Non-Random Team Review: 1971 Topps Mets

As mentioned in this blog a little while ago, I recently obtained a 1971 Topps Nolan Ryan card, and that completed my Mets team set. To commemorate the event, I figured I’d go ahead and do one of my “Team Review” posts for the 1971 Mets.

Little did I realize that I haven’t done one of these in almost a year. I’d probably post more often and with less brain-wracking if I remembered all of these series I’d set up for myself

For those who are new to the series, or just forgot what the deal was over the many months, I randomly… usually randomly, anyway… select a team set and will highlight cards under different fun categories.

The 1971 Mets, managed by Gil Hodges, finished with an 83-79 record.  They tied with the Cubs for 3rd in the NL East, 14 games behind the eventual World Champion Pirates.

Best Pitcher
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Mets’ best pitcher was Tom Seaver. In 1971, Tom Terrific went 20-10 with a 1.76 ERA (best in the league) and he finished second to Fergie Jenkins in Cy Young voting.

Best Position Player
Cleon Jones lead the team with 63 runs, 69 RBI, 6 triples (tie with Bud Harrelson), 14 homers (tied with Ed Kranepool and Tommie Agee), a .319 average, a .382 on-base % and a .473 slugging %

This is just odd, #1

1964 Cy Young winner (with the Angels) Dean Chance had been purchased from the Indians towards the end of the 1970 season. Chance pitched 2 innings over 3 appearances for the Mets and racked up a 13.50 ERA.  He wouldn’t pitch for the Mets in 1971, being traded to the Tigers towards the end of spring training (more on this in a moment).

This is just odd, #2

In the 1960s and 1970s the Mets seemingly spent a lot of time looking for 3rd basemen, picking up a player who didn’t pan out, and then looking for another 3rd basemen.  The 1971 version of this was Bob Aspromonte, who was obtained from the Braves and lasted just one season with the Mets.

Most Notable Airbrushing
Jerry Robertson and his glowing blue cap never actually played for the Mets. He was obtained from the Tigers for Chance and Bill Denehy, but Robertson spent the season at Triple-A Tidewater and then was out of baseball after that

Best Rookie Card
Ken Singleton would blossom with the Expos and become a three-time All-Star with the Orioles. In early April, 1972 he’d be sent to the Expos as part of a package for Rusty Staub.  Some of you may know him better as a member of the Yankees’ broadcast team.

Second-best Rookie card
Jon Matlack was recently inducted into the New York Mets HOF, and was the 1972 NL Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star.  In 1971 he made 6 starts and a relief appearance.

Rich Folkers pitched in 16 games in 1970, mostly in relief. He pitched in Triple-A in 1971 and would be sent to the Cardinals as part of a eight-player trade that also involved Art Shamsky and Jim Bibby

Ted Martinez would become something of a SuperSub over his career, playing every position but pitcher, catcher and 1st base.

Key Card

Here’s that Nolan Ryan card I picked up in June.  In 1971, Ryan went 10-14 with a 3.97 ERA, 137 strikeouts and 116 walks

Stealthy Key Card

This card comes with a premium because #30 in the foreground is Nolan Ryan

Best Card Back (Cheating version)
I usually pick out a card back based on the cartoon on the back or some bit of trivia about the player. 1971 Topps does not have cartoons, and I confess I didn’t re-read all of the card backs… I’m just going to use this category as an excuse to show off the back of the one 1971 O-Pee-Chee Mets card I have, Duffy Dyer

League Leader Cards

NL ERA LEADERS

TOM SEAVER – 2.82
WAYNE SIMPSON – 3.02
LUKE WALKER – 3.04
BOB GIBSON 3.12
JERRY KOOSMAN – 3.14

NL STRIKEOUT LEADERS

TOM SEAVER – 283
BOB GIBSON – 274
FERGIE JENKINS – 274
GAYLORD PERRY – 214
KEN HOLTZMAN – 202

Favorite Card(s), Best On-Field Card(s)

This card of Ken Boswell has everything going for it.. An action shot involving Boswell and the Cardinals’ Vic Davalillo, a somewhat unusual angle on the Shea stadium bullpen and left field stands, and way off in the distance you can see part of the Whitestone Bridge.

More Action Shots I Like Too Much To Leave Out

In the background on this card is #5 for the Cardinals, which seems to have been coach Dick Sisler

 

Random Team Review: 1987 Seattle Mariners

It’s been many months since I’ve done one of these Random Team Review posts… This is one of several ongoing series of mine which fell victim to quarantine brain, but I’m trying to get back into some of the running series I used to be better about maintaining.

For those who are new to the series, or just forgot what the deal was over the many months, I randomly… or somewhat randomly, anyway… select a team set and will highlight cards under different fun categories.

I’m not sure I’ve done a team set from the 1980s before, so just to be clear, this involves only Mariners from the regular 1987 Topps set… no Traded cards here.

The 1987 Mariners, managed by Dick Williams, finished 4th in the AL West with a 78-84 record.

1987 Topps is the last Topps set to feature the Mariners’ star & trident logo. The 1987 Topps Traded set would feature the “S” logo that everyone associates with the Ken Griffey Jr. era.  (Me, I’m a trident guy)

Best pitcher – Mark Langston

I’d forgotten how good Mark Langston was in 1987.  He went 19-13 with a 3.84 ERA, a 1.309 WHIP and a league-leading 262 strikeouts (second in the Majors to Nolan Ryan’s 270). Langston also was an All-Star and won a Gold Glove. He set Mariners single-season records for strikeouts, wins, innings (272.0), complete games (14) and shutouts (3).

Best position player – Phil Bradley

One could make arguments for other players, but I’m going with Bradley.  He lead the team with 603 AB, 101 runs, 179 hits, 38 doubles, 10 triples and a .297 average.

Best airbrushing – Jerry Reed

“Eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin’…”  No, wait, it’s not THAT Jerry Reed.  The Mariners’ Jerry Reed was a reliever who pitched with the Mariners in 1986 but Topps clearly did not get a photo of him in a Mariners uniform.  Reed lead the 1987 Mariners with a 3.42 ERA.

Best Rookie Card and Best Name – Lee Guetterman

There aren’t a lot of rookie cards in this team set, but Guetterman had the longest career of the bunch, appearing in 425 games over 11 seasons with four teams (mostly the M’s and Yankees)

Rookie Cup – Danny Tartabull

Danny Tartabull, son of Jose Tartabull, was (obviously) named to the 1986 Topps All-Star Rookie Team, and his rookie year 25 homers and 96 RBI probably had the Seattle fans seeing stars in their eyes.

Glossiest Mariner – Danny Tartabull

…Unfortunately for fans of the Mariners and of glossy cards, Danny Tartabull played for the Royals in 1987 after a Winter blockbuster trade that also included Scott Bankhead and Mike Kingery.  OK, maybe “blockbuster” is a bit much.

Best on-field shot – Jim Beattie

There wasn’t a lot of good action shots, so I went with this nice dugout shot.  I always think of Jim Beattie as a Yankee, even though he played far longer with the Mariners.  Beattie had a rough season in 1986, and it would be his last season.

