Thursday, May 28, 2015

1973 Topps Rookie First Basemen: Enos Cabell, Pat Bourque, Gonzalo Marquez

After breaking "Rookie Stars" down by team from 1964-1972 (with a few exceptions), Topps returned to multi-team rookie cards in 1973. Another unique feature of the 1973 rookie cards was that the infielders were broken down by position. More often then not Topps would just designate the card as "Rookie Infielders". 


Enos Cabell is better known as Houston's 3rd baseman than a 1st baseman in Baltimore. He spent 7 1/2 of his 15 MLB seasons in an Astros "Tequila Sunrise" jersey. He is still affiliated with the Astros. He is listed on their page as "Special Assistant to the General Manager".

Cabell is also remembered as part of the infamous Pittsburgh Drug Trials. Unlike the steroid era hearings 2 decades later, these hearings were about cocaine. Cabell and 6 others were initially suspended for the 1986 season for allegedly being long-time users and for facilitating distribution of drugs to other players. The suspension was ultimately lifted in exchange for community service, donations to substance abuse charities and voluntary drug testing.  

As long as we're on the subject of drug use in baseball (of the non-performance-enhancing variety), I would be remiss if I didn't mention "No No: A Dockumentary". It is the story of Dock Ellis which includes interviews of several players including Enos Cabell. If you are geeky enough to have read this far into this post, I guaranty you will enjoy this film.

Back to Enos, he was a September call-up in 1972. Although he went 0-5 with the Orioles, Topps thought enough of him to give him top billing on this rookie card in 1973. However in 1974 he had no card at all. So for his Card That Never Was, the choice was easy. 


In an odd coincidence, Pat Bourque and the player to the right of him on this card, Gonzalo Marquez were traded for each other. Yup the Cubs and the A's traded left-handed, back-up first basemen for each other. Straight up, not part of some crazy 6 player trade with players to be named later or any other nonsense. The winner in that trade was Bourque. He ended up with a World Series ring.

In August of 1974 he would be traded to the Twins straight-up for another left-handed hitting back-up first baseman, Jim Holt. He was traded back to the A's at the end of the season for 2 minor leaguers. Unfortunately, Bourque never made the 1975 team and spent the next 4 seasons in the Mexican League.

For his Card That Never Was I considered making a 1974 Topps Traded card depicting him on the Twins but decided instead to make it a 1975 card. Bourque actually has a 1975 card showing him back on the A's. I just have to wonder, if he hadn't been traded back to the A's what would his 1975 card look like?  


Gonzalo Marquez made his MLB debut as Oakland was in the home stretch for the division title in 1972. During that stretch he was primarily used as a pinch hitter and batted .381. In the post-season Marquez really shined. He appeared in 8 games as a pinch hitter collecting 5 hits for a .625 batting average. By the time he was traded in 1973 his batting average for the A's was .240.  His numbers with the Cubs were even worse. He hit .224 for the remainder of the 1973 season. In 1974 he went 0 for 11 and spent most of the season in the minors.

His 1974 numbers didn't merit a 1975 card and Topps rightly didn't include him in that set. That being said, I found a nice photo of him and made a card for him anyway. It's what I do.


This card is slightly more interesting than I thought at first glance. Even so, it doesn't merit any more than a second glance, then put it back in the box. I give it a 3 and I kinda feel that was generous. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

1961 Topps Roland Sheldon

Rollie Sheldon pulled a fast one on the Yankees when they signed him. He told them he was 20 when, in fact, he was closer to 24. He had already served 4 years in the Air Force and done a semester at Texas A&M before he transferred to UConn where he was scouted by the Yankees.  When they offered him a contract, they told him he had to have his father sign it because they were under the impression that he was still a minor.

Once he donned the pinstripes, he had a pretty good rookie season. He went 11-5 with a 3.60 ERA. Unfortunately, he never repeated those numbers. He was sent back down to the minors for the 1963 season. He was dealt to the A's in 1965 where he compiled a 14-15 record. In 1966 he was part of a 6 player trade with Boston. He played his final MLB game in a Red Sox uniform in 1966. 

He kicked around the minors until 1970. His best chance for a comeback came with the expansion Seattle Pilots. Topps even gave him a card in 1969 showing him on the Pilots. But for his Card That Never Was, I gave him a 1967 Topps card depicting him on his final MLB team.


I wouldn't call this card a bust, nor would I call it an essential part of any set. I would just put it in a box and forget it. Final grade: 3.

Friday, May 15, 2015

1962 Topps Rookie Parade Infielders: Bernie Allen, Rich Rollins, Phil Linz, Joe Pepitone

The random number generator was kind to us this time. This card is from Topps' first series that included multi-player rookie cards. Not only that but it included some genuine All Stars. It also featured 2 players each from just 2 teams, the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees. 


