Friday, February 28, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #89 - Ken Clay

  • Ken Clay was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1972. Clay pitched in the minors from 1972-1977. 
  • Ken started the 1977 season with a nice 5-1 record for AAA Syracuse. Clay was called up in June. He wasn't all that great as a starter, but he had some success as a long reliever. Clay went 2-3 with 1 save and had a 4.37 ERA in 21 games (3 starts).
  • Clay had his best year in 1978. He was used as a long reliever and a spot starter. Ken spent most of July on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. Clay pitched effectively in game 1 of the AL Championship series and earned the save.
  • Ken had a rough time in 1979. He went 1-7 and his ERA jumped to 5.70. 
  • Clay started the 1980 season in AAA Columbus. In August Ken was traded to the Texas Rangers for Gaylord Perry. Clay  made eight starts for the Rangers and went 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA.
  • After the 1980 season Clay was traded to the Seattle Mariners. Ken started the 1981 season 0-3 with a 7.03 ERA and he was sent to the bullpen by manager Maury Wills. After the strike new manager Rene Lachemann gave Clay another chance in the rotation. Ken pitched better (2-3, 3.64 ERA in 10 starts).
  • Ken didn't make the Mariners club in 1982 and he decided to retire rather than trying to latch on with another team. Clay retired with a lifetime record of 10-24 in five seasons.
  • After his pitching career Clay had several run-ins with the law. He was convicted of various theft, forgery, and larceny crimes starting in 1986. Ken served two jail terms. He was most recently released from jail in 2012 and now lives in his hometown of Lynchburg, VA.
  • 1978 Stats: 
    • Regular Season: 3-4, 4.28 ERA in 28 games (6 starts)
    • AL Championship Series: 0-0, 0.00 ERA in 1 game (3.2 innings pitched)
    • World Series: 0-0, 11.57 ERA in 1 game (2.1 innings pitched)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 21 - Made his first start of the season and allowed only an unearned run in seven innings pitched to earn his first win of the year. The Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-1.
    • Sept 7 - Entered the game in the 4th inning to replace the injured Catfish Hunter. Allowed one run in six innings to earn the win as the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 15-3.
    • Oct 3 - Pitched 3 2/3 shutout innings and earned the win in game 1 of the AL Championship Series. The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 7-1.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #16 - Roy White

  • Roy White was no longer the everyday left fielder for the Yankees in 1978. White played in 103 games, the fewest since 1967. Roy had a good September, batting .337 to help the Yankees come back from a large deficit to take the AL East title.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: .269, 8 HR, 43 RBI in 103 games
    • AL Championship Series: .313 (5 for 16) in 4 games
      World Series: .333 (8 for 24) in 6 games
  • 1978 Highlights
    • July 23 - Went 3 for 4 with a run scored in  New York's 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox
    • Sept 5 - Hit a 3-run homer in the fourth inning to lead the Yankees to a 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers

Sunday, February 23, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #108 - Von Joshua

  • Von Joshua was released by the Milwaukee Brewers during spring training in 1978. Von went to the Mexcian League to play in 1978. He came back to play two more seasons in the major leagues (1979 and 1980) and then went back to the Mexican League in 1981.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Tabasco Plataneros (Mexican League): no stats available

Saturday, February 22, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #107 - Ed Halicki

  • Ed Halicki was only 9-10, but he had a 2.85 ERA for the surprising San Francisco Giants. It was Ed's last good year.
  • Halicki didn't make his first 1978 start until May 14.
  • 1978 Stats: 9-10, 1 save, 2.85 ERA in 29 games (28 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 25 - Earned his first win of the year with a complete game six-hitter. The Giants beat the Houston Astros 9-1.
    • June 12 - Pitched a 1-hit shutout as the Giants beat the Montreal Expos 1-0. Ellis Valentine's single to left field in the second inning was the Expos' only hit.
    • June 21 - Shut out the Cincinnati Reds on three hits. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #7 - Reggie Jackson 1977 Record Breaker

