Thursday, May 29, 2008

Canseco Plays in MABL

The Men's Adult Baseball League is a nationwide league that has over 50,000 players. The following photos are from Hardball Magazine, a publication of the MABL. Jose Canseco played in the league World Series Tournament.

Here is the box score of the game played on October 27, 2007.

Most of the players in the league were good high school or college players. To play with a former major league player like Canseco would be an awesome experience for these guys. If I had biceps like him, I would play without sleeves myself.

Bichette is playing in the league as well. He had a few good years in the majors. It is good to see these guys playing for the love of the game.

Monday, May 26, 2008

1974 Topps Countdown

The 1974 Topps set was released all at once, not in series like the sets that came before it. This set was loaded with various subsets such as Hank Aaron reprint cards, another traded series managers, league leaders, etc. A team autograph set was released later, but is not part of the numbered set. The photography remained pretty lame, but of course we collected anyway. Here is a sampling of the 1974 Topps set in the form of a top 10 list.

# 10 Ray Fosse
Fosse is probably best remembered for blocking the plate against Pete Rose in the all-star game. He was a solid catcher, and should have had a longer career. Notice his helmet without a bill. You don't see those anymore. The back of this card states that he is a real estate salesman in the off season.

# 9 Walt Williams

Walt "no neck" Williams looks like he would rather be doing something else than posing for this shot.

# 8 (tie) Woodie Fryman

Fryman appears to be set for a Greco-Roman wrestling match. He may be better off without his glove.

#8 (tie) Bill Singer

Singer shows fine form in his delivery follow through. One question though. Why is he still holding the ball?

# 7 Bob Moose

Bob pitched a no hitter against the Mets in 1969. He has not had a hair cut since then.

# 6 Billy Champion

Billy looks like a champion here. His career 17-39 record suggests otherwise.

#5 Marty Pattin
You have to include some of the classic air brush cards in any such list. Why not this one. It looks like Topps hired a 6th grade art student to do the work.

#4 Fernando Gonzalez

The Pirates traded Gonzalez to the Royals. Topps air brushed a blue ring around the collar of his jersey, making him look somewhat like a member of the Royals. Notice some of his former Pirate teammates in the background.

#3 Dick Sharon

Dick checks to make sure that his bat is straight before taking his cuts in the batting cage.

#2 Darold Knowles

Darold shows the opposing batter his grip on the ball, possibly alerting the batter to what pitch he is going to throw. The runner on second base could probably take a bigger lead off the bag, but does not appear to be too interested.

# 1 Dave Kingman

Kingman connects on another of his mammoth home runs. The blurry and out of focus fans in the background is kind of creepy. Notice the fan just to the right of Kingman's left elbow. I think it is a monkey.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

1973 Topps Countdown

The 1973 Topps set was the last to be released in consecutive series for a number of years. The set also featured the last cards of Willie Mays and Luis Aparicio as active players. The total number of cards in the set was trimmed to 660, a number that would remain for several years. A special career home run leader card, all-time leader cards, and 6 more boyhood flashback cards were also included. Suspect photography was rampant in this set. Here is my top 10 card countdown for the 1093 Topps set.

#10 Willie Davis

Davis worked part time as an actor on television. He probably wishes he was back on the set after this chin music from a Phillie pitcher.

# 9 Ed Brinkman

Brinkman's batting average was 0.224 after his 12th season in the majors. I am surprised it was that high with this batting stance. He must have been a good fielder to last so long.

# 8 Don Zimmer

A nice shot of the Zimmer enjoying his chaw of Redman. In fact, he has a wad in every picture I have ever seen of him.

# 7 (tie) Hank Aaron

Aaron is still the career home run king in my book. When this card came out, he was still 41 home runs short of Babe Ruth's career mark. At this point in his career, he was moved from the outfield to first base.

#7 (tie) Jim Breazeale

Jim was called up to the big leagues just as the Braves moved Aaron to first base. Tough luck for him, but if you have to ride the pine, it might as well be behind Hammerin Hank.

