Friday, October 30, 2009

Name the Game - 1971 Thurman Munson #5

I thought I would shake things up a bit and introduce a new feature for this fledgling blog. I went through my Topps Baseball Card Book and found what I consider to be the first action shot produced, the 1971 Topps #5 Thurman Munson. I know 1955 and 1956 have sort of action shots, but it is really a face portrait with an inlaid action painting.

So, after going through all of the sets, I settled on Mr. Munson as being the first, as his card is the first action shot in the 1971 set.

Anyways, so the name of this game is to determine which major league game the action shot took place. I won't be able to figure out every game because it requires both teams in the picture, either in the play or in the background, and some will be removed because of spring training games.

So, let us give this a go!

Munson making a play at the plate!

The Yankees played the A's 6 times at home in 1970, and Munson played in 5 of the games and all of those games were day games. In none of those games was an Athletic called out at the plate. Problem is who is the head first slider?

Possible candidates:

April 25, 1970 - A's win 3-0 with Mincher scoring on a single (nope-slider is thinner); Bando scores on a double (nope); and Green scores from second on a double (nope-no play likely at the plate when scoring from 2nd on a double).

April 26, 1970 - A's lose 3-8 with Munday scoring on a passed ball (nope - Munson would be retrieving the ball).

July 16, 1970 - A's win 8-2 with Murcer scoring on a GRD (nope); Dobson scores from 2nd on a RF single (hey now); Rudi scores from 2nd on a single to CF (maybe).

July 17, 1970 - A's lose 1-7 with no candidates

July 18, 1970 - A's lose 2-7 with no candidates.

So, it comes down to Dobson and Rudi. After looking at hair cuts, shoes and stirrup height, I'm going to have to go with Chuck Dobson the PITCHER! Who else could make it close at the plate than a pitcher scoring from second, plus only a pitcher would wear his stirrups so high.

The headfirst home plate sliding pitcher!

In conclusion, card #5 from 1971 Topps is Chuck Dobson safely sliding headfirst under the tag on Thurman Munson in the top of the 4th from a Joe Rudi single to right field on July 16, 1970!

PS - Edited thanks to an Anonymous dude.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Topps Cards That Never Were: 1983 Willie Stargell

I will take a break from my side project of a write-up on our favorite (ahem) card broker, Mr. Mint, and put up a card I made last week. This entry is dedicated to Pops aka Willie Stargell.

I do not recall much about Mr. Stargell, but I know I did see him come to Jack Murphy back in the early 80s or late 70s. Why do I remember this? The uniforms of course. Along with the Astros and Cardinal road unis, the Pirates uniforms are forever burned in my memory. Imagine, an entire field full of yellow and black (Pirates) and yellow and brown (Padres). Awesomeness to the max!

In my mind Willie had an awesome career. Great power and good average numbers. He was the backbone of the Pirates after the loss of Clemente, and I'm glad he won the (co-)MVP at the tail end of his career to go along with a second WS ring. I guess he had the Orioles number, as he's 17 for 54 against them in WS play.

Stargell was inducted in the Hall in 1988 and sadly passed away in 2001 from complications of a stroke. He is also part of the all century team.

Also, apparently he preferred the name Wilver to Willie, so much so that some of his autographs bear this name, and was called so by Vin Scully.

I cherish a 1965 Topps card I have of him that I found blantantly discarded in the dollar bin (I've found so many 60s-70s HOFers in single bins it is unbelievable).

Willie was also pontificated with the best (ala Yogi):
  • "The (umpire) says 'play' ball, not 'work' ball."
  • "Trying to hit Sandy Koufax was like trying to drink coffee with a fork."
  • "Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor's mailbox."
  • "They give you a round bat and they throw you a round ball and they tell you to hit it square."
  • (After winning a game in 1979 against the Cincinnati Reds with a pinch RBI single after a disputed check-swing call) "Maybe it was this black bat I used. Or this black shirt or my black arms that made the Reds think they saw something."
Without further rambling...

My eyes!

Here are Pops' stats from 1982:

1982 Pirates

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Topps Cards That Never Were: 1978 Brooks Robinson

It appears that I am on a roll, but appearances are deceiving. I am having trouble finding pictures of several HOFers in their final seasons (e.g., Perry with the Royals and Wilhelm with the Dodgers), so I guess I'm putting a call out to others to see if they can find pics of these players in those unis.

