Thursday, April 28, 2016

TBT - New York Mets Edition

Throwback Thursday

Ok this will be a quick and dirty post I will try to actually publish every Thursday. I will make a retro card of a current player from the era of the throwback uni he is wearing. I will also post an actual card from that era as a comparison point.

Earlier this month the Mets celebrated the 30th anniversary of their 1986 World Series championship by donning the uniforms they wore that season. Here is "Captain America" David Wright. And as a point of comparison, here is the 1986 card of World Series MVP Ray Knight
As you can see it is a fairly true representation.  As a side note, the person who actually designed these iconic uniforms has a terrific Mets blog. If you are reading that from a Cub fan then you know it must be good. Click here to check it out.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

TBT - Pittsburgh Pirates Edition

Throwback Thursday

Ok this will be a quick and dirty post I will try to actually publish every Thursday. I will make a retro card of a current player from the era of the throwback uni he is wearing. I will also post an actual card from that era as a comparison point.

This week I'm doing Pirates second baseman, Josh Harrison from a recent game against the Brewers. By comparison here is a 1980 card of Phil Garner. As you can see the Pirates made a pretty good match except for the hosiery.

The only other thing missing is the Stargell Stars on the cap. These were originated in 1978. Willie Stargell would give them out to players in recognition of a good play or a good game. The buzzkills in the MLB front office nixed the rebirth of the stars when the Pirates attempted to use them during the 2013 playoffs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

1971 Topps NL Stolen Base Leaders: Bobby Tolan, Lou Brock, Bobby Bonds

From 1966-1974 Lou Brock led the NL in stolen bases every year but one. 1970 was that year. It was not that Brock had an off year. He still had 13 homers and 51 stolen bases while batting .304 in 155 games.  Bobby Tolan just had a slightly better season. He had 16 homers, 57 stolen bases and an average of .316. Unfortunately, Tolan would miss the entire 1971 season after tearing his Achilles tendon playing basketball. 

1970 was a year with many career highs for Bobby Bonds. He had a career high 48 stolen bases. He also had highs in hits with 200, runs with 134, doubles with 36, triples with 10 and batting average with .302. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

1971 Topps AL Stolen Base Leaders: Bert Campaneris, Tommy Harper, Sandy Alomar

Bert Campaneris's stolen base production dropped from 62 in 1969 to 42 in 1970. Yet he went from second place to league leader. The reason is that 1969 stolen base leader, Tommy Harper saw his numbers drop even more significantly. He went from 73 in 1969 to only 38 in 1970. By contrast Harper's home run production skyrocketed. He went from 9 in 1969 for the Seattle Pilots to a career high 31 with the Brewers. He was also the first Brewer selected to the All Star game in 1970. He was brought in as a pinch-runner and was thrown out by Johnny Bench trying to steal second. 

Sandy Alomar will always have a close place in my heart. Not because of his meaningless All Star at-bat in 1970, nor because of his 3rd place stolen base performance in 1970. Instead it was because of his kindness to my son at his first baseball game ever. It was the 2001 season and we had seats on the 3rd base line.  Right behind the Cubs bullpen. My  5 year old son was chatting with every player that came his way.  Including bullpen coach Sandy Alomar. And Sandy not only chatted with him but gave him a ball mid-game,  He also autographed it for him after the game. My son is away at college now but that autographed ball is still in his abandoned bedroom. He may have trouble remembering it because he was only 5 years old, but I will remember it forever.

Thank You Sandy. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

1971 Topps NL Leading Firemen: Wayne Granger, Dave Giusti, Jim Brewer

For the second year in a row Wayne Granger was the Sporting News Fireman of the Year.  He had a career best 35 saves and received MVP and Cy Young votes. His efforts helped the Reds to a National League pennant in 1970.  But his success didn't carry over to the World Series. He gave up a grand slam to Orioles pitcher Dave McNally in a 9-3 loss in game 3. He didn't fare much better in the 5th and final game. He surrendered 4 runs, 2 of them earned while recording only 2 outs in another 9-3 loss. 

After going 3-7 as a starter for the Cardinals in 1969 Dave Giusti was sent to the bullpen mid season. When the season ended, he was dealt to the Pirates as part of a 4 player deal. On the Pirates he found his place as a closer, earning 9 wins and 26 saves.  He came in 4th in Cy Young  voting and 9th in the 1970 NL  MVP race.

When the Dodgers dealt Ron Perranoski to the Twins after the 1967 season, Jim Brewer inherited the role of closer. In 1970 he had a career high 24 saves. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

1971 Topps AL Leading Firemen: Ron Perranoski, Lindy McDaniel, Tom Timmermann

Going back to a theme that I haven't done in months: League Leader Cards That Never Were. For reasons only known to Topps, there were no stolen base nor saves leader cards until 1973. In the earliest incarnations of the leader cards this extended into missing RBI leader cards as well. Those weren't included until the 1964 set.

