Friday, July 24, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #312 - Greg Minton

  • Poor Greg Minton. This is a very odd looking card. The only two things that save this card from total failure is the fact that he played for the Giants and the single on the Play Ball game.
  • The Giants were still trying to figure out if Minton was more suited for the bullpen or for starting pitching. Greg was used mostly as a starter in AAA Phoenix in 1977 and in 1978. The Giants finally decided to make Minton a full-time reliever and he made only one start from 1979 until the end of his career in 1990.
  • San Francisco had a deep pitching staff in 1978, so Minton spent most of the year in Phoenix. He made 11 relief appearances all together for the Giants.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • San Francisco Giants: 0-1, 8.04 ERA in 11 games
    • Phoenix Giants (AAA): 7-4, 4.50 ERA in 14 games (13 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights
    • April 26 - Pitched two scoreless in the Giants' 6-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves

Friday, July 17, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #313 - Andy Etchebarren

  • Andy Etchebarren was sold to the Milwaukee Brewers before the 1978 season. Etchebarren was expected to compete with Larry Haney for a position as a backup catcher. There was speculation that whoever didn't make the team would end up as a bullpen coach or have another job in the organization. Etchebarren won the job and Haney was released at the end of spring training. But Haney was activated in September and appeared in four games.
  • Andy played in four games in April, was placed on the disabled list with elbow chips in May, had elbow surgery in June and retired after the season.
  • 1978 Stats
    • Milwaukee Brewers - .400 (2 for 5) in 4 games.
  • 1978 Highlights:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #311 - Jose Baez

  • Jose Baez probably owed his short 2-year major league career to expansion. His entire major league experience was with the expansion Seattle Mariners.
  • Jose was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1971. Baez played in the Dodgers' system from 1972-1976. He had good batting averages, but Jose wasn't going to crack the deep Dodger club.
  • After the 1976 season Baez was sold to the Mariners.
  • Jose was 23 years old in 1977 and made the Seattle ballclub. He got about half of the starts at second base, splitting time with 22-year-old Julio Cruz. Baez batted .259 in 91 games. Jose got the first hit in Mariners' history on April 6, 1977.
  • In 1978 Baez started the season splitting time with Cruz again at second base. Baez didn't hit well and by the end of April Cruz took over full-time at second base. Jose played a few games at third base in May, but in mid June he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Mike Potter. Baez was sent to AAA for the rest of the season.
  • Jose was released in February 1979. Baez played in the Inter-America League in 1979 and in the Mexican League in 1980.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Seattle Mariners - .160 (8 for 50) in 23 games
    • Springfield Redbirds (AAA) - .276 in 33 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 16 - Had two hits and scored two runs to help the Mariners beat the Minnesota Twins 7-2.
    • June 6 - Appeared as a pinch runner and scored the winning run on a Willie Randolph error as the Mariners beat the New York Yankees 4-3. It was Jose's last major league appearance.

Monday, July 6, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #310 - Don Sutton

  • As I have gone through this set I've noticed some cards that need to be upgraded. This card is the most obvious example so far. It was probably cut out of a magazine. I must have had some pretty poor scissor skills when I was 11 years old.
  • Don Sutton won 15 games in 1978. In modern times it would usually be enough to lead a team. In 1978 it was a tie for third on the deep Dodger staff. Burt Hooton led the team with 19 wins, Tommy John had 17, and Doug Rau and Sutton each had 15.
  • 1978 Stats:
    • Regular Season: 15-11, 3.55 ERA in 34 starts
    • NL Championship Series: 0-1, 6.35 ERA in 1 start
    • World Series: 0-2, 7.50 ERA in 2 starts.
  • 1978 Highlights:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #309 - Cliff Johnson

  • Here's another Yankee Stadium picture with the Brut billboard in the background.
  • Cliff Johnson was used mainly as a DH and pinch hitter in 1978. He played a few games behind the plate as well. It was the worst offensive season of Johnson's 15 year career.
  • 1978 Stats
    • Regular Season: .184, 6 HR, 19 RBI in 76 games
    • AL Championship Series: .000 (0 for 1) in 1 game
    • World Series: .000 (0 for 2) in 2 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 14 - Appeared as a pinch hitter and hit a 2-run home run that tied the game in the bottom of the 8th inning. The Yankees eventually beat the Seattle Mariners 11-9 in ten innings.
    • July 14 - Hit a pinch home run in the bottom of the 9th to tie the Chicago White Sox, The Yankees won the game 7-6 in 11 innings.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #304 - John Milner

