Monday, August 31, 2020


Up on the blog today we have a career-capping “not so missing” 1974 card for former pitcher Tom Kelley of the Atlanta Braves:

Kelley pitched in what turned out to be the last seven games of his seven-year Big League career in 1973, going 0-1 with an earned run average of 2.84 over 12.2 innings.
He would spend the next three seasons pitching in the Minors for both the Atlanta and New York Mets organizations, but never get another shot back at the Big Show again.
His finest season in the Big Leagues was easily 1971 when he made his return to the Majors, going 9-5 with a nice 2.96 ERA over 28 appearances after toiling in the Minors really since 1967.
When Topps gave him that 1971 card in their set, he pitched a total of ONE inning since the end of the 1966 season, and I wrote about it was back on this blog in August of 2013:

Nevertheless, he finished his career with a record of 20-22 over 104 appearances, with an ERA of 3.75 over 408 innings of work pitching for both the Braves and the Cleveland Indians between 1964 and 1973.


Sunday, August 30, 2020


Time to finaly finish this “missing 1979 postseason sub-set” thread with Game 6 of the 1978 World Series, a game which saw the New York Yankees repeat as World Champions against the Los Angeles Dodgers:

With Catfish Hunter squaring off against Don Sutton, the Yankees were on a three-game winning streak after opening the series with two straight losses to L.A.
Though Los Angeles scored in the bottom of the first to take an early 1-0 lead, the Yanks countered with three runs in the second, followed by two runs each in the six and seventh inning while Hunter kept the Dodger bats at bay with two runs on six hits.
Here’s the write-up for the game from Wikipedia:

“Game 6 turned out to be the Bucky Dent –Brian Doyle show.
Davey Lopes gave the Dodgers home crowd a ray of hope with a leadoff home run off Catfish Hunter. Dent and Doyle put the Yankees ahead in the second; Doyle with an RBI double, Dent with an RBI single and an additional run scoring on an error on the play.  Lopes had an RBI single in the third to cut it to 3–2 through the fifth inning, but that would be it for the Dodgers. Sutton pitched well until the sixth inning.
Dent and Doyle pushed the score to 5–2 in the sixth with RBI singles and Reggie Jackson put the final nail in the Dodgers coffin with a tremendous two-run blast in the seventh inning to get revenge against his Game 2 nemesis, Bob Welch.
Dent would be named World Series MVP, batting .417 with ten hits, seven RBI, and three runs scored. Doyle would make a claim for the MVP himself with a .438 average, seven hits, two RBI, and four runs.
While Lopes had a monster series with three homers and seven RBIs and Bill Russell had 11 hits, the Dodgers power hitters lack of production and the Dodgers shoddy defense was their downfall. Steve Garvey (5–for–24, no RBIs) was no factor, and neither were Dusty Baker (5–for–21, one RBI) or Ron Cey (no RBIs after Game 2) and the Dodgers defense committed seven errors.
Thurman Munson caught the final out of the game on a foul pop by Cey. This would be the final post-season game for Thurman Munson before his death during the 1979 season.”

Of course the Dodgers would get their revenge against the Yankees three years later when they themselves would be in a 0-2 hole going into Game 3 of the World Series before reeling off four straight to win the Championship, a series I remember vividly as a 12-year-old in Brooklyn.
Well there you have it, the 1979 “missing” postseason sub-set in the books for posterity!
Hope you enjoyed it!


Saturday, August 29, 2020


Up on the blog today we add Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski to the “Minor League Days” thread, celebrating his fantastic professional baseball career:

All the young 20-year-old would do in his one season with the Minneapolis Millers in 1960 was tear up the ball, collecting 193 hits and hitting .339 with 84 runs scored and 69 runs batted in, with 36 doubles and eight triples.
The previous year, his first in pro ball, he was a force, hitting .377 with 100 RBIs in only 120 games for the Raleigh Capitals in the Carolina League, with 87 runs scored, 34 doubles, six triples and 15 homers.
And how could he NOT become a legend, what with 23 years of Major League ball, all with the Red Sox, turning in three batting titles, a Triple Crown in 1967 along with an MVP Award, seven Gold Gloves, 18 all-star nods, and 25 league-leads in primary offensive categories.
By the time he did the retirement tour in 1983, he scored 1816 runs, collected 3419 hits, 646 doubles, 452 homers, 1844 runs batted in along with a .285 batting average.
He was just plain awesome…



Friday, August 28, 2020


Up on the blog today is a “not so missing” 1978 card for former pitcher Tom Buskey, who did in fact appear in 21 games for the Cleveland Indians the year prior:

