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.

1 comment:

  1. Man, you're a tough grader. I love the NOT One Of The Games Greatest Moments card. Great idea.