Wednesday, November 27, 2013

no. 237 - cesar cedeno

Who is the man: Cesar Cedeno made his major league debut in June of 1970 and went on to hit .310 in 355 at-bats, finishing fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting (he received one vote).

Can ya dig it: Cedeno cards were always cool in the 1970s. Love the old Astros logo patch. That's how I remember the Astros logo.

Right on: Rookie card! He's no older than 19 in this photo.

You see this cat Cedeno is a bad mother: Anyone compared to Willie Mays early in their career is a bad mother. Thank you, Leo Durocher.

Shut your mouth: Durocher, expanding on his Cedeno-Mays comparison in a UPI article in 1973: "What I've said is there will never be a better player than Willie Mays. In my opinion anyway. At this stage of his career though, Cesar Cedeno is as good as Willie was when he was 22. He's a fantastic ballplayer. Positively fantastic. He could turn out to be as great as Willie. Like I say, though, I don't think there'll ever be a better ballplayer than Mays."

No one understands him but his woman: There are a lot of directions I could go here, as Cedeno had well-known, even tragic, experiences with women. But let's go with this Cedeno quote:

"I never get any endorsements or commercials. I've never understood why. I have an accent, but so does Ricardo Montalban."

(A word about the back): Just to give younger collectors an idea of the build-up for this guy, here are snippets from the first few Cedeno card backs:

1971: "Cesar has the potential to be a super-star."
1972: "Hailed as NL's next super-star ..."
1973: "One of the major league's most exciting players ..."
1975: "Perhaps baseball's next super-star ..."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

no. 236 - bob humphreys

Who is the man: Bob Humphreys was wrapping up his major league career with this card. He pitched in 28 games with the Brewers in 1970 after being released by the Senators in midseason.

Can ya dig it: Humphreys looks like a grumpus on most of his cards. This is as close to a smile as he showed on seven years of Topps cards.

Right on: Final card right here.

You see this cat Humphreys is a bad mother: Humphreys played for the World Series champion Cardinals in his first full season in the major leagues in 1964. He appeared in one game against the Yankees in that Series, pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth in an 8-3 loss by the Cardinals in Game 6.

Shut your mouth: Humphreys said he learned how to throw a fastball and curve ball as a kid from a pamphlet put out by Wheaties. "There was no coaching," he said. "When I was in high school, we had a coach who was a Spanish teacher. He didn't know squat about baseball."

No one understands him but his woman: Humphreys was told in a 1963 major league evaluation, "you can't make it." He wrote that sentence down in his glove and used it as motivation at the start of a nine-year MLB career.

(A word about the back): "Bob had 3 saves for the Brewers in 1970." ... That's a hell of a lead.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

no. 235 - nate colbert

Who is the man: Nate Colbert was becoming the first big slugger in Padres history at the time this card appeared. He slammed a career-high 38 home runs for San Diego in 1970.

Can ya dig it: The crop job on this card is a little odd to me. It makes me wonder what is on the ground by Colbert's feet that we aren't supposed to see.

Right on: I know I'm done with this set, but seeing a card in such great condition like this one makes me want to upgrade a bunch of the '71s I have. And that would get expensive.

You see this cat Colbert is a bad mother: All these years later, Colbert still holds the Padres' mark with career home runs with 163.

Shut you mouth: When Colbert was playing for the Astros near the start of his career in 1966, Houston was playing the Yankees in an exhibition game in the Astrodome. Mickey Mantle was taking batting practice and it was Colbert's first time seeing The Mick. "Oh, my gosh, hey guys, that's Mickey Mantle!" Colbert said to his teammates. His teammates replied calmly, "I know."

No one understands him but his woman: Colbert retired at age 30 because of back problems. If not for that, he could have become one of the great sluggers of the 1970s and '80s.

(A word about the back): I would assume setting the record for games played is like getting the perfect attendance certificate in school. You're not turning down the award, but you're not exactly bragging about it either.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

no. 234 - jim lyttle

Who is the man: For the second straight card, we have someone making their solo card debut. Jim Lyttle appeared on a two-player rookie card in the 1970 set, but after having the most productive season of his eight-year major league career, he earned his own card in the '71 set.

Can ya dig it: Lyttle's beady little blue eyes match the skyline.

Right on: This is an upgrade of a really ratty version of this card that I had. It was once one of the most beat-up cards in my set.

You see this cat Lyttle is a bad mother: I think his 1976 SSPC card is fantastic, and I must have it some day.

Shut your mouth: Lyttle has just three solo Topps cards, one each with the Yankees, White Sox and Expos. I just found out doing research that Lyttle ended his MLB career with the Dodgers in 1976. It's rare that someone from this time period plays for the Dodgers and I don't know it. I'm kind of stunned.

No one understands him but his woman: After his MLB career ended in 1976, Lyttle went to Japan where he became a successful slugger. He hit 33 homers and drove in 100 runs with a .318 batting average in 1981. He also won the Japanese League gold glove award four times.

(A word about the back): "Jim showed well." I don't know if that's an actual thought.

Friday, November 15, 2013

no. 233 - larry bowa

Who is the man: The always prickly Larry Bowa had finished off his rookie season as this card appeared in packs. He placed third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1970, behind the Expos' Carl Morton and the Reds' Bernie Carbo.

Can ya dig it: So much going on this photo. It looks like the team's headed off the field and the photographer grabbed Bowa for a shot. But Bowa's wearing a batting glove. And then there's the random discarded glove on the ground. I'm so confused.

Right on: This is the sixth rookie trophy so far in the set. The left side of the infield is complete, along with the catcher, pitcher and two outfielders.

You see this cat Bowa is a bad mother: Bowa's temper tantrums on and off the field both as a player and manager are well-documented. He wore out his welcome with the Phillies, Cubs and Padres.

