Tuesday, May 31, 2011

271 - Tom Hutton

About This Player
Tom Hutton played in 12 big leagues seasons and six of them with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Hutton spent seven years in the Dodgers' minor league system, where he was a two-time minor league MVP, with brief call ups in 1966 and 1969.  Hutton was later traded to the Phillies for Larry Hisle and moved straight to the Major League roster in 1972.  Hutton was a reserve first baseman, emergency outfielder and left-handed pinch hitter, although he might be best known for his uncanny ability to hit off of perennial Cy Young Award winner and Hall of Famer, Tom Seaver; in 62 plate appearances against Seaver, Hutton hit .320 with three home runs, 11 RBI and 11 walks.  After six seasons, Hutton played half of a season with the Blue Jays and finished his last four seasons with the Expos.

Hutton went into broadcasting after his playing career ended and currently works at the Florida Marlins' color analyst.

About This Card
Hutton is seen here in a fairly new Veterans Stadium.  The Phillies played their first game in Veterans Stadium in 1971 and would play there for 33 seasons before moving to their current ballpark, Citizens Bank Park.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

355 - Mike Marshall

About This Player
Mike Marshall pitched in 14 Major League seasons with nine different teams.  Marshall made his big league debut in 1967 with the Tigers.  Marshall established himself as one of baseball's top relievers after he was traded to the Expos for Don Bosch in 1970.  In his four seasons with the Expos, Marshall had a 2.94 ERA and led the National League three times in games finished and one time in saves.  Marshall was traded in 1974 to the Dodgers for Willie Davis and went on to pitch a career year with 2.42 ERA, a league leading 21 saves and current Major League record for games pitched in one season (106), relief innings pitched (208.1) and consecutive games for a pitcher (13) on the way to his first All-Star selection and a Cy Young Award.  Throughout his career, Marshall would lead the league in games pitched four times, games finished five times, saves three times and receive two All-Star selections.

Marshall attended Michigan State University and earned a doctorate in exercise physiology.  Marshall teaches and advocates a pitching method he developed that he believes could completely eradicate all pitching injuries.  After his rookie season, in which his poor delivery caused him shoulder pains, Marshall studied tapes, analyzed himself and adjusted and refined his pitching motion.  He credits this method as the reason for his longevity throughout the season and throughout his career. 

I'm a researcher. People forget that about me. That's where my heart is. I pitched baseball, really, as the lab experiment of my research to see if it worked. Turned out it did. I don't need any more validation that I know something about baseball.  - Mike Marshall

Marshall had also diagnosed Tommy John with a torn ulnar-collateral ligament that led to his surgery and suggested a regimen, which included exercises with an iron ball, strengthened his arm to allow John to pitch another 13 seasons.  Marshall currently runs a pitching academy where he teaching his pitching methods.

For more information about Mike Marshall and his pitching philosophy:
Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services
Oustide Pitch - Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports

About This Card
While this card is not Marshall's last Topps card, this is the last card in which he posed for a picture.  The legend is that at one time, Marshall quit posing for pictures for Topps.  Topps, afterwards, had to use in-game action photos for his subsequent cards (with the exception of his 1974 Topps Traded card which used this photograph with an airbrushed Dodgers cap.)  Eventually, Topps quit including Marshall as part of its set.  Marshall last appeared in a Topps set in 1977 even though he continued to pitch through 1981.

Friday, May 27, 2011

143 - John Curtis

About This Player
John Curtis pitched in 15 Major League seasons.  After a phenomenal collegiate career at Clemson University, where he hurled three no-hitters and went undefeated as a freshman, Curtis was drafted as the 10th overall pick by the Red Sox in 1968.  Curtis made his big league debut in 1970 in a relief appearance, his only Major League appearance that year.  Curtis would become a journeyman pitcher playing four seasons with the Red Sox and three seasons each with the Cardinals, Giants, Padres and Angels.

After retiring as a player, Curtis worked as an editor and freelance writer with articles appearing in the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle and Sports Illustrated.  In 2000, Curtis returned to the game as a minor league pitching coach.  He is currently the pitching coach for the Huntsville Stars in the A's organization.

About This Card
This particular card in my collection is covered with black speckles.  I don't know much about the printing process in 1973, but I guess it must have been in an overused black printing plate or on an overused roller.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

502 - Bobby Valentine

About This Player
Bobby Valentine enjoyed ten seasons as a utility infielder and outfielder for five different clubs.  Valentine made his Major League debut in 1969 with the Dodgers; in the season, Valentine had only been brought in as a pinch-runner in five different games.  Valentine remained in the big leagues in 1971 and started in five different positions that year.

