Saturday, June 25, 2016

1965 Topps Red Sox Rookie Stars: Rico Petrocelli, Jerry Stephenson

After a few busy weeks, we are back with a rookie card from the 1965 Red Sox. Oddly both players made their debut in 1963. Both played in just one game. Then both spent the entire 1964 season in the minors.


When Rico Petrocelli returned to the big leagues in 1965 he was the opening day starting shortstop. He displaced Eddie Bressoud who represented the Red Sox in the 1964 All Star Game.  He hit a paltry .231 for the triple A Seattle Rainiers in 1964. But those numbers are misleading. Petrocelli was a top prospect and they were hoping he could become a switch hitter. Evidently, it didn't take. 

Petrocelli wasn't a Hall of Famer but he was a two time All Star and a fan favorite. His number 6 is retired by the Red Sox. Not in honor of him but rather Johnny PeskyBill Buckner also wore that number in the ill-fated 1986 World Series before that number was retired. Petrocelli was the starting shortstop for the American League in the 1967 and 1969 All Star Games. 

Topps didn't make All Star cards in 1967 (but I did, click here). Topps had a tendency to play fast and loose with the rules when it came to who appeared on the All Star cards in the '50s and '60s. I figured, since he was the starting shortstop in 1967 and 1969 and Topps had him on the 1970 All Star card, I should make this 1968 Topps All Star Card That Never Was for him.

Jerry Stephenson was a pitching prospect that was signed right after high school to a contract with the Boston Red Sox. It didn't hurt that his dad, Joe Stephenson was a former Major League catcher and coincidentally the scout for the Reds Sox that recruited him. In 1964 he was 6-4 for the Seattle Rainiers and led the Pacific Coast League with a 1.57 ERA. But he sustained an elbow injury that hampered his performance for the rest of his career. He played up until 1973 going back and forth to the minors. After he retired, he followed in his fathers footsteps and became a scout for the Red Sox.
Jerry had Topps cards from 1965-1969 on the Red Sox, then again in 1971 on the Dodgers. Since he was an original Pilot, his Card That Never Was is another 1969 Topps card. This time playing for Seattle.


This is a tough card to grade for me. I like this card. Rico Petrocelli was a Fenway hero, a solid performer until his retirement in 1976. It's not quite "binder worthy". It could be "trade bait" now that I know someone who collects all of the 1967 Red Sox. But I think this falls somewhere in between. I'll give it a 6 for "Guilty Pleasure" even though I don't feel guilty at all for liking this card. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

1960 Topps Deron Johnson

Another individual Rookie Star card from the random Number generator. I've come across quite a few players who have had multiple rookie cards but this is the first time I've had a player on three different single-player rookie cards.  Deron Johnson was part of Topps "Rookie Stars of 1959" set and also had a designated rookie card in the 1961 set. Topps even re-used the same photo. ALL. THREE. TIMES.

Although he was designated as a Yankees "Rookie Star" in 1959, 1960 and 1961, he never actually played for the Yankees until September of 1960.  Even then he played in just 19 games for New York in 1960 and 61 before being traded for veteran pitcher Bud Daley.

Johnson struggled in Kansas City spending most of 1962 in the minors. In 1963 he was purchased by the Reds and spent that year in the minors as well. In 1964 he returned to the big leagues and hit 21 homers for Cincinnati. In 1965 he led the league with 130 RBIs.  

He came into the league as a outfielder/third baseman but spent most of his years playing first base. In 1973 when the American League adopted the designated hitter, it seemed made for him. He played most of his final years from 1973-1976 playing DH for the A's, Brewers, White Sox and Red Sox.

Deron Johnson had Topps cards cards in nearly every year from 1959-1976. He didn't have a card in 1963 when he spent the entire season in the minors.  He was also missing a card in 1975. He spent most of the 1975 season with the White Sox as a DH and back up first baseman before being dealt to Boston in September. So I made this Card That Never Was to fill the void between his 1974 card with the A's and his 1976 card with the Red Sox.


Personally, I think that the three rookie cards using the exact same picture would look great on a page in a binder. But that is just me. For most it might not be "Binder Worthy" but I gotta give this card at least a 6 for "Guilty Pleasure".

