Monday, December 31, 2012

1993 Topps Mickey Mantle

This is the 21st Mickey Mantle card in a series consisting of the 23 Topps sets without a Mantle. When this began there were 25 from 1971-1995, since then Topps released mini versions of 1975 and 1987 Mantles. 

Overall the 1993 set is a pretty good looking set. Fairly simple, team colors, horizontal variations. Still there is no official team logo or player position. I think the addition of either of these would make the design too busy. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

1981 Donruss Carlton Fisk

In 1981 Topps suddenly had 2 new competitors.  Topps upped their game by adding a "Traded" series. Donruss and Fleer had only the regular issue.  Since Fisk was signed by the White Sox in mid-March of 1981, all 3 card companies had him depicted as a Red Sox. Fisk first appeared in a White Sox uniform in the 1981 Topps Traded set. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

1975 Topps 1972 Rookies of the Year

Although the 1972 AL Rookie of the Year, Carlton Fisk, was 2 years older than his NL counterpart, his playing career would extend a decade after Jon Matlack retired. Both players were selected to the 1974 and 1976 All Star Teams but in 1974 Fisk remained on the bench and in 1976 Matlack never got out of the bullpen. They would face each other after Matlack was traded to the Rangers in 1978. Fisk hit .400 with 2 homers in 27 plate appearances against Matlack. 

1975 was a notable year for both players. Matlack was co-MVP of the All Star Game along with Cubs 3rd baseman Bill Madlock. And who can forget Fisk's game 6 homer?

Monday, December 17, 2012

1972 Topps Jon Matlack

Jon Matlack was 17 years old when he was chosen by the Mets in the 1st round of the 1967 draft. But with a solid rotation including the likes of Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver, and Nolan Ryan, the Mets organization allowed him time to develop in the minors. He got a brief call up in 1971 when Koosman went on the DL, but went 0-3 in 6 starts. When Ryan was traded to the Angels, Matlack had a permanent place in the rotation and he made the most of it. He wen 15-10 with an ERA of 2.32 earning him the NL Rookie of the Year award.  Matlack is also know for surrendering Roberto Clemente's 3000th and tragically his final Major League hit in 1972.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

1972 Topps Carlton Fisk

Though Fisk made brief MLB appearances in 1969 and 1971, he broke out in a big way in 1972. He made his first of 11 All Star game appearances, earned a Gold Glove Award, and was the unanimous choice for AL Rookie of the Year. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

1968 Topps Nolan Ryan

Going Horizontal

Sometimes life gets busy and we all need to take a break. I haven't abandoned the blog but it has been put on the back shelf. I do have several cards made that I want to share, and a few continuing themes that I don't want to leave unfinished.  

This is one of those cards I had sitting around. I made it in response to a comment by Vonnoosh back in June. I was also starting to play with the idea of making horizontal "action" cards in sets where none existed. This was before I decide to use All Star Game MVPs as the subject for the Horizontal cards.

I have every intention of continuing this blog for my own entertainment if nothing else. I may post a little less frequently, but I have a few new ideas I want to explore.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1976 Kellogg's Chris Chambliss

Yankees ALCS History

This is the Yankees 15th appearance in the American League Championship Series. In the Yankees first appearance in the ALCS one player dominated. Chris Chambliss hit .524 with 2 homers including a pennant clinching walk-off homer in the 9th inning of Game 5. Since 1976, the Yankees have won 11 pennants and lost 3. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

1964 Topps Johnny Callison All Star MVP

Going Horizontal

Johnny Callison was an unlikely hero of the 1964 All Star Game. He came in to pinch hit for Jim Bunning in the 5th inning. He popped out to short, In the 7th he popped out again to Center. But in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at 4, Callison blasted a 3 run, walk-off homer to right field and the NL won 7-4.

