The 1970’s, A To Z: Don Sutton To Chuck Tanner

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.


DON SUTTON

1975 Hostess #7

Played 1966 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
Four time All-Star; Finished in the top 5 of Cy Young voting five times, but never finished higher than 3rd; Was the starting pitcher and MVP of the 1977 All-Star Game; Was the Dodgers opening Day starter from 1972 to 1978

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998; Over his career he had 324 wins, 3574 strikeouts and a 3.26 ERA; Holds Dodgers career records with 52 shutouts, 233 wins, 181 losses and 3816.1 innings pitched… Sutton had also held the Dodger career record with 2696 strikeouts until Clayton Kershaw passed him in 2022; Had at least 10 wins in 21 of his 23 seasons; Lead the league with a 2.20 ERA in 1980; Named the 1966 NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News;  His #20 has been retired by the Dodgers; Inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame as a broadcaster in 2015; Was named to the Brewers Wall of Honor

Fun Stuff:
Appeared as a celebrity panelist on Match Game; Sutton and Steve Yeager played themselves in an episode of a Saturday morning Sid and Marty Krofft show called Wonderbug

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every Topps flagship set of the 1970s


CRAIG SWAN

1977 Topps #94

Played 1973 – 1984
1970’s Teams: Mets

1970’s Highlights:
Lead the NL in 1978 with a 2.43 ERA; Was the Mets opening day starter in 1979 and had a career-high 14 wins that season; As a pitcher with Arizona State University he was a 1972 All-American, was named to the 1972 College World Series All-Tournament team, and set an ASU career record with 47 wins

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Arizona State University Hall of Fame in 1981

Fun Stuff:
Was a college teammate of Jim Crawford, Larry Gura, Lerrin LaGrow and fellow Met Lenny Randle


STEVE SWISHER

1976 SSPC #319

Played 1974 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Cubs, Cardinals

1970’s Highlights:
Was the White Sox 1st round pick in the 1973 draft and later that year was sent to the Cubs as part of a package for Ron Santo; Was the catcher on the 1974 Baseball Digest All-Star Rookie Team;  Named to the 1976 NL All-Star team but didn’t appear in the game; Honored as the NL Player of the week on 5/16/75 after going 11-for-18 with a walk and two sacrifices

Fun Stuff:
His son Nick Swisher played for five teams from 2004 to 2015; Was a teammate of Mike Schmidt at Ohio University; Steve is the only Major Leaguer to come out of South High School in Parkersburg, WV


Moving on to T…


FRANK TANANA

1976 Kellogg’s #30

Played 1973 – 1993
1970’s Teams: Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Tanana was one of the most dominant pitchers of the second half of the 1970s and combined with Nolan Ryan to make up a devastating lefty/righty combo; He was drafted 13th overall out of Cal State Fullerton in 1971; Was named to the 1974 Topps All-Star Rookie team; Was the Angels opening day starter from 1976 to 1979 (and I’ll point out again that Nolan Ryan was on those teams); Was an All-Star from 1976 to 1978; Lead the AL with 269 strikeouts in 1975; In 1976 he lead the AL with a 0.988 WHIP and won a career-high 19 games; Lead the AL with a 2.54 ERA and 7 shutouts in 1977; Pitched in the 1979 ALCS but got a no-decision

Career Highlights:
A fireballer when he started out, Tanana made adjustments after experiencing arm problems and won 240 games over 21 seasons

Fun Stuff:
His father was a minor league outfielder; Threw shutouts in the first games played in both Seattle’s Kingdome and Chicago’s new Comiskey Park (now called Guaranteed Rate Field); Was the winning pitcher in the last game played at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium; Is one of just two pitchers to give up home runs to both Hank Aaron and Barry Bondds (Rick Reuschel is the other)


CHUCK TANNER

1978 Topps #494

Played 1955 – 1962
Managed:  1970 – 1988
1970’s Teams: White Sox, A’s, Pirates

1970’s Highlights:
Managed every season of the 1970s for three different teams; Won a World Championship as the manager of the ‘We Are Family’ 1979 Pirates; Was named the Major Leagues Manager of the Year in 1972, when he took the White Sox to 87 wins and a 2nd place finish while using a 3-man rotation based on Stan Bahnsen, Tom Bradley and knuckleballer Wilbur Wood; Managed the 1976 A’s to a 2nd place finish during his only season in Oakland; After the 1976 season the A’s traded him to the Pirates for catcher Manny Sanguillen and $100,000

