Monday, January 30, 2012

no. 11 - elliott maddox

Who is the man: Elliott Maddox was traded from the Tigers to the Senators the October before this card came out. Just off his first major league season in 1970, he was dealt along with Denny McLain and Don Wert in exchange for Ed Brinkman, Joe Coleman, Jim Hannan and Aurelio Rodriguez.

Can ya dig it: This is Maddox's first solo card. He is capless because of the trade and likely wearing a Tigers uniform.

Right on: This card is among the first 1971 cards I acquired, while sitting on the porch of my friend's house. His older brother -- older by about 5 years -- gave him a bunch of cards from the late '60s and early '70s, and my brothers and I proceeded to trade current Yankees cards (this was around 1978) for those '60s and '70s cards.

You see this cat Maddox is a bad mother: Maddox sued the Yankees, Mets AND New York City all at the same time. It was in response to slipping on wet turf at Shea Stadium -- where Maddox and the Yankees played home games at the time -- and suffering a knee injury. The case was thrown out of court.

Shut your mouth: Maddox was articulate and outspoken, not afraid to support causes he felt were right. That didn't sit well with his manager with the Rangers, Billy Martin, who didn't like players who broadcast their intelligence. Maddox was sold to the Yankees at Martin's request.

No one understands him but his woman: Maddox has undergone at least 13 surgeries on his injured knee.

(A word about the back): There are numerous instances in this set of a player being airbrushed into his new team's cap on the back of the card. This is the first one.

Friday, January 27, 2012

no. 10 - claude osteen

Who is the man: Claude Osteen was a consistent, reliable member of the Dodgers' starting rotation in 1971. He really piled up the numbers. Any number you wanted: wins, losses, hits (oh, boy, lots and lots of hits), innings pitched, games, complete games. You name it. Except strikeouts. Didn't strike out a whole lot of batters.

Can ya dig it: It looks like the players in the background are telling the guy on the left that he stepped in something.

Right on: Osteen's nickname was "Gomer" because of his resemblance to Gomer Pyle.

You see this cat Osteen is a bad mother: Osteen was known for his durability and rarely suffered injuries. He credited it to growing up on a farm and hauling hay bales. He said it gave him strong hands and arms. "There wasn't a nut or bolt that I couldn't loosen," he said ... Hey, being able to loosen bolts is pretty bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: When the Dodgers acquired Osteen in a trade that sent popular slugger Frank Howard to Washington, L.A. columnist Jim Murray asked Dodger GM Buzzie Bavasi who else they got for Howard besides Osteen. Bavasi said they got (infielder) John Kennedy. Murray said: "Now we're talking. We got the president on our side."

No one understands him but his woman: Osteen made his major league debut as a 17-year-old, pitching in three games for the Reds in 1957.

(A word about the back): A player really looks elite if their first year in pro ball and their first game in the majors is the same year. Whether that's true or not is up to some research.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

no. 9 - george scott

Who is the man: George Scott's career was on the upswing in 1971. He had suffered from some dismal offensive seasons in the late '60s, but was back on track by 1970. He was in his 6th and final season of his first stint with the Red Sox. He was dealt to Milwaukee in a massive trade after the '71 season.

Can ya dig it: That's an interesting batting glove Scott has there. I'm going to say that's why he looks so enthused about his swing.

Right on: Scott won eight Gold Gloves during his career. He also was nicknamed "Boomer" and called home runs "taters." Just out of sight stuff there.

You see this cat Scott is a bad mother: Scott's famous response, when a reporter asked what made up the puka shell necklace around his neck, was that they were "second basemen's teeth." The implication was that he knocked out the fielders' teeth during hard slides into second. But Scott later explained that he was referring to his wicked line drives to the right side of the infield and fielders' inability to protect themselves in time.

Shut your mouth: Well, that would be my advice to second basemen when a liner from Scott came their way.

No one understands him but his woman: During the labor strife early in 1976, Scott lashed out at the Players' Association for not taking the owners' eight-year offer, saying, "I think the players should stop crying about slavery and worry about playing baseball. If they'd play as hard as they complain, they'd all be superstars." His teammates were not amused.

(A word about the back): One different aspect about the '71 backs that didn't get as much attention, given the photo on the back and the return to the single line of yearly stats, is the addition of total bases and stolen bases as listed stats for the first time. Didn't exactly make up for the lack of career stats, but I'm sure some collectors thought it was interesting.

Monday, January 23, 2012

no. 8 - mike mc queen

Who is the man: Mike McQueen was coming off his first real season with the Braves at the time this card came out. He started 1970 in Triple A, then was called up to the Atlanta bullpen in June, before entering the starting rotation in September.

Can ya dig it: It's kind of an interesting pitching pose here. Instead of looking and throwing directly at the camera, as players often did for baseball cards at this time, McQueen is looking off to his left and you get a nice look at his pitching grip.

Right on: I really like the Braves uniforms from this time period. A lot better than those blue things with the bubble "a" that they wore through most of the 1970s.

