Tuesday, June 30, 2009

1976 Topps #128 - Ken Griffey

  • Ken Griffey was a speedy, good-hitting right fielder for some of the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s. Injuries took away his speed later in his career. Griffey played in the majors from 1973-1991.
  • Griffey started in the Cincinnati Reds system in 1969. He steadily moved up the system and put up better and better numbers as the years went by. Ken made his debut on August 25, 1973.
  • He batted .384 in 86 at bats in '73. Ken started the 1974 season with the Reds but was sent back to AAA Indianapolis after starting with a .158 batting average. Griffey batted .333 in 43 games at Indanapolis and was brought back up in July 1974. He finished the 1974 season with a .251 batting average, which would be his lowest average until 1988.
  • Ken was given the starting right field job in 1975 and batted .305 with 95 runs scored. He batted .333 in the National League Championship Series and .269 in the World Series.
  • Griffey had his best season in 1976. He batted .336, which was second to Bill Madlock. Ken decided to sit out the last game of the season to protect his lead, but when he heard that Madlock went 4 for 4 Ken entered the game and went 0 for 2. Griffey made the NL All Star team and was 8th in MVP voting in '76.
  • He made the All Star team again in 1977 as he batted .318 and had a career-high 117 runs scored. Ken slipped a bit in 1978 and batted .288. He must have been injured in 1979 as he played in only 95 games (but he batted .316).
  • Ken was an All Star for the last time in 1980 (he was the MVP of the game). He batted .294 and was in double figures in 2B, 3B, and HR. Griffey batted .311 in 1981, then was traded to the New York Yankees for minor league pitcher Brian Ryder and Freddie Toliver.
  • Griffey played for the Yankees from 1982 until he was traded to the Atlanta Braves on June 30, 1986. He didn't play more than 127 games in any of those seasons. Ken batted .277, .306, .273, .274, and .303 in his seasons with the Yankees. Ken finished the 1986 season with the Braves (.308 in 80 games), then batted .286 in 399 AB in 1987. That was his last season as a full-time player.
  • Ken was granted free agency after the '87 season but resigned with the Braves. Ken started the 1988 season batting .249 and he was released in July 1988. Griffey signed with the Cincinnati Reds and batted .280 in 50 at bats to finish the season. Ken played for the Reds in 1989 but batted only .263. He started 1990 with the Reds as a pinch hitter and occasional outfielder. Griffey was released on August 24 after batting .206 in 63 at bats. Ken signed with the Seattle Mariners and was able to play with his son (a guy named Ken Griffey Jr.). He hit back-to-back homers with his son on September 14, 1990. Coming to Seattle was a big help to Griffey as he batted .377 for the rest of the season. Ken played for the Mariners again in 1991 (.282 in 85 at bats) and then retired.
  • Ken is now a scout and a special consultant to the Cincinnati Reds and gives motivational speeches about parenting and teamwork.
  • It was always a good thing to get a Red in a pack of cards, whether it was a big name like Bench, a good player like Griffey, or even a Plummer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thanks again Captain Canuck

The Captain (Waxaholic) sent me some Giants want list stuff from my Giants blog. Thanks for sending the goodies and a return package is on the way! :)

If anyone else has anything on my Giants want list, please let me know and hopefully we can arrange a trade of some sort. I have a lofty goal of collecting as many Giants team sets as possible.

1976 Topps #127 - Larvell Blanks

  • Larvell "Sugar Bear" Blanks was a utility infielder in the majors from 1972-1980.
  • Blanks started in 1969 in the Atlanta Braves organization. As he moved up the ladder, it took two years for him to show that he could play at each level. In 1971 he batted .222 for AA Savannah and he raised his average to .284 in 1972. In 1973 he batted .249 for AAA Richmond and he improved to .270 in Richmond in 1974.
  • Larvell played a little bit in the majors from 1972-1974, but he didn't play a full season for Atlanta until 1975. He started at shortstop that year and batted .234 in 471 at bats. After the season Blanks was traded twice. He first was traded by the Braves with Ralph Garr to the Chicago White Sox for Ken Henderson, Ozzie Osborn (what an interesting name for a ballplayer) and Dick Ruthven. The same day the White Sox traded him to the Cleveland Indians for Jack Brohamer.
  • Blanks had a couple of pretty good years for the Indians in 1976 and 1977. He batted .280 in 328 at bats in '76 and .286 in 322 at bats in '77. Larvell didn't do as well in 1978 (.254 in 193 at bats) and was traded with Jim Kern to the Texas Rangers for Len Barker and Bobby Bonds.
  • Larvell batted .200 in 120 at bats for the Rangers in 1979 and then was traded back to the Braves after the season. He batted .204 in 221 at bats in 1980 and was released by the Braves on August 8. On May 29, 1980, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Bob Welch pitched a 3–0 one-hitter against the Braves, facing the minimum 27 batters. The only Atlanta base runner was Blanks, who singled in the 4th inning and was retired on a double play.
  • Blanks signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent before the 1980 season but didn't make the team and hung 'em up.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

1976 Topps #126 - Tom Dettore

  • Tom Dettore's last year as a major league pitcher was 1976. He pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973 and for the Chicago Cubs from 1974 to 1976. He was a good-sized pitcher (6'4", 200 lbs).
  • Tom started in the Pittsburgh organization in 1968. He had a slow, steady progression through the Pirate system. Dettore finally made it to the majors at the end of the 1973 season after going 9-5 with a 2.16 ERA for AAA Charleston. Tom went 0-1 with a 5.96 ERA in 13 games for the Pirates in 1973.
  • After the '73 season Dettore was traded to the Cubs for Paul Popovich. Tom split the next two seasons between the Cubs and AAA Wichita. In 1974 Dettore was 3-5 with a 4.18 ERA in 16 games (9 starts) for the Cubs. In 1975 Tom was 5-4 with a 5.38 ERA as a reliever and spot starter. He was second in the NL with nine hit batsmen.
  • Tom pitched in only four games (0-1, 10.29) for the Cubs in 1976. He was released by the Cubs on April 22. Dettore signed with the San Diego Padres on April 29 and was assigned to AAA Hawaii. He had a pretty decent season in Hawaii (11-15, 4.33) but didn't make it back to the majors. Tom spent the 1977 season with AAA New Orleans (St. Louis Cards organization) and then retired.
  • Dettore has been coaching at all minor league levels since his retirement. Tom is now the pitching coach for the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (AA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners) in the Southern League.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

