Sunday, April 6, 2014

484 - Ernie McAnally

About This Player
Ernie McAnally pitched in four Major League seasons with the Montreal Expos from 1971 to 1974. McAnally was drafted originally by the New York Mets in 1966, but he was selected later by the Expos in the expansion draft in 1968.

McAnally was in the Expos' starting rotation for his four seasons. His rookie season proved to be his finest with career highs in wins (11), innings pitched (177.2), and complete games (8).

In 1975, McAnally's contract was purchased by the Cleveland Indians. He spent the season in the minor leagues before retiring from the game.

About This Card
Just as the Topps cartoon states, McAnally, just like many other Major League Baseball players at the time, had jobs during the off-season.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

222 - Rob Gardner

About This Player

Rob Gardner spent eight seasons in the Major Leagues bouncing around between six different teams. Originally signed out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 1963, Gardner was selected by the New York Mets in the 1963 first-year draft. He made his big league debut in 1965 and spent two seasons with the Mets before being traded to the Chicago Cubs. He would later be traded throughout his career to the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, and Oakland A's before playing his last game for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Gardner does hold a distinction for being traded for two of the three Alou brothers throughout this career. In 1971, Gardner was traded from the Yankees along with one other player to the A's for Felipe Alou. (Gardner was traded back to the Yankees two months later.) He would be traded again from the Yankees along with a player to be named later (who would be Rich McKinney) to the A's prior to the start of the 1973 season for Matty Alou.

About This Card
Just as Gardner had bounced around different Major League clubs, he also bounced around the minors. His Topps card states that we has pitched in 10 minor league cities. Gardner will have pitched for 12 different minor league clubs by the end of his professional career.

Gardner had only spent four games with the A's in 1971; hardly enough time for a photograph in an A's uniform.

Friday, April 4, 2014

199 - Bert Blyleven

About This Player

Bert Blyleven pitched in 22 big league seasons with five different teams and two tenures with the Minnesota Twins for a total of 11 seasons. Though born in the Netherlands, Blyleven was raised in California. He was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 1969 amateur draft and made his Major League debut the following year at the age of 19.

Blyleven, known for his wicked curveball, had one of his finest seasons in 1973. He led the American League in shutouts, pitched his only 20-win season, and was named an All-Star. Blyleven also pitched the first two of his four career one-hit games that season.

Blyleven was selected to the All-Star team twice (1973 and 1985). He lead the American League three times in shutouts. He pitched on two World Series winning teams (1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1987 Minnesota Twins). Despite never having lead either league in strikeouts, Blyleven ended his career third all-time in strikeouts behind Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton. (Blyleven currently ranks fifth.)

Blyleven was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.  In the same season, the Minnesota Twins retired number #28 in his honor.

About This Card
The back of his Topps card calls Blyleven "one of the finest young pitchers in the American League." More than a fine pitcher, Blyleven would go on to complete a Hall of Fame career.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

541 - Bob Bolin

About This Player
Bobby Bolin pitched in 13 big league seasons and his final four with the Boston Red Sox.  Bolin made his Major League debut in 1961 with the San Francisco Giants and started his career in relief.  Eventually, Bolin would serve in a combined starter/relief role during his tenure with the Giants.  Bolin finished 1968 with the National League's second-best ERA with 1.99; Bob Gibson was first with a record 1.12 ERA. In 1970, Bolin was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.  He was traded again that season to the Boston Red Sox and finished his career as a full-time reliever. In his final season in 1973, Bolin led the Red Sox bullpen with 15 saves.

About This Card
Comparing all of the Red Sox cards, I have covered so far, it looks like Bolin's photo was taken at the same time and location, most likely spring training, with Ken Tatum, John Curtis, Mike Garman, and John Kennedy.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

362 - Eddie Watt

About This Player
Eddie Watt pitched in ten Major Leagues seasons and the first eight of them with the Baltimore Orioles. Watt was signed as an amateur free agent by the Orioles and he made his big league debut in 1966. He started 13 games in his rookie season, but would continue his career exclusively as a relief pitcher.  Watt was a member of four American League Championship Orioles teams with three of them being World Series winners.

Watt pitched a season each with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs before playing in his final Major League game in 1975.  

Watt started the 1976 season on the Padres' AAA-affiliate Hawaii Islanders. He became a player-coach in the following year and pitched his last professional game in 1968.  He continued to coach in the minor leagues until retiring in 2003.

About This Card
One of the reasons I enjoy the design of the 1973 Topps set is because of its simplicity.  Simple portraits attract more attention simply because the design does not overshadow it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

403 - Sonny Jackson

About This Player
Sonny Jackson played in 12 Major League seasons split between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. Jackson made is big league debut with Houston in 1963 at the age of 18. After a few years seasoning in the minors, Jackson was established as the starting shortstop in 1966.  While still qualifying as a rookie, Jackson led the National League in singles (160) and sacrifice hits (27) and established his career high in batting average (.292).  Jackson also set a then record for most stolen bases by a rookie (49).  Despite his success, Jackson come in second to Tommy Helms in Rookie of the Year voting.

After five seasons in Houston, Jackson was traded to Atlanta. Although he struggled offensively, Jackson played seven seasons at shortstop and center fielder for this club.  Jackson played his final Major League game in 1974.

About This Card
The glasses that Jackson wears made its Topps card debut in 1970.