Tuesday, December 31, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #55 - Mitchell Page

  • Mitchell Page was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973. He played in the minors from 1973-1976. Page had good stats but he never got brought up to the majors. 
  • During spring training in 1977 Page was included in the trade to the Oakland A's that brought Phil Garner to the Pirates. Mitchell was given an opportunity to play and made the most of it. He finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting and batted .307 with 21 home runs and 75 RBI in 145 games.
  • Page didn't do quite as well in 1978 but he still had a pretty good year, batting .285 with 17 HR and 70 RBI in 147 games. In his first two seasons Mitchell was the starting left fielder, but his defense was below average and he would spend the bulk of his time at DH for the rest of his career.
  • Mitchell was the main DH for the A's in 1979, but his production dropped off. Page batted .247 with 9 HR and 42 RBI in 133 games. Page had been suspended during spring training after expressing dissatisfaction with his salary.
  • The 1980 season was Page's last full season in the majors. His batting average dropped to .244, but Page hit 17 home runs and knocked in 51 runs in 110 games.
  • Page started the 1981 season with Oakland, but he was sent to AAA in early June (just before the strike). Mitchell played well in Tacoma and came back to the A's in September. Page ended up batting .141 in 34 games for Oakland in 1981.
  • In 1982 Mitchell started in Tacoma. He hit well there and was brought up to the A's in mid July. Page batted .256 with 4 HR and 7 RBI in 78 at bats for Oakland. 
  • Page stayed with the A's for the entire 1983 season in a pinch hitting and DH role. Mitchell batted .241 in 79 at bats.
  • Mitchell didn't make the Oakland club in 1984 and was released toward the end of spring training. Page signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent the next few months in AAA. Mitchell was recalled in August and went 4 for 12 (.333) as a pinch hitter. That was it for his major league career. Page played in AAA in 1985 and then called it quits.
  • After his playing career Page became a hitting instructor. He had some success with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he was let go after the 2004 season because of a drinking problem. Page straightened himself out and came back as a hitting coach with the Washington Nationals and then worked for the Cardinals in 2010.
  • Mitchell died at the age of 59 in Glendale, AZ in 2011. 
  • 1978 Stats: .285, 17 HR, 70 RBI in 147 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 26 - Went 4 for 6 with a home run and 3 RBI in Oakland's 9-8 12-inning victory over the Minnesota Twins. The home run was hit in the bottom of the 9th and sent the game into extra innings.
    • May 21 - Went 4 for 4 with a home run and 5 RBI as the A's beat the Chicago White Sox 8-0.
    • Sept 8 - Went 3 for 4 with a home run and 5 RBI in Oakland's 11-4 win over the Texas Rangers.

Monday, December 30, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #54 - Tom Johnson

  • During the first month or so of the 1978 season it looked like Tom Johnson was on his way to a pretty good year. He was 1-4 with 3 saves and had a 3.00 ERA in mid-May. Tom had a few rough outings and by early June his ERA was up to 5.14. Johnson went on the disabled list and made only two more appearances in September. Tom was released after the 1978 season and then underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff.
  • Johnson missed the entire 1979 season and then tried to come back with the Chicago White Sox in 1980. He had a 6.65 ERA in 15 starts in AAA and then called it quits.
  • Tom is now a Christian pastor. He and his wife have been living in Slovakia and running a ministry there for a few years. Here is a video about their work there

  • 1978 Stats: 1-4, 3 saves, 5.51 ERA in 18 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 15 - Pitched two scoreless innings and earned the win as the Twins beat the Seattle Mariners 6-5 in 11 innings.
    • May 16 - Allowed no runs in three innings and got the save (his last one) in Minnesota's 8-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. 
  • The Twins were really struggling to get fans to attend games in 1978. They averaged only about 9700 fans per game.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #53 - Phil Garner

  • Phil Garner split time between second base and third base for the Pirates in 1978. He started the season playing mainly at third and finished playing mainly at second. 
  • 1978 Stats: .261, 10 HR, 66 RBI in 154 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 21 - Scored both runs as the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1.
    • Sept 2 - Went 3 for 4 and scored the winning run in Pittsburgh's 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves
    • Sept 14 - Hit a grand slam in the 6th inning as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4.
    • Sept 15 - Hit a grand slam in the first inning to help the Pirates beat the Montreal Expos 6-1. It was the  first time in 77 years that a player hit a grand slam in consecutive games.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #52 - Jim Lonborg

