Super Aaron And Red Man Lemon

A friend of mine swears he saw “Super Aaron And Red Man Lemon” open for Parliament Funkadelic when they played Madison Square Garden in the 1970’s and they were AWESOME!

OK, fine, I made that up.  Within the context of this post, “Super Aaron” and “Red Man Lemon” refer to two beautiful, oversized cards I recently picked up from COMC.

“Super Aaron” is my 1970 Topps Super Hank Aaron (or “A-A-Ron”, as Key & Peele now have me thinking). One thing I’ve noticed about COMC is that their scanners highlight every flaw on a card… which is a good thing, since you want to be able to see those flaws… but I’ve found that it often makes a non-mint card look worse than it is.
1970 Topps Super Hank Aaron
This card is obviously miscut, but it looks a lot worse in scans than it does in person. In person, it’s still a nice card that I’m very happy to add to my collection.

Like the football Supers, the back is generally the same as the regular 1970 Hank Aaron, but with a different card number.
1970 Topps Super Aaron back

Here’s “Red Man Lemon”… more specifically, a 1953 Red Man Bob Lemon.  Whenever I’m doing a shopping spree on COMC, I always look to see if there’s anything relatively inexpensive in the Red Man section, and this was the acquisition this time around.  Any Red Man cards in my price range is missing the redemption tab at the bottom, but ask me if I care.
1953 Red Man Bob Lemon
I grew up thinking of Bob Lemon as a manager with the Yankees, White Sox and Royals, but he’s far better known as a Hall-Of-Fame pitcher. What I hadn’t known is that he started out as a position player… In fact, he was the centerfielder for one of Bob Feller’s no-hitters. Lemon lost time to World War II, and that combined with his start as an infielder meant that his pitching career was fairly short for a HOFer.  However,  he had an impressive run from 1947 to 1956. During that 10 year period he went 197-111, struck out 1,185 batters, threw 31 shutouts, pitched complete games in more than half of his starts, was a 7-time All-Star, a 7-time 20-game winner and no-hit the Tigers in 1948.

Here’s the back of the card, which is all about the promotion that Red Man was running.
1953 Red Man Bob Lemon Back

Merry Christmas, everybody!

1976 SSPC #524 – Boog Powell (Indians)

1976 SSPC #524 Boog Powell

John Wesley (Boog) Powell… looks so WRONG wearing a red Indians uniform. In 13+ years with the Orioles, he was the 1970 AL MVP, a four-time All-Star and a key part of the Orioles championship teams of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. After the 1974 season he was traded to Cleveland to be reunited with Indians manager Frank Robinson, and he proceeded to win the 1975 AL Comeback Player Of The Year award.

Boog is a member of the Orioles’ Hall Of Fame, and operates Boog’s BBQ, which is a fixture at Camden Yards.

In 1976, Boog… battled a leg injury and put up career-low numbers in games played, homers, RBI and batting average.

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?”

Some of you may think this is odd given how little background there is in the photo, but this is definitely Shea.  Between Boog’s hands and body you can see the visitor’s bullpen, and some trees and lights from the Shea parking lot.
Shea: 42
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 7
Can’t tell: 10
Not Shea: 6

SSPC vs. the other 1976 baseball cards: Boog was represented in Topps, Hostess and Kellogg’s. Topps, SSPC and Kellogg’s all showed him in a red jersey; Hostess showed him in blue.

1976 SSPC #524 Boog Powell back

What 1970’s Caps, Jerseys Or Logos Would You Revive?

I’ve got this theory about baseball uniforms.

More so than other sports, over the past 10-20 years, baseball uniforms have gotten more “traditional”, and I put “traditional” in quotes because tradition often means whatever you grew up with… Just like the best year there ever was for music was whatever year it was when you were twelve.

A lot of the current bunch of owners grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, and when they think of what a baseball uniform should look like, that era is what they go to.

If I’m right about this, then it won’t be long before another group of owners come in, owners who grew up in the 1970’s, the decade of polyknits and powder blue road unis and elastic waistbands.

Throwing back to the Seventies may not be an entirely bad thing.  Baseball uniforms have gotten overly conservative in color and design, and it might be time to bring back a little “Seventies” in the same way that the current Blue Jays uniforms are updates of their original 1977 unis.

1978 Topps Rick Cerone

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to run through some of the 1970’s hats, jerseys, or logos that I’d like to see brought back, even if just as an alternate.

