Sunday, April 30, 2017


Here's a rather huge hint as to what topic I tackle first in the Magazine after the "Missing in Actions" are all done ...

Time to tackle the specialty cards!
This looks even better in person!


You knew at some point I had to create a 1977 Reggie Jackson Orioles card. And I thought this photo made for a nice version of a card many have created before me:

I always felt it was messed up that there was never a card for Reggie really showing him as an Orioles player considering it was a HUGE blockbuster of a trade that sent him to Baltimore right before the 1976 season started.
This was big time news, and coming off of his second home run title (which was a tie with Milwaukee Brewer slugger George Scott), Jackson was in his prime.
Anyway, as well know Topps managed to airbrush him into a “Yankee” uniform, and we got the ugly card that was his 1977 slab. I was never a fan.
So, he we go, with a nice Baltimore Orioles card for the future Hall of Fame slugger and icon of the 1970’s.

On a side-note I always found it interesting that Reggie shared THREE home run titles in his career, in 1975, 1980 and 1982, ALL three with Milwaukee Brewers: George Scott, Ben Oglivie and Gorman Thomas.
Go figure.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Here’s the next “Future Star” card in my imagined 1978 sub-set, Los Angeles Dodger great Steve Garvey, who put together (in my opinion) a Hall of Fame career that had him as the National League all-star first baseman ten times, eight of them consecutively:

Coming out of Michigan State University, Garvey went on to rack up the hits, the awards and the accolades over his 19-year career.
The National League M.V.P. In 1974, he reached 200+ hits six times, 100+ runs batted in five times, and batted .300+ seven times.
The four-time Gold Glover would also finish in the Top-10 in M.V.P. voting four times during his career, including a second place finish behind Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978 to go along with his award from ‘74.
By the time he retired in 1987, he collected 2599 hits, 272 home runs, 1308 runs batted in and a .294 career average with five World Series appearances, including one championship in 1981.
In the post-season he batted .338 with 75 hits and eleven home runs with 31 runs batted in spread over 55 games!
Call me crazy, but when he retired I pretty much figured he was a LOCK for the Hall, expecting him to even be a first or second-year inductee!

Friday, April 28, 2017


Here’s a “missing” 1970 card for Bill Davis, a player who already wrapped up a short three-year career as a part of the inaugural San Diego Padres of 1969:

Davis appeared in 31 games during the 1969 season, batting .175 with 10 hits over 57 at-bats while playing first base.
It’s the first action he saw in the Majors since the 1966 season when he played in 23 games for the Cleveland Indians, for whom he came up the previous year as a 23 year-old rookie.
All told he played 64 games in the Major Leagues in those three abbreviated seasons, batting .181 with 19 hits in 105 at-bats in 64 games.
A rather interesting footnote to his career is that he appeared in FIVE straight Topps sets from 1965 through 1969 on a multi-player rookie card!
I cannot think of any other player that was subjected to such torture, having to share his card with another.
Lou Piniella comes close, with three cards (1964, 1968 & 1969) before finally getting his own card in the 1970 set. After all, he did win the A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1969 with the Kansas City Royals!

Thursday, April 27, 2017


I tweeted a few days ago about a “fantasy” card (if there ever was one) I created regarding the 1969 Reggie Jackson rookie, but in this scenario he is pictured as a New York Met! It created for “Fastball John” and a book review he wrote for the Casey Stengel biography, “Baseball’s Greatest Character". Take a look:

The idea behind this is of course the (in)famous 1966 amateur draft, where Reggie went #2 overall, picked by the Kansas City Athletics after the Mets chose high school catcher Steve Chilcott, who never ended up playing a game in the Major Leagues.
There are many theories as to why Reggie wasn’t chosen #1 overall, too many to get into here (some unsavory), but nevertheless considering the impact he made at Arizona State University during his collegiate career, Reggie really should have been picked 1st. That would have given the university two straight overall picks after Rick Monday was taken 1st by the Athletics the previous year, in the very 1st amateur draft in MLB history.
Of course, it would have been interesting to see how the personality of Reggie would have played out had he immediately been in NYC, though as a part of a team that was at the precipice of success with a youth-core of Seaver, Koosman, et al and a championship looming in 1969.
Who knows? But it sure is fun imagining!
Anyway, for the card, I had to combine a nice photo or Reggie around 1969 with a perfect shot of former Mets favorite Tommie Agee. Just so happened I found two identical poses, though Reggie’s was flipped.
Through the magic of Photoshop, voila! We Have the young Reggie Jackson shown as a New York Met!
I may have to try my hand at a few other “what if’s” down the line! Keep an eye out to see who…

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Here’s a “not really missing” card for former pitcher Charlie Hudson, for whom I earlier created a “missing” 1974 card:

Hudson appeared in 12 games for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1972 season, the first taste of Major League ball he’d have.
He picked up a win against no losses, with a 5.11 earned run average over 12.1 innings of work, all out of the bullpen.
After a 1973 season that saw him as a Texas Ranger, going 4-2 with a 4.62 E.R.A. in 25 games, four of which were starts, he’d be out of the big leagues until 1975 when he made it back with the California Angels, appearing in the last three games of his short three-year career, going 0-1 with a bloated 9.53 E.R.A. to finish up at 5-3, with a 5.04 career E.R.A. in 40 appearances and 80.1 innings pitched.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


The next player featured in my on-going 1975 “In-Action” sub-set is the one and only Jim Palmer, 3-time Cy Young winner and ace of the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff for almost 20-years:

Though coming off of an uncharacteristically season in 1974 that saw him go 7-12 in only 26 games, he still posted an E.R.A. Of 3.27 with a couple of shutouts.
But of course that wasn’t the Jim Palmer we were used to, because for four years before AND after that season, he’s post 20-wins each and every time, as well as E.R.A.’s under 3.00 while racking up shutouts, innings and awards, including the aforementioned Cy Youngs, four Gold Gloves, six all-star game nods and an 8-3 postseason record with three championships.
Palmer will always be considered one of the era’s great pitchers, along with guys like Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton, the other 3-time (four for Carlton) Cy Young winners of that time period.
Just an amazing career.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Here’s a 1974 “missing” card for former infielder Ed Crosby, who split 1973 between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds:

Crosby played in a combined 58 games in 1973, batting .178 with 16 hits over 90 at-bats while playing all but first base in the infield.
He’d go on to play another three seasons before closing out his six-year career with a .220 batting average along with 149 hits and 67 runs scored in 677 at-bats and 297 games.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


The next “Baseball Brothers” card in my on-going sub-set through the 1970’s are the Allen brothers, Dick, Hank and Ron, who all made it to the “Big Show”, with Dick of course leading the way as a bonafide star:

Dick, then known as “Richie”, made it to the Majors first and made an immediate impact, winning the National league Rookie of the Year Award with one of the all-time rookie campaigns, hitting .318 with a league-leading 125 runs scored and 13 triples, with 38 doubles, 29 homers and 91 runs batted in.
He’d go on to play 15-years while picking up an American League MVP Award (just missing a Triple Crown title), along with seven all-star nods.
He would top 30 homers six times, leading the league twice with 37 and 32 respectively in 1972 and 1974 while with the Chicago White Sox.
Though the oldest of the trio, Hank made it to the big league in 1966 and put together a seven year career playing for the Washington Senators, Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox along with Dick.
Never a full-time player, he’d finish with a .241 batting average along with 212 hits in 881 at-bats in 389 games.
It’s worth noting that once drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, he tore up the minor league system between 1960 and 1966, knocking in 100+ runs three times and topping 20 homers three times, with a high of 37 in 1962 along with 140 RBI’s.
The youngest of the three Allen brothers, Ron just had a cup of coffee in the Majors in 1972, playing seven games with the St. Louis Cardinals during the month of August and hitting a home run for his only hit.
I don’t know why, but 1972 would be his final season as a pro Majors or Minors, and I wonder why since he was only 28 at the time. Would love to know more about him and what happened, if anything.

