Friday, September 30, 2016

no. 581 - roger nelson

Who is the man: Roger Nelson had struggled with shoulder problems in 1970 and managed just 9 innings the whole year. He spent most of 1971 rehabilitating.

Can ya dig it: Nelson is 6-feet-3. I can tell in this photo.

Right on: I admit I didn't really know much about Nelson before starting this post. When I looked up his cards, I was surprised he was the same guy airbrushed into a White Sox cap on his 1975 Topps card. "Oh, so you're that guy," I said.

You see that cat Nelson is a bad mother: Nelson was the No. 1 pick of the Kansas City Royals in the 1968 expansion draft. He finished fifth in the A.L. in earned run average in 1972 at 2.08 (that's right, a 2.08 ERA was fifth in 1972).

Shut your mouth: Nelson may have been airbrushed into a White Sox cap in '75, but he never played for Chicago then as he was released before the 1975 season began (he did start out with the White Sox in 1967, appearing in five games).

No one understands him but his woman: Nelson pitched the Royals' final game in Municipal Stadium -- the former home of the Kansas City A's) -- on Oct. 4, 1972. He threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout against the Rangers.

(A word about the back): I'm going to assume that Nelson did not letter in basketball and cross country in the 1968 expansion pool, but that's how it reads.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

no. 580 - tony perez

Who is the man: Tony Perez had just completed arguably his best season when this card was issued. In 1970, he hit a career-high 40 home runs, drove in a career-high 129 runs and batted .317.

Can ya dig it: Perez has some terrific cards. This one may not rank up there with his '66, '67, '70, '76 or '77 cards, but it's a nice reflective shot. I enjoy the bat on the shoulder, the helmet and the batting glove.

Right on: This would be the last time that Perez would be listed as a third baseman on the front of his card (he was still a third baseman for the '72 Topps set, but there are no positions on the front of that set). He would move to first base full-time in 1972, and his 1973 Topps card is his first at first base since the 1967 set.

You see that cat Perez is a bad mother: The Hall of Famer won the 1967 All-Star Game with a home run off of Catfish Hunter in the 15th inning.

Shut your mouth: When Perez was traded to the Expos, Perez's wife said that their sons, Victor and Eduardo, wanted to know if the Expos catcher (Gary Carter) could hold as many balls in one hand as Johnny Bench. (Both sons would go on to play professionally, and Eduardo reached the majors and then became an ESPN broadcaster).

No one understands him but his woman: Perez's wife's name is either Petuka or Pituka. I've seen it spelled both ways multiple times.

(A word about the back): Albert Pujols now holds the NL mark for most homers in April with 14, set in 2006.

Monday, September 26, 2016

no. 579 - marty pattin

Who is the man: Marty Pattin enjoyed his most successful season to date in 1970, winning in double figures for the first time and pitching in 233-plus innings, striking out 161.

Can ya dig it: Half the pitchers during the 1970s look like they're doing the hokey pokey in their card photos. "You put your right hand in ..."

Right on: Look at all that advertising in the background that I wish I could read but I can't.

You see that cat Pattin is a bad mother: Pattin's 126 strikeouts for the Seattle Pilots in 1969 was good for second on the team. Only Gene Brabender with 139 had more.

Shut your mouth: Baseball-reference says Pattin's nickname is "Bulldog," but he is most often called "Duck," for his ability to imitate Donald Duck.

No one understands him but his woman: Pattin married his first wife, Vera (she died in 1996) when he was in college. The entire Eastern Illinois University baseball team came to the wedding and formed an arch with baseball bats for Pattin and his bride to walk under.

(A word about the back): The best part of playing for a two-year-old franchise is saying that you once held the all-time club record in several categories.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

no. 578 - ron hunt

Who is the man: Ron Hunt was in the middle of what would be his most famous season when this card was issued. He would end 1971 with a still unmatched 50 hit-by-pitches for the year.

Can ya dig it: Hunt is wearing a San Francisco Giants jersey and cap in this photo. He was traded to the Expos in late December 1970.

Right on: I came across so many mentions of Ron Hunt on the back of my baseball cards when I was kid in the 1970s that I knew his legacy of being hit without ever watching him play. Hunt's career HBP total has since been surpassed by Don Baylor and Craig Biggio, but no one was praised more for his ability to literally take a pitch than Hunt.

You see that cat Hunt is a bad mother: Hunt would frequently toss the ball back to the pitcher after getting hit by a pitch. Imagine a batter doing that now. There'd be riots.

Shut your mouth: When Hunt retired, he held records for most HBPs for a career, a season, consecutive seasons (7) and in a game (3). "They may be dumb records," Hunt said. "But they're the only ones I got."

No one understands him but his woman: Hunt was involved in the first trade between the Dodgers and the Giants since both teams moved out to the West Coast before the 1958 season. He was dealt from L.A., along with Nate Oliver. to San Francisco for Tom Haller and a minor leaguer.

