Tuesday, June 27, 2017

no. 674 - expos

Who is the man: The Montreal Expos were in the middle of their third season of existence when this card was issued. The 1970 season was a bit more promising after an expansion year in which the Expos finished a whopping 48 games behind the first-place Mets. Sure, the Expos were still last in 1970, but they ended up just 16 out of first when the season finished.

Can ya dig it: I can't tell you how pleased I am to know that this photo was taken at 5:10 in the afternoon.

Right on: Having the players in the second row sit was not standard procedure for team photos at the time. It really makes the third row ... um ... stand out.

You see that Mauch is a bad mother: Manager Gene Mauch, like just about all of the managers in these team photos, is sitting dead center in the front row. He is No. 4.

Shut your mouth: Let's ID some Expos! Sitting on the far right in the front row is Ron Fairly. Past and future manager Dick Williams is two spots to the left of Mauch. Sitting to the left of Williams is Le Grand Orange, Rusty Staub. Now, let's go to the back row, starting from the second guy from the left. That's outfielder Jim Gosger. After that is someone named Fred Whitfield. Next to him is Marv Staehle (the guy airbrushed as an Atlanta Brave just a few cards ago) and then the famed John Bateman. After that it's pitchers Howie Reed and Steve Renko, Rich Nye, Adolfo Phillips, Mike Wegener, Mack Jones and Bob Bailey.

No one understands him but his woman: The Expos jackets -- I hope they're satin -- are wonderful. I'm glad we get to see a glimpse of them.

(A word about the back): You can see that 13 team records were set in 1970, six of them by Staub.

Friday, June 23, 2017

no. 673 - gerry janeski

Who is the man: Gerry Janeski was coming off his rookie season when this card was issued. He appeared in a whopping 35 games for the 1970 White Sox, going 10-17 for a team that won just 56 games.

Can ya dig it: The comically painted red cap makes this card look ancient to me, as if it's from a time long, long ago. The longer I look at it the sillier it looks.

Right on: This is Janeski's only Topps card.

You see that cat Janeski is a bad mother: Janeski threw a complete-game shutout in his second major league start. It came against the Oakland A's in Oakland and Janeski allowed just three hits. A grand total of 2,901 in the stands saw it.

Shut your mouth: Janeski was known as "the wheat germ kid" as a rookie. He took wheat germ and liver pills and other vitamins, ran three miles a day and did 70 push-ups at a time.

No one understands him but his woman: Janeski is listed as "Gerry" here and on baseball-reference, but almost everywhere else, he is "Jerry".

(A word about the back): Janeski tied for the league league in wins in 1969 while pitching in the Red Sox organization. He pitched in the minors for the Red Sox for five years until he was sent to the White Sox as compensation for an earlier trade. Boston earlier dealt pitcher Billy Farmer to the White Sox, but Chicago soon found out Farmer had a sore arm as the pitcher quit after tossing a few balls during the first spring workout because the pain in his arm was so intense.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

no. 672 - ed crosby

Who is the man: Ed Crosby made his major league debut in 1970, appearing in 38 games for the Cardinals with a .253 average in 95 at-bats.

Can ya dig it: I like how the bird is peaking out of the bottom right corner.

Right on: Rookie card!

You see that cat Crosby is a bad mother: Crosby was part of an impressive crew of Wilson High School (Long Beach, Calif.) alumni playing in the major leagues at the same time in the early 1970s. The others were Bobby Grich, Jeff Burroughs, Bob Bailey and Casey Cox.

Shut your mouth: Crosby scouted for the Orioles after his playing career. When the Orioles drafted Cecil Fielder out of high school in the 31st round in 1981, Crosby visited the Fielder house and said to him, "Cecil, stay in school." The Orioles didn't bother to offer Fielder a bonus.

No one understands him but his woman: Crosby is the father of 2004 American League Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby.

(A word about the back): 1971 Topps is capitalizing on the fact that nobody had the internet then. Crosby may have hit .360 on the road in 1970, but he hit .133 at home.

