Monday, December 30, 2013

no. 246 - tony taylor

Who is the man: Thirteen years into his career, Tony Taylor hit above .300 for the first time in 1970. But he'd be traded by the Phillies to the Tigers in June of 1971 for a couple of minor leaguers.

Can ya dig it: A bit of an odd pose there. Taylor appears to be rearing back to throw, which you don't normally see from a non-pitcher on a card. It's also a little odd that it's next to the batting cage.

Right on: Let's break down the "infield" designation on Taylor's card. He played 59 games at second in 1970, 38 games at third and one at shortstop. He also played in the outfield 18 times.

You see this cat Taylor is a bad mother: Taylor, although he played for 19 years, is probably best known for his diving play at second base that robbed the Mets' Jesse Gonder of a hit and preserved Jim Bunning's perfect game in 1964.

Shut your mouth: Taylor played for the Phillies for 15 seasons, but he cried when he learned that he was traded from the Cubs to the Phillies in 1960. "I was angry, hurt," Taylor told the Allentown Morning-Call. "I was playing day games next to the great Ernie Banks. I did not want to go to this strange place -- Philadelphia."

No one understands him but his woman: As of 1998, Taylor had hit the most career home runs for a player who never hit as many as 10 in a season. The most he hit was nine in 1970 and he finished with 75 for his career.

(A word about the back): Taylor held the Phillies' record for most career games played at second base until Chase Utley broke it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

no. 245 - jim kaat

Who is the man: Jim Kaat won 14 games for the Twins for the second straight year in 1970 and won the eighth of his 16 straight Gold Gloves.

Can ya dig it: I'd say you don't see those old-style overhangs in ballparks anymore, but there is one at the ballpark where I live.

Right on: Kaat was featured in essentially the same pose on consecutive cards for Topps from 1968-71.

You see this cat Kaat is a bad mother: "Cat Kaat." Heh. ... When the Twins fired pitching coach Johnny Sain in 1966, Kaat, who had won 25 games under Sain, protested the firing in an open letter in a Minnesota paper. Then Kaat bought a Great Dane, which he named "Prince Johnny Sain."

Shut your mouth: When Kaat's father caught him trying to avoid lawn-mowing chores, he told him: "You can't make a living playing pro ball. You have to learn to work." Kaat played pro ball for 27 years.

No one understands him but his woman: Kaat was the oldest player in baseball in both 1979 and 1983.

(A word about the back): All these years later, Kaat is still the biggest winner in Twins history with 190 total victories.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

no. 244 - bob tillman

Who is the man: Bob Tillman had completed his final season in the big leagues when this card was released. He was traded to the Brewers in December of 1970 but never played for Milwaukee as he was released less than two months after he was traded.

Can ya dig it: This is Tillman's final card.

Right on: Dugout shots are always cool. Bat rack shots are always cool. Player-holding-bat-on-top-step-of-dugout shots are always cool. This is a cool card.

You see this cat Tillman is a bad mother: Tillman caught two no-hitters during his career, by the Red Sox's Earl Wilson and Dave Morehead.

Shut your mouth: Tillman struggled to hit for much his career and had particular trouble with the curve ball. Boston writer Larry Claflin once wrote: "The curve ball to Tillman is what television is to movie theaters."

No one understands him but his woman: When Dick Williams took over as Red Sox manager that was the end of Tillman. During a game in May, Tillman tried to throw out the Tigers' Al Kaline on a steal attempt. The throw caromed off the head of relief pitcher John Wyatt and into the on-deck circle, allowing Kaline to take third. Kaline would later score the winning run -- the first run Wyatt had allowed all year. Williams benched Tillman for the next 38 games and the Red Sox sold him to the Yankees three months later.

(A word about the back): This is where the single line of stats in '71 Topps comes up short. You could have seen Tillman's complete major league stats for his whole career had '71 Topps been like most of the previous Topps sets up until then.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

no. 243 - carlos may

Who is the man: Carlos May had just completed a much-heralded comeback season in 1970 after he blew off part of his right thumb while cleaning a mortar unit when serving in the Marine reserves in the summer of 1969.

