Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Set Building Via Text Message

I wonder if kids in the 50s and 60s had any inkling that people would still seek out these cards in 2018! It must have seemed like a science fiction numbered year, far off in the distance. Certainly, the thought that you could use a computer in your pocket to send a message from MN to NC to talk about which cards you still needed would be magic.

My regular vintage guy has been helping me with the '59 set, albeit from the East Coast. I tell ya, Wes Covington is just a great baseball card guy - I can't say that I've seen a bad card of his.

Billy is pining for New York already - though Cleveland had some big names on that 58 and 59 squad. My vintage vendor friend sent over #400 and #500, too!

Speaking of #500, this transaction was mainly about knocking off some high number needs, or at least making a dent in the list. In total, I added about 40 new cards to the set build, well on my way to 50% completed! I might even finish the set in time to celebrate it's 60th Anniversary! Thanks again to Kurt for putting together this great package for me! Check him out if you go to shows in NC (and beyond)!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

1976 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Here they are - the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1976 season and featured in the 1977 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2018, specifically all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy.

Outfield - Chet Lemon
Chicago (A.L.) 1975 - '81, Detroit (A.L.) 1982 - '90

Chet "the Jet" had the reputation of being fast, though he only stole double digit bases one time in his 16 year career. He had a tough time finding a spot on the roster with the Athletics, the team he was drafted by, so news of his trade to Chicago was a relief. Lemon had moved around the infield in the minors, but struggled defensively. After the trade, he found a home in the cozy Comiskey outfield. As a rookie, Lemon found a groove quickly, and had 15 doubles to go with 13 steals while playing Center and Left Field. He would make a pair of All-Star appearances in the 70s, showing flashes of power, and even led the AL in doubles for 1979. He had the bittersweet distinction of also leading the league in times hit by pitch four times. He was traded again following the 1981 season, to the Tigers for Steve Kemp. Both outfielders were pending free agents, and the teams felt they were better served making the 1 for 1 trade to get a better chance to retain the services of their new player. Lemon found a fresh start in the Detroit clubhouse, and had some of the best seasons of his career. This included a World Series Championship in 1984, was voted to the All-Star squad, and serving as the team's Center fielder all season long. For his career, he had 1,875 hits, 396 doubles, and 215 homers.

Chet Lemon's Rookie Card is 1976 Topps #590 shared with Henry Cruz, Ellis Valentine and Terry Whitfield

Outfield - Tom Poquette
Kansas City (A.L.) 1973; 1976 - '79; '82, Boston (A.L.) 1979; 1981, Texas (A.L.) 1981

Tom's rookie season had a slight detour following a vicious collision with the outfield wall in K.C. His spikes were caught in the astroturf and he fell awkwardly into the wall breaking his cheekbone and being knocked unconscious. He missed a full month of the season, but still managed to hit over .300 and compile over 100 hits. He was able to reach the century mark again the following season, and would be a key piece of the talented Kansas City playoff teams of the late 70s. The team had a superb outfield trio with Willie Wilson, Al Cowens, and Amos Otis. Poquette's role was reduced in later seasons and he bounced around the A.L. to Boston and Texas before returning to K.C. to finish his career in 1982. He would remain in the K.C. org as a coach and later a minor league manager.

Tom Poquette's Rookie Card is 1975 Topps #622 shared with Ed Armbrister, Fred Lynn, and Terry Whitfield (again!)

Short Stop - Garry Templeton
Rookie Card
Saint Louis (N.L.) 1976 - '81, San Diego (N.L.) 1982 - '91, New York (N.L.) 1991

You think you know Garry Templeton? Lemme guess - he's the guy the Cardinals traded to get Ozzie Smith. And yes, Ozzie looms large, but don't sleep on a talent like Templeton. While he was a mid season call up his first season, he had a tremendous run of excellence at the plate in the late 70s. His offensive production as a shortstop was impressive- leading the NL in triples in three consecutive seasons. In 1979, he amassed over 100 hits from each side of the plate, the second time in his career with 200 total hits. For his career, he was a 3 time All-Star and won a pair of Silver Slugger awards. He also had a quirky stat - he led the NL in intentional walks in 1984 and 1985, hitting in the 8 spot for much of those two seasons.

That's a funny bit of foreshadowing- Templeton was traded to the Padres prior to the 1982 season, and he provided the team with some much needed offense. Despite playing on the same squad as Mr. Padre himself Tony Gwynn, it was Garry that was the team's Captain from 1987 to 1991. He belted over 2,000 hits including 329 doubles and over 100 career triples. He helped the Padres to their first World Series appearance in 1984.

