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?