Friday, December 31, 2010

1976 Topps - Nominations for Card of the Year

In the next few weeks I'm going to run a "Card of the Year" contest. I'll do it in a similar style to Night Owl's contests. I'll make several random groups of cards, set up polls for each group, and take the top half of each group for the next round. I'll do the same thing for the cards that are left for another round or two until we get down to a small number of cards. I will then group those cards (probably four cards) for the final vote.

Leave any suggestions for which cards to include in the comments section. :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

1976 Topps -- Thoughts

Now that the main set is finished, here are a few thoughts:

  • I had a lot of fun researching and finding out more about these players. I hit a couple of walls over the last two years, but luckily I was able to get over the walls.
  • The tags were a way for me to be able to tabulate various statistics about this set. The stats will be posted later. :)
  • One of these days I  may go back and revisit some of the older posts. As the blog progressed I was able to find  more sources of information. The earlier entries can use some updating and fleshing out.
  • I'm planning on getting the traded set in here. Unfortunately my printer/scanner is giving me fits right now. When that issue is resolved then the traded cards will be done. :)
  • Thanks to those collectors who sent cards to fill holes in my set. Before I started this blog I thought my set was complete, but I soon discovered a few holes. The help was appreciated!
  • It would be a blast to crack open some 1976 Topps packs!
  • Next on the agenda: 
    • Finish my 1976 Kellogg's set
    • Keep plugging away at my 1976 Hostess set
    • Get the 1975/1976 SSPC set

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

1976 Topps #660 - Dave Lopes

  • Davey Lopes had a 16-year career as a second baseman, mostly with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He's called "Davey" even though a lot of his cards say, "Dave." Lopes was drafted by the Dodgers in 1968 (Turn Back the Clock - The Dodgers Put Together the Greatest Draft in Baseball - September 2008 Baseball Digest) and didn't get into the majors until he was 27 years old in 1972 (.214 in 11 games). According to this card Davey was born in 1946 but his Baseball Reference entry says 1945.
  • Lopes became the starting second baseman for the Dodgers in 1973. Davey, along with teammate Ron Cey, finished tied for 6th in NL Rookie of the Year voting. Lopes batted .275 in 142 games in 1973. What Makes Davey Lopes Run? - March 1974 Baseball Digest
  • Davey batted .266 in 145 games in 1974 and stole 59 bases. Normally that many stolen bases would lead a league (or at least come close to it), but that was the year Lou Brock stole 118 bases. He stole five bases in one game on August 25. Lopes went 5 for 14 (.267) in the NLCS and was 2 for 18 (.111) in the World Series.
  • Lopes led the NL with 77 stolen bases in 1975 while batting .262 in 155 games. He set a record by stealing 38 bases in a row without being caught (the record has since been  broken by Vince Coleman).
  • Despite playing in only 117 games and batting .241, Lopes led the NL with 63 stolen bases in 1976. Davey had a pulled muscle in his rib cage that prevented him from playing until May 4.
  • Davey batted .283 with 11 home runs and stole 47  bases in 1977. Lopes batted .235 (4 for 17) in the NLCS and batted .167 (4 for 24) in the World Series.
  • Lopes made the first of four straight NL All Star teams in 1978 (he singled in a run in his only at bat). Dave also won his only Gold Glove in 1978 and batted .278 with 17 home runs. Lopes stole 45 bases and was caught only four times in 1978. Lopes batted .389 (7 for 18) in the NLCS and batted .308 (8 for 26) in the World Series. In game 1 of the 1978 World Series Lopes homered twice and had 5 RBI. Davey Lopes: Captain of the Dodgers - June 1978 Baseball Digest
  • Davey had a power surge in 1979 as he hit a career-high 28 home runs. Lopes batted .265 and also walked 97 times and stole 44 bases in 1979. Lopes was the starting second baseman in the All Star Game and went 1 for 3.
  • Lopes started to slow down a bit in 1980. He batted .251 with 10 HR in 1980. Dave was the starting second baseman in the All Star Game and grounded out in his only at bat.
  • Davey really struggled with the bat in 1981. He went on the disabled list in mid-May and when the strike started on June 11 Lopes was batting only .169. Lopes finished the season with a .206 average in 58 games. Lopes started at 2B for the NL in the 1981 All Star Game and walked in his only plate appearance. Davey went 5 for 20 (.200) in the NLDS, was 5 for 18 (.278) with five stolen bases in the NLCS, and went 5 for 22 (.227) with four stolen bases in the World Series.
  • After the 1981 season Lopes was traded to the Oakland A's for minor leaguer Lance Hudson to make room for rookie Steve Sax. The trade broke up the famous Dodger infield (Garvey/Lopes/Russell/Cey) that played together for  nine seasons. Who Elected The Dodgers' Davey Lopes A Villain? - January 1982 Baseball Digest.
  • Lopes batted .242 with 28 stolen bases for the A's in 1982. In 1983 Davey batted .277 with 17 HR and 22 stolen bases.  Davey Lopes: The Game I'll Never Forget - April 1982 Baseball Digest.
  • Davey started the 1984 season with the A's as a utilityman. He batted .257 in 57 games for the A's and was traded to the Chicago Cubs on August 31. Lopes batted .235 in 16 games for the Cubs in the last part of the 1984 season. He was 0 for 1 in the 1984 NLCS.
  • In 1985, at the age of 40, Lopes had a remarkable accomplishment. He stole 47 bases and was caught only four times. Davey batted .284 with 11 HR in 1985.
  • Lopes was with the Cubs for the first part of the 1986 season . He batted .299 in 59 games and was traded to the Houston Astros on July 21 for Frank DiPino. Davey batted .237 in 37 games for the Astros to finish the 1986 season. Lopes was 0 for 2 with a walk in the 1986 NLCS.
  • Before the 1987 season Lopes signed a contract (1 year plus an  option year) for $550,000. Not bad for a 42-year-old! Davey was hampered by a strained right elbow in 1987. He was mostly a pinch hitter in 1987 and batted .233 in 43 AB. The Astros didn't renew the option on Davey's contract and Lopes retired after the 1987 season.
  • After his playing career Lopes coached in the  majors, mostly for Texas, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. Davey also had a 2+ year stint as  manager of the Milwaukee Brewers from 2000-2002. Lopes was given a lot of credit for the Philadelphia Phillies' success on the basepaths in the late 2000s as their first base coach.
  • Lopes was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and has made a successful recovery.
  • Davey Lopes Recalls His Big League Career - June 2009 Baseball Digest
  • Davey Lopes has recently been hired to coach first base for the Dodgers in 2011.
  • Liked to face: Tom Underwood (.529 in 17 AB); Dave Roberts (.471 in 34 AB); Clay Kirby (.462 in 26 AB)
  • Hated to face: Bob Welch/Jim Willoughby (.000 in 10 AB); Randy  Moffitt (.042 in 24 AB); Rollie Fingers (.063 in 16 AB)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