# 6 Bob Locker

The Cubs made Locker play without a number or his last name on the back of his jersey. It reminds me of the last guy picked for the little league team after all the real uniforms had been assigned.

# 5 Frank Duffy

This action shot looks like it was taken through a telescope. Either that or they decided to blacken the background for some reason. The runner was trying to take Duffy out on this play. It looks like Duffy fared better as the runner was left buns up and eating dirt.

# 4 Fred Norman

San Diego didn't draw many fans on this day. Plenty of good seats along the 3rd base line. That is a shame because they had some sweet uniforms back then. I'd say the best until the 1978 Astros.

#3 John Ellis

John is definitely upset about this umpire's call. Or is he mad that the Indians made him play without a hat and in some cheesy practise jersey? His card lists him as a catcher, but he was playing first base on this day. I think the cameo head shot of the A's player is a nice touch as well.

#2 John Hilton Rookie Card

Hilton was selected by the Padres in the first round of the 1971 draft. He lasted 4 seasons in the major leagues compiling a career 0.213 batting average. He amassed 6 home runs during this span. Too bad he had to share this card with two other guys, but that is how Topps rolled back then.

#1 Pat Corrales

I never saw Javy Lopez block the plate like this. This was a violent collision judging by the grimace on the catcher's face. Notice that he is still clutching the ball.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

1972 Topps Countdown

Topps increased the number of cards in the 1972 set to an unheard of 787 cards. The cards are bright and colorful. The cards do not include the players position on the front of the card. The live action game photos are limited to the "In Action" cards that feature some of the star players of the day. Topps also introduced "Boyhood Photos", Award Trophy Cards, and some "Traded" players at the end of the set. The set was again issued in series, and I was still not aware of the scarcity of the last series. Our local ice cream truck sold the cards, and we would buy a pack or two every time he would come around. We would get our ice cream and open the cards while we ate. These are great memories. Unfortunately, many of my cards from this set have melted ice cream stains on them. Here is my top 10 countdown for 1972 Topps.

#10 Ron Swoboda

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Who knows what he was looking at. This pose was popular in the set, with at least 20 cards featuring it. It is a nice shot if you want to see Swoboda's nose hairs.

# 9 (tie) Pat Dobson

Dobson was a member of the Orioles dominant pitching staff of the early 70's. He got up early after a long night of partying for this photo.

#9 (tie) Gary Sutherland

A classic card of the Expo slugger. Gary's other hobby is listed as ice skating. My brother decided he would look better with a blue beard. His art work has significantly reduced the value of the card.

# 8 Lowell Palmer

Palmer was traded by the Phillies to the White Sox. With the change of scenery, he also decided to change his shades. I personally prefer his old pair.

# 7 (tie) Milt Wilcox

There were numerous cards where they air brushed team logos onto the players caps. Here, they air brushed the entire bill of his cap. At least I assume that is a cap on his head.

#7 (tie) Jim Grant

Check out the lamb chops on this guy. Now those are some serious sideburns.

#6 Richie Zisk Rookie Card

The Pirates failed to realize the potential of Zisk. Imagine the outfield they would have had with him in the line up. Zisk would later have an all star year for the White Sox.

# 5 Jim Fregosi

Fregosi earned 11 varsity letters in baseball, football, basketball, and track during his high school days in San Mateo. He still found the time to become an accomplished accordion player as well.

#4 Billy Cowan

All good angels have a halo over their head, and Billy is no exception.

#3 Pat Corrales In Action

Corrales is certainly in action alright. I'm just not exactly sure what is going on here.

#2 Billy Martin

Notice the skipper's left hand on the bat, he is shooting a bird to the photographer. He is giving us the bird too. You can get away with that in Detroit, but try that in New York and it will get you fired.

