Friday, December 14, 2012

64 - Stolen Base Leaders (Lou Brock / Bert Campaneris)

About These Players
Lou Brock played 19 seasons with the Cardinals and Cubs.  A six-time All-Star, Brock led the National League in stolen bases eight times and, eventually, held the Major League record for stolen bases by the end of his career. Brock was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

Bert Campaneris played 19 seasons with the A's, Rangers, Angels and Yankees.  Also a six-time All-Star, Campaneris led the American League in stolen bases six times.

About This Card
Brock and Campaneris both seemed to have similar careers.  In addition to both being multiple-time All-Stars and stolen base leaders, both played the same number of years and both started and ended their playing careers at about the same time. Both were also key players in multiple World Series wins for their teams, even though they never played against each other.  However, Campaneris seemed to be a poor man's version of Brock; Brock had the higher batting average and OPS, the stolen base record by the end of their careers and the plaque in the Hall of Fame.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

297 - Walt Williams

About This Player
Walt Williams played 10 seasons in the Major Leagues and only one season with the Cleveland Indians.  Williams received the nickname "No Neck" for a combination of his short stature, muscular and compact torso and short neck.

Williams made his big league debut with the Houston Colt .45's in 1964.  After 10 plate appearances in 10 games, Williams was selected off of waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals and remained in the minors for almost three seasons.  

Williams was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 1967 and got his opportunity to play in the big leagues again.  Williams was known by his hustle and his drive to be great and became a fan favorite during his tenure in Chicago.  Williams, a starting outfielder for the White Sox, hit .304 in 1969; he was one of only six players to hit over .300 and the first White Sox player to do so in six years. 

Williams was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Eddie Leon in 1973 and become a backup outfielder and designated hitter for the Tribe.  After one season in Cleveland, he was part of a three-way trade that sent him to the New York Yankees.  The Yankees release Williams after two seasons.  Williams would go on to play two more seasons in Japan.

About This Card
Walt Williams was traded in 1973 and Topps attempted to show this change.  The Indians "C" logo was airbrushed onto the cap while the "S" in "SOX" is still visible on his uniform.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

446 - Jerry Reuss

About This Player
Jerry Reuss pitched in 22 seasons for eight different Major League Baseball teams.  Reuss is a two-time All-Star with a start in 1975 with the Pirates and a selection in 1980 with the Dodgers.

Reuss made his big league debut in 1969 for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Reuss joined the Houston Astros in 1972 in a trade that included Scipio Spinks.  After two seasons with the Astros and a 1973 season in which he led the league in walks, Reuss was traded again to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Milt May.

Reuss' career took after arriving in Pittsburgh.  He pitched the next five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which included a start in his first All-Star Game in 1975 and starts in the National League Championship Series in 1974 and 1975.  

Reuss was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1979 with whom he pitched nine seasons.  His finest season came in 1980 in which pitched to a 18-6 record, threw a no-hitter, was selected to his second All-Star Game and finished the season as the Comeback Player of the Year and second for the Cy Young Award.  He also pitched in the World Series with the Dodgers in 1981.

In 1988 while with the Chicago White Sox, Reuss earned his 200th win become only the second pitcher with 200 wins without a 20-win season.  Milt Pappas was the first and Reuss was later joined on that list by Charlie Hough.

Reuss ended his career back with the Pirates and pitched his last game in 1990.

After retiring from baseball, Reuss worked in broadcasting as a color analyst for ESPN and the Anaheim Angels.  Since 2006, Reuss has been working in radio and TV for the Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasts.

For more information:
Jerry Reuss

About This Card
In 2013, the Houston Astros, along with their move to the American League, will be wearing uniforms and hats designed similarly to what Reuss is wearing in his photo.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

603 - Rookie Third Basemen (Terry Hughes / Bill McNulty / Ken Reitz)

About These Players
Terry Hughes was only in the big leagues briefly in three seasons.  Hughes played in only two games with a total of three at bats for the Chicago Cubs in 1970.  He returned to the Majors in 1973 with the St. Louis Cardinals with whom he spent only 11 games and spent 1974 in 41 games with the Boston Red Sox.

Bill McNulty played in a total of nine games with the Oakland A's in 1969 and 1972.  Though he was traded to the Texas Rangers in 1973, he never played a game on the big league roster.

Out of the three players, Ken Reitz had the most successful career.  Reitz made his big league debut in 1972 and earned the starting third base spot immediately after being called up.  In his 11-year career, Reitz played with the St. Louis Cardinals in eight of them.  Known for his defense, Reitz won the Gold Glove in 1975 and led all National League third basemen in fielding percentage in six seasons.  Reitz earned his only All-Star selection in 1980.

