Friday, January 30, 2015

no. 374 - clete boyer

Who is the man: Clete Boyer was entering his last season in the major leagues in 1971. He may have been released by the time his card was pulled from packs, getting his pink slip on June 2, 1971.

Can ya dig it: The jaunty way Boyer wears his cap conflicts with his sneering stare.

Right on: That is some backstop behind Boyer.

You see that cat Boyer is a bad mother: Boyer led the American League in putouts, assists and double plays from 1961-63, but lost out on the Gold Glove each year to Brooks Robinson.

Shut your mouth: Boyer was just 33 when he was released by Atlanta. He feuded with general manager Paul Richards and after balking at the team's midnight curfew, Richards said, "For such a lousy player, Boyer sure does a lot of talking."

No one understands him but his woman: Boyer and his brother, Ken, were the first brothers on opposite teams to hit a home run in a World Series game. In Game 7 of the 1964 World Series, Ken homered first for the Cardinals and Clete homered two innings later for the Yankees.

(A word about the back): Regarding the write-up: In other words, pay no attention to the batting stats, Boyer could field.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

no. 373 - tom mc craw

Who is the man: Tom McCraw wrapped up his eighth and final season with the White Sox in 1970. He was a member of the Washington Senators by the time this card hit packs. He was dealt to Washington in late March 1971.

Can ya dig it: I can dig that that is a Yankee who is leading off of first base, but can't tell you who he is.

Right on: I wonder how many times Tom McCraw was called Tom McGraw. I know I've wanted to do it.

You see that cat McCraw is a bad mother: McCraw hit three home runs in one game for the White Sox against the Twins on May 24, 1967. He drove in eight runs as Chicago won 14-1.

Shut your mouth: When McCraw was a coach, he would tape conversations with the greatest hitters of the day -- Willie Stargell, Frank Robinson, Wade Boggs and others -- and play those tapes for his hitters. The tapes were meant to give his players insight into the thought process of the best hitters in baseball when they were at the plate.

No one understands him but his woman: McCraw made three errors in one inning during a game in 1968.

(A word about the back): McCraw's career batting average at this point was .240, but he would finish in 1975 with a career batting average of .246. He hit .260 during his final five seasons.

Monday, January 26, 2015

no. 372 - lew krausse

Who is the man: Lew Krausse won 13 games in his first season with the Brewers in 1970. It would be the second-best win total of his 12-year career. But he lost 18 games in 1970, too.

Can ya dig it: Krausse is not even looking at where that pitch is going.

Right on: Lew's working on a chaw.

You see that cat Krausse is a bad mother: Krausse pitched a three-hit shutout for the Kansas City A's against the L.A. Angels in his major league debut as an 18-year-old in 1961. He hadn't even pitched in the minors at that point and was straight out of high school.

Shut your mouth: Krausse was a victim of one of Moe Drabowsky's many pranks. Drabowsky, an Oriole and a former teammate of Krausse's with the A's, called the bullpen during a game and told the coach to get Krausse warming up. So Krausse started warming. Then Drabowsky called again and told the coach to sit Krausse down. So Krausse did. Drabowsky repeated the same calls. Then on the third go-round, he asked the coach to put Krausse on the phone. When Krausse got on the line, Drabowsky asked him, "(Are you) warm, Lew?" Krausse recognized the voice right away.

No one understand him but his woman: Krausse was part of a huge flap between A's owner Charlie Finley and the team in the late '60s. Krausse was fined by the A's for his rowdy behavior on a plane trip, an action that contributed to the firing of manager Alvin Dark. The A's issued a protest statement over Krausse's fine and when Finley found out that Dark knew about the plan to issue the statement, he was fired. A's player Ken Harrelson was also released over the matter and picked up by the Red Sox.

(A word about the back): It's interesting to see a cash amount related to a signing on a baseball card. That doesn't seem to be too common.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

no. 371 - jack hiatt

Who is the man: Jack Hiatt played for two teams in 1970. Neither of them were the Astros. He was purchased by Houston from the Cubs in December, 1970.

Can ya dig it: Hiatt is wearing a Giants uniform. He last played for San Francisco in 1969. He then played for the Expos and the Cubs, so Topps just went back to a stock photo of Hiatt from his Giants days and blacked out the logo on the helmet.

Right on: Those airbrush blotches are so, so bad.

You see that cat Hiatt is a bad mother: Hiatt was king for a game in 1969. Against his future team, the Astros, he hit two home runs and drove in seven runs. Four of those RBIs came on a game-ending grand slam in the 13th inning.

Shut your mouth: Former Dodgers/Pirates/Rockies manager Jim Tracy credits Hiatt for extending Tracy's playing career. Hiatt was Tracy's manager in the Cubs organization. "Had he not stood up for me after 1977, they would have released me," Tracy said.

