Thursday, March 30, 2017

no. 644 - jim stewart

Who is the man: Jim Stewart produced in his usual role as a "super sub" for the Reds, playing in the outfield, infield and even catching one game in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Stewart's giving you the ol' bunting pose but he doesn't seem completely sure of himself.

Right on: Stewart is referred to as "Jim" on all of his Topps cards until his final card in 1973, when he's listed as "Jimmy". I guess by then, Topps was certain no one would confuse him with the actor.

You see that cat Stewart is a bad mother: Stewart was the best pinch-hitter (13-for-39) for the National League champion Reds in 1970.

Shut your mouth: Stewart was part of the Reds' 1969 backup crew that called themselves the "Red Raiders". Stewart, and players like Woody Woodward and Chico Ruiz, would pride themselves on being able to fill in capably for the stars on the team. Reds manager Dave Bristol said: "I love them all. They're always pulling for the other guy. Never griping."

No one understands him but his woman: Stewart married his wife, Donna, when she was 19. They stayed married for 51 years, right until Stewart's death in 2012.

(A word about the back): Stewart's catching appearance was actually on Aug. 9th, the first game of a doubleheader against the Dodgers in L.A. It was in the eighth inning and the Dodgers had just gone ahead 4-3 against the Reds' Don Gullett. Stewart caught Gullett and Gullett's replacement John Noriega in what turned out to be a four-run inning for the Dodgers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

no. 643 - rick reichardt

Who is the man: Rick Reichardt played mostly for the Washington Senators in 1970. He was traded from the Angels on April 27 of that year after just nine games in a deal for third baseman Ken McMullen. The Senators then traded Reichardt to the White Sox in February 1971.

Can ya dig it: You know how much I dislike cards of players without caps, but at least the bat on the shoulder somewhat evens out the caplessness.

Right on: This photo is likely from the same photo shoot as the one that appears on his 1967 Topps card, as you can see the Angels colors on his collar. It's also likely from the same photo shoot as Reichardt's 1968 and 1969 cards. Four of Reichardt's last five Topps cards show him looking to the left with a bat on his right shoulder.

You see that cat Reichardt is a bad mother: Reichardt was known as the richest bonus baby of all-time when the Angels won a bidding war by paying $200,000 in 1964. The bidding frenzy is often credited for starting MLB's amateur draft.

Shut your mouth: The write-up on the back of Reichardt's 1967 Topps card begins thusly: "In case you're wondering where the next superstar is coming from, cast an eye at the California Angels' Rick Reichardt."

No one understands him but his woman: It's a mystery why Reichardt did not appear on a Topps baseball card after his '71 card was issued. Reichardt enjoyed one of his best seasons in 1971 but didn't appear in the very large 1972 set. He also played enough in 1972 to show in the 1973 set and you could argue for his inclusion in the 1974 set, too. I wonder if it was a licensing deal (much like Rusty Staub at the same time)?

(A word about the back): Fifty-six major leaguers have hit two home runs in an inning. But at the time Reichardt accomplished the feat, only 13 players had.

Friday, March 24, 2017

no. 642 - jim roland

Who is the man: Jim Roland was in the middle of a career revival as a long reliever when this card was issued. An injury in a collision with catcher Ray Fosse shortened his season in 1970, but he still posted a 2.70 ERA in 28 games.

Can ya dig it: The only guy I know of from this time period who wore a white windbreaker under his uniform. No commonplace blue, black or red for Jim.

Right on: I like Roland's cards so much that I named him a "Legend of Cardboard" on my main blog.

You see that cat Roland is a bad mother: Roland's 12-inning performance for the Twins against the Yankees in 1964 is the third longest stint by a Twins starter in franchise history. Only Jim Merritt (13) and Camilio Pascual (12 2/3) have pitched longer.

Shut your mouth: In 1967, an Associated Press story called Roland "one of the most disappointing investments (Twins owner) Calvin Griffith ever made."

No one understands him but his woman: Roland pitched the final game against the Seattle Pilots, gaining the 3-1 victory with a career-matching nine strikeouts.

(A word about the back): Not much to mention here, so I'll just say that Roland's 1970 ERA is now 2.70 according to official records.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

no. 641 - mets

Who is the man: The Mets were not so miraculous in 1970, coming down from their World Series championship high in 1969 to finish third in the NL East.

Can ya dig it: I'm assuming this photo was taken outside since I see grass. The white background, though, makes it look like it's inside somewhere. Maybe they simply erected one of those white backdrops behind the team.

Right on: Trainers/clubhouse men bookend the bottom row.

You see that cat Hodges is a bad mother: Manager Gil Hodges is seated in the middle of the second row, fifth from the left.

Shut your mouth: Finally some visible numbers. They stuck the poor coaches on the ground. Yogi Berra is the third guy from the left in the first row. Rube Walker is the third guy from the right. I hope it didn't take them too long to get up afterward. In the second row, catcher Duffy Dyer is three guys from the right. In the third row, the first guy on the left is Tommie Agee and he has his hands on the shoulders of the player in front of him. I don't know who that is, but I think the guy next to him is infielder Al Weis. In the top row, Tom Seaver is third from the left. Ron Swoboda is standing next to Seaver and Jerry Koosman is next to Swoboda.

