The Hostess Lowdown

Recently in my 1970s: A-Z series I’ve been making note of those players who appeared in all five Hostess sets of the 1970s.  In the comments of the most recent post, San Jose Fuji wondered how many players are represented in all five sets.

“Good question”, I thought… and here we are.

There are 33 players who are featured in all five Hostess sets.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back with another post soon!

Oh, right, like I would let an opportunity like this to go by without my over-analyzing what I found by querying my card database. As it turns out, this also gives me an opportunity to show off three Hostess cards I got at the Water Buffalo Lodge show… how fortuitous!

…Cards like this 1975 Hostess Steve Garvey.

Steve Garvey…

…make sure you’re sitting down…


Some people are outraged that Garvey isn’t in the HOF, but it’s not the only slight of his career. Apparently starting the 1977 All-Star Game, winning a Gold Glove and driving in 115 runs was not sufficient to get Mr. Garvey into the 1978 Hostess set. Go figure.

Steve Garvey is not alone.  Some other players who surprised me by not appearing in all five Hostess sets include Steve Carlton (missing from 1976), Don Sutton (1976), Carlton Fisk (1978), Rollie Fingers (1979) and Carl Yastrzemski (1978 & 1979).

Before I go any further, let’s take a quick break to show off another Hostess acquisition and then take a step back to look at the big picture.

This is the first of three Hostess cards for Rich “Goose” Gossage (1976, 1977, 1979)

There are 5 Hostess sets – 1975 to 1979 – with 150 cards each.  That gives us a total of 750 cards.  According to my findings, there are 332 different players featured in at least one Hostess set, which would average a little over 2.25 cards per player.

As I mentioned, there are 33 players who appear in all five sets:  Bill Madlock, Bobby Murcer, Buddy Bell, Cesar Cedeño, Dave Concepción, Dave Kingman, Dave Lopes, Dave Winfield, Gary Matthews, Gaylord Perry, Gene Tenace, Graig Nettles, Greg Luzinski, Hal McRae, Jim Palmer, Jim Sundberg, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Mike Hargrove, Mike Schmidt, Nolan Ryan, Pete Rose, Phil Niekro, Reggie Jackson, Rick Reuschel, Robin Yount, Rod Carew, Ron Cey, Ted Simmons, Thurman Munson, Toby Harrah, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell.

UPDATE:  There are *34* players who are in all five sets… I missed Bobby Grich because one of his Hostess cards was listed as “Bob Grich” in my database, so it didn’t sum up right.  Thanks to Dime Boxes Nick for catching that!

Robin Yount is a fairly surprising member of this list, as his 1975 Hostess card came out the same season as his official rookie card.  “Rookie year” cards don’t often show up in Hostess… for example, George Brett is also well-known for his 1975 rookie card, but didn’t show up in 1975 Hostess (and unlike Yount he got some 1974 Rookie of the Year votes).  Brett appeared in every Hostess set from 1976 to 1979.

Even more surprising on the list of Five-Timers are Mike Hargrove (who was, at least, the 1974 AL ROY) and Rick Reuschel… (FYI, this Reuschel is not one of my new cards)

As you might think, there are more players with four cards than there are with five.  I won’t list them all, but there are 42 of them.  Some of the somewhat surprising players who did appear in 4 cards include Freddie Patek, John Candelaria, John Mayberry, Jorge Orta and Willie Montañez.

…and Larry Hisle.  This well-loved example is the last of my new Hostess acquisitions.

Breaking it down the rest of the way, there are also 42 players with 3 cards, 76 with 2 cards and 139 with 1 card.

Part of why there might be a weird discrepancy of who gets in the sets and who does not is because Hostess tried to keep each team equally represented, more or less.  Generally speaking there are 5 or 6 cards per team in any given Hostess set, so that might be why 1978 has no Garvey but does have Oakland’s Earl Williams and his 38 RBI.