1976 Topps #125 - Don Baylor

  • Don Baylor played major league baseball for several teams from 1970 to 1988. He started out in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Don started off as an 18 year old in the rookie league in 1967. In just about every stop (except for a premature 1968 AAA stint when he was 19) Don hit over .300. His power started to develop in 1970--Don hit over 20 homers for AAA Rochester both in 1970 and 1971.
  • Baylor had September call-ups in 1970 and 1971. He came up to the big leagues to stay in 1972. Don batted .253 in 104 games and also hit 11 home runs -- the first of 15 seasons he would be in double figures in HR. Baylor stole 24 bases, which was the first of eight straight seasons of 20 or more stolen bases.
  • Don batted .286 with 11 homers in 118 games in 1973. He had similar seasons in 1974 and 1975, but he played in more games in those two years. Right before the 1976 season Baylor was traded with Mike Torrez to the Oakland A's in a big trade that sent Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman to the Orioles. Don played in 157 games for the A's in 1976 and batted .247 with 15 homers and a career-high 52 stolen bases.
  • After the 1976 season Baylor became a free agent and signed with the California Angels. Don batted .251 with 25 homers in 1977, but improved his power output in 1978 with 34 home runs.
  • Everything came together for Don Baylor in 1979. He was selected to the AL All Star Team and was the Most Valuable Player. Don batted .296 with 36 home runs and a league-leading 139 RBI. He also led the league with 120 runs scored. Baylor batted only .188 in the American League Championship against his old Baltimore team.
  • Baylor was injured in 1980 and played in only 90 games. He batted .250 and hit only five home runs. Don batted .239 with 17 homers in the strike-shortened 1981 season. In 1982 the Angels won the AL West. Don helped by batting .263 with 24 homers and 93 RBI.
  • After the 1982 season he left as a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees. He spent three seasons (mostly as a DH) with the Yankees and had home run totals of 21, 27, and 23. Don was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Easler before the 1986 season. Baylor hit 31 homers for the Red Sox in 1986 and he made it to his first World Series. Don played for the Red Sox for most of the 1987 season. The Minnesota Twins traded for him for their stretch run and he made it to another World Series. The Twins released him after the season and Baylor signed with the Oakland A's for his final season. He made it to the World Series again, making him the only major leaguer to appear in a World Series in three consecutive years for three different teams.
  • Don led the league in hit by pitches eight times, and he retired with the 4th most hit by pitches of all time (267). He hit 338 home runs in his career.
  • Baylor served as the hitting coach of the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals after his playing career. He became the manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993 and managed them through the 1998 season. The Rockies made the playoffs in 1995 and Baylor won the Manager of the Year award.
  • Don was the hitting coach of the Atlanta Braves in 1999 and then he was named the manager of the Chicago Cubs in 2000. He managed the Cubs through the 2002 season and then was the bench coach for the New York Mets in 2003 and 2004 and the hitting coach of the Seattle Mariners in 2005. Don is now the hitting coach for the Rockies. Here is an October 2008 article from the New York Times about Baylor's future aspirations.
  • Merv Rettenmund, California coach, on weak-throwing star, Don Baylor: "He's the guts of the Angels, our triple threat. He can hit, run and lob." (quoted in Sports Illustrated April 1980)

Friday, June 26, 2009

1976 Topps #124 - Doug Rau

  • Doug Rau pitched in the majors from 1972-1979 (LA Dodgers) and 1981 (California Angels). One thing Rau is famous for is an argument he got into with Mr. Lasorda in game 4 of the 1977 World Series. Lasorda was taking him out of the game and they got into it on the pitcher's mound. Lasorda was wearing a mike and lots of nasties were recorded. An mp3 of the exchange is on the site that I linked above.
  • Doug started in the Dodgers minor league system and pitched very well in the lower classifications. In 1972 he went 14-3 with a 3.51 ERA (good ERA for the PCL) for the AAA Albuquerque Dukes and earned a September call up. Rau went 2-2 with a 2.20 ERA in 7 games for the Dodgers at the end of the 1972 season. In 1973 Doug was mostly used as a reliever (31 games, 4-2, 3.96 ERA).
  • From 1974-1978 Rau had a run of five seasons of 30 or more starts. His highest ERA during that string was in 1974 (3.72) and his lowest ERA was in 1976 (2.57). Doug had victory totals of 13, 15, 16, 14, and 15. He didn't strike out many batters, but he didn't walk many of them either. Rau didn't have as much luck in the postseason (lifetime 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA).
  • In 1979 the wheels fell off for Rau (as they did for the whole Dodger team). He was 1-5 with a 5.30 ERA in 11 starts. His last game for the Dodgers was on June 2, 1979. Doug pitched a little for AA San Antonio in 1980 but was rocked pretty hard (0-1, 5.40 ERA, 11.4 hits per 9 innings, 3.0 HR per 9 innings). He was released by the Dodgers before the 1981 season.
  • Doug signed with the California Angels as a free agent on April 22, 1981. He made three starts for the Angels in May and went 1-2 with an 8.71 ERA. Rau pitched in the minors for the rest of the year and then was released in September 1981.
  • When Rick Monday made his saving grab of the American flag in Dodger Stadium in 1976, he handed it to Doug Rau.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

