Saturday, June 30, 2012

1989 Topps Mickey Mantle

1989 was another bland effort by Topps. I'm all for a clean and classic design, but this could have used a little help. Maybe using the actual team logo instead of  a standard font for all teams. Plus there is no position or even a facsimile autograph. Action shots were also few and far between. They did, however, manage to squeeze their logo in. With so many card sets issued in 1989, Topps got lost in the crowd.

Friday, June 29, 2012

1982 Topps Stan Bahnsen

Bahnsen's baseball career started with Rookie of the Year honors. For the rest of his 16 year stay in the Majors he would be a serviceable but not great pitcher. He was in the starting rotation for the Yankees, White Sox, A's and Expos until 1977. Montreal moved him to the bullpen in 1978. He was released by the Expos prior to the start of the 1982 season. The Angels picked him up only to release him a month later. The Phillies then signed him to a minor league contract. Bahnsen would play in the Phillies system until 1983 but his final Major League game would be October 2, 1982. He pitched an inning and a third striking out 3, the Mets' George Foster, Dave Kingman and Brian Giles.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1975 Topps 1968 Rookies of the Year

1968 was remembered by most baseball fans as the year of the pitcher. Denny McLain and Bob Gibson both won Cy Young Awards and their respective league MVP awards and Mickey Lolich was the World Series MVP. Even the 1968 All Star Game was a pitching duel. The NL won 1-0 and the only run scored in the game was unearned. Johnny Bench prevented a clean sweep by the pitchers but he barely beat out 19 game winner Jerry Koosman. Bench received 10.5 votes to Koosman's 9.5 votes. Koosman's numbers were very similar to Bahnsen's numbers, but Bahnsen's closest competition was Del Unser who led center fielders in put outs and assists but hit a meager .230 with one home run.

 Koosman's competition was a Gold Glove/All Star catcher who played in 154 games and hitting .275 with 15 homers. In addition to winning the Rookie of the Year, Bench was a 14 time All Star, won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves and was the MVP in both 1970 and 1972. In both MVP seasons Bench beat out one of my favorite players. The 1961 Rookie of the Year, "Sweet Swinging" Billy Williams. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

1968 Topps Johnny Bench

Two of the most sought after cards in the 1968 set are the cards of the NL Rookie of the year, Johnny Bench and the runner up, Jerry Koosman. Koosman's card is valuable because he shares it with Nolan Ryan. The one thing that bothers me about Bench's card in 1968 is that he is wearing the vest style uniform that Cincinnati stopped wearing before he made his Major League debut in 1967. In 1967 the Reds wore the pinstripe uniform Bench is wearing on this card. By 1968 the pinstripes were gone. But on both Bench's regular and all-star card in 1969 he is wearing the vest and two-tone cap. In 1970 Bench is pictured wearing a pinstripe uniform from 1967. Topps obviously had this picture in 1967. Why did they wait until 1970 to use it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

1968 Topps Stan Bahnsen

1968 was the year of the pitcher. Rookie of the Year, Stan Bahnsen posted a career best 2.05 ERA which was only enough to place him behind 5 other pitchers in the American League alone and put him tied for 8th place overall. Bahnsen would pitch for the Yankees through the 1971 season. After the season he was traded to the White Sox. In 1972 Bahnsen would have 21 wins in 41 starts. The following year he would start 42 games and lead the league in losses with 21. He flirted with a no hitter that season going 2 outs into the 9th before giving up a single to Walt "No Neck" Williams. "No Neck" was a teammate of Bahnsen's the previous season on the White Sox. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

1965 Topps Bert Campaneris

Kansas City Athletics CTNW Favorites #1

In 1965 Topps put out this card listing Bert Campaneris as a Shortstop and an Outfielder. But on September  8th 1965 Campaneris played not only shortstop and every position in the outfield but every other position on the field as well. To commemorate the feat I have created cards for the other positions he played.

Campy was the first Major Leaguer to play all 9 positions in a single game. Since then 3 others have joined him: Cesar Tovar of the Twins in 1968, Scott Sheldon of the Rangers in September 2000, and most recently Shane Halter of the Tigers in October 2000.

Monday, June 18, 2012

1967 Topps Athletics Rookies - Jackson & Kubiak

Kansas City Athletics CTNW Favorites #2

By 1967 there were signs of things to come for the A's. Charlie Finley bought the team in 1960 after Arnold Johnson's death. He immediately swore off trades with the Yankees and in the midst of several marketing gimmicks he began rebuilding the team. 

When the amateur draft began in 1965 the A's drafted Rick Monday. In 1966 they drafted Reggie Jackson and in 1967 Vida Blue. The '67 team had several young players who would be part of the championship teams of '72, '73 and '74. They had a 25 year old Bert Campaneris, a 23 year old Sal Bando, a 22 year old Blue Moon Odom, a 21 year old Catfish Hunter, a 21 year old Dave Duncan, and a 20 year old Joe Rudi. 

They also had 2 players making their major  league debut in Reggie Jackson and switch-hitting utilityman Ted Kubiak. Jackson would not have a Topps card until 1969. Although I have seen plenty of very good 1968 Topps Reggie Jackson Cards That Never Were, I haven't seen a 1967 version. He was the #2 overall pick in the 1966 draft. He hit 23 homers in just 68 games while averaging just under .300 as a minor leaguer in 1966. Evidently this wasn't enough to convince Topps to include him on a 1967 card.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

1958 Topps Roger Maris

Kansas City Athletics CTNW Favorites #3

In many ways Roger Maris symbolizes exactly what was wrong with the first part of the Athletics' tenure in Kansas City. In 1954 the Philadelphia A's were on the verge of bankruptcy. Connie Mack and family sold the team to Arnold Johnson. Johnson was the owner of both Yankee Stadium and Blues Stadium in Kansas City which was the home of the Yankees farm team, The Kansas City Blues.  Johnson was forced to sell Yankee Stadium to avoid a conflict of interest but kept the stadium in K.C. and moved his newly acquired team there. 

