Tag Archives: 1965 topps

card show stuff

it’s been over a month since wallet card and i went to the semi-annual regional card show, and i still haven’t shown off the other cards i bought and scanned.  like this 1951 bowman don newcombe card

it’s nice that the ‘bull pen’ is labeled and that curious george’s man in yellow is watching newk warm up from the stands.

i picked up a card for my 1965 topps set, and it features three hall of famers

say hey! the giants must have had a pretty good team in 1964 with all that power (plus juan marichal and gaylord perry on the mound).  well, they won 90 games but were 4th in the national league, 3 games back of the pennant winning cardinals.  the dodgers were two games under .500, but bounced back pretty well in ’65.
i also grabbed a card for my 1957 topps set for a buck – don mossi
i won’t mention the ears.
from the dime binder, a 1982 topps sticker of pedro guerrero
showing his co-mvp form in the 1981 world series
the rest of the stuff comes from the dime boxes, and they were brimming with junk wax. i took some new to me double plays, like this 1993 donruss spike owen
1993 leaf ricky gutierrez

1994 leaf jose lind

1995 leaf carlos baerga

and 2001 fleer tradition marlon anderson

a little something for pretty much every facet of my collection!

Vintage Fridays: Bob Johnson, 1965 Topps #363

Word salad.

At their best, baseball cards are art. The 1965 Topps set is absolutely a work of art.

Earlier tonight, the Braves pulled a double-switch to sub in a pair of former Orioles. Kelly Johnson replaced Chris Johnson at third base, and Jim Johnson came in from the bullpen to relieve Luis Avilan. It may have been the first triple-Johnson double-switch in major league history, but it was all for naught. Jim Johnson took the loss in a 1-0 walkoff job by the Phillies. Freddie Galvis singled, was bunted to second, took third on a passed ball, and scored on a Freddie Freeman error.

When temperatures are dropping into the thirties overnight in late April, I shouldn’t still be having seasonal allergy attacks. That’s just piling on.

Even though they’re called baseball cards, there are fewer cards that prominently feature baseballs than you might think. I’ve done absolutely no research to back this up.

That baseball wishes it were as sparkling white as Bob Johnson’s pearly chompers. Why didn’t I just call them teeth?

I keep getting carded when I buy beer at Camden Yards, even though gray hairs are starting to creep into my beard. I wonder if the vendors will stop bothering as the season progresses.

I still have two types of anxiety dreams on a regular basis. It’s either the first day of high school or college and I have no idea where and when my classes are. If it’s not that, I’m performing in a play and I (and/or my costars) don’t know the lines or the blocking (where to move and when), and maybe costumes are missing as well. I’ve been out of high school for 15 years, and out of college for 11. I haven’t acted in a full-length play for five years.

Five straight losses for the Orioles, which never happened in 2014. April of 2015 has been one of my least favorite months in recent memory, on both a personal and a baseball-fan basis.

1965 April 9 – The Astrodome Opens

Fifty Years ago the Astrodome opened. Last year Topps honored the anniversary as part in the Heritage Baseball Flashbacks set.

2014 Topps Heritage Baseball Flashbacks #BF-A Astrodome

The card had the date and the venue’s catchy nickname “The Eight Wonder of the World”. The game played on April 9th was not the first official game played at the Astrodome, rather it was an exhibition game versus the New York Yankees.

2014 Topps Heritage Baseball Flashbacks #BF-A Astrodome (b-side)

The B-side covers the basics of the game. But there are a variety of fun facts regarding the game.

The game was a sellout (47876), First Pitch was thrown by former Phillies right-hander Turk Farrell.  The first batter of the game was Mickey Mantle who doubled and later hit the venue’s first Home Run.

That was the sole run for the Yankees in a low scoring affair that went into extra innings tied 1-1. The Astros won the game on a 12th inning pinch single by Future Hall of Famer Nellie Fox who was beginning his final season. The first Astro to bat in the new ballpark was a Rookie Second Baseman who would also have a Hall of Fame career, Joe Morgan.

2010 Obak #77  Roy Hofheinz

One of the principle folks in getting Houston an MLB franchise was Roy Hofheinz. A former mayor of the city who also helped to get the Astrodome built.

In 2010 Tristar/Obak honored Hofheinz with a baseball card. The quirky series circumvents the MLB licensing issues by focusing on Former Players, Minor Leaguers and the History of the Game both on and off the field. 

2010 Obak #77  Roy Hofheinz (b-side)

The Flip side of the card briefly discusses the contributions of Roy Hofheinz to Houston baseball.

Astrodrome Today (er well in 2012)
Recently Deadspin ran an article based off of anonymous photos taken by a troika of brothers that had snuck into the dome. Click here to view the adventure.

Sources and Links
Astros Daily
Obak
Baseball-ref
deadspin

1964 Topps @ 50 (now 51) Pat Corralles

This is our second 1964 Phillies related posting in the last couple of days and we have another manager related card.

1965 Topps #107 Rookie Stars Pat Corrales & Costen Shockley 

And like last weeks card today’s entry is another Manager card, Pat Corrales was not the leader of the 64 club but he would helm the Phillies in the early 80s. He is also the man who connect the team series that we have run so far – Corrales played for the 1964 Phils and managed the 1983 Phils.

Corrales’ contributions to the 1964 squad were negligible, He was a rookie who pinch hit in two games.  He remained with the Phillie for the 1965 season with whom he played a career high 63 games. The rest of his career was spent bouncing around the fringes for three different clubs, his final Major League game came in 1973.

As mentioned above Pat Corrales was a manager of the NL Pennant winning 1983 Phillies. However, he was not THE manager. Despite having the team in first place, Corrales was fired after the All-Star Break, Paul Owens took over and led the team to the playoffs. 

1965 Topps Rookie Stars
We featured the other half of this Rookie Stars card in this column last September

Sources & Links
1964 Phillies Index
Year of the Blue Snow (James Lincoln Ray)
baseball-ref 

empirically, these cards are fantastic

i recently had the opportunity to meet brian, he of everybody’s favorite new blog highly subjective and completely arbitrary at the local monthly card show.  we had agreed to meet near one of the vintage bargain bin dealers that i have written about so frequently and swap some cards.  it turned out to be a fitting location, as one of the cards brian dropped on me was this one:

clemente, carty, and aaron.  card number 1 in the 1965 topps set – a set which i am making slow progress towards completing.  like i said in the title – fantastic.

there were a bunch of dodgers, too, like a 2015 topps clayton kershaw rainbow foil parallel

a 2014 topps stadium club clayton kershaw field access insert

(which uses a photo that very well could wind up on a panini release), and another kershaw – this time with sandy koufax, warren spahn, and steve carlton on a 2013 topps archives 1969 4-in-1 decal insert

that’s heady company for the dodger ace, but he’s deserving of it.  here’s another dodger lefty who garnered some high praise early in his career, fernando valenzuela on a 2915 topps baseball history insert

among the things that brian and i discussed was the appeal of o-pee-chee.  brian already knew about my  opc blog, and is actually collecting the 1965 o-pee-chee set.  he included a 1979 opc burt hooton card in the trade

which was again, fantastic. 1979 may be my favorite o-pee-chee set because of the logo in the ball.  the logo appeared again in 1982, but i prefer ’79 to that set.  the only drawback to the ’79 set is that there is no french on the front.

here’s a 1993 topps gold jay howell parallel

and a 2008 topps gold foil casey blake parallel

and a 2003 upper deck 40 man card of paul quantrill

that quantrill would fit nicely in brian’s sunglasses mini collection, but i am happy to have one of the few cards of quantrill as a dodger.

this was the second blogger i’ve met in person (paul from carl crawford cards is the other), and it was fun to connect with another collector like that. especially when cards like these were exchanged.  thanks brian – looking forward to the show next month!

vintage – old and new – from the card show

when is vintage old and new, you might ask?  well, when topps buys back its old cards, stamps ’em, and puts them in packs of 2015 cards, they are both new and old.  such is the case with these three cards – 1974 topps charlie hough
1979 topps vic davalillo

and 1979 topps lance rautzhan

i bought them at the card show a couple of weeks ago,  they were twenty cents apiece.

i spent a little bit of time in the vintage bargain bin, picking up some set needs.  i needed this 1971 topps yankee team card

and this al kaline card from the ’71 set

was the lowest numbered card on my want list.

i picked up $10 worth of 1965 topps cards, the best/worst of which was this juan marichal card

fifty cents for marichal.

after paying up one dealer for some of the vintage, he threw a 1957 topps ted williams card down on the table.  did i mention i was collecting the 1957 set?  the card is trimmed and notched, but hey – it’s ted williams and card number 1 in the set.  i bit.

it’s the first williams card that i own from his playing days, and should be the last.  i was stoked to find one that fits my collection for less than the price of something that costs $10.01.

there were more cards obtained at the show, but those were via trade.  i’ll show some of them on friday.

Will Ferrell raises money to fight Cancer – will emulate Bert Campaneris

As part of a fundraiser to fight Cancer, Actor Comedian and Phungo Favorite Will Ferrell will be making a special Spring Training tour on Thursday. He will be playing in 5 Cactus League games.

1965 Topps #266 Bert Campaneris

One of Ferrell’s goal is to play for all 10 teams playing in those five games. He will also attempt to play all 9 positions – a feat first accomplished in a Major League Game 50 years ago by Bert Campaneris.

On September 8th 1965 Campy started at shortstop for the Kansas City A’s who were hosting the California Angels. He then went on to play all 9 positions including pitcher and catcher. As a batter he went 0-3 but did score a run off a walk. Campaneris pitched the top of the 8th inning giving up a single run off one hit and a couple of walks. He did Strike Out Bobby Knoop.

1965 Topps 
Nice card with a rookie cup – an award earned by Campaneris for 67 games in his rookie campaign of 1964. He batted .257 with 4 Homers and 22 RBIs. Good enough for an 86 OPS+ and +0.7 WAR

Sources & Links
LA Dodgers
Baseball-ref

yes, the cards celebrate

or, perhaps more accurately, my card collection celebrates when i receive trade packages in the mail such as the one reader john sent not quite a couple of months ago.
he knocked quite a few cards off of my 1965 topps want list, like this world series card
as well as the game 6 recap card featuring the yanks’ jim bouton

love those stirrups.

john also included bouton’s base card

plus another yankee-ish card, the american league batting leaders featuring tony o, brooks robinson, and elston howard

that’s card number 2 in the set.

here’s the 1965 american league mvp and future dodger, zoilo versalles

there was a multi-player rookie card (hello sandy alomar, sr)

a bob chance rookie cup card

with him wearing a cleveland indians jersey as a washington senator

here’s the angel manager bill rigney

i believe the halos became the california angels in 1965, with rigney staying on as manager into the 1969 season.  he later led the twins to the postseason in 1970.

here’s the back of jim king’s card

i’m showing it because i like the backs of 1965 topps cards, and this one also mentions double plays.  it’s not a double play card, but it gets bonus points for a dp mention, even if it’s related to outfield double plays.
john took a shot at my 2001 topps heritage want list, too.  he sent along dodgers darren dreifort

and chan ho park

along with some other cards, including some teams that weren’t represented in the 1952 topps set

of course, the red sox and giants were in the ’52 set, and the twins were the senators back then.  i just didn’t take the time to separate the scan.  also, dig on cristian guzman’s facsimile signature.
last, but not least, john included one of the unnumbered checklists.

thanks for the trade john – i hope we can do it again sometime!

Say U.N.C.L.E

You may have heard that there’s a  Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie coming out this summer.  For you youngsters it’s based on a tv show from the mid-1960’s.  In 1965 Topps issued a set of 55 B&W Man From U.N.C.L.E cards.  I recently picked up my first, a nice shot of Napoleon Solo played by Robert Vaughn.

I’ve had this book for half a century.  Oh my!

I can’t remember who had what but I know that between a friend and I, I’m sure we had at least these two toys.  
Star Trek fan will love this clip (but they’ve probably already seen it).  Hogan’s Heroes, Werner Klemperer is also in the scene.

