Monday, July 30, 2012

no. 78 - jim spencer

Who is the man: Jim Spencer had just finished his most successful season of what was only a three-year major league career at this point. He played in 146 games for the 1970 Angels and would go on the play 15 years in the majors.

Can ya dig it: The Angels have some fine action cards in this set. Either they, the Yankees, Mets, Astros or Royals have the most action cards in the set. I guess this blog would be the best place to figure that out for sure.

Right on: I can't tell from Spencer's face what he's just done with that swing. The crowd doesn't appear fascinated, so maybe it's just a foul.

You see this cat Spencer is a bad mother: Spencer won a Gold Glove at first base in his first real full season in the majors in 1970. He'd win another Gold Glove in 1977 with the White Sox.

Shut your mouth: Spencer told George Steinbrenner where to go when Spencer was with the Yankees, during spring training in 1981. Receiving pressure from the team owner because of poor numbers at the plate, Spencer said, "I know he thinks he's motivating players that way, but I've played 16 years and I don't need that kind of motivation. I don't need the harrassment."

No one understands him but his woman: Spencer popped out as the previous batter prior to Bucky Dent's memorable three-run home run during the 1978 special playoff against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. So I suppose it could have been Jim @$%&* Spencer instead.

(A word about the back): The four offensive departments in which Spencer led the Texas League in 1968 were: runs, home runs, RBIs and total bases.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

no. 77 - mike compton

Who is the man: Mike Compton was a rookie in 1970. He had just completed his first and only season in the major leagues. He would spend the 1971, 1972 and 1973 seasons in the minors.

Can ya dig it: Not a bad photo for a man's only card. Certainly could be worse.

Right on: Rookie card! Final card!

You see this cat Compton is a bad mother: Compton is the inventor of something called "The Ball Hawg," which is a ball-retrieving device that's basically a long tube. You wouldn't think that would be all that bad-ass. But check out all the testimonials from former major leaguers. That's kind of impressive.

Shut your mouth: Compton was called up to the majors because Phillies catchers Tim McCarver and Mike Ryan both suffered injuries (supposedly in the same game). He was one of several catchers the Phillies tried out that year. But Compton hit just .164 in 47 games and was demoted before the season was out.

Cards of players like this often make me wonder whether Topps included players like this in the set just because the set was so large. Topps had to know going in that it was going to have 752 cards in 1971 and they grasped at anyone who filled out a major league uniform.

No one understands him but his woman: The man had just one baseball card. That's a tale few can tell.

(A word about the back): "Recalled by the Phillies, 1970, when injuries sidelined two receivers, Mike made All-State team in Semi-Pro ball, '64."

OK, those two thoughts do not go together. I am assuming the writer jumped from 1970 to 1964 because he didn't wanted to deal with the reality of the situation.

"Recalled by the Phillies, 1970, when injuries sidelined two receivers, Mike managed just 18 hits in 110 at-bats."

See? That's ugly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

no. 76 - ted savage

Who is the man: Ted Savage had arrived with his seventh team in eight seasons in 1970. He received more at-bats with the Brewers than with any team in any season since his rookie year with the Phillies in 1962.

Can ya dig it: I count six of Savage's teammates in the background. Savage looks like the only doing anything.

Right on: This is Savage's final Topps card. His last season would be in 1971, split between the Brewers and the Royals.

You see that cat Savage is a bad mother: Savage played nine major league seasons and managed to compete for eight different teams in that span. That's pretty impressive. Also, his last name is "Savage."

Shut your mouth: Savage has been referred to as a member of the Cardinals' 1967 World Series championship team. But Savage played just nine games for the Cardinals that year and was purchased by the Cubs on May 14, 1967. He never appears on a baseball card as a member of the Cardinals.

No one understands him but his woman: Savage was born Ephesian Savage, but his full name is listed as Theodore Edmund Savage. When the change? Why the change?

(A word about the back): The beginning of Savage's bio could be interpreted as bitter-sounding. "Getting a chance to play ..." Savage would reach 300 at-bats in a season just once.

Friday, July 20, 2012

no. 75 - gary nolan

Who is the man: After dealing with arm issues the previous two years, Gary Nolan came back in 1970 for his best season since his rookie year in 1967. Nolan had just finished compiling an 18-7 mark and helping the Reds into the World Series against the Orioles.

Can ya dig it: Those are some distinctive eyebrows that Nolan has.

