Thursday, April 30, 2009

1976 Topps #57 - Phil Garner

"Scrap Iron." What a great nickname. Today we don't seem to have as many descriptive nicknames like "Sudden Sam" McDowell, "Charlie Hustle" (Pete Rose), and "Mr. October" (Reggie Jackson).
During his career Phil was traded for quite a few good players. The A's traded him to Pittsburgh after the 1976 season with a couple of other players for Tony Armas, Mitchell Page (who had a good 1977 season but didn't do much after that), Rick Langford, Doc Medich, and a couple of others. The Pirates traded Phil to the Astros in 1981 for Johnny Ray, who went on to start at 2B for the Pirates for several years.
Phil had a 16-year career as a player. His best season was in 1979 when he helped the "We Are Family" Pirates win the World Championship. He was an All-Star in 1976, 1980, and 1981.
Garner went on to manage in the major leagues for several years. He managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 1992-1999. The Brewers almost won the AL East in 1992 when Phil instituted a running game. He managed the Detroit Tigers in 2000 and 2001. He was fired by the Tigers in 2002 after they got off to an 0-6 start. He took over as manager of the Astros midway in the 2004 season and almost led them to the playoffs. Houston made the playoffs in 2005 and made their first (and only) World Series appearance. The Astros finished 2nd in the NL Central in 2006 but struggled in 2007 and Phil was let go after 131 games.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

1976 Topps #56 - Bob Tolan

Bob (aka Bobby) Tolan played outfield for five teams from 1965-1979. He also played a season in Japan in 1978. Tolan was probably best known for his stint with the Cincinnati Reds from 1969-1973. He played on four World Series teams (1967 and 1968 with the Cardinals, 1970 and 1972 with the Reds) and two other playoff teams (1973 Reds and 1976 Phillies).
I wonder what he would have been able to accomplish if he hadn't missed the 1971 season after he ruptured his achilles tendon playing basketball. It seems like he had a good career going for him but couldn't quite get it going again (except for '72) after that.
Although he's pictured as a Padre in this card, he didn't play for them in 1976. Bobby was released in October of 1975 and he caught on with the Phillies in April of 1976. There were a lot of these cards in the 1976 set. Topps probably had enough traded guys, free agents, and rookies to do a whole update set that year. They did a traded set, but they missed a lot of players who switched teams due to free agent signings, releases, and so forth.
All of his baseball cards picture him as "Bob Tolan," but I remember him as "Bobby Tolan." I wonder why that is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

1976 Topps #55 - Gaylord Perry

In 1976 Gaylord Perry was about 2/3 of the way through a career that seems like it lasted forever. He started his career with the SF Giants in 1962 and didn't hang 'em up until 1983. Perry was a five-time All Star who won 314 games in his career. He won a Cy Young Award in both leagues (1972 with Cleveland and 1978 with San Diego) and won 20 or more games five times.
I saw Perry at an old-timers charity game several years ago. He wore a generic jersey with the insignias of all eight teams he played for sewed on the front. It was good for a few laughs. Here is a good biography of Perry's career from the SABR Biography Project.

Monday, April 27, 2009

1976 Topps #54 - Dave Rader

Dave Rader was a catcher for five teams (mostly the Giants) from 1971-1980. He had f0ur at-bats with the Giants in 1971, then became their regular catcher in 1972. Dave hit .259 in 459 at bats and was second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting. He tailed off in 1973 (.229), then had two straight .291 seasons. He didn't have much power--his highest HR total was nine in 1973.

After batting .263 in 1976, Dave was traded with Mike Caldwell and John D'Acquisto to the St. Louis Cardinals for Willie Crawford, John Curtis and Vic Harris. After playing for the Cardinals in 1977, Dave did some bouncing around He played for the Cubs in 1978, the Phillies in 1979, and the Red Sox in 1980. Dave was with the Angels for the beginning of the 1981 season but was released on April 20 before getting into any games.

