Tuesday, August 31, 2010

1976 Topps #541 - Steve Mingori

  • Steve Mingori pitched in the majors from 1970-1979, mostly for the Kansas City Royals. Steve was mostly a relief pitcher -- he started only two games in his career. Mingori was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1965. Steve pitched in the minors from 1965-1969 without making the Reds ballclub. After the 1969 season Steve was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Jay Ward.
  • Mingori started the 1970 season in the minors and was brought up to the Indians in August. Steve pitched in 21 games and was 1-0 with a 2.66 ERA. Mingori was with the Indians for the entire 1971 season. He pitched in 24 games and had a 1-2 record with four saves and a 1.43 ERA. 
  • In 1972 Mingori was a closer (along with two other pitchers) and recorded ten saves. He also was 0-6 with a 3.95 ERA in 41 games. Steve spent some time in AAA in July of 1972.
  • Steve started the 1973 season in the minors. He pitched in five games for the Indians in 1973 (0-0, 6.17 ERA) before being traded to his hometown Kansas City Royals on June 8 for Mike Jackson. Mingori then spent about a month with Kansas City's AAA Omaha club before being called up in mid-July. Steve pitched in 19 games for the Royals (including starting the last game of the season on September 30) and was 3-3 with one save and a 3.04 ERA.
  • Mingori started the 1974 in Omaha. He was recalled in May and was in the majors to stay until his retirement in 1979. Steve was 2-3 with two saves and a 2.81 ERA in 36 games in 1974. In 1975 Mingori was 0-3 with two saves and a 2.50 ERA in 36 games.
  • Steve was used as the left-handed closer (Mark Littell was the righty closer) in 1976. Mingori went 5-5 with ten saves and a 2.32 ERA in 55 games during the 1976 season. Steve pitched in three games in the ALCS and saved game 4. He had a 2.70 ERA in 3.1 innings during the series.
  • Mingori had another good season out of the bullpen in 1977. He was 2-4 with four saves and a 3.09 ERA in 39 games. During the 1977 ALCS Steve pitched in three games and didn't allow a run in 1.1 innings.
  • Steve was 1-4 with seven saves and a 2.74 ERA in 45 games in 1978. He appeared in game 1 of the ALCS and allowed three runs in 3.2 innings.
  • Mingori had a rough year in 1979. He went 3-3 with one save and a 5.79 ERA in 30 games. He pitched in his final game on September 2, 1979 and was released after the season.
  • Steve had back trouble that caused him problems after his career. He coached for the Toronto Blue Jays for a time in the early 1990s.
  • Steve died of natural causes on July 10, 2008.
  • Liked to face: Jack Brohamer (.000 in 11 AB); Ken Henderson (.077 in 13 AB); Chris Chambliss (.125 in 24 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rod Carew (.500 in 24 AB); Bucky Dent (.476 in 21 AB); Mickey Stanley (.467 in 15 AB)

Monday, August 30, 2010

1976 Topps #540 - Bill Freehan

  • The 1976 season was the final year of a long and successful career for Bill Freehan. Freehan was  born in Detroit and spent his entire career playing for his hometown ballclub.
  • Freehan won five straight Gold Glove awards (1965-1969) and was an AL All Star 11 times (1964-1973, 1975).
  • Bill was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1961. He played in the minors in 1961 and was brought up for a short look (4 for 10 in four games) at the end of the 1961 season. Freehan spent the 1962 season with AAA Denver and then came back to the Tigers to stay in 1963. Polished Pro at 21 - July 1963 Baseball Digest 
  • Freehan backed up Gus Triandos at catcher and also played some first base in 1963. He batted .243 with nine home runs in 100 games.
  • Bill took over the starting catcher position in 1964 and didn't relinquish it for several years. Freehan batted .300 with 18 HR and 80 RBI in 144 games and finished 7th in MVP voting. He threw out 53% of opposing base stealers to lead the AL.
  • Freehan had off-years at the plate in 1965 (.234, 10 HR) and in 1966 (.234, 12 HR).  Baseball's Next Superstar? - May 1965 Baseball Digest. In 1967 Bill was hit by a pitch 20 times to lead the AL and also led the league with 15 intentional walks. Freehan batted .282 with 20 HR and 74 RBI in 1967 and finished 3rd in MVP voting.
  • The Tigers won it all in 1968 and Freehan was a big part of that ballclub. Bill finished second to teammate Denny McLain in MVP voting as he batted .263 with 25 HR and 84 RBI. He also led the AL in hit by pitch again with 24. Bill went 2 for 28 (.083) in the 1968 World Series.
  • In 1969 Freehan batted .262 with 16 HR and 49 RBI. Bill missed the last month of the 1970 season when he had spinal surgery and batted .241 with 16 HR in 117 games.
  • Freehan batted .277 with 21 HR and 71 RBI in 148 games in 1971. Bill played in 111 games in 1972 and batted .262 with 10 HR and 56 RBI. Bill fractured  his right thumb late in the 1972 season and the Oakland A's took some baserunning liberties on him in the American League Championship Series. He batted .250 (3 for 12) in the 1972 ALCS. In 1973 Bill started to play less often behind the plate as manager Billy Martin decided to platoon him. He batted .234 with six HR in 110 games in 1973.
  • Bill started more games at first base (65) than at catcher (64) in 1974. It was the first season since 1964 that he didn't make the AL All Star team. Freehan batted .297 with 18 HR and 60 RBI in 1974. After the 1974 season Freehan was almost traded to the Philadelphia Phillies with Mickey Stanley for Bob Boone but the Phillies cancelled the deal at the last minute.
  • The 1975 season was Bill's last one as a full-time player. He batted .246 with 14 HR and 47 RBI in 120 games. Freehan started 62 games at catcher in his final season (1976) and batted .270 with five home runs in 71 total games. The Tigers released Bill after the 1976 season and he retired.
  • After his playing career Bill coached Lance Parrish and taught him some things about catching. Freehan also was a successful businessman in the Detroit area. He did some broadcasting for the Seattle Mariners (1979-1980) and the Tigers (1984-1985). Freehan was the head coach of the University of Michigan baseball team from 1989-1995. He was disturbed by reports of problems with the baseball program and his tenure restored the program's integrity. Bill also served as the Tigers' organizational catching instructor from 2002-2005.
  • Where are They Now? - June 1989 Baseball Digest
  • Turn Back the Clock - June 2000 Baseball Digest
  • Freehan's SABR biography.
  • Bill Freehan's All Star Games:
    • 1964 - selected but did not play
    • 1965 - substitute (1 for 1, BB)
    • 1966 - starting catcher (1 for 2)
    • 1967 - starting catcher (0 for 5)
    • 1968 - starting catcher (0 for 2)
    • 1969 - starting catcher (2 for 2, 2 RBI, HR off of Steve Carlton)
    • 1970 - starting catcher (0 for 1)
    • 1971 - starting catcher (0 for 3)
    • 1972 - starting catcher (0 for 1, BB, run scored)
    • 1973 - selected but did not play
    • 1975 - selected but did not play
  • Liked to face: Jack Hamilton (.533 in 15 AB); Ross Grimsley (.483 in 29 AB); Frank Bertaina (.450 in  20 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rick Wise (.000 in 22 AB); Gaylord Perry (.040 in 25 AB); Earl Wilson (.094 in 32 AB)


Sunday, August 29, 2010

1976 Topps #539 - John Balaz

  • John Balaz was drafted by the California Angels in 1970. Balaz worked his way through the Angels' system from 1970-1974 as a power-hitting outfielder.
  • Balaz came up to the Angels in September of 1974. John batted .238 in 14 games in '74.
  • John played for AAA Salt Lake City in the beginning of the 1975 season and was called up to the Angels in late June. Balaz batted .244 in 44 games for the Angels. After the 1975 season Balaz was traded with Dave Machemer and Dick Sharon for Dick Drago.
  • John hit 24 home runs for Boston's AAA Rhode Island club in 1976 but he batted only .238. Balaz played for the AAA clubs of the LA Dodgers and the San Diego Padres in 1977 and hit 28 home runs for the two teams.
  • Balaz played in the Mexican League from 1978-1980 and then retired from baseball.
  • John now lives with his wife in San Diego. Here is John's TTM information.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

