Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm Still Here

It has been a year of seldom posting here at 1974 Topps Set.  Fellow card blogger Devon at My First Cards (1982 Topps) sent me a note checking up on me.  Thanks, Devon!  I'm still here.  Life has been difficult for a while as we're trying to get back on our feet after the economic crisis struck home.  I had to retrain for a new career and last semester's work in vocational school combined with a new job at a startup operation for a startup company working wacky shifts and wildly varying amounts of overtime has made, *gulp*, blogging at 1974 Topps Set a somewhat lower priority.

If I manage to get more time here in the near future, I'll definitely post more.  Stay tuned and thanks very much for your interest!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

#59T - Ross Grimsley "Traded" (BAL)

This is not your typical airbrush job.  Oh, it's an airbrush job, alright, but the oriole cartoon logo on Grimsley's hat seems to be cut and pasted from another photo onto this picture.  The detail of the bird is too fine and the artists don't have the capability of producing such artwork.  So, this hat is almost in a category by itself.  Anybody else with any input on this hat?  Could airbrushers have done this in your opinion?

Grimsley was traded from one 70's powerhouse team to another, the main other player in the trade being Merv Rettenmund.  He was traded from a team that played the A's in the World Series to a team that played them in the ALCS just two years later.  This card really stuck in my memory from my childhood and now it's stuck on my blog.

Ballpark Background:  As far as I can tell, this is Riverfront Stadium.  Grimsley is wearing the Reds home uni in this pic, and it looks like Riverfront.  So why not? 

Friday, July 1, 2011

#59 - Ross Grimsley (CIN)

Ross Grimsley was a respectable pitcher, and more than a bit player in Cincinnati's 1972 season.  I remember him from my childhood both as a player and from his baseball card.  Ross had a career that spanned 12 years and he won 124 games.  I also remember him with the Baltimore Orioles.  More than coincidental, he was traded to the O's during the winter meetings in 1973, and never played a '74 game in the Reds threads.  This fact shows in the next card which is a card of Grimsley in the Trades set.

On the back of the card is something interesting that I came across at work last week.  Grimsley is called "Ross Albert Grimsley II."  This means that he was Ross Albert Grimsley, Jr. until he named a son after him and his father.

Cartoon:  Boy, his eyes really do look crazy!  No wonder they gave him the nickname of Crazy Eyes. 

Ballpark background:  Here we have the first appearance of Grimsley's home yard, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.  I can tell by the bland green fence with green concrete behind it, along with Grimsley wearing a home uni.  The elements in this photo remind me of a very ironic story some years future from this photo.  At the end of his career, the Reds offered Rollie Fingers a contract to play on one condition - that he shave his trademark handlebar mustache off since the Reds had a no facial hair policy.  Fingers would play only if he got to keep his waxed stache.  Team owner Marge Schott - known for her bizarre public comments - made it known that the Reds were a traditional team and believed in tradition enough to not sign a reluctant Fingers.  Now, let's see.  A team that wore double-knit polyester pullover pajama uniforms with an elastic wasteband and played in a circular, multi-purpose facility that was shared by a football team, with perfectly symmetrical dimensions, artificial turf and who was owned by a woman is traditional?  I dunno.  There seemed to be quite a few players on the old traditional tobacco pack baseball cards that wore a mustache.

Monday, May 16, 2011

#58 - Charlie Spikes (CLE)

You hit 23 homers for the Indians in the 70's and you look good.  You have a ballcard.  I think those sideburns are far out.  If Charlie's hobby had been acting, his sideburns should have made an appearance on Streets of San Francisco.  "Check out those chops, buddy-boy."  I could just hear Carl Malden.

Charlie only had two seasons as a really regular player, and 1974 was definitely his best.  His .271/22/80 would be respectable, like I said above regarding an Indians player.  Charlie broke in with the Yanks in '72, playing 14 games, and wearing uniform #42, Mariano Rivera's future number.  Not to mention, Jackie Robinson's future retired number.  I'm sure Rivera will have his retired.  Although I don't really remember Spikes as a player, I sure remember this card as a kid.  He deserves to be in the sideburns Hall of Fame.

Cartoon: Well, it's obvious that Charlie isn't making a living at his hobby.  Or is he?  The baseball card world may never know...

Ballpark background: Yankee Stadium, no doubt.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

#57 - Darold Knowles (OAK)

Another of my childhood A's memory players who played for the World Champs. I didn't know there was a league named after Ban Johnson, as one of the "stars" shows.  Babe Ruth, yes.  Cal Ripken, yes.  But Ban Johnson?  He's the founder of the American League in 1901.  Darold has some interesting post-season numbers.  He has no stats at all for either the 1972 or 1974 post-seasons despite being with the A's then, and no stats for the 1973 ALCS.  He did, however, pitch in all seven games of the 1973 World Series against the Mets.  Just days after the 1974 World Series victory, Knowles was traded to the Cubs for Billy Williams.  The 1974 season, with the DH being only one year old by then, was the only season of Knowles career that he didn't have a single plate appearance.

