Sunday, December 28, 2014

no. 363 - mike nagy

Who is the man: Mike Nagy suffered from the sophomore slump in 1970, posting a 4.47 ERA and six wins in 23 games after coming in second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1969.

Can ya dig it: Nagy appears braced for a comebacker.

Right on: Always appreciate a shot of Fenway Park in the background.

You see that cat Nagy is a bad mother: Nagy was the AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1969, going 12-2 for the Red Sox in his first season.

Shut your mouth: Nagy, a Bronx native, made his first major league start against the Yankees in 1969. He beat Mel Stottlemyre and New York 2-1, allowing three hits in 6 2/3 innings.

No one understands him but his woman: Nagy pitched very well in the Mexican League after his major league career was over. But the road trips were so long that it began to affect Nagy physically. After one season, he came home 20 pounds lighter. "What happened to you?" his wife said.

(A word about the back): Baseball-reference credits Jim Palmer with the best AL win percentage in 1969 (.800). Nagy had 196.2 innings pitched in 1969, perhaps that wasn't enough.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

no. 362 - orioles rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Mike Adamson and Roger Freed spent most of their 1970 season playing for Triple A Rochester. Freed did appear in four games for the Orioles, going 2-for-13.

Can ya dig it: The word "outfield" is smeared on this card, like they used too much black ink.

Right on: Freed hit the bejesus out of the ball for Rochester in 1970, hitting .334 with 130 RBIs in 138 games.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: Nope. They're not. Yeah, I know the Orioles were the defending World Champs entering the 1971 season, but it doesn't mean these rookies had anything to do with it.

Shut your mouth: Freed put up excellent minor league numbers and struggled in the majors. He was the classic "4A player." A scouting report mid-career said Freed had "too many holes to be a big-league hitter."

No one understands him but his woman: Mike Adamson's major league career was done by the time this card was issued. He appeared in 11 major league games between 1967-69.

(A word about the back): You can see that the Topps Minor League Player of the Year wasn't good enough to avoid being traded that same year. The Orioles acquired pitcher Grant Jackson in the deal.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

no. 361 - don sutton

Who is the man: Don Sutton completed his fifth full season in the majors in 1970 but posted an above-.500 winning percentage for the first time with a 15-13 mark. Despite that, he featured an ERA above 4 (4.08) for one of only three times in his career, gave up the most earned runs in the National League, and surrendered 38 home runs, which would be the most he gave up in a season, by far, until he matched that total in 1987, his second-to-last year.

Can ya dig it: The chain-link fence and the bench gives the feel that Sutton is posing at a Little League field.

Right on: I grew up with the perm-haired Sutton. I remember being shocked by earlier cards of him with straight hair. The first one I saw may have been this one, or his 1968 Topps card.

You see that cat Sutton is a bad mother: Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998, Sutton is seventh all-time in career strikeouts with 3,574.

Shut your mouth: Sutton, always an outspoken guy, has been a well-known broadcaster for the Braves for more than 20 years, with a brief side-trip as a Nationals broadcaster for a couple of years.

No one understands him but his woman: Sutton holds the post-integration record for the most plate appearances without a home run with 1,559. He never hit a home run in his career.

 (A word about the back): This is the last time that Topps gave Sutton a card number ending in a number other than "0" or "5" until the 1985 flagship set. That's for base cards only.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

no. 360 - jim fregosi

Who is the man: Jim Fregosi clubbed what would be a career high 22 home runs in 1970 for the Angels. He also drove in a career high 82 runs batted in and was named an All-Star for the fifth straight year.

Can ya dig it: Fantastic photo. You could see this thing in this year's Stadium Club (with a bigger photo and no border, of course). The Angels have some great action shots in this set.

Right on: Check out those stirrups. That's how I remember players wearing them. I didn't know you could wear them any other way.

You see that cat Fregosi is a bad mother: In 1969, Fregosi was named the Greatest Angel Ever in a fan poll. That's pretty good, even if the team had been around for only nine years.

Shut your mouth: When Fregosi was traded to the Mets in the famous deal that landed the Angels Nolan Ryan, he suffered from a thumb injury and struggled to learn a new position at third base, along with learning a new league. But he also admitted to playing out of shape. "I was leading the good life and loving it. But I was paying for it on the field," he said.

No one understands him but his woman: When Fregosi retired from playing in 1978, he was the last of the original Angels to call it a career.

(My observation on the back): "Another fine season was 1970 for Jim ..."?????? Good golly, where's my red pen?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

no. 359 - ron reed

Who is the man: Ron Reed was coming off a disappointing 1970 season in which he missed nearly half the year. He broke his collarbone in spring training when he tripped over first base during a fielding drill.

