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.

Advertisements

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.

Random Team Review: 1975 Topps New York Yankees

Although I’m a life-long Mets fan, I also liked the Yankees when I was a kid in the mid-1970’s.

There, I’ve gotten that off of my chest. I’ve been meaning to write about that for… well, since the beginnings of this blog in late 2011.

…But to summarize: For my first three years of collecting (1974-1976), I also enjoyed having cards of the other New York team. I was young and naïve, everything was sunshine-y and there were no villains, just different strata of heroes.

So let’s get into the Yankees team set from 1975 Topps …


The 1975 Yankees went 83-77 and finished in 3rd place in the American League East. At the time, Yankee Stadium was undergoing an extensive renovation (and having all of its personality surgically removed), so the Yankees were in their second year of playing their home games at Shea Stadium. I’m still weirded out by any photos which show the Shea scoreboard with a Yankees logo featured up top. Heresy!!!

George Steinbrenner had purchased the team in 1973, and while I was too young at the time to know who Steinbrenner was, looking back it seems like 1975 was when the Yankees reached significant levels of Steinbrennerosity. GM Tal Smith resigned during the season, and manager (and Shlabotnik favorite) Bill Virdon was fired and replaced by Billy Martin… one of numerous reasons why Billy Martin was a first-ballot inductee into my “Hall Of Disdain”.

Best Position Player:
Thurman Munson was in his prime, batting .318 with 83 runs, 102 RBI and 12 homers. He was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and finished 7th in MVP voting..

Munson played in 157 games in 1975, 130 games as a catcher and most of the rest as a DH. He also made appearances at 1st, 3rd and in the outfield.

Best Pitcher Appearing in the set as a Yankee:
George “Doc” Medich was in his final season with the Yankees; he went 16-16 with a 3.50 ERA, 2 shutouts and 132 strikeouts.

Best Pitcher; Best Player Pictured With Another Team
Jim Hunter had his best season as a Yankee in his first season as a Yankee. He lead the league in wins and complete games, went 23-14 with a 2.58, 7 shutouts, 177 K’s and a 1.009 WHIP. Hunter was an All-Star and finished second to Jim Palmer in Cy Young voting after winning the award in 1974 with the A’s.

1975 was the 5th straight season he won 20 games, and the last season he would do so.

Favorite Card and Best On-Field Photo:
This photo of Bill Sudakis might not look great on a 2018 card, but it was pure gold in 1975.

Had there been a 1975 Traded set, Sudakis may have appeared in it as he had been traded to the Angels in December 1974 for reliever Skip Lockwood. My reaction to this information was “Skip Lockwood pitched for the Yankees?” only to find out that he didn’t make it to opening day; he was cut by the Yankees in early April, picked up by the A’s and later sold to the Mets.

Best Rookie card:
Easily the best career of any Yankee on a 1975 Topps rookie card belongs to Scott McGregor… and he never actually pitched for the Yankees.  In the Major Leagues McGregor was a career Oriole who would win 20 games in 1980.

I found out something fascinating about McGregor while researching this post.  Before the 1974 season A’s manager Dick Williams, who had quit his position in Oakland, was the Yankees first choice to be their manager.  The A’s demanded compensation for Williams, however, and at one point the two teams agreed on outfielder Otto Velez and Scott McGregor.  George Steinbrenner then decided that prospects were more important than managers and scuttled the deal.  The Yankees instead hired Bill Virdon, who had been let go by the Pirates.

Best 1975 Yankees Position Player Who Didn’t Appear On A 1975 Card:
I couldn’t decide on one player who should represent the “Best who didn’t appear on a 1975 card” category, so I split it into two categories. Walt Williams is the best Yankees position player not to appear in the 1975 Topps set.

In 1975 – his final season – Williams appeared in 82 games, batted .281 with 27 runs and 16 RBI.

Best 1975 Yankees Pitcher Who Didn’t Appear On A 1975 Card:
Tippy Martinez would have half as many appearances as Sparky Lyle, yet managed to lead the team with 8 saves.

Favorite Cartoon (on the back of Bill Sudakis’ card):

Best Name:
As a kid, I thought “Cecil Upshaw” sounded like a British movie character, perhaps played by Terry-Thomas… Someone who would say “Oh, drat!” after giving up a home run.

Best Nickname:
Fred “Chicken” Stanley – Fred’s a baseball lifer (currently a Special Assistant with the Giants) and every time I see him referenced somewhere, I think of him as “Chicken”.

You may be thinking “Hello?  Catfish Hunter?”, but I would rank Catfish no higher than 4th on this team, behind “No Neck” Williams and “Doc” Medich.

Most Notable Airbrushing:
This Yankees team had a lot of roster turnover, so there were plenty of airbrushing jobs to pick from, but there’s no doubting which is the most… ahhh… NOTABLE.

What makes this even more… um… interesting is that the Yankees had purchased May from the Angels the previous June… Rudy May pitched in 17 games, 15 of them starts, in 1974.  There really should’ve been a photo of May in a Yankees uniform, but then we wouldn’t have had THIS.

Card which looks terribly odd to any Orioles fan:
Rick Dempsey is so thoroughly associated with the Orioles these days that it’s strange to see him pictured with the Yankees… even though that’s how I first knew him.

The previous cards of Tippy Martinez and Scotty McGregor also fall into this category.  All three of them were involved in the same 10 player, June 1976 trade which saw Doyle Alexander, Ellie Hendricks, Ken Holtzman and Grant Jackson heading to the Bronx.

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…

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.