Valentine was traded to the Angels in 1973, though his season was shortened from a multiple compound leg fracture when his spikes got caught in the chain link fence at Anaheim Stadium while attempting to catch a home run ball hit by Dick Green.  Though the injury robbed him of his speed, Valentine returned the following season and played in 117 games and made 414 plate appearances, the second most of his career.

Just before the end of the 1975 season, Valentine was traded to the Padres.  On June 15, 1977, Valentine, along with pitcher Paul Siebert, were traded to the Mets for Dave Kingman as part of "Saturday Night Massacre."  On that night, Tom Seaver was also traded to the Reds for four players and Mike Phillips was traded for Joel Youngblood.  To make room on the roster for the new players, player-manager Joe Torre retired as a player.

Valentine's playing time was limited with the Mets and we was released just before the 1979 season.  He signed with the Mariners shortly after and finished his playing career in Seattle.

Valentine might be better known in baseball circles as a Major League manager.  Valentine managed the Rangers for eight seasons and managed the Mets for seven seasons, which include a National League Championship in 2000.  He has also been successful as a manager in Japan with a Pacific League Championship in 2005 with the Chiba Lotte Marines.  Currently, Valentine serves as a color analyst for ESPN.

About This Card
Bobby Valentine played the entire 1972 season with the Dodgers.  As such, here is another example of a picture having been airbrush with the stripes on the pants, the red color over the stirrups and the "Dodgers" whited out of the jersey.  Still you can see a trace of Dodger blue in the shirt underneath the jersey.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

66 - Victory Leaders

About These Players
Steve Carlton played 24 seasons in the Major Leagues and 15 seasons with the Phillies.  In his first season with the Phillies in 1972, Carlton lead the National League with 27 wins for his first time and earned his first Cy Young Award.  Gaylord Perry played 22 seasons in the Major Leagues and 4 seasons with the Indians.  In his first season with the Indians in 1972, Perry lead the American League with 24 wins for his second time and earned his first Cy Young Award.  Wilbur Wood played 17 seasons in the Major Leagues and 12 seasons with the White Sox.  Wood would also lead the American League with 24 wins for his first time and place second in Cy Young voting.

About This Card
Ten pitchers won 20 or more games in 1972.  In contrast, only three pitchers won 20 or more in 2010.

Monday, May 23, 2011

454 - Tom Haller

About This Player
Tom Haller played 12 seasons as a  Major League catcher.  Haller was signed as an amateur free agent with the Giants and made his big league debut in 1961.  He split about equal catching time Ed Bailey for the next two years.  In the 1962 World Series, Haller started four games, which include a home run and three RBI, in the series loss to the Yankees.  After Bailey was traded in 1964, Haller was established as the team's primary catcher.  In 1966, Haller hit 27 home runs, a Giants record for catchers, and was also selected to his first All-Star Game.  Haller would be an All-Star again the following year.

After seven seasons with the Giants, Haller was traded to the Dodgers in 1968 and would be selected again as an All-Star.  As a Dodger, Haller would hit .285 in 1968 and .286 in 1970, his two highest batting averages, and lead the National League in sacrifice hits.  Haller, also known for his defensive proficiency, would also lead the league in caught steals.
After four seasons with the Dodgers, Haller was traded to the Tigers in 1972 and would serve as the backup to Bill Freehan.  In one game that season, Haller would start the game at catcher while his brother and American League umpire, Bill Haller, would call the game.

A capable defensive catcher, he ended his career with a respectable .992 fielding percentage, which at the time of his retirement, was second only to the .993 career record of Elston Howard.

After his playing career ended, Haller worked for the Giants as a coach and later became vice president of baseball operations.  He was named to the Giants' 25th anniversary team in 1982.  After a long illness, Haller died November 26, 2004 at the age of 67.

