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.

Monday, October 13, 2014

no. 338 - gene tenace

Who is the man: Gene Tenace played in 38 games for the A's in 1970, spending most of the season with the Triple A Iowa Oaks.

Can ya dig it: That No. 38 on his jersey looks ginormous.

Right on: First solo card! He appears with Vida Blue on a Rookie Stars card in the 1970 Topps set.

You see this cat Tenace is a bad mother: Tenace was the 1972 World Series MVP, helping Oakland to its first world championship. He was the first player to hit home runs in each of his first two World Series at-bats.

Shut your mouth: Tenace's name appears in the movie "Anchorman," as sportscaster Champ Kind describes his catch phrase: "Gene Tenace at the plate and whammy!"

No one understands him but his woman: Tenace was threatened by a man with a gun at the 1972 World Series. After Tenace hit his first home run, a man behind home plate started telling fans around him that if Tenace hit another one, the man would shoot Tenace. A woman alerted the police, who found a loaded revolver on the man. For the rest of the Series, FBI agents followed Tenace wherever he went and his family couldn't see him. Ten years later, at the 1982 World Series, Tenace received a letter from the same man apologizing for what he had done.

 (A word about the back): That .305 average in 1970 would be the only time Tenance hit above .300 in a season during his 15-year career.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

no. 337 - jesus alou

Who is the man: Jesus Alou had just completed his second season with the Astros when this card was created, spending time as Houston's primary right fielder.

Can ya dig it: I don't know what going on in the background with those two guys in the dugout. The one on the left is obviously a pitcher with his right arm protected. The Astros had a lot of pitchers with uniform numbers in the 40s in 1970, so I'm guessing this is Larry Dierker (49), but it could be Jack Billingham (42), Ken Forsch (43), Buddy Harris (46) or a couple others.

Right on: What a stance. If I batted like that, I'd fall over.

You see this cat Alou is a bad mother: Out of the three Alou brothers, all quite talented, Jesus was considered to have the most talent of all.

Shut your mouth: Jim Bouton said Alou was one of the "most sensitive, nicest men I've ever met. He'd walk a mile out of his way to drop a coin in some beggar's cup."

No one understands him but his woman: When Alou first came up with the Giants, a San Francisco paper asked readers for ideas on what to call Alou because they couldn't possibly call him "Jesus" in stories.

(A word about the back): The writeup doesn't mention that his .667 batting average included all of three at-bats in four games in 1959.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

no. 336 - tigers

Who is the man: After six years of prosperity and a World Series title, the Tigers suffered their first losing season since 1963, going 79-83 in 1970. Manager Mayo Smith was shown the door after the season.

Can ya dig it: Those are some beautiful old style seats in the background. They look about as comfortable as cement steps.

Right on: Guys in suits don't belong in team photos.

You see that cat Smith is a bad mother: I believe Mayo Smith is seated in the middle of the first full row, which is the customary position for the manager in a team photo. Good to see he's protecting his crotch here.

Shut your mouth: Since the Tigers don't feature uniform numbers on the front of their jerseys, I'm going to forgo trying to identify anyone here. Eagle eyes are more than welcome to take a shot.

No one understands him but his woman: When Smith was fired, he surprisingly fumed about the Tigers fan base, saying, "The baseball fans in this town are ignorant. They couldn't tell a baseball player from a Japanese aviator. And that's a quote."

(A word about the back): The Tigers were setting one team pitching record per season at this point. In 1970 it was games pitched, in 1969 it was shutouts, and in 1968 it was strikeouts.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

no. 335 - jerry koosman

What a card: Jerry Koosman had completed his third full season with the Mets when this card arrived in packs. It wasn't as flashy as his first two seasons (all-star rookie, World Series-winning pitcher) as he endured injuries that would follow him for the next couple of seasons.

Can ya dig it: This might be my only card in the set that is suffering from border loss. I've had a heck of a time with condition and this card. The Koosman card before this one looked like someone had balled it up in his pants pocket.

Right on: Koosman looks thrilled.

You see this cat Koosman is a bad mother: Koosman pitched a complete-game victory in the clinching game of the 1969 Miracle Mets' World Series. The pinnacle of baddom right there.

Shut your mouth: Mets teammate Ron Swoboda remembers Koosman as a tough pitcher. "Jerry Koosman threw a 90-plus fastball, and when he hit you, you stayed hit ... And Koosie would hit ya."

No one understands him but his woman: Koosman is the last pitcher to lose 20 games the year after he won 20 games. It happened in 1976 and 1977.

(A word about the back): As a kid, I would have loved to have been born on Dec. 23rd. As a youngster, I always considered that the dullest day of the year.