Wednesday, January 31, 2018

no. 749 - ken szotkiewicz

Who is the man: Ken Szotkiewicz made his major league debut in 1970. He managed to stay with the Tigers for the entire season despite hitting just .107.

Can ya dig it: Check out that signature. He's got 19 letters in his name and you can read just about every one.

Right on: Szotkiewicz is listed strictly as a shortstop in 1970 on his baseball-reference page and indeed he filled in for starting shortstop Cesar Gutierrez when Gutierrez was injured. I'm not sure why Szotkiewicz's position reads "infield".

You see that cat Szotkiewicz is a bad mother: In his first collegiate baseball game for Georgia Southern University, Szotkiewicz hit a home run in his first at-bat and went 4-for-4 against Kentucky.

Shut your mouth: Szotkiewicz's name is pronounced SOCK-uh-witz.

No one understands him but his woman: Sztokiewicz was the 35th of 55 players born in Delaware to make the major leagues.

(A word about the back): Those are Szotkiewicz's career stats. He didn't make it back to the majors after this card was issued.

Monday, January 29, 2018

no. 748 - john purdin

Who is the man: John Purdin spent all of the 1970 season with Triple A Spokane and Hawaii as he played in the Dodgers and Angels organizations.

Can ya dig it: Here is another super high-numbered guy who is actually wearing a Dodgers uniform. Purdin's only major league time came with the Dodgers. He hadn't appeared in a Topps set since 1969, when he was with L.A. Also, he is airbrushed into an old White Sox cap since Chicago changed to red-themed uniforms in 1971, which was reflected on Chuck Tanner's card earlier in the set. (It's also the fourth straight airbrushed White Sox card).

Right on: It's quite the eerie background. I'm not sure what time of day that photo was taken. Night? Dusk?

You see that cat Purdin is a bad mother: John Purdin threw a two-hit shutout against the Cubs two weeks into his first year in the majors in September 1964.

Shut your mouth: Purdin had already made his final major league appearance ... in 1969 ... by the time this card was released.

No one understands him but his woman: Purdin's move from the Dodgers to the Angels continues to be listed as an unknown transaction (and an approximate date) on his baseball-reference page, even though all of the blanks were filled in here. Who do we need to contact at baseball-reference to get this straightened out?

(A word about the back): Tanner seemed to like Purdin, but Purdin didn't make the team out of spring training.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

no. 747 - rookie stars n.l. pitchers

Who is the man: Balor Moore was the only one of the three players on this card to make his MLB debut in 1970. But all three spent most of 1970 in the minors. Al Severinsen spent the entire year with Triple A Rochester while in the Orioles' chain. He came to the Padres in the deal that landed the O's pitcher Pat Dobson.

Can ya dig it: Severinsen is airbrushed from an Orioles cap (which he wore on a rookie stars card in the 1970 Topps set). That reddish brown thing is supposed to be Padres hat wear. It's so realistic it appears on Severinsen's baseball-reference page.

Right on: This is the N.L. version of the rookie pitchers card. We saw the A.L. version earlier.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: For the last time (really), they are not. They're just rookies.

Shut your mouth: Scipio Spinks is one of the classic baseball names of the 1970s. Spinks' father was also named Scipio and all of the first-born sons in the family had the name.

No one understands him but his woman: Moore was the first player drafted by the Expos in the 1969 MLB draft.

(A word about the back): Congratulations to me and happy birthday to Balor Moore. I am posting this card on his 67th birthday. This is always a goal of my set blogs.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

no. 746 - andy kosco

Who is the man: Andy Kosco spent the 1970 season with the Dodgers, his second year with the club. He fell off quite a bit from 1969, though, and was traded to the Brewers for Al Downing before the 1971 season.

Can ya dig it: This is a classic for Dodgers fans. Kosco's Dodger uniform is unmistakable. In fact everything about this card says "Dodgers" except for the wording at the top and an artist's paint brush.

Right on: I've debated putting this in my Dodgers binder.

You see that cat Kosco is a bad mother: Kosco went 3-for-10 for the Reds in the 1973 NLCS against the Mets. It was his second-to-last major league season and only postseason experience.

Shut your mouth: Kosco was upset when the Yankees traded him to the Dodgers for the 1969 season. "You cannot imagine the thrill it is to put on a Yankee uniform and play in Yankee Stadium. And you have to be around (Mickey) Mantle to appreciate what he is -- the most courageous man I have ever seen."