One thing I discovered, and which is something that isn’t all that surprising, is that there are fewer cards of the Expos and Blue Jays than there are of the other teams.  This makes sense since Hostess snack cakes weren’t sold in Canada.  Yes, the Blue Jays were an expansion team in 1977 and didn’t have much in the way of good players, but they still had about half as many cards as their partners in expansion, the Seattle Mariners.

I’m sure if I put my mind to it I could slice ‘n dice the checklists in a number of other ways, but I think this is enough for now.

Keeping It Three: Expansion Hostess

I started to follow baseball in 1974, which meant that my first exposure to expansion was… well, my first exposure to the concept of expansion came in 1976 when the NFL added the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – who, in their still-missed creamsicle color scheme, proceeded to lose the first 26 games of their existence.  But while that 1976 NFL season was underway, the American League was having an expansion draft of their own, as they were populating the rosters of the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners.

…and yes, it was the American League that was expanding, not Major League Baseball. The leagues were still separate entities then, and all of the players were drafted from the 12 existing AL teams.

Since I wasn’t anywhere near Toronto or Seattle at the time, I only knew the team logos from the black and white representations in my local newspaper, and knew nothing of the actual uniforms.  The first clue – and I use that very broadly – I got as to what these teams would look like on the field came when 1977 Topps came out and I saw a number of players (plus the managers and coaches) airbrushed into something vaguely resembling the caps the teams would wear.

Throw in the fact that I have a soft spot for airbrushing — Hey, it’s what I grew up with! — and these 1977 cards occupy a special place in my collection.

With that in mind, it surprised me a little when I realized that I never made a point of collecting the 1977 Hostess cards of these teams.

And so, here are three of the first ones I’ve picked up…

Dave McKay was selected from the Twins with the 49th pick in the draft and was something of a supersub, playing at 2nd, 3rd and short with the Jays. McKay was born in Vancouver, and I’m sure that factored into the Jays drafting plans, even if only a little.

Steve Braun was selected from the Twins with the 38th pick. Braun had been a Topps All-Star Rookie and was a member of the 1982 World Champion Cardinals.

OK, I swear I didn’t intend for it to work out this way, but… Bill Singer was also drafted from the Twins with the 28th pick. Singer had been around the block a few times by 1977, having broken into the majors with the Dodgers in 1964.

Bill Singer’s expression kind of reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live sketch with Steve Martin and Bill Murray… “What the hell is that? What the hell *is* that?”

Since all three of today’s players had been drafted from the Twins, I feel like I should mention that the other players drafted from the Twins were pitcher Jerry Garvin (selected 4th overall by the Jays) and outfielder Alvis Woods (15th by the Jays).

During the course of writing this post, I got the idea “Hey, maybe I should collect those 1976 Bucs & Seahawks!”, but unfortunately those team sets have no airbrushing, just helmetless players wearing the jerseys of whatever team they came from. Pity.

…But in the meantime… What the hell is that?

Fast Five: Airbrushed Hostess Cards

I’d planned on getting back on a regular posting schedule this week, but I’m finding the break to be restorative, plus I got a large box of cards from A Cracked Bat.  It’s quite the eclectic box and it’s going to take quite a bit of my hobby time to go through it (and scan a bunch of cards, because I see several posts coming out of it).

…And by the time I’m done with that I should be getting my shipment from COMC.  Plenty of good stuff coming your way!

But in the meantime I hope you’ll enjoy a couple of Fast Five posts… Today I’m featuring five Hostess cards which feature airbrushed uniforms.

1977 Hostess Andy Messersmith

Messersmith turned two excellent seasons with the Dodgers into a big (for the time) contract with the Atlanta Braves.

1978 Hostess Bruce Bochte

The Mariners signed Bochte as a free agent (he’d been with the Indians in 1977) and he rewarded them with a career year, batting .310 with 38 doubles, 81 runs and 100 RBI.

