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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

109 - Doyle Alexander

About This Player
Doyle Alexander enjoyed 19 seasons in the Major Leagues pitching for eight different teams.  Alexander was also the fourth pitcher to get a win against all (at that time) 26 teams.

Alexander made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 1971.  After he was sent the following year to the Orioles as part of a trade that sent Frank Robinson to the Dodgers, Alexander established himself as a Major League starting pitcher.  Alexander spent the next five seasons in Baltimore and earned his first winning season in 1973. 

However, Alexander would experience his finest seasons afterward.  He would spent time with the Yankees, Rangers, Giants, Blue Jays and Tigers.  His finest seasons came in 1984 and 1985 with the Blue Jays in which he would earn 17 wins in each of those seasons.  Alexander also won eight straight games while in Toronto, a club record.  Alexander would be selected to his only All-Star Game in 1988; his 18th season.  In 1989, Alexander pitched an American League leading 18 losses and gave up a league leading 28 home runs to end his final season.

About This Card
The back of the 1973 card describes Doyle Alexander as "one of the best young hurlers in the majors."  Alexander was in good company on an Orioles pitching staff that included perennial 20-game winners Jim Palmer and Mike Cuellar.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

561 - Jim Geddes

About This Player
Jim Geddes pitched for the Chicago White Sox in 1972 and 1973.  Geddes pitched a total of 26 innings over the course of 11 games.  Despite the brief call-ups, Geddes spent most of his career in the minor leagues and would retire from baseball in 1975.

About This Card
Jim Geddes makes his only appearance on a Topps card in the 1973 set.

Monday, October 24, 2011

474 - All-Time R.B.I. Leader (Babe Ruth)

About This Player
Babe Ruth enjoyed an illustrious 22-year career from 1914 through 1935.  Ruth started his career with the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher in 1914.  Though by the time he left Boston, Ruth became one of the premier sluggers of his time.  After his contract was purchased by the Yankees in 1920, the "Sultan of Swat" became the mythic icon of professional baseball.  During his 15 seasons in New York, Ruth lead the American League in home runs 12 times and in RBI six times, lead the Yankees to their first four World Series championships and started in right field in the first two All-Star Games in baseball history.  Ruth played his final season with the Boston Braves in 1935.

At the time of his retirement, Ruth held many of baseball's all-time records including most home runs, most RBI, most runs and most walks.  He still holds the records currently for highest slugging percentage and highest OPS.  In the year after his retirement, Ruth was one of five players elected to the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame.

Ruth passed away on August 16, 1948 at the age of 53.

About This Card
This 1973 card shows Babe Ruth with a career total of 2,209 RBI.  (After historical scoring corrections, his RBI total would be updated to 2,213.)  Just as Hank Aaron was approaching the home run record, he was also approaching Ruth's RBI record.  Aaron would later surpass Hank Aaron's RBI mark in 1975.

Friday, October 21, 2011

265 - Gene Michael

About This Player
Gene Michael enjoyed ten seasons in the Major Leagues and seven of them with the New York Yankees.  Nicknamed "Stick" from his skinny frame, Michael made his big league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966.  He was traded the following year in played the Dodgers in 1967.  HIs contract was purchased by the Yankees the following year and Michael soon established himself as the team's regular shortstop.  After his tenure with the Yankees, Michael signed as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers and played there in 1975.  He was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1976, but did not play a game with the club.

After his playing career ended, Michael continued to remain involved in baseball.  Michael became a coach with the Yankees after retirement.  He managed the club in 1981 and 1982.  He later managed the Cubs in 1986 and 1987.  In 1990, Michael became the Yankees' general manager.  In 1996, he was promoted to vice president of Major League scouting.  In 2003, he was promoted to vice president and senior advisor.

About This Card
Although known more for his defense than his hitting, Gene Michael is shown following through with a hit.  I enjoy this card for its photograph. The composition is laid in a landscape layout and the crowd looking on in the background.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

645 - Bob Locker

About This Player
Locker, known for his sinker ball, pitched in 576 games in his career and all of them in relief.  Locker made his big league debut with a Chicago White Sox bullpen that included knuckleballers Hoyt Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher.  Locker became the White Sox' most used reliever with a league leading 77 appearances with 20 saves and a career low 2.09 ERA in 1967.  He made 70 appearances with 10 saves in 1968.  Locker was traded in 1969 to the Seattle Pilots.  He moved with the team the following year when they became the Milwaukee Brewers and was traded in the middle of the season to the Oakland A's. 

Locker became a key piece in Oakland's bullpen quickly after his arrival.  He allowed no earned runs in his first seven innings with the A's.  On August 12, 1970, Locker pitched 5-and-2/3 scoreless innings in relief, the longest outing of his career.  He was a key member of the 1972 World Series team often pitching in the seventh and eighth innings to set up closer, Rollie Fingers.

