball down in Mexico before calling it a career at the age of only 33.
Johnson had some very nice seasons in the big leagues, topped off by his batting crown in 1970 while with the California Angels when he barely edged Carl Yastrzemski with his .329 average.
He collected a career high 202 hits that season, with 85 runs scored, 14 homers and 86 runs batted in while being named to his only all-star team and finishing eighth in MVP voting.
By the time his 13-year career was over in 1977, he collected 1331 hits over 4623 at-bats, good for a .288 batting average.
Very respectable for that era as we all know.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1971 Topps card for former Chicago Cubs player Cleo James, who actually appeared in 100 games for the Cubbies during the 1970 season:

James hit .210 in that time, collecting 37 hits over 176 at-bats, and scored 33 runs while driving in 14 with a dozen extra-base-hits while playing all three outfield positions.
Funny enough he’d appear in the 1972 Topps set with about half the playing time in 1971, so go figure. I could never figure Topps player selection out.
After 44 games for the Cubs in 1973 his career was over, playing parts of four seasons between 1968 and 1973 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cubs, finishing with a .228 average based on his 87 hits in 381 at-bats over 208 lifetime games.


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