1978 Hostess Mike Torrez

Mike Torrez bounced around for a few years, being involved in trades which included a bunch of big names (Ken Singleton, Dave McNally, Don Baylor, Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman, Dock Ellis) and signed with the Red Sox as a free agent.

1979 Hostess Alan Ashby

The Blue Jays traded Ashby to the Astros for Joe Cannon, Pete Hernandez and Mark Lemongello, all of whom would play for the Jays but none would have a tremendous impact.

1979 Hostess Sparky Lyle

Sparky Lyle was the Yankees’ closer, won the Cy Young in 1977 and then the Yanks got Goose Gossage the following year and Lyle was eventually traded to Texas in a 10-player deal which would bring Dave Righetti to the Bronx.

I feel like the Topps airbrush artist should get some recognition for including the button and buttonhole from the Rangers’ Henley jerseys.

Ya Get Whatcha Get: Four Airbrushed Hostess Cards

1976 Hostess Jim Wynn
1976 Hostess Jimmy Wynn
On 11/17/75, the Dodgers traded Wynn, Lee Lacy, Tom Paciorek and Jerry Royster to the Braves for Dusty Baker and Ed Goodson.  Unlike his Topps card, Wynn was airbrushed into the blue road uniform.

1977 Hostess Bert Campaneris
1977 Hostess Bert Campaneris
Signed with the Rangers as a free agent.  The airbrush job is better on his Hostess card than on his Topps card.

1978 Hostess Bert Blyleven
1978 Hostess Bert Blyleven
On 12/8/77, Blyleven was involved in a complex trade by the Rangers, Pirates, Mets and Braves. Among the other players flying in every which direction were Al Oliver, Willie Montanez, Jon Maatlack, Ken Henderson and John Milner.

The airbrush artist gets major bonus points for doing the gold and black pinstripes, even if he did use a slightly dated cap design.  Blyleven’s Topps and Kellogg’s cards show him with the Rangers.

1979 Hostess Rod Carew
1979 Hostess Rod Carew
On 2/3/79, the Twins traded him for Ken Landreaux and three other guys.  Carew’s 1979 Topps and Kellogg’s cards show him with the Twins.

1977 Hostess Rennie Stennett

NOTE: At one point in this blog’s 3-year history I featured a Hostess card every weekend, but I stopped doing that because I got tired of “having” to stick to a schedule. This card’s been sitting in my drafts folder ever since, and needs to be liberated.

Fly and be free!

1977 Hostess Rennie Stennett

Thanks to the highlight card in the 1976 Topps set, the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Rennie Stennett to me is his feat on September 16, 1975 when he went 7-for-7 in a 9-inning game. The Pirates routed the Cubs 22-0 that day, which is how Stennett came to have 7 AB’s in the first place.

In 1977, Rennie Stennett was having an outstanding season, stealing a career-high 28 stolen bases and making a run at the batting title with a .336 average. In August of that year he broke his ankle sliding into second base. He was out for the season, and would never be the same again.

After being replaced at 2nd by Phil Garner in 1979, Stennett became a free agent and signed a 5-year contract with the Giants.  He was a starter in 1980, a backup in 1981, and released in 1982 with 3 years left on his contract.

The Unfortunate Boomer And Other Hostess Airbrushings

In a post last week I was singing the praises of the airbrushing job done on this 1977 O-Pee-Chee card:
1977 OPC George Scott

Yesterday I was poking through my folders of scans and I ran across the “What could’ve been” example in my Hostess folder.  As good as the airbrushing on that OPC was, that’s how… um… not good the airbrushing on this 1977 Hostess was:

1977 Hostess George Scott

Same year, same traded player, very different results.

…And if you were wondering why I’m featuring this card now instead of a few days ago when I featured the OPC card, I’ll just say “That’s part of the stream-of-consciousnness fun you get with The Shlabotnik Report!”

….Which sounds better than “I’m somewhat disorganized and always writing posts at the last minute!”

