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.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Topps All-Star Misses: 1970 AL Outfield

 In 1970 Topps had All Star cards of Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson and Carl Yastrzemski in the American League outfield.  Reggie and "The Judge" shared the outfield with Frank Howard as starter in the 1969 All Star game.  Howard started the 1970 ASG as well. Hondo was also named to the 1970 Sporting News All Star team. Since that is what the cards supposedly declare in fake headlines, he probably should have had an All Star card in 1970.

The other two AL outfielders that were named to the 1970 Sporting News All Star roster were Reggie Smith and Tony Oliva.  Here are their All Star Cards That Never Were:

Who probably didn't merit inclusion in the 1970 Topps All-Star set, but was in it anyway?
Carl Yastrzemski:

 Yaz was neither a starter in the 1969 ASG nor named to the Sporting News All Star team in 1969 or 1970. That being said he had a great 1970 season and was a starter in that season's ASG. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

UPDATE: 1952 Topps Survivors

 I felt it was time to update the list of players in the iconic 1952 Topps set that are still with us. This was a project that was begun by the late Bob Lemke. Since my last update of this list, Eddie Robinson  passed away at the ripe old age of 100. He was the oldest living MLB player at the time of his death. In August we lost Johnny Groth. He was 95. Cloyd Boyer, the older brother of Clete and Ken Boyer, left us in September at the age of 94.

That brings the survivors of the 1952 Topps set down to twelve. Here is the current list of the '52 survivors: 

Bobby Shantz

Born 9/26/1925

Card #219

Bobby Morgan

Born 6/29/1926

Card #355

Carl Erskine

Born 12/13/1926

Card #250

Charlie Maxwell

Born 4/8/1927

Card #180

Bob Kelly

Born 10/4/1927

Card #348

Tommy Brown

Born 12/6/1927

Card #281

Bob Ross 

Born 11/2/1928

Card #298

Curt Simmons

Born 5/19/1929

Card #203

Ike Delock

Born 11/11/1929

Card #329

Vern Law

Born 3/12/1930

Card #81

Dick Groat

Born 11/4/1930

Card #369

Willie Mays

Born 5/6/1931

Card #261

    With the passing of Eddie Robinson earlier this month, the oldest living MLB player is George Elder.  He played only part of one season with the St. Louis Browns in 1949.  He played a total of 4 years of pro ball from 1947-1950.  He played minor league ball with the Toledo Mud Hens, San Antonio Missions, Baltimore Orioles. Beaumont Exporters and the Wichita Indians.  Since he never had a baseball card, I made him one in the style of the 1983 Topps Super Veteran cards.

    Saturday, October 16, 2021

    Topps All-Star Misses: 1958 AL Infield

     The Topps All Star American League infield was the same in 1958, 59 and 60. Moose Skowron was at first, Nellie Fox at second, Luis Aparicio at short and Frank Malzone at third.  Unfortunately, the only year when that was the actual MLB starting All Star infield was in 1958.  For that reason, I'm give Topps a pass here, even though the only 1957 MLB starter was Nellie Fox. He was also the lone Sporting News All Star selection for 1958. The remaining 1957 starting All Stars were Vic Wertz at first, George Kell at third and Harvey Kuenn at short.  So here are their 1958 All Star Cards That Never Were:

    Sunday, October 10, 2021

    1977 NFL Rookies of the Year

    Remarkably, all 5 NFL Rookie of the Year presenters were in agreement for the second year in a row.  In 1977 (like 1976) there were only 2 ROYs. Tony Dorsett was the unanimous choice for both Offensive Rookie of the Year and NFC ROY.  AJ Duhe was similarly the unanimous choice for Defensive ROY and AFC ROY.


    Friday, October 8, 2021

    Some 1975 Topps Football Customs

     As I mentioned before, I'm organizing and trying to complete some Topps football sets that I've had since I was a kid.  I am making binder covers for them so that they look nice on my shelf.  And of course, I decided that all of the cards featured on these binders would be "Cards That Never Were".  I've made literally thousands of cards for this blog in the decade plus that I've been sporadically posting.  However, football cards have been few and far between.  So now I am making a few cards simply for the sake of my binders, and here is the completed binder cover:

    Most of these have been published on this blog.  Bartkowski and Brazile were both Rookies of the Year in 1975. Click Here. The Divisional Playoff cards were just published yesterday. Click Here.  I took the Vikings-Cardinals card for my binder. And Joe Namath on his potential WFL Chicago Winds card was posted a few weeks back. Click Here.

