Monday, June 24, 2013


In general, I shy away from the backs of cards.  First, I’m sure I could do a whole other blog on them.  Second, my Topps Big Book of Baseball Cards doesn’t show them!

Needless to say, though, I have run across a couple of beauts over the years – ones that I just had to share.  I already showed you some of those from the 1950s.  So, here are some from the ‘60s and ‘70s …

Ooh, a little quiz! 

Oh, fer chrissakes!  Who’s gonna know this one?  I mean other than Mrs. Braun.  And possibly Mr. Braun – at least for the first couple of years of the marriage.

Steve Braun was up for 15 years in the 70s and 80s.  A starter for half that time, his subsequent longevity can be attributed to an ability to pinch hit.  He hit over 100 of them, and currently ranks 12th all time.

Another tough one, huh?  Let’s see …  Um, Steve Braun?  Mrs. Steve Braun?  No?  Man, this one is a lot harder than that last one.

Ron Reed was up for 19 years.  He played in three decades – the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  In those 19 years, Ron was both a pretty decent starter and a pretty decent reliever.  He is one of only 16 players to finish with 100 wins and 100 saves.  (How many others can you name?  See below for answers.)

I got it!  I got it!  It was Gene Conley.

Wow, what a weirdo.  This has got to be a ‘60s card.

Bill Faul sounds like a legitimate flake.  I was able to uncover several stories about him swallowing live frogs and biting the heads off of parakeets.  I also found one wear he reported to spring training wearing a cowboy hat and riding a bicycle.  (See his obit for all the stories.)

Hmm, I wonder why they didn’t put any of that on the back of his card though?

Back then, ballplayers pumped gas.  These days, ballplayers own oil companies. 

Ken McMullen was a pretty decent 3rd baseman.  Over 15 years, he got over 5000 at bats, 150 homers, and 600 RBIs.  Defensively, he led his league in eight categories, from basic stuff like putouts, to wild, Sabermetric stuff like total zone runs.

More Ken here and here.

So, is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Kind of reminds me of ol’ Hal Griggs.

Cisco Carlos, not to be confused with Carlos Cisco, got in four years with the Chisox and Senators in the late 60s.  In the one year he was part of the rotation for the White Sox, he went 4-14.  

His Wikipedia entry ends with the following:

“For more than 20 years, Carlos has been a kitchen professional.  He is currently the owner of Cabinets by Design in Phoenix, Arizona.”

The entry also includes the URL for the Cabinets by Design website.  Do you think Cisco actually made the entry himself?

And here's what Carlos looked right from the front side.

Way to go, Dave!  That’s definitely not something every 19-year-old can say (or 18-year-old, for that matter).

Dave was a genuine one-game wonder.  On June 12, 1964, he pitched one inning, gave up two hits and one earned run, and recorded one strikeout.

Answer:  Ron Reed, John Schmoltz, Hoyt Wilhelm, Dennis Eckersley, Tom Gordon, Rich Gossage, Rollie Fingers, Bob Stanley, Dave Giusti, Lindy McDaniel, Roy Face, Stu Miller, Ron Kline, Ellis Kinder, Firpo Marberry

Monday, June 17, 2013

Just Plain Weird: A '60s Miscellany

Hmm …  I’m looking through the past year’s posts, and I don’t seem to be able to find one on guys with big chins.  Guys with their flies open?  Nope.  How about guys with one arm?  Hmm, not that one either.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to put these ones in their own little grab bag then.  Enjoy!

Well, this looks pretty straightforward.  So, what’s the problem?

Well, as it just so happens, this is actually not Aurelio Rodriguez.  In fact, this is the batboy.  The two did a swap on a dare from Aurelio’s teammates.

Aurelio Rodriguez was up for 17 years, getting in over 2000 games.  He was known primarily for his defense.  He got a Gold Glove in 1976 (when Brooks Robinson was still around!), and was a ten-time league leader in defensive categories like putouts, assists, fielding percentage, and some weird Sabermetric stuff.

Sadly, Rodriguez died at the very young age of 52 when he was hit by a car that drove up on the sidewalk where he was walking.


Another case of mistaken identity. This is actually, not Dick Ellsworth, but Ken Hobbs. The two do look alike, but actually have different eye color.

Dick Ellsworth was up for 13 years, mostly with the Cubbies. He won 20 for them one year, and lost 20 for them in another. He was also an All Star one year, in 1964, though he finished the year with a losing record and led the league in hits, earned runs, and homers.

Ken Hubbs was Rookie of the Year in 1962, also earning a Gold Glove. He died only a couple of years later, in a plane crash, at age 22. 