Updated Food for Thought: Hot Stove Edition

A few baseball-card-related thoughts as we approach winter…

If Jon Lester signs with a team other than the Athletics—which is how it seems things will shake out—does that mean we’ll never see a card of Lester in an A’s uniform? This probably happens a lot, but the two players who come to mind are Reggie Jackson (Orioles) and Don Baylor (Athletics), both in 1976. Another guy who could fit this bill is Yoenis Cespedes, the slugging outfielder the Red Sox obtained in exchange for Lester. The Sox have a logjam in the outfield and the feeling is that Cespedes walks after next year.
This also brings up an interesting take on the purpose of end-of-year series like Topps Update and Topps Heritage High Numbers. Topps Update is a showcase for All-Star cards, rookies, and guys who fell through the cracks in the regular set. Heritage High Numbers is chock full of rookies and other end-of-the-bench guys who didn’t get cards in the regular series. Gone are the days when traded players get cards of them in their new uniforms. Were it up to me, High Numbers and Update would be a more traditional mix of rookies and traded players. This would solve the problem of guys like Lester, Cespedes, and Nelson Cruz (whose year on the Orioles probably won’t be recognized in 2015 Topps Heritage)…
…An insert set that didn’t seem to hold its value is the mini set in 2014 Topps Heritage. Despite being the case hit and each card being numbered to just 100, eBay prices have fallen in the last few weeks. All of this is good news for me, as I now have 47 of the 100 subjects…
…Is Topps’s design for 2015 a subtle homage to 1990’s design? It’ll be the 25th anniversary of that set, which could mean a possible “no-name” error, right?…
…I promise this is the last Heritage item I’ll bring up for now: I’ve decided that the ultimate card from the Heritage set is the Maury Wills Real One autograph card. For one thing, Wills is shown as a member of the Dodgers. Secondly, he wasn’t included in the 1965 Topps set, so—barring custom cards—this is as close as you’re going to get to a 1965 Topps Maury Wills card. 
…Are there great card blogs still out there? From what I’ve read recently, collectors are more interested in posting images of their “hitz” on Twitter than talking about the bigger picture in the hobby. Is that how others see it?

Finally, I almost forgot. Remember my post in November 2013 about the future of price guides? (Read Average Real Pricing: The Future of The Price Guide.) Well, if you subscribe to Beckett’s online price guide, it looks like they incorporated something like average real pricing into their tiered offerings. They’re calling it the Beckett Online Price Guide Plus (very original). If it’s anything like my idea for average real pricing, this is a step in the right direction. Hey Beckett, you’re welcome.

#525 Eddie Bressoud

Here we are at last…the end of the road. One last time, I would like to thank everyone who has read, shared, or commented on this blog over the last five years and change. I didn’t post these entries on anything resembling a consistent schedule, so it means a lot to me that you hung in there and offered feedback and kind words. An even bigger thanks goes to all who helped me accomplish something that started off as a pipe dream: collecting a complete set of cards that predates me by 17 years. At the outset, I assumed that I might be able to cobble together a fair share of 1965 Topps through some overly-generous trades, but I was pleasantly surprised by how many of you were willing to help – and how much you were willing to help! I never imagined that some of you folks would be glad to send along cards without even expecting anything in return. I hope that my gratitude and my few words about those cards will suffice in some small way.

I had a lot of fun in completing my first vintage set completely from scratch, and I’d like to think that the information I acquired in researching these players helped to make me a better baseball fan. As I went along in this process, I made some significant changes in the way I presented the cards I’d acquired. I started off presenting both sides of the various trades in a summary-style post, and didn’t offer much detail on the players featured. Later I focused on each new card individually, with full player biographies in multiple-paragraph form. That became a bit tedious and cumbersome, so I switched to the bullet-point presentation that I still use today. As I drew closer to completing the set, I considered re-posting all of the early cards with new bullet-point formats, for consistency’s sake. But ultimately, I decided to leave the blog as-is. I think it helps illustrate the changing process that I used to complete and appreciate the 1965 Topps set. I’d also like to announce the pending launch of STILL ANOTHER card blog, because I am a glutton for punishment. This time it’s a set I’ve already completed, and one that dates back to the very onset of my fandom: the 1993 Topps base set. If you’ve got room on your blogroll for one more set blog, hold on to that link. I’m really looking forward to spending the next few years revisiting the cards that consumed much of my attention 20 years ago. I’m hoping to update over there on a near-daily basis, but we’ll see what the future holds. Now then…on with the final card of 1965!

It’s fitting in a way that Eddie Bressoud takes us home, since I don’t know the first thing about him. In what is likely my very last update to the 1965 Topps blog, I am going to learn about a player who has escaped my attention thus far.

Fun facts about Eddie Bressoud:
-A native Los Angeleno, Eddie signed with the New York Giants as a teenager in 1950.

-He served in the military during the 1953 and 1954 seasons, delaying his big league debut until 1956. In his initial game on June 14, Bressoud had the unenviable task of facing future Cooperstown resident Warren Spahn. The young infielder went hitless in his first three tries, but ultimately notched a single against Spahn in the eighth inning.

-In a half-dozen seasons with the Giants, Eddie averaged only 74 games a year with a below-average batting line of .239/.299/.369. But the Houston club made him their first pick in the October 1961 expansion draft and flipped him to the Red Sox a month later for shortstop Don Buddin. It proved to be a lopsided deal, as Buddin hit .163 in 40 games for the Colts and was out of the majors by season’s end; Bressoud, meanwhile, found Boston much to his liking.

-Bressoud rapped 40 doubles for the Sox in 1962, as well as nine triples, 14 home runs, and 68 RBI. His triples and RBI totals would be career highs.

-Eddie reached the 20-homer plateau for the only time in his career in 1963. Highlights included four two-homer games, his only career walk-off shot (June 26 against Pedro Ramos of the Indians), and his first career grand slam (August 22 against Chicago’s Taylor Phillips).

-1964 was a career year for Bressoud, as he batted .293/.372/.456 with 41 doubles and made his only All-Star team.

-He declined sharply after that, with an OPS dip of 180 points the next season. Boston traded the shortstop to the Mets for the 1966 campaign, and he lasted one year in New York before finishing his career as a reserve for the World Champion Cardinals squad in 1967. Eddie appeared in two World Series games as a late-inning defensive replacement, a low-key farewell for the 12-year major league veteran.

-His career batting line was .252/.319/.401 with 94 home runs and 365 RBI.

-Following his playing career, Bressoud earned his college degree from UCLA. He also spent two seasons managing in the minors for the Angels, and was a scout for the Halos for a time. Later he taught physical education and coached the baseball team at De Anza College in Cupertino, CA.

-Eddie still lives in San Ramon, CA. He celebrated his 81st birthday a week ago.

#484 Ron Perranoski

#484 Ron Perranoski photo perranoski_zps769ac791.jpg
Here’s the penultimate card in our long journey, and this time I’m serious. This is a visually striking card; you don’t see many crowd shots in 1960’s Topps sets. The blurry folks milling around in the stands behind Ron Perranoski make the player pop out in the foreground. I also like Ron’s sideways glance, as though the photographer has been putting him through the motions for quite some time. A teammate passes, gives Perranoski a knowing smirk, and Ron shoots him a look that says, “Can you believe this guy? I just want to finish my warmups.”

Fun facts about Ron Perranoski:

-Ron was born in Paterson, NJ (as Ron Perzanowski) and attended Michigan State University before signing with the Cubs in 1958.

-His cousin, Stan Perzanowski, pitched in 37 games for the White Sox, Rangers, and Twins between 1971 and 1978.

-The Cubs traded him to the Dodgers in April 1960 as part of a three-for-one deal that sent Don Zimmer to Chicago. He debuted with L.A. a year later and was a bullpen fixture from the start, appearing in 53 games with a 7-5 record, six saves, and a 2.65 ERA.

-1963 was Perranoski’s standout season, as he posted a 16-3 record in relief with 21 saves and a 1.67 ERA. He paced the National League in winning percentage (.842) and games pitched (69), and finished fourth in MVP balloting. In the Dodgers’ World Series sweep over the Yankees, the lefty nailed down a save in Game Two by getting the final two outs in relief of Johnny Podres.

-As you might imagine, the career-long reliever wasn’t much of a hitter. In 190 career plate appearances, he had a batting line of .096/.147/.114 with three RBI. However, he did hit a triple on September 4, 1966 off of the Reds’ Don Nottebart. I would’ve liked to have seen him run the bases!

-In all, Ron spent eight years in Los Angeles, posting a 54-41 record, 101 saves, and a 2.56 ERA.

-The Twins acquired the relief ace in November 1967, parting with former A.L. MVP Zoilo Versalles and 20-game winner Jim “Mudcat” Grant and receiving Perranoski, John Roseboro, and Bob Miller.

-Ron led the American League in saves in both the 1969 and 1970 seasons, with 31 and 34 respectively. Though the Twins captured the first two Western Division crowns in A.L. history, they ran into the Baltimore juggernaut in the postseason in each year. The league’s top fireman allowed a total of eight runs in seven innings as the Orioles swept Minnesota twice.

-The final three years of Ron’s career saw him move from the Twins to the Tigers, then back to the Dodgers briefly, before an eight-game stint with the Angels in 1973 signaled the end of the road. In 13 seasons, he was 79-74 with 179 saves and a 2.79 ERA.

-Perranoski found a home in the Dodgers’ organization after retiring as a player. He was the club’s minor league pitching coordinator (1973-1980) and big league pitching coach (1981-1994) for more than two decades before joining the rival Giants in 1995. He’s been with San Francisco ever since, serving as minor league pitching coordinator, major league bench coach and pitching coach, and finally as a special assistant to general manager Brian Sabean.

#484 Ron Perranoski photo perranoskib_zpsd6656b6e.jpg

#443 Checklist 6th Series

#443 Checklist 6th Series photo checklist6_zpsd2e0e229.jpg
This is the third-to-last card left for me to post…this time I mean it. I’m sorry that it’s a checklist, but them’s the breaks. Hey, at least it’s unmarked! Savor the blank boxes. There’s not a lot of star power on the front of the card, as Mudcat Grant, Willie Davis, and Elston Howard are the most notable names. The second half of the checklist for Series 6 is a bit glitzier, as the Braves Rookie Stars card featuring Phil Niekro, the Yogi Berra card, the Cardinals Rookie Stars featuring Steve Carlton, Nellie Fox, and Eddie Mathews all provide Hall of Famer cachet. You also get some very good players in the mix with Dick Allen, the Paul Blair/Davey Johnson Orioles Rookie Stars, Clete Boyer, Wilbur Wood, and Stu Miller appearing on the back. As I’m posting this card well after its acquisition, I can happily report that I have a perfect 77 out of 77 (100%) completion rate for the sixth series. Huzzah!
#443 Checklist 6th Series (back) photo checklist6b_zpsd6c344e5.jpg

#284 Nick Willhite

 photo willhite_zpsd20075ad.jpg
If you read my other blog, you’ll know that I got engaged this past Wednesday, so this is a celebratory Friday evening post. If you don’t read my other blog, why the heck not? Today we take a peek at Nick Willhite, whose first solo appearance on a Topps card is this one. In the 1964 set, he shared a two-player Rookie Stars card with fellow Dodger Dick Nen. Nick and Dick! Dick and Nick! (Yes, I really am this giddy.)

Fun Facts about Nick Willhite:

-Nick was born in Tulsa, OK, grew up in Denver, CO, and signed with the Dodgers as an 18-year-old in 1959.

-At Class A Greenville, he threw 230 innings in 1961, going 16-9 with a sparkling 1.80 ERA.

-Willhite debuted with the Dodgers in a big way, tossing a five-hit, six-strikeout shutout against the Cubs on June 16, 1963. It proved to be his only shutout in 29 career starts.

-As a hitter, it was either feast or famine for Nick, who batted .300 (3-for-10) as a rookie and .400 (4-for-10) in 1965. In the other two seasons in which he batted, the southpaw was a combined 0-for-23!

-The Senators purchased Willhite’s contract from the Dodgers in October of 1964, but sold him back to L.A. the following May after he allowed 11 runs (five earned) in five relief appearances.

-Although Nick saw regular-season action for Los Angeles in their World Series-winning seasons of 1963 and 1965 and their pennant-winning season of 1966, he never appeared in a postseason game.

-He found himself out of baseball at age 26 after racking up a 5.10 ERA in a 1967 season split between the Angels and Mets. In parts of five big league seasons, he had a 6-12 record and a 4.55 ERA.

-Willhite later went into coaching, instructing pitchers at Brigham Young University as well as stints in the Brewers and Yankees farm systems.

