Friday, December 30, 2016

no. 612 - indians rookie stars

Who is the man: Ted Ford and Steve Mingori enjoyed their first appearances in major league games in 1970, while Lou Camilli first appeared in the majors in 1969. All three players were stars on the Triple A Wichita Aeros team in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Chief Wahoo is photo-bombing Ford's picture.

Right on: Camilli may have appeared in the major leagues first, but he's the only one of the three here to never receive his own solo Topps card.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: "Cleveland Indians" and "bad-ass" do not go together in the 1970s.

Shut your mouth: Camilli, who played sparingly for the Indians from 1969-72 once said, "They ought to change our name to the Cleveland Light Company. We don't have anything but utility men."

No one understands him but his woman: Steve Mingori was a Leap Year Day baby, born on Feb. 29, 1944. He is one of only 13 major leaguers to be born on Feb. 29.

(A word about the back): We have every possible batting preference on the back of this card. Bats right, bats left and bats both.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

no. 611 - tom phoebus

Who is the man: Tom Phoebus experienced a disappointing 1970 season with the Orioles, although he made his only World Series appearance that season and received the victory. In December, he was traded to the Padres in the deal that landed Baltimore pitcher Pat Dobson.

Can ya dig it: The card is trying to convince you that a Padre was in Yankee Stadium in 1970. ... Well, as much as they can convince you with a guy who appears to have no team affiliation whatsoever.

Right on: Phoebus looks like a cross between 1960s Western actors Ernest Borgnine and Dan Blocker.

You see that cat Phoebus is a bad mother: Phoebus pitched complete-game shutouts in his first two major league starts in September 1966.

Shut your mouth: When Phoebus was traded from the World Champion Orioles to the cellar-dwelling Padres, he tried to remain positive, saying, "I believe the desire to win overcomes everything." Phoebus won three games for the Padres in 1971 and San Diego finished last for a third straight season.

No one understands him but his woman: Phoebus threw the first no-hitter of the 1968 season, against the Red Sox. His catcher for that game was Curt Blefary, who played relatively few games behind the plate. But in '68 the Orioles dealt with injuries and Blefary caught 40 games that season. Phoebus didn't mind because the two were good friends in the minors.

(A word about the back): The "S.D." on Phoebus' hat is not right at all.

Friday, December 23, 2016

no. 610 - amos otis

Who is the man: Amos Otis was coming off a breakout year in 1970 -- his first full season in the majors and his first season with the Royals -- when this card was issued. Somewhere in that time frame, the Mets, who had traded Otis for Joe Foy the previous offseason, were muttering "crap, what have we done?"

Can ya dig it: Otis seems pretty happy with his new team.

Right on: Excellent signature. Also, this is Otis' first card in a Royals uniform. He is cropped so closely on his 1970 card that you can't tell he's really a Met.

You see that cat Otis is a bad mother: Otis was named an All-Star four straight years and won three Gold Gloves. He played for the Royals in the postseason five of six years between 1976-81.

Shut your mouth: Otis was one of those players who made the game look effortless and, as usual, some interpreted that as giving no effort. Otis was called lackadaisical and moody all the while making one-handed catches better than anyone.

No one understands him but his woman: Otis was the 19th strikeout victim during Steve Carlton's 19-whiff game in 1969 (it was the first 19-strikeout game at the time).

(A word about the back): Otis' 176 hits in 1970 was the high for his 17-year career.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

no. 609 - leo durocher

Who is the man: Leo Durocher, in his fifth year as the Cubs' manager, led Chicago to a second straight second-place finish in the NL East in 1970. The Cubs finished five games behind the Pirates, but one game ahead of the Mets, who frustrated the Cubs in 1969.

Can ya dig it: This card is way off-center, but it's much more obvious here. I don't even notice it when it's in my '71 binder.

Right on: Durocher looks like someone's drunk uncle in this photo. The photo also is suspiciously similar to his photo on this card.

You see that cat Durocher is a bad mother: Durocher managed the Dodgers to their first pennant in 21 years in 1941, the Giants to their first pennant in 14 years in 1951 and won the Giants a World Series in 1954. Oh, and he also said "nice guys finish last." That's pretty bad-ass, although not very nice. (He actually said something like "the nice guys are all over there, in seventh place" but why let a quote get in the way of a good story?)

