Monday, August 31, 2015

no. 446 - bobby bolin

Who is the man: Bobby Bolin came to the Red Sox in early September of 1970 in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. He pitched in just six games for Boston, but would be the Red Sox's most used pitcher in 1971.

Can ya dig it: It's pretty awesome that Topps was able to get a photo of Bolin in a Red Sox uniform even though he spent less than a month of the previous season with the team.

Right on: You can tell Bolin is a tall man (6-foot-4) from the photo angle.

You see that cat Bolin is a bad mother: Bolin finished second behind Bob Gibson in ERA for the 1968 season. Of course, Gibson recorded his famed 1.12 ERA that year. Bolin's was 1.99.

Shut your mouth: In high school, Bolin pitched four no-hitters in a row.

Nobody understands him but his woman: Bolin grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and hated the Giants. So, of course, he signed with the Giants.

(A word about the back): Bolin's first four clubs were the Michigan City (Ind.) Whitecaps, the St. Cloud (Minn.) Rox, the Eugene (Ore.) Emeralds, and the Rio Grande Valley (Texas) Giants.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

no. 445 - art shamsky

Who is the man: Art Shamsky had completed his final season as a full-time player when this card was issued. He appeared in a career-high 122 games in 1970 and set highs in a number of other categories.

Can ya dig it: I've always been intrigued by this photo. I'm guessing that it's a game against the Houston Astros, particularly since another card, taken in a similar fashion and from a similar angle, shows an Astros batter and a Mets catcher.

Right on: I'm also interested in what Shamsky is doing. As a left-handed batter myself, I know all about lefties' love for pitches low and over the plate. This pitch appears to be quite high, and inside. I have no idea why Shamsky is thinking about swinging.

You see that cat Shamsky is a bad mother: Shamsky hit four consecutive home runs over the span of two games and didn't start either game. He is the only major leaguer to do that.

Shut your mouth: Shamsky worked as a color broadcaster for the Mets in the early 1980s.

No one understands him but his woman: Shamsky was a well-loved Mets player. He played on the 1969 Miracle Mets and the fact that he was Jewish made him a big favorite among the city's large Jewish community. But all hell broke loose in 2009 when his second wife, Kim, sued him, charging him with unfaithfulness and revealing all kinds of sordid details (the New York Post was in heaven). The case was settled out of court.

(A word about the back): The bio recounts Shamsky's first three home runs in his four-homer feat. The fourth straight home run came on Aug. 14.

By the way, the game that is mentioned in the bio? Shamsky's team lost, 14-11 in 13 innings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

no. 444 - jimmie price

Who is the man: Jimmie Price had completed a fourth season as a backup catcher for the Tigers when this card came out of packs. He was entering his final season in 1971.

Can ya dig it: Price has four Topps cards. He's referred to as "Jimmie," his given name, on three of them (1968, 1970, 1971) and as "Jim" on one of them (1969).

Right on: Price looks like he just spotted a pterodactyl circling Yankee Stadium.

You see that cat Price is a bad mother: During the Tigers' World Series-winning season in 1968, Price hit a 10th-inning game-winning homer off of the White Sox's Wilbur Wood during a late August clash.

Shut your mouth: Price has been a member of the Tigers' broadcast team for more than 20 years. He's spent much of that time as the color guy for Detroit's radio team.

No one understands him but his woman: Price and his wife, Lisa, founded "Jack's Place for Autism" in 2002. Their son, Jack, has autism.

(A word about the back): "Was AL's top-rated 2nd string catcher for 1968 World Champs ..."

I wasn't aware of a ratings system for second-string catchers.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

no. 443 - rich robertson

Who is the man: Rich Robertson enjoyed far and away his best season in the majors in 1970, appearing in 41 games, starting 26 and going 8-9 with 121 strikeouts.

Can ya dig it: This is Robertson's last card appearance in a legitimate MLB uniform. He is terribly airbrushed into a White Sox cap and uniform in the 1972 set, and Robertson didn't even play for the White Sox.

Right on: Robertson has a bit of an Elvis smile.

You see that cat Robertson is a bad mother: Robertson could get a little wild. He led the majors with 18 wild pitches in 1970. In 1968 in Triple A, he threw 27 wild pitches.

Shut your mouth: There is another Rich Roberston who pitched for the Pirates, Twins and Angels in the 1990s.

No one understands him but his woman:  Do you think if I called him Rob Richardson just once anyone would notice?

(A word about the back): Robertson had some mighty impressive numbers in '68, but they just didn't translate.

Monday, August 17, 2015

no. 442 - angels

Who is the man: The California Angels finished in third place in the AL West for the second straight year in 1970, but their record of 86-76 was 15 games better than their finish in 1969. In fact, the Angels' .531 winning percentage was their best since their second season of existence in 1962 and they wouldn't do as well again until 1978.

Can ya dig it: The Angels are posing in the outfield at Angel Stadium. You can see in the background one of the large light poles that stood next to the "Big A" scoreboard at the time.

Right on: Look! Bat boys! Nobody had to ask for their permission to appear in photos or anything.

You see that cat Phillips is a bad mother: The Angels of this period aren't easy to identify, but I'm guessing manager Lefty Phillips is the guy dead center in the second row with his head tilted to his right.

Shut your mouth: There are no numbers on the front of their jerseys, so I don't have a chance of IDing anyone in this photo.

No one understands him but his woman: The poor guy on the right gets only half of his body in the photo.

(A word about the back): This is the first of the nine team cards that we've seen so far that doesn't list "pennant winners" at the bottom. The Angels hadn't won a pennant at this point, so Topps just went with yearly standings.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

no. 441 - milt pappas

Who is the man: Milt Pappas completed his first season with the Cubs in 1970 after being purchased from the Braves in June of that year. Pappas started the year miserably but ended up winning 10 games for the Cubs and would go on to back-to-back 17-win seasons with Chicago.

