Sunday, October 31, 2021

EXPANDED LEAGUE LEADERS: 1974 N.L. STOLEN BASES

Capping off yet another week here on the blog, today we have the next card in my "expanded league leaders" thread, a 1974 N.L. Stolen base leader card, featuring the top three stolen base guys from the Senior Circuit for 1973:

 
Of course we begin with Hall of Famer Lou Brock. Who Else?
Brock paced the N.L. in 1973 with 70 steals, the seventh time he'd lead the league and of course a precursor to his historic 1974 season that saw him break the Major League record with 118 steals, which would hold up until a dude by the name of Rickey Henderson showed up.
For Brock, his 1973 was a "typical" Brock season: 190+ hits, 100 runs scored and hovering around .300 for the St. Louis Cardinals. The man was a machine!
Just behind him with 67 steals is another Hall of Famer, Joe Morgan of the Cincinnati Reds, who was by now churning out MVP-type seasons left and right.
Morgan's 67 steals would end up being a career-best, a number he'd match two seasons later during his first MVP year of 1975.
He paired those steals with 116 runs scored, a .290 average, 26 homers and 82 RBIs, helping the Reds to the National League playoffs before a surprising loss to the New York Mets.
In third place for stolen bases in 1973, Houston Astros stud Cesar Cedeno, was in the prime of his Major League career, stealing 56 bases, one more than his previous season's total.
With those 56 steals he also hit 25 homers with 70 RBIs, scoring 86 runs and matching his 1972 batting average of .320.
He also brought home his second straight Gold Glove, with three more to follow consecutively through the 1976 campaign.
Three great N.L. talents on one smart card here!
Onto the American League next week!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

NICKNAMES OF THE 1970'S: "BULLDOG" JIM BOUTON

Time to post up a long overdue "nicknames of the 1970's" card for former pitcher Jim Bouton, aka "Bulldog", for now in a Seattle Pilots 1970 edition until I can find a nice shot of him with the Houston Astros that I haven't used before:

 
Bouton was coming off seven seasons with the New York Yankees when he was purchased by the new Pilots franchise in June of 1968.
While with the Yankees he had two great seasons in 1963 and 1964 before arm injuries kept him sporadic at best over the next four years.
As a Seattle Pilot, Bouton was used as a reliever, appearing in 57 games while going 2-1 with an earned run average of 3.91 before getting traded to the Houston Astros on August 24th of ‘69, where he appeared in 16 games before the season was done.
Of course, his somewhat brief tenure with the Pilots is forever immortalized in his landmark book “Ball Four”, with anecdote after anecdote of players, coaches and managers throughout his MLB career, and the Pilots had their fair share of characters.
For Bouton, he’d also pitch in 1970 before arm troubles ended his career, but not before making a surprising comeback at the age of 39 with the Atlanta Braves in 1978, appearing in what turned out to be the last five games of his career, all starts, as he went 1-3 with a 4.97 ERA.
All told, Bouton finished his career with a record of 62-63, with an ERA of 3.57 over 304 appearances, 144 of those starts, with 11 shutouts and six saves between 1962 and 1979.

Friday, October 29, 2021

1972 ALL-STAR SUB-SET: BUDDY HARRELSON

Next up in my on-going 1972 All-Star sub-set is the starting shortstop for the National League in the classic 1971 Midsummer classic, New York Met Bud Harrelson:

 
Harrelson made his second straight All-Star team in 1971, arguably his two best seasons in the Big Leagues, in which he got MVP consideration at the end of the year, as well as winning his only Gold Glove.
The typical "light-hitting/good fielding" middle infielder of the time, he gave the Mets a solid glove man up the middle between 1965 and 1977 before taking his leather to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1978.
By the time he retired after the 1980 season after one year with the Texas Rangers, he finished with a career .236 average, with 1120 hits in 4744 at-bats, with 539 runs scored, 127 stolen bases and 267 RBIs over 1533 games.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

TRADED: 1977 CLAUDELL WASHINGTON

On the blog today, we have a 1977 "Traded" card for former outfielder Claudell Washington, who found himself heading to the Texas Rangers just before the 1977 season after a trade from the Oakland A's:

 
Washington, who was still only 21 years of age, was traded for Rodney Scott and Jim Umbarger after parts of three seasons with Oakland.
An All-Star in 1975 at the age of only 20, Washington was certainly a promising star in the game, hitting for average while stealing bases and showing a little "pop" in his bat from time to time.
He didn't disappoint in his first season as a Ranger, hitting .284 with 148 hits, 63 runs scored and 68 RBIs, with 12 homers and 21 stolen bases.
However after only 12 games in 1978, he was on the move again, to the Chicago White Sox where he'd play for parts of three years, with 1979 his only full season there.
After finishing his 1980 season with 79 games for the New York Mets in 1980, he signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves, where he would end up playing for the next five and a half seasons, again, giving his team a consistent set of numbers that generally hovered around .275 with 15 homers and 20 stolen bases.
After the Braves he played with the New York Yankees from 1986 through the 1988 season before heading West as a member of the California Angels in 1989 & 1990, before one last hurrah with the Yanks at the end of that 1990 season.
By the time he retired, Washington finished with 1884 hits, 926 runs, 164 homers and 312 stolen bases, along with a .278 batting average over 1912 games and 6787 at-bats.
Sadly, he passed away last year at the age of 65 from prostate cancer after being diagnosed with the disease in 2017.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

REVISITING AN OLD BLOG POST- JULY 13TH, 2013

With the passing of former Major League pitcher Chuck Hartenstein this past October 2nd, I thought I'd revisit a really old post from the blog covering his unlikely return to the Big Leagues in 1977 after seven years.