No one understands him but his woman: Kosco and his wife, Cathy, had five children. His two sons each made Triple A in baseball.

(A word about the back): Gil Hodges holds the Brooklyn-Los Angeles record for RBIs in a game with nine in 1950, so the back is referencing just the L.A. record. Ron Cey (The Penguin!) broke the RBI record Kosco tied by driving in eight runs against the Padres on July 31, 1974.

Friday, January 19, 2018

no. 745 - sandy alomar

Who is the man: Sandy Alomar, in the league for seven years at this point, really broke out in a big way in 1970, appearing in all 162 games and garnering the only All-Star appearance of his career.

Can ya dig it: That's a fine-looking card. Many of the super-high numbers leave a lot to be desired but that's flat-out a pleasing piece of cardboard.

Right on: Alomar has understandably been overshadowed by his more successful sons, but, I really liked Alomar Sr. as a kid. And that was when he was with the Yankees.

You see that cat Alomar is a bad mother: Alomar is part of an exclusive group as I believe -- unless I've missed someone -- he and Ken Griffey are the only major league players who can say they have a son who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Shut your mouth: Alomar appeared on the roster of four different major league teams in 1967 as he was traded three times. In a later interview he called the season "a nightmare." "They treat me like something they could throw away if they want to."

No one understands him but his woman: Alomar finally made the postseason in the 13th of his 15 big-league seasons. He pinch-hit for the Yankees during the 1976 ALCS and flew out in Game 4 against the Royals.

(A word about the back): Alomar converted those 296 consecutive games played into 661, finally taking a break in 1973. It's the 19th longest streak in MLB history.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

no. 744 - chuck manuel

Who is the man: Chuck Manuel's playing time dipped a bit in his second year in the majors. He appeared in 59 games for the Twins in 1970 and also played some of the year in the minors in Evansville, Ill.

Can ya dig it: Batting cage fun! But the catcher in the background kind of gives away that Manuel is actually outside the batting cage.

Right on: I just love cards of players who are better known as managers. It's even better when they have a different first name than they did as a manager.

You see that cat Manuel is a bad mother: Chuck/Charlie Manuel led the Phillies to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2008 and 2009 and to the Series title in 2008.

Shut your mouth: Manuel's father committed suicide in 1963. In a suicide note, he asked that Manuel take care of his mother and siblings. Manuel, who had a scholarship to play basketball for the University of Pennsylvania, instead took the Twins' offer of $30,000 to play baseball.

No one understands him but his woman: Manuel played six years in Japan and won the league's MVP award in 1979. Manuel learned how to speak Japanese, which helped him during his managing career.

(A word about the back): I'm assuming the record Manuel and Allison tied was most pinch-hit home runs hit by one team in one game. The Cardinals broke the record for pinch-hit home runs in a game in 2016 with three.

Monday, January 15, 2018

no. 743 - john o'donoghue

Who is the man: John O'Donoghue was in his final major league season when this card was issued. He was traded from the Brewers to the Expos in the middle of the 1970 season and pitched just nine games for Montreal.

Can ya dig it: That tree behind O'Donoghue is pretty creepy. It almost looks like it was pasted into the photo.

Right on: Look at that signature. I defy a modern baseball player to replicate that so you can read every letter.

You see that cat O'Donoghue is a bad mother: O'Donoghue was named an All-Star during a season in which he lost 18 games. That's tough to do. (He was pitching for the lowly Kansas City A's).

Shut your mouth: O'Donoghue is quoted in Jim Bouton's "Ball Four," as the two were Seattle Pilots teammates. When the team boarded the bus from the hotel to Yankee Stadium, O'Donoghue said, "Well, boys, here we start our tour of the funny farm." -- a reference to the streets of New York City.

No one understands him but his woman: O'Donoghue's son, also named John, pitched a season for one of his father's teams, the Orioles, in 1993. He pitched with a baseball card of his father in his pocket. I'm sure mom was proud.

 (A word about the back): One of his home runs was against Denny McLain.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

no. 742 - royals

Who is the man: The Royals finished four games worse in 1970 than they did their expansion year. But they were still fourth in the AL West, tied with the Brewers, as the White Sox were gawd-awful.

Can ya dig it: All the guys in the front row appear to be praying. 

Right on: This is the final team card in the set. All 24 teams at that time are present and accounted for!

You see that cat Lemon is a bad mother: Manager Bob Lemon is six places from the left in the front row. He replaced Charlie Metro in midseason so I'm assuming they took a team photo after that to reflect the change?

