Friday, February 28, 2014

1963 & 1964 Topps Chris Short

I am continuing with my versions of the Chris Short cards that never were. If you read the last few posts you know that like Maury Wills, Short was missing from Topps sets during the same time period for possibly similar reasons. Unlike Wills, the missing Chris Short cards are not as well documented. 

In 1963 Chris Short was a semi-regular in the Phillies rotation. The Phillies themselves improved from a 7th place finish in 1962 to 4th place in 1963 but Short's record fell below .500 again. On the bright side, he was throwing a lot more strikeouts and his ERA dropped below 3.00 for the first time in his career.

In 1964 The Phillies had a 6 1/2 game lead in the NL pennant chase on September 20th, only to succumb to an epic 10 game losing streak to land in 2nd place behind the Cards. 

Short's season reflected the Phillies efforts as well. He was 17-7 with his last win of the season coming on September 14th. His final 5 games of 1964 resulted in 2 losses and 3 no-decisions. He also made  his first All Star appearance and even garnered a couple MVP votes. In addition to his 17-9 record, he had 181 K's and was 3rd in the NL with a 2.20 ERA. (Which is what started this whole thread)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

1961 & 1962 Topps Chris Short

I am continuing with my versions of the Chris Short cards that never were. If you read the last few posts you know that like Maury Wills, Short was missing from Topps sets during the same time period for possibly similar reasons. Unlike Wills, the missing Chris Short cards are not as well documented. 

In 1961 Chris short led the league in wild pitches. He was still splitting time between starting and coming out of the pen. His record was an abysmal 6-12 with a 5.94 ERA. Although his record was right in line with the last place Phillies, who had an overall record of 47-107 and gave up an average of 5.1 runs.

The 1962 Phillies improved to 81-80. That was still only good enough for 7th place, only beating out the 2 expansion teams and the Cubs' disasterous "College of Coaches".

Chris Short improved as well. His record went to 11-9 and his wild pitches were cut in half.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

1959 & 1960 Topps Chris Short

If you have been following this blog you know that I stumbled upon a player who like Maury Wills, started in 1959 but (possibly) because of contractual problems with Topps had no cards until 1967. There have been several takes on the missing Will cards. A couple of those coming from Topps themselves. If you want to see all of them in one place follow this link to the Garvey-Cey-Russell-Lopes blog. He has created some very nice versions of Wills' missing cards.

For my part I plan to double up on my Chris Short cards. Frankly there is not as much to say about Short as there is Wills. But I am not good enough to crank out 8 cards at once and still keep my day job.

I went with the "Rookie Stars" format for his 1959 card. Short was hardly a "star" in 1959. He appeared in only 3 games getting no decisions but surrendering 3 homers and 13 earned runs in just over 14 innings. But that puts him right in league with the other riff-raff that made up the "Rookie Stars of 1959". This was a very cool looking subset with mostly mediocre rookies. To my count 9 of the 31 players featured in this subset didn't even play in 1959. Several others saw very limited play.

In 1960 Short made the squad on a more permanent basis. He played 3 games in AAA Indianapolis then  appeared in 42 games for the big league club. Most of his appearances were in relief but he did manage 6 wins, 3 saves and a respectable 3.94 ERA.

Friday, February 21, 2014

1965 Topps American League ERA Leaders Redux

In my last post I re-did the 1965 Topps ERA leader card because Chris Short was left off because he was not under contract with Topps. In an apparent attempt to make it look like it was the plan all along to have only 2 on the ERA card, Topps made the AL card to match (see below). Talk about cutting off your nose despite your face, they left out future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. Here is the version that would have appeared in 1965 if Topps was more like me and totally ignored licensing laws.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

1965 Topps National League ERA Leaders Redux

While making these recent posts featuring 1965 leader cards that never were, I stumbled upon a mystery. 

 I was wondering why Topps made their ERA leader cards with only 2 pitchers instead of the usual 3. This is the original NL ERA Leader card. The card above is what I think it should have been.

In 1962 they made a couple leader cards with 3 players instead of 4 because there were players tied for 4th place. In this case it was because Joe Adcock and Dick Stuart were tied for 4th with 35 homers.

