Sunday, December 28, 2014

no. 363 - mike nagy

Who is the man: Mike Nagy suffered from the sophomore slump in 1970, posting a 4.47 ERA and six wins in 23 games after coming in second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1969.

Can ya dig it: Nagy appears braced for a comebacker.

Right on: Always appreciate a shot of Fenway Park in the background.

You see that cat Nagy is a bad mother: Nagy was the AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1969, going 12-2 for the Red Sox in his first season.

Shut your mouth: Nagy, a Bronx native, made his first major league start against the Yankees in 1969. He beat Mel Stottlemyre and New York 2-1, allowing three hits in 6 2/3 innings.

No one understands him but his woman: Nagy pitched very well in the Mexican League after his major league career was over. But the road trips were so long that it began to affect Nagy physically. After one season, he came home 20 pounds lighter. "What happened to you?" his wife said.

(A word about the back): Baseball-reference credits Jim Palmer with the best AL win percentage in 1969 (.800). Nagy had 196.2 innings pitched in 1969, perhaps that wasn't enough.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

no. 362 - orioles rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Mike Adamson and Roger Freed spent most of their 1970 season playing for Triple A Rochester. Freed did appear in four games for the Orioles, going 2-for-13.

Can ya dig it: The word "outfield" is smeared on this card, like they used too much black ink.

Right on: Freed hit the bejesus out of the ball for Rochester in 1970, hitting .334 with 130 RBIs in 138 games.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: Nope. They're not. Yeah, I know the Orioles were the defending World Champs entering the 1971 season, but it doesn't mean these rookies had anything to do with it.

Shut your mouth: Freed put up excellent minor league numbers and struggled in the majors. He was the classic "4A player." A scouting report mid-career said Freed had "too many holes to be a big-league hitter."

No one understands him but his woman: Mike Adamson's major league career was done by the time this card was issued. He appeared in 11 major league games between 1967-69.

(A word about the back): You can see that the Topps Minor League Player of the Year wasn't good enough to avoid being traded that same year. The Orioles acquired pitcher Grant Jackson in the deal.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

no. 361 - don sutton

Who is the man: Don Sutton completed his fifth full season in the majors in 1970 but posted an above-.500 winning percentage for the first time with a 15-13 mark. Despite that, he featured an ERA above 4 (4.08) for one of only three times in his career, gave up the most earned runs in the National League, and surrendered 38 home runs, which would be the most he gave up in a season, by far, until he matched that total in 1987, his second-to-last year.

Can ya dig it: The chain-link fence and the bench gives the feel that Sutton is posing at a Little League field.

Right on: I grew up with the perm-haired Sutton. I remember being shocked by earlier cards of him with straight hair. The first one I saw may have been this one, or his 1968 Topps card.

You see that cat Sutton is a bad mother: Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998, Sutton is seventh all-time in career strikeouts with 3,574.

Shut your mouth: Sutton, always an outspoken guy, has been a well-known broadcaster for the Braves for more than 20 years, with a brief side-trip as a Nationals broadcaster for a couple of years.

No one understands him but his woman: Sutton holds the post-integration record for the most plate appearances without a home run with 1,559. He never hit a home run in his career.

 (A word about the back): This is the last time that Topps gave Sutton a card number ending in a number other than "0" or "5" until the 1985 flagship set. That's for base cards only.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

no. 360 - jim fregosi

Who is the man: Jim Fregosi clubbed what would be a career high 22 home runs in 1970 for the Angels. He also drove in a career high 82 runs batted in and was named an All-Star for the fifth straight year.

Can ya dig it: Fantastic photo. You could see this thing in this year's Stadium Club (with a bigger photo and no border, of course). The Angels have some great action shots in this set.

Right on: Check out those stirrups. That's how I remember players wearing them. I didn't know you could wear them any other way.

You see that cat Fregosi is a bad mother: In 1969, Fregosi was named the Greatest Angel Ever in a fan poll. That's pretty good, even if the team had been around for only nine years.

