Wednesday, November 29, 2017

no. 729 - dick billings

Who is the man: Dick Billings spent most of the 1970 season with Triple A Denver. His minor league season was such a success that he was called up in September for 11 games.

Can ya dig it: Those red helmets look so cool with the black-border design. I know I've mentioned this before, but it's all I think of when I see these Senators cards.

Right on: Dick signed his card "Rich Billings." I think he should've stayed with Rich.

You see that cat Billings is a bad mother: Billings was the catcher when the Rangers' Jim Bibby threw his no-hitter against the Oakland A's in 1973.

Shut your mouth: Billings was drafted in 1965 and made his major league debut in 1968 but didn't become a catcher until the 1969 season.

No one understands him but his woman: Billings batted clean-up in the Senators' final game in 1971. "That tells you how bad a team we had," Billings once said.

(A word about the back): Lifetime .181 batting average. These are the cards that we couldn't wait to get rid of as kids.

Monday, November 27, 2017

no. 728 - rookie stars n.l. outfielders

Who is the man: Bernie Williams made his first appearance in the majors in 1970, playing in seven games. Keith Lampard had the most time in the majors that year with 53 games. Wayne Redmond was in the minors in 1970.

Can ya dig it: This is a spin-off on the last rookie stars card, which was titled simply "outfielders." These guys didn't fare nearly as well as the players on the previous card.

Right on: Redmond is shown with the Phillies (and an airbrushed cap), but he never played for the Phillies. He was dealt from the Tigers in October of 1970 and then returned to the Tigers in early April, 1971.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: No. Not now, not ever.

Shut your mouth: Two of these three players were through with their major league careers when this card was issued. Only Williams would play in the majors again. That makes this card kind of an anti-prospect card.

No one understands him but his woman: Now that another Bernie Williams went on to a much more famous career, it's not easy to track down info on the earlier Bernie.

(A word about the back): Redmond is from Detroit, but he did play for the Angels' Triple A team in Honolulu in 1970, so maybe that's why Hawaii is listed as his home.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

no. 727 - ray lamb

Who is the man: Ray Lamb pitched 35 games in relief for the Dodgers in 1970, going 6-1. He was traded to the Indians in December 1970.

Can ya dig it: Lamb looks drugged.

Right on: Thanks to the final series, we get to see Lamb in a real, live Indians uniform.

You see that cat Lamb is a bad mother: Lamb's first complete-game victory was a 7-hitter against the Yankees, a 2-1 win for last-place Cleveland in Yankee Stadium on May 14, 1971.

Shut your mouth: A Sports Illustrated archive says Lamb appeared in a movie as an extra during the 1970-71 offseason, but I can find no other mention of it.

No one understands him but his woman: Lamb is the last Dodgers player to wear the No. 42 before the Dodgers retired the number in honor of Jackie Robinson in 1972. Lamb wore the number in 1969.

(A word about the back): That write-up gets you up to date on Mr. Lamb right to the end.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

no. 726 - paul popovich

Who is the man: Paul Popovich was back in Chicago for a full season in 1970 after being dealt from the Cubs to the Dodgers in 1968. He hit a respectable .253 in 78 games.

Can ya dig it: I like this card. Nice tight shot from below. It makes up for some of Popovich's hatless, airbrushed 1960s cards.

Right on: This is the third straight card featuring a player with an alliterative name.

You see that cat Popovich is a bad mother: After Don Drysdale pitched a then-record 58 2/3 scoreless innings, he reportedly credited Popovich's infield play for helping preserve the streak.

Shut your mouth: The cartoon on the back of Popovich's 1970 Topps card says that "in 1968, 50 fans named Popovich came to root for Paul."

No one understands him but his woman: Popovich is a member of the West Virginia University Athletic Hall of Fame. He played on the Mountaineers basketball team, sharing time on court for one year with another Hall of Famer at the college ... Jerry West.

(A word about the back): One at-bat, one hit. OK, it was nice for Popovich, I'm sure, but I can't say I'm impressed about that 1.000.

