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.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

no. 649 - sparky lyle

Who is the man: Sparky Lyle enjoyed another season as one of the best left-handed relief pitchers in the game in 1970, although he managed to lose seven of the eight games in which he received a decision.

Can ya dig it: Every card of Lyle with short hair and no bushy mustache is bizarre. It's like I'm looking at a completely different person.

Right on: I wonder if he's standing in front of the Green Monster?

You see that cat Lyle is a bad mother: Lyle was the first reliever to win the American League Cy Young Award, receiving the honor while with the Yankees in 1977.

Shut your mouth: Lyle's book, "The Bronx Zoo," which he wrote with Peter Golenbock, is the first sports tell-all book that I ever knew or read. It was an eye-opener as I was 13 at the time.

No one understands him but his woman: Lyle was a big defender of manager Billy Martin. Facing Martin's critics in The Bronx Zoo, Lyle said, "This team could have never become what it did without Billy Martin."

(A word about the back): Lyle was signed by scout George Staller after that 17-inning game. Lyle didn't even pitch all 17 innings in the game. For three innings, he played first base.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

no. 648 - mets rookie stars

Who is the man: Of the three players here, Jon Matlack was the only one who had not reached the majors by 1971. Both Rich Folkers and Ted Martinez played briefly with the Mets in 1970, spending the rest of the season in Triple A Tidewater. Matlack pitched the entire 1970 season at Tidewater.

Can ya dig it: Three Mets caps. I like it. No airbrushing. No hatless dudes. It's a rarity with the rookies stars cards in this set.

Right on: This is the fourth three-player team rookie card, which started relatively late in the set (No. 576). I'm interested to see which teams get one of these and which don't. So far the Cubs, Cardinals, Indians and Mets have one.

You these rookies are bad mothers: Nope. Talk to me in 1981 when Matlack has been in the league for a decade.

Shut your mouth: Matlack gave up Roberto Clemente's 3,000th hit and he wasn't too happy about it. He had no idea Clemente was nearing the record and he was more upset that he gave up the double. As they stopped the game to present Clemente the ball, Matlack fumed on the mound. "I was just an oblivious rookie," he admitted later.

No one understands him but his woman: Martinez, a native of the Dominican Republic, had difficulty overcoming the language barrier according to several reports. In Tug McGraw's book "Screwball," he recounted a time during Martinez's rookie year when McGraw motioned to Martinez, playing shortstop, that he was going to attempt to pick off the runner at second. Confused, Martinez cried out "no comprendo!" causing manager Gil Hodges to storm out of the dugout and yell at McGraw.

(A word about the back): Folkers' stats list just five games in the minors in 1970, and he appeared in just 16 games for the Mets. Folkers missed all of the 1969 because he was serving in the military. I'm wondering if he missed part of 1970 for the same reason.

Friday, April 7, 2017

no. 647 - juan pizarro

Who is the man: Juan Pizarro spent the 1970 season in the minor leagues for the A's and Angels until he was dealt to the Cubs in July. He then pitched 12 games in relief for Chicago.

Can ya dig it: That's a pretty great photo of the veteran pitcher.

Right on: Pizarro looks really sweaty.

You see that cat Pizarro is a bad mother: Pizarro was a strikeout artist during his starting days with the White Sox in the early 1960s. He led the American League in strikeouts per nine innings in 1961 and 1962.

Shut your mouth: Pizarro's nickname was "Terin," which came out of childhood when kids in the neighborhood compared him to the main character in the action-adventure comic strip, "Terry and the Pirates".

No one understands him but his woman: Pizarro was branded as moody and a troublemaker by people who didn't understand the native Puerto Rican. But Hank Aaron mentioned in his book "I Had A Hammer" that he thought that the Milwaukee Braves would have won more titles if they hadn't traded Pizarro to the White Sox. "We needed young pitchers to take over for Spahn, Burdette and Buhl and we never came up with them."

(A word about the back): 318 strikeouts in one minor league season. Can you imagine?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

no. 646 - bobby floyd

Who is the man: This is Bobby Floyd's first card as a Kansas City Royal. The Orioles traded him to Kansas City to reaquire reliever Moe Drabowsky in mid-June of 1970.

