Card #270 From 1972 – 1978 Topps

Today is the 270th day of 2018, so I’m featuring card #270 from seven different 1970’s sets.

I do these posts because I enjoy pulling out cards from the very core of my collection (1974 to 1978 were my first five years of collecting), but I also enjoy the randomness of saying “I think I’ll do a Card Number post on Thursday… what day of the year is that?” When used my little Excel spreadsheet formula to determine that 9/27 is the 270th day of 2018, I knew that we’d have some good cards because Topps traditionally assigns card numbers ending with zero to good players.

…But in this case, not the absolute BEST players. The six or seven tippity-toppest players get the card numbers which are divisible by 100 (100, 200, 300, etc.), the next tier generally gets the “fifties” (150, 250, 350… ) and so on. Anybody on a card with a number like 270 are generally among the best players in the game, but weren’t THE TOP PLAYERS.

Because it was a card number ending in zero (and because I happened to have the appropriate cards), I decided to add in 1972 and 1973 this time.

…and so we’ll start off with Card #270 from 1972 Topps:  Jim Palmer

What Jim Palmer did the year before to earn a card number ending in zero: In 1971 “Cakes” won 20 games, making him the fourth member of the Orioles rotation to win 20 games.  That’s just amazing, especially considering that there won’t be four pitchers in all of the Majors to win 20 games in 2018.  As for Palmer in 1971, he was an All-Star, but didn’t win an award or lead the league in any particular category… probably the epitome of “divisible by 10-ness”

Card #270 from 1973 Topps – Luis Tiant
Tiant always looks strange to me without his trademark Fu Manchu mustache.

What Luis Tiant did the year before: Went 15-9, lead the league with a 1.91 ERA and got Cy Young and MVP votes.  More importantly, he re-established himself as a starting pitcher and won the Comeback Of The Year Award.

I enjoyed the cartoon on the back of El Tiante’s card:

Card #270 from 1974 Topps – Ron Santo

What Ron Santo did the year before: He batted .267 with 65 runs and 77 RBI and was an All-Star… but there’s probably a significant element of “He gets one of these numbers because he’s Ron bleeping Santo”.

Here’s a freaky little fact: Ron Santo batted .267 in three of the four seasons from 1970 to 1973, and in 1970 and 1971 he had the exact same number of hits and at-bats. This seemed so unlikely that I went to a couple of different sources to verify these numbers.

After the 1973 season, Santo was traded to the White Sox, to the dismay of Cubs fans everywhere.

Before Ron Santo was traded across town, a trade had been worked out to send him to the Angels; however, Santo vetoed it.  Several years ago I’d shared a card which I’d received in an interdimensional PWE from my counterpart in an alternate universe:

I haven’t heard anything from Alternate Universe Joe in a while, I’ll have to reach out to him.

Finally, Santo’s card had a good cartoon:

Card #270 from 1975 Topps – Ron Fairly
Had there been a Traded set in 1975, Ron Fairly would’ve likely been featured in a badly-airbrushed Cardinals cap. In the December 1974 Winter Meetings, Fairly was traded to St. Louis for two minor leaguers.

What Ron Fairly did the year before: Ron Fairly batted .245 with 35 runs and 43 RBI, and he had been an All-Star in 1973… I’m thinking that Fairly got his semi-star card # by being good for quite a long time – he played 21 years over his career, spanning 1958 to 1969 with the Dodgers, 1969 to 1974 with the Expos, and 1975 to 1978 with the Cardinals, A’s, Blue Jays and Angels.

One other fun Fairly fact: He was the Toronto Blue Jays’ first All-Star.

Card #270 from 1976 Topps – Willie Stargell

What Willie Stargell did the year before: By this point in his career, you couldn’t really give “Pops” just any old number… But Stargell got MVP votes while batting .295 with 22 homers, 90 RBI and 71 Runs

Card #270 from 1977 Topps – Dave Parker

What Dave Parker did the year before: Parker was still a fairly new player and when this card initially came out he had yet to be an All-Star, an MVP or a Gold Glove winner, but he did bat .313 with 90 RBI and 82 Runs.