Career Highlights:
Played 8 seasons as an outfielder & pinch hitter for the Braves, Cubs, Indians and Angels; Made his Major League debut pinch hitting for Warren Spahn and hit a home run on the first pitch he saw

Fun Stuff:
His son Bruce Tanner pitched in 10 games for the 1985 White Sox

Card Stuff:
Appeared in at least one card set each year from 1971 to 1988… the only Topps set in that span where he did not get at least a thumbnail photo was 1982 Topps (which did not include managers) but he had a card in 1982 Donruss to keep his streak going

A Pair Of Wonderfully Off-Condition Cards

I picked up a couple of cards on COMC, both of which inspired Charlie Brown-ish “This card needs me” thoughts… although I know some of you will appreciate them as well.

The first card is one I stumbled across while researching one of my 1970s: A-Z posts.  I saw it on COMC and it was love at first sight.


Off-center cards are an annoyance… unless they’re so badly miscut that you can see a good chunk of a neighboring card, then I break out in a huge smile.

I thought I was being clever in figuring out that the bowwm card is the Cardinals’ Stan WIlliams (Card #9) from knowing that it’s a first series card and that the top of the photo includes a pretty distinctive bank of stadium lights.

I stopped feeling clever when I realized I could’ve just flipped the card over and found out that the other card is card #9 and the player’s first name starts with “STA”.

This second wonderfully off-condition card is a Willie Mays card I got as part of my pursuit of 1970 Topps that’s more of a meandering stroll than a chase.

Then again, maybe this card is for my 1970 Mets team set…

I’m OK with writing on the card if it doesn’t affect the player *too* much, with “too much” generally meaning hand-drawn facial hair, glasses and such.  Yeah, Willie’s cap logo is scribbled out and he’s got “NEW YORK” written on his shoulder, but his face is untouched, and when you’re talking about budget-compliant Willie Mays cards, beggars can’t be choosers.

And honestly, other than the ballpoint pen, this Willie Mays card is in a condition that I would never fit into my collecting budget.  It looks off-center, but that’s my scanner, not the card.  Lightly-dinged corners are the only non-pen damage to this card.

On the whole, I’m very happy to add these two to my collection!

Johnny Abrego SUPERCOLLECTOR!!!!

Back in 1985 I saw the Double-A Pittsfield Cubs take on the Reading Phillies in an Eastern League contest.  One of the players I saw that day was Cubs pitcher Johnny Abrego, whose name I would remember because it sounds like the name of a gunslinger from a Western.  “Sheriff, Johnny Abrego is comin’ into town tomorrow and they say he’s gunnin’ for ya!”

Because I was new to minor league baseball at the time, I got very excited that September when Abrego was a September call-up with the Chicago Cubs.  He didn’t pitch all that well in his 5 starts and 1 relief appearance, but he was just 23 so he’d have other chances.

The excitement increased the next spring because Abrego, who had been a 1st round draft pick in 1981, showed up as a Rated Rookie in 1986 Donruss!

Unfortunately injuries put a damper on his career after that.  He pitched in Triple-A in 1986 and 1987 and then was out of baseball. The 1986 Donruss card would be his only Major League cardboard.

…But…

Back in 2019 I was at a regional postcard show and picked up this 1986 TCMA “Stars of the Future” postcard. My Abrego player collection was now twice as big!

TCDB lists just two other cards for Johnny Abrego. One is an unnumbered card from something called “2017 Historic Autographs Scripts”, which sounds kind of Broder-y and makes me think someone took an Abrego cut signature, made a custom card out of it and put it out on TCDB.

The other card listed was from the 1986 ProCards Iowa Cubs team set, and in 2022 I acquired this card to complete my Johnny Abrego collection

I have a TCDB user profile but don’t track my collection there… but in this case I couldn’t resist.

I entered my 3 cards in and now…

I’M THE KING OF THE FREAKIN’ WORLD, BABY!!!!!!

And the best part is that I don’t see anybody taking that away from me…  They might join me up on the podium, but I don’t see anybody getting all three known cards plus that fourth alleged card.

Bask in my glow, peons!

The 1970’s, A To Z: Brent Strom to Bruce Sutter

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.


