Friday, November 26, 2021

Topps All-Star Misses: 1960 NL Infield

I've been a bit behind on my postings, due to trying to put together another pack of physical cards.  Also just work, family, holidays, etc.  Also, for the time being, I'm going to monitor ALL of the comments, as this blog has been getting spam comments lately.  I will try to allow comments quickly so they will show, unedited, while trying to weed out the spam.

The National League All Star infield had a lot of potential cards to add to the 1960 set.  Much of this is due to having 2 ASGs in 1959. That being said, the only position Topps seemed to be in sync with was shortstop.  Ernie Banks was the starter in both 1959 ASGs and was a 1960 Sporting News All Star.

However, at first Topps had Willie McCovey, the 1959 Rookie of the Year, but the future Hall of Famer wouldn't make an All Star appearance until 1963. In the first game of 1959, his teammate, Orlando Cepeda was the starter at first.  

In the second game Stan Musial was the starter at first base.  In 1960 The Sporting News selected one All Star team rather than one from each league and in 1960 the selection was Moose Skowron of the Yankees.
Topps had Dodgers Gold Glove second baseman as their All Star selection.  He was a reserve in the second ASG of 1959 and both 1960 ASGs.  The starter in both 1959 games was the Reds' Johnny Temple. 
The 1960 Sporting News selection was Bill Mazeroski.  He was also the starter at second in both 1960 All Star games.
At third Topps had Eddie Mathews. Mathews was the 1960 Sporting News All Star and started the first All Star game in 1959. The player who started the second game was Ken Boyer.

Who probably didn't merit inclusion in the 1960 Topps All-Star set, but was in it anyway?
Willie McCovey
 Stretch was the Rookie of the Year in 1959, but didn't have a Topps card.  (Here is my version of that missing card).  Perhaps Topps was making up for that by giving him two cards in the 1960 set.  But he wouldn't make an All Star appearance until 1963.  It wasn't until 1965 that he would be a Sporting News All Star selection.



Monday, November 15, 2021

Topps All-Star Misses: 1961 AL Battery

In 1961 Topps had LHP Whitey Ford, RHP Jim Perry and catcher Earl Battey representing the AL battery. Only Ford was an actual Sporting News All Star in 1961. He was also the only starter in either 1960 All Star game, starting the second game. Bill Monbouquette was the starter in game 1.



Whitey For was the 1961 Sporting News All Star selection for left handed pitcher.  The right handed pitching selection was Tigers pitcher Frank Lary.

Righty Monbouquette started game one and southpaw Ford started game two.  In game one, the first lefty reliever was Bud Daley.  In game two the first right handed reliever was Ealy Wynn.


At catcher, Topps had Earl Battey, but the starter for both 1960 games was Yogi Berra. His backup from 1955-1959 was Elston Howard, who also platooned in the outfield for the Yankees.  But by 1960 he was getting the majority of starts behind the plate.  In 1961 he was named to the Sporting News All Star team at catcher. 

Who probably didn't merit inclusion in the 1961 Topps All-Star set, but was in it anyway?

Jim Perry was the runner up to Bob Allison for the AL Rookie of the year in 1959. In 1960 he led the AL with 18 wins. He was selected to the 1961 All Star team as a reserve. Earl Battey was a Gold Glove catcher for the Senators/Twins franchise in 1960 and 1961.  He was also 8th in MVP voting in 1960. That being said he wasn't an All Star in either season. Nor was he selected to The Sporting News roster.  So neither actually belong by my narrow definition.  If we only knew Topps definition...





Friday, November 12, 2021

1960 Topps Football Cards as Baseball Cards

This is a two-for-one Cards That Never Were post.  Continuing on with my posts of baseball cards using the Topps football card designs, I found something unusual.  In 1960 there was no card of that year's eventual MVP.  Norm Van Brocklin was in the final year of his Hall of Fame career. He led the Eagle to an NFL Championship that year.  So that needed to be rectified first.




Next onto the baseball version.  I chose the 1960 AL MVP, Roger Maris for this card.  I needed to alter it a bit by using a colorful baseball image instead of the colored football image Topps used on the 1960 card.  Ultimately, it reminded me of the 1964 Topps Giant baseball cards except with a colored baseball,





Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Roberto or Bob?

 In my last post I made a 1962 All Star card for Roberto Clemente.  I went back and forth on whether to use the name that Topps used for Clemente back in that era or his chosen name of Roberto.  I opted for the one that was more historically accurate. This caused some discussion in the comments.  Was this a micro-aggression? Was Topps trying to anglicize his name to appeal to a broader audience? Or was this "Just Topps being Topps"?  Perhaps a little of each? 

