Friday, December 31, 2021


Next up in the "missing" 1972 All-Star sub-set parade is Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio, the starter for the American League in the 1971 Midsummer Classic:

It was the ninth All-Star nod for "Little Louie", who was in the middle of his first season in Boston after coming over from the Chicago White Sox.
Nowadays, we have a guy like Jose Altuve leading the way for players that are not built like mountains, and Aparicio fit that bill between 1956, when he took home the American League Rookie of the Year Award, through the 1973 season, when he retired with over 2600 hits, 1300 runs and more than 500 career stolen bases.
From 1956 through 1964 he led his league in steals every single time, that’s nine straight years, with a high of 57 in 1964 playing for the Baltimore Orioles.
He was both a member of the “Go-Go” Chicago White Sox in 1959, helping them reach the World Series, as well as the surprising 1966 World Champion Orioles, who shocked the world by sweeping the reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
The ten-time All-Star also took home nine Gold Glove Awards, teaming up with Nellie Fox to form one of the greatest double-play combos of all time.
He led the AL in fielding percentage eight straight years, between 1959 and 1966, while also leading in assists seven times, putouts four times and double-plays twice.
In 1984 he was selected for Cooperstown by the BBWAA, joining former teammates like Frank & Brooks Robinson & Early Wynn, with others like Nellie Fox and Jim Palmer joining him later on.

Thursday, December 30, 2021


Today on the blog I thought it'd be fun to take a look at the original airbrushed image used for Bob Barton and his 1973 card:

After putting in parts of three seasons with the San Diego Padres, Barton was traded over to the Cincinnati Reds for Pat Corrales in June of 1972, spending the rest of the year in the Minors.
Barton played in only three games for the NL West champs in 1973 where he went hitless in his sole at-bat, with a walk thrown in, while backing up Johnny Bench in two of those games.
In 1974 he’d find himself back with the Padres, where he’d play in 30 games during the 1974 season, batting .235 with 19 hits over 81 at-bats, which would end up being the final action he’d see in the Majors, closing out a 10-year career which started out with the San Francisco Giants back in 1965.
Overall, he’d finish his career with a .226 average, playing in 393 games and collecting 237 hits in 1049 at-bats, with 66 runs batted in and 54 runs scored.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021


Fun card to add to the blog today!

Today we have a "not so missing" 1972 card for one-game Major League catcher Frank Estrada, who appeared in his one game with the New York Mets in September of 1971:

Estrada went 1-for-2 at the plate, finally reaching the Major leagues after starting his professional career in 1964 as a 16-year-old in the Mexican League.
Aside from his brief MLB tenure, the man's entire professional career is amazing, as he was in pro ball as an active player from 1964 to 1994, mainly in the Mexican League.
By the time he hung up his cleats, he was 46 years of age, and though his statistics are far from complete, he is credited with over 2000 games played.
Estrada holds the Minor League record with 2847 games caught, and was also a successful manager in the Mexican League, winning three league championships, eventually getting elected to the Mexican baseball Hall of Fame.
He was also selected for enshrinement to the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame for his "notable contribution as player and manager".
Quite the professional baseball career that carried through to his passing in 2019, when he was manager of the Chihuahua Dorados, some 55 years after his pro debut.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021


For the fun of it today on the blog, we'll go and give former pitcher Chuck Taylor a "do-over" on his 1974 Topps card:

For those that don't remember the original, here you go:

Taylor actually spent all of the 1973 season with Montreal, but Topps being Topps at that time, it seems they didn't have an image of him in the correct uni for his card, so they airbrushed him into an Expos cap while touching up his collar.
Taylor came over to Montreal after a split season in 1972 when he suited up for both the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers.
In his first year with the Expos, he appeared in eight games, going 2-0 with a very nice 1.77 earned run average over 20.1 innings of work out of the bullpen.
He had a decent run as a reliever the last three years of his career after coming up with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969 as a starter.
After spending three seasons in St. Louis, he split that year between New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers in 1972 before moving North of the border, pitching the last four years for the Expos.
He would end up at 28-20 with an impressive 3.07 ERA over 607 innings and 305 appearances, all but 21 in relief.

