Friday, June 19, 2015

1967 Topps White Sox Rookie Stars: Lee Elia, Dennis Higgins, Bill Voss

Lee Elia played a total of 95 big league games. 80 on the South side of Chicago in 1966 and 15 on the North side in 1968. He hit a meager .203 lifetime, yet he appeared on Topps cards in 1966, 67, 68 and 69. 

He likewise had a couple of short stints as a manager. He was the Cubs skipper in 1982 and the first part of the 1983 season. In 1987 he replaced John Felske as the Phillies manager 61 games into the season. In 1988 he was similarly dismissed just before the end of the season. Although his managerial career was just as dismal as his playing career, he still appeared on 3 more Topps. Oddly the only season he managed all 162 games was 1982 a year in which Topps didn't make manager's cards.

For Lee Elia's Card That Never Was I chose a 1982 Donruss design. Donruss was the only one of the big three that included manager cards at all in 1982, but they did not include one for the Cubs.

He had a record of 238-300 in parts of 4 seasons and never finished higher than 4th place in the division. He was best known for one of the greatest, profanity-laden rants ever recorded. A local DJ used to open his show every morning with the bleeped-version of this tirade. And every time I heard it, I couldn't help but laugh. Below I posted a YouTube video of his infamous rant. The publisher of this video even included his baseball cards, so I felt it was perfect for this site. Just a heads-up, this is not the bleeped version, it is loaded with F-bombs. Very NSFW.

In 1966 the White Sox pitching staff led the American League in ERA with a team ERA of 2.68. The next best were the Twins with 3.13. As a rookie on that staff, Dennis Higgins had a 2.52 ERA and struck out 86 batters over 93 innings, mostly in relief. After a 1967 season plagued with eye injuries he was dealt to the Senators in a six-player trade. During the 1969 season for the Senators, Higgins won a career high 10 games and had 19 saves. It was his 13th saves in 1968 that landed him on this Card That Never Was. I created this one for my other blog and have included it here:

Bill Voss was a September call-up in 1965. Although the outfielder had only 6 hits in 33 at bats one of them was a homer off Denny McLain. Voss spent most of 1966 and 1967 in the White Sox farm system. When he returned in 1968 he didn't even hit his weight but was given a second rookie card.

After the season he was dealt to the Angels. He fared better in California, hitting .255 over the next 2 seasons.  After being traded to the Brewers for the 1971 season he played on 3 different teams in 1972, the Milwaukee, Oakland and St. Louis. For his Card That Never Was I created a 1972 Topps Traded card of him with on the A's.

Although his career ended in a Cardinals uniform in 1972, he did appear on a 1973 card. It was the infamous Joe Rudi card that features 3 Oakland A's players, none of them Rudi. It shows Gene Tenace crossing the plate and being greeted by Voss and Marty Martinez  


Once again this card appeals to me for no good reason. It could be Voss's inclusion on an infamous card of my childhood. It could be the inexplicable fact that Topps put 3 players on this rookie card while the others from 1966 only had 2.  It could be because the Sox are my team. Who am I kidding? It is Elia's rant. To this day, it makes me smile. I give it a 6 for "Guilty Pleasure".

Saturday, June 13, 2015

1969 Topps Royals Rookie Stars: Steve Jones, Ellie Rodriguez

The 1969 Royals Rookie Stars card came with Ellie Rodriguez's name spelled 2 different ways. If you believe the price guides, the misspelled "Rodriquez" is worth 20 times the corrected version. The truth is the both cards seem to be priced similarly on eBay and COMC.

Steve Jones was a minor league veteran when the Royals selected him with the 10th pick in the 1968 expansion draft. He played minor league ball in the Twins, White Sox ans Senators organizations. He was called up by the Sox in late 1967. He played 11 games in 1967 for a record of 2-2. In February of 1968 he was dealt to the Senators in a 6 player trade. He pitched for the big league club in only 7 games but was 12-8 with their AAA team in Bufalo. He saw slightly more action for the expansion Royals but still split time with the farm team. 1969 would be his final MLB season and the only year in which Topps made a card for him. For his Card That Never Was, I put him on his own 1968 card. 

Ellie Rodriguez was the Yankees 3rd string catcher when he was taken with the Royals 13th pick in the expansion draft. He became the Royals opening day catcher and their sole representative at the 1969 All Star Game. He never got into the game. In 1970 he became back-up to Ed Kirkpatrick and after the season the Royals would trade him to the Brewers for another back-up catcher, Carl Taylor. Rodriguez would work his way back into the starting line up. He would again be the team's sole representative at the All Star Game. This time it would be for the Brewers in 1972, but once again he would never leave the bench. I had already made a Card That Never Was of Ellie Rodriguez for my other blog, click here. It seems appropriate to include it here as well.

And now for my grade. Steve Jones was a bust, while Ellie was a two-time All Star (well, sort of). Despite who was a bust or who was kinda good for a while, the card itself is unique because it is a rookie card from an expansion team and it has 2 versions. The error card with Rodriguez's name misspelled and the corrected card. Some sucker is gonna want it. I give it a 5 for "trade bait".