Thursday, July 31, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #194 - Derrel Thomas

  • Derrel Thomas played for the San Diego Padres in 1978. He was traded to the Padres for first baseman Mike Ivie in February 1978.
  • Thomas saw action at all four infield positions and in left and right field during the season. 
  • After the season Thomas became a free agent and signed with the LA Dodgers.
  • 1978 Stats: .227, 3 HR, 26 RBI in 128 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 2 - Knocked in both runs of San Diego's 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
    • May 31 - Had two hits, knocked in two runs, and scored another run as the Padres beat the LA Dodgers 3-1.
    • June 17 - Went 4 for 4 to help the Padres beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-0.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #193 - Rich Chiles

  • This is the first appearance on a Topps card by Rich Chiles since 1973.
  • Chiles was the backup left fielder and made 53 starts in 1978.
  • The 1978 season was Rich Chiles' final season in the majors. He got a card in 1979, but Chiles was released by the Twins in February 1979. Rich played two more seasons in AAA, but he didn't distinguish himself in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
  • 1978 Stats: .268, 1 HR, 22 RBI in 87 games
  • 1978 Highlights
    • Apr 23 - Saved pitcher Roger Erickson from an enraged Bobby Grich. Grich charged the mound after Erickson threw a pitch behind his ear. Bobby landed a forearm on Erickson before Chiles rushed out of the dugout and tackled Grich.
    • Aug 13 - Hit two doubles and knocked in one run in Minnesota's 2-1 victory over the Oakland A's.
    • Aug 31 - Hit his only home run of the season to help the Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 4-1.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #192 - San Diego Padres

  • Alvin Dark was originally going to be the manager of the San Diego Padres in 1978, but Roger Craig ended up managing the team. Dark was fired during spring training due to a feeling that he couldn't communicate with his players. Craig managed the Padres to a surprising 84-78 record. It was the first time in franchise history (starting in 1969) that the Padres would finish above .500.
  • The Padres had four future Hall of Famers on the team in 1978: Dave Winfield, Rollie Fingers, Gaylord Perry, and rookie Ozzie Smith.
  • Craig had been a pitching coach for several years before taking over the Padres. San Diego pitching was excellent - the staff finished second behind the LA Dodgers in team ERA. The San Diego offense wasn't as good - they finished last in the NL with 591 runs scored. The Padres were also at the bottom of the league in fielding percentage (.975).
  • Team Record: 84-78, .519, 4th in NL West, 11 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Attendance: 1,670,107 (5th in NL)
  • Team Batting: .252 (8th in NL)
  • Team Home Runs: 75 (10th in NL)
  • Team Stolen Bases: 152 (3rd in NL)
  • Team ERA: 3.28 (2nd in NL)
  • Team Fielding: .975 (10th in NL)
  • All Stars: Dave Winfield (OF); Rollie Fingers (P)
  • NL Leaders: Gaylord Perry (wins - 21; winning percentage - .778); Rollie Fingers (saves - 37)
  • NL Awards: Gaylord Perry (Cy Young Award); Rollie Fingers (Rolaids Relief Man of The Year)
  • Batting Leader: Gene Richards - .308
  • Home Run Leader: Dave Winfield - 24
  • RBI Leader: Dave Winfield - 97
  • Stolen Base Leader: Ozzie Smith - 40
  • Victories Leader: Gaylord Perry - 21
  • Losses Leader: Randy Jones - 14
  • ERA Leader (starters): Gaylord Perry - 2.73
    ERA Leader (relievers): John D'Acquisto - 2.13
  • Strikeout Leader: Gaylord Perry - 154
  • Saves Leader: Rollie Fingers - 37
  • Players who could have had 1978 Topps San Diego Padres cards (minimum 100 AB or 40 IP):
    • Broderick Perkins (1B) .240, 2 HR, 33 RBI in 62 games (rookie card in 1979)
    • Fernando Gonzalez (2B) .250, 2 HR, 29 RBI in 101 games (pictured with Pittsburgh Pirates)
    • Derrel Thomas (OF) .227, 3 HR, 26 RBI in 128 games (pictured with SF Giants)
    • Ozzie Smith (SS) .258, 1 HR, 46 RBI, 40 stolen bases in 159 games (rookie card in 1979)
    • Mark Lee (P) 5-1, 2 saves, 3.28 ERA in 56 games (rookie card in 1979)
    • John D'Acquisto (P) 4-3, 10 saves, 2.13 ERA in 45 games (3 starts) (no card in 1978)
    • Eric Rasmussen (P) 12-10, 4.06 ERA in 27 games (24 starts) (pictured with St. Louis Cardinals)
    • Gaylord Perry (P) 21-6, 2.73 ERA in 37 starts (pictured with Texas Rangers)

