Wednesday, August 31, 2011

340 - Nate Colbert

About This Player
Nate Colbert enjoyed ten years in the Major Leagues and six of them with the San Diego Padres.  Colbert made his big league debut with the Houston Astros in 1966.  He played very briefly in 1966 and 1968.  However, Colbert established himself as a Major League starter after he was selected by the Padres in the expansion draft and named the starting first baseman.  Colbert responded with five seasons with more than 20 home runs, four seasons with more than 80 RBI and three All-Star selections.  Colbert still holds the Padres club record for home runs with 163.

Colbert's finest day came on August 1, 1972 in which he five home runs and drove in 13 runs in a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves.  Colbert tied Stan Musial's record for home runs in a doubleheader, but broke Musial's previous record of 11 RBI.  Coincidentally, Colbert was in the stands with his dad during the doubleheader in which Musial set that record on May 2, 1954.

For more information:
Nate Colbert's Incredible Day

After the 1974 season, Colbert was traded to the Detroit Tigers.  He would eventually play for the Montreal Expos and the Oakland A's before back problems forced his retirement at age 30.

About This Card
Starting from the Padres' inaugural season, Nate Colbert had been the face of the franchise and this photograph shows that clearly.  After being traded in 1974, the franchise spotlight fell to future Hall of Famer, Dave Winfield.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

486 - Danny Ozark MGR

About This Manager
Danny Ozark spent eight seasons as a Major League manager and seven of them with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1973 to 1979.  Before arriving to the big leagues, Ozark spent 19 seasons in the Dodgers' minor league system.  Ozark joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965 as a coach on Walter Alson's staff and served for eight seasons until he was hired to manage the Phillies.

Ozark was hired by the Phillies in 1973 and took over a team that was in last place the previous season.  Ozark led the team to a last place finish in 1973, but improved the ball club in the following years.  Ozark led the Phillies team that included Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton in 1976 to a club record 101 wins and to three straight first place finishes in the National League East from 1976 to 1978.  However, the Phillies would lose in three straight NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Phillies acquired Pete Rose for the 1979 season, but a disappointing record led to Ozark's dismissal on August 31 of that year.

Ozark would again become a Major League manager in 1984 taking over the Giants after Frank Robinson's dismissal.

Ozark died in 2009 at the age of 85.

About This Card
In addition to Danny Ozark, this card also features C.B. Beringer (career minor league pitcher), Bill DeMars (who played briefly for the A's and Browns), Ray Rippelmeyer (who played briefly for the Senators) and Bobby Wine (former Phillies and Expos shortstop for 12 seasons).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

285 - Don Kessinger

About This Player
Don Kessinger played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues and his first 12 with the Chicago Cubs.  Kessinger made his big league debut in 1964.  He established himself quickly as the team's starting shortstop in 1965 and played the first of nine consecutive seasons in which he would share the middle infield tandem with second baseman, Glenn Beckert.  During his tenure with the Cubs, Kessinger earned six All-Star selections, including four in the starting lineup.  Regarded as one of the game's best defensive specialists during his time, Kessinger led the National League in assists three times and received two Gold Glove Awards.  In 1969, he set a Major League record at that time with a streak of 54 consecutive games at shortstop without committing an error.

After the 1975 season, Kessinger was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.  After one-and-a-half seasons with the Cardinals, he was traded again to the Chicago White Sox, with whom he would finish his career.  In 1979, Kessinger was named the White Sox' player-manager and served in this role until his retirement on July 31.

Kessinger's son, Keith, played briefly for the Cincinnati Reds in 1993.

About This Card
Don Kessinger is shown here in his "lefty" pose.  As an accomplished switch-hitter, Kessinger can be seen on Topps cards in both "left" and "righty" poses.  After hitting .201 in 1965, Cubs' manager, Leo Durocher, encouraged Kessinger to become a switch hitter.  His batting average improved greatly and Kessinger soon became the Cubs' lead off hitter in Durocher's lineup.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

110 - Bob Watson

About This Player
Bob Watson played in 19 seasons in the big leagues and his first 14 seasons with the Houston Astros.  Nicknamed "Bull," Watson was original a catcher in the minors but converted to a first baseman and left fielder by the time he made his Major League debut in 1966.  While with the Astros, Watson hit .297, drove in more than 100 runs twice and was selected to the All-Star team twice.  Watson is credited in Major League Baseball history as scoring the 1,000,000th run.  On May 4 at 12:32 PM with Watson on second base, Milt May hit a three-run home at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.  Despite the lack of in-game urgency, Watson sprinted to home plate.  At the same time, the Cincinnati Reds' Dave Concepcion had just hit a home run and Watson scored the 1,000,000th run four seconds before Concepcion reached home plate.

