Wednesday, December 13, 2017

no. 734 - rob gardner

Who is the man: Rob Gardner spent most of the 1970 season pitching for Triple A Syracuse in the Yankees' organization. Playing an hour away from his hometown of Binghamton, he put on a sterling display, going 16-5 with a 2.53 earned run average.

Can ya dig it: Gardner is wearing a Cubs uniform, which he had not worn since the 1967 season. This is an ooold photo.

Right on: This is Gardner's first Topps card since the 1968 set.

You see that cat Gardner is a bad mother: Gardner pitched 15 scoreless innings in his fifth major league appearance, a no-decision against Chris Short and the Phillies in 1965. The game between the Mets and Phillies was called a tie after 18 innings due to curfew.

Shut your mouth: Rob's first name is actually Richard. His mother called him "Robin" as a nickname but Gardner hated it, so it was shortened to "Rob" and stuck.

No one understands him but his woman: Gardner found out he was starting his first major league game from watching TV in his hotel room. He was called up from Buffalo and arrived too late to to go to the ballpark. He went to his hotel, switched the game on and saw on the scoreboard that he was starting the next day.

(A word about the back): That one victory that Gardner received for the Yankees in 1970 was his 20th victory of the season.

Monday, December 11, 2017

no. 733 - lee maye

Who is the man: Lee Maye played most of the 1970 season with the Senators. He was acquired off of waivers by the White Sox in September of that year.

Can ya dig it: This is subtle airbrushing compared with some of the other final-series airbrush jobs.

Right on: This is Maye's final card of his career.

You see that cat Maye is a bad mother: Maye's best season came in 1964 with the Braves when he led the National League in doubles with 44.

Shut your mouth: Maye also tried to hold down a singing career while playing baseball. His song "Half Way (Out of Love)" that came out in 1963 sold nearly 500,000 copies. Maye said he would go home from the ballpark and sing into a tape recorder. That's how he wrote songs.

No one understands him but his woman: Maye struggled to find a job in baseball after his playing career ended. He had several fights with teammates and disagreements with others in the game and he encountered racism as well.

(A word about the back): One of the more interesting write-ups in 1971 Topps, but I don't think Maye was actually a member of the Platters. He sang with friends of his, a few of which went on to become part of the Platters, the Penguins, and other singing groups.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

no. 732 - bob reed

Who is the man: Bob Reed enjoyed his longest stay in the major leagues in 1970, appearing in 16 games for the Tigers.

Can ya dig it: I love seeing wide expanses of green with the grandstand in the distance, as well as a vehicle and possibly palm trees.

Right on: Those giant "TV" numbers are so 1960s.

You see that cat Reed is a bad mother: Reed was a fourth-round selection by the Tigers in the very first major league draft in 1965. He was one of just nine players selected by the Tigers that year that made the majors.

Shut your mouth: This is Reed's only solo Topps card. He also appears on a two-player rookie prospects card in the 1970 set.

No one understands him but his woman: Reed was done pitching in the majors in 1970 and through with pro baseball period by 1972. There's not much else out there about him.

(A word about that back): That "Life" line truly is. That's the life of his major league career.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

no. 731 - jim qualls

Who is the man: Jim Qualls spent most of 1970 in the minors in the Cubs and Expos organizations. He was then traded to the Reds on March 31, 1971.

Can ya dig it: I'm certain that on a clear day you can spot this card from 10 miles away.

Right on: I just love this card for the ludicrously loud airbrushed cap. Yep, that's definitely a RED(s) hat!

You see that cat Qualls is a bad mother: Qualls is known in Mets history as the guy who broke up Tom Seaver's perfect game with a one-out single in the ninth inning in July, 1969.

Shut your mouth: Qualls said he received hate mail after breaking up Seaver's no-hitter -- from kids. "You could tell by the handwriting it was just kids, little Mets fans: 'You bum, don't show up in New York.'" Qualls said.

No one understands him but his woman: Qualls played two years in Japan after his major league career ended in 1972. He said he enjoyed playing there, but once when he was asked to play right field in Hiroshima, he said, "No way, not a white guy, not there. There were bottles coming out of the stands!'"

(A word about the back): The late trade has Topps all confused: "Jim is Expos' only switch-hitter." The bright red cap says otherwise.

Friday, December 1, 2017

no. 730 - jim rooker

Who is the man: Jim Rooker won 10 games in his second full season with the Royals in 1970. He was the only starter on the staff to reach double figures in wins.

Can ya dig it: The scoreboard is the star of the show on this card. I'm assuming that's a Coca-Cola sign.

Right on: Going through a pitching motion in the outfield with the warning track in the background isn't fooling anyone.

You see that cat Rooker is a bad mother: Rooker was a mainstay in the Pirates' starting rotations of the mid-1970s and one of the team's most consistent pitchers.

Shut your mouth: Rooker famously said, "if we don't win, I'll walk back to Pittsburgh," when he was broadcasting a Pirates game from Philadelphia in 1989. The Pirates scored 10 runs in the top of the first, prompting Rooker's statement in the bottom of the first. The Phillies wound up winning the game, 15-11. After the season, Rooker fulfilled his promise with a charity walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.

No one understands him but his woman: Rooker ran for political office twice. He lost both times.

(A word about the back): Rooker hit .201 for his career, but, by far, his best hitting seasons were the 1969 season mentioned (.281, 4 home runs) and the 1974 season (.305, 5 doubles, 2 triples).

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

no. 729 - dick billings

Who is the man: Dick Billings spent most of the 1970 season with Triple A Denver. His minor league season was such a success that he was called up in September for 11 games.

Can ya dig it: Those red helmets look so cool with the black-border design. I know I've mentioned this before, but it's all I think of when I see these Senators cards.

Right on: Dick signed his card "Rich Billings." I think he should've stayed with Rich.

You see that cat Billings is a bad mother: Billings was the catcher when the Rangers' Jim Bibby threw his no-hitter against the Oakland A's in 1973.

Shut your mouth: Billings was drafted in 1965 and made his major league debut in 1968 but didn't become a catcher until the 1969 season.

No one understands him but his woman: Billings batted clean-up in the Senators' final game in 1971. "That tells you how bad a team we had," Billings once said.

(A word about the back): Lifetime .181 batting average. These are the cards that we couldn't wait to get rid of as kids.

Monday, November 27, 2017

no. 728 - rookie stars n.l. outfielders

Who is the man: Bernie Williams made his first appearance in the majors in 1970, playing in seven games. Keith Lampard had the most time in the majors that year with 53 games. Wayne Redmond was in the minors in 1970.

Can ya dig it: This is a spin-off on the last rookie stars card, which was titled simply "outfielders." These guys didn't fare nearly as well as the players on the previous card.

Right on: Redmond is shown with the Phillies (and an airbrushed cap), but he never played for the Phillies. He was dealt from the Tigers in October of 1970 and then returned to the Tigers in early April, 1971.

You see these rookies are bad mothers: No. Not now, not ever.

Shut your mouth: Two of these three players were through with their major league careers when this card was issued. Only Williams would play in the majors again. That makes this card kind of an anti-prospect card.

No one understands him but his woman: Now that another Bernie Williams went on to a much more famous career, it's not easy to track down info on the earlier Bernie.

(A word about the back): Redmond is from Detroit, but he did play for the Angels' Triple A team in Honolulu in 1970, so maybe that's why Hawaii is listed as his home.