Can ya dig it: Should he be raising his arms that far over his head after a broken collarbone? What makes me think this is an old photo?

Right on: That is a good way to hide that fact that there is no ball in your glove.

You see this cat Reed is a bad mother: The man played professionally in two of the "big four" sports. He was a member of the Detroit Pistons from 1965-67 before playing in the major leagues from 1966-84.

Shut your mouth: Reed pitched for the Phillies from 1976-83. When famed Phillies announcer Harry Kalas died, Reed said he cried for the first time since his mom died.

No one understands him but his woman: Before Reed came to the Phillies, he was primarily a starter. When the Phillies told him he was going to be a reliever, he asked to be traded. But with some encouragement from fellow reliever Gene Garber, Reed tried it and he pitched eight more years as a reliever.

(A word about the back): Now that is an interesting write-up! Sure, I already told you most of it, but it's still a lot more interesting than most of the 1971 bios.

Friday, December 12, 2014

no. 358 - danny cater

Who is the man: Danny Cater had completed his first season with the Yankees in 1970, recording the best season of what was then a seven-year career. He rapped out 175 hits and hit .301.

Can ya dig it: Nice action shot. But that could be a simple ground ball to second.

Right on: Cater didn't really play a lot of outfield in 1970, but he did play at least 42 games at third base.

You see that cat Cater is a bad mother: Cater finished second in the American League batting race in 1968 with a modest .290 in the Year of the Pitcher.

Shut your mouth: Cater's last name was mispronounced and misspelled "Carter" so often that Carter became his nickname when he was with the A's and again when he was with the Red Sox.

No one understands him but his woman: Cater was often accused of being lackadaisical because he moved slowly and didn't say much. Cater's response: "Talk is cheap."

(A word about the back): This is just the eighth card in the set to show a player wearing a helmet on the back of the card.

How do I know that? I went back and checked.

Yeah, I don't know why I do stuff like that either.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

no. 357 - reds

Who is the man: The Reds won their first pennant since 1961, setting a franchise record for victories with 102 in 1970. They lost to the Orioles in five games in the World Series.

Can ya dig it: I do believe the team photo was taken in Riverfront Stadium, which was brand-spanking new in 1970. You can see the pride on all of their faces.

Right on: You know, I respect the job that trainers/doctors/clubhouse men do to keep the team operating, but if I was one of them, I wouldn't want to join a bunch of strapping players in uniform for a group picture. There's just no way you're going to look as good as them.

You see that cat Anderson is a bad mother: I believe manager Sparky Anderson is sitting in the center of the first row (just to the right of Pete Rose, who is No. 14 and sitting on the ground). Anderson kicked off a Hall of Fame managing career with this team.

Shut your mouth: Let's ID some people besides Rose and Anderson. Sitting on the ground at the far right is young outfielder Bernie Carbo. Sitting in the first row, second player from the right, I believe, is Bobby Tolan. Standing in the second row, the last player on the right, is pitcher Wayne Granger. Next to him is infielder Woody Woodward and next to Woodward is shortstop Davey Concepcion. On the other side of that row, pitcher Jim McGlothlin is the second player in from the left. Up top, the second player on the left is pitcher Gary Nolan. Next to him, I believe, is first baseman Lee May. Two players over from May is pitcher Wayne Simpson.

No one understands him but his woman: I don't have a good idea where Johnny Bench is in this photo. It's possible he's sitting next to Rose. But he could have missed the shoot for all I know.

(A word about the back): Notice it doesn't say "Black Sox" under the Reds' Series opponent in 1919. It's kind of a pet peeve of mine when people refer to the 1919 White Sox as the "Black Sox" in official stats or stories of record.

Monday, December 8, 2014

no. 356 - bob locker

Who is the man: Bob Locker had just completed his first season with the Oakland A's when this card was created. He was purchased by Oakland from the Milwaukee Brewers in June 1970.

Can ya dig it: I'm sure it was not lost on Mr. Locker that he dressed at his namesake before and after every game.

Right on: Locker has a memorable 1973 Topps card in which he (and an outfielder) are airbrushed from an A's uniform into a Cubs uniform.

You see that cat Locker is a bad mother: Locker pitched for the Seattle Pilots, meaning he was mentioned in Jim Bouton's Ball Four. His most famous moment was nailing warm-up partner Ray Oyler in the privates with a pitch. All of Oyler's teammates fell into hysterical laughter as Oyler crawled around in pain and puked. So you want to be a baseball player?