1976 Topps #538 - Pat Darcy

  • I thought Pat Darcy was cool because he lived in Arizona. Now days there are a lot more players who live in Arizona so it isn't that big of a deal anymore.
  • Pat Darcy was signed by the Houston Astros in 1969. Pat slowly climbed up the ladder in Houston's system from 1969-1973. Darcy pitched a no-hitter for the Columbus Astros on August 29, 1971. 
  • During spring training in 1974 Darcy was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Dennis Menke. Pat remembers:  “Bob Howsam, the Reds General Manager, called and told me about the rules, especially about the haircuts. I knew about that because at Denver, I had pitched against Indianapolis a lot. So when I reported to the Reds, I went up to Sparky and said I knew the rules and got a haircut. He said, ‘Fine kid, but get another haircut.’ It wasn’t short enough for Sparky.” (John Ring interview with Pat Darcy)
  • Darcy pitched well for AAA Indianapolis in 1974 and was called up at the end of the season. Pat was 1-0 with a 3.71 ERA in six games (two starts) for the Reds at the end of the 1974 season.
  • Pat  made the Reds ballclub in 1975 and became their fifth starter. Darcy was 11-5 with a 3.58 ERA in 27 games (22 starts) during the regular season. Pat wasn't used in the NLCS -- he was slated to start game 4 but the Reds swept the series in three games and Pat wasn't needed.
  • Darcy pitched in game 3 of the World Series (1 run in 2 innings) and then was the eighth pitcher used by the Reds in that classic 12-inning game 6. Pat set the Red Sox down in order in the 10th and 11th innings and then gave up the famous home run to Carlton Fisk in the 12th inning.
  • Darcy started the 1976 season in the Reds' rotation but got hammered in his first three starts and was demoted to the bullpen. He started one more game in 1976 but wasn't successful. Pat was 2-3 with two saves and a 6.23 ERA in 11 games (4 starts) when he was sent to Indianapolis on June 12. Darcy spent the rest of the season in Indianapolis and never pitched in the majors again.
  • During spring training in 1977 Pat was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Mike Caldwell. Darcy pitched in the Cardinals' system in 1977 and in 1978 and then missed the entire 1979 season. He tried to come back with the Chicago White Sox in 1980 and pitched for their AAA Iowa club, but the comeback was unsuccessful. Pat retired after the 1980 season.
  • Pat battled arm and shoulder problems during his career. A shoulder injury he suffered in 1973 eventually caught up with him and shortened his career.
  • After he retired Pat went back to college and earned his bachelor's degree. He now works in commercial real estate and banking in Tucson. Here is a good article about Pat that talks about his memories of 1975 and other career memories.
  • Darcy ran for mayor of Tucson in 1999 but lost in the Democratic primary.
  • Here is a Cincinnati Magazine article from July 1976 that discusses life on the road for the Cincinnati Reds. Pat has several quotes in the article. At the end of the article Pat gives a Chicago cabbie a large tip and gets the cabbie's number. Pat tells the cabbie that he will hire him for the night the next time the Reds are in Chicago. Pat was sent down a few weeks later and was unable to make good on the deal.


Friday, August 27, 2010

1976 Topps #537 - Tony Muser

  • Tony Muser was a major leaguer in 1969 and from 1971-1978. He was mostly a first baseman but also saw some playing time at third base and in the outfield. Muser was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1967. Tony played in the  minors from 1967-1969. Muser had a small taste of the majors in 1969 when the Red Sox called him up in September. Tony played in two games and went 1 for 9 (.111).
  • Muser spent the 1970 season in the minors -- he played for Cincinnati's AAA Indianapolis club on a loan arrangement. During spring training in 1971 Tony was traded with Vincente Romo to the Chicago White Sox for Duane Josephson and Danny  Murphy. Muser spent most of the 1971 season in the minors and batted .313 in 11 games for Chicago.
  • Tony started the 1972 season in the minors and was called up in early July. Muser was used mostly as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement and batted .279 in 61 at bats.
  • Muser became the starting first baseman in late June of 1973 after an injury to Dick Allen. Tony batted .285 in 106 games but he hit only four home runs and the White Sox really missed Allen's power.
  • Muser returned to a backup role in 1974. Tony played in 103 games and batted .291 in 206 at bats. In 1975 Tony started with the White Sox (.243 in 43 games) and was traded to the Baltimore Orioles on June 15 for Jesse Jefferson. Muser was used mainly as a defensive replacement and batted .317 in 82 at bats for the Orioles to finish the 1975 season.
  • Tony was a backup first baseman and defensive replacement for Lee May in 1976. Tony also played at 1B most of the time when May was used at DH. Muser played in 136 games and batted .227 in 336 at bats. In 1977 Muser backed up at 1B again and played in 120 games. He batted .229 in 118 at bats.
  • Muser was released before the 1978 season. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and spent the first three months of the season playing for AAA Spokane. Tony was brought up to the Brewers in July and batted .133 in 15 games. Muser retired from major league baseball with a total of seven lifetime home runs.
  • Tony played in Japan in 1979. He came back to the Brewers organization in 1980 and managed in their farm system through the 1984 season. Muser coached for the Brewers from 1985-1989. He went back to manage Milwaukee's AAA Denver club in 1991 and 1992.
  • Muser was the hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs from 1993-1997. Tony became the manager of the Kansas City Royals on July 9, 1997 and managed the team until he was fired early in the 2002 season.
  • Tony was a coach with the San Diego Padres from 2003-2006. He managed a rookie league team for the Padres in 2007 and he is now a roving minor league instructor.
  • Liked to face: Steve Hargan (.500 in 14 AB); Jim Palmer (.467 in 15 AB); Doyle Alexander (.389 in 18 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jim Kern (.000 in 12 AB); Vern Ruhle (.071 in 14 AB); Bill Singer (.095 in 21 AB)


Thursday, August 26, 2010

1976 Topps #536 - Mike Thompson

  • By the time this card was released Mike Thompson had already pitched in his last  major league game. Thompson pitched in the majors in 1971 and from 1973-1975. Mike was drafted by the Washington Senators in 1967. Mike pitched in the minors from 1967-1971. In 1971 Thompson had a short stint with the Senators in May and was brought up again in late July. In all Mike pitched in 16 games (12 starts) and was 1-6 with a 4.86 ERA.
  • Thompson was in the minors again in 1972. Before the 1973 season Thompson was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Charlie Hudson and Mike Nagy. Thompson spent most of the 1973 season in AAA. He made two September starts for the Cardinals (no record, 0.00 ERA in four innings).
  • Mike started the 1974 season with St. Louis and was 0-3 with a 5.63 ERA in 19 games (4 starts). Thompson was sold to the Atlanta Braves on September 17. He made one start for the Braves (no record, 4.50 ERA in four innings) in 1974.
  • Thompson played in his last major league season in 1975. He went 0-6 with a 4.70  ERA in 16 games (10 starts).
  • Just before the 1976 season Mike was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Terry Crowley. Thompson spent the season in AAA Indianapolis. After the 1976 season Mike was traded to the Texas Rangers for a minor leaguer. Thompson retired rather than report to the Rangers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

1976 Topps #535 - Dave Nelson

  • Dave Nelson played in the majors from 1968-1977. Nelson was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1964. Dave spent four seasons (1964-1967) in the minors before making the Cleveland ballclub in 1968.
  • Nelson backed up at 2B and SS in 1968 and batted .233 with 23 stolen bases in 88 games. Dave backed up at 2B and in the outfield in 1969 and batted .203 in 52 games. 
  • After the 1969 season Nelson was traded (with Ron Law and Horatio Pina) to the Washington Senators for Dennis Higgins and Barry Moore.
  • Dave started the 1970 season with the Senators but was sent to the minors in early June. Nelson came back to the Senators when the rosters expanded in September. Dave batted .159 in 47 games for the Senators in 1970.
  • Nelson started the 1971 season in the minors and was brought up in  mid-June. Dave batted .280 in 85 games as a backup 3B and 2B.
  • Dave became the starting third baseman for the Texas Rangers (nee Washington Senators) in 1972. He batted .226 in 145 games with little power. Nelson did show his speed on the bases -- he stole 51 bases and led the AL with 17 times caught stealing.
  • Nelson moved over to start at 2B in 1973. He made the AL All Star team (he played late in the game as a defensive replacement) and it was his best season. Dave batted .286 with 24 doubles and 7 HR in 142 games and also stole 43 bases.
  • Dave started at 2B for the Rangers in 1974 but his offense dropped off. Nelson batted .236 with 25 stolen bases in 121 games in 1974. 
  • Nelson had a rough 1975 season. He and Yankee manager Bill Virdon exchanged words after Nelson was hit by a pitch during a spring training game and it escalated into a benches-clearing brawl. Dave was injured and missed almost four months of the 1975 season. Nelson batted .213 in 28 games in 1975.
  • After the 1975 season Dave was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Nelson Briles. Dave shared time with Cookie Rojas and young Frank White at second base and played occasionally at DH. Nelson batted .235 with 15 stolen bases in 78 games during the regular season. Dave made one pinch hitting appearance in the ALCS (he grounded out against Sparky Lyle in game 3).
  • Nelson was a bench player in 1977 and batted .188 in 27 games. Dave was released at the end of spring training in 1978.
  • Dave coached at Texas Christian University in 1980 and then coached with the Chicago White Sox from 1981-1984. Nelson then worked for the Oakland A's as a director of minor league instruction (1986-1987) and for the Montreal Expos as a minor league baserunning instructor (1990-1991). He also coached with the Cleveland Indians (1992-1997) and with the Milwaukee Brewers (2001-2006). 
  • Nelson did some radio announcing with the Chicago Cubs in 1988 and 1989 and with the Indians in 1998 and 1999. Dave is now an analyst for the Milwaukee Brewers on FSN Wisconsin. He also is the Brewers' director of alumni relations and sits on the board of directors for Open Arms Home for Children (provides homes for children affected by South Africa's AIDS pandemic).
  • Liked to face: Eddie Fisher (.545 in 11 AB); Tom Bradley (.471 in 17 AB); Milt Wilcox (.438 in 16 AB)
  • Hated to face: Ray Lamb (.000 in 10 AB); Joe Decker (.095 in 21 AB); Dick Woodson (.120 in 25 AB). 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1976 Topps #534 - Stan Bahnsen

