Tuesday, December 29, 2015

no. 486 - steve huntz

Who is the man: Steve Huntz was coming off the most productive season of his major league career when this card was issued. He played in more than a 100 games for the only time in his career as a backup infielder for the Padres.

Can ya dig it: Huntz may be listed as a Giant, but he never played for the Giants. He was traded from San Diego to San Francisco in December 1970, then shipped from the Giants to the White Sox in March 1971.

Right on: These blacked out caps and helmets aren't nearly as jarring when the player is a Giant. Black hats, you know.

You see that cat Huntz is a bad mother: Huntz played in a whopping 1,332 minor league games for four organizations, the Cardinals, Padres, White Sox and Dodgers.

Shut your mouth: Huntz once hit two home runs in a game off of Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich.

No one understands him but his woman: Huntz was the other player in the trade between the White Sox and the Dodgers that sent Dick Allen to the White Sox and Tommy John to the Dodgers.

(A word about the back): Love the positioning on the head of Huntz's ... um, Giants cap.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

no. 485 - ken mcmullen

Who is the man: Ken McMullen played his first season for the Angels in 1970 after being dealt from the Senators in late April of that year for outfielder Rick Reichart and third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez.

Can ya dig it: Another one of my early favorites from that first group of 1971 cards I obtained as a youngster.

Right on: I was oblivious to this when I first gained the card, but that is an excellent look at how the monuments in Yankee Stadium were in play before it was renovated in the mid-1970s. Since field dimensions were so deep, particularly in Yankee Stadium, it was fairly common to put foul poles and monuments in the outfield. They rarely interfered with play, although it did happen.

You see that cat McMullen is a bad mother: McMullen shed a reputation as a shaky fielder -- he led the league in errors in 1965 -- by establishing several fielding marks. He led AL third basemen in total chances each season from 1967-69 and once tied a record by starting four double plays in a game. He set an AL record with 11 assists in a game against the Red Sox, and was the league's putout leader at third in 1969.

Shut your mouth: McMullen's rookie card is one of my greatest white whales as a Dodger fan because the card is also Pete Rose's rookie card. I never liked that Rose guy.

No one understands him but his woman: McMullen's wife, Bobbie, died of breast cancer at age 30 in early April, 1974, mere months after giving birth to the couple's third child. McMullen continued to play in a backup role for the Dodgers, who wore black armbands in remembrance of Bobbie McMullen.

 (A word about the back): The write-up doesn't specify, but if you were collecting cards in 1971, you knew that Lefty Phillips was the Angels manager.

Monday, December 21, 2015

no. 484 - don wilson

Who is the man: Don Wilson was coming off a bit of a rocky season when this card arrived. A bout with tendinitis in his elbow at the start of the year put him on the disabled list. After striking out 235 batters in 225 innings in 1969, he managed just 94 in 184 innings in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Wilson appears to be unfazed by the photographer taking his picture.

Right on: I just mentioned on the 1985 blog that I so love the old Astros Astrodome logo.

You see that cat Wilson is a bad mother: Wilson had thrown two no-hitters by the time he was 23 years old.

Shut your mouth: Wilson told reporters after his second no-hitter, against the Reds, that he received extra motivation during the game from Reds manager Dave Bristol taunting him from the dugout, calling him "gutless."

No one understands him but his woman: There is much speculation about Wilson's premature death and whether it was a suicide or not. In January 1975, he was found in his car in the garage of their home with the motor running, and his death, caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, was ruled accidental. Wilson's wife, Bernice, found Wilson unresponsive in the car. Police reported that she had an injured jaw, and her stories about how she received the injury changed, although she was sedated during most of her statements, having also suffered effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. She later quit cooperating with authorities and there is speculation that a domestic dispute between the two happened before the discovery of Wilson's body.

(A word about the back): Wilson's club record for strikeouts was broken by J.R. Richard nine years later when he struck out 303 batters. Richard then broke his own record with 313 whiffs in 1979.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

no. 483 - gene michael

Who is the man: After getting the Yankees' hopes up by batting .272/.364/.705 in 1969, Gene Michael was coming off a .214/.255/.548 season when this card was issued. It was all talk about his glove from this point forward.

Can ya dig it: "Stick" is swinging a stick!

Right on: This is the eighth action photo for the Yankees so far in this set. I'd wager they have the most, but I'll have to match them up against the Royals, Angels, A's and Mets.

Shut your mouth: Michael was known for his ability to pull off the hidden ball trick. According to a Baseball Digest article, he executed it successfully twice in one game against the Royals.

No one understands him but his woman: Michael nearly considered trading Mariano Rivera to the Tigers while working as the Yankees' GM in 1995. Rivera was struggling and barely hitting 90 mph on the radar gun. But new reports, right around the time Michael was talking to the Tigers about obtaining David Wells, said Rivera was hitting 95 consistently. Michael pulled Rivera from consideration.

 (A word about the back): Michael pitched 3 innings of relief against the Angels on Aug. 26, 1968. The Yankees were getting pounded and it was the second game of a doubleheader in what would be 3 consecutive days of doubleheaders for New York.

Monday, December 14, 2015

no. 482 - padres

Who is the man: The Padres were 11 games better in 1970 than their expansion season the previous year, but still finished last in the NL West. It was the second of six straight last-place finishes.

Can ya dig it: The team might be posing behind one of the on-deck circles.

Right on: Bring back the Swinging Friar.

