Monday, October 31, 2022


The next OPC image variation we spotlight here on the blog is that of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, who was just beginning his fabulous career that would eventually land him in Cooperstown:

OPC version

Topps version

One of the rare instances where I prefer the Topps version rather than the OPC, given the catching pose from the OPC batting pose.
Nevertheless, both are nice clear images of the young catching stud, on his way to becoming the top catcher of the 1980's.
Actually I remember when Gary Carter really took over the "best catcher" regardless of league from Johnny Bench around 1981. It was like he was suddenly everywhere with that smile of his!
Sure you still had Carlton Fisk producing in the American League, but Carter really took over as the top backstop and held onto that title for pretty much the rest of the decade.
This was a guy who had nine seasons of 20+ homers and four 100+ R.B.I. seasons as a catcher. Not too shabby!
After finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1975, Carter also went on to have 11 All-Star game nods, five Silver Slugger awards, three Gold Gloves and seven seasons where he garnered M.V.P. votes, finishing in the Top-10 four times.
By the time he retired after the 1992 season, he finished with 2092 hits, 324 home runs and 1225 runs batted in.
Needless to say Cooperstown came calling, and in 2003 he easily got voted in after being selected on 387 of 496 ballots, securing his place in baseball history forever.
However, sadly years later Carter was diagnosed with brain cancer, and despite undergoing aggressive treatment he succumbed to the disease about nine months later in February of 2012.

Sunday, October 30, 2022


Today on the blog we move on to 1978 League Leader cards, "expanding" them to show the top three finishers in each statistic for each league, as opposed to the top leader from both the N.L. and A.L. on one card, beginning with the top three batters in the N.L.:

We begin with Pittsburgh Pirate slugger Dave Parker, who won the first of his two straight batting titles in 1977, hitting .338 with a league-leading 215 hits and 44 doubles.
Along with his 21 homers, 88 RBIs and .531 slugging percentage, those numbers got him a third-place finish in the MVP race by season's end, while also hauling in the first of his three Gold Gloves.
Right behind Parker, with a ,336 batting average, teammate Rennie Stennett, who had himself a fine season, stealing a career-best 28 bases while scoring 53 runs in only 116 games.
It was one of those unusual seasons that a player did not "technically" qualify for the batting title, with Stennett's 490 plate appearances.
However, because of his big lead on the third place finisher, once added the necessary plate appearances as hitless at-bats to reach 501, he was still the second best hitter.
In third place with a .322 average, St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Garry Templeton, who broke out as a 21-year-old and collected 200 hits, scored 94 runs and led the league with his 18 triples, earning him his first All-Star nod and some MVP attention as well.
Two seasons later he'd lead the league with 211 hits, collecting at least 100 hits from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitter, while once again leading the league in triples, this time with 19.
Of course, as we all know, he'd eventually wear out his welcome in St. Louis and would be traded to the San Diego Padres for Ozzie Smith, certainly affecting the outcome of both franchises for the 1980's.


Saturday, October 29, 2022


The next player from my recently released two-series 1970 "In-Game Action" set to get the spotlight here on the blog is the great Bobby Bonds, who was just coming into his own when this card would have seen the light of day:

What an awesome combination of power and speed.
Five times he attained a 30/30 season, just missing out on becoming the first player in history to hit 40/40 in 1973 when he clubbed 39 homers with 43 swipes.
As it was, he finished with 332 homers, 1024 runs batted in, 1258 runs scored and 461 stolen bases and even took home three Gold Gloves.
I remember him stating years later that if he knew it was going to be such a big deal he'd have done it multiple times. And I'm sure he could have too.
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.
An incredible talent, it just seems that after his first seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants, no one really wanted to keep him around, playing for seven teams in seven years between 1975 and 1981.

Friday, October 28, 2022


On the blog today, we go and give long-time Major League manager Chuck Tanner a "dedicated manager card", in those sweet Chicago White Sox uniforms of the mid-1970s:

Tanner put in six seasons as the White Sox manager, from 1970 through 1975, having his best year in 1972 when the team was led by MVP Dick Allen and workhorse pitcher Wilbur Wood, with the team finishing 87-67, good for a second-place finish.
1976 would see him at the helm of the Oakland A's, not quite the dynasty team of the mid-decade when they won three straight World Series, nevertheless finishing 87-74 before the rest of their stars left via Free Agency.
1977 would see him change gigs again, now at the helm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he would lead for nine seasons and bring him his greatest reward, a World Series win in 1979 with the "We Are Family" team led by Hall of Famer Willie Stargell.
After the 1985 season he'd move on to the Atlanta Braves, managing the team for the next three years before a guy named Bobby Cox took over.
For Tanner, it wasn't as successful as the team would be in the 1990's, as Tanner's teams would go a combined 153-208 over that time with two last-place finishes.
All told, he would finish his managerial career with a record of 1352-1381, with one Championship and five second-place finishes.

