Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1973 Topps Tommy Davis

While doing a little research on 1973 designated hitters, I happened to notice that there wasn't a card for Tommy Davis in 1973.  My OCD would not allow me to let this go un-corrected. 

Like Orlando Cepeda, Davis played very little in 1971 and 1972 but his career was revived by the adoption of the designated hitter. In 1973 he played in 137 games, 128 as a DH. He batted .306 which was 3rd in the A.L. By contrast, Davis played a combined total of 120 games in 1971 and 1972.  

When you look at the top 5 DHs in 1973 you can see it was populated by stars who's careers may have been over had it not been adopted by the American League in 1973. With 142 games each at DH were Orlando Cepeda and Tony Oliva:

Tommy Davis was 3rd on the list with 128 games at DH followed by Fran Robinson at 127. As long as I was adding the "Designated Hitter" label to his 1973 Topps card, I figured I may as well take advantage of the opportunity to use a picture of him in the correct uniform:

Rounding out the top 5 was Gates Brown with 118 games at DH.  Brpwn was the relative youngster of the group at just 34 years old and in his 11th year in the Majors:

Monday, July 21, 2014

1966 Topps Football Checklist - Cards That Never Were - 25th Series

A bit of a tight squeeze getting all 25 cards into that small space. This series includes my Royals top-5, all 16 1980 Rookie of the Year candidates and the All Star Honorary Captains from 1978. 1979 and 1980. Unfortunately it also included 3 tributes: Don Zimmer, Chuck Noll, and Tony Gwynn. If you want to see all the cards from this series in one place click here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

1973 Topps Orlando Cepeda

A few posts back I remade the 1973 Topps Hal McRae card. I showed him in a Royals uniform and made his position "Designated Hitter". This was not one of the positions choices available in the 1973 set but it really should have been. Especially in the later series. While McRae was primarily a DH throughout his career, in 1973 the Royals used the DH position the way it is commonly used now. Most teams rotate their DH among a few players, using it to give them a rest. 

But that was not the case with Orlando Cepeda. He played DH in the very first game in the AL in 1973 along with Ron Blomberg. Blomberg's first at-bat was in the top of the 1st. Cepeda's was in the bottom of the 2nd. But Cepeda played in 142 games in 1973, every one of them at DH. Blomberg played 100 games for the Yankees in 1973, 56 of them at DH. 

Cepeda's 1973 card shows him as a 1st baseman for the A's. He never played in the field for the A's. He pinch hit in 3 games going 0 for 3 in 1972. The Red Sox signed him one week after the American League approved DH rule for the sole purpose of using him at DH. Cepeda delivered. He hit a respectable .289 with 20 homers and 86 RBIs and he played in more games than he did in the last 2 seasons combined. This card was from the final series of 1973 by which time I would think that Topps could have (A) recognized the existence of the DH, and/or (B) acknowledged a trade that took place in January.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

1980 All Star Game Honorary Captains: Roy Campanella & Al Kaline

Rounding out my 2014 All Star Break set are the Honorary Captains of the 1980 All Star game in Los Angeles.

Representing the National League was 1969 Hall of Fame inductee and Dodgers fan favorite, Roy Campanella. Campanella appeared on one of the earliest "Card That Never Were" I am aware of, when Topps put him on a 1951 card as part of the 1975 MVP subset. A three-time MVP, Topps would also have to create a 1955 card of him (as well as a 1962 Maury Wills card).

Representing the 1980 American League All Stars in was 1980 Hall of Fame inductee Al Kaline. Kaline was a first ballot Hall of Famer with over 88% of the vote. He was also the youngest player to win the batting title in 1955. Signed by the Tigers in 1953, Kaline spent all 22 MLB seasons in Detroit. He retired at the end of the 1974 season just 1 homer shy of the 400 mark.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1979 All Star Game Honorary Captains: Carl Hubbell & Lefty Gomez

In honor of tonight's All Star Game here is another posting of past Honorary Captains.

35 years ago the All Star Game was held in the Kingdome in Seattle. The Honorary Captains were both Hall of Fame pitchers who appeaerd in the very first All Star game at Comiskey Park. The game was conceived as part of the 1933 Worlds Fair in Chicago and has been an annual affair ever since.

In that first game Hubbell pitched the final 2 scoreless innings in relief. He surrendered a a walk to Lou Gehrig and a single to Jimmy Dykes.