Catcher - Butch Wynegar
Rookie Card
Minnesota (A.L.) 1976 -'82, New York (A.L.) 1982 - '86, California (A.L.) 1987 -'88

Wynegar started his career by jumping from Single-A to the Major Leagues at the age of 20. He was the Twins' second round selection in 1974, and blazed through the rookie league in Elizabethon and spent a season in Single A, leading that league in walks and runs batted in. He was the 4th youngest player in the majors in 1976, and hit .260 with 10 homers and drew 79 walks. He was also playing the toughest position on the field, throwing out runners left and right from behind the plate. His first two seasons were nearly identical, both resulting in All-Star berths. His 2nd season he led the AL by throwing out 60 would-be base stealers. He would follow that up by throwing out 64 runners in 1979. He was hitting and catching like a young Ivan Rodriguez. In 1982, he was mired in a mini-slump with the Twins, and he was traded to the New York Yankees. He would finish the 1982 season hitting nearly .300 for the Yankees, and would become the team's primary catcher in 1985. The pressure of New York, specifically the pressures of Steinbrenner and Billy Martin, caused Wynegar to question his career choices. He had just finished a great season under the tutelage of the catching legend Yogi Berra, but the team missed the post-season. Yogi was fired, and Martin was re-hired. The media circus proved to be overwhelming and he walked away from the Yankees and a sizeable remainder of his contract midway through the 1986 season. He would ask to be traded in the off-season and finished he career as a back-up behind Bob Boone in California. Post playing career, Wynegar has served as a hitting coach throughout the league, currently serving in that capacity for the Pirates' AAA Affiliate.

Right Handed Pitcher - Mark Fidrych
Rookie Card
Detroit (A.L.) 1976 - '80

Fidrych was a revelation in 1976, running away with the AL Rookie of the Year award and the ERA title. He started 29 games and in 24 of those starts, Fidrych went the distance. He was a cautionary tale of overworking a young arm. He pitched 34 innings as a 19 year old, then 171 as a 20 year over 3 levels of the minors, then jumped up to 250 innings as a 21 year old rookie. He had 4 shutouts in that magical season. He would still make the All-Star team in his 2nd season, though he would only pitch in a total of 11 games that year. He would pitch in his final MLB game as a 25 year old in 1980. He sought the advice of Dr. James Andrews in 1985, who diagnosed Fidrych with a torn rotator cuff, which likely was the cause of his dead arm all the way back in 1977. Who knows what his career could have been if he had been managed more conservatively, or if his injury had been treated properly at the time? For his own part, Fidrych never expressed regret for the career he did have, and when interviewed following his playing career, he would point to all the things for which he was grateful. His superlative 1976 season accounted for more than half of his career wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched. He was never one to leave a job unfinished, tossing a complete game in 34 of his 56 career starts.

First Base - Jason Thompson
Rookie Card
Detroit (A.L.) 1976 - '80, California (A.L.) 1980, Pittsburgh (N.L.) 1981 - '85, Montreal (N.L.) 1986

The big lefty bat of Jason Thompson earned him the nickname "Roof Top" for his tape measure blasts off the Tiger Stadium roof, and sometimes hitting the ball all the way over the roof and literally out of the park. In his rookie campaign, he only hit .218, but he still led the Tigers with 17 round trippers, and played excellent defense at first base. He would play even better in 1977, hitting a career high 31 homers and driving in 105 runs. He made the All-Star squad in '77 and '78, providing power and defense. In 1980, he started off slow, and the California Angels came calling. The Angels wanted to move Rod Carew to the DH position so he could be fresher at the plate, so Thompson took his place at first for the bulk of the season. Carew managed to work his way back onto the field by the end of the 1980 season, so Thompson would be on the move again. He was very nearly a New York Yankee - the Angels traded him to Pittsburgh and the Pirates had intended to flip him to New York in a deal involving glove-first Jim Spencer and a pair of minor leaguers. The deal was vetoed by the Commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, because the Yankees had tried to include paying Spencer's salary in the deal. He spent the first half of 1981 struggling to break the Mendoza line- maybe with some mixed feelings playing for a team that didn't seem to want him. After the break, Thompson had a mid career renaissance, hitting .325 to finish '81. That carried over through 1982, when he had his best season, reaching 100 RBI and 30 homers for the 2nd time, and even made the All-Star squad for the 3rd and final time. Knee problems slowed his success, and he was out of the majors by 1986. He had over 1,200 career hits and 208 homers. 

2nd Base - Willie Randolph
Pittsburgh (N.L.) 1975, New York (A.L.) 1976 - '88, Los Angeles (N.L.) 1989 - '90, Oakland (A.L.) 1990, Milwaukee (A.L.) 1991, New York (N.L.) 1992

