Up on the blog this morning we have a "missing" 1973 card for Andy Kosco, who split his 1972 campaign with the California Angels and Boston Red Sox:
Monday, November 30, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Just thought it'd be fun to post a collection of photos of all the Series of cards produced so far in my pack-series started a few months ago.
SO FOR ANYONE THAT WANTS TO BE SURPRISED WITH SERIES 4 DON'T LOOK AT THE PHOTOS!
Just an incredible career that took him straight to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1989, as if there was any chance of that NOT happening!
All-time legend of the game.
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Up next on the blog is another entry to my ongoing "Minor League Days" 1971 sub-set, this time the prolific Richie (not yet Dick) Allen, who was suiting up for the Arkansas Travelers here in 1963 as a 21-year-old:Allen did not disappoint as he pounded the ball to the tune of a .289 batting average, along with 33 homers and 97 runs batted in, along with 93 runs scored and a .550 slugging average. It would be the last Richie Allen would see of the Minors, as he'd get a late-call-up with the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting .292 in his Big League debut, where he was to stay.
Friday, November 27, 2020
On the blog today we have a “not so missing” 1974 card for former Atlanta Braves infielder Larvell Blanks, aka “Sugar Bear”, who appeared in 17 games during his second season of Big League ball in 1973:
Blanks hit .222 in that time, collecting four hits in 18 at-bats while playing all infield positions but first base, along with some pinch-hitting duties as well.
He would only appear in three games during the 1974 season before playing full-time in 1975 when he appeared in 141 games, which turned out to be a career-high, hitting .234 with 110 hits over 471 at-bats.
Blanks would find himself with the Cleveland Indians in 1976, having a very nice season 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 began, 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.
Thursday, November 26, 2020
For the fun of it, today’s blog post has a 1978 coach card for the great Red Schoendienst, TRUE baseball lifer and Hall of Famer:
Now, it may be tough to see him in a uniform other than the St. Louis Cardinals, but Red did indeed offer his expertise to the Oakland A’s in 1977 and 1978.
What really needs to be said about the man!?
Schoendienst first put together a 19-year Hall of Fame career between 1945 and 1963, winning a championship with the Cards as well as the Milwaukee Braves in 1957, before coaching and then managing St. Louis from 1965 to 1976, winning yet another championship in 1967, with a spot managing gig in 1980 and then 1990 all while coaching the team in between, including the 1982 season, giving him a FIFTH championship in his illustrious career.
He put in 2216 games as a player, then went on to manage 1999 games, winning 1041 of them for a .522 winning percentage, while coaching at LEAST another couple thousand games on top of that!
A baseball treasure!
Rest in Peace Red: 1923-2018
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Up on the blog today, a “not so missing” 1979 card for former San Diego padres outfielder Jim Wilhelm, who made his MLB debut in 1978 and appeared in 10 games:
Over those ten games Wilhelm hit a blistering .368 with seven hits in 19 at-bats, scoring two runs while driving in four.
He’d be back in 1979, playing in 39 games, this time hitting .243 with 25 hits in 103 at-bats, both scoring and driving in eight runs, with four doubles and three triples.
Turns out that would be the sum total of his Major League tenure, as he would retire shortly after the 1979 season, spending all six years of his professional career in the San Diego organization.
His Big League time ended with a .262 batting average, with 32 hits over 122 official at-bats in 49 games, with 10 runs scored and 12 RBIs.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
On the blog today, a “not so missing” 1977 card for former first baseman Jerry Tabb, who made his Major League debut during the 1976 season with the Chicago Cubs:
Tabb appeared in 16 games, hitting a very nice .292 in that time with seven hits in 24 at-bats, all singles, while scoring two runs and walking three times.
The 1977 season saw him now playing for the Oakland A’s, as he would get into 51 games, hitting .222 with 32 hits in 144 at-bats, setting career-highs across the board since it was by far the most action in any of his three seasons in the Majors.
Tabb appeared in 12 games for Oakland in 1978, hitting .111 with a single hit over nine official at-bats, driving in a run, along with two walks.
It seems he never played pro ball again after the 1978 season, as I can’t even find any Minor League action for him later on.
All told the Oklahoma native played in 74 career games, hitting .226 with 40 hits, 10 runs scored and 20 runs batted in along with six homers and three doubles between 1976 and 1978.
