Wednesday, August 24, 2016

1972 Topps Mets Rookie Stars: Buzz Capra, Leroy Stanton, Jon Matlack

The random number generator brings a card from one of my favorite sets. The 1972 set had an over-the-top 1970's vibe to it. It had great colors, great design and innovation  with the "In Action" and Traded cards. 1972 was the last time Topps would use team-based rookie stars until 1979. 


A September call-up in 1971, Buzz Capra went 0-1 in 3 appearances and had an 8.44 ERA. That was enough to earn him a spot on this 1972 card. In 1972 and 1973 he split time between the Mets and their AAA team. In 1972 he was 3-2 with a 4.48 ERA with the big league club. In 1973 he was 2-7 with 4 saves and an ERA of 3.86. But Capra was with out a card in both the 1973 and 1974 sets.

In March of 1974 he was dealt to the Braves where he went on to have a career year.  He had a personal best 16-8 record and a League leading 2.28 ERA. He was selected to the All Star team but didn't see action. So for his Card That Never Was I gave him a 1974 Topps card of him on the Braves.  I toyed with making this a Traded card but since he technically was purchased not traded, I stuck with a regular issue card. 

Although Leroy Stanton appears as a Met on this 1972 rookie card, he was actually included in the trade that sent Nolan Ryan to the Angels. Stanton, Ryan, Don Rose and Frank Estrada were dealt for six-time All Star shortstop Jim Fregosi. The Mets used him primarily as a third baseman because the shortstop position was already occupied by another All Star, Bud Harrelson

Fregosi never regained his All Star status and I forget whatever happened to Rose, Estrada and Nolan Ryan. But Stanton became the starting right fielder for the Angels from 1975-1975. He platooned in the outfield in 1976 when Bobby Bonds came to the Angels in a trade for Mickey Rivers.

In 1976 he was drafted by the expansion Seattle Mariners an in 1977 had a career season. He led the Marines in all three triple-crown categories with 27 homers, 90 RBIs and a .275 average. In 1978 he was used primarily as a DH and his numbers dropped significantly. He was released at the end of the season.

In 1979 he signed with the Hanshin Tigers and went back to playing the outfield. He hit a meager .225 for the Tigers and the following season found him in the Mexican League. He made one more attempt in 1981 to play for the Toronto Blue Jays but was cut before the start of the season.

For his Card That Never Was, I gave him a 1979 Topps style card of him on the Hanshin Tigers. There were no horizontal cards in that set, so I made the necessary modifications needed to fit the picture. I noticed a strange coincidence(?) when looking for a photo of Stanton, is that he is the 4th "gaijin" I noticed to wear #44 for the Tigers. I also came across photos of George Altman, Cecil Fielder and Randy Bass wearing that same number. 


For Jon Matlack this card was his Rookie of the Year card but it was not his first Topps Rookie Stars card. He had previously appeared on this late series card from the 1971 set along with Rich Folkers and Ted Martinez
Matlack got his first big league start in the second game of a double header just before the All Star break. He pitched well, going seven innings and giving up two runs, both off the bat of Hall of Famer, Tony Perez. Perez got a solo homer in the 2nd to tie the game at 1-1. In the 7th he got an RBI single to put the Reds ahead 2-1. The Mets came back in the 8th with back to back RBI hits by Tommie Agee and Donn Clendenon. But Perez was not done. He hit a tree-run-homer off Tom Seaver, who made a rare relief appearance.
He ended up going 0-3 in six starts in the 1971 season. In 1972 he started out in the bullpen. After pitching six innings in relief, he was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Once earning a spot in the rotation he went 6-0 by the end of May with a 1.95 ERA. For the season he went 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA. He won the N.L. Rookie of the Year award getting 19 of the 24 votes. On my other blog I made cards of him as part of my Rookie of the Year series that paralleled Topps' 1975 MVP series.

Since he was also the 1975 Co-MVP of the All Star Game he was also a subject of my Horizontal Cards That Never Were. In this series I made horizontal action cards for Topps sets that didn't normally include horizontal cards. And the subject was always that year's All Star MVP.

 Up until I put these cards on the same page, I didn't realize that I had used the exact same photo for both cards. So for this blog, I took a  mulligan, and remade this Card That Never Was.


This was an easy card to grade for me. I gave it a 7 for "Binder Worthy".  Because I collect Rookie of the Year cards, I literally have this card in a binder so this is the lowest grade I could possibly give it. All three players were solid major leagues and the fact that this technically not Jon Matlack's rookie card does not take anything away from it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

1980 Topps Expos Future Stars: Bernazard, Miller, Tamargo

Not a lot of household names on this rookie card. One player hadn't played at the big league level since 1978, Another would play his last MLB game in 1980, the year this rookie card was issued.


Tony Bernazard was the only player on this card to play past the 1980 season. Primarily a second baseman, he played back-up second and short for the 1980 Expos. He became an everyday second baseman in 1981 when he was dealt to the White Sox. In the middle of their "Winning Ugly" season the Sox traded him straight up to the Mariners for another switch-hitting second baseman, Julio Cruz

After the '83 season, Seattle send Bernazard to the Indians where he played until 1987 when he was traded to Oakland. When the A's released him after the '87 season, he went to Osaka, Japan. He played for Nankai Hawks in 1988. In 1989 they moved to Fukuoka and became the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. Bernazard played there for the 1989 and 1990 seasons. In 1991 he had a short-lived MLB comeback with the Detroit Tigers before retiring.
For his Card That Never Was, I made this 1990 Topps style card of him on he Hawks. In case you can't make out that bad-ass helmet he is wearing. I included a close up of that beast.
Randy Miller had been designated to the Minors after two brief call ups in 1977 and 1978. In 1977, with the Orioles he played a total of two thirds of an inning and gave up four runs, three of them earned on four hits. That gave him a 40.50 ERA. In 1978 with the Expos he worked seven innings surrendering eight earned runs. That dropped his career ERA down to a better but still brutal 12.91.

Since he was already out of the Majors by the time the 1980 rookie card was printed, I gave him a card for his 1978 season. I took the opportunity to recreate the 1978 rookie cards. Some collectors don't like the multi-team rookie cards and prefer the team-based rookie cards. So I made this 1978 Expos Rookie Stars Card That Never Was.  I went with the stacked look that Topps used in 1964, 1970 and 1971. I added a little color to make it fit into the 1978 style.  I teamed Miller up with another 1978 rookie from Montreal. Scott Sanderson went onto play 19 seasons in the bigs. In addition to the Expos, he played with the Cubs. A's, Yankees, Angels and White Sox. He was on the 1991 All Star team but didn't see any action.

By the time John Tamargo appeared on the 1980 rookie card he had seen action in four MLB seasons on three teams. He played for the Cardinals in parts of the 1976, 77 and 78 seasons. In 1978 he was traded to the Giants where he saw action in the 1978 and 79 seasons and was included on this 1979 Giants Rookie Prospects card.

In 1979 he was traded to one of the toughest places for a back-up catcher to see action, Montreal. He played a total of 16 games in 1979 and '80 behind Hall of Fame catcher, Gary Carter. He was released in the spring of 1981. For his Card That Never Was, I gave him a solo card from the 1978 season showing him in his Cardinals uniform.

By the time this card was issued, two of the three players had most if not all of their short MLB careers in the rear view mirror. Only Tony Bernazard still had a career after 1980. While he had several season as a regular in the starting line up, it was an unremarkable career. No awards or accolades, just a steady career that ended in Japan. I give it a 2.