Tuesday, March 31, 2015

no. 395 - roy white

Who is the man: Roy White established career highs in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, batting average, slugging, and several other stats in 1970. It was pretty much a career year as he wouldn't exceed several of those stats for the next 10 years.

Can ya dig it: This card features a great look at White's memorable pigeon-toed batting stance, and also his habit of choking up on the bat.

Right on: The bluish uniforms of the visiting team almost threw me (I'm a '70s kid -- powder blue automatically means "Royals" to me), but I think the Yankees are playing the White Sox in this photo. The catcher, based on what appears to be an "ON" at the end of his name, would be Duane Josephson.

And, of course, I realize this has been perceived as a challenge to someone to double-check my work. Go nuts.

You see that cat White is a bad mother: If the Dodgers didn't exist, White would have been my favorite player when I was a kid. It was mostly because his name was "Roy", but I found out later that he was the calm in the Yankees' late '70s storm and that made me like him even more.

Shut your mouth: White was a steady force during the Yankees' transition from the Mantle-Maris days to the Bronx Zoo. But fans had a difficult time adjusting to a clean-up hitter who wasn't Mantle or Gehrig. A headline for a "Sport" magazine article in 1971 read: "The Yankees Have a Cleanup Hitter Who Chokes the Bat".

No one understands him but his woman: White played for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan for three seasons after ending his Yankees career in 1979. He was a teammate of the legendary Sadaharu Oh in 1980.

(A word about the back): White does "pensive" very well.

Friday, March 27, 2015

no. 394 - clay carroll

Who is the man: Clay Carroll maintained his reputation as one of the top relievers in baseball in 1970, not only posting a 2.60 ERA in 65 games, but shutting down the Orioles over four appearances and nine innings in the World Series.

Can ya dig it: Carroll is working over some tobacco in that photo. It's the second time in six cards that a player's featured a chaw.

Right on: Carroll was nicknamed "Hawk" because of his profile, but I've always thought he looked more like a gremlin.

You see that cat Carroll is a bad mother: Carroll saved 37 games in 1972, which was a major league single-season record at the time. It remained the National League record until Bruce Sutter broke it in 1984.

Shut your mouth: When Bob Gibson complained in '72 that pitching in the All-Star Game would interfere with his role in the Cardinals' starting rotation, Carroll reportedly told a Reds official, "give me the ball, I'll go 9."

No one understands him but his woman: Carroll's second wife, Frances, was shot and killed by his stepson. Carroll was injured in the shooting and the stepson is serving a life sentence.

(A word about the back): Geez, he hit a game-winning home run against Gibson, too? Gibson must hate this guy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

no. 393 - merv rettenmund

Who is the man: Merv Rettenmund enjoyed his best season to date in 1970, batting .322 in 106 games for the Orioles with 18 home runs. The 1970 and 71 seasons would be the best of his 13-year career.

Can ya dig it: The player beside Rettenmund in the photo is Yankees third baseman Jerry Kenney. According to this account, Rettenmund has just reached third base after doubling and then advancing to third on a ground ball by Andy Etchebarren. You'll be happy to know that Rettenmund also scored.

Right on: You may have noticed that this is the second straight Orioles card. That never happened in Topps sets of the '70s, as teams were spaced as evenly apart as possible. The only thing that would upset that pattern was if a player was traded late in Topps' production process, which happened with the previous card, Grant Jackson.

You see that cat Rettenmund is a bad mother: Rettenmund, like Jackson, had a knack for appearing in World Series. Rettenmund appeared in four as a player (69-71 Orioles, 75 Reds) and three as a coach (89-90 A's, 98 Padres).

Shut your mouth: Rettenmund was a key part of the Orioles' World Series-clinching Game 5 victory in 1970, but he didn't find out he was starting in that game until late in Game 4. While sitting in the manager's office, watching the game on TV, manager Earl Weaver came running in, yelling at Rettemund, "Get your feet off the damn desk. Get your ass out of this office ... oh, and by the way, you're starting tomorrow."

No one understands him but his woman: Rettenmund's wife is a travel agent and they've been all over the world. They started taking exotic trips in the offseason after getting married in 1964.

(A word about the back): Marv was basically a regular in 1971. It would be his only season playing more than 110 games in a season.

Monday, March 23, 2015

no. 392 - grant jackson

Who is the man: Grant Jackson was traded from the Phillies to the Orioles after falling on hard times for Philadelphia in 1970. An All-Star in 1969, Jackson finished with a 5.28 ERA and 15 losses in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Jackson is totally wearing a Phillies uniform in that photo.

Right on: Jackson appears shocked that he's been traded.

You see that cat Jackson is a bad mother: Jackson pitched in the World Series for three different teams in the 1970s and capped it off by winning Game 7 of the 1979 World Series for the Pirates.

