Wednesday, September 30, 2009

1976 Topps #222 - Wayne Garrett

  • Wayne Garrett was an infielder for three teams from 1969-1978. He then played in Japan for two seasons. His brother Adrian also played in the majors in the 70s.
  1. Garrett was drafted by the Milwaukee Braves in 1965. He played in the Braves' system from 1965-1968 and then was taken by the New York Mets in the Rule 5 draft. Wayne was still only 21 years old. He stuck with the Mets and platooned with Ed Charles at 3B for the 1969 World Champions. He batted .218 in 400 at bats, but he batted .385 in the National League Championship Series and homered once in the World Series.
  • Wayne was a utility guy in 1970 and he improved his average to .254 in 366 at bats. Garrett spent part of the 1971 season in military service and he played 11 games for AAA Tidewater. He came back to the Mets in late July and batted .213 in 56 games. In 1972 he batted .232 in 111 games.
  • Garrett was given the starting 3B job in 1973 and he had his best season. He hit 16 home runs and batted .256 in 140 games. He didn't do much in the playoffs -- he batted .087 in the NLCS and .167 in the World Series (although two of his WS hits were home runs). Wayne made the last out in game 7 of the World Series, popping out to Bert Campaneris. He tied a World Series record by striking out 11 times in a seven-game series.
  • Wayne started at 3B again in 1974. He hit 13 home runs, but his average dropped to .224 in 151 games. Garrett went 0-10 in a 25-inning game on September 11, 1974. He returned to a utility role in 1975, batting .266 in 274 at bats.
  • Garrett started the 1976 season with the Mets. On July 21 he was traded with Del Unser to the Montreal Expos for Jim Dwyer and Pepe Mangual. For the two teams he played in 139 games and batted .231. He walked 82 times for an on base percentage of .356. Wayne always had pretty good on-base percentages even if his batting averages were low.
  • In 1977 Garrett had his highest batting average (.270) but he played in only 68 games and batted only 159 times. Wayne's last season in the majors was 1978. He started with the Expos and was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals on July 21. All together Garrett played in 82 games and batted .250. After the season Wayne signed with the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese League and spent two seasons there.

  • Liked to face: Bob Gibson (.333, 2 HR in 66 AB); Jim Lonborg (.362 in 47 AB), Rick Reuschel (.360, 2 HR in 50 AB).
  • Hated to face: Burt Hooton (.193 in 57 AB); Rick Wise (.143 in 35 AB); Ron Reed (.100 in 30 AB)
  • Now Wayne is a salesman for his older brother Jimmy's irrigation company. Here is an article about Wayne's memories of the 1969 season.

Bucket List?

The Sports Locker blog asks what our sports bucket list is. Here is mine (split into sports and collecting):

Sports -
  • Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Attend Opening Day at Pac Bell Park (or whatever it's called now)
  • Attend a Stanley Cup playoff game (I'd have to travel for this one--unlikely to happen in Arizona anytime soon
  • Attend a baseball All Star game

Collecting -
  • Attend at least one National convention
  • Finish my 1976 baseball sets (I have Topps -- need the rest) :)
  • Finish my collection of every Topps set from the year I started collecting (1974) to the present (I'm pretty close on this one)
  • Collect every main Topps set from my birth year (1966) to the present. (I'm close on 1969 and 1973, a bit further away on 1966 and 1971, and have a long ways to go on 1967, 1968, 1970, and 1972)
  • Collect every main issue Giants team sets from 1951-present
  • Collect the "other sports" sets from 1976 (football, basketball, hockey)

So what's on your bucket list?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

1976 Topps #221 - Jim Todd

  • Jim Todd pitched for three teams from 1974-1979. He had two stints each with the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland A's. Todd was drafted by the Cubs in 1969 and pitched in their minor league organization until the beginning of the 1974 season. After starting three games for AAA Wichita in 1974 Jim was called up to the Cubs. He was used as a reliever and spot starter by the Cubs and went 4-2 with a 3.89 ERA in 43 games. After the season he was sent to the Oakland A's for cash and Champ Summers.
  • Jim had his best season in 1975. He started the season in AAA but was called up in late April. Todd was 8-3 with 12 saves and a 2.29 ERA in 58 appearances. In the American League Championship Series he appeared in three games, allowing one unearned run in a total of one inning pitched. Rollie Fingers once said that he couldn't be one of the top relievers in baseball without Jim Todd as his setup man. Ralph Houk accused Jim of pitching a greaseball -- Jim called it a "super sinker."
  • Todd had a rougher season in 1976 as the A's began to dismantle their championship team. He was 7-8 with 4 saves and a 3.81 ERA in 49 games. After the season he was traded back to the Cubs for Jim Coleman.
  • In 1977 Todd bounced between AAA and the Cubs. For the Cubs his ERA ballooned to 9.10 and he was 1-1 in 20 appearances. After the season he was the "player to be named later" in a trade that had brought Pete Broberg to the Cubs from the Seattle Mariners.
  • Todd was used by the Mariners as a spot starter and middle reliever in 1978. He was 3-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 49 games (2 starts). Before the 1979 season Jim was released by the Mariners. He signed with the A's. Todd struggled along with the rest of the 1979 A's--he was 2-5 with a 6.86 ERA in 51 games.
  • Jim was released by the A's during spring training in 1980. He pitched for the AAA Phoenix Giants, where he was 0-1 with a 4.37 ERA in 11 games. That was it for his career.

Monday, September 28, 2009

1976 Topps #220 - Manny Sanguillen

  • Manny Sanguillen played in the majors from 1967-1980. Except for one year (1977) with the Oakland A's, he spent his whole career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Manny had a lifetime batting average of .296.

  • Sanguillen was signed by the Pirates in 1964. He was in the minors from 1965-1968, with a brief stint with the Pirates in 1967. In '67 Manny came up to the Pirates in late July and batted .271 in 30 games. He went back to the minors in 1968 and then came back to the big leagues to stay in 1969.

