Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Just about to write up this post when I double-checked and saw that the player featured today actually was on a multi-player rookie card in 1979, but I’ll post the card up anyway, a “dedicated rookie” for former Baltimore Orioles pitcher John Flinn:

Flinn made his Major League debut during the 1978 season, eventually appearing in 13 games while pitching to a record of 1-1 with a bloated 8.04 earned run average over 15.2 innings.
The following season he’d only appear in four games for the eventual American League champs, not factoring in a decision while not allowing an earned run in 2.2 innings.
1980 would see him suit up for the Milwaukee Brewers where he appeared in 20 games, going 2-1 with an ERA of 3.89 along with two saves in 37 innings of work, but it wasn’t enough for him to stay up in the Big Leagues, as he’d spend all of 1981 in the Minors before making it back in 1982 with the A.L. Champs for what would end up being the last five appearances of his career, this time back in Baltimore, when he went 2-0 with a very nice 1.32 ERA over 13.2 innings pitched.
After a couple of more years down in the Minors for the Baltimore organization, Flinn retired after the 1985 season, leaving the game with a record of 5-2, posting an ERA of 4.17 over 42 appearances and 69 innings pitched.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


The next no-hitter profiled here on the blog is the second gem tossed by Chicago Cubs pitcher Ken Holtzman, who kept the heavy-hitting Cincinnati Reds hitless on June 3rd of 1971:

Holtzman, who threw his first no-hitter in 1969, struck out six batters while walking four in this one in beating the Reds 1-0, scoring that lone run himself after reaching on an error in the third and coming around on a single by second baseman Glenn Beckert.
Hard-luck losing pitcher Gary Nolan pitched eight innings, striking out three and walking none, dropping to 3-6 while Holtzman improved his record to 4-6.
That Cincinnati team was no slouch, featuring a line-up of Hal McRae, Lee May, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, George Foster and Dave Concepcion.
Pretty amazing feat, but once again proves that the game of baseball is one incredible game when the unexpected seems to happen every day!

Monday, October 29, 2018


Today I post up my “not so missing” 1977 card for former Minor League slugger Roger Freed, who couldn’t take those power numbers to the Majors over his eight-year Major League career:

Freed, who put up some big time stats in the Minors during his pro career appeared in eight games with Montreal in 1976 after spending all of 1975 and most of 1976 in the Minor Leagues.
Over those eight games he hit .200 with three hits over 15 at-bats, driving in a run.
In the Minors that year all he did was hit 42 home runs while driving in 102 runs, and this was only over 398 at-bats and 122 games!
All that did for him was get drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1976 Rule 5 Draft and get part-time play over the next three seasons, which would be the final three years of his Big League career before finishing up with one last season in the Minors in 1980.
Originally signed by the Baltimore Orioles, he put up some great years in the Minor Leagues between 1966 and 1970, hitting as many as 31 homers and driving in as many as 130 runs, while also hitting as high as .334, all while in his early 20’s.
But after some brief action with the Orioles in 1970 he was shipped off to Philadelphia, where his average hovered around .225 with hardly any power, so back he was in the Minors in 1973 and 1974 before a late-season call-up with the Cincinnati reds at the end of 1974.
By the time he retired he finished with 22 homers with 109 runs batted in and 49 runs scored, along with a .245 batting average over 344 games and 717 at-bats.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


I know it’s a bit of a stretch here, but I just had to create a “nickname” card for the great Minnie Minoso, who famously made an appearance during the decade as an active player in 1976:

Minoso, aka the “Cuban Comet”, is arguably a Hall of Famer, and I always felt the stunts in 1976 and 1980 may have even hurt his chances of getting into Cooperstown.
From 1951 to 1961 he had a wonderful Major League career, leading the league in stolen bases three times, triples three times, and hits and doubles once each, while also driving in over 100 runs four times and topping 20 homers four times.
Eight times in that span he would top a .300 batting average, and in 1951 many consider him the true American League Rookie of the Year when he his .326 split between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, while topping the league in triples with 14 and stolen bases with 31.
Along the way he was named to seven All-Star games, winning three Gold Gloves as well, funny enough finishing fourth in the A.L. MVP race four times.
Of course, 12 years after his last playing days, in 1976, he ended up going 1-for-8 at the plate as a 50 year-old, then coming back in 1980 at the age of 54 and going hitless in two at-bats.
Nevertheless, Minoso finished his career with a .298 average, with 1963 hits over 6579 at-bats, along with 186 homers and 205 stolen bases while also topping 1000 runs scored and RBIs, 1136 & 1023 respectively.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Time to go and add Pirates legend “Pops” Willie Stargell, patriarch of the “We Are Family” champions to the ever-expanding 1975 “in-Action” thread:

Stargell was one of the heavy hitters of this era as we all know, helping the Pirates to two championships in the decade, co-sharing the National League MVP Award in 1979 along with St. Louis Cardinals batting champ Keith Hernandez.
The two-time home run champ drove in over 100 runs five times in his career, with another four 90+ RBI years with six 30+ homer campaigns as well.
Between 1971 and 1973 he finished second, third and second respectively in the N.L. MVP race, while making the All-Star team seven-times.
Naturally, when Cooperstown came calling in 1988, he made it in on the first try, being named to 82.4% of the ballot.
I still can’t believe it’s been 17 years since he passed away just one month after his 61st birthday.
Rest in Peace “Pops”.

Friday, October 26, 2018


Today’s blog post has a career-capping “not so missing” 1979 card for infielder Gary Sutherland, who finished off a 14-year career in 1978 with 10 games as a St. Louis Cardinal:

Sutherland, who originally came up to the Big Leagues in 1966 as a 21-year-old with the Philadelphia Phillies, generally played second base over his career, but was used all over the infield and even some outfield.
In that last season of 1978 he played in 10 games, batting .167 with a single hit over six at-bats, scoring a run, and would finish his career with a batting average at .243 with 754 hits over 3104 at-bats, hitting 24 homers and driving in 239 runs in 1031 games.
His finest season would have to be 1974 when, as a Detroit Tiger, he hit .254 with 157 hits and 60 runs scored, along with 20 doubles and 49 runs batted in during one of the few seasons he played a full year, in this case 149 games and 652 plate appearances.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Here’s a “career-capping” not-so-missing 1970 card for former reliever Jack Baldschun, who played the last 12 games of his nine-year career in 1970 with the expansion San Diego Padres:

Baldschun posted a record of 1-0 over that action, closing out eight games and throwing 13.1 innings with 12 strikeouts against only four walks.
A career reliever, Baldschun appeared in 457 games over his Major League career, all out of the bullpen, mainly for the Philadelphia Phillies for whom he played between 1961 and 1965, averaging about 66 appearances a seasons.
His finest season would be 1963 when he posted a record of 11-7 with a very nice 2.30 earned run average, with 16 saves over 65 appearances.
The following season, a heart-breaker for the Phillies when they collapsed at the end of the year and losing out on the National League Pennant, he posted a career-high 21 saves.
Overall, he finished with a record of 48-41, with an ERA at 3.69 and 60 saves over 457 appearances and 704 innings pitched.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Today we have a “not so missing” card for Brett the elder, Ken Brett, who was left out of the 1970 set as a young up-and-comer for the Boston Red Sox:

Brett appeared in eight games for the Red Sox in 1969 at the age of 20, a couple of years removed from that magical 1967 season when he appeared in one game during the regular season, the first of his career, but appeared in two games during the World Series, all at the age of 18.
In 1969 he went 2-3 with a 5.26 earned run average over 8 games and 39.1 innings pitched, all of those appearances starts.
He would go on to play 14 years in the Big Leagues, pretty much as both a starter and middle reliever between 1970 and 1981, his final year.
He’d finish with a record of 83-85, with an ERA at 3.93 over 349 appearances, 184 of them starts, with eight shutouts and 11 saves.
Of course, he’d have a younger brother named George who’d come up in the mid-70’s and end up making quite a name for himself, straight to the Hall of Fame!
I’ve always wondered where exactly the Brett family lived in Brooklyn, where Ken was born, since I too hail from there, more specifically Bensonhurst.
If anyone has any idea I would greatly appreciate the info, as I suspect they lived in Bay Ridge, but I really have no proof of that.
Anyone know?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Today I post up my 1976 card for former pitcher Pat Osburn, who played two seasons as a Big Leaguer, and me now creating cards marking both seasons:

Previously I had a 1975 card for him on the blog, showing him with the Cincinnati Reds, for whom he made his MLB debut during the 1974 season when he went 0-0 with an ERA at 8.00 over six games and nine innings.
The card today shows him with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he made another six appearances in 1975, going 0-1 with an ERA at 5.40 over 11.9 innings of work.
In 1976 he’d spend the entire season in the Kansas City Royals Minor League system, going 7-4 with a very nice 2.32 ERA over 14 starts, completing half of them.
But he’d never get a call back up to the Big Leagues that year, and it seems he retired all-together from pro ball.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Today we take a look at the original airbrushed photo used for former pitcher Bill Singer’s last Topps card, a 1977 card as a member of the inaugural Toronto Blue Jays team:

I always found it odd when the artists at Topps did all the work on a cap, like this one which was excellently executed, then for some reason or another decided not to quickly paint-in the collar to a correct color.
Odd no?
You can clearly see that he was wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey, for whom he finished the 1976 season for after starting the year with the Texas Rangers.
Combined, he went 13-10 with an ERA at 3.69 over 36 appearances, all starts, which included four shutouts.
Sadly for him though, 1977 was a bad year for him, as he’d go 2-8 with the new organization, posting an ERA at 6.79 over 13 appearances, all but one of them starts.
Still only 33 years old, it turned out to be his last year as a Major League pitcher, finishing up with a record of 118-127 with an ERA of 3.39 with 24 shutouts in 322 appearances, 308 of those starts.
Of course he’s remembered for tossing a no-hitter in 1970, while also posting 20-win seasons in BOTH the American and National Leagues, going 20-12 for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1970 and 20-14 in 1973 for the California Angels, for which he was named to the All-Star teams each season, the only two times he’d make the team.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Today I post up a “not so missing” 1975 card for former San Diego Padres pitcher Ralph Garcia, who appeared in what would be the last eight games of his brief two-year Major league career in 1974:

Garcia didn’t factor in a decision over those eight appearances, throwing 10.1 innings to an ERA of 6.10 with nine strikeouts against seven walks.
His only other Big League action was back in 1972 when he came up and threw five innings over three appearances as a September call-up for the Padres, again not picking up a decision but pitching to a very nice 1.80 ERA.
After a 1975 season that saw him spend the entire year in the Minor Leagues, Garcia retired for good as a player, leaving us with 11 appearances over 15.1 innings, no decisions and an ERA of 4.70, striking out 12.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Here was a fun card to create, a 1971 card celebrating the “arrival” of a young Oakland A’s pitcher named Vida Blue, who no-hit a very good Minnesota Twins line-up on September 21st, 1970:

Blue struck out nine with only one walk, facing the minimum 27 batters in his gem, giving him a 2-0 record with a 2.28 earned run average with the 6-0 win.
The offense supplied was pretty much all by lead-ff hitter Bert Campaneris, who went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, all on a three-run homer off Twins starter Jim Perry in the 8th inning.
Of course- we all know that the 21-year old lefty was just getting started, as he would take over the Majors the following season, going on to not only win the Cy Young Award, but take the league MVP Award as well with a 24-8 showing, along with a 1.82 earned run average and eight shutouts, with 301 strikeouts as the A’s were just about to become a three-peat world champion dynasty.
Blue would go on to six All-Star games, starting and winning one in each league, and eventually retire with 209 wins and a 3.27 ERA with 37 shutouts, posting three 20-win seasons over his 17-year career.
A true icon of 1970’s baseball.