Monday, December 27, 2021


Up on the blog today, we have a 1973 "not so missing" card for former Detroit Tigers infielder John Knox, who made his Big League debut in 1972:

Knox appeared in 12 games for the Tigers that year, hitting .077 with one hit over 13 at-bats, the hit a double, with a run scored.
He'd appear in 12 games the following season, hitting .281 with nine hits over 32 at-bats, driving in three while scoring one run.
The 1974 and 1975 seasons were pretty much mirror images of themselves, as he'd appear in 55 and 43 games respectively, hitting .307 and .267, with 27 and 23 hits in that time.
Sadly for him he'd spend all of 1976 in the Minors and just like that he was done at the age of only 27.
All told he had a decent brief Major League career, hitting .274 over 124 games, with 60 hits in 219 at-bats, scoring 21 while driving in 11.

Sunday, December 26, 2021


Up next in my new, albeit planned lengthy 1970 "In-Game Action" sub-set is the great Carl Yastrzemski, Boston icon and Hall of Famer:

The man was at his height at the time this card would have seen the light of day, already a three-time batting champion, Triple Crown winner in 1967, and five-time Gold Glove winner.
As someone who grew up in New York City during the second half of his career, it's really easy to forget that Yastrzemski was a Long Island, New York boy before he went on to become a New England legend.
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…


Saturday, December 25, 2021



I hope you are all safe and well on this festive morning.

The next 1971 starting All-Star to celebrate in my on-going 1972 thread is the American League's second baseman, Rod Carew, who made his fifth straight such game in five Major League seasons to start his Hall of Fame career:

In addition to the five straight All-Star game nods to start his magnificent career, Carew took home the A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1967 while also winning the 1969 batting title, the first of what would end up being seven titles, including four in a row between 1972 and 1975.
What else really needs to be said about the greatest hitter of his generation?
The man topped .300 15 years in a row, with a high of .388 in 1977 on his way to a Most Valuable Player Award and capturing the public’s attention with his .400 chase late in the season.
A clear-cut Hall of Fame player, he was inducted on his first year of eligibility in 1991 when he garnered 90.5% of the vote, which leaves me with the question: who the hell are the 9.5% who DIDN’T vote for him!!!???
3053 hits, a .328 career average, 353 stolen bases and 15 straight seasons of .300+ batting.Just incredible.

Friday, December 24, 2021


OK, so I normally don't do this, but my friend Mike really begged for me to create a 1978 manager card for Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner, the eccentric businessman who also too a turn leading the Braves before the league stepped in and told him to "stick to his day job":

From the Wikipedia page for the man:

"On May 11, 1977, with the team mired in a 16-game losing streak, Turner sent manager Dave Bristol on a 10-day "scouting trip" and Turner himself took over as interim manager—the first owner/manager in the majors since Connie Mack. He ran the team for one game (a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates)[53] before National League president Chub Feeney ordered him to stop running the team. Feeney cited major league rules which bar managers and players from owning stock in their clubs. Turner appealed to Commissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn, and showed up to manage the Braves when they returned home. However, Kuhn turned down the appeal, citing Turner's "lack of familiarity with game operations."[54]"

To be honest, and this may be an unpopular opinion, the game seemed much more fun when we had guys like Turner, George Stenbrenner, Charlie Finley et. al. running their clubs almost with reckless abandon.
Anyway, thought it was a fun idea and whipped this up to add to the WTHBALLS stable!
Thanks Mike for the suggestion!

Thursday, December 23, 2021


Up on the blog today, we have a "not so missing" 1979 card for three year Major League outfielder Jim Lentine, who made his Big League debut with eight games for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1978 season:

Lentine was 23-years-old when he broke into the Majors, going 2-for-11 at the plate for a batting average of .182, with a run scored and an RBI.
He'd be back in 1979, albeit for only 11 games, hitting a blistering .391 with nine hits in 23 at-bats, collecting his first extra-base-hit with a double.
In 1980, he'd start the year with St. Louis, appearing in nine games and hitting .100 before he was shipped off to the Detroit Tigers in a trade for Al Greene and John Martin.
Over the rest of the season he played in 67 games for the Tigers, hitting a respectable .261 with 42 hits in 161 at-bats, scoring 19 runs while driving in 17.
Sadly for him however, he was released by Detroit and spent all of 1981 in the Cleveland Indians organization, playing for Charleston of the International League, before retiring after a year playing in the Mexican League in 1982.
All told, he finished his brief Big League career with 95 games played, hitting .263 with 54 hits in 205 at-bats, scoring 23 runs and driving in 20.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021


