Thursday, June 28, 2012

no. 68 - 1970 national league era leaders

Who is the man: Tom Seaver is the man for winning the first of his three ERA crowns. This one was kid's stuff compared with the 1.76 and 2.08 he'd lay on hitters in 1971 and 1973.

Can ya dig it: All three pitchers are giving the pitcher the stare down. Luke Walker is going for the squint-eyed look. But it's still bad-ass.

Right on: Still loving the ERA leaders cards. Wayne Simpson and Walker? Crazy.

You see these cats are bad mothers: I can tell. But I'll go in more detail when their individual cards pop up.

Shut your mouth: Tom Seaver was a broadcaster for the Yankees in the late '80s and early '90s. His partner for most of those games was Phil Rizzuto. Seaver and Rizzuto got along well enough, with Rizzuto calling Seaver by his last name, as he often did with Bill White. But I got the feeling sometimes that Seaver wanted to focus more on the game and less on cannolis.

No one understands him but his woman: Simpson enjoyed a phenomenal start to his 1970 season, winning 13 of his first 14 decisions and being named to the All-Star team. But he tore his rotator cuff in July and it ruined his career. Simpson gutted through the injury, but all he received for it were accusations that his arm problems were more mental than physical. That caused Simpson to lash out at the Reds after they traded him to the Royals after the season.

(A word about the back): 1970 was a rarity during the period, with Seaver the only N.L. pitcher (with enough innings) with an ERA under 3. Just the year before, 13 N.L. pitchers had ERAs under 3, including 12 that were better than Seaver's league-leading 2.81 in 1970. In 1971, there were 16 N.L. pitchers with ERAs under 3.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

no. 67 - 1970 american league era leaders

Who is the man: Diego Segui is the man, who ended up as the earned-run average leader by starting and relieving for the Oakland A's in 1970.

Can ya dig it: ERA leaders cards are my favorite leaders cards because you're guaranteed of seeing players who you don't expect to be on leaders cards. Segui? Wright? Who let those guys in? I love it.

Right on: Two of the three players on this card had sons who played in the major leagues. What's your excuse, Jim?

You see these cats are bad mothers: Oh, they are. But we'll talk about that later.

Shut your mouth: Segui was known for taking his sweet time on the mound between pitches. He'd stare in the outfield, rearrange the dirt on the mound, blow on his hands. During the 1975 World Series, broadcaster Joe Garagiola said that Segui's rituals on the mound were "like spreading ether over the ballpark." An enraged Segui confronted Garagiola about the remark before Game 5 and demanded an apology.

No one understands him but his woman: Wright fell into a drinking problem after his major league career. It got so bad that his wife threatened to leave him if he didn't stop. One day he went golfing and then drinking. When he came home, his wife was gone. His wife came back, with their son, Jaret, the future major leaguer, who was 3 at the time. Wright tried to get in the car. His son pressed the lock down, locking him out. Wright stopped drinking.

(A word about the back): Interesting. I never realized this. Topps featured a separate listing for pitchers with less than 162 innings.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

no. 66 - 1970 national league home run leaders

Who is the man: Johnny Bench is once again the man. He hit 45 home runs in 1970. He hit 38 of those as a catcher, which at the time was second only to Roy Campanella's 40 hit in 1953.

Can ya dig it: Is that the same structure in the background in both Bench's and Perez's photos? If so, what is it?

Right on: You may be thinking I featured this card already. But actually, it's a different one. It's just that all three players were also featured on the National League RBI leaders card two posts ago. Only this time, Williams and Perez are swapped.

You see these cats are bad mothers: Saving it for later.

Shut your mouth: Sparky Anderson often credited Tony Perez for being the key player in the success of the Big Red Machine. When Perez was traded to the Expos after the 1976 season, many pointed to the trade as the reason why the Reds weren't the same after '76. All of this must've made Dan Driessen feel terrific. Driessen took over at first base for Perez and was Cincinnati's first baseman for the next seven-plus years.

No on understands him but his woman: Bench has been married four times. Most recently in 2006. Maybe this one understands him.

(A word about the back): I know Roberto Clemente wasn't really a home run hitter, but seeing him with just one more home run than Lou Brock and one less home run than John Bateman is a little odd.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

no. 65 - 1970 american league home run leaders

Who is the man: Frank Howard is the man again! Gracious, he strikes a frightful pose.

Can ya dig it: The Carl Yastrzemski photo is the same photo that was used on his 1968 Topps card, and then again on his 1969 Topps card. So, three out of four years, you were staring at the same photo of Yaz.

Right on: It is so cool having a card featuring the Capital Punisher, Killer and Yaz.

You see these cats are bad mothers: We'll explore that in future posts.

Shut your mouth: Harmon Killebrew, notoriously quiet and gentle, was once asked if he had any hobbies. "Just washing the dishes, I guess," he said.

No one understands him but his woman: Howard was particularly upset by Washington's move to Texas in 1972. He liked the area and was popular with the few fans the Senators had. "I'm sure Dallas deserves a team," he said. "But I'm sorry it had to be ours."