Monday, November 23, 2020
Up on the blog today we have a “not so missing” 1979 card for former pitcher Fred Holdsworth, who put in a sporadic seven-year Big League career between 1972 and 1980:
Holdsworth appeared in six games during the 1978 season, pitching for the Montreal Expos and not factoring in a decision, with an earned run average of 7.27 over 8.2 innings of work.
He would spend all of 1979 in the Minors before coming back, now with the Milwaukee Brewers, for the 1980 season and appearing in what turned out to be the last nine games of his career, again not factoring in a decision while pitching to a 4.58 ERA over 19.2 innings.
Originally up in 1972 with the Detroit Tigers, Holdsworth played three years in the Motor City before spending all of 1975 in the Minors before playing in 16 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1976 when he posted his best MLB season, going 4-1 with a very nice 2.04 ERA in 39.2 innings.
Overall, by the time he retired, he finished with a 7-10 record in 72 appearances, with an ERA of 4.40 and two saves over 182 innings pitched.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Today we add the great Dave Winfield to my 1975 “In-Action” set, as the young stud was quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the National League by the time this card would have hit the shelves:
One of my favorite players as a youngster growing up in Brooklyn, NY in the 1980’s, Winfield would become the favorite player of many young kids in the San Diego area during the 1970’s, giving the Padres a new-look outfielder, bringing a whole new type of athleticism (along with Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates), with speed, stellar defense, a gun for an arm, and power at the plate.
By the time he retired after the 1995 season, his 22nd as a Big Leaguer, he finished with eight 100-RBI seasons, 15 20-home run seasons, 3110 hits, 1669 runs scored and 1833 RBIs.
He made the All-Star team 12 times, took home seven Gold Gloves, finished Top-10 in MVP voting seven times and was awarded six Silver Slugger Awards.
Man I loved this guy! I’ll never forget his line-drive home runs deep into left field at Yankee stadium as a kid, wondering what he would do in a stadium like today where he wasn’t looking at 430 to left-center.
One of the game’s greatest all-around athletes!
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Next in line for a 1971 “Minor League Days” card in my long-running sub-set is the great Pete Rose, a Hall of Famer in my book, who was tearing up D-League pitching in 1961 as a member of the Tampa Tarpons:
The 20-year-old Rose ended up hitting .331 for the Tarpons, with 160 hits in 484 at-bats over 130 games, but what was extraordinary were his 30 triples, along with 20 doubles, 77 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases.
The man was on a mission, and with one more year of Minor League ball in 1962, he was ready to take the Majors by storm in 1963, which would end up with him taking home the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Of course, all he did after that was win three batting titles, an MVP Award in 1973, become a key part of a juggernaut with the “Big Red Machine” Reds of the 1970’s that led to two World Championships, and of course being named the Sporting News “Player of the Decade” for the 1970’s.
In the ten years spanning 1970-1979, he was on two world champion teams, four pennant winners, had six 200-hit seasons, and lead his league in no less than 13 offensive categories!
And that's not all: in NINE of those years he received Most Valuable Player consideration, taking home the award as I stated earlier in 1973.
As a player, the man was incredible. A Hall of Famer. The all-time hit leader in Major League baseball’s 150+ year history.
Friday, November 20, 2020
realized I haven’t created a “Turn Back the Clock” card in a long
while, and recently was reminded of Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Karl
Spooner’s incredible Big League debut on September 22nd, 1954.
So without further delay, here you go:
On that September day, Spooner took the mound for the Dodgers a day after the New York Giants clinched the National League title on their way to a World Championship.
All the young lefty would do that day is shut out the Giants on three hits while striking out 15 batters, while walking three, setting a new MLB record for K’s in a debut.
In addition to that, he would also set a new record with six straight strikeouts over the seventh and eighth innings, by now on cruise control as he was heading towards his amazing complete game.
In his very next start, now against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he would again put in an electric performance, striking out 12 batters, a new National League record (one short of Bob Feller’s MLB record of 28 K’s in successive starts), while posting his second straight shutout.
Not too shabby!
The next season Spooner was a highly anticipated rookie who had Dodger fans waiting for magical season, but as we have seen over and over again, the unexpected happened as he was rushed into a Spring Training game to relieve starting pitcher Johnny Podres.
