Friday, May 29, 2015

no. 416 - gene alley

Who is the man: Gene Alley produced another rather unspectacular season in 1970, batting .244 in 121 games with mediocre numbers in every category. But he was in there for his glove, you know.

Can ya dig it: Apparently, Alley has spotted a bird with a freakishly large wingspan.

Right on: Alley's eyes are bluer than the word "shortstop" on this card.

You see that cat Alley is a bad mother: The two-time Gold Glove winner helped the Pirates turn 215 double plays in 1966, a National League record that still stands.

Shut your mouth: Sometimes second baseman Bill Mazeroski would field a ball and flip it to Alley at shortstop instead of throwing to first because he knew Alley's arm was better. Alley would then rifle it to first for the out, causing teammate Jose Pagan to say, "They can make double plays with nobody on!"

No one understands him but his woman: Alley went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts as the starting shortstop in the All-Star Game in 1967. That might be something you never see again. Players aren't allowed to even come to the plate five times in an All-Star Game anymore.

(A word about the back): "A veteran of Pony League and American Legion ball" ... whoop-di-doo. I'm a veteran of swimming classes at the Y. I don't want to see it on my list of accomplishments.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

no. 415 - mike hegan

Who is the man: Mike Hegan enjoyed, by far, his most active year of his 12-year major league career in 1970. He played in 148 games with 476 at-bats, batting .244. His second-highest yearly game total was 112 in 1973.

Can ya dig it: Hegan appears in this first base pose a lot on his cards. Out of his 10 solo Topps cards, he's posing with glove outstretched three times (1968, 1971 and 1976).

Right on: The vast majority of the '71 Brewers photos are taken in Yankee Stadium. I'll have to go back and see exactly how many.

You see that cat Hegan is a bad mother: Hegan was the only Seattle Pilot named to an All-Star Game. But he was injured and didn't play, and teammate Don Mincher took Hegan's place.

Shut your mouth: Hegan was a longtime broadcaster after his playing career ended, most notably for the Indians. His broadcasting career actually began when he was a player. While playing for the Oakland A's, one of Oakland's announcers was ill. Hegan replaced him and announced the game for three innings, and then put his uniform back on to join the A's in the dugout.

No one understands him but his woman: It's appropriate that Hegan is posing in Yankee Stadium, as he was the last batter to come to the plate in 1973 before Yankee Stadium was closed for a couple years for renovations.

(A word about the back): Those franchise marks are low-hanging fruit when the franchise is just two years old.

Monday, May 25, 2015

no. 414 - woodie fryman

Who is the man: Woodie Fryman completed his third season with the Phillies in 1970, spending more time in the bullpen than in previous years because of arm problems.

Can ya dig it: A diamond-cut card like this one seems to fit Fryman's quirky personality.

Right on: I identify Fryman so much with the Expos that it's odd to see him in a Phillies uniform (or Tigers or Pirates uniform).

You see that cat Fryman is a bad mother: At age 41, Fryman recorded a 1.88 ERA in 35 games of relief for the Expos in 1981.

Shut your mouth: During one game, Fryman gave up a winning home run to Joe Lis in the 10th inning. Lis, who was a friend of Fryman's, invited Fryman over for dinner. "I got even with him, though," Fryman said. "I ate him out of house and home."

No one understands him but his woman: Topps refers to Fryman as "Woody" on his cards in 1967, 1968 and 1969. I suppose you can't blame them though. The signature on Fryman's 1967 card reads "Woody."

(A word about the back): Fryman's shutout streak to start his career lasted 9 1/3 innings in which he allowed just three hits.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

no. 413 - pat kelly

Who is the man: Pat Kelly spent the 1970 season with the Royals. He was traded to the White Sox on Oct. 13, 1970.

Can ya dig it: One of the stranger cards in the 1971 set. How they got Kelly to pose with his cap that far up his head I don't know. Also, he is shifted so far down (to obscure the Royals script on his jersey) and so far to the right (to get the signature in there) that the entire card looks out of kilter.

Right on: Kelly is featured on his 1970 Topps with a blacked out cap. He doesn't appear on his own card with a cap with a logo until the 1972 set (He is wearing a K.C. logo on his 1969 Topps card, but he shares that with two other players on a rookie stars card).

