Friday, March 25, 2016

1966 Topps Athletics Rookie Stars: Paul Lindblad, Ron Stone

On this episode of Rating the Rookies we are looking at a 1966 Topps Rookie Stars card featuring Paul Lindblad and Ron Stone of the Kansas City Athletics. 


After 3 solid minor league seasons in A, AA, and AAA, Kansas City called up Paul Lindblad in September of 1965 and he never looked back. Initially a starter, Lindblad found a home in the bullpen. He pitched at the Major League level from 1965-1978. He was with the Kansas City A's which moved to Oakland. In 1971 he was dealt to the Washington Senators which moved to Texas. He was traded back to the A's then was signed again by the Rangers and eventually finished his career with the Yankees.

He was the Game 3 winner of the 1973 World Series.  He came in the 9th inning of a 2-2 game. When the A's went up 3-2 in the 11th, Rollie Fingers came in to close it out. He also was one of 4 pitcher to combine for a no-hitter in 1975. It was the final game of the 1975 season and the A's had long since clinched a playoff spot. Manager, Al Dark had his ace, Vida Blue on a short leash. Vida pitched 5 no-hit innings and got the hook. The Oakland bullpen followed up with a perfect 6th inning by Glenn Abbott, a perfect 7th by Lindblad and a perfect 8th and 9th by Fingers. The A's beat the last place Angels by a score of 5-0.

Paul Lindblad had Topps cards every year from 1966-1979 and represented every city he played in except Washington. His 1971 card showed him in Oakland and his 1972 card was an air-brushed Rangers card. So for his Card That Never Was, I created this 1971 card of him on the Senators. 

Ron Stone had a solid 1965 season hitting 16 homers and 67 RBIs playing for the Orioles minor league clubs. The A's took a chance on him and picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft. This required them to play him at the big league level or return him to Baltimore.  After 26 games and only 22 plate appearances, he was returned to the Orioles.
 He put together a few more solid seasons in the minors before being traded to the Phillies in 1969.  During this time Topps include him on 2 more Rookie Stars cards. One along with Frank Peters on the Orioles in 1968 and for the Phillies in 1969 with Bill Wilson. On both cards Topps used the same air-brushed image of him in an A's uniform.

He was picked up by the Phillies in 1969 for veteran catcher Clay Dalrymple. There he became a cautionary tale about reading too much into spring training performance.  He was labeled "Palm Tree Stone" by teammate, Larry Bowa. "He'd hit about .600 every spring then disappear on opening day. You didn't see him again until the next February."  

The Phillies used him mostly as a utility outfielder and pinch hitter. He played this role until 1972 when he spent July and August back in the minors. He was called up again in September but didn't get a single hit in 8 opportunities and began the 1973 back in the Phillies minor league system.  For his Card That Never Was, I created this 1973 Topps card to capture "Palm Tree" Stone's last spring training with the Phillies. 

This rookie card produced a solid relief pitcher who played in 2 World Series and pitched a perfect inning as part of a 4-man no-hitter. It also was the first (and only air-brush-free) of 3 rookie cards for "Palm Tree" Stone. While this is by no measure an essential card, I'm going to label it "Set Filler" and give it a 4.

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