No one understands him but his woman: I think the player to the left of Seaver is Donn Clendenon even though Clendenon wore No. 22 and the number here appears to be 28, which isn't listed on the 1970 Mets roster. I don't know who else it could be (Ken Singleton wore No. 29 and was the tallest guy on the Mets --6-4 -- but the guy next to Koosman looks more like Singleton).

(A word about the back): Tenth, tenth, tenth, tenth, ninth, tenth, ninth, FIRST.

Monday, March 20, 2017

no. 640 - frank robinson

Who is the man: Frank Robinson was in the midst of what would be his final season with the Baltimore Orioles when this card was issued. He'd be traded to the Dodgers in December, 1971.

Can ya dig it: These superstars that were issued in the high numbers are a bitch to track down. It's almost unfair putting guys like this in the sixth series (*cough* kind of like stashing all the stars in the Heritage SPs).

Right on: I love Robinson's Dodger cards. There are so few.

You see that cat Robinson is a bad mother: The only player to win an MVP in both the AL and NL. That's pure bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Robinson nearly drowned during a swimming party in August 1966. The Orioles delighted in throwing each other into the pool and didn't believe Robinson when he said he never learned to swim. He was thrown in and had to be rescued by catcher Andy Etchebarren.

No one understands him but his woman: Robinson had problems finding a place to live when he arrived in Baltimore in 1966. Segregation dominated the city and Robinson and his wife were turned away repeatedly. One day his wife, Barbara, called Frank in frustration, which caused Frank to threaten to leave Baltimore. The Orioles' team owner found the Robinsons a home.

(A word about the back): When the write-up says "one of only 5 AL batters with .300 lifetime Avg.," I believe it's referring to AL batters who were playing at the time.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

no. 639 - tom haller

Who is the man: Tom Haller was in his fourth and final season with the Dodgers when this card was issued. He was L.A.'s starting catcher for a third straight year in 1970 but didn't play as often as he did in '68 and '69.

Can ya dig it: That is one tight crop on Haller. It's so tight, I've often wondered if Topps was hiding an airbrushing. But Haller had been with L.A. for so long by this time there would be no reason for it. (And it's clearly an L.A. cap).

Right on: Haller is featured on one of the most disturbing Dodger cards in my collection. It's his 1969 Topps card in which he's actually wearing a Giants uniform. It's also the same photo that was used on his 1964 Topps card (5 years prior!).

You see that cat is a bad mother: Haller was known as one of the best defensive catchers of the 1960s and made the All-Star team three straight years between 1966-68.

Shut your mouth: Haller's brother, Bill, was an umpire in the American League. When Haller came over to the Tigers in 1972, they worked behind the plate in the same game on July 14 as Detroit played Kansas City. It was the first time that had happened in MLB history.

No one understands him but his woman: Haller was involved in the first trade between the Dodgers and Giants since the two teams moved to the west coast in 1958. Haller was traded to L.A. for infielder Ron Hunt in February 1968.

(A word about the back): Haller still holds the National League record for most double plays executed by a catcher. Meanwhile, the AL record has stood since 1916.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

no. 638 - stan williams

Who is the man: Stan Williams enjoyed his best season as a relief pitcher -- and possibly as any kind of pitcher -- in 1970. In his 12th season, he set career bests in appearances, earned-run average, winning percentage and a few other newer stats (not known in 1970), like ERA+, WHIP and SO/W.

Can ya dig it: Another photo in Yankee Stadium. I should have counted them all up from the beginning.

Right on: Williams was one year from what I consider his greatest card: his 1972 Topps night card.

You see that cat Williams is a bad mother: Williams was threatening on the mound (he's listed on the back of this card as 6-4 and 225) with a high, blazing fastball. On a Dodger rotation with a roll call of intimidating pitchers, Williams reportedly kept a "list" of batters he wanted to intimidate.

Shut your mouth: Williams had two nicknames. One was "Big Daddy". The other was a nickname that most people associate with a White Sox hitter, the "Big Hurt". Williams was called that because he wasn't afraid to hit batters.

No one understands him but his woman: The game that Williams is most noted for -- the third game of the 1962 playoff series between the Dodgers and the Giants -- contained one of the most second-guessed managerial moves in L.A. history. With the Dodgers ahead by a run with one out but the bases loaded with Giants, the right-handed Orlando Cepeda came to the plate. Walter Alston came to the mound and replaced Ed Roebuck not with lefties Larry Sherry or Ron Perranoski, but with the righty Williams, who was known to be wild. Said Dodgers coach Leo Durocher to catcher John Roseboro, "He'll walk the ballpark." Williams gave up a game-tying sacrifice fly, threw a wild pitch, was ordered to walk batter Ed Bailey to load the bases, then walked Jim Davenport to force in the go-ahead run.

(A word about the back): Williams was an All-Star in 1960, but he didn't play.

