Monday, June 30, 2014

no. 305 - reggie smith

Who is the man: Reggie Smith was rounding into form as one of the top American League talents in 1971. He had just enjoyed two straight .300 seasons, the first two of his career. He would play in a career high 159 games in 1971.

Can ya dig it: Just an awesome card. Smith, a switch-hitter, is posing left-handed, which was his home run side.

Right on: It appears as if there are some reporters congregating in the background.

You see this cat Smith is a bad mother: Smith charged into the stands behind the Dodgers' dugout in San Francisco in 1981 after a Dodger-bating fan threw a plastic helmet at him. Nine fans were arrested.

Shut your mouth: Bob Gibson, who was Smith's teammate in 1974 and 1975, called him "Spike," after the angry cartoon guard dog in Bugs Bunny cartoons.

No one understands him but his woman: Smith, who encountered racism when he played in Boston, ended his career in Japan, where he also encountered racist incidents and a series of misunderstandings. Smith and his son, Reggie Smith Jr., were assaulted by fans after he punched out a heckler.

(A word about the back): Smith looks very young to me here. I first became acquainted with Smith from his 1976 Topps card, and then later, of course, as a member of the late '70s Dodgers. He was a veteran by then and very good at what he did. I was surprised when I first learned he had an earlier career in Boston.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

no. 304 - ron brand

Who is the man: Ron Brand was entering his final season in the major leagues after playing as a back up at several positions for the Expos in 1970.

Can ya dig it: I dig that "catcher-inf" position designation. That's not one you see a lot.

Right on: Brand is posing as a catcher but he actually played at shortstop for 10 more games than he did at catcher in 1970. And they were his first appearances at shortstop in his major league career, which was eight years old at the time.

You see this cat Brand is a bad mother: Ron Brand's 1969 Topps card is awesome.

Shut your mouth: Brand lashed out at both the players and owners during the baseball strike of 1981, saying that both were to blame and chastising the game for giving large salaries to players who didn't deserve them. Brand was the Expos' player representative in 1972 during the brief strike that season.

No one understands him but his woman: Brand has seven children. That's a lot of understanding.

(A word about the back): Well, if you haven't fallen asleep after reading the minutiae in the first part of the bio, you get to something interesting buried at the bottom. Glen Brand won gold in freestyle wrestling in 1948 and was such a big deal in Iowa that there is a Hall of Fame in the state called the "Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame of Iowa".

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

no. 303 - lindy mc daniel

Who is the man: Lindy McDaniel was entering his 17th season in the major leagues after setting a career record with 29 saves for the Yankees in 1970.

Can ya dig it: This is one of the most pleasing cards in the entire set. It's in the Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Fame over on my other blog.

Right on: I'd love to know which pitch McDaniel was about to throw. Curve? Forkball?

You see this cat McDaniel is a bad mother: McDaniel is the first relief pitcher to receive a Cy Young Award vote. It happened in 1960 when he was with the Cardinals.

Shut your mouth: Slugger Willie McCovey once said, "I'd rather face a number of (left-handers) than ... Lindy McDaniel."

No one understands him but his woman: McDaniel was an ordained minister who preached at his congregations near his hometown of Hollis, Okla., as well as churches in Missouri and Texas, when he played for the Cardinals. When he was with the Yankees years later, he requested a trade so he could be closer to his ministerial responsibilities. The Yankees sent him to Kansas City in the deal that brought Lou Piniella to New York.

(A word about the back): The record of 32 straight batters retired tied Vic Raschi's record. It was later broken in 1974 when McDaniel was with the Royals ... by his teammate Steve Busby.

Friday, June 20, 2014

no. 302 - phil gagliano

Who is the man: Phil Gagliano was a brand new Boston Red Sox player after being dealt by the Cubs on Dec. 3, 1970. He had spent just one year in Chicago after eight previous seasons with the Cardinals.

Can ya dig it: That's one close look at an Italian smile. Topps had to shrink his signature down to nothing.

Right on: If I was a kid collecting in 1971, I would have hated this card. No cap. You can't see what team he's playing for. Just a giant head.