Future Broadcaster – Harold Reynolds

Reynolds was a 1987 All-Star who lead the league in both steals (60) and caught stealing (20)

Just Wrong – Steve Yeager

Steve Yeager played 14 years for the Dodgers before being traded to Seattle for Ed Vande Berg.  He played 50 games in 1986, which would be his last season.

Most Accomplished Author – Steve Fireovid

It’s sheer coincidence that I picked this team right now, because I’m nearly done reading “The 26th Man” by Steve Fireovid and Mark Winegardner.

The book is a diary of Fireovid’s 1990 season and an interesting read, especially if you follow minor league baseball.  I’ll write up a “book report” after I’m done… but I will say that he briefly mentions this card in the book (and I should’ve made a note as to where so I could quote it).

BTW, Fireovid wasn’t with the Mariners in 1987;  he spent the season with the Blue Jays’ AAA team.

Best fact on back – Jim Presley

Runner-up fact on back – Bill Swift

I don’t feel like I can add anything of value after “one of 15 children”, so I’ll just end things here.

Vintage Team Review: 1960 Topps Baltimore Orioles, Part 2

For those of you who missed Part 1 and don’t want to read it… I recently completed a vintage team set of the 1960 Baltimore Orioles, a young team which remained in the Pennant Race for much of the season and would finish in 2nd behind the Yankees.

The first post was supposed to be the ONLY post, but the more I learned about the team, the more I wrote and the more cards I featured, and I just gave up and broke it into two halves (and, as these things always turn out, ended up writing even more than originally planned for Part 2).

And so, we continue…


1960 Topps was one of the few sets where coaches got featured on cards.  There’s a part of me that thinks “It sucks that they got coaches in 1960 and we don’t even get managers in 2019!”  I’m confident, however, that anyone who collected back then will tell us that coaches cards were generally subjected to bicycle spokes.

The three coaches featured on this card are Eddie Robinson, Harry Brecheen and Lum Harris.

A few years ago Eddie Robinson wrote an autobiography called “Lucky Me:  My Sixty-Five Years In Baseball” which tells you a lot about Eddie right there.  The four-time All-Star as a player would serve in a lot of roles in baseball, including GM with the Rangers.

Harry Brecheen was the O’s pitching coach from 1954 to 1967. As a pitcher with the Cardinals in 1948 he went 20-7, lead the league in ERA (2.24), strikeouts (149) and shutouts (7).

Lum Harris pitched for the Athletics and Senators, and would  serve as the Orioles’ interim manager at the end of the 1961 season. He would also manage the Colt .45’s and Braves.


Here’s a combo card featuring Milt Pappas, Jack Fisher and Jerry Walker, all of whom were 21 at the time and were the youngest pitchers on the team (although Chuck Estrada and Steve Barber were both 22).

Milt Pappas was a “Bonus Baby” who went from high school to the Majors. He’d hurl three shutouts in 1960, and several years later would be traded to the Reds for Frank Robinson.

“Fat Jack” Fisher went 12-11 and tied for the team lead with three shutouts.

Fisher had a tendency to give up historic home runs; Ted Williams hit a home run off of Fisher in the Splendid Spinter’s final career at bat. Fisher also gave up Roger Maris’ 60th homer, the one which tied Babe Ruth. Finally, as a Mets pitcher, he gave up the first home run at Shea Stadium.

In 1959, Jerry Walker at 20 years old became the youngest pitcher ever to start an All-Star Game. Walker won 11 games that year, but took a step back in 1960.


Like a couple of players mentioned in Part 1, Gus Triandos was another player who came to the Orioles after being blocked at his position by a star player; in his case, it was the Yankees and he was blocked by Yogi Berra.  He came to the O’s in a November 1954 16-player trade.

An All-Star from 1957 to 1959, Triandos caught no-hitters for Hoyt Wilhelm and Jim Bunning (while both were with the Phillies)


Hal “Skinny” Brown would pitch 8 years for the O’s with an overall 62-48 record. In 1960 he went 12-5, 3.06 and had a lead-leading 1.113 WHIP.

…Not that anyone paid much attention to WHIP in 1960.  For the record, only Don Drysdale (1.063) had a better WHIP in the Majors that year.


Usually when I do these vintage team reviews, I have a number of categories that I pick cards for. I didn’t do much of that this time, but Arnie Portocarrero gets the “Best Name” award. He pitched for the Athletics and Orioles, mainly as a starter, and pitched his last Major League game in 1960.


A late November, 1959 trade saw the Orioles send Billy Loes and Billy O’Dell to the Giants for Jackie Brandt, Gordon Jones and another player. The two players named Billy show up on their 1960 cards as hatless SF Giants, but interestingly enough the two Baltimore-bound players showed up on their Orioles cards with Giants caps.  Maybe the Q/A people saw black caps with orange logos and figured it was close enough?

Jackie Brandt would be the starting center fielder for much of the season.

Gordon Jones would pitch exclusively out of the bullpen in 1960.


MORE EXPANSION FUN

In the previous post, I featured players who would go on to play for the 1962 Mets. In this post, I’m going to feature players who would be selected off of the Orioles roster after the season in the expansion draft which populated the rosters of the Los Angeles Angels and the “New” Washington Senators (to replace the Senators team which was moving to Minneapolis to become the Minnesota Twins).

Billy Klaus was drafted by the Senators. He’d play one season in Washington before being sold to the Phillies.

Gene Green was acquired from the Cardinals late in 1959, played just one game with the O’s and would be drafted by the Senators. Like Klaus, he lasted just one season in DC.

Albie Pearson, who had been the 1958 AL Rookie of the Year with the original Senators, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels

The scribbled pen marks over Pearson’s name further illustrates how unconcerned I was about condition when assembling this team set.


Finally…

Here are the 36 cards of the team set (which fits Oh So Nicely into a four 9-page sheets). In case anyone is wondering, they are in ordered by “How I wanted to order them”.




Minus the 2 combos, team card, manager and coaches, we’re still talking about 31 player cards, which made up a very good chunk of the roster.

So, in conclusion… This was a fun team set to put together and, as I mentioned in the first part, is the oldest team set I’ve completed thus far. Sometime in 2020 I should complete the 1957 Topps Orioles team set (which would then be my oldest) and these two sets have been so much fun to put together that I’m pondering attacking either the 1956 Orioles or the 1955 Kansas City Athletics, either of which – If I’m not mistaken – would fall into the “A fun challenge which would be possible on a budget” category.

Vintage Team Review: 1960 Topps Baltimore Orioles, Part 1

I recently completed a vintage team set, something which had not been an intended project of mine until Sir Nick of the Dime Boxes sent me a 1960 Topps Brooks Robinson.  Completing a 1960 team set frankly hadn’t been on my radar because… well, I’ll just come right out and say it, I’ve never been a fan of 1960 Topps.  But, once I was handed the key card to a vintage team set, well, that just gave me a fun, achievable vintage projects to work on.  Now that I’ve completed this team set, I will say I have a more favorable opinion of the set… but I’d still rank it towards the bottom of the 1960’s sets.  Take what you can get, 1960 Topps fans.

When I write up these team set posts, I like to give an overview of the team itself, and this 1960 Orioles team turned out to be more interesting than I’d imagined.  What was intended to be a single post kept getting longer and longer… and took more and more of my time… until I gave up and decided to break it in half and use the rest in a post early next week.

