Saturday, April 30, 2011

416 - Paul Schaal

About This Player
Paul Schaal played in 11 seasons in the Major Leagues spread almost evenly between the Angels and Royals.  Schaal signed with his hometown Los Angeles Angels out of high school and made his big league debut in 1964.  He established himself as the Angels' starting third baseman the following year.  In 1968, Schaal was struck in the head by a fastball from Red Sox pitcher, Jose Santiago.  The pitch would leave Schaal with balance problems that would affect him for the rest of his career.  However, his best years were still ahead of him.

The Kansas City Royals selected Schaal in the expansion draft before the 1969 season.  In 1970, Schaal clashed with manager, Charlie Metro.  However, Metro would lose his job in the middle of the season and Schaal would go on to set a team record for consecutive games played.

"Charlie said to the press that I'd never be an every-day player. It ticked me off but it also inspired me." - Paul Schaal

In 1974, Schaal was in the unenviable position to hold on to his job while a hot hitting prospect was waiting in the minors.  In May, George Brett, now in the Hall of Fame, was promoted to the Majors and Schaal was traded to the California Angels.  Schaal would finish his career back where it started and retire at the age of 32.

Schaal returned to Kansas City and enrolled in the Cleveland Chiropractic Clinic.  Today he runs the Schaal Wellness Center in Overland Park, Kansas.

About This Card
Paul Schaal sports a pose similar to player silhouette in the lower right.  In the 1973 set, there is a different silhouette for each position, as well as one for the manager.  Cards of other third basemen in this set all of the same silhouette.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

159 - Clarence Gaston

About This Player
Cito Gaston enjoyed 11 seasons in the Major Leagues and six of them with the San Diego Padres.  Gaston made his big league debut with the Braves in 1967 and played in nine games that season.  Gaston was later selected by the Padres in the expansion draft in 1969.  His finest season came in 1970 in which Gaston hit .318 with 29 home runs, 93 RBI and was selected to the All-Star Game.  Gaston never matched those offensive numbers throughout the rest of his playing career.  Gaston was traded to the Braves for Danny Frisella in 1975.  His contract would be purchased by the Pirates in September 1978 with whom he would play his final two games.

Gaston is better known for his success as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Gaston joined the Blue Jays organization as their hitting coach in 1982.  He took over as manager in 1989 and led his team to a division championship.  Gaston would lead the Blue Jays to another AL East crown in 1991.  With the financial success of the Skydome at the time and the signing of key free agents, Gaston led the Blue Jays to World Series championships in 1992 and 1993.

The team's success decline in the following years, Gaston was fired in 1997.  Gaston returned to the Blue Jays has a hitting coach from 1999 through 2001.  In 2002, Gaston was hired in an excutive position in the Blue Jays front office.  He managed the team again in 2008 and retired from managing in 2010. 

About This Card
The baseball cards from Cito's playing career are all scribed as "Clarence."  His manager cards all read as "Cito."

Gaston is also shown here before sporting his signature mustache.

Interesting cartoon on the back states that Gaston his .317 in May 1971.  Considering that he ended the season with a .228 batting average, his hitting must have been horrid for the rest of those months.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

616 - Rookie Pitchers (Norm Angelini / Steve Blateric / Mike Garman)

About These Players
Norm Angelini pitched just over 19 innings in relief in 28 games with the Kansas City Royals in 1972 and 1973.   Except for his brief stay in the big leagues, Angelini was a career minor leaguer with a 13 year career spread among the Royals, Braves and Expos minor league systems.

Steve Blateric had very brief call ups with the Reds in 1971, Yankees in 1972 and Angels in 1975.   Also a career minor leaguer, Blateric spent 13 seasons with six different organizations.

Mike Garman enjoyed nine Major League seasons.  Garman made his big league debut with the Red Sox in 1969 and had bounced in and out of the minors for a spot start early in his career.  In 1973, Garman was established as a Major League reliever and remained with the big league club the entire season.  Garman was traded to the Cardinals in 1974, traded to the Cubs in 1976, traded to the Dodgers in 1977 and traded to the Expos in the middle of the 1978 season.