When he came into the league his first two Topps cards had his name as Roberto Clemente (1955, 1956).  In 1957 they changed it to Bob.  A name that he did not like.  The kept this practice through 1969, and a few insert cards of 1970.



Occasionally Topps would accidentally refer to him as Roberto in the bio on the back of the card (Topps being Topps).  This was understandable as most people in the media and otherwise, called him by his given name of Roberto. Here are the backs of a 1959 Topps card featuring Clemente, Bob Skinner, and Bill Virdon:


Here is the back of his 1962 Topps card:


Also whenever his facsimile autograph appeared on a card it was a beautifully written "Roberto Clemente". 



In an odd twist the 1967 Topps card abbreviated his facsimile signature to "Rob" Clemente.  Possibly to justify referring to him as Bob all along?


The other card makers during that time almost exclusively referred to him as Roberto.  These were mostly food issues or local team issues. The only exceptions I found was the 1961 Post cereal card.  He was referred to as Bob in 1961 but Roberto in subsequent issues. And the 1966 East Hills Shopping Center card.  Here are some food issue cards from that era; 1962 Post, 1963 Jello, 1966 Kahn's and 1969 Nabisco:






Here's a couple more oddballs from that era:  1962 Salada Tea coins and a 1968 Atlantic Oil card:



Even the 1963 Fleer set had a "Roberto" Clemente card:



Here is an interesting article on the subject. Click Here. In it the author states that he searched newspapers.com for the year 1956 looking for uses of the name "Bob Clemente".  He then searched the same for "Roberto Clemente".  "Bob" had 706 hits, "Roberto" had 5,156 hits. While it was not unheard of, Bob was used approximately 12% of the time when referring to Clemente in 1956, the year Topps changed his name to "Bob".  I have no data to back this up, but would wager that as Clemente became more famous (ie: the sixties) that 12% usage of "Bob" in the media diminished. By 1970 Topps (with the exception of a couple 1970 insert cards) finally used his given name on the front of their card.


I recently saw a 1966 Clemente card on twitter drawn by Gummy Arts (@gummyarts).  In his own inimitable style he recreated the card accurately but instead used Clemente's given name.  I loved it, and told him so.  There is no real need for card creators to be historically accurate at the cost of simple dignity.   He was fiercely proud of his heritage and preferred to be called Roberto. 


Even Topps in their Project 70 series of cards reimagined the 1969 card with Clemente's given name:


Does that make me part of the "woke" politically correct crowd?  I honestly don't care.  Those type of labels mean nothing to me personally.  I think we should treat all people with dignity and respect.  If they are offended by something you say, do your best not to offend them.  Especially something small like a name.  Whether we're talking about "Bob" Clemente, "Richie" Allen, the Washington Redskins or the Cleveland Indians.  Most times it costs you nothing.  Other times it could be a marketing bonanza.  Just think how many new jerseys, t-shirts, hats, etc. the Guardians will sell this year. 


I have been collecting cards since 1974.  By then Clemente was gone, but I had never heard him referred to as "Bob".  It was odd when I found older cards that had that name.  By 1970 even Topps was calling him Roberto.  For me to refer to him as "Bob" in an effort to be historically accurate to what Topps would have done, is counter to what I put at the very top of this blog.  "What cards would look like if I had my way".  So with my apologies to Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker, here is the card I should have made:


I think it looks just as good as my previous "Bob" Clemente card. And it cost me nothing to show simple respect.




Friday, November 5, 2021

Topps All-Star Misses: 1962 NL Outfield

 The 1962 Topps All Star NL outfield is a bit of mixed bag.  They had Aaron, Mays and Frank Robinson.  The actual outfield in both 1961 games was Mays, Clemente and Cepeda.  Now, Topps did have an All Star card of Cepeda at 1st base.  In 1962 he did move back to 1st and was the starter at 1st in both '62 games.  He was also a 1962 Sporting News All Star selection at 1st base in 1962.  So that checks out.  Frank Robinson was also a Sporting News All Star in 1961 and 1962. Still good so far. But Where is Clemente? He started all 4 ASGs in 1961 and 1962.  He was also a 1961 Sporting News All Star.  The other missing Star was Tommy Davis.  He was a starter in both 1962 games and was a 1962 Sporting News All Star.



Who probably didn't merit inclusion in the 1962 Topps All-Star set, but was in it anyway?

Hank Aaron:

This almost feels blasphemous, but the Hammer probably didn't belong.  He was a reserve for all 4 ASGs in 1961 and 1962, but not a starter.  He wasn't a Sporting News All Star selection either year. 




Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Topps All-Star Misses: 1968 AL Infield

 The 1968 Topps All Star cards for the AL infield nearly reflected the 1967 AL starting infield.  1st base was Killebrew, 2nd was Carew, 3rd was Brooks Robinson.  Shortstop was where they ran into trouble.  Topps had Jim Fregosi at shortstop.  The actual starting shortstop was Rico Petrocelli.