About This Card
Hughes, McNulty and Reitz all appear for their first times in the 1973 set.  Hughes appears as a Cub, even though he was on the Cardinals roster and appeared in some games in 1973.  McNulty was in the Rangers organization in 1973, but never played a game for Texas.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

78 - Richie Scheinblum

About This Player
Richie Scheinblum played eight seasons in the Major Leagues with six different teams.  Scheinblum made his big league debut in 1965 with the Cleveland Indians and spent the early part of his career bouncing in and out of the minors.

However, Scheinblum had his finest season with the Royals in 1972.  He played as the team's starting right fieldr and hit .300 becoming the only Jewish switch-hitter to bat .300 during a full season.  He also earned an All-Star selection that year.

Scheinblum's career faded quickly.  His batting average dropped and he bounced around five different teams in the next two years.  Scheinblum played his final game in 1974.

About This Card
An interesting fact as detailed on the back of his card was that Scheinblum hit his first home run on the day Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.  Scheinblum was not regarded as much of a power hitter and would go on to hit on 13 home runs throughout this eight-year career.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

272 - Ed Farmer

About This Player
Ed Farmer enjoyed 11 seasons as a Major League reliever with eight different teams.  Farmer made his big league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1971 with whom he spent parts of this first three seasons.  Farmers had his finest season with the Chicago White Sox in 1980 with whom he earned 30 saves, a 3.38 ERA and a selection to the All-Star team.

Farmer works currently as the play-by-play announcer for the White Sox' radio broadcasts and had been with the team's radio broadcasts since 1991.

About This Card
Ed Farmer is shown wearing the Indians' home uniforms that were new in 1972.  For their home uniforms, the Indians switched from a pinstriped uniform to plain white and used the block letter font for "INDIANS" on the front.  In addition, the Indians had worn blue caps with the red "C" and changed to red caps with the blue "C".

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

550 - Dave Johnson

About This Player
Davey Johnson played 13 years in the big leagues and three of them with the Atlanta Braves.  Johnson began his playing career and spent the majority of it with the Baltimore Orioles.  During his tenure with the O's, Johnson started at second base for four American League pennants and two World Series Championships. He also made three of his four All-Star appearances as an Oriole and won three Gold Glove Awards.

Johnson, after a poor 1972 season, was traded to the Atlanta Braves and responded with the best offensive numbers of his career.  Johnson had career numbers in 1973 in runs (84), hits (151), home runs (43) and RBI (99).  He earned his fourth All-Star selection that year.  Johnson tied Rogers Hornsby's single season record for home runs for a second baseman with 42; one on Johnson's home runs came as a pinch-hitter.  The 1973 Atlanta Braves also featured the first trio of teammates to hit 40 home runs in a season; Darrell Evans hit 41 and Hank Aaron hit 40.

After getting a hit in his only at bat in 1975, Johnson was released by the Braves.  He spent 1975 and 1976 playing in the Japanese league.  He returned to the play in the U.S. in 1977 with the Philadelphia Phillies and finished his playing career with the Chicago Cubs in 1978.  In the 1978 season, Davey Johnson became the first player to hit two grand slams in pinch-hit at bats.

Johnson is probably more profilic for his career as a manager.  Johnson has spent 16 seasons as a manager at the Major League level with division pennants with the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals and a World Series Championship with the Mets in 1986.  Johnson was selected as American League Manager of the Year in 1997 with the Orioles. 

Johnson is the current manager of the Washington Nationals.

About This Card
To reflect many of the trades that had taken place during the offseason and current season, Topps often airbrushed the new uniforms on a player.  Davey Johnson appears in this photograph in a Braves uniform at the end of the first turn of a double play with New York Yankees' Felipe Alou having slid through second base even though the Braves did not play the Yankees.

This play took place, with Johnson as an Oriole, on September 17, 1972.  Alou hit a single in the bottom of the second inning.  Thurman Munson followed by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play.

In addition to Johnson having been airbrushed into a Braves uniform, Topps also airbrushed over the first half of the scoreboard on the right field wall in Yankee Stadium.

Special thanks to Chris Stufflestreet and his 1973 Topps Photography blog.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

378 - Lenny Randle

About This Player
Lenny Randle played in 12 big league seasons and six of them with the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers organization.  Randle made his Major League debut with the Washington Senators in 1971 and moved with the team to Texas the following year.  For his first three years, Randle had been called up/down from/to the minors. 

