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.