So, what that means is that Hubbs' death was a couple of years before this Ellsworth card came out. In other words, somebody at Topps really screwed up.

Ah, the old hidden ball trick.

You’ve met Tommy John before, where he was a little off-center.   There, I made an argument for his inclusion in the Hall of Fame.

Here are a couple of other tidbits about Tommy:

  • He is the only person in MLB history to make three errors on one play
  • His kids are named Tommy, Tammy, Travis, and Taylor
  • He is a Sagamore of the Wabash (the highest honor the governor of Indiana can bestow)
  • He lives near me – in beautiful Charlotte, NC!

This guy, on the other hand, looks like he has just remembered - as he goes into his windup - that he has forgotten something rather important. Or perhaps he's just stretching.

You've met John Boozer before. I forgot to mention his stats on that post, though - honestly - there's really not all that much to write home about: seven years, 14-16 record, 4.09 ERA.

It’s a left to the kisser!  (Mike hated the press. Yup, even the guys from Topps.)

Mike McCormick is a three-decade player, coming up with the NY Giants in 1956, and bowing out with the KC Royals in 1971.  In those 16 years, Mike won an ERA title and a Cy Young Award.  He was also a two-time All Star (but, interestingly, not in his Cy Young year).


So, do you think the photographer did this on purpose?  I mean, that would be pretty darn clever, wouldn't it?  (Hint: look over to the left.)

Ray Sadecki's biggest claim to fame may very well be having been inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.  And I should know.  I was there!  I saw his jersey!!  (I also had some wonderful golabki, pierogis, and city chicken at Wawel, the restaurant attached to it and to the Polish-American Cultural Center, of which the Hall is a part.)


Carl “The Chin” Willey has been featured several times in this blog.  Elsewhere, I have made fun of his expression and his teeth.

Not sure what else there is to say about ol’ Carlton.  A couple of things I didn’t mention before:

  • Carl actually led the NL in shutouts in 1958 – as a rookie!
  • In his one World Series experience, he struck out two of three Yankees he faced
  • Upon retirement, he was a scout for the Phillies
  • He also worked as parole officer, managed a blueberry-freezing plant, and raised Christmas trees


You’ve heard of Pete Grey, right?  That was nuthin’.  Bill Henry here was a pitcher!

Bill “Gabby” Henry punctuated his 16 years in the bigs with two league “crowns”, appearances in ‘59 and oldest player in ‘68.  He also compiled 90 saves overall.

Bill also had the rather unique experience of reading his own obituary.  Turns out some other Bill Henry, of roughly the same age and appearance, passed himself off as our Bill.  When the counterfeit Bill died, the national press got ahold of that obit and ran with it – prompting our Bill to announce, in the spirit of Mark Twain, that the rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated.  Complete details right here.

Bob Uecker is having a little fun with you here. You may not be familiar enough with him, though, to realize that he's a rightie. Yup, he posed from the other side just for fun.

Now, we all know Bob from his work as a comedian. Ever wonder what his actual major league stats were? Well, it ain't pretty. I'm talking six years, four teams, 700 at bats, and a .200 average.

Look closely.  Yes, his fly is open.  Nope, he hasn’t a clue.

Claude “Frenchy” Raymond had a career very similar to Bill Henry’s.  Like Henry, Raymond was a decent reliever who managed to stick around for a few years and compile almost 100 saves.  No league “crowns” for Claude, but he was an All Star once. 

As far as I can tell, Raymond was not a victim of identity theft however.  Post-playing-day highlights for Claude including announcing Expos games (in French and English), coaching for them, and announcing baseball for the Atlanta Olympics (seulement en francais).


Well, I guess he did have a clue.  Another dare from the teammates?

* - author has this card

Monday, June 10, 2013


The Munsters – Season 1, Episode 29: "Herman the Rookie":

Herman is playing baseball in the park with Eddie when he hits a baseball so far it hits Leo Durocher, the manager of the Dodgers.  When Mr. Durocher finds out how far the ball park is, he wants to recruit whoever hit it.  He finds Herman and signs him up for the team.  Herman plays baseball in front of Mr. Durocher - convincing him that maybe he wouldn't be the greatest asset.

I remember it like it was yesterday (and isn’t too bad they didn’t have the DH way back then?). 

Funny, though.  I don’t remember any of the guys below as extras.  They just had to be there, though, right?  Right?

Not too bad.  The slight widow’s peak, the pointy ears, and the suggestion of evening dress, though, tell me that Andy is indeed one of the “creatures of the night.”