Shut your mouth: Durocher was nicknamed "The Lip" early in his playing career because of his nonstop talking. He famously did not get along with his fellow Yankees when he started with them in the late 1920s. Babe Ruth called him "the All-American Out".

No one understands him but his woman: Durocher was married and divorced three times. His third wife, Laraine Day, divorced him in 1960, but accepted his Hall of Fame award on his induction day in 1994. Durocher had died three years earlier.

 (A word about the back): I mentioned on the last manager card how odd it was to see someone born in 1911 on the back of a card. Well Durocher was born in 1906!

Monday, December 19, 2016

no. 608 - mike wegener

Who is the man: Mike Wegener spent his second season in the Expos' starting rotation in 1970. But it wasn't nearly as successful as his 1969 season, and he found himself in the bullpen more often.

Can ya dig it: Is that the stadium in the distance? Wegener looks like he's way out in a pasture somewhere. Granted, it's a pasture with palm trees.

Right on: This is the second straight post of a player's final card.

You see that cat Wegener is a bad mother: Wegener went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in during a start against the Mets on July 11, 1969. A solid-hitting pitcher with a career .193 batting average, Wegener delivered a three-run double in the third inning of that game in which he pitched seven innings and got the win.

Shut your mouth: Wegener spent 14 years in pro ball but just two in the majors. After 1970, he toiled for seven years in the Expos, Mets and Giants farm systems.

No one understands him but his woman: Wegener gave up Willie Mays' 3,000th hit on July 18, 1970.

(A word about the back): Wegener missed most of the first two months of the 1970 season after offseason surgery for bone chips in his throwing elbow.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

no. 607 - paul ratliff

Who is the man: Paul Ratliff enjoyed the most playing time he received in any of his four major league seasons in 1970. He appeared in 69 games in his first stay in the majors since 1963.

Can ya dig it: This is Ratliff's only solo card. He appears on a four-player rookie card in the 1963 Topps set and a two-player rookie card seven years later (ouch) in the 1970 set.

Right on: Not a bad card for your only card.

You see that cat Ratliff is a bad mother: It's a stretch, but Ratliff was hit by a pitch seven times in 1970 (in just 149 at-bats), which was good for 10th in the American League that year. Had to be a tough guy to do that, right?

Shut your mouth: Ratliff is remembered for a bit of a bonehead play during a game against the Tigers. Pitcher Earl Wilson struck out for the final out of the inning, but Ratliff trapped the pitch, requiring him to either tag Wilson or throw to first. Instead, Ratliff rolled the ball to the pitcher's mound and walked off the field. Wilson proceeded to sprint around the bases, getting all the way past third, before the Twins retrieved the ball and caught Wilson in a rundown between third and home.

No one understands him but his woman: Ratliff, who was traded to the Brewers in the middle of the 1971 season, actually appears on another card, although his photo is credited to someone else, Ellie Rodriguez.

(A word about the back): Ratliff's biggest thrill came during the Twins' 10th game of the 1963 season on April 20. The two-run single only brought the Twins within 10-7 of the White Sox, who entered the ninth with a 10-4 lead. So it's not quite as exciting as it was written.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

no. 606 - chuck taylor

Who is the man: Chuck Taylor was in the middle of his third major league season and third season with the Cardinals when this card was issued. He appeared in more games (56) than any other Cardinals pitcher in 1970 and recorded eight saves.

Can ya dig it: This is a beautiful card. Vibrant colors with the blue sky, green grass, dirt sideline and the Cardinals red. And you get a nice view of the MLB logo patch.

Right on: I frequently wonder how often Taylor was asked whether he had anything to do with the name of the popular sneaker (although back in the '70s I remember them simply being called "Converse").

You see that cat Taylor is a bad mother: Taylor made an immediate impact as a 27-year-old rookie for the Cardinals in 1969. He was put into a starting rotation with Bob Gibson, Nelson Briles and Steve Carlton and proceeded to win six straight games.

