1968 Topps Game
The 1968 Topps Game cards are probably the most popular insert set of the 1960’s. This 33-card set full of Hall of Famers measure just smaller than a standard size 1968 Topps bubble gum card. They were issued with the 1968 regular baseball cards and are very similar to the Topps Red Back and Blue Back sets issued in 1951. The cards were designed to be used as a baseball card game. I also believe that these 1968 Topps Game cards were also sold in complete box sets.
I had picked up about eight of these cards over the last year to go at the back of the 1968 Topps set I am working on. However, I saw an auction for a complete set that I couldn’t say no and also just a smidge over $40. The Mantle has some wear but alone runs anywhere from $20–$40 in this condition.
Looking at the Matty Alou (and Clemente) reminded me to ask Pirates fans or Uni-Watch fans, why did the Pirates have those sewn/glued on rectangle “P” patches on these hats in the 1960’s? No other team did this to my knowledge.
I do wonder, how a couple of players failed to make the cut. Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tony Oliva, Boog Powell just to name a few. Overall, this is a beautiful set and a real winner.
Thanks to this weeks earlier trade with Gavin’s Baseball Card Breakdown blog, I was able to complete five more pages in my 1973 Topps set. Without further ado, lets dive in.
1973 Topps #28–36
Card that completed the page: Jim Breazeale (#33). Jim was a first round pick (#8) in the 1968 amatuer draft. He played parts of 1969, 71, and 72 with the Braves. He then resurfaced SIX years later when the Chicago White Sox purchased him in the 1977 Rule V draft. He appeared in 25 games in 1978 clubbing three homers and batted a robust .208. This is his only Topps card.
Favorite card: If I had to choose, probably the Tug McGraw (#30). The colors just really pop.
Best photograph: Willie Davis (#35) getting out of the way of a high, hard one. Nice Tim McCarver (or John Bateman) cameo as well. A classic 1973 Topps horizontal card.
Best career: Probably a toss up between Hal McRae, Tug McGraw, or Buddy Bell.
Number of Red Sox: Zero.
Past/Future Red Sox: Zero.
Interesting fact: Although only a cameo, but Tim McCarver, in my research, played for the Montreal Expos in 1972, something I was unaware of.
1973 Topps #145–153
Card that completed the page: Al Hrabosky (#153). The Mad Hungarian was drafted 19th overall in the 1969 draft. He finished in the top five for Cy Young Award 1974–75.
Favorite card: Bobby Bonds (#145) racing back to first as Willie Stargell prepares to take the throw at a then astroturfed Candlestick Park.
Best photograph: Bobby Bonds — c’mon it is has “Pops” in a cameo!
Best career: Bobby Bonds was a hell of a ballplayer in the 1970s with his speed, power, and glove. A prototypical five-tool player.
Number of Red Sox: Zero.
Past/Future Red Sox: One — Wilbur Wood (#150) … insert sigh here. Think the Sox could have used a guy like Wood during the late 60’s, early 70’s? I think most defintely. He probably would have sealed the American League East in 1972 and 1973 and possible the pennant.
Interesting fact: Wes Parker (#151) owned first base from 1967–72, snagging six-straight Glove Golve Awards. Then some guy named Steve Garvey showed up.
1973 Topps #343–351
Card that completed the page: Boyhood Photos: Bobby Murcer (#343). One of the 70’s best outfielders looking goofy as a child.
Favorite card: Tom Seaver (#350) A clean spring training image of one of the decades best. If I were a 10-year old boy opening a pack in the Summer of ’73, I’d be stoked to have pulled this card.
Best WORST photography: I hate those boyhood photo cards. Loathe!
Best career: Tom Seaver just OWNING this page. Gaylord Perry and Catfish Hunter did earn trips to Cooperstown, but Terrific Tom was just that.
Number of Red Sox: Zero.
Past/Future Red Sox: Two — Tom Seaver … insert sigh here—again. Acquired by the Red Sox from the White Sox in June 1986, he went 5–7 but got hurt in August and was left off the World Series roster. One wonders if he, not Al Nipper had pitched game four. Dick McAuliffe (#349) would join the Red Sox as a free angent in 1974.