To continue the theme of “Airbrushings one might not include in one’s portfolio”, let’s move on to this 1975 Tug McGraw.  The logo isn’t bad, but the perspective is wrong, the shade of red is wrong, the lack of pinstripes is wrong…

1975 Hostess Tug McGraw

The Mets traded Tug to the Phillies in December, 1974 for… you know what, we’re not going to talk about that right now… (Full disclosure:  I’m a Mets fan)

Continuing with 1975, here’s another one where the logo seems to “float” over the cap…

1975 Hostess Bobby Murcer

As an up-and-coming young player, Murcer had been touted as the “Next Mickey Mantle”, and while he was a fine player, nobody should be labeled as the “Next” anybody.  The Yankees traded Murcer to the Giants for Bobby Bonds in October, 1974.

On this 1978 Hostess card, Bruce Bochte has the look of a man who knows his uniform is going to be poorly airbrushed…

1978 Hostess Bruce Bochte

No trades were involved this time, Bochte had signed with the Mariners as a free agent.

…So What Happens When Jeter’s Gone?

In yesterday’s post, I got to wondering how much the Yankees will miss Robinson Canó, and while they have what looks like a hole at second base, I was also thinking on a grander scale.

I think the Yankees were right to stick to their guns and not get into “crazy-ass money”, but they’re on the verge of losing what made them different from the other teams which were assemblages of high-priced talent.

The great Yankee teams always had at least one “real Yankee” who spent his career in pinstripes or were so thoroughly associated with the Yankees that he may as well have done so.

I don’t have to tell you about the long line of All-Star caliber players who are associated with the Yankees and only the Yankees… Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, blah blah blah.

1977 Hostess Thurman Munson

When I was a kid, Thurman Munson was that guy until his untimely death in 1979.  By the way, this is the first card I’m featuring from my COMC Black Friday haul.

To my thinking, Ron Guidry became THE GUY for a number of years…

1979 Topps Ron Guidry RB

(…and this is the second Black Friday card I’m featuring…)

Overlapping with Guidry, Don Mattingly picked up the mantle (pun only slightly intended).

1985 Topps Don Mattingly

Before Donnie Baseball faded to black (or navy blue), we had Bernie Williams…

1997 UD Collectors Choice Bernie Williams

…and we also had the “Core Four” of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

2000 Pacific Derek Jeter Portrait

But once Jeter retires or spontaneously combusts, who else will be the guy who epitomizes the Yankee Way? Brett Gardner? Brett Gardner is a good player, but is he worthy of being at the top of the Yankee Yooniverse?  Will he even make it to 2014 with the Yankees?  Will prospects like Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams pan out in time to carry the torch?

I mean, I don’t know if Canó really was THAT GUY to begin with, but he was certainly the highest profile guy to break in with the Yankees in the 21st century.

So what happens post-Jeter?  Will the Yankees become just a gathering of highly-paid mercenaries without the heart and soul of a Yankee dynasty?

One can only hope…  But I suspect that the Yankees will be fine.


Hostess Card Of The Week: 1977 Doug DeCinces

1977 Hostess Doug DeCincesDoug DeCinces had the unenviable task of taking over at third base after Brooks Robinson retired.  DeCinces was inducted into the Orioles Hall Of Fame in 2006, so you know this story has a reasonably happy ending.

Even so, many of Doug DeCinces career highlights came after he was traded to the Angels for “Disco” Dan Ford early in 1982.

DeCinces responded to the trade by having a notable season in 1982;  he had career highs with a .301 average, 42 doubles, 5 triples, 30 homers and 97 RBI’s;  he won a Silver Slugger that year and played in the ALCS against the Brewers.

Over the course of his career he had 1505 hits, 312 doubles and 237 homers.

Before retiring, he played a season in Japan with the Yakult Swallows.