Shut your mouth: During Taylor's rookie year, famed Cardinals announcer Jack Buck said, "Anyone named 'Chuck Taylor' from 'Bell Buckle, Tennessee' (the site of Taylor's high school) has to be a winner."

No one understands him but his woman: Taylor is the only major league "Chuck Taylor" in history, but there's another one on the way. The Mariners just selected minor league outfielder Chuck Taylor from the Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft a few days ago.

(A word about the back): I can't stress how weird it is to read "a veteran of Little League ... baseball".

Friday, December 9, 2016

no. 605 - orlando cepeda

Who is the man: Orlando Cepeda was coming off the best season of his three-plus years with the Braves when this card was issued. He slugged 34 home runs, hit .305 and shockingly didn't receive a single MVP vote.

Can ya dig it: No one has come out to see Cepeda. Even the dugout is empty.

Right on: All of Cepeda's Topps Braves cards are the same. Batting stance, batting stance, batting stance.

You see that cat Cepeda is a bad mother: Cepeda is another guy who absolutely mauled the ball in 1961. He hit 46 home runs and drove in 142 for the Giants, finishing second in the MVP vote to Frank Robinson.

Shut your mouth: Cepeda and Giants manager Alvin Dark did not get along. At one point, Dark kept a public ratings system on his players. Cepeda rated a negative 40 compared with Willie Mays' 100. "There are winning .275 hitters and losing .310 hitters," Dark said.

No one understands him but his woman: Cepeda served 10 months of a five-year prison sentence in Puerto Rico for possessing 165 pounds of marijuana. The Puerto Rican native became a disgrace in his country and lost all of his money before returning to the United States and fixing his life.

(A word about the back): The write-up kind of makes you believe he achieved all of those numbers with San Francisco. But that .325 and MVP was with St. Louis.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

no. 604 - john gelnar

Who is the man: John Gelnar enjoyed the most productive season of his five-year career in 1970, appearing in a career-high 53 games for the Brewers, the most on the staff.

Can ya dig it: It's another Brewer in Yankee Stadium. We must've come across a dozen of these by now.

Right on: This is Gelnar's final card. He had only two solo cards for Topps (1970, 1971).

You see that cat Gelnar is a bad mother: Gelnar was the first relief pitcher in Milwaukee Brewers history. He came on in relief for starter Lew Krausse in the fourth inning against the Angels on April 7, 1970. Unfortunately, he didn't do so well, turning a 4-0 deficit into a 7-0 deficit in four batters.

Shut your mouth: Gelnar, who went 3-10 for the Pilots in 1969, is a figure in some stories in Jim Bouton's "Ball Four". In one anecdote, Gelnar was recounting a conversation on the mound with manager Joe Schultz. The Tigers had two men on base and Gelnar wondered about the next batter, Tom Matchick: "Any particular way you want me to pitch him, Joe?" Gelnar asked. "Nah, bleep him," Schultz said. "Give him some low smoke and we'll go and pound some Budweiser."

No one understands him but his woman: Gelnar helped the Royals get Lou Piniella away from the Pilots. Seattle traded Piniella for Gelnar and Steve Whitaker.

(A word about the back): Gelnar's first major league games were with the Pirates. His first strikeout victim was the Cubs' Billy Williams.

Monday, December 5, 2016

no. 603 - pirates

Who is the man: The Pittsburgh Pirates won their first division title since 1960 when they took the NL East by five games over the Cubs in 1970. Pittsburgh was then swept by the Reds in the NLCS. But the Pirates would have the last laugh in 1971.

Can ya dig it: This was an organization on the cusp of their greatest decade since the 1920s. It's cool to see them at the beginning.

Right on: Just in case you didn't know who the bat boy was, he's seated in the front wearing three bats.

You see that cat Murtaugh is a bad mother: Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh is seated directly above the bat boy.