  • John Milner went from the New York Mets to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 4-team trade that also involved the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves. The Pirates also acquired Bert Blyleven as part of the deal. Milner platooned with Bill Robinson in left field in 1978 and also occasionally spelled Willie Stargell at first base. 
  • Milner had trouble getting untracked early in the season -- he didn't get over the Mendoza Line until May 29. John heated up in June and hit well for the rest of the year.
  • 1978 Stats: .271, 6 HR, 38 RBI in 108 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 4 - Went 4 for 4 and knocked in two runs in Pittsburgh's 4-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
    • June 24 - Had four hits, including two doubles and a home run, and knocked in four runs as the Pirates beat the Mets 7-4.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #308 - Jim Rooker

  • Jim Rooker was getting close to the end of the line in 1978. Rooker slipped to nine wins after five straight years of double figures in victories. He was the #4 starter in the rotation. 
  • 1978 Stats: 9-11, 4.24 ERA in 28 starts
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • July 1 - Shut out the New York Mets for eight innings as the Pirates beat the Mets 1-0. It was Rooker's first win since May 7.
    • Sept 14 - Allowed no earned runs in 7 2/3 innings in Pittsburgh's 7-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #306 - Joe Niekro

  • Joe Niekro became a full-time starter in 1978. He was mostly a reliever from 1971-1977. Niekro would be a starting pitcher for the rest of his career (he retired in 1988).
  • The 33-year-old Niekro was the oldest pitcher on the Houston staff. His 14 victories was second on the team to J.R. Richard's 18 wins.
  • 1978 Stats: 14-14, 3.86 ERA in 35 games (29 starts)
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • April 18 - Allowed four hits in a complete game 5-1 victory over the San Diego Padres. Niekro also was 2 for 3 with two RBI and two runs scored in the game.
    • July 17 - Earned the victory in a complete game 11-inning game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Niekro allowed five hits and one run in the 2-1 victory. Niekro scored a run as well.
    • July 26 - Pitched a 4-hit shutout against the Montreal Expos.

Friday, June 26, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #305 - Rico Carty

  • Rico Carty was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training for Dennis DeBarr. Carty didn't play in the field for the entire season. Carty had one of his best seasons -- he hit a career-high 31 home runs and just missed the 100 RBI mark.
  • Carty was traded to the Oakland A's on August 15 for Willie Horton and Phil Huffman. After the season Oakland sold Carty back to the Blue Jays.
  • 1978 Stats
    • Toronto Blue Jays: .284, 20 HR, 68 RBI in 104 games
    • Oakland A's: .277, 11 HR, 31 RBI in 41 games
    • TOTAL: .282, 31 HR, 99 RBI in 145 games
  • 1978 Highlights:
    • June 28: Had three hits, including a 2-run home run in Toronto's 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
    • Aug 9: Doubled three times and scored twice as the Blue Jays beat the Chicago White Sox 8-0.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #303 - Sam Hinds

  • Sam Hinds was a tall pitcher who was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971. Hinds didn't sign with the Cardinals. Hinds tried out with the Milwaukee Brewers during spring training in 1974 and showed enough to earn a minor league contract.
  • Sam worked his way up the Milwaukee system from 1974-1977 and was called up in May 1977. In his only major league season Hinds was 0-3 with 2 saves and had a 4.73 ERA in 29 games (1 start).
  • It looks like Sam was in manager Alex Grammas' doghouse late in the 1977 season. He entered the 1978 season hoping for a chance from new manager George Bamburger.
  • Hinds didn't make the Milwaukee club in 1978 and spent the year in AAA Spokane. He struggled, going 1-8 with a 6.73 ERA.
  • Sam pitched with the AA Holyoake Millers in 1979 and went 8-8 with a 4.32 ERA in 20 games (19 starts). He retired after the season.
  • 1978 Stats
    • Spokane Indians (AAA): 1-8, 6.73 ERA in 20 games (17 starts)