1976 Topps #123 - Walt Williams

  • Walt Williams played for four teams from 1964-1975. By the time this card came out, Walt was playing in Japan for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He played in Japan in 1976 and 1977.
  • Williams started off in the Houston Colt .45s organization. He batted nine times without a hit in 1964. Walt was waived and picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals. He then spent the next three seasons in the Cardinals organization, where he posted batting averages of .318, .330, and .330.
  • Walt was traded before the 1967 season to the Chicago White Sox. He batted .240 in 104 for the White Sox in 1967. He batted .241 in 63 games for the White Sox in 1968.
  • Williams got a chance to play everyday and made the most of it in 1969. He batted .304 in 471 at bats but with little power (3 HR). Walt regressed a bit in 1970, batting .251 in 315 at bats. He bounced back in 1971 (.294 and a career-high 8 HR in 361 at bats) but took another step back in 1972 (.249 in 221 at bats).
  • After the 1972 season Williams was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Eddie Leon. Walt batted .289 with 8 HR in 350 at bats for the Indians in 1973.
  • Before the 1974 season Williams was involved in a 3-team trade that netted the Indians Jim Perry. Walt ended up with the New York Yankees, where he played the final two years of his big league career. He didn't play much in 1974 (.113 in 53 at bats) but played a bit more in 1975 (.281 in 185 at bats).
  • Walt had the nickname "No Neck" due to his height (5'6") and a muscular upper torso. The first time I heard of Williams was in the classic The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book by Brendan C. Boyd & Fred C. Harris. Next to his card was the line, "Yes, Virginia, Walt Williams had no neck. And his legs weren't particularly long, either." I loved that book and I still read it once every few years.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

1976 Topps #122 - Mike Cosgrove

  • Mike Cosgrove was a left-handed pitcher for the Houston Astros from 1972-1976. He spent time in the minors in every season except for 1976. Mike started in A ball in 1970 when he was 19 years old. He pitched well in all of his stops. A record of 6-2 and an ERA of 2.62 at AAA Oklahoma City was good enough to earn him a September call-up in 1972. Mike went 0-1 with a 4.61 ERA in 7 games for the Astros in 1972.
  • Cosgrove made the team out of spring training, but spent most of the season in AAA Denver in 1973. His ERA ballooned to 6.09 (7-11 in 22 starts) but some of that is probably due to the Pacific Coast League being more of a hitter's league. He was used as a reliever by the Astros and had a 1-1 record with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings.
  • Mike started the 1974 season in the minors but was called up in mid-May and spent the rest of the season in Houston. Cosgrove was 7-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 1974. He appeared in 45 games and started 17 of those games.
  • Cosgrove probaby had his best season in 1975. He was in the minors from mid-April to mid-June, but still had a record of 1-2 with a 3.33 ERA in 32 games (3 starts). Mike spent all of 1976 in Houston but his stats fell off (he developed arm trouble after being converted to a starter). He only pitched three times in July, twice in August, and once in September. Mike's record was 3-4 with a 5.52 ERA in 22 games (16 starts).
  • Mike spent the 1977 season in the minors then was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the Rule 5 draft. He somehow ended up with the Toronto Blue Jays and then was traded from the Blue Jays to the California Angels for Mickey Scott on March 23, 1978. There aren't any stats for Mike after the 1977 season, so he probably didn't make the Angels club.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1976 Topps #121 - Tony Solaita

  • Tony Solaita is the only major league baseball player to have come from American Samoa. He was known for big power numbers in the minor leagues, but he wasn't able to do as much in the majors.
  • Tony started in the Yankees farm system in 1965. In 1968 he hit 49 home runs for class A High Point-Thomasville. Soliata was voted Topps Minor League Player of the Year. He struck out in his only major league at bat in 1968. Tony did impress some people by winning a home run hitting contest at Yankee Stadium against Mickey Mantle, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith, Ken Harrelson, and Rocky Colavito.
  • In 1969 Soliata struggled at AAA. He played for the Yankees AAA team (Syracuse) and then played for the White Sox' AAA team (Tucson). He then played well for the White Sox' AA team (Columbus), hitting 19 HR in 191 at bats. He was on loan th the White Sox for much of the season.
  • Tony played in the Yankee chain through the 1972 season then was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirate organization. He spent 1973 in AAA Charleston, where he batted .288 with 23 HR.
  • After the 1973 season Soliata was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the Rule 5 draft. He finally made it back to the majors in 1974. Tony played in 96 games as a 1B/DH and batted .268 with 7 HR.
  • Soliata had his best season in 1975. He played in 93 games and batted .260 (very similar to '74), but he also hit 16 HR (more than double the number hit in '74). Tony got off to a slow start in 1976 (.235 in 68 AB with 0 HR) and was waived in July. The California Angels claimed him and Tony performed better (.270, 9 HR in 215 AB).
  • Tony had his only season of over 100 games played in 1977. He played in 110 games and batted .241 with 14 HR in 324 AB. Soliata's playing time decreased in 1978 and he batted .223 in 94 at bats. He was purchased by the Montreal Expos after the season, but didn't get much playing time in Montreal in 1979. Tony batted .286 in 42 at bats and was traded to Toronto in the middle of the season for Dyar Miller. He batted .265 in 102 at bats for the Blue Jays and then was granted free agency.
  • Soliata signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters and played there for four years. He averaged almost 40 HR a year in Japan and retired after the 1983 season.
  • Tony was shot and killed in a dispute over a land transaction in American Samoa on 10 February 1990. Here is a link to a good SABR biography.