And in this case because Johnny Podres, Lew Burdette and Sandy Koufax were tied for 4th with 18 wins each. (By the way, which Topps employee let their 4 year old daughter cut these pictures out?)

But normally Topps just keeps adding players like in this ridiculous 1970 leader card where they doubled the normal number of photos to accommodate the 4 way tie for 3rd with 20 wins each.

Even in the 1965 season they bumped the number of players up to 4 in this case to accommodate Mantle and Killebrew's tie for 3rd with 111 RBIs each.

And included 5 photos in 2 of their leader cards to include all 3 tied for 3rd in homers.

and in this case the 2 tied for the lead with 20 wins and the 3 tied with 19 behind them.

So why only 2?  

The answer is Chris Short.

Like Maury Wills, Chris Short made his Major League debut in 1959 and also like Wills, short had his 1st Topps card in 1967. From '59-'67 Maury Wills was playing in World Series, winning the NL MVP and setting stolen base records and was conspicuously missing from Topps sets. He was, however, included in Post and Fleer sets of that era. Chris Short was just missing. No Post cereal cards. No 1963 Fleer card. Nothing. He was a solid pitcher, though. He was a regular in the Phillies rotation, even representing Philadelphia in the 1964 All Star game.

If the explanation for why Wills had no cards from 1959-1966 is simply that Fleer got to him first, then why didn't Chris Short have any cards (including Fleer) during that same period? After digging around the interwebs I found only one unsubstantiated reference stating that Chris Short was under exclusive contract with Fleer and set to appear in a later series that was never published. If anybody has any other info please let me know. 

In the mean time, I think I've found my next project.

Monday, February 17, 2014

1965 Topps AL Leading Firemen: Radatz, Wilhelm, Miller

Unlike this card's NL counterpart, the save leader and the Sporting News "Fireman of the Year" are one and the same. In 1964 Dick Radatz had a 16-9 record in relief along with a league leading 29 saves. He was also selected to the All Star game. Unfortunately, he had a blown save and lost the game. He surrendered a walk-off, 3 run homer to the All Star MVP Johnny Callison.

The 41 year old knuckle-baller, Hoyt Wilhelm had 12 wins and 27 saves for the White Sox. Stu Miller, who led the NL in saves in 1961 and the AL in 1963 had 7 wins and 23 saves.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

1965 Topps NL Leading Firemen: Woodeshick, McBean, Baldschun

This leader card is a virtual "Who's Who" of "Who the hell is that?".  Don't get me wrong, these guys have a total of 30 years and 1293 Major League games between them, but Woodshick, McBean, and Baldschun are not really household names.

I debated about whether to just call this card a "Saves Leader" card or "Leading Firemen". In 1963 the Sporting News Fireman of the Year award went to the pitcher with the most saves. Period. Despite the fact that the runner up in both leagues had significantly more wins and better win-loss records overall. In 1964, however, The Sporting News awarded Al McBean "Fireman of the Year". Presumably because he had a better win loss record of 8-3 to Woodeshick's 2-9. But Woodeshick had more saves with 23 to McBean's 22.

I've said before that the save was not an official stat until 1969 but The Sporting News used it as a stat and awarded relievers since 1960. But now I can truly understand why Topps didn't make a "Leading Firemen" card until 1973. The award and even the record keeping was inconsistent if not totally whacked out. How else can you explain that McBean got 22 saves in just 21 "Save Opportunities". Don't believe me?  Look it up.

In the end I decide to stick with the Leading Firemen moniker and have Woodshick at the top because he had the most saves. Plus I wanted a bigger picture of that sweet Colt .45s uni. With 1964 being the last year before they changed their names to the Astros, I knew I wouldn't have another opportunity.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

1965 Topps AL Stolen Base Leaders: Aparicio, Weis, Davalillo

Luis Aparicio led the league in stolen bases for the 9 consecutive year in 1964. This was the final time he would lead the league but he would finish in the top 10 4 of the next 5 years. He was still a threat on the basepaths even in his final year. In 1973 at the age of 39 he still stole 13 bases for the Boston Red Sox. 