Cartoon: Darold pitched a no-hitter before his career even began?  Was this in the minors?  Little League?  Playing Strat-O-Matic with his kid brother?  And he lost the no-no.  But back in the 80's or 90's sometime, MLB revised their rules for deciding what a no-hitter was.  They concluded that a no-no must be a nine inning game for the pitching team.  So if Darold lost a no-no, he could have pitched only 8 innings as the visiting pitcher because the home team didn't need to come to bat in the bottom of the ninth.  I remember a number of no-hitters were erased by the rule change, including losing no-no's and rain-shortened ones that completed 5 innings.  So, sorry Darold.  Your cartoon might even be obsolete today.

Ballpark background: Texas Ranger gray uni's combined with California gold tops and wedding gown white bottoms combined with the outfield fence in Oakland means that this was played in Oakland.  At the Coliseum.

Situation ID: I believe I've identified exactly when this picture was taken.  I checked games in 1973, and determined that it was taken on July 28, 1973.  Card blogger "wobs" at 1974 Topps - Pennant Fever (who is now far ahead of me in blogging this same '74 set - click here for his post) suggested some Ranger names for the runner on second base.  What's interesting about this "action" shot is that the runner is standing on top of the base with his hands on his hips.  That's because, as a relief pitcher, this photo was taken during Knowles' warmups.  Checking all the 1973 home games vs. the Rangers when Knowles relieved while a runner was on second revealed only one possibility.  The runner is Jim Mason and Knowles is relieving John "Blue Moon" Odom after Mason's single knocked in Billings from second base and Mason took second on the throw back in, knocking Odom out of the game.  So, this was taken in the top of the 5th inning on 07/28/73.  Here's the link with the box score and play-by-play account.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

no# - New York Mets Checklist

This team checklist on the back of the Mets has 25 players, if I counted correctly.  I wonder if that was the projected Opening Day roster as Topps saw it when the cards went to print.  If I have it right, not all teams have 25 cards in this set.  And yet again, there are only 12 autographs on the front.  I wonder why, and will continue to wonder why. 

Checking out the list of names, I'm struck by the various visions of baseball I get.  Yogi Berra...well, many images come to mind, and they are stretched out over a great length of baseball history.  I never realized that Daniel Joseph had the nickname of "Rusty."  Or maybe that would be vice versa.  Tug McGraw threw his glove up in the air in celebration of the Phillies 1980 Series victory.  Felix Milan is a trivia answer as the player who went 4-for-4 with four singles just prior to Joe Torre's all-time MLB record for grounding into four double plays in a single game.  Ray Sadecki was the bust trade for Orlando Cepeda.  Tom Seaver, Hall of Famer with several teams.  I just love how baseball is a huge mosaic with tiles placed all over.  Names, places and times change, while some stay the same.

This Mets team was good enough to win the pennant the previous fall, and nearly pulled off another "Miracle Mets" victory.  Or maybe they were just good enough to win a weak NL East, surprise the Big Red Machine, and nearly topple the dynastified A's.  Is "dynastified" a word?  Also notice that I did not check any of the boxes on this checklist.  I don't know why, but maybe I received it late in my collecting game.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

#56 - New York Mets (NYM)

These guys are the 1973 pennant winning Mets.  The ones that played the A's in the World Series and almost won.  They had the worst record of any team to finish in first place in a long time.  I think the Padres matched their 82 wins here a few years back.  I think.  The East was bad in '73, but maybe it's because of the rise of the Dodgers and Big Red Machine, clobbering the Eastern teams.

Looking at the records on the back of the card is a bit funny, too, because the Mets are a fairly new team even in this year.  They had a lousy first seven years, so not many good records came from that period.  If your all time homer record is 34, then it shows that you're an expansion team.  No player had ever knocked in a hundred runs, either.

One big note for me here is that Willie Mays appears in this photo.  He's located the second from the left in the second row, just 45 degrees up and left from the trainer who is wearing white.  Willie retired after the 1973 World Series, and completed a great career.  The Giants trading him back to New York where he started his great career is not uncommon with the all-time greats.  Babe Ruth returned to Boston, and Hank Aaron returned to Milwaukee.

Cartoon:  None

Ballpark background:  I am unable to determine right now where this photo was taken.  There looks like some object between the shoulders of the fourth and fifth player from the left in the back row.  Maybe it's some kind of light or other pole type thing that existed at Shea Stadium, but I don't have the energy to start looking right now.  If one of my readers can identify this object (even if it's flying) then great.  Otherwise, the ballpark is undetermined.

Friday, March 25, 2011

#55 - Frank Robinson (CAL)

Uh, what do I say?  Well, let's start out with a total bummer.  Frank's first ten years in the major leagues was as a Hall-of-Fame outfielder in the National League, but with the complete misfortune of having three other outfielders named Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente in their glory years outshadow him at nearly every turn.  I mean, what more can you do than start out with the all-time rookie HR record and never look back?  Short of being Babe Ruth, not much.  And if his NL days weren't enough, his first year in the AL with the Orioles, he won the bleeping triple crown.  I'm not talking about just any triple crown, I'm talking about .316/49/122 in the pitching dominated late 60's.

But to give Frank the credit he deserves, one could talk for years.  I don't have time to do that here.  But I will say I enjoyed seeing him up close as skipper of my Giants in the early 80's.  Frank gave the umps quite a bit of his mind, and other things, when necessary.  Frank didn't have the best managing career, but he had some bad teams.  But 16 years of that after a HOF career as a player is really quite a combination and fairly unheard of.  Frank was hired as the first black manager in baseball back in the mid-70's with Cleveland.  That it took nearly 30 years from Jackie Robinson to Frank Robinson is still a head-scratcher.  Frank was traded in Sept of the 1974 season, and although late, I'm still including Frank's card in the "Traded with no Traded Card" category.

