Sunday, October 31, 2010

#23 - Craig Robinson (PHI)

It's really funny looking at non-star players from eras past.  Here, Craig Robinson looks like the guy in my high school yearbook who won the award for "most likely to remain the same the rest of his life."  He's 5'-10" and 165 lbs.  This is otherwise known as Average Joe.  With a bell curve for dude size, Craig fits 37% of all American males.  And such dudes can be a major leaguer when they grow up.  I like that Craig is wearing one batting glove, and that photographers love to capture gloves laying on grass.  Craig is a humble guy, too, as he even chokes up on the bat for a photo op.  I didn't know that Eugene was a team in the PCL in 1971.  I always thought the AAA had larger cities, like Portland and Las Vegas.  I looked it up, and sure enough, Eugene, OR had a PCL team from 1969-73.

Craig was with the Phils in 1973, but was traded to the Braves in December.  The next card in this set will be his traded card.  Craig's 1974 season with the Braves was a regular one, playing in 145 games, and getting over 500 plate appearances.  His next three seasons (his last) he would not play even 40 games in a year.  He finished his career just one home run behind Duane Kuiper on the all time list.  Kuiper had one.

Cartoon:  Being signed is pretty darned thrilling, I guess.  Craig didn't win a World Series or MVP or break records, I guess as well.  Otherwise he might have said those things were most thrilling.  What kind of pen did they use to sign contracts back in 1970?

Ballpark background:  Although it looks like a great big lawn, I'm pretty sure this is Shea Stadium.  Those twin 10,500 foot high light tower poles look like the ones at Shea.  All the way to the left of Robinson's chin you can see the edge of the second deck sticking out, with the "lower deck" seats under it.  I don't know what they were called, but it was kind of the next seating level in the "bowl" up from the field box seats.  Other shots in this set and other years' cards give this away as Shea.

Another 1974 Topps Blog - Pennant Fever

Yesterday I discovered another 1974 Topps set blog, called 1974 Topps - Pennant Fever, by somebody with a blog name of "wobs."  It's funny because apparently we started our blogs at about the same time, and there are some odd things in common.  I wanted to do this blog for months, and did some pretty extensive research (including the first million Google pages) before starting it to make sure nobody else out there was doing a 1974 set.

Well, "wobs" started his in June, and mine in July.  He didn't do any posts in July, so there were probably no Google listings for it just from his two posts in June.  He's doing the set numerically, as am I.  We both posted a bit in August, in almost a "race."  We passed each other, and in a total coincidence, we both posted card #14 Paul Popovich on September 29, 2010.  Here's his, and here's mine.  He surged ahead in October with a huge number in one day, and hasn't posted since the 15th.  It will be really interesting comparing our work.  He's taking shots at ballpark backgrounds, and dropping other great pieces of info in.  Cool!  I've added his blog to my blogroll and links.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

no # - Trades Checklist

Here's the checklist for the 1974 Trades set.  This card has no card number (just like the team checklists), but I've decided to place it here for a couple of reasons.  Since it has no number, I wanted it to be the first card of the Trades set to appear in this blog set.  I've also decided to insert the Trades cards into the overall blog set immediately after that Traded player's original card.  This is because I've always felt that these cards were just as part of the set as the others, and I wanted to make it easy to compare the two cards in two consecutive posts.  And since the first Trades (#23T) card comes immediately after card #23, I decided to place the Trades Checklist card before #23.  So, here it is, right after card #22.  Nice chartreuse color, too - real 70's!

I obviously used this checklist to keep track of cards as I collected them, but stopped checking the boxes for some reason.  The Trades cards are ripe with airbrushing masterpieces.  Stay tuned...

Friday, October 29, 2010

#22 - Cy Acosta (CWS)

While I remember this card from my youth, I never really made the connection of "Cy" as a name with Cy Young.  I'm not sure if Cy is a nickname for Cecilio, or whether there is a reference to Cy Young.  If the latter, they picked the wrong guy.  He spent only four years in the bigs, with 1973 being his best.  The 1974 season would be his last with the Sox, and would only make six appearances for the Phils in '75.  He never started a game in his career, and came entirely out of the bullpen.  In '73, he appeared in 48 games, finished 42 of them, yet had only 18 saves.  I wonder what his role was?

