Thursday, August 29, 2013

no. 207 - alan foster

Who is the man: Alan Foster was a regular member of the Dodgers' starting rotation in his second full season in 1970. He was basically the No. 3 guy because Bill Singer was in-and-out of the rotation with various ailments. But by the time this card was issued, Foster had been traded to the Indians for catcher Duke Sims.

Can ya dig it: This is the second 1971 Topps Dodgers card I ever owned (after Manny Mota).

Right on: There are so many Dodgers pitchers in the '71 set with their arms over their head. Foster, Singer, Don Sutton, Joe Moeller, Sandy Vance. It's an epidemic.

You see this cat Foster is a bad mother: I had an irrational attachment to Alan Foster's 1975 Topps card. I really, really wanted him to be a fantastic pitcher when I was 9 years old. When you have that kind of hold on a kid you've never met, that's pretty bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Foster gave up the first home run to ever travel completely out of Dodger Stadium. It was hit by the Pirates' Willie Stargell on Aug. 5, 1969.

No one understands him but his woman: Foster was the first starting pitcher to wear the No. 44 in Dodger history. Since Foster, other starters who have worn it are Al Downing, Vicente Padilla and Aaron Harang.

(A word about the back): Granted, it's only the minors, but successive no-hitters is Johnny VanderMeer territory. Pretty nifty.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

no. 206 - 3rd series checklist

Who is the man: The generic guy (who I've referenced on each of the previous two checklists) reminds me of the weirdly airbrushed batter on the 1976 Topps Tom Seaver record-breaker card.

Can ya dig it: Topps is getting the collector all geared up for the third series even though we're a good 58 cards away from getting there.

Right on: Collectors still pulling second-series doubles of Gerry Moses had some pretty cool players to look forward to -- Fergie Jenkins, Tony Oliva, Bobby Bonds, Brooks Robinson. These checklists must have been a thrill. Makes me want to see six-series sets again.

You see this checklist is a bad mother: It leads off with Joe Morgan and doesn't care what you think.

Shut your mouth: Card number #317 is "Athlet." Rookies. I guess "ics" was just too much to write.

No one understands him but his woman: This checklist is diamond-cut, which was commonplace with '70s cards, but I don't know if some collectors of modern-day cards even know what it means now.

(A word about the back): The card number for each of the series checklists has bounced around. The number for the first series was in the top right corner and the number for the second series was in the bottom right. Now we have top center.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

no. 205 - gerry moses

Who is the man: Gerry Moses, better known as "Jerry," spent his 1970 season with the Red Sox, but was traded to the Angels in October in the big Tony Conigliaro deal.

Can ya dig it: I'm thinking that Moses' signature here, "Gerald Moses," was why Topps referred to him as "Gerry" on his cards between 1969-74. But on his 1975 card, he signs it "Jerry Moses" and Topps switches to "Jerry."

Right on: Moses appears distressed either because of the airbrushed cap on his head or the fact that this is one of the first 1971 cards I ever owned and it's quite beat up. Really in need of an upgrade.

You see this cat Moses is a bad mother: Moses was a standout football player in high school and gave up football to play professional baseball. He was an All-Star in 1970 and saw Pete Rose bowl over Ray Fosse at home plate. Moses has said that because of his football mentality, Rose wouldn't be able to do to him what he did to Fosse.

Shut your mouth: Moses on Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee: "He was a little crazy, but he could pitch."

No one understands him but his woman: Even though the 1970 All-Star Game went 12 innings, Moses never got to play. Bill Freehan was voted in and then Fosse replaced Freehan. Moses sat the bench, even though his wife, mother and sister traveled to see him play.

(A word about the back): "Last winter." The trade happened on Oct. 11.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

no. 204 - brewers rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Bernie Smith and George Kopacz received their first taste of major league baseball in 1970, but with different teams. Smith played 44 games for the Brewers, while Kopacz participated in 10 for the Pirates.

Can ya dig it: Kopacz is cap-less because he was acquired by the Brewers from the Pirates in October, 1970, mere months before the set went to press.

Right on: Smith had a pretty good 44 games for Milwaukee. He hit .276 with an on-base average of .382. He homered once and knocked in six runs.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: No. Not only are they rookies, they are rookies for an expansion team that had played just two years at the time this card was issued.

Shut your mouth: Neither of these players would have another Topps card.

No one understands him but his woman: Smith was one of several former African-American players that were the subject of a book, "A Bitter Cup Of Coffee," by Douglas J. Gladstone. It revealed how hundreds of former players did not receive pensions or health insurance from Major League Baseball.

(A word about the back): Kopacz was named MVP of the International League with his performance in 1970. Kopacz's son, Derek, played in the Tigers, White Sox, Padres and Diamondbacks organizations.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

no. 203 - larry gura

Who is the man: Larry Gura had completed his first season in major league ball upon the arrival of this card. He appeared in 20 games, 17 in relief, and went 1-3.