Can ya dig it: This photo is almost dizzying. It's so tightly cropped and shot from an angle. Plus the card is diamond cut, which isn't helping matters.

Right on: "Infield" is correct. Floyd played regularly at second, short and third.

You see that cat Floyd is a bad mother: Floyd went 14-for-43 (.326) in his first at-bats for the Royals when he was called up to the majors in September 1970.

Shut your mouth: When Floyd was coaching for the Mets in 2004, his home in Port St. Lucie, Fla., was destroyed by Hurricane Frances.

No one understands him but his woman: Floyd fielded the ground ball that led to the final out of Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer's no-hitter on Aug. 13, 1969. Oakland's Larry Haney grounded to Floyd at shortstop, who flipped to second baseman Don Buford, who forced out the A's Tommie Reynolds for the final out. Reynolds had walked (Palmer walked three batters in the 9th to load the bases before Haney's groundout).

(A word about the back): Those are some paltry stats for 1970. Topps was really going for the all-inclusive set in the early '70s.

Monday, April 3, 2017

no. 645 - jim maloney

Who is the man: Jim Maloney suffered an injury early in the 1970 season that would ultimately lead to the end of his career. He tore the Achilles tendon in his left leg while running out a ground ball during his second start of the season for the Reds, and he didn't return to the field until September.

Can ya dig it: Maloney was traded to the Angels in December 1970, but he's still wearing the Reds pinstripes in this photo.

Right on: It took me a long time to realize that the player on this card was the same Jim Maloney who starred for the Reds during the 1960s. He looks so different here from those '60s cards where he's in full Reds uniform with his arm outstretched.

You see that cat Maloney is a bad mother: Maloney averaged 18 victories and 235 strikeouts over a four-year period for the Reds between 1963-66.

Shut your mouth: There was friction between Maloney and the Reds, in part because Maloney didn't hesitate to hold out for a better contract. "You know what makes this game really tough?" he said once. "There's no security and no friendships. Hell, if my arm goes tomorrow, you think I'll still be with the Cincinnati Reds?"

No one understands him but his woman: Maloney appears in the 1972 Topps set as a St. Louis Cardinal as the Cardinals signed him January of 1972. But they released him three months later and he never pitched for St. Louis.

(A word about the back): Maloney is credited with just two no-hitters now. He no-hit the Mets for 10-plus innings but lost the game in the 11th. He was credited for a no-hitter in that game until MLB changed the rules in 1991 and scrapped it from the list.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

no. 644 - jim stewart

Who is the man: Jim Stewart produced in his usual role as a "super sub" for the Reds, playing in the outfield, infield and even catching one game in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Stewart's giving you the ol' bunting pose but he doesn't seem completely sure of himself.

Right on: Stewart is referred to as "Jim" on all of his Topps cards until his final card in 1973, when he's listed as "Jimmy". I guess by then, Topps was certain no one would confuse him with the actor.

You see that cat Stewart is a bad mother: Stewart was the best pinch-hitter (13-for-39) for the National League champion Reds in 1970.

Shut your mouth: Stewart was part of the Reds' 1969 backup crew that called themselves the "Red Raiders". Stewart, and players like Woody Woodward and Chico Ruiz, would pride themselves on being able to fill in capably for the stars on the team. Reds manager Dave Bristol said: "I love them all. They're always pulling for the other guy. Never griping."

No one understands him but his woman: Stewart married his wife, Donna, when she was 19. They stayed married for 51 years, right until Stewart's death in 2012.

(A word about the back): Stewart's catching appearance was actually on Aug. 9th, the first game of a doubleheader against the Dodgers in L.A. It was in the eighth inning and the Dodgers had just gone ahead 4-3 against the Reds' Don Gullett. Stewart caught Gullett and Gullett's replacement John Noriega in what turned out to be a four-run inning for the Dodgers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

no. 643 - rick reichardt

Who is the man: Rick Reichardt played mostly for the Washington Senators in 1970. He was traded from the Angels on April 27 of that year after just nine games in a deal for third baseman Ken McMullen. The Senators then traded Reichardt to the White Sox in February 1971.