One of the things I really like about cards like this is all the small print on the back.  It means "full major league career."  Frank certainly had that.

Cartoon:  Well, nobody else does, because Frank watches movies standing up.  He is blocking everybody else's view.  You can tell by the look on his shadow's face that he's enjoying this Western.  Of course if Frank played today, he'd have an in-home theater room where he could watch without bothering anybody else.

Ballpark background:  Not a clue.  It appears as if Frank is wearing a home uni, but the Angels had a very light colored gray road uni that might look white in the sun.

Monday, March 21, 2011

#54 - Elias Sosa (SF)

I don't remember Sosa pitching for the Giants very well, but I do remember his card.  The 1974 season would be his last with the Giants, and would go on to play for 8 teams in his 12 years.  He would make one World Series with the dreaded Dodgers in 1977, for which I am glad they lost.  He also, along with almost every other player in the late 70's it seems, played a short stint for Charlie Finley's A's in 1978. 

Cartoon: I'm guessing that Elias' idol is Marichal because they both came from the Dominican Republic.  Marichal was known as the "Dominican Dandy."  I wonder if Sosa was ever known as Baby Dandy.  Who knows.  But, the cartoon figure has a high leg kick proving without any doubt whatsoever that the Topps cartoonist knew what he (or she) was doing.

Ballpark background: Candlestick Park.  There's no doubt.  A Giant in his home uni on AstroTurf with a chain link fence w/ the orange "375" sign and football bleachers tucked under the upper deck.  Yup, that's the 'Stick all right.

New Label: Situation ID

I've decided to add a new label where it may occur: the Situation ID label.  This label will apply to card photos where I can identify the situation in which the photo was taken, down to the game, date and play or at bat.  This will usually occur on action shots.  Several I've seen so far have been identified, and one is coming up in the next ten cards.  I've looked through the previous posts to see if any fit under this label.  I found that George Scott's card contained enough information that I could pinpoint.  On Jim Wynn's card, however, there wasn't enough info, as I could narrow it down to several possibilities.  I will also add Situation ID to the text of a post just below Ballpark background and tell the detective story.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

#53 - Fred Kendall (SD/WASH)

Here's another San Diego Padres card that was also initially released under a potential Washington, DC team at the beginning of the Topps printing schedule before the Pads announced they'd stay in San Diego.  I think I had the Washington card since I was ten, and later acquired the San Diego card.  Notice how great a condition the back of the card is in.  It is clearly legible with sharp edges, and there are no wax stains or ten year old kid dings.

I always liked Fred Kendall as a player.  He was the typical weak hitting catcher, yet valued for his experience and ability to handle a pitching staff.  I got to see Fred play as well as his son, Jason, also a catcher.  I've also seen Fred as a bullpen or pitching coach and even heckled him a time or two in the 'pen while observing his pitchers warm up.  Fred spent ten of his twelve seasons with the Friars, with brief lunch engagements in Cleveland and Boston near the end before returning to SD.

Cartoon:  It's a good thing Fred didn't play Bob Uecker ball.

Ballpark background: I had a tough time with the location of this photo.  It's clearly a wide open space, wider than many spaces.  The Padres used to play spring training in Yuma, AZ in the old days.  I don't know if they did in '73 when this picture was likely taken.  This was their home yellows in '73.  (Notice the yellow tongue flap on his spikes!  Brian Wilson eat your heart out!)  There's something above Fred's helmet at the top of the picture that goes from his helmet to the right of the card.  It looks like the top rail of the chain link fence in the background.  At first, I thought that looked like the bridge that goes from San Diego to Corona island, and that the photo might have been taken in San Diego.  I'm not even sure that bridge would have been built in 1973.  But there's just not enough other things in the background for it to be San Diego.  Plus the bridge really does appear to be the top rail of a fence after all.  So, I'm going to guess Yuma at spring training.

Friday, March 11, 2011

#52 - Al Oliver (PIT)

Al Oliver.  A name that brings back some terrible memories.  Some are terrible because he was a good player for another team that beat you.  Some are terrible because he was signed by your team and was terrible.  He played 18 years in the majors, a bit over half of them with the Pirates.  I always viewed him as a good player, but not the caliber of a Clemente or Stargell.  Then when my Giants signed him in 1984 after a number of All-Star seasons, a few 100 RBI years and 8 consecutive tours over .300, things looked promising.  But he was a bust.  Even though he batted over .300 for most of his stint with the G-Men, he had so few RBI.  He knocked in only 34 in 360 at bats, and became an automatic boo for the fans.  They offed him to the Phils in August to ease the pain.  It was the beginning of the end of his career.

But that doesn't really taint his career overall.  He won a ring with the great 1971 Pirates team, and was a strong visual impression in the black and gold. He finished his career with an impressive .303.  I remember Al shipping off to Texas and taking his last initial as his uniform number - 0.  He played like anything other than a zero.  I know this paved the way for Odibe McDowell doing it with the Rangers later on in the 80's.  Or at least I think so.