In warming up too fast so as to be ready when the signal came, Spooner later recalls that he entered the game and felt a slight pull on his throwing shoulder.
Though he didn’t think anything of it at the time, by the time his day was over and he was in the dressing room, it got to the point where he couldn’t even put his shirt on.
And just like that, though he did pitch the rest of the season, appearing in 29 games while going 8-6 with a 3.65 earned run average over 98.2 innings, the damage was done, and he never pitched another Major League game again.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
I recently came across this nice image of former infielder Jack Heidemann as a Cleveland Indian and figured, “why not?” to a re-done 1975 card, even though he didn’t finish the 1974 season in Cleveland, but in St. Louis as Topps correctly depicted for their 1975 set:
Heidemann started the 1974 season as an Indian, appearing in 12 games before heading over to St. Louis where he’d finish the season with 47 games as a Redbird.
Overall he hit .247 over 59 games for both teams, collecting 20 hits over 81 at-bats, with ten runs scored and three runs batted in.
He finished his Major League tenure with a .211 batting average, with 231 hits in 1093 at-bats over 426 games, hitting nine home runs and driving in 75, scoring 94 himself between 1969 and 1977.
So this wasn’t a technical “re-do” as I usually define it, but just a filler for those who like a complete run of players with the teams they suited up for.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Up on the blog today we have a “not so missing” 1971 card for one-year Major League pitcher Ed Phillips of the Boston Red Sox:
Phillips’ entire Major League career was played between April and August of 1970, appearing in 18 games for Boston while going 0-2 along the way.
In that time he posted an earned run average of 5.32 over 23.2 innings of work, striking out 23 while walking 10, all out of the bullpen.
He would spend all of 1971 in the Boston and New York Mets Minor League systems, appearing in 28 games (??) while tossing only six innings (that’s what Baseball_Reference has listed), to the tune of a 12.00 ERA. Ouch.
That would be the end of his Pro baseball career, which began in Boston’s system in 1966.
Nevertheless, at least for four to five months in 1970 he knew what it was like to be a Major League pitcher!
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
On the blog today we have a “borderline” missing 1973 card for former pitcher Jim Rooker, who I feel had enough playing time in 1972 to warrant a card the following year:
Rooker appeared in 18 games for the Kansas City Royals, pitching 72 innings and posting a record of 5-6 with an ERA of 4.38.
Considering some of the other players who got cards in the 1973 set, I figure Rooker could have easily gotten one as well.
Anyway, in 1973 he would find himself now a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the change of scenery would be beneficial, as he’d post a record of 10-6 with a very nice 2.85 ERA over 41 appearances and 170.1 innings, with three shutouts and five saves.
He would go on to post another four straight seasons of double-digit wins for the Pirates, including career-bests 15 in both 1974 and 1976, with three seasons of sub-3.00 ERAs.
By the time he retired after the 1980 season, all with Pittsburgh, he finished with a career record of 103-109, with a nice 3.46 ERA over 319 appearances and 1810.1 innings pitched, along with 15 shutouts and seven saves between 1968 and 1980.
Monday, November 16, 2020
Up on the blog today we have a “not so missing” 1975 card for former pitcher Gary Ross, who barely saw any action during the 1974 season with the San Diego Padres:
Ross appeared in nine games for the Padres that season, not factoring in a decision while pitching to an earned run average of 4.50 in 18 innings of work.
For the 1975 campaign Ross would appear in one single game, now with the California Angels, throwing five innings and allowing three runs for a 5.40 ERA, taking the loss.
He would bounce back nicely somewhat in 1976 when he appeared in 34 games, 31 of them starts, going 8-16 but with a very nice 3.00 earned run average with seven complete games and two shutouts in 225 innings of work.
Sadly, his 1977 season was another bust as he went 2-4 in only 14 games with a 5.55 ERA over 58.1 innings, which would end up being his last as a Big League pitcher.
He’d retire after the season, never even playing Minor League ball after that, finishing up with a career 25-47 record over 283 appearances, with a 3.92 ERA in 713.2 innings pitched between 1968 and 1977.
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Fun card to add to the long-running 1971 “Minor League Days” sub-set, a Hoyt Wilhelm edition for the Hall of Fame reliever:
Incredibly, Wilhelm was already 27 years old when this photo was taken when he was a member of the Minneapolis Millers in 1950.