Friday, July 25, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #191 - Rodney Scott

  • Rodney Scott was a speedy player who had the nickname "Cool Breeze." Scott was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1972. Scott played in the minors for a few years and then was called up to the Royals in 1975. Rodney appeared in 48 games (mostly as a pinch runner) but batted .067 in only 15 at bats. After the 1975 season Scott was traded to the Montreal Expos for catcher Bob Stinson.
  • Rodney spent most of the 1976 season in AAA Denver, where he batted .307. Scott was called up in September and went 4 for 10 (.400) in 7 games. 
  • During spring training in 1977 Rodney was traded twice. On March 15 Scott was traded to the Texas Rangers for Jeff Terpko. Two weeks later Rodney moved to the Oakland A's (with Jim Umbarger and cash) for Claudell Washington. Scott played in 133 games, mostly at second base and at shortstop. Rodney batted .261 and stole 33  bases in 1977.
  • At the end of spring training in 1978 Scott was traded to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Pete Broberg. Scott started the season in AAA Wichita and was recalled in June. Rodney was a utility man for the Cubs. He played mostly at third base and in the outfield. Scott batted .282 in 78 games.
  • After the 1978 season Rodney was on the move again. This time he was traded (with Jerry White) to the Montreal Expos for Sam Mejias. For the next three seasons Scott would be the starting second baseman (with some occasional starts at shortstop) for the Expos. In 1979 he batted .238 in 151 games and hit the only three home runs of his career. 
  • Scott led the NL with 13 triples in 1980. Rodney batted only .224, but he also stole 67 bases. In 1981 Rodney batted .205 in 95 games. He didn't do much in the playoffs, batting .167 (3 for 18) in 5 games.
  • In 1982 Scott got off to a slow start, batting .200 (5 for 25) in 14 games. Scott was released from the Expos on May 8. He feared he was being blacklisted because of his inability to accept a backup role and rumors of marijuanna use. Rodney signed with the New York Yankees on June 15. Scott spent the next several weeks in AAA Columbus. After batting .366 in 30 games, Rodney was recalled to the Yankees on August 4. Rodney batted .192 (5 for 26) in 10 games and he was released on August 25.
  • Scott was without a baseball job at the beginning of the 1983 season. Rodney signed with the Expos sometime in late June and played for AAA Wichita. In 48 games Scott batted .307, but he wasn't called up to the Expos.
  • Scott left the Expos after the 1983 season and played in the Mexican League from 1984-1986.
  • 1978 Stats: .282, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 27 stolen bases in 78 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 26 - Had three hits in Chicago's 10-9 win over the New York Mets
    • Sept 9 - Had two hits, stole two bases, and knocked in two runs as the Cubs beat the Montreal Expos 6-3.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #190 - John Candelaria

  • After shutting out the Chicago Cubs on Opening Day it appeared that John Candelaria was on his way to repeating his 20-5 season from 1977. John was roughed up in his next four starts and he finished the month of April with a 1-3 record. Candelaria improved in May (4-3) and in June (2-1, 1 save) before having a tough July (1-4). It looks like he was hurt for a short time in late July - there is an 18 day gap from July 28 to August 16.  From August 16 to the end of the season John was 4-0 in seven starts.
  • John's relatively poor year was blamed on a few things: a divorce before the season, the loss of his curveball for much of the season, and some tendinitis in his elbow. There were also some rumors of a drinking problem stemming from the divorce.
  • 1978 Stats: 12-11, 1 save, 3.24 ERA in 30 games (29 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 7 - Pitched a 1-0 shutout against the Chicago Cubs on Opening Day.
    • June 21 - Allowed 1 run in a complete game 2-1 victory against the Cubs.