Can ya dig it: May's thumb was an obsession of mine as a kid, which I detailed before. In this picture, the thumb part of his right hand is covered up by a batting glove and May's left hand.

Right on: I'm assuming May's accident happened after his photo for his 1970 Topps card was taken (photos were often taken during the previous year's spring training then). Yet, his 1970 Topps card goes out of its way to obscure his right thumb from view. Perhaps, Topps specifically chose that photo after learning of the accident. But you can see May's right thumb in his 1977 Topps Big League brothers card with Lee May.

You see this cat May is a bad mother: Playing eight years in the major leagues after losing a thumb is pretty bad-ass, but so is being the only major leaguer to wear his birth date on his uniform, which May did every May 17th.

Shut your mouth: Wikipedia claims that Carlos and Lee May were the first brothers to appear in the same All-Star Game when they did so in 1969. But SABR reports that Mort and Walker Cooper of the Cardinals were the batteries for the National League in the All-Star Game in 1942 and 1943.

No one understands him but his woman: In the book "What It Means To Be A White Sox," by Bob Vorland, May said that in his first game back after the accident, the fans gave him a standing ovation and he cried at home plate.

(A word about the back): As a kid pulling this card out of a pack, it had to be quite a thing to read "after losing a thumb" on the back.

Friday, December 13, 2013

no. 242 - jim ray

Who is the man: Jim Ray was becoming a key member of the Astros bullpen when this card was issued. He had just completed his third full season with Houston and appeared in 52 games, all but two in relief.

Can ya dig it: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first 1971 Topps card I ever saw or owned that did not come from the gutter. As you can tell, it's pretty well worn and I need to upgrade. I wish I knew how I acquired it, but that story is lost forever.

Right on: Ray seems absolutely hypnotized by what's going on in front of him.

You see this cat Ray is a bad mother: Ray struck out 115 batters in 115 innings pitched in 1969. That'll get people's attention.

Shut your mouth: Depending on where you read, Ray's nickname was either "Ray Gun" or "Sting" (as in "sting ray"). I like "sting." That's a fantastic nickname.

No one understands him but his woman: Do a search for Jim Ray and mostly what you come up with are references and stories about Jim Ray Hart, who played at the same time as Ray. Seems everyone wants to talk about players with three names.

(A word about the back): Ray achieved that .800 win percentage with an 8-2 mark in 1969.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

no. 241 - dave nelson

Who is the man: Dave Nelson is making his first appearance on a card with the Senators after he was traded from the Indians in December, 1969. He spent much of the 1970 season in the minor leagues.

Can ya dig it: I'm assuming that structure behind Nelson is the dugout and stands to a spring training stadium. Which one? You got me. I believe the Senators trained in Florida.

Right on: You can see the MLB logo prominently on Nelson's left sleeve. The logo was still pretty new at this point as it debuted on baseball uniforms in the 1969 season.

You see this cat Nelson is a bad mother: A trivia question that popped up periodically on baseball cards in the '70s referred to Nelson stealing second, third and home all in the same inning. It happened on Aug. 30, 1974 against the Indians. Only three people have done it in American League since (Paul Molitor, Devon White and Chris Stynes).

Shut your mouth: Nelson once pulled the hidden-ball trick against Bob Coluccio and the Brewers. He tagged out Coluccio at second base after asking Coluccio to move his foot so he could brush dirt off the base. After Coluccio got chewed out in the dugout, he came back out yelling at Nelson, saying Nelson embarrassed him and his team. "I didn't embarrass your team," Nelson said. "You did."

No one understands him but his woman: Nelson considered quitting baseball when he was in the minor leagues after experiencing racism during a trip down south in 1964. But his mother reminded him that his idol was Jackie Robinson, and Nelson kept playing.

(A word about the back): It looks like Nelson's head disappears into nothingness in the photo, but I'm not calling it a floating head because I can see a neck.

Monday, December 9, 2013

no. 240 - clyde wright

Who is the man: Clyde Wright was definitely the man heading into the 1971 season. He had just won AL Comeback Player of the Year honors after winning 22 games and throwing a no-hitter in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Wright's got his collar up in Yankee Stadium.