For more information on baseball's one millionth run:
The Machine Director's Cut: The Millionth Run - Joe Posnanski

Another highlight of Watson's career: September 15, 1979, after having been traded to the Red Sox, Watson hit for the cycle.  Watson had already hit for the cycle with the Astros in 1977, thus, becoming the first player to hit for the cycle in both the American and National Leagues.

Watson also spent parts of three seasons with the Yankees, with whom he would have his only postseason experience.  He later spent parts of his final three seasons with the Braves before ending his playing career.

Watson continued to remain in Major League Baseball in the front office.  After the 1993 season, he was named general manager of the Houston Astros, becoming the first African-American to serve as a GM in the Major Leagues.  He also served as the GM for the Yankees in 1996 and 1997.  After retiring as the GM of the Yankees, Watson became Vice President of Rules and On-Field Operations for Major League Baseball.  Watson retired from this post in 2010.

About This Card
The back of Watson's card remarks his highlight as one of four Astros to hit over 20 homers and drive in more than 80 runs in 1972.

UPDATE: However, Watson only hit 16 home runs that season.  Lee May (29), Jim Wynn (24),  Doug Rader (22) and Cesar Cedeno (22) are the four Astros who his over 20.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

533 - Larry Stahl

About This Player
Larry Stahl played in ten Major League seasons as a back up outfielder and pinch hitter.  Stahl made his big league debut with the Kansas City Athletics in 1964.  He would later play for the New York Mets and San Diego Padres and spend his final season with the Cincinnati Reds.  Stahl finished his career with the 1973 National League Championship Series in which he hit 2-for-4 as a pinch hitter in the series loss to the Mets.

Stahl, while with the Padres, might be best known for his part in breaking up a perfect game against Milt Pappas of the Cubs.  September 2, 1972, after retiring the first 26 batters, Stahl is brought in to pinch hit against Pappas.  After two strikes calls, the home plate umpire calls the next four pitches balls and Stahl is walked.  The following batter is retired on a pop-up leaving Pappas with a no-hitter.

For more information:
What Really Happened? An Interview with Major League Pitching Great Milt Pappas

About This Card
The illustration on the back of Stahl's card highlights his 503 foot home run hit at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City in 1966.  To add more to details of the dimensions in Municipal Stadium, A's owner Charlie Finley had a tendency to experiment with moving the fences in and out during the seven seasons the A's resided in Kansas City.

Sports Illustrated described Stahl's home run as follows:
In KANSAS CITY (4-3) there is a 40-foot screen atop the fence to frustrate sluggers, but Larry Stahl hit a 503-foot homer and Ken Harrelson hit one 425 feet, giving the team a total of three at home for the season. - Sports Illustrated: May 23, 1966

Thursday, August 18, 2011

137 - Jim Beauchamp

About This Player
Jim Beauchamp played in ten Major League seasons and his final two seasons with the New York Mets.  Beauchamp made his big league debut with the Cardinals in 1963.  Beachamp also spent time with the Astros, Braves and Reds.  During his time with the Mets, Beauchamp served primarily as a pinch hitter and backup first baseman.  His playing career ended in the 1973 World Series in which he went hitless in four pinch-hit appearances.

Beauchamp died on December 25, 2007 after a long battle with leukemia.

About This Card
Beauchamp (pronounced BEE-champ) translated from French means "beautiful field."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

42 - Mike Andrews

About This Player
Mike Andrews enjoyed eight seasons in the Major Leagues and three seasons with the Chicago White Sox.  Andrews made his big league debut with the Red Sox in 1966.  The following year, he became the team's starting second baseman and led the American League in sacrifice hits.  He also earned an All-Star selection in 1969.

After five seasons in Boston, Andrews was traded along with Luis Alvarado to Chicago for Luis Aparicio.  Andrews immediately became the White Sox' regular second baseman in 1971.  The following year, Andrews began to decline defensively as he struggled with a bad back.  In 1973, Andrews started the season as the White Sox' first designated hitter.  While he could no longer play regularly in the field, he struggled at the plate and was released in the middle of the season.