Cartoon: Al is showing off his new Rawlings first baseman's mitt.  Al made numerous pitches to Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell to adopt the same piece of leather, but to no avail. 

Ballpark background: Candlestick Park. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blogspot's Missing Blogroll Thumbnails

I've noticed a growing trend in the ballcard blogging world.  Many of us have blogrolls in our margins that are updated each time another one of us makes a new post.  If we include a jpeg of the card in our post, this card shot appears as a thumbnail in the blogroll.  Well, those thumbnails are slowly disappearing from our blogrolls. 

I can't see my '74 set thumbnails in anybody else's blogroll.  And the thumbnails for the 1975 Topps (it's far out, man!), the Project Baseball 1976, the '59: one f/g card at a time, the 1964 Topps Blog, A Giant Blog, and My First Cards sites are not showing up on mine or others' sites either.  Anybody else notice this?  Any idea what's going on?  Blogger?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

#51T - Bobby Heise "Traded" (STL)

This is a bad airbrush job, but then, what's a good one?  Certainly there are worse.  I think the "StL" logo is one of the most difficult to airbrush because of its complexity.  It's probably a Brewers uniform he's wearing with the neck trim airbrushed, but one thing for sure is that he's wearing a pullover jersey.  I wonder what kind of airbrush job these Topps artists could do if they even had Photoshop at their disposal.  Probably not too bad a job.

According to the back of the card, Heise can fill in ably for Mike Tyson.  Wow, I didn't know that!  Heise is a lot older, too.  Maybe he picked the wrong sport.  In any case, Mike's trade record is a long one, as I noted in his regular card post.  He would be traded twice more in '74.  It's funny, but the A's team slogan - after winning two consecutive World Series - was "once more in '74."  Or was it, "one more in '74?"  I don't remember, but I'll have to look that one up before I post the A's team photo.

Ballpark background:  I can't quite put my finger on the ballpark in the background.  It might be the Astrodome, but I can't quite be sure.  If anybody knows what ballpark this is, I might offer to take you out to lunch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

#51 - Bobby Heise (MIL)

Bobby spent 11 years in the bigs, had 8 uniform numbers, played with 7 teams, played 6 different positions, was traded 5 times and switched leagues 3 times.  I couldn't find anything he did four times, otherwise I could have tossed something in there about a partridge in a pear tree.  He is tied with Duane Kuiper on the all-time home run list with one.  Despite all this, he had only 1100 some odd at bats in his career.  To stay around that long says something about a player.  Many guys are gone in a few years.  I really don't remember Bobby playing, but I remember his card.

Bobby never played for the Brew Crew in '74.  He was traded to the Cardinals in December of '73, at the winter meetings, I'm guessing.  He's the next card in this blog set in the form of a Traded card.  What's funny is that he would be traded twice more in '74.  Once in July from the Cards to the Angels (July 31 for those trade deadline buffs) and once more from the Halos to the BoSox in December.  I'm sure Bobby is still getting around on frequent flier miles.  Pssssst, don't tell anybody, but Bobby's pine tar extends WAY higher than anything George Brett ever sported.  Bobby, you be out with that bat!

Cartoon: Bobby played basketball in high school.  That would be in Vacaville, CA, just a half hour up the interstate from me, home of several million new outlet malls all strung together.  I'm sure I can get some great deals on basketball shoes there at the Nike outlet store.  From what little I know of Spanish, I think "Vacaville" means "cow town" in English.  They should have just called it Cow Town to begin with.  Lots of cows used to live there.

Ballpark background: I'm going to take a wild guess and say Yankee Stadium.  I don't know why.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Scanning Delays

It's been too long for me to not post regularly.  I've hit a scanning management backlog.  The technique I've used to scan my 1974 Topps cards is to place nine cards at a time on my 8 1/2" x 11" all-in-one printer glass plate and scan it in as a "sheet."  I then use a simple photo editor program to crop each of the nine cards out into their own jpeg for future posting.  I've found that this takes much less time than to scan all 660+ cards in one at a time.

Okay, I'm ahead of the game on scanning those "sheets," but way behind on cropping them into individual cards.  I've been really busy lately for various and sundry reasons, and will be back to normal, I hope, when cropping resumes.  I only need to crop a front sheet and a back sheet or so to allow blogging for a couple of weeks.  I'll attempt to do that soon.  So, until then, read my posts again and again and again, and you'll become a '74 Topps expert!

By the way, my green and gold header and my black and gold body/background of the last few weeks was meant to portray the Superbowl teams.  I know this is about baseball, but sometimes I get strange inspirations for my color layouts.  Orange and black necessarily mean Giants, and green and gold might mean A's.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

#50 - Rod Carew (MIN)

Rod was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991 for his great career with the Twinks and Halos.  He had some huge glasses on at his induction.  You know, those 80's deals that were way too big?  Those made him look mighty preppy.  Carew played 2nd base for the first half of his career, and 1st base generally the rest.  This '74 season would be his last as a full-time second bagger.  In '75, he played mostly 2nd base, but had about 15 games at first.  In '76 he was a full-time first baseman.