For those not familiar with the term Leading Fireman, it was an award given out by The Sporting News for the leagues' best closers. I was supposed to be based on a formula combining relief wins and saves. However this seemed to be inconsistent and sometimes he award was given to a pitcher that didn't statistically fit that supposed formula, see here. So for the purposes of my leader cards, I went to using saves leaders

For the second year in a row Ron Perranoski won the Sporting News Fireman of the Year award. With a league leading 34 saves he also received Cy Young and MVP votes in 1970. Meanwhile, the runner up was Yankees reliever, Lindy McDaniel who was Fireman of the Year with the Cardinals in 1960 and the Cubs in 1963. Rounding out the top 3 was Tom Timmermann. In his second year in the big leagues, Timmermann had a career high 27 saves.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

1954 Topps Joe Garagiola


Joe Garagiola passed away yesterday at he age of 90. A St. Louis native who spent most of his career with the Cardinals. He also played for Pittsburgh and ended his career with the New York Giants in 1954. He came to the Cubs in 1953 in a trade that also brought Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner. Athough he appeared on Bowman cards from 1951-1954 his only Topps card was in 1952. So here is my tribute to him representing my hometown team in 1954.

After baseball, Garagiola went into broadcasting. But his skills went beyond just calling the plays or providing color. He was on the Today Show, hosted several game shows and even guest-hosted for Johnny Carson. During that time his business card was actually a Topps-made 1973 style baseball card. There are several of these floating around out there, many of them signed by Garagiola himself.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cards That Never Were - 32nd Series Checklist - Walt Williams

This time a full 16 of the 25 Cards That Never Were in this series were created for my other blog, Rating The Rookies. It also include 2 tribute cards. Both Walt Williams and Hall of Famer, Monte Irvin passed away during the making of this series. 

When I started making this version of checklist, I wanted to include a photo similar to the 1967-69 Topps. I never really intended the photo to be a memorial, but it seems to have worked out that way. I used Minnie Minoso in my 29th, Doug Buffone in my 30th, Yogi Berra in my 31st and now Walt Williams in my 32nd. I could have used Monte Irvin but felt the design had more of a '70s vibe, so I went with "No-Neck". 

I included 2 versions of my custom 1969 Deckle Joe Morgan. After I made the first version using a candid shot of Morgan. A reader commented that it was somewhat of an anachronism. So I made another similar to how Topps would have made one at the time, posed with the Astros logo air-brushed out. Also while creating this checklist, I noticed I spelled Marc Hill with a "k" inadvertently so it is designated "UER" for uncorrected error. 

As usual, you can click here to see all the cards from this series along with Series 31 without all those boring words to slow you down. Or you can check out this series or any of my other series by clicking on the mini-checklists in the right margin.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What's going on at my other blog?

Just a quick post of some of the Cards That Never Were that I created for my other blog: Rating the Rookies. Perhaps this would be a good time to point out something that almost every collector knows: for every rookie card that has a legit future star, there are dozens of players that don't make it big. This batch of cards certainly proves that point.

Most of Dave Bennett and Morrie Steevens (no, not a typo) short MLB careers were behind them by the time they appeared together on this 1965 Phillies Rookie Stars card.  Steevens ended up pitching just 2.2 innings in 1965 which was exactly 2.2 more than Bennett. 

Tommy Matchick and Daryl Patterson were on the same 1968 Tigers Rookie Stars card. At face value, it looks like any other mundane rookie card. But it seems like there is always a good story hidden somewhere. Just ask Pedro Borbon, AKA the "Dominican Dracula".

Chuck Coles was an early one and done. His one and only baseball card was a Topps Sporting News  Rookie Stars of 1959 card. 1959 was the birth of the designated rookie card. Unfortunately, most of the players in that series didn't live up to Topps' expectations.

Randy Bass, Jim Gaudet, and Randy McGilberry were captured in grainy black and white on a  Royals 1979 Prospects card. Only one of them actually played on the Royals in 1979.

In 1973 Tom Paciorek and Jorge Roque shared a 1973 Rookie Outfielders card with the 1973 NL Rookie of the Year, Gary Matthews Sr. I had to dig deep to create Cards That Never Were for Paciorek and Roque but had several already in the bank for Mathews right here.

Friday, March 4, 2016

1980 Topps Nolan Ryan

Houston Astros CTNW Favorites #1

The blockbuster move of the 1979 off-season was the free-agent signing of  Nolan Ryan. Ryan became the first million dollar player in Major League Baseball. His 1980 salary for the Astros, $1,125,000 was more than his combined salary for all his previous 13 MLB seasons with the Mets and Angels.

To this day, Ryan has the most strikeouts of any Astros pitcher with 1866. Yet his 106 wins in an Astros uniform was only good enough for 6th place. He had 1 less than J.R. Richard and 28 fewer than Astros all-time leader Joe Niekro, both of whom are featured on my top 5 list.

Although Houston signed Ryan in November of 1979, he still appeared as an Angel in the 1980 Topps set. I created this card using a press conference photo with Ryan wearing his new team jersey over a dress shirt and tie. I'm not sure if Topps would have gone this route or simply relied on the trusty old air-brush.

There was a 1980 Topps-issued card featuring Ryan on the Astros. Burger King offered a 3 pack of Pitch, Hit and Run cards with the purchase of a large fries. This 33 card set featured 11 pitchers, 11 hitters and 11 runners. It was also the first set to feature Joe Morgan in an Astros uniform after his free agency signing in January of 1980.