Thursday, March 6, 2014
Who is the man: Gail Hopkins was new to the Royals in 1971. He was dealt from the White Sox on Oct. 3, 1970. Good thing Topps snapped that cap-less shot of Gail during the photo session.
Can ya dig it: I can't help but notice there is plenty of sky above Hopkins' head, obviously to avoid showing the lettering across his uniform.
Right on: I'm not sure how many cap-less cards there are in the 1971 set. It seems like there are quite a few. I should start counting them.
You see this cat Hopkins is a bad mother: Hopkins played in Japan after his major league career ended in 1974. He set a club mark for the Hiroshima Carp with 33 home runs in 1976.
Shut your mouth: Hopkins found out he was called up the major leagues for the first time when he was in a movie theater. The manager came in and tapped Hopkins on the shoulder. Hopkins thought something had happened to his family. But the manager said, "You've been called up to Chicago."
No one understands him but his woman: After his baseball career ended, Hopkins pursued a medical career, going through medical school together with his wife, Carol. He became a successful orthopedic surgeon and both his son and daughter are doctors.
(A word about the back): I wonder if kids collecting back in '71 were suspicious of the K.C. on the cap knowing that he was new to the Royals. (I know as a kid collecting in 1975, I had no idea).
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Who is the man: The Philadelphia Phillies were the second worst team in the NL East entering the 1971 season. Only the second-year Expos kept them out of the basement in 1970.
Can ya dig it: This is the first team card since way back when I displayed the first card in the set. I had no idea that all the team cards arrived much later in the set.
Right on: I'm not sure what that light green area is -- perhaps a mat to make the guys sitting on the ground a little more comfortable?
You see this cat Lucchesi is a bad mother: I believe manager Frank Lucchesi is dead center in the middle row, wearing No. 1.
Shut your mouth: I can't name a lot of players in this picture as the 1970 Phillies are sort of anonymous and their numbers aren't very visible. I do know a young Larry Bowa is the sitting on the ground third from the left. Next to him is Tony Taylor. In the back row, fourth from the right is Rick Wise. Next to him is Woodie Fryman. That's about all I've got.
No one understands him but his woman: I'm going to guess that the man in the splendid red jacket is either general manager Jim Quinn or owner Robert Carpenter Jr.
(A word about the back): It's interesting to me that the color background behind the stats here is a light green but with the Orioles team card it was white.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Who is the man: Rich Morales had finished his second full season with the White Sox in 1970, playing wherever they needed him (he played short, third and second) and hitting a paltry .161.
Can ya dig it: Morales was definitely a glove man during his eight-year major league career, yet this is the only one of his five Topps cards in which he is shown fielding.
Right on: Those blue White Sox caps really tell you this was from a long time ago.
You see this cat Morales is a bad mother: Morales has one of the worst career batting averages for a non-pitcher with at least 1,000 at-bats in major league history. He hit a career .195, which ranks in the bottom 10. Sure, maybe you don't consider that bad-ass, but think of all the people who have played ball who would have been out on their asses long before 1,000 at-bats if they hit that poorly.
Shut your mouth: Morales' son, also named Rich, played briefly in the minors and is a scout for the Orioles. He was interviewed in the book "Minor Players, Major Dreams" about having a father who was a major league player. "One kid came up to me in the third grade and said, 'are you Rich Morales?'" he said. "I said 'yeah.' He goes, 'your dad's Rich Morales?' And I said, 'yeah, he is.' And he goes, 'can I be your best friend?'"
No one understands him but his woman: Morales is a fairly common name in the majors with players like Kendrys Morales, Franklin Morales, Jerry Morales and Jose Morales. But Rich Morales was the first Morales to make the majors, in 1967.
(A word about the back): "Chisox." I don't see that used much anymore.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Who is the man: Bill Stoneman had completed his second season for the second-year Montreal Expos. He won just seven games in 1970, but he'd win 17 games in '71.
Can ya dig it: I don't know what that green structure is in the background, but it appears on a lot of early '70s Expos cards.
Right on: Stoneman has a look on his face like he just airmailed that pitch.
