Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1979 TOPPS BILL MADLOCK

AS CUDDLY AS A WOLVERINE.



GREG MADDUX ONCE HAD 7 PUTOUTS IN A 9-INNING GAME.



THE FRONT PAGE

  • Squat of build at 5-11, 180 pounds, Bill Madlock was put together like a pitbull with a demeanor to match. "Mad Dog'' was more than an equal-opportunity umpire abuser and prized pugilist who was ejected 18 times and burned three times that many bridges. He was a four-time NL batting champion and one of only three right-handed hitters to win multiple crowns since 1960. A well-timed trade during the 1979 season gave Madlock his first taste of the postseason and the "We are Family'' Pirates their final piece of a championship puzzle. In a 15-year career, he batted over .300 in eight full seasons while slashing .305/.365/.442. 

THE BACK PAGE

  • That six-hit game was a wild one at Wrigley Field, with the Cubs losing to the Mets 9-8 in 10 innings. Madlock's sixth hit drove in the Cubs' final run in the 10th, but he was stranded on second as the tying run. In addition to the 17 runs, the teams combined for 29 hits.

PHOTO PLAY

  • Mad Dog looks positively genteel while wearing a helmet that looks two sizes too small. I'd crack a joke, but as you'll see, you poked The Dog at your own risk.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • After coming up with the Senators/Rangers and making his major-league debut in '73, Madlock was traded to the Cubs, along with Vic Harris, for Fergie Jenkins after the season.
  • Replacing Ron Santo at third in '74, Madlock hit .313 in his first full season, the highest average by a Cub third baseman since Stan Hack's .323 in '45.
  • Named an All-Star for the first time in '75 and won his first batting title with a .354 average.
  • Despite playing a corner infield position, Madlock was not a power hitter, averaging only 15 homers a season.
  • Drove in the winning run in the '75 All-Star Game for the Nationals with a two-run single in the ninth off Rich Gossage, breaking a 3-3 tie. Madlock shared MVP honors with Mets pitcher Jon Matlack. The Mad Mat combo was not lacking as it locked down the victory.
  • Madlock vs. Matlack: In 24 plate appearances, he slashed .364/.417/.545 with a homer and six RBI.
  • Madlock needed an outstanding performance in the season's final game in '76 to defend his batting crown. He was five points behind the Reds' Ken Griffey before going 4-for-4 against the Expos. His last hit put him ahead .339-.338. Griffey, who didn't start the Reds' final game, entered to get two at-bats but was hitless and finished with a .336 average.
  • Mad Dog's penchant for swinging his fists as easily as his bat grew old for the Cubs as did his salary complaints. Not surprisingly, he was traded to the Giants in spring '77 in a multi-player deal that brought Bobby Murcer to the North Side.
  • His .336 average in 1,481 at-bats tied the Cubs' franchise career high set by Riggs Stephenson.
  • Madlock spent two-plus seasons in San Francisco, growing frustrated with being asked to play second base, before the Pirates took a chance by trading for him on June 28, 1979. In 85 games, he slashed .328/.390/.469 with seven homers and 44 RBI. He hit .375 in the seven-game World Series victory over the Orioles.
  • Of the six teams Madlock played for, he played the longest with the Pirates (seven seasons).
  • Won his final two batting titles with the Bucs, in '81 with a .341 average and in '83 with a .323 mark.
  • He was the first player to win two batting titles for two teams.
  • Let's take a look at a few notorious incidents when Mad Dog:
  • Was nearly beaned in Double-A Pittsfield in August '71, touching off a brawl in which he started using his bat to crack noggins instead of baseballs. The cops were called and he was suspended for 14 games.
  • Was hit by the Giants' Jim Barr in May '76, triggering a brawl and earning a $500 fine.
  • Criticized the Cubs pitching staff  in August '76 for not protecting him, i.e. retaliating, after he was leading the league in times hit (nine).
  • Was called out on strikes in July '77, fell to his knees and handed the bat to the umpire. He was immediately ejected.
  • Got into a fistfight with Giants teammate John Montefusco in March '78 after The Dog interrupted an interview with The Count. "I've heard and read where Montefusco has said this team is a team of losers,'' Mad Dog barked.
  • Instigated a brawl with the Braves in June '79 after being brushed back by Bo McLaughlin. After popping up, Mad Dog elbowed McLaughlin while running to first. Two days later, he was dealt to the Pirates.
  • Was most notably embroiled in the "Smell the Glove'' incident of May 1, 1980, with umpire Gerry Crawford, who called him out on strikes for the third out. As Mad Dog was arguing, a teammate running onto the field handed him his glove. Continuing to argue, Mad Dog decided to make his point a bit more emphatically by sticking it into Crawford's face. He was suspended 15 days and fined $5,000.
  • Because of a mistake by Total Baseball in the '80s, Madlock was credited with only three batting titles in some circles. In the first and second editions, Total Baseball listed Pete Rose as the '81 strike-season batting champion. No truth to the rumor Mad Dog attempted to track down the Total Baseball statisticians to ''fix'' their calculators. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

1976 TOPPS BERT CAMPANERIS

SHOWING OFF WHAT HE DID BEST.