  • Manny had a good season in 1969, batting .303 in 129 games. He didn't have much home run power, but he could hit for average. In 1970 Sanguillen batted .325 in 128 games and was 11th in MVP voting. Here is a June 1970 Baseball Digest article that asks if Manny would be the next superstar.

  • Sanguillen made his first NL All Star team in 1971 and finished 8th in MVP voting. He batted .319 in 138 games for the World Champion Pirates. He also batted .379 in the World Series. Manny was an All Star again in 1972 and batted .298 in 136 games. After the 1972 season he was the only Pirate player not to attend Roberto Clemente's funeral. He dove in the waters off of Puerto Rico looking for Clemente's body. Here is a May 1973 Baseball Digest article "Sanguillen Remembers Roberto."

  • In 1973 Manny was chosen to replace Clemente in right field, but was moved back to catcher in July. He batted "only" .282 in 149 games. Here is a July 1975 Baseball Digest article about the failed experiment. He had a similar year in 1974 (.287 in 151 games).

  • In 1975 Manny made his third (and last) NL All Star team. He batted a career-high .328 and got a few votes for MVP. Sanguillen played in only 114 games in 1976 and batted .290. He had a ten-day gap in August and also didn't play after September 13. After the season he had the distinction of being the only player ever traded for a manager. He (and $100,000) were sent to the A's in exchange for the managerial services of Chuck Tanner.

  • In his last season (1977) as a regular player, Sanguillen played in 152 games and batted .275 for the A's. After the season he was traded back to the Pirates for Miguel Dilone, Mike Edwards, and Elias Sosa. In 1978 Manny was a pinch hitter and a backup catcher and first baseman. He batted .264 in 85 games. In 1979 his playing time was reduced further--he batted .230 in 74 at bats but got another ring as a member of the '79 World Champions.

  • In 1980 Manny batted .250 in 48 at bats, mostly as a pinch hitter. After the season he and Bert Blyleven were traded to the Cleveland Indans for four players. Sanguillen wanted to retire and was released on February 18, 1981.
  • Liked to face: Steve Carlton (.301 with 5 HR in 103 AB), Woodie Fryman (.358 in 67 AB), and Claud Osteen (.349 in 63 AB).
  • Hated to face: Phil Niekro (.175 in 80 AB) and Tom Seaver (.235 in 68 AB).

  • After his playing career Manny did some scouting for the Pirates in Latin America and has been a spring training instructor.

  • Sanguillen operates "Manny's BBQ" at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Here is a 2008 video of Sanguillen showing how to block the plate:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

1976 Topps #219 - Tom Murphy

  • Tom Murphy pitched for six teams from 1968-1979. He was the California Angels' first round pick (6th overall) in the 1967 draft. Tom moved up the minor league ladder quickly -- he pitched for three teams in 1967 and two teams in 1968. He came up to the Angels in June 1968 and was 5-6 with a 2.17 ERA in 15 starts.
  • In 1969 Tom was 10-16 with a 4.21 ERA. He led the AL in hit batsmen (21) and wild pitched (16). It would seem like he was a really wild pitcher, but he averaged about three walks per nine innings for most of his career.
  • Murphy's best season was probably 1970. He started 38 games and was 16-13 with a 4.24 ERA. In 1971 Tom struggled -- he again led the AL in wild pitches (17) and had a 6-17 record with a 3.77 ERA.
  • Tom started the 1972 season with the Angels and had problems with wildness. He walked eight batters in 11 innings and had a 5.40 ERA in six games. On May 5 Murphy was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Bob Oliver. He pitched for the Royals in May and June and then was sent to the minors for two months. Tom came back in September and ended up with good stats for the Royals (4-4, 3.07 ERA in 18 games).
  • Murphy started the 1973 season with AAA Omaha. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in early May for Al Santorini. Tom was 3-7 with a 3.76 ERA in 19 games (13 starts) for the Cardinals. After the 1973 season Tom was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Bob Heise.
  • In 1974 Murphy was converted to a relief pitcher. He would start only one more game in his career. Tom had a good year as the Brewers' closer -- he was 10-10 with 20 saves and a 1.90 ERA in 70 appearances. He led the AL in games finished with 66. In 1975 Tom hit the skids, dropping to a 1-9 record. He had 20 saves, but his ERA went up to 4.60.
  • Tom started the 1976 season with the Brewers. He made 15 appearances (0-1, 7.36 ERA) then was traded with Bobby Darwin to the Boston Red Sox for Bernie Carbo. Tom pitched better for the Red Sox -- he was 4-5 with a 3.44 ERA and eight saves. Murphy's 1977 season followed the same pattern. He started poorly (0-1, 6.75 ERA in 16 games), then was traded. In this case he was purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays on July 27. He was 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 19 games for the Blue Jays to finish the 1977 season.
  • Murphy made 50 appearances for the Blue Jays in 1978. He was 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and saved seven games. In 1979 Tom started poorly again (1-2, 5.40 in 10 games) and was released on May 12.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

1976 Topps #218 - John Knox

  • John Knox didn't play for the Tigers in 1976. In fact, his major league career was over at this point. He played in four seasons (1972-1975) for the Detroit Tigers.

  • Knox was drafted by the Tigers in 1970 and progressed through the farm system. He didn't have a season below .270 during his time in the Tiger system. John made his major league debut in August 1972 and had one hit in 13 at bats in the 1972 season.

  • Knox spent most of 1973 at AAA Toledo. He came up to the Tigers at the end of the season and batted. 281 in 32 at bats. John spent the entire 1974 and 1975 seasons with the Tigers. In 1974 he batted .307 in 88 at bats. In 1975 he batted .267 in 86 at bats.

  • Knox was sent to AAA Evansville at the beginning of the 1976 season. After three games in Evansville he was sold to the Cincinnati Reds, who sent him to AAA Indianapolis. After batting only .213 in 96 games, John called it quits.

  • John was the first Bowling Green State University baseball letterman to make the major leagues. He is in the BGSU Hall of Fame.