-By the late 1980s, Nick was thrice-divorced and living on the streets of Salt Lake City. He reached out to former teammate Stan Williams, and was able to obtain treatment for drug and alcohol addictions through the Baseball Assistance Team.

-Willhite became an addictions counselor after his own successful rehabilitation. In December of 2008, he died of cancer at age 67 in his son’s home in Alpine, Utah.

 photo willhiteb_zps274e6459.jpg

#252 Pete Richert

#252 Pete Richert photo richert_zpsbb15e1eb.jpg
Topps does its capless thing again with Pete Richert, since he’d just been traded from the Dodgers in the big seven-player trade that also sent Frank Howard and Ken McMullen to DC. Los Angeles only got two players (and $100,000 cash, which ain’t nothing), but one of those men was Claude Osteen, so they did alright. Anyhow, I’d appreciate a little less zoom on Pete. There’s something about his spiky crew cut and big, toothy grin that’s a bit unsettling to me. But maybe I’m off-base here.

Fun facts about Pete Richert:

-A native of Floral Park, NY, Pete signed with the Dodgers as a teenager in 1958.

-He debuted with the Dodgers on April 12, 1962, earning the win with 3.1 innings of scoreless relief after starter Stan Williams was chased in the second inning. In Richert’s first full inning, he set a big league record with four strikeouts, victimizing Frank Robinson, Gordy Coleman, Wally Post, and Johnny Edwards. Coleman reached base when catcher Johnny Roseboro committed a passed ball on strike three, enabling the rare feat. Overall, the rookie struck out seven and allowed no hits or walks.

-Jockeying for mound time on a staff that boasted Koufax, Drysdale, and Johnny Podres, Pete totaled 194 innings in three seasons in L.A. He posted a middling 4.18 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, then was dealt to the Senators.

-In his two full seasons in Washington, Richert made the only two All-Star teams of his career. In 1965, he led the Senators with a 15-12 record and a 2.60 ERA (fifth-lowest in the American League), and struck out 161 batters in 194 innings. In a career-high 245 innings the following year, he was again the club’s best starter with a 14-14 mark and a 3.37 ERA.

-On April 24, 1966, the southpaw struck out seven straight Detroit batters and whiffed 12 overall in six innings. He also took the loss, as Bill Monbouquette tossed a shutout for the Tigers.

-The injury-plagued Orioles acquired Pete in May of 1967, and he put up a 2.99 ERA in 26 games (19 starts) for his new club. Those would be the last 19 starts of his career.

-Richert thrived with the Orioles after switching to relief full-time. In 1969, he he seven wins, a dozen saves, and a 2.20 ERA for the American League champs. He struck out 54 batters in 57.1 innings, and allowed only 56 baserunners. The next season, he was just as good if not better: 7-2, 13 saves, a 1.98 ERA, 66 strikeouts in 54.2 innings, and a 1.10 WHIP.

-Pete was unscored upon in the postseason, appearing in the 1969 ALCS and the 1969, 1970, and 1971 World Series. For whatever reason, he was also barely used, facing just nine batters total and accumulating two innings of work. But he did earn a save in the opener of the 1970 Series, replacing Jim Palmer with two outs in the ninth and the tying run on first base in the form of Pete Rose. The reliever induced a liner to shortstop off the bat of Bobby Tolan, and the stage was set for Baltimore’s five-game triumph over the Reds.

-Richert finished his career with a three-year stint in the National League, returning to the Dodgers for 1972-1973 and splitting the 1974 campaign between the Cardinals and Phillies. In 13 major league seasons, he was 80-73 with 51 saves and a 3.19 ERA.

-He spent more than a decade as a minor league pitching coach in the Oakland and San Francisco organizations.

#252 Pete Richert (back) photo richertb_zps7c01cb22.jpg

#246 Tom Butters

#246 Tom Butters photo butters_zps75b39ac7.jpg
When I hear the name “Butters”, I think of the earnestly naive character from South Park. Given the grimace on Tom Butters’ face as he completes his delivery in this photo, I could easily hear him muttering, “Aww hamburgers”.

Fun facts about Tom Butters:

-Tom was born in Delaware, OH, and grew up following Lou Boudreau’s successful Indians teams. He signed with the Pirates as a 17-year-old in 1957, and attended Ohio Wesleyan University for one semester each year, ultimately graduating with a degree in religion and physical education.

-He didn’t reach the majors until 1962, in large part due to control issues; he walked at least 5.3 batters per nine innings in each of his first four years in pro ball.

-Butters made his big league debut on September 8, 1962 with two innings of scoreless relief against the Dodgers. He struck out three batters: opposing pitcher Pete Richert, Ron Fairly, and soon-to-be batting champ Tommy Davis. In four relief appearances that month, the rookie allowed a single run in six innings.

-He spent much of the 1964 season as a low-ranking member of the Pirate bullpen, starting four games and relieving in 24 others. He split the decisions in those four starts, going 2-2 with a solid 2.38 ERA for the year. He still wasn’t very precise, striking out 58 and walking 37 in just 64.1 innings.

-While driving through Fayetteville, NC en route to spring training in 1965, Butters’ car was struck from the rear by another driver. The collision caused Tom to suffer from severe whiplash, and he dealt with lingering headaches and nausea. He tried to pitch through his maladies, but gave up seven earned runs in nine innings out of the Pittsburgh ‘pen and was released in midseason.

-Tom saw the writing on the wall and retired, finishing with a 2-3 record and a 3.10 ERA in parts of four major league seasons.

-He briefly took an admissions job at his alma mater before hiring on at Duke University in the development office. When the head baseball coach died suddenly, Butters was selected for that post at the suggestion of his ex-teammate (and Duke alumnus) Dick Groat. The Blue Devils had an overall record of 43-53-1 in three seasons under the former big leaguer, but were hamstrung by a lack of athletic scholarships.

-Tom’s superlative fundraising efforts earned him several promotions, leading to his appointment as athletic director in 1977. His most notable achievement in that role was the 1980 hiring of Mike Krzyzewski as men’s basketball coach; 33 years and four national championships later, “Coach K” is still at the school.

-Butters retired from Duke in 1998, and was elected into the university’s Sports Hall of Fame a year later. The Schwartz-Butters Athletic Center, the capstone project of Tom’s tenure, was dedicated in 2000.

-He still spends most of his time in Durham, NC with Lynn, his wife of more than 50 years. The couple have two children.

(The source for much of this blog post is Rory Costello’s SABR biography of Tom Butters, which is rich in detail even though it tends to verge on Duke University boosterism.)

#246 Tom Butters (back) photo buttersb_zpsd212edbb.jpg

#196 Ron Fairly

#196 Ron Fairly photo fairly_zpsdbaa703f.jpg
Is Ron Fairly the only player in the 1965 Topps set whose surname is an adverb? I can’t think of any others, but my brain is a bit fried from juggling Easter week celebrations with moving my girlfriend into my house. The ball is in your court, dear readers.

Fun facts about Ron Fairly:

-A native of Macon, GA, Ron moved to southern California at a young age and starred at USC before signing with the Dodgers for a $75,000 bonus in 1958.

-His father Carl played minor league ball for 11 seasons, roaming the infield. His best year came at Class B Macon in 1938, the year Ron was born; he batted .302 for the Peaches.

-Though still shy of his 20th birthday, Fairly was promoted to the majors after slugging .528 in only 69 minor-league games. In a 15-game trial with L.A., the youngster hit .283/.350/.415 with a pair of homers.

-A crowded Dodgers outfield and a stint in the Army Reserves slowed Ron’s meteoric rise, but he batted .322/.434/.522 as a part-time player in 1961 and found a new home at first base. The following year, he led the club with a .379 on-base percentage.

-Fairly played in four World Series with the Dodgers, winning championships in 1959, 1963, and 1965 and bowing to the Orioles in 1966. In 1965, he started all seven games against the Twins and batted .379 with a .690 slugging percentage. He hit safely in 11 of 29 at-bats, homered twice, and drove in six runs. Perhaps most impressively, he struck out only once.

-A late-20’s decline that Fairly attributes to a change in Dodger Stadium groundskeeping (post-Koufax, the team grew the infield grass longer, which slowed down hard ground balls) spurred Los Angeles to trade him to the Expos in June 1969. L. A. reacquired Maury Wills and Manny Mota in the deal.

-Though Ron wasn’t happy playing for an expansion team far from home, his performance did rebound in Montreal. His OPS+ was 115 or greater in each of his half-dozen seasons as an Expo, and he was an All-Star for the first time in 1973. That year he had a .298 average and career highs of 17 home runs and a .422 on-base percentage.

-After two seasons split between St. Louis and Oakland, Fairly became the only player ever to appear in All-Star Games as a member of both Canadian teams. He batted .279 and reached base at a .364 clip for the Blue Jays in their inaugural 1977 season, leading the team with 19 home runs.

-He retired after spending 1978 back in southern California with the Angels. In parts of 21 seasons, he hit .266/.360/.408 with a 117 OPS+, 215 home runs, and 1044 RBI.

-Ron spent nearly 30 years broadcasting games for the Angels, Giants, and Mariners before retiring in 2006.

#196 Ron Fairly (back) photo fairlyb_zps54ae5315.jpg

#195 Bob Veale

#195 Bob Veale photo 65veale_zps488ac23e.jpg
Man, I can’t believe that I skipped over this card the first time around! Bob Veale’s thick specs, even more so than his status as a premier strikeout artist, make his card one of the MVPs of the 1965 Topps set.

Fun facts about Bob Veale:

-Bob was born in Birmingham, AL and attended Benedictine College in Kansas before signing with the Pirates in 1958.

-Veale was 26 years old when he made the Pirates’ Opening Day roster for the first time in 1962. In his second career start (April 22), he earned a complete-game, 4-3 victory against the Mets for his first win.

-1964 was Bob’s first full season in the Pittsburgh rotation, and he led the team in practically every pitching category. He was 18-12 with a 2.74 ERA (128 ERA+) and 14 complete games. He also led the National League with 250 strikeouts (edging Bob Gibson on the season’s final day), 0.3 HR/9 innings (only 8 in 279.2 innings pitched), and 124 walks allowed. The high strikeout and walk totals and the low home run yield were trends throughout the 6’6″ southpaw’s career.

-Veale made the first of back-to-back All-Star teams in 1965, when he posted a 17-12 record and a 2.84 ERA. He also established a career high with 276 strikeouts, a total that was dwarfed by Sandy Koufax’s otherworldly tally of 382.

-He was a mainstay starter for the Pirates for the seven seasons spanning 1964-1970. During that time, Bob was 103-87 with a 3.01 ERA (115 ERA+).

-The Bucs moved Veale to the bullpen in 1971. The results were gruesome, as his 6-0 record masked a 6.99 ERA. He allowed 36 earned runs in 46.1 innings, and allowed three of the five batters he faced in that year’s World Series to reach base.

-He spent the last two seasons and change of his career as a reliever in Boston, retiring after the Red Sox released him in October 1974. In parts of 13 big league seasons, he was 120-95 with a 3.07 ERA.

-Bob is still the Pirates’ record-holder with 7.96 strikeouts per 9 innings during his tenure with the club. He is 38th on the all-time MLB list, though several pitchers ahead of him are still active and may drop as they decline.

-Veale spent about a decade after his playing career as a pitching instructor. Among other teams, he worked in the Braves organization.

-He was selected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and still lives in Birmingham.

#195 Bob Veale (back) photo vealeb_zps9a0a5c65.jpg

#181 Senators Rookie Stars: Don Loun and Joe McCabe

#181 Senators Rookie Stars: Don Loun and Joe McCabe photo wsrookies_zpsaf500dce.jpg
Ah, here it is. As we keep checking off “lasts” for The Great 1965 Topps Project, we finally reach the last multi-player card in the set. Of course, after recently writing up two consecutive four-player rookie cards, a mere two-player shot should be a piece of cake, right?

Fun facts about Don Loun:

-Don was born and raised in Frederick, MD, west of Baltimore. He signed with the Senators as an amateur free agent in 1961, when he was 20 years old.

-Despite spending his first two years in Class D ball with Pensacola, Loun was bumped up to Class A in 1963. Pitching for the Peninsula Senators, he went 11-10 with a 3.32 ERA.

-Don continued his sudden rise in 1964, beginning the season at AA York and finishing it with the Senators. After pitching to a 2.14 ERA in 25 games split between York and AAA Toronto, he got a September promotion to the big leagues.

