RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Hank Aaron – 1976 Topps #1


Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron  (born February 5, 1934), nicknamed “Hammer,” “Hammerin’ Hank,” and “Bad Henry,” is a retired American baseball player whose Major League Baseball (MLB) career spanned the years 1954 through 1976. Aaron is widely considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. In 1999, editors at The Sporting News ranked Hank Aaron fifth on their list of “Greatest Baseball Players”. After playing with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League and in the minor leagues, Aaron started his major league career in 1954. In his final season, he was the only remaining and last Negro league baseball player on an active major league roster. He played 21 seasons with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves in the National League, and his last two years (1975–76) with the Milwaukee Brewers in the American League. His most notable achievement was breaking the career home run record set by Babe Ruth. During his professional career, Aaron performed at a consistently high level for an extended period of time. He hit 24 or more home runs every year from 1955 through 1973, and is the only player to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least fifteen times. Aaron made the All-Star team every year from 1955 until 1975 and won three Gold Glove Awards. In 1957, he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award, while that same year, the Braves won the World Series, his one World Series victory during his career. In the second half of the 20th Century, Hank Aaron became the first player to lead the National League in runs, home runs, and runs batted in, and not be named Most Valuable Player. Aaron’s consistency helped him to establish a number of important hitting records during his 23-year career. Aaron holds the MLB records for the most career runs batted in (2,297) and the most career extra base hits (1,477). Hank Aaron is also in the top five for career hits with 3,771 (third) and runs with 2,174, which is tied for fourth with Babe Ruth. He is one of only four players to have at least seventeen seasons with 150 or more hits. He also is in second place in home runs (755) and at-bats (12,364), and in third place in games played (3,298).

Gaylord Perry – 1976 Topps #55


Gaylord Jackson Perry (born September 15, 1938 in Williamston, North Carolina) is a former Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. He pitched from 1962-1983 for eight different teams in his career. During a 22-year baseball career, Perry compiled 314 wins, 3,534 strikeouts, and a 3.11 earned run average. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Perry, a five-time All-Star, was the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in each league, winning it in the American League in 1972 with the Cleveland Indians and in the National League in 1978 with the San Diego Padres. He is also distinguished, along with his brother Jim, for being the second-winningest brother combination in baseball history—second only to the knuckleballing Niekro brothers, Phil and Joe. While pitching for the Seattle Mariners in 1982, Perry became the fifteenth member of the 300 win club. Despite Perry’s notoriety for doctoring baseballs (throwing a spitball), and perhaps even more so for making batters think he was throwing them on a regular basis – he even went so far as to title his 1974 autobiography Me and the Spitter – he was not ejected for the illegal practice until August 23, 1982, in his 21st season in the majors. Like most pitchers, Perry was not renowned for his hitting ability, and in his sophomore season of 1963, his manager Alvin Dark is said to have joked, “They’ll put a man on the moon before he hits a home run.” There are other variants on the story, but either way, on July 20, 1969, just an hour after the Apollo 11 spacecraft carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, Perry hit the first home run of his career.

George Brett – 1976 Topps #19


George Howard Brett (born May 15, 1953 in Glen Dale, West Virginia), nicknamed “Mullet”, is a former Major League Baseball third baseman, designated hitter, and first baseman. He played his entire 21-year baseball career for the Kansas City Royals. Brett’s 3,154 career hits are the most by any third baseman in major league history, and 15th all-time. Brett is one of four players in MLB history to accumulate 3,000 hits, 300 home runs, and a career .300 batting average with the others being Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Stan Musial. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. On July 24, 1983, the Royals played the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. In the top of the ninth inning with two out, Brett hit a two-run homer to put the Royals up 5–4. Upon Brett crossing the plate, Yankees manager Billy Martin cited to the umpires a rule that stated that any foreign substance on a bat could extend no further than 18 inches from the knob. The umpires measured the amount of pine tar, a legal substance used by hitters to improve their grip, on Brett’s bat; the pine tar extended about 24 inches. The home plate umpire, Tim McClelland, signaled the player out, ending the game as a Yankees win. An angry Brett charged out of the dugout and was immediately ejected. The Royals protested the game, and American League president Lee MacPhail upheld the protest, reasoning that the bat should have been excluded from future use but the home run should not have been nullified. Amid much controversy, the game was resumed on August 18 from the point of Brett’s home run and ended with a Royals win.

A. L. Home Run Leaders 1975 – 1976 Topps #194


Reginald Martinez “Reggie” Jackson (born May 18, 1946), nicknamed “Mr. October” for his clutch hitting in the postseason with the New York Yankees, is a former American Major League Baseball right fielder. During a 21-year baseball career, he played from 1967-1987 for four different teams. Jackson currently serves as a special advisor to the New York Yankees. He helped win three consecutive World Series titles as a member of the Oakland Athletics in the early 1970s and also helped win two consecutive titles with the New York Yankees. Jackson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.