However, he had his breakthrough season in 1974 in which he played in 151 games and hit .302 for the season. In 1974 and 1975, Randle started at second base, third base and in the outfield.  In 1976, Randle was named the starting second baseman for the Rangers.

Spring Training of 1977 would mark one of the ugliest moments in Rangers history.  Rookie, Bump Wills, was given the starting job at second base from the start of spring training.  Randle complained to manager, Frank Lucchesi and demanded to start or be traded.  Lucchesi, incensed by the confrontation, complained to writers to whom he insisted publish his comments.  On March 28, the day the Sports Illustrated magazine with Wills on the cover hit stands, Randle confronted Lucchesi and punched him in the face.  Lucchesi was hospitalized for a week and need plastic surgery to repair his cheekbone that was broken in three places.  Randle was suspended by the team for 30 days and traded to the New York Mets before the end of his suspension.  Lucchesi would return to the team before the Opening Day, but later fired mid-season.

For more information:
Swapping Stories: The '77 Randle Trade

Randle ended up having his most productive season in 1977 with career highs in batting average (.304), on base percentage (.383), slugging percentage (.404), home runs (five) and stolen bases (33) with the last place Mets.  After a poor 1978 season, Randle was released.  He later spent time with the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners.

In 1983, Randle became the first American Major League Baseball player to play in Italy where he won the Italian batting title with a .477 batting average.

About This Card
Nothing much for me to write about this card.  I have either attained it as part of an eBay lot or as a single from my local store or online.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

139 - Carmen Fanzone

About This Player
Carmen Fanzone enjoyed five seasons in the big leagues and four of them with the Chicago Cubs.  Fanzone made his Major League debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1970 and played in 10 games that year.

Fanzone was traded the following year to the Cubs and responded with a home run in his first National League at-bat against Astros' pitcher, Ken Forsch.  He spent his tenure as a utility infielder and pinch hitter.  His best season came in 1972 in which he substituted for an injured Ron Santo at third base.  In his 86 games that year, Fanzone set career highs in home runs, RBIs and runs.

Also an accomplished trumpeter, Fanzone spent his nights after day games at Wrigley Field looking for gigs.  Occasionally, he played the National Anthem before Cubs home games.  After his playing career ended, Fanzone continued to pursue music professionally.

Currently, Fanzone works as a business representative for Professional Musicians Local 47 in Los Angeles, California.

For more information:
Los Angeles Times - July 3, 2011

About This Card
Although Carmen Fanzone made his Major League debut in 1970, he would not make his Topps debut until 1973.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Team Checklist - San Francisco Giants

About This Card
Every team checklist in the 1973 Topps set features 12 different facsimile autographs on the front.  Considering what we know today from current stars, it is a nice throwback to see autographs that are legible.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

204 - World Series Game 2

About This World Series Game
Jackie Robinson made his final public appearance before Game 2 of the 1972 World Series.  (He would pass away nine days later.)  In his speech, he expressed his desire to see a black manager of a Major League team, a barrier not yet broken at the time.

Game 2 became a close low-scoring match-up in which Catfish Hunter pitched eight strong innings and Rollie Fingers notched the save in the 2-1 win.  Joe Rudi was the hero of the game with a home run in the first inning off of Ross Grimsley and a game-saving catch against the left field wall in the ninth inning of a ball hit by Denis Menke.  The Reds futility showed with lead runners on in five innings but only scoring one run in the ninth.

This Fall Classic loss marked the Reds' seventh straight home loss in a World Series, including three losses in the 1961 World Series against the New York Yankees and two losses against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1970 World Series.

About This Card
The photograph shows a fielder's choice play in the bottom of the sixth inning.  With Dick Green playing second base and Mike Hegan manning first, Tony Perez grounded the ball which forced Johnny Bench out.  In this case, Perez beat the relay to first.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

324 - Al Downing

About This Player
Al Downing enjoyed 17 seasons as a Major League pitcher and his last seven seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Downing made his big league debut with the New York Yankees in 1961 and spent his first nine seasons with the team.  He earned his only All-Star appearance in 1967.  He was traded to the Oakland A's to start the 1970 season and finished that season traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.

After a dismal 1970 season in which he pitched to 5-13 record, Downing was traded to the Dodgers.  He responded to the trade with only 20 win season, five National League leading shutouts and the National League Comback Player of the Year Award.  Downing also finished third in the Cy Young balloting behind Ferguson Jenkins and Tom Seaver.

