Tuesday, September 30, 2014

no. 334 - roberto pena

Who is the man: Roberto Pena was entering his final season in the major leagues in 1971. He was acquired by the Brewers early in the 1970 season.

Can ya dig it: Pena looks like a tough guy in all of his previous cards. So it's nice that they got him to smile for once.

Right on: Last card of his career!

You see that cat Pena is a bad mother: Pena hit the only inside-the-park grand slam in the history of County Stadium, the Brewers' home park from 1970-2000. It happened on May 30, 1970 against the Tigers when Al Kaline and Jim Northrup collided while trying to field an innocent fly ball. Kaline swallowed his tongue on the play and was hospitalized for the night.

Shut your mouth: Pena died from accidental alcohol poisoning at age 45.

No one understands him but his woman: Pena is the first position player with his surname to make the major leagues. He would be followed by the likes of Wily Mo Pena, Tony Pena (three times), Geronimo Pena, Carlos Pena and pitcher Alejandro Pena. The first Pena in the majors was pitcher Orlando Pena.

(A word about the back): Possibly the first time I've seen hit by pitches listed as a league leading stat for a minor league player. Also, the Sophomore League lasted from 1958-61 and featured the Albuquerque Dukes for two of the years. They were a Class D farm team of the Kansas City A's at the time.

Friday, September 26, 2014

no. 333 - clay kirby

Who is the man: Clay Kirby recovered somewhat from losing 20 games in his rookie season for the 1969 rookie Padres by going 10-16 with a 4.56 ERA in his sophomore year with San Diego.

Can ya dig it: Batting helmet on a pitcher. Got to love it.

Right on: The first card after a subset is much like the first lines of a play after intermission.

You see this cat Kirby is a bad mother: Kirby went 15-13 with 231 strikeouts in 1971. He was the first Padres pitcher to surpass 200 strikeouts and the first Padre with a winning record with more than 12 decisions.

Shut your mouth: The Padres haven't thrown a no-hitter, and Kirby is often cited as one of the pitchers that came closest to doing so. In 1970, Kirby was no-hitting the Mets, despite trailing 1-0, when Padres manager Preston Gomez yanked him for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning in hopes of generating some offense. It didn't work and the Padres still don't have a no-hitter. Four years later, Kirby was a member of the Reds and the Astros'  Don Wilson was no-hitting them. Preston Gomez was the Astros' manager and Wilson was losing the game 2-1 in the eighth. The Reds' Don Gullett asked Kirby if he thought Gomez would yank Wilson. "I guarantee it," Kirby said. He was right. Wilson was pulled and the Astros lost 2-1.

No one understands him but his woman: Kirby lost two other no-hitters in the eighth inning in 1971, one to the Astros and one to the Giants.

(A word about the back): The first sentence of his bio tries very hard not to reference how many games he lost in 1969. It does pretty good at it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

no. 332 - 1970 world series, celebration!

Who is the man: The man is the Orioles' Mike Cuellar, the starting pitcher in the decisive Game 5 who threw all nine innings (novel concept) so he could be mobbed by his teammates when the final out was made in the 1970 World Series.

Can ya dig it: A baseball championship celebrated during the daytime!

Right on: I can identify only a few people in this photo. Mike Cuellar, Merv Rettenmund, Bobby Grich and some dude in 1970s golfing slacks. Also, it would be nice if the front mentioned which team this was.

You see these Orioles are bad mothers: The Orioles hit .292 as a team and blasted 10 home runs in this Series.

Shut your mouth: This photo reminds me of this. "All I've got is the backs!"

No one understands him but his woman: Tony Perez, who went 4-for-12 in the NLCS, was a miserable 1-for-18 with four strikeouts in the World Series.

(A word about the back): Look at all those stats (and tiny type)! I'd love to see complete stats like that on modern cards -- hell, I'd like to see a card for every World Series game on modern cards.

Friday, September 19, 2014

no. 331 - 1970 world series, game 5

Who is man: The man is Brooks Robinson -- finally, we get around to the star of the Series in this subset -- whose fielding exploits were the lasting memory of this World Series.

Can ya dig it: Just a classic early 1970s card. Robinson looks like a man stranded in the desert who hasn't seen water in three days.