The man STILL had another full year in the Minors before he ever made his major League debut in 1952 when he led the league with a 2.43 earned run average while posting a brilliant 15-3 record over 71 appearances.
Truly one of the unique Big League careers, over his 21 MLB seasons, he only had two where he pitched enough innings to qualify for an ERA title, and he won BOTH years, the other happening in 1959 as a member of the Baltimore Orioles when he paced the league with a 2.19 ERA over 226 innings.
He would really hit his stride AFTER TURNING 40 in 1963 as a member of the Chicago White Sox, when he would post five straight seasons of a sub-2.00 ERA between 1964 and 1968!
As a kid growing up a Yankee fan during the 1970’s and 1980’s, we’d always be reminded of the “last time the Yanks were no-hit” every time a starter was getting close (Moose Haas, Nolan Ryan, etc), which he did on September 20th of 1958.
Before I ever even knew of the incredible career of Wilhelm, I knew of him just for this one fact.
It wasn’t the most memorable of seasons for the future Hall of Famer by any means, as he’d post a combined 3-10 record, though he’d pair that with a great 2.34 ERA, but certainly had one heck of a memorable moment.
Wilhelm would end up pitching 21 seasons in the big leagues, and again keep in mind he didn’t start playing until he was 29 years old!
He finished his brilliant career with a 143-122 record along with a sparkling 2.52 ERA over 1070 games, the first pitcher to reach 1000 appearances, before retiring after the 1972 season at the ripe old age of 49.
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Came across this great image for former Minnesota Twins all-stars Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew circa 1970 and thought it’d make for a great 1971 special, so here goes:
What a great pair of players!
Olive, the three-time batting champion and 1964 American League Rookie of the Year, along with Killebrew, the eight-time American League home run champion and 1969 Most Valuable Player.
A case can also be made that Oliva should have been the 1965 A.L. Most Valuable Player over his teammate Zoilo Versalles (which I happen to agree with), but he had to settle for second place in the voting, which he’d also do in 1970 when he finished behind Baltimore’s Boog Powell for the honor.
Nevertheless, the two studs gave the Twins such a potent double-threat in their line-up for years, and must have been a joy to watch day-in and day-out!
Oliva burst onto the Major League scene in 1964 when he easily won the American League Rookie of the Year award.
In that year, all he did was lead the league in batting, hitting .323, while slamming 32 homers with 94 runs batted in.
He also lead the league in runs scored with 109, hits with 217, doubles with 43 and total bases with 374!
Those numbers also got him a fourth place finish in M.V.P. voting as well.
The following year there was no sign of a sophomore jinx, as he once again lead the lead in batting, this time hitting .321, with 16 homers, 98 R.B.I.'s, 40 doubles and 107 runs scored.
He also lead the league in total hits again, this time with 185.
All told in his career, Oliva would win three batting titles (the third coming in 1971 when he hit .337), and would lead the league in hits five times, slugging once (1971), get named to eight straight all-star teams, and have two second-place finishes for M.V.P., in 1965 and 1970.
I wouldn't say his final numbers warrant a Hall of Fame spot for Oliva. But I'll admit that you can argue a good point for it with the career he left us with.
When you really take a look, he only had 11 full seasons in the Majors, with the half-season in 1976 and three pretty much non-existant years in 1962, 1963 and 1972.
So his numbers carry a bit more weight in that light.
What does anyone need to be reminded of regarding Killebrew?
He was an absolute BEAST at the plate, crushing 573 lifetime homers, MOST of them during the pitching-era of the 1960's into the '70's.
Eight 40+ home run seasons, nine 100+ runs batted in seasons, seven 100+ base-on-balls seasons, an M.V.P. in 1969 (with five top-5 finishes in M.V.P. voting as well), and a Hall of Fame induction in 1984.
Friday, November 13, 2020
Now here is a card I have been meaning to create for years, Hank Aaron’s “base” 1975 All-Star card, which for some reason Topps managed to screw up way back when:
Now, as we know Topps went ahead and made Aaron’s base card an airbrushed Milwaukee Brewer card with his recent trade back to “where it all began” for him.
However, instead of doing what they did with Bobby Murcer, where he’d still have the “All-Star” logo on his base card, they went ahead and put the All-Star on his “Record Breaker” card.