Monday, July 21, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #189 - Tom Lasorda

  • Tom Lasorda started his long baseball career as a left-handed pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies organization in 1945. For some reason he didn't pitch in 1946 or 1947. Lasorda moved to the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1949 and pitched in the minors for several seasons.
  • Tom had two cups of coffee with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954 and in 1955. He didn't exactly set the world on fire during those two stints and Lasorda was sold to the Kansas City Athletics in March 1956.
  • Lasorda was with the A's for the beginning of the 1956 season but after going 0-4 with a 6.15 ERA in 18 games (5 starts) he went back to the minors. 
  • Tom was sent back to the Dodgers in 1957 and he continued to pitch for AAA Montreal through the 1960 season. 
  • From 1960-1965 Lasorda was a scout for the Dodgers.
  • In 1966 Tom started his managerial career. From 1966 to early 1969 Lasorda managed at the Rookie League level. In 1969 Lasorda became the manager of the Dodgers' AAA team in Spokane. Tom managed AAA Spokane and Albuquerque from 1969-1972. Tom was the Sporting News Minor League Manager of The Year in 1970.
  • Lasorda became a coach (and manager Walter Alston's heir apparent) with the Dodgers in 1973. Tom became the manager of the Dodgers during the last week of the 1976 season after Alston's retirement.
  • The Dodgers won NL pennants in the next two seasons (1977 and 1978) but they lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series both times. Lasorda was named NL Manager of The Year in 1977.
  • After a rough 1979 season, the Dodgers returned to contention in 1980. They finished 1 game behind the Houston Astros in the NL West in 1980.
  • In 1981 the Dodgers won the World Championship and in 1982 they finished second in the NL West behind the Atlanta Braves.
  • The Dodgers won NL West titles in 1983 and in 1985 and then pulled off an upset in 1988 when they beat the heavily favored Oakland A's 4 games to 1 in the World Series.
  • Lasorda won NL Manager of The Year awards in 1983 and in 1988. The Dodgers won another divsion title in 1995, giving Tom a total of seven as a manager.
  • Tom stepped down as the manager of the Dodgers in 1996 after he had a heart attack. He retired with a lifetime record of 1599-1439 in 21 years.
  • Lasorda was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.
  • Tom managed the U.S. Baseball Team to the Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympics. 
  • Lasorda was named a vice president of the Dodgers in 1998. He continues to serve as a special adviser for the club.
  • Here is a long and interesting piece about Tommy Lasorda Jr., who passed away from AIDS-related pneumonia in 1992.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #188 - Al Bumbry

  • Al Bumbry missed most of the 1978 season due to a severe ankle injury. He broke a bone and tore ligaments in the ankle during a game against the Texas Rangers on May 12. Bumbry returned in September but he played in only five games and was 1 for 5 in those games.
  • Al came back in 1979 to help the Orioles to the AL pennant.
  • Here is a good 1981 article about Al talking about his days in Vietnam. .
  • 1978 Stats: .237, 2 HR, 6 RBI in 33 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 16 - Had two hits and scored two runs in Baltimore's 7-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
    • April 28 - Went 2 for 4 with a double and a home run to help Baltimore beat the Chicago White Sox 6-4.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #187 - Jerry Royster

  • Jerry Royster was the starting second baseman for the Braves until the All Star break. Rod Gilbreath, who had been starting at third base until Bob Horner came along, moved to second base for a while in July and August and Royster moved to shortstop. Rookie Glenn Hubbard eventually had the second base job at the end of the season. 
  • Jerry led the Braves in stolen bases for the third straight season with 27 in 1978.
  • 1978 Stats: .259, 2 HR, 35 RBI in 140 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 1 - Had three hits and scored two runs to help the Braves beat the New York Mets 6-5.
    • May 17 - Knocked in the go ahead run in the top of the 10th inning as the Braves beat the Mets 2-1.
    • June 21 - Scored both runs in Atlanta's 2-0 win over the San Diego Padres.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #186 - Bob Stanley

