Random Team Review: 1976 Topps California Angels


The 1976 California Angels went 76-86 under Dick Williams and Norm Sherry.  They finished tied with the Rangers for 4th place, 14 games behind the division champion Royals.

BEST POSITION PLAYER, BEST ROOKIE CARD:

There wasn’t a player with truly outstanding offensive stats, so I skipped past Bobby Bonds, Tommy Davis and Tony Solaita and went with…

…Jerry Remy? In terms of WAR, absolutely. The 1976 Angels in general did not put up much in the way of offensive numbers.  Jerry Remy played 2nd base while leading the team with 132 hits, 64 runs, 35 stolen bases and and 152 total bases.

BEST PITCHER:

SURPRISE!!!! It’s not Nolan Ryan!

Frank Tanana was 22 years old and dominated the American League, going 19-10 with a 2.43 ERA, 261 K’s and a league-leading 0.988 WHIP.

FAVORITE CARD:

I just like this posed shot… It doesn’t hurt that I like Mickey Rivers as well.  Mick The Quick wasn’t with the Angels in 1976, having been traded to the Yankees in the offseason.

BEST NAME:

Morris Nettles had appeared in 112 games in 1975 but never played in the Majors after that.

He appeared in the 1976 Traded set after being traded with Jim Spencer to the White Sox for Bill Melton and Steve Dunning, but he never played in the Majors for the ChiSox. Nettles spent 1976 in AAA and the following six years in the Mexican League.

WHO DIS?

New category this time around, because I was going through these cards (and I’ve had all of these Angels cards for over 40 years) and I looked at this card and said “I don’t remember this guy…”

John Balaz played a total of 59 games for the Angels in 1974 and 1975. On March 3rd, 1976 he was sent to Boston as part of a trade for Dick Drago, but Balaz never played in the Majors again, although he did play in AAA and Mexico up through 1980.

BEST ON-FIELD PHOTO:

Ellie Rodriguez is another player in this post who didn’t play for the Angels in 1976. At the end of 1976 Spring Training he was traded to the Dodgers. He played in 36 games backing up Steve Yeager and then… repeat along with me: Spent a year in AAA and a few more in Mexico to end his career.

Here’s an Ellie Rodriguez fact for you: He was the Kansas City Royals’ first All-Star, but he didn’t play in the game. While with the Brewers he was also named to the 1972 All-Star team and again didn’t appear in the game.

MOST NOTABLE AIRBRUSHING:

Barry Bonds was acquired from the Yankees for Mickey Rivers and pitcher Ed Figueroa.  This isn’t an awful airbrushing, it isn’t a great airbrushing, but it’s what stands out in this batch.

The Angels thought they were getting a three-time All-Star who had 32 homers and 85 RBI in 1975. An injury limited him to just 99 games, 10 homers and 54 RBI, all his lowest totals since his rookie season in 1968. He’d bounce back in 1977 before being traded to the White Sox.

GUY I CAN’T *NOT* MENTION:

OK, fine, here’s Nolan Ryan.

In 1976 Ryan went 17-18 with a 3.36 ERA.  He also lead the league in some interesting categories:  327 K’s (of course), 183 walks, 7 shutouts, 18 losses, 6.1 hits per 9 innings, 10.4 K’s per 9 innings.

I should also point out that Ryan was *not* an All-Star in 1976.

FAVORITE CARTOONS:

From the back of Dave Collins’ card (Did they mean *unassisted* triple play?)

From the back of Dick Lange’s card:

LEAGUE LEADER #1

This is my first time including League Leader cards in a Random Team Review post and it occurred to me that everything about this post is about the 1976 season except for these cards, which are for league leaders in 1975.  Oh, well.

Mick The Quick had 70 stolen bases in 1975, 30 more than runner-up Claudell Washington.  Davey Lopes lead the Majors with 77 SB’s.

LEAGUE LEADER #2

As mentioned, Frank Tanana lead the Majors with 269 K’s.

Tom Seaver was second in the Majors with 243.

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6 thoughts on “Random Team Review: 1976 Topps California Angels

  1. I’m astounded that I’ve never seen that Ellie Rodriguez card before. Gonna have to keep an eye out for it in the bargain vintage bins.

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