Friday, July 28, 2017

no. 685 - moe drabowsky

Who is the man: Moe Drabowsky pitched for the World Series champion Orioles in 1970, contributing four victories in relief during the postseason. But he was dealt to St. Louis in November 1970 and is airbrushed into a Cardinals cap.

Can ya dig it: You can see Drabowsky's curls, which he wore during the late '60s and early '70s, peaking out from under the cap.

Right on: He appears to be admiring his new team name.

You see that cat Drabowsky is a bad mother: Drabowsky still holds the World Series mark for strikeouts in a game by a reliever. He struck out 11 in 6.2 innings after coming into Game 1 in the third inning for the Orioles against the Dodgers.

Shut your mouth: Drabowsky, one of the most famous baseball pranksters in history, was known to impersonate managers and others, including A's owner Charlie Finley. While holding out for more money in 1964, he called fellow teammates who were also holding out and pretended to be Finley. His teammates would reveal to the fake Finley what they were making by saying things like, "but Mr. Finley, $16,000 isn't enough!"

No one understands him but his woman: Drabowsky was married twice. His first wife, Elizabeth, was a flight attendant when they met in the late 1950s. Elizabeth was a baseball fan and admitted to having a crush on Gil Hodges since she was a kid.

(A word about the back): I enjoy a good Hod Eller reference on the back of a baseball card.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

no. 684 - curt motton

Who is the man: Curt Motton was in the middle of his final season with the Orioles when this card was issued. He'd be traded to the Brewers in December 1971.

Can ya dig it: The rare batting glove sighting!

Right on: Motton's final Topps card is in the 1972 set in which he's terribly airbrushed into a Brewers cap. I kind of feel bad for players whose last card isn't the best presentation.

You see that cat Motton is a bad mother: Motton capped his most effective season in 1969 by knocking in the winning run with a pinch-hit single in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the ALCS against the Twins. The Orioles won 1-0 and swept the series, 3-0.

Shut your mouth: Elrod Hendricks, roommates with Motton, considered Motton the worst driver he'd ever seen. He recalled a time when pitcher Luis Tiant was a passenger in a car Motton was driving. According to a Baltimore Sun story, Tiant said to Motton, "Please Mr. Motton, watch the road. Please Mr. Motton, you're going to get me keeled."

No one understands him but his woman: Motton tied an MLB mark by hitting home runs in consecutive pinch-hit appearances on May 15 and 17 in 1968. Both were three-run homers.

(A word about the back): The game on Aug. 2, 1970 was a wild one. The Orioles led 5-0 and 8-2 then held off Royals rallies to win 10-8.

Friday, July 21, 2017

no. 683 - bill burbach

Who is the man: Bill Burbach pitched in just four major league games in 1970. He spent the majority of the year in Triple A Syracuse.

Can ya dig it: This is Burbach's final Topps card (he has just three and one is a three-player rookie stars card).

Right on: Burbach had already been dealt to the Orioles when this card appeared in packs.

You see this cat Burbach is a bad mother: Burbach was the Yankees' No. 1 draft choice in 1965, the franchise's first amateur draft pick ever.

Shut your mouth: I admit I had no idea who Burbach was when I first scanned this card. It was a surprise to even see the card in the set.

No one understands him but his woman: Burbach is the first pitcher to wear the No. 50 for the Yankees. Ralph Houk was the first player to wear the number, back in 1947.

(A word about the back): Burbach's shutout of the Tigers in 1969 came in the Yankees' 11th game of the season, the second game of a doubleheader on April 20th. He pitched a five-hitter and didn't surrender a hit until the fourth inning when Al Kaline hit a two-out single.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

no. 682 - terry harmon

Who is the man: Terry Harmon appeared in 71 games for the Phillies in 1970 but received just 129 at-bats. He was establishing the role of utility infielder that would be his trademark for Philadelphia throughout the '70s.

Can ya dig it: Harmon, no surprise, is featured in several fielding poses on his cards. This one would be somewhat repeated in the 1975 Topps set.

Right on: I wonder who's ball and glove is behind him?