  • Bob Stanley spent his entire 13 year major league career with the Boston Red Sox.
  • Stanley was drafted by the Red Sox in 1974. Bob moved up the minor league chain from 1974-1976.
  • Bob made an impression on manager Don Zimmer in spring training in 1977 and he made the Red Sox staff. Zimmer originally planned to carry nine pitchers but because of Stanley's spring performance Don decided to carry ten pitchers instead. Stanley was in the starting rotation until early June and then went to the bullpen for the rest of the season. Bob was 8-7 with three saves in 41 games (13 starts) in 1977.
  • Stanley had a great season in 1978. He had a .882 winning percentage due to his 15-2 record. Bob made three spot starts and was a reliever for the rest of the season. Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, Stanley gave up a solo home run to Reggie Jackson in the top of the 8th inning of the AL East playoff game that eventually proved to be the winning run (the Red Sox lost the game 5-4). Bob was 7th in AL Cy Young award voting in 1978.
  • In 1979 Stanley was mostly used as a starter. Bob was 16-12 with 1 save and had a 3.99 ERA in 40 games (30 starts). Stanley also made the AL All Star team in 1979.
  • Bob had identical records in 1980 (10-8, 14 saves, 3.39 ERA in 52 games/17 starts) and in 1981 (10-8, 3.83 ERA in 35 games/1 start).
  • Stanley was used exclusively in relief for the next four seasons. In 1982 he was 12-7 with 14 saves and had a 3.10 ERA in 48 games. Bob was 8-10 with a career-high 33 saves, had a 2.85 ERA, and made the AL All Star team in 1983. In 1984 Stanley was 9-10 with an ERA of 3.54 and had 22 saves in 54 games. Bob went 6-6 with 10 saves and had a 2.87 ERA in 48 games in 1985.
  • Bob's last season as a closer was in 1986. He made 66 appearances (1 start) and led the Red Sox with 16 saves. Stanley had a 6-6 record and had a 4.37 ERA. Bob was roughed up a bit in the AL Championship Series (0-0, 4.76 ERA in 3 games), but he pitched well in the World Series (0-0, 1 save, 0.00 ERA in 5 games). Stanley had a wild pitch in the 10th inning of game 6 of the World Series that allowed Kevin Mitchell to score the tying run.
  • In 1987 Stanley had his toughest season. He was used as a starter for the first 2 1/2 months of the season and again during the month of August. Bob went 4-15 with a 5.01 ERA in 34 games (20 starts).
  • Stanley had his last good year in 1988. He went 6-4 with 5 saves and had a 3.19 ERA in 57 games. Bob made two appearances in the AL Championship Series and allowed one run in one inning pitched.
  • The 1989 season was Stanley's final season. He was 5-2 with 4 saves and had a 4.88 ERA in 43 games. Bob retired after the 1989 season.
  • After his playing career Stanley settled down about 25 miles from Boston and had a landscaping company. Bob did charity work for the Jimmy fund and helped raise money for cancer research. In 2012 and 2013 Stanley was the pitching coach for AAA Las Vegas in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Bob became the Blue Jays' bullpen coach in 2014.
  • 1978 Stats: 15-2, 10 saves, 2.60 ERA in 52 games (3 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • Aug 2 - Shut out the New York Yankees for three innings and earned the win. Boston beat New York 7-5 in 17 innings.
    • Aug 28 - Earned the win by pitching 2/3 of an inning in Boston's 10-9 comeback win over the Seattle Mariners. It was Bob's seventh victory in the month of August.
    • Sept 29 - Started the game and allowed no runs and two hits in seven innings. The Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 11-0.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #185 - Ellis Valentine

  • Ellis Valentine set career highs in games played and runs scored, and he tied his career high with 25 home runs. Valentine won the only Gold Glove of his career in 1978.
  • 1978 Stats: .289, 25 HR, 76 RBI in 151 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 19 - Went 3 for 5 with three RBI and two runs scored to help the Expos beat the Chicago Cubs 8-6.
    • May 31 - Was thrown out of the game after getting in a fight with Chicago catcher Dave Rader. Valentine said the the Cubs had been throwing at the Montreal hitters
    • July 7 - Was 5 for 5 and knocked in three runs in Montreal's 7-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
    • Sept 13 - Was fined and suspended for two games by manager Dick Williams for not running out a ball and then making gestures  at the fans.

Friday, July 11, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #184 - Checklist Cards 122-242

  • Here's a pretty well-used card from my set.
  • All Star team from the "second series":
    • Starting Pitchers: Jim Palmer, Dennis Eckersley, Ron Guidry, John Candelaria, Bert Blyleven
    • Relievers: Rollie Fingers, Gene Garber, Dick Tidrow, Pedro Borbon, Bob Stanley
    • Catcher: Gene Tenace, Bob Boone
    • First Base: Keith Hernandez, George Scott, Cecil Cooper
    • Second Base: Manny Trillo
    • Shortstop: Robin Yount, Dave Concepcion
    • Third Base: Darrell Evans
    • Outfield: Lou Brock, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Smith, Lou Piniella, Chet Lemon
    • Manager: Earl Weaver (Tom Lasorda can coach third base)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #183 - Doug Bird