Monday, June 19, 2017

no. 671 - bill voss

Who is the man: Bill Voss played in 80 games for the Angels in 1970. He was dealt to the Brewers in January of 1971 in exchange for pitcher Gene Brabender, who was just featured five cards ago. At least Topps was able to get Voss in his proper uniform.

Can ya dig it: This is perhaps the best view yet of one of the Twin Buttes that is the backdrop for Tempe Diablo Stadium. It sits behind left field.

Right on: I'm happy to finally see a Brewers player who is not pictured in Yankee Stadium.

You see that cat Voss is a bad mother: Voss' first major league hit was a home run off of the Tigers' Denny McLain in 1965. He later hit a triple off of McLain in the same game.

Shut your mouth: Voss suffered a multitude of injuries and illnesses during his career. Angels manager Lefty Phillips once said of him, "Bill is a very valuable player to us, but he just doesn't have the stamina to play every day."

No one understands him but his woman: Voss was known for being small in stature. During one effort to gain weight, Voss' wife made him malted milks for breakfast and then again as a late-night snack.

(A word about the back): Voss is a Halloween baby.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

no. 670 - bill hands

Who is the man: Bill Hands was coming off the best three-year period of his career when this card was issued. A year after winning 20 games for the 1969 Cubs, he won 18 in 1970. He'd never win more than 12 the rest of his career.

Can ya dig it: It looks like Hands is warming up along the bullpen sideline before or during a game.

Right on: That crease is much more visible on the scan. It doesn't look too bad in my hands (ha).

You see that cat Hands is a bad mother: Only Fergie Jenkins won more games (21) than Hands for the 1969 Cubs. His 2.49 ERA that year was the second lowest for any Cubs starter since World War II.

Shut your mouth: Hands' nickname was "Froggy" and came about when players noticed how much his delivery resembled that of Don Larsen. Larsen was often called "Big Froggy," so Hands was called "Little Froggy" and then later just "Froggy."

No one understands him but his woman: Hands, who died in March, owned and operated a gas station on Long Island for a long time after his career. It was a popular place and many people knew him only as the service station owner because he didn't talk about his baseball career much.

(A word about the back): The Cubs trade sent pitcher Lindy McDaniel and outfielder Don Landrum to the Giants for Hands and catcher Randy Hundley.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

no. 669 - ike brown

Who is the man: Ike Brown played in 56 games for the Tigers in 1970, his second year in the majors after eight seasons in the minors.

Can ya dig it: As you can tell, this card is significantly off-center. With the high numbers, you sometimes take what you can get.

Right on: Brown is listed as a second baseman here, but he was really a man without a position. He played regularly at every nonpitching position except for catcher and center field.

You see that cat Brown is a bad mother: Brown did play all nine positions in a single game in the minor leagues.

Shut your mouth: Brown was often mistaken as the brother of Tigers teammate and roommate Gates Brown. They weren't related.

No one understands him but his woman: Brown was one of the last remaining former Negro League players in the major leagues. When he retired in 1974, only Hank Aaron was left.

(My observation on the back): Love those glasses ... Brown's first home run came off of the Yankees' Mike Kekich in the fourth inning. It was the second game of a doubleheader and the Tigers swept.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

no. 668 - gary neibauer

Who is the man: Gary Neibauer spent most of the 1970 season with Triple A Richmond, appearing in just seven games with Atlanta. It was quite a come down from the 1969 season when he pitched in 29 games for the Braves.

Can ya dig it: Here is another well-crafted signature that puts modern ballplayers' signings to shame.

Right on: This photo is the one that's used on Gary Neibauer's baseball-reference page. There are quite a few baseball card photos used on baseball-reference. Just shows you how available cards are in comparison to other kinds of photos.

You see that cat Neibauer is a bad mother: Neibauer pitched one inning in mop-up duty in Game 2 of the 1969 NLCS, an 11-6 victory for the Mets. Neibauer was the only one of six pitchers used by the Braves to surrender no runs in at least an inning of work.

Shut your mouth: Neibauer speaks like a proud MLB alumnus when he says about baseball, "There's nothing like it. Its grace. Its beauty. The sport continues to thrill me to no end."