Right on: Wright is the most recent major leaguer to be named "Clyde." But teammates called him "Skeeter."

You see this cat Wright is a bad mother: Wright had one win in 1969 -- ONE -- and came back with 22 in 1970. That is badness.

Shut your mouth: When Charlie Finley wanted to use orange baseballs, they tested them out in a game against the Angels in 1973. Wright said the dyed ball was so slippery he couldn't grip it, and added that they should "hide it somewhere and pretend it's an Easter egg."

 No one understands him but his woman: Wright pitched for three years in Japan, and made a memorable impression from the start. Early in the season, he was pulled from a 1-1 game in the sixth inning. He refused to give the ball to the manager and charged off the mound, firing the ball into the dugout. He went in the clubhouse, tore off his uniform and threw it in the bathtub. People started calling him "Crazy Wright."

(A word about the back): Wright still holds the Angels record for victories in a season, tied with Nolan Ryan, who won 22 in 1974.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

no. 239 - red schoendienst

Who is the man: Red Schoendienst and the Cardinals had fallen on hard times in 1970. After going to the World Series in 1967 and 1968, Red and the boys plummeted to a 76-86 mark in 1970, the franchise's worst record since 1959. The Cards would rebound in 1971 though.

My observation on the front: This is another one of my early 1971s, complete with a crease in the southeast corner and not a single sharp edge.

Right on: You can call him Al ... or maybe you can't.

You see this cat Schoendienst is a bad mother: Schoendienst's longevity is astounding. Nineteen years as a player, 14 years as a manager, 30-plus more years as a coach and 90 years on this earth. He'll be 91 in February. It's totally cool that you can find a card of Schoendienst in the 1948 Bowman set and the 1990 Topps Traded set.

Shut your mouth: Schoendienst fought a well-publicized battle with tuberculosis in the late 1950s, but in a Sports Illustrated article, he fumed over the attention he received for coming back from the disease. "For over a year now it's been TB, TB, TB. I'm a ballplayer, not a doctor or a patient. This story you wrote here is just too dramatic for me. It just wasn't that tough."

No one understands him but his woman: On the same day Schoendienst got married, his new bride, Mary, watched him play a game a third base. During the game, a line drive nearly decapitated Schoendienst. After the game, the team's manager congratulated Mary on her marriage. She thanked him, then said, "Please get Red off third base before he gets killed."

(A word about the back): That .993 fielding mark mentioned lasted until Ryne Sandberg broke it in the mid-1980s.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

no. 238 - chuck dobson

Who is the man: Chuck Dobson. continuing with a solid five-year stretch for the A's, set career highs in 1970 for games pitched, innings pitched, wins, complete games and shutouts. He also set career highs for walks, home runs allowed and runs allowed.

Can ya dig it: I've said it before, I'll say it again, I don't think there's really a ball in that glove.

Right on: There is something odd but also funky about the A's old caps that just said "A" on them. They're like The Fonz's team.

You see this cat Dobson is a bad mother: Dobson is featured on the fifth card in this set in most memorable fashion.

Shut your mouth: Dobson was known to voice his opinion and it got him in trouble with regard to amphetamines. He admitted to using "greenies," and when Commissioner Bowie Kuhn cracked down on players' use of the drug in spring training of 1971, Dobson told the Sporting News: "If the commissioner says we can't use them anymore, then the next time someone asked me whether I use them, I'll say no, go around the corner and pop." Dobson and Kuhn had a conversation after that.

No one understands him but his woman: Dobson and Reggie Jackson were the first interracial roommates in baseball history in 1968.

(A word about the back): At least one of those league-best shutouts in 1970 was pitched by Dobson on an amphetamine high.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

no. 237 - cesar cedeno

Who is the man: Cesar Cedeno made his major league debut in June of 1970 and went on to hit .310 in 355 at-bats, finishing fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting (he received one vote).

Can ya dig it: Cedeno cards were always cool in the 1970s. Love the old Astros logo patch. That's how I remember the Astros logo.

Right on: Rookie card! He's no older than 19 in this photo.

