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.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

#39 - Ken Suarez (TEX)

I don't remember this card from my youth, although I'm sure I had it then.  Ken's career seems to be filled with micro facts.  He played very few games, and his '73 campaign with the Rangers was his high point with 90 games played.  He was almost totally at catcher, except in 1968 he played one inning of left field for Cleveland, one inning of "outfield," one out at second base and two outs at third.  I wonder if those non-catcher appearances were in the same game, as if they did this to get somebody else to play all nine positions.

I found out some strange things about Suarez whilst doing some research.  Although he has a 1974 card, he never played in the majors in '74.  His last game was in Sept. of '73.  He was traded to the Indians just before the start of spring training in '74, and was one of the pieces in the Indians late '74 trade with the Angels for Frank Robinson.  I'm wondering if Ken was in the minors for the '74 season (and beyond?) and was involved in two trades as a minor leaguer, and this is the reason why he has no further major league stats.  He has no card in the Trades set.

Cartoon:  Ken is a deputy sheriff, but it doesn't say where.  I'm sure it's not Mayberry.  Well, I wonder.  When did the Andy Griffith show go off the air?  Could Ken have replaced deputy Fife?  He probably would have been good at catching criminals with a baseball bat.  Louisville Slugger?

Ballpark background:  Ken is posing here at the big ballpark in the Bronx.  Yankee Stadium as it is also known. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

#38 - Don Kessinger (CHC)

Don Kessinger was the traditional weak-hitting shortstop that could field well.  Back in those days, if a shortstop could field, he was given a pass on his bat.  No Ripken, A-Rod, Jeter or Tejada of today.  Nope.  And Don was that somewhat tall, skinny kid that naturally ended up at shortstop.  He came along several years after All-Star shortstop Ernie Banks was moved to first base, and after only a few years in the bigs, he became the All-Star shortstop.  The Cubs had a lot of All-Star shortstop action in the 50's to the 70's.  He played 16 seasons in the majors, yet hit only 14 home runs.  He never played in the post-season, either.  One of his All-Star appearances appears on the back of this card under the star - where else?  Two for two isn't bad in the Summer Classic.

I remember seeing Kessinger play short on TV when I was a kid.  I watched him on radio, too, when they played the Giants.  He was the fixture SS for the Cubbies.  This 1974 season would be his last All-Star team. 

Cartoon: Don gained 25 pounds eating the spread in the dressing room prior to the game, and promptly got six hits in six at bats that day.  Oh what a day for Oscar Meyer.  I guess all that MSG made him see stars.  Hey, Doc Ellis pitched a no-hitter on LSD, so why can't Kessinger go 6-for-6 on MSG?

Ballpark background: Here's a shot of Kessinger with an amazing amount of real estate behind him.  Or, third base side at Candlestick Park.  This Astro-turf layout was certainly bigger than the Brady Bunch back yard.  Candlestick and the Oakland Coliseum were the two parks with the most foul territory until the Giants built a new park.  The A's now rule foul ground.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

#37 - Dave Sells (CAL)

Something I just noticed here.  This card is of an American League pitcher, and the back of the card says he bats right.  What does that matter?  He doesn't bat at all.  The DH was in effect starting in '73, there was no interleague play, and the DH wouldn't be used in the World Series until 1976.  I guess this info is put here just in case the manager loses his mind and does something stupid enough to lose the use of the DH rule for that game and his pitcher had to bat.  I'm applying this recent revelation retroactively to all other AL pitcher cards I've done so far. [Update: Dave's batting stats on BR show one game played in 1973, as opposed to 51 pitching appearances in his pitching stats.  I guess the manager did make some move that put Dave in the lineup, but he never got his turn at bat.]

