Wednesday, March 27, 2013

no. 159 - jarvis tatum

Who is the man: Jarvis Tatum had spent 1970 with the California Angels, playing in 75 games and batting .238. He was traded to the Red Sox in the deal that sent Tony Conigliaro to the Angels in October of 1970.

Can ya dig it: It's been awhile since we've seen an airbrushed cap in this set. Topps weirdly airbrushed the Angels logo off Tatum's cap, but left the brim red. The Red Sox did not wear red brims at that time, so nobody was being fooled with this photo.

Right on: This is Tatum's first and only solo card. And he's airbrushed.

You see this cat Tatum is a bad mother: The Congliaro trade that Tatum was involved in wasn't just notable because of Congliaro being dealt by the Red Sox, but also because of the name similarities in the deal. Joining Jarvis Tatum in going from the Angels to the Red Sox was another Tatum, pitcher Ken. And heading in the other direction from the Red Sox to the Angels was another pitcher, Ray Jarvis. There were Jarvises and Tatums flying everywhere. That's kind of bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Tatum never played a game in the Red Sox organization. He was released by Red Sox on April 4, 1971 and spent 1971 playing in Japan.

No one understands him but his woman: Tatum's last major league game was on Oct. 1, 1970. And his first solo card was issued a few months later, with him listed with a team for which he never played. That is almost tragic.

(A word about the back): You're looking at Tatum's career numbers on the back of this card. It's not often you can say that.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

no. 158 - jerry reuss

Who is the man: Jerry Reuss had just finished off his first full season in the major leagues when this card arrived. He threw 127-plus innings in 20 games with a pair of shutouts.

Can ya dig it: Security seems to be out in force behind Mr. Reuss.

Right on: This is Reuss' first solo card. He's on a two-person rookie card with Leron Lee in the 1970 Topps set.

You see this cat Reuss is a bad mother: Any former player who comments on my blog is a bad mother of the baddest degree. And, no, I will never stop mentioning that.

Shut your mouth: The Dodgers, the team for which Reuss is probably most closely identified, have released him twice, once as a player and later as a broadcaster.

No one understands him but his woman: Manager Leo Durocher, in his autobiography "Nice Guys Finish Last," called Reuss "the asshole of all-time in my opinion" because of their clashes while with the Astros. The two later reconciled when Reuss pitched for the Dodgers.

(A word about the back): It amuses me that the write-up appears to be grasping for things to say about someone who would spend 22 seasons in the major leagues.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

no. 157 - bob bailey

Who is the man: As the position designator says, Bob Bailey was a man without a position in 1970. Aside from third and the outfield (mostly left), Bailey also played 18 games at first base in 1970. But he was beginning to re-establish himself as the hitter he was with the Pirates in the mid-1960s.

Can ya dig it: Bailey looks terribly uncertain amid the palm trees. Perhaps it's the hit the card took on the right edge. Too close to his temple.

Right on: Although the Nationals' color scheme doesn't bother me, I kind of wish they went with the Expos' baby blue instead of dark blue. The color just makes a team more lovable in my view.

You see this cat Bailey is a bad mother: Bailey received the largest bonus ever paid to a player at the time of his signing with the Pirates in 1961. He was expected to be a superstar.

Shut your mouth: Expos relief pitcher Mike Marshall publicly criticized Bailey's fielding at third base in 1973.

No one understands him but his woman: The Dodgers dealt Maury Wills to the Pirates for Bailey and Gene Michael in 1966. Bailey proceeded to hit .227 in back-to-back seasons as the Dodgers finished eighth and seventh, respectively. A lot of folks blamed Bailey for the demise of the Dodgers, since L.A. had just been to back-to-back World Series with Wills on the team.

(A word about the back): The longest home run in the history of the Astrodome is now forever owned by Mike Piazza, who hit an estimated 480-foot blast for the Mets in 1998.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

no. 156 - bart johnson

Who is the man: Bart Johnson enjoyed his first prolonged stay in the major leagues in 1970 and was entering the 1971 season as a veteran of 22 games pitched. This is his first solo card.