You see this cat Cedeno is a bad mother: Anyone compared to Willie Mays early in their career is a bad mother. Thank you, Leo Durocher.

Shut your mouth: Durocher, expanding on his Cedeno-Mays comparison in a UPI article in 1973: "What I've said is there will never be a better player than Willie Mays. In my opinion anyway. At this stage of his career though, Cesar Cedeno is as good as Willie was when he was 22. He's a fantastic ballplayer. Positively fantastic. He could turn out to be as great as Willie. Like I say, though, I don't think there'll ever be a better ballplayer than Mays."

No one understands him but his woman: There are a lot of directions I could go here, as Cedeno had well-known, even tragic, experiences with women. But let's go with this Cedeno quote:

"I never get any endorsements or commercials. I've never understood why. I have an accent, but so does Ricardo Montalban."

(A word about the back): Just to give younger collectors an idea of the build-up for this guy, here are snippets from the first few Cedeno card backs:

1971: "Cesar has the potential to be a super-star."
1972: "Hailed as NL's next super-star ..."
1973: "One of the major league's most exciting players ..."
1975: "Perhaps baseball's next super-star ..."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

no. 236 - bob humphreys

Who is the man: Bob Humphreys was wrapping up his major league career with this card. He pitched in 28 games with the Brewers in 1970 after being released by the Senators in midseason.

Can ya dig it: Humphreys looks like a grumpus on most of his cards. This is as close to a smile as he showed on seven years of Topps cards.

Right on: Final card right here.

You see this cat Humphreys is a bad mother: Humphreys played for the World Series champion Cardinals in his first full season in the major leagues in 1964. He appeared in one game against the Yankees in that Series, pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth in an 8-3 loss by the Cardinals in Game 6.

Shut your mouth: Humphreys said he learned how to throw a fastball and curve ball as a kid from a pamphlet put out by Wheaties. "There was no coaching," he said. "When I was in high school, we had a coach who was a Spanish teacher. He didn't know squat about baseball."

No one understands him but his woman: Humphreys was told in a 1963 major league evaluation, "you can't make it." He wrote that sentence down in his glove and used it as motivation at the start of a nine-year MLB career.

(A word about the back): "Bob had 3 saves for the Brewers in 1970." ... That's a hell of a lead.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

no. 235 - nate colbert

Who is the man: Nate Colbert was becoming the first big slugger in Padres history at the time this card appeared. He slammed a career-high 38 home runs for San Diego in 1970.

Can ya dig it: The crop job on this card is a little odd to me. It makes me wonder what is on the ground by Colbert's feet that we aren't supposed to see.

Right on: I know I'm done with this set, but seeing a card in such great condition like this one makes me want to upgrade a bunch of the '71s I have. And that would get expensive.

You see this cat Colbert is a bad mother: All these years later, Colbert still holds the Padres' mark with career home runs with 163.

Shut you mouth: When Colbert was playing for the Astros near the start of his career in 1966, Houston was playing the Yankees in an exhibition game in the Astrodome. Mickey Mantle was taking batting practice and it was Colbert's first time seeing The Mick. "Oh, my gosh, hey guys, that's Mickey Mantle!" Colbert said to his teammates. His teammates replied calmly, "I know."

No one understands him but his woman: Colbert retired at age 30 because of back problems. If not for that, he could have become one of the great sluggers of the 1970s and '80s.

(A word about the back): I would assume setting the record for games played is like getting the perfect attendance certificate in school. You're not turning down the award, but you're not exactly bragging about it either.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

no. 234 - jim lyttle

Who is the man: For the second straight card, we have someone making their solo card debut. Jim Lyttle appeared on a two-player rookie card in the 1970 set, but after having the most productive season of his eight-year major league career, he earned his own card in the '71 set.

Can ya dig it: Lyttle's beady little blue eyes match the skyline.

Right on: This is an upgrade of a really ratty version of this card that I had. It was once one of the most beat-up cards in my set.

You see this cat Lyttle is a bad mother: I think his 1976 SSPC card is fantastic, and I must have it some day.

