Thursday, October 30, 2014

no. 344 - ellie rodriguez

Who is the man: Ellie Rodriguez completed his second season as a part-timer catcher for the 1970 Royals, splitting time with Ed Kirkpatrick and hitting a paltry .225

Can ya dig it: A batting cage, from photo corner to photo corner! That's glorious.

Right on: I'm curious as to what that man in the background is doing. Conducting a sliding drill?

You see this cat Rodriguez is a bad mother: Rodriguez was the Royals' first All-Star representative, being chosen for the 1969 game in Washington. He didn't play.

Shut your mouth: Rodriguez had already been traded to the Brewers by the time most kids were pulling this card out of packs.

No one understands him but his woman: Rodriguez once held the American League record for putouts by a catcher in a game with 19. But that was surpassed by Rich Gedman in 1986 when he caught Roger Clemens' 20 strikeouts in a game against the Mariners.

(A word about the back): Other MLB players from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, include White Sox/Mariners slugger Ivan Calderon, 1960s infielder Julio Gotay and Royals/Phillies '90s reliever Jose Santiago.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

no. 343 - pirates rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Ed Acosta and Milt May spent the vast majority of their 1970 season in the minor leagues. Acosta pitched in Double A and Triple A, while May was a slugger (21 home runs) for Triple A Columbus. May played in five games for the Pirates in '70, while Acosta pitched in three games.

Can ya dig it: I'll call this card "mesmerized in the clouds".

Right on: This is the second Pirates Rookie Stars card of the set. This was the first. The Pirates are the first team to have two Rookie Stars cards, but that doesn't mean we've cycled through all the teams. The Orioles, for example, have not had their rookies featured yet.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: If the first Pirates rookie stars weren't bad-asses, then these two certainly aren't.

Shut your mouth: Ed Acosta had exactly one hit in his major league career. He legged out a bunt against the Giants' Ron Bryant on Sept. 6, 1972.

No one understands him but his woman: Milt May was credited with driving in the one millionth run in major league baseball history. That was later determined not to be true through updated record-keeping techniques. But nobody apparently knows who really drove in the millionth run.

(A word about the back): It's too bad I wasn't collecting cards in 1971 as a youngster, because I'm sure someone named "Pinky" would have thrown me into hysterics. May's father's given name was Merrill.

Friday, October 24, 2014

no. 342 - frank tepedino

Who is the man: Frank Tepedino played in 16 games for the Yankees in 1970. He had 31 more for Triple A Syracuse, but that was it. Either he sat the bench quite a bit or he was injured.

Can ya dig it: People have tried to identify the two guys at the batting cage before. The best guess there was that the taller fellow is #51 and was a minor league pitcher named Doug Hansen.

Right on: I see a tractor!

You see this cat Tepedino is a bad mother: Tepedino became a New York City firefighter after his baseball career. When he heard about the World Trade Center terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, he and a couple other fightfighters drove from Long Island in an attempt to help out. By the time they got there, both towers had collapsed and all that remained was momentous clean-up.

Shut your mouth: Tepedino was a back-up for Hank Aaron with the Braves in 1973 and 1974. The Braves' bench then was called "F-Troop," and Tepedino said the "F" stood for "faithful and fearless".

No one understands him but his woman: Tepedino battled alcohol during his career and afterward before finally taking his last drink in 1994. His wife praised him in this article for how he turned his life around.

(A word about the back): Abbreviating "league" to "Lea." drives me nuts every time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

no. 341 - steve garvey

Who is the man: Steve Garvey played in 34 games for the Dodgers in 1970. He spent most of the year at Triple A Spokane, tearing up the Pacific Coast League.

Can ya dig it: Check out the black batting glove he's wearing on his glove hand. Also, "third base" does not compute.

Right on: Rookie card! Probably the biggest one in the set.

You see this cat Garvey is a bad mother: Garvey has done a lot of bad things, if you know what I mean, but I still think it's very cool that he won the start in the 1974 All-Star Game strictly on write-in votes. And then won MVP honors in the game.

Shut your mouth: Don Sutton's quote to writer Thomas Boswell: "Reggie Smith is the leader of this team, not Steve Garvey" led to a famous locker room dust-up between Sutton and Garvey and absolutely horrified a 12-year-old night owl.

