Friday, April 28, 2017

no. 653 - russ snyder

Who is the man: Russ Snyder played his final major league season in 1970, joining his fourth major league team for one year with the Brewers.

Can ya dig it: Snyder's follow through on his swing is similar to the pose on his 1967 card.

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

You see that cat Snyder is a bad mother: Snyder played for the World Series champion Orioles in 1966 and led the American League in hitting at the All-Star break that year with a .347 average. He finished the season at .306.

Shut your mouth: Orioles manager Hank Bauer said of Snyder: "Nobody notices him until he beats their brains out."

No one understands him but his woman: Snyder was an exceptional fielder but is all but forgotten. His diving catch ended the game that clinched the 1966 pennant for Baltimore.

 (A word about the back): The "two pinch-singles in one inning" is interesting. That is something that can no longer happen, only because official baseball records now credit a batter for only one pinch-hit appearance. If that player comes up again the same inning, he is considered batting for himself and is no longer a pinch-hitter.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

no. 652 - braves

Who is the man: The Braves, just like their 1969 NL championship series foe, the Mets, endured a disappointing season in 1970, although the Braves' was much worse. They finished 76-86, a full 17 games behind their record in 1969.

Can ya dig it: I'm not sure what I'm looking at behind the team, but I'm assuming its the roof to the grandstand at the minor league park.

Right on: I still say these uniforms are the sharpest the Braves ever wore.

You see that cat Harris is a bad mother: The photo reproduction is a little hazy so I'm not sure who exactly is manager Lum Harris. Either the sixth or seventh guy from the right (Update.: I just found the same image with IDs on ebay. Harris is the seventh guy from the right.

Shut your mouth: Thanks to the handy ebay photo I can tell you that Hank Aaron is the second guy from the right in the middle row and he's standing next to Dusty Baker. Phil Niekro is the third guy from the right in the back row. Ralph Garr is the third guy from the left in the middle row and Hoyt Wilhelm is two guys to the right of Garr.

No one understands him but his woman:  I was informed in this post that the diminutive man seated on the far left in the first row is Donald Davidson, the team's 4-foot-tall traveling secretary and apparently an organization legend.

(A word about the back): These numbers show how the Braves were a bad team for a long time. Aaron, Mathews and Spahn did their best to revive the team in the 1950s.

Monday, April 24, 2017

no. 651 - jerry robertson

Who is the man: Jerry Robertson had already played his final major league game when this card appeared in packs. He was traded from the Tigers to the Mets in March of 1971 and spent the year pitching for Triple A Tidewater. So he never played an actual game for the Mets.

Can ya dig it: This is one of the more prominent airbrushed caps in the 1971 Topps set. For starters, it's color-coded. And it's very close up. We'll see more of this look as the set moves along.

Right on: I wonder if the guy behind Robertson can tell us what team Robertson is really playing for here? I suspect it's the Tigers, Robertson's 1970 team. The guy in the background looks like a Tiger.

You see that cat Robertson is a bad mother: Robertson pitched in the first Montreal Expos game, throwing 1 1/3 innings of relief in the Expos' 11-10 win over the Mets on April 8, 1969. Robertson would finish the season with the best earned-run average (3.96) of any regular Expos starting pitcher.

Shut your mouth: The Topeka Golden Giants, a summer collegiate league baseball team in Kansas in 2010, renamed their field after Robertson during a ceremony on June 2 of that year. Robertson, a native Kansan, died in a car accident in 1996.

No one understands him but his woman: After the season in the minors in 1971, Robertson left baseball to become the assistant executive director of the Topeka YMCA and then became the executive director. He later was the athletic director at Washburn University, his alma mater.

(A word about the back): The "Life" line displays Robertson's final career major league statistics.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

no. 650 - rich allen

Who is the man: This is "Rich" Allen's first and only Topps flagship card picturing him with the Dodgers. He does appear on a few oddball issues from the time in a Dodger uniform (such as 1970 Topps Super and 1971 Dell Stamps).

