Thursday, January 19, 2017

no. 619 - 6th series checklist

Who is the man: This is the final checklist, and I still don't know who the man with the bat is, but he's been waiting an awful long time for that pitch.

Can ya dig it: Welcome to the highest of high numbers. These are the cards that collectors were ignoring because they were bored with baseball and watching football.

Right on: One more time, we're 25 cards away from reaching the first card on this checklist, which was the pattern with this set.

You see this checklist is a bad mother: Well, it features cards that are a bad mother to collect, some of the costliest cards you'll find among high numbers (outside of the '72 set and some brutal '60s sets).

Shut your mouth: As you can see by card No. 650, this was the transition phase for Dick Allen as Topps moved from calling him "Richie" to "Dick". He was referred to as "Rich" for the 1970-72 sets.

No one understands him but his woman: There are players listed on this checklist that I couldn't tell you a thing about -- not even what their card looks like. Thank goodness I'm running this blog.

(A word about the back): There you go, the final cards in the set.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

no. 618 - tug mcgraw

Who is the man: Tug McGraw was coming off the most active season to date in what was then a five-year major league career. He appeared in a then-career high 57 games in 1970, all in relief. He was about to enter two of his most productive seasons for the Mets, in 1971 and 1972.

Can ya dig it: McGraw's signature is "Frank McGraw". Fantastic.

Right on: I grew up with McGraw as a long-haired Phillies pitcher. It took me awhile to discover this particular version of McGraw.

You see that cat McGraw is a bad mother: There aren't many players who can take credit for spurring a team to a championship with a single coined phrase, but that's what McGraw and his "Ya Gotta Believe" saying did for the 1973 Mets according to baseball lore.

Shut your mouth: Early in his career McGraw was asked whether he preferred natural grass or Astroturf, and McGraw responded with "I don't know. I never smoked Astroturf."

No one understands him but his woman: McGraw's famous son, country singer Tim McGraw, was born out of a relationship between Tug and Betty D'Agostino, who McGraw met when he was pitching for Triple A Jacksonville in 1966. He had three other children with wives Phyllis and Diane.

(A word about the back): The bio write-up reads like McGraw just made the major leagues the day before this card was created. Thirty-three words on his high school career. Sheesh.

Friday, January 13, 2017

no. 617 - clay dalrymple

Who is the man: Clay Dalrymple was playing his final major league season when this card was issued. He played in just 13 games in 1970 after he suffered a broken ankle in a home plate collision near the end of June.

Can ya dig it: There is a Yoo-Hoo advertisement in the background. That's a nice spin on the usual Coca-Cola billboard.

Right on: The final card issued during Dalrymple's career.

You see that cat Dalrymple is a bad mother: Dalrymple threw out nearly half of all base stealers (49 percent) during his 12-year career. He led the league in the category in 1961 and 1967.

Shut your mouth: Dalrymple set a major league record for most consecutive errorless games between 1966-67 while with Philadelphia. But Phillies fans booed him so often because of his weak bat that Dalrymple eventually asked for a trade. He was accommodated in 1969 when the Phillies dealt him to the Orioles.

No one understands him but his woman: Dalrymple's first wife died of cancer at age 34 in 1972. She was diagnosed in 1970 the same year Dalrymple's Orioles won the Series.

(A word about the back): The consecutive chances without an error record is now 1,565 by the Cardinals' Mike Matheny between Aug. 2002 and Aug. 2004.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

no. 616 - larry hisle

Who is the man: Larry Hisle was coming off the dreaded sophomore slump when this card was issued. After a strong 1969 season in which he was one of the top rookies in baseball, he hit just .205 in 1970 and was reduced to a platoon role. (It would get worse as he would toil in the minors and change teams three times from 1971 to 1974).

Can ya dig it: For the second straight post, we have a very nice close-up shot of a tried-and-true baseball pose.

Right on: I discovered Hisle when he was battering balls for the Twins in the late '70s. I thought he was a young player just a couple years into the league at the time. I was surprised to learn later that he'd been in baseball since the '60s.

You see that cat Hisle is a bad mother: Hisle led the Brewers to what was then their best season in franchise history in 1978. He hit 34 home runs and finished third in the AL MVP voting, behind only Jim Rice and Ron Guidry, who each enjoyed phenomenal seasons.