Card #270 from 1978 Topps – Carlton Fisk

What Carlton Fisk did the year before: Obviously, Fisk was an All-Star.  He batted .315 with 102 RBI, 26 homers and 106 runs. He was also the 1972 Rookie of the Year and a 1975 World Series hero.

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Card #179 from 1974 to 1978 Topps

Today is the 179th day of 2018.

1974 through 1978 are the first five sets I collected (and among the first I completed).

Combining them together allows me to revisit cards from my early days of collecting.

1974 Topps #179 – YOGI BERRA AND HIS COACHING STAFF

This is the first Mets coaching staff I was ever aware of, and also the one which had the biggest impact on my collecting goals. Rube Walker, Eddie Yost and Joe Pignatano All came to the Mets as part of Gil Hodges’ coaching staff in 1968;  Roy McMillan joined in 1973.  I have modest player collections of everybody on this card… less so for Yogi only because his vintage cards are quite a bit pricier.

Yost and McMillan would coach with the Mets through 1976; Walker and Pignatano through 1981.

1975 Topps #179 – TOM BRADLEY

Bradley was a solid pitcher for the White Sox and had a couple of seasons where he won 15 games and struck out over 200 batters. He tailed off after a certain point, possibly due to overuse stemming from Chisox manager Chuck Tanner’s experimentation with a 3-man pitching rotation.

I had a small epiphany regarding Tom Bradley; forgive my small side-trip in explaining…

In early 1986, Joe Jackson came out with his “Big World” album. Coinciding with the release of the new album, the Alternative Rock station I listened to at the time played a bunch of his older songs. That was when I came to realize that the guy who had new songs like “Wild West” and “Right And Wrong” was the same guy who did “Is She Really Going Out With Him”, “It’s Different For Girls”, “You Can’t Get What You Want”, “Breaking Us In Two” and “Sunday Papers”… I’d just never put the pieces together before that. After that realization I became a JJ fan.

For me, Tom Bradley was the baseball version of that. In writing this up I realized that I have all of his Topps cards from 1972 to 1976 (I still need his 1971 rookie card), but for some reason never mentally put them all together as the same guy’s baseball cards.

1976 Topps #179 – GEORGE FOSTER

Foster finished second to teammate Joe Morgan in the 1976 MVP voting, and would be the MVP in 1977. One of these days I should make an all-star team of big name players who the Mets acquired after their prime. I think George Foster is the left fielder on that team… although he wasn’t bad for the Mets, just in his 30’s and exposed in the batting order.

1977 Topps #179 – PAUL HARTZELL

This is the rookie card for Paul Hartzell, who played four full seasons for the Angels & Twins and parts of two others with the Orioles and Brewers. He was one of four players the Angels sent to the Twins for Rod Carew.

I pulled this card out of the 9-pocket sheet and the first words out of my mouth were “Wow, I’ve got to upgrade this thing”.  While the creases readily show up in the scan, it’s also got water damage like it had been rescued from a puddle.  I’m normally pretty passive about upgrading my childhood cards, swapping them out only if I happened to come across something significantly better, but I’m starting to look at some of these and thinking “Man, that is ugly”.  I’m going to put a little more effort into upgrading the cards which are truly “Poor”.

1978 Topps #179 – DICK TIDROW

Dick Tidrow began as a starter and would be a reliever on two Yankees World Champion teams in 1977 and 1978. He’s currently with the San Francisco Giants as the “Senior Vice President, Player Personnel and Senior Advisor to the General Manager”.

Something I hadn’t known before: Dick Tidrow was the 1972 Sporting News Rookie Pitcher Of The Year… that came while he was a starting pitcher with the Indians.

Something else I hadn’t known before: Tidrow is one of a handful of players who have played for the Mets and Yankees AND Cubs and White Sox. Tidrow pitched 11 games for the Mets in 1984 before being released (and thus ending his MLB career).

Tidrow’s time with the Mets came after his last baseball cards (which showed him with the White Sox), so “Dick Tidrow as a Met” gets added to my “someday I’ll make a custom of this” list.

Fast Five: Card #135 from 1974 to 1978 Topps

Today is the 135th day of 2018; hence, card #135.

