Random Team: 1974 Topps Philadelphia Phillies, Part 1

Once again, I’ve fired up the Random-itron 2000 and it generated the next team set in this series; the 1974 Topps Philadelphia Phillies.

…But before I get started, you may be wondering what’s up with the “Part 1” in the subject line. Executive Summary: I spent too much time on this post and want to get at least two posts out of the work I put in. Detailed summary is down below.

Anyway…

The 1974 Phillies went 80-82 and finished 3rd in the 6 team NL East (8 games behind the division-winning Pirates).

The Phillies were managed by Danny Ozark, who was born Daniel Leonard Orzechowski.

He played 18 years in the Dodgers organization without ever making it to The Show, and was a coach with the Dodgers for a number of years before getting the managing job with the Phillies. He would manage the Phils for 7 years in the 1970’s, finishing in 1st place 3 years in a row, but never winning the NLCS.

Best Offensive Player
Mike Schmidt was a 24-year-old in his second full season, made his first All-Star team and lead the Majors in homers (36) and the N.L. in slugging percentage (.546).

He also had 28 doubles, 7 triples, 116 RBI and for good measure he stole 23 bases.

For anyone who is not familiar with this card, I will direct your attention to the Phillies bullpen cart parked on the left-hand side.

Best Pitcher
Steve Carlton was an All-Star in 1974, went 16-13, 3.22 and lead the league in K’s (240) and BB’s (136). He also had 17 complete games, which was 2nd in the NL.

This card was a finalist for “Best Action Shot” and “Favorite Card”, but I’ll admit I didn’t want to have one card represent three categories.

Best Player In A Supporting Role
I always forget that Jim Lonborg won a Cy Young award with the Red Sox in 1967. That year he went 22-9, 3.16, had a 1.138 WHIP and lead the league with 246 K’s.

In 1974, Lonborg went 17-13, 3.21 and pitched 16 complete games with 3 shutouts.

Here’s a fun Lonborg fact courtesy of Baseball-reference.com: “In the TV show ‘Cheers’, the picture behind the bar that was supposed to be Sam Malone pitching for the Red Sox is actually a picture of Lonborg.”

Most Notable Airbrush Job; Best Offensive Player In A Supporting Role
On 10/18/73, the Phillies acquired Dave Cash from the Pirates for Ken Brett.  This card and Ken Brett’s 1974 card both feature good airbrushing jobs, which goes to show that the airbrush artists could do good work when they weren’t up against a tight deadline.

Cash was an All-Star in his first season with the Phils and batted an even .300 in 1974, with 11 triples, 89 runs scored and 58 RBI.

Best Action Shot
Larry Bowa was also an All-Star in 1974, batted .275 and scored 97 runs.

Picking the “Best Action Shot” card was a tough decision, but I’ll stand by the Bowa card.

Best Player Not On A 1974 Card
Jay Johnstone had been in the Majors since 1966, but since he only appeared in 23 games in 1973, he did not appear on a 1974 baseball card… and even if he had, it wouldn’t have shown him with the Phillies, who picked him up in early April after the Cardinals cut him loose near the end of Spring Training.

Johnstone started the year with AAA Toledo and got called up in early July. Over the second half of the season, he appeared in 64 games and batted .295 with 30 runs scored and 30 RBI. Needless to say, he did get a card in 1975.

I will get into the rest of the categories in Part 2. And speaking of parts 1 and 2…


The original idea behind these posts was that they were supposed to be relatively quick… Scan and post a bunch of cards from a particular team, and let the cards do the talking.

Then, of course, my own tendencies took over, I started researching the players and the team and the cards and the next thing I know, I’m spending just as much time on these posts as any other I write.

Since this post was already in progress when I realized I was waaay down the rabbit hole in terms of research, I broke it down into two parts because I figured I might as well get two days’ worth of posts out of all the research I did.

I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do for the next team. I’ll probably cut back on the research and just go with the original idea of “This guy is good, this card is cool, this action shot is the best” and leave it at that… but we’ll see.


Don’t forget to check out the series that I didn’t realize I was “borrowing” from: Night Owl’s “Joy Of A Team Set”!

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).


Random Team Review: 1973 Topps Expos

As a fun idea in general, but also an excuse to go back and appreciate cards in my collection that I might not have looked at in while, I’m going to try doing posts on 1970’s or 1980’s team sets – baseball, football or hockey – selected by a random number generator from a list.  For each team, I’ll talk a little bit about that year’s team and share cards from a number of categories. I won’t necessarily use every category with every team, and I expect that I will think up new categories as we go along.

True Confessions: I put my thumb on the scale for this first post. I wanted to start off with an Expos team set, so the randomizer was only involved in selecting which particular Expos team I’d start with.

1973 Topps Montreal Expos

The 1973 Expos went 79-83 under manager Gene Mauch, and finished in 4th place in the 6-team National League East.

Mauch was the Expos manager for the first 7 years of their existence.

BEST POSITION PLAYER

Ken Singleton was easily the best offensive player, batting .302 with 23 homers, 103 RBi and 100 runs scored.

BEST PITCHER

Steve Renko went 15-11, 2.81 as a starter and was their best pitcher over the full season.

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Reliever Mike Marshall made 92 appearances, going 14-11 with 31 saves and a 2.66 ERA.

BEST PLAYER WHO DIDN’T APPEAR ON A CARD
23-year-old Steve Rogers didn’t come up until mid-July after spending the first half of the season with the AA Quebec Carnavals and the AAA Peninsula Whips. During the second half he had a 10-5 record, 1.54 ERA and 1.060 WHIP. His rookie card was in the 1974 Topps set.

BEST ROOKIE CARD

Tom Walker is the father of Mets 2nd Baseman Neil Walker. He beat out Pepe Frias and Jorge Roque (both of whom shared a card with two other players) for this honor.

BEST ACTION SHOT

This was not a fierce competition. There were only two action shots in this team set. Trust me, this is the better of the pair.

MOST NOTABLE AIRBRUSH JOB
Mike Marshall’s card, shown above. Marshall is airbrushed because he had been acquired via trade from the Astros…. IN JUNE 1970! Assuming that’s a Tigers jersey, then the photo predates Marshall being taken by the Seattle Pilots in the October, 1968 expansion draft.

BEST CARTOON

BEST INSERT
In the case of 1973 Topps, it’s the only insert… the unnumbered team checklist cards.  This card looks miscut because it didn’t scan properly and I didn’t want to go back and fix it.

Since many of you probably aren’t familiar with these cards, I’ll include the back.

…Well… that was fun!  I think I’ll have to do more of these.