Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 Topps Mickey Mantle

I think it is safe to assume Topps will not be making a Mickey Mantle card this year. One of the oldest running themes of this blog  (in fact THE oldest) has been filling in the missing Topps Mantles.

 Just to get everybody up to speed, "The Mick" appeared on regular issue Topps cards from 1952-53, then 1956-69. After Mantle died in 1995, Topps retired the number 7 card in their sets (it actually took affect in the 1997 set). In 2006 Topps began making a Mantle card in the #7 spot. They also inserted  Mantle cards from the 1996-2005 sets into the 2006 set. Mantle continued to appear in Topps sets on card #7 until their deal with the Mantle estate expired in 2012. 

With various inserts and special editions Topps filled in many of the missing years. I have been filling in the rest. So it is with great pleasure that I present the "2015 Topps Card #7 That Never Was".

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Minnie Minoso


Another one of my all-time favorites passed away today. It's odd that the player who broke the color barrier for the White Sox died within weeks of the player who broke the color barrier for the Cubs. I can't express what these 2 great men meant to the city of Chicago and to baseball. Today's news just amplifies the tragedy of the recent "Golden Age" Hall of Fame ballot.

Minnie Minoso has always been one of my favorite subjects.I made the card above back in 2011 to commemorate his brief appearance playing for the Sox in 1980. I changed up the Topps cap design a bit to look more like the Sox cap of the era. Ultimately, I wasn't happy with it and never posted it until today.Instead went with this 1981 Fleer card:

I had also created 2 different cards for Minnie from 1951 sets. A 1951 Bowman of Minoso on the White Sox:

And a 1951 Topps card of Minnie on the Indians:

He even made it onto one of the leaders cards that never were, this 1961 RBI leaders card:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Rating the Rookies: 1960 Topps Ted Wieand

This time the random number generator came up with an early solo rookie card: this Ted Wieand card from the 1960 Topps set. Ted came up for a cup of coffee at the end of the 1958 season with the Reds (who were at the time called the Redlegs). The first batter he faced was Frank Torre (Joe Torre's older brother). Torre went yard on the rookie but Wieand regained his composure and retired 6 of the next hitters he faced in the 4th and 5th innings. In the bottom of the 6th he took the mound again only to give up a double to Hawk Taylor then a single to Frank Torre before getting sent to the showers.

When he was called back up at the beginning of the 1960 season he didn't fare much better. He appeared in 5 games, pitched 4 and 1/3 inning and gave up 5 runs. His final MLB game was just 10 games into the 1960 season. He came in with the Reds clinging to a 5-4 lead over the Phillies with runners on 2nd and 3rd, no outs. He intentionally walked the first batter to load the bases. He then walked the next batter, presumably unintentionally, to tie the game at 5. The next batter hit a grand slam. The Reds lost 9-5. Wieand returned to the minors and was dealt to the Yankees. He never made it back up to the Big Leagues.

I chose to make a 1958 card to commemorate his only other MLB appearance even though it was brief. As for  his 1960 Rookie card I can understand why Topps chose to give him a card. He was the Reds winningest AAA pitcher in 1959 and was on the roster at the beginning of the Reds' 1960 season. However, Ted Wieand didn't even make it through April.

I've adopted a new grading system. Just like those pricey grading companies, I'll hermetically seal the card and permanently attach my (somewhat) unbiased opinion along with a grade from 1 to 10. Unlike the grading companies, my score has nothing to do with the condition of the card but the card itself.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

1963 Fleer Football Checklist - Cards That Never Were - 28th Series

Another checklist and I am literally running out of decent checklists to poach. I may have to start repeating or maybe abandon the checklists altogether. This series spans from the World Series in October until February. Mainly due to the 2 month break I took. There is plenty of my obsession with Rookies in this series. There are Football Rookies of the Year, a R.O.Y. card for Dave Righetti, multi-player rookie cards from Fleer & Donruss, and my latest endeavor Rating the Rookies. As usual all the cards I made for this series along with the 27th series can be seen here. Or just click on the checklists in the right margin.