Can ya dig it: It looks like Pappas is warming up in the outfield.

Right on: The photo on this card is out of register. It's easy to tell by spotting the pink and green on the left-and-right borders.

You see that cat Pappas is a bad mother: Pappas was the first pitcher to win 200 games in his career while never winning 20 games in a single season. Several other pitchers have achieved that feat since Pappas retired in 1973.

Shut your mouth: Pappas famously complained about home plate umpire Bruce Froemming costing him a perfect game in 1972. Pappas pitched a no-hitter against the Padres that year, but his perfect game ended when he walked Larry Stahl with two out in the 9th after Froemming called two close pitches balls. Pappas continued to gripe about it years later, claiming Froemming deliberately undermined the perfect game.

No one understands him but his woman: Pappas' wife, Carole, disappeared in 1982 after leaving the house. Her car, with her body in it, was discovered at the bottom of a pond five years later. The cause of death was listed as drowning.

(A word about the back): Pappas went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 innings in those three minor league games.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

no. 440 - bert campaneris

Who is the man: Bert Campaneris enjoyed another consistent season as the A's starting shortstop in 1970. The one thing that made this season notable was that Campaneris hit 22 home runs, the only time in his 19-year career that he would reach double figures in home runs.

Can ya dig it: This is probably the most off-center card that I have in this set. There's barely any bottom edge.

Right on: "Dagoberto" is an awesome name that I've been aware of since the first year I collected cards.

You see that cat Campaneris is a bad mother: Campaneris is one of only five players to hit two home runs in his first major league game. He hit the first pitch he ever saw out of the park, off of Jim Kaat.

Shut your mouth: Campaneris was the prototypical 1960s/70s sparkplug, accumulating 649 stolen bases during his career. But his on-base percentage was lousy (.311 for his career) and he would have been lambasted on the internet if he played today.

No one understands him but his woman: Campaneris famously flung his bat at Tigers pitcher Lerrin LaGrow after LaGrow hit him with a pitch during the 1972 ALCS. Campaneris claimed after the game that he hadn't intended to hit LaGrow with the bat. "I just wanted to warn him not to do it again."

(A word about the back): The person who broke Campaneris' string as stolen base king between 1965-1970 was the Seattle Pilots' Tommy Harper, who stole 63 bases in 1969.

Friday, August 7, 2015

no. 439 - phillies rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Greg Luzinski and Scott Reid spent most of the 1970 season shooting up minor league ball. Luzinski battered Double A while Reid blasted Triple A. Both had brief stints with the Phillies, but Luzinski hit .167 and Reid .122.

Can ya dig it: Luzinski looks like The Bull even at 20 years old.

Right on: It's interesting that Luzinski is listed as a first baseman. He would play first base only in his first two years with the Phillies, and then for a handful of games with the White Sox in 1983.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: Luzinski would go on to hit 307 career home runs but at this point he had none. Sorry, not bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Reid's major league career was already done when this card was made.

No one understands him but his woman: Jean Luzinski dated and married a talented football player who went in the first round of the major league draft (Greg) and raised a talented football player who went in the first round of the major league draft (Ryan).

(A word about the back): Topps doesn't tell you which college team Scott Reid played for, but it was Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. He then went to Arizona State.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

no. 438 - mike mc cormick

Who is the man: Mike McCormick split the 1970 season between the Giants and the Yankees. He was traded in July of that season to New York for John Cumberland, who was featured earlier in the blog. The 1971 season, in which he pitched four games for the Royals, would be his last.

Can ya dig it: McCormick is posing in old Yankee Stadium. You can see the old scoreboard in the background, although McCormick's head is blocking the middle part, which rose up higher than the rest of the scoreboard and featured the Yankees' logo.

Right on: I still can't get over how nice ballplayers' handwriting was back then.

You see that cat McCormick is a bad mother: McCormick won the NL Cy Young Award in 1967 after winning 22 games in his first season with the Giants.

Shut your mouth: McCormick gave up Hank Aaron's 500th home run and is also credited with being the 500th MLB pitcher to hit a home run. That prompted McCormick to get a license plate that read "Mr. 500".

No one understands him but his woman: McCormick received a baseball card in the 1972 Topps set even though he didn't play beyond June of 1971. He signed with the Giants in early 1972, but he was never called by them that year. McCormick is featured as a Giant on his card with what I'm assuming is a photo from when he played for them from 1967-70.

(A word about the back): That's a monstrous ERA for 1970. No wonder Topps went way back to high school in the bio.

Monday, August 3, 2015

no. 437 - danny murtaugh

Who is the man: Danny Murtaugh was entering what would be his second World Championship season when this card was issued. As an appetizer, he had led the Pirates to the NL East title in 1970.

Can ya dig it: I like how managers can just stand there in the dugout and that's good enough for a photo for a baseball card.

Right on: This photo was used again on Murtaugh's 1974 Topps card.

You see that cat Murtaugh is a bad mother: Murtaugh managed the Pirates to World Series titles in 1960 and 1971.

Shut your mouth: After Bill Mazeroski blasted the Pirates to the Series with his Game 7 walk-off home run in 1960, Murtaugh's wife, Kate, said he had never seen his husband so happy. Murtaugh said to her, "If you had been standing on one side of me and Bill Mazeroski on the other side and somebody said I had to kiss one or the other, it wouldn't have been you."

No one understands him but his woman: Murtaugh left the Pirates managing job only to return again three times.

(A word about the back): I may have mentioned this before, but "first game in majors" here applies to his managing career. Murtaugh played nine years in the big leagues, starting in 1941 and ending in 1951.