Thursday, October 27, 2022


By special request, today the blog offers up a 1972 "Highlight" card celebrating the enormous season young Oakland A's starter Vida Blue had, eventually taking home the Cy Young and A.L. MVP Award:

Of course, we all know that Vida Blue absolutely exploded onto the Major League scene in 1971, on his way to capturing both awards by season's end.
All he did in this epic season was post a record of 24-8, with a league-leading 1.82 earned run average, striking out 301 batters and tossing eight shutouts.
Oh yeah, he was only 21 years of age!
His WHIP of 0.952 and strikeouts-per-nine-innings of 8.7 also led the league, and he completed 24 of his 39 starts, putting in 312 innings of work for the upstart Oakland A's, who were about to go on the three-peat championship run between 1972 and 1974.
Blue would go on to post 209 career victories in the Majors, having some successful seasons with the San Francisco Giants, even starting the 1978 All-Star game for the National League, while finishing up his 17-year career in 1986.
It’s amazing for me to remember that when Blue started that NL All-Star game in 1978, he wasn’t even 30 years old, yet to me he already seemed to be an aging veteran by then.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022


The next 1971 "Baseball's Greatest Moments" custom created for my new thread celebrating my favorite Topps odd-ball set in one celebrating the great Hank Aaron and his 500th home run, hit in 1968:

On July 14th of ‘68, Aaron came into the game against the San Francisco Giants with 499, until he connected off of reigning National League Cy Young winner Mike McCormick in the third-inning for a three-run shot.
Of course, playing for the other team was Willie Mays, who was (at the time) one of only six players with 500+ homers in MLB history, along with Aaron’s former teammate Eddie Mathews, who reached the milestone the previous season while with the Houston Astros.
Of course, even though Aaron was already 34 years old, he wasn’t nearly done, as he’d go one to post five consecutive 30+ homer seasons, with three of them more than 40, including what would end up being a career-high 47 in 1971 at the age of 37!
The man was not just about homers however, as evidenced by his 3771 hits, 2174 runs scored, 624 doubles and 2297 runs batted in along with a .305 career average.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022


Been a while since I created a new 1975 "In-Action" card, so I went ahead and created one for Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven to add to my long-running thread:

Blyleven was already five years into his Big League career, and still only 24 years old entering the 1975 season, topping 200 strikeouts four times, four seasons of 16+ wins and four of sub-3.00 ERA's.
1975 would be more of the same, as he'd post 15 wins with an even 3.00 ERA and 233 strikeouts, completing 20 of his 35 starts.
Born in Zeist, Holland (now the Netherlands), Blyleven started his 22-year career in 1970 with the Minnesota Twins and quickly established himself among the best pitchers in baseball.
During his great MLB run, he posted 17 seasons of 10+ victories, with a high of 20 in 1973, along with eight 200+ strikeout campaigns and nine with a 2.99 ERA or lower.
By the time the prankster retired after the 1992 season, he finished with 287 wins, a 3.31 ERA, 60 career shutouts and 3701 strikeouts over 692 games and 4970 innings pitched.
After having to wait 14 years, the BBWA finally voted him into the Hall of Fame in 2011, finally claiming a spot which he rightfully deserved.

Monday, October 24, 2022


Up on the blog today, we take a look at a 1977 unissued Topps proof card, along with the issued version, of former catcher and longtime MLB coach Dave Duncan:

Though he never ended up playing for the Chicago White Sox after two seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, he was traded to the South Siders in November of 1976, deciding to retire as an active player, but not before Topps airbrushed him into his new uniform.
On March 30th, just before the season started, the White Sox released Duncan, who decided to retire and finish up his 11-year playing career.
Originally up with the Kansas City Athletics in 1964 as an 18-year old, Duncan had a decent career, hitting as many as 19 home runs one season and making the American League All-Star team in 1971.
After his days with the A’s he went to the Cleveland Indians for two years in 1973 and 1974, before his stint with Baltimore the following two seasons.
Of course, he will always be remembered as the celebrated pitching coach between 1979 and 2011, generally while working with Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa, in which he’d list no less than four Cy Young winners under his guidance and being a part of three World Champion teams: 1989 A’s and 2006 & 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.