(A word about the back): I believe the NL record that Hunt set for career HBPs surpassed the career mark by Honus Wagner, who was hit by 125 pitches. Frank Chance had around the same total. It's a bit difficult to determine whose record Hunt passed because a lot of prominent HBPers played in the 1800s (Chance was one of them) and pre-1900 stats are often discounted.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

no. 577 - jim lonborg

Who is the man: Jim Lonborg was enjoying a comeback summer for the Red Sox when this card was issued. He struggled with shoulder problems all during the 1970 season and appeared in just nine games.

Can ya dig it: Lonborg has such a goofy expression on some his cards. Here he seems to be saying, "oops, watch out grandma, I almost nailed you with that pitch!"

Right on: I would get Jim Lonborg and Jim Bunning confused for years. And here in the 1971 Topps set, they are three cards apart.

You see that cat Lonborg is a bad mother: Lonborg will be forever known for his Cy Young season in 1967 when he led the Impossible Dream Red Sox to the World Series.

Shut your mouth: Lonborg pitched a one-hitter and a three-hitter in back-to-back appearances in the '67 World Series (Game 2 and Game 5). He paid partial credit to Sandy Koufax for the performance, saying that he had a conversation with Koufax, who was a broadcaster for the Series, before pitching. They talked about visualizing pitching a game in his mind before going on the field, and Lonborg said it helped.

No one understands him but his woman: When Lonborg retired from baseball and was figuring out what to do next, his wife Rosemary said, "Why don't you become a dentist? You like health care. You've always looked good in a uniform." Lonborg did and is practicing to this day. He's said he'll retire in 2017.

(A word about the back): Lonborg's 1967 season is mentioned on the write-up of each of his Topps cards from 1968-71. Then, in the 1972 set, after his trade to Milwaukee, the write-up simply says: "The Opening Day pitcher for Louisville, 4-16-71, Jim hurled 12-3 win vs. Rochester on his 29th birthday."

How the mighty have fallen.

Friday, September 16, 2016

no. 576 - cubs rookie stars

Who is the man: Adrian Garrett and Brock Davis each played briefly in the majors in 1970 at three and six games, respectively. Garry Jestadt spent all of 1970 in the minors, on three minor league teams.

Can ya dig it: This is the third version of the rookie stars cards in this set. We've already seen the two-player, one-team rookie stars cards, and the three-player, multiple-team rookie stars cards. This is the three-player, one-team rookie stars card.

Right on: A bunch of reclamation projects on this card. Garrett was getting his first taste of the majors since he played four games for the Braves in 1966. Davis had a similar four-year gap, last playing in the majors for the Astros in 1966. Jestadt had spent the vast majority of his career in the minors since 1965.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: No way. This set has now featured five rookie stars Cubs. The five combined would have five solo Topps cards in their careers (2 each for Garrett and Davis, 1 for Jestadt, none for Jim Dunegan or Roe Skidmore).

Shut your mouth: Brock Davis' actual first name is "Bryshear".

No one understands him but his woman: Both Garrett and Jestadt played multiple seasons in Japan.

(A word about that back): Note the birthdates for Garrett and Davis. They were 27 or 28 years old when this card was issued. Davis appeared on a rookie stars card with Willie Stargell in the 1963 Topps set for crying out loud!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

no. 575 - bill freehan

Who is the man: Bill Freehan was enjoying a bounce-back season when this card was issued. His 1970 season was rough. His stats plummeted, his season ended early so he could undergo back surgery, and fans booed him after the release of his diary of the Tigers' 1969 season called "Behind the Mask".

Can ya dig it: I don't know why the crop is so tight on Freehan. Did he spill his lunch on his jersey? Makes for a distinctive card though.

Right on: Yankee Stadium all the way.

You see that cat Freehan is a bad mother: Freehan was known for his defensive ability and handling of the Tigers' pitching staff. He finished second in the AL MVP voting in 1968 to teammate Denny McLain.

Shut your mouth: Freehan's diary wasn't nearly as scandalous as Jim Bouton's "Ball Four," which came out the same year. But McLain had been suspended over a gambling investigation and Sports Illustrated published excerpts of Freehan's book, referring specifically to McLain and whether the team gave him special treatment. While the Tigers struggled, Freehan was viewed as airing clubhouse secrets.

No one understands him but his woman: Freehan recorded the final out of the 1968 World Series, catching Tim McCarver's foul pop up.

(A word about the back): Freehan set all kinds of old-timey catching stat records during his career (putouts, chances, etc.). When he retired, he owned the best career fielding percentage for a catcher at .993. He is now 30th all-time as catchers like Mike Redmond, Damien Miller and Chris Snyder have surpassed him. There are 13 active catchers in the majors with a better career fielding percentage than Freehan.

Monday, September 12, 2016

no. 574 - jim bunning

Who is the man: Jim Bunning was in his final major league season when this card was issued. He had returned to the Phillies in 1970 after bouncing between the Pirates and Dodgers in 1968 and 1969.

Can ya dig it: Bunning senses a disturbance in the stands.

Right on: This is the final card issued during his career.