Monday, June 22, 2015

1978 Topps Baseball #302 - Chicago Cubs

  • The 1978 Chicago Cubs were a pretty average team. They were pretty good for the first half of the season and were in first place in the NL East as late as June 23. But the team had only one player in double figures in home runs (Dave Kingman) and only one pitcher in double figures in victories (Rick Reuschel). The Cubs also suffered due to going 4-14 against first place Philadelphia.
  • Team Record: 79-83, .488, 3rd in NL East, 11 games behind Philadelphia
  • Manager: Herman Franks
  • Attendance: 1,525,311 (6th in NL)
  • Team Batting: .264 (1st in NL)
  • Team Home Runs: 72 (11th in NL)
  • Team Stolen Bases: 58 (5th in NL)
  • Team ERA: 4.05 (11th in NL)
  • Team Fielding: .978 (4th in NL)
  • NL All Stars: Bruce Sutter (P)
  • Award Winners: none
  • League Leaders: Ivan DeJesus (runs, 104)
  • Batting Leader: Bill Buckner (.323)
  • HR Leader: Dave Kingman (28)
  • RBI Leader: Dave Kingman (79)
  • Stolen Base Leader: Ivan DeJesus (41)
  • Victory Leader: Rick Reuschel (14)
  • Losses Leader: Rick Reuschel, Dennis Lamp (15)
  • Saves Leader: Bruce Sutter (27)
  • Best ERA (starters):  Dennis Lamp (3.30)
  • Best ERA (relievers): Lynn McGlothen (3.04)
  • Players who could have had 1978 Cubs cards (over 100 AB for position players, over 40 innings pitched for pitchers):
  • Jerry White (OF - .272, 1 HR, 10 RBI in 59 games) - rookie card in 1979
  •  Mike Vail (OF - .333, 4 HR, 33 RBI in 74 games) - pictured with NY Mets
  • Rodney Scott (3B -.282, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 27 stolen bases in 78 games) - pictured with Oakland A's
  • Dave Rader (C - .203, 3 HR, 36 RBI in 116 games)  - pictured with St. Louis Cardinals
  • Tim Blackwell (C - .223, 0 HR, 7 RBI in 49 games) - pictured with Montreal Expos
  •  Lynn McGlothen (5-3, 3.04 ERA in 49 games - 1 start) - Pictured with SF Giants
  • Ken Holtzman (0-3, 2 saves, 6.11 ERA in 23 games - 6 starts) - Pictured with NY Yankees 

  • Saturday, June 20, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #301 - Buddy Schultz

    • Interesting that even though Buddy Schultz spent the entire 1977 season with the St. Louis Cardinals that Topps couldn't come up with a recent picture of him. This is an airbrushed picture from about 1976.
    • Buddy Schultz was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1972. Schultz was in the minors from 1972-1975. He got a late season call-up in 1975 and was 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA in six appearances.
    • Schultz was with the Cubs in the beginning of the 1976 season. He was sent to the minors in early July and spent most of July and all of August in AAA. He was called back up in September. Buddy was 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA in 29 games for the Cubs.
    • Early in spring training in 1977 Schultz was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for a minor leaguer. Buddy had a good year for the Cardinals, going 6-1 with a 2.32 ERA in 40 games (3 starts). He made two starts in AAA in June. Schultz had a pulled hamstring and missed three weeks in July.
    • Schultz didn't have as good of a year in 1978. He was 2-4 with 6 saves and had a 3.80 ERA in 62 games. He was the only left hander in the St. Louis bullpen. He appeared in 62 games and warmed up in another 80 games during the season.
    • Buddy's last major league season was in 1979. He was 4-3 with 3 saves and had a 4.46 ERA in 31 games. He had an inflamed tendon and missed most of the last two months of the season.
    • Schultz had a torn rotator cuff and had surgery in 1980. He tried a couple of comebacks in 1980 and in 1982 but didn't get beyond AAA.

    Thursday, June 18, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #300 - Joe Morgan

    • This was the year when Joe Morgan really started to slow down after several years as the bese second baseman in baseball. Joe still made the NL All Star team this season and in the following season. 
    • 1978 Stats: .236, 13 HR, 75 RBI in 132 games
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • April 6 - Had three hits, three runs scored, and five RBI in Cincinnati's 11-9 Opening Day victory over the Houston Astros.
      • April 21 - Set the major league record for consecutive errorless games at 2B with 90. He would have the string broken two days later. (Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs now holds the record with 142).
      • May 16 - Was 3 for 3 with a 3-run home run and four RBI as the Reds beat the Montreal Expos 5-1.
      • Aug 27 - Hit a home run to become the first player to hit 200 career home runs and have 500 career stolen bases.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #299 - Whitey Herzog

