Tuesday, October 29, 2013

#771 San Francisco Giants

*  author's note this one is going to be tricky the first team card...

 Depicted are the 1971 San Francisco Giants who made the divisional playoffs with a 90-72 record beating the Dodgers by one game. They were the first losing team to win a game since the start of divisional series taking the first game 5-4 over the eventual champs Pittsburg Pirates.  The nucleus of the team was a holdover from the teams of 1960’s that was often in a playoff hunt only to fall short (finishing 2nd five times from ’65 to ‘69).  This aging team was in its last hurrah, for in 1972 the Giant would revert to a 69-86 record, 26.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds (the season was 7 games shorter because of a labor dispute).  Attendance almost dropped in half from 71 to 72.  This is was team that needed an overhaul.

About the team card:  This is my first team card, so I have a lot to say.  Here goes…I don’t hate team cards but they are…wasteful.  The picture is too small to discriminate players (although the size of McCovey and distinctive look of Willie Mays can be made out here).  That stats on back have no bearing on the 1971 season (even making the divisional playoffs is not indicated) and this is the case for most of the team cards. 
Then and now… Hitting: Eclipsed batting records are Double (4x’s), total bases, home runs (Barry Bonds 2001)  

Here's a look at 1972 team records compared to Baseball reference.  A key difference is that baseball reference includes records from 1883 on, whereas Topps excludes all records from the 19th century or have a different minimum.
Batting Record in 1972
2013 status on Baseball Reference
Now M Tierman with 147 (1889)
Eclipsed 4 times Jeff Kent is now the leader.
1893 George Davis with 27.
Home Runs
Barry Bonds..insert comment here. Mays 52 hrs is now second.
Total Bases
Now Barry Bonds with 411
Run Batted In
Batting Average
2013 Status
The record is elipsed many times over Wilhelm’s mark.
Complete Games
Whihelm’s .833 is now beat by Felix Rodriquez based on 9-1 record in 2001.

Pitching:  This is a difficult analysis; The Giants have 120 plus years of seasonal records, the nature of pitching has changed massively.  Some statistics have gone a massive change out (games appearances  some not at all (wins, losses, ERA), some records have changed by what Topps or MLB considered criteria at the time.   

Sunday, October 27, 2013

#772 Ken Tatum

Rookie season was incredible…Second best relief ERA in decade that was dominated by pitching…plus great win loss pct…39 Saves in his first two years, very good for relievers at that time....the back of the card says it all, was fast becoming a relief standout then hit in the head with a line drive in an accident in Baltimore...The info is Boston split the series but not before their key reliever, Ken Tatum, was struck by a batting practice line drive before their May 23 twin bill, fracturing his jaw in three places, requiring plastic surgery and keeping him on disabled list....On further investigation there is another event that was part of Tatum’s career…one occurring almost exactly a year earlier....also against Baltimore....On May 31, 1970 Paul Blair was beaned by California Angel pitcher Ken Tatum and suffered a broken nose. Blair recovered quickly, finishing the season batting .267 but many feel Blair was never the same…Traded for #774 Luis Alverez...Finished career with White Sox.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

#773 Ron Brand

  A journeyman at the end of his career … usually always a catcher but in later years added infielder…last two cards give him the unusual position of catcher/infielder although his versatility was mentioned as far back as 1968...Started in the Pirates organization where he was the closest to being a regular ….an original Expo drafted last from Houston in the expansion pool of players….After 1971 Never appeared in the majors again although Baseball reference indicates he did make the 1972 but did not appear on the field…Did spend half the 72 in Montreal’s AAA farm club in Peninsula Whips a team out of Hampton Roads Va….had a brief appearance in California League in 1975…This Brand’s only card with a bat…Has a cool 1969 card that simulates in action of taking off the catcher’s mask….This card’s stadium shot:  My guess is Shea stadium based on the tall lights and no advertisement in the outfield wall…Very religious, was a ordained Deacon at age 12…Pro Debut was with Las Vegas/San Jose franchise in the California League in 1958 along with pitcher Bob Veale….The Las Vegas team moved in mid season and is sometimes referred in cards as Las Vegas or San Jose…Did not have a 1967 card despite being in the bigs all year…Never hit well enough for a consistent regular gig….Little pop; 3 hrs in 1340 Abs.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

#774 Luis Alvarado

The sometimes shortstop, sometimes second baseman , in 1971 and 1972 was part of chisox short stop by committee… possibly intended to be Luis Aparicio’s heir but never panned out...was the youngest player in the majors in 1968....famous in card circles as the 1973 parking lot player, an in action spring training shot of a force out at second where he is not distinguished from another Sox;  past the action, several parked cars visible through a chainlink fence… fielding, great arm, and solid hitting in 1969 AAA resulted in IL MVP…made him a top prospect, but buried behind Rico Petricelli ‘s best years..was tried at third by the Bosox but like many others at the time failed at the position...finished mlb career in 1977....died in 2001.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

#775 Jerry Reuss

Jerry Reuss;  Four decade player... a tall distinctive looking blond man who pitched in the MLB over 21 seasons…Started in 1969 as a late season call up pitching 7 shut out innings and getting the win...1971 was his first full season for a hometown boy who grew up in St. Louis....But the Cards dealt him before the 1972 season to Houston... a student of the all aspects of baseball and was avid photographer of stadiums…logged in 220 wins and was possibly one of the best pitchers in 1980 and then the strike shorten 1981 season.  Was the eighth youngest player when he started, and second oldest in his last season….easy to spot in old photographs and game footage because of long flowing locks…never won 20 but had 18 wins three times….but almost did everything else....No hitter in 1980...comeback player in the same year...World Series win in 1981...by appearing in 4 games in 1990, had the rare achievement of playing in 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's.....by all rights appears to be person very happy with his major league career.