Shut your mouth: When Fregosi was traded to the Mets in the famous deal that landed the Angels Nolan Ryan, he suffered from a thumb injury and struggled to learn a new position at third base, along with learning a new league. But he also admitted to playing out of shape. "I was leading the good life and loving it. But I was paying for it on the field," he said.

No one understands him but his woman: When Fregosi retired from playing in 1978, he was the last of the original Angels to call it a career.

(My observation on the back): "Another fine season was 1970 for Jim ..."?????? Good golly, where's my red pen?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

no. 359 - ron reed

Who is the man: Ron Reed was coming off a disappointing 1970 season in which he missed nearly half the year. He broke his collarbone in spring training when he tripped over first base during a fielding drill.

Can ya dig it: Should he be raising his arms that far over his head after a broken collarbone? What makes me think this is an old photo?

Right on: That is a good way to hide that fact that there is no ball in your glove.

You see this cat Reed is a bad mother: The man played professionally in two of the "big four" sports. He was a member of the Detroit Pistons from 1965-67 before playing in the major leagues from 1966-84.

Shut your mouth: Reed pitched for the Phillies from 1976-83. When famed Phillies announcer Harry Kalas died, Reed said he cried for the first time since his mom died.

No one understands him but his woman: Before Reed came to the Phillies, he was primarily a starter. When the Phillies told him he was going to be a reliever, he asked to be traded. But with some encouragement from fellow reliever Gene Garber, Reed tried it and he pitched eight more years as a reliever.

(A word about the back): Now that is an interesting write-up! Sure, I already told you most of it, but it's still a lot more interesting than most of the 1971 bios.

Friday, December 12, 2014

no. 358 - danny cater

Who is the man: Danny Cater had completed his first season with the Yankees in 1970, recording the best season of what was then a seven-year career. He rapped out 175 hits and hit .301.

Can ya dig it: Nice action shot. But that could be a simple ground ball to second.

Right on: Cater didn't really play a lot of outfield in 1970, but he did play at least 42 games at third base.

You see that cat Cater is a bad mother: Cater finished second in the American League batting race in 1968 with a modest .290 in the Year of the Pitcher.

Shut your mouth: Cater's last name was mispronounced and misspelled "Carter" so often that Carter became his nickname when he was with the A's and again when he was with the Red Sox.

No one understands him but his woman: Cater was often accused of being lackadaisical because he moved slowly and didn't say much. Cater's response: "Talk is cheap."

(A word about the back): This is just the eighth card in the set to show a player wearing a helmet on the back of the card.

How do I know that? I went back and checked.

Yeah, I don't know why I do stuff like that either.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

no. 357 - reds

Who is the man: The Reds won their first pennant since 1961, setting a franchise record for victories with 102 in 1970. They lost to the Orioles in five games in the World Series.

Can ya dig it: I do believe the team photo was taken in Riverfront Stadium, which was brand-spanking new in 1970. You can see the pride on all of their faces.

Right on: You know, I respect the job that trainers/doctors/clubhouse men do to keep the team operating, but if I was one of them, I wouldn't want to join a bunch of strapping players in uniform for a group picture. There's just no way you're going to look as good as them.

You see that cat Anderson is a bad mother: I believe manager Sparky Anderson is sitting in the center of the first row (just to the right of Pete Rose, who is No. 14 and sitting on the ground). Anderson kicked off a Hall of Fame managing career with this team.

Shut your mouth: Let's ID some people besides Rose and Anderson. Sitting on the ground at the far right is young outfielder Bernie Carbo. Sitting in the first row, second player from the right, I believe, is Bobby Tolan. Standing in the second row, the last player on the right, is pitcher Wayne Granger. Next to him is infielder Woody Woodward and next to Woodward is shortstop Davey Concepcion. On the other side of that row, pitcher Jim McGlothlin is the second player in from the left. Up top, the second player on the left is pitcher Gary Nolan. Next to him, I believe, is first baseman Lee May. Two players over from May is pitcher Wayne Simpson.

No one understands him but his woman: I don't have a good idea where Johnny Bench is in this photo. It's possible he's sitting next to Rose. But he could have missed the shoot for all I know.

