Hostess Card Of The Week: 1976 Willie McCovey

1976 Hostess Willie McCoveyIf you have a 2013 Baseball Hall Of Fame desk calendar like I do, you’ve been spending the last couple of days looking at Willie McCovey. This card is also my most recent Hostess acquisition, so I figured that it was kismet.

In 1976, Willie McCovey was 38 years old, and struggled for most of the season. He would eventually lose his starting job to Mike Ivie, and get sold to the A’s on August 30th, where he would serve as a DH for the first and only time of his career. In 82 games that year, he batted .204 with 7 homers and 36 RBI. For those into Wins Above Replacement, McCovey was 0.4 with the Padres and -0.2 with the A’s. I didn’t even know you could have a negative WAR.

After such a lackluster season it seemed like Willie’s career was over. However, he convinced the Giants to give him a spring training invite in 1977, and he would go on to hit .280 with 38 HR’s and 86 RBI, earning him the NL Comeback Player of the Year award and the Hutch Award. I was only generally aware of what the Hutch Award is, so I looked it up, and according to, “The award is given to a Major League player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication on and off the field of former baseball great Fred Hutchinson”. The 2012 winner was Barry Zito.

1975 Hostess Tito Fuentes; Weigh-In #37

I was gazing in wonder at the glowing mustard jersey and cap that Tito had been airbrushed into, when suddenly an Anachronism Alert! went off in my head;  The Padres didn’t wear mustard jerseys in 1975!  Not even in 1974!  And that cap isn’t right, either…

Trying to be fair to Hostess, I thought “Well, maybe it’s a photo which had been airbrushed a couple of years prior.”  Not the case… Tito was obtained from the Giants in December 1974.  Hmmmm.

According to the Hall Of Fame’s Dressed To The Nine’s website, the Padres wore the mustard caps in 1971, and the mustard jerseys in 1972 and 1973.  At that point it occurred to me that in 1974 and 1975, there were a number of other examples of players being airbrushed into the mustard cap,  most notably this one:

So now I’m just thinking that there was an airbrush artist who didn’t want to get involved in painting this cap:

In my imagination, one guy in the Topps art department is looking over the shoulder of another…

“Hey, Ed, you know that’s not what the Padres caps look like anymore…”


“OK, OK,  man…  I’m just sayin’…”

Getting back to Tito… I just missed the 47th anniversary of Tito’s major league debut;  his first game was on 8/18/65.

I also can’t help but wonder if there’s one of Tito’s trademark sweatbands underneath that airbrushing…


Weigh-In numbers for this week:

Cards coming into the house:  46 (Various retail packs and a 2012 Score Steelers team set)

Cards leaving the house:  0

Cards entering the collection: 52

Cards leaving the collection: 0

Cards moving from inbound to outbound without entering the collection: 28

To date:

Net change in the collection: 50 (Yes, this is a positive number for the first time since November.  Need to start weeding stuff out again)

Net change to the # of cards in the house: -9,293

Total # of cards which have left the house: 12,810

National Show & Tell: They’re Not ‘Lesser Grade’, They’re Well-Loved

A lot of my bigger “gets” from the show were vintage star cards which were somewhat lacking in… shall we say “Gradeability”?  No pristine pieces of cardboard entombed in the grading service shells of death, just well-loved cardboard which you know were handled, perused, examined, memorized and, in one case, somewhat abused.

…Like this 1966 Jim Hunter, his second-year card.  It looks like someone made a big yellow highlighter “L” on the card (it looks worse in the scan than it does in person).  I saw this card in a box, it was obviously damaged, but how else are you going to get a 46-year-old card of a Hall Of Famer for $1?  It’s not even a card I would normally collect, but I had something of a “Charlie Brown Christmas” moment with this card… I looked at it, and I thought “I think it needs me”.

So, what else did I get?  Say hey, everybody!  Take a look at these!

One of my somewhat last-minute goals of the show was to try to get some well-loved stars from the 1972 set, and Willie Mays certainly falls into that category.  If I also decide to go forward with completing the first two series of 1972 (something I’ve all but committed to doing), then I was going to need these two.  I would also need Mr. Joe Morgan…

…but Willie McCovey falls into the third series, so buying him is either a case of being proactive regarding possible future goals, or just me saying “WTF”.

And finally, so you don’t think I was fixated too  much on 1972, here’s a lovely Brooks Robinson All-Star from 1970.

The total damage for these cards?  $16.  For less than the price of a blaster, I got 6 vintage cards featuring Hall-Of-Famers.  I ask you, how can you beat that?

The Shlabotnik Report Has Been Declared To Be A Gint-Free Zone

After 371 posts about Allen & Ginter this week (data verified by the American Fabricated Information Institute), people are clamoring for posts about 1973 Topps (according to findings by the Ersatz Media Research Group).

I’ve been working on my 1973 set – just a handful of cards left, I hope to finish it off at the National – and I’d like to share a pair of semi-recent acquisitions.  You can call them #12 and #11 on my countdown to completion (except I have no idea where they fall.  Just go with it).

Johnny Bench is about to catch a foul ball in front of  a couple of Giants on the bench (safe to say it’s Candlestick Park?  You tell me, I suck at this.)

Willie McCovey seems to be fouling off a ball at a home game in Candlestick.  I don’t know if we’d be able to figure out who the catcher is… Looks like a Reds uniform… Sideburns… last name starts with “B”… Hey, it’s Johnny Bench!

I don’t think there’s enough here to make any conclusions, but I can’t help but wonder if both photos had been taken at the same game.  Who knows, maybe Johnny Bench’s card shows him catching a McCovey foul ball.

1974 Week kicks off with the Willie McCovey Washington “Nat’l Lea.” card

Welcome to 1974 Week! 1974 Topps Baseball was my first set and, like most people, my first set is also one of my favorites. I’m going to spend the whole week sharing my favorite cards, as well as the different variations and other unique features of the set. I’m going to kick things off with the first “hit” I ever got.

I pulled this card from a pack in 1974.  At the time, I had no idea of what the significance of “Washington Nat’l Lea.” was.  I was just getting into baseball, so I’d heard nothing about the Padres near-move to Washington.  I just knew this card was different, nobody I knew had anything like it, and having something unique was cool.

I don’t know how many of you realize that the team was so close to moving that a prototype road uniform was created and at least one player (Dave Freisleben) modeled it for photographers. There wasn’t a home uniform made because the prospective buyers hadn’t come up with a name for their team (Hence “Nat’l Lea.” on the Topps cards).

One thing I’ve never seen completely explained was why some Padres cards didn’t have Washington versions.  Dave Winfield’s rookie card, for example, only exists as a San Diego Padres version.  1974 Topps was the first set to not be issued in series, so that wasn’t a factor. I’ve seen auctions featuring sheets with Washington NL cards, so I’m guessing that only some printing sheets had been set up as Washington by the time they realized that the move wasn’t going to take place.