Friday, July 17, 2015

1970 Topps Senators Rookie Stars: Jim Miles, Jan Dukes

Our random number generator brought us another card from 1970. This time it is #154, Senators Rookie Stars.

For Jim Miles, this would not be his first rookie card.  He was included on a high number multi-team rookie stars card in 1969. It would be his last card however. He was a September call-up in 1968. He pitched in 3 games for a total of 4.1 innings giving up 6 runs. His 1969 campaign wasn't much better. He threw in 10 games for a total of 20.1 innings giving up 14 runs.

 Although he would never return to the Majors, he remained in the Senator/Rangers organization through 1972. Since he already had one card that was issued after his MLB career was over, I went the other direction. For his Card That Never Was, I made a 1968 Topps card from his 1968 call-up.

Jan Dukes pitched a total of 20 innings over his short MLB career. He had short stints in 1969 and 1970 with the Senators and again in 1972 with the Rangers. This was Jan Dukes one and only baseball card. For his Card That Never Was, I made a 1971 Topps card for him.


Two pitchers accounting for a total of 2 cards in the Topps catalog. Both rookie cards. 44.2 innings between the 2 of them, 26 earned runs, 3 losses and zero wins. I think we can call this card a total bust. Put it in your spokes.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

1976 Topps Rookie Infielders: Craig Reynolds, Lamar Johnson, Johnnie LeMaster, Jerry Manuel

The random number generator picked the first 1976 rookie card for this blog. This one included an interesting cast of characters.


First we have Craig Reynolds in a Pirates uniform. He would appear again on a 1977 Topps rookie card as a Pirate even though he was traded to the expansion Seattle Mariners in December of 1976. He was selected to represent the Mariners in the 1978 All Star game. After the 1978 All Star game. After the 1978 season the Mariners would trade him to the Astros for pitcher Floyd Bannister. Reynolds would once again be selected to the All Star team and would spend the next 11 seasons in Houston. 
Although he already had a card in the 1977 Topps set, he was on a rookie card again and in the wrong uniform. So for his Card That Never Was, I gave him a do-over. This time he has his own card on the Mariners.


Lamar Johnson was drafted by the White Sox right out of high school in 1968. He wouldn't make his MLB debut until 1974. He played for the Sox most of his career splitting time between 1st base and DH. After the his production dipped in the 1981 season he was signed the Rangers. He was cut during 1983 spring training.

Johnson is best know for singing the National Anthem before game one of a double-header on June 19, 1977. He then went on to have 2 solo home runs and a double. These were the only hits the Sox had all game. It gave Wilbur Wood his first win since having his knee shattered by a Ron LeFlore line drive over a year earlier. The Sox beat the A's 2-1 in game 1 and beat them again 5-1 in game 2.

For his Card That Never Was, I went for a pre-rookie variation. He had actually played in parts of the 1974 and 1975 season for the White Sox, so I decided to put him on a 1975 Topps card.


Johnnie LeMaster was the Giants #1 pick in the 1973 draft. In 1975 he got his first big league at bat. After missing first 2 offerings by Hall of Famer Don Sutton, LeMaster lined the 3rd pitch up the middle. It took a wild bounce over the center fielder's head and LeMaster had a stand-up inside the park homer in his first MLB at bat.

He is best known for going into a game with the word "Boo" on his nameplate. He was getting boo'd a lot so his wife suggested he change his name to "Boo".  It only lasted half an inning before the general manager made him change into his official uniform and fined him $500. But it cemented his place in baseball lore.

For his Card That Never Was, I created this 1971 Topps Greatest Moments style card commemorating Boo's only at bat.


Jerry Manuel had only 2 cards during his playing days. This rookie card and a 1982 Fleer card of him on the Expos. Manuel played in 96 MLB games over 5 seasons with the Tigers, Expos and Padres. He is better known as the Manager of the White Sox from 1999-2003 and the Mets from 2008-2010. He was voted Manager of the Year in 2000 as he led the Sox to a 1st place finish in the Central division.

For his Card That Never Was, I made him a card commemorating his most productive MLB season. He had a career high 63 plate appearances and rode that "Mendoza Line" batting .200 exactly, also a career high. Here is a 1981 Topps card of Jerry Manuel.


I'm feeling a bit generous giving this a 4. Only Reynolds was ever in an All Star game, but Manuel became Manager of the Year. Johnson and LeMaster both had memorable games that make for good bar-stories. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good story.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

1971 Topps Angels Rookie Stars: Lloyd Allen, Winston Llenas

Lloyd Allen pitched in 12 games over the 1969 and 1970 season for the Angels. In 1971 he appeared to settle into his Major League role as the Angels closer. He saved 15 games and had a 2.49 ERA. Hampered by a hamstring injury in 1972, his ERA crept up to 3.48. When his ERA hit double digits in 1973 following a shoulder injury, he was dealt to the Rangers in a 5 player trade. He was 0-7 with 1 save and a 8.29 ERA before being placed on waivers in 1974. The White Sox gave him a shot in 1974-75 but his ERA was back up in the double digits again and he was sold to the Cardinals. Although he attempted comebacks with the Cardinals, Blue Jays and even the White Sox again, he never made it back to the show. In his final MLB appearance he started the game against the World Champion A's. He lasted only 2/3s of an inning giving up 3 runs including a 2 run Homer to Reggie Jackson. The final batter he faced was another Hall of Famer, Billy Williams who singled to right.

After this rookie card in 1971, Allen appeared on cards for the Angels in 1972 and 1973. In 1974 he was on a Rangers card. For his Card That Never Was, I put him  a 1975 card for the White Sox.

Winston Llenas was primarily a used as a pinch hitter by the Angels. In his MLB debut in 1968 he was 1-3 with a double. However in the first inning he committed a throwing error. Llenas' baseball playing  career stretched from 1961-1983. His MLB career, however, was relatively brief. He appeared in only 300 games stretched over 6 seasons. All were with the Angels. After his final MLB season in 1975 Winston played a season in Japan for the Taiheiyo Lions. In 1977 he played in the Mexican League and in 1978 became player-manager. He continued the dual role through 1983.

After hitting .339 with 20 homers for the Angels AAA team in 1970, I can understand  Lleans' inclusion in Topps' 1971 set. However the Angels saw things differently. The kept him down one more year. He hit .300 with 15 homers and despite his 33 errors at 3rd base, earned a spot on the Angels 1972 roster. Topps remained unconvinced, and Llenas wouldn't appear on another card until 1974. So for his Card That Never Was, I created this 1973 Topps card for him.


Neither of these players made much of an impact, but I wouldn't qualify either as a bust. Allen's career was hampered by injuries. Llenas was a solid hitting minor leaguer who was questionable at defense but had a long career in baseball none the less. Overall the card isn't good for much more than flipping. I give it a 2.