Buskey incredibly didn’t factor in a decision over those 21 games, all out of the bullpen, pitching to an earned run average of 5.29 over 34 innings of work.
You can almost say that because of the 21 appearances he should have gotten a Topps card in 1978, making this a “missing” card instead of a “not so missing” one.
He would end up putting in eight years in the Big Leagues, pitching through the 1980 season and appearing in 258 games, all out of the bullpen for the Yanks, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays between 1973 and 1980.
His final numbers looked like this: a 21-27 record with a 3.66 earned run average over 479.1 innings pitched, picking up 34 saves and striking out 212 hitters.
His best year would arguably be 1975 while with the Indians when he finished 5-3 with a nice 2.57 earned run average over 50 appearances and 77 innings pitched, with seven saves.



Thursday, August 27, 2020


Up on the blog today is a “not so missing” 1973 card for 10-year Major League infielder Mike Tyson, who started his Big League career with 13 games in 1972 for the St. Louis Cardinals:

Tyson hit .189 over that limited action as a 22-year-old, collecting seven hits over 37 at-bats while playing both second and short.
He’d have a full season in 1973, hitting .243 over 144 games and 506 plate appearances, scoring 48 runs while driving in 33 with 144 hits in 469 official at-bats.
He’d play eight years for the Cardinals before moving on to the Chicago Cubs for what ended up being the last two years of his career in 1980 and 1982.
Overall, in his ten years as a Major Leaguer, Tyson finished with a .241 batting average, with 714 hits in 2959 at-bats, with 281 runs scored and 269 RBIs in 1017 games.



Wednesday, August 26, 2020


 Here’s a card that I created “by accident”, realizing later on that the player was on a multi-player rookie card in the 1971 set. But nevertheless, I figure I’d present it anyway, a 1971 “dedicated rookie” for one game Major League pitcher Loyd Colson:

Since he appeared in one game for the entirety of his Big League tenure, I thought it was still a nice card to have as part of the “wthballs” collection.
Colson appeared in his one game on September 25th of 1970, pitching two innings and allowing one run on three hits against the Detroit Tigers, striking out three without a walk.
He’d spend his entire pro career with the New York Yankees, beginning pro ball in 1967 and pitching in the Minors through the 1972 season, retiring at only 24 years of age soon after.
Topps originally had him on a multi-player rookie card in the 1971 set, sharing his cardboard debut with Bobby Mitchell. I believe when I initially searched to see if he had a card, I typed in “Lloyd” instead of “Loyd”.
Oh well, my mistake if your gain (for those who were looking for a dedicated Colson card!)



Tuesday, August 25, 2020


Any of you who have been following me for a while know that although I do love those classic 1970’s airbrushing jobs Topps created, and I even profile them here from time to time.
However when I do come across a solid image of a player in correct uniform, I’ll go and create a re-done card for that particular year, such as today’s example, the 1973 Wayne Granger card:

Now here’s the original as issued by Topps:

Granger found himself in St. Louis after a year pitching for the Minnesota Twins, and Topps jumped right in and airbrushed (or should I say colored in with a crayon) the correct, up-to-date cap with a BOLD Cardinal “St. L.” logo.
It seems the original photo was of him with the Cincinnati Reds for whom he pitched between 1969 and 1971, coming into his own out of the ‘pen, leading the National League in game appearances twice and saves with 35 in 1970.
After a solid season for the Twins in 1972 he never attained that level of play the remaining four years of his nine-year career, pitching for the Cardinals, Yankees, White Sox, Astros and finally the Expos.
In those nine-seasons Granger totaled 451 appearances with a 35-35 record and 108 saves in 638.2 inning pitched, and his 35 saves were a record until Clay Carroll came along with the very same Reds in 1972 with 37.
Not a long career by any means, but a solid one nonetheless.



Monday, August 24, 2020


Up on the blog today we have a career-capping “not so missing” 1978 card for former Boston Red Sox infielder Doug Griffin, who finished up an eight-year Big League career with a handful of games in 1977:

Griffin, who spent seven of his eight seasons with the Red Sox, appeared in only five games for Boston in 1977, going 0-6 at the plate.
At one point the starting second baseman for the Red Sox between 1971 and 1973, even taking home a Gold Glove in 1972, he then played about half of Boston’s games between 1974 and 1976 after suffering some injuries including two beanings, one at the hand of Nolan Ryan, then another by Dick Bosman.
By the time he left the game in 1977 he finished up with a career .245 batting average, with 524 hits and 209 runs scored over 632 games and 2136 at-bats.