Right on: Nolan pitched in four World Series, but didn't get his first win until his final one in 1976. He started Game 4 of the '76 World Series against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium and won as the Reds swept the Yankees.

You see that cat Nolan is a bad mother: Nolan struck out the side in the first inning of his very first major league game on April 15, 1967 against Houston.

Shut your mouth: Nolan couldn't handle the skepticism over his constant arm problems anymore in 1972. He moved out of Cincinnati and went back to live in his hometown of Oroville, California.

No one understands him but his woman: Nolan reportedly was popular with female fans as a young phenom. However, he married at age 17 and was a father soon afterward.

(A word about the back): Nolan actually didn't pitch all 10 innings of Game 1 of the 1970 NLCS against the Pirates as the wording implies. He pitched nine innings and the score was still tied 0-0. The Reds scored three runs in the top of the 10th and reliever Clay Carroll came in for Nolan and finished the Pirates off.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

no. 74 - twins rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Pete Hamm and Jim Nettles appeared in their first major league games in 1970. Hamm pitched in 10 games, all in relief, with 16 innings pitched. Nettles appeared in 13 games, getting 21 plate appearances and hitting .250.

Can ya dig it: More old-school pinstriped uniforms that I like. First it was the Braves and now it's the Twins.

Right on: Pete Hamm should not be confused with Pete Ham, the lead singer and songwriter for the group Badfinger. Hamm is still around. Ham is not.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: Not in 1971 they aren't. This was long before Bryce Harper war paint. Rookies ain't bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Nettles spent a lot of time in the minors. He played four years in the minor leagues before reaching the majors. Then, after his career ended, he managed nine years in the minors. His final season was for Bakersfield in 1996. The team went 39-101. I guess he knew it was time to quit.

No one understands him but his woman: Nettles' daughter is married to former Royals player Mike Sweeney. That means Nettles' wife, Carol, is the wife of one former major league player, the mother-in-law of another, and the sister-in-law of another (Graig Nettles).

(A word about the back): Topps goofed in Nettles' bio information. It starts out describing Nettles' performance in 1970 and then ends in mid-sentence.

Monday, July 16, 2012

no. 73 - george brunet

Who is the man: George Brunet was entering his final major league season when this card arrived. He would pitch for the Cardinals in 1971. But this would be his final Topps card.

Can ya dig it: Brunet has 10 Topps cards. He is wearing a cap in just three of them -- 1958, 1968 and this one.

Right on: Topps used the same photo of Brunet twice during his career. His 1965 and 1966 cards have the same photo, as do his 1967 and 1969 cards.

You see this cat Brunet is a bad mother: Brunet pitched 20 seasons of professional baseball. By the time he was finished, he held the minor league record for career strikeouts with 3,175.

Shut your mouth: Here is Brunet's amazing professional career timeline:

1953: Shelby
1954: Alexandria
1954: Seminole
1955: Hot Springs
1955: Seminole
1956: Kansas City (A.L.)
1956: Abilene
1956: Crowley
1956: Columbia
1957: Kansas City (A.L.)
1957: Little Rock
1958: Buffalo
1958: Little Rock
1959: Kansas City (A.L.)
1959: Portland
1960: Louisville
1960: Kansas City (A.L.)
1960: Milwaukee (N.L.)
1961: Milwaukee (N.L.)
1961: Vancouver
1962: Oklahoma City
1962: Houston (N.L.)
1962: Hawaii

1963: Houston (N.L.)
1963: Baltimore (A.L.)
1963: Oklahoma City
1964: Los Angeles (A.L.)
1964: Rochester
1964: Oklahoma City
1965: California (A.L.)
1966: California (A.L.)
1967: California (A.L.)
1968: California (A.L.)
1969: California (A.L.)
1969: Seattle (A.L.)
1970: Washington (A.L.)
1970: Pittsburgh (N.L.)
1971: St. Louis (N.L.)
1971: Hawaii
1972: Hawaii
1973: Eugene

If I counted right, that's 25 different teams, including nine different major league teams. Wow, I don't know what to say.

No one understands him but his woman: After he was finished with U.S. pro ball, Brunet went to the Mexican League, where he pitched until 1985, when he was 50. He set the Mexican League record for career shutouts with 55. Brunet died in 1991. He certainly gave his all to the game.

