The 1970’s, A To Z: Buddy Bell To Yogi Berra

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


BUDDY BELL

Played 1972 – 1989
1970’s Teams: Indians, Rangers

1970’s Highlights:
1972 Topps All-Star Rookie outfielder; His first MLB home run was a grand slam; Was an All-Star in 1973 and was named by manager Alvin Dark to the 1975 All-Star team, but Buddy declined, saying that other players deserved it more than he did; Had a career-high 200 hits, 89 runs and 101 RBI in 1979

Career Highlights:
Inducted into Rangers HOF 2004; won six Gold Gloves and was named an All-Star five times

Fun Stuff:
Son of former Major Leaguer Gus Bell; Father of former Major Leaguers Mike Bell and David Bell (who is the current Cincinnati Reds manager); Went to the same Cincinnati high school as Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Larkin and Buddy’s sons.

Card Stuff:
There were no great 1970’s cards of Buddy Bell, so I went with 1975 Hostess


JOHNNY BENCH

Played 1967 – 1983
1970’s Teams: Reds

Career Highlights:
Many say that this Hall-Of-Famer is the greatest catcher of all time;  NL Rookie of the year in 1968;  Holds Reds career records with 389 homers, 1376 RBI and 90 Sac Flies; 10-time Gold Glove;

1970’s Highlights:
National League MVP in 1970 and 1972; was named MVP of the 1976 World Series after going 8 for 15 (.533) with 4 runs, 1 double, 1 triple, 2 homers and 6 RBI;  Started in the All-Star Game from 1970 to 1977 and also in 1979; Lead the league in homers 1970 and 1972, RBI in 1970, 1972 and 1974; Broke Frank Robinson’s record for homers by a Cincinnati Reds player in 1979

Fun Stuff:
Hosted “The Baseball Bunch” and also appeared on “Hee Haw”, “Mission: Impossible”, “The Partridge Family”, “Mr. Belvedere”, “Married… With Children” and other shows.

Card Stuff:
This 1976 Topps card is a lock for anybody’s “Top cards of the 1970s” list;  His 1971 card called him a “future HOFer at 23”;


JUAN BENIQUEZ

Played 1971 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Rangers, Yankees

1970’s Highlights:
Won a Gold Glove with the Rangers in 1977; Traded from Red Sox to Rangers in a deal which brought Fergie Jenkins to Boston; Went from the Rangers to the Yankees in a ten-player trade that also involved Sparky Lyle and then-minor leaguer Dave Righetti; Played for the Red Sox in the 1975 World Series

Career Highlights
Played every position except pitcher and catcher (just one game at 2nd in 1976)

Fun Stuff:
Came up as a shortstop but was converted to an outfielder in 1973; Played in the Senior Professional Baseball Association

Card Stuff:
The featured card is a 1979 Burger King card – his regular 1979 Topps card shows him with the Rangers


DAVE BERGMAN

Played 1975 – 1992
1970’s Teams: Yankees, Astros

1970’s Highlights:
Hit his first Major League home run off of Phil Niekro, September 26, 1979

Career Highlights:
Played in the postseason three times, once with the Astros and twice with the Tigers;

Fun Stuff:
The Yankees protected him in the Expansion Draft for the Blue Jays and Mariners, and then named him as the “player to be named later” in a deal with Houston.

Card Stuff:
If I owned it, the featured card would be a 1978 Burger King Astros card… Bergman appeared in 1978 Topps, but on a four-player Rookie Outfielders card and airbrushed into an Astros cap; Appeared with the Yankees in the 1976 SSPC set (again, one I don’t have yet)


YOGI BERRA

Played 1946 – 1965
Managed 1964, 1972 – 1975, 1984 – 1985
1970’s Teams: Mets

1970’s Highlights:
In 1973 he became the second manager to ever win a pennant in both leagues when his 82-79 Mets upset the Big Red Machine in the NLCS, then took the A’s to 7 games before losing; Was named the Mets manager before the 1972 season when Gil Hodges suffered a fatal heart attack while playing golf in Florida; After being fired by the Mets late in the 1975 season, Yogi became a coach for the Yankees in 1976 and was in uniform throughout the 1970s.