This post first appeared in July of 2013, some two months after I started the blog. Incredible that it's already been over eight years.
Here you go:
 

 
 
"One day while trolling through cards to spark ideas for this blog I came across this seemingly "common" common: Topps 1977 Chuck Hartenstein #416.
Luckily for some reason I flipped the card around and looked at the stats posted, and saw that this guy hadn't appeared in a Major League game since 1970. So of course, I look up when he last appeared on a baseball card and saw that it was also in 1970.
Amazing actually, that a guy has a span of seven years between baseball cards as an active player. The only other time I can recall this happening is with pitcher Vicente Romo, who went between 1975-1983 without a card.
Thanks to baseball's expansion with the Mariners and Blue Jays, there was a sudden need for some "extra" players in 1977, especially some cheap, unprotected veterans and cast-offs who could fill some roles on the bench and in the bullpen.
Apparently the Toronto brass felt Hartenstein was one of these guys, even if his earlier career wasn't necessarily stellar.
Pitching from 1966-1970, Chuck sported an even 17-17 record as an arm out of the pen over 174 games for the Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates and Red Sox with a 4.52 E.R.A.
As for his return to the big leagues, it wasn't much to look at, posting an 0-2 record with a 6.59 E.R.A. in 13 games.
But hey, at least it was good for a nifty, groovy-looking card that only the '70's could offer.
I'm still trying to see if I uncover any other cards of guys who had a long span between issues but can't seem to find any. Anyone know of any others?"


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1975 RICH McKINNEY

Time to add a "not so missing" 1975 card for former Major League infielder Rich McKinney to the WTHBALLS stable, the third creation here over the years for the guy:

 
McKinney appeared in only five games for the three-time World Champs in 1974, his second year with the team, going 1-for-7 at the plate while putting in time at second base on the defensive side.
He would go on to appear in only 8 combined games in 1975 before spending all of 1976 in the Minors, but would come back in 1977 to play in 86 games for Oakland, which turned out to be the last Big League action of his seven-year career.
When it was all said and done, McKinney finished with a .225 batting average, with 199 hits in 886 at-bats over 341 games, with 20 homers and exactly 100 runs batted in and 79 runs scored.
Of course we’ll also remember that McKinney got two straight classic airbrush jobs on his Topps cards in 1972 and 1973, which I profiled years ago on the blog:

http://whentoppshadballs.blogspot.com/2014/09/an-all-time-classic-airbrush-job-1973.html

Monday, October 25, 2021

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1979 OSCAR ZAMORA

On the blog today, a career-capping "not so missing" 1979 card for former pitcher Oscar Zamora, who played the last games of his brief Major League career during the 1977 season:

 
Zamora appeared in 10 games for the Houston Astros, his only season with them after parts of three seasons with the Chicago Cubs between 1974 and 1976.
Over those ten games he didn't pick up a decision while pitching to a rough 7.20 earned run average in 15 innings.
Over his four seasons as a Big Leaguer, he finished with a career 13-14 record, with a 4.53 ERA and 23 saves over 158 appearances, with two of those starts.
His finest year is easily his rookie season, when he appeared in 56 games for the Cubs in 1974, all out of the bullpen, with 10 saves and a nice 3.12 ERA over 83.2 innings of work.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

EXPANDED LEAGUE LEADERS: 1974 A.L. RUNS BATTED IN

Time to move ahead in my on-going "Expanded League Leaders" thread to the American League's top RBI guys for 1973, with this 1974 creation:

 
Of course we start off with the A.L.'s MVP of 1973, the man Reggie Jackson, who led the league with his 117 RBI's, the only time during his Hall of Fame career he led in that department.
Jackson helped the Oakland A's win their second straight championship in 1973, leading the league in homers, RBIs, runs and slugging while hitting .293, almost a 30 point jump from the year before.
My year's end he was tabbed the MVP, made his fourth All-Star team, and cemented himself as a bonafide superstar in the game.
Right behind him with 107 RBIs was Milwaukee Brewer slugger George Scott, who reached 100 RBIs for the first time in his career, along with 24 homers and a .306 batting average, also picking up his fifth Gold Glove for his defensive work at first base.
For Scott, outside the RBIs it was a typical season, consistently hitting 20+ homers, driving in 75 runs while giving his team stellar work on defense, to the tune of eight Gold Gloves before he was done.
Rounding out the top three RBI men of 1973 is Kansas City Royals slugger John Mayberry, who had yet another fine year when he reached exactly 100 RBIs for the second straight year, also leading the league in walks with 122 while hitting .278 with 87 runs scored.
Those numbers gave him a seventh place finish in the MVP race, something he'd top two years later with a second place finish in 1975.
Three great sluggers during the mid-70's who did not disappoint!

