Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2 - Rich Hebner

About This Player
Rich Hebner enjoyed 18 seasons in the big leagues and his first 11 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Hebner had one plate appearance in 1968 and established himself the following year as the team's starting third baseman.  He was also part of the 1971 World Series Championship team; in that series against the Orioles, Hebner accounted for all of the Pirates' runs in the 11-3 loss in Game 2.  Hebner later played for the Phillies, Tigers, Mets and Cubs throughout his playing career.

About This Card
The Rich Hebner card is one of the worse conditioned cards in my set.  I had gotten this one from the first lot purchased on eBay to start off the set.  Early in my set building, condition is not very important and I am looking just to build up the set.  Usually with the commons, I am not looking actively to replace worse conditioned cards, but, many times I find a copy in better condition from later lots.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

236 - Tito Fuentes

About This Player
Tito Fuentes enjoyed 13 season in the big leagues and nine of them with the San Francisco Giants.   The Giants signed Fuentes as an amateur free agent out of Cuba in 1962.  Fuentes was one of the last Cuban players signed before the United States embargo on Cuba.  Fuentes made his Major League debut in 1965 and spent his first few seasons as a utility infielder.  He established himself as the Giants' starting second baseman in 1971.

Fuentes was known for his defense although his fielding proficiency appears to have varied throughout his career.  In 1973, Fuentes led the National League with 478 assists and an NL record .993 fielding percentage, yet Joe Morgan was selected as the National League Gold Glove Award Winner at second base.  However for four seasons (1971, 1972, 1976 and 1977), Fuentes lead the league in errors.

Fuentes was traded in 1975 to the San Diego Padres where he played for two seasons.  Fuentes later finished his career with a season in Detroit and another in Oakland.

Tito Fuentes was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame on February 23, 2002 in San Francisco.

About This Card
Cards featuring in-game action are some of my favorites in the 1973 Topps set.  In this photograph, we have what appears to be Tito Fuentes after sliding into second base and taking out another player at Candlestick Park.  It is not clear to me if he is safe.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

527 - Dan McGinn

About This Player
Dan McGinn was a left-handed pitcher who enjoyed five seasons in the Major Leagues.  McGinn made his rookie debut in 1968 with the Reds.  McGinn was later drafted by the Expos in the expansion draft and was an inaugural member of the team in 1969.  McGinn also belted the first home run in Expos history on Opening Day that year.  McGinn played his final season with the Cubs in 1972.

About This Card
This 1973 Topps card would be McGinn's final baseball card.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

385 - Jim Perry

About This Player
Jim Perry pitched 17 seasons in the Major Leagues and ten with the Minnesota Twins.  Perry made his debut in 1959 with the Cleveland Indians and came in second in voting for American League Rookie of the Year.  Perry had his best years after being traded to the Twins in 1963.  In 1970, Perry pitched to an American League leading 24 wins, 3.04 ERA and a Cy Young Award.  Perry was a three-time All-Star and currently ranks 84th all time in wins.

Jim Perry is the brother of Gaylord Perry, who enjoyed a 22 year career and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.

About This Card
Although Jim Perry appears as in a Twins uniform in the 1973 set, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Danny Fife and cash just before Opening Day that year.

Monday, June 14, 2010

451 - John Vukovich

About This Player
John Vukovich enjoyed ten seasons in the Major Leagues and two of them with the Milwaukee Brewers.  Vukovich began and ended his career with the Phillies and played as a utility infielder and later as a coach.

Vukovich passed away on March 8, 2007.

About This Card
Why does this portrait show only the bottom of the bill of his cap?  Vukovich was traded from the Phillies to the Brewers prior to the 1973 season.  In this case, it must have been very convenient to use this photo instead of having to airbrush an "M" logo on his cap.

Also, having made his Major League debut in 1970, Vukovich had not yet been featured on a Topps card until this set.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

261 - Pat Kelly

About This Player
Pat Kelly enjoyed 15 seasons in the Major Leagues and six of them with the Chicago White Sox.  Kelly made his Major League debut with the Minnesota Twins in 1967.  Kelly was selected by the Kansas City Royals for the 1969 expansion draft and established himself as a starting right fielder.  Kelly was later traded to the White Sox in 1971 with whom he enjoyed his best seasons.  His time in Chicago also led to his selection for the All-Star Game in 1973.  He would later spend time with the Orioles and Indians.

After his retirement from baseball, Kelly became an ordained minister.  Kelly passed away October 2, 2005 from a heart attack.

About This Card
Pat Kelly poses at Yankee Stadium in the White Sox away blues.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

95 - Steve Blass

About This Player
Steve Blass enjoyed a ten year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Blass made his Major League debut in 1964 and became a stable in the Pirates' pitching rotation on 1966.  Blass had this finest moment in the 1971 World Series in which he pitched for two complete game victories allowing only seven hits and two earned runs through all 18 innings.  Blass followed in 1972 with his finest season pitching to a 19-8 record, 2.49 ERA, 11 complete games, an All-Star selection and second place in the Cy Young Award vote.

However, Steve Blass might be even more remembered for what followed in the next season.  In 1973, Blass experienced a sudden loss of control of his pitching and was unable to find the plate.  His troubles had coined the term "Steve Blass Disease."  He pitched to a 3-9 record and a ballooning 9.83 ERA that season.  In 1974 after pitching one game, he was sent to the minors and never returned.

For more information on Steve Blass and his pitching troubles:
Sports Illustrated - April 15, 1974

Blass is currently a broadcast announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

About This Card
Steve Blass poses with great confidence after a stellar 1972 season.  Little did he know what would happen the following year.

Monday, June 7, 2010

601 - Rookie Catchers (Sergio Robles / George Pena / Rick Stelmaszek)

About These Players
Sergio Robles played only 16 games over three seasons.  Robles came to the Orioles as part of a trade that sent Frank Robinson to the Dodgers in 1971.  Robles was called up briefly the Orioles in 1972 and 1973 and again in 1976 for the Dodgers.

George Pena was a career minor league catcher with seven different organizations, but never broke in with a Major League club

Rick Stelmaszek played in three seasons with three different teams starting with the Washington Senators who moved to the Texas Rangers.  Stelmaszek has most of his Major League success as a bullpen coach and is currently in his 30th year as a coach with the Minnesota Twins.

About This Card
Topps included a subset of rookie cards featuring three players.  The rookie cards featuring multiple players had been a regular feature in all of Topps sets to include players who had either appeared briefly in the Major Leagues or were expected to appear.  Add in that these cards only appear in the last series of the 1973 set and these rookie card experience an inflated demand.  Robles and Pena appear on a Topps card for the first time in 1973 while Stelmaszek had appeared in the 1970 Topps set.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

153 - Al Hrabosky

About This Player
Al Hrabosky enjoyed 13 seasons in the Major Leagues and eight of them with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Hrabosky made his debut in 1970.  Nicknamed the "Mad Hungarian" and known for his character and pitching routine, Hrabosky established himself as an elite reliever on the Cardinals' roster in 1973.  His best season came in 1975 in which he pitch with a 1.66 ERA and a National League leading 22 saves and received the National League Fireman of the Year award.  Hrabosky would also spend time with the Royals and Braves.

After finishing his playing career, Hrabosky transitioned quickly to the broadcasting booth and serves as the color commentator for Cardinals broadcasts.

For more information on Al Hrabosky:
Al Hrabosky - The Mad Hungarian

About This Card
Al Hrabosky is shown on his card before sporting his signature Fu Manchu mustache that added to the mystique of "The Mad Hungarian."