About This Card
Steve Blateric appears in an airbrushed Yankees uniform (notice no "NEW YORK" on the chest as well as the funky "NY" logo on the cap) although he only appeared in one game for the Yankees and never played in the Yankees minor league system.  The Yankees acquired Blateric in a conditional deal with the Reds late in 1972.  Blateric was returned to the Reds in the spring of 1973.

Angelini and Blateric both appear for their only time in a Topps set in 1973.  Garman is seen for the third time in a Topps set with appearances in 1971 and 1972.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

592 - John Boccabella

About This Player
John Boccabella enjoyed 12 seasons playing for the Cubs, Expos and Giants.  Boccabella made his first Major League appearance with the Cubs in 1963.  Through his six seasons with the Cubs, Boccabella bounced in and out of the minors and served as a utility man.  Boccabella was selected by the Expos in the expansion draft in 1969 and played primarily a catcher.   His best season came in 1973 in which he caught a career high 117 games.  On July 6 of that season, Boccabella hit two home runs in the 6th inning of the first game of a doubleheader to become the second catcher to hit two home runs in the same inning.  Boccabella was traded to his hometown Giants for pitcher, Don Carrithers prior to the 1974 season and would play his final game that year in San Francisco.

About This Card
John Boccabella in the Expos' baby blue road uniform at Spring Training.

Monday, April 25, 2011

68 - Leading Firemen (Clay Carroll / Spark Lyle)

About These Players
Clay Carroll played 15 seasons in the Major Leagues and eight with the Cincinnati Reds.  A two-time All-Star, Carroll lead the National League in 1972 with 37 saves (20 more saves than his previous best number in one season.)  Sparky Lyle spent 16 seasons in the Majors and seven with the New York Yankees.  A three-time All-Star and a Cy Young Award Winner in 1977, Lyle recorded his best save total in 1972 with 35 saves.

About This Card
Early on after the Save had been recognized as an official stat by Major League Baseball in 1969, statisticians and baseball enthusiasts debated often on how to value closers.  In this case, Topps valued a combination of saves and wins by a reliever to recognize their leading "firemen."  Whether or not you count wins in addition to saves, Carroll and Lyle still stood out compared to their peers in the 1972 season.

Friday, April 22, 2011

393 - Jose Cardenal

About This Player
Jose Cardenal played in 18 big league seasons with nine different teams.  Cardenal was a line drive hitter with good bat speed, an aggressive baserunner with excellent speed and a versatile fielder with good range and a strong throwing arm.  Cardenal stole 20 or more bases ten times and spent his career playing the three outfield positions.

Cardenal made his Major League debut with the Giants in 1963.  Cardenal had his longest tenure with his sixth team, the Chicago Cubs, for six seasons.  As the Cubs' right fielder in 1973, Cardenal led the team in batting average (.303), doubles (33) and steals (19) and was named Chicago Player of the Year by the Chicago baseball writers.  He might be better known to Cubs fans as the player who missed one Spring Training game because of a cricket in his room and another game because his eyelids were stuck.  Cardenal retired in 1980 with the Kansas City Royals after the team had reached the World Series.

For more information:
"Jose Can You See?" - Chicago Now

Jose Cardenal is a cousin of Bert Campaneris.

About This Card
Jose Cardenal displays his classic bunting form.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

93 - Jesus Alou

About This Player
Jesus Alou played 15 seasons in the Major Leagues with four different teams.  Alou made his Major League debut with the Giants in 1963 where he joined his older brothers, Felipe Alou and Matty Alou.  On September 10, 1963, the three Alou brothers become the first trio of brothers to bat in the same inning, as well as the same team.  On September 15, all three started in the same outfield.

Alou was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft and was part of the infamous trade to the Houston.  Prior to the 1969 season, Alou and Donn Clendenon were traded to the Houston Astros for Rusty Staub.  However, Clendennon refused to report to Houston.  To satisfy the trade, Jack Billingham, Skip Gunn and cash were sent along with Alou to Houston and Clendenon remained in Montreal.

Alou spent seven seasons with the Astros, but his playing time decreased significant in 1972 with only 14 starts in the outfield (versus 103 starts the year before) and being used most frequently as a pinch hitter or pinch runner.  Alou was sent to the A's in the middle of the 1973 season and played on their 1973 and 1974 World Series teams.  Alou signed with the Mets in 1975 and was released before the start of the next season.  After a two year hiatus, Alou signed with the Astros in 1977 and played his last game in 1978.