 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

1972 ALL-STAR SUB-SET: GLENN BECKERT

Next up in my new thread celebrating the greatest All-Star game of the 1970's, if not ever, is my 1972 All-Star card for the National League's starting second baseman for the 1971 Midsummer Classic, Glenn Beckert of the Chicago Cubs:

 
Though only in the Big Leagues for eleven seasons, Beckert had a very nice career, getting four All-Star nods, a Gold Glove, and giving the Cubs a solid second baseman alongside guys like Ron Santo, Billy Williams and Ernie Banks.
The 1971 season was perhaps the best in Beckert's career, as he would go on to hit a career-high .342 while collecting 181 hits, with 80 runs scored and 42 runs batted in.
Between 1966 and 1971 he never hit below .280, and in 1968 he led the National league with 98 runs scored during the "year of the pitcher."
By the time he retired after the 1975 season, he finished with a very nice .283 batting average, with 1473 hits over 5208 at-bats and 1320 games.

Friday, October 22, 2021

MISSING IN ACTION- TEAM VARIATION: 1975 DERON JOHNSON

On the blog today, we have a "missing" 1975 for Deron Johnson, but it is an alternate version, showing him as a Milwaukee Brewer, the second of three teams he'd suit up for in 1974:

 
Since I just cannot find a usable image of Johnson as a Boston Red Sox player, the team he actually finished the season with, I did find this nice image of him with Milwaukee, so here you go.
Johnson had a bad year in 1974, hence Topps leaving him off their 1975 set, as he hit .171 over 110 games and 351 at-bats combined with the three teams.
Opening the season with the Oakland A's, he hit .195 with them over 50 games before moving on to the Brewers.
However the change of scenery did not help as he went on to hit .151 for Milwaukee over 49 games, collecting only 23 hits over 152 at-bats. Ouch!
On September 7th, he was purchased by the Boston Red Sox, where he would go on to appear in only 11 games, again struggling to find his stroke, to the tune of a painful .120 batting average, with three hits over 25 at-bats.
But all was not lost for Deron, as he would bounce back in 1975 as the Chicago White Sox full-time designated hitter, playing in 148 games for them before yet another move BACK to the Red Sox (keeping track here?), where he'd play three games at season's end.
In his 1975 campaign, Johnson had a decent year, hitting a combined .239 with nineteen homers and 75 runs batted in, with 68 runs scored over 151 games and 565 at-bats.
Turns out it was a last hurrah, as 1976 would see him appear in only 15 games for Boston before being released on June 4th, never to play Big League ball again.
All told, Johnson had himself a very nice 16 year Major League career, hitting .244 with 245 homers and 923 RBIs, with 1447 hits in 5941 at-bats over 1765 games between 1960 and 1976.
Now to find me a good image of him with the Red Sox!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

GIMMIE A DO-OVER: 1978 DOC MEDICH

Here's a fun card to throw out there, a re-do for Doc Medich and his 1978 Topps card, showing him with a team he pitched for in 1977 instead of the airbrush classic that we all pulled out of packs in the Spring of 1978:


 
Medich didn't finish the year with the Oakland A's, but since I cannot find a suitable image of him with the New York Mets, the team he DID finish the year with, I used this nice action shot instead.
Medich opened the season with Oakland, pitching well by going 10-6 for them over 26 appearances, all but one of those starts.
He was then sent to the Seattle Mariners where he appeared in only three games before finding himself out East with the Mets, where he appeared in one single game, throwing seven innings, closing out an active if not eventful year.
A solid starter over his 11 year career, he came up with the New York Yankees, winning as many as 19 games in 1974 before getting traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Willie Randolph deal, then the three 1977 clubs mentioned above, then the Texas Rangers where he pitched between 1978 and 1982, finally closing out his career with 10 starts at the end of '82 with the Milwaukee Brewers.
By the time he hung them up, he finished with a record of 124-105 over 312 appearances, with a 3.78 ERA and 16 shutouts in 1996.2 innings, with 955 strikeouts against 624 walks.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1971 WAYNE TWITCHELL

Up on the blog today we have a "not so missing" 1971 card for former pitcher Wayne Twitchell, who made his MLB debut in 1970 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers:

 
The 22-year-old appeared in two games for Milwaukee that year, not factoring in a decision while pitching to a 10.80 earned run average, allowing two runs in 1.2 innings, striking out five which accounted for all the "outs" though giving up three hits while walking one.
Just as the 1971 season was getting underway he was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for Minor Leaguer Pat Skrable, where he would pitch over the next six and a half seasons.
1973 was easily his best Big League season, when he posted a record of 13-9 with a very nice 2.50 ERA over 34 appearances, 28 of them starts, with five shutouts and 169 strikeouts.
Over what turned out to be a ten year career, it was the only time he reached double-digit wins, finishing up with a record of 48-65 between 1970 and 1979.
Over his 282 lifetime appearances, he wound up with a 3.98 ERA, with six shutouts, two saves and 789 strikeouts in 1063 innings.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

DEDICATED MANAGER CARD- 1975 BILLY MARTIN

Time to go and give one of my favorite baseball personalities, Billy Martin, a "dedicated manager card" in my new thread, this one a 1975 edition:


Martin was a winner wherever he managed. Just look it up!
He began his managerial career in 1969 with the Minnesota Twins and took them straight to the Playoffs, guiding the team to a first place finish with a 97-65 record.
He would move on to Detroit, and would take them to a first place finish by his second year in 1972 with a record of 86-70.
He’d move on to the Texas Rangers and they’d have their first successful season in 1974, albeit a second place finish behind league MVP Jeff Burroughs and ace Fergie Jenkins, then of course he would move on to the New York Yankees, where the “Bronx Zoo” was in full swing, eventually bringing Martin a World Championship in 1977.
He’d move on to the Oakland A’s where “Billy-Ball” was in full effect, losing to the Yankees in the Championship Series while burning through every arm on his pitching staff with overuse.
Then finally, there was the back-and-forth period between he and the Yankees, specifically owner George Steinbrenner, where he managed in 1983, 1985 and finally 1988, almost a comedic show of hiring and firing that really was an embarrassment to us Yankee fans of the era.
Nevertheless, Martin was a winner, though one with a temper at that, leaving the game with a .553 winning percentage and over 1200 wins.
Should he be in the Hall of Fame?
I do think so more for his personality than anything else. As a symbol of the wild 1970’s with his managerial style a'la Earl Weaver, arguing and fighting his way through each season.
Rest in Peace Billy, you are missed.

Monday, October 18, 2021

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 JIM MERRITT

Getting a little "cheeky" today with a "not so missing" 1973 card for former 20-game winner Jim Merritt, who found himself struggling in the Big Leagues just two seasons after a banner year in 1970:

 
Merritt, who had a banner year for the National League champ Cincinnati Reds in 1970, struggled with arm issues in 1972, appearing in only four games, going 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA over eight innings.
Found this typical Topps image with the "looking up" angle, perfect for the era, as Merritt was actually in a Texas Rangers uni, the team he'd be suiting up for in 1973.
In 1970 he had arguably his best season in the Majors when he went 20-12 with the Reds, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting while making his only All-Star team.
I say “arguably” because that year his earned run average was a high 4.08, while in 1967 with the Twins he went 13-7 with a wonderful 2.53 ERA over 37 appearances, 25 of those starts, tossing a career-high four shutouts with 161 strikeouts.
Overall, he’d finish his career with a record of 81-86, posting an ERA of 3.65 over 297 appearances and 1483 innings of work, throwing nine shutouts while collecting seven saves along the way.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

EXPANDED LEAGUE LEADERS- 1974 N.L. RUNS BATTED IN

On the blog today, we move ahead in my long-running "expanded league leaders" thread where we celebrate the top 3 men in a particular statistic in years where Topps just had the first place finisher of both leagues on one card.

Today we look at the top 3 N.L. RBI men of 1973 on this 1974 card:
 
 
Starting off, we have the great Willie Stargell, who paced the National League with his 119 run batted in during the 1973 season, the only time he led the league in RBIs over his career.
He also led the league with 43 doubles and 44 homers, as well as slugging percentage, good for a second place finish in the MVP race and a sixth All-Star nod.
In second place with 105 RBIs was the "Big Bopper", Lee May of the Houston Astros, who had what was a typical year for himself with 28 home runs and a .270 batting average in his second season in Houston after coming over from the Cincinnati Reds in the blockbuster Joe Morgan deal.
May was really a forgotten stud from the era, and it is a shame considering his consistency with 20+ homers and 90+ RBIs over a decade.
Tied at third place with 104 RBIs are Johnny Bench and Darrell Evans, who both had great years in 1973.
For Bench, it was "business as usual", as he'd reach 100 RBIs for the third time in four seasons, and something he would do six times in his career.
The man was in his prime and would go on to be considered the greatest catcher the game has ever seen, and justifiably so.
For Evans, 1973 was a breakout year for him, hitting 41 homers and reaching the 100 RBI mark for what turned out to be the only time in his career.
Though he'd never reach 100 RBIs again, he would certainly put in a Hall of Fame worthy career, finishing up with 414 home runs, 2223 hits, 1354 RBIs and 1344 runs scored, as well as a .361 OBP in 21 seasons.
There you have it! The top 3 RBI men in the National League for 1973 on a 1974 "expanded league leader card".
Onto the American League!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

1972 ALL-STAR SUB-SET: WILLIE McCOVEY

On the blog today, we move on to the National League's starting first baseman in the classic 1971 All-Star game, "Stretch" Willie McCovey:

 
Celebrating what is now considered one of the historic moments in the game's evolution, the 1971 Midsummer Classic was a turning point where the "old" eased into the "new". A passing of the torch in a sense of the country's cultural change, with old stars such as Aaron, Mays, et. al. handing it all over to the "new", like Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue and Johnny Bench.
As for McCovey, he was one of the "tweens" in this scenario, as he was already a 12 year veteran of the game, but somehow was a new breed of player that brought a refreshing change to the Major League landscape.
McCovey was three years removed from his MVP season of 1969 when this card would have been out, but still a feared hitter terrorizing N.L. pitching.
It was his fourth straight All-Star game, and and sixth overall, and he'd even get some MVP support at season's end, with a 15th place finish in the voting.
By the time he retired in 1980, he crushed 521 home runs, collected over 2000 hits, drove in over 1500, and left his mark as one of the most feared sluggers of his generation.
In 1986, his first year of eligibility, he was voted into the Hall of Fame with 81.4% of the ballots cast.
Man, what a threesome McCovey, Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda made back in the 1960's for San Francisco, huh?
Just incredible.

