Thursday, September 22, 2016

Kennys Vargas - 10, 5, and 1

eBay has been kind to me this month - I was able to find this Kennys Vargas acetate card for about the cost of a blaster
I'm still looking for the 2015 version of this card,  I might finish the 2016 rainbow first!
Moving right along, I found this gem, numbered to just 5.
Kennys was a September call up this year, but he's going to be stuck behind a couple guys on the depth chart next spring.
And finally, there's this madness. A printing plate!
This was back when Kennys was just "Kenny" and making his way to the bigs. I doubt I will ever collect all of his cards, but these three were some of the hardest to come by.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The North American Free Trade Agreement

I know next to nothing about trade agreements (and I know better than to talk politics in this blog about baseball cards) but the name seems apt to describe a generous windfall of junx wax from the North.

 Bret Saberhagen is too cool for Shea.
 Some great horizontal shots of the 1990s - Eddie  Murray gets in there twice thanks to a cameo on Ozzie Guillen's card.
 Cal Ripken leaps over Carlos Quintana to possibly finish off a pair of Sox...
And Da Meat Hook is all smiles after seeing this stack of junk wax needs. Big thanks go to Mike from Not Another Baseball Card Blog for the trade!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The 1970 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Here they are - the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1970 season and featured in the 1971 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2016, at least all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. 


Catcher - Thurman Munson
Just take a moment to drink in the beauty of this card - may be my favorite of the whole series...

That's your 1970 A.L. Rookie of the year, the "Heart and Soul" of the New York Yankees through the 1970s, Mr. Thurman Munson. Munson was the 4th overall pick in the 1968 Draft, and he moved quickly through the minors, making his MLB debut in August of 1969. By the start of the 1970 season, the Yankees had traded away one half of their catching platoon to make room for the Akron, Ohio native. In his rookie season, Munson cracked 25 doubles and had a .302 average. He was a nearly unanimous selection for ROY honors. He would add 7 All-Star appearances, an MVP in 1976, 3 Gold Gloves, and 2 World Championship Rings. Munson was killed during the 1979 season when he crashed his plane practicing landings at his hometown Akron-Canton airport. The Yankees retired his #15 jersey.
Munson's Rookie Card is in the 1970 Topps set, card #189, shared with 1st baseman Dave McDonald.

Left Handed Pitcher - Les Cain
Cain was a promising pitcher whose career was cut short by injuries. That may sound like a familiar refrain in the Topps All-Star Rookie pantheon; guys like Stan Bahnsen, Mike Nagy, Bill McCool can relate. Cain, like those other pitchers, became notable for his brief time in the big leagues, and for a unique contribution to baseball history off the field. His debut came in 1968, pitching sporadically in relief. He spent all of 1969 in Triple-A Toledo, but a fast start earned a promotion to the big leagues early in the 1970 campaign. He got off on the right foot in Detroit, and was in the conversation for the AL All Star roster. He started to experience shoulder fatigue in the second half, and his performance suffered. His ERA+ was just below league average at 98, striking out 156 batters in 180.2 innings. That strikeout total is a rookie record for the Tigers -- 2016 rookie Michael Fulmer currently sits at 116 punchouts, so the record is in jeopardy but will likely stand for another season. Cain missed the first two months of 1971 with shoulder problems, and had a rough season with the Tigers when he did pitch. Cain tried to pitch through the pain, and tried to rehab and stay loose by pitching in the winter leagues of Puerto Rico after the season. He tossed a no-hitter, though the shoulder issues never left him. Cain is notable for hitting the last homerun by a Tigers pitcher before the Designated Hitter was introduced. Off the field, the injury that knocked Cain out of the majors became the basis for a claim for Workman's compensation with the state of Michigan. Like the rest of his teammates, Cain contributed to the disability program with each paycheck. He turned out to be first player in MLB history to be granted Workman's comp, and the first to ever draw funds from that disability fund set up in theory to benefit injured major leaguers.
Cain's Rookie Card is #324 in the 1969 Topps Set, which he shares with Broadcaster Dave "Soup" Campbell.

Outfield - Roy Foster
Rookie Card
The only other player to receive a vote for Rookie of the Year in 1970 besides Thurman Munson was Roy Foster. The Sporting News, in fact, felt he was more impressive than Munson, and was named their Rookie of the Year instead. Foster was the Opening Day Left Fielder for Cleveland, and crushed his first of 23 homers that day. He profiled to be a slugging outfielder in the mold of Jay Buhner or Dan Pasqua - not particularly speedy, but plenty strong. His sophomore season saw his average dip (along with the rest of the league -1971 was a low offense environment), and his slugging percentage also dropped. He was traded in the offseason to Texas, but found himself back in Cleveland by April 3rd of 1972, before playing a single regular season game for the Rangers. Injuries and a limited role in 1972 ended his playing career.

Outfield - Billy Conigliaro
With brother Tony being signed by the Red Sox in 1962, Billy was already on the Boston radar when the 1965 MLB draft began. Billy was the 5th overall pick in the June draft, and was once again hoping to share an outfield with his older sibling. Billy made the 1970 Red Sox, and the brothers combined to hit 54 homers, the most by sibling teammates in a single season. Billy had 18 of those round trippers, and followed up with 11 more in 1971. He earned the reputation of a bit of a malcontent - he protested the Red Sox treatment of Tony, so Billy was traded to Milwaukee. After half a season there, Conigliaro announced his retirement. The following year, he signed with Oakland and served as a bench bat and utility man for the 1973 championship team, but soured on management there as well, retiring again at the end of the season. His final comeback was short lived, with the A's preferring to keep him in the minors.
Billy's Rookie Card is #317 in the 1970 Topps Set, shared with dime box darling Luis Alvarado (see his 1973 card). 

