Friday, October 31, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #222 - Jerry Martin

  • Jerry Martin was a valuable fourth outfielder for the Phillies in 1978. 
  • Martin had knee surgery in October 1978.
  • After the 1978 season Martin was involved in an eight player trade with the Chicago Cubs that brought Manny Trillo to the Phillies.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: .271, 9 HR, 36 RBI in 128 games
    • NL Championship Series: .222 (2 for 9), 1 HR in 4 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 28 - Hit a three-run home run to lead the Phillies to a 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres
    • June 4 - Had two hits and a walk and scored in three times in Philadelphia's 9-4 victory over the LA Dodgers
    • Aug 7 - Had three hits and scored the tying run in the bottom of the 9th in the Phillies' 8-7 come from behind victory over the Montreal Expos.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #221 - Chris Speier

  • Chris Speier started at shortstop for the Expos in 1978. He didn't do a whole lot with the bat, but Chris was an above average fielder. Speier continued as the starter for the Expos through the 1982 season.
  • 1978 Stats: .251, 5 HR, 51 RBI in 150 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 17 - Had three hits and scored a run in Montreal's 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds
    • May 25 - Was hit by a pitch from St. Louis pitcher John Urrea. Speier was batting .288 at the time, but he was removed from the game and missed the next week. Speier's batting average steadily declined until it settled at about the .250 mark in late June. His batting average stayed around .250 for the rest of the year.
    • July 20 - Hit for the cycle and knocked in six runs to help the Expos beat the Atlanta Braves 7-3.

Monday, October 27, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #220 - Pedro Borbon

  • Pedro Borbon's high 4.98 ERA wasn't helped by a really rough outing in April. Borbon allowed seven runs in one inning pitched as the Reds got pounded by the LA Dodgers 14-4. Borbon's ERA shot up to 12.46 and it didn't recover until late July. Pedro took two more for the team in late July and early August (5 runs in 5.1 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies and six runs in five innings against the Atlanta Braves) which doomed him to having the highest ERA of his career.
  • 1978 Stats: 8-2, 4 saves, 4.98 ERA in 62 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 6: Pitched two shutout innings and earned the victory on opening day as the Reds beat the Houston Astros 11-9.
    • June 25: Pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win against the LA Dodgers. The Reds won the game 5-4.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #219 - Mike Cubbage

  • Mike Cubbage was the starting third baseman for the Minnesota Twins in 1978. Mike was a left-handed batter, so he often sat out against lefty starting pitchers. 
  • Cubbage didn't provide much power from the third base position and he was supplanted by John Castino in 1979. 
  • Cubbage was an above-average fielder in 1978, but in other years he was usually below average.
  • 1978 Stats: .282, 7 HR, 57 RBI in 125 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 6 - Had four hits, four RBI, and scored three times in Minnesota's 8-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles
    • July 27 - Hit for the cycle and knocked in four runs to help the Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3.
    • July 28 - Had two hits and two runs scored as the Twins beat the New York Yankees 7-5 in ten innings. Cubbage scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #218 - Marty Pattin

  • Marty Pattin did good work as a middle reliever and spot starter for the Royals in 1978. 
  • Pattin retired after the 1980 season and coached the Kansas University baseball team from 1982-1987.
  • Here is a good story from 2011 about Pattin's career.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular season: 3-3, 4 saves, 3.32 ERA in 32 games (5 starts)
    • AL Championship Series: 0-0, 27.00 ERA in 1 game
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 15 - Picked up his first victory of the year by pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings in the Royals' 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians.
    • July 23 - Allowed one hit and no runs in 6 1/3 innings and earned the win as the Royals beat the Boston Red Sox 7-3.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #217 - Rod Gilbreath

  • This would be Rod Gilbreath's last season in the majors. Gilbreath played most of his games at third base in 1978, but a .331 slugging percentage was way too low for a third baseman.
  • Gilbreath was released by the Braves during spring training in 1979. Rod signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent 1979 and 1980 in AAA.
  • I just noticed while looking at Rod's cards at that someone is selling a PSA-10 of this card for $149.99. 
  • 1978 Stats: .245, 3 HR, 31 RBI in 116 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 6 - Walked and scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Braves beat the Houston Astros 2-1.
    • Aug 1 - Had three hits and knocked in three runs in Atlanta's 16-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds
    • Sept 5 - Hit a grand slam to help the Braves beat the San Diego Padres 8-1.

