Thursday, June 30, 2016

no. 548 - don mason

Who is the man: Don Mason managed just 36 at-bats for the Giants in 1970. He was traded to the Padres in the offseason.

Can ya dig it: This is the third straight card featuring a player in an airbrushed cap. Yup, we're getting to the higher numbers.

Right on: I have a difficult time believing that someone who played 46 games in 1970 necessitated an "infield" designation. Did he even have time to play three or four infield positions?

You see that cat Mason is a bad mother: Really digging here. Mason was acquired by the Padres partly because of his speed. He finished tied for third on the team in 1971 with six stolen bases.

Shut your mouth: He also finished third in the National League in errors committed at second with 15.

No one understands him but his woman: Mason is arguably the most productive hitter from Parsons College, a now-defunct school in Fairfield, Iowa. The school was known more for producing pitchers, including Charlie Williams, Rich Folkers and Jim Todd.

(A word about the back): Yeah, don't look at those current stats. Bask in the glory of his minor league season in 1965.

Monday, June 27, 2016

no. 547 - pat dobson

Who is the man: Pat Dobson pitched the 1970 season for the Padres, serving as San Diego's ace for one season before being traded to the Orioles after the season.

Can ya dig it: Why, in fact, Dobson is wearing a Padres uniform (and hat) in this photo! (EDIT: Probably actually a Tigers hat).

Right on: Are we keeping you awake, Pat?

You see that cat Dobson is a bad mother: Dobson won 20 games in his first season with the Orioles in 1971, becoming part of the famed Baltimore rotation with four 20-game winners.

Shut your mouth: Dobson wasn't afraid to speak his mind and it got him in trouble sometimes. While with the Tigers, he complained in the offseason that general manager Jim Campbell was afraid to make trades. That offseason, Campbell traded Dobson to the Padres.

No one understands him but his woman: Dobson met his wife, Kathe, when he was in his first years in minor league baseball, with the Tigers' affiliate in Durham, N.C. Kathe was a hostess for the Durham Bulls.

(A word about the back): The airbrushed Oriole on Dobson's cap looks slightly perturbed.

Friday, June 24, 2016

no. 546 - john matias

Who is the man: John Matias played his only season in the major leagues in 1970. He appeared in 58 games for the White Sox, batting .188.

Can ya dig it: Matias was traded from the White Sox to the Royals in October 1970. It's convenient that the White Sox wore light blue colors at the time because all Topps did was airbrush Matias' cap.

Right on: Matias' hands are strategically blocking any sign of Chicago White Sox lettering on the person behind him.

You see that cat Matias is a bad mother: Matias, a Hawaiian native, hit four home runs in four at-bats during the high school state championship game in 1962. It was such a big deal in Hawaii that the Honolulu Advertiser did a story on it 42 years later.

Shut your mouth: Matias returned to Hawaii after his career and remains there. He said of his 4-home run game, "Every time I run into someone, they swear they were at that game."

No one understands him but his woman: Matias' two career home runs both came against the Oakland A's.

(A word about the back): Matias seemed to be a streaky hitter. During the 1970 season, he went 8-for-12 in three games in late May.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

no. 545 - dick dietz

Who is the man: Dick Dietz enjoyed the year of his career in 1970. Allowed to become the Giants starting catcher for the first time, Dietz set career highs in virtually every category.

Can ya dig it: That's the calmest expression ever for someone attempting to throw out a runner.

Right on: Every time I think of Dietz, I think of a cartoon on the back of one of his cards.

You see that cat Dietz is a bad mother: Dietz was named to the Topps all-rookie team in 1967. Other players on that team included Tom Seaver, Rod Carew, Reggie Smith and Lee May.

Shut your mouth: Dietz may have been blackballed by baseball for his enthusiastic support for the players' union and the strike in 1972. Giants owner Horace Stoneham released Dietz, the Giants' playe representative, as soon as the strike ended. And after he was released by the Braves in the spring of 1974, despite a decent 1973, nobody picked him up.

No one understands him but his woman: Dietz is remembered for not attempting to avoid a pitch that hit him during Don Drysdale's record-setting scoreless streak. In the ninth inning of what would be Drysdale's fifth straight shutout, the bases were loaded when Dietz was hit on the elbow by a pitch. But umpire Harry Wendelstedt ruled Dietz failed to get out of the way. Dietz proceeded to fly out to end the game. The Giants argued the call, but teammate Ron Hunt remembered that Dietz "stood there like a post. It was a high slider and he didn't make an attempt."

(A word about the back): 159 walks -- that's almost Barry Bonds territory.