Bernie Allen finished 3rd in the Rookie of the year voting in 1962 behind Tom Tresh and Buck Rodgers. He was also voted to the 1962 Topps Rookie All-Star Team, which meant that his sophomore card would get that cool trophy thing on it. After the end of the 1966 season the Twins would trade Allen to the Senators for closer Ron Kline. This would open up second base for a young rookie named Rod Carew.
After 5 seasons in Washington, Allen was traded to the Yankees. He was a utility infielder in New York in 1972 and most of 1973. In August 1973 he was purchased by the Expos. His final Topps card was in 1973. For his Card That Never Was, I created a 1974 Topps career-capper depicting him on his final team.


As I said earlier, this card included some genuine All Stars. Rich Rollins was the starting third baseman in the 1962 All Star game. He would play for the Twins until 1969 when the Pilots chose him in the expansion draft. In Seattle he was relegated to back up third baseman. Although he would follow the team to Milwaukee, he was cut early in the 1970 season. He was signed by the Indians and would finish the season and his career in Cleveland.

Rollins is another player for whom I had already made a Card That Never Was on my other blog. This one is from the 1963 Topps All Star series that never was:


Phil Linz is probably best known not for his baseball playing but his harmonica playing. For those of you that haven't read about "The Harmonica Incident" by reading "Ball Four" or many other accounts, I'll give a brief recap. 

While in Chicago a few players bought harmonicas. Linz while on the bus to O'Hare airport, opened his and started practicing. Using the pamphlet that came with the harmonica, he began playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb". Manager Yogi Berra yelled "Shove that harmonica up your ass!"  Linz, unable to hear above his own playing asked Mickey Mantle what Yogi said. Mantle replied "Play it louder."  Berra came at him, swatted the harmonica away, and hit Joe Pepitone in the knee.

Several sports journalists saw it as a sign that Yogi had lost control of the team. This despite all evidence to the contrary. Leading up to "the incident", the Yanks had just been swept in a 4 game series by the White Sox and were 4.5 games back in the A.L. They would go on a 40-13 run for the remainder of the season and win the pennant. Nonetheless, Yogi was fired after losing the World Series in 7 games.

Linz was traded traded to the Phillies after the 1965 season. He would finish his career in a Mets uniform at the end of the 1968 season. He only appeared as a Met on the 1968 Topps card that showed him in Yankee pinstripes and no cap. So here he is in all his Mets glory on a 1969 Topps Card That Never Was:


Joe Pepitone played in 3 All Star Games from 1963-1965. He was the AL's starting first baseman in 1963. He was also a 3 time Gold Glove winner. He spent 8 years on the Yankees before being traded to the Astros after the 1969 season for former Rookie of the Year, Curt Blefary.  Midway through the 1970 season he was purchased by the Cubs. He would play on the North Side until early in the 1973 season, when he was traded to the Braves for Andre Thornton. Atlanta released him just one month later. Pepitone went to Japan to finish the 1973 season. He played for the Yakult Atoms but in 49 plate appearances failed to hit his weight.

Once again, I had already created a Card That Never Was for Joe Pepitone on my other blog. This one was part of another All Star series that never was. Here is a 1964 Topps All Star Card That Never Was to commemorate Pepitone's only ASG start in 1963:


This card has the regional appeal of having 2 each player from both the Twins and the Yankees. In addition, there are genuine All Stars on this card, and all of the players had solid Major League careers. Even if it wasn't a high-number card from the 1962 set, I would still deem it "Binder Worthy", I give it a 7.

Friday, May 8, 2015

1964 Topps Colts Rookie Stars: Steve Hertz, Joe Hoerner

Steve Hertz was signed as an 18 year old by the Houston Colt .45s in 1963. He labored in the farm system from 1964-1969 but did come up for cup of coffee with the Colts in early 1964. Hertz remain involved with the sport well after his playing days were over. He managed at the high school level then junior college level in Miami amassing 778 JUCO victories. He even coached the Tel Aviv Lightning in the Israel Baseball League.

Impressive as all that is, the thing that fascinated me while researching Steve Hertz is that he had only 4 plate appearances in 5 games. He had 3 strikeouts, no hits, no walks, was not hit by a pitch, never stole a base, yet he scored twice. His first run came against the Cubs. He popped up to Lou Brock in left field. When Brock dropped the ball Hertz ended up on 2nd base. He scored on another error. Ernie Banks mishandled a Rusty Staub grounder to first base. His second run came as a pinch-runner against the Phillies. He filled in after Al Spangler drew a base on balls. A passed ball, 2 walks and a single later, Hertz was crossing the plate for the second and last time in his short career.

