Thursday, August 31, 2017

no. 697 - rickey clark

Who is the man: Rickey Clark spent the whole 1970 season in the minor leagues. After making a breakthrough in 1967 in which he pitched in 32 games, Clark had barely played in the majors since 1968.

Can ya dig it: Clark is called "Rickey" here but he signed his name "Rick". Clark's full name is actually Rickey Charles Clark, but Topps would finally agree to "Rick" in the 1973 set.

Right on: This photo is a cropped version from the same photo shoot as Clark's 1970 Topps card. Probably just a frame or two off.

You see that cat Clark is a bad mother: Clark finished sixth in the American League in ERA his rookie season, posting a 2.59 in 1967.

Shut your mouth: Despite Clark being a regular in the Angels' rotation in 1967 and 1968, he did not appear in a Topps set until 1970.

No one understands him but his woman: Clark's 1970 card back reads that he pitched 7 no-hitters and 3 one-hitters in a single season as a 13-year-old in "amateur ball". I'm assuming that's Babe Ruth League baseball or something similar.

(A word about the back): This photo is either exactly the same as the photo on the front or a click off. It's as close as we've come anyway to having the front photo and back photo match up.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

no. 696 - jerry morales

Who is the man: Jerry Morales spent the majority of the 1970 season playing for Triple A Salt Lake City. He played just 28 games for the Padres.

Can ya dig it: This is Morales' first solo card after appearing on a two-player rookie card in 1970.

Right on: I know Morales as a mustachioed Chicago Cub. This does not compute.

You see that cat Morales is a bad mother: Morales was the Cubs' All-Star representative in the 1977 All-Star Game. He got hit in the knee by a pitch from Sparky Lyle for his effort.

Shut your mouth: Morales is most known in card collecting for his 1974 Topps card, in which he's shown wearing the bright gold uniform of the Padres but listed boldly in pink as playing for the Cubs.

No one understands him but his woman: Morales would regularly make basket catches in center field. The only exceptions were when diving or making a catch on the run.

(A word about the back): Gee whiz, bio writer, we can see the stats, what happened after that fine spring?

Friday, August 25, 2017

no. 695 - joe niekro

Who is the man: Joe Niekro was coming off his best season with the Tigers when this card was issued. In his first season in Detroit, he won 12 games in 38 appearances. But he was entering the lowest point of his career, which would last until the Astros acquired him in the mid-'70s.

Can ya dig it: I like to pretend the air bubbles are sparkles in the sky. It's better than running right out and buying another high-numbered Niekro card.

Right on: I've mentioned this before, but it's very weird seeing Niekro as anything but an Astro.

You see that cat Niekro is a bad mother: Niekro pitched back-to-back 20-win seasons in 1979 and 1980.

Shut your mouth: After Niekro was famously ejected from a game in 1987 after umpires caught him discarding an emery board from his pockets, he went on David Letterman's show to discuss the incident. Equipped with a tool belt and carrying a sander, he insisted he didn't scuff baseballs. "You're telling me you don't doctor baseballs," Letterman quizzed. "Do I look like a doctor to you?" Niekro said.

No one understands him but his woman: Niekro was purchased by the Astros from the Braves in 1975 for a mere $35,000, that's how washed up he seemed. He proceeded to win 135 games over the next 10 years.

(A word about the back): Well, this is a particularly timely (and painful) write-up. Niekro lost his no-hitter after 8 1/3 innings when the Yankees' Horace Clarke singled.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

no. 694 - rick renick

Who is the man: Rick Renick appeared in a career-high 81 games for the Twins in 1970 and set career highs in several categories.

Can ya dig it: Renick is displaying the yellow-bordered "Minnie and Paul" logo that the Twins have worn on their sleeves from the start.

Right on: I dig the distant American flag.

You see that cat Renick is a bad mother: Renick hit a home run off of the Tigers' Mickey Lolich in his first major league at-bat in 1968.

Shut your mouth: Renick managed in the minor leagues during the 1990s, most notably with the White Sox. One of his pitchers was Jason Bere, a brief sensation for the White Sox around 1993. Bere was cruising during one minor league start when Renick came out to remove him from the game. "Did you think you could have gone another inning," Renick asked Bere. "Yes," Bere said. "Do you think you can go another inning Thursday in Kansas City?" Renick replied. Bere looked at him. "Congratulations. You're in the major leagues," Renick said.

No one understands him but his woman: When Tom Kelly was named the Twins' manager before the 1987 season, Renick replaced Kelly as the Minnesota third base coach.

(A word about the back): You can tell by the 179 at-bats in 81 games that Renick pinch-hit a lot. His pinch-grand slam in that June 30th game turned a 5-2 Royals lead in the sixth inning into a 6-5 Twins lead (the Royals actually led 5-1 when the inning started but Harmon Killebrew led off with a solo homer).

Monday, August 21, 2017

no. 693 - jose pena

Who is the man: Jose Pena appeared in 29 games in relief in his first season with the Dodgers in 1970. He was picked up from the Reds in the Rule V draft.