-The young lefty made his debut on September 23, 1964, and it was a dandy. He five-hit the Red Sox for a 1-0 victory, walking none and striking out a pair. Fellow rookie Pete Charton was the hard-luck loser, undone by a second inning in which he gave up three singles and saw the lone run against him score on a double-play grounder. As of this writing, Loun is one of only 44 pitchers to toss a complete game shutout in their first career game.

-His first strikeout victim was future Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.

-Don’s second start was not nearly so auspicious. Facing the Red Sox again on October 3 – this time in Fenway Park – he was pulled for a pinch hitter after allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks in four innings. He was tagged with the loss as Bill Monbouquette scattered seven hits to top Washington 7-0.

-As fate would have it, those were the only two games of Don Loun’s major league career. He was left with a lifetime record of 1-1 and a 2.08 ERA.

-Loun did pitch in the minors through the 1969 season, finishing with a career mark of 52-62 and a 3.99 ERA.

Fun facts about Joe McCabe:

-A native of Indianapolis, IN, Joe attended Purdue University before signing with the original Senators franchise in 1960.

-In his first exposure to AAA, he hit .309 and slugged .509 in 59 games for the Vancouver Mounties in 1962.

-McCabe made it to the major leagues with the Twins (who had moved from Washington to Minnesota) in 1964 and spent the first few months of the season on their roster. He debuted on April 18, entering the game for Earl Battey in the fourth inning and hitting a sacrifice fly in his only plate appearance. He was removed for pinch hitter Jimmie Hall in the eighth inning.

-His first multi-hit game was on May 24 against Milt Pappas and the Orioles. That day, Joe went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a run scored, but the O’s outlasted the Twins 7-6.

-In his first taste of the majors, McCabe batted .158 (3-for-19) with two RBI in 14 games.

-Joe was traded to the new(er) Senators in October of 1964 for Ken Retzer, another catcher.

-Once again, he started the 1965 season in the big leagues. But once again, he only saw action in 14 games. On the plus side, the backstop did hit his one and only career home run on May 2. It was a solo shot off of Jack Kralick, and gave the Senators a 1-0 lead in a game they pulled out by a 3-2 final.

-McCabe’s second (and as it happened, final) big league batting line was .185/.281/.296 with a home run and five RBI.

-He had a cumulative batting average of .174 with a homer and seven RBI over two partial seasons.

#181 Senators Rookie Stars: Don Loun and Joe McCabe (back) photo wsrookiesb_zpsb17ca112.jpg

#175 Bob Aspromonte

#175 Bob Aspromonte photo aspromonte_zpsf03bb398.jpg
Hey look, it’s Aspro the Astro! Bob Aspromonte is just lucky that Charley Finley didn’t own the Houston team, or he probably would have asked him to replace that “p” with a “t”. In other news, this is officially the last Astros card I’ll be posting for the 1965 set. Thank goodness. If I had to look at one more bare-headed portrait with the drab gray border and logo-less pennant, I think I would’ve gone mad.

Fun facts about Bob Aspromonte:

-Bob was born in Brooklyn, and signed with the hometown Dodgers in 1956.

-His older brother Ken roamed the infield for the Senators, Indians, and four other clubs (1957-1963), batting .249 in 475 career games.

-Bob played one game for the Dodgers in September of 1956 at age 18, then made it back to stay in 1960. His first home run was hit off of Lew Burdette on May 5, 1960.

-He was tabbed as a starting third baseman by the Houston Colt .45s after they took him in the expansion draft. Leading off for the club in their inaugural game on April 10, 1962, he went 3-for-4 with a walk, a steal, and three runs scored in an 11-2 rout of the Cubs. He’s in the trivia books for the first base hit and the first run scored in franchise history.

-Bob had a reputation as a skilled defender at the hot corner. In 1962, he had a streak of 57 consecutive errorless games, a record at the time. He led National League third basemen in fielding percentage in 1964 (.973) and 1971 (.965).

-In 1964, Aspromonte batted .280 with career highs of 12 home runs and 69 RBI.

-On June 10, 1968, there was a national day of mourning following the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Aspromonte and teammate Rusty Staub refused to play in that day’s scheduled game, and were fined.

-Bob was traded to the Braves after the 1968 season, becoming the last of the original Colt .45s to leave the team. He spent two years in Atlanta and a season with the Mets before retiring in 1971. When he called it quits, he was the last of the Brooklyn Dodgers active in the major leagues.

-In parts of 13 seasons, he batted .252 with 60 home runs and 457 RBI.

-Aspromonte ran a Coors beer distributorship for many years, but is now retired. He still lives in Houston.

#175 Bob Aspromonte (back) photo aspromonteb_zps6b0d478a.jpg

#174 Joe Jay

#174 Joe Jay photo jay_zpsedf6ec46.jpg
I’m certain of three things in looking at this card: 1) With six letters total, Joe Jay has the shortest name of any player in the 1965 Topps Set; 2) there is no baseball in Joe’s right hand, nor in the glove (at least try to hide it!); and 3) if the batter scorches a line drive back to Joe’s glove hand, he’s still going to have a bruised hand. Get a glove that fits, man.

Fun facts about Joe Jay:

-A native of Middletown, CT, Joe signed with the Milwaukee Braves for a $40,000 bonus in 1953 after completing high school.

-Due to everyone’s favorite obsolete rule (Bonus Baby!), Jay immediately joined the Braves at age 17, making him the first veteran of Little League Baseball to play in the majors. He appeared in three games in 1953 and shut out the Reds in an abbreviated seven-inning game for his first win.

-He pitched in Milwaukee for parts of seven seasons, but never received more than 19 starts in a single year. His best work came in 1958, when he went 7-5 with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP to help the Braves capture their second straight pennant. However, a pulled elbow tendon and a broken ring finger limited the righthander to 96.2 innings. The latter injury sidelined him during the World Series.

-In December 1960, Joe was traded to the Reds along with Juan Pizzaro, with shortstop Roy McMillan coming to the Braves. He took immediately to his new team, topping the National League with a 21-10 record and four shutouts. He put up a 3.53 ERA in 247.1 innings for the first-place Cincinnati club and made his lone All-Star team. He even finished fifth in MVP voting, stealing the one first-place vote that did not go to teammate Franak Robinson.

-Jay delivered the Reds’ only win in the 1961 World Series, maneuvering around six walks in a 6-2 complete game effort in Game Two. He was not nearly so fortunate in Game Five, as the Yankees knocked him out of the box after two-thirds of an inning. He was charged with four runs, as New York rolled to a 13-5 Series-clinching victory.

-He was nearly as good in 1962, going 21-14 with a 3.76 ERA in a career-high 273 innings. His fine season made him the first Reds pitcher since Bucky Walters in 1939-1940 to post consecutive 20-win campaigns.

-Shoulder pain and poor run support contributed to a 7-18 record in 1963, though Joe’s ERA also jumped to 4.29.

-Jay persevered through aches and pains and occasional squabbles with management to pitch another two and a half seasons in Cincy, but was surprised by a trade back to the Braves in mid-1966. He fell from 6-2 with a 3.91 ERA pre-trade to 0-4 with a 7.89 ERA afterward, and was released in December.

-The Phillies signed Joe to a minor-league deal in 1967, but let him go after four games at Class A Clearwater. He retired with a career record of 99-91 and a 3.77 ERA in parts of 13 seasons.

-Jay was the rare major leaguer who made a clean break from the game. He had built up some considerable business interests during his career, including ownership of taxicab and limousine companies, a carpet cleaning business, two building maintenance firms, and most notably, J&B Drilling, which came to own close to 100 oil wells.

#174 Joe Jay (back) photo jayb_zps36da5d27.jpg

#163 John Briggs

#163 John Briggs photo briggs_zps98ea6875.jpg
One of the sad by-products of my own disorganization is that I can’t track down the source of this card. If you sent me John Briggs, don’t hesitate to let me know, and I will give credit where it is due.

Anyhow, this is a fairly unique photo for the 1965 Topps set, zooming in on Briggs as he seemingly plays catch with an unseen teammate. I’m skeptical as to the presence of an actuall ball in his glove, but I can’t say for sure that there’s not one in there. Call me a ball agnostic. On second thought…don’t. It might lead to some misunderstandings.

Fun facts about John Briggs:

-John was born in Paterson, NJ, and signed with the Phillies as an 18-year-old in 1962. His bonus was a mere $8,000.

-He spent only one season in the minors before getting called up, batting .297 and slugging an even .500 with 21 home runs for Class A Bakersfield in 1963.

-The first two home runs of his career were a leadoff shot (June 21, 1964 against Frank Lary of the Mets) and a walkoff job (May 10, 1965 against Bob Purkey of the Cardinals).

-Briggs spent seven seasons in Philly as a part-timer, seeing action at first base and all three outfield positions. His best overall effort with the Phillies was in 1966, when he batted .282/.380/.490 with 10 home runs in 297 plate appearances.

-John found increased playing time and power after an April 1971 trade to the Brewers. He hit 21 home runs in both the 1971 and 1972 seasons, and set a personal best with 30 doubles in 1974.

-On August 4, 1973, he went 6-for-6 with a pair of doubles in a 9-4 win over the Indians.

-The Twins acquired Briggs in June 1975, but released him the following spring. He played out 1976 in Japan with the Lotte Marines before hanging up his spikes.

-In 12 seasons in the majors, John hit .253 with a .355 on-base percentage and slugged .416. He totaled 139 home runs and 507 RBI.

-Back in New Jersey, Briggs joined the Passaic County Sherriff’s Department, retiring as a lieutenant in 2008. He also coached baseball and counseled children in Paterson, and there’s a field named for him in West Side Park.

-John still lives in Paterson with his wife Renvy and their two teenage sons, Jalen and Julian.

 photo c11ee261-afbf-4fd5-a1c3-e03213c68ab7_zps12e7a3f9.jpg

#573 Red Sox Rookie Stars: Jim Lonborg, Mike Ryan, Bill Schlesinger, and Jerry Moses

 photo cdf54795-af6b-4bf6-a080-0882874710d4_zps1d549510.jpg
Right. So I had a grand, heartfelt farewell address written for this, the last card to be posted to The Great 1965 Topps Project. Then I actually doubled back to update the Checklist page, and…there are 12 cards that I have in my possession that I’ve never scanned, written up, and posted to the blog. You’ll have me to kick around for at least another month. Whoops! Still, this IS the last pesky high-series rookie card, courtesy of Max. It features one big league mainstay, two role players, and a cup-of-coffee guy. We’ve done worse with Rookie Stars player selection. So here goes.

Fun facts about Jim Lonborg:

-Jim was born in Santa Maria, CA, and signed with the Red Sox in 1963 after earning a biology degree at Stanford University.

-His high school teammate and good friend Mel Queen went on to pitch for the Reds and Angels, and also married Lonborg’s sister.

-Jim jumped to the major leagues at age 23 in 1965 and took his lumps, putting up a 9-17 record and a 4.47 ERA.

-Lonborg came of age in Boston’s 1967 “Impossible Dream” season, going 22-9 with a 3.16 ERA to tie former teammate Earl Wilson for the American League lead in wins. He also led the loop with 246 strikeouts en route to his lone All-Star berth, a sixth-place finish in MVP voting, and a near-unanimous selection as AL Cy Young Award winner.

-He pitched to a 2.63 ERA in three starts in the 1967 World Series, shutting out the Cardinals in Game Two and outlasting Steve Carlton in Game Five before running out of gas in the decisive Game Seven.

-An offseason skiing accident in the winter of 1967-1968 caused severe ligament damage in Jim’s left knee. He tried to rush back from surgery and wound up damaging his rotator cuff while compensating for the knee; he would never be as effective as he had been before these injuries.

-He was sent to Milwaukee in a 10-player deal after the 1971 season. After a solid year with the Brewers (14-12, 2.83 ERA, 107 ERA+), the righty was traded to the Phillies, this time in a seven-man swap. He would remain with Philly throughout the decade, winning 75 games in six-plus seasons and appearing in the NLCS in both 1976 and 1977.

-In parts of 15 seasons, “Lonnie” was 157-137 with a 3.86 ERA. He was selected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2002.

-After hanging up his spikes, Jim matriculated from Tufts University Dental School. He has had his own dental practice in Hanover, MA since the mid-1980s.

