Are We Not Stars?: 1972 Astros Rookie Stars

…Answering the age-old question, “Who are these guys?”

BTW, this is the rookie card for all three Astros.
1972 Topps Astros Rookies Greif Richard Busse

Bill Greif

Bill Greif played 7 of his 231 Major League games with the Astros, but they all came before this card was issued.  In December, 1971 he was traded to the Padres where he spent most of his 6-year career.

His first big league victory came in 1971 with the Astros when he entered a game against the Padres in the 20th inning.  Something you’ll never see again:  the starting pitchers – Ken Forsch and Clay Kirby – went 13 and 15 innings, respectively.

Getting back to Bill Greif; according to the cartoons on  his Topps cards, his nickname is “The Texas Tiger” and his hobby is hypnosis.  His other cardboard claim to fame comes from having been one of the “Washington Nat’l Lea.” cards in the 1974 set.

J.R. Richard

J.R. Richard was a heck of a pitcher in the late 1970’s.  He won 20 games in 1976 and won 18 games in each of the following three seasons.  During two of those seasons, he had 300+ strikeouts.  In 1979 he lead the NL in ERA and in 1980 he was a starting pitcher in the 1980 All-Star Game.

Shortly after that All-Star Game, he tragically suffered a stroke that ended his career.  He attempted a comeback, but never  made it all the way back.

J.R. Richard’s photo on this card intrigues me;  his cap is airbrushed in something that approximates orange, but it looks like his jersey says “HOUSTON”.  Richard got drafted in 1969, so it’s not a Colt .45 cap.   I can only guess that the original photo featured a black Astros cap, and Topps decided that a badly-airbrushed cap was better than an  out-of-date cap.

Ray Busse
Busse played a grand total of 68 Major League games over three seasons.  He was traded to the Cardinals before the 1973 season, and then got traded back to the Astros halfway through the season.  He spent all of 1972 playing for AAA Oklahoma City.

Busse also appeared on a 1973 Rookie card with Pepe Frias and Mario Guerrero.

Closest To Being A Star:  Although  his career was cut short, there’s no question that J.R. Richard was a star.

National Wantlist, Part 6: Seventy-Seven? Oh, Peachy.

Another thing I’ve been working on lately is 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball.  For those of you who don’t know (and who don’t follow the very informative “O, My O-Pee-Chee” blog), the 1977 OPC baseball set is based on 1977 Topps, but featured a number of differences to make things interesting.  It’s the one year they made a significant number of changes which go beyond text lines telling you that a player was “TRADED TO YANKEES”.  Not coincidentally, 1977 was the first year for the Toronto Blue Jays.

I’m not collecting the entire 1977 OPC set, but I am picking up any cards which have different photos, are airbrushed differently or just don’t exist in the Topps set to begin with (i.e. “Expos Coaches”).  That’s still a fair number of cards.

Here are some OPC Expos I picked up at a show in March, along with the Topps equivalents:

1974 Week: Washington “Nat’l Lea.” cards, part 2

Glenn Beckert was traded on 11/7/73 for Jerry Morales (who appears on his card as a Padre with a Cubs border).  I guess November is too late in the year for airbrushing (unless it’s a Traded card).

AKA Cito Gaston, former manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

No relation to Stephen Colbert.

I’ve always thought of this guy’s name as “grief”, as in “Oh, good grief!”  Now that I look at it, if it’s a German name then it would be pronounced with a vowel that rhymes with “eye”…. “Gr-eye-f”.  Anybody know how he pronounces his name?