Friday, September 25, 2009

1976 Topps #217 - Dave Freisleben

  • Dave Freisleben pitched for three teams from 1974-1979. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1971 and put up some nice stats in the minors (7-3, 2.97 in 1971; 17-9, 2.32 in 1972; 16-8, 2.82 in 1973). Dave started the 1974 season at AAA Hawaii and was brought up to the Padres after three starts. He stuck with San Diego for the rest of the season and went 9-14 with a 3.66 ERA in 33 games (31 starts). He pitched 13 shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds on August 4, 1974. The Padres finally scored a run in the 14th inning, but Dave didn't get the win.
  • In 1975 Dave was 5-14 with a 4.28 ERA. Dave spent the first six weeks of 1976 in Hawaii, but he had his best season after being called up. He was 10-13 with an ERA of 3.51.
  • Dave was in Hawaii again during May and most of June of 1977. For the Padres Dave was 7-9 with a 4.61 ERA. In 1978 he started the year with the Padres. After starting the season 0-3 with a 6.08 ERA Dave was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Bill Laxton on June 8. He started ten games for the Indians and was 1-4 with a 7.11 ERA.
  • Before the 1979 season Dave was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He was used mostly as a reliever (42 games, 2 starts) and was 2-3 with a 4.95 ERA. The Blue Jays released him after the season and he tried to hook on with the California Angels. He was released during spring training in 1980 and that was it for Dave's career.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

1976 Topps #216 - Montreal Expos

The Montreal Expos were 55-107 in 1976 (46 games behind the Philadelpha Phillies). Karl Kuehl lasted until September 4 as the Montreal manager in 1976. The Expos were 43-85 before Charlie Fox took over for him. The Expos didn't do better under Mr. Fox (12-22). This was Kuehl's only major league managing job. He spent most of his career as a coach and a front office guy (mostly in the player development area).

Team attendance: 646,704 (11th in NL)

Team batting: .235 (12th in NL)

Team home runs: 94 (6th in NL)

Team ERA: 4.00 (12th in NL)
Team fielding: .976 (8th in NL)
1976 NL All-Stars: Woodie Fryman

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1976 Topps #215 - Reggie Smith

  • Reggie Smith was a powerful switch-hitting outfielder for four teams from 1966-1982. Reggie was also known for a powerful throwing arm. He started with the Minnesota Twins organization in 1963 and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox after the season in the 1963 first-year player draft. Reggie played in the minors until the end of the 1966 season when he played in six games as a September call-up for the Red Sox.
  • Smith made the Red Sox club in 1967 and became their starting center fielder. He finished second to Rod Carew in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. Reggie batted .246 with 15 HR and 61 RBI for the improbable AL pennant winners and batted .250 with 2 HR in the World Series. Smith won his first Gold Glove award in 1968. He batted .265 with 15 HR and 69 RBI and led the AL with 37 doubles. Here is a September 1968 Baseball Digest article about Smith.
  • In 1969 Reggie played in his first of seven All Star games. He batted .309 with 25 HR and 93 RBI. Smith's 1970 season was almost a carbon copy except for the RBI (.303, 22 HR, 74 RBI). In 1971 Reggie again led the AL in doubles with 33 and batted .283 with 30 HR and 96 RBI. His numbers were down a bit in 1972 (.270, 21 HR, 74 RBI) but he made the AL All Star team for the second time. Here is a July 1972 Baseball Digest article discussing the possibility of Reggie being a natural successor to Carl Yastrzemski as a Red Sox leader.
  • In 1973 Smith missed 47 games with injuries. They were probably "nagging injuries," since except for a 10-day gap in August there aren't any significant gaps in his playing time that year. He still batted .303 with 21 HR and 69 RBI. There were also some controversies during the season. He decked Bill Lee and there were some quotes about the racism of Red Sox fans. After the season he was traded by the Red Sox with Ken Tatum to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bernie Carbo and Rick Wise. The Red Sox had some guys in their system who they figured could replace Smith.
  • Here is a June 1974 Baseball Digest article about what Reggie would bring to the Cardinals. Smith picked up where he left off in Boston, batting .309 with 23 HR and 100 RBI and making the NL All Star team. He was also part of a rare "all .300 hitting outfield." Reggie made the NL All Star team again in 1975 and batted .302 with 19 HR and 76 RBI.
  • In 1976 Smith started the season with the Cardinals. The Cardinals were afraid that they wouldn't be able to sign him after the season so on June 15 he was traded to the LA Dodgers for Joe Ferguson and a couple of other guys. Smith missed some playing time in May and again in August. He played in only 112 games and had just about his worst offensive season (.253, 18 HR, 49 RBI).
  • The 1977 season was a good one for Smith. He led the NL with a .427 OBP, made the NL All Star team, and was 4th in MVP voting. Reggie batted .307 with 32 HR and 87 RBI. He also hit 3 HR in the 1977 World Series. Here is a December 1977 Baseball Digest article about Reggie's batting stances.
  • Smith made the All Star team again in 1978 and was 4th in MVP voting again. He batted .295 with 29 HR and 93 RBI. In 1979 injuries started to limit his playing time. He played in only 68 games in 1979 and batted .274 with 10 HR and 32 RBI. He made his last All Star team in 1981 but played in only 92 games, batting .322 with 15 HR and 55 RBI. Smith didn't play after August 13. A healthy Reggie Smith probably would have made the difference for the Dodgers in the closely contested 1980 NL West race.
  • The 1981 season was Smith's toughest season. Reggie was limited to pinch-hitting duties (except for two games at 1B) and batted only 44 times for a .200 average. After the season he was granted free agency and he signed with the rival San Francisco Giants. Smith played the 1982 season with the Giants (.284, 18 HR, 56 RBI) and then went to Japan for two seasons before retiring after the 1984 season.
  • After his career Smith served as a coach for the Dodgers for several years. Here is a May 1995 Baseball Digest article about Reggie's philosophy on hitting. In 1999 he became involved in USA baseball and has served as a hitting coach for the team off and on ever since. He also runs Reggie Smith Baseball Centers in Encino, California.
  • Here is a link to a SABR biography on Reggie.
  • Liked to face: Phil Niekro (.349, 6 HR in 63 AB), John Montefusco (.359, 6HR in 64 AB), and Joe Niekro (.449, 4 HR in 49 AB).
  • Hated to face: Jim Palmer (.211, 0 HR in 57 AB) and Jim Perry (.203, 1 HR in 53 AB).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