You see this cat McQueen is a bad mother: In spring training of 1971, Hank Aaron was quoted as saying that McQueen was, "more like Warren Spahn than any young Braves pitcher I have seen."

Shut your mouth: Injury issues plagued McQueen and he missed the entire 1973 season after being involved in a serious automobile accident with teammate Jim Breazeale. He tried a comeback with the Reds in 1974, but didn't return to the majors after that season.

No one understands him but his woman: McQueen was the youngest person to appear in a major league game in 1969. At age 19, he started the last game of the Braves' season and threw three innings.

(A word about the back): Well the bio certainly ends on a downer.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

no. 7 - jim holt

Who is the man: Jim Holt still had some promise at this point in his career. He had just played in the most games -- 142 -- that he had in any season of his career. Between 1970-73, the Twins would shift Holt between the outfield and first base and use him to pinch-hit, too.

Can ya dig it: Holt began and ended his career with the A's. He was signed as a free agent by Kansas City in 1965. He was traded to Oakland in 1974.

Right on: Holt played on the A's World Series title team in 1974.

You see this cat Holt is a bad mother: Holt provided the only solid hit during an Oakland four-run rally in Game 4 of the 1974 World Series. His pinch-single in the sixth inning turned a 2-1 Dodgers lead into a 5-2 A's advantage, and led to Oakland taking a 3-1 lead in the Series. "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me," he said after the game.

Shut your mouth: Late in his career, Holt dealt with weight issues, and articles mentioned him "getting fat." One compared him to Minnesota Fats, the famed, fictional pool hustler.

No one understands him but his woman: "I only had one other big day," Holt said on that day in 1974. "That was in the American League playoffs of 1970 ... I made an error ... but I was in the playoffs. That was something, you know."

(A word about the back): Many of the back write-ups in '71 Topps refer to non-major league stats. Minor leagues. Venezuelan leagues. Even Pony leagues. That bothered me when I saw my first '71s. It still does.

Friday, January 13, 2012

no. 6 - ed spiezio

Who is the man: Ed Spiezio had just come off the best season of his career when this card came out. The .285 he hit in 1970 was far better than his next highest, full season average (.234). He hit .238 in nine seasons.

Can ya dig it: Spiezio played on World Series-winning teams with the Cardinals in 1964 and 1967. His son, Scott Spiezio, played on World Series-winning teams with the Angels in 2002 and the Cardinals in 2006. They became the fourth father-son team to win World Series titles when Scott won in 2002.

Right on: Spiezio delivered the first hit, scored the first run, and hit the first home run in Padres history.

You see this cat Spiezio is a bad mother: When Ed was very young, Spiezio's dad would place him in a catcher's mask, position him at the edge of the infield, and hit grounders at him as hard as he could.

Shut your mouth: Is Spiezio even holding a bat? It's difficult to tell. And if he is, up in his left hand, where is the rest of it?

No one understands him but his woman: I always feel for cards (yes, I feel for cards) that follow iconic cards like the '71 Thurman Munson. I wonder how many comments and page views ol' Ed will get?

(A word about the back): It's time I mention the one line of yearly stats. It was the first time that Topps had done this in a base set since 1962.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

no. 5 - thurman munson

Who is the man: The trophy looks impressive, but Thurman Munson was coming off a bigger award when this card appeared in packs. He had just won the American League Rookie of the Year award. He also received a pretty iconic baseball card for just his second year in the majors.

Can ya dig it: Munson hit .385 in 67 World Series at-bats as the Yankees reached the Series in 1976, 1977 and 1978.

Right on: It's been determined many times already, but the Athletics player being tagged by Munson is pitcher Chuck Dobson. Also, this is the first action card in a Topps set that exhibited player action cards for the first time.

You see this cat Munson is a bad mother: Munson was involved in a famed brawl with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk in August, 1973. Munson, coming in from third base, tried to bowl over Fisk on a missed bunt attempt by Gene Michael during the ninth inning of a 2-2 game, touching off a 10-minute brawl. Munson kind of got the worst of it though, as Fisk went ballistic and started punching Munson while keeping Michael pinned down by the throat.

Shut your mouth: When my brother and I told my youngest brother that Munson had died in a plane crash, my brother refused to believe it. Not because he was sad -- we were all Yankee haters -- but because we had played so many pranks on him that he didn't believe us anymore.

No one understands him but his woman: Munson often wanted to play for the Cleveland Indians -- a terrible team in the '70s -- because he was homesick and longed to play close to his family and native Akron, Ohio.

(A word about the back): Seeing Munson without a mustache is shocking ... might I say appalling.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

no. 4 - vic davalillo

Who is the man: Vic Davalillo was an All-Star outfielder for the Cleveland Indians in the mid-1960s. But by this time in his career, he had become an expert pinch-hitter, something that would serve him well in the twilight of his major league career.

Can ya dig it: Davalillo received World Series rings with the Pirates in 1971 and with the A's in 1973.

Right on: I am just now noticing the player growing out of the side of Davalillo's neck, who appears to be kissing the air.