Can ya dig it: I should have scanned the Pena card that's in my Dodgers collection. This one is miscut two different ways.

Right on: I like the batting cage in the distance.

You see that cat Pena is a bad mother: After his major league career ended in the early 1970s, Pena pitched the rest of the decade in Mexico. He won more than 200 games in Mexico and is among the top pitchers in career victories in the Mexican League.

Shut your mouth: Pena won 35 games in 1966, 19 in the Mexican League and 16 in winter ball.

No one understands him but his woman: If you can believe wikipedia, Pena was married for a time to Barbara Enright, who was the first woman to be inducted into the World Series Poker Hall of Fame. (She was the first woman to make the WSOP's final table in 1995). Enright, who grew up in southern California and was a hairdresser for celebrities in the early 1970s, was definitely married to a Dodgers pitcher then, but only wiki names the pitcher as Pena.

(My observation on the back): The write-up causes me to wonder what he did in his last 17 outings in 1970 to come up with that 4.42 ERA.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

no. 692 - rookie stars a.l. pitchers

Who is the man: Each of these pitchers made their major league debut in 1970. Hal Hayden appeared in four games in relief with the Twins; Rogelio Moret pitched in three games, one start, for the Red Sox; and Wayne Twitchell two games in relief for the Brewers.

Can ya dig it: I'm curious about the airbrushed cap that Twitchell is wearing. Could it be a Seattle Pilots hat? He was traded to Seattle in early 1969 but played in the minors.

Right on: This is yet another variation on the rookie stars cards in this set. Let's review what we have so far:

Team-oriented, two-player
Team-oriented, three-player
National League-three-player
American League, three-player
Pitchers, three-player
American League pitchers, three-player

You see these rookies are bad mothers: Even though two of them appeared in the glorious 1975 Topps set, no, they are not bad-ass.

Shut your mouth: Twitchell was already a member of the Phillies when this card appeared in packs. He was traded to the team for which he'd spend most of his career in April of 1971.

No one understands him but his woman: Haydel never appeared on his own Topps card. He showed up again in the 1972 set as one of three Twins rookie stars.

(A word about the back): The pitchers' heights get taller as you progress down the card.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

no. 691 - bob heise

Who is the man: Bob Heise appeared in 67 games in 1970, his first year in the majors when he wasn't a September call-up. But by the time this card was issued, he had already been dealt to the Brewers in June 1971.

Can ya dig it: This is the last time that Heise is referred to as "Bob" on his cards. After this, he's "Bobby."

Right on: One of those people who dots his eyes with a circle. I notice that on his 1975 Topps card he doesn't do that.

You see that cat Heise is a bad mother: Heise played for the AL champion Boston Red Sox in 1975, although he didn't get into the postseason. During a doubleheader against the Indians in July of that year, he went 4-for-7 with five runs batted in.

Shut your mouth: Heise hit the only home run of his career off of the Padres' Danny Coombs while playing for the Giants. He received a phonograph record of the home run call.

No one understands him but his woman: Heise played for four pennant-winning teams -- the 1969 Mets, 1971 Giants, 1975 Red Sox and 1977 Royals but never made the postseason.

 (A word about the back): Heise's position is listed as "infield" and in 1970 he did play second, shortstop and two games at third.

Friday, August 11, 2017

no. 690 - bob moose

Who is the man: Bob Moose became a full-fledged member of the Pirates' starting rotation in 1970. In and out of the bullpen prior to this, Moose made starts in 27 of his 28 appearances.

Can ya dig it: One of my best-conditioned high-numbered cards in this set. Just beautiful.

Right on: How tremendous is it to have your own built-in nickname? Nobody had to deem Bob Moose "Moose" like with Mussina or Moustakas. His name was already Moose!

You see that cat Moose is a bad mother: Moose no-hit the soon-to-be Miracle Mets in late September of 1969.

Shut your mouth: Moose died on his 29th birthday. He was driving to a golf course owned by teammate Bill Mazeroski where they were going to celebrate his birthday. But Moose crashed into another car on a winding road. I didn't know until researching this that there were two women in Moose's car when he crashed. He had given them a ride after their car broke down. They were unhurt.

No one understands him but his woman: Moose's most memorable on-field moment is probably the wild pitch he threw that allowed the Reds to score the winning run and clinch the 1972 NLCS.

(My observation on the back): Gee whiz, bio writer, Moose actually did throw a no-hitter another time. Maybe mention that?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

no. 689 - frank baker

Who is the man: Frank Baker didn't receive a single major league at-bat in 1970. After debuting in 1969 and playing in 52 games, he played all of 1970 with Triple A Wichita.

Can ya dig it: Shucks, if the photo was zoomed out a bit we could get a better look at what I'm sure is a great old-school Pepsi ad.

Right on: Baker looks just a bit wary.

You see that cat Baker is a bad mother: Baker is a member of Franklin High School (Somerset, N.J.)'s football Hall of Fame.

Shut your mouth: Baker missed all of the 1967 and 1968 seasons to serve in the Vietnam War.