Third Baseman - Alan Gallagher
Rookie Card
 Another year, another Giants infielder. Alan Gallagher played in 4 MLB seasons with San Francisco and the California Angels. In 1971, he hit just above league average with an OPS+ of 104 - his rookie year of 1970 was not as impressive, but good enough to make the Topps All-Star team. He benefitted from being a rookie in a different season than a good 3B crop. Gallagher's nickname is "Dirty Al" which is either a reference to a scrappy style of play in the field, or... I don't want to know. After his playing career, he managed several minor league teams throughout the country.

Shortstop - Larry Bowa
Speaking of managers and scrappy infielders, Larry Bowa is what you would call a rich man's "Dirty Al." His rookie season, he led the team in stolen bases. Bowa was a 5 time All-Star, a 2 time gold glove winner, led the National League in triples in 1972, and stole over 300 career bases.  His 1980 postseason was clutch - hitting .316 in the NLCS and .375 in the World Series, bringing a championship to Philadelphia.
the backs
As a Manager, Bowa did not have any postseason success, though he was named 2001 Manager of the Year. He is still with Philadelphia, serving as the bench coach under Pete Mackanin. 
Larry's Rookie card is #539 in the 1970 Topps set, shared with Denny Doyle.


First Baseman - John Ellis 
Ellis is probably best known for being Cleveland's first Designated Hitter, and being part of the trade that sent Graig Nettles to the Yankees. Ellis was a valuable role player throughout his career, rotating between First, Designated Hitter, and behind the plate. He caught a no-hitter in 1973 as well as being the regular DH - his first season appearing in over 100 games. After his playing career, he worked with Spalding and it was his Catcher's mitt design that found its way into many stores. 
John's Rookie Card is #516 in the 1970 Topps Set, shared with Outfielder Jim Lyttle. 

Outfield - Bernie Carbo
Another 1965 draft pick, Carbo was the Reds' first rounder that year. He made his MLB debut in September of 1969. His rookie year of 1970 was remarkable - he filled up the stat sheet with 10 stolen bases, a .310 batting average, 21 homers, and 94 walks. He slumped badly in 1971, with his batting average dropping nearly 100 points. By 1972, he wore out his welcome in a crowded Cincinnati outfield, and was traded to Saint Louis. He made his biggest impression in Boston, of course - known for his 3 run homer against his former club in the 1975 World Series. Without that homer in the bottom of the eighth, there would never have been an opportunity for Fisk's memorable and historic blast to win game 6. Carbo was a prototypical fan favorite, full of quirky idiosyncrasies. It was later revealed that this was due in part to abuse of several different drugs. But he carved out a decent career with Boston, and scuffled in parts of several seasons with other teams throughout the league. Carbo rehabilitated himself and started a ministry in the early 90s. 
Bernie's Rookie card is #36 in the 1970 Topps Set, which he shared with Catcher Danny Breeden.


Right Handed Pitcher - Carl Morton
Morton was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves as an outfielder, but converted to pitching and was selected by the Expos in the 1968 Expansion Draft. His 1970 Season was worthy of the National League Rookie of the Year award. He compiled an 18-10 record with a 3.60 ERA. Most impressive, though, was tossing 4 Shutouts in 10 complete games. He pitched over 250 innings in 4 of his 8 major league seasons. The innings seemed to catch up to him, and his final season was cut short after a career low 24 starts. 
He was never a big Strikeout pitcher, amassing 650 career strikeouts in over 1600 innings pitched. 
Carl's Rookie card is #646 in the 1969 Topps Set, a card he shared with fellow Montreal Expo hurler Dan McGinn.

ouch - could use an upgrade if you've got one to trade...

 Second Baseman - Dave Cash
3 time All-Star Dave Cash led the league in base hits in 1975, and triples in 1976. He was the primary 2nd Baseman for the Pirates' World Series team in 1971, and was a career .283 hitter over 12 seasons. He had an unremarkable rookie season in 1970, though he hit well. In Pittsburgh, he shared time with veteran Bill Mazeroski and young star Rennie Stinnett. Once Cash made his way to Philadelphia, he became the man at the keystone. He only missed two games in three seasons with Philly, making the All-Star team each year. 
Dave's Rookie Card was #141 in the 1970 Topps Set, which he shares with Johnnnnnnnnny Jeter. Jeter.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

21

Happy Roberto Clemente Day!
 Many have worn the jersey -
 Some better than others -
But there's only one Roberto Clemente.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Coffee is for Closers

One more thing to share from the weekend, the card shop had a tall stack of these, I decided to roll the dice with one as they were on sale, and the checklist didn't have many duds in it, I was hoping to get a fan favorite of some kind...
Well, not a Hall of Famer, but still a very good player! Franco was just in the news yesterday when Francisco Rodriguez passed him on the All-Time Saves list. Franco now sits 4th All-Time, with 424 Career Saves. He pitched in the 2000 World Series with the Mets.  This buyback is from his first All-Star season in 1986.