Downing is also known for giving up Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run on April 8, 1974.  Despite this, Downing made his third post-season appearance with a Dodgers team that lost to the Oakland A's in the World Series.

Downing pitched in his final game in 1977.

About This Card
I wonder if Topps drew their pitcher silhouette based on Al Downing or if Al Downing was asked to pose like the silhouette.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

146 - Woodie Fryman

About This Player
Woodie Fryman pitched 18 seasons in the Major Leagues and three of them with the Detroit Tigers.  Fryman made his big league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966.  Fryman was a two-time National League All-Star with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Montreal Expos.

However, Fryman might better known as the midseason acquisition of the American League Detroit Tigers.  After pitching to a 4-10 record and 4.36 ERA to start off his 1972 season, the Phillies placed Fryman on waivers.  He was picked up by the Tigers and pitched to a 10-3 record and 2.06 ERA for his new team.

His key moment came in the second game of the final series of the year against the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox scored on an unearned run in the first inning.  Pitching against Luis Tiant, Fryman allowed only two more hits after the first inning.  After giving up a hit in the eighth, Chuck Seelbach relieved Fryman and closed the game.  Fryman earned his 10th win and the Detroit Tigers clinched the American League East.

Fryman pitched his final game in 1983 with the Expos, with whom he had spent a total of eight seasons.

Fryman was inducted into the Montreal Expos Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.  Fryman passed away in 2011 at the age of 71 in his hometown in Ewing, Kentucky where he was a tobacco farmer.

About This Card
In another of many shots that Topps photographers took at Yankee Stadium, Fryman poses in his away uniform.  Traditionally, the Detroit Tigers don caps with the white "D" for home games and caps with the orange "D" for away games.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

469 - Dan Monzon

About This Player
Dan Monzon enjoyed only a brief career in the Major Leagues. Monzon was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1967.  He made his big league debut in 1972 and remained on the Twins roster for two seasons in a utility role.  Monzon was demoted back to the minor leagues in 1974, traded to the Montreal Expos organization and would remain in the minors through 1977.

Monzon started his next phase in baseball in 1978 as a minor league manager for the New York Mets organization. He later became a scout and covered Latin America for the Mets, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.  In 1995, the Boston Red Sox named Monzon their supervisor of Latin American scouting.

Monzon died tragically in an automobile accident the Dominican Republic in 1996 at the age of 49.

About This Card
Dan Monzon appeared in one of many shots that Topps photographers took at Yankee Stadium.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

422 - Bob Robertson

About This Player
Bob Robertson enjoyed 11 seasons in the Major Leagues and nine of them with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Robertson made his big league debut in 1967.  He missed the entire 1968 season because of a kidney obstruction and returned the following year.  Once Robertson established himself in the starting lineup in 1970, he appeared to have a bright future ahead of him.  Robertson hit 26 and 27 home runs in 1970 and 1971 respectively.  Robertson, described by Pirates announcer Bob Prince as "The Mount Savage Strongboy", was also the first ever to hit a home run in the upper deck at Three Rivers Stadium; the home run came off of San Diego Padres pitcher Steve Arlin in 1971.

His finest moment came in the 1971 postseason.  Robertson hit .438 with four home runs (three of which came in Game 2) and six RBI in the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants.  He later hit two home runs in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.  Robertson might be best known for the bunt sign he missed.  With Roberto Clemente on second, Willie Stargell at first and Mike Cuellar pitching, the third base coach called for a bunt.  With Robertson never having bunted and the Pirates down 2-0 in the series, his plan was to hit as far as possible.  In the replays, Clemente can be seen calling a time out, but Cuellar had thrown the pitch and Robertson had hit the ball into the right-center bleachers.  Robertson never knew his "mistake" until returning to the bench and seeing manager, Danny Murtaugh, with his cap over his face and laughing.

For more information:
Pirates remember Bob Robertson; so do O's

However, the following season, Robertson began experiencing chronic back problems and his production declined. After having surgery done on both knees in 1974, Robertson was reducing to being a backup player. Robertson later went on to play one season with the Seattle Mariners and another season with the Toronto Blue Jays before retiring in 1979.

About This Card
Out of all of the members of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bob Robertson probably looked most like a real life pirate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

267 - Lloyd Allen

About This Player
Lloyd Allen pitched in seven seasons as a big league reliever and five of them with the California Angels. 