Can ya dig it: Wow, Gura looks young. I'm more used to the world-weary look he displayed with the Royals.

Right on: Rookie card!

You see this cat Gura is a bad mother: There is nothing more bad-ass than being known as a "Yankee Killer," and that's the moniker that he earned. He beat the Yankees six straight times in 1979 and 1980.

Shut your mouth: When Gura pitched for Martin with the Yankees, Martin was to have said that Gura was "a sissy who can't pitch in this league." Gura didn't forget it. When Martin moved on to manage the Oakland A's, Gura was still beating the Yankees but claimed his quarrel wasn't with New York. "It was against Billy," he said. "Now the vendetta is against Oakland."

No one understands him but his woman: Gura and his wife took over his in-laws' family farm in Arizona about 10 years ago and they now work to keep it going.

(A word about the back): Gura had only one year of minor league ball at this point, so I suppose that's why Topps had to fill the bio with high school, college, Connie Mack, Colt League and Pony League information.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

no. 202 - 1970 n.l. playoffs, reds celebrate!

Who is the man: The man appears to be Bob Tolan, who is surrounded by Reds. Tolan drove in the winning run with a single in the eighth inning of the clinching Game 3 of the 1970 NLCS. He stayed on base until the next batter struck out for the third out. So maybe this is everyone greeting him as he gets back to the dugout.

Can ya dig it: Check out the double crease action on the right side of the card. Looks like someone stepped on it. I've had this card since I was about 13. Never thought to upgrade.

Right on: I'll try to name who I can again. From left to right, facing away from the camera, that is first baseman Lee May, shortstop Woody Woodward, backup outfielder Angel Bravo and Tolan. As far as anyone else, I'd need a Reds fan, or someone who was watching baseball then.

You see these Reds cats are bad mothers: En route to the sweep, Reds pitchers allowed just three runs the entire series. That's one per game, math majors.

Shut your mouth: Cincinnati hit only .220 as a team in the series.

No one understands him but his woman: Bob Moose, who endured the difficulty of losing Game 2 despite pitching very well, would have an even more difficult time the next time he faced the Reds in the NLCS. In the decisive Game 5 of the 1972 NLCS, Moose threw a wild pitch to Hal McRae, allowing George Foster to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

(A word about the back): Once again, we have only the winners' stats to observe. Tolan and Tony Perez were the only real impact players on offense (if you exclude Ty Cline's heroics). Woodward, who played almost exclusively over young Dave Concepcion, struggled.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

no. 201 - 1970 n.l. playoffs, game 3

Who is the man: The man again is Ty Cline, shown at right, who worked a two-out walk in the bottom of the eighth and barely scored on Bob Tolan's double for the go-ahead run in an eventual 3-2 victory for the Reds that clinched the 1970 NLCS.

Can ya dig it: Nice action shot of what was a close play at the plate as Cline barely beat Willie Stargell's throw to Manny Sanguillen to score. Unfortunately, Cline is almost cut out of the shot and we have a giant look at home plate ump Paul Pryor's backside.

Right on: Earlier, I said Cline had three cards in this set. Well, so does Sanguillen, including being featured on back-to-back cards.

You see this cat Cline is a bad mother: Cline's line for the series is 1 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 0 BI with an OPS of 4.000.

Shut your mouth: Johnny Bench and Tony Perez hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning and then the Reds managed just a single for the rest of the game until the fateful eighth.

No one understands him but his woman: Pirates starter Bob Moose pitched into the eighth inning, limiting the Reds to two runs on three hits until that walk to Cline.

(A word about the back): Freddie Patek played shortstop for the Pirates in Game 3. It's hard to think of Patek as a Pirate, but he was in his third year with Pittsburgh in 1970.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

no. 200 - 1970 n.l. playoffs, game 2

Who is the man: That's Bobby Tolan approaching the plate with his third run of the game for the Reds against the Pirates. Tolan scored all three runs as the Reds won 3-1 to take a 2-0 lead in the NLCS.

Can ya dig it: Great work by Topps to feature what actually does appear to be Tolan scoring the third run of the game. His first run came on a wild pitch, his second on his solo home run ,and his third on a double by Tony Perez. Judging by the way the catcher is positioned, it's most likely Tolan scoring on the double.

Right on: That's Manny Sanguillen playing the role as catcher for the Pirates.

You see this cat Tolan is a bad mother: Tolan put the Reds ahead 2-0 with his two-out home run off of the Pirates' Luke Walker in the fifth inning.

Shut your mouth: Sanguillen contributed to the Reds' first run. Tolan singled in the third inning and then he stole second as Sanguillen's throw sailed into center field. Tolan then went to third and was able to score on Walker's wild pitch.

No one understands him but his woman: If it wasn't for Tolan, Walker would have pitched a two-hitter. The only other Reds to get hits off of him through seven innings were Lee May and Tommy Helms, who both singled.

(A word about the back): Outside of Clemente and Stargell, not terribly impressed with that Pirates lineup. But it's possible I just don't know my '60s hitters all that well.