No one understands him but his woman: Neibauer served on a special Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association committee that helped many former major leaguers who played between 1947-79 to finally receive pensions.

(A word about the back): The Basin League was a league in South Dakota that lasted from 1953-73. The teams consisted of college and minor league players and featured such players as Jim Palmer, Bob Gibson, Don Sutton and Frank Howard.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

no. 667 - pete ward

Who is the man: Pete Ward had wrapped up his major league career when this card was issued. He played his final season in 1970 with the Yankees.

Can ya dig it: This is Ward's only Topps card in a Yankees uniform. He's featured with the Yankees in the 1970 set but is airbrushed out of a White Sox uniform. (Why, oh why, did Topps interchange between "Yankees" and "Yanks" in the '70 set?)

Right on: The centering issue here is a common trait of this card. I have no desire to upgrade it though.

You see that cat Ward is a bad mother: Ward enjoyed a terrific rookie season in 1963, hitting 22 home runs, knocking in 84 and batting .295.

Shut your mouth: Ward was scheduled to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated in early June, 1965 and a cover was even created. But it was pulled very late in order to feature the famed fight between Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay.

No one understands him but his woman: Ward is often mistakenly called the Rookie of the Year for 1963, but he finished second in the voting to teammate, pitcher Gary Peters. The confusion comes because Ward was voted the top rookie that year by The Sporting News.

(A word about the back): Ward's birth year is now listed as 1937.

Monday, June 5, 2017

no. 666 - gene brabender

Who is the man: Gene Brabender pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970 (it explains his appearance here in Yankee Stadium as many of the Brewers were photographed in Yankee Stadium for this set). He struggled tremendously, posting a 6.00 ERA in 29 games.

Can ya dig it: This is the fourth straight card with an airbrushed cap and once again we have the bright blue-red painted combination that was some artist's idea of a logoless Angels cap.

Right on: Brabender never pitched for the Angels. He didn't make the club out of spring training in 1971 and again in 1972.

You see that cat Brabender is a bad mother: Brabender, known as "Lurch" for his 6-foot-5 hulking stature, is featured often in Jim Bouton's "Ball Four". When the Seattle Pilots players were thinking up nicknames for the jovial Brabender, catcher Larry Haney mentioned how he saw Brabender bend in half the stakes that were used to pound in bases. Pitcher Gary Bell then suggested they call Brabender "Sir".

Shut your mouth: Both Brabender and his Orioles teammate Brooks Robinson liked to tell a story about when some players went out to dinner and were served by an obnoxious waiter in New York. The players didn't leave much of a tip and the waiter confronted the players about it. Brabender put his hand on the waiter's shoulder and said, "How far do you want to get tipped?"

No one understands him but his woman: Brabender was the first Wisconsin native to play for the Brewers.

(A word about the back): Brabender's expansion victories record of 13 was equaled in 1977 by the Blue Jays' Dave Lemanczyk and then surpassed in 1998 by both the Diamondbacks' Andy Benes and the Devil Rays' Rolando Arrojo when each won 14 games.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

no. 665 - ron swoboda

Who is the man: Ron Swoboda spent all of 1970 with the New York Mets. He was traded to the Expos at the end of March 1971. And then he was dealt to the Yankees four months later. I don't know when the final series of this set was released, but I think Swoboda may have been a Yankee by the time this card was in packs, meaning the airbrushing was all for naught!

Can ya dig it: Quite the combination, an Expos hat and Mets pinstripes.

Right on: Compared with the airbrushings on the previous two cards, this one is pretty good.

You see that cat Swoboda is a bad mother: Swoboda is famous in Mets lore for his outstretched, diving catch of a Brooks Robinson liner to right field with two runners on base in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 1969 World Series. The Mets would win that game 2-1 in 10 innings.

Shut your mouth: In the 1966 movie, "Penelope," starring Natalie Wood, Wood's character opens a pack of what appears to be 1966 Topps cards after requesting some gum from Peter Falk's character, a police lieutenant. As she opens it, she asks, "Who's Ron Swoboda?" Falk's character says dismissively, "I just chew the gum."