Monday, October 1, 2012

1992 Topps Mickey Mantle

I think Topps took a step backwards with the 1992 set. Again the team logos were gone as were the player positions. But the team colors were still present as were the horizontal variations. I've been waiting to find a chance to use this shot of Mantle playing first base. Although his 1968 and 1969 cards list him as a first baseman both cards have him posed with a bat. In fact the only Topps card to feature a defensive Mantle is the 1956. Because he was so impressive with his bat, people forget that he was a Gold Glove winner.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

1974 Topps Traded Chris Chambliss

In April of 1974 Chris Chambliss was part of an 8 player trade between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees.  He became a key player in restoring the Yankees to their former glory. In his only All Star season, 1976, he hit .293 with 17 homers and 96 RBIs in the regular season. In the ALCS he hit a staggering .524 with 2 homers including a walk-off in game 5 to send the Yankees to their first World Series since 1964.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

1975 Topps 1971 Rookies of the Year

The American League Rookie of the Year, Chris Chambliss, didn't have a Topps card in 1971. The National League winner, Earl Williams, shared a "Rookie Stars" card with Oscar Brown. Williams' position on that card was 1st Base even though he would spend most of his rookie season and his career as catcher. 

Both Chambliss and Williams were decisive winners but neither were unanimous. In the NL, Williams bested Willie Montanez. Montanez hit 30 Homers with 99 RBIs playing centerfield for the Phillies. In the American League, Chambliss beat out 2 rookie pitchers with losing records; Bill Parsons and Paul Splittorff. Also receiving R.O.Y. votes were Boston 2nd baseman Doug Griffin and A's centerfielder Angel Mangual. To Topps' credit, of all the Rookie of the Year candidates, only Bill Parsons and Chris Chambliss didn't have cards in the 1971 set.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

1971 Topps Earl Williams

Earl Williams was a pitcher in high school when he was drafted by the Braves in the first round of the 1965 draft. As a minor leaguer in the Braves' system he would pitch only 8 games before becoming a position player. He played first, third, and the outfield. He even played a game at shortstop but he didn't play catcher until his rookie season in the majors. His began the 1971 season platooning at 1st and 3rd. By June he had found a home behind the plate. His bat made up for his defensive shortcomings. He hit 33 homers his rookie year.

After 2 solid seasons in Atlanta, Baltimore's Earl Weaver said "Give me Earl Williams and I'll win the pennant." He got Williams but he had to give up 2 starting pitchers, his everyday first baseman and everyday catcher. The Orioles won their division in both 1973 and 1974 but could not get past the Oakland A's. In 1975 Williams was dealt back to the Brave along with cash for a minor league pitcher. 

By 1978, Williams was on the outside looking in. He even went so far as to place an ad in the New York Times:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

1971 Chris Chambliss

Chris Chambliss was drafted  by Cincinnati in 1967 and 1968 but he declined and went to UCLA where he played one season in 1969. He was drafted again in the 1970 January draft. He was the first overall pick. He played one full season in the minors for the Indian's  AAA team in Wichita where he was named 1970 Rookie of the Year. In 1971 Chambliss joined the the big league club and was named Rookie of the Year again.

Friday, September 21, 2012

1964 Topps Lou Brock

St. Louis Cardinals CTNW Favorites #1

The one that got away.

If the Cubs had not traded Lou Brock in 1964 would they have won it all in 1969? In 1969 Brock hit .298, scored 97 runs and stole 53 bases. The Cubs other 2 outfielders, not named Billy Williams, both hit under .240, and combined for 74 runs scored. The entire Cubs team stole a mere 30 bases. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

1955 Bowman Stan Musial

St. Louis Cardinals CTNW Favorites #2

Stan Musial was notably missing from mainstream baseball cards in the '50s. He had a contract with Bowman and had cards in 1948, 1949, 1952 and 1953. But from 1954-57 he didn't have any cards at all. He simply didn't want to sign a contract with Topps. In 1958 Gussie Busch, the owner of the Cardinals, approached Sy Berger of Topps for a charitable contribution. Berger offered $1500 if Musial would sign a contract. A Stan Musial All Star card was added to the final series of the 1958 set but there wouldn't be a regular issue Topps card until 1959.