Friday, October 19, 2018


Next up on the blog, a “not so missing” 1979 card for former New York Yankee George Zeber, who had his one and only card the previous year, and confused a lot of us young kids with a “George who?!”:

After a very nice rookie showing in 1977 when he hit .323 over 25 games for the World Champs, Zeber was still hard pressed to crack the Yankee line-up, as evidenced by only three appearances during the second straight championship campaign.
He went 0-for-6 at the plate, in what would end up being his last taste of the Big Leagues, heading back to the Minor Leagues, where he’d finish out the season, hitting .235 in Triple-A ball.
The mystery is that it seems after that 1978 season, he never played pro ball again. I cannot find any other information on active play after that.
Nevertheless, Zeber was forever immortalized on cardboard with that 1978 card, smack dab in between those other Yankees like Reggie, Nettles and Guidry in that great 1978 set.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Today we have a 1972 card for former Houston Astros outfielder Jay Schlueter, he of a short seven-game Major League career that last about a month from June to July of 1971:

Schlueter appeared in two games as a left fielder for the Astros, going 1-for-3 at the plate with a run scored, while also pinch-running, giving him a brief taste of the Big Leagues.
Sadly for him, over the course of the next four seasons he’d be mired in the Minor Leagues, for both the Astros and St. Louis Cardinals, before retiring as a player for good at the end of the 1975 season.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


On the blog today we have a 1973 “traded” card for former all-star catcher Ray Fosse, who was shipped off to the dynastic Oakland A’s by the time the 1973 season opened up:

Updated "Traded" card
Issued Topps card

Talk about your good fortunes, Fosse was traded to the A’s from the Cleveland Indians on March 24th of 1973 along with Jack Heidemann for Dave Duncan and George Hendrick, giving him a chance at Post Season play for the first time.
This got him two World Championships, in 1973 and 1974, right smack in the middle of his Big League career, which lasted 12 years between 1967 and 1979.
The catcher, forever remembered for being on the wrong end of a Pete Rose collision at home plate in the 1970 All-Star game, had a nice run between 1970 and 1973 when he put up very nice numbers for a catcher in the era.
In 1970 he hit 18 homers while batting .307, with 61 runs batted in and 62 runs scored, along with the first of his two Gold Gloves.
Contrary to what many believe, the All-Star injury at the hands of Pete Rose did not derail his career, as other injuries along the way in the following years also contributed to his drop in performance.
Nevertheless, by the time Fosse retired after a brief stint with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1979, he finished with a .256 average, with 758 hits over 2957 at-bats, driving in 324 runs while scoring 299 himself over 924 Big League games.
On another note, you really have to wonder how good those Cleveland Indians could have been by the late-70’s had they NOT traded away players like Graig Nettles, Dick Tidrow, Chris Chambliss and Fosse.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


On the blog today we have a 1974 “not so missing” card for former catcher Jim Essian, who began his MLB career in 1973 with two games as a September call-up:

Essian went 0-3 at the plate in his first taste of the Big Leagues, but would go on to play Major League ball over the next 12 seasons, playing for five teams, some of them for more than one tenure.
His best year would be 1977 when he was a member of that hard-hitting Chicago White Sox team when he hit .273 while seeing the most action in any of his MLB seasons, hitting 10 homers while driving in 44, all three figures career-highs.
He’d go on to generally play as a back-up catcher until his final season of 1984, when he suited up for his fifth different team in five years, this time a return to the Oakland A’s for whom he played from 1978 through 1980.
His final numbers as a Big Leaguer: a .244 average with 453 hits in 1855 at-bats, hitting 33 homers and driving in 207 runs over 710 games.