1976 Topps #214 - Eric Soderholm

  • Eric Soderholm was an infielder for four teams from 1971-1980. His career was shortened by knee injuries. Eric was the first pick (Minnesota Twins) in the 1968 amateur draft. He played for various teams in the Twins' organization from 1968-1971. He never had high minor league batting averages, but he showed some power--especially in 1971 when he hit 22 home runs for AAA Portland. Soderholm was called up in September 1971 and batted .156 in 21 games for the Twins.
  • Soderholm spent the entire 1972 season with the Twins and batted .188 with 13 home runs in 93 games. He started the 1973 season with AAA Tacoma and wasn't called up until late August. Although his stats with Tacoma weren't impressive (.238 batting average), the minor league stint must have done him some good. Eric batted .297 in 35 games for the Twins to finish the 1973 season on a high note.
  • In 1974 Eric became the starting third baseman. He batted .276 with 10 HR and 51 RBI in 141 games. In 1975 he improved to .286 with 11 homers and 58 RBI.
  • Soderholm missed the entire 1976 season with a knee injury. He was granted free agency after the 1976 season and signed with the Chicago White Sox. Eric was the Comeback Player of the Year in 1977 as he had his best season. He batted .28o with a career-high 25 homers and 67 RBI. He hit 20 homers in 1978 and batted .258 in 143 games.
  • Eric started the 1979 season with the White Sox but was traded to the Texas Rangers on June 15. For the two teams he batted .261 with 10 homers in 119 games. After the 1979 season Soderholm was traded to the New York Yankees for cash and two minor leaguers. He hit pretty well for the Yankees (.287, 11 HR, 35 RBI in 95 games), but his knees couldn't take the pounding anymore. He didn't play in 1981. Eric was invited to spring training by the Chicago Cubs in 1982 but couldn't play and retired.
  • After his retirement Eric did some scouting for the Cubs and started his own youth baseball camps. He built a batting cage in his backyard and became a private hitting instructor.
  • In 1985 Soderholm left the Cubs and started a ticket agency. He fought for passage of legislation in Illinois that allowed ticket sellers to add a large "service charge" to resold tickets. He now runs Soder World, a wellness center in Hinsdale, IL. Here is a link to an interview with Soderholm.

Monday, September 21, 2009

1976 Topps #213 - Dave Heaverlo

  • Dave Heaverlo pitched for three teams from 1975-1981. He was probably the first player to shave his head (at least the first one I knew about) and he had a reputation as a prankster. Dave kept his minor league number 60 even when became established in the majors. He made 356 career appearances without making a start.
  • Heaverlo started in the San Francisco Giants organization in 1973. After pitching in over 100 games in 1973 and 1974 and posting ERAs under 3.00, he debuted for the Giants in 1975. Dave had a good rookie season as a middle reliever. He was 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA in 64 innings. In 1976 Heaverlo slipped to 4-4 with a 4.44 ERA in 75 innings. He bounced back in 1977 to go 5-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 98.2 innings.
  • Before the 1978 season Heaverlo was part of the huge trade that brought Vida Blue to the Giants. Dave got more work in Oakland. He saved 10 games and was 3-6 with a 3.25 ERA in 130 innings. Dave was 4-11 with a 4.20 ERA and nine saves in 1979 and after the season was waived by the A's.
  • The Seattle Mariners picked Dave up in 1980. In his only season as a Mariner he was 6-3 with a 3.89 ERA. Heaverlo didn't make the Mariners club in 1981 and was released in late March. Here is an article about Dave's release from the Mariners. The Oakland A's signed him and he was assigned to AAA Tacoma. Dave pitched in only six games for the A's in 1981. He attempted comebacks with Tacoma in 1982 and 1983 but he never made it back to the majors.
  • Heaverlo is now the pitching coach for the Big Bend Vikings (a community college in Moses Lake, WA) and he hosts a radio talk show.
  • Here is a Seattle Times article about Dave's son Jeff, who pitched in the minors for a while and had problems with injuries and staying sober.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

1976 Topps #212 - Pat Kelly

  • Pat Kelly was an outfielder and a DH for five teams from 1967-1981. He was signed by the Minnesota Twins in 1962 and played in the Twins' system from 1963-1968. Pat made his major league debut in 1967 with one at bat and also played for the Twins in September 1968 (.114 in 35 AB).
  • Kelly was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the expansion draft and played outfield for them in 1969. Pat batted .264 with eight homers and 40 stolen bases. He became the Royals' starting RF in 1970 and batted .235 with six homers and 34 stolen bases. Pat also had 76 bases on balls.
  • After the 1970 season Kelly was traded to the Chicago White Sox. He started the 1971 season in AAA Tucson and was brought back to the White Sox on July 1 after batting .355 for the Toros. Pat batted .291 in 67 games for the White Sox in '71. He was the starting RF in 1972. Pat batted .261 and had 32 stolen bases.
  • In 1973 Kelly made the AL All Star team. He played in a career-high 144 games and batted .280. Pat played three more years for the White Sox and had similar seasons. After the 1976 season he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Dave Duncan. He was the starting LF for the Orioles in 1977 and batted .256 with 10 home runs in 120 games. In 1978 Pat was more of a pinch hitter and substitute OF/DH. He had a career-high 11 homers and batted .274 in 247 AB.
  • In 1979 Kelly had his best power year, even though he had a lot fewer at bats. He hit nine homers in 153 at bats and had a slugging percentage of .536. He batted .364 in 11 at bats in the American League Championship Series and was 1 for 4 in the 1979 World Series.
  • Pat batted .260 in 200 at bats in 1980 and then was granted free agency. He signed with the Cleveland Indians and dropped to a .213 average in 75 at bats in 1981. He was released in spring training in 1982 and retired.
  • Pat liked to face Joe Coleman (.328 with 1 HR in 67 AB) and Fergie Jenkins (.313 with 3 HR in 67 AB). He didn't like to face Bert Blyleven (.149 in 87 AB) and Luis Tiant (.213 in 61 AB).
  • After his career Pat was a minister for Lifeline Ministries in Baltimore, MD. He died of a heart attack in 2005.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

1976 Topps #211 - Clay Carroll

  • Clay Carroll had a 15-year career with five teams, mostly as a relief pitcher. He made two NL All Star teams and is a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Carroll was 4-2 with two saves and a 1.39 ERA in 22 post season appearances.