Monday, June 22, 2009

1976 Topps #120 - Rusty Staub

  • Rusty Staub enjoyed a very long career (23 years) in major league baseball. He started in 1962 in class B Durham as an 18-year-old first baseman and hit 23 home runs. Rusty was promoted all the way to the Houston Colt .45s in 1963 and played in 150 games. He batted .224 and was sent back to the minors for a couple of months after batting .216 in 292 at bats in the beginning of 1964. Staub batted .314 with 20 homers in half a season in AAA Oklahoma City and was promoted to the majors to stay in 1965.
  • Staub batted .256 in 131 games in 1965. That would be his lowest batting average until 1979. Most of the time he would bat between .275 and .300 with double figure home run totals and a pretty good number of doubles. Rusty appeared in the first of six All Star games in 1967. That was one of his better years -- he batted .333 in 149 games and led the AL in doubles with 44.
  • Rusty was traded to the Montreal Expos before the 1969 season. Donn Clendennon refused to report to the Astros, so the Expos had to rework the trade in order to make it happen. Staub was the expansion team's first star and was very popular. He learned the French language, and his #10 was the first one retired by the Expos.
  • Staub spent three seasons in his first stint in Montreal, making the NL All Star team all three years. Rusty was traded to the New York Mets after the 1972 season for Ken Singleton, Mike Jorgensen, and Tim Foli. He played in only 66 games in 1973, but he got a few votes in the MVP balloting. Rusty played really well for the Mets in the postseason. He hit three home runs in the NL Championship series and batted .423 in the World Series. In 1975 he was the first Met to surpass 100 RBI (he had 105).
  • Before the 1976 season, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers with pitcher Bill Laxton for pitcher Mickey Lolich and outfielder Billy Baldwin. Rusty was voted to start the 1976 AL All Star game in RF. He went 2 for 2 in that game. Staub was the first person to play 162 games exclusively as a DH in 1978. He batted .273 with 24 HR and 121 RBI and was 5th in MVP voting that season.
  • Staub held out to start the 1979 season and was traded back to Montreal in July. It was pretty much a lost season for Staub as he only batted .244 with 12 homers for both teams.
  • Before the 1980 season Staub was traded to the Texas Rangers for Chris Smith and LaRue Washington (who are they???). Rusty played in 109 games for the Rangers and batted .300 with 23 doubles and 9 homers. He was granted free agency after the season. Staub signed with the Mets, where he would finish his career.
  • Staub was a player-coach for the Mets in 1982. In 1983 he tied an NL record with eight straight pinch hits and tied the record for most RBI as a pinch hitter (25).
  • Staub retired at the end of the 1985 season with 2716 hits and 299 home runs. He was the only one to ever have over 500 hits for four different teams.
  • Staub had opened Rusty's -- a cajun-styled restaurant on the upper east side of Manhattan -- in the 1970s. It closed in the 1980s because of rising rent costs and an inability to control costs (Rusty wasn't around all the time). He worked as a television announcer for Mets games.
  • Rusty established the Rusty Staub Foundation to do charitable works and in 1986 he founded the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund. In its first 15 years it raised and distributed $11 million to families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. Since 9/11 the organization has received over $112 million in contributions.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

1976 Topps #119 - Checklist 1-132

What's there to say? It's a checklist.

I wonder what it was like to collect baseball cards in series. I started collecting in 1974. By that time, Topps was putting out all of the cards at once instead of in series.

Thanks Dad

My father bought me my first pack of baseball cards in 1974 when I was 7 years old. I remember getting one of those Hank Aaron Special cards in that first pack. My dad told me to keep my cards in good shape because they would be worth something someday. I was little so I didn't treat the cards as well as he would have liked, but I am very thankful to him for introducing me to baseball and to card collecting.

I remember one year he bought a wax box of baseball cards and a box of Wacky Packages. If I met certain goals (doing my chores, behaving in school, etc.), he would give me some packs. It was a nice incentive for me to try to be a good kid.

He also made me a storage box for me to keep my cards. He took a long box from a radio controlled airplane that he was working on and he made 24 sections for teams. He used balsa wood to separate each team, and he labeled each section (including "Dodgers--P.U."). Unfortunately the box became obsolete when expansion came around in 1977, and there was no section for checklists/leader cards, but I loved that box and carried it around with me everywhere.

For my 8th grade graduation in 1980, my dad got me a card lot of 200 different 1960 cards. I could have picked any year, but I liked that particular design. Since then I've been working on completing that set. I'm about 70 cards away. One of these days I'll get there! :)

Thanks again, Dad. I hope you're having a great Father's day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

1976 Topps #118 - Boston Red Sox

  • Who is that guy in the circle?
  • Darrell Johnson was an infielder for six years between 1952 and 1962. After his playing career he coached for the Orioles and Red Sox and then managed in the Boston farm system. Darrell managed the Red Sox from 1974 to the middle of the 1976 season. He guided the Sox to within a game of the World Championship in 1975 but was fired in 1976 after the Red Sox got off to a slow start.
  • Johnson managed the expansion Seattle Mariners from 1977-1980 and managed the Texas Rangers in 1982. Darrell coached some more and did some scouting for the New York Mets. He died of leukemia in 2004.