Now, I know a lot of you love the way Topps handled it, but I have always hated it, since I was a kid trying to keep all my All-Star cards together in their yellow and red beautiful glory.
Not that I was really a fan of the Bobby Murcer card with him as a San Francisco Giant yet labeled an American League All-Star outfielder, but at least when paged all together it made sense!
Nevertheless, I created two versions, a posed version and an action version to make the set complete!
Hope you enjoy them!
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Up on the blog today, how about a “not so missing” 1976 card for Otto Velez, who played in a half-dozen games during the 1975 season for the New York Yankees:
Velez, who got his first taste of the Big Leagues in 1973 at the age of 22, played in 23, 27 and then six games respectively between his debut year and 1975.
In 1975 he hit .250 over his brief action, collecting two hits in eight at-bats along with a run batted in while playing some first base along with being a designated hitter.
He’d be back with the Yankees in 1976, appearing in 49 games for the eventual American League champions, hitting .266 with a couple of homers, 11 runs scored and 10 RBIs.
His career would take different path when he was the 53rd pick in the 1976 expansion draft, for the new Toronto Blue Jays organization, and would have a decent year for the Jays in 1977 when he batted .256 with 16 homers and 62 runs batted in.
He would stay with the team for the next five years, hitting as many as 20 homers (1980) as well as matching the ‘77 RBI total that very same year.
Velez would put 11 years in the Major Leagues, batting .251 with 78 homers and 272 runs batted in, while collecting 452 hits in 1802 at-bats over 637 games.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Up on the blog today is another do-over, this time a 1975 re-do for former catcher Rick Stelmaszek, who had himself a nifty airbrush job by the fine people at Topps, but is now given a fresh new pic for his card thanks to the gift of passing time:
Oddly enough Stelmaszek played for the Chicago Cubs in 1974, appearing in 25 games. It was the only Big League action he saw, so the airbrushed job for 1975 is a bit weird.
For those that don’t remember the original, here you go:
I wonder why Topps didn’t have an image for him WITH the team he actually played for the year prior.
As for his career, 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.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Time to go and give long-time Major League catcher Rick Dempsey a “not so missing” 1971 card after appearing in five games for the Minnesota Twins during the 1970 season:
Dempsey was still only 20 years old when he made it to the Big Leagues for the second season in a row, making his MLB debut as a teen in 1969 for the West champion Twins.
Over his five games in 1970 he went 0-7 at the plate, scoring a run, this after going 3-for-6 at the plate in 1969 for a cool .500 batting average.
Of course, we know know that he would go on to play in four decades, playing 24 years between 1969 and 1992, mainly for the Baltimore Orioles, as well as short stints with the New York Yankees, Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers.
Never a full-time player, he was an important platoon or “off the bench” catcher that would be a part of two World Championship teams (1983 Orioles and 1988 Dodgers), even taking home the 1983 World Series MVP when he hit .385 for Baltimore in their win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
By the time he retired, he ended up with a career .233 average, with 1093 hits in 4692 at-bats over 1765 games, while also being a huge jokester cracking fans up along the way.
I’ll always remember his rain-delay act with over-stuffed uniform as he “slip and slid” across the tarp while with the Orioles some time during the early-80’s.
Great career and character.
Monday, November 9, 2020
Up on the blog today we have a 1970 “not so missing” card for former outfielder Jim Gosger, who split his 1969 campaign in dramatic fashion, starting the season off with the new Seattle Pilots franchise, then moving on to the eventual World Champion New York Mets:
Gosger was sent over to the Mets in July to complete an earlier trade
from February that involved Greg Goossen, and he went on to appear in 10
games for the “Amazins”, hitting .133 over that time with two hits in
He would move on to the Montreal Expos for both the 1970 and 1971 seasons before spending all of 1972 in the Minor Leagues.
He’d make it back to the Majors in 1973, again with the Mets, where he would play in 38 games, followed by another 26 in 1974, which would end up being the last of his Big League career.
He had a 10-year career that saw him suit up for the Boston Red Sox, Kansas City/Oakland A’s, Seattle Pilots, Montreal Expos and Mets before retiring after the 1974 season.
