Wednesday, May 4, 2016

no. 530 - carl yastrzemski

Who is the man: Carl Yastrzemski was coming off his last great powerful season when this card was issued. He hit at least 40 home runs for the third and final time in his career and led the league in runs, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS and total bases.

Can ya dig it: This is possibly the tightest shot on Yastrzemski of all of his Topps flagship cards. He looks pretty regal with the Yankee Stadium stands as a backdrop.

Right on: Still not over Yastrzemski popping up to third base for the final out of the one-game playoff against the Yankees in 1978.

You see that cat Yastrzemski is a bad mother: For a good portion of my life, Yastrzemski was "the last player to hit for the Triple Crown," which he was for 45 years.

Shut your mouth: Yaz grew up on Long Island and was a top high school player. The Yankees made overtures toward him and in Yastrzemski's autobiography, he says that a Yankee scout once came to the house and exchanged bonus signing numbers with Yaz's dad. The scout was so shocked by Yastzremski's dad's figure of $100,000, he said the Yankees would never pay that and flipped his pencil in the air. Yastrzemski's dad told the scout, "Nobody throws a pencil in my house. Get the hell out and never come back."

No one understands him but his woman: For a year, Yastrzemski held the major league record for most games played with 3,308. Pete Rose broke it the following season.

(A word about the back): As discussed earlier, Yastrzemski missed out on the 1970 batting title by .0003 to the Angels' Alex Johnson.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

no. 529 - rookie stars, national league

Who is the man: Enzo Hernandez, Bill Buckner and Marty Perez all spent the majority of their 1970 baseball year in the minors, but both Buckner and Perez made brief visits to the majors that year.

Can ya dig it: This marks a departure in the presentation of the rookies in the set. Up to this point, they have been categorized by team, two at a time. But this one is much more lenient, selecting three players from random NL teams. Topps started this practice of some rookie stars cards focusing on teams and some on leagues in the mid-1960s and it would continue into the early '70s.

Right on: Hernandez played in the Orioles' organization in 1970 before a trade to the Padres in December 1970, so he's wearing an airbrushed Orioles' cap (or O's minor league cap). Perez was part of the Angels' organization in 1970 before a trade in October 1970, and he's wearing an airbrushed Angels cap.

You see those rookies are bad mothers: Really, no, they're not. Nobody cared about rookie cards in 1971. This isn't even Buckner's rookie card (it's in the 1970 set).

Shut your mouth: Hernandez won the "negative triple crown" in 1971, with the league's worst batting average, home run total and RBI total.

No one understands him but his woman: Buckner's wife is Jody. Perez's wife is Judy. I don't know the name of the wife of Enzo (Hernandez died in 2013), but I hope it at least starts with a "J".

My observation on the back: You can tell by those minor league "life" totals that both Hernandez and Perez had logged plenty of  time in the bushes.

Friday, April 29, 2016

no. 528 - wally bunker

Who is the man: Wally Bunker struggled through arm problems the entire 1970 season and didn't win a game until September. It would be his last full season in the majors.

Can ya dig it: I wonder if he wore that holey shirt in an actual game.

Right on: Final card of his career.

You see that cat Bunker is a bad mother: Bunker was the only rookie pitcher of the 20th century to win as many as 18 games when he went 19-5 for the Orioles as a 19-year-old in 1964, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Shut your mouth: Bunker and his wife, Kathy, wrote a children's book, "I Am Me" that was published in 2015.

No one understands him but his woman: The Royals named Bunker their Opening Day starter in 1970, but only after he cut his long hair.

(A word about the back): Bunker's won-loss record in 1962 is the exact opposite of his won-loss mark in 1970. How nice of Topps to point that out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

no. 527 - cleon jones

Who is the man: Cleon Jones had one heck of a beginning and ending to his 1970 season. He struggled so mightily at the start that he was hitting .167 at the end of May. But he ended the season with a 23-game hitting streak, a record for the Mets at the time.

Can ya dig it: I've said this before, but Jones ages very quickly on his cards. This is the first card in which he appears visibly older than his earlier cards.

Right on: Probably should get a version of this card with a bottom border.

You see that cat Jones is a bad mother: Jones was the Miracle Mets' hitting star, batting a blazing .340 in 1969 and blasting the Braves in the NLCS with a .429 average.

Shut your mouth: Jones' Mets career ended in 1975 after a dugout shouting match with manager Yogi Berra. Jones was unhappy that he was pulled for pinch-hitter Ed Kranepool and refused to go back out on the field, instead storming off to the clubhouse. Berra was so upset over the incident that he told management, it was "him or me." The Mets tried to trade Jones but didn't succeed and he was released. Berra was fired two weeks later.