  • When I started doing this blog I thought I had the complete set. I started scanning the cards and saw that I was wrong. My set was short 16 cards. I ordered the missing cards on and now the set is complete.
  • That was one heck of a game 6 for Reggie Jackson. For me that World Series was a choice between "eeeew" and "yuck." By the time Jackson came up for his third at bat I was pulling for him to hit that third home run.
  • This is a nice action shot of Mr. Jackson.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #105 - Reggie Cleveland

  • Reggie Cleveland wasn't with the Red Sox for very long in 1978. Cleveland pitched 1/3 of an inning and took the loss in a game on April 10 (he allowed one hit and an unearned run). Reggie was the 11th man on a 10-man staff and wasn't being used much, so on April 18 Reggie was sold to the Texas Rangers. Cleveland was successful as the main closer for the Rangers, leading the team in appearances and saves.
  • 1978 Stats: 
    • Boston Red Sox: 0-1, 0.00 ERA in 1 game
    • Texas Rangers: 5-7, 12 saves, 3.09 ERA in 53 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 28 - Pitched four innings and earned the win as the Rangers beat the Red Sox 5-4 in 11 innings.
    • Sept 12 - Went 2 2/3 innings without allowing a hit or a run and picked up the save in the Rangers' 7-5 win over the California Angels

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #106 - Bill Plummer

  • Bill Plummer was cut by the Cincinnati Reds in late March. Bill was able to sign with the Seattle  Mariners in early April. Plummer spent a month in AAA San Jose and then played for the Mariners for the rest of the season. Bill played in San Jose in 1979 and retired after the season.
  • Plummer started managing in the minors in 1980 and has had a long career. His most recent managing job was in Class A Visalia in 2013.
  • 1978 Stats: 
    • Seattle Mariners: .215, 2 HR, 7 RBI in 41 games
    • San Jose Missions (AAA): .179, 2 HR, 8  RBI in 24 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 13 - Went 2 for 4 with a run scored in Seattle's 9-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays
    • Aug 12 - Had two hits, a run scored, and a run batted in as the Mariners beat the California Angels 5-3.

1978 Topps Baseball #104 - Lee Lacy

  • Lee Lacy was a valuable bench player and pinch hitter for the Dodgers in 1978. Lacy hit a career high 13 home runs and played five positions during the season.
  • Lee became a free agent after the 1978 season and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he would win a world series ring the following season.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: .261, 13 HR, 40  RBI in 103 games
    • NL Championship Series: .000 (0 for 2) in 2 games
    • World Series: .143 (2 for 14) in 4 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 22 - Doubled twice, walked twice, and scored two runs in the Dodgers' 8-1 victory over the San Diego Padres
    • May 30 - Went 3 for 4 with a home run and 2 RBI as the Dodgers beat the Padres 10-2.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #103 - Tom Murphy

  • In 1978 Tom Murphy was used as a closer and as a setup man. This was Murphy's last full season in the  majors.
  • 1978 Stats: 6-9, 7 saves, 3.93 ERA in 50 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 26 - Picked up the win by pitching two scoreless innings of relief. The Blue Jays scored two runs in the 9th inning to come back and beat the Kansas City Royals 3-1.
    • Aug 21 - Earned the win in Toronto's 8-6 victory over the Texas Rangers. Murphy pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings.

Monday, February 17, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #102 - Matt Alexander

  • Matt Alexander was released by the Oakland A's during spring training in 1978. While in Mexico in February 1978 Matt came down with a case of hepatitis. Alexander couldn't make it to spring training and was released. Matt went to barber's  college and stayed in shape. He called a friend who knew Pittsburgh Pirates manager Chuck Tanner. In September 1978 Alexander joined the Pirates. He appeared in seven games (all as a pinch runner), stole four bases in five attempts, and scored two runs.
  • 1978 Stats: .000 (0 for 0) in 7 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • Sept 21 - Ran for Rennie Stennett in the 14th inning. Matt stole second base and then scored the winning run when catcher Tim Blackwell made a wild throw to second and CF Bobby Murcer made an error while backing up the play.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #101 - Sid Monge