BRENT STROM

1978 Topps #509

Played 1972 – 1977
1970’s Teams: Mets, Indians, Padres

1970’s Highlights:
Lead USC to two NCAA championships and was an All-American in 1970; Won a career-high 12 games in 1976 (but also lost 16 games for the 89-loss Padres)

Career Highlights:
Is currently the pitching coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and won a World Championship as the pitching coach of the 2017 Astros

Fun Stuff:
His college teammates at USC included Dave Kingman, Bill Lee, Jim Barr and Steve Busby

Card Stuff:
Although the featured card is from 1978, he didn’t pitch in the Majors after 1977 due to an elbow injury


JIM SUNDBERG

1978 Topps #492

Played 1974 – 1989
1970’s Teams: Rangers

1970’s Highlights:
Played just one season in the minors before becoming the Rangers’ regular catcher in 1974; Was named to the All-Star team during his rookie season and again in 1978; Regarded as one of the best defensive catchers of the time, he won Gold Gloves from 1976 to 1981; Caught Bert Blyleven’s no-hitter vs. the Angels, 9/22/77

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 2003; Holds the Texas Rangers career record with 102 sacrifices; Won a World Series with the 1985 Royals

Card Stuff:
Appeared in all five 1970s Hostess sets; His 1975 Hostess card, which can be considered a rookie card, calls him “Mike Sundberg”


RICK SUTCLIFFE

1980 Topps #544
Yes, I’m breaking convention by having a card from 1980 here but I think it’s justified

Played 1976 – 1994
1970’s Teams: Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
Was the Dodgers’ first round draft pick in 1974 and had cups of coffee in 1976 and 1978 before winning the 1979 NL Rookie of the Year award with a 17-10 record, 3.46 ERA and 117 strikeouts; He was named the RHP on the Baseball Digest All-Star Rookie team, but interestingly enough was NOT named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team – he was shunned in favor of Angels reliever Mark Clear

Career Highlights:
In 1984 he won the 1984 Cy Young Award with the Cubs even though he pitched his first 15 games of the season with the Indians… With the Cubs Sutcliffe went 16-1, lead the league with a .941 winning % and had 155 strikeouts and 39 walks in 20 games; Lead the AL with a 2.96 ERA in 1982; Lead the NL with 18 wins in 1987; Was named to the All-Star team in 1983, 1987 and 1989; Won the NL Comeback of the Year in 1987 and the AL Comeback in 1992

Fun Stuff:
Batted above the “Mendoza Line” in 1979 (.247), 1984 (.250 combined), 1985 (.233) and 1986 (.208); Hit a home run in game 1 of the 1984 NLCS; Was the youngest player in his league in 1976 and among the oldest in 1994

Card Stuff:
The above 1980 card is Sutcliffe’s rookie card; Had a card in the 1978 Cramer Pacific Coast League set


GARY SUTHERLAND

1975 Hostess #146

Played 1966 – 1978
1970’s Teams: Expos, Astros, Tigers, Brewers, Padres, Cardinals

1970’s Highlights:
Was the Tigers’ starting 2nd baseman in 1974 and 1975

Career Highlights:
The Expos selected him from the Phillies in the 1968 expansion draft and he won the starting 2nd base job in Spring Training; Lead the league in 1969 with 110 double plays turned; Played for the US Olympic Baseball team in 1964

Fun Stuff:
His brother Darrell pitched for the Mets and Indians in the 1960s

Card Stuff:
Despite playing just 5 games in 1972 and 16 games in 1973, he was in every flagship Topps set from 1967 to 1977


BRUCE SUTTER

1977 Topps #144

Played 1976 – 1988
1970’s Teams: Cubs

1970’s Highlights:
Squeaked past Joe Niekro to win the 1979 Cy Young with a league-leading 37 saves, a 2.22 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 102.1 innings; The 37 saves also tied the NL record at the time, originally set by Clay Carroll in 1972 and tied by Rollie Fingers in 1978; Was the winning pitcher in the 1978 and 1979 All-Star Games

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 and was the first pitcher who was inducted without ever having started a Major League game; His 300 career saves was a National League record from 1982 (when he got his 194th save) until Lee Smith passed him in 1993; Won the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award in 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1984; Won a World Championship with the Cardinals in 1982 and got two saves during the World Series; Was named to the NL All-Star team six times; Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 2006

Info Dump: Cards Updated In 2022 Topps Holiday

As you may know, Topps recently released it’s 2022 Holiday set, which on the surface seems like a holiday cash-in that’s just a new parallel to the base set.

I found out last year that when a player in the set changes teams during the season, Topps might update them to new teams in Holiday… and sometimes the updates are more up-to-date than Topps Update.  Screwy, right?  Especially since Update hasn’t been out *that* long.