No one understands him but his woman: Jones was charged earlier in '75 for indecent exposure as police said he was found nude in a vehicle with a 21-year-old woman,  who was also charged with indecent exposure and narcotics possession. In an odd press conference after the charges were dropped, Jones appeared at press conference with his wife, Angela, while Mets chairman M. Donald Grant ripped Jones for soiling the Mets' image of "having clean ballplayers." By the way, I'm finding out for the first time that the 21-year-old unemployed waitress was from Johnson City, N.Y., which is the next town over from where I grew up. That was probably big news in the Binghamton Press at the time. I wouldn't know. I was 9 years old.

(A word about the back): The write-up is in error. Jones hit .429 in the 1969 NLCS. He hit .159 in the World Series, but did catch the final out.

Monday, April 25, 2016

no. 526 - ray jarvis

Who is the man: Ray Jarvis split the 1970 season between the Red Sox and Triple A Louisville. After the season he was traded to the Angels in the big deal that sent Tony Conigliaro to Anaheim.

Can ya dig it: The printing flaw on the card makes it appear as if one of those laser pointers is targeting Jarvis' forehead.

Right on: Jarvis has just two Topps cards. This is his last one.

You see that cat Jarvis is a bad mother: Jarvis threw his first major league pitches to Frank Robinson. Robinson hit one of them for a triple. But Jarvis retired the next three batters to leave Robinson on third.

Shut your mouth: Jarvis never played for the Angels. He was cut from the team in spring training 1971, played in the minors and was finished in the major leagues by 1972, a victim of arm problems.

No one understands him but his woman: Jarvis is one of 61 players who have struck out five times in one game, the record for a 9-inning game. Of those 61, only Jarvis and five others were pitchers.

(A word about the back): The Rhode Island-born Jarvis played ball as a kid on the state house lawn because there was no park where the kids could play.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

no. 525 - ernie banks

Who is the man: Ernie Banks was entering the final season of his Hall of Fame career when this card was issued. He'd play in just 39 games for the Cubs in 1971 and retire after the season.

Can ya dig it: I used to have a higher conditioned '71 Banks but traded it away to a Cubs fan. I found this one pretty quickly afterward at a card show, so it's all good.

Right on: This is the final Topps card of Banks issued during his career.

You see that cat Banks is a bad mother: Banks was known as the most powerful shortstop in baseball history during his career. He still holds the record for career home runs by a National League shortstop with 512 (although not all of them were hit while he was playing short).

Shut your mouth: Banks and Leo Durocher did not get along when Durocher was named manager of the Cubs in 1966. Durocher felt he was forced to play an aging Banks, while others said Durocher was simply jealous of Banks' popularity in Chicago. Banks once said, "Leo thought he should be Mr. Cub."

No one understands him but his woman: After his retirement, Banks worked at several places. He tried to get involved in banking and even started at the ground floor, working as a teller. But he said fellow employees treated him like a ballplayer and not a co-worker. He even addressed the problem with the bank's social psychologist.

(A word about the back): Banks is now 22nd on the all-time HR list and has been joined by Joe Morgan, Dale Murphy, Mike Schmidt, Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols as NL'ers to win back-to-back MVPs. But he still holds the season record for home runs by a shortstop!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

no. 524 - mickey stanley

Who is the man: Mickey Stanley was coming off a fine season with the Tigers when this card was issued. He led Detroit in hits, runs, triples, stolen bases (a whopping 10) and won his third straight Gold Glove in center field.

Can ya dig it: You're getting a fine look at that windbreaker Stanley is wearing under his uniform.

Right on: I like the bare-bones scoreboard in the background.

You see that cat Stanley is a bad mother: Stanley helped the Tigers win the World Series in 1968 when he was moved from the outfield to play shortstop, a position he had never played in the majors. After the Tigers clinched the pennant, Stanley was moved to short by manager Mayo Smith, who was seeking another bat in the lineup for the postseason. With Stanley replacing weak-hitting Ray Oyler at short, that allowed Al Kaline, Willie Horton and Jim Northrup to play the outfield. Stanley, who regularly took infield practice before games, made just two errors during the Series and neither had an impact.

Shut your mouth: Stanley played 15 years for the Tigers and was still with the club in 1977 when the Tigers were bringing up future '80s superstars. Catcher Lance Parrish once said to him, "Hi, Mr. Stanley. I was in eighth grade when you were in the World Series."

No one understands him but his woman: Despite the fame Stanley received for playing shortstop in the Series he said he didn't enjoy it because he was "just waiting to screw up."

(A word about the back): That photo appears to be fairly old. Stanley looks quite a bit younger here than he does on the front.