About This Card
Tom Haller, seen here with the Philadelphia Phillies, never played a game with the Philadelphia.  His contract was purchased by the Phillies after the 1972 season, but he was released in 1974.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

389 - New York Mets TC

About This Team
The New York Mets were first established in 1962 as part of a National League expansion, along with the Houston Astros.  The Mets played their first two seasons in the Polo Grounds.  They moved into Shea Stadium in 1964 where they would play for another 45 seasons.  The Mets were abysmal early in their existence with finishing in 9th or 10th place in their first seven seasons.  However, the 1969 "Miracle Mets" shocked all of baseball by winning the league championship and then the World Series.  The Mets continued to remain competitive for a few years after.  The Mets would reach the World Series for a second time in 1973, but lose in seven games to the Oakland A's.

About This Card
This card looks to me as abysmal as the Mets' first seven seasons.  The Mets team card use black type with the black border.  Not sure if it is just my card, but the Mets' blue looks all black in the photo.

Friday, May 20, 2011

262 - Jack Aker

About This Player
Jack Aker pitched in relief in 11 big league seasons with six different teams.  Originally signed by the Kansas City Athletics as an outfielder, Aker was converted as a pitcher and made his Major League debut in 1964.  Aker's finest season came in 1966 in which he pitched to a record of 8-4 with a 1.99 ERA, earned 32 saves and was named the American League Fireman of the Year by the Sporting News.

After several run-ins with A's owner, Charlie Finley, Aker, the team's union representative was made available for the expansion draft for the 1969 season and was selected by the Seattle Pilots.  Aker was soon elected as the Pilots' union rep.  Aker earn the save in the Pilots' first game in franchise history.  In the middle of the season, Aker was traded to the Yankees.  Akers remained with the team until he was traded to the Cubs in 1972 to complete a trade for Johnny Callison.  Aker remained with the Cubs through 1973.  In 1974, Aker played for the Braves and Mets until retiring his baseball career.

Aker managed in the minor leagues from 1975-1985 and served as the Indians' pitching coach from 1985 through 1987.  In 1988, Aker left professional baseball and founded Jack Aker Baseball, Inc. offering camps, clinics and private instruction to children.  Aker devotes a lot of his work at teaching at-risk Native American youth on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.  In 1997, Aker was honored by President Clinton with the "Giant Steps Award" for his service.

About This Card
Jack Aker was given the nickname "Chief" because of his American Indian heritage.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

610 - Rookie Pitchers (Jimmy Freeman / Charlie Hough / Hank Webb)

About These Players
Jimmy Freeman pitched very briefly with the Braves: 19 games in 1971 and 1972.  Otherwise, Freeman spent eight years in the minors before and after his short call up.

Charlie Hough enjoyed the lengthiest career out of these three and lengthier than nearly all players who played in the Majors: 25 seasons.  Hough, well known for his knuckleball, started his career with the Dodgers and pitched mostly in relief.  He pitched 11 seasons with the Dodgers and did get postseason in the Dodgers' three World Series losses in 1974, 1977 and 1978.  Hough joined the Rangers in 1980 and was soon converted to a starter.  He pitched another 11 seasons with the Rangers, including an All-Star selection in 1986.  Hough pitched two seasons with the White Sox and another two seasons with the Marlins before retiring.

Hank Webb spent six seasons in the Majors, although bouncing in and out of the minors throughout his career.  Webb made his best league debut with the Mets in 1972.  His best season was in 1975 in which he pitched 115 innings with 7-6 record and 4.07 ERA.  Webb final in his final big league season in 1977 with the Dodgers.

About This Card
Charlie Hough is the last player from this set to retire and one of two players in this set who appears in his last regular-issue Topps card as late as 1994.  (Nolan Ryan also appears in the 1994 Topps set.)

Freeman and Webb both appear for their first time in a Topps set in 1973.  Hough previous appears in the 1972 set.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

170 - Harmon Killebrew

About This Player
Harmon Killebrew enjoyed 22 season in the Major Leagues and played all but one season with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins organization.  The Senators signed Killebrew right out of high school and made his big league debut in 1954.  Killebrew established himself as a superstar in 1959 when he hit 42 home runs and drove in 105 runs and earn his first All-Star selection.  When Killebrew moved to Minnesota, he became the face of the Twins' franchise for many years, including a World Series in 1965 and two American League Championship Series in 1970 and 1971.  One of baseball's premier sluggers, Killebrew led the American League in home runs six times and in RBI three times.  He has eight seasons with at least 40 home runs, a feat surpassed only by Babe Ruth.  He ranked 5th all-time on the home run list at the time of his retirement.  Killebrew was also selected as the American League Most Valuable Player in 1969.  Killebrew played his final season with the Kansas City Royals before retiring in 1975.