Sunday, August 23, 2020


On the blog today is a “missing” 1979 World Series card for Game 5 of the 1978 Fall Classic, a sub-set that for some reason Topps scrapped that year, much to my young Yankee-loving dismay:

In Game 5, the Yankees moved one game closer to repeating as champions with a surprise pitching performance by young Jim Beattie, who pitched a complete game, allowing only two Dodgers runs on nine hits.
For a more comprehensive write-up, I defer here to this summary from Wikipedia:

“The Yankees took one step closer to a repeat World Series championship on the strength of an unexpected complete game victory by young Jim Beattie. Beattie scattered nine Dodgers hits and was buoyed by an 18-hit Yankees performance, including a World Series-record 16 singles.
Early on, the Dodgers tried to run to take advantage of a sore-shouldered Thurman Munson behind the plate. Davey Lopes led off the game with a single, stole second, and scored on a Reggie Smith single.  The Dodgers stretched their lead to 2–0 in the third when Lopes scored again on a double by Bill Russell.
But, that would be it as Beattie settled down and shut out the Dodgers the rest of the way. In the bottom of the third, after a leadoff walk and single, Roy White's RBI single cut the Dodgers' lead to 2–1. After a double steal, Munson's two-run single put the Yankees up 3–2. One out later, Lou Piniella's RBI single made it 4–2 Yankees and knocked starter Burt Hooton out of the game. Next inning, after two one-out singles, Mickey Rivers's RBI single and White's sacrifice fly made it 6–2 Yankees. Charlie Hough relieved Lance Rautzhan and allowed an RBI single to Munson. In the seventh, with runners on second and third and two outs, a strike three wild pitch by Hough to Rivers allowed a run to score and Rivers to reach first. White's RBI single made it 9–2 Yankees, then Munson's two-run double increased their lead to 11–2. They scored one more run in the eighth on Bucky Dent's RBI double off Hough as their 12–2 win gave them a 3–2 series lead heading back to Los Angeles.”

Back to Los Angeles they went, with the Bronx Bombers one game from a second straight title, and a second straight win over the Dodgers in the World Series.
Next week, the “missing” Game 6 card...



Saturday, August 22, 2020


The next player featured in my 1971 “Minor League Days” thread is the great Brooks Robinson, who was barely out of his teens when this photo was taken of him back in 1957 as a member of the San Antonio Missions:

Robinson already had a couple of tastes of the Majors by 1957, playing in six games and 15 games respectively in 1955 and 1956, along with 50 games in 1957.
In 1958 he’d play his first full season, and it was all cruise control from there, as the great third baseman would go on to grab 16 Gold Gloves, and MVP Award in 1964, appear in 15 All-Star games, and help guide the Baltimore Orioles to two Championships and four A.L. Pennants.
By the time he hung up that golden glove after the 1977 season, he finished with 2848 hits, 1357 runs batted in, 268 home runs and 1232 runs scored in 2896 games.
Needless to say, by the time Cooperstown came calling, he was voted in on his first try, receiving 92% support in 1983.



Friday, August 21, 2020


Today’s blog post has a 1973 “not so missing” card for former Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Craig Robinson, who has had a few cards created for the blog over the years:

Robinson made his MLB debut during the 1972 season with five games as a September call-up, hitting an even .200 with three hits in 15 at-bats.
Generally a player off the bench throughout his Major League tenure, he did play a full year in 1974 with the Atlanta Braves when he appeared in 145 games and hit .230 with 104 hits in 452 at-bats and 502 plate appearances, scoring 52 runs and driving in 29.
But besides that one season, the most action he’d ever see in any other year was 46 games the previous season while still with Philly.
Overall, he finished his career with a .219 batting average, with 157 hits in 718 at-bats, playing in 292 games with 80 runs scored and 42 RBIs.



Thursday, August 20, 2020


Time to go and give longtime Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Jim Gantner a “not so missing” 1978 card, as he was just starting out on a very nice 17-year Big League career:

Gantner only appeared in 14 games for Milwaukee in 1977, his second taste of the Majors after 26 games in 1976, and hit .298 with 14 hits in 47 at-bats, including his first Major League home run.
Can you imagine the Brewers with such a “problem” that they had Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Jim Gantner and Don Money clogging up there infield spots? Amazing!
Anyway, Gantner eventually found his way to a regular slot for Milwaukee and would play the entirety of his career there, retiring after the 1992 season with 1696 hits and a .274 average, with 726 runs scored, 568 runs batted in and 137 stolen bases over 1801 games.
A solid player who played under the radar for a team that also featured guys like Gorman Thoman, Ben Oglivie, Cecil Cooper and Ted Simmons besides those mentioned earlier along the way.