You see this cat Gagliano is a bad mother: Gagliano made an immediate impact with the Red Sox in '71. After years of struggling at the plate with the Cardinals, he batted a career-high .324 in 81 at bats.

Shut your mouth: Gagliano was in the same high school class as Tim McCarver and they graduated Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, Tenn., together. Both signed with the Cardinals with bonuses, although McCarver's bonus was about $65,000 more than Gagliano's. "We were the gold dust twins," Gagliano said. "Tim got the gold, I got the dust."

No one understands him but his woman: Gagliano always wanted a chance to start and thought he was branded as a utility player with the Cardinals, because he could play so many positions.

(A word about the back): Poor Ralph! One game! He didn't even get an at bat.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

no. 301 - earl wilson

Who is the man: Earl Wilson had finished up his major league career when this card came out. The 1970 season was his last. He split it between the Tigers and the second-year Padres.

Can ya dig it: It's fortunate that we have a card of Wilson as a Padre. He was released by San Diego in January of 1971 and promptly retired. Perhaps Topps had the card already made up and didn't want to pull it.

Right on: Final card issued during his career.

You see this cat Wilson is a bad mother: Wilson was known for being an excellent hitter. For his career, he hit 35 home runs in 740 at bats.

Shut your mouth: Wilson experienced a famous racist incident while a member of the Red Sox. He went out for a drink at a bar in Florida with two white teammates, Dennis Bennett and Dave Morehead. The bartender told Wilson "we don't serve niggers here," which caused all three players to walk out of the bar. Wilson relayed the incident to a Red Sox reporter, but asked him not to report it. The reporter agreed, but another reporter got wind of it and wrote a story, focusing on the Red Sox players' "carousing." A couple of months later, Wilson was dealt to the Tigers, and he and others believed it was because the incident came to light.

No one understands him but his woman: Wilson was one of the first pro athletes to have an agent. He hired one in 1962, kicking off what would be a productive career for sports agent Bob Woolf.

(My observation on the back): Wilson is a little cheated here because his final card comes in the '71 set. He could have had complete stats from 1959-1970 on the back of his last card.

Friday, June 13, 2014

no. 300 - brooks robinson

Who is the man: Brooks Robinson had solidified himself as a World Series legend the previous year, putting his defensive prowess on display against the Reds in the 1970 Fall Classic.

Can ya dig it: This is not a flattering photo of Robinson, especially after he hit .484 during the previous postseason.

Right on: That dot in the "I" in "Robinson" looks like a 12-year-old girl signed his name.

You see this cat Robinson is a bad mother: You'll see it in a minute, but anytime the back of you card mentions that you were the MVP of the previous year's World Series, that's bad ass.

Shut your mouth: An AP writer famously wrote: "Brooks never asked anyone to name a candy bar after him. In Baltimore, people name their children after him."

No one understands him but his woman: Robinson met his wife, Connie, an airline stewardess, on a team flight. Fifty years of marriage later, she's helped care for him through his various illnesses in the last few years.

(A word about the back): What the heck, let's harp on the typos again. There needs to be an "s" on the end of Assist in the write-up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

no. 299 - ed kirkpatrick

Who is the man: Ed Kirkpatrick had completed his second season for the second-year Kansas City Royals when this card was made. Kirkpatrick played even more in 1970 than he did in 1969, basically taking over the starting catcher role.

Can ya dig it: This is the fourth Royals action shot in the set (Rojas, Severson and Piniella are the others). I want to say either the Royals or the Yankees have the most. I should start keeping track.

Right on: Kirkpatrick is showing off his guns. And his sideburns.

You see this cat Kirkpatrick is a bad mother: Kirkpatrick manhandled Reds manager Sparky Anderson during a fight between the Pirates and the Reds in 1974. After the Reds' Jack Billingham brushed back Pirates pitcher Bruce Kison in retaliation for a brush back pitch Kison threw at Dave Concepcion, the benches emptied. As the players milled around, Anderson accidentally stepped on Kirkpatrick's foot and Kirkpatrick shoved him, touching off the brawl, which is now known for Reds pitcher Pedro Borbon biting Pirates pitcher Daryl Patterson on the neck.