Sunday, October 23, 2022


On the blog today, we move on to the American League’s top three “firemen” of the 1976 season, celebrated on a 1977 “expanded league leader” card:
We begin with a reliever who had a couple of outstanding seasons in the mid-70’s, Bill Campbell, aka “Soup”, who paced the league with his 37 points.
Campbell’s 1976 season was incredible, as he would appear in a league-leading 78 games for the Minnesota Twins while posting a record of 17-5, with 20 saves and a 3.01 earned run average over 167.2 innings, all out of the bullpen.
Those numbers were enough for a seventh place finish in the Cy Young Award and an eighth-place finish in the MVP race, and rightly so!
I’ve always been fascinated by relievers who posted incredible high-inning seasons completely out of the bullpen, and Campbells 1976 season ranks high up there.
In second place with 33 points, Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, who posted a record of 13-11 with 20 saves in his final year with the Oakland A’s, with a brilliant 2.47 ERA over 70 appearances and 134.2 innings of work.
Another workhorse out of the bullpen, it’s no surprise the man’s Big League output would eventually lead to a Hall of Fame induction, at the time a rare occurrence for a dedicated reliever.
In third place with 30 points, a man who I feel should be in the Hall of Fame, Sparky Lyle of the New York Yankees, who led the league with his 23 saves while posting a record of 7-8 with a 2.26 ERA over 103.2 innings for the A.L. champs.
Lyle would follow up his excellent 1976 season with an even better 1977, taking home the A.L. Cy Young Award based on his 13-5 record, with 26 saves and a 2.17 ERA over 72 games and 137 innings of work, helping the Yanks win their first championship since 1962.
I absolutely loved him as a kid, pitching for my Yanks, and was heartbroken when he was sent to the Texas Rangers in part because of the arrival of Rich Gossage, who took over the reliever role for the foreseeable future.
There you have it, the top three “firemen” called upon to put out those late-inning fires, eating up innings and saving games in the American League in 1976.

Saturday, October 22, 2022


Today's blog post has us taking a closer look at another 1977 OPC image variation from their Topps counterpart, this one the card of former Toronto Blue Jay Dave McKay:

OPC version

Topps version
Definitely a much better image used here for the third baseman, using a photo from Spring Training rather than the airbrushed job Topps used since their production goes into effect much earlier.
McKay hit .197 over 95 games for the Blue Jays in their inaugural 1977 season, picking up 54 hits in 274 at-bats, scoring 18 while driving in 22 after spending parts of his first two Big League campaigns with the Minnesota Twins in 1975 and 1976.
He would put in eight seasons as a Major League infielder, playing for the Twins, Blue Jays and Oakland A's between 1975 and 1982, with the 1978 season being his only full-time year, appearing in 145 games with 537 plate appearances.
Overall he would bat .229 for his career, collecting 441 hits over his 645 games and 1928 at-bats before becoming a long-time coach, putting in almost 40 years in that capacity between 1984 and the present day.

Friday, October 21, 2022


On the blog today, we have a "not so missing" 1970 card for Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox, who wrapped up a brief two-year playing career in 1969 with 85 games with the New York Yankees:

Cox hit .215 in that final taste of the Big Leagues, collecting 41 hits over 191 at-bats while playing both third and second base.
The previous season he appeared in 135 games in his Major League debut, hitting .229 with 100 hits in 437 at-bats, scoring 33 runs while driving in 41.
Turns out that would be it for him as a player, spending parts of the next two years in the Minors before moving on to coaching, then as manager beginning in 1978 at the age of 37 with the Atlanta Braves.
He would go on to manage 29 seasons in the Majors, guiding many powerhouse teams like the 1985 Toronto Blue Jays and the dynastic Atlanta Braves of the late-90's/early-00's.
By the time he retired as a manager, he finished with 2504 wins and five National League pennants, as well as a World Series win in 1995.
He finished in 1st place in his division an incredible 15 times, with eleven of them coming consecutively between 1991 and 2005, topping 100 wins six times.
Just an incredible managerial resume that got him inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2014.

Thursday, October 20, 2022


Adding to my on-going 1970 "In-Game Action" thread, spotlighting individual cards from my two-series custom set released over the past few months, we have Baltimore Orioles pitching great Dave McNally:

McNally was in the middle of a tremendous four-year run by the time this card would have come out, posting four straight 20+ win seasons along with three wins spread over three World Series (1969-1971) and a World Championship.
Between 1969-1971 he finished in the top-5 in Cy Young voting each time, with a second place finish in 1970 behind Jim Perry.
Along with Jim Palmer and Mike Cuellar he formed one of the most talented pitching rotations in the game, and in 1971 was one of FOUR Oriole pitchers to post 20 or more wins.
By the time he retired after the 1975 season, he finished with a 184-119 record, with a 3.24 earned run average, 33 shutouts and 1512 strikeouts.
Some of the other highlights of his career are pretty nifty: still the only pitcher to hit a Grand Slam in a World Series game; he had three different streaks of 12 or more wins in a row during his career (Roger Clemens would later match this) including a 17-game streak between 1968-69; and he threw a Series-clinching shutout against the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series to match teammates Jim Palmer and Wally Bunker, completing an improbable sweep of the reigning champs and their staff which had future Hall of Fame pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.
Quite a career for the man from Billings, Montana.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022


