Saturday, March 31, 2018


Here’s a 1973 “not so missing” card for former Orioles pitcher Dave Leonhard, who wrapped up a six-year Major League career in 1972 with 14 appearances:

Leonhard, who spent all of his Big League time with the Orioles, didn’t factor in a decision while pitching to a 4.50 earned run average over 20 innings of work.
Over his career, which began in 1967, he went 16-14 with a nice 3.15 ERA over 117 appearances, 29 of them starts, while throwing 337 innings.
He saw his most single-season action in 1968 when he posted a record of 7-7 over 28 games, with an ERA of 3.13 with two shutouts in 126.1 innings.
Not a bad time to come up with the Baltimore organizations, as he was a member of three World Series bound teams in his six seasons, appearing in two of them: 1969 and 1971.

Friday, March 30, 2018


Today I present one of my personal “white whales”, a 1972 “not really missing” card for former catcher Paul Ratliff of the Milwaukee Brewers:

Luckily, I’m doing a small project for the Brewers organization, and my buddy Jason over there was able to track an image of Ratliff in Brewers garb!
Ratliff was traded over to the Brewers from the Minnesota Twins for Phil Roof, and played 23 games for his new team to finish off the 1971 season.
He’d end up playing another 22 games for them in 1972, which would end up being the last MLB action he’d see in his Big League career.
Originally up in 1963 with the Twins as a 19-year-old, he was on a multi-player rookie card in the 1963 Topps set, then would have to wait all the way to 1970 for another card, sharing it with tragic figure Herman Hill.
I don’t know what happened after the 1972 season, but it seems that Ratliff never even played Minor League ball after that.
Anyone know what happened?
As it was, he finished his four-year MLB career with a .205 average over 145 games and 297 at-bats, with 61 hits and 12 home runs to go with 28 runs scored and 42 runs batted in.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


Time to go and give former pitcher Eddie Solomon a “not so missing” 1974 card after his first taste of the Big Leagues the previous season:

Solomon, who would go on to pitch 10 years in the Major Leagues, appeared in four games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1973, not factoring in a decision with a 7.11 earned run average over 6.1 innings.
He’d appear in just four games the following season as well, but would see much better results, posting an ERA of 1.50 over 6 innings, allowing just one earned run.
He’d spend the rest of his career as an arm that could start or come out of the bullpen, mainly with the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he pitched between 1977 and 1982.
He finished his career with a record of 36-42, along with an ERA of exactly 4.00 over 191 appearances and 718 innings, with 95 of those games as starts.
Sadly, in January of 1986 at the young age of only 34, he died in a car accident in Macon, Georgia.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Here’s a “not so missing” 1972 card for a pitcher who appeared in exactly one game for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971, Bob Chlupsa:

After appearing in 14 games for the Cardinals in 1970 as a rookie, Chlupsa made it back to the Big Leagues the following season, but for one game, and two innings of work.
Facing nine batters, Chlupsa allowed three hits and two earned runs while striking out one, giving him an “even” 9.00 earned run average for his efforts.
After starting the season in 1972 in the Cardinals Minor League system, he was traded over to the San Diego Padres, where he pitched for the Hawaii Islanders for the final season and a half of his career, never making it back to a Major League mound.
For his brief 15 game MLB career, he finished 0-2 with a 8.84 ERA over 18.1 innings pitched, all out of the bullpen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Today I post up a card for a guy who is in our thoughts, “Le Grande Orange” Rusty Staub, who put together a magnificent 23-year Major League career:

Staub was putting in some solid years for the New York Mets when this card would have come out, though he’d find himself soon traded to the Detroit Tigers in part of the Mickey Lolich trade, a terrible move for the Mets.
A six-time All-Star, he would finish his great career as the premier pinch-hitter in the game, the last five of which were back at Shea Stadium with the Mets, beloved by so many, even Yankee fans like me.
By the time he retired he finished with 2716 hits, 292 homers, 1466 runs batted in and 1189 runs scored, becoming one of the few players to homer as both a teenager and a 40-year old. At the time he achieved the feat Ty Cobb was the only other player to do it as well.
“Le Grand Orange” Rusty Staub, fan-favorite.