No one understands him but his woman: Swoboda owned the Mets record for most home runs hit by a rookie (19) until Darryl Strawberry broke it with 26 in 1983.

(A word about the back): If it wasn't for that Series catch, Swoboda might have been best know for his home runs in Carlton's 19-strikeout game.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

no. 664 - rookie stars pitchers

Who is the man: From left to right, we have three guys who spent most of their time in Triple A in 1970. Archie Reynolds appeared in 7 games with the Cubs and the rest of his time in Triple A Hawaii. Bob Reynolds spent all of '70 in Triple A, with Buffalo. And Ken Reynolds made his first four MLB appearances in 1970, but appeared in 29 games with Triple A Eugene.

Can ya dig it: This, right here, is proof that Topps has (or had) a sense of humor. For maybe the only time a rookie stars card is not categorized by team, position or league, but by name. Somebody at Topps apparently noticed three pitchers named Reynolds on their way up and thought it would be amusing to put all three on the same card but make no reference to the fact that they were doing it.

Right on: To add to the amusement, Archie is wearing the brightest hand-drawn cap ever. I suppose this is the artist's idea of an Angels cap as Archie went from the Cubs to the Angels.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: It may be the most unusual rookie card ever, but no I can't call any of them bad-ass. Collectively, they had five solo cards.

Shut your mouth: I mentioned this on the 1975 blog, but it's worth saying again. Bob Reynolds was involved in a famous dust-up with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson. When Robinson was the player/manager for the Indians, he sent Reynolds down to the minors. Later that same spring, Reynolds faced Robinson in an exhibition game. He yelled out to Robinson asking him why he was sent down. Robinson responded by coming across the field and knocking him off his feet with a punch. Reynolds later said it was a misunderstanding.

No one understands him but his woman: Ken Reynolds became a physical education teacher after his baseball career and said that he enjoyed his teaching career much more than his baseball career.

(A word about the back): All of them were born in January. I still think there's a Topps employee out there who has a chuckle every time he sees this card.

Friday, May 26, 2017

no. 663 - marv staehle

Who is the man: Marv Staehle was coming off, by far, his busiest season, appearing in 104 games for the Montreal Expos in 1970. That's 72 more games than he played in any other of his seven big-league seasons.

Can ya dig it: Well, here is one of the more memorable cap airbrushings in the entire set. Instead of making Staehle look like a ballplayer, he instead looks like he's delivering milk.

Right on: This is Staehle's only solo Topps card. He appears three times on two-player rookie stars cards, in 1965, 1966 and 1969. In only one of them is he wearing an actual, non-airbrushed cap (1965).

You see that cat Staehle was a bad mother: Staehle played in 1,239 games in the minors, compiling 1,286 hits and batting .286. He led the South Atlantic League in hitting in 1963 with a .337 average for Nashville.

Shut your mouth: Staehle remembers one at-bat in Nashville when he hit a foul ball down the third base line that sailed into the concession stand and hit a large mustard jar, splattering fans with mustard.

No one understands him but his woman: Staehle's final season was with the Braves. He and teammate Hank Aaron would walk to the ballpark together during road games. Imagine that.

(A word about the back): They didn't even dare airbrush an Atlanta logo on the cap. Odd.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

no. 662 - mike hedlund

What a card: Mike Hedlund was in the midst of by far his best major league season when this card was issued. Hedlund started 30 games in 1971, nearly twice as many in any other year of his career, and went 15-8 with a 2.71 ERA.

Can ya dig it: It's not quite as visible as it is on some of his other cards, but Hedlund really had some red hair.

Right on: I sure do miss seeing ballplayers milling about in the background of baseball card photos.

You see that cat Hedlund is a bad mother: Hedlund's first major league appearance came as an 18-year-old for the Indians in 1965. During a May 8 game against the Red Sox he relieved Floyd Weaver after Weaver gave up a three-run home run to Tony Conigliaro, Hedlund retired Carl Yastrzemski on a ground out and Eddie Bressoud on a fly ball to finish the inning.