1974 Topps #135 – Roy White
Like with most in-game shots, I really liked this card as a kid.  Roy White seems like such a classy guy that he’s exempt from any Yankee-hating activities.

1975 Topps #135 – Charlie Spikes
I remember getting Charlie Spikes’ 1974 card as part of a panel stapled into Scholastic’s Dynamite Magazine… Possibly the first issue (which I really need to find and feature here). I thought Charlie Spikes was a cool name.  The replica signature is of his full name, Leslie Charles Spikes.

1976 Topps #135 – Bake McBride
Bake McBride made his only All-Star team in 1976, but he didn’t appear in the game.

I’ve always liked the red and green combo on the 1976 Cardinals cards

1977 Topps #135 – Mark Belanger
Like Bake McBride, Mark Belanger made his only All-Star team in 1976. Unlike McBride, Belanger got into the game, coming in to play short in the 6th inning. Belanger won 8 Gold Gloves over his 18 year career.

I completely forgot that Belanger finished his career by playing 54 games with the Dodgers.

1978 Topps #135 – Ron Guidry
“Louisiana Lightning” dominated the American League and won a Cy Young in 1978. Guidry went 25-3, 1.74 with 9 shutouts. He struck out 18 Angels on June 17, 1978, a mark which remains a team record.

Fast Five: Card #82 From 1974 To 1978 Topps

I kind of stumbled on these posts as a fun, largely mindless way to come up with a post topic and to reconnect with cards from the first five sets I collected… and this week has been crazy at work, so “fun” and “largely mindless” are what the doctor ordered.

Today is the 82nd day of 2018;  hence, card #82.

1974 Topps #82 – Dave Giusti

How’s this for an arcane fact:  There have been two Major Leaguers who went to Syracuse University and were All-Stars… and both were pitchers who didn’t start a single game during their All-Star seasons!

After spending most of the 1960’s as a starter, the Pirates converted Giusti to relieving and they were rewarded with four straight seasons with 20+ saves.  Jim Konstanty, the other relieving Orangeman, was an All-Star and the N.L. MVP with the Phillies in 1950.  He went 16-7, 2.66, and lead the Majors with 74 appearances – nearly half of his team’s 154 games – and 22 saves.

1975 Topps #82 – Pat Kelly

This Pat Kelly is the first of three Pat Kellys to play in the Majors, and one of two Morgan State University players to appear in the Majors;  the other was Dodgers pitcher (and 1952 NL Rookie of the Year) Joe Black.

1976 Topps #82 – Von Joshua

This is one of those shots that wouldn’t be impressive on a 2018 card, but was a favorite of mine in 1976.

I’ve always felt that the border colors enhanced this photo.

1977 Topps #82 – Jim Rooker

Jim Rooker started out in pro ball as an outfielder, but was converted to a pitcher before reaching the Majors.  He was a decent-hitting pitcher, batting .201 with 54 runs and 56  RBI over 668 career AB’s.

As a broadcaster with the Pirates, during a game in Philadelphia in which the Bucs took a 10-0 lead in the first, he said that he would walk home if the Pirates lost.  The Phils won 15-11, and after the season Rooker walked from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to raise money for a Children’s Hospital.

1978 Topps #82 – San Francisco Giants Team Checklist

It’s a bit hard to see on a 2.5″x3.5″ card, but the Giants are posing on a cable car!  Talk about your San Francisco Treat!

I didn’t blink at the Astroturf at the time, but now – thankfully – it’s an odd-looking sight.

Fast Five: Card #383 from 1974 to 1978 Topps

I’ve done this type of post before as a way to do a quick post that requires little thought, but also gives me a chance to revisit cards from my first five (and favorite five) baseball card sets.

I said “Requires little thought” but in truth I had to do some math…  I was going to stick to my theme of using the Julian date, but card #18 from these sets includes 2 team cards which didn’t give me much to talk about, so I extended 2017:  18 + 365 = 383.

…And it’ll actually be *six* cards when I’m done, but “Fast Six” doesn’t have the alliteration going for it.

Card #383 from 1974 Topps – Phillies Team

…and of course I start with a team card.  The 1974 Phillies went 80-82 under Danny Ozark.  The best players were Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton… I’ll leave it to someone else to find those two in the photo.

