Saturday, November 30, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #30 - George Hendrick

  • George Hendrick started the 1978 season with the San Diego Padres and was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals on May 26 for pitcher Eric Rasmussen. George was unhappy about splitting time with Oscar Gamble. Hendrick was off to a slow start with the Padres but he picked up his offense once he went to St. Louis. George went on to be an important part of the St. Louis offense for several years. I've thought of Hendrick as more of an offensive player, but his fielding percentages and range factors were usually above league average.
  • Hendrick was known for not speaking to the press. He had the nickname "Silent George."
  • 1978 Stats: 
    • San Diego Padres: .243, 3 HR, 8 RBI in 36 games
    • St. Louis Cardinals: .288, 17 HR, 67 RBI in 102 games
    • Total: .278, 20 HR, 75 RBI in 138 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Friday, November 29, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #29 - Bob Lacey

  • The 6'5" pitcher Bob Lacey was drafted by the Oakland A's from Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Arizona in 1972. Bob was only 18 when he started in the A's system, so he must not have spent very much time at CAC. Lacey pitched in the minors from 1972-1976. 
  • Lacey started the 1977 season in AAA and got his chance with the A's in May as a relief pitcher. He pitched in 64 games and was 6-8 with 7 saves and had a 3.03 ERA.
  • Bob had a similar season in 1978. He led the AL with 74 appearances and went 8-9 with 5 saves and had an ERA of 3.01.
  • In 1979 Lacey had a reversal of fortune. He pitched in 42 games and went 1-5 with 4 saves and had a 5.85 ERA.
  • Lacey bounced back in 1980 with a 3-2 record with a 2.94 ERA and six saves in 47 games. He wasn't getting much use because of all the complete games the Oakland starters were throwing (94). Lacey got a start at the end of the season and pitched a shutout against the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • During spring training in 1981 Lacey irritated manager Billy Martin with repeated requests for more work. Bob wanted to be a starting pitcher as well. Martin ordered Lacey out of the clubhouse and a few days later the A's traded Bob to the San Diego Padres with a minor leaguer for Kevin Bell, Tony Phillips, and a minor leaguer. The Padres turned around and traded Lacey to the Cleveland Indians for Juan Bonilla. The Indians were hoping Bob would be a strong left handed reliever, but Lacey faltered and had a 7.59 ERA in 14 games. Lacey was sent to AAA in late August. In September Lacey was sold to the Texas Rangers. Bob made one appearance for the Rangers and allowed one run in one inning pitched.
  • Lacey was released by the Rangers during spring training in 1982. Bob spent the 1982 season pitching in the Mexican League.
  • Bob signed with the California Angels as a free agent in 1983. He pitched for AAA Edmonton until the major league rosters expanded to 40 players in September. Bob went 1-2 with a 5.19 ERA in eight September games for the Angels.
  • Lacey was cut by the Angels at the end of spring training in 1984. Bob signed with the San Francisco Giants in May and went to AAA Phoenix. Lacey was brought up in July and went 1-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 34 games (1 start). 
  • Bob didn't make the Giants club in 1985 and went to Phoenix. He was released in late June and then went to the independent Class A Miami Marlins to finish the season. Lacey retired after the 1985 season.
  • There isn't much known about Lacey after his major league career. Bob was the pitching coach for the independent Tri City Posse in 1996. He managed the independent Greenville Bluesmen in 1998 and in 1999. Bob pitched in four games for the club in both seasons.
  • 1978 Stats: 8-9, 5 saves, 3.01 ERA in 74 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
  • Other card blogs: 1979, 1980

Thursday, November 28, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #28 - Ed Ott