So I decided to leverage my personal Access database and figure out which player/team combos are in 2022 Holiday but are not in the three series of Flagship.  Once I realized there are a bunch of cards like that I decided to share that information here.


If you find something is missing or wrong, please let me know and I’ll update this.


The 2022 Topps Holiday cards which are updated from Series 1 / 2 / Update
***OR***
which don’t exist in 1 / 2 / Update
(Footnotes where applicable)

Card # Player Team Footnotes
HW-7 Joe Dunand Atlanta Braves (3)
HW-13 MacKenzie Gore Washington Nationals (4)
HW-18 Eric Hosmer Boston Red Sox (1) (5)
HW-20 Emmanuel Rivera Arizona Diamondbacks
HW-26 Colton Welker San Francisco Giants (7)
HW-55 Juan Soto San Diego Padres (2)
HW-66 Brandon Marsh Philadelphia Phillies (1)
HW-73 Josh Bell San Diego Padres (1)
HW-80 JP Sears Oakland Athletics
HW-84 Rylan Bannon Atlanta Braves (8)
HW-106 Taylor Ward Los Angeles Angels (9)
HW-110 Johnny Cueto Chicago White Sox
HW-112 CJ Abrams Washington Nationals
HW-125 Whit Merrifield Toronto Blue Jays (1)
HW-149 Gosuke Katoh New York Mets (6)
HW-170 Noah Syndergaard Philadelphia Phillies (1)
HW-188 Andrew Benintendi New York Yankees (1)

 

FOOTNOTES:

(1) Holiday uses the same image as Heritage High #’s (possibly cropped differently)

(2) There’s no base Update card for Juan Soto but Update base card US-22 (which shows Trevor Story) has a SPed variation which shows Soto with the Padres and uses a photo that is different than Holiday

(3) Joe Dunand is a fun case of “Why is he here?” Originally a 2nd round draft pick, he was called up to the Marlins this year but was designated for assignment after 3 games. The Braves picked him up on waivers, but before they put him in a game he was outrighted to their Triple-A team in Gwinnett. Update shows him with the Marlins, Holiday uses the same image as the update card but is photoshopped to show a Braves uniform.

(4) MacKenzie Gore was sent from the Padres to the Nationals in the Juan Soto deal, and while he pitched for the Padres during the season, after the trade the Nats sent him to Triple-A and he has yet to make his Nats debut. The Holiday card is a photoshopped version of his Update card

(5) Eric Hosmer was acquired at the deadline, appeared in 14 games and was recently released by the Red Sox.

(6) Gosuke Katoh is a “zero year” guy; he was briefly on the Mets active roster, but never played in a game and will be playing in Japan in 2023.  He’s shown in Update with the Jays (and using the same image as Holiday) and in High #s with the Mets (Portrait)

(7) Colton Welker played for the Rockies in 2021, was released in July, picked up by the Giants… but never played for them. He became a free agent after the season and signed a minor league contract with the Giants, so he could potentially play for the Giants in 2023

(8) The Orioles got Rylan Bannon in the 2018 deal that sent Manny Machado to the Dodgers. This year Bannon was waived by the O’s, went to the Dodgers, was waived by the Dodgers and went to the Braves, played one game for the Braves before being put on waivers again. After an offseason stop with the Cubs, he’s currently with the Astros.

(9) Taylor Ward is a really odd situation. He didn’t change teams and played 135 games for the Angels this year… but he’s not in Series 1, Series 2 or Update. However he is in Holiday, “original” Heritage and Living Set. Huh.

Fun With 1974 Topps Traded

I recently did a post about the custom cards I’ve been making in the style of 1974 Topps Traded, and I thought it would be fun to take a look at the original set.

The 1974 Topps Traded is an insert set made up of an unnumbered checklist and 43 player cards representing players who had changed teams after the base set had been “put to bed”. 1974 was the first Topps baseball set to be issued all at the same time rather than in series, which left Topps looking for ways to update the set without having later series to make changes to.  The Traded cards were inserted into packs that contained the later printings of the regular cards, and were also included in the first-ever Topps factory set, something which was sold exclusively through J.C. Penney.

While researching this set I’d seen references to the Traded set updating player transactions which happened during the season, but that’s far from the truth.  All but two of the transactions took place during the 1973 Winter Meetings which were held in Houston from December 3rd to the 7th.