Thought it was time to finally "re-do" the 1973 Mike Marshall card, which originally had an airbrushed classic showing the Cy Young reliever in a Detroit Tigers uni before the fine folks at Topps airbrushed him into Montreal Expos garb:

For those that need a refresher on the original, here you go:

Found a nice action shot of Marshall that fits nicely into the action photographs Topps used for their 1973 set.
1971 was really the beginning of his incredible run as a reliever over the next few years, culminating with a Cy Young Award in 1974 with the Dodgers when he appeared in a (still) Major League record 106 games, all in relief.
In those 106 games he went 15-12 with a 2.42 earned run average, 21 saves and 143 strikeouts in 208.1 innings of work!
Later in the decade he had a couple more great years with the Twins in 1978 and 1979, before eventually retiring in 1981 after a 14-year career.
Thanks to Marshall’s medical background, having multiple degrees in medicine, he’s also remembered for allegedly being the person suggesting to teammate Tommy John to undergo this radically new surgery when Tommy John’s career was seemingly over.
Of course, John did so and eventually the surgery would end up being so associated with him that it took on his name, “Tommy John Surgery”.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


On the blog today, a career-capping 1972 card for former first baseman Ken Harrelson, aka "Hawk", who finished up a nine-year Major League career with 52 games as a Cleveland Indian in 1971:

Harrelson appeared in 52 games during the 1971 season, hitting .199 with 32 hits over 161 at-bats, certainly a sad drop from his peak 1968 and 1969 seasons.
Over those two campaigns Harrelson hit 35 and 30 home runs respectively, leading the American League in 1968 with 109 runs batted in, earning him a third place finish in the MVP race by season's end.
However he would only play 17 and 52 games respectively over the 1970 and 1971 seasons because of a broken leg sustained during Spring Training in March of 1970, retiring for good at the age of only 29.
He finished his nine-year MLB career with 131 homers, 421 RBIs and 374 runs scored over 900 games and only 2941 at-bats.
Of course, Harrelson is truly remembered by all fans as a broadcaster, something he has done for over 40 years with a General Manager break in the mid-80’s with the Chicago White Sox.
A true baseball character, the out-spoken Harrelson has had quite the interesting career in baseball, as a player and broadcaster, leading to some funny and sometimes controversial moments.
Worth a quick read-up if you have a minute and are not familiar.

Monday, December 20, 2021


On the blog today, we have a 1978 "not so missing" card for former infielder Mike Edwards, who began his four year Major League career with seven games as a Pittsburgh Pirate in 1977:

Edwards went 0-6 at the plate with a run scored as a September call up, getting some action out at second base as well.
The following year he found himself in Oakland, as a player to be named later in a trade that involved Manny Sanguillen and Miguel Dilone.
He got full-time work with the A's in 1978 and 1979, appearing in 142 and 122 respectively, hitting .273 and .233.
His 1978 season was easily his best, as he also stole 27 bases while collecting 113 hits with 48 runs scored.
In 1980 he only appeared in 46 games, hitting .237 with 14 hits, 10 runs scored and three RBIs in what turned out to be the last Big League action he'd see over his brief career.
Between 1982 and 1984 he would take his talents to the Mexican and Japanese Leagues, and would have a MONSTER last professional season in 1984 when he hit an astounding .442 for Monterrey, collecting 153 hits in 346 at-bats.
Oddly however, that would be it, and his pro career was done at the age of 31 even with that incredible last year in Monterrey.
All told, he finished his MLB career with a .250 batting average, with 220 hits and 94 runs scored over 317 games and 879 at-bats between 1977 and 1980.

Sunday, December 19, 2021


Very happy to introduce what will be a great new thread, "1970 In-Game Action", a sub-set of action cards for the otherwise drab 1970 set had Topps jumped the gun a year earlier, using action photos like they did in 1971. 

We begin with the great Willie Mays. using an image of him up at bat, showing the swing that got him to the Hall of Fame as one of the all-time greatest to ever pick up a bat:

This is a set I have created to actually print up in two series, and should see the light of day early in 2022.
There will be 50 cards total, showing the game's best players of the era, and will come in a printed box ala those Topps $0.25 33-card boxes that were used at the time.
As for Mays, really at this point what else needs to be said about arguably the best all-around player in baseball history. 3000+ hits, 660 homers, 1900+ R.B.I.'s., 1951 Rookie of the Year and N.L. M.V.P. in 1954 and 1965. But he was much more than just stats. He was the "Say Hey Kid".
By the time the 1970's hit, he was a walking legend of the sport, and being enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979 was the cherry on top of it all.
Hope you will enjoy this thread as much as I had creating it!