Shut your mouth: Locker created a touching website tribute to Marvin Miller in an effort to get him elected to the Hall of Fame while he was alive. That didn't happen, but it's terrific reading all of the player testimonials and other stories.

No one understands him but his woman: Locker pitched in 576 games in the majors and did not start a single game.

 (A word about the back): If Locker was a bullpen artist then what were his Oakland teammates Darold Knowles and Rollie Fingers?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

no. 355 - bud harrelson

Who is the man: The man is the guy applying the tag on the left, none other than Derrel McKinley "Bud" Harrelson. He played in a career-high 157 games in 1970.

Can ya dig it: This card is known less for being Harrelson's card and more for Nolan Ryan editorializing at right, giving the out call before the ump has made his decision. (This writer says the Astros runner is Jim Wynn and that he was actually safe).

Right on: The second baseman backing up the play is Ken Boswell.

You see this cat Harrelson is a bad mother: Well, other than appearing on one of the more memorable cards in the 1971 Topps set, Harrelson famously fought Pete Rose during the 1973 NLCS.

Shut your mouth: The dust-up between Rose and Harrelson was initiated when the Reds took offense to Harrelson's remark about how the Reds batted in the Mets' 9-2 victory in Game 2 of the NLCS. Harrelson said of the Reds: "They looked like me hitting." That caused Joe Morgan to threaten to punch out Harrelson during pregame warm-ups and then tell him that Rose would try to take him out at second base if he had a chance.

Baseball is so weird.

No one understands him but his woman: Harrelson is the only Met to be in uniform for their two World Series titles in 1969 and 1986. He was the third base coach in 1986.

(A word about the back): This nicely-ripped back mentions Harrelson's 54-game errorless streak, which has since been broken several times and has now been doubled. Mike Bordick holds the mark at 110 straight games.

Monday, December 1, 2014

no. 354 - don mc mahon

Who is the man: Don McMahon, pitching for his seventh and final major league team, appeared in 61 games in relief for the Giants in 1970 and saved what would be a career-high 19 games.

Can ya dig it: Is that a police officer in the distance?

Right on: I'm always impressed by players who appeared on cards in three decades during their careers. McMahon was in the 1958 Topps set, the 1972 Topps set and all the sets in between.

You see this cat McMahon is a bad mother: When McMahon retired, he had accumulated 874 games pitched and only Hoyt Wilhelm, Lindy McDaniel and Cy Young had pitched in more. McMahon is now 33rd on the all-time list.

Shut your mouth: McMahon was traded from the Milwaukee Braves to the Houston Colt .45s after the season had started in 1962. McMahon was upset that Braves manager Birdie Tebbetts hadn't used him much that year before he was traded and told the press about it. McMahon later received a letter from his mother telling him to stop saying bad things about Tebbetts.

No one understands him but his woman: McMahon served as both a pitcher and the team pitching coach for the Giants in 1972. In 1973 and 1974 he was officially just the Giants' pitching coach, but San Francisco activated him each year to pitch in games.

(A word about the back): The old firemen standings were delightfully simple: wins + saves = Rolaids Relief Man Award.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

no. 353 - carl taylor

Who is the man: Topps claims Carl Taylor is a Brewer, because he was traded from the Cardinals to the Brewers in late October 1970. But Taylor never played for the Brewers. He was dealt from Milwaukee to Kansas City in February 1971. So when kids pulled this card, it was not only out-of-date, it was an untruth. Carl Taylor never played "catcher-of" for the Brewers.

Can ya dig it: This is one of those awful '71 photos that doesn't give the faintest clue that the man pictured is a ballplayer. He looks like he's waiting for the subway.

Right on: We get a good look at a concrete post, so Topps can feature Taylor's facsimile without writing it on his face.

You see that cat Taylor is a bad mother: Taylor hit an amazing .348 in 104 games for the Pirates in 1969, which was the same average as the National League's batting leader that year, Pete Rose. Taylor didn't have enough at-bats for the title though.

Shut your mouth: Taylor is one of 28 players to hit an "ultimate grand slam," which is defined as delivering a game-winning grand slam while three runs down in the game's final at-bat, although this writer doesn't like the term very much.

No one understands him but his woman: Taylor is listed as a catcher on his card, but he hadn't played any games at catcher since 1968.

(A word about the back): "A versatile man"? Make it "a versatile player" or else I don't know what we're talking about here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

no. 352 - denny doyle

Who is the man: Denny Doyle was coming off his rookie season in the majors, appearing in 112 games for the Phillies with 413 at-bats and a .208 batting average.

Can ya dig it: Once again it takes scanning for me to notice a diamond-cut card.