Friday, October 11, 2013

#776 Bill Voss

Bill Voss:  a journeyman outfielder,, more known for glove and above average range..., had occasional pop…. 1971 was his best power season.  His high number 1971 card is bit of an anomaly, possibly the first Brewer photo ever taken at spring training in 1971 (1970 spring training photos and cards were of the Seattle Pilots) …Started in Chi Sox organization but is best known for time in California…. placed high in outfielder double plays with extremely little playing time in 1968….played for three teams in his final season; Milwaukee, Oakland, and St. Louis.  Possibly 1969 was best season although in 71 he hit over half of his career home runs…Good fielder with an excellent arm…. …..who most regular playing time was on teams that had little hitting…I believe the pic is from spring training at Tempe Az, with it… telltale bluffs in the background…facility is still be used…never returned to minors after leaving the White Sox organization


Monday, October 7, 2013

#777 Hoyt Whilhem

It's something to pitch nearly over the span of 30 years… incredible longevity, which is a signature of the Knuckleballer, if done right…and probably the greatest Knuckleballer of all tiem...  From 1966 to 1972 he was the oldest player in MLB…Also the premier knuckleball reliever of all time.  Hoyt had brief foray as a starter in 1959 and although highly successful (15 wins and the ERA champion he returned to the bullpen within a year…Hoyt is also 5th in all time game played as a pitcher. ..even at age 45 he second in AL games… Started in 1942 and his career was derailed by WW2....Was wounded in the battle of the Bulge and received a Purple Heart…Returned to the minors after the war and won 107 games before major league debut....Started as a New York Giant....Had his only major league home run in his first AB....431 AB later never had another HR...After NY he then had short stints with the Cardinals, Indians...Career regain momentum wtih the Orioles, White Sox....Was selected in 1969 expansion by KC who dealt him to Angels prior to the 1969 season....This started three consecutive years with two or more teams, including the Braves twice, Cubs, and Dodgers...final season appeared in 16 games with the Dodgers in 1972...That year he also pitched in 8 games for the Dodger's AAA affiliate, the Spokane Indians, where got his last two professional wins....The time elapsed from minor league debut to minor league finale was 29 years.....Almost played until age 50....Holds the all time record for most relief wins (124) and innings (1871) as a relief pitcher...In today's game these records will most likely not ever be broken....  now departed his life a born in 1922, debuted 1952 at age 30, last game in 1972, and died in 2002....HOF

Thursday, October 3, 2013

#778 Twins Rookie Stars

Here's my first attempt at a Rookie Card....
I never had this Twins rookie card but I'd loved to have it growing up in Central Minnesota...as rookie cards go it's fairly typical in terms of the overall players careers.  A short timer (Strickland), a 3-4 MLB year career man (Albury) and Rick Dempsey, who logged in over 20 years as a sometime starter but a pretty memorable backstop.....So let’s start with Rick…As far as Dempsey and the Twins they never quite meshed.   Over four seasons as cup of coffee guy, Rick had 66 Abs, no homers, no runs batted in and was pretty much off the radar buried behind several backstops, Mitterwald, Borgman, Phil Roof, Paul Ratliff, even Tom Tichinski and catcher convert Danny Walton…having grown up and following the Twins closely I had never heard of him before leaving for greener pastures. ..Dempsey then get traded to the NY Yankees before the 1973 season and while he never becomes a regular he is serviceable as Thurman Munson's backup....Then in 1976 he was part the trade to Baltimore  It is here Dempsey makes a name for himself for most of the eighties....Most memorable, sometime in the early 80’s, there was a rain delay in regular season game, Dempsey takes it upon himself to stuff his gut, walk out to the tarp and pantomime a comical home run trot…For the time it was viral been the put in blooper reels, TWIB, and TV rain delay footage…I wonder what the grounds crew thought.. The other moment was after being named 1983 World Series MVP Rick received a phone call from President Reagan, Rick then proceeded to tell how the Russians would be better off if they played baseball…Rick appears to be never at the loss for words…

Albury did not make it to the Twins in 1972 and most of 1973, but able to be a regular Twins spot starter middle reliever for about 3 years.   He was primarily a reliever in the minors.  I often confuse him with Twin Ray Corbin had a similar role around the same time.  The background of pictures is that of Orlando Tinker field…which was dwarfed  by the adjacent Orlando Citrus Bowl

Strickland appears to have trouble with injuries, collects a  4-2 record in 60 games.  Strickland appearance in this RC is somewhat of a misnomer for he appeared in 24 games and 31 innings during 1971 campaign.  Started as a Dodger farmhand and ended career in Cleveland organization