Monday, June 20, 2016

no. 544 - vida blue

Who is the man: Vida Blue was in the midst of the season of his career when this card was released. After appearing in just six games as a September call-up in 1970, Blue would be the talk of baseball in 1971.

Can ya dig it: One of the most memorable cards in the set. A fortuitous bit of photography taken before anyone knew that Blue would win 24 games in 1971.

Right on: I knew this card from the 1975 Topps set. It appeared on one of the MVP subset cards that was in one of the first packs that I ever bought.

You see that cat Blue is a bad mother: Blue was the first pitcher to start for both the AL and the NL in the All-Star Game.

Shut your mouth: When Blue was named starting pitcher for the AL for the 1971 All-Star Game, the Pirates' Dock Ellis said that NL manager Sparky Anderson would never name Ellis the starter for the NL because Anderson didn't like him, and also because "they wouldn't pitch two brothers against each other." Anderson named Ellis the NL starting pitcher.

No one understands him but his woman: Blue appeared on the cover of Time on Aug. 23, 1971, one of the few major league players to ever appear on a Time cover (others include Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Pete Rose, Dwight Gooden and others, but the most recent baseball cover as far as I can tell is in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series).

(A word about the back): Blue's no-hitter against the Twins occurred in just his 16th major league appearance. And he threw a complete-game one-hitter against the Royals just 10 days earlier.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

no. 543 - yankees

Who is the man: After five straight seasons finishing fifth or worse, the Yankees enjoyed a resurgence in 1970, winning 93 games and taking second behind the Orioles in the AL East. It wouldn't last though.

Can ya dig it: The team logo the Yankees trotted out for these photos is interesting. Is that made of cardboard? Metal? The team posed in front of the sign on their team cards from 1970-75. (They also did it some in the '60s).

Right on: I believe the Yankees are posing in Yankee Stadium.

You see that cat Houk is a bad mother: Veteran manager Ralph Houk is sitting right above the sign.

Shut your mouth: The Yankees aren't helping identify people in this photo without numbers on the front, and my vision isn't what it used to be. I do know the tallest guy in the back (fifth from the left) is pitcher Steve Hamilton, because he was 6-foot-7.

No one understands him but his woman: The man in the suit could be general manager Lee MacPhail.

(A word about the back): Topps really shrunk the type size on the back to get in all the Yankees championships.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

no. 542 - bob miller

Who is the man: Bob Miller had solidified his reputation as a peripatetic pitcher when this card was issued. He pitched for three team in 1970, the Indians, White Sox and the Cubs. And he wasn't even with the Cubs when this card was issued. The Cubs released him in May 1971 and the Padres signed him.

Can ya dig it: One of the majorly miscut cards that I own from this set. I believe this is one of the late-arriving cards when I was just trying to get the damn thing finished. I need to upgrade.

Right on: I am rather impressed that Miller is shown in a Cubs uniform, given that Chicago signed him at the start of September in 1970. That's the advantage of issuing a set in multiple series.

You see that cat Miller is a bad mother: Miller played for three World Series champions, the 1963 and 1965 Dodgers and the 1971 Pirates (after the Padres signed him, they traded him to the Pirates in August).

Shut your mouth: When Miller pitched for the expansion Mets in 1962, manager Casey Stengel couldn't remember his name. He would call Miller "Nelson," calling down to the bullpen to say, "get Nelson ready." He even introduced Miller as "Nelson."

No one understands him but his woman: Miller's 12 straight losses for the Mets to start the '62 season tied a major league record. It was later broken by another Mets pitcher, Anthony Young.

(A word about the back): You know it's a 1971 Topps back when the Legion ball highlights crowd out the World Series highlights.

Friday, June 10, 2016

no. 541 - bob burda

Who is the man: Bob Burda played for the Giants and the Brewers in 1970. He was traded to the Cardinals in early February of 1971.

Can ya dig it: I don't know whether Burda is wearing a Giants uniform or Brewers uniform here. But it's definitely not a Cardinals uniform.

Right on: This card just reinforces how much I despised cards of hatless players when I was a kid.

You see that cat Burda is a bad mother: Burda led the National League in pinch-hits with 14 in 1971.

Shut your mouth: I share a birthday with Burda. So that's ... something.

No one understands him but his woman: Burda put up strong minor league numbers over 11 seasons for St. Louis, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The only trouble was he was mostly a first baseman at that time and the starters at that position for those teams, respectively, were Bill White, Willie Stargell and Willie McCovey.

(A word about the back): Burda's first game in the majors was with the Cardinals. So they reacquired him nine years later.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

no. 540 - larry dierker

Who is the man: Larry Dierker's 1970 season wasn't quite as impressive as his 1969 season, but he was still enjoying the pinnacle of his career as he entered the '71 season.