1976 Topps #659 - Ben Oglivie

  • Ben Oglivie was a major league outfielder and DH from 1971-1986. Oglivie was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1968. Ben played in the minors from 1968-1971 and was called up by the Red Sox in September 1971. Oglivie batted .267 in 14 games for Boston in '71.
  • Ben was a backup outfielder for Boston in 1972 (.293 in 94 games ) and in 1973 (.218 in 58 games). After the 1973 season Oglivie was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Dick McAuliffe.
  • Oglivie was a fourth outfielder and DH for the Tigers in 1974 (.270 in 92 games) and in 1975 (.286 in 100 games).
  • In 1976 Oglivie played all three OF positions as well as 1B and DH. Ben became the starting right fielder for the Tigers in 1977. Ben batted .285 with 15 HR and 47 RBI in 1976 and .262 with 21 HR and 62 RBI in 1977. Ben was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Rich Folkers and Jim Slaton after the 1977 season.
  • Ben spent the rest of his career with the Brewers and had his  best years for that ballclub. In 1978 Oglivie batted .303 with 18 HR and 72 RBI. Ben hit for more power in 1979, batting .282 with 29 HR and 81 RBI.
  • Oglivie had his best year in 1980. He was the starting LF for the AL in the 1980 All Star Game and went 0 for 2 with a walk. Ben won the Silver Slugger Award in LF in 1980 and batted .304 with a league-leading 41 HR and 118 RBI. Ben Oglivie Finds Stardom in Another Uniform - September 1980 Baseball Digest
  • Ben batted .243 with 14 HR and 72 RBI in the 1981 strike season. Oglivie went 3 for 18 (.167) in the 1981 ALDS.
  • The Brewers  made it to the World Series in 1982 and Oglivie was a big contributor to the club. Ben made the AL All Star team (he went 0 for 1 as a pinch hitter) and batted .244 with 34 HR and 102 RBI. Ben went 2 for 15 (.133) in the ALCS and 6 for 27 (.222) in the World Series.
  • Oglivie was an AL All Star again in 1983 (he struck out in his only at bat), but he was starting to tail off as a hitter. Ben batted .280 with 13 HR and 66 RBI in 1983.
  • Ben's last season as a starting LF was in 1984. He batted .262 with 12 HR and 60 RBI.
  • Oglivie was a backup outfielder and DH for the last two seasons of his career. In 1985 Ben batted .290 with 10 HR and in 1986 he batted .283 in 103 games. The Brewers bought out the last year of Oglivie's contract after the 1986 season.
  • Ben went to Japan to play in 1987 and in 1988. Oglivie was invited to spring training by the Brewers in 1989. Ben hurt his knee in spring training. He signed with AA El Paso but played in only two games. Later in 1989 Oglivie played for the Winter Haven Super Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association.
  • Oglivie has coached in the minors off and on since 1995. Ben will be the hitting coach for the West  Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit's Class A team) in 2011.
  • Liked to face: Pete Redfern (.500 in 28 AB); Rick Honeycutt (.474 in 19 AB); Geoff Zahn (.444 in 27 AB)
  • Hated to face: Dave Schmidt (.000 in 14 AB); Shane Rawley (.100 in 20 AB); Mike Flanagan (.115 in 26 AB)


Monday, December 27, 2010

1976 Topps #658 - Jerry Johnson

  • Jerry Johnson was originally signed by the New York mets as a third baseman in 1963. Johnson was a below average fielder at third base and he didn't hit enough to stay at the position, so he tried pitching a bit in 1963. Jerry became a pitcher for good in 1965. Johnson stayed in the Mets' system through the 1967 season. After the 1967 season Johnson was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the minor league draft.
  • Johnson started the 1968 season 7-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 10 starts in AAA San Diego. Jerry was brought up to the Phillies in July 1968 and was 4-4 with a 3.24 ERA in 16 games (11 starts).
  • Johnson was a 5th starter and occasional reliever in 1969. Jerry went 6-13 with a 4.28 ERA in 33 games (21 starts) in 1969. After the season Jerry was part of the big trade that was supposed to send Curt Flood to the Phillies and Dick Allen to the St. Louis Cardinals (Flood refused to report to Philadelphia). The Cardinals substituted Willie Montanez and a minor leaguer for Flood and  the trade went through.
  • Jerry spent a few weeks in St. Louis in 1970 and was 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 7 games. On May 19 Johnson was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Frank Linzy. Johnson was 3-4 with a 4.27 ERA in 33 games for the Giants in 1970.
  • Johnson had his best season in 1971 and finished sixth in NL Cy Young Award voting. Jerry became the  Giants' main man out of the bullpen and was 12-9 with 18 saves and had a 2.97 ERA in 67 games. Jerry allowed 2 runs in 1.1 innings in his only appearance in the 1971 NLCS. On September 14 Jerry was fined for his part in a brawl with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Jerry wasn't as effective in 1972, going 8-6 with 8 saves and a 4.42 ERA in 48 games. 
  • Johnson was waived during spring training in 1973 and was claimed by the Cleveland Indians. Jerry had a 5-6 record with 5 saves and had a 6.18 ERA in 39 games in 1973. After the 1973 season Johnson was traded to the Houston Astros for Cecil Upshaw.
  • Jerry spent two months in AAA in 1974. Johnson ended up going 2-1 with a 4.80 ERA in 34 games with Houston in 1974 and was released after the season.
  • Johnson signed with the San Diego Padres in 1975. Jerry was assigned to AAA Hawaii. He spent the first three months of the 1975 season in Hawaii and was brought up in July. Johnson was 3-1 with a 5.17 ERA in 21 games (4 starts) with the Padres in 1975.
  • Jerry found himself in Hawaii again to start the 1976 season and was brought up in early July. Johnson was 1-3 with a 5.31 ERA in 24 games for the Padres in 1976.
  • Before the 1977 season Jerry was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Dave Roberts. Johnson went 2-4 with a 4.60 ERA in 43 games for Toronto in 1977. Jerry was cut during spring training in 1978 and retired.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

1976 Topps #657 - Roy Smalley

  • At the time this card was produced Roy Smalley was a promising young shortstop. Roy was the first player taken in the 1974 draft. Roy spent the 1974 season in the minors. Smalley started the 1975 season in AAA Spokane and was promoted to the Rangers in late April. Roy batted .228 in 78 games for the Rangers in 1975.
  • Smalley started the 1976 season with the Rangers and batted .225 in 41 games. On June 1 Roy went to the Minnesota Twins in a huge trade that brought Bert Blyleven to Texas. Smalley batted .271 in 103 games for the Twins in 1976.
  • Smalley was the starting shortstop for the Twins for the next few years. In 1977 Roy batted .231 in 150 games. Smalley developed some power in 1978 -- he batted .273 with 19 HR and 77 RBI.
  • Roy was an AL All Star in 1979 (he started the game and was 0 for 3 with a walk) and led the AL with 162 games played and 729 plate appearances. Roy batted .278 with 24 HR, 95 RBI, 94 runs scored, and 80 walks. Roy Smalley: Good Field, Good Hit Shortstop - November 1979 Baseball Digest
  • Smalley played in 133 games in 1980 and batted .278 with 12 HR and 63 RBI. After the 1980 season Smalley signed a 4-year, $2.4 million contract.
  •  In 1981 Roy had two stints on the disabled list. Along with the strike, Smalley's playing time was limited to 56 games. Roy batted .263 during the season. Roy started to suffer from spondylolysis (a lower back condition) that hampered his play.
  • Roy played in only four games for the Twins in 1982 before being traded to the New York Yankees on April 10  for Greg Gagne, Ron Davis, and Paul Boris. Smalley batted .257 with 20 HR in 142 games for the Yankees in 1982.
  • Smalley batted .275 with 18 HR in 1983. Roy started the 1984 season with the Yankees (.239 in 67 games) before being traded to the Chicago White Sox for Doug Drabek and Kevin Hickey on July 18. Smalley batted .170 in 47 games for the White Sox to finish the 1984 season.
  • Before the 1985 season Smalley was traded to the Twins for Randy Johnson (no not that Randy) and a minor leaguer. By this time Roy was playing more as a DH than as an infielder. 
  • In 1985 Roy batted .258 with 12 HR in 129 games. Smalley batted .246 with 20 HR in 1986.
  • Smalley's last season was 1987. It was a good year for him to go out, as the Twins won the World Championship that year. Roy contributed with a .275 batting average and 8 homers in 110 games. Smalley wasn't used in the ALCS, but he played in four games in the World Series and went 1 for 2.
  • After the 1987 season Roy was sent back to the White Sox. A clause in the transaction that brought Smalley to the Twins in 1985 stipulated that the  Twins had the right to send him back at any time. Smalley retired in early April without playing for the White Sox.
  • Smalley now works for FSN North analyzing Minnesota Twins games. He also owns a restaurant near Target Field.
  • Liked to face: Paul Mitchell (.483 in 29 AB); Mike Parrott (.467 in 15 AB); Milt Wilcox (.444 in 27 AB)
  • Hated to face: Joe Cowley (.000 in 13 AB); Marty Pattin (.040 in 25 AB); Ed Figueroa (.069 in 29 AB); Nolan Ryan (.114 with 20 strikeouts in 35 AB)


