Forgotten Franchises: The ABA’s San Diego Conquistadors / Sails

Going into the 1972-73 season the ABA had two teams fold, so to keep the league with 10 teams the league expanded for the first and only time.  The expansion team was granted to San Diego (which had lost the Rockets to Houston), and that team was called the Conquistadors, or “Q’s” for short.

For the first season the team was coached by K.C. Jones, who would go on to lead the Celtics to two championships and also make the Hall Of Fame as a player.  The team was expected to be horrible, but surprised by being on the low side of mediocre, finishing with a 30-54 record and squeaking into the playoffs.  They got swept by the Utah Stars in the first round.

For their second season, the ownership made a big splash by signing Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain to be their player/coach.  However, a Lakers lawsuit prevented Chamberlain from suiting up, so he remained solely the coach of the Q’s.

1974-75 Topps - [Base] #250 - Wilt Chamberlain - Courtesy of COMC.com

1974-75 Topps – [Base] #250 – Wilt Chamberlain – Courtesy of COMC.com

Wilt’s heart didn’t seem to be in it as solely a coach, so he was one-and-done with the Q’s.  The team did make their second and final playoff appearance, and once again lost to Utah in the first round, but this time they took it to 6 games.

The third season saw two new coaches come and go and ended with a 31-53 record.

After the third season, the team was sold and the name was changed to the San Diego Sails, complete with new colors, new uniforms and mostly new players.

The team made a go of it, but struggled out of the gate, and it also became apparent that the team would never be allowed to join the NBA to compete against the Lakers in southern California.  On 11/12/75 the plug was pulled and the San Diego Sails folded, the second of three ABA teams to fold during that final ABA season.

Post-Mortem
The NBA’s Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego in 1978 and became the San Diego Clippers. That Clippers team lasted just six seasons before moving north in 1984 to become the Los Angeles Clippers. San Diego has not had an NBA team since.

Featured Cards

Red Robbins was a career ABA guy, having played in 8 seasons with 5 teams, being named All-ABA twice, and winning a league championship with the 1970-71 Utah Stars.

Travis Grant was a 1st round (13th overall) draft pick of the Lakers in 1972.  Early in his second season he was dropped by the Lakers and jumped over to the Q’s.  He’d also play in the ABA for the Kentucky Colonels and Indiana Pacers.

George Adams played in all three seasons that the team was the Conquistadors, but despite what the card says, he didn’t play for the San Diego Sails.

Other notable players
Billy Shepherd – dangerous 3-point shot guy
Chuck Williams – 2nd in the ABA in 1972/73 in Assists
Caldwell Jones – 3rd in the ABA in 1973/74 in Rebounds
Dwight “Bo” Lamar – All-Rookie for the Q’s in 1973/74, would play a season with the Lakers

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Hey, Kids! Collect U-KNOW-M Stamps — Now In TSR Fun Packs!

That’s right, you get four fun stamps in every pack…

…Featuring your favorite athletes, musicians, actors, historical figures, Nobel Prize-winning economists, game show hosts, cartoon characters, authors, theoretical physicists, sportscasters, members of Congress, mascots and celebrities who are famous for being famous!

You know you’ll like ‘em… because U-KNOW-M!

Here’s your first sheet… Make sure you go to your local VIRT-U-L-MART to pick up the official stamp album!

I fell asleep watching Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night, woke up for the 9th inning, and ended up watching a fair amount of what followed on  FS1, the Pearl Jam concert film “Let’s Play Two”. I have to admit that even though I’m largely indifferent to Pearl Jam (their music just doesn’t speak to me) it was an interesting film. At the beginning there were shots of the band hanging backstage and I wondered “Who’s this guy hanging with the band, the one with short-cropped hair and glasses looking like Bob Saget’s younger brother?” As it turns out, Saget The Younger turned out to be Stone Gossard, rhythm guitarist for Pearl Jam. This amused me enough that I created a stamp for him.

