Friday, August 29, 2014

no. 324 - graig nettles

Who is the man: Graig Nettles had just completed his breakout season in 1970, hitting 26 home runs in 157 games for the Indians.

Can ya dig it: A pretty cool action shot of Nettles in a stadium I should know, but I don't because I was 4 in 1970 and everything looks different. Topps revisited this Nettles pose when he was with the Yankees.

Right on: This is Nettles' first card in which he's wearing an Indians uniform. He's listed as an Indian in the 1970 Topps set, but he's really in a Twins uniform.

You see this cat Nettles is a bad mother: Grrrrr, something about Game 3 of the 1978 World Series, grrrrr.

Shut your mouth: Nettles badmouthed Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in the book "Balls," which was released before the 1984 season. It earned Nettles a trade to San Diego in March of that year.

No one understands him but his woman: I remember when Nettles contracted hepatitis in 1980 and had to miss a lot of the season. It was the first time I had heard of anyone getting hepatitis.

(A word about the back): Nine days late on posting this on his 70th birthday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

no. 323 - billy champion

Who is the man: After appearing in 23 games as a rookie in 1969, Billy Champion spent most of his 1970 season in the minors. What few appearances he had in the majors that year didn't end well.

Can ya dig it: Billy's first name isn't Billy at all! It's Buford! It's right there in the signature! (Champion's middle name is Billy. Not "Bill", but "Billy", like a good North Carolina boy).

Right on: Somewhere between now and 1975, Champion acquired the habit of dotting the I's in his signature with circles.

You see this cat Champion is a bad mother: I have mentioned this at least a few times, but I always thought "Billy Champion" was the best name for an athlete ever.

Shut your mouth: The Phillies traded Billy Champion and Don Money to the Brewers in 1972. That's right, they traded two of the most awesome baseball names of the '70s in the same deal. They deserved to lose all their playoff series that decade.

No one understands him but his woman: Champion worked as a pitching coach for a professional team in Taiwan in 2010.

(A word about the back): As a youngster, Champion was known for impressive strikeout games like the 22-K game. He also struck out 19 in a game for the Gastonia, N.C. Legion team in 1964.

Monday, August 25, 2014

no. 322 - jim beauchamp

Who is the man: In 1970, Jim Beauchamp returned to the team that signed him in 1958. Beauchamp played four games for the Cardinals in 1963 before being traded to Houston. He was reacquired by the Cardinals in June 1970.

Can ya dig it: I'm not sure what to admire more, the windbreaker under Beauchamp's uniform or the final flourish on his signature.

Right on: I finally figured out how to pronounce Beauchamp's name tonight. It is "BEE-champ".

You see this cat Beauchamp is a bad mother: Beauchamp managed in the Braves minor league system for Greenville and Richmond during the mid-to-late 1980s. Players who would gain fame on the early '90s Braves teams -- John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Dave Justice, Ron Gant, etc. -- played first for Beauchamp.

Shut your mouth: Beauchamp has a baseball field named after him in his hometown of Grove, Okla. Beauchamp's name in French translates to "beautiful field."

No one understands him but his woman: The final at-bat of Beauchamp's career came in Game 7 of the 1973 World Series as a member of the New York Mets. With the Mets down 4-0 (they would lose 5-2), Beauchamp struck out looking against Ken Holtzman for the third out of the fifth inning.

(A word about the back): I'm going to assume, since the write-up doesn't say, that "25.2" is related to points scored.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

no. 321 - tom matchick

Who is the man: Tom Matchick had completed his first major league season with someone other than the Tigers in 1970. He split the season between the Red Sox and the Royals.

Can ya dig it: Actually, I can't. This is one of my least favorite cards in the entire set. The sloppy blacked-out cap and the super close-up view does not make me happy.

Right on: I announced on the blog way back that I would start keeping track of the blacked-out caps and then I forgot about it. So now it's updated, and I promise I won't forget again.

You see this cat Matchick is a bad mother: When Bob Gibson struck out a record 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series, Matchick was not one of them. A pinch-hitter in that game, he grounded out to first base. Matchick and fellow pinch-hitter Gates Brown were the only Tigers to not strike out in that game.