Shut your mouth: To illustrate how different it was for pitchers back then, Hedlund said in an interview that when he was with the Indians, his pitching coach was Early Wynn, and Wynn told him, "when I hand you the ball, I want you to pitch 300 innings."

No one understands him but his woman: Hedlund was one of several major leaguers who went over to Vietnam in the offseason on a goodwill tour, visiting soldiers during the Vietnam War. Hedlund visited in 1971, along with players like Bob Gibson, Graig Nettles, Dock Ellis and Bobby Bonds.

(A word about the back): That's some nice research in the bio.

Monday, May 22, 2017

no. 661 - chuck tanner

Who is the man: Chuck Tanner received his first manager card after being hired for the final 16 games of the Chicago White Sox's 1970 season. The team went 3-13 under him.

Can ya dig it: This marks Tanner's return to Topps cards after his last card as a player in the 1960 set.

Right on: This is also the first Topps appearance of the White Sox's red caps and red pinstripe uniforms. All of the previous '71 White Sox cards showed players in the blue-and-gray duds from 1970. But you can tell this photo was taken in 1971 because that's the year the new red uniforms debuted.

You see that cat Tanner is a bad mother: Tanner was the manager of the Pirates' "We Are Family" World Series championship team in 1979.

Shut your mouth: Tanner was fired by the Pirates in 1985 after a terrible season in which the team was plagued by drug scandal. Tanner said later, "I would've fired myself."

No one understands him but his woman: Tanner was manager for the A's in 1976 when he was traded to the Pirates for catcher Manny Sanguillen and a bunch of cash. It's one of just three instances in which a manager was traded.

(A word about the back): Topps apparently missed some players because looking at a few different sites now tells me there were six players to hit a home run on their first major league pitch before Tanner did it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

no. 660 - ray culp

Who is the man: Ray Culp was pitching in what would be the last of his four straight seasons of double-figure victories when this card was issued. He won 64 games between 1968-71.

Can ya dig it: That collar, created from the windbreaker under his uniform, makes it appear as if Culp is participating in something more formal than a ball game.

Right on: I remember seeing Culp's 1969 Topps card, looking at the back, and thinking, "hey, this guy is good." Outside of the superstars, I knew very little about 1960s players as a kid. Culp was one of the first notables that I discovered.

You see that cat Culp is a bad mother: Culp pitched seven straight complete-game victories to close out the 1968 season, including four straight shutouts. His final shutout was a one-hitter against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium.

Shut your mouth: Culp tied an MLB record in 1970 by striking out the first six batters he saw in a game against the Angels. But the Angels won the game, 2-1, in 19 innings.

No one understands him but his woman: Culp played a part in the Phillies' famous 1964 collapse by not playing a part. Depending on your source, Phillies manager Gene Mauch skipped over Culp in favor of repeatedly starting Jim Bunning and Chris Short on two days' rest because Culp was hurt or Mauch was mad at Culp. The Phillies' catcher at the time, Clay Dalrymple, said Mauch held a grudge against Culp because Culp gained 10 pounds during the season.

(A word about the back): That's quite the praise by the bio writer. It's true that the Red Sox fleeced the Cubs by obtaining Culp for minor leaguer Bill Schlesinger. A lot of time has passed since 1971 though and the Red Sox did acquire Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek from the Mariners for Heathcliff Slocumb.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

no. 659 - byron browne

Who is the man: Byron Browne played in 104 games for the Phillies in 1970, his most playing time since his rookie year in 1966.

Can ya dig it: Now that's keeping your head down through a swing. You have to look up eventually, sir!

Right on: This is Browne's final card.

You see that cat Browne is a bad mother: Browne was named to Topps' All-Rookie team in 1966 and can be seen preparing to annihilate his rookie trophy on his 1967 Topps card.

