The 1970’s, A To Z: Denis Menke to Roger Metzger

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.


DENIS MENKE

1970 Topps #155

Played 1962 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Astros, Reds

1970’s Highlights:
Was an All-Star in 1970; In 1973 he had a .368 on-base percentage which is notable because his batting average was .191; Was involved in turning a triple play against the Mets, 7/16/71; Was part of the blockbuster trade between the Reds and Astros which also involved Joe Morgan, Lee May, Cesar Geronimo, Tommy Helms and Jack Billingham

Career Highlights:
Was an All-Star in 1969; Over his career he was a regular at each of the four infield positions; Had previously held a Braves record for home runs by a shortstop (20 in 1964), broken this year by Dansby Swanson; Participated in 5 double plays in a single game in 1969, tying a record held by many shortstops

Stupid Irrelevant Stuff:
Whenever I see “Menke”, I think of Inspector Clouseau saying “Monkey”

Card Stuff:
His final card in 1974 shows him with the Reds, but he was traded back to the Astros before Spring Training; Has a ‘cameo appearance’ on the World Series Game 6 card in 1973 Topps


JIM MERRITT

1975 Topps #83

Played 1965 – 1975
1970’s Teams: Reds, Rangers

1970’s Highlights:
In 1970 he won 20 games, was an All-Star and tied for 4th in Cy Young voting; He was the first Reds pitcher to win 20 games since Eppa Rixey in 1925; Started and got the win in Game 2 of the 1970 NLCS vs. the Pirates; Threw 21.2 consecutive shutout innings in August and September of 1971

Career Highlights:
Went 17-9 with the Reds in 1969; Allowed only 322 walks in 1,483 career innings; Picked Maury Wills off 2nd base in the 1965 World Series

Fun Stuff:
As a teenager he’d been a batboy for the Los Angeles Dodgers


ANDY MESSERSMITH

1976 SSPC #70

Played 1968 – 1979
1970’s Teams: Angels, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees

1970’s Highlights:
Was a four-time All-Star (1971, 1974, 1975, 1976) and a two-time Gold Glove winner (1974 & 1975); Was the starting pitcher in the 1974 All-Star game; Lead the league with 20 wins in 1974; Got 5 first place Cy Young votes in 1974 but finished second to teammate Mike Marshall; lead the league in complete games (19) and shutouts (7) in 1975; Won 20 games in 1971 and 19 in 1975; Started 2 games in the 1974 World Series but lost both; Was involved in the same 1972 Angels/Dodgers deal that also saw Frank Robinson and Bobby Valentine go to the Angels

Career Highlights:
Best known these days for his role in establishing free agency in Major League baseball… He played 1975 withough a signed contract then challenged MLB’s reserve clause; His 211 strikeouts in 1969 was an Angels team record… until Nolan Ryan struck out 329 batters in 1972

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every flagship Topps set of the 1970s; His 1977 Hostess card (airbrushed into a Braves cap) used the same photo as his 1976 Topps card


BUTCH METZGER

1977 Topps #215

Played 1974 – 1978
1970’s Teams: Giants, Padres, Cardinals, Mets

1970’s Highlights:
Won the first 12 decisions of his career, spanning from 1974 with the Giants to 1976 with the Padres; In 1976 he went 11-4 with 16 saves, 77 relief appearances and a a 2.92 ERA and was co-winner of the NL Rookie of the Year after he and Reds starting pitcher Pat Zachry both getting 11 first place votes (the Cardinals’ Hector Cruz got 2 votes); Was named to the Baseball Digest Rookie All-Star team (but not the Topps All-Star Rookie team) and was named the Sporting News NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year; After the 1974 season, he and Tito Fuentes were traded to the Padres, with Derrel Thomas going to the Giants

Fun Stuff:
He and Zachry would end up teammates on the 1978 Mets; “Metzger” is German for “Butcher”


ROGER METZGER

1974 Topps #224

Played 1970 – 1980
1970’s Teams: Cubs, Astros, Giants

1970’s Highlights:
Played in 1 game for the Cubs before being traded to the Astros for Hector Torres; In his rookie season of 1971, he tied Joe Morgan and Freddie Patek for the Major League lead in triples (11);  His 14 triples in 1973 also lead the league and remains an Astros team record; Was the shortstop on the 1971 Baseball Digest Rookie All-Star team (Chris Speier was the Topps All-Star Rookie shortstop); Won a Gold Glove in 1973; Was involved in turning four triple plays during the 1970s

Fun Stuff:
Appeared in the movie “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training”

2 thoughts on “The 1970’s, A To Z: Denis Menke to Roger Metzger

  1. I usually am not a fan of pitchers with bats on cards, but that Messersmith is great!

    That Reds trade may have been the best trade ever. They got three key pieces to their two World Championships of the 1970s, including Morgan who is of course one of the greatest ever at his position. They gave up some good players but none really went on to long-term success after that. Menke only played 30 games for the Astros before hanging them up and slashed .103/.206/.138.

  2. Pingback: 2021 TSR Daily: Still Alive | The Shlabotnik Report

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