Can ya dig it: You know how much I dislike cards of players without caps, but at least the bat on the shoulder somewhat evens out the caplessness.

Right on: This photo is likely from the same photo shoot as the one that appears on his 1967 Topps card, as you can see the Angels colors on his collar. It's also likely from the same photo shoot as Reichardt's 1968 and 1969 cards. Four of Reichardt's last five Topps cards show him looking to the left with a bat on his right shoulder.

You see that cat Reichardt is a bad mother: Reichardt was known as the richest bonus baby of all-time when the Angels won a bidding war by paying $200,000 in 1964. The bidding frenzy is often credited for starting MLB's amateur draft.

Shut your mouth: The write-up on the back of Reichardt's 1967 Topps card begins thusly: "In case you're wondering where the next superstar is coming from, cast an eye at the California Angels' Rick Reichardt."

No one understands him but his woman: It's a mystery why Reichardt did not appear on a Topps baseball card after his '71 card was issued. Reichardt enjoyed one of his best seasons in 1971 but didn't appear in the very large 1972 set. He also played enough in 1972 to show in the 1973 set and you could argue for his inclusion in the 1974 set, too. I wonder if it was a licensing deal (much like Rusty Staub at the same time)?

(A word about the back): Fifty-six major leaguers have hit two home runs in an inning. But at the time Reichardt accomplished the feat, only 13 players had.

Friday, March 24, 2017

no. 642 - jim roland

Who is the man: Jim Roland was in the middle of a career revival as a long reliever when this card was issued. An injury in a collision with catcher Ray Fosse shortened his season in 1970, but he still posted a 2.70 ERA in 28 games.

Can ya dig it: The only guy I know of from this time period who wore a white windbreaker under his uniform. No commonplace blue, black or red for Jim.

Right on: I like Roland's cards so much that I named him a "Legend of Cardboard" on my main blog.

You see that cat Roland is a bad mother: Roland's 12-inning performance for the Twins against the Yankees in 1964 is the third longest stint by a Twins starter in franchise history. Only Jim Merritt (13) and Camilio Pascual (12 2/3) have pitched longer.

Shut your mouth: In 1967, an Associated Press story called Roland "one of the most disappointing investments (Twins owner) Calvin Griffith ever made."

No one understands him but his woman: Roland pitched the final game against the Seattle Pilots, gaining the 3-1 victory with a career-matching nine strikeouts.

(A word about the back): Not much to mention here, so I'll just say that Roland's 1970 ERA is now 2.70 according to official records.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

no. 641 - mets

Who is the man: The Mets were not so miraculous in 1970, coming down from their World Series championship high in 1969 to finish third in the NL East.

Can ya dig it: I'm assuming this photo was taken outside since I see grass. The white background, though, makes it look like it's inside somewhere. Maybe they simply erected one of those white backdrops behind the team.

Right on: Trainers/clubhouse men bookend the bottom row.

You see that cat Hodges is a bad mother: Manager Gil Hodges is seated in the middle of the second row, fifth from the left.

Shut your mouth: Finally some visible numbers. They stuck the poor coaches on the ground. Yogi Berra is the third guy from the left in the first row. Rube Walker is the third guy from the right. I hope it didn't take them too long to get up afterward. In the second row, catcher Duffy Dyer is three guys from the right. In the third row, the first guy on the left is Tommie Agee and he has his hands on the shoulders of the player in front of him. I don't know who that is, but I think the guy next to him is infielder Al Weis. In the top row, Tom Seaver is third from the left. Ron Swoboda is standing next to Seaver and Jerry Koosman is next to Swoboda.

No one understands him but his woman: I think the player to the left of Seaver is Donn Clendenon even though Clendenon wore No. 22 and the number here appears to be 28, which isn't listed on the 1970 Mets roster. I don't know who else it could be (Ken Singleton wore No. 29 and was the tallest guy on the Mets --6-4 -- but the guy next to Koosman looks more like Singleton).

(A word about the back): Tenth, tenth, tenth, tenth, ninth, tenth, ninth, FIRST.