You see that cat Harmon is a bad mother: Harmon set a major league record on June 12, 1971 by fielding 18 chances without an error. Jim Bunning started for the Phillies in the game against the Padres. Even though the Padres outhit the Phillies 9-4, they lost the game 3-0.

Shut your mouth: Harmon worked in cable television after his career, mostly with home shopping networks, including a station that sold jewelry for 24 hours. Harmon didn't do any on-air hawking (at least none I can find). He was behind the scenes trying to get cable operators to air the station.

No one understands him but his woman: Harmon and his wife, Kay, visited the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time in 2013. After that visit, Harmon donated the glove he used for his record game to the Hall.

(A word about the back): That could be the earliest reference to "game-winning RBI," the stat that later became enough of a craze in the 1980s that it was included on the back of every hitter's baseball card.

Monday, July 17, 2017

no. 681 - bill butler

Who is the man: Bill Butler was in his third year with the Royals when this card was issued. He was an original K.C. Royal and had been a member of the starting rotation in 1969 and 1970.

Can ya dig it: This is the first card in which Butler is wearing a non-airbrushed cap. He's airbrushed in a 3-player rookie card in the '69 Topps set and also airbrushed in the 1970 Topps set.

Right on: William F. Butler. That doesn't sound like a pitcher. More like a lawyer.

You see that cat Butler is a bad mother: Butler led the expansion Royals in strikeouts in 1969 with 156.

Shut your mouth: This is the final card of Butler until the 1975 Topps set. He bounced between the majors and minors from 1971-74.

No one understands him but his woman: This is the first of two Bill Butlers to player for the Royals. K.C. designated hitter Billy Butler is more well-known to younger fans and those who like big breakfasts.

 (A word about the back): Butler went 2-1 for the month of April in 1970. He appeared in five games and posted a 4.44 ERA in 26 1/3 innings. The Royals went 7-12 that month.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

no. 680 - don mincher

Who is the man: Don Mincher hit a career-high 27 home runs in his first season for Oakland in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Another one of those posed home run swings aimed in the wrong direction.

Right on: Mincher had been traded to the Senators by the time this card appeared in packs. The trade happened in early May of 1971.

You see that cat Mincher is a bad mother: Mincher returned to the A's in 1972 and retired with a World Series title at the end of the year. He went 1-for-1 in that World Series.

Shut your mouth: Mincher was one of five Minnesota Twins to hit a home run in the seventh inning of a game in 1966, setting a major league record. Rich Rollins, Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles and Harmon Killebrew also hit homers in the inning against Mincher's future team, the A's.

No one understands him but his woman: Mincher is the only Seattle Pilot to be named an All-Star.

(A word about the back): Mincher's home run in the 1965 World Series came off of Don Drysdale.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

no. 679 - don o'riley

Who is the man: Don O'Riley pitched in nine games for the Kansas City Royals in 1970, spending more of the season in the minors with Omaha. He was traded to the White Sox, along with infielder Pat Kelly, in October 1970 for Gail Hopkins and John Matias.

Can ya dig it: That airbrushed, very bright, sky blue cap is a sight and not a color the White Sox ever wore. It's interesting that the bill remains Kansas City Royal blue. It's also interesting that there's already been a look at the White Sox's new red caps in this set with the earlier Chuck Tanner card.

Right on: This is O'Riley's only solo card. He appears on a three-player rookie stars card with the Royals in the 1970 Topps set.

You see that cat O'Riley is a bad mother: O'Riley pitched for the Royals during their very first season in 1969. He came out of the bullpen for 18 games and recorded one save.

Shut your mouth: O'Riley was killed in a convenience store robbery in May of 1997 at age 52. Working as the store's manager, O'Riley pulled a gun and shot the robber, who shot back and hit O'Riley in the head, killing him. The killer was sentence to life in prison in 1999.

No one understands him but his woman: O'Riley never played for the White Sox. For whatever reason, he didn't play any pro ball in 1971 and then pitched in the Braves minor league system in 1972 and 1973.