Career Highlights (As a player):
Inducted into Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1972; Three-time MVP, Eighteen-time All-star, ten-time World Champion

Update:
I originally had semi-intentionally not mentioned Yogi’s son Dale under the mistaken idea that he did not play in the Majors in the 1970’s… but I was wrong, and so…

In 1975, Yogi’s son Dale was drafted 20th overall by the Pirates. He made his MLB debut in 1977, split time between the Bucs and AAA in 1978 and 1979, and in the 1980s he played for the Pirates, Yankees and (very briefly) Astros. Since Dale’s only 1970’s card was a shared 1979 Topps “Pirates Prospects” card, this is likely the last mention of Dale Berra in this series.

Card Stuff:
Yogi’s son Tim, a wide receiver with the Baltimore Colts, has a card in 1975 Topps Football.

Getting A Head Start On My 2021 Projects

At the last show I went to, which was about 6 weeks ago, I went in hoping to make progress on a bunch of projects I’ve got underway.  Of course, I made no progress at all because the dealers at this show had few of the cards I was looking for.

…But they did have some deals on other cards which made me think “Well, the next time I’m looking for a project, I could do a lot worse than this…”

That’s what this post is about.

For starters, I got this 1965 Topps Brooks Robinson card for a pretty good price.


I really like the 1965 Topps set.  I’ve already completed the Mets team set and it didn’t take much convincing to get me to commit to eventually chasing the Orioles team set.

HOWEVER… This project will not be what many collectors consider to be a complete team set, because the “1964 League Leaders” cards are heavily laden with HOFers. Card #1 in the set is the AL Batting Leaders card which features Tony Oliva, Brooks Robinson and Elston Howard.

1965 Topps - [Base] #1 - American League 1964 Batting Leaders (Tony Oliva, Brooks Robinson, Elston Howard) - Courtesy of COMC.com

1965 Topps – [Base] #1 – American League 1964 Batting Leaders (Tony Oliva, Brooks Robinson, Elston Howard) – Courtesy of COMC.com


This card isn’t a problem… it’s affordable and I like all three players to varying degrees.

Then we get to card #3, AL Home Run Leaders, which has Harmon Killebrew, Boog Powell and *GULP* Mickey Mantle.

1965 Topps - [Base] #3 - American League Home Run Leaders (Harmon Killebrew, Boog Powell, Mickey Mantle) - Courtesy of COMC.com

1965 Topps – [Base] #3 – American League Home Run Leaders (Harmon Killebrew, Boog Powell, Mickey Mantle) – Courtesy of COMC.com


That square inch of The Mick is likely going to make this subset be out of my range.

There’s also Card #5 – RBI leaders which has Brooks, Killebrew and Mantle again.

1965 Topps - [Base] #5 - Brooks Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew, Dick Stuart - Courtesy of COMC.com

1965 Topps – [Base] #5 – Brooks Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew, Dick Stuart – Courtesy of COMC.com

There’s another League Leader card featuring Wally Bunker plus four other non-HOFers, but you get the picture. Long and short of it is that unless I find league leader cards where someone drew a monacle on Mickey, I’m not going to sweat it.

Another dealer at the same show happened to have cheap 1964 Orioles, including this card where future 20 game winner Dave McNally is sporting a one-year cap style. The O’s without a bird on the cap? Say it ain’t so, Joe! Say it ain’t so!

It doesn’t hurt to also pick up HOFer Robin Roberts, who at this point had his 20-win seasons in the rear view mirror.

I also picked up this Jackie Brandt card and six other cards that I’ll spare you from.

I still would need to get Brooks, Boog and Luis Aparicio, but hey, it’s a start.

