Wednesday, August 24, 2016

1972 Topps Mets Rookie Stars: Buzz Capra, Leroy Stanton, Jon Matlack


The random number generator brings a card from one of my favorite sets. The 1972 set had an over-the-top 1970's vibe to it. It had great colors, great design and innovation  with the "In Action" and Traded cards. 1972 was the last time Topps would use team-based rookie stars until 1979. 

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A September call-up in 1971, Buzz Capra went 0-1 in 3 appearances and had an 8.44 ERA. That was enough to earn him a spot on this 1972 card. In 1972 and 1973 he split time between the Mets and their AAA team. In 1972 he was 3-2 with a 4.48 ERA with the big league club. In 1973 he was 2-7 with 4 saves and an ERA of 3.86. But Capra was with out a card in both the 1973 and 1974 sets.

In March of 1974 he was dealt to the Braves where he went on to have a career year.  He had a personal best 16-8 record and a League leading 2.28 ERA. He was selected to the All Star team but didn't see action. So for his Card That Never Was I gave him a 1974 Topps card of him on the Braves.  I toyed with making this a Traded card but since he technically was purchased not traded, I stuck with a regular issue card. 
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Although Leroy Stanton appears as a Met on this 1972 rookie card, he was actually included in the trade that sent Nolan Ryan to the Angels. Stanton, Ryan, Don Rose and Frank Estrada were dealt for six-time All Star shortstop Jim Fregosi. The Mets used him primarily as a third baseman because the shortstop position was already occupied by another All Star, Bud Harrelson

Fregosi never regained his All Star status and I forget whatever happened to Rose, Estrada and Nolan Ryan. But Stanton became the starting right fielder for the Angels from 1975-1975. He platooned in the outfield in 1976 when Bobby Bonds came to the Angels in a trade for Mickey Rivers.

In 1976 he was drafted by the expansion Seattle Mariners an in 1977 had a career season. He led the Marines in all three triple-crown categories with 27 homers, 90 RBIs and a .275 average. In 1978 he was used primarily as a DH and his numbers dropped significantly. He was released at the end of the season.

In 1979 he signed with the Hanshin Tigers and went back to playing the outfield. He hit a meager .225 for the Tigers and the following season found him in the Mexican League. He made one more attempt in 1981 to play for the Toronto Blue Jays but was cut before the start of the season.

For his Card That Never Was, I gave him a 1979 Topps style card of him on the Hanshin Tigers. There were no horizontal cards in that set, so I made the necessary modifications needed to fit the picture. I noticed a strange coincidence(?) when looking for a photo of Stanton, is that he is the 4th "gaijin" I noticed to wear #44 for the Tigers. I also came across photos of George Altman, Cecil Fielder and Randy Bass wearing that same number. 

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For Jon Matlack this card was his Rookie of the Year card but it was not his first Topps Rookie Stars card. He had previously appeared on this late series card from the 1971 set along with Rich Folkers and Ted Martinez
Matlack got his first big league start in the second game of a double header just before the All Star break. He pitched well, going seven innings and giving up two runs, both off the bat of Hall of Famer, Tony Perez. Perez got a solo homer in the 2nd to tie the game at 1-1. In the 7th he got an RBI single to put the Reds ahead 2-1. The Mets came back in the 8th with back to back RBI hits by Tommie Agee and Donn Clendenon. But Perez was not done. He hit a tree-run-homer off Tom Seaver, who made a rare relief appearance.
He ended up going 0-3 in six starts in the 1971 season. In 1972 he started out in the bullpen. After pitching six innings in relief, he was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Once earning a spot in the rotation he went 6-0 by the end of May with a 1.95 ERA. For the season he went 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA. He won the N.L. Rookie of the Year award getting 19 of the 24 votes. On my other blog I made cards of him as part of my Rookie of the Year series that paralleled Topps' 1975 MVP series.