Saturday, December 18, 2021


On the blog today to close out another week, my 1974 expanded league leader card for the American League's top three winners of 1973:

Leading the pack is Chicago White Sox knuckleball wizard Wilbur Wood, who had an insane run in the mid-70's.
For the 1973 season Wood led the league for the second year in a row with 24 wins, while he also led with his 48 STARTS and 359.1 innings pitched.
Yep, you read that right! The man tossed what would today be almost TWO seasons' worth of innings for today's starters in one season.
And to top it off that wasn't even close to his 1972 innings total, when he pitched an astounding 376.2 innings over 49 starts, throwing eight shutouts while going 24-17.
A converted reliever, I always thought his 1968 season for Chicago was one of the all-time great reliever seasons when he went 13-12 over 88 appearances, with a sparkling 1.87 ERA and 16 saves over 159 innings of work.
Just amazing!
Right behind Wood with 23 wins in 1973 was Detroit Tigers pitcher Joe Coleman, who set a career-high after winning 19 and 20 wins the previous two years.
Coleman, another workhorse, started 40 games for the Tigers, completing 13 and throwing two shutouts on his way to a 3.53 ERA over 288.1 innings, striking out 202 batters, the third straight year he topped 200 K's.
In 1974 he'd go 14-12 over 41 starts, throwing 285.2 innings with a 4.32 ERA, but it seems the heavy workload took its toll, as he would fall big-time in 1975, going 10-18 with a bloated 5.55 ERA over 31 starts before becoming an arm out of the bullpen for the remaining four years of his 15-year career.
In third place with 22 wins, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who topped 20+ wins eight years during the 1970's. Just amazing.
It was the fourth straight year Palmer reached 20 wins, going 22-9 with a league-leading 2.40 ERA over 38 appearances, all but one starts, with six shutouts and 158 strikeouts.
Those numbers got Palmer his first Cy Young Award, and a second place finish in the MVP race.
Of course we all know he'd go on to win two more Cy's, while finishing second twice more along with a third place finish thrown in.
One of the All-Time greats!
Well there you have it, the top winners in the Junior Circuit for 1973, celebrated here.

Friday, December 17, 2021


On the blog today, we move on to the starting first baseman for the American League in the now classic 1971 All-Star game, fan favorite Boog Powell:

Powell made his fourth straight All-Star team in 1971, helping the Baltimore Orioles make it all the way to the World Series before losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He didn't play in the All-Star game however due to injury, so the Detroit Tigers' Norm Cash started in his place.
Nevertheless, the 1970 A.L. MVP was having another solid year, hitting 22 homers along with 92 runs batted in over 128 games and 418 at-bats.
He finished third in the MVP race in 1966 when he clubbed 34 homers to go with 109 RBIs and a .287 batting average, and then finished second in 1969 when he hit 37 homers with a career best 121 RBIs and .304 average.
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!

Thursday, December 16, 2021


On the blog today, we have a "not so missing" 1977 card for former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Kevin Kobel, who made it back to a Big League mound in 1976 after a year in the Minors, battling injuries:

Kobel appeared in just three games during the Bicentennial 1976 season, getting hit hard out of the bullpen to the tune of an 11.25 ERA over four innings.
He spent all of 1975 in the Minors, though only appearing in seven games for Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League, dealing with injuries.
In 1974 he was a full-time Brewers starter, playing in 34 games with 24 of those starts, going 6-14 with three complete games and two shutouts, throwing 169.1 innings and finishing up with a 3.99 ERA.
After another Minor League season in 1977, he was back on a Major League mound in 1978 as a New York Met, having a nice season that saw him appear in 32 games, starting eleven, and posting a sweet 2.91 ERA over 108.1 innings, with a record of 5-6.
He'd have a decent 1979 season, going 6-8 for the Mets with a 3.51 ERA over 30 appearances and 161.2 innings before he found himself splitting the 1980 season between the Majors and Minors, appearing in only 14 games for the Mets and getting lit up to an ERA of 7.04 over 24.1 innings of work.
Turns out it would be the last action he'd see in the Majors before spending the 1982 season in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization with no success, retiring soon after.
All told, Kobel appeared in 115 games between 1973 and 1980, going 18-34 with a 3.88 ERA over 476 innings pitched, completing five and tossing three shutouts, starting 64 games.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021