In 2011 Topps issued several "Lost Cards" of Musial, including 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957. In 2006 Topps produced a Walmart exclusive 1952 Musial card and in 2007 There was an eTopps version of the 1954. So far I have not seen an official Topps version of Musial on a 1951 card nor have I seen any remakes of the missing Bowman years, 1950, 51, 54 or 1955.

Monday, September 17, 2012

1976 Topps Bob Gibson

St. Louis Cardinals CTNW Favorites #3

Bob Gibson retired at the end of the 1975 season. Over his career he appeared in 9 All Star games, getting the start in his final appearance in 1972. He won the Cy Young in 1970 and in 1968 won both the Cy Young and MVP award. That year he went 22-9 with 13 shutouts and a gaudy 1.12 ERA. He pitched in 9 World series games. He was 7-2 with 8 complete games. Not only was he an intimidating pitcher but he could hit and play the field. He had 5 home runs in both 1965 and 1972. He was also a Gold Glove winner for 9 consecutive seasons.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rush & Blackhawks at the United Center

Caught the Rush concert last night in Chicago. During the encore a gorilla and a chicken wearing Blackhawk jerseys came on stage. They were followed by several Blackhawk players, Kane, Toews, Keith, Carcillo and a few others. The players attacked the mascots(?) then left the stage. A funny and weird ending to a great concert.  Even if the NHL & the players' union will work things out, I think the chances of seeing Geddy and the boys chasing Tommy Hawk around the rink during a game would be slim.

Friday, September 14, 2012

1982 Fleer Ozzie Smith

St. Louis Cardinals CTNW Favorites #4

Ozzie Smith started his MLB career in San Diego. He had 4 solid years. He came in 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting, appeared in an All Star game and earned 2 Gold Gloves. When the Cards picked him up in 1982 he continued his streak of All Star/Gold Glove season for 11 consecutive years. He would also earn a Silver Slugger award and would receive MVP votes 6 times on his way to the Hall of Fame. In 1982 he also got a World Series ring.

In December of 1981 Ozzie Smith was traded to the Cardinals. All three major card manufacturers still had cards of him in a Padres uniform. Only Topps had a traded card of Smith on the Cardinals. Fleer wouldn't have an update series until 1984. Donruss would eventually create a "Rookies" series which didn't include traded players.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

1963 Fleer Curt Flood

St. Louis Cardinals CTNW Favorites #5

In 1963 Curt Flood won his first of 7 consecutive Gold Gloves. The other two Gold Glove winners in the outfield were Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente. Pretty good company. 

Despite his All Star performance on the field, Flood is most associated with his challenge of the Reserve Clause. He was part of a 7 player trade that brought Dick Allen to St. Louis. But Flood refused to be sent to Philadelphia. The Phillies played in the 60+ year old Connie Mack Stadium and had just come off a 99 loss season. The only teams with more losses in 1969 were the 2 N.L. expansion teams, the Expos and Padres. He was also wary of the fans in Philadelphia. Dick Allen was often the target of verbal (and often racist) attacks by his hometown fans. He was also the target of debris thrown by fans, famously including batteries. He eventually took to wearing a batting helmet while playing defense.

Although his battle against the reserve clause would go all the way to the US Supreme Court, it was struck down. In 1970 the MLB ushered in the 10/5 rule. Nicknamed the "Curt Flood Rule", it allowed for any player with 10 years in the MLB and 5 years on the same team to veto any trade.