Anyways, I'm heading to Washington today, so I need to post early before I head out. Next up would be a card that Collective Troll should have had to collect. The 1978 set should have had a Brooks Robinson card besides the lame Topps attempt at highlighting a HOFer's final season.

Brooks, better known as the Vacuum Cleaner, is and probably always will be the best fielding third baseman in the history of baseball. Since his playing days ended, no one has ever come close to matching his fielding prowess. Third base now is a glorified 1st base position. All power and little substance.

Brooks owned the Gold Glove from 1960 until 1975 and earned every bit of a it. 2,697 put outs at third and a .971 fielding percentage. Hot corner awesomeness.

Brooks was also decent at the plate coming painfully shy of the 3,000 hit mark. Also, not many players begin their career at the young age of 18 anymore.

Not much time, so here is Brooks' 1978 Topps card...

Dig that Orange

Here are Brooks' stats from 1977:

1977 Orioles

Monday, October 19, 2009

Topps Cards That Never Were: 1976 Bob Gibson

Well, it's been awhile since I spotlighted a pitcher, so who best to follow up Mr. October than another intimidator from the 60s and 70s than Bob Gibson. I do not know much about Gibby, as he retired the year I was born, but I do know he was a strikeout machine in Sports Illustrated Superstar Baseball.

As mentioned in a previous post, I watched an interview with Gibson and Reggie Jackson on PBS a few weeks back. Even at the age of 74, Gibson is still incredibly intimidating. He also looked like he had the fire to go out and pitch a few innings.

During the interview, he recounted an incident he had with his battery mate, Tim McCarver during a mound conference. I do not recall the exact conversation, but McCarver was trying to give Gibby some advice and Gibson's retort was "
The only thing you know about pitching is you can't hit it." Love it.

Also, there was an "incident" during the 1993 Old Timers Game between Jackson and Gibson. The story goes: "In 1992
, an Old-Timers' game was played at Jack Murhpy Stadium in San Diego as part of the All Star Game festivities, and Reggie Jackson hit a home run off Gibson. When the Old-Timers' Day game was played in 1993, the 57-year-old Gibson threw the 47-year-old Jackson a brushback pitch. The pitch was not especially fast and did not hit Jackson, but the message was delivered, and Jackson did not get a hit."

That incident makes the PBS interview that much more special. Anyways, Gibby or Hoot was only the second pitcher to record 3,000 strikeouts at the time. Cool!

Also, I just read he was born Pack Gibson after his father, and changed his name to Robert when he was 18.

Alas, here is my homage to a great pitcher's final season...

The Dominator.

Here are Gibson's stats from 1975 at the age of 39:

1975 Cards 22 109 3 10 66 61 60 62 5.04

Friday, October 16, 2009

Commissioner for a Day

Some people may wish to be King for a day, but if I had any choice, it would be to have Selig's job for just one day, so I could undo all that he has done.

Not that I have a personal gripe with the Commish, but I do think he has been reactive, instead of proactive. He just doesn't have the stones in my book, plus I am not a fan of a anyone intimately associated with one club having control of the league.

So, if I were commish for a day, I'd make some rather sweeping changes. I am sure this will not be popular, but hey, I'm THE COMMISH!

Change #1 - League realignment

I am not a fan of the three Division leagues. First change would be to go back to two Divisions per league. Two 8 team NL Divisions and two 7 team AL Divisions. That being said, I am not in favor of moving franchises, but I don't have a problem with jumping leagues.

NL West - Padres, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Royals, Astros and Rangers
NL East - Mets, Braves, Phillies, Pirates, Cubs, Cardinals, Nationals and Reds

AL West - A's, Angels, Mariners, White Sox, Twins, Brewers and Tigers
AL East - Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, Rays and Marlins

Explanation of league jumpers: Rangers get Astros as an in Division rival. Royals get Rockies as an in Division rival, and play St. Louis more regularly. Brewers go back to being the Twins rival. Marlins get the Rays as a rival, and get the boost from visiting Yankees and Red Sox ticket sales. Trust me, they need all the help they can get. Drawback - Tigers get screwed on geography.