Thought it'd be fun today to look at the original airbrushed image of former pitcher Alan Foster's 1972 card, along with the end result:

Foster came over from the Cleveland Indians as part of the trade that sent Vada Pinson to the Angels for disgruntled former batting champ Alex Johnson.
You can see the Cleveland pinstriping on the jersey, reflecting the Indians uni at the time.
He was coming off a full season as an Indian starter in 1971, appearing in 36 games, 26 of those starts, going 8-12 with a 4.16 earned run average, completing three games and striking out 97 in 181.2 innings.
He'd only appear in eight games for the Angels in 1972 before moving on to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973, where he'd have his best season as a Big League pitcher, going 13-9 over 35 appearances, with a 3.14 ERA and two shutouts over 203.2 innings pitched.
He carved out a decent 10-year career in the Major Leagues, playing for the Dodgers, Indians, Angels, Cardinals and Padres before leaving the game after the 1976 season with a 48-63 record with a 3.74 earned run average over 217 games, 148 of which were starts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


Today the blog offers up a 1975 "not so missing" card for former pinch-hitter extraordinaire Jose Morales of the Montreal Expos, who appeared in just over two dozen games during the 1974 season:

Morales was in his second taste of the Big Leagues in 1974, collecting seven hits over 26 at-bats for a .269 batting average while putting in some time behind the plate for the Expos after splitting his initial Major League season with Oakland and Montreal the year prior, playing in eleven games.
Never a full-time player, he'd find his groove as a bat off the bench, specializing as a pinch-hitter with some success in the role.
Of course if any of you remember the 1977 set, you’ll remember that Morales set a new Major League record for pinch-hits in a season in 1976 when he collected 25, breaking the record held by Dave Philley and Vic Davalillio, appearing on a “Record Breaker” card in the set.
He would play twelve seasons in the Big Leagues, finishing up with a nice .287 career batting average with 375 hits over 1305 at-bats between 1973 and 1984.

Monday, December 13, 2021


Up on the blog today, how about a 1978 "not so missing" card for seven game Major Leaguer John Flannery, who played the entirety of his Big League career in September of 1977:

Flannery appeared in the aforementioned seven games for the Chicago White Sox at the end of the '77 season, going 0-2 at the plate with a run scored and a walk while getting some time in defensively at shortstop and third base.
Only 20 years of age at the time, he was back in the Minors by the start of the 1978 season, where he'd actually remain for the rest of his professional career, through the 1982 campaign when he played in Birmingham of the Southern League for the Detroit Tigers organization.
He never did get another shot at a Major League game again, finishing up with just those seven games.

Sunday, December 12, 2021


On the blog today, we move on to the American league in celebrating the starters of the classic 1971 All-Star game, with a 1972 "missing" All-Star card for starting catcher Ray Fosse:

Now, you'll notice I had to break down and use the image Topps used for his 1971 "Super" card since, believe it or not I just CANNOT find a usable portrait image of him from the period. Incredible that I've been looking for months and nothing.
Regardless, the "Marion Mule" made his second straight All-Star game in 1971, and was a burgeoning star in the league.
By season's end he took home his second straight Gold Glove, while also hitting .276 with 12 homers and 62 runs batted in for the Cleveland Indians.
Contrary to what many believe, the All-Star injury at the hands of Pete Rose did not derail his career, as other injuries along the way in the following years also contributed to his drop in performance.
Nevertheless, by the time Fosse retired after a brief stint with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1979, he finished with a .256 average, with 758 hits over 2957 at-bats, driving in 324 runs while scoring 299 himself over 924 Big League games.
On another note, you really have to wonder how good those Cleveland Indians could have been by the late-70’s had they NOT traded away players like Graig Nettles, Dick Tidrow, Chris Chambliss and Fosse.
Rest in Peace Ray Fosse...