  • Sid Monge started the 1978 season on the disabled list. He pitched only one game in April and three in May. Monge had a good year -- he was second on the team in total appearances and saves and led the club with a 2.76 ERA.
  • 1978 Stats: 4-3, 6 saves, 2.76 ERA in 48 games (6 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 17 - Allowed no runs and one hit in 6 1/3 innings of relief and got the win as the Indians beat the New York Yankees 5-4.
    • May 28 - Shut out the Baltimore Orioles for three innings and earned his second win of the season. The Indians beat the Orioles 4-3 in 10 innings.
    • July 17 - Earned his second straight save by pitching 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief as the Indians  beat the Seattle Mariners 5-2.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #100 - George Brett

  • George Brett missed some time due to injuries and batted under .300 for the first time in four seasons in 1978. George missed three weeks after injuring his shoulder while breaking up a double play on April 29. Brett also missed three weeks in late July and early August.
  • Although he played in only 128 games, Brett led the AL with 45 doubles.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: .294, 9 HR, 62 RBI in 128 games
    • AL Championship Series: .389 (7 for 18, 3 HR, 7 runs scored) in 4 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 17 - Homered, doubled, scored twice and knocked in two runs in Kansas City's 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays
    • Sept 18 - Had four hits and scored twice as the Royals beat the Seattle Mariners 7-6 in 11 innings.
    • Oct 6 - Hit three solo home runs in a losing cause as the Royals lost to the New York Yankees 6-5 in game 3 of the AL Championship Series.

Friday, February 14, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #98 - Jim Essian

  • After he had a career year in 1977, Jim Essian was traded (with Steve Renko) during spring training to the Oakland A's for Pablo Torrealba.
  • Jim split time with Jeff Newman behind the plate in 1978. Essian threw out a higher percentage of would-be base stealers, but Newman was slightly better offensively.
  • 1978 Stats: .223, 3 HR, 26 RBI in 126 games
  • 1978 Highlights: 
    • April 19: Had four hits in Oakland's 6-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins. The attendance in Minnesota was 1,935.
    • April 26: Singled in the bottom of the 12th inning to knock in the tying and winning runs as the A's beat the Twins 9-8.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #97 - Stan Bahnsen

  • Stan Bahnsen had pretty much completed his transition from a workhorse starter to a relief pitcher in 1978. Stan made one spot start and came out of the bullpen 43 times. 
  • Bahnsen didn't pitch for seven weeks from mid May to early July. He was probably injured and on the DL, but I can't find any articles about it.
  • 1978 Stats: 1-5, 7 saves, 3.81 ERA in 44 games (1 start)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 12 - This isn't really a highlight, but it makes me wonder about some statistics. Bahnsen was credited with a "hold" even though he allowed four runs (three earned) in 2 2/3 innings pitched. The Expos "held on" to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7.
    • May 12 - Pitched three scoreless innings and earned the save as the Expos beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3.
    • Aug 12 - Picked up his only victory of the season by allowing no runs in 2/3 of an inning in the top of the 14th inning. The Expos beat the Chicago Cubs 4-3 when pinch hitter Tommy Hutton singled in Warren Cromartie in the bottom of the 14th inning.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #96 - Baltimore Orioles

  • The 1978 Baltimore Orioles won 90 games, but they got off to a 5-10 start and never got closer than six games behind after June 20. The Orioles were very good at hitting home runs (3rd in the AL) and fielding the baseball (1st in the AL). They had a good pitching staff, but there were a few holes in the club that would be filled in time for the team to win the AL pennant the next season.