Can ya dig it: Dierker is just 23 years old in this photo, assuming it was taken in 1970. Otherwise he's even younger.

Right on: Just an outstanding signature there. If I collected autographs, I would have to limit it to old-time players. Current players' signatures are inadequate.

You see that cat Dierker is a bad mother: Dierker is the first pitcher to win 20 games in a season for the Astros. He did it in 1969.

Shut your mouth: In 2003, Dierker, who also managed and broadcasted for the Astros, wrote an entertaining book called "This Ain't Brain Surgery: How To Win the Pennant Without Losing Your Mind," which recounted his random experiences in major league baseball.

No one understands him but his woman: Dierker was the first player to pitch in the Astrodome. The first "official" game in the Astrodome was April 9, 1965, an exhibition game between the Astros and the Yankees in which Turk Farrell started for Houston. But before that, after the Astros returned from spring training, there was an exhibition game between the Astros and their Triple A team in the dome. Dierker started that game.

 (A word about the back): Dierker was called up the Astros in the summer of 1964, making him the most recent 17-year-old to appear on an major league roster. His first appearance, on his 18th birthday, lasted 2 2/3 innings. He struck out Jim Ray Hart and Willie Mays to end a two-on, no-out situation in the first. Then he gave up a home run to Orlando Cepeda to lead off the second.

Monday, June 6, 2016

no. 539 - larry brown

Who is the man: Larry Brown's starting days were coming to an end when this card was issued. The Indians went with a younger Jack Heidemann over the veteran Brown at shortstop in 1970, and after appearing in more than 100 games six straight years, he appeared in just 72 in 1970.

Can ya dig it: He looks like Bobby Valentine to me.

Right on: You can't beat the classic posed shot in Yankee Stadium.

You see that cat Brown is a bad mother: Although Brown didn't hit a lot, he was one of the steadiest shortstops in Indians history. He fielded his position well and at the plate didn't strike out much and finished in the top 10 in intentional walks in 1968.

Shut your mouth: When I was coming back to the hobby in 2004, I would frequent an antique/jewelry shop where a dealer displayed a bunch of vintage cards. I was there primarily to complete my 1975 Topps set, but there were other random vintage cards around, too. In a box of cheapies, I discovered a bunch of different cards of Larry Brown. I had never heard of the guy before that moment. Larry Brown to me was a basketball coach. And I wondered what kind of fixation this dealer had with this new Larry Brown.

No one understands him but his woman: Brown's older brother, Dick, played for the Indians from 1957-59. I guess that made it  convenient for mom. From 57-59 and from 63-70, Cleveland was always a destination to watch the kids play.

(A word about the back): Going all the way back to 1959 to find some complimentary stats.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

no. 538 - angel bravo

Who is the man: Angel Bravo had completed his first season with the Reds as a role-playing, pinch-hitting outfielder when this card was issued.

Can ya dig it: This is one of Bravo's two Topps cards. He was actually a member of the Padres by the time the card was issued. He was sent to San Diego in mid-May of 1971 for Al Ferrara.

Right on: Look at that choking up on his final card!

You see that cat Bravo is a bad mother: Bravo was an outfielder in a Wright State University German professor's all-religious team, compiled in the early 1990s. The team in its entirety: C Steve Christmas; 1B Luke Easter; 2B Johnny Temple; SS Jose Pagan; 3B Tim Teufel; OF Jesus Alou, Angel Bravo, Bob Christian; P Preacher Roe; RP Jim Gott; Manager Harry Lord

Shut your mouth: When Bravo was with the White Sox in 1969, he received criticism, along with some of the other young White Sox from veteran players who thought they were playing too deep. One unnamed White Sox player in a Sports Illustrated article said: "There seem to be a few people on this club who don't have any pride. Maybe they should send some of these young hotshots back to the minors and let them ride buses for a month."

No one understands him but his woman: This is a great story, also from Sports Illustrated. The story goes that Bravo left the Reds to play in Mexico. But he left no way for Reds traveling secretary Paul Campbell to contact him. Campbell was trying to get into Bravo's company-owned suitcase to which only Bravo knew the combination. Campbell kept the suitcase in his office and randomly tried to open the three-digit lock, attempting one of the 1,000 possible combinations. Then, one day, someone suggested Campbell try Bravo's best seasonal batting average. They looked it up and Bravo batted .342 in 1969 in the Pacific Coast League. Campbell tried 3-4-2 and the suitcase opened. And it was empty.

(A word about the back): This doesn't prove whether he was actually an outstanding base-runner, but Bravo stole two bases in his big-league career and was caught stealing twice. He did steal 60 bases in two separate seasons in Class A ball.