Right on: "B. Robinson commits robbery!"????? Call the authorities!

You see this cat Robinson is a bad mother: Robinson provided one last amazing play at third base in Game 5, making a diving backhand catch in foul territory of Johnny Bench's liner to lead off the top of the ninth inning. He also fielded the final play in the series, throwing out Pat Corrales on a grounder to third as the Orioles won 9-3 to clinch the World Series, 4 games to 1.

Shut your mouth: Topps could have picked a few other guys who were more notable in Game 5. Mike Cuellar, after giving up three runs in the first inning, allowed no more and threw a complete game. Merv Rettenmund figured in two scoring innings and hit a home run. Frank Robinson's two-run HR in the bottom of the first started the Orioles back after surrendering three runs in the top of the inning.

No one understands him but his woman: Hal McRae had the big blast -- a two-run double -- in the Reds' three-run first. After winning Game 4, Cincinnati hoped the momentum had turned.

(A word about the back): These backs don't tell you much, except the score and that the Orioles got a lot of hits. But you can watch the entire game.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

no. 330 - 1970 world series, game 4

Who is the man: Well, if this is indeed a photo from Game 4 of the 1970 World Series, then I'm going to say the man is Darrel Chaney. Chaney, who wore No. 12 for the Reds in 1970, was a late-inning replacement at shortstop for the Reds in Game 4. He replaced Woody Woodward in the bottom of the seventh.

Can ya dig it: I believe this is a play near third base in foul territory. The umpire (yes, another umpire photo!) is either third base ump Ken Burkhardt or left field ump Red Flaherty.

Right on: The ball looks like the resin bag. It's not the greatest picture all around.

You see this cat Chaney is a bad mother: The play in the game that matches this photo is Chaney catching a foul pop off the bat of the Orioles' Davey Johnson behind third base for the first out of the ninth inning. The Reds were ahead 6-5 at this point and would win Game 4 by that same score three batters later.

Shut your mouth: The big star in this game was not Chaney but Reds first baseman Lee May, who blasted a three-run home run in the eighth inning to rally Cincinnati from a 5-3 deficit.

No one understands him but his woman: Brooks Robinson continued his smoking World Series, going 4-for-4 in this game with a home run -- all for naught.

(A word about the back): The putouts category threw me as a kid. I could never figure out why the catcher and first baseman always had so many putouts.

Monday, September 15, 2014

no. 329 - 1970 world series, game 3

Who is the man: The man about to cross the plate is Frank Robinson (or "F. Robinson," as the card reads), who hit a solo home run in the third inning, one of his three hits in Game 3.

Can ya dig it: If that is a photo of the aftermath of Robinson's home run, then the person shaking hands with him is Paul Blair, who batted behind Robinson in this game. Blair would single but then was caught stealing second base.

Right on: The home plate umpire in this game was Tony Venzon.

You see this cat Robinson is a bad mother: Robinson singled in the first and scored on Brooks Robinson's two-run double, homered in the third, and singled in the seventh in the Orioles' 9-3 victory. The Orioles led the Series 3-0 at the end of Game 3.

Shut your mouth: There were two stories in this game. Orioles starter Dave McNally pitched a complete game and hit a grand slam in the sixth inning. Also, Brooks Robinson made three amazing plays at third base, prompting a standing ovation from the Orioles crowd when he came to the plate in the sixth. Either one of those stories would have been more appropriate than F. Robinson showing some muscle.

No one understands him but his woman: McNally, who hit the first grand slam by a pitcher in a World Series, wasn't the only pitcher with a notable grand slam to his credit playing in this game. The Reds starting pitcher, Tony Cloninger, is the only pitcher to hit two grand slams in one game, which he did for the Braves in 1966.

(A word about the back): Reading McNally's line here you have no clue that he did anything special.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

no. 328 - 1970 world series, game 2

Who is the man: Left fielder Don Buford is the man shown here. He did indeed go 2-for-4, although I don't know if it was particularly exceptional. There were other Orioles who did more during their second straight win in the Series.

Can ya dig it: That is a wicked cut by Buford. It looks like he's trying for more than a single, which is all Buford got in Game 2.

Right on: I suspect this photo wasn't taken at Riverfront Stadium either. Also, Johnny Bench makes yet another appearance.

