Wednesday, June 8, 2016

1969 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Here they are - the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1969 season and featured in the 1970 Topps set. 

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

The lone omission by Topps this time around was White Sox Outfielder Carlos May, named to the team, but his card does not bear the Topps All-Star Rookie Trophy.

 Right Handed Pitcher - Mike Nagy
Rookie Card
Nagy was an unlikely starter for the Red Sox in 1969, jumping to the big leagues all the way from Single-A. The 6'3" Nagy was able to fool hitters in the American League throughout 1969, finishing with an impressive 12-2 record. His peripherals were not especially good, walking more than he struck out, and sporting a FIP nearly a full run higher than his ERA of 3.11. He hurled his only Major League Shutout in June against the expansion Royals, facing the guy that beat him out for Rookie of the Year honors (but we'll get to him later). Nagy finished second for Rookie of the Year, but was awarded AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1969. In between his rookie year and 1970, Nagy was enlisted in the National Guard. When he returned to the Red Sox organization, the team had him get acclimated by starting in the minors again. He wasn't able to regain the success of his rookie year, often pitching behind in the count to batters. He would make 20 starts in 1970, then just 5 the following season. His last major league game came in May of 1974. He did have a second career in the Mexican League - in four seasons there, he compiled a 67-50 record with a 2.01 ERA and 19 Shutouts.
 First Baseman - Al Oliver
Oliver came in second place in the Rookie of the Year voting in the National League in 1969, hitting .285 with 17 homers and driving in 70 runs. He was a 7 time All-Star, including a run of 4 straight appearances in the early 80s. Oliver was the primary Center Fielder for the 1971 World Champion Pirates team. Nicknamed "Scoop," Oliver split time at first base and in the outfield throughout his 18 year career, and though he never won a Gold Glove he did have impressive range in the outfield. His best season? It might be 1974, when he hit .321 with 38 doubles, a career high 12 Triples, and 85 runs batted in. His 1980 season in Texas saw him score a career high 96 Runs and drive in 117 more - he had 209 base hits and earned his first of three straight silver slugger awards. Compare those to his 1982 campaign in Montreal - he won the NL batting title with a .331 average, and led the senior circuit in base hits, doubles, and runs batted in. That year he finished third in the NL MVP race behind Lonnie Smith and winner Dale Murphy. If you ask me, Montreal had a pair of other deserving candidates, Gary Carter (highest WAR) and Andre Dawson. Maybe they split the vote? In any case, Oliver had several good to great seasons in both leagues in the 70s and 80s.
Al shares his rookie card with Richie Hebner in the 1969 Topps Set.

 Second Baseman - Ted Sizemore
Sizemore was the 1969 NL Rookie of the Year, and the voting wasn't particularly close.  Sizemore rapped out 160 hits in his rookie season which would be a career high.He initially was the Dodgers' primary Short Stop in 1969, but poor play at second base and the acquisition of Maury Wills to take over SS, Ted became the everyday 2nd Baseman for L.A. That said, his ability to play all over diamond became a calling card as he moved from team to team. He even moved behind the plate for a few games, catching for the Dodgers in 1976. This was along with work at 2nd, Short, 3rd, and in the outfield at various points in his career. Sizemore had a 12 year career, amassing over 1,300 hits and 575 runs scored.

Ted's rookie card is shared with Bill Sudakis in the 1969 Topps Set
 Catcher - Bob Didier
Didier's most productive season came in 1969 as the NL West Division winning Braves' starting catcher. injuries derailed an otherwise promising start to his career, though he did become knuckleballer Phil Niekro's preferred receiver. Didier is still looking for his first major league home run- he had a total of 16 in 9 minor league seasons. Not exactly Crash Davis, but Didier's value to his teams was in his knowledge of the game. He became a fairly successful minor league manager, winning a pair of league championships.
Bob's 1969 Topps Rookie card was a copy editor's nightmare, Didier shared cardboard real estate with Walt Hriniak and Gary Neibauer.
 Third Baseman - Jose Laboy
Let's pause for a moment and just admire that card - nice!
Coco Laboy crushed 18 homers and drove in 83 runs in 1969. He came into the league as a 29 year old rookie - he was originally signed out of Puerto Rico in 1959 by the Giants and bounced around the minors, repeating AAA 4 years in a row in the Cardinals organization. The Expos snapped him up in  the expansion draft and made him a regular at the hot corner. His late start in the majors meant a steep learning curve. Despite leading the team in doubles in 1970, his average plummeted. He would play sparingly over a handful of seasons in Montreal, never matching his rookie numbers.
Coco's Rookie Card was shared with Floyd Wicker in the 1969 Topps Set.