    • Whitey Herzog was signed by the New York Yankees in 1949. Whitey spent the next for years in the Yankees' farm system before spending two years in military service. Herzog had a good year in AAA Denver in 1955, but he wasn't going to crack the Yankees club.
    • In April 1956 Whitey was a throw-in in a large trade between the Yankees and the Washington Senators. He spent all of 1956 in Washington and then split time between AAA Miami and Washington in 1956. Herzog was traded to the Kansas City A's in 1958 and played for three teams  between 1958 and 1963.
    • Herzog scouted, coached, and managed in the minors and for the New York Mets from 1964-1967. He then became director of player development for the Mets in 1967 and served in that position for six years. Whitey was a candidate to replace the deceased Gil Hodges as manager of the Mets in April 1972 but Yogi Berra was selected instead.
    • In 1973 Herzog replaced Ted Williams as manager of the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were a terrible team in 1973 and Whitey didn't even last the whole season. He was canned when the Rangers got the chance to sign the newly available Billy Martin to manage.
    • Herzog was a coach and an interim manager for the California Angels in 1974.
    • In 1975 Whitey was hired to manage the Kansas City Royals. The Royals were very successful under Herzog, winning three AL West titles from 1976-1978. They were never able to reach the World Series during that time and Whitey was dismissed after a disappointing 1979 season.
    • Whitey became the General Manager (as well as manager) of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980. He was the GM from 1980-1982. Herzog took the Cardinals to the World Championship in 1982 and won pennants in 1985 and in 1987. Herzog was named NL Manager of the Year in 1985. Whitey stepped down as the Cardinals' manager in July 1990 when he was dissatisfied with the team's performance.
    • Herzog never managed again (although he was offered the managerial position in Boston in 1996). He served in various front office and consultant positions after leaving the Cardinals.
    • Whitey was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2010.
    • Managerial Record:
      • Texas Rangers (1973): 47-91 (.391)
      • California Angels (1974): 2-2 (.500)
      • Kansas City Royals (1975-1979): 410-304 (.574) - 3 AL West titles
      • St. Louis Cardinals (1980-1990): 822-708 (.530) - 3 NL Pennants, 1 World Championship

    Sunday, June 14, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #298 - Tony Armas

    • What's a "Strike ut?"
    • Tony Armas struggled through a tough season in 1978. He didn't play for about five weeks from late April to early June. Tony also didn't play much in the last two months of the season.
    • 1978 Stats: .213, 2 HR, 13 RBI in 91 games
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • April 19 - Had three hits and knocked in what would prove to be the winning run in the top of the 11th as the A's beat the Minnesota Twins 6-5 in 11 innings.
      • June 25 - Homered, knocked in two runs, and scored twice as the A's bet the Kansas City Royals 6-3.

    Friday, June 12, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #297 - Warren Brusstar

    • That fro. That chaw. Those eyes. What a cool card.
    • Warren Brusstar was an unsung part of a great Philadelphia bullpen in 1978. Brusstar did good work as a middle reliever for the Phillies.
    • 1978 Stats:
      • Regular Season: 6-3, 2.33 ERA in 58 games
      • NL Championship Series: 0-0, 0.00 ERA in 3 games (2.2 innings)
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • July 5 - Pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless relief and earned the win as the Phillies beat the New York Mets 7-5.
      • Aug 30 - Shut out the San Diego Padres for three innings and picked up a win as the Phillies came from behind to win 6-5.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #296 - Biff Pocoroba

    Monday, June 8, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #295 - Bill Lee

    • Bill Lee had a tumultuous 1978 season. Lee started the season 10-3, but from  mid-July to mid-August he lost seven straight decisions. Bill clashed with manager Don Zimmer and was a founding member of the (in)famous Buffalo Heads club. Lee was pulled from the starting rotation in late August and appeared only a few times in relief during the remainder of the season. Lee was traded to the Montreal Expos after the season.
    • Here is Bill Lee's SABR biography
    • 1978 Stats: 10-10, 3.46 ERA in 28 games (24 starts)
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • April 9 - Shut out the Chicago White Sox 5-0 in his first start of the season.
      • May 16 - Ran his record to 6-0 by pitching a complete game 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals
      • June 23 - Allowed two runs and pitched a complete game as the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2.

    Saturday, June 6, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #294 - Larry Parrish

    • Larry Parrish showed improvement in 1978. His breakout season would come the next year. Parrish was the starting third baseman for Montreal from 1975-1981.
    • 1978 Stats: .277, 15 HR, 70 RBI in 144 games
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • June 7 - Went 3 for 3 with a home run and four RBI as the Expos beat the San Diego Padres 8-3.
      • July 30 - Hit three home runs, knocked in six runs, and scored four runs in Montreal's 19-0 slaughtering of the Atlanta Braves.
      • Sept 1 - Doubled and scored in the top of the 12 inning in Montreal's 3-2 win over the Padres.