Nevertheless I'm always amazed when two brothers, let alone THREE or more, make the Major Leagues or any other pro sport. Awesome.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Here’s a long-overdue “nickname” card for the great Johnny Bench, the “Little General”, who led the Cincinnati Reds through their “Big Red Machine” juggernaut teams of the decade to consecutive World Championships in 1975-76:

Though not really the most recognized nickname of the decade in baseball, Bench was tagged with it early on when it was clear this guy was a leader as well as a natural on the diamond.
All he would go on to do is win the National league Rookie of the Year as a 20-year old in 1968, win TWO Most Valuable Player Awards by the age of 24, and win those aforementioned championships by the age of 28.
Just an incredible career that took him straight to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1989, as if there was any chance of that NOT happening!
One of the all-time great catchers regardless of era.

Friday, April 21, 2017


Here’s a “not really” missing 1971 Minnie Mendoza card that really came out well, for the long-time minor league player who got a cup of coffee in 1970:

Mendoza FINALLY got to the Majors after 16 years in the Minor Leagues, originally appearing way back in 1954!
In his MLB cup-of-coffee he appeared in 16 games with 16 at-bats, collecting three hits and batting .188.
But don’t let those numbers fool you. This guy flat out HIT in his 20 years in the Minor Leagues, collecting 2462 hits and batting .290!
Granted, most of his hitting was in the lower levels, but I’m curious as to why he didn’t get more of a shot in the Major League level after some really fine seasons.
After his brief ZMLB appearance he was back in the Minors until the 1973 season, where he played for Monterray in the Mexican League at the age of 39.
Pretty interesting career to look into!

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Here’s the next 1975 “In Action” card, this time it’s Mets ace Tom Seaver, who was on his way to a third Cy Young Award by the time the season was over:

After posting a record of 11-11 in 1974, Seaver came back with a vengeance in 1975, going 22-9 with a 2.8 earned run average and 243 strikeouts, leading the league in wins and K’s.
He was in prime form in the mid-70’s, putting together nine straight 200 strikeouts seasons while getting tabbed to ten all-star teams in his first eleven seasons.
Of course, being in your prime didn’t mean that the improbable could happen, as Mets fans found out on June 15th of 1977 when Seaver found himself traded to the Cincinnati Reds for four players, which at the time seemed like the rich (Reds) were getting richer.
But as baseball has shown everyone many times, having a team that is STOCKED doesn’t translate to championship seasons every time, as the Reds suddenly found themselves second-fiddle to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the West, never making it to the World Series with Seaver on their team.
Nevertheless, Seaver would ride his power-pitching straight to the Hall of Fame, finishing up with 311 wins, a 2.86 E.R.A., 61 shutouts and 3640 K’s.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


The next “Decade Leader” card for the 1960’s is Earned Run Average, sporting a couple of all-time low E.R.A.’s no matter what the decade:

Of course for the National League we have St Louis Cardinals great Bob Gibson, who posted one of the lowest E.R.A.’s in history at 1.13.
He achieved this with help from no one else but himself, as he posted 13 shutouts accounting for all but nine of his 22 wins, yet the guy STILL lost nine games that season!
He completed 28 of 34 starts, almost threw nothing but zeros in HALF of them, yet still came up with nine losses. Incredible!
Of course he would take home the Cy Young Award AND MVP for the N.L. For his troubles, along with his fourth Gold Glove and fifth all-star nod, on his way into the hallowed doors of Cooperstown.
Over in the American League, the decade’s lowest ERA was posted by “El Tiante” Luis Tiant, who was sadly overshadowed in the “Year of the Pitcher”, but would have EASILY taken home a Cy Young had he posted the numbers he did any other season.
All Tiant did that season for the Cleveland Indians was go 21-9 with nine shutouts over 32 starts, 19 of which he completed, and sport a sparkling 1.60 E.R.A. along with 264 strikeouts!
Forget Cy Young Award, those are MVP numbers!
However, there was a guy named Denny McLain winning 31 games for the eventual World Champion Detroit Tigers, so Tiant went home empty-handed.
He would actually go on to struggle over the next three seasons until making an awesome comeback with the Boston Red Sox in 1972, once again leading the A.L. In E.R.A. With a sub-2.00 figure, this time at 1.91.
He’d be in the Majors to stay after that, pitching through to 1982 and finishing with 229 wins along with 49 shutouts, a 3.30 E.R.A. and 2416 strikeouts over his 19-year career.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Today’s “Negro league Legend” is none other than arguably the most well-known star and personality of them all,  pitching great Satchel Paige:

From his start as a 20-year old playing for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1927 to his final Major League appearance as a 59-year old for the Kansas City Athletics, Paige became an American icon not only for his on-field play but for his infectious personality.
Though his career Negro League record is listed as 100-50 over 18-seasons, he won countless other games along the way, as was the usual for the Negro Leagues as they played exhibition and non-league games during gaps in their schedule.
His stories are legend, enough so that by the time the Baseball Hall of Fame got off their ass and finally began electing Negro League all-time greats to Cooperstown, Paige was the very 1st to be so honored.
A 5x time Negro League all-star, 2x American League all-star, Negro League champ in 1942 with the Homestead Grays, and Major League World Champion with the 1948 Cleveland Indians, Paige left a baseball legacy that few could come close to.
If you haven’t already please do yourself a favor and read up on anything you can regarding the anecdotes on Paige, from BOTH his Negro league days through to his Major League tenure!
Honestly, if I were to go and write a full bio on the guy, it would end up being a BOOK! So forgive the relatively short write-up here.
Some guys are such legends there really isn’t much that needs to be said...

Monday, April 17, 2017


Next up in my “Major League Founders” thread is former infielder Joe Battin, who played 10 scattered years as a professional player between 1871 and 1890:

Battin originally came up for a single game for the Cleveland club of the National Association in 1871 at the age of 17, followed by a single game two seasons later for the Philadelphia Athletics before finally becoming a full-time player in 1874.
An early “good-field/no-hit” player, he played in the Major Leagues’ first two seasons in 1876 & 1877, putting in his best season at the plate during the inaugural 1876 campaign when he batted .300.
Considering his next highest batting average as a pro would be the .250 he hit the year before, that .300 average was indeed an aberration.
He would be out of pro-ball until 1882 when he played for the Pittsburgh club of the American Association, for whom he’d play the next season as well.
In 1884 he’d play for no less than three clubs, in both the AA and Union Association, batting a cumulative .164 average while playing shortstop.
Again, he’d miss a few seasons before coming back to pro-ball in 1890, his last action as a Major League player, when he’s suit up for Syracuse of the AA at the age of 36, batting .210.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Here’s a “not so missing” 1973 card for former shortstop John Gamble, who appeared in a scant six games for the Detroit Tigers during his rookie 1972 season:

Gamble played in the first six games of what would be a short 13-game career in 1972, going hitless in three at-bats in pinch-hit roles while playing one game at shortstop.
The following year he’d play in seven games for Detroit, oddly enough listed as a designated hitter yet not having a single plate appearance (?), though he did score a run.
Sadly for him that would be it for the Majors, though he would stick it out in the Minor Leagues until the 1976 season in Triple-A ball.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


The next 1975 “In-Action” card in my series is none other than the great Johnny Bench, smack in the middle of his incredible career leading the “Big Red Machine”:

Bench already had two MVP’s under his belt by the time this card would have hit the market, and was just about to become a two-time world champion with two straight World Series wins in 1975 and 1976 against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees respectively.
He would put together a career rarely seen by ANY player, let alone a catcher: 14 all-star games, 10 Gold Gloves, two home run titles and three RBI titles, all while donning the “tools of ignorance” for 17 seasons, all with the Reds.
Look for my “Nicknames of the 70s” card for the “Little General” coming soon!