I discovered a few discrepancies between his card and what Baseball Reference has on their website.  His
'72 and '73 ERA's BR has as 1.56 and 2.23, along with 60 strikeouts in '73 and 97 innings tossed.  I wonder why the difference?

Cartoon: What's a "hopping" fastball?  Oh, I get it.  It's a two-seamer with four legs and a smile. 

Ballpark background: This photo was taken at the Oakland Coliseum.  I was able to figure this out mostly because it looks just like it

Sunday, October 24, 2010

#21 - Bob Gallagher (HOU)

Bob had a short stint in the majors spanning four slightly active years between the Red Sox (1972), Astros (1973-74) and Mets (1975).  It looks like 1974 was his most active year, with 102 games played.  Most of those games were as late inning defensive replacements.  Bob only had 87 at bats in those 102 games.  Bob was traded to the Giants in March of 1976, but by the looks of it, he never set foot on the field with the Giants.

Cartoon:  Bob's grandfather was active in the majors?  He had a 16 year career between the White Sox and Red Sox.  Pretty dang active if you ask me.  And he got a ring with the 1917 Pale Hose.  Although he had a long career, he wasn't a superstar.  In 16 seasons he hit .264 with only 22 homers.  See Shano Collins' career stats here.  He was a 1B-OF, just like his grandson.

Ballpark background:  Bob was definitely hitting rocks against the backside of a stable in Boone Co., Arkansas.  Arkansas isn't far from Houston, if you take the train.  Looks like he had a real bat.  Carved from some ol' hickory tree, no doubt.  I'm going to give this shot of downtown Manhattan the "spring training" label, despite not knowing if this was from spring training.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The Philadelphia Phillies' dream of being the first team to win three consecutive NL pennants since the 1942-44 Cardinals has been slaughtered by the extreme underdog San Francisco Giants!!!! Juan Uribe hits an 8th inning opposite field home run to put the Giants ahead 3-2. Brian Wilson makes the perfect pitch - a low, backdoor slider - the pitch that awesome slugger Ryan Howard simply cannot hit. Howard was fooled badly, and THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT! Another extreme form of torture!

The parties are spilling out into the streets! We're going to the World Series! Wahoooo!

Friday, October 22, 2010

#20 - Nolan Ryan (CAL)

Uhhhhhhm, now how cool is this.  My next card in the set is Nolan Ryan, just a couple of hours at most after the Texas Rangers win the AL pennant.  I didn't plan this either.  I was sitting here uploading the scans and the highlights were on the TV.

Okay, what can I say about Nolan Ryan?  All time strikeout leader with 5714.  Twenty-seven big league seasons, 324 career wins, all time walks leader with 2795, all time record seven no-hitters.  member Baseball Hall of Fame.  Only one World Series appearance, with the 1969 Mets, where he got a ring.  He finished out game 3 with 2.1 innings pitched in a 5-0 Mets win over the Orioles.  This 1974 card came just after his record setting single season record of 383 strikeouts.  As a batter, he had a lifetime .110 average, and hit twice as many career home runs as Duane Kuiper, with two.

Ryan pitched in the radar era, where the speed of his pitches could be measured, even if not on every pitch.  He was the fastest pitcher of my childhood for sure, and I'm certain he would be amongst the top today.  Maybe still the fastest.  I certainly wouldn't want to face him.  Everybody knew he was the fastest pitcher and struck out the most batters.  There were always arguments against him, even for the Hall of Fame because of his W/L record, and how he never played for many great teams.  His long stints with the Angels, Astros and Rangers were with some sub-par teams.  My biggest mistake of his career was staying home from his sixth no-hitter in Oakland because I was sick that night.  I was planning to go sit in the bleachers, like I normally did.