No one understands him but his woman: Hiatt was the last out in Don Drysdale's fifth straight shutout during his record streak of 58 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. In the 9th inning of that game, Drysdale loaded the bases against the Giants. He then hit Dick Dietz with a pitch, but the umpire ruled Dietz didn't try to get out of the way. Dietz followed with a shallow fly out. Ty Cline then grounded to first and the first baseman threw to home to force out Nate Oliver. With two outs and runners on second and third, Hiatt popped out to first.

(A word about the back): I think the write-up on the back is a little bit muddled. Hiatt didn't hit two pinch-hit grand slams versus the Pirates in 1967. He hit one pinch-hit grand slam versus the Pirates on July 31, 1967. The other pinch grand slam of his career was in the 1969 game against the Astros. So he had two for his career, not two in one year against the same team.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

no. 370 - joe torre

Who is the man: Man, oh, man, Joe Torre was about to reach the summit of his playing career when this card was issued. The 203 hits and .325 batting average that he compiled in 1970 was a prelude to his MVP year in 1971.

Can ya dig it: One of those terrific 1971 action shots in which I can't help but wonder who the Cardinal is on deck. I'm going to guess first baseman Joe Hague just because he seemed to bat behind Torre a lot during the 1970 season (this is based on research, I wasn't old enough to watch games in 1970).

Right on: This -- along with the Vida Blue card from this set -- were the first 1971 Topps card images I ever saw. Torre's '71 card appeared in the MVP subset in 1975 Topps and the '71 MVPs was one of the cards I pulled from those first three packs I purchased in '75.

You see that cat Torre is a bad mother: It's not easy to be both an excellent player and an excellent manager in the major leagues, but Torre was that.

Shut your mouth: Manager Whitey Herzog respected Torre's managing abilities, but called him "the worst catcher I ever saw."

No one understands him but his woman: Torre and his wife, Ali, went on a four-day self-improvement seminar just after he was named manager of the Yankees. Torre credited that seminar for helping him open up, share his emotions and not take on the world by himself.

(A word about the back): Torre received the chance to catch Spahn's 300th game because Del Crandall, who was considered Spahn's personal catcher, suffered an injury-plagued season in 1961.

Friday, January 16, 2015

no. 369 - 4th series checklist

Who is the man: I am going to assume the black mark on the cheek of the batter in this illustration is supposed to be eye black. It's pretty far from the eye though.

Can ya dig it: We've still got 25 cards left in the 3rd series, but get ready because the 4th series is coming!

Right on: Again, it had to be pretty exciting to look at this checklist and find out that players like Hank Aaron would be in the next series.

You see this checklist is a bad mother: Well, the edges are scuffed up, but otherwise there's not much bad-ass about this checklist.

Shut your mouth: Poor R. Rodriquez is the only player on the front of the checklist whose first name isn't spelled out. Poor, poor Roberto.

No one understands him but his woman: If I was a kid collecting this set, I'd be more excited by the Wes Parker card than the Hank Aaron card.

(A word about the back): The check mark for the word "check" has been consistent with every checklist so far.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

no. 368 - bob veale

Who is the man: Bob Veale pitched what would be his last season as a starter in 1970. He was placed in the bullpen for the 1971 season after eight full years of starting.

Can ya dig it: Those dad glasses just don't look right on Veale. I'm used to his horned-rim and goggles look from the '60s.

Right on: I see that style of Pirates cap and Dock Ellis comes to mind instantly.

You see that cat Veale is a bad mother: Veale led the National League in strikeouts in 1964, throwing five more than Bob Gibson (245), 13 more than Don Drysdale (237) and 27 more than Sandy Koufax (223).

Shut your mouth: Veale could throw hard and was intimidating on the mound, but he didn't try to knock people down. Former teammate Gene Clines called him a "gentle giant." When the Pirates placed Veale on waivers in 1972, manager Bill Virdon said, "It wasn't an easy thing to do. Everybody liked Bob."

No one understands him but his woman: Veale grew up with 13 brothers and sisters. He didn't marry until his late 30s because he was waiting until he was done helping all of his siblings attend college.

(A word about the back): The game in which he struck out 16 batters came against the Phillies. He threw a five-hit shutout even though the game was interrupted twice by rain.

Monday, January 12, 2015

no. 367 - dalton jones

Who is the man: Dalton Jones had completed his first season with the Tigers when this card was issued. He played in 89 games as a utility infielder.

Can ya dig it: I have no idea who the man is walking in the background. Head groundskeeper maybe? That's an interesting crossing guard stripe on his jacket.

Right on: Love, love, love tractors on baseball cards.

You see that cat Jones is a bad mother: Jones tore up the 1967 World Series for Boston, batting .389 in 17 at-bats, which was the best batting average after Carl Yastrzemski in the Red Sox's lineup.

