For those who missed Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, this series looks into cards in 1976 SSPC which show players with a team that you didn’t see on a ‘solo’ Topps card (but may have on a multi-player rookie card).
Cups of coffee with the Yankees in 1975 and 1977 was the only Major League action that Bergman saw before a November, 1977 trade sent him to Houston. He spent some time with the Astros, Giants and Phillies before ending up with the Tigers where he’d stick around for 9 years and win a World Series. He appeared on a 1978 Topps “Rookie Outfielders” card with an airbrushed Astros cap, but got a solo card with a spring training photo in the 1978 Burger King Astros set.
According to the back of this SSPC card, Roenicke was a September call-up in 1975, but he never appeared in a game. The 8th overall pick in the 1973 draft, he was blocked from the Majors by the Expos’ good young outfield of Andre Dawson, Ellis Valentine and Warren Cromartie. A late 1977 trade sent him to the Orioles, he played some in 1978 and then became the O’s starting left fielder in 1979, which got him a card in 1980 Topps. He was a member of the 1983 World Champion Orioles.
A 19-year-old when he made his 1969 debut, Jack Heidemann was Cleveland’s starting shortstop in 1970 and appeared on Topps cards from 1971 to 1973. He spent most of 1972 and all of 1973 and 1974 in AAA, which is why he was missing from 1974 Topps. He reappeared with the Cardinals in 1975 Topps, even though he’d been traded to the Mets in December, 1974. Missing from 1976 Topps, Heidemann was traded to Milwaukee during the 1976 season and had his last Topps card in 1977 Topps… but appeared in only 5 more Major League games that season and remained in AAA until 1979.
Several years before he’d appear on a 1978 Topps card, Tim Blackwell backed up Carlton Fisk in 1974 and 1975. It wasn’t until he was purchased by the Phillies and then traded to the Expos that he made his way onto mainstream cardboard. What makes it more interesting is that he appeared in more games in 1974 (44 games) or 1975 (59 games) than in 1976 and 1977 combined (21 games), yet he got his rookie card in 1978. Such is Topps.
The back of this Rodney Scott card reflects that he’d been sold to the Expos for the 1976 season. As a rookie with the Royals he was used mainly as a pinch-runner and he’d play only 7 games in that first go-round with Montreal before being traded to the Rangers in spring training of 1977… and then being flipped to the A’s 11 days later. He appeared on a 1978 Topps card with the A’s but was traded to the Cubs in 1978 spring training, and then traded back to the Expos after the 1978 season. It was with Montreal that Scott lead the league with 13 triples – 9 more than he got in any other season – and hit career highs with 84 runs and 63 stolen bases.
“Good glove, no bat” applies to Mick Kelleher, who never hit a home run in over 1000 at-bats. He came up with the Cardinals, made a brief appearance in Houston, but it wasn’t until after he’d established himself as a regular with the 1976 Cubs that he got his “true” rookie card in 1978 Topps.
Holy Toledo! Yes, that’s a Toledo Mud Hens uniform that Wayne Simpson is wearing on this 1976 SSPC card…. there were a handful of players and coaches depicted in their minor league uniforms towards the end of the set.
A two-hit shutout in your Major League debut is an excellent way to start one’s career, and Simpson followed that up with a rookie season all-star appearance, plus he lead the league with a .825 winning percentage (14-3) and finished 2nd to Tom Seaver with a 3.10 ERA. Simpson appeared on a 1971 Topps “ERA Leaders” card (1st series) before he had a “solo” Topps card (1971 3rd series). He also appeared in 1971 oddball sets like Kellogg’s, Milk Duds and the Topps Coins inserts. Arm injuries derailed his career, however, and even though he pitched through the 1978 season, he last showed up on a Topps card in 1973 and this SSPC card is his last cardboard appearance. FYI, the Mud Hens were the Phillies’ AAA team at the time, and Simpson did get a brief look with the Phillies in 1975
There are still more cards like these, plus players who got their only cards in 1976 SSPC, and also former Major Leaguers who appeared as coaches in this set (most famously Duke Snider with the Expos), but I think four posts on this subject is enough for now.