Since he was also the 1975 Co-MVP of the All Star Game he was also a subject of my Horizontal Cards That Never Were. In this series I made horizontal action cards for Topps sets that didn't normally include horizontal cards. And the subject was always that year's All Star MVP.



 Up until I put these cards on the same page, I didn't realize that I had used the exact same photo for both cards. So for this blog, I took a  mulligan, and remade this Card That Never Was.


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This was an easy card to grade for me. I gave it a 7 for "Binder Worthy".  Because I collect Rookie of the Year cards, I literally have this card in a binder so this is the lowest grade I could possibly give it. All three players were solid major leagues and the fact that this technically not Jon Matlack's rookie card does not take anything away from it.



Friday, August 12, 2016

1980 Topps Expos Future Stars: Bernazard, Miller, Tamargo


Not a lot of household names on this rookie card. One player hadn't played at the big league level since 1978, Another would play his last MLB game in 1980, the year this rookie card was issued.

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Tony Bernazard was the only player on this card to play past the 1980 season. Primarily a second baseman, he played back-up second and short for the 1980 Expos. He became an everyday second baseman in 1981 when he was dealt to the White Sox. In the middle of their "Winning Ugly" season the Sox traded him straight up to the Mariners for another switch-hitting second baseman, Julio Cruz

After the '83 season, Seattle send Bernazard to the Indians where he played until 1987 when he was traded to Oakland. When the A's released him after the '87 season, he went to Osaka, Japan. He played for Nankai Hawks in 1988. In 1989 they moved to Fukuoka and became the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. Bernazard played there for the 1989 and 1990 seasons. In 1991 he had a short-lived MLB comeback with the Detroit Tigers before retiring.
For his Card That Never Was, I made this 1990 Topps style card of him on he Hawks. In case you can't make out that bad-ass helmet he is wearing. I included a close up of that beast.
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Randy Miller had been designated to the Minors after two brief call ups in 1977 and 1978. In 1977, with the Orioles he played a total of two thirds of an inning and gave up four runs, three of them earned on four hits. That gave him a 40.50 ERA. In 1978 with the Expos he worked seven innings surrendering eight earned runs. That dropped his career ERA down to a better but still brutal 12.91.

Since he was already out of the Majors by the time the 1980 rookie card was printed, I gave him a card for his 1978 season. I took the opportunity to recreate the 1978 rookie cards. Some collectors don't like the multi-team rookie cards and prefer the team-based rookie cards. So I made this 1978 Expos Rookie Stars Card That Never Was.  I went with the stacked look that Topps used in 1964, 1970 and 1971. I added a little color to make it fit into the 1978 style.  I teamed Miller up with another 1978 rookie from Montreal. Scott Sanderson went onto play 19 seasons in the bigs. In addition to the Expos, he played with the Cubs. A's, Yankees, Angels and White Sox. He was on the 1991 All Star team but didn't see any action.
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By the time John Tamargo appeared on the 1980 rookie card he had seen action in four MLB seasons on three teams. He played for the Cardinals in parts of the 1976, 77 and 78 seasons. In 1978 he was traded to the Giants where he saw action in the 1978 and 79 seasons and was included on this 1979 Giants Rookie Prospects card.

In 1979 he was traded to one of the toughest places for a back-up catcher to see action, Montreal. He played a total of 16 games in 1979 and '80 behind Hall of Fame catcher, Gary Carter. He was released in the spring of 1981. For his Card That Never Was, I gave him a solo card from the 1978 season showing him in his Cardinals uniform.
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By the time this card was issued, two of the three players had most if not all of their short MLB careers in the rear view mirror. Only Tony Bernazard still had a career after 1980. While he had several season as a regular in the starting line up, it was an unremarkable career. No awards or accolades, just a steady career that ended in Japan. I give it a 2.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

1975 Topps Rookie Infielders: Cubbage, DeCinces, Sanders, Trillo


It's been a while since my last post and the random number generator picked a 4-player rookie card. That means I will be making up for lost time with a nice long post. This one is from 1975 and features two future All-Stars.