In addition to his two brothers, Jesus' cousin, Jose Sosa, and nephews, Moises Alou and Mel Rojas played in the Major Leagues.

About This Card
On his left sleeve, Alou bears the classic Houston Astros logo patch.  This was the first logo the Houston ball club used when they moved into the Astrodome.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

520 - Mel Stottlemyre

About This Player
Mel Stottlemyre pitched his entire 11 year career with the New York Yankees.  Stottlemyre was called up from the minors in the middle of the 1964 season and was soon thrust into the spotlight as the Yankees' ace pitcher.  In the 1964 World Series, Stottlemyre made three starts against Cardinals' ace Bob Gibson: Stottlemyer earned the win in Game 2, received a no-decision in the Yankees' loss in Game 5 and received the loss in Game 7 as the Cardinals won the World Series.

Stottlemyre would continue to rise as one of Major League Baseball's premier pitchers.  Stottlemyre won at least 20 games in three of his seasons, was selected as an All-Star five-times (including the start in the 1969 All-Star Game) and had a career ERA of 2.97.  However, the Yankees would never reach the postseason during his career.  A torn rotator cuff would force an early end to Stottlemyre's pitching career in 1974 at the age of 32.
Stottlemyre would continue working in baseball as a pitching coach for a number of teams throughout the years.  Stottlemyre returned to the Yankees as the pitching coach for manager, Joe Torre, from 1996 through 2005 and would be a part of four World Series Championships.

Mel's sons, Mel Jr. and Todd, also played in the Major Leagues.

About This Card
One of my favorite portraits in the 1973 set, Stottlemyre is featured in his throwing pose with the Yankee Stadium bleachers and the skyline in the background and frames by the possible opposing pitcher on the left and the American flag on the right.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

264 - Checklist (2nd Series)

About This Card
It was about time I featured a main checklist card from the 1973 Topps set.  Because of the tendency at the time to mark the checklists or throw them away, an unmarked checklist commands a slight premium in price over commons from the same set.

Monday, April 18, 2011

442 - Dick Dietz

About This Player
Dick Dietz played eight seasons as a big league catcher.  Dietz, nicknamed "The Mule," made his Major League debut with the Giants in 1966 and remained in San Francsico for six seasons.  He was an All-Star in 1970 and a key member of the 1971 National League West Division championship team.

Dietz may be best known for his role in an umpire's controversial decision.  On May 31, 1968 at Dodger Stadium, Dietz had come to the plate in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and no outs to face Don Drysdale, who had pitched 44 consecutive scoreless innings at this point.  With a 2-2 count, Dietz is hit on the elbow with Drysdale's pitch.  With a hit by pitch, Dietz would have taken first base and the Giants would have scored the run and ended Drysdale's streak.  However, the home plate umpire ruled that Dietz did not attempt to avoid the pitch and was not given the base.  Dietz returned to the plate and hit a fly ball out.  Drysdale retired the next two batters to win his fifth consecutive shutout and continue his streak.  Drysdale eventually pitched 58-2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, a Major League record at that time.

Prior to the 1972 season, Dietz was placed on waivers and his contract was purchased by the Dodgers.  Because of a broken finger early in the season, Dietz only played 27 games for the Dodgers.  His contract was sold to Atlanta the following season, where Dietz became member of a Braves' "F-Troop" bench brigade.

For whatever reasons, whether concerns about his decline performance or his involvement in the players' union, Dietz was not offered a contract in 1974 and force to retire at the age of 32.

Deitz died on June 27, 2005 from a heart attack.

About This Card
Despite Dietz years with the Giants and his success in 1970 and 1971, I can imagine it might have been hard for Giants' fans to see him in Dodger Blue.

Friday, April 15, 2011

158 - Houston Astros TC

About This Team
The Houston ball club was first established in 1962 as part of a National League expansion, along with the New York Mets.  For their first three seasons, the team was called the "Houston Colt .45's."  The team changed its named to the "Houston Astros" to emphasize Houston's role in the space program in 1965 as they moved indoors to the Astrodome, baseball's first indoor stadium.