Friday, March 10, 2017

no. 637 - dave bristol

Who is the man: Dave Bristol was in his second season as manager of the Brewers when this card appeared in packs. He took over the team when it was still the Seattle Pilots during that limbo period in early 1970 when the team didn't know whether they'd play in Seattle or Milwaukee.

Can ya dig it: This is the highest-numbered card that I received in that trade for my first 1971s when I was a young teen. I remember sorting those cards by number on the floor of my bedroom and placing the Bristol card way to the right of the other cards.

Right on: I do believe Bristol is stowing a chaw.

You see that cat Bristol is a bad mother: Bristol was the youngest manager in baseball when he took over the Cincinnati Reds' job in July of 1966. He was 33.

Shut your mouth: Bristol said he chewed tobacco because he was told a younger manager would look silly chewing bubble gum.

No one understands him but his woman: Bristol's 1977 Braves team lost 16 straight games. Owner Ted Turner put Bristol on a 10-day leave of absence in May and managed the team himself despite no baseball knowledge. After another loss, NL president Chub Feeney intervened and removed Turner, who eventually convinced Bristol to return and manage the rest of the season.

(A word about the back): All of Bristol's winning seasons in the majors came with the Reds, from 1966-69. He was then replaced by Sparky Anderson, and not only did Bristol never register another winning season, but he missed out on the Big Red Machine.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

no. 636 - denny lemaster

Who is the man: After a couple of fairly productive seasons for the lowly Astros, Denny Lemaster fell off in 1970, posting a 4.56 ERA. He wound up in the bullpen and it would be his last season as a starter.

Can ya dig it: Sharp corners, but way off-center and also diamond-cut.

Right on: The signature is very informative. I assumed his full name was Dennis, but it's Denver.

You see that cat Lemaster is a bad mother: Lemaster's most noted game is a matchup against Sandy Koufax on Aug. 9, 1966 while pitching for the Atlanta Braves. Lemaster took a no-hitter into the 8th inning until the Dodgers' Jim Lefebvre hit a home run to tie the game 1-1. But Eddie Mathews made Lemaster a winner by hitting a one-out homer off of Koufax in the bottom of the ninth.

Shut your mouth: The left-handed Lemaster was often considered as the Braves' successor to Warren Spahn and was even referred to as the "Second Spahn" in the press.

No one understands him but his woman: When Lemaster returned home after the victory against Koufax, his wife was in labor. Their fourth child, a daughter, was born the next morning.

 (A word about the back): Lemaster's club record of 37 games started (which he shared with Larry Dierker) was broken by Jerry Reuss, who started 40 games for the Astros in 1973.

Monday, March 6, 2017

no. 635 - bobby murcer

Who is the man: Bobby Murcer produced a second straight hot-and-cold season in 1970 for the Yankees, finishing with 23 home runs and a .251 batting average.

Can ya dig it: That is a pretty regal pose for Bobby Ray Murcer. You could tell New York still expected big things from him from this image.

Right on: Second straight roughed-up card. When the numbers get this high, you take what you can get.

You see that cat Murcer is a bad mother: Murcer is one of 22 major leaguers to hit a home run in four consecutive at-bats. He did it during the 1970 season.

Shut your mouth: Murcer had a running feud with pitcher Gaylord Perry, publicly complaining that Perry threw a grease ball. It was all in good fun until Murcer complained that Commissioner Bowie Kuhn didn't have the guts to do anything about Perry. Kuhn proceeded to fine Murcer ... and did nothing about Perry.

No one understands him but his woman: Murcer was known in the clubhouse for his rocking chairs. He sat in one at his locker no matter where he played.

(A word about the back): The day Murcer hit his four consecutive home runs, a play at the plate that happened during that same doubleheader wound up on another card in this set.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

no. 634 - phil regan

Who is the man: Phil Regan fell on hard times in 1970, posting numbers not seen since his struggling days with the Tigers in the mid-1960s. He'd rebound a bit in 1971, but it was the beginning of the end.

Can ya dig it: Are those umps in the background? Dignitaries? Henchmen?

Right on: This is another one from the group of the first 1971s that I obtained as a young teenager. It's one of the highest numbers. We're getting very close to the highest-numbered card from that first group.

You see that cat Regan is a bad mother: Regan owned a bad-ass nickname, "The Vulture," given to him by Dodgers teammate Sandy Koufax in jest.

Shut your mouth: Regan had a reputation for throwing a "grease ball," and in 1968, umpire Chris Pelekoudas hassled Regan during a three-inning relief appearance, constantly calling for the ball from Regan so the ump could examine it. Regan was found with nothing although the umpire repeatedly cited Regan for illegal pitches. Cubs manager Leo Durocher and two other players were thrown out of the game over the incident and the Cubs demanded a hearing. Regan was absolved of any wrongdoing by NL president Warren Giles.

No one understands him but his woman: Regan recorded 13 consecutive wins between 1966 and 1967 for the Dodgers. That remains a Dodgers record.

(A word about the back): Regan's 12 saves would be the last time he reached double digits. He led the NL in saves twice with 21 in 1966 and 25 in 1968.