I remember the image of Carew most in a Twins uniform, but saw him play mostly as an Angel.  As I recall, he had a sweet swing.  Either case, this guy could hit.  He collected his 3000th hit in his last year with the Angels.  His '73 season was his first of four 200 hit seasons.  I wonder if anybody back then in '74 had somebody like Carew pegged as a future 3000 hit Hall of Famer?  I probably didn't.  But heck, I was ten. 

Cartoon: If Rod were truly one of baseball's finest bunters, then he would be holding the bat without his fingers wrapped around the bat exposing them to the 98 mph heater coming at him.  Additionally, Rod bats left, but bunts right?  The player in the cartoon also seems to be a white guy.  I think I recalled that the cartoonist must have been left handed.  I just reviewed the cartoon on Manny Sanguillen's card, and danged if he ain't a left handed catcher.  Even though, this cartoon shows a good bunt laid down.

Ballpark background: The small stands behind the plate indicate that this photo was from spring training. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#49 - Steve Renko (MON)

A veteran with numerous ball clubs (Expos, Cubs, White Sox, A's, Red Sox, Angels, Royals), Steve wore many different uniforms.  He finished his career 12 games under .500 with an ERA of about 4.00.  He's also the first above 200 pounds card seen in a while.  I always loved these cards with the player wearing the wind breaker under his uni.  Was it a fad back then?  I see this all the time in the 70's cards.  Steve was traded in the middle of a year to an expansion team in its first year - for Donn Clendenon.  This would figure in Steve's ring total - Zero!  What a bummer, to be traded away from a team just before they win a Wolrld Series, and to never win one yourself.

Cartoon:  I wonder if Steve also enjoys horseback riding.  Are they the same, riding horses and horseback riding?  The only thing missing is a polo mallet.

Ballpark background:  This is a recurring theme in Expos ball cards, it seems.  The spring training site.  You can see the palm trees over Steve's right shoulder.  What I like, though, is the transformer on the telephone pole.  Didn't Candlestick have one of those?  I forget. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

From the Bleachers - My Baseball Blog Has Moved

Check out my baseball blog - called "From the Bleachers" - at its new address.  I write about baseball from a number of different angles, but always from a fan's point of view.  There are quite a few stories from both the bleachers and box seats.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

#48 - Dick Sharon (DET)

I don't remember Dick Sharon when I was a kid.  I vaguely remember this card, but the thing that stands out most is the way he's holding the bat.  His uniform number appears on his left wrist band, #27.  Sharon was traded five times in a three year career.  He was drafted by the Pirates in 1968, and traded to the Tigers prior to his major league appearance in 1973.  This 1974 card would be his first of his career; he would have only two total.  After the '74 season, he would be traded again, this time to the Padres for what would be his final year.  After the '75 season he would be traded three more times, from the Padres to the Cardinals, then to the Angels, then finally to the Red Sox. He never ended up playing in the majors for the Sox, so in effect he was traded three times after his final appearance in the majors. 

Cartoon: It's no wonder Dick only played three years in the bigs.  Jumping on the ball is sure to get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.

Ballpark background: Dick is giving the photographer his money's worth during batting practice at Comiskey Park.  The Tigers have their road uni's on, and that astroturf infield appears again.  I also notice the signature arches through the back wall of the lower deck.  It's Comiskey fer sure.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

#47 - Dick Ruthven (PHI)

I would care to guess that this is Mr. Ruthven's first Topps card of his 14 year career.  I Googled 1973 Topps Dick Ruthven and came up with nothing.  So unless Mr. Stufflestreet at 1973 Topps Photography knows something I don't, I'm going with this card being his first.  In any case, his 1973 season was his rookie year.  His ML debut was in April of that year, so I think he was with the club through spring training '73 and this photo was taken there [see update below].  The pitcher's followthrough pose is one of my favorite poses in baseball card tradition.  His powder blue uni was the Phils' road outfit back then.  I must say I never liked the "swoopie P" Philly threads, and I hated the powder blues.  I much prefer today's modern/retro get-ups with the little blue stars as "i" dots. 

Ruthven pitched for the Phillies twice in his career, and saw post-season action with most of those powerful teams of the late 70's and early 80's.  He received a ring in '80, after getting a no-decision in game 3 vs. the Royals.  Dick pitched nine innings and left with a tie game.  The Royals won in the 10th for one of their two victories.  He also pitched for the 1984 Cubs team, but apparently didn't make an appearance in the playoffs against the Padres. 

Cartoon: Dick lists electronics among his hobbies, but the cartoonist is showing electricity.  Tharn't much 'lectronics that go into a regular light bulb.  A soldering iron fixing a transistor radio with the Phillies game on (Harry Kalas I'm guessing was the announcer in 1974) might be a better cartoon.  I'm launching my career on this blog of cartoon critic.  Gary Larson beware.

Ballpark background: This doesn't appear to be like any major league park I remember seeing, so I'm guessing that the Phils are playing at another team's spring training site. [Update: A reader named Shawn sent me a photo of a early/mid-70's era Shea Stadium showing this section of fence as being in front of the left field bullpen.  Shawn pointed out part of the "3" in the 358 sign right behind Ruthven's right behind.  His body is blocking the rest of the number.  Thanks Shawn!]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#46 - Pat Kelly (CWS)

Here, Harold Kelly is known as Pat.  I think he was known as Pat everywhere else, too.  Pat wasn't a power hitter, popping only 76 homers over 15 years, and his pose here while choking up on the bat shows that he knew the best way to hold the bat for himself.  It looks like a loose grip on the bat, as if he were going to spray hit, going wherever the ball is pitched.  Even though this is a ballcard pose, he has a determined look on his face.  His batting glove is in his back pocket.  But judging from his career stolen base numbers, that might very well be his sliding glove, which might possibly explain why he isn't wearing it while holding the bat.  He swiped 250 over all.