According to comedy writer and former baseball announcer Ken Levine, the photo of “Sam Malone” that hung above the bar on the popular sitcom “Cheers” was actually a photo of Lonborg. The character (played by Ted Danson) was a former Red Sox pitcher.

Fun facts about Mike Ryan:

-Haverhill, MA native Mike Ryan grew up as a Red Sox fan, then signed with the team as a teenager in 1960.

-After four years as a light-hitting, defensively-adept catcher in the Boston farm system, Mike got a one-game cup of coffee on October 3, 1964, going 1-for-3 with a two-run single and an intentional walk in a 7-0 Sox victory.

-Though Ryan hit just .159 in 33 games in 1965, he had two home runs at Tiger Stadium on May 2, 1965. It was only his second big league game; there would be 634 more, but never again did he homer twice in a game.

-He was traded to the Phillies prior to the 1968 season. As the team’s primary catcher in 1969, Mike hit a career-best 12 home runs and drove in 44, but still had just a .204 batting average.

-Every dog has his day: Mike hit home runs off of Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Tom Seaver in 1969.

-Tim McCarver’s arrival in Philadelphia pushed Ryan back to the bench, where he remained through the 1973 season. He was dealt to Pittsburgh in 1974, appeared in only 15 games, and retired at age 32.

-In parts of 11 seasons, Mike batted .193 with 28 home runs and 161 RBI. He also had a .991 fielding percentage and threw out 44% of would-be base stealers.

-Of all position players since 1930, only shortstop Ray Oyler (.175) had a lower batting average with at least 1,000 career at-bats than Ryan.

-He was a minor-league manager in the Pirates (1975-1976) and Phillies (1977-1978) organizations before becoming the Phils’ major league bullpen coach in 1980, a position he held until retiring from the game in 1995.

-Mike lives with Suzanne, his wife of more than 40 years, in Wolfeboro, NH.

Fun facts about Bill Schlesinger:

-Bill was born in Cincinnati, OH, the son of a hardware store owner. During his childhood, several Reds players worked for his father in the offseason, including Gus Bell, Johnny Temple, Ted Kluszewski, and Roy McMillan.

-He actually never played organized baseball growing up, as he failed to make the cut both in high school and in college at the University of Cincinnati. However, his father’s connections proved valuable, as Red Sox scout Denny Galehouse took a flyer on Schlesinger for a $1,000 signing bonus in 1963.

-Incredibly, Bill not only made the cut with Boston’s New York/Penn League team in Wellsville, NY, but was named a league All-Star. His resume included a .341 average, a .624 slugging percentage, 31 doubles, and league-leading totals of 129 runs scored and 37 home runs. He even stole 18 bases.

-The Red Sox invited him to major league camp in 1965, and he went north with the team. He suspects that he was chosen over Jerry Moses because the latter was a more highly-regarded prospect and the team did not want to hinder his development.

-Indeed, the BoSox did not use Schlesinger in a game until May 4, 1965. He pinch hit for pitcher Dave Morehead leading off the sixth inning, and tapped a comebacker to Angels hurler Marcelino Lopez, who threw him out at first base. In his SABR biography, the player offers an amusing retelling of this experience, complete with a wipeout on the dugout steps and a weighted donut that would not come off of his bat.

-He had no way of knowing at the time, but that one inauspicious at-bat was to be Bill’s lone major league experience. He was placed on waivers three days later and claimed by the Athletics.

-The outfielder wound up back in Boston’s farm system twice more in his career. He also played in the Cubs and Phillies organizations.

-In August of 1969, Bill was to be promoted to the major leagues by the Phillies, but was hit in the face by a Larry Sherry pitch while still at AAA. He couldn’t see at all for a few days afterward, and ultimately lost 40% of his vision. He finally retired in the spring of 1971 after the Pirates sent him home from their camp.

-He returned home to Cincinnati and inherited Pleasant Ridge Hardware when his father passed away in 1972.

-Bill ended up playing slow-pitch softball for 25 years, and is in the Greater Cincinnati Softball Hall of Fame.

Fun facts about Jerry Moses:

-A native of Yazoo City, MS, Jerry turned down a football scholarship from Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama and signed with the Red Sox for a $50,000 bonus in 1964.

-His father Sammy was a baseball scout for 25 years, working for the Pirates, Angels, and Dodgers.

-Bonus baby rules did force Boston to put Moses on the big league roster for three months in 1965. He had just four pinch-hit appearances all year, but the second of those came on May 25, 1965. That day, the rookie hit a booming home run off of Minnesota’s Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who would win 21 games that season.

-After a six-game September cameo in 1968, Jerry shared catching duties in Beantown in 1969. In 53 games he hit .304 with 4 home runs and 17 RBI.

-His only career grand slam was the decisive blow in a 9-4 win over the Indians on April 20, 1969. The young catcher later doubled in an insurance run to give him a career-best 5 RBI on the day.

-He hit .278 with 14 doubles, 3 homers, and 23 RBI in the first half of the 1970 season to earn an All-Star nod. The catcher would finish with career highs of 92 games played, 18 doubles, 6 home runs, and 35 RBI while batting .263.

-The Red Sox traded Moses to the Angels in October of 1970, and he played for seven teams over the final six years of his career. The others were the Indians, Yankees, Tigers, Padres, and White Sox. In between, he was also the property of the Mets for a few months.

-Jerry retired after the White Sox released him in late 1975, looking for more economic security than a backup catcher could get in those days. In parts of nine seasons, he batted .251 with 25 home runs and 109 RBI.

-Though Moses hit only 25 career homers, he victimized two pitchers twice, and both were famous for giving up moon shots: Al Downing (who served up Hank Aaron’s 715th in 1974) and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven (who set a single-season record by surrendering 50 HR in 1986).

-These days, Jerry enjoys golfing, coaching, watching the New England Patriots, and spending time with his six grandchildren.

#573 Red Sox Rookie Stars: Jim Lonborg, Mike Ryan, Bill Schlesinger, and Gerry Moses (back) photo lonborgrcb_zps86e0cb86.jpg

#526 Athletics Rookie Stars: Rene Lachemann, Johnny Odom, Skip Lockwood, and Jim Hunter

#526 Athletics Rookie Stars: Rene Lachemann, Johnny Odom, Skip Lockwood, Jim Hunter
Yikes! The way I’ve been procrastinating on these last few posts, you’d think that I was drawing things out so that the blog wouldn’t have to end. As sentimental as I am, I do want to wrap things up here for closure’s sake. So here we are at the penultimate stop on this collecting journey, and this one comes from Max. You probably know Johnny Odom and Bill Hunter as “Blue Moon” and “Catfish”, respectively. This is one of the more valuable cards in the set, which is undoubtedly due to the runaway popularity of Rene Lachemann.

Fun facts about Rene Lachemann:

-A native of Los Angeles, Rene played collegiately at the University of Southern California (that’s USC to you) before signing with the Athletics in 1964.

-He was only 20 when he debuted with Kansas City in 1965. His first career hit was a pinch-hit home run against Chicago’s Gary Peters on May 13.

-As the primary backup to Billy Bryan, Lachemann hit .227 (the overall team average was just .240) with 9 home runs and 29 RBI in 235 plate appearances.

-On September 8, 1965, he replaced Bert Campaneris behind the plate in the tenth inning of a game against the Angels. That was, of course, the game in which Campy played all nine positions as a stunt. Rene singled twice in a losing cause.

-Rene spent most of 1966 at AA Mobile and had a double in five big league plate appearances that season.

-His only other taste of the big leagues came in 1968, when he batted .150 in a 19-game stint in Oakland.

-In parts of three major league seasons, Rene had a .210 average, 9 home runs, and 33 RBI.

-Continued playing with the Athletics’ AAA club through 1972, finishing with a minor league stat line of .250/.316/.415 and 104 home runs in 8 seasons.

-Though he was just 28 at the time, Lachemann went straight into managing when his playing career was through. From 1973 through 1980, he skippered in the Oakland and Seattle organizations, then took over as Mariners manager in midseason 1981 following Maury Wills’ termination. He had a 140-180 record when the club fired him in 1983. Next came a single, 94-loss campaign helming the Brewers. Rene spent the subsequent decade coaching for Boston and Oakland before being tabbed as the first manager of the Florida Marlins in 1993. It was more of the same there, as he was relieved of his duties in mid-1996 with a 221-285 overall mark. In the ensuing years, he’s coached for the Cardinals, Cubs, Mariners, Athletics, and Rockies.

-His older brother Marcel pitched for the Athletics from 1969-1971, compiling a 3.44 ERA in 102 innings of relief. He has been a pitching coach for several big league teams, and worked on Rene’s Marlins staff in 1993 and 1994. Marcel also got a brief tenure as Angels manager, 1994-1996. A third brother, Bill, was a catcher in the Dodgers’ farm system in the late 1950s and also had a lengthy career as a coach and minor league skipper.

Fun facts about Johnny Odom:

-Johnny was born in Macon, GA and signed with Kansas City out of high school in 1964.

-The talent-poor A’s gave the young pitcher five starts at the end of the 1964 season. In his second-ever appearance, he scattered six walks and two hits in blanking the Orioles 8-0. However, the teenager was knocked out of the box in his other four starts and finished with a 10.06 ERA.

-Odom stuck in the majors for good in 1966, when he went 5-5 with a 2.49 ERA in 14 starts despite walking 53 men and striking out just 47.

-He was an All-Star in both 1968 (16-10, 2.45 ERA, 113 ERA+) and 1969 (15-6, 2.92 ERA, 117 ERA+).

-Johnny was more fleet of foot than most pitchers, and was used as a pinch runner 105 times. He was only 6-for-11 stealing, though, and he made the final out of Game 5 of the 1972 World Series on a reckless dash home from second base. Joe Morgan gunned him out, but the A’s won the Series in seven.

-That 1972 season was also Odom’s last as an effective pitcher. He went 15-6 with a 2.50 ERA (115 ERA+) for the World Champs and allowed only three runs (two earned) in 25.1 postseason innings.

-From 1973 through the end of his career in 1976, Johnny posted a sorry 10-28 record with a 5.04 ERA for the Athletics, Indians, Braves, and White Sox. He was finished at age 31.

-His last big-league win was July 28, 1976, a 2-1 White Sox victory over the A’s. Odom held his former team hitless for five innings, but walked nine and allowed an unearned run on a Jim Essian throwing error. Francisco Barrios cleaned up the mess with four innings of no-hit relief. How many guys can say that their final ‘W’ in the majors was a no-hitter?

-In a career that spanned 13 seasons, Johnny had a record of 84-85 with a 3.70 ERA.

-Odom was arrested in 1985 for selling cocaine. On December 11, while facing a trial on the drug charges, he had a six-hour standoff with police while holding his then-wife Gayle captive with a shotgun. Ultimately, he spent six weeks in rehab for alcohol addiction and served a 55-day prison sentence. By all accounts, he turned his life around; he later remarried and owned a house-painting service for some time. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and is now retired.

Fun facts about Skip Lockwood:

-Skip (born Claude Edward Lockwood) was born in Roslindale, MA, and lettered in basketball, track, and baseball in high school. He batted .416 and won 22 games as a pitcher in his senior year, convincing the Athletics to meet his demand of a $135,000 signing bonus.

-Due to bonus baby rules, the 18-year-old made Kansas City’s big league roster in 1965. The would-be third baseman collected just 41 plate appearances in 42 games, batting a mere .121 with no extra-base hits.

-Lockwood continued to struggle as a hitter and lost some time to service in the Army Reserve. In late 1967, the Athletics converted him to pitching in hopes that they could slip him through the Rule V draft and then continue developing him as an infielder. But the Astros claimed him and let him pitch, and he stuck with it even after being returned to the A’s.

-The Seattle Pilots nabbed Skip in the expansion draft and he pitched in six major league games in 1969, sporting a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings.

-He spent parts of the next four seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers (the relocated and rebranded Pilots). In 1971, he had his best year as a starter, going 10-15 with a 3.33 ERA for a 92-loss Brewers club.

-On May 30, 1972, Lockwood one-hit the Yankees in a 3-1 win. He also walked six batters, but a sixth-inning single by Rusty Torres was the only safety that New York managed.

-After one season with the Angels, Skip came to the Mets in 1975 and had some success as a reliever. 1976 saw him go 10-7 with a 2.67 ERA and a team-high 19 saves. He also struck out 108 men in 94.1 innings. It was the first of four straight seasons that he led the Mets in saves.