Friday, October 17, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #216 - Mike Paxton

  • Mike Paxton was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1975. Mike quickly moved up in the Boston farm system. After starting the 1977 season with a 5-0 record and a 0.82 ERA in 7 starts for AAA Pawtucket, Paxton was called up to the majors in late May of 1977.
  • Paxton started in his first game for the Rex Sox on May 25. He got rocked and was used out of the bullpen for the next two months. Mike was put in the starting rotation in late July and had some success. He ended the 1977 season with a 10-5 record adn a 3.83 ERA in 29 games (12 starts).
  • On March 30, 1978 Paxton was traded (with Ted Cox, Rick Wise, and Bo Diaz) to the Cleveland Indians for Dennis Eckersley and Fred Kendall. Mike started the season in the bullpen. He earned the save on opening day by pitching three shutout innings against the Kansas City Royals. Paxton went into the starting rotation in May and after a few rough outings had a good season. Mike went 12-11 and had a 3.86 ERA in 1978.
  • Paxton had a rougher time in 1979. Mike was rocked in his first few starts. Even though he had a 4-2 record, Mike's ERA stood at 5.98 in early June. Paxton pitched out of the bullpen for three weeks in June. Mike was a starter for most of the rest of the season, but he had an 8-8 record with an ERA of 5.92.
  • Mike appeared in only four major league games in 1980 (0-0, 12.91 ERA). In early May Paxton was sent to AAA Tacoma. He would never see major league action again. 
  • Paxton pitched in AAA through the 1981 season and then retired at the age of 28.
  • 1978 Stats: 12-11, 1 save, 3.86 ERA in 33 games (27 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • July 3 - Pitched a six-hit shutout against the Baltimore Orioles
    • July 21 - Pitched a two-hit shutout against the Seattle Mariners. Mike struck out four batters in the fifth inning. Dan Meyer reached on a passed ball after striking out. Paxton then struck out the next three batters.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #215 - Darrell Evans

  • Darrell Evans settled in as the Giants' starting third baseman and helped the team to a surprising third place finish in 1978. Evans almost always batted between second and fifth in the batting order. He wasn't a speedster, but Darrell got on base a lot (105 walks in 1978).
  • 1978 Stats: .243, 20 HR, 78 RBI in 159 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 19 - Was 3 for 3 with two home runs in the Giants' 10-7 victory over the LA Dodgers
    • June 11 - Had three hits and scored three runs to help the Giants beat the New York Mets 7-5
    • July 15 - Singled in the tying run in the top of the 9th inning of San Francisco's 6-5 11-inning victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Evans also homered twice and knocked in a total of four runs

Saturday, October 11, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #213 - Alan Bannister

  • Alan Bannister lost his starting shortstop job to Don Kessinger in 1978. Bannister made most of his starts as a designated hitter in 1978.
  • Alan rarely played at shortstop after the 1977 season. He was in the majors through the 1985 season but played in only nine games as a shortstop from 1979-1985.
  • 1978 Stats: .224, 0 HR, 8 RBI in 49 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 14 - Went 3 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored in Chicago's 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers
    • July 2 - Had two hits, scored a run, and knocked in a run to help the White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 8-5

Thursday, October 9, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #212 - Mike Caldwell

  • Mike Caldwell was going into the most successful part of his career when this card was printed. Mike had his best year in 1978. Caldwell won 22 games, led the AL with 23 complete games, and finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting. He might have won it if it weren't for Ron Guidry's dominant season.
  • Caldwell didn't start a game until the third week of the season and had only one win at the end of April. Mike won his last five starts and had complete games in eight of his last ten starts.
  • 1978 Stats: 22-9, 1 save, 2.34 ERA in 37 games (34 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • May 4 - Pitched a 4-hit shutout against the Kansas City Royals
    • Sept 19 - Won his twentieth game of the season by shutting out the New York Yankees on four hits. Caldwell struck out a season-high ten batters.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #211 - Earl Weaver

