Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Even More 1971 Alt-Topps

All Star,  World Series,  Leader and Rookie Cards

The All-Star cards are pretty similar to the base cards. The 1970 All-Star Game logo replaces the team logo. In 1970 Luis Aparicio started his last All Star Game in a White Sox uniform.  And what a uniform it was. I always loved the baby-blue flannels of that era.

Meanwhile on the Senior Circuit, the Say Hey Kid was playing in his 21st of 24 career All Star Games. Second only to Hank Aaron and tied with Stan Musial.

It's still amazes me that color barriers that were still being broken in the 1970's.  Jackie Robinson's entry into the league in 1947 seemed like the distant past in 1970.  But 1971 saw the first and only time both starting All Star pitchers were African American. It also saw the first starting 9 lineup with every position filled by players of color. The Pirates accomplished that on September 1st of that year. And of course it wasn't until 1975 that Frank Robinson became the first black manager.

Also 1970 was the first World Series with an African American umpire. Emmett Ashford broke the color barrier for umpires in 1966. 19 seasons after Robinson and Doby.  The 1970 was not only his first, but last as he had reached mandatory retirement age.  He is seen here defending his call against Boog Powell in the 8th inning of game 5.

Powell had hit a scorcher down first. Lee May bobbled it and threw to the pitcher. Boog was called out. In the mean time, Paul Blair scored from second to put the Orioles up 8-3. The argument and the call had little consequence, but with today's replay, it probably would've been overturned.

Normally I make just one World Series card. The game 5 featuring an umpire just seemed a bit out of place.  So I created a series recap card with the typical team celebration.

The 1970 Batting Leader was Alex Johnson who had a career year. Going into the last game of the season he was trailing Yaz by .002. After grounding out in his first at bat, he slapped 2 singles in a row. He was then taken out of the game to preserve his .32899 average over Yastrzemski's .32862 average. Both appear in the stats as .329 but Johnson held a slight statistical edge.

The NL Strikeout leaders feature 3 great Hall of Famers at the top of their game. Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson and Fergie Jenkins. Enough said.

Once again, with 20/20 hindsight, the Rookie Stars cards feature the 1971 Rookies of the Year plus a couple other names you might know. The AL ROY was Chris Chambliss. The Indians chose him with the overall #1 pick of the 1970 draft.

Earl Williams was also taken in the first round of the draft. But that was 5 years earlier in 1965 and with the 6th overall pick. He was worth the wait. He clubbed 33 homers and 87 RBIs in his first full season.


As usual, any request to fill in the blanks in this series are accepted. I will try my best to post them by the end of the month. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

More 1971 Alt-Topps

Managers, Team Cards and Traded

The manager cards are a bit of a preview of what Topps did in 1973 and 1974.  I also chose a couple of Hall of Famers to fill these cards. Walt Alston was the Dodgers manager from 1954-1976. He won 7 Pennants and 4 World Series titles. He was inducted as a manager in 1983.

Bob Lemon was inducted into the Hall as a player in 1976. 1971 was his first full season as manager. He took the reigns in KC from Charlie Metro midway through the 1970 campaign. He would eventually get a World Series title as manager with the Yankees in 1978.

On the team cards, I tried to incorporate elements of the base cards. I shrunk the home plate to hold the team logo instead of the photo.  

The Padres and Brewers were both part of the 1969 expansion. The Brewers, of course, began in Seattle in 1969. Back then, the Brewers were an American League team.  Both these teams had very similar logos.

The giants traded Ron Hunt to the Expos for a 28-year-old rookie utility man, Dave McDonald. Before the start of the 1971 season the Expos bought McDonald back from the Giants.  Ron Hunt was a player who would take one for the team.  A ball magnet, he led the league in hit-by-pitches from 1968 to 1974. In 1971 he was beaned a career high 50 times. 

1971 marked Flood's return to baseball after sitting out the 1970 season. In 1969 the Cardinals dealt him to the Phillies as part of a multi-player trade. Flood famously sued the MLB and eventually led to free agency. But in 1971 the suit was still ongoing. The Phillies traded him to Washington. Unfortunately, he only played 13 games for Ted William's Senators. He hit a meager .200 and retired by the end of April 1971.

Monday, April 8, 2019

1971 Alt-Topps

Here is another design that I only had a black and white image to work with. I tried to replicate it using a similar shot of the great Roberto Clemente. The Font is reminiscent of Topps 1971 football cards. That plus the photo of Clemente drove may decision to make this an Alt-1971 set. 
One quirk about this prototype is the oddly specific player position. Here it defines Clemente's position as "Right Field" instead of the more generic "Outfield".
As usual, I created base cards of the MVP and Cy Young Award Winners. In 1971 the NL Cy Young winner was Fergie Jenkins.  Always a workhorse for the Cubs, Jenkins led the league in complete games and innings pitched. He also led in Wins with 24. He also led in strikeouts to walk ratio with an outrageous 7.11 to 1. The next closest was Tom Seaver with 4.74 to 1.
The AL Cy Young winner was Vida Blue. Blue also had 24 victories and was simply lights-out in 1971. He led the league in Pitching Ratio and ERA, and averaged 8.7 strikeouts per 9 innings. His performance also garnered the AL MVP.
The NL MVP was cardinals third-baseman, Joe Torre. A Gold Glove catcher for the Braves, he was dealt to the Cardinals in 1969 after his offensive stats began to sag. The Cards made him a corner man and his numbers went right back up. In 1971 he led the NL in RBI's, Batting Average, Hits and Total Bases.

Since the AL MVP already has a card, I decided to make a base card of 1971 Comeback Player of the Year. This was Norm Cash's second time winning the award. In 1965 he hit .223 with 7 homers in the first half of the season.  In the second half he batted .307 with 23 dingers. After hitting .259 with 15 homers in 1970 his first half of 1971 rose to .293 with 20 homers and an All Star start.

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.