Monday, October 15, 2018


Today on the blog we have a “pre-rookie” not-so-missing 1977 card for future all-star pitcher Bob Knepper, who made the first four appearances of his 15-year Major League career in 1976:

Knepper started four games for the San Francisco Giants in the Bicentennial season, going 1-2 with a nice 3.24 earned run average over 25 innings of work.
The following year he was here to stay, going on to pitch 15 years between the Giants and Houston Astros, retiring after the 1990 season after coming back to San Francisco in 1989.
In between Knepper was twice named to the National league All-Star team, in 1981 and 1988, topping 15 wins four times with a high of 17, which he did twice, in 1978 and 1986.
He led the N.L. In shutouts twice, with six in 1978 and five in 1986 while ending up with 30 over his career, finishing with a record of 146 and 155 with an ERA at 3.68 over 445 appearances and 2708 innings pitched.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


The next “nickname” profiled in my long running “Nicknames of the 1970’s” thread is former Detroit Tigers slugger Norm Cash, aka “Stormin’ Norman”, who had himself a wonderful 17-year Major League career:

Cash of course is generally remembered for that incredible 1961 season when he led the American League in batting with a .361 figure, along with an incredible .487 on-base-percentage.
Sadly for him however, ho goes and has such a season the very same year a couple of guys from the Bronx, Maris and Mantle, have a “chase to 61”, leading to Maris taking home the MVP with Mantle not far behind.
Throw in a career year for Baltimore Orioles slugger Jim Gentile, and you have Cash ending up fourth in that season’s MVP race.
Incredibly, in Cash’s 17-year career, he never even reached a .300 batting average in any one season again! As a matter of fact if we’re looking at full seasons, the next highest average he reached was .283 in 1971, when he had his last great year, hitting 32 homers and driving in 91 for Detroit.
Overall, by the time he retired after the 1974 season, Cash finished with a .271 average, with 377 homers and 1104 runs batted in, with four All-Star nods.
Five times he topped 30 home runs, while driving in over 80-runs six times while scoring over 80 four times during what many consider a “pitcher’s era”.

Saturday, October 13, 2018


Today we have a “not so missing” 1974 card for former infielder Bobby Fenwick, who played two seasons in the Major Leagues, the final one with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973:

Fenwick appeared in five games for St. Louis after coming over in a trade on November 28th of 1972 with Ray Busse for Skip Jutze and Milt Ramirez.
He collected a single and an RBI over six plate appearances, striking out twice while playing three games at second base.
He made his Big League debut the season before with the Houston Astros, appearing in 36 games and hitting .180 with nine hits in 50 at-bats while playing all the infield positions but first base.
After spending all of 1974 in the San Diego Padres Minor League system he called it a career and retired, finishing up with a .179 career average with 10 hits over 56 at-bats, with seven runs scored and five RBIs.

Friday, October 12, 2018


The next No-Hitter profiled as we march through the 1970’s is the gem spun by former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Bill Singer on July 20th of 1970 against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium:

Singer had a beauty of a game, striking out 10 batter without issuing a walk, though he did commit two errors and hit right-fielder Oscar Gamble with a pitch, preventing the perfect game.
A young Dodger “right-fielder” who would go on to much greater success in the infield, Bill Russell, drove in two runs, along with one RBI each from Willie Davis, Wes Parker and Jim Lefebvre, leading Los Abgeles to a 5-0 win.
Philly starter Woodie Fryman took the loss, throwing 4.2 innings and giving up all five runs before Lowell Palmer came in to pitch the final 3.1 innings, all scoreless with only one hit.
For Singer, it improved his record to 7-3 with a nifty 2.90 earned run average, while the loss dropped Fryman to 6-6 on the season.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Up on the blog today we have a “not so missing” 1978 card for former California Angels shortstop Orlando Ramirez, for whom I’ve created cards for before:

Ramirez appeared in 25 games for the Angels during the 1977 season, batting .077 with a single hit in 13 at-bats, with six runs scored and a stolen base.
It was pretty much the norm for him in all his five-years as a Big League player, all of which were with the Angels.
Pretty much averaging about 30 games a season, Ramirez filled in at short while hitting around the “Mendoza Line”, with a high of .240 in 1975.
After a year in the Minors in 1978, he made it back to the Majors in 1979 for 13 games, which would be the last of his MLB career before going to play in the Mexican League for three years before retiring for good after the 1982 season.
All told, he played in 143 games in the Big Leagues, batting .189 with 53 hits over 281 at-bats with 24 runs scored and 16 runs batted in.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