Back in the 1970’s, when I still liked the Yankees, I used to enjoy the Yanks’ broadcast team of Phil Rizzuto, Frank Messer and Bill White. Whenever I run across an affordable Bill White card, I’ll think “Bill White, I like Bill White” and throw it on my stack… I probably should just go ahead and officially declare him to be someone I collect… or will collect in 2021.

Same goes for Vic Power, except I’m not really quite sure why I like Vic Power… I just do.

Finally, I’m really leaning towards starting something of a Houston Colt .45’s collection… but only those cards which show the uniform. I’ve got enough capless Mets from 1962 Topps, I don’t need to be adding capless Colts to the picture.

Bob Lillis was an original Colt .45 who would move up in the organization and become the Astros manager in 1982.

This last card still freaks me out a little bit, because to my 1970s-centric mind Dave Giusti is a Pirate and should always be wearing a gold and black Pirates cap. (I would like to draw your attention to the crude “45” on the cap in the black and white insert picture)

I just learned two fun Dave Giusti facts while doing some quick research:
1) Before pitching for the Houston Colt 45’s in 1962, he pitched for the AAA Houston Buffs in 1961
2) Giusti was traded to the Cardinals in October, 1968 and three days later was taken by the Padres in the expansion draft. He appeared on a 1969 card as a Padre (in an Astros uniform with a blacked-out cap), but didn’t even get to Spring Training with the Padres… in December 1968 the Cards traded four players to San Diego to get Giusti back.

Good Things Come In Wacky Packages

The original run of Topps Wacky Packages was from 1973 to 1976, which is pretty much my sweet spot as far as being a kid goes. Like many of my friends and school mates, I spent a lot of my allowance on Wacky Packs. Unfortunately for “21st Century Me”, what “1970s Me” did was to do what all kids do with stickers: I stuck them, mostly to my loose leaf binder (and I still have the cover).

My baseball cards were well taken care of when I was a kid, so Wacky Packages are my “If I had only…” regret from childhood.

When I was at a show in January, there was a dealer who had Wacky Packs, but unfortunately I didn’t find them until late in the show when I was nearly out of time and money.  I picked up four Wackies, one of which turned out to be a double (and already featured on this blog a few years ago).

“Commie” was one I had stuck to my binder.

“Sootball”, which is based on the 1974 Topps Football wrapper, was a new one to me.

“Ajerx” is a long-time favorite… The jerk on the label reminds me of someone I know, which just adds to my amusement.

When I got these stickers home I decided that it was time to at least start a checklist, even if I wasn’t necessarily going to make a project out of these.  In the process of getting the information from TradingCardDB, I was surprised by how many Wackies there were.  In those four years there were 16 series, each roughly 30 stickers, for a total (by my count) of 494 stickers.  Damn, that’s a lot. If I decided that I was going to chase them all, I would be 1.5% of the way towards my goal.  At this point, I’m thinking that I might just try to find all of the ones I had back then, and leave it at that.

 

Curling Customs: My Latest Batch For The Winter Olympic Sport

I posted a couple of these on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, and at the time I was going to  post them here after I’d made a bunch during and following the pending World Championships.  Well, it should come as a surprise to nobody that the World Championships were canceled, so I ended up being a little short on images, especially for the U.S. curlers.  I’m also finding that non-Canadian curling news is hard to come by, and I’ll get into that in a bit.

So the general idea was to make a Goudey-esque custom card featuring top curlers of the 2019-20 season, plus some favorites.  It’s still officially a work in progress, but things have definitely slowed a lot.


When it comes to international competition, I often root for Sweden, even though I’ve not a drop of Swedish blood in my veins.  It mostly comes from the Winter Olympics, where I’ve always enjoyed the Swedish style of hockey, and now it’s spread into curling… I’m not a huge fan of Niklas Edin’s team, but they’re up there in my personal rankings. Team Edin won the 2019 European Curling Championship this past December.

Same is true for Anna Hasselborg;  I have to say, the the finals of the Women’s European Championship was fun to watch.

I think the last major event of the 2019-20 season was the Tim Horton’s Brier (the Men’s Canadian championship).  Team Brad Gushue walked away with the cup for the third time.