Thought it would be fun for many of you who found the blog later on to revisit a post from the "early years", September of 2014 more specifically, and my "fantasy" 1976 card for Mark Fidrych, who took the world by storm that season:

Fidrych had the world in the palm of his hand that year, my first year following baseball as a wide-eyed seven year old.
The man was everywhere, not only with his stellar play on the mound but with his antics and bright smile that lit up the room.
Here's the original write-up I posted way back when:
"Now, I'll be the first to admit that there was no way Topps could have foreseen Fidrych and the phenomena that was about to ensue.
He wasn't exactly the hot prospect when the '76 season opened, but by the time the all-star game was about to be played, Fidrych was everywhere, and everyone was talking about him.
We all know the story: how he ended up starting the all-star game, how he won 19 games and led the league in earned run average, how he was given the nickname "Bird" and the antics he displayed on the mound.
Sadly we also know how his career was derailed because of injuries, how he was never able to make it back successfully, and how years later he was tragically killed in an accident at the young age of 54.
But the "Bird" legend will always be around, and for those of us lucky enough to have witnessed it, it was incredible.
His 1977 Topps card is STILL one of my all-time favorites solely because I feel it captured that "thing", that personality he had, as a character that comes along all too rarely.
Here's to you Mark!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2022


Up on the blog today, we have a 1972 "Turn back the Clock" card celebrating the great Ted Williams and his SECOND Triple Crown season:

The man was a hitting machine!
All he did during that historic 1947 campaign was lead the American League with 125 runs scored, 32 homers, 114 runs batted in and a .343 average, along with a .499 on-base percentage and a .634 slugging percentage, YET finished second behind the New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio for the MVP Award. Total joke!
Just five years before that he also took home the Triple Crown when he led the league with 141 runs scored, 36 homers, 137 RBIs and a .356 average, this a year after he hit .406 in the legendary 1941 season.
Easily the greatest all-around hitter the game ever saw, Williams took home six batting titles, four home run titles and four RBI titles over his career, a career that saw him lose five seasons because of military service because of World War II and the Korean War.
Just incredible to think he could have reached 700 home runs, 2000+ RBIs, 2000+ runs scored and 3500 hits if not for time lost for reasons other than injury.
I will forever be in awe of this man and what he accomplished both on and off the playing field.

Monday, October 17, 2022


Thought it'd be fun to start a new thread here on the blog, creating a special "Stars Retire" card for each year of the decade celebrating elite players who retired the previous season, starting off with a 1972 card for Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Jim Bunning:

Beginning with the great Ernie Banks, what really needs to be said about the man at this point?
The most beloved baseball player in the North Side of Chicago, two-time Most Valuable Player (1958 and 1959), 500+ home runs, 2500+ hits, 11-time all-star and all-around great guy.
Oh, I may as well throw in the 1300+ runs scored, 1600+ runs batted in, 400+ doubles and 90 triples he chipped in as well, setting him on a straight path to the Baseball Hall of Fame with his 1977 induction, a no-brainer in anyone's book!
"Mr. Cub", wish there were more like him!
Then we have pitching great (and future long-time politician) Jim Bunning,
As a baseball player he put in 17-years of all-star play, winning 20 games once, but putting together four 19-win seasons along with three 17-win seasons, while leading his league in strikeouts three times and shutouts twice.
The seven-time all-star threw a no-hitter in each league, with his National League no-no a perfect game against the New York Mets in 1964.
He also won 100-games in each league, becoming the first to do so since the great Cy Young at the beginning of the 20th Century.
But I would love to mention one more time how this guy's career record is deceptive (224-184), as he posted multiple no-hitters, the aforementioned 100 wins as well as 1000 strikeouts in BOTH leagues before it became somewhat more frequent with the growth player movement from team to team, league to league.
Also, at the time of his retirement after the '71 season he was second all-time in Major League history with his 2855 strikeouts.
In 1996, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining contemporaries such as Juan Marichal, Sandy Koufax and Whitey Ford.
By then he was already a Representative of Kentucky’s 4th District  for nine years before becoming a State Senator in 1999, a position he would hold until January 2011.

