Wednesday, April 3, 2019

1979 Alt-Topps Requests

The big request this month was the entire run of World Series cards. Topps had omitted them from the 1979 set. I imagine it was to make an earlier deadline. But we here at "Alt-Topps" have a much more fluid deadline. 

Game 1 had been published already, so here is Game 2.  Ron Cey drove in all four Dodger runs. In the 4th he singled to score Garvey from second. In the 6th he hit a three-run homer.

In Game 3 Graig Nettles put on a clinic at third base. He is credited with saving at least 4 runs. Guidry pitched a complete game despite claiming to not have his stuff.

The play everybody talks about in this Series was a soft infield liner to Russell. Russell (intentionally?) let it drop and tried to turn a double play. But a "confused" Reggie Jackson was frozen in the base path. The throw to first ricocheted into the outfield. Instead of 3 outs with LA up 3-1. there were 2 outs and the Yankees were within 1.  The game went to extras and in the bottom of the tenth Roy White scored on a walk-off singe by Lou Piniella.

After the Dodgers gained an early 2-run lead, Munson drove in the Yankees second and third run to put NY ahead. The Yanks never looked back, piling it on to win 12-2. Munson went 3 for 5 with 2 singles, a double and 5 RBIs.

Brian Doyle led the Yankees with a .438 series batting average. Bucky Dent hit .417 in the World Series and was named the series MVP. The two accounted for 12 hits in the final  two games of the series. 

Brett left a comment to include WAR leader cards in this Alt-set.  Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an appeal to the Sabermetric baseball community. It is supposed to calculate the team wins with a particular player in the lineup as opposed to a "replacement level player". Presumably a minor leaguer or a bench player. 

It's an imperfect science and different sources use slightly different data and formulas. There are also several different WAR's; there is overall, offensive, defensive and one of position players or pitchers. Of course, Topps would not have included these leader cards, but what a unique idea. Wish I thought of it.

I had a few last minute requests. Buzz wanted the 42 year old outfielder Vic Davalillo in Dodger blue. I was tempted to label him P.H. as most of his 1979 appearances were pinch hitting. 

He also wanted to see Bobby Murcer. Murcer began the 1979 season on the north side. He was dealt mid-season back where he started in the Bronx.

He also was looking for the prickly reliever Mike Marshall. If you look back at the Topps cards of Mike Marshall you can see nice action cards in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977. His earlier cards were loaded with airbrushed photos. He simply didn't like posing for pictures. And although Topps gave up on him after 1977, he continued to play through 1981. Even Fleer and Donruss ignored him in 1981. He did get a Fleer card in 1982 (his first card since 1977).

I also got a request from the "Chief" for a Bobby Bonds card playing for the Tribe. But I was already on that track.  If you read the comment section of the first posting in the Alt 1979 series, you'd see that there was some question over whether the card of Don Baylor was actually Don Baylor. 

It was suggested that it could be Ron Jackson. He wore the numbers 2, 32, 16 and 15, but never 25. Also in every photo I've seen of Jackson, he has worn a helmet with an earflap. The helmet flying off "Baylor's" head obviously was the old school helmet. The earflap helmets were not required until 1983 and players who entered the league prior were grandfathered. Rock Raines was the last to wear the flapless helmet in 2002.

"Joe" suggested it might be George Hendrick. There are a couple of flaws in this theory. First, Hendrick was listed as 6'5" 195 lb. Baylor was 6'1" and a generous 190 lb (the same weight as on his 1970 Rookie card). Second, going back to helmets, every picture I've seen of Hendrick he has a cap under his helmet. Again not the case in the "Baylor" card. Lastly, the stirrups. Hendrick favored the George Brett style of long pants covering most of the stirrups.

The most obvious tell is the number 25. Baylor initially wore #12 for the Angels until Bobby Bonds was traded to the White Sox after the 1977 season. Here Bobby is depicted on a Traded card. The Rangers traded Bonds to Cleveland in October of 1978. He was still shown as a Ranger on his 1979 Topps card.

The next #25 on the Angels was Tommy John. He wore #35 until his familiar 25 was vacated when Baylor was dealt to the Yankees in 1983. He wore #25 until mid 1985 when he was released.  John was signed by the Yankees in November of 1978. His Topps card still showed him on the Dodgers, There was a Burger King variation that had him on the Yankees.  I think we can agree that neither Bonds nor Tommy John are the person on that card.

My last bit of evidence to support my case is this 1979 ALCS program featuring Don Baylor on the cover. He's wearing the same style helmet, the same high stirrups, the same Adidas cleats, the same batting gloves and the same number.


  1. Hot dog!!

    That is some great work!!


  2. The WAR cards came out great! I wouldn't have thought to specifically do a dWAR card...and wouldn't have guessed that Gary Carter would rank so high. Wish I had that one in my Carter binder! Thanks!

  3. I'm staggered!! talk about putting on a clinic!!! You just did with this round! First, you're detective skills regarding player photo i.d.'s seem to be irrefutable. You went through all the minutiae to validate and close off any uncertainty. But in any case, I was with you from the "get go" - sure looked like "Groove" to me. My one (very small, tiny really) disappointment was with the Nettles card. I was hoping you would go horizontal like on W.S.#1 and show him levitating which he did on a number of occasions. The guy should definitely be "H.O.F." 390 "dingers", and a great wit to go along with that glove. Two decades of great memories at a very difficult position (I'm from L.A. - I ought to know). Well even if the "Puff" card wasn't 100% perfect, you more than compensated for that by your elucidations on "W.A.R." As you can tell by most of my selections I'm pretty "old school". These new "fangled" stats and their abstruse subtleties sometime tax my aging cranium. Thanks so much again "Buzz" (Bryant) P.S. I didn't think you'd do the Marshall card but you did Mr. Balistreri one better!

    1. Sorry Buzz, I just couldn't find a good action shot of Nettles from that series. Much less that game in particular. But as usual, thanks for the kind words.