For those who missed the debacle, the USMNT (U.S. Mutant Ninja Turtles Men’s National Team) were eliminated from World Cup qualification, bringing shame and disgrace on our country for generations to come. I haven’t seen the USMNT lately… and apparently won’t for quite a while… but Christian Pulisic sounds like he’s the future of soccer in the United States. Just the fact that he’s a 19-year-old playing in the German Budesliga impresses the hell out of me.  Maybe things would’ve gone better for the USMNT if the Mutant Ninja Turtles had been sent out to play against Trinidad And Tobago… or at least if Splinter had been the head coach.

I was amused by a t-shirt I saw, one which featured Cookie Monster and says “Straight Outta Cookies”. I like the shirt, but given Cookie Monster’s speech patterns, wouldn’t he say “Straight outta cookie”? …or maybe I’m just overthinking this.

Hagar Ben Ari is the bass player in the house band on The Late Late Show With James Corden. She’s often seen in the background and has this cool vibe about her, but I’d never seen her do anything but play bass and react to things on the show. I’ve been intrigued by her for a while, even more so when Googling turned up only her name, the fact that she’s Israeli and…. um….. she plays the bass.

Hopefully you enjoyed these… let’s see what else is in this particular Fun Pack!

While I have no love for the Washington Nationals, they recently did something I whole-heartedly approve of… They installed a full-blown organ for their organist Matthew Van Hoose (who previously had been using a keyboard).

I grew up listening to Jane Jarvis playing the organ at Shea Stadium, so I feel like a good organist should be part of a baseball game.  It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Nationals Park, but when I return to watch the Mets take on the Nats, I’ll make sure to appreciate Dr. Van Hoose.  I have a feeling, however, that he won’t be playing “Meet The Mets”.


When Nathan Walker took the ice recently, he became the first Australian player in the NHL. I thought that was really cool, and it almost made me want to root for the Capitals again. Almost. You know the rules… I won’t have any thoughts of reconciliation with the Capitals until Ovechkin’s gone.

The absolute best thing about this story is that Walker was congratulated by the Australian ambassador to the United States, a gentleman by the name of – and I am completely serious about this – Joe Hockey. My sources tell me that Mr. Hockey does not spend his winter skating on a frozen-over birdbath, thinking things like “Here’s Joe Hockey at the Stanley Cup Finals…”


If you hadn’t heard, the NBA is allowing teams to wear an advertising patch on their uniforms starting this year. What you may not have known is that the Indiana Pacers will be sponsored by 1994 Fleer Baseball.


The Angels’ Parker Bridwell went 10-3, 3.64 with a 1.198 WHIP. He also went at least 6 innings in 13 of his starts. The Orioles really could’ve used a guy like that in their rotation….

What’s that?

The Orioles had Parker Bridwell and DFA’ed him in April?

Oh.

The Harlem Globetrotters To The Rescue!

I had another post in mind for today, but… well… events conspired to deprive me of time to finish that post.

So instead, I’ll feature three cards from two related Harlem Globetrotters sets… the 1971/72 Fleer, which stands at 84 cards, and the smaller 1971/72 Cocoa Puffs set which is 28 cards and originally came in – guess what? boxes of Cocoa Puffs.  All of the cards in the Cocoa Puffs set were also in the Fleer set, with some minor differences.

I’m largely sleep-deprived as I write this, so I’ll let the cards do most of the talking from here on out.

1972-fleer-harlem-globetrotters-19

1972-cocoa-puffs-harlem-globetrotters-4

1972-fleer-harlem-globetrotters-18

Here’s a comparison of the backs from the two related sets.

1972-harlem-globetrotters-fleer-vs-cocoa-puffs

Remembrance Of Things Past

The San Diego Chargers are no more.
1975-topps-football-joe-beauchamp
It was announced yesterday that the Chargers will be moving to Los Angeles for the 2017 season and will share a $2 kajillion stadium with the Rams starting in 2019.  Pardon me while I shake my head, but I’ve seen this movie before.  Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s the Rams shared LA with the Raiders, and the story ended with both teams leaving town.  Whatever happened to all the talk of “LA doesn’t support football”?  Don’t answer that, I know the answer.