Only 6 players in Major League History played more games at second base than Willie Randolph, 5 of which are currently in the Hall of Fame. Randolph made his way to the Bronx via a trade that in hindsight was incredibly lopsided. The Yankees got Randolph, Ken Brett and Dock Ellis in exchange for veteran hurler Doc Medich. Randolph would pay immediate dividends for New York, stealing 37 bases while playing a slick 2nd base. How a player playing in New York for most of his career can be underrated is anyone's guess, but Randolph seemed to be overlooked and overshadowed by the strong crop of AL 2nd baseman. Lou Whitaker and Frank White won most of the Gold Gloves during Randolph's career. Despite leading the AL in double plays turned twice (he's 3rd All-time for his career), as well as leading the league in putouts and range factor, and consistently ranking in the top 5 in fielding pct, Randolph never won a Gold Glove. It's rare that you'll hear me defend a New York Yankee, but Randolph probably deserved to be a multi-time winner. He did make 6 All-Star games, and his teams had a great deal of success early in his career. The Yankees won championships in both '77 and '78, though Randolph missed the second playoff run with a pulled hamstring. Randolph was a classic great glove middle infielder through the 1980s. He was also a prototypical #2 hitter, with decent speed and excellent on base skills. For his career, he had 2,210 hits and drew 1,243 walks. He reached base more times than Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Enos Slaughter, and Andre Dawson to name a few. After his playing days, he was an integral part of the coaching staff in the late 90s early 2000s Yankee dynasty, adding 4 more championship rings. He would also become manager of the New York Mets, leading them to the NLCS in 2006. His winning pct is 2nd best all-time in Mets history.

Willie Randolph's Rookie Card is 1976 Topps #592 shared with Dave McKay, Jerry Royster, and Roy Staiger. There's also a Traded version of #592, showing just Randolph in airbrushed pinstripes. 

Outfield - Larry Herndon
Rookie Card
Saint Louis (N.L.) 1974, San Francisco (N.L.) 1976 - '81, Detroit (A.L.) 1982 - '88

Herndon would have some very memorable moments to come in his career, but he started modestly enough, with a short stint as a 20 year old in Saint Louis, and then spending two more seasons working his way back to the big leagues, breaking through in 1976 with the Giants. Herndon would be the regular Center Fielder for the Giants, sandwiched between budding superstar Gary Matthews and veteran Bobby Murcer. They provided some wonderful instruction, and Herndon filled up the box score with a little power, a little speed, and lots of hits. The following season, he was slowed by nagging injuries, but was able to bounce back with a solid 1978 campaign, a major piece in the deep run the Giants made trying for the NL pennant. He didn't he many homers in San Francisco, maybe due to the swirling winds at Candlestick, or perhaps his hitting style was just not suited to it. By the time he made it to the American League, however, Herndon had adapted his game. He began slugging the ball with authority, and in 1982 he even homered in 4 straight at bats over two days. In 1984, he only hit 7 regular season homers, but he hit a dinger in game 1 of the ALCS to put the Tigers up for good, then followed it up with an encore in Game 1 of the World Series, taking the lead from the Padres and giving Tigers' starter some much welcomed run support. Herndon would also be in the field to record the final out of the series. He would also hit a memorable homer to clinch another pennant for Detroit in 1987, a 1-0 win over Toronto in the last weekend of the season.

3rd Base - Jerry Royster
Los Angeles (N.L.) 1973 - '75; Atlanta (N.L.) 1976 - '84, '88; San Diego (N.L.) 1985 - '86; Chicago (A.L.) 1987; New York (A.L.) 1987

Like several players on this roster, a trade changed Royster's fortunes and paved the way for him to get regular playing time. He toiled for three seasons on the cusp of the big leagues with the Dodgers, stuck behind the great Ron Cey on the depth chart and a cast of talented outfielders. In Atlanta, he found an everday gig at the hot corner. 1976 was his first full season and he made the most of it. He would steal at least 20 bases in each of the next five seasons, and was fixture at the top of the Braves' batting order.  His best season came in 1979, when he scored over 100 runs and had 164 hits. He had a rough 1981 and was relegated to utility infield duty from that point on, with stops in San Diego, Chicago, and New York before wrapping up his playing career back in Atlanta in 1988. His coaching career culminated in 2002 with a surprise stint managing the Milwaukee Brewers, taking on a interim tag from Davey Lopes. He would go on to manage in the KBO in South Korea for several seasons as well.

 Jerry Royster's Rookie Card is 1976 Topps # 592 shared with Willie Randolph, Dave McKay, and Roy Staiger. 

Left Handed Pitcher - Jerry Augustine
Rookie Card

Jerry Augustine was a Wisconsin kid, drafted by his home state Brewers in the 15th round in 1974, but worked his way up to the majors and had a 10 year career with Milwaukee. He was a steady part of the Brewers rotation as a youngster, then transitioned to the bullpen for the back half of his career. As a rookie, he hurled 3 shutouts, one third of his nine wins as a rookie. 1976 was a strong year for rookie pitchers - Augustine was the lefty counterpart to the tremendous righty Mark Fidrych, who won the AL rookie of the Year award. In the National League, relief ace Butch Metzger was the NL rookie of the year and Pat Zachry of the Reds was the runner up. Augustine was the best Lefty rookie, however. He followed 1976 with a pair of successful campaigns. Augustine is a regular contributor to Brewers' TV broadcasts, now in his 11th year on the microphone as a color commentator.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Setting Out on That Old Dusty Trail

