Monday, December 26, 2011

Reggie Jackson (#140)

Although 1970 would be Reggie Jackson's 4th year in the majors, this was only his 2nd card. Somehow, Topps failed to include Jax in the 1968 set (even on an "Athletics Rookie Stars" card). This despite being the 2nd overall pick in the 1966 draft, and spending the latter part of 1967 with the Kansas City Athletics. Not to worry though, our friend Steve at WhiteSoxCards has taken care of that problem.

Reggie was "the straw that stirred the drink" long before Darryl Strawberry arrived on the scene. He and Rick Monday were among the first wave of stars for the Oakland A's, and after a long career, he returned to Oakland for his 21st and final season as a DH, teaming up with Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bob Garibaldi (#681)

I never knew of Bob Garibaldi's existence until I got his card last year. This is due to him not having a card in the sets I collected back in the day (67, 68, 69, 72). After seeing his early-1960s stats on the card back, I was all ready to title this post "Back on Topps' radar", until learning tonight that this is Garibaldi's rookie card.

Bob was signed by the Giants in 1962 (right out of nearby Santa Clara University) and went directly to the majors, making his debut on July 15th. After fashioning a 5.11 ERA over 12 innings that season, Garibaldi spent the 1963 through 1970 seasons as a starting pitcher with the Giants' AAA teams (first in Tacoma, then in Phoenix), with only cups of coffee with San Fran in '63, '66, and '69.

After the 1970 season, Garibaldi was traded to the Kansas City Royals for catcher Fran Healy (who now has a sports-interview show on TV). At the start of the 1971 season, Bob was traded to the Padres for a minor-league pitcher.

Not only did he not see Kansas City, he didn't see San Diego either, spending the 1971-72 seasons with the Padres' AAA team in Hawaii. Oh well, if you get sent to the minors, I suppose Hawaii is the place to be. Bob's only other baseball card was in 1971.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Back on Topps Radar: Howie Reed

Howie Reed returns to the Topps set (#548) after a 3-year absence. After a stint with the Dodgers in 1964-65, he returned to the major leagues with the expansion Montreal Expos in 1969.

Reed was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1958, and spent at least part of every season in the minors through the 1972 season, except for 1965, 1970, and 1971. He made his debut with the Athletics in September '58, but didn't see extended action in the majors until he was part of the Dodgers' bullpen during the 1964 and 1965 seasons.

In early 1966, Howie was traded to the Angels for pitcher Dick Egan, and pitched in 19 games for them for the remainder of the season. After only 4 games with the Astros in 1967, it was back to the bush leagues until Montreal came knocking in 1969.

Reed was a fulltime member of the Expos' bullpen for the franchise's first 3 seasons, behind lefty Dan McGinn and their top righthander (which changed each season from Gary Waslewski to Claude Raymond to Mike Marshall).

Reed spent the 1972 season pitching for the Expos' triple-A team, before retiring.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Astros Rookies: John Mayberry Sr. / Bob Watkins

While filling in for the injured Shane Victorino, the Phillies' John Mayberry Jr collected THREE doubles during today's 14-1 thrashing of the Atlanta Braves. Let's look at his Pop's rookie card...

John Mayberry Sr. was the Astros' #1 pick in the 1967 draft. Although he hit 44 homers in the minors during 1968-69, he was stuck there for 5 seasons, while the Astros changed 1st basemen every year: Eddie Mathews ('67), Rusty Staub ('68), Curt Blefary ('69), Bob Watson & Joe Pepitone ('70), and the cruelest cut of all, an aging, out-of-position Denis Menke ('71). I think when they prefer Menke over a slugging youngster, you pretty much don't fit into their plans.

Mayberry was traded to the Royals in December 1971, and spent the next 6 seasons as their starting 1st baseman. During spring training in 1978, he moved on to the Blue Jays, where he manned 1st base for another 4 seasons. John split his final season (1983) between the Blue Jays and Yankees.

Bob Watkins
? As is so often the case with these rookie cards, one player makes it big while another fades away. Watkins' big-league career consisted of 15 innings with the Astros in 1969. He pitched in their farm system from 1966 through 1971.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ed Spiezio (#718)

Here's the last of the five 1970 cards (all high numbers!) I received from Deans Cards a few months ago. Poor Ed Spiezio - he went from back-to-back trips to the World Series with the Cardinals in '67 and '68, to the expansion Padres in 1969. At least he was getting some playing time now!

Spiezio was signed by the Cardinals in 1963, and spent 4 seasons in the minors. Beginning in 1965, he began to play a good number of games in the outfield, as well as his usual 3rd base position. Ed also played in several dozen games with the Cardinals from 1964 to 1966.