Drafted in the first round of the 1968 draft, Allen looked to have a bright future ahead of him.  Allen made his Angels debut in 1969 and, at the age of 19, had the rare distinction of being the youngest player in the Major Leagues on the same team as the oldest player (Hoyt Wilhelm at age 46.) Allen pitched his finest season in 1971 with a 2.49 ERA and 15 saves that season.  In 1972, Allen had a 3.48 ERA and 5 saves on an Angels team that reached only 16 saves that season.

From there, Allen's career went downhill. Allen had trouble finding the strike zone and, in five games with the Angels, he recorded a 10.38 ERA.  Allen was traded to the Texas Rangers in 1973.  He was selected from waivers by Chicago White Sox in 1974.  Allen made his final Major League appearance in 1975.

About This Card
An Angel in the outfield, Lloyd Allen is pictured in the outfield at Anaheim Stadium.  Allen is also pictured in the outfield in his 1972 Topps cards.

Monday, October 15, 2012

38 - Mike Epstein

About This Player
Mike Epstein played nine seasons in the Major Leagues and two of them with the Oakland A's.  While playing for the Stockton Ports of the California League in 1965, Epstein was given the nickname "Super Jew" by rival coach, Rocky Bridges, after hitting a home run over the light tower in center field; Epstein would go on to lead the California League in batting average and home runs and earn the MVP for the league.

Epstein made his Major League debut in 1966 for the Baltimore Orioles with whom he played only six games.  When Epstein was demoted back to the minors, Epstein refused to report and was later traded to the Washington Senators.  Epstein had his finest season in 1969 in which he hit .278 with 30 home runs and 85 RBI in the reconstituted Senators' only winning season.

Epstein joined the Oakland A's when he was traded, along with pitcher, Darold Knowles, from the Rangers in May 1971.  In 1972, Epstein hit 26 home runs, third in the American League, for the World Champion A's.  During the playoffs, Epstein wore a black armband in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered during the Munich Olympics; teammates Ken Holtzman and Reggie Jackson also wore black armbands.

Epstein was traded to the Texas Rangers in 1973 and traded again mid-season to the California Angels.
“The reason I got traded from Oakland was because there was an altercation in the clubhouse in Texas. Reggie (Jackson) was spouting off, doing dumb things…and I wound up going over and knocking him out. He was unconscious on the floor…club owner Charlie Finley…got me on the phone and said, ‘I ought to trade you.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘You’re the bad apple.’ I said, ‘I would think that you would go and ask the other guys on the team. The bad apple is unconscious on the floor in the clubhouse.”
- Mike Epstein, Matzoh Balls and Baseballs

Epstein was inducted into the United States National Jewish Hall of Fame in 2004.  He ranks sixth all-time in home runs among Jewish Major Leaguers.

Currently, he runs the Mike Epstein Hitting school.

For more information:
Mike Epstein | Jewish Baseball News

About This Card
While Mike Epstein had already been an established Major League veteran in 1973, he's barely featured on the front of his own baseball card.  Epstein, shown in the bottom right, is holding Jim Spencer at first base.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

549 - Whitey Herzog MGR

About This Manager
Whitey Herzog, who had an eight-year playing career, took his first managerial post in 1973, taking over the previously Ted Williams run Texas Rangers club that lost 100 games in the previous season. Although he was signed to a two-year contract, Herzog was fired during the season so that the Rangers' owner, Bob Short, could hire Billy Martin, who had just been fired by the Detroit Tigers.  Short told reporters, "If my mother were managing the Rangers and I had the opportunity to hire Billy Martin, I'd fire my mother."

Herzog's managerial career only got better from there.  After an interim stint with the California Angels in 1974, Herzog joined the Kansas City Royals in 1975. During his five seasons with the Royals, Herzog led his teams to three consecutive American League West Division championships.
Herzog joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980, with whom he led the club to three National League pennants and a World Series Championship in 1982.

Herzog employed a strategy that the media called "Whiteyball."  He concentrated on pitching, speed and defense to win games. His lineups typically started with one or two base stealers at the top of the order, a power threat batting third or fourth protected by one or two lesser power hitters and followed with more base stealers.
"They seemed to think there was something wrong with the way we played baseball, with speed and defense and line-drive hitters. They called it 'Whitey-ball' and said it couldn't last."
- Whitey Herzog, White Rat - A Life in Baseball

Herzog was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 and his number "24" was retired by the St. Louis Cardinals.

About This Card
This card is the only manager card in the 1973 Topps set to feature only three coaches.  (All other manager cards feature four.)  This card also features former All-Star pitcher, Chuck Estrada, former second baseball, Chuck Hiller and former catcher, Jackie Moore.