Shut your mouth: Browne led the league in strikeouts with 143 in 120 games in 1966 and his reputation for whiffing followed him to several major league stops. His wikipedia page cracks wise by saying, "to some cynics, his chief contribution was the refreshing breeze on hot and humid South Philadelphia evenings which emanated from his regular swings and misses.[citation needed]"

No one understands him but his woman: Browne's first major league at-bat came during Sandy Koufax's perfect game against the Cubs on Sept. 9, 1965. Browne lined out to deep center field.

(A word about the back): A ninth-inning grand slam to beat the Padres on my birthday? I think I've found a new favorite player.

Friday, May 12, 2017

no. 658 - paul lindblad

Who is the man: Paul Lindblad continued to be a workhorse for the A's in 1970, appearing in 60-plus games for the second straight year as an integral part of the team's bullpen.

Can ya dig it: Unlike many throwing poses from the time, Lindblad is holding onto the ball. He's going to dazzle you with his grip.

Right on: Check out that splendid signature. Can you imagine any current player unveiling such a careful signature?

You see that cat Lindblad is a bad mother: Lindblad appeared in three games in the 1973 World Series, a couple in crucial situations, and posted a 0.00 ERA in 3 1/3 innings to help Oakland to a second straight Series championship.

Shut your mouth: The following year, the A's returned to the postseason and won a third straight World Series, but Lindblad didn't appear in a single game because the Oakland starters were so dominant. Of course, that would never happen today.

No one understands him but his woman: Lindblad was fond of coin collecting and purchased a metal detector, bringing it with him on road trips.

(A word about the back): This doesn't have to do with the back, but before I forget, Lindblad was traded to the Senators in early May 1971. One of the player the A's received in exchange was Mike Epstein, who was just featured three cards ago.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

no. 657 - jose azcue

Who is the man: Jose Azcue had completed his second season with the Angels when this card was issued, appearing in 114 games for the Angels.

Can ya dig it: Azcue looks quite animated on this card, even happy. But the Angels wouldn't make him happy in 1971. Upset over the Angels' contract offer, Azcue sat out the entire 1971 season.

Right on: This is the final card of Azcue issued during his playing career.

You see that cat Azcue is a bad mother: Azcue led American League catchers in fielding percentage in 1967 and 1968. When he retired, his .992 percentage was second only to Elston Howard among catchers all-time. (Azcue is now 45th all-time).

Shut your mouth: Azcue was referred to as "Joe" on his Topps cards from 1962 through 1969.

No one understands him but his woman: Azcue lined into the first unassisted triple play in 41 years when Senators shortstop Ron Hansen made history on July 29, 1968.

(A word about the back): My attempt to find out how many catchers have caught at least two no-hitters, without spending an hour on research, has failed. One day when I have more free time I'll do the research and then no one will have to endure my same frustration.

Monday, May 8, 2017

no. 656 - gerry nyman

Who is the man: Gerry Nyman spent the majority of the 1970 season pitching for the Triple A Salt Lake City Bees. He appeared in just two games for the Padres.

Can ya dig it: As you can tell by Nyman's UPS cap, he was traded. The White Sox sent him to San Diego in late March 1970.

Right on: Nyman is also listed as a Padre but visibly wearing a White Sox uniform on his 1970 Topps card. Nyman just didn't spend enough time in the majors to be captured in San Diego uniform.

You see that cat Nyman is a bad mother: Nyman, who appeared in just 30 games in his major league career, threw a one-hit shutout against the Senators on May 17, 1969. He gave up only a second-inning single to Washington's Brant Alyea.

Shut your mouth: Nyman remained in baseball after his playing career as a longtime pitching coach for several organizations. He became known for his very brief visits to the pitching mound. Once he came out to the mound and asked the pitcher where he was from. "Cincinnati," the pitcher said. Nyman then said, "Do you know what amnesia is?" And before the pitcher could respond, Nyman was headed back to the dugout.

No one understands him but his woman: Nyman is referred to as "Gerry" on his Topps cards, but he is called "Jerry" throughout his coaching career and in current record-keeping.