Monday, March 26, 2018


You’d think a guy with as cool a name as Puchy Delgado would have gotten a card, or even a slot on a multi-player rookie card, in 1978 after a brief stint in the Big Leagues, but no dice, so I made one and present it today:

Delgado was a September call-up for the Seattle Mariners in their inaugural season of 1977, batting .182 with four hits in 22 at-bats, all singles.
Turns out it would be the only Major League experience he’d get, playing out the rest of his Pro career in the Minors through the 1979 season, the last of which was in the Kansas City Royals organization.
Between 1973 and 1976 he was actually a member of the Boston Red Sox organization, getting drafted by Seattle in the expansion draft.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Time to go and give the Yankees captain, Thurman “Tugboat” Munson, a “Nicknames of the 1970’s” card, using the 1977 format since he was coming off of arguably his best Major League season:

Munson was just coming off of an MVP season in 1976, batting .302 while driving in over 100 runs for the second straight season while leading the Yankees to their first World Series appearance since 1964. He also burned on the base paths, stealing a career-high 14 bases!
What amazes me is that over 616 at-bats and 665 plate appearances the man struck out only 38 times. Just incredible.
His stretch between 1975 and 1978 is also incredible since he averaged about 185 hits over the four-year span, something I believe hasn’t been matched by any other MLB catcher before him, and only Ivan Rodriguez since.
Such a great career cut short by tragedy, though as I recall, Munson was seriously considering retirement by the end of the decade because of nagging injuries and missing his family because of the grind of a full-season.
Nevertheless, a Rookie of the Year in 1970, an MVP in 1976, and two straight championships in 1977 and 1978. A wonderful career for the New York Yankees legend.

Saturday, March 24, 2018


I have to admit, as I initially scoured the decade for players who had a long career and had their last card in the 1970’s, I completely missed long-time Detroit Tigers outfielder Mickey Stanley!
So here’s his 1979 addition to one of my favorite sub-sets from the blog:

Stanley was a four-time Gold Glove center-fielder who played his entire career with the Tigers, from 1964 when he came up as a 21-year-old through the 1978 season.
From 1967 to 1973 he was a starter, putting in solid seasons in Motown where he twice went full seasons without an error (1968 and 1971).
By the time he retired, he finished with a .248 batting average, with 1243 hits over 5022 at-bats, with 641 runs scored and exactly 500 RBIs in 1516 games.
I have always loved the careers of guys like Stanley, Roy White, Bob Montgomery, who played for 10 or more years, never really being a super-star or even a full-timer in some cases, yet all with the same team.
Imagine that today.

Friday, March 23, 2018


Here’s a “not so missing” 1977 card for a guy who I always seemed to pull out of wax packs years later, former outfielder Joe Simpson:

Simpson started his Major League career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, first getting a taste of Big League ball in 1975 with nine games before appearing in 23 games during the 1976 season.
In ‘76, Simpson collected four hits over 30 at-bats, hitting an anemic .133 with a double and two runs scored while playing all three outfield positions.
He’d go on to play two more seasons for the Dodgers, never getting much playing time for the National League champs over those two years, before finding himself in Seattle, where he would get to play more over the course of the next four years.
Between 1979 and 1982 he averaged about 110 games a year before ending up with the Kansas City Royals in 1983 in what would end up being his last year as a Major League player.
Overall, Simpson finished his nine-year career with a .242 average based on his 338 hits in 1397 at-bats, with 166 runs scored and 124 runs batted in, while also leaving his mark on a pre-teen kid who’d constantly see “Joe Simpson” on what seemed every other card in the early-80’s.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Here was a fun card to produce, a “not so missing” 1979 Mark Budaska, who had a brief two-year MLB career spanning 1978-1981:

Budaska, who to me had a surname that screamed “slugger”, actually was not, however he did appear in four games for the A’s in 1978, his first taste of the Majors.
Over those four games he went 1-for-4 at the plate with a double and a walk, while also striking out two times, playing a game each in Right and Left Field.
However that brief time in the Big Leagues was short lived, as he would go on to spend the next two seasons in the Minor Leagues, putting in some decent numbers, combining for a batting average right around .300.
It wasn’t until 1981 that he’d make it all the way back up, appearing in nine games for the A’s during their “Billy-Ball” era, where he would end up batting .156 with five hits over 32 at-bats.
The following seasons, however, he would take his talents over to Japan where he spent the final season of his pro career playing for the Taiyo Whales in the Central League, barely hovering over .200.
Budaska is another player who spent a considerable time as a pro-player in the United States, in his case nine years, all with one organization (just like recently profiled Jim Minshall).
I find these guys interesting, wondering if they either felt stuck with the same club, or perhaps felt they had a greater level of expectation.
I wonder...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Here’s a “not so missing” 1975 card for former Pirates pitcher Jim Minshall, for whom I also produced a 1976 card a while back:

Minshall appeared in five games for Pittsburgh in 1974, the first appearances of his Big League career, going 0-1 and not allowing a run over 4.1 innings of work, including three strikeouts.
But he would start the following year in the Minors, only getting into a single game for the Pirates in 1975, the last MLB appearance of his career.
He’d spend the entirety of 1976 in Pittsburgh’s Triple-A level, before retiring as a player after the season.
It’s interesting to see that he played eleven seasons in Pro ball, all of them with the Pirates. You’d think if he was around that long they’d have used him more than the sum total of six games in that time.
Nevertheless, in his six appearances and 5.1 innings pitched he never allowed a run, while striking out five and giving up just one hit. Pretty nice showing, albeit brief, for his abbreviated career.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Time for a “Missing in Action” 1978 card, this one for former Detroit Tigers pitcher Steve Grilli, who appeared in 30 games in 1977:

Grilli posted a record of 1-2 for Detroit that season with an earned run average of 4.83, even starting two games while throwing a career-high 72.2 innings.
Ironically, he pitched less the season before yet was given a Topps card in the 1977 set. Go figure.
However, after being purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays just before the 1978 season, he’d spend the entire year in the Minors, not getting back to a Major League mound until 1979, and even then it was for one last game, pitching 2.1 innings of scoreless ball as a late-September call-up against the Red Sox before spending the next two years in the Minors.
He’d play out the rest of his Pro career in the Toronto and Baltimore Orioles organizations, retiring as a player after the 1981 season.
Years later, his son Jason would begin a much longer and successful Major League career, still going as of this writing, pitching 15 seasons as a reliever, with just under 600 appearances on a Big League mound.

Monday, March 19, 2018


Time for a 1974 “not really missing” card for former pitcher Craig Skok, who started his career with 11 appearances with the 1973 Boston Red Sox:

Skok, who’d later get a Topps card as a member of the Atlanta Braves in 1979, posted a record of 0-1 in his first taste of Big League ball in ‘73, with a bloated 6.28 earned run average over 28.2 innings pitched.
He wouldn’t appear in another Major League game until 1976, now as a member of the Texas Rangers, posting another 0-1 season before coming back to the Majors in 1978 with the Braves where he’d finally get his first win, going 3-2 with a 4.35 ERA over 43 appearances and 62 innings of work.
In 1979 he’d be back with the Braves, going 1-3 with a 3.98 ERA in 44 appearances and 54.1 innings, but it would be the last time on a Big League mound, spending all of 1980 in the Minors before retiring from Pro Ball.
For his career he appeared in 107 games, all in relief, with a record of 4-7 and a 4.86 earned run average with five saves in 150 innings pitched.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Talk about a powerhouse rookie class! Today I post up a 1978 “Rookies of the Year” card for the 1977 winners of the award, both future Hall of Fame members Andre Dawson of the Montreal Expos and Eddie Murray of the Baltimore Orioles:

Has to be one of the best rookie years, up there with 1967 (Seaver & Carew) and 2001 (Pujols and Ichiro)!
In the National League Dawson was yet another good-looking prospect with Montreal at the time, joining guys like Ellis Valentine, Gary Carter and Warren Cromartie, yet ending up as the only one to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
Dawson edged out New York Mets prospect Steve Henderson by hitting 19 home runs with 65 runs batted in and 21 stolen bases, along with a .282 batting average.
In the American League you had future RBI-machine Eddie Murray, who just set the table for what was to become an incredible 21-year career by hitting 27 homers, with 88 RBIs and a .283 batting average. Basically, you could pencil that average in over the rest of his career as he’d go on to knock in 1917 RBIs and hit 504 homers, while collecting 3255 hits with a .287 average the rest of the way.
The man was a model of consistency, knocking in over 90 RBIs twelve times, including six 100+ seasons, along with 20+ homers 16 times!
Two absolute studs of the game who happened to come up at the same time, and both ending up as members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