Given that I never really stopped thinking of the Rams as the Los Angeles Rams, I began pondering other teams from my youth which are no longer with us…

…And I said “I’ll bet there’s a post in there!”

The 1970’s were a pretty… um… dynamic time with regard to franchises, so for the following exercise in nostalgia I’m going to use 1977 as a “baseline”, as that was the first year I collected hockey (and had already been collecting baseball and football).  It was also, of course, 40 years ago.

I never collected basketball, but I won’t leave them out of the discussion.

FOOTBALL

Baltimore Colts (moved to Indianapolis)
1978-topps-football-mike-barnes

Houston Oilers (moved to Nashville; currently the Tennessee Titans)
1975-topps-dan-pastorini

St. Louis Cardinals (moved to Phoenix)
1978-topps-roger-wehrli

San Diego Chargers (moved to Los Angeles)

Prodigal Sons:  A year ago I would’ve included the Los Angeles Rams on this list.  25 years ago, I would’ve included the Oakland Raiders.

Biggest travesty of justice:  Baltimore Colts (Right, CommishBob?)  This is one of those textbook examples of a community which supported their team in every way that mattered with the sole exception of ponying up for a new stadium.

1977 NFL team I miss for other reasons:  I’ll go with the Oilers, since they’re the only one that actually changed names.

NHL HOCKEY

Atlanta Flames (moved to Calgary)
1977-78-topps-hockey-dan-bouchard

Cleveland Barons (merged with Minnesota North Stars)
1977-78-topps-gilles-meloche

Colorado Rockies (moved to New Jersey; now the Devils)
1977-78-topps-wilf-paiement

Minnesota North Stars (moved to Dallas; now the Stars)
1977-78-topps-hockey-alex-pirus

Biggest travesty of justice and the team I miss the most:  No question about this, it’s the North Stars on both counts.  I’ve always been fond of the North Stars logo and colors, the Barons and Rockies didn’t last much longer than 1977, and it’s hard to feel sorry for Atlanta when they’ve now lost two NHL teams.

WHA HOCKEY

Birmingham Bulls (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Cincinnati Stingers (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)
1977-78-o-pee-chee-wha-claude-larose

Indianapolis Racers (folded)

New England Whalers (moved to Raleigh, NC; now the Carolina Hurricanes)
1981-82-topps-mark-howe

Houston Aeros (folded when left out of the NHL/WHA merger)

Quebec Nordiques (moved to Denver; now the Colorado Avalanche)
1979-80-topps-hockey-marc-tardif

Winnipeg Jets (the original Jets moved to Phoenix and are now the Coyotes).
1983-84-opc-paul-maclean

Biggest travesty of justice:  So many to chose from…  Any Canadian city the size of Quebec *should* have a hockey team.  Hartford and Houston both had solid fan bases… as did Winnipeg, but their team has since been replaced.

1977 WHA team I miss for other reasons:  I collect the Stingers… ‘Nuff said.

BASKETBALL
I tried following basketball as a kid, but despite giving it the ol’ college try I just couldn’t get into it… but that doesn’t mean I should leave hoops out of this discussion.

Buffalo Braves (moved to San Diego;  now the L.A. Clippers)
1974-75 Topps Basketball Garfield Heard

Kansas City Kings (moved to Sacramento)

New Jersey Nets (moved to Brooklyn)

New Orleans Jazz (moved to Salt Lake City)

Seattle SuperSonics (moved to Oklahoma City;  now the Thunder)

Honorary mention:  Washington Bullets (Same team, same city, different name)
1980-81 Topps Basketball Bullets Pin Up

Biggest travesty of justice:  Easy peasy… Seattle should never have had the Sonics taken away from them.

1977 NBA team I miss for other reasons:  I’ll say the New Orleans Jazz, partly because I did kinda like “Pistol Pete” Maravich (for reasons I don’t remember), but mainly because even as a 14-year-old kid I thought that “Utah Jazz” was a freakin’ stupid name.