1964    19 HOU NL 5  4  4 2 0   0  0  0  3 .000   0   0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2015

Although his MLB career was anything but giant, I created this 1964 Topps Giant Card That Never Was to honor a player with some of the strangest MLB stats I have come across.


Joe Hoerner was originally signed by the White Sox in 1957 before being taken by the Colts in the 1961 minor league draft. He remained primarily a minor league pitcher with the exception of 1 game in 1963 and 7 in 1964 for Houston. The Cardinals picked him up via the Rule 5 Draft in 1966. He immediately assumed the role of closer, finishing 39 games and  earning 13 saves. He would help the Cardinals to the World Championship in 1967. In 1968 he would have his best year going 8-2 with a 1.47 ERA. He would also have 17 save, the 2nd most in the NL.

He was traded to the Phillies after the 1969 season as part of the infamous Curt Flood for Dick Allen trade in which Flood refused to report which ultimately led to free agency. He was the Phillies sole representative at the 1970 All Star game but never left the bull-pen. He continued pitching through the 1977 season with the Phillies, Braves, Royals, Rangers and Reds. He would finish his career with a record of 39-34 with 98 saves and an ERA of 2.99.

For his Card That Never Was I am going to re-use a 1969 Topps League Leader card I made for Cards That Never Were in recognition of his statistically best MLB season.


As usual, I found the stories behind these players more interesting than the card itself. But for that same reason I have to give it a 4 "Set Filler".

Friday, May 1, 2015

1969 Topps Dodgers Rookie Stars: Tom Hutton, Alan Foster

My last post featured a player that had appeared on 5 different multi-player rookie cards, Bill Davis. In this randomly selected post another player, Tom Hutton had appeared on multiple rookie cards, 1967, 1969 and 1972.

Hutton was also a subject of a card featured on my other blog. A few years,  I used an image of Tommy Hutton on the Minor League Player of the Year card. back when I was recreating the 1972 Topps award cards,

For the M.L.P.O.Y. I used the Most Valuable Players from the 3 different AAA leagues that were affiliated with MLB ballclubs. Tommy Hutton was the Pacific Coast League MVP in 1971 for the Dodgers affiliate Spokane Indians. The other MVPs were Bobby Grich of the Rochester Red Wings, the Orioles' affiliate in the International League, and Richie Scheinblum of the Denver Bears, the Senators' AAA team in the American Association.

Hutton spent a little time with the Dodgers in 1969 but most of the season he was playing in Spokane. With the Dodgers depth in the infield, Hutton wouldn't crack the Majors for good until he was traded to the Phillies after his minor league MVP season in 1971. Primarily a first baseman, he would play until 1981 with the Phillies, Blue Jays, and Expos. 

During his MLB career he was fairly well represented on cardboard, In addition to his 3 rookie cards, he had solo Topps cards from 1973-1981 he even had a Hostess, a Doruss and a Fleer card. So for Tommy Hutton's Card That Never Was, I am simply reposting the card that I made commemorating his Minor League MVP season:


Alan Foster was featured on the Sports Illustrated cover in March of 1968, touting him as one of the best rookies of 1968.  He shared the cover with the 1968 Rookie of the Year, Johnny Bench as well as Don Pepper, Mike Torrez, and Cisco Carlos.

Although 3 of them had rookie cards in 1968, Foster would have to wait until 1969 for Topps to put his face on cardboard. 

Don Pepper never did get a card at all. However, I did make this card of him. I did it at the request of a follower of my other blog, Cards That Never Were. The actual request was for 1968 Tigers cards, specifically asking for Jim Rooker among others. I decided to pair Rooker up with Pepper for this 1968 Rookie Card That Never Was.

Foster had a solid if not spectacular MLB career. He pitched from 1967-1976 with the Dodgers, Indians, Angels and Padres. He was 48-63 overall with an ERA of 3.74. Topps had cards of him in every set from 1969-1977. So for his Card That Never Was I decided to give him a card to compliment his Sports Illustrated Cover. Now all 5 rookies have 1968 Topps cards.

Rather than making another Dodgers Rookie card, I made this one a "Major League Rookie Stars" card and included Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox. His one and only Topps card from his playing days was actually in 1969 and came with the "Topps 1968 All-Star Rookie" designation. He only played at the Major League level for 2 years, 1968 and 1969, before his bad knees caught up with him.


For my final grade of this card, I have to give it a 4, "Set Filler". While neither player was a star at the Big-League level, both had long solid careers.