Saturday, April 30, 2016


After appearing in the 1973 Topps set with a very nice horizontal card, former relief pitcher Don Stanhouse didn’t make the cut the following year, so I went and created a “missing” card here:

Before helping the Baltimore Orioles reach the World Series in 1979 with a very nice all-star season, Stanhouse played for the Texas Rangers and Montreal Expos, bouncing between a starting and relief role.
In 1973 Stanhouse appeared in 21 games for the Rangers, posting a 1-7 record with a 4.76 earned run average and a single save over 70 innings of work.
Over the next couple of seasons he wouldn’t see much action, until the Expos made him a starter in 1976, a season that saw Stanhouse post a career high 184 innings on the mound, going 9-12 with a 3.77 ERA in 34 games.
But it was his 1978 and 1979 seasons that got Stanhouse some attention when he posted sub-3.00 ERA’s and over 20 saves year.
Sadly for him after finding himself in Los Angeles in 1980 he never found that groove again, suffering injuries and limiting him to only 38 more games in his career before retiring after the 1982 season back in Baltimore.

Friday, April 29, 2016


Here’s a 1978 “Turn Back the Clock” card for one of my all-time favorite players: Stan Musial, and his 3000th hit, which he collected 20-years before in 1958:

He would go on to collect another 630 more hits to become the leading National League hit-maker before Hank Aaron would overtake him about 10 years later.
Throw in 725 doubles, 177 triples and 475 home runs and you have yourself one of THE best all-around hitters the game ever saw.
Three Most Valuable Player Awards, FOUR second-place finishes, including three in a row between 1949-1951, and twenty consecutive all-star appearances, Musial definitely is a member of that rarified stratosphere of baseball royalty along with the likes of Ruth, Cobb, Mays and Wagner, among others.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Quick: before Roger Clemens came along who had the most professional wins as a pitcher and NOT be in the Hall of Fame?
The answer would be this guy right here, 19th century pitcher Bobby Mathews:

Mathews finished a nice 15-year career spanning 1871 and 1887 with a 297 and 248 record, along with a 2.86 earned run average over 578 appearances and 4956 innings of work.
An oddity of his career is that of his 297 wins, he only collected 20 of them between the ages of 25 and 29, with two missed years in between as well.
So that means the guy collected 277 wins in only 11 seasons, his first of which was partial. Not bad!
I don’t know why he never got into the Hall since, based on his career, he must have been the all-time wins leader at some point before Cy Young came and blew everyone out of the water.
Guys like Keefe, Nichols and Galvin came after Mathews.
Go figure...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Here’s another of those airbrush jobs that has some quirkiness not only in execution, but of circumstance, the 1972 Lee May Topps card:

As we all know by now, May was traded to the Houston Astros as part of the deal that brought Cincinnati what many consider the final piece to the “Big Red Machine” dynasty of the mid-70’s, Joe Morgan.
Must have been rough for May, being that he was holding his own as a player, was an all-star, but had to watch his former teammates go on to glory while he would never taste the sweetness of a world championship.
I’ve always been irked by the fact that the Houston “H” logo on his cap here was off center! His cap is going one way but the logo goes another.
It’s not the worst airbrush job, but why fall short on the EASY part, the location of the logo?
Anyway, another quirk is the fact that while Lee May’s base card in the 1972 has him with his new team, Morgans base card has him as an Astro player as well.
Yes it all comes down to series-release dates, giving Topps the ability to get May as an Astro, and even Morgan as a Reds player in their “Traded” sub-set later on.
But it does make for an interesting little “aside” regarding this trade nevertheless...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1975 Topps card for Angel “Remy” Hermoso, who played out a brief 4-season Major League career with the Cleveland Indians in 1974:

Hermoso made a comeback of sorts in 1974, seeing big league action for the first time since the 1970 season when he appeared in only four games with the Montreal Expos.
For the ‘74 season he appeared in 48 games for the Tribe, hitting .221 with 27 hits over 122 at-bats while playing second base.
It would be the most action he saw in any of his seasons in the big leagues, and as stated earlier would be the capper as well.
For his career he ended up with a .211 average with 47 hits over 223 at-bats in 91 games between 1967 and 1974.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Keeping on with my fantasy thread and Mickey Mantle, here’s a 1971 Topps card for “The Mick”, just imagining if he played closer to the age of 40 than he did:

Leaving us just short of a Mantle card appearing in the 1970’s, these creations are just some fun I’m having with some players who left the game on the “early” side (think Mantle or Koufax).
I think I’ll create a 1972 Mantle card as well, but pushing it to 1973 seems a bit much.
Hope you all enjoy these as much as I do, kind of leaps out at me after a lifetime of established card-boundaries regarding certain players.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Now, you THINK if Topps was going to have a “highlight” of the 1957 season for their 1977 “Turn Back the Clock” sub-set, they’d at LEAST pick Lew Burdette and his awesome performance in the World Series that year, leading the Braves to a Championship over the New York Yankees.
Well, here’s one I created:

All Burdette did in the 1957 Fall Classic was go 3-0 over three starts, with a sparkling 0.67 earned run average with two shutouts and THREE complete games!
The man allowed only 21 hits over those 27 innings with only two runs scored, both of them earned, and only four bases on balls against 13 strikeouts.
Easily one of the best pitching performances in World Series history!
No offense to Bob Keegan and his no-hitter that year, but Burdette’s feat should have been front and center, which leaves me with a question: was it more than just Topps “picking” a moment for the sub-set?
What I mean is, were there issues trying to get former players to agree to appear on a card? Or something like that?
Anyone know?

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1978 card for former pitcher Maximino Leon of the Atlanta Braves:

Leon appeared in 31 games for Atlanta in 1977, posting a 4-4 record with a single save over 81.2 innings of work.
But he did also get used as a spot starter, with nine of his appearances as such.
Turns out after some sporadic work in 1978, amounting to just five appearances and 5.2 innings, that would be the end of his Major League career.
His numbers in the big leagues totaled a 14-18 record, with a 3.71 earned run average and 13 saves over 162 games and 310.1 innings pitched.

Friday, April 22, 2016


Considering he had his best season as a pro in 1971, here’s a “missing” In-Action card for former pitcher Al Downing in the 1972 set:

Coming off of a season that saw him go 20-9 with a nice 2.68 earned run average and a league-leading five shutouts over 37 appearances, all but one of them starts, Downing had new life after three rough seasons since leaving the Bronx.
Though he’d never reach those heights again, he would go on to put together a nice 17-year career, retiring after the 1977 season after seven seasons out in Los Angeles.
Except for the 1970 season which saw him split the year between the Oakland A’s and Milwaukee Brewers, Downing spent the rest of his career split between the Yankees and Dodgers, ending up with a 123-107 career record, with a 3.22 ERA, 24 shutouts and 1639 strikeouts over 405 games, 317 of which were starts, between 1961 and 1977.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Alan Bannister’s actual rookie card would appear in the 1977 Topps set, as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
But I went and created a 1976 edition, with him as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he played during the 1975 campaign:

Bannister, who would go on to put in a solid 12-year pro career, appeared in 24 games for the Phillies in ‘75, hitting a respectable .262 with 16 hits over 61 at-bats as a young 23-year old.
As you may remember, he would go and put in over four years with the White Sox, followed by about the same with the Cleveland Indians before spending the 1984 and 1985 seasons in the Lone Star State, playing with both the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, where he’d retire.
All told he ended up with a nice .270 career average, with 811 hits over 3007 at-bats. I never realized he ended up with that good an average for his career.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Next up in my 1976 century celebration of the Major Leagues is former shortstop Davy Force:

Force first played in the National Association all four seasons between 1871-1875 before moving on to the newly formed Majors in 1876 with the Philadelphia Athletics and New York Mutuals.
He’d end up playing through the 1886 season, putting together a nice 15-year career, though he only played in 1029 games over that time.
Nevertheless he’d bat .249 with 1059 hits in 4250 official at-bats, the bulk of his Major League tenure playing for the Buffalo team between 1879 and 1885.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1975 card for former Angels pitcher Dave Sells:

Sells appeared in 20 games for the Halo’s during the 1974 season, posting a 2-3 record with a 3.69 earned run average with a couple of saves over  39 innings of work.
Turns out the 1975 season would be his last as a Major League hurler, splitting time between California and the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending up 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA over nine appearances.
For his 4-year career he ended up with an 11-7 record, with a 3.90 ERA and 12 saves in 90 appearances and 138.1 innings pitched.