The next player in my on-going “1977 Expansion” re-do is the Seattle Mariners’ big winner during their inaugural season, Glenn Abbott. Take a look:


Almost looks like a totally different person between the two, no?
Abbott, who was selected away from the dominant Oakland A’s clubs of the mid-70’s, ended up posting a record of 12-13 for the Mariners, easily leading all pitchers on the team pretty much across the board: wins, starts, ERA, Innings and complete games.
He’d actually be a stable arm for Seattle over the next five-and-a-half seasons before pitching the last couple seasons of his 11-year career with the Detroit Tigers, wrapping up during their World Champion year of 1984.
Al told, he was a member of three championship clubs during his career, finishing with a 62-83 record over 248 appearances, 206 of them starts, with five shutouts and a 4.39 ERA in 1286 innings of work.

Friday, March 16, 2018


The next player on my 1975 “In-Action” parade is former all-star pitcher Vida Blue, who was just about to go on and post his third 20-win season in five years in 1975:

Blue helped the Oakland A’s wrap up their third straight title in 1974, posting a record of 17-15 with a 3.25 earned run average over a whopping 40 starts and 282.1 innings of work.
1975 would be better from a personal standpoint, as he’d go on to win 22 games against 11 losses, with a 3.01 ERA and 189 strikeouts, the most next to his 301 from his MVP/Cy Young season of 1971, even if the Oakland dynasty was coming to an end, especially with most of the big names on the team either getting traded or bolting via Free Agency.
Blue would go on to post 209 career victories in the Majors, having some successful seasons with the San Francisco Giants, even starting the 1978 All-Star game for the National League, while finishing up his 17-year career in 1986.
It’s amazing for me to remember that when Blue started that NL All-Star game in 1978, he wasn’t even 30 years old, yet to me he already seemed to be an aging veteran by then.
Incredible how his career turned out after such a torrid start in the early part of the decade of the 1970’s.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Time to go and give former New York Mets outfielder Pepe Mangual a career-capping “not so missing” 1978 card to finish off his career:

Mangual, who came to Shea Stadium as part of the trade that also had Jim Dwyer head South while Wayne Garrett and Del Under went up to the Montreal Expos, appeared in only eight games for the Mets in 1977, the final games of his six-year career.
He’d collect the last hit of his career, going 1-for-7 with two runs batted in, though striking out four times, for a batting average of .143, before beginning a run of six and a half seasons of Minor League ball for the California Angels.
He’d put in some solid years in the Minors, but never get a call back up to the Majors, playing out his pro career in 1984, retiring for good at the age of 32.
The only full-time action he ever had a chance at was during the 1975 season while still with Montreal, when he appeared in 140 games for the Expos, batting .245 with 126 hits and 84 runs scored and 45 RBIs, all career-highs.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Here’s a 1970 “missing in action” card for former pitcher Don Nottebart, who played out the final season of his nine-year career with 20 games for the Chicago Cubs in 1969:

Nottebart actually began the season with the New York Yankees, appearing in four games for them before ending up with the Cubs after being traded from the Cincinnati Reds, who had him returned to them from New York.
In those 20 games overall, Nottebart went 1-1 with an earned run average of 6.38 over 24 innings pitched, both decisions coming with Chicago.
Originally up with the Milwaukee Braves in 1960, his best season in the Major Leagues would have been 1963 when he posted a record of 11-8 with a 3.17 earned run average in 31 appearances, all but four as starts, including the only two shutouts of his career for the Houston Astros.
He would remain a starter the next two years before moving on to the bullpen when he joined the Reds, even posting 11 saves for them in 1966 when he appeared in 59 games and posted a nice 3.07 ERA.
Overall, he finished his MLB career with a record of 36-51, with an ERA of 3.65 in 296 Big League appearances and 928.1 innings pitched, with the aforementioned two shutouts and 21 saves.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Up on the blog today we have a career-capping “not so missing” 1973 card for former reliever Dennis Higgins, who finished up his seven-year Major League career with 15 games for the St. Louis Cardinals:

Higgins ended the season with a record of 1-2 along with a 3.97 earned run average for the Cardinals, also getting one start, the first since his rookie season of 1966.
For his career, he appeared in 241 games with a 22-23 record, with a 3.42 ERA and 46 saves, playing for the Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Cardinals.
His finest season would have been 1969 when he posted a 10-9 record with 16 saves for Washington, along with an ERA of 3.48 over 55 games and 85.1 innings pitched