Saturday, December 25, 2010

1976 Topps #656 - Chicago White Sox

  • The Chicago White Sox had fallen on hard times in the mid 1970s. The other AL owners wanted White Sox owner John Allen to sell the club to Seattle interests in order to avoid a lawsuit that the city was bringing against baseball for moving the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee. Charles Finley was then going to move the Oakland A's to Chicago. Bill Veeck bought the club after the 1975 season and kept the team in Chicago. The American League voted to put an expansion team in Seattle in order to mollify the people there.
  • Chuck Tanner is shown as the manager of the White Sox, but he was fired after the 1975 season and replaced by Paul Richards. Tanner had a job managing in the majors every year from 1970-1988. He managed the White Sox (1970-1975), the Oakland A's (1976), the Pittsburgh Pirates (1977-1985), and the Atlanta Braves (1986-1988).
  • The White Sox wore shorts for the first game of a doubleheader on August 8, 1976:
  • Manager: Paul Richards
  • 1976 Record: 64-97, 6th in AL West, 25 1/2 games behind Kansas City
  • Attendance: 914,945 (10th in AL)
  • Team Batting: .255 (7th in AL)
  • Team HR: 73 (10th in AL)
  • Team Stolen Bases: 120 (7th in AL)
  • Team ERA: 4.25 (12th in AL)
  • Team Fielding: .979 (4th in AL)
  • Club Batting Leader: Ralph Garr (.300)
  • Club HR Leader: Jorge Orta / Jim Spencer (14)
  • Club RBI Leader: Jorge Orta (72)
  • Club Runs Leader: Jorge Orta (74)
  • Club Stolen Base Leader: Jorge Orta (24)
  • Club Victories Leader: Ken Brett (10)
  • Club Losses Leader: Rich Gossage (17)
  • Club ERA Leader (starters): Ken Brett (3.32)
  • Club ERA Leader (relievers): Clay Carroll (2.56)
  • Club Saves Leader: Dave Hamilton (10)
  • AL All Stars: Rich Gossage (P)
  • League Leaders: Jim Spencer (intentional walks - 19)


Friday, December 24, 2010

1976 Topps #655 - Mike Vail

  •  Mike Vail was supposed to be a big star for the New York  Mets, but his career never really took off. Vail was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971 and played in their system from 1971-1974. After the 1974 season Mike was traded with Jack Heidemann to the Mets for Ted Martinez.
  • Vail had a good year for AAA Tidewater in 1975, batting .342 and being named International League Player of the Year. At the end of the 1975 season Mike was brought up to the Mets and batted .302 in 38 games. Vail had a 23-game hitting streak which was then a record for rookies.
  • The Mets were so high on Vail that they traded Rusty Staub to make room for him. Unfortunately Mike dislocated his foot playing basketball in the off season and didn't play in 1976 until June 17. Vail  batted .217 in 53 games in '76. 
  • In 1977 Mike improved to a .262 average in 108 games. The Mets cut Vail during spring training in 1978. Vail was signed by the Cleveland Indians and was assigned to AAA Portland. The Indians recalled Vail after he batted .393 in 14 games in Portland. Mike batted .235 in 14 games with the Indians and on June 15 was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Joe Wallis. Vail batted .333 in 74 games for the Cubs to finish the 1978 season.
  • Mike spent the next two seasons as a platoon outfielder and pinch hitter and hit well. Vail batted .335 in 87 games in 1979 and .298 in 114 games in 1980. Cubs manager Herman Franks didn't have many kind words for Vail (or for several other Cubs players) after he was fired in 1979.
  • After the 1980 season Vail was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Hector Cruz. Mike didn't play much in 1981 -- he appeared in 31 games (all as a pinch hitter) and batted .161. Vail batted .254 in 78 games in 1982. After the 1982 season Mike was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Rich  Gale.
  • Mike started the 1983 season with the Giants and batted .154 in 18 games. On May 25 Vail was traded to the Montreal Expos for Wallace Johnson. Mike batted .283 in 54 games for the Expos in 1983.
  • Vail was cut by the Expos during spring training in 1984. Mike signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in June but batted only .063 in 16 at bats. Vail spent some time in AAA Albuquerque and retired after the 1984 season.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

1976 Topps #654 - Doug Griffin

  • Doug Griffin was a second baseman in the majors from 1970-1977. Griffin was drafted by the California Angels in 1965. Doug played in the minors for the next several years (except for a two-year stint in the Navy) and got his chance to play in the majors in 1970. Doug batted .127 in 18 games for the Angels in 1970.
  • After the 1970 season Griffin was traded to the Boston Red Sox in a multi-player trade that sent Tony Conigliaro to the Angels.
  • Luis Tiant called Griffin "skeleton" because he was so thin. Doug and newly acquired shortstop Luis Aparicio formed a good defensive double play combination. Griffin started well in 1971 but was injured on July 28 when his back went into spasms. He missed a month of the 1971 season and batted .241 for the season.
  • Doug won the Gold Glove in 1972. He suffered a broken hand after being hit  by a Gaylord Perry pitch and missed a month of the season. Griffin batted .260 in 1972.
  • In 1973 Griffin was bothered by back spasms and was hit in the hand by Billy Champion on May 25. Tom missed about six weeks from late May to mid July. Doug batted .255 in 113 games during the 1973 season.
  • Early in the 1974 season Griffin missed some time due to a pulled muscle. He had a much more serious injury on April 30 when he was beaned by Nolan Ryan. The beaning knocked Griffin unconscious and it caused some temporary hearing loss. Doug spent two months on the disabled list after the beaning. Griffin batted .266 in 93 games in 1974.
  • Early in the 1975 season several possibilities were discussed on replacing Griffin due to his injury difficulties. The Red Sox acquired Denny Doyle in June and Griffin's playing time decreased significantly. Doug batted .240 in 100 games in 1975. Doug was beaned by Oakland pitcher Dick Bosman on August 30 but he had a quicker recovery time since he was wearing an ear flap on his batting helmet. Griffin didn't play in the ALCS and made one appearance in the World Series. After the 1975 season Griffin wanted to be traded because of his lack of playing time.
  • Griffin batted only  .189 in 49 games in 1976. Doug played in five games in 1977 and was 0 for 6. Griffin was released on June 21, 1977.
  • After his playing career Griffin worked in the construction trade. He is now retired and lives in Winter Haven, FL.
  • Here is Doug's SABR biography.
  • Liked to face: Mike Hedllund (.545 in 11 AB); Lerrin LaGrow (.429 in 14 AB); Vida Blue (.405 in 37 AB)
  • Hated to face: Frank Linzy (.000 in 9 AB); John Odom (.053 in 19 AB); Ray Corbin (.059 in 17 AB)