  • This was Jim Lonborg's final season as a regular starting pitcher. Jim made only one start in August and two starts in September.
  • 1978 Stats: 8-10, 5.23 ERA in 22 starts
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 10 - Allowed one run and pitched a complete game in Philadelphia's 3-1 win over the Houston Astros
    • Sept 4 - Earned his final career victory as the Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-2. Jim allowed 2 runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Friday, December 27, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #51 - Charlie Moore

  • After being the regular catcher in 1977, Charlie Moore split time with Buck Martinez behind the plate in 1978. Moore was the better offensive player and was right at league average defensively, but his defense started to slip in 1979 and by 1982 Charlie was an outfielder.
  • 1978 Stats:.269, 5 HR, 31 RBI in 96 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • July 20 - Went 2 for 4 with a home run and 3 RBI to help the Brewers beat the Boston Red Sox 8-6.
    • Aug 16 - Had three hits and scored three runs as the Brewers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-1.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #50 - Rick Reuschel

  • Rick Reuschel was the ace of the Chicago Cubs in 1978. Rick was the only pitcher to win 10 or more games for the Cubs.
  • 1978 Stats: 14-15, 3.41 ERA in 35 starts
  • 1978 Highlights:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #48 - Don Baylor

  • Don Baylor's second year with the California Angels was a lot better than his first year. Baylor signed with the Angels as a free agent before the 1977 season and many fans gave him a hard time when he and the other big money free agents (Joe Rudi, Bob Grich) didn't meet expectations. Baylor set career highs in home runs and RBI in 1978 and finished seventh in AL MVP voting. Don would do even better in 1979 when he won the MVP and led the club to the AL West title.
  • 1978 Stats: .255, 34 HR, 99 RBI, 103 runs in 158 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 16 - Scored both California runs as the Angels beat the Oakland A's 2-1 in 11 innings.
    • May 7 - Went 4 for 4 with three runs scored and a three-run home run in California's 16-3 hammering of the Cleveland Indians.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #47 - Jack Billingham

  • During spring training in 1978 Jack Billingham was traded to the Detroit Tigers for two minor leaguers. Jack had a good year for the Tigers, winning 15 games in 30 starts. It was a good comeback from his off year in 1977.
  • 1978 Stats: 15-8, 3.88 ERA in 30 starts
  • 1978 Highlights: 

Monday, December 23, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #46 - Al Cowens

  • Al Cowens had a drop-off in 1978 after finishing second in AL MVP voting in 1977. Cowens missed a month of the season because of strained ligaments. The rest did Al some good. Cowens was batting .249 before the injury -- his hitting picked up after he came back in late July and he ended up at .274.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: .274, 5 HR, 63 RBI in 132 games
    • AL Championship Series: .133 (2 for 15) in 4 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • Apr 10 - Had two triples and knocked in three runs to lead the Royals to a 4-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
    • Aug 22 - Had three hits, including a 3-run home run, as the Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 6-3.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #350 - Steve Garvey (Happy Birthday Steve Garvey)


  • Today is Steve Garvey's 65th birthday. In honor of this, GCRL has a little contest going. One lucky winner (who has to do a Garvey post today) will receive a 1952 Topps card. I don't have any 1952 Topps cards, so I figured I'd jump in.
  • Steve had the fifth of eight straight All Star appearances in 1978. Garvey led the NL with 202 hits and was second to Dave Parker in MVP voting. Garvey also had an awesome NL Championship Series (he was the MVP). Steve started the 1978 season with a 21 game hitting streak and had at least one hit in every game in April.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular season: .316, 21 HR, 113 RBI in 162 games
    • NL Championship Series: .389 (7 for 18), 4 HR, 7 RBI in 4 games
    • World Series: .208 (6 for 25) in 6 games
  • Highlights:
    • April 9 - Had three hits, three runs scored, three RBI, and a home run in LA's 7-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.
    • Aug 8 - Homered twice and knocked in all three Dodger runs as the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 3-2.
    • Oct 4 - Went 3 for 5 with two home runs and three runs scored as the Dodgers beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-5 in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.