Shut your mouth: Thanks to handy ebay, I found a photo with names identified on the bottom. I won't identify them all because the '70 Royals aren't that interesting, but you need to know that Lou Piniella is the third player from the left in the top row and Amos Otis is the second player from the right in the top row. Famed Pilots manager Joe Schultz is seated left of Lemon.

No one understands him but his woman: The bat boy on the ground, Ed Gunther, seems lonely.

(A word about the back): Thanks to the arrival of Amos Otis in that famed trade with the Mets before the season, the Royals broke all of their batting records in 1970.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

no. 741 - skip guinn

Who is the man: Skip Guinn spent the whole 1970 season with Triple A Oklahoma City. He returned to the Astros in 1971 but for only four games, which would be his last games in the majors.

Can ya dig it: This and another card I'll show later were the two earliest super high numbers that I obtained for this set. I was a teenager when I got it. When I decided to put my '71 set in a binder, this card was lonely by itself in a page for a long time.

Right on: Final card of Guinn's career.

You see that cat Guinn is a bad mother: Guinn could strike people out. His career strikeout rate per nine innings is 9.8.

Shut your mouth: Guinn's given first name is Drannon.

No one understands him but his woman: Guinn was part of a trade between the Astros and Expos that was a "make-up" trade. Donn Clendenon declined to go from Montreal to Houston in a deal that brought Rusty Staub to Montreal. With the Astros threatening to scrap the deal, Montreal added Guinn and pitcher Jack Billingham plus the already-agreed-upon Jesus Alou and $100,000 to complete the trade.

(A word about the back): Guinn was part of the Astros in 1969 so the date of the acquisition in the last sentence is wrong.

Friday, January 5, 2018

no. 740 - luis aparicio

Who is the man: Some would say Luis Aparicio had a career year in 1970. In his 15th year, he set career highs in doubles, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. What'd he get for it? A trade from the White Sox to the Red Sox in December 1970.

Can ya dig it: Dig that White Sox uniform that Topps didn't try very hard to hide.

Right on: It was a happy day when I landed this card. I remember going into the coin and collectibles shop downtown when I was first starting to get back into cards. One of the random cards for sale was this '71 Aparicio. I thought about getting it many times even though I had no intent to collect the '71 set at the time.

You see that cat Aparicio is a bad mother: A Rookie of the Year in 1956 and a Hall of Famer in 1984, Aparicio was the heart-and-soul of the Go Go Sox and known as one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game.

Shut your mouth: Aparicio was released by the Red Sox during spring training in 1974. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner sent him a letter with an open contract and a note that said, "you put in the amount to play for the New York Yankees." Aparicio sent the envelope back with a note that said, "Thank you very much for your offer but I just get released once in my lifetime."

No one understands him but his woman: Aparicio is the first Venezuelan to make the Hall of Fame.

(A word about the back): Oof. That last part should read: "Set record by leading AL in stolen bases 9 consecutive years, 1956 thru 1964."

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

no. 739 - barry lersch

Who is the man: Barry Lersch completed his first full season in the majors in 1970, appearing in 42 games, most of them in relief.

Can ya dig it: Lersch's photo session appears to have some spectators.

Right on: This is Lersch's first solo card. He shares a rookie stars card in the 1969 Topps set with Larry Hisle.

You see that cat Lersch is a bad mother: Lersch was a talented all-around athlete. Aside from possessing a major league fastball, he was also a champion diver in the Colorado area and a standout golfer.

Shut your mouth: Lersch is listed as being with the Atlanta Braves on a 1974 Topps Traded card, but he never played in the majors for the Braves. After a December 1973 trade, he pitched for Atlanta's Triple A team in Richmond before being acquired by the Cardinals in September of 1974.

No one understands him but his woman: Lersch died from a heart attack in 2009. In the guest book for his obituary, a doctor left a remembrance about working as a vendor in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in 1971 while going to medical school. He sat in a seat to rest and struck up a conversation with Lersch's wife, mentioning that he would be traveling to Los Angeles to attend the wedding of two medical student classmates. Lersch's wife mentioned that the Phillies would be in L.A. at the same time to play the Dodgers and asked for the student's name so Barry could leave tickets for the student and his friends in L.A. The student did find tickets at will call at Dodger Stadium.

(A word about the back): Lersch's bid for the Olympics kept him from pitching for the Phillies in 1964. He started his pro career the following year.