Monday, November 24, 2014

1961 Fleer Earl Faison


Mike Ditka wasn't the only Rookie of the Year in Pro Football for the 1961 season. Earl Faison was named AFL Rookie of the Year. The All American from University of Indiana was drafted by both the Detroit Lions and the San Diego Chargers.  Although the Chargers were known for their offensive prowess, their defense had great nicknames. Faison and his linemates were known as the  "Fearsome Foursome" and the backs were known as the "Seven Bandits". 

This was only the second year for the AFL and already the Los Angeles Chargers had become the San Diego Chargers. Just prior to its first year, the AFL lost one of its 8 charter members, the Minnesota Vikings to the NFL the other owners scrambled to add the Oakland Raiders to the league.

Friday, November 21, 2014

1961 Topps Mike Ditka


It has been a while since I posted some of the missing Rookie of the Year football cards. Here is the 1961 NFL Rookie of the Year, Mike Ditka. I don't think I need to go into depth on his Hall of Fame career as both a player and coach. But you might notice that he is not wearing his normal number 89. Ditka wore 89 at the University of Pittsburgh from 1958-1960 but was given the number 82 after being drafted by the Bears in 1961. The 89 uniform was being worn by kicker John Aveni. When Aveni was cut during training camp, Ditka was given 89 again.  When the franchise retired his number last season they said it would be the last digits retired by the Bears.

Even though 89 is the only number he wore as a Bear after his rookie training camp, you can see that Topps used a photo from the 1961 training camp on their 1962 card.







Wednesday, November 19, 2014

1981 Fleer Rookies: Babitt, Havens, Witt, Gedman


19 players received Rookie of the Year votes in 1981. Only one player made it into the Fleer set, Fernando Valenzuela. This could have been remedied by the addition of multi-player rookie cards. Topps had 9 of the 19, all of whom appeared on multi-player "Future Stars" cards in the regular set. (Topps was also the only manufacturer to have a traded set in 1981, but that is a conversation for another day.)

Here is a multi-player rookie card that would have fit right into the 1981 Fleer set. Coincidentally, it includes the 4 remaining Rookie of the Year candidates not included in any 1981 set or my last 2 posts.

Shooty Babitt was a one season wonder. He began his MLB career hitting safely in each of his first 7 games. He ended his only MLB season with a .254 batting average. Although his playing career was short, he still remained on the scene. He was a scout for years with the Mets and the A's. This past season he was a color commentator on Comcast Sportsnet California.

Brad Havens was one of 3 Minnesota Twins to receive ROY votes in the strike-shortened 1981 season. The other 2 were outfielders, Gary Ward and Dave Engle. They appeared on the same "Future Stars" card in the 1981 Topps set. Havens was 3-6 in 12 starts for the last place Twins in 1981. He played for 5 different teams over his 8 season MLB career garnering a 24-37 record. 

Mike Witt led the league in hit batsmen in 1981 and posted a record of 8-9 for the Angels who finished 5th in the AL West. Witt would go on to have a solid career with the Angels. He was their opening day pitcher from 1985-1989 and was named to the All Star team in 1986 and 1987.

Rich Gedman was named Sporting News Rookie of the Year in 1981. The Sporting News named separate ROYs for pitchers and position players from 1963-2003. He was Carlton Fisk's replacement in Boston after Fisk signed with the White Sox. Gedman spent 11 seasons as the Boston backstop.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

1981 Donruss Rated Rookies: Ojeda, Bell, Bonilla


In 1981 there were 17 players receiving Rookie of the Year votes. Topps managed to get 9 of them into the 1981 set. All of them on multi-player "Future Stars" cards. Donruss only managed to include 2 players. Tim Raines and Mookie Wilson. Both of them got their own regular issue card. Had Donruss made multi-player rookie cards in 1981, they might have included more of these rookies. Donruss wouldn't make "Rated Rookie" cards until 1983. Here is what a multi-player Rated Rookie card from the inaugural Donruss set might have looked like.