Right on: First solo card! He appears with Larry Bowa on a rookie stars card in the 1970 set.

You see that cat Doyle is a bad mother: Doyle was the only player on the Red Sox or Reds to hit safely in all seven games of the epic 1975 World Series.

Shut your mouth: Doyle was thrown out at the plate by George Foster in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the '75 World Series to force the game into extra innings. Three innings later, Carlton Fisk would hit his dramatic home run to win the game. Doyle would tell Fisk: "You ought to thank me. If I had scored the winning run, you wouldn't be nearly as famous."

No one understands him but his woman: On Doyle's website for his very successful baseball school, he claims to be a pioneer in the use of video for evaluating baseball talent.

(A word about the back): 413 at-bats and 16 RBIs!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

no. 351 - jim shellenback

Who is the man: Jim Shellenback produced what would be his finest major league season in 1970, appearing in 39 games and posting a 6-7 mark and a 3.69 ERA.

Can ya dig it: Shellenback was no older than 27 when this photo was taken. I know. I didn't even believe that when I wrote it, but it's true.

Right on: That's a good look at the Major League Baseball logo on his left shoulder.

You see that cat Shellenback is a bad mother: Shellenback suffered a badly broken right leg in a car accident in 1967 and was told by doctors he would never play again. When his leg emerged from the cast, it was shorter than his left leg. He missed a year-and-a-half rehabilitating, but he would play through 1977.

Shut your mouth: Shellenback's uncle, Frank Shellenback, was a pitcher for the White Sox in 1918 and 1919. He also was the last remaining legal spitballer in professional baseball.

No one understands him but his woman: I missed posting this on Shellenback's 71st birthday by one lousy day.

(A word about the back): Can you imagine letting a rookie go 11 innings in his first start in a 1-1 game today? He'd be a folk hero.

Monday, November 17, 2014

no. 350 - billy williams

Who is the man: Billy Williams produced his best season to date in 1970, hitting 42 home runs, knocking in 129 runs and batting .322 for the Cubs. He finished second in the NL MVP voting behind Johnny Bench.

Can ya dig it: Williams looks young in all of his baseball card photos, until he grows a beard near the end of his career.

Right on: I am quite happy about the condition of this card. Only some minor nicks on the bottom corners.

You see this cat Williams is a bad mother: An incredibly consistent hitter, Williams made the Hall of Fame in 1987 and held the NL record for most consecutive games played until Steve Garvey broke it.

Shut your mouth: Williams struggled with his fielding early in his career. Ron Santo, who would be his long-time teammate, remembered Williams' problems while the two were in the minor leagues. "He played first base and he couldn't even catch pop-ups," Santo said.

No one understands him but his woman: Williams married someone also named Williams, Shirley Williams.

(A word about the back): Williams' consecutive games played streak ended in 1970 when Cubs manager Leo Durocher gave him the day off on Sept. 3 against the Phillies.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

no. 349 - rich reese

Who is the man: Rich Reese played in a career-high 153 games in 1970 after a breakout year in 1969 in which he batted .322 for the AL West-winning Minnesota Twins.

Can ya dig it: That's quite the wide stance there.

Right on: It appears that the Twins are playing the Yankees in this photo. I'm wondering if Thurman Munson is the catcher, which would make yet another cameo for the king of early '70s cameos.

You see this cat Reese is a bad mother: Reese is probably most remembered by Twins fans as the man who hit a pinch-hit grand slam in 1969 against the Orioles to win the game for Minnesota and end pitcher Dave McNally's win streak at 17 straight games, which was one short of the AL record.

Shut your mouth: Reese went on to work for Jim Beam after his baseball career and eventually became CEO for the company. He said he gave the name to the vodka drink "Blueberry Muffin".

No one understands him but his woman: Reese was beginning what would be a precipitous decline in 1970. In '71, he'd hit .219 and a couple years later he couldn't get to .200. Reese replaced Harmon Killebrew at first base when Killebrew returned to third in 1968. But the Twins' investment in Reese caused them to term infield prospect Graig Nettles expendable and he was dealt to the Indians. Reese was a part-time player for the Twins by '73.

 (A word about the back): Sure, career highs in games, at-bats, runs and stolen bases (woooo -- five!), but Topps neglects to mention that Reese had four fewer hits in 1970 than 1969 despite 82 more at-bats. Fewer doubles, homers, RBIs, etc., too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

no. 348 - fred norman

Who is the man: Fred Norman spent most of his 1970 season with the Dodgers until he was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals very late in September of that year.

Can ya dig it: I'm pretty certain Norman is wearing a Dodgers uniform in this photo. There's no way Topps would have been able to get a photo of him as a Cardinal at such a late date (you had to wait for later series to be issued for that).