  • Stan Bahnsen pitched in the majors from 1966-1982. Bahnsen was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1965. He pitched in the minors in 1966 and was called up at the end of the season. Stan was 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA in four games (three starts) for the Yankees in 1966.
  • Bahnsen was in the minors for the entire 1967 season. As the back of the card says, he pitched two no-hitters in the minors including a perfect game on July 9. 
  • Bahnsen made the Yankees ballclub in 1968 and won the AL Rookie of the Year award. Stan was 17-12 with a 2.05 ERA in 34 starts as he easily beat out Del Unser for the award.
  • Bahnsen had a tough sophomore season in 1969 -- he was 9-16 with a 3.83 ERA in 33 starts. Stan had solid seasons for the Yankees in 1970 (14-11, 3.33 ERA) and in 1971 (14-12, 3.35 ERA). After the 1971 season Stan was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Rich McKinney.
  • Stan was a good addition to the White Sox staff. In 1972 he was 21-16 with a 3.60 ERA in 41 starts. Bahnsen was 18-21 with a 3.57 ERA in 1973. Those 21 losses led the American League. In his last full season with the White Sox in 1974 Stan was 12-15 with a 4.70 ERA.
  • Bahnsen started the 1975 season with the White Sox. He was 4-6 with a 6.01 ERA in 11 starts when he and Skip Pitlock were traded to the Oakland A's for Dave Hamilton and Chet Lemon on June 15. Stan went 6-7 with a 3.24 ERA for the A's to finish the 1976 season.
  • Stan wasn't getting used  much by the A's in 1977 (1-2, 6.14 ERA in 11 games) and on May 22 he was traded to the Montreal Expos for Mike Jorgensen. Bahnsen was in the Montreal starting rotation for the rest of the 1977 season and went 8-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 22 starts.
  • In 1978 the Expos moved Stan to the bullpen. Bahnsen was 1-5 with seven saves and a 3.67 ERA in 44 games (1 start) in 1978. Stan then had two solid seasons in the Montreal bullpen. In 1979 he was 3-1 with five saves and a 3.15 ERA in 55 games. Bahnsen was 7-6 with four saves and a 3.05 ERA in 57 games in 1980. Stan decided to try the free agent market after the 1980 season and ended up signing with the Expos again.
  • Stan didn't get used as much in 1981. In 25 games (3 starts) Bahnsen was 2-1 with a 4.96 ERA. After Dick Williams was fired as the  Montreal manager in September and replaced by Jim Fanning, Bahnsen didn't have many kind words to say about how Williams handled the pitching staff. Stan pitched 1.1 innings in game 3 of the 1981 NLDS and allowed no runs and one hit.
  • Bahnsen didn't make the Montreal ballclub in 1982 and was released at the end of spring training. The Expos ended up eating a $300,000 contract. Stan signed with the California Angels on April 8. Bahnsen was 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA in seven games when the Angels released him on May 14. Stan hooked up with the Philadelphia Phillies on May 31 and spent a lot of the rest of the season in the minors. Stan had a 1.35 ERA in eight games for the Phillies in 1982. Stan was released after the 1982 season. Stan told the Phillies he wouldn't come back before the 1983 season (he was going to retire to enter business) but apparently had a change of  mind later in the season. He pitched for the Phillies' AAA Reading club in 1983 but didn't make it back to the majors.
  • Stan pitched in the Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1989 and 1990. He pitched in the Netherlands in 1992.
  • Stan now works with the promotions department of MSC Cruises. He is involved in getting retired major leaguers to participate in activities on cruise ships such as autograph and story telling sessions. He also helps out in New York Yankee broadcasts. On August 13, 2010 he returned to his hometown (Council Bluffs, IA) to help unveil a new baseball field. Stan now lives in Florida.
  • Liked to face: Frank White (.000 in 13 AB); John Roseboro (.056 in 18 AB); Roger Repoz (.077 in 39 AB)
  • Hated to face: Tom Grieve (.636 in 11 AB); Johnny Bench (.500 with 2 HR in 12 AB); Ron Blomberg (.500 in 26 AB)


Monday, August 23, 2010

1976 Topps #533 - Lee Richard

  • Lee Richard played in the majors from 1971-1976. Richard was the #1 draft pick (#6 overall) of the Chicago White Sox in 1970. Lee played in the minors in 1970 and then made the Chicago ballclub in 1971. 
  • Richard was the starting shortstop for most of the first two months of the season, but he didn't hit well enough to keep the starting position. Lee batted .231 in 87 games for the White Sox in 1971.
  • Lee was in the minors for most of the 1972 season. He was called up at the end of the 1972 season and batted .241 in 11 games.
  • Richard was in the minors for the entire 1973 season. He started the 1974 season in the minors and was called up in late June. Lee was used in a utility role in '74 and batted .164 in 32 games. Richard stayed with the White Sox for the entire season in 1975 and batted .200 in 45 at bats. He was mostly used as a pinch runner in '75.
  • After the 1975 season Richard was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Buddy Bradford and Greg Terlecky. Lee batted .176 in 91 at bats in 1976 and was released after the season.
  • Richard played in AAA for the next two seasons but was never called back up to the majors.
  • Richard had the nickname "Bee Bee" that he got while he was a fastball pitcher in high school. White Sox announcer Harry Caray used to call Lee "The Juggler" due to his defensive struggles. Dick Williams thought Lee may have been the fastest player of his time. Richard was used a lot as a pinch runner because he didn't hit or field well.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

1976 Topps #532 - Milt May

  • Milt May was in the majors from 1970-1984. May was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1968. Milt was signed as an infielder and the Pirates converted him to catcher. May spent three seasons in the minors and was brought up at the end of the 1970 season a month after he turned 20. Milt played in five games and went 2 for 4 (.500).
  • May was a backup catcher for the next two seasons. In 1971 he batted .278 in 49 games. Milt appeared in one game in the NLCS and went 0 for 1. He played in two games in the World Series and was 1 for 2. He singled in Bob Robertson with the winning run in the seventh inning of game 4 In 1972 Milt batted .281 in 57 games. He played in one game in the NLCS and was 1 for 2.
  • Roberto Clemente died in the offseason and the Pirates decided to try Manny Sanguillen in RF and start May at catcher. In the middle of the season Milt went back to the bench when Sanguillen was unable to adjust to playing right field. May batted .269 in 101 games in 1973. After the 1973 season the Pirates traded May to the Houston Astros for Jerry Reuss.
  • Milt became Houston's starting catcher in 1974 and performed well, batting .289 with 7 HR in 127 games. In 1975 Milt batted .241 in 111 games. On May 5, 1975 Milt drove in Bob Watson with the millionth run in major league history. After the 1975 season May and Jim Crawford were traded to the Detroit Tigers for Mark Lemongello, Gene Pentz, Leon Roberts, and Terry Humphrey.
  • Milt played in only six games in 1976 (.280 in 25 AB). He broke his ankle on April 20 and missed the rest of the season. May batted .249 with a career-high 12 HR in 1977. May batted .250 with 10 HR in 1978. The Tigers gave the starting catcher  job to Lance Parrish in 1979 and May's playing time sharply declined. He went 3 for 11 in six games for the Tigers before he was sold to the Chicago White Sox on May 27. Milt batted .272 in 65 games for the White Sox in '79.
  • May became a free agent and signed a four-year contract with the San Francisco Giants. Milt batted .260 in 111 games for the Giants in 1980. May had his best year for the Giants in 1981 when he batted .310 in 97 games. In 1982 May batted .263 in 114 games.
  • In 1983 Milt split time with Bob Brenly behind the plate. Milt batted .247 in 66 games for the Giants before he was traded (along with cash) to the Pirates on August 19 for Steve Nicosia. Milt played in seven games for the Pirates in 1983 and batted .250.
  • Tony Pena had a firm hold on the starting catcher job in 1984 and May was used mostly as a pinch hitter. Milt batted .177 in 96 at bats in 1984 and retired after the season.
  • May started coaching for the Pirates in 1987. He was the hitting coach for the Pirates from 1987 through 1996. He was the hitting coach for the Florida Marlins in 1997 and 1998 and then coached for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the first part of the 1999 season. Milt was the pitching coach for the Colorado Rockies for the last part of the 1999 season. He was a scout for the Rockies in 2000 and the minor league hitting coordinator for the Pirates in 2001. He now lives in Bradenton, FL.
  • Liked to face: Pedro Borbon (.615 in 13 AB); Don Robinson (.500 in 16 AB); Luis Tiant (.409 in 22 AB)
  • Hated to face: Ron Guidry (.000 in 9 AB); Tom Burgmeier (.063 in 16 AB); Frank Pastore (.071 in 28 AB)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

