Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bombs Away! 1966 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Here they are - the fifth class of the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1966 season and featured in the 1967 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. 

Lots of sluggers in this class - not the biggest stars you'll ever see, but after the very strong class the previous two years, we were probably due for a let down.
 First Baseman - George Scott
This year's class starts with a bang. "Boomer" crushed homers in Boston, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and the Bronx over 14 Seasons. His rookie campaign featured 27 homers and an All-Star appearance. He also led the American League in Strikeouts and ground into the most double plays. But after that first year, Scott improved his plate discipline almost immediately. His On Base Percentage leapt up nearly 50 points in his sophomore season, as did his batting average. His strikeout totals fell below triple digits, though his home run totals also. As he continued to learn the league, his defense remained steady. Over his 14 year career, Scott was awarded 8 Gold Gloves. His Manager in Boston, the notoriously cantakerous Dick Williams, called him one of the finest defensive first basemen he had ever seen. Arguably his best season came in 1975 in Milwaukee- He led the league in Homers and runs batted in, while slugging .515 and making his second All-Star team.
George's Rookie Card is a High Number in the 1966 Topps set, a three player Red Sox Rookie Stars card.
 Right Handed Pitcher - Jim Nash
Rookie Card
Jim Nash made a sterling debut in the American League, going 12-1 with a 2.06 ERA in 1966. His first 7 decisions were wins, a team record that still stands. Nash did all this for a team that finished with a losing record for the season. In his second season, the team did not fare much better, losing 99 games, though they were adding young talent that would start to flourish in the early 70s. Unfortunately for Nash, he was traded to Atlanta in 1970, just in time to see a few more losing seasons with the Braves. Despite playing for some underachieving teams, he provided quality starts (over 200 innings in three different seasons) and finished his career in 1972 with an overall record of 68 wins to 64 losses.
 Catcher - Randy Hundley
Hundley was a rock behind the plate for the Cubs in the latter half of the 60s. He set a major league record by catching in 149 games as a Rookie.  His rookie campaign also included hitting for the cycle in August against the Astros, and he belted 19 homers at the time the most by any Rookie backstop. Hundley's workload would wreak havoc on his knees, and he managed to play in 100+ games just twice in the 1970s. An excellent defender behind the plate, Hundley won a Gold Glove in his Sophomore season. Many people my age are probably familiar with Randy's son, 1990's Catcher Todd Hundley.
Randy's Rookie Card is in the 1966 Topps Set
 Outfield - Cleon Jones
Just like Ron Swoboda last time around, Cleon Jones was an integral part of the 1969 Miracle Mets. He, like Swoboda, had a very memorable catch. Jones caught a fly ball for the final out of the series, clinching victory for the Mets. Jones was a star for the Mets from the start. As a 23 year old rookie, Jones was the Mets leader in runs, stolen bases, and outfield assists. In the championship season of 1969, Jones hit a career high .340 and appeared in his first and only all-star game. When the Mets returned to the fall classic in 1973, it was thanks in no small part to Cleon's clutch hits down the stretch in the pennant chase. In the season's final ten games, Jones hit 6 home runs. His hot bat continued in the NLCS against the Reds, including going 3 for 5 in the clinching win.
 Cleon's Rookie Card was in the 1965 Topps set.
 Left Handed Pitcher - Woodie Fryman
Similar to "Bob" Clemente and "Jorge" Bell, Woodie Fryman was called "Woody" by the Topps Company for several years. It's not like he was flying under the radar, either. Fryman spent the majority of his career shuttling between a Starting role and the bullpen. His claim to fame is probably a half season he spent in Detroit. He was picked up off waivers by the Tigers in August of 1972, and he went 10-3 with a 2.06 ERA in 14 starts, propelling the Tigers to the playoffs. Fryman was a hit in Montreal as well, representing the Expos in the All-Star game in 1976. Fryman pitched in 18 seasons in the big leagues, having great success as a middle reliever at the tail end of his playing days.
Woodie's Rookie Card is in the 1966 Topps Set.
 Second Baseman - Dave(y) Johnson
Hey, remember when Cleon Jones caught the final out of the 1969 World Series? Well, you're looking at the guy that hit that fly ball.  Of Course, Johnson would go on to win a World Series title with the Mets too as a Manager in 1986. As a player, Johnson won two titles with Baltimore, the first coming in his rookie season. Johnson had fantastic defensive chops. Just like teammates Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger, Davey would win Gold Gloves in 1969, 1970, and 1971. In his playing days, he was a 4 time All-Star, spent a season in Japan, and finished with a respectable if unspectacular stat line. As a Manager, Johnson would reach the playoffs 6 times, and was named Manager of the Year twice.