After six seasons of finishing in the bottom half of the American League, 1960 was the year that the O’s franchise turned a corner.  The team lost 100 games in 1954, their first year in Baltimore, and during the following five years the best the team could do was finish with a .500 record (and still 21 games out of first).

In 1960 the young team, nicknamed the “Baby Birds”, surprised many by remaining in contention for the pennant for most of the season.  After sweeping the Yankees in early September the Orioles had a 2 game lead over the Bronx Bombers, and they were in first place as late as September 9th, but a 4-game Yankee sweep in the Bronx in mid-September was the final straw.  The Birds finished 89-65 and in 2nd place, 8 games behind the Yankees.

Paul Richards managed the O’s from 1955 to 1961 and put in two stints as manager of the White Sox, with over 20 years in between. He managed the Chisox from 1951 to 1954, and then again for a single season in 1976. On top of that, he was the original GM of the Colt .45’s. Lum Harris would replace him a the Orioles manager on September 1st, 1961

I’ve mentioned this before, but I like the design of the managers subset much more than the base player cards.

…And speaking of the players, the best on the team was, of course, Brooks Robinson.  1960 was the first of 15 consecutive seasons where Brooks was an All-Star and the first of 16 consecutive seasons where he won a Gold Glove.

Brooks lead the team in Runs (74), Hits (175), Doubles (27), Triples (9) and Batting (.294).

Some of you may be cringing a bit at the fact that this HOFer’s card has scotch tape on the front, but I honestly found it kind of liberating.  It meant that condition wasn’t a huge concern for me, as long as the cards are all intact.  You’ll see that some of these cards are creased or have pen marks on them… and I don’t care.  I won’t be upgrading any of these unless nicer cards fall into my lap.

There was an Oriole in the starting lineup for the two 1960 All-Star games, but it wasn’t Brooks Robinson. That starting player would also be the 1960 A.L. Rookie Of The Year… I’ll let you chew on that for a minute while I run through the other Orioles All-Stars.

22-year-old Chuck Estrada went 18-11, pitched an inning in one of that year’s two all-star games, was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team and was the Sporting News’ AL Pitcher Of The Year (there was only one Cy Young Award given back then, and it went to the Pirates’ Vern Law). Estrada also tied for 2nd in 1960 Rookie of the Year voting in a year where all three players who got votes were Orioles.

Estrada would lead the A.L. in wins and would lead the team in innings pitched (narrowly beating out Milt Pappas) and Strikeouts (144). Estrada’s career was eventually derailed by elbow issues.

The 3rd Orioles All-Star was Jim Gentile, who had been acquired from the Dodgers during Spring Training.  Gentile was the player who tied with Estrada in ROY voting.

With the Dodgers, Gentile had been blocked by Gil Hodges at first.  Once he was able to play full-time, he showed that he belonged by leading the team with 98 RBI, a .500 Slugging Percentage and a .403 On-Base Percentage.  In 1961 Gentile would have a monster year and lead the league with 141 RBI.

That Oriole who started for the American League in the two All-Star games?  That would be the 1960 A.L. Rookie Of The Year Ron Hansen, who lead the team with 22 homers and became one of the key players on the team.

Hansen would have a solid 15-year career, but after starting those two 1960 All-Star games, he’d never be named to another All-Star team as a starter or a reserve.

Hall-Of-Famer Hoyt Wilhelm appeared in 41 games, had an 11-8 record and got 7 saves to lead the team in the unofficial stat.  Something I didn’t know:  He’d received a Purple Heart for injures he sustained during WWII, and played with a piece of shrapnel in his back

37-year-old Wilhelm was used mainly as reliever, yet also had one of the team’s 10 shutouts.

Outfielder Willie Tasby would not last the year with the Orioles, being traded to the Red Sox in June for outfielder Gene Stephens, but I like the All-Star Rookie subset too much to leave this card out.

I’M IN AN EXPANSION STATE OF MIND…

Because of my “1961 Mets Prequel” project, I’ve become focused on guys who played for the 1962 Mets or any of the other three early 1960’s expansion teams.

Gene Woodling was selected from the Orioles by the “new Senators” in the late 1960 expansion draft, and in 1962 would be purchased from the Sens by the Mets.

Woodling, who played several years for the O’s, would be named to the Orioles Hall Of Fame in 2002.

Joe Ginsberg was also a 1962 Met, but in between he had been released by the O’s, the White Sox and the Red Sox.

This is the one card I’ve upgraded as part of the project;  at the same time Dime Box Nick sent me the Brooks Robinson, he also sent me this card of “Poor Joe Ginsberg” (FYI, the writing is on a pennysleeve, not on the actual card).

You can’t blame me for upgrading this one, but I did hang on to the “Poor” version. It’s funny, but every time I see a card of Joe Ginsberg I think of him as “Poor Joe Ginsberg”.

COMBO CARD #1

I initially thought I’d completed the team set over the summer, but then realized that I was missing this combo card which wasn’t flagged as “Orioles” in my database because it also features Roy Face of the Pirates.

The card isn’t framed very well, because you can see that each player is demonstrating his grip, but the design of the card keeps us from seeing those grips.

Face was famous for his forkball, and Hoyt Wilhelm for his knuckle ball. Face had an astonishing 18-1 record as a reliever in 1959, and much to my surprise is my height (5’8”). I might need to start collecting sub-5’10” pitchers like Face and Bobby Shantz… But that’s neither here nor there.

FUTURE MANAGER

Billy Gardner would manage the Twins from 1981 (replacing John Goryl mid-season) to 1985 (being replaced mid-season by Ray Miller). He also managed the Royals for most of 1987 season, before being replaced by John Wathan down the stretch.

Gardner didn’t play for the O’s in 1960, having been traded to the Senators on April 3rd.

FAVORITE CARTOONS

Normally I would pick out one cartoon, but many of the cartoons in this set were drawn by Jack Davis, who is well known for his work on Mad Magazine as well as his many magazine covers, movie posters (Bad News Bears) and even album covers (One I can think of is “The Greatest of The Guess Who”, which depicted the band as a celebrating hockey team)

It’s interesting that two of the cartoons in this team set – Joe Ginsberg and Milt Pappas – highlight the player’s interest in bowling.


I like this cartoon on the back of Gus Triandos’ card just because it nicely captures how well Jack Davis does sports images.  The style is very Jack Davis, but it also highlights how well he captures action.

As I’d mentioned, Hoyt Wilhelm was a knuckleballer;  this cartoon illustrates that (but takes a few liberties)

This cartoon from Jim Gentile’s card is just… bizarre… But that’s why I like it.

No caption needed for this Walt Dropo cartoon… Well, in the sense that it’s a bizarre image with or without the caption.

Finally, this is the image from the bottom of the reverse of the combo cars

As I mentioned before, I’ll have more on this team set and this team in the next post.

Vintage Team Set: 1972 Topps Texas Rangers

In celebration of completing my second complete team set from 1972 Topps, I thought I’d do an overview of the 1972 Texas Rangers and the less-than-convincingly airbrushed cards which welcomed American League baseball to the state of Texas. Indeed, this team set may well be the worst team set of the 1970’s… which is not to say that it’s a team set without any redeeming qualities… just not many.