1976 Topps #531 - New York Mets

  • The 1976 New York Mets had awesome pitching, but they didn't have enough offense to overcome the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates. Believe it or not, ace Tom Seaver was actually only third on the staff in wins. Seaver won 14 games while Jerry Koosman won 21 and Jon Matlack won 17.
  • Joe Frazier managed the Mets for the entire 1976 season and the club was 86-76. After the Mets started poorly (15-30), Frazier was relieved of his duties on  May 31, 1977. Here is an interesting blog entry about Frazier's time as the Mets' manager. There is a comment at the end of the entry that appears to be written by one of Joe's sons.
  • Team Record: 86-76 (3rd in NL East, 15 games behind Philadelphia)
  • Attendance: 1,468,754 (5th in NL)
  • Team Batting: .246 (9th in NL)
  • Team Home Runs: 102 (5th in NL)
  • Team Stolen Bases: 66 (12th in NL)
  • Team ERA: 2.94 (1st in NL)
  • Team Fielding: .979 (4th in NL)
  • NL All Stars: Dave Kingman (starting RF); Tom Seaver (P); Jon Matlack (P)
  • League Leaders: Tom Seaver (strikeouts - 235); Jon Matlack (shutouts - 6)
  • Batting Leader: Joe Torre (.306 in 310 AB); Ed Kranepool (.292 in 415 AB)
  • Home Run Leader: Dave Kingman (37)
  • RBI Leader: Dave Kingman (86)
  • Stolen Base Leader: Bud Harrelson, Bruce Boisclair (9)
  • Victories Leader: Jerry Koosman (21)
  • Losses Leader: Mickey Lolich (13)
  • ERA Leader (starters): Tom Seaver (2.59)
  • ERA Leader (relievers): Skip Lockwood (2.67)
  • Saves Leader: Skip Lockwood (19)


Friday, August 20, 2010

1976 Topps #530 - Don Sutton

  • Don Sutton had a very long Hall of Fame career. Sutton was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1964. Don moved up the ladder quickly, pitching for three clubs in the minors in 1965. He made the ballclub during spring training in 1966 and except for a brief stint in 1968 and a rehab assignment in 1988 he never looked back.
  • Sutton was a good fourth starter for the Dodgers in 1966. He went 12-12 with a 2.99 ERA in 35 starts. Don wasn't used in the World Series. By and for the Little Leagues - July 1966 Baseball Digest. Sutton moved up to #3 starter in 1967 after the retirement of Sandy Koufax and was 11-15 with a 3.95 ERA.
  • The Dodgers were mediocre in the first few years after Koufax retired and Sutton's record showed it. In 1968 Don was 11-15 with a 2.95 ERA. Sutton was 17-18 with a 3.47 ERA in 1969 and 15-13 with a 4.08 ERA in 1970.
  • In 1971 Don went 17-12 with a 2.54 ERA. Sutton made his first NL All Star team in 1972 (he pitched the 4th and 5th innings without allowing a run) and went 19-9 with a 2.08 ERA. Don also led the NL with nine shutouts in '72. Sutton had a similar year in 1973 (18-10, 2.43 ERA) and pitched a scoreless fifth inning in the All Star Game.
  • Sutton didn't make the All Star team in 1974 but he helped the Dodgers win the NL West title by going 19-9 with a 3.23 ERA. Don led the NL with 40 games started. Don started and won games 1 and 4 of the NLCS. Sutton started and won game 2 of the World Series, which was the only game the Dodgers would win in that series.
  • Don went 16-13 with a 2.87 ERA in 1975. He pitched two scoreless innings in the 1975 All Star Game. In 1976 Sutton won over 20 games for the only time in his career. He had a 21-10 record with a 3.06 ERA.
  • Before the 1977 season Don signed a four-year, $1 million contract. Sutton made his last NL All Star team in 1977. He started the game, pitched three scoreless innings, and got the win. During the regular season Don had a 14-8 record and a 3.18 ERA. Sutton started game 2 of the NLCS and had a complete-game victory. He started game 1 of the World Series and pitched into the 8th inning but didn't get the decision (the Dodgers lost the game in 12 innings). Don started game 5 and pitched a complete game for the victory.
  • Don was 15-11 with a 3.55 ERA in 1978. He started and lost game 3 of the NLCS. Sutton started and lost games 2 and 5 of the World Series. Don and Dodger star Steve Garvey got into a scuffle in the locker room before a game on August 20. Garvey was upset about some things Sutton said in an article. Neither player was seriously hurt, and Sutton issued an apology several days later.
  • The Dodgers had a rough year in 1979 and Sutton struggled along with the rest of the team (12-15, 3.82 ERA). In 1980 Don bounced back and led the NL in ERA. Sutton was 13-5 with a 2.20 ERA for the season. After the 1980 season Sutton became a free agent and signed with the Houston Astros.
  • In 1981 Don was 11-9 with a 2.61 ERA. Sutton suffered a fractured kneecap on October 2 when he was hit by a pitch from Jerry Reuss. The injury caused Don to miss the Division Series against the Dodgers, which the Astros lost three games to two.
  • Don started off well for the Astros in 1982, but the Astros weren't contending that year. Don was 13-8  with a 3.00 ERA when he was traded on August 30 to the Milwaukee Brewers for Kevin Bass, Frank DiPino, and Mike Madden. Sutton was 4-1 with a 3.29 ERA in seven starts for the Brewers and helped them win the AL East title. Don started and won game 3 of the ALCS. Don started game 2 of the World Series and left the game with the score tied 4-4 after pitching six innings. He started game 6 but took the loss as he allowed seven runs (five earned) in 4.1 innings.
  • Sutton pitched two more seasons for the Brewers. He was 8-13 with a 4.08 ERA in 1983 and 14-12 with a 3.77 ERA in 1984. After the 1984 season Don was traded to the Oakland A's for Ray Burris and two minor leaguers. Sutton wasn't happy with the trade.
  • Don pitched for the A's for less than a season. Sutton was 13-8 with a 3.89 ERA when he was traded to the California Angels on September 10 for two minor leaguers. Don went 2-2 for the Angels to finish the 1985 season. Don Sutton: An Unsung Achiever among Mound Elite - September 1985 Baseball Digest.
  • Sutton was 15-11 with a 3.74 ERA for the Angels in 1986. He won his 300th game on June 18 by pitching a complete game 3-hitter against the Texas Rangers. Don started game 4 of the ALCS against Roger Clemens but didn't get the decision (he allowed one run in 6.1 innings and the Angels won the game in the 11th inning). Sutton pitched 3.1 innings in game 7 of the series and allowed one run. He entered the game after starter John Candelaria allowed seven unearned runs in 3.2 innings.
  • Don pitched one more season (1987) for the Angels, going 11-11 with a 4.70 ERA in 34 starts. Jim Palmer once said that Sutton had showed him how to doctor a baseball (Palmer fingers Sutton as a baseball 'doctor' - August 26, 1987 Gainsville Sun). After the 1987 season the Angels declined to pick up Sutton's option and released him.
  • In 1988 former teammate John Candelaria accused Sutton of setting up one of his drunken driving arrests in 1987 by calling the police.
  • Don signed with the Dodgers for the 1988 season. Don missed time in June and July with a sprained right elbow and pitched in a rehab assignment for Class A Bakersfield. Sutton made one more start on August 9 but took the loss. He was 3-6 with a 3.92 ERA in 16 starts when the Dodgers released him on August 10. Two days later Don's mother was killed in an automobile accident.
  • After his playing career Sutton became an announcer for the Atlanta Braves. He announced with them from 1989-2006. The Braves cut the number of broadcast games after the 2006 season and Sutton moved on to announce for the Washington Nationals for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Don now announces for the Braves on their radio network.
  • Sutton was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1998. He ended up with 324 career wins, 3,574 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.26.
  • Liked to face: Eddie Mathews (.053 in 19 AB); Earl Williams (.071 in 28 AB); Manny Trillo (.089 in 45 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rudy Law (.483 in 29 AB); Rance Mulliniks (.441 in 34 AB); Ralph Garr (.426 in 61 AB)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