  • Carroll was signed by the Milwaukee Braves as an amateur free agent in 1961. He was mostly a starting pitcher in the minors from 1961-1965. Clay made his major league debut in 1964 and was 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 games (1 start). He started the 1965 season with the Braves but was sent down on June 1 and returned in early August. Clay was 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA in 19 games (1 start) in 1965.

  • In 1966 Carroll led the NL with 73 appearances. He was 8-7 with 11 saves and a 2.37 ERA. Clay didn't fare as well in 1967 (6-12. 5.52 ERA) and had a one-month stint in AAA. Carroll started the 1968 season with the Braves and was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on June 11 as part of a deal that sent Milt Pappas to the Braves. For the two teams Clay was 7-8 with a 2.69 ERA in 68 appearances.

  • In the next four seasons (1969-1972) Clay would make 60 or more appearances each year and develop into one of the better relievers in the National League. He made the NL All Star team in 1971 and 1972 and led the league in saves with 37 in 1972. He was 5th in NL Cy Young Award voting and 13th in NL MVP voting in 1972. Here is a Baseball Digest "Game I'll Never Forget" article about game 4 of the 1970 World Series.

  • From 1973-1975 Carroll wasn't used as often as the closer, but he posted good seasons. From 1968-1975 he had only two seasons ('69 and '73) in which his ERA was over 2.62. Clay was the winner in game 7 of the 1975 World Series. After the 1975 season the Reds had some young relievers (Rawly Eastwick and Will McEnaney), which made Carroll expendable. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox for a minor leaguer and Rich Hinton.

  • Clay pitched in only 29 games for the White Sox in 1976. He was 4-4 with six saves and a 2.56 ERA. Before the 1977 season Carroll was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Lerrin LaGrow. He pitched well for the Cardinals (4-2, 2.50 ERA in 51 games) but was traded back to the White Sox for the stretch drive on August 31 for three players. He didn't pitch as well down the stretch for the White Sox (1-3, 4.76 ERA in eight games). Carroll was released by the White Sox during spring training in 1978.

  • Carroll was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent most of the season with AAA Columbus. He made two appearances late in the season for the Pirates. Clay was released after the 1978 season and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. He made 12 appearances for Milwaukee's AAA Vancouver club (0-2, 9.00 ERA) and then retired.

  • In one of those little "funny story" blurbs in a 1974 Baseball Digest is the following: "In a brawl between the Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds last August, it was believed at first that no players were injured. That is, until relief pitcher Clay Carroll spoke up. Carroll said he suffered a bruised left collarbone. 'We were trying to get the bullpen gate open,' Carroll said. 'We couldn't get it open, then it flew back and hit me.' 'I got punched out by a gate.'"
  • Clay hated to face Billy Williams (.356 with 2 homers in 45 AB) and Willie McCovey (.394 in 33 AB). He liked to face Ron Hunt (.098 in 41 AB) and Doug Rader (.163 in 43 AB).

Friday, September 18, 2009

1976 Topps #210 - Lee May

  • Lee May had a pretty solid 18-year career for four teams from 1965-1982. Lee is the brother of former player Carlos May and his son (Lee May Jr.) is currently the hitting coach for the Akron Aeros. He had 100 or more RBI for three teams (Cincinnati, Houston, and Baltimore) -- he was one of only ten players to accomplish this.
  • May started in the Cincinnati Reds' system in 1961 and played in the minors through the 1966 season. He had a cup of coffee in Cincinnati in 1965 (0 for 4) and a couple of longer stints in 1966 (.333 in 75 at bats). Lee was in the majors to stay in 1967 and batted .265 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI.
  • In 1968 Lee started a streak in which he would hit 20 or more home runs every year from 1968-1978. He also had 80 or more RBI in each of those years. May batted .290 with 22 homers and 80 RBI in the pitching-dominated 1968 season. Here is a December 1968 Baseball Digest article about May. In 1969 May made his first NL All-Star team. He batted .278 with 38 HR and 110 RBI.
  • Lee had a slightly less productive year in 1970 (.253, 34 HR, 94 RBI) for the NL Champion Reds. On June 24, 1970 May hit the last home run in the history of Crosley Field. He batted .389 and hit 2 home runs in the 1970 World Series. He bounced back with another All Star appearance in 1971 and batted .278 with 39 homers and 98 RBI. After the 1971 season May was traded to the Houston Astros in a big trade that netted the Reds Joe Morgan, Jack Billingham, and Cesar Geronimo. Here is an March 1972 Baseball Digest article about why the Reds gave up May.
  • May's power numbers dropped a little bit in the Astrodome, but he still managed to hit 29 home runs, have 98 RBI, and bat .284 in 1972. He made his last All Star team and was 9th in NL MVP voting. In 1973 Lee batted .270 with 28 homers and 105 RBI. In 1974 Lee's numbers dropped a bit (.268, 24 HR, 85 RBI) and he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles after the season.
  • In 1975 May hit 20 home runs and knocked in 99 runs for the offensively challenged Orioles. Lee hit 25 homers and led the AL in RBI with 109 in 1976. In 1977 May hit 27 homers and had 99 RBI. It would be his last season as a starting first baseman -- Eddie Murray was coming on the scene and May would become the DH.
  • May had another strong season in 1978 (.246, 25 HR, 80 RBI) although his batting average was slipping. In 1979 Lee made his fewest appearances since 1966 as he played in only 124 games. He homered 19 times and had 69 RBI as the right-handed DH for the AL Champion Orioles. The DH wasn't used in the 1979 World Series so May only batted twice. Here is an August 1979 Baseball Digest article about the unrecognized Lee May.
  • In 1980 May played in only 78 games. He didn't have any significant gaps in his appearances, he just played 2-3 days a week. May homered only 7 times and had 31 RBI. After the 1980 season Lee was granted free agency and signed with the Kansas City Royals.
  • May was mostly a pinch hitter (with some occasional appearances at DH and 1B) in 1981 and 1982. He had good batting averages (.291 and .308) but had a total of 146 at bats for the two seasons. The Royals released May after the 1982 season and he retired.
  • Lee liked to face Steve Carlton (.323 in 62 AB) and Claude Osteen (.363 with 5 HR in 80 AB). He didn't like to face Gaylord Perry (.183 in 104 AB) and Phil Niekro (.207 in 82 AB).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