And then there is the issue that the cards were supposed to represent "The Sporting News 1968 All Star Selections".  In that case, they missed the mark at shortstop again.  Luis Aparicio was the Sporting News pick.




They missed at 1st base, too.  In 1968 Boog Powell was The Sporting News All Star section.






Who probably didn't merit inclusion in the 1969 Topps All-Star set, but was in it anyway?

Jim Fregosi:

 Fregosi technically doesn't belong using my narrow definition of either starting the previous season's ASG (1967) or being the current season's Sporting News All Star (1968).  However in 1967 he actually played more innings at short than the starter, Petrocelli. He was also the starter in the 1968 ASG.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

1970 Topps Brian Piccolo

 


It's Sunday and the Bears can use all the help they can get.  So here is a custom Brian Piccolo card in the style of the 1964 Topps Ken Hubbs "In Memoriam" card.  I was tempted to spell his name wrong (intentionally).  In his one and only Topps card his name was spelled "Bryon" on the front and "Bryan" on the back.  He was even part of a "4 in 1" card in 1969, also misspelled "Bryon".

I won't go into his story.  It's covered perfectly in the 1973 made-for-tv movie, Brian's Song.  If you haven't already viewed, or even if you just haven't seen it in a while, I highly recommend it. Don't waste your time on the ESPN remake.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Topps All-Star Misses: 1969 NL Battery

The 1969 Topps NL All Star battery consisted of RHP Bob Gibson, LHP Jerry Koosman and catcher Johnny Bench.  The actual 1968 All Star Game had Drysdale as the NL Starter and Jerry Grote behind the plate.  The first lefty relief pitcher was Steve Carlton. Carlton was also The Sporting News choice for All Star left-handed pitcher in 1969. Both Drysdale and Carlton could have been in this set. 


Tom Seaver was the Sporting News selection for All Star right-handed pitcher in 1969 and his battery-mate Jerry Grote was the 1968 ASG starting catcher.  So these Mets merit inclusion, too.

 
Who probably didn't merit inclusion in the 1969 Topps All-Star set, but was in it anyway?

Although Gibson never left the bullpen in the '68 ASG, I cannot fault Topps for giving him an All Star card based on his 1968 Cy Young & MVP season. I also (kind of) can't fault Topps for Koosman.  He only face one batter in the 1968 ASG but it was the final batter.  He struck out Yaz and got the save as the NL won 1-0 in the Astrodome. Despite Grote starting the 1968 ASG, Bench was the Sporting News choice for 1969 All Star catcher. Bench was also the 1968 Rookie of the Year and the runner up was Koosman. So despite having 4 other cards that could have been included in the 1969 All Star sub-set, I have to give Topps a pass.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

1965 World Series: The Missing Topps Set

 For years I've been wanting to tackle this missing piece of the 1966 Topps set.  From 1960 to 1980, Topps has included World Series cards in their sets with notable exceptions of 1966 and 1979. Now 55 years later, I'm making my version of that missing 1966 set. 

Game one the Dodgers were without their ace, Sandy Koufax who was observing Yom Kippur. Instead, Drysdale faced Mudcat Grant.  Grant was coming off a career year with a league leading 21 victories.  But this game was no pitching dual. Each team had 10 hits and all but one starting position player had at least one knock. The Twins iced it early with a 6-run 3rd inning.

Koufax returned for game two but it was Jim Kaat's game. Not only did he deliver a one-run complete game, but drove in two insurance runs in the 8th inning.


Down two games to none, the series moved to Chavez Ravine.  Claude O'Steen pitched a gem, spreading 5 hits over 9 innings to get the shutout.
In Game four the Dodgers evened the series at two.  Despite giving up solo homers to Killebrew and Olivia, Drysdale mowed the Twins down.  For the second game in a row a Dodgers pitcher threw a complete game. 


In the pivotal 5th game, Koufax threw the Dodgers 3rd straight complete game.  He shutout the Twins as the Dodgers took the series lead 3-2.  Maury Wills went 4 for 5 plus a stolen base.  But he wasn't the Dodgers only base running threat, Willie Davis stole 3 bases in game 5.

Game 6 was the Twins turn to showcase their pitching.  Mudcat Grant not only delivered another complete game victory, but contributed with his bat.  He drilled a 3 run homer in the 6th to push the Twins lead to 5-0. Ron Fairly hit a solo dinger in the 7th to provide the Dodgers only tally.


With the series tied at 3, the Dodgers sent their ace to the mound. Koufax threw his second shutout of the series and the 1965 Cy Young Award winner added another World Series MVP to his trophy case.