 Outfield - Larry Hisle
Similar to Coco Laboy, Hisle's best seasons came in his age 29 and 30 seasons - the difference being that Hisle spent most of his 20s in the major leagues as well, having some inconsistent production and playing time before putting everything together in 1977 for the Twins. As a rookie in 1969 he hit 20 homers and stole 18 bases for the Phillies. His Achilles' Heel in his early days was the strikeout. Hisle ended up falling out of favor in Philadelphia in 1971 and saw limited playing time with the parent club. He was traded to the Dodgers, who stashed Hisle in AAA. Hisle excelled in the minors in 1972, with 23 homers and 20 stolen bases. He drove in 91 runs for his club and was poised to make a triumphant return. He was traded to Saint Louis following the 1972 season, but the Cardinals flipped him to the Twins a couple months later. In Minnesota, Hisle played all three outfield positions and posted double digit homers in all five seasons. His curtain call in Minnesota was an All-Star season in which he led the AL in Runs Batted In. He followed it up in Milwaukee the following year with a career best 34 homers and drove in 115 runs. After his playing days, Hisle won a pair of World Series titles as hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Larry's Rookie card can be found in the 1968 Topps set, shared with Atlanta Brave prospect Mike Lum.
 Outfield - Lou Piniella
What were the Pilots thinking? Piniella was traded to the expansion Royals from the expansion Seattle squad for a pair of pitchers. All Sweet Lou could do in response is win the AL Rookie of the Year. Piniella's playing career featured one trip to the All-Star Game, a pair of World Series rings, and the reputation for a sweet swing and a rough temper.  
 Piniella's demeanor may or may not have been the reason that he moved from Cleveland to the Senators (Texas Ranger version) to Baltimore to Cleveland again to Seattle to the Royals before exceeding his rookie service time, but it sure fueled his efforts on the field. His is better known now for his series of successful managerial stints throughout the majors, leading the Reds to a Championship in 1990 and managing some very good teams in Seattle and Chicago. He was a 3 time Manager of the Year and finished with a winning record of 1,835 wins and 1,712 losses.
Sweet Lou's Rookie card is waaaay back in the 1964 set, a card shared with 1964 Topps Rookie All-Star Mike Brumley.
Left Handed Pitcher - Bill Butler
Butler's key stat in his rookie campaign: he recorded 4 shutouts for the Royals in 1969. Those were nearly half of his wins that season. He would struggle to strike batters out in his sophomore season, and his days as as regular starter were over. He pitched in 7 different major league seasons.
Bill's Rookie card was in the 1969 Topps set - sharing the card with fellow expansion draftees Pat Kelly and Juan Rios.
Shortstop - Don Money
Would you believe me if I told you that Don Money was an MVP once? He beat out Al Oliver and future teammate Larry Hisle back in 1966 in Single-A ball. "Easy Money" was a 4-time All-Star, and compiled over 1,600 hits and scored just shy of 800 runs. He had a slick glove in the infield as well, three times leading the league in fielding percentage at third base. Money was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers following the 1972 season so the Phillies could make room for prospect Mike Schmidt. The move was mutually beneficial, as Money found a home in Milwaukee, enjoying several solid seasons. After his final season in Milwaukee, Money briefly tried baseball in Japan. He was playing well, with 8 homers in 29 games, but differences in culture and expectations led Money decide to retire and return to the states. 
Don's Rookie card was in the 1969 Topps set, shared with Pitcher Larry Colton

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