Friday, August 9, 2013

no. 199 - 1970 n.l. playoffs, game 1

Who is the man: That's veteran bench player Ty Cline sliding into third base with his pinch-hit triple that kicked off the 10th inning of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The Reds would go on to score three runs in the inning and beat the Pirates 3-0.

Can ya dig it: The NLCS cards in the '71 set feature red-tinted photos, which pleases my odd color sensibilities. Yellow for AL and red for the NL makes sense to my brain.

Right on: That is Richie Hebner fielding the throw for the Pirates.

You see this cat Cline is a bad mother: Cline, entering his final season of a 12-year career, is featured on three cards in this set. Not bad for a guy who never had 400 at-bats in a single season.

Shut your mouth: The Reds went ahead 1-0 when Pete Rose drove in Cline with a single. Then, after the Pirates got the next two outs, they decided to intentionally walk Johnny Bench. Bad move. Lee May doubled in Rose and Bench and the Reds led 3-0.

No one understands him but his woman: Dock Ellis pitched 9 2/3 innings of shutout ball ... and got the loss.

(A word about the back): One of Willie Stargell's three hits was a double with one out in the eighth inning of the still scoreless game. Stargell was lifted for a pinch-runner. Reds starter Gary Nolan then struck out Manny Sanguillen and Hebner to end the inning.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

no. 198 - a.l. playoffs, orioles celebrate!

Who is the man: Well, if this is the aftermath of the last play of Game 3, the man is probably Jim Palmer, who is in there somewhere. He coerced Twins pinch-hitter Rick Renick to ground into a force play at second base to end the ninth and clinch the ALCS sweep and a trip to the World Series.

Can ya dig it: I love wrap-up postseason series cards. Not only should there be a card for every game of the postseason, but a card to wrap-up each series. There are too few of those.

Right on: I'll name the players I can see, from left to right: starting catcher Andy Etchebarren, bench outfielder Curt Motton, third-base coach Billy Hunter, pitching coach George Bamberger and first baseman Boog Powell. All other faces, I would need help from an Orioles fan.

You see these Orioles cats were a bad mother: The Orioles hit .330 for the series, averaging nine runs a game.

Shut your mouth: I'm sorry, but the phrase "team effort" should be torn up, stomped on and then fed to feral dogs.

No one understands him but his woman: No one would know it at the time, but this would be the last time the Twins would play in a postseason series until 1987.

(A word about the back): Topps ignores the Twins' cumulative stats -- winners only, please. The beasts of the O's stat-wise here are Brooks Robinson (7-for-12), Boog Powell (6-for-14, 6 RBIs) and Jim Palmer (1 R, 12 SO). Meanwhile, Paul Blair did not have a good time at the plate.

Monday, August 5, 2013

no. 197 - 1970 a.l. playoffs, game 3

Who is the man: Jim Palmer was the man in the clinching Game 3 against the Twins. He pitched the Orioles' third straight complete game of the series, striking out 12 in Baltimore's 6-1 victory.

Can ya dig it: I sure wish I could use " 'em " in a headline where I work.

Right on: That's a great look at Palmer's old-style "show them the ball" delivery.

You see this cat Palmer is a bad mother: Palmer continued the Orioles pitchers' hitting ways in this series by doubling in the Orioles' third run in the third inning against Bert Blyleven.

Shut your mouth: The Twins committed two more errors in this game to add to their total of six errors for the series. The Orioles had none.

No one understands him but his woman: Twins starter Jim Kaat was out of this game by the third inning and was charged with four runs.

(A word about the back): Lots of pinch-hitters for the Twins (and a pinch-running appearance by Luis Tiant!). A sign of desperation and plenty of relief pitchers.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

no. 196 - 1970 a.l. playoffs, game 2

Who is the man: Dave McNally is the man mentioned on the front and throwing the ball plateward. McNally pitched a complete game, allowing six hits and three runs.

Can ya dig it: These yellow-tinted photos are producing some sort of cross-hatch pattern when I scan the cards. I could do without that.

Right on: The guy casting a shadow (on a card filled with shadows) in the top part of the photo is Brooks Robinson, who would have quite the 1970 postseason.

You see this cat McNally is a bad mother: Not only did McNally throw the complete-game win in the Orioles' 11-3 victory, but he went 2-for-5 and drove in a run. It was the second straight game that the Orioles starter was a force at the plate.

Shut your mouth: Luis Tiant was reduced to a mop-up role in this game. The Orioles scored seven runs in the ninth inning. Twins reliever Ron Perranoski allowed a double to McNally to start the inning, and then after giving up two runs to put the Orioles' lead at 6-3, Tiant came in and made things worse, allowing a home run to Davey Johnson after a costly throwing error by Twins shortstop Leo Cardenas.

No one understands him but his woman: Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, but it was long forgotten after the Orioles' late-game outburst.

(A word about the back): Mark Belanger, 3-for-4. You didn't see that often.