Friday, April 14, 2017


Thanks to my buddy John Seibel, I was sent an awesome photo (and idea) just perfect for a 1970’s “Highlight” card, Don Money and his errorless streak at third base during the 1974 season:

How great is this picture?!
Money, who was one of the top defensive third baseman of his era, played in 86 straight games without an error, with 78 setting the new record as shown on the decorated base he’s holding.
Oddly enough he’d go on to play various positions soon after this, even starting the 1978 all-star game for the American League at second base, leading to his all-star card in the 1979 set.
He wasn’t all defense however, as he’d hit as many as 25 home runs in a season (1977), as well as collect as many as 178 hits (1974) during his 16-year career.
The four-time all-star would retire after the 1983 season with 1623 hits, 176 homers and 798 runs scored over 1720 games.
Thanks John for the photo and card-idea!

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Next up in my 1960’s “Seasonal Leaders” thread is shutouts, and we have a couple of doozies at the top of the decade, Bob Gibson and Dean Chance with their excellent seasons in 1968 and 1964 respectively:

Of course, Bob Gibson had a season for the ages in ‘68, throwing 13 shutouts on his way to a microscopic 1.13 earned run average and a 22-9 record. Though how on earth he had NINE losses is beyond me even though I read through all the box scores! It just seems impossible to do!
But in the “Year of the Pitcher” of 1968 all sorts of craziness happened, and Gibson’s loss total was one of them.
The 13 shutouts is good for second all-time in Major League history, tied with Jack Coombs of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1910, and only behind the 16 thrown by Grover Alexander in 1916 and George Bradley in MLB’s inaugural season of 1876.
For Dean Chance, his Cy Young winning 1964 season was also one for the ages, as he cruised to a 20-9 record with a minuscule 1.65 ERA and 11 shutouts over 46 games, with 35 of them starts.
The 11 shutouts are the fourth highest total by a pitcher in any MLB season, and was accomplished by eight hurlers, with only Chance and Sandy Koufax doing it in “modern” times.
As a matter of fact, since Gibson’s 13 shutouts in ‘68, only TWO pitchers have reached double-digits since then, Jim Palmer with 10 in 1975 and John Tudor with the same amount in 1985.
Tim Belcher is the last pitcher to throw as many as eight shutouts in a season, which he accomplished in 1989, a season in which he only posted 15 wins. More than half of his wins were shutouts. Amazing.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Here’s a “missing” card for Henry Cruz, who I also created a 1979 “missing” card for some time ago:

Cruz appeared in 49 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 1976 season, batting .182 with 16 hits in 88 at-bats while playing all three outfield positions.
He’d find himself in the South Side of Chicago for the ‘77 season, being selected off waivers by the White Sox on September 7th, and for whom he’d play the next two years before playing out his pro career in the minor leagues and Mexico through 1985.
Oddly enough, before being selected by the White Sox in 1977, he was tearing it up in the Pacific Coast League with the Albuquerque Dukes, batting .353 with 88 ribbies and 95 runs scored in 133 games, easily his finest pro season.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Here’s a “not so missing” 1972 card for Rudy Arroyo, who pitched the sole nine games of his Major League career in June of 1971:

Arroyo would make his debut on June 1st, and end up pitching his last game three weeks later, pitching 11.2 innings over those nine games, picking up a loss for his only decision along with a 5.40 ERA.
He’d pitch in the minor leagues for the next three seasons, but would never make it back to the big leagues, eventually retiring after the 1974 season after only six games with St. Petersburg of the Florida League.