Shut your mouth: Matchick was traded from the Red Sox to the Royals for first baseman Mike Fiore in May of 1970. Topps was able to get Fiore into his new team's uniform (he was featured earlier in the set), but it couldn't do the same for Matchick. Also this is the second straight card of Matchick in which he's wearing a blacked-out cap. He's listed with the Red Sox in the 1970 Topps set, but his cap is airbrushed.

No one understands him but his woman: Matchick and his wife, Linda, have offered foster care for more than 30 children.

(A word about the back): The home run referenced  in the write-up happened on July 19 of that year. His home run came with two outs in the ninth and Moe Drabowsky on the mound for the Orioles. It was a highly anticipated game as the Tigers attracted more fans for the game than they had in seven years.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

no. 320 - dave mc nally

Who is the man: Dave McNally had finished his third straight 20-win season in 1970, piling up 24 victories. He also won a game in the ALCS and the World Series and became the only pitcher to hit a grand slam in the Series when he went yard against the Reds' Wayne Granger in Game 3.

Can ya dig it: Fittingly enough, McNally appears to be on top of the world in this photo. Look at that flag in the distance. It's tiny.

Right on: This is one of the first 1971 cards I ever saw. I don't remember the circumstances, but the card was in a lot worse shape than this one.

You see this cat McNally is a bad mother: Well, the guy did hit a grand slam in the World Series. But your probably want something else. Well, let's see, he also won 20 games in a season four straight years. He's the greatest baseball player to come out of the state of Montana. Oh, and he also helped bring down baseball's reserve clause.

Shut your mouth: Even though he helped open the door to huge baseball salaries, there were some aspects of free agency that confused McNally. When Alex Rodriguez signed his 10-year, $252 million deal with Texas, McNally told the Billings Gazette, "My first thought when I saw that was: Did Texas offer him $250 million and he wanted two more? How did they get to $252 million?"

No one understands him but his woman: Shortly after McNally announced his retirement from the Expos in 1975, he suffered a bout of the hiccups. They lasted so long that he was hospitalized. About two weeks later, they ended. "I think he's quite relieved," his wife, Jean, said.

(A word about the back): Those 277 hits allowed led the American League in 1970.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

no. 319 - ty cline

Who is the man: Ty Cline was entering his final season in the big leagues when this card arrived in packs. He had participated in his first season with the Reds -- his sixth major league team -- in 1970.

Can ya dig it: That's a rather heroic pose for a role player. The blue sky, the shot from underneath.

Right on: Final card of his career.

You see this cat Cline is a bad mother: This is the last of three cards of Cline in the 1971 set. The other two came in the NLCS subset.

Shut your mouth: Cline did enjoy a fine NLCS against the Pirates in 1970, but in the World Series, he and his team were on the wrong end of one of the more notable blown calls in history. In Game 1, with the score between the Reds and Orioles tied 3-3 and runners on first and third in the sixth inning, Cline hit a high chopper in front of the plate. Bernie Carbo ran in from third and Orioles catcher Elrod Hendricks fielded the ball and tagged Carbo with an empty glove while holding the ball in his bare hand. Umpire Ken Burkhart, who had fallen to the ground with his back to the play, called Carbo out.

No one understands him but his woman: After his career, Cline became a baseball club owner, taking over the Pirates' affiliate in his hometown of Charleston, in the Western Carolina League. Cline, who went in on the project with friend Bill Edwards, was told at the time that he was the first former MLB player to own a minor league team.

(A word about the back): Nice work by Topps getting in Cline's feats from the postseason. You'd think they would have that anyway because of the NLCS cards that appeared earlier in the set, but sometimes I think bios were written super early in the process.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

no. 318 - rudy may

Who is the man: Rudy May finished his third year with the Angels in 1970, ending with a 7-13 mark and a 4.01 ERA. He was in the middle of a four-year stretch when he was a regular starter with California.

Can ya dig it: This is the second of five classic Angels action cards in the set. The first was way back at card No. 78. The others will show up rapidly now.

Right on: I love the placement of May's very excellent autograph. So random, so unexpected.