Card #383 from 1975 Topps – Jim York

Jim York was a reliever who spent most of his career splitting seasons between the Majors and AAA.

I can’t find a whole lot to say about him – sorry, Jim – other than this:  Searching on “Jim York Baseball” brings up everybody named ‘Jim’ who ever played baseball for a New York team.

Card #383 from 1976 Topps – John Ellis

John Ellis played 13 seasons in the Majors and was the Indians’ first designated hitter.  He was traded to the Rangers during the Winter Meetings in December, 1975…

…which leads to the “Bonus Card” for this post…

Card #383T from 1976 Topps Traded – John Ellis

The Topps airbrush guy got a break with this one… he basically had to change the Indians’ navy blue to the Rangers’ royal blue.  Ellis was traded for Ron Pruitt and Stan Thomas.

Card #383 from 1977 Topps – Stan Bahnsen

Stan Bahnsen was the 1968 A.L. Rookie of the Year, going 17-12, 2.05 with the Yankees that year.  Bahnsen would pitch for 16 years with 6 teams.

Bahnsen’s nickname was “The Bahnsen Burner”… I’d never heard that before, but I really like that.

The cartoon from the back of Bahnsen’s 1977 card is a bit… racier… than you’d expect on a baseball card.

All of the adolescent boys were probably thinking “Hmmm… ‘Damn Yankees’, huh?  I’ll have to check that out…”

Card #383 from 1978 Topps – Mario Mendoza

As soon as I saw this card, the first thing I wanted to know is whether Mario Mendoza hit above The Mendoza Line in 1978.

Yep, he batted .218 in 57 games.  He was traded to the Mariners for the 1979 season, played a career-high 148 games… and batted .198.  Needless to say, he was an exceptional defender.

…and after 40 years I’m still not sure how I feel about those Pirates gold and black pinstripes…

I’m Pleased To Announce The Completion Of A Vintage……………… (Aw, Hell.)

So here’s the deal… I recently got this rookie card from COMC:

The rookie card of fan favorite Tug McGraw and 1969 Miracle Met Ron Swoboda… it took a fair amount of searching to find a copy which was within my budget, but I got this one for just over $5.  And there was much rejoicing (Yaaaaaaay).

The only 1960’s team set I’d ever completed before was the 1969 Topps Seattle Pilots team set, and the only real challenge with that one is high numbers.

But here I was, holding the last of the long sought 1965 Mets team set, and feeling pretty pleased about it.  I decided I would feature the entire team set in a post.

Just as a precaution against looking foolish, I compared the cards I had to a couple of different definitions of a 1965 Mets team set, including the PSA set registry listing for 1965 Topps Mets… and that’s when I noticed a card which had light blue borders rather than green borders and featured the Mets’ Kevin Collins in the lower left corner.

1965 Topps - [Base] #581 - Tony Perez, Kevin Collins, Dave Ricketts - Courtesy of COMC.com

1965 Topps – [Base] #581 – Tony Perez, Kevin Collins, Dave Ricketts – Courtesy of COMC.com


…And I said “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, hell.”  Most of the 1965 rookie cards are team-specific, I somehow didn’t think about these “National League” rookie cards.  Not only is this a high number, but it’s the rookie card for a Hall-Of-Famer.

I think I’ve got a line on a copy of that card, but for now we’ll have to scuttle the team set post.

Let’s go back to that card I just got so I can go into details on some of the other players… because there’s a story or two in there.

Danny Napoleon played two years with the Mets and would continue to play through the 1971 season.  Back in October I featured a TCMA card of him that had been sent by Dime Box Nick.

Ron Swoboda is best known for the catch he made in the 1969 World Series as well as batting .400 in that World Series.  He played for 6 years with the Mets.

Jim Bethke spent much of the 1965 season pitching in relief for the Mets.  He was just 18 at the time (26 years younger than teammate Warren Spahn).  He’d make 25 appearances that year, but never made it back to the Majors afterwards.

Tug McGraw pitched 19 years in the Majors, and along with artist Mike Witte he created a comic strip called “Scroogie” in the mid 1970’s.  I remember reading this strip, I really need to get the two Signet paperbacks which compiled the strip.