Monday, April 10, 2017


The next 1975 “In Action” card in my new thread is Indians ace Gaylord Perry, who was smack in the middle of a great run that would lead him right to Cooperstown:

Perry was coming off of his fourth 20-win season in 1975, already leading BOTH leagues in wins with 23 in 1970 and 24 in 1972.
A work-horse, he logged 300+ innings six out of seven seasons between 1969 and 1975, with a high of 344 in 1973.
He’d go on to win yet another Cy Young Award in 1978 at the age of 39, this time in the National League while with the San Diego Padres, and would go on to finish with 314 wins along with 3534 strikeouts, 53 shutouts and a nice 3,11 ERA over 777 games, 690 of which were starts.
The five-time all-star would finally find himself in the Hall of Fame in 1991 when he was named on 342 of 443 ballots, capping off an awesome 22-year career.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


Just wanted to take the time out to spotlight the 1977 Dave Duncan Topps card today for a couple of reasons, first off being the airbrushing job:

As with a bunch of the other Chicago White Sox in the 1977 set, Duncan was airbrushed into the organization’s new uniforms, giving us airbrush classics like this one.
Definitely not the worst of the bunch, but it turns out it was all for nothing since Duncan, who was traded by the Baltimore Orioles in November of 1976 for Pat Kelly, ended up being released right before the 1977 season began, on March 30th.
He’d never catch on as a player again in the Majors, but as we all know he would go on to an incredibly successful coaching career, beginning with the Cleveland Indians in 1979 and running straight through to 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Between 1983 and 2011 he continuously worked as a coach for manager Tony LaRussa, including the Oakland “Bash Brothers” run and later on the Albert Pujols-era Cardinals, leading to three championships (1989, 2006 and 2011).
On a side note: though he showed some “pop” as a player, hitting as many as 19 home runs in 1972 with Oakland, his 1966 minor league season was eye-popping on the back of a baseball card!
With the Modesto Reds of the California League, he hit an incredible 46 home runs, along with 112 runs batted in and 103 runs scored in only 439 at-bats!
His NEXT highest home run total in the minors was 15, which was the previous year!
I don’t know what was going on that season in Modesto, but something HAD to be different. No? Makes no sense.
Anyone have a clue? Would love to hear it...

Saturday, April 8, 2017


The next “Future Star” card in the series is that of eventual Hall of Fame pitcher extraordinaire Tome Seaver, who was in the middle of his first full season as a Cincinnati Reds player after his heart-breaking trade (to us New Yorkers anyway) the previous season:

Though he didn’t put up the numbers that made him one of the game’s best while the ace of the New York Mets between 1967 and midway through the 1977 season, he was still effective, averaging 12 wins per season, including what should have been a FOURTH Cy Young season during the strike-shortened 1981 campaign.
That year he went 14-2 with a .875 winning percentage (both league leading numbers), along with a sparkling 2.54 earned run average and 87 strikeouts over 23 starts and 166.1 innings.
Of course, the world was wrapped up in “Fernando-mania”, so Valenzuela wound up with the award, just one of the short-ends the Reds got when you consider they had the BEST record in baseball in 1981, but because of that ridiculous “split-season” ruling they didn’t even qualify for the playoffs since they weren’t in 1st place at the beginning of the strike or at season’s end (figure that one out!).
Anyway, Seaver was a star baseball player before he was even a pro, commanding HUGE attention during his college days, eventually leading to some controversy when he originally signed with the Braves in 1966, only to have the signing voided, allowing the New York Mets to make arguably the best pick in franchise history in the 1966 amateur draft.
The man would end up 311-205 record with 61 shutouts and 3640 strikeouts along with a brilliant 2.86 ERA over 20-seasons and 656 appearances, 647 of which were starts.
The man WAS 1970’s power-pitching along with Nolan Ryan!