Shut your mouth: I was practically giddy because this team photo is the first to feature players with jersey numbers on the front in a long time. But then I found the same team photo with ID's underneath, so it's very easy to spot everyone. Roberto Clemente is the first guy seated on the left in the front row. Bill Mazeroski is at the opposite end of that row. Manny Sanguillen is two people to the left of Mazeroski. Al Oliver is the first player on the left in the middle row. Steve Blass is standing near the center of the back row between two large pitchers, Bob Veale on the left and Dock Ellis on the right. Finally, Willie Stargell is the second guy in from the right in the back row.

No one understands him but his woman: The traveling secretary never gets IDed. Let's get him in here. He's John Fitzpatrick and he's standing at the far right of the middle row next to pitcher Luke Walker.

(A word about the back): A little surprisingly (although not that much if you really look at the numbers), almost all of the Pirates' individual all-time season marks remain intact on this card. The only more recent player to crack the list is Kent Tekulve, who now holds the Pirates mark for most games pitched in a season with 94 in 1979.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

no. 602 - marty martinez

Who is the man:
Marty Martinez suffered a down season in 1970 after a couple of semiproductive years with the Braves and Astros in 1968 and 1969. He'd be dealt to the Cardinals at the end of the 1971 season.

Can ya dig it: You can see by the signature that Martinez's actual first name is Orlando.

Right on: That Astros logo needs to come back, I don't care if no one plays in the Astrodome anymore.

You see that cat Martinez is a bad mother: Please note the "infield" position designation on Martinez's card. He played all over the infield, the outfield, even caught 30 games during his career. Oh, and he pitched in a game.

Shut your mouth: Martinez is known for scouting and signing future Mariners Edgar Martinez and Omar Vizquel.

No one understands him but his woman: Martinez managed one game for the Seattle Mariners. It was on May 9, 1986 against the Red Sox (a 4-2 loss). Seattle had fired manager Chuck Cottier the day before and hired Dick Williams. Martinez served as interim manager before Williams' arrival.

(A word about the back): The Braves picked up Martinez from the Twins in the Rule 5 draft. Twins president Calvin Griffith dismissed the loss of Martinez, causing Braves manager Billy Hitchcock to say, "All I know is we weren't the only club interested in drafting Martinez. I know of at least two other clubs who wanted to make him their first draft choice."

Monday, November 28, 2016

no. 601 - ken tatum

Who is the man: Ken Tatum spent his sophomore season with the Angels in 1970, but was dealt to the Red Sox in October in the deal that sent Tony Conigliaro to Anaheim.

Can ya dig it: This card looks in much better condition than it is. There are two significant creases, one to the right of Tatum's right ear and another along his very long neck.

Right on: It still mystifies me that Topps blacked out caps during this period. How could they possibly think that this was a realistic depiction of a major league player? This ain't the Cleveland Browns, there are no logo-less caps in MLB!

You see that cat Tatum is a bad mother:
Tatum aced his rookie test, saving 22 games in 45 appearances with a 1.36 ERA to finish fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1969.

Shut your mouth: Tatum very nearly ended Orioles center fielder Paul Blair's career when he struck him in the head with a pitch during the 1970 season. Blair's nose and cheekbone were broken and he missed three weeks. But his vision was never altered.

No one understands him but his women: In 1995, the L.A. Times wrote a story about the history of the Angels' trials with relief pitchers. It mentioned Ken Tatum as the Angels' all-time leader for fewest hits and runs allowed in a season (at least 40 appearances). Tatum allowed just 51 and 13 in 1969. Tatum's hit record fell shortly after the article, as the Angels enjoyed a series of standout closers in Lee Smith, Troy Percival and Francisco Rodriguez. Percival broke the runs record in 2002 by allowing just 12. Granted, Tatum was pitching more innings per appearance than Smith, Percival and K-Rod.

(A word about the back): Topps keeps you in suspense about the major off-season trade by not mentioning any names. It was Ken Tatum, Jarvis Tatum and Doug Griffin to the Red Sox for Tony Conigliaro, Ray Jarvis and Jerry Moses.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

no. 600 - willie mays

Who is the man: Willie Mays entered the 1971 season the newest member of the 3,000-hit club. He delivered his 3,000th hit on July 18, 1970 against the Expos' Mike Wegener. It was part of resurgent season for Mays, who had struggled with injuries in 1969.

