And Now For Something Completely Different: 1979 TCMA Japanese Baseball

I felt the need to post something a bit different today, so I went poking around my folders full of scanned card images to see if anything jumped out at me.  I ran across a bunch of scans from my 1979 TCMA Japan Pro Baseball set, and I knew that it was the kind of thing I was looking for.

These cards are from a 90 card set which, intentional or not, ended up being a one-time endeavor.  The set featured current-at-the-time players and managers from both the Central and Pacific Leagues in Nippon Pro Baseball, and today I’m going to feature four American players.

Bobby Mitchell started off in the Red Sox organization, was selected by the Yankees in the Rule V Draft, and was later traded to the Brewers.  He’d spend 4 seasons with Milwaukee before going to Japan.
Mitchell played 4 years with the Fighters, batting .250 with 113 homers, 255 runs and 294 RBI.

Dave Hilton was the first overall pick in the January, 1971 draft, and made it to the Padres in short order.  He’s one of the players who got the “Washington Nat’l Lea.” treatment in 1974.
Hilton played in 1978 and 1979 with the Swallows, being named to the Central League’s 1978 “Best Nine” team and playing in that year’s Japan Series.  In 1980, he would play for the guy on the next card…

Don Blasingame played 12 seasons with the Cards, Senators, Reds, Giants and A’s, and then had a second career in Japan;  he spent 14  years there playing, coaching and managing.
Blasingame managed the Tigers in 1979 and 1980, and then managed the Nankai Hawks for two years.

When I was a teenager I loved these Hanshin Tigers caps and would’ve killed for one.  I never did get one, but I still ponder it sometime (but it would have to be one like this with a yellow bill and yellow and white logo).

Adrian Garrett played for the Braves, Cubs, A’s and Angels over 8 seasons and only made it into 163 games over those 8 seasons.  He played 3 years in Japan, hit 102 homers, scored 193 runs and drove in 247 more.
He’s also the older brother of former Mets/Expos infielder Wayne Garrett.

So there you go… Nobody remotely resembling a Hall-Of-Famer today, but hopefully some of you are also open to a change of pace.

Clickbait: These Insane Sports Facts Will Leave You Speechless!

Keep in mind that after you’ve nodded off, you’re technically speechless.

The 1962 Mets had two pitchers named Bob Miller – one righty and one lefty…
Both Bob Millers ended their career with the Mets; Lefty Robert G. Miller (card on the right) after 1962, and Righty Robert L. Miller (card on the left) in a second stint with the Mets after 1974.
1974 Topps Bob Miller
In all, there have been four Bob Millers to play in the Majors.

As long as I’m posting this 1974 Bob Miller card, and as my original post about it was 4 years ago when I had three readers (as opposed to the 15 or 16 I have today), this Bob Miller card is interesting because you can tell from the guys behind him that he was a Pirate when the photo was taken, but his collar is airbrushed red and black.  Well, in between the Pirates and Mets, Bob pitched for the Padres and Tigers… so I’m thinking they at least started to airbrush him into a Tigers uniform, and then realized they had to make him a Met instead.

The 2000 Mets had two pitchers named Bobby Jones – one righty and one lefty…

In all, there have been four Bob/Bobby Jones to play in the Majors.

Sparky Anderson’s craggy face and white hair made him seem ancient to me when I was a kid in the 1970’s…
…But the truth is that he was no more than 43 years old when this photo was taken!  (And current-day, 51-year-old me says “Well, shoot, he doesn’t look THAT old…”)

The New York Islanders currently play in Brooklyn, which is geographically on the western end of Long Island. The Islanders’ logo features a “map” of Long Island which reflects what people think of as “Long Island”: the two counties (Nassau & Suffolk) east of the New York City line. The upshot of all this is that when the Islanders moved to Brooklyn, they essentially moved out of their own logo!

Just for fun — and because I was procrastinating something I really should’ve been doing instead – I created a version of their logo which has been “extended” to include their new home.
I’ll wrap up with another “insane fact” about the logo… The top of the “I” in “ISLANDERS” points to the location of its original home, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY.

My Vintage Willie Mays Collection (Population 5)

Yardwork, a dead kitchen appliance and other things are taking up a bunch of my time, so I’m going to keep things short today, sharing all five of my vintage (1973 and earlier) Willie Mays cards, in reverse chronological order.

1973 Topps Willie Mays
The black armband was for Mets manager Gil Hodges, who died of a heart attack in early April, 1972.

1973 All Time HR Leaders_0001
Don’t knock it, the price was right.

1972 Topps Willie Mays IA
Other than this card, the 1956 card and a couple of cards that feature “The Catch” from the 1954 World Series, are there any other vintage Mays cards which feature game action?