Saturday, December 11, 2021


Always a good day here on the blog when I can add another custom card for "Popeye" Don Zimmer, one of my favorite "baseball people". This one a dedicated 1977 manager card:

"Zim" took over as manager of the Boston Red Sox about half way through the 1976 season, leading them to a 42-34 record under his watch the rest of the way.
Over the next three years he'd have the BoSox in the thick of things, winning 97, 99 and 91 games, but always falling JUST a bit short to the New York Yankees the first two seasons, and the Baltimore Orioles the third.
In 1980 he'd start the year with Boston, guiding them to a record of 82-73 before being let go towards the end of the year, moving on to the Texas Rangers during the strike year of 1981, where he'd manage through the first half of 1982.
After that, he'd coach until he was handed the managerial job of the Chicago Cubs in 1988, where he'd lead them through the first third of the 1991 season, including their fun 1989 season that saw the Cubbies finish in first before losing to the San Francisco Giants in the N.L. playoffs.
Of course, Zimmer will always be remembered most as a baseball “lifer”, playing, coaching and managing in Major League ball for an incredible 61 years, from 1954 to 2014.
Loved him when he was coaching with the New York Yankees during the Joe Torre years!
Rest in Peace “Popeye”! You are missed!

Friday, December 10, 2021


Up on the blog today, we have a 1979 "not so missing" card for three year Major League shortstop Pat Rockett, who played the last of his Big League games during the 1979 season:

Rockett appeared in 55 games for the Atlanta Braves in 1978, kind of making this card truly a "missing" variety instead of "not so", though he did hit only .141 with 20 hits over 142 at-bats.
Originally up in 1976 with a scant four games for the Braves, he saw the most action during his brief career in 1977 when he played in 93 games, hitting .254 with 67 hits in 264 at-bats.
He’d play two more seasons in the Minor Leagues, both for the Braves and the Toronto Blue Jays, but would never get back to the Majors again, finishing up with a career .214 average, with 88 hits in 411 at-bats, with 33 runs scored and 28 RBIs over 152 games.

Thursday, December 9, 2021


Waaaay back on July 8th of 2014 I created a "missing" 1974 card for former Cleveland Indians pitcher Ray Lamb, who really did deserve a card in the 1974 Topps set based on his 1973 action.

Thing is at that time the only image I could find to use for the "card" was a team-issued postcard, which wasn't exactly the optimum image I wanted.
All these years later, I finally found one, so I recreated it using an actual Topps photo:

For those that want to see what my original card looked like, here you go:

Here's my original write-up for the blog way back when:
"Quick: who was the only player to wear uniform number "42" for the Los Angeles Dodgers after Jackie Robinson retired?
If you answered Ray Lamb, today's "missing in action" subject, good for you!
Turns out Lamb wore the legendary number in 1969 while with the Dodgers, before they retired the number in 1972.
Lamb was already a member of the Cleveland Indians by then, and was out of professional baseball by 1974.
However I feel he "should" have, or "could" have had a card in Topps 1974 set based on the playing time he put in the previous year.
In 1973 Lamb appeared in 32 games for the Tribe, going an even 3 and 3 with a 4.60 earned run average and 60 strikeouts in 86 innings of work.
But by March of 1974, he was released, and as far as I can tell never played again, not even Minor League ball.
Strange, as I haven't come across any info regarding an injury or something like that.
Lamb's best season was arguably 1971, when he posted a deceptive 6-12 record to go along with his 3.35 E.R.A., three complete games and a shutout playing his first year for the Indians after being dealt by the team that drafted him, the Dodgers.
He put in a decent year in 1972, going 5-6 with an even better 3.09 E.R.A., mainly as a guy out of the 'pen.
All told, he finished his career with a 20-23 record, 3.54 E.R.A. and 258 strikeouts in 424 innings over 154 games."

Wednesday, December 8, 2021


Time to go and give former Philadelphia Phillies infielder John Vukovich a "not so missing" 1978 card to go along with three other "missing" cards created for the blog over the years:

Vukovich, who also got missing 1971, 1972 and 1977 editions created here over the years, appeared in only two games for the Phillies during the 1977 season, going 0-2 with a strikeout in that time.
He would spend all of 1978 in the Minors before coming back to the Big Leagues in 1979, albeit for only 10 games, hitting an even .200 with three hits in 15 at-bats.
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.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021


Thought it'd be fun to revisit an old blog post from over six years ago, my "Missing" 1972 In-Action card for Lou Piniella of the Kansas City Royals, which was a really fun thread where I created a bunch of missing 1972 In-Action cards Topps should have had out there:

Here's the original blog post write-up for that day:

"Piniella was establishing himself as a solid Major League player, already taking home the American League Rookie of the Year in the 1969, the Royals inaugural season, and just putting in consistent numbers every year there.
After being traded to the New York Yankees before the 1974 season, Piniella found his permanent home in the big leagues, playing the final eleven seasons of his career there.
Along the way he was a member of two championship teams, hit .300 or better five times, and eventually would even become manager of the Yanks before moving on to a long career leading Major League squads.
Over his 18-year career he hit .291, with 1705 hits in 5867 at-bats, and besides 10 games split between the Orioles in 1964 and the Indians in 1968, he'd do it all with the Roylas and Yankees between 1969-1984.
In 1986 he took over as Yankee manager, and would go on to manage for another 23 seasons, guiding the Yanks, Reds, Mariners, Devil Rays and Cubs.
He would lead his teams to a World Series win in 1990 (Reds), an American League record 116 win season in 2001 (Mariners), eight 90+ win seasons (all but the Devil Rays), and six 1st place finishes (with the Reds, Mariners and Cubs).
Not a bad career spanning 46 years!"

Monday, December 6, 2021


Up on the blog today, we have a "not so missing" 1979 card for former outfielder Abert Lois of the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Lois made his Big League debut during the 1978 season, appearing in three games at the age of 22, collecting one hit over four at-bats, that one hit being a triple.
He would make the team again in 1979, albeit for only eleven games, and all as a pinch-runner, which would see him score six runs without ever having a plate appearance.
Sadly for him, because of recurring issues on and off the field, Lois never fulfilled his once high-promise due to injuries and issues taking his opportunities seriously.
On January 5th, 1980, Lois was driving drunk with friends in the Dominican Republic, and crashed into a train while trying to cross railroad tracks, killing six passengers while he avoided death solely because of what he stated was a last second left turn.
Tragically, he lost an eye and just like that, his career was over.
Here's a great link to the SABR bio written about him by Tom Crist for those that want to read a little more about his off-field (and on field) problems that curtailed a promising career:

All told Lois' MLB career consisted of those 14 games in 1978 and 1979, with only four plate appearances and one hit.

Sunday, December 5, 2021


Today on the blog, just for the fun of it, we have a "not so missing" 1966 card for the great Satchel Paige, a card that was featured in my last custom set the "Whole Nine":

On September 25th of 1965, as a publicity stunt by the publicity-loving Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, the 58-year-old Paige was "signed" to pitch a Major League game.
Twelve years removed from his last Big League game, the incredible ageless one did not disappoint, as he pitched three innings of scoreless ball against the Boston Red Sox, allowing only one hit while striking out a batter.
Just phenomenal, and adding to the legend that was Satchel Paige!
From his start as a 20-year old playing for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1927 to his final Major League appearance as a 58-year old for the Kansas City Athletics, Paige became an American icon not only for his on-field play but for his infectious personality.
Though his career Negro League record is listed as 100-50 over 18-seasons, he won countless other games along the way, as was the usual for the Negro Leagues as they played exhibition and non-league games during gaps in their schedule.
His stories are legend, enough so that by the time the Baseball Hall of Fame got off their ass and finally began electing Negro League all-time greats to Cooperstown, Paige was the very 1st to be so honored.
A 5x time Negro League all-star, 2x American League all-star, Negro League champ in 1942 with the Homestead Grays, and Major League World Champion with the 1948 Cleveland Indians, Paige left a baseball legacy that few could come close to.
This card was one of 16 produced for my "Whole Nine" set, which also had full statistic backs in my October, 2021 set.
Featuring other fun cards "that never were" like 1959 Ted Williams, 1933 Delong Babe Ruth, 1966 Steve Carlton, it was available for a short time through yours truly.