Can ya dig it: Any card of Willie Mays is exciting, but this certainly is not the most exciting photo.

Right on: The expression on Mays' face is one that appeared quite a bit on his cards. He seems a bit sore about something, but he also might be in the middle of ribbing someone for all I know.

You see that cat Mays is a bad mother: Widely considered the greatest all-around player in baseball history. Likely the most famous five-tool player ever. What's more bad-ass than that?

Shut your mouth: Mays was playing for the Negro League's Black Barons of Birmingham, Ala., in the late 1940s when Giants scout Eddie Montague noticed his play while scouting another player. Montague told the Giants: "You better send somebody down there with a barrelful of money and grab this kid."

No one understands him but his woman: Mays' famous over-the-shoulder catch of Vic Wertz's drive with the score tied 2-2 during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series is considered Mays' best catch by many. But Mays has said his best catch was probably a diving catch of a wicked drive by the Dodgers' Bobby Morgan in 1952. With two men on base and two out, Mays caught the ball in Ebbets Field outstretched, while parallel to the ground, then knocked himself out when he fell into the wall.

(A word about the back): What I am guessing was an ill-placed piece of tape has torn away a portion of the write-up. Here it is in full: "The only player with more than 300 Homers to top 300 Stolen Bases, Willie holds NL mark with 6,662 Putouts in outfield. Hit 20 or more Homers 17 times to set big league record. Voted Sporting News Player of 1960's."

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

no. 599 - norm cash

Who is the man: Norm Cash's career seemed to be on the decline after the 1970 season as he managed just 15 homers and a .259 average in 130 games. But he had one more great season in his holster and that would be the 1971 season.

Can ya dig it: Love the first baseman's stretch pose. The glove looks huge and Cash's back leg tiny.

Right on: It looks like someone left Cash to pick up all the equipment.

You see that cat Cash is a bad mother: Cash produced one of the best underappreciated seasons of the last 60 years. In 1961, Cash led baseball with a .361 average, hit 41 home runs, drove in 132, recorded a .662 slugging average and a 1.148 OPS. Unfortunately, someone else hit 61 home runs that year.

Shut your mouth: Cash later admitted he used a corked bat in 1961.

No one understands him but his woman: Cash was the first Tiger to hit a ball completely out of Tiger Stadium.

(A word about the back): Cash was 36 when this card came out. He doesn't look 36 in the photo.

Friday, November 18, 2016

no. 598 - rick wise

Who is the man: Rick Wise was in the midst of arguably his best season (some would campaign for 1975) when this card was issued. He'd win 17 games with a 2.88 ERA for a last-place team and be named an All-Star for the first time.

Can ya dig it: I always enjoy the "separate worlds" baseball stadium shot, where players are shown in the dugout while activity goes on above them in the stands. It really seems like two distinct worlds. Hell, different planets even.

Right on: The shoulder stripes never appealed to me.

You see that cat Wise is a bad mother: In this very season of 1971, Wise pitched a no-hitter against the Reds and hit two home runs in a 4-0 victory. For the year he hit six home runs.

Shut your mouth: Wise has one of my favorite quotes about the designated hitter: "The designated hitter rule is like having someone else take Wilt Chamberlain's free throws." I don't expect today's specialized world to understand that.

No one understands him but his woman: Wise is part of one of the most lopsided trades in history, the deal that sent Steve Carlton from the Cardinals to the Phillies. But Wise, at the time, was viewed as a more reliable pitcher than Carlton, who had somewhat raw, unharnessed ability then.

(A word about the back): Can you imagine giving a pep-talk to the Little League team that did nothing but strike out against one guy for six innings?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

no. 597 - ken suarez

Who is the man: Ken Suarez spent the entire 1970 season with Triple A Wichita. Only in a 752-card set would he get a card.

Can ya dig it: I have no idea why Suarez is featuring an airbrushed cap. He had been with the Indians since 1968 and was featured in full Indians uniform on his 1970 Topps card.

Right on: I remember seeing this card when I was a kid. I was repulsed by the blacked-out cap. It looked like some sort of knock-off baseball card to me.