1976 Topps #529 - Deron Johnson

  • Deron Johnson was at the end of a long career when this card came out. Johnson signed with the New York Yankees in 1956 and spent several years in the Yankees system. Deron hit at least 24 homers every year in the minors from 1956-1960. Johnson was originally a third baseman but he found his progress to the majors blocked  by Clete Boyer. Deron went 2 for 4 in a brief late season call-up in 1960.
  • In 1961 Deron started with the Yankees and batted .105 in 13 games. On June 14 he and Art Ditmar were traded to the Kansas City A's for Bud Daley. Johsnon played 3B, 1B, and all three OF positions for the A's and batted .216 with eight home runs in 83 games.
  • Johnson didn't play much in 1962, and most of his appearances were as a pinch hitter. Deron batted .105 in 19 at bats in 1962. Johnson was sold to the Cincinnati Reds at the end of spring training in 1963.
  • The Reds assigned Johnson to AAA San Diego. Deron hit 33 home runs for San Diego in 1963 and he was given the opportunity to win a job with the Reds in 1964. Deron mostly played 1B in 1964 and batted .273 with 21 HR and 79 RBI.
  • Johnson finished fourth in NL MVP voting in 1965 and led the league in RBI. Deron batted .287 with 32 HR and 130 RBI. Johnson's stats fell off a little in 1966 as he batted .257 with 24 HR and 81 RBI. Deron started off well in 1967 but he missed eight games with an injury in mid June and his stats steadily declined through the rest of the season. Johnson wound up batting .224 with 13 HR and 53 RBI in 108 games. Strong Man of the Reds - August 1967 Baseball Digest. After the 1967 season Deron was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Mack  Jones, Jim Beauchamp, and Jay Ritchie.
  • Johnson spent one year in Atlanta (1968) and batted .208 with 8 HR and 33 RBI. After the 1968 season Deron was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies. Downhill from Stardom - February 1969 Baseball Digest.
  • In 1969 Johnson played about half of the time in LF and also saw quite a bit of action at 3B and 1B. Deron batted .255 with 17 HR and 80 RBI in 138 games in '69. 
  • The Phillies traded Dick Allen after the 1969 season and Johnson got Allen's job at 1B. Deron hit well at that position for two seasons, batting .256 with 27 HR and 93 RBI in 1970 and .265 with 34 HR and 95 RBI in 1971.
  • In 1972 Deron had some injury problems and wasn't producing as well. He played in 96 games and batted .213 with nine home runs. Johnson started poorly in 1973 (.167 in 12 games) and was traded to the Oakland A's for a minor leaguer on May 2. Deron became Oakland's designated hitter and would be a DH most of the time for the remainder of his career. Johnson batted .246 with 19 HR and 81 RBI for the A's in 1973. He went 1 for 10 in the ALCS and was 3 for 10 in the World Series.
  • Johnson started poorly again in 1974 -- he batted .195 with 7 HR in 50 games for the A's before being  traded to the Milwaukee Brewers on June 24 for Bill Parsons and cash. Deron didn't  improve with the Brewers as he  batted .151 with 6 HR in 47 games. Johnson was sold to the Boston Red Sox for the pennant drive on September 7. Deron batted .120 in 11 games for Boston and was released after the season. 
  • Deron caught on with the Chicago White Sox during spring training in 1975. He played in 148 games for the White Sox and batted .232 with 18 HR and 72 RBI. The Red Sox reacquired Johnson for a minor leaguer and cash on September 21 and he went 6 for 10 in three games at the end of the 1975 season. Johnson started the 1976 season with the Red Sox but was released on June 4 after batting .132 in 38 AB.
  • After his playing career Johnson managed the Salt Lake City Gulls in the Pacific Coast League in 1978. He then coached for several teams from 1979-1991. Johnson was the hitting coach for the California Angels from 1989-1991 and was named the bench coach for the 1992 season but he was too ill to attend spring training. 
  • Johnson died of lung cancer on April 23, 1992.
  • Liked to face: Dan McGinn (.455 in 32 AB); Joe Gibbon (.448 in 29 AB); Bob Moose (.435 in 23 AB)
  • Hated to face: Ron Reed (.000 in 29 AB); Rudy May (.000 in 20 AB); Vida Blue (.000 in 23 AB) 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

1976 Topps #525 - Billy Williams

  • Billy Williams was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1956. Williams progressed through the Cubs' farm system but he hit a snag in 1959. Billy was assigned to AA San Antonio and was so discouraged by the racial discrimination there that he was ready to quit and go back home. Cubs' scout Buck O'Neill, who had discovered Williams, went to San Antonio to encourage Williams to hang in there and continue playing.
  • Williams had brief trials with the Cubs in 1959 (.152 in 33 AB) and in 1960 (.277 in 47 AB). Billy came to Chicago to stay in 1961 and was named NL Rookie of the Year. Williams batted .278 with 25 HR and 86 RBI in '61.
  • Billy ran off a string of consistently good seasons. Williams batted .298 with 22 HR and 91 RBI in 1962 and made his first NL All Star team (he was 0 for 1 with an RBI in the second game). In 1963 Billy batted .286 with 28 HR and 95 RBI. Williams was an All Star again in 1964, started in LF, and was 1 for 4 with a solo home run. Billy batted .312 with 33 HR and 98 RBI in '64. Billy Williams - Above Average Player - October 1964 Baseball Digest.
  • In 1965 Williams made his third NL All Star team and grounded out in his only at bat. Billy led the NL with 164 games played and batted .315 with 34 HR and 108 RBI. Williams batted .276 with 29 HR and 91 RBI in 1966 and .278 with 28 HR and 84 RBI in 1967.
  • Billy returned to the All Star Game in 1968 and flied out in his only at bat. Williams batted .288 with 30  HR and 98 RBI in 1968. Billy Williams Proud of Line Drive Complex - August 1968 Baseball Digest. Billy batted .293 with 21 HR and 95 RBI in 1969. Billy Williams, Quiet Man Who Swings A Fast Bat - September 1969 Baseball Digest.
  • The 1970 season was one of Billy's better years. Williams finished second to Johnny Bench in NL MVP voting as he led the NL with 137 runs scored and 205 hits. Billy batted .322 with 42 HR and 129 RBI in '70. 
  • In 1971 Billy batted .301 with 28 HR and 93 RBI. Williams had  a long consecutive game streak snapped during the 1971 season. Billy played in 1,117 consecutive games from 1962-1971. Williams had the all-time longest consecutive games streak until Steve Garvey broke it by playing in 1,207 straight games from 1975-1983.
  • Williams had his last great season in 1972. He finished second in NL MVP voting (again behind Bench) as he led the NL with a .333 batting average. Billy hit 37 HR and had 122  RBI in '72. He also went 1 for 2 with a run scored in the 1972 All Star Game. Billy Williams: Baseball's Greatest Hitter - December 1972 Baseball Digest.
  • Billy made the NL All Star team for the last time in 1973 -- he started in RF and went 1 for 2. Williams batted .288 with 20 HR and 86 RBI in '73. Williams missed three weeks of the 1974 season with an injury and played in only 117 games. He batted .280 with 16 HR and 68 RBI in 1974 and after the season Williams was traded to the Oakland A's for three players. A's Trade 3 for Slugger Williams - Tri City Herald October 23, 1974.
  • Williams became the designated  hitter for the A's in 1975. He batted .244 with 23 HR and 81 RBI in the 1975 season and played in the postseason for the only time in his career. Billy went 0 for 7 in the 1975 ALCS. Billy Williams Finds A New Career in Oakland - August 1975 Baseball Digest.
  • Billy's last season was 1976. He batted .211 with 11 HR and 41 RBI. Williams was released by the A's after the 1976 season. Billy Williams Remembers The Glory Years - February 1977 Baseball Digest.
  • Williams was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987 on his sixth try. 'Quiet Man' Billy Williams Belongs in the Hall of Fame - December 1985 Baseball Digest. The Cubs are due to unveil a statue of Billy outside of Wrigley Field on September 7.
  • Liked to face: Joe Hoerner (.520 in 25 AB); Jerry Reuss (.477 in 44 AB); Ron Herbel (.472 with 6 HR in 53 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jim Willoughby (.063 in 16 AB); Bert Blyleven (.067 in 15 AB); Howie Reed (.091 in 22 AB)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1976 Topps #528 - Dock Ellis