About This Card
As you can see on the back, the Astros have had a dismal first 10 seasons.  Not until 1972 would the Astros have a winning record.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

342 - Young Sam McDowell

About This Player's Boyhood
As the back of the card describes, Sam McDowell was quite an accomplished player in his childhood.  Sam started out as an outfielder, but his father converted him to a pitcher.  His high school accomplishments include the Pennsylvania State Championship and the Colt League World Series.

About This Card
1973 was the second year Topps had included, as part of the regular set, pictures from select players' childhoods.  This set would be the last set the photos appear as part of the set.  However, in 2010, Topps included an insert set, apart from the regular set, of childhood photos from some of today's players.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

619 - Billy Wilson

About This Player
Bill Wilson pitched in relief with the Philadelphia Phillies during his five Major League seasons.  Wilson made his big league debut in 1969.  However, throughout his career, Wilson had bounced in and out of the minors.  Wilson pitched his last Major League came in 1973.  Wilson did play a full season for the minor league Reading Phillies in 1974, but retired after the end of the season.

Wilson died on August 13, 1993.

About This Card
The backs of the 1973 Topps cards show the player's full name, which most Topps sets did not do.  The last Topps set to show a player's full name on the back was in 1974.

Monday, April 11, 2011

8 - Tom Hall

About This Player
Tom Hall enjoyed ten seasons at the Major League level with four different teams.  Hall made his big league debut with the Twins in 1968.  Hall established himself as a reliever and spot starter, but he had his best years after he was traded to the Reds for Wayne Granger in 1972.  That year, Hall pitched to a 10-1 record with 8 saves and a 2.61 ERA.  Hall followed his performance the next year with an 8-5 record with 8 saves and a  3.47 ERA.  In 1975, Hall pitched in two games before he was traded to the Mets for Mac Scarce.  Hall would be traded again to Kansas City the following year and help the Royals to their first divisional crown.

About This Card
Hall received his nickname "The Blade" for his six-foot 150-pound stature.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

111- Dave Nelson

About This Player
Dave Nelson played ten seasons in the Major Leagues with three different teams.  Nelson made his big league debut with the Indians in 1968.  He spent two seasons in Cleveland before he was traded to the Washington Senators in 1970.  Nelson soon became the team's starting third baseman and moved with the team when they became the Texas Rangers.  Nelson's finest season came in 1973 in which he started at 2nd base, hit for a .286 batting average with 165 hits and earned his only All-Star selection.  Nelson was later traded to the Royals in 1976 and played his final two seasons in Kansas City.

Nelson is currently as pregame analyst for the Milwaukee Brewers on Fox Sports Wisconsin.

About This Card
This photograph shows Dave Nelson after sliding into second base, even if he only appears in the background of the shot.  With Dave Hamilton at the pitcher's mound and Ted Kubiak covering second, we can do some photo matching to trace this game back to July 30, 1972.  In the second game of a doubleheader, Nelson hit 3 for 5 with three singles, two runs and two RBIs.  Nelson also stole 2nd base twice off of Hamilton and catcher Gene Tenace and shown on the card is one of those two steals.  The Rangers won the game 4-2.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

201 - A.L. Playoffs

About This Playoff Series
The 1972 American League Championship game paired the Detroit Tigers against the Oakland A's.  In a five-game series, the first two games were played in Oakland Colosseum and the final three at Tiger Stadium.  This series remained close for both teams as the A's won the first two games in Oakland and the Tigers won the next two in Detroit.

Game 5 would prove to play as tight as the previous four games in the series.  The Tigers would score in the 1st inning as Dick McAuliffe came home on a groundout from Bill Freehan.  A's would tie the game in the 2nd inning as Reggie Jackson would score on a double steal.  However, an injury suffered when Jackson collided at home with Tigers' catcher, Freehan, would cost him to miss the World Series.  The A's would score again in the 4th as George Hendrick, Jackson's replacement in center field, came home on a Gene Tenace single.  A's starter, Blue Moon Odom, would continue to persevere and pitch through the 5th inning while Vida Blue would finish the rest of the game and earn the save.  The A's would win 2-1 and go on to their first World Series since the team was in Philadelphia 41 years before.