You see that cat Kelly is a bad mother: Kelly had been in the majors for 10 years already when he won fame as one of the Orioles' platoon hitters in 1979. He hit .364 in three games for the O's against the Angels in the ALCS.

Shut your mouth: In an article by Skip Hollandsworth of the Dallas Times Herald, he relayed a conversation between Kelly and manager Earl Weaver. Kelly asked Weaver if he could use his office to hold chapel. After Weaver said yes, Kelly said, "Don't you want to join us?" Weaver responded with "Hell, no."

Kelly persisted: "But Earl, don't you want to walk with the Lord?"
Weaver said: "I'd rather have you walk with the bases loaded."

No one understands him but his woman: Kelly is the first of three Pat Kellys to make the major leagues.

(A word about the back): A word about the "total bases" column. I'm so used to RBI following HR that it's jarring to see a stat splitting up the two. Hell, doesn't even do that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

no. 412 - jerry johnson

Who is the man: Jerry Johnson was acquired by the Giants from the Cardinals in May 1970 and was entering what would be the best season of his career when this card hit packs.

Can ya dig it: Johnson had appeared on three Topps cards at this point and on each one he is with a different team (1969: Phillies; 1970: Cardinals).

Right on: I believe Johnson is posing in Dodger Stadium.

You see that cat Johnson is a bad mother: Johnson finished sixth in the Cy Young Award voting in 1971 as he appeared in 67 games (all in relief) and saved 18.

Shut your mouth: Johnson had issues with his temper, especially early on in his career. Longtime manager Roy Hartsfield worked with Johnson in controlling his emotions.

No one understands him but his woman: Johnson began his career as a third baseman in the Mets organization in 1962. He began pitching in the minors by 1964.

(A word about the back): Not sure what's going on with Johnson's face here. He looks like a doll.

Friday, May 15, 2015

no. 411 - george spriggs

Who  is the man: George Spriggs had just completed his busiest season in the major leagues, appearing in 51 games and compiling 130 at-bats in 1970 after four partial years in the bigs. He'd never have another at-bat in the majors.

Can ya dig it: This is Spriggs' only solo card (he's on multi-player rookie cards in the 1968 and 1969 Topps sets). It's a pretty great card for your only one.

Right on: Is that Thurman Munson making another cameo in the 1971 Topps set?

You see that cat Spriggs is a bad mother: A noted speedster, Spriggs stole 335 bases over 10 minor league seasons.

Shut your mouth: Spriggs' son, Geno, was a low-level prospect in the Pirates organization in the late 1980s. He died at age 20 in a car accident. A baseball field in Maryland is named after the younger Spriggs. It's called Geno's Field.

No one understands him but his woman: Sure, he's being thrown out on the play, but Spriggs' created a pretty cool picture by rolling into second base.

(A word about the back): Everything the bio is saying is that Spriggs is fast. Everything the numbers are saying is that speed didn't help him hit.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

no. 410 - ken holtzman

Who is the man: Ken Holtzman was coming off his best season with the Cubs in 1970, but 1971 would be his last year with Chicago.

Can ya dig it: That's quite a look on Holtzman's face. He looks like he's in the middle of giving a speech.

Right on: That's not the Holtzman I know. Ken Holtzman has long hair, a mustache and wears green and gold.

You see that cat Holtzman is a bad mother: Ken Holtzman hit a home run in the 1974 World Series and is one of 13 pitchers to go yard in the Series. Until the Phillies' Joe Blanton hit a home run in the 2008 World Series, Holtzman was the last one to do it.

Shut your mouth: Holtzman spent much of the 1967 season in the military but still went 9-0 in 12 games. He received his first pass from the Army that year by giving two pints of blood and then proceeded to beat the Phillies in the first game of a doubleheader. Holtzman said he didn't donate the blood just to get the pass: "It goes to Vietnam, I know how much it's needed."

No one understands him but his woman: Holtzman is one of just two pitchers who have thrown a no-hitter without striking anyone out. It happened in 1969 against the Braves.

(A word about the back): Holtzman wouldn't strike out 200 in a season again in his career.

Monday, May 11, 2015

no. 409 - don pavletich

Who is the man: Don Pavletich played 32 games in his first season with the Red Sox in 1970. He'd play just one more season and in very limited fashion.

Can ya dig it: You can tell that Pavletich just pounded his mitt as he prepares to give the pitcher a good target.