  • Dock Ellis was a controversial and colorful pitcher who pitched from 1968-1979, mostly for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ellis was signed in 1964 and pitched in the minors from 1964-1968. Dock debuted for the Pirates on June 18, 1968 and was 6-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 26 games (10 starts).
  • In 1969 Dock was 11-17 with a 3.58 ERA in 33 starts. He improved to 13-10, 3.21 in 1970 and pitched a no-hitter on June 12. Ellis later claimed that he was on LSD when he pitched the gem. He said that he mistakenly thought the Pirates had the day off and was "relaxing" at home when his girlfriend told him that he was supposed to pitch that day. Ellis made it to the park just in time to start the game. He walked eight batters and hit another one but he  managed to complete the game without allowing a hit. Dock took the loss in game 1 of the 1970 NLCS. The game was tied 0-0 after nine innings but Ellis allowed three runs in the top of the 10th inning. Ellis Credits His Tutors for Mound Improvement - April 1970 Baseball Digest.
  • Ellis had an excellent year for the World Champion Pirates in 1971. He went 19-9 with a 3.06 ERA in 31 starts and finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting. Ellis started the 1971 All Star game and took the loss as he allowed a 2-run  homer to Frank Robinson and a towering 2-run home run to Reggie Jackson. Dock was the winning pitcher in game 2 of the NLCS but lasted only 2.1 innings in game 1 of the World Series. He allowed four runs and took the loss.
  • Dock started only 25 games in 1972 and was 15-7 with a 2.70 ERA. Ellis started game 4 of the NLCS, allowed three unearned runs in five innings, and took the loss. On May 5, 1972 Ellis was maced by a Cincinnati Reds security guard who didn't believe that Ellis was a player for the Pirates.
  • The Pirates struggled in 1973 after the death of Roberto Clemente and Dock's record reflected those struggles. Ellis started 28 games and had a 3.05 ERA, but his record dropped to 12-14. Dock Ellis: The Popoff Pitcher - December 1973 Baseball Digest.
  • Ellis had another famous game on May 1, 1974. He wanted to prove a point because he felt that his teammates weren't playing hard enough. Dock decided to hit every Cincinnati batter that came to the plate. He hit Pete Rose, Joe  Morgan, and Dan Driessen with pitches to load the bases. Ellis tried to hit Tony Perez, but Perez managed to avoid the pitches and draw a walk. After throwing two pitches at Johnny Bench's head Ellis was removed from the game. Ellis finished the 1974 season with a record of 12-9 and had a 3.16 ERA. Dock was injured and didn't pitch again in 1974 after September 11.
  • Dock had a couple of stints on the disabled list in 1975. He ended up 8-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 27 starts. Ellis pitched in two innings in game 1 of the 1975 NLCS and didn't allow a run. After the 1975 season Ellis was traded with Ken Brett and Willie Randolph for Doc Medich.
  • Ellis had a good year for the Yankees in 1976. He went 17-8 with a 3.19 ERA in 32 starts. Ellis won the AL Comeback Player of the Year award in '76. Dock started and won game 3 of the ALCS. He started game 3 of the World Series but allowed four runs in 3.1 innings and took the loss.
  • Dock pitched for three teams in 1977. He started with the Yankees (1-1, 1.83 ERA in three starts) and was traded with two other players to the Oakland A's for Mike Torrez on April 27. Ellis was 1-5 with a 9.69 ERA in seven starts for the A's before being sold to the Texas Rangers on June 15. Dock finished the year with the Rangers and pitched more like his normal self (10-6, 2.90 ERA in 22 starts).
  • Ellis was with the Rangers for the entire 1978 season but pitched only four times after July 18. He went 4-12 with a 5.84 ERA in 30 games (24 starts).
  • Dock traveled a lot again in 1979. He started with the Rangers (1-5, 5.98 ERA in nine starts) and was traded to the New York Mets on June 15 for two players. Ellis was 3-7 with a 6.04 ERA in 14 starts for the Mets and was sold to the Pirates on September 21. Dock pitched in three games for the Pirates at the end of the 1979 season and had a 2.57 ERA in seven innings. Ellis retired after the 1979 season.
  • After his playing career Dock became a drug counselor in Victorville, California.
  • Ellis co-wrote Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball in 1976.
  • In 2007 Dock was diagnosed with cirrhosis of  the liver and was on the waiting list for a liver transplant. Ellis died of liver disease on December 19, 2008. Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball - December 24, 2008 Sports Illustrated.
  • Liked to face: Mike Jorgensen (.000 in 32 AB); Bob Bailey (.000 in 20 AB); Tom Hutton (.050 in 20 AB)
  • Hated to face: Graig Nettles (.727 with 3 HR in 11 AB); Dusty Baker (.600 in 15 AB); Larry Parrish (.476 in 21 AB)


Monday, August 16, 2010

1976 Topps #527 - Mike Anderson

  • Mike Anderson played outfield in the major leagues from 1971-1979. Anderson was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round in 1969. Mike played in the minors from 1969-1972 and had a great season in AAA Eugene in 1970 (.334 with 36 HR). Anderson was brought up to Philadelphia at the end of the 1971 season and batted .247 in 26 games.
  • Mike played with the Phillies in April and May of 1972 but batted only .194 in 36 games. He was sent back down to Eugene at the end of May and spend the rest of the season there.
  • Anderson had his best slugging year in 1973. He batted .254 with nine HR in 193 AB and had a .454 slugging percentage. Mike started 102 games in right field for the Phillies in 1974. In a total of 145 games Mike batted .251 with five HR.
  • In 1975 Anderson was a backup outfielder and first baseman. He batted .259 in 247 AB in 1975 and after the season he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ron Reed.
  • Mike backed up in the outfield and first base for the Cardinals in 1976. He had a career  high in batting average (.291) in 199 AB. In 1977 Mike's offense fell off as he batted .221 in 154 AB.
  • Anderson was released during spring training in 1978. He signed with the Phillies and batted .313 for Philadelphia's AAA Oklahoma City club. The Phillies didn't have room for Anderson so he was released on June 23. Mike signed with the Baltimore Orioles on the same day but he didn't fare well, batting .094 in 32 AB.
  • The Orioles cut Anderson loose after the 1978 season and he signed with the Phillies again. Mike started the 1979 season in Oklahoma City and was recalled at the end of April. Anderson was used a lot as a late-inning defensive replacement and batted .231 in 78 AB for the Phillies. Mike pitched an inning in a blowout game on June 27.
  • Mike spent the 1980 season in Oklahoma City and was released after the season. Anderson signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1981 and played for their AAA Portland club but he batted .193 in 39 games and retired after the season.
  • Former major league infielder Kent Anderson is Mike's brother.
  • Mike later coached high school baseball and basketball in South Carolina. His 1980 Topps Baseball blog entry is here.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

1976 Topps #526 - Checklist #397-528

  • Hall of Famers on each checklist cards (excluding highlights, league leaders, managers, and TSN All Time All Stars):
    • Checklist #1 (1-132) 6 - Lou Brock, George Brett, Gaylord Perry, Brooks Robinson, Dennis Eckersley, Jim Hunter
    • Checklist #2 (133-264) 4 - Dave Winfield, Rich Gossage, Fergie Jenkins, Carl Yastrzemski, Pete Rose is also in this series.
    • Checklist #3 (265-396) 7 - Willie Stargell, Johnny Bench, Robin Yount, Tony Perez, Jim Rice, Steve Carlton, Carlton Fisk
    • Checklist #4 (397-528) 9 - Rod Carew, Rollie Fingers, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro, Gary Carter,  Jim Palmer, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, Billy Williams
    • Checklist #5 (529-660) 3 - Don Sutton, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver
  • I didn't check the "4-player rookie cards," but I don't think there were any HOFers on those cards -- please correct me if I'm wrong or if I missed any HOFers on this list.
  • Do you remember those ads that used to be in the collector's catalogs for series sets? Larry Fritsch cards (among others) used to advertise these sets and list the highlights in each series. It was fun to figure out which series I would like to have the most. Out of these series in 1976, which one would have been your favorite back in the day?