Shut your mouth: Jackson signed with the Phillies in 1962 for $1,500. His father had died just two years prior, and as one of nine children, his family needed money. A few days later, the Braves and Orioles offered Jackson a much larger bonus. Jackson said that he wished he could have called the Phillies and said "no deal".

No one understands him but his woman: OK, I'm going to gripe about it again: Jackson's 1966 Topps rookie card (which also features Dodger Bart Shirley) is outrageously priced and few can explain why.

(A word about the back): The Orioles logo appears to be inching its way off of Jackson's cap.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

no. 391 - twins rookie stars

Who is the man: Steve Brye made his first appearance in a major league game in 1970 while Cotton Nash made his last. Confused? Well you won't be after this edition of ... Twins Rookie Stars.

Can ya dig it: This is the second team to have two rookie stars cards in the 1971 set. The Pirates were the first. Here is the Twins' first.

Right on: I am very distressed right now that a player named Cotton Nash did not become a well-known figure in major league baseball.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: A player named "Cotton" or no, they're rookies and therefore not bad-ass. (Nash got his nickname because of his light blond hair).

Shut your mouth: Steve Brye will forever be known in my mind as the favorite player of my younger brother's stuffed lion. I've mentioned this on three blogs now and it sounds as ridiculous as ever.

No one understands him but his woman: Nash is one of the few to play for both Major League Baseball and in the NBA. Nash also played pro basketball in the old ABA.

 (A word about the back): Nash played in parts of the 1967, 1969 and 1970 seasons for the White Sox and Twins, but his pro baseball career ended after a season in the Rangers' organization in 1972.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

no. 390 - glenn beckert

Who is the man: Glenn Beckert had wrapped up another solid season as a member of the notoriously reliable Cubs infield in 1970. He was about to enter perhaps his most successful hitting season in '71, when he batted .342.

Can ya dig it: Look at that cute bear cub on Beckert's shoulder. No wonder fans get all goopy over their Cubs.

Right on: As you can see, this card is severely off-center, left-to-right. Apparently this happens a lot with the '71 Beckert.

You see that cat Beckert is a bad mother: Only three Cubs have played more games at second base than Beckert: Ryne Sandberg, Billy Herman and Johnny Evers.

Shut your mouth: Beckert was such an aggressive player, particularly in the field, that he was nicknamed "Bruno" by teammates, after wrestler Bruno Sammartino. Beckert would sometimes knock over fellow fielders in pursuit of the ball, taking them down like the wrestler.

No one understands him but his woman:  Beckert retired at a relatively early age in 1975 because of arthritis. It plagued him years into his retirement and he underwent seven operations after his career was over.

(A word about the back): Beckert returned to the All-Star Game in 1971 and 1972.

Friday, March 13, 2015

no. 389 - ed brinkman

Who is the man: Ed Brinkman spent the last of his 10 seasons with the Washington Senators in 1970. He was traded on Oct. 9, 1970 in the eight-player deal that sent Denny McLain to the Senators.

Can ya dig it: Brinkman is wearing a Senators jersey in this very photo. Topps thought it could fool ya by taking off Brinkman's cap.

Right on: Brinkman can barely contain the tobacco chaw in his mouth. I'm sure if my mother saw this photo, she would have never bought me my first packs of baseball cards.

You see that cat Brinkman is a bad mother: Brinkman established four single-season fielding records for shortstops when he won a Gold Glove with the Tigers in 1972: consecutive errorless games (72), consecutive errorless chances (331), fewest errors (7) and fielding percentage (.990).

Shut your mouth: When the Tigers clinched the AL East pennant in 1972, Brinkman said to a reporter live on local TV, "This is the best bunch of f---ng guys I ever played with."

No one understands him but his woman: Brinkman was activated as a member of the District of Columbia National Guard in 1968 to help halt riots in the city. He missed half the season that year.

(A word about the back): Notorious for his inability to hit, Brinkman's career batting average was at its peak on this card. He batted in the .260s in 1969 and 1970 and those were the only seasons in his 15-year career in which he batted above .240. Just two seasons prior, his career batting average was .206.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

no. 388 - al oliver

Who is the man: Al Oliver received an abundance of playing time in 1970 after finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1969. He played in 151 games for the Pirates.

Can ya dig it: Oliver is listed as a first baseman first and he basically split time between first and the outfield in 1970. His early cards show both positions until 1976 when he's listed exclusively as an outfielder all the way to 1983, when it reverts to first base again.

Right on: Oliver always looks tough on his cards. Always.

You see that cat Oliver is a bad mother: Oliver was part of five Pirates division champion teams between 1970-75. The only other players to compete on all of those teams were Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Richie Hebner and Bob Robertson.

Shut your mouth: Oliver is on record as saying that owners' collusion in the mid-1980s prevented him from reaching 3,000 hits. (Oliver retired at age 38 in 1985 with 2,743 hits). In a 1992 story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, he recalled watching teammate Roberto Clemente reach 3,000 hits. "We were close friends and it was such a great accomplishment. But I will never forget saying to myself that some day, I would do that. I knew that barring physical injury I would reach that same point. I knew that because of the way I conditioned myself mentally and physically. I said the only thing that could stop me from playing a long time was the system. Unfortunately, it turned out I was right."