(A word about the back): Honestly scraping the bottom of the barrel with some of these high-numbered guys. Two games and a 16.20 ERA. Sheesh.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

no. 655 - mike epstein

Who is the man: Mike Epstein didn't perform quite as well in 1970 as he did in 1969, but he still struck for 20 home runs.

Can ya dig it: The Senators cards simply go with this design. Another great one.

Right on: I'm a little surprised Epstein isn't airbrushed for this card since this is the sixth and final series. He was traded to the A's in early May of 1971. Maybe that wasn't enough time, I don't know when the final series was put to bed.

You see that cat Epstein is a bad mother: Epstein was the leading hitter on the U.S. baseball team that won the gold medal in the 1964 Olympics.

Shut your mouth: Epstein's nickname was "Superjew," which seems terribly inappropriate today but was embraced by Epstein when it was given to him by minor league manager Rocky Bridges.

No one understands him but his woman: Epstein became sick of the Orioles constantly sending him down to the minors (he was blocked at first base by Boog Powell and couldn't adapt to the outfield), and when he was sent down again just before the 1967 season, he refused to report. Instead, he and his wife went to his native New York and stayed with his grandmother. He was traded to the Senators two months later.

(A word about the back): I enjoy how the bio mentions that Epstein grew up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium and the photo on the front shows him in Yankee Stadium.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

no. 654 - don shaw

Who is the man: Don Shaw was purchased by the Cardinals from the Expos in May of 1970. Shaw played the entire 1970 season in the minors and didn't play all that much even there. He broke his hand two weeks after the trade.

Can ya dig it: Shaw, no doubt, is wearing an Expos uni.

Right on: Another one of those hatless 1971 Topps cards that when I saw them as a kid, I thought, what a strange world it was back in 1971.

You see that cat Shaw is a bad mother: Shaw picked up the first victory in Montreal Expos history, coming on in relief of a pitcher that was just featured on this blog.

Shut your mouth: Shaw enjoyed an unexpected resurgence for the Cardinals in 1971 with career bests in appearances (45) and ERA (2.65). He credited it to talks with Warren Spahn, who managed Shaw in Tulsa in 1970. "Spahnie would work with me when I warmed up," he said.

No one understands him but his woman: Shaw's pitching fell apart the very next year after his '71 breakout. He was traded to the A's early in the 1972 season and performed poorly in a deep Oakland bullpen. By 1974, he was out of baseball.

 (A word about the back): Nothing but zeroes for 1970. I know flagship sets where that would be enough to leave the player out of the set. But not 1971 Topps.

Friday, April 28, 2017

no. 653 - russ snyder

Who is the man: Russ Snyder played his final major league season in 1970, joining his fourth major league team for one year with the Brewers.

Can ya dig it: Snyder's follow through on his swing is similar to the pose on his 1967 card.

Right on: This is the final card of Snyder issued during his career.

You see that cat Snyder is a bad mother: Snyder played for the World Series champion Orioles in 1966 and led the American League in hitting at the All-Star break that year with a .347 average. He finished the season at .306.

Shut your mouth: Orioles manager Hank Bauer said of Snyder: "Nobody notices him until he beats their brains out."

No one understands him but his woman: Snyder was an exceptional fielder but is all but forgotten. His diving catch ended the game that clinched the 1966 pennant for Baltimore.

 (A word about the back): The "two pinch-singles in one inning" is interesting. That is something that can no longer happen, only because official baseball records now credit a batter for only one pinch-hit appearance. If that player comes up again the same inning, he is considered batting for himself and is no longer a pinch-hitter.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

no. 652 - braves

Who is the man: The Braves, just like their 1969 NL championship series foe, the Mets, endured a disappointing season in 1970, although the Braves' was much worse. They finished 76-86, a full 17 games behind their record in 1969.

Can ya dig it: I'm not sure what I'm looking at behind the team, but I'm assuming its the roof to the grandstand at the minor league park.

Right on: I still say these uniforms are the sharpest the Braves ever wore.

You see that cat Harris is a bad mother: The photo reproduction is a little hazy so I'm not sure who exactly is manager Lum Harris. Either the sixth or seventh guy from the right (Update.: I just found the same image with IDs on ebay. Harris is the seventh guy from the right.