George Charles Scott, Jr. (born March 23, 1944 in Greenville, Mississippi) is a former first baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Boston Red Sox (1966–71, 1977–79), Milwaukee Brewers (1972–76), Kansas City Royals (1979) and New York Yankees (1979). He batted and threw right-handed.

John Claiborn Mayberry(born February 18, 1949, in Detroit, Michigan) is a former Major League Baseball player who played for the Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees from 1968 to 1982. After his retirement, Mayberry spent five years as a coach for the Blue Jays’ farm system, two years as a coach for the Royals, and worked for the Royals’ Community Affairs Department. He was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1996.

Willie McCovey – 1976 Topps #520


Willie Lee McCovey (born January 10, 1938 in Mobile, Alabama), nicknamed “Mac”, “Big Mac”, and “Stretch”, is a former Major League Baseball first baseman. He played nineteen seasons for the San Francisco Giants, and three more for the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics, between 1959 and 1980. He batted and threw left-handed and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986. One of the most intimidating power hitters of his era, McCovey was called “the scariest hitter in baseball” by pitcher Bob Gibson, an assessment with which Reggie Jackson concurred. McCovey’s powerful swing generated 521 home runs, 231 of which he hit in Candlestick Park, the most hit there by any player, and included a home run of Sept. 16, 1966 described as the longest ever hit in that stadium. McCovey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986. It was his first year of eligibility and he appeared on 346 of 425 ballots cast (81.4 percent). In 1999, he ranked 56th on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Since 1980, the Giants have awarded the Willie Mac Award to honor his spirit and leadership. The inlet of San Francisco Bay beyond the right field fence of AT&T Park, historically known as China Basin, has been redubbed McCovey Cove in his honor. Across McCovey Cove from the park a statue of McCovey was erected and the land on which it stands named McCovey Point. The Giants retired his uniform number 44, which he wore in honor of Hank Aaron, a fellow Mobile, Alabama native. McCovey was inducted to the Afro Sports Hall of Fame [www.afrosportshall.com ], February 7, 2009 in Oakland, California. The mission of the Afro Sports Hall of Fame is to broaden the public’s understanding of African American/Ethnic history and the role of diversity and   tolerance in the growth of professional sports.

Yogi Berra – 1976 Topps #179


Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra (born May 12, 1925) is a former American Major League Baseball catcher, outfielder, and manager. He played almost his entire 19-year baseball career (1946–1965) for the New York Yankees. Berra was one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times and is one of only six managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series. As a player, coach, or manager, Berra appeared in 21 World Series. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Berra is widely regarded as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history. According to the win shares formula developed by sabermetrician Bill James, Berra is the greatest catcher of all time and the 52nd greatest non-pitching player in major-league history. Berra, who quit school after the eighth grade, has a tendency toward malapropism and fracturing the English language. “It ain’t over till it’s over” is arguably his most famous example, often quoted. Simultaneously denying and confirming his reputation, Berra once stated, “I really didn’t say everything I said.” He picked up his famous nickname from a friend, Bobby Hofman, who said he resembled a Hindu holy man (yogi) they had seen in a movie, whenever Berra sat around with arms and legs crossed waiting to bat, or while looking sad after a losing game. Berra appeared in fourteen World Series, winning ten championships, both of which are records. One of the most notable days of Berra’s playing career came when he caught Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, the first of only two no-hitters ever thrown in postseason play. The pictures of Berra leaping into Larsen’s arms following the 27th out are among the sport’s most memorable images. In 1972, Berra was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Thurman Munson – 1976 Topps #650


Thurman Lee Munson (June 7, 1947 – August 2, 1979) was an American Major League Baseball catcher. He played his entire 11-year career for the New York Yankees (1969–1979). A perennial All-Star, Munson is the only Yankee ever to win both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. Born in Akron, Ohio, Munson was selected as the fourth pick of the 1968 Major League Baseball Draft. Munson hit over .300 in his two seasons in the Minor Leagues, establishing himself as a hot prospect. He became the starting catcher late in the 1969 season, when the Yankees were reestablishing themselves after a few losing seasons. Munson played his first complete season in 1970, becoming Rookie of the Year after hitting .302. Considered the “heart and soul” of the Yankees, Munson became the first team captain since Lou Gehrig. He led the Yankees to three consecutive World Series, winning two of them. Munson died at age 32 while practicing how to land his Cessna Citation at Akron-Canton Airport. Munson was pinned by debris and killed by smoke inhalation in the ensuing fire while his two companions escaped 