Cartoon:  Nolan sells footballs.  Now nice.  And pricey ones, judging by the tag.  I'm not sure he operates a sporting goods store anymore.  He's going to the World Series and runs a team.  Probably doesn't have the time.  "Hi, I'd like to purchase some Nolan Ryan commons.  Got any?"  "Not in my store, son.  They're all star cards here."

Ballpark background:  I simply can't make out what is behind Ryan.  The blue fence looks like it could be Dodger Stadium, but all the stuff behind it kind of eliminates that.  The background is too blurry.  Are there trees?  People?  I think the Angels played spring training in Palm Springs in the 70's.  Could this be another Cactus League park?  Ryan has an Angels road uniform on.  There seems to be a tunnel over the fence, but what is all the yellow stuff?  Mystery to me for sure.  Any input? [Update: Fleerfan - see comments below - has identified the ballpark in the background as Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.  I'm not very familiar with that old ballpark, especially with all the blurry background in the photo.  But after looking at Fleerfan's link, calling that one out must have been a slam dunk.  So, I'll update my labels for this post.  Thanks, Fleerfan!]

Monday, October 18, 2010

#19 - Gerry Moses (NYY)

Gerry Moses' stint with the New York Yankees was very short, and already over by the time this card was released.  Moses didn't play for the Yankees in 1974.  He was traded during spring training to the Tigers, yet didn't have a card in the Traded set.  So, along with Paul Popovich, (card #14), I'm adding a new "Traded with no Traded Card" label.  I'm wondering if the Traded set had its own deadline for making the set.  Moses played all of 18 games in 1973 for the Pinstripes, 17 at catcher, and one at DH.  The following year, 1975, was his last in the bigs, and played a mere 7 games split between the Padres and White Sox.

I remember this card from when I was a kid, but nothing stood out about it other than it was a baseball card in my set.  Of course, when you play behind Thurman Munson, you might not get much playing time at all.  And just how his Moses' first name spelled anyway?  This card says "Gerry," but the Baseball Reference [dot] com website spells it "Jerry."  I typed in "Gerry" and it came up anyway.  Maybe the web designers at BR had the same question and decided to allow both spellings get to his stats.

Cartoon:  Wow, small world, to play sandlot ball with Archie Manning.  What I wonder about Manning is why he would wear a football uniform playing sandlot ball.  Maybe Moses is the one who convinced him that he had a brighter future on the gridiron.  Don't look now, but I think Pig Pen grew up in their neighborhood, too.

Ballpark background:  I really can't figure out where this photo was taken.  It's likely that it was at a Spring Training facility of another Grapefruit League team, given the Yanks' road threads.  There's a chain link fence at the stands, and there's no warning track before the fence.  I've never seen a big league park like this, so I'm giving this card the spring training location label.


Yesterday, October 17th, was the 21st anniversary of the earthquake that struck game 3 of the 1989 World Series in San Francisco.  Candlestick Park had the weirdest things happen there, and I've witnessed many of those bizarre things.  But to have a major earthquake cause a bridge to break, a freeway to collapse, a section of a city to catch fire and delay the World Series by 10 days, just minutes prior to the first WS game there in 27 years, really should have been predictable.

Yesterday's post of Gary Thomasson I actually did the day before, but delayed the posting by a day because I did two posts at the same time.  I didn't realize it Saturday, but the anniversary of the earthquake would be a card of a Giant, with Candlestick Park in the photo.  The light towers shown, one right on top of Gary's hat, and the other at the top of the stadium at the far left, are very high above the rim.  The one at left, I believe, was the one that had a maintenance worker on top of it when the quake struck.  Those towers shook violently from side to side, but he made it down okay.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

#18 - Gary Thomasson (SF)

This is one of my favorite cards in the 1974 set.  It's because Gary's pose is so classic first baseman.  And he's left handed which adds to the effect.  He also looks like a real major league first baseman.  He's one of the guys that played first base after Willie McCovey, my favorite all time player, was traded to the Padres.  And I didn't hate him for it.