You see that cat Buford is a bad mother: Buford led off the game with a base hit. He also provided the second hit in the pivotal five-run sixth inning by the Orioles. He scored the Orioles' third run of the game on a hit by Boog Powell.

Shut your mouth: The star of this game was probably Elrod Hendricks, who capped the sixth-inning rally with a two-run double that put the Orioles ahead 6-4 (they started the inning trailing 4-1).

No one understands him but his woman: The Reds led 4-0 at one point, but Lee May's two-run double in the first inning was pretty much forgotten by the end of the Orioles' 6-5 victory.

(A word about the back): A combined nine pitchers were used in this game. That's more like a modern pitching workload.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

no. 327 - 1970 world series, game 1

Who is the man: Just like the first game of the ALCS, Boog Powell is the man here. Powell's home run was a two-run blast in the fourth inning that kicked off the Orioles' scoring. The Reds had led 3-0 until his home run.

Can ya dig it: Full-color photos for the World Series! This was the first time Topps had used full-color photography in its World Series subsets since probably 1963 (I believe the color WS subsets in 1964 and 1965 were mostly colored-in black-and-white photos). I'm sure these were out-of-sight cool in 1971, because they're still cool now.

Right on: That's Johnny Bench behind the plate.

You see this cat Powell is a bad mother: After Powell's home run, Elrod Hendricks followed with a tying home run in the fifth, and Brooks Robinson put the Orioles ahead for good with solo home run in the seventh. The Orioles won 4-3.

Shut your mouth: Robinson was a bigger deal in the game than Powell. Not only did his home run decide the game, but he began what this World Series would become known for with his first terrific play at third base. Robinson's backhand snare of Lee May's hard grounder and throw to first came the inning before the decisive home run.

No one understands him but his woman: This was the first World Series game ever played on artificial turf. When Robinson was asked if he could play field on artificial turf, Robinson said, "I'm a major league third baseman. If you want to go play in a parking lot, I'm supposed to stop the ball."

(A word about the back): Robinson also had an error in this game. Nobody ever brings that up.

Friday, September 5, 2014

no. 326 - richie scheinblum

Who is the man: Richie Scheinblum was a minor league player in 1970. He didn't appear in the majors at all. Yet, Topps was kind enough to give him a card.

Can ya dig it: Scheinblum was signed by the Indians and spent the first six years of his pro career with them. He's actually wearing an Indians jersey in this picture.

Right on: Sweaty and cap-less. Not a good combination.

You see this cat Scheinblum is a bad mother: Scheinblum led the American Association in batting when he hit .388 in 1971. It was the highest batting average in the AA in 20 years.

Shut your mouth: Scheinblum's mother was born in the Ukraine and related to Moe Berg, the former MLB catcher who worked as a spy during World War II.

No one understands him but his woman: Scheinblum moved on to play in Japan after his major league career ended. He played for the Hiroshima Carp and helped the team make the Japanese World Series. Scheinblum was Jewish and when Yom Kippur landed on the same day as a World Series game, he didn't play. The Japanese were fascinated by this. "Fifty Japanese reporters came to my apartment to watch me pray," Scheinblum said.

(A word about the back): I think this is the first card where 1970 is nothing but zeroes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

no. 325 - juan marichal

Who is the man: Juan Marichal endured probably the worst season of his career to date in 1970. After back-to-back 20-win seasons, he managed just 12 victories (against 10 losses) and his ERA sailed over 4 for the first time. It was pretty much the beginning of the end, although Marichal would bounce back for one more good year in 1971.

Can ya dig it: With the way Marichal pitched and fell off to the left side of the mound, I don't think he was ever as ready for a comebacker as he is displaying in this here photo.

Right on: I'm pretty certain if I was a Dodger rooter in the 1960s that he would be my least favorite player.

You see this cat Marichal is a bad mother: Dude bludgeoned a catcher over the head for tickling his ear with a return throw to the mound.

Shut your mouth: One of Marichal's nicknames was "Laughing Boy" because he always seemed to be smiling.

No one understands him but his woman: Marichal never won a Cy Young Award and was passed over for the Hall of Fame twice.

(A word about the back): It still bothers me that '71 Topps in its write-ups would go all the way back to minor league statistics for established veteran players.