If you’re wondering why, after finishing the enourmous 1972 Mets team set (as described here), I completed a team I frankly don’t care about , it’s because I changed my 1972 goals to focus on team sets where there are no HOFers in my needs.  By doing this, it keeps me moving forward on 1972 Topps by giving me achievable short-term goals.  It also makes it easier for me to go through 1972 cards I find at a show, because I can look for specific colorful 1972 borders while thumbing through a handful of cards.

When I broke down my needs by team, I found myself needing just one card to complete the Rangers team set.  I got that card at a card show a couple of weeks ago.

So let’s take a look at the 1972 Topps Texas Rangers team set as a whole, and then get into individual cards.





The Dallas/Ft. Worth area lured the Senators to Texas for the 1972 season after pursuing a franchise for a number of years. DFW was going to be a member of the proposed Continental League which was meant to start play in April, 1961.  After the Continental League died on the vine, DFW also talked to Charles O. Finley about relocating the Kansas City Athletics, tried for a 1969 expansion team and came close to getting the Seattle Pilots before the 1970 season (The Pilots would, of course, move to Milwaukee instead).

The Rangers’ first season was delayed by the first-ever baseball strike; eight games were lost from the Ranger’s schedule as a result. Even with a shortened schedule the team managed to lose 100 games and finish 38.5 games behind the division-winning Oakland A’s. The Rangers’ 54-100 record was the worst in the Majors.

It’s worth pointing out that the Rangers team card is the only card in the team set where logos are visible (which is why I made the image larger than the others). I imagine that by the time Topps got to the 6th series, they looked at the team photo they had, said something along the lines of “Oh, like it matters” and left the Senators uniforms untouched.

THE BIGGIE BIGGIE CARD IN THIS TEAM SET: TED WILLIAMS
Ted Williams is the only Hall-of-famer you’ll find here, and as 1972 was his last season as a manager, this is his last card as anything but a retired legend.

BIG NAME #2: FRANK HOWARD
6’7” Frank “Hondo” Howard had a couple of other nicknames which probably got left behind in Washington: “The Capital Punisher” and “The Washington Monument”. He didn’t make it all the way through the 1972 season, as he was sold to Detroit at the end of August.

BIG NAME #3: DENNY MCLAIN
The former MVP, two-time Cy Young winner and 30-game winner was on the downside of his career here, having lead the league with 22 losses in 1971.  Before the 1972 season McLain was sent off to Oakland, who would trade him to Atlanta during the season.  The Braves were the last team for whom McLain would pitch.

(RELATIVELY) BIG NAME #4: JEFF BURROUGHS
This is the rookie card of Jeff Burroughs, who would be the A.L. MVP in 1974.  He spent most of 1972 with the AAA Denver Bears.

BEST TEXAS RANGER WHO WASN’T IN THIS TEAM SET
Ted Ford, who appears in the 1972 set as a Cleveland Indian, was obtained in a 4/3/72 trade that sent Roy Foster and Tom McCraw to Cleveland.  Ford lead he team with 14 homers, 19 doubles and a .382 slugging percentage.

THE FINAL CARD I OBTAINED
Tom McCraw, card # 767, is also highest-numbered card in the team set, and one of just three Rangers in the 6th Series.  McCraw was caught stealing second in the top of the 9th on 9/30/71 for the final offensive play in Washington Senators history. Having been traded in that Ted Ford trade, he would never actually play for the Rangers in the regular season.

ARGUABLY THE BEST PITCHER
Mike Paul, obtained in a multi-player trade with Cleveland – the Rangers seemed to trade a lot with Cleveland – finished with a 8-9 record and a 2.17 ERA.

MY FAVORITE CARD
Elliot Maddox looks like he might be up to something, and h is expression is a big reason why I like this card.  Maddox was a former first round pick and while he was never an all-star, while with the Yankees he did finish 8th in 1974 AL MVP voting (the year Burroughs won).

“ROOKIE STARS”
The three players on this card had relatively good careers, as far as these type of cards go.

Bill Fahey played 11 seasons as a backup catcher with the Rangers, Padres and Tigers.  Sign of the times:  Even though he was never a starter, he appeared on at least one Topps, Donruss or Fleer card for every year of his career, including two seasons where he spent the entire year in AAA.

Jim Mason played 9 seasons, was the Yankees’ starting shortstop in 1974 and an original Toronto Blue Jay in 1977.

Tom Ragland was the least successful of the three, playing 102 games over three seasons with the Senators, Rangers and Indians.

OTHER PLAYERS OF NOTE
“Aloha, Mr. Hand!”
Rich Hand lead the team with 10 wins… and also lead the team with 14 losses.  He also came from Cleveland in the same trade as Mike Paul (you can tell by the pinstripes and black sleeves).

Dave Nelson lead the league by being caught stealing 17 times;  he also lead the Rangers with 68 runs, 51 stolen bases and 67 walks.  Among his career highlights:  He was a 1968 Topps All-Star Rookie, an All-Star in 1973 and he stole second, third and home in the same inning on August 30, 1974.

Don Mincher played for both Washington Senators franchises, as well as their successors (Twins and Rangers).  He was the Seattle Pilots’ lone All-Star Representative in their one year of existence, and also had been an All-Star with the Angels in 1967.  Mincher was the president of the AA Southern League from 2000 to 2011

Tom Grieve was drafted #6 overall and was the GM of the Rangers from 1984 to 1994

BEST ROOKIE CARD
There are plenty of rookie cards to pick from, but I’d have to go with Toby Harrah, who was the Rangers’ representative in the 1972 All-Star Game but didn’t play. Harrah was named to four All-Star teams all together, but the only All-Star game he appeared in was the 1976 game where he was the starting shortstop (he went 0-2 before being replaced by Mark Belanger)

FAVORITE CARTOON (OFF THE BACK OF DON MINCHER’S CARD)

SURPRISINGLY, THE ONLY PLAYER SHOWN WITHOUT A CAP
Ted Kubiak played with the Brewers and Cardinals in 1971.  From the mountainous background, I’m going to guess that this is a Brewers spring training shot.  Kubiak came to the Rangers from St. Louis in a November, 1971 trade and would get traded to Oakland in July, 1972.

Ted Kubiak always makes me think of Larry Kubiak from the 1990’s Fox comedy “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose”.  Even though Parker Lewis was an obvious Ferris Bueller knockoff and was aimed at a younger demographic, my friends and I still enjoyed the show a little more than we probably should have.  Synchronize Swatches!

THE ONLY PLAYER SHOWN WITHOUT A RED CAP
Roy Foster came from – you guessed it – Cleveland, so he didn’t have a red Senators cap… and since you can’t see the cap logo, I guess they decided to skip the airbrushing altogether.

STRIKE A POSE, THERE’S NOTHING TO IT
These two cards made me wonder if the photographer or someone else involved in the process decided that the Senators weren’t likely to stay in Washington and said “Hey, let’s get players to cover the Senators script on their jersey”.  The placement of the glove seems a little too… strategic.