About This Card
The photograph shows Hendrick scoring from home in the top of the 4th inning under Freehan's tag.  Hendrick reached first on an error from McAuliffe.  He tagged up to second from a sacrifice fly from Sal Bando.  With two outs, Tenace hit a line drive to left field to allow Hendrick to score.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

558 - Jerry May

About This Player
Jerry May played 10 seasons in the big leagues with the Pirates, Royals and Mets.  May made his Major League debut with the Pirates in 1964.  He would have the starting catcher role in 1967 and 1968 until Manny Sanguillen was called up.  In 1970, Mays caught the game in which Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter; Ellis claimed he was under the influence of LSD for this game and that Mays wore reflective tape on his fingers to help the pitcher see his target.  May was traded to the Royals in 1971 where he would spend the next two-plus seasons.  May was traded to the Mets in 1973 and later released that year.

May died in 1996 from a farm accident.

About This Card
Jerry May in his batting pose at spring training.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

274 - Darold Knowles

About This Player
Darold Knowles played in 16 big leagues seasons with seven different clubs.  Knowles was traded to the A's in 1971 and became the set-up man for Rollie Fingers.  Knowles missed the 1972 World Series because of an injured finger.  However, he pitched in all seven games of the World Series in 1973, the first pitcher to appear in all seven games of any World Series.

Knowles was also known for his defensive, leading the American League in range factor in 1972 and picking off runners at a rate of one per 24 innings; one of the highest rates in Major League history.

About This Card
Darold Knowles is shown sporting the mustache that became a signature trait for the 1972 Oakland A's.  The mustaches started when Reggie Jackson showed up to spring training that season sporting a mustache.  A's owner, Charlie Finley, did not like the mustache, but also did not want to confront Jackson.  Finley wanted the rest of the team to start growing mustache so that Jackson might feel less individualist and shave his off.  However, as other players started to follow Jackson's lead, Finley began to like the look and encourage the rest of the team, as well as manager, Dick Williams, to grow mustaches.  By Father's Day, all 25 players on the roster were sporting mustaches.

Knowles continued to sport the mustache after his days with the A's at least until he was photographed for his 1980 Topps card.

For more information:
Thirty Years Ago... Birth of the Mustache Gang

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

437 - John Kennedy

About This Player
John Kennedy enjoyed twelve Major League seasons with five different teams.  Kennedy made his big league debut with the Washington Senators in 1962 and played his first full season as the team's primary third baseman and 1964.  After he was traded to the Dodgers in 1965, Kennedy became a utility infielder playing third, shortstop and second base.  Kennedy joined the Red Sox in 1970 and played until his retirement in 1974.

John Kennedy also had a unique distinction of having his name and birthday shared with President John F. Kennedy, who was born 24 years before.

About This Card
Although Kennedy is show with 2nd BASE as his position, INFIELD would probably be more appropriate.  In 1972, Kennedy played 32 games at 2nd base, 27 games at shortstop and 11 games at third base.  In 1973, Kennedy played 31 at 2nd and 24 at 3rd.

Monday, April 4, 2011

56 - Merv Rettenmund

About This Player
Merv Rettenmund enjoyed 13 seasons in the Major Leagues.  Mostly as a fourth outfielder and a pinch hitter, Rettenmund played on six postseason teams, including the 1970 World Series Champion Baltimore Orioles and the 1975 World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds.  Rettenmund debuted with the Orioles in 1968 and enjoyed his finest season in 1971 in which he played in 141 games and his .318 with 11 home runs and 75 RBIs.  Rettenmund was traded to the Reds in 1974 and later to the Padres in 1976.  He signed with the Angels in 1978 and played his final three seasons there.

After finishing his playing career, Rettenmund served as a hitting coach for the Braves, Padres, Rangers and A's.

About This Card
The back of the card erroneously states that Rettenmund made the American League All-Star team in 1971.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

313 - Jim Ray

About This Player
Jim Ray enjoyed nine seasons in the Major Leagues and eight of them as reliever for the Houston Astros.  Ray made his big league debut in 1965.  He established himself as one of the team's key relievers in 1968 and earned the occasional win and save.  In 1974, Ray was traded to the Tigers and played his final game.
About This Card
A pitching pose for Jim Ray, but appears to have been taken just before game time at a Major League ballpark.