  • Ed Ott split time with Duffy Dyer at catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978. Ott started 92 games (usually against right-handed pitchers) behind the plate. Ed was below league average in fielding percentage (.975 compared to .985), but he improved his fielding in 1979 (.994).
  • 1978 Stats: .269, 9 HR, 38 RBI in 112 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 26 - Hit his first home run of the season in the 11th inning of a 0-0 game. It was Bert Blyleven's first victory in the National League.
    • July 16 - Appeared as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning of a 2-2 game. Ed doubled off of Rollie Fingers and came around to score the go ahead run on a single by John Milner. The Pirates won the game 3-2.
    • Aug 28 - Singled in Dave Parker with two out in the 12th inning to win the game and keep the Pirates' 9-game winning streak going. The Pirates beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #27 - Geoff Zahn

  • Geoff Zahn had seven seasons of double figure victory totals in his career. The Twins acquired Geoff in 1977 and made him a starter. Zahn didn't have a fastball but his variety of slow stuff served him well in the next four years and later with the California Angels.
  • Zahn had career bests in ERA (as a starter), innings pitched, and strikeouts in 1978.
  • 1978 Stats: 14-14, 3.03 ERA in 35 starts
  • 1978 Highlights:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #26 - Rich Hebner

  • This was Richie Hebner's last year as a member of the Phillies. Hebner was the regular first baseman, but would occasionally give way to Jose Cardenal against left-handed starting pitchers. He played 3B during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1968-1976), but when he came to the Phillies he had to move since they already had Mike Schmidt at third.
  • After the season the Phillies signed Pete Rose and Hebner was expendable. During spring training in 1979 Richie was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Nino Espinosa. 
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: .283, 17 HR, 71 RBI in 137 games
    • NL Championship Series: .111 (1 for 9) in 3 games
  • 1978 Highlights: 

Monday, November 25, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #25 - Jon Matlack

  • Jon Matlack was traded to the Texas Rangers in a big 4-team trade after the 1977 season. Jon bounced back from his off year in 1977, but it was his last big year as a pitcher. Matlack continued to pitch through the 1983 season, but he wasn't as successful after 1978.
  • Here is an interview Jon did in July 2013:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #24 - Don Money

  • This would be the last season in which Don Money would play in over 100 games. Money played all over the place, seeing action at all four infield positions and at DH. Don made the AL All Star team for the last time in his career - he started at second base and was 0 for 2. George Brett called Money's selection a farce because at the time Don hadn't played much second base all season. Money started the game due to an injury to Willie Randolph. Don was the #2 vote-getter at the position.
  • 1978 Stats: .293, 14 HR, 54 RBI in 137 games.
  • 1978 Highlights:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #23 - Bump Wills

  • Where did the name "Bump" come from? His name is actually Elliot Taylor Wills. Can someone shed some light on this?
  • Bump's offense was down from his 1977 rookie season, but he did steal 52 bases. Wills was batting .229 on September 1 but had a hot month to raise his average to .250.
  • 1978 Stats: .250, 9 HR, 57 RBI in 157 games.
  • 1978  Highlights:

Friday, November 22, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #22 - Charlie Hough

  • Charlie Hough had a good year as a reliever for the Dodgers. Charlie missed two weeks in April and early May. Hough struggled through the first two months of the season but he bounced back in June and had mostly good outings for the rest of the season.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: 5-5, 7 saves, 3.28 ERA in 55 games
    • NL Championship Series: 0-0, 4.50 ERA in 1 game
    • World Series: 0-0, 8.44 ERA in 2 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 3 - Made his first appearance in two weeks and allowed one run in 2.2 innings. Hough contributed a single and a double, a run scored, and a run batted in.
    • June 15 - Relieved starter Rick Rhoden in the 9th inning and preserved a 3-0 shutout of the New York Mets.
    • July 6 - Pitched a scoreless top of the 11th inning and then became the winning pitcher when Davey Lopes hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 11th. The Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 5-1. Hough had stayed awake the previous night waiting for his wife to give birth to their second child and then came to the park for a day game.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #21 - Steve Kemp

  • Steve Kemp was a pretty solid player for the Tigers in 1978. His numbers were very slightly down from his rookie 1977 season, but he would bounce back in 1979 to earn All Star honors.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • .277, 15 HR, 79 RBI in 159 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #20 - Pete Rose