Shut your mouth: Jones ended his career with the Texas Rangers in 1972. The Rangers were a horrid 54-100 that year and Jones (.159) was one of 10 position players on the team to bat below .200.

No one understands him but his woman: After his career ended, Jones had trouble finding a job outside of baseball. He convinced the Expos to give him a minor league contract and batted just .208 in Triple A. That officially ended his career.

(A word about the back): Topps apparently didn't think the .220 batting average was horrifying enough and relayed the grand slam story for which Jones is famous. Jones passed runner Don Wert between first and second because Wert thought he had to go back to first to tag up on what turned out to be Jones' home run.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

no. 366 - ron stone

Who is the man: Ron Stone enjoyed what would be the most successful season of his five-year major league career in 1970. He appeared in 123 games, supplying 84 hits and batting .262.

Can ya dig it: There's that lazy back swing we all know and love from 1970s cards.

Right on: Stone appeared on three different multi-player rookie cards before getting his first solo card in the 1970 set. That's usually the kiss of death for a prospect.

You see that cat Stone is a bad mother: Stone racked up more than 500 hits in the Orioles' minor league system over six seasons.

Shut your mouth: Stone was an unfortunate player in the final game at Connie Mack Stadium on Oct. 1, 1970. For the last game, the Phillies distributed seat slats to fans in hopes of keeping them from taking pieces of the stadium with them. But fans used the slats as clubs and hurled them onto the field. A bunch of fans charged onto the field during the ninth inning and one fan grabbed Stone as he was nearing a fly ball. Stone missed the ball and the Expos scored the tying run (the Phillies wound up winning the game in the 10th, but fans charged onto the field at game's end to take souvenirs and farewell ceremonies were called off).

No one understands him but his woman: Successful country singer/songwriter Jon Stone is the son of Ron Stone and his first wife, Arlene. Jon Stone has written No. 1 country songs for artists like Rascal Flatts.

(A word about the back):  The 27-inning game that is mentioned was won 2-1 by Elmira at Dunn Field in Elmira. It took six hours and 24 minutes to play.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

no. 365 - bob johnson

Who is the man: Bob Johnson pitched as a rookie during the 1970 season for the Kansas City Royals, striking out 206 in 214 innings. He impressing the Pirates enough that they traded for him in December of 1970.

Can ya dig it: Pretty sure Johnson is wearing a Royals uniform in this photo. In fact, it's probably from the same session as the photo on this card. This particular picture is cropped so tightly that he can barely squeeze in his signature.

Right on: I'm sure if I was a kid collecting in 1971, this card would have freaked me right out. Me and my friends would have been trying to pass it off on each other.

You see that cat Johnson is a bad mother: Johnson's ability allowed the Royals to acquire outfielder Amos Otis (in a deal with the Mets that set Johnson and Otis to the Royals for Joe Foy) and shortstop Freddie Patek (in the deal with the Pirates).

Shut your mouth: Johnson suffered from a drinking problem during his career. It led to him being waived by the Indians in 1974 after he had several incidents during team flights in which he hassled airline personnel.

No one understands him but his woman: Johnson was a last-minute replacement for Nelson Briles as a starter in Game 3 of the 1971 NLCS. After Briles bowed out with an injured groin, Johnson, who had struggled all year, threw eight innings and allowed one run. He got the win over Juan Marichal as the Pirates won 2-1.

(A word about the back): Here we go again: "An outstanding rookie campaign was 1970 for Bob ..." Someone find a copy editor.

Friday, January 2, 2015

no. 364 - tommy dean

Who is the man: Tommy Dean managed just 60 games and 158 at-bats in 1970 after getting in 101 games (and hitting .176) in the Padres' first season in 1969.

Can ya dig it: Perhaps there is something to the left of Dean that the photographer didn't want people to see. Dean is remarkably off-center in this photo.

Right on: Last card of his career.

You see that cat Dean is a bad mother: Dean delivered a single in his first at-bat for the Padres on April 18, 1969 against the Giants. He walked in his first plate appearance, then singled to lead off the fourth inning against Ray Sadecki.

Shut your mouth: Dean, a highly sought fielding prospect, was signed by famed scout Hugh Alexander, who was known for signing Dodgers Don Sutton, Steve Garvey, Frank Howard, Davey Lopes and Bill Russell. In the book, "Baseball's Last Great Scout", Alexander outsmarts the Astros' Paul Richards by getting Dean to sign with the Dodgers by also giving Dean's brother some of the signing money.

No one understands him but his woman: Dean was part of the first triple play turned by the Padres. On Aug. 13, 1969, with Cubs runners on first and second, pitcher Joe Niekro fielded a Billy Williams line drive for an out, then threw to shortstop Dean, who forced out Don Kessinger at second and tagged Glenn Beckert coming in from first.

(A word about the back): That is not the most flattering photograph. Or career batting average.