Friday, March 8, 2019

Even More 1979 Alt-Topps

World Series, All-Stars and Leaders

Oddly, Topps did not have post season cards in the real 1979 set. Fortunately, I make the rules for the Alt-Topps version. After winning games 1 & 2, the Dodgers lost 4 straight to the Yankees.
For the 1979 All-Stars I changed up the base cards just a little.  Here is Sweet Lou giving Pudge a closer look at his spikes. I'm sure they laughed it off and had a few drinks together after the game, right?
Vida Blue crossed the bay in 1978 and Earned his 3rd All-Star start. He was the first pitcher to start in both leagues. Since then he's been joined by Clemens, Randy Johnson, Halliday and Scherzer.
In 1978 Ron LeFlore led the leagues in runs and stolen bases. In 1980 he would lead the NL in stolen bases with 97 for the Expos. Rounding out the top 3 are Julio Cruz and Bump Wills. Cruz had a career high 59 and would later play 2B for the 1983 "Winning Ugly" Sox. Bump was, of course, the son of stolen base artist Maury.
J.R. Richard won his first strikeout title in 1978. He repeated that feat in 1979. By 1980 he was out of the game. Tragic story. The other two are future Hall of Famers, Niekro and Seaver. 

As usual, if you want to help me fill out this set, leave your suggestions in the comment section.  I'll create a few more cards for this set and post them later this month.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

More 1979 Alt-Topps

Team Cards, Rookies and Traded

For the team cards, I mirrored the 1979 set format of incorporating the managers into the team cards. I chose the Mets and he White Sox because of their use of player/managers.  

Don Kessinger began the 1979 season as the White Sox player/manager. Torre was named player/manager of the Mets in May of 1977. But he felt he couldn't play and perform his managerial duties and retired from playing 18 days later.

The 1979 Awards had ties in for NL MVP and for AL Rookies of the Year. John Castino was the Twins third baseman. I added Dave Edwards to his Rookie Stars card.

Tying Castino for ROY honors was Alfredo Griffin. In the 1979 Topps set he is depicted on an Indians Prospects card. This despite being dealt to the Blue Jays in early December 1978. Here I paired him with two-sport star, Danny Ainge.

On the senior circuit the sole Rookie of the Year was Dodgers pitcher Rick Sutcliffe. He shares his Rookie Stars card with future All-Star Pedro Guerrero.

There were a couple big-name transactions in the 1978-1979 off season. First the Red Sox sent the Spaceman, Bill Lee to the Expos. He had a well publicized rift with manager Don Zimmer. In exchange they got utility infielder Stan Papi who could barely hit his own weight, and I believe a case of pine tar. Papi was dealt the following year as "the player to be named later".

Another big-name transaction was the free agent signing of Pete Rose. The Phillies signed him to a four year $3.2 contract making him the highest player in the game, at that time.

Friday, March 1, 2019

1979 Alt-Topps

After a month of playing catch up, both at home and with past projects for this blog, I am ready to dive into another set of Alt-Topps.

Of all the Topps prototypes I've seen, this particular card is probably the most complete demo card. I have seen this in a few different places. It is currently on eBay with a Buy-It-Now price of $2,250.  It is the predecessor of the 1979 set and has many of that set's elements. There was really no reason to clean up this card the way I had for previous cards.

As usual, I have fashioned Alt-Topps base cards using the MVPs and Cy Young Award winners. In the N.L. In 1979 Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell shared MVP honors.
 On Larry Hisle's mock-up card, the designer put periods after each letter of the position designator. I'm pretty sure outfield is not two separate words. But for consistency, I placed a period after each letter/number on my cards.
In the American League, Don Baylor was MVP.  The periods look odd for 1.B. as a position designator, but it works well for D.H.  Although there has never been an MVP who's primary position was DH, Baylor has the most games at DH with 69 in the 1979 season. For that reason I labeled him Designated Hitter.
,The National League Cy Young award winner was Cubs closer, Bruce Sutter. Until Mike Marshall won the Award in 1974, no reliever had won. Sutter was the 3rd. Sparky Lyle won the AL Cy Young in 1977. In all, there have been 9 relievers who won the Cy Young award. The most recent was Eric Gagne in 2003.
In the AL, Orioles lefty Mike Flanagan won with a career high of 23 wins. The Orioles pitching staff was impressive in this era. During Steve Stone's Cy Young season, 1980, Flanagan called Jim Palmer "Cy Old". He called Stone "Cy Present" and he was "Cy Young". When Storm Davis joined the Orioles in 1982 he called him "Cy-Clone" as his pitching motion mimicked Jim Palmer's.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

1969 NFL / AFL Rookies of the Year

1969 was the last season in which the AFL and NFL were separate leagues. There was, however, yet another Rookie of the Year presenter. This time it was Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America (PFW). Like the AP, they presented the award to both offensive ROY and defensive ROY.