1978 Topps Baseball #45 - Mark Fidrych

  • Mark Fidrych started the 1978 season strong with wins in his first two starts. He made his third start of the season and came out of the game after four innings. Except for a rehab assignment with Class A Lakeland, that was it for Mark's 1978 season. 
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Lakeland Tigers (Class A): 1-1, 3.46 ERA in 4 starts
    • Detroit Tigers: 2-0, 2.45 ERA in 3 starts
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 7 - Pitched a complete game victory on opening day as the Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2.
    • April 12 - Pitched another complete game and got the win in Detroit's 3-2 win over the Texas Rangers.
    • April 17 - Made the start and allowed two runs in four innings. It was Mark's last game with the Tigers in 1978.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #44 - Toby Harrah

  • This was a down year for Toby Harrah. Harrah started the season at third base, but he moved to shortstop in August when Bert Campaneris was unable to keep his batting average above the Mendoza line. Toby also had offensive struggles and had his lowest batting average as a regular player.
  • After the 1978 season Harrah was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Buddy Bell.
  • 1978 Stats: .229, 12 HR, 59 RBI in 139 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 1 - Hit a grand slam in the Rangers' 10-7 win over the Minnesota Twins
    • July 13 - Went 3 for 5 with 2 HR, 3 runs scored, and 5 RBI as the Rangers beat the Boston Red Sox 12-7.

Friday, December 20, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #43 - Bill Atkinson

  • Bill Atkinson was signed by the Montreal Expos on his 17th birthday in 1971. The Canadian right hander was in the minors for the next four years. Bill was short for a pitcher (5'7", 165 pounds).
  • Bill pitched for the AAA Denver Bears in 1976. At the end of the season he was called up to the Expos and pitched five scoreless innings in four September games.
  • Atkinson spent the entire 1977 season with the Expos. He had a 7-2 record with 7 saves and had a 3.35 ERA in 55 appearances.
  • Bill started the 1978 season with Montreal. He was sent to Denver in late June after a groin injury and spent two months there as he recovered from his injury. Atkinson was recalled in September and finished the season with the Expos. Bill was 2-2 with 3 saves and had a 4.37 ERA in 29 games in Montreal and was 1-3\with 6 saves and had a 7.41 ERA in 23 games with Denver.
  • In 1979 Atkinson didn't make the Montreal club and was in Denver for most of the season. Bill was recalled in September and pitched well (2-0, 1 save, 1.98 ERA in 10 games) down the stretch as the Expos were in a pennant race with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • After the 1979 season Atkinson was purchased by the Chicago White Sox. He spent the next four seasons (1980-1983) in the minors but never made it back to the major leagues. Bill was a player-coach in 1982 and in 1983.
  • After his professional career Atkinson returned to Chatham, Ontario and pitched in senior baseball leagues until 1999.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Montreal Expos: 2-2, 3 saves, 4.37 ERA in 29 games
    • Denver Bears (AAA): 1-3, 6 saves, 7.41 ERA in 23 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 15 - Earned the victory by pitching three scoreless innings as the Expos beat the New York Mets 4-3 in 11 innings.
    • June 7 - Pitched three scoreless innings and got the save as the Expos beat the San Diego Padres 4-0.
    • Sept 4 - Made his first major league appearance since June 28 and earned the save in Montreal's 6-5, 10 inning victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Friday, December 13, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #42 - Jorge Orta

  • Jorge Orta was the starting second baseman for the Chicago White Sox for most of the 1978 season. Orta left a game in the 5th inning on September 1 and didn't play for the rest of the season.
  • Jorge was a good offensive second baseman, but he wasn't exactly known for good glovework. He had below average fielding percentages and range factors for most of his career. This was Orta's last year as a regular second baseman -- he was used a lot as a designated hitter in 1979 and later was moved to the outfield.
  • 1978 Stats: .274, 13 HR, 53 RBI
  • 1978 Highlights:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #41 - Burt Hooton