Paul Lindblad lead the league with 66 appearances in 1972 and pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning of a combined no-hitter for the A’s on the last day of the 1975 regular season.


So there you go, I’ve featured far more cards of the 1972 Texas Rangers than the 1972 Texas Rangers likely deserve.

It’s worth pointing out that the Rangers, a team which lost 96 games the year before and would go on to lose 100 games that year, had 28 cards representing them in 1972 Topps. That was still below average for the 787 card 1972 set, but keep in mind that there are also no “In Action” or “Boyhood Photos” or “League Leaders” for the Rangers.

[Non-]Random Team Review: 1975 Topps Philadelphia Phillies

It all started with a 1975 Topps buyback in one of Night Owl’s posts.  He highlighted a 1975 Topps Tommy Hutton buyback card he got in a trade package, one similar to this…

…and my reaction was “This card is less thoroughly familiar than it should be!”  You see, 1975 Topps is one of the sets I pored over endlessly as a kid, and at one point I knew each and every card like the back of my hand.  This Tommy Hutton card was ever so slightly less familiar;  I merely knew it like the the palms of my hands.

I decided that this simply will not do, that quality time with those 1975 Phillies cards was needed.  “Fetch me my scanner and 1975 Topps binder!“, I exclaimed.

…Well, not really… because this was fairly early Sunday morning, and the only household members who were awake were the cats, who – if they could be bothered responding – would have told me “Go fetch it yer damn self, Mr. Opposable Thumbs”.


The 1975 Phillies, lead by manager Danny Ozark, finished with an 86-76 record.  They finished in 2nd place, 6.5 games behind the NL East champion Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Bucs would get swept in the NLCS by the eventual World Champion Cincinnati Reds.

Here’s the back of the checklist, which I share mainly to show how carefully young Joe inked in his checklist boxes. I like to think that it was less about being compulsive and more about the neatly-filled boxes are more visually pleasing.

BEST POSITION PLAYER
Mike Schmidt, of course. In 1975 he hit 38 homers with 93 runs, 95 RBI. We won’t mention the league-leading 180 strikeouts or the .249 batting average.  The Baseball Reference page for the 1975 Phillies lists Schmidt as the best player with a 7.7 WAR.

Here’s an unexpected Mike Schmidt stat: In 1975 he lead the team with 29 stolen bases. When I think of Mike Schmidt, steals are pretty much the last thing I think of.

BEST PITCHER
Steve Carlton, of course… although arguments could be made for Larry Christenson (11-6, 3.67). Carlton went 15-14 with a 3.56 and had 14 complete games and 3 shutouts.

FAVORITE CARD, BEST ON-FIELD SHOT
I could easily have gone with the awesome Steve Carlton card, but I decided to give these honors to Willie Montanez;  incidentally, he’d get traded on May 4th, 1975 for Garry Maddox and since this was before the first Star Wars movie came out, nobody told Willie “May the fourth be with you!” as he left the clubhouse.

People today complain about players who flip their bats; Willie Montanez got people complaining about how he flipped his glove. When he played first, when he caught the ball he did a little snap of the wrist to add a little flair to the process. Of course, sometimes he’d flip his glove back and the ball would come out.

BEST NAME
Guerrant MacCurdy “Mac” Scarce got this honor when I did the 1974 Phillies team, and nothing has changed (except that Mac Scarce pitched for the Mets in 1975)

…And as I’d mentioned in that previous post, his full name is even better than the name on the front of the card.

Mac Scarce was part of the return when the Phillies acquired Tug McGraw, but Scarce faced all of one batter in his Mets career. On April 11, 1975, the Mets were leading 3-0 entering the 9th in Pittsburgh and starter Jerry Koosman was still in the game. Koosman gave up three singles and was replaced by Rick Baldwin. Baldwin walked a batter, got a popout and then a 2-run single to Rennie Stennett. With the game tied, runners on first and second and one out, manager Yogi Berra brought in lefty Mac Scarce to face Richie Hebner. Hebner singled to left and drove in the winning run. Four days later, Scarce was traded to the Reds for pitcher Tom Hall. Scarce never pitched in the Majors for Cincinnati.

BEST ROOKIE CARD

This wasn’t much of a competition, as the 1975 Rookie Pitchers card featuring Tom Underwood is the only rookie card in this team set. Underwood would be the LHP on the 1975 Topps All-Star Rookie team, and would go on to pitch 11 seasons with 6 different teams.

BEST 1975 PHILLIES POSITION PLAYER WITHOUT A 1975 PHILLIES CARD
Garry Maddox, obtained for the aforementioned Willie Montanez, batted .291 with 50 runs and 46 RBI in 99 games with the Phillies.

BEST 1975 PHILLIES PITCHER WITHOUT A 1975 PHILLIES CARD
Tug McGraw, obtained in a December 3, 1974 trade with the Mets, split closing duties with Gene Garber. Tugger went 9-6, 2.98 and 14 saves.

MOST NOTABLE AIRBRUSHING
…Goes to the other half of the closer combo, Gene Garber. It’s actually a pretty good airbrush job, but the jersey shouldn’t be plain white, and the cap isn’t quite the right shade of red.

Garber lead the league with 71 games and 47 games finished, and tied Tug McGraw for the Phillies team lead with 14 saves. Garber had been purchased from the Royals on July 12, 1974, and made 34 appearances with the Phils in 1974, so there’s really no good reason why he’s airbrushed here.

GUY WITH A STAR ON HIS CARD
Larry Bowa was the starting shortstop on the 1974 NL All-Star Team, but he would be replaced by Dave Concepcion in 1975.

1975 LEADER IN MULTIPLE CATEGORIES #1
In 1975 Dave Cash lead the Majors in hits (213), singles (166), plate appearances (766) and at-bats (699), and was tied for the lead in games (162, natch).  Baseball Reference lists Cash as the Phillies second-best player (5.1 WAR)

1975 LEADER IN MULTIPLE CATEGORIES #2
Greg Luzinski lead the Majors in RBI (120) and Total Bases (322). He also tied with Atlanta’s Ralph Garr for the most intentional walks in the National League (17; Rod Carew lead the Majors with 18).

You can’t really tell from this scan, but this card looks like it was carried in someone’s back pocket for an extended period of time. It wasn’t *my* pocket, I promise you I took better care of my cards than that. This is a placeholder card that’s been waiting 45 years to be upgraded… Maybe I should get around to that… someday…

BEST CARTOON

I liked the cartoon, but I have to admit I didn’t know who Ice Box Chamberlain is until I looked him up. He was a 19th century pitcher who won 32 (!) games with the 1889 St. Louis Browns of the American Association.

1974 HOME RUN LEADERS CARD

Mike Schmidt lead the Majors with 36 homers;  Johnny Bench came in second with 33 and AL leader Dick Allen and Jim Wynn were tied for third overall with 32 homers.

1974 STRIKEOUT LEADERS CARD

Steve Carlton lead the NL with 240, which was a distant second to MLB leader Nolan Ryan;  The Ryan Express lead the Majors with 367, and “Circle Me, Bert” Blyleven had 249.

