Thursday, February 11, 2016

no. 500 - jim perry

Who is the man: Jim Perry was heading into 1971 as the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons.

Can ya dig it: I hope you can tell he's Gaylord Perry's brother from this photo.

Right on: It took me so long to know who Jim Perry is. I'd say that he might be one of the more forgotten players to have received a double-zero card number (for those times when Topps was specifically awarding double-zero numbers for star players, anyway).

You see that cat Perry is a bad mother: Perry is part of the second-winningest brother combination in big-league history. Jim and Gaylord won 529 games, 10 fewer than Phil and Joe Niekro.

Shut your mouth: Early in his major league career, Perry took a job in the offseason selling bomb shelters. Perry, who tended to give up the home run ball, said, "I ought to get one for myself."

No one understands him but his woman: Perry was left unprotected by the Twins for the expansion draft in 1968. He wasn't chosen and won 20 games in 1969.

(A word about the back): Well, I guess if the card is going to have a crease, the best place for it is the back.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

no. 499 - 5th series checklist

Who is the man: Since these cards were issued in 1971, we can assume that the batter on the checklist card, whoever he is, is a Cardinal, Red, Phillie or Senator. They wore the red helmets at that time. (The White Sox switched to red caps for the 1971 season, but since '71 cards are based on the 1970 season, we can leave them out).

Can ya dig it: Once again, the checklist gives collectors a jump on the 5th series by appearing 25 cards before the 5th series even begins.

Right on: Hey, collectors! Ernie Banks, Carl Yastrzemski, Vida Blue and Harmon Killebrew are coming in the 5th series!

You this checklist is a bad mother: This checklist features the famed Lowell Palmer. That's pretty rockin'.

Shut your mouth: "N.L. Rookie Inf." The checklist is forced to Infer "Infielders."

No one understands him but his woman: I'm assuming I have that card of John Matias since I've completed the set. But I can't tell you what it looks like at all. Guess I"ll have to wait for it to turn up on the 1971 Topps blog!

(A word about the back): The card number has appeared at the top center for the third straight checklist.

Friday, February 5, 2016

no. 498 - john kennedy

Who is the man: John Kennedy finished out the 1970 season with the Red Sox after being purchased from the Brewers in June. Kennedy would stay with the Red Sox through the end of his career in 1974.

Can ya dig it: John Kennedy in Yankee Stadium with the American flag in the background. It's just too presidential of a photo.

Right on: Kennedy's position is listed as "infield," and it's accurate. He played first, second, third and short in 1970.

You see that cat Kennedy is a bad mother: Kennedy hit a home run in his first MLB bat, a pinch-hitting appearance that broke up a no-hit attempt by the Twins' Dick Stigman. Stigman had retired 17 straight batters when Kennedy homered with two outs in the sixth inning on Sept. 5, 1962.

Shut your mouth: Kennedy was made the Dodgers' regular third baseman in 1965 after Jim Gilliam retired. But Kennedy struggled to hit and then was injured. Gilliam came out of retirement and took back the third base job.

No one understands him but his woman: Kennedy not only shares his name with the 35th president of the United States, but the same birthday, May 29. This was a pretty big deal for someone who started his career with the Washington Senators with a Kennedy in the White House. Kennedy told former SABR director Paul Hirsch that a love letter written to him by his fiancee once was delivered to the White House by accident.

(A word about the back): Kennedy sure could pick his home run moments. The inside-the-park homer came against the Indians' Rick Austin in the fifth inning, tying the game at 3-3. The Red Sox would score two more times in the inning and go on to win, 8-4.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

no. 497 - horacio pina

Who is the man: Horacio Pina pitched in a career-high 61 games for the Senators in 1970, logging just 71 innings, with a productive 2.79 ERA.

Can ya dig it: Another shot in Yankee Stadium but kind of a different look than a lot of the other "frieze" photos in the set.

Right on: This is Pina's rookie card even though he had been in the majors since 1968.

You see that cat Pina is a bad mother: Pina is the first Mexican native to win a World Series ring. He was a relief pitcher for the Oakland A's when they beat the Mets in the 1973 World Series.