Sunday, October 16, 2022


Up on the blog today, we continue on with my on-going "expanded league-leaders" thread, with this entry focusing on the National League's top "firemen" of the 1976 season showcased on a 1977 card:

We begin with the closer for the World Champion Cincinnati Reds, aka the "Big Red Machine's" Rawly Eastwick, who followed up a wonderful rookie year in 1975 with an even better campaign in 1976.
In his Sophomore year Eastwick compiled 37 "points", that is, a combined 37 wins and saves (11 wins along with a league-leading 26 saves), along with a very nice 2.09 ERA over 71 appearances and 107.2 innings.
Those numbers got him a fifth-place finish in the Cy Young race as well as a 13th-place finish for MVP.
The year prior, he finished third in the Rookie of the Year Award when he led the N.L. with 22 saves, while posting a record of 5-3 over 58 games, with a 2.60 ERA.
Sadly for him however, he'd develop arm-problems and never reach those type of numbers again, even though his career lasted until 1981, when he appeared in 30 games for the Chicago Cubs after bouncing around between 1977 and his final year.
Behind him with 30 points, the ageless Charlie Hough, who posted a record of 12-8 with 18 saves for the Los Angeles Dodgers, appearing in 77 games and posting a brilliant 2.21 ERA over 142.2 innings, all in relief.
It's amazing to think that he'd be a reliever another SIX years through his age-33 season before being converted to a starting pitcher by the Texas Rangers, and going on to post double-digit wins for NINE straight years!
I loved watching him pitch his knuckler when the Rangers were facing the New York Yankees as a kid, and I'm happy to say I got to see him pitch on more than one occasion in person at Yankee Stadium. What a treat!
The man pitched until he was 46 years of age, finishing up with the Florida Marlins in 1994, with 216 wins, a 3.75 ERA and 61 saves over 858 games, 440 of those starts, striking out over 2300 batters along the way.
In third place with 29 points, a converted infielder who made the switch to pitching work enough to forge out a 12-year career, New York Met Skip Lockwood, who finished his 1976 season with a record of 10-7 along with 19 saves.
He appeared in 56 games for the Mets that year, posting a very nice 2.67 ERA over 94.1 innings, striking out 108 batters, which works out to a very nice 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
Originally a third baseman with the kansas City Athletics who made his Big League debut in 1965 at the age of 18, he retooled himself into a pitcher and made it back to the Majors as one of the Seattle Pilots of 1969, appearing in six games.
A starter with the team after they moved to Milwaukee in 1970, he made the switch to the bullpen when he came to the Mets in 1975 and would stay there the rest of his career, saving as many as 20 games while posting an ERA as low as 1.49 twice (1975 and 1979).
After 24 games with the Boston Red Sox in 1980, he retired, with a record of 57-97 over 420 games, with five shutouts and 68 saves.
Not too shabby for a light-hitting infielder!

Saturday, October 15, 2022


Good day everyone!

I thought it would be fun to finally start adding to the all-time greatest Topps oddball set: 1971's "Baseball's Greatest Moments", which is one of the rarest and hard to find sub-sets of "recent" times.
It had a very limited checklist with many of the game's best stars missing, so I'll start it off today with a card for all-time Frank Robinson celebrating his 1966 triple crown season:

Really a fun set to start building on, though I'l be hard pressed to print this up as a custom set in the future because of it's unique size.
Robinson's 1966 campaign was a thing of sweet justice, as he was supposedly traded to the Baltimore Orioles from the Cincinnati reds because he was an "old 30" according to Cincinnati management.
Well, all the man did was give the Orioles a triple crown year where he led the American League with 122 runs scored, 49 homers, 122 runs batted in and a .316 batting average, as well as a .410 on-base, .637 slugging percentage and 367 total bases.
That all got him an A.L. MVP Award by season's end, the first player to ever with the award in both leagues, while also leading the surprising young team to a shocking World Series victory over the favored reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
To call that "sweet revenge" would be an understatement!
Easily the most underappreciated player in the game's long history, with St. Louis Cardinal legend Stan Musial a close second in my opinion!
Anyway, look for more of these 1971 "Greatest Moments" additions in the near future!

Friday, October 14, 2022


I recently found a very nice image of former Chicago White Sox pitcher Wilbur Wood in-action and thought it would make for a nice "do-over" for his original airbrushed 1977 card, so here goes:

Redone custom version

Original issued Topps card

Just a fun action shot of the knuckleball pitcher serving up a pitch as opposed to the up-close airbrushed shot Topps originally used on their card.
The reliever-turned-starter strung four straight 20-win seasons for the Chicago White Sox after some pretty amazing years coming out of the bullpen in the late-60’s, with three top-5 Cy Young finishes between 1971-1973.
His 1972 season is the stuff of legends, as he started 49 games, knuckling his way through an astounding 376.2 innings!!!
The following season he worked another 359.1 innings on 48 starts, equaling his 24 wins from the year prior and leading the American League once again.
I’ve also always been fascinated with his 1968 season when, appearing in 88 games, all but two as a reliever, he went 13-12 with a microscopic 1.87 earned run average, with 16 saves over 159 innings pitched.
The man was incredible no matter where how team used him!
Sadly for him however, when you’re pitching during the same era as Jim Palmer, Jim Hunter, etc, you’ll tend to get lost in the shuffle, thus the Cy Young snubs each year.
By the time he retired after the 1978 season, Wood finished with a 164-156 record, appearing in 651 games, with 297 of them starts.
He’d have a final ERA of 3.24, with 24 career shutouts, 1411 strikeouts and 57 saves over 2684 innings pitched.
He led his league in pitching appearances three times, all consecutive, then went on to lead the league in starts four years in a row soon after.

Thursday, October 13, 2022


Today on the blog, we look at another 1977 OPC image variation, this one the Bobby Grich card, which has a nicer photo but as OPC did back then, left off the wonderful All-Star banner across the bottom:

Grich's Topps card had an obviously older image of him as a Baltimore Oriole, cropped up close without a cap so really worked well for his card, even if it was a bit bland.
On the OPC card, it's a nicer photo of him smiling in the sunshine, though also still obviously an image of him in an Oriole uni with a blacked-out cap.
Topps and OPC were trying to do the right thing by showing him as a member of the California Angels before the 1977 season began, but for some reason I’ve always felt if a guy was coming off an All-Star or award-winning year with another team, there should be some love thrown that way (as in the 1975 Bobby Murcer card, etc).
He would win four Gold Gloves overall in his excellent 17-year career, while getting named to six All-Star teams and participating in five American League Championship Series, two with the Orioles and three with the California Angels.
Defensively he topped the league in assists three times, putouts four times and fielding percentage twice, generally considered one of the best fielding second baseman of his era.
I always felt his 1979 season was lost in the shuffle of some great years put in by the likes of Don Baylor, Fred Lynn and George Brett when he hit a career high 30 home runs with 101 RBIs to go with a .294 average, fantastic numbers for a second baseman in that era outside of a guy named Joe Morgan.
Two years later he’d be one of four players tied to lead the American League in homers with 22, while also topping the league in slugging (.543).
By the time he retired after the 1986 season he finished with a .266 career average with 1833 hits and 224 homers, with 864 runs batted in and 1033 runs scored.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022


The next player card from my two-series 1970 "In-Game Action" set to be focused on here on the blog is my card for revolutionary player Curt Flood, a Hall of Famer in my book simply for what he did regarding players and the ability to reign in some control over their careers after decades of owner-rule:

Flood pretty much sacrificed his career by the early-70’s , fighting MLB for their handling of players “as cattle” in regards to trades, releases, eventually opening the doors for Free Agency and allowing players some control over their own careers.
You have to understand how HUGE this was, as it was something players have been trying to do since the late-1800’s (think of the failed Players League of 1890).
Sadly for Flood, while it did end up helping ballplayers soon after he left the game, his own playing career was over by the age of 33, really 31.
Beginning in 1962 Flood strung together eight fantastic seasons starring for the St. Louis Cardinals, consistently batting over .300, two 200-hit seasons, and seven straight Gold Glove Awards, right up to the 1969 campaign.
Then it all began with a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies along with others including Tim McCarver for superstar slugger Dick (Richie) Allen and a couple of other players.
Flood refused to report to his new team, eventually forcing the Cardinals to send prospect Willie Montanez to complete the deal, essentially ending his career as a player while he fought to have control over his own career, fighting the “reserve clause”.
After sitting out the season in 1970, the Phillies eventually sent him to the Washington Senators, where Flood played the last 13 games of his career before leaving the team within the first month, abruptly closing out a great career that could have been Hall of Fame worthy had he played longer.
If you’re not familiar with Flood’s case, and his teaming up with Players’ Union head Marvin Miller, you MUST read up on this to understand the state of the game today.
I just touched upon some brief points here, but the case and Flood’s decision to pursue this cause is incredible.
Every single player today has much to thank Flood and his sacrifice, allowing the Free Agent boom of the mid-70’s to change the game forever, leading to the salaries and benefits even the average players have today.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022


By special request today, I post up a 1977 "Turn Back the Clock" card celebrating the 50th anniversary of Babe Ruth and his 60 home runs, something appropriate for 2022 as Aaron Judge climbs up the A.L. all-time season list:

As we all know, Ruth topped what many thought was his own record of 59 home runs in 1921 with 60 in 1927, putting in a season of the ages, scoring 158 runs, driving in 165, hitting .356 and slugging .772 for the "Murderer's Row" champion Yankee team that won 110 games and is still regarded as one of the all-time best teams.
The man was mythical, playing so far above and beyond his contemporaries that it made his arguably the most famous person on earth, let alone in America.
I'm not a fan of all this talk today diminishing all that Ruth did over his career, as I believe the entire concept of "context" has been lost on those that like to say things like "...if he played today...".