Friday, June 19, 2009

1976 Topps #117 - Mike Jorgensen

  • Mike Jorgensen was a first baseman and outfielder for several teams from 1968-1985. He started in A-ball as a 17-year-old in 1966 and spent most of the next few seasons in the minors. Mike had 14 at bats in 1968 and was in the minors for the 1969 season. He stayed in the bigs in 1970 but only batted 87 times and had a .195 batting average. Mike spent half a season in Tidewater in 1971. He batted .342 and earned a call back to the Mets. He batted .220 in 118 at bats for the Mets in 1971.
  • On April 5, 1972 Mike was traded to the Montreal Expos along with Ken Singleton and Tim Foli for Rusty Staub. Jorgensen started to play more regularly and began to produce. In 1973 he batted .231 with 13 homers. He batted .230 in 1974 and won a Gold Glove at first base. Mike's best season was probably 1974. Although he only batted 366 times, he hit 11 homers, walked 70 times, and batted .310. Jorgensen had another good year in 1975 -- he batted .261, hit 18 homers, and walked 79 times. Mike slipped in 1976 (.254 with only six homers) and after a slow start in 1977 was dealt to the Oakland A's.
  • Mike batted .246 in 203 at bats for the A's and left as a free agent after the season. He signed with the Texas Rangers and played with them for two seasons. Jorgensen didn't do much with the Rangers (.196 in 1978 and .223 in 1979) and was traded to the Mets after the '79 season. Mike suffered a bad beaning on May 28, 1979 that kept him out of the lineup for a month. He continued to suffer from headaches and after further examination a small blood clot that could have killed him was found.
  • Jorgensen played with the Mets from 1980 to the middle of 1983. By this time he was a part-time 1B/OF and batted around .250 most of the time. The Atlanta Braves purchased Jorgensen from the Mets on June 15, 1983. Mike got very little playing time (mostly pinch-hitting appearances and late-inning defensive stints) and was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals on June 15, 1984 in a trade that netted the Braves Ken Oberkfell. Mike played for the Cards in 1984 and 1985 then retired.
  • Mike managed in the Cardinals farm system from 1986-1989. He served in other capacities and eventually became director of player development. Jorgensen was the interim manager after the Cards fired Joe Torre in mid 1995. The Cardinals were 41-55 under Mike. Tony LaRussa took over as manager in 1996 and Mike went back to his position as director of player development. Here is a book excerpt about Mike (Where Have You Gone? by Rob Rains).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

1976 Topps #116 - Charlie Moore

  • Charlie Moore played for the Milwaukee Brewers (1973-1986) and the Toronto Blue Jays (1987).
  • Charlie started as an 18-year-old in the Milwaukee organization in 1971. He spent 1971, 1972, and most of 1973 in the minors. He came up in September 1973 and played in eight games (.185 batting average).
  • Moore was in the majors to stay in 1974. He spent his first few seasons as a catcher-outfielder. His batting averages were usually modest (except for the .290 in 1975), but he was pretty good at working a base on balls. In 1976 Moore had 46 hits and 43 walks.
  • Charlie was Milwaukee's starting catcher in 1977. He batted .248 in 375 at bats. At this point he started to hit a little better. From 1978-1981 he posted batting averages of .269, .300, .291, and .301 as a platoon catcher and occasional outfielder. Batting in the 9th spot, Charlie hit for the cycle against the California Angels on October 1, 1980.
  • Moore was the starting right fielder for the Brewers in 1982 and 1983. He batted .254 and .284 in those two seasons, but didn't hit for much power. His career high for home runs was six in 1982. Charlie had a good postseason in 1982 -- he batted .462 in the ALCS and .346 in the World Series.
  • He was a backup outfielder and catcher from 1984-1986. Charlie was granted free agency after the 1986 season.
  • Charlie batted .207 for Class A San Jose in 1987. He signed with Toronto as a free agent on June 5, 1987. He batted .215 in 107 at bats and was released after the season.
  • He now works as a sales representative in Birmingham, AL.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

1976 Topps #115 - Ken Holtzman

  • Ken Holtzman compiled a 174-150 record in 15 seasons from 1965-1979. He was a two-time All Star (1972 and 1973) and pitched for three World Champion teams (1972-1974 Oakland A's). He holds the record for most victories by a Jewish pitcher and was popular in the Jewish community.
  • Holtzman started off with three relief appearances for the Chicago Cubs in 1965. He was put in the Cubs starting rotation in 1966 and went 11-16 with a 3.79 ERA. Ken didn't pitch very much in 1967 due to National Guard obligations, but went 9-0 with a 2.53 ERA.
  • Ken went 17-13 with a 3.58 ERA for the ill-fated 1969 Cubs. He pitched a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves on August 19, 1969 at Wrigley Field. It was the first no-hitter ever thrown without a strikeout. In 1970 Holtzman went 17-11 with a 3.38 ERA for the Cubs.
  • Although he pitched another no-hitter in 1971 (June 3 against the Reds), Holtzman had an off-year. He was 9-15 with an ERA of 4.48. He requested a trade (he was unhappy with manager Leo Durocher) and was traded to the Oakland A's for Rick Monday after the season.
  • Ken had a nice year in 1972, going 19-11 with a 2.51 ERA. He won game 1 of the 1972 World Series. Another good year (21-13, 2.97) followed in 1973, and Ken went 2-1 in the 1973 World Series.He was 19-17 with a 3.07 ERA in 1974 and he won game 4 of the 1974 World Series.
  • Ken was 18-14 with a 3.14 ERA in 1975, but he was 0-2 in the 1975 AL Championship Series. Holtzman was traded with Reggie Jackson to the Baltimore Orioles just before the beginning of the 1976 season. He was 5-4 in 13 starts for the Orioles when he was traded to the New York Yankees in a multi-player trade. Ken went 9-7 for the Yanks but didn't pitch in the postseason. Apparently George Steinbrenner was disappointed with Holtzman's performance and tried unsuccessfully to get Holtzman (the Yankee union rep) to waive his no-trade clause. Steinbrenner banished Ken to the bullpen as punishment.
  • Holtzman was only 2-3 with a 5.78 ERA in 18 starts in 1977. Again, he didn't pitch in the postseason. He pitched in five games for the Yankees in 1978 then was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Ron Davis. Ken went 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA for the Cubs in 1978. He was 6-9 with a 4.59 ERA for the Cubs in 1979 and was released after the season.
  • After his playing career Ken used his business degree to work as a stockbroker and in the insurance business.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