…and don’t worry, I won’t suggest anything to do with these leisure suit monstrosities:

1978 Topps Kevin Bell

I’ve so much disdain for those White Sox uniforms that I didn’t even go back and correct the scan.

…But here is what I would like to see…

The red Red Sox cap (1975 – 1978)

I’ve never been a fan of the Red Sox, but I’ve always liked the 1970’s red and navy cap.  I liked the cap so much in my younger days that I even owned one… and looking back on that, wearing a Red Sox cap on Long Island may not have been one of my better ideas… not that anyone ever gave me grief over it, but still…

1976 Topps Cecil Cooper

By the way, the Red Sox have tweaked their road jerseys for 2014, and the lettering will be basically the same what Cecil Cooper is wearing — something I see as a definite improvement.

The angular Cleveland Indians cap logo (1973 – 1977)

I’m going to suggest this Cleveland Indians cap logo as an improvement not because it’s an inspired design, but simply because it’s the best Indians cap logo from the past 50 years… at least it is to me, but it’s what they wore the first four years I followed baseball, so I’m biased.

1976 Topps Buddy Bell

From a purely visual standpoint, it may not be as good as Chief Wahoo, but even if you take the stance that naming a team “Indians” is meant to honor Native Americans, you can’t say the same about Chief Wahoo.  Chief Wahoo is just flat-out mean spirited, and I wouldn’t suggest that as an option.

the Brewers’ Yellow Panel Road Cap (1974 – 1977)

What the Brewers have now… it’s  not bad, but it’s… I don’t know.  It leaves me cold.  If you’re going to be blue and gold, be BLUE and GOLD.  I like the yellow-panel cap, and I’m partial to the the “typeface M” cap, but I know the “M-B Glove” logo is popular and would definitely be an improvement over what they have now.

1978 Topps Charlie Moore

The Tigers’ road Jersey (1972 – 1993)

Road jerseys that have solid navy or black lettering with no trim to offset the darkness are just “blah”…  Too “Dark Knight”.  I want to see something else.  Hell, even the Yankees have white trim to offset the navy, and that makes it “pop” a little bit.  The Tigers could do a lot worse than going with something like this:

1977 Topps Ben Oglivie

I won’t ask for the road cap as well…  It’s not bad, but the standard Tigers cap is a classic you don’t mess with.

Padres

I was going to gather together some Padres caps and jerseys that I like, but I quickly realized that it would probably be a post of its own.  I’ll summarize my take on the Padres uniforms in two words:

Brown.

Gold.

“Fauxback” alternates I’d like to see:  The Nationals wearing pseudo-Expo uniforms

Honorable Mention:  I know the Nats downplay their Montreal roots, but how cool would it be if they did Expos throwbacks, complete with tri-color cap?  They could swap the curly W for the Expos logo, but go with everything else.

1976 Topps Larry Parrish

WhICH uniform elements from the 1970’s would you like to see teams bring back?

Do you think I’m totally off-base on these?  Would you rather see the Astros’ “rainbow” jerseys or the return of powder-blue road jerseys?

…or would you leave the Seventies dead and buried?

1976 SSPC #510 – Dave LaRoche (Indians)

1976 SSPC #510 Dave LaRoche

Dave LaRoche… may be known to a lot of baseball fans as the father of current Major Leaguers Adam and Andy LaRoche, but Dave was a reliever who played 14 years in the majors and was an A.L. All-Star twice.

In 1976, Dave LaRoche… made his first All-Star team, but did not play. Over the 1976 season he had a 2.24 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 21 saves.

Shea-o-meter:
Despite the alien Yankees logo on the scoreboard, this is Shea Stadium. For those of you who are saying “What the what???” about a Yankee logo at Shea, the Mets played landlord for two seasons while Yankee Stadium was being extensively renovated.
Shea:  31
Pretty sure it’s Shea:  6
Can’t tell:  6
Not Shea:  5

Betcha didn’t know… LaRoche did get to pitch in the 1977 All-Star game, throwing a scoreless 6th inning against the heart of the NL’s batting order. With the NL up 5-0, LaRoche got Dave Parker and George Foster to ground out, gave up a double to Dave Winfield, walked Ron Cey and then got pinch-hitter Pete Rose to pop out to right.