Monday, October 10, 2022


On the blog today, we have a 1970 "dedicated rookie" for former All-Star second baseman Dave Cash, who made his MLB debut in 1969 with the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Cash appeared in 18 games as a 21-year-old, hitting .279 with 17 hits over 61 official at-bats, with eight runs scored and four RBIs.
The following year he'd show the Pirates what he'd end up doing throughout his career, HIT, as he'd put up a .314 batting average over 64 games.
He'd head over to the “City of Brotherly Love” in October of 1973 in a trade for pitcher Ken Brett, and did not disappoint the Phillie faithful, having his three best years as a Major Leaguer between 1974-1976.
In those three seasons Cash averaged over 200 hits a season, along with a .300 average while playing pretty much every single game, even setting the MLB record (since broken) of 699 at-bats during the 1975 season.
He’d sign with the Montreal Expos in the Winter of 1976 as a Free Agent, and would have one more very good year in 1977 before quickly having his career turn South.
After an injury-plagued 1979 season he found himself with the San Diego padres in 1980, where he hit .227 over 130 games, before retiring at only 32 years of age.
All told, Cash finished with a very nice .283 career average, with 1571 hits over 5554 at-bats and 1422 games between 1969 and 1980, stealing 120 bases and scoring 732 runs.


Sunday, October 9, 2022


Next up in my on-going "expanded league leaders" thread, the 1977 card celebrating the top three American League strikeout pitchers of 1976:

Of course, if we're talking strikeouts during the decade of the 1970's, we talk about the great Nolan Ryan of the California Angels, who led the league once again with his 327 K's.
It was the fourth time he topped the magic "300" in five seasons, all league leading totals, while also topping the league with his seven shutouts, while also ironically leading the league with 18 losses against 17 wins, with a 3.36 earned run average.
The man was a machine in his prime, and would go on to lead his league in strikeouts another seven times before he was done some 17 years later at the age of 46!
Behind him with 261 strikeouts, his teammate and the league leader in 1975, Frank Tanana, who put together another wonderful year, going 19-10 with a 2.43 ERA over 34 starts, with two shutouts and 23 complete games with 288 innings of work.
Those numbers got him a third place finish in the Cy Young race by the end of the season, while making his first All-Star team, something he'd do in the successive two seasons.
By the time HE was done in his Major League career, he'd have 2773 strikeouts and 240 wins over 21 seasons, reinventing himself from "power" pitcher to "professional" pitcher after injuries almost derailed him in the late 1970's.
In third place with 219 K's, Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, who split the season between the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers.
It was the sixth consecutive year he topped 200 strikeouts, while posting a record of 13-16 over 36 starts, with six shutouts and 18 complete games.
By the time he hung them up in 1992 at the age of 41, he'd finish with 3701 K's with 287 wins and 60 shutouts, enough to get him into Cooperstown, albeit many years later in 2011.

Saturday, October 8, 2022


Up on the blog today, another fun "un-issued" proof card to spotlight, this one a 1977 proof of former 20-game winner Wayne Garland of the Baltimore Orioles and soon to be Cleveland Indians:

Garland was coming off a great 1976 season with the Orioles that saw him go 20-7 with a very nice 2.67 earned run average over 38 appearances, 25 of which were starts.
It was certainly a "career-year" and one that got him a fat Free Agent contract with the Indians over the Winter, sadly one that the Indians would definitely want back.
Arm injuries set in soon after and Garland never got close to his 1976 numbers, going 13-19 in 1977, and never winning more than six games in any of his remaining four seasons after that before retiring in 1981 at only 30 years of age.
Of his 10140 career innings over his nine year career, a whopping HALF of those were thrown in the two seasons of 1976 and 1977, with a high of 282.2 in his first year with Cleveland in 1977.
All told he finished with a 55-66 career record along with a 3.89 ERA and 450 strikeouts over 190 games, 121 of them starts, with seven shutouts and six saves.

Friday, October 7, 2022


Greetings everyone! It's that time again!



The newest WTHBALLS custom set is upon us, and it's the "SERIES 11" set continuing my on-going mission to "fill in" the Topps card sets of the 1970s.