Can ya dig it: One of the finest Los Angeles Dodger cards for my money. There is a nice view of Dodger Stadium in the background as Allen poses on the on-deck circle (or as if he's on the on-deck circle). What appears to be the knee of the photographer is at lower left.

Right on: This is the second of three Topps card in which Allen is referred to as "Rich," which is what his signature read at the time. Despite that, Topps called him "Richie" from 1964-69. He became "Dick Allen" on Topps cards in the 1973 set. (Allen complained about being called "Richie" as early as his rookie year).

You see that cat Allen is a bad mother: Allen won the 1964 National League Rookie of the Year Award with the Phillies and the 1972 American League MVP award in his first year with the White Sox.

Shut your mouth: Allen was involved in an ugly incident with teammate Frank Thomas in 1965 that started the friction with Philadelphia fans that lasted until he was traded four years later. Allen objected to a remark that Thomas made during batting practice and words led to Allen punching Thomas and Thomas hitting Allen with a bat. Thomas was waived after the game, angering Phillies fans, who blamed Allen for the incident. Five days after the blow-up, Allen hit his first career grand slam, a blast off of a 75-foot high scoreboard at Connie Mack Stadium. The same fans who booed him during the game gave him a standing ovation.

No one understands him but his woman: In September of 1974, a year in which Allen led the AL in home runs, he announced his retirement to his teammates. But Allen never filed the proper paperwork. The White Sox traded him to Atlanta in December, but Allen refused to play there and was traded from the Braves back to the Phillies.

(A word about the back): I'm thinking that's an earlier photo of Allen. He's not wearing the mustache he displays on the front of the card.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

no. 649 - sparky lyle

Who is the man: Sparky Lyle enjoyed another season as one of the best left-handed relief pitchers in the game in 1970, although he managed to lose seven of the eight games in which he received a decision.

Can ya dig it: Every card of Lyle with short hair and no bushy mustache is bizarre. It's like I'm looking at a completely different person.

Right on: I wonder if he's standing in front of the Green Monster?

You see that cat Lyle is a bad mother: Lyle was the first reliever to win the American League Cy Young Award, receiving the honor while with the Yankees in 1977.

Shut your mouth: Lyle's book, "The Bronx Zoo," which he wrote with Peter Golenbock, is the first sports tell-all book that I ever knew or read. It was an eye-opener as I was 13 at the time.

No one understands him but his woman: Lyle was a big defender of manager Billy Martin. Facing Martin's critics in The Bronx Zoo, Lyle said, "This team could have never become what it did without Billy Martin."

(A word about the back): Lyle was signed by scout George Staller after that 17-inning game. Lyle didn't even pitch all 17 innings in the game. For three innings, he played first base.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

no. 648 - mets rookie stars

Who is the man: Of the three players here, Jon Matlack was the only one who had not reached the majors by 1971. Both Rich Folkers and Ted Martinez played briefly with the Mets in 1970, spending the rest of the season in Triple A Tidewater. Matlack pitched the entire 1970 season at Tidewater.

Can ya dig it: Three Mets caps. I like it. No airbrushing. No hatless dudes. It's a rarity with the rookies stars cards in this set.

Right on: This is the fourth three-player team rookie card, which started relatively late in the set (No. 576). I'm interested to see which teams get one of these and which don't. So far the Cubs, Cardinals, Indians and Mets have one.

You these rookies are bad mothers: Nope. Talk to me in 1981 when Matlack has been in the league for a decade.

Shut your mouth: Matlack gave up Roberto Clemente's 3,000th hit and he wasn't too happy about it. He had no idea Clemente was nearing the record and he was more upset that he gave up the double. As they stopped the game to present Clemente the ball, Matlack fumed on the mound. "I was just an oblivious rookie," he admitted later.

No one understands him but his woman: Martinez, a native of the Dominican Republic, had difficulty overcoming the language barrier according to several reports. In Tug McGraw's book "Screwball," he recounted a time during Martinez's rookie year when McGraw motioned to Martinez, playing shortstop, that he was going to attempt to pick off the runner at second. Confused, Martinez cried out "no comprendo!" causing manager Gil Hodges to storm out of the dugout and yell at McGraw.