Right on: The rough borders on this card match Norman's unkempt look in the photo. I like it.

You see that cat Norman is a bad mother: Norman was a regular member of the pitching staff for the Big Red Machine. Between 1973 and 1979 he won in double figures for the Reds every single year.

Shut your mouth: Norman probably wasn't even a Cardinal when most kids pulled this card out of packs. He was traded to the Padres in June of 1971.

No one understands him but his woman: Norman pitched for 14 pro teams in his first 11 years in baseball.

(A word about the back): All of those 1970 stats, except for one game, one inning pitched, and one hit, were achieved with the Dodgers.

Friday, November 7, 2014

no. 347 - ted uhlaender

Who is the man: Ted Uhlaender had completed his first season with the Indians in 1970, after being traded from the Twins in a big six-player deal that sent Graig Nettles to the Indians and Luis Tiant to the Twins.

Can ya dig it: That does not appear to be an actual bat that Uhlaender has in his hands. Some sort of weighted, on-deck deal, I'm guessing.

Right on: Uhlaender is wearing a chaw in his cheek, which he is also featuring on some of his other cards, most notably his 1968 Topps card, which was one of the first '68s I ever saw ("what weird names players had back then," I remember thinking).

You see that cat Uhlaender is a bad mother: Uhlaender hit .283 in 1968. That was good enough for FIFTH in the American League that year. In 2014, .283 in the AL would get you 44th place. So that story I read last year about how much the offense was struggling is bunk.

Shut your mouth: Uhlaender was a catcher growing up. After getting to the majors, he was able to convince some the people back home in Texas that he was still a catcher. "We're close to the Mexican border and our newspapers are always early editions so they don't have boxscores," he told the Sporting News.

No one understands him but his woman: Uhlaender's daughter, Katie, is an Olympian in skeleton. She finished fourth in the Sochi Olympics last winter. Uhlaender's death in 2009 shattered, then inspired Katie. She wears her father's NLCS championship ring from the 1972 Reds around her neck, and I admit I get choked up when I see her talk baseball (she knows her stuff) and her father.

(A word about the back): That write-up is practically in a foreign language. "NA Class AAA-West" and "loops" all over the place.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

no. 346 - lum harris

Who is the man: Lum Harris was entering the 1971 season after a disappointing 1970 with the Braves. He had enjoyed his best year as a manager in 1969 for N.L. West champion Atlanta only to see his team fall to 76-86 the following year.

Can ya dig it: Harris looks both mesmerized and terrified. A very odd expression.

Right on: Possibly the bluest eyes I've ever seen on a baseball card.

You see that cat Harris is a bad mother: Harris managed the Braves to their first title while in Atlanta. The Braves clinched the 1969 N.L. West crown on the second-to-last day of the season.

Shut your mouth: Harris was a good friend of Paul Richards since the 1930s when they played together. Through the following decades, as Richards rose through the ranks as a manager and then general manager, he added Harris to his staff, getting him jobs as a manager with the Orioles, Astros and Braves. But in 1972, Richards was reassigned and Harris fired. They never spoke to each other again.

No one understands him but his woman: Harris was the first manager to lead a team that played an entire season under a dome. The 1965 Astros finished in ninth place while playing on dead grass during the first year of the Astrodome.

(A word about the back): Topps goes way back to Harris' minor league pitching days in the bio.

Monday, November 3, 2014

no. 345 - joe horlen

Who is the man: Joe Horlen just came off of his second straight 16-loss season when this card was created. He went 6-16 for the last-place White Sox in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Horlen appears to be shocked by where he threw that ball.

Right on: We are on a streak of two straight cards featuring a player wearing a windbreaker under his uniform.

You see that cat Horlen is a bad mother: Horlen finished second to the Red Sox's Jim Lonborg in the 1967 American League Cy Young Award voting after winning 19 games for Chicago.

Shut your mouth: Horlen was the White Sox's player representative in 1972 when the players staged a strike at the start of the season. The day after players voted to strike, Horlen was released by the White Sox.

No one understands him but his woman: Horlen's first name is actually "Joel" and he's listed as Joel Horlen on the front of all his baseball cards until the 1968 Topps set, when he becomes "Joe". Horlen said that he was always known as "Joe" growing up and he didn't know how media and fans began calling him "Joel".

(A word about the back): The White Sox beat the Tigers 6-0 in Horlen's no-hitter. Chicago scored five of its runs in the first inning, and Horlen drove in the fifth run with a base hit. It came against Johnny Podres.

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.