Friday, July 23, 2010

61 - Batting Leaders (Billy Williams / Rod Carew)

About These Players
Billy Willams played 18 seasons with the Cubs and A's.  A Rookie of the Year in 1961 and a six-time All-Star, Williams won his only batting crown in 1972.  Williams was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1987.
Rod Carew played 19 seasons with the Twins and Angels.  A Rookie of the Year in 1967, an American League Most Valuable Player in 1977 and an 18-time All-Star, Carew led the American League in batting average seven times.  Carew won his second batting title in 1972 and another one in 1973.  Carew was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.

About This Card
For a League Leader card, you will no finer combination of two pure hitters in Rod Carew and Billy Williams: both Rookies of the Year and both Hall of Famers.  While Williams was nearing the end of his career, Carew was continuing to reach his peak.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

175 - Frank Robinson

About This Player
Frank Robinson enjoyed an illustrious 21 year career in the Major Leagues.  While Robinson played in only two seasons with the California Angels, he is better recognized for his playing time with the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles.  Robinson won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1956 and won two MVP Awards in 1961 with the Reds and 1966 with the Orioles.  Between the two teams, Robinson played in five World Series.  Robinson was also a 12-time All-Star. In 1975 and 1976, the last two years of his playing career, Robinson served as a player-manager and also became the first African-American manager in Major League history.  At the time of his retirement, Robinson ranked fourth on the all-time home run list.  Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.

About This Card
The Frank Robinson card is one of the few cards I bought as an upgrade.

Another interesting note about the photography is the white-out over his jersey.  Robinson has played for the Dodgers in 1972, but was traded to the Angels prior to the 1973 season.  While the "Dodgers" had been removed from the jersey, he still appears in Dodger blue.

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."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

489 - Jeff Burroughs

About This Player
Jeff Burroughs enjoyed 16 seasons in the Major Leagues and seven seasons with the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers organization.  Burroughs was the number one overall selection on the 1969 draft.  Burroughs enjoyed his best season in 1974 in which he hit .301 with 25 home runs a league-leading 118 RBI.  He was also selected at the starting left fielder in the All-Star Game that year and was named the American League Most Valuable Player.

Also in 1974, Burroughs would also become a key figure in Ten-Cent Beer Night.

For more information on Ten-Cent Beer Night:
The night beer and violence bubbled over in Cleveland

After his days in Texas, Burroughs would later play for the Braves (with whom he was also an All-Star), Mariners, A's and Blue Jays before retiring in 1985.

About This Card
The Jeff Burroughs card was a number of semi-star singles I needed for this set.  Prices for the semi-stars range widely, and, it seems like, depends on how many people are looking for singles in their 1973 Topps sets for that week.  This one I bought for $2 on eBay.

Monday, May 24, 2010

553 - Mickey Scott

About This Player
Mickey Scott enjoyed a five year career as a middle reliever for the Orioles, Expos and Angels.  Scott was originally drafted by the White Sox and later traded to the Orioles prior to his rookie season in 1972.

About This Card
While this card is Mickey Scott's third regular issue Topps card, he had his rookie card in 1970... two years before his Major League debut.  While it is very common today for a player to have a rookie card years before his debut, this was not common in 1970.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

231 - Bill Parsons

About This Player
Bill Parsons enjoyed quick success as a Major League pitcher followed by a quick exit.  Parsons placed second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1971 after a stellar rookie season pitching a 13-17 record with an ERA of 3.20 and four shutouts.  Parsons experienced similar success in 1972 with a 13-13 record, 3.93 ERA and two shutouts.  However, Parson experienced a huge downturn with a 3-6 record and a 6.79 ERA in 1973.  He was traded in 1974 to the Oakland A's where he only pitched 2 innings over 4 games.

About This Card
As I go through each card in the 1973 Topps baseball set, the action photography sets itself apart further than any other Topps set from the 1970's.  While Topps started using more action photography in 1971 and 1972, the action is taken to a further degree in 1973.  I think the reason the card design is much simpler compared to other Topps sets was because Topps wanted to emphasize the photography.

In the case of this card, Parson is featured in game at the old Milwaukee County Stadium.

You may also want to follow the 1973 Topps Photography blog for another take specifically on the photography used in the set.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

436 - Jim McAndrew

About This Player
Jim McAndrew played seven seasons in the Major Leagues and six of them with the New York Mets.  Although he had spent most of his career as a spot starter, McAndrew enjoyed his best season in 1972 in which he tallied a 11-8 record with a 2.80 ERA.

One blogger, Mets Guy in Michigan, describes Jim McAndrew as being in the right place at the right time.  Although he made his debut on a bad 1968 Mets team, he did have the fortune to play in the 1969 Amazin' Mets World Series team and on the 1973 National League Championship team.

More about Jim McAndrew can be found here:
Jim McAndrew and Unforseen Opportunities

About This Card
Despite having played the entire 1973 season with the Mets and pitching for the Padres in 1974, this 1973 Topps card would be McAndrew's final regular issue card.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

128 - Ted Sizemore

About This Player
Ted Sizemore enjoyed 12 seasons in the Major Leagues and five of those with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Sizemore made his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1969 and won the National League Rookie of the Year award that same year.  While Sizemore made his debut as a shortstop, he moved to second base after the Dodgers acquired Maury Wills.  He was traded to the Cardinals in 1971 and later traded back to the Dodgers in 1976.  Sizemore also spent time with the Cubs and Red Sox before playing his last game in 1980.

About This Card
The cartoon states that "Ted was originally a catcher."  By the time of this card, Sizemore had not played any Major League games as a catcher, but he played behind the plate twice for the Dodgers in 1976 and twice again for the Red Sox in 1979.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

495 - Tommy Helms

About This Player
Tommy Helms enjoyed 14 big league seasons, including four with the Houston Astros.  Helms made his Major League debut in 1964 with the Cincinnati Reds.  Helms won the National League Rookie of the Year.  With the Reds, he was a two-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove winner.  Helms joined the Astros as part of a ten-player trade that sent the future Hall of Fame second baseman, Joe Morgan, to the Reds.  Helms later played with the Pirates and the Red Sox to close out his playing career.

Helms served as a coach on Pete Rose's staff when Rose was named manager of the Reds in 1984.  Helms served briefly as the Reds' manager in 1988 while Rose was serving a 30-game suspension and, again, in 1989 after Rose accepted placement on baseball's ineligible list after his accusations of gambling.

About This Card
Trying to pick out the locations of the pictures on the cards in this set is a challenge for me.  I assume the picture is at a Spring Training park somewhere.  While Spring Training ballparks have changed dramatically since 1973, the ballpark still resembles many minor league ballparks today.

Friday, May 7, 2010

318 - Jim McGlothlin

About This Player
Jim McGlothlin played nine seasons in the Major Leagues and four of them with the Cincinnati Reds.  McGlothlin began his career with the California Angels in 1965.   He enjoyed the best season of his career in 1967 with the American League lead in shutouts, including three straight shutouts and a streak of 36 scoreless innings, and an All-Star selection.  McGlothlin pitched in two World Series with the Reds in 1970 and 1972.  McGlothlin was traded in the middle of the 1973 season and pitched in his last game with the White Sox.

For more on Jim McGlothlin's third straight shutout:
The Free Lance-Star - June 8, 1967

McGlothin passed away on December 23, 1975 at the age of 32 from leukemia.

About This Card
Out of all of the designs for the 1970's Topps cards, the 1973 design is the simplest.  Simply: black outline to frame the photograph with player name, team, position and the player icon related to that position.  One of my challenges in create this blog was to develop a design in homage of the 1973 set. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

25 - Roy White

About This Player
Roy White played his entire 15 year career with the New York Yankees.  White played the majority of his games in left field.  He was selected to two All-Star games and played in three different World Series during the Yankees' run from 1976-1978.  In 1973, Roy White lead the American League in games played, plate appearances and at bats.  A proficient switch-hitter, Roy White hit home runs from both sides of the plate five times and he switch-hit triples in a game in 1970, which nobody has ever done more than once.

After retiring as a player, White remained with the Yankees as a coach in 1983-1984 and 1986 and continued working with the Yankees in some capacity through the next decade.

More information about Roy White can be found at:
Roy White Foundation

About This Card
Traditionally, Topps puts prominent stars at key numbers in the set.  The top stars will be at the 50's and 100's (such as Roberto Clemente #50 and Hank Aaron #100).  The next level of stars will be at the 25's and 75's and then at the 10's. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

359 - Cecil Upshaw

About This Player
Cecil Upshaw played in nine Major League season and seven of them with the Atlanta Braves. Upshaw established himself as the Braves' closer in 1967 and was in the top ten in the National League in saves in four seasons from 1968 through 1972. Upshaw also pitched in all three games of the 1969 NL Championship Series.

Upshaw's career was sidelined in 1970 from an unfortunate accident.  While walking along a San Diego street with this cousin and fellow Braves teammate, George Stone, Upshaw demonstrates his dunk shot on a metal awning when his ring finger gets caught between the roof and the awning.  The accident would leave Upshaw in the hospital for 62 days and he would miss the entire 1970 season.

More about the incident can be read from the link below:
Baseball Digest - July 1971 - "The Ordeal of Cecil Upshaw"

Upshaw would later be traded in the middle of the 1973 season to the Astros.  He would later play for the Indians, Yankees and White Sox before retiring in 1975.

Upshaw passed away on February 7, 1995.

About This Card
Upshaw is featured wearing the classic Braves blue cap with the white front and the lower case "a".  The Braves wore this cap from 1972 through 1980.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

121 - Dave Rader

About This Player
Dave Rader enjoyed ten seasons in Major League Baseball with his first six as a member of the San Francisco Giants.  Rader was the Giants' first selection in the 1967 draft.  Rader came in second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1972.  Rader also caught Ed Halicki's no-hitter in 1975.  Rader finished his last four seasons playing one season each with the Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies and Red Sox.

About This Card
The card features an in-game shot at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

228 - Bobby Darwin

About This Player
Bobby Darwin played in nine Major League seasons for six different teams.  Darwin played in one Major League game in 1962 as a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels.  His next appearance came in 1969 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Darwin switched to the outfield and returned to the Major Leagues again in 1971.  In 1972, after being traded to the Twins, Darwin would establish himself as the starting right fielder for the next four seasons.  While finishing in the top ten in the American League for home runs and RBI in 1972 and 1974, Darwin also led the league in strikeouts in 1972, 1973 and 1974.  Darwin would later be traded to the Brewers, and then the Red Sox, and finally the Cubs.

About This Card
This would be the first card I have written about featuring a Minnesota Twin.  As a Twins fan, I'm surprised I had not written about a Twin until now.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

444 - Ken Brett

About This Player
Ken Brett made his Major League debut in 1967 with the Boston Red Sox at the age of 19.  While he only pitched in one game during the regular season, Brett pitched in two games during the World Series and was recognized as the youngest pitcher in World Series history.  Brett would later continue his career as a journeyman pitcher playing for 10 different teams during his 14 year career, including an All-Star selection in 1974.

Ken is the brother of George Brett, who played 21 seasons for the Kansas City Royals and went on to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Ken Brett passed away on November 18, 2003 from brain cancer.

About This Card
Brett was a member of the Phillies in 1973, but played for the Brewers in 1972.  As such, this card is one example of photos that Topps had airbrushed to match the current team.  While the outlining of the hat is awkward and the stripes from the jersey collar still remain (although matched to Phillies colors), in my opinion, this card is one of the better airbrushing examples from Topps cards at the time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

168 - Jim Northrup

About This Player
Jim Northrup played in 12 Major League Baseball seasons with 11 of those with the Tigers.  Northrup started in all three outfield positions throughout his career.  His best season came in 1968 in which led the Tigers in hits and RBIs, finished 13th in the Most Valuable Player voting and played all seven games in the World Series victory.  Northrup was traded to the Expos in 1974 and went to the Orioles later that same year.

After retiring from Major League Baseball, Northrup continued to remain active in sports.  Northrup played professional softball for two seasons.  He later became a color analyst for the Tigers.  Northrup was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

About This Card
The cartoon on the card displays one fun fact of Northrup's athleticism.

Monday, April 19, 2010

655 - Clay Kirby

About This Player
Clay Kirby played eight seasons in the Major Leagues and his first five as a member of the San Diego Padres. One of the original pitchers in the Padres inaugural season in 1969, Kirby led the National League in losses that year.  Kirby would later pitch on Opening Day in 1972 and 1973 for the Padres.  Trades would later send Kirby to the Reds in 1974 and again to the Expos in 1976.

Kirby died from a heart attack in 1991 at the age of 43.

A tribute to Clay Kirby can be found from the Centre View Southern Edition newspaper.

About This Card
The Clay Kirby card is one of a number of high series cards.  The high series cards (numbers 528 through 660) were printed in lower production numbers than the rest of the set and command a premium, especially to set collectors.

As I go back through the years of building Topps set, the high numbered cards, in relation to the rest of the set, will be a consideration in how I would be looking for cards to build each set.  1973 was the last year Topps issued their cards in multiple series (until 1993).