PWE From An Alternate Universe: A Couple Of Alt-1974’s

It’s been nearly a year since I’d last mentioned it, but there’s an inter-dimensional rift in my attic and some small objects have fallen through it from an alternate universe into ours.  It’s not as uncommon as one would think, many people have them in their houses but instead of recognizing them for what they are, they just find random objects in a closet or basement and wonder “Where the heck did this come from?”

If someone finds a ball point pen or a garlic press from another universe, it’s unusual origins aren’t often noticeable.  When it comes to baseball cards, however, sometimes the differences come out and slap you in the face.  Here’s an example I posted a couple of years ago:
1975 Alt U Gorman Thomas

In recent months I’ve been able to get in touch with my own counterpart from that universe, and we’ve started trading.  Here’s a self-portrait that “Alt-U Joe” sent me…
Alt-U Joe
Since the rift between us is particularly small, we’ve only been able to exchange a few cards at a time, so a PWE is the norm with our trades.

Alt-U Joe knows I love 1974 Topps, so he sent me a couple of cards from his universe’s version.

First off is the Milwaukee Braves’ Gary Gentry.
1974 Topps Alternate Universe Gary Gentry
As a Mets fan, I’m always interested in cards which feature anybody from the 1969 Miracle Mets… but I wasn’t expecting Gentry to have played for the Milwaukee Braves. I would think that their Atlanta would’ve gotten their own team at some point, but I don’t know if it was a different relocation or an expansion team or what. So much to learn about that other universe.

The other card I got was a Traded card of Ron Santo… In both universes, back in late 1973, the Cubs worked out a deal to send their All-Star 3rd baseman to the Angels.  In this universe Santo blocked the deal and he was sent to the White Sox instead.  Over in the alternate universe, Santo either didn’t or wasn’t able to block the deal .  Either way…
1974 Topps Alternate Universe Ron Santo
…And since I’m sure that many of you aren’t familiar with Santo to the Angels, here are the details on the back of the card.
1974 Topps Alternate Universe Ron Santo back

That’s all I’ve got for this time. The inter-dimensional rift is small and unstable, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to get more cards from Alt-U Joe, but when I do you can be sure that I’ll share them with you!

My Favorite Card Of The Moment: 1976 Kellogg’s Frank Tanana

My favorite recent acquisition was one I got on COMC because it was a cheap Kellogg’s card. It wasn’t until after I saw it in person that I fell in love with this card.

It’s got a fake cloud background. It’s got a fake pitching pose. It’s made with technology which fakes a 3-D effect. And it is GENUINELY AWESOME.
1976 Kellogg's Frank Tanana
During the 1970’s, the Angels’ combination of Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana formed a righty/lefty combo that was feared throughout the American League. Tanana was a 3-time All-Star, lead the AL with 269 K’s in 1975 and a 2.54 ERA in 1977. Also in 1977, Tanana and Tom Seaver lead the Majors with 7 shutouts.

An arm injury ended Tanana’s flamethrowing days, but he reinvented himself, remained an effective pitcher for many years and had one of the better careers of any pitcher not in the Hall Of Fame. His 2,773 strikeouts ranks 21st, his 616 starts ranks 18th, his 4,118.1 innings pitched ranks 34th. According to, his 57.5 career WAR ranks above such notables as Mariano Rivera, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, and Orel Hershiser.

Tanana’s 1977 Topps card pointed me towards a very interesting boxscore… On August 27th, 1976, Tanana and Catfish Hunter went toe-to-toe, each pitcher shutting out the opposing team’s batters for 13 innings. Hunter struck out 8, Tanana struck out 13 while giving up only 7 hits and 2 walks. Both teams went to the bullpen in the 14th and the Yankees scored 5 times in the 15th to win 5-0.

1976 SSPC #196 – Rudy Meoli (Angels/Padres)

1976 SSPC #196 Rudy Meoli
Rudy Meoli… was given the starting shortstop job as an Angels rookie in 1973. His .223 average combined with other Angel options resulted in his being turned into a utility player, a role he never escaped despite having success in AAA.

Aside from the Angels, he also played briefly in the majors for the Cubs and Phillies.