Monday, March 20, 2017

no. 640 - frank robinson

Who is the man: Frank Robinson was in the midst of what would be his final season with the Baltimore Orioles when this card was issued. He'd be traded to the Dodgers in December, 1971.

Can ya dig it: These superstars that were issued in the high numbers are a bitch to track down. It's almost unfair putting guys like this in the sixth series (*cough* kind of like stashing all the stars in the Heritage SPs).

Right on: I love Robinson's Dodger cards. There are so few.

You see that cat Robinson is a bad mother: The only player to win an MVP in both the AL and NL. That's pure bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Robinson nearly drowned during a swimming party in August 1966. The Orioles delighted in throwing each other into the pool and didn't believe Robinson when he said he never learned to swim. He was thrown in and had to be rescued by catcher Andy Etchebarren.

No one understands him but his woman: Robinson had problems finding a place to live when he arrived in Baltimore in 1966. Segregation dominated the city and Robinson and his wife were turned away repeatedly. One day his wife, Barbara, called Frank in frustration, which caused Frank to threaten to leave Baltimore. The Orioles' team owner found the Robinsons a home.

(A word about the back): When the write-up says "one of only 5 AL batters with .300 lifetime Avg.," I believe it's referring to AL batters who were playing at the time.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

no. 639 - tom haller

Who is the man: Tom Haller was in his fourth and final season with the Dodgers when this card was issued. He was L.A.'s starting catcher for a third straight year in 1970 but didn't play as often as he did in '68 and '69.

Can ya dig it: That is one tight crop on Haller. It's so tight, I've often wondered if Topps was hiding an airbrushing. But Haller had been with L.A. for so long by this time there would be no reason for it. (And it's clearly an L.A. cap).

Right on: Haller is featured on one of the most disturbing Dodger cards in my collection. It's his 1969 Topps card in which he's actually wearing a Giants uniform. It's also the same photo that was used on his 1964 Topps card (5 years prior!).

You see that cat is a bad mother: Haller was known as one of the best defensive catchers of the 1960s and made the All-Star team three straight years between 1966-68.

Shut your mouth: Haller's brother, Bill, was an umpire in the American League. When Haller came over to the Tigers in 1972, they worked behind the plate in the same game on July 14 as Detroit played Kansas City. It was the first time that had happened in MLB history.

No one understands him but his woman: Haller was involved in the first trade between the Dodgers and Giants since the two teams moved to the west coast in 1958. Haller was traded to L.A. for infielder Ron Hunt in February 1968.

(A word about the back): Haller still holds the National League record for most double plays executed by a catcher. Meanwhile, the AL record has stood since 1916.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

no. 638 - stan williams

Who is the man: Stan Williams enjoyed his best season as a relief pitcher -- and possibly as any kind of pitcher -- in 1970. In his 12th season, he set career bests in appearances, earned-run average, winning percentage and a few other newer stats (not known in 1970), like ERA+, WHIP and SO/W.

Can ya dig it: Another photo in Yankee Stadium. I should have counted them all up from the beginning.

Right on: Williams was one year from what I consider his greatest card: his 1972 Topps night card.

You see that cat Williams is a bad mother: Williams was threatening on the mound (he's listed on the back of this card as 6-4 and 225) with a high, blazing fastball. On a Dodger rotation with a roll call of intimidating pitchers, Williams reportedly kept a "list" of batters he wanted to intimidate.

Shut your mouth: Williams had two nicknames. One was "Big Daddy". The other was a nickname that most people associate with a White Sox hitter, the "Big Hurt". Williams was called that because he wasn't afraid to hit batters.

No one understands him but his woman: The game that Williams is most noted for -- the third game of the 1962 playoff series between the Dodgers and the Giants -- contained one of the most second-guessed managerial moves in L.A. history. With the Dodgers ahead by a run with one out but the bases loaded with Giants, the right-handed Orlando Cepeda came to the plate. Walter Alston came to the mound and replaced Ed Roebuck not with lefties Larry Sherry or Ron Perranoski, but with the righty Williams, who was known to be wild. Said Dodgers coach Leo Durocher to catcher John Roseboro, "He'll walk the ballpark." Williams gave up a game-tying sacrifice fly, threw a wild pitch, was ordered to walk batter Ed Bailey to load the bases, then walked Jim Davenport to force in the go-ahead run.