No one understands him but his woman: Oliver's first wife, Donna, was black, but because of her light skin tone, Oliver received hate mail from people who thought they had a mixed-race marriage.

(A word about the back): The first time Oliver would receive a card number ending in a "5" or a "0" would be the following year as card #575 in the 1972 Topps set. He would get a hero number for most of the rest of his career, except in 1974 and 1979.

Monday, March 9, 2015

no. 387 - ron herbel

Who is the man: Ron Herbel played for the Padres and the Mets during the 1970 season. He was dealt from the Padres to the Mets on Sept. 1, 1970 and then sent from the Mets to the Braves on Dec. 1, 1970.

Can ya dig it: Herbel is wearing a Mets jersey in this photo, which is kind of impressive, considering that he spent just a month at the end of the 1970 season in a Mets uniform. The player to be named sent by the Mets to the Padres in the trade was Rod Gaspar, who was just featured four posts ago. You can tell by the photo on Gaspar's card that the Herbel and Gaspar photos were probably taken at the same time. It's interesting that they were Mets teammates at the time of the pictures but neither appeared listed as Mets when their cards were issued.

Right on: Herbel is displaying the chemistry teacher smile for a second straight card. (He's wearing a Giants uniform in that photo). If I saw these cards as a kid, you'd never get me to believe Herbel was a baseball player.

You see that cat Herbel is a bad mother: Herbel led the National League in games pitched in 1970 with 76.

Shut your mouth: Herbel was the Giants pitcher who replaced Juan Marichal after Marichal was ejected for clubbing Dodgers catcher John Roseboro with a bat during a game in 1965. Herbel won the game.

No one understands him but his woman: Herbel's inability to hit was well-known in the majors and a constant source of amusement among teammates. He finished his career with 6 hits in 206 at-bats for a .029 batting average, the lowest average for a major league player with at least 100 at-bats.

 (A word about the back): Herbel's 10 saves in 1970 would be a career high.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

no. 386 - red sox

Who is the man: The Red Sox were treading water in the early 1970s. After changing managers to Eddie Kasko for the 1970 season, Boston finished 87-75 and in third place, the exact same record and same position as in 1969. In 1971, the Red Sox would win two fewer and lose two more games and finish -- you guessed it -- in third place.

Can ya dig it: I believe that is a team photo in Fenway Park, possibly in front of the right field bleachers. But I could be so far off that it's actually in a different ballpark. Ballparks, even ones that have been around since 1912, change so much.

Right on: Am I looking at Tom Yawkey in this photo? I have no idea. This is a very hazy picture and, by far, the worst team photo in the set so far.

You see that cat Kasko is a bad mother: I couldn't tell you where Eddie Kasko is in this photo. Maybe the fifth guy from the left in the first row? This picture is like a holdover from those 1960s team cards.

Shut your mouth: No chance of identifying anyone in this picture.

No one understands him but his woman: Kasko was the bridge between two managers who brought the Red Sox to the World Series -- Dick Williams in 1967 and Darrell Johnson in 1975. But the best Kasko did for Boston was second place.

(A word about the back): Those pitching leaders are insane. The complete games, innings, wins, losses, shutouts, hits allowed, and ERA records are all still intact.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

no. 385 - maury wills

Who is the man: Maury Wills was entering the final full season of his 14-year career when this card was made. In 1970, he played in 132 games and stole 28 bases as a 39-year-old.

Can ya dig it: This is just the second Topps card of Wills as a Dodger. He didn't even show up in a Topps set until 1967 when he was with the Pirates.

Right on: Every time I think about how many more Maury Wills Dodger cards there could have been, it irks me.

You see that cat Wills is a bad mother: Once known as the best base stealer of all-time, he held the record for most stolen bases in a season for 12 years after stealing 104 in 1962. He is one of the few players who landed an MVP award based on his base-stealing talent.

Shut your mouth: Back in the '50s when Topps signed everyone they could to a contract, they still limited themselves to "sure things" and everything they heard said that Wills wasn't. In the "Baseball Card Flipping Trading and Bubble Gum Book," Sy Berger explains the fallout of not signing Wills:

"Maury stayed angry at us for quite some time after that, as you can well imagine, even after he made it to the majors. He didn't sign up with us until about his eighth year with the Dodgers. He was the only major leaguer we didn't have under contract. You couldn't blame him of course. So after that we went back to signing everyone in the minors."

No one understands him but his woman: The 1962 MVP Award that Wills won belongs to his ex-wife. He's said that she won't let him have it back.

(A word about the back): Wills' two-homer game on May 30, 1962 came in the first game of a doubleheader against the expansion Mets. He hit six home runs that season, which was a career high.