…Answering the age-old question, “Who are these guys?”
Bill Greif played 7 of his 231 Major League games with the Astros, but they all came before this card was issued. In December, 1971 he was traded to the Padres where he spent most of his 6-year career.
His first big league victory came in 1971 with the Astros when he entered a game against the Padres in the 20th inning. Something you’ll never see again: the starting pitchers – Ken Forsch and Clay Kirby – went 13 and 15 innings, respectively.
Getting back to Bill Greif; according to the cartoons on his Topps cards, his nickname is “The Texas Tiger” and his hobby is hypnosis. His other cardboard claim to fame comes from having been one of the “Washington Nat’l Lea.” cards in the 1974 set.
J.R. Richard was a heck of a pitcher in the late 1970′s. He won 20 games in 1976 and won 18 games in each of the following three seasons. During two of those seasons, he had 300+ strikeouts. In 1979 he lead the NL in ERA and in 1980 he was a starting pitcher in the 1980 All-Star Game.
Shortly after that All-Star Game, he tragically suffered a stroke that ended his career. He attempted a comeback, but never made it all the way back.
J.R. Richard’s photo on this card intrigues me; his cap is airbrushed in something that approximates orange, but it looks like his jersey says “HOUSTON”. Richard got drafted in 1969, so it’s not a Colt .45 cap. I can only guess that the original photo featured a black Astros cap, and Topps decided that a badly-airbrushed cap was better than an out-of-date cap.
Busse played a grand total of 68 Major League games over three seasons. He was traded to the Cardinals before the 1973 season, and then got traded back to the Astros halfway through the season. He spent all of 1972 playing for AAA Oklahoma City.
Busse also appeared on a 1973 Rookie card with Pepe Frias and Mario Guerrero.
Closest To Being A Star: Although his career was cut short, there’s no question that J.R. Richard was a star.