  • Earl Weaver started his minor league career in the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 1948. Weaver played in the Cardinals organization from 1948-1953 without rising above the AA level. Earl then played in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization from 1954-1956. Weaver realized he wasn't going to progress much higher as a player, so he turned to managing. 
  • In 1957 Weaver was hired to manage in the Baltimore Orioles system. Earl worked his way up the chain and was above .500 every year from 1959-1967.
  • Weaver was added to the coaching staff of the Orioles in 1968. Oriole GM Harry Dalton thought the team was under performing and it was only a matter of time before Weaver was to become the manager. Weaver became the manager after the all star break and the team finished second in the American League.
  • The Orioles ran off three great seasons in a row from 1969-1971, appearing in the World Series each year. Things came together for the team and they won over 100 games each of those seasons. Baltimore lost to the Amazin' Mets in the 1969 World Series and then beat the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970 World Series. The Orioles lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971.
  • The Orioles started to age in 1972. They still won the AL East in 1973 and 1974, but they weren't able to beat the Oakland A's in the League Championship Series. 
  • Baltimore came back to win the AL East in 1979. After beating the California Angels in the League Championship Series, the Orioles lost to the Pirates in seven games in the World Series.
  • The Orioles had one last hurrah in 1982. They had a great stretch run and finished the season tied with the Milwaukee Brewers on top of the AL East. Baltimore lost the playoff game and Weaver retired (for the first time) after the season. (It was interesting to see the article on the same page that had the Giants predicted to finish last in their division. The Giants had one of their few good seasons in that era and were alive until the final week of the season)
  • Earl worked as an announcer for ABC in 1983 and 1984 and was also a consultant for the Orioles.
  • Weaver was coaxed out of retirement in 1985 by Baltimore owner Edward Bennett Williams. The team was struggling and it was felt that Weaver could give them a shot in the arm. Baltimore played better than .500 for Weaver in 1985, but they finished last in the AL East with a 73-89 record in 1986. It was Weaver's only season below .500 in the major leagues and the first time one of his teams finished below .500 since 1957. Weaver retired (this time for good) after the 1986 season.
  • In 17 major league seasons Weaver had a record of 1553-1123 (.580) with four AL pennants and one World Championship.
  • Electronic Arts came out with Earl Weaver Baseball in 1987. I remember spending a lot of hours playing that game before I got a PC and was able to play the APBA and Strat-O-Matic computer games.
  • Earl managed the Gold Coast Suns in the Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1989.
  • Weaver was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
  • Earl had his "10 Laws of Baseball"

    • No one’s going to give a damn in July if you lost a game in March.
    • If you don’t make any promises to your players, you won’t have to break them.
    • The easiest way around the bases is with one swing of the bat.
    • Your most precious possessions on offense are your 27 outs.
    • If you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get.
    • Don’t play for one run unless you know that run will win a ballgame.
    • It’s easier to find four good starters than five.
    • The best place for a rookie pitcher is long relief.
    • The key step for an infielder is the first one—left or right—but before the ball is hit.
    • The job of arguing with the umpires belongs to the manager, because it won’t hurt the team if he gets kicked out of the game.
  • Earl died of an apparent heart attack while on an Orioles fantasy cruise on January 19, 2013.
  • Earl Weaver's SABR biography
One of Earl's infamous arguments with an umpire

Earl's farewell in 1982

Sunday, October 5, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #210 - Jose Cardenal

  • Jose Cardenal backed up at first base and occasionally played in the outfield in 1978. The Phillies were the seventh of nine teams Cardenal played for during his 18 year major league career.
  • Cardenal was acquired by the Phillies after the 1977 season in a trade for pitcher Manny Seoane.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: .249, 4 HR, 33 RBI in 87 games
    • NL Championship Series: .167 (1 for 6) in 2 games
  • 1978 Highlights:

Friday, October 3, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #208 - 1977 Leading Firemen

  • How do you spell relief? In the 1970s it was "R-O-L-L-I-E" or "B-R-U-C-E" or "G-O-O-S-E".
  • Rollie Fingers was the leading fireman three times in the NL (1977, 1978, and 1980) and once in the AL (1981).
  • Bill Campbell was the leading fireman in the AL in 1976 and in 1977.
  • Hall of Fame count
    • National League: 3 - Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Rich Gossage
    • American League: none

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

1978 Topps Baseball #207 - 1977 Earned Run Average Leaders

  • In a hitter's year like 1977 it was rare to see low ERAs (especially in the American League).
  • John Candelaria led the NL in ERA for the only time in his career in 1977. He had some nice years in his long career, but none of them was as good as his 1977 season.
  • Frank Tanana also had his only ERA title in 1977. He had three really nice years in a row (1975-1977) during the fastball phase of his career. After an arm injury in 1979, Frank reinvented himself as an off-speed pitcher and enjoyed a long career.
  • Hall of Fame count
    • National League: 2 - Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton
    • American League: 5 - Bert Blyleven, Nolan Ryan, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, Dennis Eckersley