  • Team Record: 90-71, .559, 4th in AL East, 9 games behind the New York Yankees
    • Managers(s):
      • Earl Weaver (9th full season with team)
    • Attendance: 1,051,724, 10th in American League
    • Team Batting: .258 (10th in AL)
    • Team Home Runs: 154 (3rd in AL)
    • Team Stolen Bases: 75 (11th in AL)
    • Team ERA: 3.56 (5th in AL)
    • Team Fielding: .982 (1st in AL)
    • AL All Stars: Jim Palmer (starting pitcher); Mike Flanagan (P); Eddie Murray (1B)
    • Award Winners: Gold Glove (Jim Palmer - P; Mark Belanger - SS)
    • League Leaders: Jim Palmer (innings pitched - 296); Mike Flanagan (games started - 40)
    • Batting Leader: Ken Singleton (.293)
    • HR Leader: Doug DeCinces (28)
    • RBI Leader: Eddie Murray (95)
    • Stolen Base Leader: Larry Harlow (14)
    • Victory Leader: Jim Palmer (21)
    • Losses Leader: Mike Flanagan (15)
    • Saves Leader: Don Stanhouse (24)
    • Best ERA (starters): Jim Palmer (2.46)
    • Best ERA (relievers): Don Stanhouse (2.89)
    • Players who could have had 1978 Orioles cards (over 100 AB for position players, over 40 innings pitched for pitchers):
      • Carlos Lopez (OF) (pictured with Seattle Mariners) : .238, 4 HR, 20 RBI in 129 games (193 AB)
      • Joe Kerrigan (pictured with Montreal Expos) : 3-1, 3 saves, 4.77 ERA in 26 games (2 starts)

    Monday, February 10, 2014

    1978 Topps Baseball #95 - Jamie Quirk

    • How did Jamie Quirk get one of the coveted "5"  numbers? 
    • Jamie started the 1978 season in the minors. In August Quirk was traded back to the Kansas City Royals for a minor leaguer and cash.
    • 1978 Stats:
      • Spokane Indians (AAA): .292, 12 HR, 63 RBI in 97 games
      • Kansas City Royals: .207, 0 HR, 2 RBI in 17 games

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

    1977 Topps Baseball #94 - Chuck Scrivener

    • This was Chuck Scrivener's last card. Scrivener didn't play with the Tigers in 1978. He spent the year in AAA Evansville. Chuck was released after the season. He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979, but there are no records of him playing after 1978.
    • 1978 Stats:
      • Evansville Triplets (AAA): .262, 9 HR, 46 RBI in 93 games

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

    1978 Topps Baseball #93 - Bobby Cox

    • It's hard to believe Bobby Cox was ever this young.
    • Cox spent most of his playing career in the minor leagues. Bobby spent two seasons (1968-1969) in the majors but he was sent back down in 1970 due to his light hitting.
    • Bobby was a player-manager in Class A Fort Lauderdale in 1971. He then managed several teams in the New York Yankees organization from 1972-1976. Cox was the first base coach for the world champion Yankees in 1977. 
    • After the 1977 season Bobby was hired to manage the Atlanta Braves. The Braves were a struggling ballclub during that time. After two last place finishes, the Braves became a .500 ballclub, but it wasn't enough for owner Ted Turner and Cox was fired after the 1981 season. Bobby's successor (Joe Torre) took the Braves to a division title and two second place finishes after Cox was fired. The most important (and to many unorthodox) move during Bobby's first tenure with Atlanta was moving Dale Murphy from catcher to center field. The move paid huge dividends for Murphy and the team during the 1980s.
    • Cox was hired to manage the Toronto Blue Jays after his dismissal from the Braves. The Blue Jays steadily improved and played well under Bobby's tenure. Cox won a division title with Toronto in 1985.
    • After the 1985 season Cox left the Blue Jays and returned to the Braves as General Manager. Bobby served as the Braves' GM from 1986 until the middle of the 1990 season. Cox fired manager Russ Nixon and returned to the dugout to manage. In 1991 the Braves went "from worst to first" as they won the first of many division titles under Cox. The Braves lost a thrilling 7-game World Series to the Minnesota Twins.
    • The Braves were division champions every year (except the 1994 strike year) from 1991-2005. Atlanta won only one World Championship (1995) during that time, but they had a run of success that  may never be equaled. 
    • Bobby Cox stepped down as the Braves' manager after the 2010 season. After four years of missing the playoffs, the Braves were a wild card in Bobby's final season.
    • Cox finished his managerial career with 2504 wins (4th all-time), 5 pennants, and one world championship. Cox was selected as Manager of the Year four times. Bobby was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2013 and will be inducted in 2014.
    • Managerial record:
      • Fort Lauderdale Yankees (A) (1971): 71-70
      • West Haven Yankees (AA) (1972): 84-56, .600
      • Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) (1973-1976): 304-261, .538
      • Atlanta Braves (1978-1981, 1990-2010): 2149-1709, .557
      • Toronto Blue Jays (1982-1985): 355-292, .549