Fortunately, there was little difference among the ROY award recipients. Both the AP and PFW awards went to Calvin Hill on offense and "Mean" Joe Greene on defense. The NEA award went to Calvin Hill. Hill was the unanimous choice by TSN and UPI for the NFL. In the AFL they split with TSN awarding it to Carl Garrett. The UPI award went to Greg Cook.

Calvin Hill and Greg Cook would wait until 1970 to appear on a Topps card. Green and Garrett wouldn't show up in a Topps set until 1971.

Starting with the unanimous choice, Calvin Hill was the Cowboys' first round pick in the 1969 draft. The halfback from Yale was the first Ivy Leaguer ever picked in the first round. In his first 9 games, Hill led the league in rushing with 807 yards. In the ninth game he set a Cowboys record with 150 yards. He also broke his toe and totaled just 135 yards over the remaining games. 

He played for the Cowboys from 1969-1974. In 1975 he played for the Honolulu Hawaiians of the WFL. After that league went bust he returned to the NFL from 1976-1981 playing in Washington and Cleveland.

The defensive ROY was future Hall of Famer, "Mean" Joe Greene.  Greene was the 4th overall pick of the 1969 draft. He played college ball for the North Texas Mean Green. North Texas changed its nickname from the Eagles to Mean Green while Mean Joe Greene was playing there. But the cross-over nicknames are reportedly coincidental. See here. 

 Playing at the University of Cincinnati, he was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 5th overall pick. He led them to a 3-0 record as a starter before sustaining a shoulder injury. He missed 3 games and parts of 2 others. He continued to play through the pain, starting games 8-14. But he had done permanent damage. Three surgeries later he made an unsuccessful comeback attempt in 1973 as Ken Anderson's backup. 

Cook was a one-season-wonder in 1969. He was named AFL Rookie of the Year by UPI. He threw 3 passes in 1973 completing only one for 11 yards.  I was asked to make this card for another blog quite a few years ago. "Jim From Downingtown" requested this for his 1968 Football Cards blog.

The Sporting News awarded their AFL Rookie of the Year to Carl Garrett. Garrett was an all-purpose back. He rushed, caught passes, and returned punts and kicks. He put up an impressive 1909 all purpose yards in 1969. His numbers fell dramatically in 1970 particularly in the backfield. After the 1970 season he was traded to Dallas for Duane Thomas. After Thomas refused to take a physical exam for the Patriots, the trade was voided. Garrret played from 1969-1972 in New England. He played pro ball from  1973-1977 for the Bears, Jets and Raiders.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

1968 NFL / AFL Rookies of the Year

With 4 presenters of the Rookie of the Year award in 1968, it can get confusing. I'll try to break it down.

The Associated Press (AP) picked Earl McCullouch on offense and Claude Humphrey on defense.  The Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), who had just one award, also chose McCullouch. The Sporting News (TSN) chose McCullouch in the NFL and Paul Robinson in the AFL. United Press International echoed TSN's picks with McCullouch in the NFL and Robinson in the AFL.

On the trading card front, Topps was now the sole producer of football cards. They included both AFL and NFL cards in their set for the first time since 1961. Although there were 3 different Rookies of the Year in 1968, all of them would wait until 1970 before Topps included them in the set.

Earl McCullouch was a unanimous ROY winner. He received honors from AP, NEA, TSN and UPI. He was a two sport star and Olympic Hopeful at USC. Ultimately he chose the money of professional football over the glory of the Olympics in 1968. He played 7 seasons in Detroit from 1968-1973. He finished his career on the Saints in 1974.

Paul Robinson was chosen in the 3rd round of the combined 1968 AFL/NFL draft. In his rookie year he put up 1023 rushing yards and scored 9 TDs. In addition to winning the ROY in the AFL, he came in second to Joe Namath in MVP voting. He played for the Bengals from 1968 until the 4th game into the 1972 season when he was traded to the Oilers. He played sparingly in Houston in 1972 and 1973. In 1974 he played in the newly formed WFL for the Birmingham Americans. He ran for 599 yards and 2 TDs. The Americans won the championship in the WFL's only year in existence. 

 Claude Humphrey was chosen 3rd overall in the draft by the Atlanta Falcons. The defensive end from Tennessee played from 1968-1981 on the Falcons and Eagles. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.