Shut your mouth: Thanks to the handy ebay photo I can tell you that Hank Aaron is the second guy from the right in the middle row and he's standing next to Dusty Baker. Phil Niekro is the third guy from the right in the back row. Ralph Garr is the third guy from the left in the middle row and Hoyt Wilhelm is two guys to the right of Garr.

No one understands him but his woman:  I was informed in this post that the diminutive man seated on the far left in the first row is Donald Davidson, the team's 4-foot-tall traveling secretary and apparently an organization legend.

(A word about the back): These numbers show how the Braves were a bad team for a long time. Aaron, Mathews and Spahn did their best to revive the team in the 1950s.

Monday, April 24, 2017

no. 651 - jerry robertson

Who is the man: Jerry Robertson had already played his final major league game when this card appeared in packs. He was traded from the Tigers to the Mets in March of 1971 and spent the year pitching for Triple A Tidewater. So he never played an actual game for the Mets.

Can ya dig it: This is one of the more prominent airbrushed caps in the 1971 Topps set. For starters, it's color-coded. And it's very close up. We'll see more of this look as the set moves along.

Right on: I wonder if the guy behind Robertson can tell us what team Robertson is really playing for here? I suspect it's the Tigers, Robertson's 1970 team. The guy in the background looks like a Tiger.

You see that cat Robertson is a bad mother: Robertson pitched in the first Montreal Expos game, throwing 1 1/3 innings of relief in the Expos' 11-10 win over the Mets on April 8, 1969. Robertson would finish the season with the best earned-run average (3.96) of any regular Expos starting pitcher.

Shut your mouth: The Topeka Golden Giants, a summer collegiate league baseball team in Kansas in 2010, renamed their field after Robertson during a ceremony on June 2 of that year. Robertson, a native Kansan, died in a car accident in 1996.

No one understands him but his woman: After the season in the minors in 1971, Robertson left baseball to become the assistant executive director of the Topeka YMCA and then became the executive director. He later was the athletic director at Washburn University, his alma mater.

(A word about the back): The "Life" line displays Robertson's final career major league statistics.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

no. 650 - rich allen

Who is the man: This is "Rich" Allen's first and only Topps flagship card picturing him with the Dodgers. He does appear on a few oddball issues from the time in a Dodger uniform (such as 1970 Topps Super and 1971 Dell Stamps).

Can ya dig it: One of the finest Los Angeles Dodger cards for my money. There is a nice view of Dodger Stadium in the background as Allen poses on the on-deck circle (or as if he's on the on-deck circle). What appears to be the knee of the photographer is at lower left.

Right on: This is the second of three Topps card in which Allen is referred to as "Rich," which is what his signature read at the time. Despite that, Topps called him "Richie" from 1964-69. He became "Dick Allen" on Topps cards in the 1973 set. (Allen complained about being called "Richie" as early as his rookie year).

You see that cat Allen is a bad mother: Allen won the 1964 National League Rookie of the Year Award with the Phillies and the 1972 American League MVP award in his first year with the White Sox.

Shut your mouth: Allen was involved in an ugly incident with teammate Frank Thomas in 1965 that started the friction with Philadelphia fans that lasted until he was traded four years later. Allen objected to a remark that Thomas made during batting practice and words led to Allen punching Thomas and Thomas hitting Allen with a bat. Thomas was waived after the game, angering Phillies fans, who blamed Allen for the incident. Five days after the blow-up, Allen hit his first career grand slam, a blast off of a 75-foot high scoreboard at Connie Mack Stadium. The same fans who booed him during the game gave him a standing ovation.

No one understands him but his woman: In September of 1974, a year in which Allen led the AL in home runs, he announced his retirement to his teammates. But Allen never filed the proper paperwork. The White Sox traded him to Atlanta in December, but Allen refused to play there and was traded from the Braves back to the Phillies.

(A word about the back): I'm thinking that's an earlier photo of Allen. He's not wearing the mustache he displays on the front of the card.