Now that I’ve spent a lot of time and focus on that card, I’ll mention that I did get another 1965 rookie card in the same shipment….

This card’s been on my radar for a while because it’s the rookie card for 1969 Miracle Met Tommie Agee, and I saw the price come low enough that I decided to jump at it.

I’ve written about Agee’s role in the 1969 Mets before, today I’ll briefly run through Agee’s notable rookie season… Now this card shows him as a Cleveland prospect, but he played just 31 games over three seasons with the Indians.  In January 1965 he went from the Indians to the White Sox in a three-team trade which also involved the Kansas City Athletics, Tommy John and Rocky Colavito.  Agee wouldn’t land a full time job until 1966, but in that season he was the A.L. Rookie of the Year, an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner while batting .273 with 22 homers, 83 RBI, 98 runs and 44 stolen bases.  Over his time with the White Sox,  Agee caught the eye of then-Senators manager Gil Hodges, who encouraged the Mets front office to go after Agee.

Before I finish up this post, I’d like to mention something about Agee’s “card mate”, George Culver.  Something about Culver’s name was poking at the back of my brain, and I knew it was more than his being in the first set I collected:

When I looked him up, I realized I’ve seen him in action…. as a minor league manager.

He managed the AA Reading Phillies in 1986 and 1987, and that was when I used to go to at least one or two R-Phils games each year (I have friends who live in the area) and also at a time when I’d buy the team sets of any team I’d see play in the minors… So I was able to go to the appropriate binder and scan this card of Culver from the 1987 TCMA Reading Phillies set.

I also found out that Culver no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies while pitching for the Reds on July 29, 1968.  Interestingly enough, it’s a no-hitter where Culver was actually losing at one point… in the bottom of the second inning Dick Allen ended up on 2nd base courtesy of two Reds errors; he moved to third on a groundout and scored on a Cookie Rojas sacrifice fly.  Phils-1, Reds-0.  To quote the title of Joe Garagiola’s book, “Baseball is a funny game”.

Fast Five: Card #349 from 1974 to 1978 Topps

Today is the 349th day of 2017 and I’m featuring five cards numbered 349 from 1974 through 1978 Topps. The first time I did this, the response was “crickets”… but that’s better than “sad trombone”, so I decided to give it another try.  Perhaps this time I’ll move up from “crickets” to “Whuh?”

Card #349 from 1974 Topps – John Vukovich
John Vukovich was the 10th overall draft pick in 1966, but he’d never play more than 74 games in any Major League season. While he struggled to hit above The Mendoza Line, he was a defensive standout and a favorite among fans and teammates. He spent 24 seasons in a Phillies uniform as a player and coach, and would be inducted into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame in 2007.

Card #349 from 1975 Topps – Ray Sadecki
Ray Sadecki pitched 18 years in the majors, put in two stints each with the Cardinals and Mets, won 20 games in 1964 and lost 18 in 1967. In 1966 he was traded straight up for future HOFer Orlando Cepeda.

Card #349 from 1976 Topps – Walter Johnson from the All-Time All Stars subset
Walter Johnson… What do I say about Hall-Of-Famer Walter Johnson? For a quick visual representation of how dominant a pitcher he was, go look at how his Baseball Reference page is peppered with bold “league leader” type.

Card #349 from 1977 Topps – Jim Holt
Jim Holt didn’t play in the Majors after 1976; he spent 1977 with two teams in the Mexican League, and that ended his career. Before that he played 9 seasons with the Twins and A’s, and went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI in the 1974 World Series.

Card #349 from 1978 Topps – Rick Camp
Rick Camp pitched 9 years for the Braves and his only career homer came against the Mets at 3:30am in the bottom of the 18th inning of a game which started on July 4th, 1985 and which the Braves had been losing 11-10. The Mets would score 5 runs in the top of the 19th, the Braves would score two in the bottom of the 19th and Camp took the loss. The final linescore: Mets scored 16 runs on 28 hits and 2 errors, the Braves scored 13 on 18 hits and three errors.

…Oh, and the post-game fireworks show went off as scheduled… at 4am.