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.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Many, Many Rookie Cards of Lou Piniella

Sweet Lou made his cardboard debut as a Senator after batting .310 with 16 homers for their single A ball club. He made his Big League debut in September of 1964 but by that time he was dealt to the Orioles as the "player to be named later" to complete an earlier trade. Although he played in 4 games he would have only one plate appearance. He pinch hit for Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. He grounded out to second base.
He next appeared on a card in 1968. This time as an Indian. 1968 would also be the next year he would play in the Majors. Again he was a September call-up. He did manage to score a run as a pinch runner, and get an RBI on a sac-fly but his first big league hit still eluded him.
In 1969 Topps would recycle his 1968 photo and put him on a Rookie Stars card for the 3rd time. This time as a Pilot. Of course Lou would be traded before the start of the season to the Royals and eventually be named A.L. Rookie of the Year.

If Topps saw fit to include him on a Rookie Stars card in 1964, 1968 and 1969, why not 1965 or 1966 or 1967?  Since the name of this blog is Cards That Never Were, it is my duty to fill in the missing years.

In 1965 Piniella was in the Orioles Farm system. After his single at bat in 1964, Baltimore placed him in AA where he hit a mediocre .249. Topps had plenty of other Oriole prospects to choose from in 1965 other than Piniella. There was the eventual 1965 R.O.Y. Curt Blefary as well as future All-Stars, Paul Blair, Davey Johnson and Darold Knowles. Apparently there wasn't room for Lou. So I made a 1965 Rookie Stars card for him along with another guy who made his MLB debut as an Oriole in 1965.

In March of 1966 Piniella was dealt to the Indians. Topps opted to put first baseman Bill Davis and pitcher Tom Kelley on the Indians Rookie Stars card. I teamed Lou up with a seldom used utility infielder Vern Fuller for this version of the 1966 Rookie Stars card. In 1966 Piniella was promoted to AAA ball and his batting average improved to .289

In 1967 Topps would again put first baseman Bill Davis on its Rookie Stars card. This time along with utility infielder Gus Gil. I chose the Indians 4th string catcher from 1966, Buddy Booker to keep Piniella company on this version of the 1967 Rookie Stars card. Although Piniella remained at the AAA level in 1967, his hitting improved again. This time topping the .300 mark at .308. He would spend most of the next season in triple A as well. Finally getting called up in September of 1968.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

1969 Topps Al Oliver

Al Oliver had the highest batting average of all the Rookie of the Year candidates in 1969. He also had more homers, RBIs and stolen bases than NL R.O.Y. Ted Sizemore. With 20/20 hindsight it is obvious that he would go on to have the most productive career of all the R.O.Y. candidates. He was a career .303 hittter, a 7 time All Star and a 3 time Silver Slugger. In 1982 he led the league in hitting, RBIs and extra base hits. He came in 3rd in MVP voting. Although he never won the MVP he received MVP votes 10 of his 18 years in the Majors.

It's easy to sit at a computer and second guess sports writers' decisions 43 years in the past. Lou Piniella and Ted Sizemore both had solid rookie seasons a went on to have productive MLB careers. But for argument's sake I could definitely see the NL Rookie of the Year award going to Oliver who crushed Sizemore in every offensive stat.  And the AL R.O.Y. going to Carlos May who was the only R.O.Y. candidate selected to the 1969 All Star Team. He also had better numbers than Piniella despite missing the last month and a half of the season.

This is just one of the ways the 1969 R.O.Y. class could have looked. In the A.L. you also had Mike Nagy who went 12-2 for the Red Sox and Ken Tatum who had 22 save and a 1.36 ERA for the Angels. Tatum also received 2 MVP votes to Piniella's 1. 

In the N.L. Coco Laboy batted only .258 but had more homers and RBIs than either of the R.O.Y. winners. Larry Hisle had 20 homers and 18 stolen bases for the Phillies. Bob Didier of the Braves also received a couple votes but I can't figure out why. He hit only .256 with no homers and defensively, he led the league in passed balls and was 5th in allowing stolen bases.