BASEBALL

Montreal Expos (moved to Washington)

1977-topps-steve-rogers

Given the franchise stability of MLB over the past 40 years, it all comes down to the Expos.

Same place, different name:  California Angels

Travesty of justice and MLB team I miss the most:  Les Expos, naturellement!

So what teams from your own youth do you miss?  If you’re older than I am, it might be the Kansas City Athletics, California Golden Seals or Cincinnati Royals.  If you’re younger than I am, it might be the Vancouver Grizzlies, Atlanta Thrashers or maybe the USFL’s Los Angeles Express .

 

Forgotten Franchises: The ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals

The Dallas Chaparrals were a charter member of the ABA, starting with the 1967-68 season.  During their first few seasons, the team regularly had a winning record and repeatedly made the playoffs, but they ran into poor attendance and general disinterest in Dallas.

dallas-chaparrals-logo

Before  the 1970/71 season, the team announced that they would become a regional franchise called the Texas Chaparrals, and would also play games in Fort Worth and Lubbock.  This was such a failed experiment that the plug was pulled on Fort Worth after two months, and Lubbock did not fair much better.  After one season, the experiment was over and they returned to being the Dallas Chaparrals.

In early 1973, the rumors were flying that groups from New Jersey and New Mexico were eyeing the Chaps.  That February, the ABA announced that the team would move to New Jersey, and eventually move to the Meadowlands upon completion.  The league signed off on this move, pending approval of the New York Nets, as the Meadowlands fell in their their territory.  The Chaparrals did not move to New Jersey, so it seems safe to assume that the Nets did not give their approval.

Before the 1973/74 season, in an unusual move, the team was leased to a San Antonio group with an option to buy after three years.  At the time, San Antonio was the largest city in the country without a major sports franchise.  The team was such an overwhelming success in San Antonio – it took them only 16 games to pass the previous season’s attendance in Dallas – that the lease was torn up and the group bought the team.  That team is, as you might have guessed, the San Antonio Spurs.

As for Dallas, they would not have another major league basketball team until the expansion Dallas Mavericks arrived for the 1980/81 season.

Among those who have played for the Chaparrals include Cincy Powell (an All-Star in 1970), John Beasley (three-time All-Star and the 1969 ABA All-Star Game MVP), and Joe Hamilton.

1971-72 Topps Basketball Joe Hamilton

This is Joe Hamilton’s rookie card.  He was named to the ABA’s All-Rookie  team, and once finished 5th in the league in free throw percentage.

About the team name…

“Chaparral” makes me think of this (pardon the crappy photo of a Hot Wheels car I keep on my desk at work):

hot-wheels-chaparral-2

…or rather, the Chaparral Racing team which had been dominant in the 1960’s and got immortalized for me via Hot Wheels and A/FX slot cars.

So I was puzzled when I looked chaparral up in the dictionary and found references to thickets of shrubs, or sometimes the land in which such thickets of shrubs grew.  Huh?

Some of the newspaper articles I saw said that the ABA team’s owners couldn’t decide on a name, so they just named it after the Chaparral Club restaurant where they’d met.  This may be apocryphal, I don’t know.

THEN… I found out that there’s a bird called the Chaparral Bird or Chaparral Cock… it’s a member of the cuckoo family and is also known as a Roadrunner (Meep!  Meep!).  The team’s logo features a bird like that, so it seems that this is what they were going for.  Maybe this would’ve been more obvious to me if I’d ever been in the southwest.

Regardless of the origin of the name, shortening it to “Chaps” for the uniform wasn’t the greatest idea, in my eyes.  It brings to mind a team of posh players saying things like “I say, Chaps!  Spiffing takeaway!  Jolly good!”


Black Friday COMC Sale!

It’s Black Friday, and all that entails!

COMC is having a promotion.  Check out my cards!  Check out other people’s cards! If you’re running a promotion, feel free to leave a link in the comments, and I promise to look at your wares.