CAMPY PLAYED BIGGER THAN 5-10, 155.


THE FRONT PAGE

  • Bert Campaneris embodied small ball and was a critical component of the Swingin' A's' dynasty that relied upon fundamentals and speed as much as the long ball. At 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, the lanky Cuban shortstop deftly handled the bat like a pool stick, with few executing the sacrifice bunt as effectively. And few could whip it at a pitcher as effortlessly. More on that later. When he got on base, Campy was the top stolen-base threat for a team that did as much damage on the base paths as in the batter's box. He led the AL in steals six times, retiring with the seventh most in history with 649. He played 19 seasons, was a six-time All-Star and slashed .259/.311/.342.

THE BACK PAGE

  • That homer in Game 7 of the '73 World Series off the Mets' Jon Matlack in the third inning helped the A's win 5-2 for their second of three consecutive titles. 

PHOTO PLAY

  • Campy demonstrates the proper bunting technique. Current players take note.
  • The All-Star badge really dresses up the '76 cards.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • Led the AL in sacrifices in '72 with 10, '77 with 40 and '78 with 25.
  • Campaneris made his major-league debut in July '64 for the Kansas City Athletics and became the second player to hit two home runs in his first game after Bob Nieman in '51. Both came off the Twins' Jim Kaat, the first on the very first pitch he saw in the majors.
  • In '65, Campy ended Luis Aparicio AL stolen-base reign with 51; he also was caught an AL-leading 19 times. He'd lead the AL in steals the next three seasons.
  • Led the AL in triples in '65 with 12.
  • In the A's' first season in Oakland in '68, Campaneris led the AL in hits with 177 and stole a career-high 62 bags.
  • Out of nowhere in '70, he slammed 22 dingers, the first and only time in his career that he reached double-digits. Did they have PEDs back then? He added 64 RBI and 42 steals.
  • The black mark on Campy's career occurred in '72 in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Tigers. Coming to bat in the seventh inning against Lerrin LaGrow, Campaneris already had three hits, two steals and two runs scored. LaGrow hit him on the left ankle and Campaneris responded by helicoptering the bat at the pitcher's head. The benches emptied and Campaneris was suspended for the rest of the ALCS but was allowed to play in the World Series. His suspension included the first seven games of the '73 season.
  • Set an AL record with six double plays turned in an extra-inning game on Sept. 13, 1970.
  • Stole 566 career bases for the A's, a record that stood until '90 when Rickey Henderson surpassed it.
  • Holds the A's' team record for career hits with 1,827.
  • On Sept. 8, 1965, he became the first player to play all nine positions in the same major-league game.
  • The A's' variety of garish multicolored uniforms defined the '70s and none more than Campaneris' sleeveless version, with "Campy'' on the back.


Friday, October 24, 2014

WALL OF FAME




Knowing when to zoom in or out can be the difference between a memorable or forgettable image. It's one of many elements that go into the composition of a photo.

Combined with simplifying the scene and filling the frame, this Don Mattingly Collector's Choice card from 1994 might be worth only a few pennies but a thousand words. 

This is baseball in a pastoral sense, an image you'd professionally frame and turn into 24x36-inch wall hanging. It's more than a man-cave photo; it's gallery worthy for the snooty wine-and-cheese set.

It could've been tightly cropped into a vertical and been just another follow-through shot, emphasizing Matttingly's expression and his customary eye black. 




Lucky for us, it was given the landscape treatment, capturing a moment on a sun-splashed afternoon at the park. It's no stretch to say it could be silhouetted and made into the new MLB logo.

"Saturday in the park
I think it was the Fourth of July.''

Sorry, but that Chicago song plays on a loop when gazing at this card.

The Collector's Choice logo is a bit large, but the position icon counterbalances it nicely. Clean name and team typography don't detract. The subtle horizontal pinstriping is another masterstroke of understatement.

It makes my Wall of Fame. What about yours?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

OBRC: 1992 ACTION PACKED ASG YOGI BERRA

GREAT ON-DECK SHOT.


PROTOTYPE WATERMARK ALWAYS LOOKS IMPRESSIVE.


WHY I LIKE IT

  • Calling Action Packed embossed cards from the junk wax era oddball is a bit of a stretch. Like Sportflics, these carved in cardboard cards have a gimmick look to them, thus qualify as oddball to me. But you don't look at them; you feel them, like a topographic relief map. And, yes, you can feel the creases of Yogi Berra's blousy flannels and pudgy face.  

WHAT'S THE STORY?