-Lockwood finished his career with the Red Sox in 1980, as shoulder problems hastened his exit from the game. In parts of 12 seasons as a big league pitcher, he was 57-97 with a 3.55 ERA and 68 saves.

-Though he began his baseball career straight out of high school, Skip continued his education throughout the years. He has a B.S. in speech from Emerson College, a master’s degree in business and industrial communication from Fairfield University, and a second master’s in finance and economics from MIT. He also did some Ph.D. coursework in sports psychology, but did not complete the degree.

-Lockwood and his wife Kathy have five children. He is currently working as a motivational speaker, and according to his website, he is working on a book about his baseball career.

Fun Facts about Jim (Catfish) Hunter:

-Jim was born in Hertford, NC. After compiling a 26-2 record at Perquimans High School, he signed with the A’s in 1964 for a $75,000 bonus.

-His nickname was bestowed upon him by the marketing-conscious Athletics’ owner, Charles O. Finley. “Charlie O” concocted a story about the pitcher catching a large catfish as a boy, and the moniker stuck.

-In 1965, he made 20 starts and a dozen relief appearances as a 19-year-old for Kansas City and held his own, going 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA.

-On May 8, 1968, he threw the first perfect game by an American League pitcher in 46 years, blanking the Twins 4-0 while striking out 11. The notoriously stingy Charlie Finley gave his starter a $5,000 bonus on the spot.

-Catfish’s many accomplishments included 8 All-Star appearances and the 1974 American League Cy Young Award (25-12, 2.49 ERA, 23 complete games). He was also the last A.L. pitcher to win 20 or more games in 5 consecutive seasons, which he did from 1971 through 1975.

-Hunter was one of the better-hitting pitchers of his time, batting .226 with 6 homers and 51 RBI in 710 career plate appearances. In 1971, he rapped out a .350 average (36-for-103) with a home run and 12 RBI.

-He was a member of five World Series champions, and he particularly excelled in his three Fall Classics with the A’s. From 1972-1974, he had a 4-0 record in five Series starts, and even earned a save in the opener of the 1974 championship. In that span, his World Series ERA was 2.19.

-By 1974, Hunter became embroiled in a contract dispute with Finley, who had failed to make agreed-upon payments to a life insurance fund for the player. Arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled that Finley had indeed breached the contract, and declared Hunter a free agent. The decision effectively nullified baseball’s reserve clause, and after a spirited bidding war, the righthander signed with the Yankees for a then-record five years, $3.75 million.

-Though his Yankee career started phenomenally (23-14, 2.58 ERA, league-leading 30 CG and 1.01 WHIP in 1975), the effects of diabetes and years of heavy workload soon showed, and he retired when his contract expired at the end of the 1979 season. In a 15-year career, he was 224-166 with a 3.26 ERA and 181 complete games.

-Hunter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Athletics retired his #27 in 1991. His plaque in Cooperstown features no insignia on the cap, since he preferred not to choose either one of his teams over the other. He spent his retirement on his farm in Hertford, and was only 53 when he died in 1999 after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

#526 Athletics Rookie Stars: Rene Lachemann, Johnny Odom, Skip Lockwood, Jim Hunter (back)

#461 Braves Rookie Stars: Clay Carroll and Phil Niekro

#461 Braves Rookie Stars: Clay Carroll and Phil Niekro
Yikes. A three-month hiatus in the midst of posting the last few cards of the set is bad form on my part. But some of you have hung around for the five years it took to complete this project, and I appreciate your patience and persistence. As a reminder, this card and those that come after (whenever that might be!) were sent along by Max, who is a happenin’ sort of dude. Thanks again! It’s worth noting that this is Clay Carroll’s rookie card, but it’s Phil Niekro’s second Topps card. He appeared with Phil Roof on a 1964 Rookie Stars card, the first of many cards for ol’ Knucksie…

Fun facts about Clay Carroll:

-A native of Clanton, AL, Clay signed with the Braves in 1961, when he was 19 years old.

-He impressed as a rookie reliever in September 1964, allowing only 4 runs in 20.1 innings (1.77 ERA). He earned his first career save with four scoreless frames against the Cubs on September 20.

-1966 was Clay’s first full big league season, and he led the majors with 73 games pitched. He posted an 8-7 record with a 2.37 ERA and 11 saves.

-Following a June 1968 trade to the Reds, Carroll became the go-to guy in the Cincinnati bullpen. He would make 486 appearances for the team over the next 8 seasons, with a cumulative 2.73 ERA (129 ERA+), a 71-43 record, and 119 saves.

-He hit the only home run of his big league career on May 30, 1969. It was a tiebreaking shot off of Bob Gibson in the top of the tenth inning, sealing a 4-3 Reds win!
-Clay saved some of his best pitching for the postseason, starring for the Reds in 1970, 1972, 1973, and 1975. In a losing effort in the 1970 World Series, he allowed only five hits and two walks (one intentional) in nine scoreless innings of relief against the Orioles. The righty struck out 11 batters while appearing in all but one game of the series, and his 3.2 shutout innings in Game 4 earned him the lone Cincy win in the Fall Classic.

-“The Hawk” was an All-Star in both 1971 and 1972. In the latter season, he had a 2.25 ERA and set a National League record with 37 saves to earn Fireman of the Year honors. No Senior Circuit pitcher surpassed that total until Bruce Sutter blew past him with 45 saves in 1984.

-Carroll also pitched for the White Sox, Cardinals, and Pirates, and retired after the 1978 season. In parts of 15 seasons, he had a record of 96-73 with a 2.94 ERA and 143 saves.

-He was inducted into the Reds’ team Hall of Fame in 1980.

-Sadly, Carroll lost his wife Frances and their 11-year-old son Bret in 1985 when Frances’ son (Clay’s stepson) Frederick Nowitzke pulled out a gun and opened fire on the family. Frederick also shot Clay in the head, but the ex-pitcher survived. Nowitzke is currently serving a life sentence in Miami-Dade County, FL for first-degree murder.

Fun facts about Phil Niekro:

-He was born in Blaine, OH and signed with the Milwaukee Braves in 1958 after completing high school.

-Phil’s big league debut didn’t come until 1964, his age-25 season. This was due in part to military service.

-His younger brother Joe was another prominent knuckleball pitcher, and accumulated 221 wins for the Astros and a half-dozen other teams from 1967 through 1988. The Niekros pitched together for the Braves (1973-1974) and Yankees (1985), and the duo holds a major league record for wins by a pair of brothers with 538 in total.

-Among the elder Niekro’s accomplishments were three 20-win seasons, a league-leading 1.87 ERA as a swingman in 1967, four years of league-leading complete game totals, and a league-best 262 strikeouts in 1977. He also won five Gold Gloves and was a five-time All-Star.

-Phil no-hit the Padres on August 5, 1973 in a 9-0 laugher. He was able to pitch around three walks and two Atlanta errors.

-Despite spending the majority of his career with subpar Braves teams, Niekro reached the 300-win plateau by virtue of his longevity, remaining active past his 48th birthday! Late in his career he twirled for the Yankees, Indians, and Blue Jays before a final encore in Atlanta in 1987. In his astounding 24-year career, he won 318 games and lost 274, completed 245, and had a 3.35 ERA.

-Phil is responsible for several notable “lasts”, including: the last active member of the Milwaukee Braves, the last active player born in the 1930s, the last pitcher to both win and lose 20 games in the same season, the last pitcher to start 41 up through 44 games in a year, and the last pitcher to throw 305 up through 342 innings in a single season.

-He managed Atlanta’s AAA Richmond team in 1991, and later helmed the Colorado Silver Bullets, an all-female traveling baseball team. The Bullets played exhibitions against men’s semi-pro clubs.

-Phil was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997, and his #35 has been retired by the Braves.

-There are several memorable quotes about Niekro’s dancing knuckleball, but my favorite might come from former outfielder Rick Monday, who said, “It actually giggles at you as it goes by.”

#461 Braves Rookie Stars: Clay Carroll and Phil Niekro (back)

#350 Mickey Mantle

#350 Mickey Mantle
Well, what have we here? The Final Four in my nearly five-year set collecting journey all came from Max of the Starting Nine blog. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Max has been one of the most prolific contributors to my cause. In return for this beautiful card of the Mick (as well as three 1965 Rookie Stars cards to be revealed later), I sent off some assorted Mets, football Giants, and Saints ephemera and a couple of Rookie Trophy cards: Willie McCovey’s 1960 Topps #316 and Billy Williams’ 1962 Topps #288. There will be more goodies headed Max’s way as soon as I get my lollygagging rear in gear and finish organizing my collection. Thanks a bunch as always!

Fun facts about Mickey Mantle:

-Mantle was born in Spavinaw, OK. His father, Elvin Charles “Mutt” Mantle, was a lead miner whose own baseball dreams were impressed upon the strong young boy. He was named after Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane, the elder Mantle’s favorite player.

-After signing with the Yankees as a teenager in 1949, Mickey tore through the minor leagues, batting .357 and slugging .585 in parts of three seasons. His 1951 rookie season was uneven, featuring a midsummer demotion to AAA Kansas City, but he still finished with major league marks of .267/.349/.443 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI in 96 games. Not bad for a 19-year-old.

-The Mick started the first two games of the 1951 World Series as a rookie, but suffered a catastrophic knee injury as he pulled up to avoid colliding with Joe DiMaggio in the outfield and his cleats caught on a drainage cover. Despite a probable torn ACL in his right knee, Mantle took over as the starting center fielder in 1952, playing 142 regular-season games and batting .311/.394/.530 with 37 doubles (ultimately his career high), 23 homers, and 87 RBI. He led the American league with a .924 OPS, garnered the first of 16 All-Star selections, and OPS’d 1.061 in a World Series triumph over the Dodgers. He hit the first couple postseason home runs of his career, and later retired with a Series-record 18 round-trippers.

-In 1956, Mickey reached the stratusphere, capturing the American League Triple Crown (.353 AVG, 52 HR, 130 RBI) and the first of three AL Most Valuable Player awards. He achieved career highs in RBI, runs scored (132), slugging percentage (.705), and total bases (376). His adjusted OPS+ of 210 led the league, which should almost go without saying.

-Mantle successfully defended his MVP plaque in 1957, although his counting stats were held down by virtue of an increase in walks (from 112 to 146) and a decrease in overall plate appearances (from 653 to 623). The powerful and swift center fielder still topped the Yanks with 34 homers and 94 RBI and had high-water marks in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.512!), and OPS+ (221!). Ted Williams (.388/.526/.711, 38 HR, 87 RBI) had superior numbers, but his poor defensive reputation combined with a prickly personality and the also-ran status of his Red Sox conspired to leave the Splendid Splinter a close runner-up for the league’s top individual prize.

-Mickey himself had three second-place MVP finishes, the most famous coming in 1961. Mantle and teammate Roger Maris spent the year racing to catch Babe Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs, but the affable and favored Mick fell short and finished with a still-impressive stat line of .317/.448/.687, 54 HR, 128 RBI. The quiet, workmanlike Maris hit his 61st in the final game of the year, much to the consternation of many star-chasing fans of the game, and beat out his more famous teammate for MVP honors for a second straight year.

-Alcoholism and injuries caught up to Mantle in his thirties, as he missed an average of 41 games per season from 1962 through 1968. He was still a productive player when able to take the field, as evidenced by a .412 OBP and 165 OPS+ in those waning years.

-He retired after the 1968 season, his eighteenth in the major leagues. Overall, Mantle batted .298/.421/.557 with 536 home runs and 1,509 RBI.

-The Yankees retired Mantle’s #7 in 1969 and presented him with a plaque, which now hangs in Monument Park inside Yankee Stadium. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1974, and was inducted alongside good friend/teammate/partner in crime Whitey Ford.

-Mantle had an uneasy personal and professional life after baseball, which included a divorce from his long-suffering wife Merlyn, financial troubles stemming from several poor business deals, a rocky relationship with his four sons (all of whom developed substance abuse problems as well), and even a temporary ban from baseball. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn punished both Mantle and his contemporary Willie Mays for accepting community relations jobs with resort/casinos in 1983, but their bans were lifted two years later by Kuhn’s successor Peter Ueberroth. Mickey finally quit drinking in 1994 at the urging of his family, friends, and doctor, but the damage had already been done. While receiving a liver transplant in June 1995, he learned that he had inoperable liver cancer. It soon spread to the rest of his body, and he died at age 63 on August 13, 1995.