Bob Ojeda was 6-2 in 10 starts for the Red Sox in the strike-shortened 1981 season. That was enough to finish 3rd in AL voting. He went onto have a solid 15 year MLB career. A career that was perhaps shortened by a tragic boating accident. After going 6-9 for the Dodgers in 1992, Ojeda was traded to the Indians. During spring training, his new teammate Tim Crews took Ojeda ans Steve Olin boating and crashed into a pier. Crews and Olin were killed. Ojeda survived but missed most of the season recovering from both the physical and emotional injuries. He was signed by the Yankees for the 1994 season but was released after pitching just 3 innings.

George Bell batted .233 in just 163 at bats in the 1981 season. Somehow that was enough to earn a couple ROY votes but not enough to remain on the Blue Jays' roster for the 1982 season. In 1982 he returned to the minors then was plagued by injuries and illness. It wasn't until 1984 that he became a regular in the Toronto line-up. In 1987 he was the AL MVP.  On this card I used the "Jorge" spelling of his name because that is what all the card manufacturers used in 1982. This despite the fact that his facsimile autograph on his 1982 Topps card is clearly spelled with a "G". In 1984 Donruss began spelling his name with a "G". Fleer followed suit in 1985. Topps finally used his preferred spelling in 1987. This is the same company that called Roberto Clemente "Bob" until 1970.

Juan Bonilla had a career year his rookie season. He hit .290 and with Ozzie Smith at shortstop, Bonilla turned 72 double plays, 2nd best in the league. He was released by the Padres just before the 1984 season and sat out the whole season. In 1985 he was signed by the Yankees and spent most of the season playin AAA ball. By the end of 1987 his playing career was over.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

1981 Topps Dave Righetti


If you were watching the World Series you probably saw the Giants' pitching coach Dave Righetti. Lets face it, if you are reading this, not just looking at the pictures, you are as big a baseball geek as I am. So it is safe to assume you watched it. Well, Righetti was the 1981 A.L. Rookie of the Year. He went 8-4 in 15 starts for the pennant winning Yankees. He was also one of eight players receiving Rookie of the Year votes that did not have a card in 1981. This seem especially egregious since there were now 3 card companies to choose from. 

There were 17 players in 1981 who received Rookie of the Year consideration. Of them only one appeared on a card in the 1981 Fleer set. The N.L. Rookie of the Year, Fernando Valenzuela. The 1981 Donruss set had two candidates, Tim Raines and Mookie Wilson. All 3 of these players also appeared in the 1981 Topps set along with 6 others to bring Topps total to 9 of the 17. 

In the next couple posts, I'll be addressing the lack of rookies in the new-in-1981 baseball card sets.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

1957 Topps Football Checklist - Cards That Never Were - 27th Series


Another 25 cards in the books, another checklist. This one is taken from the 1957 Topps Football set.  This set had short-printed, unnumbered checklists inserted randomly into packs. These were nice looking checklist. The fact that most kids used them for their intended purpose coupled with their short print runs make unmarked versions extremely rare and expensive.

The bulk of the cards on this list are from the 2014 Post Season. I also made a few cards of my fantasy football team. If you want to see all the cards on this checklist in one place click here.

Friday, October 31, 2014

1974 Topps Style 2014 World Series Champs


Once again this year I tried to capture this season's Championship Series using the format of vintage Topps cards. In 2013, I began with a 1960 Topps World Series style card for Game 1and continued on through 1966. This year I picked up where I left off with the 1967 Topps World Series style card for Game 1 and ending with this 1974 style card. The 1967 - 1970 cards originally used black and white photos. I chose aesthetics over authenticity.

This was an exciting series to watch. The Series went seven games with the Giant winning 4 games to 3. The Royals skipped the post season for 28 years then came within 90 feet of tying up game 7 in 2014.


In Game 1 Hunter Pence homered in the 1st, doubled in the 4th, scored twice and had 2 RBIs. In all the Giants had 11 hits by 8 different players as they took an early lead in the series. 
Giants 7
Royals 1
Giants lead series 1-0


The Royals stormed back in Game 2. Omar Infante capped a 5-run 6th inning with a 2-run homer off Hunter Strickland. The frustrated Strickland then stared down Salvador Perez and exchanged pleasantries causing the Royals bench to momentarily clear.  Cooler heads prevailed and the game continued without incident.
Giants 2
Royals 7
Series even 1-1