Saturday, June 4, 2016

1962 Topps Lee Stange

In 1962 Topps had the multi-player "Rookie Parade" cards in the  7th and final series. But they still had several individual cards with the designated "1962 Rookie" star emblazoned on the front of the card. Most of these stars were yellow but there were a few that were white, like this one. Another inconsistency of the 1962 set that is shown on this card is the variations on the team name for the Twins. In some cases Minnesota Twins was spelled out in its entirety. in other cases it was abbreviated as Minn. Twins or as in this case Min. Twins. 
Originally signed by the Washington Senators, Lee Stange made his debut in 1961 with the relocated Minnesota Twins. He pitched for the Twins, Indians, and Sox both Red and White. He was used both as a starter and in relief over his 10 big league seasons. He was slightly better in the starting role than in relief. As a starter he was 47-44 with a 3.41 ERA, In relief he was 15-17 with 21 saves and an ERA of 3.87. After he retired he was employed as a pitching coach in the Red Sox, Twins and Athletics organizations.

In September of 1964 Stange became just the 10th Major League pitcher to strike out 4 batters in one inning.  He struck out Senators center fielder Don Lock, who advanced to first on a passed ball. He then struck out Willie Kirkland, Don Zimmer and John Kennedy. The 5th place Indians beat the 9th place Senators 9-0 in front of a crowd of 2,540.                                                                                                       Stange had Topps cards every year from 1962-1971 and even had a couple cards from his coaching career.  He appeared as a coach on the 1973 and 1974 Red Sox managers cards. For his Card That Never Was, I made a 1963 Fleer card for him. In 1963 Stange had a career high 12 victories.


While never an All-Star, Lee Stange had an overall winning record for his 10 year MLB career. He had 62 wins and 61 losses and an ERA of 3.56. Normally, I would grade this a 4, "Set Filler", but his status as an original Minnesota Twin bumps him (barely) to a 5, "Trade Bait".

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

1969 Topps Athletics Rookie Stars: George Lauzerique, Roberto Rodriguez

The ebb and flow of the random number generator has once again gone from a rookie card of a Hall of Famer to a couple of pitchers that have a total of 91 Major League appearances between them. And just look at this card. Topps wasn't even trying with their crappy air brushing on this one. Why didn't they just use a crayon to scribble out the K.C. logo on their caps?


George Lauzerique made his debut in 1967 for the Kansas City A's. He was the starting pitcher and gave up 3 runs in 7 innings. All 3 runs in the loss to the Angels came on a three run homer by Bobby Knoop. In all he played in 23 games for the A's from 1967-69 before being traded to the Pilots after the 1969 season. He was part of a 4 player trade the sent him and Ted Kubiak to Seattle for Ray Oyler and Diego Segui.

He never actually played for the Pilots. By the time the 1970 season started, the Pilots had become the Brewers.  But I found this nice shot of him in a Pilots uniform from the Topps Vault and absolutely needed to use it for his Card That Never Was. His only other Topps card was also a 1970 card. It had him still as a member of the Oakland A's.


For Roberto Rodriguez this 1969 Rookie Stars card was not his first card. He also appeared on this 1968 A's Rookie Stars card with Darrell Osteen. Both players were hatless on this card so we were spared the awful airbrushing but Osteen is still in his Reds uniform. Don't worry Topps, I'm sure nobody noticed. Must have been nice having no competition.

After rookie cards in 1968 and 1969, the next Topps card of Roberto Rodriguez was in 1971 in a Cubs uniform. Rodriguez played for three teams in 1970. He began the season with the A's. He then went to San Diego for about a month before being dealt to the Cubs. After the 1970 season he was back playing minor league ball until 1974.

For his Card That Never Was, I filled in the vacant spot in his portfolio with this 1970 Topps card of him on the team he began the 1970 season with.


I'm trying to find some redeeming quality to save this card from the spokes, but I'm coming up empty. The picture quality is poor. The airbrushing is atrocious. And ultimately, the players were not, by any definition, "Rookie Stars".  They were both solid minor league pitchers with winning records. Both players had brief major league careers. But the best I can say about this card is that it made your Schwinn Sting-Ray sound like a motorcycle. I give it a 1. Put it in your spokes.