    Thursday, June 4, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #293 - Mike Willis

    • That Brut ad in Yankee Stadium just screams "1970s".
    • Mike Willis was mostly a middle and late inning reliever for the Blue Jays in 1978. Toronto used three different guys to close out games -- Willis, Victor Cruz, and Tom Murphy.
    • Willis made two starts in September against the New York Yankees because he was a lefty. Mike was 1-1 in the two starts.
    • Mike recalls his career in this article. 
    • 1978 Stats: 3-7, 7 saves, 4.56 ERA in 44 games (2 starts)
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • May 16 - Allowed one unearned run in 2 1/3 innings and got the win as Toronto beat the California Angels 5-4.
      • Aug 23 - Earned the save by pitching 2 2/3 shutout innings in Toronto's 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers
      • Sept 20 - Allowed six hits and one run in a complete game 8-1 win over the Yankees. Mike \struck out Reggie Jackson three times. It was the third (and last) loss for Ron Guidry, who went 25-3.

    Tuesday, June 2, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #292 - Gene Richards

    • That's quite the choke-up grip Mr. Richards is showing.
    • Gene Richards had career highs in batting average in games played in 1978. Richards started in left field for the Padres (although he made several starts at 1B in April) and usually led off.
    • 1978 Stats: .308, 4 HR, 45 RBI, 90 runs in 154 games
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • May 12 - Had three hits, knocked in three runs, and scored twice to help the Padres beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4
      • June 26 - Had three hits and scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th as the Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1.
      • Sept 21 - Went 4 for 4 in San Diego's 5-1 win over the Giants.

    Saturday, May 23, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #291 - Gary Ross

    • This is a surprising card in the 1978 set. Gary Ross pitched his last major league game on July 8, 1977. There is no transaction record on baseball reference for Ross in 1978 and he didn't pitch in the minors. It appears that he had an injury in 1977 and wasn't able to come back.

    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #290 - Willie Horton

    • Willie Horton moved around a lot in 1978. Before the season he was traded (with David Clyde) from Texas to the Cleveland Indians for Tom Buskey and John Lowenstein. On July 3 Willie was released. Horton was picked up by the Oakland A's on July 13. Then on August 15 Horton was traded (with Phil Huffman) to the Toronto Blue Jays for Rico Carty.
    • Willie was aging, but he had one more good year left in him. Horton would win the Comeback Player of the Year award with the Seattle Mariners in 1979.
    • 1978 Stats
      • Cleveland Indians - .249, 5 HR, 22 RBI in 50 games
      • Oakland A's - .314, 3 HR, 19 RBI in 32 games
      • Toronto Blue Jays - .205, 3 HR, 19 in 33 games
      • TOTAL: .252, 11 HR, 60 RBI in 115 games
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • April 28 - Had three hits (including a home run) and two RBI in Cleveland's 6-2 win over the Oakland A's.
      • May 3 - Went 3 for 3 with a home run and 5 RBI to help the Indians beat the Seattle Mariners 10-5.
      • July 27 - Had three hits and scored three runs as the A's beat the Chicago White Sox 7-4.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #289 - Checklist Cards 243-363

    • All Star Team:
      • starting pitchers: Don Sutton, Luis Tiant, Dave Goltz, Jerry Reuss, Joe Niekro, Mike Flanagan
      • relief pitchers: Bruce Sutter, Terry Forster, Fred Norman, Paul Lindblad
      • catcher: Carlton Fisk, John Stearns
      • first base: Steve Garvey, Bob Watson
      • second base: Joe Morgan, Frank White
      • shortstop: Bucky Dent, Rick Burleson
      • third base: Mike Schmidt, Sal Bando, Buddy Bell, Graig Nettles
      • outfield: Bake McBride, Fred Lynn, Cesar Geronimo, Ben Oglivie
      • manager: Bill Virdon or Joe Altobelli
    • Not a bad team. A little thin on starting pitching and outfield, but it has a great collection of third baseman. 
    • Hall of Famers: Five

    Sunday, May 17, 2015

    1978 Topps Baseball #288 - Dave Hamilton

    • In November 1977 Dave Hamilton was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals as a player to be named later in an earlier trade for Clay Carroll. 
    • Dave had a tough time for two months in St. Louis. On May 28 he was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hamilton pitched better in Pittsburgh, but he may have had injury problems toward the end of the season. Dave had only three appearances in July, three in August, and one in September.
    • 1978 Stats:
      • St. Louis Cardinals: 0-0, 6.43 ERA in 13 games
      • Pittsburgh Pirates: 0-2, 1 save, 3.42 ERA in 16 games
      • TOTAL: 0-2, 1 save, 4.46 ERA in 29 games
    • 1978 Highlights:
      • June 24 - Earned his only save of the year by pitching the last 2/3 innings of Pittsburgh's 7-4 12-inning victory over the New York Mets.
      • July 16 - Pitched shutout ball for 2 2/3 innings as the Pirates beat the San Diego Padres 3-2 in 10 innings.