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The first player on this card is Mike Cubbage. Cubbage was a versatile infielder who was drafted by the Washington Senators in 1971. He made his MLB debut in April of 1974, two years after the Senators became the Texas Rangers. After going hitless in his first fifteen at bats he was sent back down to the minors. In 1975 he fared a little better hitting .224 in 58 games.

In 1976 he was part of the trade that sent future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven to the Rangers. Texas bundled him with Roy Smalley, Jim Gideon, and Bill Singer in exchange for Blyleven and Danny Thompson.  Cubbage would spend 5 seasons in the Twin Cities used mostly as the third baseman.

In 1978 Cubbage performed one of the rarest feats in baseball, he hit for the cycle on this day 38 years ago. In his first at bat Cubbage drove a ball deep to right and was thrown out at third base. He was credited with a double. In his next at bat he hit a two run homer. The very next inning he had an infield single. In the bottom of the 7th he tripled with two men on to complete the cycle. In 1977 he nearly had a cycle, completing the tougher tasks but missing just a single.

For his Card That Never Was, I gave him this 1976 Topps Traded card despite the fact that the trade took place in June of 1976 well after Topps went to print.

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Doug DeCinces was drafted by the Orioles in 1970 and made his debut in 1973.  As a third baseman for a club that boasted one of the best ever in Brooks Robinson, it was 1976 before DeCinces became a regular in the Orioles lineup.  In 1982 he was dealt to the Angels for "Disco" Dan Ford in order to make room for another Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken Jr..

California got the better of that deal as DeCinces had a career year in 1982 with personal bests in Hits, Doubles, Triples, HRs RBIs and Batting Average. He earned a Silver Slugger award and was 3rd in AL MVP voting behind two Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Eddie Murray. In 1983 he made his only All Star appearance.

In September of 1987 he was released by the Angels and spent the final four games of 1987 in a Cardinals uniform. In 1988 he was signed by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. He played first base for the Swallows and hit .244 with 19 homers in a season that was cut short due to career ending back injuries. For his Card That Never Was, I made this 1988 Topps Style card of DeCinces playing for the Yakult Swallows.

 DeCinces actually had a card in the 1988 set that showed him as an Angel but had an O-Pee-Chee-esque "Now With Cardinals" stamped on the front of the card. Score and Sportsflics also showed him in a Angels uniform on their 1988 cards. Fleer was only card company to show DeCinces in a Cardinals uniform in 1988.
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This is not the Reggie Sanders most baseball fans are familiar with. This Reggie Sanders was originally drafted by the Kansas City A's in 1967. The other Reggie Sanders was born in 1967. This was not even this Reggies first rookie card. He also appeared in the 1974 Topps set along with Bill Madlock, Ron Cash and Jim Cox

1974 marked the only season in which Sanders played big league ball. Primarily a first baseman, Sanders hit .265 with double digit dingers as a minor leaguer every season from 1968-1978. Although the A's seemed to have a revolving door at first base in the late '60s and early '70s he was unable to make the jump to the bigs and was dealt to the Tigers in 1972. The tigers had an aray of aging sluggers that rotated in and out of the first base position; Norm Cash, Al Kaline and Bill Freehan to name a few. So the opportunity wasn't there either. He was dealt to the Braves just prior to the 1975 season but again didn't make the big league squad.
Sanders played a few more years in the minor league systems of the Orioles and the White Sox and eventually finished in 1979 in the Mexican League in 1979. Although he never made it beyond the AA level for Oakland, I found this picture of a young Reggie Sanders and decided to team him up with that other Reggie for a 1968 Topps Rookie Card That Never Was. I know 1968 Reggie Jackson Cards That Never Were have been done to death but the temptation of an all-Reggie rookie card was too much for me to resist.  