1972 Topps Willie Mays

1968 Topps Game Willie Mays
This one is a fairly-recent acquisition, I bought it during my quest for the 1968 Topps Game insert set. This is going to stay my oldest Willie Mays card until I manage to track down a 1964 Topps Giant in my budget (Dang short prints!)

2016/17 Hot Stove – A Box Of Sugar Papi Cereal, And…

There was a clearance sale on Sugar Papi cereal down at the Virt-U-L-Mart.  I wonder why they would be clearing out their stock of a David Ortiz-themed cereal?
Back in September, during the Red Sox’ last visit to Baltimore, the Orioles presented Ortiz with a charitable donation of $10,000 and the Camden Yards dugout phone that Ortiz had smashed with a bat in 2013.  Ortiz apparently didn’t appreciate the phone, although nothing was said at the time.  I will admit that the gifts didn’t compare favorably to the gifts given by the O’s to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, but I also got the impression that it was something of a pushback against having to figure out the appropriate gift for rival players, none of whom are suffering from any kind of financial hardship.  Maybe the next HOF to retire can keep their plans to themselves at least until his team’s last homestand.

I guess we can be thankful that baseball players have only one farewell tour, unlike certain rock bands…

OK, enough grumbling from me.  Let’s see who we’ve pulled out of our cereal box.

Josh Reddick turned a career-best .281 average and a not-career-best 53 runs and 37 RBI into a four-year, $52M deal with the Astros. Of course, Reddick is also a former Gold Glove winner and brings more to the table than the baseline stats would indicate.

One thing I hadn’t thought of when I chose the 1970 Kellogg’s design for the 2016/17 TSR Hot Stove set is that the baseball icon really gets in the way.  I like the way it looks when I’m done, but I have to be judicious when I select a photo to use and it can be a mild pain in the butt… This is all a long-way-’round way of saying that I probably wouldn’t have used this Reddick photo if I were paying tribute to a different Kellogg’s set, but I’m happy with the results.

That being said, be prepared for a lot of batting poses this winter.


Culture Time: “A Goldsmith In His Shop” (This *IS* Baseball Related. Trust Me.)

I have a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  I’d had some thoughts that it wouldn’t hurt for me to get all cultured up in 2016.

Yesterday’s calendar page featured this detail of a 15th century painting by Petrus Christus called “A Goldsmith In His Shop”:


My immediate reaction upon seeing the goldsmith (in red):  “Heh, it’s Justin Verlander!”

The woman on the left might be a 15th century Kate Upton, saying “Verily, kind goldsmith, thou didst get shafted in that Cy Young voting most foul!”

…and the gentleman in back is thinking “Sorry, dude… but  I would’ve given the Cy to Zach Britton…”

To further broaden your cultural horizons, I would like to share some additional examples of fine art…

This first piece is by R.G. Laughlin and is titled “Mets Amaze Baseball World”.
This, so far, is the only card I have from the 1971 Fleer World Series set. You can easily tell the difference between the 1970 and 1971 sets by the MLB logo and year on the card (1971), rather than the year inside a baseball (1970).

Next up is a fine example of portraiture by Dick Perez, circa 1983.
Perez was well known during that period for his series of popular “Diamond Kings” paintings.

Of the finer paintings commissioned by Topps in 2002 is this Ron Stark painting of Frank Robinson from his time with the Cincinnati Reds:
If the entire 2002 Topps Gallery set were like this, I would be enthusiastically working on a complete set, but too many of the paintings were full-length action shots which kind of minimize the appeal of paintings as opposed to photographs.

This final painting, one by Richard Sudell, was acquired not for it’s baseball connection, but for it’s relevance to a particular episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (as well as the “Monty Python’s Previous Record” LP).

It’s from the 50-card “Garden Flowers” series created by Wills’ Cigarettes in 1939… It’s one of the oldest trading cards I own… and it features…

If you’re not into Monty Python, this will likely result in a shrug on your part.

If you are a fan of Python, then join in as I sing…
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, Riding through the night
Soon every lupin in the land will be in his mighty hand
He steals them from the rich, and gives them to the poor
Mister Moore! Lupin donor… Extra-or…….dinary

And with that, we conclude this edition of Culture Time. Don’t you feel so much better for the experience?

That’s what I thought.

Inspired By Cyber Monday:  More 1961 Topps Sports Cars

Late on Cyber Monday, I capped off my COMC shopping spree by inching closer to a complete set of 1961 Topps Sports Cars, an all-time favorite non-sports set of mine… And from reactions I’ve gotten when I’ve shared these in the past, many of you enjoy these cards as well.

Of course, those cards I just bought haven’t even been packed up and shipped out yet… But it made me realize that it’s been quite a while since I shared any of those cards here.  So, without any further ado, here are several 1961 Sports Cars which I got earlier this year.