All told he batted .226 for his career with 411 hits, 197 runs scored, 30 homers and 177 runs batted in over 705 career games and 1815 at-bats.
Sunday, November 8, 2020
the fun of it, today’s blog post has a re-done 1973 card for former
all-star catcher Tom Haller, who was actually shown by Topps as a member
of the Philadelphia Phillies, airbrushed of course.
Take a look at the re-do and original cards:
|Original 1973 Topps card|
|Re-done Tigers version|
Actually, Haller finished the 1972 season with the Detroit Tigers, appearing in 59 games and hitting .207 with 25 hits in 121 at-bats in what turned out to be the last Big League action he’d see.
However on October 25th of 1972 Haller was purchased by the Phillies, so Topps understandably was trying to get ahead and have Haller as a Phillie for the upcoming 1973 set.
Well, as we have seen many times before (and since), turns out Haller would get released by Philadelphia in February of 1973, making the Phillies airbrush card unnecessary.
Regardless, Haller was a three-time All-Star over his 12-year Big League career, as well as garnering a little “MVP-attention” in back-to-back years in 1968 and 1969 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
His best year would have to be 1966 while with the San Francisco Giants when he hit a career-best 27 home runs along with 67 runs batted in, scoring 74 runs, hitting .240 with 113 hits in 471 at-bats.
All told he finished his career with a .257 average, with 134 homers and 504 RBIs over 1294 games and 3935 at-bats between 1961 and 1972.
Saturday, November 7, 2020
Today on the blog we go and add Hall of Famer Phil Niekro to my long-running “Minor League Days” thread, celebrating stars of Major League Baseball around 1971 with a card showing them before they hit the Big Leagues:
Incredibly enough, Niekro was already a 25-year-old when he put in one season with the Denver Bears in 1964, going 11-5 with a 3.45 earned run average over 29 appearances after spending all of 1963 in the Military.
Later that season he would make his Major League debut with 10 games for the Milwaukee Braves, not factoring in a decisions while sporting an ERA of 3.45 over 15 innings.
It is incredible to think Niekro didn’t have a full season on Big League duty until 1967 at the age of 28, yet still went on to pitch 24 seasons, winning 318 games with a very nice 3.35 ERA along with 45 shutouts and 3342 strikeouts before he was done at the age of 48!
I always thought it amazing that at the age of 44 in 1983, he took home the last of his five Gold Gloves, ALL of which were garnered beginning his age 39 season in 1978.
Friday, November 6, 2020
For fun today our blog post has a 1977 “not so missing dedicated rookie” card for former pitcher Gary Wheelock, who made his MLB debut during the 1976 season with the California Angels:
Wheelock actually appeared on a multi-player rookie card in a small airbrushed Seattle Mariners cap, so since I came across this nice image of him with the California Angels, I figured "why not?" and created this version. Wheelock appeared in two games for California as a September call-up, not factoring in a decision while getting hit hard, to the tune of a 27.00 earned run average over two innings,
He would find himself a member of the new Seattle Mariners organization in 1977 and appear in 17 games for his new team, going 6-9 with a 4.89 ERA over 88.1 innings in that inaugural season.
Sadly for him however, he’d spend the next three seasons in the Minors before making it all the way back for one last game in 1980, throwing three innings while giving up two runs, again not factoring in a decision.
After a brief Minor League season for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981 where he appeared in nine games, he called it a career, finishing with a record of 6-9 over 20 games, with an ERA of 5.40 in 93.1 innings of work.
Thursday, November 5, 2020
On the blog today, a card I’ve wanted to do for quite a long time now, and with the help of my friend Chris in Colorado now a possibility, my 1974 “traded” card for former slugger Ben Oglivie:
After playing the first three years of his Major League career with the Boston Red Sox, Oglivie found himself in the “Motor City” after a straight-up trade for Dick McAuliffe on October 23rd of 1973.
He would continue to be played as a platoon-player over the next four seasons, averaging about 100 games a year, but nevertheless playing well as he showed power and a decent batting average hovering around .280.
However it wasn’t until he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Jim Slaton that he’d finally find full-time work, eventually becoming a legitimate slugger who’d lead the American League in 1980 with 41 homers, along with a career-high 118 runs batted in and 94 runs scored.
He would play with the Brewers through the rest of his 16-year career, until 1986, before going on to play in Japan for two seasons with Kintetsu, where he’d his 46 homers combined.