Shut your mouth: Lyttle has just three solo Topps cards, one each with the Yankees, White Sox and Expos. I just found out doing research that Lyttle ended his MLB career with the Dodgers in 1976. It's rare that someone from this time period plays for the Dodgers and I don't know it. I'm kind of stunned.

No one understands him but his woman: After his MLB career ended in 1976, Lyttle went to Japan where he became a successful slugger. He hit 33 homers and drove in 100 runs with a .318 batting average in 1981. He also won the Japanese League gold glove award four times.

(A word about the back): "Jim showed well." I don't know if that's an actual thought.

Friday, November 15, 2013

no. 233 - larry bowa

Who is the man: The always prickly Larry Bowa had finished off his rookie season as this card appeared in packs. He placed third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1970, behind the Expos' Carl Morton and the Reds' Bernie Carbo.

Can ya dig it: So much going on this photo. It looks like the team's headed off the field and the photographer grabbed Bowa for a shot. But Bowa's wearing a batting glove. And then there's the random discarded glove on the ground. I'm so confused.

Right on: This is the sixth rookie trophy so far in the set. The left side of the infield is complete, along with the catcher, pitcher and two outfielders.

You see this cat Bowa is a bad mother: Bowa's temper tantrums on and off the field both as a player and manager are well-documented. He wore out his welcome with the Phillies, Cubs and Padres.

Shut your mouth: Bowa famously called out Cubs manager Jim Frey in his autobiographical book, "Bleep" during the 1980s. Bowa was upset because Frey sat him for the much younger Shawon Dunston. He called Frey a "minor league bum" for not playing in the majors and said Frey preferred three-run homers to singles. Who wouldn't?

No one understands him but his woman: Bowa has ended his gig as an analyst at the MLB Network to coach for the Phillies in 2014. Like many of the MLB Network analysts, I didn't find him very informative.

(A word about the back): Bowa's father, Paul, played for mostly Class C California teams between 1941-47 and managed in 1946 and 1947. Also, I don't know what the hell the bio is talking about here. Bowa's "fine" on-base average was .277 in 1970.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

no. 232 - john strohmayer

Who is the man: John Strohmayer was embarking on his second season in the major leagues upon the arrival of this card. His rookie year was 1970.

Can ya dig it: Rookie card!

Right on: This underlines the idea that smiling in photos makes you look younger. Maybe Strohmayer is trying to look determined, but he looks a whole lot older than someone who was no more than 24 when this picture was taken.

You see this cat Strohmayer is a bad mother: Strohmayer was a member of the 1973 National League champion Mets. Picked up on waivers in July, he appeared in seven games for New York, But he didn't make the postseason roster.

Shut your mouth: After his major league career, Strohmayer went into teaching and worked his way all the way up to superintendent. In 2009, as superintendent of the Gateway School District in Redding, Calif., he was one of 15 employees to share a $76 million lottery jackpot. No surprise, Strohmayer retired that same year.

No one understands him but his woman: Strohmayer pitched in Puerto Rico during the MLB offseason. He remarked in the book "Baseball Without Borders" how amazed he was that baseball games were not canceled after heavy rains. Instead, after the rain had stopped, fans came out of the stands and joined with team members to get the field in playable shape.

(A word about the back): Strohmayer didn't start a single game for the Expos in 1970. The write-up must be referring to his minor league career.

Monday, November 11, 2013

no. 231 - indians rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Vince Colbert and John Lowenstein received their first "cup o' coffee" (they don't use that term enough anymore) in the majors in 1970. Lowenstein played in 17 games for the Indians. Colbert pitched in 23 games. I guess that's more than a cup of coffee, huh?

Can ya dig it: That's Lowenstein? I don't recognize him without the mustache, glasses and brillo-pad hair.

Right on: Another Yankee Stadium shot in the Lowenstein photo.

You these rookies are bad mothers: What they're bad at is convincing anyone they're bad-ass. Get lost, rookie.

Shut your mouth: It seems like a lot of these 1971 rookies became future broadcasters. Lowenstein was another one, working as an analyst for the Orioles for 10 years.

No one understands him but his woman: Colbert would receive just one solo card, in the 1972 set, and that was it. His last MLB season was 1972.