You see that cat Suarez is a bad mother: Suarez singled with one out in the ninth inning to break up a perfect game attempt by the Orioles' Jim Palmer in 1973.

Shut your mouth: Suarez is known for being the first player in Rangers history to file for salary arbitration. Five days after he filed, the Rangers traded him back to the Indians. Suarez filed a grievance with the Players Association asking that the traded be nullified. He refused to report to the Indians and retired instead.

No one understands him but his woman: Suarez made the U.S. baseball team for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Baseball was a demonstration sport and in 1964 that meant just a single game. Suarez was on the team that beat an amateur squad from Japan, 6-2.

(A word about the back): The write-up is a little confusing, but Suarez's first hit in professional baseball was indeed a grand slam. It helps take your mind off all those zeroes in the stats.

Monday, November 14, 2016

no. 596 - mike jorgensen

Who is the man: Mike Jorgensen was coming off his first season entirely in major league baseball when this card was issued. He appeared in 76 games for the Mets in 1970. But his .195 average meant he'd spend part of 1971 in the minors.

Can ya dig it: The card is way off-center, but dig that Mets shoulder patch.

Right on: Wish I knew who was signing autographs in the background.

You see that Jorgensen is a bad mother: Jorgensen won the first Gold Glove for the Montreal Expos as a first baseman in 1973.

Shut your mouth: During a game against the Expos in 1980, Montreal pitcher Bill Gullickson threw a pitch near Jorgensen's head. Jorgensen angrily gestured at Gullickson and then Mets catcher John Stearns charged from the dugout and tackled Gullickson, starting a brawl.

No one understands him but his woman: Jorgensen was the only non-Dodger to win a Gold Glove at first base between 1967-77. Wes Parker won Gold Gloves from 67-72 and Steve Garvey won from 74-77.

(A word about the back): You can see that Jorgensen's home at the time was Bayside, which is in Queens. He lived with his parents when he played for the Mets then.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

no. 595 - dave johnson

Who is the man: Davey Johnson had completed his third straight All-Star season and second straight Gold Glove season when this card was released.

Can ya dig it: I can spot the "D" initial on the back of Johnson's uniform. That must mean there was another "Johnson" in the Orioles' organization at the time, although I can't find one studying the Orioles' 1970 roster.

Right on: Topps referred to Johnson as "Dave" throughout his playing career although he was called "Davey" more often. It wasn't until the 2000s when Johnson was a veteran manager that "Davey" began to appear on his cards.

You see that cat Johnson is a bad mother: Johnson tied the major league record for home runs by a second baseman when he hit 42 in 1973 (he actually hit 43 that year, but one was as a pinch-hitter).

Shut your mouth: When Johnson was playing second for the Orioles, he once visited pitcher Dave McNally on the mound to talk about "unfavorable change deviation theory," telling McNally, who was wild that game, to aim for the middle of the plate so he would miss his spot and hit the corner.

No one understands him but his woman: Johnson was the first American baseball star to play in Japan when he joined the Yomiuri Giants in 1975.

(A word about the back): It's a little difficult to find a photo of Johnson with his mouth closed on a baseball card. This is one of the few.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

no. 594 - cardinals rookie stars

Who is the man: Both Bob Chlupsa and Al Hrabosky made their major league debuts in 1970, while Bob Stinson received his second straight cup-of-coffee in the majors after debuting in 1969.

Can ya dig it: Yes, '70s and '80s fans, that is a young Al Hrabosky without a fu manchu. Pretty strange, huh?

Right on: You don't need me to tell you that Stinson is actually wearing Dodgers duds. The blue arm sleeves combo with the red airbrushed cap is rather jarring. Stinson was sent to the Cardinals, along with infielder Ted Sizemore, for slugger Dick Allen.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: Hrabosky had not acquired his "Mad Hungarian" nickname at this early state, so no, these guys are not bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Hrabosky worked as an attendant at Disneyland when he was growing up.

No one understands him but his woman: In 2010, famed card collector Keith Olbermann noted that he had a signed card for everyone in the 1976 SSPC set, a set for which he wrote the back bios, except for Stinson. Stinson has refused to sign the card, saying it is "an outlaw card" because players didn't get any money from the sale of the set.

