Thursday, April 29, 2010

121 - Dave Rader

About This Player
Dave Rader enjoyed ten seasons in Major League Baseball with his first six as a member of the San Francisco Giants.  Rader was the Giants' first selection in the 1967 draft.  Rader came in second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1972.  Rader also caught Ed Halicki's no-hitter in 1975.  Rader finished his last four seasons playing one season each with the Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies and Red Sox.

About This Card
The card features an in-game shot at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

228 - Bobby Darwin

About This Player
Bobby Darwin played in nine Major League seasons for six different teams.  Darwin played in one Major League game in 1962 as a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels.  His next appearance came in 1969 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Darwin switched to the outfield and returned to the Major Leagues again in 1971.  In 1972, after being traded to the Twins, Darwin would establish himself as the starting right fielder for the next four seasons.  While finishing in the top ten in the American League for home runs and RBI in 1972 and 1974, Darwin also led the league in strikeouts in 1972, 1973 and 1974.  Darwin would later be traded to the Brewers, and then the Red Sox, and finally the Cubs.

About This Card
This would be the first card I have written about featuring a Minnesota Twin.  As a Twins fan, I'm surprised I had not written about a Twin until now.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

444 - Ken Brett

About This Player
Ken Brett made his Major League debut in 1967 with the Boston Red Sox at the age of 19.  While he only pitched in one game during the regular season, Brett pitched in two games during the World Series and was recognized as the youngest pitcher in World Series history.  Brett would later continue his career as a journeyman pitcher playing for 10 different teams during his 14 year career, including an All-Star selection in 1974.

Ken is the brother of George Brett, who played 21 seasons for the Kansas City Royals and went on to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Ken Brett passed away on November 18, 2003 from brain cancer.

About This Card
Brett was a member of the Phillies in 1973, but played for the Brewers in 1972.  As such, this card is one example of photos that Topps had airbrushed to match the current team.  While the outlining of the hat is awkward and the stripes from the jersey collar still remain (although matched to Phillies colors), in my opinion, this card is one of the better airbrushing examples from Topps cards at the time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

168 - Jim Northrup

About This Player
Jim Northrup played in 12 Major League Baseball seasons with 11 of those with the Tigers.  Northrup started in all three outfield positions throughout his career.  His best season came in 1968 in which led the Tigers in hits and RBIs, finished 13th in the Most Valuable Player voting and played all seven games in the World Series victory.  Northrup was traded to the Expos in 1974 and went to the Orioles later that same year.

After retiring from Major League Baseball, Northrup continued to remain active in sports.  Northrup played professional softball for two seasons.  He later became a color analyst for the Tigers.  Northrup was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

About This Card
The cartoon on the card displays one fun fact of Northrup's athleticism.

Monday, April 19, 2010

655 - Clay Kirby

About This Player
Clay Kirby played eight seasons in the Major Leagues and his first five as a member of the San Diego Padres. One of the original pitchers in the Padres inaugural season in 1969, Kirby led the National League in losses that year.  Kirby would later pitch on Opening Day in 1972 and 1973 for the Padres.  Trades would later send Kirby to the Reds in 1974 and again to the Expos in 1976.

Kirby died from a heart attack in 1991 at the age of 43.

A tribute to Clay Kirby can be found from the Centre View Southern Edition newspaper.

About This Card
The Clay Kirby card is one of a number of high series cards.  The high series cards (numbers 528 through 660) were printed in lower production numbers than the rest of the set and command a premium, especially to set collectors.

As I go back through the years of building Topps set, the high numbered cards, in relation to the rest of the set, will be a consideration in how I would be looking for cards to build each set.  1973 was the last year Topps issued their cards in multiple series (until 1993).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

22 - Ted Abernathy

About This Player
Ted Abernathy played for seven different teams over 14 Major League seasons.  Abernathy recorded 148 saves throughout this career and lead the National League in saves in 1965 and 1967.  Abernathy finished the last three seasons of his career with the Royals and in his final year, 1972, was the oldest player in the Major Leagues at that time.

Abernathy was known for his submarine pitch.  He developed that pitching motion, switching from a three-quarters overhand motion, shortly after shoulder surgery left this career in doubt.
"With the unique underhand motion, (Ted) Abernathy's curveball rises and his fastball sinks. He's almost impossible to hit when you only get one shot at him. You see the overhand stuff all the time, then this guy comes in there throwing the ball from out of the ground." - 1971 Kansas City Royals Yearbook
Abernathy passed away on December 16, 2004.

