Wednesday, June 29, 2011

326 - Darrell Brandon

About This Player
Darrell G. "Bucky" Brandon enjoyed seven seasons in the Major Leagues.  Brandon was originally signed by the Pirates in 1959 as an outfielder, but struggled and was later released.  He tried out of the Houston Colt .45's in 1962 as a pitcher and earned a place in their minor league system. 

Brandon was later traded to the Red Sox in 1966.  He earned a roster spot as a reliever out of Spring Training and made his Major League debut that year.  Brandon remained on the big league roster and would start occasionally throughout 1966 and 1967.  In 1968, however, Brandon would struggle and be sent down to the minors.  Brandon was later selected by Seattle Pilots in the expansion draft in 1969 and traded mid-season to the Twins who later released him after the end of the season.

Brandon would return to the Majors with the Phillies in 1971 primarily as a reliever and would remain on the big league roster throughout the 1971 and 1972 seasons.  However, Brandon would play most of his 1973 season and all of his 1974 season in the minors.  Brandon's final big league game would be played in 1973.

For more information:
The Baseball Biography Project: Bucky Brandon

About This Card
Although his Topps cards always labeled him as "Darrell Brandon", he was better known as "Bucky Brandon" throughout his big league career. 
"When I was in class D ball," Brandon explained, "there was this little Indian kid from California on the team, and he had buck teeth. He had "Bucky" carved into his glove, and I ended up buying it from him. A few years later, when I went to spring training with Houston, I had it with me. It was really beaten up, so the guys on the team gave me a hard time about it and started calling me "Bucky."- Bucky Brandon, The 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox: Pandemonium On The Field

Sunday, June 26, 2011

197 - Ed Goodson

About This Player
Ed Goodson played in eight seasons in the Major Leagues and six of those with the San Francisco Giants.  Goodson was drafted by the Giants in 1968 and made his big league debut in 1970.  Used primarily as a bench hitter and a backup first baseman and third baseman throughout his career, Goodson had his finest season in 1973 in which he started 93 games at third base and hit .302 with 12 HR and 53 RBI.  Goodson was traded to the Braves in 1975 and later traded the following year to the Dodgers, with whom he would play his last two seasons.

About This Card
Despite having played in three seasons previously, Goodson was featured on a Topps card for the first time in 1973.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

220 - Nolan Ryan

About This Player
Nolan Ryan pitched in 27 seasons, the most from any one player, with four different teams.  One of the most prolific players in baseball history, Ryan holds the record for career strikeouts (5,714 K's) and single season strikeouts (383 K's in 1973), as well as career walks (2,795 BB's) and is the all-time leader in no-hitters (seven total and three more than any other pitcher.)  Dubbed the "Ryan Express," Ryan had been selected to eight All-Star Games, including a start in 1979.  Ryan was also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 and is the only player to have his number retired by three teams.

Ryan made his Major League debut with the New York Mets in 1966.  Ryan earned a regular spot on the Mets' roster, but was used as a spot starter and reliever. Ryan was also a member of the 1969 Mets team that won the World Series and pitched 2-1/3 shutout innings in Game 3 for the save.  However, Ryan struggled during his time with the Mets and eventually requested a trade.

The California Angels traded for Ryan prior to the 1972 season.  Ryan was given an opportunity to start and he responded with an American League leading 329 strikeouts that year, the first right-handed pitcher to throw more than 300 strikeouts since Bob Feller did in 1946.  In 1973, Ryan broke Sandy Koufax's single-season record with 383 strikeouts.  He also threw his first two no-hitters that year.  Ryan would go on to pitch two more no-hitters and lead the American League four more times during his tenure with the Angels.

Ryan signed as a free agent with the Houston Astros in 1981.  That year, Ryan would throw his fifth no-hitter and lead the National League with a 1.69 ERA.  By the end of the 1982 season, Ryan and Phillies pitcher, Steve Carlton were both approaching Walter Johnson's all-time strikeout record.  (Ryan and Carlton sometimes passed each other in the race.)  Ryan would break the record on April 27, 1983 and Carlton would pass Johnson's mark two weeks later.  In 1987, Ryan would lead the National League again with a 2.76 ERA and lead for the first-time in the National League in strikeouts with 270 K's.  He would lead the NL again the next year with 228 K's.

Ryan joined the Texas Rangers in 1989 threw more than 300 strikeouts for the sixth time to lead the American League and would tally his 5,000 career strikeout (striking out A's outfielder, Rickey Henderson.)  In 1990, Ryan threw his sixth no-hitter and earned his 300th win.  In 1991, on the day that Rickey Henderson would break Lou Brock's all-time stolen base record, Ryan would throw the seventh no-hitter of his career.  Ryan would throw his last pitch on September 22, 1993 at the age of 46.

Ryan continues to remain active in Major League Baseball.  Ryan became the president of the Texas Rangers in 2008 and now shares ownership of the Texas Rangers.

About This Card
The back of the card regards Ryan as the "4th greatest strikeout hurler in modern baseball" citing his strikeout total in 1972 and the comparison with Feller, Koufax and Rube Wadell.

Nolan Ryan is one of two players from the 1973 set who appears in his regular-issue Topps card as late as 1994.  (Charlie Hough also appeared in the 1994 Topps set.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

26 - Pittsburgh Pirates TC

About This Team
The Pittsburgh ball club was first established in 1882.  Playing as the "Pittsburgh Alleghenys," the club was a part of the American Association.  Pittsburgh joined the National League in 1887 and changed the team name to the "Pittsburgh Pirates" in 1891.  Throughout their rich history, the Pirates have won five World Series championships and nine National League pennants.  In 1972, the Pirates won the National League East and made the third of three straight playoff appearances, but lost to the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS.

About This Card
The Pirates team card is another example of the wide range of conditions in my set.  The card is yellowed and the corners and edges are worn.  The condition is never really important to me as far as trying to build a MINT set, but it does give me a sense of history and longevity of each individual card.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

587 - Rich McKinney

About This Player
Rich McKinney spent parts of seven seasons as a pinch hitter and backup third baseman and second baseman in the Major Leagues from 1970 through 1977.  McKinney was drafted by the White Sox in 1968 and made his big league debut in 1970.  The great majority of his career was spent bouncing in and out of the minors.  However, McKinney spent the entire 1971 season on the White Sox roster and hit .273 with 8 HR and 46 RBI.  The following year, McKinney was traded to the Yankees for Stan Bahnsen.  He was traded a year later to the A's to complete a deal that sent Matty Alou to the New York.  McKinney played in Oakland until his final game in 1977.

About This Card
Probably the worst airbrushing job out of the set, McKinney's card features a painted-on uniform and a an A's cap with hair showing up over the top.  I might be wrong, but it appears McKinney was pictured originally without a cap and Topps painted one on top.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

490 - Claude Osteen

About This Player
Claude Osteen pitched 18 seasons for six different teams.  Osteen made his Major League debut with the Reds in 1957.  However, the greatest portion of his career was spent with the Dodgers.  During his nine seasons in Los Angeles, Osteen won 20 games twice and was selected to the All-Star Game three times.  Showing himself to be a workhorse, about one third of his games were complete games and a third of those were shutouts.  He proved his value in two World Series with an 0.86 ERA in 21 innings, including a complete game shutout in Game 3 of the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins.

About This Card
Osteen received the nickname "Gomer" due to his resemblance to Gomer Pyle from the TV series.  Do you see a resemblance?

Friday, June 17, 2011

377 - Gene Mauch MGR

About This Manager
Gene Mauch spent 26 seasons as a Major League manager with four different teams. After Mauch ended a nine-year playing career in 1975, he went on to manage the Minneapolis Millers, the Triple-A affiliate in the Red Sox organization.  In 1960, Mauch got his first big league managerial position with the Phillies after taking over for Eddie Sawyer, who resigned from the club after the opening game of the season.  After nine seasons with the Phillies, Mauch went on to become the expansion club Expos' first manager in 1969 and remain there for seven seasons.  Mauch went on to manage the Twins from 1976 to 1980 and the Angels in 1981 and 1982 and again from 1985 to 1987.

Mauch was a strong advocate for "small ball," which emphasized defense, speed and base-to-base tactics rather than power hitting.

Mauch is regarded as the winningest manager to never win a league pennant.  His 1964 Phillies finished in 2nd place in the National League and only one game back from the Cardinals.  His Angels teams in 1982 and 1986 won the American League West, but both lost in the ALCS.

Mauch died August 8, 2005 from lung cancer at 79.

About This Card
In addition to Gene Mauch, this card also features Dave Bristol (former Reds and Brewers who would later manage the Braves and Giants), Larry Doby (the first African-American to play in the American League), Cal McLish (former All-Star pitcher of 15 seasons) and Jerry Zimmerman (former Reds and Twins catcher).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

181 - Jack Brohamer

About This Player
Jack Brohamer enjoyed eight seasons in the Major Leagues.  Brohamer made his big league debut with the Indians in 1972 and made an impact immediately and earning the starting job at second base.  Brohamer was even selected as the second baseman for the 1972 Topps All-Rookie Team.  However, his playing time would soon decline.  Brohamer eventually lost the starting job to Duane Kuiper in 1975 and was later traded to the White Sox after the season for Larvell Blanks.  Brohamer started the majority of his games in 1976 at second, but was used in a utility role the following year.  Brohamer later signed with the Red Sox and ended back up with the Indians before finishing his career.

About This Card
Brohamer appears to be tagged out by Orioles' second baseman, Bobby Grich.  (Of course, this is how a player would like to be immortalized on a Topps card.)  May 28, 1972, Brohamer hit 2-for-4 with a run scored.  In the third inning of that game, Indians' center fielder, Tommy McCraw, grounds to Grich, who tags out Brohamer and throws to Boog Powell at first to complete the double play.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

294 - Steve Arlin

About This Player
Steve Arlin enjoyed a brief six-year career in the Major Leagues.  Arlin was drafted by the Phillies, but was selected by the Padres in the 1969 expansion draft.  Arlin made his big league debut in 1969 and became a regular in the pitching rotation in 1971.  Despite respectable ERAs in 1971 and 1972, Arlin led the National Leagues in losses in both seasons.  He also led in walks and wild pitches in 1972.  His performance in 1972 was even more curious considering that Arlin pitched a one-hitter, three two-hitters and a 10-inning performance in which he allowed only one hit.  Arlin was traded to the Indians in the middle of the 1974 season and finished his career there.

About This Card
As the cartoon states, Arlin practiced dentistry during this career.  After his baseball retirement, Arlin became a dentist.

Friday, June 10, 2011

635 - Gene Alley

About This Player
Gene Alley enjoyed his entire 12 year career as a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Alley was known as a player who did all of the little things well.  He was a good base runner, sacrificed runners on cue, a dependable hit-and-run man and was outstanding in the field.  Over his career, Alley won two Gold Gloves and played on two All-Star teams, including a start in the 1976 All-Star Game.  With Hall of Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski, they set a Major League record for most double plays (161) turned by a duo in 1966.  Alley was also a part of Pirates team that won the World Series in 1971.
"Baseball is a team sport and meant to be played like a team. You give yourself up for the sake of the team -- sacrificing men around, moving the runners up so that you can score runs to win games. It's not always based on how many home runs you hit or how much you hit for average. It's did you hit the guy from second to third so the next guy can drive him in with a fly ball and win a game?" - Gene Alley
For more information:
The Baseball Biography Project: Gene Alley

About This Card
With this card being in the final series, I wonder if Gene Alley almost didn't make it in the Topps set in 1973.  Alley only played in 76 games in 1973 and missed most of the season from shoulder and knee injuries.  1973 would be Alley's final season.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

17 - Fred Gladding

About This Player
Fred Gladding enjoyed 13 seasons pitching relief for the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros.  Gladding made his big league debut with the Tigers in 1961 and became of heart of the bullpen staff.  Gladding still holds a franchise record of a .703 winning percentage for pitchers with over 200 innings.  After seven seasons and his best season as a Tigers, Gladding was sent to the Astros to complete the Tigers' earlier acquisition of Eddie Mathews.  After missing most of the 1968 season, Gladding led the National League with 29 saves in 1969.  Gladding still remains in third place in the Astros' all-time saves list with 109.  After six seasons with the Astros, Gladding was released.

About This Card
This card is Gladding's last Topps card.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

477 - All-Time Victory Leader (Cy Young)

About This Player
Cy Young enjoyed an illustrious 22-year career with five different teams from 1890 through 1911.  As one of the pioneers of modern baseball, Young still holds an extensive list of records that will never be matched, including wins (as well as losses), games started, complete games, and inning pitched.

Young holds the Major League record for victories at 511, a record that will never be broken.  Walter Johnson is second on the victories list with 417 wins and Tim Wakefield, age 44, is the current leader among active players with 195 wins.

Young was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937.  In 1966, one year after Young's death, the Cy Young Award was created to honor the league's top pitcher.

About This Card
Eight of the top ten still remain in the top ten today.  Since 1973, Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens have moved into the top ten, supplanting John Clarkson and Eddie Plank off of the list.

Monday, June 6, 2011

354 - Billy Parker

About This Player
Billy Parker played very briefly in three seasons with the California Angels.  Parker made his Major League debut on September 8, 1971 and hit the game-winning home run.  He would play briefly on the big league roster from 1971 through 1973 while spending the majority of those seasons with Triple-A Salt Lake City.  Parker was selected by the Yankees as a Rule 5 pick in 1974, but never made it back to the big leagues.

After his professional career in baseball, Parker worked in home construction and later with youth sports programs in Surprise, Arizona.  The city of Surprise named its baseball field as The Billy Parker Field in 2002.  Parker passed away February 9, 2003.

About This Card
Billy Parker would only have two Topps cards, his rookie card in 1972 and this card.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

547 - Bobby Heise

About This Player
Bob Heise played in 11 big league seasons with seven different teams.  Heise made his Major League debut as a September call up in 1967 with the Mets and would only join the big league club the following two years as a September call up.  After being traded to the Giants in 1970, Heise earned a spot on the big league roster as a utility infielder.  He would hit the only home run of his career off of Danny Combs in 1970.  Heise would have his greatest playing time with the Brewers after a trade in the middle of the 1971 season.  Heise had a career high in games and plate appearances in 1972.  Heise would later see playing time with the Cardinals, Angels, Red Sox and Royals. 

After his retirement in 1977, Heise went on to serve as a police officer for 25 years.

For more information:
The Baseball Biography Project: Bob Heise

About This Card
While Topps referred to Heise as "Bobby", he was better known as "Bob".

Saturday, June 4, 2011

101 - Ken Henderson

About This Player
Ken Henderson enjoy 16 seasons in the Major Leagues and eight of them with the San Francisco Giants.  Henderson made his big league debut in 1965. Upon his arrival to the big leagues, Henderson had received comparisons from the media to Willie Mays, who was 34 at the time, with some looking to him as the heir apparent in center field.  However, Henderson spent the next few years bouncing up and down from Triple-A and Mays continued to produce and win MVPs.  Henderson became a Giants regular in 1969 with the starting left field spot with Mays and Bobby Bonds patrolling the rest of the outfield.
The press started to build me up pretty heavily, and the thing that they used to write quite often was that I was the next Willie Mays, which I don’t think was the right thing to do. I don’t care if a player is black or white, it doesn’t make any difference, there was nobody that could replace Willie Mays. He was just one player in our generation that nobody could replace. - Ken Henderson
Henderson was traded prior to the 1973 season, along with Steve Stone, to the White Sox for Tom Bradley.  Henderson would have his finest season in 1974 in which he played all 162 games in center field and hit .292 with 20 home runs and 95 RBI.  After three seasons in Chicago, Henderson would bounce around with the Braves, Rangers, Mets, Reds and Cubs before playing his final game in 1980.

After spending 30 years in sales and marketing, Henderson would return to the Giants in 2010 as a sales manager.

For more information on Ken Henderson:
Touring the Bases With... Ken Henderson -

About This Card
Despite a broken thumb, as depicted in the cartoon, Henderson managed to play in 141 games, his third most, that season.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Team Checklist - St. Louis Cardinals

About This Card
Recently, I just purchased a lot of 23 team checklists on eBay.  The purchase had made a huge dent on my checklist now leaving me with only 11 cards left for the set.  All of the checklists are unmarked, except for the Baltimore Orioles.  I only need the Philadelphia Phillies to have the team checklists complete.