You see this cat May is a bad mother: In his first big-league start on April 18, 1965, May pitched a nine-inning one-hitter for the Angels against the Tigers ... and the Angels lost the game. The game went into extra innings tied at 1-1. May was replaced for the 10th inning, and the Tigers would go on to score three runs in the 13th against two relievers.

Shut your mouth: During May's first spring training in Florida, he was in a segregated clubhouse, but he didn't know it was segregated for the first week. A fellow black player had to tell him, "why are you drinking out of the fountain? You're not supposed to do that, there's a bucket in the back for us to drink out of."

No one understands him but his woman: May's wife, Eleanor, was a female member of the Los Angeles soul group, the Superbs. When she married May, she left the group.

(A word about the back): I'd be impressed about striking out 23 batters in a Legion game, but I'm too distracted by the arbitrary abbreviation of League when there was plenty of space to spell it out.

Monday, August 11, 2014

no. 317 - athletics rookie stars

Who is the man: Jim Driscoll finally achieved some major league playing time in 1970, appearing in 21 games for the A's, after nine years in the minors. Angel Mangual spent all of 1970 playing for the Pirates' Triple A team in Columbus, Ohio.

Can ya dig it: Mangual is actually wearing a Pirates uniform in this photo. He was traded from Pittsburgh in October 1970 as the player to be named in the deal a month earlier in which the Pirates acquired pitcher Jim "Mudcat" Grant from the A's.

Right on: Driscoll looks like a pitcher to me.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: No they aren't. They're rookies. How did the A's win a World Series title two years later with guys like this coming out of the minors?

Shut your mouth: Mangual, who appeared on all three of the A's World Series winning teams from 1972-74, was arrested in 1997 as part of a drug bust in his native Puerto Rico. Mangual, arrested along with 21 others, was accused of being an intermediary between sellers and buyers as part of a heroin and cocaine trafficking ring run by a 35-year-old woman. Mangual told reporters after his arrest that he never had to make "a living off drugs."

No one understands him but his woman: Driscoll would never appear on another Topps card.

(A word about the back): The "infield" designation implies a variety of positions played. I don't know where Driscoll played in the minors, but in 1970 for the A's, he played second base and shortstop.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

no. 316 - fred scherman

Who is the man: Fred Scherman had just enjoyed his first complete season in the major leagues when this card was issued. He appeared in 48 games, all in relief, in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Still not believing there's a ball in that glove.

Right on: Rookie card!

You see this cat Scherman is a bad mother: Scherman led the Tigers in saves with 20 and American League relief wins with 10 in 1971.

Shut your mouth: Scherman was a figure in the firing of Tigers manager Billy Martin in 1973. Martin ordered pitchers Joe Coleman and Scherman to throw spitballs in retaliation for the Indians' Gaylord Perry doing the same. Three days later, after it became known that Martin issued the order, the Tigers fired their manager.

No one understands him but his woman: Scherman surrendered Frank Robinson's 500th career home run.

(A word about the back): I missed posting on Scherman's 70th birthday by 10 days.

Friday, August 1, 2014

no. 315 - ron fairly

Who is the man: Ron Fairly had just completed his first full season for the Expos when this card was created. After steadily declining with the Dodgers over the previous few years, his career enjoyed a little bump in 1970.

Can ya dig it: The two-handed scoop! None of this one-handed ole stuff for Ron.

Right on: Love me a chain-link fence in the background of a baseball card. ... Oh, and palm trees.

You see this cat Fairly is a bad mother: Fairly batted .379 (11-for-29) with a couple of home runs in the 1965 World Series, which the Dodgers won in seven games over the Twins.

Shut your mouth: Fairly had a difficult time adjusting to the Expos after he was traded from L.A. in 1969. "When I showed my four-year-old son, Mike, where I would be playing (on a map) after the trade," Fairly said, "he looked at me sadly and asked, 'Does this mean I don't have a daddy anymore?'"

No one understands him but his woman: Fairly was the first player to appear in the All-Star Game for both Canadian franchises, the Expos and the Blue Jays.

(A word about the back): Fairly appeared in the 1959, 1963, 1965 and 1966 World Series for the Dodgers.