The one trade that went down before the Winter Meetings is the mid-November transaction that sent Larry Gura from the Cubs to the Rangers as the player to be named later in an earlier deal.  On August 31, 1973 the Rangers sent pitcher Mike Paul to Chicago for that PTBNL.  Paul appeared in 1974 Topps with an airbrushed Cubs cap.

As for Gura, he never pitched for the Rangers, he was sent to Triple-A during spring training and then traded to the Yankees, who would call him up in August.

The sole deal from after the Winter Meetings is the December 11th trade which sent Ron Santo to the White Sox. During the meetings the Cubs had traded Santo to the Angels, but Santo shot the deal down – he was able to as a veteran with 10 years experience, 5 with the same team – and the Cubs had to work out another trade.

I hadn’t thought about it before, but the traded card has the cap airbrushed red, but it doesn’t have a White Sox logo. I wonder if this had anything to do with this transaction being the last one included in the set… maybe they only had time for a rush job.

Some of the transactions featured in the Traded set weren’t trades, at least not the way most fans think of them. The back of Luke Walker’s traded card says the Tigers got Walker from the Pirates, but don’t mention that it was cash going to Pittsburgh in exchange.

Other players in the Traded set whose contracts were purchased were Terry Crowley, JIm Mason, Felipe Alou, Juan Marichal, Bill Sudakis, Cesar Tovar and Eddie Watt.

Aside from Larry Gura, there were some other players who never appeared in a game for their new teams.

Like Gura, Terry Crowley also never played for the Rangers; his contract was sold to the Reds during spring training.

Aurelio Monteagudo – a name that every kid I knew was doomed to mispronounce – was obtained from the Angels, but would never pitch for the Phillies… or for any Major League team after that deal.

Tommie Agee also never played in 1974 or thereafter; after obtaining him from the Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Pete Richert, the Dodgers cut him late in spring training.

Barry Lersch, obtained from the Phillies, spent most of the 1974 season with the Braves’ Triple-A team in Richmond, was sold to St. Louis in September, gave up 6 earned runs in 1.1 innings in his only game with the Cardinals and never pitched in the Majors again.

Several other players had very short stints with their new teams.  Kurt Bevacqua, Fernando Gonzalez, Felipe Alou, Pete Richert and Bob Heise all appeared in just a handful of games for their new teams before moving on.

Check out this Traded card of Bob Locker… No, that isn’t the greatest airbrush job in the history of Topps.

Bob Locker pitched for the A’s from 1970 to 1972, and then was traded to the Cubs in November, 1972 for outfielder Bill North. During the 1973 Winter Meetings the A’s got Locker back from Chicago, trading pitcher Horacio Pina in exchange, and when Topps created Locker’s traded card they only had to dip into their photo file for one that showed him in an A’s uniform. As it turns out, this is the only card of Bob Locker to show him in this particular version of the A’s uniform, as his prior cards showed him in the sleeveless flannels that the A’s wore from 1968 to 1971.

Mike Marshall was not one to cooperate with Topps photographers, so his 1974 Topps Traded card re-used a photo that had been used in 1973 Topps. This photo, according to Keith Olbermann, had been taken in the late 1960s when Marshall was pitching for the Toledo Mud Hens, the Tigers’ top farm team at the time.

I’ll wrap things up with “the one who got away”.  Lynn McGlothen was one of the players who was dealt during the 1973 Winter Meetings had who a significant impact on his new team… but he didn’t get a Traded card.  After being sent from Boston to St. Louis as part of a six-player deal, McGlothen would win a career high 16 games, finish 6th in the league with a 2.69 ERA, make the All-Star team and get MVP and Cy Young votes. Several other players who were involved in the trade got Traded cards (John Curtis, Reggie Cleveland and Diego Segui), but McGlothen had pitched just 6 games in 1973 and carried an 8.22 ERA so Topps didn’t give him a card in 1974 Topps. With no card to update, he didn’t appear in 1974 Topps Traded.

Update:
One bit of information I just realized I hadn’t worked into this post… The Mets, Giants and Padres did not acquire any players during the Winter Meetings and there are no cards for those teams in this set.

Kicking Off A Year Of 1974-Related Nonsense

I started collecting cards in 1974 and have always loved the 1974 set because it’s my first.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when Topps launched the Heritage line in 2001, I calculated out the date in the (then) far future when they might get to a Heritage version of 1974 Topps.