Friday, November 17, 2017

no. 725 - gary gentry

Who is the man: Gary Gentry endured a bit of a sophomore slump in 1970 with all of his numbers dipping from his rookie year in '69.

Can ya dig it: Two things: It's great to see the windbreaker under the uniform again. It classes up the joint. Also, Gentry signs his name like I do, before I got sloppy.

Right on: I regret to say that I think of Gentry as a mustachioed Atlanta Brave. That's from coming of baseball age during the 1975 season.

You see that cat Gentry is a bad mother: Gentry won Game 3 of the 1969 World Series as a rookie. He hit a two-run double in that game.

Shut your mouth: The Angels sought Gentry in a trade that would send Jim Fregosi to the Mets. But the Mets wouldn't bite. The Mets sent the Angels Nolan Ryan instead.

No one understands him but his woman: Gentry had a temper during his career and let it show during games. A native of Arizona, he once complained "New York is a dirty, dirty town. I can't leave soon enough when the year's out."

(A word about the back): Some weird capitalization in that write-up, especially "in 1969, he Shutout Cards." (Also, it's "shut out" when used as a verb).

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

no. 724 - tom tischinski

Who is the man: Tom Tischinski appeared in 24 games for the Twins in 1970. He came to the plate 56 times, just like he did in 1969.

Can ya dig it: It's rather odd how Tischinski is sitting all the way to the right of the card. It makes me wonder what is to the right side of Tischinski that Topps didn't want in the photo.

Right on: Tischinski appears on just two Topps cards, 1970 and 1971. He is squatting in each one. He is A Catcher.

You see that cat Tischinski is a bad mother: Tischinski played just 82 games in his big league career so facts are few and far between. But I did find a photo of him attempting to upend Tony La Russa at second base when both were in the minor leagues.

Shut your mouth: Tischinski left a bit of an odd reply to an autograph request once.

No one understands him but his woman: Tischinski holds the Twins record for going the longest from the start of his career without recording an extra base hit. He went 90 at-bats over 1969 and 1970 managing nothing but singles.

 (A word about the back): You can see the dismal batting averages. Tischinski never made it to .200 during his major league career.

Monday, November 13, 2017

no. 723 - vicente romo

Who is the man: Vicente Romo pitched for the Red Sox in 1970. He spent most of the time in the bullpen with a spot start or two. But he didn't fair as well in his starting assignments as he did in 1969 and was traded to the White Sox in March 1971.

Can ya dig it: We are in prime "magic hat" territory in the 1971 set. Here is another one. Topps wants you to believe that this is anything major leaguers were wearing in 1970-71.

Right on: Romo is sporting some prime sideburns.

You see that cat Romo is a bad mother: A star of the Mexican League, Romo made a comeback with the Dodgers in 1982, eight years after his last major league appearance. He won his first game since 1974 with a seven-inning shutout against the Expos in July 1982.

Shut your mouth: Romo's nickname is "huevo," which is "egg" in Spanish. It originated when he was a child as others thought his face was egg-shaped.

No one understands him but his woman: Romo disappeared from the team while with the Red Sox. He told his roommate, Jose Santiago, he was going out for dinner. He didn't return until 11 a.m. two days later, saying he became ill after drinking and forgot to alert the team. He was docked only a day's pay.

(A word about the back): "One of the few successful graduates of Mexican League ball" ... that is a questionable statement given that Romo said he and other Mexicans were not given opportunities during that period to succeed in the majors. Players like Fernando Valenzuela and Teddy Higuera opened the door for the current group of Mexican MLBers.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

no. 722 - astros

Who is the man: The Houston Astros in 1970 finished two games worse than they did the previous year yet moved up from fifth to fourth in the standings; the Braves had fallen on hard times, plummeting from first to fifth.

Can ya dig it: Jiminy, what a disaster this thing is. Not only are the high-numbered team cards a bear to find in solid shape, but there are so many weird things going on with the photo. No. 1, they couldn't even get all the guys in the frame! The top row is cropped off! Secondly, the rows are in disarray. There's a guy between rows two and three that seems to have started a row all by himself.

Right on: Digging the old guy on the right with the glasses.

You see that cat Walker is a bad mother: Manager Harry Walker is grinning away in the middle of the first row, fourth seated guy from the right.

Shut your mouth: No numbers on the front and I couldn't find another version of this photo with an ID key so I won't try to guess anyone here. Although I believe Joe Morgan is weirdly peaking out from behind a teammate as the second guy on the left in the second row.

No one understands him but his woman: It still amuses me that there is a clubhouse guy dressed all in white crouching down who is shown prominently on this card, yet players have their heads cut off.

(A word about the back): The yearly standings show zero winning seasons. The Astros' first winning year would be 1972 when they went 84-69.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

no. 721 - john morris

Who is the man: John Morris appeared in what was then a career-high 20 games in 1970 for the Brewers. He would surpass that with 43 appearances for Milwaukee in 1971.

Can ya dig it: This is Morris' first Topps card in which he's in full uniform. In the 1969 set, he's listed with the Pilots, wearing no hat and cropped so that those not paying attention would miss that he's wearing red pinstripes from his Phillies days ... in 1966!

Right on: Morris is 28 or 29 in this photo. He looks 42.

You see that cat Morris is a bad mother: Morris was the player to be named in a trade that helped the Phillies land Orioles relief specialist Dick Hall in 1967.

Shut your mouth: Despite appearing in 43 games in 1971, Morris does not have a card in the 1972 Topps set.

No one understands him but his woman: Morris is the most notable baseball player from Lewes, Delaware, a resort community on the Atlantic coast.

(A word about the back): Those are some pretty impressive starts for Morris in 1970. Unfortunately, a kidney infection derailed him for about a month and he was back in the bullpen for the rest of the season.

Friday, November 3, 2017

no. 720 - matty alou

Who is the man: Matty Alou appeared in 155 games for the Pirates in 1970, coming to the plate an NL-high 677 times and producing 201 hits.

Can ya dig it: I've always liked this card just because you could spot that red hat from about 100 feet away.

Right on: This is the second straight card in which the final series allowed Topps to get a player that was traded during the 1970-71 offseason into his new team's uniform. Alou was dealt from the Pirates to the Cardinals in late January of 1971. In fact, the two players that went to the Pirates in exchange for Alou, Nelson Briles and Vic Davalillo, are featured in the '71 set as Cardinals.

You see that cat Alou is a bad mother: Alou won the 1966 NL batting title by hitting .342 for the Pirates.

Shut your mouth: Alou was dealt to the Cardinals in part to make room for a young outfielder named Al Oliver. But Alou never forgot his Pirates days. "I think of myself mostly as a Pirate," Alou said. "Because they gave me confidence, they treated me good, and I had the best years of my life there."

No one understands him but his woman: After Alou married his wife, Maria, he, his brother Felipe and Juan Marichal all lived together with their wives in the same house in San Francisco during the 1963 season.

(A word about the back): Matty and Felipe are still the only brothers to finish 1-2 in batting.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

no. 719 - jerry may

Who is the man: Jerry May was in his first season with the Royals when this card was issued. He appeared in 51 games for the Pirates in 1970.

Can ya dig it: Love that the photographer or photo editor left the old-school scoreboard in the background.

Right on: May is shown in a catcher's pose on his 1967, 68, 69 and 71 cards. He was known for his defensive skills.

You see that cat May is a bad mother: May led the National League in caught-stealing percentage in 1970. He gunned down 50 percent of runners stealing that season.

Shut your mouth: May was killed at age 52 in a farming accident. A rotary brush cutter fell on him.

No one understands him but his woman: May was the catcher when Dock Ellis threw his famed LSD no-hitter against the Padres. Ellis said he was so high on acid that he often couldn't see May, but saw the signals because May wore reflective tape on his fingers.

(A word about the back): "Broke up games" isn't a phrase you hear much now, but I'm assuming it means that May had a "walk-off" hit in each case.