In 1976, Rudy Meoli… went to Spring Training with the Padres after being the Player To Be Named Later in a trade that sent Bobby Valentine to the Padres for pitcher Gary Ross. Before the season started, Meoli was traded to the Reds for Merv Rettenmund, and he spent the entire season with the Reds’ AAA team in Indianapolis.

Betcha didn’t know…Meoli hit only two career homers, but one of them was an inside-the-park job against the Royals on 7/28/73.

Shea-o-meter: Many of the photos in 1976 SSPC were taken in Shea Stadium; Every team came through Shea because the Yankees were temporarily playing in Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated. “Can two Major League teams share a ballpark without driving each other crazy?”

I can tell by the “396” on the outfield wall, plus the light poles in the parking lot beyond, that this is Shea.
Shea: 49
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 8
Can’t tell: 11
Not Shea: 6

1970’s Census
We’re going to keep track of all the instances of 1970’s facial hair and other 1970’s trends… Sideburns, afros, mustaches, Aviator glasses…

Rudy had 1970’s sideburns and a moustache… this brings the totals to:
Total Cards: 74
1970’s Sideburns: 37
Fu Manchu: 4
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 23
Afro: 1
Perm: 2
Aviators: 6
Long Hair: 16

1976 SSPC #196 Rudy Meoli back

Are We Not Stars…? 1970 Angels Rookie Stars

…In which we address the age-old question, “Who are these guys?”
1970 Topps Angels Rookies Washburn Wolf

Greg Washburn is from Coal City, IL. Although he was a first-round draft pick and pitched in the Angels organization from 1967 to 1973, his Major League experience consisted of 8 games (and 11.1 innings) in 1969.  I could find references to being plagued with arm injuries, but no specifics.  This is his rookie card, and I believe his only card.

Wally Wolf was on the University of Southern California team which won the College World Series in 1961, and he pitched in 6 Major League games, 4 of which came after this card.  This photo is one that Topps had already used on a 1963 Rookie Pitchers card… His hat is blacked out here because it’s a Colt .45’s hat.

Wally Wolf is arguably not the most famous Wally Wolf to attend USC;  Wallace Perry Wolf, Jr. was a swimmer who competed in 4 different Olympics and won gold as part of a freestyle relay team.

1976 SSPC #203 – Mickey Rivers (Angels/Yankees)

1976 SSPC #203 Mickey Rivers

Mickey Rivers… was a speedy leadoff hitter who played 15 years in the majors with the Angels, Yankees and Rangers. He twice lead the league in triples, and once lead the league with 70 stolen bases.

A December 11, 1975 trade resulted in Mickey being listed as a Yankee on the back of the card.

‘Round here, folks call me… Mick The Quick.

In 1976 with the Yankees, Mickey Rivers… stole 43 bases – his second-highest career total – got 63 RBI, made his only All-Star team and batted .348 in the ALCS against the Royals. He also finished 3rd in MVP voting (teammate Thurman Munson was the winner).

Shea-o-meter:  A trained eye such as my own can identify the rightfield corner of Shea…
Shea:  40
Pretty sure it’s Shea:  7
Can’t tell:  7
Not Shea:  5

Betcha didn’t know… Mickey’s first pro team was the Class D Magic Valley Cowboys… how great a team name is that????

BTW, the Magic Valley region is in south-central Idaho, and the Cowboys were based in Twin Falls, ID.

Betcha didn’t know, Part 2… Mickey is 6th on the list of Angels’ all-time stolen base leaders (Chone Figgins leads with 280).

1976 SSPC #203 Mickey Rivers back

Post-Halloween, State Of The Collection & Some Fairfield Repack Cards

We gave away baseball cards for Halloween again this year.  It’s something we’ve been doing for a number of years… If you’d like more details about what we do, you can see the post I wrote last year here.

This year, we gave away 20 homemade packs of 28 cards each, for a total of 560 cards. It’s fun to give out cards for Halloween… The kids enjoy it, they get some decent cards – I make sure every pack has at least two household names in it – and I get unwanted cards out of the house.  Winners all around.

Lesson learned this year:  Putting the All-Star cards from Topps Update on the top of each “pack” just confuses the kids who are trying to pick as best they can within 5 seconds.  I could have a stack of cards of Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter in American League BP jerseys, and they’ll ask “Excuse me, do you have any Yankees?”