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

1976 Topps #653 - Mike Norris

  • Mike Norris pitched for the Oakland A's from 1975-1983 and again in 1990. Norris was drafted by the A's in 1973. Mike pitched in the minors in 1973 and 1974. Norris started the 1975 season with the A's and pitched a three-hit shutout in his debut on April 10. Mike missed most of the season after having bone chips removed from his elbow on April 30. Norris pitched in a total of four games for the A's in 1975 without allowing an earned run.
  • Mike split time between AAA Tucson and the A's in 1976. Norris went 4-5 with a 4.78 ERA in 24 games (19 starts) for the A's in 1976.
  • Norris was up and down between AAA and Oakland in 1977 and in 1978. Mike went 2-7 with a 4.77 ERA in 16 games (12 starts) in 1977 and was 0-5 with a 5.51 ERA in 14 games (5 starts) in 1978.
  • Mike stayed with the A's in 1979 and went 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA in 29 games (18 starts).
  • Norris had his career year in 1980. Mike had a 22-9 record with a 2.53 ERA in 33 starts. Mike finished second to Steve Stone in AL Cy Young Award voting and also won a Gold Glove award. 
  • Before the 1981 season Mike went to salary arbitration with the A's but lost his case. Mike asked for $450,000 but "only" got $325,000. It was still quite a raise from the $40,000 he made in 1980.
  • Norris went 12-9 and had a 3.75 ERA in 1981. Mike was named to the AL All Star team, pitched one inning, and allowed one run. Norris also won his second Gold Glove award.
  • Mike pitched a 4-hit shutout in game 1 of the ALDS. He started game 1 of the ALCS and lost the game 3-1.
  • Norris struggled with arm problems (tendinitis) in 1982. Mike ended up going 7-11 with a 4.76 ERA in 28 starts.
  • In the first two months of the 1983 season Mike appeared to be doing well. At the end of May he was 4-5 but had a 3.29 ERA. Norris started three games in June and had games of 4.2 innings, 2 innings, and 0 innings (faced two batters) before being put on the disabled list. Norris ended up with a record of 4-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 16 starts. On May 27 Dave Winfield charged the mound after Norris brushed him back with a pitch. Winfield was ejected from the game.
  • In 1984 Norris was arrested but cleared of charges of cocaine possession when it couldn't be proved that the cocaine was his. Norris didn't pitch in '84 due to injuries. 
  • Norris was in trouble with the law in 1985 due to a drunk-driving arrest and wasn't allowed to pitch for the A's. Mike pitched in two games for Class A Modesto in 1985. Norris became a free agent after the 1985 season.
  • Mike attempted a comeback in 1986 with the Class A San Jose Bees. He was suspended for a week in April after missing a game. Mike was dismissed from the team but came back later to make 11 starts.
  • Norris was out of baseball in 1987 and 1988. The A's signed Mike in 1989 and he pitched in the minors in 1989. Mike made the Oakland ballclub as a reliever in 1990 and pitched in 14 games. He was 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA when he was released on July 15. 
  • Mike pitched for an independent team in 1991 and hung 'em up after the season.
  • Liked to face: Jorge Orta (.000 in 24 AB); Rob Wilfong (.069 in 29 AB); Julio Cruz (.087 in 23 AB)
  • Hated to face: Thurman Munson (.600 in 10 AB); Jim Spencer (.471 in 17 AB); Dan Ford (.423 in 26 AB)


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

1976 Topps #652 - Ed Armbrister

  • Ed Armbrister was a backup outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds from 1973-1977. Armbrister was drafted by the Houston Astros in 1967. After playing in the Houston system from 1967-1971, Ed was included in the trade that sent Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, and Jack Billingham to the Reds.
  • Armbrister played in AAA Indianapolis in 1972 and for most of the season in 1973. Ed came up to Cincinnati late in the 1973 season and batted .216 in 18 games. Armbrister was 1 for 6 (.167) in the 1973 NLCS.
  • Ed was in Indianapolis again for most of the 1974 season. Armbrister played for the Reds late in the 1974 season and went 2 for 7 (.286) in nine games.
  • Armbrister stayed with the Reds for the next three seasons. In 1975 Ed didn't get much playing time since the Reds had such a solid outfield (George Foster, Geronimo, and Ken Griffey). Ed batted .185 in 65 at bats during the regular season in 1975. Armbrister appeared in two games in the 1975 NLCS and had a sacrifice fly in his only plate appearance.
  • Ed is remembered most for a controversial play in the 10th inning of game 3 of the 1975 World Series. Armbrister was put in the game as a pinch hitter and ordered to lay down a bunt. After Ed bunted the ball Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk collided with him. The Red Sox argued that Ed should have been called out for interference, but the umpires didn't agree. Armbrister appeared in four games in the 1975 World Series and was 0 for 1 with two walks, a run scored, and a sacrifice.
  • Armbrister batted .295 in 78 AB in 1976. He  made one appearance in the NLCS (a sacrifice bunt) but did not play in the World Series.
  • Ed batted .256 in 78 AB in 1977. Armrbrister had an operation for bone spurs in his elbow before the 1978 season. Dave Collins replaced Armbrister as the extra outfielder in 1978 and Ed was back in Indianapolis.
  • Armrbrister played in the Mexican League in 1979 and 1980 and then retired from baseball.
  • Ed returned to his native Bahamas and worked at a casino. He was also involved in promoting baseball in the Bahamas.
  • Here is Ed's SABR biography.