1976 SSPC #510 Dave LaRoche back

As Manager / As Player #1 – Chuck Tanner

I’ve long had a certain fascination with baseball cards which picture players who would later be managers. I think the fascination started with these cards from 1978 Topps:
1978 Topps Chuck Tanner

Before then, I don’t know how much it had registered that managers were usually former players.  Sure, Yogi Berra was famous enough that I knew that he’d been a star with the Yankees… But guys like Chuck Tanner and Bill Virdon?  They’d always been old guys who managed teams, right?

As a 13-year-old, seeing photos of then-current managers as young men was pretty mind-blowing… Like seeing the English teacher you have a crush on out in a supermarket with her family.

“She has a life outside of school?  She has a husband?  She has a baby?”

“…So maybe I don’t have a shot with her when I get older…?”

So anyway, Chuck Tanner is probably best known for managing the “We Are Family” 1979 Pirates to a World Championship.  He’d also managed the White Sox, A’s and Braves, but never saw the success with those teams that he had with the ’79 Pirates.

He’s second-most-famous for having been traded as a manager – after one season managing the A’s to a second-place finish, he was traded to the Pirates for catcher Manny Sanguillén.

But Chuck Tanner was also a player from 1949 to 1962, spending a good amount of time in the Boston Braves system before making his MLB debut.

1960 Topps Chuck Tanner

As a Major League rookie in 1955, he hit a home run on the first major league pitch he saw.  In 1957, while with the Cubs, he and Ernie Banks both hit inside-the-park homers in the same game against the Pirates.  After playing for the Cubs, he put in some time with the Indians and expansion Angels.  Most of  his Major League playing career was as a 4th outfielder and pinch hitter.

One thing I found interesting about his minor league career was how many cities he’d played in which were future MLB cities… he played in A ball with the Denver Bears, in AA with the Atlanta Crackers and in AAA with the Milwaukee Brewers, Minneapolis Millers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas/Ft. Worth Rangers.  That’s largely a result of spending a lot of time playing in the upper minors in the days before widespread relocation and expansion, but it’s just something that caught my attention.

After Bud Selig Steps Down And I Become Commissioner…

You know what?  I don’t think I’m supposed to say anything about my taking over from Bud in January, 2015… But what the heck.  I trust you guys, and I know you won’t say anything to anybody… Let’s just keep this between us… our own little blogospherical secret.

Even though I’ve got 15 months before I take over, I’m starting to take notes of things to change.  I got one idea on Saturday when I saw highlights of that day’s Angels-Rangers game.

It’s easier to show you than to explain;  Here, take a look at this custom I made…
2013 TSR #669 - Elvis Andrus

You may ask “Why is Elvis Andrus attempting to slide past his teammate?” Because – despite the red helmet and the red jersey, Chris Iannetta is not his teammate, he’s on the Angels.  The Rangers were wearing red jerseys, red caps and white pants, and the Angels were wearing red jerseys, red caps and grey pants.  It’s perfectly obvious which team is which, right? Shaaaaaa, right.

Every other major sport has requirements about some sort of color contrast between teams, and I’m going to bring MLB in line with that.  The home team declares their uni choices before the beginning of a series, and the visiting team has to pick out clearly different uniforms.  I haven’t yet worked out the specific definition of “clearly different”, but I’ve got some time to hash that out.

…and as long as we’re talking about the Angels’ red jerseys – no more red numbers on a red jersey.  There has to be a minimum contrast between numbers and jerseys.  If I’m sitting in the upper deck, I need to be able to read the uni numers, otherwise what’s the point of having uniform numbers except for the Yankees to retire them?

I’ll be sharing  more plans for my Commissionership here in this blog, but if any of you have suggestions – and I know you do – leave me a comment, or write your own post about it and leave me a link.  I’d love to know what you’re thinking.

As long as I’m here, let’s take a look at a couple of more customs, shall we?  I’d like to have posted at least one custom for every team, so I’ll just throw out a couple of more here…

Hisashi Iwakuma put together a nice season, going 14-6, 2.66 with a .220 Batting Average Against and a 1.01 WHIP for the 71-90 Mariners. His ERA, BAA and WHIP were all among the top 10 in the Majors.
2013 TSR #761 - Hisashi Iwakuma

I stole the red/yellow/grey color combination from 1974 Topps Indians cards, and I have to say, I really like the way it looks. I’ll probably do something similar for my 2014 TSR customs (although not necessarily for the Indians).
2013 TSR #675 - Michael Bourn

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…”

Later…

1976 SSPC: #522 Duane Kuiper… or is it Rick Manning?

1976 SSPC #522 Duane Kuiper Rick Manning

One of the bigger errors in the 1976 SSPC set was mixing up the photos of Cleveland’s Duane Kuiper and Rick Manning. Kuiper’s card has Manning’s photo and vice versa… and since there’s nothing on the front of the card other than the photo and a plain border, you’ve essentially got a Manning front and a Kuiper back.