(A word about the back): Williams was an All-Star in 1960, but he didn't play.

Friday, March 10, 2017

no. 637 - dave bristol

Who is the man: Dave Bristol was in his second season as manager of the Brewers when this card appeared in packs. He took over the team when it was still the Seattle Pilots during that limbo period in early 1970 when the team didn't know whether they'd play in Seattle or Milwaukee.

Can ya dig it: This is the highest-numbered card that I received in that trade for my first 1971s when I was a young teen. I remember sorting those cards by number on the floor of my bedroom and placing the Bristol card way to the right of the other cards.

Right on: I do believe Bristol is stowing a chaw.

You see that cat Bristol is a bad mother: Bristol was the youngest manager in baseball when he took over the Cincinnati Reds' job in July of 1966. He was 33.

Shut your mouth: Bristol said he chewed tobacco because he was told a younger manager would look silly chewing bubble gum.

No one understands him but his woman: Bristol's 1977 Braves team lost 16 straight games. Owner Ted Turner put Bristol on a 10-day leave of absence in May and managed the team himself despite no baseball knowledge. After another loss, NL president Chub Feeney intervened and removed Turner, who eventually convinced Bristol to return and manage the rest of the season.

(A word about the back): All of Bristol's winning seasons in the majors came with the Reds, from 1966-69. He was then replaced by Sparky Anderson, and not only did Bristol never register another winning season, but he missed out on the Big Red Machine.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

no. 636 - denny lemaster

Who is the man: After a couple of fairly productive seasons for the lowly Astros, Denny Lemaster fell off in 1970, posting a 4.56 ERA. He wound up in the bullpen and it would be his last season as a starter.

Can ya dig it: Sharp corners, but way off-center and also diamond-cut.

Right on: The signature is very informative. I assumed his full name was Dennis, but it's Denver.

You see that cat Lemaster is a bad mother: Lemaster's most noted game is a matchup against Sandy Koufax on Aug. 9, 1966 while pitching for the Atlanta Braves. Lemaster took a no-hitter into the 8th inning until the Dodgers' Jim Lefebvre hit a home run to tie the game 1-1. But Eddie Mathews made Lemaster a winner by hitting a one-out homer off of Koufax in the bottom of the ninth.

Shut your mouth: The left-handed Lemaster was often considered as the Braves' successor to Warren Spahn and was even referred to as the "Second Spahn" in the press.

No one understands him but his woman: When Lemaster returned home after the victory against Koufax, his wife was in labor. Their fourth child, a daughter, was born the next morning.

 (A word about the back): Lemaster's club record of 37 games started (which he shared with Larry Dierker) was broken by Jerry Reuss, who started 40 games for the Astros in 1973.

Monday, March 6, 2017

no. 635 - bobby murcer

Who is the man: Bobby Murcer produced a second straight hot-and-cold season in 1970 for the Yankees, finishing with 23 home runs and a .251 batting average.

Can ya dig it: That is a pretty regal pose for Bobby Ray Murcer. You could tell New York still expected big things from him from this image.

Right on: Second straight roughed-up card. When the numbers get this high, you take what you can get.

You see that cat Murcer is a bad mother: Murcer is one of 22 major leaguers to hit a home run in four consecutive at-bats. He did it during the 1970 season.

Shut your mouth: Murcer had a running feud with pitcher Gaylord Perry, publicly complaining that Perry threw a grease ball. It was all in good fun until Murcer complained that Commissioner Bowie Kuhn didn't have the guts to do anything about Perry. Kuhn proceeded to fine Murcer ... and did nothing about Perry.

No one understands him but his woman: Murcer was known in the clubhouse for his rocking chairs. He sat in one at his locker no matter where he played.

(A word about the back): The day Murcer hit his four consecutive home runs, a play at the plate that happened during that same doubleheader wound up on another card in this set.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

no. 634 - phil regan

Who is the man: Phil Regan fell on hard times in 1970, posting numbers not seen since his struggling days with the Tigers in the mid-1960s. He'd rebound a bit in 1971, but it was the beginning of the end.