(A word about the back): Terry Tommy Harper's 31 home runs in 1970 were 13 more than he would hit in any other season if his 15 year career. Check him for steroids!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

no. 64 - 1970 national league rbi leaders

Who is the man: Johnny Bench is the man. His 148 RBIs in 1970 were the most for a player since Tommy Davis had 153 for the Dodgers in 1962.

Can ya dig it: I know the RBI is not the most respected stat among baseball number-crunchers these days, but when the top two RBI producers are each on the same team, that team is really racking up some runs. They didn't call them the Big Red Machine for nothing.

Right on: The Perez photo is a repeat of Perez's 1970 Topps card.

You see these cats are bad mothers: Later. We'll get to the bad mother business with these guys later.

Shut your mouth: I think Johnny Bench has done more commercials than any single living baseball player. He definitely was on more commercials than any baseball player when I was watching as a kid.

No one understand him but his woman: What could be considered Johnny Bench's two "co-stars" on the '80s kid show "The Baseball Bunch" were Tommy Lasorda and The Chicken. I bet the lunch breaks were interesting.

(A word about the back): Once again, please note Wes Parker's 111 RBI season in 1970. Also, it's nice to have a Coco Laboy sighting, even if he hit 30 fewer RBIs than he did in 1969.

Friday, June 15, 2012

no. 63 - 1970 american league rbi leaders

Who is the man: Frank Howard is the man! Howard had just completed the third in an absolute scorching trifecta of slugging seasons. Howard was one of the most feared sluggers from 1968-70, playing for a terrible Senators team.

Can ya dig it: Howard looks like he's a second away from spitting.

Right on: Tony Conigliaro is shown with the Red Sox on this card, but with the Angels on his base card.

You these cats are bad mothers: I have no doubt, but we'll wait until their individual cards appear.

Shut your mouth: Boog Powell was the Most Valuable Player in 1970 but gets third-billing on this card. Doesn't seem right.

No one understands him but his woman: Howard hit the last home run for the Senators at RFK Stadium on Sept. 30, 1971. After acknowledging the cheers from the fans, he said after the game, "This is utopia for me."

(A word about the back): There are a couple of players on this list that are completely new to me. Brant Alyea of the Twins and Tony Horton of the Indians. I still need to brush up on players from the '60s.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

no. 62 - 1970 national league batting leaders

Who is the man: Rico Carty is the man. He beat the second-place finisher in the batting race by more than 40 points! Highest batting average in major league baseball in 13 years, too.

Can ya dig it: I'm going to say Manny Sanguillen is signing an autograph. He's doing writing of some sort on his individual card in the 1971 set, so I'm thinking this picture is from the same photo shoot.

Right on: I'm almost certain the player behind Joe Torre is Mike Torrez. He wore the number 48 for the 1970 Cardinals and that sure looks like his last name on the back of the jersey.

You see these cats are bad mothers: You'll have to find out why they're bad mothers when their individual cards pop up here.

Shut your mouth: Carty was acquired by the Cubs in August of 1973, but didn't get along with all-star third baseman Ron Santo. The Cubs promptly dealt Carty to the A's a month later. Carty complained that Santo was a selfish player and that the Cubs would never win another title as long as Santo was on the team.

No one understands him but his woman: Carty was left off the All-Star ballot in 1970, even though he hit .342 in 1969. But fans wrote him in as a starting outfielder. I guess they understood.

(A word about the back): I get a kick out of seeing Wes Parker so high on the batting average leaders.

Monday, June 11, 2012

no. 61 - 1970 american league batting leaders

Who is the man: Alex Johnson is the man. He beat out Carl Yastrzemski for the 1970 American League batting title by .0003 of a point, one of the closest batting races in history.

Can ya dig it: I can dig these leaders subsets because you often get three stars on one card, but I can tell they're going to make for difficult posts to write.

Right on: These are among the greatest-looking leaders cards ever produced by Topps.

You see these cats are bad mothers: For fear of losing material when these players' individual cards come up, I am going to skip this category.

Shut your mouth: Alex Johnson robbed Carl Yastrzemski of a home run during the 1970 season, a home run that would have put Yaz over Johnson for the batting title. Johnson later admitted that a fan in the stands put the ball in his glove.

No on understand him but his woman: The year following Johnson's batting title, the Angels benched him, citing attitude issues. He was later indefinitely suspended. Although reinstated, he wouldn't play for the Angels again and never recovered the form he displayed in 1970.

(A word about the back): I love the in-depth listing of the leaders. Don Mincher, at .246, is a batting leader!!! Topps really needs to bring back the long lists on the backs of cards. Collectors love that stuff. ... Well, at least old collectors like me do.

Friday, June 8, 2012

no. 60 - dick bosman

Who is the man: Dick Bosman was the ace of the Washington Senators staff and had just come off the two most prolific seasons of his career thus far. He was a 16-game winner in 1970, on a starting staff in which no one else won more than eight games.

Can ya dig it: I always wonder about guys who dot the I in their name with stars, but it does look pretty cool.

Right on: Dig the book-end palm trees.