Harmon Killebrew passed away this morning from cancer at the age of 74.

Twins Great Killebrew Dies - Minneapolis Star Tribune

About This Card
This card might be the first card I bought from the 1973 Topps set and not because I was trying to build the set.

Although I had never seen Mr. Killebrew play, I was fortunate to have met him.  I met him at an autograph signing in 1999 where he signed an Official Rawling ball for me.  (I was in college at the time.)  One thing that amazed me about him that day was that, despite the long line, he took time to talk to every single person in line and I had a chance to talk with him for a short moment while he signed for me.  While I had met other players for autograph, his was my first on a baseball.  After that day, I started buying vintage Killebrew cards for my personal Twins collection, including this one.

Mr. Killebrew's great feats on the diamond was only surpassed by his great character.  Today is a somber day in Minnesota and he will be missed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

571 - Rusty Torres

About This Player
Rusty Torres enjoyed nine seasons in the Major Leagues with the Yankees, Indians, Angels, White Sox and Royals.

Torres also has the unique distinction of playing in three games that resulted in forfeits: the final Washington Senators game in 1971, Rangers' Ten-Cent Beer Night in 1974 and White Sox' Disco Demolition in 1975.  Torres describes his experience from the first forfeit on the Bronx Banter blog:
"It just so happens that I was supposed to hit [in the ninth inning]. Bobby Murcer hits a ground ball. He gets thrown at first. They thought it was three outs. It was only two outs. And they rushed us! They rushed the field. They took dirt. People were taking dirt, taking the bases. They were tearing up the seats. It was unbelievable. That was a real scary experience." - Rusty Torres

Currently, Torres is the president and a founder of Winning Beyond Winning, a charity organization that prepares athletes for their careers after their sports participation and provides outreach to school-aged children on the benefits of healthy living that can be achieved through participation in sports.

About This Card
On the front, another airbrushing job from Topps.  Just as with many of the photographs in the set, this one also takes place in Yankee Stadium.  The Indians hat is added even though the Yankee home pinstripes remain.

On the back, as the cartoon on the back of the card states, Torres did play on the same Brooklyn youth team that Sandy Koufax and Joe Torre has also played, though not at the same time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

92 - Jerry Bell

About This Player
Jerry Bell enjoyed a brief four-year career with the Brewers.  Bell was drafted by the Seattle Pilot in 1969 and made his big league debut in 1971 after the team had moved to Milwaukee.  Bell was named the Brewers' Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1972.  Bell spent most of his career as a spot starter and reliever, although he started 25 games in 1973.  Bell would pitch his last game at the Major League level on May 15, 1974 and finish the season in the minors.  Bell pitched the entire 1975 season in the minors before retiring his playing career.

Jerry Bell currently works as a coach with Training Camp for Athletes in La Vergne, Tennessee.

About This Card
The photograph Topps used on Jerry Bell's 1973 Topps card is almost exactly like the pitcher on the 1974 Topps card.  Same pose.  Same sideburns.  Same unibrow.  Same curl on the left sleeve.  Different camera angle.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

621 - Joe Ferguson

About This Player
Joe Ferguson spent 14 seasons as a Major League catcher and right fielder and 11 of them with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Ferguson made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 1970 and bounced in and out of the minors through 1972.

Ferguson played his first full season with the Dodgers in 1973.  That year, he was the starting catcher and had his finest season hitting .263 with 25 home runs and 88 RBI and led the National League in sacrifice flies.  Ferguson also provided to be a defensive asset by leading the league on fielding percentage for a catcher and setting a Major League record for fewest errors by a catcher in a season.

The following year, Steve Yeager took over the majority of the catching duties and Ferguson split time at catcher and right field.  While Ferguson was known for his strong arm behind the plate, he used it well in right.  In the 8th inning of Game 1 of the 1974 World Series with Sal Bando on third ready to tag up, Reggie Jackson hit a fly ball to center field as Jim Wynn camped under it.  Charging from right field, Ferguson cut in front of Wynn to catch the ball and heaved the throw to the Yeager to get Bando out at home.  In Game 2, Ferguson hit a two-run homer off of A's pitcher, Vida Blue, to give the Dodgers their only win in the series.

Ferguson was later traded to the Cardinals in 1976, to the Astros in 1977 and back to the Dodgers in 1978.  He was released by the Dodgers in 1981 and signed by the Angels, with whom he would play two more seasons before his final game in 1983.

After his playing days had ended, Ferguson had coached at various levels of professional baseball.

About This Card
While the 1973 card was only his second card, Topps alludes to an early event that could have possibly lead to a prestigious career.  In 1971, Ferguson hit a 9th inning home run against Luke Walker to spoil his chance to become the first Pirate pitcher to throw a no-hitter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

105 - Carlos May

About This Player
Carlos May spent ten seasons in the Major Leagues and nine of them with the Chicago White Sox.  May made his big league debut in 1968.  He came third in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1969 despite missing a good part of his season from an injury, blowing off part of his thumb, in the Marine Reserves.  The injury threatened to end his career, but May was back by Opening Day the following year and started right where he left off.

May describes his experience in the book, What It Means To Be A White Sox:

"For my service, I had to go in one weekend a month, then there was a two-week summer camp. That year, I was at Camp Pendleton. It was August 11 and we were out on the range. The night before, everybody had been drinking beer. We had some hot Budweiser and I'll never forget it. I couldn't sleep, because they had tarantulas running around there. There were spiders and there was no way I was going to sleep, so I stayed up all night. The next morning, we had a six-round volley, which means six mortars all fire at the same time. I was the assistant ammo guy, so I was loading. The guys up on top of the hill had been drinking the night before and they didn't spot my round and didn't say if it hit. We had to go back and the order came down to clean the guns. As the assistant gunner, it was my job to clean them. I had a big, long iron rod with oil and swabbing rags on it to clean the barrel. My round was still in there and hadn't gone all the way down so when I got the swab, I forced it in there and my round pushed down to the firing pin and went off. I think it was the rod shot back up that took off part of my thumb. I was lucky, though. God was with me.I thought about baseball and I didn't know if I would ever play again. They told me if an infection set in, they might have to take my whole thumb off. God was with me and they didn't have to. I kept my thumb and I rehabbed all I could out there. They did a great job for me. I must have had four or five operations, but I came back and played the next year. It was a humbling experience."

"When I got to home plate my first game back, the people gave me a standing ovation and I cried at home plate. It was awesome. It was a thrill just to be back in the big leagues. I think I got a hit that day, but the big thing was to be back. I wasn't sure I'd ever play again, but it worked out. I was honored to be Comeback Player of the Year and I earned it. They didn't give me anything. I hit .285 and had a pretty good year." - Carlos May from What It Means To Be A White Sox by Bob Vorland

During his tenure with the White Sox, May was selected to the All-Star Game in 1969 and 1972.  While the majority of his time was spent in left field, May would spend 1973 as the starting first baseman for the only time in his career; he would move back to left field after the White Sox acquired Dick Allen.

May would finally see postseason action in 1976 after he was traded to the Yankees in mid-season.  May was traded again in mid-season the following year to the Angels with whom he played his final Major League game.

May's brother, Lee May, played in the Major Leagues from 1965 through 1982.

About This Card
I would have liked to have seen a picture of Carlos May from the back on this card or any other Topps card.  May has the distinction of being the only MLB player to wear his birthday on his jersey: MAY 17.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

202 - N.L. Playoffs

About This Playoff Series
The 1972 National League Championship Series paired the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Cincinnati Reds.  In a five-game series, the first two games were played in Three Rivers Stadium and the final three at Riverfront Stadium.  This series went back and forth through the first four game until the pinnacle of the match in the final game.  This series would also be the last on-field appearance of Roberto Clemente.

Game 5 would prove to be one of the most memorable games in postseason history.  The Pirates took the early 2-0 lead with an doubel from Richie Hebner to score Manny Sanguillen and a single right after from Dave Cash to score Hebner.  The Reds would drive in a run in the third inning off of a double from Pete Rose to score Darrel Chaney.  Reds starting pitcher, Don Gullett would be knocked out of the game at the beginning of the 4th inning and Cash would single to score Sanguillen.  Cesar Geronimo would hit a home run in the 5th inning off of Pirates starter, Steve Blass, to cut the Pittsburgh lead at 3-2.

However, the Pirates brought in closer, Dave Guisti in the bottom of the 9th and Pittsburgh would collapse.  Johnny Bench hit a lead off home run tie the game.  Right after, Guisti gave us consecutive hits to Tony Perez and Denis Menke.  George Foster was brought in to pinch-run for Perez and Bob Moose was brought in to relieve Guisti.  Foster would advance to third base on a sacrifice fly from Geronimo.  Moose would retire Chaney with a pop up for the second out.  With pinch-hitter, Hal McRae, at the place, Moose would throw a wild pitch and Foster would score the winning run to end the game and advance the Cincinnati Reds to the World Series.

About This Card
The photograph shows the final play of the series: George Foster after scoring the winning run with Pete Rose and third base coach, Alex Grammas, out to congratulate.

Monday, May 9, 2011

493 - Duffy Dyer

About This Player
Duffy Dyer spent 14 seasons as a catcher with the Mets, Pirates, Expos and Tigers.  Prior to his professional baseball career, Duffy Dyer was a member of the Arizona State University baseball team, alongside Sal Bando and Rick Monday, that won the 1965 College World Series. 

The Mets drafted Dyer the following year as their number one pick.  He made his Major League debut to start one game in 1968.  Dyer returned to the big leagues again in 1969 and made one pinch hit appearance in the 1969 World Series.  Dyer was established as the Mets' backup catcher the next season and served as the back up to Jerry Grote through 1974.

Dyer was traded to the Pirates for Gene Clines the next season and served as the back up to Manny Sanguillen in 1975 and 1976.  After Sanguillen was traded to the A's, Dyer platooned with Ed Ott at catcher in 1977 and 1978.  Dyer played with the Expos in 1979 as a backup to Gary Carter and with the Tigers in 1980 as a backup to Lance Parrish.  Dyer played two games for the Tigers in 1981 before he was released.

Since the end of his playing career, Dyer has served as a coach, manager and scout at about every level of professional baseball.

About This Card
The back of the card states that Duffy Dyer took over the starting job in 1972.  In truth, Dyer played more games that season because of injuries that starting catcher, Jerry Grote, was suffering that year.  However, the opportunity allowed Dyer to show off his defensive prowess.  Dyer led the National League in his position at range factor and caught stealing, 2nd in assists, 3rd in fielding percentage and 4th in putouts.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

320 - Lou Brock

About This Player
Lou Brock enjoyed 19 seasons in the Major Leagues.  Brock made his big league debut in 1961 with the Cubs.  Brock established himself as a starting outfielder the following year.  However, Brock set himself apart as one of baseball's elite superstars after he was traded to the Cardinals in the middle of the 1964 season.  As a Cardinal, Brock was selected to the All-Star Game six times; he started twice in left field in 1967 and 1975. 

Brock became famous for his base stealing skills.  He lead the National League in stolen bases eight times.  In 1973, Brock broke a record set by Ty Cobb when he stole his 50th base for the ninth time in a season.  (Brock has 12 consecutive seasons of 50 or more stolen bases.)  In 1974, Brock broke the single-season record of 104 held previously by Maury Wills.  (Brock ended the season with 118 stolen bases.  His record has since been broken by Rickey Henderson.)  In 1977, Brock broke Ty Cobb's record of 802 stolen bases to become baseball's all-time stolen base leader. (Brock finished his career with 936 stolen bases.  His record has also been broken by Rickey Henderson.)

Brock was had a career of solid hitting.  Brock has a ten-year span of getting at least 180 hits in a season.  He also led the National League in doubles and triples in 1968.  Brock became the 14th player to get 3,000 hits in his career; his milestone hit came against his former team, the Chicago Cubs.

After retiring from baseball in 1979, Brock's number 20 was retired by the St. Louis Cardinals.  In 1985, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

About This Card
A classic shot of Lou Brock at the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

33 - Jim Breazeale

About This Player
Jim Breazeale spent most of his playing career in the minor leagues with a few brief stints in the Majors.  Breazeale was drafted in the first round of the 1968 amateur draft.  He made his big league debut in 1969 at the age of 19 and played in three games that season.  He returned to the big leagues in 1971 and played in ten games.  Breazeale remained on the Braves' roster for the entire 1972 season used primarily as a pinch hitter and a backup first baseman.  Breazeale would remain in the minors until 1978 when he was drafted by the White Sox in the Rule 5 draft.  He would see only minor playing time with the White Sox.

About This Card
The cartoon states that Jim Breazeale is the backup first baseman to Hank Aaron.  Breazeale played 16 games at first base and was used more often as a pinch hitter.  Teammate, Orlando Cepeda, played more at first, 22 games, before he was traded to the A's.

This card is Breazeale's only Topps card.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

537 - Bill Slayback

About This Player
Bill Slayback enjoyed a very brief pitching career with the Detroit Tigers from 1972 through 1974.

Slayback is better known as the voice behind the song, Move Over Babe.  Recorded in 1973 and written by long-time sports broadcaster, Ernie Harwell, the song celebrates Hank Aaron's journey toward baseball's home run record.

For more information:
Move Over Babe (Here Come Henry)

About This Card
This card is Bill Slayback's only Topps card.

The cartoon about Slayback's skill outside of baseball is an understatement.  In the book, Hank Aaron and the Home Run that Changed America, author Tom Stanton described Slayback's many talents.
Slayback who provided the music, was something of a Renaissance man. He sang, played numerous instruments, painted, sketched, and made furniture.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

216 - Toby Harrah

About This Player
Toby Harrah played 17 seasons in the big leagues with the Rangers, Indians and Yankees.  Harrah was signed as a minor league free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies, but later traded to the Washington Senators and made his Major League debut in 1969.  Harrah had established himself as the team's starting second baseman in 1971 and moved with the team when they became the Texas Rangers.  In 1972, Harrah earned his first All-Star selection, but could not play because of injury.  Harrah also earned an All-Star selection in 1975 and a start at shortstop in 1976.  In 1977, Harrah moved to third base after the Rangers acquired Bert Campaneris and had his finest season with a career-high 27 home runs and 27 stolen bases and an American League leading 109 walks.  Harrah was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Buddy Bell in 1979.  He would later be selected to the All-Star Game in 1982.  Harrah played briefly for the New York Yankees after he was traded.  Attempting to replace a popular Craig Nettles at third place, Harrah slumped at the plate and was later replaced by rookie Mike Pagliarulo.  Harrah returned to Texas in 1985 and played second baseman, alongside Buddy Bell.  Harrah played his final game in 1986.

Toby Harrah has the distinction of being the last active player to have played for the Washington Senators after Jeff Burroughs had retired in 1985. 

Harrah was also the last player to see a pitch in their final game on September 30, 1971. He was at-bat when Tommy McCraw was caught stealing for the final out in the bottom of the 8th inning.  Fans stormed the field with two outs in the top of the 9th and the Senators were forced to forfeit the game to the Yankees.

Harrah was also involved in three of the most unusual feats in Major League Baseball.
  • On June 25, 1976, Harrah played an entire double-header without making a single fielding play and did so at shortstop.
  • On August 27, 1977, Harrah and teammate, Bump Wills, hit back-to-back inside-the-park home runs at Yankee Stadium, the only time for this feat to occur.
  • August 6, 1986, Harrah hit a grand slam in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles.  Orioles hitters, Larry Sheets and Jim Dwyer hit grand slams in the nine-run fourth inning.  Altogether, they established a record for most grand slams hit in one game.
Harrah currently works as a hitter coordinator for the Detroit Tigers.

About This Card
Maybe it's just me, but the photograph appears a little surreal.  Harrah is standing straight, but the stadium background appears tilted left.  As if a picture of him was cut out and pasted on the stadium background.  The little patch of white between his right arm and chest also makes me wonder.  Again, maybe it's just me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

136 - Earl Weaver MGR

About This Manager
Earl Weaver spent 17 seasons as manager of the Baltimore Orioles.  During his tenure, the Orioles won four American League Championship and the World Series in 1970.  In addition to his winning success, Weaver is known for his managerial philosophy and tactics.  His oft-quoted philosophy was "Double-Plays and the Three Run Homer" and instead of using aggressive tactics such as the stolen base, hit and run or sacrifice bunt, preferred waiting for the home run.  Weaver made extensive use of statistics to create favorable matchups for his pitchers and batters and to take advantage of his bench effectively.

Weaver's number 4 was retired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1982 and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

About This Card
In addition to Earl Weaver, this card also features George Bamberger (former Giants and Orioles pitcher who would later manage the Brewers and Mets), Jim Frey (who would later manage the Royals and Cubs), Billy Hunter (former All-Star shortstop who would later manage the Rangers) and George Staller (one-time A's right fielder).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Team Checklist - Milwaukee Brewers

About This Card
The Team Checklists were included only in the last series of the set.  Considering the low print run of cards in the last series compared to the rest of the set, the checklists were also printed in smaller numbers and, therefore, harder to come by in building a complete set.