Right on: The photo is off-center. But at least you get to see the base paths.

You see that cat Pavletich is a bad mother: Pavletich was a bonus baby with the Reds. Required to be carried on the Reds' roster, he appeared in one game in 1957 before entering the military. The back of his 1959 card is interesting in that his stats list exactly one game and one at-bat in his career.

Shut your mouth: In spring training in 1971, Red Sox manager Eddie Kasko said one of his mistakes the previous year was not using Pavletich more and that he was going to give him a long look at the starting catcher position. Pavletich then played just 14 games in '71.

No one understands him but his woman: Even though Pavletich's career ended when 1971 ended, he has a card in the 1972 Topps set. He's listed with the Brewers, but he never played a game for them. He was released by Milwaukee in March.

 (A word about the back): Pavletich was pinch-hitting for Hal Jeffcoat in 1957.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

no. 408 - rafael robles

Who is the man: Rafael Robles spent 143 games in the minor leagues in 1970, yet the 23 games he played for the Padres that year were good enough for him to get a card in the 1971 set.

Can ya dig it: This photo may have been taken in 1969 as I believe the patch Robles is featuring on his sleeve commemorates the 200th anniversary of the city of San Diego, which was in 1969.

Right on: This is the only solo card of Robles during his career. He's featured on two- and three-player rookie cards in the 1969 and 1970 sets, respectively.

You see that cat Robles is a bad mother: Robles was the first batter in San Diego Padres history. On April 8, 1969, he led off and reached on an error by Astros second baseman Joe Morgan. He proceeded to steal second base, but was stranded at third.

Shut your mouth: Robles' son is a rapper named Young Sosa.

No one understands him but his woman: Robles started the third triple play in Padres history. It happened in his final season in 1972 against the Cubs. Playing shortstop, he fielded a ground ball from Randy Hundley, tagged Carmen Fanzone coming from second base and threw to Derrel Thomas to force out Jose Cardenal at second. Thomas then threw to Nate Colbert at first base to get Hundley and complete the triple play.

(A word about the back): Those are not impressive stats.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

no. 407 - joe rudi

Who is the man: Joe Rudi had just completed his first 100-game season when this card hit packs. He played in 106 games, batting .309.

Can ya dig it: Terrific shot of a common scene at first base that you don't see a lot on a baseball card. How can you beat Rudi in that gold-and-green ensemble?

Right on: I don't know my early '70s Yankees well enough to identify a player with a shadow across his face. My guess is Curt Blefary.

You see that cat Rudi is a bad mother: Rudi hit the game-winning and Series-clinching home run in Game 5 of the 1974 World Series against the Dodgers.

Shut your mouth: Rudi has been a longtime ham radio operator going back to his playing days.

No one understands him but his woman: It took several years for Rudi to stick with the Oakland A's. In 1969, five years after Rudi's first year in pro ball, manager Joe McNamara said of Rudi: "It's hard to say what his future might be with the team. There are a number of question marks."

(A word about the back): Rudi's .309 batting average in 1970 was the best of his 16-year career.

Friday, May 1, 2015

no. 406 - ray sadecki

Who is the man: Ray Sadecki had just completed his first season with the Mets after coming over in a trade with the Giants in December, 1969.

Can ya dig it: That is a terrific action shot for the first year in which individual players' cards featured action photos. Fantastic.

Right on: It's a little eerie how you can't see any players besides Sadecki, the catcher (who I believe is Duffy Dyer), and the umpire. No batter, nobody in the infield or outfield.

You see that cat Sadecki is a bad mother: As a 23-year-old, Sadecki won 20 games and the first game of the 1964 World Series against Whitey Ford.

Shut your mouth: Sadecki struggled during the 1962 season and during a June 5 game with the Cardinals, he came in for the sixth inning and proceeded to give up five runs on three hits, make two errors and get no one out. Afterward, manager Johnny Keane said it was the "poorest exhibition of effort I've ever seen on a major league diamond" and fined him $250. Sadecki showed up late the following day and was suspended by the general manager.

No one understands him but his woman: Thanks to that incident and an easy-going style on the field, Sadecki received a reputation as a slacker that he didn't really shake until he played for the Mets and helped them to the 1973 World Series.

(A word about the back): Sadecki skipped college ball to sign with the Cardinals. He not only received the $50,000, but $18,000 more over the next three years.