Wednesday, May 28, 2014

no. 295 - bobby bonds

Who is the man: Bobby Bonds just got finished doing a lot of things when this card hit packs. In 1970, he appeared at the plate 745 times, reached 200 hits for the only time in his career, hit .300 for the only time in his career, stole a career best 48 bases, and established a longstanding record for strikeouts in a season with 189. It amazes me he didn't get a single MVP vote.

Can ya dig it: For a long time, I owned Bonds' second-year card, in the 1970 set. I probably should have never traded it away.

Right on: It appears that Bonds is staring into the distance while standing in Shea Stadium.

You see this cat Bonds is a bad mother: Not only did Bonds become the first to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a single season twice, but he accomplished the 30/30 feat five times. He also brought Barry Bonds into the world.

Shut your mouth: Bonds was always hounded by comparisons to Willie Mays and that word that drives everyone crazy -- "potential." He once said, "all the writers kept talking about was potential. You haven't reached your potential yet, they say. Well, unless you win a Pulitzer Prize, you're not living up to your potential either, are you?"

No one understands him but his woman: By the end of his career, Bonds suffered from image problems. He was accused of being a troublemaker, drug user and drinker. Between 1978 and 1981, he spent no more than one season each with the White Sox, Rangers, Indians, Cardinals and Cubs.

(A word about the back): There's a typo in the write-up. Bonds did not play for both the Western Carolinas League and the Giants in 1970 as the bio says. Bonds actually played in the Western Carolinas League in 1965.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

no. 294 - steve dunning

Who is the man: Steve Dunning was entering his second season with the Indians in 1971. He appeared in 19 games, 17 as a starter, for Cleveland in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Dunning appears to be trying very much to be a wax figure. I'd say he's doing a damn fine job.

Right on: Rookie card!

You see this cat Dunning is a bad mother: Dunning hit a grand slam home run against Oakland's Diego Segui on May 11, 1971. It would be the last grand slam hit by an American League pitcher for 37 years (Felix Hernandez hit the next one in 2008 against the Mets).

Shut your mouth: Dunning threw a one-hitter against the Senators in 1971, prompting manager Ted Williams to exclaim that Dunning's "going to be a pitcher someday." But Dunning would only be a journeyman after '71.

No one understand him but his woman: Dunning's last two Topps cards, in the 1973 and 1978 sets (that's right, they're cards five years apart) both feature him in airbrushed caps. The '78 card shows an airbrushed A's' cap. The '73 cap is more puzzling. Dunning is showed with the Indians, the only team he had played for up to that time, but the cap is an airbrushed Indians cap. I have no idea why.

 (A word about the back): Dunning was the No. 2 overall draft pick in 1970 and you can see by the fact that the "first year in pro ball" line matches the "first game in majors" line that the Indians called him up without a single game in the minors.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

no. 293 - pat corrales

Who is the man: Pat Corrales was entering his fourth year as the Reds' backup to Johnny Bench in 1971.

Can ya dig it: I daresay the chest protector is the star of this card show.

Right on: Those soft caps that catchers wore really demonstrate what a different game it was then. It also makes me feel old because I remember catchers wearing soft caps.

You see this cat Corrales is a bad mother: Corrales was voted to the Topps' All-Rookie team in 1965 despite hitting .224 and striking out 42 times in 174 at-bats.

Shut your mouth: Sports Illustrated famously declared the Indians the "Best Team in the American League" in their preseason issue in 1987. By the end of June, the Indians were in last place. But Corrales said, "Sports Illustrated hasn't been getting my hitters out, and it hasn't been getting hits off my pitching staff." Corrales, the Indians' manager, was fired less than a month later.

No one understands him but his woman: Corrales, managing the Indians in 1984, was explaining his "hot and mad" theory on deciding who to start. He said if it worked out right, the whole lineup would be hot and mad at him. "I think I'm losing my sanity," Corrales said. "I started explaining this to my wife the other day. Finally, she looked at me and said, 'how old are you?'"

(A word about the back): I'd like to see this ratings system of No. 2 catchers.

Friday, May 16, 2014

no. 292 - jay johnstone

Who is the man: Jay Johnstone was preparing for his first season as a Chicago White Sox player when 1971 arrived. He was traded by the Angels in a six-player deal on Nov. 30, 1970.

Can ya dig it: You can see that Johnstone is still wearing his Angels uniform.

Right on: That's a pretty serious shot, sweaty brow and all, of someone who would become known as possibly not having a serious thought in his head.

You see this cat Johnstone is a bad mother: Although Johnstone didn't play as a regular starter that many seasons in his 20-year major league career, he enjoyed some memorable postseason moments. Johnstone's pinch-hit home run in Game 4 of the 1981 World Series for the Dodgers against the Yankees enabled L.A. to come back from a three-run deficit and win 8-7. It was pretty much the turning point of that World Series. Also, Johnstone went 7-for-9 for the Phillies against the Reds in the 1976 NLCS.

Shut your mouth: Johnstone and his fellow Dodgers pranksters, Rick Monday, Jerry Reuss and Steve Yeager, once sang "We Are The Champions" together on "Solid Gold".

No one understands him but his woman: Johnstone's nickname in the majors was "Moon Man," but there are a few different versions of how he received that name.