Interesting fact: Rennie Stennett (#348) is one of three players to go 7-for-7 in a game, but did you know that Stennett’s first hit in that game came off starter Rick Reuschel and his seventh was off Rick’s brother Paul Reuschel? I didn’t until now. You’re welcome.
1973 Topps #361–369
Card that completed the page: Brock Davis (#366)
Favorite card: Nothing screams at me, the Sox fan in me picks Rico Petrocelli (#365).
Best photograph: Bill Buckner (#368) … Dodger home whites and palm trees, yes please.
Best career: Bill Buckner was one of the steadiest players once he escaped LA. A hell of a hitter, he was once hated and scorned by Red Sox fans, but 2004 changed all that and now gets a standing ovation whenever he appears ay Fenway Park.
Number of Red Sox: One — Rico Petrocelli is one of the most popular players ever to put on a Red Sox jersey. A two-time All-Star shortstop and veteran of two World Series with the Red Sox, Petrocelli agreed to move to third base in 1971 to make room for future Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio. Rico readily endorsed the deal as being beneficial to the team and agreed to make the change. He reported early to spring training and worked for hours with former Red Sox All-Star third baseman Frank Malzone. The results were amazing. Petrocelli set a major-league record for third basemen with 77 straight games without an error.
Past/Future Red Sox: Two. Rick Wise (#364) and Bill Buckner.
Interesting fact: Both Rick Wise (1971) and Burt Hooton (1972) threw no-hitters that ended in 4-0 scores.
1973 Topps #379–387
Card that completed the page: Jim Barr (#387) had solid 12-year career. Sure not an all star but did finish with a career 3.56 earn run average.
Favorite card: Johnny Bench (#380) screams 1973 Topps Baseball.
Best photograph: Bench racing towards an open dugout to make a basket catch in foul territory.
Best career: The Baseball Bunch’s Johnny Bench — if not the absolutely best catcher of all time, he’s at least on the Mount Rushmore of Catchers.
Number of Red Sox: Zero.
Past/Future Red Sox: Three. Vicente Romo (#381), Diego Segui (#383), and Don Baylor (#384). Baylor’s leadership held the Red Sox together enroute to the 1986 pennant.
Interesting fact: Don Money (#386) made his money by inventing the glow-in-the-dark baseball hat.
1913 National Game
Born on this date 1889, Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Smokey Joe Wood. This was another card I picked up over the last year. Out of all my Pre-War graded cards, this one is my highest graded specimen. It’s a beautiful card of what could have been an all-time great pitcher.
Smokey was by no means large or overpowering, standing just under six feet tall and weighing in at 180 pounds. Concealed in that lanky frame was one of the most overpowering fastballs of the Deadball Era. He anchored the 1912 World Series Champion Red Sox, by going 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA, 35 complete games, and 10 shutouts! Oh, he also threw 344 innings too.
Wood’s reign as one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball history lasted a mere two seasons. And while brief, he left an indelible impression on those who saw his greatness first-hand.
“Without a doubt, Joe Wood was one of the best pitchers I ever faced throughout my entire career.”
– Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer
One of those dominating appearances occurred on July 29, 1911 when Smokey no-hit the St. Louis Browns 5-0. It would be the fifth such feat thrown by a Boston hurler in the early years of the fledgling American League.
His heavy usage would lead to arm troubles. Fast forward to 1915 when he led the American League with a career best 1.49 ERA, in just 157.1 innings of work. Those fears arose in early October when Joe was seen clinging to his shoulder in pain in his final start of the summer, a 3-1 loss to Walter Johnson. He did not factor into Boston’s 4 games to 1 World Series victory over Philadelphia two weeks later.
The Deadball Era is replete with story upon story of pitchers whose careers were cut short by shoulders torn to shreds. Smokey Joe Wood would be elected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in it’s 1995 inaugural class.
“I was the king of the hill, top of the heap, right along with the very best.”
– Smokey Joe Wood, Boston Red Sox
Last week, in the wee hours, I was poking around on Jay Bee’s (cough, cough please re-add my blog …) Sportscard Blog Roll when I was reading Gavin’s Baseball Card Breakdown blog on his pursuit of completing his 1971 Topps set. I didn’t have any of those cards, but did cross off some of his 1964 Topps needs along with 3 or 4 cards from his top ten needs. A couple emails backs and forth and in less than a week, I received these awesome cards!!