Monday, September 10, 2012

1963 Topps Willie Mays All Star MVP

Going Horizontal

Willie Mays is no stranger to the All Star game. He played in every one from the time he returned from military service in 1954 to his final season in 1973. In 1963 he won his first All Star Game MVP. Mays went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk. He had 2 stolen bases, 2 RBI's and scored twice  accounting for 4 of the N.L.'s 5 runs in their 5-3 victory. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

1991 Topps Mickey Mantle

I know some will disagree, but I think Topps put out a pretty decent product for it's 40th anniversary. They included the player position, used team logos, had better photos, and returned to the horizontal action variations. Another cool thing Topps did was issue cards to the troops in Kuwait during operation Desert Shield. Unfortunately I could not figure out a way to recreate the foil stamp used on the Desert Shield cards for this one.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

1970 Topps Bert Blyleven

Before I move on from the 1970 rookie class, it was mentioned that the 1970 Topps set was one of the few sets that contained no rookie cards of Hall of Famers. There is a good reason for this. Only one future Hall of Famer made his debut in 1970, Bert Blyleven.  

At 19, Blyleven went 10-9 after being called up in June.  He was named 1970 A.L. Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. Blyleven did not post gaudy numbers throughout his career. Instead his Hall of Fame credentials are based on his consistency and longevity.  In a career that spanned 23 years he appeared in only 2 All Star games, had just one 20 win season and led the league in strike outs once. He never led the league in the other 2 "Triple Crown" stats, wins or ERA. But at the end of his career he had amassed 287 victories and is 5th among all-time strike out  leaders with 3701.

Monday, September 3, 2012

1977 Topps Carl Morton

Carl Morton's Rookie of the Year season in Montreal was followed by 2 sub .500 season. After the 1972 season he was dealt to the Braves for reliever Pat Jarvis. Morton then had 3 consecutive season with 15+ wins. After going 4-9 in 1976 he was traded along with 4 other players and $250,000 to the Rangers for the 1974 A.L. MVP, Jeff Burroughs.  Morton was released by the Rangers before the start of the season and was picked up by the Phillies. He spent the 1977 season pitching for their AA farm team. He went 9-12 and was released at the end of the season. He made an attempt to come back for the Pirates in 1978 but once again was released before the start of the season.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shout Out

The Virtual Card Collection

Here is a card I wish I made. I found this card on a site called The Virtual Card Collection. It has hundreds of scanned images of vintage baseball cards. It also has a small collection of "Cards That Never Were" 

In 1964 Topps created an "In Memoriam" card for Ken Hubbs  the 1962 Rookie of the Year who died in an accident while learning to fly.

In 1979 Munson, the 1970 Rookie of the Year, met a tragically similar fate. He was practicing landings on his Cessna Citation when he clipped a tree and crashed short of the runway.  Given the popularity and recent success of Munson and the New York Yankees, it would seem like a no-brainer for Topps to dedicate a card in its 1980 set to Munson. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

1975 Topps 1970 Rookies of the Year

In 1970 Thurman Munson was the near-unanimous Rookie of the Year. He received 23 of 24 votes, with the only other vote going to Roy Foster. Foster hit an impressive 23 homers while batting .268. His numbers and playing time dropped drasticly after the 1970 season and he was back in the minors by 1973. Munson went on to have what might have been a Hall of Fame career if it hadn't been tragically cut short.

The National League Rookie of the Year voting was much more diverse. Carl Morton got 11 of the 24 votes on the strength of an 18 win season for the last place Expos. Origianlly signed as an outfielder by the Braves, Morton helped his own cause by hitting a couple homers.  Others getting R.O.Y. votes were Bernie Carbo, Larry Bowa, Wayne Simpson and Cesar Cedeno. Although no Hall of Famers, the list reads like a who's who of '70s semi-stars. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1970 Topps Carl Morton

Carl Morton was signed by the Braves in 1964 as an outfielder. He hit .250 with 13 homers in 1965 for the Braves single A club. In 1966 he hit another 13 homers but his average dipped to .227. In 1967 he was made a pitcher. He led his team in victories, strike outs and innings pitched in both 1967 and 1968. After the 1968 season, the Expos selected him in expansion draft.  In his first MLB start he pitched 9 scoreless innings against the Cubs. He got a no decision as the Cubbies won 1-0 in 12 innings. He lost his next 3 starts giving up 10 runs in 10.1 innings. His career year was 1970 with 18 wins. Not only did he win the NL Rookie of the Year award but also received votes for MVP and Cy Young awards.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