  • Burt Hooton had his best season in 1978. He won 19 games and finished second in NL Cy Young Award balloting.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: 19-10, 2.71 ERA in 32 starts
    • NL Championship Series: 0-0, 7.71 ERA in 1 start
    • World Series: 1-1, 6.48 ERA in 2 starts
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • Aug 6 - Pitched a four hitter as the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 5-1. The Dodger win knocked the Giants out of first place in the NL West.
    • Sept 12 - Shut out the Giants 8-0 in the Dodgers' final game of the season against their rivals. The Dodger win put them six games ahead of the Giants and 6 1/2 games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds with 17 games to play.
    • Oct 11 - Allowed three runs in six innings and earned the win as the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees 4-3 in game 2 of the World Series.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #40 - Carl Yastrzemski

  • Carl Yastrzemski had back problems and a bout with bronchitis during the 1978 season, but he still managed to play in 144 games. Carl was elected to start in the 1978 All Star Game, but he declined in order to rest his ailing back.
  • I like the little plaques that indicate the player was an All Star. They look better than the "banner" style that Topps sometimes used.
  • 1978 Stats: .277, 17 HR, 81 RBI in 144 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 14 - Went 3 for 5 with a run and two RBI in Boston's 6-2 win over the Minnesota Twins.
    • June 17 - Grounded a bases loaded single through a drawn in infield in the bottom of the 9th inning to win the game. The Red Sox came from behind to beat the Seattle Mariners 5-4.
    • Sept 6 - Hit a 2-run home run for the only runs in the game as the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 2-0.

Monday, December 9, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #39 - Floyd Bannister

  • Floyd Bannister was originally drafted by the Oakland A's in 1973. Bannister had led his high school (Kennedy High School in Washington) to the state championship by going 15-0 with a 0.00 ERA. Floyd decided to attend Arizona State University instead (an interesting article about the 1976 Sun Devils is here) and eventually was the first player chosen in the 1976 draft. Bannister spent only one season (1976) in the minor leagues before making the Houston staff in 1977. 
  • Bannister was 8-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) in his rookie season. 
  • Floyd had a tougher time of it in 1978. He was used as a fifth starter and a reliever for the first six weeks of the season. Bannister was in the starting rotation from mid-May until mid-July and then was a reliever for the rest of the year.
  • After the 1978 season Bannister was traded to the Seattle Mariners for shortstop Craig Reynolds. Floyd spent four season with the Mariners. He was 10-15 with a 4.05 ERA in 30 starts for the Mariners in 1979.
  • Bannister had a better year in 1980, although his W-L record didn't reflect it. Floyd was 9-13 with a 3.47 ERA in 32 starts.
  • In 1981 Floyd had his first .500 or better season. Bannister was 9-9 with a 4.45 ERA in 21 games (20 starts)
  • One of Floyd's best seasons was in 1982. Bannister made the AL All Star team (he pitched a scoreless 5th inning), led the league with 209 strikeouts, and went 12-13 with a 3.43 ERA in 35 starts. After the season Bannister became a free agent and signed with the Chicago White Sox.
  • Bannister had a better year in 1983. He had a 16-10 record with a 3.35 ERA in 34 starts as the White Sox won the AL West. Floyd started game 2 of the AL Championship series and took the loss as Chicago was shut out 4-0.
  • Floyd spent the next four seasons as a starting pitcher for the White Sox. He had records of:
    • 14-11, 4.83 ERA in 1984
    • 10-14, 4.87 ERA in 1985
    • 10-14, 3.54 ERA in 1986
    • 16-11, 3.58 ERA in 1987
  • After the 1987 season Bannister was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Greg Hibbard, Melido Perez, John Davis, and a minor leaguer.
  • In 1988 Floyd was 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 31 starts. 
  • Bannister's 1989 season was cut short by a rotator cuff injury in June. Floyd had shoulder surgery in late June and missed the rest of the season. Bannister ended up with a 4-1 record and a 4.66 ERA in 14 starts. 
  • Floyd was told after the season that the Royals would not pick up his option for 1990. Bannister ended up pitching for the Yakult Swallows in Japan in 1990.
  • Bannister signed with the California Angels for the 1991 season. Floyd was used as a reliever and had a tough time (0-0, 3.96 ERA in 13 games). He was sent to Class A Palm Springs in early August and was 0-3 with one save and had a 6.59 ERA in 7 games. Bannister was released on August 29.
  • Floyd was invited to spring training by the Texas Rangers in 1992. Bannister made the team and was mainly used as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. Floyd was 1-1 with a 6.32 ERA in 36 games. Bannister was released on August 13 and retired.
  • Here is a "where are they now" article from 2006.
  • Here is a video of Bannister talking about his time with the 1983 White Sox.
  • 1978 Stats: 3-9, 4.81 ERA in 28 games (16 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #38 - Willie Montanez

