Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Who is the man: J.C. Martin was in the midst of his second season with the Cubs when this card was issued. He spent his time with his final major league team backing up Randy Hundley behind the plate.
Can ya dig it: I appreciate this blog because I can figure out for the first time that "J.C." stands for "Joseph Clifton".
Right on: Martin is posing in his former home, Shea Stadium. He played for the Mets in 1968 and 1969.
You see that cat Martin is a bad mother: Martin put away Game 1 of the 1969 NLCS when he hit a three-run single in the top of the eighth inning to give the Mets a 9-5 lead over the Braves. New York entered the inning trailing 5-4.
Shut your mouth: After his career, Martin worked in the White Sox broadcasting booth with Harry Caray for one season. But he didn't get along with Caray and was done at season's end. "He didn't want to work with me. We didn't hit it off at all," Martin said.
No one understands him but his woman: Martin, while catching White Sox knuckleballers Eddie Fisher and Hoyt Wilhelm in 1965, set a modern record with 33 passed balls in a season. The record stood until 1987 when Geno Petralli broke it.
(A word about the back): It's the rare unkind word from the card back bio writer! You know you're in trouble when the word "dubious" appears on the back of your card.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Who is the man: Mike Kekich split time between starting and the bullpen for the second straight year with the Yankees in 1970. In 1971, he'd reach double figures in wins for the first time.
Can ya dig it: The dude in yellow on top of the dugout looks like he's having a good time.
Right on: This is the first time Kekich is pictured in a Yankees uniform on a Topps card despite being listed with the Yankees in both the 1969 and 1970 Topps sets. He's featuring an airbrushed cap in '69 and hatless in '70.
You see that cat Kekich is a bad mother: Kekich, who was touted by some as a future Sandy Koufax while in the Dodgers' chain, pitched one of the best games by a Dodgers pitcher against the Mets in Dodger Stadium. Kekich tossed a complete-game, one-hitter in a 2-0 victory for L.A. in 1968. Kekich struck out 11 and walked two.
Shut your mouth: While pitching in Venezuela, Kekich ruptured his spleen while trying to break up a fight between players on the field. Kekich has said he was "20 minutes from death" after the injury.
No one understands him but his woman: Kekich emerged as the odd-man-out in the famed "family swap" that he made with Yankees teammate Fritz Peterson in 1972. Kekich had fallen for Peterson's wife, Marilyn, and the couples agreed to switch lives. Susanne Kekich became Fritz Peterson's wife and Marilyn Mike Kekich's wife. They also swapped kids and dogs. But while Susanne stayed married to Fritz, Marilyn and Mike split after just a few months. Mike Kekich later remarried.
(A word about the back): Hey! A floating head! It's been awhile.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Who is the man: Milt Ramirez made his major league debut in 1970, appearing in what would be a career-high 62 games for the Cardinals.
Can ya dig it: Bunting! Remember that?
Right on: This is Ramirez's only Topps card.
You see that cat Ramirez is a bad mother: Ramirez played a handful of games for the Cardinals in 1971 but spent the majority of the season in the minor leagues. From there, he played in double A and triple A for the next seven years for St. Louis, Kansas City, Houston, L.A. and Oakland. Then, when he was 29, he was called up by the Oakland A's in 1979 and he played 28 games. After eight years!
Shut your mouth: The 1979 Oakland A's were a bad, bad, bad, bad baseball team.
No one understands him but his woman: Ramirez has a terrific minor league card. You miss this kind of stuff if you don't collect minor league cards.
(A word about the back): It may be difficult to see on the scans, but this card is slightly taller than your average 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 card. It slopes up on the top from left to right (if you're looking at it from the front) and slopes out on the left from top to bottom (if you're looking at it from the back).
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Who is the man: Bob Garibaldi played in the minors for the Giants' Triple A Phoenix team in 1970. He was traded to the Royals in October 1970. He never played a regular season game for K.C. He was dealt to the Padres in April 1971.
Can ya dig it: This is Garibaldi's final Topps card. He has just two, the other one also a high number in the 1970 set.
Right on: At a distance, say the player in the background in this photo, the Royals of this time period look like hospital orderlies.
