Thursday, September 22, 2011

584 - Chris Arnold

About This Player
Chris Arnold enjoyed six seasons with the San Francisco Giants from 1971 through 1976 as a utility infielder and pinch hitter.  Though he only hit four home runs during this career, half of them were off of current Hall of Famers: one came in his third major league at bat, against Phil Niekro on September 10, 1971 and the other came against Steve Carlton on May 1, 1974.  Still, one of the other two was a pinch-hit grand slam with two out in the bottom of the 9th inning during a comeback victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 1, 1973.

After his career ended with the Giants in 1976, Arnold spent another three years in Japan with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.  Arnold currently runs a successful sports agency, Professional Sports International, out of his home in Denver.

About This Card
I picked up this card, along with a few other high-number cards, at a local card show.  Normally, the high-number cards would cost about $2-3 in Ex-NrMt condition, but, fortunately, I found a dealer who was very sympathetic to set builders and charged me $20 for 30 high-numbers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

233 - Ed Kirkpatrick

About This Player
Ed Kirkpatrick enjoyed a 16-year career in the big leagues.  Also known as "Spanky," Kirkpatrick made his Major League debut with the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1962.  He was the target of the Royals' first trade just before their inaugural season in 1969.  Kirkpatrick spent five seasons in Kansas City and he got the last hit in Municipal Stadium in Kansas City on October 4, 1972.  Kirkpatrick also spent time with the Pirates, Rangers and Brewers.  Kirkpatrick played his final game in 1977.

In 1981, Kirkpatrick was in a car accident that relegated him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Kirkpatrick died on November 15, 2010 after battling throat cancer at the age of 66.

About This Card
Kirkpatrick is shown looking for a pop-up off of the Brewers, Johnny Briggs.  This play took place on June 17, 1972 at County Stadium in Milwaukee as "Spanky" caught the foul out in the bottom of the 4th inning.

Monday, September 19, 2011

317 - Danny Cater

About This Player
Danny Cater enjoyed 12 seasons in the Major Leagues and three of those seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Nicknamed "Carter" because of the newspaper's tendency to add the extra "r" to his name, Cater made his big league debut with the Phillies in 1964.  Cater had spent time with the Phillies, White Sox, Athletics, Yankees, Red Sox and Cardinals throughout his career playing at first base, left field and third base.

As a player, Cater had a reputation as an unassuming player.  From 1965 through 1971, Cater had over 500 plate appearances.  He was a good hitter at a time when batting averages were low finishing in the top ten in batting average three times and hitting a second-place .290 average in 1968 behind Carl Yastrzemski's league leading .301 average.  He was also known for his efficiency at the plate; manager Gene Mauch said of him during his rookie year, "he came up 10 times and saw 11 pitches."

For more information on Danny Cater:
"The Name is Carter-er, Cater" Sports Illustrated. May 19, 1969.

Cater played his final game in 1975.
"Cater, by the way, has the reputation of being able to figure out his batting average to four decimal places on his way down to first base." - Jim Bouton, Ball Four
About This Card
Danny Cater is shown wearing pinstripes, despite having been with Boston for the entire 1972 season.  Cater was traded to the Red Sox as part of a trade that sent pitcher Sparky Lyle to the Yankees.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

123 - Sandy Alomar

About This Player
Sandy Alomar played 15 seasons in the Major Leagues and six of those seasons with the California Angels.  Alomar made his big league debut in 1964 with the Milwaukee Braves.  He had bounced from the Braves to the Mets to the White Sox with whom he established himself as a starting second baseman.

Alomar was traded to the Angels in the middle of the 1969 season with whom he had his greatest success.  He played in 648 consecutive games from 1969 through 1973 earning him the nickname "The Iron Pony."  Alomar was also selected as an All-Star in 1970.  Alomar later played for the Yankees, with whom he would have his only post-season appearance, and finished his career with the Texas.

After his playing career ended, Alomar became a manager in the minor leagues and in his homeland Puerto Rico.  He later served as a Major League coach for the San Diego Padres (1986-1990), Chicago Cubs (2000-2002), Colorado Rockies (2003-2004) and New York Mets (2005-2009).

Alomar's two sons, Sandy Jr. and Roberto, both enjoyed lengthy Major League careers.  Sandy Jr., a Rookie of the Year and six-time All-Star, played in 20 seasons as a catcher with seven different clubs.  Roberto, a 12-time All-Star and ten-time Gold Glove winner, played in 17 seasons as a second baseman with seven different clubs and was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.

"Sandy can run. He'll create excitement. The fans will be looking for him to go every time he's on first. He has the flair of a Lou Johnson. His edge is that he is 10 years younger." - Angels coach Rocky Bridges on Alomar after his trade from the White Sox.

About This Card
During his six seasons with the California Angels, Alomar wore "4" from 1969 through 1971.  In the middle of the 1971 season, he switched to "2" (while teammate Tony Conigliaro switched to "4") and wore this number through 1972.  In 1973, Alomar switched to "24" and wore that up to his trade to the Yankees in the middle of the 1974 season.

Sandy is pictured in number "2" in this photograph.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Team Checklist - Atlanta Braves

About This Card
Yet another team checklist toward my 1973 Topps set.  Since the team checklists were distributed only in the final series packs, they are also considered short printed.

Friday, September 2, 2011

476 - All-Time Shutout Leader (Walter Johnson)

About This Player
Walter Johnson enjoyed an illustrious 21-year career with the Washington Senators from from 1907 through 1927.  As the premier pitcher of his era, "The Big Train" earned the American League MVP Award in 1913 and 1924, won the American League Triple Crown in 1913, 1918 and 1924 and places second on the all-time wins list and, for a long time, held the first spot on the all-time strikeout list.

Johnson holds the Major League record for shutouts at 110, a record that will never be broken.  Grover Cleveland is second on the shutouts list with 90 shutouts and Roy Halladay, age 34, is the current leader among active players with 19 shutouts.

After his playing career ended, Johnson would manage the Senators from 1929 through 1932 and later the Cleveland Indians from 1933 through 1935.  Johnson was part of the inaugural class elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936.  Johnson passed away in 1946 at the age of 59.

About This Card
This 1973 Topps card displays Walter Johnson's total number of shutouts at 113.  However, as baseball historians went back through box scores and records and corrections were made, Johnson's shutouts were updated to 110. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

71 - Johnny Briggs

About This Player
Johnny Briggs played in 12 big league seasons and parts of five seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.  Being from Paterson, New Jersey, Briggs had looked forward to a possible offer the New York Mets might have offer him.  However, a scout from the Philadelphia Phillies arrived to his house first and Briggs was signed as an amateur free agent with the Phillies.  He made his Major League debut in 1964.  Briggs spent eight seasons with the Phillies before he was traded to the Brewers in 1971 with whom he played his best baseball.  As a mainstay in the Brew Crew lineup, Briggs hit .253 and averaged 19 home runs and 64 RBI per season.  Briggs was traded again in the middle of the 1975 season to the Minnesota Twins.

The following year, Briggs signed a two-year contract to play in Japan with the Lotte Onions.  Contracting parasites from spoiled food cut his first season short and he did not return to Japan for a second season for fear of becoming sick again.

About This Card
Johnny Briggs is pictured here with fully grown muttonchops.  Briggs is clean shaven in his early Topps cards, but the sideburns started to grow in his 1970 Topps card.  The sideburns got thicker the two following years and were fully grown by 1973.  Briggs continued sporting the muttonchops through his final Topps card in 1976.