(A word about the back): Chlupsa stood 6-foot-7 but managed just 15 games and 18-plus innings in his career. He spent his final two pro seasons in Hawaii in the Padres' organization.

Friday, November 4, 2016

no. 593 - jack aker

Who is the man: Jack Aker had completed his second strong bullpen season with the Yankees when this card was issued. He appeared in 41 games and posted a 2.06 ERA for the second straight year.

Can ya dig it: Aker has the honor of being the first super-high number card I obtained for the 1972 Topps set. But that's another set for another blog.

Right on: All I can think of is there are palm trees in the distance.

You see that cat Aker is a bad mother: Aker once held the record for most saves in a season when he recorded 32 for the Kansas City A's in 1966.

Shut your mouth: A's owner Charlie Finley made Aker available in the expansion draft in 1968 after the two got into several run-ins. Aker was the team's players union representative.

No one understands him but his woman: Aker's wife, Jane Charnin Aker, was one of the first female sportswriters to go into the locker room after major league games. She covered the Mets. She also won $250,000 on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" in which Jack makes an appearance.

(A word about the back): Interesting that the write-up gives Aker only 26 saves in 1966. I don't know if that's an error or if there was a different way of awarding saves at the time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

no. 592 - randy hundley

Who is the man: Randy Hundley played in just 73 games in 1970 after averaging more than 150 the previous four years. A home plate collision cost him three months of the season and the damaged knee that came from the collision would plague the rest of his career.

Can ya dig it: Hundley looks so intense on his cards. Smiling and intense.

Right on: I'm not a Cubs fan, but with Game 7 today you have to consider this post, with the cubbie bear on full display, a good omen.

You see that cat Hundley is a bad mother: Hundley broke a 41-year-old for most games played as a rookie catcher when he appeared in 149 in 1966. The record was broken two years later by Johnny Bench (154 in 1968).

Shut your mouth: Hundley's defense drew raves his rookie year. Cubs pitching coach Freddy Fitzsimmons said Hundley "has the best arm I've seen since Gabby Hartnett." Hundley proceeded to lead the National League in caught stealing in 1966. He was second in the category in 1968 and first again in 1969.

No one understands him but his woman: Hundley's son, Todd, played for the Cubs for two seasons, in 2001 and 2002. They were not good seasons for Todd. He could barely hit .200. Todd's mother (and Randy's wife), Betty, died from cancer in 2000, affecting his play. Randy said that if Betty had been alive, she would have never let Todd play for the Cubs because the pressure on Todd would be too great.

(A word about the back): The editor is going to get picky again: "Set NL mark and tied AL mark with only 4 passed balls, 1969." If you play in the National League, you can set a NL record. But you can't set or tie an AL record because you don't play in the AL. You can tie a major league record, which is how it should have been worded.

Monday, October 31, 2016

no. 591 - jackie brown

Who is the man: After nine years in the minors, Jackie Brown made his first appearance in the major leagues in 1970, pitching in 24 games for the Senators.

Can ya dig it: One of my favorite cards from those first 1971 Topps cards I owned as a young teen. The dark background drew me instantly (it could be a night card, but I'll probably never know for sure). And the Senators were such a strange team to a young kid in the late '70s. Who were they?

Right on: Rookie card!

You see that cat Brown is a bad mother: Brown spent most of his major league career as a reliever, but was a starter for most of 1974 with Texas and 1976 with Cleveland. In 1974, he outpitched the Angels' Nolan Ryan with a 5-0 victory, causing Brown's teammates to start calling him "ace". It didn't last long, though, as Brown ended up back in the bullpen.

Shut your mouth: Brown was the White Sox's pitching coach in the early 1990s. In explaining pitcher Alex Fernandez's turnaround season in 1993, Brown explained it simply: "If your objective is to not let the hitters hit the ball, it's going to be a long year."

No one understands him but his woman: The Expos traded for Brown in 1978, sending the Indians Andre Thornton in exchange. Thornton would go on to multiple 30-home run seasons for Cleveland.