Monday, December 20, 2010

1976 Topps #651 - John Odom

  • John "Blue Moon" Odom spent most of his 13-year career pitching for the Kansas City / Oakland A's. Odom was signed by the Kansas City A's in 1964. John was in the minors for most of the year in 1964. He was brought up to Kansas City in September at the age of 19 and went 1-2 with an ERA of 10.06 in 5 starts.
  • Odom spent most of the next two seasons in the minors. In 1965 John made one September appearance for the A's. In 1966 Odom came up to the A's in late July and went 5-5 with a 2.49 ERA in 14 starts.
  • Odom started the 1967 season with the A's but was sent down for a month in July/August. John went 3-8 with a 5.04 ERA in 29 games (17 starts) for Kansas City in 1967.
  • The  A's moved to Oakland in 1968 and Odom had his first big year for the club. John made the 1968 All Star team and pitched two scoreless innings. Odom went 16-10 with a 2.45 ERA in 1968 and led the AL with 17 wild pitches.
  • John was an All Star again in 1969 but this time he got hammered for five runs in 1/3 of an inning. Odom had a 15-6 record with an ERA of 2.92 for the A's in 1969.
  • Odom missed about six weeks of the 1970 season. He was 9-8 with a 3.80 ERA in 29 starts in 1970. 
  • John didn't make his first start until May 16 in 1971. Odom went 10-12 with a 4.29 ERA in 25 starts during the regular season. The A's won their first AL West title, but John didn't pitch during the 1971 ALCS.
  • In 1972 Odom had his last really good year. He had a 15-6 record with a 2.50 ERA in 30 starts. John won both of his starts in the 1972 ALCS and was 0-1 in two starts during the World Series.
  • Somehow John managed just a 5-12 record for the AL West Champion A's in 1973. His ERA also went up to 4.49. Odom allowed one run in five innings in a relief appearance in game 1 of the ALCS. John appeared in two games in the World Series and had a 3.86 ERA in 4.2 innings.
  • Odom was used mostly as a reliever in 1974. John appeared in 34 games (5 starts) and had a 1-5 record with a 3.81 ERA. John pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in game 1 of the ALCS. Before the World Series John got into a locker room scrap with teammate Rollie Fingers. The dispute was apparently about World Series shares. Odom pitched in two games in the 1974 World Series and was the winning pitcher in the series-clinching game 5.
  • John had a rocky year in 1975. Odom was 0-2 with a 12.27 ERA when he was traded with cash to the Cleveland Indians for Dick Bosman and Jim Perry. Odom wanted the Indians to pony up an extra $8,000 because he would be "losing playoff money" by going to the club. John pitched in only three games for the Indians, but the last one was a 2-hit shutout of the Kansas City Royals on June 4. Odom was traded with Rob Bellior to the Atlanta Braves for Roric Harrison on June 15. John went 1-7 with a 7.07 ERA for the Braves to finish the 1975 season.
  • John started the 1976 season in AAA Richmond. Odom was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Pete Varney on June 15. After spending a few weeks in AAA John was brought up to the White Sox. Odom went 2-2 with a 5.79 ERA in 8 games (4 starts) in 1976. John did have one highlight in 1976 -- he combined with Francisco Barrios on a no-hitter of the A's on July 28. Odom pitched the first five innings and allowed one unearned run. He also walked nine batters.
  • Odom was released after the 1976 season. John pitched for Oakland's AAA San Jose club but retired after making six starts. 
  • In 1977 Odom divorced from his wife. According to this article John was a three dollar an hour liquor store clerk at the time of the divorce.
  • Odom got in trouble with the law in 1985 when he was arrested for threatening his wife with a gun. In 1986 John served 55 days in a California jail for selling a small amount of cocaine to a co-worker.
  • John played for the St. Petersburg Pelicans in the Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1989.

  • Liked to face: Jackie Hernandez (.000 in 14 AB); Mark Belanger (.038 in 26 AB); Bernie Allen (.077 in 26 AB)
  • Hated to face: Carl Yastrzemski (.447 with 5 HR in 47 AB); Jose Tartabull (.538 in 13 AB); Mickey Mantle (.357 with 3 HR in 14 AB)


Sunday, December 19, 2010

1976 Topps #650 - Thurman Munson

  • People remember where they were when they first hear about big events. When John Lennon was killed I found about it from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football. When Ronald Reagan was shot I was in 8th hour algebra class and someone announced it over the intercom.
  • I was in the car with my mom and a few friends (I think we were on our way home from the mall) when the news of the death of Thurman Munson came over the radio. Most of the people in the car didn't give it a second thought, but I was very quiet for the rest of the trip home. Other players had died in mid-career before this (such as Bob Moose, Danny Frisella, and Lyman Bostock),  but Munson's death had more of an impact on me.
  • Thurman Munson was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1968. He was the fourth player taken in the draft. Munson played in the minors in 1968 and in 1969. Thurman came up to the Yankees in August 1969 and batted .256 in 26 games.
  • Munson was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1970 and batted .302 in 132 games.
  • Thurman made the AL All Star team for the first time in 1971 (his all-star game stats will come later). Munson batted .251 with 10 HR in 125 games for the Yankees in 1971.
  • The 1972 season was the only one until his final year in 1979 that Munson didn't make the All Star team. Thurman batted .280 in 140 games in '72. It was the first of seven seasons in a row in which Munson would play in at least 140 games.
  • In 1973 Munson batted .301 with a career-high 20 home runs. He also won the first of three consecutive Gold Glove awards in '73.
  • Thurman batted .261 with 13 HR in 1974. Munson bounced back in 1975 to have a career high in batting average (.318). Munson knocked in 102 runs in 1975 -- it was the first of three 100+ RBI seasons in a row for him.
  • Munson had his biggest year in 1976. Thurman was the AL MVP as he led the Yankees to their first AL Pennant since 1964. Munson batted .302 with 17 HR and 105 RBI during the regular season. Thurman batted .435 (10 for 23) during the ALCS and .529 (9 for 17) during the World Series. Munson was hurt by unfavorable comparisons to Cincinnati's Johnny Bench during the series. Reds' manager Sparky Anderson sent Munson a letter of apology after the series. Thurman Munson: Most Valuable Yankee - November 1976 Baseball Digest
  • Munson had difficulties with new arrival Reggie Jackson in 1977 but those troubles didn't stop the Yankees from winning the World Championship. Thurman batted .308 with 18 HR and 100 RBI in 1977. Munson played well in the 1977 postseason, batting .286 in the ALCS and .320 in the World Series. After the 1977 season Thurman expressed a desire to be traded to the Cleveland Indians in order to be closer to his family, but a deal was never made.
  • Thurman started to show the effects of so many games behind the plate in 1978. He still hit the ball well (.297 in 154 games), but he homered only six times. Thurman clashed with manager Billy Martin in May and was suspended for three games for bumping an umpire in June. Munson batted .278 in the ALCS and .320 in the World Series. Thurman Munson: The Real Power Behind the Yankees - February 1979 Baseball Digest
  • In 1979 Munson was on his way to another 140+ game season before his plane crash on August 2. Thurman was batting .288 in 97 games before he passed away. On August 2 the Yankees had an off day and Munson decided to practice some touch-and-go landings in his hometown of Canton, OH. He had recently purchased a new plane and wanted to get some practice time. Thurman's plane clipped some trees just before he got to the runway. The other two people on the plane managed to escape, but Munson was killed. Here is a 2009 article in which one of the survivors describes what happened in the crash. The entire Yankee ballclub attended Thurman's funeral on August 6.
  • Liked to face: Tom Buskey (.714 in 14 AB); Jim Merritt/Dyar Miller (.692 in 13 AB); Tom Hall (.556 with 2 HR in 9 AB)
  • Hated to face: Pete Broberg (.000 in 16 AB); Frank Tanana (.091 in 44 AB); Nolan Ryan (.143 with 13 strikeouts in 49 AB)


