Wednesday, January 30, 2013

no. 139 - paul casanova

Who is the man: Paul Casanova's playing time decreased yet again in 1970, and it would be the last time he would play in at least 100 games in a season. He spent the 1970s mostly as a backup catcher.

Can ya dig it: Casanova looks very happy in most of his card photos, especially early in his career.

Right on: Now that the Nationals are around, the novelty of seeing old Senators cards has worn off a little bit for me. Don't get me wrong though, I still think they're cool.

You see this cat Casanova is a bad mother: Casanova caught all 22 innings of a game against the White Sox on June 12, 1967. Washington kept him in the game despite his 1-for-9 performance at the plate. Good thing, because Casanova singled in the winning run in his final at-bat.

Shut your mouth: Casanova runs a baseball hitting academy, along with former major leaguer Jackie Hernandez, in his backyard. Here's a video (there's a brief look at baseball cards in it, too).

No one understands him but his woman: Everyone knows that relief pitcher Tom House caught Hank Aaron's record-setting 715th home run. Not many know Casanova caught Aaron's 716th home run.

(A word about the back): "Paul has increased his average by 33 points over the past two seasons ..."

Not sure if the increase is to .229 that you want to be publicizing that. But, yes, Casanova hit .196 in 1968.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

no. 138 - phillies rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Joe Lis and Willie Montanez tore up Triple A pitching for Eugene, Oregon, in 1970. They each were rewarded brief call-ups in 1970. Lis played in 13 games and Montanez in 18.

Can ya dig it: Both of these guys were playing on other teams by the time I got into baseball cards. The first card of Lis I saw was his 1975 card when he was on the Indians. The first card of Montanez I saw was his 1977 card when he was on the Braves.

Right on: Note the American flag in the bottom right corner of Montanez's photo. It makes the photo much more patriotic.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: Ha! Not rookies! I don't care what kind of hot dog Montanez was!

Shut your mouth: When Lis was in the minor leagues, they moved him to third base. Phillies team president Bob Carpenter was so impressed with him that he said he thought Lis could be better than the Cubs' Ron Santo.

No one understands him but his woman: Here's a video of the San Diego Chicken mimicking Montanez's exaggerated motions at home plate and while trotting around the bases for a home run.

(A word about the back): Montanez played eight games for the Angels in 1966, struck out in both at-bats, and didn't appear in the majors again until 1970.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

no. 137 - marcelino lopez

Who is the man: Marcelino Lopez had already been dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers by April of 1971 after coming off his most successful season since his days as a starting pitcher for the Angels in the mid-1960s.

Can ya dig it: I love any spring training shot where you can see palm trees. It makes viewing the card an instant pick-me-up.

Right on: Check out Marcelino's signature. Did he scribble an "M" and a line for his first name? No sir. All autograph class for Mr. Lopez.

You see this cat Lopez is a bad mother: Lopez broke into the major leagues in a big way, winning 14 games with a 2.93 ERA for the California Angels in 1965. He finished second in the rookie of the year voting to Curt Blefary and received a big-ass trophy on his 1966 Topps card.

Shut your mouth: Lopez defected from Cuba in 1959 at age 16. He told teammates that he knew Fidel Castro, saying that Castro was a big baseball fan but a lousy player.

No one understands him but his woman: Lopez struggled with wildness and arm problems. When he was acquired by the Orioles, manager Earl Weaver would hassle him relentlessly about his inability to throw strikes. But Lopez had a strong season for the 1970 Orioles and Baltimore won the World Series that year.

(A word about the back): Lopez was pitching for the Rochester Red Wings when he threw the no-hitter against Richmond in 1969. It was a 7-inning no-hitter and he allowed a run as Rochester won 5-1.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

no. 136 - duffy dyer

Who is the man: Duffy Dyer had increased his playing time from 29 games in 1969 to 59 in 1970. He was still a backup catcher, though, and he'd remain that way for just about his whole career.

Can ya dig it: I don't think I ever knew that Duffy's real first name was "Don" until this very moment.

Right on: We're in the midst of a run of cards in the set that I traded for as a young teenager. All of them, direct from my friend's older brother's collection, are a little beat up, with the corners taking the brunt of the damage. I should think about updating these as they're from the second series and not costly at all.

You see this cat Dyer is a bad mother: Duffy Dyer was part of one of the best-named catching platoons in baseball history. In 1977, the Pirates gave their catching starts to Duffy Dyer and Ed Ott. That's just great.