Steve Carlton – 1976 Topps #355


Steven Norman Carlton  (born December 22, 1944), nicknamed “Lefty”, is a former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. He pitched from 1965-1988 for six different teams in his career, but it is his time with the Philadelphia Phillies where he received his greatest acclaim as a professional and won four Cy Young Awards. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. Carlton has the second-most lifetime strikeouts of any left-handed pitcher (4th overall), and the second-most lifetime wins of any left-handed pitcher (11th overall). He was the first pitcher to win four Cy Young Awards in a career. He held the lifetime strikeout record several times between 1982 and 1984, before his contemporary Nolan Ryan passed him. One of his most remarkable records was accounting for nearly half (46%) of his team’s wins, when he won 27 games for the last-place (59-97) 1972 Phillies. He is still the last National League pitcher to win 25 or more games in one season, as well as the last pitcher from any team to throw more than 300 innings in a season. He also holds the record with the most career balks of any pitcher, with 90. Carlton picked 144 runners off base, by far the most in Major League Baseball since pickoff records began being collected in 1957. Jerry Koosman is second with 82. He never threw a no hitter, but pitched six one-hitters. Carlton was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994 with 96% of the vote, one of the highest percentages ever. The Phillies retired his number 32, and honored him with a statue outside Veterans Stadium that was later moved to Citizens Bank Park (along with a similar statue of fellow Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt).

Pete Rose – 1975 Topps #240


Peter Edward Rose Peter Edward Rose (born April 14, 1941), nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” and “Hose Ose”, is a former Major League Baseball player and manager. Rose played from 1963 to 1986, and managed from 1984 to 1989. Rose, a switch hitter, is the all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053) and outs (10,328). He won three World Series rings, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year Award, and made 17 All-Star appearances at an unequaled five different positions (2B, LF, RF, 3B & 1B). In August 1989, three years after he retired as an active player, Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds, including claims that he bet on his own team. In 1991, the Baseball Hall of Fame formally voted to ban those on the “permanently ineligible” list from induction, after previously excluding such players by informal agreement among voters. In 2004, after years of public denial, Rose admitted to betting on baseball and on, but not against, the Reds. The issue of Rose’s possible re-instatement and election to the Hall of Fame remains a contentious one throughout baseball. On May 5, 1978, Rose became the 13th player in major league history to collect his 3,000th career hit, with a single off Montreal Expos pitcher Steve Rogers. On June 14 in Cincinnati, Rose singled in the first inning off Cubs pitcher Dave Roberts; Rose would proceed to get a hit in every game he played until August 1, making a run at Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak, which had stood virtually unchallenged for 37 years. The streak started quietly, but by the time it had reached 30 games, the media took notice and a pool of reporters accompanied Rose and the Reds to every game. On July 19 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Rose was hitless going into the ninth with his team trailing. He ended up walking in the eighth inning and the streak appeared over. But the Reds managed to bat through their entire lineup, giving Rose another chance to bat in the ninth innning. Facing Ron Reed, Rose laid down a perfect bunt single to extend the streak to 32 games. He would eventually tie Willie Keeler’s 1897 single season National League record at 44 games; but on August 1, the streak came to an end as Gene Garber of the Atlanta Braves struck out Rose in the ninth inning. The competitive Rose was sour after the game, blasting Garber and the Braves for treating the situation “like it was the ninth inning of the 7th game of the World Series” and adding that “Phil Niekro would have given me a fastball to hit.”

Jim Rice – 1976 Topps #340


James Edward “Jim” Rice (born March 8, 1953), nicknamed “Jim Ed”, is a former Major League Baseball left fielder. Jim Rice played his entire career for the Boston Red Sox from 1974 to 1989. An 8-time American League (AL) All-Star, he was named the AL’s Most Valuable Player in 1978 after becoming the first major league player in 19 years to hit for 400 total bases, and went on to become the ninth player to lead the major leagues in total bases in consecutive seasons, and join Ty Cobb as one of two players to lead the AL in total bases three years in a row. He batted .300 seven times, collected 100 runs batted in (RBI) eight times and 200 hits four times, and had eleven seasons with 20 home runs, also leading the league in home runs three times, RBIs and slugging average twice each. In the late 1970s he was part of one of the sport’s great outfields along with Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans, who was his teammate for his entire career; Rice continued the tradition of his predecessors Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski as a power-hitting left fielder who played his entire career for the Red Sox. He ended his career with a .502 slugging average, and then ranked tenth in AL history with 382 home runs; his career marks in homers, hits (2,452), RBI (1,451) and total bases (4,129) remain Red Sox records for a right-handed hitter, with Evans eventually surpassing his Boston records for career runs scored, at bats and extra base hits by a right-handed hitter. When Rice retired, his 1,503 career games in left field ranked seventh in AL history. Rice was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 26, 2009, as the 103rd member voted in by the BBWAA.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: