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.