That far-off date is coming up on us very soon, and I’m cautiously excited.  I’ve already written a post about what I expect and hope for in 2023 Heritage, and two additional posts about the colors that Topps should use for each team’s design (AL and NL)… I got a little crazy with it.

Knowing that Topps would not leave me completely satisfied, I decided to go ahead and take matters into my own hands.  I’ll be doing a number of custom card projects to fill in the gaps that Topps would undoubtedly leave, plus a few posts about the actual cards.

To start off I’ve made a few customs in the style of the 1974 Topps Traded insert set.  I decided to do it as if the technology involved in creating cards hadn’t changed since the 1970s… Any attempts to update an existing photo should look at least a little bit like it was not done with Photoshop (even though it obviously was digitally altered… PaintShop Pro in my case, but anyway).

My first example of this is for Teoscar Hernandez, who was traded from Toronto to Seattle on November 16th.  I ran across this image where he has his hat back on his head so you can’t see the front of it, and I said “I can’t NOT use this!”  There was some minor digital games played as I made the cap and jersey a darker blue.

A fair amount of “updating” in 1974 involved showing players without a cap and maybe with the collar of their jersey airbrushed a bit.  When Kevin Newman was traded from the Pirates to the Reds on November 18th, I decided to go that route…

After Hunter Renfroe was traded from the Brewers to the Angels on November 23rd I decided to up my game a little bit and try for some fake airbrushing, but to  my dismay it looked better than I intended.  I started with an image of an Angels cap “borrowed” from Mike Trout and used my mouse to essentially “trace over” the cap logo… but it ended up too close to the original.  In all, three images were used for this card – Renfroe, Trout’s cap and the background.

If it seems like Hunter Renfroe gets around, it’s because he does.  Assuming that he stays with the Angels he’ll have played for five different teams for five consecutive seasons:  Padres in 2019, Rays in 2020, Red Sox in 2021, Brewers in 2022 and Angels in 2023.

I’ve brought back a custom I made in 2015 to show that I’m not limiting my shenanigans to current players. Back in 1973 HOFer Ron Santo was traded from the Cubs to the White Sox near the end of his career… but the Cubs had originally dealt Santo to the Angels and he vetoed that trade so that Cubs went back to the drawing board and worked out a deal with the White Sox

One last thing before I go, just to give a tiny little insight into the 1974 Topps design… In duplicating it, I thought I would be able to re-create the top half and then just copy and flip the top so I’d have the bottom. However, I discovered that the top banner (i.e. CLEVELAND) is slightly longer than the bottom banner (INDIANS). In nearly 50 years of staring at these cards I had never realized that, I always thought the two banners were identical in size.

OK, so that gives you an idea of the foolishness that’s coming from me in the future. It won’t all be foolish, however – my next post is going to be a look at the original 1974 Traded set.

The 1970’s, A To Z: Rennie Stennett to Mel Stottlemyre

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.


RENNIE STENNETT

1977 Hostess #100

Played 1971 – 1981
1970’s Teams: Pirates

1970’s Highlights:
Was the Pirates starting 2nd baseman from 1974 to 1977; Set a record by getting 7 hits (4 singles, 2 doubles and a triple) in a 9-inning game as the Bucs beat up on the Cubs 22-0… in that game, he also set a record by twice getting two hits in an inning during the same game; Made a run at the batting title in 1977 with a .336 average, but broke his leg towards the end of the season and teammate Dave Parker ended up leading the league with a .338 average; Got a single in his sole 1979 World Series appearance, which would be his last with the Pirates

Fun Stuff:
Was part of the first all-black Major League lineup on 9/1/71


STEVE STONE

1976 SSPC #302

Played 1971 – 1981
1970’s Teams: Giants, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles

1970’s Highlights:
Was the White Sox opening day starter in 1978, a year after winning a then-career-high 15 games in 1977; Was part of the trade that sent Ron Santo from the Cubs to the White Sox

Career Highlights:
In 1980 he went 25-7, was an All-Star and won a Cy Young Award… over half of his pitches were curveballs, which would ruin his arm and end his career after the following season

Fun Stuff:
Better known to some for his long broadcasting career, he’s currently a member of the White Sox broadcast team


BILL STONEMAN

1970 Topps #398

Played 1967 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Expos, Angels

1970’s Highlights:
Drafted from the Cubs in the 1968 expansion draft, Stoneman became the ace of the early Expos pitching staffs; He threw his second career no-hitter against the Mets on 10/2/1972, striking out 9 and walking 7; Set an Expos/Nationals franchise mark with 20 complete games in 1971; His 251 strikeouts in 1971 would stand as an Expos team record until it was broken by Pedro Martinez 26 years later; Was an All-Star in 1972