(A word about the back): Notice it doesn't say "Black Sox" under the Reds' Series opponent in 1919. It's kind of a pet peeve of mine when people refer to the 1919 White Sox as the "Black Sox" in official stats or stories of record.

Monday, December 8, 2014

no. 356 - bob locker

Who is the man: Bob Locker had just completed his first season with the Oakland A's when this card was created. He was purchased by Oakland from the Milwaukee Brewers in June 1970.

Can ya dig it: I'm sure it was not lost on Mr. Locker that he dressed at his namesake before and after every game.

Right on: Locker has a memorable 1973 Topps card in which he (and an outfielder) are airbrushed from an A's uniform into a Cubs uniform.

You see that cat Locker is a bad mother: Locker pitched for the Seattle Pilots, meaning he was mentioned in Jim Bouton's Ball Four. His most famous moment was nailing warm-up partner Ray Oyler in the privates with a pitch. All of Oyler's teammates fell into hysterical laughter as Oyler crawled around in pain and puked. So you want to be a baseball player?

Shut your mouth: Locker created a touching website tribute to Marvin Miller in an effort to get him elected to the Hall of Fame while he was alive. That didn't happen, but it's terrific reading all of the player testimonials and other stories.

No one understands him but his woman: Locker pitched in 576 games in the majors and did not start a single game.

 (A word about the back): If Locker was a bullpen artist then what were his Oakland teammates Darold Knowles and Rollie Fingers?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

no. 355 - bud harrelson

Who is the man: The man is the guy applying the tag on the left, none other than Derrel McKinley "Bud" Harrelson. He played in a career-high 157 games in 1970.

Can ya dig it: This card is known less for being Harrelson's card and more for Nolan Ryan editorializing at right, giving the out call before the ump has made his decision. (This writer says the Astros runner is Jim Wynn and that he was actually safe).

Right on: The second baseman backing up the play is Ken Boswell.

You see this cat Harrelson is a bad mother: Well, other than appearing on one of the more memorable cards in the 1971 Topps set, Harrelson famously fought Pete Rose during the 1973 NLCS.

Shut your mouth: The dust-up between Rose and Harrelson was initiated when the Reds took offense to Harrelson's remark about how the Reds batted in the Mets' 9-2 victory in Game 2 of the NLCS. Harrelson said of the Reds: "They looked like me hitting." That caused Joe Morgan to threaten to punch out Harrelson during pregame warm-ups and then tell him that Rose would try to take him out at second base if he had a chance.

Baseball is so weird.

No one understands him but his woman: Harrelson is the only Met to be in uniform for their two World Series titles in 1969 and 1986. He was the third base coach in 1986.

(A word about the back): This nicely-ripped back mentions Harrelson's 54-game errorless streak, which has since been broken several times and has now been doubled. Mike Bordick holds the mark at 110 straight games.

Monday, December 1, 2014

no. 354 - don mc mahon

Who is the man: Don McMahon, pitching for his seventh and final major league team, appeared in 61 games in relief for the Giants in 1970 and saved what would be a career-high 19 games.

Can ya dig it: Is that a police officer in the distance?

Right on: I'm always impressed by players who appeared on cards in three decades during their careers. McMahon was in the 1958 Topps set, the 1972 Topps set and all the sets in between.

You see this cat McMahon is a bad mother: When McMahon retired, he had accumulated 874 games pitched and only Hoyt Wilhelm, Lindy McDaniel and Cy Young had pitched in more. McMahon is now 33rd on the all-time list.

Shut your mouth: McMahon was traded from the Milwaukee Braves to the Houston Colt .45s after the season had started in 1962. McMahon was upset that Braves manager Birdie Tebbetts hadn't used him much that year before he was traded and told the press about it. McMahon later received a letter from his mother telling him to stop saying bad things about Tebbetts.

No one understands him but his woman: McMahon served as both a pitcher and the team pitching coach for the Giants in 1972. In 1973 and 1974 he was officially just the Giants' pitching coach, but San Francisco activated him each year to pitch in games.

(A word about the back): The old firemen standings were delightfully simple: wins + saves = Rolaids Relief Man Award.