In game 3 it was the pitching that made news. Specifically relief pitching. The Royal bullpen was awesome, quieting the Giants prolific bats. I'd write more about the game but with the newspaper format of the 1969 Topps card, it hardly seems necessary.
Royals 3
Giants 2
Royals lead series 2-1


The Giants bats were back with a vengeance in Game 4. 11 different players shared 16 hits including relief pitcher Yusmeiro Petit who also got the win. Joe Panik had 2 doubles and a sac-bunt. He also scored twice and had 2 RBIs. The Royals had 12 hits but were held scoreless after the 3rd inning.
Royals 4
Giants 11
Series even 2-2


Maddy Bum got his second World Series win in style, a complete-game shutout. He struck out 8 Royals giving up only 4 hits and no walks.
Royals 0
Giants 5
Giants lead the series 3-2


After giving their bullpen the night off in game 5, the Giants relievers were called into action in just the 2nd inning of Game 6. The Royals exploded for 10 runs after getting shut out in the last game. Mike Moustakas's 7th inning blast ended a 36 inning home run drought. The longest in World Series play since 1945. The victim once again was Hunter Strickland. Strickland had only 7 inning of regular season MLB experience. In the 2014 post season he gave up 6 homers in just 8 1/3 innings. 
Giants 0
Royals 10
Series even 3-3


With 2 days rest after his complete game shutout in Game 5, Madison Bumgarner took the mound for the final 5 inning of Game 7. Once again he held the Royals scoreless, earning the save and the World Series MVP. This game also had the first overturned call in World Series play.  Eric Hosmer was ruled out at 1st in a brilliant double play. Initially the umpire called him safe but manager Bruce Bochy successfully challenged the call. 
Giants 3
Royals 2
Giants win the series 4-3


Thursday, October 30, 2014

1973 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 7


The Giants beat the Royals 3-2 in Game 7 of the World Series last night.  It was an exciting finish to a great World Series. You might even say a great post-season. Both teams were wildcards and had to overcome a single-elimination Wildcard Game, the Divisional Series and the Championship Series just to get here. 

For this card, I could have gone so many different ways. The most obvious choice would be the MVP Madison Bumgarner who came in on relief after pitching a complete-game shutout in Game 5. He ended up pitching 5 more shutout innings and got the Save after earning the Win in both Game 1 and Game 5.

Another choice could have been the "Kung Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval. In Game 7 he was on base in every plate appearance. He had 2 singles, a double and was hit by a pitch. He scored 2 of the Giants 3 runs and even caught the last out of the series. A foul pop-up with a the tying run on 3rd.

Instead I went with the first call ever to be overturned in the World Series. In the bottom of the 4th Eric Hosmer drove the ball up the middle which was stopped by a diving Joe Panik, who turned out to be "Joe Cool". Panik flipped the ball out of his glove to shortstop Brandon Crawford who turned the double play attempt to Brandon Belt. Hosmer dove into first and was called safe. The Giants challenged the call and it was overturned. After seeing the relay from several angles, it was the right call. But the closeness of this call was really indicative of how close this series was.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1972 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 6


In Game 6 the Giants were shelled by the Royals 10-0 forcing a Game 7 in Kansas City. In the 2nd inning the Royals scored 7 runs on 5 singles and 2 doubles driving both the starter, Jake Peavy and relief pitcher, Yusmeiro Petit out of the game.

Mike Moustakas went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. His homer in the 7th ended the longest homerless streak in World Series play since 1945. He homered off Hunter Strickland who also gave up the last World Series homerun 36 innings earlier in the 6th inning of Game 2. This was Strickland's 6th post season homer in just 8 1/3 innings.

Yordano Ventura paid tribute to his AA teammate and friend Oscar Taveras who died in an auto accident . He sharpied RIP O.T. #18 on his cap, glove and shoes. He then went out and pitched 7 solid innings holding the Giants scoreless.


Monday, October 27, 2014

1971 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 5


Madison Bumgarner dominated the Royals in Game 5. Kansas City was held to only 4 hits, 1 each in the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 7th. Not once were the hitters allowed to advance nor did he give up a single base on balls. The Giants offense continued to take what they were given. The had 12 hits by 8 different players. Only one of which was of the extra base variety. With the series returning to Kansas City down 3 games to 2, the Royals will have their hands full if the continue to hit on all cylinders.



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