  • Early in 1978 I can remember getting this card a lot. At first I had no idea why -- Pete Rose cards were traditionally cards that were highly sought after. Later I found out that this card was double printed. Rose cards were no longer "hard to get." That took the luster off of getting his card. 
  • Although the Reds didn't win the NL West, Pete had a lot of accomplishments in 1978. He got his 3000th hit early in the season and he also had the memorable 44 game hitting streak.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • .302, 7 HR, 52 RBI, 103 runs, 51 doubles (led the NL)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 5 - Got his 3000th career hit with a single in the 5th inning off of pitcher Steve Rogers of the  Montreal Expos.
    • July 5 - Was voted by the fans as the starting third baseman in the All Star Game. It was his seventh All Star start. Pete had one double in four at bats.
    • Aug 1 - Pete's 44 game hitting streak came to an end against the Atlanta Braves. Gene Garber struck Rose out in the 9th inning. Pete had four hits in the next game on August 2.
    • Dec 5 - Became baseball's highest paid player after agreeing to a five year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Pete would have made more money if he would have taken one of his other offers, but he took the Phillies $800,000/year deal.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #19 - Darrell Porter

  • Darrell Porter finished 10th in AL MVP voting in 1978. Porter made the AL All Star team - he was a pinch hitter and fouled out to end the game. Darrell started 141 games behind the plate in both 1978 and in 1979.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: .265, 18 HR, 78 RBI in 150 games
    • AL Championship Series: .357 (5 for 14), 3 RBI in 4 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 12 - Hit an inside the park home run to help the Royals to a 5-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
    • June 20 - Batted cleanup for the first time in 18 months and drove in two runs as the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2.
    • June 25 - Ejected from the game for charging the mound and throwing the first punch at pitcher Mike Lacey in a 6-3 Kansas City loss to the Oakland A's. There were some unkind words by both sides after the game.
    • Oct 4 - Had two hits and two RBI to help the Royals to a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees in game 2 of the AL Championship Series.

Monday, November 18, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #18 - Bob Grich

  • Bobby Grich still was hampered a bit by the back injury and surgery he had the previous year. Grich would bounce back in 1979 and have some good power years (including leading the league in HR in 1981).
  • 1978 Stats:
    •  .251, 6 HR, 42 RBI in 144 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #17 - Mike Krukow

  • Mike Krukow was used in relief during the first three weeks of the 1978 season. Mike was sent to AAA Wichita in early May and made 7 starts. Krukow was recalled in late June and after one relief appearance was a started for the rest of the season. Mike won his first four starts and had an excellent .750 winning percentage.
  • 1978 Stats: 
    • Chicago Cubs: 9-3, 3.90 ERA in 27 games (20 starts)
    • Wichita Aeros (AAA): 2-3, 3.91 ERA in 7 starts
  • 1978 Highlights:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #15 - Tony Perez

  • Although his batting average was higher than normal, Tony Perez started to show some slippage in 1978. Tony had the lowest home run total since he became a full time player in 1967. 
  • 1978 Stats:
    • .290, 14 HR, 78 RBI in 148 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Friday, November 15, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #14 - Lerrin LaGrow

  • Lerrin LaGrow was the closer for the White Sox in 1978. He didn't get as many save opportunities in 1978 as he did in the previous season.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • 6-5, 16 saves, 4.40 ERA in 52 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 11 - Came in with two men on and nobody out in the 9th inning and pitched out of the jam without allowing a run. The White Sox won the game 2-1.
    • June 15 - Pitched a scoreless 9th inning to save the game for starter Steve Stone. The White Sox beat the Texas Rangers 3-1. It was Chicago's 17th win in 19 games. 
    • July 7 - Was quoted as saying, "You can't change 25 men. So if you want to try something new you change the manager. Can Doby change 25 men? I guess we'll have to wait and see." Bob Lemon had just been replaced as manager of the White Sox by Larry Doby. The team didn't fare better -- Lemon was 34-40 and Doby was 37-50. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #13 - Art Howe