On the women’s side, Team Kerri Einarson won the Scotties.  I didn’t know a lot about Einarson going into this season, so I don’t have much else to say…

John Shuster is probably the closest there currently is to a household name in the US, thanks to his team’s Olympic Gold Medal in 2018.  Team Shuster won the US Men’s Championship in February.

Tabitha Peterson, who took over as skip when Nina Roth went out on maternity leave, won the US Women’s Championship.

In poking around on my usual curling websites (all Canadian), I found out that Chelsea Carey, whose team won the Scotties in 2019, is now a free agent as her team has disbanded.

And on the American side, three-time US championship winning skip Jamie Sinclair is also a free agent, after her team dissolved… but because I don’t know of any good US Curling news sources, I don’t know what happened.

I’m intrigued because Jamie tweeted out “Good luck to Team Christensen next season”, which implies that Cory Christensen left Team Sinclair to form her own team again.  If it were just her, though, Team Sinclair could continue.  Did they all go their own separate ways?  Is Team Christensen basically Team Sinclair without Jamie?  I’ve been trying all morning to find out, but had no luck.

BTW, if anybody knows a good website or Twitter account I could use to keep up on USA Curling news, I’d appreciate it if you’d tip me off in the comments!

As for these customs… I may have another small batch coming.  If you have any requests, I’m all ears (conditional, of course, on my being able to find decent images of the curler in question).

 

The 1970’s, A To Z: Jim Beattie To Mark Belanger

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


JIM BEATTIE

Played 1978 – 1986
1970’s teams: Yankees

1970’s highlights
As a rookie in 1978, he started games in the 1978 ALCS and World Series… Beat the Royals in Game 1 of the ALCS and pitched a CG with 8 K’s to put Yanks ahead 3 games to 2 vs. Dodgers… Yanks would win in 6; Gave up Carl Yastrzemski’s 3000th hit in 1979

Fun Stuff
After his career, had several front office jobs including GM of the Expos;

Card Stuff
This card looks like Beattie’s 1979 Topps rookie card, but it’s actually his 1979 Burger King card, which was cropped slightly differently than the Topps card. Beattie’s three very similar 1979 cards can be most easily distinguished by the card number (Topps #179, Burger King #7, O-Pee-Chee #86) and, of course, by the O-Pee-Chee logo on the front of his 1979 OPC card.


JIM BEAUCHAMP

Played 1963 – 1973
1970’s Teams: Astros, Cardinals, Mets

1970’s Highlights
His last career appearances came in the 1973 World Series, where the Mets lost to the A’s. Beauchamp was released during Spring Training the following year.

Fun Stuff
Was the last New York Met to wear #24 before the Mets acquired Willie Mays, and switched to #5 which was worn later by David Wright – both numbers stand a decent chance of being retired some day; Operated a cattle ranch in the off season

Card Stuff
I like this 1973 card because there’s a lot going on, even if it’s not a great picture; Also appeared on a 1974 card, which came out after his final career games


GLENN BECKERT

Played 1965 – 1975
1970’s Teams: Cubs, Padres

1970’s Highlights
Was the starting NL 2nd baseman in the 1970 and 1971 All-Star games, and was also an All-Star in 1972; Involved in a Triple play vs. Pirates 7/2/72; his .342 average was good for 3rd in the NL in 1971

Card Stuff
That’s Dodgers catcher Duke Sims making a cameo appearance on Beckert’s 1973 card, which means the photo was taken before Sims went to the Tigers on a waiver claim on 8/4/72

Beckert was involved in a November 1973 trade for Jerry Morales, and for reasons unknown both players were listed with their new teams in the 1974 Topps set, but neither was airbrushed; Appeared on one of the “Washington Nat’l. Lea.” cards in 1974