1976 Topps #209 - Alan Ashby

  • Alan Ashby played for three teams from 1973-1989. He spent most of his career with the Houston Astros (1979-1989). Alan started in the Cleveland Indians' organization when he was 17 years old in 1969 and moved through their minor league system. He had short stints in Cleveland in 1973 (.172 in 29 AB) and 1974 (.143 in 7 AB).
  • In 1975 and 1976 Ashby was a backup catcher. He batted .224 in 254 AB in '75 and .239 in 247 AB in '76. After the 1976 season Alan was traded with Doug Howard to the expansion Toronto Blue Jays for Al Fitzmorris. He got more playing time in 1977 and batted .210 in 396 AB. In 1978 Ashby batted .261 in 264 AB for the Blue Jays. After the season Ashby was traded to the Houston Astros, where he would spend the rest of his career.
  • Ashby became Houston's starting catcher in 1979. He batted .202 but he provided good defense behind the plate. Alan hit only two home runs in '79, but that was more than three players in the Houston starting lineup (Rafael Landestoy, Craig Reynolds, and Jeffrey Leonard). In 1980 Ashby improved to a .256 average in 352 at bats as the Astros took the NL West title and almost made it to the World Series.
  • Andy had one of his better offensive years in 1981, batting .271 with a .356 on base percentage.
    In 1982 he hit .257 with 12 homers in 339 AB.
  • Ashby missed about 4 1/2 weeks (late June-late July) of the 1983 season and batted .229 in 87 games. He missed at least a month in each of the 1984 and 1985 seasons and appeared in a combined 131 games in the two seasons, batting .262 and .280.
  • In 1986 Andy was again the starting catcher for the Astros and played in 120 games. He batted .257 in 315 at bats. Ashby had his best power year in 1987, hitting 14 homers and batting .288 in 386 AB.
  • Andy missed two months of the 1988 season and batted .238 in 227 at bats. After starting slowly in 1989 (.164 in 22 games), he was released on May 11.
  • After his playing career Ashby was a sports director and sports anchor for a Houston TV station from 1990-1992. He hosted a televised business magazine in Houston from 1994-1995 and then coached and managed in the minors for a few years. Alan was the bullpen coach for the Astros in 1997 and then moved into the Houston radio broadcasting booth from 1998-2006. He was let go after the '06 season, apparently because he was too critical of Houston players and management. Here is an editorial piece about Ashby's dismissal. He is now a broadcaster on Toronto Blue Jays' radio games.

Beginning of 1976 SSPC set -- thanks Jim

Jim from The Phillies Room sent me a 1976 SSPC San Diego Padres team set (minus coach Dick Sisler). Thanks a lot, Jim. These are my first SSPC cards. One fun thing to do with this picture is to try to identify as many players as possible from this team set. I was able to identify about 1/3 of the players. Before I started this project I would have been able to identify only about 3-4 guys. I'm learning! Thanks again, Jim. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

1976 Topps #208 - Mike Lum

  • Mike Lum played at a time when Hawaii natives in big league ball were still rare. Lum was the first American of Japanese ancestry to play in the majors. He played for three teams from 1967-1981 and then played in Japan in 1982.
  • Lum made his debut in September of 1967 with the Atlanta Braves. He batted .259 in 26 at bats. From 1968-1970 Mike was a 4th/5th outfielder and pinch hitter for the Braves. He got a couple hundred at bats a year and usually batted around .250. Mike was 2 for 2 in the 1969 National League Championship Series.
  • In 1971 Mike started a lot of games in right field as Hank Aaron started playing more games at first base. He played in a career-high 145 games and batted .269 with 13 home runs. Lum tailed off a bit in 1972---he batted .228 in 123 games.
  • In 1973 Mike played several games at all three OF positions as well as first base. He had his best offensive year by batting .294 with 16 HR and 82 RBI in 138 games. Lum's offensive production dropped again in 1974 when he batted .233 with 11 HR in 106 games. Mike had a similar year in 1975 (.228 with 8 HR in 124 games) and was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Darrel Chaney after the season.
  • Lum had a huge cut in his playing time but at least he got a ring in 1976. Mike batted .228 in 136 at bats as a pinch hitter and extra outfielder. In 1977 Lum's average dropped to .160 in 125 at bats. He had a better year in 1978 (.267 in 146 at bats) and then became a free agent after the season. Mike signed with the Braves.
  • Mike was a bench player again in 1979. He batted .249 in 217 at bats in '79. In 1980 Mike played in the field only 29 times. He batted .205 in 83 at bats, mostly as a pinch hitter.
  • The 1981 season was Lum's last one in the major leagues. He started in Atlanta, where he batted .091 in 11 at bats. Mike was released by the Braves on May 1. He signed with the Chicago Cubs on May 17 and batted .241 in 58 at bats. Mike was released after the season and signed with the Taiyo Whales of the Japanese League. He played there in 1982 and then retired.
  • Mike had several jobs in baseball after his retirement as a player:
  • 1985 Hitting coach Chicago White Sox
    1990-2005 Roving hitting instructor Chicago White Sox
    2006 Coach West Virginia Power
    2008 Minor League Hitting Coordinator Milwaukee Brewers