(A word about the back): I like the phrase "pennant insurance." I've never heard that before.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

no. 72 - 1970 national league strikeout leaders

Who is the man: Tom Seaver is the man, for winning the first of his five strikeout titles in 1970. The 283 batters he struck out in 1970 would be his second-highest total ever.

Can ya dig it: That is quite a trio right there. Hall of Famers through and through and through.

Right on: Each player gets the hero sky shot on this card. It's pretty fitting.

You see these cats are bad mothers: If you can't find bad-ass-ness in these three, then you're doing something wrong. But I'll get into detail later.

Shut your mouth: I was just watching Seaver make a guest broadcasting appearance at the Triple A All-Star Game on the MLB Network. I heard a familiar voice and I couldn't place it at first. I was pleased to learn it was Seaver. I always enjoyed his broadcasting, even if he comes off as a crotchety old man at times (he was complaining repeatedly about how all batters these days swing the same).

No one understands him but his woman: It is a toss-up over whether the first baseball wife I knew by name was either Nancy Seaver or Cyndy Garvey. But Nancy wins out in that she is still calling herself Nancy Seaver.

(A word about that back): Some dude named "Ryan" struck out 125 for New York. Pssssh, he couldn't even get into the first column.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

no. 71 - 1970 american league strikeout leaders

Who is the man: Sam McDowell is the man for winning the A.L. strikeout title for the third straight year and the fifth time in six years. He fanned 304 batters, which was his second highest total ever.

Can ya dig it: Bob Johnson??? Yes, Bob Johnson. The 1970 season was his first full season in the majors and he struck out 206 batters (he also led the league in hit batters with 11). He would reach triple figures in strikeouts only one other time, in 1971, when he struck out 101.

Right on: Sudden Sam looks intense on every last one of his cards.

You see these cats are bad mothers: Yes indeedy. But we'll explore later.

Shut your mouth: Mickey Lolich, who grew up in a Croatian household, attended Columbia Prep, a Catholic high school, as a teenager. Lolich once used the Croatian phrase "Ida korgo" on his English instructor. But the instructor spoke Croatian. He took Lolich out in the hall and said, "If you ever tell me to 'go to hell' again, you're out of here."

No one understand him but his woman: The Cheers character Sam Malone was based on Sam McDowell. When asked about this in an interview, McDowell joked, "I would say I'm better with women than he was."

(A word about the back): That's quite a range from 77 strikeouts to 304. It looks like Topps changed the font near the end in a bid to keep it to only pitchers with 77 or more Ks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

no. 70 - 1970 national league pitching leaders

Who is the man: Bob Gibson was the man (he was always the man). But, once again, Gibson and Gaylord Perry had the same amount of wins with 23 apiece. Gibson gets top billing because his name comes first in the alphabet.

Can ya dig it: This is the other leaders card that I obtained as a youngster. That's right, I had both Pitching Leaders cards in my possession at an early age.

Right on: Both Perry and Fergie Jenkins appear to be concerned about whatever is going on off to their left.

You see these cats are bad mothers: I can assure you, without a doubt, that they are. But I'm not going into detail now.

Shut your mouth: When Tim McCarver came out to the mound once to talk to Gibson famously told him: "The only thing you know about pitching is that you can't hit it."

No one understands him but his woman: Gibson used to be a baseball broadcaster for ESPN, but he stopped working there because he was concerned it was taking him away from time with his wife and family.

(A word about the back): Jim Merritt would win 20 games for the Reds in 1970. But the following year he went 1-11.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

no. 69 - 1970 american league pitching leaders

Who is the man: Well, this is confusing. Mike Cuellar appears to be the man, as he has the big photo. But actually Cuellar, Dave McNally and Jim Perry all won 24 games. I'm guessing Cuellar got lucky just because his last name appears first in alphabetical order. By the way, Jim Perry won the Cy Young Award in 1970. Cuellar finished fourth.

Can ya dig it: This is one of two '71 leaders cards that I obtained as a youngster. Therefore, they're in worse shape than the others.

Right on: Cuellar and McNally were just two of the Orioles pitchers to win 20 games in 1970. Jim Palmer also won 20.

You see these cats are bad mothers: At a later date, we'll talk about it.

Shut your mouth: Earl Weaver's famous quote about Cuellar: "I gave Mike Cuellar more chances than my first wife."

No one understands him but his woman: Dave McNally was named Montana's Athlete of the Century by Sports Illustrated in 1999. That's quite a title.

(A word about the back): Clyde Wright might be one of the more anonymous 22-game winners in history.