Can ya dig it: Johnson is one of those metamorphosis guys from the 1970s in that he converted from straight-laced '60s crew-cut soldier to '70s hippie 'fro man. He was like a Chia Pet on cardboard. The hair just kept getting longer.

Right on: It's difficult to make out what's going on in the background. From a distance it looks like it's a dad taking a picture of the family in front of a rock formation.

You see this cat Johnson is a bad mother: An all-around athlete, Johnson threatened to try out for the Seattle SuperSonics when the White Sox wanted to send him to the minors in 1974.

Shut your mouth: Johnson decided to play professional baseball or pro basketball because he thought he could dominate baseball rather than just be a cog in the NBA. "I honestly thought I had the talent to become a Cy Young Award winner," he said in this interview.

No one understands him but his woman: Johnson struggled fairly often during his time with the White Sox, and a fan once unveiled a banner that said "Oh, no, not Bart!" during one of his appearances.

(A word about the back): You got it all in that biography. High school, American Legion, minor leagues and the majors.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

no. 155 - ken henderson

Who is the man: Ken Henderson was coming off his best season as a major leaguer as he saw his playing time jump in 1970. The player heavily touted from all the way back to his high school days had finally arrived.

Can ya dig it: This is another well-worn item from that first batch of '71s I acquired as a young teenager.

Right on: Henderson signed his name "Kenny," but I don't remember anyone calling him that.

You see this cat Henderson is a bad mother: Henderson was touted by some writers as "the next Willie Mays" when he hit the majors in 1964. Mays seemed like he had lost a step in his mid-30s, and Henderson was being groomed as a potential replacement in center.

Shut your mouth: Of course, Mays re-emerged with an MVP season in 1965 and performed well for the Giants for the next seven or eight years. "There was nobody that could replace Willie Mays," Henderson said years later.

No one understands him but his woman: Henderson performed as a regular starter for the Giants between 1969-72, but then was traded to the White Sox. The man once thought as Mays' replacement had been pushed out of the outfield by Bonds, Garry Maddox and Gary Matthews. After a strong season in '74, Henderson transformed into a journeyman player, performing for the Braves, Rangers, Mets, Reds and Cubs.

(A word about the back): Bobby Bonds led the 1970 Giants in stolen bases with 48.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

no. 154 - cesar gutierrez

Who is the man: Cesar Gutierrez was coming off his best major league season at the time of this card's appearance. It would be his only season as a full-time starter. He played in 134 games in 1970 and no more than 38 in any of his other three seasons.

Can ya dig it: Gutierrez looks mighty wistful there in Yankee Stadium.

Right on: I can't make out the first number on the uniform of the person walking away in the background. The second number appears to be a "0." The 1970 Tigers with a zero in their uniform number were pitchers Bob Reed (20) and Lerrin LaGrow (30). I suppose it could also be a coach.

You see this cat Gutierrez is a bad mother: Gutierrez achieved his single greatest feat as a player in 1970 when he produced a hit in seven straight at-bats against the Indians in a 12-inning game, the second game of a doubleheader. That record would be equaled by the Pirates' Rennie Stennett in 1975, although Stennett went 7-for-7 in a nine-inning game.

Shut your mouth: Gutierrez's nickname was "Cocoa." When Gutierrez produced his seven hits, the Associated Press writer wrote that maybe they should change his nickname to "7-Up."

No one understands him but his woman: Gutierrez is featured with the Expos on his 1972 Topps card as he was purchased by Montreal in spring training of '72. But Gutierrez never played for the Expos and his last season in the majors was in 1971.

(A word about the back): The record Gutierrez tied was by Wilbert Robinson of Baltimore in 1892. Robinson supplied six singles and a double, just as Gutierrez did.

Friday, March 8, 2013

no. 153 - gary ross

Who is the man: Gary Ross had completed his second season with the newbie Padres when this card arrived. The 1970 season wasn't quite as taxing as 1969 when he set a franchise record of 11 straight losses, which has yet to be broken. But it still wasn't too great.