No one understands him but his woman: This is the second Frank Baker featured in the set. The first one, a shortstop, was featured back on card No. 213.

(My observation on the back): Baker looks wary on the back of his card, too. Probably trying to figure out why someone with zero 1970 stats is getting a card.

Monday, August 7, 2017

no. 688 - sparky anderson

Who is the man: Sparky Anderson was the toast of the town after the 1970 season, leading the Reds to the World Series in his first season as manager. But when this card was issued, Cincinnati was struggling and wound up finishing fourth in the NL West in 1971.

Can ya dig it: Anderson looked managerly right from the start.

Right on: I've known most of my life that Anderson's given first name was George, but it still looks odd written out.

You see that cat Anderson is a bad mother: The first manager to win the World Series in both leagues. That's all I gotta say.

Shut your mouth: Anderson liked to talk and reporters liked him because he liked to talk. I remember being taken aback, reading my Bill James Baseball Abstract in either 1983 or 1984 and James criticizing Anderson (probably over using Enos Cabell). It was the first time I read an unkind sports word about Anderson! Anderson's response to James was that James was "a little fat guy with a beard ... who knows nothing about nothing."

No one understands him but his woman: Anderson met his wife, Carol, in the fifth grade. They were married for 57 years.

(A word about the back): That is an impressive line for your first year managing. I'd say he's a fine leader.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

no. 687 - ron taylor

Who is the man: Ron Taylor was in the middle of his fifth and final season with the New York Mets when this card was issued. He appeared in 57 games in 1970, saving 13.

Can ya dig it: Taylor was one of the older members of the '69 Miracle Mets and it looks that way in the photo. Even though he had to be just 32 when this picture was taken, he seems older.

Right on: Awesome signature, especially for someone who would later become a doctor.

You see that cat Taylor is a bad mother: Taylor played an important part in two World Series games that proved key for his team, the eventual champion. In 1964, Taylor threw four no-hit innings of relief against the Yankees to give St. Louis the Game 4 victory and tie the series 2-2. In 1969, Taylor saved Game 2 of the Series, allowing the Mets to tie the series 1-1 with the Orioles.

Shut your mouth: Taylor retired from the majors in 1972 and entered medical school, inspired by overseas USO trips he took with fellow ballplayers that included visiting recovering soldiers in U.S. hospitals in Vietnam. He attended the University of Toronto but only after being interviewed by the dean of student affairs who looked over his resume and noted Taylor had graduated with a degree in 1961. "What have you been doing the past 11 years?" he asked. Taylor said: "Playing major league baseball." The dean responded by saying, "What's that?"

No one understands him but his woman: Taylor is the only person to have won four World Series rings, two as a player and two as a team doctor. He was the Blue Jays' team doctor when they won the World Series in 1992 and 1993.

(A word about the back): Taylor is not the first Canadian to play for the Mets but he was one of the first. He was raised in Toronto.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

no. 686 - chico ruiz

Who is the man: Chico Ruiz was in the middle of his most tumultuous (and final) season when this card was issued. In 1970, he appeared in 68 games in his first season with the Angels.

Can ya dig it: As a utility infielder in the '70s, you damn well better believe he would be bunting.

Right on: Ruiz's actual first name is "Giraldo," but you can see it is spelled with an "H" in the signature. That is because when Ruiz left his native Cuba to go to the U.S. (he was one of the last players to leave Cuba before the U.S.-Cuban embargo), immigration officials were confused by the "H" sound of Ruiz's first name and wrote it with an "H" (different times then, man). And it stuck.

You see that cat Ruiz is a bad mother: Ruiz's most infamous moment came when he was accused of waving a gun at teammate and former friend Alex Johnson in the Angels' clubhouse during the season in 1971. Johnson, who had problems of his own, accused Ruiz of trying to kill him. The Angels and Ruiz tried to deny Ruiz even had a gun, but they later admitted that was false. Ruiz was later demoted then released after the season.

Shut your mouth: Phillies fans have attributed their team's famous 1964 collapse to Ruiz's steal of home during a game between Philadelphia and Cincinnati in late September. Ruiz's shocking steal -- he made the decision on his own, with Frank Robinson at bat, and likely would have been out had Phillies pitcher Art Mahaffey not uncorked a wild throw -- won the game and touched off 10 straight losses by Philadelphia. The Phillies' collapse is often called "The Curse of Chico Ruiz".

No one understands him but his woman: Ruiz is on that unfortunate short list of major leaguers who died before the end of their careers. Ruiz was killed in a one-car highway accident in California on Feb. 9, 1972 after signing to play with the Royals that season.

(A word about the back): The Angels' first triple play came in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Royals with Kansas City leading 2-1. After the first two K.C. batters in the inning singled, Angels reliever Steve Kealey replaced starter Rudy May. Amos Otis came to the plate and hit a ground ball to Ruiz at third. Ruiz tagged third, threw to second baseman Sandy Alomar for out No. 2, and Alomar threw to first to Billy Cowan to retire Otis for the triple play.