    Wednesday, February 5, 2014

    1978 Topps Baseball #92 - Adrian Devine

    • Topps misspelled "prominent" on the back. I doubt I noticed it back in 1978.
    • Adrian Devine was traded to the Atlanta Braves as part of that big 4-team trade after the 1977 season. Devine had a winning record (5-4) for a struggling team, but he had a high 5.42 ERA.
    • Devine was moved into the starting rotation for the Braves in June. He made six starts in June and July and then found himself on the disabled list for two months. Devine was a reliever for the rest of his career once he came off of the DL in September.
    • 1978 Stats: 5-4, 3 saves, 5.92 ERA in 31 games (6 starts)
    • 1978 Highlights:

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    1978 Topps Baseball #91 - Oscar Zamora

    • Oscar Zamora started the 1978 season in AAA. Oscar pitched well and was recalled in mid-May. Zamora pitched in ten games for the Astros between May and July and that was it for his major league career. Oscar pitched in the minors in 1979 and in 1982
    • 1978 Stats:
      • Charleston Charlies (AAA): 1-2, 10 saves, 2.12 ERA in 20 games
      • Houston Astros: 0-0, 7.20 ERA in 10 games

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    1978 Topps Baseball #90 - Larry Bowa

    • Larry Bowa finished third in NL MVP voting in 1978. Bowa had three of the 24 first place votes in the balloting. Although his stats look rather ordinary, Bowa was 5th (3rd among non-pitchers) in Wins Above Replacement for those who received votes. 
    • Larry also won a Gold Glove and was an NL All Star. Bowa led the NL with 153 singles.
    • 1978 Stats:
      • Regular season: .294, 3 HR, 43 RBI, 27 stolen bases in 157 games
      • NL Championship Series: .333 (6 for 18) in 4 games
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • April 15 - Had three hits and scored the winning run in the 10th inning of Philadelphia's 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
      • May 20 - Went 4 for 6 and scored twice as the Phillies beat the New York Mets 9-4.

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    1978 Topps Baseball # 88 - Mike Phillips

    • This looks like an old picture of Mike with the New York Mets. Topps must not have been able to get a picture of Mike with the Cardinals at the end of the 1977 season, so they broke out the airbrush.
    • Phillips had a career high .268 batting average as a utility infielder in 1978. Phillips backed up at 2B, SS, and 3B.
    • 1978 Stats: .268, 1 HR, 28  RBI in 76 games
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • April 13 - Hit a 2-run triple off of Bert Blyleven in the third inning. The hit made the score 6-1 at the time. The Cardinals held on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5.
      • June 28 - Went 3 for 4, walked twice, and scored a run in the Cardinals' 7-5 victory over the Pirates.
      • Aug 13 - Had four hits in five at bats as the Cardinals beat the New York  Mets 6-1.

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

    1978 Topps Baseball #87 - John Lowenstein

    • John Lowenstein had a one year stop in Texas before his stint with the Baltimore Orioles. Before the 1978 season John was traded (with Tom Buskey) to the Rangers for Willie Horton and David Clyde.
    • Lowenstein played 25 games at third base and 16 games in the outfield. The rest of the time John was a DH and a pinch hitter.
    • 1978 Stats: .222, 5 HR, 21 RBI in 77 games
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • May 15 - Went 2 for 2 with a home run in Texas' 8-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers
      • Aug 5 - Hit a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 12th inning to lead the Rangers to a 4-3 come from behind win over the Cleveland Indians.