Monday, March 12, 2018


Here’s a 1979 “not so missing” card for former catcher Brad Gulden, who started his career with three games with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1978:

Gulden went hitless over four at-bats in those three games, and would then find himself as a member of the New York Yankees after being traded to the Bronx for Gary Thomasson in the off-season.
He’d get some playing time with the Yankees in 1979, albeit some of that because of the tragic death of Yankees captain Thurman Munson in August, appearing in 40 games while batting .163 with 15 hits over 92 at-bats.
Over the next three seasons he’d appear in a handful of games each year, with three different teams: Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Montreal Expos, before spending the entire 1983 year in the Minors.
Back to the Majors in 1984, now with the Cincinnati reds, he’d see the most playing time he’d get in any one season during his seven-year career, appearing in 107 games, batting .226 with 66 hits over 292 at-bats, with 31 runs scored and 33 runs batted in.
The following season however, he would play in the Minors yet again, splitting the year between the Astros and Reds organizations before coming back to play the final 17 games of his Big League career with the San Francisco Giants in 1986.
All told, Gulden played in 182 games in the Major Leagues, batting an even .200 with 87 hits over 435 at-bats between 1978 and 1986.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


The next “Nickname of the 1970’s” we tackle is Freddie Patek, aka “The Flea” who anchored the shortstop position for the Kansas City Royals through the decade:

The three-time all-star was just coming off a stolen base title when this card would have come out, leading the American League with 53 steals in 1977, his second straight season topping 50-steals.
At only 5-foot 5-inches, the man certainly was diminutive in size, but he ended up putting in 14 solid years in the Major Leagues, even finishing 6th in MVP voting in 1971, his 1st season with the Royals after coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
By the time he retired after the 1981 season, he finished with a .242 average with 385 stolen bases and 736 runs scored, even starting the 1978 All-Star Game though getting ripped off an all-star card in the 1979 set, oddly having the “All-Star” banner omitted from his card.
That was a mystery for us 10-year-olds for quite some time back then!

Saturday, March 10, 2018


Someone pointed me in the right direction recently regarding my all-time favorite baseball card, and the untouched image that was used to create it: the 1976 Topps Johnny Bench card. Take a look:

I’ve mentioned it enough how I love everything about this card, since the day I first saw it over 40 years ago.
The colors, the image used, that sweet all-star designation. For me it had it all.
Seeing the original image, though still incredible with it’s clarity, the fact that Topps gave the photo a yellow-tinge which made it blend with the overall 1976 Reds design made it that much more incredible.
One of the few times I like someone messing with an image.
Now, someone also told me not too long ago that the original image didn’t have the rising dust at home plate, which crushed me until I saw this image.
I’m assuming the image here is not messed with, and that the dust is in fact part of what was going on when the shot was taken.
Can anyone show me otherwise?
As for Bench himself, this was his time, already a legend and not even close to 30 yet. I mean, the man was already a rookie of the year AND two-time NL MVP by the time he was 24, and on his way in 1976 to being a two-time world champ by 27.
Just incredible, and the fact that I got to see him play, albeit the second half of his career, makes me grateful!

Friday, March 9, 2018


Today’s “not so missing” card is for former St Louis Cardinal outfielder Charlie Chant, who appeared in 15 games during the 1976 season:

For Chant, turned out those 15 games were the last of his brief career, after appearing in the first five games of his career the previous season, with the Oakland A’s.
Over those 1976 games with St. Louis, Chant hit .143 with two hits over 14 at-bats, the only two hits of his Big League career.
He would end up spending the entire 1977 season in the Minor Leagues in the Cardinals system, splitting time between their Double and Triple-A teams, then calling it a career after hitting a combined .167.
He originally came up with the Oakland organization in 1969 as a 19-year old, playing through their system until his Major League debut in 1975.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


The next post in my “Awards” sub-sets through the 1970’s is a power-house of an MVP class, George Foster and Rod Carew, who both put together two of the great seasons of the decade in 1977 to take home their respective league awards:

In the National League, all you had was the Cincinnati Reds’ George Foster demolish the league’s pitching by leading in runs (124), home runs (52), runs batted in (149), slugging (.631) and total bases (388) while also collecting 197 hits and posting a .320 batting average.
The man was an absolute beast! So much so that it actually makes people forget he was runner up to the league’s MVP Award the previous season, losing out to teammate Joe Morgan.
In the American League, Rod Carew won his sixth batting title in supreme fashion, flirting with the magical .400 mark, ending up at .388 with a whopping 239 hits while also leading the league with 128 runs scored, a .449 on-base-percentage and 16 triples.
On top of all that he also drove in 100 runs, the only time he’d do so in his Hall of Fame career, while matching a career-high 14 home runs, not a small feat considering he won the batting title in 1972 while not hitting a single-round tripper.
He’d go on to win his seventh, and final batting title the following season, before heading out West to the California Angels where he’d play the final seven seasons of his 19-year career.
A fun card to produce because of such legendary years by these two all-stars!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Here’s a “not so missing” career-capper for former infielder Vern Fuller, who played all six of his Major League seasons with the Cleveland Indians, the last of which was 1970:

Fuller appeared in 29 games for the Tribe in 1970, batting .182 with six hits over 33 at-bats while filling in throughout the infield.
Ironically this was one year removed from the most action he had as a Big Leaguer, playing in 108 games during the 1969 season when he hit .236 with career highs in hits (60), RBIs (22), Runs (25) and at-bats (254).
Come 1972 he was out of baseball as a player completely, finishing up with a career .232 batting average with 182 hits over 785 at-bats in 325 games.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Here’s a “missing” 1974 card for former New York Mets starting pitcher Jim McAndrew, “Miracle Mets” member of 1969:

McAndrew appeared in 23 games for the Mets during the 1973 season, going 3-8 with a 5.38 earned run average over 80.1 innings of work, with just under half those appearances as a starter.
The previous season was his best as a Major League pitcher, as he posted a record of 11-8 with a nice 2.80 ERA over 28 games, 23 of which were starts, with 160.2 innings pitched.
Injuries curtailed his career, and by the beginning of the 1974 season he found himself as a member of the San Diego Padres, appearing in what would ultimately be the final 15 games of his seven-year Big League career, going 1-4 with a 5.62 earned run average over 41.2 innings.
It would be the last pro action he’d see as well, retiring and moving on to a career in coal which he would retire from some 25 years later.

Monday, March 5, 2018


Today’s “not so missing” card is a 1972 Ken Hottman, he of six games in 1971 comprising his entire Major League career:

Hottman was called up in September of 1971 and played five game in Left Field for the Chicago White Sox, going 2-for-16 at the plate, good for a .125 batting average for his Big League tenure.
Before his call-up he was tearing up Double-A ball, batting .302 that season with 37 homers and 116 runs batted in for the Asheville Tourists of the Dixie Association.
However, come the new season of 1972 it was back to the Minor Leagues, where he’d spend the rest of his pro career, playing through the 1974 season before going on to some time in the Mexican League in 1975, never coming close to the Majors or even the power level he displayed in 1971.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Next up in the 1977 expansion hit parade redo is former pitcher Dick Pole, who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners as the seventh pick in the expansion draft in late 1976:

Original card with airbrushing

Pole has the misfortune of being drafted away from the Boston Red Sox, not too far removed form a World Series berth in 1975 and still a power in the American League East.
As expected, the 1977 season was a rough one, with Pole posting a record of 7-12 with a 5.15 earned run average over 25 appearances, all but one of them as a starter.
He’d go on to pitch only one more season in the Majors, going 4-11 the following year with a bloated 6.48 ERA over 21 games and 98.2 innings of work.
He’d spend the following three years in the Minors, pitching in the Pittsburgh and Detroit systems before taking his playing experience over to coaching, something he would do for over 20 years through the 2009 season, even helping develop a young Greg Maddux back in the mid-80’s when coaching for the Chicago Cubs.