Monday, April 18, 2016


Let’s give “Mr. Automatic” Leo Cardenas a “super veteran” card in the 1976, capping off a nice 16-year career that saw him named to five all-star teams between 1960 and 1975:

Cardenas came up with the Cincinnati Reds and put in some very nice campaigns before doing the same in Minnesota between 1969 and 1971.
He finished his tenure in the Majors in California, Cleveland and Texas before walking away with a .257 lifetime average, 1725 hits, 118 homers and 662 runs scored with a Gold Glove thrown in over 1941 games.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


About as colossal a sledgehammer to the hearts of New York City baseball fans, the decision of both the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants to leave NYC and head West STILL has old-timers grumbling, and is the next card in my “Turn Back the Clock” series:

With baseball’s already rich history by 1957 fully entrenched in New York and Brooklyn, the Major League’s found themselves without a National league squad for the first time since...well...forever!
As a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970’s and hearing that there used to be a team here, it just blew me away, especially when I learned that it was the Dodgers.
First chance I had when I hit about 11 or 12 I remember making it a weekend goal to jump on the subway with my Hagstrom map and go visit BOTH the former site of Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds.
I just couldn’t believe there were baseball fields where I was looking. If you’re familiar with what is there now you know what I mean.
I certainly cannot fathom how it must have felt for fans of both teams to suddenly see them the following year representing the West Coast, and the Golden State of California.
Must have been BRUTAL!
Definitely one of the more important “happenings” in baseball during 1957 when voting came through to allow this momentous move...

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Here’s another fantasy 1970 card, this time of future Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, who had his career cut short because of injury:

“What if” the man was able to keep on pitching after the age of 30?
By 1970 he would have only been 34 during what would have been his 16th year pitching in the Majors.
Could he have kept up the astronomical pace he had going between 1962 and 1966? Could he have thrown MORE no-hitters? Could he have won more than three Cy Young Awards?
I always wondered what HE would have accomplished during 1968, the “year of the pitcher”. Could have been ridiculous!
Sadly we all know how his career ended abruptly after another masterful season in 1966, leaving us with all the “what if’s” we could come up with for the next 50 years since his retirement.
Can you imagine if he was able to pitch until 36? We’d have Koufax cards up until 1972 or so.
Would have been awesome, so I think I’ll create them all. Keep an eye out over the next few months as I put them on my list...

Friday, April 15, 2016


Here’s a fantasy coach card of the “Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays just after he closed out his legendary Major League playing career:

After Mays hung up his God-like cleats in 1973, he stayed on with the Mets as a hitting instructor for a few years until 1979, the very same year he would be elected to the Hall of Fame among the other all-time greats.
Would have been really cool to open Topps packs as a kid in the 1970’s, finding cards of guys you always heard about but never got to see play or on a card during their playing careers!
Lot’s of fun creating these, and look for a bunch more in the near future.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Perhaps the most famous icons of the early days of baseball, today’s subject for my “100th Anniversary” 1976 sub-set is Hall of Fame shortstop George Wright, he of the famed 1869 Cincinnati team:

By the time the Major League was formed for the 1876 season, Wright was a powerful baseball man along with his brother Harry in Boston,continuing to be the game’s premeir shortstop as he approached the age of 30.
In the inaugural season Wright hit .299 with 72 runs scored over 70 games, and while his performance as a player was slowing down, his importance to the game was still strong, eventually being acknowledged with an induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1939, one of the earliest inductees along with the likes of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb.
He finished his pro career with a .301 average, collecting 866 hits over 2873 at-bats, with 665 runs scored in only 591 games.
So much more to this historical figure and I suggest those who are not familiar with him read up on his life as an early promoter of baseball, cricket, tennis and hockey.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1975 card for former pitcher John Morlan:

Morlan appeared in 10 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973, his rookie season.
He posted a 2-2 record with a 3.95 earned run average over 41 innings of work, with seven of the 10 appearances being starts.
The following season he would up those appearances to 39 games, but this time all were out of the bullpen, and sadly for him, the final games of his short two-year Major League career.
He’d pitch until 1977 in the Pirates minor league system, back to being a starter, but never make it back to the “big show”.
He’d finish with a 2-5 record, with a 4.16 ERA over 49 games and 106 innings.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1971 card for former San Diego Padres 1st baseman Ramon Webster:

Webster appeared in 95 games for the Padres in their second season, hitting .259 over 116 at-bats with 30 hits, 12 runs scored and 11 runs batted in.
He would follow that up in 1971 by playing for no less than three Major League clubs: the Padres, Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs, hitting a combined .250 over 26 games, thus closing the books on his five-year career in the big leagues.
For that career he wound up with a .244 average with 190 hits in 778 at-bats with 76 runs, 98 RBI’s and 17 homers over 380 games.