(A word about the back): Lowenstein was known for being a joker. I wouldn't be surprised at all if those Little League and Babe Ruth stats are made up.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

no. 230 - willie stargell

Who is the man: Willie Stargell was entering what would be a ferocious season for him. He'd pound out 48 home runs, knock in 125 runs and help the Pirates to a World Series title in 1971.

My observation on the front: I've mentioned this before, but Stargell looks rather skinny on his early '70s cards, at least when you compare him with, say, 1977 through the end of his career.

Right on: There was a lot more concrete showing in 1970s stadiums.

You see this cat Stargell is a bad mother: One of my favorite baseball quotes is about Stargell. It came from pitcher Don Sutton. "He doesn't just hit pitchers," Sutton said., "he takes their dignity."

Shut your mouth: When Stargell was a coach for the Braves in the late 1980s, a young Barry Bonds started heckling him during a visit to Pittsburgh, telling him "I'm what it's all about now." When Stargell stormed off, Bonds scrambled after him to apologize, saying he was joking. Stargell said: "You better get some more lines on your baseball card before you talk to me like that."

No one understands him but his woman: Stargell was called both "fat" and "old" during his career, but enjoyed the best moments of his career (1969-74 and 1978-79) immediately after those insults.

(A word about the back): The record for extra base hits in one game is still five, held by several players.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

no. 229 - jim hannan

Who is the man: Jim Hannan pitched his ninth and final season for the Senators in 1970, starting 17 of the 42 games he appeared in for Washington. He was traded to the Tigers in early October, 1970 in the deal that sent Denny McLain to the Senators.

Can ya dig it: For a long time, this probably has been my least favorite card in the vast 1971 set. Cap-less ballplayers always drew a frown from me, but the unkempt hair, the large ear as a focal point and Hannan's traditional dour expression (it appeared on several of his cards) made it especially undesirable. If I was collecting in '71, it would definitely be one of those cards I tried to sneak in my friends' card stacks.

Right on: Final card of Hannan's career right here.

You see this cat Hannan is a bad mother: Hannan is chairman of the board for the Major League Baseball Players' Alumni Association. His bio on the organization's website claims that Hannan's masters thesis on the MLB pension plan was what Marvin Miller studied to familiarize himself with MLB's benefit system.

Shut your mouth: Hannan said that he realized that the Senators were moving to Texas two years before it happened. In 1970, the Senators were leaving spring training to go to Arlington, Texas, to play an exhibition against the Pirates. Hannan puzzled why they'd go to Arlington when they had so much to do in Washington to get ready for the season. The light bulb flickered -- Hannan said he knew then that owner Bob Short would move the team.

No one understands him but his woman: Hannan was the target of some righteous booing by one person who felt he hasn't done enough for MLB alumni.

(A word about the back): "Traded to the Tigers for 1971." Well, 1971 with the Tigers lasted just seven games. Hannan was traded to the Brewers in May and that's where he spent the majority of '71.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

no. 228 - wayne garrett

Who is the man: Wayne Garrett had completed his sophomore season in the majors upon the arrival of this card. He made the same number of plate appearances (454) as he did his rookie season, but hit 36 points higher (.254-.218).

Can ya dig it: That is almost the same pose that Garrett is striking on his 1972 Topps card. In fact, Garrett is shown fielding on his first three cards.

Right on: I wonder if the guy behind Garrett is on the same team? It doesn't look quite like a Mets uniform but that's probably because it's so far away. Nobody on the Mets wore a number in the 50s on the 1970 team, but it could be a coach.

You see this cat Garrett is a bad mother: Garrett was a big reason why the Mets reached the World Series in 1973. He hit .333 in September with six home runs, then hit two more in the World Series against the A's.

Shut your mouth: Garrett was nicknamed "Red" because of his hair. But he was also called "Huckleberry Finn" because of his youthful looks. He didn't like that nickname.

No one understands him but his woman: Garrett spent much of 1971 fulfilling a military obligation and hit only .213 in limited time. Despite a strong 1970 season, the Mets felt they had a hole at third base and before the 1972 season famously traded pitcher Nolan Ryan to the Angels for infielder Jim Fregosi, who they expected to start at third.