  • Art Howe was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates in June 1971. Art was 24 years old at the time and after a season in single A was moved up to AAA. Howe spent the 1972 and 1973 seasons in AAA. He started the 1974 season in AAA and was brought up to the majors in July. Art backed up at 3B and SS and batted .243 in 29 games.
  • Howe split the 1975 season between AAA and the Pirates (most of the time was spent in Pittsburgh). Art batted .171 in 63 games for the Pirates. After the 1975 season Howe was traded to the Houston Astros for Tommy Helms.
  • Howe started the 1976 season with the Astros but was sent to AAA in early June. He wasn't playing much in Houston and was batting only .083 after the first two months of the season. Art batted .355 in 74 games for AAA Memphis and was recalled in September. Howe ended up batting .138 in 21 games for the Astros in 1976.
  • After batting .338, .357, and .355 in the last three seasons in AAA, Howe had nothing more to prove at that level. Art started the 1977 season as a backup infielder and pinch hitter. In May Howe was given the starting 2B job and he stayed there for the majority of the season. Art batted .264 with 8 HR and 58 RBI in 125 games in 1977.
  • Howe started at 2B most of the time in 1978 as well. His season was interrupted by a couple of injuries, but he batted .293 with 7 HR and 55 RBI in 119 games.
  • In 1979 Art spent more time at 3B and didn't start as often. Howe batted .248 with 6 HR and 33 RBI in 118 games.
  • Howe was used mostly at 1B in 1980. He played every infield position and batted .283 with 10 HR and 46 RBI. In the one game playoff at the end of the season Art was 3 for 5 with a home run and 4 RBI as the Astros beat the LA Dodgers and claimed their first NL West title. In the NL Championship Series Art batted .200 (3 for 15) in five games.
  • In 1981 Howe was the starting third baseman for the Astros. Art batted .296 with 3 HR and 36 RBI in 103 games in the strike-shortened season. In the 1981 playoffs Howe batted .188 (3 for 16) in five games.
  • Art batted .238 with 5 HR and 38 RBI in 110 games in 1982. He split the season between 3B and 1B.
  • Howe had bone chips in his elbow and tendon problems in his ankle in 1983 and missed the entire season. Art was granted free agency after the 1983 season. He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals during spring training in 1984. Art batted .216 with 2 HR and 12 RBI in 89 games for the Cardinals in 1984.
  • Art started the 1985 season with the Cardinals but was released on April 22 after going 0 for 3 in four games. Howe became the hitting instructor for the Texas Rangers later in the season.
  • After the 1988 season Howe was hired to manage the Astros. Art managed the club from 1989-1993 and had three seasons of .500 or better. Howe was fired after the 1993 season.
  • Howe was a scout for the LA Dodgers in 1994 and coached with the Colorado Rockies in 1995. Art was hired to manage the Oakland Athletics after the 1995 season. Howe managed the A's from 1996-2002. The A's were a rebuilding club when Art first took over but they had two AL West titles and finished second twice in Art's last four years as manager.
  • Howe left the A's after the 2002 season and signed on to manage the New York Mets. He managed the Mets in 2003 and in 2004. Howe was fired in September 2004 but finished the season.
  • Art was the bench coach for the Texas Rangers in 2007 and in 2008.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • .293, 7 HR, 55 RBI in 119 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #12 - Don Aase

  • Don Aase actually pitched for the California Angels in 1978. Don was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Angels for 2B Jerry Remy after the 1977 season.
  • The 1978 season was Don's best as a starting pitcher. Don set a career high with 11 victories.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • 11-8, 4.03 ERA in 29 starts.
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 21 - Pitched his first complete game of the season as the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2. Don allowed the Twins' two runs in the first inning and then allowed only two baserunners for the remainder of the game.
    • July 13 - Shut out the Toronto Blue Jays on four hits. Don wasn't supposed to pitch, but Chris Knapp jumped the club due to a contract dispute and Aase got the start.
    • Aug 23 - Missed his start against the New York Yankees and was replaced by Knapp. Don was involved in an automobile accident before the game and although he wasn't injured, he was shaken up.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #11 - Rick Manning

