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.

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