I SUPPOSE I SHOULD SAY SOMETHING ABOUT TOMMY HUTTON
Hutton played primarily for the Phillies, but also played for the Expos, Dodgers and Blue Jays.  He was the first baseman on the 1972 Topps All-Star Rookie team (although his 1973 card did not feature a trophy), and with the Phillies in 1975 he was a first baseman, right fielder and pinch-hitter.

MOST COMMON COLOR PAIRING
Since we’re talking about 1975 Topps, I feel the need to count up the colors used in this team set. The most common combo is Green/Yellow, which appears 4 times out of 27 cards.

In 1975, Ollie Brown was part of a platoon with Jay Johnstone and achieved a career high .303 batting average.

The Breakdown of the rest:
3 cards: Purple/Magenta, Yellow/Light Blue, Yellow/Red, Orange/Orange
2 cards: Brown/Tan, Orange/Yellow, Pink/Yellow (both league leader cards)
1 card: Orange/Brown, Green/Green, Green/Purple

Random Team Review: 1977 Topps San Francisco Giants

I’ve  been trying to get back to some of my neglected recurring series, I haven’t done one of these Random Team Reviews since August… Plus I have fun creating them.  Hopefully that comes across enough that you enjoy reading them.

Confession: This team set wasn’t truly random… I looked for a set I haven’t done yet, and came up with 1977… Then I looked at the teams I hadn’t done yet and realized I’ve yet to do a team from the National League West, so I chose randomly from the six 1977 NL West teams.

Under manager Joe Altobelli, the 1977 Giants went 75-87 and finished 4th in the NL, 23 games behind the eventual NL Champion Dodgers. It was Altobelli’s first year as manager of the Giants, after replacing Bill Rigney.

Best Position Player
After three years in exile with The Padres (almost “Washington Nat’ Lea”) and briefly with the A’s, Willie McCovey became a free agent and went back to Candlestick.
The 39-year-old lead the team in Homers (28), RBI (86), OBP (.367) and Slugging (.500).

Best Pitcher
6’7″ Ed Halicki went 16-12 with a 3.32 ERA. He lead team in wins, Innings pitched and strikeouts, plus was second in WHIP (not that anybody talked about WHIP in 1977). He pitched 7 complete games and had two shutouts.  Halicki no-hit the Mets in 1975.

Highest-valued card: #476 Rookie Catchers
Giants rookie Gary Alexander shares a card with two-time MVP Dale Murphy.  Alexander would play in 432 games, mostly as a catcher or DH, for the Giants, Indians, A’s and Pirates between 1975 and 1981.

Here’s a number for you… Gary Alexander lead the American League with 166 strikeouts in 1979.  This past season Yoan Moncada lead the Majors with 217.

Best Giants Rookie Card: #488 Jack Clark
As far as I’m concerned, this is a Mets card and the Lee Mazzilli rookie card.

Jack Clark was a four-time All-Star (twice with the Giants, twice with the Cardinals) and in 1987 he lead the league with a .597 On-Base Percentage (aided by also leading the league with 136 walks)

Best 1977 Giants player without a 1977 Card
Bob Knepper went 11-9, 3.36 in his rookie season. He wouldn’t get a rookie card until 1978 Topps, but he appeared on several Cramer Pacific Coast League cards (more on these in a moment).

Best on-field shot
Hiding behind Joe Ferguson didn’t work for Bobby Murcer, as he was traded to the Cubs in February, 1977.  Ferguson was also traded in the offseason, and both players had glorious airbrush jobs in 1977 O-Pee-Chee (which was issued later than 1977 Topps).

Most notable Airbrushing
John Curtis was acquired from the Cardinals in an October trade which kept the Topps airbrush artists busy.

Other players in this trade who got airbrushed were Willie Crawford, Mike Caldwell, Dave Rader and the exceptionally-airbrushed John D’Acquisto card (go look it up if you haven’t already said “Oh, yeah” and nodded approvingly)

Favorite Card
I thought about going with Murcer for the Favorite Card, but decided to keep it as a separate category and insert Ken Reitz in here. I’ve always liked photos which include the batting cage, plus Ken looks like he really enjoys being on this baseball card.

Guy With A Rookie Cup
I think of Larry Herndon with the Giants and Tigers, but I hadn’t realized it until I’d looked up Larry Herndon’s Baseball Reference page, but he made his MLB debut as a September callup with the Cardinals in 1974. What earned him his Rookie Cup in 1976 was batting .288 with 42 runs and 23 RBI.

As a little “You learn something new every day” addendum to Herndon’s card: The 1975 trade which sent Herndon to San Francisco sent pitcher Ron Bryant to the Cardinals. If, like me, you don’t remember Ron Bryant with the Cards, that’s because he pitched only 8.2 innings over 10 games, went 0-1 and had a 16.62 ERA and a 3.115 WHIP. OUCH!!! Bryant’s 1975 card (which showed him with the Giants) would be his last card.

The Player With the Best Sister
If you’re not familiar with Randy Moffitt’s sister, she’s none other than tennis legend Billie Jean King, who ranked #1 six times and won 39 Grand Slam titles.

Randy Moffitt was a reliever who spent most of his career with the Giants. In 1977 he had a 3.59 ERA, 11 saves and averaged 7.0 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.

Best Name, Best Nickname
John “The Count” Montefusco was the 1975 N.L. Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in 1976, but was slowed down by arm injuries after that.  In 1977 he went 7-12, 3.49 with 4 complete games

Best Name (Without a Topps Card)
The best name on this team easily goes to Thomas Howard Toms, who was commonly known as Tommy Toms.  He pitched relief in four games for the 1977 Giants and ended up with an 0-1 record with a 2.08 ERA. 1977 was his final season in the Majors and in the Giants organization. He played for three different AAA teams in 1978 to end his career.
1977 Cramer Pacific Coast League - [Base] #81 - Tommy Toms [Good to VG‑EX] - Courtesy of COMC.com
I’ve been growing intrigued by the minor league sets issued by Cramer Sports Promotions in the 1970’s. Mike Cramer was involved in a number of AAA Pacific Coast League team sets from 1976 to 1979, and while minor league sets were unusual enough for the time, these sets were in color. Cramer Sports Productions would become Pacific Trading Cards, which would make Baseball Legends sets, sets dedicated to Steve Largent, Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan and ultimately would make MLB, NFL and NHL sets through the 1990’s and into the early 21st century… but these sets are where it all started. I just bought a different Cramer PCL Tommy Toms card from COMC, and will share that will everybody once the card arrives (which will be a while because I’ve only got 7 cards to ship right now).

OK, end of side trip… let’s wrap things up with the last two categories…

Best Cartoon: John Montefusco
I’ll bet Freddie Patek appreciated the heck out of this one…

Bonus O-Pee-Chee Card: Bill Madlock
Bill Madlock’s 1977 Topps card showed him with the Cubs, but he went to San Francisco in a February trade that saw Bobby Murcer and Steve Ontiveros going to the North Side of Chicago.  Had this been a Topps card, it would’ve easily beaten out John Curtis for “Most Notable Airbrushing” honors.

Update: After I pressed “Publish” on this post, I realized that tomorrow (3/8/19) is the 2nd anniversary of the first post in this series. Had I realized that, I might’ve held this off for a day.  Oh well, this blog is just a never-ending series of missed opportunities.