Friday, October 15, 2021

DEDICATED MANAGER CARD- 1976 GENE MAUCH

On the blog today, another "dedicated manager card", this one a 1976 edition for long-time skipper Gene Mauch, who put in 26 years at the head of a Major League ball club between 1960 and 1987:

 
At the time this card would have seen the light of day Mauch was about to begin his helm of the Minnesota Twins, with the likes of Rod Carew, Lyman Bostock, Bert Blyleven and Tony Oliva.
Now Topps got ahead of the game having Mauch as manager on the Twins team card in their 1976 set, since he was hired over the off-season after a seven year run leading the Montreal Expos, their first manager in franchise history beginning in 1969.
Mauch would go on to lead the Twins from 1976 through 1980, finishing either third or fourth in each season with 1976 having a high of 85 wins.
He would then go on to manage the California Angels from 1982 through 1987, with a break in 1983 and 1984.
He was the manager of the Angels for their division leading 1982 and 1986 seasons, when they won 93 and 92 games respectively, only to lose in the Championship Series both times.
Overall, Mauch would finish his managerial career with a record of 1902 and 2037, never making it to a World Series, but certainly earning the respect of the baseball world as a solid manager.

 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1972 BOB KAISER

On the blog today we have a fun card to add to the "WTHBALLS" stable, a "not so missing" 1972 card for one-year Big League pitcher Bob Kaiser, he of five games in 1971 for the Cleveland Indians:

 
Kaiser threw five innings in his only taste of the Majors as a 21-year-old, not factoring in a decision while striking out four, walking three, and allowing three runs for a 4.50 earned run average.
He would put in another four seasons in Minor League ball, the last of which was in the Detroit system in 1979 with a gap from 1974 till then, but never get another shot in the Big Leagues again, finishing up with just those five games in 1971.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1979 MIKE GORDON

On the blog today, we have a "not so missing" 1979 card for former Chicago Cubs catcher Mike Gordon, who put in parts of two seasons in the Big Leagues in 1977 and 1978:

 
Gordon, who got a 1978 "not really missing" card created for the blog a couple of years ago marking his MLB debut of 1977, gets this one today based on his four games for the Cubs in 1978.
He'd go 1-for-5 at the plate in that time, hitting an even .200 while walking three times, also putting in time behind the plate.
Gordon appeared in the first eight games of his brief MLB career during the 1977 season, collecting one hit over 23 official at-bats.
He’d go on to spend all of 1979 in the Cubs’ Minor League system before retiring for good, having spent his entire eight-year professional career in the Chicago (NL) organization.
All told, he finished his MLB career with a .071 average, with two hits in 28 at-bats with a couple of runs batted in.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

TRADED: 1978 BOBBY BONDS (PART 2)

Years ago on the blog I created a 1978 "traded" card for Bobby Bonds, showing him as a member of the Chicago White Sox after coming over from the California Angels.

Today, I thought it'd be fun to create yet another 1978 traded card, this one for his move to the Texas Rangers later in the year:

 
On May 16th of 1978 Bonds was traded from the White Sox to the Rangers for Rusty Torres and Claudell Washington, going on to play in 130 games in Texas after opening up the season with 26 in the South Side of Chicago.
Over those 130 games Bonds did very well, hitting 29 homers while stealing 37 bases with a .265 batting average, combining for yet another 30/30 season when he hit 31 homers and stole 43 bases.
Along with the homers and steals he scored 93 runs and drove in 90 collecting 151 hits over 565 at-bats in 156 total games.
Really is something how Bonds career went, especially the second half, when he played for seven teams in seven years.
Here's a guy that could slam homers, steal bases, and hit for a respectable average, yet couldn't find a home anywhere even though he was putting in all-star type seasons.
I have to admit I've never read any substantial stories as to the type of person he was, and if THAT was the main reason for his traveling act during his Major League career, but nevertheless the man seemed to be a guy you'd want in your line-up, no?
A five time 30/30 guy with two other "near-misses", he also fell one home run short in 1973 from becoming the first ever 40/40 guy, when he slammed 39 homers along with 43 stolen bases for the San Francisco Giants.
By the time his 14-year career was done, he totaled 332 home runs and 461 steals, along with three Gold Gloves and three all-star selections.
Even though he did put in a solid career, you have to wonder "what could have been" if he found a real home and was able to put in a career that was a bit longer.