#350 Mickey Mantle (back)

#581 NL Rookie Stars: Tony Perez, Kevin Collins, and Dave Ricketts

#581 NL Rookie Stars: Tony Perez, Kevin Collins, and Dave Ricketts
As you can see from the status of my set counter on the left side of the blog, I have completed this set, in a bit under five years! That means I’ve got some catching up to do. As has been the case on a few occasions, Ed tipped me off to a dealer selling this Tony Perez (and company) rookie card for a song…or ten songs, if you will. It’s a very worthwhile investment, not just for Big Doggie’s mischievous grin, but for the impenetrable thickness of Dave Ricketts’ Coke-bottle glasses. Anyhow, let’s push forward with this trio of mismatched National League rookies. After that, it’s on with the Final Four of The Great 1965 Topps Project…huzzah!

Fun facts about Tony Perez:

-Tony was born in Ciego De Avila, Cuba. The Reds signed him prior to his 18th birthday in 1960.

-He debuted in late 1964, but did not become a full-time starter until 1967. That year Perez made the first of 7 All-Star Teams, hitting .290 with a team-best 26 home runs and 102 RBI as the regular third baseman. He hit the game-winning home run for the National League in the All-Star Game, a fifteenth-inning shot off of Catfish Hunter that helped wrap up the longest Midsummer Classic game ever.

-Tony had his best overall season in 1970, finishing third in MVP voting on the strength of career highs in nearly every offensive category: runs scored (107), homers (40), RBI (129), and AVG/OBP/SLG (.317/.401/.589). He slugged .750 in the Reds’ three-game NLCS sweep of the Pirates, but had only one single in a five-game World Series loss to the Orioles.

-Though Perez’s Cincinnati team of the 1970s was known as “The Big Red Machine”, they had to wait until 1975 to get their first taste of championship glory. The slugger was instrumental in their thrilling seven-game World Series win over Boston, delivering a pair of homers and four RBI in a Game Five victory and his sixth-inning two-round homer keyed the Reds’ Game Seven comeback from a three-run deficit.

-He had remarkable longevity, playing in the majors until age 44. He spent the last decade of his career with the Expos, Red Sox, and Phillies, and finally returned to the Reds in the mid-1980s as a part-timer.

-When Tony did hang up his spikes in 1986, he had totaled 379 home runs, 1,652 RBI, and 505 doubles in parts of 23 seasons. He batted .279/.341/.463.

-After a long wait, Perez was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000, joining former teammates such as Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench. That same year, the Reds retired his number 24 jersey.

-He was hired to manage the Reds in 1993, but was fired just 44 games into the season with the team struggling at 20-24. Eight years later, he was on the other side of the coin, replacing John Boles as the Marlins’ interim manager when that club got off to a 22-26 start. Under Perez, the Fish finished in fourth place in the N.L. East at 54-60 (76-86 overall).

-His son Eduardo played for several big league teams from 1993 through 2006, manning all four corner infield and outfield positions and batting .247 with 79 home runs. Another son, Victor, briefly played minor league ball in the Reds organization.

-Tony currently serves as special assistant to the general manager of the Marlins.

Fun facts about Kevin Collins:

-A native of Springfield, MA, Kevin signed with the Mets out of high school in 1964 for a $25,000 bonus.

-After shoulder surgery spoiled his selection to the Opening Day roster, New York called up the 18-year-old in September 1965, making him the fourth-youngest player in the league that season. His first hit was a single off of the Pirates’ Bob Friend on September 22.

-After cups of coffee in 1965 and 1967, Collins spent much of the 1968 season on the Mets’ bench, batting .201 with 13 RBI in 154 at-bats.

-He made his first big-league home run count, delivering a tie-breaking three-run shot in the ninth inning of a 4-1 win in Houston on August 6, 1968.

-In June 1969, Kevin was one of four players sent to the Expos in exchange for Donn Clendenon. On July 17, he hit the first pinch homer in Montreal team history, a three-run bomb off of future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning.

-Collins finished his major league career with two seasons of pinch-hit duty in Detroit, batting a career-high .268 in 1971 (albeit in 41 at-bats).

-In parts of 6 seasons, Kevin batted .209 with 6 homers and 34 RBI.

-He spent another three years playing in the minors for the Tigers and Indians before retiring from baseball at age 27.

-Collins worked for two decades for Mexican Industries, an automotive supply company started by former Tigers pitcher Hank Aguirre.

-Kevin is now retired and living in Sand Point, MI with his wife Linda. He has two children and three grandchildren, according to an article by Jon Springer.

Fun facts about Dave Ricketts:

-Dave was born in Pottstown, PA, which was also the birthplace of Bobby Shantz and Buck Weaver.
-After attending Duquesne University, where he also played basketball, he signed with the Cardinals in 1957.

-His older brother Dick played in the NBA for three seasons and pitched for the Cardinals in 1959, going 1-6 with a 5.82 ERA.

-Dave missed the 1958 and 1959 seasons due to military service.

-At age 27, Ricketts made his big league debut, going 2-for-4 against the Cubs on September 25, 1963.

-After another brief look at the majors in 1965, Dave finally settled in as Tim McCarver’s backup in 1967. Playing in a career-high 52 games, he batted .273 with his only career home run and 14 RBI.

-He appeared in back-to-back World Series for the Cards, going 0-for-3 in the team’s 1967 triumph over Boston and stroking a pinch single in his only at-bat in the 1968 loss to the Tigers.

-Ricketts was traded to the Pirates prior to the 1970 season, his final year in the big leagues.

-In parts of 6 seasons, he batted .249 with a home run and 20 RBI.

-Dave coached for the Pirates and Cardinals for two decades. He died of renal cancer on July 13, 2008, a day after his 73rd birthday.

#581 NL Rookie Stars: Tony Perez, Kevin Collins, and Dave Ricketts (back)

#2 NL Batting Leaders: Roberto Clemente, Rico Carty, and Hank Aaron

#2 NL Batting Leaders: Clemente, Carty, and Aaron
Whoops! I just realized that I never posted the most recent addition to my set, which is this fine card from Greg Mader. Greg sent it as part of a custom-made Opening Day pack, and indeed it was waiting for me at home on April 7 when I got back from watching my Orioles beat Greg’s Twins. Thanks again, Greg!

Here’s some breaking news for you: Roberto Clemente was pretty darned good. In 1964, he was in the midst of his fifth of 12 All-Star seasons, and he hit .339 to capture his second batting crown. In 1961, he topped the National League with a .351 average, and he defended his 1964 title by swatting .329 the next season. After plunging all the way to fifth in the league with a .317 mark in 1966, Clemente rebounded to top the loop with a career-high .357 average in 1967. In all, he was a top-ten finisher in 13 of his 18 seasons, including each of the last dozen years of his career.

Finishing a not-very-close second in ’64 was Rico Carty, who batted .330 in a great rookie season to lead the Braves. That’s no small feat, as Hank Aaron hit .328 and Joe Torre clocked in at .321 to give Milwaukee the 2-3-4 finishers in the N. L. batting race. In 1970, Rico blew everyone else out of the water in capturing his lone batting title, with his .366 average well ahead of Torre and Manny Sanguillen’s .325 marks. Meanwhile, Hammerin’ Hank was a two-time batting champ in his younger days, with first-place finishes in 1956 (.328) and 1959 (.355). Though he totaled 12 top-ten finishes in his illustrious career, there were no more batting titles on the horizon for Aaron.

A few items of interest from the extended leaderboard on the card back:

-Lou Brock sits in sixth place with a .315 average. In 52 games with the Cubs, he was at .251. After being traded to St. Louis, he caught fire and rang up a .348 figure in 103 games. Lou wasted no time in giving the Cubs a case of buyers’ remorse!

-I bet Joe Christopher cherished this card, which shows him and his even .300 average ranked just above Willie Mays’ .296.

-Get a load of the run of great players in the second column: Willie Stargell, Pete Rose, Bill Mazeroski, Vada Pinson, Nellie Fox, and Ernie Banks, all in a row.

-Poor Al Spangler had his name misspelled as “Spankler”. As if putting his .245 average on a batting leaders card wasn’t cruel enough.

#2 NL Batting Leaders: Clemente, Carty, and Aaron (back)

#550 Mel Stottlemyre

#550 Mel Stottlemyre
I’m a few weeks overdue with this post, but getting there is half the fun. Our old friend Bob, a.k.a. the Commish, sent me this lovely specimen of a high-numbered Mel Stottlemyre rookie card. If you’ve skimmed over my checklist lately, you know that this was the last single-player card that I needed…besides that Mantle guy. There’s no turning back now!

Fun facts about Mel Stottlemyre:

-Mel was born in Hazleton, MO but attended high school and junior college in Washington state before signing with the Yankees in 1961.

-He led the International League with a 1.42 ERA for Richmond and was 13-3 when New York called him up to the majors in August 1964. The rookie helped the Yanks capture the American League pennant with a 9-3 record and a 2.06 ERA in 13 games down the stretch, solidifying his place in the bigs for good.

-On September 26, 1964, Stottlemyre tormented the Senators by tossing a 2-hitter and going 5-for-5 at the plate with a double and a pair of RBI.

-Mel started three games in the 1964 World Series, earning a complete game victory in Game Two, permitting just two runs (one earned) in a seven-inning no-decision in Game Five, and unfortunately taking the loss on two days’ rest in the deciding Game Seven. It would be his only postseason exposure.

-In his sophomore season, he made the first of five All-Star teams, posted a 20-9 record with a 2.63 ERA, and led the league with 18 complete games.

-Despite the Yankees’ slide into mediocrity in the late 1960s, Mel had back-to-back 20-win seasons in 1968 (21-12, 2.45 ERA) and 1969 (20-14, 2.82 ERA, league-leading 24 complete games).

-A torn rotator cuff in 1974 ended his career at age 32. In an 11-year career spent entirely in the Bronx, he was 164-139 with a 2.97 ERA and 152 complete games. He is seventh in team history in career wins.

-Stottlemyre spent three decades as a pitching coach for the Mariners, Mets, Astros, and Yankees. He oversaw the Bombers’ staff while they were busy winning five World Series at the end of the 20th century.

-His sons Mel, Jr. (Royals, 1990) and Todd (Blue Jays, A’s, Cardinals, Rangers, and Diamondbacks, 1988-2002) were also big league pitchers.

-Mel was diagnosed with multiple myeloma a few years back, but the disease is now in remission. He lives in Issaquah, WA.

#550 Mel Stottlemyre (back)

#510 Ernie Banks

#510 Ernie Banks
Back again so soon. Ed’s dragging me to the finish line on this project, in this case spotting a pretty well-conditioned copy of this high-numbered Ernie Banks card at a hobby show for $20. It’s the most I’ve paid yet, but I’d say it’s worth the cost. Now the needs list is down to the Magnificent Seven!

Fun facts about Ernie Banks:

-Ernie was born in Dallas, TX and was signed by the Negro Leagues’ Kansas City Monarchs in 1950. He had two stints with the club sandwiched around a tour in the Army, and signed with the Cubs in September 1953.

-The young shortstop jumped right to the major leagues, starting for Chicago in a September 17, 1953 loss to the Phillies. As the first black player in team history, he went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, and batted .314 with a pair of homers in 10 games.

-Banks was runner-up to Wally Moon in 1954’s N.L. Rookie of the Year voting. He played all 154 games for the Cubs, batting .275 with 19 home runs and 79 RBI. Only Hank Sauer (103 RBI) drove in more runs for the club.

-He broke out in 1955 with the first of 11 All-Star seasons, a third-place MVP finish, and a batting line of .295/.345/.596 with 44 homers and 117 RBI.

-Ernie had his greatest seasons back-to-back, winning the National League MVP honors in 1958 and 1959. In the former year, he batted a career-high .313 and led the Senior Circuit with 47 home runs (a record for shortstops at the time), 129 RBI, and a .614 slugging percentage. 1959 brought a .304/.374/.596 slash line, 45 homers, and a league-best 143 RBI.

-He won his one and only Gold Glove in 1960. The following season, the Cubs began transitioning him to first base, the position he played almost exclusively for the next decade.