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

1976 Topps #207 - Andy Hassler

  • Andy Hassler pitched for six teams from 1971-1985. He had a rough time in postseason starts -- he lost starts in both the 1976 and 1977 ALCS for the Kansas City Royals. Andy pitched two one-hitters (1974 and 1977).
  • Hassler was drafted by the California Angels and pitched in AA in 1970. He spent some time in AAA Salt Lake City in 1971 then was brought up to the Angels in late May. After going 0-3 in six games as a 19-year-old, Andy was sent back to Salt Lake City and pitched there until the middle of the 1973 season. Andy had a three-week stint with the Angels in May-June and then came up to the Angels in September. He was 0-4 with a 3.69 ERA in 1974.
  • Andy started the 1974 season in Salt Lake City and was recalled for good in mid-June. He was 7-11 with a 2.61 ERA in 22 starts for the Angels. Hassler had a tough time of it in 1975 -- he was 3-12 with a 5.94 ERA in 30 games (18 starts).
  • Hassler started the 1976 season 0-6 before he was sold to the Kansas City Royals on July 5. Andy lost 17 straight games as a starter and a reliever in 1975 and 1976 for the Angels. He went 5-6 with a 2.89 ERA for the Royals. Andy took the loss in Game 3 of the ALCS. In 1977 Hassler was 9-6 with a 4.20 ERA. He was the losing pitcher in Game 2 of the ALCS.
  • In 1978 Andy pitched for two teams. He started with the Royals and was sold to the Boston Red Sox on July 24. His total record for the two teams was 3-5 with a 3.87 ERA.
  • Andy struggled for the Red Sox in 1979. He was 1-2 with an 8.80 ERA in eight games before he was sold to the New York Mets on June 15. Hassler went 4-5 with a 3.75 ERA in 29 games for the Mets and was granted free agency after the season. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Hassler didn't spent much time in Pittsburgh in 1980. He pitched in six games and was sold to the California Angels on June 10. Andy was converted to middle relief (and occasional closer) and didn't make another start in his career. He pitched about 40-50 games a year for the Angels from 1980-1983, usually (except 1983) with ERAs around 3.00. He appeared in two games in the 1982 ALCS but didn't figure in any decisions.
  • After a tough 1983 season (0-5, 5.45 ERA), Andy was released during spring training in 1984. He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals on May 2 and spent most of the season in the minor leagues. Hassler appeared in three September games for the Cardinals in 1984. He started the 1985 season with the Cardinals and pitched in 10 games but was sent back to the minors in mid-May and didn't make it back to the majors. Andy was released after the 1985 season and retired. He finished his career with a 44-71 lifetime record (.383 winning percentage).

Monday, September 14, 2009

1976 Topps #206 - Manny Trillo

  • Manny Trillo was an infielder for seven teams from 1973-1989. Manny was a four-time All Star (1977, 1981, 1982, 1983) and won three Gold Glove awards (1979, 1981, 1981).

  • Trillo was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a catcher in 1968 when he was 17 years old. He played two years in the Phillies' system and then was chosen by the Oakland A's in the Rule 5 draft. Manny played in the A's minor league system from 1970-1974. He made his major league debut as a September call-up in 1973 and had cups of coffee for the A's in '73 and '74.

Before the 1975 season Manny was traded (with Darold Knowles and Bob Locker) to the Chicago Cubs for Billy Williams. He became the starting second baseman and finished third (behind John Montefusco and Gary Carter) in NL Rookie of the Year voting. Manny batted .248 and had 70 RBI in 154 games. In 1976 Trillo had a similar season (.239, 24 doubles, 17 stolen bases in 158 games).

  • Trillo made his first NL All star team in 1977. He batted .280 in 152 games. Manny didn't do quite as well in 1978 (.261 in 152 games with 0 stolen bases in 7 attempts). Before the 1979 season Trillo was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. He missed six weeks of the season after being hit by a Rick Sutcliffe pitch on May 3. Trillo ended up batting .260 in 118 games and won his first Gold Glove award.

  • Manny's best season was probably the 1980 season. He batted .292 in 141 games for the World Champion Phillies and won the NL Silver Slugger award at second base. Trillo was named the MVP of the 1980 National League Championship Series (he batted .381 in five games). In 1981 Manny won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards and made the All Star team as he batted .287. In 1982 Trillo batted .271 in 149 games. After the season he was part of the famous "5 for 1" trade that brought Von Hayes from the Cleveland Indians to the Phillies.

  • Trillo was the starting second baseman for the AL All Star team in 1983. He was batting .272 for the Indians when he was sent to the Montreal Expos on August 17 for $300,000 and a minor leaguer. Manny finished the 1983 season batting .264 for the Expos and then signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free agent.

  • Manny spent two years with the Giants, batting .254 in 98 games in 1984 and .224 in 125 games in 1985. In 1984 Trillo missed two months after being hit by a Steve Rogers pitch on May 12. After the 1985 season Manny was traded to the Cubs for Dave Owen.

  • Trillo spent the next three seasons as a utility player with the Cubs, batting .296, .294, and .250 and batting about 200 times a year. After the 1988 season Trillo was granted free agency and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. He was released by the Reds on May 25 after batting .205 in 17 games.

  • Manny had a few stints as a minor league hitting coach since his retirement. He most recently was the hitting coach for the White Sox' AA Birmingham club in 2004 and 2005.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

1976 Topps #205 - Major League Leading Firemen-1975

  • What is a fireman? That's what we wondered when we got these cards. Most of the time these pitchers weren't really considered to be stars (at least not like the other leaders). Now everyone knows who the better stoppers are.
  • Rich Gossage led the AL in saves three times (1975, 1978, 1980). He won only one Rolaids Relief Man of the Year award (1978), but he was the best reliever of his time.
  • Al Hrabosky had his best season in 1975. He was 13-3 with a league-leading 22 saves and a 1.66 ERA. Al finished 3rd in NL Cy Young Award voting and 8th in MVP voting.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

1976 Topps #204 - AL Strikeout Leaders

  • It's strange seeing an AL strikeout leaders card from the 1970s without Nolan Ryan on it. In 1975 he didn't pitch after August 24. Ryan struck out "only" 186 batters and started only 28 games.