  • ASG stands for All-Star Gallery, an 84-card set that honors former All-Stars. However, one of the players featured, Joe Garagiola, was never an All-Star. 
  • As you can see clearly on the back, this is part of a prototype preview set. The other cards are Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, Warren Spahn and Willie Stargell

HOW I ACQUIRED IT

  • Included inside the giveaway bag for the 1992 National in Atlanta.

Monday, October 20, 2014

PURSUE THE PENNANTS: #109 WALT BOND

THE INDIANS SCREWED HIM OVER.


WHAT'S KNOWN AS A 10 GALLON HAT, I RECKON.


WHO'S THE HERO?

  • Walt Bond had one of the best late-season call-ups in major-league history. And it left absolutely no impression on the clueless Indians of the 1960s. In 50 games in '62, he hit .380 with six homers and 17 RBI and slugged .800. The Indians never gave him a chance to start in '63 and traded him to the Astros in the off-season. In '64, his first full season, he hit 20 homers and drove in 85 for Houston. His career tragically lasted only six seasons in which he hit 41 homers with 179 RBI.

WHY IT'S SLICK

  • This was one serious physical specimen at 6-foot-7, 228 pounds. He'd blend right in today.

GROOVY BITS

  • The Indians' handling of Bond was a joke. He was 25 when he debuted in '62 but they brought back 35-year-old Joe Adcock to play first in '63.
  • Bond played nine years in the minors, slashing .299/.341/.488 with 116 HRs and 400 RBI.
  • Diagnosed with leukemia in '62 while in the Army and died from the disease in '67.

BACK IN '65

  • On March 8, 3,500 Marines arrive in South Vietnam, the first American combat troops to join the civil war in the easternmost country in Southeast Asia. The conflict would end 10 years later at an extraordinary cost of human lives, including 58,220 Americans.


Friday, October 17, 2014

FACE TIME: 1982 TOPPS JOEL YOUNGBLOOD



It's one thing to be needed; it's another to be in two places 665 miles apart within a few hours. 

That was the dilemma Joel Youngblood faced on Aug. 4, 1982. 

The versatile infielder/outfielder made the most of it and history in the process.

The Mets traded Youngblood to the Expos after he drove in two runs with a single during their afternoon game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He was yanked from the lineup in the fourth inning and told to get to Philadelphia, stat, where the Expos were playing that night at 7:30.

Looks like Youngblood's '82 Topps card perfectly captures his shock to the timing of the trade.

To complicate matters, he realized in the cab to the airport that he left his glove in the Wrigley clubhouse. He risked missing the plane but retrieved it and made the flight.

Good thing. Youngblood was called on by Manager Jim Fanning to replace right fielder Jerry White in the sixth inning and singled in the seventh. In so doing, he became the first player in major-league history to get hits for two teams in two cities on the same day. 

Another way of looking at it: He played in a twi-night doubleheader with a road trip thrown in the middle. Those hits, by the way, came off Hall of Famers; Fergie Jenkins gave up the two-run single in Chicago, and Steve Carlton surrendered the hit in Philadelphia.

"I just remember that was a very, very long day,'' Youngblood said in '07 on the 25th anniversary of the trade in which pitcher Tom Gorman was later sent to the Mets as the player to be named.

Youngblood split his personal doubleheader, with the Mets beating the Cubs 7-4 and the Expos losing to the Phillies 5-4. In 216 plate appearances in 80 games for the '82 Mets, he slashed .257/.302/.361 with three homers and 29 RBI; with the '82 Expos, he had 104 plate appearances in 40 games, slashing a microscopic .200/.291/.222 with three homers and 21 RBI.

Numbers alone won't tell the story of Youngblood's '82 season. 

Except for these: 2 hits, 2 RBI off 2 Hall of Famers in 2 cities for 2 teams within 24 hours.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

AUTOS FROM THE ARCHIVES: BILLY ZABKA

PLAYED CHARACTERS WHOSE TEETH YOU'D LOVE TO KICK IN.


BUT CAREFUL MESSING WITH THIS BLACK BELT OR HE'LL HUMILIATE YOU IN FRONT OF A CHICK.


THE CARD

  • The second and final The Karate Kid box-topper in the faux 1984 style from the '12 Topps Archives set honoring everyone's favorite Valley Bullies, the Cobra Kais.
  • Billy Zabka played Johnny Lawrence, Sensei John Kreese's evil toadie. If Zabka looked any more smug, he'd be Roger Goodell. 
  • What is it with bad guys and hideous jackets?

THE AUTOGRAPH

  • While Martin Kove added "Sensei'' to his signature on KK-1, Zabka unfortunately didn't add "Sweep The Leg'' on KK-2. 

THE PLAYER ACTOR

  • If Johnny boy didn't give you nightmares about high school bullies, you were one yourself. 
  • After seeing the movie, Zabka's first major Hollywood role, I felt like I went to high school with the guy. I mean, he had the rich-boy bully charm and look down cold. 
  • His role as Chas Osborne in Back to School in 1986, staring Rodney Dangerfield, was basically Johnny Lawrence goes to college to demean the less-cool.