So which guy do I make this post about? What the heck, I’ll do both.  It’s pretty interesting how their careers parallel each other.

Duane Kuiper was a 2nd baseman who played with the Indians and Giants from 1975 to 1985.  He’s currently a TV announcer for the Giants, a position he’s held for 19 years.

Rick Manning was an outfielder who played with the Indians and Brewers from 1975 to 1987.  He’s currently a TV announcer for the Indians, a position he’s held for 23 years.

In 1976, Duane Kuiper… was the Indians’ starting second baseman and had the best fielding percentage of any A.L. 2B.

In 1976, Rick Manning… was the Indians’ starting center fielder and had the 4th best fielding percentage of any A.L. CF… Oh, and he won a Gold Glove.

Betcha didn’t know… Duane Kuiper was drafted as a shortstop and was the Indians’ first round pick in the 1972 January secondary draft.  He was drafted by the Yankees, Pilots, White Sox, Reds and Red Sox before he was drafted and signed by the Indians.

Betcha also didn’t know… Rick Manning was drafted as a shortstop and was the Indians’ first round pick in the June 1972 draft.  He was taken second overall, behind Padres 3B Dave Roberts.

1976 SSPC #522 Duane Kuiper back

The Mystery Box Of 1970 Topps Makes Its Last Stop In Cleveland

A couple of months ago I bought a box of 100+ 1970 Topps card from my semi-local card shop. I’ve been sharing the cards for quite a while now, and I’m going to wrap it up with a bunch of Cleveland Indians.

We’ll start off with a beat-up team card.
1970 Topps Indians Team
The Tribe went 76-86 in 1970, finishing in 5th place in the AL East, 32 games out of first but ahead of the lowly Senators.

1970 Topps Chuck Hinton
Chuck Hinton was an All-Star in 1965 and had originally signed with the Orioles, but was selected by the Senators in the 1960 expansion draft. Aside from the Sens and the Indians, he also played one year for the Angels. In 1962 he hit .310, which made him the only player on the “new” Washington Senators (the team that started in 1961 and moved to Texas for the 1972 season) to hit .300. By the time this card came out, he was serving in a utility role, and 1971 would be his last season. Hinton passed away earlier this year.

1970 Topps Dennis Higgins
Dennis Higgins pitched for 7 years in the majors, but 1970 was his sole season with the Indians. He made 58 appearances in 1970 with a 4-6 record and 11 saves. He’s the cousin of recent White Sox & Twins third baseman Joe Crede (Yes, indeedy).

1970 Topps Larry Brown
Larry Brown played from 1963 to 1974 with several teams, and had been a starter with the Indians for much of the 1960’s, but was in a utility role in 1970. His brother is former MLB catcher Dick Brown.

1970 Topps Larry Burchart
Larry Burchart pitched in 29 Major League games, all in 1969. That year he was a Rule V draftee from the Dodgers organization, and he stayed with the Indians all year, but the rest of his career would be two seasons pitching for the Indians’ AAA team in Wichita.

1970 Topps Max Alvis
Max Alvis was an All-Star in 1965 and 1967 and lead the A.L. in HBP in 1963 and 1965. He played for the Indians from 1962 to 1969, but was traded to the Brewers on April 4th, 1970… Just a couple of days after they officially became the Brewers (having gone through spring training as the Seattle Pilots).

According to Wikipedia, there was an attempt to move the Indians to Seattle in either 1962, 1964 or 1965, depending on which article you look at. I don’t remember ever hearing anything like that before, I wonder if it’s true. Does anybody know anything about that?

I also found out from a January, 1970 article in the Spokane Daily Chronicle that Dallas had also made a play for the Pilots, but would lose out to Bud Selig and his Milwaukee group.

…and you thought this was going to be all about the Indians!

Here’s the best cartoon of the bunch, from Larry Burchart’s card:
1970 Topps Larry Burchart Cartoon

…And that does it for the Mystery Box… It put a good dent in my 1970 needs, and was a lot of fun to go through and write about. Hope you all enjoyed it!