  • 1975 was the only season Frank Tanana would lead the AL in strikeouts. He struck out 261 batters in '76 but Ryan returned to form and retook the strikeout crown. After 1977 Tanana wasn't as much of a strikeout pitcher.

  • Bert Blyleven led the AL in strikeouts once -- 1985. It's interesting that his only strikeout crown occurred so late in his career. Bert struck out 200 or more batters eight times in his career. He struck out 3701 batters in his career (5th all-time).

  • Gaylord Perry struck out 200 or more batters eight times, but never led his league in strikeouts. Perry struck out 3534 batters in his career (8th all-time).

Friday, September 11, 2009

1976 Topps #203 - NL Strikeout Leaders

  • Tom Seaver led the NL in strikeouts five times. He set a record by striking out over 200 batters nine years in a row (1968-1976). Tom fell four strikeouts short of extending that streak in 1977. He struck out 3640 batters in his career (6th all-time).

  • John Montefusco had his biggest strikeout season (215) in 1975. He never again struck out over 200 batters in a season.

  • Andy Messersmith had three seasons of striking out 200 or more batters (1969, 1974, and 1975). Andy never led the league in strikeouts, but struck out 6 or more batters per nine innings in all but three of his 12 seasons.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

1976 Topps #202 - AL ERA Leaders

  • The race for the AL ERA championship in 1975 wasn't much of a race. Mr. Palmer had an ERA almost 1/2 run lower than his closest competition. Palmer won his second (and last) ERA title in '75. He bounced back from an off-year in 1974 (7-12, 3.27) to post a 22-9 record with a 2.09 ERA. He also led the AL in shutouts with 10. Jim won his third AL Cy Young award in 1975.

  • Jim Hunter won the AL ERA title in 1974. The 1975 season, his first with the New York Yankees, was the last one in which he would win over 20 games. Jim completed 30 of his 39 starts in 1975!

  • Dennis Eckersley came as close as he ever would to winning an ERA title in 1975. In his rookie season, Eckersley was 13-7 with a 2.60 ERA in 36 games (24 starts). Eckersley didn't receive any consideration for AL Rookie of the Year in '75 -- Fred Lynn got 23.5 out of the 24 available points (Jim Rice got the other 0.5 points).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

1976 Topps #201 - NL ERA Leaders

  • Randy Jones had the first of two straight huge pitching seasons in 1975. He led the NL in ERA and went from 8-22 in 1974 to 20-12 in 1975. He had a better year in 1976 and was the NL Cy Young Award winner, but arm troubles derailed a promising career.
  • Andy Messersmith also had a great season in 1975 (20-6, 2.59). He was 19-14 in 1976, then signed a big contract with the Atlanta Braves (he was one of the first free agents). Andy had a pretty good year in 1977 then kind of fell off the face of the earth. "I wasn't prepared for the pressure that came down [after the Seitz ruling and his Braves deal]. I didn't know anything about it. I came out as the dirty dog. That was a real hard thing for me. I just wasn't ready for it."---Andy Messersmith, to the New York Times, after his career ended.
  • Tom Seaver led the NL in ERA three times (1970, 1971, 1973). He had only one season with an ERA over 3.00 (1974, 3.20) from his rookie season in 1967 through the 1978 season.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

6 in 30 -- My Memories of 1974 Topps

My first year of collecting was 1974. I was seven years old and really didn't know what I was doing. I'm sure I was hoodwinked a few times in trades with the neighborhood kids. I figured for this "6 cards in 30 seconds" activity I would pick the six cards from this set that are the most memorable for me.

In my first pack of 1974 Topps I got one of the Hank Aaron Special cards. This is probably the one I got, but I'm not entirely sure. It was cool to see what the older cards looked like and I learned some historical things by reading the back of the card. I don't know how many hours I spent reading the backs of cards and memorizing stats. When I first got the card I wasn't sure who Hank Aaron was, but I learned all about him when he broke the HR record early in the season. I remember seeing it on TV at the house down the street. After that I figured that anyone who got the first six cards in the set had to be a great player. Topps should do a subset of "special" cards when a veteran is at the end of his career. They did one in 1985 when Pete Rose was about to break the hit record. More of these subsets would be cool.

The team checklist cards were a good way to keep track of team sets. It was nice to have a separate team checklist card instead of marking up a team photo card. These were inserted in each pack, so they weren't scarce. It would be nice if Topps would start doing this again.

This is an example of the great action shots that were in this set. I didn't notice it much at the time, but the '74 set is probably one of the better sets for action photos in the 70s and 80s. The horizontal orientation is also cool. There were several horizontal cards in this set, but Topps didn't overdo it. This was the last year Topps did horizontal cards for quite a while.

Here's another good action shot of my favorite player of the time. Pete really messed up later in life, but he was a lot of fun to watch back in the 70s. It looks like he's going to war in this picture.

You're probably thinking, "What the heck is he doing here?" This card is memorable because the one copy of the card that I had for quite a while (until I bought a mint set years later) had the right corner torn off of it. My neighbor Jimmy and I were flipping cards on the family room floor of his house and his little sister came crawling over. She was crying and screaming like little ones often do. She picked up my Brent Strom card and stuck it in her mouth. It didn't take long for the top right corner to disappear. I still have that card somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment.

I preferred the Cubs and White Sox team cards during this era. I could actually see who was who in these pictures. It was a mystery why Topps did team cards in which the players were virtually unrecognizable. Now it's fun to scan a team card from that era, enlarge it, and see how many players I recognize on the photo.
The 1974 set design is kind of bland, but I think it's an underrated set.