FRED BEENE

Played 1968 – 1975
1970’s Teams: Orioles, Yankees, Indians

1970’s Highlights
Beene went 6-0, 1.68 in 1973 with Yanks

Fun Stuff
Beene is just 5’9″, which is unusually short for a pitcher; Legal first name is actually Freddy; Spent 8 seasons in O’s farm system; Nephew Andy pitched 6 games for the Brewers in the 1980’s… Rick Waits, Rick Manning, and Jim Kern all played with both Fred and Andy Beene


MARK BELANGER

Played: 1965 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Orioles

1970’s Highlights
An All-Star in 1976, Belanger also won eight Gold Gloves; Made two putouts in Triple Play vs Royals, 6/3/77

Career Highlights
A excellent fielding but not so great hitting shortstop, Belanger has the American League record by being pinch hit for 333 times; Inducted into O’s HOF 1983; Played in four World Series and six League Championship Series

Fun Stuff
Belanger’s wife Dee had originally sugggested “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” be played at Memorial Stadium, which would become a 7th inning stretch tradition in Baltimore.

Card Stuff
The baserunner on Belanger’s 1973 card appears to be Indians infielder Jack Brohamer.


Thinking Too Much About 2020 Heritage

This type of post has become somewhat of a tradition for me…  I did it for both 2018 and 2019 Heritage, and I do it again now.

What “it” is would be me slicing and dicing scans of 2020 Heritage and comparing them in different ways to the originals… and in a couple of places, I’ll also be comparing them to 2002 Upper Deck Vintage, which did their own little riff on 1971 Topps/O-Pee-Chee.

So here we have Heritage, 1971 and Vintage.  As you can see, UD covered their copyright asses a little by putting the team and player name at the bottom, as well as making some other tweaks.

One thing I’ve noticed since I started doing this “series” is that, for some reason, the space devoted to photos in Heritage is just a little bit smaller than it is on the original, and many of the design elements are also smaller.  Here’s an example where I took “strips” of a Heritage image and laid them over an original 1971 card, adjusting so that the bottom edge of the white “frame” on both cards is in alignment.

You can see that the white frame – and as a result the photo inside the white frame – is a bit smaller on the Heritage card which shows a head shot of Marcus Stroman than for the 1971 action shot of Ray Sadecki.  Interestingly enough, notice that the text is also a bit closer to the white frame, and the two lines of text are a little closer to each other than on the original.  This is something I’ve noticed three years running – the overall portion of the card which is taken up by photo and design is juuuuuuuust a little bit smaller on Heritage than on the originals.  While we don’t have anywhere near as much miscuts as we did back in the day, one would think that having 21st century technology and lasers and such would allow card makers to push the envelope more than they could back in the day, but it does seem like Topps allows for a slightly wider “margin” around the edge of the card.  It seems counter intuitive given that we have borderless cards with no apparent problems, but there you are.

One other thing I noticed, which is exaggerated by my scanner washing colors out a bit – the cyan of the original is more “cyan-y” than the Heritage.

The white frame is a little bit narrower on Heritage as well;  in the image below, I lined up the left edges of the white frame and then used a green line to extend the right-hand edge of the Heritage white frame.  This also gives a decent illustration of how there’s a little more black side-to-side in Heritage than the original.

Just for fun, I did a similar “cross-section” image, only this time I adjusted the two designs so that the word “METS” is closely aligned as could be:

This gives a better image of how the text takes up less space on Heritage than on the original…  So to hit those points again, both the photo and design portions of the Heritage card take up less space than on the originals.  It’s not much less, but it is less.

One final analysis of the heading of all three:

Although the team font is very close, you can see that the font used by Upper Deck was a closer match than Heritage (which is a little bit “chunkier”).  Note also that the font used for the name/position is not quite the same either… Compare the R’s, S’s and C’s above.  For example the horizontal part of the lower-case “r” is stubbier in Heritage than on the original.  It’s close enough for government work, but not quite the same.