Kelly played for the Kansas City Royals in 1969, being picked in the expansion draft.  The Twins looked like they didn't have a place for him, and an expansion team was perfect to step into an everyday player role.  He snatched 40 bags in '69, a career high.  Kelly got one chance at a ring, playing with the '79 O's in their seven game loss to the Bucs.

Cartoon:  So it was Pat's incredible athletic ability that cracked the bell.  Maybe it was from the shotput, and recorded for an AC/DC song.

Ballpark background:  Pat is posing at Yankee Stadium on what looks like a cloudy day.

The Favorite Team

Recently I have received several comments and emails from readers expressing their die-hard allegiance to their teams.  Although that wasn't the point of their notes to me, it is nonetheless part of most all of us.  Who is your favorite team?  Having a favorite team can really make a certain set of cards special to us.  It has for me.  Well, I'll use that to talk about mine.

I grew up, and have lived my whole life, in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I live about 30 miles east of SF and 20 miles east of Oakland.  The City and the Peninsula are Giants territory.  The East Bay (proper) is A's country.  But a fascinating thing about the Bay Area and the rest of Northern California is that living outside of these two areas allows one to be a fan of either - or BOTH! - teams.  It is unlike any other metro area of the country that has two teams.  You simply AREN'T a fan of both the Yankees and Mets, the Cubs and Sox, the Dodgers and Angels.  So, I grew up a militant fanatic of both teams.  When asked how I could cheer for both teams (prior to 1989, that is), I would always answer that it was easy because it wasn't like they would ever play each other when it counts.  It was only in 1995 when the Oakland Coliseum built Mt. Davis to woo the Raiders back to Oakland from LA - and subsequently destroy my bleacher seats - that my allegiance shifted a good bit to the Giants.

But a very special thing happened in 1974, the year of this set, and also in 1973, the year that contained most of the photography in this set, as well as the year of highlights covered by special cards in this set.  The special thing was that the Oakland A's won the World Series.  I was the ages of 8, 9 and 10 when these three victories took place, '72, '73 and '74.  And '74 was my biggest collecting year, so the A's naturally had a big effect on me through this set.  It was that really special time as a kid when things were grand with your own team.  You didn't have to worry about house payments, getting a job, or girls yet.  You were free to be a kid.  And when your team wins, you do a lot of jumping up and down.  And reviewing their cards with fondness when you grow up.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

#45 - Dave Johnson (ATL)

Dave Johnson, who would later(?) be known as Davey, had a career of 13 seasons in the bigs, a majority of them with the Orioles.  This card is the first card in the set showing a full time second sacker.  It's also the first card in the set, to my knowledge, where the player had at least one World Series ring each as both a player and manager.  Davey got rings with the O's in '66 and '70 and as manager of the famous Mets team of '86.  His 1974 season would be his last full season in the bigs.  He had a blowout year in '73, smacking 43 homers (breaking Rogers Hornsby's all time 2B HR record) and batting in 99.  His numbers were way off in '74 (.251/15/62), and after only one at bat in the 1975 season - a run scoring double - Davey was released by the Braves early in April.  He missed the rest of the '75 season as well as the entire '76 season.  Does anybody know why?  He was signed as a free agent by the Phillies in '77, seeing limited action in '77 and in '78 as well, when he was traded to the Cubs in August.  He played his last eight weeks of big league ball on the North Side before being cut after the season ended.

This photo is a bit strange for an action shot.  The ball is seen behind Davey's behind.  It is easy to jump to the conclusion that he swung and missed.  But... He hit right handed, so this was snapped on his follow through swing.  It looks like he either fouled the ball at the plate and it bounced up behind him or maybe it hit off the catcher or umpire and ricocheted back.

Cartoon:  Davey is a licensed pilot.  Speaking of pilot, here he is shown in a TV cartoon series pilot flying by the Umpire State Building, cutting in front of Bugs Bunny who is waiting on top of the tower to catch that ball.  The show never debuted.  This blog post used two past tense conjugations of verbs that ended in silent T's, just so you know.  Ricocheted and debuted.
Ballpark background:  I can see Mets uniforms in the dugout beyond Johnson, and this looks like the Shea Stadium dugout shown in other card shots over the years.  So, I'm going with Shea Stadium.  Final answer.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

#44 - Mel Stottlemyre (NYY)

This is not only one of my favorite cards in the 1974 Topps set, it's one of my favorite cards of all time.  It's Mel's pose, simply classic for a pitcher, and that cartoonish smile on his face.  Mel's body type and his long, slender nose just make this card perfect.  Mel is so form-fit for this pose that a majority of his cards have this stance in the pic.  I love them all.  A few have slight variations of this pose or a wind-up pose.  One action card of Mel exists as a specialty card in the 1965 set showing game 2 of the 1964 World Series.  This '74 card was Mel's last card of his career, as 1974 was his last season.  His '74 offensive stats show him "appearing" in 3 games, with no at bats and 1 run scored.  I'm guessing he was a pinch runner at least once, and may have pitched in a game where the manager made a move that caused a loss of DH privileges, but where Mel never came to bat.