The American League's Honorary Captain was the starting pitcher in the 1933 All Star game. He pitched 3 scoreless innings and was credited with the win. The American League won the 1933 All Star game 4-2 in 1933 but lost the 1979 All Star game to the Nationals on a bases loaded walk to Lee Mazzilli in the top of the 9th. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

1978 All Star Game Honorary Captains: Eddie Mathews & Brooks Robinson

It's the All Star break and time to add to my collection of All Star Game Honorary Captains.

In 1978 Eddie Mathews was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was also selected to represent the National League as Honorary Captain at the 1978 All Star game in San Diego. Mathews was the only player to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta and hit 493 of his 512 home runs in a Braves uniform.

The American League Honorary Captain was Brooks Robinson. "The Human Vacuum" had just hung up his cleats following the 1977 season. Robinson was a first ballot Hall of Famer with 92% of the vote in 1983.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

1975 Kellogg's George Brett

Kansas City Royals CTNW Favorites #1

The 1975 Kellogg's set was a mere 57 cards deep. For the most part it was comprised of veteran players. George Brett wouldn't be found in cereal boxes until after he had won his first batting title in 1976. So despite finishing 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1974, Brett was not part of the 1975 Kellogg's set. Still, how cool would it be to have a 3D rookie card of a future Hall of Famer? And following the line of thought from my previous post, Brett is the only player to go into the Hall of Fame with a Royals cap on his plaque. He was drafted by the Royals in 1971 and played his entire 21 season MLB career in Kansas City. While the other 4 of my picks can certainly be disputed, there can really be no other player at number one. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

1983 Topps Gaylord Perry

Kansas City Royals CTNW Favorites #2

The Kansas City Royals have rostered a total of 7 Hall of Famers. Three of them were picked up in the final year of their career. Gaylord Perry was a well-traveled pitcher. He played for 8 different teams during his 22 year career, winning the Cy Young award in both the A.L. and N.L. He won it for the Indians in 1972 and Padres in 1978. In his final season he was 4-4 in 14 starts for the Royals. 

The Royals also picked up.Orlando Cepeda for a short stint at the end of his career in 1974. I had created this card for an earlier installment on this page back in 2011. Similarly, after 21 years in the Senators/Twins organization, Harmon Killebrew spent his final season wearing Royal blue. This beautiful card can be found on the Royal Heritage blog.

The Royals also had 3 Hall of Famers at the helm. In their inaugural season the Royals manager was Hall of Fame second baseman Joe "Flash" Gordon. In 1970 the Royals hired Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Lemon to run the show. In the middle of the 1975 season Whitey Herzog replaced a relatively young Jack McKeon. Unlike Gordon and Lemon, Herzog was inducted into the Hall as a manager not a player. Unfortunately, it was mostly due to his career with the Cardinals after he left the Royals. None of these managers were Hall of Famers during their tenure with the Royals. Bob Lemon was inducted in 1976, Tom Gordon in 2009 and Whitey Herzog was enshrined in 2010.

Spoiler alert: the Royals had one more Hall of Famer and he is the subject of my next post.

Monday, July 7, 2014

1986 Fleer Bo Jackson

Kansas City Royals CTNW Favorites #3

Bo Jackson was the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner and the overall #1 pick in the NFL draft by the Buccaneers in 1986. A two-sport star in college, Bo hit .401 for Auburn in 1985.  But his 1986 baseball season was cut short. He was ruled ineligible for taking a trip on the Buccaneers owner's jet to visit the team despite being assured that it had been cleared by the NCAA. Bo felt he was duped by the Bucs and vowed not to play for them. Instead he played for the Royals. Initially he played for their AA team the Memphis chicks but was called up to the show in September of 1986. 

Topps responded by including Bo in their 1986 Traded set. Likewise, Donruss included him in both their Highlights and their Rookies sets. Fleer was the only major card company that didn't have a card of this highly anticipated and much publicized player during his rookie season.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

1973 Topps Hal McRae

Kansas City Royals CTNW Favorites #4

In November of 1972 Hal McRae was traded to the Royals. He was used primarily as a pinch hitter by the Reds ever since breaking his leg in 1969. Coincidentally, 1973 was the first season in which the American League had the designated hitter. It seemed like a perfect match. McRae played in 2084 MLB games but only 516 in the field. He is #5 on the Royals All Time list in hits, #4 in homers, #2 in doubles and #2 in RBIs. McRae had a card in the 1973 Topps set. He was depicted as an outfielder for the Reds.  The 1973 Topps set had no design for designated hitters but I think this McRae card merits the creation of a new design.

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