Wednesday, October 31, 2012

204 - World Series Game 2

About This World Series Game
Jackie Robinson made his final public appearance before Game 2 of the 1972 World Series.  (He would pass away nine days later.)  In his speech, he expressed his desire to see a black manager of a Major League team, a barrier not yet broken at the time.

Game 2 became a close low-scoring match-up in which Catfish Hunter pitched eight strong innings and Rollie Fingers notched the save in the 2-1 win.  Joe Rudi was the hero of the game with a home run in the first inning off of Ross Grimsley and a game-saving catch against the left field wall in the ninth inning of a ball hit by Denis Menke.  The Reds futility showed with lead runners on in five innings but only scoring one run in the ninth.

This Fall Classic loss marked the Reds' seventh straight home loss in a World Series, including three losses in the 1961 World Series against the New York Yankees and two losses against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1970 World Series.

About This Card
The photograph shows a fielder's choice play in the bottom of the sixth inning.  With Dick Green playing second base and Mike Hegan manning first, Tony Perez grounded the ball which forced Johnny Bench out.  In this case, Perez beat the relay to first.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

324 - Al Downing

About This Player
Al Downing enjoyed 17 seasons as a Major League pitcher and his last seven seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Downing made his big league debut with the New York Yankees in 1961 and spent his first nine seasons with the team.  He earned his only All-Star appearance in 1967.  He was traded to the Oakland A's to start the 1970 season and finished that season traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.

After a dismal 1970 season in which he pitched to 5-13 record, Downing was traded to the Dodgers.  He responded to the trade with only 20 win season, five National League leading shutouts and the National League Comback Player of the Year Award.  Downing also finished third in the Cy Young balloting behind Ferguson Jenkins and Tom Seaver.

Downing is also known for giving up Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run on April 8, 1974.  Despite this, Downing made his third post-season appearance with a Dodgers team that lost to the Oakland A's in the World Series.

Downing pitched in his final game in 1977.

About This Card
I wonder if Topps drew their pitcher silhouette based on Al Downing or if Al Downing was asked to pose like the silhouette.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

146 - Woodie Fryman

About This Player
Woodie Fryman pitched 18 seasons in the Major Leagues and three of them with the Detroit Tigers.  Fryman made his big league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966.  Fryman was a two-time National League All-Star with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Montreal Expos.

However, Fryman might better known as the midseason acquisition of the American League Detroit Tigers.  After pitching to a 4-10 record and 4.36 ERA to start off his 1972 season, the Phillies placed Fryman on waivers.  He was picked up by the Tigers and pitched to a 10-3 record and 2.06 ERA for his new team.

His key moment came in the second game of the final series of the year against the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox scored on an unearned run in the first inning.  Pitching against Luis Tiant, Fryman allowed only two more hits after the first inning.  After giving up a hit in the eighth, Chuck Seelbach relieved Fryman and closed the game.  Fryman earned his 10th win and the Detroit Tigers clinched the American League East.

Fryman pitched his final game in 1983 with the Expos, with whom he had spent a total of eight seasons.

Fryman was inducted into the Montreal Expos Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.  Fryman passed away in 2011 at the age of 71 in his hometown in Ewing, Kentucky where he was a tobacco farmer.

About This Card
In another of many shots that Topps photographers took at Yankee Stadium, Fryman poses in his away uniform.  Traditionally, the Detroit Tigers don caps with the white "D" for home games and caps with the orange "D" for away games.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

469 - Dan Monzon

About This Player
Dan Monzon enjoyed only a brief career in the Major Leagues. Monzon was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1967.  He made his big league debut in 1972 and remained on the Twins roster for two seasons in a utility role.  Monzon was demoted back to the minor leagues in 1974, traded to the Montreal Expos organization and would remain in the minors through 1977.

Monzon started his next phase in baseball in 1978 as a minor league manager for the New York Mets organization. He later became a scout and covered Latin America for the Mets, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.  In 1995, the Boston Red Sox named Monzon their supervisor of Latin American scouting.

Monzon died tragically in an automobile accident the Dominican Republic in 1996 at the age of 49.

About This Card
Dan Monzon appeared in one of many shots that Topps photographers took at Yankee Stadium.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

422 - Bob Robertson

About This Player
Bob Robertson enjoyed 11 seasons in the Major Leagues and nine of them with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Robertson made his big league debut in 1967.  He missed the entire 1968 season because of a kidney obstruction and returned the following year.  Once Robertson established himself in the starting lineup in 1970, he appeared to have a bright future ahead of him.  Robertson hit 26 and 27 home runs in 1970 and 1971 respectively.  Robertson, described by Pirates announcer Bob Prince as "The Mount Savage Strongboy", was also the first ever to hit a home run in the upper deck at Three Rivers Stadium; the home run came off of San Diego Padres pitcher Steve Arlin in 1971.

His finest moment came in the 1971 postseason.  Robertson hit .438 with four home runs (three of which came in Game 2) and six RBI in the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants.  He later hit two home runs in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.  Robertson might be best known for the bunt sign he missed.  With Roberto Clemente on second, Willie Stargell at first and Mike Cuellar pitching, the third base coach called for a bunt.  With Robertson never having bunted and the Pirates down 2-0 in the series, his plan was to hit as far as possible.  In the replays, Clemente can be seen calling a time out, but Cuellar had thrown the pitch and Robertson had hit the ball into the right-center bleachers.  Robertson never knew his "mistake" until returning to the bench and seeing manager, Danny Murtaugh, with his cap over his face and laughing.

For more information:
Pirates remember Bob Robertson; so do O's

However, the following season, Robertson began experiencing chronic back problems and his production declined. After having surgery done on both knees in 1974, Robertson was reducing to being a backup player. Robertson later went on to play one season with the Seattle Mariners and another season with the Toronto Blue Jays before retiring in 1979.

About This Card
Out of all of the members of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bob Robertson probably looked most like a real life pirate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

267 - Lloyd Allen

About This Player
Lloyd Allen pitched in seven seasons as a big league reliever and five of them with the California Angels. 

Drafted in the first round of the 1968 draft, Allen looked to have a bright future ahead of him.  Allen made his Angels debut in 1969 and, at the age of 19, had the rare distinction of being the youngest player in the Major Leagues on the same team as the oldest player (Hoyt Wilhelm at age 46.) Allen pitched his finest season in 1971 with a 2.49 ERA and 15 saves that season.  In 1972, Allen had a 3.48 ERA and 5 saves on an Angels team that reached only 16 saves that season.

From there, Allen's career went downhill. Allen had trouble finding the strike zone and, in five games with the Angels, he recorded a 10.38 ERA.  Allen was traded to the Texas Rangers in 1973.  He was selected from waivers by Chicago White Sox in 1974.  Allen made his final Major League appearance in 1975.

About This Card
An Angel in the outfield, Lloyd Allen is pictured in the outfield at Anaheim Stadium.  Allen is also pictured in the outfield in his 1972 Topps cards.

Monday, October 15, 2012

38 - Mike Epstein

About This Player
Mike Epstein played nine seasons in the Major Leagues and two of them with the Oakland A's.  While playing for the Stockton Ports of the California League in 1965, Epstein was given the nickname "Super Jew" by rival coach, Rocky Bridges, after hitting a home run over the light tower in center field; Epstein would go on to lead the California League in batting average and home runs and earn the MVP for the league.

Epstein made his Major League debut in 1966 for the Baltimore Orioles with whom he played only six games.  When Epstein was demoted back to the minors, Epstein refused to report and was later traded to the Washington Senators.  Epstein had his finest season in 1969 in which he hit .278 with 30 home runs and 85 RBI in the reconstituted Senators' only winning season.

Epstein joined the Oakland A's when he was traded, along with pitcher, Darold Knowles, from the Rangers in May 1971.  In 1972, Epstein hit 26 home runs, third in the American League, for the World Champion A's.  During the playoffs, Epstein wore a black armband in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered during the Munich Olympics; teammates Ken Holtzman and Reggie Jackson also wore black armbands.

Epstein was traded to the Texas Rangers in 1973 and traded again mid-season to the California Angels.
“The reason I got traded from Oakland was because there was an altercation in the clubhouse in Texas. Reggie (Jackson) was spouting off, doing dumb things…and I wound up going over and knocking him out. He was unconscious on the floor…club owner Charlie Finley…got me on the phone and said, ‘I ought to trade you.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘You’re the bad apple.’ I said, ‘I would think that you would go and ask the other guys on the team. The bad apple is unconscious on the floor in the clubhouse.”
- Mike Epstein, Matzoh Balls and Baseballs

Epstein was inducted into the United States National Jewish Hall of Fame in 2004.  He ranks sixth all-time in home runs among Jewish Major Leaguers.

Currently, he runs the Mike Epstein Hitting school.

For more information:
Mike Epstein | Jewish Baseball News

About This Card
While Mike Epstein had already been an established Major League veteran in 1973, he's barely featured on the front of his own baseball card.  Epstein, shown in the bottom right, is holding Jim Spencer at first base.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

549 - Whitey Herzog MGR

About This Manager
Whitey Herzog, who had an eight-year playing career, took his first managerial post in 1973, taking over the previously Ted Williams run Texas Rangers club that lost 100 games in the previous season. Although he was signed to a two-year contract, Herzog was fired during the season so that the Rangers' owner, Bob Short, could hire Billy Martin, who had just been fired by the Detroit Tigers.  Short told reporters, "If my mother were managing the Rangers and I had the opportunity to hire Billy Martin, I'd fire my mother."

Herzog's managerial career only got better from there.  After an interim stint with the California Angels in 1974, Herzog joined the Kansas City Royals in 1975. During his five seasons with the Royals, Herzog led his teams to three consecutive American League West Division championships.
Herzog joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980, with whom he led the club to three National League pennants and a World Series Championship in 1982.

Herzog employed a strategy that the media called "Whiteyball."  He concentrated on pitching, speed and defense to win games. His lineups typically started with one or two base stealers at the top of the order, a power threat batting third or fourth protected by one or two lesser power hitters and followed with more base stealers.
"They seemed to think there was something wrong with the way we played baseball, with speed and defense and line-drive hitters. They called it 'Whitey-ball' and said it couldn't last."
- Whitey Herzog, White Rat - A Life in Baseball

Herzog was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 and his number "24" was retired by the St. Louis Cardinals.

About This Card
This card is the only manager card in the 1973 Topps set to feature only three coaches.  (All other manager cards feature four.)  This card also features former All-Star pitcher, Chuck Estrada, former second baseball, Chuck Hiller and former catcher, Jackie Moore.