1970 Topps Thurman Munson

Thurman Munson is the only player to win both the Rookie of the Year (1970) and MVP (1976) in a Yankees uniform. Munson was the first player given the title of Team Captain for the Yankees since Lou Gehrig in 1939. He was the Yankees' first round draft pick in 1967 and spent his entire MLB career in the Bronx. A career .292 hitter, Munson averaged .357 in the post-season. He was selected to 7 All Star teams and earned 3 Gold Gloves. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Video Checklist - Series 9

Here are cards 201-225 all in one place. Kinda spent a lot of time on the 1969 Rookie of the Year voting. 10 of the 25 cards in this series are related to the R.O.Y. race. Also there were my 5 favorite Expos and Angels, the obligatory Mantle and a few of my new obsession, horizontal cards.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1968 Topps Checklist - Cards That Never Were - 9th Series

The 9th checklist filled up fast with 10 of the 25 cards relating to the 1969 Rookie of the Year Award. The 1968 design also made it a bit hard to squeeze 25 cards in. I decided to keep with the movie theme I started on my checklist. Last month I featured Robert DeNiro's floating head AKA Bruce Pearson from "Bang The Drum Slowly". This checklist features Robert Redford AKA Roy Hobbs of the New York Knights from "The Natural".

Monday, August 20, 2012

1972 Kellogg's Nolan Ryan

California Angels CTNW Favorites #1

In what was one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history, the Angels got fireballer Nolan Ryan, everyday rightfielder, Leroy Stanton and 2 others. In exchange the Mets got Jim Fregosi. Fregosi's career numbers plummeted and the Mets sold him to the Rangers the following season.

Hindsight is 20/20. At the time of the trade Fregosi was coming off a bad year because of a tumor found in his foot. Prior to that he was a 6-time all star and a gold glove winner. He had also received MVP votes in 8 consecutive seasons, 1963-1971.Ryan was coming off a 10-14 season with a 3.97 ERA. Ryan had a great fastball and threw plenty of strikeouts but he was still wild and threw nearly as many walks. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

1982 Donruss Reggie Jackson

California Angels CTNW Favorites #2

When Reggie Jackson became a free agent after the 1981 season, he expressed his desire to return to the west coast. Angels owner, Gene Autry signed him to a 5 year  contract. Reggie had another All Star season and tied Gorman Thomas for the league lead in home runs. The Angels won their division but lost the AL pennant to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Although the Angels signed Reggie Jackson in January of 1982, none of the major card companies had cards showing him on his new team. Only the 1982 Topps Traded set showed Jackson in an Angels uniform. In 1982 Topps was still the only card company with an update set.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

1963 Topps Jim Piersall

Los Angeles Angels CTNW Favorites #3

The Angels were the third and final team Jimmy Piersall played on in 1963. He started the season in Washington. In May he was traded to the Mets for Gil Hodges, who immediately announced his retirement and took over as Manager. While on the Mets, Piersall hit his 100th career homer. In celebration, he rounded the bases facing backwards. Piersall was known for his antics on the field. In 1964 he went to bat wearing a Beatles Wig in Kansas City. Charlie Finley had just booked the Beatles to play at the stadium the following month. In 1960 Piersall threw the ball at the exploding scoreboard in Comiskey Park. Piersall was ejected in the first half of a double-header. During the second game he was heckled by the fans who also threw objects at him. At the end of the game he hurled the final out at the scoreboard, as the Indians swept the Sox. Although Sox owner Bill Veeck was upset at the time, he forgave Piersall and eventually hired him as Harry Carey's color man for the White Sox.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

1992 Leaf Bert Blyleven

California Angels CTNW Favorites #4

After posting an ERA of 5.24 in 1990, Bert Blyleven missed the entire 1991 season due to rotator cuff surgery. In 1992 every major card company, except Topps, wrote the future Hall of Famer off. Despite returning for the 1992 season, he wasn't even included in update sets. Topps and Score both printed cards of Blyleven for their 1993 sets. For his part, Blyleven tried out for the Minnesota Twins in the spring of '93 but was cut before the start of the season.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