Moving on to a quick comparison of the backs…

Like the fronts, the backs of the Heritage card were printed a little smaller than the original, and it’s only partly because of the larger amount of small print on the side.  Meanwhile the UD Vintage cards used the 1971 backs but with the OPC yellow, which is sooooo, sooooo much easier to read.  I know it goes against everything Topps is shooting for, but I do wish they’d used the 1971 O-Pee-Chee backs when making this Heritage set.

More analysis of the backs, aligning by the bottom of the stat box…

…and just presenting the Heritage back overlaying the original back so that you can see how he boxes are smaller and squished up by the legal stuff on the right.

Let’s do some quickie comparison of other cards, starting with the AL ERA Leaders, both card #67…It’s interesting how “AMERICAN LEAGUE” is italicized on the 2020 card.  Also, you can see how the player name and team text is shorter and often narrower in Heritage.  Those of you who have middle-aged eyes, take comfort… Topps isn’t taking it easy on us.

“Rookie Stars” cards for the White Sox;  both of these are card #13 and both feature a catcher and pitcher.  Aside from the beating-a-dead-horse differences I’d already mentioned, these match up nicely.

Maybe Heritage has always done this and I hadn’t noticed, but I both love and hate the fact that the rookie stars are of the same position as the original card.  The hate part comes from the idea that Topps might shoehorn a marginal prospect into this subset because, for example, a shortstop prospect is needed to maintain continuity but the team in question doesn’t have a good shortstop prospect, so they use some fringe-y guy who may never appear on cardboard again.

Two ALCS cards, but in 1971 you could get away with saying “A.L. PLAYOFFS”.  Again, you can see how the cyan is deeper in 1971 than in Heritage.  Also, “WORLD SERIES” is italicized, I wonder if it has anything to do with the phrase being trademarked.

If this were me designing these Heritage cards, I would’ve softened the focus on the 2019 Astros photo to make it look more like the original

World Series Game #4…  You know the drill by now… Smaller picture, more black, wordier at the bottom with a narrower font.

Two horizontal Angels, both card #360.  I’m mildly annoyed that with all the space that a horizontal card provides, they still went with Andrelton Simmons being a “ss” instead of a “shortstop”

One last card which I’m featuring because it’s probably my favorite card out of 2002 UD Vintage… Gotta love Cal standing in the on-deck circle with the Warehouse in the background.

Just like the last two years, I’d like to thank you for reading through my long ramblings about Heritage. Maybe I think too much for my own good… Some people say so. Other people say “No, no… The fact is you don’t think as much as you could.”

Hm.

George Blanda Was SOOOOOOOOO Old…

GENE RAYBURN: George Blanda was SOOOOOO old…

MATCH GAME STUDIO AUDIENCE: HOW OLD WAS HE?

GENE RAYBURN:  …He was so old, that when he first played football, the cheerleaders were [blank] !

When I was a kid back in 1975, nobody on my baseball and football cards seemed older to me than George Blanda… who, somehow, was an active quarterback and kicker at the same time he was terribly old.

…Except maybe Reds manager Sparky Anderson, who was also terribly, terribly old in my preteen eyes.

I can’t remember what it was that got me wondering this, but I recently pondered the age-old old-age question… Just who was older, Blanda or Anderson?

Towards the end of 1975, as baseball season transitioned to football season…

Sparky Anderson was 41 years old (born February 22, 1934)

…while George Blanda was 48 years old (born September 17, 1927).

And there you have it, the grey-haired active NFL player was older than the white-haired MLB manager.

Full disclosure… right now, in 2020, I am older than either of these “very old” gentlemen were in 1975.  Furthermore, someone who remembers what it’s like to be 48 years old, I think of George Blanda playing in the NFL and I say “DAAAAAAAYAMN!!!!”

(For anyone who is wondering about the Gene Rayburn custom, that one dates back to 2013 when I was actively poking fun at A&G with my “Simon & Gintfunkel” customs.)

Before we leave off, I invite everyone to leave your answer to the “Match Game question” in the comments.  I have one in mind, but I’ll hold off for now to let you think up your own.

Once again… George Blanda was so old, that when he first played football, the cheerleaders were [blank] !