Monday, October 11, 2021

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1970 DENNY O'TOOLE

On the blog today, we have a "not so missing" 1970 card for a guy who will have a few created for the blog over the years, former Chicago White Sox pitcher Denny O'Toole:

 
O'Toole made his Big League debut with two appearances during the 1969 season, not factoring in a decision and throwing four innings, striking out four and walking two while giving up three runs for a 6.75 ERA.
O'Toole played the last of his 15 Major League games in 1973, appearing in six games and pitching 16 innings.
As per what turned out to be the usual in his career, he didn't pick up a win or a loss, pitching to a 5.63 earned run average with eight strikeouts and three walks.
O'Toole would go on to appear in the aforementioned 15 total games over his career, appearing in at least one game for Chicago between 1969 and 1973.
Over those games he finished with a career ERA of 5.04, with 30.1 innings pitched, striking out 22 and walking 10, all out of the bullpen, without ever picking up a win or  a loss.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

EXPANDED LEAGUE LEADERS- 1974 A.L. HOME RUNS

Next up in my on-going thread of "expanded league leaders_ is my 1974 American League Home Run card, celebrating the top three home run hitters in the Junior Circuit for 1973:

 
Of course we begin with the A.L. MVP for that year, Reggie Jackson, who took home the first of his four career home run titles with his 32 blasts for the eventual World Series champion Oakland A's.
He would also lead the league with 117 RBIs, 99 runs scored and .531 slugging percentage, while making his fourth All-Star team in five years.
Right behind him with 30 home runs would be former overall #1 draft pick Jeff Burroughs, who had a very nice breakout year as a 22-year-old for the Texas Rangers.
It was his first full season in the Big Leagues after parts of three seasons for the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers between 1970 and 1972.
In addition to his 30 "jacks", Burroughs drove in 85 runs and hit .279, somewhat of a precursor to his MVP 1974 season.
Tied with Burroughs for second place in homers for 1973, none other than the great (and grossly underrated) all-timer Frank Robinson, who made the most of the new opportunity as a Designated Hitter for the California Angels, reaching 30+ homers for the first time since 1969 while driving in 97 and scoring 85.
It would be Robinson's final standout season before transitioning to MLB manager with the Cleveland Indians two seasons later.
The top three home run hitters in the American League in 1973, rightfully celebrated here on this expanded leader card.
Such a fun thread to work on!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

1972 ALL-STAR SUB-SET: JOHNNY BENCH

Today we start a fun new thread, celebrating one of the greatest All-Star games, the 1971 Midsummer Classic, with a special 1972 All-Star subset, beginning with the National League catcher, Johnny Bench of course:

 
It's a shame Topps didn't include All-Star cards in their classic 1972 set, whether it be on-base All-Star banner or a separate sub-set (I prefer on-base-card), being that the 1971 All-Star game is still arguably the greatest ever played.
With the combination of aging all-time greats like Mays, Aaron, Clemente and up-and-comers like Bench, Jackson, Blue, combined with the era of American society transitioning to a more "modern" era, it was incredibly significant in more ways than just "sports".
So we begin with Bench, who by then was already entrenched as the premier catcher in baseball, and an All-Star constant through the rest of the decade.
I'll be creating and posting the starters of that game over the next few months, starting with the National League, before perhaps creating cards for the non-starters, who happen to be some big-time names.
I also plan on having this as a special printed set in the future, some time in 2022!
Enjoy!


Friday, October 8, 2021

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1975 ORLANDO ALVAREZ

On the blog today, a "not so missing" 1975 card for Orlando Alvarez, who played parts of four seasons, including two games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1974:

 
Alvarez went 0-1 at the plate in his one plate appearance, while putting in some time in Left Field for the eventual National League champ Dodgers.
He made his MLB debut in 1973 with four games, going 1-for-4 at the plate, that first Big League hit a double.
He would go on to play in another four games in 1975 before finding himself as a California Angel in 1976, where he'd get into 15 games, collecting seven hits over 42 at-bats, including the only two home runs of his career, as well as runs batted in, eight.
He would spend 1977 and 1978 bouncing around the Minors for four different organizations before calling at a career, finishing up with a Big League resume that included 25 games, with eight hits over 51 at-bats, good for a .157 batting average, with four runs scored and eight RBI's.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

TRADED- 1978 BILL NORTH

On the blog today, a 1978 traded card for former speedster Bill North, who found himself heading South to the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Oakland A's about a month after the 1978 season started:

 
North was traded straight up for Glenn Burke after 5+ seasons with the A's, a tenure that saw him lead the league in stolen bases twice (1974 & 1976), with a high of 75 in 1976.
He would have led the American League in 1973 as well if not for a sprained ankle on September 20th, leaving him one stolen base behind Tommy Harper.
Luckily for him, he was traded from an Oakland team that was free-falling to a team heading to the World Series, where Los Angeles would face the New York Yankees.
Over his 110 games for the Dodgers, North would hit .234 while stealing 27 bases, scoring 54 runs and drawing 65 walks.
At season's end he was declared a Free Agent, and with that he took his legs over to the San Francisco Giants, where he would play what turned out to be the last three years of his career between 1979 and 1981.
All told, North finished his career with a .261 batting average over 11 seasons, stealing 395 bases and scoring 640 runs, winning two titles with the A's in 1973 and 1974, and that N.L. pennant with the Dodgers in 1978.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

NEW CUSTOM SET: 1978 "30 HOME RUN CLUB"

 

Hello Everyone! 

Hope you're all fine and well!