Monday, February 23, 2015

1962 Fleer Curtis McClinton, AFL Rookie of the Year

In 1960 Curtis McClinton was picked by the L.A. Rams in the NFL draft. He chose instead to return to the University of Kansas for 1 more year. He helped the Jayhawks to a 33-7 victory over Rice in the Bluebonnet Bowl. He was drafted again in 1961. This time by the Dallas Texans in the AFL draft. He netted 937 total yards for the Texans and was selected to the AFL All Star game in 1962.  He was named the Offensive MVP of the All Star game and later was named the AFL Rookie of the Year. The Texans went on to win the AFL Championship in 1962.

The following season the Texans moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs. McClinton Played with the team through the 1969 season and scored the first touchdown ever for an AFL team in Super Bowl I. He was also a member of the Super Bowl IV Champion team in 1970. That was in his final year in football and he was relegated to back-up tight end.

The card you see above I colorized from a black and white photo as pictures of early AFL players are tough to find. During my search I came across a terrific painting of McClinton done by John Lipscomb. I contacted him to ask permission to use it. He informed me that the painting was now owned by Curtis McClinton himself  but thought that use of the watermarked version would be okay.

I included this version as well. I just thought it looked bad-ass, despite the watermark. The action and the colors and the old-school uniforms really make it stand out.

Click here to see the original painting and more of John Lipscomb's work.

The NFL Rookie of the Year in 1962 was also drafted by the Dallas Texans. Ronnie Bull was also drafted in the 1st round by both the Chicago Bears a week later. George Halas talked him into playing for the Bears. He even managed to make it onto a 1962 Topps card.  And it really is a great looking card. Although the main photo has him in his Baylor Jersey, the inset photo appears to be from the College All Star game in Chicago.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

1982 Fleer Major League Prospects: Ryne Sandberg, Wade Boggs

In 1982 there were 17 player who received Rookie of the Year votes. 11 of the 17 players made it onto cardboard in at least 1 of the 4 major releases, Topps, Topps Traded, Fleer and Donruss. In my last post I put 4 of the remaining 6 onto a multi-player 1982 Donruss Rated Rookie card. For the other two, I created this Fleer Major League Prospects card.

Had this card actually been made in 1982, I probably would have given my eye teeth for it. Ryne Sandberg and Wade Boggs (along with Tony Gwynn) had the most sought after cards of the 1983 Topps set and were dominant at their positions throughout the '80s. Both players were solid hitters in 1981 at the AAA level. Sandberg hit .293 while Boggs hit .335. Sandberg was even a September call up for the Phillies before being traded to the Cubs. 

They both saw action on opening day 1982. Boggs didn't play in the opening game for the Red Sox but started game 2 of an opening day double header. Ryno was an opening day starter for the Cubs. Neither of these players started at the position they were best known for. Boggs played first base in his first big league game. Sandberg spent most of his first season as the Cubs third baseman.

Sandberg and Boggs would eventually enter the Hall of Fame together in 2005. For Sandberg it was his 3rd year of eligibility but Boggs was a 1st ballot Hall of Famer.

Monday, February 16, 2015

1982 Donruss Rated Rookies: Gaetti, McGee, LaPoint, Hostetler

In 1982 both the AL and NL Rookies of the Year were featured in every set. Cal Ripken and Steve Sax were on Rookie Stars cards in the regular Topps set and each had their own card in the Traded set. They both also had Donruss and Fleer cards in 1982. 

There were 15 other players receiving Rookie of the year votes in 1982.  Of those 15, Pittsburgh's Johnny Ray and Cleveland's Von Hayes both received the full compliment of 1982 cards (Topps, Topps Traded, Donruss and Fleer).

Seven other players who received votes for Rookie of the Year in 1982 appeared on at least 1 card issued that season: Minnesota's Kent Hrbek, Seattle's Ed Vande Berg, Toronto's Jesse Barfield, San Francisco's Chili Davis, Atlanta's Steve Bedrosian and San Diego's Luis DeLeon and Eric Show.

So in order to soothe my rookie OCD, I tried to incorporate the design elements of the original set into this multi-player Donruss Rated Rookie card. I included 4 more players who received Rookie of the Year votes: Minnesota's Gary Gaetti, St. Loius's Willie McGee and Dave LaPoint, and Texas's Dave Hostetler. 