1976 Topps #114 - Jay Johnstone

  • Jay Johnstone was a well-travelled outfielder who played for eight teams from 1966-1985. "He pulled off a number of infamous pranks during his playing days, including placing a soggy brownie inside Steve Garvey's first base mitt, setting teammate's cleats on fire (known as "hot-footing"), cutting out the crotch area of Rick Sutcliffe's underwear, locking Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda in his office during spring training, dressing up as a groundskeeper and sweeping the Dodger Stadium infield in between innings, nailing teammate's cleats to the floor, and replacing the celebrity photos in manager Lasorda's office with pictures of himself, Jerry Reuss and Don Stanhouse. He also once dressed up in Lasorda's uniform (with padding underneath) and ran out to the mound to talk to the pitcher while carrying Lasorda's book and a can of Slim Fast." (wikipedia entry)
  • Johnstone made his major league debut with the California Angels on July 30, 1966. He bounced between the minors and the Angels until 1968. In his five seasons with the Angels Jay had batting averages ranging from .209 to .270. Johnstone's best year for the Angels was in 1969 when he batted .270 in 148 games. Jay was traded to the Chicago White Sox after the 1970 sesaon.
  • Jay had a pretty decent year for the White Sox in 1971 (.260 with 16 homers in 388 at bats). But he struggled in 1972, batting only .188 in 261 at bats. Johnstone was released before the 1973 season. He was picked up by the Oakland A's and Jay spent most of the season in AAA Tucson, where he batted .347. He batted .107 in 28 at bats for the A's.
  • Jay was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1974 season but he never played for the Cards (they released him at the end of spring training). The Philadelphia Phillies signed Johnstone and assigned him to AAA Toledo. Jay batted .316 in Toledo and was called back up to the Phillies. He batted .295 in 200 at bats for the Phils in 1974.
  • Johnstone's seasons with the Phillies (1974-1978) was the best part of his career. He had seasons of .295, .329 (1975), .316 (1976), and .284 (1977). He didn't have a whole lot of home run power, but he did have 38 doubles in 1976. He also had a nice LCS for the Phils in 1976 (7 hits in 9 at bats). Phillies manager Danny Ozark once said, "What makes him unusual is that he thinks he's normal and everyone else is nuts."
  • Jay started slowly in 1978 (.179 in 56 AB) and was traded to the New York Yankees in June. Johnstone did better with the Yankees (.262 in 65 AB). Jay also had a slow start in 1979 (.208 in 48 at bats) and was shipped to the San Diego Padres in June. He bounced back with the Padres (.294 in 201 AB) and was granted free agancy after the season.
  • Johnstone signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and batted .307 in 1980. The 1981 season wasn't so good for Jay as he batted .205 in 83 at bats. But he did play for a World Series winner and had a good time doing it. Jay started off the 1982 season batting .077 and was released on May 25. The Chicago Cubs signed him in June and Jay played as a part-time outfielder until his release in September 1984. Jay tried to come back with the Dodgers in 1985 but he batted only .133 in 16 at bats as a pinch hitter and was released after the season.
  • Jay made a few TV and movie appearances (The Naked Gun, The Drew Carey Show, a few others) after his playing career. He also did broadcasting for the Yankees and Phillies, had his own television talk show, and wrote several books (including Temporary Insanity and Over the Edge). He also helped to found a company (Sporthings) that provides collectibles for charity events. Jay now works for FOX.
  • Major League players voted Jay the third biggest hot dog in the National League in 1982 (he finished behind Darrell Thomas and Al Hrabosky and ahead of Joaquin Andujar and Tug McGraw).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thanks mrhaverkamp!

  • Three 1976 Topps cards arrived today, the product of a trade with mrhaverkamp at The Bench. They are #202 (AL ERA Leaders), #348 (Mickey Cochrane ATG), and #350 (Lefty Grove ATG). Now I'm five cards away from completing the 1976 Topps set!

  • The cards left are:

  • #48 Dave Concepcion

  • #345 Babe Ruth ATG

  • #500 Reggie Jackson

  • #525 Billy Williams

  • #650 Thurman Munson

  • Once I can get a hold of those cards, then Phase 2 of the 1976 Project (Kellogg's) will get underway. Then it's on to Hostess and SSPC.

  • By the way, I'm also working on an ambitious project to get a hold of as many NY/SF Giants cards as possible. I started a blog (called A Giant Blog) that will chronicle my adventures in collecting Giants cards. Right now all that is on there is a want list, but I'll post other stuff too. It won't be an "everyday" type of blog, but I'll post to it 2-3 times a week. :)

1976 Topps #113 - Gary Sutherland

  • Gary Sutherland was an infielder for several teams from 1966-1978. He has the distinction of scoring the first run in Montreal Expos' history and of recording the first putout in Canada (a line drive from Lou Brock).
  • Gary debuted with the Philadelphia Phillies on September 17, 1966. He had three at bats without a hit. Sutherland played for the Phillies in 1967 and batted .247 in 231 at bats. He only hit one home run, which was a harbinger of things to come (he had 24 homers in 13 seasons). He batted .275 in 138 at bats for the Phillies in 1968, then was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the expansion draft.
  • Sutherland was Montreal's starting second baseman in 1969 and batted .239 in 544 at bats. Gary was more of a utility player in 1970, playing 2B, SS, and 3B. He batted .206 in 359 at bats.
1971 was another "utility season" for Sutherland as he played four positions and batted .257 in 304 at bats.
  • Gary started 1972 in Montreal's AAA Peninsula club and was traded in the middle of the season to the Houston Astros. He played for Houtson's AAA Oklahoma City team and then went 1 for 8 for the Astros at the end of the year. Sutherland played in only 16 games for the Astros in 1973 (.259 in 54 at bats) and was traded to the Detroit Tigers at the end of the season.
  • Sutherland had his best season as the starting second baseman for the 1974 Tigers. He batted .254 with 20 doubles and five home runs in 149 games. Gary started at 2B again in 1975 and batted .258 and had a career-best six home runs. He started the 1976 season with the Tigers (.205 in 117 at bats) and then was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers on June 10. He batted .217 in part-time duty with the Brewers and was released before spring training in 1977.
  • Gary hooked on with the San Diego Padres in 1977 and batted .243 in 103 at bats. He was released after the season and ended up with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1978. The Cards released him after he played in only 10 games. That was it for Sutherland's playing career.
  • Sutherland has worked in various scouting and front office positions since 1980. He is now a special assistant to the General Manager for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

I hope this is what you meant......