In 1967, Ed finally made the team for the entire season. He was primarily used as a pinch-hitter, but also saw action at 3rd base or the outfield, especially when the regulars were injured or away on National Guard duty. (He was rarely brought into a game in late innings for defensive purposes, that was Phil Gagliano's job.) Ed also appeared in the 1967 World Series against the Red Sox.

Spiezio played the same role in 1968, but less often. His playing time that year was about half of his 1967 action. Once again, he appeared in the World Series, this time against the Tigers.

After the season, Ed was traded to the expansion Padres for pitcher Dave Giusti. Spiezio was the team's starting 3rd baseman from day 1 until he was replaced by Garry Jestadt in late August 1971.

In July 1972, Ed was traded to the White Sox, and retired after the season.

Ed's son Scott was an infielder for the Athletics, Angels, and others from 1996-2007.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chuck Manuel (#194)

This is the rookie card for outfielder Chuck Manuel. (Ok, it's actually current Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel in disguise.)

Charlie was signed by the Twins in 1963, and spent 6 seasons playing A and AA ball before making his major-league debut in April 1969 with the Twins. During his rookie season, Charlie was one of 4 players sharing the starting assignments in left field, along with veteran Bob Allison, fellow rookie Graig Nettles, and Twins' regular center fielder Ted Uhlaender.

I guess Twins' management didn't like Manuel's .207 batting average, because he spent much of the next 2 seasons in triple-A, although also playing in 77 games for the Twins over the two seasons.

In 1972 Charlie was back with the Twins for the entire season, but saw action in just 63 games, more than half of them as a pinch-hitter. Charlie's .205 batting average in '72 was better than the .188 and .125 he posted in the previous 2 partial seasons, but it wasn't enough to keep him in the majors. He spent the entire 1973 season back in the minors, after which he was traded to the Dodgers.

Charlie's 2 seasons with the Dodgers were spent mostly with triple-A Albuquerque, although he made a few pinch-hitting appearances with the Dodgers in '74 and '75.

From 1976 to 1981 Charlie played baseball in Japan. His career took a 180-degree turn in Japan, as he turned into a hitting machine:

1977 - .316, 42 HR, 97 RBI
1978 - .312, 39 HR, 103 RBI
1979 - .324, 37 HR, 94 RBI
1980 - .324, 48 HR, 129 RBI

Charlie hit 25 home runs in the first 8 weeks of the 1979 season. Many thought that an American should not break the Japanese home run record, so he was beaned during a game in June and missed 6 weeks with a broken jaw. He still managed to hit 37 homers and was voted the league MVP.

Charlie later managed the Indians from 2000-2002, and has managed the Phillies since the 2005 season.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Final Card: Dave Watkins

Not only is this Dave Watkins' final card (#168), it's also his rookie card. To top it off, he didn't even play for the Phillies in 1970.

Watkins was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1963, and played in their farm system that year as a catcher. After the season, he was drafted by the Phillies, and played for 5 seasons in their minor-league system. He was an outfielder for his first 4 seasons there before switching back to catcher in 1968. Dave made his major-league debut on April 9, 1969.

From 1964 to 1967, the Phillies only carried 2 catchers. In 1968 and 1969 they carried 3 catchers. I used to think this was due to differing philosophies of managers Gene Mauch and Bob Skinner, but I later realized it was because with Cookie Rojas on the team, a 3rd catcher wasn't necessary. (Rojas had played every position for the Phillies, including pitching 1 game in 1967, and making several appearances as an emergency catcher. True, Rojas was still on the team in '68 and '69, but by then he was firmly established as their #1 2nd baseman.)

Anyhoo, after the 1968 season, longtime regular catcher Clay Dalrymple was shipped off to the Orioles for rookie outfielder Ron Stone, so the #1 job belonged to Mike Ryan, who had shared it with Dalrymple in 1968. As a rookie in 1969, Watkins caught 54 games, starting 33 of them. He also played 5 games in the outfield.

The back of this card states that "Dave is expected to become the Phillies backup catcher to Tim McCarver in 1970." However, the last sentence says he was assigned to [triple-A] Eugene on 11/25/69. (This kind of note is usually a last-minute add-on to a card.)

Not only did Dave not back up McCarver in 1970, but he wasn't even one of the SIX catchers used by the Phillies in 1970. (During the 6th inning of a game with the Giants on May 2nd, a foul ball by Willie Mays broke McCarver's hand. He was replaced by Ryan, who had HIS hand broken later in the SAME INNING while applying a tag at home plate. Utilityman Jim Hutto finished out the game, but the next day the Phillies called up their 2 triple-A catchers Mike Compton and Del Bates, and also activated their bullpen coach Doc Edwards, a former catcher who last played in the majors in 1965. Neither Compton or Bates ever played in the majors before or after 1970.)

