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”.

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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.

Fast Five: Card #339 From 1974 – 1978 Topps Baseball

Why #339?  Today is the 339th day of 2017.

Why 1974 to 1978?  Those are the first five sets I collected, the first five I completed and among my all-time favorite sets.

Yeah, OK… but WHY?  Because I need to devote time to organizing my collection, which means I wanted some ideas for posts I could do without much mental effort… and featuring five different cards with the same card number from those five sets seemed like a potentially fun idea.  I guess we’re about to find out if this is the case…

#339 from 1974 – All-Star Pitchers (Jim Hunter and Rick Wise)

You’re probably not surprised at Catfish Hunter starting the 1973 All-Star Game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the most you know about Rick Wise is that he’s the guy the Cardinals got for Steve Carlton in 1972.

In the All-Star game, Rick Wise pitched 2 innings and got the win.  Hunter got a no-decision.  Rick Wise had also been traded after the 1973 season, so his regular 1974 card shows him airbrushed into a Red Sox cap.

#339 from 1975 – Jim Fregosi
Speaking of players who were traded for future HOF pitchers… Jim Fregosi was a 6-time All-Star, but those days were well behind him in 1975.

You know what struck me about this card when I was pulling it out of the binder?  Yes, it’s miscut, but why is there a strip of yellow at the top?  Every 1975 Topps uncut sheet I’ve seen is laid out so that the bottom color of one card is the top color of the card below it on the sheet…  A  miscut 1975 Fregosi like this should result in more red at the top, not a yellow strip.  Anybody have any insight into this?

#339 from 1976 – John Denny

John Denny’s 2.52 ERA in 1976 was best in the N.L., and he was just 23 years old.  He’d win the Cy Young in 1983 with the Phillies.

#339 from 1977 – Adrian Devine

Adrian Devine actually played for the Rangers in 1977, after a 12/9/76 trade.  His 1978 card shows him with the Rangers… but Devine had been traded back to the Braves on 12/8/77.  Just to screw with Topps one more time, Devine was traded back to the Rangers on 12/6/79, but he appeared with the Braves in the 1980 set.

#339 from 1978 – Mario Guerrero

Guerrero played his last game with the Angels in 1977.  He signed with the Giants as a free agent in November 1977… and at the beginning of the 1978 season, he was sent to the A’s as the “Player To Be Named Later”  in the trade which sent Vida Blue to the Giants.

Just to make it even more fun from a baseball card standpoint, Guerrero’s first game of 1978 was against the team he’s pictured with.

A Couple From 2016 Topps Archives Snapshots

It was about this time last year that Topps released their online-only Archives Snapshots set. I haven’t heard anything about there being a 2017 version, which is something of a shame just because the 2016 set seemed like a starting point for something good. I didn’t buy any directly from Topps, but I bought a few through COMC.

This Oscar Gamble is easily my favorite from the set, partially because it’s 1970’s Oscar Gamble…

…but mainly because it’s the same photo that was used on Gamble’s 1974 card, and I love anything to do with 1974 Topps. Here’s a comparison of the two:

The way that 21st Century Topps cropped the photo off-center and cropping out part of Gamble’s hands makes me think they really wanted to keep that weird shadow in the lower right out of the Archives Snapshot card.

This B.J. Surhoff card may not be the most exciting photo, especially when compared to Oscar Gamble, but I love me some Surhoff so this was eagerly sought out for my collection.

Finally, to round out the two-card Mets team set (along with Michael Conforto which I’d featured before), here’s a lovely Jacob deGrom:

For the record, here’s the Conforto… I featured this card back in January.

There are still a couple of cards from this set that I’d like to pick up (Cal Ripken leaps to mind), but I really was hoping that there’d be another set this year that would build on last year’s… Maybe it’s been delayed because Topps is feverishly working on how many cards of Aaron Judge they can work into it.

Random Team Review: 1974 Topps Texas Rangers

After moving from Washington to Dallas for the 1972 season, the Texas Rangers lost 100 and 105 games in their first two seasons.  In 1974 the team turned it around and went 84-76, finishing in second place in the A.L. West, 5.0 games behind the eventual World Champion Oakland A’s.

The Rangers were managed by Billy Martin, who took over late in 1973 after being fired by the Detroit Tigers.

Despite his success in 1974, Martin didn’t last through the 1975 season, the third time in his managerial career he went from fiery to fired.

Billy Martin wins this team’s “Notable Airbrushing” award;  you can see that he’s actually wearing a Tigers jersey.

BEST PITCHER
Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins went 14-16, 3.89 as a 30-year-old with the Cubs in 1973.  The Cubs traded him to Texas for then-minor-leaguer Bill Madlock and Vic Harris.  Fergie reacted by going 25-12, 2.82.

Jenkins finished 2nd to Catfish Hunter in Cy Young Voting and 5th in A.L. MVP voting.  He’d fall back off again in 1975 and would get traded to the Red Sox after that season.

BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
No arguments against Jeff Burroughs as the team’s best offensive player.  I’d mentioned that Fergie Jenkins was 5th in MVP voting?  Well, Burroughs was the MVP.

Burroughs lead the league with 118 RBI and batted .301 with 33 doubles, 2 triples and 25 homers.

BEST ROOKIE
Well, this is more “Best Rookie Story” than “Best Rookie”.  David Clyde was a Texas high school pitching phenomenon who was drafted first overall by the Rangers and went straight into the majors to pitch for a team desperate for a box office draw.

While he pitched an 8 K 1-hitter in his debut, he was inconsistent in his career and you can’t help but wonder how his career would’ve played out if he were allowed to develop in the minors.

BEST PLAYER NOT ON A 1974 CARD
It wasn’t until I wrote this post that I realized how award-winning the Rangers were in 1974.  Mike Hargrove was the 1974 A.L. Rookie of the Year (George Brett was 3rd in voting) and, as you can see, got a little Topps trophy on his 1975 card.

In his rookie season, Hargrove batted .323 with 57 runs and  66 RBI

BEST ON-FIELD PHOTO
No deliberating on this one… this card is easily my favorite in this team set.

Check this out… on August 30, 1974 Dave Nelson walked to lead off the bottom of the first, stole second while Cesar Tovar was at bat, stole third while Jeff Burroughs was at bat and then stole home while Mike Hargrove was at bat.  At the end of the inning the Rangers had scored one run on no hits and no errors.

BEST CARTOON
This is from Jim Shellenback’s card:

BEST NAME
Jim Gogolewski  (Yes, the top left corner is missing… looks like I should upgrade this card)

“BEFORE HE WAS WHO HE WAS” GUY
Current Phillies manager Pete Mackanin’s rookie card came after he appeared in 44 games in 1973.  He’d only appear in two games in 1974 and would get traded to the Expos after the season.

This card features Mackanin’s only cardboard with the Rangers, Manny Trillo’s only card with the A’s, and John Gamble’s only card, period (he appeared in 13 career games, all before this card came out) .

Dave Chalk appeared on a bunch of cards with the Angels… the spoilsport.

MOST CONSISTENT (IN A WAY) PITCHER
Jim Bibby won 19 games in 1974… and lost 19 games as well.  41 starts, 38 decisions, 11 complete games, 2 shutouts.

Bibby was originally signed by the Mets but went to the Cardinals in a 1971 8-player trade which included such luminaries as Art Shamsky, Jim Beauchamp and Chuck Taylor.  Bibby served in Vietnam, no-hit the A’s in 1973, was part of a trade which brought Gaylord Perry from Cleveland to Texas, and started Games 4 and 7 for the Pirates in the 1979 World Series (getting a no-decision in both games).

Bibby’s brother Henry played in the NBA from 1972 to 1981 and his nephew Mike (Henry’s son) played in the NBA from 1998 to 2012.

Random Team: 1974 Topps Philadelphia Phillies, Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m breaking this long Team Set post into two parts because for all the time it’s taken me to do what was meant to be “a fun and relatively quick post”, I want to get one day’s worth out of it.

Favorite Card
I just love this candid shot of Greg Luzinski sitting in the dugout. I like the Carlton and Bowa cards (from the prior post) as well, but this one is top of the heap.

Greg Luzinski played only 85 games in 1974 due to injuries, but he broke out in 1975, hitting 34 homers and leading the league with 120 RBI.

Best Cartoon
Catcher Mike Ryan

Best Rookie Card
Dick Ruthven, just because he had a decent career and he’s faking a pitching pose in front of the Shea Stadium bullpen.

In 1973 Ruthven had gone straight from Cal State–Fresno to the Phillies. He didn’t pitch in the minor leagues until 1975, when he spent a good chunk of his 3rd pro season at AAA Toledo. He’d go on to pitch in 14 seasons with the Phils, Braves and Cubs.

Best Name, Front Of The Card
Aurelio Monteagudo is referred to on the back of the card as a “journeyman reliever”. He was acquired from the Angels in an early December trade.

He would never pitch for the Phillies, or appear in the Majors after 1973, but still…

Aurelio Monteagudo.

Best Name, Back Of The Card
Mac Scarce is a pretty good name…

…but “Mac Scarce” hasn’t got anything on “Guerrant McCurdy Scarce”!

Two Best Variations
There are two Rookie Pitchers cards which include Phillies and have variations; the variations don’t involve the Phillies pitchers, but I’m going to share these here anyway.

Because it involves a Mets pitcher, the best variation is the one where Bob Apodaca’s name is misspelled “Apodaco”.

Mike Wallace would pitch for four teams over five seasons, and was traded to the Yankees in May, 1974. He appeared on three Topps cards in his career, and this is the only one which isn’t airbrushed; In 1975 Topps he was airbrushed into a Yankees cap, and in 1977 Topps he was airbrushed into a Rangers cap. He did appear in 1976 SSPC in a Cardinals uniform.