Click on the “Random Team” tag at the bottom of this post to see all of the Random Team Reviews!

Random Team Review: 1976 Topps California Angels


The 1976 California Angels went 76-86 under Dick Williams and Norm Sherry.  They finished tied with the Rangers for 4th place, 14 games behind the division champion Royals.

BEST POSITION PLAYER, BEST ROOKIE CARD:

There wasn’t a player with truly outstanding offensive stats, so I skipped past Bobby Bonds, Tommy Davis and Tony Solaita and went with…

…Jerry Remy? In terms of WAR, absolutely. The 1976 Angels in general did not put up much in the way of offensive numbers.  Jerry Remy played 2nd base while leading the team with 132 hits, 64 runs, 35 stolen bases and and 152 total bases.

BEST PITCHER:

SURPRISE!!!! It’s not Nolan Ryan!

Frank Tanana was 22 years old and dominated the American League, going 19-10 with a 2.43 ERA, 261 K’s and a league-leading 0.988 WHIP.

FAVORITE CARD:

I just like this posed shot… It doesn’t hurt that I like Mickey Rivers as well.  Mick The Quick wasn’t with the Angels in 1976, having been traded to the Yankees in the offseason.

BEST NAME:

Morris Nettles had appeared in 112 games in 1975 but never played in the Majors after that.

He appeared in the 1976 Traded set after being traded with Jim Spencer to the White Sox for Bill Melton and Steve Dunning, but he never played in the Majors for the ChiSox. Nettles spent 1976 in AAA and the following six years in the Mexican League.

WHO DIS?

New category this time around, because I was going through these cards (and I’ve had all of these Angels cards for over 40 years) and I looked at this card and said “I don’t remember this guy…”

John Balaz played a total of 59 games for the Angels in 1974 and 1975. On March 3rd, 1976 he was sent to Boston as part of a trade for Dick Drago, but Balaz never played in the Majors again, although he did play in AAA and Mexico up through 1980.

BEST ON-FIELD PHOTO:

Ellie Rodriguez is another player in this post who didn’t play for the Angels in 1976. At the end of 1976 Spring Training he was traded to the Dodgers. He played in 36 games backing up Steve Yeager and then… repeat along with me: Spent a year in AAA and a few more in Mexico to end his career.

Here’s an Ellie Rodriguez fact for you: He was the Kansas City Royals’ first All-Star, but he didn’t play in the game. While with the Brewers he was also named to the 1972 All-Star team and again didn’t appear in the game.

MOST NOTABLE AIRBRUSHING:

Barry Bonds was acquired from the Yankees for Mickey Rivers and pitcher Ed Figueroa.  This isn’t an awful airbrushing, it isn’t a great airbrushing, but it’s what stands out in this batch.

The Angels thought they were getting a three-time All-Star who had 32 homers and 85 RBI in 1975. An injury limited him to just 99 games, 10 homers and 54 RBI, all his lowest totals since his rookie season in 1968. He’d bounce back in 1977 before being traded to the White Sox.

GUY I CAN’T *NOT* MENTION:

OK, fine, here’s Nolan Ryan.

In 1976 Ryan went 17-18 with a 3.36 ERA.  He also lead the league in some interesting categories:  327 K’s (of course), 183 walks, 7 shutouts, 18 losses, 6.1 hits per 9 innings, 10.4 K’s per 9 innings.

I should also point out that Ryan was *not* an All-Star in 1976.

FAVORITE CARTOONS:

From the back of Dave Collins’ card (Did they mean *unassisted* triple play?)

From the back of Dick Lange’s card:

LEAGUE LEADER #1

This is my first time including League Leader cards in a Random Team Review post and it occurred to me that everything about this post is about the 1976 season except for these cards, which are for league leaders in 1975.  Oh, well.

Mick The Quick had 70 stolen bases in 1975, 30 more than runner-up Claudell Washington.  Davey Lopes lead the Majors with 77 SB’s.

LEAGUE LEADER #2

As mentioned, Frank Tanana lead the Majors with 269 K’s.

Tom Seaver was second in the Majors with 243.

Random Team Review: 1975 Topps New York Yankees

Although I’m a life-long Mets fan, I also liked the Yankees when I was a kid in the mid-1970’s.

There, I’ve gotten that off of my chest. I’ve been meaning to write about that for… well, since the beginnings of this blog in late 2011.

…But to summarize: For my first three years of collecting (1974-1976), I also enjoyed having cards of the other New York team. I was young and naïve, everything was sunshine-y and there were no villains, just different strata of heroes.

So let’s get into the Yankees team set from 1975 Topps …


The 1975 Yankees went 83-77 and finished in 3rd place in the American League East. At the time, Yankee Stadium was undergoing an extensive renovation (and having all of its personality surgically removed), so the Yankees were in their second year of playing their home games at Shea Stadium. I’m still weirded out by any photos which show the Shea scoreboard with a Yankees logo featured up top. Heresy!!!

George Steinbrenner had purchased the team in 1973, and while I was too young at the time to know who Steinbrenner was, looking back it seems like 1975 was when the Yankees reached significant levels of Steinbrennerosity. GM Tal Smith resigned during the season, and manager (and Shlabotnik favorite) Bill Virdon was fired and replaced by Billy Martin… one of numerous reasons why Billy Martin was a first-ballot inductee into my “Hall Of Disdain”.

Best Position Player:
Thurman Munson was in his prime, batting .318 with 83 runs, 102 RBI and 12 homers. He was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and finished 7th in MVP voting..

Munson played in 157 games in 1975, 130 games as a catcher and most of the rest as a DH. He also made appearances at 1st, 3rd and in the outfield.

Best Pitcher Appearing in the set as a Yankee:
George “Doc” Medich was in his final season with the Yankees; he went 16-16 with a 3.50 ERA, 2 shutouts and 132 strikeouts.

Best Pitcher; Best Player Pictured With Another Team
Jim Hunter had his best season as a Yankee in his first season as a Yankee. He lead the league in wins and complete games, went 23-14 with a 2.58, 7 shutouts, 177 K’s and a 1.009 WHIP. Hunter was an All-Star and finished second to Jim Palmer in Cy Young voting after winning the award in 1974 with the A’s.

1975 was the 5th straight season he won 20 games, and the last season he would do so.

Favorite Card and Best On-Field Photo:
This photo of Bill Sudakis might not look great on a 2018 card, but it was pure gold in 1975.

Had there been a 1975 Traded set, Sudakis may have appeared in it as he had been traded to the Angels in December 1974 for reliever Skip Lockwood. My reaction to this information was “Skip Lockwood pitched for the Yankees?” only to find out that he didn’t make it to opening day; he was cut by the Yankees in early April, picked up by the A’s and later sold to the Mets.

Best Rookie card:
Easily the best career of any Yankee on a 1975 Topps rookie card belongs to Scott McGregor… and he never actually pitched for the Yankees.  In the Major Leagues McGregor was a career Oriole who would win 20 games in 1980.