1961 Topps Ryne Duren

Los Angeles Angels CTNW Favorites #5

Ryne Duren was the first player from the expansion 1961 Angels selected to represent the team in the All Star game. Tragically, he never made an appearance due to the death of his 10 year old son.  Duren has a reputation as a wild pitcher that he enjoyed. When warming up he would often fire one well over the head of the catcher. He once threw at Jimmy Piersall while he was on deck.

Duren began the 1961 season on the Yankees but was dealt to the Angels in May as part of a 5 man trade.  The photo I used on this card was mistakenly used by Topps on a 1963 card of Eli Grba. 

 Grba was the first player picked by the Angels in the 1960 expansion draft.

Friday, August 10, 2012

1962 Topps Leon Wagner All Star MVP

The second All Star Game of 1962 was played at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The National League was routed 9-4. The American League hero was the starting left fielder from the L.A. Angels, Leon Wagner. Wagner went 3 for 4 with a 2 run homer and was named the All Star Game MVP. 

In 1961 Wagner and the rest of the Angels played in Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. At the time Wrigley Field in L.A. was built, Wrigley Field in Chicago was still called Cubs Park. The original Wrigley Field was also in Southern California. It was the Cubs' spring training facility in Catalina.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

1962 Topp Maury Wills All Star MVP

Going Horizontal

Most collectors are aware of the story of the missing Maury Wills Topps cards, Topps was told he would never make it, so didn't sign him to a contract. He ended up winning the MVP in 1962 but wouldn't appear on a Topps card until 1967. 

The reason I created this particular Maury Wills card is not to right some wrong in the 1962 set but as a way to create horizontal, action versions of Topps cards in sets that didn't have them previously. I decided to use the All Star Game MVPs for this purpose.

In 1959 the MLB experimented with 2 All Star Games each season. 1962 was the last season they would play 2 games. It was also the first time they would name a Most Valuable Player. At that time, the MVP was given the Arch Ward Memorial Award. Arch Ward was a sports writer and editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 1933 Ward created the first All Star game as part of the Century of Progress Exposition at the Worlds Fair in Chicago.

For the first All Star game in 1962,Wills was selected as a back-up shortstop. He pinch ran for 41 year old Stan Musial, stole second and scored the NLs 1st run on a single by Dick Groat in 6th. He remained in the game at short, then singled & scored the 3rd run 8th. NL won 3-1.

Wills was also featured on one of the earliest "Cards That Never Were" in 1975. Topps created a 1962 version of Wills to appear on their MVP sub-set.

Topps re-used that image in 1982 in its K-mart set, and in its1987 "Turn Back the Clock" sub-set.

Monday, August 6, 2012

1990 Topps Mickey Mantle

In 1990, I think Topps hit an all time low. These are arguably the ugliest regular issue cards Topps ever produced. There is no player position, no signature facsimile, no team logos, not even team colors. Still not as bad as some of the Donruss or Bowman cards of this era.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

1979 Topps Ted Sizemore

Ten years after winning the N.L. Rookie of the Year honors, Ted Sizemore took his turn as a Cubs second baseman. From 1965-1973 The Cubs second baseman was 4-time All Star Glenn Beckert. In 1983 10-time All Star Ryne Sandberg moved from 3rd base to 2nd and stayed there until his first retirement in 1994. From 1974-1982 the Cubs had a seemingly endless parade at second base. Manny Trillo would represent the Cubs in the 1977 All Star game.

These second basemen include:


Dave Rosello, Vic Harris,  Billy Grabarkewitz, 


Manny Trillo, Mick Kelleher, Steve Dillard, 


Steve Macko, Mike Tyson, 


Joe Strain, Pat Tabler, Scott Fletcher, 


Bump Wills, and Junior Kennedy.