Andy Kosco was up for ten years, playing as a regular in two.  He hit 15 and 19 homers in those years, but could never get his batting average high enough, finishing with a career average of .236. 

It’s probably not too surprising that Andy became an insurance salesman when he retired.  But would you believe that the company he founded is called the Ghoulish-Kosco Insurance Agency?  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case. 

One of the undead?

Joe (“I’d like to buy a vowel”) Grzenda was a well-traveled reliever, playing for six teams over eight years.  Interestingly, he never made an error in those eight years.  He and Heath Bell are the only ones to ever do that (and Heath’s still playing).

Hey, wanna look up Joe's nostrils? Click right here.

Definitely a zombie.  Just look at that stare.

Gary Geiger was a light-hitting, rather sickly outfielder who played for 12 years, mostly for the Red Sox.  He was a starter for them for four of those years.

There’s a reason why Gary’s not smiling in this picture, by the way.  Poor guy had a complete set of false teeth by age 22.  I could only find one card, the 1961, where he’s smiling.

Very detailed bio right here.
* says nothing about Sammy’s nickname being “Lurch.”  I guess this is what happens, though, when you put a catcher in the infield.

You’ve met Sammy Taylor before, where he posed for a biscuit.

By the way, make sure you don’t confuse this Sammy Taylor with this Sammy Taylor:

Which, arguably, might be rather hard to do. 

To continue with our separated at birth theme …

One is a weird looking pitcher with a really goofy name.  The other is a famous movie vampire.  Jim Duffalo, meet Nosferatu:

Jim Duffalo pitched for five years, all but a half a season with the Giants.  Not a bad pitcher at all, he finished with a 3.39 and a record of 15-8.  Couldn't find any stats on Mr. Nosferatu, I'm afraid.

Kevin took out the bolts in his neck just for this picture.

Kevin Bell started off with a bang.  He was a first-round pick in 1976, and was the youngest players in the majors when he made his MLB debut that same year.

Apart from an inside-the-park grand slam, though, his subsequent career was a major disappointment.  He finished with a .222 average and only 13 homers in 700-some at bats.  It happens.

Thomas Vaultonburg of says this card scared him as a child.  His exact words were, “recoiled in fear.”  He also wonders how it was possible for Twitchell’s image to actually be captured on film.

Wayne Twitchell was up for ten years, mostly with the Phillies.  Bouncing between starting and relieving, the 6’ 6” pitcher had one great year, 1973, when he finished 13-9, came in third in ERA at 2.50, and was an All Star.  He’s in the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

Looks aside, it sounds like Twitchell was a great guy.  Here’s his obit from 2010, the year he succumbed to cancer at the age of 62.

Ohmigod, would you take a look at this guy!  He looks exactly like …  Wait a minute.  This is …  This is …

This is pure genius.  Thank you, whoever came up with this.

* - author has this card

Monday, June 3, 2013

Yo La Tengo

It’s a fairly natural baseball pose.  You’re playing in the field, and the opposing batter hits a fly ball your way.  You look up, you raise your glove, you wait for the ball to come down to you.  Seems like a natural for a baseball card too.

So, explain to me, please, why this pose is so open to interpretation.  We’ve got guys who look like they can barely tilt up their ball cap and guys who are jonesing for that Oscar in best supporting actor in an outfield role.  We’ve got zombies and we’ve got looks of genuine panic and concern.  How curious that such a seemingly innocuous pose could illustrate such a broad swath of the human experience.

Oh, the title?  It’s actually the name of one of my favorite bands.  And, yes, for those of you out there who speak Spanish, it does mean, ”I’ve got it.”  Complete explanation (and it does come from baseball) right here.

When things got boring in the outfield, Al liked to watch the contrails.


Poor, Jim, he went back for that can of corn and just froze solid.  They had to cart him off the field, just like that.


Lee looks like he’s seen an old friend up there.


“Whoa, dude, is that like a pop-up or something?”


Jim, that’s not a pop up!  That’s a line drive!  Pop ups don’t come at that angle.  You’re a third baseman, remember?


“Oh God, I knew they were going to hit the ball to me!  What do I do now?”

Wow, here’s the first guy who does what I always told my 9- and 10-year-old outfielders to do – drop step!

“It’s up there somewhere, I just know it is.”


“I’m sorry, boss.  We don’t have any other pictures of Mr. Yazzertrewsky.  What’s that?  He’s one of the best players in the majors?  Funny …  That was the only picture I could find of the guy.”

"Aw, come to papa.”

* - author has this card