Monday, April 11, 2016


Today I want to celebrate the “Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams, and his incredible .388 batting average at the age of 38 in 1957 to win the fifth of his six career batting titles:

During the campaign Williams put in a “typical” on-for-him season when he collected 163 hits over 420 at-bats, with 119 base-on-balls, along with 38 home runs and 87 runs batted in and 96 runs scored.
He led the American league in batting, on-base with an incredible .526 mark and slugging with an equally impressive .731 mark, leading to his fourth second-place finish in MVP voting, getting beat out by the New York Yankees Mickey Mantle for the honor.
The man was truly a “hitting-machine”, perhaps the greatest pure hitter ever (or the Babe? Or Cobb? Musial?).
It’s funny that Topps went and created a 20th anniversary card in the “Turn Back the Clock” sub-set in 1957 for Bob Keegan and his no-hitter of all things, yet didn’t feel THIS accomplishment by one of the all-time greats deserved one.
By the way, by today’s rules, Williams should have won SEVEN batting titles, but in 1954 he lost out to the Cleveland Indians Bobby Avila, who hit .341 with the THEN required official at-bats instead of 501 plate appearances.
Williams hit .345 with 526 plate appearances based on his 386 at-bats and 136 walks, but under the rules of the day was denied that seventh title.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Here’s another of those dedicated cards produced for a player who appeared on a 1976 Topps multi-player rookie card: Hector Cruz of the St. Louis Cardinals:

At the request of Reader Jim, I created this card to fill in the Cardinal roster set, and using a nice photo of Cruz manning third base, came up with a nice design that complements other St. Louis players from the collection.
Cruz only appeared in 23 games during the 1975 season, hitting .146 with seven hits in 48 at-bats.
He would go on to play a full season in ‘76, appearing in 151 games and hitting .228 with 120 hits over 526 at-bats with 13 homers and 71 runs batted in.
He would go on to play nine-years in the Majors, ending up with the Chicago Cubs in 1982 before calling it a career.
All told he hit .225 with 361 hits over 1607 at-bats in 624 lifetime games, with 39 homers and 200 RBI’s on the nose.
That 1976 season would easily be his best as a pro, never playing a full season again during his time in the big leagues.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Here’s a “missing” 1973 card for former Twins pitcher Tom Norton:

Norton appeared in 21 games for Minnesota during the 1972 season, all of them out of the pen.
He pitched pretty well, posting a 2.78 earned run average which is not reflected in his 0-1 record.
However, though he had a solid showing, he never appeared in a Major League game again, having those 1972 appearances be the only action he’d see on a big league mound.
He would toil in the Minnesota and Chicago White Sox minor league systems through the 1976 season before hanging them up.

Friday, April 8, 2016


Here was a fun card to create, a 1977 coach card for Hall of Fame all-time great Yogi Berra, who sadly passed away not too long ago:

Berra came back to the Bronx to coach the Yankees from 1976 and 1983 before becoming the Yankee manager once again in 1984.
His on-again off-again marriage to the Yankee organization would span seven decades! And his persona was and IS the stuff of legend.
Hall of Fame catcher, he of three Most Valuable Player Awards, 10 World Championships as a player, the man occupies that highest of stratospheres in baseball history, and rightly so.
No need to cover all of his player accomplishments here, as I have covered them earlier, but man will he be missed!

