Monday, November 28, 2011

57 - Derrel Thomas

About This Player
Derrel Thomas enjoyed 15 seasons with seven different teams.  Thomas was selected by the Houston Astros with the first overall pick in the 1969 draft.  He made his big league debut in 1971 playing in only five games that year.  Thomas was traded the following season to the San Diego Padres with whom he played four seasons.  Thomas also spent time with the Giants, Dodgers, Expos, Angels and Phillies.  Throughout his Major League career, Thomas had played at every position except pitcher.

Thomas continues to remain active in baseball through coaching.  Starting in 2009, Thomas joined the Los Angeles Dodgers organization serving as a representative of the Dodgers Legend Bureau.

About This Card
The card back bears a wax stain, which was common for Topps cards before 1992.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Team Checklist - Oakland A's

About This Card
Another team checklist toward my 1973 Topps set.  As was commented on the last team checklist post, there are two variations for each of the team checklists: cards with one asterisk (*) and cards with two asterisks (**) on the back right next to the copyright information.  While I do consider myself somewhat of a completist in building this set (after all, I am including the team checklists as part of the set), I am not concerned with the variations.

Friday, November 18, 2011

124 - Jim Hardin

About This Player
Jim Hardin pitched six seasons in the big leagues and only this final season with the Atlanta Braves.  Hardin made his Major League debut with the Baltimore Orioles in 1967.  Hardin had his best season the following year in which he pitched to a 18-13 record with a 2.51 ERA and 16 complete games.  After four-and-a-half seasons in Baltimore, Hardin was traded to the New York Yankees.  He signed with the Atlanta Braves in 1972 with whom he would play his final season.

Hardin died on March 9, 1991 when the plane he was piloting crashed in Key West, Florida.  Shortly after take off, the propeller from his aircraft failed from fatigue.  The aircraft stalled and the plane crash while Hardin attempted to return to the airport to make an emergency landing.  It was widely reported that, during the plane's descent, Hardin steering the plane away from a baseball field filled with young children.  The plane came to rest in a parking lot of a TGI Fridays restaurant, which was under construction at the time.  Hardin is one of three Yankees to lose their lives in aviation accidents; the other two are catcher Thurman Munson (1979) and pitcher Cory Lidle (2006).  Hardin was survived by his wife and three children.

About This Card
This card is one of my lesser conditioned cards in the set with a crease throughout the card and the pen marking on the numbers.  Typically in my set building, I just a few lots of varying conditions and keep the best conditioned card for the set. Apparently, this was the best condition I had for Hardin.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

463 - Ken Tatum

About This Player
Ken Tatum enjoyed a brief six year career in the Major Leagues and three with the Boston Red Sox.  Tatum made his big league debut with the California Angels in 1969 and show himself as a top performer in his rookie season with a 7-2 record, 1.36 ERA, 22 saves and fourth place in Rookie of the Year voting.  In his sophomore season, Tatum pitched to a 7-4 record, 2.94 ERA and 17 saves.

Tatum joined the Red Sox prior to the 1973 season as the result of a trade.  The blog, Halos Haven, describes the trade as follows:
"[Ken Tatum] was traded along with Doug Griffin and Jarvis Tatum (no relation) to Boston for three players, one of them being Ray Jarvis, making it the only known MLB trade where two players with the same last name were traded for a player whose last name was the first name belonging to one of those two players." - Halos Haven
Since arriving in Boston, Tatum suffered a series of injuries and his performance declined.  After three seasons, a series of trades led to Tatum playing his final season with the White Sox in 1974.

About This Card
Ken Tatum, as the back of his Topps card states, was nicknamed after basketball star, "Goose" Tatum.  The nickname is not to be confused with Hall of Fame pitcher, Rich Gossage, also nicknamed "Goose."

Monday, November 14, 2011

382 - Mike Hegan

About This Player
Mike Hegan enjoyed 12 seasons in the Major Leagues and three seasons with the Oakland Athletics.  Hegan made his big league debut with the New York Yankees in 1964.  He played for only brief moments early in his career for the Yankees with 5 games in 1964, 13 games in 1966 and 68 games in 1967.  Hegan had his most prolific season in 1969 for the expansion Seattle Pilots; Hegan hit the first home run in Seattle Pilots history with his first at-bat and has the distinction as the only All-Star to represent the Pilots in their only year.  Hegan would begin to leave his mark defensively with a record errorless streak of 178 games at first base that started during his tenure with the Brewers in 1970 and ended as a backup first baseman with Oakland in 1973.  Hegan was a member of the 1972 World Series Oakland A's team with which he served primarily as a left-handed pinch hitter and backup to Mike Epstein at first base.  Hegan would later play again for the Yankees and finish his career with a second stint with the Brewers.

After retiring from baseball, Hegan spent the next 12 seasons as a color commentator for the Milwaukee Brewers.  He joined the Cleveland Indians in 1989 and served as a broadcaster until the end of this season.  Next year, Hegan will transition from the booth to a role as an alumni ambassador with the Indians.

Mike's father, Jim Hegan, spent 17 seasons primarily as a catcher and was a five-time All-Star.  Jim and Mike are the first father and son combination to have won a World Championship.

About This Card
The cartoon on the back of the card highlights Hegan's early broadcasting interests.  During the offseason in 1970, Hegan began doing drive time sports reporting and TV interviews for WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

36 - Steve Barber

About This Player
Steve Barber enjoyed 16 seasons in the Major Leagues and two of them with the California Angels.  Barber was recognized most for his eight year tenure with the Baltimore Orioles.  Barber made his big league debut for the O's in 1960 and, while he had an American League sixth-best 3.22 ERA, he led the league in walks and wild pitches.  He soon became the ace of the pitching staff.  In 1961, he pitched to a record of 18-12 and tied for the league lead with eight shutouts.  In 1963, he became the first pitcher in modern Orioles' history to win 20 games in a season with a 20-13 record, 180 strikeouts and a 2.73 ERA.  He was selected as an All-Star in 1963 and 1966; tendonitis kept Barber out of the All-Star Game in 1966 and also kept him out of the Orioles' World Series win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On April 30, 1967, Barber pitched 8-2/3 innings against the Tigers before being relieved by Stu Miller to combine for a no-hitter in a 2-1 loss.  The Orioles started the ninth inning with a 1-0.  Barber walked the first two batters.  He then retired the two batters after.  He threw a wild pitch that lead the tying run score.  After another walk, Barber was pulled.  The go-ahead run scored on an error and Stu Miller got the final out.

For more information:
Blogging Baseball: Another No Hit Loss...

Barber was known both for his electric fastball and his wildness.  Fellow starting pitcher, Jim Palmer, spoke highly of Barber, saying that, "[Barber] had some elbows problems, but he was a very accomplished pitcher.  And he was a good guy."  Former teammate and outfielder, Paul Blair described Barber as "the perfect teammate."  Barber still ranks 7th all-time among Orioles pitchers with 918 strikeouts.

Barber spent the latter half of his career as a journeyman pitcher plagued by injuries.  In the middle of the 1967 season, Barber was traded to the New York Yankees.  He later pitched for the Seattle Pilots, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, California Angels and San Francisco Giants.  Barber played his final game in 1974.

Barber passed away on February 4, 2007 from pneumonia at the age of 68.

About This Card
This card features a shot of Steve Barber on his follow-through from the mound.  While Barber had been a starting pitcher for the better part of his career, he pitched almost exclusively in relief from 1970 onward.

Friday, November 4, 2011

589 - Ken Forsch

About This Player
Ken Forsch pitched 16 seasons in the big leagues and 11 of them with the Houston Astros.  Forsch made his made his Major League debut with the Astros in 1970.  After the 1980 season, Forsch was traded to the California Angels for Dickie Thon.  Throughout his career, Forsch pitched both as a starter and a reliever.  He was selected as an All-Star in 1976 and 1981.

On April 7, 1979 Forsch pitched a no-hitter and shut out the Atlanta Braves.  His brother, Bob Forsch, threw two no-hitters with the Cardinals.  Thus, both pitchers became the only set of brothers to pitch no-hitters in Major League history.

Forsch pitched his final game in 1986.

About This Card
Bob Forsch passed away suddenly last night at the age of 61.  It just seemed fitting to feature his brother, Ken, today.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

232 - Ken Singleton

About This Player
Ken Singleton enjoyed 15 seasons as a right fielder and designated hitter in the Major Leagues and three of them with the Montreal Expos.  Singleton, a former first round draft pick in 1967 out of Hofstra University, made his big league debut with the New York Mets in 1970.  After two seasons with the Mets, Singleton was traded to the Expos as part of a package that sent Rusty Staub to New York.  Singleton establish himself as a starting right fielder during his three years in Montreal.  Singleton was traded again in 1975 and enjoyed his best years with the Baltimore Orioles.  As an Oriole, Singelton was selected to three All-Star Games, including a start in left field in 1981.  He was also a part of two American League Championship teams in 1979 and 1983 and helped Baltimore to a World Series win in 1983.  In addition, Singleton earned the Roberto Clemente Award in 1982.  Singleton ended his 15 year career in 1984.

Singleton currently works as a commentator and color analyst for the New York Yankees on the YES Network.

About This Card
Singleton's 1973 card describes him as the Expos' second leading hitter and the club leader in runs, hits and doubles from the previous season. Singleton would go on to have an even better season in 1973 with a .302 batting average, 23 home runs and 103 RBI.  He also led the National League with a .425 on base percentage.  Singleton also proved to be a defensive specialist with a league leading 20 assists from the outfield.