I rescanned the card and saved it as the best quality I could. Hopefully this is what you wanted. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

1976 Topps #112 - Kent Tekulve

  • Kent Tekulve had a 16-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, and Cincinnati Reds. He led the NL in appearances four times and is 8th all-time with 1050. Kent pitched in the minors until 1974 and also spent some time in the minors in '75. He was quite tall (6'4") and skinny (180 lbs). He is probably best remembered for his sidearm delivery and his large glasses.
  • Kent came up to the Pirates in 1974 and pitched in eight games. He split time between AAA Charleston and the Pirates (1-2, 2.25 in 34 games) in 1975. Beginning in 1976 Kent had a long string of good seasons in which his ERA was usually below 3.00. He usually appeared in 60-90 games a year, saved about 20 games a year (two 30+ save seasons) and about 100 or so innings a year.
  • Tekulve was an integral part of the bullpen for the 1979 World Champion Pirates (94 appearances, 31 saves) and finished 5th in Cy Young balloting and 8th in MVP voting that year. Kent was an NL All-Star in 1980 but he didn't pitch in the game. Here is a May 1980 Sports Illustrated article about Kent.
  • It looked like Kent was finally winding down in 1985 when he started off with a 16.20 ERA. He was traded to the Phillies on April 30 and promptly got back to his winning ways (2.99 ERA and 14 saves in 58 games). Kent had a few more good seasons as a middle reliever for the Phillies. He even led the NL in appearances (90) as a 40-year-old in 1987.
  • Tekulve was released by the Phillies after the 1988 season. He hooked on with the Reds for 1989 and had a 5.02 ERA in 52 innings. Kent retired in July 1989 with a lifetime 94-90 record and a 2.85 ERA and 184 saves.
  • After his pitching career Kent worked as a Phillies broadcaster. He is now an analyst for FSN in Pittsburgh.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

1976 Topps #111 - Danny Thompson

  • Danny Thompson was an infielder for the Minnesota Twins (1970-1976) and the Texas Rangers (1976). He played in the minors from 1968-1970 and was brought up to Minnesota in June 1970. Danny batted .219 in 302 at bats in his rookie season. He didn't play much in 1971 (.263 in 57 AB).
  • Thompson had a good year in 1972. He batted .276 in 144 games at shortstop and received a few votes for MVP.
  • Thompson found out that he had leukemia in the spring of 1973. He continued to play despite the illness. Danny took a series of experimental injections in an attempt to partially immunize himself against the disease.
  • He batted .225 in 347 AB in 1973. Danny improved to .25o in 264 AB in 1974. Thompson had his last good year in 1975, batting .270 in 355 at bats.
  • Danny played 34 games for the Twins in 1976 and was batting .234 when he was traded with Bert Blyleven (and others) to the Texas Rangers. He finished the year batting .214 for the Rangers.
  • Danny Thompson died on December 10, 1976 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He left behind a wife and two daughters. A memorial golf tournament (launched by Harmon Killebrew in 1977) is held in Idaho every year to raise money for leukemia research. The tournament has raised over $10 million so far.

Friday, June 12, 2009

1976 Topps #110 - Carlos May

  • Carlos May is the brother of Lee May. Carlos played in the majors from 1968-1977 and in Japan from 1978-1981. He played most of his career without most of his right thumb thanks to a 1969 mortar accident while on duty as a Marine reserve.
  • May was a September call-up for the Chicago White Sox in 1968 (September 6 -- my 2nd birthday) and batted .179 in 67 at bats. He was having a great rookie season in 1969 (.281, 18 HR, All-Star appearance) when the mortar accident happened. He finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. Carlos came back in 1970 to bat .285 in 555 at bats. His power wasn't quite as good, but he was still a good offensive player for the White Sox.
  • May made the All Star team again in 1972. He batted .308 in 523 at bats. His numbers started to fall off a bit after the 1973 season. Carlos was batting .175 for the White Sox when he was traded to the New York Yankees on May 18. He had better numbers for the Yankees (.278 in 288 at bats).
  • Carlos split the 1977 season between the Yankees (.227 in 203 AB) and the California Angels (6 hits in 18 at bats). He departed for Japan after the '77 season and played for the Nankai Hawks for four seasons. In Japan he was a .300 hitter with good power.
  • After coming back from Japan he was a postal clerk and made appearances for the White Sox.

    Carlos wore his birthday (May 17) on the back of his uniform during his time with the White Sox.

  • Here is a 2002 Baseball Digest "where are they now" article about Carlos.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

1976 Topps #109 - Larry Lintz

  • Larry Lintz played infield for several teams from 1973 to 1978. He started in the Montreal Expos' organization in 1971. In 1972, playing for AA Quebec, Larry stole 96 bases and was caught 11 times. He stole 48 bases and was caught 9 times for AAA Peninsula in 1973.
  • Lintz made his major league debut on July 16, 1973. He batted .250 and stole 12 bases in 116 at bats in 1973. Larry had his biggest year in 1974. He batted .238 in 319 at bats but also stole 50 bases.
  • He struggled at the plate for the Expos in 1975 (.197 in 132 at bats) and was traded to the Cardinals for Jim Dwyer on July 25. He only batted 21 times the rest of the season for the Cards.
  • Larry went 263 plate appearances (3 September 1974 to 26 August 1975) without an extra base hit.
  • Larry was traded to the Oakland A's after the 1975 season for Charlie Chant. In 1976 he played a few games for AAA Tucson then was used by the A's as the "designated runner." Lintz had only 4 plate appearances, but was in 68 games, scored 21 runs, and stole 31 bases.
  • Lintz split time between AAA San Jose and Oakland in 1977. He batted .133 in 30 at bats for the A's. Larry was released in 1978 during spring training. The Cleveland Indians picked him up in May 1978. He pinch ran in 3 games for the Indians (1 stolen base in 3 attempts), then they assigned him to AAA Portland. Larry spent the 1979 season in AAA Tacoma and that was it for his playing career.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1976 Topps #108 - Don Kirkwood

  • Don Kirkwood pitched in the majors from 1974-1978. He earned a September call-up after going 9-4 with a 2.91 ERA in 1974 for AA El Paso. Don pitched in 3 games for the Angels in 1974 (8.59 ERA in 7.1 innings).

