Monday, February 23, 2015

no. 382 - jake gibbs

Who is the man: Jake Gibbs was entering his final season in the majors when this card arrived. In fact, he said in June of 1971 that he'd retire at the end of the season. This is the last card of him issued during his career.

Can ya dig it: This card has a few problems. The name and team lettering appears "smeared" and the bottom left edge appears as if it touched white paint.

Right on: Gibbs looks like he's about to swing in front of Orioles catcher Elrod Hendricks. (the catcher's cap and shin guards initially looked red to me, but Hendricks was one of the few black catchers around then. On closer inspection those are orange shin guards).

You see that cat Gibbs is a bad mother: Gibbs was the favorite player of former Orioles manager Dave Trembley when he was a kid. Trembley told me that when I interviewed him for a story.

Shut your mouth: Gibbs was a star quarterback in college and chose baseball over pro football even though he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and Houston Oilers. "I never had any regrets about choosing baseball," Gibbs said in Maury Allen's book "Yankees: Where Have You Gone?" "I knew I would have a longer career in baseball than in football, and I did."

No one understands him but his woman: Gibbs is the Yankees starting catcher link between Elston Howard and Thurman Munson.

(A word about the back): After his retirement, Gibbs returned to Ole Miss for good, becoming the baseball coach and working there until 1990. He retired with 485 victories.


  1. Since the hat and stirrups appear red to me, I believe that they're playing the Washington Senators. African American catchers from 1970 on the Senators included Paul Casanova and John Roseboro.

    1. I believe you're right. I didn't think of the Senators so I did some research:

      In 1970, Gibbs played against the Senators at Yankee Stadium on July 4 and 5 and the Senators catcher was Paul Casanova.

      The only game he played against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium was Sept. 1 and the Orioles catcher that day was Andy Etchebarren.

  2. This is a card I appreciate much more now than I would have when I was 12 years old and buying packs from this set. Back then I would have thought, "Jake Gibbs. Who is Jake Gibbs?" (although I would have been impressed by his stat line in only 153 at bats). Now I think it's an excellent action shot - Jake staring intently and beginning his swing, just enough of the catcher to make him part of the shot but not enough to distract from the main subject, all set against the backdrop of the crowd. Amid the many substandard photos in this set, this one is a gem.