  • Willie Montanez went to the New York Mets as part of that huge 4-team trade on December 8, 1977. Montanez led the Mets in home runs and in RBI. Willie led NL first basemen in assists in 1978.
  • 1978 Stats: .256, 17 HR, 96 RBI in 159 games 
  • 1978 Highlights:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #37 - Rick Waits

  • This is my favorite style of Cleveland Indians caps.
  • .Rick Waits had his best season in 1978. Although Waits had more wins in 1979, most of his other stats were superior in 1978. Rick led the team in wins (13), complete games (15), and starts (33).
  • 1978 Stats: 13-15, 3.20 ERA in 34 games (33 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights

Friday, December 6, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #36 - Eddie Murray

  • Eddie Murray was on his first All Star team in 1978. Murray didn't play in the 1978 game, but he would be on seven more All Star teams in his career.
  • Eddie had a slight improvement over his rookie 1977 season. His numbers in 1978 were VERY close to his career 162-game average.
  • 1978 Stats: .285, 27 HR, 95 RBI in 161 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #35 - Sparky Lyle

  • Sparky Lyle experienced a big drop-off from his Cy Young Award season of 1977. The Yankees signed Goose Gossage after the 1977 season, which relegated Lyle to a setup and occasional closer role. Lyle asked to be traded in January 1978. He realized that he wouldn't get enough work in a crowded Yankee bullpen. Sparky was blasted by owner George Steinbrenner for reporting late to spring training.
  • Lyle was traded to the Texas Rangers after the season. Graig Nettles famously said, "He went from Cy Young to sayonara." after the Yankees acquired Gossage, and it turned out to be true.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: 9-3, 9 saves, 3.47 ERA in 59 games
    • AL Championship Series: 0-0, 13.50 ERA in 1 game
    • World Series: did not pitch
  • 1978 Highlights: 
    • April 16 - Entered the game with 2 out in the 7th inning and shut out the Chicago White Sox the rest of the way to earn his first save. The Yankees beat the White Sox 3-0.
    • June 27 - Pitched three shutout innings and earned the win in New York's 6-4, 14 inning victory over the Boston Red Sox.
    • Sept 14 - Came on in relief of Gossage in the 8th inning and shut out the Detroit Tigers the rest of the way. New York won the game 4-2.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #34 - Willie McCovey

  • Willie McCovey's 1977 comeback season pretty much guaranteed that he would eventually get to 500 home runs and Hall of Fame status. Willie was the regular 1B for the Giants in 1978, but his playing time diminished as the season went on. McCovey played only twice after August 30.
  • 1978 Stats: .228, 12 HR, 64 RBI in 108 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1977 Topps Baseball #33 - Dave Lemanczyk

  • Dave Lemanczyk had a big reversal of fortune in 1978. After winning 13 games for the expansion Toronto Blue Jays in 1977, Lemanczyk won only four games in 1978 and had his ERA jump by two runs.  
  • Dave was the opening day starter for the Blue Jays on April 5, but he started out 0-7 with an 8.62 ERA in his first seven starts.
  • Lemanczyk missed a start due to a twisted ankle on August 10. He made his next start on August 15 and then didn't pitch for three weeks (perhaps a stint on the disabled list).
  • 1978 Stats: 4-14, 6.26 ERA in 29 games (20 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:

Monday, December 2, 2013

1978 Topps Baeball #32 - Garry Templeton

Sunday, December 1, 2013

1978 Topps Baseball #31 - Glenn Abbott