You see this cat Bosman is a bad mother: Bosman rebuilds old cars into hot rods down in Florida. About 10 years ago, his daily ride was a restored, fire-red 1936 Chevy two-door sedan with a 330-horsepower Corvette engine, cruise control, power windows and air-conditioning. Bitchin'

Shut your mouth: Bosman reportedly would tell his teammates, "if you don't hustle when I'm pitching, I'll kick your ass."

No one understands him but his woman: Bosman is known as the only pitcher in which his own error cost him a perfect game. It happened on July 19, 1974 against the A's. A throwing error in the fourth inning prevented the perfect game, but he still got the no-hitter.

(A word about the back): Getting your final 8 wins against 8 different clubs is so impressive I had to look up how that actually happened:

Aug. 1: Beat the Angels
Aug. 11: Beat the Royals
Aug. 20: Beat the White Sox
Aug. 25: Beat the Twins
Aug. 30: Beat the A's
Sept. 10: Beat the Yankees
Sept. 25: Beat the Tigers
Sept. 30: Beat the Red Sox


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

no. 59 - gene mauch

Who is the man: Gene Mauch was about to enter his third season of managing the expansion Montreal Expos when this card arrived. His 1970 season, in which the Expos won 73 games after winning only 52 in 1969, was considered something of a success.

Can ya dig it: Anyone know who is sitting in the background? He's slouching.

Right on: Some manager cards are absolutely terrific. This is one of them. Just a wonderful shot. I do wish I knew if Mauch has a bat in his right hand.

You see this cat Mauch is a bad mother: Mauch's hot temper was well-known. In a famous story, he threw spare ribs all over the clubhouse after a Phillies loss in 1963 because he thought players were taking things too lightly.

Shut your mouth: Gene Mauch didn't want to hear it when people praised him. "If you're in (baseball) for 40 years, you ought to learn something," he said.

No one understands him but his woman: Mauch is most famous for coming close to the World Series as a manager but never reaching it. He never won a pennant despite winning more than 1,900 games. He also managed teams that lost, respectively, 23 and 20 straight games. There's a lot there that no one else ever experienced. Fortunately.

(A word about the back): The Expos did not top the .500 mark in 1971. In fact, they didn't top the .500 mark until 1979, when they won 95 games.

Monday, June 4, 2012

no. 58 - bill lee

Who is the man: Bill Lee was about to begin the third season of his 14-year major league career in 1971. It would be his first full season in the majors.

Can ya dig it: That doesn't look like the Lee we all know, does it? He would look like that until the mid-70s (his 1973 Topps card is where he starts to exhibit longer hair).

Right on: William Frances Lee sure has a long neck.

You see this cat Lee is a bad mother: I think Lee is great. Not necessarily for his counterculture lifestyle or his verbose criticisms, but because he is passionately in love with baseball. Two years ago, he played a pro game as a 63-year-old and won. He still plays ball, and once said: "The only way to save the world is through baseball. Had there been a franchise in Iraq, most of the problems with Saddam could have been avoided." OK, that's bizarre, but I love it, and it's bad ass.

Shut your mouth: When Lee was drafted by the Red Sox, his father told him, "Now if you can pitch like we both know you can and keep your mouth shut, you'll end up being with them for a long time." Of course, Lee couldn't keep his mouth shut. But he did last with the Red Sox for 10 years.

No one understand him but his woman: Lee says he quotes Latin all the time. He just lost me.

My observation on the back: Lee served in the military as a reservist. Surprisingly, he made it out of the Army without incident.

Friday, June 1, 2012

no. 57 - von joshua

Who is the man: Von Joshua played in 72 games for the Dodgers in 1970, but totaled just 109 at-bats. He was used often as an outfield replacement. It would be the beginning of a pattern with the Dodgers for Joshua. L.A. would use him often as defensive replacement or pinch-hitter.

Can ya dig it: Joshua appears to have an attentive audience for his half-hearted attempt at replicating a bunting pose.

Right on: Rookie card!

You see this cat Joshua is a bad mother: Joshua is one of the most cited examples of what happens when a role player finally gets a chance to play full-time. After getting no more than 159 at-bats during any of the first five years in his career, the Giants picked Joshua up on waivers and gave him the starting center field job. Joshua proceeded to hit .318 in 507 at-bats, good for seventh in the National League.

Shut your mouth: Joshua was a first-round draft pick of the Giants, but the team couldn't sign him. He signed with the Dodgers the following year. Even though his best season came with the Giants in '75, he's often said his two stints with the Dodgers (1969-74 and 1979) were the best times of his career.

No one understands him but his woman: Joshua has worked as a hitting coach in the majors and the minors for a long time. He worked for the White Sox during the 1990s, getting called up to the big league club in 1998. But he lost his job in 2001 during a team hitting slump. Joshua said he was hurt by the decision. "How can you go from being the best thing since sliced bread and two or three months later, you're stupid?" he said.

(A word about the back): The color used for the backs of the 1971 cards is very of its era. I'm not crazy about the color. But I do think that the current Archives set should have matched the color of its backs exactly with the cards that supposedly pay tribute to the '71 set.

Close, but that's not it. ... Maybe if Topps used actual cardboard.