1976 Topps #53 - Mike Beard

Mike Beard had a short career as a reliever for the Atlanta Braves. Mike had a cup of coffee with the Braves in '74, appearing in six games. His best year was in 1975 when he went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA. He pitched in 34 games in 1975 and 30 games in 1976, but only pitched in four games in '77. He did pitch in 31 games for AA New Orleans in 1977, but had a 6.21 ERA and didn't pitch in pro ball again. That's all of the information I could find about him.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

1976 Topps #52 - Dave Chalk

I am currently doing a Strat-O-Matic replay of the 1976 season. One neat thing about the game is that there is an option to show a picture of the batter and pitcher as the game is playing. I'm using a photoset that someone made from the 1976 Topps set. It's funny how so many California Angels players have this bunting pose on their cards. I guess that's why the Angel offense was so anemic in that era. :)
Dave Chalk was an infielder for California, Texas, Oakland, and Kansas City from 1973-1981.
He was an All Star in 1974 and 1975 and had some pretty good years in the mid-seventies. Dave was traded from California to Texas for Bert Campaneris in May 1979 and then was traded to Oakland in June 1979. Dave signed with the Royals as a free agent in 1980 and appeared in game 2 of the World Series (he walked, stole second as part of a double steal, and scored a run). Chalk played for the Royals in 1981 and then called it a career.

1976 Topps #51 - Ray Burris

Ray Burris had a 15-year career with seven different teams, compiling a lifetime record of 108-134 with a 4.17 ERA. Although he played for a lot of teams, I always think of him as a Cub.
Ray had his best year in 1976. He went 15-13 with a 3.11 ERA in 36 starts and 249 innings with the Cubs. He had 15 wins in '75 and '76 and 14 wins in '77 but then he tapered off to a 7-13 record in 1978. Ray pitched for three different teams in 1979, mostly out of the bullpen. The Mets put him back in the starting rotation in 1980 and he had a 7-13 record.
Ray went to Montreal in 1980 and had a good season. He went 9-7 with a 3.05 ERA. Ray lost a game in the NLDS but he shut the Dodgers out in game 2 of the NLCS. He pitched eight innings in game 5 of that series and left with the game tied 1-1. Unfortunately, Rick Monday homered off of Steve Rogers in the 9th inning to propel Los Angeles to the World Series. I remember watching that game in English class and most of the students were pulling for the Dodgers :(
Burris stayed with the Expos as a swingman through the 1983 season then moved on the the Oakland A's. He had his last good year in 1984 (13-10, 3.15), then he moved around some more before finishing up with the Brewers in 1987. He had actually retired after the 1986 season but was serving as a pitching coach with Milwaukee and was pressed into service for a few games.
After his retirement Burris served in several capacities in the Brewers and Tigers organizations. He is now the pitching coach for the AA Erie Seawolves. I've seen several references to a "Ray Burris School of Baseball" in Fort Worth, Texas, but I haven't been able to find out any more about it. I don't know if it has to do with this Ray Burris or if it is even operating anymore.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

1976 Topps #50 - Fred Lynn

  • Off the top of my head, I can't think of many rookies that got off to a better start than Fred Lynn. He was the first player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year (1975). Fred led the league in runs, slugging percentage, and OPS, and came within two points of winning the batting title (he hit .331, Hal McRae hit .332, and George Brett won the title at .333). He also had a nice postseason in '75, batting .364 in the ALCS and .280 in the World Series. I was only eight years old in 1975 and I was rooting for the Reds in the World Series, but I thought he was fun to watch.
  • Fred had good years in 1976-1978, and then had a great year in 1979 (.333, 39 HR, 122 RBI, 4th in MVP voting). He was traded to California after the 1980 season and had a poor, injury-riddled year in 1981. He bounced back in 1982 with a good year (.299, 21 HR, 86 RBI). Fred stayed with the Angels through the 1984 season then signed with Baltimore as a free agent. He made $1 million plus per year from 1985-1988 but didn't produce as much as the Orioles would have liked. Lynn was acquired by the Detroit Tigers for their unsuccessful 1988 stretch run and he played with the Tigers through the 1989 season. Lynn finished up his career with the San Diego Padres in 1990.
  • Fred won four Gold Glove awards and was a nine-time All Star. Lynn was the 1982 ALCS MVP in a losing effort and was the 1983 All Star Game MVP. He hit a grand slam off of Atlee Hammaker -- the only grand slam in All Star Game history.
  • A few links:

Friday, April 24, 2009

1976 Topps #49 - Dave Duncan

In 1976 Dave Duncan was in the last year of an 11-year career as a light-hitting catcher for Oakland, Cleveland, and Baltimore. He was named to but did not play in the 1971 All-Star game. This card says 1972, but I think that's a mistake. His highest similarity scores are Ron Karkovice, Wes Westrum, Ed Hermann, and George Mitterwald. Dave did have a little bit of power--he had double-figure HR totals in six seasons.
After his playing career, Dave spent some time coaching with the Cleveland Indians and then was the Seattle pitching coach in 1982. He then joined Tony LaRussa and has coached with him ever since. This season Dave broke the record held by Galen Cisco for serving as a major league pitching coach. This is his 29th season in that capacity. Here is an article about Duncan's success as a pitching coach.
Dave has two sons (Shelley and Chris) who have played Major League Baseball.

1976 Topps #48 - ????

I don't have this card. I'm 44 cards (including traded) from completing the set. If anyone wants to do some trading, please take a look at my want list (linked on the right side of the page) and e-mail me at I have a lot of doubles from the late 70s and early 80s to trade. :)

1976 Topps #47 - Jesse Jefferson

Looking at Jesse Jefferson's won-lost records, he would have fit right in with the Mets teams of the early 1960s. He posted marks like 5-11, 9-17, 7-16, 2-10, 5-13, well you get the point. He had a lifetime record of 39-81 with a 4.81 ERA in nine seasons from 1973-1981.
Jefferson was originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and pitched for them until early 1975, when he was traded to the White Sox for Tony Muser. Jesse finished the 1975 season by starting 21 games for the White Sox and posting a 5-9, 5.10 record.
Jesse had a tough year in 1976. He went 2-5 with an ERA of 8.52 in 62.1 innings. He was exposed in the expansion draft and was taken by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was one of their main starters in 1977 and 1978 but posted winning percentages of .346 and .304. Jesse then became a swingman in 1979. He pitched for the Jays until his release in late 1980. The Pirates picked him up for the last few weeks of the 1980 season, where he got his only major league at-bat. He pitched for the Angels in 1981. He left as a free agent and tried to sign with the Orioles in 1982, but was released late in spring training and never pitched in the bigs again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

1976 Topps #46 - Los Angeles Dodgers

This was Walter Alston's last year of managing. He managed the Dodgers for 23 seasons. Under Alston's leadership the Dodgers won seven pennants and four world championships. The Dodgers finished in the second division only four times--7th in 1958, 7th in 1964, 8th out of 10 teams in 1967 and 1968, and 4th in the NL West in 1969. Los Angeles finished 2nd in the NL West every year from 1970-1976 except in '74 (when they won it). Walter had 2040 career wins as a manager, which currently places him 9th all-time. He was Manager of the Year six times.
Here is a 1966 article from Sports Illustrated about Alston.
A sometimes-overlooked part of the history of integration in baseball is when Alston managed Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe in the minors in 1946. Here is an article that talks a bit about that.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1976 Topps #45 - Boog Powell

Boog Powell had a long career (1961-1977) mostly with the Baltimore Orioles. He was the 1970 AL MVP and played on two world championship teams (1966 and 1970 Orioles). He was twice the AL Comeback Player of the Year (1966 and 1975) and although he was a league leader only once (slugging in 1964) was often right up there in HR, RBI, and slugging.
Powell was coming off of a good year in 1975, but struggled in 1976 as he hit only nine home runs. He was released during spring training in 1977 and hooked on with the Dodgers as a pinch hitter. With no DH in the National League and Steve Garvey at 1B, Boog didn't have much of a role and was released in August after batting only 53 times.
He now runs Boog's Barbecue near the ballpark in Baltimore.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