    I am a "homer" and I readily admit it.  So you knew I needed to have a bears card.  The Rookie Stars card was a Topps baseball standard of the 60s and 70s, but not football. So here's what a 1975 Bears Rookie Stars card would look like with the classic backfield tandem of Walter Payton and Roland Harper.

    The final two include a "normal" card of George Blanda and a 1974 "Highlights" card of Emerson Boozer.  In 1974 the NFL added a sudden death overtime to the rules, and the first player to score a walk-off touchdown was Enerson Boozer.  It was a short path from Joe Namath.

     In 1975 Blanda had 2 "special" cards.  Both close ups of his profile and different layout than the standard card. I really didn't care for either, so I had to make a "regular" card for him. 

    Here are his actual 1975 cards:

    Thursday, October 7, 2021

    1975 Topps Divisional Playoffs

     These were requested by someone who contacted me through eBay.  He wanted more complete NFL playoff cards from Topps.  I needed to add a few custom football cards to my binder cover anyway (more on that later).  Anyway, here are the divisional playoff from 1974 using a similar format of the 1974 AFC and NFC championship cards in the 1975 set.

    Trailing Buffalo 7-3 to start the 2nd quarter, the Steelers scored 26 unanswered points.  Rocky Bleier caught a 27 yard TD pass from Bradshaw. Franco Harris rushed for 3 more TDs to make it 29-7 at the half. Pittsburgh went on to beat the Bills 32-14.

    With the game tied 7-7 at the half, the Vikings scored 16 points in 7 minutes. 10 of which were off Cardinals turnovers. In the game Chuck Foreman had 1968 all purpose yards. He rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown and caught 5 passes for 54 yards.

    Trailing 26-21 in a back and forth battle. and just 2 minutes left in the game, Ken Stabler mounted another comeback.  Drive the Raiders downfield culminating in a 8 yard TD pass to running back Clarence Davis. Down 28-26 with just 24 seconds left, the Dolphins' Bob Griese threw an interception on the second play of the drive. Phil Villapiano's pick iced Oakland's victory

    In the final game of Sonny Jurgensen's Hall of Fame career, it was all about the defense.  There were only 2 offensive TDs and one of those was set up by a forced fumble. In all there were 9 turnovers between the Rams and Washington. The nail in the Redskins coffin was a 4th quarter pick-six by Isiah Robertson to put L.A. up 19-10.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2021

    Topps All-Star Misses: 1959 NL Battery

     In 1959 the Topps "Sporting News" All Star cards featured the 1958 ASG starting pitcher, Warren Spahn and also the first right hander to come in relief, Bob Friend.  They were also bot selected to the 1958 Sporting News All Star team.  But the 1959 recipients were left out. The Sporting News All Stars for 1959 were Sam Jones the righty, and Johnny Antonelli, the lefty.  Both were pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. 


    In case you're wondering about the catcher, Topps got it right.  Del Crandall was the 1958 MLB All Star. There was no 1959 NL catcher on the Sporting News roster. Back then it was a combined AL and ML roster. Their selection was Sherm Lollar of the White Sox.

    Saturday, October 2, 2021

    Topps All-Star Misses: 1960 AL Outfield

     In 1960 Topps had Mantle, Maris and Kaline as its AL All Star outfielders.  All three of them started one of the 1959 ASGs.  Kaline started game one,  Maris and Mantle started the second game.  That left three other 1959 ASG starters that did not have All Star cards in the 1960 set.  Minnie Minoso was the most egregious offense. He not only started all four ASGS in 1959 and 1960, but he was also a Sporting News All Star in both 1959 and 1960.

    Rocky Colavito started the first All Star game in 1959 and was a reserve in the second game.  He led the AL with 42 homers in 1959 and was 4th in MVP voting.

    Ted Williams would get his last All Star start in the second ASG of 1959.  By 1960 he was already under contract with Fleer and wouldn't have another Topps card until his manager cards in 1969.