July 31, 1973, Andrews was signed as a free agent by the Oakland A's at the request of A's manager and former Red Sox coach, Dick Williams.  Andrews was part of the A's postseason roster for the 1973 World Series.  In Game 2 of the series, Andrews entered the game in the 8th inning as a pinch hitter and took over at second base.  In the 12th inning of that game, Andrews committed two errors which led to a Mets' victory.  A's owner, Charlie Finley, forced Andrews to sign a statement after the game to declare himself disabled and, thus, uneligible for the remainder of the series.  With his teammates and manager, Dick Williams, rallying in his defense, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn force Finley to reinstate Andrews.  Andrews pinch hit in the 8th inning of Game 4, which became his final plate appearance in the Major Leagues.

Andrews played one season of baseball in Japan before retiring.

Andrews had served more than 30 years chairman of the Jimmy Fund of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  Andrews has been involved with the Jimmy Fund since his days with the Red Sox and helped raise money for research and treatment for adult and childhood cancers.  Andrews stepped down from his role as chairman in 2009.

About This Card
Mike Andrews is shown in this photograph turning a double play.  Not sure who #33 is sliding into second.  The consensus on Chris Stufflestreet's 1973 Topps Photography blog seems to be the Royals' Bob Oliver at a spring training game.

Monday, August 15, 2011

608 - Rookie Pitchers (Steve Busby / Dick Colpaert / George Medich)

About These Players
Steve Busby enjoyed eight seasons with the Kansas City Royals.  After his debut in 1972, Busby quickly became one of baseball's stars with two All-Star selections, a 20-win season in 1974 and two no-hitters.  However, Busby was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff in 1976.  He subsequently became the first player to undergo rotator cuff surgery.  While Busby was able to pitch for three more seasons after the surgery, he never regained his previous form and was out of the Majors after 1980.

Dick Colpaert played only one season for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  In 1970, pitched a total of 10-1/3 innings over eight games.  Colpaert was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 1972 Rule 5 Draft, but never pitched a game for the Tribe.

George Medich spent 11 seasons in the big leagues and four with the New York Yankees.  Better known as "Doc," Medich received his nickname early in his career and while he was a medical student at the University of Pittsburgh.  By the end of his career, Medich played for seven different teams.

About This Card
Busby, Colpaert and Medich all appear for their first times in the 1973 set.  Colpaert appears his only time in a Topps set and not with a team he played with in the Major Leagues.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

348 - Rennie Stennett

About This Player
Rennie Stennett enjoyed 11 seasons in the Major Leagues and his first nine with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Stennett made his big league debut in 1971.  As a Pirates, Stennett had been a part of the division winning teams in 1972, 1974 and 1975 and part of the World Series winning team in 1979.

On September 1, 1971 in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Stennett started at second base as part of the first all-black starting lineup in the history of Major League Baseball.

For more information on the Major League Baseball's first all-black starting lineup:
Bruce Markusen: The First All-Black Lineup

Over his first three seasons, Stennett was used primarily as a back up at second base.  In 1974, Stennett earned the starting second base role over Dave Cash and, batting from the leadoff position, responded with a .291 average, 84 runs, 56 RBI, and a career-high 196 hits.

On September 16, 1975, Stennett went 7-for-7 as the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs 22-0.  Stennett became the only player in the 20th century to hit 7-for-7 in a nine-inning game and the Pirates set the record for the largest winning score in a shutout.

For more information on Stennett's 7-for-7 performance:
Baseball Digest: The Game I'll Never Forget - Rennie Stennett

Although known for his defense prowess at second base, in had been having an outstanding season at the plate in 1977.  Stennett had been .336 for the season and has a career high 28 stolen bases before he suffered an injury on August 21, 1977.  Stennett broke his right leg while sliding into second base. He was out for the rest of the year and the injury would hamper his performance through the rest of his career.

After the 1979 season, the Giant signed Stennett as a free agent.  After two years, Stennett was released.

About This Card
Rennie Stennett is listed on the card as an outfielder.  In 1972, Stennett played 41 games in the outfield.  However, he played 49 games at second base.  Stennett would later become the club's regular second baseman.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

203 - World Series Game 1

About This World Series Game
The 1972 World Series matched the Cincinnati Reds against the Oakland A's.  The Reds would play in their second World Series in three years and the A's would play in the World Series for the first time since moving to Oakland. 

With the series opening at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, the A's would get off to a good start.  Unexpectedly, A's catcher Gene Tenace hit home runs in the second inning and in the fifth inning and drive in all three runs to give the A's a 3-2 victory.  Tenace was the first player ever to hit home runs in his first two plate appearances in a World Series; the feat was later matched by Andruw Jones of the Braves in 1996.

About This Card
The photograph shows Gene Tenace scoring after his first home run in the second inning with George Hendrick waiting to congratulate him at the plate.  Reds catcher, Johnny Bench looks on.