The second-best variation is the card which labels Dave Freisleben as being with “Washington”. This is, of course, part of the whole “Washington Nat’l. Lea.” thing.

Ron Diorio made 23 appearances in 1973 and 2 in 1974, all in relief. He did pitch well in 1973, flashing a 2.33 and 1.241 WHIP while getting a save.

Best insert
OK, one of the “Traded” cards would probably qualify as a better insert, but the unnumbered team checklist card will also do nicely.


Don’t forget to check out the series that I didn’t realize I was “borrowing” from: Night Owl’s “Joy Of A Team Set”!

Random Team: 1974 Topps Philadelphia Phillies, Part 1

Once again, I’ve fired up the Random-itron 2000 and it generated the next team set in this series; the 1974 Topps Philadelphia Phillies.

…But before I get started, you may be wondering what’s up with the “Part 1” in the subject line. Executive Summary: I spent too much time on this post and want to get at least two posts out of the work I put in. Detailed summary is down below.

Anyway…

The 1974 Phillies went 80-82 and finished 3rd in the 6 team NL East (8 games behind the division-winning Pirates).

The Phillies were managed by Danny Ozark, who was born Daniel Leonard Orzechowski.

He played 18 years in the Dodgers organization without ever making it to The Show, and was a coach with the Dodgers for a number of years before getting the managing job with the Phillies. He would manage the Phils for 7 years in the 1970’s, finishing in 1st place 3 years in a row, but never winning the NLCS.

Best Offensive Player
Mike Schmidt was a 24-year-old in his second full season, made his first All-Star team and lead the Majors in homers (36) and the N.L. in slugging percentage (.546).

He also had 28 doubles, 7 triples, 116 RBI and for good measure he stole 23 bases.

For anyone who is not familiar with this card, I will direct your attention to the Phillies bullpen cart parked on the left-hand side.

Best Pitcher
Steve Carlton was an All-Star in 1974, went 16-13, 3.22 and lead the league in K’s (240) and BB’s (136). He also had 17 complete games, which was 2nd in the NL.

This card was a finalist for “Best Action Shot” and “Favorite Card”, but I’ll admit I didn’t want to have one card represent three categories.

Best Player In A Supporting Role
I always forget that Jim Lonborg won a Cy Young award with the Red Sox in 1967. That year he went 22-9, 3.16, had a 1.138 WHIP and lead the league with 246 K’s.

In 1974, Lonborg went 17-13, 3.21 and pitched 16 complete games with 3 shutouts.

Here’s a fun Lonborg fact courtesy of Baseball-reference.com: “In the TV show ‘Cheers’, the picture behind the bar that was supposed to be Sam Malone pitching for the Red Sox is actually a picture of Lonborg.”

Most Notable Airbrush Job; Best Offensive Player In A Supporting Role
On 10/18/73, the Phillies acquired Dave Cash from the Pirates for Ken Brett.  This card and Ken Brett’s 1974 card both feature good airbrushing jobs, which goes to show that the airbrush artists could do good work when they weren’t up against a tight deadline.

Cash was an All-Star in his first season with the Phils and batted an even .300 in 1974, with 11 triples, 89 runs scored and 58 RBI.

Best Action Shot
Larry Bowa was also an All-Star in 1974, batted .275 and scored 97 runs.

Picking the “Best Action Shot” card was a tough decision, but I’ll stand by the Bowa card.

Best Player Not On A 1974 Card
Jay Johnstone had been in the Majors since 1966, but since he only appeared in 23 games in 1973, he did not appear on a 1974 baseball card… and even if he had, it wouldn’t have shown him with the Phillies, who picked him up in early April after the Cardinals cut him loose near the end of Spring Training.

Johnstone started the year with AAA Toledo and got called up in early July. Over the second half of the season, he appeared in 64 games and batted .295 with 30 runs scored and 30 RBI. Needless to say, he did get a card in 1975.

I will get into the rest of the categories in Part 2. And speaking of parts 1 and 2…


The original idea behind these posts was that they were supposed to be relatively quick… Scan and post a bunch of cards from a particular team, and let the cards do the talking.

Then, of course, my own tendencies took over, I started researching the players and the team and the cards and the next thing I know, I’m spending just as much time on these posts as any other I write.

Since this post was already in progress when I realized I was waaay down the rabbit hole in terms of research, I broke it down into two parts because I figured I might as well get two days’ worth of posts out of all the research I did.

I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do for the next team. I’ll probably cut back on the research and just go with the original idea of “This guy is good, this card is cool, this action shot is the best” and leave it at that… but we’ll see.


Don’t forget to check out the series that I didn’t realize I was “borrowing” from: Night Owl’s “Joy Of A Team Set”!