Like the first ten series, the set features 15 cards along with a color player glossy insert (reminiscent of the 1970's hockey specials) inside a "WTHBALLS" wrapper.
The "packs" are $13 each plus $4.50 postage. Of course as usual, if you buy more than one set, postage always stays the same at $4.50.
SPOILER ALERT! See photos attached for the cards in this set.
My paypal is the usual:
Thank you all for the continued support and interest!
Be well and safe!


Today's blog post has a 1974 "dedicated rookie" for former slugger Andre Thornton, who made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs during the 1973 season:

Thornton appeared in 17 games for the Cubs that season, hitting an even .200 with seven hits over 35 at-bats, with three runs scored and a couple of runs batted in.
He'd appear in 107 games in 1974, hitting .261 with 10 homers and 46 ribbies while playing both first and third base, and fare even better the following season with a .293 average and 18 homers, with 60 RBIs.
After a stalled season in 1976 when he split the campaign between the Cubs and Montreal Expos, and tragically, an automobile accident that took the life of his daughter and wife, he'd incredibly find his groove with the Cleveland Indians, where he ended up playing the rest of his career until he retired in 1987.
In 1978, 1982 and 1984 he posted 30+ home run seasons, with R.B.I. totals of 105, 116 and 99, earning him some M.V.P. votes each year.
He also won the Roberto Clemente award in 1979 as a player who "exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and team contribution", and a Silver Slugger in 1984 as a designated hitter.
Overall, he finished with 253 home runs, a .254 average and 1342 hits over 5291 at-bats and 1565 games between 1973 and 1987.

Thursday, October 6, 2022


Time to spotlight my 1970 "In-Game Action" card of Baltimore Orioles ace Mike Cuellar from my recent custom series:

The man was as solid as they came over his career, which began in 1959 with the Cincinnati Reds as a 22-year-old.
He ended up putting in a nice 15-year career that saw him win 185 games, post four 20+ win seasons, win a Cy Young Award (shared with Tigers pitcher Denny McLain in 1969) and post four sub-3.00 E.R.A. Seasons.
I never realized that even though he came up in 1959 with the Cincinnati Reds, appearing in two games as a 22-year old, he didn't make it back to the Major's until 1964 at the age of 27, now as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Considering his lifetime win total mentioned above, he could have possibly approached 250 wins had he not missed those four-plus years in the early-1960's.
His lifetime numbers nevertheless were impressive: the 185 wins mentioned above, a 3.14 lifetime E.R.A., 36 shutouts and 1632 strikeouts over 453 games, 379 of which were starts, completing almost half of them with 172.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022


On the blog today, revisiting an old post from August 18th of 2014 celebrating the career of "Little Louie" Aparicio, Hall of Fame shortstop who wrapped up a brilliant career in 1974:

Here's the original write-up:
"Next up on my "Then and Now" Super Veterans thread is Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio.
He actually wrapped up his playing days by the end of the 1973 season, but Topps (for a change) went ahead and issued a card for him in their 1974 edition. So the card I designed was patterned after that year's set.
From the moment he made it to the Majors in 1956 with the Chicago White Sox, Aparicio was a star.
He took home the A.L. Rookie of the Year that season, and proceeded to be an all-star player for most of his 18-year career.
Between 1956 and 1964, nine consecutive years, he led the American League in stolen bases every single season!
As a member of the "Go-Go" 1959 Chicago White Sox he finished second to teammate Nellie Fox for Most Valuable Player, and he'd go on to win nine Gold Glove Awards before hanging up the spikes.
All told he suited up for the White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and Boston Red Sox for the final three years of his illustrious career.
By the time he retired the numbers were solid: 2677 hits, 1335 runs scored, 506 stolen bases and over 10000 at-bats!
It took a few years on the ballot, but he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984."

Tuesday, October 4, 2022


Up on the blog today, thought it'd be fun to create a 1979 "dedicated rookie" for former All-Star catcher Terry Kennedy:

Kennedy made his Big League debut in 1978, appearing in 10 games for the St. Louis Cardinals and hitting .172, with five hits over 29 at-bats.
He'd appear in 33 games during the 1979 season, fairing much better at the plate this time around, hitting .284, including the first two home runs of his career.
In 1980 he'd play in 84 games and hit .254 before finding himself with the San Diego Padres in 1981 where he would become an All-Star, even taking home a Silver Slugger Award in 1983 when he hit .284 with 17 home runs and 98 runs batted in, this after a 1982 season that saw him hit 21 homers with 97 RBI's.
He'd have one more All-Star campaign in 1987 with the Baltimore Orioles, hitting 18 homers with 62 RBIs before wrapping up a nice 14-year career with three seasons for the San Francisco Giants between 1989 and 1991.
All told, he finished with a career .264 average, collecting 1313 hits over 4979 at-bats in 1491 games, hitting 113 homers and driving in 628 runs.



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