Career Highlights:
His first career no-hitter came against the Phillies on 4/17/69, the 10th game in Expos history; Was the General Manager of the Expos (1987 – 1988) and Angels (1999 – 2007 and again in 2015), and it was under his watch that the Angels won their only World Championship (2002)

Fun Stuff:
Is the only pitcher in Major League history to throw a no-hitter for his first and last complete games

Card Stuff:
Was the first Expos player to appear on a League Leaders card (1972 Topps #95, “NL Strikeout Leaders”)


MEL STOTTLEMYRE

1970 Topps Super #27

Played 1964 – 1974
1970’s Teams: Yankees

1970’s Highlights:
Was named an All-Star for the 5th and final time in 1970; Was the Yankees’ opening day starter in 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1974; His career was undone by a torn rotator cuff during the 1974 season

Career Highlights:
Was a five-time All-Star and a three-time 20-game winner; As a rookie in 1964 he started three games in the World Series, all against Bob Gibson, and got a win, a loss and a no-decision; Has a plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park; Was a pitching coach for the Yankees, Mariners, Mets and Astros

Fun Stuff:
His sons Todd and Mel Jr. both pitched in the Majors

Card Stuff:
His first Major League card was a World Series highlights card (#133, which came in the 2nd series of 1965 Topps) while his rookie card came in the 7th series; Was in 1975 Topps but he was released by the Yankees at the end of that year’s spring training

Fashionably Late: A Blaster Of 2022 Archives

Retail blasters are slow in coming to Shlabotsylvania… if they come here at all. It took several weeks of looking in my local Targets before finding a blaster. Under normal circumstances it’s not a given that I would have bought Archives at all… It tends to just leave me disappointed and regretting my purchase. This year, though, I’ve wanted to rip some packs and haven’t had much luck finding anything in stores, so I jumped on the blaster I found. Beggars can’t be chosers, any old port in the storm and all that.

Thing is, this year’s Archives is… OK. It’s never going to be my ideal set and I don’t know that I would buy another blaster, BUT I also haven’t sworn off buying another blaster, so that’s something of an accomplishment by Topps.

The main part of the set is made up of tributes to 1963, 1978 and (siiiiigggggghhh) 1987. I’ll touch on each of these and then get into inserts, subsets and other interesting things I pulled from my blaster.

The 1963 design is one that is colorful, appealing and pretty easy to replicate. The best “1963” I pulled of a current player was this Rhys Hoskins.

I really like the different background, but later found out that this is more about the Phillies having used an alternate background on “photo day”.

Some of the better “legends” cards I pulled from my blaster were using the 1963 design.  It says something about the state of photography – or probably the state of Getty Images – that the best-looking photos in this set are largely for the retired players.



Moving on to the 1978 design, which Topps has steadfastly refused to include in Archives until this year. It’s not like I don’t understand, there are challenges with using this design.  The main challenge is that the team name is not a font, each one was a bit of work done manually by Topps’ artists.

It’s not super complex, but also it’s not something you can throw at an intern and say “Do something like this, only for the Marlins!”

Some teams can be faked up pretty easily – I know because I’ve tried – like the Rays, where you can take the “R” from “Royals” or “Rangers” and the “ays” from “Blue Jays” and boom, you’re done.

Guardians is a little more complicated, but you can use the “G” from Giants, the “dians” from “Indians” and then work from there.

Nationals is a little trickier, and I’ve got a very minor problem with how they did this…

When I faked up the Nationals for a custom a number of years ago I made an “N” by chopping off part of an “M” (because there weren’t any capital N’s in 1978 Topps) and then got the rest of the letters from other teams:

My very minor quibble with how they did “Nationals” is that the “o” is noticeably wider than the other letters, and it stands out to me.  I would’ve (and did) squish it horizontally a little to make it flow better.

Anyway…

Getting back to the background on the Rhys Hoskins card, the same background can be seen on this Aaron Nola card.  It’s interesting that (to me anyway) that background looks a lot better on a 1963 card than on a 1978 card.

And now on to the drudgery part of the post, at least from my standpoint. Topps has done the 1987 design so many times now that it’s just a tired exercise. But here it is…

I don’t even know what to say about it anymore.