Friday, August 13, 2010

1976 Topps #524 - Pete Falcone

  • Pete Falcone pitched in the majors from 1975-1984. Falcone was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 1973 (he was the fourth overall player chosen that year). Pete pitched in the minors in 1973 and 1974 and then made the Giants club in 1975. He went 12-11 with a 4.17 ERA in 32 starts in 1975 as he formed a great rookie tandem with John Montefusco.
  • After the 1975 season the Giants traded Falcone to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ken Reitz. Pete went 12-16 with a 3.36 ERA in 1976. He missed five weeks of the 1977 season with an injury and ended up going 4-8 with a 5.44 ERA in 27 games (22 starts). In 1978 Pete pitched very sporadically from mid-June through the end of the season and he ended up with a record of 2-7 with a 5.76 ERA in 17 games (14 starts). 
  • Falcone was traded to the New York  Mets after the 1978 season for Tom Grieve and Kim Seaman. It was something of a homecoming for Pete since he was born and raised in Brooklyn. Pete went into the Mets' starting rotation and went 6-14 with a 4.16 ERA in 31 starts. In 1980 Falcone was 7-10 with a 4.52 ERA in 37 games (23 starts). On May 1, 1980 Pete tied a record by striking out the first six batters in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • In 1981 Pete was  mostly a reliever before the strike and made eight starts after the strike. All together Falcone was 5-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 35 games (9 starts). Pete went 8-10 with a 3.84 ERA in 40 games (23 starts) for the Mets in 1982. After the 1982 season Falcone became a free agent and signed a 2-year $650,000 contract with the Atlanta Braves.
  • Falcone was 9-4 with a 3.63 ERA in 33 games (15 starts) in 1983. In 1984 Pete was 5-7 with a 4.13 ERA in 35 games (16 starts). In September of 1984 Pete said that he would retire after the season because he was tired of baseball. He was 30 years old when he called it quits.
  • In 1989 Falcone attempted a comeback with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched in the  minors in AA and AAA but didn't do well enough to be called up to the majors. He also pitched in the Senior Professional Baseball Association in Florida in 1989 and 1990. 
  • In 1994 Pete manged the Alexandria Aces of the independent Texas-Louisiana League and the team won a division championship. 
  • Liked to face: Rowland Office (.000 in 12 AB); Rafael Landestoy (.059 in 17 AB); Ollie Brown (.067 in 15 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jim Wohlford (.533 in 15 AB); Tony Pena (.462 in 26 AB); Pete Rose (.415 in 65 AB)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

1976 Topps #523 - Bob Montgomery

  • Bob Montgomery was a backup catcher with the Boston Red Sox from 1970-1979. Bob signed with the Red Sox after graduating from high school in 1962. He signed as a third baseman but switched to catcher in 1963 after being convinced by his minor league manager that he didn't have the power to make it as a corner infielder. Montgomery slowly made progress in the Red Sox chain and eventually got a chance with the Red Sox in 1970. He made his debut on September 6, 1970 (my fourth birthday) and batted .179 in 22 games. Bob hit his first major league home run on September 11, 1970 off of Jim Palmer.
  • Montgomery split time with Duane Josephson at catcher in 1971 and batted .239 in 67 games. Carlton Fisk was brought up at the end of the 1971 season and locked up the starting catching job by having a good September.
  • Bob became Fisk's backup for the rest of the decade. In 1972 he batted .286 in 24 games. Montgomery batted .320 with seven  home runs (a career high) in 1973.
  • Fisk was injured on June 28, 1974 and Montgomery got a lot of playing time behind the plate. Bob batted .252 in 254 at bats in 1974.
  • Montgomery started the 1975 season as the starting catcher for the Red Sox while Fisk was on the mend from a broken arm in spring training. Bob batted .226 in 62 games during the regular season. Montgomery wasn't used during the 1975 ALCS and only batted once (a pinch hitting appearance in the bottom of the 9th in game 7) in the World Series.
  • Fisk was able to stay healthy through the rest of the 1970s and Montgomery didn't get much playing time. Bob batted .247 in 31 games in 1976 and .300 in 17 games in 1977. Montgomery got in only ten games in 1978 (he batted .241) and 32 games in 1979 (he batted .349).
  • Bob retired during spring training in 1980 when the Red Sox decided to use Gary Allenson as Fisk's backup.
  • Montgomery was the last player to bat without using a batting helmet.
  • After his playing career Montgomery worked in radio for a couple of years doing some sports shows and working as a substitute announcer for Red Sox broadcasts. In 1982 he became the color commentator for Red Sox TV broadcasts on Channel 38 and remained at that post through the 1995 season, when Channel 38 stopped broadcasting Red Sox games.
  • After leaving broadcasting Bob worked in sales and marketing for Unison (a Boston area signage company). He now works for Big League Promotions, which manufactures game boards using professional sports licensing.
  • Bob Montgomery's SABR biography.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

1976 Topps #522 - Ted Sizemore

  • Ted Sizemore was an infielder (mostly second base) in the majors from 1969-1980. Sizemore was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1966. He played in the Dodgers' system from 1966-1968 and was brought up to LA in 1969. 
  • Ted was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1969 -- he batted .271 in 159 games. Sizemore missed a month of the 1970 season (mid-June through mid-July) and also didn't play after September 17. He batted .306 in 96 games. After the 1970 season Sizemore and Bob Stinson were traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Dick Allen.
  • In 1971 Ted spent most of his time at second base but played SS, 3B, and OF as well. He batted .264 in 135 games in '71. Sizemore became the regular second baseman in 1972 and batted .264 in 120 games. 
  • Ted's best year with the Cardinals was 1973 when he batted .282 in 142 games and led the NL with 25 sacrifices. Sizemore missed three weeks with an injury in July 1974. He batted .250 in 129 games in 1974. In 1975 Ted batted .240 in 153 games. 
  • At the end of spring training in 1976 Sizemore was traded back to the Dodgers for Willie Crawford. Ted played a lot at 2B in April while Davey Lopes recovered from an injury and backed up at 2B after Lopes returned. Sizemore batted .241 in 81 games in 1976. After the 1976 season Sizemore was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Johnny Oates and a minor leaguer.
  • Ted batted .281 in 152 games for the Phillies in 1977. He grounded into 25 double plays to lead the NL. Sizemore went 3 for 13 (.231) in the NLCS. In 1978 Sizemore batted .219 in 108 games. He missed about two months of the 1978 season with an injury. He jammed his throwing hand into the chest of San Diego's Gene Richards during a play at second base and fractured two bones. Ted Sizemore: 'Born Again' at Second Base - July 1978 Baseball Digest. Ted went 5 for 13 (.381) in the 1978 NLCS. After the 1978 season Ted was traded (with Jerry Martin, Barry Foote, Derek Bothelho, and a minor leaguer) to the Chicago Cubs for Manny Trillo, Greg Gross, and Dave Rader.
  • Ted batted .248 in 98 games for the Cubs in 1979. On August 17 he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Mike O'Berry and cash. Sizemore batted .261 in 26 games for the Red Sox in 1979. Ted played in nine games (.217 average) for the Red Sox in 1980 before being released on May 30. 
  • After his retirement Sizemore worked for Rawlings as their chief liason with major league players. He later became a senior executive with the company.
  • Liked to face: Lynnn McGlothen (.563 in 16 AB); Milt Pappas (.455 in 22 AB); Bob Moose (.438 in 48 AB)
  • Hated to face: Tom Hall/Harry Parker (.000 in 10 AB); Frank Reberger/Mike Torrez (.067 in 15 AB)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