#1 Joe Morgan Traded

Morgan led the Astros in home runs with 13, and was one of the fastest men in baseball. Houston traded him to the Reds, helping Cincinnati form the Big Red Machine.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

1971 Topps Countdown

The 1971 Topps set is the first set that I ever tried to complete. There were four of us that would walk down to the corner store and buy a few packs each. I remember they also had a jumbo pack that went for around 15 cents. There were 25-30 cards in the box, and each box had a Topps coin. I amassed over 200 cards from this set that summer. Topps used to release the cards in different series. I ended up with cards from the first couple of series. As summer drew to a close, and with fall approaching, our interests turned toward the football cards that were now on the shelves. If I only would have known, I would have stocked up on the high number series back then. The 1971 Topps set is one of my all time favorites, mainly for sentimental reasons. I like that Topps introduced photos with live action shots. I remember staring at these for hours. Well, enough reminiscing, here is my Top 10 Countdown for 1971 Topps.

#10 Johnny Jeter

Before there was Derek Jeter, there was Johnny Jeter. I am guessing that he didn't wear that helmet in the games. It looks like one that we used to buy from the Toys R Us store. It appears that it is about three sizes too small, but that could be due to the fact that he is wearing his cap underneath.

# 9 Don O'Riley

Nice air brush job with the White Sox cap. Topps would continue this trend in later years.

# 8 Lowell Palmer

What's the deal with this guy. Those are the same shades he wore on his previous year card. I wonder if he sported those cool rays in the games.

# 7 Curt Blefary

A great example of the live action shots in the 1971 set. Too bad his card depicts him striking out swinging against the A's.

# 6 Darold Knowles

Knowles had one of the best pick off moves of his generation. In 1970 he was either hit or miss. He was one of the top relief pitchers in the league with 27 saves and a 2.04 ERA. Most of those saves were for multiple inning outings, unlike the one inning closer of today. His won loss record for the year was 2-14, go figure.

# 5 Cubs Team Card

I always wondered why so many of the Cubs team cards only showed head shots of the players instead of the traditional team photo. Does anybody know the reason? It may have been that the Cubs management was just too cheap to do a team photo.

#4 Dick Bosman

I like the way he dotted the "i" in his name with a star. Heck, he was a star. He led the AL in ERA in 1969 with a 2.19 mark.

#3 Willie Stargell

One of the great sluggers of the day. The Pirates had enough sense to keep him on the team, unlike their blunder with Freddie Patek. A great shot of young Willie in his days as an outfielder. Pops was later moved to first base where he was the leader of their world series winning team.

#2 Vida Blue

Blue took the league by storm in 1970, highlighted by his masterful no-hitter against the Twins. I really like this classic pose. A fitting gesture of the times. Peace to you too, brother.

# 1 Bud Harrelson

This card made me dream of one day reaching the big leagues. I still have that dream, but I am afraid that my time is running out. Notice Nolan Ryan making the out call on the would be base stealer, beating the ump to the call.

Friday, May 9, 2008

1970 Topps Countdown

# 10 Dave Johnson

Showing perfect double play turning form, Dave hands the ball to an unseen recip

# 9 Roberto Pena

Padre infielder Pena is getting some serious thinking done. It looks like San Diego had their spring training facility behind a nuclear power plant.

# 8 Freddie Patek

I can't believe the Pirates let him go. Patek was a mainstay with the great Royal teams of the late 70's. The Pirates could have dominated the 70's with him in their infield.

# 7 Lowell Palmer

This guy is so cool, he has to wear shades.

# 6 Larry Haney

Notice the name on the webbing of the mitt, Tenace. This guy doesn't even have his own mitt so he had to borrow one from Gene Tenace.

# 5 Thurman Munson

I love this rookie card of the former Yankee backstop. I still remember when my friend Danny called when Munson's plane went down. I thought he was joking at first. A real tragedy.

# 4 Cesar Tovar

Cesar would have really benefited from a cycle or two of Human Growth Hormone that the modern players enjoy. Look at the size of the hole in the web of his glove. That looks dangerous.

# 3 Jerry McNertney

Jerry has either just had some type of accident, or is really struggling to get his shin guards off.

# 2 Nolan Ryan

This is a great shot of a young Nolan Ryan in his 3rd year Topps card. This card appeared in the tough high number series. This guy was and is awesome.

# 1 Johnny Bench

This is one of the greatest cards Topps ever produced. Another high number issue that attracts a premium price.