Shut your mouth: Hisle was known as one of the nicest and most humble players of his era. He has been part of charitable efforts for children and families throughout his baseball career and afterward.

No one understands him but his woman: Hisle's baseball career was a tribute to his mother, who was a huge baseball fan (he is named after Larry Doby) and died at an early age.

(A word about the back): That head shot is the same photo that appears on the Phillies' team photo issue in 1971.

Monday, January 9, 2017

no. 615 - mel stottlemyre

Who is the man: Mel Stottlemyre became the highest-paid pitcher in Yankee history in 1970 when he signed a $70,000 contract, but he struggled that season with shoulder pain.

Can ya dig it: I've always loved the "pitcher holds up the glove, hides the ball" pose. This is a slight twist on that pose and it makes it that much more grand.

Right on: I can see why Stottlemyre was considered a throwback to the old Yankees class of the 1940s and 1950s.

You see that cat Stottlemyre is a bad mother: Stottlemyre started three games in the 1964 World Series, which was also his rookie year. All three of the starts came while Bob Gibson started for the Cardinals. Stottlemyre even won one of the games, Game 2.

Shut your mouth: An admiring Ken Boyer said about Stottlemyre, "there isn't a pitcher in the National League that has this kind of stuff." In 1964, the NL featured Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal and Boyer's teammate, Gibson.

No one understands him but his woman: Stottlemyre spent his entire career with the Yankees, but he never settled in New York. A native of rural Washington state, he spent each offseason there with his wife, Jean.

(A word about the back): Stottlemyre won his 20 games in 1965, 1968 and 1969. He also lost 20 games in 1966.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

no. 614 - billy cowan

Who is the man: Billy Cowan appeared in 68 games for the Angels in 1970, which was his most playing time since appearing in 101 games in 1965 between the Mets and the Braves.

Can ya dig it: That's a pretty fierce cut by Cowan. That guy standing with the bat off to the left better watch out.

Right on: Cowan's other card with the Angels is much more famous.

You see that cat Cowan is a bad mother: Cowan hit 19 home runs during his rookie season as the Cubs' starting center fielder in 1964. Unfortunately, he also struck out 128 times.

Shut your mouth: Cowan almost got into a fight with legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg. After the Angels played an abysmal game against the Yankees, Enberg, the Angels' play-by-play broadcaster, blasted the team on the air. Angels GM Dick Walsh heard the broadcast and questioned his manager Lefty Phillips, who instituted a bed check and discovered several players skipped curfew. Those players were fined $200. When word got back to Cowan that Enberg's words cost him $200, he confronted the announcer, saying "I ought to take $200 out of your voice." The coaching staff intervened before the discussion got physical.

No one understands him but his woman: Cowan was one of the early "victims" of Morganna "The Kissing Bandit," who would run onto the field and kiss a chosen ballplayer during a game.

(A word about the back): Cowan blistered PCL pitching in 1963 with his 193 hits, 120 RBIs and a .315 batting average. He also struck out 148 times.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

no. 613 - pedro borbon

Who is the man: Pedro Borbon appeared in just 12 games in 1970, his first season with the Reds. He spent most of the year in Triple A Indianapolis.

Can ya dig it: Borbon looks like he means business, and if you know anything about Borbon's career, he meant business.

Right on: Dig the accent mark over the "o" in "Borbon". It's more pronounced than on some of his later cards, where it's just a dot.

You see that cat Borbon is a bad mother: Borbon famously chomped down on a Mets cap during the 1973 NLCS brawl initiated by Pete Rose's slide into Bud Harrelson. He also bit the Pirates' Daryl Patterson in the side during another brawl.

Shut your mouth: Borbon was charged with assault during an incident at a Cincinnati disco in 1979 in which he bit (yes, again) a bouncer. The Reds' GM at the time, Dick Wagner, publicly criticized Borbon's behavior, prompting Borbon to respond in the papers by saying, "Tell Dick Wagner to keep his mouth shut before I break his face." Borbon was traded to the Giants a couple months later.

No one understands him but his woman: Borbon returned to baseball as a replacement player in 1995 at the age of 48. He joined the Reds in spring training and struck out the only batter he faced in an exhibition game, but the Reds released him one game later.

(A word about the back): Look! Borbon is smiling! I made a big deal on another set blog about how Borbon never smiled on his cards and that prompted a comment from one of his daughters. Turns out all I had to do was turn over one of his cards.