Saturday, December 4, 2021


Really fun card to add to the blog AND my on-going 1972 All-Star "missing" sub-set today, a card for the National League's starting pitcher in the 1971 Midsummer Classic, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis:

Ellis was on his way to his best year as a Big League pitcher in 1971, and with that was given the honor of starting what turned out to be one of the historic All-Star game in baseball history, featuring somewhat of a transition of the "old" classic baseball of the 1950's and 1960's with stars like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente, while also showcasing young up and coming superstars of the new age like Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson and Rod Carew.
By the time 1971 ended Ellis finished with a very nice 19-9 record for the eventual World Champions, sporting an earned run average of 3.06 over 31 starts, with 11 complete games and two shutouts, tossing a career-best 226.2 innings.
Those numbers would get him a fourth place finish in the Cy Young Award race in November, with Chicago Cubs great Fergie Jenkins winning it based on his league-leading 24 wins.
Of course, we would be terribly negligent here without also mentioning that Ellis was the pitcher who served up the classic bomb hit by Reggie Jackson in the All-Star game that almost cleared the ballpark, a moment that marked somewhat of the arrival of the man who would go on to be nicknamed "Mr. October" and become a household name across the country by decade's end.
Nevertheless, Ellis would go on to pitch 12 years in the Majors, finishing up after the 1979 season, posting a final record of 138-119 over 345 games, 317 of them as a starter, tossing 14 shutouts and striking out 1136.

Friday, December 3, 2021


On the blog today, we have a 1974 "expanded league leaders" card celebrating the three top winners in the National League for 1973:

Leading off is one of those great anomalies in the annals of "league leaders", San Francisco Giants pitcher Ron Bryant, who won 24 of his career 57 games in 1973 alone.
Bryant was coming off of a 1972 season that saw him post a record of 14-7, not bad, before he steamrolled to 24 wins in 1973.
However it wasn't necessarily a dominating year for the lefty, as he'd also post an earned run average of 3.53 over 270 innings, with 143 strikeouts and zero shutouts.
The following season he would plummet to a record of 3-15 with a 5.61 ERA over the same 41 appearances, tossing only 126.2 innings before having one last year in the Big Leagues in 1975, going 0-1 in only 10 appearances with a bloated 16.62 ERA over 8.2 innings.
The definition of "career year" if there ever was one!
Right behind him with 19 wins was the National League's Cy Young winner, the great Tom Seaver, who put in a "typical" Seaver year with a league-leading 2.08 ERA and 251 strikeouts, as well as 18 complete games with three shutouts over 36 games and 290 innings of work, helping the New York Mets make the World Series before an eventual loss to the three-peat Oakland A's.
Before he was done Seaver would win one more Cy, two years later, and get ripped of another in 1981 (in my humble opinion), on his way to "All-Time Great" status.
Tied with Seaver with those 19 wins was the Cincinnati Reds pitcher who really gets lost in the shuffle of the mid-70's, Jack Billingham, who had the first of his two straight 19-win seasons for the burgeoning "Big Red Machine" Reds teams.
For a juggernaut of a team those Reds were, they did not have that star "ace" that we can find with other dynasties.
Those Reds teams had guys like Don Gullett, Fred Norman, and Billingham, who were solid pitchers but were also helped a great deal by lineups that included dudes like Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and George Foster.
For Billingham, in addition to the 19 wins he posted an ERA of 3.04 with a league-leading seven shutouts and 293.1 innings pitched, striking out 155 batters, finishing fourth at year's end in the Cy Young race, making his only All-Star team as well.
A bit of an odd year as far as "league leaders" in wins go for that period, but great nevertheless!

Thursday, December 2, 2021


Today's blog post has a "not so missing" career-capper for former outfielder Orlando Alvarez, he of a 25-games Major League career spread out over four Big League seasons:

After three years as a Los Angeles Dodger where he only appeared in 10 total games, Alvarez remained "local" and played in 15 games with the California Angels in 1976.
Over those two-dozen+ games he hit .167 with seven hits in 42 at-bats, scoring four runs while driving in eight with two homers and a double.
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.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021


On the blog this fine day, we have a career-capping 1979 card for former catcher Larry Johnson, who appeared in three scant games for the Chicago White Sox during the 1978 season:

After a full season in the Minor Leagues in 1977 Johnson made it back to the Majors in 1978, albeit for those three games, collecting a single and a walk over nine plate appearances.
It would be the last action for him as a Major League catcher, playing parts of five seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Montreal Expos and White Sox.
However over those five seasons he only played in 12 games total, appearing in one game each of 1972, 1974 and 1975, six for the Expos in 1976 and the three games in 1978.
Over those dozen games, he collected five hits in 26 at-bats, "good" for a .192 batting average with a run scored and an RBI.
This is the third card I've created for him for the blog over the years, with a 1973 and then a 1975 coming before today's custom.
Gotta respect those "cup-o-coffee" Big Leaguers!


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