Anyway, on to Dave Sells.  He was strictly a relief pitcher in his four seasons in the majors.  He was called up in August of 1972, then took a major role in the Angels bullpen in '73.  He made 51 appearances, finishing 37 games.  This translates into ten of what we now call "saves."  He spent all of his career in LaLa Land, between the Angels and Dodgers.  In '74 his presence was cut in less than half, and by '75 he was a minor bit player, being traded in a "player to be named later" deal with the Bums, only to make two appearances with them.

Dave was a much better hitter, batting 1.000 for his career, greatly eclipsing Ty Cobb for lifetime average, and out-slugged Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth with a 1.000 slugging percentage and a 2.000 OPS.  He knocked in a run every single plate appearance ever, which is as good as my five year old on Wii Baseball.  Okay, he had one at bat with the Dodgers in '75.  But still.  I wonder if he got to keep the ball.

Cartoon:  This looks like the box office at a movie theater.  Dave is shaking his finger at this poor young woman.  No, I think he may just be a loner and is ordering one ticket.  Ever go to the movies alone on a road trip?  Looks to me from this cartoon that it isn't Dave Sells, it's Dave Buys.

Ballpark background:  Dave is standing on a piece of grass that Babe Ruth spit tobacco on forty five years earlier.  I'd say that description is close enough to figure out that Dave is standing in Yankee Stadium.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

no# - St Louis Cardinals Checklist

Several things strike me as I look at the front of this card.  One, check out the names in the autographs: Robert Gibson, Louis Brock, Joseph Torre and Kenneth Reitz.  Are these autographs or signatures?  Two, the penmanship back in the 70's was quite different than today.  Reggie Smith, Lou Brock, Ted Sizemore and Tommy Agee are good examples of 3rd grade cursive being put to good use with pride.  Like we see with Reggie Smith's Hancock, there are both readability and flair.  Most of today's autographs, although not really examples of bad ability, are attempts to give a signature way of signing without legibility.  How it looks is what matters.  Autographs of a generation earlier than these 70's have even more flair and craftsmanship, the pen being a sculpturing tool as well.  What's in a name anyway?  I like Jose Cruz's accent on the "e" and McCarver's underlining of the "c."  Three, there are only 12 autographs.  I think there were only 12 for the Orioles card I posted earlier in this set.  I wonder why so few?

I wrote in yesterday's Cardinals team photo that this team didn't click with me as a kid.  In reviewing the names on the back of this checklist, they're all very well known to me.  They just have the least "teamy" feel.  Must have been the astro-turf and average record for a decade.

Cartoon: None, and maybe that's a good thing.

Ballpark background: None

Monday, December 6, 2010

#36 - St Louis Cardinals (STL)

One of the things that immediately stood out to me as I read the back of this card was that the great, all-time Hall of Fame name of not only one of the Cardinal greats of all-time, but one of the all-time greats, Stan Musial, is completely missing.  Huh?  What!!!???  Yeah.  There's Hornsby, Brock, Medwick, and Mize on the offensive side, and Dizzy Dean and Bob Gibson on the pitching side.  Stan the Man?  Yoohoo, where are you?  Wow.  Have all of his great feats been surpassed by one player or another over the years?  This is hard to believe.

For some reason, the Cardinals of the 70's don't register too well with me.  I looked at and played with those cards just as much as I did the other teams, but those teams just didn't click with my inner kid.  I recognize all the players just like any other team, but the teams didn't make as much of an impression.

Cartoon:  None.

Ballpark background:  This photo looks like spring training with the big palm tree in the background.  There are scores of onlookers behind the team, and it wouldn't surprise me at a Grapefruit League event.  Team photos taken during the season in a team's home park usually occur with empty stands in the background.

Labels Update

I have updated the Labels page at the top of the blog.  New labels have been added over time to keep track of various things.  I've added a Traded with no Trades card, because there have been players traded before the season and not make it into the Trades set.  I'm also keeping track of players and managers who have won World Series some time in their careers.  I'm also adding an airbrush label to keep track of those wonderful paint jobs.  Horizontal layout cards, too.  Each card I post has the "Cards" label because there are cards from the 660 set, the Trades set and from the team checklists that are not numbered.  Also, I'm adding a "players" label to all cards that show a player, to keep track of the number of player cards total.  I'm sure there will be more added before I'm done, but these are the latest.