My Maserati does one-eighty-five
I lost my license, now I don’t drive
– Joe Walsh, “Life’s Been Good”
This Maserati put out 190 horsepower, according to the specs on the back.  My Mazda has nearly that much… but I’m guessing the weight-to-horsepower ratio of the Maserati is a lot more impressive.

The back of this next card mentions this Mercedes winning a world championship in 1955. Unmentioned is the fact that a 300 SLR was involved in one of the most horrific accidents in motorsports history… Something I knew nothing about until I researched this post.
I won’t get into the details – you can find information easily enough by searching on “1955 Le Mans disaster” – but an accident during the 24 Hours Of Le Mans resulted in the death of the driver and over 80 spectators, plus 120 injuries. Mercedes dropped out of direct involvement with racing for over 30 years. Switzerland banned auto racing, something that still stands today.

The specs listed for this Moretti coupe state that it had 45 horsepower and a top speed of 65 MPH… I guess maybe it was one of those situations like they say where it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow.
The card back also refers to the car being “quite small” and “expensive for its size”. For me, “Moretti” makes me think of a character from the now-cancelled TV show “Perception”; Rachael Leigh Cook played an FBI agent named Kate Moretti.  At 5’2″, she could also be considered quite small, but I don’t know whether she’s expensive for her size.

In a prior post featuring these cards, someone asked if there were any American cars featured.  The answer is “Yes, but not many”.  Here’s one of them, the Corvette “Stingray” concept.

…although the card itself doesn’t reference it as a concept, just that “1961 model road Corvettes look a bit like this car”.

As for the small number of American cars in this set, I would guess that a large reason was that Topps wanted to keep things exotic.  Even the two Corvettes included were the above concept and a racing version.  I also don’t think there were a lot of American cars of the day which would qualify as sports cars.  The Ford Thunderbird could have been one.  Other than that, I’m not sure.  Keep in mind that in 1961 was a few years before Mustangs, Camaros and GTO’s were introduced.


1976 SSPC: Joe Hoerner, Lou Piniella And Ted Martinez

Today’s first card is one of the most famous – or infamous? – cards in the 1976 SSPC set. Joe Hoerner was a reliever who pitched 493 games in the Majors and none of them were starts. He made the All-Star game with the Phillies in 1970, won a World Series with the 1967 Cardinals, and pitched until he was 40.
This card shows Hoerner in his second stint with the Phils; the first was from 1970 to 1972, and the second stint was just for the 1975 season. He signed as a free agent with the Rangers for the 1976 season.

Baseball-card-wise, Hoerner shared two “Rookie Stars” cards with players from two different teams. He was on a 1964 Colt .45’s Rookie Stars card and a 1966 St. Louis Cardinals Rookie Stars card.

Ted Martinez is known to Mets fans as a promising infielder who couldn’t break through, and to Dodger fans as a versatile utility player.  He also put in short stints with the Cardinals and A’s.
Teddy didn’t play for the A’s in 1976; he was released in May, signed with the Reds and spent the season at AAA Indianapolis. After the season he was taken by the Dodgers in the Rule V draft, which made me do a double-take. These days players taken in the Rule V draft are guys in the minors who haven’t even sniffed the Majors, and here’s Ted Martinez being drafted after parts of 6 seasons with several teams.  I’m guessing that part of the difference is that guys like Ted Martinez would more likely be a free agent these days than be on someone’s AAA roster.

Lou Piniella is generally associated with the Yankees from his 11 years in the Yankees outfield and his 2.5 seasons managing the Bronx Bombers, that it’s easy to forget that his biggest accomplishments as a player – Rookie Of The Year, All-Star appearnace – came with the Royals.
Piniella played 4 games with the Orioles in 1964, 6 games with the Indians in 1968 and was taken by the Seattle Pilots in the 1969 expansion draft. Just before the season, Piniella was traded to the Royals for John Gelnar and Steve Whitaker. Piniella was the Rookie Of The Year.

In between his debut and his official rookie season, Piniella played three years with the AAA Portland Beavers.

Royals fans must know this but I didn’t; Piniella batted leadoff on opening day, hit a double in his first at-bat and was driving in by #2 batter Jerry Adair… meaning that Piniella had the first hit, double and run of Royals history.


I’m pretty sure Joe Hoerner’s at Shea, but I’m not confident.  The other two I have no doubts about.

Shea: 65
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 12
Can’t tell: 19
Not Shea: 8

1970’s Census: Keeping track of all the instances of 1970’s trends

I’m putting Hoerner and Piniella down for sideburns, and since Lou’s hair touches his collar, I’ll label that as long.

Total Cards: 103
1970’s Sideburns: 58
Fu Manchu: 4
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 36
Afro: 1
Perm: 2
Aviators: 8
Long Hair: 26