  • Rick Manning bounced back from a 1977 season that was shortened by a back injury to reclaim the starting center field job for the Cleveland Indians. Manning had a typical "Rick Manning" year in 1978. His 1976 season was above his career norm and his 1977 season was below normal.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • .263, 3 HR, 50 RBI in 148 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Monday, November 11, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #10 - Phil Niekro

  • Here is Knucksie posing in Candlestick Park. The field had artificial turf from 1970-1978.
  • Phil had a good year in 1978. He led the NL in losses (18) and in home runs allowed (41), but he also led the league in innings pitched (334.1), starts (42), and complete games. Niekro won the first of his five Gold Glove awards and appeared in the All Star Game
  • 1978 Stats:
    • 19-18, 1 save, 2.88 ERA in 44 games (42 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #9 - Doug DeCinces

  • Doug DeCinces had one of his best power years in 1978. Doug hit 28 home runs and had 37 doubles. He had to deal with comparisons with his predecessor Brooks Robinson and although he wasn't as good defensively, Doug's defense was above league average.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • .286, 28 HR, 80 RBI in 142 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #8 - Mike Sadek

  • An exceptionally fine bunter? A highlight about a sacrifice from two seasons ago? Topps was really having to scrape to find something to say about Mr. Sadek.
  • If Topps had a stathead writing the card backs, perhaps the fact that Mike led NL catchers with a 44% caught stealing percentage in 1977 could have been highlighted instead. Mike only caught in 32 games in '77, but he's listed as the league leader in that category.
  • Mike was the backup catcher for the Giants for the first half of the 1978 season. Mike was injured and missed much of the second half of the season.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • .239, 2 HR, 9 RBI in 40 games (109 at bats)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 19 - Went 2 for 5 with two runs scored and three runs batted in as the Giants beat the LA Dodgers 10-7. Mike singled in Larry Herndon in the 7th inning to break a 7-7 tie.
    • June 18 - Scored the winning run in the 10th inning of San Francisco's 4-3 victory over the New York Mets.
    • July 19 - Suffered a broken jaw and lost a tooth after a home plate collision with the Chicago Cubs' Ivan DeJesus. Mike wouldn't return to action until September 15. He started four games behind the plate from Sept. 15 - Sept. 19 and went 0 for 11.

Friday, November 8, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #6 - Nolan Ryan '77 Record Breaker

  • Nolan Ryan just doesn't look right with the "70s hair" look. 
  • Ryan finished his career with 215 games of 10 or more strikeouts. He had 148 in the American League and 67 in the National League.
  • Randy Johnson has come the closest to breaking this record. Johnson had 114 10-strikeout games in the National League and 94 10-strikeout games in the American League (a total of 208).
  • Johnson struck out 10 or more in a game 23 times in 1999, 2000, and 2001. Ryan struck out 10 or more 23 times in 1973.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #4 - Brooks Robinson '77 Record Breaker

  • Here is one record that will be tough to break. Carl Yastrzemski tied the record in 1983, but he hung up his spikes and didn't break it. Derek Jeter is the active leader with 19 years with the New York Yankees (1995-2013).
  • It's a nice touch for Topps to do a "goodbye card" for Brooks in 1978. A similar thing was done for Al Kaline in 1975.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #5 - Pete Rose '77 Record Breaker

  • At this point in his career Pete was featured on record breaker cards often. My quick perusal of the cards shows Rose on record breaker cards in 1979, 1981, 1985, and 1986.
  • Since Rose is the all-time hit leader, he is also the all-time hit leader for switch hitters. The likelihood of anyone breaking this record is very minuscule. Here is a Sporcle game in which the player tries to guess the top ten all-time hit leaders for switch hitters. I didn't do very well.