Can ya dig it: Are those umps in the background? Dignitaries? Henchmen?

Right on: This is another one from the group of the first 1971s that I obtained as a young teenager. It's one of the highest numbers. We're getting very close to the highest-numbered card from that first group.

You see that cat Regan is a bad mother: Regan owned a bad-ass nickname, "The Vulture," given to him by Dodgers teammate Sandy Koufax in jest.

Shut your mouth: Regan had a reputation for throwing a "grease ball," and in 1968, umpire Chris Pelekoudas hassled Regan during a three-inning relief appearance, constantly calling for the ball from Regan so the ump could examine it. Regan was found with nothing although the umpire repeatedly cited Regan for illegal pitches. Cubs manager Leo Durocher and two other players were thrown out of the game over the incident and the Cubs demanded a hearing. Regan was absolved of any wrongdoing by NL president Warren Giles.

No one understands him but his woman: Regan recorded 13 consecutive wins between 1966 and 1967 for the Dodgers. That remains a Dodgers record.

(A word about the back): Regan's 12 saves would be the last time he reached double digits. He led the NL in saves twice with 21 in 1966 and 25 in 1968.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

no. 633 - rookie stars, american league

Who is the man: Both Bobby Brooks and Pete Koegel managed just seven games in the majors in 1970, spending the vast majority of their seasons in Double A or Triple A. Scott Northey didn't even sniff the majors in 1970.

Can ya dig it: This is a very nice-looking card (except for Koegel's blacked-out cap).

Right on: Koegel is posed in front of that familiar hill that is part of Tempe Diablo Stadium, which was the spring training site for the Brewers in the early 1970s. My guess on why Koegel's hat is blacked out is possibly because he's wearing a Pilots cap (the Pilots trained at Tempe Diablo in 1969 and 1970).

You see these rookies are bad mothers: It is quite likely that there is no more less bad-ass card in this set than this one. Not one of these three received a solo card. Northey's major league career was already done at this point.

Shut your mouth: Northey's father, Ron Northey, played for the Phillies, Cardinals, Reds and White Sox in the 1940s and 50s. He died the same year this card was issued.

No one understands him but his woman: Bobby Brooks was nicknamed "The Hammer" while coming up through the A's organization. He declined to be compared with Hank Aaron and suggested he was "The Little Hammer".

(A word about the back): Some sizeable "life" totals, almost all spent in the minors. All three of these players played their first professional season in 1965.

Friday, February 24, 2017

no. 632 - darrel chaney

Who is the man: Darrel Chaney's average increased 41 points in 1970 over his rookie year in 1969, but he played in just 57 games, mostly because a young player named Dave Concepcion had taken over at shortstop.

Can ya dig it: That appears to be artificial turf. I'm not used to seeing artificial turf anymore. It looks weird.

Right on: The position designation says "infield," but Chaney played the vast majority of games (all but three) at shortstop or second.

You see that cat Chaney is a bad mother: Chaney played in three World Series with the Reds, 1970, 1972 and 1975.

Shut your mouth: During the early 1980s, Chaney rigged the doorbell to his home so that when it was pressed, it would air Reds announcer Marty Brennaman's excited calling of Chaney's grand slam for the Reds during a game in 1974. "When you don't hit many homers in the big leagues, you have to cherish one like that," Chaney said.

No one understands him but his woman: Chaney and his wife, Cindy, are closing in on their 50th wedding anniversary. They've been married 49 years.

(My observation on the back): All I can think of when I see that Juan Marichal gave up Chaney's first home run is the famous Bob Gibson line about how he knew it was time to retire when he gave up a home run to Pete LaCock.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

no. 631 - eddie fisher

Who is the man: Eddie Fisher appeared in 67 games for the Angels in 1970, his most appearances in a season since 1966 with the World Champion Orioles.

Can ya dig it: I think there's a guy standing up on the top edge of the stands below Fisher's right arm.