Shut your mouth: Duffy Dyer's 1976 Topps card weirded us out. My brother and I made fun of it quite a bit. However, once the 1978 set arrived, Dyer had grown a mustache and suddenly, he didn't look like a goober anymore, but kind of bad-ass. Dyer kept that mustache through the rest of the period that Topps was making bubblegum cards of him. And we shut our mouths.

No one understands him but his woman: Dyer's nickname "Duffy" came from his mother, who was pregnant with him at the time. Laughing very hard at a joke on a radio show called "Duffy's Tavern," Dyer's mom fainted. When she came to, she was in the maternity ward and still groggy. "How's Duffy?" she asked. The nurses took it from there.

(A word about the back): In Dyer's one game of the 1969 World Series, he had one at-bat. He grounded out to Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

no. 135 - rick monday

Who is the man: Rick Monday was entering what would be his sixth and final season with the Athletics. He would be traded at the end of 1971 to the Cubs for pitcher Ken Holtzman.

Can ya dig it: This is one of the first 1971 Topps cards I owned, as you can tell by the beaten corners.

Right on: A terrific "at the batting cage" shot. I don't think I've appreciated how great this photo is.

You see this cat Monday is a bad mother: There has never been anything more bad-ass than Monday running to snatch the American flag from two protesters in the outfield of Dodgers Stadium while a member of the Cubs in 1976. In a true bad-ass statement, Monday said, "If you're going to burn the flag, don't do it around me. I've been to too many veterans' hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it."

Shut your mouth: Monday works Dodger games on the radio with Charley Steiner. I wonder if he's ever said this to Charley?

No one understands him but his woman: Monday can forever say he was the first player ever selected in a Major League Baseball amateur draft. He was the initial choice in the inaugural draft in 1965.

(A word about the back): Topps' arbitrary capitalization of all its letters, which it doesn't do anymore, was something frowned on by my journalism teacher. If the letters aren't initials for anything, then it doesn't get capitalized.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

no. 134 - jose arcia

Who is the man: Jose Arcia had finished his second season with the San Diego Padres when this card arrived. He would not play in the major leagues again after 1970.

Can ya dig it: Another dude choking up on the bat. The '70s were a strange-and-wonderful time.

Right on: This photo is merely a crop job of Arcia's 1970 Topps card.

You see this cat Arcia is a bad mother: Arcia played for Cubs and the Padres in the major leagues. But he played in the minors for six other major league organizations -- the Tigers, Astros, Indians, Cardinals, Twins and Royals. That's how many teams wanted him! ... er, or something like that.

Shut your mouth: Arcia appears again in a Topps set, as a member of the Kansas City Royals in 1973. But he never played in the major leagues for the Royals. His complete major league stats can be found on the back of his 1971 card.

No one understands him but his woman: Arcia actually started out as a pitcher. He pitched his first three years in professional baseball before switching over to shortstop. But Arcia, while a good fielder, never hit well. Possibly why he was a pitcher in the first place.

(A word about the back): Arcia stole 14 bases in 1969, but during two years with the Padres, he was caught stealing 13 times in 30 attempts.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

no. 133 - mickey lolich

Who is the man: Mickey Lolich was coming off his first season as the ace of the Tigers' starting staff but didn't fair so well. After two fine seasons serving as the No. 2 guy after Denny McLain, Lolich led the league in losses (19) and earned runs (115) in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Lolich looks like he's in the middle of nowhere on that field.

Right on: Take a look at this card:

I believe that photo is from the same photo session, if not the exact same photo.

You see this cat Lolich is a bad mother: Lolich won three games in the 1968 World Series, taking the spotlight from fellow pitcher McLain, who had won 31 games that season. If you can overshadow a 30-game winner, you're flat-out bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Lolich was hassled for his "big belly." Lolich blamed it on his posture, saying, "When I'm going good, nobody says anything about it. If I lose a few games, they start saying I'm out of shape."

No one understands him but his woman: Lolich credits meeting his wife, Joyce, in 1964 for his breakout season. She was an airline stewardess and he called her before and after he pitched each game.

(A word about the back): I think Lolich got gypped with the card number. He should have received a number ending in zero or five, as he had the previous two years. Topps apparently saw those 19 loss and took away the honor. Lolich would show them though, winning 25 games in 1971.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

no. 132 - jose laboy

Who is the man: Jose "Coco" Laboy was coming off a sophomore slump season as 1971 began. The runner-up to the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1969, Laboy hit just .199 in 432 at-bats in 1970.

Can ya dig it: This is not a bad card, but it's a come down from Laboy's 1970 card.

Right on: Look the ball into your glove, sir.

