A few days ago I posted about how different 1974 transactions were reflected in 1975 Topps, and for the “Earliest in-season transaction that still got the airbrush treatment” I listed the June 5, 1974 sale of Joe Lis by the Twins to the Indians.
Well, I was set straight in the comments by Bryan, who correctly pointed out that several Indians got airbrushed images as result of the following trade which came about 6 weeks earlier:
April 26, 1974
The Cleveland Indians traded Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw to the New York Yankees for Fred Beene, Tom Buskey, Steve Kline and Fritz Peterson.
Naturally, since many of the photographs used by Topps were taken in New York, the players obtained by the Yankees were all shown in their pinstripes (and all at Shea Stadium, the Yankees home for the 1974 & 1975 seasons)
However, all four of the players obtained by the Indians had not been photographed by Topps during the remaining 5 months of the season!
In going through my 1975 Topps to scan these cards, I realized that the 1975 Topps Indians team set has a LOT of airbrushing and one capless rookie card. I thought it would be fun (and add to the “value” of this mea culpa post) to run through them all and see how long each player had been with the Indians by the time 1975 Topps was designed and printed.
But first it made me wonder if it was possible that NONE of the 1975 Topps Indians team set featured photos from 1974. I don’t think you call tell the difference between 1973 and 1974 by the uniforms, but as I mentioned earlier, you could potentially tell from the stadium in the background. Original Yankee Stadium closed after the 1973 season for renovations, and the Yankees played home games at Shea Stadium in 1974 and 1975.
This George Hendrick card, for example, has a photo that must be from 1973. That’s clearly Yankee Stadium (and the Bronx County Courthouse) behind him, so it’s clearly before 1974… But Hendrick was acquired from Oakland in March, 1973 so the photo obviously can’t be any older than that.
On the other hand, John Ellis and at least two other cards look like they were taken at Shea Stadium, so there was some photography going on at Indians – Yankees games.
After my careless error I decided that I should do more than just issue a correction, and I thought it would be interesting to run through the complete list of 1974 Cleveland Indians transactions which would affect 1975 Topps Indians cards… Starting with this Spring Training deal:
March 19, 1974
Received Jim Perry from the Detroit Tigers as part of a 3-team trade
Jim Perry made 36 starts for the 1974 Indians, won 17 games and yet he is shown in an airbrushed Tigers uniform. No respect, I tell ya!
March 28, 1974
Selected Leron Lee off waivers from the San Diego Padres
The twin light towers and bullpen on the left, the batters eye with the flagpole behind it on the right. Yup, that’s Shea.
April 3, 1974
Traded Pedro Guerrero to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received Bruce Ellingsen.
Before we get into Ellingsen, I’ll point out that the Pedro Guerrero the Dodgers got for Ellingsen is THAT Pedro Guerrero… World Series MVP, Five-time All-Star Pedro Guerrero. At the time of the trade, he was a 17-year-old with 44 professional games under his belt, all with the Rookie Ball GCL Indians.
Ellingsen pitched 16 games for the 1974 Indians, mostly in relief. BTW, this is his only Topps card. When I was a kid, we used to make fun of Bruce Ellingsen’s seemingly huge head. To quote one of Mike Myers’ characters in So I Married An Axe Murderer, “It’s a veritable planetoid!”
The Indians’ season opener was Saturday, April 6th at Shea Stadium
April 26, 1974
Traded Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw to the New York Yankees. Received Fred Beene, Tom Buskey, Steve Kline and Fritz Peterson.
Fritz pitched in 29 games in 1974.
Buskey pitched 51 games for Cleveland.
Kline pitched in 16 games.
Beene pitched in 32 games, all in relief.
June 5, 1974
Purchased Joe Lis from the Minnesota Twins.
Lis played in 57 games.
June 15, 1974
Traded players to be named later to the San Diego Padres. Received Steve Arlin.
10 starts and 1 relief appearance for Arlin. BTW, that light tower looks like Shea as well, but that’s not surprising since Arlin was with the Padres whenever this photo was taken.
July 17, 1974
Purchased Tommy McCraw from the California Angels.
45 games… Pretty sure this is Yankee Stadium, but that’s academic.
August 17, 1974
Purchased Rico Carty from Cordoba (Mexican).
September 12, 1974
Traded a player to be named later, Ken Suarez and cash to the California Angels. Received Frank Robinson.
Frank Robinson only appeared in 15 games for Cleveland in 1974. I should point out that Frank was also airbrushed in the little “Manager thumbnail” on the Indians team photo/checklist card, but I didn’t see the point of scanning that as well.