Where was Watkins during all of this? I don't know, maybe he went into the furniture refinishing business. He was out of baseball in 1970. It seems odd that after finally making it to the majors after 6 years in the minors, and getting a good amount of playing time, that his career would be over before the next season.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bob Tillman (#668)

My only recollection of Bob Tillman is that the Red Sox traded him to the Yankees midway through the 1967 season for catcher Elston Howard, causing Tillman to miss out on the '67 World Series. (Well, technically they were not traded for each other. I learned today that Howard was traded to the Red Sox on August 3rd, and Tillman was sold to the Yankees 5 days later. Essentially, they were traded for each other.) This is Bob's next-to-last card, generously donated to this blog by

Tillman was signed by the Red Sox in 1958, and spent the next 4 seasons in the Sox' farm system - mostly as a catcher, but playing a few dozen games at 1st base in 1961.

Bob's major-league debut came on April 15, 1962. In his rookie season, Tillman started 58 games behind the plate, compared to 69 starts for Jim Pagliaroni. The bulk of Bob's playing time came when he started every game from the 2nd game of a doubleheader on 5/20, to the 1st game of the 6/17 doubleheader. After that time, he got spot starts on Pagliaroni's days off. (Russ Nixon was also around to start 33 games that season.)

After the season, Pagliaroni was traded to the Pirates for 1st baseman Dick Stuart, so Tillman shared the position with Nixon in 1963, starting 89 games (to Nixon's 72). In 1964, Bob became the undisputed #1 backstop for Boston, starting 120 games, with Nixon starting only 41. (September call-up Mike Ryan started game #161.)

In 1965, Tillman was still the starting catcher, but his playing time was reduced as both Nixon and rookie Ryan started 30 games each, with Ryan starting 13 of the last 14 games. That was a sign of things to come, for in 1966 Mike Ryan took over the #1 catcher's job, starting 106 games while Tillman only started 56 games. (By this time, Russ Nixon was playing for the Twins.)

In 1967, the Red Sox had another rookie catcher join the team (Russ Gibson), so Tillman's contributions were cut way back. He only caught 26 games (18 starts) as the 3rd-string catcher. With the Yankees, Bob didn't fare any better, although he did move up to 2nd-string catcher (because the Yankees only carried 2 catchers!) Tillman alternated with Jake Gibbs for the latter half of August, but once rosters were expanded, rookie Frank Fernandez took his spot in that duo.

After the season, the Yankees traded Tillman to the Braves for 3rd baseman Bobby Cox (yes, THAT Bobby Cox. He had spent the previous 8 seasons languishing in the minor leagues.) Tillman was the Braves' 2nd-string catcher in 1968 and 1969. In '68, he filled in during Joe Torre's early-season injury, and when Torre would move out to 1st base. The following season Tillman backed up rookie Bob Didier. I suspect that with knuckleballer Phil Niekro on the team, Tillman drew the unenviable assignment of catching those games.

In Bob's final season of 1970, he shared the catching duties evenly with Didier and Hal King, actually making more starts than either of those two. Bob retired after the 1970 season, although his final card is in the 1971 set.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Final Card: Bob Johnson

This is the final card for Bob Johnson (#693). This was one of five 1970 cards sent to me by the nice folks at

Bob was a utility infielder who played for 11 seasons, starting with the Kansas City Athletics, and making 6 more stops before wrapping up his career with the Oakland Athletics. Johnson began playing pro ball in 1954 for an unaffiliated class-D team. After the season, he was acquired by the Detroit Tigers, and spent the 1955-59 seasons with various teams in their organization. Following the 1959 season, he was selected by Kansas City in the Rule 5 draft. After only 1 season with the Athletics, Bob was taken by the Washington Senators in the 1960 expansion draft.

With the Senators, Bob shared the shortstop job in 1961 with Coot Veal, and the following season started 117 games between 3rd base and shortstop.

After the 1962 season, Johnson was traded up the road to the Orioles, where he spent the next 4+ seasons, as the backup at all 4 infield positions. Bob did not appear in the 1966 World Series, as the Orioles only used 9 batters and 4 pitchers to dispatch the Dodgers in a 4-game sweep.

In May 1967, Bob was sold to the Mets. This began a succession of short stops with several teams (Mets, Reds, Braves, Cardinals, Athletics) over the last 4 seasons of his career.