Mel had a pretty decent career in pinstripes when you figure in the Yanks performance over that 11 year span.  Mel was unfortunate enough to play his 11 year career smack in the middle of the Yankees 15 year World Championship drought between 1962 and 1977.  He did, however, play in the 1964 Series his rookie year in a losing effort to the Cardinals.  Mel had two sons that played in the majors, Mel, Jr., who had a brief stint in 1990, and Todd, who pitched longer than his father, for 14 seasons spanning the late 80's to the early 00's.  Todd ran up some post-season appearance totals, and although his dad played his entire career with the Yankees, Todd racked up two WS championships with the Blue Jays in '92 and '93.  I also love how Mel crosses all three T's in his autograph with one stroke of the pen.  This wasn't the first shot in the photographer's set, as Mel's grass stain on his left knee indicate a variety of poses in total.

Cartoon: Thanks to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, Mel's home movies are now available on YouTube.

Ballpark background: Mel is wearing the classic Yankee road uniform.  I much prefer the plain gray threads with no trim and the plain letters (no trim either) to their current duds with the piping and letter outlines.  Much more classy.  Well, that's beside the point.  The only ML park I can think of that would match this photo is Shea Stadium with it's two-pole light tower and open view with trees in the background, but I don't think the Yanks played there in '73.  So, I'm going to give an educated guess that this pic was snapped at somebody else's spring training yard.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

#43T - Jim Wynn "Traded" (LA)

Just to reiterate, Jim Wynn was traded for the player just previous to him in this set, Claude Osteen, shown on card #42.  What I've noticed about cards in the Trades set is that many of the trades take place in December of the previous year, while trades made after the New Year don't make it into the set.  I'll need to follow the dates listed on these cards to figure out a cutoff point for Topps publishing.  Hmmm, now a good way to do that?  Excell spreadsheet?  Back of a used envelope?...  Okay, nevermind.  I just looked at the back of all my Trades cards.  Most of the trades were between December 3 and 7, 1973, with a few as late as Dec. 11, and one in November.  It seems that these deals were probably made at the winter meetings and heavily promoted by Topps in their upcoming set.  The latest trade included in this set was Dec. 11. 

I'm also using the "Airbrush" label on this card.  While there are no grotesque attempts at logo, hat or uniform revisions, there is the small matter of the Dodger blue wool at the tip of the bill on Wynn's cap.  A fairly easy change, maybe fit for an up and coming rookie airbrush artist at Topps.  All in all, I would say this is not a very flattering picture of the Toy Cannon.  It says, "Hey, man, if you mess with me, I'll rearrange your face before I go back to bed." 

Ballpark background: If this is in a ballpark, it has a rather un-major league-like roof held up by spindly columns.  Likely, this was taken at spring training.  So, I cannot determine where it was shot.  Maybe, if Wynn got together with Osteen for whom he was traded at that golf course I think Osteen's shot was taken, then I can imagine that the roof beyond is covering the driving range.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

#43 - Jim Wynn (HOU)

Jim Wynn was also known as the Toy Cannon.  This was a rather colorful nickname, and I never knew if he received this because he had a great arm or not.  Maybe he had a bad temper, but his nickname might have more appropriately been the Loose Cannon.  I wonder who gave him that nickname.  Wynn played most of his career with the Astros including his first few when they were known as the Colt .45's.  Jim was traded during the off season to the Dodgers and appeared in their '74 World Series loss to the A's.  This was as close as he would ever come to a ring.  He played for the '77 Yankees, but was realeased during the season.  He was traded for the card previous in this set, #42 Claude Osteen.  Wynn's Trades card will appear next in this blog.

Wynn had some pop in his bat, hitting 291 homers in his career, but batted for a fairly poor average, only a .250 clip.  Each game I did research for to try to pin this photo down had Jim as the 'Stros leadoff hitter.  He hit only .220 in 1973.
Cartoon:  Look at those musical notes just floating by.  That's a sure indication of jazz.  Snapping one's fingers is Jazz, too.  Hey, this guy's also wearing a long sleeve undershirt, just like Wynn in the photo.  Typical Candlestick day game in June or July.  Frigid winds and players wearing sleeves.

Ballpark background:  Here, Jim hits the ball up in the air at Candlestick Park.  I did some research on the '73 game logs between the Astros and Giants to see if I could place this photo to a specific plate appearance, and I couldn't pin anything down on Wynn.  He popped up a couple of times, and flied out to left, and flied out to center a number of times.  There were also some nondescript accounts such as "Wynn made an out to second" where it doesn't say if he lined out, popped out or grounded out.  For all I know, this shot could have been taken on a foul pop that made the stands during an at bat that had a completely different outcome than a pop up.  Judging by the angle of the sun, it's a day game rather than a night game that starts in the summer still in daylight.  There's a Giants player in the background, and by the look of the angle it's probably the first baseman.  Willie McCovey spent some time on the bench against the Astros in '73, and from the logs it looks like this player might be Dave Kingman, as this player is right handed.