Wednesday, August 19, 2020


Up on the blog today we have a “not so missing” 1977 card for former New York Mets pitcher Hank Webb, who made eight appearances during the 1976 season:

Webb was coming off a nice 1975 season that saw him go 7-6 over 29 appearances, 15 of those starts, which included three complete games and a shutout, while pitching to a 4.07 ERA over 115 innings.
However 1976 did not go well for the 26-year-old, as he made only eight appearances, all out of the bullpen, going 0-1 with an ERA of 4.50 in 16 innings of work.
He would pitch in the Majors over parts of six seasons (1972-1977), all but his last as a Met and finishing with five games as a Los Angeles Dodger, ending up with a career 7-9 record with an ERA at 4.31 in 53 games and 169 innings pitched.



Tuesday, August 18, 2020


Let’s give former San Diego Padres outfielder Luis Melendez a proper baseball card send-ff with a “not so missing” career-capper:

Though still only 27 years of age, Melendez played what turned out to be the last of his Major League games in 1977, appearing in eight games and going 0-for-3 at the plate with a run scored.
Making his debut in 1970 Melendez played his whole career with St. Louis before moving on to San Diego during the 1976 season, and after those last eight games in 1977 his pro career would come to a close.
All told, he put in eight seasons in the Big Leagues, and would finish with a .248 average with 366 hits over 1477 at-bats in 641 lifetime games, with 167 runs scored and 122 RBI’s, playing all but one game in the outfield between 1970 and 1977.



Monday, August 17, 2020


Here’s a fun card to add to the “wthballs” stable, a “not so missing” 1972 card for pitcher George Brunet, who had himself quite an interesting professional baseball career:

Brunet pitched what turned out to be the last Major League games of his 15-year career in 1971, appearing in seven games for the St. Louis cardinals, going 0-1 with a 5.79 earned run average over 9.1 innings.
Originally up in 1956 with the Kansas City Athletics as a 22-year old, it wasn’t until 1965 that he’d see full-time action in a season, now a member of the California Angels.
Between 1965 and 1969 was a starter for the Angels, averaging over 200 innings a year, while winning 54 games and tossing 14 shutouts along the way.
Now, though he ended his Big League career with a record of 69-93, with a 3.62 ERA over 324 appearances and 1431.2 innings pitched, it was what he did AFTER 1971 that handed him some baseball notoriety.
After a full season in the Minor Leagues in 1972, Brunet decided to take his talents South to the Mexican League, where he was known as “El Viejo” (the old man), as he would go on to pitch until 1989, at age 54!
By the time he was done in Mexico, he held numerous pitching records, toss over 50 shutouts, strikeout over 3000 batters, and even toss a no-hitter at the age of 42 in 1977.
In 1999 he was inducted to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame, sadly eight years after he passed away from a heart attack at the age of only 56.
I wish I could dig up more about Brunet in the Mexican League, as his time there really was something to explore since he was so popular.

Sunday, August 16, 2020


 Up on the blog today, we’re up to Game 4 of the “missing” 1979 postseason sub-set, a pivotal game that saw the New York Yankees even up the Series but not without controversy (and Reggie Jackson’s hip):

Now, instead of writing it all myself, here’s the recap of the game from Wikipedia, which also describes why Reggie Jackson and his “shady” move may have helped the Yankees not only win the game, but eventually the World Series itself:

“Starters Ed Figueroa and Tommy John were locked in a scoreless duel before Reggie Smith struck with a three-run homer in the top of the fifth inning. John continued his shutout through the fifth, but, in the Yankees' half of the sixth, they scored.

Reggie Jackson finally got the Yankees on the board with a one-out RBI single. With Thurman Munson on second and Jackson on first, Lou Piniella hit a low, soft liner shortstop Bill Russell fumbled (some claim intentionally). Russell recovered the ball, then stepped on second to force Jackson, then his attempted throw to first to complete the double play struck a "confused" Jackson in the right hip and caromed into foul territory.
Munson scored, partially because first baseman Steve Garvey stopped to yell at the first-base umpire over the non-interference call before retrieving the ball.
The Dodgers' protests went for naught but would not have been necessary if Russell had made the proper play. Thinking Russell was going to catch Piniella's liner, Munson retreated towards second and was on second base when Russell picked up the ball. Munson then turned to third and Russell stepped on second to force Jackson and threw to first. The inning would have been over if Russell had tagged Munson (out #2) and stepped on second (out #3) to force Jackson or Russell steps on second to force Jackson (out #2) and gets Munson in a rundown between second and third (out #3); the score would have remained 3–1, instead the score was then 3–2. But of course, Russell had no reason to the think his throw would not reach first base.