  • Doug Bird had a rough season in 1978.  Bird was roughed up in his first appearance (3 earned runs in 2 innings) against Cleveland and his ERA never recovered during the season. Doug's ERA was below 5 briefly in April and again for a week at the end of June, but was above 5 for the rest of the season.
  • After the 1978 season Milwaukee Brewers catcher and former teammate Buck Martinez filed a lawsuit against Bird. The suit was in connection with a 1976 hunting accident in which Bird discharged his shotgun and hit Martinez in the left eye with a pellet. After the incident Buck's vision in his left eye was 20/200. I didn't find out what the outcome of the suit was.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: 6-6, 1 save, 5.29 ERA in 40 games (6 starts)
    • AL Championship Series: 0-1, 9.00 ERA in 2 games (1 inning)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 24 - Entered the game in the fourth inning and allowed no runs in 5 2/3 innings. The Royals were behind at the time Doug came in the game, but they came back to beat the Texas Rangers 8-6. Bird earned his first victory of the season.
    • Sept 18 - Pitched six shutout innings and earned the win as the Royals beat the Seattle Mariners 7-6 in 11 innings.

Monday, July 7, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #182 - Jim Spencer

  • Jim Spencer was acquired by the New York Yankees in a trade for Stan Thomas and cash in December 1977. Jim went from being a Gold Glove first baseman in 1977 to being a part-time designated hitter and backup first baseman in 1978. Spencer appeared in 71 games but only came to the plate 166 times.
  • 1978 Stats: 
    • Regular season: .227, 7 HR, 24 RBI in 71 games
    • AL Championship Series: did not play
    • World Series: .167 (2 for 12) in 4 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 25 - Homered off of Jim Palmer in the top of the 9th inning to make the score 4-1. The home run was significant since the Orioles scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th. The Yankees beat Baltimore 4-3.
    • May 26 - Pinch hit for starting DH Cliff Johnson in the 7th inning and hit a grand slam. The Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3.
    • July 30 - Doubled in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 8th inning. The Yankees held on to beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #181 - Ken Forsch

  • Ken Forsch started the 1978 season in the bullpen as a late inning reliever and occasional closer. On August 23 Ken replaced Tom Dixon in the starting rotation and made six starts. Forsch would be a starting pitcher from 1979-1984.
  • 1978 Stats: 10-6, 7 saves, 2.70 ERA in 52 games (6 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 3 - Pitched 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief and earned the save. The Astros beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2.
    • July 12 - Was credited with the victory in both ends of a doubleheader against the Montreal Expos. In the first game Ken shut out the Expos in the 12th and 13th innings of Houston's 4-3 victory. Forsch came on in relief of starter Mark Lemongello in the 8th inning of the nightcap and surrendered a hit to tie the game. Ken shut out the Expos in the 8th and 9th innings and the Astros moved ahead in the top of the 10th. 
    • Aug 23 - Shut out the Chicago Cubs for seven innings and got the victory in his first start of the season. The Astros beat the Cubs 3-0.
    • Sept 21 - Pitched a shutout against the Atlanta Braves as the Astros won 2-0. It was his last start and last victory of the season.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #180 - Dave Concepcion

  • Dave Concepcion had one of his better years at the plate in 1978. He played in the All Star Game (walked and scored in the 8th inning), but Dave didn't win the Gold Glove for the first time since 1973.
  • 1978 Stats: .301, 6 HR, 67 RBI in 153 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • July 7 - Went 3 for 3 with a run scored as the Reds beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1.
    • July 16 - Had four hits (including a home run) and knocked in four runs in the Reds' 9-2 win over the New York  Mets.
    • Sept 15 - Went 4 for 5 with 2 runs and 2 RBI to help the Reds beat the Giants 6-1.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #179 - Dick Tidrow

  • Dick Tidrow was used as a starting pitcher for the first time since 1974 due to the presence of Goose Gossage, 1977 Cy Young Award winner Sparky Lyle, and Rawly Eastwick in the bullpen.. Tidrow started 25 games and relieved only six times during the season. 
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: 7-11, 3.84 ERA in 31 games (25 starts)
    • AL Championship Series: 0-0, 4.76 ERA in 1 game (5.2 innings)
    • World Series: 0-0, 1.93 ERA in 2 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 16 - Pitched 6 2/3 innings without allowing a run in New York's 3-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. It was Tidrow's first victory of the season.
    • Aug 8 - Shut out the Milwaukee Brewers on three hits through the first innings of the game. The Yankees beat the Brewers 3-0. Tidrow had been struggling lately and changed his motion on the advice of coach Clyde King. The change worked.