Saturday, December 18, 2010

1976 Topps #649 - Dave Roberts

  • Dave Roberts pitched in the majors from 1969-1981. I always got him mixed up with the other Dave Roberts who played third base for the Padres (and other teams) during this time.
  • After graduating from high school in 1963 Roberts signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Dave was a minor leaguer in the Phillies organization (and later the KC A's and Pittsburgh Pirates organizations) before being selected by the San Diego Padres in the expansion draft after the 1968 season. Roberts was the pitcher of the Year in the International League in 1968.
  • Dave started the 1969 season in the minors and was brought up to the Padres in July. Roberts was 0-3 with a 4.81 ERA in 22 games (5 starts) in 1969.
  • In 1970 Roberts was mostly a reliever until mid-June when he joined the Padres' rotation. Dave was 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA in 43 games (21 starts) in 1970.
  • Roberts probably had his best year in 1971. He finished second in the NL in ERA (2.10) and finished 6th in NL Cy Young voting. Dave's record was still below .500 because the Padres were so bad -- he went 14-17 in 34 starts. Dave Roberts on the Road to Stardom - November 1971 Baseball Digest
  • After the 1971 season Roberts was traded to the Houston Astros for Bill Greif, Derrel Thomas, and Mark Schaeffer. Dave went 12-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 35 games (28 starts) for the Astros in 1972.
  • Roberts had another good year in 1973, going 17-11 with a 2.85 ERA in 36 starts. In 1974 he was 10-12 with a 3.40 ERA and in 1975 Roberts went 8-14 with a 4.27 ERA.
  • After the 1975 season Roberts was traded with Jim Crawford and Milt May to the Detroit Tigers for Terry Humphrey, Mark Lemongello, Gene Pentz, and Leon Roberts.
  • Dave was 16-17 with a 4.00 ERA in 36 starts in 1976. Roberts had the distinction of allowing Hank Aaron's final career hit and RBI on the last day of the 1976 season. 
  • After the 1976 season Roberts had surgery on an arthritic knee. Dave started slowly for Detroit in 1977 (4-10, 5.15 ERA in 22 starts) and was sold to the Chicago Cubs in July. On April 30 Rod Carew was ejected from a game for slugging Roberts after Roberts had hit him with a pitch. Dave went 1-1 with a 3.23 ERA in 16 games (7 starts) with the Cubs to finish the 1977 season.
  • Roberts was better with the bat than he was on the mound in 1978. Dave batted .327 with a .500 slugging percentage in 52 at bats but was only 6-8 with a 5.25 ERA. After the 1978 season Roberts became a free agent and signed with the San Francisco Giants.
  • Dave was used as a reliever by the Giants in 1979. He pitched in 26 games (1 start) and was 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA. In July Dave was traded (with Bill Madlock and Len Randle) to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Al Holland, Ed Whitson, and Fred Breining. Roberts pitched in 21 games (3 starts) for the Pirates and was 5-2 with a 3.26 ERA. Dave was able to enjoy a pennant race for the first (and only) time in his career. Dave appeared in one game in the 1979 NLCS and walked the only batter he faced. Roberts wasn't used in the World Series.
  • Roberts started the 1980 season with the Pirates (0-1, 3.86 ERA in two games) and was sold to the Seattle Mariners on April 24. Dave went 2-3 with a 4.37 ERA in 37 games (4 starts) for the Mariners in 1981.
  • Dave became a free agent again after the 1980 season and signed with the New York Mets. Roberts pitched in 7 games (4 starts) for the Mets and was 0-3 with a 9.39 ERA. The Mets cut Roberts on May 27 and he signed with the San Francisco Giants on June 15. Dave pitched in six games for the Giants' AAA Phoenix club and retired after the season.
  • Roberts died of lung cancer at the age of 64 on January 9, 2009. His family said that he developed the lung cancer from regularly inhaling asbestos as a young man in his offseason job as a boilermaker.
  • Liked to face: Graig Nettles (.000 in 19 AB); Tommy Helms (.050 in 20 AB); Mark Belanger (.071 in 14 AB
  • Hated to face:  Jim Beauchamp (.600 in 15 AB); Dan Driessen (.588 in 17 AB); Bobby Murcer (.538 in 13 AB); Hank Aaron (.288 with 6 HR in 63 AB)


Friday, December 17, 2010

1976 Topps #648 - Al Cowens

  • Al Cowens was a major league outfielder from 1974-1986. Cowens had a great arm, as this card illustrates, and usually had double-figure outfield assist totals. Al was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1969. Cowens played in the minors from 1969-1973 before  making the major league ballclub in 1974. Al batted .242 with 1 HR in 110 games in 1974.
  • In 1975 Cowens batted .277 with 4 HR in 120 games. Al had a similar year in 1976, batting .265 with 3 HR in 152 games. Cowens went 4 for 21 (.190) in the 1976 ALCS.
  • Cowens had his best season in 1977. He finished second to Rod Carew in AL MVP voting and won a Gold Glove award. Al batted .312 with 23 HR and 112 RBI and also had 32 doubles and 14 triples. Cowens went 5 for 19 (.263) in the ALCS.
  • Al didn't hit for as  much power in 1978. He batted .274 with 5 HR and 63 RBI during the regular season and went 2 for 15 (.133) in the ALCS.
  • Cowens batted .295 with 9 HR in 136 games in 1979. He missed 21 games after having his jaw broken by an Ed Farmer pitch on May 8. Teammate Frank White had his hand broken by another Farmer pitch in the same game. These incidents would have repercussions a year later. After the 1979 season Cowens was traded (along with Todd Cruz and Craig Eaton) to the California Angels for Willie Aikens and Rance Mulliniks.
  • Al didn't have a good start with the Angels (.227 in 34 games) and was traded to the Detroit Tigers on May 27 for Jason Thompson. On June 20 Cowens faced Farmer again. As Farmer watched a teammate field a grounder, Cowens ran to the  mound and attacked Farmer from behind instead of running to first base. Cowens was suspended for seven games. A warrant was issued for Al's arrest in Illinois and he had to miss the remainder of the series. The two shook hands as they brought out the lineup cards on September 1 and Farmer dropped the charges, but for the remainder of his career Al saw "Coward Cowens" banners whenever his teams visited Comiskey Park. Al ended up batting .268 with 6 HR and 59 RBI in 1980.
  • Al played in 85 games in the 1981 strike season and batted .261 but homered only once. 
  • Cowens was purchased by the Seattle Mariners during spring training in 1982. Al had a bounceback season in 1982, batting .270 with 20 HR and 78 RBI.
  • Al missed a month of the 1983 season with an injury and batted only .205 with 7 HR in 110 games. 
  • Cowens had better years in 1984 (.277 with 15 HR and 78 RBI) and in 1985 (.265 with 14 HR and 69 RBI).
  • Al started slowly in 1986. He was batting .183 in 28 games when the Mariners released him on June 12. Cowens then played in Japan for a short time, but it didn't work out.
  • Cowens played for Bradenton in the Senior Professonal Baseball League in 1989 and batted .390 in 22 games. After his playing career Al was a scout for the Royals.
  • Cowens died of a heart attack on March 11, 2002 at the age of 50. Al's son Purvis started the Al Cowens Heart Healthy Foundation in 2010.
  • Liked to face: John Hiller (.529 in 17 AB); Mike Parrott/Steve Stone (.444 in 18 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jay Howell (.000 in 10 AB); Dave Frost (.056 in 18 AB); Jim Kern (.111 in 18 AB)


Thursday, December 16, 2010

1976 Topps #647 - Ramon Hernandez

  • Ramon Hernandez was mostly a relief pitcher from 1967-1977. Hernandez was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1959. After pitching in the C/D minor league levels for two years (1959 and 1960), Ramon didn't pitch in organized baseball in 1961 and was sold to the Los Angeles Angels after the 1961 season.  
  • Ramon pitched in the Angels' organization from 1962-1966 and pitched well at the A and AA levels, but he didn't show much when brought up to the AAA level. After the 1966 season Hernandez was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the Rule 5 draft.
  • Hernandez had to stay with the Braves for the entire 1967 season. Ramon pitched in 46 games and was 0-2 with five saves and had a 4.18 ERA.
  • After the 1967 season Hernandez was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 draft. Ramon was 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in eight games for the Cubs. Hernandez was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals on June 14 and spent the rest of the 1968 season in AAA Tulsa. 
  • Ramon pitched in AA Arkansas in 1969 but didn't pitch very well. Hernandez was released during spring training in 1970 and spent the season pitching in the Mexican League.
  • The Pirates purchased Hernandez in 1971 and assigned him to AAA Charleston. Ramon pitched in 10 September games for the Pirates in 1971 and was 0-1 with 4 saves and had a 0.71 ERA. Hernandez was not on the Pirates' post-season roster.
  • Ramon pitched well for the Pirates for the next few seasons:
    • 1972 - 5-0, 1.67 ERA, 14 saves in 53 games. Had a 2.70 ERA in three games in the NLCS
    • 1973 - 4-5, 2.41 ERA, 11 saves in 59 games
    • 1974 - 5-2, 2.75 ERA, 2 saves in 58 games. Pitched 4.1 scoreless innings in two games in the NLCS.
    • 1975 - 7-2, 2.95 ERA, 5 saves in 46 games. Pitched 2/3 of an inning in game 3 of the NLCS, allowed two runs, and took the loss.
  • In 1976 Hernandez started with the Pirates (2-2, 3 saves, 3.56 ERA in 37 games) and was sold to the Chicago Cubs on September 8. Teammate Richie Zisk was upset about the deal because it left the Pirates without a lefthander in the bullpen for the stretch run. Ramon pitched 1.2 scoreless innings for the Cubs in two games at the end of the 1976 season.
  • Hernandez was with the Cubs for the first two months of the 1977 season and was 0-0 with an 8.22 ERA in six games. Ramon was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Bobby Darwin on May 28. Hernandez was 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in 12 games for the Red Sox and was released on August 20, 1977.
  • After he left major league baseball Ramon continued to pitch in Puerto Rico for several years.
  • Ramon passed away in Puerto Rico at the age of 68 on February 4, 2009 (article is in Spanish). Here is a blog article written about Hernandez after his death.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

