I’ve been featuring 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball cards for a while, and usually when I write one of these posts I’ll feature the OPC card and the corresponding Topps card. This time around, however, I won’t be featuring the Topps card… because there isn’t one. Not a direct corollary, anyway.
We’ll start off with the Blue Jays Coaches card. These guys did share a Topps card with Blue Jays manager Roy Hartsfield, but they get more “real estate” in O-Pee-Chee.
First Base coach Don Leppert was a catcher who broke into the Majors with the 1961 Pirates as a 29-year-old rookie. Two years later, he’d be an All-Star with the “New” Senators, aided by a relatively hot first half.
Pitching coach Bob Miller is “Righty Bob Miller” who pitched for 10 different teams from 1957 to 1974… including with the 1962 Mets where he was a teammate of “Lefty Bob Miller” (as I talked about here a couple of weeks ago).
Third base coach Jackie Moore played just 21 games in 1965 with the Tigers, but he was a long-time coach with the Brewers, Rangers, Jays, A’s, Expos, Reds and Rockies. He also managed the A’s in the mid-1980’s
Bullpen coach Harry Warner was a long-term minor leaguer who never made it to the Majors.
This leaves out the hitting coach, who is probably the most accomplished and well-known of the bunch.
Bobby Doerr, who would later be inducted into the Hall of Fame and have his #1 retired by the Red Sox, was the hitting coach for the Blue Jays for their first couple of seasons, and yet he wasn’t included on this card. I have a theory – or a guess, depending on how you want to look at it – as to why this was… but first I have a couple of more scans to show you.
First off, here is the back of this card. “Instructeur” sounds a lot more impressive than “Coach”, but I guess that’s the case with a lot of job titles when translated into French.
Here’s the Topps card which shows the Jays’ field staff: Manager Roy Hartsfield and the same four coaches.
OK, now it’s time for my theory: In 1977, Doerr had been out of baseball for a number of years, so it’s not unreasonable to think that Topps didn’t include him on their card because they didn’t have any photos to use. As a result, the bullpen coach who would be largely unknown to most fans gets priority over someone who, as a player, had started for thirteen years and been an All-Star for nine. Later, when O-Pee-Chee made their version of the set and presumably had photos of all of the Jays’ coaches, they followed Topps’ lead, used these four coaches and left out Doerr. Again, this is only a theory.
Because we’re talking field staff and I haven’t shown this card in 3 years, here’s the O-Pee-Chee card that features just manager Roy Hartsfield and his non-airbrushed uniform:
Moving on to the other “card without peer”… This is Doug Howard’s only mainstream baseball card, made even more interesting by the fact that he never played for the Blue Jays in a regular season game.
Howard played a few handfuls of games for the Angels, Cardinal and Indians, and was one of the first players obtained by the Jays when he was acquired with Alan Ashby in a 11/5/1976 trade with the Indians. Howard, however, got cut just before the Blue Jays broke camp, and he never made it back to the majors.
Here’s the back of his card.
After being cut by the Blue Jays, Howard’s career was over even though he was just 29 years old.
Update: Apparently today is Bobby Doerr Day, because by sheer coincidence, When Topps Had (Base) Balls is featuring a 1979 Topps custom of Bobby Doerr with the Blue Jays. I swear we did not coordinate on this one!