About This Card
The 1973 Topps Ted Abernathy card is his final regular issue card.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

254 - Bill Stoneman

About This Player
Bill Stoneman played eight seasons in the Major Leagues with five of them being with the Montreal Expos.  Stoneman started his career with the Cubs, but was one of the original Expos drafted in the expansion draft for the 1969 season and soon established himself as the team's ace.  Stoneman pitched two no-hitters with the Expos: the first against the Phillies in 1969 and the second against the Mets in 1972.  His second no-hitter was the first in Major League Baseball history thrown outside of the United States.

After the end of his playing career, Stoneman worked his way up through the Expos' front office and, eventually, became the team's general manager in 1987.  Stoneman became the general manger for the Angels in 1999 and oversaw that team's only World Series team.  Currently, he serves in a consultant role for the Angels.

About This Card
One of the flavors about most of the Topps vintage sets are the cartoons on the back of the card that add some fun information about the player and the cartoons add flavor to the 1973 Topps set.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

597 - Mickey Rivers

About This Player
Mickey Rivers played 15 seasons in the Major Leagues and six of them with the Angels.  Known as "Mick the Quick," Rivers only played 30 games in 1973, but established himself as the starting center fielder the following year.  Rivers lead the American League in triples in 1974 and 1975 and in stolen bases in 1975.  Rivers enjoyed his best seasons with the Yankees after being traded for the 1976 season.  With the Yankees, Rivers was a one-time All-Star and played in three World Series.  Rivers spent his final seasons with the Rangers.

About This Card
I like the location of this photo with the big "A" in the background.  Despite the many changes to Angels Stadium since 1973, the big "A" remains a major landmark in Anaheim today.

Friday, April 9, 2010

470 - Mike Cuellar

About This Player
Mike Cuellar was a Cuban-born pitcher who played in 15 big league seasons.  Cueller was a four-time 20-game winner, a four-time All-Star and the Cy Young Award winner in 1969.  He played his best years with the Orioles with whom he pitched in three World Series.  He was also one of four Orioles pitchers in 1971 to win 20 games.

Cuellar passed away on April 2, 2010 at the age of 72.

About This Card
It cannot be seen in the photo, but there is a crease down the middle of the card.  For the most part when building the set I have not really been concerned about condition.  Usually when I start building from lots, I expect to find cards in varying conditions.  The condition adds to the flavor and the history of the card itself.

Friday, April 2, 2010

126 - Jim Brewer

About This Player
Jim Brewer enjoyed 17 seasons in the Major Leagues, including 12 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, three World Series appearances and an All-Star selection in 1973.  Brewers has 132 saves throughout his career, including 125 with the Dodgers.  Brewer appears in 474 games for the Dodgers, the third most in club history behind Don Sutton and Don Drysdale.  Brewer, with advice from Warren Spahn, developed a screwball to become one of the National League's most effective relievers in his time.

Brewer is probably best known for an incident during his rookie season with Billy Martin.  Linked below is an article from The Milwaukee Journal about the incident:
Baseball Must Share Martin's Guilt In The Jim Brewer Incident

Brewer died in 1987 from injuries resulting from a car accident the day before his 50th birthday.
"You have to take good care of yourself. But the big thing is not losing your interest. A lot of guys I 've known have just gotten tired of the lifestyle and given up on themselves. I've had two operations on my arm and I've had back problems. It would have been easy for me to quit, but I haven't. That's because I feel like I want to play baseball all my life."
- Jim Brewer

About This Card
I did not know much about Jim Brewer before writing this entry.  I find the fun facts on the backs of the cards interesting and the fact about Brewer led me into more research, including his tie-in to Warren Spahn and, despite the Billy Martin incident, Brewer was able to enjoy a lengthy career in baseball.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

356 - Chuck Tanner MGR

About This Manager
Chuck Tanner spent 19 seasons as a manager in Major League Baseball.  Six of his seasons as manager were spent with the White Sox.  In 1972, Tanner led the Chicago to a second place finish.  He led them to a fifth place finish in 1973.  Tanner is probably best remembered for his time with the Pirates which includes a World Series championship in 1979.

Tanner also spent eight seasons as an left fielder with the Braves, Cubs, Indians and Angels from 1955 through 1962.

About This Card
I like that the manager cards in 1973 also feature the coaches.  Throughout the history of Topps baseball, manager cards have been a regular issue, but including coaches has been on and off.  Personally, I would like to see manager/coaches card in new sets, such as we had seen in 2008 Topps Heritage.

It is also amazing to see coaches on these manager cards who have also had significant careers as players, such as Johnny Sain, the former Braves and Yankees pitcher who was a three-time All-Star and four-time 20-game winner.