Right on: Fisher was very confusing to a kid like me who was in a perpetual haze about famous people before my time. At one point I thought that Fisher played baseball and was also a famous singer (confusing him with the '50s crooner of the same name). Then there was the chess player Bobby Fischer and I somehow thought there was a guy who pitched and played chess.

You see that cat Fisher is a bad mother: In 1965, Fisher appeared in 82 games for the White Sox. He saved 24 and won 15, finishing fourth in the AL MVP voting. There was just one Cy Young Award then and Sandy Koufax won unanimously in '65. Fisher may have received the AL award if there was one (or perhaps they wouldn't give it to a reliever then).

Shut your mouth: In 1973, the White Sox featured two knuckleball pitchers on their starting staff, Wilbur Wood and Fisher.

No one understands him but his woman: Fisher knew how to throw the knuckleball when he played for the University of Oklahoma, but coach Jack Baer didn't like the pitch and didn't want him using it. One game, Fisher was struggling and tried a knuckleball, which the batter hit for a double. Baer told Fisher afterward, "Now you know what you can do with that (pitch)."

(A word about the back): I still can't get used to these '71 bios. The guy plays for the '66 Orioles and they've got to talk about Legion ball.

Monday, February 20, 2017

no. 630 - roberto clemente

Who is the man: Roberto Clemente struggled with a wrist injury and continued back problems in 1970, limiting him to 108 games. But he led the National League in batting right up until September until his back restricted his playing time.

Can ya dig it: Clemente's signature is a piece of art.

Right on: This is the last card I needed to complete this set. I didn't receive it until after I started the blog, but I was confident I'd land it before 629 cards had passed. I was fortunate that Captain Canuck sent me this copy.

You see that Clemente is a bad mother: One of the most revered ballplayers of all-time. The demand for Major League Baseball to retire his number 21 remains strong and that doesn't happen without being a bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Clemente says he was kidnapped while on a road trip with the Pirates in San Diego during the 1969 season. Four men forced him into a car at gunpoint, stole his wallet and All-Star ring and Clemente feared he would die. The men eventually returned Clemente's items and brought him back to his hotel. He didn't discuss the incident publicly for more than a year. And it's the first time I've heard about it.

No one understands him but his woman: Topps, after calling Clemente by his proper first name in his first two cards (1955 and 1956), inexplicably starting referring to him as "Bob" in the 1957 set and didn't stop with that nonsense until he was back to "Roberto" in the 1970 set.

(A word about the back): Clemente is one of only two players to compete post-1950 to finish in the top 30 all-time in triples (166). The other is Stan Musial (177).

Thursday, February 16, 2017

no. 629 - john hiller

Who is the man: John Hiller was at a turning point in his career when this card was issued. He suffered three heart attacks on Jan. 11, 1971 and there was no guarantee when kids were pulling his card from packs that he would ever play again.

Can ya dig it: Any Hiller card that is not the 1975 Topps Hiller card doesn't look like a Hiller card to me. I pulled the '75 Hiller out of the first pack I ever bought and it was an immediate favorite. I still hold an attachment to that card.

Right on: Hiller wearing the jacket over the uniform makes me think it's going to rain there at Yankee Stadium.

You see that cat Hiller is a bad mother: After Hiller's heart attacks, the Tigers took it easy with the pitcher. They kept him on to be an instructor during the spring of 1972. But Hiller wanted to pitch. By July of '72 Hiller and manager Billy Martin had convinced the Tigers' brass to let Hiller play. He threw better than ever and in 1973 set what was then a major league record 38 saves in a season.

Shut your mouth: Hiller grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, and naturally played hockey. He also played baseball, and during a tryout in Toronto, former major league manager Charlie Dressen told him, "son, I hope you haven't thrown out your hockey skates."

No one understands him but his woman: When Hiller retired in 1980, he was the last remaining member of the 1968 World Series champion Tigers team.

(A word about the back): Hiller's mark of six straight strikeouts to start a game was matched by four other pitchers until the White Sox's Joe Cowley began a game with seven straight strikeouts in 1986. Later in '86, the Astros' Jim Deshaies struck out eight in a row to begin a game and that's where the modern-day record stands. The Mets' Jacob deGrom also struck out his first eight batters in 2014.