Oh, wait, I do know one thing I can say… As many times as Topps has rehashed this design, you’d think that they’d learn that:
– In the originals the player names for the Pirates had black text against a yellow background
– White text against a yellow background is hard to read… Why don’t they ever learn this?

One of the problems I have with Archives, and its a personal issue, is that I’m not a huge fan of including “legends” in sets that also have current players. While it’s fun to pull retired players, many of them don’t fit into my collection and are sort of wasted on me.

It’s also not great when they use colorized photos… I know that there aren’t other options in many cases, but still.  I mean, jeez, that Babe Ruth card isn’t so much colorized as it is half sepia, half not.

Something interesting I hadn’t noticed until I was writing this post:  The Feller card says “Cleveland” even though they could’ve used “Indians” off of the original design.  I looked on TCDB and there’s one other retired Cleveland player in this set, a 1987 design of Larry Doby.  The 1987 design doesn’t use team names, it uses logos and that card (which I don’t have) doesn’t use the Chief Wahoo logo that appeared on several of Doby’s Topps cards in the 1950’s, it uses the Cleveland cap logo of the day, a wishbone C cap logo that’s similar enough to the Reds’ wishbone C that I’ll bet a fair number of people will regard this as a Reds card despite Doby’s uniform reading “CLEVELAND” across the front.  At any rate, it appears that Topps is completely staying away from “Indians”.

OK, so let’s get on with some of the other cards…

This is from the Award Winners subset, based on the 1961 Topps MVP subset.

There’s also this take on the 1992 Topps Major League Debut set.  For those who aren’t aware, Topps used to do a box set that featured every player who had made their Major League debut for a given season.

Finally there is the “Scoops” design based on 1954 Topps Scoops, which was largely a non-sports set which did include some baseball cards

I pulled 3 cards from the Big Foil insert set which are pretty nice but don’t appeal to me  a lot and these will likely find their way to other people.

The last pack of the blaster came with a very pleasant surprise. I was thumbing through the pack and saw a card with the 2010 Topps design, and thought “I didn’t remember 2010 being a part of this”…

…and then I saw the on-card signature and I smiled. I don’t often pull autographs from a pack, and when I do it’s usually someone along the lines of a sticker autograph of a Reds pitching on an unlicensed Donruss card.  Since I’m not an autograph collector, I often forget to look at the “Fan Favorites” checklist, but I find them almost as appealing because they feature players and designs that aren’t in the base set.

For those unfamiliar with Key, he was a 5-time All-Star who pitched for the Jays, Yankees and Orioles and who twice finished in 2nd place in AL Cy Young voting… So yeah, not a bad pull.

1975 “MVP” Project: 1960 Topps Dick Groat

I loved the 1975 Topps MVP subset when I was a kid, and spent a lot of time poring over the images of vintage Topps cards. I’ve decided if getting all of the featured cards isn’t a realistic goal for me, that doesn’t mean I can’t get *some* of the cards.

Here’s my card from the 1975 subset, one that I’ve had for 47 years…

And here’s the card I got earlier this year:

Before I get into why Dick Groat was the NL MVP, I should mention that all 22 of the first place votes for NL MVP were divided among three Pittsburgh Pirates: 16 for Groat, 5 for 3B Don Hoak (who finished 2nd overall) and 1 for Roberto Clemente (who finished 8th).

The Pirates were not heavily favored going in to the 1960 season, having gone 78-76 (4th place, 9 GB) in 1959.  They won the National League pennant with 95 wins (7.0 games ahead of the Milwaukee Braves) and would beat the Yankees in the World Series in 7 games, with Game 7 being one of the greatest games in history (which I mention even though the World Series does not factor into MVP voting).

Why was Dick Groat the 1960 NL MVP?

  • Lead the NL with a .325 batting average, beating Dodger Norm Larker on the last day of the season.  A National League shortstop would not lead the league in batting again until Hanley Ramirez in 2009
  • Lead the Majors with 154 singles and was third in the NL with 186 hits
  • Went 6-for-6 in a May 13 game against Milwaukee;  he had 3 singles, 3 doubles, 2 runs and also had two hits in the Pirates’ 8-run 7th inning

Overall I presume that this was a matter of “You have to see him play every day”, because everything I found on Groat’s 1960 MVP season boiled down to “He was a flashy shortstop who got a lot of hits”, and while that’s impressive it doesn’t in and of itself say “MVP!”

Before I go, I’ll mention that Groat was a basketball All-American at Duke University and went from Duke to the Pirates without ever playing in the minor leagues.