You see that cat Gomez is a bad mother: The Padres' first manager, Preston Gomez, appears to be sitting in the center of the front row, fifth from the right.

Shut your mouth: Again, no numbers on the front of the jerseys so it's a little tough identifying players.

No one understands him but his woman: I'm throwing a guess out there and saying the tall fellow in the back at the far left is pitcher Earl Wilson. Wilson was at the end of his career when he came to the Padres and went 1-6 for San Diego.

(A word about the back): Every player with a team record on this list was on the 1970 Padres team, except for Joe Niekro and Frank Reberger. Both were traded after the 1969 season.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

no. 481 - daryl patterson

Who is the man: Daryl Patterson had completed his third season as a relief pitcher for the Tigers when this card came out. But he probably wasn't a Tiger anymore when this card hit packs. He was traded to Oakland in May of 1971 and then purchased by the Cardinals the following month.

Can ya dig it: From where Patterson is looking, his fake pitch may have sailed over the fake right-handed hitter's head.

Right on: This is Patterson's final card.

You see that cat Patterson is a bad mother: Patterson pitched in two games of the 1968 World Series during his rookie year. He pitched three innings, allowed just one hit and didn't allow a run.

Shut your mouth: Patterson was the victim in a famed brawl incident during his final year in 1974. As a member of the Pirates, Patterson was pinned to the ground by the Reds' Pedro Borbon. Borbon pulled out some of Patterson's hair then bit him in the side. The Pirates gave Patterson a precautionary tetanus shot.

No one understands him but his woman: Patterson started just three games in his career. His final start was Sept. 30, 1971 against the Mets and Tom Seaver. Patterson lost the game and Seaver won his 20th of that season.

(A word about the back): OK, floating heads on cards never bothered me, but this one is a little creepy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

no. 480 - manny sanguillen

Who is the man: Manny Sanguillen was coming off a season in which he finished third in the National League with a .325 batting average. But he was overshadowed by fellow NL catcher Johnny Bench, who had an MVP season in 1970.

Can ya dig it: A one-of-a-kind photo with this card. I don't know what Sanguillen is doing, but it seem like he's taking dinner orders for the entire stadium.

Right on: Love the double-hat look. That's a '70s/'80s staple.

You see that cat Sanguillen is a bad mother: Sanguillen hit .379 in the Pirates' victory in the 1971 World Series. He produced 11 hits and also caught every inning of all seven games.

Shut your mouth: Sanguillen's name was pronounced "San-GHEE-yen" when he played, but the Spanish pronunciation is actually "Sangee-YEN." The accent is over the "e" in his name.

No one understands him but his woman: Sanguillen was a very enthusiastic player, who swung at almost everything. He was sometimes accused of being a "hot dog" for the way he played.

(A word about the back): Sanguillen started his pro career in the New York-Penn League in Batavia, N.Y., a town I know very well. He's talked about not being able to speak English and trying to order in a Batavia restaurant. I'm dying to know which restaurant it is because I'll bet I've been in it.

Friday, December 4, 2015

no. 479 - dennis higgins

Who is the man: Dennis Higgins spent his first and only season with the Indians in 1970. He was traded from the Senators in December 1969. But by the middle of 1971, Higgins was already a St. Louis Cardinal.

Can ya dig it: For the second straight card, we have someone in a catcher's crouch in the background.

Right on: "Dennis Higgins" sounds like someone who would try to sell me a car.

You see that cat Higgins is a bad mother: Higgins was the closer for the Senators in 1969, the year that first-year manager Ted Williams led the team to an unexpected fourth-place finish. Higgins saved 16 games.

Shut your mouth: In 1998, members of the 1969 Senators club reunited in Washington, including Higgins and a wheelchair-bound Williams. Higgins presented a ball to Williams and asked if he would sign it. Williams did and then asked Higgins, 59 at the time, "What's the most difficult pitch to hit?" Higgins responded, "the slider." Williams smiled, "I knew you'd remember."

No one understands him but his woman: Higgins closed out the Senators' season-opening game against the Yankees in 1969 in Washington. He threw a scoreless ninth inning. It was part of 5 1/3 scoreless innings by Senators relievers. But the Yankees had scored eight runs in the first four innings and won 8-4.

(A word about the back): These parenthetical phrases that have nothing to do with the rest of the sentence are hurting me. "A veteran of American Legion ball, Dennis had 11 Saves out of the Tribe bullpen, 1970." So we just jumped about 15 years in a single sentence.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

no. 478 - bernie carbo

Who is the man: Bernie Carbo finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1970 but was entering what would be a sophomore slump of a season.

Can ya dig it: This was one of the prized cards of my budding 1971 collection when I was a teenager.

Right on: I believe I can see a catcher crouching for a pitch in the batting cage behind Carbo.

You see that cat Carbo is a bad mother: Carbo's three-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series set up Carlton Fisk's famous game-winning blast in the 12th inning.

Shut your mouth: When Carbo was traded to the Indians by the Red Sox in 1978, Carbo's good pal Bill Lee staged a walkout, calling Red Sox management "gutless" for not informing Carbo of the trade before he left the park after the game. This was also the same conversation in which Lee called manager Don Zimmer "a gerbil."

No one understands him but his woman: After his career, Carbo went to cosmetology school and operated a hair salon for eight years.

(A word about the back): The Sporting News named Expos pitcher Carl Morton the Rookie of the Year in 1970, so "Rookie Player of the Year" must have been something different.