Later review of the play clearly showed Jackson had stopped midway between first and second when Russell had made his throw to first. As the ball carried very close to Jackson's immediate right, Jackson had moved his hips to the right just as the ball sailed past, deflecting the ball down the first base line. While Jackson continued to deny it, Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, along with other eyewitnesses, steadfastly believed the Yankees outfielder purposefully interfered in the play.

The Yankees tied it in the eighth when Munson doubled home Paul Blair . The score remained tied until the bottom of the tenth inning.  Dodgers rookie and Game 2 hero Bob Welch walked Roy White with one out.  After Welch retired Munson, Jackson strode to the plate for his first confrontation with Welch since Game 2.  This time, Jackson got the better end by singling White to second. Lou Piniella then lined a single to center, scoring White and tying the series.

The bungled Russell/Jackson play changed the game and the entire Series; instead of the Dodgers going up 3–1 in games, the Series was then tied and the momentum shifted to the Yankees who outscored the Dodgers 19–4 in the final two games.”

Wow. Was this shrewd baseball genius on the part of Jackson or some shadiness that should be frowned upon?
Regardless, what a huge shift in momentum that allowed the Yankees to go on to repeat as champions.
But first, the final two games! See you next week!



Saturday, August 15, 2020


Today’s blog post has the newest member of the “Minor League Days” thread, former slugger and American League MVP Boog Powell, who was a 19-year-old prospect while playing for the Rochester Red Wings in 1961:

It was a rapid ascent for the future All-Star, breaking into pro ball in 1959 as a 17-year-old and progressing each year until he had his September call-up to the Big Leagues in 1961, but not before tearing up Triple-A ball by hitting 32 homers with 92 runs batted in over 142 games for Rochester, hitting .321.
He would go on to finish his Major League career with 339 home runs, 1187 runs batted in and a .266 average, while being named to four all-star teams, taking home a Most Valuable Player Award in 1970 while with the World Champion Orioles, and two other top-3 MVP finishes in 1966 and 1969, playing for 17 seasons.
Always a fan-favorite in Baltimore, Boog can still be seen around Camden Yards at his "Boog's Barbeque" restaurant.
And who can forget those awesome Miller Lite commercials in the 1980's!? Those were great!

Friday, August 14, 2020


Up on the blog today, we have a “not so missing” pre-rookie card for former pitcher Ed Whitson, who made his Major League debut in 1977 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, on his way to a productive 15-year Big League career:

Whitson appeared in five games for the Pirates as a 22-year-old in 1977 as a September call-up, going 1-0 with a 3.45 earned run average over 15.2 innings, starting two of those games.
He would go on to pitch for 15 years in the Majors, winning as many as 16 games in a season (1989) and playing for five teams: Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and San Diego Padres.
In 1984 he helped the Padres reach the World Series by going 14-8 with a nice 3.24 ERA over 31 starts, though sadly the team ran into the juggernaut Detroit Tigers and losing in five games.
By the time he retired after the 1991 season, he finished with a record of 126-123, with a 3.79 ERA over 452 games and 2240 innings pitched, with 12 shutouts and eight saves.



Thursday, August 13, 2020


 Up on the blog today we have a 1971 “not so missing” card for former player (and future manager) John Vukovich, who made his MLB debut during the 1970 season with the Philadelphia Phillies:

Vukovich appeared in three games as a 22-year-old, collecting one hit over eight at-bats with a run scored, good for a .125 batting average.
He’s see substantial action in 1971, appearing in 74 games and collecting 233 plate appearances, though hitting only .166 with 36 hits, 11 runs scored and 14 runs batted in.
Oddly, Topps felt all that action (and perhaps low average) was not enough to get him a card in the 1972 set, so I created one a few years back on the blog as well.
Granted, turns out he wouldn’t even play in the Majors during the 1972 season, but he will make it back in 1973, now as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, before moving on to the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and back to the Phillies for the final five seasons of his 10-year career.
All told he’d finish up with a .161 career average with 90 hits in 559 at-bats over parts of ten seasons, while playing all infield positions and playing for two World Champs (1975 Reds and 1980 Phillies), though he didn’t get into Post Season action himself.
He would also get two brief stints as manager, two games heading the Chicago Cubs in 1986 and nine games in 1988 with the Phillies.