In  my next post I will put the remaining players onto a 1982 Fleer rookie card.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rating the Rookies: 1972 Expos Rookie Stars

Back to one of my new favorites, Rating the Rookies. This time the random number generator gave me 601 or this 1972 Topps Rookie Stars card. Most of the rookie cards in 1972 featured 3 players. Only 6 of the 29 1972 rookies had 2 players so this is somewhat of an oddity.

Terry Humphrey got the majority of starts behind the plate for the Expos in 1972. But the 22 year old backstop couldn't break the Mendoza line. The Expos supplemented the position with veteran catchers John Boccabella and Tim McCarver in the 1972 season.  But it was the players in their minor league system at the time that would ultimately lead to his departure. Barry Foote was the #1 draft pick of the Expos in 1970 and was their catcher of the future.  So much so that when Gary Carter came up, he was primarily used in the outfield. 

With their bounty of catchers, the Expos dealt Humphrey to the Tigers at the end of the 1974 season for pitcher Woody Fryman. Humphrey was traded to the Astros then eventually the Angels in 1976 where he ended his career after being released in July of 1979. 

In addition to his rookie card he appeared in the 1973 Topps set but was skipped over for the 1974 and 1975 sets. He re-appeared on a 1976 card for the Tigers. He then had 1977, 1978 and 1979 cards in an Angels uniform.

For his "card that never was", I filled in one of the lost years with Humphrey looking less than thrilled to be on this 1974 card:

Keith Lampard was a promising minor leaguer in the Astros organization as was evidenced by his inclusion on 2 previous "Rookie Stars" cards in 1970 and 1971:

In November of 1971 the Expos pick up Lampard in the Rule 5 draft which is why Topps airbrushed an Expos logo on his cap and included him on this card:

However, Lampard didn't make the cut in spring training and by rule the Expos couldn't send him to the minors and had to sell him back to the Astros for half price. Houston sold him to the Cardinals organization who then traded him to the Phillies after the 1972 season. 

Keith Lampard played 9 games in 1969 and 53 games in 1970 with the Astros. He only had 20 Major League hits but half of them were for extra bases.

Even though he never played a big league game after the 1970 season, Topps felt a need to give him 2 more rookie cards in 1971 and 1972. So for his "card that never was", I figured I'd follow suit. Here he is on a 1973 rookie card along with a couple players that actually did make their debut in 1973. 

Overall I would have to give this card a C-

The card itself  gets points because it is kinda cool due to the unusual 2 player format. But it loses points due to the airbrushed Expos cap. Humphrey was the primary catcher on the Expos in 1972 and went on to play in the bigs until 1979. Lampard himself was a decent minor league player with 114 homers and a career average of .290. If I were a betting man in spring of 1972, I would have bet the Expos would roster him. Franchises don't usually spend the money to pick a player in the Rule 5 just to return him.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

1968 Topps NL Stolen Base Leaders: Lou Brock, Maury Wills, Joe Morgan

In 1967 it was Lou Brock atop the NL in stolen bases again, this time with 52. Brock also got his first All Star start in 1967. Maury Wills and Joe Morgan were tied for second with 29 swipes each. Although Wills stolen base tally was down, his other offensive stats were solid as ever. The speedster went from leading off and playing shortstop for the Dodgers in 1966 to batting second and playing 3rd base for the Pirates in 1967. Joe Morgan at 23 years old had the highest stolen base total of his young career with 29. He would eventually eclipse that total many times over.

Monday, February 9, 2015

1968 Topps AL Stolen Base Leaders: Bert Campaneris, Don Buford, Tommie Agee

This is nearly a reprint of the 1966 A.L. Stolen Base Leader card I made a while back:

Exact same players, for the exact same teams in the exact same order. And once again The A's and White Sox teams led the AL in steals. 132 for the A's and 124 for the Sox. The next closest were the Bosox with 68.

Campy led the league for the 3rd straight year with 55. Buford was 2nd with 34 but led the league in  getting caught with 21. Tommie Agee was in 3rd with 28 but was the only one to play in the 1967 All Star game. In the bottom of the 8th he came to pinch run for Don Mincher.  He advanced to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. Unfortunately he was stranded there and never took the field. The AL lost 2-1 in 15 innings.

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