As long as I’m talking about getting cards out of the house, I feel obligated to do a “weigh-in”, something I haven’t done in 9 months.  Posting my progress in organizing & purging helps with both motivation (if I do well) and guilt (if I don’t).  I used to do these weekly, then I told myself I’d do them monthly, then I told myself I’d do them quarterly.  You can see how much I listen to myself.

Just so I don’t publish an image-free post, I’ve scattered some completely unrelated Fairfield repack acquisitions among my stats.

Net change in the collection since 2/3/13: -448  (2,505 added, 2,953 purged – I need to step up the purging)

1987 Star Steve Carlton All Star Stats

Total # of cards purged from the collection to date: 6,447

Net change to the # of cards in the house since 2/3: -4,268  (4,642 in, 8,910 out)

1987 Topps Mail-In Glossy Reggie Jackson

Total # of cards which have left the house to date: 22,598  (It’s sobering every time I update this number, because it seems like it must be a small fraction of what I actually have)

Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 47,022  (up from 20,418… and the organization continues…)

Number of cards that make up the complete sets in my Access database: 14,558  (meaning a total of 61,580 “confirmed” cards in my collection)
1982 Fleer Dave Concepcion

1976 SSPC #192 – Dick Williams (Angels)

1976 SSPC #192 Dick Williams

Dick Williams… is a Hall-Of-Fame manager who managed the Red Sox, A’s, Angels, Expos, Padres and Mariners.  Along the way, he got to the World Series with three different teams, winning twice with the A’s.  He preceded that by playing 13 years in the Majors, playing at every position except pitcher, catcher and shortstop.

In 1976, Dick Williams… was fired 96 games into the season and replaced with Norm Sherry.  He’d land on his feet and manage the Expos in 1977.

Betcha didn’t know… Dick Williams signed to be George Steinbrenner’s first managerial hire after the 1973 season.  Williams was under contract with the A’s and it was initially thought that A’s owner Charles Finley would not stand in the way… but he would end up demanding compensation from the Yankees and the deal was voided.

SSPC vs. Topps: No competition here, Topps relegated managers to a small thumbnail picture on the team card.

1976 SSPC #192 Dick Williams back

O Broder, What Art Thou?

So I was in Target during lunch yesterday, stocking up my “work pantry”, and I decided to check out the 100-card repacks on the way out. I know these repacks aren’t worth the money I’m putting into them, but they can be a fun diversion… or a Junk Wax Festival. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

My attention was caught by one repack which had this card on the back:
1990 Shanks Rookies Gary Sheffield

I thought “What the devil is that?”

Yeah, right. I really thought “What the @#%&*! is that?”, but I like writing “What the devil…” because it makes me sound like a scientist from a low-budget 1960’s science fiction movie. And there are worse things to be.

“I was a mathematician before I became a bad actor… That number is pi!”
(Let’s see if anyone gets THAT extremely obscure reference)

I kinda like the card, even if it is book-value worthless… as opposed to any other 1990 base card which has a book value only because Beckett has to give it SOME value.  The card sort of has a 1966 Topps bottom and a 1969 Topps circle.

Here’s the back to the esteemed Mr. Sheffield’s card:
1990 Shanks Rookies Sheffield back

“The Shanks Collection”, eh?  All right, if you say so.  I did some Googling on “1990 Shanks Collection” and all I got were some eBay listings.  I think this can be safely classified as a Broder.  You know, it’s been many years that I’ve been using the term “Broder” for an unlicensed-by-anybody card, but I’ve never seen an actual Broder.  Maybe someday…

UpdateBy “actual Broder”, I mean the original Broders, as opposed to cards which fall under the generic term “Broders”.

Wait a second, I hear a truck… Crap, I’ve got to put the recycling out by the curb.  I’ll be right back…

OK, sorry about that.

Well, you’re here and I’m here… Did you want to see what else I got in the repack?

I figure that, on the whole I got 10 dime-b0x needs for my $4, but I did well in terms of cards I actually want.  Here, let me show you…

I got this lovely George Foster Diamond King that’s been on my want list for… Oh, thirty years.