Overall in his MLB career, Oglivie batted .273 with 235 homers and 901 RBI’s, with 1615 hits over 5913 at-bats and 1754 games, getting three All-Star nods and a Silver Slugger for his Home Run champion 1980 season.
Thank you Chris!!!!
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
blog post offers up a “fix” for a situation that I’m always fascinated
about: Topps trying to get the card right, eventually getting shafted
with a late-minute transaction.
In this case, Pat Bourque, who was originally shown in the 1975 set as an Oakland A’s player, even though he finished the 1974 season as a Minnesota Twin, and never played Big League ball again:
Bourque played the last 23 games of the 1974 season with the Twins after coming over from Oakland, hitting .219 with 14 hits in 64 at-bats, with five runs scored and eight runs batted in.
But after the season ended, he was traded by Minnesota back to Oakland, for whom he started the 1974 season with, but would never appear in a Major League game with.
As a matter of fact, instead of playing baseball in the States again, he took his talents South to Mexico where he played the next four years with the Mexico City Reds before finally retiring after the 1978 season.
Nevertheless, it gives us a unique oddball 1975 card showing him with the A’s, for whom he never played again, and no cards of him as a Twin, which I fixed today.
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Today’s blog post has a pre-rookie “not so missing” 1979 card for former third baseman Ken Oberkfell, who was just embarking on a very nice 16-year Major League career:
Oberkfell appeared in two-dozen games for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1978 season, after making his Big League debut in 1977 with nine games.
Over those 24 games in 1978, hit hit a disappointing .120 with six hits in 50 at-bats, scoring seven runs while collecting his first extra-base-hit, a double.
Of course as you know, he would go on to play 16 seasons in the Big Leagues, the first eight with the Cardinals before moving on to the Atlanta Braves for five years, before playing out his career with four others between 1988 and 1992.
Oberkfell gave St. Louis a solid few seasons between 1979 and 1983, never hitting below .289 while admirably manning third base, including their 1982 championship season.
By the time he retired after the 1992 season, he finished with a .278 career average, with 1354 hits over 4874 at-bats and 1602 games, with 558 runs scored and 446 runs batted in.
Monday, November 2, 2020
Up on the blog today, a “not so missing” 1977 card for two-year Major leaguer Andy Merchant of the Boston Red Sox, who played the last of his brief Big League career in 1976:
Merchant, who was originally up to the Majors in 1975 for one single
game, was back in 1976, this time for two games, completing what was to
be a brief three game career.
Over his three Major League games, the catcher hit .333 with two hits over six at-bats, scoring a run while drawing one base on balls.
He would go on to play another three full seasons in Boston’s Minor League system before calling it a career, which began back in 1972 as a 21-year-old.
He played his entire professional career in the Boston organization, never really playing full-time it seems, with a career high 119 games in the Minors in the 1975 season.
Sunday, November 1, 2020
Next up in my “Minor League Days” 1971 sub-set is St. Louis Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer Lou Brock, “The Franchise”, who sadly passed away recently along with quite a few other legends of the game:
Brock was in his first season of professional ball when this photo was taken in 1961, playing for the St. Cloud Rox, the Chicago Cubs C-level Minor League team.
In his sole season there Brock lit up the league, hitting .361 with 181 hits and 117 runs scored in 128 games, stealing 38 bases, driving in 82, and collecting 53 extra base hits.
Brock really was an under-appreciated player in my book, having to get what little spotlight he could playing the outfield in the National league when you had guys like Mays, Aaron and Clemente there as well.
Nevertheless, the man made six All-Star squads, finished second in the MVP race for the National League in 1974, and would go on to a Hall of Fame induction thanks to 3000+ hits, an MLB record 938 stolen bases, and 1610 runs scored.
Did you know that between 1964 and 1974 the LEAST amount of hits he collected in any one season was 182?
As a matter of fact in those eleven seasons he collected over 190 hits eight times, while scoring less than 90 only once.
Just an incredible, “quiet” Major League career rarely matched before or since, without all the fan-fare outside of his 1974 season when he shattered the MLB stolen base record with 118.
Heck, even his last season of 1979, at the age of 40, Brock hit .304 with 21 stolen bases over 120 games and 436 plate appearances.