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Both a “missing” card and “career capper”, here’s a 1978 Cookie Rojas creation to celebrate a nice 16-year career:

Rojas appeared in 64 games for the Western Division champ Royals in 1977, hitting an even .250 with 39 hits over 156 at-bats.
A five-time all-star, Rojas slapped his way through the Majors, collecting 1660 lifetime hits over 1822 games, with only 333 of those hits going for extra bases.
Of his 16 years in the Major Leagues, he played eight with the Royals and seven with the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he first made a name for himself between 1963 and 1969.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Time to go and create a “traded” card for “Boomer” George Scott, the player the Red Sox got in return for Cecil Cooper on December 6th, 1976, who I covered a while back:

Already an all-star for the Red Sox between 1966 and 1971 before heading to Milwaukee, Scott came back and continued his bashing ways in 1977, hitting 33 homers with 95 runs batted in and 103 runs scored, getting him his third and final all-star nod.
Sadly for the Red Sox, Scott’s production would drop-off, to the point he found himself in Kansas City in 1979, whereas Cecil Cooper went on to a borderline Hall of Fame career with the Brewers through the 1980’s.
Nevertheless, Scott put together an excellent 14-year career that saw him collect just under 2000 hits, 271 home runs and 1051 RBI’s along with eight Gold Gloves for his fielding at first base.
Not bad at all...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Let’s cap off former MVP Ken Boyer’s career with a 1970 card after wrapping up a very nice 15-year career:

Boyer played out his Major League playing days with 25 games for Los Angeles, hitting .206 while playing first base.
That would mark the end of a career that saw him top a .300 batting average five times, drive in 100 or more runs twice and score 100+ three times while collecting over 2000 hits, slam 282 homers and drive in over 1100 runs.
He also would cop the 1964 National League Most Valuable Player Award after leading the team to a World Series win over the New York Yankees.
He was also named to seven all-star teams while taking home five Gold Gloves for his fielding at third base.

Monday, April 4, 2016


After completing what was to be a Hall of Fame career as a player, Nellie Fox put in some time as a coach for both the Houston Astros and Washington Senators/Texas Rangers.
So I decided to whip up a 1971 “Fantasy Coach” card for him:

After coaching in Houston between 1965 and 1967 he moved on to Washington where he seemed to be in line to take over managerial duties after Jim Lemon stepped down. But after the great Ted Williams was hired to take over at the helm, Fox stayed on and moved with the organization to Texas when they became the Rangers.
Sadly, Fox was diagnosed with skin cancer in 1973, and after a two year battle he passed away in December of 1975 at the very young age of 47.
Though he just missed being elected to the Hall by the BBWA in 1985, garnering 74.7% of the vote, he was finally (and justly) elected by the Veteran’s committee in 1997, capping off a tremendous career that saw him collect over 2600 hits, score over 1200 runs and take home an MVP Award in 1959 while sparking the “Go-Go” White Sox to an American League pennant.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


Next up in my “Turn Back the Clock” thread is former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine, who pitched his second career no-hitter in 1956 against the New York Giants on May 12th:

After tossing his first gem back in 1952 against the Chicago Cubs, Erskine came back to do the same against a powerful Giants team led by Willie Mays, joining the likes of Virgil Trucks and Allie Reynolds to pitch more than one no-hitter in the decade.
He put together a very nice 12-year career, all with the Dodgers organization between 1948 and 1959, posting a 122-78 record, good for a .610 winning percentage while being a part of five World Series, collecting a 2-2 record with two championships in 1955 and 1959.

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Here’s another great in-action card from the 1971 Topps set, Lee May:

Nothing fancy. Just a nice in game shot of the big man at first base holding a man close to the bag.
It’s a wonder why Topps screwed up their “In-Action” sub-set the following year when they had so many good action cards in the 1971 set (Munson, McDaniel, etc).
Nevertheless, a classic shot on a classic set right here.
Sadly for May, he was about to find himself in Houston as part of the trade that brought Cincinnati their final piece of the “Big Red Machine” puzzle, Joe Morgan.
While the Reds would go on to arguably be the team of the decade with Morgan as their spark plug, May would play for the Astros and then the Orioles, missing out on all that Reds glory.

Friday, April 1, 2016


I think blog reader Joe mentioned that I should create a “missing” 1972 “in-action” card for former all-star catcher Ray Fosse, so here goes:

Fosse was coming off of two straight all-star campaigns in 1970 and 1971 with the Cleveland Indians.
Of course we’ll always remember his meeting at the plate with a steamrolling Pete Rose, resulting in an injured shoulder for Fosse that some say curtailed his promise the rest of his career.
Nevertheless, Fosse put together a very nice 12-year career that included two Gold Gloves to go with the all-star nods, as well as two championships while with the Oakland A’s in 1973 and 1974.


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