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.