For a few years in the 70's, the Giants changed their uniforms slightly.  The letters across the chest were changed from black w/ orange trim to orange w/ black trim.  I'm not sure I like them.  Gary was also notable in 1977 when he led off the entire season, in the top of the first on Opening Day in LA, and hit a home run.  The Giants didn't quite turn that into a wire-to-wire season like they did their 2003 Opening Day leadoff homer.  But Gary didn't seem to need that, as he played the following year during the second half of the season with the WS champs Yanks.

Cartoon: I don't recall reading that Gary was a professional musician.  It looks here like he's playing the trumpet with the sound coming out upside down.  I wonder what instrument(s) Gary actually played, and how much did he make.  I'm sure he wasn't a member of Led Zeppelin, so maybe baseball paid more.

Ballpark background: Gary is pictured here at Candlestick Park.  Notice the horrid green of the artificial turf.  Yuck.  There's a player or coach just off his right shoulder.  Above this figure is the left field foul pole.  As the lower deck seats change from orange to a dingy red, the box seats changed into bleacher seats, divided by a chain link fence.  The upper deck curves around the foul pole, but behind the bleacher section, which is about 30 feet itself behind the fence where the scoreboard is located.  The upper deck in left field may be the furthest stands from the field of any ballpark ever.  It was no fun to sit up there.  And those were the end zone seats for football.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

#17 - Doug Bird (KC)

Doug played the first half of his career with the Royals.  He later played for the Phils, Yanks, Cubbies and BoSox.  Doug had the misfortune of playing for pennant or Workd Series winners just a year or two shy of that team actually winning.  Doug played against the Yanks in the three ALCS between 1976-78.  He beat NY in one '76 playoff series, and lost one to the Yanks in the '78 ALCS.  The Royals won the pennant in 1980.  He played for the Phils in '79 (1980 WS champs) and the Yankees in 1980 (1981 AL champs).

At 6'-3", Doug is tall, but at only 175 lbs., he is skinny.  Bean pole.  You don't see players like this anymore.  Tim Lincecum may come the closest to what used to be much more common.  Doug's sideburns look good enough to toss on the barbecue.  I think I saw him walking down the street in an episode of Streets of San Francisco when I was a kid.

Cartoon: Again, this cartoon wouldn't happen today with the restrictions in the contracts.  I've never seen somebody ski in a baseball uniform, and have certainly never seen such short poles.  Maybe his legs acted as poles.

Ballpark background:  Here, Doug is posing for a shot at the Oakland Coliseum.  The grass looks a bit dry in the area where his teammates are playing.  I fully remember those huge scoreboards attached to the light towers behind the bleachers from my youth.  I may even be able to figure out what the advertising is if I give it enough thought.

Monday, October 11, 2010

no # - Baltimore Orioles Checklist

The team checklists in the 1974 Topps set didn't have card numbers.  I've decided to post each one following the team's team photo card.  Autographs that Topps was able to secure are shown on the front, while the team checklist is showed on the back.  These cards were both issued as part of the set, and available by mail if you wrote to Topps.  The mail order sets came in sheets of cards and left the buyer to cut the cards out if they desired.  I got these checklist cards both ways.  If I remember correctly, I didn't do such a good job of cutting my own sheets, and probably discarded those cards because they were too imperfect.

One thing that was pointed out on another blog (I forget where, and I wish I could remember) is that there were two differing sets of these checklist cards.  Notice the bottom "printed" line of the card.  Some cards had one star before the copyright, and some had two.  Looking through my checklist cards, I have some with one and some with two.  Anybody know the story behind this?

This card shows that I took liberty to use the checklist for my own record keeping.  I updated it several times as there are both pencil and pen in checking the boxes.  A few boxes are blank, indicating that these cards were acquired late in my collecting of these cards.  I may have even bought some of these from card shops in the 80's.