Wednesday, August 12, 2020


 Today’s blog post has a “not so missing” 1972 card for former pitcher Chuck Seelbach, who put in parts of four seasons in the Big Leagues, all with the Detroit Tigers, including one “full-time” season that was actually very good:

I’ve always found his brief career interesting, as Seelbach broke into the Majors in 1971 with five appearances, all out of the pen, not factoring in a decision while posting a gaudy 13.50 earned run average over four innings.
In 1972, with Detroit fighting for a playoff spot, Seelbach put in the year of his career, going 9-8 over 61 games, all but three out of the bullpen, with a very nice 2.89 earned run average and 14 saves over 112 innings of work, with 76 strikeouts against 39 walks.
As a matter of fact Seelbach was on the mound when the Tigers clinched the American League East championship on October 3, 1972.
He set down the Boston Red Sox in order in the 9th inning to clinch the AL East title, as the game ended on a Ben Oglivie  fly ball caught by Al Kaline in right field.
Sadly for him however, shoulder injuries soon followed resulting in 1973 and 1974 having him appear in only nine combined games, going 1-0 with an ERA around 4.00 over just 14.2 innings.
And just like that his Big League career was over.
His four years as a pitcher resulted in a career 10-8 record, with a 3.38 ERA over 75 games, with 14 saves and 130.2 innings pitched.



Tuesday, August 11, 2020


On the blog today we have a “not so missing” 1973 card for former pitcher Tom House, who appeared in only eight games for the Atlanta Braves during the 1972 season:

House didn’t factor in a decision over those eight games, but sported a nice 2.89 earned run average over 9.1 innings while picking up two saves.
House made his Big League debut in 1971 as a 24-year-old with Atlanta, appearing in 11 games and going 1-0 with a 3.05 ERA over 20.2 innings as a 24-year-old.
He’d put in eight years in the Big Leagues, generally as a reliever who made 289 appearances with only 21 of them starts, finishing up with a career 29-23 record with an ERA at 3.79 over 536 innings, with 33 saves between 1971 and 1978 playing for Atlanta, Boston and Seattle.
As a bit of a side-note, I’ll always remember that he was the pitcher in the bullpen on that historic 1974 day, catching Hank Aaron’s 715th home run.



Monday, August 10, 2020


 Up on the blog today we have a “not so missing” pre-rookie for versatile infielder/outfielder Alan Bannister, who was beginning a nice 12-year Big League career with just over two dozen games in 1974:

Bannister hit only .120 over his 26 games of the 1974 season, collecting three hits in 25 at-bats with four runs scored and a run batted in for the Philadelphia Phillies.
After another small showing in 1975 when he played in 24 games for Philadelphia, he was sent over to the Chicago White Sox where he would play for the next four and a half years, playing well when he was healthy, hitting as high as .285 in 1979 and .275 in 1977, setting career-highs in pretty much everything between the two full seasons.
He would go on to play for the Cleveland Indians in the middle of the 1980 season where he’d play for three and a half years, before splitting 1984 with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, for whom he’d play his last year in 1985, still only 33 years of age.
Over his 12 Big League seasons Bannister hit a very respectable .270, with 811 hits in 3007 at-bats in 972 games between 1974 and 1985, with 430 runs scored and 288 RBIs and 108 stolen bases.



Sunday, August 9, 2020


Time to celebrate the game that created the defensive legendary of New York Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles, who put on a clinic in Game 3 of the 1978 World Series to give the Yankees their first win and kill some of the momentum the Dodgers built over the first two games:

With the Yankees desperate for a win in Game 3, they had their ace Ron Guidry on the mound, but it was their All-Star third baseman Nettles who would be the “stopper” of sorts.
To really get the idea of what went on, here’s a great write-up on the SABR. Org site that recaps the games, thanks to Steven C. Weiner:

“For Game Three, the Yankees had their ace on the mound, Ron Guidry. Guidry had a career year, leading the American League in wins, ERA, winning percentage (.893), and shutouts (9) while completing 16 games in 35 starts.
With the Dodgers countering with Don Sutton (15-11, 3.55 ERA, and 12 complete games), there was every expectation that a stellar pitching performance on either side could determine the outcome of the game. The defensive prowess of Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles was well known, even if underappreciated since he broke in with the Minnesota Twins in 1967. His defensive plays would turn Game Three and the World Series toward the Yankees in dramatic fashion and become the lead highlight of Joseph Wancho’s SABR biography of Nettles.

The Yankees struck first with single runs in the first and second innings for a 2-0 lead. Roy White homered down the right-field line in the first and Bucky Dent’s one-out groundout in the second scored Nettles, who had singled earlier in the inning. The Dodgers got one run back in the third when Bill Russell singled to score Bill North, who had walked, stolen second, and advanced to third on a groundout. It could have been worse had it not been for Nettles’ wizardry. Reggie Smith  hit a rocket down the third-base line. Nettles dived to his right to snag it, hurried to his feet, and threw Smith out at first to end the inning.