One of the many bonuses of 1950s cards are great nicknames. With the exception of Player's Weekend, the nicknames of current ballplayers are seen far less frequently. This card comes thanks to generosity of Greg from The Collective Mind

So who was Dusty Rhodes? Well, if you have the time, I highly recommend reading his SABR biography, written by Warren Corbett, which includes stories of drinking with Giants' team owner Horace Stoneman, and making Vin Scully laugh with quips and one-liners. Rhodes was a pinch hitter in 1954 (as an outfielder, he had poor defense, not to mention playing behind Willie Mays, Monte Irvin, and Don Mueller), but a very effective one. He hit .341 and slugged .695 in 1954, homering once every 10.9 at bats. He was even more efficient in the World Series that year, contributing in each of the first three games as a pinch hitter. He won game 1 with a walk-off round tripper, homered again in game 2, and added another hit in game 3, driving in 2 more runs. He hit .667/.714/1.667 for the series.   

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Getting Choked up Right now a Little

Not to worry, nothing to be sad about, but Bud Harrelson is a little choked up right now. This was part of a surprise package from Jim AKA gcrl from cards as i see them.

It was a formidable stack of cards, including 2018 issues like the Felix Jorge refractor rookie you see above.

A big selection of Jacque Jones cards! Jones was an essential part of the early 2000 Twins teams, often serving as Minnesota's Right Fielder and Leadoff man.

Torii Hunter was the heir apparent to Kirby Puckett in Center Field, and he filled in admirably. He played several seasons away from MN once he became a free agent, but he returned in 2015 for one last season with the team that drafted him, playing for his old teammate Paul Molitor.

Some vintage and nearly vintage Twins made the trip as well.

Maximum Jacksons represented in this mailer.

There was even a pair of hits! Hometown Hero and longtime closer Glen Perkins,

and Rule V find Ryan Pressly, who has been featured on precious few cards over the years.

Thanks very much Jim, this is excellent karma for the Dodgers! Good luck in the Series.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Game 7 Flashback

The Brewers and Dodgers are about to start Game 7 of the NLCS. I love Game 7s, not just because of the winner-takes-all pressure on both sides. I love them because it means we're watching the maximum amount of baseball possible. The World Series has gone 7 games the last two years, and the ALCS just had a Game 7 last year, but for the NLCS, it has been a while.

The last NLCS Game 7? You have to go back to 2012, when the San Francisco Giants defeated the Saint Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals starting lineup had one familiar face in the lineup for tonight's game, 3rd Baseman David Freese.

The Giants lineup was no less formidable.

The game itself? Not much of a competitive contest, San Francisco jumped out early and rolled to a 9-0 win. They scored big in all 4 of their wins, at least 5 runs scored in each victory. Matt Cain was the Game 7 winner, including an RBI single in the 2nd inning.

Yadier Molina went 4-4 in a losing effort, and Marco Scutaro was named NLCS MVP, hitting an even .500 for the series. The Giants would go on to sweep the Tigers in the World Series.

So, what happens tonight? Jhoulys Chacin vs. Walker Buehler! Machado vs. the Brewers Fans! No matter what, I'm looking forward to a close game. Hopefully the World Series will go seven games as well.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Little Help from My Friends

I had a great surprise in my mailbox this week - Kevin of The Card Papoy is able to avoid shipping overseas by winning U.S. based eBay auctions and shipping direct to the lucky collector! Kenny Lofton is one of my favorite players of the 1990s and early 2000s. The Twins in the latter half of the 90s was in bad shape, so by the time the playoffs rolled around, I was looking for a different team to root for.

Lofton was seemingly in the playoffs every season. He only missed the playoffs twice between 1995 and 2007, playing in 20 different playoff series. He was in the World Series twice, in 97 with Cleveland and 2002 with the San Francisco Giants. Lofton had some impressive postseason series - in the 1995 ALCS, for instance, he hit .458 including 2 triples and 5 stolen bases. In the 1998 ALDS against Boston he hit 2 homers and swiped 2 bases; and in 2003 for the Cubs against the Marlins he hit .323 scoring 8 runs in the 7 game series. Overall he had 97 hits in 95 postseason games in his career, stealing 34 bases, only being caught stealing 6 times. So all those times the Twins suffered an early exit or no appearance at all, it wasn't hard to look to Kenny Lofton to find someone to cheer for.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Ancient Relics

The early 2000s saw an explosion of new designs and card manufacturers trying to find all kinds of ways to "bring collectors closer to the game" especially if that meant bringing collectors closer to cleaning out their companies' warehouses of products.

2001 Upper Deck SP Game Used Edition Authentic Fabric - KL Kenny Lofton
How long can the name of one card be? This one is just a single color swatch from a road uniform. The Upper Deck Relic backs frequently would include this text from the CEO, telling you what was in your hands.