I'm open to suggestion from readers as well.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

#35 - Gaylord Perry (CLE)

Gaylord Perry is a Hall of Famer with a 22 year career, his longest stint being the first 10 years of his career with the Giants.  He played for seven more teams in the remaining 12 years of his career.  I once saw him in an old-timer's game with all 8 teams across his jersey front.  He played with a great Giants team over his 10 years, with fellow Hall of Famers Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey all on the same team.  Of course, the year he was traded to the Indians, he had his career best in wins, ERA, strikeouts and won the AL Cy Young award.  Typical of Giants in those days.  The year after Cepeda was traded, he won the MVP and a World Series with the Cards.  Mays won a pennant with the Mets after he was traded.

In a strange set of events, Gaylord pitched a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals and Bob Gibson on September 17, 1968, winning 1-0.  The very next day, the Cards returned the favor as Ray Washburn no-hit the Giants in a 2-0 victory.  Back to back no-no's at the 'Stick.  What a series to have tickets for.  Only 14,000 fans saw either game, and I can only wonder how few saw both.  Only 4700 saw that second game.  In a legendary story, a previous manager of Perry's allegedly said that because of his weak hitting he thought a man would be put on the moon before Perry hit a major league home run.  One hour after Apollo 11 landed, Perry hit his first home run.  But, according to snopes.com, this story could very well be an urban legend made up only after Perry hit the round tripper.  Either way, it's a good story, and either way, the Indians had dumb looking hats.
Cartoon:  If Gaylord heads an insurance company, how come he's doing door-to-door selling?  "Hi, I'm a future hall of famer.  You might die at any moment, are you covered?  Also, somebody might get electrocuted by your doorbell button."  I know that line anywhere.  I must admit, I've never sold insurance door-to-door in a baseball hat.  Raffle tickets for Little League, maybe, but never insurance.

Ballpark background:  This is unmistakably the Oakland Coliseum.  Behind Perry is the third base dugout.  Or is it the first base dugout?  You know, I'm thinking the tarps were on the outfield sides of the dugouts, so this is probably the first base dugout.  That would make sense because the first base dugout at the Coliseum has always been the visitor's dugout.

Friday, December 3, 2010

#34 - Andy Kosco (CIN)

Andy Kosco.  Member of the Big Red Machine.  Really?  I simply don't remember him when I was a kid.  I glanced at the 1974 Reds roster - 35 players are listed for the entire season - and Andy is one of only four players I don't readily recognize.  Man, with a 25 man roster, I easily recognize 31?  It's amazing what baseball cards, radio and TV can do to a kid's mind.  That stuff in ingrained in the brain.

Here, Kosco looks like a daunting figure, maybe a Ted Kluszewski Lite.  He just looks like a big man.  As I'm keeping track of in the labels, not many ballplayers in '74 were over 200 lbs.  Andy played 10 seasons in the majors, for 7 teams and had 8 uniform numbers.  As it turns out, 1974 was his last year.  And since he batted only .189 in 37 at bats, I'm sure this was his last card, too.  His last game was on July 30, even though he wasn't released by the Reds until October 25.  His card says he was an outfielder, yet he played third base in '74 more than twice as often as the outfield.

Cartoon:  A home run into the bleachers?  Big deal.  The ball has shoe polish and a bandaid on it, no doubt pitched by Mike Scott.  So how did Big Andy hit it so far?  Well, even thought the fence was 461 feet to left center at Yankee Stadium, this card came out when the Big Ballpark in the Bronx was being remodeled.  The fence was considerably shortened to, like, 399 feet in left center.

Ballpark background:  Okay, this is Shea Stadium again.  Same light tower, same flag.  Same yawn.