Time to go and add Gold Glove second baseman Bobby Grich of the Baltimore Orioles to my on-going 1975 “In-Action” series:

Grich was on his way to a third straight Gold Glove when the 1975 season opened up, as well as coming off a second trip to the All-Star game in 1974.
He would win four Gold Gloves overall in his excellent 17-year career, while getting named to six All-Star teams and participating in five American League Championship Series, two with the Orioles and three with the California Angels.
Defensively he topped the league in assists three times, putouts four times and fielding percentage twice, generally considered one of the best fielding second baseman of his era.
I always felt his 1979 season was lost in the shuffle of some great years put in by the likes of Don Baylor, Fred Lynn and George Brett when he hit a career high 30 home runs with 101 RBIs to go with a .294 average, fantastic numbers for a second baseman in that era outside of a guy named Joe Morgan.
Two years later he’d be one of four players tied to lead the American League in homers with 22, while also topping the league in slugging (.543).
By the time he retired after the 1986 season he finished with a .266 career average with 1833 hits and 224 homers, with 864 runs batted in and 1033 runs scored.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


Here's a "not so missing" 1975 card for former Chicago Cubs catcher Tom Lundstedt, who appeared in 22 games in 1974:
Lundstedt, who originally came up for his first taste of the Big Leagues in 1973 when he appeared in four games as a late-season call-up, collected the first three hits of his career in 1974, spread out over 32 at-bats for an average of .094.
Over the off-season he'd be traded to the Minnesota Twins for Mike Adams, and he'd go on to appear in 18 games, batting .107 with another three hits, this time over 28 at-bats, with two runs scored and an RBI while filling in behind the plate.
Turns out it'd be the last of his playing days, Majors OR even Minors, as I cannot find any other playing time for him according to Baseball_Reference after that 1975 activity.
Nevertheless, in his brief three year Major League career, Lundstedt played in 44 games, batting .092 with six hits in 65 at-bats, scoring three runs and driving in one.

Monday, October 8, 2018


Today we have a "not so missing" 1979 card for seven-year Major League infielder Mike Ramsey, who played the first dozen games of his career in 1978:
Ramsey came up as a September call-up in 1978, going 1-for-5 at the plate while scoring four runs with some time at shortstop for the Cardinals.
He'd end up spending all of 1979 in the Minors, but was up for good in 1980, going on to play the next four and a half seasons with St. Louis, including 1982 when the they went on to  World Championship.
As a matter of fact 1982 saw Ramsey get the most playing time in any one season of his career, appearing in 112 games for the Redbirds, batting .230 with 59 hits over 256 at-bats with 21 runs batted in, all career highs.
In 1984 he was traded over to the Montreal Expos for Chris Speier, in mid-season, appearing in 37 games for the Canadian team before signing as a Free Agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1985, where he'd end up playing the last nine games of his career.
All together, Ramsey hit .240 for his Big League tenure, collecting 189 hits over 786 at-bats in 394 games, while generally playing the all infield positions but first base.

Sunday, October 7, 2018


Recently the image of what looks to be the one used on that iconic 1980 Topps Nolan Ryan card showed up online, and I wanted to take a closer look at it since it is a classic!
Take a look:
Now, right off the bat it does look like it is the same image, but when you look closer you can see it's not the exact same one.
For example, look at the glove: on the card his glove is "touching" the "0" on his jersey, while on the photo it is not, it is more on the "3".
The question though is: is it the same game, same pitch?
I know Topps went to great lengths in the late-70's and early-80's to airbrush was seemed to be inconsequential things in the background.
Did they do the same here with the first baseman, who is clearly visible on the untouched photo?
I'm almost positive this is the same game. But it could be from another at-bat, innings, etc.
When you compare some of the blurry shapes from the stands in the background, they line-up, so I'm sure we're looking at the same game.
But why the odd, almost random airbrushing?
Regardless, an amazing find here!
By the time the card came out, as we all know, Ryan was plying his trade down in Houston after signing with the Astros as a Free Agent, making him the first million-dollar-a-year player in league history.
He was already entering his 14th season as a Big League pitcher, and incredibly was just about to go on to another 13 as a top-notch pitcher! These were not seasons of a guy who was "hanging on" (remember Steve Carlton?).
The man performed well up to his 46th birthday.
A once in a lifetime treat for fans to see someone like this come along.
324 wins, 61 shutouts, 5714 strikeouts and seven no-hitters.
Mind boggling.