Shut your mouth: Pina formed a strong bond with his manager, Ted Williams, in part because Williams spoke some Spanish. Williams had a Mexican background on his mother's side. Pina learned how to fish from Williams and they would go to the movies together.

No one understands him but his woman: Pina's last name has a tilde over the "n," but it never appeared on his cards or on his uniform. Pina didn't pay any mind, saying in an interview a few years ago, "I didn't know what that little thing over the 'n' was even called! It was only later I found out it was called a tilde."

 (A word about the back): Pina would later pitcher another Mexican League no-hitter -- this one a perfect game -- during a 21-4 season in 1978.

Monday, February 1, 2016

no. 496 - woody woodward

Who is the man: Woody Woodward was entering his final major league season when this card was issued. He would play in 136 games in 1971 -- the second most of his career -- but retire at age 29 at the end of the season.

Can ya dig it: Woodward's eyes match the sky.

Right on: I can't imagine how many fans gave him the Woody Woodpecker laugh.

You see that cat Woodward is a bad mother: Woodward was on the field for his glove. In 1967, he led all National League second basemen in fielding percentage.

Shut your mouth: Woodward hit the only home run of his nine-year career in 1970, a two-run shot off the Braves' Ron Reed. Afterward, teammate Wayne Granger said, "We figured out that if he keeps hitting home runs at this pace, it will only take him 4,198 years to catch Babe Ruth."

No one understands him but his woman: Woodward's only four-hit game came in the same game that pitcher Tony Cloninger hit two grand slams.

(A word about the back): Something happened between 1971 and now because Woodward's .984 fielding percentage in '67 is now listed at .982.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

no. 495 - felipe alou

Who is the man: Felipe Alou batted .271 in 154 games in his first year for the Oakland A's in 1970. But by the time this card was issued, he had already been traded to the Yankees.

Can ya dig it: This photo possibly was taken during the same game as the photo on this card. I don't know for sure as I couldn't match any of the fans in both cards, although the guy in the lower left might be in both photos.

Right on: This is even a more glorious card than the one I just linked. Action pix like this is one of the big reasons '71 Topps is in my top 3 Topps sets of all-time.

You see that cat Alou is a bad mother: Considered to be a pioneer for Dominican players, Alou was the first native of the Dominican Republic to get regular playing time in the majors.

Shut your mouth: The Alou brothers are among the most famous baseball brothers in MLB history, but their actual surname is "Rojas." A mistake after he was signed led Felipe to be called by his mother's surname, "Alou," and he didn't feel that he could correct anyone. Also, "Alou" is pronounced incorrectly. It's actually pronounced with the second syllable sounding like "low."

No one understands him but his woman: Alou's brothers, Matty and Jesus, were each married for a long time. Matty had been married 49 years when he died in 2011. Jesus married in the late 1960s. Meanwhile, Felipe Alou was married four times, but has been married to his fourth, Lucie, since 1985.

(A word about the back): The Alou batters hit consecutively in the batting order during that eighth inning in 1963. Manager Alvin Dark put both Matty and Jesus in as pinch-hitters ahead of Felipe's regular turn in the order.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

no. 494 - braves rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Ralph Garr and Rick Kester spent most of 1970 with Triple A Richmond, and each made a quick visit to the majors for the third straight year.

Can ya dig it: This is the second Braves rookie stars card in the set. The other card featured one notable player and one forgotten player, too.

Right on: As you can tell by the massive dings, this was another hand-me-down '71 that I acquired in a trade as a youngster. I'm curious as to which of those cards had the highest number in the set. We must be getting close.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: Ralph Garr has one of my favorite cards in the entire 1975 Topps set, but he was four years away from that at this point. Rookies ain't bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: During an appearance at his alma mater at Grambling University last year, Garr told a reporter for the school paper that only one player was the best who ever played. "There's no one who ever played the game of baseball better than Henry Aaron," he said. "That's my opinion and I believe that as long as I live."

No one understands him but his woman: Kester had appeared in his last major league game by the time this card was issued. He showed up only on these multi-player rookie cards, three consecutive years, in fact. In each case, someone else on the card went on to a more notable career -- Darrell Evans, Ralph Garr and Tom House.

(A word about the back): Stealing home for your first MLB stolen base -- heck, that IS pretty bad-ass.