2000 Fleer Tradition Lumberjacks Moises Alou
I am a big fan of the Alou Brothers, and by extension that includes Felipe Alou's son, Moises. Alou was best known to me for his time playing for his dad in Montreal, but he had a long and successful MLB career for a ton of different teams. He was a World Series Champion with the Marlins in 1997, and had some memorable moments with the Astros and with the Cubs. I really like this design, which has what looks like pine needles arranged to make a baseball diamond.

2001 Upper Deck SPX Winning Materials Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds, Rich Aurilia
Sometimes the card companies would get especially ambitious, and try to jam several players at once onto the same card. It's cool that these guys are all teammates, though selfishly I would have liked a better variety on the jersey swatches. This card could potentially have 2 Hall of Famers on it someday!

2002 Fleer Triple Crown rbi kings Manny Ramirez
Other times the company would go crazy on the design elements, and of course it's Fleer bringing out the crazy lines and loops. It's hard to tell from the scans, but many of those lines are raised from the card surface, giving the card a mottled texture. Manny had an ignominious final few seasons with injuries and a PED suspension, but that will never take away from my own memories of the fantastic hitter he was in his prime.

2003 Fleer Showcase Thundersticks Vladimir Guerrero
This card is a combo of classy and cheesy - the design is very subtle, with clean lines and muted colors, even though the name of the subset is "Thundersticks" which is fairly stupid, frankly. The relic piece is modest, but then there's also that weird designation of "TF0130" It's not the card number, and it doesn't seem to apply to, say, the bat model that Guerrero used. It's the same on all of the Thundersticks cards I've seen, so it seems completely random. But hey, Completely Arbitrary is my jam.

2002 Flair Power Tools Doug Mientkiewicz
I couldn't complete this post without including at least one of the early 2000s Twins players. They weren't the most glamorous guys, but they were superstars in eyes of Twins fans. Mientkiewicz ultimately was traded away to make room for Justin Morneau, who was a much needed source of power for the Twins. Mientkiewicz of course, went from the Twins to the Boston Red Sox and caught the final out of the 2004 World Series to "Break the Curse."

2003 Topps T205 Game Used Bat Jim Thome
I love these framed cards. I think part of it is that I really like minis however I hate trying to collect minis because of their awkward size. This has the best of both worlds, a mini with a full size frame.

Topps of course has been in the relic game just as long as the rest of the companies, but in the early 2000s there was still a fair amount of competition, and for the purposes of this post, I'd rather let Topps take a back seat to those scrappy underdogs from Fleer and Upper Deck. I picked up all the cards in this post on COMC, just by searching Memorabilia in the 2000s and sorting from the lowest price.

Monday, October 8, 2018

1975 Topps Rookie All-Star Team

Here they are - the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1975 season and featured in the 1976 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2018, specifically all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. 

Right Handed Pitcher - John Montefusco
Rookie Card
San Francisco (N.L.) 1974-1980, Atlanta (N.L.) 1981, San Diego (N.L.) 1982-1983, New York (A.L.) 1983-1986

"The Count of Montefusco" was an immediate runaway success. His first appearance in 1974 included hitting a home run and earning his first major league win. He followed that superb debut by winning the 1975 N.L. Rookie of the Year. He led all National League pitchers in Strikeouts per nine innings that season, and finished 4th in the Cy Young voting. His 215 strikeouts as a rookie was the 2nd highest total in the National League behind Tom Seaver. The following season was perhaps even better-- Montefusco was named to his only All-Star appearance, and hurled 6 shutouts. He tossed his only career no hitter in September of 1976 as well. Like many pitchers in the 60s and 70s, Montefusco was asked to pitched as many innings as his arm could handle. Oddly enough, though, his injury issues did not come from his pitching arm or shoulder - Montefusco lost significant time in 1977 due to a badly sprained ankle. He was also involved in the highly publicized altercation with teammate Bill Madlock that led to Madlock's trade from the Giants to Pittsburgh. His time in San Francisco was best remembered for his contribution to the rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers. He was often quoted in the paper as disliking the Dodgers (he grew up a Yankees fan in New Jersey), even dedicating a shutout win to Ron Cey, and sparring with Tommy LaSorda through the press. Montefusco finished his MLB career with parts of three seasons in New York, playing for the team he cheered for as a kid. 

Outfield - Fred Lynn
Boston (A.L.) 1974-80, California (A.L.) 1981-84, Baltimore (A.L.) 1985-88, Detroit (A.L.) 1988-89, San Diego (N.L.) 1990