After the 1972 World Series, Locker was traded to the Chicago Cubs.  Though pitching in the National League for the first time, Locker experienced one of his finest seasons earning 10 wins and 18 saves with a 2.54 ERA.  Because of a request Locker made to the Cubs' general manager, John Holland, he would only play one season with Chicago and then get traded back to Oakland where he planned to live and work after his baseball career.  Locker was traded back to the A's, but would sit out the entire 1974 season due to injury.  He was traded back to the Cubs in 1975.  After poor performances, he was released by the club.

An alumni from Iowa State University where he played baseball and basketball and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geology, Locker was inducted into the ISU Hall of Fame in 2008.

About This Card
I'm really not sure what to make out of the picture on this card.  Locker was traded to the Cubs and, therefore, would need to be airbrushed into a Cubs uniform even to the point where his old uniform number was removed (although he did wear the same #36 in Chicago as he did in Oakland.)  Even the outfielder on the background needed to be airbrushed into a Cubs uniform.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

191 - Detroit Tigers TC

About This Team
The Detroit ball club was first established in 1901 as one of the inaugural teams in the American League.  Throughout their 111 years, the Tigers have won ten American League pennants and four World Series. In 1972, the Tigers won the American League East, but lost to the Oakland A's in the ALCS.

About This Card
As of 1973, the Tigers had won the American League pennant seven times, as listed on the back of the card.  Their most recent pennant was in 1968 with a team managed by Mayo Smith.  In that season, the Tigers won 103 games and beat the Cardinals in seven games to win the World Series.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

364 - Rick Wise

About This Player
Rick Wise enjoyed 18 seasons in the Major Leagues as a pitcher with five different teams.  Wise made his big league debut at the age of 18 with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964.  Wise developed into a solid starter for the Phillies during his seven seasons in Philadelphia.  His finest season occured in 1971 in which Wise pitched to a 17-14 record with a 2.88 ERA and a selection to the All-Star Game.  On June 23 of that season, Wise threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds and also hit two home runs in that game; he became only the third no-hit pitcher to hit a home run in the same game.

In what turned out to be one of the most lopsided trades in Major League Baseball history, Wise was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Steve Carlton in 1972.  The Cardinals owner, Gussie Busch, ordered the team to trade its star pitcher after a contract dispute; trading for Wise was the best deal the team could get.  Tim McCarver, who had caught for both Carlton in St. Louis and Wise in Philadelphia, called the trade at the time "a real good one for a real good one."  Wise would continue to pitch two solid seasons in St. Louis with a 32-28 record and a 3.24 ERA along with the start in the 1973 All-Star Game while Carlton would pitch another 15 seasons for Philadelphia on his way to 329 career wins, four Cy Young Awards and a selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Wise was traded prior to the 1974 season to the Boston Red Sox with whom he would spend four seasons.  He would have his only post-season experience which included a win in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series which ended with the famous walk-off home run from Carlton Fisk in the 12th inning.

In 1978, Wise was part of a trade to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for future Hall of Famer, Dennis Eckersley, thus, giving him the distinction of being traded for two future Hall of Famers.  After two seasons in Cleveland, Wise signed with the San Diego Padres and finished his final three seasons there.

About This Card
The bio on the back of the card references Wise as the second leading winner behind Bob Gibson in 1972.  The following year, Wise led the Cardinals staff in wins.  While Wise was certainly a solid starting pitcher during his two years in St. Louis, the Cardinals certainly did not get the return that the Phillies got with Carlton.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

9 - Johnny Oates

About This Player
Johnny Oates enjoyed an 11-year career as a reserve catcher for five different teams.  Oates made his Major League debut with the Orioles in September 1970, though he was not on the roster for the World Series.  Oates became the O's regular catcher in 1972 and showcased his defensive abilities with an American League leading .995 fielding percentage that season.  Oates was traded to the Braves in 1973 and spent two seasons platooning first with Paul Casanova and later with Vic Correll.  Oates was traded again to the Phillies were he platooned with Bob Boone.  In the season-opening game against the Pirates in 1976, Oates broke his collarbone in a collision at home plate with Dave Parker and missed most of the season.  The play changed his career and Oates would see his playing diminish in the following years with the Dodgers and Yankees.  Oates played his final game in 1981.

However, Oates experience his greatest success as a Major League manager.  He served as a manager for 11 seasons with the Orioles (1991-1994) and Rangers (1995-2001).  As the Rangers' manager, Oates led his team to three first-place finishes in the American League West and earned Manager of the Year honors in 1996.

Oates passed away on December 24, 2004.

About This Card
Although Johnny Oates appears in this set as a member of the Orioles, he played the entire 1973 season with the Atlanta Braves.

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.

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).