Bob's last game was on June 10, 1970. He was released by the A's on July 8th, ending his 11-year career.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jack Billingham (#701)

Here is Jack Billingham's 1970 card. It's been a full season since he was traded to the Astros, yet we still get a hatless card! This is one of five 1970 cards that were sent to me by last fall.

Billingham was signed by the Dodgers in 1961, and pitched 7 seasons in the minors (mostly in relief) before making the Dodgers in 1968. In his rookie season he appeared in 50 games, all but 1 in relief.

After the 1968 season, Jack was selected by the Montreal Expos in the expansion draft. As I mentioned in the Curt Flood post below, the Expos attempted to trade Donn Clendenon to the Astros in January 1969 for Rusty Staub. When Clendenon refused to report, Montreal shipped Billingham to Houston as part of the package to salvage that deal.

Billingham pitched for the Astros for 3 seasons (1969-71). Mostly a reliever in the minors and for his 1st two seasons in the bigs, Jack moved into the starting rotation beginning in 1970.

Following the 1971 season, Jack was on the move again. This time, he was part of an 8-player deal with the Reds. The Astros sent 5 players (Billingham, 2B Joe Morgan, SS Denis Menke, and outfielders Cesar Geronimo and Ed Armbrister) to the Reds for 1B Lee May, 2B Tommy Helms, and utilityman Jim Stewart. This seems like a crazy lopsided deal now. The Astros trade Morgan AND FOUR OTHER PLAYERS for Lee May, a fading Tommy Helms, and a scrub IF-OF? It seems like the Reds should have traded May and 1 other player straight-up for Morgan! (But I digress.....)

Adding to the Reds' fleecing of the Astros was that Billingham's career caught fire in Cincinnati. He won 19 games in both 1973 and 1974, and finished in the top 6 in Cy Young voting in both seasons.

Jack pitched for the Reds for 6 seasons, winning (and losing) in double figures in each season. After the 1977 season he was traded to the Tigers, and pitched in Detroit for 2 full seasons and 1 month into the 1980 season.

In mid-May 1980, he was shipped to the Red Sox, but was released a month later.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Curt Flood (#360)

Curt Flood. He was one of the best defensive outfielders of the 1960s, won 7 straight gold gloves from 1963-69, compiled a career .293 batting average, and played in 3 World Series during his 12-year stint as the Cardinals' starting center fielder. But he is probably best remembered now for his career-shortening legal challenge to baseball's reserve system.

Flood was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956, and spent 2 full seasons in the low minors, along with a token call-up at the end of each season.

In December 1957, he was traded to the Cardinals for 3 guys I've never heard of (Marty Kutyna, Willard Schmidt and Ted Wieand). He played 15 games with triple-A Omaha, but on May 3rd, he made his first start in center field for the Cardinals, and held onto that job for the next 12 seasons. Curt was also the Cardinals' leadoff batter from late 1961 until midway through the 1965 season. (Lou Brock, who came to the Cardinals prior the 1964 season, took over as their leadoff batter midway through 1965.)

Following the 1969 season, Flood was traded to the Phillies (along with catcher Tim McCarver, southpaw relief ace Joe Hoerner, and reserve outfielder Byron Browne) for 1st baseman Dick Allen, 2nd baseman Cookie Rojas, and pitcher Jerry Johnson.

OF COURSE he didn't report! In the late 1960s/early 1970s, Phillies' fans knew better than to expect such good fortune to occur! (Oh yeah, there was something about challenging baseball's reserve system too.) After sitting out the 1970 season, the Phillies traded his rights to the Washington Senators, where he played 13 games in 1971 before retiring.

Also check out Flood's 1969 card.

Everyone knows the Curt Flood story by now, but something occurred to me recently. For all the hoopla and notoriety bestowed on Curt Flood for his refusal to report, another player did the same thing a year earlier, but not much was made of that:

Donn Clendenon had been the Pirates' regular 1st baseman for several years, but was left exposed in the expansion draft. He was selected by the Montreal Expos, and subsequently traded to "Houston" (known outside the walls of Topps Inc. as the "Houston Astros") in a package that included Rusty Staub going to Montreal. Clendenon refused to report to the Astros, and the deal was modified, with the Expos keeping Staub. Advantage Clendenon! Later that season, he was traded to the Mets and was their starting 1st baseman in the 1969 World Series.

The backs of these cards have slightly different text, along with the last letter in Clendenon's name. The Expos version has part of the last N missing. This seems to have been drawn in on the Astros version (although it looks like the letter is backwards).