Gold Glove, All-Star, AL Rookie of the Year, AL MVP. That was Fred Lynn's 1975 season. His September call-up in 1974 gave a sneak peek of the historic season to come - he hit .419 and slugged .698 in 15 games. In his first full season, Lynn displayed serious power - hitting a league leading 47 doubles and 21 homers. He also had excellent plate discipline, getting on base at a .401 clip. The 1975 season was tremendous for Lynn, but in his own words it was the team's success that was most rewarding. The 1975 World Series pitting the Red Sox against the Cincinnati Reds was one for the ages. In game 1, Lynn smashed a home run, but also smashed his body into the left field wall trying to secure a Ken Griffey liner. While he tied for the team lead in runs batted in for the series, and did not even leave the game in which he was injured, the crash into the wall did seem to affect him. He would be fully recovered by the next season however, and Lynn would begin a five year assault on the green monster at Fenway. 1979 in particular was a season to remember, as Lynn hit 39 homers and led the AL in batting average, on base, slugging percentage and reeled in his 3rd of 4 Gold Gloves. Was he snubbed for the MVP that season? Don Baylor won with 36 homers, 139 RBI, and 22 stolen bases.
The Free Agency era coincided with Lynn's arrival in the big leagues, and the 5 year deal he signed expired following the 1980 season. Lynn was traded to his hometown team in southern California as the Red Sox did not think they could re-sign Lynn. Adjusting to life away from Fenway was difficult. Combined with nagging injuries and a labor strike, 1981 would be Lynn's worst season to date in his career, though he still made the All-star squad. His time in SoCal was marred by injury, though he did have several All-Star appearances, and played extremely well in the Angels' playoff games, earning ALCS MVP honors in 1982 in a losing effort. As he aged, Lynn had a slow but steady decline in production. He remained a valuable part of each club, however, given the high level of play he once had, even a significant drop off was better than league average. He would retire following the 1990 season, with 1960 hits, over 300 home runs and 1160 Runs batted in. He was a 9X all-Star and a 4X gold glove winner.
Fred Lynn's Rookie Card is 1975 Topps #622 shared with Ed Armbrister, Terry Whitfield and Tom Poquette. 

First Base - Mike Ivie 
San Diego (N.L.) 1971, 1974-77; San Francisco (N.L.) 1978-81; Houston (N.L.) 1981-82; Detroit (A.L.) 1982-83

Mike Ivie was the #1 Overall draft pick in 1970 by the Padres as a Catcher. Ivie made his MLB debut the next year, appearing in 6 games for San Diego as an 18 year old. It would be a few years toiling in the minor leagues and a position change before Ivie would get back to the bigs. Ivie would play both corner infield positions in his first full major league season, though he was primarily considered a first baseman. His 1975 rookie season was solid if unspectacular. In 111 games for the Padres, Ivie played First Base, Third Base, and still appeared behind the plate in a pinch.  He had a rough time at the hot corner, but was considered an excellent defender at first base. He also contributed 26 extra-base hits and drove in 46 runs. For Topps, this selection was forward-thinking. He would go on to much better production in subsequent seasons. He found the most success in his second stop, following a trade from San Diego to San Francisco in 1978. That season Ivie was a key component of the Giants' pennant drive, including a pair of pinch-hit grand slams. He had a career high .308 batting average for the Giants and that off-season was rumored to be included in a deal with the Twins for the services of Rod Carew - he would stay with the Giants, however, and had a breakout season. In 1979, Ivie crushed a career best 27 homers. It looked like he would be the heir apparent to Willie McCovey's role as the Giants' starting third baseman, but a freak accident with a hunting knife relieved Ivie of a chunk of one of his fingers. He struggled the following season and ended up trying to latch on with another club. He did have some success as a DH for Sparky Anderson in Detroit in 1982, but the bulk of his playing career had ended.

Mike Ivie's Rookie Card is 1972 Topps #457 shared with Derrel Thomas and Darcy Fast

Third Base - Larry Parrish
Rookie Card
Montreal (N.L.) 1974-81, Texas (A.L.) 1982-88, Boston (A.L.) 1988
Larry Parrish went undrafted out of high school and was signed by the Expos in 1972 after an appearance on the Florida Junior College All-Star team. He would be the Expos' starting 3rd baseman in 1975 at just 21 years old. He had a respectable rookie season with 10 homers and 65 RBI. He finished third in the NL ROY ballot behind John Montefusco and his teammate Gary Carter. Parrish would go on to be one of the best known players in Expos history, firmly entrenched at the hot corner for the rest of the 1970s. He's still the only Montreal hitter to have 3 different 3 HR games. Parrish reached his peak in Montreal in 1979, clubbing 30 homers and making his first All-Star squad. That year, he had a career high .308 batting average and even garnered enough votes to be 4th in the NL MVP race. He switched leagues in 1981 and spent the bulk of the 80s with the Texas Rangers as a corner outfielder and DH. He would surpass 100 RBI twice with Texas, including his 2nd and final All-Star season in 1987. Following the 1988 season, Parrish was signed to play in Japan, and hit a whopping 42 homers in his first season and added 28 more the next before retiring from pro ball for good.

