Monday, March 31, 2014

no. 277 - gary waslewski

Who is the man: Gary Waslewski was acquired by the Yankees from the Expos in May of 1970 and appeared in 26 games for New York, mostly in relief.

Can ya dig it: This card is off-center left to right and the image of Waslewski is also skewed to the right. It makes the whole card look off balance.

Right on: I can tell just looking at the picture that Waslewski is a lanky man. And looking at the stats, I'm right: 6-foot-4, 195 pounds.

You see this cat Waslewski is a bad mother: Waslewski was the surprise Game 6 starter for the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series. Waslewski was a rookie that year and hadn't started a game since July. But he held St. Louis in check and the Red Sox would go on to win that game, 8-4.

Shut your mouth: Waslewski played for a lot of memorable teams, including the Impossible Dream Red Sox, the first Montreal Expos team, and the Swingin' A's of 1972. Of the A's, Waslewski pointed out Reggie Jackson as "Mr. Mouth, always shooting his mouth off."

No one understands him but his woman: If that woman's name is Dick Williams, that is. Waslewski played for three different teams managed by Williams, the Red Sox, Expos and A's.


(A word about the back): Waslewski reached double figures in victories five times in the minor leagues. He didn't win more than four in a season in the majors.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

no. 276 - giants rookie stars

Who is the man: Guess which player spent more time with the big club in 1970? It wasn't George Foster. Mike Davison pitched in 31 games for the Giants, while Foster managed just nine and five at-bats. He played in 114 games for Triple A Phoenix.

Can ya dig it: George Foster's rookie card, man. Doesn't get much better than that.

Right on: Foster is either about to kill someone or he's smelled something that's already died.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: How many times must I say that rookies aren't bad ass ... well, maybe I can permit this one exception because of Foster. That's possibly the most bad-ass rookie card of all-time.

Shut your mouth: Davison would not appear in another major league game after this card came out, which is totally unfortunate because he should have received a card to himself in the 1971 set. There are plenty of players in this set that didn't pitch in as many as 31 games in a season the previous year and still received a solo card.

No one understands him but his woman: Davison missed three years in pro ball by serving in the Vietnam War from 1966-68.

(A word about the back): Davison should have had his 1970 major league stats on the back of this card instead of his minor league ones. I bet that was annoying.

Monday, March 24, 2014

no. 275 - vada pinson

Who is the man: Vada Pinson had completed his first season for the Cleveland Indians when this card was released. He enjoyed a brief career resurgence with his 1970 season. It would temporarily delay what had become an annual tradition of Pinson getting traded in the offseason, which happened in 1968 and 1969 ... and again in 1971 and 1974.

Can ya dig it: One of the outstanding cards of the '71 set, as Topps rookie star Thurman Munson makes what would be several card cameos during his career.

Right on: This photo shows Pinson getting tagged out by Munson on a throw from center field by Bobby Murcer during the eighth inning of the first game of a doubleheader on June 24, 1970. But for a very detailed and awesome account of this game and card, you need to go here.

You see this cat Pinson is a bad mother: Pinson led the league in hits twice, doubles twice and triples twice.

Shut your mouth: When Cincinnati sportswriter Earl Lawson wrote that Pinson would hit .350 "if he would only bunt once in awhile instead of going for homers," Pinson took a swing at Lawson.

No one understands him but his woman: Pinson was so quiet during his first major league spring training in 1958 that coach Jimmy Dykes spoke to him in gestures and broken English because he thought Pinson was Hispanic.

(A word about the back): Some very brief research tells me "Vada" means "famous ruler" and is German in origin. It also was most popular as a girl's name in the first half of the 20th century.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

no. 274 - ron slocum

Who is the man: Ron Slocum was coming off his rookie season entering 1971. He played in 60 games as a backup infielder and hit .141. He'd play in only seven more games in his MLB career.

Can ya dig it: That "infield" position designation is spot on. In 1970, Slocum played 19 games at catcher, 17 at shortstop, 11 at third base and nine at second.

Right on: I never realized how severely miscut this card is until I scanned it. It took several tries to make it look halfway straight.

You see this cat Slocum is a bad mother: Slocum had played in just three major league games and gotten one at-bat, when the Padres started him at third base on Sept. 16, 1969. He went 2-for-4 and hit a two-run home run in the second inning against the Astros.

Shut your mouth: This is Slocum's only solo card (he appears on a three-player rookie stars card in the 1970 set).

