Tuesday, June 30, 2015

no. 427 - bernie allen

Who is the man: Bernie Allen had completed his fourth season with the Senators when this card was issued. He shared time at second base with Tim Cullen in 1970.

Can ya dig it: I'm guessing the dude in yellow shirt and brown pants is a sportswriter. He has that sportswriter feel (and he's holding what could be a notebook).

Right on: Allen is one of those people who doesn't dot the "I" in his name. I don't know how you keep yourself from doing that.

You see that cat Allen is a bad mother: Allen finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1962 while playing for the Twins.

Shut your mouth: Allen was a quarterback for Purdue in the late '50s/early '60s. He also kicked field goals and in 1960, his field goal beat No. 3 Ohio State. After the game, Allen went looking for Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, who had told him he was too small to play in the Big Ten. "I just wanted to ask him if I was too small to play, but he just took off and ran away from me," Allen said.

No one understands him but his woman: Allen is kind of the forgotten man at second base for the Twins in the 1960s. He took over for Billy Martin at second in 1962. And Allen relinquished the second base job to Rod Carew in 1967.

(A word about the back): Very odd that Topps is mentioning that Allen is the team's player rep. I wonder how many times that's appeared on the back of a baseball card?

Friday, June 26, 2015

no. 426 - chris cannizzaro

Who is the man: Chris Cannizzaro was coming off the most productive season of his 13-year major league career. In 111 games in 1970, he batted .279, 59 points higher than the previous year in which he was an All-Star.

Can ya dig it: See the two guys in the background? I wonder if the guy on the right is leaning over to spit?

Right on: If Cannizzaro was a player today, I shudder to think what his signature would look like. That autograph there is pretty awesome.

You see that cat Cannizzaro is a bad mother: Cannizzaro was the first Padre ever named to the All-Star Game.

Shut your mouth: Cannizzaro caught all 23 innings of a game the Mets played against the Giants on May 31, 1964.

No one understands him but his woman: Casey Stengel, known for mispronouncing, or plain just forgetting his players' names, referred to Cannizzaro as "Canzoneri".

(A word about the back): Cannizzaro is among 10 catchers to have two unassisted double plays in his career. Cannizzaro is one of only two catchers to perform the feat in back-to-back seasons. But Frank Crossin (1914) and Jorge Posada (2000) did it twice in the same season.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

no. 425 - doug rader

Who is the man: Doug Rader was coming off one of his most productive power seasons (career-high 25 home runs) and his first Gold Glove season when this card was released.

Can ya dig it: I think Rader is harboring some tobacco.

Right on: The pitcher is in front of you, Doug, not over at third base. Then again, he's batting from behind the on-deck circle, so I'd be confused where to look, too.

You see that cat Rader is a bad mother: Rader won five straight Gold Gloves at third base between 1970-74.

Shut your mouth: Rader was a notoriously unpopular manager for both the Rangers and Angels. When he was let go by the Angels, outfielder Devon White said: "I was happy when Doug got fired, I'm not going to lie."

No one understands him but his woman: Rader in a famed TV interview with former major leaguer Jim Bouton, advised Little Leaguers to eat the bubble gum in their baseball card packs, but also to eat the cards, too. "They should only eat the cards of the good ballplayers. Say you got a kid who's 5-foot-1. Let him eat a Willie McCovey card. Willie's 6-4. The kid may grow. You never can tell."

(A word about the back): Rader's .333 batting average in his first season came in 47 games and 162 at-bats.

Monday, June 22, 2015

no. 424 - roberto rodriquez

What a card: This is the first and only solo Topps card of Roberto Rodriguez. He spent his 1970 season with three different major league teams, pitching for the A's, Padres and Cubs.

Can ya dig it: Notice that Topps refers to Roberto as "Rodriquez," with a "Q". This, after he appeared on multi-player rookie stars cards in both the 1968 and 1969 sets as "Rodriguez," spelled with a "G".

Right on: Rodriguez didn't pitch for the Cubs until late June 1970. But there he is in a Cubs uniform. Good job, Topps.

You see that cat Rodriguez is a bad mother: Rodriguez pitched for a long time in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. He was the first pitcher in league history to achieve 50 career wins and 50 career saves.