  • Kirkwood went 6-5 with a 3.11 ERA (mostly in relief) in 1975. He was converted to a starter in 1976 and was 6-12 with a 4.62 ERA in 26 starts. Don went back to the bullpen in 1977 and was 1-0 with a 5.19 ERA before being traded to the Chicago White Sox on June 15. His stats with the White Sox (1-1, 5.13) were very similar to his stats with the Angels.

  • The Toronto Blue Jays purchased Kirkwood before the 1978 season. He went 4-5, 4.24 as a swingman with the Blue Jays. Don had arm trouble and was released during spring training in 1979.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

1976 Topps #107 - Dave Roberts

  • There are a lot of guys named Dave Roberts in baseball! This Dave Roberts played in the majors from 1972-1982. He was the first pick in the 1972 Amateur Draft. Roberts signed with the San Diego Padres on June 7, 1972 and made his major league debut on the same day. Dave stayed with the Padres through the 1972 season, batting .244 in 100 games.
  • Dave spent a few games with AAA Hawaii in 1973, but spent most of the season with the Padres. He had his best season, batting .286 with 21 HR in 127 games. Roberts fell off badly in 1974 (.167 in 318 AB).
  • He spent most of 1975 in Hawaii. Dave batted .283 in 33 games with the Padres in '75. He went back to Hawaii for the entire 1976 season. Roberts stayed with the Padres for the entire 1977 season (.220 in 186 AB) and split the 1978 season between Hawaii and San Diego (.216 in 112 AB).
  • Dave was involved in a big trade with the Rangers after the 1978 season (Traded by the San Diego Padres with Oscar Gamble and $300,000 to the Texas Rangers for Kurt Bevacqua, Bill Fahey and Mike Hargrove). Roberts split time between AAA Tucson and the Rangers (262 in 84 AB) in 1979. Dave played every position except pitcher in the '79 season. He played every position except pitcher and shortstop in 1980 for the Rangers and batted .238 in 235 AB.
  • Dave signed with the Houston Astros as a free agent after the 1980 season. He batted .271 in 54 AB for the Astros in 1981 and then was traded to the Phillies. He only batted 36 times in 1982 before he was released on May 17, 1982.

Monday, June 8, 2009

1976 Topps #106 - Tom Grieve

  • Tom Grieve played for the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers, the New York Mets, and the St. Louis Cardinals from 1970-1979. He was mostly an outfielder and a DH.
  • Tom didn't do a whole lot with the Senators in 1970. He batted .198 in 116 at bats. Grieve spent 1971 in the minors and then came back in 1972. He batted .204 in 142 at bats that year.
  • He continued to be a part-time OF in 1973 (,309 in 123 AB) and 1974 (.255 in 259 AB). Grieve played more in 1975 and batted .276 with 14 HR in 369 AB.
  • Tom's best season was in 1976. He batted .255 with 20 HR in 149 games. Grieve didn't play as much in 1977 and his stats suffered (.225 in 236 AB).
  • Grieve was involved in a 4-team trade after the season and ended up with the Mets. He batted .208 in 101 AB and was traded to the Cardinals after the season.
  • Tom didn't play much for the Cards (.200 in 15 AB) and was released in May 1979. The Rangers picked him up and assigned him to AAA Tucson. Grieve batted .266 in Tucson and retired after the season. He joined the Rangers' front office in 1980.
  • Grieve was the Rangers' General Manager from 1984-1994. He is now a broadcaster for the Rangers.
  • His son Ben played in the majors from 1997-2005.
  • Here is a link to an 2007 interview with Tom on the Texas Rangers Trades blog. Grant's been doing this blog for a while!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

1976 Topps #105 - Gary Lavelle

  • Gary Lavelle pitched in the majors from 1974--1987, mostly for the San Francisco Giants. He started in the Giants system in 1967 as an 18-year-old. He didn't pitch in very many games in 1968 (13) or 1969 (7). Gary spent 1970 and 1971 with AA Amarillo and then pitched three years for AAA Phoenix (1972-1974). It doesn't look like his stats merited a call up to the majors, but the PCL was a hitter's league so that probably distorted his ERA.

  • Lavelle was a September call-up to the Giants in 1974 and then stuck with the big club in 1975. He was used exclusively as a reliever except for three starts in 1981. Gary was 6-3 with 8 saves and a 2.95 ERA in 65 appearances in his first full season in 1975.

  • Lavelle had a lot of good seasons as a left-handed reliever. During his time with the Giants, Gary only had three years with an ERA above 3.00 (1978, 1980 and 1981) and his highest was 3.84. Gary was a two-time NL All-Star (1977 and 1983).

  • He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays after the 1984 season and had one good year with them (5-7, 3.10, 8 saves). Gary had chronic elbow problems and he didn't pitch in 1986. He didn't do so well in 1987 (2-3, 5.91 with Toronto and Oakland). Gary resigned as a free agent with the A's after the 1987 season but didn't pitch again.
  • Lavelle was a pitching coach for the Yankees for five years. He is the baseball coach at Greenbrier Christian academy in Virginia. They have won three consecutive state championships. Here he is getting the Gatorade treatment. Gary also runs a summer baseball camp.