Friday, April 7, 2017


Here’s a “missing” 1975 card for former Milwaukee Brewer Rob Ellis, who appeared in 22 games during the 1974 season:

Ellis played mainly in the outfield over those 22 games, along with a single game at Third, while batting a very respectable .292 with 14 hits in 48 at-bats.
It was the first Major League action he saw since his rookie 1971 season when he debuted with 36 games for the second-year franchise.
In 1975 he would play in what would end up being the last six games of his abbreviated three-year career, collecting two hits in seven at-bats while scoring three runs.
All together, he’d finish with a .229 lifetime average with 38 hits in 166 at-bats, all while a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Here’s a “not really” missing 1973 card for Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Dave Downs, who appeared in his only Major League games during the 1972 season:

Downs pitched in a grand total of four games for the Phillies in 1972, all starts, going 1-1 with a shutout and very nice 2.74 earned run average over 23 innings.
I don’t know why he never made it back based on that performance, though I’m sure injury had something to do with it as he missed the 1973 season completely, even Minors, then followed that up with only six games in 1974 with Rocky Mountain of the Carolina League (A-Ball).
He would also miss the 1975 season, before playing out his final 11 pro games in 1976 with Spartanburg in A-Ball, going 1-6 with a bloated 9.39 ERA.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Came across a very nice shot of Rollie Fingers in Boston Red Sox garb and just had to create a card for him and the sale that never was:

For those of you who are not familiar, Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley was facing a HUGE problem with Free Agency on the horizon for all of his stars, including his top reliever Rollie Fingers.
Rather than lose them all to the highest bidder, he was determined to cash in ahead of time, and decided on somewhat of a fire sale.
This included selling pitcher Vida Blue to the Yankees for $1.5 million, and Joe Rudi along with Fingers to the Red Sox for $1 million apiece.
However, once the sale went through Baseball Commisioner Bowie Kuhn came along and determined that these sales were NOT in the best interest of the sport, and nullified the deals.
Fingers was a member of the Red Sox for just three days, from June 15th-18th, and never appeared in a game.
It was back to Oakland for him where he’d finish up the 1976 season with a 13-11 record along with a 2.47 earned run average over 70 games, with 20 saves in 134.2 innings pitched.
Just as Finley feared, he lost the core of his three-peat championship club to free agency, including Fingers who signed with the San Diego Padres where he’d star for the next four seasons, pacing the National League in saves his first two years with 35 and 37 respectively.
Of course he’d go on to finish a Hall of Fame career with four years with the Milwaukee Brewers, ending up at 341 saves with a 2.90 ERA and 114 wins over 944 games, all but 37 of them out of the bullpen.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Here’s a “missing” 1973 card for former Cleveland Indians outfielder Ron Lolich, a player I already created a 1974 card a while back:

Lolich appeared in 24 games during the 1972 season, batting .188 with 15 hits over 80 at-bats with a couple of home runs and eight runs batted in.
It was during the 1973 season that he’d see the bulk of his Major League action, appearing 61 games and collecting 32 hits over 140 at-bats, good for a .229 average.
Sadly for Lolich, that would be the last of his MLB action, as he would move on to the Japanese League with the Nankai Hawks in 1974 and 1975 where he would club 27 and 22 homers before moving on to the Kintetsu organization in 1976 before calling it a pro career.
He’d end up with a .211 Major League average, with 48 hits over 228 at-bats in 87 games, all but two of those games with the Indians, the others being with the Chicago White Sox, for whom he came up with in 1971.

Monday, April 3, 2017


Here’s a new thread I’m starting that’s going to be really fun to put together, a 1975 “In Action” sub-set just like Topps did in 1972.
The first player will be Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski:

With so many great in-action cards in the 1975 set, it always bothered me that so many of the stars DIDN’T have action cards, so I figured I’d find some good in-game photos of the day’s best players and run a sub-set that was clean, devoid of “extra” type, and focused on the photo itself.
Of course, Yastrzemski by 1975 was smack in the middle of his Hall of Fame career, but still an all-star and feared American League batter.
It was a transition season of sorts for Yaz and the Red Sox, as the veteran slugger was giving way to young upstarts like Fred Lynn, Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, players who’d carry on what Yastrzemski took over from Ted Williams in the early 1960’s.
Of course, that 1975 season was a magical one for the Boston organization, with the team playing (though losing) against the “Big Red Machine” Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, and having BOTH the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the form of the same player, Fred Lynn, that being the first time in Major League history that happened.
Throw in a player that would end up in the Hall of Fame in Jim Rice, a borderline Hall of Famer in Dwight Evans, and of course the future Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk, and you have a team that defined "loaded".