You see this cat Davalillo is a bad mother: Davalillo played in the major leagues until his mid-40s, legging out an infield hit at age 44 against the Braves' Gene Garber on Sept. 22, 1980. Davalillo continued to play until age 50 in Venezuela.

Shut your mouth: Garber was also the opposing pitcher when a pinch-hitting Davalillo dropped down a bunt and beat it out to start the Dodgers' epic rally with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the Phillies during the famed "Black Friday" game in the 1977 NLCS.

No one understands him but his woman: Davalillo was characterized as having a nervous breakdown while playing in Venezuela in the offseason in 1969. But his older brother Pompeyo, who played for the Senators in 1953, said it was just acute gastroenteritis.

(A word about the back): Davalillo's birthdate was often fudged and not accurate on his baseball cards. Here he is listed as being born in 1940. He was actually born in 1936.

Friday, January 6, 2012

no. 3 - dick mc auliffe

Who is the man: Dick McAuliffe was a starting infielder for the Tigers throughout the 1960s. He began at shortstop and then moved over to second base. He played in all seven games at second base for the Tigers during their World Series title over the Cardinals in 1968.

Can ya dig it: McAuliffe set a major league record in 1968 when he did not ground into a double play in 151 games played. He still holds the A.L. record.

Right on: It's difficult to tell, but it appears as if McAuliffe has an audience for his picture-taking. I think there are some people seated off to the right.

You see this cat McAuliffe is a bad mother: During a game against the White Sox on Aug. 22, 1968, McAuliffe came up to bat against White Sox starter Tommy John. McAuliffe remembers the first pitch came at his head. The second pitch went behind him. After working the count to 3-2, another pitch went at McAuliffe's head. McAuliffe and John started jawing and then McAuliffe charged the mound. McAuliffe separated John's shoulder with his knee, ending John's season. McAuliffe was suspended five games.

Shut your mouth: At the end of his career, McAuliffe was traded to the Red Sox for Ben Oglivie. A Sporting News article said Oglivie was "the only body Boston was willing to give up to get (McAuliffe)."

No one understands him but his woman: After retiring to manage, McAuliffe was brought back by Boston to play third base late in the 1975 season when Rico Petrocelli was suffering from vertigo. McAuliffe played in seven games, but made two errors that cost the Red Sox a game against the Yankees. McAuliffe was booed and left off the postseason roster. The Red Sox made the World Series that year and McAuliffe didn't play again.

(A word about the back): This is the first of many, many floating heads to appear in this set. If they freak you out, you might not want to look at this blog.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

no. 2 - dock ellis

Who is the man: Dock Ellis, who died in 2008, was entering his fourth year in the major leagues when this card hit the streets. He was about to embark on the best season of his career, going 19-9 and finishing fourth in the N.L. Cy Young Award voting in 1971.

Can ya dig it: Ellis started the All-Star Game for the National League in 1971. He took the loss, allowing four runs in three innings. He allowed two home runs, too, including Reggie Jackson's legendary monster shot that cleared the roof in old Tiger Stadium.

Right on: Ellis won 125 games in his first 10 seasons. He finished his career with 158 through 12 seasons.

You see this cat Ellis is a bad mother: Ellis beaned Reggie Jackson in the face reportedly in retaliation for Jackson's All-Star home run. This was in 1976 when Ellis was pitching for the Yankees and Jackson hitting for the Orioles.

Shut your mouth: Ellis famously claimed he was on LSD when he no-hit the Padres in 1970. He also said "our whole team (in 1973) was on pills. I've taken 15 at one time."

No one understands him but his woman: Ellis was fined by the Pirates for wearing curlers in his hair.

(A word about the back): Ellis' height is listed as 6-3 1/2. You've made the major leagues already, Dock. You can put away the fraction.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

no. 1 - world champions

Who is the man: The Baltimore Orioles were the defending World Series champions entering the 1971 season. They defeated the Cincinnati Reds in five games in the 1970 World Series.

Can ya dig it: Three pitchers on the 1970 Orioles won at least 20 games, Mike Cuellar (24), Dave McNally (24) and Jim Palmer (20).

Right on: Among the players I can spot in this team photo are Mark Belanger (top row, 2nd from left), Jim Palmer (top row, 3rd from left), Frank Robinson (top row, 4th from left), Boog Powell (top row, second from right), Paul Blair (top row, far right), Andy Etchebarren (middle row, far left), Merv Rettenmund (middle row, 6th from left), Don Buford (bottom row, far left) and a young-looking Davey Johnson (bottom row, far right).

You see this cat Weaver is a bad mother: Orioles manager Earl Weaver is dead-center on the bottom row.

Shut your mouth: I cannot find Brooks Robinson in this photo. He's No. 5. He was kind of a big deal in 1970-71.

No one understands him but his woman: The man in the jacket with the gray hair is longtime Orioles trainer, the late Ralph Salvon. Salvon seemed to show up on every televised Orioles game that I saw as a kid in the '70s and '80s. Therefore, he was one of the few trainers that I was aware of back then.

(A word about the back): It doesn't seem right to lump records by George Sisler in with the Orioles.