1976 Topps #44 - Doug Rader

Doug Rader played third base for Houston from 1967-1975. He went to San Diego before the 1976 season and played for the Padres for 1 1/2 years. He finished his career in 1977 with Toronto. He was released early in spring training in 1978 and didn't catch on with another team.
Rader managed in the minors from 1980-1982. He managed the Rangers from 1983 to 1985, the White Sox for two games in 1986, and the Angels from 1989-1991. Doug won five Gold Glove awards (1970-1974) and struck out over 100 times in eight seasons.
Rader was known to be quite a character when he played. My first memory of him was seeing a line drawing in a mid-70s baseball magazine of a naked (privates obscured) Doug Rader pulling some prank in the locker room.
Here is a 1989 Sports Illustrated article about Doug about 2/3 through the 1989 season (his first season managing the Angels). Things went sour for the Angels after the '89 season and Rader was let go toward the end of the '91 season.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

1976 Topps #43 - Paul Splittorff

Paul Splittorff spent a long career with one team (KC Royals) in the 70s and 80s. He was 166-143 with a 3.81 ERA from 1970-1984. Paul is still the all-time Royal leader in victories.
In 1976 Paul went 11-8 with a 3.97 ERA to help the Royals to their first division title. He was creditied with a victory in game 2 of the 1976 ALCS and also started and won game 1 of the 1977 ALCS.
After his retirement Paul became a color commentator on Royals TV broadcasts and a commenator for NCAA games. He recently announced that he would be taking some time off to recover from an off-season illness.

Friday, April 17, 2009

1976 Topps #42 - Barry Foote

Barry Foote was a backup catcher for much of his career. He started for the Expos from 1974-1976 but didn't hit a whole lot. Gary Carter beat him out for the starting job and Barry was traded to the Phillies on June 15, 1977. He was a backup in 1977 and 1978 and then was traded to the Cubs before the 1979 season. He had what was probably his best year in '79--he batted .254 and hit 16 home runs. He was slowed by back injuries in 1980 and Barry moved on to the Yankees in 1981 and finished his career with them in 1982. He struck out in his only World Series at bat in 1981.
Foote managed in the Yankees and Blue Jays organizations from 1984-1989. He then coached for the White Sox in 1990 and 1991 and for the Mets in 1992 and 1993.

1976 Topps #41 - Tippy Martinez

Until I saw this card, I had forgotten that Tippy Martinez played for anyone else besides the Orioles. He came up with theYankees in 1974 and shuttled between AAA and the big club. Tippy was traded to the Orioles with Rick Dempsey, Rudy May, Scott McGregor, and Dave Pagan for Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Freeman, Ellie Hendricks, Ken Holtzman, and Grant Jackson on June 15, 1976. Tippy would go on to pitch for the Orioles until the end of the 1986 season.
Martinez put together a good year with the Yankees and Orioles in 1976 (5-1, 2.33, 10 saves). He had several more good years until he started to fall off in 1985. Tippy spent some time in A ball in 1987 (probably rehabbing an injury) and was released in June 1987. He tried a comeback with the Twins in 1988 but was released after posting an 18.00 ERA in four innings. He finished his career with a 55-42 record, a 3.45 ERA, and 115 saves.
"Martinez may be best known for picking off three Toronto Blue Jays off first base in one inning during an August 24, 1983 game at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. The Orioles, having replaced both their starting catcher and his backup while rallying to tie the game in the ninth inning, entered the tenth with reserve infielder Lenn Sakata in the game at catcher. Three consecutive Blue Jays hitters reached first base and each one, thinking it would be easy to steal a base on Sakata, took a big lead. Martinez picked off all three baserunners and then became the winning pitcher when the Orioles won the game on Sakata's home run in the bottom of the tenth."(wikipedia article). Here is an article about the game.
Martinez is currently the pitching coach for the York Revolution of the Atlantic League.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