Hostess Card Of The Week: 1977 Tom Grieve

1977 Hostess Tom GrieveTom Grieve is a former player with the Senators/Rangers, Mets and Cardinals… but his playing career is only part of the story. There aren’t many people who have been associated with the Rangers as long as he has… He was drafted with the 6th overall pick by the Senators in 1966 and moved with the team to Texas in 1972. He was traded to the Mets in late 1977, in a 4-team deal involving the Rangers, Mets, Braves and Pirates that I wrote about 2 weeks ago. After brief stints with the Mets and Cardinals, he returned to the Ranger’s front office in the early 1980’s where he worked for a number of years, leading up to being the GM. After 10 years as the GM, he went to the TV booth, where he’s been the on-air analyst since 1995. He was the Rangers player of the year in 1976 (Batting .255 with 20 homers and 81 RBI) and is in the Rangers Hall Of Fame.

Tom’s two sons also played professionally; His son Ben was the second overall pick in the 1994 draft and was the 1998 AL Rookie Of The Year. Older son Tim was also drafted in 1994 by the Royals and never made it to the Majors… but did get on a Topps card.

Tom and Ben Grieve were the first father/son combination to both be drafted in the first round.

Can I just mention that I really hate the jersey on this card? There are a number of aesthetic ‘features’ that I can pick on, but the main thing is that I despise two-button pullovers like this. If you like the style of a button-down jersey, this is just a half-assed version of one… and if you don’t like button-down jerseys, then those two buttons are just there to taunt you and look tacky. And come on, let’s be honest. Would anybody ever button those up all the way? The top button is just ornamental, and there ain’t no button worse than an ornamental button.

…But I’ll freely admit that I’ve got an inexplicable thing against buttons.

Oh, as long as I’m off on tangents, I discovered something after last week’s Hostess card. I had wondered if I was unintentionally favoring certain teams over others, so I went through all my Hostess posts – nearly a year’s worth! – with the intention of featuring any teams that had been underrepresented. Not only did I find out that I’ve never featured a Ranger or Blue Jay, I also realized that I can’t feature a Blue Jay because out of the 200+ Hostess cards that I have, I don’t have a single Blue Jay. It’s not for lack of trying; I’m at a stage where I buy up any commons and affordable stars I come across. It’s just dumb luck, combined with the fact that the Jays didn’t exist for the first two Hostess sets. Sorry, Toronto, I’ll rectify that as soon as I can.

Just in case you were wondering, the most-represented teams in my Hostess posts are the Mets, Yankees and Braves with 4 each, while 7 teams were featured 3 times.

Hostess Card Of The Week: 1977 Jerry Koosman

1977 Hostess Jerry KoosmanToday is the 70th birthday for one of the greatest pitchers the Mets ever had, Jerry Koosman.  Jerry pitched for the Mets from 1967 to 1978, and ranks high among the Mets all-time leaders… 3rd in wins and strikeouts, 5th in ERA and 2nd in complete games and shutouts.

He shares his 1968 rookie card with Nolan Ryan; a rare example of a “Rookie Stars” card having two bona fide stars on it.

In 1968, he went 19-12, with a 2.08 ERA and 178 K’s.  He lost the NL Rookie Of The Year to Johnn Bench by one vote, but he was on the All-Star team and was named to that year’s Topps Rookie All-Star Team.

During the 1969 “Miracle Mets” season, he was again an All-Star, went  17-9 with a 2.28 ERA and 180 strikeouts and got wins in Games 2 and 5 of the World Series.  He pitched a complete game in Game 5, which won the Series for the Mets.

1976 was another great year for Kooz, as he finished second to Randy Jones in 1976 Cy Young voting after finishing with a 21-10 record with a 2.69 ERA and 200 K’s.

After the Mets had traded away many of their best players in 1977, Koosman went one more year with the Mets before demanding a trade.  He was traded to the Twins for two minor leagues, one of whom was Jesse Orosco, who would go on to play a major role on the 1986 Mets championship team.

Jerry would win 20 games for the Twins in 1979, and would go on to pitch for the White Sox and Phillies before injuries ended his career.

Over his career he won 222  games with 2556 K’s.

Happy birthday, Jerry!