-Banks played his entire 19-year career at Wrigley Field, where he was known as “Mr. Cub” and beloved for his production, leadership, and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, this also meant that he never got the opportunity to play in the postseason.

-He hit three home runs in one game four times in his career: August 4, 1955 (part of a 7-RBI outburst); September 14, 1957 (nightcap of a doubleheader – let’s play two!); May 29, 1962 (4-for-5 with a double); and June 9, 1963 (two off of Sandy Koufax!).

-He retired in 1971 with a .274 average and an even .500 slugging percentage, as well as 512 home runs and 1,636 RBI. His total of 277 home runs as a shortstop was a record that stood for over two decades before being surpassed by Cal Ripken, Jr.

-Ernie was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1977, collecting 321 votes out of a possible 383 (83.8%). The 62 voters who didn’t choose him should be given severe noogies. He’s maintained a close relationship with the Cubs throughout the years, even spending a few years coaching at the end of his playing career. His #14 was retired in 1982, making him the first Cubbie to receive that honor, and in 2008 a statue in his likeness was dedicated outside of Wrigley Field.

#510 Ernie Banks (back)

#134 World Series Game Three: Mantle’s Clutch HR

#134 World Series Game 3: Mantle's Clutch HR
That’s 590 down and 8 to go! I might not get my hands on the Mick’s regular base card any time soon, but a gen-u-ine World Series action photo beats some humpty-dumpty posed shot any day, if you ask me. Here’s another card that I’ve bought off of Ed for $10.

To set the stage: it’s Saturday, October 10, 1964. 67,101 fans have packed into Yankee Stadium to see if the Yankees can take a 2-1 lead over the Cardinals in the World Series. 18-game winner Jim Bouton starts for the Yanks, opposed by veteran and fellow 18-game winner Curt Simmons of St. Louis. Simmons, making his first postseason start in his 17th big league season, runs into trouble in the second inning. Elston Howard singles, Joe Pepitone walks, and Clete Boyer plates the game’s first run with a double. New York strands two runners in scoring position as Bouton flies out, and Simmons bears down and shuts them out for the next six innings.

Bouton is also on his game, allowing only six Cardinal hits in nine innings. He gives up a single unearned run in the fifth inning to tie the game, though. Tim McCarver leads off the frame with a single but moves up to second base as Mickey Mantle misplays it in right field. Dal Maxvill advances the runner to third with a groundout, and Simmons evens things up with a two-out single. This sets the stage for a tense ninth inning.

Still trying for the complete game, Bouton is betrayed by his defense once more in the top of the ninth. McCarver leads off again and reaches first base as shortstop Phil Linz boots a ground ball. Mike Shannon, who hit into a fielder’s choice to leave the bases loaded in the sixth, bunts McCarver to second. Pinch hitter Carl Warwick walks, and Bob Skinner bats for Simmons and moves the lead runner to third with a flyout to deep center field. Curt Flood lines out, leaving St. Louis hoping for extra innings. But it’s not to be. Reliever Barney Schultz surrenders the game-winning home run to Mantle, the first batter in the home half of the ninth. It is the 16th of an eventual 18 home runs hit by Mickey in World Series play, and the last of those to be hit in New York. It also proves to be the last home win for the Yanks in the Fall Classic until the first game of the 1977 Series.

#134 World Series Game 3: Mantle's Clutch HR (back)

#579 Dick Smith

#579 Dick Smith
Another card that I bought off of Ed for low, low prices. Here’s an uncomfortable question: if a locksmith is a lock maker and a blacksmith makes tools and other items from iron and steel, what is a Dick Smith? Forget I asked.

Fun facts about Dick Smith:

-Dick was born in Lebanon, OR and signed with the Dodgers out of high school in 1957.

-He spent six years in the minors with the Dodgers, establishing himself as a .250-ish hitter with some pop, before the Mets purchased his contract in October 1962.

-Made his big league debut as a pinch hitter on July 20, 1963, fouling out to first base against Dallas Green of the Phillies.

-Appeared in 20 games as a rookie for New York, batting .238 with a triple and 3 RBI.

-Dick spent the first half of the 1964 season with the Mets, carrying just a .223 average with no home runs and 3 RBI in 97 trips to the plate.

-He had a memorable game vs. the Cubs on May 26, 1964, batting leadoff and igniting the Met offense in a 19-1 rout: 5-for-6 with a double, a triple, a stolen base, three runs scored and two driven in.

-The Dodgers reacquired Smith in October 1964 for pitcher Larry Miller. He played 10 games for L.A. in 1965, going hitless in 6 at-bats. It was his last stint in the majors, but he kept playing in the minors through the 1968 season.

-In parts of 3 big league seasons, Dick batted .218 with no home runs and 7 RBI. He finished his 12-year minor league career with a .265 average and 120 homers.

#579 Dick Smith (back)

#415 Curt Flood

#415 Curt Flood
Here’s the second of the troika of cards I bought with Ed’s assistance at the December Philly Card Show. I’m glad to finally have a vintage card of Curt Flood, whose struggles against Major League Baseball and the reserve clause helped bring a premature end to his career. His story is one of the most fascinating in all of baseball in the 20th century.

Fun facts about Curt Flood:

-Curt was born in Houston, TX, but attended high school in Oakland, CA before signing with Cincinnati in 1956.

-The teenaged outfielder was the Carolina League MVP for the High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms in 1956. He batted .340, slugged .567, and totaled 29 home runs in his first season as a pro.

-Flood got September glimpses of the big leagues in 1956 and 1957. He had only four plate appearances total, but hit his first home run off of the Cubs’ Moe Drabowsky on September 25, 1957.

-He became a regular starter for the Cardinals after a December 1957 trade, but didn’t settle in at the plate until 1961, when his .322 average trailed only third baseman Ken Boyer (.329) for the team lead.

-The 1963 season saw Curt earn the first of seven consecutive Gold Glove awards for his sterling play in center field. He once went 223 straight games without an error, which included a mishap-free 1966 season.

-Flood was an All-Star for the first time in 1964, when he notched a .311 average and led the National League with 211 hits. He would return to the Midsummer Classic in 1966 and 1968.

-He played in all 21 World Series games for St. Louis in 1964, 1967, and 1968, struggling at the plate (.221/.287/.267 in 94 plate appearances) but nonetheless contributing to a pair of World Championship seasons and a close call in ’68.

-Curt was nearly 32 when the Cardinals informed him that he’d been traded to the sad-sack Phillies after the conclusion of the 1969 campaign. He objected to the reserve clause, which owners had been using to bind a player to their team in perpetuity, or until the owners saw fit to release or trade the player. Flood insisted that he should have some power to decide where to play, and refused to go to Philadelphia. With the support of new players’ union head Marvin Miller, the outfielder eventually took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, before losing in a 5-3 decision with one abstention. However, he paved the way for player free agency, which became a reality in 1976.

-After sitting out the entire 1970 season, he agreed to be traded to the Washington Senators. But some combination of age, rust, and the transition to the American League took a toll on Flood’s performance. He retired after going 7-for-35 with no extra base hits for the Senators in 1971. He left behind a career average of .293 (especially impressive considering his career spanned the “second dead-ball era”) with 85 home runs and 636 RBI.

-In his life outside baseball, Curt was dedicated to painting, owning small businesses, and international traveling. He worked for the Athletics as a broadcaster in 1978, and served as the commissioner of the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association in the late 1980s. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1995, and died in 1997 at age 59.

#415 Curt Flood (Back)

#8 NL ERA Leaders: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale

#8 NL ERA Leaders: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale
I’m back from an end-of-2011 break with three more cards for the collection, which is nearly complete! 589 down, 9 to go; I can hardly believe it! Though I wasn’t able to make it to December’s incarnation of the Philly Card Show, Ed once again served as my eyes and ears and found a few of my dwindling needs. He knows how to find bargains, and this card featuring the Dodgers’ pair of Hall of Fame hurlers is no exception.

It’s certainly no surprise that Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax finished 1-2 in the National League in earned run average in 1964, especially considering that they made their home starts at pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. The bigger shock is that Los Angeles finished in sixth place with 80 wins, but that can be chalked up to the club’s humdrum offense. Koufax was in the midst of his incredible run of five straight ERA titles, clocking in with a career-low 1.74 (he then topped it with a 1.73 mark in his farewell 1966 season). However, arm woes brought an abrupt end to Sandy’s standout year in mid-August; he finished 1964 with 223 innings pitched, nearly 100 less than teammate Drysdale. Don checked in with a 2.18 ERA in a league-leading 321.1 innings of work. He ran into some tough luck, accumulating an 18-16 record despite his mound mastery. The big righthander never did capture an ERA title, though he did grab three strikeout crowns earlier in his career and topped the senior circuit with 25 wins in 1962.

Upon flipping the card over, we see the same extended leaderboard as on the other league leader cards in this set. We’ve got the Phillies’ Chris Short (2.20 ERA), Juan Marichal of the Giants (2.48), and another Phil in Jim Bunning (2.63) rounding out the top five. Because there were only ten teams in the National League, and most were working with four-man rotations, it’s a pretty comprehensive list. Aging star Warren Spahn, bringing up the rear at 5.28, surely wishes it was less comprehensive! Topps also offered an interesting addendum, a list of the 13 best ERAs for pitchers who topped 75 innings but fell short of the 162 needed to qualify. As you can see, Pirates reliever Al McBean (1.90 ERA in 89.2 IP) is the only one who even comes close to Koufax’s miniscule mark.

#8 NL ERA Leaders: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale (back)

#470 Yogi Berra

#470 Yogi Berra
Yogi! This is the second card from Randy, and Yogi’s iconic mug and old-school catcher’s gear does a great job distracting from the defacement inflicted on the card. I guess somebody wanted it known that Berra had quit playing by then.

Fun facts about Yogi Berra:

-Yogi was born Lawrence Peter Berra in St. Louis, MO. He signed with the Yankees in 1943 as a teenager, but spent the next two years serving in the Navy. He saw combat in North Africa, Italy, and France during World War II.

-He debuted with the Yankees on September 22, 1946, going 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in a 4-3 win over the Athletics.

-Berra kicked off a string of 15 straight All-Star seasons in 1948, when he batted .305 with 24 doubles, 10 triples (!), 14 home runs, and 98 RBI.

-Yogi famously won three MVP awards (1951, 1954, 1955), and finished in fourth place or higher every year from 1950 through 1956.

-Under the tutelage of Yankee coach and Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey, Berra became a strong defensive catcher. He threw out 47.3% of would-be base stealers for his career.

-Spending most of his career with the dynastic Yanks, Yogi played in an incredible 14 World Series, coming out on the winning end 10 times. Overall he batted .274/.359/.452 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI in the Fall Classic, and caught Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Dodgers in Game Five of the 1956 Series.

-He originally retired as a player following the 1963 season, and was named Yankee manager in place of Ralph Houk, who moved to the front office. Houk became convinced in midseason that Berra did not have control over his players, and fired him at season’s end despite 99 wins and a narrow World Series loss to the Cardinals. He was picked up by the Mets as a player-coach, but played in just four games. He stayed on as a coach until the 1972 season, when he took over as manager after Gil Hodges’ sudden death. Yogi managed the Mets for parts of four seasons, winning a surprise pennant with an 82-win club in 1973 and losing another squeaker World Series to the Athletics. He returned to the Yankees as a coach in 1976, and managed the team to a third-place finish in 1984. An antsy George Steinbrenner fired him just 16 games into the next season, and Yogi held a grudge for 15 years before a public apology from the Boss smoothed things over.

-In parts of 19 seasons, Berra batted .285 with 358 home runs and 1,430 RBI. In 1972, the Yankees retired the uniform number 8 that he and Bill Dickey each wore, and in 1988 the pair received bronze plaques in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. Yogi was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, his second year of eligibility.

-Yogi and his wife Carmen have been married since 1949. They have three sons. Dale Berra was an infielder for the Pirates, Yankees, and Astros from 1977 to 1987. Tim Berra was a kick returner for the 1974 Baltimore Colts.

-He is famous for his “Yogiisms”, malapropisms such as “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” and “It’s like deja vu all over again”. His muddled turns of phrase are so notable that many others are falsely attributed to him. This has led him to say, “I didn’t really say everything I said”. My favorites are: “If people don’t want to come to the ballpark how are you going to stop them?”, and “Always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t go to yours.”

#470 Yogi Berra (back)