You see that cat Bunning is a bad mother: Lots to cite for the Hall of Famer, but I didn't know that when Bunning retired, he was second only to Walter Johnson in career strikeouts with 2,855.

Shut your mouth: Bunning was elected to the city council in his native Kentucky in 1977. That started a political career that would include terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate until he stepped away in 2009. During the state Senate race in 2004, Bunning said his opponent "looked like one of Saddam Hussein's sons" and later accused one of his opponent's staffers of roughing up his wife during an event.

No one understands him but his woman: Bunning pitched the fifth perfect game in major league history, against the Mets in 1964. He's the only player to throw a perfect game on Father's Day, which is appropriate as he has nine children.

(A word about the back): The bio is correct. Bunning did indeed reach 100 career National League victories during the 1970 season. He finished 1970 with 101 career NL wins.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

no. 573 - ed kranepool

Who is the man: Ed Kranepool was coming off a difficult season when this card was issued. After batting a mere .118 the first two months, the veteran Kranepool was demoted to Triple A. When he returned in August, he didn't play much and finished the year batting .170.

Can ya dig it: I always enjoy the old-fashioned grandstand in the picture.

Right on: Kranepool was my grandfather's favorite New York Met.

You see that cat Kranepool is a bad mother: Kranepool remains the Mets' all-time leader in games played with 1,853. David Wright is a little under 300 games behind him at 1,583.

Shut your mouth: Kranepool appeared on Gillette Foamy commercials on New York television when I was a kid watching Mets games. I remember him shaving in the dugout during the commercial because it supposedly improved his hitting.

No one understands him but his woman: Kranepool said he was the only Mets player invited to the funeral of Mets owner Joan Payson when she died in 1975. The team came apart after her death as it fell into the hands of club chairman M. Donald Grant, known for trading Tom Seaver.

(A word about the back): The series of extra-inning games referred to in the bio write-up was basically the start of Kranepool remaining in the major leagues for good (except for that demotion in 1970). The 23-inning game ended at 11:20 p.m., prompting Kranepool to quip that he wished the game had lasted 40 more minutes, so he could say he played a game that started in May and ended in June.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

no. 572 - jerry kenney

Who is the man: Jerry Kenney had completed his third season with the Yankees -- after missing all of 1968 due to military commitments -- when this card was issued. It was not a good season.

Can ya dig it: This card is the literal definition of "rough around the edges."

Right on: As a known Yankee-hater, I get a thrill out of players like this, who are know for not playing well for New York and symbolize the bad old days of the Yankees.

You see that cat Kenney is a bad mother: Kenney was selected as the man to replace Mickey Mantle in center field in 1969. Kenney transitioned from shortstop to center field just as Mantle did. But he didn't last long out there, spending most of his time at third base that season and thereafter.

Shut your mouth: Kenney delivered a game-winning hit that almost didn't happen in a game against the Orioles. Baltimore had won the first two games of the series in July 1970, both in late, dramatic fashion. For the third game, the Orioles were ahead 5-4 in the top of the sixth when rain started to fall. The umpires ordered the tarp out, but the Yankees refused to leave the field, not wanting what was an official game at that point to end. By the time the arguing was over, the rain had let up and the game resumed. Kenney delivered his third hit of the game to drive in the decisive two runs in the very inning the rain started falling. The Yankees won 7-5.

No one understands him but his woman: Kenney was once pranked by Yankees pitcher Fritz Peterson. As Peterson recounted in his book "Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven," he drew up a mock letter from Gulden's Mustard stating that the company wanted Kenney to do a commercial for them at Yankee Stadium. Kenney was so excited about the opportunity and the large amount of money promised for the work that he ordered a Ford Mustang convertible that day. Peterson informed him the next day that the offer wasn't real and Kenney was forced to cancel his car order.

(A word about the back): I didn't write that "3" on the back of the card.

Friday, September 2, 2016

no. 571 - ted sizemore

Who is the man: Ted Sizemore was coming off an injury plagued sophomore season when this card was released. He batted .306, but in just 98 games in 1970, and was traded from the Dodgers to the Cardinals in the offseason for Richie (Dick) Allen.

Can ya dig it: Sizemore is actually wearing a Dodger uniform in this photo.

Right on: In four short years, Sizemore looked like this.

You see that cat Sizemore is a bad mother: Sizemore won the NL's Rookie of the Year Award in 1969.

Shut your mouth: In a well-noted interview released after stepping down as Cubs manager in September, 1979, Herman Franks criticized many of his former players, including Sizemore. "Sizemore's trouble always was his mouth," Franks said. "I can't tell you the number of times this season he came into my office to apologize for things he'd said that appeared in the newspaper."

No one understands him but his woman: Sizemore is one of 12 second basemen to hold the record for most errors in an inning with three. He is the most recent player to suffer the fate, on April 17, 1975 while playing for the Cardinals.

 (A word about the back): I'm assuming "leading batter" is referring to batting average. Wes Parker had the highest average for the Dodgers in 1970 at .319. Sizemore followed at .306. But L.A. had four starters over .300 that year. Willie Davis and Manny Mota each batted .305.