1983 Donruss George Foster DK

George Foster is one of a line of big-name players that the Mets brought in past their prime and who did just fine for the Mets but not anywhere close to the expectations of the fans who foolishly thought the Mets were acquiring a star player in his prime.

Moving right along…

Ahh… The elusive 1984 Donruss!  And it’s Shlabotnik favorite Benny Ayala!

1984 Donruss Benny Ayala

In 1974, Benny hit a homer in his first Major League at bat for the Mets.  This young Mets fan’s expectations of Benny were based on that random occurrence.  Silly me.  Anyway,  Benny had a 10-year career as a 4th outfielder, mainly with the  Orioles.

Jerry Willard!  A player I collect!  Wooooooooo!

1986 Donruss Jerry Willard

I saw Jerry play in the minor leagues, just in case you were wondering why someone would collect Jerry Willard cards.  I saw Jerry when he was in the Phillies system, but he traded to the Indians before he made it to the Majors.  This is why you shouldn’t get hung up on the fact that your local minor league team isn’t affiliated with a team you like… There’s always a decent chance that the guys you’re watching will make it with some other team.

Moving along… “Captain Kirk” McCaskill!  Another player I collect, even if it’s from the tremendously drab 1989 Fleer.

1989 Fleer Kirk McCaskill

I know we were meant to think “pinstripes”, but I’ve always thought “jail cell”.

Attica!  Attica!

Finally, I got this interesting TCMA “Baseball History” card of Jim DePalo.

1979 TCMA Baseball History Jim Depalo

Who is Jim DePalo?  If Baseball America had existed in the 1950’s, he might’ve been on the Yankees’ Top 10 Prospects list.  He peaked at AAA in 1956, going 13-5 for the Denver Bears.  I’m guessing that the TCMA guys found this photo and said “Hey, let’s add it to the set!”

1979 TCMA Baseball History Jim Depalo back

Aw, hell, look at the time!  I spent too much time on this, I’ve got to go shower.

…And thus ends my early morning free-form blog odyssey…  “On the bass:  Derek Smalls, he wrote this…”


1976 SSPC #190: Ed Figueroa

1976 SSPC #190 Ed Figueroa Hi, I’m Ed Figueroa!  You may remember me from… being the first Puerto Rican pitcher to win 20 games, pitching in the ALCS & World Series, and winning 71 games over a 4-year span with the Angels and Yankees.

In 1976, Figueroa… pitched for the Yankees, went 19-10 with a 3.02 ERA and finished 4th in A.L. Cy Young voting. The Yankees had acquired Ed and Mickey Rivers in exchange for Bobby Bonds.

So… take your time… and tell me… Is it Shea? Jeez, there ain’t much to go on there… but it doesn’t look Shea-ish, so I’ll just shrug.

1976 SSPC #190 Ed Figueroa back

Picking nits: The back of the card indicates that Figueroa was assigned #37 with the Yankees, but that wasn’t going to happen; 37 is retired for former manager Casey Stengel. Ed would wear 31 with the Yankees.

Betcha didn’t know… That “Figueroa” has all 5 vowels in it: A, E, I, O & U (but not Y).

On This Day In 1976: Ken Brett Loses A No-Hitter With Two Outs In The Ninth

I normally would have a Hostess card on Sunday but I couldn’t resist this tale of woe, even though I don’t have an appropriate Hostess card to go with it.

Ken Brett was making just his second start for the White Sox, having been traded from the Yankees with Rich Coggins for Carlos May.
1977 Topps Ken Brett

There was no score between the homestanding Angels and the White Sox, but Brett had held the Angels hitless through 8.2 innings.  Second baseman Jerry Remy…
1976 Topps Jerry Remy
…came to bat and hit a slow roller down the third base line.

The ball rolls under the glove of White Sox third baseman Jorge Orta
1977 Topps Jorge Orta
but it’s ruled a hit even though many think it should’ve been called an error. Of course, even if Orta fields the ball and gets the runner at first, it’s still not a no-hitter because the game would’ve gone to the 10th inning.

Losing pitcher Don Kirkwood allowed only one run over 11 innings.  Talk about your hard-luck losses.

Ken Brett also lost a no-hitter in the 9th inning one time before, against the Padres in 1974