Second Base - Jerry Remy
Rookie Card
California (A.L.) 1975-77, Boston (A.L.) 1978-84

Remy is now best known as the color commentator for Boston Red Sox games on NESN, a role he's held since 1988. He was a fairly good player in his day as well. Remy's rookie year, he stole 34 bases for the Angels and scored 82 runs. He was better known for his speed and defense than his bat, though he is one of a small handful of MLB players to record 6 hits in a game. Remy spent 3 seasons in California, swiping over 30 bases each year. He was even named as the Angels' team captain in his final season. His hometown team Boston Red Sox came calling and acquired Remy to be their starting second baseman in 1978, where he would spend the remainder of his playing career. In his first season in Boston, Remy was named to his only All-Star team. He would encounter several injuries in the latter part of his career, but he was considered among the best defensive players of his era.

Outfield - Dan Ford
Rookie Card
Minnesota (A.L.) 1975-78, California (A.L.) 1979-81, Baltimore (A.L.) 1982-85

"Disco Dan" Ford came to the Minnesota Twins after several seasons in the Oakland A's minor league system. His rookie campaign with the Twins included 21 doubles, 15 homers, and a .280 average. Ford was a bit of a free-swinger, and racked up more than twice as many Ks as walks in his career. He did hit for modest power numbers and was dependable in the field, usually playing in a corner. Like many of this year's rookie All-Star crop, Ford's best year was 1979. Now playing with the Angels, Ford scored 100 runs for the only time in his career, to go along with 101 runs batted in and 26 homers. He led the AL in sacrifice flies that season, and hit for the cycle against the Mariners that August. Ford was also a World Series Champion as a member of the 1983 Baltimore Orioles, hitting a homer in Game 3 against Steve Carlton, paving the way to a 3-2 Oriole win. Over 11 seasons, Ford had over 1100 career hits and had an OPS+ of 109, making him a better than average hitter for his era.

Outfield - Jim Rice
Hall of Fame
Boston (A.L.) 1974-1989

There was an embarrassment of riches in the Boston Red Sox lineup in 1975, featuring past, present and future MVPs. Yaz won in '67, Fred Lynn was the All-Everything that year, and Jim Rice was on his way to a Hall of Fame career that would include an MVP of his own coming in 1978. If Dan Ford was considered a free-swinger, he had nothing on Jim Rice. Rice would strikeout 122 times in his rookie season, starting a string of 4 straight 100 plus K seasons. It was a testament to his maturation as a player that he was able to reduce those strikeouts without sacrificing his prodigious power later in his career. By the end of his playing days, he'd have more seasons with 100 plus RBI than 100 plus strikeouts. His rookie year, however, he did both. He also hit 22 homers, 29 doubles, and scored 92 times. If not for Lynn's superb campaign, Rice may have been the ROY/MVP - he finished 2nd in ROY voting, 3rd in the MVP vote. If not for a broken hand suffered on September 21st, the Sox/Reds series may have had a different result. Yet that tremendous rookie season was nothing compared to 1978! Rice did lead the AL in strikeouts, but also in Hits, Triples, Homers, RBI, Slugging, OPS, OPS+, and total bases. He played all 163 games for Boston and scored 121 runs. He did all that in his age 25 season, then proceeded to have another decade of excellence for Boston. Left Field in Boston had been set from 1939 until 1989 from Ted Williams, to Yaz, to Jim Rice. Must have been nice to have that kind of stability! Rice retired with 1,249 Runs scored, 2,452 hits, 382 homers, and 1,452 RBI. He was voted by the BBWAA to the Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility.

Jim Rice's Rookie Card is 1975 Topps #616 shared with Dave Augustine, Pepe Mangual, and John Scott.

Left Handed Pitcher - Tom Underwood
Philadelphia (N.L.) 1974-77, St. Louis (N.L.) 1977, Toronto (A.L.) 1978-79, New York (A.L.) 1980-81, Oakland (A.L.) 1981-83, Baltimore (A.L.) 1984

Tom Underwood was a two-sport star in High School as the starting QB and the ace pitcher in Kokomo, Indiana. He was a second round selection by the Phillies in 1972 and rose quickly through the majors after a pair of sterling seasons in the low minors. His first full season in the majors was the most innings he'd ever pitched professionally, though that didn't seem to faze him. He had a winning record at 14-13, and struck out batters at a rate of 5 per 9 innings. He had 7 complete games and a pair of shutouts his rookie season. In 1979, Underwood was the Toronto Blue Jays' Opening Day starter, one season after being named the team's best starting pitcher by his teammates. His brother Pat made his major league debut in May of 1979, and the two brothers faced off as the opposing starters. Tom pitched a complete game, but surrendered a single run in the eighth, allowing his brother to earn his first MLB win. Later in his career with New York and Oakland, he would be used in both a starting role and as a late innings reliever. In 1980 for the Yankees, he recorded 2 saves and 2 complete game shutouts. He would finish his career with an ERA+ of 100, which is exactly league average. His overall record was 86 wins against 87 losses.