I found out something fascinating about McGregor while researching this post.  Before the 1974 season A’s manager Dick Williams, who had quit his position in Oakland, was the Yankees first choice to be their manager.  The A’s demanded compensation for Williams, however, and at one point the two teams agreed on outfielder Otto Velez and Scott McGregor.  George Steinbrenner then decided that prospects were more important than managers and scuttled the deal.  The Yankees instead hired Bill Virdon, who had been let go by the Pirates.

Best 1975 Yankees Position Player Who Didn’t Appear On A 1975 Card:
I couldn’t decide on one player who should represent the “Best who didn’t appear on a 1975 card” category, so I split it into two categories. Walt Williams is the best Yankees position player not to appear in the 1975 Topps set.

In 1975 – his final season – Williams appeared in 82 games, batted .281 with 27 runs and 16 RBI.

Best 1975 Yankees Pitcher Who Didn’t Appear On A 1975 Card:
Tippy Martinez would have half as many appearances as Sparky Lyle, yet managed to lead the team with 8 saves.

Favorite Cartoon (on the back of Bill Sudakis’ card):

Best Name:
As a kid, I thought “Cecil Upshaw” sounded like a British movie character, perhaps played by Terry-Thomas… Someone who would say “Oh, drat!” after giving up a home run.

Best Nickname:
Fred “Chicken” Stanley – Fred’s a baseball lifer (currently a Special Assistant with the Giants) and every time I see him referenced somewhere, I think of him as “Chicken”.

You may be thinking “Hello?  Catfish Hunter?”, but I would rank Catfish no higher than 4th on this team, behind “No Neck” Williams and “Doc” Medich.

Most Notable Airbrushing:
This Yankees team had a lot of roster turnover, so there were plenty of airbrushing jobs to pick from, but there’s no doubting which is the most… ahhh… NOTABLE.

What makes this even more… um… interesting is that the Yankees had purchased May from the Angels the previous June… Rudy May pitched in 17 games, 15 of them starts, in 1974.  There really should’ve been a photo of May in a Yankees uniform, but then we wouldn’t have had THIS.

Card which looks terribly odd to any Orioles fan:
Rick Dempsey is so thoroughly associated with the Orioles these days that it’s strange to see him pictured with the Yankees… even though that’s how I first knew him.

The previous cards of Tippy Martinez and Scotty McGregor also fall into this category.  All three of them were involved in the same 10 player, June 1976 trade which saw Doyle Alexander, Ellie Hendricks, Ken Holtzman and Grant Jackson heading to the Bronx.

Random Team Review: 1973 Topps Detroit Tigers

The 1973 Detroit Tigers finished with a 85-77 record, 12 games behind the Orioles.  They had, however, finished in 1st place the prior year, finishing a half-game ahead of the Red Sox before losing to the A’s 3 games to 2 in the ALCS.

The 1973 Tigers were 1st place as late as August 14th, when they went into a skid and fell to 3rd place, 7.5 games out of first, which contributed to the firing of…

Billy Martin, who would be replaced by coach Joe Schultz for the remainder of the season.  Schulz would not be brought on full time;  Ralph Houk would be the Tigers manager in 1974.

Funny thing… I don’t think I’d ever noticed that Joe Schultz’s name is missing from this card.

Best Starting Pitcher
Joe Coleman went 23-15 with a 3.53 ERA, 13 complete games, 2 shutouts and 202 K’s.

File this under “It was a different time…”:  Despite his 23 wins, Coleman didn’t get any Cy Young votes.  He did finish 23rd in the MVP voting, though.

Best Relief Pitcher
John Hiller went 10-5, 1.44 with 38 saves.  He had 124 K’s in 125.1 innings pitched.

Hiller finished 4th in Cy Young voting… By the way, this happened after Hiller suffered a heart attack at the age of 28.  I wrote about John Hiller a couple of years ago, if you want to know more.

Best Offensive Player
This team was not an offensive juggernaut.  There was nobody who stood out in this category so I’m going to go with Willie Horton who was an All-Star, lead the team with a .316 batting average and had 17 homers and 53 RBI.  Arguments could also be made for Norm Cash and Mickey Stanley.

Best on-field photo; Favorite card
Without a doubt:

The Yankees’ Celerino Sanchez evades Bill Freehan’s tag… I’m guessing I’m not the first person to try to figure this play out, but I believe it’s from August 8th, 1972.   In the bottom of the 4th the was game tied 1-1, Mickey Lolich on the mound, one out and Felipe Alou had singled. Sanchez was hit by a pitch, moving Alou to 2nd.  Ron Swoboda singled, scoring Alou and sending Sanchez to 2nd base.  Gene “Stick” Michael flied out to right and then pitcher (and Shlabotnik favorite) Fritz Peterson – FRITZ!!! – singled, but the throw from left fielder Willie Horton nailed Sanchez at the plate.

Best Name
Aurelio Rodriguez

Best (relatively speaking) Rookie Card
There are three rookie cards in this team set. All three feature pitchers. None of them had a long or ourstanding careers. I ruled out Bob Strampe from consideration (he shared a “Rookie Pitchers” card with Jesse Jefferson and Dennis O’Toole), but I couldn’t decide between the other two, so I decided to just feature them both.

As I was finishing this post I discovered two things about Bill Slayback which would’ve put him over the top from the start, had I only realized…

First off, Slayback no-hit the Yankees through 7 innings in his 1972 Major League debut.  Johnny Callison led off the 8th inning with a single, which broke up the No-No, but Slayback would get the win (and Seelbach got the Save).

The other thing which really floored me was that Bill Slayback wrote a song with Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, Slayback would record that song… and it’s a song I know!  …Although, to be fair, it’s a song I know from a CD called “Baseball’s Greatest Hits”… but still!

And now we have a long-distance dedication… Here’s Bill Slayback with “Move Over Babe (Here Comes Henry)”

I’ve got another music-related comment about Bill Slayback that I’ll save for the end of the post.

Best Cartoon #1

Here’s another MLB debut of note… On April 11th, 1963, Chris Zachary came in to pitch the 9th for the Houston Colt .45’s against the San Francisco Giants.  With the Colts down 4-1, Zachary walked Willie Mays, gave up a single to Willie McCovey (sending Mays to third) and then gave up a 3-run homer to Orlando Cepeda.  A rough debut for sure… but then Zachary settled down and got Tom Haller, Felipe Alou and Jose Pagan to get out of the inning.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I have to mention it:  The awesomely-named Conrad Cardinal also made his MLB debut in that game, pitching the 6th, 7th and 8th for the Colts.  Cardinal’s entire MLB career consisted of 6 games in 1963 with Houston, so Cardinal never pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Even more sad:  His only baseball card, a 1963 Rookie Stars card shared with Dave McNally, Don Rowe and Ken Rowe, lists him as Randy Cardinal.  Bummer.

Best Cartoon #2

Best Cartoon #3

Best Cartoon #4


THE BILL SLAYBACK!

James Brown had a song in 1973 called “The Payback”, and when I look at Bill Slayback’s card I hear James Brown singing “Gotta get ready for the Bill Slayback!” I’d have to think that somebody on the team gave him grief over that.

I don’t know karate, but I know ca-razy!
(Some of the lyrics found on the internet say “…But I know ka-razor”.  Really?  “Ka-razor”????  NEVER trust internet lyrics.)