Can ya dig it: They apparently cut down ALL the trees where Ross is posing.

Right on: The Padres that we've seen in this set so far have been virtually erased by time. Only Clarence Gaston made much of a mark.

You see this cat Ross is a bad mother: Ross finished fourth in the league in appearances in 1972 with 60.

Shut your mouth: When Padres pitcher Mat Latos narrowly avoided matching Ross' streak of 11 straight losses in 2011, gaining the victory against the Rockies, he brushed off the severity of the streak because it spanned an offseason. "I didn't lose 10 straight. I had four months off. I couldn't care less about that," he said.

In other words, "don't lump me in with that Ross fellow."

No one understands him but his woman: Ross disappeared from baseball cards for a three-year span in the mid-1970s. After appearing as a Padre in the 1973 Topps set, he didn't show up again until the 1977 set when he was with the Angels. I had never heard of Ross when I pulled his card in '77 and I couldn't believe that he had pitched for so many years when I looked at the back of his card. I thought he was a rookie.

(A word about the back): The entire write-up is painful. High school feats. Legion feats. And then "2 wins & one save." ... At least his glasses are cool.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

no. 152 - angels rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Lloyd Allen and Winston Llenas had appeared in the major leagues two years before this card was produced. Llenas, in fact, was in the majors in 1968. But both spent most of 1970 in the minors with Llenas, in particular, excelling, knocking in 108 and hitting .339 for Hawaii in the Pacific Coast League.

Can ya dig it: Another Yankee Stadium shot in the Llenas photo. Topps sure liked getting that frieze in there.

Right on: I have had this card since I was a teenager and have always thought it was cool that Topps paired one player with a double L in his first name with another player with a double L in his last name.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: The only place rookies are bad mothers is in Bowman, and in 1971 Bowman didn't exist! Sit down, rook!

Shut your mouth: Lloyd Allen was a Jewish convert and while with the Angels became friends with longtime coach Jimmie Reese. Reese nicknamed Allen "Sandy," saying that Allen was "the right-handed Sandy Koufax."

No one understands him but his woman: Llenas was known as one of the greatest power hitters of his time in the Mexican League. So it amuses me that on both his 1974 and 1975 cards, he is shown bunting.

(A word about the back): Llenas is one of the earlier major league products from the Dominican Republic, helping open the door to the U.S. for hundreds of Dominican ballplayers.

Friday, March 1, 2013

no. 151 - tommy davis

Who is the man: Tommy Davis was a man on the move in 1970. He played for three teams that year and by the time this card hit packs, he had been released by the Cubs and signed by the A's -- one of the teams for whom he played in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Davis doesn't look very happy to be a Cub. It's either that or the fact that every last corner on this card is creased.

Right on: Topps deserves a "good job" for getting Davis in a Cubs uniform, especially in the second series. Davis played just 11 games for the Cubs at the end of 1970, but it appears that Topps lucked out. I think Davis is in Shea Stadium in this picture. The Cubs played a season-ending series in New York in 1970 and, of course, Topps is based in New York. Instant opportunity.

You see this cat Davis is a bad mother: Davis' 1962 season still amazes me. His 153 runs batted in that year remains the Dodgers' franchise record.

Shut your mouth: The Mets traded Davis to the White Sox in 1967 for Al Weis and Tommy Agee. Both Weis and Agee were key figures in the Mets' World Series championship in 1969. "You think the Mets would send me something for helping them win," Davis said in an interview with SABR.

No one understands him but his woman: Davis played for 10 teams over a 10-year period. No reasons were given for his frequent traveling, but some have speculated that his casual attitude toward the game may have played the part. Davis was very low key, even during his young all-star days with the Dodgers, and that can often be mistaken for "not trying."

(A word about the back): "Tommy played with 3 clubs in both leagues in 1970." That makes it sound like he played for a total of six teams in 1970. Hey now, three was enough.