1976 Topps #646 - John Lowenstein

  • John Lowenstein played in the majors for 16 years and was a valuable utilityman and platoon outfielder for several of those seasons. Lowenstein was drafted by the Clevleand Indians in 1968. John got his first chance to play in the majors as a September call-up in 1970 and batted .256 in 17 games.
  • Lowenstein started the 1971 season with Cleveland but was up and down between AAA Wichita and the Indians all season. John batted .320 in Wichita but batted only .186 in 58 games for Cleveland.
  • John batted .212 in 68 games in1972. In 1973 he had his first good offensive season, batting .292 in 98 games.
  • Lowenstein appeared in a career-high 140 games in 1974 and batted .242 with 8 home runs. John batted .242 again in 1975 and homered 12 times in 91 games.
  • John batted .205 in 93 games in 1976. After the 1976 season Lowenstein was traded with Rick Cerone to the Toronto Blue Jays for  Rico Carty. The Blue Jays turned around and traded Lowenstein back to Cleveland for Hector Torres.
  • Lowenstein batted .242 in 81 games in 1977. After the 1977 season John was traded with Tom Buskey to the Texas Rangers for David Clyde and Willie Horton.
  • Lowenstein spent one season in Texas and batted .222 in 77 games. John was placed on waivers after the 1976 season and was selected by the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Orioles' manager Earl Weaver decided to platoon Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke in left field in 1979. It was an effective platoon -- Lowenstein batted .254 with 11 HR and Roenicke batted .261 with 25 HR. In the ALCS John went 1 for 6, but his one hit was a huge one --- he homered in the bottom of the 10th inning of game 1 to win it for the Orioles. Lowenstein went 3 for 13 (.231) in the World Series.
  • Lowenstein was mostly a pinch hitter and substitute outfielder in 1980 and batted .311 in 196 at bats.
  • John is listed as the starting LF in 1981, but he had only 189 at bats in 83 games. Lowenstein batted .249 with 6 HR in 1981.
  • Lowenstein played more regularly in 1982 and batted a career-high .320 in 122 games. In 1983 Lowenstein and Roenicke combined to hit 34 HR and knock in 124 runs. Lowenstein  batted .281 with 15 HR during the regular season. John was 1 for 6 (.167) in the 1983 ALCS and went 5 for 13 (.385) in the World Series.
  • John's hitting started to tail off in 1984 as he batted .237 in 85 games. Lowenstein went 2 for 26 (.077) in 13 games in 1985 and was released on May 21.
  • Lowenstein was a color commentator on Orioles' broadcasts from 1986-1995. John now lives in Las Vegas.
  • John was good for a quote from time to time:
    • "I flush the john between innings to keep my wrists strong (fitness tip for designated hitters)."
    • "The secret to keeping winning streaks going is to maximize the victories while at the same time minimizing the defeats"
  • Liked to face: Steve McCatty (.476 in 21 AB); Rick Langford (.452 with 3 HR in 31 AB); Albert Williams (.429 with 3 HR in 14 AB)
  • Hated to face: Ross Grimsley (.000 with 6 strikeouts in 13 AB); Rick Sutcliffe (.077 in 26 AB); Pat Dobson (.108 in 37 AB)


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1976 Topps #645 - Darrell Porter

  • Darrell Porter caught in the major leagues for 17 season. Porter was the first round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970. Darrell played in the minors from 1970-1972 and had brief stints with the Brewers in 1971 (.214 in 22 games) and in 1972 (.125 in 18 games).
  • Darrell split time with Ellie Rodriguez behind the plate in 1973 and batted .254 with 16 HR in 117 games. Porter finished third (behind runaway winner Al Bumbry and teammate Pedro Garcia) in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1973. 
  • Porter took over the regular catching duties in 1974 and batted .241 with 12 HR. Darrell made the 1974 AL All Star team but didn't play in the game.
  • Darrell batted .232 with 18 HR in 1975. Porter had an offensive drop-off in 1976 and batted .208 with 5 HR. After the 1976 season Darrell was traded with Jim Colborn to the Kansas City Royals for Jamie Quirk, Jim Wohlford, and Bob McClure.
  • Porter had a comeback year in 1977, batting .275 with 16 HR. Darrell went 5 for 15 (.333) in the 1977 ALCS.
  • Darrell had another nice season in 1978 and made the AL All Star team for the second time (he was 0 for 1 in the game). Porter batted .265 with 18 HR and 75 RBI and finished 10th in AL MVP voting. Darrell went 5 for 14 (.357) in the ALCS.
  • The Royals didn't win the AL West in 1979, but Porter still had a good year. Darrell batted .291 with 20 HR and 121 RBI. He led the AL with 121 walks and was in double figures in doubles (23) and triples (10). Darrell was the starting catcher in the 1979 All Star Game and doubled in three at bats. Darrell Porter Joins A  Select Group of Catchers - January 1980 Baseball Digest
  • Porter struck out in his only at bat in the 1980 All Star Game. Darrell batted .249 with 7 HR and 51 RBI as he missed the first month of the season. Darrell had checked himself in to an drug/alcohol rehabilitation center during spring training. He was one of the first players to admit that he had a problem with substance abuse. Porter went 1 for 10 (.100) in the 1980 ALCS and was 2 for 14 (.143) in the World Series. After his time in the rehabilitation center Porter became a born-again Christian and became a spokesman for Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  • After the 1980 season Darrell became a free agent and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Porter batted .224 in 61 games in the 1981 strike season.
  • Porter played  in 120 games in 1982 and batted .231 with 12 HR. Porter was 5 for 9 (.556) in the NLCS and was 8 for 28 (.286) in the World Series.
  • In 1983 Darrell batted .262 with 15 HR. Darrell Porter Has Faith - The Times-News March 12, 1983. In his last season as a regular player (1984) Darrell batted .232 with 11 HR. Porter wrote an autobiography (Snap Me Perfect!) in 1984 that detailed his battles with substance abuse.
  • Porter split time with Tom Nieto at catcher in 1985 (Darrell missed time with a broken toe and a broken thumb). Darrell batted .221 with 10 HR in 84 games during the regular season. Porter went 4 for 15 (.267) in the NLCS and was 2 for 15 (.133) in the World Series. Darrell was released after the 1985 season and signed with the Texas Rangers.
  • Porter was a part-time catcher and DH in the last two seasons of his career. In 1986 Darrell batted .265 with 12 HR in 68 games and in 1987 he batted .238 with 7 HR in 85 games. Porter was released after the 1987 season and retired.
  • After his playing career Porter did some broadcasting and was also in the antique business. Darrell had a relapse and was found dead outside his vehicle on August 5, 2002. He died of "toxic effects of cocaine."
  • Liked to face: Mike Krukow (.483 with 5 HR in 29 AB); Ron Schueler/Larry Christenson (.545 in 11 AB)
  • Hated to face: Floyd Bannister (.000 in 17  AB); Geoff Zahn/Jerry Koosman (.056 in 18 AB)