(A word about the back): That write-up is a rarity in the '71 set in that it focuses on a single thought and doesn't skip around to various facts.

Friday, July 7, 2017

no. 678 - george thomas

Who is the man: George Thomas was in his final season in the majors when this card was issued. He was signed as a free agent by the Twins in June of 1971.

Can ya dig it: This card is in great shape for a high number, probably one of the finest I own.

Right on: Final card.

You see that cat Thomas is a bad mother: Thomas was a valuable bench player for the Red Sox during their Impossible Dream season in 1967. He played every position except pitcher during his career.

Shut your mouth: Like the best bench players, Thomas possessed a great Uecker-esque sense of humor. When an injury to a starter put Thomas in the lineup for four straight games, he joked to his manager, "I can't play all these games. Bench me or trade me!" Another time, during spring training, he spotted Johnny Bench and told him, "Oh, I see we both play the same position, only you have it written on (the back of) your uniform."

No one understands him but his woman: Thomas' daughter, Kristin, was shown on television while in the stands during the 2004 World Series, displaying a sign that said "Impossible Dream" and "George Thomas Fan Club".

(A word about the back): Thomas indeed was made a coach during the 1970 season after he was sidelined with a broken wrist, but was also eligible to play after his injury healed.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

no. 677 - jack di lauro

Who is the man: Jack DiLauro appeared in 42 games during his first year with Astros in 1970. Houston picked him up from the Mets in the Rule 5 draft during the offseason.

Can ya dig it: Kind of cool that DiLauro is shown at Shea Stadium, the pitcher's former home.

Right on: This is DiLauro's final Topps card. He has just two.

You see that cat DiLauro is a bad mother: DiLauro played on the 1969 Miracle Mets team, appearing in 23 games with a 2.40 ERA. He wasn't used during the postseason, however.

Shut your mouth: DiLauro was a veteran of six minor league seasons in the Tigers organization when he arrived with the Mets, but said he didn't get much of a chance with the team despite his status. He said he didn't feel comfortable around Mets manager Gil Hodges, mostly because Hodges never talked to any of the players.

No one understands him but his woman: When the Mets appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show after they upset the Orioles to win the '69 World Series, DiLauro did an impersonation of Sullivan. He is not identified in this video of the Mets collectively singing "You Gotta Have Heart," but as the camera pans out at the end, he appears to be the player on the bottom row dressed in a red shirt (the video is a hoot, by the way).

(A word about the back): The last line in the bio is a gut-punch. DiLauro wouldn't appear in the majors again after being sold to Hawaii.

Monday, July 3, 2017

no. 676 - tommie reynolds

Who is the man: Tommie Reynolds was in the midst of his second season with the Angels when this card was issued. He was purchased by the Angels in May of 1970 and played in 59 games for them that year.

Can ya dig it: Severely off-center card here. I can pick up a better copy for cheap and I should.

Right on: This is Reynolds' final Topps card even though he played in 45 games for the Angels in 1971 and 72 for the Brewers in 1972.

You see that cat Reynolds is a bad mother: Reynolds knocked in four runs while playing for the Kansas City A's against the Detroit Tigers on April 30, 1964. He hit a three-run home run off of the Tigers' Mickey Lolich in the first inning.

Shut your mouth: Reynolds' most famous card is his 1967 Topps card with the Mets in which there is a strange gap between his first and last name. The gap was explained through some research by famed card collector Keith Olbermann several years ago. Part of Reynolds' first name was likely erased because it was in error.

No one understands him but his woman: Reynolds was used as an emergency catcher for the Mets in 1967 during a game against the Dodgers on July 27 and it cost them. The Mets had already used John Sullivan as the starting catcher and then Jerry Grote, who pinch-ran for Sullivan in the seventh. Grote then was ejected from the game and Reynolds took Grote's spot behind the plate in the eighth for his only recorded major league catching appearance. The Dodgers won in the 11th inning when Nate Oliver scored from third on a passed ball by Reynolds.

(A word about the back): Floyd Robinson led the American League in doubles in 1962 with 45 and also drove in over 100 runs that year.