It is that time again! A new set of cards to send out into the world.
Today I offer up my 1978 "30 Home Run Club" special pack!
The pack contains 21 cards total: 19 player cards with bio/stat backs (all 19 players who hit 30+ homers in 1977), as well as a checklist card, AND a very special "WTHBALLS" membership card featuring the great Reggie Jackson.
Also thrown into this pack is a new "WTHBALLS" die cut sticker in the 1978 font that graced this glorious Topps set way back when.
As a little extra kick to this release, I printed 6 different wax wrappers, with the top 3 home run hitters in each league gracing the front: George Foster, Jeff Burroughs, Greg Luzinski, Jim Rice, Bobby Bonds and Graig Nettles.
For those that are ordering, please state which pack you prefer and I will certainly try to get it to you! However please understand I only printed about 15 of each wrapper so they are limited!
This pack will be $13 each, with a one time $4.75 postage fee.
PLEASE NOTE THE SLIGHTLY INCREASED POSTAGE!
Sorry, but the USPS has jacked up their price again, so sadly the postage here goes up about a quarter.
So for one pack: $17.75,
two packs: $30.75,
three packs: $43.75
and so on...
To order, please use the usual Paypal: slogun23@gmail.com
I will be shipping out this weekend, as work has me tied up all week this week.
Thank you all very much!
As an aside, I do want to point out something. As some of you know, I usually purposely make a small little "mistake" on in every one of my packs (two #19's in Series 1, no auto on the clemente insert in Series 6, the Johnny Bench insert in Series two states "series one" on the back).
But the inevitable happened with this "30 Home Run" set: I actually made a mistake!!! I only noticed it as I was wrapping the packs this weekend and all I can say is, DAMN! Let's see who spots it first!
Happy hunting!
 
 



 

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1975 CHUCK SEELBACH

Up on the blog today, a " not so missing" 1975 card for former Detroit Tigers pitcher Chuck Seelbach, who turns out played the last of his Big League games during the 1974 season:

 
Seelbach, who originally came up to the Majors in 1971 with Detroit, appeared in four games for the Tigers in 1974, not factoring in a decision while posting an ERA of 4.70 over 7.2 innings.
Over his four Major League seasons, the only significant time he had was in 1972 when he appeared in 61 games, starting three, saving 14 games while posting a very nice 2.89 ERA in 112 innings.
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, October 5, 2021

REVISITING AN OLD BLOG POST- DECEMBER 30TH, 2013

Thought it'd be fun to revisit an old post from the blog from about eight years ago, dealing with my imagined 1975 "Cy Young" sub-set mimicking the MVP sub-set, then going one further by citing an old SABR article from a 1993 journal guessing at who would have won the award before it's inception in 1956.

In this case we're looking at 1951, and my card creations for both men since they didn't have cards in the actual 1951 Topps set.
Here's the original write up:

"Back in the early 1990's I picked up the latest SABR Journal and it had a great article that wondered who would have won the Cy Young Award, had there been one, between 1901 and 1955, and who would have also won the award had they given it out in both leagues between 1956 and 1966.
I LOVE stuff like that, as I was also always imagining what the outcome would have been if "this or that" had come to pass.
Well, I recently got the idea to create a "Cy Young Award Winners" series based on the awesome 1975 "Most Valuable Players" sub-set, highlighting who the winners were, or WOULD have been, between 1951 and 1974.
For the "winning" pitchers prior to 1956, as well as the OTHER league winner for those "single-winner" years (56-66), I went with who the SABR people felt would have won as covered in that previously mentioned article.
Heck, if it was good enough for SABR, it's always good enough for me!
Now I'm sure there will be a pick or two that you don't agree with (there were some I wasn't totally convinced of myself). But it IS fun to start the discussion with the SABR picks!
Today we'll start with 1951, as I created a card that showcases who SABR assumed would have won the award: Sal Maglie in the National league and Ed Lopat in the American League.
Take a look at my card design:


Both Maglie and Lopat didn't have a Topps card that year, so I created one for each player (as Topps did for Roy Campanella and Maury Wills for their M.V.P. set). So in essence, I have imagined cards for an imagined card.
Here's a closer look at the "created" cards for this post:




Maglie had a brilliant 1951 campaign, as he lead the Giants in that dramatic pennant winning season with a 23-6 record along with a 2.93 E.R.A.
He pitched in 42 games, of which 37 were starts, and he not only threw three shutouts that year, but threw in four saves as well. Not bad for a guy pitching in only his second full season in the big leagues, at the ripe "old" age of 34!
As it was, Maglie finished fourth in Most Valuable Player voting that year. But it seems he would have been a good pick to win a Cy Young Award in the National league if there was one that year.
For the American league, SABR felt that Ed Lopat of the Yankees would have own the award, based on his 21-9 record and 2.91 E.R.A.
Lopat appeared in 31 games that championship-winning season in the Bronx, and pitched four shutouts with 20 complete games.
There were some other big game winners that year for the A.L. (Bob Feller, Ned Garver, Vic Raschi), but oddly enough they all had high earned run averages that off-set their other accomplishments, and I think that's why SABR went with Lopat.
I think I personally would have gone for Bob Feller instead, or maybe Raschi, but hey, like I said earlier, if SABR makes a pick I can easily go with it too and sleep well at night."