Adventures In Dimeboxing, Part 1

At the card show I went to recently, I spent a fair amount of time going through dime boxes… Maybe too much time, but I suppose it’s all part of the process of refining my goals each time I go to a show.

While I didn’t find those dime boxes full of Kellogg’s, Mother’s Cookies and Hostess cards like some other people seem to, I did find plenty of fun stuff. This will be the first of at least two or three “Dimeboxing” posts.

First off, a couple of die-cuts… This first card is an insert from 2014 Bowman Chrome, and while the die-cut isn’t terribly appealing and the card seems to be worth about a dime, it features a Mets prospect and his brother… and how can I resist that combination?
2014-bowman-chrome-dual-ing-die-cuts-gavin-and-garin-cecchini
Gavin Cecchini is a shortstop who played a handful of games for the Mets this September. He was the 12th overall draft pick in 2012 and Baseball America has included him among the Mets top 10 prospects every season since then.

His older brother Garin is a third baseman who had cups of coffee in 2014 and 2015 and has had a similar track record of being among the Red Sox top prospects. Last winter Garin was sold to the Brewers and he spent 2016 playing for AAA Colorado Springs.

A slightly older die-cut comes courtesy of Pacific… This oddball Rickey Henderson is from the 2000 Pacific Crown Royale set.
2000-pacific-crown-royale-rickey-henderson
People talk about missing Upper Deck, but I miss Pacific. They went a little over the top with foil, but they had some nice sets and their bilingual set taught me a few baseball terms in Spanish.

I found a small number of 2006 Rittenhouse WNBA cards in one dimebox. I don’t follow the WNBA, I can probably name only a handful of players from the entire league history (Chamique Holdsclaw, Lisa Leslie, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi… um…), but I so rarely run across any WNBA cards that I’m always tempted to pick up one or two on the occasions that I do.

So I thumbed through this stack of 30 or 40 cards and I didn’t recognize any names and wasn’t grabbed by any of the action shots and I don’t have any sort of connection to any of the teams… So I picked a couple of cards for …um… other reasons.

Kristen Mann was the 11th overall draft pick in the 2005 draft
2006-rittenhouse-wnba-kristen-mann
She played in the WNBA from 2005 to 2010, and it appears that she’s been playing in European leagues since then.

Stacey Dales was a two-time All-American for Oklahoma, set numerous school records and had her number retired by the University, was drafted 3rd overall by the Washington Mystics and played for Canada in the 2000 Olympics.
2006-rittenhouse-wnba-stacey-dales
It wasn’t until I got home and started poking around online that I found out that Stacey Dales is currently a studio host and reporter for the NFL Network. I enjoy watching my Steelers, but I’m not big enough into football to watch the NFL Network. Sorry, Stacey.

For those who might be interested, here’s the back of the Stacey Dales card.
2006-rittenhouse-wnba-stacey-dales-back

OK, getting back to baseball… I love picking up cheap Pro Debut cards, especially for guys who have already made it.

Here’s Brian Dozier shown with the New Britain Rock Cats, a team which moved to Hartford for the 2016 season but never played a game there due to ongoing and still unresolved ballpark issues. It’s too involved to get into here, Google it if you don’t know already.  If you listen closely, you can hear the distant sound of New Britain snickering (they got an independent Atlantic League team before their ballpark got cold)
2012-topps-pro-debut-brian-dozier
The Twins are badly in need of a talent influx, and with a new GM who has no loyalties to any players, could Dozier be shipped off for a bunch of prospects? Stay tuned.

I also got another impressive young infielder, Francisco Lindor of the World Series-bound Cleveland Indians. I saw Lindor in the minors a couple of years ago and was impressed with him at the time, so he’s become someone I make a small effort to collect.
2013-topps-pro-debut-francisco-lindor
Since I looked it up, I’ll share it with you… The Lake County Captains are based in what I presume is a suburb of Cleveland. Lake Erie is the lake in “Lake County”.

The World Baseball Classic is rolling around next March… Many of you don’t care, and as for me… well, it’s competitive baseball in March.