Shut your mouth: Bowa famously called out Cubs manager Jim Frey in his autobiographical book, "Bleep" during the 1980s. Bowa was upset because Frey sat him for the much younger Shawon Dunston. He called Frey a "minor league bum" for not playing in the majors and said Frey preferred three-run homers to singles. Who wouldn't?

No one understands him but his woman: Bowa has ended his gig as an analyst at the MLB Network to coach for the Phillies in 2014. Like many of the MLB Network analysts, I didn't find him very informative.

(A word about the back): Bowa's father, Paul, played for mostly Class C California teams between 1941-47 and managed in 1946 and 1947. Also, I don't know what the hell the bio is talking about here. Bowa's "fine" on-base average was .277 in 1970.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

no. 232 - john strohmayer

Who is the man: John Strohmayer was embarking on his second season in the major leagues upon the arrival of this card. His rookie year was 1970.

Can ya dig it: Rookie card!

Right on: This underlines the idea that smiling in photos makes you look younger. Maybe Strohmayer is trying to look determined, but he looks a whole lot older than someone who was no more than 24 when this picture was taken.

You see this cat Strohmayer is a bad mother: Strohmayer was a member of the 1973 National League champion Mets. Picked up on waivers in July, he appeared in seven games for New York, But he didn't make the postseason roster.

Shut your mouth: After his major league career, Strohmayer went into teaching and worked his way all the way up to superintendent. In 2009, as superintendent of the Gateway School District in Redding, Calif., he was one of 15 employees to share a $76 million lottery jackpot. No surprise, Strohmayer retired that same year.

No one understands him but his woman: Strohmayer pitched in Puerto Rico during the MLB offseason. He remarked in the book "Baseball Without Borders" how amazed he was that baseball games were not canceled after heavy rains. Instead, after the rain had stopped, fans came out of the stands and joined with team members to get the field in playable shape.

(A word about the back): Strohmayer didn't start a single game for the Expos in 1970. The write-up must be referring to his minor league career.

Monday, November 11, 2013

no. 231 - indians rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Vince Colbert and John Lowenstein received their first "cup o' coffee" (they don't use that term enough anymore) in the majors in 1970. Lowenstein played in 17 games for the Indians. Colbert pitched in 23 games. I guess that's more than a cup of coffee, huh?

Can ya dig it: That's Lowenstein? I don't recognize him without the mustache, glasses and brillo-pad hair.

Right on: Another Yankee Stadium shot in the Lowenstein photo.

You these rookies are bad mothers: What they're bad at is convincing anyone they're bad-ass. Get lost, rookie.

Shut your mouth: It seems like a lot of these 1971 rookies became future broadcasters. Lowenstein was another one, working as an analyst for the Orioles for 10 years.

No one understands him but his woman: Colbert would receive just one solo card, in the 1972 set, and that was it. His last MLB season was 1972.

(A word about the back): Lowenstein was known for being a joker. I wouldn't be surprised at all if those Little League and Babe Ruth stats are made up.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

no. 230 - willie stargell

Who is the man: Willie Stargell was entering what would be a ferocious season for him. He'd pound out 48 home runs, knock in 125 runs and help the Pirates to a World Series title in 1971.

My observation on the front: I've mentioned this before, but Stargell looks rather skinny on his early '70s cards, at least when you compare him with, say, 1977 through the end of his career.

Right on: There was a lot more concrete showing in 1970s stadiums.

You see this cat Stargell is a bad mother: One of my favorite baseball quotes is about Stargell. It came from pitcher Don Sutton. "He doesn't just hit pitchers," Sutton said., "he takes their dignity."

Shut your mouth: When Stargell was a coach for the Braves in the late 1980s, a young Barry Bonds started heckling him during a visit to Pittsburgh, telling him "I'm what it's all about now." When Stargell stormed off, Bonds scrambled after him to apologize, saying he was joking. Stargell said: "You better get some more lines on your baseball card before you talk to me like that."

No one understands him but his woman: Stargell was called both "fat" and "old" during his career, but enjoyed the best moments of his career (1969-74 and 1978-79) immediately after those insults.

(A word about the back): The record for extra base hits in one game is still five, held by several players.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

no. 229 - jim hannan

Who is the man: Jim Hannan pitched his ninth and final season for the Senators in 1970, starting 17 of the 42 games he appeared in for Washington. He was traded to the Tigers in early October, 1970 in the deal that sent Denny McLain to the Senators.

Can ya dig it: For a long time, this probably has been my least favorite card in the vast 1971 set. Cap-less ballplayers always drew a frown from me, but the unkempt hair, the large ear as a focal point and Hannan's traditional dour expression (it appeared on several of his cards) made it especially undesirable. If I was collecting in '71, it would definitely be one of those cards I tried to sneak in my friends' card stacks.

Right on: Final card of Hannan's career right here.

You see this cat Hannan is a bad mother: Hannan is chairman of the board for the Major League Baseball Players' Alumni Association. His bio on the organization's website claims that Hannan's masters thesis on the MLB pension plan was what Marvin Miller studied to familiarize himself with MLB's benefit system.

Shut your mouth: Hannan said that he realized that the Senators were moving to Texas two years before it happened. In 1970, the Senators were leaving spring training to go to Arlington, Texas, to play an exhibition against the Pirates. Hannan puzzled why they'd go to Arlington when they had so much to do in Washington to get ready for the season. The light bulb flickered -- Hannan said he knew then that owner Bob Short would move the team.

No one understands him but his woman: Hannan was the target of some righteous booing by one person who felt he hasn't done enough for MLB alumni.

(A word about the back): "Traded to the Tigers for 1971." Well, 1971 with the Tigers lasted just seven games. Hannan was traded to the Brewers in May and that's where he spent the majority of '71.