No one understands him but his woman: There is not much notable information out there on Slocum. So here are a couple Sporting News file photos of him fielding and posing. Enjoy.

(A word about the back): That robust career .179 batting average would drop to .150 by the end of his career.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

no. 273 - pete richert

Who is the man: Pete Richert was entering 1971 after being the World Champion Orioles' most effective relief pitcher in 1970, compiling a 1.98 ERA in 50 games.

Can ya dig it: Richert is pretending to throw warm-ups in Miami Stadium, which is where the Orioles held spring training through the 1960s, 70s and much of the 80s. You can see the palm trees, of course, and the tell-tale outfield light towers.

Right on: That hand is almost 3-D.

You see this cat Richert is a bad mother: Richert set a major league record in his career debut by striking out the first six batters he faced in 1962. Richert was pitching for the Dodgers against the Reds. Among the players he struck out, on what was the defending National League champions at the time, were Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson.

Shut your mouth: Richert once roomed with Orioles reliever and noted prankster Moe Drabowsky. Afterward, in 1969 when Drabowsky was playing for the Royals against the Orioles, he snuck out of the bullpen and began to pelt the area where the Orioles relievers sat with baseballs and stones.

But Richert and fellow reliever Eddie Watt got their revenge two days later. A loud explosion went off in the Royals bullpen, the result of a cherry bomb blast. The two Orioles relievers admitted the deed was in retaliation. Said Drabowsky, "They're the only two crazy enough to do stuff like that."

No one understands him but his woman: Richert helped propel Tony Conigliaro's comeback season in 1969. After a devastating beaning, Conigliaro was in his first game back as the Red Sox started their season against the Orioles. Congiliaro hit a two-run home run in the 10th inning against Richert to tie the game 4-4. Two innings later, Conigliaro scored the game-winning run.

(A word about the back): Richert pitched to a single batter to get his save in Game 1 of the 1970 World Series. With the Orioles ahead 4-3 and Pete Rose on first base after a two-out walk, Richert got the Reds' Bobby Tolan to line out to end the game.

Friday, March 14, 2014

no. 272 - tommy helms

Who is the man: Tommy Helms was entering his final season with the Reds in 1971 before heading off to the Astros in the deal that brought Joe Morgan to Cincinnati.

Can ya dig it: Helms has posed with hands on hips a few different times on his cards (1974 and 1975 Topps, too). This is the first ... and the most wistful.

Right on: Helms featured a few distinctive hairstyles on his cards. This, obviously, is the sideburn phase.

You see this cat Helms is a bad mother: Helms forced Pete Rose to move from second base to left field. Helms was trained as a shortstop, but started his MLB career as a third baseman. In 1967, the Reds put Tony Perez at third and moved Helms to second. Helms also replaced Rose as a manager -- twice -- when Rose was suspended for bumping an umpire in 1988 and when he was suspended from baseball for accusations of gambling on the sport.

Shut your mouth: Helms on the 1970 Reds team that made the World Series: "You've heard of the Big Red Machine? I'm just a hubcap."

No one understands him but his woman: Helms hit one home run in 1970 (and 34 in his 14-year MLB career). His homer bounded off the left field foul pole and when he arrived back at the dugout, two of his teammates were on the floor, pretending to have fainted, while other teammates fanned them with towels.

(A word about the back): Sorry, the editor is annoyed with the first sentence. So many extra words. It should say, "Tommy's great defensive play saved first game of 1970 NL playoffs for Reds." Actually, it'd be better to describe the defensive play rather than just call it "great."

The play happened in the third inning. In a scoreless game, with Pirates Matty Alou and Gene Alley on second and third, respectively, Pittsburgh's Dave Cash rocketed a shot to the right of Helms at second base. Helms dove to stop the ball and then threw out Cash at first for the third out. The Reds would prevail in 10 innings with three runs in the 10th.

I guess Topps couldn't get all that in the write-up. Thus, "great."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

no. 271 - bill zepp

Who is the man: Bill Zepp was a Detroit Tiger by the time this card appeared in packs. He was traded by the Twins in March of 1971.

Can ya dig it: Still love the classic hands-over-head pitching pose, although once again I am sure there is no ball in that glove.

Right on: This is Zepp's only solo card. He appears on a three-player "rookie stars" card in the 1970 Topps set.

You see this cat Zepp is a bad mother: Zepp's major league debut came at Yankee Stadium in the eighth inning on Aug. 12, 1969. He retired Roy White and Bobby Murcer on ground balls and struck out Thurman Munson.