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Next up in the long-running 1975 “In Action” series is the premier American League relief pitcher at the time, the Oakland A’s Rollie Fingers:

Fingers was wrapping up a third straight world championship with the A’s in 1974, while also putting together yet another All-Star campaign, leading the AL in appearances with 76, while posting a record of 9-5 with 18 saves over 119 innings pitched.
It’s amazing to think his best years were still ahead of him, as he’d go on to San Diego and Milwaukee, where he’d lead his league in saves three times, while taking home the AL MVP and Cy Young in 1981 when he led the Brewers to the playoffs with a remarkable 1.04 ERA and a league-leading 28 saves during the strike-shortened season.
By the time he retired after the 1985 season after some injury-plagued years, he was at the top of the career saves list with 341, while posting a very nice 2.90 ERA over 944 appearances and 1701 innings pitched in 17-seasons.
In 1992, in what was his second year of eligibility, he was selected for the Hall of Fame with 81.2% of the vote, making him only the second career-reliever to be so honored, following the great Hoyt Wilhelm who was selected for induction in 1985.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Time to post up my 1973 “Nicknames of the 1970’s” card for one of my favorite underrated players of the era, Al “Scoop” Oliver of the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Oliver was the model of all-star consistency through the decade, from his rookie year of 1969 when he was robbed of the Rookie of the Year Award (losing to the Dodgers’ Ted Sizemore), straight through to his being colluded against in the mid-80’s with many others, prematurely ending his MLB career.
All he did was hit between .280 and .300 every season, racking up hits, doubles, runs batted in, while other players got the accolades: Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Gary Carter.
Of course when you get to play alongside these guys, it’s understandable how a man who put up the numbers year after year like Oliver did could go under-appreciated like he did.
But come on! Look at his career!
The seven-time All-Star finished his Big League tenure with 2743 hits, 529 doubles, 219 homers, 1326 RBIs, a .303 batting average, with ONLY 756 strikeouts over 9049 at-bats.
In 1982 he had his best season, leading the National League in batting, doubles, total bases and RBIs while also hitting 22 homers and scoring 90 runs, finishing third in MVP voting.
In 1980, thanks to guys like George Brett, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson in the American League, Oliver’s season went almost unnoticed as he collected career-highs with 209 hits, 96 runs scored, 117 RBI’s and 43 doubles while hitting .319.
I always felt he, Cecil Cooper and Miguel Dilone had great years at the wrong time (if there is such a thing), in 1980.
Seemed Oliver had a few of those years throughout his 18-year career.
Oliver for the Hall of Fame? I don’t know. I’d put him in along with Steve Garvey, Dave Parker, Vada Pinson and even Bob Johnson from the 1930’s, in appreciation for the HIGH level of play these guys put in over a long period, with brief moments of top-notch play.
Seems silly to see these careers get lost in the non-HOF shuffle for no other reason than not hitting those “magic numbers”.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Here’s a “not so missing” 1972 card for former catcher Carl Taylor, who suited up for the World Champ Pittsburgh Pirates by season’s end in 1971:

Taylor, who came over to the Bucs on September 3rd of the ‘71 season after being purchased from the Kansas City Royals, appeared in seven games, batting .167 with a couple of hits over 12 at-bats.
He began the season in Kansas City, though only appearing in 20 games on the year, collecting seven hits there over 39 at-bats for a .179 average, giving him a combined ..176 batting average for the year.
He’d find himself right back in Kansas City for the 1972 campaign, where he’d play the last two years of his MLB career, seeing his last Big League action in 1973, appearing in 69 games for KC.
He finished his 6-year MLB career with a .266 average based on his 225 hits in 846 at-bats, spread out over 411 games between 1968 and 1973.
On a personal note, Carl Taylor was the very first “old card” I ever got, finding him just laying there in the schoolyard in 1979, my mind blown by seeing a card design I had never seen before since I started collecting as a seven year old in 1976.
Sure, I’d seen some 1975’s at my cousin’s house, but I had never seen any card of any year that was older than that. So to see that nice, clean layout, unlike anything issued by Topps since 1975, was mind blowing. It was the first spark of any kind that started my life-long craze of hunting down “old cards”.
Soon after, I found an Antique Store on the other side of the neighborhood that was the mother-load, large bunches of commons rubber-banded together for 75 cents (70’s), and smaller bunches of commons for $1, of which I distinctly remember 1962’s.
On top of that, I will always remember the 9-pocket sheets hanging in his window with Mantle, Campanella, Maris, Jackie Robinson. 1959, 1956, 1958.
Sadly those cards were about $5-$10, and my mom was NOT shelling out that kind of coin for “stupid baseball cards”. Remember, this was 1979/1980.
Incredible memories some 40 years later!


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