Shut your mouth: Rodriguez didn't play in another major league game after this card was issued. He was in the Cubs' minor league system through 1974.

No one understands him but his woman: Rodriguez was nicknamed "Pluto," according to his wikipedia page. I could find no reason why.

(A word about the back): As a catcher for Daytona Beach in the Florida State League in 1963, Rodriguez batted a mere .173 in 133 at-bats.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

no. 423 - tigers rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Dennis Saunders and Tim Marting spent most of 1970 playing in the minors. Marting spent all of 1970 with the Tigers' Triple A team in Toledo. Saunders played in Toledo as well as in Double A Montgomery, Ala.. He also appeared in eight games for the Tigers.

Can ya dig it: This is the fourth one of these Rookie Stars cards in which neither player would have another card. Rookie Stars? Ha!

Right on: This is the second Tigers Rookie stars card in the set. The players on the first one fared better than these two did.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: Nope, nope and nope. No wonder the Tigers would go in the tank four years from the time this card appeared with rookies like this. Both players were out of baseball by the time 1972 was done.

Shut your mouth: Marting worked in a degree at Florida Southern College while he was playing in the minors for the Tigers. Single at the time, he told the paper in Toledo, "There's no way I could work a wife into my schedule."

No one understands him but his woman: Saunders looks like he's going to be sick.

(A word about the back): Topps doesn't tell you that Marting's .308 batting average at Lakeland in 1967 came in 15 games.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

no. 422 - frank bertaina

Who is the man: Frank Bertaina spent time with both the Orioles and Cardinals organizations in 1970. He did most of his work with Baltimore's Triple A team in Rochester, N.Y. He was purchased by the Cardinals on Aug. 14, 1970.

Can ya dig it: It stuns me that Topps has a card of Bertaina in a Cardinals uniform given the late date at which he came over to the Cardinals -- he pitched in just eight games for them.

Right on: This is the final card of Bertaina's career.

You see that cat Bertaina is a bad mother: Bertaina's first major league victory was a 1-0 complete-game one-hitter against the Kansas City A's in 1964. Pitching for the Orioles, Bertaina allowed a fifth-inning double to A's catcher Doc Edwards and that was it.

Shut your mouth: Orioles reliever Moe Drabowsky gave Bertaina the nickname "Toys in the Attic," because of Bertaina's quirky behavior.

No one understands him but his woman: Bertaina's first solo Topps card is in the 1965 set. Then, in the 1966 Topps set, he appears on a three-player rookie card with Davey Johnson and Gene Brabender. I'm not sure if that's happened any other time.

(A word about the back): Click on the images and you'll see this card isn't in great condition. It's one of the '71 cards I traded for back in the late 1970s. It's a bit of a rarity because most of the '71 cards I got in the deal came from the first three series.

Friday, June 12, 2015

no. 421 - john stephenson

Who is the man: John Stephenson played a mere 23 games for the San Francisco Giants in 1970, batting a dismal .070. He was picked up by the Angels in the Rule 5 draft in November 1970.

Can ya dig it: Stephenson is wearing a Giants uniform in this photo.

Right on: Thanks to the blacked-out cap, Stephenson looks like your friendly neighborhood milkman.

You see that cat Stephenson is a bad mother: Not a lot of badness to be found in Stephenson's career. I guess the fact that he lasted 10 years in the majors despite a career .216 batting average and not being known as a particularly standout defensive catcher is pretty bad ass.

Shut your mouth: Stephenson, a backup catcher for the Mets for three years in the mid-1960s, caught Nolan Ryan after Ryan was first signed during a workout. Yogi Berra, Warren Spahn and a scout were there with Stephenson. "They told (Ryan) to throw a fastball, but they didn't tell me," Stephenson said. "He hit me on the left side of my collarbone and I had to miss a week."

No one understands him but his woman: Stephenson was also the catcher for Ryan's first major league strikeout.

(A word about the back): The write-up mentions Stephenson was the final batter to face Jim Bunning during his perfect game, but doesn't have the heart to tell you what happened in the at-bat. Stephenson struck out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

no. 420 - jim merritt

Who is the man: Jim Merritt was coming off a 20-win season for the Cincinnati Reds. He also started the final game of the World Series against the Orioles, but was yanked in the second inning after giving up four runs. Baltimore would go on to beat the Reds, 9-3, and win the Series.