1976 Topps #521 - Jim Colborn

  • Jim Colburn pitched in the majors from 1969-1978. Jim graduated from Whittier College with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1967 and did graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1968 and 1969. Colborn signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1967 and moved up the Cubs' system from 1967-1969. Jim pitched for the Cubs at the end of the 1969 season and was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in six games.
  • Colborn was with the Cubs for the entire 1970 season and went 3-1 with four saves and a 3.59 ERA in 34 games (5 starts). He started the 1971 season with the Cubs but was sent to AAA Tacoma at the end of May. Jim came back in September and pitched in four more games for the Cubs. He ended up 0-1 with a 6.97 ERA in 14 games.After the 1971 season Jim was traded with Brock Davis and Earl Stephenson  to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jose Cardenal.
  • Jim was a swingman for the Brewers in 1972 and was 7-7 with a 3.11 ERA in 39 games (12 starts).
  • Colborn's best season was 1973. He was an AL All Star (he didn't pitch in the game) and finished 6th in Cy Young Award voting. Jim was 20-12 with a 3.18 ERA in '73.
  • Jim was a mainstay in the Milwaukee rotation in the next few seasons. He was 10-13 with a 4.06 ERA in 1974, 11-13 with a 4.27 ERA in 1975, and 9-15 with a 3.71 ERA in 1976. Jim Colborn: The Unknown 20 Game Winner - May 1974 Baseball Digest. After the 1976 season Colborn was traded with Darrel Porter to the Kansas City Royals for Jamie Quirk, Jim Wohlford, and Bob McClure.
  • Jim had a good year in Kansas City in 1977 -- he was 18-14 with a 3.62 ERA for the AL West champions. He wasn't used in the 1977 ALCS. On May 14, 1977 Jim pitched a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers.
  • In 1978 Colborn started with the Royals (1-2, 4.76 ERA in eight games) and was traded to the Seattle Mariners on June 1 for Steve Braun. Jim went 3-10 with a 5.35 ERA in 19 starts for the Mariners in '78.
  • Colborn was released during spring training in 1979 and retired.
  • Colborn was the minor league pitching coordinator for the Cubs from 1987-1989. Jim was the pitching coach for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan from 1990-1993.
  • Jim managed in the Oakland A's system from 1994-1996. Colborn was the Pacific Rim Director for the Mariners from 1997-2001 and was instrumental in getting Ichiro Suzuki to sign with the club. He was the pitching coach for the LA Dodgers from 2001-2005 and for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006 and 2007. Colborn is now the Director of Pacific Rim Operations for the Texas Rangers. 
  • Jim is currently the commissioner of the Jim Colborn Baseball League, a league for advanced high school and college players and former professional players in Ventura County, CA. Here is a good interview with him on the league website.
  • Liked to face: Terry Crowley (.000 in 10 AB); Bill Melton/Ralph Garr (.091 in 22 AB); Butch Hobson (.107 in 28 AB)
  • Hated to face: Phil Garner (.600 in 15 AB); Dick Allen (.529 in 17 AB); Tommy Davis (.519 in 27 AB)

Monday, August 9, 2010

1976 Topps #520 - Willie McCovey

  • Willie McCovey just doesn't look right in a San Diego uniform. McCovey was signed by the New York Giants in 1955. He played in the minors from 1955-1960 and had great offensive seasons wherever he played. When Willie played for Dallas in the Texas League in 1957 he couldn't participate in games in Shreveport, LA because of segregation in that city.
  • McCovey was batting .372 with 29 HR in 95 games in AAA Phoenix when he was called up to the Giants. Willie continued his torrid hitting pace in San Francisco as he batted .354 with 13 HR and 38 RBI in 52 games. Willie went 4 for 4 with two triples off of Robin Roberts in his major league debut on July 30. Even though he only played 1/3 of the season, McCovey was named NL Rookie of the Year.
  • Willie overdid it on the banquet circuit after the 1959 season and reported to camp overweight. His normal playing weight was about 200 pounds and he weighed about 225-230. Willie was sent back to Phoenix for a couple of weeks after a late-night indiscretion. McCovey In Tacoma As Bat Goes Cold - July 17, 1960 Miami News. He batted .238 with 13 HR in 101 games in 1960.
  • Willie McCovey Will Come Back! - April 1961 Baseball Digest. McCovey bounced back with a good 1961 season (.271, 18 HR, 50 RBI) but he was hampered by the fact that the Giants had Orlando Cepeda, who also played first base. The Giants sometimes used Willie in left field, but his defense was less than stellar there.
  • McCovey was a bench player in 1962, splitting his time between first base and left field. In 91 games Willie batted .293 with 20 HR and 54 RBI. McCovey went 3 for 15 (.200) in the 1962 World Series and made the last out in game 7 with runners on second and third, two out, and the Giants trailing by one run. He hit a hard line drive but it was right at 2B Bobby Richardson.

  • Willie had his first really big year in 1963. He led the NL in home runs (44), batted .280, and had 102 RBI. McCovey made the NL All Star team and struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance.
  • McCovey had a poor year in 1964. He batted .220 with 18 HR and 54 RBI in 130 games. In 1965 Cepeda was injured and missed most of the season. That opened up the way for McCovey to become the starting first baseman. Willie batted .276 with 39 HR and 92 RBI in 1965.
  • During this time (1965-1971) McCovey was one of the most feared hitters in baseball. Willie was the starting first baseman for the NL in the 1966 All Star Game and went 0 for 3 with an intentional walk. He batted .295 with 36 HR and 96 RBI in 1966. In 1967 McCovey batted .276 with 31 HR and 91 RBI.
  • In 1968 Willie led the NL in home runs (36), RBI (105), and slugging percentage (.545) while batting .293. He didn't do very well in the All Star game -- he struck out three times and grounded into a double play. Injury Benches McCovey for 10 Days - Reading Eagle, May 18, 1968.
  • The 1969 season was Willie's best year. He batted .320 with 45 HR and 126 RBI. He led the NL in HR, RBI, and slugging percentage (.656) and was intentionally walked 45 times. McCovey was the 1969 NL Most Valuable Player and also was the MVP of the All Star Game (he homered twice in the game). Is Willie McCovey Heading for His Best Year? - June 1969 Baseball Digest. Why Willie McCovey Won MVP Award - March 1970 Baseball Digest.
  • Willie had another big year in 1970. He batted .289 with 39 HR and 126 RBI and went 1 for 2 in the All Star Game. Eye Ailment Slowing Down Giant Star Willie McCovey - March 14, 1970 Ellensburg Daily Record.
  • McCovey had a few injuries in 1971 and played in only 105 games. A Giant Nightmare Without McCovey - September 16, 1971 St. Petersburg Times. Willie batted .277 with 18 HR and  70 RBI for the NL West Champions. He made the NL All Star team for the last time and went 0 for 2. McCovey batted .429 with two home runs in the NLCS. Willie McCovey-Baseball's Most Feared Batter - June 1971 Baseball Digest.
  • Willie missed a lot of time in 1972 due to a broken arm that he suffered in a collision at first base and had one of his worst seasons. He played in 81 games and batted .213 with 14 HR and 35 RBI. McCovey had a good comeback season in 1973 and batted .266 with 29 HR and 75 RBI. After the 1973 season Willie was traded with Bernie Williams to the San Diego Padres for Mike Caldwell (McCovey knew it was over - October 27, 1973 Ellensburg Daily Record).
  • In 1974 McCovey batted .253 with 22 HR and 63 RBI and in 1975 he batted .252 with 23 HR and 68 RBI. Willie struggled in 1976 and batted .204 with 7 HR in 71 games for the Padres. On August 30 the Padres sold Willie to the Oakland A's (McCovey Disgruntled over Finley's Deal - The Free Lance Star - August 31, 1976). McCovey batted .208 in 11 games for the A's and was released after the 1976 season.
  • The Giants signed Willie in January 1977. McCovey was the Comeback Player of the Year as he batted .280 with 28 HR and 86 RBI. On June 27 Willie hit two home runs in one inning. He had done this once before in 1973. Willie and Andre Dawson are the only two players to have accomplished this feat.
  • On June 30, 1978 McCovey hit his 500th home run off of Jamie Easterly of the Atlanta Braves. McCovey had a salary dispute with Giants' owner Bob Lurie and considered retirement early in the 1978 season. Willie batted .228 with 12 HR and 68 RBI in 1978. In 1979 McCovey batted .249 with 15 HR and 57 RBI. McCovey became a "four decade player" in 1980. He batted .204 with 1 HR and retired in July. He and Ted Williams are the only two players to have homered in four different decades.
  • Willie McCovey Picks His Personal All Star Team - April 1981 Baseball Digest.
  • Willie was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
  • In 1996 McCovey was given probation and fined for incomplete reporting of his 1988-1990 taxes. Snider, McCovey plead guilty to tax evasion - July 21, 1995 Deseret News. 2 Yrs Probation for McCovey in 69G Tax Dodge - June 8, 1996 New York Daily News
  • Willie opened a restaurant (McCovey's Restaurant) in Walnut Creek, CA in 2003.
  • Willie is now a senior adviser with the Giants.
  • Giants Legend Willie McCovey Talks Panda, the Dodgers, and His Cove - March 14, 2010.
  • Liked to face: Don Drysdale (.336 with 12 HR in 128 AB); Bob Moose (.545 with 7 HR in 33 AB); Robin Roberts (.452 in 31 AB)
  • Hated to face: Gaylord Perry (.000 in 10 AB); Dick Ellsworth (.050 in 20 AB); Warren Spahn (.136 with 14 strikeouts in 59 AB)