Tom Underwood's Rookie Card is 1975 Topps #615 shared with Hank Webb, Pat Darcy, and Dennis Leonard

Short Stop - Tom Veryzer
Detroit (A.L.) 1973-77, Cleveland (A.L.) 1978-81, New York (N.L.) 1982, Chicago (N.L.) 1983-84

The Tigers' First Round selection in 1971, he made a great first impression by being named that year's MVP of the Appalachian League. He got his first taste of MLB action in 1973, playing in 18 games and hitting .300 for the Tigers. His first full season came in 1975, and Veryzer had less than glowing offensive numbers. He did well enough, though, to amass over 100 hits and had career highs in Homers and runs batted in. While his minor league reputation was that of a defensive specialist, he was 4th in the AL in errors committed his rookie season. His next few seasons in Detroit saw similar results with a few minor injuries mixed in to limit his playing time even further. It was his play that allowed for Alan Trammell to get his shot and the rest is history. With Trammell on his way, the Tigers traded Veryzer to Cleveland, and he did have an improved season in 1978 at the plate and in the field. His defense was back to matching the reputation he garnered en route to the majors, and in 1979 he helped turn 90 double plays and had a sparkling .971 fielding percentage at SS. In 1981 with Cleveland, it was his fantastic play on a ground ball up the middle by Toronto's Alfredo Griffin that would turn out to be the first out of Len Barker's perfect game. He would later get a chance for post-season play as well, joining the Cubs for their 1984 NLCS run. He was hitless in his only plate appearance in the series, but was used primarily for defense at that point in his career, and he played in 3 of the Cubs' playoff games. 

Tom Veryzer's Rookie Card is 1975 Topps #623 shared with Phil Garner, Keith Hernandez, and Bob Sheldon

Catcher - Gary Carter
Hall of Famer
Montreal (N.L.) 1974-84, 1992; New York (N.L.) 1985-1989; San Francisco (N.L.) 1990; Los Angeles (N.L.) 1991 

We save possibly the best for last - Gary Carter was in a class by himself. Despite the reigning Topps All-Star Rookie Catcher Barry Foote being on the Expos roster, Carter had no problem proving he was the man, even though everyone called him "The Kid." He played sparingly in 1974 as a late season call-up, but hit .407 in that limited duty, including his first career home run, which came against Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. In 1975, Carter was a 21 year old All-Star and came in 2nd in ROY voting behind Giants' pitcher John Montefusco. Sharing the team's primary catcher duties with Barry Foote, Carter hit 17 home runs and 20 doubles. Montreal had hit the jackpot with Carter. In 1976, Gary was still splitting time with Foote and was getting additional playing time in Right Field. Unfortunately, it was during one of these excursions in the outfield that Carter collided with Pepe Mangual (from Jim Rice's Rookie card) and broke his thumb. 1976 would be Carter's worst season, finishing the season with a .219 average and just 6 homers. He returned in 1977 in a big way, crushing 30 homers and 29 doubles with a .284 average.
His best season? In 1982, he compiled his career high in average, on base, and slugging. He had 91 runs scored, and walked more often than he struck out. But the argument could be made that his best year was one with less impressive personal stats, but intangible impacts that led to the New York Mets' world Championship in 1986. He did lead the NL in one offensive category that year - he ground into 21 double plays. He also came up big late in the playoffs, including an NLCS game 5  game winner in the bottom of the 12th inning, 2 homers in Game 4 of the World Series at Fenway to even the series, and a rally starting single in Game 6 in the bottom of the 10th.
Beyond individual moments, Carter was widely regarded as a leader in the clubhouse, both in his later Expos years and especially in New York. His Mets manager Davey Johnson called him a "one-man scouting department" because of his knowledge of opposing hitters and pitchers, which he would share with his teammates and coaches before each series and throughout the season.
Carter waited 6 years of eligibility before being inducted into the Hall of Fame, though he was among the best catchers of all-time and still today ranks among the best offensive numbers for catchers ever. The 11 time All-Star won 3 Gold Gloves in Montreal, 5 Silver Slugger awards, and is 6th all-time with 298 homers as a catcher. He was on the receiving end of 127 shutouts and one No-hitter in his career. Only 5 catchers (Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Ray Schalk, and Mike Scioscia) have caught more shutouts in MLB history.

Gary Carter's Rookie Card is 1975 Topps #620 shared with Marc Hill, Dan Meyer, and Leon Roberts

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Cleaning Up at the Card Show

Now that the regular season is over, and the Twins are well out of any playoff conversation, the card show this weekend seemed almost glum. The temperature had dipped into the 30s and the sky was grey and gloomy, none of which helped matters.

I focused my efforts on missing Twins from 2018 releases, now less in demand then previous shows.

One vendor had a binder full of just Barry Sanders cards, and now I think I have football cards completely out of my system.

There was "a smattering of random crap" (the vendor's words, not mine) and I found several fun additions inside.

There's also a vendor who brings monster boxes of cheap vintage, and a big box of dollar cards. These were listed at a buck each, but by the time all was said and done, I got about 20% off the stack. The Mattingly rookie has a serious crease heading straight for his back, so that's probably why it was just a buck. Big Dave Winfield is a '77 OPC, if the severe off-center cut was not enough to reveal that.