No one understands him but his woman: Garvey's famous ex-wife, Cyndy Garvey, claimed in her book "The Secret Life of Cyndy Garvey" that she didn't know about her husband's affairs until stumbling across a calendar kept by Steve's secretary. Later, during interviews to promote the book she said, "If Ted Bundy is a 10, Steve's a 7."

(A word about the back): I didn't see this card until the late '70s when Garvey was a well-established all-star. Seeing teeny tiny stats and a .269 batting average made me think I was looking at a completely different ballplayer. It didn't help that this card lists him as a third baseman.

Monday, October 20, 2014

no. 340 - rico petrocelli

Who is the man: Rico Petrocelli was at the height of his productivity as a major leaguer in 1970. He drove in over 100 runs that year, the most by a Red Sox player since 1950. And after slamming 40 homers in 1969, he hit 29 more in '70.

Can ya dig it: A batting cage in Fenway Park? Well that's just too much of a good thing.

Right on: This is the last time that Petrocelli is listed as a shortstop on his card. He was moved to third base for the 1971 season to accommodate the acquisition of Luis Aparicio.

You see this cat Petrocelli is a bad mother: Petrocelli hit 25 home runs before the All-Star break in 1969 on his way to setting the Red Sox record for most home runs by a shortstop.

Shut your mouth: Petrocelli went through a number of injuries in his career, including a constant elbow problem. He suffered from calcium deposits and at one point gave up milk and ice cream to cure himself of the issue.

No one understands him but his woman: It shocks me that Petrocelli was out of baseball by age 33. He was leaving just as I became acquainted with those who played the game. I thought Petrocelli looked awfully old on his '76 and '77 Topps cards and couldn't wait for the youthful Butch Hobson to take over for him at third. Little did I know that Petrocelli was still a youngster at that point.

(A word about the back): The fewest errors by an AL shortstop in a season is now a miniscule three by Cal Ripken and Omar Vizquel.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

no. 339 - wayne simpson

Who is the man: Wayne Simpson was indeed the man in 1970 until the end of July. He won 13 of his first 14 decisions until tearing his rotator cuff on July 31, 1970 in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cubs.

Can ya dig it: Simpson has already appeared in this set on the National League ERA Leaders card.

Right on:  First solo card! He first appeared in the 1970 Topps set on a Reds three-player rookie card with Hal McRae.

You see this cat Simpson is a bad mother: Simpson pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout in his major league debut on April 9, 1970 against the Dodgers. He outpitched Don Sutton, who gave up just three runs in 8-plus innings.

Shut your mouth: Because of Simpson's terrific start, his strong arm and the fact he was black, he was often compared to Bob Gibson.

No one understands him but his woman: Simpson endured arm problems for the rest of his career and was often told by the Reds that his ailments were all in his mind. He played for several other teams and later suffered blood clots in his arm, coming dangerously close to losing a limb.

(A word about the back): According to Simpson's SABR bio, the pass he completed was actually 88 yards and it was indeed all in the air, from his hands to the hands of receiver Mickey Cureton, who would play for UCLA. Considering that the average NFL quarterback is supposed to be able to throw, on average, up to 60-to-70 yards in the air, that's impressive. Which probably explains why this is the first time I remember seeing an exclamation point in any of these '71 bios.

Monday, October 13, 2014

no. 338 - gene tenace

Who is the man: Gene Tenace played in 38 games for the A's in 1970, spending most of the season with the Triple A Iowa Oaks.

Can ya dig it: That No. 38 on his jersey looks ginormous.

Right on: First solo card! He appears with Vida Blue on a Rookie Stars card in the 1970 Topps set.

You see this cat Tenace is a bad mother: Tenace was the 1972 World Series MVP, helping Oakland to its first world championship. He was the first player to hit home runs in each of his first two World Series at-bats.

Shut your mouth: Tenace's name appears in the movie "Anchorman," as sportscaster Champ Kind describes his catch phrase: "Gene Tenace at the plate and whammy!"

No one understands him but his woman: Tenace was threatened by a man with a gun at the 1972 World Series. After Tenace hit his first home run, a man behind home plate started telling fans around him that if Tenace hit another one, the man would shoot Tenace. A woman alerted the police, who found a loaded revolver on the man. For the rest of the Series, FBI agents followed Tenace wherever he went and his family couldn't see him. Ten years later, at the 1982 World Series, Tenace received a letter from the same man apologizing for what he had done.

 (A word about the back): That .305 average in 1970 would be the only time Tenance hit above .300 in a season during his 15-year career.