1976 Topps #40 - Dave Kingman

Dave Kingman hit a lot of home runs and had a lot of whiffs for seven teams from 1971-1988. He hit 442 homers but had a lifetime average of only .236. He also finished his career fourth all-time (at the time) in strikeouts with 1816. He was an all-star three times (1976, 1979, 1980).
Dave hit 37 home runs in 1976 for the Mets. He hit a lot more for me in a Strat-O-Matic league I was in (but he killed me on defense).
In 1977 he had the dubious distinction of playing for a team in all four divisions as he played for the Mets, Padres, Angels, and Yankees. Dave signed as a free-agent with the Cubs after the 1977 season and played four seasons for them. His best year was in 1979 when he hit 48 homers and batted .288.
Dave finished his career as a DH for Oakland in 1986. He hit 35 homers that year. Kingman signed with the Giants on July 15, 1987 but he didn't play for them that year. He played 20 games for the AAA Phoenix Firebirds but hit only .203 with 2 homers.
Dave is enjoying a quiet retirement near Lake Tahoe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

1976 Topps #39 - Pete Broberg

Pete Broberg compiled a 41-71 (.366 pct) lifetime record with a 4.62 ERA for four teams. Pete started with the Senators/Rangers and pitched there from 1971-1973. He spent 1974 in the minors and then was traded to Milwaukee. His best year was in 1975 when he went 14-16 with a 4.13 ERA for the Brewers. He dropped to 1-7, 4.97 in 1976 and then was selected by the Mariners in the expansion draft. He was traded to the Cubs and went 1-2, 4.75 as a reliever. He was then traded to the A's in 1978 where he went 10-12, 4.62.
In 1979, Broberg signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who gave him a choice of going to Triple-A or being released. "I went home," Broberg said. "They still had to pay me, and the Dodgers paid my way through law school." Broberg went on to be a lawyer and now owns his own firm in West Palm Beach." (link here)

1976 Topps #38 - Garry Maddox

"Two-thirds of the Earth is covered with water, the other one third is covered by Garry Maddox" - the late Harry Kalas
(also attributed to Ralph Kiner)
Garry had his best year in 1976 as he helped the Phillies to their first division title and first playoff appearance in 26 years. He won the second of seven straight Gold Glove Awards, batted .330, and was fifth in MVP voting. The Phillies wouldn't make it to the World Series until 1980, but they had some great teams in the late 70s and early 80s.
Garry originally came up with the Giants. The Giants really had an embarassment of riches in the outfield during the seventies. They also came up with Gary Mathews, Dave Kingman, Jack Clark, George Foster, and Bobby Bonds. Maddox was traded to the Phillies in 1975 for Willie Montanez, who was supposed to replace Willie McCovey at first base. That didn't work out well for the Giants, as Montanez was traded the next season.
Garry continued to be a good player for the Phillies through the 1984 season. He didn't have a good year in 1985 and was released after the season. He came back to the Phils for a few games in 1986 and then retired.
Garry went back and finished his degree after his playing days and is now a successful businessman in Philadelphia.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

1976 Topps #37 - John Hiller

John Hiller was one of those rare relievers who spent his entire career (1965-1980) with the same team. I think the most interesting stat line for Hiller was his 1974 season. He went 17-14 without starting a single game. He pitched 150 innings in relief. That's a lot of decisions for a reliever! He was in the top ten in the AL Cy Young voting in both 1973 and 1974.
John had a heart attack in January 1971 and missed the entire '71 season. He was brought back as a coach and batting practice pitcher in 1972 and was signed as a player in July 1972. He appeared in 24 games and beat the Milwaukee Brewers in a pivotal game in the last weekend of the season to help the Tigers to the AL East title. He was the winning pitcher in game 4 of the ALCS.
John had a great season for a reliever in 1973. His record was 10-5, 1.44, 38 saves. The 38 saves set an AL record that would stand for several years.
He continued to be an effective reliever and spot starter until the end of his career in 1980.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

1976 Topps #36 - Frank Taveras

Frank Taveras was Pittsburgh's starting shortstop for a few years in the mid-late seventies. He didn't hit much, but he stole a lot of bases. He was traded to the Mets early in the 1979 season for Tim Foli, so he missed out on being on a World Championship team. The trade also allowed Frank to lead the NL in games played with 164. Every season he played, Frank had a fielding percentage below league average. Frank finished his career as a second baseman with the Montreal Expos in 1982.