(A word about the back): Johnstone once said that football was his best sport in high school. He received 35 scholarship offers to play the sport, but he took the Angels' offer to play pro baseball.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

no. 291 - george culver

Who is the man: In 1971, George Culver was preparing to enter his first full season with the Astros after coming over from the Cardinals in a mid-season trade in 1970.

Can ya dig it: That is a nice look at the old Astrodome logo. This is the logo that I associate with the Astros. No other one will do.

Right on: Those stadium levels seem to go on for miles in this photo.

You see this cat Culver is a bad mother: Culver pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies while playing for the Reds in 1968. It was the second game of a doubleheader and the Phillies did manage a run in the game, on a throwing error, a ground out and a sacrifice fly.

Shut your mouth: Culver pitched his last year of pro ball in Japan in 1975. He says that he was supposed to get paid for two years, but the team let him go after one and claimed the deal was two one-year contracts, not a two-year contract. Culver was stunned, saying "this was totally out of character for Japanese. Japan is the only place where you can lay your wallet in the middle of your bed in your hotel room and with money laying all over the place and the Japanese people will walk right into your room and not touch a thing."

No one understands him but his woman: Bill James considered the list of everyone who threw a major league no-hitter and how likely it was for that pitcher to throw a no-hitter. He calculated that Culver was one of the 10 least likely to throw a no-hitter.

(A word about the back): 1968 was really Culver's only season of full-time starting. Excluding 1968, Culver started only 29 games in nine years in the majors.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

no. 290 - tony oliva

Who is the man: Tony Oliva really was the man at this point, enjoying one of the finest runs of his career. He would win the American League batting title in 1971 by hitting .337, the best single-season average of his career.

Can ya dig it: Oliva looks remarkably young on this card, and really on most of his cards.

Right on: Love the Twins uniforms from this time period.

You see this cat Oliva is a bad mother: Oliva was the first player to win Rookie of the Year honors and the American League batting title in the same year. In fact, he was the first Cuban player to win rookie of the year or a batting title.

Shut your mouth: Oliva didn't receive a lot of attention despite his ability. And he wasn't one to draw attention to any discrimination. To this day he is often overlooked.

No one understands him but his woman: There was quite a bit of confusion about who Oliva actually was when he was signed by the Twins. To speed his way out of Cuba, he used his brother Pedro's paperwork and arrived at camp known as "Pedro Oliva." It took him a long time to shake the name "Pedro" and he eventually legally changed his name to Pedro Oliva Jr. Quite frankly, while reading up on Oliva, I'm still confused by the circumstances, what actually happened and what his name actually is.

(A word about the back): 1970 would be the last time that Oliva would lead the league in hits.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

no. 289 - white sox

Who is the man: The Chicago White Sox were not only coming off a sixth-place finish in the six-team American League West entering the 1971 season, but they were trying to shake the memory of being the worst team in the majors in 1970, with a .346 winning percentage.

Can ya dig it: After going more than 250 cards between team cards, it has been a mere 21 cards since the last one. The team cards will be a lot more plentiful now.

Right on: Check out all that blue in the picture. I equate the White Sox with black first and red second (my baseball start came in the mid-1970s). Blue just doesn't compute.

You see that cat Gutteridge is a bad mother: I'm not 100 percent certain, but I believe White Sox manager Don Gutteridge is sitting in the first row, just above the middle bat boy. That's interesting because there is no separate manager card of Gutteridge in the set. He was fired late in the 1970 season and Chuck Tanner, who does have a card in this set, eventually took over.

Shut your mouth: I will now make a feeble attempt to identify some of these last place White Sox. The player at the top left is pitcher Joe Horlen. Two guys to his right is catcher Ed Hermann. And I believe next to Hermann is slugging third baseman Bill Melton. In the second row, the second player from the right, is a pitcher by the name of Billy Wynne. And next to him is another pitcher just as nameless, Gene Rounsaville. In the front row, I think Luis Aparacio is the third guy from the left (his last appearance as a White Sox player on a card). On the other side, third from the right, is Walt "No Neck" Williams.

I guess that wasn't too bad -- if they are correct, that is.

No one understands him but his woman: The poor guy in the suit on the right hand side is half cut out of the photo.

(A word about the back): It's cool that the team record for home runs was broken in the previous year.

Friday, May 2, 2014

no. 288 - joe moeller

Who is the man: Joe Moeller had appeared in a career high 31 games -- 19 of them starts -- in 1970. He would enter his final season in the major leagues on a high note.

Can ya dig it: Come on now, he's not even trying to disguise the fact that he doesn't really have a ball in his glove.

Right on: Since this is a Dodgers card, I have a few dupes of it. I should see if there is one in better shape than this to slip into the 1971 set binder.

You see this cat Moeller is a bad mother: Moeller is the youngest player in Dodger history to start. He was 19 years and 2 months old when he started in 1962.

Shut your mouth: Moeller took quite a bit of resentment from the rest of the Dodgers during his first year. He was a bonus baby and received more money than some of his teammates had made in four years. When it came to divide up year-end bonuses among the players, Duke Snider said Moeller "doesn't need it. He already got a big bonus." Moeller received just a half-share.

No one understands him but his woman: Moeller was an archery champion as a youngster, but he hated the sport because his father made him practice every day until dark. Moeller finally asked his father if he could quit archery if he won a national title. His father agreed. Moeller won the junior national title, and never picked up a bow and arrow after that.

(A word about the back): Moeller had cards as far back as the 1963 set, yet he was only 28 when this card came out.