In 1963, Rogelio Alvarez was a recent acquisition of the Washington Senators and was expected to be the everyday first baseman. Unfortunately, Alvarez had returned to his home in Cuba during the off season. With tensions between the US and Cuba at their peak, Alvarez was unable to obtain an exit visa from Cuba, A process that had begun in February, took until May when a plea was made directly to Fidel Castro. During that time the Senators sent Alvarez transportation funds 3 different times which somehow "disappeared" in Cuba. The Senators, having traded away their 1962 first baseman Harry Bright for the rookie prospect, traded for Tigers back up first bagger, Bobo Osborne.
Rogelio Alvarez finally made it to the US in mid-May. Although he was expected to be the everyday first baseman for the Senators, he was returned to the Reds organization. He played until 1973 in the minors never making it back up to the big leagues.
Alvarez is often cited as the fist Cuban defector in baseball but his only trips to the big leagues came before his "defection". In honor of his first call up in 1960, I created this 1960 Topps Card That Never Was.
When this card was made, Dave Roberts was already a 10 year minor league veteran. In 1962 he hit .322 with 15 homers for the AAA Oklahoma City 89ers. He also hit .245 for the Colts in 16 games as a September call-up. He played his entire 1963 season back down in the minors before getting another chance with the Colts in 1964 then again with the Pirates in 1966. He finally achieved success in Japan. He averaged .275 from 1967-1973. He hit 40 homers in 1968 and over 20 homers 5 of his 7 seasons there. He retired at the age of 40.
His only Topps cards were this rookie card and a 1966 card of him on the Pirates. For his Card That Never Was, I created this 1964 card for him. It was the only season that he spent the majority in the Majors.
Bob Saverine made his MLB debut as a pinch runner in 1959. He scored the only run for the Orioles in a 6-1 loss to the White Sox. He was the youngest player in the AL that season at 18 years old and he wouldn't be called up again until 1962. After playing for the O's from 1962-1964 he was dealt to Houston for Don Larsen. He spent the entire 1965 season in the minors and was picked up by the Senators in 1966 rule 5 draft. He saw most of his action in Washington in 1966 and 1967 as a utility man.
In 1966 he went 0-12 in a double header against his former teammates as the Senators lost 2 close ones to the Orioles. Losing 5-6 in 14 innings in game 1 then losing 7-8 in game 2. For his Card That Never Was, I made a 1965 traded card of Bob and Don Larsen. This is actually a design that I've been playing around with for a while and I wanted an excuse to use it.
Tommy Harper was a well traveled MLB player. He came up with Cincinnati in 1962. Then trough trades, expansion drafts, franchise relocations, purchases and free agency move, landed in Cleveland, Seattle, Milwaukee, Boston, California, Oakland and Baltimore. He was the first batter ever for both the Pilots and the Brewers. He was the Brewers first representative in an All Star game. He led the AL in stolen bases for the Pilots in 1969 and the Red Sox in 1973.
I had already created 2 Cards That Never Were for my other blog here and here, The first is an All Star card commemorating his appearance in the 1970 All Star game as a pinch runner.
The second is also a Card That Never Was from 1970. This one is a stolen base leaders card. Topps didn't make leader cards for stolen bases until 1973.
Since my friend Warren said I'm a tough grader, I'm gonna go a little easier on this one. Tommy Harper alone makes this card worth it for me. But he is the only legit All Star on the card. The card does include Rogelio Alvaraz, the first MLB player to defect from Cuba and who's career was derailed due to political unrest. It also includes Dave L. Roberts who never made it in the US but was a star in Japan. This might be a swing too far in the other direction, but I'd put it in my binder. I give it a 7 - Binder Worthy.