(A word about the back): Brown's brother Paul pitched in 36 games for the Phillies between 1961-68 (there was a 5-year visit to the minors between 1963-68). He went 0-8 in his career.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

no. 590 - alex johnson

Who is the man: Alex Johnson was coming off the best season of his career when this card was issued. He batted .329 to win the American League title on the final day of the 1970 season. But in 1971 he was in the midst of his most controversial and tumultuous year.

Can ya dig it: I hope you know that I love bat-rack photos.

Right on: I don't know what's going on here, but it appears that the Angels are wrapping up batting practice. Johnson looks like he's exiting the dugout with his bat and glove and perhaps there's a clubhouse man behind him cleaning up.

You see that cat Johnson is a bad mother: Johnson was an immense talent and multiple teams were willing to overlook his difficulties to acquire him. He only really fulfilled those expectations in 1970 when he compiled 202 hits and recorded the only batting title in Angels history.

Shut your mouth: Johnson's inability to get along with management and teammates was an established habit by the time he arrived with the Angels. When manager Lefty Phillips was asked to compare Johnson to another controversial player, Richie Allen of the Phillies, Phillips scoffed, saying, "Once you get Richie Allen on the field, your problems are over. When Johnson gets to the field, your problems are just beginning."

No one understands him but his woman: After repeated fines and benchings, the Angels suspended Johnson after he failed to run out a groundball in June of 1971. A grievance was filed by Marvin Miller on the behalf of Johnson that said that Johnson was emotionally troubled and should have been disabled rather than suspended. An arbitrator sided with Johnson.

(A word about the back): Here we go again with "new" marks. Every current record, or mark, that is set is new. Redundancy 101.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

no. 589 - bob barton

Who is the man: Bob Barton played in 61 games in his first season with the Padres in 1970, backing up starting catcher Chris Cannizzaro.

Can ya dig it: Barton signs his name with some prominent "Bs". I like it.

Right on: I know Barton for his 1972 Topps In Action card, notable because many of the In Action players are stars or very good players (Barton's 1971 season was by far his best season).

You see that cat Barton is a bad mother: Barton recorded just nine passed balls in 380 games played in the majors. He also threw out 41 percent of base stealers during his career.

Shut your mouth:  Barton hit a ninth-inning grand slam against his old team, the Giants, during a game on June 18, 1971. The home run put the Padres ahead 9-5. But the Giants scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game 10-9.

No one understands him but his woman: Barton was used by Players Union head Marvin Miller to undermined club owners' argument that the reserve clause was good for marginal players because teams could deal them to another club that could use the player. Miller brought up a specific example, Barton, a player who had spent three years with the Giants' big league club but was barely used. Miller's argument was that if Barton could choose to play where he wanted, he might be able to succeed, instead of waiting for a club to trade him.

(A word about the back): Those 1970 stats make me wonder what would have happened if Barton took that University of Kentucky basketball scholarship.

Friday, October 21, 2016

no. 588 - tom bradley

Who is the man: Tom Bradley pitched for the California Angels (and for their minor league club in Hawaii) in 1970 and was traded to the White Sox on Nov. 30, 1970. You can see the collar of his Angels uniform in the photo.

Can ya dig it: This card is before its time. It wouldn't be until 1993 that you could see a turquoise cap on a baseball card when the Florida Marlins were invented. Of course, this is 100 percent airbrushed.

Right on: I just featured this card on my main blog. It was beaten out of a spot in my night card binder.

You see that cat Bradley is a bad mother: Bradley got off to a quick start in his first season with the White Sox in 1971. After 14 starts, he was second in the AL in earned-run average behind Vida Blue at 1.67. Later in the year he was profiled in Baseball Digest.

Shut your mouth: Bradley received the nickname "Omar," which was a reference to Omar Bradley, the well-decorated senior officer in the Army during World War II. Interestingly, Tom Bradley is credited with giving Rich Gossage his nickname "Goose."

No one understands him but his woman: Bradley found out about his trade to the Giants when he reported to the White Sox business office for his job of selling season-ticket packages.

 (A word about the back): Bradley started the 1969 season in Class A ball, and also appeared in AA and AAA, as well as the majors that year.