(A word about the back): Garrett played 70 games at third and 45 at second in 1970. It'd be the last season he'd split time between the two positions until 1976. He spent most of his time at third between 1971-75.

Monday, October 28, 2013

no. 227 - floyd weaver

Who is the man: Floyd Weaver had enjoyed his most productive season since 1965 by appearing in 31 games for the White Sox in 1970. In fact, '65 was also the most recent time he had pitched in the major leagues.

Can ya dig it: This has the appearance of a night card, but I think Weaver is simply posing in front of a darkened dugout.

Right on: This is Weaver's final card. He had only three.

You see this cat Weaver is a bad mother: Weaver still holds the record for the most strikeouts in a game for an NJCAA pitcher. He struck out 21 for Paris Junior College on May 10, 1961 in Grand Junction, Colo.

Shut your mouth: Floyd is not a first name you hear much anymore. The most recent major leaguer with the first name of Floyd was pitcher Floyd Bannister, although Butch Henry, who pitched as recently as 1999, had the given name of Floyd. Meanwhile, Weaver's given name was actually David.

No one understands him but his woman: Weaver married his wife, Betty, in 1968, a year in which he was out of baseball. No word on whether he took the year off to marry Betty.

(A word about the back): "Floyd was sent to Tucson, 11-70" sounds ominous. But the Brewers did pick up Weaver in 1971 and he pitched in 21 games for them (albeit not very well). He spent 1972 and 1973 pitching in the minors for the Cubs. After his baseball career, he became an X-ray technician.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

no. 226 - bill russell

Who is the man: Bill Russell was still roaming the outfield in 1971 after his second part-time year in the majors. In 1970, he played in a few more games and hit a little better than in '69.

Can ya dig it: The '71 Russell card in my Dodger binder is in much better shape than this one. I feel like I gave you leftovers here.

Right on: Those old-style black batting gloves make it look like the player is about to knock some heads.

You see this cat Russell is a bad mother: Russell just helped celebrate the 40th anniversary of the start of the longest running infield, which featured himself, Steve Garvey, Dave Lopes and Ron Cey. The four were starters for the Dodgers between 1973-81.

Shut your mouth: Russell received a lot of criticism for his fielding when he was with the Dodgers. But manager Tommy Lasorda stuck with him through it all. Later, after Russell succeeded Lasorda as Dodgers manager, they had a falling out as Russell believed Lasorda was responsible for his firing.

No one understands him but his woman: Russell came into a tough situation when he took the Dodgers manager job in 1996 after Lasorda suffered a heart attack. It didn't get any better as he encountered problems with some of the Dodger pitchers, catcher Mike Piazza was traded in a highly controversial deal, and the O'Malleys sold the team to Fox.

(A word about the back): I don't know why I always think Russell is from Oklahoma. Kansas is not Oklahoma.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

no. 225 - gary peters

Who is the man: Gary Peters had completed his first season with the Red Sox, after being traded from the White Sox in 1969, when this card was issued. He won 16 games with a 4.05 ERA, capitalizing on the productive Boston lineup.

Can ya dig it: Peters is known as a White Sox pitcher, as he had his greatest success in Chicago and spent 11 seasons there. But I saw this card very early in my collecting career and had never heard of Peters, so I equate him with being a Red Sox pitcher.

Right on: That's a pensive look on his face.

You see this cat Peters is a bad mother: The American League Rookie of the Year in 1963, Peters won 29 games in his first two full seasons with the White Sox.

Shut your mouth: Peters hit so well that he was used often as a pinch-hitter. In 1971, he pitched in 34 games, but played in 19 more, hitting .271 with three home runs, four doubles and 19 RBIs.

No one understands him but his woman: It took Peters four call-ups to the White Sox before he finally stuck. He was considered by some as nothing more than a decent Triple A pitcher.

(A word about the back): Peters gave up almost exactly a hit per inning in 1971. Good thing the Red Sox batted .262 as a team that year (the league average was .250).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

no. 224 - alan gallagher

Who is the man: Alan Gallagher broke into the Giants' lineup after five years in the minors and hit .266 in his first 109 major league games in 1970.