Friday, December 24, 2010

#42T - Claude Osteen "Traded" (HOU)

As airbrush jobs go, this isn't one of the bad ones.  This trade has an interesting twist in the 1974 set.  Osteen was traded for the very next card in the set, #43 Jim Wynn.  How often does that happen?  Something that sticks out is that Claude's nickname, "Gomer," which was shown in the #42 card's cartoon, is in the headline here. 

Ballpark background: This photo may have been taken somewhere other than a ballpark.  Osteen's uniform really doesn't look like a uniform.  I'm guessing that his hat that was airbrushed was NOT a Dodger hat, but rather a golf hat, and those trees in the background are on a fairway somewhere.  Just over his right shoulder next to that tree looks like a sand trap.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

#42 - Claude Osteen (LA)

Claude Osteen pitched for a long time, an 18 year career, most impressively with the Dodgers.  Although he pitched for a successful team in the Dodgers, with a WS victory ('65) and a pennant ('74) the season after his trade, the bookends of Osteen's blue tenure, he finished his career just one game over .500, just shy of both 200 wins and 200 losses.  He was a permanent fixture in the Dodger rotation, albeit not the most successful one.

Claude was traded in the off season to the Astros, so his '74 picture never had its fulfillment.  In fact, he was traded yet again late in the '74 season from the Astros to the Cardinals.  He finished his ML career the following year with the White Sox.  With Osteen's card, every baseball team has now been represented in this 1974 set. 

Cartoon: Well, somebody needs to have a nickname of Goober.  Wonder who it might be?  The cartoonist got the TV series reference right with the combat boots, the helmet and grenade.  I wonder if he ever threw that pitch.  Now that's what would be known as an exploding fastball.  Yuk, yuk, yuk. 

Ballpark background: It really looks to me like there's ivy on the centerfield fence behind him.  I know of only one place that could have happened in a 1973 photo shoot.  Wrigley Field.  I'm a bit troubled by the lighter green above what appears to be the top of the ivy, but from an angle such as this, the wire "fan guard" as it were might look like this.  I know there are some bleacher seats left empty for a batter backdrop, and they are painted green.  I sat there once in the mid 80's.  The "400" distance marker would be a clincher, but maybe Osteen is blocking it due to the camera angle?  I don't know.  If this is Wrigley, it would be the first appearance in the set.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

#41 - Bobby Floyd (KC)

Who?  I remember this card from my youth, but never really thought much of it.  I simply don't have a place in my memory for Floyd. Bobby finished his career just one homer shy of Duane Kuiper.  This was his last card, as he played his last game in June of '74.  Notice his three different names.  His full name is Robert, his card goes by Bobby, but he signs Bob.  There is a discrepancy between the stats on this card and Baseball Reference.  His '73 season shows him going 25 for 78 with a .321 average.  BR gives him an additional hit, 26, for a .333 clip.  Who has the typo?  Was there even a typo?  Could a scoring decision have been reversed after his career was over, giving him an additional hit?  Bobby was traded from the Orioles in mid-June in the 1970 campaign, depriving him of a World Series ring.  He didn't play much at all for the O's that year, having only 2 at bats.  He picked it up in KC at the old Municipal Stadium, hitting .326 in a limited role the rest of the way.

This is the first card in this set of a second baseman.  Forty-one cards in.  And it's not a full 2B card, as Bobby is a utility player who splits time at another IF position.  I have a dummy post that I placed earlier in the set to act as a temporary place holder for labels that haven't been used yet.  So right after I post this, I need to go in and wipe it out from that dummy post.  If you click on the Dodgers team label or the DH position label in the lower right margin, this dummy post will show up.  I think I'm correct that there is still one team yet to appear, the Dodgers.  I know there hasn't been a DH position yet in this set, so after those are done, my dummy post will have served its usefulness.

Cartoon:  Evidently, Bobby never used his hobby against opposing pitchers.  Otherwise he might have broken Hank Aaron's record.

Ballpark background:  Oakland Coliseum.  Where else?  It leads the ballpark backgrounds so far in this set, according to my label list that is keeping count.  Which park will win it all in '74?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#40 - Jim Palmer (BAL)

Nineteen seasons in the big leagues, six World Series appearances, three rings.  I'd say Palmer belongs in the Hall of Fame, for sure.  He was the center of a great Baltimore pitching staff of the late 60's and 70's.  He also did underwear commercials, and the chicks dug him.  Or is that digged him?  My spell checker is placing a squiggly red line under the word digged, so maybe the chicks dug him.  I remember great matchups between the A's and O's in my childhood: Blue, Odom, Hunter and Palmer, Dobson, McNally, Cuellar.  Never were it an easy task to beat the Orioles.  The A's took them down twice in the '73 and '74 ALCS, and the O's won in '71.  I remember this card when I was a kid, but somehow the image isn't what I remember about Jim Palmer.  Maybe it's the shadow from his hat that crosses his eyes.  I don't know.  Either way, it wouldn't have been easy to get a hit off him.

Cartoon: What happened in game 11?  How lucky were his socks then?  Did this have anything to do with underwear?  Socks are classified as underwear, right?

Ballpark background: Palmer is wearing home whites, and the batter's rump is in road gray.  The blueish fence in the background is consistent with other Oriole players in this set whose card photos were obviously taken at Memorial Stadium.  So, that's what I'm guessing.