The next closest behind Aparicio was his former teammate Al Weis. Weis had a career high of 22 stolen bases in 1964 which was a full 35 bases fewer than Aparicio's 57. 

Cleveland's Gold Glove centerfielder, Vic Davalillo was in 3rd with 21 stolen bases.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

1965 Topps Stolen Base Leaders

In 1965 Topps still didn't have Maury Wills under contract so unfortunately this card could not have been made. It's a shame because this would have been the first with Lou Brock breathing down Wills' neck. Wills still wore the crown with 53 stolen bases in 1964. Lou Brock's 43 stolen bases was enough to edge out Wills' teammate Willie Davis who stole 42. Brock started the season in Chicago before being traded to the Cardinals.  I decided to feature him hatless and attribute him to both teams.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

1978 Topps Rookie Stars

The 1978 Topps set was again missing some of the top rookies. Since moving to a single issue in 1974 this has been an ongoing problem. A problem that wouldn't be resolved until Topps would add traded series in the eighties. Of the 8 players receiving Rookie of the Year consideration, only 3 would make it onto cardboard in 1978. 

The players that were left out included the NL Rookie of the Year, Bob Horner for whom a card was created in my last post.

In this card, I included the 4 others; Ozzie Smith, Don Robinson, Carney Lansford and Rich Gale.

Drafted in the 4th round of the 1977 draft by the San Diego Padres, Ozzie Smith spent the remainder of the 1977 season on the Walla Walla Padres. In 68 games he had 30 stolen bases and a batting average of .303. In 1978 he was the starting shortstop on opening day. By the end of the season he had amassed 40 stolen bases, was second in NL ROY voting and was well on his way to a Hall of Fame career.

Also receiving ROY votes in the NL was Pirates pitcher, Don Robinson. Robinson went 14-6 and had 135 strikeouts for the 2nd place Pirates. 

Carney Lansford was not in the opening day line up for the Angels in 1978. But with a .294 batting average and 20 stolen bases, the Angels made room for him at 3rd base and moved their All Star 3rd baseman Dave Chalk to shortstop. 

Rich Gale's debut season was in many ways his career season. He had personal bests in ERA, wins and win percentage, shut outs and complete games. He was a solid major league pitcher for 7 season but never matched his rookie season. 

The other players receiving ROY votes in 1978 included AL ROY Lou Whitaker, future Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and Alan Trammell. These players were included on actual rookie cards in 1978.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

1978 Topps Bob Horner

Bob Horner was the 1977 College World Series MVP in 1977. He was the number 1 pick in the 1978 draft and never played a game in the minors. He was drafted by the Braves on June 8, 1978. He signed the contract on the 14th, and on the 16th he made his MLB debut. In his 1st game he homered off future Hall of Famer, Burt Blyleven. With 23 homers in only 89 games, it was no surprise when he was voted NL Rookie of the Year. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

1972 Topps All Star Cards : The Managers

In the 20 All Star games from 1963-1982 the American League lost 19 of them and took 4 of them to extra frames before falling to the NL. In the 3 games from 1970-1972 with Earl Weaver at the helm, the AL took the NL into extra innings in 1970 and 1972 before falling, and came out on top in a slugfest that featured 6 round-trippers. Every one of them came off the bats of future Hall of Famers; Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Johnny Bench for the NL, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson and the games MVP Frank Robinson.

The 1971 All Star game was first that Sparky Anderson has appeared in as a player, or coach or manager. This despite the fact that the 1970 game was played in his home stadium, the spanking new Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. He would Manage 5 All Star teams going 3-2 lifetime. 1971 was his only loss as a manager of the NL his other loss would be in the dugout for the AL in 1985.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

1983 Topps John Elway

This is for those of you who are still not used to seeing Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform.  The Broncos previous Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway was actually the number 1 draft pick of the Colts in 1983. Elway wanted no part of the Colts and used the threat of playing for the Yankees who drafted him in 1981. The Colts traded him to the Broncos for Pro Bowl lineman Chris Hinton, the Broncos back-up QB and their first round pick of the 1984 draft.