The Guy Before The Guy: Trammell And Molitor

It’s been a while since I did a “Guy Before The Guy” post, so to recap the idea behind this topic… I do a little digging into retired uniform numbers and find out who the next-to-last guy to wear the number was …In other words, the guy before the guy for whom the number was retired.

This time around I thought I’d focus on two Hall-Of-Famers who share a 1978 rookie card, Alan Trammell and Paul Molitor.

Alan Trammell, Tigers, #3
Tito Fuentes wore #3 for the Tigers in 1977 but after the season his contract was sold to the Expos so Tito and his headband headed north of the border.

Side note for any musicians out there trying to find a good name for your band: You could do a lot worse than “Tito And The Headband”.

Meanwhile, Alan Trammell wore #42 during his September, 1977 callup – BOTH of his numbers are retired, ooooh — but took over #3 starting in 1978.

In one of those situations at which I scoff – SCOFF, I TELL YOU! – there had been two players who wore #3 *after* Trammell retired: Gary Sheffield and Ian Kinsler.  I suppose there could’ve been bad blood after Trammell’s managerial stint, but otherwise it doesn’t seem like his number should’ve been retired if they were willing to give it away twice.

OK, off the soapbox and on to the next number…

Paul Molitor, Brewers, #4

Mike Hegan played his second stint with the Brewers from 1974 to 1977; however, he wore #6 for most of that time.

When the Brewers signed three-time World Champion and four-time All-Star Sal Bando after the 1976 season, Hegan switched to #4 so that Bando could continue wearing #6. The Brewers released Mike Hegan in July, 1977 and nobody wore #4 until Molitor made his MLB debut on opening day of the 1978 season.

And now you know who was the guy before the guy.

I started this post back in December and the first draft included this scan of a 1976 Topps Terry Humphrey… Only I can’t remember why.

If anyone can establish a link between Trammell (or Molitor) and Humphrey… well… have at it.


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.

Fauxbacks And Throwbacks: Rays And Indians On 1978 Customs

This past weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians had a game which threw back to some unspecified year in the 1970’s. Of course, the Rays only go back to 1998, but God bless them, that doesn’t stop them from throwing back to the 1970’s.

I love any games which turn the clock back to the 1970’s, plus each team featured a player who spent the first half of the season with the Mets… and it also gives me an excuse to do some further work on my 1978 Topps baseball custom template… I mean, how could I resist?

Since the Rays were the home team driving the WABAC machine, I’ll start off by highlighting their unis, and their first baseman/DH Lucas Duda.

Sure, these unis are a knockoff of the Padres uniform of the late 1970’s, but I still like them.  I also like the fact that they use Fauxback uniforms rather than throwing back to the two older uniforms they could throw back to instead (the original rainbow “Devil Rays” and then the dark green “Rays” unis they wore from 2001 to 2007).

The Indians wore the solid red unis they wore from 1975 to 1977… and here’s our other former Met, Jay Bruce.  G’day, Bruce!

Bruce’s time with the Mets got off to a rough start last year, but I’d warmed up to him this year… just in time for him to be gone.  He could go back to the Mets as a free agent, I suppose.

Not the greatest shot of Francisco Lindor, but it shows off the uni nicely… and I like Lindor.

I probably should’ve made note of who’s foot he’s tagging.

The majority of 1978 Topps cards had the little baseball in the upper right, but it did migrate over to the left when the photo required it… If you don’t believe me, go pull out your 1978 Darrell Porter card.

I like this photo because it seemed sort of “1970’s action shot” ish.

In case anybody was wondering, I made the “Rays” script by taking the “R” from… um… I think it was the Royals… and merging it with the “ays” from “Blue Jays”.  A little squishing, a little nudging, a little stretching… et Voila!

Within the actual 1978 Topps set, the purple-y blue-ish script went with red borders (Orioles, Dodgers, Brewers, Pirates), but I felt justified in creating a new color combination for a team which didn’t exist in 1978.  Besides, it fits the Rays’ colors quite nicely.

As is always the case when I share any 1978 customs, I would like to take the opportunity to taunt challenge the graphics department at Topps.  Let’s get the 1978 design in Archives!  If someone like me, a self-taught amateur using 13-year-old software, can create these, then surely you highly-paid… or maybe not so highly-paid…. OK, fine, you paid professionals can handle it without breaking a sweat.

Random Team: 1978 Topps Kansas City Royals

I shoulda known.

I did my first random team set, had fun doing it and I got positive comments to that first post.  I thought that, at worst, I was building on the “Five Random Cubs Cards” posts that Wrigley Wax does every Sunday (as well as other people’s randomly-based posts).

…Only to realize that what I did was not some great idea out of the blue, not an adaptation of a different idea, but instead was the same as something that Night Owl’s been doing for a couple of years.  Damn.

After some deliberation I decided that I needed to go where inspiration takes me, no matter how lacking in originality it might be.  So with credit and apologies to Night Owl, I’m going to keep doing these posts as long as I enjoy them and you read them.

Anyway, I fired up the randomizer again and came up with the Kansas City Royals from 1978 Topps.

This is very welcome to me, because 1978 was the 5th and final year of my initial “Topps can do no wrong!” phase where I completed every set within, at most, two years of starting it.

Sadly, there are no cartoons on the backs of 1978 Topps cards and there are no airbrushed Royals in this team set, so the “Best Cartoon” and “Notable Airbrushing” categories will get a rest time around.

The 1978 Royals finished in 1st with a 92-70 record, 5 games ahead of the Angels and Rangers.  They lost the ALCS to the Yankees in four.