Monday, December 13, 2010

1976 Topps #644 - Tom Bradley

  • Tom Bradley pitched in the majors from 1969-1975. Bradley was drafted by the California Angels in 1968. Bradley pitched in the minors in 1969 and in 1970. Tom was given a short September look in 1969 and was 0-1 with a 27.00 ERA in three games.
  • Tom had an 11-1 record with a 2.53 ERA in AAA Hawaii in 1970. Bradley came up to the Angels in early July and was 2-5 with a 4.13 ERA in 17 games (11 starts).
  • After the 1970 season Bradley was traded to the Chicago White Sox with Tom Egan and Jay Johnstone for three players.
  • Bradley had his two best seasons for the White Sox. In 1971 he was 15-14 with a 2.98 ERA in 45 games (39 starts). Tom had a record of 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA in 40 starts in 1972. 
  • Before the 1973 season Bradley was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Ken Henderson and Steve Stone. Tom was 13-12 with a 3.90 ERA in 34 starts in 1973.
  • In 1974 Bradley pitched only twice after August 12. He had an 8-11 record with a 5.16 ERA in 30 games (21 starts) for the Giants in 1974.
  • Bradley's last season was in 1975. Tom was 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA in 13 games (6 starts) with the Giants. He also spent some time in AAA Phoenix in '75. 
  • Tom was waived  by the Giants at the end of spring training in 1976. Bradley was claimed by the Oakland A's and assigned to AAA Tucson. Tom was 5-9 with a 6.51 in Tucson and retired after the 1976 season.
  • Bradley coached college baseball for several years after his playing career. He coached Jacksonville University from 1978-1990 and the University of Maryland from 1991-2000. Tom was a minor league pitching coach from 2001-2010. He is now the pitching coach at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., where his son is the head coach.
  • Edit (4/1/11): Here is a cool blog entry (Baseball by the Letters) about Mr. Bradley. His answers to a few questions shed some light on his career and on what he's been up to since leaving pro baseball.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

1976 Topps #643 - Checklist #529-660

  • Here is the last of the checklists. A pretty good All Star team could be formed from this series:
    • P: Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Ron Guidry, J.R. Richard, Sparky Lyle, Tug McGraw
    • C: Thurman Munson
    • 1B: Keith Hernandez
    • 2B: Willie Randolph, Dave Lopes
    • SS: Bert Campaneris
    • 3B: Bill Madlock 
    • OF: Al Oliver, Greg Luzinski, Dwight Evans
    • bench: whoever doesn't start at 2B, Darrell Porter, Bill Freehan, George Hendrick, Don Kessenger, Hank Aaron.
    • I probably missed a couple of good ones, particularly from the rookie cards.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

1976 Topps #642 - Dennis Blair

  • Dennis Blair pitched for the Montreal Expos from 1974-1976 and also pitched for the San Diego Padres for a short time in 1980.
  • Blair was drafted by the Expos in 1972. Dennis moved up the ladder in the Expos' organization and came up to the majors in May 1974 after starting the season 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA for AAA Memphis.
  • Dennis had a good rookie year for the Expos in 1974, going 11-7 with a 3.27 ERA in 22 starts. Blair won his major league debut on May 26.
  • Blair was 8-15 with an ERA of 3.80 in 1975.
  • In 1976 Dennis was in AAA for most of the season. Blair was brought back to the Expos in September and 0-2 with a 4.02 ERA in four starts.
  • Blair spent the 1977 season in AAA. He started with Montreal's Denver club and was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. He finished the season in AAA Rochester.
  • In 1978 Blair was in AA and in AAA in the Baltimore organization. Dennis started the 1979 season with Rochester and then moved on to San Diego's AAA Hawaii Islanders after being traded in June.
  • Dennis was in Hawaii again for most of the 1980 season. He was brought up to the Padres for a brief time in June and July and was 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in five games. Blair retired after the 1980 season.


Friday, December 10, 2010

1976 Topps #641 - Tom Paciorek

  • Tom Paciorek played in 18 seasons from 1970-1987. Tom was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968. Paciorek was mostly a minor leaguer from 1968-1972. Tom was brought up for short stints in 1970 (.222 in 8 games), 1971 (.500 in 2 games), and 1972 (.255 in 11 games). Paciorek was the Sporting News  Minor League Player of the Year in 1972.
  • When he first  joined the Dodgers in 1970 Paciorek was given Don Drysdale's old number 53. Tom later switched to number 17.
  • After batting over .300 three years in a row in AAA, Tom was finally brought up to the Dodgers to stay in 1973. Paciorek was a fill-in outfielder for the Dodgers for the next few seasons. Tom batted .262 in 96 games in 1974 and batted .240 in 85 games in 1974. Tom played sparingly in the 1974 NLCS (1 for 1) and in the 1974 World Series (1 for 2 with a run scored).
  • Paciorek batted only .193 in 62 games in 1975. After the 1975 season Tom was traded with three other players to the Atlanta Braves for Dusty Baker and Ed Goodson (hence the airbrush job on this card).
  • Paciorek batted .290 in 111 games for the Braves in 1976. Tom didn't fare as well in 1977, batting .239 in 72 games.
  • In 1978 Tom was released during spring training, but was resigned by the Braves just before the start of the season. Paciorek went 3 for 9 (.333) in five games for the Braves before being released again on May 23. Tom signed with the Seattle Mariners on May 31. He played in AAA for a few weeks and then came up to the Mariners in late June and batted .299 in 70 games.
  • Paciorek finally blossomed with the Mariners. In 1979 Tom batted .287 in 103 games. Paciorek batted .273 with 15 HR in 126 games in 1980.
  • Tom was an AL All Star in 1981 (he appeared as a pinch hitter and singled) and finished 10th in AL MVP voting. Paciorek batted .326 with 14 HR and 66 RBI in 1981. It was the only season in which Tom was listed as a starting player.
  • After the 1981 season Tom was traded to the Chicago White Sox for three players. In 1982 Paciorek batted .312 with 11 HR and 55 RBI in 104 games. 
  • Tom batted .307 with 9 HR and 63 RBI in 1983. Paciorek went 4 for 16 (.250) in four games in the 1983 ALCS.
  • In 1984 Paciorek batted .256 in 111 games. Tom started the 1985 season with Chicago (.246 in 46 games) and was traded to the New  York Mets on July 16 for Dave Cochrane. Paciorek batted .284 in 46 games for the Mets in 1985 and was released after the season.
  • Paciorek signed with the Texas Rangers before the 1986 season. Tom batted .286 in 88 games in 1986. Paciorek batted.283 in 27 games in 1987. He became a free agent after the 1987 season but wasn't signed.
  • After his playing career Tom did color commentary for several ballclubs. His most famous announcing stint was his time with Ken Harrelson on Chicago White Sox broadcasts.