You see that cat Garibaldi is a bad mother: Garibaldi was a college phenom who led Santa Clara University to the College World Series title in 1962. He was signed by the Giants for a record bonus of $150,000 and went straight to the majors.
Shut your mouth: Garibaldi had already played his final major league game when this card was issued.
No one understands him but his woman: Despite all of his accolades in the early '60s (this guy would have been all over Bowman cards if he was just starting out today), Garibaldi managed to pitch just 15 major league games over a 10-year period in pro ball.
(A word about the back): Another high-number player with no 1970 stats. But, I admit 20 complete games in one season in the minors is a bit impressive.
Friday, September 8, 2017
Who is the man: Boog Powell was coming off his MVP season when this card was issued. Even though his traditional stats were slightly off from his 1969 performance, his advanced stats were slightly better and he was rewarded with the AL honor.
Can ya dig it: There you see by the signature that Powell's actual first name is John, not that anyone has called him that.
Right on: Wondering who the guy in the distance is.
You see that cat Powell is a bad mother: Powell's 339 career home runs still rank in the top 100 all-time (98th at last report).
Shut your mouth: I just clicked on a Boog Powell link and it turned up that dude on the A's calling himself Boog, and that still annoys me way more than it should. Find your own nickname.
No one understands him but his woman: Powell's last season in 1977 was as a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers. He appeared in 50 games and all but one was in a pinch-hitting role. He started one game at first base on Aug. 15, the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants. He went 1-for-3 from the No. 5 spot. He was released 16 days later. And I'm still mad I didn't get a Topps card of Powell as a Dodger.
(A word about the back): The centerfield hedge at Memorial Stadium used to be the marking point for legendary home runs. Clear that and you had walloped one. Harmon Killebrew hit a famous hedge-clearer off of Milt Pappas two years after Powell's.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Who is the man: Jim Britton was playing in his final major league season when this card was issued. He appeared in 16 games for the Expos in 1971, starting six of them.
Can ya dig it: Britton is 6-foot-5 and I can almost tell on this card even though it's basically a mug shot.
Right on: Britton is a native of North Tonawanda. N.Y. Right on! Know it well.
You see that cat Britton is a bad mother: Britton pitched briefly in the first NLCS when the Braves played the Mets in 1969. He threw one-third of an inning during Game 2 with the Braves down 9-6.
Shut your mouth: Britton surrendered the first home run Johnny Bench ever hit in his major league career. It was a three-run shot hit on Sept. 20, 1967.
No one understands him but his woman: Britton supposedly became an FBI agent after his career. I can find only a couple of references to it and they're not the most reliable sources, but I have no reason to doubt it.
(A word about the back): Britton had no stats in 1970 because he missed the entire year with an arm injury.
Monday, September 4, 2017
Who is the man: The Milwaukee Brewers finished in fourth place in the AL West in 1970, their first season as the Milwaukee Brewers. They jumped two places from the previous year, when they were the Seattle Pilots, even though they were just one game better than they were in 1969.
Can ya dig it: The Brewers are getting right into the spirit of being the "Brewers" by displaying a Miller High Life ad.
Right on: Having everyone on the team stand for the team photo is not usual procedure, but the Brewers did it a few times in their Topps team cards.
You see that cat Bristol is a bad mother: Manager Dave Bristol, in his first season, is in the second row, the fourth guy from the left.
Shut your mouth: Thanks to this handy key, I can identify the entire team. I'll spare you every name and just mention a few: Tommy Harper, the team's top hitter in 1970, is in the third row, the second guy from the right. To the left of Harper is the team's top pitcher in 1970, Marty Pattin. Famed Seattle Pilot Mike Hegan is the fourth guy from the right in the fourth row. Next to Hegan on the right is Terry Francona's dad, Tito. Slugger Dave May is in the top row, second guy in on the right.
Also, it's interesting to see the traveling secretary, Tom Ferguson, get such a prominent spot (he's the dude in the suit).
No one understands him but his woman: The guys in the letter jackets look like athletes from the local high school but they're actually clubhouse men, the equipment manager and the trainer.
(A word about the back): Harper and Pattin rewrote the franchise record book in 1970.