You see this cat Stoneman is a bad mother: Stoneman pitched a pair of major league no-hitters. His first came in the ninth game the Expos ever played and his second was the first MLB no-hitter pitched in Canada.
Shut your mouth: Stoneman didn't use an agent to negotiate his contract for the 1974 season, which would be his last in the majors: "You don't need a lawyer to tell the club you had a lousy year," he said.
No one understands him but his woman: Stoneman built the Angels into a World Series champion as general manager for the team for eight seasons. But he stepped down in 2007, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife. "She didn't know when she married me that I would have a mistress," he said. "Right now, I'm leaving my mistress."
(A word about the back): I don't think that's a mustache on Stoneman, but it sure looks like one.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Who is the man: Jim Northrup produced the third of his three best seasons in 1970. Between 1968-70, he was a potent force in the Tigers' lineup, good for 20-plus home runs. His play began to decline after 1970.
Can ya dig it: I'm sure that bat is larger than it appears, but it looks like he could hit the ball no more than 20 feet with that thing.
Right on: Crooked field! There were a lot of those when I was chronicling the 1975 set. I don't recall quite as many in this set, or maybe I'm just not paying attention.
You see this cat Northrup is a bad mother: I can't think of anything more bad-ass than getting a game-deciding triple in Game 7 of the World Series off of the pitcher (Bob Gibson) who had mowed down your team in two straight games. And that's what Northrup did in 1968.
Shut your mouth: Northrup did not get along with Tigers manager Billy Martin. "It was all 'I, I, I' and "me, me, me," Northrup said about Martin. "I did not respect him in any way. But I had to play. So I ignored what he said and played ball."
No one understands him but his woman: Northrup was an intelligent guy even though it took him 40 years to graduate from high school because he signed with the Tigers. He considered going to medical school before choosing a baseball career.
(A word about the back): Wow, reading that second sentence makes me want to have been around to see him in 1968.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Who is the man: Joe Morgan managed one of his better seasons with the Astros in 1970, setting what was then career highs for runs, doubles and runs batted in. He was voted an All-Star for the second time in his career.
Can ya dig it: This is a very different card, especially by card standards of the day. There are three people in this photo and you can't see the faces of any of them.
Right on: First card of Series 3. You will see 41 more action cards in the set (excluding the World Series subset), all of them in Series 3 and 4.
You see this cat Morgan is a bad mother: The first player I ever knew to win back-to-back MVP awards. That left an impression.
Shut your mouth: I think I screamed this at the TV for Morgan more than any other national broadcaster.
No one understands him but his woman: The fact that Morgan is anti-"Moneyball," yet was one of the most "Moneyball" players of all-time is the most fascinating "generations clashing" baseball story of the present day. Writer Joe Posnanski's contention that Morgan's disagreement with Bill James-style baseball analysis is rooted in "us versus them" "they didn't play baseball" beliefs is spot-on and sad.
(A word about the back): Look at all that talk about walks. The man knew how to get on base.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Who is the man: John Ellis played in 78 games in 1970 and received Topps All-Star rookie team honors at first base ... even though he's shown posing as a catcher.
Can ya dig it: First solo card! It's also the seventh rookie trophy we've come across. And that is some kind of signature.
Right on: This is the final card of the second series in the set. Get ready for a lot of action cards, because Series 3 is filled with them.
You see this cat Ellis is a bad mother: Ellis was named the top rookie in spring training for the Yankees in 1970. That was pretty good because the Yankees also had a rookie catcher named Thurman Munson in camp that year.
Shut your mouth: Ellis once mentioned in an interview that the pitcher that he had the greatest connection with on the field was Gaylord Perry. That's interesting, considering Perry's spitball reputation.
No one understands him but his woman: Indians manager Frank Robinson once called out Ellis in the press, saying that if Ellis didn't play the way Robinson wanted, he wouldn't catch for him. In the offseason, Ellis was traded to the Rangers.
(A word about the back): That writeup for Ellis has "Thurman Munson is our starting catcher, where do we put this guy?" written all over it. I also think Topps put the "catcher" designation on Ellis' card because of the photo. Ellis caught only two games in 1970.