Can ya dig it: When I was first learning about players who appeared on cards just before I started collecting, I was fascinated by players like Gallagher, who began their careers just a few years before I started buying cards but were no longer on cards anymore. Who was this Alan Gallagher? And why was his career so short?

Right on: This is the fifth rookie trophy shown so far on the blog. Right now, we have a catcher, pitcher, two outfielders and a third baseman.

You see this cat Gallagher is a bad mother: Gallagher's nickname was "Dirty Al," which he received when he played in college. During a 25-game hitting streak, he refused to change his uniform or even his underwear.

Shut your mouth: Gallagher was a prized draft pick by the Giants, but struggled to meet expectations. Sent to instructional league in 1969, his manager, Hank Sauer told Gallagher that he couldn't take instructions. Gallagher decided to show his manager and appeared at 8 a.m. each day to work with Sauer.

No one understands him but his woman: Gallagher was regarded as flaky during his big-league career (perhaps the not-changing-the-uniform thing may have tipped them off). He wore wildly colorful clothes that didn't necessarily match and sometimes would practice his slide techniques in the airport terminal when the team was waiting for a flight.

(A word about the back): That's the rare profile shot. I should see how many of those are in the set.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

no. 223 - cecil upshaw

Who is the man: Cecil Upshaw did not pitch a single game in 1970, suffering a freak injury in spring training. But he still received a card.

Can ya dig it: With the way the clouds in the background are positioned, it appears as if Upshaw's left ear is smoking.

Right on: Upshaw looks a little bit like Randolph Mantooth, the actor who is probably known more now for roles in soap operas, Sex in the City and Sons of Anarchy but I knew as John Gage in the '70s paramedic show, Emergency! Granted, Upshaw is not nearly as dreamy.

You see this cat Upshaw is a bad mother: Upshaw was a key part of the 1969 National League West champion Braves, serving as the closer on that team and saving 27 games.

Shut your mouth: Upshaw was the player representative for the Braves during a time of labor strife in baseball. His declining skills probably didn't help but Upshaw was dealt from the Braves to the Astros to the Indians to the Yankees to the White Sox all between 1973-74.

No one understands him but his woman: Depending on which account you read, Upshaw was injured in 1970 because he either took his teammates up on a bet that he couldn't touch an awning or because he was demonstrating his dunking skills. Either way, the ring on his pitching hand caught in the awning and doctors had to reconnect the resulting severed artery in his ring finger.

(A word about the back): Upshaw's injury is often listed as one of baseball's most bizarre/infamous, so it's amusing to see the bio merely mention "a finger injury." I suppose nearly severed fingers don't go well with bubble gum.

Friday, October 11, 2013

no. 222 - bob watson

Who is the man: Bob Watson received the most significant amount of playing time in his young career in 1970, playing in 97 games after trips back and forth from the minors from 1966-69.

Can ya dig it: "Bull" looks like a little kid in this photo, not at all like the large man with tinted glasses that I remember from his later cards.

Right on: This is another one of the first 1971 Topps cards I ever saw. Someone I knew must have had it but I don't remember who. Watson was also one of the first 1975 Topps cards I ever owned. So I became pretty familiar with his career early on.

You see this cat Watson is a bad mother: Watson was the guy who got the crowd on the side of the Bad News Bears in  the movie "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training." When Watson says "come on, let the kids play!," it sparks a "Let Them Play" chant by the entire Astrodome crowd.

Shut your mouth: When Bob Watson was playing for the Braves in 1983, he said, "we're only one player away from being the best team in baseball -- Steve Carlton."

No one understands him but his woman: Watson worked for MLB as the vice president  in charge of discipline, rules and on-field operations. He handed out penalties after baseball brawls and got a lot of grief for it. Then there was the time when he said that Red Sox manager Terry Francona couldn't wear his pullover during games, calling it a "nightshirt."

(A word about the back): Losing players to military service was a very real fact of life for teams in 1970. This article documents how many teams lost dozens of players for weeks at a time in the middle of the 1970 season. Watson started two weeks of service on Aug. 1 of that year.