Monday, October 4, 2021

NOT REALLY MISSING IN ACTION- 1973 GENE HISER

On the blog today, the third "not so missing" card created for former Chicago Cubs outfielder Gene Hiser here on the blog, this one a 1973 edition:

 
Hiser appeared in 32 games with Chicago during the 1972 season, hitting .196 with nine hits over 46 at-bats, scoring two and driving in four.
Originally up to the Majors in 1971 as a 22-year-old, he spent his whole Big League career with the Cubs between 1971 and 1975, hitting .202 with 53 hits in 263 at-bats over 206 games.
The most action he'd ever see in one season was 1973 when he played in 100 games, hitting .254 with 19 hits in 109 at-bats, hitting his only MLB homer while driving in six.
He would spend all of 1976 in the Cubs Minor League system, but would call it a career shortly after.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

EXPANDED YEARLY LEADER CARDS: 1974 N.L. HOME RUNS

On the blog to close out another week, we have an expanded league-leader card in the 1974 set celebrating the top-3 home run hitters in the National League for 1973:

 
The top dog in this home run race, Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame slugger Willie Stargell, who led the league for the second time in three seasons when he hit 44 dingers to go along with his league-leading 119 run batted in.
It was also the second time in three seasons the man finished runner-up to the MVP Award, with a THIRD place finish in between for 1972.
It was just an amazing run of success that I really feel people have forgotten over time, as is the case with Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs.
Not only was Stargell a slugging machine, but in each of those three seasons between 1971 and 1973, he never hit lower than .293, while also leading the league with 43 doubles in 1973.
Right behind him with 43 home runs we have perhaps the biggest anomaly in baseball history, Davey Johnson of the Atlanta Braves, who went from a career-best of 18 home runs in 1971 to this ridiculous total just two years later.
Johnson's 1973 season is incredible. Over his 13 year career he never hit more than those 18 homers while with the Baltimore Orioles, of course except for those 43 in 1973 in his first season with Atlanta.
Thing is, the following year he was right back to where he was before, hitting 15 and never reaching double-digits again in his Big League tenure.
Even when he went over to Japan in 1975 and 1976, the most he hit was 26, with 13 the other season.
Just what on earth was it that year?
The Braves definitely had a groove going on that year, as they became the first team in MLB history to have THREE hitters reach 40 homers, with the great Hank Aaron and Darrell Evans teaming up with Johnson to give them a trio never before seen in the game.
Which of course brings us to the third place home run hitter in the N.L., Johnson's teammate Darrell Evans, who legitimately was a slugger in the Majors, and had his "coming out party" of sorts that year with his 41 blasts.
For Evans, the writing was on the wall for what was to come over his brilliant 21 year Big League career.
In just his second full year of Major League ball, Evans produced, hitting 41 homers while driving in was ended up being a career-best 104 runs while leading the league with 124 base on balls, also hitting a career-high .281 over 161 games.
Of course, we all know that incredibly enough 12 years later, at the age of 28, he would become the first batter to hit 40 or more homers in a season in both leagues, when he led the A.L. in 1985 with 40 homers, on his way to a career 414 before retiring after the 1989 campaign.
There it is! The Senior Curcuit's top-3 sluggers for 1973.
Now we move on to the A.L., see you then!


Saturday, October 2, 2021

DEDICATED MANAGER CARD- 1977 SPARKY ANDERSON

Thought I'd start creating some "dedicated" manager cards through the decade for the years Topps didn't create any, since so many of these guys were iconic figures in the game during some great years.

Today we'll begin with Sparky Anderson and a 1977 edition, since he was on top of the baseball world when this card would have seen the light of day:

 
Anderson, who was disturbingly ONLY 42 years of age when this photo was taken, was coming off his second straight World Series championship in 1977, and at that point it really looked like we were about to witness one of the all-time great dynasties.
In 1975 the Reds were arguably one of the best teams in baseball history, steamrolling to 108 victories before eventually beating the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.
In 1976, more of the same as the team would win 102 games before sweeping the New York Yankees in the World Series.
Throw in the fact that they were also in the World Series in both 1970 and 1972, and it really looked like the team, stacked with guys like Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and George Foster, would be keeping our attention for quite some time.
But alas, according to Sparky, it was the trading of one of their OTHER stars, Tony Perez, that took the heart and soul out of the team, and shockingly the "Big Red Machine" would not bring home another championship, and the franchise would have to wait until 1990 before experiencing it again.
For Anderson however, the man would go down as one of the greatest managers in Major League history, moving on to the Detroit Tigers in 1979, where he would go on to manage 17 years, giving him a combined 26 years of Big League managing, even taking home another title with that great 1984 Tiger team that was in first "wire-to-wire", winning 104 games before beating the San Diego Padres in the World Series.
All told the man won 2194 games as a manager, finishing with a .545 winning percentage, three titles, 5 pennants, and of course a Hall of Fame induction in 2000.
Legend, and perpetually looking like an "old man" even when he was in his 30's!


Friday, October 1, 2021

NICKNAMES OF THE 1970'S: 1970 "FROGGY" BILL HANDS

Adding to my long-running "nicknames of the 1970's" thread today, and this time it's former Chicago Cubs pitcher Bill Hands, aka "Froggy", on a 1970 template to celebrate his excellent 1969 season:

 
The high point of his career was easily 1969 while pitching for the Chicago Cubs.
That season he teamed up with Fergie Jenkins, forming a 20-game winning one-two punch, going 20-14 with a nice 2.49 E.R.A. while starting 41 games, good for 300 innings on the nose.
All told, he retired with a 111-110 record and 3.35 E.R.A in 374 career games between 1965 and 1975, pitching for the Giants, Cubs, Twins and Rangers.

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