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Today we add the legendary slugger Josh Gibson to my “Negro Leagues Legends” 1972 sub-set, celebrating what was at the time the 25th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color-line in Major League baseball:

Really, what needs to be said about one of the all-time baseball (of ANY league) legends anyone has ever seen?
I remember when I was a kid in the late-70’s/early-80’s, before the internet and information at the tips of your fingers, I would see that image of Gibson in the Guiness Book of World Records, along with their statement that he clubbed over 800 home runs during his playing career, as well as over 70 in a season, and just marvel and wonder about the “what if’s”.
What a treat it would have been to have fully documented numbers and achievements by Gibson against all players. Luckily what we do have are his numbers against his fellow Negro National League players, and they were just as amazing!
By the time Gibson retired at the young age of 34 in 1946, he put up a career average of .350, with 107 home runs in 1825 at-bats. Mind you, this doesn’t take into account all the home runs he blasted in other games such as the Dominican, Mexican, and Cuban (Winter League) games!
Informally, Gibson is credited with a .359 career average with 962 homers, hitting as many as 69 in 1934 and 55 the year before, including barnstorming games.
There’s so much I could write here, but for those who haven’t already, just read up on ANYTHING you can regarding Gibson’s career, it’ll blow your mind, including some of the anecdotes, and you’ll see why he’s considered not only one of the greatest catchers of all-time (in any league), but one of the greatest players, period.

Sadly, he passed away at only 35 years of age, never really seeing all the accolades that would come his way after he was no longer with us.
Such a shame. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017


I'm happy to announce the availability of the next issue of "WTHBALLS", issue #10: 1977 "Missing in Action".
This issue features a "career capper" for all-time greats Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson, as well as cards for Billy Williams, Tony Oliva, Andre Thornton, Minnie Minoso and many more.
The issue also comes with a full-color postcard of the Aaron card, ready to be collected as-is or cut-out to add to your 1977 set! They look great in a penny-sleeve and rigid holder.
As usual, this issue is a 24-page full-color comic-sized magazine and can be purchased for $5 each plus $2 postage.
Don't forget, I also have every back issue available if you missed one! Please contact me for combined shipping rates for multiple issue orders!
Thank you to all who have been collecting these, it's been a blast getting these made for my own personal collection and it's great to see all this work get some attention from others.
Take Care


Next up in my 1960’s “decade’s Leaders” thread is strikeouts by a pitcher, and we have two big guns to speak of, Sandy Koufax and Sam McDowell, who K’d 382 and 325 batters respectively in seasons during the decade, setting the high-water mark between 1960-69:

Of course, Koufax and his 382 strikeouts set the new modern Major League record in 1965, topping the 349 strikeouts Rube Waddell put up in 1904.
As a matter of fact, until Koufax came along the National League record for strikeouts in a season was the 267 by Christy Mathewson in 1903! So that number jumped by nearly 50% thanks to the “Left Arm of God”!
In the American League, McDowell’s 325 strikeouts in 1965 made him the first pitcher to top 300 K’s in a season since the great Bob Feller did it 19 years earlier when he fanned 348 batters in 1946.
“Sudden Sam” would also top 300 K’s in 1970, when he struck out 304 batters to lead the league for the fifth time in six years, his last K-crown.
Two power-pitchers in the prime of their careers right here, bringing back the strikeout game after a few decades of low seasonal leader totals.


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