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Up on the blog today, we take a look at the airbrushed image used for former catcher Rick Stelmaszek, who found himself traded to the California Angels after coming up with the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers to begin his MLB career:

Clearly you can see how the people at Topps simply worked on his cap while cropping the photo just so that his original Texas Rangers jersey was out of view.

I'll give an "A" for effort on the shading/shadowing on his cap though!
After coming up in 1971 for six games with the Senators, Stelmaszek spent the 1972 season In the Minors before making it back to the Big Leagues in 1973, going on to appear in seven games for the now relocated franchise before a trade in May sent him to the Angels.
He’d appear in 22 games for California, one of the MANY catchers the Angels seemed to have at that time, batting .154 for them and a combined .143 between the two organizations.
It was a short-lived tenure with his new team, and he would find himself playing for his hometown Chicago Cubs by the time the 1974 season opened up, playing in 25 games and batting .227 with 10 hits over 56 at-bats while filling in behind the plate.
Those would actually be the last Big League games for Stelmaszek, though he would toil in the Minors for another four years, each year for a different organization, retiring as a player after the 1978 season.
All told, he finished with a .170 batting average, with 15 hits over 88 at-bats in 60 lifetime games, driving in 10 runs while scoring four himself.

Friday, October 5, 2018


Here’s another one of those fun cards to create for a player who appeared in one game the previous season, a 1975 “not so missing card” for former pitcher Rick Sawyer of the New York Yankees:

Sawyer appeared in the first game of his somewhat brief four-year career, throwing 1.2 innings on April 28th of 1974 and giving up three earned runs on two hits and a walk.
He’d appear in only four games the following season, not factoring in a decision over six innings pitched, before finding himself as a member of the San Diego Padres after a trade for Gene Locklear in June of 1976.
He performed very well, going 5-3 with a 2.53 earned run average the rest of the way over 81.2 innings pitched, with two shutouts and four complete games over 13 appearances.
He would play his only “full” season in 1977, appearing in 56 games for San Diego, posting a record of 7-6 over 111 innings of work, but sported a bloated 5.84 ERA, which would turn out to be the last MLB action he’d see.
After spending the entire 1978 season in the Minor Leagues with the Cleveland Indians organization, he’d retire, finishing up with a record of 12-9, with an ERA at 4.49 over 74 appearances and 200.1 innings pitched.

Thursday, October 4, 2018


The next rookie that had a “missing rookie cup” on their Topps card is the 1979 card for former pitcher John Henry Johnson of the Oakland A’s, who had a nice rookie year in 1978:

Johnson made the jump to the Big Leagues at the age of 21 and was immediately a starter for Oakland, and went on to post a record of 11-10 with an earned run average at 3.39 over 33 appearances, 30 of them starts.
He completed seven games while tossing two shutouts, striking out 91 batters in 186 innings of work for an Oakland team that would finish 69-93.
The following year was a rough one for Johnson, as he would start the season 2-8 for Oakland before finding himself traded to the Texas Rangers for Dave Chalk and Mike Heath in June, where he’d almost mirror those first half numbers with a 2-6 record, combining for a 4-14 showing with an ERA at 4.63 over 31 appearances.
Though he would go on to pitch another six seasons in the Majors over the next eight years, he’d never again find the success of that rookie year, mainly working out of the bullpen for the Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers until 1987.
By the time he retired, he finished with a record of 26-33, with an ERA of 3.90 over 214 appearances and 602.2 innings pitched.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Here’s one of those cards I love creating, a 1976 “not so missing” card for former pitcher Skip Pitlock, who faced one single batter in his one appearance on a Big League mound in 1975:

Pitlock was coming off of a 1974 season that had him appear in 40 games for the Chicago White Sox after spending the previous three years in the Minor Leagues.
In 1974 he went 3-3 with a 4.43 earned run average over 105.2 innings, starting five of those games and collecting one save.
When the season opened in 1975 he was a member of the White Sox staff, and appeared in a game on April 10th, relieving Stan Bahnsen against the Oakland A’s.
He faced Billy Williams, with Williams knocking in a run on a single, and was promptly taken out in favor of future Hall of Famer Rich Gossage.
Turns out that would be it for the lefty, as he would go on to spend the rest of the season, and the 1976 season in the Minor Leagues for the Oakland and California Angels organizations, appearing in a combined 43 games before retiring as an active player for good.
Overall, Pitlock finished 8-8 in his Major league career, posting an ERA of 4.53 over 59 appearances, 20 of them starts, with a complete game and a save over 192.2 innings pitched.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


Here’s another card I’ve been wanting to do for a long while: a “career-capping” 1970 card for former reliever Dick Radatz, aka “The Monster” because of his massive 6’ 6”, 230lb frame:

The career relief pitcher split the 1969 season with the Detroit Tigers and Montreal Expos, appearing in 33 games between the two and collecting the final five saves of his seven-year career.
This was a career that began in all-star fashion with the Boston Red Sox in 1962, when he posted a 9-6 record with a league-leading 24 saves over 62 games, with an amazing 144 strikeouts in 124.2 innings pitched.
Over the next two seasons he was even better, winning 15 and 16 games in 1963 and 1964 respectively, along with an astounding 162 and 181 strikeouts, all out of the bullpen!
His 1964 season was one for the ages as far as relief pitchers go: 16-9 with a 2.29 earned run average, with 29 saves and 181 strikeouts in 157 innings pitched and 79 appearances.
Sadly for him his decline came rapidly, dropping to a record of 9-11 with an ERA of 3.91 the following year, then to 0-5 in 1966, which saw him traded to the Cleveland Indians in June.
After a 1967 season that saw him appear in 23 games with the Indians and Chicago Cubs, he spent 1968 in the Detroit Tigers Minor League system, actually splitting time as a starter and reliever, but there was never a call back up to the Majors.
That would come in 1969, with the aforementioned 33 appearances between Detroit and Montreal, which would end up being the last of his career.
By the time he retired, Radatz had a record of 52 and 43 with an ERA of 3.13 over 381 appearances, all out of the bullpen, with 120 saves and 745 strikeouts in 693.2 innings pitched.
But oh those first three seasons!

Monday, October 1, 2018


Here’s a fun card I could not pass up to create, albeit with an obviously out-dated image from a year prior, a 1978 “not so missing” card for former White Sox pitcher Jack Kucek, sporting the shorts experimented with in the Summer of 1976:

As with my previous card of Larry Monroe, here we see what looks to be a Spring Training shot of Kucek wearing the shorts, which I do believe if from 1977.
Has anyone confirmed the White Sox tried the shorts again during Spring Training of 1977 after using them for a short while during the season in 1976?
Nevertheless, this would have been awesome to have pulled from packs back then! Kucek was just about to pitch in his fifth Major League season in 1978, all with the Chicago White Sox, though each and every one was brief, topping out with 10 appearances in 1978.
He’d move on to the Philadelphia Phillies for a short time in 1979, appearing in four games after starting the season in Chicago, throwing 2/3 of an inning.
In 1980 he’d get the most action he’d see in his MLB career, this with the Toronto Blue Jays, yet ironically that would be the last season of his career, and on top of it would not even make Topps’ set in 1981 even with 23 appearances and 68 innings pitched.
All told, by the time he finished after that 1980 season, he ended up with a record of 7-16 over 59 appearances and 205.2 innings of work, collecting two saves and a 5.12 earned run average over seven years.


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