Manager Whitey Herzog had taken over the Royals midway through the 1975 season and had had nothing but success with the team.  His prior two managerial jobs didn’t go as well.  He lost 91 of 138 games with the 1973 Rangers before being fired.  He went 2-2 as an interim manager for the 1974 Angels.

Whitey is in the HOF as a manager;  as an outfielder he kicked around with the Senators, KC Athletics, Orioles and Tigers for 8 seasons.  As is all-too-often the case with manager cards, this “old guy” from my youth was younger (46) than I am now.  *Sigh*

Best Offensive Player: 

Nope, not George Brett.  I’d almost forgotten how good Amos Otis could be.  He batted .298 with 74 Runs, 30 doubles, 22 homers, 96 RBI, and 32 Stolen Bases.

Best Pitcher: 

Dennis Leonard went 21-17 with a 3.33 ERA, 183 K’s, 20 complete games and 4 shutouts.  Just to pick a random current veteran pitcher, Justin Verlander has 23 complete games spread out over his 11 full seasons.

Best Performance In A Supporting Role: 

Larry Gura went16-4, 2.72 with a 1.096 WHIP.  Like Elston Howard in Monday’s post, Gura gets an extra brownie point for being with the Yankees during the short time I liked the Yankees.

Guy I can’t NOT mention (and, yeah, fine he also has the All-Star shield): 

George Brett lead the league with 45 doubles and batted .294, but Amos Otis’ overall numbers were better.

Best Name:

You’re welcome, 11-year-old boys of all ages.  Joe Zdeb came in a close second.

Something about this photo reminds me of George Harrison.  Pete LaCock doesn’t really look like George Harrison, but I think there’s something about his expression that reminds me of George.  I don’t know… it’s stupid but I mention it anyway.

Best Rookie Card: 

U.L. Washington can brag about how much his rookie card is worth, and maybe he’ll forget to mention that he shares it with two HOFers a HOFer, a player who probably should be in the HOF… AND the awesomely-named Mickey Klutts.

Best Player not on a card:
Pitcher Rich Gale’s rookie card would come in 1979 Topps.  As a 24-year-old in 1978 he went 14-8 with a 3.09 ERA and 3 shutouts.  He finished 4th in AL ROY voting (Lou Whitaker was the winner) and finished tied with Ken Singleton for 34th (!!!!) in AL MVP voting (Jim Rice was the winner;  Rick Burleson and Frank Tanana tied for 36th).

Best In-Game/Action Shot: 

I modified the name of this category because Darrell Porter’s not actually doing anything and the true action shots in this team set are kinda boring.  This is also the winner of the “Favorite Card” category.

Most Likely To Succeed (Down The Road):

Buck played for the Brewers in 1978 after being involved in an offseason 3-team trade.  He’d later manage the Blue Jays, and was also the manager of the USA team in the first World Baseball Classic.  He currently is a broadcaster for the Blue Jays.

Player I scanned and uploaded by mistake and, well, here he is:
I could’ve also listed him as “Best Aviators”.

Not that Al Cowens was a slouch;  he was second in 1977 MVP voting, and in 1978 he batted .274 with 63 runs and 63 RBI (not a typo).

The White Sox Got Very 1970’s; I Got Very Nerdy

Thursday night, the Chicago White Sox threw back to their late 1970’s “leisure suit” uniforms.  I love anything associated with 1970’s baseball, and these uniforms are so bad that they’re…

No, sorry, I can’t go there.  1970’s or not, they’re not “so bad that they’re good”.  They’re just bad… tremendously bad.  …But I do appreciate the fact that the White Sox did throwback to these unis, and I can’t let 1970’s throwbacks go by without making customs…
2015 TSR 1978 Carlos Rondon
Officially, these uniforms “throw back” to 1976, but they didn’t show up on baseball cards until 1977… and I don’t have a 1977 template yet, so I went with 1978.  It still works.

While I was making these, I also decided to play around with some ideas I’d had to simulate the printing of 1970’s baseball cards.

NOTE TO THE CASUAL READER:  I can understand if any of the following makes your eyes glaze over, and I won’t be offended if you stop reading… but just so you know, there are several more customs in this post.  Go check ’em out before you bail on me.

Part of the problem with making customs using today’s technology is that the customs end up being high-definition, and that takes away from the illusion of the throwback card. I’ve been thinking of ways around that, and these are my first experiments with that concept.

My graphics software has an interesting pair of tools… “Split Channel” and “Combine Channel”. Split Channel more or less gives you images like you’d have on a printing plate. For these cards, I split them into three channels, Red, Blue and Green (RGB), which I think is true to 1970’s printing. I could’ve also done it as CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), which is what we generally pull when we get printing plate inserts in our wax packs.

Anyway, I made a custom, saved it, split it into RGB channels, which created a red, green and blue image.  In order to simulate a printing mistake, I took the “blue” image, adjusted the brightness, moved it just a tiny bit so it wouldn’t align with the other two colors, and then combined the three channels back into one image; this is what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson RGB mess with blue

And this is the original:
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson

It’s a subtle difference, especially when you’re viewing it on a blog, but it does give it a sort of “not a PSA 10” quality that I was looking for.

For the next custom, I did something similar but I messed with the red channel instead of the blue… and probably messed a little too much, because the custom ended up with a blue tinge… but that’s cool, it’s all part of the experiment, right?
2015 TSR 1978 Tyler Saladino RBG Red adjust

For the final custom, I tried another idea. I created the custom, then I duplicated that image into another layer, brought the transparency of the top layer way down to something like 20%, and then I moved it slightly horizontally and vertically. I was hoping to give it a little “fuzziness”.  Here’s what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 Adam Eaton offset

None of these are exactly what I had in mind, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t successful experiments.

And yes, I am a total nerd.