Change #2 - Two wild cards

First place in each Division, plus the second place team in each Division makes it as a wild card. So, #2 NL West plays at #1 NL East, #2 NL East plays at #1 NL West. Same for AL.

Change #3 - All Star Game

Back to only an exhibition with no WS implications. WS home field advantage is based on best overall record.

Change #4 - Interleague Play

Gone. I can't stand it. If the leagues are going to have differing rules, then there should be no interleague play. If the leagues had the same rules, I could stomach it. With two Divisions, you could have more balanced playing. Plus, rival games, gone. You'd see your rival every two years.

Change #5 - DH

I'd leave it up to the AL. If they want to keep it, no interleague play. Although, if I was AL President (do they have one anymore?), I'd lose the DH in favor of an additional roster spot.

Change #6 - PEDs

First offense, you're suspended until the Feds complete their investigation/punishment of you. Let's not forget most PEDs are illegal. Suspended with pay until the investigation is over. Convicted, suspended without pay until time is served.

Second offense, suspended with pay until investigation is over. Convicted for a second time, out of baseball. Cleared, you can still play.

I don't like arbitrary 50, 100, etc. game suspensions. Let their fate lie in the judicial system.

I'm sure I'll catch hell, but I'm interested in hearing what your changes would be if commish for a day!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Topps Cards That Never Were: 1988 Reggie Jackson

Two posts in two days, I hope my boss doesn't find out...

Well, pickings are getting slim on the ready made custom Topps cards, so you are going to be graced (or cursed) with this rendition of a 1988 Jackson. This card was incredibly difficult to make because of the Athletics name, plus I had a heck of a time finding a decent shot of Reg in an A's uniform that didn't come from the 60s-70s. Prime fodder for retro remakes, but I don't think a side-burned laden funky Jackson in a bright yellow uni would look right on an 88 Topps. Maybe would look good on Night Owl's new 75 Topps homage site though. PLUG!

Anyways, Jackson was really a non-interest guy for me in my childhood days. My dislike for the AL lead to me rarely following him, even when he was an Angel and a short drive from home. However, I've grown to enjoy Mr. Jackson (I am for reeeaaal), since his retirement. I've enjoyed some of his movie cameos and he actually seems to be a real nice guy and not the trouble maker those Damn Yanks would lead you to believe he was. Also saw him on PBS doing an interview with Bob Gibson (Yes, I am a nerd). Those two guys were intimidating just sitting around the table chatting, let alone on the mound or in the box.

On a side note, he has always kind of looked like my Dad, despite the obvious skin tone differences.

Reggie's final season was pretty ho-hum for a final bow. The soft AL rules did allow him to play to the ripe age of 41, and gave him his final resting spot of 563 on the dinger chart.

Also, I just read he is a cousin of Balco Bonds. Geez, who isn't?

Mr. October

Here are Reggie's stats from 1987:

1987 A's

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Topps Cards That Never Were: 1975 Al Kaline

Long time, no post.

Working from 5:30 am to 4:30 pm every day is catching up with me. I have a stack of things to sell on eBay, kids to play with/raise, a house to take care of, a never ending job, and sometimes in there I get to be a husband. So, posting has been moved to the back burner. Heck, it's not even on the stove right now.

My interest has waned, as I don't care for any of the remaining teams in the playoffs (or even those that made the playoffs for that matter). As long as the NL wins, I'm fine with it. The AL is and always will be inferior to me. That statement sounds like a future blog post...

Moving on to my backlog of ready made cards, next up is Al Kaline. Mr. Tiger was waning as early as the 1972 season, but that didn't stop Topps from issuing a 73 and 74 card. However, in the 1974 campaign, Kaline had a monster season for being at the end of his career, which for some reason Topps only saw fit to issue a 75 Topps Highlight.

He played in the most games (147) since his 1961 season, and passed the 3,000 hit mark. He also came up 1 dinger short of the 400 plateau. I guess the DH is good for one thing.

After this season, Mr. Tiger moved up to the broadcast booth to share the mic with another HOFer, the late, great George Kell. What a tandem.

Anyways, here is my rendition of his 1975 Topps card, the best set known to nerd-kind.

I screwed up the paint where the name is...too much eraser.

Here are Al's stats from 1974:

1974 Tigers
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