Can ya dig it: I don't know where Merritt is, but he looks like he's practicing in a coliseum.

Right on: Despite Merritt's success with the Reds and the Twins, I always think of him as a Ranger, because his 1975 Topps card -- his final card -- was the first one of his I pulled.

You see that cat Merritt is a bad mother: Merritt won 17 games in 1969 despite leading the league in earned runs and home runs allowed.

Shut your mouth: Merritt was fined for allegedly throwing spitballs during a victory against the Indians in 1973. After the game, Merritt said he threw about 25 "Gaylord fastballs," in reference to noted baseball lubricator Gaylord Perry.

No one understands him but his woman: Merritt struck out seven straight batters in 1966, which at the time tied an American League record. It was surpassed by the Yankees' Ron Davis in 1981, which I just mentioned on my most recent post on the 1985 Topps blog.

(A word about the back): I see that Merritt has something in common with Steve Garvey, also a former bat boy for the Dodgers.

Monday, June 8, 2015

no. 419 - ron hansen

Who is the man: Ron Hansen completed his first season with the Yankees in 1970, appearing in 59 games as a utility infielder.

Can ya dig it: Hansen looks like he's holding a toothpick for a bat.

Right on: Great look at Yankee Stadium on this card.

You see that cat Hansen is a bad mother: Hansen was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1960 when he played for the Orioles.

Shut your mouth: Hansen was traded for second baseman Tim Cullen twice in the same year (White Sox to the Senators and then the Senators to the White Sox). It was the first time in major league history that had happened.

No one understands him but his woman: Hansen is one of just 15 major leaguers to turn an unassisted triple play. For a long time in my fandom, he was the most recent player to perform that feat as there was no one to do it between Hansen's UTP in 1968 and Mickey Morandini's in 1992. But it has happened five times since 2000.

(A word about the back): Hansen's .297 batting average for the Yankees in 1970 was by far his highest season batting average. The second highest was .261 in 1964.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

no. 418 - adolfo phillips

Who is the man: Adolfo Phillips played in 92 games for the Expos in 1970, batting .238. He would spend all of 1971 in the minor leagues and had just 12 more games in the majors.

Can ya dig it: Topps didn't list full names on the back of its cards in 1971, so Phillips provides it himself!

Right on: Final card!

You see that cat Phillips is a bad mother: Phillips hit four home runs in a Cubs doubleheader against the Mets in 1967.

Shut your mouth: Phillips had a world of talent that intrigued baseball men like Leo Durocher. The Cubs manager raved about Phillips when the Cubs acquired him from the Phillies in the deal that also netted Ferguson Jenkins in 1966. "This much I know," Durocher said, "Adolfo is the best center fielder the Cubs have had in a lot of years."

No one understands him but his woman: Phillips, who is from Panama, was accused of not giving his best effort several times during his career. A sensitive sort, Phillips underwent stomach surgery late in his career to take care of an ulcer.

(A word about the back): Phillips' birth year was listed as 1942 during his career and printed that way on his baseball cards, but it is now recorded as 1941.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

no. 417 - dick hall

What a card: This is the last card of Dick Hall issued during his career. He pitched in 27 games during the 1971 season when he was the oldest player in the majors (41).

Can ya dig it: Hall is 6-foot-6 and you get an excellent idea of his height with the shot from below.

Right on: Hall looks like a tough guy in this photo, a real hard thrower. But he actually was a control artist. Batters thought they could hit him, then they didn't.

You see that cat Hall is a bad mother: Hall is one of my favorite types of players. He appeared on a card both as a hitter and a pitcher. The Pirates converted him to a pitcher after the 1954 season.

Shut your mouth: Hall came on in relief in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the 1970 World Series and quelled a Reds rally. During the game, Johnny Bench yelled at Hall, "How can you be out there with that garbage?"

No one understands him but his woman: Hall married a woman from Mexico who he met when he was playing in the country. She didn't speak English, so Hall had to speak Spanish to her. Later he would interpret teammates' quotes for the Latin press during World Series games.

(A word about the back): First game in majors: 1952. I know that's not the earliest start for players in this set because Willie Mays is in the set.