Notice Powell's signature.  Boog is in quotes.  John "Boog" Powell.  I wonder where he got such a nickname?  Maybe we'll find out later on in the set.  And a handwriting expert might be able to shed some light on the reverse slant of Brooks Robinson and Paul Blair's autographs.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

#16 - Baltimore Orioles (BAL)

This is the Oriole team (mostly) of lore during my youth.  The pitching staff was simply amazing year to year.  Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally.  I'm sure that during my youth, baseball cards had a greater influence on forming an image of players as to their greatness than great players had in forming an image of their baseball card.  I played with, shuffled, organized, re-organized and everything else with my cards so often that they became part of me.  Kids are so impressionable.  Hey, Boog Powell, Bobby Grich, Mark Belanger, Brooks Robinson, Andy Etchebarren.  All those outfielders couldn't have shared three spots, could they?  These names are etched in my memory forever.  My eyes immediately run to Mark Belanger and Paul Blair at the end positions of the back row.  Simply glancing at their form gives me a glimpse of great baseball from the 70's.  This particular team won the AL East in 1974, as they did in '73, with losses to the A's in the ALCS.  No doubt revenge for 1971.

Yes, the O's used to be the St. Louis Browns before they moved to Baltimore in 1954.  And they originally started out as the Milwaukee Brewers at the formation of the American League in 1901 before moving to St. Louis in 1902.  And the Baltimore Orioles team that was part of that original league moved to New York in 1903 and became the NY Highlanders before changing their name to the Yankees in the teens.  It's odd to see the Brownies' names on the back holding all-time team records.  Some of the all time greats. 

Cartoon:  Team photo's don't have cartoons on the reverse in this set.  But if they did, I'm sure they could come up with some odd piece of trivia or ten on Earl Weaver.

Ballpark background:  With their home uniforms on and everybody assembled in one place, I'd guess that this was taken at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The shape and deck layout, along with the pronounced upper deck tunnels all look like Memorial Stadium.  A lot of great Oriole baseball was played there from 1954 to 1991.  The team won the four pennants shown on the back of the card, plus 1979 and 1983 in their old yard.  If you look closely at this picture, you can see Stabler to Casper in double overtime for a touchdown in another great Raiders playoff victory.  This is the first Oriole card in the set, and I'm guessing that there aren't too many photos taken at this venue.  I never got to see Memorial Stadium, and I regret it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

#15 - Joe Torre (STL)

Joe Torre held a rather dubious (or should I say sad?) major league record.  As player and manager, Joe participated in more games than anybody else in history without ever being in a World Series.  Until the Yankees beat the O's in the 1996 ALCS.  As manager, Joe cried.  Literally.  He then won four of the next five World Series.  It's actually a bit of a touching story.  As much as I hate things Yankees, Joe Torre is maybe the least offensive thing to ever live in the Bronx Zoo.  I actually developed respect for him over the years.

Joe's picture here looks like he's just accidentally downloaded some chin music to his iPod.  He's bending backward, having just avoided a stint on the DL, and his bat shows no signs of going around to get a strike call from the ump.  A few things to notice here.  Joe has 2000 career hits at the printing of this card.  Joe was a multiple position player for nearly his entire career.  Starting out as a catcher, he later took up first base, being C-1B for years.  Then he switched from 1st to 3rd to be a C-3B, then later to 1B-3B, with most of his games at third.  In '73, Joe flipped to mostly first base for the remainder of his career.

Cartoon:  Joe certainly has MVP numbers in '71.  Like batting .363.  But, his trophy looks more like an urn.  There's a lid with a handle on top.  Wonder what goes inside?  Whatever the design, Joe really loves it, as we can tell by the cartoon.  I wonder if he takes it to bed at night.  I never saw one like it in Little League.

Ballpark background:  Joe is wearing a gray uni, so the Cards are on the road.  I'm not familiar enough with Shea Stadium's dugouts, but this is a dugout, and I can see box seat bars on each side of Joe's waistline.  This gives me inclination to guess Shea Stadium, but I'm not totally sure.  So, I'll label this as "undetermined" and maybe come back to it later in the set in case I find other cards similar enough to convince me one way or another.


Congratulations to my San Francisco Giants for winning the NL West on the last day of the season!  It was a nail-biting season for almost 162 games.  Now let's win like three consecutive World Series, okay?