Davey's Rookie Card was in the 1966 Topps Set. Correction! Dave Johnson also appears in 1965 as card #473
 Short Stop - Sonny Jackson
As a Rookie, Jackson stole a then record 49 bases as a rookie - then 22 the following year - and as his playing time was reduced, he was unable to even reach double digits. He led the National League in Singles in 1966, as well as sacrifice hits. While his speed was an asset, his glove was not. He also led the Senior Circuit in errors in 1966 and again in his sophomore season of 1967. He was converted into an outfielder after being traded to Atlanta and was used sparingly at times due to injury and ineffectiveness. Jackson was well respected by his peers, and became a coach for both the Braves and the Giants organizations after his playing days. He was often a member of Dusty Baker's coaching staffs -the two played together in Atlanta in the 70s.
Sonny shares his 1965 Topps Rookie Card with fellow Topps All-Star Rookie Joe Morgan.
 Outfield - Byron Browne
Byron seemed poised to break out as a star and power threat following his rookie season. He belted 16 home runs for the Cubs, but also led the National League in Strikeouts. The Cubs sent him down to AA for most of 1967, and though he hit 25 homers in the minors, he played in just 20 games over the next two seasons in Chicago and the Astros. He then bounced around the high minors eventually being traded from Saint Louis to the Phillies in the Curt Flood trade. He managed to appear in over 100 games for Philadelphia in 1970 and cranked out 10 more Major League homers, but ultimately he didn't stick with the big leagues, spending time in Mexico instead. Browne's son also played pro ball, spending nearly a decade pitching in the Milwaukee farm system.
Byron's Rookie Card is in the 1966 Topps Set.
 Outfield - Tommie Agee
Hey, what do you know? Another member of the 1969 Mets' World Series Team, and he too had some Amazin' defense in the outfield. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Agee was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1966, winning a Gold Glove, appearing the All-Star game, and blasting 22 homers while stealing 44 bases. That would be his best season in the majors, though he did return to the All-Star game in his second full year, and won another Gold Glove for his work in Center Field in 1970 for the Mets. In 1969, Agee hit a blistering .357 in the NLCS against Sonny Jackson's Braves, including a pair of home runs. He would also hit a homer in the World Series that year, but it was his defensive plays in Game Three that preserved a shutout of the Orioles that will be remembered. He was named NL Comeback player of the Year in 1969, despite it being his first season in the NL, and he played in 132 games in 1968 (albeit with a poor .217 average and just 5 homers).
Tommie's Rookie Card is in the 1965 Topps set
Third Baseman - Tommy Helms
The National League's Rookie of the Year, Tommy Helms was not a power hitter like many of his Topps Rookie All-Star teammates. He was what you might call scrappy. I am once again floored by how many connections there are between these players. Joe Morgan was traded to the Reds and Tommy went to Houston in return in 1972. The fans in Cincinnati were initially unhappy to lose Helms, but it was Houston that should have shed the most tears. Tommy managed to play about three and a half seasons for the Astros, primarily taking over for Joe Morgan at 2B. He had previously won a pair of Gold Gloves in Cincinnati, but apparently he left them behind as Morgan started to win them in a Reds uniform and Helms had a mediocre showing in Houston on the slick and unforgiving Astroturf.  Helms returned to Cincinnati as a coach in the 80s and became the team's Manager briefly in 1989 following Pete Rose's lifetime ban.
Tommy's Rookie Card was in the 1965 set.

Can I just say that I think these are some of the nicer looking All-Star Rookie Cards so far? Obviously 1965 had a great design, but these actually look pretty good top to bottom with very little airbrushing. Hundley's probably my favorite one, and it could even be copied by Donruss this year. No logo needed!


  1. Great info there Brian. The "trophy" cards are hands down my favorite all-time subset. Still working on the master set.

    1. Thanks for reading! It's a fun set to chase.

  2. Love the "Boomer". This is my favorite set. One card to go

  3. Love this series! Topps liked that Randy Hundley picture so much, they reused it for his 1969 card. And if you'll allow a nerdy correction, Davey Johnson has a RC in 1965 Topps.

    1. Yep, The Tommy Helms photo is re-used in 69 as well.

      And good catch on the Davey Johnson rookie - I did a comc search to find each guy's rookie card. the 65 Topps version is listed on the site as "Dave Johnson" but 66 and later is listed under "Davey"

  4. Fun post, I missed the first batch back in October, but I've gone back and caught myself up. You know, I've always loved pulling the All-Star Rookie cards from the sets I've collected, but for some reason it never occurred to me to go back and collect that subset from the 1960's sets. Looks like I've got something new to look for at shows and COMC!