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Manny Trillo will alway represent the changing of the guard in Wrigleyville. He was brought to Chicago as part of a trade for Hall of Famer Billy Williams. He filled the hole left by  All Star second baseman Glenn Beckert who was traded to the Padres the year before.


Like card-mate Reggie Sanders, Trillo also had his first rookie card in the previous Topps set. In the 1975 card he is pictured airbrushed into a Cubs uniform. In the '74 Rookie Shorstops he was pictured in an non- A's uniform. He shares the card with Dave Chalk, John Gamble and Pete Mackanin

Trillo played on seven different teams in his MLB career; The A's, Cubs, Phillies, Indians, Expos, Giants and Reds. His ever changing team uniforms are well documented on cardboard. But the 1984 Fleer set seems to depict this better than any other set. He has a regular issue card showing him in an Expos uniform. He also has a "Super Star Special" card celebrating the fact that he played consecutive years as an All Star for different leagues. That card shows him in an Indians uniform and a Phillies uniform. Finally he has an Update card showing him in a Giants uniform.



Even Topps had him on three different teams in 1984. A regular issue Expos card, an Indians All Star Glossy Card, and a Giants Traded card. So what kind of card do you make for a player who seems to have a card for every facet of his career?  Maybe something that would've fallen into your bowl of Froot Loops while watching Hong Kong Phooey.  To coincide with his first All Star appearance here is a 1977 Kellogg's Manny Trillo Card That Never Was.

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Although this rookie card contained two future all stars, for Manny Trillo it was actually his second card.  Ironically, it was also the second card of one-year-wonder, Reggie Sanders. And although Sanders never made it back to the bigs after 1974, you have to hand it to Topps. All four players on this card were solid prospects.

As for the Grade, I am tempted to give it a 5 for "Trade Bait" but only to people with poor math skills.  I see this card occasionally  mixed in with card for the other Reggie Sanders (I'm looking at you COMC.com). Seeing as that Reggie was still playing in 2007 that would be a 33 year big league career. (Move over Minnie Minoso).  So if honesty prevails, I give it a 4 for "Set Filler".


Saturday, July 2, 2016

1961 Topps Jim Woods


This was Jim Woods' first Topps card but it is not his first card by a major card company. His first card was a Leaf card.  In 1960 Leaf put out a set of black and white baseball cards. Unlike Topps, Leaf included a marble with its cards instead of gum. The Leaf set was missing many of the big stars of the day. It was not widely distributed and the black and white format just could not compete with Topps. The Leaf name would not appear on baseball cards until 1985 as the Canadian version of Donruss.
Jim Woods made his MLB debut in 1957 for the Cubs. Just 10 days after his 18th birthday, manager Bob Scheffing put Woods in to pinch run for catcher, Gordon Massa. Wood was thrown out at home trying to score on a strikeout by pitcher Jim Brosnan. The next day Woods would get pinch running duty again for Massa. This time he would score the go-ahead run against the Cardinals on a single by Bob Will. In both games, Woods was used only as a pinch runner. He had no plate appearances and didn't play the field.  He was traded by the Cubs along with Al Dark and John Buzhardt for Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn. He played a total of 34 games for the Phillies in 1960 and 1961.  

For Topps, Jim Woods was one and done with this 1961 card, but I borrowed an idea from the 1975 Topps card of  Herb Washington. I made this 1957 Topps card of him on the Cubs for his Card That Never Was.  In Honor of his actual rookie debut, I designated his position as "Pinch Runner".

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 Jim graduated high school in 1957 from Lane Tech, a school that is walking distance to Wrigley Field on Addison. He ended up being used as a pinch runner for the Cubs in the final games of the 1957 season. The same season that he probably skipped school in order to catch the opening day game.

Overall he had an eight year minor league career with a couple tastes of the big leagues. But he was living the dream. Playing even briefly for the hometown team, he was also involved in a blockbuster trade. He even had a couple of baseball cards to immortalize his efforts. What more can a kid ask for? None the less, I can't grade this particular card any better than a 3 and put it back in its box.