Shut your mouth: Kirkpatrick was nicknamed "Spanky" for his facial resemblance to Spanky McFarland of the Little Rascals.

No one understands him but his woman: Kirkpatrick was partially paralyzed in an automobile accident in 1981 and forced to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. His wife, Judy, remained with him until his death in 2010.

(A word about the back): I was about to pounce on the fact that the bio mentions Kirkpatrick as a veteran of Little League ball AND that the bio abbreviates "league" twice for no apparent reason. But then I saw that little nugget about Kirkpatrick's first hit. Nice info. Then I looked it up. It happened on April 13, not April 15.

Monday, June 9, 2014

no. 298 - jim nelson

Who is the man: Jim Nelson was entering his second season in 1971 after completing a fairly memorable rookie year in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Maybe if I had put my name on my glove I wouldn't have had it stolen in fourth grade.

Right on: Rookie card! Only card!

You see that cat Nelson is a bad mother: Nelson won the first three starts of his career, a feat that wouldn't be duplicated by a Pirates pitcher until Gerrit Cole in 2013.

Shut your mouth: In a book about Forbes Field, Nelson is quoted as he recalls the mayhem at the end of the final game at the stadium in 1970. "After the game, the fans stormed the field and took everything, grass, bases, numbers off the scoreboard," said Nelson who was the winning pitcher that day. "I even saw some old ladies with parts of chairs. It was a real scene."

No one understands him but his woman: According to his obituary -- Nelson died in 2004 -- he enjoyed handing out $5 bills to the homeless every Christmas.

(A word about the back): If it wasn't for all that time in the minors (seven years), Nelson wouldn't have had much of a baseball career. He pitched just 2 years in the majors and according to this write-up, played for just one year in high school.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

no. 297 - johnny briggs

Who is the man: Johnny Briggs was entering his final season with the Phillies in 1971. In fact, he had probably been traded to the Brewers by the time collectors received this card.

Can ya dig it: Briggs is referred to as "Johnny" on most of his cards (not all), but you can see his signature is "John."

Right on: Briggs is one of those fun guys whose hair gets progressively longer on his cards each year. The difference between his 1965 and 1976 Topps cards is terrific.

You see this cat Briggs is a bad mother: On Aug. 4, 1973, Briggs, who hit 18 home runs that season, went 6-for-6 from the lead-off position in the Brewers' 9-4 victory over the Indians. He didn't drive in a single run.

Shut your mouth: According to Bill James' Historical Abstract, Briggs was the catalyst for a incident between teammates Dick Allen and Frank Thomas in 1965. Allen felt that Thomas, who was known for having some fun with the rookies, was going overboard with Briggs. When Thomas was in the cage hitting, Allen said something that irked Thomas, who said something that irked Allen. That led to a brawl and Thomas was released by the Phillies after the game that day.

No one understands him but his woman: Briggs worked as a corrections officer for 25 years after his career. His wife was a detective in the same sheriff's department in Passaic County.

(A word about the back): American Legion highlights. (*shakes head*)

Monday, June 2, 2014

no. 296 - tom timmerman

Who is the man: Tom Timmerman was coming off the most notable season of his career when this card was issued. He saved 27 games in 61 appearances for the Tigers in just his second season.

Can ya dig it: Not a lot in this photo is still around. Tiger Stadium was demolished in 2009, that glorious scoreboard in the background disappeared long before that, and Timmerman ditched his black-rimmed glasses for his 1974 Topps card.

Right on: But good ol' Tom stuck with those frames for longer than most of his 1960s counterparts.

You see this cat Timmerman is a bad mother: Timmerman's save and appearance total in 1970 were both Tigers records.

Shut your mouth: Detroit sportswriters elected Timmerman the "Tiger of the Year" for the 1970 season, even though he fell off badly the final two months of the season and finished with a 4.11 ERA.

No one understands him but his woman: Timmerman didn't make his major league debut until he was 28 and was stuck in Triple A for more than five years. He even quit baseball after being sent down to Double A at age 25 before being talked into returning.

(A word about the back): Ah, remember fireman point totals? Rolaids Fireman Of The Year!