Friday, April 10, 2009

1976 Topps #35 - Tony Oliva

Tony was a Cuban-born outfielder who played his entire career (1962-1976) with the Minnesota Twins. He struggled with knee injuries in the last five years of his career -- he was mostly limited to playing DH during this time. Tony was the 1964 AL Rookie of the Year, was selected to eight All Star teams, won one Gold Glove, and had a lifetime .304 batting average. He won three AL batting crowns, led the league in hits five times, and was runner-up for MVP twice (1965 and 1970). Tony was the first DH to hit a home run.
Tony's web site has a page that makes a case for his election to the Hall of Fame. I never saw him play, so I don't know about his HOF qualifications. He had some great stats from 1964-1971. If he gets in, it would be using about the same criteria that got Kirby Puckett and Bruce Sutter in. Here is a good year-to-year rundown on Oliva's career.
Tony was a player-coach in the 1976 season and only batted 123 times.
This card says that his date of birth was 7/20/1940, but his actual DOB was 7/20/1938. He used his brother's birth certificate to get into the country.

1976 Topps #34 - Mike Garman

Mike Garman pitched mostly out of the bullpen for five teams from 1969-1978. He spent a lot of time in the minors in the Red Sox organization from 1967-1972, then stuck with the big club in 1973. After the 1973 season he was traded by the Boston Red Sox with John Curtis and Lynn McGlothen to the St. Louis Cardinals for Reggie Cleveland, Terry Hughes and Diego Segui.
Mike went 7-2 and 3-8 in two years with the Cardinals (with ERAs under 3.00 both years) then went to the Cubs for the 1976 season in a trade for Don Kessinger. He went 2-4, 4.95 with the Cubs, then was traded with Rick Monday to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jeff Albert (minors), Bill Buckner and Ivan DeJesus.
Mike had a good year with the Dodgers in 1977 (4-4, 2.73, 12 saves) but he had a slow start in 1978 and was traded to the Montreal Expos in May. He finished the year with the Expos and then was released in spring training of 1979. He pitched in AAA in 1979 and then hung 'em up.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

1976 Topps #33 - Bill North

Bill North was the CF for two World Championships with the A's in 1973 and 1974. He started his career with the Cubs in 1971 and was traded to the A's before the '73 season for Bob Locker. He became a stolen base machine, leading the AL in 1974 and 1976. He also led the AL three times and the NL once in caught stealing.
He was a pretty good on-base leadoff-type hitter until 1977, when he and the A's had a bad year. Bill was traded to the Dodgers in May 1978 for Glenn Burke. He played for the 1978 NL Champs and then went to the Giants as a free agent. He bounced back in 1979 with 58 stolen bases and 96 walks. He had a pretty good year in 1980, but he hit only.221 in 1981 and was released in August. Bill tried to latch on with the Padres in 1982 but he didn't make the team and his career was over at the age of 33.
Bill was involved in several clubhouse fights during his career, and was arrested for coke possession in 1977. Information can be found at this biography site.
Bill North is now a financial planner in Kirkland, Washington.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

1976 Topps #32 - Danny Frisella

The thing I remember the most about Danny Frisella is that he died in a dune buggy accident on January 1, 1977 outside of Phoenix. His obituary is here. His ashes were scattered on his duck hunting property near Oroville, CA. It was kind of creepy getting his 1977 card in a pack.
Danny was a solid reliever for 10 years, compiling a record of 34-40 with a 3.34 ERA and 57 saves. Danny didn't pitch for the Padres in 1976. He started the year with the Cardinals and finished with the Brewers. He had one of his better seasons in 1976 (5-2, 10 saves, 3.12 ERA). His best season was probably with the Mets in 1971 (8-5, 1.99, 12 saves).