Nettles’ best would come in the fifth and sixth innings to bail out Ron Guidry. Guidry was still holding a 2-1 lead without his best stuff. In each of the first six innings, Guidry walked a batter. In the fifth inning, Smith came up again and lined another shot toward Nettles, who was only able to knock it down, holding Smith to a single and loading the bases. Steve Garvey did the same thing, lining a shot to third. This time Nettles backhanded the ball from his knees, spinning in one motion for a throw to second for an inning-ending force out. Davey Lopes came to bat in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs and drilled one in Nettles’ direction. Again, Nettles made the play, throwing to second for a force out to end the inning.

The Yankees got to Don Sutton decisively in the seventh inning with three more hits. An RBI single by Thurman Munson scored Bucky Dent from third and brought in reliever Lance Rautzhan, who yielded another RBI single to Reggie Jackson, scoring White. Lou Piniella’s groundout scored Munson to finish the game’s scoring, 5-1. For Guidry, it had been a struggle not being able to retire the Dodgers in order in any inning. “When I was warming up before the game, I thought I had a good fastball. I must have left it in the bullpen,” he said. But his 137-pitch gutsy performance meant the Dodgers’ World Series lead had been cut in half, two games to one.”

What an instant Major League classic! One of the earlier baseball highlights of my live as a nine-year-old back then.



Saturday, August 8, 2020


 Here’s a “nickname of the 1970s” card that creamed to be created, my 1977 edition for “Sugar Bear” Larvell Blanks, who was smack in the middle of his nine-year Big League career when this card would have first seen the light of day:

Blanks was coming off his first season with the Cleveland Indians after playing his first four years in the Major Leagues with the Atlanta Braves.
He had a very nice season in 1976 for the Tribe, hitting .280 over 104 games, with 92 hits in 328 at-bats along with 45 runs scored and 41 runs batted in.
The next season was more of the same as he hit .286 with 92 hits in 322 at-bats almost duplicating the runs scored with 43 and RBIs with 38.
After a 1978 season that saw him falter just a bit, he found himself playing for the Texas Rangers in 1979, where he hit .200 in limited play, collecting 24 hits in 120 at-bats.
In 1980, in what turned out to be the last year of his MLB career, he was back where it all becan, in Atlanta, where he hit .204 for the Braves in just over a half season’s action, collecting 45 hits in 221 at-bats while filling in at third, short and second as usual.
He would go on to play in the Mexican League between 1981 and 1985 for a few different teams, finally calling it a pro career at the age of 35.
Overall, by the time he finished up his career in the Majors, Blanks had a career .253 batting average, with 446 hits over 1766 at-bats in 629 games, with 203 runs scored and 172 RBIs.



Friday, August 7, 2020


 Up on the blog today is a “not so missing” 1970 card for a guy whose career was already completed, former pitcher Mel Nelson:

Nelson played the last of his Big League games in 1969 with eight games as a St. Louis Cardinal, going 0-1 with a bloated 11.81 earned run average in 5.1 innings of work.
Originally up to the Majors in 1960 as a 24-year-old with St. Louis, he went on to pitch parts of six seasons over the next decade with the Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins between 1960 and 1969.
By the time he hung up the cleats in 1969, he finished with a career record of 4-10 over 93 appearances, with an ERA of 4.40 over 173.2 innings, with five saves and a complete game along the way.

Thursday, August 6, 2020


Next up in my new thread of 1971 “Minor League Days” is the great Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer, who was just about to kick-off an amazing MLB career that brought in every award possible over the next 17 years:
The 23-year-old appeared in 24 games for the Omaha Cardinals in 1959, going 9-9 with an earned run average of 3.07 over 135 innings, striking out 98 while walking 70.
That same season he’d get his first taste of the Big Leagues, appearing in 13 games and going 3-5 with a nice 3.33 ERA in 75.2 innings.
Over the rest of his brilliant career, he would settle for 251 wins as a Cardinals ace, along with 3117 strikeouts (only the second pitcher ever to reach that mark), 56 shutouts and a brilliant 2.91 E.R.A.
Let’s not forget that the man could field as well, as seen by his nine Gold Gloves, along with the fact that he could hit too, with 24 homers and 144 runs batted in over his 17-year career!
A legend of the game, he was a “gimmie” for the Hall of Fame once eligible in 1981, getting named on 337 of 401 ballots cast.
Stories of Gibson’s fierce competitive streak are legendary, and I love each and every one of them!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


Here’s a card I’ve been meaning to create for a while now, a 1978 “career-capper” for former pitcher-turned-outfielder Bobby Darwin:

Darwin wrapped up his nine-year Major League career with a split season between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, hitting a combined .190 with four hits over 21 at-bats in 15 games.
Starting his Big League career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1969 as a pitcher, Darwin was moved to the outfield where he showed some pop in his bat, hitting 65 home runs in three seasons with the Minnesota Twins between 1972 and 1974.
A “hit-or-miss” type hitter, he also led the American League in strikeouts (as a batter) those three straight seasons between 1972 and 1974, in what were his only three full seasons as a Big Leaguer.
He finished his career with a batting average of .251, with 559 hits over 2224 at-bats, with 250 runs scored and 328 RBI’s.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Time to go and give long-time outfielder Jerry Morales a “not so missing” 1972 card based on his action during the 1971 season. So here goes:

Morales was a 22-year-old who appeared in only 12 games for the San Diego padres in 1971, hitting .118 with two hits over 17 at-bats while manning all three outfield positions in his brief action.
He’d see full-time work in 1972, hitting .239 over 115 games, collecting 83 hits over 347 at-bats, with 38 runs scored and 18 RBIs with 26 extra-base-hits.
He’d be a full-time player over the next seven seasons, playing for the Padres, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers between 1973 and 1979, before playing in 94 games for the New York Mets in 1980 followed by three part-time years with the Cubs again between 1981 and 1983.
All told, he finished his 15-year MLB career with a .259 batting average, with 1173 hits over 4528 at-bats in 1441 games between 1969 and 1983, with 516 runs scored and 570 RBIs.
His 1975 season is easily his best, as he hit .270 for the Cubs while driving in a career high 91 runs with 12 homers and 21 doubles while appearing in 153 games, also a career-high.

Monday, August 3, 2020


Here’s a card a long-time in the making, my 1974 “missing in action” for former pitcher Steve Dunning, who split his 1973 season between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers:

I finally found a nice shot of him with the Rangers, which filled a gap in my list of truly “missing” players, this one for the 1974 set.
Dunning appeared in 27 games during the 1973 season, going 2-8 with a 5.53 earned run average spread out over 112.1 innings of work. Certainly enough of a season to warrant a card in the 1974 set!
He would only end up appearing in one game in the Big Leagues in 1974, pitching 2.1 innings for Texas before spending all of 1975 in the Minors.
All told, Dunning put together a seven-year MLB career between 1970 and 1977, finishing up with a record of 23-41 with an ERA of 4.56 in 136 appearances, 84 of them starts, pitching 613.2 innings with a save and a shutout thrown in.

Sunday, August 2, 2020


Today we have the “missing” World Series Game 2 card that Topps decided NOT to include in their 1979 set, and it depicts the commanding Los Angeles Dodger victory over the New York Yankees, giving them a 2-0 lead in the series:

Though Dodger third baseman Ron Cey would seemingly be the hero in this one, hitting a three-run homer and driving in all four runs in the 4-3 win, it would end up being remembered for the battle of young rookie Bob Welch against slugger Reggie Jackson in the ninth inning, with Welch coming out on top, striking out the future Hall of Famer.
With two men on base in the ninth and holding on to the slim one-run lead, Welch was brought in to relieve Terry Forster and got Thurman Munson to fly-out for the second out, bringing Jackson to the plate.
With Postseason heroics Jackson’s specialty, the odds seemed against the young pitcher, even getting to a 3-2 count against one of the greatest Postseason hitters the game has ever seen.
But wouldn’t you know it, while he could have given Jackson first base and concentrated anew against Graig Nettles, Welch attacked Jackson inside and got him to strikeout, giving the Dodgers what seemed to be an insurmountable 2 games to none lead.
Great baseball moment though as a young Yankee fan in Brooklyn at the time, I hated it!

Saturday, August 1, 2020


The next player featured in my new thread “Minor League Days” is Hall of Famer Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs, “Sweet Swingin’ Billy from Whistler”:

Williams was a 22-year-old when he played the last of his Minor League days, suiting up for the Houston Buffs in 1960 and hitting .323 with 26 homers and 80 runs batted in.
The following season he’d get his full-time break in the Big Leagues and wouldn’t disappoint, hitting 25 homers with 86 ribbies and a .278 batting average that was good enough to take home league Rookie of the Year honors.
Is it possible to be considered overshadowed and underrated yet still make the Hall of Fame? Williams is the perfect example!
By the time he retired, he finished with 2711 hits, 1410 runs scored, 426 home runs, 1475 runs batted in and a .290 batting average over 2488 games.
Along with his Rookie of the Year in 1961, he was a two-time runner-up to the MVP Award (thanks to Johnny Bench each time) in 1970 and 1972 and a six-time All-Star.
What a career he put together, yet always in the shadows of giants like teammate Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente.
Nevertheless, though it took him six years of eligibility to make it, he was elected for a rightful place in Cooperstown in 1987 when he received 85.7% of the vote.
Just a great player all around.


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