You see this cat Laboy is a bad mother: While playing for the Cardinals' minor league team in Raleigh in 1964 (Laboy had a 10-year minor league career before he hit the majors), Laboy got into an ugly on-field incident. He believed the opposing pitcher was throwing at him. So in the 5th inning, he bunted down the first base line. When the pitcher came over to field the ball, Laboy charged at him with his bat, kicking off a brawl. Laboy was arrested and charged with assault. He was fined in court and suspended by the league.

Shut your mouth: During a winter league game in Puerto Rico in 1962, Laboy was playing third for San Juan. The team was beating their opponent very badly and according to the book "The Puerto Rican Winter League," the fans on the San Juan side of the stands stood up and lit matches. Teammate Marv Stahle looked at Laboy and asked what was going on. Laboy said, "A funeral. We're burying them and they're holding a funeral."

No one understands him but his woman: It would be nice if just once Topps referred to Laboy as "Coco" on his cards.

(A word about the back): I just get the feeling from reading the write-up that Topps is overcompensating for that .199 average.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

no. 131 - curt blefary

Who is the man: In 1970, Curt Blefary had returned to the team that had drafted him. He played the year for the Yankees, but by May of 1971 had been traded to Oakland.

What a card: This is the first horizontal card in the set since this card. And I'm wondering if the photos are from the same game, since the same two teams are involved.

Right on: Check out that signature. That's a great one. It takes your attention off the fact that Blefary awkwardly fouled off a pitch.

You see this cat Blefary is a bad mother: Blefary was known to have a temper. When plays didn't go his way, he'd lodge equipment at the dugout wall. There's been speculation that this is what led the Yankees to put the future AL Rookie of the Year on waivers, only to be claimed by the Orioles. But more rational explanations blame the Yankees for leaving him unprotected in error.

Shut your mouth: Blefary's Orioles teammate Frank Robinson called Blefary "Clank" because of his mediocre fielding skills. Once, when the team bus passed a pile of scrap iron, Robinson told Blefary "go get yourself another glove."

No one understands him but his woman: Years after his career, Blefary broke the news to the New York Times that he was an alcoholic and had been since his days in the minor leagues. Until then, Blefary was known for his partying ways, but not pegged as someone who couldn't handle his alcohol.

(A word about the back): Up until this point in his career, Blefary had caught behind the plate only for the Orioles in 1968. This was before the DH, so Blefary was moved there to keep his bat in the lineup.

Friday, January 4, 2013

no. 130 - denis menke

Who is the man: Denis Menke had just finished the last standout season of his 13-year major league career, reaching career highs in hits, RBIs, batting average and on-base percentage in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Love seeing the old-style choking up on the bat, especially a shortstop who drove in 92 runs the preceding year.

Right on: Looks like a pretty good crowd today.

You see this cat Menke is a bad mother: Menke is one of several shortstops who shares the record for participating in the most double plays in a game. He contributed to five double plays turned against the Giants in 1969.

Shut your mouth: Menke struggled between 1965-67 and was criticized by Braves general manager Paul Richards. Menke was dealt to the Astros after the 1967 season, along with Denny Lemaster for Sonny Jackson and Chuck Harrison. Menke proceeded to have some of his finest seasons with the Astros.

No one understands him but his woman: There is one "N" in his name. One. Don't put two in there.

(A word about the back): Nice wax stain there. I believe that's the first one we've come across here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

no. 129 - aurelio monteagudo

Who is the man: Aurelio Monteagudo received his first playing time for the Royals in 1970 after being drafted by Kansas City in the minor league draft in the 1969-70 offseason. He pitched in 21 games after being called up from Omaha.

Can ya dig it: This pose is always weird. Monteagudo is looking in for the sign ... from someone seated in the mezzanine.

Right on: This is Monteagudo's first card since the 1967 Topps set.

You see this cat Monteagudo is a bad mother: Monteagudo left his native Cuba as a young man for Venezuela after Fidel Castro rose to power. Monteagudo became a Venezuelan citizen in 1966.

Shut your mouth: Monteagudo is part of the morbid trivia question about three former MLB Aurelios -- Rodriguez, Lopez and Monteagudo. They all died in car accidents at an early age.

No one understands him but his woman: Monteagudo was well-traveled for his seven years in the majors. He played for five major league teams and 12 minor league ones. Outside of his early cards with the Kansas City A's, this is the only one of his cards in which he's not either airbrushed into a new uniform, hatless, or pictured in a way that hides his old team.

(A word about the back): You mean I could have called him "Monty" without spelling out "Monteagudo" all those times?