The last time around, Anthony Rizzo was an up-and-comer who had played 136 games over two seasons with the Padres and Cubs.
2013-topps-world-baseball-classic-anthony-rizzo
…Now, of course, he’s a three-time All-Star and getting ready to play in the World Series.

Carlos Beltran was hoping he’d get to the World Series with the Rangers. I wonder why they can never seal the deal despite talented teams…
2013-topps-world-baseball-classic-carlos-beltran
Beltran’s a free agent and seems likely to end up as someone’s DH.

I was pleased to find that the dime boxes I went through had some of this year’s Stadium Club cards.
2016-stadium-club-kevin-plawecki
No stars, of course, but great for filling out team and player collections.

I ran across this 1993 Fleer card for my Darren Daulton PC.
1993-fleer-nl-all-stars-darren-daulton
This is a nice-looking card, but unfortunately it doesn’t appear that there are any other players from this insert set who fit into my collection (No Cal Ripken?)

And to wrap up, I had to get this “Short Term Stop” involving Jim Thome of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
2010-heritage-jim-thome
Thome was acquired from the White Sox on August 31st, 2009 and would play 17 regular season games and 5 postseason games for the Bums before going to the Twins as a free agent.

Forgotten Franchises: The ABA’s Spirits Of St. Louis

It’s been a while since my last “Forgotten Franchises” post, but this one took a while to get all my notes organized, because there was a lot of stuff going on off the hardwood for this former ABA franchise.

Spirits Of St Louis logo

The Spirits Of St. Louis was (or maybe wasn’t) the final incarnation of a franchise that spanned the entire history of the ABA. The team started as the Houston Mavericks, spent a few years as the Carolina Cougars (a regional franchise that was based out of Greensboro, NC) and then became the Spirits… At least technically. As Cougars coach Larry Brown and most of the roster went elsewhere, there are some who regard the Spirits as an expansion team.

However you want to regard the Spirits, they brought basketball to St. Louis for the first time since 1968, when the St. Louis Hawks moved to Atlanta.  The team name comes from “The Spirit Of St. Louis”, the airplane that Charles Lindbergh used to make the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight in 1927. That original airplane is preserved in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

In their first season, the Spirits went 32-52 but finished third and made the playoffs.  After upsetting the 58-26 New York Nets in the Semis, they lost in 5 games to the Kentucky Colonels in the Eastern Division Finals.  In their second and final season, they improved to 35-49 but missed the playoffs.

Notable players included Marvin Barnes, M.L. Carr, Caldwell Jones, Maurice Lucas, Moses Malone (who was purchased from the Utah Stars after that franchise folded) and Steve “Snapper” Jones.
1975-76 Topps Basketball Steve Jones
Steve Jones played 8 years in 7 cities during his ABA career, and capped it off with a year with the Portland Trail Blazers. He was a three-time ABA All-Star and has worked as a broadcaster on Blazer’s games and on NBA TV.

There’s another notable name associated with the Spirits, one who never set foot on the court or touched the ball.  For the team’s first season, the play-by-play announcer was a 22-year-old who dropped out of Syracuse University to take the job.  That college dropout was Bob Costas.

After the Spirits’ second season, the ABA merged with the NBA.  When the merger came, the Nets, Spurs, Pacers and Nuggets went to the NBA and the other two remaining ABA teams, the Spirits and Kentucky Colonels, were bought out.  However, the way that the Spirits were bought out would have a long-lasting effect on the NBA and especially on Spirits owners Daniel and Ozzie Silna.

Instead of getting a $3 Million buyout like the Colonels did, they negotiated a $2 Million sum, plus a percentage of the TV revenue for the four teams that did go to the NBA… In perpetuity.  As TV revenue grew in importance for the NBA and all sports, this became a tremendously valuable buyout.  The resulting revenue stream amounted to $300 Million as of 2014, and then they got another $500 Million from the NBA to buy them out of the contract.  Talk about having a long-lasting impact on the sport…