70 and 83 from 5… (Tool Collector)

I was recently graced with a padded envelope from CommishBob, whose The Five Tool Collector blog is regular reading for me, and whose tweets about his many retirement activities make me very jealous (but that’s another story).

Bob sent me a number of cards to aid me in my chase —

No, no, “chase” is not the right word for it… In my *casual pursuit* of the 1970 and 1983 Topps sets.  I’m currently too lacking in focus to truly chase anything, much less vintage or semi-vintage sets.

I have my doubts as to whether my budget will allow me to ever complete 1970 Topps (looking at you, high #’ed Nolan Ryan), but I’m perfectly happy to keep after it and see how far I can get.

Bob sent me two cards which end in ‘0’ plus one which ends with ’25’, so you know right away that these are no mere commons.

I’ll start off with the HOFer, Gaylord Perry.

In 1970, Perry had 23 wins and 5 shutouts and finished a distant second to Bob Gibson in Cy Young voting.

1970 saw Tony Oliva lead the league in hits for the 5th (and final) time, and lead the league in doubles for the 4th (and final) time.

Oliva is one of those guys where I’m mildly surprised that he’s not a HOFer (He peaked at 47.3% in 1988). He was a 3-time batting champ, 8-time All-Star and the 1964 AL Rookie of the Year

Bobby Bonds has the card which ends with 25, possibly because he’d lead the NL with 120 runs in 1969.

Bonds was still a young stud at the time, 24 years old in 1970 and a year away from his first All-Star appearance.

With these two famous Giants in hand, I started to ponder whether I’d already hurdled the major obstacles towards a 1970 Giants team set… and then I said “Oh… Willie Mays. Never mind”.

Before we get to the cards from the other casual pursuit, let us cleanse the palate with two cards which were not off a wantlist but nevertheless greatly appreciated.

This card is from… (takes a deep breath)… The 1998 Fleer Sports Illustrated World Series Fever set.

The 1986 Mets were the greatest Mets team of my baseball lifetime, and I appreciate any cardboard representation of that team… especially MOOKIE!!!  I have to admit, I can’t help liking Mookie Betts just because he’s another Mookie (although Betts is a Mookie that Red Sox fans would like).

Like most baseball card collectors, I always enjoy adding a Don Mossi card to my collection.

This is the sixth Mossi in my collection. I have to admit, I sometimes feel guilty for singling out Don Mossi because of his unique appearance, but I’ll blame early childhood exposure to “The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubblegum Book” for setting me down this path (and making the 1952 Topps Gus Zernial card a white whale for me).

OK, moving on… After getting a few of the 1983 Tribute cards in packs of 2018 Topps this year, it’s frankly kind of nice to get some real 1983’s which I need.

1983 saw the Baltimore Orioles win a World Championship… At that point in my life, the Orioles were just another team… although I will admit that I was rooting against the Phillies that year (but not against Tug McGraw… never against Tug himself).

Bob sent me both halves of the Orioles left field platoon that got them to the 1979 and 1983 World Series…

John Lowenstein…

…and Gary Roenicke

I loved these Super Veteran cards back in 1983; I wonder how well something like that would work now.

I would think that a subset which included guys like Bartolo Colon, Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera and Ichiro would be a pretty darn cool.

Double shot of Bruce Sutter…

..as well as Larry Bowa, looking strange in a Cubs uniform…

…Even while these non-glossy, printed-on-grey-cardboard 1983 cards look so *right* when compared to their 2018 counterparts.  I just can’t help it, I’m old school at heart.

As always, I have to send many thanks to Bob for the very enjoyable package!  I’m relieved that one of Bob’s latest projects is something I may be able to contribute to, and a return package is in the works.

Chasing After Trivia And Then Down The Rabbit Hole

I ran across a fun bit of trivia that I would think Mariners fans would know, but it’s still a fun challenge for everybody else.

Do you know what these five Seattle Mariners have in common?

Frank MacCormack (He doesn’t appear on a card with the Mariners, which is why I had to go with a borrowed image of a minor league issue)

1978 Mr. Chef's Fish & Chix San Jose Missions Frank MacCormack from COMC

1978 Mr. Chef’s Fish & Chix San Jose Missions #4 – Frank MacCormack – Courtesy of COMC.com

Rob Dressler
1981 Donruss Rob Dressler

Dave Elder
1981 Fleer Dave Edler

Gene Nelson
1983 Topps Gene Nelson

…And Harold Reynolds
1988 Topps Harold Reynolds

According to Baseball-reference.com, these are the five Mariners to have worn #24 before this guy…
1989 Donruss Ken Griffey
…And now that the Mariners have announced they will be retiring #24 for Ken Griffey Jr., there will be nobody else joining exclusive club.

FYI, Harold Reynolds also wore numbers other than 24 while with Seattle.

…And to be fair, Baseball Reference doesn’t count coaches and managers, so there may be others to have worn the number.

This is where I went down the rabbit hole I started wondering what other exclusive uni # clubs there are, not counting oddball numbers like 0 or 97. I could think of a few… The Yankees #4 (only Lou Gehrig), the Rays #12 (only Wade Boggs), The Expos #8 (Gary Carter and two other guys – BTW the Nats display but don’t “observe” retired Expos numbers), the Mets #41 (Seaver and five other guys), the Rockies #17 (Todd Helton and David Nied), the Royals #5 (George Brett and four guys), The Brewers #19 (Robin Yount and four guys) and #44 (Hank Aaron and three guys).

According to Baseball Reference, there was only one player who wore #19 before Tony Gwynn… Gene Richards:
1981 Fleer Gene Richards

But Gene Richards didn’t play in the majors until the late 1970’s. There must’ve been someone who wore the number in the years between 1969 and Gene Richards.

After a little poking around, I found Whitey Wietelmann.
1976 SSPC Whitey Wietelmann_0001
He was a coach from 1969 to 1979, but didn’t wear #19 the whole time… I’m guessing Richards asked for it and Wietelmann gave it up.

Here’s the back of Wietelmann’s SSPC card showing that #19 did indeed belong to him at the time:
1976 SSPC Whitey Wietelmann_0002

ANNNNNNYWAY… These are the ones I found before common sense stopped me from spending the entire afternoon researching these things. Does anybody know of any exclusive club numbers which I haven’t mentioned here?