From that point on the Kansas City Athletics seemed to operate as if they were still a farm team of the New York Yankees. They frequently traded young prospects like to the Yankees in exchange for aging players and cash. Roger Maris came to the A's in 1958 along with 2 other players who would be out of the majors by 1959. In exchange Cleveland got Woody Held and Vic Power who would play until 1969 and 1965 respectively. In 1959 Maris would have an All Star season for the A's then was traded to the Yankees in December of 1959.

Friday, June 15, 2012

1957 Topps Lou Boudreau

Kansas City Athletics CTNW Favorites #4

The Athletics 13 years in Kansas City began in 1955 with a Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau as skipper. It also ended in 1967 with a Hall of Famer as manager, Luke Appling.  In between there were several coaches and managers who  are immortalized in Cooperstown. Burleigh Grimes, Johnny Mize, Joe Gordon, Gabby Harnett and Whitey Herzog. Unfortunately the talent from the dugout never translated to talent on the field. The Kansas City A's had a lifetime record of 829-1224.  That's an average of 64-94! They would average  30 games under .500 over 13 years.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

1964 Topps Tony LaRussa Al Lopez

Kansas City Athletics CTNW Favorites #5

Picking the top 5 Athletics from the KC era is a tough task. During the 13 years the A's spent in Kansas City, they finished last 6 times, second to last 5 times and never finished better than 7th. They have never had a Cy Young award winner, Rookie of the Year or MVP. The one thing they seemed to have no shortage of is Hall of Fame players turned Coach and/or Manager. They also had several players who went on to become great managers. Not only did they have a young Tony LaRussa but also Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog, Tommy Lasorda, and Dick Williams all played for the Kansas City A's.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

1953 Topps Ted Williams

Going Horizontal

I have always liked it when Topps turned the cards sideways especially when they added an action shot. In the 1952 set Topps had a handful of horizontal cards but it wouldn't be until the '70s that we would see them try it again. Even then they only did it in 1971, 1973 and 1974. After that we had to wait until 1991. In recent years, Topps frequently has been using a horizontal variations within their sets. But I'd like to see some of the more vintage sets with horizontal variations.

I know certain layouts don't adapt very well to a horizontal version. But take a look at these real  Topps cards. You have to admit they stand out.

There are quite a few vintage sets I think would look cool turned sideways. I might have to add horizontal cards to my seemingly never ending list of running themes. Any thoughts?

Friday, June 8, 2012

1988 Topps Mickey Mantle

The 2012 Archives cards are out and I thought for sure that Topps would take the opportunity to create a Mantle card from 1971, 1980 or 1984. When I started this, there were exactly 25 Topps series with out a Mickey Mantle card. 1971-1995. Since then Topps created a 1975 Mini for last year's Lineage set and a 1987 Mini for this year's base set. The Archives set presented an opportunity to reduce the number to an even 20.  Instead they created another 1954 Mickey Mantle card. Go figure.

Can somebody please explain why Topps felt the need to change the team logo? This just looks wrong.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

1977 Topps Tom Seaver

In June of 1977 the last place Mets were already 14 games out of first place. The two time World Champion Reds were trailing the Dodgers by seven. The hope was that picking up Seaver in a blockbuster trade would salvage the season. Seaver did his part going 14-3 with a 2.34 ERA the rest of the season, but it wasn't enough. The Dodgers outpaced the Reds and would eventually lose to the Yankees in the World Series.

Monday, June 4, 2012

1979 Topps Rod Carew

In the biggest trade of the off-season, Rod Carew, the reigning Batting Champ went to the Angels. In return the Twins got outfielder Ken Landreaux,  pitcher Paul Hatzell, 2 minor leaguers and $400,000. The 1979 Topps set still had Carew on the Twins but the O Pee Chee card used the same picture of Carew in a Twins uniform on an Angels card with a note "Traded 2-5-79".  

Carew would go on to be an All Star 6 of his 7 year in California but would never win another batting title.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

1975 Topps 1967 Rookies of the Year

In 1956 for the first time both Rookies of the Year (Luis Aparicio and Frank Robinson) went on to be Hall of Famers. In 1967 both Rookies of the Year went on to be First Ballot Hall of Famers. Tom Seaver and Rod Carew combined had 30 All Star game appearances, 3 Cy Youngs and 1 MVP. Carew got 90.5% of the vote on his first ballot in 1991. Seaver was elected to the Hall with 98.8% of the ballots the following year. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

1967 Topps Tom Seaver

After spending one year in the minors, Tom Seaver made his debut starting the Mets 2nd game of the 1967 season. Seaver quickly established himself as the ace of the staff and was the opening day pitcher for the Mets every year until he was traded to the Reds. In 1967 Tom received 55% of the votes for Rookie of the Year for the 10th place Mets. Dick Hughes of the World Series Champion Cardinals received 30% of the vote despite putting up better overall numbers. But Hughes was a 29 year old rookie who was in the rotation with future Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton. Hughes would pitch just one more season at the big league level and by 1969 he was out of baseball.