First up, a ’59 Topps that I needed as well as five 1965 Topps, including Ken “Hawk” Harrelson’s rookie! Four of these cards fills in some gaps I have in my set in which I am light on Series 4–6.
Next where a bunch of 1973 Topps. I didn’t scan all but these were some that stood out to me. I already have a ’73 Rico, but that one is autographed so not in my set binder. I’m happy to have another “ROOKIE” card—this one Steve Busby, author of two no-hitters. I am missing a bunch of these “ROOKIE” cards but have the biggies in Schmidt, Dewy, and Lopes.
More 73 Topps, this time a collection of ex- and future Red Sox. Poor Romo, that is one serious airbrush hack job. Jim Lonborg would have a couple of solid years as a Phillie, but was never the same pitcher after the 1967 pennant.Gavin’s pile of ’73 Topps help me complete five pages, those I’ll save for another post this week.
I love these 1973 Kellogg’s cards!!! The ’73 set was different in two distinct ways. It was the only year that lacks lenticular 3-D, and second, Kellogg’s offered collectors a way to get the entire set in a mail-away offer, instead of just through boxes of cereal. This makes the cards more common and much more affordable than previous years. For some reason, I have always liked this set. The colors are bold, it has a great checklist, and the picture and print quality far exceeded the Topps set. Heck with these twelve cards plus the Fisk I have that puts me at a quarter of the set. I might be pursuing another set!! Thanks a lot Gavin! Serious though, if you have some of these, hit me up please as this set is from my birth year so might as well go for it.
Some well-loved Hostess Red Sox that I didn’t have. These are the types of cards I wonder where the hell they have traveled since some little kid cut them from a box of chocolate food cakes.
Next up, some love for hopefully the 2016 American League MVP, Mookie Betts!! Didn’t have any of these in my collection!
And lastly, some pretty cool (especially the Betts Hostess) custom cards by Gavin himself!! Nicely done there!!! Thank again Gavin for a great trade!!!
1971 Topps #640–648
Ahhhhh, finally—my 1971 Topps Set is NOW completed! I mentioned last week while going through my other sets, something made me check my 1971 Topps album. Thinking I completed this set almost two years ago, I was rather surprised to see an empty space. I looked up the card on eBay and knew I didn’t have it, so I found one that fit my needs. Enter, Jim Maloney at card #645 to complete this black beauty.
Maloney, a star pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds during the 1960’s, was the author of three no-hitters! Jim was traded to the California Angels on December 15, 1970 for Greg Garrett. He would go 0-3, with a earn run average just north of five while pitching in 13 games.
My favorite card: Frank Robinson (#640). A great looking card against a spring training backdrop. Robinson would go onto to have a heck of a season in 1971 finishing third in the MVP voting behind Vida Blue and Sal Bando. He would lead the O’s to an American League pennant before falling to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.
Number of Red Sox cards: Zero.
Red Sox alumni: One— Juan Pizarro (#647) would pitch for the Sox for parts of the 1968 and 1969 seasons going a combined 6-9 over 25 games. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians on April 19, 1969, along with Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Dick Ellsworth in exchange for Joe Azcue, Vincente Romo, and Sonny Siebert.
Other interesting player of note: Mets Rookie Stars (#648) and Jon Matlack’s rookie card. Jon would go onto win the 1972 National League Rookie of the Year Award by going 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA. He also earned three straight All-Star selections from 1974–1976. The fourth pick in the 1967 amateur draft, Matlack compiled a career won-loss of 125-126 and a 3.18 ERA. He would end his career in 1983 with the Texas Rangers.
Most interesting card back fact: Jim Stewart (#644) caught one inning on August 7, 1970, for the first time in his career. It would be his only appearance behind the plate over a nine year career.
And there you have it, the joy of a completed set—finally!
Born on this date… Just throwing a quick post here for two members of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. Of course, Double XX is also a member of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I picked up these two cards earlier this past spring off of eBay. With the T206 Carrigan, that auction also contained a graded Carrigan Sweet Caporal Pin too. I’ll post that item later down the road.
As I sit here watching the Cubs three outs from a trip to you know where, I feel it has the makings of a great Series with the Tribe. But, them again, we have three more outs to deal with….