(A word about the back): Folkers' stats list just five games in the minors in 1970, and he appeared in just 16 games for the Mets. Folkers missed all of the 1969 because he was serving in the military. I'm wondering if he missed part of 1970 for the same reason.

Friday, April 7, 2017

no. 647 - juan pizarro

Who is the man: Juan Pizarro spent the 1970 season in the minor leagues for the A's and Angels until he was dealt to the Cubs in July. He then pitched 12 games in relief for Chicago.

Can ya dig it: That's a pretty great photo of the veteran pitcher.

Right on: Pizarro looks really sweaty.

You see that cat Pizarro is a bad mother: Pizarro was a strikeout artist during his starting days with the White Sox in the early 1960s. He led the American League in strikeouts per nine innings in 1961 and 1962.

Shut your mouth: Pizarro's nickname was "Terin," which came out of childhood when kids in the neighborhood compared him to the main character in the action-adventure comic strip, "Terry and the Pirates".

No one understands him but his woman: Pizarro was branded as moody and a troublemaker by people who didn't understand the native Puerto Rican. But Hank Aaron mentioned in his book "I Had A Hammer" that he thought that the Milwaukee Braves would have won more titles if they hadn't traded Pizarro to the White Sox. "We needed young pitchers to take over for Spahn, Burdette and Buhl and we never came up with them."

(A word about the back): 318 strikeouts in one minor league season. Can you imagine?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

no. 646 - bobby floyd

Who is the man: This is Bobby Floyd's first card as a Kansas City Royal. The Orioles traded him to Kansas City to reaquire reliever Moe Drabowsky in mid-June of 1970.

Can ya dig it: This photo is almost dizzying. It's so tightly cropped and shot from an angle. Plus the card is diamond cut, which isn't helping matters.

Right on: "Infield" is correct. Floyd played regularly at second, short and third.

You see that cat Floyd is a bad mother: Floyd went 14-for-43 (.326) in his first at-bats for the Royals when he was called up to the majors in September 1970.

Shut your mouth: When Floyd was coaching for the Mets in 2004, his home in Port St. Lucie, Fla., was destroyed by Hurricane Frances.

No one understands him but his woman: Floyd fielded the ground ball that led to the final out of Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer's no-hitter on Aug. 13, 1969. Oakland's Larry Haney grounded to Floyd at shortstop, who flipped to second baseman Don Buford, who forced out the A's Tommie Reynolds for the final out. Reynolds had walked (Palmer walked three batters in the 9th to load the bases before Haney's groundout).

(A word about the back): Those are some paltry stats for 1970. Topps was really going for the all-inclusive set in the early '70s.

Monday, April 3, 2017

no. 645 - jim maloney

Who is the man: Jim Maloney suffered an injury early in the 1970 season that would ultimately lead to the end of his career. He tore the Achilles tendon in his left leg while running out a ground ball during his second start of the season for the Reds, and he didn't return to the field until September.

Can ya dig it: Maloney was traded to the Angels in December 1970, but he's still wearing the Reds pinstripes in this photo.

Right on: It took me a long time to realize that the player on this card was the same Jim Maloney who starred for the Reds during the 1960s. He looks so different here from those '60s cards where he's in full Reds uniform with his arm outstretched.

You see that cat Maloney is a bad mother: Maloney averaged 18 victories and 235 strikeouts over a four-year period for the Reds between 1963-66.

Shut your mouth: There was friction between Maloney and the Reds, in part because Maloney didn't hesitate to hold out for a better contract. "You know what makes this game really tough?" he said once. "There's no security and no friendships. Hell, if my arm goes tomorrow, you think I'll still be with the Cincinnati Reds?"

No one understands him but his woman: Maloney appears in the 1972 Topps set as a St. Louis Cardinal as the Cardinals signed him January of 1972. But they released him three months later and he never pitched for St. Louis.

(A word about the back): Maloney is credited with just two no-hitters now. He no-hit the Mets for 10-plus innings but lost the game in the 11th. He was credited for a no-hitter in that game until MLB changed the rules in 1991 and scrapped it from the list.