Shut your mouth: Zepp's career was cut short in 1971 by an elbow injury. This was almost four years before Tommy John surgery so Zepp just packed up and called it a career.

No one understands him but his woman: When Zepp was called up to the major leagues for the first time in 1969, it occurred shortly after the incident between Twins manager Billy Martin and pitcher Dave Boswell in which Martin knocked out Boswell. When Zepp arrived with his new team, the first person he saw was Martin. Zepp went up to greet his new manager and Martin put out his left hand and shook Zepp's hand feebly. Only later did Zepp learn why Martin did that.

(A word about the back): When Zepp pitched for the University of Michigan, he was drafted three straight years by the Braves in 1965, Tigers in 1966 and Red Sox in 1967 and did not sign each time. Zepp said he didn't sign because he didn't have a good career at Michigan (winning only six games his whole college career) and didn't have the confidence or desire to perform in the majors then.

Monday, March 10, 2014

no. 270 - rico carty

Who is the man: Rico Carty enjoyed the best season of his 15-year major league career in 1970, leading the National League with a .366 batting average, the highest average since Ted Williams hit .388 in 1957. But by the time this card arrived in packs, Carty was shelved for the 1971 season, suffering a broken knee in winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Can ya dig it: It looks like Carty shortened his full name, Ricardo Adolfo Jacobo Carty, in his signature by abbreviating "Adolfo".

Right on: I believe Carty is taking his hacks before a game against the Mets in Shea Stadium.

You see this cat Carty is a bad mother: Carty once punched teammate Hank Aaron in the face during a fight on a team flight.

Shut your mouth: The fight came about because Carty was talking loudly in Spanish with some of his teammates. Aaron thought they were talking about him and he told them to speak English if they were going to talk about him.

No one understands him but his woman: . The outspoken Carty was also involved in disputes with teammate Ron Santo and managers Frank Robinson and Whitey Herzog.

(A word about the back): Carty may have started his pro career as a catcher, but he played just 17 games at catcher in the majors, all during the 1966 season.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

no. 269 - gail hopkins

Who is the man: Gail Hopkins was new to the Royals in 1971. He was dealt from the White Sox on Oct. 3, 1970. Good thing Topps snapped that cap-less shot of Gail during the photo session.

Can ya dig it: I can't help but notice there is plenty of sky above Hopkins' head, obviously to avoid showing the lettering across his uniform.

Right on: I'm not sure how many cap-less cards there are in the 1971 set. It seems like there are quite a few. I should start counting them.

You see this cat Hopkins is a bad mother: Hopkins played in Japan after his major league career ended in 1974. He set a club mark for the Hiroshima Carp with 33 home runs in 1976.

Shut your mouth: Hopkins found out he was called up the major leagues for the first time when he was in a movie theater. The manager came in and tapped Hopkins on the shoulder. Hopkins thought something had happened to his family. But the manager said, "You've been called up to Chicago."

No one understands him but his woman: After his baseball career ended, Hopkins pursued a medical career, going through medical school together with his wife, Carol. He became a successful orthopedic surgeon and both his son and daughter are doctors.

(A word about the back): I wonder if kids collecting back in '71 were suspicious of the K.C. on the cap knowing that he was new to the Royals. (I know as a kid collecting in 1975, I had no idea).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

no. 268 - phillies

Who is the man: The Philadelphia Phillies were the second worst team in the NL East entering the 1971 season. Only the second-year Expos kept them out of the basement in 1970.

Can ya dig it: This is the first team card since way back when I displayed the first card in the set. I had no idea that all the team cards arrived much later in the set.

Right on: I'm not sure what that light green area is -- perhaps a mat to make the guys sitting on the ground a little more comfortable?

You see this cat Lucchesi is a bad mother: I believe manager Frank Lucchesi is dead center in the middle row, wearing No. 1.

Shut your mouth: I can't name a lot of players in this picture as the 1970 Phillies are sort of anonymous and their numbers aren't very visible. I do know a young Larry Bowa is the sitting on the ground third from the left. Next to him is Tony Taylor. In the back row, fourth from the right is Rick Wise. Next to him is Woodie Fryman. That's about all I've got.

No one understands him but his woman: I'm going to guess that the man in the splendid red jacket is either general manager Jim Quinn or owner Robert Carpenter Jr.

(A word about the back): It's interesting to me that the color background behind the stats here is a light green but with the Orioles team card it was white.